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Pt. Isabel status report
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windfind



Joined: 18 Mar 1997
Posts: 817

PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 2:33 pm    Post subject: Pt. Isabel status report Reply with quote

There have been lots of complaints about the lengthy down time for the Pt. Isabel sensor. Here is some background and a status report:

Anyone who uses the NOAA/Gov sensors knows they are often down for many months e.g. Pillar Pt. and Davis Pt. Why? Professional grade sensors and sensor installation is difficult in a marine environment. That is why NOAA  sensors are down for such a long time and why they have so few near water sensors compared to iWindsurf.

The only reason our sensor network is so reliable is that normally when a failure occurs we call our local technical rep or fly someone to the location, rent a truck and equipment and fix the sensor. For a tiny company to maintain a service area that spans from Hawaii to Maine to Florida to San Diego to Baja to the Puget Sound is pretty incredible and very expensive. A glance at our home page will show you that the vast majority of our hundreds of sensors are fully operational.  It is passion for the sport and a lot of volunteer work that provides that level of reliability.

But the Pt. Isabel sensor is a different situation.  The sensor did NOT break down. OSHA basically condemned all the light standards like the one the sensor was mounted on. So all the light standards have to be replaced at the sewage plant and these are not off-shelf-items. So we have absolutely no control over when this sensor site will be available. We are making frequent calls to the manager of the plant but the reality is that windsurfing sensors simply are not a priority with them or OSHA.

To completely reinstall the sensor at a new location at Pt. Isabel is an option, but it's very time consuming and expensive. There are insurance, telephone, power, security, rent and other issues that typically take months to iron out. Despite this we have looked at several alternative sites:

1. Mud Puppies: We decided that this location would often be in a wind shadow and the wind is often lighter than on the water. If we were to
incur the expense to do a reinstallation here and the sewer plant location became available again we would be stuck with the inferior location.

2. Houses along Marina Bay: In the old days I installed a sensor on a house on the shoreline at Marina Bay right next to the stairs at the east launch. After spending much time and money we found that turbulence spoiled the reading and too often the wind was very light at Marina Bay when it was sailable from the Pt. Isabel launch so people missed the wind.

3. Old piling structure in middle of lower sailing area: This location would require an expensive wireless, solar powered sensor. Beyond expense there would be a vandalism/thief problem since it is easy to access this structure.  We would also have to rent a boat every time we had to work on the installation. Since this structure could fall down at anytime and is often on the borderline of the good wind it is not a good location. 

4. Telecommunications pier just north of the Pt. Isabel  launch:  I have jibed hundreds of times just yards from the end of this pier. It would
probably be a perfect location. So far I have not been able to identify who controls the buildings at the land end of the pier since I did not see any ID signs the last time I was there. I have asked several customers, including Andy Davis, to take a walk around and see if they can find any new signs. So far I have not heard back from any of those people.

We are trying our hardiest to deal with this situation. Remember 10 years ago when there were 3 windsurfing shops in Marin and Berkeley? How many are there now? My point is that there are not enough customers sailing at Larkspur, Pt. Isabel for those shops to survive. The Pt. Isabel sensor does not make anywhere near enough money to cover our costs.  In part it is our desire to serve appreciative customers that
keeps us going in the East Bay.

We have 2 technicians ready to fly into the Bay and do the install. The second we get the word from the sewage plant that they have their light standards back up we will have our guys out there installing a sensor. We are also working with the sewage plant to develop some temporary solution but since it is not our property we have to be patient.

Common sense tells you that the forecasts for Pt. Isabel will be not very accurate when the forecasters do not have any way to verify the accuracy of the previous forecast. So the forecast staff are the loudest complainers about the lack of a sensor.

Thanks
Mike Godsey
mike@iwindsurf.com
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windsrf



Joined: 01 May 1998
Posts: 182

PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike,
Thoughtful response to difficult situation. However, you lost me with the following comments:

" The Pt. Isabel sensor does not make anywhere near enough money to cover our costs. In part it is our desire to serve appreciative customers that keeps us going in the East Bay."

I'm curious as to how a sensor in and of itself makes money? Maybe you track the hits for that site and compare to clicked on popup ads or something? Or maybe someone is surveying number of actual sailors each day at each site (but I doubt it)? It also sounds as though East Bay sailing is somehow not doing well? Given the number of Marin sailors who regularly cross over, is Marin doing even worse?

Better determination of value might be the overall customer service for Bay Area sailors? Isabel would be VERY crowded/popular if calibrated sensor showed it had good wind and other East Bay locales didn't. And that's not to imply that I find Berkeley that different so that I would always sail one or the other given similar wind.

I'm also not sure concern re vandalism of a pier-mounted remote sensor is that valid, given you can't walk to the piling and few fishermen enter that bay with boats (from my experience sailing there). It might actually be better sensor location than any shore spot, particularly for encompassing the "whole Isabel Bay" experience.
David US212
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windoggie



Joined: 22 Feb 2002
Posts: 2407

PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, in other words, don't hold your breath.
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andydavis



Joined: 11 Apr 1999
Posts: 268
Location: Point Isabel

PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

how about the EBMUD storm water facility...we certainly know who owns that
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windfind



Joined: 18 Mar 1997
Posts: 817

PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David,

Thanks for the input. We can monitor the past usage of the Pt. Isabel sensor by the number of requests for wind information. Compared to most other sites in the Bay the Pt. Isabel sensor does not get much usage. For complex reasons related to the average marine layer depth Larkspur and Pt. Isabel do not get wind as often as they did, say, 12 years ago when both sides of the road at Larkspur were jammed on decent days.

