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February 25, 2019

Cyclone Season Already?

We’ve seen wild winter weather all over the West Coast in the last few weeks. But a cyclone? Already?

“Typhoon Wutip is currently gathering strength just south of Guam, making it the first typhoon of 2019 and just the second one on record to spin up in this part of the Pacific in February,” according to Gizmodo, which was quoting data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“While Wutip’s stats aren’t as exceptional as some of the other monster typhoons that can roar across this part of the Pacific, its timing is certainly weird,” Gizmodo said. “Only one other typhoon has ever been recorded this close to Guam in February, according to NOAA.”
© 2019 Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies

On Friday, Wutip had winds of 120 mph, which is the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane. Wave heights are said to be in the 40-ft range.

“All this puts Guam in a weird spot of having to prepare for possible typhoon impacts in what is essentially the off-season,” Gizmodo continued. “It currently sits on the outer edge of the cone of probability for where the storm could track with the southwest tip of the island most at-risk. But even if Guam doesn’t get a direct hit, the storm’s winds and rains could still lash the island. Tropical storm-force winds (that is, winds in excess of 39 mph) currently extend 184 miles to the northeast of the storm’s core and hurricane-force winds extend 46 miles outward. Given Wutip’s northward turn and that the storm is already less than 160 miles from Guam’s shores, it is all but certain the island will feel the storm’s effects in some form.”

Going, Going, Gone

This isn’t a new story. It’s an old story that is evolving before our very eyes.

Having been brought up in, around and on sailboats, we find that when we’re not sailing, we enjoy prowling the waterfront to check out boats, boatyards, marinas and whatever connects humans on land to life at sea. These days, it often feels like being an anthropologist looking for a lost civilization. But what if it’s just forgotten and not lost?

The former Cryer & Sons Boatyard has become one of those relics of the Bay Area’s yesteryear. Founded in the 1890s by Englishman William Cryer, the yard was originally located in San Francisco before moving to Oakland, and eventually resided in Brooklyn Basin, near the southeast end of the bridge to Coast Guard Island. From 1907 to 1989, Cryer & Sons was a thriving boatyard building dozens of vessels in the 30- to 80-foot range, and employing over 100 workers — its largest project was a 130-ft motoryacht built for Oakland automaker R. Clifford Durant. Now all that remains of Cryer’s is an empty building, a littered beach, and rails to nowhere. A homeless encampment has also sprung up where the yard used to be. We think it’s sad to see people living in such desperate conditions in the center of one of the wealthiest metropolises in the country.

Ironically, this decrepit relic of the Bay Area’s maritime history is at the foot of the bridge over to Coast Guard Island.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC /

Apparently, the Port of Oakland now owns the site of the boatyard, which is leased to the City of Oakland. It’s become a minor tourist attraction (for the unique brand of sightseers such as ourselves) with the requisite plaque to commemorate the site’s maritime heritage. The city is now “in the process” of deciding whether it is possible to upgrade the building for some community use. Here’s an idea: how about a maritime trade school? While much diminished over the years, the maritime trades are still a vibrant, highly skilled trade that’s difficult to “offshore.” We’ve heard many yard owners and industry experts say that there’s a dearth of skilled tradespeople.

Homeless on the waterfront
The Union Point Park adjacent to the old Cryer’s yard and Coast Guard Island is currently a collection of crude, temporary housing for the homeless.
© 2019 Brock de Lappe

Oakland is home to abundant shores graced with warm, sunny weather. It has a rich maritime history, with a namesake waterfront named after one of its native sailing sons. But Oakland (whose teachers happen to be on their third day of striking today) faces challenging obstacles to reintegrate and upgrade the city to the uses for which it is so well-suited, and with which its history is so rich. The now trendy Jack London Square, Brooklyn Basin — where a 200-slip marina is slated to be built at the northwest end of Coast Guard Island — and other parts of rapidly gentrifying Oakland are, undeniably, increasing access to and rehabilitating the Oakland waterfront.

But here lies the perilous push and pull. There are plans for more marinas, but there are fewer and fewer boatyards for all of those boats. There are people living, homeless and jobless, on the streets of the waterfront, which has had a measurable impact on marinas in the form of theft from cars and boats and vandalism at public facilities. And then there’s that lack of tradespeople filling the yard jobs that are left (to say nothing about existing tradespeople being priced out by the Bay Area’s skyrocketing cost of living).

The issue of homelessness is beyond the scope of this magazine. We have empathy for people living in difficult situations, but also recognize the issues and pressures this community presents to the waterfront.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The railways at Cryer & Sons are a rusting reminder of a glorious past. Wouldn’t it be cool to see it come alive as a maritime center again with skills training and employment opportunities for those living under tarps and pallets outside? Perhaps it’s a pipe dream, but it seems a far better use for a waterfront than walking paths, views and park benches. We only hope all the redevelopment plans include genuine access to the art, craft, industry and pleasure of sailing on the Bay.

