Skip to content
March 12, 2014

Schmooze, Network and Sail

In real-life situations, ‘survivors’ are rarely this cheerful, but thanks to Sal, it’s become an annual tradition to sample an authentic raft’s ‘cozy’ interior.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you’ve ever lamented that you couldn’t find reliable crew for racing or daysailing, or if you’re an eager sailor who doesn’t own a boat but loves to get out on the water, then listen up because we’ve got a great solution for both scenarios. 

Tomorrow (Thursday, March 13) San Francisco’s Golden Gate YC will open its doors to both skippers in need of crew and crew seeking rides at Latitude 38’s annual Spring Crew List Party. Unlike our September Crew shindig that focuses on cruising south of the border, tomorrow’s event is a catch-all: Serious and not-so-serious racers will be looking for capable race crew, would-be cruisers and passagemakers will be looking for watch-standers, and boat owners who simply enjoy casual weekend or evening sails will be looking for folks to share that variety of low-key fun on the water. Hours are 6-9 p.m.; $7 entry fee (or $5 if age 25 and younger) includes free snacks and a chance at door prizes (no-host bar on site). Cash only please!

If you’re looking for a ride, home in on folks with red name tags – they’re skippers.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you’re new to this process, here are a few tips:

• Don’t be a wallflower, be proactive. That is, don’t be shy about going up to skippers (who will be identified by name tags) and introducing yourself. Vice versa for skippers who need crew. 

• Be honest. Don’t overstate your qualifications and experience. Many skippers are happy to train less-experienced crew in their preferred methods of seamanship. It’s often more important to have an upbeat, can-do attitude than tons of experience.

• Be crystal clear about expectations. Whether you are a potential crew or a skipper-in-need, your best chance of successful partnering will be if you are clear about expectations, i.e.: Re racing: How often crew must show up for race practice and events? Re cruising: What expenses will crew be expected to share? Re romance: If you are simply looking for a ride, and definitely not looking for romance, make that clear from the get-go. (That said, many happy couples have met through our online Crew List or Crew List Parties.)

• Bring some simple, single-sheet sailing resumes (ideally with your photo on them), so a potential skipper can remember who you are when reassessing crew possibilities later. The same goes for skippers. 

LIFERAFT DEMO: It’s become a long-standing tradition for Sal Sanchez of Alameda-based Sal’s Inflatable Services to pop open a liferaft at our Crew Parties and let attendees sample the ‘cozy’ interior space. He’ll do that again this year, and in addition, he’ll be conducting a special hands-on Liferaft Training seminar preceding the Crew Party, 3:00-5:00 p.m. at the GGYC docks. This is a great educational opportunity that would be hard to find elsewhere — especially for those who sail offshore. Cost is $39. Reserve today at (510) 522-1824.

Cat Ppalu Holed on Reef


Cat Ppalu, the well-known, high-speed 74 x 28-ft, Peter Spronk-designed ketch-rigged catamaran, was holed on a reef near Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten on Sunday while the cat’s owner, D. Randy West, was racing aboard the Gunboat 62 cat Tribe in the Heineken Regatta. The site of the holing was just a few yards away from where Ppalu, the 13th cat Spronk designed, was launched in 1978. In fact, D. Randy, one of the best-known racers and biggest characters in all the Caribbean, was one of the hundreds who helped launch Ppalu by physically carrying her to the water.

"Buzzard luck on the sinking of Ppalu," wrote D. Randy. "It was my bad, as it was I who put out 60 feet of chain 59 feet from the corner of the reef. I had anchored there many, many times with my 60-ft cat Shadowfax and never had a problem, but Ppalu being four feet wider made all the difference in the world. On the bright side, the Dutch Coast Guard was awesome, as was Deon and his salvage effort. Ppalu is now at Bobby’s Mega Yard in the lagoon, where a 20-ft hole in her starboard hull was revealed. So now we’re back to square one in the restoration. Cheers to Spike on Tribe, who is lending me his tools, as all mine went underwater."

