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March 2, 2018

Catching Up with the Middletons

Actually, since they’re sailing their Atlantic 57 Nogal, you won’t likely catch them. Since they left the Bay Area in spring 2016, Frank, Marilia, Julia and Sophia have sailed thousands of miles across the Pacific, had first-hand lessons on sailing the world’s oceans, kept up with some book learning, and are now are enjoying Southeast Asia.

Frank and the Middleton family left Sausalito in spring 2016 for a multi-year cruise. Nogal can clock those Pacific miles in a flash.

© 2018 Frank Middleton
Julia and Sophia still hit the books while cruising the world.

© 2018 Frank Middleton
The ‘classroom’ in Bora Bora. Sure beats third period French at San Rafael High School.

© 2018 Frank Middleton

As more Pacific Puddle Jumpers get ready to sail, we’ll be hearing more from the Middletons and other tales from the South Pacific in the months ahead.

Dodging Drops to Deliver Latitude

The only thing good in today’s forecast is the delivery of the March issue of Latitude 38 (and snow in Tahoe).

Our drivers are on the road now bringing Latitude 38 to the best waterfront businesses in the Bay Area. Delivery is also underway via common carrier from Seattle to San Diego.

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

This month’s issue contains insights on how to (maybe) make a living with video blogs while cruising; the down low on the agony and ecstasy of the 317 starters and only four finishers of this year’s Three Bridge Fiasco, the question: "After a circumnavigation where would you return to cruise?"; the Beneteau 393 Salt hits Mexico after the Ha-Ha in Changes in Latitudes; and lots more in Letters, Sightings and Max Ebb.

You’ll note our driver Erik went in the rain unprotected while the magazines got the umbrella. Travelers insurance for magazines.

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

What’s better on a rainy day than sitting back and reading the latest issue of Latitude 38? Or tomorrow you might pick up a Latitude during the forecast ‘light’ showers at Sail A Small Boat Day at Richmond Yacht Club or at midwinter races at Encinal YC, Golden Gate YC, Benicia YC, Tiburon YC or at Sausalito Midwinters on Sunday. Not sure where to sail? You can find all the race activity this weekend or the rest of March in the 2018 Calendar, here.

Hot tip of the month: you don’t need scissors to open the straps on a bundle of Latitudes — just find where the straps are joined, roll it over and peel from the back side. Gets you to your reading quickly and easily, and you don’t have to run with scissors.

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

March Inshore Racing Preview

With spring arriving in the third week of March, Midwinter Series are wrapping up this month. Laser District 24 will kick off their 2018 Svendsen’s Grand Prix Series this Sunday at the final Richmond Yacht Club Small Boat Midwinters.

An international fleet of Lasers rounds the leeward mark in a Small Boat Midwinter race last February.

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

This Saturday, March 3, the NorCal Series for Mercurys on the Estuary, hosted by Encinal YC, will kick off.

RYC’s Big Daddy Regatta offers a ‘Performance Tune-Up’ on March 10-11, with three drop-mark races on Saturday and a pursuit race on Sunday.

In last year’s Big Daddy pursuit race, Checkered Past sailed a counterclockwise course around Angel Island and Alcatraz, while Arcadia went clockwise. Checkered Past placed fifth, after Kwazy, Invisible Hand, Tiburon and Six Brothers.

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

St. Francis YC gets back in the regatta action this month with the California Dreamin’ Series (invitation-only match racing in J/22s) on March 10-11; Spring One Design for J/120, J/111, J/105, J/70, J/22, Express 37, Express 27, Melges 24 and Moore 24 classes on March 17-18; and Spring Dinghy for 5O5, C420, Nacra 15, F18, Int 14, Laser and Radial fleets on March 24-25. (Avoid a late fee for Spring One Design by registering before March 14. The early entry discount for Spring Dinghy ends March 7.)

J/105 action at a leeward and offset mark rounding in last year’s Spring One Design.

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

San Diego and Coronado YCs will host the San Diego NOOD Regatta March 16-18.

On March 17, Oakland YC offers the Rites of Spring for singlehanded, doublehanded and full crews. The race will start in the Berkeley Circle, round marks in the Central Bay, and finish in front of OYC in the Estuary. Awards, dinner and a St. Patrick’s Day Party at the club will follow.

March certainly came in like a lion, but will it go out like a lamb? Only time will tell, and the women skippers in Island YC’s Sadie Hawkins will find out on March 31. "The crew can include men, as long was they don’t touch the Sacred Wood during the race," cautions one boat owner. "Although males can’t touch the tiller, they can get yelled at and disciplined by the skipper." 

Folsom Lake YC will host the Trans-Folsom (aka Champagne Challenge), a 21-mile pursuit race for "self-righting keelboats," on March 31.

We can tell there’s a lot going on this month because we had to split our racing preview into two parts this week. In case you missed it, our March Offshore Racing Preview was posted on Wednesday.

The Latitude Movie Club: Pirates of the Caribbean

A month ago, we asked what you thought about Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Here’s what you said:

“They’re best viewed through the spyglass as an ongoing salty sea yarn,” said ‘Aaron PVI’, offering some especially sage advice for the optimum viewing experience: “As with most sea yarns they’re funnier when you’re a few sheets to the wind.” Brad Smith noted that, “When the first movie came out, a critic wrote: ‘Someone is going to get fired for this. The film is good enough to be two movies.’ That pretty much sums up the first one, the others I did not really track. For me, Captain Jack personifying Keith Richards made the film.”