March Racing Preview

Northern California

Many Midwinter Series will sail their final races in March. You can find a pretty darn comprehensive list in our Calendar. At least one Beer Can Series will begin in March. Wednesday night racing in Santa Cruz resumes as soon as Daylight Saving Time begins. Thus, the first beer can there will be on March 13.

Khimaira, Gentoo and California Condor at Alcatraz
A stately counterclockwise rounding of Alcatraz in last year’s Big Daddy pursuit race.
© 2019

On March 9-10 Richmond Yacht Club‘s Big Daddy Regatta, billing itself as a ‘Performance Tune-up’, will be the first big regatta of the spring season. On the same weekend, the California Dreamin’ Match Racing Series will kick off at St. Francis YC. StFYC will then host a Nacra 15 World Youth Qualifier on March 22-24. The Nacra 15 is the youth version of the Olympic-class Nacra 17 catamaran.

Among interesting events to choose from on March 23 are Sausalito YC‘s Jaws Pursuit Race, with starts and finishes off the clubhouse deck in Richardson Bay, and Oakland YC‘s Rites of Spring for singlehanders, doublehanders and full crews. StFYC will host Spring Dinghy on March 23-24.

Boats sailing around the Farallones
Is a rounding of the Farallones on your bucket list?
© 2019 Jennifer McKenna

BAMA’s 40th Doublehanded Farallones Race will kick off the ocean racing season on March 30. Those preferring the more sheltered waters of the Oakland-Alameda Estuary can sail in Island YC’s Sadie Hawkins Race that day — with the caveat that a woman must be at the helm. Farther inland, Folsom Lake YC will host the Trans-Folsom Regatta.

Southern California

The Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup on March 8-10 will see the US Naval Academy Midshipmen returning to defend their 2018 title. Also returning are 2018 runner-up UC Santa Barbara and five-time champion Cal Maritime Academy. Cal Maritime and LAYC co-host using Long Beach Sailing Foundation’s matched Catalina 37s. Gary Jobson will speak on Saturday evening. “I’ve been amazed to witness how the whole regatta comes together,” said LAYC commodore Marie Rogers. “First, the anticipation as Cal Maritime goes through the invitation vetting process. Then, the hubbub that ensues as LAYC members vie to house certain teams in their yachts or homes. When the kids arrive — often straight from the airport, in the middle of the night — they imbue our clubhouse with their distinctive, youthful exuberance.”

Gauchos on Catalina 37
The UCSB Gauchos prepare to set the kite in last year’s Harbor Cup.
© 2019 Bronny Daniels / Joysailing

Fresh off a record-breaking performance in the RORC Caribbean 600, Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati entered NHYC’s Newport to Cabo Race last week. Entries range in size from a Hobie 33 to Rio100. Starts will go off on March 14-17, with the trophy presentation scheduled for March 21.

This Maserati is 70 feet and three hulls of speed machine.
© 2019 Ted Martin

San Diego YC and Coronado YC will host a multitude of fleets for the San Diego NOOD Regatta on March 15-17. California YC in Marina del Rey will host the Laser Midwinters West on March 21-24. Long Beach YC will launch a flurry of match-racing regattas starting with the Butler Cup on March 23-24. That will be followed  on March 29-31 by the Ficker Cup, a qualifier for April’s Congressional Cup.

Kiteboarders are invited to the Kiteboard Pan American Trials in Formula Kites hosted by SDYC on March 29-31. An expected 12-15 kiteboarders will compete in a series of races off Crown Cove on Silver Strand State Beach in Coronado. World Sailing has confirmed kiteboarding as one of the 10 sailing events at the Paris 2024 Olympics. A key first step for aspiring Olympian kiters will be to represent their country at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, this summer.

The America’s Schooner Cup will be hosted by Silver Gate YC in San Diego on March 30. See Friday’s ‘Lectronic for a more complete preview of that delicious slice of maritime heritage.

For many more regattas and sailing-related events, be sure to turn to the Calendar when the March issue of Latitude 38 comes out on Friday, March 1.

Nautical Heritage
When the schooners expected for the America’s Schooner Cup cross the startline, they will represent centuries of sea time and a living snapshot of the West Coast’s sailing heritage.
Bay Area Waterfront
On Monday, February 25 at 7:00 p.m., the City of Alameda will continue to discuss the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a boatyard operator at the new Alameda Marina.
Sail a Small Boat Day
On Saturday, February 23, Richmond Yacht Club is inviting anyone interested in trying out sailing on small boats to their well-rehearsed Sail a Small Boat Day. This successful format has introduced thousands of non-sailors to sailing the Bay. We should mention — it's free.
Where skippers meet crew
Is your fondest dream to sail the seven seas in a life of adventure and exploration? To demolish the competition on the race course, freeing the fierce warrior within?