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June 10, 2020

Hey YRA Racers: #raiseyoursails on #summersailstice

Recently, US Sailing VP Rich Jepsen recalled Bay Area legend Tom Blackaller saying, “Why would anyone ever just go sailing?” It’s a good question. At least for racers. This is because when racers are forced to relax they get all stressed out. Conversely, when cruisers and recreational sailors are forced to race they get all stressed out. With most racing canceled but so many boats categorized as ‘racer/cruisers’, Summer Sailstice and the Yacht Racing Association have teamed up to create a Goldilocks activity that fits between nail-biting competition and relaxing ‘just going sailing’.

Close action sailing
Not everyone finds this moment fun. Others just love it.
© 2020 Summer Sailstice

Saturday, June 20, is the 20th annual Summer Sailstice celebration of sailing. The YRA is inviting all Bay Area sailors to join the Summer Sailstice YRA Photo Treasure Hunt. Unlike racing, it is completely disorganized. There is no start time, no start location, no course, no rating rules and no pre- or post-regatta party. However, there is a chance to win. When you RSVP for the YRA Photo Treasure Hunt and post #photos of Bay Area landmarks, you become eligible to win a free entry in the rescheduled Great Vallejo Race or a free 2021 PHRF certificate. You will also be entered to win prizes from the full Summer Sailstice list.

Keep it simple. Sail where you want, when you want and post your hashtagged photos to Instagram.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

You can cruise as comfortably as you like or race around as fast as you like. It doesn’t matter. Your rating can be -66 or 270 and you have an equal chance of winning. From the submitted photos, winners will be chosen completely at random. But to win you do have to enter, sail, and post your photos. We’d guess this is too tame for Tom Blackaller and many racers, but it’s better than not sailing at all or not having a chance to win.

Cruising to Vallejo
If a cruiser wins the Vallejo Race entry they can sail it as a cruising rally with a party at the end.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

You can read more about it in the Sightings section of the current issue of Latitude 38. We look forward to seeing you on the water when you #raiseyoursails on June 20 and again in Vallejo, where we’ll greet the winner of both the free entry and the class winners.

If you’re a South Bay sailor you can join a similar event created by Winston Bumpus, PICYA staff commodore and member of  The Club at Westpoint in Redwood City. If you’re anywhere else in the world create your own!

Summer Sailstice 2020
#raiseyoursails for Summer Sailstice.
© 2020 Summer Sailstice

Could ‘Circle Spoofing’ Be Ingenious Hackers?

Last Friday we brought you the story of a series of mysterious AIS displacements that had analysts baffled as to their cause. Bjorn Bergman, a researcher with the West Virginia-based nonprofit organization SkyTruth, had said that his search for an explanation was hampered by a lack of “commonality between the vessels and incidents.” The most recent observation involved a number of vessels that were reportedly circling in waters northwest of San Francisco, but in actuality were in various physical locations around the world. The phenomenon was so curious to the learned few that the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation (RNT) had expressed its hope to hear from people who might have ideas or insights that could help solve the mystery. Personally, the crew at Latitude 38 were just as baffled as the experts. However it seems some of our readers have insights that may prove valuable in the explanation of the reported ‘circle spoofing’ mystery.

The vessel-circling mystery continues.
© 2020

One-time sailor turned game developer Scott Goffman says he’s currently working on a project in which he inadvertently replicated almost the exact opposite scenario from what he thinks may have resulted in the now-nicknamed “AIS crop circles.”

“I’m a game developer currently working on a naval combat game, and just last week I was fixing a bug where enemy ships were being generated inside of a circle radius instead of along the circle’s edge,” Scott said. “Basically the exact opposite problem as in my hacker theory, but based on the same mistake.”

The mistake Scott was referring to is hidden inside his theory that the circles are the result of hackers learning how to intercept and spoof GPS data.

