Canadian tourist Jennifer Karren, 35, was thrown overboard Wednesday when a breaching whale collided with the large RIB (rigid-hulled inflatable) that she was riding aboard in waters off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Despite being quickly retrieved by one of the boat’s crew and another passenger, and given CPR by a medical professional who happened to be aboard, Karren was pronounced dead shortly after being transported ashore. Two other passengers were injured also. The RIB is one of several operated by Cabo Adventures out of the bustling tourist port.
As in the US and Canada, Mexican whale-watching vessels are required to stay at least 100 yards — the length of a football field — from cetaceans and other marine mammals (and 200 yards from killer whales). But as many offshore sailors know, it is not always possible to keep clear of whales despite your best intentions. Several whale species have made dramatic comebacks from near-extinction in recent decades. But the irony of that fact is that they are now a greater potential hazard to mariners, especially just off the West Coast from late fall to early spring.
In recent years we’ve reported on a number of close encounters with whales — some of which were life-threatening experiences. Last July CiCi Sayer’s whale-watching inflatable was overturned by a blue whale off San Diego (blues are most often seen there from July – October). During the 2009 Baja Ha-Ha rally a whale collided three times in heavy swell conditions with the J/120 J World, causing her to sink, and resulting in the only offshore rescue in the rally’s long history. Several years previous to that, Bernard Slabek’s Freedom 36 Simple Pleasures suffered two whale strikes in a single season.
Just this week, we were shown Jared Brockway’s brief video (below) of a blue suddenly surfacing dangerously close to Pierpont Performance Sailing’s Corsair 31 Drei, during a charter trip in the Sea of Cortez. Crewman Bill Roberts says, "It shows how quickly the big blue emerged and changed course to avoid a collision. There was no time for us to lift the centerboard or the rudder or anything else. We owe the avoidance of a collision entirely to the gentle giant who dove below and behind Drei to let us survive to sail another day."
Video courtesy Brock Roberts, Pierpont Performance Sailing
Have you had a dangerously close encounter with a whale? If so, we’d love to hear about it. In the meantime, be careful out there.
Dates have just been set for the SoCal Ta-Ta III, a Baja Ha-Ha-style cruiser’s rally from Santa Barbara to Two Harbors, Catalina, with stops at Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands Harbor and either Paradise Cove or Redondo Beach. The event will be held Sunday, September 13, through Saturday evening, September 19.
The dates are less than ideal for the Wanderer, who will be running the event from the mothership Profligate, as it conflicts with half of deadline week for Latitude 38. But it’s the only possible alternative date, and there’s no whining in the Ta-Ta, so we’re going to make it happen — and have a great time doing it. Based on the first two Ta-Ta’s, we expect a fleet of about 45, and in any event cannot accept more than 50.
We’ll have more details prior to May 1, the first day to sign up here. We hope you’ll join us.
There’s still time to make plans and prepare your crew and boat for BAMA’s 36th Doublehanded Farallones Race on Saturday, March 28, to the new requirements defined in the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions. The early registration discount ends March 21. The skippers’ meeting, on March 25, 7:00 p.m., at Oakland YC, will focus on lessons learned from the past and how new requirements help to address them. For details on the agenda and speakers from the U.S. Coast Guard Waterways, VTS and Command Center, see the 36th Doublehanded Farallones web page.
A demo workshop on DSC is planned, so bring your DSC-VHF handheld. Help with GPS downloads, Jibeset, and a review of new resources to improve safety will be available when the doors open at 5:30 p.m. DHF 2015 shirts will be at the awards meeting.
This will be the third year for the ‘Double Dame’ crew award, will this be the 1st year for an entrant? Check the 15-day forecast here. See www.sfbama.org for updates and details. Contact us by email or at (650) 394-6343.
Thanks to a complete brain fade, we neglected to mention a third big winner from the West Coast in last weekend’s St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. This would be the J World Bareboat Team.
Wayne Zittel of J World San Francisco, San Diego and Puerto Vallarta reports: “The Heineken was a hoot! The wind was terrific, we had a great crew mostly from the Bay Area, and we pulled off all bullets in the 12-boat one-design fleet of Beneteau 50.5s. The Bay Area sailors in the team were Dan Brumlik, Keith Rarick, Kathy Erblund and Barry Demak. While it’s true that the 50.5s are no MOD70 like Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo3 or Greg Slyngstad’s J/125 Hamachi, the racing was close against other teams from around the world, and I was so proud that we came out undefeated. What a fantastic regatta! We’ll be back to the Heineken again next winter — and perhaps some more of the other terrific Caribbean regattas.”
