January 30, 2012

Hundreds Attempt the Three Bridge Challenge

The first strategic decision for most, but certainly not all, entrants was to ride the ebb to Blackaller.

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More often than not, conditions for the annual Three Bridge Fiasco are cold, wet and nasty — the sort of weather that would inspire fair-weather sailors to turn up the thermostat, slip on their Uggs and linger over a long, drawn-out breakfast. But on Saturday this much-anticipated annual contest saw splendid conditions: clear, sunny skies, mild temperatures, and even a bit of breeze.

Not that it really mattered, though. For decades hundreds of diehard single- and doublehanders have turned out to compete, regardless of freezing temperatures, driving rain, lack of wind, or whatever. You could argue that the race, which allows entrants to navigate the course in either direction, passing near the Golden Gate, the San Rafael Bridge, and the Bay Bridge in whatever order they wish, is as much a rite of passage as it is pure competition. And with 334 entries this year, it’s appeal is obvious. 

A half hour later the breeze clocked a bit, allowing a rare spinnaker reach to the Gate.

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With an ebb running in the morning, the most popular course strategy was to knock off Blackaller Buoy first (near the Golden Gate), then beat up to Red Rock (near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge), then run down past Treasure Island and on to the finish. But Three Bridge fleets are renowned for their contrarian thinking, so even with the ebb, many boats were seen crossing the starting line heading ‘upstream’ (east). Up at Red Rock, the armada split in two, half leaving the island to port, half leaving it to starboard. And back behind Yerba Buena Island the light air traffic jam lived up to the event’s name.

There’s more than one way to complete this course. The fleet split at Red Rock, rounding in both directions.

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© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Look for a full report in the March edition of Latitude 38 (February’s is at the printer and will be on the street Wednesday.) Preliminary results are posted on the Singlehanded Sailing Society’s (SSS) website, which lists Dan Benjamin’s Wyliecat 30 Whirlwind with top honors among solo sailors, followed by Joe Balderrama aboard the Express 27 Archimedes, and Scott Owens on the Schumacher 1/4 tonner Summertime Dream. Leading the doublehanded fleet were Brendan Busch and Ian Klitza aboard Rocket 88, Urs Rothacher and Matt Noble on Bridgerunner, and Eric Willis and Bruce Edwards on Curved Wood.

“Ah… starboard.” Ron Young and Doug Wilhelm hold their course aboard Youngster in heavy traffic on the approach to Red Rock.

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©2012 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Although there were holes in the North Bay wind, most boats had a pleasant, sunny ride down to T.I., occasionally interrupted by upwind traffic.

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© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Kickin’ the Winter Blues

Sailors in the Lake Havasu Pocket Cruisers Convention will get continental when they sail under the London Bridge.

Lake Havasu Pocket Cruisers convention
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Six years ago, Sean Mulligan organized a small cruise-out for fellow trailer sailer owners to Lake Havasu, a Colorado River reservoir on the California-Arizona border. Five boats joined in that first year. This year, nearly 200 boats have signed up for the Lake Havasu Pocket Cruisers Convention.

The week-long rendezvous runs February 13-20 and has evolved into a volunteer-run event that features organized races, seminars, an in-the-water boat show, parties and a parade of sail under the famed London Bridge. "I used to organize it alone," said Mulligan, "but it’s too big for one guy anymore so participants have jumped in to run various aspects."

You don’t need to trailer your pocket cruisers all the way to Baja to enjoy clear, warm waters.

Lake Havasu Pocket Cruisers convention
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Partying takes a back seat to lounging.

Lake Havasu Pocket Cruisers convention
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

One such aspect is giving back to the local Lake Havasu City community, which this year is taking the form of funding a new chapter of the Sea Scouts. "All proceeds will go to the Sea Scouts," Mulligan noted. "The sailing dinghy being constructed during the event has already been bought and paid for ($1800) by the participants and will be donated to the Sea Scouts upon completion."

Running from winter. Mulligan says that the average distance traveled is 653 miles, but that 31 entries are traveling more than 1,000 miles, six are coming from 2,000 miles away, and the greatest distance to be traveled (one way!) currently is 2,833 miles.

Lake Havasu Pocket Cruisers convention
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The rendezvous is not an official non-profit, but Mulligan runs it as a "no-profit" event, which is illustrated by the entry fee: There is none. "There’s no registration fee for participants — none, zero, zip, nada," said Mulligan. "The only thing they pay for is one banquet meal should they choose to attend."

