The San Francisco Bay Area is famous for its microclimates. This is true on the land and on the water. Sailing into ‘Hurricane Gulch,’ the ‘Slot,’ the ‘Richmond Riviera’ or the Oakland Estuary can all be very different experiences, and all can be experienced in a single daysail. The Corinthian Yacht Club’s first Friday night race of the season easily demonstrated this in a one-hour, five-mile race. Some of our crew arrived from the city describing the whitecaps and strong breeze that would likely mean we should reef. The Windy.com forecast was for winds in the upper teens but perhaps dropping as the evening went on. All data are helpful in sorting out how you might set up your sails and plan your strategy, but it can all go out the porthole once you get to the start line. Such was the case on Friday.
We held off on the reefing and reached around the Belvedere Cove microclimate to explore the breeze and fading ebb. The foulies that had been donned for the blow were removed as we warmed up in the sun and on flat water. The breeze howling through the Gate looked as if it was disappearing from the normal windward mark of Little Harding. What once looked like a roaring thrash around the course was becoming a question of whether we’d finish by sunset.
By start time the breeze had virtually disappeared, but the current was about slack, so whatever motion you could muster would conceivably get you on your way. During the first 20 painful minutes, with drooping sails and weight to leeward, we headed toward the Bay, looking for the first wisps of wind to come around Belvedere Point. Soon a wind line reappeared, moving toward the fleet, and just as suddenly as the wind had disappeared, it returned. Sails were filled and we were off to Little Harding.
Now we were rail-down, weight to weather, tightening halyards and easing sheets, trying to keep her flat and fast. A hard jibe at Little Harding, a big grind-in at Knox to head back to the windward set mark, a big ease as we rounded and joined the now-building flood to ride back to Elephant Rock off the Caprice restaurant, and then a final turn in a fading breeze to fight the flood for a few hundred yards to the finish. A perfectly normal Friday night. There are more obstacles in this short, five-mile loop than on your average miniature golf course. The legs are far too short to consider sail changes, so what you choose at the start is what you’ll have at the finish. From there it’s gear-shifting and making the best of what you’ve got.
While race committees everywhere strain to set perfectly square lines and courses that create the elusive, mythical ‘fair’ sailing arena, the average Friday night race is set up to fire a gun and go, regardless of what’s out there. To us that’s much more fun. If you want a course that never changes, take up swimming. With a new riddle to solve every week and frequent wild cards dropped onto the table, you should never count yourself out. And despite all that’s going on, we never miss taking a moment to savor the fog coming over the Sausalito hills, the reflections from San Francisco and the Oakland hills glistening in the setting sun, and the growing shadow of Mt. Tam expanding to the east.
Signing up for a beer can series is one of the best things you can add to your weekly rituals. The microclimates available from South Beach’s Friday night series, Sausalito on Tuesdays, or Wednesdays at the St. Francis, Richmond or the Estuary — they’re all just starting now and run until September. You can find a microclimate and preferred weeknight to suit your style in our sailing calendar.
The Resourceful Sailor has given us lots of tips and tricks about conducting repairs on our boats. Recently he’s been up to something different and has sent us the following post and video describing how to warp your sailboat at the dock. Wondering what that means? Read on …
According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the third entry of “warp,” as a verb, defines it as: “to move (something, such as a ship) by hauling on a line attached to a fixed object.”
I have warped Sampaguita, my Flicka 20 sailboat, many times at various places. I sometimes find it easiest and safest to move the boat around in tight spaces with guiding lines while remaining on the dock.
Sampaguita is full-keeled. Under power, she makes wide turns and can be temperamental about going backward. The outboard motor is mounted off-center on the transom, so no propeller wash is flowing over the rudder. I can angle the prop side to side for maneuverability, but prop walk effects are atypical, and the traditional technique of ‘back and fill’ does not apply. (What are those, you say? Subjects of a different article.)
At times, the outboard engine has been off the boat for some DIY maintenance. Or I have been at shallow docks and wished the boat were pointing the opposite way. Or I was just feeling that the process of rinsing and flushing the motor afterward was too much trouble. No problem, I warped it around.
Warping the boat takes some planning. A couple of long lines on opposite sides are necessary, as are fenders. Each location will take a different approach, and nature has a way of constantly changing the variables. I like to imagine my way through the process first and test the boat before I fully cast off the lines. I factor in wind and currents and try to use them to my advantage. If they are too strong, opposing each other, or pinning the boat to the dock, I may wait for a more favorable time or get some helping hands. Improvisation on the theme is often necessary.
The following video is just one specific circumstance. In this particular case, there is no wind, but a slight current is flowing into the slip. The boat drifts back to the dock, so I pivot it around with my foot. A Flicka 20 is a ‘big’ little boat. With the weight and windage, choosing the wrong time or trying to hurry can be trouble. I have had to drop emergency hitches onto nearby cleats, feeling the boat would get away from me or pull me in. I go slow, feel how the boat will handle, work with the natural forces, and guide it.
