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September 29, 2010

Big Fun at Regatta Vava’u

The Delos crew definitely got our vote for the most inventive costumes. That’s Princess Leia between Beer Man and the Green Goblin.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

After nearly a week of nonstop fun and frivolity, the second annual Regatta Vava’u and Festival drew to a close yesterday with its final awards ceremony. The event — which is the brainchild of former Bay Area sailors Ben and Lisa Newton — drew 45 cruising boats from more than a dozen nations, most of which will soon jump off for New Zealand in advance of the South Pacific cyclone season.

We flew in to join the fun just in time to take part in the ‘fancy dress’ pub crawl, where cruisers — many of whom normally head for bed shortly after sundown — showed amazing stamina, as the crawl snaked through the streets of Neiafu, stopping at practically every watering hole in this tiny waterfront town.

The fleet converges as they round the first mark in Neiafu Harbour.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Jeff and Judy Wahl had to abandon their Puddle Jump plans last winter after their PV-based Wellington 47 Island Mistress nearly sank. But they flew out to Vava’u and rented this Folkboat to join in the fun.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Two days of fleet racing allowed boats of all types to strut their stuff without getting too serious. The longer course on Saturday threaded through Vava’u’s distinctive maze of heavily forested islands, and ended at one of the area’s many uninhabited bays. That night, fleet members got decked out in their finest pirate garb for the full moon party in a special venue that had been carved out from the jungle only days before. The hardiest revelers raged on until the wee hours. 

Both islanders and cruisers turned out for a cultural dance show in the center of town.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

After a peaceful day of rest on Sunday — in keeping with Tonga’s strong religious traditions — mixed teams of sailors competed in a full day’s worth of games and "silliness" that ended in a hilarious pie-eating contest on Monday. Amazingly, the winner choked down 10 of them!

Ian Gray makes a healthy donation to the local all-nationalities kindergarten on behalf of the Whangarei Marine Group – a Regatta sponsor.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The islands of Tonga’s Vava’u group comprise one of the most idyllic cruising grounds in the South Pacific, and Neiafu’s well-protected anchorage is said to be the best hurricane hole along the so-called cruiser milk run. Given those facts, and the Regatta’s ‘everybody wins’ attitude, we’d highly recommend that future Pacific cruisers make it a high priority to visit these unspoiled islands, which were dubbed "the friendly islands" by Captain Cook, and still live up to that name.

The final act of the games competition was a pie in the face for MC ‘Billy Snips’.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Although next year’s Regatta dates have yet to be announced, it will take place in roughly the same time frame. Check out the website for further info and this year’s, and future, events.

Waterspout Touches Down in the Sea

Rich Boren from the Port San Luis-based Hudson Force 50 Third Day reports that cruisers in the Singlar Marina in Santa Rosalia were treated to a spectacular show just outside the harbor entrance on Monday morning.

"We were all watching the towering convection clouds forming to the south and west. Some were removing their sun shades in hopes of getting a free rinse down from the expected rain showers. What they didn’t expect was to see a waterspout dancing just outside the entrance to the Santa Rosalia harbor.

Uh oh. I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘W’.

© Rich Boren

"The marina is currently full, mostly with boats that just came down from spending the summer in the Bahia de Los Angeles and haven’t seen a marina slip, dock water, and shore power in months. We’d just arrived and were busy making preparations to leave Third Day in the marina for the month of October.  As I was putting out extra fenders and lines I heard, “Attention the fleet, attention the fleet” over the VHF radio. Long-time Old Marina resident Toby from the vessel Pear D had spotted a funnel cloud descending from the dark mass of clouds to the south of town and was alerting everyone to get ready for some possible excitement. 

Cruisers were hoping for a quick wash-down from the passing raincloud — they got a little more than they bargained for.

