Docking in Low Tide

Docking in Low Tide
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I posted while ago on launching in low tides. The idea was close attention to sail trim. The common mistake is to over-sheet the main leaving the dock, and even with full centerboard you'll drift sideways into the Cal Adventures dock.

Here I want to talk about docking in low tide. 

There are several problems. One is recognizing that it's low tide. It's easy going out with a "fresh" boat (you push the centerboard/rudder down and feel the mud, so you bring it up a few inches). But coming back you have to recognize and plan it. My rule of thumb for Bahias is that a tide of under +2.0 means you have to raise the centerboard and/or rudder. Plan for it, and raise both on the way in. When it's all the way down, the centerboard is about a foot lower than the rudder fully down, so you can adjust the two differently.  In very low tides, the rudder will be just below the water, horizontal. It will work, but it will be very  hard to use, and hard to turn quickly. Also, the stress on the rudder when it's parallel to the water surface is in a direction it's not designed for. So it's best to limit the amount of time you sail with the rudder in that position.

You will find that the boat handles differently with the centerboard up (or raised above the normal, fully down position). An important thing in docking is that the pivot point of the boat is farther aft, which means that where the boat actually turns in the water will also be farther aft.

The dock approach will be different in low tides. You can't use the standard "come in on a beam reach and slow sail to the dock". Your leeway with the centerboard up will be too much. Even if you aim for the south end of the dock, you'll be lucky not to hit the sea-wall (painful personal lesson here).

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Michael Sherrell
Alternate technique: Uncleat the rudder, keep your speed up, let the mud raise your centerboard, and plow through the mud! (Note J... Read More
Tuesday, 09 June 2015 11:20
John Bongiovanni
In a south wind, you'd be toast. Right into the seawall. The centerboard will still be dragging a bit in the mud, preventing you f... Read More
Tuesday, 09 June 2015 22:56
Michael Sherrell
That's probably true, but the idea would be to be on a line into the dock before you hit mud. A south wind would help drive you th... Read More
Friday, 26 June 2015 17:15
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Right-of-Way Trivia

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I love trivia. Probably my age, or my geek background.

When I go over right-of-way rules with students, I tell them this is a trick question. Sailboat and kayak - who has right of way? Any answer they give is wrong, although it's interesting to see the reasoning behind it (kayak more maneuverable, etc.), and that in itself is useful - on the water, what would you do?. The answer is that it's not covered in the Naviagation Rules. Really. I was a kayaking instructor for 10 years, and in a moment of boredom, I read the entire Navigation Rules looking for things that applied to kayaks. Exactly one reference:

Rule 25 - Sailing Vessels Underway and Vessels Under Oars 

(ii) A vessel under oars may exhibit the lights prescribed in this rule for sailing vessels, but if she does not, she shall exhibit an all around white light or have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.

Not useful for right-of-way. O course the generic any vessel rules apply to a kayak (sailboat overtaking a kayak, or for that matter a slow moving powerboat, must give way).

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Nathan Ilten
Interesting post, John! I do believe, though, that Colregs and Racing Rules agree on the definition of windward/leeward. In your... Read More
Sunday, 12 July 2015 10:19
John Bongiovanni
You're probably right, but I have to say that the Navigation Rules (and official USCG guidance) are pretty vague. I've always thou... Read More
Sunday, 12 July 2015 13:09
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Advanced Boat Handling - Another Great Advanced Dinghy Lesson

Advanced Boat Handling - Another Great Advanced Dinghy Lesson

The Advanced Dinghy lessons this year have been uniformly great.

This week's was no exception - boat handling by Jonas Kellner, a club member who's been sailing for over 30 years and teaching sailing and racing for almost as long.

Someone asked Jonas before the class whether he'd be teaching racing tactics. He said that he could, but knowing the best tactic for a given situation is useless if you can't execute the maneuver. He'd be focusing on the latter.

We had a pre-sail briefing, where Jonas explained what we'd be doing. 8 exercises around a set of buoys in a line perpendicular to the wind (so basically beam reach). The first and last exercises were slalom course, where we were to keep as tight to each buoy as we could.

The intermediate exercises were ovals around the set of buoys (counter-clockwise in all cases). They were technical exercises, designed to improve boat handling skills:

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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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Downwind sailing and the evils of rounding up

Downwind sailing and the evils of rounding up
One of the common pitfalls of sailing a dinghy downwind is that in a sudden gust, the boat will start to head up, leading to a capsize. In this blog post, I'd like to share some of my thoughts on the factors in play and how to best deal with them. This discussion applies to sailing with just main and jib, as well as to those thrill-seekers using a gennaker.
 
