How Do Furling Mainsails Work?

Furling mainsails are far more common on new boats compared to classic mainsails because of their many benefits and ease of use, but we need to learn some key skills to use them properly and efficiently.

The main benefit of a furling main is the easy deployment and retrieval of the sail matched by the safety of not having to flake the sail and secure it while at sea. On the flip side of that, the furling mechanism has many moving parts that all need to work in synchrony for the system to operate properly.

How does a furling mainsail work?

At the base of the mast, and inside the hollow extrusion, is a worm drive (coil, drum, furling mechanism, etc.) that is bolted to the mast via a bracket and connected to a foil that runs to the top of the mast. The foil receives the luff of the mainsail via the bolt rope and the main halyard raises the main to the top of the mast. When the worm drive is spun, via the furling line, the entire foil spins and rolls the sail into the mast.

Once the sail is rigged onto the furling system, the main halyard will no longer be used as the sail have no need to be raised and lowered. Instead, it will be rolled via the two control lines know as the furling line and outhaul.

Like we talked about above, the worm drum spins in one direction to roll the sail in and another direction to roll the sail out. When the furling line is pulled, the worm will spin in a manner that rolls the sail in and when the outhaul is pulled the drum will spin in a manner that rolls the sail out. The outhaul and furling line apply opposite forces to the worm drive, so it’s a requirement to ease one line while the other is being pulled (this allows the worm drive to spin).

For example, to roll the sail out, the outhaul will be pulled (causing the worm to spin) while the furling line is eased.

Like any mainsail, the sail should be deployed while the boat is head to wind.


While furling or unfurling, if the system seems stiff or it’s hard to furl, STOP! There is likely a jam somewhere in the sail or control lines and continuing to furl will cause damage. That brings up the point of electric winches… electric winches should not be used to operate the furling control lines. Electric winches do not have feelings and will continue to turn until something breaks. A well-maintained furling system, coupled with a sail that’s in good shape, can be operated by hand. Always stop if you feel it’s hard to operate the furling system.

BVI Club Flotilla Is Back!

After several canceled flotillas over the last 15 months, we are excited to announced the rebooking of the club’s annual flotilla! We’re heading to the BVI’s this fall for eight amazing days of sailing.  

Each year the club picks a tropical sailing destination and organizes a week-long charter with our affiliate, The Moorings. The Moorings was established in 1969 (the same as Harbor Sailboats) and holds charter bases around the world offering week charters aboard Beneteau’s and Leopard Catamarans. The British Virgins Islands is our favorite location for many reasons but the ease of travel, US dollar currency, predictable trade winds, and warm water are among the top reasons. 

The club has selected September 29th – October 8th as our charter dates and has begun taking reservation.  

How Does it Work? 

The Harbor Sailboats lead boat sets a loose itinerary for the week that you can follow or venture out on your own, it’s totally up to you. Our lead boat will also organize social happy hours, group dinners, and be on the water to help you along the way. If you’ve never done a week-long bareboat charter, this is an amazing way to do so! 

Members will book their boat through Harbor Sailboats as we make suggestions on boat size and type based on your experience and crew size. From there, you can fill your boat with friends and family to split the cost. Next, book your air travel with your favorite carrier and let us plan the rest! 

We will board our boats at 3pm on September 29th and complete out check outs with the dock master. From there, you can head to the grocery store to provision with food for the week and be ready to set off the next morning to our first anchorage. Our float plan will take us to a different island almost every day with a two day stop at some of the larger and more active islands. Daily fun will include sailing, swimming, snorkeling, and of course relaxing. On the 8th day we drop our boats off prior to 11am where some will catch a flight home while others will stay for another day or two to keep it going!  

Charters for a 38′ monohull start at $4,600 with options up to 50′ including catamarans. Give the office a call for more details or to review a quote. 

BVI Entry Requirements 

San Diego Bay Hazards

The season is here with warmer weather and the bay is full of boats! Last weekend, we took a little time to enjoy the start of the season ourselves and noticed some rusty skippers and witnessed four boats aground (none of them from HS thankfully). So, let us review some of the navigation hazards of the bay to make sure you do not end up high and dry like these skippers did.

