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October 26, 2018

Friday News Briefs

Here are a few news nuggets for your Friday:

Coastal Mexico Escapes the Worst from Hurricane Willa

Despite its strength and ominous portents, Hurricane Willa seems to have spared Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Like Hurricane Patricia three years ago, Willa moved quickly through the coast, causing what appears to be relatively little damage. Boating interests on the coast came through unscathed (the rural, mountainous areas inland are far more prone to flash flooding).

We spoke with harbormaster Saul Lopez of Marina Mazatlan, who said the coastal city hadn’t had a direct hit from a hurricane since 1975. Lopez said that Mazatlan hardly got any rain — only wind and mist.

Paradise Village Marina harbormaster Dick Markie is urging cruisers — especially sailors preparing to do the Ha-Ha — to bring much-needed supplies with them. “We accept food, clothing, sheets, blankets, cooking utensils,” Markie told us in an email. Supplies will be taken to residents of the state of Sinaloa who have been hit with flooding and mudslides.

Coast Guard Honors Sea Scouts for Summer Rescue

In July, Alameda-based Sea Scouts aboard the Pegasus plucked a kayaker out of the water. He was hypothermic after clinging to his boat for six hours. In September, both the Coast Guard and the Boy Scouts honored those involved with the rescue at the 25th Annual Safety at Sea seminar at Coast Guard Sector San Francisco.

The Sea Scout crew was presented with the Medal of Merit at Safety at Sea in San Francisco.
© 2018 Sea Scouts

“The Boy Scouts of America recognized the Sea Scout crew with the Medal of Merit, one of the national meritorious action awards to recognize a youth member or adult leader who has performed an act of service of a rare or exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others,” a Sea Scout press release said.

The Medal of Merit is presented to 18-year-old Kenny Kirwin.
© 2018 Sea Scouts

West Coast Circumnavigators Making Good Southing

Jeanne Socrates and Randall Reeves are making good southerly progress in their respective circumnavigation attempts. “It feels like we’ve made it over the first of many hurdles,” Reeves said in a “conversation” with Monte, his Monitor windvane. “[We’re] through the damned doldrums at last. We’re finally in clean, clear breezes that are going east ahead of schedule; the sky is blue and open. There was a tropic bird earlier. We might even cross the equator tomorrow. Things are going our way.”

Randall Reeves and Moli are off the coast of South America, and somewhere near the equator.
© 2018 Randall Reeves

Not far behind Reeves, Jeanne Socrates is also making good progress. “Another lovely sailing afternoon — bright sun, good wind,” she wrote yesterday. “A full moon lit up the sea last night — went on deck several times to adjust our course as the wind shifted and it was so bright. Lovely! The downside of such a bright moon, of course, is not being able to see many stars, despite the few clouds around.”

Jeanne Socrates has made good time after leaving Victoria, British Columbia.
© 2018 Jeanne Socrates


Joke of the Week

A sailor and a pirate were recounting their adventures at sea. Seeing the pirate’s peg leg, hook and eye patch, the sailor asked: “So, how did you end up with the peg leg?”

The pirate replied: “We were caught in a huge storm and a giant wave swept me overboard. Just as me crew were pullin’ me out, a school of sharks appeared and bit me leg off.”

“Blimey!” said the sailor. “And how’d you get the hook?”

“Arrrr . . .” mused the pirate. “I got into a fight over a woman in a bar, and me hand got chopped off.”

“Crap!” remarked the sailor. “And how about the eye patch?”

“Oh that,” said the pirate, looking embarrassed. A seagull droppin’ fell into me eye.”

“You lost your eye to a seagull dropping?” the sailor asked incredulously.

“Well . . .” said the old pirate,” it was me first day with the hook.” — Yachting & Boating World

Red Bra Action

Frances Larose reports:

On Saturday, October 20, the seventh annual Red Bra Regatta — sponsored for the first time by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau — was a celebration of women’s sailing on San Francisco Bay. It was a sunny October day on the Bay, with crisp weather and sparkling water, as 14 boats headed out of South Beach Yacht Club onto the South Bay race course. The wind was too light at noon to start the first race, so it was abandoned. The teams waited eagerly for a breeze to come and fill their sails. At 2 p.m., a light breeze came up, and the boats started the race. It was worth the wait; all boats, skippered and crewed exclusively by women, participated in an invigorating competition.

Lochan Ora in the Red Bra Regatta
The Catalina 30 Lochan Ora, skippered by Marcia Bever, waits out the long postponement.
© 2018 Axel Mehnert

More than 100 women raced in this incredible event, with 60+ people spectating and supporting. After the race, a jubilant group of women piled into SBYC to hear the results. Fernanda Castelo, president of the California Inclusive Sailing organization for sailors of all abilities, brought together a powerful group of women on the Wyliecat 30 Iseult to win the Non-Spinnaker Division. Joan Byrne borrowed Squirrel, an Olson 911S, to fly the Taiwan spinnaker and support a stellar crew who won the Spinnaker Division.

