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Category 1 Hurricane to Hit CA Next Week?

July 10, 2015 – Southern California

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

One weather model predicts a tropical storm hitting Ensenada and maybe Southern California next Friday. We'll bet a nickel it doesn't.

© 2018

We’re not sure where Mark Michelson got the accompanying weather map, which he says "depicts a Category 4/5 hurricane that had turned the corner down around Cabo. Looks like a Category 1 or 2 as it goes by Ensenada, and then a Cat 1 or tropical storm when it arrives in Southern California, if it arrives at all. Again, the storm hasn’t even formed yet, but it made my morning to see some actual fireworks forecast to come my way."

For what it’s worth, Passage Weather is forecasting a broad hurricane having formed well off the coast of Mexico by Friday July 17, but never coming very close to Cabo, let alone Ensenada or Southern California.

The National Hurricane Center reports that "concentrated showers and thunderstorms associated with a low pressure area centered about 1,300 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California Sur have become better organized during the last 24 hours. Further development is expected and a tropical depression will likely form over the weekend while the low moves generally northwestward." They say there is a 70% chance of formation in 48 hours and a 90% chance of formation in the next five days.

A Passage Weather model shows the storm, which hasn't even formed yet, to be well off Cabo more than a week from now.

Photo Courtesy Passage Weather
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Making short range forecasts of tropical storm and hurricane paths and forces is difficult. Making such forecasts before the storms have even formed is . . . well, impossible.

The 1939 California Tropical Storm, aka the 1939 Long Beach tropical storm, aka El Cordonazo, and aka The Lash of St. Francis, is the only tropical storm to have made landfall in California in the 20th Century. (A hurricane hit San Diego in 1858.)

The 1939 California Tropical Storm was a deadly one, claiming 48 lives at sea alone. Six people caught on beaches were drowned. Twenty-four died aboard a vessel named Spray as it attempted to dock at Point Mugu. The two survivors, a man and a woman, swam ashore and then walked five miles to Oxnard. Fifteen people from Ventura drowned aboard the fishing boat Lur. And many vessels were blown ashore.

Flooding killed another 45 people in Southern California, as downtown L.A. got more than five inches of rain in 24 hours and Mt. Wilson got more than 11 inches. Beachfront houses all along the coast were washed away.

So while it’s unlikely California is going to get hit by a tropical storm or hurricane this month, it’s still possible.

Beau Vrolyk, who has restored the schooner Mayan, which formerly belonged to rocker David Crosby, says his dad told him about the last time a tropical storm hit the Los Angeles area. "He was at the Los Angeles YC for the big blow in 1939. He says it knocked the yacht club off its foundation and sank half the fleet in the fish harbor. There were 10-ft breakers inside Los Angeles Harbor. There are still a few folks around the Los Angeles YC who remember it."

- latitude / richard

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

What's Up With Cabo Fuel Prices?

July 10, 2015 – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Lying at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is a logical stop for cruisers when heading both south and north. But a new fuel dock charge there has some sailors fuming.

© 2018 Marina Cabo San Lucas IGY

In recent weeks we've received a number of complaints from northbound cruisers who were outraged at having been charged a docking fee in addition to the price of the fuel they took on at Marina Cabo San Lucas. By the tone of their emails it's clear that these sailors assume the new fees are a cash grab by the marina. But there is another side to this story.

Cabo Marina's Director of Marine Operations Darren Carey explains the situation: Previously, a government fuel surcharge of roughly 5% was added to the cost of fuel at marinas. But with Mexican fuel prices steadily rising throughout the country in recent years — now roughly $1 per gallon higher than in San Diego — government agencies decided to eliminate the add-on surcharge, and instead charge a dockage fee based on the vessel's length. The theory being that this would give a break to small commercial operators such as the modest day-fishing boats that dominate the Cabo Marina. 

The new government-imposed fuel dock use fee has been a shocker to northbound boaters who need to top up their tanks. In US dollars the fee for a 42-footer is about $129.

© 2018 Carol Heffernan

Carey insists that the marina is not making any extra money off the new regulations, and that their basic fuel prices are virtually the same as in local gas stations, despite the higher cost of operating a water-based fuel station. Customers can easily test that assertion, as payment for fuel and the docking fee are broken down into two separate transactions. "We're selling fuel at the lowest prices we're permitted to sell at," he says. Because Cabo Marina is by far the largest seller of marine fuel in the region, the new system was instituted there first (March 1), but it may soon be imposed on many, if not all, Mexican marinas. 

