Today's Open/Close Times based on tide predictions

DateClub TimelineSunsetLow Tide
Sat Jun 22 Late Open10:29 AM to 8:06 PM8:36 PM-1.4 @ 7:04 AM

red means the Club will be closed. Note that current low tides are around 0.3 feet higher than predictions.

Day Leader's WhiteBoard


Unless whiteboard shows today's date, there is no Day Leader or they haven't signed in yet.

Is Fast Track for me, I asked?


My friend took Fast Track at Cal Sailing a decade or more ago and still raves about it and Cal Sailing. So when I decided I wanted to learn to sail, I joined Cal Sailing in August of 2022. But when I decided I REALLY wanted to learn to sail, I joined Fast Track in June of 2023. It's the best thing I've done for myself since I moved back to California two years ago. 

To be honest, I was really daunted by the class. I had taken a few classes at Cal Sailing, a similar class at Cal Adventures more than 20 years ago, sailed maybe 10 times on a keelboat in the last year, and a sprinkling of other sails, but I always seemed to go back to step one. Port or starboard? How do I shift my weight and hold the tiller at the same time? What is a vang? Pull in the what?? sigh.  

In April 2023 I decided I would try to make it happen. I already missed the first (May) Fast Track but I hoped I could join the June one. I volunteered as a lessons coordinator and started to meet more people at the club. I signed up to volunteer at the May Fast Track (as a cook/cleaner) and liked the vibe. I read and reread the dinghy manual. I passed the online test. I watched the rigging video, coerced John B into giving a rigging lesson during a Thursday lesson, and watched the video again. I was getting close, but I still hadn't sailed much. 

About two to three weeks before the June Fast Track I got the email: you are in if you can get the prereqs done. I signed up for the rigging test and got a few private lessons. The week before the class I was still hesitant, but I met the two Fast Track coordinators for June - Tim and Lucian - and they were so encouraging, I decided I didn't want to let another year go by and a chance to sail with nice people leading the way without taking this opportunity. I cleared my work schedule and jumped in. 

I was super scared on Day 1, but I had two of the friendliest people at Cal Sailing teach me my first day (Dorian and Mike - thanks!). I felt like I was drinking from a firehose, but I loved it. We docked, and I remembered how to get the boats in safely from the dock and all the derigging and which made me feel more competent. Then I turned the corner to a total FEAST! What???!!! Not only do you get 3 hours of free sailing lessons, but you also get fabulous dinners for FREE. What is this place? And how did I get so lucky to stumble into it?? I kept going. 

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Berkeley Marina Entrance and Tides

usace entrance annotated

There are three entrances to the Berkeley Marina: North, Middle, and South. Keelboaters know to avoid the North in low tides, and that the South is the only safe entrance in very low tides. But what are the numbers? That is, what's the tide level threshold for avoiding the North entrance? How about the Middle entrance? And is the South entrance absolutely safe in all tide levels?

Here's a shot of the marina entrance with this highlighted along with the lower depth area on the west side of the north-south channel (which is now marked by white hazard buoys).

Unfortunately, we don't have reliable data to answer most of the questions above except the one about the South channel entrance. The "channel" into the South entrance is a federal navigation channel, which is why mark 3 (or Olympic Circle D mark) exists. Because of this, the US Army Corps of Engineers conducts annual sounding surveys, and the last one was in February 2023

If you blow up the South entrance in the diagram for this survey, you see this

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Slow sailing Trio: Crew Overboard, Docking, Departure - a Problem Set


Some skills are better-learned with a combination of dry-land and on-water practice. Here is a hands-on problem set for crew overboard, docking, and departure -- with instructions and answer keys! Print them out, doodle over them, plan your course and respond to tricky scenarios all from the comfort of your home. Once you head out onto the water, you'll probably find yourself with a clearer picture of what's going on -- and can better respond to more variables such as shifting winds and choppy waves.

Download the documents here:

Comments and edits are always welcomed.


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Teaching Upwind Sail Trim - Another Approach

Changing the Angle of Sail to the Wind
Changing the Angle of Sail to the Wind Using Sheets
Changing the Angle of Sail to the Wind Using Tiller

The most difficult maneuver to learn for Junior is the small circle, but the most difficult general skill to learn  is upwind sail trim. I have tried a number of ways to teach this, but until recently I haven't found a really good one. Like everything in teaching sailing (or anything else), different techniques work for different students, but there seems to be a really wide range here of what works for whom. For teaching sail trim, each of the methods I've tried have worked well for some, but not many students. After enough time on the helm, they'll  figure it out, but I've been looking for something to make it click faster.

