Dave Hayes and Rose Alderson of Gabriola Island, British Columbia, spent seven years planning and working to finance their cruising dream(s). They began their adventure of sailing across the Pacific to Australia with Aussie Rules, a humble Catalina 34, a boat designed to cross the Catalina Channel more than to cross oceans. A lot of people thought they were crazy — one guy even told them that to their face. But they sailed down the West Coast in the fall of 2014 and entered the Baja Ha-Ha. After cruising the winter in Mexico, they set off on the Pacific Puddle Jump to French Polynesia — and kept going all the way to Australia.
On November 10, 15 months after departing Canada and nine months after departing Puerto Vallarta, they pulled into Bundaberg.
“Dave and I had been concerned that our 34-footer was too small,” remembers Rose. “But as we learned over the course of the trip to Australia, about 80% of the time we were fine with the boat’s size. After all, Catalina makes roomy boats. We entertained often, having four, six and even 10 people over for sundowners and even full-blown dinners. Aussie Rules’ cockpit is huge, bigger than the ones on some much larger boats. Other than perhaps three days of nasty weather, we were perfectly confident in our boat’s abilities. As it turned out, we often reached destinations faster than friends on buddy boats because our boat was lighter, and because we’re racers at heart who like to tweak the sails."
As soon as the couple got to Australia, they put the boat up for sale — and found that Catalinas enjoy a good reputation in Oz. Having bought Aussie Rules as a fixer-upper, they were able to offer her at an attractive price, so she sold quickly. If you think that’s the end of Dave and Rose’s cruising, you’d be mistaken. Shortly after selling Aussie Rules, they purchased — sight unseen — Ohana, a neglected 40-ft 2000 Catalina in St. Martin in the Eastern Caribbean. They arrived in St. Martin yesterday after a long, long, long trip from Australia. The couple are hoping that Dave can get the boat in working order in a couple of weeks so they can start visiting islands while continuing to bring the boat back. Indeed, we’re hoping to meet up with them in St. Barth about a month from now.
Dave and Rose’s only complaint about their trip across the Pacific was that they had to move so quickly. “The next time we come through the South Pacific, we will aim for a five- to seven-year trip. We hope to start that in about five years’ time.”
In November, the introduction of preliminary plans to dramatically redevelop the Alameda Marina drew widespread concern and condemnation by many within the Oakland-Alameda sailing community. Early this month, developer Bill Poland, who has been part owner of the long-established, 43-acre waterfront property since 2006, attempted to clarify his position via op-ed pieces in two East Bay newspapers: "Mixed-use redevelopment of Alameda Marina… has been a public policy objective of city and regional planning agencies for years," he wrote. Meanwhile, tenants and local sailors have been meeting to share ideas on how to fight the proposed housing-heavy changes to the 65-year-old marina.
This week, the marina is a hot topic again among Bay sailors, as Sean Svendsen has resigned his longtime position as head of the marina, and harbormaster Brock de Lappe has been been let go. Sean remains head of Svendsen’s Marine, of course, which is the most high-profile tenant of the marina complex.
Although we have been unable to reach either Sean or Brock for comment, former weekend harbormaster Paul Houtz confirms that he now holds the position of harbormaster. He emphasizes that developer Poland has thus far only introduced very preliminary redevelopment ideas. "Right now there is no plan," says Houtz. No formal drawings have been submitted, and no permits have been obtained, so making structural changes to the existing waterfront layout will be a long and complex process.
Houtz says he and Poland are happy to receive ideas and comments from the public. A dedicated email address will probably be set up soon, specifically for that purpose. In the meantime, we welcome your comments and insights on this issue here.
Quantum Key West Race Week is back for 2016 and as good as ever in its first year under the management of the Storm Trysail Club. With 133 boats in 12 one-design and handicap divisions, and sailors hailing from 16 nations around the globe, the regatta continues to cement its position as the place to be for midwinter racing. Including Mini-Maxis, TP52s, IRC and ORC fleets, J/111s, a 54-boat J/70 fleet, J/88s, a dozen Melges 24s, an 11-boat C&C 30 fleet, and a token two-boat multihull division, KWRW is stacked this year with world-class racing hardware and top-tier talent.
Key West’s reputation as a breezy venue has been reinforced this week, with the fleet kept on the dock for both Sunday’s final day of practice and Tuesday’s second day of racing, as two cold fronts rolled over the Conch Republic bringing driving rain and nuking breeze. In anticipation of this, regatta organizers managed to squeeze in three races on Monday and will attempt the same later in the regatta with a stated goal of completing 10 races.
Bay Area boats and sailors are well represented throughout the impressive fleet. Earning the prestigious City of Key West Boat of the Day honors on Monday was San Francisco Bay sailor Peter Wagner’s San Francisco-based J/111 Skeleton Key. With solid crew work and North Sails’ Seadon Wijsen in the back of the bus calling the shots, Skeleton Key dominated the nine-boat J/111 fleet to claim all three bullets for the day.
In IRC 2, Peter Krueger’s all-conquering J/125 Double Trouble sits in second place after four races, just three points back of the division leader Christopher Dragon, a Sydney 43. Elsewhere in the fleet, Santa Cruz native Morgan Larson is calling tactics on Doug Devos’ IRC 1-leading TP52 Quantum Racing. Many familiar West Coast faces are featured on C&C 30s, including the SoCal-based Loco, which is steadily climbing the rankings and is currently in third place after getting off to a slow start.
Racers and organizers alike will need to make the most of the moderate northeasterly breeze and conditions today and tomorrow, as another cold front is forecast to move over the area later in the week. Stay tuned to ‘Lectronic Latitude for a post-regatta recap next week and coverage of the Conch Republic Cup, which will see much of the fleet race to and from Cuba with three days of racing off Havana.