Rimas Meleshyus is not your typical bluewater voyager. In fact, some people think he must be crazy because he is absolutely determined to singlehand around the world in a San Juan 24 daysailer named Pier Pressure. As ill-advised as that may sound, we’ve got to hand it to Meleshyus — who arrived under the Golden Gate Friday from Hawaii. In a world full of bullshitters, he backs up his grand plans with action.
Having departed Hilo, Hawaii February 8, the naturalized Russian immigrant slowly plodded across the Pacific to the Bay — a voyage of at least 2,200 miles — with only the most rudimentary equipment and virtually no creature comforts.
The passage took him 56 days, but that wasn’t his longest nonstop trip since beginning his odyssey in 2011. On his previous trip he was offshore for 84 days, finally making landfall in Hawaii sailing under a tiny jib after jury-rigging three broken shrouds.
What could possibly motivate such seemingly masochistic adventures? In a word, freedom. Having grown up in the repressive climate of the Soviet Union, he claims that he always wanted to get out and experience the wider world. In 1988 he made his move, taking political asylum, somewhat ironically, in the Iranian Embassy in Moscow. After eventually fleeing to the West, he bounced around to New York and St. Thomas, then somehow ended up as a Japanese tour guide in Guam — he speaks seven languages. It may have been during his seven-year stint in San Francisco (after Guam) that he became enamored with sailing, although he didn’t begin his self-training until buying a previous San Juan 24 in Alaska.
With no sponsorship and very little money, Meleshyus has been helped along the way by the serendipitous generosity of strangers such as Bay sailor Jean Mondeau, who is currently rerigging Pier Pressure for free in addition to facilitating other upgrades. Amazingly, Mondeau met Rimas 22 years ago while stationed in Guam with the US military.
Like others who’ve helped Meleshyus along the way, Mondeau and his helpers don’t mean to encourage the stoic Russian in his seemingly impossible plan, but since there is no talking him out of it, they are at least trying to give him a fighting chance at survival. If Meleshyus ultimately fails to complete his lap around the planet, at least he’ll know that he did so exercising his cherished right of personal freedom.
We’ll have more on this unique voyager in the May edition of Latitude 38. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about him, check out his facebook page, where you’ll notice his boat always flies a large American flag — symbolic of the freedom his US citizenship gives him. Donations to the cause can be made here.
Having spent about 25 days crossing the North Pacific from Qingdao, China in Race 10 of the Clipper Round the World Race, the 12-boat fleet will begin crossing the finish line at the Golden Gate Bridge sometime after 6 p.m. tonight.
Henri Lloyd is leading the pack and expected to win line honors followed an hour or so later by GREAT Britain. Third to finish will likely be Invest Africa. The remainder of the fleet should arrive by late Friday night. You can watch their progress on the live tracker here.
There are a variety of public events scheduled between April 11 and 17 including recruitment presentations and open boat tours. You can get the latest ETAs and the public events schedule here.
Also under way is the 50th Long Beach Congressional Cup. This event invites the world’s top-ranked ISAF skippers to compete in a round-robin elimination series of match races. The week of racing began last Sunday with the Heritage Regatta, where past skippers were invited to join in fleet racing.
Stage One, an elimination series for the Congressional Cup, began on Monday, when six teams match raced for the Ficker Cup — named after Bill Ficker, the 1974 Congressional Cup winner and America’s Cup winner in 1970 aboard Intrepid. Phil Robertson, 26, of New Zealand is ranked fourth in the world and won the Ficker Cup after two series of match races Monday and Tuesday.
The top four finishers in Stage One continued on to Stage Two, which begins today. They will compete against six other ISAF-ranked skippers through Saturday, culminating with the final races on Sunday. Get all the latest news, details, pictures and live video here online.
With its status as the largest all-sail boat show on the West Coast, the annual Strictly Sail Pacific boat show (April 10-13 at Oakland’s Jack London Square) is a must-see for most Northern California sailors. To our way of thinking one of the coolest things about it is that it helps inspire non-sailors to give sailing a try, while encouraging neophytes to increase their knowledge and up their skill level.
In addition to everything else that will be going on, tomorrow — the show’s opening day — and Friday have been designated as special Youth Activity Days, where local school children will be introduced to our sport via the Discover Sailing program. "The young people learn how to put sails up, how to tack, jibe, leave and approach a dock, and steer a sailboat," the organizers explain. "They will also have the opportunity to tour sailboats on site. A few lucky kids will also get to go for a sail on San Francisco Bay." Show staff will be assisted by members of the Afterguard Sailing Academy.
Other youth activities at Strictly Sail Pacific include free dockside classes on the schooner Seaward Thursday and Friday at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., as well as Saturday and Sunday at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. The Seaward will also take up to 40 kids for a complimentary sail on both Saturday and Sunday. Be sure to sign up early.
For an overview of all that the show has to offer, see the Show Planner, stitched inside the current edition of Latitude 38, and check out the comprehensive website here. To save time, show tickets can be purchased online. See you there!
