On Monday, Randall Reeves sailed under the Golden Gate, completing a circumnavigation, but not the one he had envisioned when he left San Francisco last October. This is not a homecoming. For Reeves, this is just a pit stop. He plans to sail out the Gate in September to attempt the Figure 8 Voyage again, where he hopes to circumnavigate the Southern Ocean before sailing up the Atlantic, then over the Northwest Passage and back to the Bay.
Reeves arrived in Bay Area waters last weekend. "It is a tradition of mine that after a long cruise home I anchor for the night in Drake’s Bay, before sailing the additional twenty miles south to the Golden Gate Bridge and into that Bay by a city," Reeves wrote on his blog.
"My reasons for stopping here usually have to do with softening the blow. Coming in off the sea and being driven home on a six-lane freeway is not a transition to be taken lightly. And too, Joanna [Bloor, Reeves’ wife] often makes the trip out from the city. We have a picnic on the beach and get to know each other again in a quieter world."
After suffering a few knockdowns and significant damage in the Southern Ocean, Reeves was forced to pull into Tasmania for repairs, where he made the decision to hit the reset button on the Figure 8, calling his first attempt "the longest shakedown cruise in history." After a long and at times excruciatingly slow sail through the bulk of the Pacific and making a quick stop in Hawaii, Reeves got into some heavy conditions immediately off the Northern California coast last week, encountering 30-plus knots and a "short, steep, bullying sea."
"And then it happened, the thing so dreamed of. We rounded the sea buoy and turned north into the calm, flat water of Drake’s Bay, in past Chimney Rock and the old lifeboat station where I furled the jib, rigged the anchor and weighed below the familiar sandstone cliffs. The smell of land, of drying grass and warmed earth, of chaparral and pine. After eight months and some 27,000 miles, Mo was home." Reeves said that the wind howled all night last Sunday before he weighed anchor the next day and made for the Bay.
At around 4 p.m. on Monday, Reeves sailed "Past the ragged and broken red walls surrounding Tennessee Cove and Rodeo Cove. Then we round Point Bonita. Now sun. Wind is light. I angle Mo well over toward Mile Rock to ensure we cross our outbound track emphatically on the westward side of the bridge. I don’t know why this is important; 6 p.m. Under the mighty Golden Gate and on to Cavallo Point, where my sister-in-law, her husband and two children are waiting on a rocky ledge with Joanna, my wife."
"Here, on October 28, 2017, Mo and I departed for a Figure 8 Voyage around the world. Last-minute chores and well-wishers had interrupted final goodbyes between Joanna and me — a quick hug, then slip the lines. Out of Horseshoe Cove, I raised sail and flicked off the engine. I had left many times before, but this departure put in my chest a tightness, a concentration of loneliness, apprehension. What were the challenges before me? Could I get there and back? Or, would I be the man who, like Santiago, went too far? I turned for one last glimpse of Joanna on the quay. One last wave. But the fog had taken her and the point and the hill. Before I felt quite ready, she was gone."
We hope to have a beer with Randall Reeves in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for a catch-up interview, and news of the Figure 8.2.
"No, I am not retired. Far from it. I am as busy as ever and enjoying each new project. My boats tend to be a bit ‘off mainstream’ and I think that is a good thing. I like to stretch my design legs and try unusual projects. I have this idea that boats should enhance the aesthetics of their environment," said Robert Perry on his website. The legendary Northwest boatbuilder will be giving a lecture at Sausalito Yacht Club on Sunday from 3:30 p.m. to 5. To make reservations, please follow this link.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Perry spent much of his boyhood in Sydney, Australia, before his family moved back to the US, settling in Seattle. "I got interested in boats in the eighth grade. I had to do a presentation to the class using ‘visual aids’. For some odd reason I chose sailing. I had never sailed. We were not a boating family. But my dear old dad had a reverence for boats and I guess he passed that along to me. Soon I was reading everything I could get my hands on about sailing. I became quite expert in the history of the clipper ships. I would make mock voyages and fill out a log entry every night noting another day’s record run. I began building models of sailing ships. I joined the Sea Scouts. I was soon buying sailing magazines and devouring them. One afternoon I picked up a copy of Boating and on the cover was a nice photo of a Rhodes designed Chesapeake 32. Lightning struck. I had never seen a thing designed by man that had so much beauty. I decided I would not go into the Coast Guard after all. I’d become a yacht designer."
