Nathan's Sailing Blog/Notes


Sailing and related topics, SF Bay and beyond.



Nathan Bossett is a San Francisco area racer and now cruiser on a variety of boats.

This blog will evolve in form over time. It's intended to preserve a blog format while keeping subjects/tags intact for sort/search. For now, the minimalist cms bloxsom is an excellent fit.

  • CSS instead of tables
  • links by month
  • cleaner spacing on pics/text

Sun, 22 Dec 2013
Echappee's Merry Christmas - Gifted Spinnaker
echappee amel maramu mizzen spinnaker

Elise/Nat's Christmas present to Echappee: A mizzen spinnaker (in Elise's size).

It turns out that Echappee's mizzen mast isn't all that much taller than Elise's (Express 27). So, Echappee now has a spinnaker for that mast too. Thanks, Elise/Nat!

It looks short on the hoist but it's being flown from the deck. Getting set up with proper spinnaker poles might be an exercise in geometry given the main backstay and boom complicating the space to fly and gybe a spinnaker.

Next up, adding some halyard winches so I can hoist main, mizzen, and two spinnakers at the same time.

nathalie criou mizzen spinnaker
Sun, 15 Dec 2013
"Third Half Opener" - Singlehanded Gatecrasher by Elise, Red Sky, and Echappee
Nathalie Criou on Elise the Express 27 Brian Boschma on Red Sky the Olson 34 Serge Zavarin removing Christmas lights from Echappee the Amel 
Maramu Seal outside the golden gate Pt. Bonita Lighthouse

We'd intended to have a small singlehanded race to the Lightship and back as both a first race for Echappee and as a chance for Serge to host an event. The schedule fell apart as they sometimes do- maybe next time! Instead we would up with an informal "third half opener" to the northern approach buoy and back: Elise (Express 27), Red Sky (Olson 34), and Echappee (Amel Maramu).

Serge came along on Echappee anyway, with a first task of getting Echappee out of Christmas Party mode from the night before and into racing trim. Christmas lights using up all of your halyards and tying the sail covers down seems to hurt performance.

We met on the center of the bay near Alcatraz for a trip out the gate and back: how far to be determined by when we felt like we wanted to get back. The wind more or less cooperated: light at times but up to 14 or so kts at times.

Particularly in the light stuff Elise and Red Sky had an advantage. Maybe I should put the dinghy and two out of three anchors and ground tackle ashore next time. The cooking equipment and food stores are staying, though. Sailing effectively couldn't hurt either.

My first guess at which track to run the jib cars from was totally wrong: the aft track was right for these conditions but I'm wondering if I would wish the track extended a bit further forward in deeper reaching conditions. That's also a function of the exact jib size and clew height; I'll test some different settings. Overtrimming was not helping either; for quite a while on the way back in I had everything snugged in a little too far.

Elise and Red Sky were looking practiced. Red Sky's autopilot seems to be doing a good job of letting Brian take a break from driving to adjust sail trim as required even in the slightly light and puffy conditions with strong current that we were experiencing. I guess that's what happens when you get to design your own autopilot. From prior experience, it also steers Elise well downwind with a spinnaker.

Elise had all sorts of new gear and rigging arrangements to try out: a fine tuner addition to the mainsheet, a line which runs all the way around the front of the boat and back to control the rudder, etc.

Pictures without Serge in them courtesy of Serge Zavarin at Ultimate Yachtshots.

Sat, 07 Dec 2013
OYC/EYC Lighted Boat Parade 2013 on Echappee
echappee amel maramu lighted yacht parade 2013
Echappee herself (by Fred Fago)
echappee crew lighted yacht parade
lighted yacht parade police car
lighted yacht parade blue lights
trawler santa lighted yacht parade

Every year Oakland Yacht Club and Encinal Yacht Club jointly host a lighted boat parade. From the shore side, viewers are clustered at a few Jack London Square restaurants, the ex-presidental (FDR) steam yacht Potomac, the Pasta Pelican, and of course OYC and EYC.

Breakout crew and friends/family formed the group which took Echappee out, Echappee having the joint advantages of a large inverter and berth location very near the parade. The weather was cold but everyone bundled up and we had hot coffee and a heater below.

