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Potter Yachters Strike Again

April 5, 2010 – Suisun Bay

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

In a scene reminiscent of David and Goliath, a West Wight Potter teases the behemoths in the Mothball Fleet moored in Suisun Bay. © 2018 Goose Gossman

"A mere two weeks after our caper in the mud in Redwood City (see April's Sightings for the full story), our intrepid fleet of micro-cruisers sailed out of Benicia the last weekend of March to visit the Mothball Fleet," writes Dave Kautz, who sails a O'Day 192. "Great weather, great sailing, interesting 'scenery'. By my quick count, there were 15 boats — all under 20 feet." And it appears that, this time, they all managed to stay out of the mud!

Unless you're sailing a Potter or some other shallow-draft boat, don't venture out of the main channel or you may become 'mothballed' yourself. © 2018 Google Earth

The Mothball Fleet — also known as the 'Ghost Fleet' — is a large flotilla of retired ships moored in Suisun Bay, just east of the Benicia Bridge. Officially dubbed the 'National Defense Reserve Fleet', these ships can ostensibly be ready to provide shipping within 20 to 120 days in the event of a crisis, but their appearance — scaly, rusty, apparently crumbling — makes one wonder.

Size matters -- Smaller boats can get into all sorts of tight spots that bigger boats can only gaze at through binoculars. © 2018 Dave Kautz

According to Wikipedia, "external painting and other cosmetic-appearance work is generally deferred since it is not detrimental to the ability to activate and operate the vessel," while corrosion and mildew are kept at bay to keep the vessels usable and inhabitable. But a February U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration inventory of the fleet shows that 38 of the 89 boats moored in Suisun Bay are slated for disposal. The fleet's superstar — the WWII-era battleship USS Iowa — isn't one of them. Instead, 'The Big Stick' is in the process of being donated to not-for-profit group so it can be turned into a museum.

- latitude / ld

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Injured Puddle Jumper Evacuated

April 5, 2010 – Middle of the Pacific Ocean

Around 5:45 a.m. on Thursday, April 1, a crewmember aboard the Pacific Puddle Jump boat Wind Child was injured during an accidental jibe. Michael Kalahar, 57, was reportedly sitting at the forward end of the cockpit when the Beneteau First 36s7's preventer failed, sending the boom sweeping across the cockpit. Instead of being hit in the head — a common injury during accidental jibes — Kalahar's throat was snagged by the mainsheet, slamming his head into a winch and pinning him against the bulkhead. According to boat owner Rudy Heessels's blog, crewmember Kevin Hendricks, a former paramedic, restarted Kalahar's breathing and tended to his deeply lacerated head.

Four Air National Guard pararescuemen jumped from a Coast Guard C-130 to effect the rescue of an injured Puddle Jumper. © 2018 USCG Petty Officer 3rd Class Henry G. Dunphy

Coast Guard Duty Marine Investigator Al Daniel told us that a Coast Guard C-130 flew four Air National Guard pararescuers to Wind Child's location, 1,400 miles southwest of San Diego. Once in the water, the rescuers inflated a small boat and made their way to the sailboat, where they stabilized Kalahar. Wind Child then rendezvoused with the AMVER vessel Cap Palmserston, and Kalahar was transferred to their infirmary for the trip to San Diego.

Poised on the edge -- Pararescuers line up to take their turn. © 2018 USCG Petty Officer 3rd Class Henry G. Dunphy

Last night, a few hundred miles out, Kalahar and the pararescuers were medevac'd to the hospital, where he is in stable condition. Scans show small areas of trauma to the brain that reportedly shouldn't be a problem, but he was still unable to swallow at this writing. His esophagus and larynx will be examined today.

As for the Sequim, WA-based Wind Child, a vet of last fall's Baja Ha-Ha, her four remaining crew — Rudy Heesels, Dave Taylor, Kevin Hendricks and Lawrence Hettick — are continuing on to French Polynesia . . . no doubt with dampened enthusiasm. Our thoughts are with the crew and Kalahar.

