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November 9, 2018

Bye-Bye Ha-Ha

Recently spotted off the coast of Baja California, Mexico: a flock of boats heading south, stopping on occasion to drink, be merry and maybe play a game of softball, then taking to the high seas again. Must be the Baja Ha-Ha.

Glenn Howell’s Atlantic 55 Rocketeer having an awesome day on the water.
© 2018 Glenn Howell

The silver anniversary of one of the world’s biggest cruisers’ rallies has just wrapped up in Cabo San Lucas. You may know what that means: a little debauchery at Squid Roe.

That’s none other than the Grand Poobah himself gettin’ down in Cabo.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Mitch

“The 25th annual Baja Ha-Ha probably had the least wind of any Ha-Ha to date,” wrote Latitude founder Richard Spindler on his Facebook page. “One of the results was that participants saw an unprecedented amount of sea life. One boat saw something like 45 turtles in about an hour. The third leg had the most wind. Better than most years. But it was so light that Profligate never hit 12 knots during the entire 750 miles.”

Some of the abundant sealife on offering during this year’s light wind Ha-Ha.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Mitch
Some proud members of Latitude Nation read Latitude while changing latitudes. #latitude
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Mitch
The Grand Poobah hurls one at the softball game in Turtle Bay.
© 2018 Myron Eisenzimmer
Paul Kamen was among this year’s many Ha-Ha-ers. (Is that a tattoo, Paul?)
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Mitch

We will have a full wrap-up of this year’s Ha-Ha in the December issue of Latitude.

News Nuggets

Westpoint and BCDC Closer to Settlement

Westpoint Harbor and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission are one step closer to reaching a settlement.

At a meeting yesterday, the BCDC’s Enforcement Committee voted to move the settlement to the full BCDC board, and recommend it for approval. Four commissioners voted for approval, while one commissioner abstained. The full board is expected to meet in early December.

“I was pleasantly surprised at the tone and cooperative nature of yesterday’s meeting,” said Bob Wilson, one of the co-founders of the recently founded SF Bay Stewardship Alliance. “There was a lot of give and take — neither side views [the settlement] as perfect, but it’s acceptable. That’s the result of the hard work that [Westpoint CEO] Mark Sanders has put in with BCDC staff over last eight months.”

Within the last few weeks, the BCDC agreed to drop all of their allegations of permit violation against Westpoint Harbor, and cease all enforcement actions. The harbor in turn agreed to withdraw its public records request  — originally filed in 2017 — as well as a subsequent lawsuit as part of the settlement.

This article has been updated. 

Coast Guard Searches for Missing Sailor in Washington

Beached boat
This 29-ft sailboat was found ashore at Skiff Point on Bainbridge Island, WA. The registration number is WN 5685 JE. The boat looks to us like a Columbia 28 MkII or, if it has a full keel, a Columbia 29 MkII.
© 2018 Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi / USCG

As of last night, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound has suspended the active search for a possible person in the water, a sailor, near Bainbridge Island. A 29-ft sailboat was found beached at Skiff Point on Bainbridge Island yesterday morning. A USCG air crew from Air Station Port Angeles and a boat crew from Station Seattle, plus local law enforcement agencies, responded to the scene and searched for the missing skipper. They found a wallet and cell phone belonging to Scott Caldwell, an Olympia resident, aboard the boat. If anyone knows of Caldwell’s whereabouts or has seen him since yesterday morning, please contact Sector Puget Sound at (206) 217-6001.

yacht tender
The boat’s tender was found alongside it.
© 2018 Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi / USCG

Tonight! Captain Blood at Spaulding Marine Center in Sausalito

“Who the devil may you be?” asked a sea captain.

“Peter Blood, Medicinae Baccalaureus,” said a pirate.

“Don’t fling your French at me!” retorted the captain.

“Latin, my dull friend. It means I’m a doctor,” quipped the pirate.

“Or a liar!”

Errol Flynn as Captain Blood
© 2018 Warner Bros. Pictures

So went an exchange between Captain Hobart and Dr. (yes, doctor) Peter Blood in the 1935 film Captain Blood. We are excited beyond words, or dialogue, to partner with Spaulding Marine Center for a free screening of the swashbuckling classic tonight. The doors at Spaulding open at 6 p.m., and the movie starts at 6:30.  Beverages and popcorn will be available — please bring cash for donations. Seating is limited to 100 guests. For more information, please go to

In this age of streaming and on-demand everything, we’re reminded that movies are always better when enjoyed with an audience. We look forward to seeing you there, and we’ll have a review of Captain Blood next week on ‘Lectronic Latitude.

