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Outboard Thief Caught in Sting

October 21, 2015 – Oakland-Alameda Estuary

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Despite steps taken to secure them, outboards in dry storage yards have been relatively easy pickin's for thieves.

Photo Courtesy Christopher Harvey
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

More than anywhere else in the Bay Area, the Oakland-Alameda Estuary has been plagued by outboard motor thefts for years. And perhaps no one has been more frustrated by this ongoing problem than Gary Helms of Helms Yacht Sales, who keeps many boats for sale at Alameda Marina. In recent years, he or his clients have had 12 to 16 outboards stolen, mostly off of the Corsair trimarans that are Helms' specialty.

While Alameda police say they have taken steps to recover the stolen property, few if any motors have been recovered — until now. After the outboard was stolen recently off Helms' client Bret Nelson's trimaran, Nelson took creative steps to recover it. He perused Craigslist in search of an engine for sale that met the specs of his, and when he found one — listed in Monterey — he and his son hatched a plot of their own. Claiming to be curious if the engine was truly a Tohatsu, rather than a Chinese knockoff, Nelson's son convinced the seller to reveal the engine's serial number. Once he'd confirmed that it belonged to their family, the Nelsons took their info to Alameda police, but they were reportedly less than enthusiastic to pursue the lead.

A friend in another police agency stepped up and convinced authorities in San Jose to take action, and we're told that a thief was apprehended who had Nelson's engine plus several others. 

If you have had your outboard stolen and want to see if it has been recovered, call Gordie Bowen of the San Jose police at 408-421-6771.

Despite the success of this investigation, it is a safe bet that future outboard thefts will occur in the Estuary and elsewhere. Here are other anti-theft/pro-recovery tips to consider: 

  • Paint your outboard in distinctive colors, so it is less of a target and easier to identify.
  • Owners should always have the make, model and serial # for their motor available for police.
  • Outboards should always be locked with a case hardened lock with a sturdy chain and/or stainless steel cable.
  • Outboards should have the owner’s driver’s license engraved, preferablly in several places, to facilitate identification and return if recovered. 
  • New GPS-based tech options, some with motion-sensitive sirens, are coming onto the market. Many are already popular with cyclists.

- latitude / andy

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A Picnic Rather than a Potluck

October 21, 2015 – Turtle Bay, Baja California Sur

Potluck line in Turtle Bay

The lack of facilities on the beach at Turtle Bay resulted in very long lines for the potluck. Who wants to wait in line?

Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you're provisioning for the 22nd Annual Baja Ha-Ha that starts on Monday, the Grand Poobah wants to alert you to a minor change in the Beach Party at Turtle Bay. In the past, it’s always been a potluck, but this year the Poobah has decided to make it a picnic instead.

In recent years the potluck concept has become difficult for several reasons. First of all, the lack of facilities. The Turtle Bay beach site only has a few tables, so there was very little room to set out all the food. Second, dazzled by literally more than 100 dishes, potluckers had a horrible time deciding what they wanted, which resulted in others having to wait in line for as much as an hour. Third, some new to the potluck concept would contribute a bag of chips, yet walk off with Everest-tall plates of carefully prepared foods, apparently indifferent to the inequality of it all and the fact that some might not get any food at all. This was a problem for the volunteer 'Food Police', who didn’t want to be police at all, yet were charged with encouraging moderation.

So we're going to try the picnic concept. We will have four grills on which to cook stuff and plenty of charcoal, so there will still be opportunities to share. But assume you’re going to be self-sufficient when it comes to dining.

No worries, however, as we'll still have volleyball, beach games, boogie boarding, the floating island, the war of genders tug-of-war, music, dancing — and lots of cervezas for sale. 

Instead of waiting in line for potluck food, Ha-Ha'ers can better use their time playing in the ocean. The water should be salubriously — is that a word? — warm. 

Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / richard

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Ad: San Francisco Sailing Company

October 21, 2015 – San Francisco, CA

© 2018 San Francisco Sailing Company /

Send resumes and questions to Edward.