From Point Loma Inward

A– Kelp Beds- Just outside of Point Loma and running along the coastline to Mission Bay is a growing kelp bed. Sailors must stay clear, or they will foul props and rudders in this very thick kelp bed. San Diego buoy 1 is a clear waypoint when entering or leaving the channel entrance. 

B-Zuniga Jetty- A man made rock jetty protecting Coronado Island that is no longer maintained and can be submerged during high tide. Skippers entering the bay, or exiting, must make sure they have cleared the tip of the jetty before entering or leaving the channel.

C-Ballast Point- Extending from the Coast Guard station on the western side of the channel, the Ballast Point shoal extends from the small beach next to the submarine dry dock. Skippers should stay in the channel, and well away from the beach in this area.

D-Rock Pile Adjacent to Ballast Point- Directly east from Ballast is a well-marked pile of rocks just outside the channel. This rock pile is just south of the Navy loading dock and extends abouts 300 yards from North to South.

E-Shelter Island Shoal- The Shelter Island entrance has a dedicated channel to keep boaters away from a shoal that is just off the entrance. Skippers must pick up the first channel marker and never cut the corner when coming in or out of Shelter Island.

F-Shelter Island East- At the opposite end of Shelter Island, just off the Bali Hai restaurant, exists another shoal. This is clearly marked by shoal makers as well as a green buoy, boats cannot cut the corner into Americas Cup Harbor.

G-North Island- Besides the obvious shallow water along the shoreline, North Island has an area of rocks at the North West section that is marked by 4 pilings (A-D). This is just South East of the loading dock and appears to be deep water but in fact is not.

H-22A- Just South East of the aircraft carriers lies buoy 22A, just outside of the channel and buoy 22. 22A is marking a long shoal off the homes and beach of Coronado near the ferry landing. Again, inviting water that turns out to be very shallow.

I-Coronado Bridge Mooring Field- Likely the most unknow danger of the bay is the shoal just off pillar 14 of the bridge and next to the mooring field. The water here goes from 40’ to 5’ is just a couple boat lengths. Skippers sailing under the bridge should keep to the middle of the channel and cross the bridge at the widest part.

J-Gloriette Bay/Navy Seal Base- After passing the bride you may turn right into Gloriette Bay but must pick up the channel entrance and stay in the channel until you have reached the anchorage. Additionally, a large shoal is present at the south end of the Gloriette bay entrance and can be recognized by the Navy SEAL base and buoy 26.

K-South Bay- South San Diego Bay is very shallow in general and sailors must always stay in the channel to avoid groundings.

L-Midway Aircraft Carrier- It should go without saying but stay at least 1,000 feet away from the Midway aircraft carrier. If you sail under the ship, your boat will be coming back without a mast!

Lee Shores- Recognizing and Avoiding

A lee shore is a one of the everyday dangers of a sailor and skippers should always be aware of the presence of a lee shore. A lee shore is exactly as it sounds; a shore (object, obstructions, etc.) to leeward of a boat. Lee shores are dangerous because if a boat were to lose its maneuverability, they would eventually drift towards the lee shore likely resulting in a grounding or collision with the shore or object.


Recognizing a lee shore and taking early action to avoid it is a skill every sailor should possess. In addition, avoiding contact with a lee shore is almost always avoidable…. that is, until its not.


A great example of a lee shore are the docks to leeward as you sail out of Harbor Sailboats. We sometimes witness a Capri 22 leave the face-dock under sail and a few minutes later they find themselves struggling to stay away off the docks while on starboard tack sailing out of the marina.


Why do sailboats lose maneuverability or struggle to stay off the dock in the example above? Often, its because the boat is “stalled” as the skipper is trying to point higher into the wind in an attempt to stay off the lee shore but instead the boat has entered the “no-sail-zone” and is sliding sideways and ends up drifting into the lee shore. (the wind is pushing you to leeward)


Lee shores should be recognized early so that a skipper can take appropriate action like tacking to get to “safe water”. That said, you may find yourselves approaching a lee shore and recognize that the boat does not have the forward momentum to tack out of the danger. In this case (assuming you have sea room) you need to get the boat moving again by falling off to gain speed and then complete your tack to safe water. We mentioned earlier that all lee shores are avoidable but if you do not recognize your situation early, you may not have the room needed to fall off to gain speed and tack. Thus, it’s extremely important to recognize the presence of a lee shore and if you’re in danger of interacting with it.


