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February 14, 2018

Love Is in the . . . Water?

Hey, it’s February 14. Maybe you heard, or maybe you’re reading this and going, ‘oh shit’, I’d better go buy some damn roses and make reservations. Welcome to the Valentine’s Day edition of ‘Lectronic Latitude, where we’d like to ask the following question: Did Cupid’s arrow ever pierce your heart while onboard a boat, or while sipping bubbly on a yacht club deck?

Love is in the air. It literally was in the air in September as part of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

© 2018 Antenna Theater

The question is semi-rhetorical — we’ve heard of many lovebirds meeting at the Latitude Crew List Party, and of regatta weddings and proposals via a message on a spinnaker (seriously, that happened once at the Big Boat Series). Love and sailing go together like peas and carrots.

Kudos to the crew for getting the kite up the right way. We hope long-term use of this spinnaker didn’t cause confusion at regattas.

© 2018 Peter Lyons

We’d like to hear about your boat romances. Did you meet your significant other — or just someone significant — because of sailing? We tip our hat to all the lovers out there, but also respect all of you singles and cynics who will be perfectly happy when it’s February 15 and some corporate holiday isn’t reminding you that you’re all by your lonesome and should be buying chocolates and slaughtering flowers for someone. We feel for you too, bachelors and bachelorettes, and we hope you proudly singlehand your way through this day.

Lovebirds Ashley Perrin and Merf Owen — seen here at the San Francisco Yacht Club last April and sporting ‘Bride’ and ‘Groom’ foulies — were married last February on South Georgia Island, a British territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean. But they had their ‘ceremonial ceremony’ at Inverness Yacht Club in April after a little friendly sparring on Chance and Twist, a pair of J/120s. 

© 2018 Michelle Slade

And for everyone else, Happy Valentine’s Day.

USCG Rescues Three Crew and a Cat

Coast Guard Station Morro Bay Motor Lifeboat crews arrived on scene to assist this sailboat taking on water. The CG didn’t know the vessel’s make and size, but it looks to us like it could be a Cal 29.

© 2018 Senior Chief Petty Officer Jay Nilles USCG

On Monday, the crew of the sailing vessel Bella Gina requested assistance from Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach watchstanders. Bella Gina was taking on water six miles west of Point Piedras Blancas. Seas were in the 12- to 14-ft range, and winds were blowing 20-25 knots.

USCG Petty Officer Mark Barney of the L.A.-Long Beach public affairs office told us that the boat was headed from Morro Bay to Monterey. The crew tried to make a turn, the rudder jammed, and the rudder post began leaking. The Coast Guard helicopter and boat crews arrived on scene and attempted to dewater and tow the sailboat. Due to the sea state, the boat crew could not safely tow the vessel and recommended the passengers evacuate.

USCG video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Fogarty

The three people aboard and their cat were hoisted into a Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco Forward Operating Base Point Mugu MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and transported to Paso Robles Airport. Bella Gina was left adrift and the Coast Guard sent out a bulletin to alert mariners in the area.

Redwood Creek Cleanup

Edward Stancil, port captain for Peninsula Yacht Club and a resident of the endangered Docktown Marina since 1996, shared the following photo and letter, which he had sent to the city attorney and city council of Redwood City on February 11.

These kids (and a few adults) from the East Bay pitched in to pick up all this garbage from Redwood Creek in the South Bay. The blue building in the background used to house marine businesses.

© 2018 Edward Stancil

"We had a lot of help cleaning Redwood Creek… 2,500 lbs of trash, mostly plastic. These guys really pitch in with clean up. All this trash comes from Redwood City. Trash runs downstream.

"How many residents would have a cleanup when they should be packing? It’s not too late to help. Let’s work together to find a solution for all the small boat homes left.

"We clean the creek that our city is named after. Since you are not closing the harbor, then let 10 percent stay for security purposes. And to set an example of how to live in harmony with nature.

"Let Peninsula Yacht Club run the harbor with 14 liveaboard permits. Other yacht clubs run their own harbors. This way we can offer water access, Bay Trail, Bay Water Trail, plus small craft launch and open slips for locals to slip their watercraft. We have insurance… and skills to keep the harbor running."

Sailboats, houseboats and floating homes occupy slips at Docktown. High-density housing developments line the opposite shore of Redwood Creek.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"So here is your chance to settle all lawsuits and get Redwood City out of the harbor business, back to private operations. Thanks again for letting me clean our creek." We’ll have more on the situation at Docktown in the near future.

A sign in the window at Peninsula YC requests support of Docktown.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Incidentally, Peninsula YC will host the annual Potter Yachter Fest on March 16-18, with St. Patrick’s Day dinners on Friday and Saturday nights. Trailer sailors are welcome and should contact Ed for docking and reservations at (650) 771-1945.

Peninsula YC’s clubhouse surrounds a vintage water tower.

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Cyclone Gita Hits Tonga

Residents of Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga, are now recovering from Cyclone Gita, which blew through on Monday. Gita has been called the worst storm to hit the island nation in 60 years. Trees were uprooted and roofs blown off — including the roof of the Parliament building. Sustained winds of 120 mph with gusts of 180 mph were reported. The storm had already caused severe flooding and damage in Samoa as a Category 2 storm, but was upgraded to a Category 4 by the time it hit Tonga. So far most of the damage is in the populated capital with less boat damage as it missed the main cruising area of Vava’u. 

The eyewall of Cyclone Gita hit Tonga hard but fortunately passed to the south of the main island of Fiji.

© 2018 Windyty

We touched base with Shane Walker of Sunsail/Moorings Tonga/New Zealand, who reported, "Fortunately for Vava’u, the eye of Cyclone Gita passed approximately 200 miles to the south, and consequently we suffered no damage."

"Tongatapu was not so lucky and took the full force of the cyclone. My contacts in Tongatapu tell me that the only good thing was that it was moving quickly and that meant that the destructive force only lasted a few hours."

We also heard from Joe at Vava’u Shipwrights, who said, "All good here. The cyclone hit Tongatapu, which is well south of Vava’u, so we didn’t get anything much above 30 knots. They are full bore cleaning up down in Tongatapu now, but we still haven’t got the full picture of how extensive the damage is. Tongans are a resilient bunch though, so they’ll pull through OK.

"I’ve had a few reports from the Ha’apai as well and all seems OK. Don McIntyre from the Royal Nomuka Yacht Club says all is well there and they have only had some small damage.

"I don’t think that the coming cruising season will be affected by Gita’s passing at all and most of the clean up and reconstruction in Nuku’alofa will either be complete or well in hand by the time the first yachts start to arrive."

The South Pacific cruising season will be kicking off as the cyclone season winds down over the course of the spring. Many South Pacific-bound cruisers will be leaving the West Coast of the Americas with the Pacific Puddle Jump following send-off parties in Puerto Vallarta (March 5), Balboa YC in Panama (March 8) and Shelter Bay Marina on the Caribbean side of Panama (March 10). 

Cyclone Gita has continued its path west, passing to the south of Noumea, but it’s predicted to hook south and then east, possibly affecting New Zealand, though hopefully with reduced impact.

Running a buttonhook, Gita looks likely to head south and east. 

© 2018 NOAA
Baja Ha-Ha vet and Mexico cruising aficionado Pat McIntosh of Sacramento wrote us on Friday: "Good morning, at 8 a.m.
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.
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.