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March 21, 2011

Spring Storm Scours the Bay

More than 15 boats either sank or wound up on shore after Saturday night’s storm.

© 2011 Tim Sell

If you were anywhere near the Bay Area on Saturday, it probably didn’t escape your notice that we experienced some unsettled weather. After slogging through torrential downpours all day, the full force of the storm hit that evening, sending anchored boats dragging and shredding poorly secured roller furling jibs. "My anemometer maxed at just over 50 knots," wrote Jeff Berman, who had his Catalina 36 II Perseverance berthed at Sausalito’s Schoonmaker Point Marina for the weekend.

A number of boats — at anchor and in marinas — lost their roller furling jibs simply because they weren’t properly secured.

© 2011 Tim Sell

Boats anchored just off the marina in Richardson Bay took the brunt of the storm. According to Richardson Bay Regional Agency Harbor Administrator Bill Price, at least 15 boats — not including dinghies and skiffs — went walkabout on Saturday. "It’s very frustrating that people who can afford to keep their boats in marinas try to save money by anchoring out," said Price. "They underestimate the damage that other, less-well-maintained boats can cause when they drag anchor."

Derelicts weren’t the only victims — some well-outfitted boats also wound up in someone’s back yard.

© 2011 Tim Sell
Not all boats dragged anchor.

© 2011 Tim Sell

While most of the boats washed up on either Strawberry Point or near Blackie’s Pasture, a few actually sunk at their moorings. The Coast Guard and Marin Sheriff’s Patrol did their best that night to round up the strays, but only a handful were saved from being grounded. Salvage services such as Parker Diving will be likely be cleaning up the mess for days to come.

The Coasties and the Sheriff’s Patrol did what they could to help wayward boats.

© 2011 Tim Sell

Father and Son Cruising

When we last crossed paths with the father-son crew of Eva, they were testing their strength the Polynesian way at the 2009 Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous. As the smallest boat in that year’s fleet, their Nor’Sea 27 had served them well during the previous three years of cruising together — which included a crossing of more than 40 days from Hawaii where they faced day after day of headwinds. Before setting out in this stout little cruiser they’d completely reconditioned her in their driveway near the Mendocino coast.

It takes a very strong back plus a bit of techinque to hoist one of these Tahitian stones to your shoulder. After a lot of huffing and puffing, Michael was successful.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Not long after the Moorea rendezvous, we heard that Captain Michael and his father, Gerald, had come through their next challenge relatively unscathed: A drunken Tahitian had T-boned the little sloop while blasting around the Bora Bora anchorage in his speedboat. Not long after that, Michael and Gerald survived the October ’09 tsunami that hit Pago Pago, American Samoa, with almost no warning. Their boat — with them in it and its anchor down — was driven far inland on the first wave. While high and dry, they jumped out gathered up their ground tackle and waited for the next wave to pick them up and carry them back out to the anchorage. Amazingly, it did just that!

Last week we heard from Michael and Gerald again. "We have had a very interesting, but challenging tour through Southeast Asia the past few months. We were late leaving Australia, and have had light to non-existent wind for the last 4,000 miles. . . We sure have been glad to have our little Yanmar SB8, which gives us a range of 1,000 miles on one tank of 40 gallons of diesel. 

It’s not every father and son who can successfully cruise together – especially aboard a 27-footer. But Michael and Gerald are an exceptional team.

© Julie Turpin

"The only really tough part of the trip was through the Java Sea where we had quite strong head winds most of the time. The worst was when Cyclone Vince, 600 miles to the south, was reinforcing the northwest monsoon flow, giving us day after day of 40-knot winds from the west. And, of course, we happened to be right in the middle of the Java Sea when this wind hit. But having a chance to see the orangutans in the Tanjung Putting National Park on Kalimantan was worth the difficult Java Sea crossing."

The pair sent their concern about recent damage along the California coast, noting that, "Here in Galle, people are still talking about the ’04 tsunami that leveled the town. We have met several people who are still lamenting the loss of their beach houses seven years on." When we profiled Michael and Gerald in ’09, their advice to future cruisers was: "Be prepared, be self-sufficient, but above all, be flexible." It seems that heeding their own advice has served them well.

She may not be sexy and luxurious, but little Eva as safely carried Michael and Gerald through all sorts of challenges.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
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