Vandalism of a solar & battery powered system on the low piling structure on the edge of the wind zone is a real concern. During the non-windy season these are good sturgeon grounds and boats troll these waters and an easy accessible solar panel, deep cycle battery and weather station would make desirable and easy pickings. The other issue is that we have no clue who owns this structure or how to contact them.

Windoggie,
Hold your breath a bit longer. We are flying in Jeff from the east coast and Stuart from Oregon in August to meet with the people at the sewage plant to put more pressure on them to get even a temporary sensor going. But they are employes of the city and as such they do not take any risks w/o approval of higher officials.

Andy,

Thanks for the useful input. Tell me about the EBMUD storm water facility. Does it have a clear shot at the Pt. Isabel wind? Can you send a google earth image of it's locastion? Can someone please check out the telecommunications pier just south of the Pt. Isabel launch?

Mike Godsey
mike@iwindsurf.com
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wyndryder



Joined: 28 Mar 1999
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike,

It should not be that hard to find the owner of the telecommunications pier. Although I don't have the time to do it myself, someone should check with the City Of Richmond (clerk?) and that information should be readily available.

I would argue that both remedial to the current crisis and the long term, the pier is the best place for the sensor. The pilings in the water in the lower half would best represent the whole cove wind. I'm sure there is a clever way to lock the solar batteries, but I think your point about the pilings stability over time is a better argument not to do them.

Finally, you can't measure revenue purely on Pt. Isabel. How many of us *only* sail there? Answer: no one. Do many of us prefer it it? Answer: yes. No one site can be measured vis-a-vis each sailor unless you change the service to be site specific (and obviously that is not recommended).

A few years ago I gave up on the page and went with Wendy instead because the pager, even when it was working, was not calibrated right somehow. The loss of the sensor this year does not affect me as I drive by returning from work everyday and only live 15 mins away so checking on Sat/Sun is not an issue.

But, and I don't think I am alone, I will purchase the pager service again if: 1) We don't have to wait 3 months to get some effort to deal with Pt. Isabel downtimes (I hate the way iWindsurf ignored email and telephone over the matter!!!) and 2) we figure out a better way to calibrate (i.e. calling in to say it is 20 when it reads 15 and vice versa is both unscientific and silly at the same time).

Rob->
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windsrf



Joined: 01 May 1998
Posts: 182

PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike (& Rob),
Thanks for reply. Appears we are making progress and comments are becoming increasingly substantive/productive.
I've just called City of Richmond and was put thru to VM of Cecily McMann who is involved with Richmond TV station. If she doesn't know who controls those towers, I'll try again. I agree this shouldn't be that hard to investigate, and I do have the time.
PI sensor is VERY useful to me. It helps me decide between Berkeley and PI and saves driving/gas. There are definitely days when it's blowing only at one or the other. Also anything that keeps cars off I80/I580 is helpful to us all!
David
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windsrf



Joined: 01 May 1998
Posts: 182

PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike,
Isabel Sensor Update: After being bounced from City of Richmond to East Bay Regional Parks and then back to City of R., it appears clear that Richmond is in control. No one seems too cognizant of the existing situation, but I guess that's life in the fast lanes of government service.
In any case, I took today's wind opportunity of 20's at Pt. Potrero to return to Isabel and walk the site. Found signs indicating KNEW is the radio station of record. Also, clear that locating sensor around those towers/piers would be far superior to current EMMUD Waste Treatment site. If I can attach photos, I'll do so (apparently can only attach one photo - I'll email you the rest).
Richmond Public Works guy is now on this and expects to respond to me shortly, but I will independently follow up with KNEW staff tomorrow. I'm sure they will have all sorts of "hazard" issues re radio tower/pier access, but maybe you've had experience with locating sensors at such sites?
P.S. Turns out that even SSW Pt Potrero winds are enough to preclude accessing the Jetty (needs to be pure S wind), although lots of kiters were over there - guess they go upwind better? OTOH, I had quite nice sesh in the main Isabel Bay on my Mike's Lab/5.8 combo.
More later -- David US212



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windfind



Joined: 18 Mar 1997
Posts: 817

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 12:19 pm    Post subject: Pier location contact info. Reply with quote

Hi Guys,

Thanks for all the info. I have contact info. for Clear Channel Communications the very large corporation that owns many radio stations etc. and owns the pier. Our experience is that dealing with large remote corporations is that they care little about windsurfing sensors. It might take weeks to months to get them to respond and then there are issues like rent, insurance, access, power, phone lines that have to be ironed out before we can do an installation.

Right now we are getting more positive word from the sewage plant. So we are proceeding on getting the current sensor operational. Stuart and Jeff should be there in early August to look at the install options. I will be checking out the pier more carefully Friday when I am in the East Bay.

Mike Godsey
mike@iwindsurf.com
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koogzah



Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 488
Location: right here

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:27 pm    Post subject: I like option #3 Reply with quote

...for what it's worth. Mike, it seems to me that you guys already have plenty of remote sensors on bouys and fixed markers in the Bay area that are just as vulnerable to vandals/thieves, so not sure why this one would be such a problem. Can you elaborate?
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