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April 8, 2016

Boaters Plead for Canal Dredging

The San Rafael Canal is a natural waterway that’s been lined with marinas, homes and businesses for decades. But there’s currently a dire need for it to be dredged — especially in the western half, beyond Lowrie’s Yacht Harbor (the heart-shaped marina, upper left).

© Wikipedia

Nowadays, on just about any weekend you’ll find stand-up paddleboarders and kayakers happily recreating on the San Rafael Canal. Its shallow depth in many places is no problem for them, but for local keelboat sailors and the many long-established marine businesses, the Canal’s dire need for dredging is a serious problem.

That’s why several business owners are reaching out to you — through us — to proactively push area legislators to fund dredging operations, which they say are long overdue.

"The last, and only partial, dredging of the Canal happened in 2011," writes Nadine Ahollinger of Helmut’s Marine. "The Army Corps of Engineers dredged 70% of the Canal to a depth of only 5.5 feet at low tide. Their own recommendation for a commercially viable waterway is 7 to 8 feet." And most of that work occurred in the eastern end of the Canal, leaving the western (downtown) end to continue silting in. With additional silting this year due to heavy winter runoff, the issue has become critical. 

SUPing has become extremely popular on the Canal. Here, diehard racers compete during a winter storm with 30-knot winds. 

© 101 Surf Sports / Ron Steinau

Dredging advocates urge you to help them crank up the pressure on legislators to fund dredging ASAP, before a number of long-established marine businesses can no longer operate. Email Congressman Jared Huffman here, Senator Mike McGuire here, and Assemblyman Marc Levine here.

Dredging campaigners tell us that businesses along the Canal bring in more than $10.5 million per year and thus contribute heavily to the local economy.

Will the Voiles Be Lucky #7?

As nasty a 100-footer as there ever has been, Comanche takes the lead off the line in last year’s Voiles. 

© 2016 Voiles de St. Barth

When François Tolède and Luc Poupon created Les Voiles de St. Barth in 2010, their goal was to combine elite racing with unusual joie de vivre ashore. They have succeeded on both counts beyond what must have been their wildest expectations, as Les Voiles has become one of the great competitive racing events in the world, and perhaps the most fun. The entry deadline for next week’s four-race series isn’t until Monday, but so far 69 elite boats have signed up to compete in the seventh edition.

Ken Keefe of the KKMI yard in Sausalito is a driving force behind the success of the TP52 Vesper in Les Voiles, and is back again this year.

© 2016 Christophe Jouany

Highlighting the monohulls and the nine-boat maxi division will be Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark’s VLVP 100 Comanche. There will also be a number of maxi 72s, TP52s and VOR 65s. At the small end of the monohull spectrum are four Melges 24s, whose skippers have been brave enough to sign up knowing full well that race director Luc Poupon is hardcore, and would think nothing of sending them out on a 25-mile course in full-on tradewind conditions even if it were the last race of the event. It’s the kind of thing a guy who has raced across the Atlantic thinks is a proper test of sailors.

Greg Slygnstad, a veteran of a number of Voiles with his J/122 Hamachi, will be sailing his cat Fujin with an unusually large number of crew. Just kidding. These are the guys who built the cat at Gold Coast in St. Croix. 

© 2016 Fujin

Lloyd Thornburg’s record-smashing MOD70 Phaedo3 should easily pace the eight multihulls. Last night we bumped into Phaedo crewman Paul Allen of Santa Cruz, thinking it must have been a slow 80-mile delivery from Antigua because of the unusually light air. “It was great,” Allen said. “It blew 10 to 15 knots, so we were doing 25 knots.”

One of the most interesting multihull entries will be Greg Slyngstad’s Seattle-based Bieker 53 all-carbon catamaran Fujin, which will be tested against a Gunboat 60, an Outremer 50 and some one-offs. It’s going to be fun, especially since Greg and crew had a chance to tune up the new ‘fast cruising cat’ in the recent Heinie in St. Maarten.

We’re not sure who will be around from the Bay Area other than Allen and Kenny Keefe; the latter will be racing on the aging but still very successful TP52 Vesper.

That this kind of après-race entertainment would never fly at St. Francis YC’s Rolex Big Boat Series baffles the French, who think it’s perfectly normal. Last year there was male and female pole dancing, and there probably will be again this year. The gals got much more applause. 

© 2016 Voiles de St. Barth

When it comes to the Voiles, activities ashore are as important as those on the water, particularly for the oft-neglected crews. Topping the list are the famous Crew Night on Shell Beach and the lay day afternoon at the Nikki Beach restaurant, one of the most glamorous and chichi establishments in St. Barth. In addition to literal boats of sushi and huge bottles of champagne, there will be water polo, volleyball, Stand-Up Paddleboard Jousting (!), and an underwater treasure hunt for bottles of champagne. Naturally, there will be dockside concerts every night, pole dancing, videos of the day’s racing, and nonstop socializing.

Right now the wind is looking a little on the light side, but the weather picture is very complicated, so we’re looking forward to a lucky #7.

Gearing up for Delta Doo Dah 8

Buddy-boating in the Delta facilitates water fights, a most excellent way to keep your cool in the summer heat.

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Can this really be the eighth year of the Delta Doo Dah, Latitude 38’s summer cruising rally upriver? It’s hard to believe, but that’s what our abacus tells us. Registration has begun, it’s free to sign up, and, thanks to our DIY component, there’s no limit on the number of entries. Sailors can create their own itinerary and/or choose from a selection of organized activities.

Ann and Craig Perez’s entertaining and informative Delta seminar helps us kick off the cruising season.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

To share cruising tips and get in the Delta mood, we’ll co-host a kickoff party and seminar now moved to Berkeley Yacht Club and rescheduled to Sunday, May 22, from 4 to 7 p.m. We’re in the process of collecting door prizes to raffle off at the party; if you’re interested in donating a prize, please contact Doodette Chris at (415) 383-8200 x103 or by email.

The Bristol Channel Cutter Odyssey approaches the Benicia Bridge in last year’s ‘Doo Dah Ditch Run’.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For the second year, June 4’s Delta Ditch Run from RYC to Stockton Sailing Club will welcome Doo Dah sailors. Sign up for both and you’ll be doing the Doo Dah Ditch Run. Our friends at Owl Harbor will offer free slips on specific dates (including movie nights) and will host a BBQ on June 18. Then, on August 12, they’ll welcome fleet members for a stopover en route to SSC’s Hot Summer Nights on August 13.

Owl Harbor Marina sends cruisers off to Stockton with a hearty breakfast.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Delta Doo Dah 8 is still a work in progress, but you’ll already find much more info at Although registration is free, we highly recommend forking over the $20 for this year’s burgee, as it will help marinas recognize your boat as part of our fleet, make it easier for fleet members to spot each other and make new friends, and serve as a souvenir of your summer adventures.

This year’s burgee design. The 8-ball theme did indeed develop into an 8-Ball tournament at Little Venice Island on June 19.

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Strictly Sail Pacific opens tomorrow on the Richmond Riviera. latitude/Chris
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC Even as we write this, a van full of Latitude 38 magazines, shirts and hats has just pulled out of our world headquarters in Mill Valley, destined for the Richmond Riviera.