November 11, 2015

El Yo-Yo Is Complete

Profligate, fleeing the temperate zone for the tropics, despite the danger of sailing off the curve of the earth. 

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It was only in August that we brought the 63-ft catamaran Profligate 1,000 miles north from Puerto Vallarta to San Diego, with a six-day weather layover in Cabo and Gomorrah. A short time later we dashed up to Santa Barbara for the start of the weeklong SoCal Ta-Ta. As soon as that was over, we rushed down to Driscoll’s Boat Yard in San Diego to get the cockpit and back steps painted. The paint was hardly dry before Profligate became the mothership of the 22nd annual 750-mile Baja Ha-Ha cruisers’ rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. We did get one day of rest after that was over before setting sail for 300-mile-distant La Cruz, whence we’d headed north just three months ago. Whew! While the Wanderer will keep moving, at least Profligate gets a rest, hanging out on Banderas Bay until late summer.

It’s hard to believe, but Profligate will be 20 years old at the start of the next Ha-Ha. The good news is that she’s not only provided us with countless fabulous memories, but that despite her age, she’s cosmetically and structurally in far better shape than ever. The greatest recent addition has been the big hard-top over the cockpit. Why we waited 19 years to get cockpit shade is a major mystery. We will be donating our brain to science to try to help experts understand why people don’t use common sense.

We made the 36-hour Cabo-to-La Cruz leg with Doña de Mallorca and Ha-Ha vet Victoria (last name unknown) as crew. We were on a mission, so we only got the sails up yesterday afternoon for about four hours. But they were a wonderful four hours, gennaker reaching at 8 to 11 knots in about 12 knots of wind and a predominantly flat sea. Profligate seemed to be gliding effortlessly. While Doña and Victoria were otherwise occupied inside, we’d stand on the port bow, with the setting sun in the background, watching the big cat sailing herself. It was a most satisfying ‘look what we, with the help of many others, have created over the last two decades’ moment.

Heading south from Bahia Santa Maria, which is just north of the Tropic of Taurus. 

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As much as we like sailing with crew, next year we’d like to do the 300-mile Cabo-to-Banderas Bay leg by ourselves to really bond with Profligate. We don’t like being second-guessed about every decision by a certain crew member whose initials are DdM. Given typical conditions, we figure a reefed main and the big screacher would serve us well.

There is no doubt that we are in the tropics. Two nights ago Victoria came on deck for a middle-of-the-night watch wearing a onesie — and nearly collapsed from heat stroke. Surely we heard them wrong, but we thought we then heard John and Debbie Rogers at anchor on Moonshadow at Punta Mita say the water temperature was 89 degrees. Whatever, while offshore the stars shone like diamonds.

Traveling by boat isn’t always easy, nor is having to set up a new ‘office’ every other day, but we’ll take it over the alternatives. We hope you get the chance to try it yourself sometime. 

Today’s ‘office du jour’, the Octopus’s Garden café in La Cruz. 

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

While Oceans Rise, Lake Levels Sink

This boat is surrounded by either a flood or a drought. Since it’s in California…

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In addition to the much more dire consequences of the California drought, lake sailing has suffered. This boat languishes behind a wall of dead trees in Lake Isabella, located east of Bakersfield. The man-made lake has dwindled to a fraction of its normal capacity, exposing groves of dead trees that are normally deep underwater. With only small portions of the lake usable for boats (and not enough water in the Kern River for the area’s popular whitewater rafting trips), the local economy has been suffering. Like Californians elsewhere, locals are praying that El Niño will bring relief.

Midwinters Notebook

Peter Boland and Erik Pavelka’s J/80 Acqua Veloce raced in SYC’s chilly, foggy, drizzly first Midwinter race on the first day of November.

© 2015 Roxanne Fairbairn

Sausalito Yacht Club’s first Chili Midwinter Race kicked off the Bay Area Midwinter season on Sunday, November 1, in a mild southwest wind and building flood. The race committee selected a course that started near Pt. Knox (the southwest point of Angel Island) with Blackaller Buoy at San Francisco’s Fort Point as the windward mark and a temporary near the West Garrison on Angel Island as the leeward mark. Thirty-five boats in six divisions fought the flood on their way to Blackaller, then enjoyed a quick flood-aided romp back to the leeward mark and a short beat to finish. See for results, photos, and video. The SYC series will continue on December 6, January 3, February 7, and March 6. 

