July 18, 2011

TransPac Notes

A moment of TransPac zen. Bob Lane’s Andrews 63 Medicine Man sending it into the finish at Diamond Head.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The last three days have seen a flurry of TransPac arrivals in Honolulu, with welcoming parties taking place at all hours of the day and night. There’s simply too much to fit into a ‘Lectronic posting — you’ll find a full recap of the race  in the August issue of Latitude 38 — so we’ll hit the high points here in the meantime:

• James McDowell’s Waikiki YC-based SC 70 Grand Illusion has won her second TransPac overall on corrected-time, in a year when her creator, Bill Lee, is the TransPacific Yacht Club Commodore. The San Francisco Bay’s Will Paxton was aboard.
• Hap Fauth’s R/P 74 Bella Mente pulled out the elapsed time honors.
• Jorge Ripstein’s Acapulco-based R/P TP 52 Patches won an amazingly tight Division 2 with the Bay’s Skip McCormack co-navigating and Belvedere-bred John Rumsey.
• Jack Taylor’s SC 50 Horizon is running away with the SC 50 division.
• Former Bay Area resident Simon Garland’s Hobie 33 Peregrine has sewn up the Division 6 honors.

James McDowell’s SC 70 Grand Illusion took home the overall honors for a second time.

© Sharon Green

Two Dead in Chicago-Mackinac Race

Two sailors died early this morning during the 103rd Annual Chicago-to-Mackinac Race when a severe thunderstorm sent wind speeds into the 50s. The Kiwi 35 WingNuts was reported capsized around 12:40 a.m. by nearby competitor Sociable, whose crew ended up rescuing six of the stricken boat’s eight crewmembers. Sadly, owner Mark Morley, 51, and Suzanne Bickel, 40, didn’t make it to the surface, and the Coast Guard recovered their bodies several hours later. Morley had six Mackinacs under his belt and Bickel two.

Though a number of boats have been damaged or lost during the 289-mile race, according to the sponsoring Chicago YC, these are the first deaths ever to occur due to weather or accident. 

Bashing Ahead of a Hurricane?

After a series of obstacles that have prevented us from heading north from La Cruz to do the Baja Bash with Profligate, we were all ready to go. Then we looked at Passage Weather.

We didn’t like the looks of the forecast for Thursday at 6 UTC.

© 2011 Passage Weather
And we didn’t find the looks of Saturday 12 UTC to be much more reassuring.

© Passage Weather

It’s true that the ‘storm’ is currently only Tropical Depression #4, and there’s a possibility it won’t amount to much. And if all went well, we could probably be in San Diego before the storm reached the latitude of Cabo. But we’ve convinced ourselves that our insurance company would prefer it if we didn’t run the risk of having engine or other problems while trying to outrun a hurricane. That’s because it gives us a chance to stay down here longer and enjoy the wonderful summer weather on Banderas Bay. The thought of a foggy California coast, and its icy water, sends a chill down our spine.

The good news is that the forecast for Tropical Depression #4, if it develops into a named storm, has been getting better. Originally Passage Weather had the storm skirting the coast of mainland Mexico then heading right up the center of the Sea of Cortez. Then it was going to go a little further offshore. As of the latest forecast, it appears it will go even further off the coast. Let’s hope that trend continues.

Help Us Welcome a Chilean Beauty

Like many longtime sailors, we’ve had a fascination with tall ships for decades. And having observed many of them both in port and under sail, we decided long ago that the Chilean Navy’s four-masted, 370-ft Esmeralda was one of the most beautiful — if not the most beautiful — of them all.

Nicknamed The White Lady, we think Chile’s Esmeralda is one of the most elegant sailing vessels afloat today.

© Chilean Navy

It’s not just that she has extremely graceful lines or that she’s one of the longest and has one of the tallest rigs of any tall ship. For us, the thing that sets her apart, and makes her so elegant under sail, is her sail plan. In contrast to most sail training vessels of her size, which are rigged primarily with square sails, Esmeralda is primarily rigged like a topsail schooner — although the squares on her foremast technically make her a Barquentine. She carries 21 sails in all, including six jibs!

Hopefully she’ll have her full complement of sails flying when she enters the Golden Gate at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, for a five-day port call in San Francisco Bay — and hopefully skies will be clear. We plan to be out on the Bay to usher this elegant lady into the Bay, and we’d encourage you to hop in your boat and join us. Tall ships of this caliber don’t often pay us a visit, so this is a rare opportunity you won’t want to miss.

If you can’t break away from your workaday routine, however, you can check her out at San Francisco’s Pier 27, where she’ll be open to the public this Thursday, Friday and Saturday (July 21-23) from 2 to 6 p.m. Esmeralda will depart Sunday at 3 p.m. Next stop: Victoria, B.C. See the ship’s website for detailed info.

The Oakcliff American Offshore Team on the STP 65 Vanquish is in some good company, finishing the 2950-mile Transatlantic Race next to Karl Kwok’s Farr 80 Beau Geste.
Allen and Kate Barry, liveaboards and worldwide cruisers for 20 years aboard the San Francisco-based DownEast 38 Mendocino Queen, report they were assaulted and robbed around 10:45 p.m.
A patriotic apparition? No, it’s the Freedom Flag, which will be flying over San Francisco Bay today in support of vets.