Does a boat sail in the water or on the water?

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In describing sailing in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay area, which statement is better?

 

Join us for sailing in the South Bay.

Join us for sailing on the South Bay.

asked Jan 05 '13 at 03:21 Tim Petersen New member

A boat sails on the water.

sanjayJan 05 '13 at 03:19

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5 answers


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Hi,

 

Join us for sailing in the South Bay.  

link comment answered Jan 05 '13 at 03:35 sarasbabu New member
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Both in and on are correct for this sentence.  We know that the South Bay is a body of water.  You can sail on top of that body of water.  The South Bay is also a place with geographical confines.  You can sail within that area called the South Bay. 

 

Of course, in and on are not always interchangeable. It definitely makes a difference if something is in a box or on a box. 

 

You wanted to know which one is better for your sentence.  To me, there is just a slight difference in the "feel" of the sentence.  (Maybe it's just me.)  Sailing in the South Bay seems to focus on the location.  Sailing on the South Bay seems to focus more on the sailing. I would use whichever one will be more appealing to the invitees - the location or the activity. 

link comment answered Jan 05 '13 at 05:01 Patty T Grammarly Fellow
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Either is correct, but each carries a slightly different meaning. Around these parts, most would say "let's go sailing on the Bay" or "I went sailing on the Bay last weekend" to describe the act of sailing. When you say "in the South Bay" or "in the Delta" you give greater emphasis to the geographic region than to the act of sailing. But as I said, this is the common usage where I live. You folks south of the San Mateo Bridge may have an entirely different usage.

 

This weekend's weather does not appear to offer good sailing in the South Bay -- 1o knot winds from the southeast, moderate chop, rain Saturday afternoon and Sunday. The central and north bays offer the same weather, but less chop due to the deeper water.

 

I hope this helps.

link edited Jan 05 '13 at 05:10 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Thanks to everyone for the great discussion, even from a fellow sailor! My primary focus is on the sailing itself, but almost as important is the location. As noted by Jeff most people think of sailing along the San Francisco city front, which is a truly a great experience. Not many people think of sailing south of the San Mateo bridge, which is exactly the location I am referring to.

I am going to use "on the South Bay".

Tim PetersenJan 06 '13 at 01:58

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I disgaree. I do not think "IN" the bay is correct. Hopefully your boat will remain on the surface of the water the entire time, only sailing "ON" the bay.

 

Submarines would be IN the bay. Swimmers would be IN the bay. Boats are usually ON the bay.

link answered Jan 05 '13 at 18:32 Tony Proano Expert

But Tim says the South Bay is part of the San Francisco Bay. If you wanted to make clear what part of the bay you will be sailing on, "in" will indicate the confines of the journey, right?

Patty TJan 05 '13 at 20:15

Part of Tim's problem is the use of a mixed geographic term. South Bay is not the name of a body of water (at least not formally), but is the name of a greater subregion of the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area. South Bay = Silicon Valley = Santa Clara County + southern San Mateo and Alameda Counties. It is similar to the East Bay, the Peninsula, and the North Bay. Sailing in the South Bay could mean sailing on the southern portion of San Francisco Bay, or it could mean sailing on one of the South Bay's freshwater reserviors.

Jeff PribylJan 06 '13 at 16:24

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Join us for sailing in the South Bay.

link comment answered Jan 05 '13 at 03:22 sanjay Expert

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