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February 13, 2008

Cruising Cats and Dogs

Into the warm and blue! More than two years after thinking cruising with big dogs was impossible, Liesbet swims from her and Mark’s boat with Kali and Darwin.

© 2008 Mark Collaert

Latitude readers may remember that Mark and Liesbet Collaert took off cruising from San Francisco Bay in October of ’05 aboard their Islander Freeport 36 F/Our Choices. They had one of the shortest cruises ever, as they abandoned their trip in Monterey after they discovered that their dogs Kali and Darwin weren’t happy or comfortable at sea. This led to a number of spirited letters in Latitude about which is more important, animals or pursuing cruising dreams.

Anyway, Mark and Liesbet quickly sold the boat, bought a truck, and took off on a long land trip through Central America. They had a good time, but Mark still wasn’t getting his sailing jones satisfied.

But starting last June, everything changed. They are currently cruising in the Bahamas, and Mark and Liesbet are happy because their dogs are happy. What changed? Check out the March Latitude to find out.

Tin Can Goes Sailing

David Vann’s self-built trimaran Tin Can had her maiden voyage yesterday.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Adventurer David Vann was out test-sailing his 50-ft trimaran Tin Can yesterday, having been delayed several days from his planned Saturday outing. This was the maiden sail for the boat which, if you read last Friday’sLectronic Latitude, you will know was built of aluminum over a period of a few months for $25,000. You will also know that Vann was planning only one day of sea trialing the boat in the Bay before heading out for a non-stop circumnavigation. His goal: become the third American ever to sail solo around the world non-stop “and the first to do it from the West Coast, or on a homemade boat, or on such a small budget, or limited time for preparation, or without an engine or generator” — this according to an article he wrote in the December issue of Esquire magazine. Vann also believes he can do this circumnavigation in four months.

If all went as hoped yesterday, Vann may depart today on a planned non-stop solo circumnavigation. And yes, those are used sails.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We speculated on Friday that even if the boat does hold together, Vann will never make it in four months. Having now seen Tin Can underway, we stand by that opinion — as well as the belief that, if he’s confronted with a good winter storm, he’ll might not make it past Pt. Conception. Although she seemed to get along fine in flat water and 8-10 knots of wind, the boat does not look up to handling any serious wind or wave conditions. Just our opinion.

We have been unable to speak to Vann directly because of an agreement he has with Esquire that prevents him from giving interviews until his writing commitment to them is over. (He is chronicling the building and voyage of Tin Can on their website at: So we can’t say for sure if he left the Bay today or not. In the few short emails we have exchanged, he did ask for one clarification of our Friday article: He did not compare himself to Sir Edmund Hillary, but merely noted the passing of the great Kiwi mountaineer and what an inspiration he was to so many adventurers.

We wish Vann luck and hope he lives to tell the tale, no matter how it turns out.

FREE Latitude 38 Transom Stickers

Latitude 38 bumper stickers haven’t been available for years but we now have a limited supply that are available for free. What better way to decorate your bumper, transom or outboard? You can get your very own sticker in one of three ways:

  1. Order anything from our chandlery — we’ve got hats and T-shirts in a psychedelic rainbow of colors that your Valentine will love.
  2. Pick up one at our booth at Strictly Sail Pacific, April 16-20.
  3. Walk into our World Headquarters in Mill Valley and simply ask for one.

We don’t have the time or staff to mail out individual stickers, and the limited number available means this is a first-come-first-served kind of deal. When we run out, we may order more, we may not. We’re funny that way.


New Rule for the Racing Rule Book?

If you race your boat on Newport Bay, you should probably consider heading to the City of Newport Beach Council Chambers at 6 p.m. tonight for the monthly meeting of the City’s Harbor Commission. At issue in the meeting will be whether sailboats racing in the bay at speeds exceeding five knots should be subject to enforcement of the five mph speed limit.

Beer Can racing in Newport Bay may be in jeopardy this season if the 5 mph speed limit is finally enforced.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A historical precedent of tacit approval for on-the-bay racing in Newport will be put to the test in the coming months as the Beer Can racing season starts. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol in Newport Bay have never before issued citations for sailboats travelling over the speed limit while competing. Apparently in recent months though, a few incidents have brought that closer to hand. One of those is rumored to involve a well-known SoCal raceboat sailing at over 10 knots past the Harbor Patrol Station flying a masthead genoa  — which, if true, seems to us like a really good way to make a really bad impression.

Tonight’s meeting will include representatives from the Harbor Patrol as well as sailors who will all voice their concerns. It’s important to note that although the meeting will provide a good opportunity for public comment, the Commission has no authority over the Harbor Patrol because the City of Newport Beach doesn’t operate the patrol, Orange County does. We’re hoping that the meeting will lead to some resolution, which will depend in large part on the interested parties cutting the hyperbole and leaving prejudice at the door. We’ll be looking more closely at this in future issues of Latitude so stay tuned.

Not Your Father’s VHF Radio

Sorry for the late notice, but Coyote Point YC is hosting an informal talk on marine radios tonight at 7 p.m. This talk is free and open to all mariners who are interested in learning more about VHF radio communications in SF Bay, from simple nuts and bolts stuff (such as the fact that using cheap cable and connectors can lose you up to 33% of your range in some radios), to all the new features and capabilities of modern VHFs such as digital selective calling (DSC), AIS reception, and integration with GPS for radios with built-in digital distress transmitting capability. Keith Barker, a satellite telecommunications expert who has consulted for Lockheed and the U.S. Navy, has put together the presentation, which we understand is more comprehensive and specific to SF Bay than anything that’s gone before. As the title of his lecture says, This Is Not Your Father’s VHF Radio Anymore. For additional information on this or other seminars in CPYC’s winter talk series, please email Jack Verducci.

G2 was just one of hundreds of boats out this weekend shaking the recent rain from their sails.
John and Nancy Powers of the Napa-based Tayana 48 Meridian are planning to give their daughters, Maddie (L), 8, and Sophie, 6, an education in the school of life.
We at Latitude are in need of a photo of a fish taco — preferably a particularly delicious one about to go into someone’s gaping mouth — to illustrate a letter in the March issue.