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August 3, 2015

Little Fanfare, Huge Accomplishments

Koga (left) and Abe show their country’s colors after safe arrival at Alameda. 

© Ross Gillanders / Scanmar International

While most of the sailing media’s recent North Pacific coverage has been focused on Transpac victories and Lending Club 2‘s astonishing L.A.-to-Honolulu speed run, the impressive accomplishments of two middle-aged Japanese sailors went largely unnoticed. Michiaki Koga, 64, and Yasuo Abe, 63, both recently arrived in San Francisco Bay from Japan, having sailed roughly parallel nonstop voyages of 54 and 49 days, respectively.

We were tipped off about their arrival by the enthusiastic team at Scanmar International, as both men utilized Bay Area-built Monitor windvanes on their 5,000-mile crossings. 

As we learned during our interviews at Alameda’s Grand Marina, despite enduring several gales along the way — four in Mr. Koga’s case — the two sailors’ boats appeared to be in excellent condition, requiring only minor sail repairs and routine maintenance once in Alameda. Koga’s boat Tsuyotaka is an Esprit du Vent 30, designed by famed French naval architecture firm Groupe Finot, yet built and launched in Japan in 1998. Abe’s Yukikaze II is a more classic-styled Trekker 34, also built in Japan.

From what we could tell, both of these small boats were immaculately prepared, reflecting the experience, professionalism and seamanship of their owners. Koga, for example, is a retired shipwright who spent more than three decades building steel ships after discovering sailing during his university years in Yokohama. While sailing and working in the marine industry were part of his life, crossing the Pacific had been his dream.

Just as Robin Lee Graham’s book Dove inspired hundreds of American sailors, Kenichi Horie’s book has fueled the voyage dreams of many Japanese.  

© 2015 Ross Gillanders / Scanmar International


Both Koga and Abe were inspired years ago by reading the book Alone on the Pacific, written by a young Japanese singlehander named Kenichi Horie. In 1962 he made the Japan-to-San Francisco voyage in a 19-foot boat, a feat that earned him distinction as the first person ever to sail solo across the Pacific. For Koga and Abe, the dream of following in Horie’s wake is now a reality.

When we spoke to Abe last week, he was preparing his Yukikaze II to sail back to Japan, solo and nonstop, with a short turn-around time, while Koga will leave for Hawaii in mid-August, then complete the passage back to Japan next spring. Look for more on these impressive sailors in the September issue of Latitude 38We wish them fair winds and following seas.

When 23-year-old Kenichi Horie arrived beneath the Golden Gate in 1962 aboard his tiny sloop, authorities weren’t quite sure what to make of him.

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Catching up with the Delta Doo Dah

Mike, Mecala, Rosalyn (age 11) and Zachary (13) Gill, cruised into Owl Harbor on July 18 with their Alameda-based Ericson 27 Emily.

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

What?! It’s August already? The summer is slipping from its youth into its middle age, and, looking back on the season so far, we see that it’s been a busy one on the California Delta. With many lakes closed to boat launching due to low water levels, many locations in the Delta have seen an up-tick in activity, making this the region’s busiest summer since the beginning of the Great Recession. Beefing up the numbers of sailboats heading inland this season have been almost 70 Delta Doo Dah entries.

Sam Neustadt, Tammy Forrest, and Casey the wonder dog are commuter-cruising their Richmond-based New York 36 American Beauty, keeping her at Owl Harbor and spending weekends aboard.

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The summer months are peppered with Delta Doo Dah events, and Doo Dah sailors can choose to join any or all of them — or none, as they can make up their own do-it-yourself itinerary. July’s featured event was hosted by Owl Harbor Marina along the San Joaquin River in Isleton. Cruisers sailed in from Richmond YC, Vallejo, Benicia, and other locales along the route, meeting up for a BBQ/potluck and outdoor movie on the evening of July 18.

The crews of John and Doreen Abbott’s Catalina 30 Shellback and Lee Richardson and Pam Reeves’ Bodega 30 Stickeen, both from Richmond, enjoyed the excellent barbecued chicken dinner on Owl Harbor’s new deck, and drew pretty good cards in Delta Doo Dah 7’s summer-long poker run.

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Following a complimentary breakfast at Owl Harbor (the highlight of which was eggs laid by the marina’s own hens), some Doo Dah-ers planned to continue on to Stockton Sailing Club by sail or by land. Jeff and Annie Cook intended to sail their beautiful Richmond-based Sprague/Pratt 33 cutter Annie from Owl to SSC on that hot Delta day, however a broken water pump stalled their progress. But how to get parts to repair it on a Sunday with no car? With a little help from fellow cruisers of course!

Annie sailing up the river on July 18.

© 2015 David Cowell

Daryl and Patty Silva of the Beneteau 361 Lucy were doin’ the Doo Dah commuter-style, leaving their boat in Owl Harbor for a good chunk of July, and therefore had a car at the marina, which they loaned to Jeff so that he could drive home to Sacramento to get a part. A generous offer to be sure, but the kicker? The two couples had just met that morning at breakfast! The Silvas’ friends from Alameda YC, Paula Posner and Gerhard Serfling, picked them up and those four headed upriver by car to check out SSC.

Stockton Sailing Club will be the destination for the next and final Delta Doo Dah event, coming up on August 13-15, a mini-cruise from Richmond YC to Pittsburg YC to SSC for that club’s Hot Summer Nights Classic Car Show. Free registration for the Delta Doo Dah is open until August 28. See for all the details.

Hartjoy: A Solo Lap After 75,000 Miles

Even on his worst day sailor/adventurer Jeff Hartjoy is a pretty entertaining guy. So we’re sure that his free talk Wednesday night at the Corinthian YC will be both fun and thought-provoking. 

As you’ll learn at Wednesday’s presentation, Jeff and Debbie definitely know how to have fun.

Sailor’s Run
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Having logged 75,000 ocean miles aboard the Baba 40 Sailor’s Run — much of that with his equally spirited wife Debbie — Jeff, now 69, is currently preparing for his greatest self-imposed challenge yet: singlehanding Sailor’s Run around the world nonstop via the Five Great Capes. As reported in the July issue of Latitude 38, he plans to depart on that voyage from Bahia Caraquez, Ecuador, on or around Halloween of this year. He already knows the way around Cape Horn, as he soloed that route in 2009, which resulted in his book, Cape Horn: Ahead or Behind Forever on My Mind, Solo Around the Horn. Read it and you’ll learn that Jeff loves the challenges of sailing in the Southern Ocean. 

Debbie, a 15-year cruiser and circumnavigator, will also be on hand Wednesday night to add more sparkle and humor to Jeff’s presentation. Part of the Corinthian’s ongoing speaker series, Wednesday’s event will begin at 7 p.m., with the Sail Loft Bar opening a half hour earlier. 

Learn more about the event here, or register to attend here

On the cover: Seen in this Phil Uhl photo, the ultra-fast 105-ft tri Lending Club 2 passes the Diamond Head light at the end of a record run that shaved more than a day off the existing L.A.-to-Honolulu
With yesterday’s arrival of the final finisher and today’s awards celebration, the 48th Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu slides into the history books.
When the scooper planes came within 100 meters of Geja, they were starting to get a little too close for comfort.
Not all the Santa Cruz 50s are in Hawaii this week. Here’s Craig Page’s Hana Ho, with Buzz Blackett’s Antrim 40 California Condor in the background, starting Saturday’s OYRA Duxbury-Lightship Race off St.