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The Loss of the Schooner Raindancer

March 8, 2013 – Grenada, West Indies


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Raindancer was lost on a reef at Grenada. © 2017 John Rogers

Maybe it's because wood yachts are organic, like us humans, that we find the loss of a wooden boat to be more depressing than the loss of a fiberglass or steel boat. And perhaps the most depressing of all is the loss of a classic wood schooner. Alas, that's what John Rogers of the San Diego-based Deerfoot 62 Moonshadow — previously sailed around the world in just 16 years by George Backhus of Sausalito — had to report on from Grenada last month.


It seems all the more tragic that such a beautiful wooden yacht is no more. Photo Courtesy Raindancer
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"On February 20, we were at Clarks Court Bay, South Grenada, for the South Grenada Regatta. The regatta events started with a concert with the band on a barge in the middle of the bay. You attended by showing up in your dinghy. Maybe 100 dinghies rafted around the barge for the live music at the unique venue. Front and center for the festivities was the beautiful 75-ft schooner staysail schooner Raindancer, built by Stevens in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, many years ago. Nobody could suspect that she was just hours away from her demise.

"After the concert, we watched Raindancer make her way out through the reef in the direction of the Le Phare Bleu Marina, which is in the next bay to the east. To tell you the truth, I was glad that I didn't have to navigate Moonshadow through the reef at night, because I wasn't sure that I would make it. Unfortunately, Raindancer, which had been chartering out of Grenada for years, didn't make it through the narrow passage. She hit the reef, and before long was driven hard on it.


Raindancer failed to negotiate the narrow channel in the dark. © 2017 John Rogers

"Pumps were quickly started and brought to the stricken schooner, and fingers were crossed that she could be pulled free during the next high tide. It was gut-wrenching to see such a beautiful boat in distress.

"The owners attempted to refloat her the next day by pulling her off with a tug, but she began to break up under the strain. They had no choice but to abandon the attempt to save her. Consequently, it looks at though Raindancer will stay on the reef until she is no more.

"According to the boat's website, Raindancer had been working out of south Grenada for about five years, and has 'prospered' under two captains, owner John Whitsett and his associate Kevin Dakin. We're not sure who was in command when she went on the reef.


The gorgeous yacht in happier days. Photo Courtesy Raindancer
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"The website noted that Whitsett grew up in Southern California, where he started sailing as a teenager. He later moved to Northern California after a tour in the Navy, and 'eventually purchased the famous Stone Boat Yard in Alameda.'During his tenure, the yard built six boats, including one of the last wooden 6 Meters and three cold-molded yachts — including his own racing boat, the 36-ft Chuck Burns-designed Rolling Stone. After leaving the marine industry for a time, Whitsett returned to the Stone Yard to help in the restoration of the 103-schooner Eros, now long-owned by Bill and Grace Bodle of Pt. Richmond. It was during the reconstruction of Eros that Whitsett located Raindancer in Grenada, purchased her, and began her restoration."

The beautifully restored schooner, with varnished topsides, was a frequent participant in classic regattas in the Caribbean. She will be missed.

- latitude / richard

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Classy Deadline the 15th


More Darling Strangeness

March 8, 2013 – Redwood City

The weird tale of the theft of John Fruth's Sausalito-based Oyster 82 Darling and her subsequent grounding at Pacifica's Linda Mar Beach just keeps getting weirder. After we wrote our update on Wednesday, it was announced that two of the three suspects aboard had been released. Prosecutors dropped all charges against Dario Mira and Lisa Modawell, a couple from Aptos, after it was determined they had no idea the boat was stolen. They say Leslie Gardner of Gilette, Wyoming claimed he'd received a huge inheritance that included the boat. After partying on the boat all day and well into the night, Gardner wanted to sail the boat to Half Moon Bay, said Mira after his release. We all know the outcome of that little trip.


