The Atlantic has gotten the first major hurricane of the season, in what has long been forecast to be a year with fewer than the normal number of hurricanes and major hurricanes.
The season’s first hurricane is Danny, currently located about 900 miles east of the Eastern Caribbean, with peak winds of 115 mph.
What’s unusual for a hurricane in this area is that Danny is expected to weaken rather than strengthen as he approaches Guadeloupe, Antigua, St. Barth, St. Martin, the Virgins and Puerto Rico. Danny is also an unusually tiny hurricane, as hurricane-force winds have been found to extend only 10 miles out from the eye.
The unusual aspects of Danny are welcome news for us at Latitude, as we have two boats in his general path: The Olson 30 La Gamelle on a trailer in St. Barth, and the Leopard 45 cat ‘ti Profligate on the hard and strapped down at North Sound Marina, Antigua. If you have a boat in the region, we’re keeping our fingers crossed for yours, too.
The good news is that Danny is expected to bring a bit of rain to the region, which, like California, has been suffering from a drought.
The Eastern Pacific (meaning mostly off the coast of Mexico), on the other hand, has already had four Category 4 hurricanes in what to date has been an average season. The big difference this year is that there have been several storms threatening Hawaii or near Hawaii. Indeed, Tropical Storm Kilo is currently sweeping up to the south of Hawaii with 35-knot winds, appearing unlikely to be much of a threat.
As a heat wave built at the end of last week, a small band of Delta Doo Dah boats made their way to Stockton Sailing Club, some by way of Richmond and Pittsburg Yacht Clubs. On Thursday, the Columbia 36 Miss Conduct left their dock in Oakland to take advantage of the free berth RYC offered to Doo Dah sailors that night. "We came from behind Treasure Island, where we threw a reef in," said Daniel Zempel. "We trimmed some beard off the bottom." They wouldn’t see wind like that for the rest of the week. Sailing with Dan were his wife Michelle and kids Luke, age 16, and Annalee, age 14.
Miss Conduct met up with the crews from the Olson 30 Mental Floss, arriving from Benicia, and the Laser 28 Stink Eye, which was already upriver in Owl Harbor, for dinner at Pittsburg YC on Friday night. (One other boat was expected, but it ran aground just shy of Pittsburg, and had to wait for the next high tide cycle to kedge off — at 1 a.m.!)
In organizing this mini-cruise, we figured that Pittsburg YC would make a perfect pit stop, halfway between San Francisco Bay and Stockton. The club offers a hearty sit-down dinner for $17 on Friday nights, making it a destination in and of itself.
On Saturday morning, the sailors awoke to the smoke from distant fires, two counties and more to the north. An odd weather pattern sent the smoke our way. On a dying breeze, the attempted spinnaker run up the San Joaquin River to Stockton became futile by Mandeville, and motorsailing carried the boats the rest of the way. Miss Conduct and Mental Floss buddy-boated, Rob and Roberta from the Olson 30, having lent the family on the Columbia 36 one of their water cannons, caught Stink Eye in the resulting crossfire — a fun way to cool off in heat that was building to three figures.
The day’s destination, Stockton Sailing Club, had invited the Delta Doo Dah to join them for their Hot Summer Nights classic car show. Oldies music played from speakers on the lawn, and the club served up a simple, nostalgic supper of burgers, fries and root beer floats for $8.
At SSC, Rob and Roberta from Mental Floss met up with their friends from Vallejo YC, Kerry and Jennifer Scott. But the Scotts didn’t arrive on their Delta Doo Dah entry, the Catalina 30 Alafair. No, they arrived in their 1966 Chevelle Malibu, an entry in the car show, which Kerry has owned for 22 years and lovingly restored. "This is the car I always wanted in high school," he said.
Rounding out the Delta Doo Dah gang at SSC were David and Michelle Opheim, who came from San Rafael on their liveaboard Catalina 42 Endless Summer.
On Sunday, the small group departed SSC, with Miss Conduct, Stink Eye and Mental Floss all meeting up again later at Owl Harbor in Isleton, and Endless Summer bound for a week of adventures at Little Venice Island, Potato Slough, Georgiana Slough, and on up the Sacramento River.
Although last weekend’s activities marked the final official events of the 2015 Delta Doo Dah season, there’s still time to DIY. Free registration will remain open until August 28. See www.deltadoodah.com.
While we’re still wrapping up our coverage of this July’s Transpac Race to Hawaii (be sure to read all about it in the next issue of Latitude 38, coming out on September 1), planning and prep for next July’s Pacific Cup is going full steam ahead, with 49 boats already entered.
Among the resources Pacific Cup YC offers in the way of support is a free chapter from record-setting global navigator Stan Honey’s book Pacific Cup Weather Routing, which starts off like this:
"The primary feature that determines the tactics in a transpacific race is the Pacific High. Typically there is no wind in the center of the high, and increasing wind as you get farther south, up to a limit. The central question concerning course selection is: how close to sail to the high, or how many extra miles to sail to get farther from the high?"
On October 17, PCYC will hold their second Offshore Academy, an afternoon-long session of education featuring experienced and expert speakers, covering topics tailored to the interests of the registrants. Richmond YC will host the seminar; sign up for $30 at www.pacificcup.org. Between now and then, be sure to mine the Pacific Cup website, which is rich with prep help for prospective sailors. All this info applies not only to racers, but to all who anticipate a Pacific crossing.