July 22, 2011

Bonus Points for Esmeralda

Esmerelda sailed through the Gate yesterday under full sail and foggy skies.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It was truly unfortunate that the 370-ft Chilean tall ship Esmeralda didn’t arrive beneath the Golden Gate Wednesday morning as planned, because the weather was absolutely stunning on that clear, sunny morning. That said, there was almost no wind.

By contrast, when the four-masted sail training vessel finally did arrive yesterday morning, a heavy fog shrouded much of the Bay, but there was a steady 15-knot breeze blowing through the Gate — an ideal velocity that allowed this Latin beauty to fly all 21 of her sails. In our book she gets ‘bonus points’ for that.

Her young crew climbed as high as 150 feet off the water to furl her 21 sails.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It was unfortunate that more local sailors couldn’t have witnessed her arrival and watched her 300 cadets swarming up the ratlines to furl tops’l and course sails while en route to her Pier 27 berth. If you’ve ever had to go aloft while your boat was underway you’ll have some appreciation of what it would be like to balance yourself on one of Esmeralda‘s yardarms — the highest of which is nearly 150 feet off the water — while using both hands to furl a sail. The ship will be open to the public today and tomorrow (July 22-23) from 2 to 6 p.m., with her departure set for Sunday at 3 p.m. Check out the ship’s website for details.

Dora Downshifts

Storm watchers in both the Eastern Pacific and Western Atlantic are breathing a sigh of relief today, as the three powerful storms that have been threatening communities ashore have all diminished in strength and/or moved out to sea.

The greatly diminished Dora is now moving NW at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. A Tropical Storm Watch is active for the southern tip of Baja, but no major effects ashore are currently anticipated.

© 2011 NOAA

Off the Mexican coast, Hurricane Dora has recently downshifted from a Category 4 storm to a Category 1, after her winds reached a peak intensity of 155 mph Thursday morning — just one mph shy of Category 5 status. "It’s actully a beautiful sunny day down here," reports Latitude 38 publisher Richard Spindler, who has been waiting in Puerto Vallarta for a weather window in which to bring the company’s 63-ft cat Profligate north. Oddly enough, though, on Wednesday evening the Banderas Bay area experienced a tremendous lightning storm with 40-knot winds — completely unrelated to Dora — which did minor damage to facilities ashore.

Dora, whose eye is now roughly 240 miles south of Cabo San Lucas and 100 miles east of Isla San Benedicto, is expected to parallel the Baja coast as it continues to diminish. Meanwhile, in the Atlantic, Tropical Storms Cindy and Bret have both moved farther offshore, thus posing no threat to facilities ashore. The hurricane seasons in both the Atlantic and Pacific are far from over, however, as storm activity often continues through October. To keep track of storms throughout the season, check this National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) site.

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Sea Diamond Does the Med

"We just tied up at Elba, which is the west coast of Italy’s Catalina — although much more developed," reports Capt. Rob Wallace of Cita Litt’s magnificent Newport Beach-based Rhodes 90 motorsailor Sea Diamond. "Elba is a pretty cool place, and I’ve gotta see Naploeon’s house — this is the first place he was exiled — before we leave.

Cita Litt and Sea Diamond are currently in Elba, where Napolean was exiled for the first time. It’s Italy’s Catalina, although much more sophisticated.

Elba Tourism
©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"We have been in Italy for quite awhile now. First San Remo, then Portofino and Rapallo, then La Spezia. We also saw Cinque Terre before spending the last 10 days in Viareggio to fix our balky anchor windlass and install a new AC chiller shipped to us from Marine Air in Florida.

Sea Diamond also stopped at spectacularly romantic — and jammed — Portofino. It’s a shame, but it’s also true, California doesn’t have any chi-chi spots to compare.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Viareggio is the place because all the huge Italian yacht builders are here — Perini Navi, Codecasa, Azimut, Benetti and so forth. It’s amazing to see the huge yards all around us. You can get anything done here, and it’s hardly a quaint Italian village.

Yet another spectacular stop on the Italian Riviera circuit — Vernazza, one of the ‘five cities’. Most of Cinque Terre is only accessible by boat.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"It’s been windy and rough for several days, and today was our first chance to get down here to Elba. We’ll soon be off to Rome for three nights. Cita wants you to know that she’s having a great time!"

We’re pretty sure Cita has a great time wherever she goes.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
It would be easy to assume the worst if you’d heard a 62-year-old windsurfer had been missing on the Bay for more than 13 hours, but Cathy Caton’s rescue Tuesday morning after spending a very long night getting sucked in and out of South San Francisco Bay was a surprisingly happy ending to a potentially deadly story.
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If you took our advice and sailed out to greet the Chilean tall ship Esmeralda yesterday as she entered the Golden Gate, you may have thought she somehow slipped by you unnoticed.