Our decorations were impulsive. Some of the other boats had prepared very elaborately: police car including soundtrack, Santa scenes, whimsical lighted creations, and even Santa and 8 reindeer rowing an open boat.

Afterward, we headed out to the Golden Gate, examining the city lights and showing off our own decorations to waterfront tourists.

The full size versions of these lighted boat parade pictures taken by me are available in the usual spot. Fred Fago's parade pictures are the official event ones.

nested lights christmas lighted yacht parade
Fri, 29 Nov 2013
Checking out Hot Socks, Figaro 2
Out putting Hot Socks, Beneteau Figaro 2, through her paces

Hot Socks is a Beneteau Figaro 2 out of South Beach Harbor. The owner, Crispin, has signed up for Pacific Cup in 2014 and a few of us took her out the gate to check out (inlcuding Brian, her Pac Cup safety inspector).

I've never been on one before and was quite impressed. The double rudders give a very neutral helm at reasonable heel angles and she powers up nicely in the modest wind we had to work with. She's got swept spreaders and no running backs or checkstays. This particular boat used to belong to Katie Miller out of Great Britain.

We'd originally intended to head out to the Farallons but lack of wind made us rethink that as we didn't see more than 5-10 along the coast north of Pt. Bonita. We also never set the kite, but she's still fun with main and #3. The water ballast would really be a help shorthanded upwind.

Wed, 27 Nov 2013
Thanksgiving-Eve Tour of San Francisco Bay
daniel bossett henry bossett echappee
evan bossett mom daniel bossett amy bossett
golden gate bridge sunset
san francisco bay bridge at night

Much of my family was kind enough to come out for a Thanksgiving visit. In addition to yacht club turkey and fixings, we had some good weather and did a tour of the bay on Echappee the afternoon and evening before Thanksgiving. The bay was fairly empty except for a bit of commercial traffic; we had calm and clear weather.

We spanned sunset on a round trip from Alameda just outside the Golden Gate Bridge and Back, stopping for all of the usual tourist spots such as the bridge view itself and the sea lions and tourists at Pier 37. Serge made us lattes halfway through.

Great week and chance to show everyone the new house.

(Pics from my father, Henry Bossett, except for the one he's in)

oakland container terminal echappee
mom daniel bossett echappee san francisco at night from the water
Fri, 15 Nov 2013
Amel Maramu Offshore Racing/Safety

Amel Maramus are extremely well-built boats for offshore use. In fitting Echappee for offshore competition, here are some notes on rules and compliance

Singlehanded Transpac (SHTP) 2014 safety rules

Some of the safety regs aren't really checklist items (such as being "...properly rigged and ballasted, be fully seaworthy...". I also omit the simple equipment checklist items (wooden plugs next to through-hulls, etc.).

RuleTopicRequirementAmel Maramu Notes
4.07.1Lifeline materialUncoated stainless ro dyneemaCruisers often use coated, not allowed
4.07.2Max stanchion spacing87"Varies between around 44" and 54" with the max spacing around the place where the stanchions have shrouds in between them. Easily legal.
4.07.4Lifelines, boats over 43' longTop lifeline >=24" above deck, max vertical gap 15" and minimum diameter 3/16" Top is stainless tube, about 26" above deck level.Vertical gaps of about 11 1/4". Structure dimensions easily legal, inspect wire diameter to make sure 3/16" or better.
4.08Foredeck toerail heightAt least 3/4" Maramus have about 3" toerails all the way around, easy pass.
4.22Storm coverings for large windowshave for any window above 2 ft^2 area?
4.24Water tanks
Sun, 03 Nov 2013
IYC Jack and Jill Plus One Regatta 2013
Lucie and Ben Mewes on Georgia
Faster Faster! and Nice Turn

Full size pictures from Georgia of the IYC Jack and Jill Plus One Race 2013 are at the usual place.

Once a year, Island Yacht Club holds a regatta with the requirement of a female skipper, a male crew, and another crew of optional gender. It's a good-natured race up and down the Alameda estuary.

Ben and Lucie Mewes, about to take their Van de Stadt 41 to Mexico, offered me the third slot. I was walking wounded, having very little use of my right hand after a really bad ropeburn from the previous day. So, tactics and main trimming it was.

