When I made plans earlier in the week to sail out of Moss Landing with my friend and mentor George Mckay, I felt a tension ease out of my shoulders that I hadn’t really been cognizant was there. Like a lot of you, I had been missing some much-needed time on the water. It was a typical foggy gray when I arrived at Moss Landing and met with George. The breeze forecast was for 10-12 knots, so I was excited that we’d get to test a new-to-us #1 headsail that we had been planning on using in this year’s Pacific Cup. George owns Skye, a Capo 30, and, in preparation for the late Pac Cup 2020, we spent many workdays last winter re-bedding stanchions, installing new primary winches, and fixing spinnaker halyards, among many things.
As we began rigging the boat to sail, the atmosphere of Moss Landing Harbor began to sink in. Otters floated by munching on mussels or tending their young, the denizen sea lions lounged or noisily engaged in territorial disputes, and the air was filled with the cries of gulls and the tang of salt. There were certainly fewer people about, but Phil’s Fish Market still busily plied their trade in delicious to-go food. Some fishermen sold their fresh catch right off the sterns of their boats. As we exited the harbor mouth, we were immediately greeted with a humpback breaching about 200 yards ahead of us, and I began to feel the gentle rolling of the sea swell.
Sailing Monterey Bay is always a gift. In the past I have been treated to fields of bioluminescence, orcas, dolphins, giant blooms of jellyfish and lumbering mola molas. A mile or two to the south of us, we saw a large gathering of birds swooping and screeching over the scraps left by a pod of feasting humpbacks. We hoisted our #1 and set a southward tack.
I met George when I started racing for the very first time out of South Beach during their Friday night series on a Schumacher 30 called Double Down. In the four years since then, I have worked all of the crew positions with the exception of driving, so as George handed me the tiller we talked of tactics and of the instruments, both natural and artificial, that I have at my disposal to find my best point of sail. Even without Pac Cup this year, George still gave me the time and training to be the most competent crewmember I can be, for both our eventual passage to Hawaii and whatever other opportunities these skills will bring me. I enjoy this aspect as much as the thriving animal community around us.
As we neared the point we’d spotted earlier, I was struck by the odd smell of the whales. It’s like garlic and dirty socks. Pebbles, my stalwart little seven-pound sailing dog, began to growl as spouts appeared all around us. The resident humpbacks lazily waved to us with colossal flukes that dipped gracefully below the waves as they dived. I felt a sense of harmony in this moment, the boat, the wind, and the life around us in symbiosis. It’s a feeling that will always keep me striving for opportunities like this and keeps me thankful for what I have in these troubled times.
On late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, the Coast Guard rescued three people from a 30-ft sailboat off Pillar Point.
“The owner of the 30-foot sailboat Freedom contacted Coast Guard Sector San Francisco command center at approximately 11 p.m., on Tuesday, reporting that [he] and the two other passengers aboard were feeling unsafe during their transit due to the harsh sea conditions,” a Coast Guard press release said. The Freedom later reported that they’d lost their steering, and their engine.
The Coast Guard dispatched a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat from Station Golden Gate, as well as a Dolphin helicopter crew.
“It was so dark out that I couldn’t see the boat, even while wearing night vision googles, until we were right on top of it,” Petty Officer 3rd Class Steve King, the rescue swimmer aboard the Dolphin helicopter, said in the press release. “It was really great that they had flares.”
Katherine Voth, the aircraft commander of the Dolphin helicopter, said her team “did a great job working through these challenging conditions to result in three lives saved. This positive outcome was a direct result of the sailors having life jackets, flare guns and cell phones. In addition to these items, I also recommend having an EPIRB, survival radio and immersion suits whenever you go out on the water.”
The Coast Guard said it has issued a safety marine-information broadcast for the adrift sailing vessel Freedom.
The 2014 Beneteau Oceanis 41 Scarlet Fire is offered by Deborah Reynolds of Passage Nautical.
Folsom Lake Is Open for Launching and Sailing
“We are among the first of the sailboats back on Folsom Lake, finally,” wrote Pat McIntosh of the West Wight Potter 19 Ramblin’ Rose. Pat and his family had a short sail on Saturday afternoon because he wanted to be back in time for the (virtual) Kickoff of this year’s Delta Doo Dah on Saturday evening.
KCRA-TV in Sacramento reported that California State Parks reopened several areas in Northern California last Friday that have been closed since the end of March because of COVID-19.
At Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, these six entrances are open:
- Granite Bay in Placer County
- Beals Point in Placer County
- Nimbus Flat in Sacramento County
- Negro Bar in Sacramento County
- Folsom Point in Sacramento County
- Brown’s Ravine, including the Folsom Lake Marina in El Dorado County
People can drive in and park, launch their boats and watercraft, and resume boating. Restrooms and day-use facilities are available. Motorized boating is permitted on Folsom Lake. These areas remain closed at state parks: Concessions, campgrounds, high-use public indoor facilities, such as museums and visitors centers remain closed. Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice, so we don’t expect to see regattas on the lake anytime soon. Keep an eye on www.flyc.org for updates about racing.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation requests that people still keep it local.