Season of Women Sailors

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of women’s regattas in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Southland. Here we check in on a few of them.

Linda Elias Women’s One-Design (LEMWOD) Regatta

Team Newport Harbor Yacht Club won the 27th annual Linda Elias Memorial One Design regatta, organized and sponsored by the Long Beach/Los Angeles Women’s Sailing Association and hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club on October 14.

Winning skipper Casey Hogan said, “Many of us met when we were 8 years old sailing Sabots; we have history together.” Last year, Liz Baylis helped LBYC win by serving as tactician. This year she placed second with her San Francisco YC home club. “Five decades of women sailors were represented on board,” she said.

NHYC team
The NHYC team celebrates their win at LEMWOD.
© 2018 Tracy St. John

California YC’s Marilyn Cassedy, taking third, has been sailing in the regatta for 27 years. The fourth-place team, skippered by Annie Gardner, seemed to be having the most fun. Representing Hawaii YC, they all wore grass skirts to the trophy presentation and did a hula dance.

In addition to Long Beach Sailing Foundation’s Catalina 37 fleet, organizers added Shoreline YC’s Cal 20 fleet this year. The one-design class offered opportunities for sailors of all ages and abilities to start racing. In the Cal 20 fleet, LBYC’s youth sailor Christina Van Dyke took first, with second going to LBYC’s Renee Buffington. Cal 20 skipper Madison Mansour, age 10, was named ‘Most Popular’.

Cal 20
For pure sailing fun, 1960s-era Cal 20s still deliver.
© 2018 Tracy St. John

Betsy Crowfoot, Linda Elias’s fellow Transpac racer, gave a heartfelt presentation on how Linda advanced the sport by helping her opponents improve as competitors.

Women on Water/Woman at the Helm

The 18 boats signed up in the Women’s Sailing Association’s WOW/WAH on November 3-4 experienced light air (4-6 knots) on Saturday, and light air changing to pea-soup fog on Sunday. “I had 400-ft visibility during the worst of it,” writes Del Rey YC’s race chair, Andy Kopetzky, of the conditions on Santa Monica Bay. We’ll have his race report in Racing Sheet in the December issue of Latitude 38.

All-female crews like Monica Chaban’s Hunter Legend 37.5 Rascal race in the Women on the Water division of WOW/WAH.
© 2018 Andy Kopetzky

Grace Cheney Memorial Regatta

Like the LEMWOD, Richmond YC’s Grace Cheney Regatta honors a club member who was an avid sailor, racer and volunteer. Enjoying moderate breeze, 18 female-driven boats frolicked about Central San Francisco Bay in spinnaker and non-spinnaker divisions on November 4.

Gail Yando helmed the Koides’ Sydney 36 CR Encore in the Grace Cheney Regatta.
© 2018 Richmond Yacht Club

Jill & Jack + 1

As far as we know, Island YC’s Jill & Jack + 1 is the only female-skippered triplehanded regatta for PHRF boats in existence. Seven spinnaker boats and four non-spinns raced on the Oakland-Alameda Estuary on November 4. We’ll have results and more from the Jill & Jack + 1 and Grace Cheney in December’s Racing Sheet.

Dawn Chesney, John New and Julie Pimentel won the Non-Spinnaker division of the Jill & Jack + 1 with the Islander Bahama 30 Wuvulu.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Women skippers have enjoyed an action-packed fall season. See Racing Sheet in the November issue of Latitude 38 for a report/photos Tiburon YC’s Joan Storer on October 13 and South Beach YC’s Red Bra Regatta on October 20.

Changes in ‘Lectronic Latitudes

It’s not often that we get to write about local cruising, but it’s nice to be reminded that you can. The Bay Area has never been known as a cruiser’s paradise. We have no Channel Islands, nor an abundance of harbors along the coast. But Berkeley sailors Mitchell Andrus and Quincey Cummings managed to sail out the Gate on their Kelly Peterson 46 Esprit for a long weekend, and were Truly Cruising.

