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August 25, 2017

Wheels on Dinghies for Mexico

Even with dinghy wheels, it was a bit of a struggle for John and Gilly of Destiny to get their dinghy up the gravel beach at Punta Mita. Without wheels, it likely would have been impossible. 

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We think dinghy wheels are a good idea, although you’ll probably use them more in Mexico than anywhere else in the world. For example, you’ll almost never use them in French Polynesia. That’s John and Gilly of the Catalina 42 Destiny showing how to ‘wheel it’ at night in Punta Mita, Mexico.

Another option some cruisers like are the Aussie-made ‘sausages’ that you place in front of the dinghy sequentially, and on which you then roll the dinghy up the beach. Sorry, but we don’t have a photo.

Greg taking the Wanderer’s dinghy out through the surf. If it had been anybody else but Greg, we wouldn’t have even let them try. 

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

You do, however, want to be very careful when using a dinghy in areas where there is surf, which is most of the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The one photo shows Greg Retkowski borrowing the Wanderer’s dinghy for a trip out to a boat. As smart as Greg is, and he’s one smart dude, he misjudged an oncoming swell. Fortunately, the worst of it was that he and his crew got a shower.

Well, it looked as though there was a lull. When taking a dinghy out, you only have a few seconds between swells. Even if you hurry, you can be too late.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Greg was able to power through the swell. Lots of others haven’t been so lucky, and back-flipped with serious injuries. 

Luckily, Greg was able to make it over — actually through — the wave and into deeper water. It was a close call. 

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

All entries in the Baja Ha-Ha will receive a free guide on how to operate a dinghy safely in Mexico.

Protests Disrupt San Francisco Races

Usually when we talk about "protests" in the context of yacht racing, we’re talking about disagreements over rules and right of way between competitors, not the kind of protests with speeches, chanting, sign waving and yelling. But in this instance, that’s exactly what we’re talking about. 

Race protests are usually nonviolent; the other kind have the potential to disrupt traffic at best and to turn deadly violent at worst. Yesterday, San Francisco Bay ocean racers received the following message from OYRA president Andy Newell: "By now you have probably heard about the political rally and counter-protest planned for Crissy Field this Saturday. There is also an on-the-water demonstration off Crissy Field that could have hundreds of kayaks, SUPs and all manner of craft."

Tomorrow’s 23-boat OYRA race will not start off the St. Francis YC as originally planned.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Berkeley Yacht Club is hosting this race for us and our plan was to use the St. Francis YC race deck for our start and finish. StFYC has asked that we cancel or move the start for fear the race committee might have trouble getting to or getting out of the area.

"YRA and BYC are working on an alternate start and finish line and new courses that reflect this change. The Sailing Instructions were pulled down so that we make sure everybody gets the corrected set. We will get the revised SIs up as soon as we can. Check-in is still from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m." The OYRA would only change the date as a last resort, and no other dates were really available on the crowded race calendar.

This morning, Newell told us that BYC will take out their race committee boat. "We will start on schedule with the first gun at 9:40. Start and finish at OC-F. We will use one of three courses: Lightship, ship channel buoy 2, or ship channel buoy 8. Our thought is that we can stay out of the Cityfront mess and sneak in and out of the Bay on the north side. The committee boat will only be on station at the start. Racers will call the RC, which will be at BYC, with their finish time when they get back to OC-F. It’s not perfect, but it worked OK for the Half Moon Bay Race this year."

The StFYC clubhouse will be closed tomorrow and most of the staff, and the race committee volunteers, have been excused. Yacht Road, which is also the home of Golden Gate YC, will be closed and monitored by police. Marina Blvd. will be closed at 5 a.m.

The J/111 fleet is small but racing has been tight and exciting. One skipper came all the way from Australia.

© Chris Ray

StFYC has been hosting the J/111 Worlds this week, with eight boats racing on the Berkeley Circle. The club hosted an owners’ meeting on Wednesday night to address tomorrow’s situation. "We came from far and wide and we want to race," was the consensus. All are staying within walking distance of the club. So the plan is for a single distance race around fixed marks, avoiding the Cityfront after a start off the club in the morning. The finish will be farther south, perhaps off Treasure Island, then they might go to Hyde Street Marina for the night (South Beach Harbor didn’t have room for them). A final determination will be made tonight. Tonight’s Windsurf Slalom racing is not affected.

For updates about closures affecting the Crissy Field and Presidio areas, see

Texas Boaters Brace for Hurricane Harvey

We were on the phone with a marine insurance company in Florida yesterday when they mentioned they’d just received a call from a client in Texas. The client went out of his way to notify the company that he was overnighting his insurance payment.

Why would someone both call and overnight their payment? A blob on the weather radar might offer an explanation. We presume the client’s boat is berthed somewhere in the now colorful portion of Texas.

Occasionally, Mother Nature serves up a reminder to make sure your insurance is up to date. 

© 2017 NOAA

Hurricane Harvey is bearing down on the Texas Gulf Coast, with landfall predicted later today near Corpus Christi (in June, the Corpus Christi Yacht Club hosted the US Sailing National Youth Championships). Harvey is rated as a Category 3 hurricane or higher, according to the New York Times. Heavy rain and flooding are predicted as opposed to heavy winds — in which case it may be better to be in a boat.

But even with insurance, you never want you or your boat to be in the path of the eye of a hurricane. Our fingers are crossed for the Gulf Coast. Stay dry and safe, everyone.

World Sailor of the Year Nominations

World Sailing is inviting nominations for the 2017 Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards. There are two categories — male and female — and sailors nominated may represent any discipline of the sport. Nominations can be made by anyone but the sailor him- or herself. Those nominated for the 2017 Award must have performed an outstanding achievement in the sport of sailing between September 19, 2016, and August 31, 2017.

Click here to nominate a sailor, no later than 19:00 UTC on Friday, September 1, 2017 (that converts to noon PDT).

World Sailing will draw up a shortlist of nominations with the highest and most inspirational achievers going on to become the 2017 Rolex World Sailor of the Year Nominees. The winners will be announced on Tuesday, November 7, at the World Sailing Awards Ceremony in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Olympic gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe was the last American to be honored as Sailor of the Year — twice, in 2009 and 2011.

In our occasional ode to the lone, brave soul who ventures to the pointy end of the boat to take care of business, we bring you a scene from spring time racing on the Bay.