July 27, 2020

USCG Sets Condition ZULU Ahead of Hurricane Douglas

On Sunday morning the US Coast Guard Captain of the Port set port condition ZULU for Honolulu and Kauai Counties as Hurricane Douglas continues to threaten Hawaii. Port condition ZULU means gale-force winds are predicted to arrive within 12 hours and ports are closed to all inbound and outbound traffic.

Hurricane Douglas tracks toward Hawaii
Areas of Hawaii have dodged Hurricane Douglas but the severe weather warnings remain in place.
© 2020 NHC/NOAA

USCG issued the following report:

The Coast Guard reminds mariners that our facilities and ports are safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum. While port condition ZULU remains in effect, port facilities will be restricted until the storm has passed and crews complete damage assessment surveys.

At 0800, Hurricane Douglas was 90 miles east of Kahului, Maui, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, moving west-northwest at 18 mph. Douglas is currently a Category 1 hurricane.

The public is reminded of these important safety messages:

When hurricane- or tropical storm-force winds are present, stay off the water. The Coast Guard’s search and rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen. This may delay help. Boaters should heed weather watches, warnings, and small craft advisories. Evacuate as necessary. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate or rescue those in danger until after the storm has passed.

Secure belongings. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they may be less vulnerable to breaking free of moorings or causing significant damage. Trailerable boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to update Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) registration and secure the units safely to the vessel before a significant storm. These devices often float free from vessels in marinas or at docks during hurricanes and signal a distress when there is none. Ensure life rings, lifejackets, and small boats are secured. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources to be diverted to ensure people are not in distress.

Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.

Be prepared. Area residents should develop a personal or family plan, creating a 14-day disaster supply kit (including any prescriptions), having a place to go, securing their home, and having a plan for pets.

Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio, and the internet. Boaters can track its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information is also available through small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.

Don’t rely on social media. People in distress should use 911 to request assistance whenever possible. Social media should not be used to report life-threatening distress due to limited resources to monitor the dozens of social media platforms during a hurricane or large-scale rescue operation.

For information on Hurricane Douglas’s progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s webpage.

The Coast Guard will continue to issue Broadcast Notice to Mariners and send out a Marine Safety Information Bulletin to notify the maritime community of port condition changes.

All maritime users are requested to monitor the progress of this hurricane and make preparations accordingly.

For Coast Guard updates regarding Hurricane Douglas follow the Coast Guard 14th District’s Twitter @USCGHawaiiPac.

Important Update on 2020 Baja Ha-Ha Cruisers’ Rally

We’ve just received an update about this year’s Baja Ha-Ha: 

The Grand Poobah advises that on October 1 he will make a final decision whether to host a Baja Ha-Ha 27 this year. The event is slated to start November 3.

The Ha-Ha, of course, is the 750-mile cruisers’ rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas with R&R stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria. Over 10,000 sailors have done a Ha-Ha.

The Poobah wishes he could provide more certainty, but as we all know, it’s just not possible at this time.

Even if making an October 1 decision on the Ha-Ha, the Poobah is confident the Ha-Ha and partners could provide an almost-normal Ha-Ha experience.

Keep your fingers crossed. After doing it for 26 years in a row we sure don’t want to stop now.

The Grand Poobah has announced that there will not be a SoCal Ta-Ta this year because of the COVID-19 crisis. The Ta-Ta is a week-long cruiser event that starts in Santa Barbara and finishes at Two Harbors, Catalina. In between there are two overnights at Santa Cruz Island, and overnights in Channel Islands Harbor and Paradise Cove.

The Grand Poobah intends there to be a Ta-Ta in 2021.

Rafting up for 2018 Baja Ha-Ha
You’ll never be short of company on a Baja Ha-Ha rally.
© 2020 Richard Spindler

Cruisers Rescued from Sinking Boat en Route to Seattle

At around 10 p.m on Saturday, July 18, USCG rescued four sailors who had abandoned their sinking Sabre 402, Stella Blue. The crew had issued a ‘Pan-Pan-Pan’ alert after realizing they could not stem the flow of water entering the boat.

Wally Fort, his wife Lori Warner, and two of their friends were headed for Seattle when the water was discovered. “We were motoring up the coast with about 2 kt of wind from the south and 2-3-foot swells from the NW, about 8 miles south of Pt. Arena and 5 miles offshore” Wally said.

“After discovering rising water in the bilge, we were frantically trying to pump the water out so we could find the leak. We discovered it was coming from the stern and when we looked in that locker we saw that the rudder-post bearing and seal had come loose from the hull. It was too cramped for anyone to get inside, and none of us could reach the problem.

“When we learned the Coast Guard’s rescue vessel would arrive in approximately an hour and 45 minutes, we hailed a nearby sailboat, Sanssouci, a Beneteau 43, and asked for assistance.

“Earlier, Sanssouci had heard our Pan alert and asked if we were okay. We were then, but as the water rose our situation changed and we were now in a Mayday need of help.”

The good Samaritans aboard Sanssouci are known only as Bren and Clay.

“They came close and threw us a line for their dinghy. We boarded the dinghy and paddled away from our boat. They then motored over to us to catch the dinghy line and pull us to their boat and we climbed on board.”

Here, Stella Blue‘s crew waited for the Coast Guard while their vessel drifted nearby.

“When the Coast Guard arrived they boarded our boat and turned off the EPIRB and the strobe, and they rolled up the jib that we had raised to steady our boat.”

