Looking back from our vantage point today, the most influential development of the year 1977 was probably the launch of the first Apple computer. Then again, the precursor to the GPS was also revved up that year by the US Department of Defense. And sadly, 1977 was also the year that America lost its most influential pop icon, Elvis, to an overdose.
Meanwhile, here in the Bay Area, the very first issue of Latitude 38 magazine hit the docks in ’77, and soon attracted a dedicated — almost cult-like — following of readers who considered the free, black-and-white monthly to be the ‘bible of the West Coast sailor.’ As evidence of its minimally funded entrepreneurial roots, the first few issues were literally laid out on the salon table of founder Richard Spindler’s Bounty II sailboat, which he and his then-wife Kathy McCarthy lived aboard in Sausalito.
With the arrival of Latitude‘s official 40-year anniversary next month, we’ve been kicking around a variety of ideas for special editorial content to include in the April 2017 40th Anniversary issue, and we’d greatly appreciate your input as we fine-tune our game plan.
So if you recall being particularly impressed or enlightened by our reporting on a particular sailor or subject, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Or, if you found some aspect of Latitude‘s (pre-PC) editorial to have been lame or inappropriate, we’d welcome such a critique also.
Putting out each issue with a small staff and limited resources has always been a heck of a lot of work, but one of the things that makes it worth the effort — probably the most gratifying to Latitude staffers — is when someone tells us that our stories, photos and insights have "kept the dream alive" for them, whether that dream was buying their first boat, heading out the Golden Gate to go cruising, or racing to Hawaii. So again, if we’ve kept a sailing dream alive for you, we’d love your input. (And, of course, medium-resolution photos that support your comments are always welcome also.)
More often than not we try to live in the moment rather than focusing on the past. But looking ahead to our April anniversary issue we’re already having fun doing some well-earned reminiscing. So again, we invite you to chime in also.
In the January 18 ‘Lectronic Latitude, we asked the following quiz question: ‘What is the official maritime rule most often broken by sailors?’
Somewhat to our surprise, almost everyone who responded — and there must have been more than 100 — got it right.
Under COLREGS Rule 34 (g): "When a power-driven vessel is leaving a dock or berth, she shall sound one prolonged blast."
Coming in a close second in unobserved maritime rules is the one that requires vessels to sound three short blasts when the engine is put in reverse.
Mind you, we don’t have statistical proof that these are the rules most frequently broken, we’re just pretty sure they are.
Here are a couple more sound signals: If two vessels are approaching from opposite directions, one short blast indicates confirmation of wanting to pass using the traditional protocol, port to port. Two short blasts indicates wanting to pass starboard to starboard. Five short blasts, commonly sounded by big ships on the Bay, means danger or the approaching boat’s intentions are not understood.
One prolonged blast every two minutes should be sounded when operating an engine-powered vessel in low or restricted visibility (i.e. dense fog). If you’re operating a sailboat in low or restricted visibility, you are required to sound one prolonged blast and one short blast every two minutes.
One question begets another. If just about everybody knows they are required to sound a blast whenever they are motoring away from their dock, how come nobody does it? When is the last time you heard anyone with a recreational boat sounding a single blast when leaving the dock? Write us here.
During the years that we’ve been editing Latitude 38’s Calendar, we’ve noticed that a mustering of energy in preparation for the spring sailing season manifests itself as a spate of seminars during the break between the holidays and the beginning of evening beer can racing.
A portion of all crewmembers plus the skipper for most ocean races are required to be graduates of Safety at Sea Seminars. For example, in OYRA races 30% of the crew plus the skipper must have taken SAS. So sailors are eager to attend these before the first offshore races in March-April. February 12’s SAS in Berkeley is full. The next ones in the Bay Area will be the two-day seminars at SFYC on April 7-8 or 9-10. Others can be found in SoCal and the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, the half-day Coastal SAS is not currently available online, but we’ll alert you when it is.
On February 25, Encinal Yacht Club in Alameda and the YRA will host a San Francisco Bay Weather Seminar, presented by Mike Dvorak of Sail Tactics (Impacts to Local Weather) and Lee Chesneau (The Big Picture).
On the same day, Berkeley YC will host a North U Rules & Tactics Seminar with Andrew Kerr, particularly important this year as the Racing Rules of Sailing have been updated for 2017-2020.
US Sailing Race Management Seminars will be held up and down the West Coast in the couple of months. The Bay Area one will be hosted by Encinal YC in Alameda on March 11.
Due to the conflict with the SSS Three Bridge Fiasco trophy meeting this Wednesday (7:30 p.m. at Oakland YC), BAMA has moved their 2016 Doublehanded Farallones awards presentation / 2017 pre-skippers’ meeting to next Wednesday, February 15, at Aeolian YC. Even if you didn’t win anything at either of the above regattas, if you raced there’s a shirt waiting for you.
On March 4, Richmond YC will host Sail a Small Boat Day, a free opportunity to get out on the water and try various centerboarders and other small boats.
Kame Richards of Pineapple Sails will offer his popular Tides Talks at the Bay Model in Sausalito on March 29 and April 5 at 7 p.m. These sessions always book up, so reservations are a must. Contact Jim Tantillo by email or call him at (707) 759-2045. $15 cash only at the door.
For many more fine events along the West Coast during February and early March, please see our Calendar.