All things that are not categorized anywhere else (catchall category).

Small Circles - the Gybe

Small Circles - the Gybe

I did a blog a while ago on Small Circles and how to teach it.

I think doing Small Circles is an important skill and rightly a required Junior maneuver, not so much for the circles, but for other things. However, as Nathan has pointed out in the blog comments, doing circles quickly is important in racing, if you're bad.

In Small Circles, there's a lot going on in a short amount of time, so it's a stress test of your sailing skills, your boat control, your weight balance, and your crew communication. Sailing a circle flawlessly (of whatever radius, but constant) is a challenge. One very good Club racer told me that one of the best racing exercise is doing lots of circles in a row, maybe 100.

But really tight circles is a different beast. It has all of the challenges above, but it requires some rudderless techniques to make the turns really fast and tight. My blog of a couple of years ago missed an important thing.

In the blog, I talked about how you do fast upwind and downwind turns, which to me is the real value of learning this. You might have to do either near the dock, combined with a tack or a gybe. But I glossed over the gybe itself, which is an important part of it.

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Rig Failure on a Cruise to Treasure Island

Rig Failure on a Cruise to Treasure Island

When we're going for Senior, in both dinghy and keelboat, we're quizzed on how we would deal with rig failure, a shroud or even worse a forestay. We know the answers, and we carry line and maybe shackles to jerry-rig something, and we think about the extra lines we can use, especially on the keelboats where there are multiple halyards, topping lifts, and the rest.

But it's one thing to "know" how to deal with it, and completely another to deal with it when it happens.

I was doing a dinghy qualifying cruise to Treasure Island under Mark Playsted's supervision. Not a difficult cruise, beat out, run back. It was blowing pretty hard, gusts into the twenties, forecast for higher. We had two Ventures with 3 people in each, which worked out well with one person on the wire a lot of the time going out. 

We were almost to Treasure Island when it happened. I saw Mark on the wire in the other boat go into the water, then I saw the mast at maybe 20 degrees off the vertical. It was clear that they had lost their forestay, and I thought the mast was next. But it wasn't. They were holding the mast up by hand and getting the mainsail down. Within about 15 minutes, Mark had rigged the auxiliary stay to the bow and the boat could sail. They made it back under main and gennaker, and BTW the gennaker took a lot of the load that the missing forestay would have.

It could have been my boat, and I don't think it would have come out so well if it had been. I'm thinking dismasted here. It was great to see how this could be handled, if you do all of the right things quickly.

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Recent Comments
Joel Gussman
Great blog post, John. What material are you using for your 6' and 12' lines that you are carrying in your life jacket?
Sunday, 13 May 2018 09:28
John Bongiovanni
5/16" double-braid. BTW I checked out all of the other Ventures today, and 2 of them were missing rings on the same pin holding t... Read More
Sunday, 13 May 2018 11:33
Timothy Quick
Great post, John. Super helpful.
Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:42
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Dry Capsize on a Quest

Dry Capsize on a Quest

Dry capsize is a very useful skill. It means not going into the water on a capsize and getting into the boat as it comes up. The first part is relatively easy, but the second can be difficult, especially in a Quest.

I went out in some seriously high wind the other day, and I wasn't happy with my dry capsize skills. I hadn't capsized in quite a while, so I was a bit rusty on it. I could get the boat up, but not me in it as it came up. So it was time to practice, which I did.

If you're single-handing or with one crew in high winds, it's important to get someone into the boat when it comes up to get it under control, prevent a re-capsize and prevent it sailing away from you. That said, if you're out with a group of students or inexperienced crew, you shouldn't do it. You want everyone in the water after the capsize, especially if the crew is new to the situation. If they see you climbing up over the hull, they'll all want to do it, which will make your job righting the boat that much harder. Better to get everyone in the water and comfortable and go from there.

So let's assume you're single-handing and you capsize. Getting up on the hull as the boat goes over is no problem, as it happens pretty slowly. You can climb up using the mast as a step or even the hiking straps. When I practice, I find that it's pretty hard to capsize the boat without going into the water. I just have to keep pushing weight to leeward and then climb up when it's past the point of no return.