Relative to Harbor Sailboats and the Capri 22’s, it’s always best to sail yourself out of a situation like this rather than going for the outboard. When the skipper reaches for the outboard they let go of the helm, take their eyes off the surroundings, and spend valuable time trying to start the engine and usually end up worse than they were 30 seconds before that. If you have the sea room, fall off to gain speed and then tack!


Recognizing and avoiding lee shores and lee objects is also important when anchoring, avoiding channel markers, bridge pilings, passing other boats, etc. A good skipper always knows where “safe water” is and how to get there.

Navigation Rules (rules of the road)

Much like on the roads, boats follow a set of rules in order to prevent collisions. These rules identify which vessel must stay clear, but it is critical to note that nowhere in the navigation rules will you see the words right-of-way used. This is because all collisions are avoidable and even if you are the vessel that is not required to stay clear, you must take action to avoid a collision if the other boat has not.

Although very similar, it is also worth noting there are two different sets of rules. One is for vessels in inland waterways and one for international waterways. Once you cross the line of demarcation (Point Loma to Zuniga Jetty for San Diego) you are no longer in inland waters.

Most of you will know the basics but here is a more in depth look at the rules of the road.

When Two Boats Meet- Order of Stand On

Vessel Not Under Command: A vessel that has exceptional circumstance that makes her unable to maneuver.

Vessel Restricted in her Ability to Maneuver: A vessel which, from the nature of her work, is restricted in her ability to maneuver.

Vessel Constrained by Draft: a power-driven vessel, which because of her draft in relation to the available depth and width of navigable water, is severely restricted in her ability to deviate from the course she is following.

Vessel Engaged in Fishing: A commercial vessel fishing with nets, lines, trawls, or other fishing apparatus which restrict maneuverability, but does not include a vessel fishing with trolling lines or other fishing apparatus which do not restrict maneuverability.

Sailboats: Any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery, if fitted, is not being used.

Powerboat: Any vessel propelled by machinery.

Seaplane: An aircraft that is designed to maneuver on the water.

Overtaking: A vessel shall be deemed to be overtaking when coming up with another vessel from a direction more than 22.5 degrees abaft her beam.

This order of stand on means that if you are a sailboat, you give way to all the vessels listed above sailboats and stand on to those listed below you.

Need help remembering that order? Use this mnemonic.

New Rods Catch Fish So Purchase Some Often


When Two Sailboats Meet

Port/Starboard: The sailboat that is on a port tack shall give way to a sailboat that is on a starboard tack.

Same Tack: If two sailboats are approaching on the same tack, the sailboats which is to windward shall give way to the sailboats to leeward.

Remember P.O.W for sailboats meeting. Port, overtaking, and windward (on the same tack) are all the give way vessels when two sailboats meet.

When Two Powerboats Meet

Head On: When two powerboats are meeting head on, both are required to alter course to starboard in order to pass on each other’s port side.

Crossing: When two powerboats are crossing, the boat which has the other to its starboard shall keep clear. If possible, the give way boat shall not cross in front of the other vessel.

Note: A sailboat is no longer a sailboat when the engine is engaged, they are now a powerboat.

Responsibilities of Give Way and Stand on Vessels

First, vessels must always maintain a proper lookout and operate at a safe speed. Further, no rules exonerate a vessel or skipper from avoiding a collision.

 When vessels meet, the give way vessel must make an obvious and early course or speed change to keep well clear of the stand on vessel. The stand on vessel must maintain its current speed and course to allow the give way vessel to give appropriate space. If a collision is unavoidable due to the inactions of the give way vessel, the stand on vessel must take action to avoid a collision.