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Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

October 21, 2015 – San Francisco Bay and Beyond

Mistress II with bridge

Skippered by Jennifer Hinkel, Resilience Racing's Mistress II sailed in a Farallon Clipper one-design fleet in the Jessica Cup on Saturday, then raced in the Classic Yacht division of the Leukemia Cup hosted by SFYC on Sunday.

© 2018 Chris Ray /

Saturday, October 17, started with some rain squalls and little wind on the Cityfront for the Jessica Cup, hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club." Some of San Francisco Bay's grandest old dames came out to play in a strong flood," reports photographer Chris Ray, "and once the sun poked through the wind came in."

Kate II

Kimball Livingston's 1946 46-ft Blanchard sloop Kate II was another entry in both the Jessica Cup and the Leukemia Cup.

© 2018 Chris Ray /

At the same time, StFYC also hosted the Joe Logan/Calvin Paige Regatta for Mercurys and Stars, respectively. Racing was delayed for an hour and a half to wait for wind. Then the breeze built into the high teens and the smaller Mercs eschewed the fifth race. Doug Baird and Mac Kilpatrick topped the eight Mercs. Doug Smith with Isao Toyama won the Paige trophy. You can view more of Ray's photos from Saturday at

Wild 1 north of the Richmond Bridge

John Lymberg's Flying Tiger Wild 1, running under spinnaker north of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in the Vallejo 1.

© 2018 /

The Singlehanded Sailing Society ran their final 2015 regatta over the weekend. On Saturday, 54 singlehanders had what one called "a very pleasant sail" from the Berkeley Circle to Vallejo YC. On Sunday the fleet returned to Richmond YC, with most of the boats now sporting two humans. A quick exit from the Napa River was followed by light air, wind holes and building adverse current (a flood), until south of Red Rock, where the Big Guy flicked on the big fan in the sky and set it on 'high', catching spinnakers in all sorts of compromising positions. Trophies for the Vallejo 1-2 and the SSS season will be awarded at Oakland YC on October 28.

Express 27s Verve and Dianne at Point Pinole

The Express 27s had a particularly competitive Vallejo 1-2. Pictured here at Point Pinole on Sunday are Ron Snetsinger and Leo Pershall on Verve and Steve Katzman and Jeff Felicetti on Dianne.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For Saturday's two races on the Berkeley Circle in the YRA Fall Championship Invitational, Berkeley YC's Bobbi Tosse reports: "A light wind stayed from a semi-steady direction most of the time. A modest weather front wandered through, threatening us with liquid from the sky, and left interesting clouds in its wake. Twelve of the YRA's season winners chose to participate." Damien Campbell's Corsair 31 Trident was the winning multihull. In a déjà vu of their win at Rolex Boat Big Series, Wayne Koide's Sydney 36 Encore won PHRF 1 because they had more firsts than Mark Kennedy's Flying Tiger CentoMiglia even though they tied for total points. PHRF 2 also had a tie for first. "Zhenya Kirueshkin-Stepanoff's Melges 24 Insolent Minx grabbed the first by a mere five seconds over Gerry Brown's Farr 38 Mintaka 4 in the second race of the day."

Tiburon YC member Joan Storer passed away on October 17, 1989. On October 17, 2015, 10 boats with mostly female skippers and crews, including two father-daughter teams, sailed in the Joan Storer Regatta. A champagne toast kicked off the day, with members of Joan's family in attendance. Son John couldn't be there, but he donated the trophies and hosted the food and drinks. A perfect breeze of 10-15 knots, a heavy flood, and a 7.5-mile course with five mark roundings made for challenging sailing.

David and Evie with the Joan Storer Cup

David Thompson and Evie Ashcroft accepted the Joan Storer Cup, having won PHRF 2 with the Nordic Folkboat Jalina.

© 2018 Susie Woodrum / TYC

Shala Youngerman and her Southwestern YC crew became back-to-back two-time winners in the Linda Elias Memorial Women’s One-Design Challenge, sponsored by the Long Beach/Los Angeles Women’s Sailing Association and hosted by Long Beach YC. Nine teams hailing from Seattle to San Diego raced for two days in Catalina 37s.

- latitude / chris

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