For 41 years, Latitude 38 has religiously delivered our monthly magazine on the first of each month. Except when we don’t. This is one of those months. Through no fault of our own, the first is on a Sunday, so we’d rather be sailing than driving magazines all over the place. We’re delivering today and you’ll have something to read while you unplug and relax aboard this weekend.
Last month we did an impromptu delivery-day hat contest, but it didn’t go quite according to plan. We’re doing it again, and we think that makes this a ‘promptu’ contest. Last month we said, "The first person to send us a photo of themselves with the new June copy of Latitude 38 wins a hat," and we got some quick responses from clever people who had a photo of themselves with the digital edition of the magazine on their computer and a marina customer to whom we deliver to their doorstep. Fair enough, but time to revise the rules.
New rules: Digital doesn’t count, and, if you’re one of our many Bay Area distribution points, sorry, but we’re going to harshly exclude you from a chance to win. But you might nudge one of the first readers who walks into your shop, take their photo and send it in. They can win. There’s a lot of sunny sailing ahead so wearing a hat is a good idea. Send the photo here or post on Instagram with the hashtag #latitude38.
If you did reading, writing and ‘rithmetic in school, we think you’ll like the July issue. Tim did a great story about sailing on Lake Tahoe, and Max Ebb brought the ‘rithmetic to the magazine, explaining an "eight-person watch rotation (non-dogging)," which is worth reading if you’re headed off on the Pacific Cup or anywhere offshore. There’s also a Pacific Cup preview where Ronnie Simpson highlights the boats to watch, plus numerous other insightful and entertaining stories. Finally, the ‘writing’ part is supplemented by many readers who put fingers to keyboard and emailed us letters to challenge our thinking.
Enjoy the weekend, and enjoy the July issue. See you out there.
P.S. We credit Moore 24 Gruntled, which gave us the idea for our new word ‘promptu’.
Last Sunday evening at Berkeley Marina, sailors, liveaboards and pedestrians enjoying the long summer day suddenly heard tires screeching. That’s not unusual at the south end of the marina, where people often do ‘donuts’ in the Hs Lordships parking lot. But this time, the screeching was followed by a splash.
At the Cal Sailing Club, people were hanging out on the steps in front of the clubhouse when they heard an engine rev and tires squeal. "By the time I looked over, I saw a splash in the water; people were going, ‘Holy shit, was that a car?’" said a CSC instructor we spoke with this morning. He grabbed a lifejacket and jumped into a motorboat (a 15-ft Whaler) with the ‘dayleader’. Ninety seconds later, they were at the car, which witnesses said was a Dodge Hellcat Charger, a powerful automobile. (The instructor — whom we’ve decided not to identify because there are ongoing felony charges against the driver — said he wanted to add that, "Cal Adventures responded just as quickly.")
"The guy and the girlfriend were sitting on the hood," the instructor told us. "They had busted out the windshield as the car was sinking; they were in shock and hysterical, and cut up a little bit. It took a couple of minutes to get them into the boat. The guy didn’t want to leave the car, and the girlfriend didn’t want to leave the guy."
The motorboat headed the short distance back to the CSC dock with the instructor at the wheel. "I got in an argument [with the driver] about sitting down in the boat while it was moving," the instructor said. "He got pissed and decked me. So the dayleader dealt with that. By the time we got to the dock, the cops and fire department were already there." The instructor said he told the police not to let the driver go because he had just hit him, and eventually filed assault charges, but told us he’s considering dropping them, "Because that guy had a hell of a day."
The driver, a 19-year-old man from Berkeley, was arrested on "on suspicion of attempted murder . . . suspicion of felony domestic violence as well as felony battery for allegedly punching one of the good Samaritans who rescued him from his sinking car," KTVU reported.
Reader Nancy Schimmelman — who’s a liveaboard at Berkeley Marina — sent us photos from the following day, as the car was being towed out of the water. "I was told by some of the RV denizens who claimed to have seen the water entry that the driver helped his passenger out first."
"The slow exit from the Gate was costly," remarked Lee Johnson of Morning Star, sailing in the 21st Singlehanded TransPac. "Saturday night and a good part of Sunday were spent wallowing in a wind hole and drifting north." When the Valiant 32 finally sailed into the breeze, he wrote, "The laptop seems a little grumpy. Typing is sluggish – frequently interrupted by the blue circle of wait – most likely due to the constant motion."
"Greetings from the void," wrote Greg Ashby of the Wilderness 30 Nightmare on Tuesday morning. "It’s been a rough few days getting acclimated to life at sea. At first I thought the scopolamine patch wasn’t working, so I took some Dramamine. That helped. Later I found the patch stuck to my coat. Got some liquids back in me and finally some food this evening. Titia made beans and rice and put it in seal-a-meal bags that I heated in the Jetboil and are like astronaut food. Yum!"
