December 6, 2010

Foul Weather Sailors

A wayward duckling gets some special instruction Sunday on inducing heel and trimming for light air.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We’ve never thought of ourselves as fair-weather sailors, but we have to admit, it never even occurred to us to go sailing yesterday on San Francisco Bay. It was one of those cold, gray, rainy days when watching football in a cozy den sounded like the obvious ‘recreational’ choice.

It’s often said that learning to sail in dinghies is the best way to learn the fundamentals. Taking responsibility as a solo helmsman requires concentration while building character.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

But we’re happy to report that not all local sailors wimped out yesterday. And among those who braved the elements — which at times included torrents of rain — were several dozen newcomers to the sport. As seen here, young trainees from Richmond YC spent hours coaxing their El Toros around buoy courses in sheltered waters near the club. Who knows, with dedication like that some of their names may be making headlines here, and in Latitude 38, in the years to come.

While the kids were running buoys in the Richmond Channel — with the historic coastal freighter Wapama in the background — we think we may have captured just about every possible sailing angle in one shot: (l to r) beam reaching, running, beating, broad reaching and close reaching. Look out, Bay racers, here comes a whole new batch of competitors.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Canadian Cruiser Murdered in Honduras

Canadian cruiser Milan Egrmajer, 58, was killed on the evening of December 3 as a result of being shot four times by robbers attempting to board his Ericson 35 MkII Adena at a remote cove on the northwest coast of Honduras. This according to an account published in La Prensa. Egrmajer and his daughter Myda were on their way from Guatemala’s Rio Dulce to the Bay Islands for diving, and then Panama, when they put in at Laguna Diamante to get out of rough weather. The anchorage is said to be a two-hour boat trip from the nearest civilization.

Milan Egrmajer was tragically gunned down by thieves in Honduras this weekend.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The 24-year old Myda was somehow able to scare the assailants away with a flare gun. She was physically unharmed, and was eventually picked up by an Australian cruising boat and taken to Belize. The many details of the story are expected to become know later today when Myda arrives back in Canada. For example, it’s not clear if Egrmajer actively resisted or was just shot for no apparent reason. In addition, relatives report that a half dozen "911 distress calls" were received from Adena via a satellite phone or messenger, but it’s unclear if they were sent before or after Egrmajer was shot.

Egrmajer is reported to have been well known and well liked in Guatemala’s Rio Dulce, where he spent a lot of time this summer. A semi-retired engineer who did some consulting work from his boat, Egrmajer kept a blog of his two years of cruising. His love of the cruising life was evident throughout. He and his well-traveled daughter had spent about a month together sailing and diving, and were having a great time prior to the attack.

A little more than a week before, on November 24, the French couple Jean-Louis and Cathy, last names unknown, had their catamaran Maroine boarded in the middle of the night at nearby Puerto Escondido by six men armed with guns and machetes. The couple, who speak some Spanish, tried to keep the attackers calm, and let them steal their dinghy and motor, computers, camera, telephone and other valuables.

Although it’s not widely publicized, the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have astoundingly high murder rates. As is true in most places, tourists — including cruisers — are rarely the victims. But not always. On August 9, 2008, Daniel Dryden of the Anchorage-based Southern Cross 39 Sunday’s Child was murdered on his anchored-out boat in the Rio Dulce when he resisted a group of thieves.

AC Effort Makes Final Push

The final chance to show your support for San Francisco’s bid to host the 34th America’s Cup is coming up this Wednesday. The Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee will first review the fiscal impacts of hosting the America’s Cup, before deciding on whether or not to send the Host City Agreement on to the full Board with a stamp of approval. This will be the last opportunity for public comment, so we urge you to show up to the meeting if you can make it to City Hall Room 250. We don’t know exactly how long the 11 a.m. meeting will run, however the America’s Cup comes up as items 13 and 14 on the 16-item agenda, so we’d be surprised if it came up before early afternoon.

Swan 80 First to Finish ARC

The Swan 80 Berenice took line honors in the ARC.

© 2010 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers

The fact that it took Marco Rodolfi’s Italian-crewed Swan 80 Berenice 14 days, 1 hour to be the first boat to complete this year’s Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is a testament to how light the winds have been for most of this year’s crossing. The fleet started in the Canary Islands and is sailing a 2,700 mile — rhumbline — course to St. Lucia in the West Indies. Even worse than the light winds was the fact that the Italian boat had six hours of 35- to 40-knot headwinds early on in what’s supposed to be an all-downwind crossing. Rodolfi reported that the last three days featured the idyllic tradewind sailing conditions.

This is the 25th running of the ARC, the granddaddy of all cruising rallies, and there was a record 233 entrants. To our knowledge, the only boat with California ties is George Backhus and Merima Dzaferi’s Deerfoot 62 Moonshadow, which was sailing at 8.9 knots some 635 miles from the finish this morning. It looks at though she’ll be one of the first 20 boats to finish.

Today is the third and final day of the Banderas Bay Blast, the ‘nothing serious’ cruiser regatta and social extravaganza now in its fifth year.
If you’re suffering from the Christmas shopping blues — and your brain is about to explode from stressing out over what to buy for whom — we’ve got a splendid suggestion.