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What's Your Spring Boatyard Project?

March 29, 2017 – The West Coast

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

In the spring of 2013, while doing research for a Boatyard Tour article, we met Rob Fenner, dedicated owner of Kittiwake, Bird Boat #9. We haven't heard an update on his extensive refit, but at the time we were tremendously impressed by his dedication.

Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

After the cold, gray and extremely wet winter we've just endured, it's a thrill to experience the warm, sunny days of spring — and get some much-needed work done on our boat.

With the spring and summer sailing season about to begin, we'd bet many do-it-yourselfers are gearing up to haul out in the coming weeks. If you count yourself among them — and you have a particularly interesting list of projects to tackle while your boat is high and dry — we'd love to hear about it. 

In fact, if your project list piques our interest, we might visit you in the yard and profile your project for an upcoming feature article in Latitude 38. Hey, this could be your opportunity to finally achieve your 15 minutes of fame in the magazine! If you're interested, shoot us an email here.

- latitude / andy

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Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

Beware of Unfamiliar Moorings

March 29, 2017 – The World Over

As we’ve written many times before, trusting your boat to an unfamiliar mooring buoy can be risky. During the 40 years we’ve published Latitude, we can recall many boats being lost because of problems with moorings.

The most recent mooring incident, and the one involving the biggest boat we can remember, happened on the night of March 23 at Saba in the Eastern Caribbean. The vessel involved is the 155-ft classically styled Elsa, which had been built in the Netherlands as Grace in 2004 by Scheepswerf Peter Sijperda.

Saba, about 15 miles from St. Martin, is a cone-shaped volcanic island with very steep sides. It’s home to some of the best diving in the Caribbean. Because it’s so difficult to anchor, island authorities put in a series of mooring buoys at Ladder Bay. By necessity, the buoys are quite close to the rocky shore.

How could such a very expensive vessel with nine crew, and guests, end up on the beach? In addition to surely having somebody on watch at all times, they must have an app like Drag On, which alerts boatowners if their vessels drag.

According to a group of Dutch guys who were at the scene, and even took a souvenir of the wreck (and who days later gave Doña de Mallora a dinghy ride back to our cat, ‘ti Profligate, in St. Barth), Elsa went on the beach because the skipper took a break from being on watch to take a shower. According to their unconfirmed version, the mooring broke while he was in the shower, and since the mooring ball was so close to the shore, the boat was on the rocks before anybody realized it or could do anything about it.

While the moorings at Ladder Bay are suspect — just a week before a failed mooring allowed a 60-ft French boat to go onto the rocks — it’s not certain that the buoy Elsa was on failed. There have been eyewitness reports that at least part of Elsa’s bowsprit is still attached to the mooring ball, suggesting that perhaps something failed on Elsa.

There has also been back and forth about whether the buoy, supposedly rated for 150 tons, was adequate for the 350-ton Elsa. It’s been reported that authorities on Saba told the skipper that the buoy was adequate for Elsa, but we have no idea if that's true.

No matter what the case, we find it hard to believe that the skipper in charge of such an expensive yacht, with so many crew, elected to use a mooring buoy so close to shore — at least without somebody carefully on watch at all times. Other options would have been to spend the night anchored off St. Martin, an hour away, or making lazy circles in the lee of Saba for the night. But who knows?Maybe the owner was aboard and issued the instructions.

Fortunately, none of the guests or the crew were injured. However, there has been a tremendous amount of fuel spilled.

As if to prove what a small world it is, about a month ago the Wanderer reported on meeting, in the line for the kick-off party for the Caribbean 600, a relatively young Dutch couple who would be racing Tulip, their 88-ft sloop. We became friends because their boat's hailing port was Sneek, a small town next to the village where the Wanderer bought his second canal boat. We were later told that the father of the wife of the couple was "the richest guy in the Netherlands."

According to the Dutch guys who gave Doña a dinghy ride a month later, while Elsa is registered out of Bermuda, she is owned by the father of the woman who owns Tulip.

So we’ve learned two things today: 1) Be wary of strange moorings close to shore, and 2) the boating world really is small.

- latitude / richard

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Ad: Mandatory Boater Safety Education

March 29, 2017 – California

© 2018 Division of Boating and Waterways /

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April Racing Preview

March 29, 2017 – West Coast

Spring racing is in full swing on San Francisco Bay and beyond. St. Francis Yacht Club is hosting J/Fest this weekend, with J/105, J/111, J/120, J/24 and J/70 crews signed up to race.

Finish of Wheeler Regatta

Paul Weismann's Ranger 33 Mojo and Val Clayton's Cal 34 Gypsy Lady sprint to the finish line of last year's Wheeler Regatta on the lively Berkeley Circle.

© 2018 /

Berkeley YC's Wheeler Regatta is this weekend too. The fast-boat divisions will vie for the Rollo Wheeler Trophy while the slower boats compete for the City of Berkeley Trophy. All are invited to chase each other around in a pursuit race on Sunday.

The Camellia Cup Regatta on Folsom Lake is also this weekend. According to host club Folsom Lake YC, "All boats and classes are welcome. RVs are welcome; slips will be available; the first beer, Saturday and Sunday, will be complimentary. Plenty of water this year! Two launch ramps (Marina and Hobie Cove with eight lanes) will be open. Eight fleets are registered: Banshee, Laser, Day Sailer, Catalina 22, Santana 20, Thistle, Open Keel, Open Multihull." Thistles could have a division too if more would sign up.

An event sure to delight spectators in San Diego this Saturday will be the America's Schooner Cup, in which the classic beauties will race out of San Diego Bay past Point Loma and back. Shelter Island will be a good location from which to view the action. Farther up the coast in Long Beach, spectators are invited to the Belmont Pier to watch the Congressional Cup match-racing event, which started yesterday and continues through Sunday.

Aficionados of Bay Area ocean racing will want to note the Island YC Lightship on April 8 and the OYRA Lightship on April 22.

Wetsu in the Doublehanded Lightship

The Express 27 Wetsu exits San Francisco Bay in last year's Doublehanded Lightship.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The next Singlehanded Sailing Society race will sail Round the Rocks on April 15, with a finish at Richmond YC. Island YC will provide the venue for the skippers' meeting on April 12, where awards and shirts from the SSS Corinthian Race will also be handed out.

Richmond YC will host the Big Dinghy Regatta on April 8-9, with drop-mark racing on Saturday and a pursuit race on Sunday.

Paul Zander on El Toro

Paul Zander in last year's El Toro race from Sausalito to San Francisco.

© 2018 /

Adult El Toro sailors will follow up Big Dinghy with the Bullship Race from Sausalito to San Francisco on April 22; Richmond YC is the Organizing Authority this year for the first time, so racers and 'Cowships' are signing up at

NOSA's 70th Newport to Ensenada Race will set sail from the Balboa Pier on April 28. A public Race Week Kick-Off Party will be held on Sunday, April 23, at Marina Park, noon-4 p.m. So far, 155 boats are registered. April 20 is the deadline to register.

The Konocti Cup will be held on Clear Lake on April 29, with a 26-mile Full Cup and 13-mile Half Cup. SFYC will host the Resin Regatta on April 29-30. Invited classes are J/105, Melges 24, Etchells, Express 27, Cal 20, Knarr and Folkboat.

Also in April, most beer can series in the region will begin. We'll have more about that in a future edition of 'Lectronic Latitude.

- latitude / chris

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