Skip to content
November 1, 2017

Hard Aground Near and Far

Reader Craig Dahl spotted this 30-ft ketch on the rocks in Drake’s Bay between Chimney Rock and the Lifeboat Station over the weekend.

© Craig Dahl

Craig Dahl, a Marin County-based reader of Latitude 38, and crew sailed his Catalina 36 Journey to Drake’s Bay for the weekend. On Saturday, they spotted this ketch wedged in the the rocks along a steep cliff section of shoreline. Details that Dahl observed included the lack of a mainmast (it was nowhere to be seen), a broken mizzen mast, a deployed emergency boarding ladder amidships, a hole in the hull, an undeployed Danforth anchor on the bow, and the absence of any people. 

This establishing shot will give you an idea of the terrain the shipwrecked sailors faced. Dahl said the waves breaking on shore made it too rough to get very close.

© 2017 Craig Dahl

Dahl and crew dinghied up to within 100 yards but stood off due to the rowdy surf breaking on the rocky shore. They called the Park Service to report their find.

Dahl says that on Saturday conditions in Drake’s Bay were foggy with 15-20 knots of breeze. A long-period 6- to 8-ft northwest swell made for big rollers. He speculated that an earlier south swell, during a high-surf advisory, could have swept the sailboat ashore.

The Coast Guard said that they were notified of the wreck on Saturday afternoon, that the owner was coordinating a salvage plan, and that the USCG were monitoring it. Courtney Hanson of Sector San Francisco reports that the San Francisco-based 30-ft boat is named Rubicon. She said that the incident occurred on Friday night around midnight, and that the sailors hiked out and were treated at a nearby hospital. The USCG can’t divulge the name of the owner due to the agency’s privacy policy, but we invite him or her to contact us.

Recreational sailors aren’t the only ones who run aground. It happens to the best of us. Case in point: The Clipper Race entry Greenings fetched up on a reef shortly after departing Cape Town, South Africa, on the third leg of the professionally skippered round-the-world race. 

Greenings ran aground at Cape Peninsula shortly before midnight last night.

© NSRI Kommetjie

No injuries were reported, and the 17 crew were evacuated by National Sea Rescue Institute rescue boats; they’re back in Cape Town now. We’ll have more on that incident in Friday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude.

The Figure 8 Voyage Is Underway

After being delayed from his original early-October departure date, Randall Reeves has sailed through the Golden Gate and begun the first-ever "Figure 8 Voyage," a solo circumnavigation which will take him from San Francisco, around Antarctica, then up across the Northwest Passage and back to the Bay.

On Saturday, Moli took her first steps around the world (special thanks to Captain Heather Richard at Fine Day for Sailing.)

© 2017 Heather Richard

As of yesterday, Reeves was 300 miles west of LA and making his way slowly but surely south, having fallen into a steady northwesterly breeze and running downwind. "I have to say that the departure day was one of the most difficult days that I’ve ever experienced," Reeves said in his first blog on the Figure 8 website. "Saying goodbye to my wife. Saying goodbye to friends. That was really tough, knowing that I’ll be gone for a full year. And to sail into such terrible weather — fog and very light winds once I got outside of the Golden Gate."

Reeves said that he slept well his first few nights at sea, after sleeping terribly in the weeks before his departure. Just two days before he was scheduled to leave in early October, Reeves removed the propeller, shaft and thrust bearing from Moli, his 41-ft aluminum expedition yacht. Once it was repaired and back in the water, Reeves continued to have problems with the drivetrain, which he called "ancient technology."

Aaaaaannnnnnd he’s off! Randall Reeves . . . Leaves! Thanks again to Fine Day for Sailing. 

© 2017 Heather Richard

But the Bay Area native fixed the problem to his satisfaction, felt comfortable with his weather window, and pulled the trigger on a voyage that’s been a long time in the making. "I’d always wanted to do a really long trip like this since . . . forever, since reading about the 1968 Golden Globe race," Reeves told us during an April interview at KKMI aboard Moli.

"And the longer you dream, the more attenuated the dream becomes. I kind of lost track of it. And I’ve gotten my big cruise. I’d done my two years. How could I expect my wife to let me go again?" Reeves wondered, referring to his 2010, 12,000-mile trip to the South Pacific in his 31-ft Far East Mariner Murre.

"I’ve lived in the city most of my life, and I love it. But I really enjoy being able to explore the un-human world, where you wake up in the morning and there’s a vast herd of dolphins frothing in the water as far as you can see. That’s really thrilling for me. You still get that feeling when you’re out on the ocean. I could be in a place that nobody’s ever seen before."

November Latitude Hits the Docks

If you need a break from putting away all the Halloween decorations and cleaning up the smashed pumpkins, we’ve got just the thing. November 1 brings with it a treat of another kind: the November issue of Latitude 38.