I've even written a blog on it:

But not everyone learns by reading about it.

What I'm trying now looks promising, though, so I'll go over it here.

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"Boat on a Rope" Demo of Rudderless Technique


Boat on a Rope

Land drills and demos are things we don't do enough, as we focus on instruction on the water. But they can be very powerful additions to our program.

Here's a great example, Boat on a Rope.

As you get more advanced, you're learning how to control the boat with multiple controls, not just the tiller. A very powerful technique is boat lean.  It's easy to describe - if the starboard side is down, the boat turns to port, and vice versa. I taught kayaking for 10 years, and in a closed deck kayak, if you want to turn left, you lift your left knee, and vice versa. But it's one thing to talk about it, and another thing to see it in action.

Here's the demo. You take a boat that's not rigged and put an extender on the bow line. In a light wind day, you might rig a long line to the stern. You want a pretty large person in the boat to do the demo. You can do this in a Quest, but it will be easier in a JY. Let the wind blow the boat from our dock toward the middle dock (or pull it there with a stern line in lighter wind), then pull really hard to move the boat toward our dock. Once it's moving fast, let go.

The first time, you want the person in the boat in the center (left-right), but the second time, you want them on one side or another, really leaning the boat. The first time students should see the boat go pretty straight, but the second time they should see it move decisively away from the side of the boat that is leaning down.

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Exercise for dinghy sailing


The most useful exercise for dinghy sailors is chin-ups. About the only time you need strength while dinghy sailing is after a capsize, pulling yourself back into the boat, pulling someone else back into the boat, climbing to the up side gunwhale, either on the inside or the outside. And occasionally pulling someone out of the water and onto the dock. (All the other skills needed for dinghy sailing have to do with balance, reaction time, flexibility, and technical skills for things like sail trim.)

               Initially, chin-ups may be hard, or even impossible. When I started I could barely do three, and not from fully extended to chin above the bar. Eventually I worked my way up to about 20, though not with very good form. When you start, at first your muscles don’t get bigger – they just rearrange themselves internally to better perform the work demanded of them. If you keep it up, and keep your protein intake adequate, they will get bigger too.

               When you do them, keep your palms facing away from you and your hands at about shoulder width (the woman in the picture has her hands just a little too far apart). After all, this is the configuration you’ll employ hauling yourself in over the transom, and not far off from when you’re pulling someone in by the shoulder straps of their PFD. Exercise every other day, since muscle tissue takes about 48 hours to rebuild after the stress of the exercise. Just pull yourself up as far as possible, even if it’s only an inch. No matter how many you can do, keep going until you’ve exhausted yourself to the point that you can barely raise yourself at all. Exercising your biceps to exhaustion strengthens them fastest.

               About the only other physical capabilities you need are flexibility and, occasionally, the ability to work to exhaustion. For flexibility, squatting is the most common stress you’ll put on your joints. Bending, twisting, etc. are obviously moves to cultivate. Endurance might come up if you have to fight a capsize in 20+ knot wind and three-foot waves, and if this interests you, look into HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). But your ability to pull yourself in and up the boat is much more often going to be put to the test.

               When you can post-capsize recovery pull yourself over the transom of the boat as the skipper thoughtlessly sails it away, think about a Senior test, if you’re not already there.

Why controlled gybes are important

20220217-190304laser-gybe whoops-gybe

I've had chance recently to sail with some skippers that did uncontrolled gybes, on purpose.  As in, that's just how they gybed.  We're going to unpack a lot here.  What is a controlled vs uncontrolled gybe?  Why does it matter?  What can go wrong with an uncontrolled gybe?  Before we can even define controlled vs uncontrolled, first I want to talk about different types of gybes and when they're appropriate.  But before we can do that, first we need to talk about two different modes of sailing: planing vs non-planing.

We'll keep this quick and simple.  Non-planing is the "normal" mode of a sail boat, and especially most of our boats, most of the time.  The boat is pushing its way through the water, reluctantly and (relatively) slowly.  The dinghies we learn and teach on operate in this mode, except for in extreme and exciting circumstances.  When you get into more high-performance boats, like our RS500, they are made to plane, which means they pop up on top of the water and, almost literally, start flying across the top of the water.

