How to buy your first VHF handheld for your CSC Senior kit

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.

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David Fawcett
Excellent Stefano, I could have used this a month ago Agree with you about gps, I looked at several vhf/gps handhelds, most of t... Read More
Tuesday, 01 July 2014 19:57
Stefano Maffulli
I ended up getting the SH HX300 in fact, it's also on sale on West Marine now with a $20 mail-in rebate.
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 11:23
Stephanie Evans
This is less about buying one as owning one and keeping it in one piece--every time you go out on the water, check your antennae i... Read More
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 08:43
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Friday the 13th Cruise to Clipper Cove

It was Friday the 13th, and a full moon. What better time to go on a cruise; what could possibly go wrong?

Eleven sailors in five dinghies left the dock at about 4:30pm. A little later than the announced departure time, but about when I figured we would actually shove off. The wind was very light in the junior area but picked up to a lovely 10 knots or so once we got a bit past the restaurant. We had a pleasant and uneventful sail to Treasure Island, and pulled our boats up on the little beach at Clipper Cove. Of course we had the traditional capsizing of the last boat to arrive.

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[Left: Josh Leihe and Auric Horneman taking down the last Bahia; Right: CSC boats beached at Clipper Cove]

With the boats pulled well above the water line, we made the short walk to the Treasure Island Bar and Grill. I don’t know about everybody else, but while I enjoyed my food I kept thinking: I hope the wind doesn’t die, I hope the wind doesn’t die, I hope the wind doesn’t die. After eating, kibitzing and telling lies about how fast we had sailed there, we walked back to the boats. I looked out over the water and, you guessed it, the wind had died. Now, this wasn’t the end of the world. We had the sketch motor mounted on the Venture, but it was going to be a slow slog back with a 2 horsepower motor and 5 boats. As we looked despairingly eastward at the glassy water, what did we see? Could it be? Yes, it was Michael “The St. Bernard of the Sea” Moore coming towards us on the rescue skiff! He brought the skiff up to the beach and casually asked “Do you guys want a tow?” We got the boats off the beach, and Michael maneuvered around so we could each attach our bow painters to the tow line.

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Rudderless But Not Adrift: Sailing Without Your Rudder

We covered rudderless sailing at our Monday afternoon advanced dinghy lessons last week. Knowing how to rudderlessly sail is crucial not only in the (sort of rare at CSC) event that your rudder falls off (!), but also deepens your understanding of sail trim, boat handling, and makes you look pretty epic out there on the Bay. And let's face it: if you look good, you're probably sailing gooder.

It's also a skill you need to know to pass your senior dinghy & keelboat practical tests at CSC.

One simple resource that can be useful to get your started is this rudderless e-book (click the link to download), written by CSC member Joel Brand. 

Some pointers from our rudderless practice session and discussion last week:

If in a dinghy, try and get your rudder completely out of the water. It can still affect your course if it's in the water. As with all these tips provided below, however, try all sorts of different ways to maneuver and see what happens. Try it with the ruddder up, then down and swinging freely. Wind strength, waves, sail plan, and weight in the boat will all affect how your actions impact your course corrections...much like on any given day. Experiment!

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Recent Comments
Nathan Ilten
Great tips! Here is another: Loosening your gnav will help with jibing.
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 10:34
Peter /"Margaret"/ Kuhn
Sit down sailors--especially those of modest proportions--often don't appreciate that rudderless sailing in CSC dinghies requires ... Read More
Tuesday, 10 June 2014 08:17
Michael Sherrell
Antony's rudder fell off last week. S*** happens.
Friday, 11 July 2014 09:44
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Memorial Day Cruise to Angel Island

What gets a bunch of sailors out of bed before 8am on a weekend?  The annual cruise to angel Island of course! 30 CSC members and guests poured into Commanders and Merits for a gorgeous sail to the aptly named Island, for a sizable feast that would make your grandmother proud. 

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Creaking at the seams, some of us chose to hike off the calories, others napped, and many took the short hike/quick nap combo that capitalized on the best of both worlds. 

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The sail back was mostly uneventful, with half of of us sailing down Raccoon straits, around the Island and into Berkeley, and the other half taking a straight shot back to Berkeley. It was scorching in the wind shadow of Angel Island, but cooled off nicely with a 5knt breeze as we cruised into the Berkeley Marina. 

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State of the Fleet

State of the Fleet

Sailing in the Bay is rough on equipment, including our club's fleet of dinghies. These boats are kept operational through volunteer work spearheaded by our co-first vice commodores, Dan Rolinek and Seamus Vanecko. They were kind enough to take a break between the never-ceasing boat repairs to fill us in on the state of our fleet. 


What is the current state of our dinghy fleet? How much life do our dinghies have left in them? 

The Ventures and 500s are new and holding up well.  The Bahias are starting to show their age.  The biggest issue is that they develop cracks in the cockpit floor.  We’ve developed a fix for this (you may have notices a few with big platic pieces glued and screwed to the floor), but we don’t know how long that will hold up.  Not much will stick to polyethylene, you need a special epoxy.  It’s a somewhat complicated process that involves flame treating the plastic so that the epoxy will adhere.  We just found a new product that may be simpler, but we haven’t had a chance to test it yet. The JYs are showing their age too, but they seem to keep going.

