March 20, 2020

Who Needs Some Good News?

Latitude Nation — We were going to publish some good news this morning, but unfortunately, it was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.

We’re not sure when it’s appropriate to start making jokes and try to carve out some sliver of normalcy in our lives. While we recognize that these times are no laughing matter, we also acknowledge that we all need a distraction. Here’s what we — and some of you — came up with:

“I’m helping to bring Rot Kat up from Puerto Vallarta,” said Larry White. “[We’re] now in Mazatlan with a crossing planned in a few days to La Paz, then up into the Sea. This trip was planned before all of the craziness, but can’t say we’re stressing. Even if they close the border, as today was floated with Canada and the US, it could be worse. I check in with my wife, who’s doing OK; technology is a marvel, heh? Saw this enormous whale “waving” at us on the transit from San Blas to Mazatlan. The fin is at least ten feet.

A whale in Mexico shelters in ocean, as Larry White snaps the shot.
© 2020 Larry White

“I’ve been enjoying the dramatic clouds these past few days from Sausalito,” wrote Cameron Tuttle.

We grabbed a screen shot from a video Cameron Tuttle shot in Sausalito.
© 2020 Cameron Tuttle

“We’re self-isolating a few miles north of San Francisco. All good,” wrote Mary L Holman.

A completely decent view while in quarantine.
© 2020 Mary L Holman

“[This was my] last sail to my usual anchorage, the day before our country’s shutdown,” said Legendario SunSplash. (We think he’s talking about Mexico.)

Another completely acceptable place to wait out a pandemic.
© 2020 Legendario SunSplash

“I’ve always liked the sunrise,” said Rob Sesar.
Enjoying the start of the day in Richmond.

Moments of fear and uncertainty bring out the best and worst in humanity. Some people are inexplicably hoarding toilet paper, while others are writing letters to people in nursing homes. Late-night hosts have been doing shows from their homes, while the Met Opera has been doing free live streams.

Ben Shaw, host of the Out The Gate Sailing podcast, posted this on his Instagram a few days ago.
© 2020 Out The Gate Sailing

What are you doing to weather the storm, Nation? Please comment below, or write us here.

Safe Sailing During the Crisis

From the first horn of the start to the last gun of the finish, it was business as usual for the 22 boats that competed in Oakland Yacht Club’s Sunday Brunch Series on March 15. Racers who braved rain in the morning were rewarded with dry skies and shifting winds that made for a very pleasant day on the water. As fleets finished, the OYC race committee called on the radio for volunteers to pick up race marks, offering the traditional reward of a pitcher of beer or a bottle of wine at the clubhouse.

This week, however, the rewards were tokens to be redeemed at a later date. A few days prior to the race, OYC notified skippers that the racing would go on, but because of COVID-19 the pre-race brunch and the post-race festivities would be postponed. Instead of gathering at OYC for the blue, red and gray prize hats, racers celebrated onboard, at neighboring Encinal YC (open for club members only) or at home.

three boats sailing on the Estuary
Sunday was a great day to be out sailing. Why not keep the racing and just postpone the parties? (How quickly even that changed in just a few days this week.)
© 2020 Elisa Williams

A Columbia 5.5 is a bit small for onboard entertaining. Kimberly Paternoster, who helmed the Columbia 5.5 Roja that she and her husband David Parker bought recently, said their post-race celebration took place on the dock. “There was us and the crew of Monkey Alert, standing six feet apart, drinking beer and laughing,” Paternoster said. “Carina joked that if anyone got within six feet of any of them as they rounded the mark they would call a penalty.” As it turned out, Carina didn’t need to protest — even in jest. They led the race, giving them their fourth first-place finish of the series.

The final OYC Sunday Brunch race was scheduled for March 29 but has been canceled due to the shelter-in-place order. Final standings are available on Jibeset.

Carpinteria Dory: Traditional Hand Crafted Boats

For the person looking to explore the ocean in a low impact way,
there is no better boat than the Carpinteria Dory.

