The Really Big One

“An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.” A thought provoking article from the New Yorker on the Cascadia subduction zone and the consequences when it finally, and according to the article inevitably, moves again.

 The next full-margin rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone will spell the worst natural disaster in the history of the continent.

The next full-margin rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone will spell the worst natural disaster in the history of the continent.

When the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck Tohoku, Japan, Chris Goldfinger was two hundred miles away, in the city of Kashiwa, at an international meeting on seismology. As the shaking started, everyone in the room began to laugh. Earthquakes are common in Japan—that one was the third of the week—and the participants were, after all, at a seismology conference. Then everyone in the room checked the time.

Seismologists know that how long an earthquake lasts is a decent proxy for its magnitude. The 1989 earthquake in Loma Prieta, California, which killed sixty-three people and caused six billion dollars’ worth of damage, lasted about fifteen seconds and had a magnitude of 6.9. A thirty-second earthquake generally has a magnitude in the mid-sevens. A minute-long quake is in the high sevens, a two-minute quake has entered the eights, and a three-minute quake is in the high eights. By four minutes, an earthquake has hit magnitude 9.0.

When Goldfinger looked at his watch, it was quarter to three. The conference was wrapping up for the day. He was thinking about sushi. The speaker at the lectern was wondering if he should carry on with his talk. The earthquake was not particularly strong. Then it ticked past the sixty-second mark, making it longer than the others that week. The shaking intensified. The seats in the conference room were small plastic desks with wheels. Goldfinger, who is tall and solidly built, thought, No way am I crouching under one of those for cover. At a minute and a half, everyone in the room got up and went outside.

story continues here

By |2015-07-15T07:20:25-07:00July 15th, 2015|Safety|0 Comments

Columbia River Man Overboard

Coast Guard image

Coast Guard image

A post by John Selwyn Gilbert on Scuttlebutt.

I was knocked overboard – at dusk – about 25 years ago in the Governor’s Cup on the Chesapeake Bay when the J/35 I was racing death-rolled to weather while I was trimming the spinnaker. As soon as I hit the water, I knew the boom was coming down and I actually pushed myself as far under as I could to avoid it. When I came up, the boat was already far away from me.

I initially tried to swim to the buoy they threw, but realized there was no way I could catch up with it heading downwind in 25+ knots of breeze. What really helped was actively telling myself, “Don’t panic, just float with the breeze & current. They will be back to get me.” It really did seem like an eternity (It was less than 7 minutes, I think) but they did make it back and my firefighter/EMT bowman pulled me back on board. I couldn’t lift my arms for hours – I was exhausted.

By |2015-06-30T17:05:52-07:00June 30th, 2015|Racing Skills, Safety, Uncategorized|0 Comments

High winds cancel White-cap race – again

After a light and variable morning the wind began to rise rapidly around midday.  When the Race Committee decided to cancel in late afternoon the wind at the ferry dock was southerly, averaging high 30’s and gusting over 50 mph, making the decision easy, even though an official Gale Warning had not been issued.  The Bay was a mass of whitecaps with breaking rollers across the Boat Haven entrance (it was low tide) making exit difficult.  Ironically, around race time the wind suddenly switched to a Westerly and dropped below 10 kts., making the RC feel foolish.  However this was only temporary and after an hour or so the wind went back to the South and built back up to the low 20’s with gusts to 30 mph.  Let’s hope for more amenable conditions next Friday.

By |2015-04-10T22:53:47-07:00April 10th, 2015|Race Cancellation, Safety|0 Comments

Think It Can’t Happen to You? Think Again…

The PTSA continues to encourage all members to think safety and practice a man overboard rescue before they actually experience one. Here’s retired Coast Gaurd swimmer and safety trainer Mario Vittone’s comments on the above rescue from his Facebook page.

A very telling video about drowning and victim recovery. A distressed swimmer usually cannot reach for flotation. Close isn’t good enough. Also, they will rarely hold on to line without flotation attached. Grabbing the rope means submersion and they let go. Victim #2 came very close to drowning. (25661 crew – what did you learn? Flotation first!).

