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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Attire.  You will need non-slip deck shoes.  Do not  wear shoes with black soles (they leave scuffmarks on deck) or leather soles (too slippery), barefoot is never a good idea.  It is likely that you will get wet to some degree so water-proof outerwear is a good idea.  Most larger boats are fairly dry, but even the largest boats get spray on windy or rough days. You may get cold (on winter days).  Layered clothing is a good idea. When the weather is warm, 90% of the time shorts and t-shirts are fine.  A light windbreaker is a good idea anytime. Hats are probably the most commonly lost item overboard, if you wear one, wear it tight or with a lanyard.  Most crew bring extra gear in a very small duffel bag.
  • Time.  The races last anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours.  Its a good idea to show up at least 30 minutes before the race begins, sooner if you are new to the boat.  During Standard Time, the races begin at 5:30pm, most boats will leave the dock at 5:15, so it's a good idea to show up at 5pm.  During Daylight Savings Time, the races start at 6pm, boats leave their docks at 5:45, so show up no later than 5:30.
  • Crew  There are no rules or fees for crewing on a sailboat.  Many of the boats need more crew than they have and any level of experience is welcome.  The need for crew varys with the size of the boat, but in general, the windier the day, the more crew the boat will need. Just about every skipper wants extra crew on windy days.   Larger boats can take more crew than smaller boats.  There are strict crew limits depending on the size of the boat, and the skipper will let you know when there are enough.
  • Weather  The weather conditions can vary widely.  If the wind speed climbs up around 20 mph, most boats will not go out.  A couple of good indicators are if the waves breaking on the breakwater splash over the rocks to the other side,  or if there are whitecapped waves within the breakwater, it may be too windy.  Temperature is less of a factor.  For that reason, we typically race year round, although there are fewer boats participating in the winter.
  • What do I do.   What to expect? First and foremost, enjoy yourself.  The skipper will arrange people on the boat but novices should expect to sit at the rail on the high side, legs and feet overboard and body inside the lifelines. When the skipper announces a course change ("tack" or "jibe"), be prepared to move quickly and carefully to the other side of the boat.  Agility is a plus, but always, always hold onto the boat.  Always keep your head down when the boat is changing course - know where the boom is!   Don't be alarmed about the angle of the boat, it is normal for the boat to heel over.  Racing is quite different from pleasure sailing, it is fast paced and there is typically a lot of activity onboard.  Racing is also terrific fun.
  • Drinks.  Most skippers keep sodas, water, and some keep beer onboard for guests and crew. However, it's a nice courtesy to bring your own.  Some skippers don't allow alcohol, some do.  If you drink alcohol, don't overdo and become a nuisance or a safety hazard.
  • Restroom Facilities may or may not be available. See if the boat has a "head" before you start.  Marine toilets don't flush like regular toilets, they are operated with a little pump handle and a valve lever.  Open the valve and pump the handle to bring in flush water, and then close the valve and pump the handle to pump the bowl dry, thats it!  There usually are instructions posted somewhere near the toilet, but don't be shy about asking for help. It's also a good idea to wait until the boat is heading downwind, because the boat rides more stable, and you'll find it easier to conduct your business.  If there's no toilet and you have to "go", believe it or not, most men and even some women "go" over the side, usually at the very back of the boat. If you're shy about that, go before the boat leaves the dock and pace your drinking.
  • Will I get seasick?  People seldom get seasick sailing in the bay.  Bay conditions are usually choppy with somewhat disorganized waves, which is quite different from the regular ocean swells that more commonly make people sick.  Also, sailboats are much more stable than motorboats, so there is less rocking motion.  Smaller boats move about in the waves more than the larger and more stable boats, so if you're prone to seasickness, larger boats are better.   If you feel yourself getting queazy, look off to the horizon, and never go down inside the boat.  Other good suggestions are to keep your stomach dry (drink less liquids, eat dry crackers), and inhale thru your mouth and exhale thru your nose.
  • Where do we go?  The course is different each week and is decided by the race committee. The races are usually about 8 miles long and go out into the bay about 4 miles.