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July 23, 2008

Tall Ship Fest Begins Today

This replica of Cap’n Bligh’s famous Bounty appeared in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean. A historically accurate replica of Columbus’ Niña will also appear.

© 2008 Bounty

Latitude 38 recommendation: Drop whatever you’re doing right now and head down to the San Francisco waterfront. If you hurry, you can catch the grand procession of tall ships gliding along the Cityfront, led by ‘America’s tall ship’, the majestic 295-ft square rigger Eagle. The Parade of Sail begins at noon, and for once it should be a sunny, fogless day for this auspicious event.

So don’t delay — just slip out of your office quietly, or use the old reliable, "Oh! I just remembered, I’ve got a dentist appointment."

If you can’t break away for the waterfront promenade, you’ll still have all weekend to tour the ships at dockside and enjoy a wide variety of activities, including all sorts of nautical demonstrations and a Pirate Academy for kids. Check out the event’s excellent website for complete details.

One of the most beautiful tall ships in the world, the barque Eagle tours the world with U.S. Coast Guard cadets aboard.

© 2008 USCG

The Festival of Sail is associated with a series of tall ship events staged all along the West Coast every three years. Hosting such sail fests requires a massive effort by dozens, if not hundreds, of volunteers. We highly encourage you to get out there and show your support of their efforts — and of these beautiful, traditionally rigged vessels. We’re sure you’ll be glad you did.

Common Sense in Washington?

The July 2 edition of ‘Lectronic Latitude reported that the EPA was developing a ‘discharge permit’ for the 17 million recreational boats in the U.S. as a result of a Circuit Court ruling that revoked the 35-year-old exemption the agency gave to such vessels. Legislation — known as The Clean Boating Act of 2008 —  introduced in both the House and Senate that sought to restore the exemption, was handily passed yesterday "in a remarkable display of bipartisan support for recreational boating," said BoatU.S. in a press release. "This is a fabulous victory for common sense and it just goes to show what can be done when the boating public, the marine industry and its representatives in Congress row together in a bipartisan way," said BoatU.S. President Nancy Michelman.

Solo Transpac -The Rich Get Richer

Ruben Gabriel is successfully pushing his Benicia-based Pearson Electra Sparky – which has the highest PHRF in the fleet at 270 – to keep up with the competition.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The front runners of the Singlehanded TransPac continue to stretch their lead. As of this morning’s position reports, the race’s big boats, Al Hughes’ Open 60 Dogbark and Jeff Lebesch’s Hammerhead 54 trimaran Hecla, were just a bit over 200 miles from Hanalei Bay, Kauai, and are expected to finish tomorrow afternoon. At the same time, at least half of the 22-boat fleet only recently opened the halfway presents put aboard by friends and loved ones before the July 12 start. In other words, some of them are 900 miles behind the leaders. The good news for them is that several days of light air in mid-Pacific have finally given way to good breeze so everyone is moving once again.

Dogbark and Hecla should have a great drag race to the finish. Again according to this morning’s position reports, Dogbark has a 100-mile lead on Hecla. And Al is a three-time Solo TransPac veteran, while Jeff is a first-timer. We have to think Dogbark will hold off the charging tri to score line honors once again. But Hecla has proven to be a fast, well-sailed boat, and in his last online log entry, Jeff reported regular surfs to 17 with occasional bursts to 20. We hope big Al doesn’t get whiplash looking over his shoulder.

2006 overall winner Mark Deppe on the J/120 Alchera is currently running third in fleet, with another newbie, Eric Thomas on the Olson 30 Polar Bear, breathing down his neck. Alchera‘s DTF (distance to finish) number showed Mark ahead by only 10 miles. These two boats are in different divisions, but will obviously be enjoying their own drag race to the finish. Again, we’re thinking five-time veteran Deppe will hold off newcomer Thomas to cross the line first. Alchera is positioned well to the south and will be sailing a nice hot angle up to the finish. But it’s going to be close — Thomas, who trailered the boat out from the Great Lakes to do the race, is sailing extremely well.

Eric Thomas’ Olson 30 Polar Bear is nipping at defender Alchera’s heels.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It’s still a bit early to predict corrected placings, but talk about looking hot — Skip Allan is currently running seventh in fleet with his 183-rated Wylie 27 Wildflower. He’s in front of no fewer than eight lower-rating boats (which owe him time) and only 100 miles behind boats rating 96 and 105. We knew Skip — a world-class sailor who is also a veteran of the very first Singlehanded TransPac in 1978 — was serious about this race when we saw him hiking out on the way out the Golden Gate. But dang.

