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October 12, 2012

“Conduct Unbecoming a Member of St. Francis YC”

We’ve gotten overwhelming reader response to the Wednesday ‘Lectronic report that San Francisco sailor Todd Tholke has had Energy Team’s AC 45 catamaran ‘arrested’ over a salvage claim. The catamaran apparently broke free of her mooring in San Francisco in the wee hours of the calm night of September 30. Tholke spotted it, got his 14-ft Boston Whaler, and by himself towed the cat to Treasure Island. The French thought a little publicity and a ride on their boat in the World Series would be thanks enough. Tholke’s lawyer says his client is thinking more along the lines of $200,000 or more.

The overwhelming Latitude reader response to Tholke’s $200,000 claim has been outrage. A good number of readers wondered why Tholke didn’t simply contact the Coast Guard, who could have easily contacted the America’s Cup folks or the French team, who were certainly better equipped to effect a safe salvage. A good number of readers said that had they been in Tholke’s shoes, they wouldn’t have dreamed of asking anything for towing the wayward cat to safety, that it was a sailor’s obligation, and that they would have been thrilled for the 15 minutes of fame and a ride on the cat. Many others have said that it would make sense if Tholke were compensated along the lines of what it would have cost Vessel Assist to have towed the cat back to port. Only a couple thought $200,000 was a justifiable claim, and one of them only because he thought the legal battle was going to cost the French about that much.

Who is Todd Tholke? As we reported on Wednesday, some time ago he identified himself to the San Francisco Bay Guardian as a street musician who lives on his sailboat. “I work on the docks and I’ve been living aboard my sailboat for fifteen years,” Tholke told the Guardian. “That’s how I supplement my lifestyle as a songwriter and musician in San Francisco. I live on a boat.”

But Tholke also might be the only San Francisco street musician who is also a member of the venerable St. Francis YC, one of the most revered and celebrated yacht clubs in the world. If you think St. Francis members are pleased that a fellow member is demanding $200,000 for the ‘salvage’ of Energy Team, you’d be wrong. Indeed, a very reliable source at the St. Francis YC has told Latitude that a letter is being composed and will be sent to the flag officers of the club asking that Todd Tholke come before the flag officers for "conduct unbecoming a member of the St. Francis Yacht Club."

To Go Into the Sea or Not?

Most people think of Baja as almost nothing but desert. And it is. But there are exceptions, such as the intense greenery found around Mulege.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

When folks get ready to do the Ha-Ha, they often wonder if they should go up into the Sea of Cortez right after the finish in Cabo, of if they should wait until late spring when the water warms up again.

We think there are two considerations. First, are you still going to be in Mexico in the spring, or will you have departed for Central America or French Polynesia? If it’s the latter, we definitely urge you to at least make the 120-mile dash up to Espiritu Santa and Isla Partida, if not La Paz, too. Unless the Northers have started early, the water will still be warm and you’ll be able to see natural beauty the likes of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

The Sea is a great place for frugal cruisers, as there aren’t many restaurants, and the Sea can be your fish market. Gabby holds up the catch of the day.

©2012 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The second consideration is whether you’re a hard-charging cruiser or a poke-along cruiser. If you’re the former, by all means head up into the Sea right after the end of the Ha-Ha — Northers willing, of course — until the water cools down. If, on the other hand, you like to take things slow, you might head over to the mainland after the Ha-Ha, saving the entire Sea of Cortez for when you head up there in April.

Don’t like fish? Well, how about shellfish? Verdo picked up this meal during his morning swim.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The best months in the Sea are generally May and June, when the water has warmed up but the daytime air temperatures haven’t gotten out of hand.

A little over a year ago, Gabriella and Peter ‘Verdo’ Verdon, who have run big yachts all over the world and who worked for both the Alinghi and Oracle America’s Cup campaigns in Valencia — and are friends of Doña de Mallorca’s from her days on yachts in the Med — sold their home in Queensland and came to California in search of a cruising boat. Much to their surprise, they chose a production boat, a Catalina 42 that had already done one circumnavigation and therefore had much of the cruising gear they were looking for. They christened her Larakin.

You don’t see road signs like this in the States very often. Baja is all about creatures that know how to survive in the desert.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

While Gabby and Verdo can’t wait to get back to remote places in the South Pacific such as the Solomon Islands, after a winter on the Mexican mainland, they headed into the Sea of Cortez and have been loving it. So no matter when you visit the Sea — right after the Ha-Ha or in the spring — don’t miss it.

If there is a place with more colorful sunsets than the Sea, we haven’t been there.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Having received nominations from around the world, the The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and Rolex recently announced the top male and female contenders for their prestigious Sailor of the Year Awards.
The summer sailing season may be coming to a close, but that just means mellow winter sailing on San Francisco Bay is just around the corner!
Seemingly good news for Ha-Ha boats and other early southbound cruisers! Last week we cautioned readers that there may be new Immigration rules in effect for cruisers heading south to Mexico this winter.