1. Wear comfortable, non-restrictive gear and as many temporary pirate tattoos as possible.
2. Get a really, really long tiller.
3. Have awesome background music.
4. Get out there.
All things that are not categorized anywhere else (catchall category).
1. Wear comfortable, non-restrictive gear and as many temporary pirate tattoos as possible.
2. Get a really, really long tiller.
3. Have awesome background music.
4. Get out there.
Sailing in the Bay in a Dinghy can be challenging, to put it mildly. You're exposed to brutal wind, waves, and cold weather. Summer is often colder than spring and fall! And you look like a fashion disaster.
I often get asked about what to wear. Now a wetsuit is key, as we all know. I prefer to wear foul weather gear over my wetsuit to keep the wind chill off and keep the wetsuit from snagging on sticky-out bits on the dinghy.
But where is the style, you say? The panache? What if you're trying to dress to impress? Unfortunately, Armani doesn't make wetsuits. Which these guys took to heart: http://youtu.be/0e_rDFy6VhI . They don't let the fact that they're sailing a 49er get between them and looking good. Brown shoes with a black suit, though? Ouch.
But what if you're not into suits? I've done a bit of field research, and here are my suggestions for your summer dinghy dress style. I did all of my testing in one of our more challenging dinghies, the RS 500. And much of the field research was conducted solo. For maximum science and stuff.
CSC update as of 7/14, we have more than 1,000 members :)
Sunday 7/13 - we had dinghy racing, followed by an Open House and a party afterwards with the first ever performance by the CSC Band. Antony, Scott, and Kaylia serenaded their adoring crowd. Check out the video of one of their original CSC-inspired songs on Cal Sailing Club's facebook page!
We had approximately 200 Open House attendees and one fearless Commander of a Pearson Commander, David Frasier, taking out eager new sailors--you're our hero, David!
July's Junior Sailing Fast Track from 7/7 - 7/11 came and went, and all we've got to show for it is a bunch of lousy pictures. Oh, and we have NINE brand spanking new juniors - congratulations!!
Candidate Senior sailors need to own their own VHF radio. This guide is designed to give some basic orientation on what to look for when shopping for your first handheld VHF radio. This guide is not a generic guide but designed explicitly for use at the Cal Sailing Club, for brief recreational use on dinghies and keelboat cruises inside the bay area. You need a radio for basically two things: contacting the day leader and, in an extreme situation, contacting the Coast Guard. Senior skippers need to have a radio with them in order to sail outside of the Junior area, and will often use them when cruising with other Seniors.
Understand waterproof rating Most models are water proof and submersible, meaning they can be dropped into water and still be functioning when recovered. JIS4 means that the radio is barely splash resistant, JIS8 means the radio is submersible, it can stand for up to 30 minutes below 5' of water. Be careful when reading the descriptions when shopping because it's not uncommon to find JIS4 rated radios claimed as being 'waterproof'.
Floating or not? You want the radio primarily for your own safety, and you want to make sure it is securely attached to you at all times. It isn't going to help you if you leave it on a keelboat but fall off, or you lose it while sailing but don't realize it (a pretty likely occurrence if it isn't secured). For both dinghies and keelboats, assume that you'll end up in the water, so the radio has to be securely attached to you. CSC keelboats have a radio on board, so the portable one is for extra safety. The models that also float can be easier to recover in case they get detached from you but they can be slightly bulkier and more expensive. The extra cost of a floating one can be easily recovered the first time the radio drops in the water (which is not so unlikely, according to stories heard at the club).
Whether you decide to get a floating or non-floating model, make sure that the radio is securely tethered to your gear so that in a capsize it won't be ripped off of you. In general, do not rely just on the clip that attaches the radio to your life vest. In case you go for non-floating, you may want to get a waterproof case for it with enough buoyancy. You have to be careful, though, and take the radio out of the case when you're not using it otherwise the water (vapor) in the case can corrode the radio. The case needs to be securely attached to your life vest.
Power, screen, control and other features to look for 5 watt should be the minimum transmitting power. Rechargeable NiCad or Li-ion batteries are usually provided by the manufacturer, it's nice to have the possibility to put in regular AA batteries, too. Dual scan means that the radio will scan Channel 16 along with another Channel (69 for CSC). This is important because technically any boat under way is required to monitor Channel 16. Any boat carrying a VHF, whether required to or not, is required to monitor Channel 16. So when you're out the bay listening to our Channel 69, you have to also monitor Channel 16. The Dual Scan feature does this. Many VHFs have a triple scan feature, which monitors both Channel 16 and Channel 9 (the standard hailing channel). Squelch is widely used in two-way radios to suppress the annoying sound of channel noise when the radio is not receiving a transmission. Most handheld radios have a separate squelch control to set the threshold to the actual noise that's on the channel, which can vary. Control knobs to adjust volume are generally more usable than push buttons: think you may be wearing gloves or have your fingers slightly incapacitated when you really need to use the radio. If you carry the radio in a case, push buttons to control the radio volume can be better. Make sure that the screen is very visible also in daylight. Backlit displays are useful in low light. Some radios have water-activated lights that should make the radio much easier to locate in the event it goes in the water in low light conditions. A lock mode prevents the buttons to be operated when not needed.
As you may have heard, during the month of April we conducted a racing study group with the intention of improving racing skills, rules and tactics for club members. The group was oversold with 22 members and 4 volunteer instructors. We were fortunate to recruit some of our best racing resources to lead both classroom and on-the-water practice sessions, including Cory Schillaci, Paul Kamen, Seamus Vanecko, and Mark Playsted. In this post I want to share a couple of pictures, Cory's rules quiz handout for you to test your own knowledge of the rules, and the entire tactics classroom session video by Paul Kamen. I did not take pictures from the on-the-water sessions because we were all on the water, but suffice to say it was exciting with up to 11 boats on the water plus this skiff - and with at least one NASCAR style pile up. Fortunately there was no damage or injuries.
Standing room only - we more than filled the Marina conference room
Anthony Lunnis and I organized the May Fast Track for our senior project. We spent two months putting it together by asking volunteers to teach, cook, and/or test, as well as blasting the Cal Sailing listserv. We suggested to every potential Junior that they should join in to get their rating. And sure enough, our excel lists soon filled up with potential participants and volunteers.
Fast Track went off without a hitch…until the last day…when the fire department showed up. They had responded to a call about lots of capsized dinghies in the south sailing basin. Yves is bent over the window of a fire truck in front of the Yard. “Well, Joel here, the Fast Track coordinator, contacted Berkeley Fire Department to let them know we would be doing drills, including capsizing, and not to worry.” I speak up, “I even spoke with a supervisor.” The Fireman nods, “Oh, well there is no supervisor on duty tonight, that’s why. This is our first call all week. No worries.”
I scamper away and down to the dock just in time to hear Jennifer shout, “Be careful, don’t kill another puppy!” as Nathaniel steers a Bahia toward the dock, going a little hot and then S-turning to blow off speed and gliding to a soft landing. “Killing puppies?” I ask. Jennifer responds, “People have been coming in too fast for docking” as if it makes perfect sense to equate hitting the dock with killing cute baby animals. Maybe they’re supposed to picture a puppy between the boat and the dock? Those poor, poor puppies! “We will be working on slow sailing and docking at the next advanced class,” she warns. For the sake of the puppies, of course.
Soon, the sun has set behind Mt. Tam and Hs. Lordships restaurant, making the water radiate a deep blue. The air feels a bit cooler and the last dinghy is on the hoist and swinging around to face its trailer. As it is pushed into the yard I tell the shivering, exhausted, future Junior sailors, “go change out of your wetsuits. We will take care of the sail covers.”
“Are you sure?” they ask, hesitant, as if this still part of their junior test.
Stepping on and off a dinghy with style can be an art. One of the best pieces of advice I received early on in my CSC career (after making it onto the dock still dry by sheer luck) was to commit to stepping off and never looking back! We all fear the dreaded plunge into the murky waters of our beloved dock...to inevitably be witnessed by the many bench sailors and commentators who collect like barnacles around the club house. The key, as beautifully demonstrated here by our soon-to-be Junior sailor Phillipe (and gif-elated by our very talented Jennifer Kroon), is to stay low/keep some bend in the knees, keep hold of the boat to steady yourself as you move forward, and let go as soon as you're ready to step off. Anything else leads to wobbly do-the-splits-ville...and doom. Okay, not really. You're not a full-fledged sailor in my opinion until you've fallen into the water at the dock at least once to wash yourself clean of any dignity you may have been clinging to.
Click the image below for the brief video.
Any other tips for looking like a boss at the dock?
We now have some actual sailing photos in the gallery - the Richmond Bridge Cruise from last weekend.
