Out & About The Bay – by Jillian Humphreys

Charting Your Own Waters

Have you ever thought to yourself that you would love to get on the water and go somewhere? Or maybe you have thought that a trip on a boat without a captain would be something you and your family would enjoy? Well, Club Nautique Alameda and Sausalito are here to make those dreams reality. Stephanie, the new owner welcomes people of all experience levels when they walk in the door, with a warm and cheerful attitude. Stephanie grew up in Virginia on the water, but not on a boat. She did not get her feet wet until she was a teenager and was invited to Bermuda with a friend. During 2020, Stephanie was looking for a change of scenery from a gray Seattle. She saw the chance to come to foggy, sometimes sunny San Francisco and jumped in with both feet. Club Nautique has been located in Alameda and Sausalito for years, but has recently been brought back to life after a year all businesses would like to forget. Club Nautique is a small business that offers personal experiences and boats of all types, power and sail.

Having been around boats my entire life and hearing about Club Nautique time and time again, I am just as surprised as you are to learn that I have never been to one of their locations until now. Club Nautique is a special club compared to others in the area because it offers international charters and has a very active calendar for its members. They offer a number of different classes to help you and I be safer on the water and enjoy our time with friends. If you are interested in finding a sailing or powerboating class, Club Nautique is here to assist, and you don’t have to stop at the basics. Their sailing classes range from Basic Keelboat, teaching beginner sailors the fundamentals of sailing; this will also assist you in qualifying to charter a Club Nautique boat up to 26-feet in specific areas around SF Bay, to Offshore Passage Making, known as the graduate school of U.S. Sailing classes and a critical education opportunity for those looking to go out the Golden Gate, turn left and never come back, and everything in between. The powerboat classes range from Basic Powerboat, where students will learn how to maneuver in closed and open spaces, Man Overboard Recovery, to Coastal Navigation, which covers things such as how to read a chart and gives students the confidence to make the decision as to whether it will be a safe passage for not only themselves but their passengers. I am thinking of joining and partaking in the powerboat classes so I can be diverse in the different types of boats on the water.

Students take the helm. Photo courtesy of Club Nautique.

Club Nautique does not currently provide a way to get the CA Boater’s Card, as the card is not required to charter a vessel. It is only required if you own a boat. The club does encourage boaters who are interested in purchasing their own boat to research the requirements, and the staff at Club Nautique is willing to assist if you have any questions.

As students go through the number of different classes that are offered, they get some wonderful perks if they end up joining as members of the club. The discounts on boat charters are nearly half and other opportunities to save do not stop there. Classes and vacation charters are also on the list of opportunities that will be available to take advantage of if you join. The available international charter locations are breathtaking and places that one only dreams about visiting, let alone getting to experience it by boat. I know they are on my bucket list and now possibly yours. The South Pacific, Caribbean and Mediterranean are just a few of the wonderful international locations that Club Nautique can assist its members in getting charters out of. If you do not have any desire to travel internationally, that is not a problem as the year-round calendar is extremely active with trips to Monterey Bay, Petaluma, Wednesday night sails and classes every weekend. Novices to the most advanced sailors alike love the options Club Nautique has to offer.

Club Nautique provides a balanced classroom and on the water setting for all students, where the average is one certified instructor to every four students. This provides a more personal experience as it gives each student the time to get one-on-one at the helm, as well as enough room to safely to move about. Club Nautique has age requirements to participate in classes, which has more to do with the ability to perform the maneuvers needed. Retirees are the most common as they are looking for a fun new skill, but keep in mind that the minimum age is 13 years for the sailing classes and 16 years for the powerboating, and each must be accompanied by a legal guardian.

