December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice Sailing

Dozens of sailors headed out on the ‘shortest’ sailing weekend of the year. Suzanne, Ariane and Alma on board Liberty, Alma & Sean’s Tayana 37, on their way out of the Estuary bound for Ayala Cove.

© 2009 Marianne Armand

About 20 sailboats and 65 sailors took the occasion of the winter solstice to mark the six-month countdown to Summer Sailstice with a winter picnic sail to Angel Island. Unusually pleasant mid-winter weather caused the guest slips at Ayala Cove to fill up as quickly as a mid-summer Saturday. And those who dressed for a cool, winter day were forced to strip down as they considered the brighter side of warmer winters.

Stockton sailors got in on the solstice fun too. “Eight boats sailed the 12-mile course around Spud Island,” reports Stockton Sailing Club’s Commodore Tom Lueck. “Most boats putting up spinnakers in 8-10 knots of breeze. After sailing, everyone met upstairs in the clubhouse for fun and food. Another great day!”

© 2009 Tom Lueck

Among the celebrants were Aaron Kennedy aboard his Beneteau 36.7 Ay Caliente, John Cabrall showing up with a couple of boatloads from OCSC Sailing, Drew Harper and his crew from Spinnaker Sailing, and Mary Swift and her Afterguard Sailing group.

Ayala Cove on the 4th of July . . . wait! No, that was taken yesterday!

latitude/John A.
©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The day started out cool, foggy and grey but everyone who crossed the glassy Bay that morning were rewarded with a sunny day at Angel. After a loud blast of a fog horn to signify the passing of solar noon at 12:07:35, barbecues were stoked and animals sacrificed to the pagan gods with ritual prayers for a bountiful sailing season ahead.

Iolani got in a great sail before the rain started. The upside of this being the shortest day of the year is that the days just get longer from here on out.

latitude/John A.
©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The gods must have been paying attention as, a short time later, a mild winter front rolled in from the north to generate a little ripple on the flat waters. With impatient seagulls waiting to clean up the picnic grounds, we all hurried to hoist sail for an afternoon romp on the Bay before the clouds opened up.

Coast Guard Involved in Fatal Collision

A collision between a 33-ft Coast Guard patrol boat and a 26-ft power boat killed eight-year-old Anthony DeWeese and seriously injured five others last night on San Diego Bay. According to reports published by the Asociated Press, the operator of the pleasure boat — which was carrying 13 people — tried unsuccessfully to get out of the way of the patrol boat as the latter hit the pleasure boat from behind.

The rec boat’s operator and father of the boy, Alan DeWeese, told the AP that he tried to get out of the way of the Coast Guard boat which he estimated was traveling at 30-40 knots. DeWeese is reported as saying he believes he was moving at 2-3 knots.

No one aboard the patrol boat — apparently responding to a report of a grounded vessel — was injured, and the Coast Guard has declined to comment pending an investigation by the Guard, NTSB and local authorities.

Missing Dutch Teen Found

It’s a widely accepted fact that teenagers put their parents through hell. You know, staying out late, hanging with a bad crowd, behaving like snotty little know-it-alls, jetting off to the Dutch Antilles to thwart government oversight of their bid to become the youngest person to solo circumnavigate . . . Wait, what? In less time than it takes to bail out Junior for stealing your car and putting it through a storefront, Dutch authorities announced the disappearance — and subsequent recovery on St. Maarten — of 14-year-old Laura Dekker.

Running away from home or taking a family vacation? We won’t know Laura Dekker’s motivations for leaving the Netherlands for the Caribbean until she arrives home tomorrow.

© 2009 Laura Dekker

Dekker, then 13, made global headlines earlier in the year when she stated her intentions to become the youngest person to solo circumnavigate. Dutch authortities quickly intervened, and the courts ruled in August that Dekker was too young and inexperienced to take on such a grueling expedition on her own. Apparently no amount of foot-stamping and pouting would change their minds.

