This is a question we’ve been getting from many sailors. The short answer is no. At least not yet. A recent update from the base commander at the Sausalito Coast Guard Station said they are requesting all ‘non-essential’ boating activities to be suspended. They have cut their staffing by 50% to avoid close contact among themselves, and are restricting interfacing with the public. The CG is available for outright emergency assistance, but, short of an outright ban, they request that all non-essential (this would include recreational) boating be curtailed.
They do not at this time have ‘enforcement policies’ in place, but if the public doesn’t comply that may be the next step. The policies are changing dynamically, both locally and statewide. The last thing the Coast Guard or any local official on the water wants to do is spend their day issuing citations or arresting people for fishing or sailing, but that could become part of their job description.
As it stands now, if one wishes to take their boat out, there currently is no law preventing it, other than the social distancing rules restricting more than one person other than members of the same household. Events such as regattas are banned. Any organized gathering, whether official or otherwise, would be ignoring this directive.
The Coast Guard twice approached a friend who was bringing his boat to a boatyard last Monday. They questioned him about where he was going and why. He was left with the impression that they were actively discouraging boating.
Unlike San Diego Bay, which is run by a single port authority, the Port of San Diego, multiple jurisdictions manage San Francisco Bay. This made it easier for San Diego Bay to simply close their bay and enforce their order. On San Francisco Bay, the restrictions vary by county. You could potentially sail from one jurisdiction to another and find yourself sailing into a different legal situation. Beyond the guidelines, many readers have commented on the ‘optics’ of sailing during the stay-at-home directive. Imagine yourself needing a Coast Guard rescue during the ban, and your story appears in SFGate under the headline, “Wealthy Yachtsmen Ignore Shelter in Place Guidelines and Require Federal Dollars to Be Spent Rescuing Them During Pandemic.” Just doesn’t look good.
As we wrote just over a week ago, medical experts, public officials and first responders are struggling to figure out how to best protect the public in the midst of rapidly changing conditions. They are asking us all to step back for a few weeks to give us our best shot at getting on top of this crisis. We also remind everyone that what we write today could change tomorrow. But, right now, it remains a personal choice. As hard as it is during the warming spring weather, it feels right for all of us to support those making the request and facing much more difficult decisions than whether or not to go sailing.
In 1768, Captain James Cook set sail aboard the 97-ft bark Endeavour, bound for the South Pacific. King George III dispatched the ship from Plymouth, England, at the behest of a group of scientists intent on observing a rare astronomical event: the transit of Venus across the sun, which would help astronomers map the solar system. Cook and the Endeavour would go on to circumnavigate the planet, but in my childhood of sailing, I learned nothing about this most famous of mariners, whose charts were so accurate that many of them were in use through the 1990s. Cook was no more real to me than captains Crunch, Sparrow or Picard.
In the early 2000s, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author Tony Horwitz became interested in — one might even say obsessed with — Cook. He likened the famed English sailor to another well-regarded ship’s commander: Captain James Kirk of the starship Enterprise. “Growing up in a decade when even the moon had been conquered, I never ceased to feel a thrill at [Star Trek’s] opening words, ‘. . . to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations . . .’” Horwitz went on to follow in Cook’s footsteps, retracing his three epic voyages across the planet, traveling to remote islands, and eventually penning the best-selling book Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before.
In early March, I stumbled into a bookstore looking for Blue Latitudes (which was recommended by L38 reader Robert Fairbank, co-owner of the South Beach Yacht Club-based custom Schumacher 30 Double Down). My flight to New Zealand left the next day, and I sought a book that illuminated at least a little history of where I was going. I grabbed the last copy on the shelf, and without really trying, ended up accidentally following in the footsteps of a man who was following in the footsteps of a man.
Like Horwitz, I was a tourist jumping onto planes, frequenting bars (before NZ went on lockdown), and traveling in a modern world that, with some notable exceptions, had long forgotten about the ‘greatness’ of Cook. Or rather, rightfully acknowledged the greatness of those who came before him. (New Zealand is rife with memorials and references to Cook.) Unlike Horwitz, I was not on a serious journalistic quest (and I would not dare to compare myself to him), nor did I have any particular affinity for the English captain — though I am a huge fan of Star Trek. Given my exhaustive research (by which I mean that I have, thus far, read exactly half of Blue Latitudes), it seems that Cook has named more places on the Earth than any other human being before or after him.
Accompanied by his hard-drinking, chain-smoking Australian friend (and sailor) Roger, Tony Horwitz unearthed the narrative of Cook’s voyages, and satisfied his own curiosity. “I wondered what these places were like today . . . [and] if any trace of Cook’s boot prints remained.”
Horwitz found a world that had overwhelmingly rejected both Cook’s legacy and the notion that the explorer had “discovered” lands that had been inhabited for centuries, and “conquered” an ocean that had been mastered by indigenous navigators long before the English set sail.
