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June 20, 2016

The Final Plank Is In

When it came time to attach the whiskey plank, everybody wanted to get into the act. Who wouldn’t?

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

At least 350 supporters were on hand Saturday night to witness the attachment of the final plank — the so-called "whiskey plank" — onto the 100-ft brigantine Matthew Turner‘s hull. As you’ve probably guessed, once the 3-inch-thick Douglas-fir plank was bolted in place with 6-inch bronze bolts, those 350 supporters raised a toast of whiskey to this major benchmark in the build process. With any luck, she’ll be fully operational about this time next year.

The backstory on conceiving and building the Matthew Turner is extremely impressive for many reasons, two of which are that much of the work has been done by volunteer labor, and the project has been completely funded by donations, large and small, from private citizens. Once she’s completed, her mission will be to introduce West Coast youth to the magic of sailing, while weaving in aspects of local history and marine science. In addition, she’ll eventually offer offshore expeditions for sailors of all ages.

Once completed, the Matthew Turner will carry a brigantine rig: square sails on the foremast, with a Marconi main on the mainmast.

Matthew Turner Project
©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The brainchild of Sausalito’s Alan Olson, this ship borrows its lines from its namesake’s creations during the late 1800s. He was the West’s most prolific boatbuilder, and his designs brought products to market — including sugar from Hawaii and fruit from Tahiti — faster than any competing vessels.

If you missed the fun this weekend, no worries, the build site tent (near Sausalito’s Marina Plaza) is open to the public six days a week. Visitors are always welcome, but we warn you. Many past visitors have been so impressed with the project, that they’ve made volunteering to help move her toward completion a priority in their lives. Read more about the brigantine in the July issue of Latitude 38, and see the official website for additional details.

A look at the 6-foot-high wheel gives you an idea of the size of the Turner.

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Race to Alaska Begins Thursday

The big races to Hawaii — the Singlehanded TransPac, Vic-Maui Race, and Pacific Cup — don’t start until July, but this very Thursday a different kind of Pacific passage race will depart Port Townsend, WA. At 6 a.m., a motley assortment of 56 craft (most with sails but some without) will point their bows toward Victoria, BC. Their second challenge will be to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Their third challenge will be getting into and out of Victoria without sailing (it’s forbidden in the harbor). The fourth challenge, for 44 of the teams, will be to sail the rest of the way to Ketchikan, AK, through the Inside Passage to complete the Race to Alaska.

Last year’s Stage 2 start in Victoria wasn’t exactly exciting. These trimarans were among the fastest boats last year, the other being a Hobie 33.

© Nick Reid

"But wait!" you say. "What about the first challenge?"

Well, that would be surviving the Pre-Race Ruckus this Wednesday from 3 to 8 p.m. The Northwest Maritime Center (organizers of the race) and Pope Marine Park will be the setting for a send-off party that invites guests to "Let loose like you’re about to set sail for Alaska… with people who are actually about to set sail for Alaska!" Admission is free. Check out some of the boats, enjoy some food and drinks, dance to the sounds of Down North, and put some faces to the tracker icons you’ll be seeing during the race. "The Pre-Race Ruckus is all the spirit of the Race to Alaska, 10% of the danger," promises the invitation.

Yes, Team Later Dudes really plans to race this plywood contraption to Alaska.

© 2016 Race to Alaska

We’ve told you about the Race to Alaska before, but in case you’ve forgotten, the competitors must sail, paddle and/or row 750 miles without an engine or outside support. No coach boats in this race! Whoever gets there first wins $10,000. Second place gets a set of steak knives. Fifteen boats completed the full course in the first R2AK last year, and every one of them set a ‘World Record’. Don’t believe it? Check out the results here.