The age requirement to charter through Club Nautique at all locations is 21 years. Most of the boats available are larger than 26-feet in length, weigh over 2,500 pounds and are balanced between the Alameda and Sausalito locations in the SF Bay. Safety is the number one priority for Club Nautique as it should be for all boating schools, charter companies and boaters alike. They do provide personal floatation devices (PFDs) for members or students to borrow again, as during COVID it was left up to the participants to bring their own. Stephanie states, “As students advance through the classes, you start to see them bring their own gear as time goes on.” Their safety checklist is extremely thorough, similar to renting a car. This is a good thing when it comes to playing on the water. The checkout and check-in list are similar in ensuring that the engines, bilge pumps and VHF radios work, as well as that boat specific components are in operating condition. Being on the water or around the water at times makes people feel more comfortable, losing respect and sense of danger that the water can quickly produce. Club Nautique does require anyone on their vessels to wear a properly fitted PFD, thus ensuring the person’s safety and increasing the comfort level of being around the water. Wearing a PFD may not seem like a big deal when you are safely on a larger vessel that has a high freeboard, but water does not care and you will want to be adequately prepared. The Club Nautique instructors range from individuals who have been lifelong mariners to previous students who wish to pass on to others their knowledge and love of being on the water.

Chartering from Sausalito makes for an easy trip out the Golden Gate Bridge. Photo courtesy of Club Nautique.

Club Nautique is the perfect place to get acquainted with boating without being overpowered by the sea or wind, which is why so many people come and join. The club also teaches to the U.S. Sailing/Powerboating curriculum for all of its classes, where as other schools in the area only focus on sailing through the American Sailing Association (ASA). If you are serious about getting certified to charter a boat in waters unknown, look at Club Nautique as you won’t be disappointed and who knows, maybe you’ll become an instructor for them. Classes are year-round as the Club Nautique team is getting requests for specific classes and more of them. The surge that Club Nautique owner Stephanie has felt in Jan. and Feb. 2021 is the same that the marine industry all experienced, and these were the busiest first two months of the year that the club has ever seen.

If you are a nonmember of Club Nautique but would like to charter a boat, they have an opportunity for you to do that even if you are certified outside of their club. They ensure that you are qualified in safe boating practices by having you submit a boating resume that reviewed by their school director. The school director will then evaluate the experience you have. This is not only for students of U.S. Sailing/Powerboating, but also ASA and noncertified individuals. Depending on how much experience one has on the type of boat they plan on checking out, they might have to go through a “check out” procedure which includes four hours with an instructor on the size boat that they plan on chartering to evaluate their ability to operate the vessel safely and care for it mechanically. The minimum length of charter for a non-member is three days.

Club Nautique is in high demand due to the opportunities that they provide; not just because of their years of experience and dedicated instructors, but also the friendly welcome feeling and attentiveness that is given to everyone. If you are interested in learning how to chart your own course on the water, look at the club with over 40 years of experience at www.clubnautique.net, 510-865-4700, or contact your local marina for additional resources.

Fleet Week Is Back

Welcome back to the San Francisco Bay Area, sailors, we have missed you. During the time heightened effects of COVID, we could not have gatherings and that meant the time-honored tradition was put on hold. Fleet Week is an event that draws thousands of visitors to San Francisco every year. The full air show over the Bay would not be complete if not for the Blue Angels on the weekend of Oct. 8-10. Ship tours are offered to guests throughout the week prior, as well as on the weekend. Boaters of all kinds gather in front of the Marina Green and Crissy Field to watch the spectacular air shows of the Navy Leap Frogs, United Airlines, Air Force F16s and Canadian Snowbirds, along with the Blue Angels finale.

Visitors gather all over the SF Bay to catch a glimpse of the Blue Angels. Photo courtesy of Allan Pratt.

Fleet Week began in 1981 as a way to honor the U.S. Armed Forces and assist civilians and military in understanding humanitarian assistance. San Francisco Fleet Week hosts the largest Parade of Ships on the West Coast. The ships can easily be seen from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge. The San Francisco Fire Department will provide a lead escort with their fireboat to celebrate the fleet’s arrival. The fully choreographed acts of a United commercial airliner that performs during the air show is the only one in the United States. The ship tours offer visitors the chance to climb aboard cruisers, destroyers and carriers that offer insight into how our sailors currently serving in the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard live day-to-day when out at sea. Kids of all ages are welcome to visit the STEM Education Center that is interactive and educational on the Marina Green. The program is designed to teach more about renewable energy, water desalination and purification processes, as well as engage the questions of science and technology. The United States Marine Corps 1st Marine Division Band makes a special performance at the “Honor Our Fallen” Tribute Concert this year. As usual, it is free and open to the public, but make sure you reserve your seats early as they are typically limited. There are also K9 heroes on-site to demonstrate the talents they use to assist veterans returning from war with their love and other talents; the canines are fire, military and police, as well as search and rescue that specialize in assisting people with PTSD.

