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August 30, 2017

Rescue off Alcatraz

Yesterday, the Santa Cruz 50 Bay Wolf — a charter boat operated by Captain Kirk San Francisco Sailing — was returning to Sausalito from San Francisco after dropping off their guests at Pier 40, when they heard a call on Channel 16. They were about a half mile to the north of Alcatraz when a commercial vessel, the Blue & Gold ferry Oski, described an overturned dinghy on the windward, southwest side of the island.

Captain Dogen Hannah, along with crew Natasha Pyle and Joe Ording, changed course to investigate. Earlier, they’d seen a few small boats sailing downwind on the weather side of Alcatraz as they motored toward Sausalito.  

Bay Wolf during a calmer moment of sailing.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Through binoculars, Ording spotted a small boat hard on shore, and saw someone clinging to a mark half in the water. Ording also saw another person climbing up the shore on the steep windward face of the island. Captain Hannah and crew maneuvered to weather and upcurrent of the sailor clinging to the buoy and, with the aid of a Lifesling, were able to pull him aboard. 

They found Holt Condon, who’d been out sailing with crew Harrison Turner aboard their 5o5 when they dismasted while dousing the spinnaker. They got separated from the boat — Holt made it to the buoy while Harrison made it to shore on Alcatraz. Harrison was later airlifted to safety by a Coast Guard helicopter.

You can just spot the 5o5 against the shore of Alcatraz.

© 2017 Joe Ording

Fortunately, both sailors were wearing wetsuits and PFDs, and both were in good shape, without any signs of hypothermia.

Captain Hannah expressed his thanks to the ferry Oski for making the initial call when they saw something suspicious. He also noted that at least one other recreational sailboat and up to six commercial vessels came to assist. It’s a reminder for everyone to monitor Channel 16 to listen for potential calls for help. 

It was a typical sunny, breezy, flood-tide day and we’re sure an awesome spinnaker run down the windward shore of Alcatraz — until it wasn’t. We’re glad to hear that there were alert boats on the Bay, proper attire on sailors, a skilled crew on the Bay Wolf and plenty of mariners ready to respond. 

Tropical Storm Bears down on La Paz

It seems that Harvey is not the only storm of note in the Northern Hemisphere at the moment. We’re receiving early reports that a tropical storm is headed for La Paz in Baja California, Mexico. 

Multiple storms making (or threatening to make) landfall in North America. Tropical Storm 14 is projected to hit La Paz late Thursday evening.  

© 2017 National Hurricane Center

The National Hurricane Center says that Tropical Cyclone Fourteen is projected to crawl up the Baja peninsula over the next few days, with landfall projected on Thursday evening. Winds in La Paz are forecast to reach up to 50 miles an hour by late Thursday and early Friday, according to

If you are in the La Paz area and can safely correspond with us about the warnings, preparations and conditions as the storm approaches, please let us know.

Our best wishes to everyone in Mexico. Please stay safe.   


September Racing Preview

As we look forward to Labor Day Weekend, we see that the Folkboat International Regatta continues at Corinthian YC through Friday; the 75th Windjammers Race from San Francisco to Santa Cruz will start on Friday. On Saturday, the Jazz Cup will carry Bay racers inland instead of out to the ocean, to a party at Benicia YC.

Colorful spinnakers parade past Richmond on their way to Benicia in last year’s Jazz  Cup.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Time is running out to sign up for St. Francis Yacht Club’s Rolex Big Boat Series. Eligible competitors must enter online at before Tuesday, September 6. We’ll have a stand-alone preview of the regatta in a future ‘Lectronic Latitude post.

The new Pac52s may be getting all the press, but it’s the J/105 fleet that’s a mainstay of the Rolex Big Boat Series, with 24 boats signed up so far.


The Tahoe Laser Fleet Championships are coming up on the weekend of September 8-10. "Bring your family for this fun event. Biking, hiking, water skiing, SUPs, kayaking etc.," entices fleet captain and Tahoe YC Commodore Rick Raduziner, "all right from the campsite." Stampede Reservoir is the locale, "25 minutes from Truckee. The water level is high. The typical wind is 10-16 knots with puffs on flat water."