I made landfall in New Zealand in early March, and set out on an exploration of the bus system, followed by a serious investigation into the local brews. I attempted first contact with the locals: asking for the ‘restroom’ drew bewildered looks, but asking for the ‘toilet’ bore results. Further adjusting to the Kiwi dialect, and their figurative driving of vowels on the other side of the road, I learned that the letter ‘I’ was often replaced with ‘U’ (“fish and chips” is pronounced “fush and chups”).
Captain Cook and the Endeavour made landfall in New Zealand in 1769, and the Endeavour remained for nearly six months. “Most of the trip was devoted to charting the coastline of the country, some 2,400 miles in all, often in high seas and stormy weather,” Horwitz wrote.
I have been charting a course through New Zealand’s lockdown protocols, which has given me ample time to read Blue Latitudes, drink local Sauvignon Blanc, and continue to follow in the footsteps of the footsteps, if only (or mostly) through the written word.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of The Book that Got Me Hooked on Cook, coming soon.
Curiously, the fact that we’ve all been told to stay away from each other has somehow brought us closer together. With the obstacles thrown in our way by the pandemic, we turned to friends and allies to help us get the April issue into the hands of West Coast sailors. One thought was to simply mail the April issue to everyone who’s a member of the YRA (the Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay), and, with the help of executive director Laura Muñoz, out they went. Thanks Laura. For idled racers it was a welcome surprise.
Latitude 38 bookkeeper Penny Clayton answered the phone, and a gentleman said, “I received an April issue of Latitude 38 magazine. How did she know?!” He was referring to his wife and her lovely gesture of getting him the current issue. But she continued to decline the praise, maintaining she was not responsible. After accepting that indeed maybe it wasn’t his wife, he thought, “Well . . . maybe I have a secret admirer!” Finally, to be sure and to thank the person responsible, he contacted us here at Latitude 38. We had a bit of a laugh and then explained that we had several campaigns to get magazines out to our dedicated readers who are sheltering at home. Not only did we do what we always do — shipped magazines to our distribution points and mailed them to our regular subscribers — but we also did a direct mailing to the YRA list. This is how our caller got his April issue — from us, his secret admirer!
We also created a SIP $10/three-month subscription sale.
We contacted as many of our magazine distributors as possible via phone and email to find out their situations and to ask them to save the April issues for whenever customers could return. They’re all happy to do so and looking forward to seeing you when you can make it in. Since marinas have liveaboards, they are mostly open. The harbormaster’s office is a good place to pick up a copy if you’re checking on your boat. We were also happy to see some pics of our distributors as they received their Latitude 38s.
It was great to hear from Heather and Englund Marine & Industrial Supply. We weren’t too sure where they were or much about their business, but we did like the word ‘Marine’ in their name. We looked them up on the web and, though Eureka is 300 miles away, we felt much closer already. They have eight marine stores serving boaters in California, Oregon and Washington. We thank Englund Marine for helping boaters with their boats and for helping them connect to Latitude 38.
Kirby Long, whom we know from way back when he was running Proper-Tighe Marine in Alameda, wrote in to say, “Hope you are weathering the current storm at Latitude 38. I have been sheltering in place for three weeks. We are still open, hauling boats, etc. We just remodeled our gift store and took a shot of our store manager, Cory Thurman. She has been wearing a mask but the effect wouldn’t be the same without the smile. Best wishes and hang in there!” We wish the same for Kirby, Cory and the entire Napa Valley Marina crew.
We love the people we meet and the connections we make through sailing. If you stay away from the headlines and connected to those on the waterfront, it’s amazing how life suddenly improves. Right now we’re all being encouraged to practice social distancing and to shelter in place, but we know, when the time is right, these and many more of our magazine distributors will be very happy to see you and to hand you an April issue of Latitude 38. If you are out for a walk on the waterfront or inspecting your boat, check the front entrance of our distribution points. Many said they’d try to leave them outside for you. If not, we remind you that the April issue is available to read online here.
Yes, we’re all scattered at the moment with too much ‘room at the mark’, but it’s also a great time to reconnect and rediscover how social distancing brings us all together. We’re looking forward to seeing you at your local marine store and on the water soon.
If your shop is passing out copies of Latitude 38 to readers we’d love to see your photo too. Send it to us here.
Time to check out Latitude 38’s Classy Classifieds! We are getting new listings and boats are selling. See some of them, both new and sold, below.
So Many Boats to Search Through
Some of the new boats listed for the May issue are a 23-ft Bear Class sloop, #54, in Point Richmond for $2,000/best offer; a 1981 CF 37 in the Channel Islands for $16,000/obo; a 1971 39-ft Freya steel sloop in Oxnard for $20,000; and a 50-ft cruising trimaran ketch in Honolulu for $260,000.
A number of boats have sold recently, including a 1993 25-ft Folkboat at Fort Mason in San Francisco; a 1969 28-ft Cheoy Lee Taipan at Oakland Yacht Club; and a 1967 44-ft Islander, 1967 in Nawiliwili, Kauai, HI.
Want to Sell Your Boat?
We’ve had many satisfied Classy Classified sellers with great success stories. You can list your sailboat for sale easily online. There’s still time to submit an ad for the May issue. The deadline for paid Classy ads is Wednesday, April 15, at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.