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September 10, 2012

SoCal Ta-Ta Takes Off

Three of the dreadies warm up for the Ta-Ta.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Hey dreadies! The sun be out and the fleet be ready to Latitude‘s first-ever SoCal Ta-Ta, the ‘Reggae pon de Ocean’ event. Thanks to Jah, the sun be up — put your darkers on — and the weather is looking perfect for the first leg, which is Santa Babylon to Santa Cruz Island, followed by legs to Paradise Cove, King Harbor, and Two Harbors, Catalina. Irie! Enough to make you skin your teeth.

From dreads to toes, the fleet has the rasta spirit.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Ninety-three bredda and sistren from 33 boats showed up for the Skipper’s Meeting and Party yesterday afternoon at the Harbor Restaurant on Stearns Wharf. White tablecloths? Kiss me neck! It was a good ting that no more showed up, because there were no more seats. Good ting no more boats either, because no more berths in the Santa Babylon Marina. But all was cook and curry.

The photo of couple is Mike Pyzel of the Santa Barbara-based Cal 28+ Caballo Blanco and his sweetie Lani Cordero.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Jah plans good weather for today, light in the morning, 10 to 15 knots in the afternoon. We be jammin’, Jah know! Tonight and tomorrow the fleet anchors at Smuggler’s at Santa Cruz Island. Should be cool runnings. Thanks to dreadie Mike Pyzel, who has sailed between Santa Babylon to Santa Cruz Island 700-plus time, the fleet will get good anchoring advice. Thanks to the absence of a south swell, beach landings could be easy. Praise Jah!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Sweeter Deal for Marine Sanctuary

A boundary revision proposal is in the works for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The adjustment would add a 100-square mile area to the sanctuary that was left out when the sanctuary was designated in 1992. The area is known as the “doughnut hole” and includes the urban waters of San Francisco including San Francisco Bay, Daly City and Pacifica. The “hole” was at the time incompatible with sanctuary regulations due to untreated sewage and discharge issues, and so excluded from sanctuary designation. That’s all changed now thanks to the positive effects of environmental regulations that have significantly improved water and sediment quality and brought the “hole” into compliance with sanctuary regulation.

The San Francisco-Pacifica Exclusion Area, aka ‘The Donut Hole’.

© Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

Several species of marine mammals, including harbor porpoises, pelagic fish and seabirds have returned to the area, and local research organizations have asked that these waters be considered for inclusion into the sanctuary to afford greater protection for this habitat. NOAA’s next public scoping meeting to discuss the boundary adjustment is September 12 at the Pacifica Community Center Card Room (540 Crespi Drive, Pacifica) from 6-8 p.m.

David McGuire, marine cinematographer and director/founder of the Marin-based Shark Stewards encourages people get out to support the proposal. “Any level of marine protection is good and expanding the boundaries of our national marine sanctuaries helps maintain the balance of our national marine treasures. This closes the loophole and raises awareness as to the importance of our sanctuaries and the life in them.” 

David McGuire can’t see any reason for opposition to the proposal.

© Shark Stewards

McGuire doesn’t anticipate any serious opposition given that most of the “hole” is not an area that’s fished much due to its proximity to the beach and can be fairly dangerous for boaters. Besides, the only thing you can’t do in a national marine sanctuary is drill for oil (unless mandated by Congress) or bottom drag. 

“Unfortunately it doesn’t really impact fisheries so there’s no reason for the fishing community to oppose it and it’s also not something that will affect the sailing community,” McGuire said.

Public comments on the boundary proposal will be accepted at Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary’s office through October 10, at, Federal eRulemaking Portal with Docket Number NOAA-NOS-2012-0153; or snail mail to Maria Brown, Superintendent, GFNMS, 991 Marine Drive, Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129.


Bela Bartok Recovery Talk

In this summer’s running of the Singlehanded TransPac from San Francisco to Kauai, Derk Wolmuth of the B.C.-based Vindo 40 Bela Bartok abandoned his boat — his home — when a staph infection turned septic. Fellow racers hatched a plan to recover Bela, and Ruben Gabriel and Ronnie Simpson volunteered to do the deed. We covered the story in the August issue of Latitude 38 but, due to space limitations, were forced to omit many of the details of the Dynamic Duo’s successful mission. On Wednesday, sailors can hear their firsthand account of Bela‘s recovery at St. Francis YC’s weekly Yachting Luncheon

Ronnie Simpson (l) and Ruben Gabriel will be talking on this summer’s recovery of Bela Bartok on Wednesday.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"We’ve put together a really terrific video from GoPro footage of the entire thing, from our boarding the boat to into Honolulu," says Gabriel. The luncheon, which is open to members of any PICYA yacht club, starts at 11:45 a.m. and costs about $25. The presentation will start around 12:30 p.m. and run for about an hour. 

The pair have had their own share of at-sea disasters — Ruben lost his mast during the ’08 edition of the race and sailed 680 miles under jury rig to Hanalei; Ronnie lost his first boat on his first ocean crossing in ’08, and during his return trip from the ’10 race lost his keel, sailing 800 miles (yes, without a keel) to San Francisco — so their perspective is unique and undoubtedly worth hearing.

UPDATE (9/11): Having just arrived in Seattle from a yacht delivery from Hawaii, Simpson will unfortunately not be able to make the presentation but Gabriel has put together a fantastic talk you don’t want to miss.

Dad Arrested, Kids Home, Boat Returned

It’s almost always better to think long-term rather than short-term. Someone should have told Christopher Maffei that. But it appears that Maffei allowed emotions to run ramshackle over reason when he allegedly snatched his two toddlers — Brooklynn, 3, and Devin, 2 — from their mother’s home, stole a Hunter 41 from Ballena Isle Marina, and tried to make his escape down the coast last week. The Coast Guard intercepted Unleashed off Monterey on Friday just before dark, arresting Maffei and taking the children to their mother, who had admitted barring Maffei from visiting the kids.

Instead of going through proper — if undoubtedly longer and possibly more frustrating — channels to gain legal visitation and/or custody, Maffei appears to have gone with short-term thinking. Now sitting in jail for kidnapping, child endangerment and parental kidnapping, with bail set at $200,000, he not only faces more jail time, but no time at all with his kids (family courts generally don’t look kindly on kidnapping parents when considering visitation rights).

What really baffled us — along with everyone else, it appears — is why Maffei apparently stole a sailboat as his getaway vehicle. As noted Don Durant of Club Nautique, with whom the boat was in charter, sailboats are neither fast, nor are they very easy to hide. 

Unleashed was returned to her slip this morning by delivery crew Gary Scheier, Colin Williams and Dwayne Sullivan. “There were princess stickers in the aft cabin,” says Club Nautique’s Marianne Armand, “so it seems the kids were enjoying the ride!”

© Marianne Armand
The hailing port was removed from the transom, and the vinyl portions of the boat’s name were also missing but the painted shadow remains.

© Marianne Armand

Be that as it may, Maffei would hardly be the first father to take off with the kids in a sailboat. In fact, today’s Latitude Quiz of the Day question is which ‘A List’ Hollywood star defied a judge’s orders by grabbing his kids and taking off across the Pacific? For bonus points, how was he able to get away with it, and what happened to him as a result of his actions? 

"Please enjoy the attached video of our Franchman Alain Thébault‘s 60-ft foiler l’Hydroptère, the latest flying speed freak on the San Francisco Bay," writes Fredrik Hakanson.