Thursday, April 28, 2011

What's the best way to improve your sailing skills?

The absolute best way to develop and improve your sailing skills is to go racing.  Even if you are less than thrilled with the competitive adenaline that racing can bring out in folks, there is absolutely no better way to become a better sailor.  Clear;ly I'm biased here.  But my bias is from a lifetime of sailing, racing, cruising, and teaching/coaching.  Because of my experience on the race course, my cruising skills are better than most.  Racing teaches boathandling, sail trim, awareness of wind, current, weather,...the list goes on.  So if you want to improve your skills as a sailor this year, no matter how good you think you are, you need to go racing.  Here's how:
Click here


Monday, April 25, 2011

Great news for the Charles River!

The last couple of years I have learned more about algae in the Charles River than I really wanted.  While the Charles River has been getting dramatically cleaner over the past 10 to 15 years, in the last few years we have witnessed problems with algae blooms which raised concerns about human contact with the water. The algae can produce toxic stuff which may (NOTE THE WORD MAY) not be so great to come in contact with and certainly not to  ingest.   The science is incomplete and therefore lends itself to many, often conflicting, conclusions.  Simply put, add the right mix of nutrients in the water (I suspect we may want to have a word with the folks upstream who apply fertilizer to their lawns),  add sunlight, warm it up and algae has a feast. To be fair this algae may be responsible for giving our planet oxygen. For that I will always be grateful.  But all things in their proper time and place I say. At the risk of being one more NIMBY person, I say go make your oxygen somewhere else. 

So here is some great news.  Power plants create a lot of heat and have to constantly cool things down.  The Kendall power station in Cambridge is no different. As I understand it  in the past they would use river water to cool things off and then when done return it to the river. However, it would still be kind of warm, maybe 100 degrees Fahrenheit +/-.  So the really good news is that they are implementing new technology that will reduce the amount of  warm water returning by 95%....95%!!  That's a lot a percent.  Here is the link to the article about this great development for all of us who play on the Charles River.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dock project approaching completion!

On opening day (April 1) under snow and rain I espoused to the news cameras that it was really 80 degrees and sunny at Community Boating. I think I mentioned something about weather being a state of mind.  hmmm...I know I was feeling the fact that being open at all on April 1st was really quite remarkable.  To have seen, day to day,  the dock construction throughout the winter and perhaps understand better than most that there were many more reasons for the project to fall behind than push ahead, such as a brutal winter and materials coming from third world countries on slow boats, I am still pinching myself to see that we are open and coming close to completion.  Some of the areas still being worked on include the 420 floats, the high performance floats, the boat ramp by the crane, the fence around the facility, some areas of decking and bumpers along the edges of the entire structure.  There's also a "punch list" being worked through. I'm feeling pretty comfortable that we will see the entire facility 100% by mid May. Keep an eye out on this web site, blog, and Basin Breezes, for info about when windsurfing and Lasers will be "open".  They're coming soon!

Spending so much of my attention and energy focused on the construction project makes me miss paying more attention to sailing.  This is one reason why I really appreciate our great staff.  There's a reason why CBI received a lot of awards this past winter from the US Sailing Association. Thanks to the work of our program directors this winter we will see great programming again this summer.  Just today we have a group of kids from two Boy's and Girl's clubs embarking on a week long course of sailing instruction - a jump start to the summer junior program.  Last weekend CBI hosted an important high school qualifying regatta.  Sign-ups for the Accessible Sailing Program are underway and the adult program will see a continuing emphasis on on-the-water instruction and advanced classes such a sailboat racing (Look to our class schedules on the web site to see what's being offered).  While I honestly feel a little pride for all of us in the new facility, I am most excited about what we will do with it in the future.  It's no mystery - we're gonna turn more and more folks, young and old, into sailors.  Think of that song  " What the world needs now....(more sailors!)


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day is Here! Weather Forecast - Sunny, 80

Have you ever considered that weather is a state of mind?  I hope so.  Because I have for a long time now been boasting and bragging that it is always Sunny and 80 on the dock at CBI, ......which it is. In fact I even promised my boss (CBI's Board of Directors) that we would open on April 1 and I would personally deliver a sunny, gorgeous, and warm day. Recently a few naysayers have pointed out to me that the weather forecast for tomorrow includes snow.  What's your point I say?  Let's consider... Isn't weather as we generally know it something that we experience?  And haven't we all noticed how no two people can be counted on to recount in the same way experiences that they allegedly share?  Therefore we see that no experience is the same for any two individuals and therefore experience is an invalid basis for quantifying states of being and any related issues. So while it may appear to some that snow, rain and cold will be the dominant features of the weather tomorrow, the truth is that it will be warm, sunny, and windy.