Skip Allan is ‘in it to win it’.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For short bios on all participants in the ’08 Solo TransPac, as well as twice-daily position reports and frequent ‘letters home’ from most of the fleet, go to

Lake County Residents Think Perdock is Guilty

With Bismarck Dinius slated to go on trial next week on vehicular manslaughter charges in the Lake County boating death of Lynn Thornton, the Lake County Record-Bee has published the stunning results of a poll about who their readers thought was actually responsible. The results couldn’t have been worse — or more humiliating — for both the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and the Lake County District Attorney.

Most of you will remember that Thornton was killed a little over two years ago on a dark night on Clear Lake when off-duty Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Russell Perdock slammed his high-power speedboat into the O’Day 28 sailboat that Thornton was a guest on. Defying common sense and an intense public outcry, and giving a distinct impression of trying to maneuver to protect one of their own, the Lake County D.A. filed no charges against Perdock, but charged Dinius, who happened to be at the helm of the all but stationary sailboat, with manslaughter.

If you read Latitude, you know sailors have been outraged at the actions of the D.A. Well, you’re now going to learn that Lake County residents feel the same way. According to the poll, an overwhelming 70% of the 693 respondents think "Yes, it was all Perdock’s fault." Wow! Another 10% agreed that "His actions contributed."

Only 1% felt "His actions didn’t harm." Mind you, this is even less than the percentage of numbskulls who idiotically checked, "He’s a cop . . . he can’t be guilty."

But get this. Just five out of the 693 respondents — or .7% — agree with the D.A. that, "No, it was all Dinius’ fault." So the prosecution is going to have to go to court and attempt to convince 12 out of 12 people, beyond a reasonable doubt, that 99.3% of their neighbors have it all wrong.

Not only do we think the wrong man has been charged and his life been thrown into shambles, and not only do we think the guilty man is still on duty as a Lake County Sheriff, but there’s been a massive waste of taxpayer-funded manpower and resources. We’re looking for justice.

Raindrop Takes Pac Cup Lead

Michael Maloney’s Express 37 Bullet has wrestled the Division C lead from Dean Treadway’s Farr 36 Sweet Okole.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The lighter-air trend that began over the weekend has continued to affect the Pacific Cup fleet. Joby Easton and Bill Huseby aboard the Cascade 36 Raindrop have moved from third to first overall and in Doublehanded 1, and have kept that spot for two days now. In Doublehanded 2, Andrew Hamilton and Sarah Deeds have made the most of their bold move south, and from their spot as the second southernmost boat, the pair are staying out in front of Darrel and Duane Jensen on the Express 27 Alternate Reality. In Divsion A, the margins have increased slightly between the top five boats with Steve Waterloo’s Cal 40 Shaman resolutely holding onto the lead by a three and a half hour margin. However, only three hours separates the next four boats, and this is one is far from over.

Steve Waterloo’s Cal 40 Shaman is leading a competitive Divison A, where only three hours separate them from Jim Quanci’s Cal 40 Green Buffalo, which in turn only has a less than three-hour lead over the next three boats!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Elsewhere, Michael Maloney’s Express 37 Bullet has broken its 1500-mile match race with Dean Treadway’s Farr 36 Sweet Okole, and taken a six and a half hour lead in Division C while moving up to third overall. Dean Daniels’ Hobie 33 Sleeping Dragon is still hanging on to the Division D lead and second overall but faces increasing pressure from behind, as Dave Rasmussen’s Synergy 1000 Sapphire has been steadily closing. Paul Cayard’s Hula Girl although still leading Division E, has slipped to sixth overall and remains farther to the north than most boats. And in Division F, all the carbon fiber and nomex in the world is having trouble keeping up with Kjeld Hestehave’s Tanton 73 Velos.

Dave Rasmussen’s Synergy 1000 Sapphire is making a strong push in Division D.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

At this point, even the southernmost boats still have some breathing room on port board — but not much. A 20-degree righty could spell disaster for them as they approach the islands. This race has been phenomenal to watch and should be so right up until the finish. To be honest we’re glad we have a reason to call it work — because we’re finding it hard to resist checking the tracker at every update.

As always, you can follow the race at

Mark Deppe on Alchera crossed the halfway point in the Singlehanded TransPac yesterday.