Taiwan spinnaker
Squirrel (ex-Elusive), a borrowed Olson 911S, flew the Taiwan spinnaker.
© 2018 Alex Mehnert

After the race, participants enjoyed refreshments and a short presentation about sailing and touring in Taiwan by Frances Larose of PR Magic and representatives of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. Each person received a T-shirt, a raffle ticket and a goodie bag with special Taiwanese trinkets and snacks. Prizes, including stadium blankets and zodiac figurines, were given to raffle winners. The celebration continued late into the evening as everyone shared stories, discussed the race, and talked about sailing in Taiwan and other destinations worldwide.

Group of racers
The racers, during the celebration at SBYC.
© 2018 PR Magic

This year’s Red Bra Regatta was chaired by sailors Joan Byrne of Los Altos and Winnie Kelley of Santa Rosa. This beloved event began several years ago when a group of women competed against each other in the Jazz Cup. One of the women skippers jokingly decided to make a protest, and, not having a red flag handy, whipped off her red bra and flew it from the backstay. The protest was registered and inspired a free-standing all-women’s race — a regatta in which only women could compete, elevate their skills, and have unsurpassed fun.

Aerial of spinnaker leg
Competitors racing on the South Bay.
© 2018 Peter Lyons

For more, see Racing Sheet in the next issue of Latitude 38, coming out next Thursday, November 1. Details of the 2019 race will be available soon at

The Future of Estuary Park

The City of Oakland is soliciting public comment for their plans to expand and renovate Estuary Park, a lobe of landfill that juts out into the Oakland-Alameda Estuary east of Jack London Square.

Estuary Park graphic
An aerial graphic of the park neighborhood. Note that ‘JLAC’ is the Jack London Aquatic Center.
© 2018 City of Oakland

Well-presented and visually appealing information about the project can be found at A survey entitled “What would you like to see and do in the park?” is open at We took the survey and found it quick and easy, with ample opportunity to mention sailing as a use we’d like to see included in future plans. The survey will remain open until midnight on November 7.

neighborhood graphic
To put Estuary Park in context, here’s a graphic of the area. Estuary Park is the green polygon at the lower left. The docks directly across the Estuary are part of Marina Village.
© 2018 City of Oakland

We’d like to see the park be usable by sailors big and small from sailboats big and small. The photos in the Power Point slideshow include kayaking and rowing but don’t show sailing. As usual in presentations of this type, the majority of “waterfront” images show people looking at the water but not accessing it.

The Bay from a park bench
In this image, the planners must mean “connect” in the metaphoric, not literal, sense.
© 2018 City of Oakland

“In the distant past I’ve docked there to stretch my legs after sailing from San Francisco,” commented our proofreader, Jean Ouellette. Jack London Square and other Oakland waterfront businesses are within walking distance, and the Bay Trail runs through the park.

“The next community workshop will be held on Wednesday, December 6 at 6-8 p.m. at the Jack London Aquatic Center, 115 Embarcadero, Oakland,” says Ali Schwartz from the city’s Bureau of Engineering & Construction.

Everybody Loves a Parade

On Monday, the almost 170 boats signed up for the 2018 Baja Ha-Ha fleet will officially kick off the Mexico cruising season as they gather off Shelter Island for start of the 25th annual Baja Ha-Ha. To make it officially official, we’ll have officials from Mexico Tourism aboard the starting boat organized by Ken Franke of the Sportfishing Association of California. San Diego’s official America’s Cup starter gun is used to signal the fleet, while fireboats spray their hoses, and a mariachi band fires up the starters who traditionally attend the parade in the costumes they wore at the previous day’s kick-off party.

Sometimes the Navy even shows up to join the fun.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

If you have access to a boat and are looking for a good reason not to go to work  Monday morning, you can join the San Diego fireboats, the sportfishing boat Dolphin and other local sailors who join in the send-off. Boats gather off Shelter Island around 9:30 a.m. then head to the west end outside the police dock for the official (but laid back) 10 a.m. starting sequence. After all, this is a rally and not a race, so starting with your sails down, your costumes on and a whenever-you-feel-like-crossing-the-imaginary-starting-line attitude is just fine.

Swing by the starting boat in costume — after all, it is almost Halloween.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
It’s a lot of boats and a lot of fun.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

If you’ve ever had an itch to head south to Mexico with the Baja Ha-Ha and you’re in San Diego on Monday, a brief morning on the bay may be just the inspiration you need to sign up next year. Either way, it’s great fun, and we hope to see you there on Monday morning at 10 a.m. off Shelter Island.

Costumes, light air and sun defined Del Rey Yacht Club’s 2018 Halloween Monster Mash Regatta.
Hurricane Willa underwent an expected weakening as it approached the Pacific Coast of Mainland Mexico yesterday, but made landfall packing 120 mile-an-hour winds, and forcing the evacuation of approximately 4,000 people from coastal towns, according to CBS News.
What the heck is the Pacific Puddle Jump? It’s a long-established annual migration of cruising sailors from various ports along the West Coast of the Americas to French Polynesia — an ambitious bluewater crossing of 3,000 to 4,000 miles.
  Sailors should know better than to expect wind just because they’ve planned a big weekend of racing.