Nowadays, on just about any weekend you’ll find stand-up paddleboarders and kayakers happily recreating on the San Rafael Canal. Its shallow depth in many places is no problem for them, but for local keelboat sailors and the many long-established marine businesses, the Canal’s dire need for dredging is a serious problem.
That’s why several business owners are reaching out to you — through us — to proactively push area legislators to fund dredging operations, which they say are long overdue.
"The last, and only partial, dredging of the Canal happened in 2011," writes Nadine Ahollinger of Helmut’s Marine. "The Army Corps of Engineers dredged 70% of the Canal to a depth of only 5.5 feet at low tide. Their own recommendation for a commercially viable waterway is 7 to 8 feet." And most of that work occurred in the eastern end of the Canal, leaving the western (downtown) end to continue silting in. With additional silting this year due to heavy winter runoff, the issue has become critical.
Dredging advocates urge you to help them crank up the pressure on legislators to fund dredging ASAP, before a number of long-established marine businesses can no longer operate. Email Congressman Jared Huffman here, Senator Mike McGuire here, and Assemblyman Marc Levine here.
Dredging campaigners tell us that businesses along the Canal bring in more than $10.5 million per year and thus contribute heavily to the local economy.
When François Tolède and Luc Poupon created Les Voiles de St. Barth in 2010, their goal was to combine elite racing with unusual joie de vivre ashore. They have succeeded on both counts beyond what must have been their wildest expectations, as Les Voiles has become one of the great competitive racing events in the world, and perhaps the most fun. The entry deadline for next week’s four-race series isn’t until Monday, but so far 69 elite boats have signed up to compete in the seventh edition.
Highlighting the monohulls and the nine-boat maxi division will be Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark’s VLVP 100 Comanche. There will also be a number of maxi 72s, TP52s and VOR 65s. At the small end of the monohull spectrum are four Melges 24s, whose skippers have been brave enough to sign up knowing full well that race director Luc Poupon is hardcore, and would think nothing of sending them out on a 25-mile course in full-on tradewind conditions even if it were the last race of the event. It’s the kind of thing a guy who has raced across the Atlantic thinks is a proper test of sailors.
Lloyd Thornburg’s record-smashing MOD70 Phaedo3 should easily pace the eight multihulls. Last night we bumped into Phaedo crewman Paul Allen of Santa Cruz, thinking it must have been a slow 80-mile delivery from Antigua because of the unusually light air. “It was great,” Allen said. “It blew 10 to 15 knots, so we were doing 25 knots.”
One of the most interesting multihull entries will be Greg Slyngstad’s Seattle-based Bieker 53 all-carbon catamaran Fujin, which will be tested against a Gunboat 60, an Outremer 50 and some one-offs. It’s going to be fun, especially since Greg and crew had a chance to tune up the new ‘fast cruising cat’ in the recent Heinie in St. Maarten.
We’re not sure who will be around from the Bay Area other than Allen and Kenny Keefe; the latter will be racing on the aging but still very successful TP52 Vesper.
When it comes to the Voiles, activities ashore are as important as those on the water, particularly for the oft-neglected crews. Topping the list are the famous Crew Night on Shell Beach and the lay day afternoon at the Nikki Beach restaurant, one of the most glamorous and chichi establishments in St. Barth. In addition to literal boats of sushi and huge bottles of champagne, there will be water polo, volleyball, Stand-Up Paddleboard Jousting (!), and an underwater treasure hunt for bottles of champagne. Naturally, there will be dockside concerts every night, pole dancing, videos of the day’s racing, and nonstop socializing.
Right now the wind is looking a little on the light side, but the weather picture is very complicated, so we’re looking forward to a lucky #7.
Can this really be the eighth year of the Delta Doo Dah, Latitude 38’s summer cruising rally upriver? It’s hard to believe, but that’s what our abacus tells us. Registration has begun, it’s free to sign up, and, thanks to our DIY component, there’s no limit on the number of entries. Sailors can create their own itinerary and/or choose from a selection of organized activities.
To share cruising tips and get in the Delta mood, we’ll co-host a kickoff party and seminar now moved to Berkeley Yacht Club and rescheduled to Sunday, May 22, from 4 to 7 p.m. We’re in the process of collecting door prizes to raffle off at the party; if you’re interested in donating a prize, please contact Doodette Chris at (415) 383-8200 x103 or by email.
For the second year, June 4’s Delta Ditch Run from RYC to Stockton Sailing Club will welcome Doo Dah sailors. Sign up for both and you’ll be doing the Doo Dah Ditch Run. Our friends at Owl Harbor will offer free slips on specific dates (including movie nights) and will host a BBQ on June 18. Then, on August 12, they’ll welcome fleet members for a stopover en route to SSC’s Hot Summer Nights on August 13.
Delta Doo Dah 8 is still a work in progress, but you’ll already find much more info at www.deltadoodah.com. Although registration is free, we highly recommend forking over the $20 for this year’s burgee, as it will help marinas recognize your boat as part of our fleet, make it easier for fleet members to spot each other and make new friends, and serve as a souvenir of your summer adventures.