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March 31, 2008

Doublehanded Farallones Rescue

This weekend’s Doublehanded Farallones Race ended prematurely for Moss Landing’s Luc de Faymoreau and Disun Den Daas aboard the former’s Olson 40 Pterodactyl. De Faymoreau said they were five miles east of the Farallones when both — who were not clipped in — were washed overboard by what he described as a "freak wave." The two were in the water for a short time, according to de Faymoreau, before being rescued by Clifford Shaw on his Crowther 36 Rainbow.

USCG LTJG Lauren Kolumbic told us they are tracking Pterodactyl with the help of Rainbow‘s 406 MHz EPIRB, which they placed aboard after they arrived on scene. Unfortunately, the sea conditions were too rough — 15-ft seas and winds gusting to 30 knots — to transfer de Faymoreau and Den Daas back to Pterodactyl. Kolumbic said the last position for Pterodactyl was near the Farallones.

Although Kolumbic indicated that the ‘good samaritan’ vessel which picked up the two sailors was racing as well, the list of entries and results listed on race organizer BAMA’s website do not indicate a vessel of that name or type. At this point, de Faymoreau plans to offer a reward for the return of the vessel but is as of yet unsure as to how much it will be. He said there have been a lot of rumors floating around about what happened, and in order to dispel those, he’s promised us a full account which was not available by our deadline today. We’ll have a more fleshed-out report as well as any updates in Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude.

Stop the Monday Morning Quarterbacking

There has been a staggering amount of Monday morning quarterbacking in the wake of the tragic loss of Kirby Gale and Tony Harrow, whose Cheoy Lee 31 Daisy disappeared during the Doublehanded Lightship Race on March 15. Most of what has appeared on internet forums is the usual drivel from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. But we’ve been surprised how many actual ocean sailors have been weighing in, some with real-world logic, others with vehement condemnation of race management, the Coast Guard, the YRA (who didn’t even run the race), "liberals in America" — and just about anyone else in finger-pointing range.

Folks, this is a sad enough situation without the blame game. We urge everyone to keep a cool head and base your opinions on the known facts. Also please remember three things in particular: 1) Unlike boat rides in Disneyland and other controlled environments, the ocean, and particularly just outside the Gate, is natural and wild. There is no guarantee of safety; 2) Anyone who races in the ocean — or anywhere else — is 100% responsible for deciding whether to start and/or continue that race; 3) In more than 30 years of publishing Latitude 38, we have yet to encounter anyone in the local sailing community who would do anything to purposely hurt another sailor — or who would not immediately aid a sailor in trouble if they could.

We will be following any new developments in this story and will certainly have more on the loss of Daisy in both ‘Lectronic Latitude and in next month’s issue (including several interesting letters, one from the boat’s former owner). And we certainly hope and expect that, in time, lessons learned from this incident will make sailing — in the Bay and ocean — safer for everyone.

Cruiser Access Not a Problem in La Cruz

On a day in which a very large southwest swell was pounding the north shore of Banderas Bay, this couple had no problem landing their dinghy in the lee of the new breakwater.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As ‘Lectronic and Latitude readers know, some animosity developed between cruisers at La Cruz, the classic Banderas Bay anchorage for cruisers, and the management of the new Nayarit Riviera Marina, which has developed the area formerly used to land dinghies.

Things started out reasonably well, with a $3 a day charge to tie up dinghies at the dock. When it was raised to $10 a day, and then $10 for each landing, budget cruisers got the idea — probably accurate — that the new marina didn’t want them around.

When we visited last week, there were 29 boats anchored out, and dinghies from 10 of them had been landed on the beach.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Fortunately, there is still a beach on which to land dinghies just outside the marina and, thanks to the new breakwater, it’s almost always calm. Some cruisers have nonetheless complained that it’s now become a hardship to get ashore.

Cruisers have to climb this wall for the shortest way to ‘downtown’ La Cruz. It’s no Everest, and there’s also a gentle path up the hill a short distance away.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We visited the spot yesterday and spoke with cruisers who land their dinghies on the beach regularly. Our and their conclusion? Folks who use the free anchorage should have no trouble with free access to shore. If it’s nighttime, you may want to bring a flashlight, but it’s just not a big deal. The walk may be just a little longer once you get ashore, but at least the landing is on a clean beach as opposed to the old days when you landed in what was pretty much a garbage dump.

Jim Coggan of the Richmond-based Schumacher 40 Auspice says he’s had no trouble landing his dinghy or climbing up or down the breakwater.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The shortest way from the beach to La Cruz, the so-called ‘Sausalito of Banderas Bay’, is up about a six-foot high wall of rocks. It might be a little slippery for senior citizens, and the path should be marked with footsteps, but it shouldn’t ever be a problem. And if, for some strange reason, the marina decided to prevent access over their breakwater, you still need not worry, as there’s a public walkway up the hill not 100 feet away.

From what we saw, there is no threat to anchoring for free at La Cruz, nor is there going to be a problem getting to and from shore for free.

This will be our last on-site report from Banderas Bay this year, and all we’ve got to say is that it’s one of the greatest — and potentially least expensive — places to cruise we’ve ever been. If you’re coming down next year, you’ve got so much — and so many great cruisers and locals — to look forward to. Salivating would not be out of order.

Getting Kids Out on the Water

“You can call me skipper!” Sailing courses build skills and confidence – and they’re fun!

© 2008 Paul Oliva / South Beach YC

Got kids? Although summer vacation is still a few months away, right now is the perfect time to research active summer activities for your kids — including summer sailing programs.

The pram racing seen here may not be what you’d call white-knuckle competition, but it’s thrilling nonetheless.

© 2008 Greg Gorsiski / Richmond YC

The April issue of Latitude 38 will help you do just that. Check out our complete overview of youth sailing options, which includes both summer and school-year programs for kids from 7 to 18 years of age, from all socio-economic strata. To our way of thinking, getting kids out sailing at an early age can give them a healthful hobby that can last a lifetime — and just might prevent them from becoming lifeless couch potatoes!

The April issue of Latitude 38 hits the stands tomorrow.

© 2008 Peter Lyons

The April Latitude will be ‘on the street’ tomorrow, Tuesday, April 1. Also included within it is a Boat Show Planner for the Strictly Sail Pacific show at Oakland’s Jack London Square, April 16-20.

Cruisers – and especially commuter cruisers – looking for less expensive yet brand new berthing on Banderas Bay, should take a look at the plans for the new Marina Nuevo Vallarta.
If you were one of the several readers who made your way to the Bay Model in Sausalito Wednesday night to catch two films on Irving Johnson only to find they weren’t being shown, please accept our apologies.
We don’t want to say ‘we told you so’, but when Fiji recently announced that it was going to reduce the time foreign yachts were allowed to stay from nine months to three months, we suggested cruisers not get excited.