Friday, August 18, 2017

AUGUST 15, 2017: GOT WIND?

AUGUST 15, 2017

Checking the Predict Wind web site through the day, it was apparent we were going to have wind. Approaching the harbor confirmed there was a strong northwesterly blowing and we changed down to our 135 jib in anticipation.  There was no hint of the wind dying or changing so we optimistically chose the longest course for this direction of wind W1: Start, Wharf, Mile, Blacks finish.  We gave a 5 minute horn at 5:55 for a 6 o’clock start.

Pair A Dice was a little early to the line and had to stall to not be OCS but eventually started on SB tack right at the Buoy.  In this position we had several boats slightly to windward  of us and had to stay on this tack until the other boats had tacked over. Meanwhile several boats had started on Port tack to take advantage of the smoother water inside.  Ultimately the inside boats prevailed and rounded Wharf first.  At wharf Sagitarius was first followed by Pacific Spirit, Perfect 36 and Pair A Dice. 
  It was an easy reach to Mile and as we rounded Mile we set the pole for the run to Blacks.  We were a stone’s throw from the stern of Perfect 36 but despite our best efforts (and wishes) we could not catch them and they rounded Blacks just ahead of us.

At the finish it was Sagitarius, Pacific Spirit, Perfect 36, Pair A Dice, Aila (Beneteau 32), Andiamo (good job Katie!), Aeolian, Kicks, Toad and Nidaris II.


It is common knowledge in racing circles to sail the longest tack first; sailing closer to the mark.  In Santa Cruz most boats will get on port tack as soon as possible trying to capitalize on the lift experienced on the approach to wharf mark after tacking toward it.  This port tack also has flatter seas, taking waves on the beam rather than on the bow.  Also, frequently there is a westerly flowing current that is stronger toward shore which helps also.  It takes some unusual circumstances to overcome these advantages.


Many people realize you should steer a boat in a straight line as much as possible when racing.  I originally thought this made sense simply because a straight line is a shorter distance.  This is true, but when you think of the foils that pull the boat forward over the course, anything that disturbs the flow of air and water over these foils will slow your progress.  The sails are one big foil and when going to weather, the flow of air on the outer edge of this foil pulls the boat forward.  The thought is that while going to weather for every pound of pressure pushing on the windward part of the sail there are 5 pounds of pressure on the leeward side pulling the boat along.  The same foil effect is working below the water line as the water flows around the foils under the water: Keel and Rudder.  If your steering is erratic, it only serves to destroy the smooth flow around these foils.  It is the undisturbed flow that is most efficient in propelling the boat forward.    Using the Race QS app on your cell phone and watching the results on a computer is a perfect way to tell how you are doing in your steering.


Next weekend is another regatta.  The first part of the regatta is on Saturday starting with the double end regatta.  Boats will start in both Santa Cruz and Monterey and sail around a buoy out in the middle of the bay then sail in to Moss Landing harbor.  After this race on Saturday, the first race of the fall Santa Cruz SCORE series will be the race from Monterey to Santa Cruz.  This should be a very fun regatta.  Check out specifics on under regattas.

See you next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice

Friday, August 11, 2017


AUGUST 8, 2017

There was a steady northwesterly showing on the flags as I approached the harbor, so it looked like a great night for sailing.  We sorted out the crew issues on Q dock and headed out.  Even at 5:45 there was still a lot of northwesterly breeze even as far in as the start buoy.  We chose course W3: start, wharf (to SB), Gov (to SB) and finish to port.  We gave a 5 minute horn for a 6pm start.

