No, I’m not cursing at you, although it is one of my personal pet-peeves!

Here it is from Merriam-Webster:

verb \ˈfrap\

frapped frap·ping

Definition of FRAP

transitive verb

:  to draw tight (as with ropes or cables) <frap a sail>

I’m not sure why they say “<frap a sail>” – I’ve never heard it used in that way. A common use around here is, “Frap your halyards!”

This morning as I was headed down to the docks to make a couple of pre-Saturday repairs, I was met by a friend, who is also a live-aboard (lives on his boat). His complaint to me was that it was very hard to sleep the night before because of all of the banging halyards! This prompted a walk-around of the Tradewinds Fleet and 3 emails to members about frapping halyards this morning!

This one should have been an easy one – there is only one half of the halyard outside the mast, the other half is internal. It is simply a matter of loosening it, flipping it around the spreaders, and tightening it up.

Here’s an example of a little tougher one to remember (excuse my crayon drawings!):

Not Frapped!

This Halyard is Not Frapped!

In this case, the SIQ (sailor in question) remembered to clip the end of the halyard that connects to the head of the sail away from the mast, but forgot the other half! This is an external halyard. Both halves of the halyard are on the outside of the mast. This must be loosened, the shackle end clipped away from the mast, the other end flipped around the spreaders, and then tightened and secured.

Here’s another one of my wonderful crayon drawings illustrating the difference between internal and external halyards:

Frap it!

Internal vs. External Halyards

Here’s another great crayon-ed on drawing of the previous one, properly frapped this time!

Properly Frapped External Halyard!

Properly Frapped External Halyard!

Now the simple version:

Before you leave, look up the mast! If there are any lines on it, something isn’t stowed properly! If you are unsure how to properly frap a halyard on a specific boat, please ask! Help us respect our neighbors by letting them get a good night’s sleep! There will probably always be halyards banging in the marina, but let’s not let them be ours!

Happy Frapping!

-Matt K

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Pre-departure Training for Non-Sailors

Quite often I am asked what skills should be taught to a non-sailor before leaving the dock for their first sail.  I am sure each skipper has a different list, however, here are a few of the things I personally consider essential.  Its seems like quite a list, however it only takes about 15 or 20 minutes to run through it.

  • Marine Heads 101 … not the most glamorous topic, however, messing up the head can ruin a sail.  I teach how to use fresh water to fill and flush the bowl.  I also instruct that “If it didn’t go thru you first, it doesn’t belong in the head.”  That includes toilet paper, which gets deposited in the waste basket next to the head.  While on the topic of heads, I am a guy, however, I hate cleaning up after guys!  Here’s a little jingle for you.  While at sea, all good sailors sit to pee!
  • Line handling … Some basic line handling makes for a safer sail.  Make sure everyone knows how to double up a line so it runs from the boat, around a cleat on the dock, and back to the boat.  Demonstrate how to use a boat hook to capture a dock cleat, and how to “cast” a coiled line around a dock cleat.  Finally, demonstrate how to use friction by going around both horns of the boat’s deck cleat to control motion of the boat.  How about one more line handling tip.  Making figure 8’s around a cleat.  I think teaching a cleat hitch is asking too much of someone’s first sailing experience, and in most cases, several figure 8’s around the cleat does just as well as a temporary solution.
  • One hand for yourself and one for the boat … Always hold on to something sturdy while moving around.  Don’t stand up while reaching for lines or while the boat is maneuvering in close quarters (e.g. slips and fairways).  Kneel down instead, it’s much safer.
  • How to use a winch.
  • DO NOT jump in the water after someone (even your child)!!!  If you do, now we have two rescues to make.
  • Basic motoring … Part of this will be completed after we leave the dock and reach safe water.  I want my guests to be able to get the boat back to me if I go overboard.  I also want them to be able to drive if I am otherwise occupied (such as handling sails, reefing, or using the head).  They need to know how to start and stop the motor.  How to shift the transmission and handle the throttle, and how to steer.
  • And last, but certainly not least … “The boat will NOT tip over.”  It is normal and safe to be healed over.
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The Give Way Vessel