For some bedtime reading, purchase a copy of the navigation rules or download the PDF version here. The navigation rules are commonly referred to as the COLREGS standing for Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972.

Stay safe and have fun!

How Do Marine Engines Stay Cool?

Most marine inboard engines are fresh water cooled. Much like your car, a captive amount of freshwater (coolant) is continually circulated through a heat exchanger that maintains the engine at a temperature set by the thermostat. Usually this is between 170 and 180 degrees. Unlike your car, a marine engine does not have a radiator since there is no air flow available to cool it. So, what cools the fresh water ? The solution is to utilize the relatively cool seawater, described as raw water. The raw water is pumped from the sea to a heat exchanger tube where coils filled with fresh water (coolant) are surrounded by flowing raw water (sea water). The cold raw water is now cooling the hot fresh water that is keeping the engine from overheating.
Raw water will pass through the heat exchanger only one time before it is expelled back into the sea while the fresh water continues to recirculate. As the raw water exits the heat exchanger, it will mix with the exhaust gases in the muffler and pump out the back of the boat.
The fresh water and raw water systems have dedicated pumps, the raw water utilizing a rubber impeller and the fresh water pump using a metal impeller as not to melt. Because the raw water sometimes carries debris like kelp, eelgrass, plastic bags or even small fish, there is a filter installed between the through hull and the pump, this is known as the sea strainer. The sea strainer is usually made of clear glass or plastic so it can be checked without having to open the filter… and should be checked before starting the engine.
At the very least, upon engine startup, a prudent skipper will check that the boat is “pumping water” by visually inspecting the raw water exiting the back of the boat. It is best to inspect the flow while standing on the dock as it can be hard to see the water flow from the cockpit. Skippers should watch the water flow for at least 2-3 discharges to make sure the system stays primed and continues to pump water. While starting your engine away from the dock you still want to visually inspect the flow but also use your sense of hearing. A dry exhaust (not pumping water) is much louder than a wet exhaust and will be obvious.
Stay cool and always check to make sure you are pumping water when you start the engine and while running the engine! 

Navigation Lights at Night

As daylight savings is upon us with earlier sunsets, let us take a moment to review proper navigation lights for nighttime boating. Remember, navigation lights should be turned on 45 minutes prior to sunset, left on until 45 minutes after sunrise, and during times of limited visibility.
The most common of our navigation lights are our “running lights”. This is a red light on the port side of the boat and a green light on the starboard side that shine from the bow to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam of the boat. This creates a 112.5-degree arc on either side of the vessel. To complete a 360-degree circle, our white stern light will shine 135 degrees from the stern of the boat. This 360-degree circle means a surrounding vessel will only see one of your lights at any given point (unless they are head on) and are able to identify which side of the boat they are seeing and who is the stand on vessel in crossing situations. This sequence of lights should be used while SAILING at night.
Once the engine is turned on, we are no longer a sailboat and must display a “steaming light” to identify as such. The most common steaming light is a single white light that shines forward of the mast in a 225-degree arc. Combined with the stern light, a boat under power will now be displaying a 360-degree white light in combination with its red and green lights. This sequence of lights should be used while MOTORING at night.
To review, if we are only seeing a green light, we know this is a sailboats starboard side. If we are seeing a green light with a single white light above it, this is now a powerboat’s starboard side. Remember that a sailboat becomes a powerboat once the engine is turned on.
Lastly, a boat anchored at night shall display a 360-degree white light atop the mast. While this is not required in designated anchorages, it is highly recommended. Pro Tip: Be sure to turn off your anchor lights once you have left the anchorage and are now sailing or motoring. This happens all too often and can cause confusion to surrounding boats.

