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August 26, 2020

Return of Historic Sailing Vessel ‘Vega’

We don’t know about you, but it seems to us there’s been a decided dearth of good news in this weirdest of years. So we were particularly thrilled to receive, and pass on, the following . . .

You may recall the story in the April 2019 issue about the shipyard accident involving the historic working brigantine Vega. In a nutshell, during a routine haulout at a shipyard in Thailand, the carriage wheels on the marine railway collapsed and the 128-year-old wooden ship (built in 1892 in Norway as a Baltic and North Sea trader) rolled off and onto her port side. A bungled attempt to roll her upright resulted in her rolling over onto her starboard side. The incoming tide did the rest — flooding the interior and ruining all electronics and machinery, as well as all personal possessions of Shane Granger and Meggi Macoun. The couple purchased Vega in 2001, and for the last 15 years, have run the vessel as a nonprofit humanitarian supply line to dozens of small Indonesian islands. Cargos have included everything from medical test equipment and pharmaceuticals to laptop computers, vegetable seeds, school supplies and reading glasses.

Local workers sort health supplies delivered by Vega
Thanks to the support of our sponsors, we were able to deliver all the items the healthpost asked Vega for. Supplies included one portable ultrasound scanner, foetal Doppler heartbeat monitors, clinical blood pressure monitors, expendables like bandages and pharmaceuticals, and many more items. “They have forgotten we exist,” said Pa Hecki, headman of a tiny island in the Banda Sea. “You are our only voice to the outside world.”
© 2020 Historic Vessel Vega

With almost zero help from the boatyard, a group of volunteers spent the remainder of 2019 — 12 hours a day, seven days a week — restoring Vega to seaworthy condition. Eighteen broken frames and 26 planks were replaced, as were all wiring and instruments. “Without the financial support of our friends who normally provide medical and educational supplies, Vega would have been lost,” says Shane.

Vega being re-planked
The incident occurred on February 8, 2019. Vega went back into the water in November 2019 but was still not operational. We paid a fishing boat to tow us to Rebak Island near Langkawi, Malaysia. The very next morning we hauled out again to finish work the yard refused to address. We went back into the water on December 12, 2019.
© 2020 Historic Vessel Vega

With the ship finally back afloat and waiting for a weather window at Rebak Marina in Malaysia earlier this year, COVID-19 brought all plans to a screeching halt. Shane, Meggi and the volunteers took a deep breath, then dove into the hundreds of jobs that still needed doing. When it’s possible to finally cast off the docklines, Vega is ready to deliver a long list of supplies and equipment that — after two years away — are needed now more than ever.

Historic Vessel Vega under sail
Vega is a traditional Scandinavian galleass — a type of small commercial vessel once common in northern waters. She is 60 feet on deck. 80 feet LOA, with a 16-ft beam and 8-ft draft.
© 2020 Historic Vessel Vega

Look for more on this uplifting story in the September issue of Latitude 38. In the meantime, check out www.vega1892.com to learn more about Vega’s mission, the out-of-the-way places they assist, and, if you are so inclined, how you can help.

ETNZ and ACE Cleared in America’s Cup Audit

It’s not an America’s Cup unless there’s some controversy. The most recent and serious controversy involved the misappropriation of funds by ETNZ in New Zealand. However, today the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), in consultation with host partner Auckland Council, announced it has completed its audit into allegations made against Emirates Team New Zealand Limited (ETNZ) and America’s Cup Event Limited (ACE).

The forensic accountants, Beattie Varley, reported that there was no evidence of financial impropriety or misappropriation of funds. Their report also found that:

  • There was no loan from ACE to ETNZ.
  • There was no fraud by ACE or ETNZ.
  • No personal expenses of Grant Dalton or any other personnel were paid from “Crown monies.”
  • There has been no financial impropriety of any nature.
Grant Dalton
ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton is on his fifth America’s Cup.
© 2020 Emirates Team New Zealand

MBIE Chief Executive Carolyn Tremain said, “While it’s excellent to confirm that there has been no financial impropriety and the escalation process has concluded, the Beattie Varley report had raised some concerns around record-keeping relating to several historical matters.”

American Magic and ETNZ sailing
Meanwhile, the American Magic and ETNZ teams cruised the waters of Hauraki Gulf. So far, NYYC is the only Challenger to join Defender Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland.
© 2020 America's Cup 36

The process began after MBIE and Auckland Council (as hosts) were made aware of claims relating to the organization of the 36th America’s Cup, which prompted an investigation by Beattie Varley and triggered an escalation process under the Host Venue Agreement.

“It was important to work through the audit process and confirm that there was no financial impropriety or misappropriation of funds,” said Tremain.

Solo Rower Lia Ditton Aims for Hawaii

Professional sailor Lia Ditton left San Francisco Bay on June 17 to embark on a journey from the Bay Area to Hawaii. But instead of sailing, Lia is rowing the 2500 miles across the Pacific — solo. This intrepid woman is now approximately two thirds of the way across, having covered around 1800 miles with around 700 to go.

