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July 6, 2018

Pacific Keel Klutter

It’s a busy time of year for the Pacific. With so many sailing events leaving the West Coast, the sea life might be sensing an invasion from their landbound descendants.  

The Pacific Puddle Jumpers left the West Coast earlier in the spring, while the Singlehanded TransPac racers are beginning to arrive in Hanalei Bay. The Vic-Maui race is underway from Victoria, BC, as well as the Shaka Challenge from Southern California — and, on Monday, the first Pacific Cup racers will head off. Phew.

In 2016 the Alma briefly led the big-boat fleet out the Gate before returning to her San Francisco Bay tour. 

©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Many of the boats are at Richmond Yacht Club’s Pacific Cup race village this weekend, and will take a break from preparations at the Mount Gay Party on Saturday afternoon. And then it’s showtime. Starts for the Pacific Cup fleet run Monday through lucky Friday the 13th (no start Tuesday) when the big boys take off to catch up to the early-week starters. 

If you want to give them a wave as they head off, you can check out the midday start times here. After that, you can follow them with the trackers as they converge with fleets from the northwest and SoCal on the islands of Hawaii. 

OK, say you’re a navigator. Which way do you go? This is the wind puzzle to be solved by boats heading to Hawaii from Victoria, San Francisco and Marina del Rey.  

© 2018

It’s a 2,070 mile sail from San Francisco, and there appears to be no shortage of West Coast sailors answering the alluring call of tropical Pacific islands.

Smoky Waters

Reader Dana Dupar sent us a few images from last weekend, as smoke from what has now become the 88,000-acre County Fire crept into the Bay, casting a bizarre, ghostly light. As of yesterday, nearly 3,500 firefighters were battling the "ferocious inferno burning in Yolo and Napa counties [which] was nearly three times the size of San Francisco," according to

Sunday, July 1, was a crazy wind day on the Bay, but any day on the Bay is a good day. With the nuking winds, fog and smoke, the sky was an eerie sight. The picture of USA 76 is not photoshopped or done with special effects. It was taken with my iPhone, but looks like the old-time sepia filter was used.

© Dana Dupar

One of our goals for the day was to move the RIB from the bow davits to stern davits, so after some sailing along the Cityfront, we went looking for an anchorage protected from the breeze. No matter where we went, the wind was blustering. On the east side of Angel Island, where the ‘lunch spot’ usually is, the wind was still there, albeit tamer than the Slot. There was a trimaran we hadn’t seen on the Bay before, so I took a picture, which captured the contrast of the white/gray fog against the smoky background. An eerie day indeed.

© Dana Dupar

We did find enough shelter on the east side of Belvedere to transfer the RIB, then sailed into 40-knot winds in Hurricane Gulch. What a ride that was, with a double-reefed main and a bit of jib.

If you have pictures of smoke on the water from this year’s exceptionally early fire season, please send them here.

First Finishers in Singlehanded TransPac

In the light of early morning, Singlehanded TransPac vets Rob MacFarlane and Synthia Petroka take newly minted vet Philippe Jamotte off Double Espresso (sailboat anchored on the right) and to the beach. Rob’s N/M 45 Tiger Beetle is the sailboat anchored on the left.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Designed and built to race to Hawaii, Olson 30s were the first boats to finish the 2018 Singlehanded TransPac on Thursday. Both were sailed by first-time SHTP skippers. Philippe Jamotte came in just before the gorgeous dawn (5:38:11 a.m. HST). Almost as soon as he stepped onto the damp sand (not quite dry land) of Hanalei Pavilion Beach, the morning’s downpour washed off the ocean salt.

Philippe wades to shore through a gentle beach break.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"The hardest part was here," he reported as soon as he’d greeted the volunteers on shore. "The squalls just kept coming, then the wind would be back, then it would veer, then die, the rain would come, and the wind would come again from behind. It was on fire like that. And then there was no wind. So finally this small breeze came up. It took me five times to catch that breeze. The rest was just par for the course, but I was not expecting this, like the Triangle of Bermuda. Am I going to disappear here or what?"

Philippe sailed the 2,200 or so miles in 11 days, 21 hours, 13 minutes on Double Espresso — without ever setting a spinnaker. The Olson 30, like other boats of her ilk, will make her new home in Kauai — Philippe is anticipating a sale to the Kauai Sailing Association, based in Nawiliwili.

The second Olson 30, David Clark’s Passages, arrived after sunset, and anchored in the dark. The shoreboat took David as close to the beach as it could go, but then the tired solo sailor had to swim a few yards, carrying his dry bag. At the race committee house, Philippe welcomed him, and the two immediately began discussing their experiences aboard their Olson 30s.

