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July 29, 2020

Tragic Shark Attack Disturbs Maine Summer

Along the normally peaceful coastline of Maine, a summer tragedy intruded on an already difficult year. On Monday afternoon, the first fatal shark attack ever recorded along the coast of Maine occurred just a couple of miles away from our summer sailing getaway.

Each year we manage to head East for a family reunion on the coast of Maine, which usually includes afternoon daysailing on our Pearson Ensign. This year there’s no family reunion, but we did hop aboard the Ensign on Sunday afternoon for a sail. It was a hot, gentle sail, so our daughters jumped off in the middle of Harpswell Sound to cool off while dragging astern. It was an idyllic afternoon.

Shockingly, the fatal shark attack occurred 24 hours later right near the sailboat on the horizon of the photo below.

Shark swim
You never know. The day after this photo was taken a fatal shark attack occurred just beyond the sailboat visible on the horizon.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

On Monday afternoon, we happened to be on the docks of Mackerel Cove, picking up lobsters at Glen’s Lobsters, when some guys hustled past, jumped into a skiff, and roared off. We soon saw about four fishing boats in the harbor heading out to the mouth of the cove. We didn’t find out right away, but a few hours later we learned they were off to attempt a rescue, which, sadly, wasn’t possible.

Glen's Lobsters
A photo from Glen’s Lobsters we happened to shoot moments before local fishermen rushed out to respond to an emergency call at the mouth of this cove.

It is certainly devastating to the family and community. While exceptionally rare, these events also unnerve everyone’s sense of summer on the coast of Maine.

Who Won the June Caption Contest(!)?

Each month on ‘Lectronic Latitude we post a new Caption Contest(!), and in the next month’s Latitude 38 we share our favorite captions and announce the winner. But do you remember to look in the magazine to find out who the winner is, and what their prizewinning caption was?

We decided to make it easy for you this time around. No, we’re not going to hand you the answers, but we will point you in the right direction.

First, let us say, “We love this contest!”

We keep thinking that it can’t get any better, yet time and time again we’re proven wrong. The wit and humor of our fellow sailors has us laughing away the hours (OK, minutes) in the name of ‘work.’

To refresh your memory, here is June’s Caption Contest(!) photo:

June Caption Contest (!) photo
Great photo. Great captions.
© 2020 @denizkilic1355

Okay, so are you ready? Use this link to jump to the results, and we’ll see you in a couple of weeks for the August Caption Contest(!).

Hurricanes Douglas and Hanna

Central Pacific Hurricane Region

Historically speaking, hurricanes have a habit of taking aim for the Hawaiian Islands right around this time of year. In a non-pandemic year, the Transpac or Pacific Cup fleet would have just sailed into town. Many sailors would be preparing to deliver boats home to the West Coast, oftentimes racing to get out of Dodge just before a tropical system or being stuck in port to wait it out. While West Coast sailors had to take the year off this year due to COVID-19, Mother Nature doesn’t rest and is doing her thing like clockwork.

satellite image of hurricane douglas
While Hurricane Douglas eventually made a turn to the north, he gave the Hawaiian Islands quite a scare. Here, Douglas is seen just east of the Big Island of Hawaii.
© 2020 CIRA / RAMMB

Enter Hurricane Douglas. After forming on July 19, Douglas rapidly intensified all the way up to Category 4 status before beginning his march toward the islands. Weakened by cooler sea surface temperatures as a result of this year’s La Niña, Douglas continued to lose steam. He was eventually downgraded to a high-end Category 1 system, though one that was taking direct aim for the islands and threatening to make landfall — a rarity for Hawaii.

Surfing Hurricane Douglas
With any tropical system passing close to the islands, count on a short-period wind swell and plenty of surfers in the water. Here, surfers in Hawaii enjoy one of Douglas’s gifts, which was groomed back into shape by moderate offshore winds.
© 2020

Fortunately for those in Hawaii — who went into full-on hurricane preparation mode — Douglas continually lost intensity and also made a last-minute move to the north, which spared the islands the worst of his impacts. Douglas brought some wind and rain to the Aloha State, but most social media users in Hawaii ended up focusing on the incredible sunsets, cloud formations and surfing swells as Douglas’s most significant impacts to the region.

Atlantic Hurricane Region

While Douglas may have become a dud, another storm rocked the Gulf Coast region over the weekend. Hurricane Hanna made landfall in Texas as a Category 1 system. Bringing sustained hurricane-force winds, damaging storm surge, and extensive flooding to the coast just south of Corpus Christi, Hanna was credited with sinking multiple boats in the area and also killing one person in Florida days earlier, and three people in Mexico.

The Atlantic Ocean is bracing for what is widely predicted to be a very active hurricane season this year. That prediction has so far been warranted, as Hanna was the earliest ‘H’-named system to form on record, surpassing 2005’s Tropical Storm Harvey by more than a week.

The Things We Find on Facebook: Chronicles of Latitude

On a recent Saturday, when not all of us got to go sailing, we found a post on Facebook sharing a story we had published in May 2009. Regular Latitude writer JR had written a fantastic feature titled ‘Guide to Bay Sailing’. And while clearly much will have changed over the past 11 years, the essence of the piece remains.

Whether it’s 2020 or 2009, once you’re on the water and catching the cool Bay breeze you have numerous options on where to sail — from Sausalito to Alcatraz, to the Bay Bridge, back across to the Richmond Bridge, through Raccoon Strait, and on to the Golden Gate Bridge. Or you might simply head straight up into the Delta. The choices are all yours, as this feature points out.

Interestingly, the opening lines of the 2009 story refer to the recession. That seems so long ago. Yet how much of what we know and do today has stemmed from that time? Similarly, there’s little doubt that in another 11 years we’ll look back in amazement at 2020 and at the effects it has had on our world. But . . . In the meantime, we still have sailing.

So we hope you enjoy this blast from the past and are inspired to raise your sails and explore the Bay this coming weekend.

2009 Guide to Bay Sailing
Check out this 2009 version of Guide to Bay Sailing.
© 2020 Erik Simonson

Thanks to Jorge Lavorerio for posting the story on the Facebook group, Sailing.

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