The Second SoCal Ta-Ta — aka Reggae ‘Pon da Ocean — a Ha-Ha style cruiser rally from Santa Barbara to Catalina, is on. While you can’t sign up quite yet, we’ve got more details. The dates will be Sunday, September 7, through Saturday, September 13. As with the first Ta-Ta, the interim stops will be Santa Cruz Island for two nights, Paradise Cove, and Redondo Beach.
The event will be open to boats 27 feet and longer — unless special dispensation is given — that were designed, built, and have been maintained for open-ocean sailing. We’ve sailed all the legs of this event many times — the longest is about 30 miles — and it’s usually light-to-moderate winds in reaching or running conditions. While we’ve rarely encountered headwinds, winds over 25 knots or seas over 10 feet on the course, all skippers have to be prepared for such possibilities. All entries will have to carry the appropriate safety gear, and be capable of motoring at a minimum of five knots. Since the shipping lanes will be crossed several times, all boats must be equipped with a functioning radar or AIS, and all must be equipped with a radar reflector. All entries will need to demonstrate proof of liability insurance.
This event is intended for fun-loving but responsible people who will have no trouble in letting their ‘inner reggae’ out. If you’re a person who looks to be entertained by others, or who is inclined to whine, this event is certainly not for you. The event will be run by the same folks who have put on the Baja Ha-Ha for the last 20 years, and there will be a daily net. The fleet will be limited to 50 boats.
We’re still wrapping up a few details, but there will be a few changes from the first Ta-Ta:
Santa Barbara — Participants will be able to reserve berth space at Santa Barbara Yacht Harbor, through the Ta-Ta, for both September 6, the night before the start of the event, and September 7. The cost will be 90 cents per foot per night, no matter what size boat you have, paid in advance. In addition, we’re in the process of working out an arrangement with the Santa Barbara YC so the kick-off festivities won’t have to be held in a restaurant on Stearn’s Wharf.
Santa Cruz Island — No changes. Once again Profligate, the mothership, will welcome half of the skippers and first mates to a BYO sundowner party.
Paradise Cove — No changes. Profligate will welcome the other half of the skippers and first mates to a second BYO sundowner party.
King Harbor — The situation at King Harbor is in flux, as the city is expected to have 25 moorings buoys in place by the end of June. It’s unclear if we can reserve mooring buoys, and if so, how much they would cost. In any event, we think all boats will be able to be accommodated in a combination of the mooring buoys, anchoring behind the breakwater, which has always been free, and if necessary, some marina slips (cost unknown). Because we’ll be at King Harbor on the last night of the King Harbor YC’s Evening Race Series, there will be no room for Ta-Ta boats at the King Harbor YC docks. Sorry.
Since all interior space of the YC will be occupied, sorry again, this time around there will be a special reggae outdoor area for Ta-Ta participants, with meal and beverage service. As such, nobody in the Ta-Ta fleet will be able to collapse inside the clubhouse, like Dona de Mallorca did two years ago (with vertigo). The Ta-Ta will be bringing in chairs, and some propane heaters in case it cools off in the outdoor area. Meal service for two people will be included in the entry fee, and additional meals will be available for additional crew members.
Two Harbors, Catalina — The fleet will arrive at Two Harbors on the afternoon of Friday, September 12. Skippers will have the choice of taking a mooring or anchoring — although the water is quite deep. Moorings are to be obtained the usual way, through the Harbor Patrol. Friday night will be ‘lay night,’ meaning there will be no organized activities. It’s expected, however, that most folks will gather at the outdoor bar, hopefully in over-the-top reggae regalia.
The final Ta-Ta event will be a potluck and faux ‘awards ceremony,’ including a video/slide show from the event, featuring aerial footage, and hopefully stills from each participant.
You can’t sign up for the Ta-Ta yet because we haven’t determined the exact cost of the entry fee, which will include swag, two meals at the King Harbor YC, and possibly two meals at the Santa Barbara YC. We expect to open the event to entries on about May 10. We will give at least two day’s notice in ‘Lectronic Latitude.
Want to do the Ta-Ta aboard Profligate, the 63-ft catamaran mothership? We’ll have four to six charter slots available, putting you right in the middle of all the action. If you’re interested, it would be best to visit with Dona de Mallorca this Thursday, Friday or Saturday at the Latitude 38 booth at the Strictly Sail Show in Jack London Square.
As sailboat owners we are required to carry flares on board as a safety precaution. Unfortunately, we are prohibited by law from practicing with them. So many of you might have questions about how to use your flares.
To resolve this issue and to provide details on how to properly recognize and use a flare, members of the Coast Guard Station Golden Gate and rangers from Golden Gate National Recreation Area are holding a boating safety and pyrotechnics demonstration today from 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The free demo will be held at Stairwell #5 at Balboa St. on Ocean Beach. Public parking is available between stairwells #1 and #7. For more information call (415) 331- 8247.