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January 13, 2014

Share Your Alaska Eagle Memories

No boat we know of has done more to introduce would-be offshore sailors to the rigors of blue-water sailing.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We felt a bit sad after learning that the longtime flagship of the Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship, Alaska Eagle, had been sold, and will soon return to her Dutch roots. But we’re probably not nearly as sad as the roughly 3,000 sailors who honed their offshore sailing skills aboard her during three decades of blue-water voyaging. 

We know from the many first-hand reports we’ve received over the years that participating in those voyages gave ‘student’-sailors both the skill sets and self-confidence to later cruise the world on their own boats. If you count yourself among those lucky passage-makers, we’d love to have you share some of the highlights of your days aboard Eagle.

This AE file photo shows celestial navigation practice during an all-women cruise back from Hawaii.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As offshore racing buffs will recall, this custom S&S 65 first came to international prominence in 1978, when she won the second Whitbread Round the World Race (’77-’78), then named Flyer. After the S&S-designed Sayula won the first Whitbread (’73-’74), Dutch businessman ‘Conny’ van Rietschoten, a virtual unknown in international racing, commissioned S&S to design him a yacht capable of safely completing and winning the Whitbread. Flyer was built of aluminum at the Netherlands’ renowned Royal Huisman Shipyard, with no expense spared.

That race, which Flyer eventually won, marked the end of the era when race boats actually had relatively comfortable accommodations and interior amenities. The boat competed in the next Whitbread under the name Alaska Eagle, then owned by Alaskan businessman Neil Bergt. She was the first American entry in the Whitbread (the precursor to the Volvo Ocean Race and others), finishing a respectable 9th out of 29 entries. But Bergt could see that she would no longer be truly competitive against newer speed machines, so he made the decision to to donate her to the U.S. Naval Academy. Before that happened, however, watch captain Mike Farley (an Orange Coast alum) alerted his friend Dave Grant of OCC. Grant made repeated pleas to Bergt to steer the donation to OCC, and to his amazement, he did. It was quite a coup. 

Since then, she has logged nearly 300,000 miles, zig-zagging all over the Pacific Basin and elsewhere, making exotic landfalls at places such as Tahiti, Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia. 

Alaska Eagle was sold earlier this month to Dutchman Diederik Nolten for $350,000.

When Alaska Eagle did the Baja Ha-Ha in 2006, she had a particularly fun-loving crew.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

So if you have funny, dramatic, or life-changing memories of time aboard Eagle, please take a minute to share them with us. We’ll run excerpts from these reader comments in our March issue. In the meantime, "So long, Eagle, it’s been great to know you."

Caption Contest Winners

Obviously, this boat (or what’s left of it) has seen better days. We recently invited you, the faithful Lectronic Latitude readers, to help explain how the boat’s bow-end found its way onto the curbside of a street. After receiving over 80 responses, we thought we’d share some of our favorites with you.

We didn’t know what to say about this picture, but over 80 of you sent in excellent suggestions.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

First, the runners’ up:

“Mexico makes headlines by expanding curbside recycling service to include fiberglass products.” – Peter Schoen

“Fractional Yacht Ownership” (at a price even Al Bundy could afford) – Mik Zint

"Every time he took the boat to the liquor store, something bad happened…" – Tom Hamilton

"When I said, ‘Take her stern,’ I had something else in mind." – Jeff Cook

"Dang, you can’t leave anything parked overnight in this neighborhood…" – Hans Zarbock

"’Just a little closer to shore before we tack,’ he says…" – Michael Moradzadeh

"Rule #1: Never tack in front of an 18-wheeler." - Tony Zavilenski

And our favorite:

“Honey, I have good news and bad news. The good news is we don’t have to pay slip fees anymore.” – Daniel Hallal 

For his efforts, Daniel will be receiving some official Latitude swag. 

Bolt Cutters or Dremel Tool

Here’s the situation: The lock used to keep your outboard from being stolen has corroded over the years, so when you try to turn the key, it breaks off inside the lock. Merde!

How to get the lock off? The brain trust from our three catamarans decided that a pair of bolt cutters was the solution.

The first pair of bolt cutters wasn’t close to being up to the task. Merde, as that meant it was a trip back to the dinghy and then a trip on the dinghy back to the anchored-out boats to get the heavy duty bolt cutters.

The second pair of bolt cutters proved to be no more effective than the first. Fortunately, Glenn Twitchell of the Newport-based Lagoon 380 Beach Access had the foresight to also bring his little Dremel tool along. The Dremel looks whimpy compared to bolt cutters, but when equipped with a succession of carbide tips, each of which weighed about a 10th of an ounce, it made its way right through the tough lock.

The Dremel may have thrown sparks, but it got the job done.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Dremel tool packages run from about $50 to about $150, and have a lot of uses on boats. Please email us if you have any great rotary tool stories?

Pac Cup Update

The bi-annual Pacific Cup race to Hawaii now has over 70 entries in various divisions including: cruising, doublehanded, fully crewed and multihull. One recent standout entry is Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio 100, a Bakewell-White/Cookson designed sloop from Corona del Mar.

Racers set off for Hawaii at the start of the 2012 Pacific Cup.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Look for further updates on this 2,070-mile contest, both here and in the pages of Latitude 38 magazine. Starts for the various classes of the 2014 Pacific Cup will run July 6-12 off the St. Francis YC.

Last Saturday’s well attended Manuel Fegundes Seaweed Soup Regatta hosted by the GGYC reminded everyone in attendance what midwinter racing is all about — patience with more than a dab of frustration.
In the aftermath of the abrupt closure of Nelson’s Marine last May, a wide variety of boats and marine equipment remained unclaimed on the boatyard’s property at 1500 Ferry Point, Alameda.
The Bay Area’s calm wintertime weather serves as a dramatic contrast to the wet and wild conditions experienced during the recent Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.