On September 16, the single- and doublehanders of the SSS will sail to Half Moon Bay. The skipper’s meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 13, at Island YC in Alameda.

Tom Boussie on the Capo 30 Joujou sails past Pillar Point on the way to the finish of last year’s SSS Half Moon Bay Race.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Etchells Founders/Pre-Worlds on September 16-17 will serve as a prelude to the Worlds. On September 22-30, teams are coming to SFYC from China, Hong Kong, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and even Nigeria. "Competitors walking our docks will be past world champions and veterans of America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean and Olympic racing," commented co-chairs Steve Fentress and Julie Wiard in the SFYC Bulletin.

Richmond YC invites you to go Totally Dinghy on September 23-24.

The dog days of summer are winding down, which means the close of the 2017 YRA racing season is on the horizon. "We invite you to come be a part of the last hurrah of the YRA racing year and join us for the Season Closer," says the YRA. Race to Point Bonita and back to CYC on September 30 and race in the Knox area on October 1. On the same weekend, StFYC will host the Pac52 Cup.

For much more, see our 2017 Calendar, and pick up the September issue on Friday. The monthly Calendar starts on page 12.

Hurricane Harvey Still Wreaking Havoc

Editor’s Note: A picture has been removed from this posting because it was brought to our attention that it was either a fake, or from a different storm entirely.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Louisiana early this morning, and continues to linger over southeast Texas. An estimated 30 people have been killed, and Harvey has already set a record for total rainfall in the continental United States — over 50 inches and counting — from a single tropical storm, according to the the National Weather Service. Another 15 to 25 inches of additional rain has been forecast over upper Texas and Louisiana through Friday, according to NPR. Officials say that the counties surrounding the Houston area are simply in survival mode, and that the true extent of casualties and damage will not be known for weeks.

Photos from Alex Crowell — the owner and operator of Bahama Rigging — from the Texas Corinthian Yacht Club in Kemah, Texas (approximately 30 miles south of Houston), on Friday, August 25.

© 2017 Alex Crowell

Texas’s coastal and boating communities were originally in the crosshairs of a storm that was quickly upgraded from a category 2 to a category 4 late last week. Corpus Chisti — a hub for sailing and boating on the Gulf Coast — emerged with relatively minor damage.

"The full assault of the storm’s 100-mile-per-hour-plus winds instead descended on Rockport and Port Aransas to the north, partially collapsing buildings, launching boats into parking lots, shredding RV parks and leaving at least one person dead," USA Today reported.  

There have also been volunteer efforts to rescue pets in the Houston area.

© 2017 The Yardner

Locally, the several California-based Coast Guard units — including Air Stations in Humboldt Bay, San Francisco and San Diego — deployed on Monday for Texas. "These California-based Coast Guard crews, aircraft and response gear will join thousands of other Coast Guard and partner agency first responders from around the nation to help the people of the Gulf coast," Rear Admiral Todd Sokalzuk, the commander of the 11th Coast Guard District, said in a press release.

It’s been widely reported that there are flotillas of volunteers taking to the streets, in their boats, to rescue people stranded in their homes and cars, in what’s being called the ‘Texas Navy‘. The ‘Cajun Navy‘, which includes volunteers from Louisiana, has also descended on Houston.


A Texas student told Trade Only Today that he had rescued an estimated 200 people on his boat over the course of two days. "’We were actually launching boats off on I-45 on an overpass,’ Kyle Holmes, a 22-year-old Texas A&M student, told Trade Only Today late Monday afternoon after nearly 11 hours of rescues. ‘So we were backing boats down the ramp on the Interstate. The feeder roads were five feet deep. It’s unbelievable.’

"Holmes described boats pulling up to second-story porches in apartment buildings because the water was so deep; residents of the first floor were crammed up on the top."

The start of a Friday night race in front of Encinal YC. In the background, the construction of Oakland’s new Brooklyn Basin development can be seen.
"I’m looking for a slip."  latitude/Richard
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC There are all kinds of harbormasters in the world, but not many of them are as accommodating as Dick Markie of Paradise Marina in Nuevo Vallarta.
These days, when it seems like the washing machine you bought last week is already broken, it’s a little mind blowing that a 131-year-old sailing ship looks like she was launched yesterday.