June 17, 2009

A Train Runs Through It

An F-18 Super Hornet breaks the sound barrier about 50 feet above Profligate’s mast. Okay, it just seemed like it.

U.S. Navy
©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If San Diego ever gets tired of its America’s Finest City motto, they could always try America’s Noisiest City — and nobody would accuse them of false advertising.

After completing the Bash a couple of weeks ago, we tied up at three places around Shelter Island — the Police Dock, Southwestern YC and Driscoll’s Boatyard. Shelter Island is a great place. It’s beautiful, has great places to walk and jog, and all the marine parts and services are within walking distance. Topping it off is the fact that the Brigantine, after about a million years, did a great remodel. Don’t miss their Taco Tuesdays.

All was fine at Shelter Island except for the six or so times a day when F-Whatever fighter jets, usually in pairs, would take off from North Island Naval Air Station. When the pilots stepped on the gas pedal, making their turn out to sea, it was so loud that you could not only not hear the person next to you, you couldn’t even hear yourself think.

When your cat has a beam of 30 feet, it’s a tight squeeze getting out at any boatyard in California. But with the help of the crew at Knight & Carver, and a little Astro Glide, the task was accomplished.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Our next stop was the Knight & Carver Boatyard in National City, one of only three boatyards left in California that can haul boats with Profligate‘s 30-ft beam. The others are the Marine Group, a little further down San Diego Bay, and Napa Valley Marina in the Carneros wine district of Northern California.

To our knowledge, Knight & Carver is unique among the boatyards of the world in that trains run right through the middle of it! That’s right, big trains carrying cars, petroleum and what not, smack through the middle of boatyard! Fortunately, the trains only run before and after boatyard hours or there would be a greater than normal risk of that most rare of accidents, the train-Travelift collision.

But even after hours the trains don’t just pass through the boatyard, they go back and forth and back and forth — is shunting the word? — assembling trains. This involves a lot of noisy locomotive power-ups and power-downs, and countless colossal impacts of train cars slamming together. Unfortunately, they did this nonstop from about 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. on Monday night. We know, because we were trying to sleep on Profligate, which was on the hard no more than 50 feet from tracks. It shook our world in a way that wasn’t at all conducive to sleep.

Starting at 4 in the afternoon, and often at 4 a.m., trains came right through the middle of the Knight & Carver yard.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Despite the trains, we had a good haul at Knight & Carver, which means we thought we got a big bang for our buck and the folks were nice. Knight & Carver is not centrally located, however, so it was good we had our KLR 650 motorcycle for runs to the Gas Lamp District to watch the Lakers games.

After leaving the boatyard yesterday, we motored over to the A-9 anchorage, which is just off the east end of Harbor Island. Once you get a permit from the Harbor Police — which is easy to do — you can stay for up to three months a year, as long as you don’t live in San Diego County. Once we dropped the hook, we were afforded the most spectacular view of the downtown San Diego skyline. It may not be Manhattan, and it may not even be San Francisco, but it’s very pretty.

In fact, the only thing more dramatic than the view was the noise from Lindbergh Field, which is not even a quarter of a mile away. While the sound of jets taking off isn’t constant, it’s frequent and loud. Anybody ever see the 1966 movie You’re a Big Boy Now, directed by Francis Ford Coppola? One of the characters was Barbara Darling, a carefree and uninhibited young woman played by Elizabeth Hartman. She liked to have sex to the sound of jet planes taking off. Barbara Darling would have loved the A-9!

What a beautiful view from the A-9 anchorage, which is free for up to three months a year for transients.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Despite the noise, we’ve been having a great time in San Diego, primarily because it’s home to so many great cruising friends. Nonetheless, we can’t recommend a June visit here. That’s because it’s the grayest and gloomiest place we’ve ever been. Although we suppose this would have been true for all of Southern California, home of the June Gloom. Next year we’re going to stay in the Sea of Cortez until July, as the folks in the Sea have been reporting fabulous weather with blue skies, temps in the low 90s, and warm water temperatures for swimming and diving.

But we’re not writing off San Diego by any means. In fact, when the gloom is over in a month or so, we’re planning on coming back. From the middle of July until the end of October, we’re told it’s Speedo and bikini sailing weather on San Diego Bay. Plus, Chuck Driscoll tells us there’s a great little place just around the corner from Pt. Loma for paddleboard surfing. So yes, we’ll be back — but we’ll be bringing a bag full of ear plugs with us!