Scott’s theory looks like this:

  1. They’re choosing random ships to test on (hence the variety of ship types).
  2. They’re intercepting the positions reported by those ships (either from the satellites or, more likely, on the terrestrial servers where the data are then stored).
  3. They’re replacing those positions with their own.
  4. Their code for replacement involves their picking a new location (in this case, near San Francisco).
  5. They then apply a random offset in a circle around that point. But they had a bug in their code! They meant to choose a random point within a range of their chosen positions, but accidentally generated a random point at a range from their chosen position.

So they did something like this:
var angle = _random.Next() * (Math.PI * 2);
var x = _originX + (_radius * Math.Cos(angle));
var y = _originY + (_radius * Math.Sin(angle));
return new Point( x, y );

Which Scott says “looks like it would do the job, but the alleged hackers had forgotten to randomize the radius. I would bet that shortly after that test they fixed the bug, and their subsequent tests haven’t been noticed.”

Coming from someone who grew up crewing on his father’s sailboat, and is now developing a naval combat game, it stands to reason that Scott has some knowledge to support his theory. However he too is interested in hearing other readers’ thoughts on the seemingly random location issue.

We’re keen to hear from our readers as well. So far no one in our ‘circle’ has provided a better or even plausible theory, so if you have one, let us know; we’d love to hear from you.

Most of us have played the game Battle Ships in one form or another. Perhaps hacking GPS systems is just an extension of youthful dedication.
© 2020 Google Images

Local Dine-in Cruising Destinations

Here’s a question for our readers: What are your favorite waterfront restaurants that offer space to tie up a boat or are located less than three blocks from a marina?

Brotzeit Restaurant
Brotzeit Lokal is open for both takeout and dining in. Their docks include a 45-ft guest slip with 7-ft draft.
© 2020 Brotzeit Lokal

What’s Reopening?

If you’re like us, you’ve been landlocked and sheltering at home, with on-the-water activity likewise constrained. We’ve been doing lots of maintenance on our boats, and many of you have as well. Cruising plans have been scaled back or postponed. Races have been canceled. Meanwhile we’ve been supporting the local mom-and-pop cafés and ordering lots of takeout food.

Now comes the thaw in our local county shelter-in-place orders, and we’re hearing from our friends in marinas and cafés. The waterfront is returning from deepfreeze to some kind of new normal.

We checked in with Tony and Krista Graniere, who sail San Francisco Bay on their Cheoy Lee 38 and own the Brotzeit Lokal German Restaurant and Waterfront Biergarten, located in Oakland and shown above. They’re open outdoors and ready to welcome people for drinks and food. Tony mentioned they have a 45-ft guest slip and some smaller berths out front, all available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Grand Marina, located roughly opposite Brotzeit Lokal on the Alameda side of the Oakland Estuary, is also up and operating. “We offer guest slips subject to availability. Mosley’s Café is onsite, and they provide outdoor seating and takeout. We have limited space available for the café; guests will need to call in advance. They can call or email for availability,” says Cheri Berggren, assistant harbormaster at Grand Marina.

Those are just a couple of examples, and that’s why we need your help. We’re interested in sharing your favorite destinations for dine-in cruising, located in your favorite haunts on San Francisco Bay, the Delta and Monterey Bay. We’ll add your suggestions to our online Boat-in Dining Guide that we’re now updating, and publish the best ones in the August edition of our Latitude 38 magazine. We’ll send free stuff, Latitude 38 shirts or hats, to the folks who send in the best answers. Please send us your favorites via email.

Cal Sailing Club to Reopen After Success with Remote Instruction

When shelter-in-place orders were declared in six Bay Area counties to slow the spread of COVID-19, sailing clubs, along with all non-essential businesses, had to suspend their activities. The Berkeley-based Cal Sailing Club was no exception. Even though CSC has not been able to bring members onto the water for 86 days, creative volunteers have come up with ways to keep the community engaged, via remote gatherings, for instance. In return, the community has answered the call when the nonprofit’s survival was jeopardized by the situation. Recently, a team of volunteers has been testing safe protocols to bring members back onto the water.

