June 10, 2013

Petaluma Promenade

Be prepared to stern-tie to the docks in front of the Petaluma YC. Don’t be shy in helping fellow boaters tie up — it will almost certainly be appreciated!

© Alex Pearce

After writing the June issue article espousing the joys of cruising to Petaluma (page 98-99), this writer was challenged by a friend to take her own advice and head up river this weekend. What better way to make sure all the ‘facts’ in ‘Petaluma Promenade’ were accurate? 

Last week we started planning our trip and almost immediately found two errors in the piece. Nowhere to be found on www.VisitPetaluma.com/petaluma-river was the link to the required mooring permit, as we noted on page 99. Search as we might, it was gone. Thankfully, one skipper in our party confirmed we hadn’t hallucinated the permit. "It was there one day, and the next it was gone," he reported. It was just bad timing that the research performed in writing the article was out-of-date just a week after the magazine came out! The good news is that boaters no longer have to complete the longer permit form. Instead, they simply fill out a registration envelope when they arrive at the downtown turning basin. You’ll find them at the head of the ramp near the Petaluma YC.

Aquavit proves that sailing on the Petaluma can be delightful.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The other out-of-date piece of information in the article is the phone number for the D Street Bridge. It’s out of order. If you find yourself making better — or worse — time than you’d anticipated, as we did, call the Public Works number. If it’s after hours or on the weekend, follow the voicemail prompts to send the bridge tender a revised time (minimum of four hours notice, though he’s often on-site on busy weekends).

The scenery in the Turning Basin can’t be beat.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We’re happy to report that the rest of the article’s info is spot on — including the warning not to stray out of the Petaluma River approach channel or you’ll run aground. Ask us how we know! The other shallow spot to be aware of is in the Turning Basin itself. As you pass under the D Street Bridge, you’ll enter a large, deep turning basin, but the preferred dock space is in front of the Petaluma YC, where a shoal extends a good distance from the opposite shore. Keep the hazard buoy to starboard for the best depth.

Petaluma Pete plays for tips on the corner of Petaluma and Western.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Once you’re tied up and registered, enjoy all that this delightful small town has to offer: a wide variety of restaurants, eclectic shopping experiences, movie and music theaters, and so much more. The harbormaster will likely drop off a welcome packet with info and coupons, and you will undoubtedly make new friends with your fellow dockmates. 

A fleet of fun-loving Half Moon Bay sailors also enjoyed a cruise-out to Petaluma this weekend.

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

There is one ‘fact’ stated in the article that is actually dependent on your own attitude, but for us it proved true: "Whether you go in a group or on your own, a trip to Petaluma will be one of the highlights of your summer sailing season."

Peyron Shares Skills & Insights

Although this summer’s America’s Cup activities have seen plenty of bad news and controversy lately, the build-up to AC 34 has also spawned some decidedly upbeat news stories. A case in point was Fred Eagle’s recent report about the legendary Loick Peyron’s outreach to local disabled sailors. 

At the second Awareness Regatta, Loick Peyron lived up to his reputation as a classy guy with a big heart.

© Fred Eagle

As most Latitude readers undoubtedly know, the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS) has long been a shining example of how time spent on the water can have therapeutic effects physically, while brightening the attitudes of disabled participants. 

Peyron, who has adopted the Bay Area as his temporary home while working for Artemis Racing’s Cup campaign, took time off his busy schedule to participate in the Awareness Regatta 2 in late May. Following the lead of Oracle Team USA’s Brian MacInnes and Sam Newton, who participated in the first Awareness Regatta, Peyron ran the course this time against keen BAADS competitors.

Eagle explains, "We rumbled up in Loick’s ‘65 Ford truck just in time for the skipper’s meeting. The dock was already a hive of activity, sailors and volunteers bustled around while the media tried our best to stay out of the way.

"The BAADS were thrilled to see Loick, and he wasted no time rolling up his sleeves and immersing himself into the preparations and dock-out procedure, providing a motivating soundtrack with his signature whistling lilt and occasional percussive chuckle. There was a very comfortable level of focus and organization on shore which maintained the necessary dynamic of seriousness and laughter. No surprises there, efficiency and smoothing out the edges while putting everyone at ease is what Loick does best.

"One by one the sailors departed from the dock with Loick’s assistance, and when the dock was clear he climbed into his boat and headed off to the course."

None of the BAADS sailors were able to beat Peyron around the buoys, but he certainly inspired them, both on and off the course.

