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Boat Fire at Catalina

August 13 - Two Harbors, Catalina

Photo of the Day
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

A small fire near the inverter spread so quickly that the crew had to jump into their dinghy to escape the flames.
© 2007 Marley Isler

One of the saddest things in the world of boating is watching the destruction of a much-loved yacht, and that's what you see in this photo taken late on Saturday night at Catalina Island by young photographer Marley Isler of the boat Bubble Maker.

The vessel in flames is the "mack daddy" Hatteras 65 Grunt, owned for the last nine years by Greg and Debbie Grani. They have the F-4 mooring at Catalina's Cherry Cove, which is where the sportfisherman rolled over and sank after about 45 minutes in flames.

"She's my husband's first wife," said Debbie the next morning, managing to maintain a wry sense of humor despite the heartbreaking loss.

One of the teenage girls who had been on the boat told us that they were turning in just before midnight when she mentioned that the area around the engine room seemed to be unusually hot. Upon investigation, a small fire was discovered near the inverter. Despite their best efforts, the small fire quickly became a large fire, and all five aboard had to jump into the yacht's inflatable to get clear.

The lesson for all mariners is that once a fiberglass boat catches fire, it becomes nearly impossible to extinguish. The Harbor Patrol and Bay Watch responded quickly, but it was too little too late as flames reached 30 feet into the air. Despite the fact that boats were packed tightly in the sold-out mooring field, a light offshore wind meant only a few boats had to evacuate. Surprisingly, the crews of some boats just a row or two away slept through the entire incident.

Potential environmental disaster seems to have been avoided.

Photo 'Lectronic / Richard
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

The boat remains on the bottom, but is expected to be raised in the next day or two. She's said to still have 1,800 gallons of diesel aboard. While there was a very light sheen on the water, and debris washed up the next morning from Little Fisherman to Emerald Cove, there was little obvious damage to the environment or other boats.

Several members of harbor patrol who know the Granis spoke very highly of them and Grunt's crew. Cruisers report having seen Grunt from Paradise Marina in Puerto Vallarta to Marina Costa Baja in La Paz over the last two winters.

- latitude / rs


It Was Just a Rumor

August 13 - Bocas del Toro, Panama

In Friday's 'Lectronic, we reported that a young man who illegally boarded the Hans Christian 33T Brudair in Bocas del Toro, Panama, was the stepson of the Bocas Yacht Club's security guard. Damon and David of Brudair emailed to correct that portion of the story: "The information I was told at the time of the incident was preliminary and it wasn't until the following day that YC confirmed the rumor to be false. The kid we caught is not related to anyone that works at the YC nor is he affiliated with the club in any way."

- latitude / ld

Reefer Madness

August 13 - San Francisco Bay

Two Boats
Osprey and Pain Killer were just two of the boats enjoying a windy Saturday on the Bay.
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

With winds in the mid to high 20s on the main Bay on Saturday, almost every recreational sailor we spotted had a reef or two in the main, combined with the smallest headsail in the inventory. It was an interesting case study to see how the various combos were working out - some obviously much better than others. But the coolest aspect was that so many sailors were out there doing it in such blustery conditions and learning a thing or two.

Big Beauty
We didn’t catch her name, but this big boat was looking sweet as she plowed through the chop.
Photos Latitude / JR
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

The summer of ‘07 has offered some of the greatest sailing we can remember on the Bay. It’s also passed much too fast. Remember there’s only a bit more than a month of dependable breeze left before the wind machine begins to rev down for the winter. So get out there and enjoy it!

- latitude / jr

Weekend Racing Roundup

August 13 – San Francisco Bay

Michael Lapport’s Ginna Fe points the way to the windward mark for Agent Smith and Screaming Tiger during the Summer Keelboat Regatta Act I this weekend on the Berkeley Circle.
Photo Latitude / JR
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

From the Estuary to the Berkeley Circle, Southampton to the Cityfront, the Bay was awash with racers this weekend in just about every type of sailing craft imaginable. At the smaller (boat) end of the spectrum, there was the Treasure Island Sailing Center-hosted Laser PCCs and the US Windsurfing Association’s NAs, run by St. Francis YC, which attracted large crowds of 50 and 81 sailors respectively from around the country to race in the best conditions the Bay has to offer.

On the doublehanded side of things, Encinal YC’s perennial favorite for women skippers and their male crew gave sailors a taste of everything. “It was like two separate races - the windy, choppy Bay race (hang on and find a happy medium between pinching too much and heeling too much - with a double reef and a tiny jib); and the delightful downwind glide to the finish line on the Estuary (keep a sharp eye on the Windex and a fine touch on the helm),” reports our Webmistress.

Gracie & George
Harp and Arcadia get walloped by a stiff blast coming around the bend at Jack London Square. However, it was two Columbia 5.5 meters that had the last laugh, winning top prizes for the fourth consecutive year at Encinal YC’s doublehanded, woman-skipper Gracie and George Regatta on Saturday.
© 2007 Margaret Fago

Richmond YC hosted an astounding 24 Santana 22s (the largest fleet in at least 10 years for the 42-year old class) and 9 Olson 25s for each class’s national championship. Victory in the former came down to two well-practiced crews, with Michael Andrews’s modern-era Bonito winning over defending champion and ultimate class veteran, 89-year-old Ernie Rideout. In the Olsons, Tom Blagg brought his Pearl back to the Bay from its current home at Huntington Lake to show the local guys a thing or two about racing in Southampton Shoal’s light, late afternoon breeze on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the first ‘Act’ in San Francisco YC’s two-weekend Summer Keelboat Regatta drew a disappointingly small crowd of mid-sized keelboats, but the competition on the Berkeley Circle was still as stiff as the consistent 20-knot breeze through the Slot. With luck the weather will hold and the number of entries will be higher for the larger mid-sized boats (1D35s, J/120s, Express 37s and J/105s) that are racing next weekend.

