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October 30, 2017

24th Annual Baja Ha-Ha Departs

The 750-mile Baja Ha-Ha cruising rally kicked off on Sunday, October 29, under sunny skies in the parking lot of the San Diego West Marine store located near the heart of Shelter Island. One hundred and fifty-four boats are signed up to push off today for the 10-day rally to Cabo San Lucas.

When this San Diego-era America’s Cup starting gun fired this morning, the 24th annual Baja Ha-Ha rally began. Dukie Valderamma, the Chairman of the Board for the Port of San Diego, was one of several representatives to fire a (blank) shot. 

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The fleet gathered for the morning skippers’ meeting with Grand Poobah Richard Spindler entertaining the fleet with the details and bureaucratic logistics needed to smoothly start a rally with hundreds of new best friends.

Mexico harbormasters are ready to welcome all southbound cruisers for another magnificent season South of the Border. Left to right: Dick Markie, Paradise Village Marina; Mac and Neil Shroyer, Marina de la Paz; Secundino Alvarez, Puerto de la Navidad; Geronimo Cevallos, Marina El Cid; Fito Espinoza, Hotel Coral & Marina; Rafael Alcantara, Marina Riviera Nayarit.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In attendance were a flotilla of sailors from all over the West Coast, with homeports ranging from Alaska to Southern California. Two couples already have circumnavigations under their belts. 

Being so close to Halloween, the Ha-Ha kick-off party is a fully costumed gala. There were plenty of pirates in attendance, as well as the recreated casts of Gilligan’s Island, Dodgeball and KC and the Sunshine Band. 

Steve and Connie Hill of the Beneteau 40 Soirée, from Richmond, joined the sea life with a full crew of jellyfish for their sail south.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The two most common questions we heard: 1) Is the November issue out yet? 2) Are you sailing on the Ha-Ha? Both answers were a tragic no, but rest easy — the November issue will be out on Wednesday (and will be available in Cabo when the Ha-Ha arrives), and, well, somebody has to staff the office and pound the keyboard.

The Ha-Ha ralliers paraded past dignitaries and VIPs aboard the sportfishing boat Dolphin before exiting San Diego Bay en route to Baja.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

This morning — under a typically overcast sky — the Ha-Ha fleet began to congregate near the mouth of San Diego Bay. On board the Dolphin and organized by the Sport Fishing Association of California were the following organizations: the Port of San Diego, and the San Diego Port Tenants Association, both the Mexico Consulate General (Consulado General de México) and the Mexico Tourism Board, as well as representatives from the US Coast Guard and San Diego Harbor Police. 

Oh, and did we mention the mariachi band? Students from Sweetwater Union High School got to skip class this morning and play the fleet out, as police boats shot their fire hoses and sounded their sirens, while members of the various organizations on board the Dolphin sport fisher took turns firing of a historic America’s Cup starting gun.

A mariachi band from Sweetwater High School in National City (just south of downtown San Diego) entertained the fleet this morning.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For those of us attending our first Ha-Ha send-off parade, we were thoroughly impressed as the departing fleet clogged the horizon. "Wow, that’s a lot of boats," said Dukie Valderamma Chairman of the Board for the Port of San Diego. "This was really something." The event showcases the friendly relationship between West Coast cruisers and the people of Mexico. We saw good will and open arms and sailors and fishermen from both countries enjoying the freedom of the open seas.

Sailing California’s Coast in the ’70s, Pt. 1

The following is a dispatch from John Tysell. 

It was June of 1979, and I had just completed my first long-distance race on my Cal 3-30 Soufriere, a 30-ft sloop I purchased in November 1975 to race on the Bay, and then, in the ocean. I asked my girlfriend at the time, who had little boating experience, to help me sail back to the Bay from San Diego. She was a teacher at the neighborhood elementary school in Point Richmond. We’d met on a blind date arranged by the parent of one of her students. We’d known each other less than a year. I was 39, she 32.

John Tysell, who’s at the helm in this shot, captioned this picture "Jack and John; MORA Race to San Diego 1979."

© 2017 John Tysell

San Diego to San Francisco is one of the most difficult passages in yachting. We’d be sailing directly into wind and waves that originate in Japan and travel more than 5,000 miles — unrestrained — to the coast of California. 