A friend of mine came to me this morning with a complaint!  This gentleman is a long time member of Tradewinds.  An experienced sailor, who is well aware of the Rules of the Road, whom I have never know to intentionally abuse or violate those rules.  The complaint?  Three times in recent weeks he has had Tradewinds boats violate the rules of the road in the same way!  In each case, he was under sail and the other boat was power-driven.  The rules state the vessel under sail is to stand on her course and speed while the power-driven vessel gives way by using a maneuver that is made early and is substantial.  In all three cases, the power-driven vessel sped up in a mad dash attempt to cross in front of the sailboat.  In each case, the sailboat had to alter course to avoid a problem.  The Colregs state that the give way vessel must make a maneuver to avoid early and substantial.  Speeding up to cross the other vessels bow is neither early or substantial and is not only a bad idea, it is unlawful.

Knowing the rules of the road and following them is critical for safe boating on San Francisco Bay.  If you are the stand on vessel … stand on.  If you are the give way vessel then make a safe maneuver early and substantial enough that there is absolutely no doubt on the part of the other vessel that you are giving way!

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Captain & Crew: A Nautical Relation(ship)! – By Tradewinds member Katie S.

As a member of Tradewinds Sailing Club for 4 years I have “grown up” in this club. I have served as crew and skipper. From day one being a skipper was my goal. Sailing out the Golden Gate Bridge and safety would be the ultimate goal while having a day of fun in the sun. Along the way, however, the roles had their difficulties. As a skipper, one needs the cooperation of the crew. As a crew listening and being ready for the commands were exciting and physical. Furthermore, there have been trying times as there are people who do not crew well. This was a harsh reality. Why? Is it due to the lack of skipper experience? Are they unable to understand the role of the skipper?  The skipper role is a very serious one but done with the intent of relaxing your visitors for a day of fun. Safety is the most important role of the skipper.

What is expected of a skipper? What is expected of a crew? (Crew, by the way, is not the visitors on the boat. Crew is the designated and chosen people by the skipper to work the boat).

Crew expectations of a skipper:

  1. Clear and direct instructions.
  2. Good ground rules.
  3. Clear expectations.
  4. No yelling.
  5. Say “thank you” for all alerts and suggestions by the crew.
  6. Compliment good decision making as well as speedy replies to commands.

Skipper expectations of a crew member:

  1. Feel free to make suggestions.
  2. Ask before making helm changes.
  3. (most important skill)
  4. Alert helmsman to approaching boats, safety issues, or equipment problems and failures.
  5. State readiness when point of sail changes are going to be made.
  6. Good and loud communication. Hand signals if needed.
  7. Slow movements and think things through with safety as the top priority.
  8. All decisions go through the skipper after suggestions, alerts, and safety are considered by the crew and verbalized to the skipper.
  9. Avoid giving commands to other crew as this causes confusion. Very important!! If the skipper wants a crew member to give commands then the skipper will say so.

Arrive at the boat ready to be a crew. Your job is to work the boat and follow instructions. Listening and observing are key in the role. There is ONE skipper. Prior to accepting to crew decide if you trust this skipper and can accept commands easily. If the skipper has less experience than you then that is a consideration. This skipper will need you more than ever. Make suggestions but knowing the decision is the skipper’s. Disagreeing on a sail is the most miserable way to spend time sailing. Stay alert and be ready for commands.

This short guide hopefully will lead new sailors to a more enjoyable day on the bay. Knowing your role leads to respect and a safe sail.

I wish I had time and space to tell you about the examples I have experienced where roles were confusing and the sail was unpleasant. They didn’t listen well or follow commands of instructions. As a skipper my goal is to teach, enjoy, and allow my crew to make decisions but they will be given the command to make that decision/decisions. Not because the skipper is a control freak. (There are times when allowing the crew to be “pushed to the edge” to make a decision is exciting and appropriate). But safety is my ultimate goal.

