Information about San Francisco Bay Area kiteboarding locations and guidelines.
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A long established windsurfing location, the open expanse along the frontage road adjacent to Interstate 80 between the Emeryville Marina and Berkeley Marina can be an excellent kiteboarding location if conditions are right and your skills are sufficient to ensure that you can stay upwind out of harms way, thus protecting yourself and the public. The new and expanding Bay Trail runs along the waterfront here in between the rocks and the frontage road. On the other side of the frontage road is Interstate 80. Contact between the ever-present public along the Bay Trail and the cars along the frontage road and the highway must be prevented at all costs.
Not a beginner location!
The windsurfing launch at the parking lot and docks next to Cal Adventures, the UCB sailing club, located adjacent to the road leading to the Berkeley Pier is not adequate as a kiting launch, so you need to launch at the smaller beach adjacent to the Point Emery parking lot and peninsula. The Emery Point beach is the location for launching and landing. The longer beach along the frontage road is not suitable due to its close proximity to I-80.
Launching requires a low tide as room is limited and the almost-always onshore wind dictates that you be able to make your way out into the water a bit before you can send your kite. If you need to come in at the frontage road beach you'll often find fishermen; they been fishing there for years so yield to them and show courtesy.
As should be the case with all riding locations, the use of a leash is mandatory.
Make no mistakes when launching or landing and know you can get out quickly and stay upwind; if your kite ends of on the road or highway you will be on the news and your fellow kiters will not be very happy!
Before launching and getting underway, take note of the large cylindrical 4-foot diameter drain covers (if visible) located in between the two beaches and the upright wooden pylons to the north of the beach, to which flags are often attached. Avoid these. Upwind and to left is the channel to the Emeryville Marina. It's marked by a series of pylons with lights through which ships navigate. Keep it clear and yield to traffic. Below the channel you will on accasion see a partially submerged pylon sticking up at a 45 degree angle bobbing up and down. Also consider what your plan will be if something goes wrong. As always, use a kite leash.
If the wind dies and you find yourself unable to return to the Emery Point beach, you will have to come in at the long beach along the frontage road. You will have to dump your kite in the water well in advance of the beach, pull your safety and reel in your kite. No exceptions here as there will no one to catch your kite!
Conditions range from relatively smooth water during 10-15 knot low tide to major chop with higher winds and tides, depending on wind speed, tidal flow and storm activity. In any event, prerequisites to kiting this site include excellent upwind ability, safe and controlled launching and landing, self-rescue techniques and preventing any contact between yourself (and your gear) and the public or constant vehicular traffic.
Don't hesitate to ask the locals for advice.
I have also found that with the shifty wind on the beach, it is a good idea to treat the wind like it is light. Avoid 12:00 with the kite when launching in case changing wind conditions cause it to Hindenburg. Keeping it over at 2:00 with one eye always on it is a safer practice.
Here Comes 2010!!!!
I've got a few questions about the windy season at this location:
What months is the wind consistent; is May good?
What times of day; if I can get there after work at around 5 or 5:30 pm, does the wind generally stick around until sunset?
Is there any weather report that I might check in the morning before work that might give an indication that it'll be good after work? I guess I'm lazy and want to avoid hauling gear to the car every morning; if I leave it in there overnight it will probably disappear like my car radio.
Thanks for the help.
It seems most consistent about 3:00, 3:30, EXPECT the wind to die around 5:30, about that time the wind OFTEN go's "aloft" leaving a good chance for a swim in... (this is caused by a THERMAL BUBBLE that forms near shore)
My experence with PT. Emery was mostly LIMITED FUN (THE WIND often SUCKS)
FLYING your kite up to the road is a HUGH No-NO!!!!
Walking up the "path" with your kite in the air SHOULD result in a BEAT DOWN by the locals-
(non-compliance with the aforementioned GUIDELINES will make you VERY-
Personally I'm surprised kiting has not been banned by the city of Emeryville by now,
Gregory Burton Boyington
May is generally good. Earlier in the season, the wind can be good in the late afternoon/early evening, but never guaranteed. Berkeley can be fickle.. It can come up at 2pm and blow very nicely, but just as easily shut down at 4:30 or 5pm, although this tends to happen in the middle and latter part of the season. Later in the season (late summer/fall) is more chancy. There are no weather reports or day before indicators for Berkeley, although a west pattern with good winds from Crissy through TI down to Berkeley are good indicators. Don't count on iKite to give very accurate East Bay forecasts in general. NWS bay condition forecasts are helpful.
The general rule is if you're local and can get there conveniently and quickly after work when it's good you can probably kite, but on this see the notes following this 'intro'.
I wouldn't say it's a destination to travel to from more than 15 minutes to max. 20-25 minutes away as it can lead to disappointment. The patterns and knowledge of when its good and rewarding come from local knowledge and experience of going there. If you can't go home to get your gear or are too lazy to put it in your car in the morning, then you won't kite. If you want to kite after work, you generally need to be motivated to do so, i.e. deal with your gear appropriately.
*Notes on Berkeley - We post this every year as it is necessary to do so from what we see at the beach every year, so here's goes again.
At minimum, you need to be a solid 2nd or 3rd season kiter with solid upwind skills to kite here. You need to be able to, as required, self-launch, self-land and self-rescue and as soon as sending your kite, make immediate upwind progress - the wind is onshore and downwind from the launch is nothing but trouble - rocks, Bay Trail, Frontage Road. The meter, up at the restaurant, needs to read 19+, and filled in to the launch. There will often be windlines throughout the season, and it won't be filled in, so you need to be able to know from experience and talk to the locals about the conditions to decide if it's worth it.
You need to be able to kite there in a way that protects the public and yourself. The best thing you can do is talk to the locals, watch what they do and ask questions. Pumping your kite, placing it on the often small beach and running your lines in your street clothes then taking your time to change won't gain you points here. Being cool and patient will. A nice guy came by today, and before he did anything, he came to talk and ask a few questions about the spot and get some info, which is great, it's what makes it safe, fun and good for everyone.
See you there,
We always talk to people who don't consider the guidelines and I don't think we've had anyone actually walking the path with a kite up, although if someone did, we would be rather agitated.
Why would the city ban the sport? We (the locals) are genuinely concerned about practices there, we are proactive, we haven't had any incidents involving the public or kiter injuries (likely due to our concern and sensitivity for this spot), and have done a few annual beach cleanups sponsored by the city. Actually, I went last week in the afternoon and spent an hour cleaning the beach and didn't even kite, and it was a very noticeable improvement!
Every year we do see new people there and we need to 'screen' them, so to speak, as we always see some coming to kite there who are simply not up to it there yet, so that takes some effort on everyones part to act in a community fashion. So far so good.
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