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January 23, 2017

Fake Weather Threatens Midwinters

This was the favored tack for Division B on Sunday, misleading some later starters.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Weekend weather forecasts threatened more torrential rains, 40-knot gusts, severe weather and a small craft advisory. We have alternative facts. Fortunately Corinthian Yacht Club was able to hack the Bay Area weather and slip in two days of classic, partly sunny midwinter racing between threatening storm clouds.

A significant ebb, reinforced by brown runoff, ruled the afternoons, causing a good number of individual recalls on the starting line off Angel Island and interesting strategy decisions on courses headed to Yellow Bluff off Sausalito or Blackaller Buoy off San Francisco’s Crissy Field. Breezes were comfortable to a bit light on both days with starts generally in sunshine and finishes under gray skies, with light rain on Sunday.

CYC’s commodore, Jim Erskine, aboard his Cal 33 Kira, braved the worst of the weather on Sunday, a mild shower and gentle breeze, to take second on both days in Non-Spinnaker 2.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Thirteen classes competed for the win, and despite the always-present wind and current wild cards some perennial favorites landed the top spots. Hank Easom’s new Sabre 36 Serenade took a one/two and, of course, Kame Richards (who also sponsored Saturday’s keg of free beer) took two bullets on the Express 37 Golden Moon.

Hank Easom showed everyone again that beautiful boats, in the right hands, can also be very hard to beat.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

On Sunday the Division B start with the first mark at Blackaller showed the wisdom of starting toward the pin and heading straight to the Cityfront. This influenced a few later classes with their first mark at Yellow Bluff who headed toward the City but were often trounced by the starters who went straight to the Marin Headlands. Cinde Lou Delmas on the Alerion Express 38 Another Girl demonstrated this in PHRF 3 with a bold port-tack start toward the Headlands while watching the rest of her fleet sail off to oblivion on starboard. The result was a wire-to-wire, never-look-back win by almost five minutes. There were similar stories in many classes.

Cinde Lou Delmas and friends aboard her glistening green Alerion 38 Another Girl, looking serene before the start, smacked the rest of her class with a shrewd port-tack start.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The ultimate lesson from the weekend is never trust the weather or the news or anything you just read. Ignore it all and go sailing on the weekend.

Where’s Your Fave Small-Boat Launch?

From recent research we’ve learned that many longtime California sailors were introduced to the sport aboard small, simple-to-master boats such as Sunfish, El Toros and Lasers, which were launched off public beaches or launch ramps. 

Today, though, there seems to be a general perception that public access to Bay and Delta waters is diminishing. Of course, whether you agree with that assertion probably has a lot to do with where you live. Some areas have multiple options for easy, small-boat access to public waterways, while others do not.

Because we’re strong advocates of small-boat sailing, we’ve begun to assemble a list of favorite launch sites throughout the Bay and Delta, with input from ‘Lec Lat and Latitude 38 readers — and we’d love to hear your recommendations also. Please write us here, and if possible, send along a few photos.

On a sunny summer afternoon, ‘Lec Lat reader John Todd ghosts away from Lake Hennessey’s public dock. He claims that a nice breeze comes up most summer afternoons — and there’s never any power-boat traffic. 

© 2017 Courtesy John Todd

A fine example of an enticing spot that we’d never heard of came from reader John Todd: "My favorite launch site is at Lake Hennessey, in Napa Valley. It’s a small, pretty lake — a reservoir, actually — which is the City of Napa’s main water supply. There is usually reliable afternoon breeze all summer, and you are likely to be the only sailboat on the lake. Power boats are not allowed." Ironically, Lake Hennessey is so swollen with rain water this week that it’s temporarily closed, but this and other Northern California lakes will be more inviting than ever this spring, as lake levels throughout the state will be higher than they’ve been in years!

Got other recommendations? Send them on over!

The Wanderer Battles Boat Lust

The Hughes 42 Feet, the object of the Wanderer’s boat lust. 

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Already the owner of 3.5 boats — the 63-ft cat Profligate in Mexico and California, the 45-ft Leopard 45 cat ‘ti Profligate in Antigua/St. Barth, the Volkcruiser 42 Majestic Dalat just outside Paris, and sort of the Olson 30 La Gamelle in St. Barth — and approaching his Summer of 69, the Wanderer figured he was finished with his lifetime of buying boats.