Cruiser Updates from the South Pacific

Today we received the following news from Andy Turpin of the Pacific Puddle Jump: “The bottom line is that no foreign or locally based vessels will be able to cruise inter-island for the foreseeable future. Therefore officials encourage all crews who have not yet left the West Coast of the Americas to alter their plans until the pandemic subsides.”

We also heard from John Dinwiddie and Diane Brown aboard the Hans Christian 38T Tabu Soro (translated ‘Never Give Up’ – seems timely.) in Fiji. They reported: “Fiji just found their first case of the virus yesterday. Within 24 hours, Lautoka, the second-largest town on the main island, was in lockdown and 91 schools were closed. We are out sailing but got word from our marina that the harbor is closed. No boats in or out for the next two weeks. The government here is not taking this lightly.”

Diane and John
Diane Brown and John Dinwiddie at their departure party in 2018. They’re now sheltering in place in Fiji.

So we ask, the new normal is . . . what? The spread of COVID-19 is changing everything on a daily basis. And the next day it all changes again. Nothing in our lives has been like this. The only facts we know for sure, today, are that there is no cure, social distancing will slow the spread, and it’s going to get much worse before it gets better.

Vuda Point Marina in Fiji
All still looks beautiful at Vuda Point Marina in Fiji, but the situation has changed.
© 2020 Vuda Point Marina

So no more cheerleading. It seemed easy to say that sailing is still ‘safe’. That you can still get out in the wind with a small group of friends and enjoy our beautiful Bay. That attitude is dangerous. Now we’re joining with other media to urge people to stay at home, practice social distancing, and help flatten the curve so that — hopefully — we can all go sailing again soon.

But what about cruisers on boats in the far corners of the globe? We have heard from some of them directly, and read the reports of many more online. Countries and islands are either clamping down or shutting down and not allowing any boats to enter.

This thing is way bigger than sailing. But sailing is what we do and report on, and we want to try to bring some sort of useful perspective to what’s going on through the eyes of the many sailors out there who are suddenly immersed in a life that is far from what they signed up for.

We are currently setting up contacts to report on how the coronavirus has impacted Mexico and the South Pacific. However, we do not have the resources to research or monitor every country with a coastline.

So, if you are ‘out there’ (or in contact with someone who is), we would appreciate it if you would let us know what is happening where you are and — if you know — what the current situation is, and/or rules are, for boats wanting to arrive, stay, or depart.

As much as possible, we’d like you to be official reporters — we want to hear the who, what, why, where, when and how of your situation. Where you are, when you got there, who is aboard, if you’re  harbor-hopping or harbor-skipping, what authorities are telling you and how they are treating you, any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country or even among sailors — that sort of thing. If you are aware of any official website for your particular area, please include that information.

We will do our best to publish your experiences here on ‘Lectronic Latitude as we receive them. It helps keep all sailors better informed. We have created a specific page where we are collecting the stories for easy access. You can connect to it here. Send all responses to editorial@latitude38.com.

We’re looking forward to the day when we’re all sailing again and not reporting on pandemics. However, we’re all in the same boat, and we know we all have to work together and help each other out as we manage this global crisis.

Updates from Event Organizers

Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay

“The YRA racing season was scheduled to kick off on April 4 with the Berkeley YC-sponsored Wheeler Regatta, followed by the April 18th Lightship Race, and then the Great Vallejo Race on April 25-26,” advises the YRA. “The April 4th Wheeler Regatta has been canceled, and the 2020 Great Vallejo Race is officially postponed until October 10-11. We have yet to make a final decision on the April 18th Lightship Race but will be sure to let you know once a decision on that race has been made.” See www.yra.org, and subscribe to their email newsletter to keep your balance on the constantly shifting sands of our times.

VYC raft-up
We’re already looking forward to October and gathering with friends in the Vallejo Race raft-up, sharing food and libations.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Pac Cup Prep

Early this week, Pacific Cup YC Commodore Michael Moradzadeh advised participants of the following:

  • We are suspending inspections and in-person events. As the length of these suspensions becomes clear, we will modify deadlines to take account of them.
  • We are postponing the March weigh-in event. This may make things complex, but again, we will adjust.
  • We are freezing certain “drop out or lose money” deadlines as of March 1.
  • We have cancelled the in-person Pacific Offshore Academy meetings and will be providing the content as webinars.
  • Board meetings are now done by online video.