So how to you get a gallery established and upload photos? Easy, send an email to email@example.com (right now, that's me). I'll create the gallery (and a new folder, if necessary - we're figuring out how to organize these over time). I'll send you a link you can use to upload the photos. You can pass the link on to others, if there were multiple photographers for an event. the upload process is pretty easy.
What is less easy is attaching Captions and Comments to the images. There are two ways to do this:
1. Before you upload the images. You have to use an image editor to insert the Captions and Comments in the image metadata. Specifically you edit the IPTC Core metadata, setting the Headline to what you want the Caption to be, the Description to what you want the Comments to be, and any Keywords you want. I use Photoshop Bridge to do this, but there are other editors, some of them free.
2. If the above made no sense to you, just send me the captions and descriptions you want (by image number in the gallery after you've uploaded them), and I'll insert them for you. After the images are uploaded, only a site admin can do this.
We've changed our Photo Gallery from Flickr to SmugMug (you can also get to it as usual by clicking on Gallery on the Main Menu). This change allows us to organizes the photos better - there's a hierarchy of folders with the photos ultimately in Galleries. Right now there's just one Folder - Training Events, and one Gallery - First Aid and CPR - April 19, 2013. But we will be adding to that. It will also be easier for members to upload their photos for events.
When you bring up SmugMug, you'll see the 12 most recently uploaded images. Scroll down, and you'll see the folders.
You can download full-sized images from SmugMug by clicking on the image to make it full screen, then right-clicking on the image and selecting "Save to File".
We will be moving the photos from the old Flickr site to SmugMug over time, as we don't want to lose them.
The Berkeley Bay Festival Open House on Saturday, April 12 was a huge success with 303 adults and 78 children going out for sails on CSC dinghies and keelboats--that's a whopping 381 people in attendance! We had a big cook-out afterwards with nearly 100 people hanging out and dancing at CSC. We had two phenomenal bands who kept us groovin' throughout the day, and gorgeous weather. Big thank you to everyone who came out and volunteered to provide free sailing to members of the community, teach safe boating, cook massive amounts of food for the volunteers, and show your support (and best dance moves) for CSC! Tide and wind was tough for this one and you all were troopers. See you on Sunday, May 18 for the next OPEN HOUSE!
I'm writing from CV26, Team GREAT Britain's boat, and it's windy and wavy outside! Latitude 43, Longitude 164ish. I was on
'mother watch' today, cooking all the food for the team. While the first two shifts in weeks one and two irked me, it was
admittedly nice to get out of the wet and cold for a day to let my socks and boots dry out! And I now get to sleep 8 hours,
as opposed to 3 to 4.
It's definitely hard work sailing across the Pacific, especially when weather systems pass through and you're caught in a
squall with too much sail up. It usually takes about 5 to 6 people to get anything done from putting a reef in to changing
a head sail (sometimes we wake up both watches to do a big sail change when it's windy), so it can be time consuming and
exhausting to make a few key changes to the sail plan. We have 8 people on our watch, but one is always pulled off to do
'mother' and one has been locked away in the sail locker for over 2 weeks desperately trying to patch our code 2 spinnaker
that we tore into shreds on day 3! I've definitely had some fun surfing down waves in the pitch black night; looking out
over the horizon to see miles and miles of beautiful blue ocean rolling around us; and carving a glittery bioluminescent
path to San Francisco at night...it's gorgeous out here.
There have been a couple of good scares: when we broached with our code 2 spinnaker...a 70 ft yacht on its side where
you're hanging on for dear life while the spinnaker shreds itself into pieces all around you is disconcerting! And when we
gybed before reefing and got hit by a squall with a full main and no preventer to keep from an accidental gybe in big,
rolling seas. When the round the worlders sounded panicked, I knew we were in potentially big trouble. I've had a lot of
perverse CSC esque fun that no one but us would probably enjoy. I got to sit on the bow and lead the head sail change the
other night, clinging to the pulpit (while tethered!) to unhank one sail and get the next one up, with waves crashing onto
the foredeck. The sails are so large you're actually worn out simply from unhanking one sail and hanking the next one on. I
got to climb up bottom of the mast to fix a jammed reefing line while swinging around like a pendulum. And I've gotten to
drive the boat a fair bit. Turns out driving a dinghy downwind with a gennaker trains you well for helming a 70 ft boat at
night when you can't see a darned thing.
