A New Sailor’s Story: Awakening the Sailing Soul

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What people don’t realize about sailing in San Francisco is that it is easy to do.

The Bay Area is teaming with ocean voyagers eager to share their passion with newbies and seasoned sailors alike. I learned this when I moved here last summer. Less than a year after settling in, I found myself sailing once a week, crew member on a racing team, and taking a few sailing lessons every other month.


sailing san francisco bay – photo: kira maixner

I didn’t grow up sailing. I grew up in a landlocked state, Colorado. Winters were cold and covered in snow. My summers were filled with camping and hiking deep in the forests that define the Rocky Mountains. I was lucky when my dad invested in a powerboat, a 19 ft. Crownline, in 2006. I knew I would like boating as soon as I stepped foot on one. However, the allure of sailing is what captured my heart.

kira at the helm – photo: lindsay cokel

My dreams of learning how to sail took shape in July 2013 when I joined a peer-to-peer boat rental startup called GetMyBoat and moved to San Francisco. I knew it was a gateway to setting sail and to get to know the sailing community. Aside from working with boaters from all over the world, I took a closer look at how to get involved. Not surprisingly, I discovered many resources that took me out on the Bay. If you are passionate about learning how to sail, here are a few resources that will ensure you’ll be cruising in no time at all.

Join a sailing club – There are some great sailing clubs on the bay, and millions around the world, that offer private and group lessons, club sails, and a community just as excited about sailing as you are. Most of these clubs require an annual or monthly membership fee. Once you’ve proven your skills, at most clubs you can rent discounted boats ranging from small, day sailboats to 50 ft. luxury cruisers.


there are more than 100 yacht clubs in northern california, many hosting weekly beer can races

Check out beer can races – Most yacht clubs offer casual “beer can races,” friendly sailing competition where racers hone their skills and skippers try out crew. Contact a local club for their schedule and policies.

Take sailing lessons – If you want to speed up the process of learning how to sail, investing in some lessons may be a good fit for you. Learn the lines and lingo, learn from professionals, gain some confidence behind the helm, and get a few certifications.


latitude 38, the west coast’s premiere sailing magazine

Join a crewLatitude 38, a San Francisco-based sailing publication dedicated to providing sailors with the most up-to-date information on cruising the West Coast and the world, has several, easy to browse crew lists and race calendars available online. Just fill out the form and publish the listing. You’ll be sure to hear back from a few captains before long.

kroocial-sailing-appSocialize – Join a sailing group on a site or app like MeetUp or Kroocial. As an active member, you will be privy to scheduled group sails. These outlets will help you connect with sailors of all ages and skill levels.

GetMyBoat – Gather a crew and rent a boat from a local sailor. You can choose between a captained or bareboat charter, day or hourly sails and private or public cruises. Prices vary, but some boats go for as little as $20 and hour.


the getmyboat team

It was through GetMyBoat that I had the opportunity to take my first sail out on the San Francisco Bay. A boat owner in Berkeley invited me to experience the tours he offered through his company. As a non-paying guest, I was assigned as crew – I was thrilled. That day we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge – a view that not many people experience. The iron, coated in that iconic, rusty red, soared above us, stark against the blue sky. My first time sailing on the Bay will stick with me for the rest of my life.


at the base of the golden gate – photo: kira maixner

I know that this is a passion that will continue to grow and it’s far from being over. My addiction for sailing has begun to deplete my bank account, aside from lessons, the fashionista in me is devouring all things sailing from foulies and racing shoes to nautical jewelry and dresses.


the farallon islands – photo: point blue conservation science

I’ve already committed to fundraising and racing for the Leukemia Cup Regatta and I’m searching for a crew to cruise with for the Baja Haha. Ever since I was introduced to the Farallon Islands, I’ve been scheming of how I’ll be able to sail there – preferably during shark season.


sailing under the golden gate – photo: lindsay cokel

I don’t know where this journey will lead and I’m sure my addiction will only get worse. I’m willing to bet this voyage will land me in some tropical destination off the cost of some distant land. I can say I’m excited to find out where I end up, circumnavigation is a dream for the not so far future.

So here’s to sailing, here’s to adventure, and cheers to awakening our sailing souls.

Kira does digital communications for San Francisco-based startup, GetMyBoat. When she has free time, she is learning to sail, daydreaming about travel and exploring the city by bicycle. 

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