Welcome to the 2011 sailing season!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Opening Day Weather Forecast

Beautiful weather expected for Opening Day.  In fact the weather is going to be so brilliant that no matter what the weather actually is, it is going to be beautiful, brilliant, fantastic and generally wonderful. This is a fact. And I am willing to stand by this forecast no matter what.  So here are the plans we have made.

Thanks to a lot of hands helping out at the work party last Saturday (65 in total) we got a lot of the boathouse put back into order.  Starting tomorrow we will be launching, with the help of the contractor's crane, R19s, Sonars, and Launches.  The focus on Saturday will Mercuries in the slip - as many as possible.  That will give us all of next week to rig, tune, and tweak.  We invite everyone to take next Friday off from work, come lend a hand in the morning and go for a sail in the afternoon.  I have to confess that I am  so excited to get the 2011 sailing season off and running and do it on April 1.  A part of me really thought that we might not be able to sail until mid April.  So a big hats off to the management team at the DCR and the crew at CRC Contractors for pushing this project all the way through.  Remember what this winter was like?  The workers who built this dock never took a break even when the wind, snow, and cold  seemed unbearably harsh. 

Now onto a more worrying subject..  There are not many who sail at CBI who do not recognize the ebullient southern voice of Jim Johnson. I don't know if I've ever met a more enthusiastic sailor in my life.  One thing I've learned at CBI over many years is how easily enthusiasm in our adult members turns into a certain childishness. I am of course completely immune to this.  Jim on the other hand, is another story.  While purportedly visiting the boathouse to renew his membership for 2011, Jim was found to be preparing to rig a Mercury and go sailing.  Photos attached. 

Upon interrogation Jim explained "there is a pretty good wind today." Well, yes Jim there sure is but that doesn't make what you were doing right....does it?  .....mmmmmm........... there sure is a nice wind.......mmmmmmmm......   gotta go....


Monday, March 14, 2011

So what's that dock made out of anyway?

As the dock moves toward completion I've been asked a few times about the materials used.  The piles are greenheart and the decking is purple heart.  They are both imported from South America.  This can raise concerns about whether the dock is being built out of eco friendly and sustainable materials or contributing to deforestation and global warming.

When the design work was started almost 4 years ago CBI and others raised the question/concern about what materials would be used and  advocated for the dock to be built out of sustainable resources.   For all of our information I have copied the relevent parts of the contract specs used by the DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation) .  

(SECTION 02300-2):

6. Greenheart piles shall be supplied by a company that operations in the Guiana Shield countries are in
conformity with the International Conventions and National Forestry Regulations relating to the
management of forestry concessions. Company shall enforce the protection of the endangered species
listed by CITES (Convention on Trade in Endangered Species) and the bio-diversity of the ecosystems.
It respects the Intellectual Property Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, whose communities are the
beneficiaries of the Company’s field operation.
7. Greenheart piles are supplied by a company that stresses the need for low impact forestry operations,
ensuring that its forestry extraction is state of the art while constantly monitoring the effect of its
logistics systems on watershed management and its use of biodegradable wood preservatives.

(SECTION 06100-2):
3. Tropical hardwood shall conform with the International Conventions and National Forestry
Regulations relating to the management of forestry concessions.
6. Tropical hardwood shall be supplied by a company that operations in the Guiana Shield countries are in
conformity with the International Conventions and National Forestry Regulations relating to the
management of forestry concessions. Company shall enforce the protection of the endangered species
listed by CITES (Convention on Trade in Endangered Species) and the bio-diversity of the ecosystems.
It respects the Intellectual Property Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, whose communities are the
beneficiaries of the Company’s field operation.
7. Tropical hardwood shall be supplied by a company that stresses the need for low impact forestry
operations, ensuring that its forestry extraction is state of the art while constantly monitoring the effect
of its logistics systems on watershed management and its use of biodegradable wood preservatives.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Junior Instructors In Training complete complete winter projects

A few weeks back I made a promise to the world.  I said I would get rid of all the snow, at least in my neighborhood.  I just needed a little time.  I'm pleased to report that my work is now done, ahead of schedule and under budget! By next Monday all the ice left in the river will also be gone!  Boy does that feel good to get that out of the way. 