Understanding and Using Prop Walk

Have you ever pulled out of the slip and wondered why the stern is being pulled to port or starboard as you accelerate? This is called prop walk and it’s due to the rotation of the prop at lower speeds. Let’s try to understand it and learn how to use it to your advantage or how to combat it if it’s pulling you the wrong direction.
Assuming you have light wind and no current, a boat will be most affected by the turning of the prop while at lower speeds and we see this most often when backing out of the slip. Traditionally, most propellers are right handed meaning they turn clockwise when in forward and counter clockwise in reverse… but this is starting to change with the more common saildrive engines you see on new Beneteaus. It’s important to know the direction of your prop so don’t hesitate to ask the dock master before leaving the slip!
Let’s assume you’re on a HS boat in an upwind slip (on your right as you walk down the 500 dock) with a right handed prop. In this scenario, you’ll want to back out of the slip while turning the bow to starboard and pull forward out of the fairway. Since you have a right handed prop, naturally the stern will swing the correct direction making this a very easy maneuver with little rudder angle needed to turn the boat. But what if you’re on the other side of the dock? In this case the prop walk is working against you…
In order to combat the prop walk in this case, we teach students to use more rudder angle and to shift the boat into neutral (after initially gaining speed) in order to stop the prop and allow the rudder to “bite” and turn the boat. This is a more skilled docking that takes some practice but it’s amazing to see the boat turn once the prop stops spinning. It’s vital to gain speed before shifting into neutral otherwise the boat wont have any speed and will not turn (like a parked car turning its wheels… it just won’t work). Ask the dock master to do a docking with you next time you’re at the club to test this out!
As you become more familiar with prop walk, you can use it to come along side docks to bring the stern closer or further away from the dock and you can even use it to back off the dock with ease. This is a good trick at the pump out or fuel dock when the wind is pushing you against the dock!

Origin of Sailing Terms

One of the most challenging aspects of sailing is learning the language of sailing. Terms like starboard, helm, halyard, sheet have very little use in the English language yet they are extremely important while onboard a sailboat.
Here is a little history lessons with some of the terms you have come to learn while sailing.
Starboard- A ship’s “steering board” (rudder) was traditionally located on the right side of the vessel and resembled more of a paddle than today’s transom hung rudders. Today, the right side of the vessel is know as the starboard side as a reference to old steering boards.
Port- With the steering board located on the right side of the ship, a vessel needed to be tied up on the left side to load cargo as not to damage the steering board that extruded from starboard. While making port (tied to the dock) the left side of the ship became known as the port side.
Halyard- A halyard is the line that raises and lowers the sails. In the olden days, a mast was know as the “yard” and pulling the sails up was hauling them up the yard.
Tack of the Sail- The tack of the sail is the forward and lower corner of a sail. With wooden mast (or yards) the sail was literally tacked into the mast with a spike and became known as the tack.
Fathom- A fathom is a unit of measurement commonly used to describe the water depth. 1 fathom equals roughly 6 feet. When one stretches their arms out to give a hug that distance was know to be about 6 feet and the Old English word “faethm” means to embrace.
Head- The ships bathroom is refereed to as the head but in the early days the forward part of the ship was also know as the head. The toilet was typically placed in this section were crashing waves would help in the cleaning of the facilities. Today the heads location and cleaning practices have changed but the name remains.
Boom- That is the noise the boom makes when a crew member is standing in the wrong place. We made that one up but it’s a good reminder to keep everyone safe!

Anchoring Mistakes

As we find ourselves at the height of busy summer, we have witnessed some bad habits committed by the general boating community. While I was anchored in Glorieta Bay earlier this month, I watched as a lot of boaters struggled to get their anchors set properly on the first attempt. We have covered anchoring in the past but this time we want to focus on the two mistakes I noticed most boats making on this Saturday afternoon.

Initially dropping the anchor in the wrong spot (setting it where you want to end up)


Adding reverse power instead of letting the wind/current set the anchor

A boat would approach the anchorage with captain and crew all scanning the water for the best spot to anchor and once decide, they would proceed to that area. Normally this area was surrounded by boats and would have a small plot of water that could just barley accommodate their size boat. Once arrived at the chosen location, the captain would drop the anchor and watch as the boat got closer and closer to other boats as they deployed more chain. The skippers of these boats forgot that as they let out 50-60 feet of chain, they would be drifting nearly that same distance backwards and be missing their mark.

Some of the skippers corrected their mistake and deployed the anchor upwind by another 50-60 feet while others would take up half of their scope and leave themselves prone to “dragging” by now only having 30 feet of chain deployed. Inevitably, we witnessed at least 3 boats dragging anchor that afternoon.