The cover of the November issue of Latitude 38 depicts a peaceful California fall cruising destination. Pick up a copy to find out where the photo, contributed by Greg Kruegermann, was taken.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Within its pages you’ll find an interview with sailing legend Dave Ullman, strategies for sailing the South Pacific, and profiles of Baja Ha-Ha sailors and 2017 season champions. Max Ebb learns about hand gestures from the bow, and World of Chartering offers cures for the wintertime blues.

Sightings topics include a new documentary about Mike Plant, lost at sea; book reviews for winter reading and holiday gift shopping; a mostly solo King of the Beer Cans; a Volvo Ocean Race update; crew overboard stories; eight bells for sailing photographer Diane Beeston; and the future of Latitude 38. Regattas covered in Racing Sheet include the Six Metre, 5O5 and Etchells Worlds, the Pac52 Cup, the YRA Season Closer, the Express 37 and 27 and Wylie Wabbit Nationals, and more. Plus Calendar, Letters, Loose Lips, Changes in Latitudes, Classy Classifieds and display advertising.

What Really Happened to Sea Nymph?

The bizarre story of the Sea Nymph — a Morgan 45 that had left Hawaii in May and was reportedly adrift for five months — is getting weirder by the day. There are still more questions than answers, but two facts have come to light:

First: Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, the two women aboard the Sea Nymph, did in fact have an EPIRB with them, but they never activated it. The women told reporters that they had a VHF, satellite phones and GPS, "but didn’t mention the EPIRB," according to an article by Snopes.

Appel reportedly told the Associated Press that their situation was not yet serious enough to merit using their emergency beacon. NPR quoted Appel as saying "EPIRB calls are for people who are in an immediate life threatening scenario. It would be shameful to call on the [Coast Guard] resources when not in imminent peril and allow someone else to perish because of it . . . Our hull was solid, we were floating, we had food, we had water and we had limited maneuverable capacity. All those things did not say we are going to die."

Tasha Fuiava, left, and Jennifer Appel at a press conference in Okinawa (we believe), following their rescue after five months at sea.  

© 2017 Sarah Villegas US Navy

But wait — Appel also said "had [the Navy] not been able to locate us, we would have been dead within 24 hours," at a press conference (we believe onshore in Okinawa) shortly after the rescue.

Apparently, the women were referring to a tow they got from the Taiwanese fishing boat that originally found the Sea Nymph and radioed the Coast Guard. They said it was "absolutely phenomenal the amount of damage" that the fishing vessel did to the structure of the Sea Nymph

"We thought we had it bad during the entire trip, and then that 24 hours of being towed, I kid you not, that was the scariest moment of the entire trip," Fuiava said, according to NPR. Appel was quoted as saying that the Navy "saved our lives, not from the ocean, but from the vessel that was trying to render assistance to us. Had they not been able to locate us, we would have been dead within 24 hours." 

(There were reports that Appel modified the Morgan 45, which other news outlets have called a "50 foot boat," with "six tons of fiberglass to make the hull stronger and had extended its keel to add stability," NPR said.)

Second: Appel and Fuiava said they were in a severe storm almost immediately after leaving Honolulu on May 3. But according to NPR, "the National Weather Service told the AP that there was no organized storm system near Hawaii on May 3 or the following days." Appel was reportedly surprised when told this, and said she received a storm warning from the Coast Guard on their May 3 departure day.

The mounting questions and skepticism about the Sea Nymph have many of us in the sailing world scratching our heads, with some people crying foul. We will continue to keep you updated as more facts emerge.

Great Pumpkin Trivia Contest Solved

In Monday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude, we posted the trivia quiz questions posed to the racers in Sunday’s Great Pumpkin Regatta, hosted by Richmond Yacht Club. Here are the answers, shared with us by quizmaster Gordie Nash:

  1. All of the above
  2. Nicaragua
  3. Suisun Ghost Ship/Mothball fleet
  4. Polynesian sailors traded their chickens
  5. Australia
  6. Vendée Globe, France
  7. Named after Hawaiian sheep farmer, Joseph Poalie Friday
  8. Betsy DeVos with John Fauth
  9. Missed an island and had to go back
  10. Afraid of cannibalism
  11. Celestial navigation with sextant

Imagine trying to read the questions (complete with history lessons) out loud, fielding opinions from the crew, and penciling in answers on a sheet of paper, all while racing more than 100 other boats going in two directions in somewhat sporty breeze.

The Great Pumpkin pursuit race starting line around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For correctly answering all 10 questions, the Moore 24 Banditos won a DVD of In the Heart of the Sea. "One got nine; most scored seven; one got two correct," writes Nash; "25 returned quizzes."

Banditos skipper John Kernot at RYC after the Great Pumpkin. Not only did the Banditos crew ace the test, they aced all three races on Saturday in the Moore 24 class and finished fifth in the pursuit race on Sunday. 

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC
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.
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.
November has California in its sights like a low-pressure system barreling down from the Aleutian Islands.