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January 27, 2020

The Craziest Fiasco Yet

While straining to see anything in gray nothingness, a skipper who has 20+ years of Three Bridge Fiascos under his keel commented: “This is the craziest Fiasco ever!” Even sailors on the smallest boats had their smart phones out trying to ‘see’ ferries, ships, tugs, barges (and some of the competitors) on AIS apps. Others monitored Vessel Traffic Service on VHF 14, as well as 16 and the race channel, 72.

Summer Sailstice in the fog
The Ranger 33 Summer Sailstice sails a counterclockwise course in the low, thick fog. Alcatraz is over there somewhere. Moni Blum and Philip Strause at least got close enough to see the Ranger from the Santa Cruz 27 Wolpertinger.
© 2020 Philip Strause

Saturday’s Bay Tour pursuit race drew 317 entries, not the largest ever, but still the biggest race in the West. Out of those only 42 were able to finish — but even that low number is higher than we expected. After the sailing-blind fog cleared, the wind died and sailors found themselves at the mercy of a building ebb. Red Rock, the mark farthest north, seemed like an unobtainable goal. So huge kudos to those who stuck it out! A westerly breeze did finally fill in as far as Red Rock, but not until around 4:30 p.m.

Off Point Richmond, a cluster of CCW rounders tries to beat north, staying in shallow water, hoping for relief from the ebb.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Among the earliest finishers, Buzz Blackett and Jim Antrim aboard the brand-new (just launched on Friday) all-carbon Antrim 27C. ‘io sneaked across the line in front of Golden Gate Yacht Club more than a minute ahead of the first multihull, Peter Stoneberg and Kyle Gundersen on the super-fast Extreme 40 Shadow. Both completed the course just after 4:30.

Starting area
Race entries don’t come any newer than this carbon Antrim 27 (foreground), seen here getting dropped off in the starting area by a RIB.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Racers have to choose their direction to sail the course, and the order and direction of mark roundings. Blackett reports that ‘io sailed a clockwise course, starting with Blackaller Buoy, through Raccoon Strait in the dying flood, and around Red Rock. They jibed their way on the new ebb to Treasure Island. Then they took advantage of the new breeze much earlier than it reached into the North Bay and those stuck there still trying to get to Red Rock. “A northwesterly breeze between 10 and 12 knots got us to the finish in a hurry, with only five tacks,” Buzz said.

So, the answer to the question, “Which was the right way to go?” was “clockwise” — this year.

Another Girl in the fog.
Cinde Lou Delmas and Milly Biller on the Alerion 38 Another Girl, another CCW boat, made it all the way around the course — just seconds after the 7 p.m. time limit passed. At least her distinctive metallic green paint job made her easier to see in the fog.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The volunteer race committee from the Singlehanded Sailing Society posted results quickly. Find them at We’ll have much, much more on the race and on the new Antrim 27C in the March issue of Latitude 38 (not the February issue — that’s already gone to press).

Diary of a Schooner Charter Cook, Part 3

On Saturday, January 4th, I watched as Seaward’s crew brought their vessel neatly to the dock at the Newport Sea Scout base in Southern California. We had been at sea for four days and five nights and were at the end of the first leg of our three-month-long chartering season. And while this wasn’t my first role as charter-boat cook, I had certainly faced many challenges and was grateful for the week’s end. However our time in port offered little respite as I went about reorganizing the fridge and pantry and writing up a new provisions list. Over the following 10 days, I would have to feed 14 adults, three times a day. Mac ’n cheese would not suffice.

Captain Jay hired a car and drove us to Costco. As we began filling our oversized carts, Jay did his best Jaws reenactment with an understated, “We’re gonna need a bigger car.” But hours of playing Tetris proved their worth, and we squeezed every box, bag and package into the small hatchback and returned to the dock, where we organized a bucket brigade to ferry the stores into the galley. What seemed like hours later, with my hands thrown into the air like a hog-tie champion, I declared the provisioning “Done!” That was the easy part.

A lone sailor enjoys one of the Baja Coast’s numerous glorious sunrises.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Monica

The next day we greeted our new passengers and identified those with specific dietary needs — two gluten-free eaters, one of whom could eat no nuts other than peanuts. Easy, I told myself, and for the most part it was. I had provisioned accordingly and could offer various alternatives. The real challenge was keeping up with 14 hearty appetites — our new guests ate more than the teenagers who’d sailed with us from San Francisco! On the ninth day, one guest told me I had now prepared 560 meals. What? Neil is an experienced pilot and enjoys stunts in his own biplane. I trusted his math and was happy that he didn’t tell me the numbers at the start of the trip.

To my own surprise I began to develop a rhythm and found I was able to spend more time on deck. I still wasn’t doing any real crew work, but I did enjoy time watching the dolphins surfing beneath the bow, observing whales from afar, chatting with our guests, and even doing some yoga. Not bad at all, I thought. And though I was officially exempt from watches I took myself on deck for the midnight to 2 a.m. shift, just for the experience. I was not disappointed.