Remember to initially deploy your anchor with enough room downwind to accommodate the amount of scope you plan to deploy!

The next mistake we saw a lot of (often in combination with the first mistake) was skippers applying reverse thrust as they lowered the anchor thinking this would set it into the bottom. While applying reserve is necessary when anchoring for an extended period, it is to be done after you have initially set the anchor using only the boats weight against the wind or current.

The correct order of events should be to pick your target anchoring position and bring the boat to a complete stop with the bow into the wind. At this point (assuming normal San Diego conditions), I will let out 1.5x the water depth and allow the boat to drift downwind until I see the anchor chain start to straighten and the bow come back into the wind (you will often end up slightly left or right of head-to-wind as you drift). After the weight of the boat puts a light strain on the anchor (the chain will straighten) I will continue to pay out chain with a pause every 10-15 seconds to allow the boat to apply more pressure on the anchor and start to set it into the mud. Repeat this process until you have come to your desired scope ratio (about 4:1 in normal conditions). Pro Tip: Every second the windlass is running you will be letting out close to 1 foot of chain; 30 seconds = 30 feet.

From here I will allow the boat to swing and pull on the anchor from the force of the wind for a minute or two. I am looking for the anchor chain to be at about a 45 degree angle from the bow. Once I know the anchor is holding under the current conditions I will head back to the helm and start applying a light amount of reverse until the chain is stretched out and the boat stops moving backwards. I am now looking at other boats, or the land, to make sure I’m not dragging. After roughly 30 seconds at 1500 rpm’s or so, I am satisfied that the anchor is set and will shift back into neutral and watch as the chain sinks causing the boat to pull forward slightly.

Skippers who were putting the boat into reverse immediately, never gave the anchor a chance to set and simply drug it along the bottom with the force of their engine.

Try these tips out next time and let us know how they worked out!

Club Member Chad Anchored Off Bora Bora During the 2019 Flotilla


Clean Bill of Health

The phrase “Clean Bill of Health” comes from the 17th century when port authorities would confirm none of a ship’s crew were suffering from a contagious disease and the ships port of departure was not know to have any contagions present. If this was not the case, the ship would be issued a “Foul Bill of Health” and be forced to quarantine under “Yellow Jack”, a solid yellow flag indicating quarantine.
Today, the solid yellow flag (Signal Flag Quebec) indicates a ship is free of disease and is requesting free pratique (permission to enter) and inspection by customs and immigration. A ship flying a yellow and black checkered flag (Signal Flag Lima) is known to have health concerns aboard and is either quarantined or warning other ships to stay away.
The club is happy to report a Clean Bill of Health and continues to offer you much needed outdoor fun in the sun and breeze! We are continuing are rigorous cleaning and disinfecting practices, curb side pick up of ships reports and dock keys, temperature screening for students and skippered charter guest, and the requiring of face covering when in the marina and on the dock.
We hope to see you soon!

The Club Is Open!

Dear Sailors,
The club is back up and running with rentals, instruction, and charters now permissible by state and local health officials. While we’re very excited about the news, certain restrictions are still in place.
It’s encouraged that you sail in small groups and with those who you have been sheltering with for the past several weeks.
The office will remain blocked to foot traffic. Members will continue to pick up ship’s reports at the front door.
Face coverings are required when approaching the office and while in the marina. Full fingered sailing gloves are recommend while onboard the boats
Big boat “Check-outs” (28′ and above) will be conducted with the dock master and skipper only. No crew are allowed on the boat until paperwork is completed and the check out is done. Please have your crew wait on the deli deck or parking lot to reduce unnecessary contact.
Overnight sleeping is only available for multiple day charters.
Students and instructors will have temperatures checked each morning and everyone is required to wear face coverings during classes.
The Capri 22 morning rental period is 9am-12pm and the afternoon period is 12pm-4pm.
Most importantly, if you are feeling ill or experiencing symptoms, please stay home.
Welcome back!