Why is this relevant to gybes?  Because you gybe these two types of boats very differently.  On a planing boat, its fastest point of sail is, by far, on a broad reach.  And often you're flying a gennaker, because that's what they're made for, so you're moving at near (or above) wind speed.  To gybe, you go from a broad reach at really high speed and drive down fast onto a dead run, at which point the apparent wind drops to almost nothing (because you're still planing and moving fast). As you keep turning through the wind, you just let the main sail flop over on its own, because there's very little pressure on it (pressure on the sail is determined by wind speed minus your speed.  i.e., apparent wind speed).  Then you keep turning up onto the new broad reach, maintaining your speed, and continue on your very merry way (or you don't do everything perfectly and you capsize, but ssshhh we don't tell people about those).  This is often referred to as a racing gybe, as you're doing it at high speed and with minimal loss of speed.

But on a non-planing boat, or more accurately, on a boat in non-planing mode, you want to gybe differently, which is from a stable dead downwind course.  This is how we generally teach gybing in our lessons.  Get on a dead run, grab the main sheet falls and pull the main across.  Here is how I like to teach it.  Now, what you DON'T want to do is perform a racing gybe when you're not planing – which would be an uncontrolled gybe.  Let's talk about why this is significant.

Remember, the reason a racing gybe works on a boat that's planing is because the force on the main is fairly low, so the actual flop of the gybe is relatively gentle.  But if you're not flying downwind at high speeds with the kite up, the force on the main sail is much higher (due to the higher apparent wind), so if you just turn through a downwind course and let the wind catch the back of the main and flop it across the boat, it's going to do so with MUCH more speed and force.  Several things happen here:

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The Quick Stop COB Procedure

Maneuver wText

The Quick Stop COB Procedure

There are several COB procedures, each with its advantages and disadvantages. On keelboats, there are more options than on dinghies, as you can  incorporate a gybe into the procedure without too much worry.

As in many aspects of sailing, the best procedure can be hotly debated. As Seamus Venecko famously said, "Ask 10 skippers, and you'll get 11 opinions and a fist fight". Personally, I am not religious about this. I have my favorites, both for dinghy and for keelboat (different), and I can argue their merits. But as a dinghy Junior tester, I will pass someone who can get to a stop right next to the target consistently using a procedure I've never seen before. The results count more than the method.

I want to talk about a procedure that works on  keelboats but not on dinghies, the Quick Stop. It was developed by the US Naval Academy some decades ago when they looked at the various procedures and didn't like any of them, so they invented a new one. What they didn't like was that in the all of the others, you tended to get too far from the COB, and so you might lose them in certain conditions (at night, in heavy seas, or both, exactly the kind conditions where it might happen). So they developed a procedure where you stay very close to the COB throughout the maneuver. This is the Quick Stop, and you'll see a number of descriptions online. I've experiemented with this on our boats (Commander and Merit) in various conditions with various sail plans, and this is what I think will work.

Basically, you tack around and leave the jib backed. Then you do a rough circle around the COB with the main sheeted in all the way, trying to get about 2 boat lengths away when you are going downwind abeam of the target. You gybe when you are clearly downwind of the target and round up hard (main is still sheeted in at this point). Then you blow the mainsheet and slow sail to the COB, which should be a boat length or so away.

Here is a diagram.

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The Very Useful Highwayman's Hitch and Departing Single-Handed


The Highwayman's Hitch is a wonderful, special-purpose knot. It is useful when you need the boat tied up for a short time, and you need to undo it quickly from a distance.

I use it all the time putting a boat into the water by myself with the hoist, but it is also useful when you are doing this with a helper in low tide. In that case, you generally lower the boat with the bow line either secured to the ramp or held by someone on the ramp. Then you have to get the line down to the dock to secure it there.

How do you do that? The wrong answer is drop the line and run around a get it, as the boat should be under control at all times. If the tide isn't too low, you could tie it to the ramp low enough to reach up and untie it from the dock, but that't not always possible. The Highwayman's Hitch is a more elegant solution.

I won't explain how to tie it, except to point to the Animated Knots animation.

You tie the knot around something on the ramp and drop the working end down. You tie it "on the bight" which means you don't need the end of the line to tie it. I just drop the end of the line (the working end) down and tie the knot. When it's tied correctly, it will hold the line to the boat securely, but it will come undone if you pull hard on the working end. So it doesn't matter where you tie it, as long as you can reach the working end from the dock.

