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Old Jun 17, 2011, 01:23 PM
Todd Fleury
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United States, MI, Birmingham
Joined Jun 2011
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Lake Merced, San Francisco, CA

Has anyone tried running high speed boats on Lake Merced? I am looking into contacting Parks and Rec in SF and trying to work out a deal with them. It would be nice to have a Boat Club in San Francisco.
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Old Jun 17, 2011, 01:40 PM
Veni, Vidi, Feci
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Ummm... www.sfmyc.org... they do go-fast too.


Any relation to Jean-luc Fleury of the LA area?
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Old Jun 17, 2011, 01:48 PM
Todd Fleury
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United States, MI, Birmingham
Joined Jun 2011
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No relation. Originally from the Detroit Area. Move to SF 5 years ago. I have looked at SFMYC, and although they do allow nitro and gas boats, there is a "speed limit". Essentially what I would like to do is get a NAMBA district 9 club together in San Francisco. The only club in the bay area that runs high speed is in Fremont and it is exceptionally far for me due to transportation.
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Old Jun 17, 2011, 03:01 PM
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Sport 40 II You are going to have a problem using Lake Merced, the gun club will object and the boat rental group will complain. In the past there was two Namba Clubs in SF, SFMYC being one of them. Suffice to say it became a non-issue as the Go-Fastee guys moved on to Lakes that were more suited for your type boat. Spreckles is a bit small for Gas-oil and nitro, and most of us moved on the Scale Stuff. The speed limit is a City requirement and figure it will play into any venue the City Folks have under their purview.
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Old Jun 17, 2011, 03:11 PM
Todd Fleury
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United States, MI, Birmingham
Joined Jun 2011
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Thanks CaptLee. That was the most informative answer I have been able to get. Did not know the City created the speed limit. Weird that they did though considering NAMBA insures its members as long as they are following NAMBA rules. But who am I to say. Going to head out to Spreckels on Saturday morning to see what boats are out there. Still waiting for my hydro to be finished. New paint job, motor etc. Would do it myself, but no time. Too busy with work and building websites.
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Old Jun 18, 2011, 05:01 AM
Spreckels Lake, GGP, SF, CA
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Talk with the Spreckels "Irregulars" on Saturday mornings, particularly Ken Johnson, John Gaddis and Julio (racer59 on RCGroups). Almost all are gas boaters and/or racers and use Spreckels much, much more frequently, nearly daily, and heavily than the SFMYC Rower Squadron.

Talk with Ken about Lake Merced as I know that he has tried to get the gas boats a running area out there as well in the past but, as I recall him telling me, it got shot down for some reason, noise probably. But at the time, I do not think there were any issues with the gun club as they were looking for people to use their space so they could justify hanging onto it. Ken can tell you more.

Gas fueled boats of any type are restricted by Park & Rec rules to only running between 10:00 to 13:00hrs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. For more on the rules for the Lake... starting about post #442.


The Spreckels "Irregulars"


Ken Johnson (foreground) and John Gaddis


Julio / Racer59
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Old Jul 07, 2011, 02:54 AM
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Hi Sport 40,
Julio here. As far as I know running gas/nitro at lake merced, We cannot run any internal combustion motor at Lake Merced. I have tried and ran my big gas hydros there several times and was fortunate not to get caught. The lake is huge so in case you try running there, be prepare to have a retreival boat. Several times that I tried to run again, it was windy and the waves are huge. Besides that, there are competition kayaks that practice pretty much in the afternoon so that will pretty much kill your plan to run. That is both on the north side and the south.
The north side is calmer and closer to the parking lot but you have to battle the fishermen having their time at the lake. We had tried running there several times.
As far as Spreckels lake, I run gas and electric there. Make sure the boat is fully muffled and practice safety running as there is no barrier around the lake so watch out for the
people walking alongside the lake. I had seen a fellow boater's boat went out of control
hitting a person walking alongside the lake. Not a very good site.
Come down and have a great time.
Julio.
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Old Jul 07, 2011, 12:26 PM
Todd Fleury
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United States, MI, Birmingham
Joined Jun 2011
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Hey Julio,

Yeah, I have been out to Spreckels twice now. I was the one with the little dog that like to jump into the water. I was just wondering as it would be cool to host a NAMBA race somewhere close to the city. Also have a race club that is not so complicated to join so everyone can get into racing. Lake Merced is huge, and thought that would be a viable option, but I can't get a response from anyone so I will have to work on the Fremont site.