Mulligan says entries will be accepted up to the start of the event, so if you were looking for a fun way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, taking your sweetie to warm Lake Havasu just might be the ticket. Who knows, you just might win a Latitude 38 T-shirt or hat since we’re an official sponsor!

Sailing the Bay Talks

Readers have no doubt seen mentions of Ron Blatman, who won four regional Emmy awards for his PBS documentary Saving the Bay, and his plans for a new documentary titled Sailing the Bay. If you’re interested in finding out more about the project, which Blatman hopes will air locally in ’13, cancel your lunch plans for this Wednesday, and instead head over to St. Francis YC for their Yachting Luncheon. The buffet lunch starts at 11:45 a.m. with Blatman’s hour-long presentation starting at 12:30 p.m. sharp. For more info, go to the Yachting Luncheon web page.

Somali Pirates and a Lightning Romance

"My husband John and I, who had chartered the Leopard 45 ‘ti Profligate, just happened to bump into Roger Hayward of the Long Beach-based Catalina Morgan 440 La Palapa, while at the Bitter End YC at Gorda Sound in the British Virgins," reports International Cub Reporter Lynn Ringseis of Novato. "I remembered him from checking his boat into a recent — maybe the ’09 — Ha-Ha. Actually, Roger spotted us first, as I was wearing my yellow Ha-Ha hat and John was wearing his Ha-Ha shirt.

"Roger had big news. Bigger than his big Somali pirates scare in the Arabian Sea last spring. He got married again! It happened very quickly. It started after he parted ways with his Australian girlfriend in Gibraltar, and singlehanded 1,000 miles to the Canary Islands for the start of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC). There some friends introduced him to the lovely Aimée of Vancouver. Well, did the sparks ever fly! Aimée, who was in the Canaries about to join a Brazilian couple on their ferro cement boat for a crossing to Brazil, was swept off her feet by Roger.

"Swept off her feet in the sense that five or six days later the couple were married! (Neither can remember exactly how many days because apparently there was some alcohol involved.) After a month of ARC pre-crossing parties, the couple set sail for St. Lucia on their honeymoon cruise. How romantic!

After a whirlwind romance, Roger and Aimee tied the knot and untied the docklines for a transAtlantic passage in the ARC.

© Lynn Ringseis

"Two days out, La Palapa‘s main blew and the honeymooners spent much of the 2,700-mile crossing trying to repair it while flying a poled-out genoa. It wasn’t until two days from St. Lucia that they were finally able to hoist the main. By the way, they used an interesting combination of 3M’s 5200 on a patch and sail tape in the shape of giant hearts for the repair. At the ARC awards ceremony in St. Lucia, they won the award for the ‘best chilled-out boat blog’. The judges were impressed by the calm and humorous nature of their reports, where other sailors with lesser problems were writing in complaints and freaking out. It certainly doesn’t hurt one’s attitude to be freshly in love!

"Aimée’s parents have been sailing with these lovebirds for a week in the British Virgins. They are both happy for their daughter, and thrilled to be in the warm Caribbean rather than chilly Vancouver.

"Roger and Aimée had just sailed in from St. Martin when Roger saw us, and they plan to spend some time in the British Virgins. They say they plan to keep their eye out for the Grand Poobah and Doña de Mallorca, who will be picking up ‘ti in the BVIs on February 10 with plans to reach St. Barth in time for Carnival on the 22nd. Can’t miss that! Roger and  Aimée also hope to meet up with Scott and Mika, Roger’s longtime friends from the staff at Two Harbors. Scott and the gorgeous Mika, two of the most popular members of the staff at Two Harbors, are now running a crewed catamaran. As John and I ran crewed charterboats for The Moorings and then our own crewed Lagoon 41, Roger and Amy will probably have time to say ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ before Scott and Mika have to rush back to work.

It’s come to our attention that early March will mark the 35th anniversary of the day that the publisher of this magazine, assisted by Kathleen McCarthy, put together the first issue of Latitude 38.
Wasting time on Facebook? © 2011 Waste away with Latitude 38 at www.facebook.com/Latitude38.
Dave Wallace of the Puerto Escondido-based Amel Maramu Air-Ops reports he has some additional information on the daily boat taxes the Italians are going to be laying on owners of Italian and foreign yachts starting on May 1.
The current plight of the Costa Concordia reminds us of a comment attributed to Churchill by James C.