That evening, as Eagle reports, "Loick discussed everything from his early days in the Mini-Transat to the Trophee Jules Verne to the AC, and all stops in-between. Topics like family, perseverance, fatigue, ‘the French way’, and even the current climate of sailing in Asia were all addressed with an insouciance and wit exclusive to Mr. Peyron. Throughout the chat, Loick emphasized safety at sea and the importance of preparation and proper training, a hot-button topic for our local sailing community. Hearing the wisdom and insight from his lifetime of sailing experience was an invaluable gift to everyone there."

The evening concluded with the event’s mastermind Fernanda Castelo, leading the crowd in a rollicking round of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow. Nice job, Loick —an inspirational guy if ever there was one. 

Scam Warning

Almost since the Internet was invented, scammers have figured out ways to bilk honest people out of their hard-earned money. Nigerian 419 scams — a Nigerian prince needs you to help him smuggle $20 million out of the country and, in return for the favor, he’ll give you a 30% cut — still end up in our inboxes several times a week, even though anyone with email should know by now that if an offer seems too good to be true, it is. 

Some scammers are more tricky. They prowl online classifieds — such our very own Classy Classifieds — looking for their next victims. "I just received an ‘offer’ on my boat from a guy named Matthew Cole," writes Wayne Hallenbeck, who has his Ranger 26-2 for sale. "I Googled his email address and found several references to fraud with warnings not to reply to him. I’ve stopped communicating with him, but I thought your readers should know."

Wayne Hallenbeck wants to warn folks not to fall for online scammers.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The trouble is that emails from scammers can seem perfectly normal, at first glance. "Hi, I’m interested in your boat. Is it still for sale?" You respond that it is, then the conversation progresses to something such as, "Thanks for your reply back, i will be very happy to buy the boat from you, i have gone through the features and I really liked it, if there is any other maintenance to be done the shipper who are coming for the pickup can sort that out before they deliver it to my son, i want to buy it for my son as a surprise birthday gift for him and i will be paying for the boat in full via cashier check so kindly email me back with your full name, address and contact phone number (home/office/mobile) for an effective communication so that i can send you the payment as soon as possible."

Note that these scam offers are, more often than not, riddled with typos, poor grammar and strange sentence structure, such as the one above. They also want personal info from you. If you agree to sell the boat to them, you might receive an email with a link to Paypal. This is almost certainly not a real link to Paypal, but a fake link that may only look real. Or you may be offered a cashier’s check for an amount larger than the listed price. Or they ask for your bank info so they can transfer the funds to you. Often times the ‘buyer’ is out of town or has some other reason he can’t meet you in person. They will also almost never want to speak with you on the phone.

That’s not to say situations don’t arise where an out-of-town buyer genuinely wants to buy your boat sight-unseen. Just perform your due diligence and don’t ever click links within emails. Always log into banking sites, such as Paypal, by manually navigating to the site. If you get even a whiff of something fishy, quit all communication with the person. Oh, and if you’re in the market for a Ranger 26-2, take a look at Wayne’s ad and shoot him a quick email . . . scammers need not reply!

Brockovich’s Arrest Serves as a Warning

We had to cringe this morning when we read (in SFGate.com) that famous environmental activist Erin Brockovich was arrested Friday for boating while intoxicated. At the time she was attempting to re-dock a powerboat at Lake Mead’s Las Vegas Boat Harbor.

By spotlighting this minor news item we don’t mean to beat up on the famous whistle-blower (who was portrayed on screen in 2000 by Julia Roberts), but to remind you that laws regarding ‘driving’ under the influence are as strict on the water as they are on land. In California, as in many other states, the legal limit, of course, is .08. Brockovich’s breath tests were reportedly twice that limit. 

She admitted she’s had a couple of drinks during the day, but no food. In a statement yesterday she said, "I take drunk driving very seriously. This was clearly a big mistake. I know better and I am very sorry."

It would be disingenuous for us to preach that drinking a few brewskis and boating should never be mixed. But every captain and crew obviously needs to self-impose sensible limits. To do otherwise could be dangerous, or even tragic — particularly in rowdy San Francisco Bay waters. Beside, you never know when someone might blow the whistle on you

Aegea draws 6.5 feet and is looking for a little summer adventure. Aegea
©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC "I’m interested in taking my Sabre 38 MkII Aegea up to Tomales Bay," writes San Francisco’s John Zeratsky.
There are all sorts of fun things to do around the Bay to take advantage of this weekend’s good weather.