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March 17, 2014

Sailing Close-to-Home Islands

Hmm, forested island, verdant hills behind. . . Where is it? New Zealand, the Caribbean, French Polynesia? No, try closer to home.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

One of the perks of being sailing journalists is that we occasionally get to go sailing through island chains in far-flung places. But as most San Francisco Bay sailors know, you don’t have to go to the Caribbean or South Pacific islands to sail around islands, islets and cays. Right here in the Bay there are the biggies, Angel Island, Treasure Island and Yerba Buena, as well as many smaller ones like The Brothers and The Sisters.

But we’ll bet not many Bay sailors know the name of the little beauty above. We didn’t either until we looked it up. If you think you know where it is shoot us an email and register your guess. If you can tell us its name on the NOAA chart (hint: see chart #18654) you may be awarded some official Latitude 38 swag. (Winner to be selected at random from correct answers).

When Do Cruisers Become Racers?

It’s a fact that most cruising sailors never race. That’s partly because they feel they’d be ‘sailing their house’, which is too heavily laden to be competitive, and partly because many of them have little or no previous racing experience. 

But not all cruisers think this way, as evidenced by this note from Robin Weber: "When we read about the Banderas Bay Regatta in Latitude 38, it sounded like a great event for cruisers. So when we decided to sail Agave Azul in the 2013 Ha-Ha, BBR became a must-do addition to our calendar. This past week, thirty-one boats came to the starting line. Baja Ha-Ha alumni were very well represented."

Meet the winners of BBR’s Cruising Division (left to right): Rob & Nancy Novak’s Sausalito-based Oyster 485 Shindig took first, and Robin & Kathryn Weber’s Sausalito-based Catalina 470 Agave Azul took second.

Agave Azul
©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"The Vallarta Yacht Club did a great job organizing the event," adds Robin. "The competition was relaxed and friendly, and the weather cooperated with sunny skies and wind from 6 to 20 knots." You can’t ask for a much better combination than that. Look for more detailed reporting on the event here and in the April edition of Latitude 38.

Agave Azul’s crew were all Baja Ha-Ha 2013 vets. Left to right are: the Webers, Richelle & Brian Neill of the Victoria, BC-based custom 45-ft cutter Woodwind II and Ron Brown of the Oakland-based Islander 36 Hazel Rose.

Agave Azul
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Caribbean Mornings & Commuting

Dawn in the tropics, a very pleasant and sensual experience.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

After a long winter of extra strong Christmas trades, early mornings in the Caribbean have now turned sweet. The warm 10-15 knot breezes literally caress your skin, and there’s always a couple of new boats in the anchorage to checkout.

Having lived a somewhat undisciplined initial 60 years, we’ve recently come to appreciate that routines and rituals can be good things. Such as the routine and ritual of music in the morning on the boat. For if you have a couple of songs in heavy rotation for a couple of weeks on the boat, when you get back to the States and hear one of the songs six months later, you are temporarily transported back to the sunny Caribbee. That’s a good thing.

This year our musical routine and ritual has been starting the morning with a couple of Glorias. We start off with Vivaldi’s powerful Gloria in Excelsis Deo, and then we follow it up with Van Morrison’s rockin’ G-L-O-R-I-A. We suppose that’s going from the sacred to the profane, but it’s an invigorating musical trip.

As our knowledge of classical music is slim, we’re asking for some help. We need some additional classical selections you think might be appropriate for soft, pink-clouded mornings in the tropics. Please send us your suggestions.


Our morning commute to work in St. Barth, from Corossol to Gustavia. Clear water and not too much traffic.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The other part of our morning routine in St. Barth is our commute to work. It’s not too long a commute, just half a mile from the Corossol anchorage to the Gustavia inner dinghy dock, and there’s not much traffic. And although we only travel at about 4 mph to keep from hitting the turtles — we saw three big ones within about 100 feet yesterday — it only takes us about 15 minutes. It’s a nice ride disturbed only by the complete A-holes who scream in and out at 40 knots over the posted five-knot limit, and the occasional spray that mists our just fresh-water-washed body. We find the latter very annoying. On the other hand, we realize that it could be a lot worse. Lots of people have an hour or more commute in bumper-to-bumper traffic and not very pleasant scenery.

The morning commute looking toward Gustavia, with Dona de Mallorca putting on her running shoes and a container ship getting ready to offload.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We have two other commutes each day. We dinghy back to the boat at about 4 p.m. for a little lunch and nap, then head back to the internet cafe to wrap up work by 6:30 pm. It’s hot going back to the boat at 4 p.m., but the return trip around 6 p.m. is when the sun is setting and everybody is getting energized for the evening.

Our last dinghy ride back to the boat is any time from 10 p.m. to midnight. It’s always a nice downwind ride, but it’s particularly nice at this time of month when the the moon is getting fuller.

Here’s to hoping your routine commutes are as pleasant as ours, and that your week will be as good as we expect ours to be.

Whether gliding along on a light breeze or pushing the limits of her 2,000-square-foot spinnaker, the schooner Santana was always a splendid sight on the Bay.
This week, the Vallarta YC is abuzz with excitement about the 22nd annual Banderas Bay Regatta, which it hosts as a not-too-serious competition for cruising sailors.
If you’re planning to submit a Classy Classified for the April issue of Latitude 38, be aware that the deadline is this Saturday at 5 p.m.