Skip to content
August 18, 2010

Warrior’s Wish Wobbles Home

Ronnie Simpson and Ed McCoy pulled off the impossible by sailing under the Gate very early this morning.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A 21-day return passage from Hawaii isn’t shabby for any boat, but it’s downright miraculous for one that lost her keel nearly 800 miles from the beach. But Ronnie Simpson has once again proven that miracles do happen, this time by sailing under the Gate early this morning.

Last Wednesday night, the 2,500-lb keel on the Jutson 30 Warrior’s Wish — owned by ’08 Singlehanded TransPac vet Don Gray and loaned to Simpson for this summer’s running of the event — parted ways with the remaining 3,500 lbs of boat. "We heard a series of loud pops," Simpson’s crew and mentor, Ed McCoy, told us after safely tying up to the docks at Bay Marine in Richmond this morning. "Yeah, then when Ed tried to tack," Ronnie jumped in, "nothing happened." A dive on the hull the next morning revealed the missing appendage.

A passing freighter did doughnuts around Warrior’s Wish last Thursday so Ronnie and Ed could pick up 50 gallons of diesel, which was more than enough to get them home.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Since we didn’t capsize, Ed said we should just start motoring," said Simpson. "But we learned pretty quickly that we needed the jib up to stablize the boat, otherwise we were rolling pretty bad." Logging an easy six knots for most of the remainder of the trip, the guys seemingly lost little time after their potentially disasterous incident. "I’d guess they lost less than a day," noted boat owner Don Gray, who flew in to greet the duo.

At O’Dark Thirty, four boats escorted the wounded Warrior under the Gate as she motored to Richmond. Thai food and beer were passed to her crew, cheers were sounded, and everyone marveled at this pair’s ability to sail so far with so little. Look for a full report on the incident in the September issue of Latitude 38.

Ronnie and Ed were heartily welcomed to the Bay in the pre-dawn hours by Drew, Garret and Lynn on Yukon Jack, Ben, Lucie and Gary on Georgia, Adam on Bozo, and Don, Rob and this writer on Racer Chaser One. Good to have you home, boys!

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Name That Photo

Daily life in mainstream society can get a bit dreary these days. But we’ve found it helps keep our psyches in balance if we get a little silly once in a while. Hence, the accompanying photo.

What’s your title for this image?

latitude/John A.
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

When the ‘shooter’ submitted it to ‘Lectronic Latitude editors he had a very specific title in mind for the image. Can you guess what it was? Send us your guess and you’ll have a chance to win a T-shirt from Lagunitas Ale and a Latitude 38 sailing cap. And if you’ve got a quirky photo you’d like to submit for a later contest, we’d love to see it.

UPDATE: We have our winner! Congratulations to Daniel Weyant for guessing "Two Beers Before the Mast," a play on the Richard Henry Dana classic Two Years Before the Mast. An honorable mention goes to C. Brian Richards for his guess: "Foredecker Bait." Thanks for playing!

Latitude 38’s Crew List – Your Ticket to Ride

"I began sailing about a year ago and immediately fell in love with the sport," wrote Pat Lakner. "Since boats needing crew are difficult to find on your own, a friend advised me to sign up for the Crew List on the Latitude 38 website, saying that the magazine is the ‘Bible’ of the sailing world. Even with my lack of experience, within two weeks the skipper of an F-27 contacted me for weekday sailing, which has turned into a weekly invitation. Two months later, the skipper of a 42-ft ketch contacted me to crew on his boat on weekends. There is no way I would be sailing nearly as much or getting such diverse experience without Latitude 38."

Signing up for the Crew List might open the door to opportunities you’ve never even dreamed of.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We’re proud to say that Latitude‘s Crew List has helped hundreds of sailors find rides for everything from daysailing to world cruising. It is now free, online, and available 24/7. In addition, consider attending our annual Mexico-Only Crew List Party, September 8 at Alameda’s Encinal YC (6 to 9 p.m.). Who knows, you might find a ride for this year’s Baja Ha-Ha rally that will begin a whole new lifestyle of international cruising!

Alameda Family Cruising In The Balearics

We’ll have a report on the adventures of Alameda’s Pimentel Family — Rodney, Jane, CJ and Leo — in the Med in the September issue of Latitude 38, but in the meantime we have a few photos to share with you.

Jane Pimentel, perhaps the most overdressed person on Ibiza, stands on the back of her floating Med castle and surveys the clear waters.

Azure II
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As some of you might remember, a number of years ago Rodney and Jane did a South Pacific cruise aboard their Jeanneau 36 Azure. After the birth of their boys and for the last 10 years or so, they have raced their Cal 40 Azure — which they still own — locally and to Hawaii.

But having gotten the cruising bug again, they bought a Leopard 47 in the Caribbean and did some cruising there. But the big goal was the Med. Rodney, former Commodore of the Encinal YC, and friends sailed the cat to Bermuda and the Azores. Jane and the boys joined the boat in the Azores — which they loved — and sailed the remaining 600 miles to Portugal. The family is now in Mallorca, the biggest of Spain’s Balearic Islands.

Leo, a fifth grader in real life, takes a leap to the next level of young manhood.

Azure II
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

“We just pulled into Puerto Soller on the north coast of Mallorca,” writes Rodney. People — including the Wanderer — have told us that the trolley to Soller and the old train over the mountains to Palma is really fun, so we’ll be doing that in the next day or two. Mallorca has been a pleasant surprise, as the mountain terrain is fantastic and the crowds — if you have a boat — have been very manageable. We particularly like the Adraitx-Dragonera area.

Rodney, sitting on the family’s cat in Spain, reading Latitude on the iPad.

