Support Boat Information

Bay Parade Boats

Join Baykeeper's Bay Parade on Sunday, August 11! Motorized sailboats, motorboats, and inflatables are needed to support solo swimmers and swim teams. Rowboats are needed to escort swimmers along the course. Your participation provides critical support for the fun and safety of this event.

Boats are also needed for specific tasks such as hosting event photographers, timekeepers, and other roles. If you are interested in one of these roles, email for more information.

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Event Details

Registration |  Swim Teams |  Course Details  |  Event Schedule  |  Boat Requirements

Finale  |  Support Crew  |  After Party  |  Golden Rivet Award

REGISTRATION: Boat captains must register to participate as a boat in the Bay Parade. Everyone else on board must also register as a boater volunteer. There is no registration fee; fundraising is optional but encouraged.

SWIM TEAM ASSIGNMENT: If you have already made arrangements to escort a swimmer or swim team, you'll be asked to provide details when you register. If you are not yet paired with swimmer(s), you can still register as a swimmer support boat. We will pair you with a solo swimmer or team to support.


  1. Support boats pick up their assigned swimmer(s) and deliver them to the swim course start point. All swim support vessels should be at the swim course start point at the designated arrival time.
  2. Swimmers may participate solo; on a timed, four-person relay team; or on an open relay team. Swimmers are provided with Bay Parade swim caps in one of three colors that correspond to their swim division. Swim times will be captured by timekeeping boats positioned at the beginning and end of the course.
  3. Swimmers jump from support boats near the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge, and finish outside McCovey Cove, approximately 6.5 miles (5.7 nm). The swim is expected to take between 2.5 and 3 hours, depending on swimmer speed.
  4. All swimmers must be at the breakwater outside McCovey Cove by the designated arrival time to participate in the Bay Parade finale. Swimmers may be repositioned at the discretion of the Swim Director if it appears that the deadline will not be met. In this event, boat captains will be requested to reposition their swimmer(s) as directed by the Swim Director via radio.
  5. The course is the same for all swimmers and support boats.
  6. Note that swim organizers may adjust the schedule and timing of the event closer to the swim date as needed, depending on latest conditions in the Bay.


Exact timing is subject to change. Detailed instructions will be emailed to participants prior to the event.

  • 9:45am - Swimmers and boaters arrive at the swim start at the Golden Gate Bridge
  • 10:00am - All swimmers begin their swim course
  • By 12:30pm - Swimmers arrive at the swim finish at the breakwater outside McCovey Cove
  • 12:45pm - Swimmers participate in the Bay Parade Grand Finale in McCovey Cove
  • 1:00-1:15pm - Swimmers exit the water for showers & refreshments while boats dock
  • 1:30-3:30pm - Bay Parade After Party

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  1. Boat must be in full functioning order and motorized boats must be equipped with a functioning motor.
  2. Captain must be experienced and comfortable navigating on the Bay in close proximity to swimmers and other vessels.
  3. Boat must be equipped with a VHF radio tuned to channel 71. VHF radio should be turned on and audible by the captain and/or crew at all times for the duration of the event. Captains shall be in communication via radio with the Swim Director throughout the parade.
    • A second radio is highly recommended (one for swim communication, one for vessel traffic). The Dolphin Swimming and Boating Club has a limited number of radios available to lend out. To inquire about borrowing a radio, send an email to
  4. Boat must be equipped with an "Oscar" flag to fly to indicate when a swimmer is in the water. We will also provide a Bay Parade flag for each boat to fly during the event.
  5. Boat must be equipped with a swim ladder or have low enough sides to allow safe and easy entry/exit by swimmers, and to allow a distressed swimmer to be easily pulled from the water if needed. We also recommend having a first aid kit and additional materials like dry towels and extra blankets for keeping swimmers warm.Bay Parade Swimmer
  6. Motorized boats must have engines turned off when swimmers are boarding the boat from the rear or bow. Engines must be in neutral or turned off when swimmers are boarding the boat from the sides. Boat must have an observer on board dedicated to watching the propeller if there is no propeller guard installed.
  7. Boats should stay in close proximity to their swimmers in the water. Captains will keep close watch on their swimmer(s) in the water and be ready to communicate swimmer status to the Swim Director via radio. Captains must be ready to respond should any needs or issues arise at any point during the swim. An on-the-water EMT crew will be available on the course if medical attention is necessary.
  8. Boaters are requested to participate in a pre-event briefing the week prior to the event. We will offer a briefing by phone at 10:00am on Friday, August 9, to ensure all boaters have complete details on the event plan and expectations.


