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August 22, 2018

Hurricane Lane Approaches Hawaii

There’s trouble brewing in paradise. Hurricane Lane is traveling outside the ‘normal’ lanes of travel for Pacific hurricanes, which generally stay south of the Hawaiian Islands. Hurricane Lane — which is now a rare Pacific Category 5 storm — is packing winds up to 160 mph near the center. It’s only the second Category 5 storm to travel within 350 miles of Hawaii (the other was Hurricane John in 1994). 

These are the images that worry sailors and landlubbers both. Hopefully Hurricane Lane will take a favorable direction.

© 2018 NOAA

The storm will close in on the Hawaiian archipelago later today, but looking at the current NOAA track, the center could stay south of a direct hit to the islands — that doesn’t mean associated winds, rain and waves couldn’t create havoc in the marinas and on shore. The Ala Wai Harbor on the south shore of Oahu, which has been in a constant state of disrepair for years, could be exposed to some pummeling waves ahead of the storm and, depending on the course of the storm center, severe winds.

This file photo of the Ala Wai is dated, but we continue to get letters from readers about its constant state of disrepair. The harbor is likely not well prepared for hurricane force winds and swell.

©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Hurricane Iniki, a Category 4 storm, hit Hawaii back in 1992. Just a few weeks ago, Hurricane Hector passed to the south of Hawaii, also as a Category 4. 

This storm track is really menacing.

© 2018 NOAA

Schools on the Big Island and Maui are now closed as it’s time to get prepared and hope the storm veers safely away from land.

Golden Globe Nears First Cape

The 2018 Golden Globe Race is nearing the first of the Great Capes, and the fleet is sitting in every different type of weather imaginable, from placid wind to the first hints of the Roaring 40s. Frenchman Jean-Luc Van Den Heede is in the lead, and the "first to open the way of the Great South, thanks to the high winds providing an ideal angle for speed," a Golden Globe press release read.

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede training onboard his Rustler 36 Matmut last March.

© 2018 Golden Globe Race PPL Media

A few days ago, "race organizers posted two navigation warnings to the fleet on Sunday, and today have raised the southern limit to 42°S from Longitude 40°E to keep the fleet clear of the worst conditions in the South Indian Ocean." Keep in mind that racers do not have laptops with weather forecasts — the participants of the modern Golden Globe are limited to sailing similar yachts and equipment to what was available to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in 1968, which "means sailing without modern technology or benefit of satellite based navigation aids." 

Three sailors have already dropped out of the race, and two others have dropped down to the "Chichester" class, making one stop, but still hoping to complete their circumnavigation.

It’s an especially varied playing field near the Cape of Good Hope.

© 2018 Golden Globe Race

The bulk of the fleet is approximately two weeks ahead of Knox-Johnston’s position 50 years ago. "It is clear that the remnants of the winter storms are still running through the 40 and 50 latitudes. Raising the exclusion line to 42°S now is a prudent measure to keep the 2018 GGR fleet from straying into the worst of this weather."

You can follow the race here.

Tales of the Delta, Part 3

Tom Lueck’s Stockton-based Sir Leansalot is a heavily raced Hunter 40.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Latitude 38 readers are no doubt familiar with the Delta Ditch Run, a usually/mostly downwind race from Richmond to Stockton. But they may not realize that there is more racing happening on the San Joaquin River. Stockton Sailing Club hosts the finish of the DDR, but they also have an active racing schedule from March through December. And yet that large club is not the only one hosting races on the San Joaquin.

Miss Savannah, an aging Morgan 30-2, is raced by SSC’s Humphreys family in the Franks Tract Regatta.

©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A much smaller sailing club, both in terms of geographic footprint and membership, Andreas Cove Yacht Club’s big regatta of the year is the Franks Tract Regatta. The event is a yacht club challenge, wherein three ‘cruising’ boats from each club compete to earn the coveted Tractor Trophy. The perpetual tends to go back and forth between ACYC and SSC; the only other clubs that have won it have been Folsom Lake YC and San Francisco YC. But anyone can race and be scored.

The Tractor Trophy was made by a high school metal shop teacher. Barbie, aka Bobbie, was found in the gutter during SSC’s B.O.B. (Born on the Bayou) Regatta in July. She’s been clothed in a Tibetan prayer flag.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

This year’s regatta was held under smoky skies on August 4-5. A little of everything was on tap for the eight boats participating: The first race on Saturday was held in light air; the second was breeze-on. The single race on Sunday had just about perfect conditions.

In brisk breeze on Saturday afternoon, the Olson 30 Slum Dog whacked this daymark, taking out stanchions and lifeline on the starboard quarter, and scraping one of the crew on the back. Most of the marks in the race, including this start-finish pin, are hard daymarks.