So you're on the hull and drop down to the centerboard. You should have thought how you're going to lever the boat up. There are several options, depending on how large you are. As yet, there are no righting lines on the Quest (coming, maybe). If you're large, you can just pull on the gunwhale to bring the boat up (I can't do that). The next option is to pull on the jib sheet against the fairlead, NOT against the sail (this works for me, 147 lb. male). That doesn't work for smaller people, so bringing the bow painter around the mast and using it allows you to get far out on the centerboard to bring the boat up.

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Ryan Alder
Good post, the goal of every new dinghy sailor: not getting wet during capsizes anymore! Couple things to add: 1) I think the m... Read More
Thursday, 14 December 2017 16:06
John Bongiovanni
Thanks for the comments, Ryan. They make great sense. I had been puzzling for some time about how to demonstrate capsize recovery... Read More
Thursday, 14 December 2017 22:35
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A quick and dirty guide to asymmetrical spinnakers

A quick and dirty guide to asymmetrical spinnakers
rigging
halyard
bowsprit

Introduction


Many dinghies, including the RS 500, RS Venture, and Laser Bahia, can be equipped with a gennaker, also known as a kite or asymmetrical spinnaker. This large sail can be used effectively on points of sail between a run and a beam reach, and may greatly increase boat speed. It can add a lot of excitement and get you up and planing when the wind might otherwise be insufficient.

The purpose of this short guide is to touch on the finer points of flying the gennaker on a dingy similar to those mentioned above. I assume that the reader is familiar with the basics of dinghy sailing.

Rigging

To rig the gennaker, you should:

  1. Attach the tack of the gennaker to the bowsprit;
  2. Attach the gennaker halyard to the head of the sail;
  3. Run the dowsing line through the retrieval points on the sail;
  4. Attach the gennaker sheets to the clew of the sail;
  5. Run the sheets through the gennaker blocks and tie them off.

 

The trick is to do this all without anything getting tangled up. It can be helpful before starting to first make sure the gennaker is untwisted. You can do this by making sure two of its edges are untwisted; this will automatically untwist the third.

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How to survive 30 knots, or, what to do if you've bitten off more than you can chew

How to Survive 30 knots: class outline (this class was given in CSC Advanced Dinghy several times). The student executes the following nine steps, which are those recommended under the conditions in the title. Under mild conditions, please try to imagine waves over three feet and rain in the face like shotgun pellets.

 

  1. Sail to upwind Junior line.
  2. Capsize
  3. Deploy anchor
  4. Lower mainsail
  5. Right boat
  6. Furl mainsail
  7. Raise anchor
  8. Jibe jib only at least twice (for practice)
  9. Sail back to dock

Notes:

  1. Before launching in exciting conditions, it is wise to carry a radio and to notify the Day Leader they may be needed.
  2. When deploying the anchor, the rode must go out the front of the boat (to keep the bow pointed into the wind) or this maneuver will not work.
  3. Before the drill capsize, please get at least 90% of the way from the rocks to the upwind line. If you capsize too much before you get there, try sailing main only.
  4. It is hard to point very high sailing jib only, and nearly impossible to tack, so to go upwind you need to jibe quickly so as not to lose much ground during the turn. Use this opportunity to practice pointing as high as possible and making quick jibes. Make sure centerboard is fully down, and do not oversheet as this would make it hard to point very high.
  5. If you have an unconscious sailor, particularly one with a head injury, contact the Coast Guard immediately on channel 16.
  6. The Coast Guard will only pick up sailors, not boats. (If you have to go, leave it anchored and maybe the Club can get it back.)
  7. If you need help but can’t reach the Dayleader on 69 (might happen if you’re north of the Berkeley Pier), you might try contacting the Berkeley Marina harbormaster on 68 and asking her to pass a message to the DL.

Supplement: How to survive 40 knots

In an incident in the first half of 2017, on a Thursday race night most of the club’s best sailors were confronted with 40-knot winds. All boats capsized. Most were unable to right their boats even with mainsails down. Only two crews were able to survive with any grace.

