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That's One Big A***d Boat!!!!

Photo by Jeff Smith Every day on the bay we see, and encounter, commercial traffic in one form or another. What most of us don't realize is just how big these freighters are and why it's in our best interest to avoid them.

Photo by Rule 9(b) of the USCG Navigation Rules International — Inland states that no sailing vessel shall impede the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate within a narrow channel or fairway. Rule 9 also applies in all Regulated Navigation Areas (RNA). Most of San Francisco Bay and the surrounding areas are either RNA's or Precautionary Areas.

Now, consider that the average freighter or container ship you see on the bay is around 850' long (the Exxon Valdez was 987'). If you stood that ship on end next to the Transamerica Pyramid (853') in downtown San Francisco, they'd be about the same height.

Photo by Imagine the Transamerica Pyramid heading towards you at 20 miles an hour. It can't maneuver because it's in a narrow channel. It couldn't stop even if it wanted to because it takes 1-2 miles for that sucker to even begin to slow down.

It's also sobering to realize what limited visiblity the pilot has from the wheelhouse. If you're within a 1/4 mile when you pass in front of one of these ships, you're basically invisible. If you stall for whatever reason, you're history.

Please, it's our job to stay out of their way. Monitor Channel 14 (Vessel Traffic Service).

   -- Greg

Chardonnay II - Feb 28

On February 28, despite forecasts to the contrary all week, club members were treated to ideal weather and superb whale watching conditions near Santa Cruz.

Paul and Marthe Birch, Joyce Barnett, Stan Phillips and guest Lorraine DeGarmo were aboard the Chardonnay II. Less than 15 minutes after getting underway, the first whale was spotted. Several times the Humpback whale surfaced near enough to our craft to hear her/him blow and see the barnacles attached to the skin. The Chardonnay II followed the whale's path north along the coast as the cruise naturalist explained the migrations, feeding, and other interesting facts about whales, seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals.

Later the helm was offered to us on the return to Santa Cruz. Paul and Joyce both learned how to steer a 70' sloop on a close hauled course.

While keeping an eye on the novice sailors, the Chardonnay II captain also provided Stan with some helpful tips for the April Antigua Sailing Week races.

   -- Stan

Whale Watching - Feb. 6

The weather was threatening Saturday morning & the forecast was for rain by early afternoon, but the intrepid crew of the sloop Katrina wanted to go sailing and see some whales.

Charted from Pacific Yachting & Sailing, Katrina, a 1998 Catalina 34 handled the 19 - 24 knot winds & the 7 - 12 foot seas great (especially with the double-reefed main) but after about a hour, the intrepid crew decided they were having way too much fun & headed back for the marina.

Having lost our photographer to mal de mer, we didn't get any pictures of the mother & baby otter we saw or the seals and we didn't see any whales at all but we made it back to the dock in fine shape and proceeded to enjoy our lunch, telling tall tales and watching the storm roll in. We soon agreed (after a couple of bottles of wine) that we had actually faced 32 - 39 knot winds (force 7) and 17 - 22 foot breaking seas.

Braving the elements were ASC members Stan Phillips, Becky Hooey, Brian Gore, and Greg & Cathy Sherwood. Our valiant (but green) photog was Dominic Hart. Guests Gil McCoy and Cheryl (Arrrggghh!!) Campbell rounded out the crew.

[Ed: Cherylann Campbell, a longtime friend of my sailing partner Gil McCoy, was killed Tuesday, Feb 23 in a car accident on Portola Road in Woodside. A memorial service was held Feb 28, and a remembrance sail is planned for Mar 6. She will be missed.]

   -- Greg

Pacific Yachting Membership

We're pleased to announce that the Ames Sailing Club has purchased a membership with Pacific Yachting and Sailing of Santa Cruz. An accomplished sailing school and yacht charter company since 1979, Pacific Yachting has a fleet of 18 yachts, from 22' - 43' available for instruction and charter.

Pacific Yachtings membership program is a discount program for those who sail frequently or want discounts on sailing instruction. ASC Charter members will be able to receive substantial benefits by taking advantage of this program.

