Last weekend, a 33-ft sailboat went hard aground on Pacifica State Beach, better known as Linda Mar. According to the Coast Guard, Hecate was washed into the beach at about 1 a.m. on Sunday morning after the vessel ran out of fuel. All four crew aboard the gaff-rigged sailboat were hospitalized with minor injuries, and the boat remained hard aground toward the north end of Linda Mar, a popular beach for novice surfers (there was reportedly a dog onboard as well). The Coast Guard said they coordinated salvage operations with the owner of the vessel, the city of Pacifica and other agencies — the plan was to tow Hecate off the beach and into the Bay on Wednesday.
Reader Martin Murray picked up the story from there: "A salvage crew attempted to tow Hecate off Linda Mar on Wednesday, but she was knocked down in heavy surf and sank a few hundred yards offshore. After the tow line was attached to the boat, two salvage crew remained onboard Hecate while she was towed into the surf. The boat was listing significantly to starboard. After several near knockdowns, a big wave finally knocked the boat on its gunwale and the next wave swamped and sank it. The two crew were flung into the ocean, but were pulled into an inflatable boat that was assisting the tow."
"Within several minutes, the tug turned and headed north toward the Golden Gate. Hecate remains a few hundred yards offshore. All that is now visible is the mast and some shredded sail waving in the breeze."
The boat is in approximately 8 to 10 feet of water, according to the Coast Guard. "The owner of the vessel reported there are no hazardous materials or fuel aboard," a CG press release said. "However, Coast Guard personnel are asking the public and surfers to stay clear of the area until the situation is resolved."
Over the past 24 hours the 11-boat fleet of Clipper Round the World racers has been slowly making its way south outside the Golden Gate in the 4,100-mile leg from Seattle to Panama. The winds offshore have been light, making for slow progress in cool air under gray skies.
Currently, Qingdao is out in front followed by Dare to Lead, with Visit Seattle, led by 24-year-old female skipper Nikki Henderson, in third. Slow sailing can be frustrating, but, for many of the crew, it’s probably a nice change of pace after they faced 50-ft seas and hurricane-force winds during the previous leg, Qingdao to Seattle.
Upon reaching Panama, the fleet will transit the Canal, then resume racing to their next stopover in New York City. You can follow their progress down our coast here.
Meanwhile, the other around-the-world race, the Volvo Ocean Race, is 11 days into their leg from Brazil to Newport, RI. The seven-boat fleet is currently east of the West Indies, reaching in strong trade winds. Check on their progress here.
The first Melges IC37 arrived at New England Boatworks last Monday, and was out sailing on Tuesday afternoon after the team fitted the keel, rudder and rig. The development group, including Harry Melges, Kenny Read and designer Mark Mills, representatives from Harken, Spinlock and Southern Spars, and NYYC members onboard, sailed #001 for three days in winds between 6 and 20 knots. Ken Read enthusiastically called the first sail “Really amazing; the boat feels good!” In perfect Newport spring conditions, the assembly and sea trials went as smoothly as could be wished for.
Mills Design is based in Ireland, but founder and designer Mark Mills is from San Francisco. He grew up sailing on S.F. Bay, raced Olson 30s, and sailed a Moore 24 out of Richmond.
The IC37s are being built by Westerly Marine in Santa Ana, a manufacturer of custom performance monohulls and catamarans. The company is owned and run by Steve Lee and Lynn Bowser. Twenty boats are planned for NYYC, plus 10 more for the West Coast. For more info, see our Sightings piece in the February issue of Latitude 38.
On a recent trip back East, San Francisco Bay Area racer and Latitude 38 advertiser Chris Boome, who is well versed at rounding marks in the Bay’s notoriously tricky currents, noticed one mark in strong currents that no one should ever attempt to round. The navigational mark below rests just meters from the lip of Niagara Falls. Misjudge this mark and you’ll end up heading over a 165-ft drop. As you might suspect it’s not a frequently used mark in local racing. In fact we really wonder what it’s doing there at all! We understand why a USCG buoy tender won’t be sent to pick it up.
Millions of tourists probably capture this mark in a photo, but most probably don’t notice it or have the same questions as a sailor.