January 8, 2018

Reeves Hopes to Resume Figure 8 Soon

"’Option one,’ I said to my wife, Joanna, ‘is to sell the boat, return home and grow cabbages.’" 

In his last blog post, Randall Reeves contemplated — if only for a moment (and in jest) — canceling the Figure 8 Voyage. Reeves experienced the extraordinary loss of both his electronic autopilot and his Monitor Windvane, which forced him to hand steer some 400 miles, seeking refuge in Ushuaia, Argentina. According to a blog post yesterday, he’s nearly completed his repairs, and hopes to resume the voyage on Wednesday.

"Option two. It’s a long way around the Southern Ocean, some 15,000 miles, twice as far as I’ve already come. This recent adventure with the self steering that has put me in Ushuaia has now also put me behind schedule. If I return to sea in a week or two, by the time I get back for a second pass at Cape Horn, it will be fall . . . fall down here is serious business. Hell, summer down here has been serious business"

A scene from the bottom of the world. Ushuaia, Argentina, in full summer mode.

© 2018 Randall Reeves Figure 8 Voyage

Time in Argentina has been of the essence. Circumnavigating the Southern Ocean and arriving at the Northwest Passage must be done on tight, seasonal schedules. "Even though my departure from San Francisco was later than I would have liked, I was still on schedule to arrive at the entrance to the Northwest Passage about a month before the thaw," Reeves said in an email to Latitude. "Thus, a two-week delay should (fingers crossed) have the effect of shortening my Greenland layover rather than putting the kibosh on the Figure 8, overall.

"That said, it will mean that my second approach to Cape Horn will come in the southern fall (late April/early May…equivalent to northern late September/October), which may make it a much more difficult and dangerous rounding than this attempt — at the height of summer — turned out to be. Nothing for it but to try!"

But Reeves’ time in Argentina has also been pleasurable. He got an impromptu visit from his wife, who acted as courier and brought the much-needed supplies. "We rented a small cabin in the woods and for four days acted like tourists. We hiked the Parque Nacional de Tierra del Fuego, strolled the town, ate, slept late," Reeves wrote in his blog post yesterday.

Reeves and "Best Wife in the World" Joanna near the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego.

© 2018 Randall Reeves Figure 8 Voyage

Reeves said he’s successfully repaired both self-steering units, rebuilt his toilet pump ("this was first on the list because pooping in a bucket has a charm that is quickly expended"), replaced a broken hatch handle and running light, and is prepared to top off with fuel.

"The big low we [referring to his 41-ft aluminum sloop Moli] sailed through shook the bejesus out of the rig, and so I need to drop the headsails and retune . . . a bit of a trick in very windy Ushuaia," Reeves wrote us. He also has an errant spinnaker pole that has been slipping from its fitting, and needs to provision, which includes "a local beer called Cape Horn and some Argentinian red wine."

The newly-repaired Monitor wind vane, ready for some Southern Ocean action.

© 2018 Randall Reeves Figure 8 Voyage

We will have a full report about Randall Reeves and the Figure 8 Voyage in the February issue’s Sightings

Pacific Seacoast Study Seeks Input

The US Coast Guard is conducting a study of navigation needs in the Pacific Seacoast System and wants help from sailors in the region. The Waterways Analysis and Management System study will review the short range Aids to Navigation system that covers American waterways from the Canadian border to the Mexican border and around Alaska, Hawaii and all US territories throughout the Pacific.

You can chime in at www.surveymonkey.com/r/PacSeacoastWAMS. The survey will be available until March 31, 2018.

Whether you race to Hawaii or cruise to Half Moon Bay, the Coast Guard would like to hear your opinion on Aids to Navigation.

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In addition to the survey input, the system-wide study will cover international requirements, environmental concerns, user capabilities, available technology and available resources. The study is part of the USCG’s Future of Navigation initiative, the multi-year effort to analyze, optimize and modernize the navigation systems that guide millions of mariners into US ports.

“This WAMS study will help us to tailor our Aids to Navigation levels of service to better meet the needs of mariners across the Pacific Seacoast System,” said Cmdr. Justin Kimura, the chief of the Navigation Technology and Risk Management Division in the Coast Guard Office of Navigation Systems.

Managed by the USCG Office of Navigation Systems and maintained by Coast Guard buoy tenders and ATON teams around the nation, Aids to Navigation help mariners determine their position, chart a safe course, and steer clear of hazards.

Blind Sailors ‘Sense the Wind’

A one-hour documentary, called Sense the Wind, which follows the journey of four blind sailors, has been released to the general public. "The independent film project began when I brought a camera to the Courageous Sailing docks in 2009 and began a long challenging ride, continuing beyond its 2015 completion," writes Christine Knowlton, the documentary’s producer and director. "This fall concluded two years and 42 festival and filmmaker presentations coast to coast and across continents."

Courageous Sailing is based in Boston, but blind sailors ply the waters of San Francisco Bay as well, out of Island Yacht Club in Alameda, Treasure Island Sailing Center, Marin Sailing School and Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS) in San Francisco’s South Beach Harbor.

A trailer for the movie can be found at https://youtu.be/rQCcZy2yJpg.

© 2018 Christine Knowlton

Sense the Wind is available through iTunes, Amazon and Kunaki DVD on Demand.

A Humorous Physicist?

For the past several months, we’ve tucked a couple of flyers in the magazine before they got distributed about — and some attentive readers have discovered them. Most recently it was Karen Swezey, who lives aboard an Islander 36 in Brickyard Cove with her partner Michael Daley, and who we suspect is a humorous physicist. Why so? The name of their boat is Laughing Matter.

What makes a sunny day even sunnier? Cracking open your new issue of Latitude 38 and discovering you’ve won a free T-shirt.

© 2018 Karen Swezey

After we connected, Karen wrote to say, "Yes, I am lucky! I would love a lilac T-shirt please. I started sailing when I was eight years old on the Great South Bay. I grew up sailing our family’s Sunfish and later a Rhodes 19. 

"Thank you so much for the good fortune! I’m thrilled about my t-shirt."

The nice thing about learning to sail when you’re young? You get to do it for longer. How many who started sailing young on a Sunfish are still enjoying the sailing life today? We’d like to know.

When would you set sail for the South Pacific Islands? If you’re one of the more than 80 boats already signed up for the 2018 Pacific Puddle Jump the answer would be this January to April, meaning there’s a slim chance there will be any close maneuvering on the ‘starting line’ which stretches almost 4,000 miles from Southern California to Panama.
Back in the ’90s, I was working at the Navy Sailing Center in Point Loma on an especially windy weekend, keeping an eye on the renters (15 knots being a really big deal in San Diego).