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October 5, 2018

Windless Lake Garda Latitudes

Nothing to report here, except that Baja Ha-Ha and Mexico cruising veterans Carole and Pat McIntosh headed out to visit the famed sailing site and found it glassy calm. Perhaps they’re Photoshopping all those fabulous sailing images?

Pat chillin’ on Lake Garda.

© 2018 Carole McIntosh

In the ‘always connected’ world you can pull up Latitude anytime, anywhere, but somehow there’s still nothing like the real thing.

An Unintended Transbac

Sailing in his first Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race this summer, Greg Ashby was faced with the dilemma of what to do with his boat once he finished. His dockmate at Richmond’s Marina Bay Yacht Harbor was very enthusiastic to crew for the delivery home but had no offshore experience. So Greg put his Wilderness 30 Nightmare up for sale in Hawaii. "Lookie-loos just wanted a cruising boat," he said. "My wife was leaving on a plane, asking me, ‘What are you going to do?’ I said, ‘I guess I’m sailing back.’"

Greg Ashby, at the race committee house in Hanalei, the day after finishing the 2018 SHTP.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

He provisioned with water given to him by race volunteer Dennis Maggard, whose Pacific Seacraft 37 Pamela was anchored in Hanalei Bay, food left over from racers who were shipping their boats back, and fresh food from the local store. His advice: "Bring more vegetables: Beans and rice got really starchy."

A rainbow at sea on July 24.

© Greg Ashby

"It was a bash going to weather," he said. "I got a beating crossing the trades." Dolphins surfed his bow wake, and he saw a life ring — but no body. He downloaded GRIBs twice a day, and planned to tack under the Pacific High. But he could only get as far north as 35° — he kept getting headed south. "I’m going to run out of food," he thought. "My wife was calling, saying ‘I’m missing you.’ I got into a terrible state of mind; I didn’t want to do this anymore. The High kept elongating. I contacted Commander’s Weather.

"Then I rapped my head on some acorn nuts and lost it, yelling, screaming, carrying on. I went to sleep, ate, and got an email from Commander’s Weather. ‘You go here, here and here,’ it said. That made perfect sense. I went up to 40°." He burned up 15-16 gallons of gas in his 6-hp 4-stroke outboard, motoring for 48 hours on half throttle, going about 5 knots. "Then the wind picked up, and I was sailing at 6-7 knots. The last 200 miles it was blowing like stink."

Greg found lots of traffic around Point Reyes, and called a couple of AIS targets. "Get their name or they won’t answer," he advises.

"This was the sunset the night I was able to see Mars, Jupiter and Venus together in the night sky."

© Greg Ashby

Nightmare’s delivery took 21 days. By the time Greg arrived back in San Francisco Bay he enjoyed sailing again. The next SSS regatta was the Drake’s Bay Race on August 18-19. He contacted SHTP fleetmate Tom Boussie, whose Capo 30 JouJou was being shipped back from Hawaii. "What the heck," he said to Tom, "I got a boat, let’s do it."

Greg and Tom at the start of Sunday morning’s Drake’s Bay II on August 19.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For Part 1, with reports from Cliff Shaw of Rainbow and Carliane Johnson of Kyntanna, see Sightings in the October issue of Latitude 38. We’ll have more Tales of the Transbac in upcoming editions of ‘Lectronic Latitude.

Fleet Week from Aquatic Park

We got the following message from National Park officials at Aquatic Park:

Aquatic Park Cove anchor permits for Fleet Week are sold out. Day use however, is still authorized. Also,, the site we use for selling anchor permits, will be down today during a transition to a new system.

Everything looks better from Aquatic Park, especially Fleet Week.

© 2018 National Park Service

Anyone with questions related to anchor permits should contact David Pelfrey at 415-716-1807 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. until the site is up and running.

The Sailing Statesman

Many RVers proudly adorn their rigs with stickers from all the states they’ve visited. And we’ve all heard about that diehard baseball or football fanatic who has made it a mission to attend games at all the famous stadiums across the country. But Ohio Latitude reader Al Michaud had a different travel goal in mind . . . 

The idea came to me in the summer of 2001, while taking a shower. I was thinking about the different places I had sailed, and realized they were spread out over about a dozen states — enough to think it would be fun to try and sail in all 50.

Sailing my home waters in Monroe, Michigan, on my Hobie 33.

© 2018 Al Michaud

My rules were simple: Sail on any navigable piece of water in any sort of sailing craft. I thought it might take 20 years. I wasn’t far off. Without the support of my wife, Barb, this scheme never would have gotten off the ground. She’s been my soulmate and sailing support crew for 47 years, helped pay for my first boat before we were married, and sailed with me for a dozen years until our second child came along. We started combining vacation travels to areas where sailing was possible. Our travels led to sailing in Oregon, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and a few other states.

