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March 4, 2009

Casualites of the Storm

Feelex the Cat! was towed back to safe harbor for the second time this winter.

© Tim Sell

The severe storm system that passed through the Bay Area over the last couple days put on quite a show — complete with thunder, lightning and even hail. And wind. Lots of it. With gusts coming close to 60 knots, boats were bound to suffer some damage.

On Monday afternoon, the custom-built catamaran Feelex the Cat! broke free of its mooring in Richardson Bay — for the second time this winter — and drifted all the way to Strawberry Point. Tiburon Fire Rescue and Dave’s Diving Service were quick to respond, towing the cat back to Richardson Bay and tying it up at the Army Corps of Engineer dock. The boat wasn’t visibly damaged but, had it broken free at night, it’s quite likely that not only would the boat have been severely damaged, so would have the delicate wildlife sancutary.

A Richardson Bay anchor-out sunk yesterday after taking on water during the storm.

© Tim Sell

Yesterday, diver Tim Sell spotted another casualty from the storm. "During the heavy winds, I saw it was listing pretty badly," Sell reports. "Water must have gotten in through an above-the-waterline thru-hull." Sell said that, when this photo was snapped, the owner was trying to pump out the boat himself and didn’t want help. It appears he was unsuccessful and the boat is now touching bottom, though not completely submerged.

Even though the weather is settling down, take the time this weekend to double check your mooring or dock lines. Chafed lines can let go unexpectedly — and remember that you’re legally responsible for any damages caused by your boat.

Two ‘Big Girls’ Enter Transpac

Neville Crichton’s R/P 100 Alfa Romeo will be the scratch boat for this year’s Transpac.

Alfa Romeo
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The ever-growing list of entries for this year’s Transpac just added a few biggies that couldn’t provide a more striking contrast. One comprises carbon fiber, titanium, lead and a little hydraulic fluid. The other: Angelique, Doug Fir, Sitka Spruce and Southern Pine. One will be gunning for the outright race record. The other will be gunning for the race’s first record.

The first is Kiwi Neville Crichton’s R/P 100 Alfa Romeo. The svelte canting-keeled rocketship will be making its West Coast debut as the scratch boat in this year’s fleet, thanks to the race organizers’ efforts at modernizing the race’s entry requirements and allowing boats with powered sailing systems to compete.The race should serve as a bit of a homecoming for Crichton, a car distributor who now does most of his business in Australia. According to a bio on the Alfa stable‘s (there’s also a 69-footer) homepage, Crichton lived in Hawaii for awhile, from which he campaigned the first in a long line of boats that bore the name Shockwave.

The second biggie is the Newport Beach-based square-topsail schooner Lynx. The War of 1812-era design launched in 2001 will be sailing to beat the record set by Lurline in the first edition of the race back in 1906. At 78 feet LOA, and 72 feet LWL, the privateer will be giving up some waterline to Alfa Romeo, but at least she’s bigger on paper in a few areas. She obviously doesn’t have a canting keel, but given that stacking is allowed in the race, and that Lynx carries a full complement of ordinance, we’d hate to be in charge of restacking cannonballs after every tack or jibe . . . The immaculate vessel, which is often found plying the waters of Southern California, will be sailing as an ‘exhibition’ this year, with the idea that, in two years’ time, there could be a dedicated division for tall ships in the race. With 4,669 sq ft of sail area, she’ll probably get to Diamond Head pretty darn quick.

The privateer Lynx, at 122 feet, will be the biggest boat in this year’s Transpac.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Transpacific YC has been working on upping the level of hospitality on the mainland end of things — getting LA’s Rainbow Harbor dredged and securing free berthing there for competitors for the month leading up to the race start; coordinating with the Aquarium of the Pacific to host the skippers’ meeting; and working with local business to raise the profile of the race and provide more of a race villiage-like experience. With under four months to go now, the entry list for this year’s race is shaping up with an emphasis on quality. With over 40 entries already, it doesn’t look like it’ll be short on quantity either. Counting entries from Japan, Mexico, Canada, the UK, and Spain, the international flavor in the Class of 2009 is already looking really strong. Add in a resurgence of ULDB-70s, SC 50s and pocket sleds, and 2009 is shaping up to be strong year for the West Coast’s signature race.