David Clark of San Diego aboard the rented shoreboat, Sea Squirrel, after finishing at 9:08:01 p.m. HST.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Greg Ashby on the Wilderness 30 Nightmare was next, approaching Kauai in blustery conditions, doing 9-10 knots. He finished after midnight.

Next up: Don Martin, who has struggled with damage to his mainsail (his only sail) and two non-working tiller pilots on the Wyliecat 30 Crinan II, is expected tonight.

Hurricane Beryl

The 2018 hurricane season has just begun, and there already appears to be a significant hurricane heading to the West Indies. On its current projected course, Hurricane Beryl is headed for Dominica, which was devastated last fall by Hurricane Maria. The storm is still several hundred miles away.

Hurricane Beryl looks ominous, but hopefully won’t pack the punch of last year’s storms. 

© 2018 NOAA

Course and wind speed could change but, right now, people are preparing for the storm, which would arrive sometime on Sunday. Once it passes, Beryl is projected to head toward Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, which are also still recovering from last year’s storms.

A Return to the Golden Globe, Part 2

On Sunday, the 18-boat Golden Globe fleet set sail from Les Sables d’Olonne, France, with their bows pointed south for the Cape of Good Hope. Frenchman Philippe Péché showed early speed off the starting line, as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston fired the gun to send the racers on their predicted 250-day, 30,000-mile nonstop circumnavigation. You can follow the race at

Britain’s Susie Goodall, the only female entrant in the 2018 Golden Globe, was all smiles with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in Les Sables d’Olonne, France.


As we mentioned last week, the 2018 Golden Globe celebrates the 50th anniversary of the original 1968 race, which was the impetus for modern circumnavigation racing as we know it. It might be difficult for some of us to grasp the new frontiers that were being staked in the original Golden Globe. The Volvo Ocean Race just finished a few weeks ago, the Clipper Round the World Race is still sailing, the Singlehanded TransPac has begun arriving in Hawaii, and the ninth Vendée Globe starts in 2020 — just to name a few. The oceans are crowded with intrepid sailors smashing records and circumnavigating their hearts out.

But in 1968, sailing around the world alone nonstop was like going to the moon. "First of all, we didn’t know if a boat could take it," said Knox-Johnston in the 2006 documentary about the Golden Globe, Deep Water. "Secondly, there was considerable doubt if a human could take it. A psychiatrist said a human would go mad if they tried doing it."

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in the 2006 film Deep Water.

© 2018 ‘Deep Water’ IFC Films

The original Golden Globe had its roots in the historic voyage of aviator and sailor Sir Francis Chichester, who singlehanded from the UK to Australia where he stopped for repairs, then sailed back to the UK. He was 66 years old, and returned to a reception in England that, again, might be difficult for modern sailors to grasp. "Chichester started the ball rolling," said journalist Ted Hynds in Deep Water. "People started looking: What was the new horizon; what was the next frontier?"

Top: Sir Francis Chichester meets Queen Elizabeth II, moments before he was a ‘Sir’. Bottom: the boisterous reception for Chichester upon his return to the UK.  

© 2018 ‘Deep Water’ IFC Films

While the Golden Globe would make Knox-Johnston a hero and Bernard Moitessier an iconic "mystic," Donald Crowhurst’s embellished voyage and apparent suicide put a dark twist on the race. It is difficult — if not impossible — to explain why Crowhurst felt compelled to enter the event. He was not an experienced bluewater sailor, nor did he have a proven vessel like Knox-Johnston’s Suhaili or Moitessier’s Joshua. Instead, he set sail in an untested 40-ft trimaran that began to leak almost immediately. Knowing that heading into the Southern Ocean would mean almost certain death, Crowhurst drifted off the coast of South America for months while reporting false positions.

Donald Crowhurst in Deep Water.

© 2018 ‘Deep Water’ IFC Films

"My father was at the stage of his life where he needed to take on a challenge that would show the skills and abilities he had, which he had felt frustrated that he was unable to show in his business," said Simon Crowhurst, Donald’s son, in Deep Water. "Chichester had achieved something on a heroic scale, and was recognized for it. He had performed a tremendous feat that everybody could see and admire. In a sense, my father wanted to take on that role, take on that persona."

We cannot recommend Deep Water enough as both a record of the original Golden Globe, as well as a documentation of Donald Crowhurt’s tragic descent into waters that were over his head. The entire movie is available on YouTube.

If you have comments about the movie, or the original or modern Golden Globe, please send them here.

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