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Your Anchor is your Friend

Your Anchor is your Friend

I admire David Fraser's willingness to share his "less than optimal" sailing experiences in these blogs so that others can learn from his mistakes. They say there are those who don't make mistakes (I don't believe that), those who learn from others' mistakes, those who learn from their own mistakes, and those who never learn. Aiming at the second category, I want to imitate David's example by offering a recent experience of my own.

The other day I got to the Club a little early, and thought I'd play with jib-only sailing on a Quest before lessons started.

I left the (Cal Adventures) dock under jib only, having done nothing with the mainsail. I was planning to go out and dock under jib alone a few times before students showed up. That was the plan, at least.

The wind was pretty much westerly, so I was leaving on a beam reach. I knew that jib trim was really important, and that I shouldn't start out pointing too high. But for whatever reason, I couldn't point high at all. No matter what I tried, I was going slowly downwind, toward the rocks. Maybe I wasn't handling it correctly, maybe the Quest can't point high on jib alone, who knows? Sometimes it's you, sometimes it's the boat, sometimes... who knows what it is? What mattered then was that I couldn't do it.

I decided to heave to and get the main up, admitting failure (better than landing on the rocks). The mainsail doesn't always go up easily on the Quests (especially on this one), and it looked like getting the boltrope into the mast track might take some doing. When you're properly hove to, you have some sideways way on--that is, you're slideslipping--and I was going slowly, slowly toward the rocks. I had no idea how long it might take to get the main up.

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Rama Hoetzlein
Thanks for the interesting story. Based on these experiences, I wonder if you have any tips on what to do differently to sail upw... Read More
Tuesday, 11 July 2017 23:11
John Bongiovanni
What I didn't say in the blog was that I went out a few days later and did much better, as the purpose of the blog was the importa... Read More
Friday, 14 July 2017 17:28
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The two-handed drill for puffs and lulls

The two-handed drill for puffs and lulls

A while ago, James Clarkson recommended one of Frank Bethwaite's books on sailing to me. I forget which one, as I now have three of them. They're incredible but incredibly dense, so I'd only recommend them to the "quants" of the sailing community. And even then, you'll read a lot more about  weather systems than you ever wanted to learn, and more detail on everything than you can comprehend. That's how Frank was. He was a pilot (of commercial flying boats, think about that), a meteorologist (the official metereologist of the Austrailian Olympic team in several Olympics in the 1970s), and a sailing fanatic as coach and designer. Three of his kids (sons and daughter) won Olympic medals, and one of them may have invented the gennaker (as always with inventions, there are priority disputes). Frank died in his 90s in 2012.

For the patient reader, there's really wonderful stuff in his books. One is an explanation of why sail twist needs to be very different in light winds than in higher winds (another post?). And there are many others.

One very practical thing I got out of his books was a technique and a teaching technique of how to respond to puffs and lulls. We all know how to do this, we do it, and we teach it to some extent. You have three controls: weight placement (out in a puff, in in a lull), tiller (pinch in a puff if the boat can do it, fall off in a lull), and sheet (easy in a puff, trim in a lull, not just mainsheet, but also jibsheet if you're really concerned about speed). I tell basic students that they have these three controls, and to use one or more  of them when they get a puff (at this point in their development, they're not so worried about lulls).

Frank was obsessed with keeping the boat flat and as fast as it can go (these are correlated). Assuming a decent wind, you're hiked out. We're assunming you have the tiller extension in one hand and the mainsheet in the other. A puff will heel the boat to leeward, and a lull will heel it to windward if you don't move your weight in either case. His technique is this: when the boat heels, don't move your weight, but move both hands to the down side, the sheet hand more than the tiller. Never luff.

So in a puff, you're easing the main as you're pointing slightly upwind. In a lull (or in the recovery after a puff), you're doing the opposite - sheeting in the main and pointing slightly downwind.

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gene Golfus
"Both hands away" is the most Wonderful thing i have heard as a beginning student. It is worth it's weight in gold. I would hat... Read More
Sunday, 12 November 2017 21:49
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Why Winter Sailing can be a Great Learning Experience

We are blessed in the Bay Area with incredible summer sailing conditions - 15 to 25 kts every single day from the West to South-West and waves to match. What could be finer?

