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August 4, 2023

Happy Birthday, United States Coast Guard

Did you know that today is the US Coast Guard’s birthday? We heard about it recently, though we still haven’t received our birthday party invitation (what’s with that?). Regardless, we will share what we know.

As we understand, this is the Coast Guard’s 233rd birthday. The UCSG traces its origins to August 4, 1790, when the first Congress authorized construction of 10 vessels to enforce tariff and trade laws, prevent smuggling, and protect the collection of federal revenue. Over the years their responsibilities have increased to include humanitarian duties such as aiding mariners in distress.

The service received its current name in 1915, when the Revenue Cutter Service (initiated by Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury) merged with the US Life-Saving Service to form a single maritime service dedicated to the safety of life at sea and enforcing the nation’s maritime laws.

And here are a few other bits and pieces:

The Lighthouse Service was created by George Washington in 1789, consolidating responsibility for 12 colonial-era lighthouses. The Commissioner of Revenue was established in 1792 and the Lighthouse Service absorbed into it at that time. In 1939, the Lighthouse Service merged with the Coast Guard. After years of DIY-ing water rescues, civilian volunteers were relieved by the US Life-Saving Service in 1848.

The Coast Guard is a multi-mission maritime military service, which comprises approximately 40,000 active-duty personnel and 7,000 reservists. Its mission is to protect the public, the environment and US economic interests in the nation’s waterways, along the coast, on international waters, or in any maritime region as required to support national security.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all Coast Guard personnel for their efforts at keeping us and our fellow sailors safe, and for their countless hours spent searching for and rescuing mariners in distress (just take a look at some of the stories we’ve shared), and to wish them all a happy birthday. Now, where’s our cake?!

Delta Sailors Meet Unexpected Wait by a Bridge

Josh and Candace Williams were making their way up the Delta aboard their Hunter Legend 37.5 Nalu when they encountered a bridge delay. Josh wrote to let us know so we could share this and warn other sailors and Delta Doo Dah participants. Apparently the Rio Vista Bridge and Three Mile Slough Bridge are both under repair and require a four-hour notice for openings. “All summer,” Josh wrote.

“We didn’t bother to check the LNM and assumed we’d hear a Coast Guard broadcast for any issues (such as a partially submerged vessel in Georgiana Slough). Fortunately we only had to wait 30 minutes to sneak in with a tug, but please let people know.”

The Delta waterways are dotted with bridges and diversions. If you’ve sailed up and down a lot, it can be easy to assume you know all the opening schedules; we’ve been guilty of that. But after reading what happened on Josh and Candace’s sail, we’re reminded to check the schedules, look for notices and reports, and maybe chat with the locals if you can.

Delta Threemile slough lift-bridge
Three Mile Slough Bridge has a closed vertical clearance of 10 feet.
© 2023

Thankfully 30 minutes was all it took on this occasion, but we can imagine some people possibly having places to be that a four-hour delay would interrupt. Well, they say that when sailing, all schedules should be loose, or abandoned altogether. Whatever way you plan (or don’t plan) your Delta sailing adventures, we echo Josh and Candace’s words: ” … safe summer travels.”

Delta Ditch Run
If you do end up having to wait by a bridge, there are worse places to spend your time.
© 2023 Slackwater SF

If you want to join the Delta Doo Dah — the do-it-yourself rally that includes opportunities to meet, sail, and/or socialize with fellow fleet members — there’s still time, with registrations closing on August 31. Here’s a schedule of events happening all along the Delta until the end of September: Delta Doo Dah Events.

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Expanding Sailing Skills: Women at the Helm and Women’s Sailing Seminar

Get ready, ladies; there are two excellent sailing events coming up, just for you! Yes, you can now say, “It’s all about me!” Island Yacht Club and Club Nautique are each hosting a sailing event that focuses on getting women onto the water and learning even more about sailing. The first event is this month, with the other taking place in September.

Club Nautique Alameda will hold its first Women at the Helm Weekend on August 26 and 27. Created in cooperation with the Ballena Bay Yacht Club, this inaugural event is focusing on women who have at least a basic keelboat/ASA level of experience and up through passagemaking experience.

“We know that there are a lot of women who enjoy sailing, but lack the confidence to go out on their own because most of their experience is sailing with others,” Club Nautique’s Stephanie LaChance said. “We want to change that, to help women feel confident to take the helm themselves so that they can handle the boat on their own or in the event of an emergency.”