I have experiences to share with couples who are learning to sail. I learned quickly that when getting on a sailboat with my husband (where I am the skipper and he is my crew) that we are no longer a couple. Giving him respect with “thank you” and encouragement is the norm as with all my sailing trips as well as sincere compliments and high- five every chance I get. My husband is a fabulous crew and I listen to him at all times. I take his suggestions seriously and implement with glee.

In the beginning, as a crew-member, I have had what I considered “controlling” skippers at various times. I felt they didn’t trust me or didn’t understand my experience. Some skippers tell you how to sail the trim at all times. Others allowed me to trim the sails without being commanded. Why was there such a variance in leadership? I finally accepted that this was the way it sometimes goes. Sailing with someone repeatedly allows this phase to pass as you get to know each other’s skills but in the beginning the skipper doesn’t know you. If this is a first sail as a crew for a skipper then be ready for lots of commands. The skipper doesn’t know you. It is okay. You will show him or her through listening and quick replies to commands. There will be times when you will need to make a decision that sailing with a person just isn’t fun. So be it. This is in all of life. Move on and learn from the experience. Learning in sailing is ongoing. Matt taught me this and he has been a spectacular mentor.

My background is in emergency nursing as an ER nurse and flight nurse. Giving care while being safe is the goal. I find sailing and my job very closely related in the safety aspect.

Arrive at the boat giving your skipper the high five and allegiance to be the best crew ever. Be proud of this role. It is important. A skipper smiles widely when a crew listens and trust is formulated. A beer or a glass of wine might even be necessary at the END of the sail!

As a skipper praise your team and allow them to make decisions as you understand their experience in sailing. Encourage them and push them to the edge. It is fun as long as safety guidelines are the boundaries in which you lead others.

In conclusion, readiness is key on a sail by understanding the two roles. Implement each role with pride and respect. They are both very important. Safe Sails.

Katie S.

Katie has been a Tradewinds member since 2011 and has taken ASA courses up to 106 (Advanced Coastal Cruising), plus Docking & Radar endorsements. She has also taken Tradewinds Advanced Anchoring, Sail Trim, and Racing courses. Katie has chartered over 130 days on Tradewinds boats as the Skipper as well as her many trips as crew. Her most recent sailing adventure was as the Skipper in the British Virgin Islands. She is undoubtedly one of our most experienced female skippers!

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Control Your Jib Sheets

Summer is here!  Our typical summer wind patterns are filling in, with their associated positive and negative sides.  To the positive, the sailing has been phenomenal!  If you haven’t gotten out on the water, GO!

Here is a big negative.  In the past month we have needed to replace five clear plastic dodger window panels!  The cause is simple.  Not controlling jib sheets during tacking, crew overboard practice, reefing, and furling operations.  High winds and luffing jibs cause sheets to flail wildly.  When this happens, bad things result.  I personally have seen a broken nose, black eyes, split lips, lost eye glasses, and a number of broken dodger windows.  Here’s how to avoid all of these problems.

*Note from Matt: Don’t forget the missing dorade covers that disappear off the decks for the same reason! It’s also been the cause of bent/broken deck hatches in the past – the lazy sheet can get caught under the lip of a hatch and ends up getting lifted with all of the force of the wind int he jib on the next tack.

While tacking, take the jib sheet out of the winch cleat, but do not release the wraps immediately.  Start the tack and wait until the jib begins to back-wind slightly before releasing it.  Trim immediately on the opposite side and the sheet will not have a chance to flail.

When reefing or furling in high winds, DO NOT try to furl while on a close haul or close reach.  Instead, bear away to a deep broad reach.  Ease the main and allow it to blanket the jib.  The process of rolling the jib up will now be easier and won’t involve any flailing sheets.

