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Who Ya Gonna Call?

February 18, 2015 – Antarctica

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

If the Polar Star hadn't been temporarily deployed to McMurdo Station, it's not clear how the stranded Aussie fishermen might have been rescued. 

© 2018 Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener / USCG

We've got to hand it to the US Coast Guard. At the same time that Washington politicians are showing the maturity of a pack of third-graders by threatening to let funding for Homeland Security agencies lapse unless Obama's recent immigration reforms are reversed, the dedicated personnel of the Coast Guard continue to put their lives in danger to rescue mariners in peril. No work stoppage. No slowdown. No whining.

As reported earlier, on Sunday a CG helicopter crew flew 150 miles offshore of Nantucket, MA into 60-mph winds to air-evacuate Jason McGlashan, 37, and his father Reg McGlashan, 66, from their 43-ft sloop Sedona. Rather than passing judgment on the idiocy of trying to sail south — and ultimately on to Australia — aboard a recently purchased, $10,000 eBay special when extreme weather was predicted, the Coasties arrived on the scene, lowered a rescue swimmer into the 43-degree water, and completed the rescue — despite the challenge of doing so in 25-ft breaking waves.

"All together now. . ." Tow lines snapped three times during the process of towing the Antarctic Chieftain to safety.

© 2018 Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener / USCG

Meanwhile, on the same day an even more ambitious CG rescue operation was playing out 7,000 miles away in the Southern Ocean. The 207-ft Australian-flagged fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain had been trapped in thick sea ice for nearly two weeks, roughly 900 miles northeast of Antarctica's McMurdo Sound, when the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star arrived to rescue the 26 stranded fishermen aboard and tow their vessel to safety. This was no small feat, as, according to a CG report, Polar Star had to "break through 150 miles of thick Antarctic ice and navigate around icebergs that were miles wide" in order to reach the Chieftain, which had broken three of its four props in the ice.

The 150-person crew "navigated through difficult weather conditions during the five-day rescue operation," reported a CG spokesman, "including heavy snow fall, high winds and extreme ice conditions. Coast Guardsmen aboard the Polar Star reported whiteout snow conditions early in the operation, and they were required to break through ice that had built up over several years, making it extremely thick."

If the Seattle-based cutter had not been temporarily deployed to McMurdo Station at the time, it is unclear if the stranded fishermen would have had an alternate means of escape. At 399 feet in length, the Polar Star is one of the Coast Guard's largest ships, and one of the world's most powerful non-nuclear icebreakers.  

Seen here on maneuvers off Antactica, the 399-ft Polar Star is one of the Coast Guard's largest and most highly specialized vessels. 

© 2018 Rob Rothway / USCG

When you venture offshore it's a great comfort to know the selfless personnel of the USCG have your back. To defund them for even five minutes would be the height of irresponsibility. 

- latitude / andy

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

February 18, 2015 – San Francisco Bay and Long Beach

Aquavit crew on the rail

The crew of the J/105 Aquavit were loving life on the water during Saturday's RegattaPRO Winter One Design.

© 2018 Martha Blanchfield /

San Francisco Bay west of Berkeley was a hotbed of activity over Valentine's Day weekend, as well as being, well, just plain hot. At least for February.

Blue spinnaker coming down

A spinnaker douse on the J/120 Chance.

© 2018 Martha Blanchfield /

Both Berkeley Yacht Club and RegattaPRO wrapped up their midwinter series for the season, with RegattaPRO sailing two races on Saturday and BYC sailing single races in separate series on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday start at BYC

The start of Division A at the BYC Midwinters on Saturday.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The podium finishers in the BYC Midwinters have won the opportunity for one more romp around the buoys, as they'll be invited to a Winners Race on Sunday, March 1.

Flexi-Flyer with purple spinnaker flying

Mitchell Wells' Soverel 33 Flexi-Flyer, racing on Sunday.

© 2018 Paul Kamen

Oakland YC's Sunday Brunch Series will also finish up on March 1. In that series, casual racing on the Estuary is sandwiched in between a morning meal at the clubhouse in Alameda and free hors d'oeuvres accompanying post-race prizes.

Aboard the trimaran Manu Ara

Gary Helms and crew on the Corsair 31 Manu Ara taking advantage of the benign conditions on the Estuary Sunday.

© 2018 John Tuma

We'll have more on the above Bay Area races in the March issue of Latitude 38.

On Saturday, Scott Dickson won the first stage of Long Beach YC’s Congressional Cup Club Sail-Off against five other LBYC match racing teams. Dickson beat out second-place finisher Dustin Durant when they met for the first time in the last race of the day. Sailing in Catalina 37s, the competitors saw 4 to 8 knots of breeze under warm, sunny skies.

Dickson and Durant will meet for the second and final session of the Sail-Off  on March 28. The winner of the Sail-Off will represent the club in the ISAF Grade 1 Congressional Cup match race on May 13-17. The second-place finisher will be invited to compete in the ISAF Grade 2 Ficker Cup on May 8-10. All of the above are hosted by LBYC.  

- latitude / chris

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Crew List Party March 11

February 18, 2015 – San Francisco, CA

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Are the New Charts Worse?

February 18, 2015 – The World of Electronic Charts

Charts of North and Central America and the Eastern Pacific

Navionics Gold electronic charts

© 2018 Cabela's /

It’s not unheard of for new software to be less well liked than earlier versions of the same software. We find this to be the case with Navionics, the very popular marine charting software. In fact, we find the new Navionics software for the west coast of Mexico and the Eastern Caribbean to be so annoying that we’ve kept our old iPad with the old Navionics software because we find that combination so much more user friendly.

What drives us nuts with the new software? First of all, when trying to find distance from one place to another, you’re supposed to tap the screen to set up the first point. But unless you tap it the exactly the right way — and apparently we tap it the wrong way 90% of the time — a big message box that we don’t want to see comes up and dominates the screen. Thanks for nothing. With the old software, figuring out distances was trouble-free and took about two seconds.

The second thing we find irritating about the new Navionics software is that it can be difficult to determine the distance between two places in an area that you’re not in currently. For example, if you’re in San Francisco, and for trip planning purposes you want to know how far it is between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, you have to manipulate the onscreen chart to the P.V. / Manzanillo area. Then you tap the screen to get the first of two ‘distance’ dots. Of course the taps don’t work, and after about 15 seconds, the chart automatically reverts back to the San Francisco area — whether you like it or not.

It’s entirely possible that we’re doing something wrong, but the old software was intuitive and easy. That’s not the case with the new Navionics software.

Furthermore, unless you hold your iPad or device level, the arrow showing what direction you’re going gets all out of whack. Since we’re often monitoring the speed and direction of our boat while lying in our bunk, the direction arrow is worthless — and once again, both frustrating and annoying. We didn’t have this problem with the old software.

It’s true that the new Navionics software has about 100 times more bells and whistles. We, unfortunately, are simple souls who just want to be able to get the basic information easily. And we’re finding we can’t do that easily with the new Navionics. Maybe we're old and grouchy, but Navionics can keep all their bells and whistles.

Are we just ignorant, or are you having similar problems

- latitude / richard

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