After our unusually warm fall, we are seeing sure signs of winter. And with the Drumstick Race over, one might think that IYC's water season is finished for the year. I would argue against that, particularly for our kayakers, paddleboarders and rowers. Late fall and early winter mornings can be glorious on our bay. The water is often glassy. The sunrise at the southern end of the bay can be spectacular. Get out there and try it.
My wife, Carolyn, and I bought our first house in Connecticut. Local historians estimated that the little cape was built sometime in the 1750's. Wonderful house, but I quickly learned that nothing works in an old house but the owner. Unfortunately the same is true of our 100 year old IYC clubhouse, especially as it is situated on a salty, windy bay. Several weeks ago, mushrooms were spotted growing from the bar-room door landing. Now I like mushrooms as well as the next guy, but having them sprout from a second story entryway is not good. The top of the landing was concrete, however under that we had plywood and wooden beams, supposedly protected by galvanized flashing. Our ever-resourceful port captains, Milly and Richard Biller, pulled the landing apart. The flashing was thoroughly corroded by salt, leading to water leakage and rot. Luckily the damage was limited to the landing and had not reached the clubhouse itself. Milly and Richard have now put it all back together with durable copper flashing and thick redwood planking. This should last many decades. Once again, many thanks to our terrific port captains for keeping the old place together and all of us safe.
During the past month, more waterfowl have arrived from their northern breeding grounds. By the time of the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (ed. note:see guest column p7), we can have upwards of 35,000 birds on the bay. One of the most numerous is the Bufflehead, our smallest North American duck. The male is a nifty little fellow in formal black and white attire. His belly is bright white; the back is black with occasional iridescent green highlights depending on the light angle. But it's his head that stands out. It's mostly black but behind his eye, he has a white arc of feathers which, when he is excited or curious, will expand to give him a very noticeable and handsome headdress. Buffleheads nest in old woodpecker holes throughout Canada and the northern United States, then winter along our coasts and in southern lakes. On Tomales Bay they can number anywhere between 2,500 to 15,000. From our Yacht Club dock, you easily see them from now until April.
On Saturday the 12th, at the Open House, we have our annual gift exchange. Along with the usual Open House comradery, the gift exchange is fun -- bring something, get something. While I must say that most of the gifts are white elephants, something really good often turns up. Then at 12 noon on January 1, we have one of the biggest get-togethers of the year -- the Gin Fizz Party. It's free and it's fun. Info on all this is on our newly redesigned and much improved web site. Check it out.
Happy Holidays to all! , John Longstreth, Commodore
Port Captain's Report
The new upper bar stairs landing replacement is very nearly completed- just a couple of details to take care of. I get asked why we used such big timbers for decking, so here is the reason. Due to the thickness of the concrete and the plywood that rotted underneath it, we needed to make up the height difference to maintain a consistent stair height, and also so there wasn't an odd downward step out of the bar. What failed was the galvanized flashing, so we used copper instead. Hopefully, this will last a while!
Our next project at the club will likely be replacing the plywood siding on the race kiosk at the outer dock, as some of it is beginning to rot. We will likely at the same time replace some bad decking under the kiosk that we haven't been able to access, but can once the siding is off. We also have to put the daylighting in the outer float ramp, to get our Army Corps of Engineers permit signed off from the float replacement. First though, we have some patient clients who we need to take care of!
The weather is coming- possibly even this Thursday, so if your boat has a tendency to blow over or off its trailer, please tie it down. Also, it is time for EVERYTHING to be off the beach, that includes the Sunfish, Lasers and any kayaks or paddleboards that are not in the rack. Since the Drumstick is our last race of the year, any of you who are "Borrowing" a spot but don't have a permanent one yet, please take your boats home. If you are currently renting a space here be sure to remember to notify me if you are taking your watercraft out of the yard and whether or not you plan to return it in the future. If you are not, I can give it to the next person, if you are, I don't want to give it away by mistake!
Also weather related: Please slow down when entering and driving in the parking lot. When it rains and people come speeding into and around the driveway, it creates the potholes that we seem to have finally beaten into submission.
