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October 11, 2019

‘Pronto II’ Seems Destined for the Crusher

A local, turn-of-the-century vessel is on the hard at the Army Corps of Engineers ramp in Sausalito and is likely beyond salvation, despite a long campaign from her owner to save her, as well as an outpouring of concern from the Latitude community.

Pronto II was “built by legendary Bay Area yacht builder Lester Stone as his personal yacht in 1914, and is one of only two surviving yachts in the Bay from the era; she is now the only N-Class yacht left in existence,” wrote owner Alden Bevington on a GoFundMe page from November 2018 looking to raise funds for the sloop’s restoration.

Pronto, on the far left, has been in Bay Area waters for more than 100 years.
© 2019 Lon Woodrum

Pronto II sank at anchor in mid-September in Marin waters, according to Curtis Havel, the acting harbormaster for the Richardson Bay Regional Agency, or RBRA. The boat was underwater for almost a month before finally being floated again, and ultimately dragged onto the Army Corps ramp in Sausalito.

Havel said that other agencies — such as the Sausalito Police Department and the Coast Guard — told him that “Pronto II had sunk at least two other times prior to this.” Some of our readers have confirmed that last month was not the first time Pronto II has gone under. Lon Woodrum, who volunteers as a docent on the Matthew Turner, snapped a few photos Wednesday of the boat on the hard. “It sank a year ago,” Lon said, adding that the boat is, not surprisingly, in very poor condition.

“I saw it being towed with only the mast above water just before dusk,” said Garrett Ruhland on our Instagram account. “It was pretty cool and really creepy.”

Spaulding Marine Center said they were approached several times to take on the vessel. “Unfortunately, restoration of a boat of that vintage would cost over half a million dollars, and we just don’t have the resources to take on a project of that scope,” said Spaulding’s Clark Beek.

It’s hard to see any boat in this state, especially a classic.
© 2019 Lon Woodrum

On his 2018 GoFundMe page, Bevington said, “An irreplaceable piece of maritime history, and one of San Francisco’s finest historical wooden vessels, needs immediate financial and logistical assistance to save her, bring her to safe harbor and berthage, to then begin the funding of a complete restoration.”

We have heard that owner Alden Bevington will at least salvage some hardware from Pronto II if other arrangements can’t be made.
© 2019 Lon Woodrum

On our Facebook page, a few readers expressed interest in trying to help restore Pronto II. “After reading more about her, I’m even more motivated to see her fully restored,” said Thom Maslow. “I have the means and network to bring her back. I’m a member of StFYC and believe a number of folks would be interested. She represents our history and could serve as an inspiration to adults and kids.” We appreciate the spirit, Thom.

Pronto II is not immediately scheduled to be crushed, according to Havel.

We’ll have more history about Pronto in the coming weeks. If you have any information on the vessel, please comment below, or write us here.

Cruising through an ‘Exceptional High Wind Event’

During mid-October, St. Francis Yacht Club hosts a ‘Seven-Star Cruise’ to their Tinsley Island resort on the San Joaquin River between Isleton and Stockton. StFYC invited seven other Bay Area yacht clubs: San Francisco, Corinthian, Tiburon, Marin, Loch Lomond, Sausalito and Richmond. The latter planned an extended Delta cruise to get their fleet upriver in a leisurely manner, with stops in Benicia on Wednesday night and Willow Berm on Thursday night. Wednesday and Thursday corresponded to the much-publicized Diablo wind event that prompted PG&E to shut off power to half a million customers. We figured the dire weather would discourage the cruisers, altering their itinerary for the week. We were wrong.

Braving winds in the mid- to high 20s, three cruising boats made it to Willow Berm yesterday afternoon. Jerry Keefe and Allison Lehman’s  Sabre 426 Kingfisher, Margo Louwerse and Robert Cohn’s Rival 36 Nomad, and the Wyliecat 39 Checkered Past, sailed by Kim Desenberg and Lynn Branstad, tied up to Willow Berm’s long guest dock. The cruisers expected one more, the Cal 40 Nozomi, with Robb Walker, Rowena Carlson and a friend, after dark.

Long dock
The cruisers from RYC, all tied up on the outside of the guest dock, shared the neighborhood with a Jeanneau named Santa Fe.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The sailors had a rough ride through Suisun Bay. “For the first 20 minutes out of Benicia, all was rosy,” said cruise leader Allison. “Then we had 25 knots on the nose. It never really died down. It was really gusty. I’d say, ‘It’s down to 17,’ then, ‘nope, it’s 21.’ We hit one wave so hard, a water jug burst.”

Margo had created a music video about the 2017 Baja Bash. “This was more of a bash than we had then,” she said. With wind on the nose, there was never a chance to set spinnakers. “It’ll be a beat in both directions,” said Jerry.

When Kingfisher approached the Benicia Bridge, the railroad bridge was down and a train was crossing. Uncertain about the height of the bridge, the Sabre held off and waited it out. Checkered Past came up without electronics thanks to a blown fuse. The entrance from the San Joaquin to the Mokelumne is narrow and tricky, with not much depth to spare, yet Kim made it in without bumping the mud.

Cocktails around a picnic table
Enjoying G&Ts and pupus at Willow Berm, on the Mokelumne River.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

By cocktail hour, there was not a breath of wind and the river was glass. “It was so warm when we got up here that we were able to hose the saltwater off the boat. It dried instantly.”