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How (and why) not to anchor


We talk a lot about how, and when, to anchor properly, how and why to check your anchor is stored properly before leaving the dock, and what to do if things go wrong while anchoring.  Hopefully students are getting this talk several times while taking lessons, if not every lesson.  Anchoring can make your life easier, give you time to catch your breath, and save you from ending up on the rocks.

However, one thing we don't talk about often enough, imo, is why you maybe shouldn't be anchoring.  I will preface this as pertaining to junior skippers and above.  Students and novices should be anchoring early and often, for many reasons.  They take longer to deal with situations, and exhaust themselves more quickly in the process, because it's all new.  Newer sailors also tend to have poor positional awareness (where they are in relation to the lee shore, and how fast they're getting blown there).  I will also clarify that I still anchor (albeit rarely).  I check the anchor in case I need it, and re-run it if it doesn't look right.  I throw the anchor if there are problems and I'm getting close to shore.

But once you are a (decent) junior, your goal should be to anchor less and less.  I go so far as to say for me anchoring is a last resort.  I'll start with the why: 

1)  It's exhausting.  I know if I anchor in high winds, by the time I get the anchor back up and put away, I'm probably done sailing for the day.

2)  It takes a long time.  Even if I'm not done sailing, it's a long and arduous process that takes away from sailing.  If the goal is to get back to sailing quickly, anchoring is a bad way to get there.

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Foiler coming! Safety first, last, and damn they're fast!

Foiler coming!  Safety first, last, and damn they're fast!

There you are, plowing along on a dinghy or windsurf board, when a foiling windsurfer comes roaring up on a collision course* with you, coming from downwind of you, but on the same tack as you.

What to do?  Turns out, the foiler has right of way**, because they're downwind, and on the same tack.  Even though theyre going way faster than you are.

Best move is to head up sharply, to avoid the collision.  If you're lucky, once you head up you'll be on the same course as them, and you will then have right of way because they'll be overtaking you. 

In any event, always do what you can to avoid a collision, and try to forgive foilers for going so fast.

*always keep a careful eye out for anyone on a collision course with you.  Look for others who are getting closer while appearing to stay in the same place relative to objects that are far away (same compass course).

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Don't be afraid of the radio

Chatting with a buddy boat underway

Some radio advice for those that hope to start sailing the bay (or beyond).

It's required by Coast Guard that if you have a radio, you have to monitor channel 16.  There are good reasons for this.  But beyond talking to the dayleader for a radio check, we don't actually use the radio much.  On the keelboats, often times we get annoyed by all the chatter on 16 and just turn the radio down, which is understandable.  Usually if we're sailing, we're teaching, and the noise is a distraction.  Add to the fact that whenever we are monitoring, we hear a lot of official chatter that can make using it to hail another vessel, or the coast guard, seem like a big deal, which it isn't.  So spend some time listening to the radio.  Pay attention to how the coast guard talks.  If you're on a cruise or out in the bay near shipping channels, turn on channel 14 (vessel traffic).  You'll hear how the container ships and ferries talk to vessel traffic control about where they are and where they're headed.  That way if you do have to hail the coast guard it won't seem like an unfamiliar and big deal.

I had another opportunity to hail on the radio recently.  We were headed out of the gate and were between Angel Island and Alcatraz.  We had seen a container ship coming from Richmond that was now out of site, and could now see a container ship outside the gate, but couldn't tell which way it was going.  We were about to potentially be in the way of both of them, depending on where they were headed.  So I went to channel 14 and basically just asked 'hey where are these ships going?':

Me: Vessel traffic this is sailing vessel Mariya (not the name of my boat but it's not an easy, radio-friendly name, so I often make something up) on 14.  Do you copy?

VTS: *Hesitantly* Sailing vessel Mariya... this is vessel traffic?

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Lessons learned during a missing POB search


On the way back into the Berkeley marina on a Sunday afternoon, we heard a panicked 'maydaymayday, I'm in the water just off the Berkeley pier'.   