Best wishes for the Holidays, and I hope to see you at the wacky gift exchange, and the Gin Fizz party.
Tales From the Bar of the Inverness Yacht Club
This Tale is meant as a challenge.
Again, it is about the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Valley. We used to spend more than a week over the President’s Week at the Hotel as our daughter, Holly, was growing up and learning to ski. We also went many, many other times.
Over the years when Holly was not with us, a self imposed challenge for me was to be seated with Anne at the “Honeymoon” table for two in the Dining Room Alcove. The Ahwahnee Hotel in my judgment is the most scenic of any in the world. The Alcove is the separate room at the north end. The “Honeymoon” table (#123) is at the very end of the Alcove Room under a floor to ceiling window. An awesome table.
My effort to be seated at the “Honeymoon” table would start shortly after we arrived at the Hotel. I would make my way to the Dining Room to make friends with the Host and Staff saying that we would like to seated at table #123. One can be seated there only if it is available and the Host/Staff like you. You cannot reserve it or “tip” your way to it.
Well, a Senior Staff Host once told me that I held the record for being seated at this table the most. Quite an honor.
An example of how I related is in this story from about 10 years ago. I noted to a new Host that we had purchased the Ahwahnee plate-ware for our personal home use some 25 years earlier and that “I was surprised after all of these years that the Hotel was still using our pattern.” The Host smiled and said “You are going to table #123.”
My challenge to the IYC members. When next at the Ahwahnee for dinner, see if you can be seated at the “Honeymoon” table #123.
Winners of last month's contest will be announced on the IYC web site shortly! Please submit your entries below!
2015 Vangaurd Fleet 15 Championships
September 26-27, 2015
Dawn crested over a beautiful Tomales Bay on Saturday, September 26, a wonderful welcome to the Bay Area?s Vanguard 15 fleet for its annual fleet championship. The industrious Scott Kozinchik ran a jovial skippers meeting after which boats were immediately out on the water. The wind showed up for the regatta. A stiff breeze out of the northwest met the starting line at the beginning of race one. And from race one, it was clear that one team came to play. Matt Sessions and Avery Whitmarsh sailed fast from the first horn until the last, reeling in bullet after bullet. Shrewd tactics combined with relentless hiking propelled their boat; at times it seemed as though there was an outboard motor somewhere below deck! The scrap in the rest of the fleet was no less impressive. In race 6, all nine boats of the fleet rounded the windward mark in less than 20 seconds, with the kind of boisterous communication one might expect in such a tight rounding. Pete & Michelle, the winner of race 11, made an outstanding comeback after being called over and crossing the start line in last place. Pete?s new, dazzling match race in the final race of the day, the team of Al Sareant, Maddy Eustis and Ethan Sargent were tied with Pete Trachy andMichele Sumpton after the mainsails were lowered. Al and Maddy won the tie breaker for 2nd place in the regatta! Pete and Michele claimed third prize.
On the water with the Vanguard 15 fleet, there is always fierce competition with not an inch spared for any opponent. Off the water, it is all smiles, bear hugs and fist bumps ? a true Corinthian spirit prevails. Awards were presented, and the final liters of the keg were chugged. A special thanks to the members of Inverness Yacht Club for hosting this event year after year. Avery Whitmarsh headed up the meal program on Saturday night with an outstanding culinary delight. And a big thanks to Scott Kozinchik whose organizational skills made for a flawless, well run event.
Steve Kleha, Special to Pilot
Sailing on Pursuit
This past summer I had the incredible privilege to sail on a magnificent classic racing boat in San Francisco Bay. The boat was Pursuit; an M class racing sloop built during the inter war years and lovingly sailed and maintained for the past half century by her owner Ron MacAnnan. Over the course of the summer and early fall I sailed on Pursuit on four separate occasions, each of which left me with a powerful impression of this amazing boat.
