Docking News

Pacific Yachting & Sailing graduates continue to prove that they are quite proficient at docking in our berthing area. We’ve observed our graduates are really skillful at resolving those conflict- resolution, docking issues.

Thank-you for actually following all of those Pacific Yachting & Sailing Instructors, philosophies. “Slow is good, slower is better.” If there’s an uncomfortably tight docking situation that you find yourself involved in, relax, – put the boat in neutral, take a deep breath, ask your crew to stand by with a fender or boat hook to gently fend off; at this point you should only be drifting so no damage could possibly happen.

Access the situation. Ideally, if you’re backing up, going stern to the eye of the wind is ideal. If the wind continues to push you beam to other boats, just leave the helm and have everyone maneuver the boat around so that the bow or stern is facing into the wind. If you are already beam to touching the leeward boats, you’ll just get blown back down on them if you try to do it with the motor.    Continue reading

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Securing Boats

Most of our charterers are doing a great job of properly securing the boats at the end of the sail.  This becomes even more important during the fall and winter months when the harbor can experience strong surge due to storms offshore. The surge really moves the boats around in their slips and puts added loads on dock lines and increases chafe on both lines and boat cleats. So, here’s a refresher on how to properly secure the vessel after your sail.

Cleat Hitch

There are two sets of lines used to secure the boat to the dock-“bow” and “stern” lines, which secure the bow and stern, respectively, keeping the boat parallel to the dock; and, “spring” lines which keep the boat from moving forward and aft in the slip. Both sets of lines need to be properly rigged to secure the boat.

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Reefing Is Not a City in China

On numerous occasions our Pacific Yachting charter customers & students say: “Do you think the wind is even going to come up?”
The answer is yes! If it looks dead out there, please realize that Mother Nature is just taking a breather first thing in the morning. That gives you time to pull the mainsail up at the dock and put a single or double reef in. Practice this with your crew. It sometimes takes a bit of adjusting to get the new tack and clew right.

The most common mistake I see people doing is:
1. The main sheet is not released enough.
2. The main halyard is not released enough. Look at the leech of the sail. If it looks tight, let the halyard down more.
3. The boom vang is cleated or pulled too tight.
4. Head in to the wind
5. If you can’t head into the wind at the dock, release the main sheet. Physically push the boom out as far as it will go. There shouldn’t be pressure on the main sail while pulling it up. Never force anything.
6. Please don’t tie up the reef cringles unless you absolutely leave them very, very loose. That’s those little holes that are aligned from the reef tack to the reef clew. The mistake people make is that they tie the cringles too tight. The tack and clew are meant to carry the pressure and load, not the cringles.

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Capitola Village

Capitola is one of our favorite destinations for a day sail or overnight. You can reserve a mooring by calling- 831-462-2208. If you are sailing in, you can call the Capitola Wharf on your vhf on channel 11. They have a shuttle boat that will take you ashore. Capitola is a picture perfect village in a protected cove that has a wonderful ambiance to it. There are some excellent restaurants, a theater, and many shops that will especially please the non-sailor type crowd.

With our normal North West winds, Capitola is very protected. Thus, the temperature can be almost 5-10 degrees warmer than at the mile buoy. This serves as a great place for a lunch break.

Santa Cruz Wharf

Another good lunch anchorage is North of the Santa Cruz Harbor at the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. The Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf is only 15 minutes from the Santa Cruz harbor. There’s no shuttle boat at the wharf so you can’t go ashore. It’s great to anchor off of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk beach and watch the roller coaster and screaming children from a distance.
The opposite of the Santa Cruz Wharf – in front of West Cliff Drive is quieter and a bit more protected. With a good set of binoculars you can watch the pro surfers at Steamer Lane. If you’re brave enough, you can take a swim in the 54-59 degree Pacific Ocean. You get used to it after about 5 minutes. Or, you just get so numb you don’t feel the water temperature any more.

Note: You cannot berth any vessels up to either the Santa Cruz or Capitola Wharfs. At the Santa Cruz Wharf you have to anchor on either side and at the Capitola Wharf you can anchor on the NW side and pick up a Mooring on the SE side.

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Winter Ocean Swell

There are times when the harbor entrance can have plenty of depth from the continual winter dredging, though we still can get fairly large swells at the harbor entrance.

