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Whale of an App

October 22, 2014 – Our Watery Planet

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

In 2007, four blue whales like these were killed by ship strikes in and around the Santa Barbara Channel. In 2010, two blue whales, one humpback and two fin whales were killed by strikes in the San Francisco area and elsewhere along the north-central California coast. Meanwhile, several cruising sailboats have collided with whales off the West Coast in recent years. A 2009 incident resulted in the sailboat sinking off Baja, but fortunately her five-person crew was rescued by Coast Guard assets.

© 2018 A. Lombardi / NOAA

Whale populations have recovered dramatically since the age of international whaling, but those who migrate near shipping lanes are still often struck and killed. Meanwhile, sailors — especially those who transit coastal areas — are often concerned about colliding with cetaceans, for their own sake as well as for the whales'.

The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a NOAA affiliate, is encouraging West Coast sailors as well as commercial vessel operators to download a free Whale Alert app for iPhones and iPads, and participate in data collection efforts.

The app, which was developed by a collaboration of agencies and nonprofits, allows users to report sightings and view warnings. 

Photo Courtesy NOAA
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

According to GFNMS literature, "The app uses GPS, Automatic Identification System, Internet and NOAA nautical charts to provide mariners with a single source of information about whale locations and conservation measures that are active in their immediate vicinity. New features include information about California Marine Protected Areas, PORTS® (Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System) tide and weather data and the ability for the public to report whale sightings to databases that NOAA and whale biologists use to map whale habitats and migration patterns."

We haven't used the app yet, but we intend to do so as we sail south next week with the Baja Ha-Ha rally. Researchers tell us that 19,000 gray whales, in addition to other species, migrate along the coast between November and May.

The app also contains all sorts of useful info on whale identification, wind and tide info and more. 

Photo Courtesy NOAA
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / andy

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Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

Things Are Looking Great for the Ha-Ha

October 22, 2014 – San Diego to Mexico

What a difference a month makes. The photo here shows Alex Thompson's great, but older, Hugo Boss, with the damage caused by hurricane Odile. She was the second to last boat into the marina. Most boats did quite well, but there was damage to docks and other infrastructure. That's all being repaired, the sun is out, the fish are biting, and the marina is currently hosting 126 boats for the Bisbee Marlin Tournament.

Photo Courtesy CaptGib
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Let’s list what’s looking great:

1) The weather looks good. Passage Weather is suggesting mild downwind conditions for next Monday's start. In addition, the waters off Baja and mainland Mexico have cooled noticeably in the last couple of weeks, making the remote possibility of a late tropical storm even more remote. But it’s not as if the water is California-cold. The highs in Cabo have dropped from the 90s to the mid- to high 80s, and the lows are now in the low 70s. There are no clouds forecast for the next week. Sources tell us that things have blessedly cooled off in La Paz and Puerto Vallarta, which means the great winter weather is almost here.

2) You can still get your paperwork done!

  • Sherri Wilkerson drove to the Banjercito at Otay yesterday and in three hours had one of the ‘new’ TIPs. Otay is east of Tijuana and less than an hour from San Diego. (Why haven't Mexican officials mentioned this is a possibility?)
  • You can still get your nautical visas and file your Crew List online. (Do not go to Ensenada hoping to get a TIP and a Crew List — unless all your crew goes with you. You can get the TIP without all the crew, but not a Crew List.
  • Some people have had good luck getting their fishing licenses online; others haven’t. The site is often down. The Pesca office in San Diego closes at 2 p.m. H&M Landing sells licenses at Shelter Island, but only until Thursday of each week.

3) Cabo is looking good. Marina Cabo San Lucas reports that the Bisbee Marlin Tournament is going on right now with 126 boats in the harbor specifically for that purpose. Cruise ships and international flights have been arriving for two weeks now, and the utilities are working fine. Even more important, Squid Roe has reopened.