The 2001 PHRF National Championships in Long Beach, California. That’s me on foredeck.

© 2018 Al Michaud

Other places came through work. I live in Ohio, but the company I worked for often had sales meetings in distant locations. When most others would hit the golf course on our afternoon off, I would head for the water to beg a ride or charter a boat to sail. Business travel helped me sail in Texas, California, Washington, Iowa and Hawaii.

As my sailing and racing experience grew, I managed to add New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin and Florida to the list. I made it to Alaska in 2013. I did have some wake-up calls. In the beginning, I thought I could just walk the docks and jump aboard a boat. But all I ever got were blank looks and polite "no thanks." That method failed every time. Another issue was that — with a few exceptions — the sailing/racing season is pretty much May-through-October across the country. That was a problem, because I wanted to race and sail my Hobie 33 during those same months. The solution was to take vacations in the fall and spring where boats are in the water.

Alaska, 2013.

© 2018 Al Michaud

By 2015, it became obvious that I would not get to all of the states by hitting only one or two per year. By then I was in my mid-60s with 17 states still to go. It was time for Plan B. I purchased a Catalina Capri 14.2 and convinced Denny, a non-sailing friend, to help me on my "Great Midwest Sailing Tour" of five states in the Heartland. I left Michigan and drove 10 hours to his home in Webster City, Iowa, towing the little Capri. The next morning, we took off for Nebraska. I had stashed a copy of Sailing for Dummies under Denny’s seat with the thought that he could peruse the book and learn a bit before we hit the water. His reply was short: "I don’t read books."

Sailing on Lake Wheeler, Alabama, in 2015 on my Capri 14.2.

© Al Michaud

It was September and the wind on Omaha’s Carter Lake was up a bit: high teens to about 20 knots. I wasn’t comfortable taking out a newbie on a boat that I, myself, had very little experience with. But the boat was fine with a reefed main, and being soloed by an anxious senior citizen. The road trip took in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri. It was fun but exhausting: Travel half the day to a lake; rig and launch; go for a sail; de-rig: pull the boat out and get it road-ready — and repeat.

Sailing out of Portland, Oregon, in 2007 on the Columbia River aboard a NY 36. That’s me with the red ball cap.

© 2018 Al Michaud

A few weeks later, Barb joined me for another road trip that checked off Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. I was down to nine states and counting! In 2017, I checked Arizona, North Dakota, New Jersey and Delaware off the list (including a win in the Cape to Cape race on a J/24 between the last two states). The year 2018 arrived with only four "unsailed" states remaining: Utah, Nevada, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

In March, I hooked up with a crew racing a Capri 30 on Lake Mead in Nevada. In May, I joined members of the Great Salt Lake Yacht Club — "Home of the World’s Saltiest Sailors" — in one of their Wednesday beer can races. Or I thought I did. Winds gusting 25-30 off the mountains turned the lake to solid whitecaps. I knew the race was going to be called off (and it was), but even if it hadn’t been, the wind blew enough water out of the harbor that the Santana 30-30 we were to sail couldn’t get out of the marina! Luckily, one of the crew members owned a Catalina 27 that could get out of the harbor; and he was game. By the time we threw off the dock lines, the wind began to abate and we had a really good sail.

Sailing on the Great Salt Lake this year . . . after the squall.

© 2018 Al Michaud

The final leg of the bucket list took me to Rhode Island and Connecticut. Again, the sailing community came though. The son of one of the local sailors I’ve raced against in Michigan happened to relocate to Connecticut. We had crewed together for a Mackinac race a few years ago, and those long-distance races tend to lock in memories and acquaintances. Thanks to Steve Frazier, Connecticut and Rhode Island became the last two sails of my 20 year quest.

Sailing in Newport, Rhode Island, this year on a Thistle.

© 2018 Al Michaud

Readers — Al’s California sails were in Long Beach and San Diego. If he ever decides that bucket list needs "topping-up" someday, we certainly hope he’ll consider sailing on San Francisco Bay. Do you have a sailing bucket list? Is there a record you’d like to go for? Please, let us know. 

Another West Coast circumnavigating attempt is about to leave the dock. Just a few minutes ago, long-time Latitude favorite Jeanne Socrates wrote: "Off and away now; no more FB until next May! Bye!"
The way forward. Will one of these graduates of Island YC’s Women’s Sailing Seminar compete in any of the women’s races coming up this month and next?