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Dwarf Sperm Whales Rescued in La Paz

June 6, 2012 – La Paz, Baja, Mexico


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

A group of cruisers and whale specialists rescued a pair of dwarf whales -- a mama and her baby -- from La Paz Bay last week. Photo Courtesy Karma Seas
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

At first sight they looked like dolphins at play but my girlfriend, Maru Sanchez, soon realized they were in trouble, maybe trapped in a net. On the deck of our custom racing cruiser Final Escape, at anchor in the channel at La Paz, Maru was enjoying her first coffee on May 29 as sea mammals made their usual rounds. They couldn’t be whales, could they?

Calling other cruisers to help, I heard myself saying on the VHF, “My girlfriend keeps telling me they’re whales, but they have to be dolphins because of their size.” What I didn’t know is that sperm whales don’t have to be as big as a house — rarely they also come in small packages, known as the Dwarf and Pygmy species. Virtually never sighted at sea, these miniatures are only found occasionally when stranded in shallow water, usually dead already.

At the scene I was joined by Pitt, William and Eran, the captains of Karma Seas, Prana and Patient Pariah. Sure enough there were two Dwarf sperm whales in extreme distress but there was no net, just confusion. Mom was 7’6” long and her baby was only 4 feet. In every way except their size they were the same as their huge cousins, with a lighter, lower coloring like a waterline on a boat.


It took quite a lot of effort to calm down the mother and her frightened baby. Photo Courtesy Karma Seas
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Were they injured? Certainly there appeared to be plenty of blood. Three times a huge cloud of red filled the sea as the mother thrashed her flipper. But we found no damage in her hind portion so we assumed this was afterbirth being released. Later we discovered that this unusual animal keeps a sack of red ink in its tail, ready to squirt out as a distraction to its enemies, like the black ink of a squid.

Hugging and stroking the whales calmed them down, and there was no more ink. They had wide cuts elsewhere though, sustained from the sharp rocks where the mother insisted on dragging her baby. For two hours we coaxed them to deeper waters, but each time the mother pulled us back to the beach again, presumably because her GPS was telling her to head north and the sand banks of El Mogote weren’t marked on her chartplotter.


Four hours later, the whales were escorted out of La Paz Bay and into deep water. Photo Courtesy Karma Seas
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It was clear that we needed specialist help and, through Marina de La Paz, it came in the form of the Association for Investigation and Conservation of Marine Mammals in their Habitat. Their enthusiastic team examined the whales and sent me to find towels to act as makeshift slings. All eventually handled by the Mexican Navy and other relevant official bodies, nearly four hours after the initial sighting, both mother and baby were released in deep water outside of La Paz Bay. Since Dwarf sperm whales don’t breach the surface of the sea like their big brothers do, we don’t expect to receive any postcards, but at least they’re swimming in the right direction now.

- geoff scott andersen

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New items in Our Chandlery

Classy Deadline the 15th


Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

June 6, 2012 – California Delta, San Francisco Bay, and Beyond

Wild Bunch 2
If you didn't round up, you didn't race in this year's Delta Ditch Run. This is Sarah Deeds' winning Wylie Wabbit Wild Bunch 2. © 2017 Erik Simonson / www.pressure-drop.us

Sarah Deeds won Saturday's wild Delta Ditch Run on her Wylie Wabbit Wild Bunch 2, correcting out to first place overall, the first time in the 22-year history of the race that a woman has been the winning skipper. Eric Willis and Bruce Edwards were first to finish with the fastest course time on the Nacra F-20C catamaran Curved Wood. Their elapsed time of 4h 18m 11s fell short of the course record of 3h 57m 46s set by the D-Class cat Rocket 88 in 1998. The successful finishers left in their wake a race course littered with dismastings, crew falling overboard (and successfully recovered), capsizes, groundings, torn sails, and broken poles and fittings. Some years the racers try to count their jibes; this year they might have counted more round-ups than jibes — only they were too busy to count anything. See results at www.stocktonsc.org. We'll have more in the July issue of Latitude 38.

Arc Angel round-up
The SSC-based Sonoma 30 Arc Angel tore out a shroud chainplate and had to motor home. © 2017 Don Laverty

Laserpalooza, at which rigging trucks from Svendsen's and West Marine co-existed peacefully in the West Marine Alameda parking lot, drew nine Lasers, one Vanguard 15, and about 20 people. "Half of them were active participants at multiple levels of Laser sailing," said Laser District 24 secretary Nick Burke. "A quarter are or were known in at least one club or fleet, and a quarter were new faces. Next year we plan on holding Laserpalooza much earlier in the season, say March. Unfortunately, this late choice of date conflicted with the Delta Ditch Run and with the Laser Nationals." See d24.laserforum.org. (District 24 covers Northern California and most of Nevada.)

Laserpalooza
Roger Herbst, fleet captain for the Wednesday night Laser racing at Shoreline Park in Mountain View, helped a new Laser owner put the boat together at Laserpalooza. © 2017 Nick Burke

The Laser Nationals were held May 30-June 3 at Houston YC. Erik Bowers of Minnetonka YC won; Sean Kelly of St. Francis and San Francisco YCs came in second. In other Laser class news, San Francisco fleet captain Tracy Usher has been elected president of the International Laser Class Association. See www.laser.org.

