October 28, 2011

USS Iowa Leaves Ghost Fleet

After a decade of sitting idle in Suisun Bay, the USS Iowa is underway to become a museum — the last of her class to receive such an honor.

© 2011 Goose Gossman

For a decade, the USS Iowa has languished away as the largest and most prestigious member of the Navy’s "reserve fleet" — a.k.a, the mothball fleet — in Suisun Bay. Towed to the Bay Area from Rhode Island in ’01 in hopes of turning her into an attraction at Fisherman’s Wharf, an ’03 ‘no’ vote by the San Francisco supervisors left her future murky. But yesterday the 887-ft behemoth took her first steps toward becoming a permanent interactive museum and memorial to battleships.

In September, the Navy announced it had donated the WWII veteran to Los Angeles’ Pacific Battleship Center, which beat out Vallejo in a bid to restore the craft and turn her into a museum. Several tugs were on hand yesterday to guide Iowa as far as Benicia. Today, the trip will continue to Richmond, where she will spend the next few months undergoing a refit for the trip south.

Moving the beast took several tugs and impeccable timing — they had to wait for an extremely high tide to provide the depth. On top of all that, she had to slide under a bridge that didn’t exist when she was relegated to the ghost fleet.

© 2011 Goose Gossman

Jim ‘Goose’ Gossman was on the scene aboard his West Wight Potter 14 Gale. "There were only a few boats out and a couple of helicopters," he said. "The Iowa is huge! And those tug boat captains are really good. It was flooding like crazy, but winds were light. We even got in a little sailing. Hanging with the Potter Yachters out of Richmond on Saturday, so we should get another look at the big bruiser."

The Iowa underway is definitely a rare photo op.

© 2011 Mike Koller

If you can sneak out of work early today, be sure to keep an eye out for Iowa‘s transit to Richmond. And don’t forget your camera!

Ha-Ha Fleet Relaxes in Turtle Bay

The Alameda-based Tayana 47 Oceanaire was looking good flying twin blue headsails on the approach to Turtle Bay.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Over the past two days, the Baja Ha-Ha XVIII fleet arrived at the small fishing town of Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay), where they received an exceedingly warm welcome from the local population, as is always the case.

The San Pedro-based Irwin 41 Heart 2 Heart screams into the bay against the backdrop of weather-worn hillsides.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Yesterday was a day of fun and relaxation, the highlight being a three-hour all-generations baseball game where local kids joined in. Typically, the number of errors far outweighed the number of legitimate hits, but there was no doubt that all who participated had a rollicking good time. The best hit of the day was a powerful line drive over the infield by David Kane of the Seattle, WA-based Atlantic 42 cat Lightspeed, who sped to an inside-the-park home run.

With softballs lobbed gently, just about everyone was a hitter – and due to an abundance of errors, many went on to score.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
A hopeful runner gets squeezed at third. 

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
At the end of the game several bags of gear that was carried down by cruisers was distributed to local players.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Afterward, many fleet members attended a fiesta in the town plaza, before the annual evening party at the town’s largest restaurant, the Vera Cruz.

As we took stock of the fleet’s minor mechanical problems and sailing accomplishments, it was learned that at least 31 boats sailed the entire course of Leg One after the ‘rolling start’ was terminated at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning. They are: Panache, Saltbreaker, Time Piece, Sail Time, Camanoe, San Frontieres, Hasta Luego, Comanera, Sea Reach, Huck, About Time II, Azure Te’, Convivia, Windara, Sea Angel, Frannie B, Island Wind, Liberation II, Knot Tide Down, Last Resort, Koh-Ring, Talion, Tabu, Drei, The Islander, Cat 2 Fold, Damiana, Sail Potion, Lightspeed, Double Diamond, and Orcinius, L’Obession.

As in years past, this final day of R&R in Turtle Bay will be dedicated to a beach party on the long sandy crescent a mile east of town. In addition to volleyball and other beach games, we’ll have a massive potluck, with many successful fishermen sharing their catches on the fleet barbecues. Leg Two begins outside the bay at 8 a.m. tomorrow (October 29).

U.S. Team Earns Six Medals in PV

With the Pan American Games being hosted by Guadalajara — Mexico’s “second city” — the sailing events were based out of Nuevo Vallarta last week. Team USA’s sailors wrapped up the regatta at the Vallarta Yacht Club on Sunday, grabbing six medals in nine classes on their way home: silvers in the J/24, Lightning, Snipe and Sunfish, and bronzes in the Laser Radial and women’s Windsurfing classes.

