Saturday, June 20, was both the summer solstice and the 20th annual Summer Sailstice celebration of sailing. San Francisco Bay served up its typical brisk and frothy stuff in the Central Bay, but other corners of the Bay were far more benign. We made it a dual Father’s Day/Sailstice celebration and participated in the YRA Summer Sailstice Treasure Hunt, which sent us to many corners of the Bay searching out pictures to post. That turned into a 31-mile tour taking us from Tiburon to the Cityfront, out the Golden Gate, back down the Cityfront, under the Bay Bridge and back up the Cityfront before returning to Tiburon. Taking all the photos and dealing with the breeze kept us busy!
The breeze in the Central Bay remained fresh all day, though the fog backed off and would then return to chill things down. The edges of the Bay were treated to blue skies and gentler breezes with more comfortable conditions in the South Bay and Raccoon Strait. We’re sure the Oakland Estuary had sweet sailing as well. It was one of those days when you could choose the conditions that suited your taste. Or, as we did, you could sample it all: a hard charge out under the Gate in the morning and then down to the South Bay for a warm, comfortable lunch cruise to McCovey Cove.
With the passing of the solstice, it is now officially summer. The breeze is up, the days are long, and somehow we’re finding ways to do more sailing. It’s not as easy as during a normal year, but it’s the same great relief from life on land when you find your way to the Bay on a sailboat. And it’s all that much better when you can do it with your family. If you were out sailing this weekend and have some Summer Sailstice weekend photos, you can email them to [email protected]. We’ll also look for your #sailsfbay posts and look forward to crossing tacks with you more over the summer.
Singlehanded Farallones Race
The Singlehanded Farallones Race was supposed to dash out to the stinky rocks and back on May 16. With the Bay Area still sheltering deeply in place, that date came and went with no racing. Over the weekend, things were looking up for the Singlehanded Sailing Society. The race committee issued the following announcements:
“We have tentative approval from the USCG to run the rescheduled 2020 Singlehanded Farallones race on Saturday, June 27. Please note that we do not yet have final approval, but we wanted to give skippers as much time ahead of the race as possible to allow for boat preparations and compliance with safety requirements. We will share final USCG approval as soon as it is confirmed.” Register on Jibeset by midnight on Wednesday at https://www.jibeset.net/JACKY000.php?RG=T009182456.”
There’s some poetry in the June 27 date — that’s when the 2020 Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race had been scheduled to start. The SSS postponed the solo race to Hanalei to an as-yet-to-be-determined date in 2021.
“An updated 2020 season Notice of Race will be posted to the SSS website detailing the revised schedule and providing guidance regarding relevant social distancing practices. There should be only a few changes to the standard SH Farallones Sailing Instructions, most notably the requirement for skippers to record their own finish times as a back-up to the race committee record. We are planning a Zoom-based skipper’s meeting on Thursday, June 25, at 7 p.m. to review the SHF SIs and to answer any questions. Log-in details will be published on the SSS forum and on Jibeset.”
Round the Rocks One by One and Two by Two
“We are currently planning to run the rescheduled 2020 Round the Rocks toward the end of July/beginning of August. We will confirm this date at the earliest possible opportunity.” Unlike the Singlehanded Farallones, Round the Rocks is also open to doublehanders sailing in their own divisions.
“Depending on the relevant social distancing regulations in place in mid-July, there may be more substantive changes to the standard Round the Rocks SIs, designed to enable appropriate social distancing for the race committee. We’ll endeavor to share these modifications to the standard racing format as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience as we work through all of this.”
We hope our Latitude readers enjoyed the Summer Sailstice, our international celebration of sailing. Over in the East Bay, a hardy band of Laser sailors celebrated the Sailstice by venturing into full-on nuking summer pressure on Southampton Shoal. It was blowing about 18 knots with gusts to the mid-twenties when we arrived at Richmond Yacht Club (RYC) around eleven in the morning. The local Laser fleet has become more active during the pandemic, and Saturday was no exception. Toshi Takayanagi and Emilio Castelli, the two most hardcore locals, were already rigging their boats when we showed up. Several others arrived one by one, small cars towing compact, trailered Lasers.
We had just returned from Los Angeles where we had purchased a Laser, the seventh one we have owned since 1973. As most of Latitude‘s readers no doubt are aware, the two most sublime moments of boat ownership are the day you buy your wonderful new boat, and the day you finally sell the damn vessel and unload the related headaches and expenses.
It seems to be a seller’s market right now for the ILCA Dinghy (the alternative name acquired recently for the Laser). Used boats were hard to find, especially in the older, lower-priced range favored by us recreational Masters sailors. We stalked the Laser forums without luck, finally locating a 2019 boat that had been used as a charter in eight regattas. Buying a Laser that’s been “borrowed” by a rock-star junior for the Leiter Cup or other championship is an economical method for obtaining a virtually new Laser at a discount.