Last winter CBI  Director of Youth Programs, Amy Lyons, hosted a group of Junior Program Instructors In Training.  Amy worked with these CBI sailors to develop skills as future sailing instructors.  They taught classes, gave presentations, and worked on projects including  knot boards and man-over-board "dummies".  Amy's report follows along with a "class picture" 

CBI is many things. One thing  which many adult members may not be aware, is how much CBI is a youth training, development, and leadership program.  Sailing teaches many valuable skills and concepts.  But nothing compares to the experience of teaching sailing to others.  There is a good chance that one day you will be seeing some of these faces on our dock staff.  And when you do I predict that they will amaze you at their self confidence, responsibility, knowledge, and general where-with-all.  Congratulations IITs!

Community Boating's first Winter Instructor In Training program was a great success!  The nine juniors who participated learned skills that will help them be excellent IITs, and they also made instructional aids that will be useful to all Community Boating members.  Over the course of seven meetings, these juniors lead team building exercises and learned how to construct lesson plans.  Each junior chose a topic, and wrote their own lesson plans which they presented to the rest of the group.  Their presentations were all excellent, and we are excited to have such enthusiastic and well-trained IITs on board for this summer!  The IITs also made four new "person overboard" buoys, and three traveling knotboards that will allow members to practice tying basic knots.  We would like to thank the following juniors for taking part in this program: Maria Condon, Tori Condon, Gregor Dieckow, Chris Dsida, Khalil Kaba, Andrew Lazaro, Fiona O'Connor, Sam White, and Ben Zheng.

Pictured (left to right) back row: Chris Dsida, Gregor Dieckow, Khalil Kaba, Maria Condon front row: Fiona O'Connor, Tori Condon.
Winter IIT participants show off their handiwork - three new knotboards for our members!

Amy Lyons

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CBI makes changes to junior program membership price

For many decades CBI has charged a $1 membership fee per child to participate in the summer junior program. Commencing in 2011, CBI is changing course.  We will now charge a sliding scale based on household income.  Critical to discussing this change is understanding what continues to be a priority for CBI and has not changed - junior membership will still be $1 per child for families with annual household income of less than $75,000.  At the bottom of this blog is a link to the 2011 Junior Program Application form..

A couple of questions I have been asked are:  Why now?  What prompted this change? And is it connected to the dock replacement? So I want to offer some discussion to these questions.

In 2010 CBI's Board of Directors adopted a 5 year strategic plan.  It articulates our commitment to "Sailing for All" and provides for the needs of our programming today and for future generations.  From this foundation, we took an in-depth look at our junior program pricing and came to the decision that $1 per child for all children was not a sustainable model for CBI in today’s world and in the future. 

In the past two years, CBI's junior program grew to close to 2300 participants. Along with this numerical growth, in 2011 we're expanding our programming into the spring, the fall, the winter, and on weekends.  Furthermore, we are improving the quality of programming by offerings diverse interactive lessons on topics such as the environment.  The total junior program cost in 2011 will be approximately $300,000.

Additionally, the need to replace much of our fleet in the near future is an immediate and growing concern.  I believe this price change has come at the right time for the right reason.  It supports sailing for all, both today and in the future, while keeping our commitment to minimizing economic barriers to the sport of sailing.

The last question - Is this price change connected to the new dock?  The answer is no. It is related, however, because CBI has accepted  responsibility to deliver ambitious programming which lives up to the investment made by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the DCR, and other supporters of The Esplanade and "Sailing for All", something that we take seriously with humility.

I believe that the meaning of the new Community Boating Dock will be found in how well we meet our mission  of "Sailing for All" in the 21st century.  In addition to increasing the quantity and quality of the Junior Program, CBI plans to double the size of our accessible sailing program in 2011 - something which wasn't possible before with the smaller dock - and to host more regattas such as the Massachusetts Special Olympics Championship.  So while there is no direct linkage between the new dock and the change in junior program pricing, both changes will make CBI a stronger organization, and a more effective and impactful organization.


Link to CBI's Junior Program application:

Friday, February 11, 2011

CBI and staff receive multiple national awards!

Reprinted here is our press release announcing the awards CBI and staff received in January at the US Sailing National Sailing Programs Symposium.  Congratulaions to CBI, Tom Moore, and Amy Lyons!


February 07, 2011

Contact:          Marcin Kunicki
                        Community Boating, Inc.
21 David Mugar Way
                        Boston, MA 02114
                        P: (617) 523-1038, x.23

Boston’s Community Boating Wins Four (4) National Awards
Community Boating recognized at US Sailing National Sailing Programs Symposium with awards for outreach and inclusion and excellence in sailing

BOSTON, MA – Community Boating, Inc. (CBI) received four prestigious awards at the US Sailing National Sailing Program Symposium in Clearwater Beach, FL, January 2011. The program received two awards—the prestigious US Sailing Captain Joe Prosser Award for Excellence in Sailing as well as the US Sailing Community Sailing Council Outstanding Inclusion and Outreach award for its efforts in Youth and Universal Access Programs. Additionally, Junior Program Director, Amy Lyons of Somerville, MA received the US Sailing Community Sailing Council Outstanding Director of a Seasonal Program Award. And Operations Director, Tom Moore of Brighton, MA received the US Sailing Community Sailing Council Outstanding Leadership Award.

