Date: 8/3 - 8/4/2002
Cruising area: San
Time: 16 hours (Spread
over two days)
Sailing Lessons on SF Bay
We took our sailing lessons from the Olympic
Circle Sailing Club on San Francisco Bay. Normally, they
provide lessons on their own fleet of vessels (J/24's). As we wanted
to learn to sail offline, we elected to bring our own boat and
launch at the Berkeley
Marina, adjacent to the club.
Our instructor, Graham, had actually been
aboard a MacGregor before, but it had been years. At least
he had a basic familiarity with the boat. I had to
reacquaint him with some of the features, and in exchange, he
taught Brenda and I how to sail.
again, I thought I had pictures, but as I recall their wouldn't
have been too many. We were spending most of our time
learning, and were a bit busy to play photographer. If I
find any pertinent photos, I'll post them here.
Back to Sailing
We brought the boat down to Berkeley on Friday
night. After we got the boat there, we decided very late,
that we should just spend the night there on Friday and Saturday,
so we didn't have to wake up quite so early on Saturday and
Sunday. We are better at planning now, but this was our
first overnight stay on offline, so I think we can
be forgiven for a few mistakes.
We turned in on Friday night around
midnight. When we woke early Saturday morning, we discovered
we were in the middle of a major bass fishing tournament.
This was to create some hard feelings later, but we were excited
to be getting on the water for our lessons.
Stepping the mast took a bit longer than it
should have, but it was only the second time I'd done it by
myself, and I'm much faster now.
Launching at the Berkeley
Marina is very easy. The ramp has long floating fingers
that allow you to "Walk" the boat on and off the
trailer. That plus the cost ($5 per launch/recovery), makes
this an attractive base of operations for any trailer sailors
heading to San Francisco Bay. There is plenty of parking for
your tow vehicle and trailer. Berkeley Marina deserves a
Our first day of lessons covered the basics of
sailing. We learned the points of sail, and practiced
tacking and gybing. Brenda and I took turns at the helm,
with the other tending the sails. As I seemed to pick things
up fairly quickly, Graham spent most of the time helping Brenda
with learning to be more comfortable with the boat.
That first day, the wind was running 15-20
kts and we spent most of the day heeled over to 20-25º, even with
the main reefed, with the seas running 3-4 feet.
Fortunately, the wave period was long, so the ride was not overly
uncomfortable. Even so, Brenda was a nervous wreck.
She worries anyway, and in the unfamiliar environment of being
under sail, she was a white-knuckle sailor. Even so, she
learned a bit, and I got confirmation of what I'd picked up from
Our second day was totally different. I
had neglected to put sunscreen on the previous day, so I was badly
sunburned and not feeling well at all. We decided to go out
anyway, and I'm glad we did. We did make sure we were
properly protected with sunscreen on Sunday.
The winds were much lighter, only 10-15 kts,
and the seas were almost flat. We recapped the previous
day's lessons, and learned how to recover a man overboard while
under sail using the "Figure-eight" method. We
practiced the maneuver a couple of times, and threw our
"BOB" over board.
BOB stands for "Bottle Over
Board". Our BOB was a pair of gallon orange juice
bottles, half-filled with water, and tied together with heavy polypropylene
line. It took us a while to get back to BOB the first time
(I'm glad he's patient), but we got better. As before, we
traded off, and Brenda got a chance to work both the helm and the
The last BOB recovery was a
"Surprise". We were sailing along and Graham threw
BOB overboard without any warning at all. I'm proud to
announce that we were able to recover BOB on the first try, and
"He" was only in the water for about 3 minutes. It
made me feel good that I know knew how to get an errant crewmember
back aboard, even under sail.
After pulling offline out of the
water Sunday afternoon, we got in line for the wash rack.
Being a new boat owner, and very thorough by nature, I took a very
long time to wash the salt water from offline and
the trailer. This created a bit of a back up at the wash
rack (the bad feelings I mentioned earlier). I apologized to
everyone within earshot, but I was going to be sure to do a
complete job of this important task.
I thoroughly enjoyed our lessons at OCSC,
expensive though they were. I learned a lot (or at least
confirmed a lot of what I knew), and Brenda became much more
comfortable with being onboard and under sail. All we need
now is a bit of on-the-water practice.