FSK Students Sail, Play Crab Games On Clipper Cove

Francis Scott Key Elementary students sailed on Clipper Cove and studied SF Bay ecology.  They used gaming theory and mathematics to forecast Dungeness crab populations.   Crab calling lessons to rouse crabs from the sea wall were a big hit!

FSK-on the cove_resizeLast week the fourth graders from Ms. Huschke’s class at Francis Scott Key Elementary School experienced life on top of and in the waters of Clipper Cove and learned about the ecology of SF Bay. Our unique experiential learning program combines on-the-water time in RS Venture sailboats, participation in outdoor games, and active learning about ecology, math, biology and other sciences in our lab.

bus included_resizeThanks to the America’s Cup and the Mayor’s office TISC launched Set Sail Learn (SSL) in the Fall of 2013. Set Sail Learn provides an experiential learning opportunity to every fourth grader in the San Francisco Unified School District by opening a door to the Bay and the world of sailing.  The program uses hands-on lessons to teach 4th grade core standards;  there is no cost to the schools for transportation, instructors, or materials.

project books included_resizeFSK students were here to learn about the Ecology of the Bay.  TISC developed the curricula specifically for SSL.  Teachers are provided with workbooks and instructions in advance of each visit.  Other class options include Maritime History and The Power of the Wind.

Over 1,600 SSL participants from 25 SFUSD schools have seen and felt SF Bay first hand in RS Venture sailboats since the start of the program.  The protected environment of Clipper Cove, complete with backdrops of Oakland cranes, the Bay Bridge and San Francisco, provides a safe, accessible location to integrate sailing with learning.fsk loading up_resize
Even with a small amount of wind, and some help from Newton’s third law, the RS Ventures ghosted over the waters of Clipper Cove.

FSK Crane background_resize

FSK on clipper cove SF BackdropHalf the kids sail while the other half learn about ecology and the needs of Dungeness crabs.  They learn food, oxygen and habitat is required for the population to grow.  The “crab game” helps them visualize nature at work.  They also learn how to plot data to show their results. rules of the game_resize

crab game in actioncrab population analysis_resizeActive participation in our learning lab makes for lively discussions and encourages open communications.  Some classes provide opportunities for working in teams as part of the lesson.participation is communications_resizeIMG_4034_resize

While some fourth graders have been on or near the bay, few have been in sailboats or actually touched and played in the water. Or skippered a sailboat!FSK thumbs up_resize water play -1_resize water play -2_resize

FSK - driving_resizeClipper Cove is home to a wide range of plant and animal sea life. Seaweed can be found while sailing or around the docks.  This seaweed is home to even smaller organisms. Sealife on the dock_resize sealife up close_resize

IMG_3974_resizeDocks and ramps provide ideal source of seaweed and algie.  Microscopes enabled FSK students to see these living parts of SF Bay up close in our lab and lead students to even more discoveries.  Some only visible under the microscope.sealife under the scope_resize

IMG_4147_resize IMG_4146_resize

While advanced navigation is not part of our SSL curricula the instructors explain maps, directions, and basic navigation – from bearings on the dock to tracking landmarks on the Bay.  When taking pictures I was pleased to note the kids did a good job of pointing in the right direction when asked, for example, “where’s north?”that way is north_resize

Or, “point toward the west”.that direction is west_resize

The October 16th tide was dropping as SSLearn progressed.  The “crab calling” lessons provided by Chris Childers, Program Director and SSL Instructor, brought out the rock crabs.  This lead to further investigation along the break wall.crab callingcrabs looking for food_resizecrab watching_resize

SSL students weren’t the only ones interested in the rock crabs.crabs being looked at for food

SF Bay is famous for its Dungeness crab population. Clipper Cove is home to many, and sometimes they join our classes for a brief cameo appearance.  Such was the case when FSK Elementary was here.crab is in guest for the afternoon_resize

Not only seeing but actually touching “the real thing” of course makes the classes even more memorable. dungeness crab_resize

At the end of the day our “crabby” friend headed home. As did the FSK Students.guest gone_resize

The Francis Scott Key staff stress skills that enable their students to be successful citizens and life long learners. The TISC SSL Learn program fits well with their core curriculum and resonated directly with their goals to develop an understanding and appreciation in the areas of technology, art, music, and physical education.  Their time at TISC here on Clipper Cove fit right into their school theme: “Building Healthy Minds and Bodies.”