The M class, of which Pursuit is the last remaining example, were designed as a racing class to fill the gap in size between the smaller 12 meter and larger J class racing sloops of the early 20th century. Though smaller than a J class, the M boat's proportions are nonetheless immense. Her composite steel and wood hull measures 82 feet on deck and displaces 50 tons. She draws 11 feet in the water and has a maximum beam of just under 15 feet. Though Pursuit's low freeboard hides the boat amongst her high sided power yacht neighbors, her gigantic varnished wood mast, glistening in the sun and towering almost 100 feet above the deck dominates the Sausalito waterfront. Climbing aboard this grand dame of the golden age is like taking a trip back in time. There are no self tailing winches, roller furlers or ball bearing blocks on this boat; she is set up largely as she was when she went down the ways in 1929. This means that her 3,250 square feet of working sail is managed not by electric motors or hydraulics, but rather human muscle, or “Norwegian steam” as was the common nomenclature of her time. The result is a boat that is intense, physical, and at times dangerous to sail.
My experience with Pursuit started when I was a kid; back when one of my favorite weekend pastimes was to walk the docks of the of the Sausalito Yacht Harbor, admiring the myriad of different yachts in their berths. One of my favorites was always the M boat. With her graceful, low and sleek lines she bore a stark contrast to the more modern yachts in the harbor. As I gazed down at the boat from the Sausalito boardwalk, little did I know that 15 years later I would have the chance to race aboard her. I could hardly believe what I was hearing when in mid May of 2015 a friend of mine told me that he was going to be part of Pursuit's crew for the Master Mariner's race, and that they were looking for additional volunteers. I quickly cleared my schedule for the next two weekends. There would be one practice to get the pickup crew acquainted with their positions then the race the following weekend.
My first time on the boat was a surreal experience. Stepping onto Pursuit's massive teak deck was the fulfillment of a childhood dream. The dream quickly turned into reality however as we were put to work getting the massive racing machine ready to sail. An extensive array of dock lines, covers, fenders and hatch boards needed to be stowed. The division of labor was at times confusing; though the twenty person crew was highly experienced, many had not sailed together before, and most owned their own boats. One quickly got the sense that we were sailing on a boat with more captains then crew. Amidst the turmoil however, there was one man who was clearly in charge. That was Ron MacAnnan, Pursuit's 90 year old, tough-as-nails owner and captain, who issued orders with a gruff and no nonsense demeanor. A fellow crew member remarked, “remember, on this boat 'damnit' means 'please'”.
Before we left the harbor I realized just how special this Master Mariners was going to be as Hank Easom, who would be at the helm during the race, stepped aboard. Hank is a San Francisco Bay racing legend and I was extremely excited to see him do his work. Ron guided Pursuit out of the harbor, under the power of her 85 horsepower diesel. We passed the Spinnaker restaurant and began to raise the main. As I was stationed aft with two others on the mainsheet grinder, I had one of the best seats in the house. The sails were set and we glided out towards the Golden Gate into a light breeze. It is difficult to get a sense of your speed on a boat like Pursuit. At 50 tons her motion is stately to say the least. You do not really get the feeling that the boat is moving very fast until you look closely at the water. Though the wind barely rippled the surface we were slipping along effortlessly, at a rate which would be the envy of smaller, more modern yachts.
During the race the following weekend we would reach displacement speeds well over 10 knots. We sailed under the gate and down the cityfront, practicing several tacks and jibes before returning home. I got the sense of both the grand scale of the boat, and the seriousness with which he must be handled. For one, everything on a boat this size is massive, the loads imparted to the standing and running rigging are immense, and demand the utmost caution and respect. Her rig is also complex, with two sets of running backstays which must be precisely shifted at each tack or jibe. Failure to do so correctly could result in the failure of the 100 foot laminated spruce rig, a terrifying and potentially deadly prospect. The following weekend was the Master Mariner's race, in which Pursuit would compete in her own class amongst hundreds of other classic sailing craft. Conditions varied throughout the day with light winds for the start at cityfront building to 15 to 20 knots for the finish near Treasure Island. During the course of the race I got the feeling that I was a small part of something very special.