My wife Quincey and I decided it was time to get out of the Bay and “head south,” but what could we get done in five days and four nights of “cruising?” Monterey? Well, that can be tough with a short window, and we had to get back to work on a Tuesday. A week before, the weather called for two days of typical northerlies at 15 knots, a day of calm, and two days of atypical southerlies, at 15 knots. “That’s it!” we exclaimed, we have our chance and we’ll have a day of rest in Monterey! Truly cruising. I did, however, tell the crew that it would be foolish to cross our fingers that early in the forecast.

We had a couple of friends join us for the trip. They’re interested in buying a Kelly Peterson 46, or similar, and wanted to do some night sailing as they had never had the opportunity before. We provisioned Esprit for 14 home-cooked meals for four, tied the dinghy down on deck, readied the jacklines, and departed the East Bay at 9 a.m. on September 27.

Food for four for five festive days.
© 2018 Mitchell Andrus

At 12 p.m. we rounded SF Main Ship Channel Buoy 84 with only three knots apparent wind, about 40 degrees off the starboard bow. We were motorsailing in very light southwesterlies. We had watched our perfect forecast wither down and peter out over the previous week, but we were going anyway. As is common when aboard with Q&M, we practiced a person overboard drill, this time to pick up a wayward and improperly disposed-of birthday balloon. Pillar Point Entrance Buoy was passed to port six hours after departure, and we had actually had two hours of wonderful light-wind sailing along the way.

Eric and Chandra with one of three balloons conveniently used as POB targets, and thankfully saved from suffocating a sea turtle.
© 2018 Mitchell Andrus

We were pleasantly greeted by friends from our dock in Berkeley, and surprised to see them there. We were expecting to see them in Monterey, where they had spent more than a month enjoying their Hallberg Rassy 42E ketch. They had tales of chasing perfect opportunities to go downwind between Drakes Bay and Monterey numerous times in the past month. But these two never sail beyond those landmarks unless it’s aboard a jet. They also have seven summers in a row, spending our winters in Chile!

Truly cruising.

We had a calm, not too chilly night anchored in Pillar Point. Given the forecast for more light winds, we decided to pass on Monterey and instead head for Santa Cruz. Enjoying a not-too-rushed morning, Q, our two crew and I departed at 8 a.m. Our friends from Chile called “Fair winds!” on the VHF.

Motoring south after leaving the SF main ship channel.
© 2018 Mitchell Andrus

Motoring at an average six and a half knots brought us to Pigeon Point Light. about three hours into the trip. By now, the wind had built to about eight knots apparent and it was on the beam. We unfurled the genoa and shut down the d-sail. The wind continued to build, sticking around 11-12 knots the rest of the way to Santa Cruz. We averaged six knots and the passage took us a little over eight hours. Sailing was such a relief; we’d all wanted to shut the engine down or turn around to sail the Bay’s reliable winds.

We discussed the merits of boats and their size, where and when to cruise, emergency procedures, what gear to have aboard, and my favorite, the K.I.S.S. method — Keep it Simple, Stupid. “Don’t buy the biggest boat you can afford, buy the smallest boat you can tolerate.” Weather, among sailors, is always a topic not glossed over. Everything from dealing with calms to prepping for hurricanes.

First Mate Quincey.
© 2018 Mitchell Andrus

Santa Cruz did not disappoint. Q and I were able to visit our favorite coffee shop and run along the beach barefoot, and even check out the boardwalk. Truly cruising. We docked Esprit three times in Santa Cruz Harbor, practicing close-quarters maneuvering and negotiating traffic that makes the Berkeley Marina look simple. Does anyone know how many charter boats are in Santa Cruz? More than I could count.

After 20 hours in town, it was time to get back to sea.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Truly Cruising in an upcoming ‘Lectronic Latitude.

Mystery at Sea
Back in September, we noted the strange case of Lewis Bennett, his wife of just three months, Isabella Hellman, and their honeymoon-gone-wrong aboard their 37-ft catamaran.
Solo Transatlantic Race
This 11th edition of the Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race has been a challenging one for the competitors and their boats.
Business News
West Marine issued a brief statement on Tuesday saying CEO Doug Robinson has left the company after less than a year in the post.