CSC is planning a limited reopening today.

A lone Cal Sailing Club dinghy begs for sailors on a beautiful Berkeley evening. With any luck, CSC will soon be repopulated with people.
© 2020 Marie-Cécilia Duvernoy

“Cal Sailing shut down on March 16. We didn’t know how long this would last, but it became clear quickly that when we did reopen, we would be operating under considerable restrictions,” said John Bongiovanni, rear commodore of CSC, who’s in charge of sailing instruction. Online instruction appeared as a natural way to maintain an advanced, typically classroom-based study group that CSC holds annually. Video lessons and an online discussion group fostered the exchanges between students and instructors beyond expectations.

This success led John to expand online instruction to the club’s general membership. “This would keep up interest and momentum while we were closed and allow members to continue to learn about sailing even though they couldn’t get on the water.” So far, five sessions have been offered, bringing together an average of 30 Cal Sailors over Zoom. “We’re realizing that the video lessons have been much more than something we could offer when we couldn’t do anything else,” John commented. He sees remote learning as an excellent complement to the on-water sessions that the club generally prioritizes. In addition, John noted that “some work could serve as a library available to members to supplement what they are learning on the water,” such as the sessions about community racing, which are available on YouTube.

But running a sailing club involves fixed costs — even if the club is closed — like rent and boat insurance. At CSC, the beginning of the sailing season usually goes with a wave of new memberships that fund the bulk of the club’s basic operating costs. No activity meant no money for insurance or rent, threatening the very existence of the volunteer-run nonprofit.

On any given sunny day, the Cal Sailing Club would have loads of people sitting on the steps and bench. But it’s been a veritable ghost town since the lockdown.
© 2020 Richard Hintz

On March 23, CSC members received a call for help that was overwhelmingly heard: In less than two days, the community had contributed annual memberships and donations to cover the $25,000 missing in the club’s treasury. Paul Dominis, one of the donors, explained, “I donated simply because I love the club and its people so much. It is the quintessential supportive community and provides a unique, affordable and very comprehensive way to develop outstanding sailing skills. There was no way I could stand by and let the jewel of the Bay sink into the muck and disappear.”

Nelz Carpentier, another donor said “I feel like a CSC membership is one of the best values in the entire Bay Area, and I could not let CSC face an existential threat without lending a helping hand.” Along with them, more than 80 members bought annual memberships to be activated when the club can function again.

Regarding CSC’s limited reopening today, Mariya Ryazantseva, a member of the reopening team and nurse practitioner by profession, stressed that safety is the priority of the club. “We have no reason to reopen too soon as we are a nonprofit and we are not a necessity. CSC is supposed to be a relaxing environment, and we want to make it as safe as possible so people can enjoy themselves when they come.”

The protocol strictly limits the days on which the club is open, as well as the number of members that can sail on these days. In addition, every sailor and windsurfer will have to pass an awareness test about COVID symptoms and club protocols to use the facility. “I’m incredibly proud of the work the ExComm members have done to forge a plan that gets folks out on the water while taking reasonable precautions for reducing transmission risks,” said Carpentier. Speaking online, nearly every member sounded eager to get back on the water.

Click here to check out CSC’s YouTube channel.

The Weekend Report
Sailors will no doubt debate the particulars of any given moment of weather, but there was some consensus that the preceding three days of wind, which blew from the north-northwest and was marked by 30-plus-knot gusts, was more characteristic of early spring than early June.
Scientists Turn to Alameda’s Saildrone This week is World Oceans Week. One of our friends shared this story on social media, and we could not resist passing it along.
Schedule Updates and More
Stockton Sailing Club and Richmond Yacht Club canceled June 6's Delta Ditch Run. However, someone forgot to tell the social-bubble crews of 10 Moore 24s and a Melges 24.
Solo Circumnavigator
At a time when organized racing has been curtailed and sailing with household members is the current guideline, we thought we'd remind you of the thoughts Webb Chiles shared…