“In some cases, we can substitute, modify, or waive certain requirements and still put on a race that is safe, fair and fun. As long as we can do that, we plan on holding the race!” See https://pacificcup.org.

The Pacific Cup invites entrants, potential participants and supporters to complete an online survey. “We want to know how your race preparations are coming, when would be most convenient for our online survey scheduling, and what you think of a proposed new ‘off-year’ (2021) race. Please visit the survey here.”

Pacific Northwest

West Vancouver YC has canceled the Southern Straits Classic, originally scheduled for April 10-12. The race was to be a qualifier for this summer’s Vic-Maui and next year’s Van Isle 360.

The Corinthian Yacht Club of Portland has canceled the Schooner Creek Boatworks Pacific NW Offshore (formerly the Oregon Offshore), on the books for May 7-10. This race is also an important qualifier for the Pacific Cup, the Vic-Maui and the Van Isle 360.

The Race to Alaska is on! Race Boss Daniel Evans is looking forward to firing the starting gun on June 8 in Port Townsend, WA. He defends the race thusly:

  • Find a better way to experience extreme social distancing.
  • It’s a needed family break from what has turned into a six-month summer vacation for our kids.
  • The races are custom-designed entertainment for the masses of forced and self-isolated victims worldwide.

SoCal

After being postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2020 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta San Diego has been rescheduled from March 20-22 to September 4-6.

Caribbean

“As a result of national and global measures being taken to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and the priority being the health and safety of our citizens, competitors, spectators and volunteers, the decision to cancel Antigua Sailing Week is the only viable option,” writes Alison Sly-Adams, president of Antigua Sailing Week. The regatta had been scheduled for April 25-May 1.

Racing in last year's Sailing Week
Fleets preparing for the starting sequence during the 2019 edition of Antigua Sailing Week.
© 2020 Paul Wyeth

Europe

The falling dominoes even reach into the summer months now.

The 2020 Optimist World Championship was scheduled for July 1-11 in Riva del Garda, Italy. The organizers, with the support of IODA, have made the decision to postpone the event. The organizers will be discussing the postponement with their stakeholders and suppliers and report back to IODA as soon as possible with new dates. As a result of the postponement, the organizers have agreed to extend the 2nd Entry Stage Deadline to July 1.

Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, Kieler Woche, a huge regatta and festival in Germany, will not be held in June. It’s been postponed to September 5-13, 2020. The event draws competitors and crowds from around the world.

Back to the YRA, and the USCG

The Coast Guard has told the YRA that, “We are currently reviewing our permitted Marine Events against measures being put in place for COVID-19. Each potential Marine Event that plans on moving forward will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some of the criteria we are looking at: Does the event comply with Health Orders? How would alterations to plans affect the proposed event? Is the event going to be held with equivalent safety to the originally planned event?

  1. Written confirmation/approval from your counties’ Public Health Department.
  2. An explanation of how Social Distancing will be achieved during your event.
  3. How many participants in the event are over the age of 65.
  4. Are any of the participants of the events residents of counties with “Shelter in Place” orders.
  5. Please describe any proposed changes to the event from the original application.
  6. If changes are made to the event on account of Health Orders, please explain how the event will meet equivalent safety measures to the originally permitted event.

“Please contact the YRA if you are planning on going on with a previously scheduled/permitted event.”

More News from the Coasties

Yesterday, the Coast Guard closed their 17 Regional Examination Centers (REC) and three Monitoring Units (MU) to the public until further notice. They suspended all REC/MU customer walk-in service and canceled all scheduled examinations and appointments. REC appointment calendars are closed. The National Maritime Center (NMC) will closely monitor the situation and restore these services as soon as possible.

In an effort to minimize customer service disruptions:

  • The Customer Service Center call center is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. You may reach the call center at 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662) and IASKNMC@uscg.mil. Mariners are asked to not try to reschedule appointments until the NMC re-opens the appointment calendars. The NMC will provide notice when the calendars are available.

