Support Boat Information

Boat in the Bay Parade


Update Friday, July 13:

If you have already been assigned a role for the event on a boat or as a volunteer, register here to add your name to the participant list. Thank you!

If you have not yet been assigned a role, you can register here. But you must contact Diane Walton, Swim Director, or other participants to find out if there is a role available for you and to get an assignment. Thank you!


Join Baykeeper's Bay Parade on Sunday, July 15! 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.

Event Details

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

Finale  |  Support Crew  |  Rowboats  |  After Party  |  Golden Rivet Award

REGISTRATION: Registration is now closed! Boat captains must register by July 8 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.

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 rowboats should also 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.

Timing updated as of July 6. 

  • 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


Course Map

  1. Boat must be in full functioning order and equipped with a 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 69. 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,
  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.
  6. Engines must be 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 in the week leading up to the event. We will offer a briefing by phone, date and time to be announced, to ensure all boaters have complete details on the event plan and expectations. 


  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 how and when they should proceed into the cove for the finale.
  2. The Bay Parade finale takes place in McCovey Cove; swimmers, kayakers, and stand up paddleboarders are filmed entering the cove by a San Francisco Giants cameraperson standing on the walkway outside AT&T Park. Boats should stay outside the cove or to the far south side of the cove so they do not block the camera.
  3. After the finale, swimmers exit the water at South Beach Yacht Harbor Gate 4, while boats navigate to available berths at South Beach Harbor Dock A. Baykeeper has reserved 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.
  4. 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.

SUPPORT CREW: 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 the deadline.

UNDERAGE PARTICIPANTS: Bay Parade participation is open to those under the age of 18. 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.

ROWBOATS: Rowboats are needed to support the swim to ensure the safety of all participants.

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 will be 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. There will be other exciting prizes for all fundraising participants who reach certain fundraising targets.

Thank you to our 2018 Bay Parade sponsors:

Bay Parade Sponsors

Oru KayakSwim Across America

Photo by Roger Cunningham