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May 20, 2016

Why Bother to Wear a Lifejacket?

If you are ever unlucky enough to fall into chilly Northern California waters, you’ll be damned glad you elected to wear your PFD. 

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you’re over 35, you may remember that during the 60s and 70s new cars were fitted with seat belts, but in California it wasn’t mandatory to wear them until the mid-80s — 1986 to be precise. Despite some initial resistance to wearing them, statistics quickly proved that buckling up was a very healthy idea. And today, of course, most drivers automatically clip in before they even fire up their engines.

This being the start of Boating Safety Week, we’re reminded of a parallel situation among boaters. Without question, the most effectual thing that any boater or personal-watercraft operator can do to minimize the odds of ending up in the morgue is to simply wear a life jacket. 

Don’t get us wrong; we aren’t advocating new laws that would force you to do so — or that boat ignition systems be rigged with annoying reminder bells — but if you look at the numbers we think you may be convinced that putting on a PFD before you leave the dock is a pretty wise habit to get into.

According to the Coast Guard’s 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics report, 76% of fatal boating accident victims drowned — and 85% of them were not wearing a life jacket. As in years past, boating accidents and fatalities among sailors last year were very low compared to other groups — especially jet ski operators. Nevertheless, it might be argued that one sailor’s death is too many. It’s your life, so it’s your call.

See this link for a detailed look at the stats. 

Hartjoy About to Make Landfall

We’re thrilled to report that after more than 200 days at sea alone, Washington-based sailor Jeff Hartjoy — who’s a longtime friend of Latitude 38 — is about to make landfall at Ecuador’s Bahia Caraquez, thus completing the nonstop circumnavigation that began there last Halloween. 

We’d imagine that Jeff — seen here goofing around while in Brazil with Debbie — might have a cocktail or two to celebrate his landfall. But first he’ll probably have a big glass of water, as he’s been practically running on empty for days. 

© 2016 Jeff Hartjoy

As reported earlier, when he crossed his outbound track on April 15 aboard his Perry-designed Baba 40 ketch, he became the oldest American to circle the globe via the Five Great Capes solo, nonstop and unassisted. Having known Jeff — aka El Jefe — since 1999, when he and his wife Debbie first headed south with the Baja Ha-Ha rally, we are immensely proud of him. And while it’s often said that "records are made to be broken," we suspect that Jeff’s distinction as a senior ‘circler’ won’t be challenged anytime soon. 

Look for more on Jeff’s remarkable journey and homecoming in the June issue of Latitude 38 magazine. You can read his blog here. Old guys rule!

Secrets of the Farallones

Island Yacht Club in Alameda will host the Singlehanded Farallones awards meeting on Wednesday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m. But the meeting is not just for the racers who rounded the islands on May 14, as a guest speaker will reveal the ‘Secrets of the Farallon Islands’.

A batch of solo racers escapes the confines of San Francisco Bay, bound for the Farallon Islands, on May 14.

© 2016

Russ Bradley, senior scientist and Farallon program manager, will tell all. Bradley has spent more than 1,500 nights on the islands and is an expert on predators (seabirds, marine mammals, white sharks) as well as the islands’ terrestrial ecosystem (land birds, insects, salamanders, plants). "Please come and enjoy Russ’s presentation, bring your questions and/or share your Farallon experiences and learn about the Farallon Patrol," says the commodore of the Singlehanded Sailing Society, Al Germain.

Conditions on race day were mellow at the islands, as seen from the deck of Ralph Morganstern’s Dehler Opti 34 Geodesic III.

© Ralph Morganstern

The event is free and open to everyone. IYC is located behind Svendsen’s Boat Works in the Alameda Marina. For more about the Singlehanded Farallones Race, see Racing Sheet in the June issue of Latitude 38, which will be published a week from today on May 27.

Can you identify the sailing club in today’s mystery photo? Here are a couple of hints: If you get the impression the club is on a river and is primarily for small boats, you’d be correct.
Sailing from Bethel Island to King Harbor on Old River. latitude/Chris
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC The Delta Doo Dah Kickoff Party will return to Berkeley Yacht Club this year, on Sunday, May 22, from 4 to 7 p.m.