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Napa River Dredging to Begin Soon

March 30, 2016 – Napa County, CA

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Sailing or motorsailing up the Napa River is always fun — unless, of course, you get stuck on a sandbar for hours waiting for the tide to rise. But that possibility may soon be greatly reduced.

Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Cruising up the Napa River is widely known as a pleasant change of pace from typical Central Bay sailing. But for many keelboats owners, fear of running aground in the shallow, snaking waterway has been a deal-breaker. We're happy to report that such fears may soon be allayed, as the mighty Napa is soon to be dredged — for the first time since 1998.

According to the Napa Valley Register, work will begin in August to deepen a 13-mile stretch from downtown Napa to the Highway 37 bridge in Vallejo. With oversight from the Army Corps of Engineers, private dredging contractors will begin August 1, and will hopefully complete their work by mid-October. According to Rick Thomasser, operations manager for the Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, dredgers are expected to remove roughly 300,000 cubic yards of sediment. The city of Napa will complete additional dredging outside the Corps-maintained 75-foot-wide navigation channel.

Most of what you see here, including the public dock, is the result of downtown Napa redevelopment during the past 20 years. But some of Napa's most interesting attractions are its vintage buildings, including the Napa Valley Opera House and dozens of classic Victorians. 

© 2018 Art Hartinger

For sailors, this all means easier access to the downtown Napa waterfront, which was completely upgraded in recent years, including the addition of a long public dock. Planning a cruise up the Napa has always been a bit tricky, as you need to come and go when tides are relatively high, yet not so high that you lose bridge clearance. As veteran Napa River explorer Art Hartinger explains, "Vertical bridge clearances on charts are referenced to Mean High Water in tidal areas. Therefore if the existing height of tide is below MHW, there will be greater clearance. If the existing height of tide is greater than MHW, there will be less clearance." Make note that the popular Napa Valley Marina (and boatyard) has excellent directions here for successfully navigating the river. 

Art Hartinger's sloop Pied à Mer made it to the downtown dock in 2014 without going aground. But Art had to hold his breath as her 50-ft mast slipped beneath the Butler Bridge.

© 2018 Art Hartinger

As we pointed out in our Favorite Destinations feature in the March issue of Latitude 38 (page 82), there's much to do in downtown Napa — including tasting some of the best wine in the world. It you head up there this fall, after dredging has been completed, please drop us a line and let us know about your cruise.

- latitude / andy

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

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Looking for an Inspirational Speaker?

March 30, 2016 – The World of Sailing

You might consider Jack van Ommen, one of Latitude’s heroes. Readers might remember that after going bankrupt in his early 60s, van Ommen had almost nothing left to his name but Fleetwood, a Nadja 29 he completed from a kit and had sailed in the Singlehanded TransPac many years before. She was sitting on a trailer and in need of much work.

At that point a lot of people would have given up on the rest of their lives. Not Jack. Driven by faith, he got his boat ready and provisioned for sea. When he left Alameda bound for Vietnam, he had but $150 to his name and the promise of a moderate Social Security check. A couple of days later he had to be rescued by the Coast Guard in extremely adverse conditions off Monterey.

Even in this old file photo you can sense Jack's upbeat attitude. It's hard to keep a good man down — or shorebound — for long. 

Photo Latitude / Archives
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Despite the inauspicious beginning, Jack and his modest boat and modest monthly income managed to cover 48,000 miles and visit 51 counties in nine years before his journey came to an abrupt end during a November storm near Mallorca. His beloved Fleetwood ended up in a million pieces.

While it might seem contradictory, Jack’s voyage was far richer for the fact that he had so little money, as it resulted in his developing countless deep friendships.

As Jack will confirm, one incident of bad luck can lead to disaster. The original Fleetwood met a very sad end.

© 2018 Jack van Ommen

He now has a sistership, also named Fleetwood, with which he plans to complete his ‘around the world in 80 years' voyage.

In late August, Jack will set sail again to complete his circumnavigation. Until then, he's looking for (unpaid) speaking engagements to tell about his travels and promote his recently published book, SoloMan. He's available between now and April 15, and then again from late May until late August. He can be contacted by email.

- latitude / richard

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Ad: California Offshore Race Week

March 30, 2016 – California

© 2018 California Offshore Race Week /

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April Racing Preview

March 30, 2016 – California

The most prestigious event on the West Coast in April will be the 52nd Congressional Cup hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club. A dozen of the top-ranked skippers in the world will compete as part of the World Match Racing Tour. The Congo Cup will be held on April 5-10, but two teams have yet to be chosen. Those spots will go to the top two finishers of this weekend's Ficker Cup.  Both events will be sailed in Catalina 37 monohulls. Spectators can watch the action from the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

Schooner sails by Point Loma

The America's Schooner Cup serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

© 2018 America's Schooner Cup /

Another spectator opportunity this weekend farther down the SoCal coast will be the America's Schooner Cup in San Diego on April 2. Shelter Island will be a good venue from which to view the wind-blown eye candy.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, many clubs will kick off their summer beer can series in April. Find a series near you on our Beer Can page. Leading the charge into April, Berkeley YC will transition from Sunday afternoon Chowder Races to Friday evening beer cans on April 1. BYC's Wheeler Regatta, with buoy racing on Saturday and a pursuit race on Sunday, will round out a full weekend for that club.

Island YC's Doublehanded Lightship will sail around the San Francisco Approach Buoy this Saturday. Sign up today to avoid a late fee. Ocean racers will have a second go at the 'Lightbucket' on April 16, when the OYRA season opens.

Outsider under the bridge

Greg Nelsen's Azzura 310 Outsider exits San Francisco Bay in last year's Doublehanded Lightship Race.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Richmond YC's Big Dinghy Regatta offers Saturday buoy racing and a Sunday pursuit race around Brooks Island on April 9-10.

The singlehanders and doublehanders of the SSS will Round the Rocks on April 23. An optional skippers' meeting will be held at Oakland YC in Alameda on April 20, which will also be the deadline to enter the race.

JetStream, Yucca and Bullet at RYC

A varied threesome chase one another at the RYC finish line of last year's SSS Round the Rocks Race.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

NOSA's Newport to Ensenada Race will start on April 22 off Balboa Pier, with events leading up to the start beginning on April 17. Three courses are offered this year: Short (62 miles, San Diego to Ensenada), Standard (125 miles, Newport to Ensenada) and Long (176 miles, leaves San Clemente Island to port). Dana Point YC will host a half-day Safety at Sea Seminar this Saturday with the N2E in mind.

The YRA's WBRA (Wooden Boat Racing Association) has morphed into the CBRA (Classic) this year in order to include more classes. Cal 20s, Santana 22s, and Alerion Express 28s are now invited to join Bears, Birds, Folkboats, IODs and Knarrs. Their series will begin on April 23.

Raft-up at VYC

The finishing boats pack themselves into Vallejo YC's harbor as tightly as rush-hour commuters on BART after the YRA's biggest race of the year.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Great Vallejo Race will set sail to Vallejo YC on the last day of April and sail back to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge on Sunday, May 1. The YRA is experimenting with downwind ratings in the Saturday race, which is often but not always mostly downwind. The YRA explains: "Saturday's Dual Scoring brings a whole new competitive angle to the race. Saturday's race will be scored under Downwind Ratings and individual trophies will be awarded based on those placings. In addition, we're also scoring Saturday's race under standard PHRF, and those placings will be added to Sunday's placings to determine overall placings for the GVR weekend."

Find all of the above and much, much more in the Calendar section of Latitude 38's April issue, coming out this Friday.

- latitude / chris

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