Some of the regular highlights that will be missed this year but plan on returning in 2022 are the Veterans Art Exhibit and the High School Band Challenge. The art exhibit assists in the healing process of dealing with PTSD, and artists welcome range from WWII veterans to active service members. High School Band Challenge is for selected Bay Area High Schools that perform as a part of a competition for prize money to support their school’s music program.

The Nimitz-class aircraft Carrier USS Carl Vinson passes under the Golden Gate Bridge during the San Francisco Fleet Week 2011 Parade of Ships. Photo courtesy of Strategypage.com

When visiting the Fleet Week air show, here are some of the best places to catch all the action: Crissy Field, Marina Green, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Alcatraz, Angel Island and Twin Peaks. My personal and favorite location to view all of the parade and air show is on my boat by Aquatic Park or at Gashouse Cove Marina.

Lunch while waiting for the beginning of the air show.

Disabled Sailors Get Their Time On The Water Too

Sailing may seem like it is for agile and limber individuals, but that is not true thanks to the group Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS). BAADS has a keelboat and dinghy fleet which are equipped and rigged specially for sailors with disabilities. The features are very adaptive to each sailor’s needs which makes solo sailing possible. The all-volunteer based organization serves anywhere from 20-40 sailors each weekend that are ready to jump in, as they may be complete novices or returning. The point of BAADS is to serve as a gateway for people with disabilities to take their freedom back in the form of a new hobby, one that they may have thought that they had to give up. The weekend participants can choose to learn to sail by themselves or with a partner in the dinghy fleet, or jump on the keelboat and become part of a team.

BAADS welcomes all service animals within reason, and if you provide them adequate time to prepare. All service animals will be outfitted with their own PFD. When bringing a service animal be prepared to sail on a keelboat as it will ensure the safety of the animal. The discretion of allowing particular service animals is left up to the program director, dockmaster and lastly the skipper since fellow crew may have fears or stress of having animals around, and they want everyone to feel safe on the water. BAADS has a calendar of events for its members and volunteers to enjoy year-round, as well as a partnership with South Beach Yacht Club (SBYC) to enjoy the yacht club within reason.

Shana Bagley experiencing the chair lift at RYC. Photo courtesy of Winston Bumpus.

One of the events that is a big part of the BAADS calendar is the PICYA hosted Margot Brown Wheelchair Regatta in late September. This annual event assists disabled veterans (those in wheelchairs mostly) with a once in a life time opportunity to get on a sailboat and experience the SF Bay in a new way. Encinal Yacht Club hosts the annual regatta, and up until the evening of August 2nd it was a planned event this year with restrictions. However as so many things we are used to this past year, it has been canceled and will return in 2022. This is not an event only for yachtsman of all kinds because if you think about it, who doesn’t want to get on the water? The salty air is the best medicine for those who seek to feel free again!

The adventures start at 0900 at the guest docks, beginning a day at sea where guests will not only start to enjoy the water, but will be treated to a picnic luncheon and entertainment when they return midday. A majority of the veterans reside at Northern California veterans homes and hospitals, and it is a welcome day in the life of a sailor. If you would like to assist in taking veterans out on your vessel, or know of a veteran who can benefit from a day out, contact Encinal.org for more information. Like BAADS, this event is volunteer driven and each of the member clubs in PICYA assists with making the veterans feel at home from the minute they arrive, to serving lunch, assisting in boarding boats and creating entertainment for all.

Making a difference for those that are bound to a wheelchair is a new concept that U.S. Sailing/Powerboating is spearheading. In 2019 after years of vision and hard work, Richmond Yacht Club put in an inclusive sailing person lift. South Beach Yacht Club is working with U.S. Sailing to host a U.S. Sailing Adaptive Sailing Instructor course. The course is in high demand, and people from all over the country plan the trip and venture west to participate. This interactive course assists students in understanding what it takes to teach individuals with disabilities by putting them through a variety of exercises.

Personally, BAADS and the Wheelchair Regatta hit home for me. When I was a little girl growing up, I watched a man, Fred Hess, confined to a wheelchair sail his own boat. He sadly passed away in 2008, but his drive to make sure he was able to enjoy the water is admirable. BAADS is always looking for more volunteers. Contact them at 415-281-0212 or BAADS.org if you wish to assist or participate.