We sailed non-spinnaker division but did pole the jib out for a while. Georgia is a hard-chine wooden racer and she performs surprisingly well upwind even when loaded down for cruising. We were the scratch boat (fastest in the group, owing in the neighborhood of 100 seconds per mile to the rest).

Our start was excellent with good position and great speed off the line, coming in at the pin end on starboard tack. We then had clear air and set about trying to earn our handicap against the others, with David Ross's Merit 25 Faster Faster!, skippered by Kathy Williamson, close behind.

The wind was light to medium with port tack being the long one each hop back and forth: starboard tack was essentially across the estuary rather than down it so we'd move toward the mark on port and than tack over to starboard when the Oakland shore was too close.

We were quick but not quick enough to get the 4 minute lead we would have needed to stop Faster Faster! from correcting out in front of us. First over the line and second corrected, not bad for Lucie and Ben's house.

Sat, 02 Nov 2013
Echappee Gets a Spinnaker Inventory
Nathan Bossett and Brian Boschma test-flying a spinnaker on Echappee the Amel Maramu

It's not entirely usual for Maramus to fly spinnakers but Echappee needs a few in order to get into racing and slightly higher performance cruising. She didn't come with any but not having them just didn't feel right to a racer.

Enter Ben and Lucie Mewes, who are about to exit stage left towards Mexico and had some surplus inventory to unload. Brian was kind enough to hop aboard and go play in the South Bay.

The asymmetrical seems to fit quite well even though the mast height of the original boat was a bit taller (pictured). The proportions in the picture look a bit odd because standing on the stern of a ketch to take a picture leaves you further aft relative to the dimensions of the spinnaker than you'd be able to get on a sloop. The 1.5 symmetrical seemed ok from the half hoist we got out of it before shrimping. Oops.

Offer made and accepted, Echappee now has three kites!

Mon, 28 Oct 2013
RYC Great Pumpkin 2013 on Marishanna, 28 Oct 2013
hendrik bruhns, maggie freeman, marishanna wylie 39
john freeman marishanna
sapphire synergy 1000
serge zavarin marishanna
surprise schumacher
john freeman, nathan bossett, marishanna

Full size versions of the Great Pumpkin 2013 Pictures from Marishanna are available in the usual place.

The Great Pumpkin is an annual pursuit race run by the Richmond Yacht Club. The slowest boats start first and the fastest last; theoretically everyone should finish at the same time. The fly in the ointment is that the race typically features building wind, which means that the boats starting later (the faster ones) also experience more favorable wind conditions.

The big decision during the race is whether to do the race clockwise or counterclockwise: you need to go around Angel Island and Alcatraz but you get to pick which order. We did it counterclockwise, as did the winner (Colin Moore on the Wabbit Kwazy). Some other folks who did extremely well went clockwise, such as the Cal 20 Can O' Whoopass.

The wind direction was slightly unusual, so we had one upwind leg followed by two reaches which were slightly too hot to carry a spinnaker on from Angel to Alcatraz and then from Alcatraz to Pt. Richmond. This year, RYC ran a very short upwind leg to finish.

We were a bit shorthanded and Marishanna's sails are a little tired (holes in the main) so we lost ground on the upwind versus folks like the Express 37's who share our rating. Off the wind was fun and easy sailing. While we didn't do well, for the fleet in general it was probably one of the fastest Great Pumpkins ever- we were finished by 1430 or so and the fleet was relatively tight.

We were buried in the standings. Colin Moore on the Wylie Wabbit Kwazy won by a few minutes with a variety of boat types closely following ranging from Open 5.70's to a Cal 20 and others.

Sun, 27 Oct 2013
Elise - Richmond Yacht Club Great Pumpkin 2013 (Saturday)
Nathalie Criou and upwind Express 27's
Mike Sowa, bowman

The full size versions of these Great Pumpkin Pictures are at the usual place (only 3, we were busy!).

The annual Great Pumpkin Regatta is divided into two events: Saturday is a series of buoy races and Sunday is a pursuit event.

This year, we sailed Elise with 4 people: Nat, Mark, Mike, and I. The three races built from light #1 conditions to low end #3 conditions.