What the?! At least the barge moved on.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Racers could only shake their heads when they arrived at Golden Gate YC on the crisp, clear morning of November 7 — a moored barge was perfectly aligned along the startline between the clubhouse and the X buoy. Fortunately, it moved before the race went into sequence — leaving behind its substantial mooring buoy, which marked the mid-point of the line. But in the fresh northerly, everyone stuck close to X to start the one-tack beat to Blackaller. From there, a tack over onto port took the spinnaker divisions to Harding Rock, where a rushing river of ebb was almost enough to overpower that locale’s weak breeze. Spinnakers popped for the run to Fort Mason. With boats now traveling sideways to the ebb, the push from the current became a huge tactical factor — even more so on the second run when the northerly died out, to be replaced by a mere flutter of a westerly.

The Fort Mason buoy was missing, and a temporary inflatable was set in its place as the leeward mark, which Greg Mullins’ Farr 52 Zamazaan and Michael Moradzadeh’s SC50 Oaxaca are seen rounding in this photo.

© Slackwater SF

To see who won the first race, go to The Seaweed Soup Series will continue on December 5, January 2, February 6, and March 5.

The build-up of sand, determined to form a beach on the spit east of GGYC, proved stronger than the concrete docks, which had been installed in anticipation of the 2013 America’s Cup.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

On Sunday, November 8, the Estuary Racing Gods smiled on the Island YC fleet by drying the skies and providing for shadows later when the boats were being put away. "A relaxing 10-ish knots of wind from the south turned our usual windward and leeward legs into a pair of reaches instead, preventing spinnakers from enjoying the increasingly pleasant day," writes IYC’s David Ross. "Our newest fleet, Size Matters, welcomes all boats 22 feet and under, with an option to fly spinnaker or not. Fairly evenly matched participants included a Wilderness 22 and a pair of Mercury 18s, which were all dominated by a familiar Santana 22." See results and more at next race in the series will be on December 13.

On November 7-8, Monterey Peninsula YC’s Perry Cup Midwinters opened with five races, the last of which was abandoned due to a die-off of breeze. Pax Davis of the Mercury fleet reports that the weather on Saturday was perfect with 7-9 knots of wind and very small chop. Sunday, the forecast called for rain and wind at 5-10 knots. "The fleet sailed out in almost no wind, but as the delayed start approached so did the weather," writes Davis. "The breeze built up to 12-15 knots and the chop was a minor Berkeley Circle." The next race in that series will be on December 5.

Anja Bog’s Antrim 27 Head Rush won the first Sequoia YC Winter Series race.

© Fabian Pease

Sequoia Yacht Club’s first of five Winter Series races went off without delay at 1:30 on Saturday under bright skies, flat water, and light wind. "The breeze blew about 7 knots throughout the day, dying to 4 knots so that boats had to work to sustain momentum across the downwind finish line," report Kathy Conte and Cathy Moyer of the Elan 310 Boudicca. "All 10 boats flew spinnakers during the 6-mile race, which had two upwind and two downwind legs." The top four boats finished within two minutes of each other! The Winter Series will continue on December 5. The club’s five-race Redwood Cup pursuit series will begin on November 21.

Midwinters starting up next weekend include Berkeley YC’s on Saturday and Sunday and RegattaPro’s Winter One Design and Bay View Boat Club’s Midwinters on Saturday only. For more, see our Calendar.

Doing their best impression of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the 1953 classic From Here to Eternity, this unidentified couple gets an A for effort. 
We were on the Baja Ha-Ha when we read in ‘Lectronic that Bill Lee had bought Merlin, the ultralight sled that he’d designed and built in 1977, and that he had trucked back to Santa Cruz with an eye to doing the 2017 Transpac.
These days, historical milestones seem to pop up every few weeks on the evening news.