Team MAD Dog’s cat, a Marstrom 32, is known as Miller Racing while competing on San Francisco Bay.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In a prologue update organizers reported that "Port Townsend is the only place where on any given day you’ll see multiple sailboats rowing around the waterfront. Rowing." They also report that the fastest entry in the race dropped out last week during the delivery north from Los Angeles.  "Team Tritium Racing experienced multiple failures: foiling daggerboards, rudders, maybe more, then limped their way into cell range to call off their 73-ft campaign. No one hurt, the boat will live to fight another day, but with a different crew and a different race." The cat had put into Santa Barbara for repairs before continuing on north. Then they hit 30-knot winds at Point Conception and broke their bow sprit.

The Good Cruising Life in Montenegro

Debbie pours the wine in "fairy-tale-like" Montenegro.

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Two of the great things about cruising in Europe are the food and the wine. Just ask ‘the good life’ experts Greg Dorland and Debbie Macrorie of the Squaw Valley-based Catalina 52 Escapade.

In the photo above you can see the “partially demolished seafood feast” they enjoyed in Kotor, Montenegro. (Or maybe it was Perast.) Debbie is pouring a bottle of $22 wine that is said to be the best local stuff. While expensive by Paris standards, it’s much less expensive than Greg and Debbie are used to in the States.

After returning to their boat near La Spezia, Italy, after a winter of skiing at Cortina in the Dolomite Mountains, the couple continued on to Brindisi, near the boot of Italy. They then flew to Paris in a second ill-fated attempt to get a French Long Stay Visa renewed. During their visit, the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca had the pleasure of showing them Paris from the decks of Majestic Dalat. It was lucky we did it when we did, because the flooding started the next day, and even two weeks later travel on the Seine is somewhat dangerous.

After returning to Brindisi, Greg and Debbie had a nice sail — 15 knots from behind — to Montenegro. "So far it’s been a pretty good year for sailing," says Greg.

Although Greg and Debbie wish Montenegro restaurants “were run by Italians” because Italians are so damn friendly and hospitable, they still say Perast is a “fairy tale place.”

Greg and Debbie have sailed Escapade to a lot of places — California, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America and Panama, Cuba, the Northeast United States, across the Atlantic, and around the Western Med — and have found Montenegro to be one of the most attractive.

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

To reciprocate for our minor hospitality, Greg and Debbie have invited the Wanderer and de Mallorca to join them for a week on Escapade in Croatia. It would be rude to turn them down, wouldn’t it? So we’re doing our best to make arrangements. Besides, Croatia would be a prime place for drone photographs of boats and anchorages.

While Greg and Debbie have invested huge quantities of time and expense to be in compliance with Schengen-Area visa requirements, many other boatowners are blowing the requirements off. The other day we met a guy from Florida with a boat near our Majestic Dalat in the Arsenal Marina in Paris who says he’s been overstaying his 90-day visa for nine years — and never had a problem.

"But I fly out of Charles de Gaulle or Milan. You wouldn’t want to try to overstay your visa and fly out of Germany, Switzerland or other countries where they take laws seriously. You could also get into trouble on the Atlantic Coast of France."

Then we asked him about the two licenses that are required to legally navigate a boat on the rivers and canals of Europe. One is an international certificate of competency, the other is a CENVI license for inland waters.

“I don’t have either," he laughed. "And in all these years, nobody has ever asked to see them.”

It sort of looks like a cruise ship headed past Angel Island toward the Golden Gate, but it’s actually heading through the narrow channel at Kotor, Montenegro. And yes, that’s fog. 

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Chris and Linda Hammond have a barge they live on in Paris for nine months a year, oddly spending the summer at their home in Sausalito. Chris finally got his license, but said it was a joke. The school he attended to take the test guaranteed everybody would pass. How could they not? They left the rule book right out on the table when students took the test.

We don’t know what the cost of cruising is in Montenegro yet, but here in France it’s surprisingly inexpensive. According to our previously mentioned friend, there are lots of places to stay in France for free — even though you get water and electricity.

It’s hard to think of a boat more deserving of a rainbow’s end than Patsy ‘La Reina del Mar’ Verhoven’s Gulfstar 50 Talion.