What better way to ring in March than by sitting down with a hot-off-the-presses copy of Latitude 38? Learn how to prevent — and fight — boat fires, find out exactly why the Three Bridge Fiasco earns its name, meet this season’s batch of Pacific Puddle Jumpers, get the low-down on the 33rd America’s Cup and, of course, so much more.
And if you’re near the Berkeley Marina, you can now pick up your copy of the magazine at a convenient kiosk — and don’t forget the 2010 Northern California Sailing Calendar, which can be found on the other side. We should also remind you that, as always, the entire magazine can be downloaded from our site for free. (Due to some in-house technical difficulties, however, it may not be available until Wednesday.)
In the aftermath of Chile’s devastating magnitude-8.8 earthquake Saturday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii issued a tsunami warning to 53 nations and territories, prompting residents of waterside communities all along the Pacific Rim to made preparations and/or seek higher ground. In Japan alone, hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated, no doubt mindful that 140 Japanese had been killed by a stronger Chilean earthquake in 1960.
Although the PTWC may now be criticized by some for over-reacting — as they estimated wave heights to be roughly twice what they actually were — we certainly would expect such an agency to err on the side of caution, especially since memories are still fresh from the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, which killed 230,000 in the Indian Ocean, most of whom has no warning whatsoever.
As reports trickle in from sailors in many parts of the Pacific Rim, the consensus in most areas seems to be that the swell size, while abnormal, did only minor damage. One horrible exception, however, is that 147 people were reportedly killed on Juan Fernandez Island, which lies 400 miles off the coast of Chile, when the tsunami struck. The following are excerpts from reader reports:
Brian and Claudia of the L.A.-based sailboat Skylight had just begun their long-awaited cruise to Mexico when they heard the Coast Guard’s Imminent Tsunami Warning via VHF: "We were in mid-channel about three hours out of Los Angeles Harbor when we saw a black line on the horizon moving fast towards us. It was about 4-6 foot high . . . and looked like a large boulder field of boat-shaped boulders. . . Passing through it was a bit rough but very uneventful."
From Shelter Cove Marina in San Diego, Tom Wurfl of the Lagoon 42 Catatude reports: "The tsunami wreaked havoc. Apparently the current running in and out of America’s Cup basin was phenomenal."
From Santa Cruz, Tim Litvin of the Cheoy Lee OS40 Sala-ma-Sond writes:
"The tsunami made for some dockside excitement. Although we had an outgoing tide when it first hit, we had a current coming into the harbor reported to be close to 10 knots. As the very long-period tsunami swells came in and out of the harbor, I made a mark on one of the pilings that secures our floating dock, and then measured the dock going up and down. Over the course of one 10-minute span we saw the dock rise and fall four feet. To landside observers it was probably unspectacular, but to a boat owner, the strain on the infrastructure and dock lines was palpable."
From Banderas Bay, Mexico, Behan Gifford of the Eagle Harbor, WA-based Stevens 47 Totem writes, "The short version is that there was about a one-meter swing in water level with repeat cycles over a few hours. This mainly resulted in great entertainment for the dozens of folks gathered on the breakwall, as MEXORC racing boats going out for a practice day ran aground in the channel. Not sure why they thought it was a good idea to go out at the bottom swing of both tsunami surge and a full moon low tide."
From Waila, Maui, Mark and Sandi Joiner of Dolphin report: "The tsunami was pretty much a non-event here. All the boats emptied out of all the harbors and took to sea (it was quite a sight on the horizon). But the worst we had was a 3+ foot surge in the Kahului harbor here, which fortunately was at low tide. Several sailboats took to sea on a gorgeous afternoon and, like all sailors should, were obviously enjoying a great day of sailing during their enforced absence from the marinas!"
From the Ilikai Marina on Oahu, which is directly behind the Ala Wai, Dan Goldthorpe writes: "I counted about 50 boats that put to sea. There was a 100-ft line out of McDonalds (not my first choice for stocking up). The grocery store was nuts — one guy was really proud that he got a jump on everyone else in stocking up. He had a case of Keystone Light and a couple jugs of Black Velvet!"
From Kaiarara Bay, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand, Eric and Emmy Newbould of the Brickyard Cove-based Flying Dutchman 37 Nataraja write: "No large wave was forecast for us, but strong tidal flows and big tidal changes were expected. On our way to a new deep-water anchorage inside the bay, we could see the water off our starboard side was humped up and the current against us was pretty strong. But all is well here and we should be fine."
Compared to the earthquake’s horrific effect ashore, the abnormal swell action was but a minor footnote. But the widespread warnings served as a comforting illustration of how fast the PTWC warning system can alert authorities and media. Better to be safe than sorry.
