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May 18, 2015

Maserati Dodges Garbage on Shanghai Run

While hundreds of miles offshore, the Maserati crew were stunned by how much floating garbage they encountered. This shot was apparently taken by a crew member. 

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Normally, one of the rewards of offshore sailing is the opportunity to savor the natural world around you, unspoiled by the influences of man. But that hasn’t been the case for Giovanni Soldini and his international crew aboard the VOR 70 Maserati, who are now in the middle of the North Pacific, attempting to set a new official benchmark time for the old China tea clipper route from San Francisco to Shanghai. "We’re sailing in a plastic sea with two typhoons on our route," he wrote Friday.

"We are seeing a lot of buoys, bits of rope and line, cellophane, car tires, bits of netting, huge black plastic balls — a myriad of different plastic stuff weathered by sun and sea and now accompanying us around the high pressure area." At the time of that report, the theoretical edges of the infamous North Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch lay a few hundred miles to the north of Maserati‘s position. But, as Soldini wrote, "clearly its edges are pretty blurred… Last night, it took us a good couple of hours to free up the port rudder from a floating plastic line.

"Witnessing such a devastating spectacle gives you a very sad feeling of powerlessness and resignation," Soldini added. "… Is this the true face of progress? Is this what awaits us? Seas filled with plastic, dead and poisoned fish and birds? Perhaps instead of focusing solely on our technological future, we need to invest our resources in defending the planet’s resources from ourselves."

This recent video gives you a feel for recent conditions and life on board — including Giovanni’s 49th birthday celebration.
Courtesy Maserati.

In this morning’s update from Maserati, Soldinia and crew were no longer worried about cyclones — the big one that had lain ahead of them has now traveled north into the latitudes of the Philippines, and a second one that they’d been keeping an eye on has petered out. As Soldini explained, the big worry now is running out of wind: "Behind the cyclone, the trade winds disappear, with the risk of [us] being left without wind." As of this morning, Maserati still had more than 3,500 miles to go before making landfall at Shanghai. Follow her progress at Maserati‘s website of via Giovanni’s Facebook page

Delta Doo Dah Kickoff

The ever-evolving Delta Doo Dah kicked off on Saturday night at Richmond Yacht Club. The cruising rally to where it’s warm — inland — has always enjoyed strong support from marinas along the way, but this year the event has teamed up with RYC and Stockton Sailing Club in particular to facilitate the voyage to Northern California’s backyard cruising ground.

The Kickoff Party combined with RYC’s Delta Cruising Seminar, offered by Delta vets Craig and Ann Perez for the sixth year. The fun and informative seminar makes liberal use of props and audience input.

RYC commodore Craig and all his stuff. Here’s one tip: critters might like to gnaw on your anchor rode if it has salt and algae on it. Might be best to use nice clean rode in the fresh water of the Delta.

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Here’s a fashion tip from Ann: nonskid socks — the kind you get in the hospital — are great for wearing on the boat.

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A contingent from Stockton Sailing Club joined the group, and SSC’s Tom Lueck spoke about June’s Delta Ditch Run from RYC to SSC. The race, now in its 25th year, welcomes cruisers in their own division and gives them a motoring allowance and a head start to help them cover the 67-mile course. Those who sign up for both the Ditch Run and the Doo Dah will be doing the ‘Doo Dah Ditch Run‘. The trek to Stockton will be followed by a party Saturday night and more activities on Sunday.

Stockton Sailing Club’s Tom Lueck talked about the Delta Ditch Run, encouraging non-racers to sign up for the cruising division.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Latitude 38 was on hand to raffle off prizes generously donated by Doo Dah sponsors, including Owl Harbor, Martinez Marina, Rosa’s at Tower Park, the Isleton Cajun & Blues Festival, Delta Kayak Adventures, and OPB-YC. Mike Scheck of Scanmar gave away the grand prize, an AnchorRescue.

Since this is our seventh Doo Dah, we went with a Lucky 7, Vegas theme — what happens in the Delta stays in the Delta — and surprised the party-goers with the first draw from a pack of custom-made playing cards in a summer-long poker run.

"Pick a card, any card. Now save it and there will be chances to collect more. Best poker hands win prizes!" said Doodette Chris.

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For more info on the Delta Doo Dah and to enter (it’s free!) see

Volvo Ocean Race in the USA

The crowd on land watching one of the Pro-Am Races. "There were hundreds of spectator boats and more than 20,000 people cheering from shore," said Cherie Sogsti of San Diego. "I’m so glad we flew across the country to feel the excitement."

© 2015 Kara Hugglestone

"This race is the last great adventure. Short of going to the moon, it’s one of the biggest adventures you can do," said Ian Walker, skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the current leader in the grueling round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race. 

The Spanish skipper of MAPFRE, Iker Martinez, talked to the media.