- latitude / ld

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April 5, 2010 – Sausalito & Pt. Richmond

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Weekend Racing Wrap-up

April 5, 2010 – The Bay

Doublehanded Farallones Double Trouble
Mo Gutenkunst keeps Pat Whitmarsh working hard aboard the J/125 Double Trouble on the way back in from the island in BAMA's Doublehanded Farallones Race. The pair took elpased time honors among the monohulls, finishing almost 15 minutes ahead of Michael Diepenbrock's Swan 45 Rancho Deluxe. © 2018 Andy Costello

There was plenty going on this weekend between the bulk of the Clipper Race fleet arriving, BAMA's classic ocean race — the Doublehanded Farallones Race — and the college sailors tearing up the Cityfront at the St. Francis Invitational.

Timber Wolf
David Hodges' Timber Wolf rolls under the Bridge on the way to first monohull overall. © 2018 Erik Simonson /

Saturday started off pretty gloomy — there wasn't much breeze, and nary a hint of sunshine until the early afternoon. A three-knot ebb saw a few over-earlies eat it while trying to get back to the starting line in the three- to five-knot southerly in the Doublehanded Farallones.

While not particularly breezy this year, the DHF got a substantial residual seaway from the fronts that rolled through last week. Here, David Rasmussen's Synergy 1000 Sapphire gets consumed by a trough while Bob Braid's Centurion 40s Willow ascends a peak. © 2018 Rich Hudnut Jr.

Once outside the Gate, the fleet of about 65 boats in nine divisions were treated to a lumpy sea state with swells in the 10- to 14-ft range but never more than 12-15 knots of breeze until they got back into the Bay.

Urs Rothacer's F-31 Tatiana on her way to a win in the four-boat multihull division. © 2018 Erik Simonson /

You'll find the results here — you may want to follow the link as they don't yet have their own link on the BAMA website.

Will Paxton drives while Bryan Moore engineers some righting moment as Motorcycle Irene rolls out the Gate on the way to a second overall among the monohulls. © 2018 Dave Keane

Over on the Cityfront, St. Francis YC and Stanford hosted what's the coolest freakin' intersectional regatta on the West Coast's college sailing schedule — the St. Francis Intersectional. What better than to have a Bay Area team win it! The Cal Maritime Keelhaulers came up with a 14-point victory against some of the best from the PCCSC and elsewhere.

St Francis Regatta
The college sailors at the St. Francis Intersectional got a surprise visit from a 68-ft Clipper 'Round the World racer. © 2018 Erik Simonson /

Thanks in no small part to a dominant 28-point performance in A-Division by senior skipper Sean Kelly — fresh off winning the Laser Midwinters West last weekend at Richmond YC — with senior crew Andrew Freeman and Sophomore crew Jessica Schember. The trio finished some 18 points clear of the UCSB Gauchos runner-up A-Division crews. In B-Division, senior Charles Davis teamed up with senior Sebastien Laleau, sophomore Nevin Garcia, and freshman Matthew Van Rensselaer to finish comfortably in fourth. Stanford ended up in fourth overall, and the Stanford women were in seventh, while Cal finished up in 15th.

California skipper Pete Rollason happily greets his wife and son. Photo Courtesy Clipper Ventures
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Over at the San Francisco Marina last night, it was pure jubilation for the crew of California, as they finally made the Bay not long after sundown. After being dismasted some 1,800 miles from the finish and having to deal with all-around crappy weather the rest of the way to the Bay, it was only fitting that Cali and her escorts, Hull & Humber, Spirit of Australia and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, should have a chance to dry out. Unfortunately, the weather didn't see it that way, and instead the teams got pouring rain! That makes the rest of the bulk of the fleet for now, and there will be a variety of formal activities planned while the Clipper 'Round the World Race fleet is here on the Bay. The boats will be open to the public for tours from 10 a.m.-noon and 2 p.m.-4 p.m. today. The crew recruitment team will be on hand at South Beach YC at 6 p.m. before heading over to OCSC in Berkeley at 7 p.m. April 12.

- latitude / rg

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