Our performance improved as we went but unfortunately we had a lot of difficulty getting our act together in the light stuff. 3 races, 17 Express 27's. Finishes of 17, 7.5, and 13, which is notable at least- I can't recall being scored as a tie in a single race before. That got us a 12 overall- congrats to Wile E Coyote, Peaches and Magic Bus in 1st through 3rd for the day.

We had trouble with our tacks in the first and second races. Once we found a groove, we pointed well (average, not with the best in the fleet) and had good speed (including pacing well even against the folks like Wile E Coyote when they hadn't yet moved up the course). Our spinnaker maneuvers were a bit slow and complicated, particularly the douses.

Mike did his first round-the-buoys event as bowman. As a special challenge, we were shorthanded and had forgotten the spinnaker pole sleeve (which really complicates stowing the pole away and clearing for a gybe/tack at the leeward mark).

Sun, 13 Oct 2013
Bay View Boat Club Champion of Champions Regatta 12 Oct 2013

Pictures of Breakout crew and the competition are up as usual.

The three boats which had done well in preceding series:

  • Breakout, Lloyd Ritchey, Santana 35, PHRF 114
  • Cappo Gatto, Sal Balistreri, Nonsuch 30 (cat rig), PHRF 180
  • Kai Manu, John Jaundzems, Cal 29, PHRF 186

The rating spread was significant, 114 to 186. The courses were three quick windward leewards to three different leeward marks as the wind rotated over the course of the day. The course was the usual BVBC start/finish line with other fixed buoys as the leeward. The first race just took us up the shoreline. The second and third took us to NAS2 and SC respectively.

Breakout finished 3, 1, 2 for a 2nd place. We didn't have a #1 but the #2 was a reasonable size as the wind built. Being scratch boat by a large margin (needing to finish 5+ minutes ahead each race)tactics consisted mostly of trying to sail the fastest course.

In the first race, we had a poor start and took long enough to catch up on the shortest course we had very little chance of doing well even a few minutes into the race. The second and third races we pulled it together and had a longer leeward leg to gain through spinnaker work and windward leg to gain by playing current/wind. As always, the push back to the finish mark near the gray ships is a tough call in current and variable winds.

Sat, 05 Oct 2013
Elise's Tiburon Yacht Club Shorthanded Races, Oct 5 2013

Pics are here including a shot of the woodie rounding the windward mark and a few great scenic shots (the "fire" on the Berkeley hills from reflections during a sunset and a nice shot of a schooner)

Tiburon Yacht Club hosts an annual shorthanded event consisting of two races, one doublehanded (or SH) and one singlehanded. I sailed both singlehanded.

Elise was "the sportboat" in a group of boats spanning a variety of performance characteristics including weight, waterline, etc. We had a larger, relatively old sloop, a couple of smaller sloops, and a beautiful cold-molded wood custom from the 70's.

The wind for both races was light but very sailable at the start and then dropped to drifter conditions. Having a spinnaker made all of the difference in the first race as I'd blown the start by misreading the course and preparing to start in the wrong direction. In either race, I was the only one who hoisted but the "downwind" in the second race was such a tight reach that hoisting was of marginal benefit if that.

Elise corrected out well ahead in the first race and by a minute and a half in the second. The first course was up to windward (ISO), then down the near edge of the channel (GRC) and back. It was shortened to end at the GRC mark rounding. The second race was ISO to the TYC mark and back, shortened to end at the TYC mark. Key to doing well was staying way left on the upwind, avoiding the steadily mounting ebb. Just judging from wind direction, I probably overstood by a quarter mile or more but by the time the current and decreasing wind were done with me it turned out to be only 30 yards- a price well worth paying. The boats which didn't go that far left stalled out in inferior wind trying to claw their way up against a bad current.

Fri, 27 Sep 2013
America's Cup 2013 Final Race, Sept 25 2013

Coming into the final day of the America's Cup with the score tied 8-8 (after applying the 2 race penalty to Oracle) excitement was up and the spectator areas were crowded.

Conditions were just about perfect- under the limit but still exciting and sufficient for the teams to foil upwind and down. A mixed group came out on Echappee from work, a few people who'd been on Astraea the day before, and a few other sailors.

I didn't get many pictures in as the spectator fleet was dense and not everyone was paying very close attention. The racing was extremely exciting with NZ taking the start followed by multiple lead changes. Definitely worth the trip out!

