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November 21, 2018

Why Iguanas Have Thick Skin

When you live on a boat in the tropics year-round, you adjust to the challenges of wind, rain and extreme heat every day as needs arise — protecting expensive gear from sun damage, attending to leaks, and keeping mold and mildew at bay. But when you button up your boat and leave it unattended for months at a time, you run the risk of returning to unexpected surprises.

If humankind were intended to lie naked in the sun all day, our skin might resemble the indomitable iguana’s.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

We left our Cross trimaran Little Wing at Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, in Paradise Village Marina for four and a half months during the height of the summertime rainy season, when both humidity and air temperatures were ‘redlining’. At one point during August a dock neighbor who’d stayed with his boat reported 100-degree temps inside his partly air-conditioned boat!

Nevertheless, when we returned this month we were pleasantly surprised to find virtually no mold or mildew inside, apparently thanks to the dehumidifier we’d left in the salon and a couple of old-school DampRid hanging moisture-absorber bags in the hanging lockers.

These nearly new, fancy bungees are multi-adjustable, but the summer sun destroyed them.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

Outside, however, we made some interesting discoveries — some predictable and some surprising. Brand-new bungee cords had disintegrated, oars had shed their varnish like molting snakes, unpainted caulking had shriveled, the plastic feet that hold our solar panels turned from bright white to yellow, and the plastic ‘funnel’ of our handheld air horn turned — swear to God — from bright red to dark blue.

This old air horn has been exposed to Bay Area sun for years, but the Mexico summer literally changed it from red to blue. Still works though.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

The only serious issue was that some sort of mold or fungus grew between the (one-part) paint and primer layers on some areas of our topsides. (It’s a cold-molded boat, not fiberglass.) One of the local paint gurus, Leonardo, surmised that the one-part polyurethane paint in question was not “fuerte” enough for the Mexican sun. He gave us a great price on replacing it with an Awlgrip-like two-part material that’s available locally.

Bad paint
It was no big deal that the plastic legs on our solar panels turned yellow, but the mold spots in our one-part paint were an expensive bummer.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

The bottom line takeaway: Many sailors leave their boats unattended in the tropics for months at a time with little or no damage. If you follow their lead, just remember to clear your decks of everything you can to protect them from damage by the elements. Some even pull their halyards, but we’re not quite that fanatical.

Transpac Entry Record Beckons

Still eight months out, the 2019 Transpac is already primed to be one of the biggest and best ever. The 50th edition of the West Coast’s most famous offshore yacht race has garnered 77 entries, putting it just three away from its all-time record. While the current entries are likely to endure some level of attrition over the next eight months, we wouldn’t be surprised if the race sees close to 100 entries before the May 31 entry deadline. We know of a number of campaigns aiming to be on the start line that are not yet registered. There’s sure to be many more that are off our radar.

Mayhem off Oahu
One of the boats not yet registered is Steven Eder’s Waikiki-based Hobie 33 Mayhem, seen here ripping toward the west side of Oahu. With two Hobie 33s already entered, there’s a rumor of four or five crews planning to make the 2,225-mile passage in the 33-ft ultralights.
© 2018 Ronnie Simpson

Transpac is known for its long, downwind surfing runs in the northeast trade winds before a brilliant finish off Diamond Head and a huge aloha welcome in Waikiki. It’s a race that is near and dear to the hearts of many sailors and race supporters. While dozens of teams are in West Coast boatyards preparing in earnest, dozens of volunteers are organizing at multiple yacht clubs in California and Hawaii. Transpac is a massive production with a lot of logistics involved on both ends, and the scuttlebutt around the harbors is that Transpac 2019 will be something special.

Start off Pt. Fermin
The 2013 Transpac gets underway in brilliant conditions off Long Beach. With potentially record-setting fleets in 2019, we can’t wait to see the size and scope of the fleet at the start next July.
© 2018 Sharon Green

The smallest boat currently signed up is Charles Devanneaux’s A Fond le Girafon. The Figaro 3 made history this summer as the first boat equipped with hydrofoils to enter the Pacific Cup. The largest boat entered is Troy Sears’ schooner America, a 138-ft replica of the yacht that won the very first America’s Cup. Many of the race’s most popular designs will show up in force for what should create some truly memorable divisional rivalries. The Santa Cruz 50 and 52 fleet is already back in the double digits with 10 boats on the roster thus far. The Cal 40s have sprung back into action — seven have already signed up. No fewer than seven sleds have signed up, as well as some proper maxis. A Volvo 70, a canting-keel Botin 80 and a 100-ft supermaxi will join the show, and a MOD 70 trimaran will gun for the overall course record again.

One of the cruisier boats entered is Russ Johnson’s Jeanneau 52.2 Blue Moon, which made a late-season return delivery back to the West Coast, crossing under the Golden Gate Bridge just a few days ago with a crew of three.
© 2018 Transpacific Yacht Club

The fleet has an interesting mix of world-class grand-prix racers, comfortable heavyweight cruisers and literally everything in between. With some six and a half months to go before the entry deadline, we’re giddy with anticipation to see what the final fleet will look like come the first starting gun on July 10. We look forward to the stunning starts off Point Fermin, with tacking duels that extend to Catalina’s west end before we lose sight of the boats only to see them a week or two later in Hawaii.

Aloha from Honolulu.

US Sailing Accepting Nominations

US Sailing has opened nominations for 2018’s Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year. Go here to access the nomination forms, read the criteria, and peruse the list of previous recipients. The list goes back to 1961 when Buddy Melges and Timothea Schneider received the awards for the “most outstanding on-the-water performance during the calendar year.”

Daniela Moroz and Caleb Paine
2016 was a good year for California, as the Rolex Yachtswoman (kiteboarder Daniela Moroz) and Yachtsman of the Year (Olympic Finn sailor Caleb Paine) both hailed from the Golden State. Jim (left) and Kathleen Kiriakis of StFYC went to New York to support their fellow club members at the ceremony.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

US Sailing will close nominations on January 7. The awards ceremony will return to San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club in February (exact date TBD; we’ll let you know).

California Wildfires
Late tomorrow, there may be some relief from the deadly Camp Fire, and the hundreds-of-miles-long blanket of dense, smoky smog that’s been choking the Bay Area for well over a week.
women's sailing
The Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay held their annual awards party at Berkeley Yacht Club yesterday afternoon.