© 2015 Kara Hugglestone

A marathon chess game on the water, with larger-than-life characters; sexy, fast boats; exotic destinations; and, yes, danger, the adventure made its only American stopover in Newport, RI.

I wasn’t the only San Francisco sailor on hand to watch the spectacle. Justin Kromelow, skipper of the J/70 Loose Lucy, was thinking about making the trip when serendipity arrived in the form of the St. Francis Sailing Foundation Charity Auction. He bid on a special behind-the-scenes tour with Team Alvimedica, and to his delight, he won.

Kromelow is a fan of the American team’s youthful energy. "Too often sailing is about crusty old sorts," he said. Team Alvimedica is the youngest team in the race and has been dubbed ‘the young guns’. Justin planned a guys’ weekend with his 14-year-old son, Kirby. "I actually had an ulterior motive — I’m on a secret mission to get Kirby excited about sailing again," he said.

Justin and Kirby Kromelow at the Ocean Race Club, with a 12-Meter sailing in the background.

© 2015 Kara Hugglestone

Another West Coaster here is Marilyn Cassedy, who grew up in the junior program at San Diego Yacht Club but now lives in Los Angeles and sails in the Martin 242 fleet in Marina del Rey. She had sailed on the Hobart and William Smith College Sailing Team in New York and knew she would see old friends if she came in for the races. They were on the water for the In-Port Race Saturday and had a great view of the windward gate. "The first windward leg was pretty thrilling because of how close all the boats were, and it was great that the wind angle worked out to see the boats fly spinnakers in the harbor," Marilyn said.

Marilyn Cassedy of Los Angeles, with the VO 65s racing in the background.

© Justin Bauer

Interestingly Spain’s MAPFRE turned out to be the fastest boat in the In-Port Race, leading virtually wire to wire and getting their first In-Port win. They put on an impressive show, regaining the lead in the second leg after being challenged by hometown favorites Team Alvimedica and leading at every mark.

MAPFRE again dominated the start of Leg 7, Newport to Lisbon, on Sunday.

Greg Retkowski and Cherie Sogsti, Formula 18 catamaran racers out of San Diego, came to Newport to cheer on the six-boat fleet.

© Eddie Persichetti

And how did Justin’s secret mission work out? The passionate sailors and Volvo Ocean 65s worked their magic. Kirby said, "After seeing this I think I want to get back into sailing."

Education Mixed With Family Fun

Future Coasties? Possibly. For kids and adults alike, spending time with search and rescue crews is both impressive and inspiring.

© Lynn Ringseis

Since we’re always looking for a reason to visit Sausalito, the idea of touring the Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat Station Golden Gate during their annual Safe Boating Expo seemed an excellent way to spend last Saturday morning. Getting the chance to tour the vessels was a highlight. While onboard the 47-ft Motor Lifeboat, the question most often asked was, "Is this the boat that rights itself when it flips over?" The Coast Guard personnel patiently and politely replied each time, "Yes, in the extremely rare scenario of a capsize, it will right itself."  

The event was very well attended. There were many families with lots of youngsters who were very excited to romp around the vessels and pretend to steer from the flybridge, while wearing the junior-sized lifejackets that the Coast Guard were giving away, along with the adult-sized PFDs that ‘sold out’ within the first hour.

The multi-agency event drew a big turnout of curious mariners. 

© Lynn Ringseis

Right on schedule at noon, a Coast Guard helicopter buzzed the crowds and hovered off the pier at Fort Baker, near the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. We soon spotted a pair of flippers dangling out the open starboard doorway, and watched a rescue swimmer jump into the frigid Bay waters. As the helicopter circled away to the east, the bright orange smoke from the swimmer’s flare wafted behind him. The crew of a Coast Guard Auxiliary boat was standing by as the helicopter returned, hovered directly over the swimmer, and lowered a sling. With the stirred-up air and water, it took the swimmer a couple of tries, but he eventually grabbed the line, harnessed himself in and his crew winched him back aboard the helicopter.  

This could be you someday. When you sail in 50° Northern California waters, it’s nice to know the Coasties and other SAR personnel have got your back. 

© 2015 Lynn Ringseis

A second swimmer jumped in and repeated the training drill, to the delight of onlookers, especially the youngsters — some wearing little fire fighter hats that had been given to them by the Tiburon Fire Dept. That agency also had a vessel at the Expo along with vessels from the Marin Sheriff’s Dept. and a San Francisco Police rigid inflatable.

It was an honor for us to have an opportunity to thank the Coast Guard and other rescue personnel in person for their hard work in keeping us boaters safe.

We’ll be kicking off the 2015 Delta Doo Dah this Saturday evening, May 16, with a party and Delta Cruising Seminar hosted by Richmond YC from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.