Each session will be led by women instructors to deliver education, connection, and time on the water. Participants will be grouped based on skill level and assigned to boats commensurate with that skill level, so that even the more experienced sailors will find the sessions informative and challenging. Whether you received your sailing training through Club Nautique, another school, or other on-the-water training, you’ll have the opportunity to enhance your skills by learning from other women on the water.

“The more women on the water the better!” Stephanie said.

The weekend includes breakfast, lunch, a Saturday evening reception, a Sunday afternoon reception, and a swag bag.
© 2023

Sessions run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at Club Nautique Alameda, 1150 Ballena Blvd. Suite 161, Alameda. For more details and registration go to: Women at the Helm.

The next event on the calendar is the 31st Annual Island Yacht Club Women’s Sailing Seminar. Again, this event is focused on women sailors learning, sailing, and laughing together. The weekend covers everyone from Sea Sprites — “Geared to the novice who has never set foot on a boat, or done a little sailing but not understanding sailing fundamentals” — to Wind Warrior, Sail Goddess, and everything in between, including racing and safety. And if you’re not sure which group to sign up for, there’s a handy self-assessment sheet on the website.

Sessions are taught by experienced women sailors, both professional and recreational, whose collective expertise covers thousands of hours on the water. Plus, after 30 years, these gals have developed an interesting, informative and fun weekend packed with instruction both on and off the water, but of course, with more boat time than anything else. The weekend includes breakfast, lunch and snacks, raffles and silent auctions, and definitely swag!

“Learning sailing skills does not have to be scary!”
© 2023

The seminar will run from Friday night, September 8, to the evening of Sunday, September 10. Find more information and register here: IYC Women’s Sailing Seminar.

Still Wylie After All These Years

Tom Wylie has pulled off an extraordinary achievement. We’re not just talking about his boats, which are marvelous in their own right and diverse in appearance, materials and rigging, but always connected by the common thread of sleek, refined elegance. Warwick ‘Commodore’ Tompkins, who owns the Wylie 39 Flash Girl, said of the new Wylie-designed C3, “A lovely but wicked boat,” referring to the speed that seemingly permeates from the low freeboard and sheerline.

But it is Tom Wylie’s longevity that has separated him from the pack. He has designed two new boats that are being built on the West Coast — an extraordinary achievement unto itself. “Both boats are repeat business,” Wylie told us from his East Bay home in July. “That doesn’t happen much in our culture, but it used to happen all the time when I started.” The 60-ft C3 (pronounced “C cubed”) was launched on June 21 at Betts Boats in Anacortes, Washington, for owner Charlie Ray, a renowned sculptor. Ray has owned the Wylie 44 C2 (“C squared”) for almost 20 years. Wylie’s other new boat is the 80-ft Global Voyager, being built for Dave Raney, the current owner of the Wylie 70 Rage. The well-known Rage was built at Schooner Creek Boat Works in Portland, Oregon, some 30 years ago.

August issue latitude 38
Tom Wylie has been called “John Muir of the sea” for his efforts to combat climate change by greening watercraft.
© 2023 Mitch Tobias

In 2004, Wylie told Latitude, “I may not have been the best at business, but of all the people I’ve worked with over the years, I can’t think of one who I couldn’t go up to and shake hands with. To me, that’s every bit as important as the career.” During our recent conversation, Wylie said, “It was probably a bad comment — that I’m a bad businessman. Some people will say to me, ‘Oh, you’re still in business? Everyone else has gone out of business.'” Wylie’s relationships with his clients run deep and are often predicated on a fidelity to the sport and lifestyle. “One side of my owners that’s unique is that they’re addicted to sailing. They are so in love with it, they’re not going to quit. I’m kind of like that in some ways.”

Charles Ray’s work has been called “difficult to classify; style, materials, subject, presence, and scale are all variable.” The same could be said for Tom Wylie. “He defies stereotyping; variety has been the spice of [his then] 40-year career in boat design and construction,” we wrote in the 2004 article. “Consider the four projects in which he’s currently engaged: a 21-ft singlehanded ocean racer, a 60-ft aluminum cruiser, a 30-ft production fiberglass catboat and a 52-ft wood-composite cruiser.” Wylie told us recently, “There’s a large amount of similarity between Charlie and me. He views boats and sailing as moving sculpture,” Wylie said of Ray. “He is doing black-and-white photography with his boat: a black sail, white hull and the wishbone — it’s a stunning statement. The boats he’s ordered for me are not something that you can mass produce. In every way, they’re a custom design.” Ray was similarly effusive of Wylie’s work. “Charlie was there for the launch of C3,” Wylie explained. “He said, ‘Tom, I can’t wait to see you when you see this boat, because you’ll be as happy with your masterpiece as I am.'”

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