Speaking of other Caribbean regattas, the St. Barth Bucket, for 40 boats over 100-ft, is next week. The 185-ft Rosehearty, the first of the six big Perinis that will participate, pulled into Gustavia this morning. The huge yacht is owned by…well, for the Bucket the owners are to remain anonymous.
Errata: This is unbelievably embarrassing, but in recent articles on the Heineken we reported that Doug Baker’s Kernan 47 started life as a ID35. We’d misread that twice and wouldn’t have believed it for a second had Bob Lane not done all the stuff he’s done with his Andrews 61 Medicine Man. That said, True is ‘Dr. Laura’s’ former Tim Kernan-designed 47, now owned by a sailor from Chicago, who put a towering TP52 rig in her. The boat has been chartered by Doug Baker of Long Beach for the Caribbean 600, the Heineken — where he got all bullets — and April’s Voiles de St. Barth. Baker used to race his sled Magnitude in the Caribbean races.
By the way, April’s Voiles will be the first head-to-head epic battle between George David’s new Rambler 88 and Jim Clark’s $100 million (reportedly) 100-ft Comanche. Of course neither will be the fastest boat in the regatta, as that honor will belong to Thornburg’s Phaedo3, which hit 40.6 knots the other day.
Ten of the best college teams in the country will compete in the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup collegiate regatta hosted by Cal Maritime Academy at LAYC today through Sunday. Collegiate races are usually run aboard small dinghies in protected waters, but this one is held in open-ocean conditions aboard Catalina 37 keelboats. Cal Maritime skipper Christopher Vilicich will defend his school’s four-year winning streak.
St. Francis YC will follow up last weekend’s Spring Dinghy Regatta with the Spring One Design Regatta this weekend. The 86 entries include Express 27s, J/105s, J/111s, J/70s, Knarrs, Melges 24s, Moore 24s, and Open 5.70s.
Saturday’s Rites of Spring for singlehanded, doublehanded and women’s full crew divisions will start on the Central Bay, and, wind willing, Oakland YC hopes to finish the race down the Estuary at OYC in Alameda, where a St. Patrick’s Day buffet and live music will follow.
This is the time of year for midwinter series to wrap up and spring series to begin. For a pretty darn comprehensive list of races this weekend in Northern California, see our Calendar.
Sailing is up for bid at the St. Francis Sailing Foundation’s Night with the Stars Auction and Dinner on Tuesday, March 17. The event raises funds for Call of the Sea, Treasure Island Sailing Center, aspiring Olympians, community outreach, and more. Auction items include unique travel packages such as a Team Alvimedica experience during the Newport, RI, stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race. Call StFYC at (415) 563-6363 for tickets, which are $135 each.
Oakland YC in Alameda will host the skippers’ meeting for the SSS Corinthian Race beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, which is the deadline to enter too. The race itself will be held on March 21. See www.sfbaysss.org.
Also on Wednesday evening, just two doors down at Encinal YC, the YRA will present An Evening with Dave Perry, a racer social. Perry is an expert on racing rules and the author of Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing through 2016, Winning in One-Designs, 100 Best Racing Rule Quizzes, and North U Rules and Tactics Seminar Workbook. The talk will start at 7:00 p.m. and cost $20; an optional buffet dinner at 6:00 p.m. is not included in the ticket price. Register here.
Dave Perry invites our readers to subscribe to The Dial Up, a free newsletter recently relaunched by the US Sailing Match Racing Committee.
The start of the Volvo Ocean Race Leg 5 from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajaí, Brazil, has been delayed due to Cyclone Pam, which has so far registered wind speeds of up to 124 mph (108 knots). The VOR fleet was originally set to depart for the 6,776-mile voyage through the Southern Ocean on Sunday, March 15, but with forecasts suggesting that the Category 5 tropical cyclone could hit the area hard, their exit will be delayed until Tuesday, March 17, at the earliest.
Speaking of late-summer hurricane-force winds in the Southern Ocean, Barcelona World Race doublehanders Jörg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane aboard Renault Captur revealed that they encountered 70-knot gusts after rounding Cape Horn on Wednesday.
Although it’s been nearly two years since long-established Nelson’s Marine ceased operations in Alameda, a wide variety of boats and equipment has remained behind its locked gates ever since. However, next Tuesday, March 17, it will all finally be auctioned off by International Boat and Marine Auction Services.
Roughly 50 vessels will be up for grabs, ranging from 20 to 70 feet. There will be no minimum or reserve bids, but prospective bidders must register in order to participate. Previewing and inspections of all materials can be done Monday, from noon to 3 p.m. at the 1500 Ferry Point location, with the actual bidding beginning Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. A partial inventory list can be perused here.