What better way to welcome the new year than with a sail on beautiful, chilly, sunny San Francisco Bay? Despite temperatures that barely cracked the 50s, Bay Area sailors took advantage of dry weather and a moderate 10- to 15-knot easterly, bundled up in warm clothes, and took out their boats.
Among organized events was the Master Mariners Benevolent Association’s New Year’s Day Race, potluck and Tacky Trophy exchange. Race chair Ted Hoppe reports that eight boats made the startline east of Treasure Island. A light breeze built to a blustery finish at the Point San Pablo Yacht Club on Richmond’s Santa Fe Channel. "We all had a very quick turn of speed with such conditions; everybody ended the race in less than 1:15. The party was well attended, with more than 75 people. Rather than celebrate a clear winner, we had the members decide who was first and last to cross the line. The winner received a fine bottle of French Chartogne-Taillet reserve champagne, and the rear guard was forced to accept a bottle of two-buck bubbly that has rolled around in the bilge for nearly four years. The race winner was determined not by actual line crossing but by popular vote after each vessel representative explains to the room full of MMBA members why they thought they won. It seems the List families were present and loud thereby securing the first prize for Hans and Sophie List’s Sequestor, while Tom List’s Begone secured the Blanc de Bilge. The Tacky Trophy celebration that we proudly do in our traditional manner continues to make us all realize how much we look forward to this event and our first sail of the new year."
Another traditional, organized event involved a clockwise circumnavigation of Alameda, co-hosted by several of that island’s yacht clubs. A full English breakfast at Island YC in the Alameda Marina kicked off a sort of waterborne progressive club-crawl. "We served more than 45 sailors and ran out of food!" said IYC’s Dawn Chesney.
An unofficial event observed its third year when a loosely-organized group of racers cruised into Clipper Cove for an eight-boat raft-up. Vessels ranged in size from the mid-30s to a couple of Cal 20s — and even a kayak. A bigger boat, the Cal 40 Green Buffalo, arrived promptly at 11:00, found the cove empty, and sailed on. The Laser 28 Stink Eye came next and dropped an anchor, followed by Greg Nelsen and Kathryn Kade on the 36-ft Beneteau Bonaparte and Scott Cyphers and Hana Bauguess on the Ericson 35 Ergo. Richard and Ali vonEhrenkrook on Can O’Whoopass arrived at 11:45. "The Stank let out rode, Lori Dennis’s new Maritime 36 Argo wedged on in, and the Can took the north end of the scene," reports Richard. "Steve Buckingham got the award for bringing the most, with the smallest boat, a 12-ft kayak. He brought a roaster oven and made scary-good flank steak, avocado and salsa soft tacos on Greg’s borrowed Beneteau. Sue and Richard on the C&C 33 Joie De Vivre rolled in shortly after. At about 1:30, Phil Krasner on the Express 27 Wetsu made a perfect entrance and landing, and Marcus Choy on the Cal 20 Green Dragon sailed in on jib alone. The food, especially on Lori’s boat, was really good."
Upstaging all recreational vessels and everything else on the Bay New Year’s Day was the 1,300-ft container ship CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin — the biggest ship to ever visit the US — which ‘sailed’ in through the Gate and tied up at the Port of Oakland. The behemoth departed again on Monday.
Doublehanders Jonathan and Rebecca Mote of the Corona del Mar-based Jeanneau 42DS Serendipity were among the handful of soul sailors who sailed the entire 750-mile length of November’s Baja Ha-Ha. Even when becalmed for a long period of time they didn’t give in — despite the fact that their dog actually picked up the ignition key to the engine and brought it to them. Hint, hint.
The couple had such a good time on the Ha-Ha that when we crossed paths at the Vallarta YC in December, they told us they were going to do it again this fall. But on a larger boat.
"We like the Jeanneau 52," they said. They also said they intend to sail the entire way again.
In addition to having a different boat, the couple plan to do one other thing differently. "Once the Ha-Ha is over, we’re not just going to cruise for another month or two, we’re not coming back at all!"
Given the Motes’ dedication, the Poobah has awarded them sign-up position number three. Position one is already taken by Mark Coleman of the Ventura-based Cal 48 Waimui, while position two is taken by Patsy ‘La Reina del Mar’ Verhoeven and her La Paz-based Gulfstar 50 Talion. Official Ha-Ha registration will not open until May 1.
As we’ll be reminding people all year, the Grand Poobah has moved the starting date of the 23rd annual Baja Ha-Ha back a week to October 31 from what would have normally been October 24. The two primary reasons are: 1) To try to increase the time between the end of hurricane season and the start of the Ha-Ha, and 2) To not conflict with a fishing tournament so there will be more slips available in Cabo for Ha-Ha boats.
Throughout the Caribbean Basin, many businesses and tourism promoters lightheartedly capitalize on the region’s legacy of piracy. But it was no laughing matter late last month when two incidents of actual modern-day piracy occurred only a week apart. In fact, sailors in the region are now considering taking extreme measures such as traveling in convoys and running dark at night.
Both incidents occurred during transits from Trinidad to Grenada in the vicinity of the Trinidad Hibiscus Gas Platform, roughly 30 miles north of Trinidad and 40 miles from the northeastern tip of Venezuela. The first was on December 20: An 80-ft sailboat was approached and eventually boarded by a group of Spanish-speaking men traveling in an open 18-ft fishing boat with a spare outboard and barrels of fuel as its only visible cargo. The pirates searched the boat and took primarily electronics and money. None of the sailors resisted, and none were harmed. No shots were fired. The robbers’ boat returned to the south, whence it had come.
Victims of the second incident, December 28, were traveling north in a 32-ft sailboat. Similarly, their boat was boarded by Spanish-speaking gunmen and searched, but reports detail the taking of mostly utilitarian items such as toilet paper, food, clothing and cell phones. (It is unclear whether this boat had no modern electronics and cash.) Again, no shots were fired and no sailors were harmed.
Although both attacks were similar in nature, descriptions of the open boats used varied: the first was said to have been a white hull with blue interior, powered by a 120hp Yamaha outboard; the second was said to have been a pale blue hull with a white interior, powered by a 130hp outboard.
Naturally, the coast guards of Trinidad and Tobago (TTCG), Grenada and the US are deeply concerned by these incidents, as are other local authorities and maritime organizations such as the Caribbean Safety & Security Net and the Yacht Services Association of Trinidad & Tobago (YSATT). TTCG recommends that yachts traveling between Trinidad and Grenada travel at night, and possibly without running lights (as it is assumed that the pirates do not have radar); travel in convoys with vessels of similar speed; and alert local coast guards of your float plan, as well as departure and arrival times. Phone the Trinidad CG at 800-TTCG or 6341476, email here, or radio them (call sign 9YA) on HF 2186MHz. We cannot recall such extreme measures ever before being recommended in any area of the Caribbean Basin.