Photo by Jim Hancock
Sailing Science Center News
April 2022
Vol. 5, No. 8
Welcome to the April issue of the Sailing Science Center News! This month's theme is Planet Earth, in honor of Earth Day on April 22nd. It is usually a good practice to attend to the things that are most important to us, but sometimes we need to be reminded what those things are. The Earth is our home, the atmosphere its lungs, and the ocean its blood. We cannot be healthy without a healthy planet.
The biggest threat to our planet is thinking someone else will save it.
― Robert Swan
Volunteer Spotlight - Preston Thomas
Preston Thomas Head Shot
From Eagle Scout, to Lawyer, to Lockpicker, Preston Thomas is one of the most interesting and creative members of the SSC Volunteer Corps. Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Preston came to California with his parents and identical twin brother at an early age. He grew up in landlocked Roseville, midway between Sacramento and the Sierra foothills, where he marched in the school band, shot archery, and worked on Eagle Scout Merit Badges, but with nary a dinghy, sloop, nor ketch in the picture.
If somebody carries a knife and knows knots, I'm halfway to sussing them out as an Eagle Scout.
Hands in Multiple Sets of Handcuffs
He started his advanced education in a Great Books Program at St. Mary’s College, in Moraga, ranging from Euclidean Geometry to Philosophy to Ancient Greek. In his junior year he transferred to UC Davis, switching to a more contemporary but equally esoteric Psychology degree, emphasizing cognitive neuroscience. After graduating with a BA, Preston took a year to deliberate on going to law school, during which time he worked in a good French restaurant and a bad law firm, saying about the latter, “Learning to spot red flags is an incredibly valuable skill.”
He chose to attend law school at Catholic University of America, in Washington DC, focusing on telecommunications law. Demand for young lawyers was low when Preston graduated, so he took a job as a Data Security Analyst for IBM.
Seeking an inexpensive hobby that would fit in his apartment, Preston learned about Lockpicking and Locksport, the recreational field of lockpicking. Preston says he enjoys sharing and teaching it, and that it has a little magic to it. He ended up founding the Washington DC chapter of The Open Organization Of Lockpickers (TOOOL), giving presentations at the Pentagon, the White House, and the National Spy Museum.
Learning to spot red flags is an incredibly valuable skill.
A year into his employment at IBM, as he was thinking it was time for a change, the universe smiled on Preston when a former professor called to ask if he knew about satellite law. This took him to a law firm, Squire Sanders, while keeping him in DC. But his department head soon left, taking Preston with him to Jones Day, where he stayed until coming to the Bay Area three years ago to work as a privacy lawyer for Dialpad. Only the second lawyer in the firm, Dialpad has tripled in size since Preston’s arrival, and he is now the longest-tenured member of their legal team.
Photo courtesy of
Schooner American Spirit
While he was in DC, Preston discovered sailing, securing a volunteer deckhand position on the American Spirit, a 65-foot schooner on the Potomac. Having learned a second place where people carry knives and can tie knots, Preston quickly found boats to crew on after coming to San Francisco. We met Preston while he was searching for a crewing position, at the March 2020 Latitude 38 Crew List Party. Preston’s most active SSC involvement has been on the Exhibits Team where he has made innovative contributions like the compass rose stencil described below. We are delighted to have you on the Team, Preston!
Volunteer Events
Treasure Island Museum Presentation
Dan Pruzan demonstrating the Land Yacht Table
Our volunteer event for March was the SSC's presentation and mini-exhibition on March 26th, done in partnership with the Treasure Island Museum. Our volunteers set up four exhibits, including our newest exhibit, called Making Waves!

We used the event to celebrate the SSC's 5th birthday with cake and prizes. See the video for a 56-second replay.
Video by Ros de Vries
Replay of the SSC's March 26 presentation at the Treasure Island Museum (0:56).
Photo & Video by Ros de Vries

Making Waves, The SSC's newest exhibit (video 0:15), was debuted at the March 26 presentation for the Treasure Island Museum. The ways in which this simple exhibit can be used, and the learning opportunities it creates, are extensive. See how waves travel. See how waves break. See what a boat does in waves. See what happens at the beach. And so on...