Pursuit was the largest competitor as well as one of the oldest and she was being skippered by a true bay area sailing legend. Perhaps the greatest moment in the race came while crossing “the slot” between Alcatraz and Angel Island. Pursuit, with too few crew and too much wind to risk flying her massive 3,500 square foot spinnaker, was overhauled and nearly passed by the 68 foot classic schooner Martha, built in 1907. For several minutes the two massive boats jockeyed for position, much to the delight of their crews. Were it not for the battery on my gopro camera running out I would have come away with some spectacular footage from my vantage point on Pursuit's stern. After the race I learned that I would be added to the crew list and would receive regular calls whenever the boat needed crew. I ended up on the boat two additional times over the course of the summer. On the second of these outings the boat gave me a good idea of just how powerful she is. I was tailing the mainsheet, which wrapped around a massive non tapered winch, one of the boat's original fittings. While executing a jibe in low wind I attempted to remove one wrap from the winch to get the main out faster. Instead both wraps jumped off the winch and, though the wind was very light, the 40 foot boom immediately swung outboard, pulling perhaps 100 feet of sheet through the block in the space of a couple of seconds. I was lucky to come away with all of my digits intact and only a couple of rope burns to show for the excitement. Sailing on the M boat Pursuit has been and will continue to be an exciting and informative experience for me. What I love most of all is the quality the boat has of taking something which I had only experienced through black and white photographs and making it real. Sailing has always had a timeless quality to me; Pursuit especially seems to move through time as well as space. Walking her decks and trimming her sails puts one right back in the 1930s. I am extremely grateful to Ron MacAnnan and to all of those who volunteer on a regular basis to keep the world's last M boat alive and sailing.
October Race Results
1st. Ashley Tobin Lightning
2nd. C.C. Lemieux 110
3rd. Milly Biller 110
4th. Michael Sporer 110
1st David West 110
2nd Michael Sporer 110
3rd Christopher Longaker Flying Scot
4th Tom Nemeth Flying Scot
5th Shawn Kelly Johnson 18
6th. Ned Congdon Flying Scot
New IYC Website Coming Soon!!
After many years of reliable service, the IYC website is receiving an exciting makeover! If the final development stage goes smoothly, on or about December 1st, when you navigate to invernessyachtclub.org you will land in a newly created environment (thanks, thanks, thanks, Camille Leblanc!!). Don’t worry, all the information you’re used to finding will still be there and we’re sure the navigation will prove easily mastered. Why mess with a good thing? Over the years since our site was created (thanks, thanks, thanks, John Speh!!), the relationship between websites and their users has changed enormously. Today, there is far greater visual and functional richness on the web. Yes, thankfully, the club is a bastion of old-time-style leisure, happily clinging to a way of life that is passing too much of the rest of the world by. But the opportunity to streamline some of our operations and the necessity to not completely lose touch with a changing world, inspire this effort…..without changing our casual, relaxed, wonderful club. In addition to a new look and feel - best experienced yourself rather than described here - the big gain from the new site is that it will be interactive. This will allow users to engage in such transactions as volunteering to help with social events, seeking out or offering to crew, sharing concerns with the port captains, and signing up for and paying for parties and racing online. Also, it will allow the leaders of our club - especially the chair people of the key committees whose activities are represented on the site - to quickly and easily share up-to-date information with members. And, importantly, future enhancements will take less development time. So, don’t be surprised the first time you open up the new site after its release. Instead, noodle around in it and you will quickly find both the old information you’ve come to rely on and new functionality to streamline your interactions with your club.
Coming in November!
Thanksgiving Leftovers Potluck
Bring Your leftover food, houseguests and family. Leftovers can be main dish, side or dessert. The Club will provide bread and mixed green salad. No Host Bar.
Reservations and payment may be made online here, or, by emailing Jackie Cardwell at email@example.com or calling 415.669.1512 and mailing a check to Jackie Cardwell made out to IYC, PO Box 62, Inverness, CA 94937.
IYC's sales tax exempt status requires that we accept payment from members only.