The sailing was very competitive in the Pan Am Games.

© Ibis De Teresa / Puerto Vallarta YC

Among the U.S. silver medalists was the Lightning team of skipper Jody Lutz with crew Jay Lutz and Derek Gauger. The team was fifth in Sunday’s medal race, which put them six points back of gold medalist Chile. While he was disappointed to not bring home the gold, Jody Lutz said he enjoyed his Pan Am Games experience.

“It was such an opportunity to represent the U.S.,” he said. “It was something that us ‘old guys’ don’t get a chance to do very often. The class that we sail, the Lightning, is not in the Olympics, so this is our Olympics.

In addition to the Lightning team, the following U.S. sailors also earned silver medals: J/24 — John Mollicone, Geoff Becker, Daniel Rabin, and Paul Abdullah; Snipe — Augie Diaz, Kathleen Tocke; Sunfish — Paul Foerester. Bronze medals went to: Laser Radial — Paige Railey; RS:X Women Farrah Hall. In the other three events, Hobie 16s, Lasers and RS:X Men, American sailors took sixth, sixth, and seventh respectively.

Cruisers got in on the action, too.

© 2011 Ibis De Teresa / Puerto Vallarta YC

“A lot of these athletes don’t get to necessarily compete at the Olympic level, but the overall level of world-class sailing was definitely shown here by the Americans,” said U.S. Sailing team leader Dave Johnson. “Our sailors were able to perform, and it’s pretty exciting to see that.”

First Singlehanded TransPac Seminar

We’re embarrassed at having forgotten to post a reminder in Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic that the first seminar for the 2012 Singlehanded TransPac was held last night at Oakland YC. The discussion focused on a brief recap of the race rules, followed by five vets sharing their experiences sailing in the 2,120-mile race from San Francisco Bay to Hanalei Bay, Kauai. Ben Mewes, Bob Johnston, Paul Nielsen, Ruben Gabriel, and Race Chair Rob Tryon each spoke about their motivations in joining this "bug light for weirdos" race, what problems they experienced — from electrical failure to a dismasting — and, more importantly, how they overcame them. Eleven hopefuls stood up to announce their intention to enter the bienniel event, though we suspect many more weren’t able to make the meeting. In fact, Tryon believes that next year’s fleet will top 20 boats.

If you’d like to find out more about the race, check out last year’s website and the August ’10 issue of Latitude for our article on the event. Tryon says the ’12 site will be up shortly, but in the meantime, the RRCs, NOR and seminar schedule can be found at www.sfbaysss.org. The entry forms will be available early next week. Be sure to mark your calendar for the next seminar, Power Management and Generation, which will be held November 16 at Oakland YC (7 p.m.). All seminars on the schedule are free and open to the public.

Great Pumpkin Regatta Gets Going Tonight

What’s the most telling thing about the popularity of the Richmond YC’s Great Pumpkin Regatta? The fact that there’s nothing else on the schedule this weekend. With three buoy races tomorrow, followed by one of the best regatta parties of the year later that evening, and a relaxed choose-your-own-adventure pursuit race around Alcatraz and Angel Islands on Sunday, the Pumpkin is the perfect coda to the summer racing schedule.

Click on the poster for the regatta website.

Richmond YC
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Tomorrow night’s dinner will be “roast beef with all the fixin’s” and will be followed by live music courtesy of Open Road, which will be playing “laid back country soul to blistering rock & roll.” Don’t forget to wear a costume because there’s a contest to determine the best one. But those aren’t the only shoreside activities for the weekend. Tonight there’s pumpkin carving for the kids and a pasta feed for the family — regular dinner can be had upstairs too — and an RYC Foundation gear sale on the club’s front lawn that will continue in the morning on both days.

Free coffee and pastries, and $5 Bloody Mary’s get the party started at 8 a.m. tomorrow, leaving plenty of time to make make the 11:30 a.m. start. Then, on  Sunday morning, there’s a Breakfast Burrito bar to help you absolve — or absorb, as the case may be —  your Saturday night sins. The theme for this year is: “Dead Head Great Pumpkin,” so be sure to tune in and turn out; you won’t want to miss it.

The conditions couldn’t be any more perfect for the fleet of the Baja Ha-Ha 18, says the Grand Poobah.