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Photo of the Day

July 12 - San Pablo Bay

Photo Latitude/Richard

Today's Photo of the Day shows what a naturally beautiful sailing environment we have in Northern California. If we're not mistaken, the boat is a Cal 27 that was participating in Saturday night's Midnight Moonlight Marathon from Raccoon Strait to Vallejo and back. We'll have more photos of that event on Wednesday.

Sailboat Causes Ship to Hit Richmond-San Rafael Bridge

July 12 - Richmond

Doña de Mallorca is joined at the helm of Profligate during yesterday's sail by our old friend Cosmo, who is holding up copies of his reggae CDs. In his spare time, Cosmo is a neurological and kidney specialist at UCSF.

This is a little complicated, so stick with us. Yesterday we were out on Profligate treating a bunch of folks who had contributed mightily to fund a local man's battle with Lou Gerhig's disease to an afternoon's sail. About 4:30 p.m. we were reaching up the Bay in the lee of the Tiburon Peninsula, when we heard a ship that had recently passed us and was about to pass beneath the center span of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge let loose with both a very long blast and then five short blasts on his horn. He did this to let a sailboat know that he was in danger of hitting him and to get the hell out of the way. From our distance we didn't see any impact and the ship kept going, so we figured it was another one of those stupid sailor-induced close calls. Later we would find out it had been more than that.

If we're not mistaken - we weren't paying that much attention at the time - this is the 650-ft ship that apparently had a minor collision with a sailboat and scraped the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

A short time later, we tacked back and reached southward along the Tiburon Peninsula toward Raccoon Strait. We soon noticed, at the eastern entrance of Raccoon Strait, a Marin Sheriff's vessel with her blue emergency lights flashing, pulling alongside a ketch and apparently telling the skipper to drop sail. Then there was a Coast Guard helicopter overhead, and finally yet another Marin Sheriff's vessel rushing to the scene.

The first of the Marin Sheriff's vessels stopping a ketch with a Hawaiian name.
Photos Latitude/Richard

The inquisitive Doña de Mallorca fancies herself a bit of a detective, so she turned on the VHF to try to find out what was going on. She was only able to catch snippets of conversations, but as best she can figure it, the aforementioned ship, a 650-footer, had hit the sailboat and scraped the base of the San Rafael Bridge. Further, that the pilot or captain of the ship was under the impression that the sailing vessel that had blocked his path was some kind of ketch, and that the Marin Sheriff had stopped the aforementioned ketch at the entrance to Raccoon Strait in the belief she may have been the offending party. As de Mallorca understands it, the officials were searching the boat for evidence of recent impact.

The one thing we know is that the ketch - which has a Hawaiian name like Makalakai and a Hawaii hailing port - could not have been involved with the ship and the bridge. For there is no way she could have sailed from the bridge to the entrance to Raccoon Strait so quickly, especially against such a strong flood. So, in the event we got this all right, and in the event you are the skipper of the ketch and have been accused of being part of the incident, please contact us. Maybe we can help clear you.

Actually, we'd have forgotten the whole thing except that when we got back to our berth in Sausalito, we crossed paths with Capt. Joe Guthrie, who had just come in from a charter on the Bay. He also remarked on the incident, and he told us the Coast Guard had been on Channel 16 asking for witnesses. So when we got back to the office, we tried to call the Coast Guard, the Marin Sheriff and Vessel Traffic Service. Trying to reach any pertinent government employee was an experience that would have flustered Kafka. Unbelievable! In the end, all we could do was leave our number.

So if anybody knows more about this - apparently the bridge didn't suffer any significant damage - please let us know.

Lastly, every day we're out on the water we see recreational vessels making life difficult for commercial traffic. Please folks, give the less maneuverable commercial traffic plenty of room to safely avoid you - and other vessels you may not even see. It's not just courtesy, it's the law.

Update: We've just been contacted by the Coast Guard investigator. Saying the case was "under investigation," he refused to divulge whether or not the ketch with the Hawaiian-sounding name is thought to be part of the incident.

Winnetou Wins West Marine Pacific Cup

July 12 - Kaneohe Bay, HI

Winnetou at the finish

Martin Brauns of the San Francisco-based SC52 Winnetou finished the Pacific Cup on Saturday in time to correct out first on the fleet of 49 boats in the Pacific Cup. Like the other boats in Division E, she got off to an excellent start and led virtually the entire way.


