Description of the Berkeley Marina

The Berkeley Marina is one of the largest and oldest yacht harbors in the East Bay. Originally constructed in 1935, the Marina harbor encloses 52 acres of water and can berth over a thousand boats. There is a launch ramp, a boat yard, a fuel dock, facilities for small boat sailing, and launch sites for windsurfing and paddlecraft. There are also sailing schools, non-profit sailing cooperatives, and a yacht club.

Berkeley is at the downwind end of the "fog stream" that pours in through the Golden Gate. Although dense fog usually dissipates before reaching Berkeley, the effect results in excellent air quality, and summer temperatures are seldom uncomfortably hot.

The reliable seabreeze blows every afternoon during all but the winter months. Wind speeds well above 20 knots are typical in the central bay, but the stable marine air forms large wind shadows behind nearby islands and headlands. These provide a variety of microclimates within a short sail of the Berkeley Marina. A typical day of sailing from Berkeley usually involves an upwind departure in the morning when the wind is light to moderate, lunch in the protected lee of an Island or headland, and a fast downwind slide home as the fog rolls in with the strongest late afternoon breeze.

In addition to boat berthing and related services, the Berkeley Marina and associated parks offer a wide range of recreational and educational opportunities not directly related to boating:

  • 90-acre Cesar Chavez Park, a world class kite flying venue and site of Pacific Coast Kite Championships. This park also features a 17-acre off-leash dog park.
  • Shorebird Nature Center, offering tidepool ecology programs for youth and science teachers.
  • The Berkeley Fishing Pier, for license-free fishing.
  • Three great restaurants and a modern hotel and conference center.
  • A popular market/cafe/deli, and several outdoor food vendors.
  • Low-cost sailing and windsurfing opportunities at the Cal Sailing Club or Cal Adventures. Both organizations are open to the public. Cal Sailing Club conducts monthly Open House weekends, inviting the public out for a free introductory sail.
  • A top-rated big-boat sailing school at Olympic Circle Sailing Club.
  • Adventure Playground, a unique playground that offers drop-in daycare.
  • The Berkeley Yacht Club, with an active schedule of races and cruises. There's a race every Friday evening in the summer and almost every Sunday morning in the winter. Drop-in crew are often in demand.
  • An active charter fishing fleet, and a bait shop that also serves as a boat reservation agent.

The various programs offered by public and private organizations span the full range of ages and nautical interests. For example:

One might start as a toddler at the Shorebird Park playground, then graduate to Adventure Playground at age four or five.

When the Berkeley Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program is operational, it's open to children of non-members beginning at age seven or eight.

Tidal zone biology and ecology classes are offered by the Shorebird Nature Center, appropriate for ages five to 13.

The Sea Scouts, with one "ship" based in Berkeley, now offers membership to youth as young as eleven.

By age 15, Cal Sailing Club membership becomes an option, allowing access to a large variety of cooperatively-owned boats.

College students continue in the Cal Sailing Club or Cal Adventures, and can also find crew spots on boats racing out of Berkeley Yacht Club.

Adults with more money and less time can take professional lessons and charter larger boats through Olympic Circle Sailing Club.

And finally, "old farts" find many of their own ilk at Berkeley Yacht Club.

Berkeley Marina is unique in offering this range of "cradle to grave" boating activities. Most of these are available at extremely low cost, without ever owning a boat. The programs are constantly evolving, and the design and infrastructure of the Marina is always being repaired, revised, and expanded.

You will discover something new here on every visit.