Community Boating Executive Director Charlie Zechel states "It is a true honor for all of us at Community Boating to receive this level of national recognition and a testament to the dedication and hard work of our staff and many volunteers. As Community Boating prepares to launch it's 65th sailing season on the Charles River, we remain committed to the concept of "Sailing for All" and look forward to expanding our programming in areas of accessibility.  The Commonwealth and partners have made an important commitment to our programs by rebuilding the docks this winter.  CBI is equally committed to expanding accessibility to the sport of sailing for all individuals."

US Sailing, the national governing body of sailing awards the Captain Joe Prosser Award at US SAILING's National Sailing Programs Symposium in cooperation with the United States Merchant Marine Academy's Sail Training Program (Kings Point, NY). This prestigious award recognizes the life achievement of the Merchant Marine Academy's first sailing master, Captain C.A. "Joe" Prosser, USMS. The award celebrates an exemplary contribution toward improving the quality and safety in the training or instruction of sailors. Nominees shall embody all characteristics of sportsmen: namely honor, integrity, and a selfless dedication to the sport. In addition to the trophy, a $500 credit funded by US SAILING’s Training Committee will be awarded annually to the selected school or program for Instructor Training. For more information on US Sailing awards, please see:

Community Boating is the nation’s oldest and largest community sailing program offering learn to sail programming for adults, kids and individuals with special needs on the Charles River. The mission of Community Boating, Inc., is the advancement of sailing for all by minimizing economic and physical obstacles to sailing. In addition, CBI enhances the greater Boston community by using sailing as a vehicle to empower its members to develop independence and self-confidence, improve communication, foster teamwork and acquire a deeper understanding of community spirit and the power of volunteerism.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Be Good To Our Environent -Spare the plastic bottles!

Today's guest blog is from our very own Director of Youth Programs, Amy Lyons.  Thank you Amy.

Water Water Everywhere…

I don’t know about you, but sailing and being surrounded by water always makes me thirsty.  If you share this sentiment, please read on before you dip your hands into the Charles for a sip… I’ve got a better solution. 

CBI wants to put an end to two pervasive problems among our membership – drinking Charles River water, and buying single-use plastic bottles.  For your health, and the health of our environment, we’ll be selling reusable aluminum water bottles for the low price of $6 each, as well as installing a new water fountain with a better filtration system.  Cool, refreshing, filtered water… aaaaaahhhh. 

Did you know:
  • Plastic bottles take 700 years to begin composting
  • 90% of the cost of bottled water is due to the bottle itself
  • 38 million plastic bottles go to the dump per year in America from bottled water
  • 24 million gallons of oil are needed to produce a billion plastic bottles
  • The average American consumes 167 bottles of water a year
  • Bottling and shipping water is the least energy efficient method ever used to supply water
Be the envy of all your friends with a small piece of aluminum that says “I care”. 
Best features of these bottles: there’s a spot to write your name, so no one can steal your awesome bottle (believe me, they’ll want to!), and they have a carabiner – attach it to yourself or your boat to keep that cool water coming! 
Buying one of these bottles is a no-brainer, however choosing the right color can be difficult.  Here are a few notes on what these different colors mean – choose wisely.  These bottles also make great gifts, but you’ll want to make sure that you choose the appropriate color for your friends and loved ones. 
Handy Color Guide:

  • Black is a very powerful color that portrays one of class, elegance and wealth. 
  • Purple portrays rich powerful kings, leaders, wizards and magicians.
  • Green is the color of nature and health. It represents growth, nature, and money.
  • Blue has a calming effect; it is a color of loyalty, strength, wisdom and trust.
  • Red is a very strong color that evokes a powerful emotion of passion; it is a symbol of pride and strength.