The character of Captain Jack Sparrow has grown into an iconic look sported by boys, girls, men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes — and has probably been represented at every Halloween since 2003.

© 2018

Wayne Cederquist reminded us of his favorite scene: “In the first movie [The Curse of the Black Pearl], when Capt’n Jack sails a slowly sinking craft to a dock, climbs upward to avoid the rising water, then steps — totally dry — onto the dock from his now fully submerged ‘submarine’ as it comes smartly alongside the pier — that’s the best scene in the movie!” Dale Land said that Pirates is a welcome distraction, in the right context. “Watching it from 36,000 feet was a great way to spend my time flying to Ireland last September — I always enjoyed Jack and his quirky quotes. The sailing is only a small part but worth seeing the scenes on the water!”

Tom Varley had our favorite analogy about the franchise: “The first one was cool; it was fresh and fun. The second Pirates movie was palatable at best. The rest of ’em? Cashing in on the general public with tickets and merchandizing; feeding the masses’ cinematic, no-nutritional-content fast-food’ from their cinematic fast-food franchise headquarters. How tiring watching Jack Sparrow, aka Keith Richards, after the second movie. I’d rather watch a Rolling Stones documentary to see the ‘real’ pirate!”

Johnny Depp made an appearance at the BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver in full Jack Sparrow character. There are so many wonderful moments in the visit that maybe they should keep making Pirates movies forever. (We highly recommend that you click the link below).

© 2018 BC Children’s Hospital Foundation

We agree with everything that was just said, all of which points to our general thesis: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was a good movie, and everything that followed diminished in quality, fun and coherent storytelling, and repeated the same tired, monster-laden formula that was, in our sailorly opinion, the weakest part of the original plot to begin with.

Before we take out our daggers, we find ourselves needing to consider the origins of the franchise. Pirates of the Caribbean was and is, of course, a ride at Disneyland, the last attraction overseen by Walt Disney, who died three months before it opened in 1967 — the initials of Walt and Roy Disney (the father of Roy E. Disney, the sailor) are woven into the wrought iron above the antebellum New Orleans-inspired façade. If there were an Academy Award for best screenplay based on a ride, then Pirates would have been the hands-down winner and standard bearer.

The Lady Washington was one of the few fully-functioning, non-computer generated image ships to appear in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

© 2018 Grays Harbor Historical Seaport

And speaking of Academy Awards, let’s not forget that Johnny Depp was nominated for best actor for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in 2003. And rightfully so. About Depp’s performance in Black Pearl, the late Roger Ebert said he seemed “to be channeling a drunken drag queen, with his eyeliner and the way he minces ashore and slurs his dialogue ever so insouciantly . . . It can be said that his performance is original in its every atom. There has never been a pirate, or for that matter a human being, like this in any other movie. He is a peacock in full display.”

In the first Pirates, Jack Sparrow swashed and buckled his way across the screen, the perfect mix of scoundrel, brilliant, cunning captain and shit-faced drunk, but remained redeemable enough to be a rogue hero. He also gets an outstanding, Hans Zimmerman-conducted theme song played at the occasion of his entrance. (And let’s not forget another star of the original Pirates, the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport ship Lady Washington, which played the role of the HMS Interceptor. It was Lady’s fourth appearance in a major motion picture.)

In the sequels, Sparrow’s imperfections began to rule him. He became a sniveling coward, a weird, detached drunkard and a “goofball screw up” who stumbled through the movie’s weak plots in search of ways to screw everyone over. There is a notable exception to Sparrow’s gallantry: At the end of Dead Man’s Chest, Sparrow bravely squares off against the horrifying Kraken, whom he’d been cowering from for the entire movie.

This was one of a handful of moments, settings, scenes, lines and jokes in the sequels that are noteworthy, but were surrounded by endless action sequences that don’t have any demonstrable impact on the plot. After 25 minutes of sword fighting with barnacle-covered monsters, everyone retreats back to their ship, then fights them all over again a little later. No one ever dies until the end of the movies — and they usually just come back in the next one. (In an episode of The Simpsons, Bart drives a combine through a pile of manure. From the back, a copy of Pirates 3 pops out).

“You are, without a doubt, the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of.”
“But you have heard of me . . . ”

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In his critique of The Curse of the Black Pearl, Ebert sensed the juggernaut that was about to be birthed: “There’s a nice little 90-minute B movie trapped inside the 143 minutes of Pirates of the Caribbean, a movie that charms the audience and then outstays its welcome. Although the ending leaves open the possibility of a sequel, the movie feels like it already includes the sequel.” Little did Ebert know . . .

And guess what? There are rumors  of a Pirates 6. An October 2017 article in Forbes discussed the sheer economics of whether it’s cost effective to make (gulp) yet another sequel — and whether Johnny Depp is even necessary. “So, the question becomes whether or not Disney should quit while they are ahead or take a shot at another installment,” Forbes commented.

Please, just stop making Pirates movies. If you have any closing thoughts, please let us know.

After more than 20 days at sea, Team AkzoNobel sailed into Auckland, New Zealand, just 2 minutes and 14 seconds ahead of race-long rival Sun Hung Kai/ Scallywag to claim victory in Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The cruising division of the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race will start tomorrow, with additional starts on Friday and Saturday.
Putter about in a small boat or two or three — or as many as you can squeeze in — this Saturday, March 3, at Richmond Yacht Club’s Sail a Small Boat Day.