But his boat lust was suddenly revived when Bill Anderson dropped the price on his Kurt Hughes-designed 42-ft cat Feet from $140,000 to just $80,000. Feet is an unusual-looking performance-based cat that Anderson built near Port Chicago and has been living aboard and cruising for the last 14 years.

Thanks to a ‘fully loaded’ displacement of just 10,000 pounds, a 4-ft-taller-than-called-for mast, and no engine props dragging in the water, Feet is very fast for her length, and unusually so for a cat in light air. She’s also got a camber-spar self-tacking jib, and kick-up rudders, so if one goes to the trouble of really raising the daggerboards, she can draw as little as two feet.

Unlike most cats her size, Feet only has two double bunks, but they are large. And to keep her sleek, the top of her cockpit is lower than ideal for someone 6’4” like the Wanderer. A diesel or two would be better than the brand-new high-thrust outboard, in the Wanderer’s opinion, and dinghy davits would be nice, too. Nonetheless, the idea of rocketing around the Eastern Caribbean on Feet has an enormous attraction to the Wanderer.

Feet is a bit of a bachelor boat, so the Wanderer was a bit surprised when Doña de Mallorca, who can be persnickety, didn’t blow the idea of a purchase out of the water. "Feet is neat, and I like the idea that the Wanderer is still up for this kind of adventuring," she said.

If the Wanderer were five years younger and five inches shorter — headroom in the hulls is no problem — he would have already handed the cash over to Anderson. Having mentioned a possible purchase on his Facebook page, the Wanderer immediately received strong interest from three excellent candidates to deliver the boat from La Cruz to St. Barth sometime in the next 12 months.

The top delivery candidates would be Danny North, who sailed a similar outboard-powered cat nearly 30,000 ocean miles, including upwind through the Red Sea; Brian Charette, who has sailed his outboard-powered 40-ft Cat 2 Fold cat down the coast from California and all over Mexico for years; and last but not least, Caribbean multihull and otherwise legend DRandy West, the owner of an outboard-powered 74-ft cat, Pplau, who wrote to say he’d do the delivery "for tacos and gas" after the America’s Cup this summer.

(Why have someone else enjoy the adventure of such a delivery? The Wanderer’s boat calendar is full until next February, at which time he’d need the boat in St. Barth, not six weeks away in La Cruz. Yeah, yeah, we know, multiple-boat-owner problems, no tears for us.)

Anyway, the Wanderer is thinking this deal probably isn’t going to happen because he doesn’t want to go through all the hassles of selling his Leopard 45 ‘ti Profligate, especially since he can’t actively list her with a broker until after he’s done using her in the Caribbean in May. However, if anyone were to suddenly come along and say, "I’ll buy your 2000 Leopard 45 for $195,000 when you’re done with her at the end of May," everything would change.

Since that’s not likely to happen, Feet is still on the market. While she won’t appeal to everyone, the Wanderer thinks she’s a terrific deal for anyone looking for a performance cat rather than an ‘average white cruising cat’ with four double-cabins with showers ensuite. Not that there is anything wrong with the latter.

While Feet‘s main outboard is new and the boat comes with two dinghies and two other outboards, Anderson admits that she needs new sails. If the Wanderer bought her, he would immediately replace the standing rigging on the Ballenger Spar. It probably wouldn’t cost that much since the boat is so light that the rigging isn’t that heavy. Structurally, the boat seems solid. She only has three thru-hulls, all of them above the waterline. And just a year ago Bill spent $20,000 having the exterior painted.

If you’re interested in what the Wanderer thinks would be a screaming — she’s done 19 knots — budget cruiser for a couple or even a family of four, you can email Bill in La Cruz. Understandably, he doesn’t want to be overwhelmed with curious ‘lookie-loos’, so please, serious inquiries only from people ready to fly to Puerto Vallarta right away.

Bill wants to sell the boat because at age 72 he’s gotten interested in snow skiing again. He used to be a skiing instructor. He tells the Wanderer that his only famous client was Sonny Bono, who you may remember killed himself by skiing into a tree.

If at first you don’t succeed. . . Third time was the charm for Armel Le Cléac’h, who completed his lap around the world yesterday in record time.
It breaks our hearts every time a vintage wooden yacht is left to rot, or worse yet, is chopped into dumpster-sized pieces for lack of a better alternative.
We don’t know yet why the 48-ft sailboat Bobo Link sank Wednesday less than three miles off the Big Island of Hawaii — conditions on the scene appear to have been calm at the time — but the incident brings to light several important reminders for all offshore sailors.