Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Check Out Next Issue of Basin Breeze for Information About the Fall Season, Great Weather Book, Dock Project, Sail a Twelve Meter in Newport.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next Basin Breeze newsletter.  We'll be posting information about the fall season.

Here is an outstanding book about weather designed to give you the basic tools of forecasting with a focus on sailors, mariners, and aviators.  Might come in handy as a big  hurricane is just starting to barrel it's way up the east coast.  Should pass us us on Thursday.

Weather Predicting Simplified  by Michael William Carr, published by International Marine.

CBI has chartered the classic 12 meter yacht Weatherly, on Sept 19 in Newport RI.  We've got 14 crew spaces available.  The cost is $200 per person.  This is truly a unique sailing experience you shouldn't miss.  I know I won't. Sign up at the front desk before all the spots are taken.

Next Tuesday,  September 14, construction work begins in earnest on the front office. For 14 days showers will be offline and we'll have portable toilets available.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kids Sail The Stars" and Racing Under the Stars on Block Island Sound.

I recently sailed in two sailboat races which I will remember for a long time.  The first was CBI's "Kid's Sail the Stars". As a guest "star" I was paired up with two junior sailors and charged with offering as much support, advice, and wisdom as I could to help them get around the race course as well as possible.  I was not allowed to steer, trim or otherwise physically put my hands to the task.  Neither of the juniors I was sailing with had raced before.  We sailed 4 races. What I enjoyed most about the experience was that while our finishes were generally near the back of the fleet, their enthusiasm was at the top of the fleet.  Half way through the evening, one of them just blurted out, "This is so cool. I love this".  What I percieved was that they both had great instincts, and a fearless love of trying to make the sailboat move faster.  They loved being on the water. I don't think they will find themselves near the back of the fleet too much longer.

The second race was the Ida Lewis Long Distance Race.  We started at 1:00 PM last Friday and finished a bit after 12 noon on Saturday.  Generally light winds prevailed and the wind forcast was only about 50% correct (what a surprise).  We sailed well, made good decisions, and finished near the top of the fleet.  But what a night.  Clear clear skies. A brilliant sunset. Light from the moon glistening on the water.  The moon set early in the morning and the milky way came out in all it's splendor. Sunrise was like one more encore of a virtuoso performance. Through out a sailboat race you are constantly focusing on VMG (velocity made good), proper sail trim, having the right sails up for the wind conditions, and keeping your focus positive even when things go wrong. You fill in the gaps with good food and a brief nap (if you're lucky).Working together in a single minded effort with your crewmates ties the whole experience together.   It does my heart good to know that CBI  opens the door to sailing for so many, especially  kids.  I know that the two juniors I sailed with will one day find themselves sailing, maybe racing, under the moon away from land.  I hope they will remember their experiences here at CBI.   I also hope that they will adopt an attitude of giving back to others, having received much themselves.  Then I'll know that CBI did what it's supposed to do.


Monday, August 23, 2010

"Go Sailing Young Man/Woman, Go Sailing"

This morning I listened to a talk show on NPR.  The topic was about 20 something's - the phenomenon that more young adults are living at home longer, becoming fully independent later in life, and delaying casting off their last dockline and setting sail on their own.  I've no idea if this is a good thing or not. I think maybe not.  Social scientists have started studying these young adults, comparing them to past generations and will let us know what the data suggests soon.  I'm hoping that they will discover that leaving the nest (mooring) sooner rather than later is a better way to go about life.    I also hope that they take a look at kids who sail and discover that sailing fosters the qualities of independence which make for strong, individuals and young adults who are likely to leave home sooner rather than later.  Maybe a whole generation will hear the words "go sailing young man/woman, go sailing" much as the generation after the Civil War heard the phrase made famous by Horace Greeley, "Go west young man, go west". 

I realize that this blog entry treads very close to waxing philosophical.  For this I ask for your indulgence.  Also I want you to know that CBI's IT department is working night and day on upgrading this blog so comments can be submitted and we can start having dialog.   I'm worried about this. I'm concerned that my blog honeymoon is about to be over.  Ah well, time to cast off the dockline.....