You can order your water bottle TODAY by calling or emailing the Front Office (

Stay Hydrated,


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Some take aways from the National Sailing Programs Symposium

During the last week of January, CBI program managers Tom Moore, Marcin Kunicki, Amy Lyons, Andrew Alletag, and board member Adam Schepp and I spent a not unpleasant week in Clearwater Florida attending the US Sailing National Sailing Programs Symposium (NSPS).  NSPS is the annual conference hosted by US Sailing bringing together close to 300 individuals who manage, direct, and support sailing programs from every corner of the world ( mostly community based).  This year the attendee who travelled the farthest came from Hong Kong. CBI made some what of a splash this year by sending a delegation of 6 and receiving several awards for various outstanding achievements (Details to follow in my next blog).  I haven't attended an NSPS in several years.  This one made quite an impression on me.  I am truly bursting with pride to see how CBI's management team is regarded on the national stage.  Tom, Marcin, Amy, Adam and I  were all breakout presenters (Andrew, you get a pass for being the rookie this year!). US Sailing and NSPS are a lot like CBI - many. volunteers giving to others and receiving back in return.

Sometimes you take for granted what is in front of you every day. And I am guilty of this as much as anyone else.  When I see where CBI is today, and compare that to so many other programs, not just in the US but on the international stage, and recognize our  large and engaged volunteer community, I see the fruition of a beautifal idea and the core strength of CBI.  This is important  because with the construction of the new dock, I am very much impressed that the state's investment of close to $3 million, is based in part,on CBI, who we are and what we do, and more importantly what we will do in the future. The impact of CBI is in many ways much bigger than the small sailing area we enjoy today between the bridges.

While the dock gets closer to completion with each day, CBI gets closer to a new beginning.  I suspect that  great beginnings are built on great endings. CBI is 65 years old in 2011 and has had a truly great  run and a long list of accomplishments.  Now it's time for us to build the next 65 year together.    Next blog  - CBI Operations Director Tom Moore, Director of Junior Sailing Amy Lyons, and CBI receive multiple national awards!

[So we weren't gone that long and when we came back there is snow  piled high and thick everywhere.  What happened??!!  What did you all do??!!  Sigh.......My promise - it will take me 7 to 9 weeks but I will get rid of all the snow. You're welcome.]  -Charlie

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dock Progress!

Here are a couple of views of the dock today from our second story window.

Every week, CBI Operations Director Tom Moore, Director of Fleet and Facilities Greg Tobey, and I join the weekly construction meeting held by the DCR with Bourne Engineering, and CRC Company.  At these meetings every detail of the ongoing construction project is reviewed, audited, and approved.  It has been a great experience for me to see how the whole process comes together.  I have been singularly impressed with the professionalism, competancy, and efficiency of all parties involved.  In so far as folks will agree, I would like to  bring attention to the individuals who are building these wonderful dock day in and day out.  Today I'd like to introduce Rozeta Nikolova.  Rozeta is the Resident Engineer for the DCR on this project.  When work is happening on the dock Rozeta is here at CBI.  She inspects and reviews every pile, timber, and fastener, insuring that the dock is assembled precisely as designed. She spends a lot of time with a hard hat on inspecting the work, rain, snow or sunshine.  Rozeta is one reason I know this dock will be just simply brilliant.  Thank you Rozeta.

Some More Project Pictures

We've installed new cabinets in the Volunteer Room.
After demolishing the women's room counter and mirrors, we are ready to install new counter tops.

Some Winter Projects (Besides the dock!)

While the docks are moving along, we've been busy with other projects as well.  Here you see the new paint job on the Sisu safety launch.  Thanks to the wider garage doors installed  a couple of years ago we can now bring larger projects inside.

The back store room (formerly known as the sail loft) is receiveing new shelving to replace the old metal cabinets.

Monday, January 17, 2011

With change in the wind, CBI stays focused on what's important

For the past several months I have been distracted nearly everyday by looking out my office window and watching the construction of the new docks progress. I've learned a lot about how pilings are driven into the earth and what happens when they hit a layer of Boston Blue Clay (not a pretty sight!), tropical hardwoods, management of government funded public works and how to move a large barge through 12" thick ice (it helps to have a big crane).  The most exciting part of the new dock is the opportunity it will provide us to improve and expand our programming. I am personally looking forward to not spending so much of my time and energy talking about how the dock is falling apart and needs to be replaced.   I am so happy to be working on other projects!  So it looks to me like 2011 is going to be a pretty good year.   In 2010 our board of directors approved a 5 year strategic plan and our board  approved an ambitious budget for 2011 including a new safety launch, new engines,new windsurfers, (to name a few) and expanded programming in both our junior and accessible sailing programs. As we ramp up to opening for the sailing season it occurs to me that while CBI is experiencing a lot of change this year, we are also firmly holding on to those things, which over many decades, have not changed much - our community, volunteerism, and sailing for all by minimizing barriers to the sport of sailing.  We remain focused and committed to those things, which after all, are what is really important.