Fall-Winter-early Spring is problematic. The system that creates the big daily summer winds in gone, so the winds are typically very light, except in storm systems, where they can be over-whelming (35-40 kts, typically from the South). So many just don't sail in the winter. I think this is a mistake, for at least two reasons.

One is that you learn an awful lot about sail trim and boat balance sailing in lighter winds (5 kts or less).

Everything changes, from the way the winds are produced atmospherically to how you set the sails. For example, in lighter winds the wind at the sea surface is practically zero, and difference between the wind there and the wind at the top of the mast is (relatively) large. So you're getting most of your power from the top third of the sail, which you want to keep happy. In higher winds, there isn't that much difference between surface wind and wind at the top of the mast.

In very light winds, the wind may not be strong enough to hold the mainsail and boom to leeward. So you need weight to leeward to tilt the boat enough so that gravity pulls the sail to leeward and forms the sail shape. With the sail shape formed, the wind will power it. And the battens bay not flip on a tack or gybe, so you might have to shake the sail to get that to happen.

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Ryan Alder
We had some really good 15-20knot Southerly winds this weekend, which makes for exciting docking. We get spoiled being in the win... Read More
Monday, 20 February 2017 11:40
John Bongiovanni
Great technique, Ryan. I'll add that you can practice the maneuver before you get to the dock to see how the boat will handle whe... Read More
Wednesday, 22 February 2017 19:54
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End Of Summer Delta Trip

End Of Summer Delta Trip




I'd visited the Delta 3 times previously - all for the ABK windsurfing camp; on the last two occcasions I had organized the trip - and I can tell you, trying to get more than a few windsurfers in one place at the same time with a cohesive set of gear is a challenge.  Being a sucker for punishment, and never having sailed Sherman Island outside of ABK, I organized a club trip back in September for end of summer.  This is a recap.

In the run up, I'd had interest from over 20 indivuduals.  There's usually a lot of attrition and these events, and worse, as the day drew near, the forecast was for sun, but little wind.  At the final count, we ended up with 8 - Myself, Wayne, Dora, Ceci, Christina, Zach, Jamie and Will joining us in the afternoon.   We met at the club bright and early, and loaded up with more gear than we thought we'd possibly need.  As it turned out later, we did need it.

We set off for the hour or so drive.  Even with GPS, where to go isn't completely obvious - after crossing the bidge in Antioch, you drive for about 2 miles, then turn off along a narrow road along a river embankment for a further few miles.  At the end are some new (this year) confusing one way systems and lots dirt due to ongoing construction.  The park itself is at the end, and is $5 to go into the parking area by the "playpen", which is the nominal novice area.   Only Christina and Jamie managed to get slightly lost, but not for long.

As we rigged up, the extra gear we'd broght came into use.  Ceci's sail had no pulley - oops!  Winching the downhaul on Dora's sail, on a non-matching mast, we put the top through the mast sleeve.  Oh man!  And finally, one of the booms was lacking a head.  In the end, everyone ended up with workable gear - at least as much as the wind would allow.

I had hoped to teach some beachstarting - Sherman Island is fantastic for this - but the morning wind barely topped 3-4 knots, so it wasn't really to be.  Despite that, both Christina and Ceci, with some lucky gusts and a little encouragement, did in fact achieve their very first beach start - hooray!



Ceci had graciously offered to prepare both lunch and dinner - also facilitating my vegan requirements - as it turns out, the non-vegan echiladas had been placed too close to a bunch of ants, and had to be picked out!  However, both the enchilads and later, the curry (thankfully non-spicy), despite their simplicity, proved to be a hit with everyone, after some ingeious cooking on the tiny camp stove.



In the afternoon, the wind really died, to perhaps 2-3 knots, and we were reduced to some low-wind practice.  I did venture about half way out in the river to the river marker - not something I'd attempt if there'd been much current (the delta has some quite strong tides), and we were the only sail power on the river; a couple windsurrfing in the morning had gone elsewhere.