At around 10 p.m. Wally and his companions were taken aboard the rescue vessel in preparation for the two-hour ride to Fort Bragg. The rescue concluded on the 19th, by which time the drenched sailors were quite cold and a little seasick, but uninjured.

Stella Blue sailing on the Delta
Stella Blue as seen sailing on the Delta.
© 2020 Wally Fort

“I don’t know what’s happened to my boat,” Wally said. “We’re guessing it’s at the bottom of the ocean.” So far there have been no reports of the vessel’s being spotted adrift or onshore.

Wally and Lori, members of the Stockton Sailing Club, have owned Stella Blue for over nine years. “We enjoy cruising. We’ve often sailed the Bay and have taken Stella Blue down the coast with the Baja Ha-Ha and into the Sea of Cortez. On another trip south we went to Panama and on to Ecuador. We were heading to Seattle to live aboard Stella and visit family for the summer.”

“I don’t know what we’ll do now,” Wally added. “We’ll wait to decide what to do next.”

Updated: Rolex Big Boat Series Canceled, and the Schedule ‘Adjustments’ Just Keep Coming

News Flash!

When we wrote this story on Monday morning, we had not yet received the word that Rolex Big Boat Series has been canceled. Here’s what we wrote about that regatta originally: So far, Rolex Big Boat Series is still on for September 16-20, and 53 boats have signed up as of Monday morning. RBBS includes the Pacific Coast Championship for Express 37s and the West Coast Championship for J/88s.

Shortly after we posted, Cam Tuttle forwarded this message that St. Francis Yacht Club sent to owners: “Today we have announced the cancellation of the Rolex Big Boat Series 2020. You can find the announcement here. We wanted to reach out directly to you to let you know that we had continued planning and were reviewing all possible options to run this regatta to the standard that the StFYC, Rolex and you expect from us. Based on the current situation with the COVID-19 virus, we wanted to make sure we made the safe and fair decision; we did not make this decision lightly.

“If you have paid any entry fees, Grace from the Race Office will be refunding you in the next few days.

“The StFYC appreciates your support; for many of you this is an annual event with your crew and families. We are already starting to plan the 2021 event, and look forward to having the J/88 North Americans, and celebrating the Express 37’s 30th year of racing as a one design fleet at the regatta.

“For the owners in the handicap division, we will continue the discussions we’ve had with you on the rating rule we use; please keep your feedback and input coming to us.” The message was signed by Susan Ruhne, regatta chair, and Commodore Ken Glidewell.

More Updates

St. Francis Yacht Club had planned to host the 2020 Laser North American Championships on September 2–6. However, they’ve “rescheduled” it for July 14–18, 2021. Ongoing safety concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the delay.

Lasers start
A StFYC Laser start from 2018.
© 2020 Chris Ray

Speaking of J/Boat championships, the J/111 Class Association and Annapolis Yacht Club have determined that, because of the varying levels of infection and disruption across the world, this year’s J/111 North American Championship, scheduled for October 29-November 1, will instead be raced as part of the Annapolis NOOD Regatta on April 30-May 2, 2021. The class will instead hold its East Coast Championship in Annapolis during the previously scheduled Halloween weekend in 2020.

The TP52 World Championship was supposed to happen on September 14-19 in Puerto Portals, Mallorca, but organizers have canceled it. They had planned on a six-race season for the 2020 52 Super Series. But the class was only able to complete the first event in South Africa, in early March.

Something You Can Do

On the other hand, if you’ve always wanted to try your hand at the Rolex Fastnet Race, but never had the (choose all that apply) time, money, resources, connections, experience, guts to actually sail in the Fastnet, you’ll get your chance to take a dry run this August. In the online Virtual Regatta, the first part of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s event remains the same: Leave Cowes, head west down the English Channel, pass Land’s End, and cross the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland, before returning to the Channel, leaving Bishop Rock to port. But, for the 2021 and 2023 editions, the finish has moved to Cherbourg, at the top of the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy, France, some 70 miles due south of Cowes across the English Channel (“La Manche” in French). This change increases the distance to 695 miles.

Fastnet Rock
The turning mark.
© 2020 Kurt Arrigo / Rolex

Following the new course, Virtual Regatta’s Rolex Fastnet Race will set sail aboard Class 40s at 1200 UTC this August 3. Virtual racers will use actual weather data. The game is free, but competitors can pay a small fee to upgrade their equipment. The real Rolex Fastnet Race expects more than 350 entries on the start line in 2021, ranging from 100-ft Ultime maxi-trimarans to “mums and dads on their 30-ft family cruisers.” The Virtual Regatta expects to draw more than 30,000 entries.

Successful Fundraising at Vallarta Yacht Club
When Vallarta Yacht Club in NV, Mexico was forced to close its doors in March due to COVID_19, the members embarked upon a mission to help their employees. Their subsequent fundraising campaign, S.O.S. (Save Our Staff) exceeded expectations and returned more than enough money to keep paying their nine, permanent staff through the remainder of 2020.
Find Your Old Latitudes
Just over a week ago we posted this Latitude 38 archive photo on our Facebook page stating, "We often hear from readers who say 'I've got a copy of every issue of Latitude 38 stored in my house.'"  So we're offering a test for those who say they have a complete set of the magazines.
Would You Rather Rent or Own the Slip?
With the abundance of boats in the Bay Area, we wanted to understand more about the merits of leasing or renting a slip, versus owning a slip. And while the concept of slip ownership is not entirely new, it is something that many of us had not previously considered.