I had been watching a Santana 22 near the gap luffing it's main and bobbing around and was wondering what they were doing, so we knew about where the person must be.  There were 3 other sailboats nearby that must have had the same thought.  Everyone got their sails down and motors started ASAP and headed over to the boat.  We didn't see the person so we all went different directions in search.  The Coast Guard started talking to a couple of the boats about search efforts.
I'll give my timeline of events as we saw them.
It took about 15 minutes for the first CG boat to show up.  Another 15 for the helicopter.
In the meantime, one of the other sailboats went over to the adrift Santana, which was slowly sailing itself away from the pier (thankfully).  Someone hopped on and they started heading to the marina.
We kept running sweeps until the helicopter showed up and started circling.  Figuring they were going to see a person long before we could, we headed in, in very poor spirits.  After 30 minutes of not hearing the guy on the radio, and CG still searching, we were pretty sure we'd just heard someone's last words over the radio.  I thought 'I hope this isn't yet another story we hear too much that ends with "if they'd just been wearing a PFD...."'.
We'd been anchored out for the weekend, so we made a stop at the pump-out dock on the way in, and saw that the adrift boat had been brought there and tied up by it's rescuer, so we talked to the people that brought it in.  In a pleasant turn of news, apparently one of the other sailboat's found the guy early on and got him out of the water, but never radioed on 16.  So all of us, including Coast Guard, were out there searching for quite a while before anyone knew.  Later, the CG pulled up to us near the rescued boat and asked us to throw some of the gentleman's things inside, who had been taken to the hospital for hypothermia, but was otherwise fine.  I was glad to see one of the items was an auto-inflated PFD with radio attached.
Things I learned from the experience:
1)  Coast Guard response time is not always as fast as you would want it to be, especially if you're the one in the water.  Thankfully there were multiple boats right there.
2)  PFD and radio are crucial.  If he hadn't been able to call that mayday, even though there were boats nearby, who knows if anyone would have happened to notice him any time soon.
3)  Monitor 16.  The reason he got rescued quickly was because every boat in the area was listening on 16.  It's legally required to monitor, yes, but also you could literally save someone's life.  Think about if you're the one in distress calling a mayday.  I was very proud of the response by the sailors.  
4)  I haven't talked to the skipper, so I can't say what happened, but it was the end of the day and everyone was coming in, pulling down sails.  The jib was down on the foredeck and main still up, so it's likely he was out of the cockpit prepping to come into the marina, and fell off.  Remember the rule, one hand for yourself, one for the boat.  Always have a hold of something, especially when you're by yourself.  
Thankfully he did the big things right.  He had a PFD with a radio attached, which no doubt saved his life.  In sailing, things go wrong FAST when they decide to go wrong.  There is no 'oh I'm going to do this thing real quick, I don't need to put a PFD on.'  Which is why at the club we require a PFD at all times, and a radio when out of sight of the dayleader.
Stay safe out there, always.

Tire Bouchon, à plus tard!


Two of our fellow CSC members have casted off on an adventure many of us dream of! If you are interested in following their adventure, check out Team Bouchon. 

Yalcin (“Turkish guy”) and Marie (“Frenchick”) met here at CSC! For Yalcin his first time on a sailboat was after high school, when he took a keelboat trip in Turkey: “during this trip, we learnt the basics of sailing, how to tie knots, docking, anchoring, basic navigation etc. I got a basic crew certificate, I don't remember which yachting association issued it. I loved it so much! From then on, I always felt like if I ever had a chance to sail my boat full time, I was going to do it.”  Yalcin kept sailing while in the Mediterranean, but when he arrived in the USA as a graduate student his dream started to fade as he had not sailed in three years.  But then, he found a job in the bay area and started calculating how many years he’d need to work “to get a boat and save some money to sail her for a couple of years. I think I can say that as soon as I found the financial path, I started actively preparing for a trip. I, of course, had no idea what it would look like.” 

Marie also had some sailing experience on optimists as a kid, then Hobbie - and she also dreamt of one day sailing the world!  These two crossed paths at Cal Sailing Club and started to dream together.  At first by racing JY dinghies in our own south sailing basin, then “on the Bay on Ricochet, a Santana 22, and finally on Yalcin’s first keelboat, the beautiful lady Avocet, a Canadian Sailcraft 30 who taught the couple a lot about avoiding crab pods, make pizzas while grounded at the entrance of a cove, chinese gibes, raftups and dipping outside the protective Bay for a couple of days here and there…” They each got their junior skipper dinghy rating at CSC and at some point worked towards senior skipper, but became distracted with their own boat.