This is a heartbreaker, as D. Randy has pined over Ppalu for as long as we’ve known him, which is about 30 years. When he was finally able to buy her last year, she was in pretty bad shape. But D. Randy and his lady Joanne ‘H.Q.’ Roberson put lots of money and seven months of hard work in the yard at St. Kitts into bringing her a lot of the way back, only taking a break to visit San Francisco for the America’s Cup. Plus, they got lots of donated equipment from some of the biggest names in the sailing industry, in addition to cast-off-but-good gear from captains of other yachts. But now this, just a month before we planned to crew on Pplau in the Voiles de St. Barth. To make things worse, D. Randy had just let her insurance expire. After all, "What could possibly happen?"

In 1995, D. Randy and his then-lady tried to ride out the 135-knot winds of Hurricane Luis on numerous anchors. Ultimately, the cat was blown far up onto a beach at Sint Maarten. But D. Randy got her rebuilt.

© 2014 D. Randy West

Buchanan of Total Boat Work Resurfaces

After disappearing without a word from Mazatlan in mid-January, Bob Buchanan has resurfaced not surprisingly in Hawaii. Our bet is that he’ll soon have a successful marine engine repair business going in Canada.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Bob Buchanan is alive and well, and has been in Hilo, Hawaii for a couple of weeks following an uneventful singlehanded passage from Mazatlan to the Big Island aboard his Acapulco 42 Bolias Dream," report John and Linda Gratton of the Redwood City-based Hans Christian 33 Nakia. "He’s planning on returning home to Canada before too long."

Latitude readers will remember that Buchanan arrived in Mazatlan in 2000, and began working on boats. For the last bunch of years he had overseen the development of Total Boat Works into one of the most popular and respected engine and boat repair yards in Mexico. That all ended in mid-January, when Buchanan apparently fled to Hawaii with his boat. Depending on whom you believe, Buchanan was either one of the most honest and responsible boat service providers in Mexico — who was unjustly being threatened by the Mexican court system if not also physically — or he was a crook who screwed over former employees. 

On another note, the much-traveled Grattons had some interesting comments about cruising in Mexico versus cruising in Hawaii. "We’ve seen a lot of comments in Latitude about people thinking of sailing to Hawaii instead of going to Mexico, because of the AGACE thing. Frankly, we can’t imagine dealing with AGACE in Mexico could be any worse that dealing with DOBOR/DLNR (Department of Boating Ocean Recreation/Department of Land and Natural Resources) here in Hawaii." Read the details in the Letters section of the April Latitude 38 magazine. (As always, downloadable free.)

Coastal Safety Training and Sea Seminar

"Coastal" SAS (safety at sea) training is required for 30% of crew to participate in OYRA- and SSS-sponsored ocean races (and others) this year. “Offshore” SAS training is required by the Spinnaker Cup and the PacCup.

Safety training requirements for ocean races are increasing, so think about signing up for a class today.

© 2014 LaDonna Bubak

The upcoming seminars listed below are great opportunities for you and your race crew to fulfill the training obligations — and they’d also be a great education for any sailor who wants to be safer sailing on the ocean. If you’re a racer and haven’t attended an SAS seminar in the last four years, you need to and there isn’t a better time to do it! 

March 16, Sunday
Coastal SAS (OYRA, SSS, etc)
9:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Santa Cruz Yacht Club in Santa Cruz
$45 per person (includes lunch)
April 13, Sunday
Coastal SAS (OYRA, SSS, etc)
9:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Strictly Sail boat show at Jack London Square in Oakland
$65 per person (includes two-day boat show pass)
May 18, Sunday
Ocean SAS (PacCup, Spinnaker Cup, TransPac, etc)
8:00 – 5:00p.m.
Encinal YC in Alameda
You can find details — including how to register to attend — for all these SAS seminars (and a few more) here
The previous incarnation of AC45 fleet racing was a huge international success. But this time, Ellison hopes to stage races in 10 different countries, which would be even better.
Warm temperatures and light breeze had some observers wondering if any boats would start this year’s Big Daddy Regatta, hosted by Richmond YC.
As we noted last week and in March’s Sightings, registration for this year’s Delta Doo Dah will open tomorrow, March 11, at noon at
The ever-popular Banderas Bay Regatta is focused on not-too-serious fun, as it attracts cruisers who are essentially racing their homes.