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January 11, 2013

Drinking While Singlehanding

The Catalina 36 was nicely fitted out with lifesaving gear, lazyjacks, a dodger, a rollerfurler and more. But when the helmsman falls asleep, none of that helps.

© 2013 Rich Kane

We can’t help feeling a little sorry for Stephen Fryer. But not too sorry. Because the apparent reason that his nicely fitted-out Catalina 36 Why Knot achieved an unplanned ‘haulout’ on a popular stretch of Laguna Beach last Sunday was that he was allegedly intoxicated. Of all the ways a sailor might earn his 15 minutes of fame, this has got to be one of the more embarrassing. But at least no one was hurt.

According to various Southern California sources, Fryer, 47, was singlehanding to Catalina from his San Diego homeport, when he fell asleep. Apparently he was motorsailing, but it is not clear whether or not he was using an autopilot. In any case, drinking while singlehanding offshore, even on a short crossing like that one, is never a great idea.

Conditions were mild when Why Knot went up on Laguna Beach on Sunday, much to the puzzlement of onlookers.

© 2013 Webb Logg

Not only has Fryer been charged with a BUI (boating under the influence), but because he couldn’t afford the $9,000 bill to cover the hazmat cost of removing the fuel from his boat, he was forced to transfer ownership to the city of Laguna Beach — no doubt that’s just what that affluent city needed.

According to authorities, Fryer refused to leave the stricken Why Knot until ‘encouraged’ to do so by rescuers.

© 2013 Don Leach / Coastline Pilot

According to the Insurance Information Institute, over half of all boating accidents involve alcohol or drugs, and alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. The U.S. Guard reports that BUI incidents increase boating fatalities by approximately 34% percent. Sobering statistics. It would be disingenuous for us to say that boating and brewskis should never go together, but if you’re going to drink while on the water, please be sensible. Otherwise the consequences could be disastrous.

Delta Doo Dah DIY

In the summer of 2009, the crews of 30 or so Bay Area boats joined in the inaugural Delta Doo Dah, a laid-back Bay-to-Delta ‘rally’ we dreamed up over a bottle of champagne at the company Christmas party. The idea was to get folks sailing in their own backyard, and it worked better than we’d hoped.

Sailing up to the Delta in the summer is nearly always a downwind delight. Sailing in company with friends is even better.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The next three Doo Dahs grew in size and scope, taking participants to a variety of destinations in every corner of the Delta. More than 100 boats and upward of 300 sailors have enjoyed escaping San Francisco Bay’s bitterly cold summer winds for some delightfully warm downwind sailing up-Delta.

The one downside about the event that always bothered us was that we were forced to limit the fleet to 50 boats. While the Delta itself might be large, its marinas and anchorages aren’t. Every year, our waiting list grew and grew with folks wanting to join in the fun, yet we had to turn them away.

There’s no better way to cool off in the hot Delta sun than by taking a flying leap.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

So this year, as we do every year, we’re playing fast and loose with the structure of the event. Instead of restricting the entry list to just 50 boats and telling them when they have to leave, anyone can join and they can go whenever they want. There will be no formal itinerary, no limit on fleet size and, best of all, no entry fee!

We’ve dubbed this year’s event the Delta Doo Dah DIY, and we’ll have more details as the year progresses, but we can share that we’re planning a Kick-Off/Meet & Greet Party for May and a Reunion Party in the fall. Officially, the window of opportunity for enjoying the sizzling pleasures of the Delta will be May 24-September 9, but if you’re off by a few days — or even a few weeks — we won’t mind. So long as everyone has a fantastic time, it’s all good. We plan to collect your photos and stories for a feature in the October issue of Latitude 38, and our deadline for contributions will be September 9.

But the best part is the deep sense of relaxation that comes from cruising your own backyard.

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Registration for the event, which will get you listed on the website and eligible for discounts from Delta businesses, will start April 8 around noon and will end on August 30. Official swag will also be available for purchase. The Doo Dah forum will be the go-to spot for anyone seeking info on all things Delta, from anchoring tips to hot fishing holes to the best restaurants. It’s also a great place to coordinate with friends — and future friends — to cruise upriver in company.

Race and Event Preview

Meet the Race Chair: TYC’s Ian Matthew is pictured here at the wheel of his C&C 29 Siento el Viento. Dave, Jeff, Donna and Pat are among the crew.


Tiburon YC begins their three-race midwinter series this Saturday. It continues on the second Saturdays in February and March. Racing at TYC is generally low-key and inexpensive, but North Bay conditions can be challenging. See

Berkeley YC and RegattPRO continue their series this weekend on the Berkeley Circle. Hopefully they’ll be far enough apart tomorrow to avoid the confusion that happened last month. Island YC‘s Island Days on the Estuary, Santa Cruz YC‘s Winter Laser series and Lake Merritt Sailing Club’s Robinson Memorial Midwinters continue on Sunday. Oakland’s LMSC doesn’t have a website, so call Commodore Jackie Kearney at (510) 582-1048 if you’re interested. Richmond YC will host the Little Daddy Regatta/NorCal #9 for high school teams on Saturday.