From Sand to Surf

I was born and raised in Phoenix, the center of Arizona’s “Valley of the Sun.”  How did a desert rat like myself end up being an owner in the Harbor Sailboats fleet?

Roll back the clock to summer 2017.  My long-time friend and fellow Harbor Sailboats member Paul Fleming invited me to join him for a weekend sail.  We spent two nights on Calliope and since we had such a great time, we decided to make it an annual event.  In 2018, we took out Jasmine, a Beneteau 37, for a weekend cruise.  We anchored one night in Glorietta Bay and the 2nd night in Mission Bay.  Needless to say it was amazing and at this point I was hooked!

Last year, I decided to take the next step of joining the club and took my ASA 101 class in May.  Paul and I did our annual trip last June and spent the weekend on CJ, a Beneteau 35.1.  As a new 101 graduate I was now looking at sailing in a whole new light and decided I wanted to spend a week per month in San Diego to develop my skills.  Once that decision was made, it didn’t take long for me to do the math on travel expenses, charter costs, etc. so  I sat down with Keenan and shared my goals with him.  We started working together on longer term solutions which led me eventually to purchase Kayleigh, a Beneteau 34.

I never would have taken the step of purchasing a boat had it not been for the support of Harbor Sailboats.  Not only did Keenan make the process simple, smooth and professional, but since I live in Phoenix I also know that I have a professional team taking care of Kayleigh when I’m not in town.  The “icing on the cake” is all the wonderful friends I’ve made at the club and the many great memories I’ve made so far.


We all sail for different reasons, in closing here are my top 3:


  1. Health — Being on the water brings me a sense of serenity.  I never cease to be amazed by such sights as whales, dolphins and the other sea life.  This, in turn, brings out a sense of thankfulness in me that I believe is key to keeping a positive outlook on life.  And a positive outlook is healthy!


  1. Friendship — I alluded to this above, but my world has been made better through the great people I’ve met through the club.  From instructors, staff, and fellow sailors, the journey has been amazing and there are a lot of you that I haven’t even met yet!  So I’m looking forward to that in the days ahead!


  1. Adventure — For me, sailing was a bit of a personal challenge and a stretch.  Honestly, I was a bit afraid of it, never having spent much time on the water.  By facing those misgivings, both my confidence and enjoyment have increased tremendously. Now I can’t wait for my next adventure!


So what’s on the horizon for 2020?  This year, my sailing goals are to pass my ASA 104, and to also earn my Basic Keelboat Instructor’s certification (ASA 201).  In a few years, I hope to be able to earn my Coast Guard captains license.

Marv McCarthy

S/V Sandpiper Part 1

The boat in the picture that’s grounded off Point Loma is the O’Day 37, “Sandpiper”. A nice boat with a center cockpit design and for its day, a large aft cabin.  Harbor Sailboats had three of them in the fleet at the time.

I think the year was 1983 when the club member chartered the boat and spent the weekend at San Clemente Island. In those days there was less Navy security restrictions and a decent anchorage in Pyramid Cove on the southern tip of the island. San Clemente has plenty of good fishing spots and I’m told the abalone were abundant. The distance to the Cove from San Diego is approximately 60nm and in prevailing winds the comfortable and fast point of sail was would be a tight reach on starboard tack. In the summer, the passage could be made in daylight hours making it a great weekend cruise. The crew aboard “Sandpiper” were three adult men and the teenage son of the skipper.

After a non-eventful stay, the trip home started late causing them to reach San Diego after the sun had set. I became aware of the grounding after receiving a call from the coast guard shortly after midnight. I was still a bit groggy when the voice on the other end of the phone said, “Is this the charter company”? My mind’s eye knew that at this time of day this was not going to be a pleasant conversation. The coast guard sailor said, “Good Morning sir, this is so and so from the United States Coast Guard Point Loma and I think we have one of your boats here”. I clearly remember responding and hoping this was all a bad dream, “I don’t recall there being a marina at the point”. He chuckled and gave me directions to the lighthouse. Five minutes later I was on my way not knowing what I would find.