My girlfriend, Gwynne Crouse, joined me the day after a race at San Diego Yacht Club. We started stocking up on enough provisions to last a week. The next task was to retrieve a halyard at the top of the mast, 38 feet above the deck. After looking up several times, Gwynne climbed into the bosun’s chair, while I fastened the shackle of the spare halyard to the D-rings and secured it with a piece of duct tape. The line was wrapped several times around a winch on the mast and I held tightly to the bitter end so she wouldn’t fall.

Late that afternoon, we left for Catalina, 80 miles to the northwest. There was no wind so I started the engine and gave Gwynne the tiller and a compass course toward our destination. Night was falling, and she had the first watch. I went below to sleep and told her to wake me in a couple of hours — but for some reason, she didn’t. When I woke up, the sun was rising. I looked out the companionway to discover Avalon Harbor dead ahead. I’d slept all night, and she had steered a true path through thick fog and darkness, crossing the shipping lanes.

Well, I thought at the time, that was interesting.

The harbormaster showed us to our mooring ball and came aboard to put yellow dye in the head. After exploring Avalon and spending the night, we sailed to Little Harbor on the other side of Catalina where we fished for eels and snorkeled with stingrays.

Gwynne with a big pancake.

© 2017 John Tysell

The following day, we crossed the channel again to Marina del Rey. I shaved off my beard, which had become scraggly and disheveled. After picking up two friends, we loaded more supplies, including scuba gear, and headed to Anacapa Island to the west.

Gwynne in "rookie scuba gear." 

© 2017 John Tysell

We were unsuccessful diving for lobster, but I was able to pop a few abalones. We thinly sliced and tenderized the abs, pan-fried them, and washed them down with a nice bottle of Riesling. The next morning, we weighed anchor and headed northeast to Santa Barbara where we dropped off my friends and prepared for the next big challenge of the trip, rounding Point Conception.

We’ll bring you part 2 of John Tysell’s ‘Sailing California’s Coast in the ’70s’ on Wednesday.

Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show

Last year the opening day had rain and 65+ knots of wind. Later dates mean beautiful weather next year. Right?

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Sail America has announced the dates for the 20th annual Bay Area sailing industry-sponsored boat show. The show will return to Richmond’s Craneway Pavilion and Marina Bay Yacht Harbor on April 19-22. Exhibitors, like Latitude 38, are already signing up. If you’re interested, your club, company or event should get in touch soon to reserve space. If you have a speaker suggestion or a seminar to present, get in touch with Kayce Florio. For all show information visit here.

November Racing Preview

November has California in its sights like a low-pressure system barreling down from the Aleutian Islands. A sample of major midwinter series (in alphabetical order) that start in November in the San Francisco Bay Area includes:

For the ongoing schedules for these and more, see our Calendar in the November issue of Latitude 38, coming out on November 1.

Levitation II at the Berkeley Midwinters, which have had Express 27 divisions on both Saturday and Sunday.


A final trio of women’s races this weekend will wrap up Latitude 38’s Unofficial Women’s Circuit:

On Saturday, Richmond YC the Amazing Grace Cheney Regatta (all women) and Tiburon YC’s Joan Storer Memorial Women’s Regatta (coed) are scheduled. On Sunday it’s IYC’s Jill & Jack + 1, a triplehanded coed race on the Estuary.

The Moore 24 Snafu and competitors run down the Estuary in the Jack & Jill + 1. The name of the race has been changed, since ‘Jill’ is the skipper.


With the flip of the calendar, the holiday focus will shift from Halloween to Thanksgiving, and several turkey-themed races will whet our appetite for the coming feast.

Nov. 4 —  Lake Washington Sailing Club’s Turkey Shoot. Sailors don’t have to shoot turkeys, but turkeys are the prizes.

Nov. 18 — Konocti Bay Sailing Club’s Turkey Cup on Clear Lake.

Nov. 18-19 — Alamitos Bay YC’s Turkey Day Regatta in Long Beach.

Nov. 24 — Tiburon YC’s Wild Turkey Race the day after Thanksgiving. The name of the regatta provides a hint to the prizes.

The forecast for this weekend is forbidding, with the aforementioned Polar Express targeting the Bay Area on Saturday, providing sailors the chance to find out just how waterproof their foulies are!

