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May 11, 2018

The Circumnavigators’ List

We’d like to welcome two new sailors to our West Coast Circumnavigators’ List: Jack van Ommen and Julie Spencer.

"I just thought of it," Jack wrote us a few days ago. "I completed my solo circumnavigation on March 31, 2017, in Fort Lauderdale, FL, a month after my 80th birthday." Van Ommen started his voyage from Alameda on March 16, 2005, sailed westward around the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived in June 2007 in Chesapeake Bay. He crossed the Atlantic again, sailing to Europe in 2009 on his Naja 30 Fleetwood, which he’d built from a kit to do the Singlehanded TransPac.

Jack van Ommen onboard the original Fleetwood in the French canals in 2013, just a few months before his boat was lost to a storm in the Med.

© 2018 Jack van Ommen

"I shipwrecked in 2013 on the return to the Americas in the Mediterranean," van Ommen said. He was planning on heading back across the Atlantic when he was trapped in a storm. Van Ommen was forced to backtrack a bit. "I completed the circumnavigation from the Puget Sound, departing September 12, 2016, on a copy of the shipwrecked Naja 30 via the Panama Canal. I left Alameda on this last leg on October 8, 2016."  

In early April Julie Spencer wrote asking us to include her as a West Coast circumnavigator. "Leave it to Latitude 38 to have such a list." Spencer made her round-the-world trip between 1987 and 1993 aboard Mas Alegre, a Standfast 40. "I just came across the list for the first time — it’s a fabulous list from historic to current. Each name represents an amazing chapter in our lives, filled with hundreds of remarkable stories."

The DIY ‘LL, Part 2

When you’re a boat owner, it’s inevitable that at some point (and usually when you least expect it) your DIY skills will be put to the test.  

"I was unsure what the future would hold for Sarah, my C&C 34, when the mast came crashing down in the bay of Cartagena, Colombia, in February of 2016," wrote Fred Reynolds. "It’s a miracle no one was injured or killed when it came down in a very hard gust."

Sometimes things come crashing down around you and you’ve got to think on the fly. For Fred Reynolds, ‘on the fly’ was over a year and a half in Venezuela.

© 2018 Fred Reynolds

"A new mast, shipped to Cartagena, would cost more than the boat was worth. The mast was broken just below the gooseneck, due to a failure of the 36-year-old Navtec rod terminal on the bottom of the backstay; completely my fault for not replacing the rigging years ago. I soon realized there was only one solution: Repair the mast myself. I would not trust anyone else to do it. It took me three trips down to CTG, carrying the splice and all new rigging, fittings, wiring, lights, etc over the course of a year and a half. As of August ’17, the mast is repaired and back in the boat."

Some sailors DIY from scratch. Brian Timpe said that way back in May 2009, he started building a Schionning-designed Wilderness 1100 catamaran in Seattle. "The kit supplies arrived at the Port of Seattle from Australia in a 20-foot shipping container and I was off to the races."

Epic, a Schionning-designed Wilderness 1100, on the hard in Puerto Peñasco.

© 2018 Brian and Sheri Timpe

"First I had to build the boat, design and build out the interior, including refrigeration, a watermaker, head, retractable engines, electrical system with 300 watts of solar panels (still a work in progress) and shorepower with an inverter/charger — you name it, I had to figure out what my requirements would be, what product would meet the needs, and how to install it.

"Epic was lowered into the Duwamish River on February 10, 2016, weighing in around 7900 pounds. My wife Sheri and I sold almost all of our worldly belongings (house, cars, etc) and got down to San Diego in time to be part of that year’s Baja Ha-Ha. We’re still enjoying coastal Mexico and the Gulf of California, thanks largely to the encouragement and inspiration of Richard and Latitude 38 for all of those years of DIY boat building."

And some sailors DIY as part of their boat’s regular maintenance. Windsurfing sailmaker Barry Spanier has done a little bit of everything on his Westsail 42 Cornelia. "New thru-hulls; Mast to bare, new track system, all new tangs and bolts and wires; Rebuilt stern cabin interior and new head; Resurfaced entire deck and covered with Raptor Deck; All new hatch turtle, dodger fairing and tubes, dodger; New mainsail with shortened boom; New stern pulpit on new teak rail cap; New genoa track, turning blocks, mooring cleats . . ."

Cornelia lookin’ good somewhere in the Hawaiian Islands.

© 2018 Barry Spanier

" . . . And lots of other ‘small projects’ just to keep up. Some things done early on (first Raptor Deck had to be completely replaced but the new stuff is killer good for almost two years now) had to be done over already as time flies and the sea destroys it all." Spanier has long had plans for an exciting, interesting boat that we’ll be discussing in the coming weeks.

VOR in the USA

The eighth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race has drawn to a dramatic close in Newport, Rhode Island, with Team MAPFRE capping off a stunning comeback that saw them move up from fifth to first place in the final 24 hours. Passing Team Brunel for the lead within the last 500 meters of the race, MAPFRE’s margin of victory would be an incredible 1 minute and 1 second after nearly 16 days of sailing from Itajaí, Brazil. The ‘home team’, Vestas/11th Hour Racing, rounded out the podium just 15 minutes back of the Spanish leaders, while a disappointed Dongfeng team came in fourth, at the tail end of the lead group of four.

MAPFRE and Brunel racing toward an extremely close — and light — finish off Newport. Brunel held the lead until just a few hundred yards from the finish line when MAPFRE found a zephyr of breeze that carried them over first.

© 2018 Jesus Renedo / Volvo Ocean Race

The racing from Brazil was fast and intense with a quick doldrums crossing and steady trade winds allowing the fleet to sail at more than 20 knots — roughly 500 miles per day — for much of the leg. Once outside Newport, however, the fleet went from warp speed to drifting in what must have felt like an instant. Creating a virtual restart just outside the finish, the light air out of Newport massively compressed the fleet, allowing last-placed Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag to regain more than 100 miles on the leaders and finish just three hours astern of MAPFRE.

All smiles aboard the Spanish team MAPFRE boat, after the crew eked out a close win over Team Brunel in Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Having moved up from fifth place to first place in just 24 hours, MAPFRE have also retaken the top spot on the leaderboard.

© 2018 Jesus Renedo / Volvo Ocean Race

The light air that reshuffled the fleet’s finishing orders in Newport also had a significant impact on the overall standings of the race, helping MAPFRE build a scant 3-point lead over their mostly French rivals on Dongfeng (53 points to 50 points), while Brunel sits a further 8 points back in third place with 42 points. Despite scoring their first points since Leg 3, Vestas/11th Hour Racing remains in fifth place.

The Volvo Ocean 65s are stern-tied to a dock they share with a rather large neighbor, the US Coast Guard Academy’s 295-ft 1936 barque Eagle. The in-port race in Newport will be held on Saturday, May 19.

© 2018 Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

The Newport stopover, located at Fort Adams, has been open since Tuesday afternoon and will remain so until the start of Leg 9, which will take the fleet some 3,300 miles across the Atlantic to Cardiff, Wales. Leg 9 will start on Sunday, May 20, and will be the final ‘long’ leg, with the European portion of this around-the-world race consisting of shorter, ‘sprint’ legs.


Quick Start for 25th Baja Ha-Ha

Is it because it’s the 25th annual, or is it, as always, just a great idea to set a date to sail south in the fall that 82 boats signed up in the first 48 hours since the Baja Ha-Ha registration opened at noon on Wednesday?

The Baja Ha-Ha starts as a great sail out of San Diego and continues to get better every day.

© 2018 Fin Beven

The sailing is pretty idyllic on the West Coast right now, but come November the warm waters and breezes of Mexico will be calling those ready to make the leap. The currently forming 2018 Baja Ha-Ha fleet of future voyagers is growing rapidly. Is this your year to be among them? To see who’s already on board check out the early entries here.

Way back in December 2017, we asked, "What’s your best temporary fix," or something that you MacGyvered while underway, far from the comfort of a boatyard, chandlery or docks full of sailors’ brains to pick?