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, 14 Dec 2014
BYC Midwinters, Saturday and Sunday Dec 13-14 2014

We participated in both days, fully crewed on Saturday (James, Ryan, Daniel, and I) and doublehanded on Sunday (Mark L. and I).

On Saturday, we ran a little late and then the engine died halfway to the starting line. We started badly late and finished last but had a good chance to practice maneuvers with our new group.

On Sunday, we got a good pin end start but then split with the fleet and were proven badly wrong.

Thanks to the group for hanging in and managing to have fun. A few pictures from Sunday (and a couple of other boats Saturday) are over at Smugmug.

The Elise blog will have a few detailed notes later. For now, this picture of bay salad summarizes my feelings about the results this weekend.

plants washed out by the storm on San Francisco Bay
Sat, 06 Dec 2014
GGYC Midwinters, Dec 4 2014

Elise was looking light on crew until Nat and I ran into Steve Katzman of Diane at the bakery while I was picking up a few sails from Bernal Heights. Carefully weighing the merits of boatwork vs going sailing, he hopped on with us.

A few pictures from the Golden Gate Midwinters. Crew Mark, Daniel, Steve , and Nathan. We were a little late to a really light air start because of misjudging the current. But, by the last mark we were the 1st Express 27 out of five. There, El Raton and Opa! split for the beach to get current relief. We liked the wind outside better, but spent some time under an Olson 40 and Express 37 getting blanketed and lost them. Absent those boats, it was probably slightly better to stay outside: we then split with the other two E27's to get over to the beach and probably lost a few second but still finished ahead. So a 3rd in division for us for the day.

Full size pics over at Elise GGYC Midwinters 2014 December.

And few pictures from Serge on shore: (his full event gallery is at his Ultimate Yachtshots gallery.
Sun, 28 Sep 2014
Bonita Trip, YRA Season Closer 2014-09-28
Levitation II Express 27 Pt. Bonita Approach Buoy
North shore of the golden gate, Nat Criou and James Smith

For the second day of the Closer, the committee gave us a gatecrasher course: out to the approach buoy near Pt. Bonita (near the lighthouse), down to a mark in the bay roughly between Alcatraz and Berkeley, and then to finish. It's a simple course but if the wind gets too light it would be a pretty long trip.

For the second day, we had a full crew of 5, adding James Smith to the Saturday lineup. We swapped around vs Saturday, with Nathan running tactics versus driving, Nat driving vs foredeck, and David working foredeck vs tactics.

As for Saturday, staying to the right up to Belvedere Island was important to be out of the flood. After that, it was somewhat a matter of timing: the division was a bit spread out and the correct move (left, right, or middle) depended a bit on the timing of the shifts.

After that, it was a trip across Richardson bay with the goal of getting to the Marin shore near the sewage plant and sailing along it past Yellow Bluff and to the Golden Gate.

Once near the North Tower, we stayed close to the shore because the flood was full strength 50 yards or so out. We dodged into each little bit of shelter behind an outcropping. The final bay before Pt. Bonita is tricky because while the current looks tempting there's often no wind all the way in. So, we skipped that one.

Passing Pt. Bonita close by, we took a hard right to stay along the shore. Further out, there was less wind and more current. That gained us some distance.

From Bonita back into the bay, we took a short hop on starboard tack out to the middle of the channel. Then we gybed earlier than most of the others, heading back toward the bridge in good current and reasonable wind. The wind built as we got back into the bay and we were able to drive almost DDW with very good speed because of the help from the waves. There wasn't enough wind to let us plane and justify heading up; we were just a displacement boat rolling along at 7.5 kts or so.

By the leeward mark, we'd caught back up to Levitation II and passed him in the rounding. After that, it was just a straight shot back up along the windward side of Angel Island and to the finish. We did a good job on trim, which gave us one less tack than Levitation II and gained us more distance.

Conclusions: We had trouble getting moving or pointing for the first 1/2 hour or so. I made one bad tactical call which took us a few boatlenths too far inshore on the Marin side and left is with no air for a while. Trim and boatspeed were excellent from there, although we had trouble getting our tacks timed properly and approach+exit angles quite right.

Sat, 27 Sep 2014
YRA Season Closer 2014-09-27
Dredge blocking the entrance to STFYC and GGYC
David Bennett and Mark Lazar on Elise after the Season Closer
Mark Lazar and Nat Criou on Elise after the Season Closer

Elise's first event after a delayed return from SHTP was the YRA Season Closer run by Corinthian Yacht Club. It's a two day event with starts and finishes in front of the CYC. It was a bit of a challenge to get out as a dredge was completely blocking the channel. Fortunately, it was set up and willing to move.