Video by: The Resourceful Sailor
Usually, I can do this maneuver by myself. I imagine there would be a bit more of everything with a larger boat. Happy warping.
The Resourceful Sailor aims to offer tips to help keep fellow boaters on the water. Remember, keep your solutions prudent and safe, and have a blast.
The Pacific Sail and Power Boat Show may have been cancelled, but we’ve got you covered! Get to Know Jeanneau at Club Nautique in Alameda, CA. You’re invited to come and see some of Jeanneau’s best-selling models at this ‘by appointment only’ event. Appointments are available every hour on the hour from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Royal Gazette, Bermuda’s only daily newspaper, is reporting that SailGP’s Season 2 opener on April 24-25 is in jeopardy. More significantly at risk is the health of Bermuda’s residents and visitors. The island country is on lockdown due to a surge in coronavirus cases.
Until now, Bermuda has done well in combating the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a bulletin warning even fully vaccinated travelers to avoid Bermuda due to “very high” COVID-19 levels. The island’s government issued a stay-at-home order at 5 a.m. on April 13. The lockdown will be in effect for at least a week. The order shut down all nonessential businesses.
Latitude 38 contributor Mark Reid, who had been planning to travel to Bermuda to cover the racing, has canceled his trip. “A few of the teams have arrived,” he says. “They’re sequestering in their team bases and the race village, which is closed to the public. All media coverage is remote. There are no photo boats. Press conferences will be streamed. Even Bermudians will not be able to attend, and public viewing areas are closed.”
All SailGP operations at the league’s headquarters on Cross Island, including work on the boats, have hit the brakes. “Sir Russell Coutts, the SailGP chief executive, confirmed last night that the facility is now off limits amid discussions between his organisation and the Government in the hope of being granted clearance to resume operations,” reports Colin Thompson in the Royal Gazette.
“We’ve been talking to the government officials today, because clearly this situation is potentially really problematic for us,” Coutts said yesterday.
Coutts says that when the league shut down after February 2020, they made significant changes to the control systems and electronics. “The teams have not had a lot of time in these boats yet. In fact only three of the teams have now sailed these boats in Bermuda, and only for a very limited number of days.”
The sailors really need some sea time in the complex boats. “When things go wrong in these boats and they are doing the speeds that they are, definitely, safety is a consideration,” said Coutts.
“The New Zealand boat arrived in Bermuda unfinished, because it takes considerable time to build these boats,” he said. “And with the current disruption with the shipping schedule, we thought it was safer to get the boat to Bermuda and finish it here, rather than risk finishing it in New Zealand.
“If we lock our staff down for a week or even a few days, we’re almost certainly not going to get that boat finished in time for racing in the event.”
Weather has also limited preparations. “Worst-case scenario, if we lost too many days we would not be able to safely hold the event. We’d have to cancel, which of course none of us want to do.”
In this month’s Latitude 38 magazine, we caught up with Mary Elkins and Tim Lewis aboard their Oyster 435, Euphoria Too.
There are many possible ways to launch a cruising adventure, as I’ve learned. A familiar choice is to find a boat close to home and spend weeks, months or years preparing it before sailing away. Another option is to find one in a foreign port and start there. When pandemic travel restrictions get in the way, for a handful of sailing nuts (such as myself and my partner Tim), the latter includes buying a faraway boat sight unseen.
Five years ago, when I fell in love with sailing, I couldn’t unsee its many possibilities. A year later, landing a job at a sailing school would pull those possibilities closer. My role there underwent many changes over the past four years, the latest of which is to work for the same sailing school remotely, from aboard a sailboat in the Caribbean.
The route to this new life was unconventional from the start. I left a good job for a better one that paid less in a place notorious for high rents. Living arrangements changed from four walls, to wheels, to boats, and back to walls — all to sail often and earn certifications while saving for a bluewater pocket cruiser of my own. My job at Sausalito’s Modern Sailing School & Club enabled this pursuit. The best part was finding dear friends and a sense of belonging in a diverse community of kindred spirits. As much as I enjoy sailing in circles on the Bay while bundled up to my eyeballs in fleece and foulies, working in the BVI in early 2018 as first mate on a week-long private charter spoiled me. I began to dream of warmer possibilities. My job and friendships helped me hold off the cravings for blue water and balmy sunshine for a while. A lot of cold, gray rain loosened my grip. A year later, I tearily hauled all the way to Florida in search of warmer sailing and a lower cost of living. To my surprise, I also found my sailing sweetheart, Tim Lewis, there.
Please go to Latitude38.com to read more.
Are you looking at selling your boat? Don’t delay. The May issue Classy Classified deadline is tomorrow! Thursday, April 15 at 5 p.m.
Submit your ad here: https://www.latitude38.com/adverts/add-classy-boat/
Or place a FREE AD – Online only, here: https://www.latitude38.com/adverts/add-classy-online-only/
Do it now and beat the deadline: Thursday, April 15, 5 p.m.