They spent lots of time picking out an appropriate boat for them.  Finally they purchased Tire-bouchon, an Ericson 38, which they brought from San Diego to Berkeley with our cruising skipper and friend Nick G and started to prepare the boat for an adventure one day, which was a challenge in a foreign country.  “Because I didn't know how to find a good service or source some parts. I have some boat building experience, I have curiosity to learn the sailboat systems so I read a lot. Information is excessively available thanks to the internet. But I always had a hard time finding a place that will do the job. Marine stores charge an arm and a leg for any service they offer. The small shops that would do a one off just for fun, some small talk and a small fee simply wasn't available to me in the US” (Yalcin).  

“In Turkey, I remember going to a shop that cut large plastic neon letters for store signs and getting them to cut marine plywood for us. We had to bring the right digital format and even the appropriate cutting bit for plywood but they let us use their machine for a few hours for a small charge. I remember helping them with their computer issues during the cuts. There were so many times I needed a tool or a custom job and I knew exactly where I could have gotten it done the way I wanted to if I was in Turkey; but I had to find a workaround because I didn't know any better. CSC was definitely a big resource for all my questions.” 

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Can You Slow Sail?

Saturday Docking
J Dock PP
J Dock Daisy

Slow sailing is a technique we teach for getting to a fixed point in space at a stop. The fixed point could be a dock, a buoy, a MOB, etc. The idea is to come in on a close reach approach course, where you have an accelerator and a brake. The accelerator is the main, pulling in on the fall, and the brake is the wind against the hull when you depower the main. The technique works for dinghies and for keelboats, although of course each boat responds differently, and each time you do it the dynamics of the wind and sea against the boat are different.

So my question is "Can you slow sail?" I'm not asking whether you can perform the basic technique – let's assume that. When you get on your final approach course for your target, can the boat slow sail to the target? Are you on a close reach? The reason I ask this question is that it is the most common problem I see teaching MOB and docking. I'll go through the cases below, but the take-away is that you should ask yourself this question when you start on your final approach and again if the wind shifts. If the answer is Yes, Bob's your uncle, so just slow sail to your target. If the answer is No, you have to do something, like adjust your course or abort the maneuver.

How to ask yourself the question

It's very simple, just see whether you have an accelerator and a brake when the boat is pointing toward the target. Pull in on the fall and see if the boat powers up without any luff in the sail. Let the sail out all the way and look for a big luff in the sail. If both of these happen, you can slow sail. If one of them does not, you can't. I can't emphasize enough that the boat must be pointed in the direction you want to slow sail when you do this.

The cases

I'll discuss MOB, dinghy docking in the South Basin, and West wind keelboat dockings at J-Dock. I will present only a cursory description of each procedure. The intent is to show you when you should ask yourself the question or a variant of it.


A basic technique we teach is broad reach away from the MOB and tack around to close reach back. This is not the only possible technique, and in keelboats you have more choices than in dinghies. The technique is described in more detail here and is illustrated below:

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Wild Rover adventure Home


Maybe having bananas on the boat was a mistake, but Nick really likes bananas!  Morning of departure the goal was to take off by 9am but sail boats never depart on time and the boys dealt with some Y valve issues with the head all morning.  Nick’s mom came out to Anacortes to wish him farewell and stock up on provisions for two weeks - we were definitely never hungry and ate quite well on the trip.  Thank you Chris!  

Wild Rover departed from Cap Sante Marina on Saturday September 5th.  At the marina Nick’s neighbor, Rubicon III, was doing the same trip down to Berkeley Marina which was nice to know a friend heading in the same direction.  Rod (owner of Rubicon III) paid Commander’s Weather Corporation to put together a detailed forecast for the sail down - which was very on point and made specific recommendations for the sail down.  Getting out of the Salish Sea the water was glossy so we motored most of the way - trying to avoid debris, birds and kelp forests.  The coast line included many coves to explore and forests.  The crew included Graeme, Ryan, Mariya and Nick for the first half of the trip.  We were all excited and stayed up chatting/taking pictures all day as Graeme worked and re-worked the watch schedule for 24 hour sailing he eventually realized there was 00 and 24 hour - so the math did not add up.  During the day we did 3 hour solo watches and after sunset each individual only had 1 hour by themseelves, and 2 hours of overlap with the person before then after.  So if Ryan was on watch 8pm - 11pm then 8-9pm he overlapped with Mariya and 10-11pm he overlapped with Nick to minimize desire to fall asleep and have extra hands for wind changes/sail changes etc. 

