Boating enthusiasts will celebrate the official beginning of the San Francisco Bay sailing season on Sunday, April 24. This annual celebration is like New Year’s Eve for the yachting set. There’s a decorated boat parade, the blessing of the fleet and epic parties at yacht clubs all around the Bay.
The parade sails from the shadows of the Golden Gate Bridge to just past Pier 39. Boats of all sizes are invited to participate. You do not need to be a member of a yacht club or pay a fee to be in the parade.
The Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association (PICYA) has coordinated Opening Day on the Bay since 1917, but the origins go back much farther than that. In the late 19th century, many sailboats and arks (forerunners of today’s floating homes) wintered in Belvedere Lagoon. A drawbridge between the lagoon and San Francisco Bay would be raised each spring to allow pleasure boats and some arks to go to their summer moorings. The raising of the drawbridge signaled the beginning of the pleasure boat season and informal celebrations morphed into a more formal and elaborate parade of boats.