San Francisco Bay

I will be visiting San Francisco in a couple of weeks, and I would like to get out and do some paddling in the bay.

Just wondering what is the water temp in SF bay is this time of year? Will I need to bring a wetsuit, or will a pair of swim trunks do?

55 to 60
most people wear wet suits. I have not paddled in the bay. I do not think it is for beginners. you might check out BASK website and see if you could hook up with some of their members.

Here’s their link.


What is your experience level? Connecting with Sea Trek is worthwhile as Sausalito is right at Angel Island and the Gate,you MUST know the tides before heading out.

San Francisco Bay
Generally speaking the Bay is (a) cold,(b)windy and (b) rough.

The hotter it is in the Central Valley, the stronger the afternoon winds that will blow in through the Gate, starting somewhat before noon and increasing in velocity as the afternoon wears on.

Tides through the Gate are strong, and can combine with the winds to build up some pretty good swells.

There are actually three bays ; San Francisco Bay (which extends from S.F/Yerba Buena Island/Oakland south toward Alviso), San Pablo Bay, which is bounded by Yerba Buena Island to the south, Marin County to West and Alameda and Contra Costa counties to the north, and Suisun Bay which extends from the Carquinez Straits Bridge at Vallejo up to about Rio Vista (roughly) at which point it become the Delta area of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.

I assume you are referring to that portion of this great inland sea which is part of S.F. Bay proper and lies between Tiburon and Angel Island in Marin County and the City of San Francisco.

For the the easiest paddling I would recommend the Morning hours before about 10:30, and the area of Richardsons Bay off Sausalito, just north of Angel Island, which is protected by from the full blast of winds through the Gate.

The lee (eastern) tip of Angel Island is often so wind free you could light a match, but venture another 50 feet or so to the south and the full blast of the afternoon gale through the Gate will belt you with shocking force! Be psychologically prepared!

The area between Angel Island and the Tiburon Peninsula is known as the Raccoon Straits. The bottom shoals there and you may run into a very confused chop when the tide is going out in the afternoon. Nothing a decent kayaker can’t handle.

Tip: The El Toro sailing pram clubs hold a race called “The Bull Ship Race” in the winter from Marin County to the St. Francis Yacht Club in S.F. The El Toro is an 8 ft. pram, and they way they do it is to pick a morning time when the ebb tide is diminishing, sail close to the Marine shore and then cross the Gate to the San Francisco side when the tide is slack. After that they can sail west down along the S.F. shore to the yacht club because in incoming flood tide sets up a reverse current along the San Francisco shore.

I don’t know if this would work in the Summer, however, and you’d better check to see if you can land at the SF Yacht Club too. They are the ritziest in Northern California may not allow a mere kayak paddled by a member of the hoi polloi into their yacht harbor.



san fran
per the weather channel the water temp today in San Fran is 58 brrrrr.

Better to be safe, you can always cool off. Where were you planning on paddling, maybe from San Fran., Sauasalito, Alameda/Oakland, Berkeley area? You’ve been given some good ideas already. You can launch from HorshoeCove (Presidio Yacht Club) or Sausalito by SeaTrek, Jack London Square (Calif. Canoe&Kayak), Alameda Beach, Berkeley Marina or Coyote Point. If you want/need a partner, e-mail me, maybe we can work out something, have boat & rack.

city kayak has rental and tours in the SF waterfront also.

Sausalito (Sea Trek) to Horseshoe Cove
Paddled this yesterday. Winds were up to 20knts, especially as we turned directly toward the Gate at Yellow Bluff. Thought some of the gusts might blow me over. Quit a bit of chop and confused seas. Definitely wear a wet suit and carry safety gear, paddle float, ets., and check the tides. You can rent from SeaTrek on Richardson Bay, sometimes referred to as Hurricane Alley, or from CCK in Oakland at Jack London Square, for a more protected paddle, 3 miles to the Bay past container ship loading docks.

Warning, Very Strong Currents

– Last Updated: Aug-09-04 5:34 PM EST –

The currents under the Golden Gate can run to 6-7 MPH. That is faster than most kayakers can paddle for any lenght of time.

Avoid that area when the tide is going out. You could end up out in the "Potato Patch" and it is VERY rough. If you get washed out you have to land to the south at Ocean Beach. Very rough shore break, and very hostile local surfers...

You will really need a wetsuit, but a 3mm farmer john should be fine for summer.

SF Bay does not have the best water quality. Not the best place for roll practice.

If you get a chance, drive on down to Santa Cruz or Monterrey for a trip, but that is open coast, and even in summer a bit rougher than the Atlantic. Go early before the wind picks up in the afternoon.

San Francisco Bay
By all means, wear a wetsuit. This time of the year the winds are up and the bay can get real choppy. If you want a taste of the Bay without undue exposure, try going out of Seatrek in Sausalito. YOu can paddle to the mouth of Richardson Bay, check out the action and decide from there where your comfort level will allow you to go. Alway keeep in mind what the tides and wind are doing if you venture out into the bay.