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'Pirate Weather' Moves in to Southern California

September 30 - Two Harbors

Starting as early as Wednesday, many of the boats taking moorings at Two Harbors, Catalina, were flying pirate flags with sayings like "Surrender The Booty!"

Even Dads are teaching their infants the pirate ways.

And on Thursday morning, cannon after cannon thundered, reverberating as far back as the frozen foods section of the General Store. We can only imagine what it's going to be like today, Friday. That's because tomorrow is Buccaneer Day at Two Harbors, which might be tame enough for kids during the afternoon, but when night falls, becomes Catalina's most exotic, erotic, 'what happens on the island stays on the island' time of the year. The men all get kitted out as swashbucklers and amp up their testosterone, while the women put on the heavy makeup and wench outfits and display all the cleavage they can muster. And then they start drinking and dancing.

"Yes," says Jennifer in the General Store, "we've got a full supply of pirates flags and other gear."
Photos Latitude/Richard

Buccaneer Day is wild enough most years, but this year there are Santa Ana conditions - hot and dry winds from the desert - that are expected to last through the weekend. Santa Ana conditions are believed to mess with the ions in the air, which in turn are said to cause lots of humans to act more strangely than normal. In other words, the pirate-like behavior is expected to be multiplied by a factor of two or more. So sharpen your cutlass and watch out for the frozen water balloons.

Traditionally, Buccaneer Day sees some of the worst anchoring of the year at Two Harbors, with lots of poorly anchored boats dragging. If you wake up on the beach in the morning with hardly any clothes on, your mouth full of sand, and unable to find your boat, check a half mile out at Harbor Reef. That's because your boat probably dragged, and the Harbor Patrol tows all dragging boats out to the reef and anchors them there.

Normally we think Harbor Reef is the greatest place to anchor. And today, the water was flat with visibility of 50 feet or more. But we've bailed and taken a mooring because we don't want to play 'bumper boats'. It's going to be very active on the reef anyway, because for the second year in a row, Buccaneer Day coincides with the start of the lobster season. So starting at midnight on Buccaneer Day, all the lobster divers jump in the water, many of them on Harbor Reef. Divers tell us there are lots of lobsters around and they are "tame enough to pet". Come Sunday morning, they're going to be frightened as hell of anything resembling a human.

So everyone have a great - and safe - Buccaneer Day. By the way, if you don't know your 'pirate name', Pete Caras of Foxen reports there is a special Web site - www.fidius.org/quiz/pirate - that can help you out.

The October Issue Hits the Street Today

September 30 - SF Bay Area

Don't miss it, because it's our first one with all the editorial pages in color! If the color is not perfect, we'd appreciate a little slack, because we're learning every month.

Photo Latitude/Annie

What's the Coast Guard Thinking?

September 30 - Moss Landing

At 11 p.m. on Friday, September 2, the beginning of Labor Day Weekend, the Coast Guard boarded a considerable number of boats in their slips at Moss Landing, which is on Monterey Bay, for so-called 'safety inspections'. A lot of people were pissed off.

We're huge supporters of the Coast Guard, but if they forcefully boarded our boat late at night for a 'safety inspection', we'd be mad as hell, too. Partly because they'd be doing nothing but wrecking their reputation. After all, aren't they supposed to be overwhelmed with the burden of protecting our ports as part of homeland security?

We assumed the Moss Landing incident was a case of a new captain letting his authority go to his head, and were hoping it was an isolated incident. But now we've learned that the Coast Guard boarded a bunch of anchored and moored boats at Cat Harbor on the back side of Catalina about a month ago. This didn't go down very well with the small community of people, most of whom have worked at Two Harbors for years and live on their boats.

It's always been our understanding that the Coast Guard had the right to board boats without reasonable cause - but only as long as the boats were underway or had been underway a short time before. This is the explanation we were always given when we asked why the boats anchored in Richardson Bay, the overwhelming majority of which couldn't even begin to pass a safety inspection, were never inspected. So obviously something isn't adding up. We're going to be looking into this.

Wait 'til Next Year!

September 30 - Newport Beach

If you won't be one of the 500 or so folks starting Baja Ha-Ha 12 on October 31, we've got some great news for you about the 2006 Ha-Ha. Brad Avery, who heads the Orange Coast College Sailing School, has announced that two of their boats will be doing the Ha-Ha and taking students. And we're not talking just any two boats. The first is Alaska Eagle, the S&S 65 that did two Whitbread Around the World races, and has been sailing all over the world as part of Orange Coast's sailing programs ever since. Their other Ha-Ha entry will be a recent acquisition, Jim Kilroy's legendary S&S 80 Kialoa III. This great yacht did all the premier races of the world, including the tragic Fastnet Race of '79, and established the concept of a globe-girdling maxi racing.

Kialoa III
Photo Latitude/Richard

If you're interested in doing the Ha-Ha on either of these great yachts - and you don't have to be enrolled at Orange Coast College - we suggest you immediately send an email to Sheri. Sheri won't get it right away because she's sailing Alaska Eagle from Hawaii to San Francisco right now, but at least you'd get your name in near the top of the list. And that's important, because we're certain demand for berths on these boats is going to be great. For not only will you be part of the Ha-Ha, but you'll be getting Orange Coast College sail training, and they are good at it.

Doing a Ha-Ha on either of these boats would be something really special, so we suggest you don't let such an opportunity slip by.

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