As we watched our friends splash their boats and go blasting off into San Francisco Bay, we pondered the mysteries of six-to-one outhauls with bungee cord retractors. Attempting to figure out a pile of micro blocks, Dyneema and pre-stretched Dacron line and turn said pile into a functional boat, we watched YouTube videos.
Do We Have Enough Boats?
We also wondered how many Latitude readers are as nuts for a one-design class as we are, now on our seventh Laser. We know a few fanatics like our friend Chris Nash, who told us he once owned ten (10!) OK Dinghies. RYC member Kers Clausen recently gave a Zoom presentation about the International Etchells class and why he has owned over twenty (20!) of them. We have no idea how many Thistles our friend Mike Gillum has collected, refurbished and raced with his wife and daughter.
And how many boats are too many? Our fleet includes three El Toros, two kayaks, this new Laser and an old Plastic Classic 40. We know lots of folks who have more hulls, and longer total waterline length, than we do.
So we would like to hear from you. Have you owned, or do you own, multiple boats of one class? Do you have a large fleet of small boats? Do you know of a shrink who treats the boat-poor or a self-help group, Boat Fanatics Anonymous perhaps, for the likes of us? Leave your comments below.
As for Saturday’s Sailstice, we must confess that we never made it out onto the water, but we did get the outhaul on the new boat to work. Our friends bashed upwind in the chop, screamed downwind complete with plenty of death-roll capsize excitement, and returned to the dock with big grins on their faces. The intense conditions, with gusts over 26 knots, swept even the most enthusiastic Laser Radial sailors away in about an hour. It was a short, sharp 2020 Summer Sailstice for the Richmond Laser Fleet.
On Memorial Day weekend, singlehander Graeme Lowe decided to attempt a “crazy but incredible” race against time. The skipper of the Berkeley-berthed Baltic 38 Merope had been planning a solo passage to Drake’s Bay over late May’s holiday weekend, but because rough conditions were forecast for his anticipated two-day trip, Graeme reconsidered his original plan, and attempted a round trip to Point Reyes in a single day — hoping to make it back into the Bay before sunset.
Social distancing and stay-at-home orders have made it difficult for skippers to find crew, and outdoor activities have been limited to the company of household members. None of this stopped Graeme, who has been singlehanding in the Bay frequently — taking a GoPro along to share his trips on a ‘slow TV’ YouTube channel — and sometimes venturing outside the Golden Gate. With two days ahead of him, Graeme decided to take the plunge and sail Merope to Drake’s Bay, a trip he had done one year ago with two other boats, on his own this time.
“I found sailing outside the Bay more rewarding, maybe because it’s more challenging as I’m not as familiar with it. So I’m frequently trying to figure out ways to sail outside the Bay. In a perfect world, I would have been able to drop anchor up there and spend the night, but because I turned back that first day [Friday, May 22], I couldn’t: I actually had to be at work on Sunday.”
After a late start from Berkeley on Friday morning, Graeme’s plan was just to “dip out and see.” Unfortunately, a system offshore had created rough coastal conditions, both for sailing to Drake’s Bay and for anchoring there. Shorthanded and without a windlass, Graeme did not feel comfortable taking the chance: “The swells were really big and the wind was too much. I got out just a little bit past Point Bonita and decided to come back. That first day, turning back was a pretty easy decision. So I came back in and pulled up a mooring ball at the Sausalito Yacht Club.”
That first attempt gave him more confidence and determination to try again the next day. After a morning coffee, he departed from Sausalito, hoping to get more of a breakfast underway. “Next thing I know, a few hours into it, I’m looking at the chart and calculating my ETA. I decided that if I could make it there before 4 o’clock, then I would continue and if, at some point, things set me back, I made the commitment to myself that I would turn back”.
After a wild beat up in strengthening winds reaching mid- to high 20s around Point Reyes, Graeme finally made it to Drake’s Bay, achieving his goal of less than 30 feet of water at 4:15 p.m. — “right on the edge” — only to bear away and finally set a course that allowed him to fix up a snack below deck.
After such an intense upwind leg, “the way back made it all worth it.” Graeme remembers coming back through the Golden Gate as one of the best moments of his trip. “I’ve done that so many times before, but this time, it felt so magical, having been sailing for 12 hours at that point. Perfect conditions for it: following seas, beautiful setting sun, birds, porpoises,” and above all, a great sense of accomplishment.
“I don’t climb mountains, but that’s what I imagine people feel when they do. It’s uncomfortable and it pushes you; it challenges you in ways that you don’t really anticipate until you start. But then that makes that view from the summit all that much better, because you feel like you have actually accomplished something.”