While filling rapidly, there are still classes available for TISC’s Spring SSL Session which start Monday, April 13, 2015.  Interested fourth grade teachers, principals and PTO leaders can read more about our program and sign up for sessions on line at the TISC website here:  Sailing into Schools.   I recommend you register immediately if interested in brining your class to an April 2015 session.

Regards from On the Cove, Dave G ( daveg @ onclippercove . com )

In the wake:

If you are a parent, grandparent of family member of a student whose class is featured below, please contact your teacher for the link to a directory of all the pictures taken during the class visit to TISC.

FSK Students Sail, Play Crab Games On Clipper Cove – Posted

Francis Scott Key Elementary students sailed on Clipper Cove and studied SF Bay ecology.  They used gaming theory and mathematics to forecast Dungeness crab populations.   Crab calling lessons to rouse crabs from the sea wall were a big hit!

Cleveland and Feinstein Schools  On Clipper Cove – Posted

SSLearn is in full swing at TICS. Spring classes started in April and continue through May. Fourth graders from Cleveland School and Dianne Feinstein School each spent a day at Treasure Island Sailing Center recently. Experiential learning looks like fun!

JYC Kids’ Crabby Day at TISC – Posted

As 33 John Yehall Chin Elementary School  fourth graders departed TISC after their SSLearn Day, I asked for six words describing their feelings. I was blown away when one student excitedly exclaimed “I’m crabby, day had to end”!









2014 Resolutions: Unplug, Upload and FOCUS !

One New Year’s Resolutions for the TISC community, especially for our tenants: publish TISC events and opportunities in one convenient location. And two for me: turn off the IT when around others & during meal time, and stay focused.

Treasure Island Sailing Center is a busy place for good reason: we provide life lessons and rewarding on-the-water experiences to kids and adults in one of the best sailing venues in the world.  Clipper Cove is an ideal location featuring protected waters with predictable winds.  Just around the corner San Francisco Bay takes it up a notch for those who want to sail casually, race locally or compete at the international level.  You can even win the America’s Cup there!

Last year nearly 3,000 children, youth and adults – including those with disabilities – sailed on Clipper Cove from our TISC docks. Many were first-time sailors; some were America’s Cup participants. All were making new friends and either teaching or learning goal setting, teamwork, communications and self confidence.

Tenants are major contributors to Treasure Island Sailing Center’s success.  Their fees help support scholarships and maintain our facilities. Many volunteer their time to provide priceless opportunities for experienced sailors to connect with the more novice sailors.

Last year we added a list of events sponsored by TISC or affecting sailing here on Clipper Cove to this blog. It was our first attempt to give tenants a heads up on activities in/around TISC so they could better plan their arrival and departure times and make volunteering a bit easier.

This year we will expand that information and upload both events and volunteer opportunities in a single location: TISC Events and Opportunities.  We’ll do our best to make this a place you can check your plans for a race, casual sail or opportunity to fulfill your volunteer commitments.

On a personal level, I’ve made two additional resolutions for 2014: unplug from the IT world when with others, and use best efforts to focus on one task at a time.

When in meetings, hosting parties and especially during mealtimes my iPhone will be off or in another room.  No more subtle pocket vibrations to remind me to check email or temptations to send out an unseen text message.

And no more pretending to be a multi-tasker.  If you want to learn more about why this term is really a misnomer check out “FOCUS, by Daniel Goleman (NY Times revew here) .  Thanks to this gift from my daughter I have a better appreciation of why focus is a GREAT New Year’s resolution.

I hope you too are looking forward to a promising, rewarding and focused 2014 !

Regards, from On The Cove, Dave G.

In the wake:

2013 brought  lit up many smiles on Clipper Cove this year thanks to our many friends, donors, tenants, instructors and staff .  The pictures below capture some of my favorites.big smile Confidence excitement fleet prep Friends Under New Bay Bridge IMG_2348 JYC Crab Lab at TISC JYC in TISC SSL Activity CenterSS Learn Focus JYC Seaweed Discovery life jacketsBug Rigging opti capsize drill Upwind in a bug On Clipper Cove return to clipper cove returning from the beach sponsorship - optiSSLearn in RS Venture Teams Teamwork teamwork on deckTide Rising TISC Community Ourtreach V15s-background Water Play YMCA Bus



ACEA Community Outreach Programs Benefit TISC

Twenty three TISC students had front-row seats for Race 3 of the Louis Vuitton Cup semi-finals courtesy of the America’s Cup Event Authority.  Our team used public transportation and boats to get everyone to Marina Green. Some made it back.