Please visit Pacific Yachting's web site at

   -- Greg

Jack Frost Series

Racing on San Francisco Bay continues year round. Winters bring wet, cold south winds or warm, sunny no-wind days. Currents can be voracious with up to 5 knots or better. Encinal Yacht Club in Alameda sponsors one of San Francisco Bay's largest five-race mid-winter series on the third Saturday of each month, November through March. The starting line off the northern tip of Treasure Island permits a windward leg in nearly any of the fickle winter wind directions.

#1 - Nov 21, 1998

The first race was cloudy and cold but at least the rain held off until late. A number of Ames Sailing Club members and friends participated in the Nov. 21 race and made a pretty good showing. Coming in fifth in the Catalina 34 fleet, the crew of 'Imi Loa finished with a time of 2:38:34 over the 5.9 mile course. The winning time was 2:16:59. Not bad considering this was the first time any of us had participated in a race like this. Sharing helm/tactician duties were Greg Sherwood & Stan Phillips, manning the winches were ASC members Frank Hui, Becky Hooey, Brian Gore, and George McPherson as well as Bobbi Meyer and Eric Schoenwisner.

#2 - Dec 19, 1998

The weather geeks had forecasted 20 - 25 knot winds on the bay for the afternoon, so we were prepared for the worse. On the positive side, the winds weren't as strong as predicted. On the negative side, there was barely any wind at all.

The race started under clear, cold, skies with meager little puffs of wind. We got across the start line in good shape but the wind died completely & we bobbed around for 20 minutes or so. We finally got out of that hole & rounded the upwind mark only to find another hole that lasted the rest of the race. Boats started calling in to withdraw after 45 minutes of excruciatingly slow downwind sailing where the wind barely was enough to keep even with the current. Participating club members for this race were Greg, Stan and Jeff.

#3 - Jan 16, 1999

Finally — a real sailboat race!

The winds were perfect, the sailing great! Team 'Imi Loa got off to a good start in steady 7-12 knot winds and finished the 4.0 NM course in a little over an hour, only a few minutes behind the lead boat in our fleet. At least this time we were using the correct course sheet.

The ASC crew consisted of Greg, Stan and Lorraine, and Jeff. Guests were Gil McCoy from Coyote Point Yacht Club and Erich and Maya from Oyster Point YC.

#4 - Feb 20, 1999

The weather gods finally had their fun. The rain started not long after we left the channel at Brisbane & it didn't stop all day. Cold, wet, and miserable is the best way to describe the weather.

But that didn't stop us from having one of the best races so far! The winds died a bit at the start of the race, so much so that we eventually anchored to hold our position. At one point, we had to refer to the rules book to determine who had the right-of-way, a boat at anchor or a boat drifting backwards. (It turns out the boat in motion has to avoid the boat at anchor, right-of-way doesn't apply.)

We were wondering if we'd ever get started when a gust from the south got us moving along. It turns out we actually got a better position by anchoring than some of the other boats in our class who got across the line at the start.

The wind piped up to 8 - 12 knots with gusts up to 15 or so & made for a fast, close, fun race. What made the race really interesting was there was no downwind leg. After the start, which should have been upwind, the wind shifted to the beam which stayed with us after we rounded the upwind mark. The next leg, which should have been downwind, was again a reaching leg.

The crew performed flawlessly. Thanks to Stan and Jeff, my wife Cathy, Gil McCoy and the first-time racing beagle, Kichwa Tembo.

#5 - Mar 20, 1999

Another fine winter day on the bay. Two knot wind, three knot current. After getting stuck on the wrong side of the course at the start and not being able to overcome the current to get across the start line for an hour, 'Imi Loa was finally able to start the race and managed to pull a sixth place finish and an overall sixth place in the Series.

The series ended with free beer, the awards presentation, and a pretty good pasta dinner which was enjoyed by myself, my wife Cathy & sister Cindy, ASC Vice president Stan Phillips, Gil McCoy, Erich Schoenwisner and Kichwa Tembo Beagledog.

   -- Greg

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