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December 3, 2008

Settling in For Winter

Room with a view – the surrounding panoramas of the Bay are one of the pluses of Loch Lomond’s quiet North Bay location.

© Richard Gillette

"One of the things I love about this place, is the ever-changing quality of the light," says professional photographer and captain Richard Gillette. Because he’s our dock neighbor at San Rafael’s Loch Lomond Marina, we know exactly what he’s talking about.

Since moving our boat here from Sausalito a year ago, we’ve also come to appreciate the place’s warmer climate, lack of fog, ample parking and, perhaps most importantly, the inherent peace and quiet of it’s location, several miles from traffic and commerce.

Every marina has its pros and cons. This one is farther from Central Bay sailing, but it’s inherently quiet and well protected in a blow.

© 2008 Richard Gillette

With the economy in such dire straits, slip space — even for larger boats — is opening up all over the Bay Area, giving boaters more berthing choices than in recent memory. Having kept boats in a variety of the region’s marinas, we’ve come to realize that each has its pros and cons. We’d be interested to hear your input: What’s the best thing(s) about the marina where you keep your boat? And what’s most important to you, price, proximity to the Central Bay or proximity to your home?

We’d also love to know where all those boats disappear to when there’s an economic downturn — the same thing happened after the dotcom bubble burst and after 9/11. But we’re pretty sure there’s no simple answer to that one.

New Commodore For The Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club

You think the commodore of your yacht club is hot? Well check out Heather Corsaro, the new commodore of the Punta Mita Yacht and Surf Club. She’s spectacular; and she’s real!

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

About 45 folks gathered aboard Profligate, the floating clubhouse of the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club, at Punta Mita, Banderas Bay, Mexico, late yesterday.There would have been more, but apparently we’d frightened some people with reports of big surf. Yes, the surfing was great yesterday afternoon at the dinghy launch area, aka the Mexican Malibu, but it wasn’t that bad. At least not until it got dark and you couldn’t see.

The Yacht & Surf Club festivities started shortly after yet another beautiful sunset on Banderas Bay. Just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean you need anything more than a swimming suit to stay warm.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The occasion was the installation of this year’s Commodore, Heather ‘Spanky’ Corsaro of the Monterey-based Cal 36 Upsychia, and the initiation of new members. Lifetime membership is a buck, but all new members also had to drink the Kool-Aid (mango flavor), sport a charcoal mustache applied by outgoing commodore Eugenie ‘all the stories you’ve heard about me are true’ Russell, accept the hazing, and shake their booty on the Admiral’s Walk.

In rare cases, new members got charcoal eye-patches rather than charcoal mustaches. Unfortunately, Lisa Zittel, right, is mentally allergic to charcoal, so she’s only half a member, pending a definitive ruling by Commodore Corsaro.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Despite the best effort of Venus, Jupiter and the crescent moon, it was darker than dark out. So we were in a conversation with Kent of the the Schionning 49 catamaran Sea Level about the importance of carrying a light when dinghying around at night, when, son of a gun, an unlit and therefore nearly invisible panga motored past our transom. As God is our witness, not 10 seconds later the unlit panga slammed into another unlit panga! Neither operator was badly hurt, but one panga had to be towed ashore. Please folks, dinghy defensively at all times!

The hazing for this year’s new members involved a spanking with a $385 Laird Hamilton all carbon surfing paddle. We won’t make any comment about either Laura of Capricorn Cat or Commodore Heather in this photo, but some folks appeared to enjoy it all too much.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Today is the start of three days of sailing in the Banderas Bay Blast, which is hosted by the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club and the Vallarta YC. The sailing is expected to be in light to moderate winds and flatwater, with the air temperature 85 degrees. Yes, it’s absolutely lovely. A burst of late entries means we have no idea how many boats will participate, but probably north of 20. The one sure thing is that everyone will get free berthing tonight at the Nayarit Riviera Marina, which has been getting rave reviews this year. Tonight, everyone meets at Philo’s for a rock ‘n roll extravaganza. We wish you were all here!