©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Skipper Mike Little shows us some of the damage. At least he’s smiling.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Slum Dog wasn’t the only casualty. Bowman Chris arrived at the party on Saturday with Miss Savannah’s lifeline imprinted on his face (the bloody shirt is a nice touch). "We went into a jibe, the spinnaker pole trigger jammed on the shackle because the shackle was too small, and then we turned around," he explains. "I tried to trip it as we lurched one way and then lurched the other, and I let go of the pole and decided to do a face plant on the lifelines.”

©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Aboard their floating clubhouse at Brannan’s Island Time Marina on Sevenmile Slough, ACYC hosted dinners on Friday and Saturday night and continental breakfasts in conjunction with brief skippers’ meetings on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

No formal awards ceremony, but Cam from Sir Leansalot hands the trophy to winning skipper Jillian Humphreys of Miss Savannah.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

This year, the trophy went to SSC. For results, see Regatta Network.

A Recounting of a Sea Scout Rescue

In July, the Sea Scouts rescued a distressed kayaker who had been in the water for nearly six hours with no lifejacket and no wetsuit. Here is a recounting of that incident from Ken Shupe, the skipper of the Sea Scout ship Pegasus.

"On the morning of Friday, July 20, Sea Scout Ship 09 — and members from Troop 09 of Island Yacht Club — were cruising our two vessels: the Sea Fox (a 42-ft ex-Navy power vessel) and Pegasus (a 36-ft sailing vessel) on our annual summer cruise. I was the adult in charge of Pegasus. As we were getting underway from San Francisco, the Sea Scout on navigation watch heard the marine information broadcast pan pan, notifying vessels of an active missing person search. We continued cruising from Mariposa-Hunters Point Yacht Club to our next destination, Pittsburg Marina.

From left: Kenny Kirwin, 18; Mason Ensley, 16; Cole Harris, 18; and Johnny Amaden, 13.

© Alameda Sea Scouts

Just before 2:30 a.m. — as the scouts were rotating the watch — we crossed under the eastern span of the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge and noticed quite a few law enforcement vessels several miles to the west of us in San Rafael — the flashing blue lights were unmistakable from the water. The outgoing watch was sharing standing orders and directions with the on-coming watch, when I noticed something dark floating in the water about 100 yards off our port bow. I asked the helmsman, Kenny Kirwin, to please come left. Something didn’t look right, so I asked Scout Cole Harris, who was helping switch the watch, to come back up on deck to put another set of eyes on this strange object. 

As Harris came on deck, I heard a voice. It was not clear at all. I gave Kirwin direct orders on how to steer closer to the object in the water. We came within 10 feet of the object, and only as we were right on top of it was it clear that a man was desperately clutching to a swamped inflatable kayak.

He said something, but it was incoherent, and he was not wearing any PFD. He was trying to speak and nodded his head. By this time, Harris had begun to slow the boat down by letting pressure out of the sails. I told the man, "I will come right back, I have to drop my sails! I will be right back just hold on!" I called out "Man overboard!" 

Once the vessel was turned, I gave directions to Kirwin to drive up to the victim. He slowed the vessel and followed every direction given. By this time Johnny Amaden and Mason Ensley were on deck with boat hooks. We approached the victim on our starboard side and hooked his swamped vessel, while Kirwin kept the vessel safe and away from the abandoned piers, bridge and islands.

Harris and I tried to secure the boarding ladder. The holding bolt for the mount broke off, so we tied off the ladder using dock lines. We helped the man out of the water. His progress was slow and he was clearly sore, in pain and suffering from hypothermia. 

Once he was onboard, scouts Amaden, Ensley and Harris wrapped the man in several ship’s blankets and administered room-temperature bottled water, and started a dialog to keep the man conscious. Once I knew that we’d secured the victim, I called the Coast Guard. Just after 3:00 a.m., a USCG vessel rendezvoused with ours and maneuvered to retrieve the victim, whose name was Oscar. He told us that two other vessels had passed him that night but hadn’t seen him or stopped. It was clear that Oscar, who was dressed in only an undershirt and shorts, had fallen out of his kayak during the day and was unable to reboard. The Coast Guard boat expertly came along our starboard side and we were able to transfer Oscar and his kayak. By this time, he had become more coherent and was blessing us. The Coast Guard departed right away and we continued on to our destination.

I have to say as a skipper, I am very proud of these four scouts. They acted quickly, followed every direction given by myself or the Coast Guard, and each one of them preformed a very critical part in saving Oscar. They acted according to their scouting training, and did it with a smile. They were even cracking jokes with Oscar and instructing him on lifejackets.

We practice these skills with the scouts hoping never to have to use them, but I am glad we have that practice. Because we saved a life that night.

Chris Lewis’s Catalina 42 Carmelita disappears in a trough on the Potato Patch while racing up to Drake’s Bay on Saturday.
Has anyone ever heard of the Treasure Island-class sailboat? The design was a hard-chined and possibly plywood 21- to 23-footer.
On Wednesday, a sneak peek of the documentary We the Voyagers will be screened at the San Francisco Yacht Club.