The air was still quite cool and everyone was dressed in heavy jackets and beanies, and I had laid out teas, hot chocolate mix and cookies to warm the night-watchers’ bodies and hearts. Mine included. Sitting in the cockpit with darkness all around and a sky so full of stars — it looked as if the wind had blown a bagful of glitter onto a wet black canvas — was actually very enjoyable. And then there was the company. The midnight watch was a happy crew, with Bobby (so called to differentiate him from the other two Bobs) and Dave sharing stories of sailing, music and life in general. Bobby and Dave met more than 30 years ago when, through a mutual friend, they became boat-share partners, an arrangement that still holds today. Apparently they even featured in a Latitude 38 story about the longevity of their boat-share.

The delivery crew took part in every part of the sailing life, including dish duty.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Monica

But there was still more joy to be found in the night watches. On one particularly moonlit night, I spotted dolphins below the bow and was mesmerized by their beauty and grace as they played in our wake. How could anyone ever tire of such a sight?

And then there was the night of the shadows. While lying on deck, visually exploring the star-filled sky during the 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. watch, I saw a black patch appear directly above me. I felt as though Harry Potter’s dementors had come to life. Several minutes passed before I allowed myself to believe the shadow was real and I called to my fellow crew. They looked up and saw it as well. Soaring at the top of the mainsail as though riding the currents was a bird. “Put a light on it; let’s see what it is,” someone suggested. I ducked below to get a flashlight and immediately regretted my decision — not surprisingly, the bird took off. Some discussion ensued, and it was agreed the shadow was a frigatebird. We were around 15 miles from shore, and the bird, or birds, had come along for the ride. Watching them from below it looked as though a dark force had rent a hole in the sky and left nothing but emptiness.

Every Class Has at Least One Clown

Does your class have a class clown? When we look at the monthly race results, usually one name pops out that makes us smile or even laugh out loud. Unlike the names of 12-Meters such as Courageous, Intrepid, Constellation, Defender, Weatherly, Columbia and many other names that connect to sailing’s great traditions, the class clown shakes it up. There are plenty on San Francisco Bay.

For some reason, one of our favorites is Bart Hackworth’s Moore 24, Gruntled. It always brings a smile. You’ll note the Moore 24 class appears to have the highest percentage of class clowns of any class on the Bay. Perhaps that’s the secret to their ongoing success as one of the most fun and active classes in Northern California.

Wylie 39 Checkered Past
One of those names that make you smile and want to hear some stories. Kim Desenberg and Skip Allan sailed Checkered Past in Saturday’s Three Bridge Fiasco.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

In no particular order, we thought we’d pass along a few more we’ve seen listed in race results, or whose wake we’ve crossed while sailing the Bay.

Can O’Whoopass – Cal 20, Richard vonEhrenkrook
Psycho Tiller – JPK 1080, James Goldberg
Sir Leansalot – Hunter 40, Tom Lueck
Liquid Asset – Ranger 33, John Rook
Pork Chop Express – Express 27, Chris and Charlotte Jordan
Luna Sea – Islander 36, Don Knox
Still Pinchin’ – J/105, Morgan Paxhia
Immoral – Moore 24, John Gray
Mooretician – Moore 24, Peter Schoen
Wet Spot – Moore 24, Michael O’Callaghan
Oxymoron – Moore 24, Tom Southam
Checkered Past – Wyliecat 39, Kim Desenberg
Kwazy – Wylie Wabbit, Colin Moore
She Loves It – J/105, Bill Stuckey
I Love My Wife – Etchells, Craig Healy
Shut Up and Drive – Beneteau Figaro 2, Nathalie Criou
Bad Hare Day – Wylie Wabbit, Eric Menzel
Shut Up and Drive (yes, another one) – J/24,Val Lulevich
Shark on Bluegrass – Olson 25, Falk Meissner

Cal 20 Can o'Whoopass
Richard vonEhrenkrook leads the fleet aboard his Cal 20 Can O’Whoopass.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Latitude 38
Hunter 40 Sir Leansalot
Tom Lueck’s Stockton-based Hunter 40 Sir Leansalot
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Olson 25 Shark on Bluegrass
The Olson 25 Shark on Bluegrass heads home after the almost totally windless Three Bridge Fiasco.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
J/105 She Loves It
The J/105 She Loves It is all smiles in the Corinthian Midwinters
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Other names we’ve heard over the years come with a story. One boat sailing in the Caribbean was called an innocuous-sounding Taboma though we heard it actually stood for ‘Take a Bite of My A@#’! Another story we heard was of a high-caliber race boat named Fujimo. The story we heard was the owner and his wife had an agreement. Whenever he bought something expensive for the boat she would be able to spend a similar amount of money on something she wanted. When he finally decided to upgrade to this high-end race boat she asked for an equal amount of money she could spend. His response: ‘FU Jane I’m moving out’ (FUJIMO).

We know there are plenty more that make you smile. Do you have one to nominate or a story that explains the name of your boat? Email it here.

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