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No Direction Home

March 16, 2009 – Golden Gate Channel

Emergency rudder
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Vitesse Too gets a tow home. Photo Latitude / JR
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Grant Hayes and crew Bill Schwob were about halfway back to from the Lightship when they heard the dreaded ‘bang’. It was a riveted piece holding the rudder shaft together on Hayes’s Hobie 33 Vitesse Too. Without control, they suddenly went from doing pretty well in Saturday's Doublehanded Lightship Race to spinning into a roundup with no way to steer out of it.

Although one of the toughest and best-made ultralights out there (watch this Hobie 33 Crash Test YouTube video sometime), H-33 rudders are 'notoriously' weak in this area. Fortunately, Grant and Bill were aware of the potential problem, and were prepared. Or thought they were. Once they wrestled the sails down, they deployed an emergency rudder they carried aboard. It had worked okay during tests in calm water, but proved useless in the bumpy conditions in the ocean. Their inboard engine also proved ineffective, as the prop is offset to one side and the rudder couldn’t compensate for it. But the scariest part of the whole adventure wasn't the roundup, or getting the sails down. It was that the wind, waves and windage of the bare-poles boat conspired to start it sailing north at about four knots — right toward the Potato Patch.

They called the Island YC race committee, and then called for assistance. The first tow was provided by the nice folks on the Columbia 30 Tutu, who were not sailing the race, but had been out in the channel practicing. However, despite Grant and Bill deploying a drogue made from a bosun’s chair, the slippery Hobie kept surfing up to overtake Tutu. The Coast Guard took over the tow off Point Bonita and got Vitesse Too safely into Horseshoe Cove. “A big thank you to both Tutu and the Coast Guard,” says Grant. "They both did a terrific job.”

Happily, there was no ‘collateral’ damage to the boat, sails or crew. Even the rudder and lower shaft stayed attached and were unharmed. Hayes hopes to have the steering repaired in time for the SSS Corinthian Race on April 11.

- latitude / jr

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

Ship Damage by Its Own Container

March 16, 2009 – Queensland, Australia

In one of those odd twists of fate, last week a ship lost 31 containers in a storm off eastern Australia — and was itself damaged by one of them! The bit of poetic justice occurred aboard the Hong Kong-flagged Pacific Adventure near Moreton Island off the Queensland coast. It was unclear whether the ship hit the container, or the container was swept into the ship, but the result was a spill of up to 25,000 gallons of fuel oil, which drifted ashore and blighted 10 miles of coastline on Queensland’s popular Sunshine Coast and offshore islands. But Murphy's Law wasn't done yet: one of the containers — all of which were full of ammonium nitrate — burst open before going over the side, spewing three tons of the the poisonous white powder all over the midships portion of the ship. The crew managed to stop the fuel leak by pumped fuel from the damaged tank into other tanks, but as a final insult, the ship sprang a second oil leak as it pulled into Brisbane on Friday.

- latitude / jr

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Going Back to the Old Ways

March 16, 2009 – Bahia Del Sol, El Salvador

Beach House
When Scott and Cindy couldn't find a convenient place to haul, they resorted to careening their cat. Photo Courtesy Beach House
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

One of the biggest problems with larger cruising cats is that there aren't very many places that have big enough Travel-Lifts or marine ways to haul them out. So as Scott and Cindy Stolnitz of the Marina del Rey-based Switch 51 Beach House discovered, sometimes it's best to just go back to the old ways. We're talking careening.

Beach House had to be careened because Scott thought they'd lost their port transmission while crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec. Getting a replacement transmission from the States was a snap. Using DHL Express, it arrived in Guatemala City in less than three days. But assurances they could haul Beach House on a marine way in Guatemala proved to be false, as the boat then on the ways wasn't going to be leaving for months.

Careening Beach House gave Scott a rare excuse to revert to his youth by playing in the mud. Photo Courtesy Beach House
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

So they moved on to Bahia del Sol in El Salvador, where it was thought they could use a 'tire-grid' for careening. It sounded promising because more than 50 boats had done it before. Unfortunately, it wouldn't lift Beach House high enough out of the water.

Plan B was to careen the boat on a sandbar in the middle of the estuary, something they noticed a guy with a trimaran was doing. After marking the spot with bamboo poles, and getting great assistance from Alex the mechanic, they did just that. Despite much understandable anxiety, it went very well. In fact, it went so well they're going to do it again starting at 2:30 a.m. on March 25 in order to put on new props.

Careening, another
Scott and his helpers had a four-hour window in which to get their work done before the tide came back in. Photo Courtesy Beach House
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The transmissions in saildrives generally have poor reputations, but in this case, the problem was the J Prop, not the saildrive. So now Beach House is carrying around a saildrive as a spare part.

Why do Scott and Cindy have to careen their cat again, as opposed to putting the props on while the boat is in the water? Scott feels the visibility is so bad in the estuary that the chance of losing a part while putting on the props is too great. That and the fact that careening proved to be a much easier process than he'd expected.

For details on this adventure, see the April 1 issue of Latitude. And if you have any careening experience, we'd love to hear about it.

- latitude / rs

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Weekend Racing Wrap-up

March 16, 2009 – The Bay and Slightly Beyond

Green Buffalo
Green Buffalo snortin' home to second in Division C in the Island YC's Doublehanded Lightship Race. Photo Latitude / Rob
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Whether you felt like going shorthanded, dinghy-style or good old, fully-crewed 'round-the-buoys, there was plenty of racing action on the Bay this weekend. Island YC's Doublehanded Lightship Race brought out 46 boats which were treated to breeze into the high teens and current favorable enough to get the first boat to finish  — Darren Doud's F-31R Roshambo — home in a little under 2h, 20m. The first monohull home was Trevor Baylis' modified J/100 Brilliant in just under 3h, 20m. The full results for the 25-mile race are already up on the club's website at the link above.

The 505s had 18 boats sail at least one race at St. Francis YC's Spring Dinghy regatta. © 2018 Erik Simonson /

The second of the three St. Francis YC's Spring invitationals saw 53 dinghies take to the Cityfront for two days of racing at Spring Dinghy. The 505s have their world championships on the Bay this summer, and the top West Coast names took advantage of the tune-up opportunity on the bay. The result was 18 boats were scored over the course of the series, although there were quite a few letter scores of the 'did not start' variety. Apart from the 505s, there were seven 29ers, six Finns, nine Lasers, eleven Laser Radials and four Wetas. Results are at the link above.

Big Daddy
Richmond YC's Big Daddy Regatta put big smiles on a lot of faces. © 2018 Peter Lyons /

Richmond YC's Big Daddy Regatta was the third big event this weekend, and in terms of sheer numbers, it was the largest. Just under 100 boats showed up for Saturday's three buoy races, sailed on two courses by six one-design and four PHRF divisions. Sunday's pursuit race drew 81 boats and Peter Stoneberg's Formula 40 Shadow — see the March issue of Latitude 38 for more on the Bay's newest high-performance multihull — notched her first win in her first ever race. Full results for both are at the link above.

- latitude / rg

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