Zach showed us some fancy backwinding, and we also saw all kinds of funky things in the river, including both live and dead fish!  Also, strangley, there was an interrmittent "burping" sound, which could not be identified - no doubt a river monster or somesuch.
Apart from the lack of wind, it proved to be a beautiful day.  Unfortunately, a vist that time of the year is always going to be subject to the capriicious wind gods; and although in recent years there has been wind at the end of September, it was not to be.



No matter.  We'll be back.  I'm already planning a trip for Spring.   The ABK California schdule for 2017 has yet to be decided, but that will likely happen at the end of summer too.

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Heart Health: CSC has an AED!

Everyone knows sailing and windsurfing are good for the heart. Even so, CSC periodically sponsors First Aid classes to keep club members knowledgeable of what to do in an emergency.

Back in June, CSC sponsored a CPR/first aid class that went over the new standards in CPR and first aid, and also taught us how to use an AED  (automated external defibrillator). 

Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the US, accounting for 1 in every 4 deaths.

The most common reason for a sudden cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation, which is an arrhythmia that interferes with the heart’s ability to beat properly and pump blood. We were advised to start with CPR (which circulates blood in the body), but a shock from an AED can restore a heartbeat if the arrhythmia is one that's "shockable". 

After taking the class, one of our Executive Committee (Excomm) Members, Joel Gussman, took up the special project to get an AED for the club. Thanks to his efforts, we now have one set up and ready to use in the clubhouse!  In an emergency, we should always call 911 right away, but while we wait for emergency vehicles, we have CPR and the AED to try and help improve the victimes survival chances.

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Treasure Island Cruise

Treasure Island Cruise

On Tuesday April 19th, Mike and Nathan took Monica and me on a short cruise to Treasure Island. Why only two people? There were more spots on the boats!

It was a perfect day for sailing: the sun was out and a constant breeze blew gently. When I arrived at the club, Nathan and Monica were already getting the boats ready. I quickly changed into a "highly recommended wetsuit"(Did this mean we were aiming at getting wet?), choosing a sleeveless one because the beautiful conditions made me feel fearless.. I helped out as I could. I am new to the club, and what I like about CSC is that you are expected to quickly learn how to be independent on the water. It's both scary and fun— but today I was being fearless, after all.

Mike arrived and we got going pretty quickly. After a smooth beginning (ideal for nice conversations) the wind intensified a little bit and Nathan and I even rose the spinnaker! I was excited to get on the trapeze, something I remembered doing when I was younger. We arrived at Clipper Cove after noon; perfect timing for our picnic lunch. We took the time to enjoy the delicious chocolate brought by Monica and climbed on top of  the Yerba Buena Island to get a nice view of San Francisco.

The way back brought even more fun with swift wind in our back! I stayed on the trapeze almost all the way to the club, getting half soaked indeed but feeling invigorated. Mike and Monica had some trouble with their spinnaker, but enjoyed a nice speed anyway.

Having to put away the boats was only half-sad. You know why? Because I know I'll be going on another CSC cruise soon! 

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Cargo Cult and the Drudgery of Maintenance

Cargo Cult and the Drudgery of Maintenance

"Early theories of cargo cults began from the assumption that practitioners simply failed to understand technology."

New members often express bright enthusiasm for learning to maintain our equipment.  It's common to hear prospective members say how much they want to fix windsurf boards, sailboats, and other gear.

Which is great.  Maintenance by volunteers is a central part of Cal Sailing Club.  It keeps costs low, it teaches a lot about the equipment, and it's a different kind of fun than sailing in a boat or just watching the water with others.

What is the attraction for these bright-eyed would-be Mr. & Ms. Fixits?  Maybe they think that learning it will enable them to have complete mastery of the equipment--ding-free windsurf boards, sheets that zip through blocks with zero friction, outboards that unfailingly leap to life.  Maybe they think they'll become experts, sail around the world on a tiny budget thanks to their clever repairs, keep a quiver of windsurf boards and sails in tip-top shape for pennies, and be able to take on any repair with complete confidence.

If so, they're right, kind of.  If they hang out long enough and do enough work, they'll get pretty good at fixing stuff, and they'll save money on gear and keep it in better shape.