Saturday we ran with a crew of four: Nat, Mark, Nathan, and new crew David Bennett. The conditions were fairly light but building to about 14 by the end of the race. The course was a bay tour: CYC to Blackaller between the cityfront and the bridge, down to Blossom Rock down towards the Bay Bridge, up to Little Harding, and back to CYC to finish.

In a significant flood, staying right along the Marin County shore was important up past Belvedere Island and then upwind courses up through Richardson's Bay. It turned out that in spite of a predicted flood, there wasn't actually that much current in the main Golden Gate channel, so a simple layline to Blackaller was sufficient. The breeze rose and fell a few times but it was just a matter of monitoring heel and trim to keep up.

From Blackaller to Blossom was a spinnaker leg. A bit of current avoidance in the shadow of Alactraz helped but it was mainly a search for wind.

The trip back up to Little Harding was mostly hard on the wind with occasional cracking off. Up next to Angel Island, we saw the usual pattern of a lift on port tack which made it ultimately wasy to lay the mark. The challenge was being efficient in puffy conditions and facing waves.

The final leg from Little Harding to CYC was pretty much a straight without too much in the way of tactical finesse. We wanted to enjoy the flooding current for as long as possible but not risk being carried past the finish line if the breeze became too light in Racoon Strait.

Boatspeed and trim were excellent. We had an awkward start when I (as driver) was a little unsure as to the directions coming from tactician and bow about distances to the starting line. Once started, we were pointing with and keeping up with the crowd except for Motorcycle Irene who stretched on everyone. Sailhandling was pretty smooth and other than being over early and a trip to the right on the first windward leg that we shouldn't have made (all the way up at the bridge, going past layline to Blackaller) it wasn't bad for a first race after SHTP and first time for this four crew working together.

Sun, 13 Apr 2014
Resin Regatta, SFYC, Day 2 (Sunday)
Elise's crew- Chris Sears, Aaron Lewis, James Smith, Mike Sowa, and Nathan Bossett (not shown)
Mike Sowa, James Smith, and Chris Sears setting up for a spinnaker evolution
Libra's crew (Express 27)
Express 27's behind us

Full size pics of Elise the Express 27's SFYC Resin Regatta 2014 are in the usual place (both days together).

For Sunday of the San Francisco Yacht Club's Resin Regatta, we had a full crew (vs Saturday's one-body-short racing). It was also Mike Sowa's last day on Elise for a while as he's due for a job transfer out of the area.

Joining us were James, Aaron, and Chris in a team which worked surprisingly well together as a first time performance. It was only a two race day and we got lucky with a first race featuring 8-12 kt winds, allowing us to get into the rythm of tacks and gybes.

We finished right in the middle of the fleet in each race (4 out of 7, Wile not having returned for Sunday). In each race, we had a great start followed by either a boatspeed or sail handling problem, followed by gaining back a couple of boats.

We had consistently good spinnaker handling, gaining distance on each downwind and cleanly executing a variety of douses.

Image note: There was a nice red, white, and blue set of spinnakers ahead of us at one finish, balanced by a somewhat more varied bunch behind us.

Red, white, and blue ahead of us (Express 27's)
Sat, 12 Apr 2014
Resin Regatta, SFYC, Day 1 (Saturday)
Nat Criou, Mark Lazar, Spinnaker Douse Step 1
Nat Criou, Mark Lazar, Spinnaker Douse Step 2
Nat Criou, Mark Lazar, Spinnaker Douse Step 3

Full size pics of Elise the Express 27's SFYC Resin Regatta 2014 are in the usual place (both days together).

The SFYC Resin Regatta was a Saturday/Sunday event on the Berkeley Circle. Saturday we had Nat, Mark, and Nathan as regulars and Chris as a welcome guest. The breeze was up all day for three races of thorough workout: #3 from the start of the first race and building from there. The courses were windward-leeward: the first two being two laps and finishing to leeward with the final race containing an extra windward leg. We had a fleet of 8 Express 27's, the expected turnout. Our finishes were 5, 7, 5 (with the last race probably really being a 4 if our assumption about one boat not properly returning to the starting area after a recall pans out).

Good starts, reasonable boatspeed given our shorthanded (4 people and light weight for the conditions) state. A satisfactory day with a few dramatic boathandling errors, one of which led to losing a spinnaker sheet.

I did catch a few good pictures of Nat and Mark Lazar conducting a windward takedown: preparing, pulling the pole off while Nat pushes the guy out to keep the spinnaker full, and then stowing the pole while Nat prepares to pull the spinnaker down to port. Not shown: Chris releasing the guy so Nat can gather the foot and Mark releasing the halyard to let it tumble into her hands.

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).

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.

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
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.


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