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The Refugees of Clipper Cove

November 30, 2009 – Clipper Cove & Marina Village

Refugees of Clipper Cove
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Blue Moon, Sin Ti, Candide, Silent Sun and Zeppelin formed the core of the Thanksgiving Day raft-up in Clipper Cove. Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Taking our own advice, some of the Latitude editorial staff could be found in Clipper Cove on Thanksgiving in the middle of a raft-up of revelers. At its peak, the raft-up played host to six boats, 14 people and one cat. It was definitely a Thanksgiving for the record books, with everything from the ubiquitous turkey and stuffing to fresh tuna and quinoa!

Oh you crazy kids
Those crazy cats on Storyteller and E-Z 'n Heaven - (from l to r) Kelly Vargas, Sven Dietrich, Marco Comegys, Donald Jones, Smerv Griffin, Jessica McEwan, Tina Pakoni & Rob Petrasy - were a hoot and a half! Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Ours wasn't the only raft-up in Clipper Cove. The Ranger 33 E-Z 'n Heaven and the Vilm 38 Storyteller formed the platform from which a gaggle of whacky partygoers consumed 'mass quantities of turkey' . . . and if we're not mistaken, beer.

Anchored nearby were two slightly more reserved raft-ups from Bay View Boat Club. We were a little jealous of their menu, which included lobster.

These Bay View BC members - the ones who could be roused from a Turkey Day nap, that is - pose for a quick shot before getting back to their lobster tail feast. Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The one thing you don't want to do when rafting up for a weekend is ignore the weather forecast. No matter how benign Clipper Cove usually is, wind storms out of the north — such as we had on Saturday — have a tendency to whip rollers into the cove, making for a very bad night's sleep.

Once a decision was made to break up our raft-up, the boats peeled off from one another, and the 'Refugees of Clipper Cove' ran with tails between their legs to Alameda's Marina Village. Known for his hospitality — and for having one helluva singing voice — harbormaster Alan Weaver found room for the bedraggled remains of our Thanksgiving raft-up.

Comfortably tucked into spacious slips and basking in the warmth of Alameda's sunny climate, we debriefed each other on what went right and, more importantly, what we did wrong. Though several valuable — but, thankfully, not costly — lessons were learned, everyone agreed that it was a fantastic and exciting weekend.

Maybe next year we'll aim for slightly more boring.

- latitude / ld

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High Winds & Waves Wreak Havoc

November 30, 2009 – California Coast

The wave-battered 34-ft sloop Sunyata was towed back to the Half Moon Bay anchorage Friday evening. © 2018 Jeff Berman

In contrast to all the cheerful family bonding and much-needed relaxation that was enjoyed over the holiday weekend, gale-force winds and big seas plagued mariners all along the California coast.

Within sight of the Half Moon Bay anchorage, a U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue team made a dramatic rescue Friday evening of Matthew Runte, 49, of Walnut Creek, who had apparently been thrown from the 34-foot sloop Sunyata not far from Pillar Point. However, after spending perhaps an hour in the water, Runte, who was wearing a lifejacket, was not breathing and could not be revived. His unidentified shipmate did survive without major injuries.

On Saturday, about 60 miles to the north, an elderly couple drowned a few miles north of Bodega Bay while attempting to pull up their crab pots before the worst of the weather arrived. The bodies of Nikolaos and Eudora Afentakis, 83 and 78 respectively, were found near Salmon Creek amid the wreckage of their 20-ft fishing boat.

That same day, six mariners were hurled out of their fishing boat when it was capsized by a breaking wave, estimated to be 8 to 10-feet high, at the entrance to San Diego's Mission Bay. All were rescued without serious injuries, as were the two lifeguards who were towing the fishermen back in — the lifeguard's tow boat also capsized.

These and other recent incidents serve as evidence that winter storm warnings and high surf advisories are no joke. Regardless if you are going sailing, fishing or whale-watching always check several weather sources before heading out, and be sure all your safety gear is on board and working properly.

- latitude / at

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What, No Pretty Pictures?

November 30, 2009 – Planet Earth

As much as we all enjoy a good sailing photo, if you're 2,000 miles from nowhere, you'll be glad to hear you can still get the text of 'Lectronic Latitude via Sail Docs on SailMail. Send an email with 'lat 38' in the subject line, and keep up with all the latest while you're at sea!

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Tasman Sea Rescue

November 30, 2009 – New Zealand

Have you ever wondered what it's like to try and rescue sailors from a stricken boat, when you're on a 700-ft long cruise ship? When they're not cruising their Sausalito-based Krogen motoryacht Mana, Kevin and Susan regularly work as travel guides on cruise ships. They sent us the following first-hand account of a rescue in the Tasman sea over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Rescue at Sea
Horizons in the distance as the RIB bashes its way to the stricken vessel. Photo Courtesy Mana
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Rescue In the Tasman Sea: The Cruise Ship Perspective

"Kevin and I were enjoying our voyage across the Tasman Sea aboard the the 700-ft all-suite Regent Seven Seas Mariner enroute to the New Zealand fjords when our ship received a distress signal from a sailor in the 'Roaring Forties'. Three hundred miles to the south of us, he'd lost his steering, was taking on water and had lost the use of his generator. According to the code of the sea, it's the responsibility of the nearest ships to assist in any way possible. So Stanislas Mercier de Lacombe, the captain of Mariner, made the decision to alter course to go to the aid of the sailor in need. It just so happened that it was Stan's first day in command of the vessel at sea!

"We plowed through heavy seas and building winds all that day and through the night, making our way south in search of the 52-ft German yacht Horizons, which was wallowing helpless in the rough ocean. Captain Stan announced that we would reach Horizons at about 5 a.m., but that he would wait until daylight to launch a rescue effort.

"Kevin and I got up early, and took binoculars and a camera to Deck 12 to look for the boat in distress. The Roaring Forties were living up to their name, as the wind was blowing 40 mph, the seas were over 20 feet, and the air temperature was in the low 50s. By that time we'd learned that the skipper in distress was Bernt Lüchtenborg, a very experienced sailor. Some organization had named him Yachtsmen of the Year in '07, and he's also an author, actor and philantrophist.

"What was Lüchtenborg doing in that part of the Southern Ocean? He was in the process of attempting to do consecutive non-stop solo circumnavigations, a trip that would have entailed 65,000 miles. His venture was endorsed and funded by many German sponsors. Horizons, his Glacer 52, was equipped with all the best and latest gear.

"When we finally spotted Horizons, she was several miles away, flying an orange steadying sail, and had set a drogue to try to mitigate the effects of the high seas. The boat looked mighty small as she rose and fell in the waves.

"The rescue boat launched from our ship into the roiling seas was piloted by Staff Captain Alain Mistre, who was accompanied by an engineer and bosun. All three seafarers had volunteered to risk their lives to save a fellow mariner. They were outfitted in survival suits and hard hats. After several attempts, they managed to pull alongside Horizons and assist the skipper off his beautiful yacht and onto the rescue boat. After they secured their passenger and his ditch bags, they headed back to the Mariner.

"The most dangerous part of the whole was getting the tender back onto the ship. The timing had to be exactly right for the crewmen to be able to grab the lines, hook them to the rescue craft, and be winched up — before the next big wave hit them. Passengers, crew and staff hung over the side of the ship to watch the life-and-death drama unfold. But the shackles held, and jerked the rescue boat out of the water and onto the side of the ship. Once everyone realized that the rescue was complete and nobody had been hurt, there was a thunderous ovation. The captain sounded the ship’s horn three times to salute the brave sailors on their job well done."

- latitude / rs

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