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Demystifying Apparent Wind - Part 3

b2ap3_thumbnail_Apparent-Wind-Downwind.gif

The last in the series - Apparent Wind downwind.

It's hard to steer downwind. The waves toss the boat around more, and if you get tossed too much, you'll gybe when you don't want to. You can capsize on a broad reach in heavy winds and seas.

The biggest thing you have to deal with is apparent wind. On a downwind course, small changes in course, wind speed, and wind direction produce large changes in apparent wind.

We'll use the same 5 kt. true wind we've used before and the same Bahia-like boat. You're almost dead downwind - just 5 degrees short of it. Here's what it looks like:

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Teaching Upwind Sail Trim

Teaching Upwind Sail Trim

We have a teaching philosophy that is unique. Most sailing schools will do a "ground school" for hours before the students get on a boat. The idea is to explain how it all works, so the  student is prepared intellectually for the experience. Our approach is to get them on the water right away and have them just do it - steer the boat, tack, and get the feel for it.

I believe that our approach is correct, up to a point. You need some practice before the sailing theory makes any sense. And my experience as an instructor is that a beginning student will do just fine steering beam reach, tacking, even steering close-hauled without any discussion of how it all works.

The turning point is when they try to control the tiller and the main sheet at the same time. Lots of confusion, including understanding wind direction. Tacking from beam reach to beam reach and seeming to lose the wind (because the sails are trimmed too tightly).

This is the point where they really need an understanding of how it all works. And that's hard to do on the water. You  need an image to show how it works. I believe it's all pretty simple (or at least
can be explained simply), with a visual from above.

The key concept is that upwind (beam reach and higher) the sail is a wing, it works just like the wing of an airplane. Now an airplane wing has to be at a certain angle to the wind, or it doesn't work. Same with a sail. So when you're trimming the sail going upwind, you're keeping the sail at the same angle to the wind all the time.

Let's see what this looks like from above on several points of sail - close hauled, close reach,  and beam reach (click on the diagram to start the animation):

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Sail-Trim.gif

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Recent Comments
Michael Sherrell
This animation is really cool, John. I just wish there was a way to summon it up at will while in the clubhouse during the pre-lau... Read More
Thursday, 19 November 2015 07:14
John Bongiovanni
I agree. In fact, I have just such a model (and a wind diagram) in my car. I used it today to explain slow-sailing on land. I mad... Read More
Thursday, 19 November 2015 16:36
Michael Sherrell
John, if you find some cheap enough at some toy store for example, please pick up one for me and maybe one for the clubhouse. We c... Read More
Thursday, 19 November 2015 20:06
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End of Season/Kid for a Kid party!

End of Season/Kid for a Kid party!

What better way to celebrate Sophie & Tudor bringing a kid into the world than roasting one...a goat that is!

Sophie & Tudor met at CSC a few years ago, got married, and are about to have their first child. It's a true CSC-style love story. Most know Sophie as our fantastic (co-)Port Captain and phenomenal windsurfer. What many may not know is that Sophie got her start at CSC in sailing and taught some of Tudor's first lessons...it's how they met! Sophie's still windsurfing like a boss in her final trimester - who would expect any less?

We hosted a party for Sophie and Tudor yesterday in celebration of the upcoming newest novice CSC member, along with the requisite delicious food. Oh and a bouncy house. Did we mention the bouncy house? (Pro tip: do not get in the bouncy house right after eating 3 desserts. Just, don't.) 

It's been a phenomenal season filled with lots of epic wind and novice sailors and windsurfers learning how to get around using this wind, thing - time for the deliciously warm months of Fall! :)

 

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The Ulimate Yacht Rock List

The Ulimate Yacht Rock List


 

What Rock?

I'm a huge music geek; although my tastes largely run to 70s and 80s music; in various rock forms, stuff many people might consider cheesy.   And so when the question is posed, "Name some songs about sailing", several obvious ones come to mind, and I've been mentally working on such a list for a while.

Now, at CSC we've come to name this broadly "Yacht Rock"; it may have been Ben Lee who first mentioned this term to me. 