Read more of this update from the USCG here.

Go Virtual Sailing — for Free

Sail Newport (in Rhode Island) has inaugurated a Quahog Cup Virtual Regatta for the entire family. “During the virus crisis, we’re joining forces with sailonline.org to hold a purely entertaining virtual regatta series starting on Sunday, March 22, at 9 a.m. [EDT],” reads the announcement.

Registration

“There’s no registration fee, no entry fee, no one will get a sunburn, and there will be no need to leave your house. Race with fellow sailors as we weather this challenging time together. This series of races will be held until we can all get back on the water. The first race on Sunday will be a race around Narragansett Bay using one-design Farr 30s.

Go to www.sailonline.org to pre-register. Receive an email, follow the link to finish your registration, and
pick a username/boat name and password.

Once you register, you will be able to do some practicing. (These races are best done on a computer, Mac or PC). Once you register for the Quahog Cup, you will be able to practice on that course as well.

Find a guide to registering here, and a manual here.

Map of Gulf of St. Lawrence Race
A sample map from the manual, in this case of the Gulf of St. Lawrence Race.
© 2020 Sail Online

Quahog Cup Course

West Coast sailors, here’s your chance to learn a bit about East Coast geography. At 9 a.m. EDT, all boats will be virtually towed to the starting line off the Sail Newport Sailing Center in Brenton Cove. The course will go north, leaving Rose Island to starboard; from there, up toward Bristol to the Hog Island mark to port; then northeast to round the Poppasquash mark to starboard; from there, north toward Barrington around the Rumstick Rock mark to port; heading south, you will leave Patience Island to port; a mark near the Jamestown Bridge to port and then head toward the ocean. The final marks are Newton Rock (Beavertail on Jamestown) to port; Fort Adams mark to starboard; and then to the finish back in Brenton Cove off the Sail Newport Sailing Center.

If any of our readers race in this virtual regatta or one like it, we’d love to hear about it.

Coast Guard Removes Long-Grounded Boat from Hawaiian Shores

A boat that had gone aground on the Big Island of Hawaii more than a month ago has finally been removed, according to the Coast Guard.

On Tuesday, Coast Guard contractors stabilized the Midway Island, a 63-ft fishing vessel, which appeared to have some sails rigged up. The vessel was transiting from Los Angeles to Hawaii at the time of the grounding; the Coast Guard said that the cause of the grounding is under investigation.

The grounded, 63-ft fishing vessel Midway Island was successfully — and finally — removed from rocks near Hilo Harbor on Tuesday.
© 2020 USCG/Petty Officer 2nd Class Amanda Wyrick

“We are lucky to have strong partnerships with the industry, State, and the local community,” Chief Warrant Officer Russ Strathern, a marine safety specialist out of Honolulu, said in a press release. “This complex incident involved a lot of coordination, communication, and patience, as we leveraged multiple strategies to mitigate the environmental threat. I am thankful for our response ohana.”

The Coast Guard said that the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources will work with the owner of the Midway Island to conduct a cleanup of the grounding site now that the pollution threat has been removed. “Reportedly, 1,585 gallons of petroleum products, including marine diesel, lube, and hydraulic oil, and oily waste, were safely removed along with the batteries and household cleaners prior to refloating and towing operations began,” the Coast Guard said.

From the Bottom of the Planet
You step into a big metal tube, it shakes around — not unlike a ride at Disneyland — they open the door, and besides all the people speaking with accents, the place you've arrived is not all that different from where you started.
Preparation and Practice
BAMA conducted our 2020 Live Crew Overboard Training event Saturday as scheduled. We had five boats registered. Two dropped out due to weather or illness, but we still had three that showed up.
Pretty Much Everything
The new 'shelter in place' order affecting much of the Bay Area has prompted the Bay Area Multihull Association to cancel or postpone the Doublehanded Farallones Race.
Updates from the Islands
Island cruising destinations around the world are rapidly updating their customs and immigration procedures as the global pandemic unfolds.