FAQs

Help Center

  • Where is OCSC located?

    OCSC Sailing is located in the heart of San Francisco Bay, directly across the Bay from the Golden Gate Bridge in the Berkeley Marina. Our location is unique in that it allows you to sail in minutes in one the world’s premier sailing venues, in the best wind it has to offer. The high winds, tides, and marine activity on San Francisco Bay make it a challenging yet rewarding location to learn to sail, and it is often said that if you can learn to sail here, you can sail almost anywhere. And, you have all of the Central Bay’s wonderful sailing destinations to explore! Angel Island, Sausalito, and the city front are just a few hours away by wind.

  • What facilities does OCSC have?

    The OCSC campus includes three docks in the Berkeley Marina, a clubroom, pro shop, several classrooms, outdoor patio and picnic areas, and provides everything needed for beginning to advanced sailors including gloves, foul weather gear, boots, hats, knives, navigation equipment, and books. Our fleet of 50 instruction and charter boats are all conveniently located within a few steps of the main building. The upstairs clubroom overlooks San Francisco Bay, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, and the city of San Francisco, making it a wonderful place for students and members to gather, and an ideal facility for special events, lectures, seminars, and other activities. Two large, well-equipped classrooms are available for classroom instruction. The pro shop is located in the main office.

  • How long has OCSC been offering sailing instruction?

    OCSC has provided sailing instruction and affordable sailing on San Francisco Bay since 1979.

  • What makes people choose OCSC?

    OCSC is the largest single-location sailing club on the West Coast with an ongoing commitment to inspire confidence in sailors new and experienced, young and old, male and female, serious and recreational, in one of the world's most exciting locations. OCSC has developed and refined a proven training program that accommodates the various learning styles and schedules of everyone who wants to learn to sail. The facilities and fleet are world-class, and the OCSC staff is focused on making sailing fun and fulfilling for everyone. With a variety of courses, seminars, social activities, and events, there’s always something going on at OCSC, which makes it a special place for sailors.

  • What does “OCSC” stand for?

    OCSC was originally the “Olympic Circle Sailing Club”, named after a circular array of buoys located just outside the Berkeley Marina. As OCSC grew in popularity, we adopted the initials by which everyone was referring to us. You will still find old salts referring to the Olympic Circle Sailing Club, but “OCSC” has now become synonymous with premier sailing instruction and sailing club activities on San Francisco Bay.

  • I will be visiting from out of town. Where can I stay while sailing with OCSC?

    The most convenient option available is the Doubletree Hotel in the Berkeley Marina, located a stone's throw from our docks. The Doubletree offers a special OCSC client discount room rate. The Woodfin Suites and the Courtyard Marriot in Emeryville are also great choices, as is the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. If you're on a budget, you can also stay overnight on one of our class boats.

  • Why choose OCSC?

    OCSC delivers the highest standard of instruction, sailing from the best location on San Francisco Bay, with the most well-maintained fleet available. Our location in the Berkeley Marina is unique in allowing you to be sailing in minutes, in the best wind the Bay has to offer, and with the Central Bay and all of its wonderful sailing destinations directly in front of you. No motoring down a long channel to get to the wind! The combination of OCSC’s high standards and the consistently fresh breeze in our training venue sets you up for success in your sailing endeavors worldwide. In addition, our low student-to-instructor ratio and course guarantee mean that you will get the most out of each and every course you take with us. And membership with OCSC’s unique sailing club provides you with access to the charter fleet, the ability to connect with other qualified sailors through our online Crew List, and a host of social and sailing-related activities.

  • What courses does OCSC offer?

    OCSC offers a comprehensive series of courses that can take you all from way from beginning sailor to offshore cruiser. The core US Sailing certification courses are Basic Keelboat (“crew certification”), Basic Cruising (“skipper certification”), and Bareboat Cruising (“big boat skipper certification”). We also offer advanced US Sailing certification courses in Coastal Navigation, Coastal Passagemaking, Celestial Navigation, and Offshore Passagemaking. OCSC also offers specialized courses in performance sailing (both symmetrical and asymmetrical spinnakers) and a crew course.

  • How long are the courses?

