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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 email@example.com (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.
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.
“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!"
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!
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!
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.