Making a Difference… One Piece Of Trash At A Time

On Sept 18, boaters and non-boaters alike will hit the shorelines throughout the South Bay, Schoonmaker Beach, up the Sacramento River and beyond because it is the 37th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day. This annual event is one that I have personally participated in for many years, as well as all year long because the ecosystem of which we boat on is in need of our help. Volunteers all over get together to gather debris that accumulates over time and can be life threatening to the environment and toxic to humans. In 2019, the last year that this was a state-run effort, more than 70,000 people showed up. The goal for 2021 is to surpass the 900,000 pounds of trash collected from beaches and waterways in 2019, which is a record in itself.

Teenagers take pride in cleaning up Ocean Beach. Photo courtesy of sfgate.com

In 2020 since there was no official organized event, volunteers were invited to a month-long effort to clean up additional places such as parks, school yards and their local lakes, as well as anywhere they found waste. Debris tends to find its way to storm drains, streams and other means of transportation into our waterways that we enjoy. In 2020, more than 10,000 Californians stepped up and assisted in preventing over 100,000 pounds of waste from polluting our SF Bay and Delta waterways.

With over 1,000 miles of waterways including coastline, navigable rivers, lakes and the Delta, California has one of the highest, if not the highest, numbers when it comes to boating activity in the country. The popularity of boating has always seen an increase as our state’s population grows, and during the pandemic of 2020 it increased even more. With more boaters on our waterways, there is an increased impact on our environment due to oil spills, paints and plastic, along with other debris that can cause harmful contamination to our marine and wildlife which occasionally becomes the fish we eat.

We are visitors to the water; we need to keep that in mind when on the waterways, as well as disposing of things that will harm the creatures that live in it. Storm drains located on curbs carry toxic waste directly into local waterways and eventually to the SF Bay and onto the ocean. Storm water runoff is the largest source of pollution in the Bay. Much of the trash in our waterways is not biodegradable, as it is plastic and impacts the environment for hundreds of years. While current levels of pharmaceutical chemicals are not considered dangerous, research has proven that chemicals of this type can suppress fish reproduction.

If you would like to organize a coastal cleanup day, you can sign up your group at www.coastal.ca.gov. But think about it, why not just clean and pick up after ourselves year-round as being the norm vs. the alternative?

Calling All Woodies

During the Fourth of July festivities on the SF Bay, the Master Mariners Regatta became an annual attraction as the summer wind makes for an exciting race. However, this year the boat show portion of this event has been rescheduled for later this fall (tentatively Sept. 12.) The boat show gathers wooden boats of all sizes, from around the San Francisco Bay to the Corinthian Yacht Club.

The Master Mariners members take a great deal of pride in offering a closer look at their unique boats to the visitors. Along with offering insight to the vessels, members also enjoy enlightening the guests with the history behind them. There will be live music, model boat building for kids of all ages and refreshments on the deck which offers a spectacular view of the SF Bay. This boat show is different than others as attendees are allowed to meet with the owners and climb aboard these beautiful masterpieces of craftsmanship. From 100-plus-foot schooners to day sailors, they all have a history and story to be soaked up by yachtsman of all ages. Corinthian Yacht Club hosts these exquisite boats whose presence brings a little bit of magic with them with the stories they can tell you.

Classic boat builders may no longer be with us to explain the designs, but we boaters like it when the boats speak to us anyways. From Sparkman & Stephens yawls and Mass Sheeps gaff rigged cutters to Kettenburgs and more, the boats that come out of the woodworks to make an appearance at this spectacular annual event are countless. The current owners spend hours of love on their vessels to ensure that they are shipshape for years to come and continue to shine throughout history.

Everyone is welcome to join the fun for a minimal fee as all of the proceeds from the event go to Master Mariners Benevolent Fund, which provides funding for sail training scholarships or skills associated with restoring traditional sailing craft. More information can be found at www.sfmastermari ners.org as their calendar is getting busy.

Let me know where I can catch you on the Bay as I’d enjoy telling your story or informing our readers of events happening. Jillian@yachtsmanmagazine.com