The crews of Alpha Puppy and Quiver endure a rainy-day race at the Golden Gate YC Seaweed Soup Midwinters. They are no doubt looking forward to the hot, free food back at the clubhouse.

© 2017

Can You Solve the Great Pumpkin Quiz?

In a longstanding tradition, the Sunday pursuit race at Richmond Yacht Club’s Great Pumpkin Regatta is peppered with distractions. Not only must skippers choose which direction to round Alcatraz and Angel Island, but they are also tasked with hunting pumpkins dropped from RIBs and solving a trivia quiz laden with historical teaching moments and recent news factoids — all sailing-related of course. 

While racing around the islands in this year’s favored direction (counterclockwise), the crew of the Express 34 Marrakesh rescue a pumpkin from the waters south of Tiburon.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Did you yesterday, or can you now, answer the following 10 questions without consulting outside sources? 

1. After 44 years of construction, the world’s largest engineering project ever completed was finally in service in August of 1914. The Panama Canal, "Supreme Human Achievement" of two great nations was done. With the completion, in 2016, of new expanded locks, this canal can transit more than 24,000 ships per year. Why was this opening not front page news in every newspaper on earth in 1914?
A. The first electric traffic light was installed on the corner of East 105th Street and Euclid, Cleveland, Ohio.
B. A dismissed servant set fire to and killed seven people at American Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s home "Taliesin" in Wisconsin.
C. Sir Ernest Shackleton sailed from England on his Trans-Antarctic Expedition on "Endurance", his ship was crushed by ice, his crew sailed small skiffs to Elephant Island in the Antarctic then to Georgia Island and the rescue of every member of his crew.
D. Germany declared war on Russia starting a world wide conflict, later re-named the First World War.
E. All of the above.

2. In the late 1880’s, 5 potential location sites were conceived and considered for a new water canal crossing of Central America. These building locations would enable ships to travel between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans without the expense and experience of "Rounding-the-Horn". One of these design locations went before the United States Congress and in 1902 came within 5 votes of being the "Approved Location of the U.S. Canal". Where was this canal located?
A. Nicaragua, San Juan del Norte to Brito
B. Panama, San Blas to Old Panama City
C. Columbia, Gulf of Uraba to Cupica Bay
D. Mexico, Gulf of Mexico to Tehuanatepec

3. After 40 years, three California environmental organizations won a lawsuit against the federal government. In August of 2016, the last part of this court mandated clean-up was completed from a northern inlet of San Francisco Bay. More than 50 tons of toxic heavy metals, 14 million gallons of oil and 38,000 cubic yards of PCB’s have been removed. Where was this clean-up site?
A. Suisun Ghost Ship/Mothball fleet
B. Mare Island Submarine dry-docks
C. Franks’ Tractor was finally found
D. Old San Pablo Bay remote oil pier

4. Captain Cooks‘ crew collected animals and plants where ever they landed for study. One crew member, after landing in New Zealand in 1769, discovered a ‘sweet potato‘ known to be native of South America. For many years this potato was on display in a London Museum until scientists tested its DNA and confirmed it indeed was native to South America. How did come to grow it New Zealand?
A. This crew member hid it on board to fool Captain Cook.
B. Thor Hyerdal took it there.
C. Polynesian sailors traded their chickens for them in South America.
D. South American sailors delivered them there.

5. Captain Cook, in 1770, needing to careen his ship "Endeavor", make repairs and study this newly discovered area, made land fall on this land. He found the native people "timid", completely naked, friendly and helpful to his crew. His crew collected plants and the native animals for study. The natives called a particular animal a "gangurru". Where was he?
A. Cook Islands
B. Tahiti
C. Australia
D. New Caledonia

6. In 2016 a sailing race was covered by 80 TV Stations, had over 1000 reporters working the story and was broadcast in 150 nations around the world. Over 2000 people visited the ‘race village‘ and it is estimated that 2 million people may have watched the start. This race had sailors from 12 nations represented. What race was this?
A. Sydney Hobart Race-Australia
B. Fastnet Race-England
C. Middle Sea Race-Malta
D. Vendee Globe Race-France