We kept strict rules that anyone leaving the cockpit had to be tethered in - and nobody was allowed to go up if they were the only ones on watch.  Day 2 we woke up to a foggy morning, swell was pretty tall and kept building up as the sun came out and wind came up.  A shark passed by us - Jaw soundtrack. The first day included a lot of motoring so the boys refilled the fuel, spilled some diesel on the boat (which we carefully cleaned up with the diapers and buckets) and fixed the head.  Off to a productive start - the winds picked up and we had a lovely sailing evening.  In the evening the wind picked up pretty quickly - within minutes we would be adjusting sail from the 135 full genoa … to reef the genoa, to one reef on main sail, well lets put in a second reef, and time for storm jib.  After getting the second reef in on day 2 - we actually never un-reefed the rest of the trip.  

Day 3 was a beautiful day!  We saw a dolphin swim alongside the boat - showing us how blue and transparent the water is.  Nick was concerned about the shrimp/crab pots so we stayed further offshore - we were about 20 miles away from the coast cruising over 5000 feet of water at times.  The sun was out and the winds were steady, towards the evening the winds again started to pick up quickly from the East so we reacted fast and were prepared with the storm jib (which we ended up keeping packed up on the bow and already attached to the halyard) and double reef learned our lesson from the night before how quickly the wind may come up.  

The swell and winds continued to build. At this point Ryan is puking overboard, Nick is happily eating a grilled sandwich, Graeme looks concerned and Mariya is taking pictures and upset she cannot get a great shot of the sunset because Ryan keeps being in the picture.   Then the wind came up even more and we took down the mainsail and sailed storm jib alone.  Now the sun is down and the wind is coming up.  Eventually we end up taking the storm jib down (bare poles) and trying to motor against the wind to get us closer to shore - this was a strong east wind.  Then Nick says, “wouldn’t it suc.k if the motor dies.”  Whelp, a few minutes later the motor dies.  Bare poles, large swell, very very windy - Nick is steering, eventually finds he has the wheel hard over and the boat feels pretty stable.  He tells Graeme he is off shift and can go under - ties down the wheel and stays in the cockpit to observe how the boat handles. 

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How to Properly Reef Main Sail


Video by Jack Chen. Instruction and Narration by Saul Schumsky.

This video is meant to provide some guidance for sailors at Cal Sailing Club on how to properly reef the mainsail. Reefing correctly will help minimize wear on the sail, as well as give the sailors a better experience on the water during those summer months on the San Francisco Bay. The demonstration is done on the JY-15 dinghy but is also applicable to the RS Quest as well as the club Keelboats.

Click here to view video

Volunteer spotlight: Ryan Alder

ryan alder

You may know Ryan Alder from the dinghy repair clinics that he started with Memo a couple of weeks ago, or because you bought one of his cool CSC T-shirts, hats or sweaters. You may know Ryan from a dinghy lesson, from open house, from a blog post even, or simply because he is one of the familiar faces that is often at the club. It is sometimes brought up that it is not always easy to be a new member of our CSC community: you arrive at the club, you don't know anyone and most of the time, not much about sailing nor how the club works. We all remember those dark days... But some members make a point to recognize newbies and to be encouraging from one week of lessons to the other. When I started sailing at CSC three years ago, Ryan was one of those members. That helped me know when I could consider getting tested for junior. Since then, he became a senior skipper and has helped many others to get at these difficult tests.
On top of that, Ryan is also Third-Vice Commodore at the club executive committee. This means that in addition to numerous meetings, he is in charge of our fleet of six keelboats, which he recently update with a J80 keelboat, a performant racer that could very well take the club keelboat practice to the next level!
Ryan grew up on motor boats in the Midwest and started sailing CSC six years ago. He now lives on his 30 footer, Kakelekele, in the Berkeley marina. Another excuse to be at (or at least stop by) CSC almost every day!
What made you start sailing?
"Having grown up on/near water I got sick of looking at this beautiful bay and started trying to figure out a way to get out on it and enjoy it. Most options were cost-prohibative until I finally found CSC."
What do you like about sailing in general and the club in particular?
"I fell in love with sailing because it is both a physical and mental challenge, and there is always more to learn. Whatever stage you're at, there is something new to strive towards or improve upon."
"And I love the club because there are so many people that care about and give so much to the club. We make some of the best sailors in the bay, which is one of the most challenging places to sail in the world, and we do it all at virtually no cost to anyone. Because we all share and believe in what we do. I heard tale of someone writing a paper on the club for a sociology or economics class, and the teacher didn't believe them and thought they made it up because 'there's no way that would work in the real world'. But here we are after 50-80 years (depending on who you talk to), still doing it."
What's your best memory at the club?