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Guest Blog -Irving Itzkan Explains Some Sailing Terminology

I am pleased to have Irving Itzkan write today's blog.  If any of you have ever been fortunate enough to have Irv as your instructor then you will understand my enthusiasm.  A life long sailor, volunteer and instructor at CBI, Irv also dabbled, on the side I think, in physics having held research positions at MIT and Harvard, just to name the two I am familiar with. Regardless of Irv's interests outside of sailing I am thrilled to have  Irv offer today's blog which I'm sure you'll find interesting.   Thank you Irv!-c

Sailing Terms
In my sailing classes at Community Boating, many students are often fascinated by those sailing terms that are completely new to them and some want to know their origin. The one that seems strangest is “boom vang”, the tackle that keeps the boom from riding up, and I usually have to repeat it and even spell it. I explain, using the very old joke, that the boom did not get its name from the sound it makes when it hits your head, (slipping in an oblique cautionary note), but is actually Dutch for “tree” (in German, “baum”), and that “vang” comes from the same Germanic root as “fang” and the root means “to grab” hence “boom grabber”. The device was originally used on the aftermost fore-and-aft sail on large ships which is called a spanker. The spanker is stretched between two spars, the lower one is called the boom and the upper one is called the gaff.  The original vang was attached from the end of the gaff on the spanker to the rail, and its purpose was to act as a preventer to keep the gaff from accidentally gybeing (crossing over to the other side of the ship) and causing the sail to “hourglass”, that is, to have the boom on one side and the gaff on the other.

“Painter”, the line attached to the bow of a small boat, always seems strange because of its English meaning of “artist”. However it comes from the old French “pendoir” (modern French “pendre”) which means something which hangs, as in pendulum or depend.  The pendoir was a line that was hung from the stern of a ship at anchor to enable the crew of arriving small boats to grab it and tie up, and from this a line which ties up a small boat became a painter.

The origin of starboard and port is always of interest. In the early days of sail, ships were steered with a steering board, which was mounted on the right side of the ship, and that side of the ship became the steering board, or starboard side. Then, in order not to have to unship the heavy steering board, ships were always parked with the unencumbered, that is the left side, towards the port. A board to facilitate the off-loading and on-loading of cargo, called the lading board, was then rigged on the left side, and that side of the ship became the lading board, or larboard side. However larboard and starboard sounded too much alike, and created dangerous confusion, especially when shouted orders competed with strong winds howling in the rigging. So “larboard” was changed to “port”, since it was the side of the ship towards the port.

Irv Itzkan

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dock Construction Project - Show Time! Best Weather Web Sites

After almost 7 years we finally get to stop talking about the "new docks" and see project move forward for real.  Here are the most important dates effecting our sailing operations  this fall..

August 23    420s decommissioning and storage begins. Plastic docks returned to "Head of the Charles" with our thanks.  Hauling and storage of keel boat, mercuries, launches begins.
Sept. 7      High Performance dock closed. Lasers and Windsurfers decommissioninfgand storage begins.
Sept. 7     Front Office construction begins.  Office closed.  We will access the dock next to the building and set up a makeshift office in the mainbay.  This last 3 weeks.
Oct. 4      Demolition and piling removal begins at high performance dock.
Oct 11     Last day of 2010 sailing season.

Once the fall gets here I  feel a little down when mention of the last day of the sailing season is made.  Not this year.  This year October 11, our last day of the sailing season, feels more like a well anticipated birthday with a special present long hoped for.  The dock we stand on today have given us every last measure of it's engineered life, then a bit more, then quite a bit more, and finally, through some force of nature not fully understood by science, the 2010 sailing season.  If one can feel gratitude for an inanimate object then our dock is a good candidate for that. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to thank those who built it many decades ago.  It has served thousands very well. I hope folks 50 years hence will think kindly towards the efforts of CBI , the DCR, The Esplanade Association, The Solomon Fund, and the many supporters of the project.