As frequently happens, conditions changed quite a bit in 5 minutes countdown to the start.  At the start, only Pacific Spirit was in the last vestiges of the northwesterly breeze right at the start mark.  They romped off into the horizon in the still strong northwesterly that refused to come to the start area. They were not seen (except in the very far distance) for the rest of the evening.  Any boat that was not right at the buoy at the moment of the start was left in a no-win(d) situation.  All of us were struggling to make headway with the dead northwesterly and the easterly very gently trying to fill.  I was not timing it but most boats did not pass the start line until 10 minutes after the start time.  This had to be the slowest building easterly I have witnessed.  Even as it was trying to fill, it came in very small patches of wind that would propel one boat for a bit then another boat then move on to another boat.  It was amazing to me how close all of the boats were to each other as we rounded Wharf mark.  Sea Quake rounded just ahead of Pair A Dice and the whole fleet seemed to be right on our heels as we sailed toward Gov.

On the way to Gov, It felt delicious to sail to weather again as the wind steadily increased.  Pair a Dice was second to Pacific Spirit (by over an hour) in rounding Gov.  Passing Gov, we continued to sail further inside for the better wind on the beach.  We tacked our way along the beach and headed out to the finish mark.  It seems half of the boats tried to sail outside and the other half sailed inside like we did.  At the finish, Pair a Dice was second (after Pacific Spirit) followed by Sea Quake, Guenther (on his Finn), Nidaris II, Rosa Nautica, Kicks, Aila (Beneteau 32), Tara, A Tartan, Toad, Aeolian and a Ranger 33. What started as a miserable start ended to be an awesome finish with most boats finishing the entire course.


It is still not too late to register for the Brig Brothers Big Sisters regatta this Sunday August 13.  You can even register at the event in the boat yard at the yacht club.  I would show up no later than 10 am if you plan to register late.  This is a great event and a great party after the event.
The fall Score series will start on Sunday August 27.  Be sure to register and compete in this fun series also.  You can register for this series on line at under regattas.
See you out there next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice

Friday, August 4, 2017


AUGUST 1, 2017


As I approached the harbor it was apparent that there was a lot of wind with the flag on the Crow’s nest showing a strong northwesterly.  Anticipating the wind would die down, we kept the 155 jib and headed out of the harbor.  I could not believe the number of boats out and the number of boats still coming out of the harbor. Ultimately there were close to 20 boats out for the fun. There was a thick fog bank undulating back and forth between engulfing the whole fleet and leaving the bay with clear visibility.  With the strong wind coming from the northwest, we called the course W3: start, Wharf mark, Blacks, finish and gave a 5 minute horn.

On Pair a Dice, we wanted to do a port tack start, but thought it too risky with so many boats out.  As it turned out, we had a clear line and were able to start on port, only having to duck a couple of boats which were on starboard tack. There were several boats that started on port tack with us.  The march was on to Wharf mark and one by one the port tack boats tacked over to outside.  It sure felt great to be in some wind again! At Wharf it was Homer on Equinimity and Perfect 36 first around first with Pair A Dice following. 

On the long sail to Blacks, the fog came back in to obscure many of the boats.  We saw many “fog-bows” which were shafts of light shining through the fog giving a surrealistic effect.  Equinimity and Perfect 36 took a line further outside while we followed our GPS and attempted to rhumb line it to the mark. 

At Blacks, Equinimity was just ahead of us with Perfect 36 right behind us.  As soon as Equinimity rounded, they headed straight back out for more wind.  We decided to sail a little further along the shore to avoid sailing in disturbed air.  As it turned out, we sailed in to a hole of no wind and took forever to sail out of it with the waves on our bow.  Equinimity had read it right and finished 15-20 minutes before the rest of the boats. As Homer said later, over dinner, “sail for the fog line for the wind!”  Most of the boats got stuck in the transition zone at blacks as we patiently waited for the easterly to fill in to finish the race.  Understandably, food at the Crow’s nest sounded like a better idea than bobbing in a transition zone and many of the boats motored in to the harbor.  Honorable mention goes to those that finished!  After Equinimity, Odonata and Toad followed with Pair a Dice, a Ranger 33, a Tartan and Kicks sticking to it to the end.

