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November 5, 2007

Daysailor or Terrorist Threat?

In an effort to step up national security, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff announced plans last month for a new anti-terrorism initiative that would screen and inspect small recreational boats for bombs. "I haven’t heard anybody talk about small boats," Chertoff said, "and a nuclear bomb on a small boat can do just as much damage as one in a container." Of the country’s 17 million small rec boats, it wasn’t clear exactly how and which boats would be inspected. We’re certain we won’t be the only ones closely watching the pilot program in San Diego.

The Coast Guard is also looking for a new federal requirement that all boat operators – and we now know from the Clear Lake case, that means anyone on board who might ever have the tiller in their hand – carry ID so they can keep track of who enters restricted zones. They’re also pushing for mandatory boater education – not a big issue since 46 states already require it. Even the Boat Owners Association (aka BoatU.S.) isn’t opposed to the plan, as long as operators don’t have to carry separate ID or install expensive tracking devices.

What do you think about these plans? Big Brother run amok or a necessary precaution? Shoot us an email with your thoughts.

The Midwinters Begin

As Farr as the eye can see – Wicked and Racer X struggle to make wakes during yesterday’s SYC Midwinters.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Bay Area racers were out in full force this weekend competing (or at least trying to) in several midwinters – Golden Gate YC (abandoned due to no wind), Sausalito YC, South Bay YRA and Berkeley YC‘s Chowder Series – as well as Island YC‘s Jack and Jill +1.

The wind wasn’t any better in the estuary for IYC’s Jack & Jill + 1.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
While there may not have been much wind this weekend, no one seemed to mind the unusually warm November weather.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

What wasn’t in full force this weekend was the wind. "It’s a swimming pool out there," remarked one racer. "Like sailing in your living room," said another. GGYC’s midwinters were abandoned due to lack of wind and for the other regattas, racers bobbed around making the best of the good sunbathing weather.

The wind finally filled Harp’s sails. Hey, nice Latitude shirt!

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For results, click on each YC’s link above.

Mystery Solved

In the August 10 edition of ‘Lectronic we wondered about the origins of a ‘Mystery Boat’ washed up on an outer island of the Marshalls. We received several colorful theories which we ran in November’s Loose Lips. They were all wrong.

Just as we were finishing up this edition of ‘Lectronic, Sausalito historian Derek Van Loan strolled in with the facts. Van Loan, who’s lived and worked in Sausalito since 1967, literally wrote the book on Sausalito’s waterfront stories (conveniently titled Sausalito Waterfront Stories, now out of print – any publishers out there?) and recalls Larry ‘The Wizard’ Greetz vividly.

The 25-ft dory Disko was sailed to the Marquesas by Larry ‘The Wizard’ Greetz in the early ’80s.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"The Wizard may have been crazy, but he was not stupid," Van Loan wrote in his book. "He traded [his 36-ft lifeboat] straight across for Disko, a 25-ft dory sailboat built by Herb Manley." Van Loan goes on to relate his experience in teaching The Wizard to sail Disko in 1979, and that he was vociferous in his goal to sail to the Marquesas.

"There came a day when everyone noticed that they hadn’t seen The Wizard in awhile." The commonly held theory was that he had been sent back to the "funny farm." For months, no one knew what became of the wharf rat, then "The Wizard reappeared as suddenly as he had departed. I noticed the white coral scars that covered his body, and his missing ear." Though Greetz was more interested in talking about his new goal of becoming the "champion weightlifter of the world," Van Loan managed to get the story out of him.

Greetz believed "they" were after him so he left Sausalito under the cover of darkness, headed for the Marquesas. "I sailed and I sailed," he told Van Loan. "I ran out of food, so I caught fish. My hooks rusted away and I had no more food. Then a seabird landed on my bow. I ate him, feathers and all. I sailed on. I was a dead man in my coffin. Then one day my boat stopped. I was on a coral reef!"

It seems he’d drifted for five months until he reached the islands he so desperately sought. He was badly cut swimming to shore from the reef and, once there, lived on cockroaches until he was discovered. "The Wizard was then airmailed to Los Angeles and the psych ward became home. It was there that a fellow inmate chewed his ear off."

This just goes to prove that truth really is crazier than fiction.

Australia or Bust

Five years ago, young Michael Radziejowski was bitten by the sailing bug in a big way. Now just 15, he’s the bowman on the IOR Warhorse Infinity and has taken up International Canoe racing with a passion. He describes the IC as “a crazy 17-ft long by 3-ft wide sailboat with 114 square feet of sail area. It’s hiked flat by a 6-ft long plank that slides from side to side.” He sails every chance he gets, and has been told he’s good.

Mikey at home on the bow of the Holland 47 Infinity.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The IC Worlds are coming up at New Year’s in Victoria, Australia, and Radziejowski has been working his butt off getting the boat ready to go – the only problem is funds. So he’s looking for sponsorships. You can read all about his IC campaign on his blog at To inquire about donating to this enthusiastic effort, email Mikey.

It was pre-Ha-Ha when Capricorn Cat passed down the California Coast, under a fiery cloud caused by the many fires burning ashore.
It’s official – the AC90 Rule has been published and the future looks bright for the 33rd America’s Cup.
Robin Aitken Hardy of the San Pedro-based trawler The Cat’s Meow sent us this report of a boat fire in Marina Palmira on October 20: "The 80+-ft Mexico-flagged yacht Mi Barú was tied up to the end tie of Dock Two when a fire broke out around 9 a.m.