Due to Latitude 38's running of the annual Baja Ha-Ha rally, we've had good relations with Cabo Marina for more than 20 years. While the marina has always welcomed our fleet, Carey, who is a sailor, is the first manager who has seriously tried to stimulate more business from the sailing community, as his facility is widely known solely as a sportsfishing center. "I've spent four years trying to build a transient flow of sailboats through here," he says. "The last thing I want to do is harm those efforts."

Terry Moore of the 2014 Baja Ha-Ha entry Imagine reports that he wasn't charged any dockage tariff when he fueled up at Puerto Los Cabos recently (it lies 15 miles east of Cabo), so that may be an alternative for northbound cruisers — at least temporarily. Another way to ease the sting of the new fee is to treat yourself to a night in the marina while passing through Cabo. Carey explains that in his negotiations with regulators, he was able to get permission to offer a discount on the fuel dock fee to marina tenants — apparently whether they stay one night or 365 — which amounts to roughly a 75% reduction in the per-foot fee. The other Cabo fuel dock at Marinas de Baja is now closed.

- latitude / andy

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Ad: Svendsen's Boat Works

July 10, 2015 – Alameda, CA

© 2018 Svendsen's Boat Works /

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Weekend Racing Preview

July 10, 2015 – Northern California

Racer X and Mouton Noir

Racer X and the Garcia Passoa 47 Mouton Noir had a remarkably competitive start in the two-boat doublehanded division of the LongPac.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The SSS LongPac started yesterday morning off Golden Gate YC. The race, for singlehanders and doublehanders, takes the fleet 200 miles out to an imaginary turning mark (anywhere on longitude 126° 40'), then back to the finish at GGYC. The tracker, which updates hourly, shows the J/105 Racer X in the lead of the doublehanded division, and Temerity, an Olson 34, leading the singlehanders. Both are the farthest to the north of the 15 boats still racing this morning. The time limit is Wednesday at midnight.

Temerity at the bridge

David Nabors on Temerity passes under the Golden Gate Bridge on the outbound leg of the biennial LongPac race.

© 2018 /

On Saturday, the three-part YRA Summer Series will begin where the Spring Series left off, in the South Bay. You can read about the last Spring Series race in Racing Sheet in the July issue of Latitude 38.

On July 11-12, Gold Country YC will, like last year, host a High Sierra 'Alternate' Regatta for dinghy classes on Scotts Flat Lake. (The High Sierra Regatta on Huntington Lake was canceled again this year due to the drought.) Snipes, Banshees, Day Sailers and Lasers are among the classes planning to attend. The water level is also low on the lake outside Nevada City, so keelboat launching and retrieval may be problematic.

The Rio Vista Grand Slam for windsurfers returns to Rio Vista today through Sunday. This is a revival of events that were popular in the heyday of windsurfing in the stiff breeze of the lower Sacramento River. Speed, slalom and freestyle events are planned, the latter of which will be held close to shore for the enjoyment of spectators at Sherman Island Regional Park.

Vallejo YC's Wednesday night beer can race next week will also serve as the Pink Sail & Pink Party, a fundraiser for cancer research.

Santana 22s headed for a leeward mark

Tunas schooled in Monterey for their 2014 Nationals. This year's Santana 22 class championship will be held on San Francisco Bay.

© 2018 Kristen Soetebier

The Santana 22 class is fishing for Tunas to come out for some competitive racing and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the class at their Nationals, hosted by Corinthian YC in Tiburon on July 17-19.

The YRA's Westpoint Regatta on July 18 promises to be a weekend full of fun, starting with Treasure Island YC's Pre-Race Reception at the Waterbar on the San Francisco Embarcadero on Friday, July 17. Sequoia YC in Redwood City will host the post-race party on Saturday night. A pancake breakfast on Sunday morning will fortify those making the delivery home. Check out the marks in Redwood City here. Only five boats are needed to create a one-design class. Registration (through Jibeset) will close at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday the 16th.

For many more races in the region this weekend and next, see our Calendar.

Whether you're keen on making sure everyone out there racing is fully geared up for safety or you're chafing at all the new regulation (and expense), US Sailing wants to hear from you. The national organization is currently soliciting recommendations for safety equipment requirements. You can comment about each rule at

- latitude / chris

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Ad: Sale Boat of the Day

July 10, 2015 – Pt. Richmond and Sausalito, CA


© 2018 KKMI /

Rattler has just completed a major refit with new teak decks, new engine, generator, winches and rigging. She is a classic rare design with a sea-kindly hull shape. The shallow draft/centerboard make her perfect for cruising. She is 100% ready to go! Located in Oahu, HI. Asking $494,000.

Go here for full specifications.

Please contact Ken Keefe at (415) 332-5563 or email

© 2018 KKMI /

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