4) People are still looking for crew. Julia Brown with the Lauren William 41 trimaran FastAlley is one of those. She’s got one crewmember now and is looking for at least one other. She’s ultimately going to Panama, so this boat is a possibility for anyone wanting to get far south. You can reach Julia here. Mind you, the Baja Ha-Ha and Latitude 38 do not recommend either boats or crew. Everybody is on their own.

- latitude / richard

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Ad: Volpar Parts & Service

October 22, 2014 – Santa Clara, CA

Volvo Penta Parts and Service

© 2018 Volpar, Inc. /

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Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

October 22, 2014 – San Francisco Bay and Beyond

Open 5.70s waiting for wind

A familiar sight on San Francisco Bay since fall began: a fleet of racers waits for wind in the hot sun.

© 2018 Gerard Sheridan / SBYC

Hosted by South Beach Yacht Club, the Open 5.70 fleet held their Nationals south of the Bay Bridge last weekend. Joe Wells on The Rooster, with crew Synthia Petroka and Bruce Ladd, finished first after a tight battle against Le Petit Bateau skippered by Matt Siddens. Marc Finot on Frolic finished third just two points in front of the Anderson brothers on Boaty to take the 2014 championship series by a fraction of a point from Boaty.

Open 5.70 start

Now that's more like it!

© 2018 Gerard Sheridan / SBYC

On Saturday, Berkeley YC multi-tasked by running two regattas: their own Oktoberfest pursuit race around Alcatraz, and the YRA's Fall Championship, a victory lap for the season's top finishers. When the 18 boats in the YRA race arrived at the startline, the mark, FOC, was missing. "After an emergency phone call, a temporary buoy was dashed to the area and set in the proper location," said race chair Bobbi Tosse. After a two-hour postponement, Race #1 started. It took so long in the fading breeze that there was no Race #2 or 3. John Clauser's 1D48 Bodacious+ won PHRF 1, and PHRF 2 went to Richard vonEhrenkrook's Cal 20 Can O'Whoopass. Bob Harford's Express 37 Stewball won the Oktoberfest. For YRA results, see, and for Oktoberfest results, see

Kurt Lahr's Moore Wave*Ohs, with Vaughn Seifers, Alex Simanis, and David Rasmussen, won the Moore 24 Pacific Coast Championship hosted by St. Francis YC over the weekend. Seven Stars were racing too, with Steve Gould and Greg Sieck from the host club topping the leaderboard.

Kurt, Vaughn and Alex with the Moore 24 PCC ewer.

Kurt Lahr, Vaughn Seifers, and Alex Simanis showed off their ornate trophy back at Richmond YC. (Hey guys, sorry we interrupted your dinner!)

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Nine boats sailed in Sequoia YC's South Bay Championship on Saturday. "The first race was scheduled for 12:30, and, although all the boats arrived at the start area, the wind had yet to show up," writes race chair Tim Petersen. "There were three delays until the first warning horn sounded. Given the light winds, taking advantage of the continuing ebb current was an important strategy in reaching the first windward mark." The wind built to 15 knots during the second race. Alex Huang's J/29 L2O won the regatta.

At the same time, SeqYC hosted 15 El Toros for the final event in the fleet's Senior Series, the Corkscrew Slough Regatta. Light air and a lot of current ruled the day, compelling the racers to work the shallows for current relief, flirting with the muddy bottom. According to the Bull Session, "John Pacholski has the most uncanny ability to sail where there is only three inches of water." Pacholski sailed a shorter course than anyone else, and would have won, except that he "made a very magnanimous and friendly gesture at the finish line. John simply let the second place boat sail past him to give an honorary first place to another boat." That boat was sailed by Gordie Nash. See

Richmond YC hosted the Laser Short Course Champs on Sunday. A lot of SF Bay regulars were busy elsewhere, so the inland sailors made up the bulk of the fleet. Lake Washington Sailing Club won the team competition, and Tracy Usher of StFYC won the regatta. See for complete results. Starting on November 2, RYC will host short-course Laser sailing on most Sundays throughout the winter season; for info, see

- latitude / chris

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