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September 25, 2017

Fall Sailing

There are plenty of boats headed south for cruising season, while others are out just enjoying idyllic, sunny fall breezes. Lone Star was lookin’ good while out for a Saturday evening sail off Angel Island when she lined up midspan in the autumn light.  

Fall is the perfect time to get your boat on the Bay.  Don’t miss the season.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Earlier that morning and headed south were Nicholas and Allison Edwards aboard their Beneteau 393 Salt. Nick explained: "Allison and I went on our first date six years ago, and it didn’t take long for conversation to land on sailing and our shared dream of going cruising. Coincidentally, we were both fortunate enough to be second-generation cruisers.

"In the years since we’ve worked, planned and dreamed, and attended to minor details like getting married and buying a boat. And after years of enviously reading dispatches from Latitude, we knew the Baja Ha-Ha would be the perfect send-off rally. On September 23, we caught the slack tide out of the Golden Gate, proudly flying our Ha-Ha burgee en route to San Diego and adventures beyond."

Calm, sunny smiles launch a season voyage south for Allison and Nick aboard Salt. 

© 2017 Allison Edwards

We’ll be looking forward to seeing Nick and Allison at the Baja Ha-Ha kick-off party in San Diego on October 29, and hope to see Lone Star on the Bay again soon.

A Young Girls’ ‘Mafia’ in the Ha-Ha?

It could be. So far there are 10 girls on boats that have signed up for late October’s Baja Ha-Ha from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. Their ages are 14, 14, 13, 12, 10, 10, 8, 7, 6 and 5. Wow, that’s a lot, and pretty much bunched into a close age range.

The Poobah is really excited about it because he knows how important socializing is to growing kids. And how for parents with kids, finding other ‘kid boats’ is all-important. ‘Cause if momma ain’t happy, nobody is happy. And if the kids aren’t happy, momma isn’t happy.

Nobody cares about dear old dad.

In addition to the girls, there are seven boys, although two of them are just a year old and one is 2 years old, so they won’t be the social butterflies the older girls will be. But there is also a 13-, a 10-, an 8- and a 7-year-old, so the boys will have companions, too.

In past Ha-Ha’s, the kids have had a great time setting up their own radio net and enjoying games and adventures on the beach.

The Grand Poobah will be happy to work with any ‘kid boat’ parents who want to plan activities for the kids. And if there is enough interest, we can host a Jump off the Back of Profligate and Swim to Candy Island event during the stop at Bahia Santa Maria.

If you’re a ‘kid boat’, there’s still time to sign up for the Ha-Ha at

Etchells Worlds: The Heat Is On

The forecast for this week’s Etchells World Championship being hosted by the San Francisco Yacht Club on the Berkeley Circle is hot. Hot weather, and hot competition.

The regatta starts today with a 2 p.m. practice race for the 51-boat star-studded fleet. Following the practice, nine races are scheduled from Tuesday through Saturday. Among the fleet is prior champion and 2015 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Steve Benjamin; Peter Duncan, who’s just returning from winning the J/70 Worlds in Puerto Cervo; Iain Murray, who ran the America’s Cups on the Bay in 2013 and in Bermuda in 2017; plus many more with a shot at the top spot. "Any of the top 25 boats could win this regatta and no one would be surprised," said local Bay Area sailor Don Jesberg, who will count three-time Etchells World Champion Bill Hardesty among his crew on Viva.

It was breeze on at the Etchells Founders/Pre-Worlds regatta on September 16-17, won by Steve Benjamin (see results here). Hopefully the wind will kick up on the Berkeley Circle this week too.

© Roxanne Fairbairn / SFYC

Other Bay Area competitors include Bill Barton, with nine Etchells Worlds under his belt, who will be sailing aboard his boat, the oldest in the competition, #666 Natural Revival, but this time as crew to skipper Chris Kostanecki. Craig Healy just returned from the Six Metre Worlds in Vancouver and will be out there aboard I Love My Wife. And Travis Lund, executive director of Treasure Island Sailing Center, is taking up the challenge aboard Foxy Lady.

Regular Bay Area competitors may have to adjust their normal Bay Area heavy-air expertise and recalibrate for light-air performance. If you get on the Bay to escape the heat this week, you could get some good race schooling by spectating on the Berkeley Circle. Just keep your distance, as the competition will be heated.

Hammer Time

While he’s always a gentleman, Fin can nonetheless swing an encouraging sledge hammer when required.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A big problem arose on Profligate about two weeks ago after the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca had spent the night on Harbor Reef, the approximate halfway point in their journey from San Diego to Santa Barbara. The trip was to position Profligate, the mothership, for the start of the fifth SoCal Ta-Ta.

The early morning start of the second leg was thwarted when the windlass refused to respond to the push of the button. All it did was go "click." Upon inspection there was no mystery, as the windlass motor appeared to be little more than a few bits of metal held together by large chunks of rust.

Still, the failure was a bit of a surprise, because part of Profligate’s maintenance regime during her long off-season is to have both engines started and the windlass given a little workout each week. The Wanderer believes that like human body parts, the more marine equipment is used, the better it works and the longer it lasts.

A malfunctioning windlass is not a good thing on Profligate, because she sports the biggest Fortress anchor there is. While it only weighs 55 pounds, its shank is nearly six feet long.

Normally the Wanderer would have just jerked the anchor off the bottom and onto the boat, but a sore right shoulder put this easy solution out of reach, so to speak.

As the Wanderer started to make preparations to try to retrieve the anchor 10 feet at a time by using a claw and an electric winch, he remembered that Fin Bevin, longtime Profligate crewmember on Baja Ha-Ha’s, was on his Cal 40 Radiant at nearby Howlands Landing. Knowing a third person would come in handy, we summoned Fin, and he even interrupted his breakfast preparations to come over.

As Fin and the Wanderer worked on refining the theoretical aspects of jury-rigging a system to raise the anchor with an electric windlass, de Mallorca remembered once hearing that sometimes recalcitrant electric motors could, like recalcitrant crew, be coaxed back to work by the tappings of a hammer-like instrument.

Being a woman, de Mallorca gave Fin a plastic mallet, the ‘lady’ version of a hammer. Fin gave the windlass motors a few taps, but that did nothing.

The Wanderer had never seen that ‘hit the electric motor with a hammer’ trick work, but said, “Since the motor isn’t working, it won’t hurt if you hit it like you mean it. Here, use the baby sledge.”

Fin, who is known as ‘FinGyver’ on Profligate for his ability to make sophisticated repairs of all kinds with the most improbable parts and basic tools, accepted the sledge. It was a more brutal tool than he’s used to using, but he gave the motor a couple of whacks.

Damn if that windlass motor didn’t respond by getting right back to work like it was supposed to! Sort of the mechanical version of ’spare the rod, spoil the child’.

We’ve gained new respect for the baby sledge, which an old captain of ours called the ‘International Tool’. Given its success with the windlass motor, we plan on employing it the next time other metal objects don’t perform as expected. You know, the diesel, the refrigeration, the outboard, the SSB, that kind of stuff.

If you’ve ever used a baby sledge to good effect on a boat, we’d like to hear about it

If you’re taking a boat to Mexico, or buying a boat you think you might someday take to Mexico, you must be sure that everything is in order with regard to the Temporary Import Permit (TIP).
If you’re going to have a kick-off party, why not have it on the beach at the Santa Barbara YC, the premier yacht club beach site on the West Coast?
Can you feel it in the air? That undeniable crispness, the bite that comes from a cool, still day, rather than the searing, blasting cold of the summer seabreeze.