August 14, 2013

Biting the Hand That Feeds You?

The construction of James ‘Hot Rod’ Lane’s 65-ft catamaran Flyin’ Hawaiian was one of the more bizarre efforts in the annals of Bay Area boatbuilding — right alongside Tin Can and Plastiki. But the boat’s story recently became even more bizarre.

As reported in the July edition of Latitude 38, Lane, 52, and his son Michael Johnson, 28, completed the exhaustive three-year construction project on the grounds of San Rafael’s Loch Lomond Marina in late May. Much to the surprise of the project’s many detractors, the massive home-designed-and-built cat floated nicely on her lines when launched, earning the father-son team a measure of respect from casual observers of the build. Some of them had been certain the plywood-and-two-by-four-constructed vessel would break apart as soon as it hit the water.

But euphoria over the successful launch faded shortly after the pair finally left the shelter of the quiet North Bay marina. After being towed by the marina’s launch to an open-water anchorage near the Marin Islands, the engineless cat eventually dragged anchor (or drifted during a practice sail) into the an area of rocky outcroppings along the North Marin shoreline called The Sisters. Quickly responding to Lane’s mayday, Coast Guard assets kept the unwieldy cat from being destroyed on the rocks and towed her to an open roadstead off McNear’s Beach. A few days later she turned up in shoal waters south of the San Rafael Channel, apparently aground, about a mile from Loch Lomand Marina facilities.

Monday, Lane reportedly became enraged at Harbormaster Pat Lopez, because his marina gate/head keys had been deactivated, and he was informed that marina personnel could not offer him any further assistance. The argument escalated into a knock-down tussle, during which Lane bit into Lopez’ thumb, lacerating it "almost to the bone" (according to the Marin IJ). A bystander broke up the fight, and police soon arrived. While Lopez went to the hospital for stitches, Lane was taken to jail after police ran his stats and found a failure-to-appear warrant concerning a vehicular issue. He is currently being held on $11,000 bail, while felony assault charges are being considered by the Marin County DA.

As if the basic facts of this story are not troubling enough, it should be noted that Lopez, known for being fair-minded and big-hearted — especially for a harbormaster — bent over backwards to help Lane and Johnson throughout their three-year residency. They had previously been turned away from the only other build sites with launch ramps wide enough to accommodate the Flyin’ Hawaiian. As Oscar Wilde once said, "No good deed goes unpunished."  

Boater Rescues Dog from Bay

Did your dog fall overboard? Adam Cohen pulled this black lab-pit bull mix from San Francisco Bay on his way home from work on Monday.

© 2013 Adam Cohen

Imagine scooting across the Bay on your windsurfer and spotting a pooch swimming around a couple miles from shore. That’s what happened Monday afternoon when a gaggle of windsurfers helped keep said pup afloat until Berkeley’s Adam Cohen came along to offer assistance. 

Five windsurfers miraculously spotted the dog a couple miles off Berkeley and kept her afloat.

© Adam Cohen

Cohen told the Chronicle he was commuting home in his 22-ft inflatable when he saw five downed windsurfers. Thinking they might be in trouble, he headed their way only to find them trying to keep the dog on one of their boards while asking the Coast Guard to come rescue her. He brought the shivering canine aboard and took her to his home, where she recovered quickly from her ordeal.

Who says only cats have nine lives?

© 2013 Adam Cohen

At last word, Cohen had plans to take the lucky dog to the Humane Society to see if she had a microchip, but his wife had already fallen in love. Lucky dog, indeed!

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