Azure II
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

“We previously stopped at Ibiza, the internationally famed party island of the world. It’s definitely a clothing-optional place. We hope the boys haven’t been disturbed for life by the sight of all the naked mud-bathers. But we did find a few decent anchorages. Our favorite was Cala Tarinda, where there were lots of families wearing clothes and the water was amazingly clear.

“We’d also like to report that we’ve been very happy with our Moorings/Leopard 47 catamaran. She’s exceeded all our expectations. And now that I’m over the hump with boat projects, I just need to keep her purring.

The rule on Azure II is that everything must have at least two purposes. The kayak has three: 1) A kayak. 2) A passerelle. 3) A diving board.

Azure II
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

“While in the Caribbean, we bumped into Mark and Liesbet Colleart of the Tobago 35 cat Irie. About five years ago, they departed Emeryville on a cruise aboard their Freeport 36, but abandoned it after one day because it seemed too hard on their dogs. After land travelling in Central America for awhile, they decided to try cruising with dogs on a cat, and bought the Tobago on the East Coast. They’ve been in the Caribbean for the last several years, during which time they came up with a product called the Wirie, which is used to pick up wifi signals while at anchor. It’s sold very well, and has worked great for us in Europe. We’ve been able to find an open wifi signal in almost every harbor. We’ve also purchased a Huawei broadband card that uses the Moviestar network. But it’s kind of expensive.

If Leo and CJ, chilling in the boat hammock, are anything like our kids, they’ll be laughing over memories of their Med adventure for the rest of their lives.

Azure II
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

“While back in California, Jane, who used to work for Apple, picked up an iPad. We love it! It’s a great platform, and the PDF reader lets me increase the size of the print so I don’t need to use reading glasses. It’s fun to read Latitude on the iPad in the Med, although there are some type issues that I hope Latitude can resolve before too long.

“It was interesting to read in last month’s issue about how many sailors are apparently using the iPad for navigation. We haven’t done that yet — well, we did have to use the iPhone in a pinch — but we have used the iPad for celestial sightings. Check out the Star Walk app.

“When we met the Wanderer in St. Barth this spring, he told us one season in the Med would probably be too little, given all the trouble we’ve gone through to get the boat to our liking and over to Europe. He’s right. So we’ll probably take the boat to Malta for the winter, then do Greece and Croatia next year.”

Narwhal Saved from Sinking

Mike Latta borrowed a portable bilge pump from a passing cruising boat, which helped him get Narwhal to safety. A Mexican Navy RIB can be seen keeping an eye on the situation.

© 2010 Yadranka Svane

Considering how nervous sailors are about sinking, it’s ironic how many holes we happily put in our boats below the waterline — for sink drains, depthsounders, raw water intakes, prop shafts and more. Then again, maybe all those holes are the reason sailors are so nervous about sinking. As Mike Latta found out last month during a crossing of the Sea of Cortez aboard his 22-ft Falmouth Cutter Narwhal, those fears are well founded.

"I left Mazatlan on the morning of July 21 with a pleasant 6- to 8-knot southerly sending me motorsailing north to Puerto Escondido," Mike tells us. "Early the following morning, I checked the bilge sump in front of my Yanmar and it was full of water and about to spill over. It turns out that the stuffing box, re-packed by the yard a year ago, wasn’t just dripping — it was gurgling. I started working my manual pump but after three or four strokes, the handle suddenly flopped loosely in my hand, all suction lost.

"I got out my ‘back-up’ portable electric pump, which has a hose just long enough to pour water into a bucket placed on the floor boards. With two buckets I could be dumping one while the other filled. In this fashion I was able to reduce the level and keep the water down in the sump.

"I tried my ancient best to tighten the stuffing box, but I just couldn’t do it. I considering turning back to Mazatlan but I was going twice as fast toward Baja, than I would have made if I’d turned around. By 3 p.m. Thursday, I’d probably lifted a few thousand buckets of water into the galley sink, hour after hour after hour, trying to keep ahead of it before eventually realizing it was a losing battle.

"It came down to two choices: keep bailing until Narwhal was overwhelmed and sank while I splashed around in the sea waiting for something hideous and bigger than me to come by; or whine for help now and see if anybody with a pump shows up before option one becomes a reality."

The Port Shanghai dwarfed Mike’s tiny 22-ft cruiser.

© 2010 Yadranka Svane

Mike eventually decided to call a mayday that was answered by the oil tanker Port Shanghai. After it arrived on scene a couple of hours later, a crewman carrying an industrial-sized pump was lowered aboard Narwhal, and within minutes the water that had been up to Mike’s knees was gone — for the moment. But the relief was only temporary as the crewman had to take the pump back to the ship. Serendipitously, Ib and Yadranka Svane on the Hans Christian 38 Aeolus were nearby and offered the use of a small portable bilge pump, which is what kept Narwhal afloat for the remainder of her crossing to La Paz.

"I circled off the Abaroa dockyards in La Paz at 3 p.m. Friday and they immediately hauled me out. The yard is now working on the problems. It turned out to be a combination of problems involving the shaft, cutlass bearing, and the hose connection to the stuffing box — all are now being replaced. The incredible people who responded to my mayday have gone their separate ways. I’ll never forget them. As for tomorrow, who knows? Right now I’m just happy to be alive aboard my Narwhal."

Angel Island at dusk. This view can only be seen by campers and boaters.
Former youngest solo circumnavigator Zac Sunderland was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with three misdemeanors.
Although the prime season for ‘jumping the puddle’ from the west coast of the Americas to French Polynesia is still six months away, a wide variety of international cruisers are already psyching up for the 3,000-mile crossing.