To begin with, why does your dinghy insist on heading up in a gust? There are (at least) two factors involved. To begin with, your dinghy typically has a bit of weather helm: to get technical, the center of effort (COE) on your sails lies slightly behind the center of lateral resistance (CLR) created by your dinghy's foils. In normal conditions, a bit of weather helm makes for a nice responsive tiller that helps you to better "feel" the boat and the wind. However, as the force on the sails increases as happens during a gust, the discrepancy between the COE and CLR is amplified, causing more and more weather helm. This effect will cause your boat to want to head up more strongly during a gust.
 
However, the natural weather helm caused by the discrepancy between COE and CLR isn't typically what will cause you problems. Instead, it is the additional weather helm caused by excessive heeling. Indeed, as the boat heels more, the hull's interaction with the water creates extra weather helm. Furthermore, your rudder is now only partially submerged, giving you less control over rounding up. And that is just the beginning: assuming that you are sailing below a beam reach, the more the boat rounds up, the more the heeling force on the sails increase. This causes more rounding up, which causes more heeling which causes... you can see that this will probably end with you getting wet.
 
Now that we know two of the main factors in play, let's consider three different scenarios.
  • First scenario: you're sailing on a dead run when a gust hits. The force of the wind on the main will indeed cause the boat to want to round up a bit. However, since you're on a run, it won't cause much heeling, so you only have the first aforementioned factor to deal with.
  • Second scenario: you're on a broad reach when a gust hits. Now you're in trouble -- you have both excessive weather helm coming from the force on the main, as well as weather helm caused by heeling. As you round up towards a beam reach, you can't depower the main, and you may end up capsizing.
  • Third scenario: you're on a beam reach when the gust hits. Again, both factors will apply, but as the boat rounds up above a beam, the main will start to depower, reducing heeling and weather helm and saving your bacon.
From the above analysis, we see that the danger of rounding up and capsizing is greatest when sailing close to a broad reach. But never fear: we have some powerful weapons at hand in combating the evil demon of weather helm.
 
First, we would like to be able to depower the main sail while sailing on a broad reach; this will decrease both natural weather helm and excessive heeling. Our first weapon for doing this is the vang or gnav. Easing this control in a gust lets the top portion of the sail twist away from the wind. While crewing for one of our club's most experienced dinghy sailors during the infamous Fast Track squall of May '12, my skipper had me blowing the gnav in every gust, and this is what let us limp back to the club in (more or less) once piece.
 
Our second weapon in depowering the main is of course the main sheet. If the wind is howling 20 knots and your Bahia is screaming along on a broad reach, chances are that your high boat speed is shifting the apparent wind far enough forwards that your main sheet should not be all the way out. The added bonus is that when the gust comes, you can now ease the sheet to help balance the boat and depower the main. If you instead neglected to sheet your mainsail in at all, you can't depower  by easing the main! 
 
Apart from depowering the main sail, the above analysis tells us that we want to do everything possible to keep the boat flat. Anticipating the gusts and aggressively falling off is key. Likewise, hard, aggressive hiking (or even sending crew out on the wire) are also important. Keep in mind, though, that if you are already hiking out hard before the gust hits, you won't be able to up the ante when you need to. Just as with the main sheet, it is highly advantageous to have a bit of room to make adjustment during gusts. Finally, aggressively sheeting in the jib (or gennaker) in gusts so that it stalls a bit will shift the COE forward in the boat, which will also decrease weather helm. Likewise, raking the centerboard aft slightly will shift CLR aft, also decreasing weather helm.
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John Bongiovanni
Great post, Nathan. One thing that I can't figure out is sheeting in the main on a broad reach. I guess the apparent wind has to ... Read More
Saturday, 09 May 2015 17:55
Nathan Ilten
John: Thanks! First of all, let's suppose that you've sheeted in the main "too far" so that the sail is stalling a bit. You are a... Read More
Saturday, 09 May 2015 22:41
John Bongiovanni
To reinforce something you mentioned but didn't highlight. I was out today with James C (great, wet experience), and he showed me... Read More
Saturday, 13 June 2015 20:37
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Advanced Dinghy Lessons Start with a Bang!

Philippe on the subject of sail trimming and especially use of the gnav (according to him, an under-used tool).

