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June 28, 2013

July Latitude Out Early

Hold on tight, you’re in for a wild ride this month!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As a special weekend treat for our readers, we’re distributing the July issue of Latitude 38 today rather than wait until Monday, July 1. Many boaters will be celebrating the 4th of July this weekend so the timing couldn’t be better. Inside the still-damp pages you’ll find recaps on the grand Master Mariners Regatta and the inaugural Made in Santa Cruz Race Week, a preview of July’s TransPac Race (with a few predictions thrown in), an SSB primer and an America’s Cup Viewer’s Guide. As usual, it’s also packed with all sorts of other fascinating news.

If you’re planning to go out on the water this weekend, double check all your safety gear and leave the beer in the cooler.

© Jim Cahill

If you’re one of the many sailors planning a sailing trip this weekend, be aware that law enforcement agencies nationwide will be teaming up for Operation Dry Water, a coordinated effort to crack down on those who drink and boat that starts today and runs through Sunday. Last year’s effort yielded 337 BUI citations and nearly 15,000 safety citations and/or warnings. Do yourself a solid by making sure you have up-to-date registration tags, plenty of PFDs, flares and so on — and make sure the skipper leaves the beer in the cooler until the boat is safely tied up or anchored!

Blind Sailor’s Boat Sunk

Hiro Iwamoto (left) tries to hold it together at a news conference. He and sighted crewmember Jiro Shinbou were rescued from a liferaft after their Bristol Channel Cutter hit a large piece of flotsam 800 miles off Japan and sank.

© The Japan Times

Mitsuhiro ‘Hiro’ Iwamoto, a 46-year-old totally blind sailor, set out from Fukushima bound for San Diego on June 16 on a voyage to bring awareness to tsunami victims and to support local schools. Iwamoto was sailing with a sighted crewmember, 57-year-old newscaster Jiro Shinbou, aboard his Bristol Channel Cutter Aeolus about 800 miles off Honshu on June 21 when the boat made contact with what appears to be a gigantic piece of flotsam. The video below shows the moment of impact and a large pointy object can be seen directly in the boat’s path. If you watch carefully at the end, you can also see a large shadow in the water next to the boat after the collision. There’s been no official word what Aeolus hit, but it doesn’t appear to be a whale.

When Aeolus began taking on water, Shinbou requested assistance. Within minutes, he called their shore team to let them know "Flooding water is greater than they can pump out. They have to abandon Aeolus and move to a liferaft in order to survive. Both are in good condition with no injury." Two attempts were made by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force to reach the pair before they were finally plucked from the raft and taken back to Japan. They were uninjured but Aeolus sank. You can read more about Hiro and his mission at his website.

Let’s Go to Croatia!

Sailor David Hammer has a predicament.  He’s set to do a week’s yacht charter in Croatia soon aboard a Leopard 40 cat. But a key crewman had to drop out — and that guy was the only crew that holds a ASA 104 certificate, a requirement of the charter company (unless someone has an ICC document).

Frequent charterer David Hammer has room for a new friend aboard a big cat in Croatia next month. This shot is from his recent trip to Belize.

© Courtesy David Hammer

We wouldn’t normally get involved in a problem like this, but since David was nice enough to write an article for us recently, we agreed to do a shout-out to our readership.

"I have a contract to charter a Leopard 40 out of Split, Croatia from July 6-13," explains David. "As you know from my article in June edition of Latitude, I have chartered before and I have been sailing and racing for 50 years. But I do not have an ICC license or ASA 104 certificate, one of which is required for chartering in Europe. So I desperately need a crew with an ASA 104 or ICC to  join my friends and I on our charter. Expenses shared. At this time there is a young American couple, and a young female Italian doctor, and myself. We have an empty cabin."

If you’ve got an itch to travel, and the spirit to be spontaneous, write David here or give him a call: (530) 623-5418.

Classic Yacht Long Overdue

Friends and authorities are beginning to fear the worst for the seven sailors aboard the classic 70-ft American staysail schooner Nina, as the vessel hasn’t been heard from since June 3. Those aboard included owner David Dyche III, 58, and his wife Rosemary, 60, both of Panama City, Florida; their 17-year-old son David; Evi Nemeth, 73, of Colorado; an unidentified 28-year old American male; an unidentified 18-year old American female; and a 35-year old British male.

Dyche, a commercial ship captain, has owned the schooner for more than 25 years, and has successfully cruised her and raced her from the East Coast to Turkey to many places in the Caribbean. He was fully aware of the rough weather that sailors often encounter on the way between New Zealand and Australia. In Dyche’s last Facebook posting on May 29, he wrote, "The Tasman Sea is shooting gales out like a machine gun, living up to its reputation. We are shooting at leaving out after the first one this week. No doubt we will be dancing with one or two of them.”

The historic schooner Nina is believed to have sunk.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The famed schooner left New Zealand’s Bay of Islands on May 29 bound for Newcastle, Australia. On June 3, when Nina was 360 miles northwest of Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand, she contacted respected Kiwi meteorologist Bob McDavitt, reported rough conditions, and asked for advice on how to get out of it. McDavitt, who says that nobody sounded distressed on the boat, advised them to head south and prepare to be hit by winds to 60 knots and 20-ft seas. These are heavy weather conditions, but certainly the schooner had ridden out as bad or worse.

Despite attempts to contact Nina the following day, McDavitt got no response. It wasn’t until June 14 that New Zealand Rescue Services learned the boat was overdue. Since then they have conducted what has been described as their most intensive search ever. But nothing has been found.

Nina, a narrow schooner with long overhangs, was designed by the famed Starling Burgess and built by Ruben Bigelow on Monument Beach in Cape Cod in 1928. She was built expressly to win the 3,900-mile race from New York to Santander, Spain. And she did. When she arrived in Santander, a launch pulled alongside and a gentleman waved his cap and shouted, "Well sailed, Nina, I congratulate you. I am the King of Spain."

Nina continued on to England where she became the first American vessel to win the prestigious 600-mile Fastnet Race. She then won the London to Chesapeake Bay Race, after which her owner got involved in the America’s Cup. She was purchased and much loved by a New York banker, and was an extremely successful on the race course before and after World War II. After several more owners and being donated to the King’s Point, she was purchased by Dyche in 1989. After successful racing in the Northeast and the Caribbean, he cruised her as far east as Turkey and as far south as Grenada.

In 2008, the Dyche family started making a circumnavigation with the schooner, and a documentary, intending to finish it prior to their son’s entering college.

While nobody knows what happened to Nina, several maritime rescue experts have speculated that the 84-year-old wood boat suffered a catastrophic failure, one that for some reason left the crew unable to set off the vessel’s EPIRB.

When we first started publishing Latitude more than 35 years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for several cruising boats to go missing in the South Pacific each year. Thanks to sophisticated EPIRBs and greatly increased SSB nets around the world, such unexplained disappearances have become rare.


Yann Elies sailed his Beneteau Figaro II Groupe Queguiner to his second consecutive victory in the Solitaire du Figaro.
Marin County’s Paul Cayard, CEO of Artemis Racing, shared some interesting opinions on the 34th America’s Cup with Tom FitzGerald in last Friday’s SF Chronicle.