Drop by the Berkeley Racing Canoe Center for an introduction to dragon boat racing and recreational paddling. We're at M-Dock in the Berkeley Marina.
Dragon boats are replicas of ancient Chinese river boats. Ours are 48 ft long (not counting the ornamental dragon head and tail) and propelled by up to 24 paddlers. There is an active local racing league with High School, college, adult and senior divisions.
The first two on-the-water sessions are free, then club membership is $100/year and includes unlimited use of kayaks and an outrigger canoe.
Paddles and lifejackets provided, kids welcome if accompanied by parent. Dogs okay too, but it's usually better not to bring them on your first time out.
If Lake Merritt is more convenient, also check out the Oakland Renegades dragon boat team at http://oaklandrenegades.org/