Sat, 07 Sep 2013
Watching the America's Cup, 7 September 2013
Pics at:

While the weather forecast was for very light breeze, it was still a beautiful day and worth a trip out onto the bay.

We left too late to catch most of the first race starting at 1315, but still caught the commentary on VHF 20 and the finish.

The crowd of boats and other craft (even jetskis, etc.) was impressive. We stationed ourselves near the leeward gate, towards the cityfront from Alcatraz. There isn't any one location which gives a great view of the whole race but our compromise gave us a nice view of the foiling downwind and roundings. They were really very impressive though as for competitive racing the wins were by very large margins.

We motored around during the racing for better maneuverability, then did a quick reach back and forth across the bay once the AC show was over.

A good time with great friends.

Thu, 05 Sep 2013
Delivery Santa Cruz to San Francisco After the Windjammers, 2 Sept 2013
Pics and video at:

The delivery back from Santa Cruz to San Francisco was a very long day but still pleasant in light of favorable weather. An 0200 departure and 2000 arrival on a singlehanded trip is a long trip but fortunately I managed a nap in the middle.

Fortunately, Brian had helped with some autohelm work down in Santa Cruz as a combination of loose connections and blown fuses had rendered both autopilots nonoperational. The breeze had droped to nothing and the swells to almost nothing by the time I left at 0200 and motored around Pt. Santa Cruz with the main up and jib ready.

When the swells picked up with the dawn, the little short-shaft outboard wasn't up to handling it so I needed to switch to sails even though the wind was only about 2-5 kts. Then the autopilot decided that it wanted a break too. Fortunately, it's possible to trim Elise for a loosely beating course such that she will self-steer after you lash the tiller in place. That let me get in an hour and half or so of sleep.

There were some fantastic views along the way. Aside from Pigeon Point including the lighthouse which I always like, the weather cooperated to supply some really dramatic views approaching San Francisco: fog forming and blowing up various ridge lines, some interesting lighting on skylines and some really great cloud and sun colors.

Arriving just as it got dark, Serge helped me hoist Elise back out and get out of there (STFYC parking being constrained during the America's Cup, I couldn't leave my own car there).

Wed, 04 Sep 2013
Windjammers 2013 (singlehanded San Francisco to Santa Cruz, 31 Aug 2013)
Pics at:
Also, a nice video of Elise surfing near Davenport

The Windjammers is an annual race fr om San Francisco to Santa Cruz. This year, they switched the start from Friday to Saturday and made an aggressive effort to encourage shorthanded entries.

I packed the wrong jib- I had intended to take a #2 and a #3. The bag was marked #2 but it turned out to be a blast reacher. Performance upwind out the gate was not encouraging, though at the start line the angle seemed just right. The fog got really dense right outside the gate and I hugged the north shore to let a tanker by.

At Seal Rock, I turned left as expected but couldn't point quite high enough to avoid the Montarra hole. Thus, I spent some time in light air until about Pillar Point. Then, the breeze picked up just a little and I set a kite on a broad reach, headed offshore in 10-12 kts of wind.

About 5 miles after Pigeon Point, I gybed back towards shore in the expectation that the wind would build onshore. I was slightly premature, and quickly gybeed back out for another 15 minutes and then in again.

This time the wind did build to about a steady 20 so I gybed back onto starboard tack on a course rougly parallel to the shoreline. The autopilot handled the conditions well. The breeze gradually built up to 30+ steady, at which point the gusts were such that I took the spinnaker down and rehoisted the blast reacher. In spite of my slow start out the gate, I believe that my position may not have been all that bad at this point.

I had expected to finish before sundown, but shortly after Davenport the breeze dropped to almoost nothing very suddenly. I hugged the shore and switched between blast reacher, spinnaker, and #3 as the wind shifted around. I spent the last 3 hours of the race going about 5 miles. It was very discouraging tacking back and forth hard on the wind fighting a knot of current with only a few knots of breeze.

In retrospect, when it became clear that I wouldn't be arriving with a strong tailwind I should have made a wide arc around Pt. Santa Cruz to avoid fighting the current. A few locals told me that it's also possible to dodge right in towards shore, but what stops you on that side is large stands of kelp. Singlehanding in the dark as someone who's not that familiar with the area, it seems safer to stay wide than to find a pile of kelp and park in it.

