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Moby Dick in Richardson Bay

April 20, 2009 – Richardson Bay

Call Me Ishmael
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

This 'great white whale' caused quite a stink in Richardson Bay last week. © 2018 Tim Sell

The 'ick meter' was cranked up several notches last week when, on the same day the big wind storm rolled through, a dead gray whale made its smelly way around Richardson Bay. The Army Corps of Engineers wrangled the bloated beast and anchored it just outside the channel — off the Spinnaker Restaurant in Sausalito — to wait for better weather to tow it out to sea. "We're charged with removing debris from federal channels," said Chief of Public Affairs J.D. Hardesty. "That includes large items such as big logs or dead whales." He noted that the last whale they removed was seven years ago, but the year before that, they'd had five.

The seven-ton, 24- to 30-ft gray — probably a younger whale — has since filled the nostrils of Richardson Bay sailors with a fetid stench. One group of young sailors even bumped into it last night when they ran out of diesel just a little too close to the scene. "We had to push ourselves off of it," said one gal with a shudder. "Blech!" But not to worry, Hardesty reports that USACE contracted with a private party to tow the rotting behemoth out several miles past the Farallones for disposal early this morning. We can all breathe easy once more.

- latitude / ld

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

Taking the Bulls by the Horns

April 20, 2009 – Main Bay

Move on out, you dogies!
The start of the 2009 Bullship was in very light breeze. A butterfly actually passed us. Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It was about midmorning on Saturday when the theme from Rawhide started playing in our heads: “Movin, movin, movin; Though they’re disapprovin’; Keep them dogies movin’; Rawhide!"

As the lyrics tumbled forth, whipcracks and all, from that long-forgotten ‘50s TV show, the subconscious became conscious: we were in the midst of a mighty herd of 36 El Toros charging across the Bay in the 56th annual Bullship Race. Along our flanks were a dozen or so ‘cowships’ — larger yachts assigned to keep tabs on up to three Toros apiece. Right from the start off the Horizons Restaurant in Sausalito, to the finish off the end of the San Francisco Marina breakwater, it was a seagoing cattle drive of epic nuttiness.

First there was the wind, or in this case, lack of it. A nice five-knot morning breeze turned to almost zilch shortly after the 9:10 a.m. start, leaving the herd to ‘graze’ toward the Cityfront — and quashing plans for a massive ‘starboard tack’ assault on the departing crewed Farallones boats that started half an hour later. Then there was the big tide rip that stalled the fleet in a line stretching from about Horseshoe Cove almost to Harding Rock. The group closest to the Golden Gate broke through first, only to find that the ‘dying ebb’ was in fact having a Hollywood death that involved lots of prolonged gyrations. That’s when the equivalent of a ‘stampede’ occurred, with Toros getting flushed out under the bridge — an automatic DSQ — faster than the cowships could round them up. But the ‘cowboys’ and ‘cowgirls’ did a great job of wrangling the little boats before they got too far out on the range.

One-two punch: 'Toreadors' Skip Shapiro (left) and John Pacholski took first and second. Photo Latitude / JR
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A dozen boats made it to the countercurrent off the Cityfront — and thereby to the finish. First in was Skip Shapiro, a 10-time participant and first-time winner. John Pacholski was second, with Fred Paxton third. Shapiro also won the ‘Clydesdale’ division, for sailors over 200 lbs. There were also awards for longest distance traveled to compete, first maiden voyager, first woman, oldest competitor and others, all with a 'bullish' theme. And what about the two-boat Team Latitude? Our 'A' boat was in second place until the big flush. As for the 'B' boat, remember in those western movies when they sent cowboys back to search for lost strays . . . ?

Skip Shapiro didn't stick around to gather up his awards. He and fellow Bullshipper John Dukat were whisked over to the Circle to climb aboard Buzz Blackett's Express 27 New Wave in time for the second race in the Resin Regatta. New Wave won the Saturday race and, with Shapiro driving on Sunday (Buzz had a prior commitment), got a first and second. When you're on a roll, you're on a roll.

For complete results, visit

- latitude / jr

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Weekend Racing Wrap-up

April 20, 2009 – The Bay and Slightly Beyond

Andy Costello's J/125 Narrow Escape got the jump on the Crewed Farallones fleet, correcting to first overall by a half-hour. This came on the heels of an overall win in last month's Crewed Lightship for one of the Bay's most recent arrivals. © 2018 Peter Lyons /

If you needed a reason to give up a day of yard work or car washing this weekend, then you had plenty to choose from. In addition to the Bullship, there was another race where the majority of the competitors sailed out the Gate. The OYRA's Crewed Farallones got underway Saturday morning. Andy Costello's J/125 Narrow Escape corrected out to 1/2-hour win in the nearly 50-boat fleet, while Peter Stoneberg's Formula 40 Shadow took elapsed time honors after six hours and 51 minutes of sailing. Mark Jones and Will Paxton on Flash were the monohull elapsed-time winner, finishing some two minutes behind Shadow.

Lani Spund's Kokopelli2 leaves the City behind on a long, downwind slide south to Westpoint Marina. © 2018 Erik Simonson /

If you didn't feel like leaving the Bay, but wanted to stretch your legs, there was Oakland YC's Rites of Spring — a 12-mile Bay tour that brought out about 65 boats — sailing in breeze that ranged from 10- to 35-knots. Coming from the South Bay, there was yet another option, the inaugural Westpoint Marina Regatta — a 25-miler starting off Yerba Buena Island and rounding Alcatraz before sliding all the way down the South Bay to the brand-new Westpoint Marina.

(Front-to-back) Jim Gregory's Agent Smith, Jeff Moseley's Dinner Roll and Bill Melbostad and Bryan Moore's JR all posted top-five finishes in the 13-boat Etchells fleet at San Francisco YC's Resin Regatta; they spent Sunday viewing Andrea Cabito's transom as she sailed Spindrift to a 1-1 to close out the regatta one point clear of Moseley. © 2018 Erik Simonson /

For the buoy racers in one-design keelboats, San Francisco YC held court, hosting the Resin Regatta, which brought out 44 boats — Alerion Express 28s, Etchells, Express 27s, J/24s and Melges 24s — for the four-race series.

No matter which one you chose, they all beat chores!

- latitude / rg

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Pre-Season Safety Check

April 20, 2009 – Loch Lomond Marina, San Rafael

John Thompson and CG Auxiliary officer Rick Saber check the expiration dates on John's flare gun ammo. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

John Thompson's Tanzer sloop may only be 22 feet long, but she's fitted out with all the safety gear that would be found on a boat twice her size. We ran into John at Loch Lomond Marina on Sunday as his well-cared-for boat was being inspected by Coast Guard Auxiliary officer Rick Saber.

John, who's had a variety of sailing adventures in different parts of the world, knows the importance of keeping his safety gear properly stowed and up to date. So he contacted Rick to volunteer for the inspection — and passed without a problem.

Among the items inspectors look for are flares (with valid expiration dates), approved life jackets, waste disposal placards, proper sanitation devices and visual distress signals. It's smart to get your vessel inspected periodically, and having a recent certificate on hand will often exempt you from random boardings by Coast Guardsman patroling Bay waters. Rick and other inspectors will be happy to check your boat at a convenient time and place. Click here to see a complete inspector's form.

- latitude / at

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