We had an awesome evening with great wind, BUT the transition zone got us toward the end.


We have several boats that are venturing out for our Tuesday evening “Cattle Drive”.  I want to extend a hearty welcome to all of you! Please keep in mind that racing sailboats is a learning process.  Be assured that every boat you see leading the pack started racing by coming in dead last.  As you learn more, you will start working your way up through the fleet. Just be observant of what works and what does not work and keep learning!


Sailing in very light wind is one of the most challenging things we do.  In transition zones, like we had at Blacks, I find it useful to close your eyes and feel the wind on your face.  Of course the wind will fill differently at different levels, so you need to also look at the windex on the top of the mast.  Always remember that any wind (going to weather) SUCKS the boat along.  It does not PUSH the boat.  This means the sails must often be relaxed a little to get air flowing around the front of the sail!  You watch your tell tales on the sails to gauge how successful you are in doing this.
Looking forward to next Tuesday!

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice

Friday, July 28, 2017


JULY 25, 2017

It was shaping up to be a stellar evening on the Monterey Bay.  We had a low cloud cover hovering over the beach which meant there would be no Easterly wind tonight.  Under the cloud cover the air was so clear, it seemed you could reach out and touch Monterey.   To add to the excitement, there was talk of whales breeching practically right on the beach.  The wind was less than stellar at about 8 knots from the northwest, but if they can fly Americas cup boats in 8 knots, we can at least race in it! 
As we left the harbor, there were about 15 boats out once again and the boats outside were chattering about whales being out there.  On Pair A Dice, we could see some of their backs coming out of the water in the distance. 

  With the wind blowing from 240, we decided on course W5: Start, Wharf, Finish.  We gave a five minute horn.  On Pair A Dice, we thought we saw more wind inside and wanted to start on Port tack, which we did without having to duck too many boats. Most of the boats headed outside for the customary  wind outside.   Pair A Dice was sailing more directly to the mark and with the waves on our beam rather than our bow, we thought we were making progress on the boats sailing outside.  Our goal was to make it inside the point so when we tacked out there would be less wave action on our bow to slow us down.  As the wind started to decrease and with 30 degree shifts in wind direction, we finally tacked out into the bucking seas.  As we crossed the outside boats, Guenther on his Finn,The Perfect 36, Pacific Spirit and Kicks crossed in front of us so our lead was not what we thought it was.

At the rounding of Wharf mark, it was Guenther, Perfect 36, Pacific Spirit and Pair a Dice.  There was talk of shortening course, but I thought we had enough wind to finish the race.  Alas, the lure of the barbecue enticed all of us to retire before finishing.  All except Guenther who was the only boat to finish the whole race.

We have come a long way in our Catalina fleet.  Years ago, we had 3 or 4 boats coming out every Tuesday night for an impromptu race.  We would agree on a course and sail it.  It was easy to communicate between 4 boats.  Now we customarily have 15 boats out with varying degrees of skill in sailing and racing.  In order to be consistent, considering the crowd we have, I feel it is important to stick with the course cards. Communicating a mark rounding or delineating finer elements of an extemporaneous course gets very tedious with 15 boats out.  Using a course on the course cards has all of the information right there (or on the back). The start line, how to round the mark and all other elements are right there on the course card.  I admit, in retrospect, the course on this night should have been shortened to just rounding wharf mark, especially with it being a barbecue night.
Despite this consideration, I do not want to be dogmatic.  I have offered it before and the offer still stands if someone wants to call a race you can call it and run the whole race (give the 5 minute horn, answer all questions about the race during the race etc).


We have some new boats out for our friendly sails.  I want to make sure everyone has the course cards I keep referring to.  These course cards give all of the courses we use on the front of the card and the general sailing instructions on the back of the card.  Also on the back of the card are the location and description of all of the start lines and marks used.  I am on Q dock every Tueday evening.  Stop by and get one if you need it.