Finishing second in class and second overall was Jim Gregory's San Francisco-based Schumacher 50 Morpheus. Rob Moore, Latitude's Racing Editor, was a member of that crew, and reported that they jibed just once in the entire race - and blew the jibe! We're awaiting Moore's full report in the August issue, complete with explanations on the Pacific High's weird behavior. Steve Williams' Santa Cruz-based SC52 Natazak corrected out third in class and fleet. These aren't final results as there are scores of boats still at sea, but will be final unless one of the little boats starts averaging about 25 knots. For the most current information, visit www.pacificcup.org. The Pac Cup gets the daily results up as soon as they can, which is usually sometime between noon and 2 p.m.

Braveheard finishing at Kaneohe Bay
Photos Marston Myers

In last Friday's 'Lectronic, we wrote the following paragraph: "Another constant [in the Pacific Cup] has been the excellent performance by Sylvia Seaberg and Synthia Petroka on the San Francisco-based Hawkfarm Eyrie, which continues to lead the doublehanded division. It's true the boat has a favorable rating, but they have consistently been outsailing much faster boats."

We don't understand it, but it's come to our attention that at least one person took that paragraph to mean we were denigrating the women's performance, suggesting we think they are doing as well as they are because they got a gift rating. No, no, no, no, no! If that had been the case, we wouldn't have described their performance to date as "excellent," nor would we have noted that they were turning in daily runs almost as good and sometimes better than inherently much faster boats such as an Olson 30. The two women are leading the doublehanded division because they have so far picked a great course, and have so far gotten the most out of their boat - just like Skip Allan and Tad Palmer did two years ago when they sailed a near sistership with nearly the same rating to class and fleet honors. So you go girls! And know that you have the full respect and encouragement of everyone at Latitude.

Singlehanded TransPac Winding Down

July 12 - Hanalei Bay, Kauai

By the time this update is posted on the Web site, about two-thirds of the 21 boats in the Singlehanded TransPac will have finished. But make no mistake, everyone who is sitting in beautiful Hanalei Bay, Kauai, is closely monitoring the boats still at sea. In many past races, the last or near-last boats to finish have corrected out in the winner's circle. Watching especially closely is three-time solo TransPac veteran Chuck Beazell, whose Hunter 54 Joe - second boat to finish last Thursday afternoon - currently occupies first in the corrected standings. Second overall as of this writing is first-timer Mark Moore on Moore Havoc, who put in a fantastic performance to win the three-boat Moore 24 fleet. In a tentative third so far is another three-time veteran, Mark Deppe aboard the J/120 Alchera.

Moore Havoc
Photo Latitude/JR

By Wednesday, all boats should be finished, and we'll post some final results. If you can't wait that long, keep checking on the sponsoring Singlehanded Sailing Society's Web site, www.sfbaysss.org.

Fun on Profligate in Southern California

July 12 - SoCal

Looking to get experience on a big cruising cat? Want to get away from the chilly sailing conditions of Northern California? If so, you might be interested in a couple of 'shared expenses' sailing opportunities aboard Profligate.

The first will be August 5, 6 & 7 for the Santa Barbara to King Harbor (Redondo Beach) Race. We think it's the most fun race in Southern California, as there are tons of boats, and you sail across the Santa Barbara Channel, down around Anacapa Island, come back to the coast at Malibu, and then across Santa Monica Bay to Redondo Beach. It's about 86 miles, and the last couple of years we've finished around midnight. But what really makes it fun is you get to spend a day before at Santa Barbara, a great town and at her best time of year. And after the race, you're in Redondo Beach for more fun at the club, and for miles in either direction along the beach. It's a totally killer event that makes for a great long weekend.

They say you should never start a voyage on a Friday, let alone Friday the 13th, but we're going to do it anyway for our second 'shared expenses' opportunity. If you want an action-packed weekend that really gets you away - without having to go far - this is it. We'll leave Long Beach at noon, put up the screecher for the sail to Avalon where we'll mess around on the beach, under the bright lights, and spend the night. The next morning we motor a couple of hundred feet off the coast up to Two Harbors, the rugged and rustic little oasis toward the west end of the island. After an afternoon's sail, we'll do a beach BBQ and hit the dance floor under the stars. There are also great opportunities for hiking and other outdoor activities. Catalina is cool! The next day we hoist the chute and set sail for 35-mile distant Newport Beach, arriving about 6 p.m. Hot cat sailing fun in the Southern California sun.

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