    The core courses – Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, and Bareboat Cruising – are offered in two formats, weekend or mid-week. The weekend format consists of two weekends, so you get four full days of on-the-water instruction. The mid-week format is Monday through Friday (you get an extra day of on-the-water practice). You can choose whichever format best fits your schedule. Other courses vary between one day and one week, depending on the subject.

  • How much of the course will I actually be out sailing?

    You will be on the water almost the entire time! There will be a brief “chalk talk” on your first day of Basic Keelboat, and during Basic Cruising and Bareboat Cruising there will be brief lectures on topics such as navigation and sail shaping worked in during lunchtime, but the focus of the courses is hands-on sailing.

  • Is there any classroom instruction included?

    Yes. The core courses all include free Study Halls in Seamanship and Navigation, which you attend as your schedule allows. The Study Halls are offered on a rotating schedule, including periodic evenings and weekends. In the Study Halls you get more in-depth knowledge on topics such as right-of-way rules, boat equipment, knots, aids to navigation, chart reading, etc.

  • What type of boat will I be sailing?

    The Basic Keelboat and Basic Cruising courses are taught aboard the J/24, a fast, responsive, and stable performance sailboat, ideal for learning. The J/24 is one of the most popular keelboats under 30 feet ever built, and the skills learned on this safe and versatile 24-foot boat are easily transferable to other, and larger, sailboats.

    Bareboat Cruising starts on a 30 - 32' cruising boat for the first part and moves up to a 35 - 40' boat for the second part. The Catalina 32 and Catalina 36 are examples of the type of boat you will be on for Bareboat Cruising.

  • What is the student-instructor ratio?

    Basic Keelboat and Basic Cruising classes have a maximum of three students and one instructor per boat. While there will sometimes be less, there will never be more. Bareboat Cruising is taught aboard larger boats and allows up to four students and one instructor.

  • What qualifications do your instructors have?

    Our instructors hold U.S. Coast Guard captain licenses, US Sailing instructor certifications, are certified in CPR and First Aid, and all have extensive sailing experience. In addition, OCSC instructors are hired only after a rigorous selection process in which only one of every ten candidates is hired to be an OCSC instructor.

  • What certifications can I receive through OCSC?

    The certification courses include Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, Bareboat Cruising, Coastal Navigation, Coastal Passagemaking, Celestial Navigation, and Offshore Passagemaking. Each of these courses are based on the curriculum established by US Sailing, the leading national sailing certification organization, and result in US Sailing certification when completed.

  • Why is certification important and what does it get me?

    US Sailing certification is proof of your achievement and your passport to chartering boats locally or worldwide. Our Basic Keelboat course includes a one-year membership to US Sailing and a logbook in which you keep your certifications and log your sailing time. You can show this logbook to charter companies as evidence of your certification level and sailing experience.

  • How long does it take to get certified?

    Each person takes a different amount of time to learn sailing skills, depending on prior experience, aptitude, and effort.

    For those students requiring additional practice we offer a 60 day course guarantee. This provides students with a 60 day period in which they may take as many complimentary, three-hour long, intensive training periods on the water as they may need to earn their certification.

  • I have prior sailing experience. Do I need to start at the beginning?

    If you are an experienced sailor looking to take additional instruction or charter with OCSC, the best place to start is with a Bay review., a three-hour session on-the-water with an instructor who will evaluate your sailing skills. This will help you determine if you can “challenge” a certification level by taking the practical test at that level. When you pass the practical test and relevant written tests, you can receive US Sailing certification at that level.

  • I’m interested in sailing lessons but I’ve never sailed. Is there a way I can try it out first and see what it’s like?

    Yes! OCSC offers an Intro to Sailing course, a “taste test” of the sport of sailing. The Intro Sail is an affordable, hands-on, three-hour sail with an instructor and a maximum of five other potential students. During the Intro Sail you can get as involved as you want and ask questions of one of our qualified instructors to help you determine if sailing lessons are for you. We offer the Intro to Sailing program every Saturday, year-round.

  • When is the best time of year to learn to sail?