We've just got a number of new exciting RS boats, but what about our older workhorses? Is it possible to purchase replacement JY15s and Bahias? 

Unfortunately the Bahia manufacturer is not doing well, and it’s not possible to buy new Bahias currently.  It’s also difficult to get things like spars and foils. We probably won’t purchase more JYs as they are fairly expensive for an older design that doesn’t have a kite.  They don’t get sailed a whole lot except for racing.  Seniors want to fly the kite, and juniors for the most part are more comfortable on the boats they first learned on.  That’s too bad though.  I think the JY is a better boat if you’re a junior and can’t fly the kite. 

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May Windsurfing Fast Track

May Windsurfing Fast Track
The May windsurfing Fast Track was a big success, with eight students earning their Junior! Students came for four Sundays in a row to hone their tacking, gybing and up/downwind sailing skills, as well as learning how to rig the more advanced sails. Now they can sail past the shelter of the Novice windsurfing area and into the junior area.
 
Photo (right to left): Zach, Stef, Adam, Franz - these folks are celebrating the last day of testing. Of note, Stef ALSO just got her Junior sailing rating in the May Junior Fast Track
 
Not-pictured May fast track grads: Enzio, Josef, Will, Philippe - Will has already been spotted coming down to help with the beginner windsurfing lessons...nice!
 
Big THANK YOU to Sophie Horiuchi, our Port Captain, for organizing these fast tracks as her senior project. 
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May Junior Skipper Fast Track - The Signing of the White Cards

May Junior Skipper Fast Track - The Signing of the White Cards

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.

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Stephanie Evans
Thanks again, Anthony & Joel for organizing - kudos for a job well done!
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 12:46
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How to (Not) Break a Mast

How to (Not) Break a Mast

 

 

 

Thursday, November 21st, 2013. After days of poor wind, the forecast finally calls for winds of above ten knots, with things getting pretty crazy later in the evening. I decide that it is time to skip out early on work and head down to the club. I ask my sailing buddy (and co-2nd vice) Chris Lalau Keraly if he’s up for a sail, to which he replies “Screw science, I'll be there at 3:30!” Chris is good to his word, and right as he arrives at 3:30, a Bahia pulls up to the dock, with gennaker rigged and ready to go. I take over the boat, and after putting our foulies on and picking up an aspiring junior as our third crew member, we’re ready to go!

The wind is coming from the north, so as soon as we get away from the dock, we hoist the gennaker and take off towards the toilet basin on a broad reach. Before getting too close, we jibe and start making a beeline for the southwest corner of the senior dinghy area. The windspeed seems to be varying between 10 and 15 knots, pretty patchy at times,  but we get in a good enough run with me at the tiller.

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The Art of Stepping Off

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?

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Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Burchik

If you are looking for Steve Burchik on a Wednesday evening, chances are that you'll find him down on J-dock, getting ready to teach keelboat lessons for the Cal Sailing Club (CSC). He's also a regular volunteer for the Open House and Youth Ride events.

Steve moved to the Bay area in 1978 for a job, and hasn't left since. Apart from his dedication to helping out at CSC, he is known for promoting the use of safety whistles: during a keelboat study group class, he brought a shopping bag full of plastic whistles to distribute among aspiring senior skippers. Steve especially values the diversity and depth among the ranks of CSC members.

He took a break from the tiller to answer a few of our questions:

How did you hear about CSC and when did you join?

I first heard about CSC from my son.  He suggested a family picnic in Berkeley and had heard about the Open House.  He thought I might enjoy an opportunity to go sailing.  I had an exhilarating sail in a dinghy, got soaking wet and immediately walked over to the club house and signed up in April 2007. During my first year of sailing, I kept a simple log each time I went sailing.  I just checked it to confirm the dates and was surprised to see that Todd Price was the Skipper on my introductory sail.  Our paths would cross many times in the ensuing years.

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New Photo Gallery - How to Upload Photos

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 smugmug@cal-sailing.org (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.

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New Photo Gallery

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.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Mitsu

“Windy, Windy!” It’s become a common saying at CSC and in the South Sailing Basin, and Mitsu is the one to thank for coining the phrase. One of our most well-known club windsurfers in the South Sailing Basin, he is notorious for his Mitsu-isms. 

Need to know the current conditions? “Windy, Windy!”

Need advice on about how to improve as a windsurfer? “Complain, complain, no plane!”

Want to know how to live longer? “Eat more chicken wings.”

Mitsu’s secret to windsurfing? "I have experience!"

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Cyril Drame
2h teaching
Sunday, 19 June 2016 15:34
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Berkeley Bay Festival

 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! 

Tons more great photos from Lon here: https://plus.google.com/103254638147711764669/posts/LrWgSgWEMhL 

Busy day!

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Update from Stephanie on the Clipper Site - Day 21

Clipper Site

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Helming the Big Boat in the Pacific

Hello CSC!

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
dream.

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!

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Another Update from Stephanie on Clipper Site

Clipper Update

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Golden Gate Cruise Photos-Mar 22, 2014

Golden Gate Cruise Photos-Mar 22, 2014

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.

Gallery of Photos for Cruise

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Update from Stephanie on Clipper Site

Check it out on the official Clipper Race's site.

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Pictures from the Regional Rescue Drill

Pictures from the Regional Rescue Drill

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.

Checkout the 10 photos shared by Marshall Lombardo.

 

 

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