February 26, 2010

Photo of the Day: Resolved!

February is coming to an end, as are many people’s New Years resolutions. In the January ’09 issue of Latitude 38, we featured the sailing resolutions of our editorial staff and challenged readers to set their own for the year. Sean Palmer, who sails his Catalina 34 Allegro with his wife and two daughters out of South Beach, met the challenge and, in the process, bested every single one of us. Congratulations, Shane!

"Thanks to Latitude for suggesting a sailing New Year’s resolution last January — something we have never successfully done (sailing or otherwise). We considered a number of possible and improbable ideas, and settled on one with a really low bar to see if we could follow through. We are proud to say that we managed to get out of the slip and set the sails at least once each calendar month of 2009. While a (very) modest accomplishment, on review of the past years’ logs, we found that we sailed exactly 12 days (32 total) more than our average over the past 5 years (20) – go figure.

"The highlight was a three-day cruise to Petaluma with the family. For anyone who hasn’t done this trip, it’s a must. The set-up for boaters in Petaluma at the turning basin is brilliant. This year we’re expanding on this — Half Moon Bay and Monterey for four weeks, or better yet, taking the boat down the coast for some commuter-cruising for a couple of months this summer — but will probably decide on more low-bar stuff, just to make sure we don’t get too ahead of ourselves."

Did anyone else meet their ’09 sailing resolutions? Have you set any for ’10? Email LaDonna with the details — and don’t forget the photos!

Groupama 3 Rollin’ On

At the halfway mark, Groupama 3 is rolling along in the Southern Ocean, reeling off 700-mile days and slowly increasing their lead against the Jules Verne Trophy reference time. After 25 days at sea, skipper Franck Cammas and his nine-man crew — which includes the Bay Area’s Stan Honey at the nav station — have, as of this writing, built up a 371-mile lead over the ’05 progress of current record holder, Bruno Peyron’s Orange 2. Cammas’ 105-ft trimamaran is holding up well, and things are looking good as they start their transit of the Pacific Ocean.

"Bruno had a great run on Orange in the Pacific," Honey relayed via email Wednesday afternoon. "Our hope is to maintain the modest lead that we earned in the Indian Ocean and try to preserve it across the Pacific. The weather looks good for us for the first couple of days with nice reaching, then okay for a couple of days gybing downwind. I’m not sure about the last couple of days. It could get complicated and windy for us, depending on the timing of the movements of a Southern Ocean Low."

It wasn’t far from this point when the boat suffered a broken float that caused it to capsize in its first Jules Verne attempt in ’08. But since being reworked and strengthened, it’s been smooth sailing according to Honey.

"Groupama 3 is doing great," Honey wrote. "Everything is perfect. She is a delightful boat to sail. I am writing this on a rare fine day in the Southern Ocean. It is brisk in a southwesterly with blue sky and puffy clouds just after a clearing cold front. We are sailing along at 30- to 35-knots. As with most passages in the Southern Ocean, days like this are the exception. Most of the sailing is done in overcast, grey, northwesterlies."

After a rip-roaring trip to the equator, Groupama 3 was mired in a massive super-high formed when the St. Helena High merged with another, blanketing practically the entire ocean, which kept Honey glued to the nav station.

Although he normally spends more time at the nav station, the Stan Honey got some nice flat-water helm time while transiting the South Atlantic.

Groupama 3
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"I have had some tough spells to find time to sleep," he wrote. "The South Atlantic was a nightmare — not even sleeping, losing one thousand miles to Orange in light air. It was also tricky at the beginning of the Indian Ocean finding a way to catch our front. The Horn always keeps your attention, not only the approach and rounding but also the transition into the northbound strategy for the South Atlantic."

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A Full Menu of Cruiser Events

If you think living the cruiser lifestyle in Mexico is all about solitude in uninhabited anchorages, think again. While this cruiser-friendly country certainly has a wealth of tranquil bays where one could easily escape from the wider world, most cruisers find that social interaction between like-minded sailors is one of the most rewarding aspects of the cruising life. And the coming months are ‘prime time’ for socializing at a boatload of fun-filled events:

• Banderas Bay Regatta will run March 16-20, hosted by the Vallarta YC at the Paradise Village Resort and Marina in Nuevo Vallarta. This is ‘cruiser racing’ in ideal conditions with big discounts on berthing, so we highly recommend it. About 45 boats are currently signed up.

Most veteran cruisers agree that Banderas Bay has the most consistent winds in Mexico — an ideal setting for the annual Banderas Bay Regatta. Seen here is Larry Mosher’s Jeanneau 41 Snow Goose during the ’08 event.

© 2010 Jay Ailworth

• Sea of Cortez Sailing Week is slated for April 1-6. It’s super casual, and designed for cruisers who really love to sail. Activities start and end in La Paz, but most of the time is spent at Caleta Partida and Isla San Francisco. About 30 boats participate.

The contemporary incarnation of the Sea of Cortez Race Week attracts folks who really love to sail, like Louis and Laura of the San Francisco-based Beneteau First 42s7 Cirque.

© Jay Ailworth

• La Paz Bay Fest will be held April 8-11, hosted by the Club Cruceros de La Paz. It’s heavy on social events with one day of sailing near the end. Hundreds of people attend.

• Loreto Fest will take plae April 30-May 2 this year. This always-popular event is put on by the Hidden Port YC, and is considered to be the big daddy of organized events in the Sea. You’ll see hundreds of folks at this fundraiser.

And after all these events, there’s spring and early summer cruising in the Sea of Cortez. Over the years, we’ve interviewed many circumnavigators who tell us that cruising the Sea is as good as it gets — in its own unique way — compared to any cruising grounds in the world.

The Mexican Navy’s boarding parties have become decidedly casual — either that or this is just a group of friendly sailors stopping by for a cerveza.
Los Gatos’ Bill Turpin and Southern California-based partner Dave Janes’ Bay Area-based R/P 77 Akela set new record in the San Diego YC’s Vallarta Race when it crossed the finish line off Punta Mita around 9 p.m.
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