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February 28, 2014

March Latitudes Out Today

The March issue of Latitude 38 is out. Although today’s weather is pretty gray and wet, this issue should brighten your spirits. There’s a recap of the Three Bridge Fiasco and a Beer Can Primer for everyone salivating at the idea of going for a fun-filled sail after work in the months to come. While you are at it, you can brush up on the Ten Commandments of Beer Can Racing. We also profile two more local sailors who will be coming to San Francisco in the Clipper Round the World Race. Of course there’s much more to read in Sightings, Letters and Changes in Latitudes

Cruiser Loses Lower Leg and Foot

John Spicher of the Anacortes-based custom Coast 34 Time Piece has been released from a hospital in San Diego following the amputation of the lower part of his mangled left leg.

John Spicher leaves the UCSD Medical Center

© 2014 Jeanne Walker

Spicher’s leg was badly injured as an indirect result of his being a good Samaritan in La Paz. Sources in La Paz report that the operator of a rather large dinghy with a powerful outboard ended up in the water, with the dinghy continuing to careen about. Spicher went to rescue him. The still-running dinghy didn’t appear to be a danger — until it glanced off another boat and headed right toward Spicher. He was hit twice.

Spicher has gotten tremendous support from his many friends, particularly those in the cruising community. If anyone would like to contribute to this young man’s many expenses, his Paypal address is [email protected].

Outboards are equipped with kill switch cords designed to kill the engine the minute the operator goes overboard. Either the operator in this case wasn’t using one or the system failed.

In Defense of the Delta

With the exception of the last couple of days, wintering in the Delta has been delightful.

© 2014 LaDonna Bubak

"You’re spending the winter in the Delta? Brrrr!" That was the reaction many people — including Latitude‘s publisher — had to the announcement that my husband and I would be spending the first few months of 2014 cruising the California Delta. Okay, yes, it’s not as warm as Mexico, but get a grip, people! It’s no colder here than it is in the Bay, and since neither we nor our Wauquiez Centurion 47 Gazelle were quite ready to head south, we decided it would be the perfect place to ‘practice’ cruising.

Fred will tell you that the jillions of birds and wonderful land smells are just a couple of the Delta’s many appeals.

© LaDonna Bubak

Having cruised the West Coast before going to work for Latitude in 2006, we know that using your boat is the best way to make sure all systems are in good working order. As Captain Ron says, "If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen out there." For us right now, ‘out there’ is an area we’re familiar with and where we know we have access to services and parts we might need. 

Our first order of business was to select a homebase — a marina where we could park our car for days at a time and return to as needed — and, for us, the only option was Owl Harbor Marina in Isleton. There are many fine marinas in the Delta but Owl Harbor holds a special place in our hearts after being a Delta Doo Dah destination for three years.

We chose lovely Owl Harbor as our homebase for winter cruising.

© 2014 LaDonna Bubak

Then it was time to explore and test systems. We’ve spent the past two months bopping from a deserted Potato Slough to a placid Mildred Island to the always-friendly Stockton Sailing Club down to the bumpy Bay and back again. We’ve been pleased with how well Gazelle‘s systems have performed, though our testing allowed us to fine-tune them and fix minor issues. By the time we leave the Bay this spring, the boat will be ready and we’ll be confident in her ability to handle what the ocean serves up.

Barely a breath of wind disturbed the peace at Mildred Island. Now the duck hunters, on the other hand…

© 2014 LaDonna Bubak
It’s rare to see Potato Slough so deserted.

© 2014 LaDonna Bubak

It may not be for everyone, but having now cruised the Delta in the winter for extended periods twice — the first time was in 2003 — we can’t recommend it enough for anyone who enjoys solitiude in a vast cruising ground. Just watch for a suitable weather window (with the inclement weather, we’re safely tucked into a slip at Owl Harbor for the next few days!) and come on up! 

It’s not always wine and roses. Sometimes your anchor gets fouled on a 200-lb piece of steel framework. C’est la vie!

© 2014 LaDonna Bubak

If you prefer guaranteed sun and a more active atmosphere, don’t forget to sign up for this year’s Delta Doo Dah on March 11 at The Doo Dah will once again be a DIY affair, open to all, and will run from May 24-September 7. Official entries will be invited to a kickoff party at Berkeley YC on May 9 and be eligible for discounts at marine businesses. You can keep up with all the goings-on on the event’s new Facebook page.

Now in its sixth year, the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s annual Caribbean 600 has become one of the darlings of the North Atlantic’s ocean racing calendar.
In our recent posting For Lack of a Kill Cord we told the story of a good Samaritan, John Spicher, who was badly injured in La Paz while helping out a fellow boater who had fallen out of his motorized dinghy.