Thank you Kelly Cowden for providing tickets to last Friday’s LVC race between Artemis and Luna Rosa. Thanks also to Chris Childers and Madison Gattis for figuring out the logistics of getting kids, staff, guests and parents to the venue before the event and re-connected after the event.  Even real-time glitches in the public transportation system did not prevent our team from pulling off a fun and educational day for all.

The pre-race events included youth racing right in front of the Marina Green bleachers.  Following the races the teams were interviewed live – more good training for these young sailors who handled questions on strategy and tactics as easily as a C420 gybe.

Close finishes were the norm during LVC pre-race program

Close finishes were the norm during LVC pre-race program

Marina Green provides awesome viewing.  The “defender access” period (have you been watching “No Second Place“) before races ensures lots of action well in advance of the races.

Marina Green provides great "head on" view of Oracle team practicing their starts

Marina Green provides great “head on” view of Oracle team practicing their starts

Prada practice start prior to LVC Race #3

Prada practice start prior to LVC Race #3

While our RS Ventures provide exciting planning experience and flying water, there is nothing like seeing AC72s foiling close by.  Pictures below are two more examples of the excellent non-stop viewing from Marina Green.

Prada foils past Marina Green during LVC Race #3

Prada foils past Marina Green during LVC Race #3

Artemis crew foils during LVC semifinal race #3

Artemis crew foils during LVC semifinal race #3

Our kids, staff and guests were glued to the action during the race. The large TV screens on both sides of the Marina Green bleachers give the feeling of being on the boats at all times.  Easy access and ring-side seats make this an excellent location for taking in America’s Cup action.

Action all around engaged TISC student sailors at LVC semifinal race #3

Action all around engaged TISC student sailors at LVC semifinal race #3

Jumbo screens bring AC excitement to the Marina Green bleachers

Jumbo screens bring AC excitement to the Marina Green bleachers

ACEA’s Community Outreach Program managed by Kelly Cowden is focused on exposing as many people in the Bay Area as possible to sailing, especially kids. One of our parent volunteers and a junior instructor took in the Friday race from course-side on the San Francisco Fire Department “Guardian”, also courtesy of  Kelly and her team.

SF Fire Boat Guardian Hosted Community Service Volunteers During the Race

SF Fire Boat Guardian Hosted Community Service Volunteers During the Race

Students, instructors and staff gather for a quick “Hi and thank you Americas Cup Community Outreach Program” after Friday’s races at Marina Green.  Our team is also very appreciative of the financial support received from ACEA through their generous donation from the rockin’ Sublime concert on August 4th.

TISC Kids at LVC

As the afternoon came to an end, some kids met parents in San Francisco after the races.  Others did make it back to TISC in two of our safety boats. AC72 viewing continued as Oracle Team USA boats continued their practice session.

Oracle AC72s dwarf CFD's during practice run following LVC Race #3

Oracle AC72s dwarf CFD’s during practice run following LVC Race #3

TISC students head back to Clipper Cove following LVC semi-final Race #3

TISC students head back to Clipper Cove following LVC semi-final Race #3

Treasure Island Sailing Center is working with thirty plus outreach partners to provide positive life experiences on the bay for kids in the Bay Area.  The support from the America’s Cup Community Outreach program is greatly appreciated.

Regards from Marina Green, Dave G




ETNZ and TISC Teams Race to Encourage Junior Sailors

New Zealand Starts Foiling

Picture from our vantage point on Marina Green taken 7/23

Aotearoa would never clear the shallow sandbar protecting Clipper Cove’s entrance. Fortunately several members of ETNZ used a land route to visit TISC on Wednesday, sharing high 5’s with our kids and challenging our instructors to a few informal races.

The excitement of this year’s Americas Cup is not lost on our students, especially those involved in weekend regattas California.  No surprise our students were all smiles to see four members of Emirates Team New Zealand show up at Pier 12 to watch them sail, answer their questions and get out in TISC BUGS for a few races with our instructors.