Todd
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Old Jul 07, 2011, 08:03 PM
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Sport 40 The Go-Fastee club was the San Francisco Model Boaters, faded away in the 90's, but never found a area to host a Namba race in the area. They were the reason the City wrote the restrictions, to keep them from running a contest. I fail to see that the SFMYC is hard to join, but if you want representation on the lake you have to step up. otherwise it is go run with the Fremont bunch and you have to join them to get runnung rights on their pond.
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Old Jul 09, 2011, 12:49 AM
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I was at Spreckels last Sunday for the Day of Gray, as the Western Warship Combat Club went up to join the SFMYC. I was chatting with one of the police officers that wandered by, and he said he had seen one of the speed boats from the pond come out and break an older woman's leg when it hit her, and other boats that had gone flying over the road and landed in the island where the road splits off. I would guess the liability is one reason for the speed limit.
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Old Jul 09, 2011, 01:21 AM
Spreckels Lake, GGP, SF, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptLee View Post
Sport 40 The Go-Fastee club was the San Francisco Model Boaters, faded away in the 90's, but never found a area to host a Namba race in the area. They were the reason the City wrote the restrictions, to keep them from running a contest. I fail to see that the SFMYC is hard to join, but if you want representation on the lake you have to step up. otherwise it is go run with the Fremont bunch and you have to join them to get running rights on their pond.
Errr.. ???? Let's never forget that the preeminent (and only) "go-fastie" club in San Francisco was the SFMYC for nearly three-quarters of a century. The tether pole for high speed tether boats used to be out in the lake just under the surface. That some in the Club are trying desperately to scratch the dirt over that minor historic detail is beside the point. And lets not try to deny that there has always been hostility towards power boats in general by certain people and factions within the club. Hostility that, if what you and some of the others in the club have told me, culminated with the entire Power Squadron being booted out of the club during the 90's with the two squadrons only coming back together about seven or eight years ago.

The hostility toward power boaters in general (not just gas) has NOT gone away... as some of the conversations I have had with some of the members has proved to me. I don''t like getting yelled at because I take the position that:
  1. the Club should be inclusive. It should be for and represent all the modelers who operate on the lake and
  2. throwing the gas modelers under the bus only means that we will all hang separately, eventually.

The whole recent "Open Waters" controversy within the club is a case in point and was brought about by members hostile to power boating trying to impose their will by yelling at and harassing other members of the club in addition to members of the public using the lake. More than one person has resigned from the club over the years because of their treatment by the Club and its "Powers-That-Be."

The following is based on what I have been told by club officers, older members who I knew and respected (but who have passed) as well as being there watching the "fun" in the 70s and 80s (and i didn't even get the tshirt!).

1) Regulations restricting the gas boats and powered boats in general have been on the Lake for a long time, The rules restricting powered boats to certain hours and the north side of the lake go back, at least, to the 60's and possibly the 50's, the Club's own rules go back even further, of course.

2)The first rules to restrict gas boats were made so the free-sailors could have time on the lake all to themselves. Later, the rules would be re-enforced by the need to avoid frequency conflicts between two groups that congregated on and used different sides of the lake and with the exception of modelers that owned both types of boats, the two squadrons rarely talked, interacted less and were, at least for certain influential members on the sail side, openly hostile.

3) Rec and Parks rules in the 70's (when I started paying dues) were merely a legal enshrinement of the then Club rules and traditions as the ol' mossback sign which dates from at least 1970 or before reminds us.

ol' Mossback

The ‘Happy Days’ ended with ‘the accident’ when and the club and its members discovered the ‘insurance’ we had been paying for was a scam. Some of the Clubs leadership began circulating rumors and scaring the membership and were able to ram new restrictive rules covering gas boats. Since only a few of the modelers in the Club at the time was running high-speed as boats it was generally stated that the rules were really not to cover club members but to provide political cover and distance the club itself form “irresponsible boaters from elsewhere” who used the lake. (The detail that you cannot force club rules on non-members/members of the public was crushed loudly at the meeting this was voted on.)

A bit later, Rec and Park apparently adopted these rules for the lake. Some of the same people took to taking credit for getting the “new” speed and noise rules pushed through Rec and Park and that the rules would drive soon the gas boats, particularly the 'go-fasties,' from the lake.


The Current Rec &
Park Regs. Sign

That there is a quasi-official position banning club members from owning or running fast boats of any type on the lake is generally accepted. That people who do own gas or fast boats have been referred to as scofflaws, irresponsible, thugs and other less charming epithets is also true. There is still a schism within the club and at the Lakeside, the Irregulars probably wouldn't exist otherwise. I look at the Irregulars and I see the Power Squadron of yesteryear. The Club is almost never represented out on the Lake on weekends with power boats, it's always the sail squadron. The only time I ever see the club's power boaters out on the water is during contests, and then only the same few. The Irregular guys are out, on the water, every weekend, usually both days, and almost every day - like the OLD power squadron was in the OLD days. And notice, most do NOT play with the club when we have contests, they set up off to the side and do their own thing.

Ok, things are changing a bit thankfully and a couple of the Irregulars have joined or rejoined the club, so things have improved since the Open Waters Policy was instituted but I think we still have a long way to go.