"We’re a few years out from going cruising," writes Dave Phillipp of the Emeryville-based Beneteau 373 Epiphanie, "and are thinking about getting a dog but are unsure how it’ll work on a boat. When we leave, it’ll be on a larger monohull, or maybe even a catamaran, so we’d like a dog that would sail with us today and cruise with us tomorrow. We were hoping your readers might provide feedback on which dogs adapt well to cruising on sailboats. P.S.: We also have allergies so that further limits our choices."
Have you sailed with your pooch? Does a particular breed stand out as a natural born sailor? Share your thoughts (and photos!) with LaDonna.
On hearing that Bill Turpin’s Northern California-based R/P 77 Akela broke Magnitude 80‘s Vallarta Race record, we knew that it had to have been a fast race. But it wasn’t until we arrived in PV that we began to fully grasp just how fast it was. Akela navigator Ernie Richau — who navigated Mag 80 two years ago when it set the previous record — told us that if Magnitude had sailed this year, they would have broken the record by about 18 hours, in what’s essentially a 3.5-day race. Richau said that other than a 1.5-hour stretch the first night when the speedo was reading goose eggs, they never saw a parking lot the whole race.
In the end, four boats beat the ’08 reference time, and at least that many set boat records for top speeds. But while Akela may have won elapsed-time honors, it was Lorenzo Berho’s Kernan 68 Peligroso that won the race overall. Berho, who previously campaigned his J/145 Raincloud up and down the West Coast of the Americas — including at the Rolex Big Boat Series — pulled off quite a feat. Berho became the first Mexican entry to win the PV race, in what was only his fourth race with the boat since buying her in November from the Bay’s Dale Williams and the Mike Campbell’s widow Victoria. Inspired by the late Roy Disney’s Morning Light project, the Mexico City-based developer — who’s a member of both Vallarta and San Diego YCs — bought the boat with the intention of providing an entrée into the world of maxi boats for a select group of promising young Mexican sailors and Olympic hopefuls. Berho told us that after announcing his intentions, Morning Light Sailing Team Manager Robbie Haines called and offered his experience, ultimately bringing along ML co-navigator Piet Van Os, who performed the same role in this race along with Raul Velarde.
Per Peterson’s San Diego-based Andrews 70 Alchemy — still in sled trim — won Class 2, While Tom Akin’s Bay Area-based TP 52 Flash was second in the two-boat division after a hole at the finish allowed the larger boat to catch up. Jack Taylor’s Dana Point-based SC 50 Horizon won Division 3 — looking like a completely different boat than when Taylor sailed her to a class win in last year’s TransPac — after a major refit at Dencho Marine in Long Beach. We’ll have a more complete report on the Vallarta Race in the April issue of Latitude 38.
Of course a Vallarta Race means that MEXORC is just around the corner! We came down to check out the action after hearing what a large production this year’s event was going to be. Part of this year’s large Regatta Copa México, it’s part of a larger Extravaganza Naútica to celebrate Mexico’s bicentennial. With substantial government support — the Mexican Navy took on the finishing boat duties for the Vallarta race, for example — the event is a pretty big deal, and the shoreside entertainment has been amazing. Mexican President Felipe Calderon fired the first gun for the start of the first race today and welcomed the racers on the VHF — yeah, it’s that big of a deal! The regatta’s home base at Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle has been transformed in the last couple weeks, with a large hospitality "tent" that looks more like a Christo art project met a super spendy cocktail lounge.
Yesterday was the first day of racing for the ‘Oceanic’ class — the big boats — which sail through the week. St. Francis YC Racing Manager John Craig is here to run the kiting event that starts Tuesday and will feature Bay Area kiters, including Chip Wasson and Johnny Heineken and some of the world’s top kiteboard course racing talent. When these two events wrap up, there will be a large — about 55 boat — J/24 regatta concurrent with an 85-boat Opti regatta. There’ll also be a boatshow, and well, you get the picture — it’s a big deal.
We were conscripted to sail on Flash, under charter this week to Bay Area sailor Mark Howe, who’s co-skippering the boat with owner Mark Jones (who chartered it to Akin for the Vallarta race and, yeah, it’s just confusing). But anyway, so far, so good, as tonight’s provisional results had us finishing second in Class 1 in today’s bay-traversing windward/leeward race won by Akela. We say provisional because the ORR ratings are being used for the regatta, and as most boats’ ORR certificates are for offshore racing — where the system is predominately used in the U.S. — the boats’ ratings for the event were ammended for the additional crew they’re taking around the buoys. US Sailing’s Dan Nolan is on hand to get everything figured out for the racers. We tried having our camera with us while racing, but it turned out to be a bit of a hassle and we almost gave it a ‘Wanderer’s camera washing’ in the flying water generated by the 14- to 18-knot breeze and 14- to 18-knot boatspeeds we were seeing onboard. Provided the tropical weather doesn’t make us too langorous, we’ll check back in on Wednesday, hopefully with some more photos!