*Note from Matt: This should be S.O.P.! Practice it every time you furl a sail. You know that point on a run when you are steering down wind and it’s hard to keep the jib full of wind because you turned downwind just a little too far? That’s the main blocking the wind – and it’s the perfect time to furl the jib. There’s almost no wind in it, it’s not flogging, it should roll up easily and neatly with minimal effort!

If you are doing crew overboard practice, furl the jib first (while on a broad reach,) and practice on main alone.  No flailing jib sheets!

As an added benefit, luffing jibs and flailing sheets are very noisy.  Loud noises on a sailboat result in uncomfortable and/or fearful crew.  Control those sheets and your crew is going to have a much better time.

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Sound Signals

With VHF radios as common as they are, you don’t hear sound signals on boats very much anymore.  When you do hear one, it always seems to come as a shock, and sadly, it’s far to easy to have no clue as to what the boat issuing the signal is trying to say.  For example, you are sailing along the San Francisco city front, approaching the Bay Bridge, and you hear a vessel sound a single prolonged blast (four to six seconds) followed by three short blasts (one second) what is going on?  Easy … the single prolonged blast in this case means “I’m leaving the dock.”  Three short blasts means using astern propulsion.  In other words, the boat, most likely a ferry, is backing away from the dock.  Where would you be if you hear a prolonged blast followed by a single short blast?  Probably in the vicinity of a draw bridge (yes, there are still a few on the bay … next to ATT Park is an example).  One prolonged followed by one short is the official request to open the bridge.

Here are a few more examples taken from the Inland Waters sections of the Navigation Rules.  Yes, I know that in international waters the meaning might be a bit different, however, we are generally in the bay which is considered inland waters, so lets go with those signals for now.

  • A single short blast means “I plan to leave you on my port side” (only applies when both vessels are power-driven).  This signal should be responded to with the same signal if in agreement or five short blasts if not in agreement.
  • Two short blasts means “I plan to leave you on my starboard side” (only applies when both vessels are power-driven).  This signal should be responded to with the same signal if in agreement or five short blasts if not in agreement.
  • Three short blasts means “I am operating astern propulsion.”  This doesn’t necessarily mean backing up, it could mean using reverse to bring the vessel to a stop.
  • Five or more short (or rapid) blasts indicates disagreement or danger.  It means “I don’t understand your intentions or actions!”
  • Once in awhile you might hear a single blast that never seems to end.  It’s not a recognized sound signal, however the meaning pretty much comes through.  Please don’t use it, but if you hear it, it means “If you don’t get out of the way you are going to get run down by a very big boat!”
  • In good visibility, a single prolonged blast means either … leaving the dock, or rounding a bend in a channel or fairway where visibility is obscured.
  • In limited visibility, a single prolonged blast repeated at intervals of no more than two minutes is the signal made by a power-driven vessel making way.  A sailing vessel, a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver, a fishing vessel, a vessel not under command, or a vessel towing (or pushing) will sound the same signal, followed by two short blasts, at the same interval.
  • The same signal might have a different meaning when used in different context.  Remember that prolonged blast followed by three short blasts.  In restricted visibility it’s the signal made by a vessel being towed, and should be made soon after the towing vessel signals with a prolonged and two shorts.

While on the topic of sound signals, here is another “pet peeve.”  You know the pump up sound signals on all of Tradewinds boats?  They are totally useless unless the air bottle (signal) and the pump are together … at all times!!!

One last thing.  VHF radios have pretty much replaced the use of sound signals in most circumstances.  On the bay, channel 13 is reserved for radio traffic from one ship’s bridge to another.  It doesn’t happen often however, occasionally I will hail large vessel traffic in a narrow channel to let them know my intentions before they get nervous.  If you decide to do so, remember that you are on a “recorded line.” Follow radio etiquette and be professional.

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Reef Early … Reef Often … Reef Deep

Summer is here!!  I know, the first day of summer is officially June 21, and we aren’t there yet, however, this week the San Francisco summer weather pattern seems to have established itself over the bay.  Here are few tips to help you enjoy your summer time sailing.

