Sheldon Coad has been a Cruising Skipper at CSC for 2 or 3 years now, being a modest guy, he doesn’t pay much attention to stuff like that. He is the tall, slender, gray haired, gentlemanly fellow often seen around CSC attending to all kinds of boat issues and generally making order out of disorder. Sheldon is retired now and CSC has enriched his life in myriad ways, so he is always happy to give back to the club by giving keelboat lessons, offering cruises around the Bay, as well as showing you how to repair winches and paint fences if needed.
When did you join CSC?
I joined in 2003, so I’ve been a member for about 10 ½ years now.
Have you been a member all that time or did the club kind of “grow on you”?
The whole time. I was a slow-rising student due to a shoulder injury. After getting my Junior in about 2 months, I was a Junior for several years and a Senior for a couple of years, until I got my Cruising Skipper rating. I learned to sail at CSC and learned more in 3 lessons than I did at one semester of a college P.E. sailing course. I was interested in sailing for a long time, but could never figure out how to do it. I was discouraged by the huge expense and time involved, until I found CSC. Some people buy a boat and then join CSC because it is such a good deal. We have the best price most likely in the world for all we offer. If people would only stick with it, CSC turns out some pretty good sailors and it doesn’t hurt that SF Bay is one of the premier sailing places in the world.
How has the club and/or membership changed over all that time?
The mix of people and the flow of people in and out of the club have generally stayed the same. It is our finances which have changed, for the better. Our dinghy fleet at the time was primarily Lidos. They were on their last legs and we used to have to constantly repair them. They had been massively reinforced all over to stand up to our routine abuse, but even with all that we used to split the hull to deck seams when someone would hit the dock- something had to give. Greg Sweriduck and I epoxied them back together multiple times. We had a bucket of "C" clamps that were just for that purpose.
Now we have much newer boats. They still need maintenance frequently but I suspect less than the Lidos and I don't think their hulls split.
When I started taking lessons on the keelboats we were using sails that were purchased new in the mid-1980's! That would have made them a good 20 years old at the time. Their patches' patches' had patches. Finally, Pineapple Sails just refused to fix them any more as they were completely shot. The fabric, as good as it was when new, just would not hold up any more.
We could not afford new ones so we got by for a few years with sails we purchased used. Some were sort of OK, some were not. Now we don't have any that are that old as far as I know, exempt maybe a spinnaker or two as they are not used that much. We are able to buy some new sails each year which would have been unheard of when I joined. Also we can afford to keep the keelboats generally in much better shape now.
This new situation is the result of either two or three dues increases, some marketing that worked beautifully, and especially due to getting the Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) grant each year.
What do you like best about teaching dinghies vs. keelboats?
I really liked teaching dinghies during Fast Track. When I was doing Fast Track, students could choose their instructor and usually stayed with them throughout the 5 day course. I could really see the progress they were making and how I was making a difference. Teaching keelboats is a big leap for students used to dinghy sailing. Things happen much more slowly on a keelboat and you have to deal with vastly more mass and weight. It is also much easier to get confused if the wind changes direction or is coming from a different direction than you are used to sailing in. The key is to always know where the wind is coming from.
Some people are better at teaching than others and enjoy it more. What are some of the other ways members can give back to the club besides teaching?
Find something you like to do, whether it’s food, cleaning, paperwork, computer programming or boat repair. If you have mechanical aptitude and you repair something 3 times, you are an expert at CSC!
How has the club enriched your life?
Lots of good friendships and the joy of sailing has made my retirement a joy.
What do you think really defines membership in CSC?
Good will makes the club work. Have a positive attitude, especially about teaching and want to give back to the club and contribute to its culture of volunteerism. Without members contributing, the club wouldn’t exist.