ETNZ with TISC Kids

ETNZ smiles with TISC kid’s smiles

Rigging an 8′ Opti or Bug is simple compared to readying a 13,500 pound carbon fiber winged catamaran to race (see “Preparing ETNZ for Racing“), however they share one common characteristic: there is a right and wrong way to rig any sailboat and to be successful during a race you better do it the right way.  Learning early on to rig their own boats helps build student self conficence.

The impact positive role models have on our students is even more valuable than the four-point “life skills” learning we teach here at TISC. When the role models are wearing black shirts, represent Emirates Team New Zealand and speak “with a way cool accent” ( according to the students I talked with at TISC today at lunch) then even better. Kids “get it” when adults are willing to share time with them – even if the the “thank you”s are not alway verbalized.

Clipper Cove provides a picturesqe venue for sailing and hosting a few races for our visitors from Down Under and TISC instructors provided everyone with an opportunity to do what we all like best -SAIL !  The pictures below are courtesy of our Program Director Chris Childers and Head Instructor Ann Butts.

Clean Start on Clipper Cove

Clean Start on Clipper Cove

Close quarters on Clipper Cove

Close quarters on Clipper Cove

Splitting Tacks on Clipper Cove

Splitting tacks on Clipper Cove

Crossing on Clipper Cove

Port – starboard on Clipper Cove

Friendly conversation on Clipper Cove framed by Oakland cranes

Friendly conversation on Clipper Cove framed by Oakland cranes

Racing Framed by new Bay Bridge

Racing onn Clipper Cove framed by new Bay Bridge

There are many opportunities for volunteers to support our programs here at Treasure Island Sailing Center.  The most fun are the on-the-water sailing and by far the most rewarding are seeing the smiles on the faces of kids of all ages when the light first goes and they’re able to sail solo around Clipper Cove.

Thanks again Emirates Team New Zealand for sharing your time and love of sailing with our team, much appreciated !

From On the Cove, Dave G

In the Wake:

If you are a friend, a regular volunteer or a tenant here at TISC looking for volunteer hours you may have received an email recently listing up-coming opportunities to spend time on the water sharing YOUR love of sailing with others.  In case you missed it, see below.  Please contact Chris Childers (programs@tisailing.org, 415-421-2225) if you can help on one or more of these dates.

  • Saturday 7/27 Group Sail – 11am-2pm (2 volunteers)
  • Sunday 7/28 Community Sailing Day – 10am-1pm (1 volunteer)
  • Monday 7/29 Group Sail – 10am-1pm – (1 volunteer)
  • Tuesday 7/30 Group Sail – 10am-1pm – (1 volunteer)
  • Wednesday 7/31 Group Sail – 10am-1pm – (1 volunteer)
  • Thursday 8/1 Group Sail – 9am-12pm – (2 volunteers)
  • Saturday 8/3 Group Sail – 1pm-4pm (1 volunteer)
  • Saturday 8/3 Blind Sailing Day – 10am-3pm (5 volunteers) – This requires a training session on 7/31 in the afternoon
  • Wednesday 8/7 Group Sail – 10am-1pm – (1 volunteers)
  • Wednesday 8/7 Group Sail – 12pm-3pm – (5 volunteers)
  • Thursday 8/8 Group Sail – 10am-2pm – (7 volunteers)

Think Fast ! (gasp, gasp)

Tetons Frame Wedding VenueThe Tetons were breathtakingly beautiful and Yellowstone NP showcased Mother Nature in live-action color for a recent family wedding in Wyoming.  Saturday we watched Emirates Team New Zealand race Luna Rosa from Skipper’s Gift.  Also colorful and action packed.

The time seemed to fly by quickly between setting up chairs at 7:30 Saturday morning at Heart 6 Ranch and the first music from the string quartet at 10:30.  I can’t say our hearts were racing but I will admit to working up a deadline-driven sweat before the wedding.  The Tetons delivered a view unlike any other wedding we’ve attended.

A week later we were watching the pre-start action between Aotearoa and Prada  – the most strategically significant part of Saturday’s match race.  Seeing two foiling AC72’s was the most exciting part of the day.

Maneuvers were a highlight. Synchronizing the efforts of all eleven crew has to be one of the most demanding aspects of racing these boats. Watching the Emirates Team New Zealand boat round the leeward gate put a new perspective on dropping the chute on our J/24. Thanks to my friend Youssef Ismail for this shot taken as we passed south of Alcatraz.ETNZ at Leeward Gate

training to win leaderBack home I watched  “Training to Win”, the second episode in the Red Bull series “Inside the Americas Cup: No Second Place” and was impressed by the focus on decision making under great stress and elevated heart rate. Especially the scene where crew members were stopped in the middle of their grinding and running exercises to solve mind puzzles.

