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Winter Surf Claims Another Boat - and Life

February 20 - San Francisco

A 20 to 25-ft sailboat of unknown make or name was capsized in heavy surf off Ocean Beach on Wednesday. One of the three men aboard is missing and presumed lost.

Witnesses on the beach watched in horror as the little boat - flying only a jib - reportedly broached, pitchpoled and then rolled over in the 10-12 foot waves about 200 yards offshore shortly after 2 p.m. Winds at the time were in the 35-knot range.

The San Francisco Fire Department's Surf Rescue team was first on scene, and helped two of the men swim to shore. Reports conflict as to whether the two were wearing lifejackets. The two were Randy Reid, 47, and Bradley Amos, 45. They told rescuers that a third man, Reid's son, Chris, 22, was "tethered to the boat." Amos and the elder Reid were taken to UC Medical Center, where they were treated for mild hypothermia and released the next morning.

The search for Chris Reid continued on the beach, in the sea and in the air until after dusk. The SFFD even set up a hook and ladder fire engine on the beach with a man on top with binoculars. The search was called off shortly after dusk.

Among the debris washed ashore from the wreck was an 8-ft fiberglass dinghy.

The men, all of Canadian nationality, apparently began their voyage in Santa Barbara. (There were also reports they started in San Diego and Half Moon Bay. Harbor officials we contacted in all three ports had no knowledge of the boat.) Randy Reid, said to be an experienced sailor, was at the helm at the time of the capsize.

What such a small boat was doing out in such weather conditions is, for the moment, a mystery. Reid and his crew were also obviously unfamiliar with the extreme danger of San Francisco's shallow South Bar in the winter - and apparently with the added danger of getting too close to the surf line.

This same boat and crew were reported in trouble off Año Nuevo the day before the capsize. A Coast Guard helicopter flew out then, but was told by the crew that they were not in distress.

Zihua Fest a Bigger Smash than Ever

February 20 - Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Three years ago, the Wanderer mused that there ought to be some sort of sailing event in Zihua as a fund-raiser for some local charity. Two years ago - encouraged to come down by Blair Grinols on Capricorn Cat, the folks on Raven, and others - Profligate came down and more or less played centerpiece to the event. Much to our surprise, the cruisers and Rick of Rick's Bar put together a program that raised $4,000 for the humble school that teaches orphaned Indian children Spanish and other skills they'll need to get along.

Last year, we showed up again with Profligate to participate, and discovered the cruisers, helped by others, had really gone to town. They raised $11,000, which was matched by the San Diego-based Bellack Foundation, for a total of $22,000! We figured that surely was a record that would never be topped.

We weren't able to make the third Zihua Fest because we'd taken Profligate to the Caribbean, but we'd wished we'd been there, because the cruisers, helped by folks on land, managed to raise $15,000, which was again matched by the Bellack Foundation, for a total of $30,000 for the school. What a magnificent job for a great cause - we salute all of you! More in the next issue of Latitude 38, due out March 2.

Indigenous school children and veleristas (sailors) on the planning committee gather to celebrate the final award of over $30,000 US to help the local Netzahualcoyotl Indigenous School and other education causes in Zihuatanejo. These funds were raised in a five-day regatta of events, Zihua
SailFest 2004, January 28 to February 1, 2004. Among those pictured are sponsors Gloria Bellack (left) and Richard Bellack (rear center), Rick Carpe of Rick's Bar in Zihua (2nd from left, rear), Event Chairs Dennis and Susan Ross of S/V Two Can Play from Portland, OR (3rd and 4th from left, rear), and PR volunteer Lisa Martin of Gloucester, MA (front, right).

Speaking of Blair Grinols . . .

February 20 - Marshall Islands

He's now back in the Marshall Islands for the second season after so many years cruising Mexico in his 46-ft cat. Here's Capricorn Cat at anchor at Taroa Island, Maloelap Atoll, Marshall Islands.

