July 31, 2009

Stockton Sail Camp a Success

Eighty kids enjoyed learning on Stockton’s warm, fresh waters.

© 2009 Peter Allen

A week after hosting 35 boats worth of young-at-heart sailors in the Delta Doo Dah, Stockton Sailing Club members recuperated enough to play host to another group of 80 sailors who acted like kids — for good reason: they were kids!

Parents and kids alike got in on the action.

© 2009 Peter Allen

Sponsored by SSC, Richmond YC and Santa Cruz YC, the annual Stockton Sail Camp ran July 12-18, teaching kids (ages 8-14) of all experience levels, from Novice to Advanced, on Optis and El Toros.

Several experience levels were represented, from Novice to Advanced, which meant everyone had a great time.

© 2009 Peter Allen

Days started early with breakfast at 7 a.m. By 9:30, the kids were sailing, having already participated in "chalk talk" classes. After lunch, a second "chalk talk" session allowed them to digest their food before heading back to the boats for the afternoon.

Once back at the docks for the day, "life jacket tests" — which we can only assume means getting shoved in the water by your new best buds — were apparently pretty popular. Each evening featured a different activity, from Movie Night to ‘Root Beer’ Can Races to skits to model boat races to a dance. After a day like that, it’s a sure bet that most kids were asleep before lights out at 9:30 p.m. The camp culminated in the Junior El Toro NA Championship Regatta (click here for results).

West Marine’s Chuck Hawley taught the kids how to properly heave a line.

© 2009 Peter Allen
Stockton SC’s lawn became a tent city to accommodate all the campers.

© 2009 Wayne Craig

Camps such as these are a great way to introduce kids to the sport of sailing, as well as helping them meet new friends and spend quality time outdoors. But it’s not just the kids who got out of the house. "The great thing about this camp," said Novato’s Tim Stapleton, "is that it’s almost completely volunteer-run. From instructing to cooking, the parents do it all!" 

Over the Top

We received a number of complaints about the photo in Wednesday‘s ‘Lectronic that showed a man whose torso had been impaled on a log. The impaling was apparently a result of the man losing control of his bass boat while travelling at excessive speed.

The intent of the photo was to dramatically illustrate — in the tradition of new drivers being shown photos of deadly accident scenes — that speed kills on the water as well as on land.

It was also meant to highlight the absurdity of Lake County D.A. Jon Hopkins’ refusal to charge Sheriff Chief Russell Perdock in the Clear Lake boating death of Lynn Thornton, a case we’re sure you’re all familiar with. As it stands now, Bismarck Dinius, who had merely been sitting at the helm of the nearly motionless O’Day 27 sailboat when it was hit at very high speed by Perdock, is the only one who has been charged in Thornton’s death.

We apologize to those who were offended by the photo, which has since been removed. If we weren’t so outraged by the injustice going on in Lake County, we would never have run it. But having received the feedback we have, we would certainly think twice about running such a photo again.

Brit Singlehander Threatens Zac’s Record

Inside his Open 50’s ‘living pod’, Mike strikes a pose on his 17th birthday.

© 2009 Mike Perham

Although admirers of solo circumnavigator Zac Sunderland are still celebrating the 17-year-old sailor’s historic homecoming on July 16, most are well aware that a slightly younger British teen is already threatening to claim Zac’s status as ‘youngest around’. 

At this writing, Mike Perham is bashing his way across the Caribbean, ultimately bound for his Portsmouth, England, homeport aboard the chartered Open 50 TotalMoney.com. He has until November to complete the task and win the crown, but he still faces more than 4,000 miles of open water and, as every sailor knows, anything can happen out there. Yesterday, for example, Mike had to climb the mast of his over-canvassed boat while bucking winds up to 25 knots, as a lazyjack had failed and wrapped itself around a mainsail car. 

In an odd twist of fate, Mike and Zac met in Cape Town, South Africa, and compared notes over lunch. They were rounding the globe in opposite directions.

© Mike Perham

The young Brit originally set out to break Jesse Martin’s record as the youngest around nonstop and unassisted via the Great Capes (as endorsed by the World Sailing Speed Record Council). However, a breakdown early on necessitated a stop. Since then, he altered his course to pass through Panama, while setting his sights on becoming the youngest around via any route. To learn more about Mike’s well-financed campaign see the website.

Escalera Nautica Now Ladder to Nowhere

To some, the stairway seemed perfectly logical. To others, ridiculous.

© FONATUR

File this one under ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’: We’ve received word via news reports from south of the border that the Mexican government has finally pulled the plug on its Escalera Nautica (Nautical Stairway) project. Widely criticized as impractical and unnecessary from the outset, in 2001 the grand scheme proposed to build a ‘ladder’ of marinas and tourism facilities all along the Baja Peninsula and the eastern shoreline of the Sea of Cortez. The idea was to shorten the distance between potential safe harbors, thereby inspiring an upsurge in maritime tourism.

The original $2 billion plan was to build or refurbish 22 full-service marinas. Today, however, the 10 projects — some completed, others only partially completed — will be sold, as the project has been officially cancelled.

Administered through FONATUR (Federal Tourism Promotion Fund), original projections estimated that 76,400 boats would be cruising the Baja coast by next year, and by 2014, infrastructure upgrades would attract 5.4 million nautical tourists to Mexican waters. Needless to say, those figures were wildly optimistic — according to one source, off by as much as 600%. Look for more on the Escalera Nautica debacle in the September edition of Latitude 38.

The Singlehanded Sailing Society’s LongPac Race, which began this morning, is arguably the most unusual contest on San Francisco Bay’s annual sailing calendar.  Not only do competitors in its single- and doublehanded divisions have to race 400 miles — a remarkable distance compared to other Bay Area races — but the course takes them 200 miles offshore to.
The trial of Bismarck Dinius, who many believe to be a scapegoat in the 2006 death-by-speedboat of Lynn Thornton, opened yesterday in Lake County.