May 25, 2012

The Golden Gate Bridge Turns 75

The Bay will undoubtedly be more crowded on Sunday during the Bridge’s 75th anniversary celebrations.

© Rich Niewiroski Jr.

The only Bay Area sailors who haven’t heard about this weekend’s happenings must be living under a bridge. But not the Golden Gate Bridge, as San Francisco’s eyes have turned to the iconic span to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Opened on May 27, 1937, this feat of engineering took just four years to complete, and came in an astonishing $1.3 million under budget. Can you imagine that happening today?

Shoreside activities on Sunday will be held at Fort Point, Crissy Field (sorry, our model Crissy Fields is off on assignment this weekend so she won’t be attending), the Presidio, Marina Green, and on down to Pier 39. The festivities will culminate in a spectacular fireworks display at the Bridge itself from 9:30 to 10 p.m.

Of course, getting anywhere near the Bridge by land is going to be a nightmare, so this is a great opportunity to invite a gaggle of friends to join you aboard your boat for a fireworks viewing party. KFOG 104.5/97.7FM will be simulcasting a soundtrack for the show, so tune in while you’re out there — just leave the adult beverage (at least for the helmsperson) for when you return. The Coast Guard has set up a restricted zone for the fireworks, which will be in effect from 8:30 to 10:15 p.m., and they will be enforcing it. If there’s an urgent reason you must enter the restricted zone between those times, contact the Coasties on VHF 23A or at (415) 399-3547.

If you want to make a weekend of it, be sure to head out on Saturday when the USS Iowa will finally leave the Bay on her way south. Originally scheduled to depart on Monday, rough offshore conditions have kept her in port. The WWII battleship will sail beneath the Bridge sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. Just watch out for people in the water in the early morning as an invitational swim from Alcatraz to the Cityfront will be starting at 7:45 a.m.

The Iowa was removed from the mothball fleet in Suisun Bay last October, and has been refit for a trip to Los Angeles, where she’ll be turned into a floating museum by the Pacific Battleship Center.

© Mike Koller

As a reminder, Monday is Memorial Day, which means ‘Lectronic Latitude (and the whole Latitude staff) will be taking the day off. Have fun out there this weekend, but be safe!

Spinnaker Cup Is a Go

Ever since a "stand down" order was put into effect by the U.S. Coast Guard several weeks ago, Bay Area offshore racers have been anxiously awaiting word on the status of the annual Spinnaker Cup, slated to begin today. We’re happy to report, it’s a go. First gun for the race, which runs from the Central Bay to Monterey Municipal Wharf, was at 11 a.m. today.

The announcement that the long-established race would be permitted came late yesterday, in combination with the release of preliminary findings of a special investigative panel that was formed in the aftermath of the Low Speed Chase tragedy.

As reported earlier, the panel, which was convened in cooperation with U.S. Sailing, was chaired by Sally Honey and included a brain trust of West Coast luminaries such as John Craig and Jim Corenman. The fact-finding process included input from all Full Crew Farallones racers and analysis of GPS tracks around South Farallon and Maintop Islands. The preliminary recommendations outlined yesterday include: once-a-season safety seminars; enhanced sailor training, including understanding of wave development in shoaling waters; compliance with existing Minimum Equipment Requirements, including post-race inspections; improved communications between race management and sailors and the Coast Guard; and consistency of protocol and requirements for all Bay Area offshore races.

Additional recommendations, plus guidelines for implementing them, are expected to be laid out in the panel’s full report, due to be released sometime in June.

Captain of the Port of San Francisco Cynthia Stowe, who mandated the establishment of a review panel, while making the controversial decision to put a freeze on issuing ocean race permits, seems encouraged by the process thus far. "I am especially pleased with US Sailing’s outreach to the boating community, both by conducting interviews and by briefing the preliminary findings to the newly formed local offshore racing council. The Coast Guard appreciates the tremendous support of the offshore race organizers and sponsoring yacht clubs. It’s the coordination and support from this local community which will ensure we learn all that we can from this tragic loss.”

Let’s Hope This Bud’s Not for You…or Us

Though Hurricane Bud, the first of the Eastern Pacific (Mexico) region, has weakened as it nears shore, it’s still blowing at 100 knots and should make landfall tonight between Manzanillo and Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta). Hurricane warnings are in effect as far north as Cabo Corrientes, at the southern end of Banderas Bay, and tropical storm warnings are in effect as far north as San Blas. Bud seems to have a little more fight in him than originally forecast, but he’s expected to diminish quickly once he hits land. The owners of the many boats — including Profligate — in Banderas Bay need to take precautions in case Bud decides to change directions, as hurricanes often like to do.

Hurricane Bud’s current forecast.

© NOAA

By the way, with it being time to start bringing Profligate back to California, we managed to snag an Alaska Airlines flight for just $160 for Sunday. All we hav to do is make it through the throngs on the Golden Gate Bridge for the 75th anniversary celebrations, and hope that Bud, which is expected to drop 12 inches of rain, doesn’t drown Puerto Vallarta Airport.

The West Coast sailing community was saddened to learn of the tragic death of longtime cruiser Mark Barger, 64, in a diving accident last week at Isla Espiritu Santo.
As the June 30 start date draws near, the second to last Singlehanded TransPac prep seminar will be tomorrow (Thursday) night at Oakland YC in Alameda with race vets sharing how they got their boats home from Hawaii.