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March 25, 2020

Getting Outdoors on the Quiet Bay

Unlike the traffic jams on the highways leading to beaches over the weekend, San Francisco Bay was remarkably uncrowded. Social distancing? No problem out here!

empty bay
On a pleasant Saturday — no ship traffic, ferry boats or airplanes.
© 2020 Jennifer McKenna

“There wasn’t a lot of wind today and at times there wasn’t any,” wrote Jennifer McKenna on March 21. “There were a bunch of fishing boats out and a handful of sailboats — not nearly close to what you would see on a normal Saturday in the spring.”

Fugu in Richmond
Chris Case, an experienced singlehander (he’s even done the Singlehanded Transpacific Race) took his Wilderness 30 Fugu out for a solo spin.
© 2020 Jennifer McKenna
Islander 36
The Islander 36 Zorza.
© 2020 Jennifer McKenna

Jennifer and her husband took their Alerion 28 out for a daysail. It was not the intense workout that a day of sailing on San Francisco Bay can entail, but it did work as a mental health day.

Fred on the tiller
Fred relaxes at the helm of his Alerion 28, Zenaida, on a lovely Saturday.
© 2020 Jennifer McKenna
Quiet Bay
During the workweek (such as it is these days), the Bay is even more deserted.
© 2020 Drew Harper

“I went solo sailing last Thursday,” wrote Drew Harper of Spinnaker Sailing. His was the only boat out. “Honestly I felt guilty, thinking it might be sending the wrong message to the general populace.”

GIF of spouting whale
“Here’s a loop of the humpback I was next to for a couple of hours.” (At Angel Island’s Point Blunt.)
© 2020 Drew Harper

The Schooner Seaward Is Heading North

Monica Grant, who’s been sailing aboard the schooner Seaward as the ship’s cook, with her husband Jay as captain, wrote in from Cabo as they ended their winter charter season early. Earlier in the season she wrote a few vignettes called Diary of a Sailboat Charter CookSeaward is now heading offshore to return to San Francisco Bay. The following is her report from Puerto Los Cabos before their departure:

A week ago we were in La Paz. The atmosphere on the tourist strip appeared to be business as usual, though not having been here before I didn’t know. We chatted with a number of sailors who were all doing internet searches for information on travel and potential restrictions. Will and Sarah Curry from Hydrovane aboard their Jeanneau 43 Kaiquest were at the café looking for flights home to Vancouver. Another couple was trying to connect with their children in various parts of the world and contemplating whether they should all come to stay on the boat.

Seaward’s two remaining charters were canceled, so we took a couple of days’ R&R in some of the beautiful bays along the Baja Peninsula’s eastern shore. It was one way to stave off the reality of what was occurring back home, but we knew we would have to leave. Two crewmembers were organized to join us in Cabo to help bring the boat home. They would be arriving on the weekend. As we re-entered civilization our phones were pinging with messages and notifications about the effects of the virus. Along with this were messages from our two additional crew saying they would not be coming to Mexico to join the vessel. Surprise! We would now have to bring the boat home with just the five of us.

Lashing down aboard Seaward
The crew aboard Seaward starts lashing things down ahead of the Baja Bash.

Our final docking was organized for San Jose del Cabo, where we would make preparations for our voyage home. This is the first place where there appeared to be any actual changes in place because of the virus.

The marina we’re at, Puerto Los Cabos, is all but shut down. The office is open and dock crew are active, but the facilities have closed. The bar we were looking forward to is now simply a deck with chairs upended on tables. The gift shop is dark, and the dolphin center is not open. Even the nearest bathrooms are boarded up. We walked around the marina to Hotel El Ganzo hoping to swim in the rooftop pool and enjoy drinks by the bar as we did two months ago, but we were denied entry, as they had restricted patronage to hotel guests only. So we walked all the way back around to the beach bar on the other side of the marina where, along with our menus, the waiter brought us a flower-adorned bottle of sanitizer that he expectantly waved at us before spritzing into our open hands. Oh, how times have changed.

At the supermarkets we went to for provisions, the staff were all wearing face masks and gloves, and the door security stations had large bottles of sanitizer available. Most people took a shot of sanitizer on their way into the store. One lucky employee had the task of wiping down each shopping cart in preparation for the next customer.

Seaward supplies
Monica loaded up Seaward before heading out.

Back at the docks, the talk among all the boaters (here they are mostly powerboaters) is how, when, and to where they are planning to travel. One fellow whose boat is based in San Diego says he’s been asked to bring the boat and crew home. Some have set sail for various US West Coast ports, while others will ride it out in Mexico. Our dock neighbor, who runs a charter operation, is still in deliberation. He says staying in Mexico will be fine, though, as everywhere, it will get harder as the economy slows.

This caused me to ponder the reality of remaining in Mexico. We had all talked about the idea of staying here to avoid the madness and reduce our chances of infection. However, although humanity is fantastic in times of trouble, the system in any country is organized to look after its own people first. So, with our season ending early, we decided to head back to Seaward’s homeport of Sausalito.

It’s been busy. I spent six to seven hours yesterday cooking meals for the trip home, and several hours the day before shopping and stowing. The crew have been working on deck lashing down jugs of fuel and water. Today we set sail and should be back in the Bay Area in a couple of weeks.

Taking a break
Taking a rest in the midst of the provisioning.

