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January 26, 2018

A New View of the Same Bridge

We were fortunate enough to be invited to a wonderful dinner at the Presidio Yacht Club last weekend in honor of Scottish poet Robert Burns. For some of our staff, it was one of the first times they’d taken the road through Sausalito to its extreme end, running into the Bay at Cavallo Point. 

Stumbling on a view like this keeps the Bay Area forever interesting. 

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Well, I guess it wasn’t exactly my first time. When I worked for the Point Reyes Light, a photographer and I took a ride with the Coast Guard from Station Golden Gate, and while the view from the water certainly inspired some awe, I don’t remember the setting doing anything special for me.

The Golden Gate, as seen from a Coast Guard 47-foot MLB in 2010.  

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Eight years later and arriving at dusk, there was a container ship making its way out the Gate. Topping a hill, I could only see bright steel boxes floating against the twinkling lights of the East Bay, giving everything that model-train-set look that San Francisco can ellicit, if you’re in that kind of mood. 

Walking through the marina at Horseshoe Bay felt like standing in the rinse cycle of a washing machine. The docks didn’t creak but screamed with the surge and bump filtering in from the Bay. Sailing out of here must be serious business. No channel or protected lee to take your time and get ready. Just bam, right into the breeze, current and shipping lanes; right in the mix with dozens of sailboats, ferries, tankers, container ships, windsurfers, kayaks and whales. But on this short January day, there was no breeze. Several midwinter regattas had coasted to a stop and from a distance looked frozen in amber. A sailor at Presidio YC said his daysail had turned into a day-motor.

After almost 12 years of living here, I walked across the Golden Gate for the first time this summer. (I did not realize that I’m afraid of heights).

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Before and after dinner, people recited some of Burns’ more boaty poems: "Behold the hour, the boat, arrive . . . Along the solitary shore . . . Across the rolling, dashing roar . . ."  Apparently, ‘Burns Day’ is kind of a big deal, a chance to eat Scottish food and drink Scotch (for those of us who haven’t yet acquired the taste — but appreciate its strength and robustness — it still feels like you’re chewing on a damp, boggy highland marsh).

The same damn bridge (which has no doubt been photographed a trillion trillion times) has many different moods and looks.   

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We stepped outside so that the salt air would further activate the complexities of the spirits. And maybe it did, but the Golden Gate was being a big, giant showoff and distracted from everything else. There was also the spectacular realization that after almost 12 years in San Francisco, it was still possible to discover new nooks and crannies.

What are some of your favorite hidden boaty Bay Area gems?

Alert for Three Bridge Fiasco Racers

If you’re one of the 686 sailors signed up to race in tomorrow’s SSS Three Bridge Fiasco and you didn’t make it to the skippers’ meeting on Wednesday, this alert is for you. The race is a pursuit, meaning that the slowest boats start first and the fastest start last. Whichever finishes first wins. Boats are assigned a start time based on their handicap rating. The start time sheet is posted on the race’s Jibeset page.

If, for instance, your boat has a PHRF rating of 126, Wednesday morning’s start time sheet would have you start at 9:49:50. But the current sheet shows a start time of 9:48:18. No point in giving the competition a head start!

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We downloaded the sheet on the left on Wednesday morning. But by Wednesday evening it had been replaced. The (highly theoretical) distance of the racecourse (21.67 miles) had been recalculated, changing the start times. Be sure you have the current start time sheet, and read the Notice of Race/Standing Sailing Instructions and the Sailing Instructions for the 2018 Three Bridge Fiasco. This race is unique, and the SIs include many, many changes to the RRS (Racing Rules of Sailing). Most importantly, have fun, sail clean, and we’ll see you out there!

SAWW Needs Your Help

Save Alameda’s Working Waterfront, the group mobilizing to preserve maritime businesses and boating facilities at Alameda Marina, is looking for science and engineering specialists to help respond to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) submitted to the City of Alameda by the developer.

"If there are things that we should be addressing, now is the time to let the city’s planning department know," says Nancy Hird, the founder of SAWW.

Specialist help is needed in assessing parts of Chapter 4: Environmental Setting, Impacts, and Mitigation Measures. Specialists have stepped up to look at several of the subsections including hydrology, but Hird said they are still looking for help for:

• Air Quality
• Greenhouse Gases
• Biological Resources
• Geology and Soils
• Hazardous Materials
• Noise and Vibration
• Utilities and Service Systems

The DEIR can be found here. If you can help respond to any of the specialty areas above by February 15, please contact Hird at: [email protected]. DEIR responses can be sent directly to City Planner Andrew Thomas at [email protected].

As SAWW’s efforts continue on several fronts, Hird said they have been successful in getting developer Bay West to alter their plans, reducing the footprint for housing and retaining space for maritime businesses and dry dock storage. "We have been invited to a meeting by Bay West to view their third Master Plan, so we know we are making a difference in how they proceed," said Hird. "The city was happy to receive our proposed boatyard diagram and said they planned to give it to the developer as an exhibit of what the city requires for that function at the marina."

In addition to the science-focused responses to the DEIR, SAWW is now raising funds to hire an attorney who specializes in architectural preservation. The developer’s plans call for the demolition of several buildings at Alameda Marina that SAWW’s historical experts believe are legally worthy of protection. Donations can be sent to the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society (AAPS), which is the fiscal intermediary for Save Alameda’s Working Waterfront. Please make notation that your donation is for Alameda Marina, and send it to PO Box 1677, Alameda, CA 94501. (There is a PayPal option at, but be sure to contact the organization to have it go to SAWW’s fund.)

Miller Made Sailing Films Too

By now skiers have heard that ski filmmaker extraordinaire Warren Miller passed away at home on Orcas Island on Wednesday at the age of 93. What skiers — and sailors — may not know is that Miller made sailing films too. Among them were promotional films for the Hobie 33, an offshore-capable racing monohull designed by Hobie Alter and Phil Edwards and built by Hobie Cats in the 1980s. (See for more on the Hobie 33.)

A Hobie 33 racing from San Francisco to Hawaii in the 1980s. The boats are well suited for racing to Hawaii or Mexico and still do so. This is a screenshot from Hall of Fame Regatta Part II, shot in San Francisco. See also Hobie 33 Crash Test on YouTube.

© 2018 Warren Miller

We were unable to find another of Miller’s sailing films, Hot Yachts, Cold Water, about West Coast sailing. If you come across it, please let us know.

Here’s a new one for us. On Monday, December 22, Greg Quilici received a message from Sausalito Yacht Harbor that his boom had fallen through the hard-top dodger of his Catalina 445 Blue Seaclusion.
We just got off the phone with Fito Espinosa, harbormaster at Marina Coral in Ensenada, who was bringing us up to date with an important clarification in the procedure for acquiring a tourist visa for cruisers entering Mexico.
We bring you part 2 of Lee Johnson’s The Training Boat. After doing a series of sail training courses in San Diego, Johnson — who resides in Arizona — started to consider buying his own boat.