Glenn Tieman Safe in the Marquesas

In the April issue of Latitude 38, Glenn Tieman reported that he was readying Manu Rere, his traditional 38-ft catamaran that he built in Ventura County for $14,000, for a crossing from Costa Rica to the Marquesas. Thanks to friends Beat Rettenmund and Beatriz Restrepo on the Wharram Tiki 38 Aluna — who were featured in a January ’09 Sightings article, and who left the Bay Area on Monday bound for Hawaii — we’ve received word that Tieman made it to the Marquesas safely and is having a blast. "I’m having a great time in the Marquesas, but email is very expensive," wrote the thrifty Tieman. "Will write more in a few months, perhaps from Samoa."

Coastal Cup Starts This Week

With a quality field of 27 boats, Encinal YC’s Coastal Cup got underway this morning when the slower divisions started. Boats rating PHRF 27 and under will start tomorrow, and the the weather forecast looks really, really good, at least until Pt. Conception. NOAA is forecasting breeze from the NW at anywhere from 15-30 knots starting later today through Saturday. The picture gets a little less rosy — but still enjoyable — after the boats turn for the finish, which appears to have been moved from Catalina’s Arrow Point, just west of Emerald Bay, to the Island’s West End. Strategically, the western Channel Islands should come into play with better breeze forecasted outside on Friday, and we’d be surprised if anyone doesn’t shoot the potato patch between Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands. With the race tracking, it won’t be hard to follow this one.

Countdown to Summer Sailstice

The 9th Annual Summer Sailstice sailing celebration starts this weekend — in Shanghai, China. That’s where the sun will reach its northward zenith first on June 20, the summer solstice. Almost 24 hours later, after passing around the world, West Coast and Hawaiian sailors will get a chance to hoist their sails to join the celebration. And what better way to celebrate the official start of summer than to go sailing on that day, which also happens to be the longest day of the year?

All you have to do to take part in Summer Sailstice is go sailing this weekend. Sailors wanting something a bit more inclusive have been signing up from all over the world at www.summersailstice.com to declare their participation, have a chance at winning prizes (including a free BVI charter from The Moorings), and to support Sailors for the Sea’s ‘Around the Americas’ voyage (www.aroundtheamericas.org).
The local San Francisco Bay event will be hosted on Treasure Island with a full schedule of sailing activities. For sit-down sailors, over 100 boats have registered for the Summer Sailstice race. For the stand-up set, the Cal Cup windsurfing regatta will sail out of the Cove. And for sailors who like to kick back, Clipper Cove will again be filled with club raft-ups and individual cruisers (stern anchors recommended to minimize swinging). Ashore, five bands are scheduled to perform, free sailboat rides will be offered from the docks, there will be a boatbuilding contest, treasure hunts on the beach, and much more. See the full schedule of events at www.summersailstice.com/sf.

It’s always been hard to imagine a single sailing event that could include boats from Shanghai to San Francisco, and as diverse as a West Wight Potter, a windsurfer and a Westsail — but Summer Sailstice was created to do just that. Despite the differences in what we sail, all sailors share the same DNA quirk that makes it fun and challenging to move a boat through the water under wind power alone. Summer Sailstice has come a long way in connecting sailors with this common bond. Whether you’ll be sailing in Shanghai, Stockholm or Stockton, we hope you’ll throw off the docklines this weekend and take part.

The J/120 contingent of the Media Cup sets sail from McCovey Cove. latitude/JR
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC The action was hot in and out of AT&T Ballpark on Sunday.
With the number of mayday situations we’ve been reporting on recently, we were reminded of an essential resource for Pacific cruisers which was put together by South Pacific cruiser (and once-Whitbread skipper) Ewout Mante of the Elliott 45 Bravado.
Brian Porter’s Full Throttle works upwind at the 2009 Melges 24 Nationals. © Ellen Hoke With the 2009 Melges 24 Nationals Trophy on the line, Brian Porter’s Full Throttle was over early at the Alcatraz start for Sunday’s eighth and final race.
A smart phone, such as our iPhone, is a key ingredient in any onboard office.