Ballenas Interruptus

Craig and Kiki will keep a sharp lookout on their way south.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Apart from being a bit rolly, the La Cruz anchorage in Mexico’s Banderas Bay usually provides cruising sailors with a quiet night of sleep. Usually, but not always. At 5 a.m. one morning last month, Craig and Kiki Redwine of the Arcata-based Beneteau Oceanis 461 Oya were abruptly awoken by what they describe as "very human-like plaintive cries that were coming from the surface of the water." While Craig went aft to investigate, Kiki stuck her head out of the V-berth hatch and was promptly showered by a spouting humpback whale, swimming right off the bow.

"Suddenly there was a loud clanging and shuddering that shook the entire boat so hard that the halyards in the mast were slatting," recalls Craig. He and Kiki soon discovered that the noise was the result of one of several large whales that were seen cruising the anchorage getting tangled up in Oya‘s rocker-stopper, which had been suspended from the tip of a whisker pole. The brief encounter left the pole hinged in half, the rocker-stopper damaged and a stanchion bent.

Oops! Had he known that a whale would be so interested in his rocker-stopper, Craig probably would have just put up with the rolling.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The incident was one of those unexpected encounters that make the cruising life so richly unpredictable. As they move south toward Manzanillo, Craig and Kiki will keep a sharp eye out for other whales, as hundreds are on the move at this time of year. But hopefully their next cetacean encounter won’t be quite so tough on Oya‘s gear.

Announcing the Delta Doo Dah

Get away from the rat race – and the Bay’s chilly summer winds – by joining Latitude 38’s 1st Annual Delta Doo Dah!

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The recent weather has many sailors dreaming of Mexico or the Caribbean. It has us dreaming about the Delta — specifically, the Delta in late June, when Latitude 38 will be leading the first-ever Delta Doo Dah, a laid back rally for anyone who’s ever wanted to explore their own backyard but hasn’t gotten around to it.

While most of the details are still being hammered out, we can tell you that the dates will be June 27-July 3. The official ‘start’ will be at 11 a.m. on June 27 to take advantage of the day-long flood. At some point along the way, there will be a BBQ hosted by Antioch Marina, potlucks galore, some dinghy racing, and lots of lazing about. After the final party on July 3 (location TBD), folks are free to hang out for Baron Hilton’s Fireworks Extravaganza off Mandeville Tip on the 4th, or just head home to the Bay.

If you’re thinking that the Delta’s rivers and sloughs are too narrow to accommodate very many boats, we’re way ahead of you. Not only are we limiting the number of entries this year to 30 boats, we’re also taking a decidedly loosey-goosey approach to the rally. You can hang with the main group, break off into smaller groups, or just go off by yourself to explore the labyrinthine waterways. The main goal of the Doo Dah is to get folks exploring their own backyard, whether in a group or alone.

The entry fee is just $49, and every boat entered gets an official burgee and one T-shirt (additional T-shirts are $15). Registration is first-come, first-served, so don’t waste any time — surf over to our registration page to sign up. It’s probably the only time we’ll tell you to hurry!

Entries to date (only 25 spots left!):

  1. Georgia, Custom 41, Ben & Lucie Mewes, Alameda
  2. Tamara, O.L. 33, Adam Correa & Kathe Hashimoto, Sausalito
  3. Moo’rea, Ericson 29, Jay Hickman, San Rafael
  4. Windsome Wench, Newport 30 MkII, Ruben & Robbie Gabriel, Benicia
  5. Feolena, Valiant 32, Aaron Dunlap, Gig Harbor, WA
"The March issue of Latitude isn’t coming out till Monday?!" cried a beleagured Sausalito West Marine employee when this month’s delivery date came up in conversation over the weekend.
Although it took an hour and a half of waiting, the breeze finally did fill for the fleet at Sequoia YC’s Winter #4, and the sailors were rewarded for their patience.
Corbie Von Stein of the Morro Bay-based Royal Passport 47 Emerald was all smiles when she and Rick made their Marquesan landfall a few years back.