Best weather web sites     For those of you who missed Isaac Pato's weather talk "Extreme Weather Forecasting for Sailors" here are the best weather web sites you should know about.
www.spc.noaa.gov      -easy to use graphics, easy to check every day
www.wunderground.com      -excellent non-government weather website, has the best free radar data on the web
http://adds.avia/onweather.gov     -best free satallite data
www.twisterdata.com     -medium and long range models
http://rapidrefresh.noaa.gov     -Thunderstorm models
http://en.wikipedia.org     -good starting point to answer your questions.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tornado Chaser

In case you didn't fully appreciate my statement in Blog #15 that Isaac chases tornadoes (Really!),  here is a snippet from a recent email conversation I had with Isaac when I asked him about his first tornado experience.

"I saw my first tornado on March 8, 2010. We got within 500 yards of the EF-2 tornado in western Oklahoma and watched it completely demolish a family's trailer home. We were the first responders on the scene, and discovered the family safe in their storm cellar."

Need I comment that most folks run away from tornadoes?   


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Extreme Weather Forecasting For Sailors!

What:  CBI Staff member Isaac Pato presents "Extreme Weather Forecasting for Sailors".  When Isaac is not busy teaching sailing at CBI he chases tornados (really!).  Aside from this one quirky characteristic, Isaac has always seemed perfectly mainstream to me A meteorology student at the University of Oklahoma, Isaac will combine his love of sailing and weather in this presentation.  If you've never heard of the 500mb chart then come and have your eyes O P E N E D.

WHEN: Saturday, August 7,  2:00 PM


Monday, August 2, 2010

Community Boating Inc. Presents...

Raise the Sails!

For the next 3 weeks I am going to write with some frequecncy about our fundraiser "Raise the Sails".  This will be the 20th year we have thrown a big party, celebrating our junior and accessible sailing programs, with the goal of raising money to pay for them.  Liberty Hotel will be our host and and the evening is shaping up to be one great event.
Please clear your calendar for Thursday, August 26, and join us at the liberty Hotel.   Tickets may be bought at www.community-boating.org/gala2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Brownies - Tough Duty, Good Things at CBI, Comm. Sullivan Signs "Notice to Proceed", Water Quality-Algae Concerns.

Last week as much as I tried to convey that judging a brownie contest at CBI was a heavy responsibility, a weight to be carried on my shoulders in the service of others, I'm afraid I was not successful.  My wife sent out a tweet to some zillions of folks linking to this blog and making some sarcastic comment like "Think your job is tough?  Look what my husband is doing today!"  Well she was right.  Judging the brownie contest was awesome. There were more brownies than there ought to be.  It was one fine day at work.  There have been more than a few fine days at work this year.  We've had some windy days and we're on track to see more Junior Helmsman ratings awarded than I can remember.  You may have noticed on Monday nights that we have "family sails" when juniors bring their parents and siblings as guests and get to show-off their new found skills. This past Saturday CBI hosted a regatta for the Special Olympics where over 40 sailors competed, and .Night Sails every friday night have been busier than anytime I can recall.

Other good news which has occupied much of our attention is that DCR Commissioner Rick Sullivan signed the "Notice to Proceed" to demolish and rebuild the CBI dock.  We've met with the DCR and contractor and will be posting soon, in the next couple of days, the demolition and construction schedule starting this fall.

This summer we've had some challenges such as concerns about elevated algae levels in the river, which sometimes happens when the summer heat warms the water and there are too  many nutrients creating  an algae feast.   Some algae can be harmful in large quantities and there lies the concern.  We stay in close contact with the CRWA and DCR. They conduct waterquality  testing and post warnings when water quality concerns arise. Based on their data and recommendations, over the past week+ CBI limited windsurfing and high performance sailing.   We should soon have their next testing results and recommnedation. I am hopeful  that we will lift all limitations this week.