Bad Things Come In Threes

9 Aug

We were sailing back to the Spaulding Marine Center from a successful first charter on our 1885 gaff-rigged sloop Freda. We left the charter guests at the Ferry Building, set sail, and managed to lay Sausalito in one tack on the ebb. Volunteer crew Rob and I quaffed artisanal cheeses and fresh figs, leftover from the charter, as we enjoyed spectacular Bay sailing aboard the oldest sailing yacht on the West Coast. I was feeling so cocky about it that I suggested, “People always drop her sails and motor the last mile to Spaulding. There’s plenty of room by ...

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First Time for WHAT?

15 May

May 14, 2017

Strange things happen on the San Francisco cityfront. Waves like moguls. Currents running faster than most people swim. A US Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year spending the first weekend of her life racing boats?


Daniela Moroz was 15 years old when she won the women’s world championship of foiling kite racing and was nominated for the Rolex title. Over the weekend, at the ripe age of 16, she spent two days sailing Nacra 15 catamarans and called it “a lot of fun.” Welcome to the other side, Daniela.

She was all smiles at the dock ...

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Lick WHAT?

30 Apr

April 30, 2017

The close of springtime high school sailing over the weekend coincided with the opening day of a heat wave on the San Francisco cityfront. Race one of the city championship was delayed, and so we find that a skateboard can be an important component of a complete sailing kit.

Anyone not local might struggle with the notion that temperatures in the high sixties Fahrenheit – almost seventy degrees – would qualify as a heat wave, and that just means they’re not local to the San Francisco cityfront. But the weather hold was mercifully brief. Soon enough the ...

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Eight Bells: Bill Ficker

21 Mar

I received sad news from my dad last night that Bill Ficker passed away last week. As a racing skipper, Bill won both the America’s Cup and the Star Worlds. For those of us who know what that means, enough said.

I knew Bill, through my dad, my whole life, and I’d see him at my dad’s coffee klatch when I visited. At this coffee klatch, which didn’t have any slouches when it came to sailing, Bill was always the alpha dog, yet patient, unassuming, and shy about his accomplishments. The last time I saw him at the coffee klatch ...

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What Is It?

8 Nov


I was working on a boat in a dry storage area in San Leandro, California, when I saw the boat above. What this strange aperture in its side? On closer inspection the outside of the aperture has fixed vents, made out of plywood:

This outside part does not rotate. In the middle is a galvanized steel pipe, which is designed to rotate, as it is supported by several carrier bearings athwartships:

But on the other side of the boat this axle just sticks out an inch through another hole in the topside, with nothing like the contraption on the starboard ...

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Cruising or Racing?

14 Sep

We’ve all heard the old saw that all it takes to turn a cruiser into a racer is the sight of another boat catching up to us. Sometimes true, sometimes not. Casting a critical eye up the sails to check the trim is hardly racing, it’s sailing your boat well. In fact, the very mention of the R-word leaves many sailors cold, which is a shame because you can have an awful lot of fun getting out on the water in the company of like-minded souls.
Plus, not all races are created equal. More and more clubs are responding to ...

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Reefing, by and large

15 Mar

1 ocean sunset

When do you reef? How should you reef? What are some excellent ways to screw it up? A few thoughts from Jamie (filtered through fun with salty sayings and his fondness for puns).

Pinterest reefing sails sunset 2Many witty phrases stem from seafaring and sailing ships of yore. It’s a wonder that so few truly help while sailing. Three sheets to the wind , hard and fast, batten down the hatches, give a wide berth, know the ropes, mal de mer, hand over fist, the bitter end, and go by the board, are all brilliant, concise ...

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Imprinted on the Sea

24 Feb

By Kimball Livingston
Posted February 23, 2016
Adapted from “The Old Man and the Old Man and the Sea” published in SAIL, December, 2001
Lead photo of Wander Bird by Ben Mendlowitz

Eighty-three years ago, aboard one of the storied schooners of the age, a father was performing chores on the topmast rigging, up where the seabirds fly. Suddenly he discovered he was not alone there, with 60 feet of air between his feet and the hard.

It was a heart-stopping moment.

Then Warwick M. Tompkins, Sr. said something like, “Well, hi there son. I didn’t know you were coming ...

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Love Letter to Sailing, Again

12 Feb

By Kimball Livingston

It’s such a common phrase that we take it for granted. The romance of the sea. Even those who dwell far from the sea are not immune to it. Red sails in the sunset. The very notion of sailing away to paradise. Those who heed the call, those who love the sea and sailing, will not find it strange that a sailor would choose to send a Valentine to the sport.

Once upon a time there lived a young man so enamored of sailboat racing that he couldn’t look out from the deck of one raceboat to ...

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