Dredge Process Diagram

First, there’s a live web cam showing the harbor entrance, 3 weather prediction sites, tides, and swell height prediction. Please do your homework before coming over to Santa Cruz to charter a boat. If it says that the swell will be exceedingly large at low tide around 4:00p.m. when you’d be returning from a charter, we most likely won’t let you charter that day. Check with the office staff or the Harbor Master’s Office for an update or, take a nice walk out to the end of the West jetty and see for yourself. We wouldn’t allow you to go sailing if it looks at all dangerous.      Continue reading

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Spring Lines

Just a reminder-when you secure the boat to the dock, please tie the spring lines around the base of the chain plates, not the stanchions. The stanchions are not meant to sustain the type of lateral loads imposed by the fore and aft movement of the boat. Typing spring lines to the stanchions will cause the base to work loose and water to seep into the deck core (that’s a bad thing). Oh, anybody know the proper knot to tie around the chain plate? (Answer: round turn and two half hitches).

Round turn and two half hitches.

Here’s a great resource for all knots…in animation!

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The Romance Of The Gulfstream In Winter, Marc Kraft

“To follow the road to Nirvana, it is analogous to climbing up many steep, narrow, and jagged mountain ridges while it’s storming. You wind back and forth and at times it may seem like you will never get to where you are heading, continually getting knocked down along the way. If, when following this road, it was sunny, flat, and perfectly straight, there would be no Nirvana to reach…”
A Vietnamese Buddhist Monk

Many years ago I took a break from college and my job with the intent to challenge the USCG Captain’s License. Having this license would permit me to take out passengers for hire on larger yachts. I had been instructing and skippering small boats as a youth.

Fortunately, I was offered a scholarship to Crawford Nautical in San Francisco to prepare me for the Coast Guard License. After many hours of committed studying, leading to taking the challenging exams, I passed. The Coast Guard License is also called a ticket, which can help get you a job worldwide.     Continue reading

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ASA Certification- Why Take the Exams

ASA is a nationally recognized sailing certification and accreditation program. These organizations, which include sailing schools, charter companies, sailing instructors and sailors, set competency standards for both sailing knowledge and on-the-water skills for sailors and instructors from basic to offshore sailing levels.

Certification simply means a person has demonstrated a standard of proficiency by passing both written and on-the-water skills tests (much like a drivers license). It provides a means for charter companies to assess a sailor’s ability. There are tests for various levels of sailing from Basic Keelboat to Offshore Passage making.   Continue reading

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What is Marine Debris?

Marine debris has been defined by NOAA as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes. In layman’s term marine debris is trash or litter that ends up in our rivers or oceans. It is found throughout the ocean; from coastal waters to the open ocean and from the ocean’s surface through the water column to the seafloor. 60-80% of all marine debris and 90% of all floating debris is made from plastic. The single most common marine debris item is cigarette filters or butts. Other common types of debris are food packaging, paper products, metal, glass and fireworks.
Where is all this garbage coming from?

It is estimated that 6.4 million tons of litter enter the world’s ocean each year. 80% of marine debris comes from land-based sources while only about 20% comes from ocean-based sources. The most common sources of marine debris are: People that litter, Municipal landfills, Transportation of garbage and debris, Open trash collection containers, Industrial facilities, and Beach visitors.
Today, Americans lead lives of excessive consumption characterized by convenience. In 1960 the average American created approximately 2.68 pounds of trash per day; by 2006 garbage generation had nearly doubled with individuals creating 4.6 pounds of trash each day. In 2006 only about 30% of our waste stream was recovered in any way (compost or recycling).

Plastics are the fastest growing portion of our municipal solid waste stream, comprising approximately 12% of municipal waste in 2006 (Only 6% of plastics were recycled in 2006!). The increase in trash generation by Americans is directly related to the increase in disposable plastic products. US plastic resin sales grew at an average of 5% a year from 1960 to 2000, from 6 billion pounds to 108 billion pounds a year. Plastics are the most prolific and dangerous type of marine debris.

For more information, check out

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Marine Debris: Oceans or Landfills?

There is an area in the North Pacific Ocean between California, Hawaii and Japan that is accumulating garbage at an alarming rate. This area, commonly known as the North Pacific Gyre, has been transformed into something that resembles a plastic soup. It is the result of our “disposable lifestyle” and it’s only getting worse. It is becoming clear that our “out of sight, out of mind” attitude towards garbage is threatening the future of our oceans.

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