Philippe is an an incredible sailor and an amazing instructor.  We spent about half of the time on land with an RS Venture looking how the various sail controls affected sail shape and talking about what sail shape you want for what conditions (it was blowing over 15 kt. this evening, by the way, with pretty big seas - we  had a lot of weight on the boat on land to make sure it didn't capsize into the cars parked near the clubhouse). On land, it was much easier to see the effects of various controls on the sail shape.

This is my lesson summary (feel free to comment):

Scope: Dinghies which generally don't have travelers.

  1. Sail shape is very important. The usual things about depth and power, and location of sail draft. With lighter winds, you want a fuller sail and a draft a bit aft. With heavier winds, you want a tighter sail and a draft forward.
  2. In heavier seas, you want more power, even with stronger winds.
  3. Tensioning the Cunningham brings the draft forward.
  4. The outhall affects the lower third of the sail.
  5. Several controls bend the mast aft, which tighten the sail and move the draft forward. Tightening the mainsheet and the gnav do this.
  6. In high winds, you don't want the boom near the center of the boat, as the lift from the sail is mostly sideways to the boat. But just easing the mainsheet induces twist in the sail. Tightening the gnav overcomes this, allowing the mainsail to go to a better angle, but preserving the sail tightness.
  7. Bearing off from close-hauled, you want to do several things.  One is ease the mainsheet. Another is to keep weight on the windward side to help turn the boat downwind. A third is to ease the gnav (and then tighten it when on course).
  8. Gybe-ing:
    1. Blow the gnav before the gybe (this will depower the sail and cause the top of the sail to back-wind before the bottom of the sail, producing a gentler gybe).
    2. Weight the boat to windward to turn it down-wind through the wind. If you reach across to pull the boom across, you'll mess this up.
    3. If done correctly, the wind will gently pull the mainsail across. Grab the sheets as this happens to buffer it.
    4. Power up after the gybe by tightening the gnav

Then we went out and did it, both upwind and downwind. And it worked. I was prepared for hikiing really far out with the winds we had, but we didn't have to. And it was amazing how gentle the gybes were with this technique. Note that in bearing off and gbye-ing, you're doing what you would do rudder-less - moving weight to turn the boat. After the class, I discussed that with Philippe, and  his opinion (as a racer of some renown) is that the more you can use your weight to  maneuver the boat, the better (i.e. faster) you'll sail.

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John Bongiovanni
I want to add a couple of things to this. One is that I talked with Philippe today and asked hiim if I got it all right. He said ... Read More
Wednesday, 22 April 2015 19:52
Francisco Kattan
Thanks to John and Philippe for the great writeup and lesson. I've got some new things to try, especially releasing the gnab du... Read More
Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:07
Christian
Great stuff. Thank for the post!
Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:56
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There be dragons here!

There be dragons here!

While you spoiled Californians may have been venturing out onto the water all winter long, most of us in Vancouver are just starting our sailing season -- we don't like frostbitten toes! This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of crewing on a Dragon in a one-design regatta. The Dragon is a "modern classic": designed in 1929 with extremely elegant lines, this 29 footer has been updated again and again to remain an exciting keelboat. She has a furling jib, a symmetric spinnaker which launches from a chute below deck (very similar to our Bahias), and really feels more like an incredibly large dinghy than a keelboat. Her RYA handicap puts her just a bit slower than a 470, so she would destroy one of our Bahias in a race.

This was my first time racing on a keelboat, and I don't know why I waited so long to do it! It was fascinating to see a keelboat set up for racing, in contrast to our Commanders which are set up for, well, pretty much the exact opposite of racing. Did somebody say "spinnaker practice?" I must have hoisted and doused the kite ten times, and I can't even count the number of times we gybed with it up. At the beginning of the day I was just concentrating on not wrapping the jib sheets around the spinnaker pole, but by the end of the day I was doing end for end gybes on the foredeck fairly smoothly. As they say, practice makes perfect. Even with my bumbling help, our Dragon "Rum 'n' Monkey" managed to place solidly in the middle of the fleet. I look forward to honing my skills throughout the summer; I think once our crew of three gets dialed in, we'll be unstoppable (or at least close to it).

