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January 15, 2016

Winter Storms Hammer Harbors

This well-worn sign is often in place at the Santa Cruz Harbor launch ramp, but this week its warning is particularly serious, as the harbor mouth is effectively closed to all traffic.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

There’s a lot to be said for being an all-around ‘waterman’ (or waterwoman) rather than confining your recreation to a single watersport: When the wind blows you go sailing, of course, but when it’s dead calm you might break out the kayak or SUP. Likewise, when your harbor mouth is closed by migrating sand — as is the case at Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor this week — you wax up your surfboard and take advantage of the killer surf breaking across the entrance.

As you can see, you’ve got to be pretty clever to sneak into Santa Cruz Harbor this week. 

© Michael Nelson

Although a few boats have reportedly been sneaking through the harbor mouth at high tide, Santa Cruz Harbor-based charter yachts, fishing boats and race boats are all confined to the harbor until dredgers can catch up with removal of the incoming sand. And by the looks of it, that will be a while. (Consequently, this weekend’s Santa Cruz YC Midwinters are canceled, with the next race scheduled for February 20.)

The same winter storm action that’s closed Santa Cruz and created 50-ft waves at the famous Mavericks surf spot off Half Moon Bay has wreaked havoc elsewhere along the California coast. The famous bar outside the Golden Gate has been churning like a roiling cauldron, and down in Southern Cal seawalls are being tested by huge rollers.  

Big wave surfer Garrett McNamara, formerly of Berkeley, took a thrashing by this 50-ft wave at Mavericks this week — its force was so powerful that it snapped the humerus bone in his upper arm.

Courtesy KTVU

We haven’t heard of any SoCal harbors being closed, but most mariners are definitely thinking twice before transiting entrances when storm surge is maxing out. Check out the wild ride (below) that these sailors had coming into Oceanside Harbor the other day. Harbor staff tells us wave heights have diminished somewhat since then, but may increase again this weekend.

Harbor patrolman Jonathan Hoover shot this edgy footage a couple days ago while surveying the Oceanside entrance.

If you’ve got some killer snapshots or videos of recent swell action, we’d love to see them. And, needless to say, be careful out there!

Small Donations Add Up

Say what you will about Americans’ over-the-top spending and celebrating habits during the holiday season, but there’s no denying that this reflective time of year also inspires many to be unusually generous. 

One example is the impressive total of contributions received by West Marine’s nonprofit BlueFuture Fund, whose proceeds help maintain a variety of youth-based maritime organizations around the country — including the Alameda Community Sailing Center.

By purchasing paper BlueFuture ornaments at West Marine retailers during December’s three-week campaign, customers directly supported sailing and boating activities, as 100% of the $18,000 received will go to fund youth activities.

So three cheers for all who contributed, and for West Marine for facilitating the effort. It’s refreshing to have such good news to report on.

Richmond Sailor in Thai RC Regatta

Last month’s remote-controlled ‘yacht’ racing in Thailand. The Bay Area’s Gary Boell is on the right. His home waters are in Foster City.

© 2016 Megan Boell

Gary Boell of Richmond Yacht Club was chosen to represent the 36 International One Meter radio-controlled model-boat sailors from around the world in presenting a bouquet of flowers to the elderly King of Thailand, via camera, in his hospital. "Gary was invited with the other top IOM sailors from around the world to participate in the King Regatta 2015," writes Gary’s wife Megan, "to commemorate the king’s 88th birthday and to honor His Majesty’s talent in winning the gold medal in yachting at the SEAP Games in 1967." The king sailed an OK Dinghy to victory at the fourth South East Asian Peninsular Games in Bangkok.

Still remotely, Boell presents a bouquet of flowers from the racers to Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

© Megan Boell

Thailand’s Department of Sport and Tourism sponsored the 36 sailors (and their partners) for nine days in Thailand, which included a two-day regatta in the Royal Park near Bangkok, four full days of sightseeing in and around Bangkok, and a two-day ocean regatta for Optis, OK Dinghies, and the IOMs on the Gulf of Thailand in Pattaya. For more information and photos, go to the Thai RC Sailboat Club on Facebook.

You may recall that Gary Boell used to race a big boat, the 1D35 Diablita, with which he won the 1D35 class in the 2008 and 2009 Rolex Big Boat Series. "We sold our Diablita in 2009," said Gary, "however I’m still sailing my dinghy, a MegaByte. Of the 20-some-odd American Model Yachting One Design Classes, I am active in more than half of them — so I don’t have many weekends without some type of regatta or event travel associated with racing. The one huge advantage to radio sailing is the limited crew lunch expenditure!"

Chris Doolittle, Gary Boell and Diablita at the St. Francis YC dock during the 2008 Rolex Big Boat Series.

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC
The kids from the orphanage on the lawn of the marina. That’s ‘house mom’ Veronica Gomez Garcia, who helped make it happen, in the top center.
Jim Hopp, guiding his J/88 White Shadow through Raccoon Strait in 2015’s SSS Round the Rocks Race.
With a blast from the shotgun, BYC’s Division A starts Saturday’s Midwinter race in the chilly drizzle.