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February 12, 2018

How Was Your Weekend?

How was your weekend? Do you have any photos or a story to tell? Please send them here, and we’ll publish them in the next few weeks.

On Saturday, we were lucky enough to get on the water while the Bay was doing its best impression of a warm, windless summer day. We sailed out of San Rafael, motored against the ebb, and dropped anchor at China Camp where five or so sailboats had the same idea, and half a dozen fishing boats were working the shallow waters on the west side of San Pablo Bay. The day started with the hint (and maybe even a promise) of wind, but instead glassed off and turned into a scorcher. Not to fear, reader — we were thoroughly provisioned, and brought more than enough ice to keep the beverages cold.

Saturday afternoon, San Pablo Bay. Seventy-two degrees, 10 to 12 knots of wind. Twenty minutes before this picture was taken, it was completely glassy.

© 2018 Nathaniel Beilby

The heat inspired a swim, but we were shocked at how aggressive the ebb was. We found ourselves being quickly swept past the boat, and had to swim hard just to stay in place. Our new editor’s Columbia 24 does not (yet) have a swim ladder, but we thought it would be relatively easy to climb up the lowered outboard motor with the help of some loops we’d tied on a line. It wasn’t. In fact, it was downright scary for a few moments as we tried to get a foothold on the motor’s tiny, slippery fins and awkwardly pull ourselves back on board.

McNears Beach and the Dutra Group rock quarry. 

© Nathaniel Beilby

Under the still, slow heat of the sun, it felt like we’d been anchored for days. We put the sail cover on to spare the Dacron from the UV. We experimented with a rope ladder rigged vertically from the topping lift. These were of course just things one does while on boat time (as the empty cans start to accumulate). We were puttering around the boat just for the sake of it, content to sweat and be on the water and resigned to a windless day. Motoring to and from China Camp on an 80-degree February weekend was surely a win in anyone’s book.

"Hold my beer," I often say to myself. Putting China Camp to our stern and silhouetting ourselves in the sun.

© 2018 Nathaniel Beilby

But a wind line darkened the water to the west. Within minutes, it took the edge off the heat and filled in with gusto. We raised the main, hauled in the anchor, and just like that, were chugging upwind toward Vallejo in 12 knots of breeze. It’s easy to get spoiled in the Bay, where you can usually set your watch by the wind, so there’s something truly special about getting an unexpected breeze. The day would end up feeling like a two-day cruise: We put the sails up and down multiple times, re-anchored once (for fear of shallow water), set up the table and deck "cushions" for lunch, and slowly shifted gears throughout the day to adapt to the conditions. We wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Have a good week, everyone — we hope to see you on the water next weekend.

Earthquake: Barra de Navidad

Baja Ha-Ha vet and Mexico cruising aficionado Pat McIntosh of Sacramento wrote us on Friday: "Good morning, at 8 a.m. (+/-), about an hour ago, we had a bit of a jolt this morning, not sure where it was centered. I’d say it lasted about 10 seconds or so."

The red dot marks the location of Friday’s earthquake; the red lines in the water are fault lines.


"Al, the guy who owns this B&B, said it is the strongest he has felt. I have not heard of any problems in the area. So far nothing from any boats, but I wouldn’t expect any problems in the lagoon or marina. It had a lot of people out on the streets, but I’ve not heard of any damage so far. If that changes we will let you know right away."

Checking further news reports, the earthquake was measured with a magnitude of 5.8 about 30 miles to the southwest of Manzanillo at a depth of 6.1 miles. No damage was reported from the unnerving shake, rattle and roll.

Cruisers in Barra enjoy an afternoon break from chores.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Pat also mentioned that, "Last night we got word from Secondino (the harbormaster at Barra de Navidad) that he’s giving a huge discount to boats coming in for the Fiesta and boat parade: $0.70/ft/day for five days." This is for the three-day Mexican Fiesta for cruisers to raise funds for local schools starting this Friday, February 16. For more info on the event, email Pat.


Saturday was as pleasant as could be but Sunday was breeze-on. Barry Demak was out captaining a boat for Passage Nautical and crossed paths with one of the casualties. The Harbor 25 pictured below hit the rip-rap while sailing near Alameda and went aground just south of Estuary entrance buoy 8. According to the USCG helicopter broadcast on VHF 16, all members of the crew are safe, and we hope the boat was rescued to sail again. 

The pleasant winds of the last few weeks shifted gears on Sunday with some unpleasant results.

© Paula and Fred Klaske

A similar incident occurred near Richmond Yacht Club on Sunday afternoon, when a Moore 24 fetched up on the Richmond breakwater. Berkeley YC Midwinters winner Will Paxton and other volunteers jumped aboard two RYC crash boats to lend a hand and were able to pull the stranded Moore off the rocks (no helicopters needed). The RYC boats had been busy during the afternoon shepherding and rescuing young sailors in the club’s junior program.

Some of the advanced sailors at RYC took advantage of the windy conditions on Sunday to get in some heavy-air practice, an opportunity that’s been in short supply this winter.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

BYC Midwinters Like Night and Day

Saturday’s racing on the Berkeley Circle was held in the beautiful, moderately warm, light-air conditions that have been the trend in the Bay Area for more than a month.

© 2018 Patrick Hind-Smith

Berkeley Yacht Club runs midwinter series on the second Saturday and Sunday of each month, November-February. Generally speaking, the Saturdays have enjoyed moderate breeze with the Sundays light and fluky, necessitating the shortening of course for three Sundays in a row. The streak was broken yesterday, when a low-pressure system cooked up winds into the 30s. It was like sailing in squalls without the rain.

PHRF 2 start in the Berkeley Midwinters on Sunday. A nasty ebb chop raised the discomfort level. Not everyone was able to finish the twice-around course.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The BYC Midwinters will conclude with a bonus round: the Winners Race, on February 25. We’ll have more on this and other midwinters from the weekend in Racing Sheet in the March issue of Latitude 38.

When settlers first arrived on the shores of New England a few hundred years ago, they said lobsters were so plentiful they’d just wash up on the beach after a storm.
It’s been a terrible winter for skiing but pretty sweet for sailing. Driving out of San Francisco on Wednesday we noticed a few boats were ‘playing hooky’ and snagging a little hump-day sailing.