It was an absolutely wild weekend of weather here in the Bay Area that saw the cancellation of every major regatta — a rare occurrence for sailors used to 25-knot days in the summer. The Santa Cruz Mountains saw as much as five inches of rain, as did the town of San Anselmo, where several of our staff live. But other spots around the Bay experienced a patchy, fickle downpour. Yesterday, the rain was coming down sideways and in gusty sheets as we checked our docklines and watched our boats bounce in their slips.
On Saturday, firefighters helped “rescue passengers aboard a pleasure craft in distress off the Oakland Estuary,” SF Gate reported. “Officials said the boaters initially did not know where they were.” But for the most part, people seemed to (understandably) stay off the water. We’ve gotten a reprieve from the weather today, though more rain and wind is on the way this week and into next weekend.
During a deluge, it’s not uncommon to see a few boats anchored out on Richardson Bay break free from their moorings and drift to a lee shore. But according to our extremely unscientific observations this morning, all appears to be well.
There was, however, a tragic accident on Richardson Bay last week. On Monday, December 31 — with winds reported in the 30-mile-an-hour range — firefighters responded to a capsized boat, and found “a man submerged and a woman clinging to a rowboat about 200 yards offshore,” according to the Marin Independent Journal. “The man who was later pronounced dead is believed to have drowned but the cause of death is under investigation.” The people were part of the anchor-out community, according to witnesses. Neither was wearing a lifejacket.
We will have more on the continuing developments with Richardson Bay’s anchor- outs in the coming weeks.
As 2018 came to a close a new year and new wood boat were getting ready to launch. Spaulding Marine Center hosted the christening of a seven-plus-year building project by J. Parsons, who designed and built the classic in his garage at home in Tiburon. (One of the first steps was building the garage!) The boat is the culmination of vision and hard work accomplished with the help of friend and craftsman Brian Turner. Together they brought to life a unique, beautiful and elegantly built gaff-rigger that Parsons envisioned sailing the Bay.
Parsons’ long-time woodworking hobby tended toward the square corners of cabinetry. Following retirement earlier in the decade, the self-taught dinghy sailor became interested in boatbuilding. In 2010, he signed up for classes with Bob Darr at the Arques School of Traditional Boatbuilding at Spaulding in Sausalito. While learning to build boats — cabinetry with curves — in 2011-12 he drew the lines for a sailboat that Darr suggested was worth building. With lines drawn and this encouragement, Parsons decided to move ahead.
The keel was poured in 2012, but proper building couldn’t really begin until Parsons added the aforementioned garage to his house. With the garage finished and the project underway, he enlisted the help of fellow Arques student Brian Turner. The two of them have made it happen over the past five and a half years.
On the December 15th launch day, Parsons described some of the unique woods and care that went into building this masterpiece: “We sourced most of the woods from Edensaw, though some we got right out of the forest and milled ourselves. The majority of the wood is Douglas fir. The transom is black acacia, the covering board and rub rail are local eucalyptus, and the tiller is pepperwood, which is what Bob Darr calls bay laurel that grows above 1,000 feet. “The pepperwood was acquired from a farmer who had a tree fall. We milled it from there. The dark wood mast step and other pieces are purple heart, a very hard wood from South America — which was also hard on us as it dulled our tools!”
The building project didn’t leave much actual time for sailing, so Parsons got his fix by sailing J/24s out of OCSC in Berkeley. At 20 feet, the new boat is very different from a J/24, but just as ready for the Bay. With a nod to The Hobbit, her fine-grained soul was christened Treebeard. She has a full keel yet also a daggerboard to help windward performance. If all goes according to plan, the rig and final pieces will be finished early this month and she’ll get her first sail by the end of the month.
She’s got a lovely sheer and stout build, and looks finely crafted for many great years of sailing on the Bay. If you happen to see her sailing by, send us a photo, as we can’t wait to see her with sails hoisted. We’re sure she’ll be as beautiful under sail as she is at the dock.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” — Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows.