Racing at this scale is very different than the day sailing I'm used to at CSC. You learn that course over ground (COG) is
very important. The skipper will pop his head up through the hatch of the nav station and tell you every 30 minutes what
your COG is. We got so sick of hearing the word COG that we started telling each other to 'COG off' as a joke. You're
really not supposed to open that nav station hatch as all the electronics are in there and if a wave breaks over the boat,
the electronics will be fried. I've been tempted to have someone stand behind the hatch with a bucket so when the skipper
pops his head up, I can yell WAVE, and have someone throw the bucket at the hatch so he has to shut it. Ah, a girl can
My point is, you have to stay on course. You can't just ride high to surf down waves to your heart's delight like you can
on a pleasure sail. So here's how you surf a 70 foot yacht.
1. Wait until the skipper is asleep or very distracted. Tell him the sailmakers are having a nervous breakdown in the sail
locker and have started eating thread, or make some vague comment about 'smelling gas'. He'll be off in a hurry.
2. Wait till you see a beautiful mountain of a wave and start heading upwind until crew are dangling from their tethers and
looking at you in panic.
3. Squat and deadlift the helm to turn her downwind. Seriously, the helm is about 1,000 pounds at this point and you've
loaded her up to weather. Keep turning or you're going to be in a lot of trouble soon.
4. Drive down the wave and try not to laugh too hard like a maniac. Look serious like this is a troubling situation that
must be remedied....you can't believe you headed up so far and have now started accelerating down the wave at 20 knts with
fire hoses blasting on either side of your rails.
5. Start heading back upwind like a madman or you'll gybe.
6. Pray you don't accidentally gybe.
7. Seriously pray you don't gybe.
I've hit 23 knts so far. The boat record is 31. I'll keep trying!
That's all for now. I'm mostly kidding about my surfing antics, don't worry. :) They're still letting me drive, so not
gotten us into too much trouble yet!
Can't wait to get back to CSC soon, see you all again and sail in our little corner of the world. I've LOVED the limericks
and haikus, thank you so much for them. The crew get a good laugh out of them and ask about them regularly. It will be hard
to pick a winner, so keep them coming! We're running a pool on when we'll arrive. April 9 is the most popular date right
now. Let's hope we don't sail into a wind hole!
This is a gallery of photos taken on a Club Cruise to the Golden Gate Bridge and Angel Island on Saturday, March 22 2014. Two boats went on the cruise: Donald and Daisy. We were very lucky with the wind which was SouthWest, which allowed us to sail a beam reach all the way to the bridge. We left the Marina at 8:30 AM and passed under the Golden Gate at 11:00 AM. Then sailed to Angel Island for lunch on a beautiful sunny day. Returned to Berkeley at 4:00 PM.
Good job everyone involved with the regional rescue drill out on the water on Friday March 21. We had multiple fake injuries and scenarios within the drill to help the agencies improve their water skills. There will be a formal debriefing on Monday evening, Mar 24th at at the club.
The people at the Fire Department said were really impressed with the complexity of the drill and thought the CSC did an excellent job with it. This drill in particular represents the start of a really positive relationship with the rescue services and in particular the local fire departments.
We're off the coast of Japan trying to get out into the open ocean. It's
been bumpy, but I've been fine on the sea sickness front and the cold is finally
subsiding. I sprained my middle finger and its a nice fat sausage but
healing quickly. No time for rest!
We had our butts absolutely handed to us for a couple of days with winds
ranging from 40 to 90 knots. I thought the boat was just going to tear
apart at one point when a squall came through that seemed impossible to
control. Ollie, our watch leader, and a massive rugby player was the only
person able to hold the wheel mostly under control. He did that until he
was exhausted; then the skipper came on deck to take over.
For context,Simon NEVER comes on deck. He sits in the nav station and barks orders at
us. Not steering the right course within 30 seconds of stepping on the
helm? Ah the familiar little 'wreek' of the hinges on the hatch opening and
Simon popping his head up. "Helm? What course are you steering? "
I was so exhausted at one point, I didn't know if I was going to make it. Just non
stop work work work, grind grind grind, haul haul haul. We ripped our
spinnaker, so one guy is below 24x7 trying to fix it as the sailmaker.
One crewmate has terrible sea sickness so is down for the count during the roughest
conditions. And one is always pulled off of rotation to 'mother'. So we
have a watch of 8 with only 5 ever on deck, one on helm and the rest of us
doing all the reefs, headsail changes, etc. Even Ollie is worn out and he
is a barrel of energy.