Watch the water.  When you begin to see white caps, consider putting in a reef.  At this point the wind speed is probably 12 to 15 knots.  You may not need a reef, however, it’s easy to put in.  Another 5 knots of wind speed and it’s not so easily done.  I have never regretted the decision to reef.  I have regretted deciding not to on more than one occasion.  I like to roll my jib up about a third when I put the first reef in the main.

Feel the helm.  If you notice the boat wanting to force itself up into the wind (heading up), you either have the sails over trimmed or you have too much sail and need a reef.  If you have a reef in and the boat still wants to head up it’s time for a second reef.  Definitely consider rolling the jib in another third when the second reef goes in.

Sail to the comfort level of the least comfortable person an board.  Reefing early, often, and deep is a great way to keep the boat “flat.”  If you are looking for an enjoyable day sail, “flat” is typically what you want.  If you have any non-sailors or what I call “heeling timid sailors” on board, they will not enjoy seeing the rail in the water and waves crashing over the bow!  My wife used to be that way.  Anything more than about 15 degrees of heel and my wife’s heel alarm would go off … “Don! That’s enough of that!”  Over time she has gotten much more comfortable.  The last time we went out, we had a great close reach to San Francisco followed by a outstanding beam reach all the way back.  The toe rail was buried in the water the entire way and she had a great time.  All because we took it easy when she was first learning to enjoy this great sport.

It’s cold out there.  Speaking of comfort.  The wind San Francisco Bay is famous for comes straight off the cold waters of the Pacific.  It gets very cold, especially when the wind is accompanied by fog or the marine layer.  Dress in layers.  Wool “watch caps” and warm gloves help a lot.  Bring blankets.

Stop and smell the roses.  I’m talking about the rose in the centerpiece of the cockpit table.  Try this sometime.  Find a spot where you are sheltered from the wind, out of the traffic channels, with lot’s of room to leeward.  Then heave to or put out an anchor.  Bring out the rose centerpiece, wine, cheese, salami, and crackers and enjoy the fellowship of good friends in one of the most beautiful places in the world!  Some quick notes about heaving to.  You are still legally underway.  If you heave to on a starboard tack you retain right of way.  If you are going to heave to for more than a minute or two, douse the mainsail.  Leaving it up is noisy and the luffing isn’t good for it.

One final tip … go sailing … often!

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Stay Safe on Deck – Part Deux

I’ve never had an opportunity to re-visit a topic this quickly, however I think a second visit might be needed in this case!  In the last one week, two different people I know have ended up in the water.  One at a dock and one at a mooring ball!  Fortunately, the only injuries incurred were to the pride of those involved.  Sadly, in both cases taking basic safety precautions would have prevented a cold, wet experience.

Case number 1 … while docking at Sam’s, the bow line handler got a little too enthusiastic in pulling the bow to the dock, pulling the stern line handler into the water between the boat and the dock.

Lesson 1 … you can not stop a moving 15,000 pound boat by hand.  You need some help in the form of friction.  Get a line around both sides of a cleat and you can stop the boat with two fingers.

Case number 2 … while picking up a mooring ball at Ayala Cove, the crew member attempting to get a line through the mooring ring leaned too far out, got off balance and fell in.

Lesson 2 … Even in calm water, a boat rocks, rolls, and in general moves a lot.  Do not lean out!  Trying to save a less than good maneuver often ends badly.

Lesson 3 … Kneel instead of standing.  It’s much more stable.

I personally believe all crew should remain inside the cockpit until two dock lines are secured.  As the skipper of a vessel, I enforce that rule unless conditions absolutely require otherwise, which is very rare.  The helmsperson should bring the crewmember to the cleat.  Crew should not need to go to the cleat.  Crew should always kneel while handling lines … especially during those rare occasions that require crew outside of the cockpit.  Finally, never forget – one hand for yourself and one hand for the boat!

