Skip to content
December 27, 2019

The Dumbest Thing I Ever Did While Sailing

Who us? Nah, we’ve never done anything like that.

We were looking at some past issues of Latitude 38 when we came across some stories from July 2002. There’s always a lesson in them.

Ken Brandt wrote:

“One of the first things I learned from my dad was that in times of panic you should let go of the mainsheet and tiller and your sailboat will head up to park herself while you collect your wits.

“During my teens, I was enjoying the freedom of escaping to Long Island Sound in a borrowed Sunfish on a summer vacation. Sailing downwind in light breezes a half mile offshore, I had the daggerboard on the deck, when a swell tipped the boat and the board slid off. I hesitated a split second while imagining my options. I didn’t think I could sail upwind to the board without it in its trunk so I dove off to retrieve it knowing my boat would park herself and wait for me, right?

“With the daggerboard in hand, I turned to swim for the boat and was horrified to see it sailing merrily away — it had no board for the sail to pivot around, which would have allowed it to park! Luckily, an adrenaline-fueled swim reunited me with my ride. Ever since I have always been sure to wear flotation.”

A good rule is to always stay aboard your boat.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Latitude Archives

Michelle Slade wrote:

“The dumb thing that happens to me regularly on a boat is that someone asks me to pour cocktails.”

Seventeen years later Michelle wrote last month’s story on Rob and Andi Overton, and has a feature coming out in the January issue on Monday about Bill and Melinda Erkelens.

Got a sailing gaffe you want to share? Like us, probably not. Or maybe you really do. If so send it here. We’ll have a few more on Monday and Friday next week.

YouTube Sailors Visit Bay Area (Last Summer)

My family and I have avidly followed YouTube channel Ran Sailing for several years since this Swedish couple, Johan and Malin, untied the lines and set sail from Sweden in winter 2016. On this voyage, they sailed tens of thousands of miles down Europe, across the Atlantic, through the Caribbean and Panama Canal, to Hawaii, and the northwest of North America, and arrived in San Francisco in the summer of 2019. (Johan has accomplished two prior round-trip ocean crossings on a cruising vessel, including an expedition to Patagonia, and logged numerous sea miles on government vessels.)

My son William Thomas and I had the opportunity to anchor next to them in Richardson Bay and paddle up to say “fare thee well” the day prior to their departure through the Golden Gate on their way to SoCal and Mexico.

That’s Johan Hammarlund and Malin Löf in Sausalito last summer, with William Thomas Goza in the foreground.

On a very warm and perfect Sausalito afternoon, Malin was comfortably reading a book in the cockpit under the shade of a boom tent. She spotted us approaching and warmly greeted us with a broad smile, calm wave, and inviting “Hello there.”  (We knew Malin was approximately four months pregnant and had suffered from increased mal de mer on the passage — although she insisted on staying the course as number one crew, while Capt. Johan took on more watches and responsibilities.) Johan came up from below and told us tales of the following: their month-long anchoring around the Bay, a Napa Valley trip, and plans to “get south soon” before their US visas expired. We bade them farewell and fair winds and following seas that day, and watched early the next morning as they collected the ground tackle and motored out the Gate.

Since then, we have learned from their YouTube channel that they’ve: sold their 40-ft aluminum vessel in SoCal; relocated temporarily back home to Sweden; and welcomed their beautiful, healthy daughter and new crew, Vera, aboard a new-to-them, larger vessel.

We will continue to drop in on Johan, Malin, and Vera and hope to reconnect with them again in person somewhere out there.

Readers — We’ve asked this question before, but this seems like an appropriate time to put it out there again: Who are your favorite ‘YouTube Sailors’? Have you ever gotten the chance to meet them, see them out on the water, or otherwise interact in the flesh with them? We’d like to know. Please comment below, or email us here.  

(For our past coverage on YouTube sailors, please click here. And for our two-part interview with SV Delos, please click here and here.) 

Racing into the New Year

The powers that be at the Race to Alaska remind us that the “$100 slacker tax for registration starts January 16. To avoid the tax, apply by December 31. Allow two weeks to be accepted. Register by January 15.” Got that? (The actual race will start on June 8.)

New Year’s Day

On Wednesday, the first day of the ’20s, the historic vessels of the Master Mariners will gather noonish at Clipper Cove for a super-casual ‘race’ to Point San Pablo Yacht Club in Richmond for a chili cook-off and tacky trophy exchange.

The Pinky schooner Tiger made the round trip on January 1 from their homeport at PSPYC to Clipper Cove and back.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Yacht clubs in Alameda host a circumnavigation of that island. Starting and finishing at Oakland YC, cruisers are invited to stop at Aeolian and Ballena Bay YCs along the way.

Coyote Point YC will begin their series of monthly races with Brrrr Rabbit on NYD.


Though most midwinter series in Northern California started in November or December, a few more join the fun in January.

Oakland YC’s on-the-Estuary Sunday Brunch Series will kick off on January 5 and continue every other Sunday through March 29. Brunch at the club in Alameda will precede the races; prizes, drinks and food will follow.

Coyote Point YC in San Mateo will offer Winter Sails starting on January 12 and continuing twice a month through March.

The Corinthian Midwinters hit San Francisco Bay for two action-packed weekends on January 18-19 and February 15-16. “We’ll be following our traditional format,” write the race organizers at CYC. “One race a day, followed by great times on the deck. Party Saturday evening, tricky winter currents and winds, spectacular weather, racers’ buffet and more. Note that boats are required to have appropriate propulsion and/or ability to anchor in case of light wind. We do not want to divert race resources to ‘rescue’ boats that failed to prepare.” Register by January 15.

boats off point knox
The tribe gathers off Angel Island’s Point Knox for the start of the Corinthian Midwinters in January 2019.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Singlehanded Sailing Society

On January 11, Richmond YC will host the Singlehanded Sailing Society for an Emergency Rudder Race and Show & Tell. The idea is to deploy your rudder while under sail, as practice for an actual need that might arise while sailing offshore.

Walk the docks in the Bay Area and you will not be able to escape discussion of the Three Bridge Fiasco. “Which way will you go?” “Singlehanded or doublehanded?” “Will it be ebbing? How much?” This massive pursuit race starts and finishes (in either direction) off Golden Gate YC and rounds three marks (in any order and direction). The three marks correspond to three bridges: Blackaller Buoy near the South Tower of the Golden Gate; Red Rock just south of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge; and the Bay Bridge, bisected by Yerba Buena Island. The race will be held on January 25 and is the first event in the SSS racing season. See the SSS website.

Express 27s start
Three Bridge Fiasco on the San Francisco Cityfront. This fleet of Express 27s appears to have chosen a westbound start with Blackaller the first mark.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Epic Racing Down Under
When we say "armchair racing," you might picture scooting armchairs around the living room in an attempt to be the first to the holiday gifts. Although that's an amusing visual, this is something to divert your attention when you've had a bit of holiday overload and are ready for a yachty distraction.
Buoy Wrangling
Buoys, whether on the ocean or the Bay, are ravaged by big tidal flows, big waves and occasional bumps by boats large and small, and sit in a corrosive saltwater environment. The combination of forces exerted on buoys means that they are sometimes dislodged from their positions, sometimes to be found lying on a Bay shore or sometimes never seen again.