Later on Tuesday, Mike Cunningham of the Freedom 30 Jacqueline reported from the windy reach: "Man, the last 36 hours have been like riding the freight train to Omaha. Good solid 20 knots plus quartering wave train does wonders for progress, not so great for comfort. I have spent a lot more time in the cabin so far. I monitor the world from a perch at the top of the companionway steps. Thank God for APs." When the wind dropped into the high teens, Mike shook out Jacqueline’s third reef. "I always debate this decision because it’s a PIA to put the reef back in if you misjudged conditions up ahead. But I couldn’t stand seeing SOG drop below 6 knots."
On Thursday, the fleet moved out of the windy reach and into their ‘slot cars’ phase, where the wind backs and softens along the edge of the Eastern Pacific High pressure zone. Mike Cunningham reported sunny, warm conditions with 1-15 knots of breeze.
First-timer Philippe Jarmotte reached the front of the fleet with his Olson 30 Double Espresso, is stretching out a lead, and has reached the halfway point. "My plan was to wait for the wind to veer to jibe," he wrote yesterday, "but I realized the barometric pressure kept rising and was just 1-2 mbar to the center. I decided to jibe early, around midnight. Everything went south and for about 2 hours I worked to fix the mess, a lot of bow work primarily but constantly running aft and forward, port to starboard, all the while clipped on. I’m a little tired. We’re moving slowly; it looks like everyone is. I’m eating, drinking, working the boat, communicating and not finding much sleep, not for lack of trying. One little squid landed on the stern and sprayed ink all over. I saw a flying fish and checked the keel and rudder again. All clear, and I wouldn’t mind a bath. It’s good I’m alone here!"
Read much more from the racers and the race committee at www.sfbaysss.org/shtp2018.
The fleet has the Pacific High to the north of them, and the elongated high-pressure system is dipping toward the southeast. The more northerly racers have taken a sharp turn to port to flee from it. Meanwhile, a tropical storm, Emilia, has formed far, far away, well south of Baja, and is predicted to track to the northwest, but should not impact our intrepid singlehanders.
On July 1, the Golden Globe Race will start from Les Sables d’Olonne, France, and sail nonstop and unassisted around the world. Seventeen skippers from 12 countries will take to the high seas in a race that’s purposefully low-tech and steeped in tradition.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original Golden Globe, the modern rendition of the race will be sailed in production boats between 32 and 36 ft overall and designed prior to 1988, with a full-length keel, where the rudder is attached to the keel’s trailing edge. The sailors will "be navigating with sextant on paper charts without electronic instruments or autopilots, will hand-write their logs, determine the weather for themselves, and only occasionally will they talk to the outside world when long-range high frequency and Ham radios allow," the Golden Globe website said.
First held in 1968, the original Golden Globe was eventually backed by the Sunday Times newspaper following its sponsorship of the historic 1966-67 circumnavigation of Sir Francis Chichester, who had sailed from the UK, stopped in Sydney, Australia, and sailed back to the UK in a record time of nine months and one day. The bar set, a nonstop solo circumnavigation was "about all there’s left to do now," said Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who was among several sailors suddenly vying for the new record. The Sunday Times decided to sponsor a race, rather than any one individual’s record attempt. The Golden Globe led to unimaginable fame for Knox-Johnston, a limelight that entrant Bernard Moitessier would famously shun. Both men would go on to write seminal books about their experiences.
The original Golden Globe has a history both illustrious, dark, and terrible, as the tragic story of Donald Crowhurst that would become a fixture in the lore of the race — more on that in Part 2.
Where the sailors in the original Golden Globe weren’t required to have any sailing experience and could use any type of vessel, this year’s entrants are undergoing rigorous safety inspections before they’re given the green light. As of this writing, seven sailors still had to perform a variety of solo sea trials and other safety protocols before being allowed to sail on July 1 (there is a six-day grace period until July 7).
As reported in this month’s Sightings, the 17 singlehanders setting sail in two days all have considerable offshore experience, and represent a wide range of countries: France (4), Britain (3), Australia (2), and one each from Estonia, Finland, Ireland, India, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Russia and the US. Sixty-five-year-old Hungarian-born American Istvan Kopar, aboard the Tradewind 35 Puffin, has already solo-circumnavigated in a 31-footer without the aid of GPS.
The fleet’s sole female, Susie Goodall, 28, is also its youngest skipper. Having been introduced to sailing at age three, her career thus far includes teaching sailing on dinghies, yachts and tallships, and skippering a sail training vessel. Susie is sailing aboard the Rustler 36 DHL Starlight. The fleet’s oldest competitor is legendary French singlehander Jean-Luc van den Heede, 73, sailing Matmut, also a Rustler 36. A five-time circumnavigator, van den Heede knows his way through the Southern Ocean as well as any sailor alive today. He holds the record for the fastest solo westabout circumnavigation, and has won honors in four previous solo round-the-world races beginning with the 1986 BOC Challenge.
In an age of open-water speed machines and the constant smashing of records, it’s refreshing to see a low-tech event harken to a time when many people wondered if sailing nonstop around the world alone was even possible. We tip our hat to all the skippers, and look forward to following this event over the next year.