"I am active on Facebook, and there is even a Robert H. Perry Fan Club. No, I did not start the fan club and I was very flattered that others did. We now have almost 800 members of the club and it’s a great place to exchange ideas and information on Perry designs. I update my current work on there each week. We also go off on some funny tangents once in a while, you know how sailors are. We are an eclectic and energetic group."
This Sunday’s event is BYOB — that’s Bring Your Own Books for Perry to sign (and fear not, there is a bar at SYC). For more information, please go to the Latitude 38 Facebook page. We hope to see you there!
Pulling the short straw, the Pacific Cup’s big-boat BMW of San Rafael E division is set to start today in the least favorable conditions of this week’s four starting days. If you’re the Moore 24 Foamy — the smallest boat in the fleet — we’re sure it feels a little better knowing that the 70-footers you assumed would be breathing down your neck will actually be parked in the Gulf of the Farallones on a day better suited for drop-line fishing than racing to Hawaii.
However, if you’re out front with Foamy, you have your own problems. Foamy, the Erkelens on Wolfpack and the can’t-bear-to-be separated, one-design fleet of Express 27s have all taken the southern route, which is currently the less windy part of the course. It’s the northerners that are enjoying actual breeze in the ‘Fun Race to Hawaii’, including Charles Devanneaux’s Beneteau Figaro 3 A Fond le Girafon who is about 50 miles closer to Hawaii than any other boat.
On the course, Pacific Cup media man Ronnie Simpson suggests, "The major north-south split that has taken shape in the first wave of starters will begin to play out very quickly, and while the southerly boats looked better off early on, the northerly boats are now beginning to show an advantage. Due to the patchy nature of the breeze and the fluky conditions, it’s quite difficult to predict which group will eventually come out ahead. We suspect that the northerly boats will look better in the immediate future, but that the southerly boats will poke their bows into the trade winds first and gain an advantage. Bottom line, it’s still anybody’s race and there is almost certain to be a lot of movement on the leaderboard."
The Wednesday/Thursday starts remain tightly packed on the rhumb line as they search for a way around the low-pressure, light-air system ahead. At some point, leaders will emerge and the evolving north/south split decisions will be become clearer. Right now, A Fond le Girafon is at about latitude 34:30 with 1289 miles to the finish, while Wolfpack is about 240 miles to the south at 30:40 with 1434 miles to the finish.
For the fleets following Monday’s starters, the fun in the race may come more from jokes on the rail than flat wakes astern. The long waterlines and big sail plans aboard Roy Disney’s Pyewacket, David Raney’s Rage and the rest of the big-boat fleet will only be helpful if they can find some wind to put in their sails. But the navigator’s wind challenges are all part of the game, and it’s part of the fun of racing to Hawaii. But the winds will change and hopefully the trades will blow and help everyone to the finish line before the ice melts in the Mai Tais.
Have you vacationed lately aboard a bareboat or crewed yacht? If so, we’d love to hear a little bit about your experience.
As longtime Latitude 38 readers know, for decades we’ve been publishing first-hand charter reports and detailed info on various international chartering destinations in our World of Chartering section. And we know that many of those articles have inspired other West Coast sailors to spend their precious vacation days exploring exotic destinations under sail with boatloads of family or friends.
So please help us keep this tradition going by sharing a few paragraphs about your experiences and a few of your favorite photos. If we use your report we’ll send you some official Latitude swag as a thank you!
Please tell us:
• Where and when you chartered
• Briefly, about the route you sailed
• What sailing conditions you experienced
• And tell us about a few of the highlights of your cruise — favorite anchorages, memorable shoreside activities, and funny memories.
And please share a few fun photos in ‘medium resolution’, if possible. Email your submission here. Many thanks!