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October 6, 2017

Photo of the Day a Blast from the Past

"This burbled up from the archives of Charlie Gay, who I crewed for in the ’80s," writes Richard vonEhrenkrook. "Hope you might find it entertaining."

Start ’em young, we always say.

© Charles Gay

The little tyke in the photo is named Forrest, and he grew up to become the director of sailing at San Francisco Yacht Club. Richard, pictured above indoctrinating the young lad, returned to Cal 20 racing after a hiatus to raise his own family, and has been whoopin’ ass with the Can O’Whoopass for several years.

The magazine pictured is the June 1982 edition of a certain Bay Area sailing rag (the logo was changed later in the ’80s). The photo on the cover, taken by Louis Kruk, shows Dorade and Santana in "the great yacht race." (Louis, by the way, still contributes photos to Latitude occasionally). City Yachts had the back cover and advertised Nordic, Baltic and brokerage yachts.

Friday Night Beer Cans in Hawaii

This past Friday, Hannah Arndt and Olivia Williams, Bay Area natives and recently graduated vagabonds currently in search of cheap thrills on the island of Oahu, poked their heads around the Hawaii Yacht Club as racers started to prepare for the weekly Beer Can race. As is typical, there was at least one boat a bit short on crew, and the two were able to hop aboard Mike Beason’s 1968 Cal 2-30 Born Free.

What you can’t see are the 70-plus-degree temperatures. 

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

There was a fairly strong (and warm) breeze, and the vagabonds were somewhat shocked to remember that Hawaii sailing does not require eight different clothing layers in preparation for Bay Area microclimates. Also crewing on Born Free were Vanessa Cass and Mary Jo Noonan, both residents of Hawaii and regular Friday night racers at the Hawaii Yacht Club.

From left: Vanessa Cass, Hannah Arndt, Mary Jo Noonan and Mike Beason.

© 2017 Olivia Williams

The course began with a reverse handicap start in the harbor, a long, tight reach upwind to the Diamond Head mark, and an off-the-wind reach back to the club. It was a pretty spectacular night, with a flaming sunset reflected in the highrises of Waikiki and lighting up the crevices of Diamond Head. Wildlife sightings included one turtle moseying its way through the channel, and one tour catamaran that, like the turtle, seemed a little unaware of the beer can racers and their, ahem, course.

By design, the reverse handicap start left most of the boats finishing the race around the same time in a pretty tight harbor, giving the Hawaii Yacht Club spectators all the drama and entertainment that their tickets had promised. The night ended with a barbecue, beer and a surprising little plot twist for the Californians: fireworks in their honor!

If the sun’s setting in Hawaii, then it’s been dark — and cold — for a few hours in the Bay Area.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Well . . . in their honor and also because the Hilton Hawaiian Village sets them off every Friday night. Overall, the evening had all the great elements a classic Friday night race can provide, except, unlike a San Francisco Friday night, there was no need to huddle around the grill in hopes of warming frozen toes in the middle of July. Hopefully the vagabonds will be back aboard more Hawaiian vessels soon!

New Puerto Escondido Marina in the Works

The Wanderer has been going to Puerto Escondido — the one 230 miles up into the Sea of Cortez from Cabo — by boat for 40 years. It’s always been one of the most stunningly beautiful areas in Mexico, with an incredible natural harbor closely backed by the Sierra de la Giganta mountains that abruptly rise to nearly 4,000 feet.

Years ago, Curt Hamann took this aerial photo of Puerto Escondido, aka Hidden Harbor. Antigua’s English Harbour is another wonderful natural harbor, as well as Corsica’s Bonifacio (which may be as stunning as this gem in Mexico). But neither is as big, beautiful or well-protected as Puerto Escondido.

© 2017 Curt Hamann Puerto Escondido Marina

For 40 years, we’ve watched as numerous attempts have been made to make it a destination with an infrastructure to match the natural beauty. None of the attempts have been successful, and others consisted of little more than $15 million in allotted funds being absconded with. 

This is an artist’s rendering of what Marina Puerto Escondido will look like six weeks after the new breakwater and marina slips are installed. 

© 2017 Curt Hamann Puerto Escondido Marina

But according to Harbormaster Curt Hamann, Puerto Escondido Marina is bringing Puerto Escondido closer to the standard of what it should be. He and his team have just completed ‘rebranding’ the place. Better still, they are about to finish a new breakwater that will protect the marina from Northers, and are about to install docks that will increase capacity of the marina by more than 70 slips.

We have no idea why, but according to Hamann, the docks are coming from France, Ireland and Canada. Why they need docks from three countries is one of the mysteries of Mexico.

Here’s a second artist’s rendering of what the marina will soon look like. We’re hoping it will attract a critical mass of boats to support and expand local businesses.

© Curt Hamann Puerto Escondido Marina

Nor are we exactly sure what Hamann means by it, but he advises Latitude that as an incentive to get boats to come to Puerto Escondido, the first 30 will get a month of free berthing between January and May. We don’t know what’s meant by the "first 30," so we suggest you email him at [email protected] and find out. And tell him we sent you. 

Pusser’s Landing Decimated by Irma

As of last week, there was still no power, no Internet and limited phone service throughout the Caribbean, so accurate reporting of September’s devastating hurricanes — storms that already seem like they hit months ago — remains difficult. This latest report about damage on Tortola was included in a personal email from our old friend Charles Tobias, founder of Pusser’s Rum. He agreed to let us share it with readers.

While the report is specific to Soper’s Hole, West End, where the first Pusser’s Landing has been welcoming thirsty sailors for more than 30 years, it is similar to the reports we’ve been receiving from all over the Caribbean. We look forward to clinking a glass of Pusser’s Painkiller with Charles when the Landing re-opens.

We’re not sure what’s more striking, the gutted buildings or the hillsides stripped of their vegetation.

© 2017 Charles Tobias

"Thanks to everyone for all your thoughts and for caring about us. It’s been very bad, with a lot of anxiety. Most all of the buildings and infrastructure in the BVI have been destroyed or severely damaged. No water, no electricity, poles and wires down everywhere, scarce fuel. It takes two hours to drive three miles — and drive you must if you want to meet with someone or contact them, because most phones do not connect."

Throughout the Caribbean, only small traces remain of what once was.

© 2017 Charles Tobias

"It will surely take five years or more to get it all back together. In one 400-yard stretch alongside the road at Maya Cove, there are more than 400 yachts sunk and damaged beyond repair, all piled on each other. We lost a car, and our boat sank. The wind was so strong that the cleats on the bulwarks to which the lines were attached bent and pulled straight back through the hawse hole, allowing the lines to slip off. We had 14-one-inch diameter lines with chain and thimbles on the end securing the boat to the concrete pilings. Quite incredible."

A 40-ft boat sitting on rooftops gives you an idea of Irma’s awesome, terrible power.

© 2017 Charles Tobias

"I would estimate that more than 3,000 yachts will be written off, and more than 3,000 automobiles. The wind was steady at 200 mph, gusts to 285, and twisters in the middle of some of those gusts creating winds up to 350 mph! Our house is one of the few that suffered little or no damage as a result of my rebuilding it about seven years ago. My dear Joanna broke her leg badly. She’s flying out of here on a chartered jet on Tuesday with our friend, Greg Pearson, who has chartered the plane for a quick in/out trip from the States where he is."

Again, what’s most mind-boggling to us are the bare, brown hills in the background.

© Charles Tobias
Isla Isabella is a beautiful offshore nature reserve on the way from Cabo or Mazatlan to Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta.