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.
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.
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.
Kim Nguyen is one of Cal Sailing Club's (CSC) most dedicated volunteer dinghy instructors. If you've ever been down for Saturday morning lessons, you're bound to have run into him. Prior to getting his Junior rating, Kim helped out the club by keeping everything clean and working the dock at Open Houses.
Kim first moved to the Bay Area in 1975, but spent stints in Alaska, Montreal, and Seattle before permanently establishing his roots in El Cerrito in 1987. He joined CSC in 2008. When not sailing or working, he enjoys reading, especially history, math, and stuff about boating. Kim was kind enough to take time to answer a few of our questions:
How did you hear about CSC, and when did you join?
I accidentally walked into one of the open houses back in August of 2008. I did not have a chance to go on the boat ride, but I signed on to become a member on that date.
What is your favorite boat to sail?
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.
While we wait for our Commodore Stephanie Evans to send her report from China, let's enjoy reading about her on Oakland Tribune.
Evans, 29, of Oakland, will honor him by competing in the 10th leg of the Clipper Round the World yacht race from Qingdao, China, to San Francisco on March 16 aboard the 70-foot cutter sloop GREAT Britain. She received a free trip after being selected to crew during a competition last summer.
Read the full article: Oakland Tribune Article
We'll all be waiting for her updates on this blog and follow Great Britain on the race map.
We’re excited to announce the launch of the Cal Sailing Club blog! Watch this space for club news and goings on, fun pics, volunteer spotlights, General Membership Meetings, Open Houses, Youth Rides, sailing and windsurfing news, tips, techniques, tricks, and just all sorts of salty & windy goodness!
We had our first General Membership Meeting of the year on February 23, and the food was (as usual) amazing! Fall-off-the-bone ribs, chicken, salmon, burgers, and I think 10 kinds of salad (okay, maybe only 9). Marshall Lombardo is our new Banquet Chair—responsible for all the scrumptious food at GMMs & Open Houses – thank you, Marshall! I like my steak medium-rare : )
You can check out the minutes for detailed notes on the GMM by clicking on ‘Meeting Minutes’ on the front page.
At the GMM, we recognized and awarded (long overdue) lifetime memberships to some of our most active and involved volunteers (who have probably earned 3 life-times’ worth of memberships in volunteer hours): Sheldon Coad, Steve Burchick, Kim Nguyen and Mitsu. You’ll be seeing volunteer spotlights about each of them in the coming weeks.
Our current team of bloggers are Nathan Owen Ilten, Rosann Allenbaugh, Iain Thompson, and Francisco Kattan on the sailing side, and Brad Block on the windsurfing side. We’d love more writers, especially for windsurfing! Please email me at my commodore address to get involved.