    One of the many advantages of sailing on San Francisco Bay is that you can sail year round. OCSC offers classes and reviews continuously throughout the year, so you can start your lessons at any time. Each season has it’s own unique qualities that lend to the learning experience. Our advice is that you find a time in your schedule that works best for your life and do it then!

  • Do I need to be a member of OCSC to take classes?

    Membership is not required to take classes. Members do, however, receive a 25 percent discount on all courses, as well as charter privileges, access to the Crew List, and a variety of social activities.

  • Can I charter a boat with OCSC or at other places with the Basic Keelboat certification?

    OCSC requires that you have achieved at least the Basic Cruising certification, and be a member, in order to charter our boats. However, in many cases your Basic Keelboat certification will allow you to charter boats in other areas where the conditions are not as challenging. You can check with the particular charter company to see if Basic Keelboat certification is sufficient for chartering in their location.

  • What is required of me before I can charter a boat with OCSC?

    OCSC charters its boats exclusively to OCSC Members. (This is one of the reasons why the fleet is in such excellent condition!) Basic Cruising certification is required to charter our boats under 30’, and Bareboat Cruising certification is required to charter boats over 30’.

  • What type of boats does OCSC have available for charter?

    OCSC has over 50 well-maintained boats in the charter fleet, ranging in size from 24’ to 82’. Our fleet offers everything from training boats to sport boats to large yachts ideal for extended overnight cruises.

  • I haven’t sailed with OCSC but I’m an experienced sailor. Can I charter OCSC boats?

    You'll want to be a member of OCSC and achieve, or challenge, the certification level required for the boat type you wish to sail in order to charter an OCSC boat. Challenging a certification starts with a Bay review, a three-hour session on-the-water with an instructor who will evaluate your sailing skills. This will help you determine what level you should challenge by taking the practical test (on-the-water) for that level. When you pass the practical test and relevant written tests, you can receive US Sailing certification and OCSC charter privileges for boats at that level. Then you're good to go!

  • Who can I take sailing once I'm checked out to charter OCSC boats?

    Once you’re checked out to charter OCSC boats, you can take your family, friends, colleagues, and your new OCSC friends out sailing as often as you wish. For your first two charters with us, we’ll ask that you have another appropriately certified member on board, along with a third adult.

  • Where can I go sailing when I charter a boat?

    The entire San Francisco Bay is available to you! From our location in the Berkeley Marina, a typical day cruise might include a sail to Angel Island for lunch, then over to Sausalito with a reach across the Bay inside of the Golden Gate Bridge, down the San Francisco city front, ending with a beautiful downwind run back to OCSC. Or you can check out McCovey Cove at AT&T Park, visit the restaurants and view the container ships along the Oakland/Alameda Estuary, explore the Sacramento River Delta, or even head up to Petaluma. OCSC training will prepare you to confidently handle the wind, tides, currents, and traffic that make San Francisco Bay among the most challenging, yet exciting sailing venues in the world.

  • What charter options do you offer?

    You can charter a boat for a full-day (23 hours, 9 am to 8 am next day) at any time. We also offer a special “Weekender” charter that allows you to have the boat from 4 pm Friday to 8 am Monday. Half-day charters (any four-hour period) are available on weekdays year-round and weekends November through March.

  • If I am qualified to charter but need crew, can OCSC help me?

    Yes. One of the main benefits of being an OCSC member is gaining access to the “Crew List.” The Crew List is an online email exchange among our members and a very successful way to connect with crewmembers or skippers. Everyone benefits by sharing the crew work, cost, and fun of chartering, while meeting new sailing friends!

  • I am planning a visit to the Bay Area and would like to go sailing. How can I charter a boat from OCSC?

    OCSC offers “skippered charters” for those wishing to get out sailing on San Francisco Bay with a professional captain aboard. A skippered charter accommodates up to six guests, along with one of our professional skippers/instructors, on the boat of your choice. You will be able to get as involved as you want: take the wheel, work the lines, or sit back and relax. You can choose your itinerary and destination, or we will put a cruise together for you. Your skipper will have the boat ready when you arrive. Feel free to call a Club Manager at 800.223.2984 for more information about our skippered charters.

