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Sailing in San Diego

Yesterday, Sailing in San Diego on the Stars & Stripes USA 11; we sailed past the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program which trains bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. The mammals are trained to detect, locate, mark and recover objects in harbors, coastal areas, and at depth in the open sea. The Navy’s Marine Mammal Program has been in Point Loma, San Diego since the 1960’s. Presently there are about 80 dolphins and 40 sea lions. On a regular basis, we watch as a mammal is being trained in San Diego Bay waters.

Everyone is familiar with security patrol dogs, and how some service dogs use their keen sense of smell to detect explosives on land. Since 1959, the U.S. Navy has trained dolphins and sea lions as teammates for our Sailors and Marines to help guard against similar threats underwater.

Dolphins naturally possess the most sophisticated sonar known to science. Mines and other potentially dangerous objects on the ocean floor that are difficult to detect with electronic sonar, especially in coastal shallows or cluttered harbors, are easily found by the dolphins. Both dolphins and sea lions have excellent low light vision and underwater directional hearing that allow them to detect and track undersea targets, even in dark or murky waters. They can also dive hundreds of feet below the surface, without risk of decompression sickness or “the bends” like human divers. Someday it may be possible to complete these missions with underwater drones, but for now technology is no match for the animals.

The Navy’s Marine Mammal Program is just one of many sites we pass while sailing San Diego Bay. Sailing aboard the famous Stars & Stripes sailboat, USA11 is one of the most popular things to do in San Diego.  Stars & Stripes was designed and built to be raced in the 1992 America’s Cup races held in San Diego.

Join us in San Diego as we sail traveling twice as fast as most sailboats. With our interactive experience you’ll not only get a turn at the wheel, but you’re welcome to help grind the winches. With San Diego’s ideal weather, we are able to sail year round. Our website: SailUSA11.com

San Diego Sailing Charter Reviews

I planned a trip online for my boss, co-workers and myself (7 of us) using only the website and a few emailed questions back and forth. You can only imagine the stress that the unknown has when planning a type of excursion such as this.
All of my concerns were for nothing!!! EVERYONE had a wonderful time and has thanked me continuously since our trip.
As a matter of fact, my boss enjoyed it so much that he recommended to our SVP that our company from 5 different markets do this as a team building event next year as part of our DM Conference.
The staff is courteous and the tour of San Diego is incredible!! I am looking forward to next year with great anticipation!!!


I was able to ride the USA-11 two weekends ago when I was in San Diego and it was SO much fun. The crew is super nice and they explained how everything worked. They let you be part of the crew too! I was grinding for a bit and they took the steering wheel for a while: such a powerful and intense feeling!!! You can also sit, relax and enjoy the views. And the views are amazing. I got a ton of amazing pictures, but being on such an amazing sail boat is amazing… You get to see how they all work together to make the boat sail, INTENSE! Loved it!!


My team of operations managers and I signed up for a 4-hour cruise on the Stars and Stripes 11 – sailboat in San Diego. We were all new to the sailboat experience and had an amazing time. The sailboat and crew were incredible! We were offered the opportunity to work with the crew as little or as much as we wanted. Each member of our party was able to steer the sailboat throughout the cruise. We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon sailing out toward the ocean, and then back through the San Diego Bay. Not only did we get to sail past and learn about many of the local attractions, including museums and aircraft carriers, we also had a few dolphin sightings which were exciting for us, since we are from the Midwest. The crew was incredibly friendly and accommodating. We all agreed it was a great adventure and would love to come back again at our conference next year. We would highly reccommend it to anyone.


I definitely recommend it, expecially to those with sailing experience – Captain Lynn can be very generous with the steering wheel


With only a short time in San Diego and a bunch of great things to see and do, I am so glad that we chose this excursion with Sail USA-11. I had contacted Captain Lynn a month prior to our trip and he had mentioned that it was too early to book the trip. He had mentioned that he would get back to me closer to the date. And sure enough Captain Lynn followed through on his word. Because May is a slow time for tourism in San Diego, we didn’t have enough passengers to go out. However at the last minute we luckily had enough passengers to take the sailboat out.

Just like the description on their website you are free to do as much or as little as you like. Captain Lynn was sure to give everyone a turn at the helm. The crew was extremely knowledgeable and helpful, especially Marnie who impressed us with her extensive knowledge of the sailboat and of the area. It was a gorgeous, exhilarating day on the water. I would highly recommend this to anyone visiting San Diego and wants a great view of the city from the bay. No sailing experience is necessary, just bring along your sense of adventure. It was worth every penny and I think my boyfriend is still smiling ear to ear.


why did it take me 5 years in SD to find this? i had a great time and cant wait to go again. i highly recommend htis as a “must do” in san diego! 🙂


I have just returned from a medical meeting in San Diego and took an afternoon off to sail on the USA 11. For me this was an unimagined and unforgettable experience. The USA 11 is the first 78 foot IACC boat built for Dennis Conner for the 1992 America’s Cup race in San Diego. In the spring of that year I had the opportunity to visit the boat on the dock as part of a fundraiser for the team but never anticipated that 18 years later I would have the opportunity to drive her! The boat is perfect in every way. The crew was comprised of highly experienced sailors including the captain (Lynn) co-owner (Mark) and several volunteers. The sail lasts 3 hours and you do not need any sailing experience to love this excursion. All of the passengers can take part in sailing, including driving the boat. It takes 6 people on 3 winch grinders to raise the mainsail. The sail was from Shelter Island through San Diego Bay and under the Coronado bridge before turning about. The scenery was amazing, especially with 3 aircraft carriers of the Pacific Fleet in port, Navy Seals on patrol and a team of Navy divers training a dolphin for underwater bomb detection. This is an experience not to be missed.


My family (4.5 yrs old son, my wife and myself) really enjoyed the experience. It was windy/chlly which made sailing more fun. Numeous tacking and jibing made us busy to balance ourselves. We didn’t find any whales, but we were lucky enough to sail under Coronado bridge. It’s by no means a fancy cruiser with Champagne. Constant 11knots cruising with beatiful landscpe made it worth.


Wonderful trip! We sailed last month and enjoyed every minute of it! The peacefulness of being on the bay and feeling the wind in your hair is unmatched. Everyone had a turn steering the boat. My husband had a great time turning the cranks as the boat changed course. I tried to turn with him but he was too fast for me! There were two birthdays on our trip. One woman even made cupcakes for everyone. Nice!

Boat was very clean and the crew was helpful and friendly. There were sodas/water and snacks provided. I can’t wait to go back next time we are in San Diego. This was definitely the highlight of our trip! Great way to spend an afternoon. Worth every penny!


Arrived at the dock to find the crew waiting and ready to go. A friendly, knowledgeable and active crew they were. After a quick briefing dockside we were quickly motoring out of the marina. The crew had the truly enormous sails up in short order and we cruised all the way out to the mouth of the harbor with a dolphin escort! Here is where the difference between this and an ordinary day cruise became apparent. As we prepared to for our first tack everyone was briefed on how to man the various stations. There is nothing automatic about a race boat …. everybody needs to lend a hand! You will enjoy passimg everybody in the harbor if the wind is good. Sights to be seen close up: Point Loma, several of our Pacific Fleet carriers, submarine pens, downtown San Diego, the Coronado Bridge, and Dolphins!!!! You will enjoy this.