All of these techniques are covered in the Advanced Docking (ASA 118) class.  I highly recommend taking the class.  If you have already taken it, take it again.

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Overnight on San Francisco Bay

Summer is just around the corner and one of my favorite pastimes is coming up fast.  Late sunsets, mild overnight winds, and early sunrises seem to beg for an overnight stay on the bay.  I love to get off work at 5:00, hop on my boat, and sail somewhere for dinner and an overnight at anchor.  Here are a couple of my (and some friends) favorite spots.

Paradise Cove – located on the North East shore of Tiburon, Paradise Cove can accommodate a lot of boats.

Richardson Bay

McNear’s Beach/China Camp

Clipper Cove

China Basin/McCovey Cove

If you need some tips about overnights in our cruising area, give us a call or ask us in the clubhouse when we are near a chart!

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Why Knot?

I have been accused of being the resident Tradewinds knot geek, and sadly, I think it’s probably true, however, that doesn’t lessen the importance of being able to tie certain knots.  As a sailor, being able to tie certain knots is critical, possibly even life saving.

Here’s a little basic terminology for you.  Knots fall into three general categories.

  1. Hitches are knots that attach a line to something else.  For example, a cleat hitch attaches a line to a cleat.
  2. Bends attach lines to other lines.  A great example is a sheet bend that joins two lines end to end.
  3. Knots (I know, this is a little weird … one of the categories of knots is knots).  Knots are pretty much anything else, typically loops, binding knots, and knobs, the most common example being a reef knot, which joins the two ends of the same line together to “bind” something (like the sail to the boom) in place.

So, what knots do you really need to know as a sailor?   This is just one sailor talking, however, here is my opinion, listed pretty much in the order of the frequency I use them.  There are six knots that are “must knows” and a couple of other nice to knows.

  1. Cleat Hitch.  It’s a rare sail that I don’t tie at least one cleat hitch.  Even at Tradewinds docks where we leave dock lines at the dock for most of the boats, I find myself using cleat hitches.  I use them at other docks, at the pump out station, and on the boat to secure spring lines during docking.
  2. Figure Eight Knot.  This is one of those “knobs” I mentioned earlier.  It puts a knob in the end of the line to act as a stopper.  I’m always amazed when I get on a boat how many of the sheets and lines that need a stopper don’t have them.
  3. Bowline.  Another knot, this in the form of a temporary loop.  Practice this one a lot, because you should be able to tie it in the dark, using only one hand, while hanging upside down in a locker.  You should be able to tie small loops and loops that are 10 feet in diameter (There is an easy trick to it.  If you  are in the office and want to know how, just ask me).
  4. Round Turn with Two Half Hitches.  The two half hitches are the actual knot.  The round turn part just means you wrap the line around whatever you are attaching it to one and a half times.  This knot is invaluable for attaching fenders and hanging coils of line.
  5. Sheet Bend.  It doesn’t happen often, but there are times when you need to join two lines together.  This is the best knot to use.  You can also use the same knot to join the bitter end of a line to a loop in the end of another line.  In this case it’s called a becket bend, however, it’s the same knot.
  6. Rolling Hitch.  I love this one.  Don’t need it often, but when you do it might save some money.  Use it to attach the end of a line to the middle of another line and grab hold so you can pull.  The first time I used it, the boat’s skipper was opening a knife to cut a jib sheet that was “hopelessly” overwrapped on a winch.  The rolling hitch allowed me to get enough slack to undo the overwrap.  At more than a dollar a foot for line, cutting a jib sheet can get expensive.  I also works great for attaching a snubber to an anchor rode.

That’s it for my “must know” knots.  Some “nice to know’s” are the clove hitch, the truckers hitch, and the heaving knot.  And then there are the “cool to know” knots like the Running Turks Head, Monkey Fist, Solomon’s Bar and Constrictor Knot.

If you are interested in learning, re-learning, or practicing any of these knots, stop by.


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