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January 30, 2008

Tar Balls Wash Up on Bay Area Beaches

A park ranger first spotted tar balls washed up on Pacifica State Beach Monday morning. By Monday afternoon, contracted clean-up crew had collected several gallon bags of dollar-sized tar balls but reports of more tarballs were coming in from several other Bay Area beaches. While clean-up crews scoured beaches early this week, Coast Guard helos did fly-overs in an effort to spot more contamination and find the source.

Many wondered if the tar balls were remnants of the Cosco Busan spill in November but authorities quickly squashed that notion. And lab results confirmed it: they’re the result of natural seepage from the ocean floor near Monterey. In fact, similar tar balls washed up on Monterey beaches last February. As of this morning, about 40 gallons of the goo has been collected.

Meanwhile, clean-up crews are back at it today on a number of beaches, including Pacifica and Moss Beach. As with the Cosco Busan spill, the public should report any fouled wildlife to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito at 415-289-SEAL.

Glad to Help, Glad to Receive

Russ Clark, Holly Scott, and the donated North Sail. Now, to get the sail to Liz on her boat on Christmas Island.

Holly & Russ
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Not 12 hours after we published a notice in ‘Lectronic saying that Liz Clark of the Santa Barbara-based Cal 40 Swell, who is on a sailing/surfing safari in the Pacific, was in dire need of a low cost or no cost headsail, did Holly Scott of Seal Beach respond.

Holly, seen here running the West Marine SC40 Promotion in the last leg of the last Ha-Ha, knows that cruising is all about helping each other.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Holly, who works for West Marine and, in fact, was the skipper of their SC 40 Promotion in the last Baja Ha-Ha, bought the Cal 40 Mahalo year ago, and the boat came with some used headsails. Knowing that what goes around comes around, Holly was more than happy to donate the sail to Liz’s cause.

"Liz’s father Russ drove up from San Diego to pick up my old North genny," writes Holly. "I’d never hoisted the sail, as I’d had a new one built. Even though it’s been restitched, I’m sure it will give Liz several years of good service. The next hurdle is getting the sail to Liz at Christmas Island, but I’m really delighted to pass the sail on to her."

The ever ebullient Liz, with 800 miles left on her singlehanded passage from the Tuamotus to Kiribati, was most grateful:

"Although I would much rather give you a huge ‘thank you’ hug for your incredible generosity, an email of gratitude will have to suffice as I am currently in the middle of the Pacific. Knowing about your gift, it’s no longer as painful to look up at the patchwork of dacron tape and stitching on my current headsail, as that dear workhorse will soon get the retirement she deserves. I cannot thank you enough. If you ever have any questions in regards to re-fitting or nearly anything Cal 40 related, I probably dealt with it during my jam-packed two-year refit, and I would be happy to share any of my knowledge with you.

– Liz Clark and Swell
En route to Christmas Island from the Tuamoutus atolls: S 9 48′ W 148 24’"

West Coasters Take Top Spots in Key West


On the penultimate day of the Acura Key West Race Week presented by Nautica, Newport Beach sailmaker Dave Ullman and his Pegasus 505 crew were lying in fourth place, 11 points out of first in the 46-boat Melges 24 class. A day later they capped the regatta with an impressive 1-2-1 on the breezy final day, vaulting to first when second-place finisher Franco Rossini’s Blu Moon, with Italian ace Flaio Favini at the helm, could only mange a ninth.

"It was a great day," Ullman said. "We always like the breeze because we always do well in the breeze."

The win was Ullman’s sixth Melges 24 class win in Key West. Elsewhere in the top five, the West Coast contingent finished strong, with Marina del Rey’s Allan Field on WTF in third and Bruce Ayres’ Monsoon in fourth, also winning the Melges 24 Corinthian trophy. The top Bay Area finisher was Tiburon’s Peter Lane in 16th.

In the 34-boat J/105 class, San Francisco’s Tom Coates and his Masquerade crew won their fourth straight Key West J/105 title with four bullets and nothing lower than a third to finish 42 points clear of second. In the 15 boat Mumm 30 class, 2005 winner and Santa Barbaran Deneen Demourkas’ Groovederci led the regatta wire to wire. In IRC 1, John Kilroy Jr.’s Samba Pa Ti finished third in a talent-laden class. James Madden’s J/125 Stark Raving Mad of Newport Beach won the closely contested PHRF 1. In the 10 boat PHRF 6,  San Francisco’s Hall Palmer and his Wyliecat 30 Lucky Ducky notched a third-place finish.