If you ever get a chance to sail a Dragon, I recommend you take it -- they are pretty fun boats! But even more importantly, all you aspiring dinghy sailors should take any opportunity you can to crew during keelboat races. It's fun, and you'll learn a lot, including many things which will improve on your dinghy sailing. Fortunately, Friday evening racing at Berkeley Yacht Club has just started up for the season. If you show up at O-dock at the Berkeley marina around 5:30pm any Friday evening (dressed to sail and with a six-pack for after the races) chances are you'll get a crew spot on a boat. It's a chance too good to miss.

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Lester Gee
Dragons are gorgeous boats. Saw them racing during my brief stay in Seattle. Similar boat you can find here locally are the Colu... Read More
Thursday, 16 April 2015 08:34
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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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Man Overboard on Dinghies

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There are at least 4 ways of doing this, and all of them have their advocates  (which means that there are advantages and disadvantages of each, and each is optimized for different circumstances). 

I think most instructors at the Club teach the Broad Reach (or Deep Beam Reach) procedure.

1. Immediately go to a Broad Reach
2. Sail for a small number of boat lengths (it doesn't matter how many, just get far enough away from the MOB to give you room to maneuver and sail back)
3. Tack around, furl the jib
4. You're on a close reach, slow-sail to the MOB

Advantages:

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Michael Sherrell
1. Picking up MOB on downwind side of boat or over transom only works if MOB is conscious and functional. To haul them in with bru... Read More
Wednesday, 11 March 2015 08:26
Stephanie Evans
While Quickstop makes a lot of sense theoretically, the reality of crew going over board is typically a high wind situation where ... Read More
Monday, 16 March 2015 14:08
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Volunteer Spotlight: Stel Lababy

Volunteer Spotlight: Stel Lababy

Cal Sailing Club's explosive financial growth is entirely due to the passionate leadership of our Treasurer, Stel Lababy, who shared a few insights.

Have you always sought leadership roles?

Oh goodness yes!  Even as a puppy I led my team in teat-chewing and runt-killing.  I was always at the front of the pack harassing the pigs on the farm where I grew up.

What shaped your passion for leadership?

Adversity.  When the farm's meth lab blew up, I had to refocus and map out my career goals again, putting in long hours as a rescue dog, then as a lowly family dog, before realizing my passion to succeed as CFO at CSC.

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Tony To
Fav Volunteer Spotlight by far. Stella FTW!
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 02:22
Michael Sherrell
Surprisingly obscenity-free.
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 07:12
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Volunteer Spotlight: John Bongiovanni

        In an era perma-jacked to the information mainline, where your phone can think, where apps get you laid, and where the hive mind sees everything you do from a dingy room in Utah, the Cal Sailing Club is a bastion of the if-it-aint-broke-don’t-fix-it mentality. We fear change on an institutional level, and nowhere is this more apparent than our presence on the internet. The club built a website only in 2009, and up until recently it had that retro DOS look you could imagine Mathew Broderick mistakenly launching a nuclear weapon from. In the past year, however, the site has undergone not one but two cyber makeovers: it now glistens with a slick sheen, flaunting an intuitive layout and drop down menus which ooze e-credibility.  

        Like most large CSC undertakings, the push to modernize the form and function of the club’s virtual façade arose from the concerted effort of a few key players. One of the largest contributions came from member John Bongiovanni, a fairly recent addition to the club who, along with working on the website, has put in an astronomical amount of time volunteering in other ways. For his valiant efforts John “Goodjohn,” as his name works out in Italian pseudo-translation, was awarded a lifetime membership at the latest GMM. I ventured down to the club this past Saturday to talk with John. True to form, he was skippering the only boat out for lessons. I managed to corner him as he came in, and we sat down to discuss his life, his work on the website, and his time at the club.

 

Young John Heeds the Call of The Wind

        John began sailing in the mid ‘80s at none other than the only club in the world which can even start to begin to want to think of itself nearly half as cool as CSC: Community Boating in Boston.  He recalls that the club operated along similar lines to our own, where members teach members, and cut his teeth sailing their Mercury 15s on the Charles River. Upon moving to the San Fransisco Bay, he expanded his sailing palette. He began renting lasers from a club at Shoreline Park, and would venture up to Sausalito to sail keelboats with Dave Garrett’s ASA certified program. He began flirtations with cruising, chartering a boat in Southern California to sail to Catalina, and doing many overnight voyages around the bay.

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Michael Sherrell
John, you're blessed to have a Boswell of Antony's talent. Only Krusty compares. The club is thrice-blessed.
Tuesday, 10 February 2015 06:53
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A Sea Tale

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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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Leaving J-Dock

Leaving J-Dock
So, you're getting ready to take a keelboat out for a sail.  You have three goals in mind for getting the boat ready and departing the dock:
1) Safety of you, your crew/guests, and other marina users;
2) Avoiding damage or excessive wear and tear to your boat and others nearby; and
3) An efficient and enjoyable preparation and departure so that you get out sailing quickly and without unnecessary stress.  

It might seem that these goals conflict, and that in order to prioritize goals 1 or 2, you might have to sacrifice goal 2 or 3.  Sometimes, that happens. But that should be the exception, not the norm. The point of this post is to offer a big picture framework for how you can meet all of these goals at once.  Note that this is NOT a comprehensive checklist - your checklist fits within these steps (mostly in step 2).  

  1. Choose your equipment (boat, jib) based on conditions, your crew members, and the goals of the trip.  You probably have thought about these factors before you even get to J-dock, but be ready to reconsider your plan if conditions are different than you expected.  Remember to consult the maintenance log.  
  2. Prepare the boat and your crew while doing everything except raising the sails (raising the sails comes last).  While you and your crew are doing safety checks and getting everything set up, you should be thinking at least as much about your crew as you are about the boat, especially if you have not sailed with the crew much on the keelboats.   
    1. Ask questions about each person’s experience and comfort with the boat and conditions.  
    2. Give each person tasks to help with preparations.  Watch how they complete these tasks, and ask questions.  Do they demonstrate skill and familiarity with the equipment?  Are they comfortable moving about the boat?  Are they clumsy?  Give pointers as needed.  Evaluate who your most and least skilled crew members are.  Is there anyone that you will need to pay extra attention to in order to ensure their safety and comfort while sailing?  
    3. Does everyone have appropriate gear (foulies, whistles, lights, water, etc) for the activity and conditions?  
    4. Do you need to change the plan, equipment, etc based on what you’ve learned about your crew?  Do you need to get one (or more) skilled crew members?    
  3. Include everyone in a brief discussion about safety on the boat and the departure process.  Consider asking one of your more experienced crew members (any senior wannabe) to give the safety talk and propose a plan for departure.  Give feedback.  Make sure that everyone understands their role for the departure plan.  Does the dock person know how to step on?   Encourage questions! Take your time answering.  It’s best to handle questions before the sails are up because it is quieter, calmer, and avoids unnecessary wear and tear on the sails.  
  4. Take off all dock lines except for the one(s) you’ll need to keep the boat in proper position while raising any appropriate sail(s), given the wind direction.  Reposition the boat, if needed.  Raise the sail(s) and cast off.  Have crew help to avoid rubbing the boat against the dock while repositioning and raising sail(s). Be safe and have fun!  
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Low Tide Launching/Docking

Low Tide Launching/Docking

We've all experienced this, either as sailors or instructors.

You're going away from the dock, parallel to it, but somehow you're getting pushed sideways into the middle dock. Or you're docking, and you have a huge amount of leeway, pushing you into the seawall.

What I learned in the Advanced Dinghy class from Yves is that it's all about sail trim. Even with the centerboard completely down, you have a huge sideways force if you oversheet. Not only is the sail not as efficient as it could be, but the force is more sideways than forward. With the centerboard up (for low tides), the effect is worse.

This is the season of rip-roaring tides (it can go from more than 6' at noon to negative '1 at 6 pm, and the dock time has been as early as 3:30 some weeks).

Thanks to what I learned from Yves, I've been doing the following in my lessons when we had to dock with less than full centerboard. As soon as we get away from the dock, I raise the centerboard, and we sail, completely focused on sail trim. Jib is easy, mainsail more difficult (but more important). I try to get the students completely focused on sail trim. I tell them "They'll tell
you that you can't tack without a centerboard, but they're wrong" after they've tacked without a centerboard.

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Main Sail Trim by the Tell Tales

Main Sail Trim by the Tell Tales

There's a great book called Mainsail Trimming by Felix Marks that goes into this in great detail. A lot of it doesn't apply to dinghies (travelers, for example). But one thing does - trimming the mainsail using the mainsail telltales.

The telltalls are on the leech (back edge) of the sail, and when sailing upwind from a beam reach  and forward (when the sail is a wing), the tell tales should be streaming, just like both of the jib telltales. But what if they aren't? For the jib telltales, we have the guidelines "move the sail toward the telltale that isn't streaming" or "move the tiller toward the telltale that isn't streaming", and students seem to get that. But I don't think we talk enough about trimming the mainsail using the telltales (I could be wrong here, just my observation).