Bay Parade finale

  1. Once your swimmer(s) pass through the course finish line, meet them on the other side, let them re-board your boat and hold there, waiting for instructions by radio on when they should proceed into the cove for the finale.
  2. Please be sure you make arrangements for how you will meet your swimmer(s) after the finale, before they jump in the water! Swimmers may opt to return to re-board your boat after the finale, or they can swim to the exit point in South Beach Yacht Harbor. If they exit in the harbor, they can have a bag waiting for them at the showers, or you will need to arrange to meet them at the showers with their gear.
  3. The Bay Parade finale takes place in McCovey Cove; swimmers, kayakers, and stand up paddleboarders are filmed in the cove. Boats should stay outside the cove or to the far south side of the cove so they do not block the camera.
  4. After the finale, swimmers either return to their support boats or exit the water at South Beach Yacht Harbor Gate 4, while boats navigate to available berths at South Beach Harbor Dock A. Baykeeper will reserve a limited number of guest berths for support boats; once those are full, boats can dock for a short time at the Pier 40 South Guest Dock. Small boats (zodiacs and rowboats) should raft up in the reserved guest berths, at headwalks, or on the inside of the Pier 40 South Guest Dock.
  5. Pilots and crew who have registered in advance are invited to join the Bay Parade After Party, which will be held on the South Beach Lawn, opposite South Beach Harbor.

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SUPPORT CREW & GUESTS: Everyone planning to be on board a boat must register in order to sign the waiver and receive entry to the after party. There is no registration fee for support boat participants (fundraising is optional). Boat captains are responsible for ensuring that all additional crew on board their vessels are registered with Baykeeper by August 4, 2019.

UNDERAGE PARTICIPANTS: Bay Parade participation is open to those under the age of 18 only with advance approval. Please email to secure approval before registering. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied at the event by a parent or guardian. Registering minors must also have a parent or guardian electronically sign the event waiver agreement in the registration form.

BAY PARADE PARTY: Following the on-the-water portion of the Bay Parade, the Bay Parade After Party will take place from 1:30 to 3:30 pm at South Beach Park, a short walk away from South Beach Harbor. Each support boat captain receives one free ticket to the party. Co-pilots and supporting boat crew also receive one party ticket each when they register for the parade. Additional party tickets are available for purchase for $50 each.

GOLDEN RIVET AWARD: The Golden Rivet recognizes the fastest solo swimmer, fastest swim team, and biggest parade fundraiser from each year's Bay Parade. Captains and their guests are eligible to compete for the fundraising category. Winners' names are engraved on the Golden Rivet plaque.

Plus, the 2019 Golden Rivet Award winners will be invited to attend the Giants game on Monday night, August 26 for an in-game ceremony celebrating the Bay Parade. Winners will be on camera from the stands and featured on the Jumbotron as part of the recognition ceremony.

FUNDRAISING: Volunteers are not required to fundraise as part of their participation in the Bay Parade, but it is encouraged. Reach out to your boater community and let them know you are raising money for San Francisco Baykeeper's work to protect the Bay from pollution and hold polluters accountable! You can create a fundraising page by clicking this link or create a Facebook fundraiser. We have awesome fundraising prizes as well!

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Thank you to our 2019 Bay Parade sponsors:

Bay Parade Sponsors 2019

Swim Across AmericaBay Parade Sponsors

Photos by: Susanne Friedrich (at top) and Clay Schmitz (rowboat)