The Changing Tides of Alviso Marina

IMG_6253Alviso Marina is now an official kids’ smile creation site.  George Mayne Elementary fifth graders launched the Alviso Boat Tour Program at high tide thanks to community leaders with vision and drive. San Francisco Bay in our back yard.

I traded my 50-mile Treasure Island Sailing Center commute for a 50-minute bike ride to Alviso Marina yesterday for the launch of the Alviso Boat Tour Program. Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese drove it and Sheriff Laurie Smith’s team enabled it.  The Santa Clara County Parks & Recreation Department and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service brought it to life.IMG_6135


George Mayne Elementary School fifth graders listened patiently with anticipation during the welcome and dedication.  Couldn’t wait to get on those boats.  Even the birds were excited to show off their territory.IMG_6162.


Walking tours are easy compared to on-the-water activities which demand a huge focus on safety and logistics.  Life jackets are a must.  The sheriff’s deputies made clear the importance of safety rules and proper boat behavior.IMG_2087

Opportunity to connect with Mother Nature literally down the street from your school is huge. Hands-on learning is the best way to deliver life-long lessons to kids.  See the wildlife, protect the wildlife; touch the water, respect the water.IMG_6295Being on the water, seeing wildlife up close and experiencing the thrill of a boat ride really turns on the smiles.IMG_6237 IMG_6253-cr IMG_6283IMG_6235

If there had been time for selfies Friday mine would have out-shined those of the deputies and park rangers on my boat team.  They made many of these pictures possible.IMG_6182

Science, technology, engineering and math enters the picture seamlessly.  Tides and currents become real and visible.  Water flows, docks move up and down. Birds fly, seals dive. The rangers explained tides during today’s tours. And their effect on those who don’t heed them.IMG_6201

IMG_2110Alviso Marina provides opportunities for access to the bay for motor boats and hand-powered craft.  Motor boats like the deep waters provided by high tides.IMG_6225IMG_2083

Low tides favor canoers and kayakers.  Much better for paddling out with the ebb tide and getting a return boost as the San Francisco Bay water floods. Compare this 2014 picture from our low-tide adventure with the one above.IMG_2083-IMG_0124

IMG_0101-crSeeing birds and animals in their own settings can’t be beat.  Few of the students had any idea harbor seals lived just around the corner.IMG_2096

Lunch BreakThanks to Mayor Ed Lee’s office and the Americas Cup, TISC launched SS Learn for San Francisco fourth graders in 2013.  Same game plan as Alviso – classes split so half the kids are shore-side and half on the water. Then lunch break and a swap.  The Alviso program is fortunate to have the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service around the corner for the walking portion of the wetlands tour.

Two programs.  Miles apart.  Yet kids touching the same water.  Here’s a picture from a recent SSL class – smiles courtesy of Guadalupe Elementary School.IMG_5569

Alviso was a bustling seaport in the 1850’s.  It’s now becoming a major recreational and educational port of call for San Jose and surrounding towns.IMG_6110

Smiles and High Fives all around to Mother Nature and the men and women of our engaged, caring government agencies who made this happen.

And to the Tides of Change in Alviso.

Regards from Alviso Marina – 33.7miles south of Clipper Cove, Dave G

In the Wake:

Links with additional information:

If you were involved with the dedication of The Alviso Boat Tour Program, are from George Mayne Elementary School or would like hi-res copies of the pictures used in this blog and many more send an email to daveg at onclippercove dot com.

Like Water Off a Duck’s Back

IMG_1873-cr2At first glance, I didn’t connect with Highlander 874’s stern graphic – something lost in translation.  Then two ducks flew into the picture.  Two ducks? Visions of Jimmy Spithill showed up on the finish line of race seven.



Last week I crewed for Bruce Busbey in the 2015 edition of the Highlander Nationals.  Bruce is the son of my college swimming coach, life coach and sailing mentor Bob Busbey, the “Skipper” in Skipper’s Gift. Joining Bruce and his son Justin was a real trip –  east to Hartwell Lake at Western Carolina Sailing Club then down a 50 year old memory lane.

As the Highlander Nationals progressed, interesting stories and life lessons emerged, along with action-capturing pictures courtesy of Gayle Kaufholz.

A great reminder on how to deal with snags, headers and glitches – whether sailing or not – flew in courtesy of “The Duck”. Simple explanation: Jen Kafsky always encourages her kids to shake off problems, not let them build up. “Let ’em go, just like water running off a duck’s back”.  Hence their boat name – “The Duck”. DSC_0071

All sailors (well, most of us !)  know skippering & crewing together makes for great family sport. Family geometries became more evident as the Nationals played out around the buoys.

Many boats, including the winner of the Championship Division and third place in the President’s Division, were all-family.DSCb_1002-crDSC_0393-bob

There’s more. The Bauer family had sailors on three different boats.DSC_0500 DSC_0017


The Kafsky’s, including one of their daughters, skippered and crewed on two.DSC_0910 DSC_0099

DSC_0967Not to mention on-the-water husband/wife teams plus grandparents and parents on shore duty with future sailors.

Family sailing doesn’t get any better than in the Highlander class! Back to life lessons.

DSC_0250Lake Hartwell and Mother Nature served up a variety of wind conditions over the course of the seven-race / one-throw-out series. The lead changed five times. Thanks to a “Class A” WCSC race committee the sailing was impartial to the 24 competitors throughout the entire series – not easy, but fair to all.

An important life lesson we’ve discussed in the past, never give up (Jimmy to Kids: “Never Give UP”), was clearly in play .  The winning boat tanked in race six then came back with a bullet in the last race.

DSC_0818-crHats off to Tanner Shultz along with his father and teenage son & daughter.  They sailed a solid series and didn’t let a catastrophic race 6 get them down.  They made like a duck, cleared their minds and picked up a well-earned bullet in race 7 to win the Highlander Nationals in what turned out to be the closest finish in recent memory.

Going into the last race four boats were tied for third, a mere few points behind the first and second boats.  After the final gun only five points separated the top six boats. Did someone say competitive Highlander fleet?

So the 2015 Highlander Nationals are history – and will be remembered for challenging races, close finishes, a nearly-clairvoyant race committee and outstanding shore-side southern hospitality.

If you’re interested in getting a big dose of life lessons, teamwork, and a super family sport check out any of the Highlander Fleets back east.  If you’re here in the Bay Area and you want to get your kids into sailing – or learn how to keep up with them on the water – check out the treasure chest of classes available at Treasure Island Sailing Center.

Regards from On the Cove, Dave G

In the wake:

Here’s a link to more of Gayle’s photographs from the 2015 Highlander Nationals:

Here’s the 2015 schedule of classes at TISC: