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April 29, 2020

This Week in Pandemic Sailing News . . .

“Tuesday, April 28, was a sublime day for a sail on the Bay, with brisk breeze in The Slot and temperatures in the 80s in the lee of Angel Island,” wrote David James, the ‘current custodian’ of Leda, a Lapworth 36 (#71) sailing out of Belvedere. “With the park closed and no boats permitted to dock in Ayala Cove, the sea lions appear to have reclaimed it as their own.”

There have been reports of wildlife enjoying many of the spaces now abandoned by humans. Sea lions have long lounged on the docks at Ayala Cove, as well as other piers, channel markers, buoys, etc. Still, seeing animals instead of humans on a human-made space adds to the weirdness of these times we live in.
© 2020 David James

Knock, Knock. Who’s There? The Government. We’re Looking for Illegal Barnacles.

While sitting at a mooring during New Zealand’s lockdown, we heard a knock. A little startled, we stuck our head out the companionway. Nothing.

“Down here,” came a voice. It had finally happened. Weeks of self-isolation had caused us to lose our minds.

“Helllllooooo . . .?” We peered over the transom. Two men in wetsuits were swimming around the boat. Was this some kind of polite Kiwi piracy?

“We’re from the City, and we’re checking for invasive species on boats’ bottoms.” The gentlemen explained that this was standard procedure in New Zealand. “We’re not trying to give you a hard time, we just want to make sure you haven’t picked up anything you shouldn’t have. May we have a look?”

The boat we were on was, apparently, in good shape. They showed us a small sample of outlaw seaweed, but said not to worry about it. “That stuff is invasive, but it’s everywhere.” The divers also told us that they were thrilled to be back on the job — and considered an essential service — after a few weeks of being stuck at home.

“We love diving. We’re usually in the water all the time.”

These Kiwi water ninjas were characteristically polite and charming, even while enforcing New Zealand’s strict boat-bottom biosecurity.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

Keeping Creative

A few weeks ago, we got an email from Darrell Caraway. It read, “Painting as plein air,” and had the following image:

How are you keeping creative during COVID?
© 2020 Darrell Caraway

Well done, Darrell.

Cartoon of the Week/Month/Year/Time Is Now Meaningless

A Pop Quiz for Latitude Nation

One thing about a pandemic: You sure do watch a lot of movies. We were ewatching one of our all-time-favorites, which we won’t go so far as to call a ‘sailing movie’ (it definitely is not). But the film is full of pirates. Curious if there were any cameos, we did some Googling. Sure enough, one famous sailor from the Latitude pantheon has a brief moment of swashbuckling.

Do you recognize that buccaneer on the left? We’ll have the answer for you soon. Oh yeah . . . bonus points if you can name the movie.
© 2020 TriStar Pictures

Got a guess? You can comment below, or email us here.

Myron Spaulding’s Virtuoso Sailing Legacy

Who was the greatest San Francisco Bay racing sailor ever? In the opinion of Bay sailing legends like Hank Easom and Warwick ‘Commodore’ Tompkins, the finest racing skipper in the early 20th Century was a concert violinist, boatbuilder and yacht designer named Myron Spaulding.

A partially framed boat is under construction at Spaulding Marine Center
The Spaulding Marine Center has been called “a cathedral to wooden boat building,” and it’s also a working boatyard.
© 2020 Spaulding Marine Center

We got on this train of thought, and started looking into who Myron Spaulding was from the confined shelter of our kitchen, after John Dukat of the Richmond Yacht Club sent us a couple of photos.

Spaulding is of course the namesake and inspiration for the Spaulding Marine Center, located in Sausalito, which produced the wonderfully entertaining video below. If you’ve got a little more than nine minutes to spare (and we bet you do!) then enjoy this look at one of the icons of California sailing.

Myron Spaulding earned his living playing the violin. A member of the Musicians Union, he performed in the Fox Theater’s vaudeville orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony and other classical groups of his era. A photo of the Symphony shows him seated in the back of the first violin section. Myron was not “second fiddle,” but his heart was in boats, designing, building and racing them.

According to journalist Carl Nolte: “To Spaulding boats were life: He loved the design of them, loved to build them and loved to sail them. He made himself into an expert on how the forces of wind and currents and the sea affect boats and their performance, and made himself a master of design. His aim was to build sailing vessels that would conform to class rules (for nothing is so circumscribed by exact measurements as classes of racing yachts) but also would be fast and beautiful.”

A picture of Dorade today sitting in its slip looking beautiful
Myron Spaulding navigated the epoch/changing Dorade to a win in the 1936 Transpac. Dorade clearly influenced Spaulding’s later sailboat designs.
© 2020 Spaulding Marine Center

A Racing Rockstar

Earning a name for himself racing in the Bird, Star and 6-Meter classes, Spaulding achieved legendary status in 1936, navigating the 52-ft yawl Dorade to an overwhelming win in the Transpac Race. It was the first of six Hawaii races he would complete as sailing master, while also winning the San Francisco Perpetual Trophy multiple times in 6-Meter and 8-Meter boats.

In the words of Commodore Tompkins, “Myron was a tremendous influence on every sailor active on San Francisco Bay in the first 60 or 70 years of the century, whether they knew it or not. Besides being an excellent sailor, he was one of the premiere designers in the country, though it went largely unrecognized. The thing that Myron did for all people under his influence was to show them a way and an ethic of addressing problems that was results-oriented and had very little to do with economics. Concepts and results were his standards of excellence. Never the dollar.”

Designer of Fast Yachts

Spaulding created two one-design classes that were active on San Francisco Bay: the 20-ft Clipper (of which 63 were built) and the Spaulding 33 (nine boats built). These and several custom sailboats up to 50 feet came out of his boatyard, which opened in its current location in 1951. We encountered one of Myron Spaulding’s elegant classics, the 38-ft Nautigal, built in 1938, while sailing on the Richmond Riviera.

So where does Myron Spaulding rank among the racing legends of San Francisco Bay? How would he fare against the likes of Paul Cayard, Tom Blackaller or Liz Baylis? His name may have faded into relative obscurity in the era of the foiling America’s Cup, but we can all experience his legacy at the Spaulding Marine Center.

The exterior of the building, with the words Spaulding Boatworks
We’re looking forward to visiting Spaulding Marine Center soon, when life returns to a new normal.
© 2020 Spaulding Marine Center

When Can Organized Racing Return?

With the spring racing schedule wiped out on San Francisco Bay, a few folks have sought alternatives with some informal, local competition. This has, once again, raised the question of what’s allowed and/or what’s a responsible way to be recreating on the Bay during the pandemic. With the knowledge that this question is being debated by yacht clubs around the Bay, we reached out to Laura Muñoz, executive director of the Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay. Coincidentally, she’d just finished a conference call the night before with race directors from 17 Bay Area yacht clubs. She was in the midst of crafting an email that went out today to the YRA membership.

Delta Ditch Run
Organized racing will return. It’s just a matter of when.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

We pass along the message from the YRA here:

“We’re all missing racing — the thrill of competition, the camaraderie with our crew, the fresh salt air, and the sheer joy of being outside doing something we love, especially as this fabulous spring weather arrives. The YRA has been working behind the scenes with Bay Area yacht clubs and the Coast Guard to ensure that racing can resume as soon as possible, and as safely as possible, once USCG permits are active again. We’ve kept communications open with the Coast Guard and are working with Bay Area race organizers to develop guidelines that will ensure the intent of state and county health orders are followed, and that racers and race committees stay safe, while running organized races. Once the current SIP orders are lifted, we will be ahead of the game and ready to get some form of racing started again.

“We know that some unofficial races have been proposed and want to just put out a quick reminder that any marine event with 10 or more participants should have a USCG permit. We are working diligently on a coordinated plan that will get everyone out racing as soon as possible and unpermitted events may be counterproductive to our efforts.

“It’s a lovely time of year to go sailing, and getting outside for some activity is never a bad thing. When you head out sailing, be sure you are practicing social distancing protocols, staying safe, and keeping the intent of the current SIP orders in mind.”

The Lipton Cup
The Lipton Cup is still on the schedule for June 20-21.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

In related news, Cal Maritime Academy intends to reopen in-person classes in late May and plans to send 350 cadets out on their usual summer training cruise. Read more here.

Washington state has decided to ease up on restrictions and allow recreational boating. More information here.

Boating Government Affairs Town Hall Web Conference

If you are interested in contributing your voice to the continued health of boating in California, you are encouraged to sign up today to participate in the first Recreational Boaters of California (RBOC) and BoatUS virtual Government Affairs Town Hall Web Conference. It’s free.

The conference will be held on Thursday, April 30, at 11 a.m. for northern boaters, and the same day, Thursday, April 30, at 1 p.m. for southern boaters.

The forum will provide an opportunity for PICYA and SCYA club leaders and individual boaters to receive updates on and discuss the key public policy issues being debated in California and to hear what RBOC and BoatUS are advocating to protect your interests.

Topics to be covered range from how COVID-19 will impact clubs and boating to proposed increases in boating registration fees. To sign up, go to

Course Correction for Cruisers in Hawaii

“We are cruisers who have lived here on our boat for several years now,” writes Denis Michaud of Tango in response to our post on Friday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude. “We’re currently riding out the virus mess on the docks at Waikiki Yacht Club. In a nutshell: All State harbors are closed. No new boats. Inter-island travel is prohibited. One of our Waikiki YC neighbors scored a $5,000 fine for violating this. I’ll skip the rest, as they’re not really applicable to the average cruiser.

“The closure is supposed to end 5/1/2020, but given that the lockdown on land here has been extended through the end of May, I wouldn’t bet on it. Arrivals from wherever at this point are being quarantined aboard for 14 days, regardless of how long they’ve been at sea. Prior permission to arrive must be secured, which is problematic given that DLNR/DOBOR is technically closed. We have several ‘refugee’ boats here at the club (as well as across the way at Hawaii YC), but all of these have come up from the South Pacific. We cannot recommend to anyone a trip from the mainland at this time. As for Radio Bay, DOT has been looking for an excuse to close it for years now. Looks like they’ve found a way to do it, and they’ve said the closure will be permanent. Anchoring in Hilo Bay is problematic for various reasons; not sure how Homeland Security would handle clearing someone there.”

This response is absolutely correct. It appears that I/we have inadvertently posted inaccurate information about inter-island travel and harbor availability. To a degree. Like a good politician, I attempted to not say anything concrete that could later be used against me or Latitude 38, knowing full well that there was a lot of gray area and constantly changing laws right now. Hence why we wrote, “inter-island travel on one’s own yacht does not appear to be prohibited at this point in time,” before following that up with guidance on mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival to a new island and the words, “Pick an island and stay there.”

I also added a link to current government directives that outline these rules for inter-island travel, followed by guidance about the mandatory 14-day quarantine and guidance about currently-legal recreational boating guidelines. Unfortunately, that one-day-old link from Hawaii’s government did not mention anything about inter-island travel on private yachts being illegal.

Per the rules that Denis has shared, inter-island travel by boat is currently illegal, according to other posted information and sources who are on the ground. As a sailing magazine read by sailors from around the world, we are oftentimes responsible for informing cruisers and sailors on issues regarding the world of sailing, and we don’t take this responsibility lightly. We/I apologize for dealing any misinformation, especially if it could have put someone into a precarious legal situation. For that matter, however, many boats have apparently illegally been sailing inter-island recently and even posting about it online, which, combined with the governor’s orders that outlined provisions for legal inter-island travel and legal recreational boating, has helped to confuse us.


Approaching Oahu
The State of Hawaii currently prohibits sailing between islands. (We took this photo in 2017.)
© 2020 Ronnie Simpson

The reader’s further guidance that all “State harbors” are closed right now also came as news to us, as several cruisers have been dealing with various authorities at state harbors, such as the very ones at Radio Bay who were kicking cruisers out. With multiple different agencies doing multiple different things at multiple different harbors, this again worked to confuse us, and thus, our readers.

Should a cruiser be displaced on the island of Oahu, or manage to get there without being caught, we do have some advice that may help you. As we mentioned, Oahu’s Ko Olina Marina usually has a ton of empty slips. Ko Olina is a privately-administered marina, so that may be an option to find safe moorage despite state harbors being closed. For that matter, other private yachting entities with docking space or moorings include Keehi Marine Center, Kewalo Basin, Kaneohe Yacht Club, Waikiki Yacht Club and Hawaii Yacht Club on Oahu. Lahaina Yacht Club on Maui also administers a series of mooring balls.

There are also a few mooring balls in Nawiliwili and Hanalei Bay, Kauai, and other places around the islands. Sailing clubs in Hilo and Kona have varying facilities. When you combine these private marinas and docks with mooring balls all around the islands, and the ability to recreationally sail and use your own anchor, there is still a plethora of options for the displaced cruiser in Hawaii. We have not called each individual private harbor, yacht club or sailing club to verify that their facilities are open and available. It will fall upon each individual cruiser to exercise a bit of self-sufficiency during these extraordinary times.

These are exceedingly difficult times to be cruising right now, and to be stuck in Hawaii. Again, we are not advocating cruising in Hawaii right now, nor did our article ever recommend or advocate sailing in from the mainland. Per the article in question’s closing statements, “To be clear, we are not advocating cruising around and enjoying a carefree Hawaiian holiday. It’s not responsible, and it’s not legal right now. The goal of this article is to provide displaced cruisers in Hawaii with some local intel and options so that they can make informed decisions.”

We are here to serve the broader sailing community, and we sincerely hope that we can be of assistance to any and all sailors out there. To the reader who sent in this email, thank you for correcting us! We would rather be informed that we have erred and have a chance to learn and share this newfound knowledge with others.

Messages to the Neighbors
"When you live in Sacramento like I do and miss sailing on San Francisco Bay with your buddies (like I do), what else was I supposed to do? I dug deep into my gear box…"
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Today, New Zealand went from its “Level 4” lockdown — the highest, most strict tier — down to “Level 3.” More businesses will be allowed to open, and more activities will be allowed.