April 21, 2017

Circling the Globe on a 24-Footer

During much of Webb Chiles’ trip up the South Atlantic weather conditions were mild — sometimes so mild, in fact, that tiny Gannet could sail with her hatches open. 

© 2017 Webb Chiles

"The Moore 24 ‘Southern Hemisphere Fleet’ went out of existence at 12:35 p.m. on April 1 when Gannet crossed the Equator and returned to the weirder hemisphere after an almost three-year absence," So wrote five-time circumnavigator Webb Chiles in an email this morning. The unflappable, 75-year-old minimalist — who has authored a half-dozen books on his adventures — has now crossed the equator 15 times.

If you’ve been following his route, as we have, you know that Gannet left Durban, South Africa, two months ago, covering 6,423 miles with a single pit stop at the mid-ocean island of St. Helena.

Sailing 3,859 miles nonstop from St. Helena to St. Lucia in a 24-ft buoy racer? No problem — at least not for a veteran small-boat circumnavigator such as Webb Chiles.

© 2017 YB Tracking

"Even more pleasing because it wasn’t planned, but serendipitous, is that we have sailed more than half the world from Darwin, Australia, to St. Lucia with only two stops: Durban and St. Helena.

"Anchored at Darwin, Australia at 130º49’E, we are now at 60º57’W. That is more than 191º of longitude. We have also swung from 12ºS latitude to 35ºS, then up to 14ºN. Daily runs from Darwin to St. Lucia total 12,337 miles; all miles since leaving San Diego total 22,016. Not bad for a little boat intended to day race around buoys." 

With any luck, Chiles will complete his sixth lap around the planet sometime next spring when he returns to San Diego via the Panama Canal — making a strong case for the notion that ‘old guys rule’. You go, Webb! For more on his adventures see his official website

Budgets as Clear as Mud

There is federal money available to dredge silted-up Bay Area waterways, but boaters will have to act fast, before April 28!  

If you’ve never sailed up the San Rafael Canal to Terrapin Crossroads let this sailboat serve as a warning. You could end up high and dry. But, with some dredging, listening to Phil Lesh from one of their slips would be cool. 

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Petaluma River, San Rafael Canal and the Richardson Bay Channel have all been designated by Congress as Federal Navigation Channels. In 1986, Congress created a funding mechanism to pay for the maintenance of these channels. The Harbor Maintenance Tax is an ad-valorum tax on imports into the United States that arrive by vessel. This tax is supposed to pay for 100% of the cost of navigation maintenance. Of course, when working with Congress, nothing is the way one would assume. Congress has to appropriate the funds every year and they have not been appropriating all of the tax collected. The estimate is that there is nine billion dollars’ worth of taxes and interest on the taxes collected that Congress has not appropriated.

Amazingly, just as we were grabbing a shot of the ‘high-and-dry’ Terrapin Crossroads up-in-the-air yacht we noticed the 50-ft center-cockpit Billie Too had anchored mid-canal just 50 yards from a cold Lagunitas IPA on tap. 

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In California, more than $400 million per year of Harbor Maintenance Tax is collected. The President, in his Budget Request, has asked for less than 25% of the taxes to be returned to maintaining Federal Navigation Channels in California.

The current Federal Fiscal Year, which ends on September 20, 2017, has only been funded by Congress until April 28, 2017, meaning that in one week Congress has to take action to appropriate more money.

If boaters and their friends are interested, in addition to contacting their individual Members of Congress, I heartily recommend they contact the House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. The phone number for the Congressional switchboard is (202) 224-3121.

The message is simple:  We want Congress to appropriate 100% of the Harbor Maintenance Tax for its intended purpose of maintaining Federal Channels. There is no reason for such a disparity in the amount of taxes collected in California versus the taxes returned, especially when Congress has not spent up to nine billion of taxes and accumulated interest.

This is a case where there just hasn’t been enough mudslinging in Congress.

Legends of Sailing Go at It Today

If you’re in the vicinity of the San Francisco Cityfront this afternoon around 2 p.m., on land or sea, you might want to take a moment to witness some legendary sailors doing their thing. St. Francis Yacht Club is hosting the ‘Legends of Sailing’ in a special invitational event held in the club’s fleet of J/22s — the ones with the rubber bumpers.

If you see 10 of these J/22s maneuvering on the Cityfront this afternoon, now you know what they’re doing.

© Chris Ray

In this case ‘legends’ have put together teams of skippers and crew, some of whom are already legends themselves and some of whom are probably future legends. Many of the names will be familiar to our readers:

  • Legend Terri Anderlini’s team, the Eliminators, is made up of Craig Healy (skipper), Chris Smith, Seadon Wijsen and Chris Trezzo. Purple.
  • Legend Paul Heineken’s Team Foil is composed of Mike Martin (skipper), Adam Lowry, Joey Pasquali and Johnny Heineken. Heineken green.
  • John McNeill’s Amazon team is all-female: Pam Healy (skipper), Jody McCormack, Betsy Weiler and Elizabeth Little. Hot pink.
  • Steve Taft’s Wankers Away team is made up of Chris Perkins (skipper), Jon Perkins, Phil Perkins and (unknown; what — did he run out of Perkinses?). Yellow.
  • Jim Cascino’s Solid Gold Dancers are Russ Silvestri (skipper), Mario Yovkov, John Collins and 12-year-old Ethan Sargent. Gold, of course.
  • Doug Holm’s Holmboys are Paul Cayard (skipper), Doug Holm, Steve Marsh and Norm Davant. Black.
  • Cinde Lou Delmas’ More Girls are Molly Carapiet (skipper), Molly Vandemoer, Helena Scutt and Juliana Testa. Orange
  • Sean Svendsen’s Cardinal Flame Throwers are Dave Kelly, Tyler Baeder and Kieran Chung, and Svendsen himself is the skipper. Cardinal.
  • Bruce Munro’s Red Hots are Shawn Bennett (skipper), Connor Bennett, Tom Purdy and Dave Gruver. Red, of course.
  • John Siegel’s Flock of Siegels are Caleb Paine (skipper), Michael Menninger, Erica Mattson Siegel and John Siegel. Blue.

There, we’ve used up our allotment of name-dropping all in one place! The colors help sort out who’s who when the game begins.

The current commodore of StFYC, James Kiriakis, chose the legends, and the legends chose their team members. "The thought is that the Legends are like NFL team owners, in charge of fielding a team and managing their play on the field," explained Russ Silvestri. "What happens when you match Knarr sailors against foiling kiteboarders? Or commodores against a chairman of the board? The answer, my friends, will be blowing in the wind at the Legends Regatta."

With all sails flying, the 1979 10-ft LOD Pacifier was seen sailing in the America’s Schooner Cup on April 1 in San Diego.
While adjusting the dials on the ‘wayback’ machine as we dug into the archives for stories and anecdotes for Latitude 38’s 40th-anniversary features, we discovered we’re sharing our decade anniversary with a good number of other businesses and organizations that also started in years ending in the lucky number ‘7’.
The Vallejo Summer Beer Cans are in full swing!  Last Wednesday, about 10 boats slugged it out under steady breeze and ominous skies that threatened rain (but never delivered).