Prosecutors remain baffled by Leslie Gardner's motivations for stealing Darling. © 2017 San Mateo County Sheriff

Be sure to check out the April issue of Latitude 38, which will include a letter from a fellow who picked up a scruffy hitchhiker on Monday with an amazing tale to share. "He had been partying hard on a boat that he had been hired to crew on by a very unpleasant character named Les, who claimed to have recently inherited $270 million, including the boat," writes Victor Vesey of the South Beach-based Winga 862 Swedish Promise. "He said it was a 98-ft sailboat with six bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms, and it was stocked with 'more liquor than a liquor store'. Eventually things became stressful on board, and my passenger was yelled at for having drank the last of the beer, which he explained was really unfair since he hadn't been having any of the speed."

Read more on April 1.

- latitude / ladonna

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Ad: Doublehanded Farallones

March 8, 2013 – Gulf of the Farallones


BAMA's Doublehanded Farallones Race is a simply challenging race course with only one mark to round. The deadline to enter is March 27!
© 2017 BAMA / www.sfbama.org

It's time to make plans and prepare your crew and boat for BAMA's 34th Doublehanded Farallones Race on Saturday, March 30. Register today to avoid a late fee. The skippers' meeting on March 27, 7 p.m. at Encinal YC, will feature talks by Stan Honey on America's Cup and VHF technology, LCDR Amy Wirts,
Waterways Management Division Chief, USCG Sector San Francisco on Rescue 21 and other updates, and a panel discussion with local experts on the Gulf of the Farallones. This year will be the inaugural for a "Double Dame" crew award. Encinal YC has graciously opened their club as a community service and will have a special bar menu available at 5:30 p.m. when the doors open for registration, help with GPS Downloads, Jibeset and review of new resources to improve safety.

See www.sfbama.org for updates and details.

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Almost Nothing

March 8, 2013 – San Francisco Bay

Remember the lawsuit filed by Todd Tholke, the liveaboard musician and member of the St. Francis YC, against French Energy Team over the 'salvage' of their AC45? You'll recall that the lawsuit was settled in February and, as is always the case, the financial settlement was not disclosed.
 
A Latitude source, who has seemed to know the inside scoop of such things for years, reports that the Tholke received "almost nothing."
 
Naturally, we don't know that to be true, and "almost nothing" is open to wide interpretation.

- latitude / richard

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Weekend Racing Preview

March 8, 2013 – San Francisco Bay and L.A. Harbor

Crowd at Angel Island
In the Big Daddy pursuit race, each skipper chooses which way to round Angel Island and Alcatraz. The bulk of the two fleets converge at the windiest part of the course, in The Slot west of Alcatraz. © 2017 Erik Simonson / www.pressure-drop.us

You can still enter Richmond YC's Big Daddy Regatta, but only until 5 p.m. today (Friday). You can sign up for Saturday's buoy racing, Sunday's pursuit race, or both. See www.richmondyc.org. If your weapon of choice is smaller, you have until 10 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday) to enter St. Francis YC's Big Dinghy, which is also the first event in Svendsen's Laser Grand Prix. Meanwhile, even smaller boats with littler sailors will be at Peninsula Youth Sailing Foundation in Redwood City, sailing in BAYS Opti Series #4. See www.pysf.us/regattas.

29er start
29er skiffs are among the classes sailing in StFYC's Big Dinghy this weekend. © 2017 Chris Ray / www.printroom.com/pro/crayivp

Clubs hosting midwinter series that are wrapping up this weekend include: Tiburon YC, Island YC and Lake Merritt Sailing Club.

In SoCal, 42 boats are racing 139 miles around Catalina and San Clemente Islands. The Islands Race starts today in Los Angeles Harbor and finishes in the San Diego Channel. Newport Harbor YC and San Diego YC co-host the event. The boats carry Yellowbrick transponders, so you can follow the race online. If you've been wondering where all the 'sleds' went, you'll have your answer at www.islandsrace.com.

Can Vallejo's Cal Maritime Academy pull off a three-peat? The Bay Area school is the reigning champion and hosting team of the Port of L.A.'s three-day Harbor Cup, which starts today. Ten of the top college teams from around the country are competing in Catalina 37s. See http://ez-host2.com/tp60/page.asp?ID=296239.

Wednesday, March 13, is the date for the SSS Corinthian Race skippers meeting. Held at Oakland YC, the meeting will start at 7:30. March 13 is also the deadline to enter the March 16 race. Details and online entry are available at www.sfbaysss.org.

- latitude / chris

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