Looking forward to next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice

Sunday, July 23, 2017


July 18, 2017
 I was in Vegas this Tuesday night pondering another pair a dice while celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary. Stefan and my crew were kind enough to provide a report from which I will attempt to write a blog. I apologize for the tardiness of this blog.
The wind was a light Easterly about 7 knots so the course B5 was chosen.  It looks like there were 13 boats out again for the fun.  In light conditions like this, how you deal with waves becomes a critical factor in performance.  Perfect sail trim and clean bottoms also become essential when sailing in light winds.  At the leeward mark six boats converged at the same time in orderly fashion. Pair A Dice  sailed wide of the mass of boats at the leeward mark and was able to get clear air.  At the finish  Perfect 36 was first, followed by Guenther on his Finn, Pair A Dice, Nidaros 2, Rosa Nautica, Kicks, Toad, Dreamer, Tara, Freya, Aeolian, Odonata and Rosie. It is good to have so many new participants!

I know that with the new start lines we are using this year, there may be some confusion.  Vern Wallace was kind enough to take some pictures of each of the start lines to help clear up this perplexity.  The first picture is the start line for Blacks point.  From this picture, you can see that if you set a range using the left end of blacks point and the tip of the gable (marked with orange line) on the house directly behind, you can tell whether you are over the line too soon.  In any case the compass bearing is about 352 degrees magnetic from the mark to the left end of Blacks Point (which is white from bird droppings).

The second picture shows the “S” or the white house at the end of Schwan lagoon.  Using the 
 left of that white house, you can set a range with the slight v (orange arrow) in the large mushroom-shaped tree tops behind the corner of the house. The range should be close to 330 degrees magnetic.

The last line is our old standby we have always used and should be about 310 degrees magnetic from the mark.

Please try to observe these start lines so we can all have a fair start, and thanks to Vern and Judy for providing these pictures.


I know the normal way of handicapping in sailing is to use PHRF.  I firmly believe nobody wants to try to incorporate PHRF in our events on Tuesday and I have no intention of doing this.  I do believe that the smaller displacement hulled boats have a distinct disadvantage and believe we should give them a head start so they at least have a chance.  It gets complicated because our courses all have different lengths and the head start should be greater for longer races.  Each course card has the length of each race. For any heavier displacement hull boat 27 feet and under, lets give a 2 minute head start for any course up to 2 miles in length and a 3 minute head start for any course between 2 and 3 miles and a 4 minute head start for any course over 3 miles.  The “heavier displacement” means any SC27 that care to participate will not get a head start. For your head start, follow the chart below.  This is simplistic, but I know in the heat of the race, nobody wants to do even simple math.

5 Minute horn blows: Two minute head start means you start 3 minutes after the horn.
                                        Three minute head start means you start 2 minutes after the horn.
                                         Four minute heads tart means you start 1 minute after the horn.

I will call over channel 69 the head start indicated and will attempt to give adequate warning of when the 5 minute horn will blow.


I am looking forward to Tuesday.

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice 

Friday, July 14, 2017


July 11, 2017

Last week we did not sail because of the fourth of July being a family holiday, there was no interest.  Two weeks ago we sailed a marginal race with no wind on the inside and plenty of wind further out beyond Mile buoy.  Pair a Dice had attempted a track inside and fought our way through the transition zone between a northwest and an east wind painstakingly inching along until the call of the barbecue seemed more enticing than sailing and most of the boats retired early with us.

On this night it seemed like plenty of wind even in to the start mark until it came time to call the race.  We called for course W5 and gave a 5 minute horn.  As the clocked ticked to the start, the wind seemed to be dying even more and we finally canceled the race.  It seemed none of the boats were in position.  In exasperation Homer announced over the radio “let’s just go for a sail!”  With plenty of wind outside and nothing inside, it sounded pretty good to me.  We all motored out into the wind and had a wonderful sail.  The last thing I wanted to do was to limp along inside in no wind like two weeks ago.  My thoughts were “déjà vu, NOT AGAIN”
Kudos to Mark on Kicks for organizing a race starting at mile buoy and it seems about 6 boats took part.  All I know is the northwesterly was blowing nicely and the transition to the Easterly was not bad at all.  We had up to 16 knots of easterly breeze and it felt delicious to be sailing again.