Now, if we ask the Internet what the meaning is, we might come across  A list like this.

Which suggest the original meaning was soft rock of various kinds (And also an online video series).  For my list, the song had to actually be about sailing, and so the question was put to the CSC mailing list with a rather deliberate attempt to stir things up, along with my original list.  The additional suggests were pretty mixed, and mostly songs I hadn't heard of (which means they were either very obscure, or submitted by old farts).

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Our Grant from Parks & Rec

Our Grant from Parks & Rec

[Photo copyright owned by & courtesy of Jennifer Kroon

For those of you who may not have heard, or didn't know to begin with, we receive an annual grant from the Department of Boating and Waterways (now Parks and Recreation Department) to teach safe boating in the Bay. Our introductory open house sails, youth rides, beginning dinghy, beginning windsurfing, and keelboating courses and instruction all serve towards providing affordable access to the water for the public, all while teaching safe boating. 

Each year, we write an application for the grant and report on our past year's activities. In addition to all of our regular programming, we also partner with local programs like helping the Berkeley and Albany fire departments train their rescue swimmers by sending some of our fleet out and asking the sailors to act like a bunch of fools for training purposes :)  We also partner with local schools and youth groups to take underserved and minority youth out on the water. For many children on our Youth Rides and youth and adults on our open house introductory sails, this is their VERY first time out on the water! And we get to teach them about the importance of wearing life jackets, safely moving around the boat, getting on and off the boat safely, wearing appropriate attire to avoid hypothermia, etc. 

We recently received the news that we'd be getting our grant again this year (woohoo!) to apply towards a new RS Venture (trainer dinghy), new novice windsurfing boards and sails, and new masts and rigging to keep our fleet well maintained and safe during the summer months. Grant funds should go directly to helping provide access to the water for beginners, and teaching safe boating.

Big thank you to all the volunteers who helped make our programs a big success in 2014! And thank you in advance to those who will help keep our programs strong in 2015. It is hard for all volunteer-run programs like ours to successfully receive funding because they do not provide the level of instruction and structure that we do, so thanks for helping keep the wheels on as well as you all do :) And remember that a big part of why we're here is to take people all the way from fledgling sailors and windsurfers up to superheros taking kids out for their first sail and getting more people out on the water.

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A Sea Tale

b2ap3_thumbnail_nathan-ilten-robyn-gee-engagement-jan-2015.jpg

Unaware of what was about to transpire, the young woman on the bouncing bow clung grimly to the flailing pulpit, searching the horizon for a glimmer of hope. The young man knelt on the pitching foredeck behind her, fishing desperately into his bespoke West Marine foulies pockets for the unique object he believed would end the nightmare of uncertainty. Farther back, in the luxuriously appointed cockpit, the skipper and crew -- all ruggedly handsome -- fought to keep the Pierson Commander from broaching as the famed Emeryville abrolhos wind smacked the vessel, threatening to crush it into an equivariant toric bundle like you see in Macaulay 2. The man on the bow stumbled, lost his balance, and, crying out in what may have been Old Extremely Panicked German, tipped with his secret cargo toward the dark, beckoning waters off the port gunwale, unprotected by any Loos and Company lifelines, with nary a Harken chafe protector in sight.

This was the nightmare scenario. As it turned out, on a recent Monday, Anthony Lunnis, Paco Bellam, and I picked up CSC Senior Skipper Nathan Ilten and his guest Robyn Gee at San Francisco's Pier 1.5 and headed back to Berkeley without incident or wind, silencing the motor as we slipped past the Bay Bridge on a glassy sea as he proposed and she accepted on the foredeck of Portugal Princess.

 

 

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Michael Sherrell
May it be a long and happy one!
Thursday, 12 February 2015 10:31
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Sailing North of the Border

Sailing North of the Border

As many of you know, I recently moved to Vancouver. First order of business: find someplace to sail. Vancouver has lots of sailing options, but if you are looking for dinghy sailing on the cheap, the place to go is the Jericho Sailing Center Association, a non-profit community center for all types of non-powered watersports. Jericho hosts a number of clubs, as well as providing individual boat storage and launching. They have a truly amazing facility with a restaurant and bar, and a balcony providing stellar views of the English Bay and the North Shore Mountains. I'm afraid to say that, at least in terms of view, it beats CSC's bench.