  • My goal is to charter a boat in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Aegean Sea, or elsewhere in paradise. How can OCSC help me realize this dream?

    There are a variety of ways OCSC can help prepare you for a bareboat charter in any of the wonderful sailing destinations around the world. Our course program can help you achieve the US Sailing Bareboat Cruising certification, recognized by leading charter companies in many locations. US Sailing certification from OCSC will make it easier and faster for you to checkout for a bareboat charter (without a skipper aboard for your vacation!). If you’re already certified in Bareboat Cruising or have equivalent experience, Bay reviews can help get you in shape for your charter. OCSC also offers private lessons in which you can focus specifically on the skills most required of you with a bareboat charter. And finally, OCSC organizes several flotillas each year to locations such as the British Virgin Islands, Tahiti, and Croatia! OCSC books the charter fleet and helps you with all arrangements, from travel to provisioning. What better way to enjoy bareboat chartering than with fellow OCSC sailors!

  • Does OCSC charter boats for corporate events?

    Yes! OCSC has a Corporate Events department that specializes in organizing and hosting a variety of sailing events for corporate teambuilding, employee recognition and reward and client entertainment. OCSC’s staff will work with you to develop a customized program for your event, including multiple boats with professional skippers and full sailing gear, use of our clubroom overlooking San Francisco Bay for meetings or presentations, an outdoor barbeque and picnic area, and complete catering.

  • What are the benefits of membership?

    There are many benefits to being a member at OCSC, not the least of which is the special camaraderie that comes from meeting and spending time with others that share your love of sailing. OCSC has approximately 1000 members, all fellow sailors you’ll get to know by sailing together, attending our frequent barbeques, Wednesday Night Sails, seminars, lectures, and many other activities.

  • The primary benefits of membership at OCSC include:
    • Access to over 50 well-maintained boats in the OCSC charter fleet
    • 25% discount on all courses, charters, and club activities
    • Use of the OCSC Crew List, a unique way to connect with other sailors
    • 10% discount in the OCSC Pro Shop
    • and much more …
  • Will membership with OCSC help me connect with other sailors?

    Absolutely! The OCSC Crew List is an online email exchange that our members use daily to find both crewmembers and skippers to sail with. Everyone benefits by sharing the work, cost, and fun of sailing among a group of qualified sailors. Our members connect with each other directly to put their crew together and then split the cost of the charter appropriately, making OCSC an affordable way to go sailing on a variety of high quality boats.

  • What social activities and special events does OCSC offer?

    There’s always something going on at OCSC -- lectures, seminars, movies, …. Examples of some of our special events include seminars on topics such as Weather for Bay Sailors, Cruising Destinations, Sail Trim, or Racing Rules, often with well-known visiting guest lecturers. We host “Sign up to Sail” events where you sign up to go sailing and we take care of organizing the crew and boats. Every month we have Moonlight Sails, a relaxing mid-week sail followed by chili & chowder. And, you can count on OCSC to organize a special charter for all major sailing events on San Francisco Bay – Opening Day on the Bay, Summer Sailstice, Fleet Week, and more.

  • Can membership with OCSC help me connect with other charter companies in the US and around the world?

    As a member of OCSC you gain access to the OCSC Network. OCSC has special arrangements with the leading charter companies worldwide, including The Moorings and Sunsail, offering special discounts to OCSC members. The OCSC Network can also help you get access to a charter boat in other popular sailing locations along the West Coast, including Southern California and the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Does OCSC have any special programs for women?

    Yes, OCSC members have organized a Women Sailors group for monthly daysails and other activities.

  • How much does it cost to become a member of OCSC?

    To become a member you pay a one-time initiation fee of $695, after which you pay just $69 per month to maintain your membership status.

  • Will my spouse, partner, or a friend benefit from my membership?

    Yes. As a member of OCSC you may sponsor one other person, such as a family member or friend, as an Associate Member. This sponsorship allows them to join at a reduced rate of $495 and pay just $49 dollars per month for dues. Associate Members enjoy the same membership benefits as their sponsor.

  • Will my children benefit from my membership?

    Yes. Children under the age of 21 and living at home receive your same 25% discount on all classes and activities.