Yesterday, authorities revealed that Dekker’s mother had reported her daughter missing three days earlier. Then came word last night that the young sailor was found, alive and well, in the Dutch Antilles. Those same authorities insist that it’s impossible for an underage child to fly out of the country unattended, but there’s no official word on who — if anyone — accompanied the girl. Nor is there confirmation of exactly why she ran away from home.

What is known is that, after the court’s ruling, Dekker was appointed a temporary guardian, though she was allowed to continue living with her father, who is seen by many as the driving force behind her dream. All major decisions regarding the young girl — such as allowing her to leave the country — were to have been approved by the guardian.

Though her case was scheduled for review next summer, a spokesperson for the family says that Dekker "didn’t feel that confident any more that one day she could really sail away." Comments such as these could easily lead people to believe that Dekker, possibly with the encouragement of her father, skipped town to do what she wanted, regardless of what she’s been told. Sort of like a petulant teen who’s been forbidden to go to that out-of-town Adam Lambert concert but sneaks out anyway. Unfortunately, this incident won’t go far in proving her maturity and decision-making skills.

Lord Jim Still Stuck on the Hard

It occurred to us recently that we hadn’t had an update lately from our old friends Holger Kreuzhage and Tracy Brown on the progress of their 72-ft gaff tops’l schooner Lord Jim.

As regular readers will recall, the 73-year-old classic sank in the spring of ’07 off the coast of Brazil, after hitting an uncharted rock. She was quickly refloated, however, and hauled out at a small yard on the Brazilian coast. The good news was that there is a phenomenal supply of excellent hardwood in that area and plenty of old-school shipwrights who could help not only with repairs from the collision, but also with a total refit of the double-planked hull.

The work went very well and, in fact, was completed about a year ago. But — here’s the bad news — Holger and Tracy had to spend months in a nasty court battle with the yard owner, aka "the shark," who they claim was trying to take possesssion of the boat. The former Sausalito couple won the court fight, but now the yard boss has disabled his marine railway to spite them.

No, Holger and Tracy aren’t being disrespectful. They just want to call attention to the state of distress they’re in while being pursued by a nasty Brazilian land-shark.

© Holger Kreuzhage

"One has to live in Brazil for a while to get an understanding of how screwed up this country is. No one quite understands yet that extortion and blackmail have no room in the business world of a modern or civilized country."

Holger and Tracy are not ones to give up easily, however. They’ve started a media campaign in the Brazilian press — both in print and on TV — which is "starting to show some impact."

As the photo above illustrates, they’ve been flying their American flag upside down lately, which is, according to Holger, an international sign of distress and also codified in U.S. law. "We have not given up the boat," he insists. "Rescuing it from the sinking was a lot easier than fighting off the land-sharks!"

Sale Boat of the Day: KKMI Lien Sale

Paladin, a 45-ft S&S, is up for auction.

© KKMI

PRICE REDUCTION — LIEN SALE

Paladin is a 45-ft sloop designed by Sparkman & Stephens. Cold-molded wood construction of a very high standard. Excellent inventory of equipment, some new. Vessel is nearly complete after a major refit. Minimum bid $15,000. Bids must be submitted by next Wednesday, December 30th, 2009, at 2:00 p.m. with a 10% deposit (refundable if you’re not the successful bidder). Balance to be paid in two days. Vessel sold as-is, where-is. For additional information and an appointment to inspect the yacht, call Bob Hennessey at (510) 307-7907 or email.

© KKMI
Give holiday stress the boot with a turn on the Bay. latitude/Rob
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC We’ve always wondered why something as relaxing as the holidays should be become such a royal charlie-foxtrot.
If you’re planning a trip to visit cruising or chartering friends in far-flung places over the holidays or New Year, we know how you can earn their undying admiration (at least until you break the head): Take down a bundle or two of the most recent Latitude 38s!
Producers of Strictly Sail Pacific have announced that the show must go on — April 15-18 at Jack London Square in Oakland, to be precise.