The Delta Is Open for Business
Ramblin’ Rose will be cruising the Delta as part of the Delta Doo Dah a bit later in the season. Where can Pat launch her?
“Fishing and boating is allowed in the Delta, and many boat ramps are open (call first),” writes Bill Wells, executive director of the Delta Chambers of Commerce. Here are some possibilities (in alphabetical order): B & W, Buckley Cove, Clarksburg, Eddo’s, Hogback, King Island, Koket, Korth’s, Lighthouse, Merritt Landing, New Hope Landing, Orwood Resort, Paradise Point, the Park at Sherman Island, Tiki Lagoon, Walnut Grove Marina, Wimpy’s and Windmill Cove. Learn more and find contact info at https://californiadelta.org.
The Threemile Slough Bridge is not opening for boat traffic, and probably won’t until September, due to maintenance work. So sailing between the San Joaquin River and the Sacramento River necessitates backtracking to Pittsburg or taking the great circle route through Walnut Grove via the Mokelumne River and Georgiana Slough — slower, but worth it.
Monterey Bay Boat Launches Reopen
Boat launches in Monterey, Moss Landing and Santa Cruz had been closed to recreational boats since the SIP orders began in March. Commercial fishing was allowed to continue.
The wait to launch on Monterey Bay ended at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, May 19. The health officers in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties agreed to allow recreational boating as long as mariners follow social-distancing rules. The harbors in Monterey, Moss Landing and Santa Cruz agreed to open at the same time to avoid having any one location overwhelmed by boaters anxious to get back out on the water.
In addition to requiring six-foot distancing and face coverings, the rules include no congregating with people outside of individual households, no lingering at the launch, and no campers or RVs in the parking lots. Monterey Harbor is not providing berths for visiting vessels, except for commercial fishing vessels and those seeking refuge, according to a Monterey city press release.
With seaports around the world closed to unfamiliar vessels, it’s not surprising that sailors are left wondering what to do when they and their beloved sailboat are sheltering in different countries. For some the distance is normal, but for others it has become the new normal — one they might rather not have to endure.
This week we received an email from a reader whose friend, perhaps tired of being landlocked, would like to bring his Hylas 44, Scout, home from Mexico but is unsure of the current regulations. So what does a sailor do when faced with a sailing question? Asks another sailor, of course, or in this case, the publisher of a sailing magazine. Who better to ask about the latest news than the person who prints it?
“Yeah, I remember him,” John said. “Great bunch of sailors. Everyone was excited to start the Ha-Ha.”
Six months later, back at his home port in Portland, OR, Dan bumped into Scout’s owner and Ha-Ha skipper Bill Blumlein at West Marine. Bill wants to bring Scout home to the Pacific Northwest — preferably the San Juan Islands — and plied Dan for information.
This is where being a sailor demonstrates its greatest asset: belonging to a network of like-minded souls whose greatest wish, apart from sailing forever, is to help other sailors. Dan immediately whipped out a Latitude 38 business card and fired off an email to find some answers, “asking for a friend.”
Latitude 38 then called upon good friend Fito Espinoza from Marina Coral, Ensenada, to get the latest information about clearing out of Mexico. Fito immediately replied with some valuable information as follows:
“Currently the port of La Paz is open, and you can obtain clearance documents to San Diego or Ensenada. Personally I recommend you obtain exit papers to the US in Ensenada. It’s easier and less time-consuming.”
Fito included the list of documents needed to clear out in Ensenada: USCG documentation, insurance, passports, Tourist Card (FMM) and Temporary Import Permit (TIP).
While sailors can still take the scenic route by sailing from La Paz to Cabo to Turtle Bay to Ensenada, Fito says many of the small towns such as Magdalena Bay and Turtle Bay are open to anchoring but are not allowing people to go ashore. And for sailors who are on the move, he recommends buying fuel in Bahia Asuncion, as their prices are much more reasonable. If anyone is choosing this option, the contact there is firstname.lastname@example.org; USA (619) 906-8438 or Mexico (615) 155-7197.
The fuel price in Turtle Bay has recently been reported to be about $2.60 per liter or around $9.82 per gallon!
He also suggested that a yacht transport company might offer a viable solution for taking the vessel from La Paz to Victoria, BC. “There are many companies like United Yacht Transport and Sevenstar Yacht Transport that currently offer this service.”
We hope this helps Dan and Bill and any other sailors wanting to bring their best friend home from Mexico.
Thank you, Fito, for your help. We look forward to seeing our sailboats return to your sunny shores in the near future.
And thanks, Dan, for reaching out, and for your feedback. “I’m really glad you are still publishing Latitude 38. That is my fix now that sailing is a bit shut down.”
We’ll have another story on the Baja Bash from ‘Captain Midnight’ coming up in the June issue.