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April 19, 2010

Clipper Race Restarts Tomorrow

Spirit of Australia gets in a shakedown cruise this weekend. She and eight other Clippers will start the next leg of the Race tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. Head on down!

© Erik Simonson

With a successful stopover behind them, the nine boats in the ’09-10 Clipper ‘Round the World Race will start Race 8 of the world tour tomorrow. Although we’d been hoping for a big weekend send-off, a sailor delayed in Europe by the volcano ash cloud, and the arrival of Team Finland early this morning — delayed in getting its new rig stepped in Qingdao — have pushed the start from the realm of sunshine into what’s looking like a very wet day. The National Weather Service is forecasting a westerly of 10- to 20-knots with gusts to 30 knots near Angel Island, along with rain and isolated thunderstorms that will clock to the northwest and dry up a little in the evening.

California with her new rig.

© Erik Simonson

Understanding that most people won’t be able to get out of work, Clipper Ventures has wisely decided to start the 3,329-mile leg to Panama in the evening. So if you can’t make it down to see the fleet leave the docks at 3 p.m., or the parade of sail at 4 p.m., then grab an umbrella and a raincoat and stop by the San Francisco Marina for the 6 p.m. start. If you thought it was cool to have the Clippers visit the Bay, and want to see them come back in ’11-12, then head on down and show your support.

Boat Show Revelry

Gentle breezes and warm temps greeted showgoers at Strictly Sail this weekend.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Strictly Sail Pacific couldn’t have been held on a more beautiful weekend — perfect for viewing boats in their ‘natural habitat’, so to speak. Attendees to the four-day show took full advantage of free sailboat rides, deeply discounted gear and services, and absolutely stunning weather.

This swarming mass of bodies consumed 31 gallons of Sierra Nevada, and 12 1.5-liter bottles (twice the size of normal bottles) each of Woodbridge Merlot and Chardonnay.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Many of those who came on Friday stuck around after the show closed for Latitude 38‘s Baja Ha-Ha, Pacific Puddle Jump and Delta Doo Dah Reunion Party. We couldn’t begin to guess how many people stopped by to claim their free beer and wine, but we can tell you that the Latitude staff developed serious ‘bartender elbows’ — which required liberal doses of our own medicine — from so much pouring and keg pumping!

Supersize me! This Latitude-crazy partygoer shows off the Costco-sized bottle of merlot that murdered his white polo. He considered the stains a badge of honor.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

While Strictly Sail is now just a warm memory, it was a great jump-start to the sailing season, which officially opens this Sunday with Opening Day on the Bay. This year’s theme of "Building Bridges" will undoubtedly spark some creative entries in the boat parade, which starts around noon and runs from Crissy Field to Pier 39.

Puddle Jumpers Reach Marquesas

During much of the year every anchorage in the Marquesas is pretty sleepy. But this month the clearance ports at Hiva Oa and Nuku Hiva are abuzz with activity, as Pacific Puddle Jumpers from many nations complete their passages from Mexico, Panama, Ecuador and the U.S. Rob Lambert and Elisabeth Lehmberg of the Alameda-based Swan 41 Proximity checked in with us after their finishing their 24-day crossing from Banderas Bay, Mexico:

South Pacific cruisers will tell you that making landfall beneath the towering volcanic peaks of the Marquesas is an awe-inspiring experience.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Although the seas got lumpy after about four days out — and stayed lumpy! — we had a wonderful time. It was truly an incredible experience. . . We were unprepared for the friendly reception by the Marquesians. We walk into town, and often, a pick up or car stops and a nice voice says, ‘Hop in’, unsolicited.

"Since Atuona is a check-in point, the little anchorage here is a zoo, with way too many boats that need to get in. So, even though we find Atuona absolutely delightful, we will leave on Tuesday for an island just to the south of us where we can relax a bit more. . . Tonight, we are having cocktails on a neighboring boat and celebrating our friend’s new Marquesian tatoo! We’re not really into tatts, but the Marquesian tatts are certainly the most attractive we have seen.

In Mexico, Elisabeth and Rob were already smiling at the thought of doing the Puddle Jump. But now that they completed the 3,000-mile passage, they’re really beaming.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"We are happy, says Rob. "We have crossed nearly 3,000 miles of open ocean. We have crossed the equator, and have been hit in the face by a flying fish. We have some stories to tell!" Look for a recap of this year’s Pacific Puddle Jump crossing in an upcoming edition of Latitude 38, along with a report on this year’s Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous, slated for June 18-20.

Ha-Ha Committee Out of Hibernation

With the coming of spring, creatures of all types emerge from hibernation — including Baja Ha-Ha Rally Committee members. Because the feat of organizing this massive annual event is so exhausting for the staff of its founding sponsor, Latitude 38, employees are strictly forbidden from even uttering the ‘B’ word during the winter months.

The Ha-Ha 17 fleet will head south of the border on October 25.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

But now that spring has sprung, the 17th annual San Diego-to-Cabo rally is in the spotlight again and we’re ready to tell you all about it. First, the dates for the 2010 event will be October 24 to November 6, with the Costume Kickoff Party on the 24th, the start on the 25th, and the Awards Ceremony on the 6th. Online signups will begin after ‘Lectronic Latitude is posted (around noon PDT) on Monday, May 3, and all 2010 info — such as a list of important dates — will be updated at that time. The standard entry fee is $350 per boat, but skippers who are under 35 or whose boat is 35 feet or less pay the discounted rate of $300.

In the meantime, newcomers to the event can find the answers to many frequently asked questions on the current site under "About the Ha-Ha" and within the "First Timer’s Guide to Mexico." Between the two documents, you can learn all the details about the event — who can enter, clearance procedures, risks and responsibilties — as well as all sorts of useful info about cruising Mexico.

In an ironic contrast to the gloom and doom of the economic meltdown, last year’s Ha-Ha fleet was the largest ever, with 193 entries. We have no idea if this year’s roster will top that, but early indications are that the 2010 fleet will be a whopper. At least a dozen boats currently cruising Mexico have vowed to bash back to San Diego, just so they can do the Ha-Ha run again.

Strictly Sail Pacific is the place to be this weekend — especially tonight, for the Baja Ha-Ha, Pacific Puddle Jump and Delta Doo Dah Reunion Party at 6 p.m.
Dinghies and their motors are probably the most common target of thieves in the cruising community, and Harry Hazzard of the San Diego-based Beneteau Idylle 51 Distant Drum reports on a rash of such thefts in Barra de Navidad, just south of Puerto Vallarta.
Back in March, we wrote about the mysterious A, the 394-ft motoryacht that is as staggeringly different from all previous motoryachts as Tom Perkins 289-ft Maltese Falcon was to all previous sailing yachts.