Santa Cruz Yacht Club were good hosts and had hot clam chowder waiting for us even to the last boat.

Tue, 03 Sep 2013
Delivery RYC to STFYC After Nationals
Serge helped me deliver Elise on Tuesday night after the conclusion of the Nationals. The conditions at RYC were foggy but the trip back would cover everything from calm and clear to 20 kts in heavy fog. The run from RYC to the lee of Angel Island was clear, warm, and peaceful (jeans, polo shirt, lifejacket). The fog started just past Pt. Blunt and only the faintest trace of the Alcatraz lights were visible from there (sodium lights- the lighthouse was either out of service or totally obscured even when I rounded the Little Alcatraz mark). Power reaching under main and #3 from Alcatraz to the cityfront was a pleasant end to the trip. A defective RYC key fob rounded out the day, preventing me from retrieving my car but also providing an excuse to do lunch at Little China in Pt. Richmond during the retrieval. Mon, 26 Aug 2013
Echappee's View of the Express 27 Nationals, Aug 23-25 2013
Pics at:

Echappee played the part of tender to Elise this past weekend in her first overnight trip. Elise the Express 27 (ref Nat's Elise blog) was racing out of RYC for the extended weekend. I brought Echappee over to RYC early Saturday morning so she could provide snacks and lodging for Elise's crew during the weekend.

The view on the trip over was great with layers of fog, visibility, and clouds. Nat and Serge brought over some food for the day and Nat gifted Echappee a latte machine because civilized racers should be able to make fluffy milk in the morning before a race.

She was well up to the task of entertaining a tired E27 crew after the races Saturday and Sunday. She has good ventilation, light, and room to spread out.

Elise's View of the Express 27 Nationals, Aug 23-25 2013

Elise had a full crew for the 2013 Nationals, borderline more than full in fact. We had to manage weight carefully. With one of the larger (but still fit) crew out for work reasons on Friday and some help from Scott we managed to work it out.

Reference the Elise Blog around Aug 26 for some great pictures and the full story. We had some good tactical choices on the distance race and fantastic sail trim. There were a few times when we had trouble getting up to speed and point on the line but also some really great beats crossing back and forth with some of the boats to beat.

Thu, 01 Aug 2013
S/V Echappee
Echappee is a 1979 Amel Maramu, a French-built medium/heavy displacement cruising ketch. She is hull #29 of a 275 hull production run. I signed the papers at the very end of July 2013. Particulars:
  • LOA: est 45' or 46' (varied within the series)
  • LWL: 36.75'
  • Beam: 13'2"
  • Displacement: 23,000 lbs empty

She was designed to be a go-anywhere bluewater cruiser requiring minimal crewing and strength to operate. Her lines are classic, with significant overhang at both ends. She has two staterooms, two heads, and a very nice living area with a nav station which is generous by modern standards and a galley which is modest by those standards. The helm station is well protected under a hard dodger and sail trim is accomplished from the center cockpit with only the mainmast halyards terminating forward.

She has adequate tankage, storage, ground tackle, and other equipment for long term cruising. Her hull is solid fiberglass with two watertight bulkheads forward (anchor locker and the main transverse bulkhead at the main mast).

While not optimized for speed by any means, she is capable of respectable passagemaking in exceptional comfort. After decades of racing sloops, cruising a ketch is a new direction for me.

Her name has a variety of meanings, including a physical or spiritual withdrawal. It's also the term for a bicycle racer breaking out of the pack and seeing if he can keep the lead.

The name was the result of a number of factors: There are too many Exit Strategy's around, including on the bay. It's phonetically very similar to the old name. Plus, a French couple with an SF Bay Maramu named First Love observed to me that the French give their boats English names and the Americans French names and it seemed apropriate to oblige them.

Sun, 30 Jun 2013
Blosxom Setup
Blosxom notes:
  • OpenBSD won't run Perl via CGI without setup even though the command line works.
  • Plugins can't have certain characters in their names- the code looks like a word regexp match in perl. An unfortunate complication in view of the naming given to plugins by certain file repositories.


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