Photo Blair Grinols

Orange Turns Back, Cheyenne Marches On

February 20 - Atlantic Ocean

After a spectacular 580-mile day with his new, second generation maxi cat Orange in pursuit of bettering his Jules Verne around the world record, Bruno Peyron and crew have had to turn back. All they will say at this point is "technical difficulties," which can be remedied quickly enough in port to start again. What are the major differences between this second generation Ollier cat and the first generation ones such as Club Med? She's about 15 feet longer, but the real differences are that she's quite a bit heavier - something of a surprise - and the underwater section of her bows are more v-shaped to reduce pounding when sailing upwind.

The new Orange on her interrupted Jules Verne attempt
Photo Gilles Martin-Raget/Orange

Also still heading back to port is Olivier de Kersauson with his maxi tri Geronimo. In the quick early going, he and his crew shredded two of their three critical gennikers. They'll also restart soon. It's been a tough week for the French.

Meanwhile things have been gradually looking up for Steve Fossett on his maxi cat Cheyenne. After their 'slingshot' start fizzled, they quickly dropped 500 miles behind Orange's record pace. Now, well south of the equator, they've clawed back and are 100 miles ahead of the record.

Some folks think these around the world record attempts are boring. Not us, we find them exciting. But what's the deal with French and Americans naming their boats after Indians?

Update: Bruno Peyron reports the problem is that they lost 30 cm of their crashbox while sailing flat out. They have no idea why, as they are certain they didn't hit anything. He also says they are very excited about the boat, which has proven she can easily sail downwind at 30 knots.

West Marine Pacific Cup Entries Hit 65

February 20 - San Francisco

With the West Marine Pacific Cup fleet entries at 65, there are only a few slots left, so if you're going to go, get your entry in now. Visit www.pacificcup.org. To spice things up, we're ready to predict the first-to-finish and corrected time winners. For first to finish, we're going with Robert Miller's new 144-ft Mari-Cha IV, which in her first outing crushed the TransAtlantic record for monohulls. Miller was bested by Z-5 in the last Pacific Cup, but that's not going to happen again. By the way, the boat is not yet an official entry, but they have requested entry papers.

Mari-Cha IV
Photo Thierry Martinez

For corrected time honors, we're ready to pick doublehanders Bill and Melinda Erkelens, who will be sailing a Hobie 33. This couple haven't had the chance to race very much in the last few years, being at the very heart of the Oracle America's Cup team aspirations. But they took top honors before doublehanding the Dogpatch 26 Moonshine, and are both damn good sailors with a great boat for the course.

Sail Some Small Boats for Free

February 20 - Pt. Richmond

March is almost here and with it the second installment of this winter's Sail a Small Boat Day, held each year on the first Saturday of December and March. Hopefully March will come in like a lamb and make for pleasant dinghy sailing at Richmond Yacht Club on March 6.

This is the event where owners of centerboard boats allow total strangers to take their boats out for a spin. Classes could range from DeWitts to Bytes, Mega Bytes and 29ers, on up to Wylie Wabbits and Ultimate 20s, including such venerable fleets as El Toros, Sunfish, Snipes, Lightnings and Thistles. Really, there are too many to list here.

So show up at RYC around 11 am or so, put your name on the board, and have some fun trying out the boats that interest you. For more info, call (510) 232-6310. Did we mention it's free?


February 20 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? The YOTREPS daily yacht tracking page has moved to www.bitwrangler.com/psn.

Weather Links

February 20 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

Check out this guide to San Francisco Bay Navigational Aids: http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/sfports.html.

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/wind.

The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay is at www.wrh.noaa.gov/Monterey.

California Coast Weather

Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.: www.ndbc.noaa.gov/Maps/Southwest.shtml.

Pacific Winds and Pressure

The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.

Pacific Sea State

The site for the Pacific Ocean sea states has moved to http://www.mpc.ncep.noaa.gov/shtml/PacRegSSA.shtml.
For views of sea states anywhere in the world, see http://www.oceanweather.com/data.

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