“We’re really excited about this year’s Transpac race,” says entry chairman John Sangmeister. “The 50th running of the race is a great milestone, and we have an incredible turnout,” he added. In addition to the 92 amazing teams listed on the race website, Sangmeister claims to have loose verbal commitments from several others that would push the fleet past the century mark.
“After the Sydney to Hobart, James Cooney said that they’re coming and going to bring back Comanche. Philip Turner said that Alive is coming up, and Ichi Ban told us that they are coming. We could have six or seven boats that just raced the Sydney to Hobart race. It would be an incredible turnout from the Australians. We’re very excited about it,” John added. Each of these boats would be a remarkable addition to the fleet. Comanche, the world’s fastest monohull and current course record holder, would be eligible for the ‘Barn Door’ trophy for the first time in 2019. Alive, an R/P 66 canting-keeler, just won the Rolex Sydney Hobart overall and could be one of the first boats over the line in a Transpac. Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban — either the TP52 or the Carkeek 60 — could be a serious threat to win the race overall.
Three MOD70s have signed up for Transpac, including race veteran Maserati. No word on whether the Italian campaign will be trying to foil this go-round, but in either case, they will have their hands full with fleet newcomers PowerPlay and Argo. The latter is owned by Jason Carroll, the first man to ever win two Melges 32 World Championships. Argo’s crew includes MOD70 guru and Phaedo record-setting veteran Brian Thompson. East coast legend Anderson Reggio will do the navigating.
Aside from the high-profile programs, the classic Transpac boats that we know and love have continued to register in force this year. Four Hobie 33s have signed up, with entries coming from Hawaii, Canada and SoCal. Rumors persist of more Hobie 33s aiming to enter. The biggest Cal 40 fleet since the historic 2005 race, seven of the revolutionary classic sloops will do what they were designed to do and race to Hawaii in Transpac 50. Ten Santa Cruz 50s and 52s have also signed up, as well as an impressive fleet of sleds new and old.
Still six months out, the 50th running of the Transpac — and the California Offshore Race Week that precedes it — are shaping up to be the biggest ever. Look for more updates and a thorough race preview and form guide before this summer’s once-in-a-lifetime race.
On December 29, sailboats lit up the historic Aquatic Park anchorage with colorful holiday lights for the “Lighted Night in the Cove” to support The San Francisco Maritime National Park Association. It was a beautiful evening with perfect Bay weather conditions as the colored lights sparkled against the spectacular lighted backdrop of Ghirardelli Square and San Francisco. There were five sailboats in attendance — not as many as we hoped for, but considering the time of year, it was a good turnout. Everyone had a great time as Karen and Tim Crowe hosted the evening’s potluck aboard their Catalina 44.5 Crow’s Nest.
The idea behind holding the event was to reintroduce the Aquatic Park anchorage to the boating community in a fun and festive way. Surprisingly, many sailors aren’t aware that they can motor their sailboats into the park and anchor there. According to David Pelfrey, Aquatic Park harbormaster, the cove has the anchoring capacity of 4,380 sailboats per year, yet fewer than 300 boats anchored there last year. Part of the reason for this is misleading signage at the entrance saying “No motorboats” when they are referring to “powerboats.” Sailboats with auxiliary engines and/or dinghies with small outboards are allowed. Another common belief is that only small sailboats are allowed in, when in reality, sailboats are not limited in size. The park requests that any craft over 40-ft in length and/or with a draft of 8-ft or more contact the harbormaster for best anchoring instructions.
In San Francisco Bay, the number of anchorages is limited and needs to be preserved. The Aquatic Park anchorage in particular — with its incredible location — is quite a jewel. According to Pelfrey, the National Park Service wants the boating community to take advantage of what the park has to offer and wants to expand services for the boaters, including a dinghy dock/showers/restrooms. But, they can’t justify such an investment with such low boater attendance and zero boater input. Boaters are an important element of the customer base and part of what Aquatic Park was designed for. However, there are many different constituencies using the park, so without boater input, only non-boaters are making decisions about the direction of Aquatic Park.
According to Pelfrey, “In order for change to occur, we need the boaters.”
Thoughts? Please respond below, or send your comments here, and as always, please be sure to include your Boat Name, Make and Port of Call.