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Out and About: Encinal’s Jack Frost Series

If you’re like me, you may have wondered what sailboat racing on the San Francisco Bay is like.

Well, after getting a spot on a boat, I participated in the first of this season’s Jack Frost Series of sailboat races– hosted by Alameda’s Encinal Yacht Club this Saturday. It turned out to be quite an action-packed experience.

The races start about half a mile west of the end of the Berkeley Pier. They are short-course races that last about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the conditions of the waves, water, wind, weather and crew. During the races, groups of about 10-12 boats take several laps around a series of markers.

Members of the Encinal Yacht Club staff the race committee boat, and they have to signal the start of each race, track the boats around the marks and monitor the finish.  The boats are grouped in fleets by boat model, which generally means that boats of similar lengths and types race against each other.   

I was in the D group, or the fourth group, of boats to sail.

You learn a lot about sailing tactics, maneuvers and sportsmanship through racing. You also get a understanding of yourself, why you like to be out on the water and what you are able — and less able to do — when working as a team member focused on moving a boat as quickly as possible around a course.

And you gain a lot of respect for the efforts of groups like Encincal Yacht Club and what it takes to put on a race, namely lots of planning and other logistical work. In addition, you better appreciate the bay for the crazy mix of micro-climates and conditions that it has to offer sailors.

Finally, you wonder if you’ve pushed yourself enough during such an experience, and when — with your freshly bruised limbs (and/or ego) – you might be up for another nautical competition.

For those who are interested, future races in Encinal’ s Jack Frost Series are scheduled for next year on January 23, February 27 and March 27.

Note: Photo courtesy of http://www.norcalsailing.com 2009.

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Boat Movement Restricted Due to Bay Oil Spill; News of Sunken Sailboat during Baja Ha-Ha

This week has been as colorful for the Bay as the sunset picture taken at Crown Memorial Beach in Alameda today at 6:48 p.m.

The birds were feeding nicely, and no oil had appeared, fortunately.

Exactly 12 hours earlier, the U.S. Coast Guard got news that the tanker Dubai Star had suffered a rupture in a fuel lines and released an unknown amount of fuel into San Francisco Bay about 2.5 miles south of the Bay Bridge.

Some 11,000 feet of boom was deployed to contain the spill more than three hours later. And the Coast Guard says that the no more fuel is leaking into the Bay.

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) activated the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to conduct wildlife search and reconnaissance operations. So far, there have been no reports of oiled wildlife, and volunteers have not been called into action yet.

Alameda residents active in the Bay Farm Nature Connection plan to volunteer as the need arises.

The public is asked to not attempt to rescue oiled wildlife, the Coast Guard says, as this may cause injury to both the individual and the animal. Instead the public should report sightings of oiled wildlife to 1-877-823-6926.

However, according to the Coast Guard, “Oil trajectory models predict potential shoreline impacts tonight starting this evening at North Alameda Island, Bay Farm Island, Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island.”

Also, the Coast Guard is limiting the movement of boats in the Oakland Estuary, the Oakland Bar Channel and within the spill area.

We will continue to monitor this situation.

And in news about 700 miles south of the Bay, a boat owned by the J/World Sailing School is reported to have sunk after leaving San Diego and encountering a pod of whales.

J/World, which has facilities in Marina Village, participated in this year’s Baja Ha-Ha rally. The annual event includes about 200 sailboats this year – many from Alameda — traveling from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas from October 26-November 6.

On Tuesday, the San Diego Union Tribune reported that five people in a life raft had been rescued. And the sailing monthly Latitude 38 , which organizes the Baja Ha-Ha, says skipper Eugenie Russell and four crew members may have had only five minutes to get into the raft.

J/World opened its office in Alameda in 2002.