© Rich Boren

"The boats that didn’t already have their sun shades down scrambled to clear their decks as the waterspout touched down on the lighted rock just south of the Santa Rosalia harbor entrance and then headed for the mouth of the harbor.  Stinging rain gave the boats their desired wash down to the sounds of banging halyards and wind whistling through the rigging. The waterspout passed in front of the harbor entrance and dissipated in about 20 minutes, but the rain continued for the next two hours, washing months-worth of salt from the boats.  No damage was reported — a few seat cushions and sunbrella covers flew off boats but were retrieved from the water after the excitement passed."

Help Bring the Cup to America

The time has come when your support could make a huge difference to the fate of the America’s Cup coming to the Bay.

© 2010 Monty Hall

If you missed it, yesterday the City announced that it was offering $270 million for the renovations necessary to host the next America’s Cup. It also announced that it had submitted its negotiated term sheet to the supes.

"Today is a big day for San Francisco’s America’s Cup Bid," said Kyri McClellan, project manager with the Mayor’s office. We’ve introduced the term sheet — our negotiated offer to the BMW ORACLE Team — at the Board of Supervisors and are enjoying strong support out of the gate from the Board — already six co-authors."

"The term sheet will be referred to the Board of Supervisor’s Land Use Committee and heard next Monday, October 4 at 1 p.m. at City Hall, Room 263," McClellan said. "This is your chance to show your support for bringing the 34th America’s Cup to the San Francisco Bay. Please come to the hearing and testify, and between now and then call, email and write the members of the Board of Supervisors to share your support. Here is a link to their contact information: ( When we have a meeting agenda we will forward that as well."

You can view the term sheet here:

Anyone out there want to organize a party bus to go to the meeting on Monday? Let us know.

One Bad Apple

In the October issue of Latitude 38 you’ll find profiles on the crew of seven cruising boats that passed through the Bay this month on their way south. All were thoroughly impressed by the wonderful people they’d met in the Bay Area, and the general welcoming spirit they’d found.

But one bad apple can really spoil the whole barrel.

Our hearts sank when we saw this Craigslist ad posted on Monday. What a welcome to the Bay!

© 2010 Craigslist

"I’d let my guard down," explained Lauren Buchholz of the Seattle-based Wauquiez 35 Piko, who are not featured in the article. "I tied up our dinghy Sunday night with a proper cleat hitch, and the next morning, it was gone." Lauren and his girlfriend Lauren Smith had arrived on the Bay September 13, and spent a week in Alameda’s Marina Village before heading over to Richardson Bay, where they anchored off Paradise Bay Restaurant.

When they realized their dinghy was AWOL, they upped anchor and did a circuit around the area but saw no sign of it. They filled out a police report — "They told us not to expect to see it again," said Lauren B. — and hot-footed it over to Sal’s Inflatables in Alameda for a replacement.

The Laurens — Lauren Smith and Lauren Buchholz — say the theft of their dinghy and motor (which can be seen to the left of Lauren S.) hasn’t tarnished their view of Bay Area sailors.

© The Laurens

The Laurens had been planning to leave yesterday morning, but that was pushed back a couple days. "I just need to get to to Santa Cruz by this weekend so I can sail in the Moore 24 Nationals," Lauren B. noted. Otherwise, the couple plans a slow hop down to San Diego where they’ll await the start of the Baja Ha-Ha. "We’re Entry #2!"

Lauren B. says that the experience has left a permanent mark on their perception of the Bay Area — a good one. "With the exception of the guy who stole our dinghy, everyone here has been so friendly and supportive. It’s been amazing." Ah, the barrel didn’t spoil after all!

“Psst, buddy, wanna good deal?”

© 2010 Achilles/Mercury

So if you’re offered a screaming deal on a grey, 8′ 8"-long 2007 Achilles LSI-88 in new condition with a ’99 Mercury four-hp, two-stroke outboard in near-new condition — neither with any identfying marks, unfortunately — do a good deed and contact the Sausalito Police Department at (415) 289-4170.

The body of Hermosa Beach resident Richard Barras, 59, was found floating about two miles offshore Thursday evening after his 24-ft sailboat Seeya beached itself near the Redondo Beach pier.