By |2014-08-10T13:23:33-07:00August 11th, 2014|Racing Skills, Safety|0 Comments

New Equipment / Skill Requirements for Sailboat Racing

So effective March 1st this year there is revised equipment / training requirements, if you venture outside our bay you may run into a club with the checklist below, such as the Swiftsure, Round The County, and other events. Might be a good idea to print out this information and have it around so you can run thru the list before you get inspected. Click the link below to open the file.

Hope you all are getting ready for the Shipwrights Regatta on February 22nd!

By |2014-01-28T15:42:49-08:00January 28th, 2014|Racing on the Bay, Racing out of the Bay, Racing Skills, Safety|0 Comments



Win a Lifesling by practicing two MOB drills

Boating safety is a concern to all sailors and in an effort to promote safety; the PTSA is encouraging the entire fleet to practice man-over-board drills.

During the spring and summer race series all boats which complete the man-over-board drills and watch the LIFESLING video will be eligible to win a new LIFESLING (value $150, compliments of PTSA and West Marine)

Of the two drills, the skipper can be at the helm during one of the retrievals. The second drill should be run by a member of the crew. It is recommended that all members of the crew watch the video prior to the drill.

For the drill, if you don’t have a LIFESLING, please contact Ed Edwards at (360) 301-1386 to arrange a loaner.

Experience has shown that physically getting the victim back on board can be the most difficult and hazardous part of the drill. Each boat and crew will need to develop their own boat specific procedure.

If you don’t have a willing victim to jump into the water, we do have several volunteers who are available. Contact Ed Edwards at (360) 301-1386 to make arrangements. Upon completion of watching the video and completing two drills (live victim not mandatory), contact Ed to enter the drawing for the LIFESLING. The drawing will be after the summer Cats Paw Series.

The LIFESLING video can be seen through the link at our web site or on You Tube here. The best video is the “LIFESLING 2011” by the Sailing Foundation.

On the behalf of PTSA, always think safety.

By |2013-04-23T08:29:01-07:00April 22nd, 2013|Safety|0 Comments

Providing GPS Data to DSC VHF Radios

The DSC (Digital Selective Calling)  “panic button” is one of the more important safety innovations in the last few years. Pressing the button for 5 seconds will send an automated mayday call to all nearby DSC radios.   The mayday message will sound an alarm on other boat’s radio and then show the position of the distressed vessel. The mayday message will also interrupt any conversations occurring on any receiving radios.  The Coast Guard automatically sees and records the message.  The fact that the GPS coordinates do not have to be relayed over voice is quite an innovation.   There are also many times when the crew of a distressed vessel may not be able to spend a prolonged time on the radio.

Many boats do not have GPS data supplied to their  DSC VHF radio.  The wiring required to share the data between a GPS device and the VHF unit is fairly straightforward. The blog Aboard Astrea gives a simple primer on the subject here.

ICom has produced a short video explaining DSC.

By |2013-04-16T08:19:34-07:00April 16th, 2013|Safety|0 Comments

Cold Water Shock and Drowning



Dr. Kent Benedict gave a talk on cold water shock and drowning at a recent U.S. Sailing Safety at Sea seminar in the Bay Area. Like many of the talks at the seminar, the topic was presented in light of the tragic race drownings in California last year. Dr. Benedict related that all of the Low Speed Chase deaths at the Farallone Islands were caused by drowning, not by trauma or hypothermia. This drowning was probably initiated by cold water shock. When suddenly submerged in cold water, the body will start an uncontrollable gasping reflex for 10 to 30 seconds. If the victim is below water, this gasping can easily induce drowning. Large waves, being caught by gear or inadequate floatation might hold a victim underwater during this period. It is extremely important that boaters wear properly approved PFDs in cold water areas.

The PDF of the presentation can be found here.


By |2013-04-13T08:36:09-07:00April 12th, 2013|Safety|0 Comments