With a high pressure system building over our coast, the National Weather Service is expecting light, variable winds and sunshine this weekend. You can pick your own resources for conditions from our Links page.

Looking at events a bit further in the future, we see that Corinthian YC requests entries for their midwinter series — which begins on January 19-20 and concludes on February 16-17 — by Thursday, January 17.

The Singlehanded Sailing Society invites you to register for the 2013 Three Bridge Fiasco Race, scheduled for Saturday, January 26, off Golden Gate YC. "Please join us at Oakland YC for the Skippers Meeting on Wednesday, January 23, at 7:30 p.m.," reads today’s email reminder. "January 23 is the last day to register." See

Sailing reporter Paige Brooks crossed the Three Bridge Fiasco off her ‘bucket list’ last year, crewing for Jonathan ‘Bird’ Livingston, seen here at the helm of his Wylie 38.

© Paige Brooks

Quantum Key West Race Week is coming soon on January 20-25. Who’s going from the West Coast? Since we’ll only be sailing vicariously, so we’d love to hear about it.

Southern California Yachting Association’s Women’s Sailing Convention will be held at Bahia Corinthian YC in Corona del Mar on February 2. They encourage you to sign up early, as space is limited.

Space is also limited for sailmaker Kame Richards’ popular seminar, How the Tides Work for You, at the Bay Model in Sausalito. These always fill up! So even though they’re not until February 19 and 23, we encourage you to reserve your space early. RSVP to Jim Tantillo at (408) 263-7877 or email him. The Bay Model itself is a ‘must-see’ for San Francisco Bay Area sailors.

You can find these events and much more in our Calendar online or in Latitude 38.

The Big Chill

If you’re a sailor in the northern hemisphere, you’re probably freezing your buns off. For example, today’s high in Seattle is 39 and the low will be 27. It’s a small consolation to those folks that by some calculations the previous 12 months have been the warmest year in history. In the City by the Bay, the numbers are a relatively balmy 54 and 39. So why not bundle up and go sailing this weekend!

The colors of winter at Punta Mita, Mexico, which has been an unusually popular anchorage this winter. With nothing particular going on, there were 34 boats – 27 of them sailboats – anchored here a few nights back.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Down here on Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit — where, by the way, tourism was way up over the holidays compared to the previous year — today’s high is expected to be 83 with the low a bone-chilling 64. People are actually using a sheet to cover themselves at night. If that’s not bad enough, the upcoming week should feature highs of just 77 and 78. Oddly enough, the ocean temp is still around 78. No wetsuits in sight.

Those of you up in the States might mock cruisers for moaning about highs in the low 80s — but folks in the tropics aren’t used to such cold. We’re suffering here in Puerto Vallarta. Indeed, some cruisers are talking about heading further south to thaw out. Zihua, for example, is expecting highs of 85 and lows of 70 during the next week. Lucky buggers.

Meanwhile, the trade winds have been blowing the dogs off their chains in the Caribbean, according to John and Lynn Ringseis of Novato, who are currently cruising aboard their British Virgin Islands-based Leopard 43 catamaran Moonshine. But that’s the norm for this time of year. Caribbean vets know that mid-February to June is when the Caribbean sailing conditions are most delightful. Today’s high there is expected to be 81 with a low of 77. Next week they are calling for a high of 79 and a low of 77. It’s hard to believe there can be so little difference between the daily highs and daily lows.

The Caribbean, of course, is where the biggest boats go to play in the winter. Lynn, who shot a recent Latitude cover, took bow-on and transom-on photos of two of the biggest boats of their type as they were rafted together in Virgin Gorda’s North Sound.  

Hemisphere, the biggest cat in the world, is 145 feet long. Maltese Falcon, which was built for Tom Perkins of Belvedere and San Francisco, is 289 feet long. With ‘only’ 42 feet of beam, she is 12 feet narrower than Hemisphere.

© 2013 Lynn Ringseis
Biiiiiig, aren’t they? Care to guess what the charter fee is for each one?

© 2013 Lynn Ringseis

The nice thing is that no matter how small or humble your boats is, the air temp is the same as on the biggest and most expensive yachts.

For three long days, Bernard Stamm has been running his IMOCA 60 Cheminées Poujoulat on emergency energy rations after a UFO disabled both of his hydrogenerators.
Giovanni Soldini broke his first international sailing record at 23. But despite a lifetime of achievements he’s probably most famous for rescuing Isabelle Autissier in the Southern Ocean during the 1998-99 Around Alone race.