Today, the fleets are off to Tinsley Island in the angelic side of October weather. The idea is for everyone to mingle with one another around six massive grills, creating inter-club camaraderie.

MV Carolyn, Homer AK
While on the long march down the guest dock, we passed this interesting catamaran, the MV Carolyn. Her homeport reads Homer, AK, but her registration numbers are from Oregon.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Baja Ha-Ha flag
We spotted the yellow Baja Ha-Ha flag, nicely displayed under her flagstaff, so we looked her up. Del Urban sailed her in last year’s Ha-Ha. She was entered as a “Custom Catamaran 58.”
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Jeff Brown Yachts New West Coast Axopar Dealer

Jeff Brown Yachts adds Axopar to the line-up of premium brands.
© 2019 Axopar

Jeff Brown Yachts, located on San Diego’s Shelter Island, announced that it has joined the network of Axopar Authorized Dealers. This new partnership expands on Jeff Brown Yachts’ West Coast offering of premium brand boats that now includes Axopar, Blackfin, Brabus and Sirena Yachts.

“We are very excited and proud to have Jeff Brown Yachts as a dealer for Axopar, representing our brand on the West Coast of the United States. We have worked with Jeff in the past and admire his professionalism, passion and work ethic,” said Jan-Erik Viitala, founding partner of Axopar Boats. “Now, with both Axopar and BRABUS Marine brands being represented by Jeff Brown Yachts, his team can offer the best boats for their customers to enjoy the waters of the Western United States.” Read More

US Sailing Hires Coaches for Siebel Centers

As we reported in the October issue of Latitude 38, US Sailing designated Treasure Island Sailing Center as one of only three sites kicking off the pilot program for the Siebel Sailing Centers. The Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation funded the centers with the intention of increasing diversity and opportunities “in the sport of sailing by providing resources and support to youth sailors at public access sailing centers across the country.” Sailors will recognize Tom Siebel as the owner and skipper of a stable of racing yachts. Most visible on the California coast in recent years has been the MOD70 trimaran Orion. Siebel also happens to be a billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

Yesterday, US Sailing announced the names of the three coaches who will head up the three initial centers. Returning to TISC and serving as Siebel Sailors coach for the San Francisco Bay region is Chris Childers.

Chris Childers
Chris Childers sailing in the South Bay on a Hansa Liberty in BAADS’ Herb Meyer Cup out of South Beach Harbor. (Inset courtesy US Sailing.)
© 2019 Josh Maddox

Chris Childers started sailing at age 8 in New Jersey, where he launched his Sunfish from a dock in the backyard. He began teaching at age 16 at a community sailing center in New Jersey. He would go on to become program director. Then he launched a science and sailing summer camp for the community and increased opportunities for urban students with little access to the water through their City Sailors program.

Childers was instrumental in getting Set Sail Learn at Treasure Island Sailing Center off the ground. That program has taken more than 6,000 San Francisco fourth and fifth graders out on the water. He now has more than 17 years of experience at community sailing centers around the country.

An accomplished sailor, Chris placed second in the Sonar at the 2014 US Disabled Sailing Championship as skipper, and fourth at the 2015 Blind Sailing World Championship as a sighted guide. He races regularly on San Francisco Bay with the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors and with able-bodied crews.

“The sport and pastime of sailing can be infinitely enhanced by more people, more diversity and more ways of thinking about the challenges we face on the race course, in the middle of the ocean, or cruising with friends,” said Childers. “Sailing is for everyone, but we need everyone for sailing.” You’ll be able to read more about Chris in the upcoming November issue of Latitude 38, in the Sightings section.

Janel Zarkowsky of Annapolis will serve as the coach for the Mid-Atlantic Region at DC Sail in Washington. Meredith Dart will serve as coach for the Chicago Region, based out of Columbia Sailing School. Read more about the coaches here.

US Sailing is accepting applications from eligible sailing organizations to become official centers for the Siebel Sailors Program. Applications are due by Tuesday, October 15. Apply here. Eligibility criteria, center guidelines and answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found at They’re also looking to hire dynamic individuals to be Siebel coaches. Apply online via the US Sailing careers website.

Holiday Happenings

The goblins have yet to come collect the candy, so how can we possibly be calling for Christmas/holiday season events? Such is the fate of those who toil on a monthly magazine. Time always seems to be running ahead of itself. Fact of the matter is, we’ve got to finish up the Calendar for the November issue in the next few days, covering all of November and the first half of December. (The deadline was actually yesterday, so, you see, we’re already running behind!) We’d like to include such maritime events as turkey races, lighted boat parades, decorated harbors, waterborne Santa arrivals and the like. Please send your events ASAP to [email protected].

Gratitude in parade
The frost is not even on the pumpkins yet, but we’re already focusing on the holiday season.
© 2019 Fred Fago
Shootin' the Breeze
Say what you will about the modern America's Cup, but the launching of an entirely new class — and one of the most ambitious foiling boats to ever hit . . . or rather, skim above the water — is undeniably exciting.
Balmy Racing on San Francisco Bay
Three days of distance and buoy racing attracted eight California crews to the 2019 Express 37 Nationals hosted by Berkeley Yacht Club on October 4-6. Lingering summer-like conditions brought light but shifty winds.
Where you least expect it
I had lived for the past year in Rio Vista, in the Delta, riding a Simmer Pure Slalom board and Enduro sail, doing some fast runs but also a lot of walks of shame (back upwind up-current along the road).