Congratulations to not just the class winners and top finishers, but to all the Bay Area and West Coast boats who made the commitment to go to Key West. We don’t have the space to get everyone in here but you can find complete results at the event website.

Auberge du Soleil . . . of St. Kitts?

The beaches on the windward side of the Christophe Harbour development site on St. Kitts aren’t anywhere as crowded as California beaches during the summer, and the water is 30 degrees warmer.

Christophe Harbor
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It’s hard to believe, but through all the 1700s, the 5-mile by 15-mile island of St. Kitts in the northern part of the Eastern Caribbean had more trade with Britian than did the United States. Ever since, however, the economic fortunes of the two countries have moved in dramatically different directions. The former has become a backwater relying almost entirely on a dying sugar trade, and the latter has become the economic locomotive of the world. But there’s at least a minor change in the making.

The Christophe Harbour Marina will make use of the currently existing salt pond.

Christophe Harbour
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Some American companies are developing the nearly uninhabited and almost detached southeast third of St. Kitts that is separate from the main population centers on the other two-thirds of the island as a Dubai-style foreigner and tourist enclave called Christophe Harbour. It will feature over 2,500 acres that will include 10+ miles of coastline and elevations to 2,000 feet, shopping, condos, houses, a golf course, and of most interest to mariners, a huge marina in a natural bay with slips to accommodate even those of you with 350-ft boats.

The project is being developed by Auberge and Firesky Ventures, half of which is Auberge Resorts of — get this — Mill Valley. Northern Californians are probably most familiar with their Auberge du Soleil and Calistoga Ranch properties in the Napa Valley, as well as Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas. The head honcho of the giant venture, however, is J.B. Turbidy of Firesky, who is just the kind of guy you might bump into while having drinks with friends in St. Barth. In fact, that’s how we met him.

Looking down at the Christophe Harbour site, there is no denying that it’s one of the most beautiful and interesting in the Caribbean.

Christophe Harbour
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The youthful and entertaining Turbidy told us the development should open by the end of 2010, and that they’ve got great partners, among them the Mandarin Oriental Hotels and the Cipriani Restaurant in New York. Yes, this place is being developed as absolutely world-class, not for budget cruisers. Be that as it may, it never hurts to have a place that has all the parts and services needed by mariners — particularly one whose property provides a nearly four-mile long lee from the consistent easterly trades and is just two miles across ‘the Narrows’ from sleepy Nevis.

Fun facts: St. Kitts is named after Chris you-know-who, and locals are called Kittians. The island is in ‘federation’ with even smaller and more sleepy Nevis, which means "snow" in Spanish, and was given that name because it perpetually has a snow-like white cloud on its volcanic peak. Two hundred years ago, Nevis was known as "the jewel of the Caribbean," and St. Kitts, because it was the first Brit colony, was known as the "cradle" of the Caribbean. History class is now dismissed!

Ocean Film Festival Starts Friday

The 5th Annual San Francisco Ocean Film Festival, the first of its kind in North America, kicks off Friday at the Cowell Theater in the Fort Mason Center, and runs through the weekend. Filmmakers from around the world submitted their work in an effort to encourage awareness and conservation of our oceans. The following are some of the West Coast-focused films on the schedule:

  • The Jurassic Journey — Just where do leatherback turtles go when they set off from the West Coast?
  • What’s Killing the Sea Otters? — Find out why the California sea otter’s recently revived population has stalled out.
  • The Science of Big Waves — Spectacular footage of Mavericks waves and where they’re born.
  • 19 Arrests, No ConvictionsSan Francisco bar owner George Farnsworth was, at 71, the oldest person to swim from Alcatraz on New Year’s Day.
  • Returning Home: Bringing the Common Murre back to Devil’s Slide Rock — Devastated by the ’86 oil spill, birds are once again breeding in their ancestral Bay Area home.
  • Restoring Balance: Removing the Black Rat from Anacapa Island — See how the destruction of one human-introduced species — the black rat — saved other native species on this Channel Island.

Check out for the full schedule and ticket information.The $60 weekend pass is a bargain, especially considering that individual programs are $10. 

Having set his unusual Parasailor2 spinnaker off St. Barth, Harker and his Hunter Mariner 49 make tracks for the Sizzler at San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The start of the Fiasco is a sight to see. latitude/LaDonna
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC In between torrential weekend downpours, 222 boats managed to make it to the starting line of one of the most popular races on San Francisco Bay.
For those who heard Belvedere’s Tom Perkins say on KQED’s Forum that he might bring his 289-ft Dyna-Rig Maltese Falcon to the Bay in May, we’ve got a clarification.