Then the wind has died, which is less stressful but
can mean even more work hauling sails up and down trying to catch the wind.
We did that and then the wind came up like a gale and we were left with the
wrong headsail on the forestay and a massive sail bunched up in the cockpit
with only a handful of people to deal with it.
We've had to do a few "all hands on deck" to make it through the worst of it due to the smallness of
our watch; the other watch (we're bay watch and they're crime watch, ha)
has 9 people and none sea sick, so much more muscle! The first day I was
mostly given bits of string to pull on. Now I'm really in the thick of it,
which I definitely prefer, but it is hard, hard work.
They're training me to helm with the kite up in the dark across the Pacific. Right now, only
Ollie is trusted with the helm in those conditions, so it will be good to
get at least one more up to speed; skipper seems to think I'm up to the
task, so bring it!
Let's hope there aren't too many 'wreeks' from the nav
station. They call him whack a mole, lol. I actually really like sailing
with him; he gets on deck when needed and only yells most of the time, but
not all of the time :) He's clearly doing something right as we're managing
to hold onto our lead in extremely variable conditions.
The first class was last Monday (after the time change), and it will run through September with a couple of holiday exceptions from 6 pm to sunset. Jennifer Kroon is organizing this and occasionally teaching, as she did in the first class.
We had 7 boats and 14 sailors. We did what Jennifer called warming up on our sailing skills. We were going to do a version of Ultimate Frisbee on the water, but the frisbee didn't float, so we did other things. We sailed several courses around 4 buoys (the goals for the Ultimate Frisbee) in a line (one boat after the other, a boat-length between each and the one following). Sounds easy, right? Not so easy with crews of different skills. So the lead boat can't get too far ahead, and the other boats have to do what they can to catch up. And sometimes the instructions aren't so clear, so there's a built-in chaos. And then the lead boat is told to set whatever course they want, and the other boats have to follow. Preferably doing a lot of tacks/jibes.
The theme of the exercise was right-of-way. In this relatively simple exercise, right-of-way situations are set up, and you have to deal with them. I failed on this. I was on starboard tack going into two boats, one on either side, both on port tack, and one on a collision course. I had no room to maneuver. I called "starboard", but the other boat didn't respond as quickly as I might have liked, so I moved to avoid him. The classic mistake. We both moved first one way then the other trying to avoid each other and eventually collided. I can't count how many times I've described this situation to my sailing students and how to deal with it, but when it happened to me, I punted. There's an Italian expression that describes this "tra il dire e il fare c'è di mezzo il mare" which basically means “it's one thing to say it, and another thing to actually do it.” A learning experience, which is why we're all here.
Even these relatively simple exercises are much more difficult than anything you would do on your own, so they really hone your skills.
Jennifer talked a bit about the class. It's not going to get you to Senior by itself, but it's going to help you get there by improving your skills. She talked about the Senior test and the importance of judgement. Think about how you would handle an unconscious man overboard. There is no right answer, but there are wrong answers.
Team GB came into Qingdao first with a huge arrival ceremony. Biggest of the race so far they say (we will have to give a CSC 10-cannon salute to top it in San Francisco). According to the skippers, this was the hardest of all legs.
Sir Robin was here for arrivals and they gave the skipper Simon Talbot a cape and flag pole thingie. There were many officials announced to big cheers. Till the end when we were tired of all the cheering and sort of grunted and waved our little plastic flags. They were ushered off to a nice warm room with local beer and cakes. Then they had to go scrub the boat. I hid in my hotel for that part. There will be plenty of toilet scrubbing for the next few weeks, so I'll wait until tomorrow for the official crew changeover day to start!
It's elapsed time for this race, so we definitely have at least second and possibly first if the boat One DLL doesn't finish in the next 24 hrs. So be sure to root against those soulless pirates because we want another gold pennant for the top of the forestay.
Crew drinks/dinner tonight and so nice to see everyone. They are in great spirits and say the boat and crew are running very well. I found out I'm on the watch with rugby star Ollie Phillips as the watch leader and one of my favorite round the world crew, Owen, on my watch as well so very excited to join in! They are all incredibly nice and down to earth. With a healthy thirst for first place!
The Clipper Race site has published a gallery of pictures from the Qingdao arrival. I had Fried Pickces Sick for breakfast, I'm ready to go. Stay tuned from more news from the Clipper Race.