Remember last year when cool temperatures in Mexico had everyone worried that we might be entering a period of global cooling? Not this year. The air and water temperatures have been perfect. You can surf all day long without a wetsuit and be never feel a chill, and at night, it cools down enough so you need a sheet. And when sailing, wear a big hat and pile on the sunblock.

The other big news in Banderas Bay is that the whales have arrived. They may be a couple of weeks later than normal, but they are now all over the place.

Clipper Recruiters In Bay Area This Week

California will be sponsoring a boat in the 2009-10 Clipper ‘Round the World Race. Organizers will be recruiting in the Bay Area this week.

Clipper Ventures
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If following the Volvo Ocean and Vendée Globe races has left you with a desire for some ’round the world action but you lack sufficient credentials or a multi-million dollar sponsor to do either, you have an option! The Governor has signed up the State of California to sponsor a boat in the 2009-10 Clipper ‘Round the World Race, and Clipper Ventures is looking for Californians for crew — no offshore experience necessary.

Race organizers are currently starting to fill the 17 spots per boat for the next edition of the race, which starts in September 2009 and stops in California in April of 2010. By the time the fleet arrives in California the teams will already have crossed the Equator twice, negotiated the South Atlantic, dipping into the fringes of the Southern Ocean with its notoriously unpredictable conditions, and raced across the largest body of water in the world, the North Pacific.
Presentations are being held in the Bay Area December 5-9, and if it sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can get more info here.
Friday, December 5
7 p.m.     Oakland Yacht Club
7 p.m.     Santa Cruz Yacht Club
Saturday, December 6
2 p.m.     Golden Gate Yacht Club
6 p.m.     Sausalito Yacht Club
Sunday, December 7
2:30 p.m. Berkeley Yacht Club
5 p.m.     OCSC Sailing, Berkeley
Tuesday, December 9
7 p.m.     Club Nautique, Alameda

Two Fuel Drops in One Voyage

The 1,100-mile passage from Tonga or Fiji to New Zealand is known throughout the cruising world as being potentially difficult, if not dangerous. There are no places to hide, and it’s not uncommon to be hit by one or more gales. So the idea is to complete it as quickly as possible.

But having an unusually long and horrible time on this passage are Robby and Lorraine Coleman, who first started cruising with the Columbia 30 Samba Pa Ti out of the Berkeley Marina many years ago. They now own the gaff-rigged Angelman ketch Southern Cross, and for quite a few years have been sailing out of Honolulu. How bad have things been?

"It’s hard to believe, but we got another fuel drop on the same voyage! At 7 p.m. last night, the kind folks on the cruise ship Oceanic Discoverer dropped jugs with 40 gallons of fuel, and a bunch of goodies like eggs, bacon, sausage, tangerines, juice, milk, cookies and more — off the back of their ship in waves that were so huge they buried their bow once. We picked it all up and heaved it all on our heaving deck. We got underway again this morning, and by 10:30 a.m. had motored back to where we’d been 48 hours earlier. The current has been against us for the last several days.

"It’s 54 more miles to the safety of the entrance to New Zealand’s Bay of Islands. We hope to make it by tonight, but we’re very, very tired. All passages are an adventure, but this one has topped them all. We have been out here with not a clue as to when we will arrive, something that’s never been the case before. Our Marquesas voyage was 30 days, but that was twice as long as this one. On this passage we’ve had either no wind, wind on the nose, or howling wind with huge seas. Then we had a 180° windshift that split the main, putting it, as well as our mizzen, out of commission."

Just as you never want to second guess someone’s choice of a spouse, you want to refrain from second guessing their choice of a boat. Nonetheless, if a novice sailor asked us if we thought it was a good idea to join a heavy, gaff-rigged ketch for a trip from the tropics to New Zealand, we’d have to tell them no, not unless they were masochists. Boat design has come a long, long way, both in comfort and performance.

Now that you’ve recovered from an overdose of tryptophan, family togetherness and migraine-inducing traffic, it’s time to settle down to a little vicarious sailing fun.
There’s no telling who might show up for this week’s Banderas Bay Blast for Charity, three days of tropical sailing fun and games that will see the fleet visit Nayarit Riviera Marina, Punta Mita and Paradise Marina.