The course in Braille
Team Japan checks the course layout for the California Invitational Blind Sailing Regatta. © 2017 Dave Bloch

At Island YC's California Invitational Blind Sailing Regatta, Danette Davis of Marin Sailing School Program for the Blind remarked, “There’s some stiff competition out there and some aggressive sailors.” Friday’s practices saw at least one minor collision and lots of yelling for rights. Competing on J/24s on the Alameda Estuary were one team from Japan, one from New Zealand, two from Canada, two from the Carroll Center in Boston, one BAADS team and two from Marin Sailing School.

California I
California I team crosses the finish line in first place. © 2017 Jonathan Stevens

The competitive spirit carried on into Saturday’s racing. By 1:00 p.m., the wind had built to 10-15 knots. The racing was not without controversy, with three protests resulting from a number of aggressive port tackers at the start and a failure to observe inside overlap at the leeward mark. Sunday was a bit of a different story as the wind never quite filled in as well from the Bay. The first race was postponed for quite a while first due to an injury, and then once that was sorted, a lack of wind. After nine races and one throw-out, California I won the regatta by five points over San Francisco's BAADS team in second place. More photos are available at tinyurl.com/CIBSR2012.

Skylark
James Josephs' Bird Boat Skylark was made for conditions like these. © 2017 Chris Ray / www.printroom.com/pro/crayivp

Photographer Chris Ray describes Saturday's racing in the weekend's Woodies Invitational on the Cityfront: "On a day that started out foggy, breezy and cold, St. Francis YC held a regatta for IODs, Knarrs, Folkboats, Birds and Bears. The sun came out for the first race, the wind started shifting around and everybody had a good time. Then the tide turned, the fog came back, and amid gusts in the mid-to-high 20s and very lumpy conditions, everybody really had a good time." See full results at www.stfyc.com.

Olympic class sailors are enduring dreary weather in Weymouth, UK, site of the 2012 Olympic sailing events, at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta. Conditions on day two were described as 18 knots of cold southeasterly breeze in unrelenting rain. The regatta continues through June 9. You can follow the action at www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk.

The Farr 80 Beau Geste reached Norfolk Island safely yesterday with all crew aboard. The Hong Kong-flagged sloop had been racing in the Auckland to Noumea (New Caledonia) Race with an international crew skippered by Gavin Brady when, according the New Zealand sources, her "hull and decking began deteriorating quickly." Details of the structural damage have yet to be released. Norfolk Island is a small Pacific island between New Zealand, Australia, and New Caledonia.

- latitude / chris

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Latitude 38 Logowear for Father's Day

June 6, 2012 – Mill Valley

Crissy Fields is giving her dad Latitude 38 shirts and hats for Father's Day. What's on your shopping list?


"My shopping's done!" said Crissy.
Photo Latitude / Annie
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC / www.latitude38.com

To receive your package in time for Father's Day (June 17), please place your order by June 11 at www.latitude38.com/chandlery/chandlerycover.html.

- latitude / chris

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Sunsail 40s Arrive on the Bay

June 6, 2012 – San Francisco Bay

Due to the enormous size of the San Francisco Bay sailing community, the occasional arrival of a brand new boat is to be expected. But when more than a half dozen identical sisterships arrive in unison directly from a European factory, that's pretty big news.

Sunsail 40
Eight identical sisterships arrived at San Francisco's Pier 80 last week, and will soon be seen blasting across the Bay. Photo Courtesy Sunsail
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Early last week, eight Sunsail First 40s (built by Beneteau) were off-loaded at a San Francisco wharf, then were taken to Svendsen's Boat Works in Alameda for commissioning. According the yard's Ray Ronquillo, the process of fitting them out with masts, rigging, electronics and other creature comforts will take a couple more weeks. Once commissioning is complete, the fleet will sail out of a new Sunsail base at Sausalito Yacht Harbor — the worldwide firm's first foothold on the West Coast of the U.S.

four Benes
Svendsen's staffers are busy adding rigs, electronics and hull graphics this week to Sunsail's new sloops. Photo Courtesy Sunsail
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Although Sunsail's fleet will undoubtedly compete for bareboat charter rentals with existing sailing clubs and schools, the company will also offer racing packages and ASA sailing courses, as well as corporate offerings such as team-building and leadership programs.

The comments of Sean Svendsen, V.P. of Svendsen’s Boat Works echo the assumption of many that the decision to set up a fleet here was strongly influenced by current and future America's Cup activities. “We are very pleased to be partnering with Sunsail on this expansion of their business. The arrival of the fleet is a strong indicator of the positive effect America’s Cup is already having on the Bay Area maritime industry.”

We're told that West Coast sailors are a major element of Sunsail's worldwide charter market, so many Bay sailors are undoubtedly familiar with the quality of their boats. Thus, the amenities of these new Sunsail 40s won't be altogether unfamiliar. They feature three-cabin, one-head layouts; large wheels; and chart plotters. But there's one big difference: these come with built-in heating systems! For more info call (800) 797-5907 or see the company's San Francisco web page.

bay sail
Crews wasted no time in test-sailing the first of the fleet to be commissioned. Photo Courtesy Sunsail
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / andy

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