June 7, 2010

Freda Gets Her Whiskey Plank

Freda drew quite a crowd for the fastening of her “shutter plank” on Saturday at the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center.

latitude/Rob
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

One-hundred and twenty-five years after she was first launched on the shores of Belvedere Cove, the 32-ft gaff sloop Freda marked a momentous occasion on Saturday afternoon when she received her shutter plank. The roughly eight-foot-long plank finished off the hull-planking phase of the decade-long restoration of the West Coast’s oldest sailing yacht by the Arques School, the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center, the Master Mariners Benevolent Association, local preservationists and donors.

Freda’s last gap.

latitude/Rob
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

About 100 people showed up to watch what’s also known as the "whiskey plank" get a splash of deep-gold firewater before being fastened in place by graduates and students of the Arques School of Traditional Boatbuilding, which shares the Spaulding Center space. A short presentation started things off with a history of the yacht and a talk by Arques School Director Bob Darr who commented that, "Freda not only has a soul, but a soul with good karma." Darr explained that when she arrived at Spaulding’s, Freda‘s sheer had flattened out and the hull was heavily distorted. From our perspective, that was hard to visualize when seeing the fully-planked hull at this point in its museum-quality restoration.

Arques School graduate and Northbay Boatworks co-owner Anton Hottner sets a silicon bronze screw in the shutter plank.

latitude/Rob
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

After the fastening of the plank, guests were treated to barbequed oysters and Anchor Steam beer — the latter courtesy of that brewery’s founder and Spaulding Center client and supporter Fritz Maytag, who also donated the ceremonial whiskey which the crowd got to share in. Music was provided by the "Waterfront Pickers" which included Tom List, who originally nursed a near-dead Freda from San Rafael to Spaulding’s back in ’99. The message of the day was that the project still needs more funding, but as Darr said: "We’ll get it somehow."

Escapade’s Greg Dorland Breaks Leg Offshore

Escapade at the Columbie anchorage in St. Barth just days before leaving for Bermuda and the East Coast. From left, Marin-based crew Michael Kennedy, Greg and Debbie.

latitude/Richard
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Greg Dorland of the Lake Tahoe-based Catana 52 Escapade severely broke his leg while taking sail down in a thunderstorm outside of Annapolis yesterday," report Bob and Kristin Beltrano of the Annapolis-based Swan 53 Nai’a. "Greg was taken off the boat and to a hospital by the Coast Guard. His wife Debbie continued on to Annapolis alone, a place she’d never been before, and anchored with just one engine, something she’d never done before. We’d been buddyboating with Greg and Debbie since Bermuda, and had talked them into heading to Annapolis."

Escapade as seen during the ’09 Banderas Bay Regatta. Greg and Debbie have come to love their boat and the cruising lifestyle.

latitude/Richard
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We spent a bit of time enjoying St. Barth with Greg and Debbie on our respective cats in May, and became pretty good friends. As late as the night before they left the island, they couldn’t decide whether to head for Grenada in the Southern Caribbean or Bermuda and the Northeast United States. Greg opted for the Northeast, as he didn’t feel comfortable leaving his boat in the Caribbean during hurricane season.

Dorland is a very experienced lifelong sailor, having done a lot of racing in his younger days — he won the SC27 Nationals three times. A little more than two years ago, he and Debbie bought Escapade, which they love. After doing a Ha-Ha and Sea of Cortez Sailing Week in ’08, Greg sailed to Hawaii and then back to California doublehanded. He and Debbie did the ’09 Ha-Ha, then continued on through the Canal and to St. Barth, where they won their division in the cruising multihull class of the Voiles. We wish him a fast recovery.

Cruisers, We Need You

We’re gearing up for an article on tips for this fall’s group of first-time cruisers and we’d love to include ideas from experienced cruisers. If you’ve cruised for more than a year, send us the top 10 things you think everyone should know before they cast off the docklines — and please be brief. Be sure to include your name(s), boat model and name, hailing port and where you’ve been cruising. If you have photos to illustrate your points, we’d love to see them.

One Hundred Two and Counting

The stress of planning a complex gathering can easily give even the most experienced event planners angst, and perhaps even nightmares. "What if no one shows up?" they ask themselves in sleepless torment. When the recession hit, we has such thoughts about our annual San Diego-to-Cabo rally, the Baja Ha-Ha.

Is the Ha-Ha rally any fun? Ask any kid who’s done it, and we think you’ll hear a resounding “Yes!”

latitude/Richard
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

But apparently our still-struggling economy isn’t enough to discourage hundreds of sailors from persuing their dreams of cruising to the sunny latitudes of Mexico. With more than two months remaining until the September 10 entry deadline, over 100 boats have now signed up — 102 to be exact.

The most recent is Tom Kohrs and Cary Purvis’ Island Packet 37 Dragon’s Toy, based at Freeport, CA. "Fates had us crossing each other’s paths for the last 15 years," explains Tom. "We were both in the ‘06 and ‘08 Ha-Ha’s, but we’d never met until we signed on to do a delivery from Panama to Florida in early ‘09. We have been inseparable ever since." If you’d like to join the fun this year, you’ll find complete registry info at the website. And if you don’t have your own boat, but would like to crew, we encourage you to sign up with our online Crew List. See you out there!

Here are the latest entries:

94. Taverna / Catalina 470 / Sal & Debbie Vitale / San Francisco
95. Fixin’ To / Hylas 44 / Jim & Sharon MacIntosh / San Francisco
96. Phambili / Given 45 / Tommy Lorenzo & Fiona Coleman / Victoria, BC
97. Seabird / Swan 51 / Lou Freeman / Ventura
98. Intuition / C&C 37XL / Ron & Connie Holbrook / Tacoma, WA
99. Ticket / Beneteau 47.3 / Rick Niello / Sausalito
100. Wyspa / Baltic 55 DP / Roger Waterman / Del Mar
101. Touchrain / Ericson 38 / Michael & Jan Wilson / Olympia, WA
102. Dragon’s Toy / Island Packet 37 / Tom Kohrs & Cary Purvis / Freeport

During Ocean Watch’s epic cruise there were both miserable days – with 50-knot winds and 50-ft waves – and glorious days like this one, blasting downwind under sunny skies.
We can’t identify who called Latitude yesterday morning with the report, but a normally reliable source extremely close to the ultimate decision-maker for the site of the next America’s Cup says that Larry Ellison of BMW Oracle is about to announce that the next America’s Cup will be held off Italy, not on San Francisco Bay.
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Saturday, June 12
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We hope we never have to experience a scene like this first-hand. But if a float plan submitted to the Coast Guard means that we get to actually live to tell about it, then we’re all for it.