The America’s Cup presence here in the Bay provides exciting, even heart-throbbing, action whether you race sailboats, enjoy sailing, or have spent little time on the water.  We’re fortunate to be able to watch live from the bay, on land, via TV and over the internet.

TISC doesn’t claim to train our kids for sailing in the Americas Cup (well, not yet anyway!).  We do use sailing as a platform to teach goal setting, communications, teamwork and self-confidence to help them be successful now and later in life. We hope to peak kids’ interest in racing and we provide opportunities for racing individually and teamed with others.

Regards from On the Cove, Dave G

In the wake:

Manufacturing and repair technology has progressed rapidly over the last decade, even few years.  We’ll be hosting a hands-on materials technology clinic here at TISC mid-August on a week night to be announced.  If you’re interested in learning more about the current state of technology of epoxy resin, gelcoat and carbon fiber materials used to manufacture and repair sailboats and sailing gear let me know via email (daveg@onclippercove.com).  We will send additional details when available.  Registration will be limited, with TISC tenants receiving first priority with advanced registration.  A great opportunity to learn current best practices for working with epoxy-based materials.

Bay Safety and Always Being Prepared

Safety and preparedness are key components of TISC programs. Our kids learn importance of teamwork, and sailing safe. Tuesday night’s return sail reminded us how fast San Francisco Bay can turn dangerous from gorgeous and to always be prepared.

safety logisticsTISC summer programs are now under full sail on Clipper Cove.  Our instructors work with small groups of students to provide safety orientation first thing as part of each class.  Lifejackets are of course required at all times on and off the water.  Students are never without a partner or close-by safety boat.

single handed sailingDepending on the level of sailing skills and lessons being taught students may sail solo or in teams of two.  Solo sailing stresses independence and goal setting.  Sailing with a partner requires communications and teamwork.  double handed sailing


Safety boats on the water keep a watchful eye over students as they head out to the cove where they work on sailing skills.fleet prep


Whether its folding sails on a J/24 or putting Optis and Bugs back on the racks, kids learn the importance of team work (have you ever tried to roll up a sail by yourself ?).teamwork

Just back from a week on Nantucket Sound with family last week, we took friends sailing for the day leaving TI just before noon.   The Louis Vuitton series opens July 4th with racing scheduled to start July 7th and the AC72s were out as we sailed past Alcatraz toward Tiburon. Seeing these 13,000 pound boats up on foil is always a thrill.Oracle Foiling 130611After late lunch and walk about Tiburon, we headed back to TI around 5pm.  As we crossed through “windy alley” between Angel Island and Treasure Island around six thirty the wind was its typical 15-20 with higher gusts.  The tide was ebbing which created a moderate chop.  Fun sailing down the waves.

As we were capturing pictures of a gorgeous day on the bay we saw a lone wave-rider bite the dust followed by a huge splash. While not an unusual occurrence, it was late with waves building and the Bay empty so we watched carefully.

jet ski hits wave

At first the rider started to slowly catch up to his now-drifting craft.  Then the distance settled and started to increase.  With one set of eyes on the person in the water we came about and headed over to investigate.  As the distance between driver and wave-rider continued to increase, we deployed our life ring on a line and dropped the jib.

After circling around, we snagged the driver and with him hanging on the back of Skippers’ Gift ran downwind to the wave-rider, now four boat lengths to leeward.  He climbed aboard his craft and continued on his way to Emeryville.

Continuing on our way to Clipper Cove we discussed several “what ifs” and pondered the drivers fate if we had not been there.  A rather sobering experience and another reminder of the importance of life vests, sailing in pairs, staying aware and always being prepared.

From On the Cove, Dave G

In the wake:

I’ve heard a number of “50/50/50 rules”, including “An average adult has a 50% chance of surviving a 50 yd swim in 50o water”, “a person in 50o water for 50 minutes has a 50% better chance of survival if wearing a life jacket”, and “a person in 50o water for 50 minutes has a 50% chance of survival”.

Without our help this hapless driver would have been in a tough, perhaps fatal, situation.