In all, I am happy that we’re sailing home, though I do feel unsettled by the prospect. It has been a fantastic three months, and we have had sensational experiences and met a lot of wonderful people. The sad part is that rather than coming home to a fanfare of celebration and a sense of achievement, we are sailing into the unknown.

Follow Seaward’s progress here.

Pacific Yachts Says Thanks and Farewell from Santa Cruz

We recently received the following note from Pacific Yachts in Santa Cruz:

“Pacific Yachts is closing the office on 413 Lake Avenue, Santa Cruz, and will no longer be able to distribute Latitude 38. We have been in that office since 1986 and have given out many a copy. Thank you all at Latitude 38 for what you have done for the sailing community over the years! We still remember with a smile when Richard Spindler interviewed us in the Cabo San Lucas anchorage in 1982. Best regards, Inger Chrones.”

Santa Cruz Harbor
There are a lot of sailors and sailboats, and all sorts of sailing, in Santa Cruz. Where do you find a copy of Latitude 38?
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Inger, we appreciate the thoughts and all those magazines you’ve passed along.

Readers, if you’re in Santa Cruz and looking for a copy, you can pick one up at the harbormaster’s office, Santa Cruz Yacht Club, West Marine, Johnson Hicks, and many other places. Of course, in these uncertain times, make sure you check in advance to see if/when they are available.

If your usual pickup spot is shuttered for the duration of the pandemic, you might consider our three-month Shelter-in-Place subscription: just $10 for the April, May and June issues mailed first-class straight to your door.

Tokyo Olympics Among Events Postponed

Tokyo 2020 to Become Tokyo 2021

In an official statement released Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee issued the following joint statement announcing the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics:

“The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is ‘accelerating’. There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour. In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games, and the international community.”

Lighting of the Olympic torch
It was just on March 12 that the IOC president, Thomas Bach, attended the lighting of the flame ceremony held in Ancient Olympia, Greece.
© 2020 Greg Martin / IOC

Canada and Australia had already dropped out of the “2020” Olympics due to concerns for their team members.

The Wide World of Sailing

The America’s Cup movers and shakers have canceled the AC World Series regatta in Portsmouth, UK, which had been scheduled to take place June 4-7. “This decision was not taken lightly and now allows all of the teams to focus their attention on their respective operations in their home ports in the coming months while planning logistics for their move to Auckland and subsequent development, testing and preparations for ACWS Auckland (17-20 December), PRADA Cup (15 Jan-22 Feb) and the America’s Cup Match presented by Prada (6-15 March),” reads a very long sentence in the announcement. “ORIGIN Sports Group will be contacting all ticket-holders with regard to the refund process.” Luna Rossa had already canceled the ACWS event in Sardinia.

The 2020 Newport to Bermuda Race has been canceled due to the pandemic. The 52nd Thrash to the Onion Patch will occur in June 2022. The 2020 race was to have started on June 19.

French Olympic Week will not be held on its original dates of April 18-25 in Hyères, France. Organizers hope to find alternate dates.

Organizers of the Superyacht Cup Palma have canceled the 2020 regatta scheduled for June 17-20 in line with recommendations from the Spanish and Balearic governments. The provisional dates for the 25th anniversary edition are June 23-26, 2021.

West Coast

The Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay is keeping up with cancellations on a weekly basis. Check in here to find out the latest.

“We had to cancel our Regatta this year at Whiskeytown due to the virus,” writes Carla McNamara. “We plan to resume next year in 2021.” Whiskeytown Sailing Club hosts the regatta on Whiskeytown Lake west of Redding on Memorial Day Weekend. They’ve had a tough few years. Wildfires hit the area hard in 2018.

Banshees sailing on the lake
Banshees race in last year’s Whiskeytown Memorial Regatta, pictured against a backdrop of burned-out forest.
© 2020 Whiskeytown Sailing Club

The Northwest Marine Trade Association and the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce have rescheduled the Anacortes Boat & Yacht Show at Cap Sante Marina, Anacortes, WA, from May 14-17 to June 25-28.

US Sailing Rolls with the Punches

US Sailing has just launched a new online video service, The Starboard Portal. Stay connected with sailing through new videos, live presentations and interactive discussions. Live presentations coming up in the next couple of days include:

  • Thursday, March 26 — John Pearce: Squaring the Pyramid — 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT
  • Thursday, March 26 — Jack Gierhart: Ask Me Anything Open Q&A — 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT
  • Friday, March 27 — Betsy Alison: Tips on Engaging Adult Sailors at Your Yacht Club — 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT

“There have been a number of changes to the Safety at Sea programs offered by US Sailing. Some programs are available online while others provide the ability to re-certify,” writes Captain John of Sail Aweigh in Oceanside. “Due to cancellations or postponements of Safety at Sea courses during the current COVID-19 health crisis, any sailor that took either an Offshore Online or Offshore In-Person course in 2019 and will miss the 365-day window to take a Hands-On course for the International Offshore Certificate will have the 365-day window extended by 12 months.

“If you have taken a Two-day International (ISAF) Safety at Sea Course with Hands-on Training in the last 10 years, you can now re-certify by taking a Refresher Course, a one-day commitment.” Find a course near you at

Chubby Girl
Wilbur Spaul achieved a significant milestone in his bid to sail the smallest boat to Hawaii: In February, he chainsawed the 8-ft Chubby Girl into pieces and tossed them into a dumpster.
Sponsored Post
Washing, waxing, varnishing. Serving the entire Bay Area for more than 25 years. “Boat looks great. Please pass my thanks to those who did the work."