Today is One of the Best Days of the Year!

Why?  Today, March 22. is the first day of Spring 2018.  Right now, it is 7:00 AM pacific time.  As I write, the sun is rapidly approaching the equator, and will cross into the northern hemisphere at 9:15 AM, less than two hours away.  Which means for the next six months we will have more sun than dark, more warmth than cold, and on San Francisco Bay those glorious 25 knots winds we are famous for!  To celebrate spring, one month from today is “Opening Day on the Bay.”  If you are not ready now,  it is time to get ready.  Here are a few tips.

First, get out your gear bag.  If you are like me, items tend to migrate to other places during the winter.  Even though I sail all winter, I use different gear, and my “normal” sailing gear gets displaced.  Gather all those miscellaneous sailing items up and get them back to their proper occasions.  While you are at it, check your gear over.

Is it time to replace the gloves?  While a pair of gloves in tatters may be a sign of a full season last year, they are pretty much useless.  Protect your hands.

Check your PFD(s)!  All PFDs need to be checked regularly … the inflatables types even more so.  Check and/or replace the CO2 cartridge.  A few years back, I experienced the plastic collar on the CO2 cartridge breaking off.  It would no longer mount properly in the mechanism, meaning it would not fire off if I needed it.  Last year, while I was doing my annual PFD check, I discovered one PFD was totally missing the CO2 cartridge.  Took a few seconds to remember that TSA in Cabo had confiscated it while I was boarding a plane returning from the BaJa HaHa.  Check the auto inflate trigger.  Is it working properly?  Does it have a “pill” that dissolves.  If so, replace it, even if it still looks good.  Check for wear and tear (like the seam stitching).  Even the old fashioned “foamy” type of PFDs wear out.

Are your electronic devices working properly.  I had a remote microphone on my handheld VHF radio for a long time.  During my annual equipment check this year (I did mine in January, because that was when I taught my first class of the year), I realized that over the winter the microphone pickup was no longer working.  I personally use a smart phone for back up navigation.  I have an app on the phone that uses the phones GPS to function as a small chart plotter.  The app I use allows me to upload actual NOAA charts.  Because of the classes I teach, I know that I will be using four different charts over the course of the year (Entrance to San Francisco Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, Half Moon Bay, and Drakes Bay).  Every year, I remove the old version from my phone, and install the most recent version.  Stuff changes, and I want my charts to be as current as possible.

While on the topic of charts, it is a really good idea to have your primary sailing area chart in paper form.  For most of us, that would be 18649, Entrance to San Francisco Bay.  I don’t recommend just going into a marine store and picking one up, it could be years out of date.  Get a “print on demand” version.  Unfortunately, they are pricey, but, worth the cost in my opinion.  On the other hand, Tradewinds picked up a large supply of print on demand charts, and because of volume discounts is offering them to members at less than the price of non print on demand one.  The supply is limited, so if you want one do it now.

Is it time to acquire a new piece of gear (please don’t tell your significant other I told you that.)  It may be as simple as some knee pads because your knees are another year older, or as extravagant as Personal Locator Device because you are planning some time outside the Golden Gate.

Getting off the topic of gear, is it time to take your sailing to the next level?  If you are a Basic Keelboat graduate, is it time to step up to inboard motors and larger sailing area?  Are you feeling “confined in the shadow of Angel Island?”  Bareboat Cruising might be the ticket.  Docking skills rusty?  I highly recommend taking or retaking Advanced Docking.  That’s a class you could repeat every year and still get good stuff out of it, especially if you get different instructors each time.  Maybe its time to step up from crew to Captain by taking Basic Keelboat.  Here is a list of options being offered between now and Opening Day.

  • Basic Keelboat … there are ten different classes graduating between now and April 22.
  • Basic Coastal Cruising … four classes.  One in March, three in April.
  • Bareboat Cruising … you are a bit more limited.  Not that we aren’t offering just as many class, its that they are filling rapidly.  There is one class, with only one opening between now and then.  But … there is a lot of availability during the summer.
  • Advanced Docking … two options before opening day.
  • Advanced Anchoring … yes, we even have an advanced anchoring class available.  Take the class, then book a boat for Saturday April 21 and Sunday April 22.  Sail all day on Saturday, anchor out in Richardson Bay (or any of a number of other great locations) Saturday night, then participate in the Opening Day activities on Sunday.
  • Boat checkouts … Maybe you are qualified to anchor out overnight, but not certified in that one certain boat that would be “best” for your needs to anchor out.  We have 26 boat checkouts scheduled over the upcoming 31 days.
  • To get the exact dates of these, and everything else scheduled for 2018, use this link:  Tradewinds Course Schedule

So, what is the tip in all of this?

Plan some days on the water, prepare your equipment, improve your skills, and most important start getting out there and enjoying what is, in my opinion, the number 1 sailing venue in the world!


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