"Hmm this is a hard one, there are so many. The one that stands out right now is from this past summer. James led a dinghy camping cruise to Angel Island, which is a logistical feat in itself, and everyone had a blast. The next day we all made a gate run before heading back. The fog came in pretty thick on the way and there was some discussion on if we were still going to do it. After careful consideration we decided to go for it and make sure to stay in close visual contact. After crossing under the bridge (which we could barely see in the fog) and turning back downwind, we all hoisted the gennekers. Seeing absolutely nothing except fog and all 4 ventures in close proximity flying kites downwind will be one of the most beautiful and awesome experiences I'll ever have."

More about this adventure in Pan Pan from Seamus.
Any sailing dreams?
"My ultimate dream is to sail the Carribean or the Meditteranean.  Good wind, beautiful weather, warm water.  Although if I do I'm pretty sure I'll never come back."
What advice/recommendation would you give to a new club member?

"Talk to people. Ask sailing and windsurfing questions. This is, even more than sailing, a social club. Progress gets much easier when you start to get to know some people. Come hang out even if you don't intend to go sailing, especially on a weekend when the clubhouse deck is full of bench sailors. Beyond that: sail, sail, sail. Don't worry about specific skills. It's all about time at the tiller in increasingly challenging conditions. When you start just having fun in higher and higher winds, all the other stuff gets easy."

Could you give us more detail about your role as Third Vice Commodore of our club?

"As 3rd vice I'm in charge of the keelboat fleet. We have a small handful of amazing people that handle most of the maintenance of the boats, namely Greg and Sheldon (and Peter for the motors). So honestly, thanks to them, my role is fairly easy. I mostly manage the keelboat budget and try to make sure they have the resources and support to do what they do best."


Thanks to Ryan and all the CSC volunteers that make our club the way it is, a fantastic place to learn sailing and windsurfing and an amazing community.

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Some Points about Launching Dinghies on a Crowded Dock

Launching   Toward Sea Wall
Launching   Away from Sea Wall
Lean Steering

We're talking Saturdays, especially in the summer, where the dock is full and you're right next to boats on either side. Pretty normal, and we teach it. Back out, using a backed main or not, tiller centered until you clear the other boats, then steer the stern toward the sea wall (want to go to Emeryville? tiller to Emeryville). Power up the main and go.

I did a "Between the Docks" workshop recently, where we covered all of the bad things that can happen on launching or docking, how to prevent them, and how to handle them when they happen (and they will, to the best of us).

What you want to avoid is heading out in the wrong direction, toward the sea wall instead of Emeryville. It happens at times, but how does this happen? Clearly, you get turned the wrong way backing out of the dock. But other than complete misuse of the tiller, what contributes to this?

As always, I learn a lot when I teach, and I picked up some critical points in this workshop, watching the students go through their launching/docking/heading for the sea wall drills. The points all fall into the "obvious when you think about them or have them pointed out, but not obvious earlier". So I hope these fall into that category for you.

Here are some things to consider.

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The "Mystery Ring" on a Venture, or how to avoid a dismasting

The "Mystery Ring" on a Venture, or how to avoid a dismasting
Ring Hidden

I described a rig failure due to a missing or failed cotter ring on a Venture a year and a quarter ago:

Cotter rings and some other trivial pieces of hardware are what hold the boat together. When you have two parts of the boat coming together, like a shroud and the deck fitting, there's usually a pin doing the job and something like a cotter ring preventing the pin from coming out. It could be a shackle or a lock-tight nut, but it's usually a cotter ring or Cotter pin.

It's hard to over-emphasize inspecting these pins before you take the boat out, as failure on the water can ruin your day (see above). I don't think many of our Junior skippers or even, dare I say it, all of our Senior skippers would have been able to get control of the dismasting situation and sail the boat home.

When I teach boat inspection, I talk about this and tell the students to find all of the cotter rings or other things and determine whether they're sound, and I explain how they fail and what to look for.But on the RS Venture, there's what I now call the Mystery Ring, which is what failed in the cruise I referenced above. If you don't know it's there, you'd never check it. That's how it happened on my cruise.

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