Congratulations to some of this weekend’s winners:

Gracie and George: Maverick, Columbia 5.5, Dawn Beachy (19 boats; full results at
Summer Keel Act I, Express 27: Strega, Amanda Soskin (3 boats;
Summer Keel Act I, Melges 24: Southern Cross, Richard Leslie (7 boats,
Summer Keel Act I, J/24: Renaissance, Nina Bohlen (7 boats;
Summer Keel Act I, Etchells: JR, Bill Melbostad (7 boats;
USWA Windsurfing NAs, Juniors: Todd Selby (9 boats;
USWA Windsurfing NAs, Formula: Seth Besse (36 boats;
USWA Windsurfing NAs, RSX: Robert Willis (5 boats;
Santana 22 Nationals: Bonito, Michael Andrews (24 boats;
Olson 25 Nationals: Pearl, Tom Blagg (9 boats;
Laser PCCs, Full Rig: Derick Vranizan (39 boats;
Laser PCCs, Radial: Adam Deemount (39 boats;
Laser PCCs, 4.7: Domenic Bove (3 boats;

If you were out racing this weekend and your race isn’t mentioned here, send us an email and we’ll make sure you’re covered in the September issue of Latitude 38.

- latitude / ss

Bigger Ha-Ha Preview Than Expected

August 13 - Two Harbors, Catalina

One hundred and twenty-five sailors, including the skippers of 22 boats entered in this year's Ha-Ha, showed up for an ultra casual Ha-Ha Preview at Two Harbors last Saturday night. There was a fine potluck, little goodies from West Marine, and an all new Ha-Ha slide show. Based on this small group of participants, we're convinced that this is going to be another great Ha-Ha, with perhaps a record number of entries. "I'm guessing we'll have gotten 175 to 195 paid entries before the deadline on September 10," said Ha-Ha Honcho Lauren Spindler.

Glenn & Monica
Glenn and Monica Twitchell defy stereotypes - and make a mean Bloody Mary.
Photo 'Lectronic / Richard
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Typical of the great folks who will be doing the Ha-Ha this year are Glenn and Monica Twitchell of the Newport Beach-based Lagoon 380 Beach Access. Having lived aboard for five years, they are ready to cut loose for the foreseeable future, starting with a year in Mexico. Based on a visit with the couple on their boat the morning after the preview, we learned two things: 1) They make a delicious Bloody Mary, complete with onions that the pickler in Australia guarantees are "good for 1,000 farts," and 2) They contradict the Newport Beach stereotype of having helium for brains and silicon for breasts. We know this because they pulled out a couple of thick books, one on Abraham Lincoln and the other on Ben Franklin. In fact, they raved about the books so much that we're going to check them out ourselves.

Now is the sweetest time of the year for sailing in California, but the Ha-Ha almost makes us wish that fall would hurry up and arrive. If you feel the same way, you can get a Ha-Ha entry packet by sending $20 to Baja Ha-Ha, 401-F Miller, PMB 140, Mill Valley, 94941. For more info on the Ha-Ha, or to see the complete entry list, visit Here are entries #93-111.

93) Del Norte / Rawson 30 / Sam Kesten / Sausalito
94) Little Wing / Sabre 362 / Chris O’Brien / San Diego
95) Ticket / Beneteau 47.3 / Rick Niello / Sausalito
96) Lady Jane / Catalina 36 / Raymond Oleson / San Francisco
97) Air Ops / Amel Maramu 46 / Dave Wallace / Portland, OR
98) Snow Goose / Cooper Maple Leaf 50 / Michael McIntyre / Las Vegas
99) Mocakyki / LaFitte 44 / Frank Hagar / Dana Point
100) Jim N’ I / Freedom 32 / James Maxwell / Albuquerque
101) Third Day / Pearson 365 ketch / Richard Boren / Port San Luis
102) Sooner Magic / Beneteau 47.7 / Garland Bell / Norman, OK
103) Lorien / Islander 30 / Guy Carlson / Redwood City
104) La Palapa / Catalina Morgan 440 / Roger Hayward / Long Beach
105) Beverlee / Pacific Seacraft 31 / Brad White / Ano Nuevo
106) Contigo 1 / Islander 36 / Bill Crysler / Powell River, BC
107) Avalon / Mason 43 / Jim Jennett / Lake Tahoe
108) Tamara Lee Ann / Celestial 48 / Doug Thorne / Alameda
109) Scot Free IV / Hylas 42 / Bill Hall / Vancouver, BC
110) Sans Clés / Royal Passport 43 / Lyman Potts / Portland, OR
111) Somerset / Catalina 38 / Ronald Burkard / Alamitos Bay

- latitude / rs

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