The sad news out of Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, is that irascible Mill Valley sailing legend Warwick ‘Commodore’ Tompkins’ Wylie 38+ Flashgirl was struck by lighting and partially sunk.
The details are sketchy, but it’s our understanding that a lightning bolt struck Flashgirl’s mast and then went down to a thru-hull, blowing a hole in it. That caused water to pour in and the boat to "partially" sink. At the very least, the engine and transmission got a soaking.
Having foregone more lucrative careers to be a sailing professional in the days before sailing professionals made the big bucks, the 84-year-old Tompkins — yes, he’s 84 and still crossing oceans — apparently did not have insurance on Flashgirl. And she’s more than just a boat to him, as he spent seven painstaking years building her, and subsequently sailed her around the Pacific with his wife Nancy.
We’ve been encouraging Commodore’s friends to set up a GoFundMe page or something like it on his behalf in hopes of his being able to restore the boat. We haven’t heard back yet. If we do, we’ll let you know.
By the way, Commodore is the subject of the movie A Lifetime At Sea. In the trailer he characteristically compares making landfall to having an orgasm. You can find it here.
Due to a software glitch, the SoCal Ta-Ta website has been telling applicants that all 50 slots have been taken. This is incorrect. There are currently 37 paid entries, which means there is still room for 13 more. If you tried to sign up and were told the event was sold out, we sincerely apologize and hope you’ll try again.
Modeled after the Baja Ha-Ha, and also run by the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca with Profligate as the mothership, the SoCal Ta-Ta is now in its fourth year. ‘Reggae ‘Pon Da Ocean’ is the theme. The event starts with a Santa Barbara YC kick-off dinner right on the beach on September 11. The next morning the fleet sets sail for Santa Cruz Island, the gem of Southern California’s offshore islands, where we spend two nights.
On Wednesday the fleet sails to Oxnard’s Channel Islands Harbor, where the great folks at Channel Islands Marina and Vintage Marina Partners will again knock themselves out trying to make sure everyone gets a slip — for free. This is followed by the on-the-water BBQ, which is free to all captains and first mates.
On Thursday morning and afternoon we’ll probably be hugging the coast on our way to Paradise Cove, which is just around the corner from Pt. Dume. The final leg is the longest of the event, Friday’s 33-miler from Paradise Cove to Two Harbors, Catalina. On Saturday night we have a BBQ on the beach — no food is served until everyone gets into the conga line led by de Mallorca — and an awards ceremony with a slide show of the week’s action.
The first three Ta-Ta’s have been an absolute blast, which is why there are so many repeat entries. Historically mid-September is a great weather month in Southern California, and barring anything unusual, all three legs should be reaching or running.
If you want to sign up, click here. Entry deadline is 50 boats or August 10. If you sign up for the Ta-Ta by then, the Ta-Ta’s organizers can reserve a slip for you in Santa Barbara on September 9, 10 and 11. Normally Santa Barbara will not reserve slips. While the Ta-Ta must reserve the slip on your behalf, it’s the normal slip price.
Here’s the current entry list:
Aeolian / Sceptre 41 / Gerald & Margaret McNaboe / Long Beach
Andiamo / Catalina 30 / Katrien Wohlstattar / Santa Cruz
Avalon / Dufour GL 375 / Andrew Spisak & Jeff Hong / Long Beach
Beach Access / Lagoon 380 / Glenn Twitchell & Debbie Jahn / SoCal
Boomerang / Corsair 31 / Charles & Elaine VanderBoom / Lake Havasu City, AZ
Daydreams / Pearson 385 / Joseph Day & Melinda Solis-Day / Nevada City
Desperado / Cheoy Lee Offshore 47 / Steve & Teri Reeder / Ventura
Destiny / Catalina 42 / John & Gilly Foy / San Pedro
Di’s Dream / Catalina 470 / Roger & Diana Frizzelle / San Francisco
Doggone / Jim Brown Searunner 40 / Greig & Leslie Olson / Sausalito
Dulcebella / Embroden 37 / Carl & Sheila Eberly / Long Beach
Far Reaching / Balboa 27 / Jim Hood / Reno
Grey Goose / Beneteau 390 / C. Walker & R. Huerta-Walker / Marina Del Rey
Gypsy Soul / Bruce Roberts Offshore 44 / Danny & Marilyn Webb / Grass Valley
Heidi Anne / Islander 36 / Carlos Cadiente / Alameda
Insula / Island Packet 460 / Troy Stone / Saugatuck, MI
Interlude / Deerfoot 74 PH / Kurt & Katie Braun / Georgetown, SC
Jacquot-Bateau / Irwin 38 / Jacques Lorch / Long Beach
Jazzy / Catalina 36 MkII / Roy Johnston / San Francisco
Juliet / Mason 44 / Charles & LeeAnne Clark / Channel Islands
La Cuna / Hunter Passage 42 / PJ Landresse / San Pedro
Lucky Star / Catalina 38 / Norb & Kim Szczurek / Tiburon
Mind Magic / Newport 41 / Dennis & Pamela Young / Seal Beach
MissTeak II / Morgan 45 / Chip & Katie Prather / Dana Point
Moonlight Lady / Catalina 355 / Owen Provence / Long Beach
Pinda / Catalina 34 / Rudolf Pel / Marina Del Rey
Profligate / Surfin’ 63 Cat / Grand Poobah / Tiburon/St. Barth
RoadTrip / C&C 121 / John West / Emeryville
Running Free / Ericson 38-200 / Don and Christine Taugher / Alamitos Bay
Sabbatical / Valiant 40 / Phil Kumpis / Hermosa Beach
Santana / Catana 411 / Scott Stephens / Channel Islands
Shadowfax / Jeanneau 43 / Steve George / Alamitos Bay
Silk Purse / Baba 30 / Jim Holsberger / San Pedro
St Somewhere / Beneteau 440 / Pat McCormick / Alamitos Bay
Tempest / Jeanneau 46 / Steve & Lauri Moffett / Alamitos Bay
Trouble / Mason 43 / Tom Olsen / San Diego
True Blue / Beneteau 50 / R. Clemenson & T. Kosterman / Marina Del Rey
San Francisco Bay Area sailors have been thrilled by more than our fair share of humpback whale sightings this year, but Julia Smith, Marianne Armand and Debbie Fehr had a close cetacean encounter of another kind on July 23. When the three friends were sailing in a YRA Series race aboard Fehr’s Meliki on San Francisco Bay south of the Bay Bridge, a bottlenose dolphin apparently thought the Santana 22 would make a great playmate, frolicking off the bow of the Tuna during the last weather leg of the race. "We had just rounded the green daymark off the entrance to Alameda Naval Air Station when we saw it," said Armand, who’s seen in the video riding the port rail. "It stayed with us for 15 minutes." The dolphin’s leaps elicited squeals and laughter from the racers.
video by Julia Smith
Smith said that most of the other Santana sailors also saw it. "We needed to tack but decided to hang with the dolphin. So we got second place in the second race. We got first in the first race, so we won the day, and the dolphin was so amazing to see."
"We’ve been getting calls from all around the country," said Armand. A naturalist told her that there are about 100 bottlenose dolphins on the Northern California coast, but they don’t usually come into San Francisco Bay. The dolphins were apparently drawn north by warm El Niño waters in 2001 and stuck around, mostly in Monterey Bay.
The trio of sailors was interviewed by KPIX News, which also ran more of Smith’s video clips.