December 6, 2017

From the December Issue

There a certain white and red J/35 that you’ve probably seen at almost every Bay Area race. Jarlen has been a staple of YRA and coastal racing for almost 30 years. The boat is owned by Dr. Bob Bloom, who has played a role in training generations of new sailors. "Bob has been a huge influence on my development as a big-boat racer," said former Jarlen crew member Viktor German.

Jarlen out on the rail much? Not pictured is owner and skipper Bob Bloom.

© 2017 Roxanne Fairbairn

We profiled the boat and her owner in this month’s Sightings.

Cape Horn in Less than 30 Days

François Gabart a few hours after rounding Cape Horn (it was at night, so sorry, no photos of the Cape).

© François Gabart

French sailor François Gabart has continued to rack up the miles — and the records — en route to challenging Thomas Coville’s solo non-stop round-the-world record. Since setting a new outright reference time from Ouessant, France, to Cape Agulhas, South Africa, and a new solo 24-hour speed record a few weeks ago, Gabart has continued to hold a frenetic pace in his 100-ft trimaran Macif, setting new records at almost every major milestone. As of this writing, Gabart is rocketing up the South Atlantic Ocean, now east of the southern part of Brazil. After maintaining speeds of 30+ knots since rounding Cape Horn, Gabart only just recently slowed down a bit in a lighter-air transition zone before reaching the southeast trades and merging onto the long, northbound highway back to Europe and the finish line.

While we don’t want to jinx François, it is beginning to look more and more as if his shattering Thomas Coville’s record is now fate. Since benefiting from a tailor-made weather window across the South Atlantic Ocean on the outbound voyage, he has managed to do so on the inbound voyage as well. Once rounding Cape Horn, Gabart and his trimaran hooked into strong southerly pressure between an area of high pressure and an east-moving area of low pressure. Threading the needle through the compression zone between the two systems, Gabart has since watched his lead over Coville’s reference time balloon to close to 1,700 miles as of this writing. Barring any unforeseen failures, once this record attempt is all done and dusted, it will have been the South Atlantic Ocean that first allowed François to jump to a commanding lead on the reference time, and again the South Atlantic that cemented his place well ahead of Coville.

While down south however, it wasn’t just the Atlantic that helped François make gains on the record; it was the Pacific as well. Seemingly on one huge low-pressure system that in reality comprised multiple systems merged together, François again managed the unthinkable — he beat out every single crewed boat in history, by himself. While crossing the Pacific, even with his foot firmly off the throttle in an effort to preserve the boat in massive and treacherous seas, Gabart managed to set another outright record on this journey, besting every time in history to set a new record from Tasmania to Cape Horn with a time of 7 days, 15 hours, 15 minutes; nearly 6 hours faster than Francis Joyon and a full crew on IDEC Sport, which set the record last year en route to their outright record around the world.

As of this writing, François has a roughly 3-day lead on Coville’s solo record of 49 days, and he shouldn’t be far off Francis Joyon and IDEC Sport’s record of 40 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes. He has been at sea for 32 days and is expected to finish in the next 8-10 days. Keep track of François at

Looking for How-To Stories

Have you ever impressed yourself by installing, removing or repairing something on your boat that you thought was impossible to do on your own? Did you tackle a project that you really didn’t think you could manage — a project that you were going to pay a professional to do, before you asked for advice on the dock, watched a YouTube video, and decided to take a shot?

"Hey, how do you replace a transom?" The gentleman on the left might have asked the gentleman up high, on the right at Berkeley Marine Center. We’d like to know, too.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A common request we hear from our readers is  to feature more ‘Do It Yourself’, ‘How-To’, and ‘Idiot’s Guide’ projects. So we thought we’d start by asking all of you the question: What have you done yourself? And what can you explain to the rest of us boat owners (who don’t exactly have naval architecture or mechanical engineering degrees)?

Unlike our annual spring boatyard tour story, where we feature several boat owners shaking off the cobwebs after a long California winter, we are looking for very specific projects. Have you installed AIS or other electronics? Have you repaired your own diesel engine? Have you modified your rigging?

To all the how-to-ers out there, we’d like to hear from you.

Panama Posse Rally Kicks Off

"The Panama Posse kicked off their rally to Panama last Wednesday, November 29, with a huge party hosted by Marina Puerto Isla de Navidad, Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico," writes Bay Area sailor Lucie Mewes of the Van de Stadt 41 Georgia, which has been cruising Mexico the last three years.

A group of Panama Posse cruisers gathered for a kickoff party last week. Lucie Mewes and her husband Ben are on the far right in back.

© 2017 Panama Posse

"The fleet consists of 40 yachters on sailboats and motoryachts who intend to cruise the coast of Central America over the next six months to years. Created by Dietmar and Suzanne Petutschnig of the Lagoon 440 Carinthia, the Posse intends to share fun, weather and notes on anchorages, surf and dive spots as they make their way south. Participating hosts include Marina Riviera Nayarit, Marina Chiapas and the El Salvador Rally."

We asked Lucie if the fleet left port the next day. "Yes, several were sober enough to head out [Thursday] morning. Five more left [Friday], with another three to four leaving over the weekend. Others, like us, want to go to SailFest and GuitarFest in Zihuatanejo before crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec. Stops in Acapulco, Huatulco and Chiapas will catch the fleet before it leaves Mexico.

"There is a daily Panama Posse SSB Net at 15:15 UTC on 8728 USB. Mike on the Ingrid 38 Easy spoke with his dad in Auburn, California, this morning," added Lucie on Friday. "It’ll be great for providing local weather and anchorage information."  

Lucie reports that the first boat arrived at Isla Grande, Ixtapa, on Monday afternoon. See, and the (closed) Facebook group PanamaPosse.

In November, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) Enforcement Committee held a public hearing to review allegations of permit violations by Westpoint Harbor and Mark Sanders, the owner of the marina.