Upon arrival to the lighthouse compound I was relieved to see all four crewmembers safe ashore wrapped in Coast Guard supplied wool blankets. There were divers in the water that had assisted the crew by swimming the anchor out to sea in order to keep the boat from drifting any closer to the beach but it was obvious the boat was bouncing on the bottom with every swell that passed under her. When her keel came down hard on the clay bottom the boat would shudder and you could see the rig pumping in a nauseating fashion.

When it was obvious there was nothing I could do at that time to mitigate any further damage to the boat, I turned my attention to the skipper of the vessel to understand how he could have got himself into such a predicament. His explanation stays with me like it was yesterday. He recounted how they had started back towards San Diego later than planned but the weather was clear and calm. He had previous experience entering the harbor at night, so he was not overly concerned. The crew prepared dinner underway enjoying some pasta, salad, and red wine. Possibly a little too much red wine. The boat was underpower making way at 6-7 knots. After the carbo-load and chianti, the adults got a little sleepy and they fell into a watch rotation of 1 up with 3 down below sleeping. It’s important to remember this was before GPS and although the vessel was equipped with Loran C and RDF (radio direction finder), neither were utilized while navigating that day. Instead, they relied solely on steering a compass course. The evening was clear and they anticipated seeing the Point Loma light well offshore given that it has a rated 22 nm range of visibility.

As the crew rotated up and down, the retiring watch would relay the proper course and the new watch would confirm the same. Somewhere that night the system broke down and instead of the compass course the final watch was told to “head for the light”.  The same light that they all had stared at for the past 3 hours. Well, you know the rest of this chapter. Like a moth to flame they headed for the light until they ran out of water.

The captain and crew had arranged for their own ride back to the marina. For this I was thankful because I didn’t I think could hold my tongue any longer. Upon leaving he pointed to the boat with pride and boasted, “You should be proud us; we got the boat anchored, pinned the bin boards in and lit the anchor light just like we were taught”.

Part 2: Getting a 16,000 boat off the beach… Stay tuned

A Message From The President Of Harbor Sailboats

March 31, 2020
To: The Members, Boat Owners and Crew of Harbor Sailboats and SailTime San Diego
From: Tom Hirsh, President
Dear All,
I have worked for, with, and on behalf of Harbor Sailboats since I was a young man of 24. Now 41 years later, I am much better suited for sailing offshore into the sunset than running a sailing club, yet surprisingly, I find myself reefed down, hove-to, riding out the biggest storm of my lifetime. The good news is our ship is sound, the crew is safe, and improving weather conditions are a certainty.
First let me thank-you all for your continued support and concern. To our members for your overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to our many temporary policy modifications, to our participating boat owners for entrusting your significant assets to our care and to the many loyal employees who have remained committed to the Harbor Sailboats goal of continual improvement, both professionally and personally.
Please Know That,
We have made the determination to retain and continue to pay ALL Harbor Sailboats employees through the duration. When we do reopen, it will be at full strength with the exceptional service that you have come to expect. We couldn’t have done this without you remaining on board with us. Thank-you all.
Our financial condition is strong and though we are keen to reopen, we will not do so without complete confidence that you will remain safe. Those of you that have been with us for a while will know that safety has always been, and will remain, our primary concern. We were early to reef, and we will be late to shake it out. This is not a race.
Opening Day 2020?
As a sailor does, we always look ahead attempting to foresee future conditions. Currently, our best-case forecast for Opening Day is May, worst case is July. The only thing we know for sure is that it will be one heck of a party this year. We will have a soft opening for member only charters with classes beginning a week or two behind.
A wait list for members seeking group instruction has been established and members with previously scheduled classes that have been delayed are wait listed by priority of their initial class date. We have a large group of instructors ready to roll and will hold as many classes as possible until the backlog subsides.
Our phones are monitored daily for messages but the best way to contact us remains emailing
I leave you with a favorite quote by Louisa May Alcott
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship”
Kyle and Tom
Harbor Island West Marina Deck
Kyle, Keenan, and Kevin
Capri 22 Dock
Keenan, Torri, Tom, Kyle, Steve, Rob, Jonathan, Erica
HS Christmas Party