It is not too late to register for the Monterey and back regatta this weekend.  Race down to Monterey on Saturday.  Party at the club down there and race back on Sunday.  I have done this race several times and it is very fun.  It can be done with minimal crew since it is a 24 mile drag race.  There are virtually no tactics and buoy roundings.

Also keep in mind the Fall SCORE series put on by the yacht club.  It would be great to have more Jib and Main boats join in this series of races.  Get the details on line under regattas.

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice

Friday, June 30, 2017


JUNE 27, 2017

There was a definite hint of a new Easterly building as I approached the harbor.  The flag on the Crows Nest confirmed this.  I could also see plenty of white caps outside.  Since we always seem to gravitate to the inside easterly I changed out to my 155 Jib.  We left the harbor for the new (later) 6:15 start.  In the start area we had about 14 boats milling around in the northwesterly that was still blowing pretty well  clear in to the start mark.  After much discussion, we decided on the course W5: Start, Wharf, finish at the start mark. We gave a five minute horn for the 6:15 start.

As could almost be predicted, as the countdown proceeded, the wind continued to die and by the time of the start, the only wind left was a very light northwest breeze that barely made it to the start mark.  Anyone down the line from the buoy was enviously watching the boats up the line take the wind and sail straight out into the more wind outside.  Pair A Dice tried to play the northwest puffs and the easterly puffs to rhumb line it to wharf mark, along with another score of boats trying the same.  Alas the thoughts of a barbecue got the better of most of us and we retired from the race one by one.

But wait!  The boats that sailed clear outside were romping along and really sailing.  We thought they had disappeared over the horizon in search of more wind, but now they were sailing back in and actually making wharf mark!  Later they said they actually saw twenty knots of wind outside. Kind of like zero wind closer to shore, twenty knots three miles out.  ZERO TO TWENTY IN THREE!

Congratulations to Kicks for persevering and actually finishing the race!


I find it useful to never venture far from the start line when there is light wind or a dying breeze. Also, it is best to use whatever legal means you can to propel the boat.  Usually this means approaching the start using the power of the waves, rather than bucking into the waves.  This seemed to work well for the boats that stayed outside of the start mark for the start.


It was unanimously decided to NOT have a Catalina Tuesday event this next Tuesday since it is the fourth of July and there are many family and other event going on.

We have several events coming up on the calendar.  First is the O’Neill paddle-out on July 9.  This will be over on East Cliff in front of Jacks house right on 38th avenue.  The Ernie Rideout and O’Neill catamarans will be anchored outside of the circle of surfers paddling out in Jacks honor.  Jack was a long time member of the Santa Cruz Yacht Club and many members will be sailing their boats in a procession outside of the three anchored boats. Feel free to join this procession.  The time of the paddle-out will be 11am.

On July 14 and 15, there is a Santa Cruz to Monterey and back regatta.  I have participated in this regatta several times and it is a very fun event.  It would be awesome to see some more of the Catalina crew take part in this regatta.  The Monterey Yacht club opens its doors for us and the social aspects are awesome.  Monterey also has many great restaurants and bars to socialize in.  check out the NOR and SI’s on the website.

Last but not least, we had a great turnout for the spring score series.  There were some very fun days of sailing and we had 4 Catalinas entered in the series.  Now the fall score series is coming up.  It is always good to implement what you have learned on Tuesday nights in a real race.  Check out the NOR and SI’s on the SCYC.ORG  web site. Rock on Jib and Mainers!

Looking forward to the next Catalina Tuesday on JULY 11.

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice