In recent weeks, roughly 200 Pacific Puddle Jumpers made landfall in the archipelagos of French Polynesia, having completed nonstop passages of 3,000 to 4,000 miles from jumping-off points in Mexico, Panama, and elsewhere along the West Coast of the Americas.
We caught up with many of them this past weekend during the annual Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendez-vous, co-hosted by Archipelgoes and Latitude 38, with support from a variety of South Pacific organizations. This well-known three-day celebration was designed with the dual purpose of celebrating the fleet’s arrival and showcasing highly revered Polynesian cultural traditions in music, dance, sport and cuisine.
Fifty-six boats participated this year, and as is typical, the fleet was made up of cruisers from a wide range of backgrounds, sailing on an equally diverse fleet of boats. A dozen countries were represented, including boats from the US, Canada, many countries in Europe and a first-ever entry from China.
The fun kicked off Friday night at Papeete’s three-year-old Papeete Marina, where participants compared crossing stories, gathered advance cruising info from representatives of New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji, and attended a chart briefing on interisland cruising. Several local dignitaries joined the Rendez-vous staff in welcoming the fleet to their islands, before an ornately costumed dance troupe took the stage and gave the wide-eyed sailors an up-close sampling of ultra-high-energy Polynesian dance.
Saturday, fleet members made the 15-mile crossing from Papeete Harbor to Cook’s Bay, Moorea, in a just-for-fun rally/race in light to moderate breeze. After several months of sailing alone, it was big fun to be part of this cruiser armada. That evening’s highlight was another brilliant dance show featuring highly acrobatic fire dancers.
Sundays at the Rendez-vous are always focused on traditional sports, with the six-person outrigger canoe races being the ultimate highlight. For most who participated, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Look for our full report on the Rendez-vous in the August edition of Latitude 38, and our Pacific Puddle Jump crossing recap in September. (See also: www.tahiti-moorea-sailing-rdv.com and www.pacificpuddlejump.com.)
This past weekend saw full-on sailing with plenty of options for everyone. Despite the Bay Area’s notorious reputation for heavy summer winds and fog, last weekend presented a full spectrum of conditions. The Friday night beer can races had sunshine and nice breezes, the Saturday start for the OYRA race to Half Moon Bay and the Singlehanded TransPac started in gentle, sunny southwesterlies, while the Encinal Yacht Club Summer Sailstice small-boat regatta had warm, 6- to 8-knot winds on the Estuary. Sunday was a different story: sunny, cooler and breezier, with the central Bay whipped up in whitecaps. It was a good day for the Master Mariners Wooden Boat Show.
There was an amazing collection of some of the Bay Area’s most beautiful classics gathered for the wooden boat show. If you’ve never experienced the rich, old-school soul of sailing, this was the place to do it. While there’s been loads of progress in yacht design and construction, when you step aboard a wooden classic, you’re reminded that it’s impossible to reproduce the heart of a wooden sailboat in fiberglass, metal or carbon.
The annual gathering of wooden boats also produces a raft of winners for the upkeep of these stunners. This year, the awards went to:
— Peter Haywood and Ivan Poutiatine, Elizabeth Muir, Best in Show.
— John and Gena Egelston, Water Witch; Corinthian Trophy (sweat equity).
— Jennifer Hinkel, Quessant; Al Lutz Trophy (most improved in the last year).
— Water Witch; People’s Choice.
It was an award-winning weekend for sailing and, happily, there’s another ahead.
We take our hats off to the many readers who manage to get down to the waterfront to pick up the latest issue of Latitude 38. We’ve also been sending some hats (or T-shirts) to lucky readers who’ve come across our ‘Lucky Day’ flyer, which — like a Golden Ticket — we occasionally tuck into a few copies of the magazine. We just sent a t-shirt to our latest winner, Diane Hayward.
Diane wrote in to say, "Ahoy! I picked up the latest Latitude 38 at Sierra Point Yacht Club and lo! A card fell out saying I won a T-shirt or a hat! Here I am at the club entrance. Sorry for my delay in sending; I’ve been out sailing on Pegasus, which is where I’ll be wearing my new T-shirt!"
We asked Diane for a little more on her sailing life and she filled us in. Her current boat is the Sabre 42 Giselle, with a hailing port of Half Moon Bay but berthed in Brisbane. Back in 2016, Diane and her husband "were walking the docks and poring through Latitude as we refined our search for the right boat. Victims . . . er . . . ‘beneficiaries’ of boat creep, we went from the low to mid 30-footers that just weren’t quite right, and then found a beautiful Sabre 42.
"Needing to fast-track our education (we’re not exactly young), we sailed her all that torrential winter, then attended the spring Latitude 38 crew list party in hopes of getting experience on other people’s boats. One of those ‘others’ was Rich Morse from Pegasus, a wooden, 51-ft Alden ketch, and part of The Pegasus Project out of Berkeley, which — under the tireless enthusiasm of Peter Hayes — is a nonprofit that takes disadvantaged school groups to experience the beauties of sailing. Most of these kids haven’t ever been to the Bay or ocean. Seeing their reactions to being propelled over the water by the wind is a wonderful thing. Our motto is ‘No Child Left Ashore!’"
"The Pegasus Project relies on an all-volunteer crew and spends a lot of time training. Learning from the experienced crew has been invaluable. This year, I went to the Spring Crew List Party, only this time as a representative of The Pegasus Project to introduce her to other enthusiastic sailors.
"For the last two years, I’ve crewed on Pegasus in the Master Mariners Regatta. Being surrounded by these magnificent vessels is awe-inspiring. I was given the helm this year for the last two marks and the finishing leg. It was an amazing experience, and something I would have never done had it not been for Latitude and its support of all sailing. Pegasus is now training me for the position of Mate, and I love the challenge. I still rely on Latitude for inspiration with stories, letters and write-ups of activities on the Bay. Thank you so much and keep up the awesome work!"
Diane, thanks for the note and for the ‘work’ (sounds like fun) you do on Pegasus — nobody should live in the Bay Area without going sailing.
Look for a flyer in the upcoming July issue. The next winner could be you!