Science Corner
Finding True North
Traditional and Modern Compass Roses Side by Side
Woman scratching her head
In a nod to Earth Day on April 22nd, we look at the compass rose, its orientation to the Earth, and its relationship to the Earth's magnetic field.

The first compass rose appeared on a harbor chart in 1375. In addition to its four cardinal points (north, south, east, and west), there were four ordinal points (northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest). As designs evolved, inter-cardinal points were added, eventually leading to thirty-two points at intervals of 11.25°.

The compass rose on a modern nautical chart is divided into 360°. It has a star at the top, symbolizing the North Star and True North, and an inner rose oriented to magnetic north. The inner ring is graduated in degrees on the outside and in points and quarter-points on the inside. The difference between True North and Magnetic North—the magnetic variation—is written in the middle, as is its annual change.

SSC volunteer, Preston Thomas, is creating a stencil that can be used to introduce these concepts by laying down a temporary compass rose on a parking lot or playground when we set up for exhibitions. Check future issues of this newsletter for pictures of Preston's stencil.
Go Green. There is no Planet B.
SSC Podcast - Charlie Walther: Green Marine
Podcast produced by Charlie Deist

On March 11th we interviewed Charlie Walther, Cal Maritime graduate, Chief Engineer for the new Hydrus Class ferries, and engineering coordinator for the Matthew Turner and its hybrid-electric propulsion system. We were delighted to be able to interview with Charlie for this Earth Day issue of the newsletter due to his expertise in marine-related green-tech. See the video (49:25)
Small Stuff
International Ocean Film Festival
April 7-10 is the 19th Annual International Ocean Film Festival at Fort Mason Center. Click here for more information.
National Volunteer Week
April 18-24 is National Volunteer Week. Have you volunteered lately? Get involved! Click here to volunteer for the SSC.
Earth Day
April 22nd is Earth Day. Do something good for the planet. Come to the Bay Model in Sausalito on April 23 for the SSC's Earth Day Exhibition.
Let every breath, every word, every step, make the Mother Earth proud of us.
― Amit Ray, author
This Month's Newsletter Banner
A mother walks with her children on South Shore Beach in Alameda. The scene evokes thoughts of Mother Earth and the life sustenance the Earth and sea provide.

Meanwhile, the waves rolling in remind us of the sailor's experience. It is something we explore with the new Making Waves exhibit.
A Woman Walking on a Beach with Her Children
Photo by Jim Hancock
Wanted for the Sailing Science Center
SSC Logo - Light Background
Do you have photos to share? The SSC is looking for great shots to use on our website, our newsletter banner, and elsewhere. Photographer attribution will be given.

The SSC needs all manner of volunteers, but especially volunteers who can staff one-day, pop-up exhibitions as docents. Training, lunch, and SSC logo polo shirts are provided. We are currently holding events at the approximate rate of one per month. This is planned to increase as we assemble multiple exhibition teams.

Direct your inquiries to
Small Stuff
Man scanning the horizon with binoculars
On the Horizon
Here is the schedule for the next few months. Check our online calendar for the latest information.

Apr 23 - Pop-up exhibition at Call of the Sea.

May 21 - Vallejo Marina Parking Lot Exhibition.

June 18 - Summer Sailstice Exhibition at the Oakland Yacht Club.
Move the Needle!
These are things YOU can do to make a difference and Move the Needle

Leadership Corner - Cosmology Class
The final assignment in Cosmology Class counted for most of our grade and I wanted to do something special. The junior students were mostly creating comets and asteroids, which was easy. More ambitious students were creating stars, or even black holes. Only a few students were creating planets.
That's all for this month.


Jim Hancock
President and Founder
The San Francisco Sailing Science Center is a Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation recognized under IRS Section 501(c)(3), Tax ID 82-3631165. Your donation to the Sailing Science Center is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.



*STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math

Victoria Marcus

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