Twain said that while History does not repeat herself, she sure does rhyme a lot...

Those that do not know their pasts are doomed to repeat them. That we have deniers in the club does not change our past, just makes it almost certain that we will repeat our worst mistakes and continue the rancor and division.

I do agree on this point, join the Club immediately and get active in the Club! The more folks that participate in the SFMYC and in it's Power Squadron the better. And here I am speaking not just in the sense that there will be better representation for the power people within the Club. Currently, one of the issues facing the power squadron is that it has dropped below some point of critical mass. If we can get enough people actively participating, maybe, hopefully, we can start having the kind of active, participatory and thriving model boating community that we used to have again, because honestly, it was a lot of fun and it really was a community of builders, owners, designers and skippers that centered around the Lake and our hobby.

ps. I bet you guys didn't know that they used to run "mini-thunderboat" races out on the North Lake of Lake Merced and I do not mean models. I remember seeing small crackerboxes, the little mini-hydro outboards and others on the water as a kid and later in high school! So there is a history of having gas boats and gas boat racing on Lake Merced. Also, one of the things I have heard mentioned is you cannot run boats on Merced as it is drinking water - not so though historically it was, when the lake and surrounding watershed was owned by Spring Valley Water Company before Hetch Hetchy came on line. Lake Merced's waters are considered a source for emergency firefighting and sanitation uses only, not drinking water. There is probably no health reason for keeping and model boats off the waters of Lake Merced. I heard but cannot remember from who or where, that the Pacific Rod and Gun Club might be amenable to models on their range area when they aren't shooting.
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Old Jul 09, 2011, 11:56 AM
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Craig there is a similar schism between Harley (cruiser) riders and other motorcycle riders.

I think there is a tendancy for those in both hobbies to lean towards promoting -not just the subcategory THEY enjoy- the category that is less in conflict with the general public who sometimes view gas boats/ harleys as nuisances- especially when they are trying to sleep in.
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Old Jul 11, 2011, 12:14 PM
Todd Fleury
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United States, MI, Birmingham
Joined Jun 2011
110 Posts
I apologize for any inconvenience for even bringing up Lake Merced. That was not my intention. I just wanted a place where the "go fasties" have a place to host an event other than Fremont. I have contacted a number of people in Parks and Rec as well as the City, in hopes of finding out how to go about it legally.
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Old Jul 11, 2011, 12:16 PM
Todd Fleury
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United States, MI, Birmingham
Joined Jun 2011
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I actually brought out my boat last Saturday to break in the new motor, and really enjoy my time there and the company of the guys that do make it out during 10 - 1. But just as I said, my intentions are only good.
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Old Jul 12, 2011, 06:40 AM
Spreckels Lake, GGP, SF, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sport 40 II View Post
I apologize for any inconvenience for even bringing up Lake Merced. That was not my intention. I just wanted a place where the "go fasties" have a place to host an event other than Fremont. I have contacted a number of people in Parks and Rec as well as the City, in hopes of finding out how to go about it legally.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sport 40 II View Post
I actually brought out my boat last Saturday to break in the new motor, and really enjoy my time there and the company of the guys that do make it out during 10 - 1. But just as I said, my intentions are only good.

Todd...

No need to apologize, you just asked questions... there is no such thing as a stupid question nor are you the first to kick this particular hornets nest. I would again suggest you talk with Ken Johnson (see picture above), as, if I recall correctly, he's been down the path to look at Lake Merced before and maybe able to answer some of your questions. Maybe you can get something to happen with Merced this time around; here is hoping!

Also, as CaptLee said...
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptLee View Post
<clip>... if you want representation on the lake you have to step up.<clip>
So join, It's only $30/year and a one time $10 initiation/processing fee. The more; the merrier!

Many of folks from the old days who ran fast gas, like Pat Alessandro, who, if memory serves me correctly, was both an officer of the SFMYC and one the the driving forces of the SF Model Boaters (mainly gas boaters, now gone) have passed. So much of the local "institutional" memory of that side of the hobby is going or gone.

Gas and steam powered boats have been running on the lake as far back as the 1900's but the thing that worries folks I know is the heavy gas speed-competitive boat and the control issues that it brings. Understand, I am not against reasonable limits on some of the boats on Spreckles lake... On a lake that measures (approximately) 1000 x 500 feet (IIRC), competitive 60mph or better boats that weigh 20 or 30 pounds are an unreasonable risk if there is mechanical, radio or other control failure, especially if there is no "kill switch," not to mention loud, speed-tuned pipes rather than mufflers in urban settings which has been an issue all they way back to the late 40's and the days of tether boats.

Given all that, I'd really like to see if something could be developed over, probably, on South Lake Merced where there is adequate room and soft bottom beaches or heavy reeds that will slow and catch a any runaways.

Anyway, lookin' forward to seeing you out at Lakeside in the future and, hopefully, in meetings as well.
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