So (on a beam reach and above), if the mainsail telltales aren't streaming, they're curling to one side--windward or leeward. That's just like one of the jib telltales not streaming while the other one is. Move the sail that direction (as in, ease out if streaming to leeward and trim in if streaming to windward), or move the tiller that direction. Essentially the same thing as you would do to trim the jib.

I've seen a tendency in students to oversheet the main, so I think it's useful to sensitize them to this, and the mainsail telltales are one way to do this.

You can also use the mainsail telltales in a gybe. I went on the water once with Stefano Maffuli and a friend of his who had been head instructor at St. Francis Yacht Club (grazie, Stefano). He said that the mainsail telltales were the best indicator of when to pull the main across in a gybe. They show exactly when the main is back-winded--a much better signal than the jib coming across.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Michael Sherrell

Volunteer Spotlight: Michael Sherrell

[Photo courtesy of Seamus Vaneckohttp://www.seamusvanecko.com/gallery/sailors/]

Have you ever taken a dinghy lesson at Cal Sailing? Then chances are you have met Michael "Mike" Sherrell. He has been teaching lessons every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday for as long as I can remember. On innumerable occasions, he has saved the day, being the only instructor to show up. And as many club members can attest to, Mike is very serious about learning as much as he can about sailing, and then passing that knowledge on to his  students. 

Mike is a Berkeley native who, after retiring from biotech-related business, has the luxury of splitting his free time between sailing and his other passion, horses. In fact, he has four of them, and loves to go camping out with them. If you haven't seen him around the club recently, it's because he just got back from an epic camping trip in Oregon and Utah.

Mike was kind enough to answer some questions about sailing and his dedication to CSC

When did you start to sail, and what convinced you to try it out?

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Check it out! SF Sketchers at Nov Open House

Check it out! SF Sketchers at Nov Open House

The SF Sketchers group joined us for our Nov. 9, 2014 Open House, to sketch and paint the scene. Here are the results. More at the link!

http://www.meetup.com/SF-Sketchers/photos/25729234/431485165/#431357192

 

 

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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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Tips for skippering with crew on the wire

Tips for skippering with crew on the wire

Almost all of Cal Sailing's dinghies are equipped with a trapeze kit, and with good reason: our typical stiff summer breezes make it all but a necessity to send someone out on the wire. Having crew out on the wire  can be tons of fun for both you and your crew, but can also be quite a challenge. Here are some tips which can help.

Let's assume that you as skipper have two goals:

  1. Move the boat upwind as quickly as possible.
  2. Make your crew feel comfortable on the wire.

Now, your crew will probably be most comfortable if the boat is kept relatively flat, sudden changes to heel angle are avoided, and the crew is not required to shift her weight. In other words, she can calmly stand on the rail doing nothing but admiring the view (and calling out gusts and lulls).

On the other hand, in order to make your boat move upwind as quickly as possible, you want to keep the boat flat, and to keep  your close-hauled jib at the proper angle of attack to the wind, so that it neither stalls nor luffs.

You, the skipper, have three controls at your disposal: tiller, main sheet, and your body weight. So how do you keep both your crew and the boat happy? Firstly, steer with the tiller to keep the jib at the proper angle to the wind. Secondly, use a combination of body weight and main sheet trim to keep the boat flat. In practice, it is a good idea to hike out moderately and then trim the main accordingly. Indeed, the more you power up the main (while keeping the boat flat), the faster you go. Furthermore, if the wind comes up or down, you still have two controls at your disposal: in a gust, dump the main and hike out hard, and in a lull, sheet in and shift your weight leeward.

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Michael Sherrell
So this technique requires you to distinguish between a wind puff and a wind shift when you suddenly get an increase of heel, does... Read More
Friday, 05 September 2014 14:08
Michael Sherrell
Gives me something to work on, for sure.
Friday, 05 September 2014 14:13
Stefano Maffulli
Waves also play a role in changing the apparent wind: when the bow nose dives into a wave the boat may slow down changing the appa... Read More
Friday, 05 September 2014 14:38
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Video of a CSC Open House at Berkeley Bay Festival


Ten times a year, CSC offers Open House introductory sailing lessons to members of the public for free. It's a great introduction to safely sailing on the Bay!

Check out this neat video from the Berkeley Bay Festival, where CSC offered CSC Open House rides!

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