7. In 1845 the Hudson Bay Company laid claim to San Juan Island and built a salmon curing factory in this protected harbor that became "Friday Harbor". The 1846 treaty between US and Britain tried to described the border between Canada and the USA. But the description was open to interpretation. In 1873 the San Juan Islands became part of the USA alter the conclusion of the 1859 Pig War between the US Army and British Navy. Only one pig was injured in the war. How did the name "Friday Harbor" come about‘?
A. The ferry boat went to this harbor only on "Friday".
B. The Catholics went to this harbor on "Friday" for a fish dinner.
C. Named after Hawaiian sheep farmer, Joseph Poalie Friday.
D. Captain Vancouver, who named the Canadian City ‘Vancouver’, with his ship and crew, took shelter from a storm in this harbor on a "Friday", rode out the storm until the next "Friday".

8. Presidential politics and sail boat racing usually are not associated together. But New Zealand and Italian Luna Rosa have confirmed their 2021 Americas’ Cup races will be sailed in monohulls, accept only club challenges and have a strong nationality rule for the crews. A US presidential cabinet member has taken this nationalistic requirement to heart. They have announced they will finance an "All American Crew" Americas‘ Cup challenge with the New York Yacht Club". Who is this cabinet member?
A. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General, "The South will Rise Again Challenge" with Ted Turner.
B. Steve Mnuchin, Treasury, "Money is no Object Challenge" with Michael Bloomberg.
C. Nikki Haley, UN Ambassador, "America First Challenge" with Bill Kock.
D. Betsy DeVos, Education, "Bella Mente Quantum Challenge" with John Fauth.

9. The MOD 70′ Trimaran class was originally created as a professional racing class for racing around Europe. The class did not quite materialize and the few boats that were built were sold. One of these boats was acquired by Californian Lloyd Thornburg and is now "Phaedo3". It does seem that every race this boat starts it finishes first and sets a new course record. Except for two. One of these races was the 2016 "Middle Seas Race", which starts in Malta with a course around Sicily, Aeolian Islands, and other islands in the Mediterranean to port, the last island to starboard and finishes back in Malta.

With "Phaedo3" leading the fleet, on course record pace with only 70 miles to go, what happened to leave her to finish second, leaving "Maserati", MOD 70, with skipper Giovanni Soldini to finish first and set the 2016 course record’?
A. Hit a UFO and lost the port ama rudder.
B. Navigator, Tactician and Owner disagreed about something important.
C. Missed an island and had to go back 3 hours.
D. Lost all electronics and had to navigate "Old School" while sailing at 32 knots.

10. The whaling ship "Essex", that was sunk by a whale, became the story for "Moby Dick". Essex had three long boats that the crew used to escape from their sinking ship. They elected to sail east, upwind and up current 3000 miles to South America instead of to the Polynesian Islands that where probably only 1200 miles down wind. Why did they attempt the longest possible route to safety?
A. They really did not know where they where and wanted to re-trace their course.
B. Afraid of cannibalism in the closest islands.
C. They were hoping that other whale ships in the area would rescue them quickly.
D. Had no navigational equipment so just got anyway as fast as they could.

In 2016, The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, has re-instated this particular knowledge discipline. This maritime study has not been required of graduates since the middle 1990’s. This is being taught again and now is a required class cadets need to complete with a passing grade. What does this class teach?
A. Dance the "Fox Trot".
B. Dress with a "Windsor Knot" tie.
C. Celestial navigation with sextant.
D. Nuclear submarine power.

Quizmaster Gordie Nash has promised to provide us with the answers to run in Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude. We’ll also divulge the name of the boat whose crew answered all 10 questions correctly!

Here’s what we know about two people — and two dogs — who were lost at sea for over five months:  Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba set sail from Honolulu in early May, headed for Tahiti in what appears to be a Morgan 45 that we believe is the Sea Nymph, a vessel we reported on in June, something that one of our readers brought to our attention.
The Mexican government will be giving all members of the Baja Ha-Ha fleet a special burgee like this, as well as a letter alerting officials to how important the event is to Mexico.
Co-skippers Wendy Corzine and Lisa Meier of Long Beach Yacht Club won the 26th annual Linda Elias Memorial Women’s One-Design Challenge on October 14-15, breaking a 14-year dry spell — the hosting LBYC team last won this regatta in 2003.