The largest club hosted by Jericho is the University of British Columbia (UBC) sailing club. While Jericho has some other good options as well, I knew that this was the club for me. Like CSC, they are an affordable non-profit cooperative. Lessons are run a little differently: students must register (and pay) for courses offered by professional instructors. Their sailing fleet is very exciting: lots of FJs, Vanguards, and Lasers, 4 RS500s, 2 RS800s, some Hobie Cats, and some Nacra F18 catamarans.  The club also has windsurfers and kayaks.  After boring their head instructor with all the details of my sailing career, I got checked off for their beginner and intermediate boats, and for the RS500 as well after a quick sail with the high performance fleet captain.
 
I really miss two aspects of CSC, though. First of all, the wind. It is a windy day here if we've got ten knots. Since moving here, I haven't even come close to capsizing an RS500; if you've sailed with me in Berkeley, you know that you can't just attribute that to my skill. Secondly, I miss the CSC social scene.  While everyone at UBC sailing is very friendly, there isn't as much natural space for interaction. Since UBC shares the Jericho yard (as opposed to CSC's dedicated facilities), it is difficult to pick out UBC sailors from the others. Also, the formal lesson system doesn't seem to foster as much social interaction as CSC's piecemeal approach.
 
In summary: there are some really sweet boats up here (and nice people, too). If you are here and want to sail, drop me a line. But enjoy CSC while you can, because it is one of a kind!
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David Brown
I actually came to CSC from the UBC Sailing club. I loved the Jericho sailing center's facilities, having a hot shower or grabbing... Read More
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 17:52
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A Couple of Capsize Recovery Tips

Appropriate capsize recovery techniques vary by wind speed, and there are several methods available for righting the boat  in situations where the wind is high and you are unable to keep the boat from re-capsizing. However if you can recover without setting the anchor or having a crew member swim around to the bow to line the boat up into the wind, the recovery will be quicker and easier.

To recover on the first attempt (without re-capsizing) with the least effort in the broadest range of conditions, here are two very useful tips.

First, uncleat the gnav/vang (in addition to the mainsheet & jib), as this will reduce the effect of the wind on the sail when the boat comes back up.

Second, while up on the gunwhale, before stepping onto the centerboard, consider what effect the wind direction will have on the boat once it comes up, and plan the effect the arrangement of your and your crew's weight will have on the boat's balance at that point.

  • If the mast is pointing away from the wind/hull is towards the wind, the crew will be on the downwind side when the boat comes up. Tell the crew to just hang on to the bungees under the gunwhale when the boat comes up, and then come around to the stern to get back in afterwards; when the boat comes up, the person on the centerboard tries their hardest to at least get half way over the gunwhale so as to keep the upwind side weighted down.
  • If the mast is pointed towards the wind (a situation in which a double capsize is very common), the crew will be on the upwind side when the boat comes up. Have them hang onto the hiking straps as the boat comes up so their bodies are draped over the gunwhale. If they  weigh enough--taking the wind's power into account changes the meaning of 'enough'--the person on the centerboard can dry recover, particularly if he/she scrambles quickly across to the upwind side. If the crew is lighter than the person on the centerboard, the person on the centerboard should plan to go down into the water and get back into the boat from the stern (holding on to the boat at all times). 

Under almost all capsize conditions where you're not right by a lee shore or dock, the person on the gunwhale can take as long as they want to consider the situation and to discuss it with the rest of the crew. 

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Yves Parent
In addition, Seamus's trick to easily board from the stern works very well. In this push yourself down in the water and use the mo... Read More
Monday, 18 August 2014 23:21
Francisco Kattan
Nice post, thank you. What is the ideal position of the outhaul during capsize recovery? Tight or loose? and why?
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 09:30
Michael Sherrell
Francisco, never gave the outhaul any thought. It is only tensioned under full sail, of course. If blowing the gnav/vang helps, I ... Read More
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 10:28
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