Lia Ditton map to Hawaii
This map shows Lia’s intended path from the Bay to Hawaii, however weather conditions have caused her to deviate from this course.
© 2020 Lia Ditton

Lia departed from Corinthian Yacht Club on June 17, at 11 p.m. This presented her first challenge — a stiff breeze and a slow outgoing tide kept her progress in check. And then there were the container ships, one of which announced its presence with a long blast of its horn. However, several hours of rowing saw Lia clear of the shipping lanes and their enormous vessels. By 9:34 a.m. on June 18, Lia was ready to take her first, and well-earned, rest.

To date Lia has endured headwinds, rough seas and soakings, and has been rolled twice and followed by sharks. Nothing unusual for a crossing, but when you consider that Lia is aboard a 21-ft rowboat, you begin to imagine only a fraction of the discomfort she may experience at times.

“As I stand to enter the cabin, an exceptionally well-timed wave crashed over the cabin top, over my head and down the neck of my jacket. My day didn’t get better from there. The bottom of my bunk was wet from the open air-vent.” Lia posted this on her website.

Lia at the start of her journey
Lia on a dry day — a quick selfie before launching from Corinthian Yacht Club on June 17.
© 2020 Lia Ditton

Lia’s first shark encounter came on day 19. “I am one second from pulling on the sea anchor retrieval line, when a 7-ft shark sashays by.” So what did Lia do? Grab her GoPro. Of course!

“I extend the stick ready to film, delighted I bought a longer stick for this journey. But once the stick reaches its full 38 throe, 38 doesn’t seem enough stick between me and the shark.”

Lia identified her companion as a blue shark, and wondered whether the species made a habit of swimming clockwise around boats. Mr. Shark, as she came to name her friend, had swum beneath her boat and completed several laps before they eventually locked eyes. By now Lia was ready to pull in her sea anchor — the task that she had temporarily abandoned when the shark appeared. The shark then departed, leaving Lia to no doubt marvel at the unique experience.

Lia's row boat
Lia’s boat is decorated with animated sea creatures designed by Wes Archer — one of the artists responsible for The Simpsons animations.
© 2020 Lia Ditton

Soon after came the first knockdown. Lia was in her cabin when a wave slammed the boat and rolled it onto its side. Fortunately there was no damage. This is not Lia’s first ocean rowing adventure, and each one brings its own set of challenges. But every sailor knows that alongside the challenges, there are many uplifting moments that make the journey even more worthwhile.

“In the morning, the sun is streaked from cloud to horizon in thick gold bands. It reminds me of early century paintings and the gold-leafed auras around the heads of Byzantine holy-men,” Lia writes on her website.

Lia had hoped to complete her journey in 53 days. So far she has been at sea for 63 days and now hopes to finish in under 99 days, which is the record set by Roz Savage — the first, and so far, only woman to row solo across the Pacific.

Lia, we wish you well and will continue to follow your journey. 

You can read more of Lia’s diary entries and follow her progress at rowliarow.com.

Shallow Draft Waterways Survey

Coast Guard seeks public comment on shallow draft waterway navigation system

The US Coast Guard is conducting a Waterways Analysis and Management System Study on the Shallow Draft System (waters less than 12 feet deep), to update its policies and make navigable waterways of the United States safer and more efficient.

“Our waterways have become increasingly congested and complex,” states the USCG announcement. “While the number and size of the vessels traveling through the U.S. Marine Transportation System has increased, the number and in some cases size of U.S. navigation corridors has not. The recreational boating industry has also seen steady growth over the last decade further congesting the waterways.”

To address these changes and determine navigation requirements for the Shallow Draft Waterway System, the Coast Guard is soliciting feedback from local maritime partners and stakeholders that operate on the affected waterways.

Moore 24 sails past a red daymark
The Petaluma River entrance markers are in thin water, and the river itself is pretty shallow. Mariners run aground trying to cut the corner between the river entrance and San Pablo Bay. We didn’t have a picture of that handy. So here’s a Moore 24 sailing on the ‘wrong’ side of a shipping channel daymark on the San Joaquin River. With a 4.5-ft draft, the Moore doesn’t need to stay in the 40-ish-ft shipping channel, but where exactly are the edges and shoals for our keels? (The San Andreas Shoal is in the background.) As they say in the Delta, if you haven’t been aground, you haven’t been around.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The study’s purpose is to determine the navigational needs and requirements of vessels operating in shallow-draft navigable waterways throughout the country. The study will focus on the existing shallow-water Aids to Navigation system, future development projects, waterborne commerce transiting these waters, and marine casualty information.

The CG invites waterway users, interested parties and stakeholders to provide comments or feedback via the tool posted at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ShallowWaterWAMS. This link will remain available until November 1, 2020. You also email questions or comments to CGNAV@uscg.mil. Use the subject line “Shallow Draft WAMS.”

Free Webinar from Oakland Yacht Club

So you’ve bought a new boat. Now what? There are important decisions to be made in the first weeks, perhaps months.

Oakland Yacht Club webinar
Join Oakland Yacht Club for this free webinar.
© 2020 Oakland Yacht Club

Get great resources for maintenance, racing, cruising, marinas, activities, etc. Learn about boat ownership from experienced boat owners at the Oakland Yacht Club webinar. Bring all your questions! Sailors and power boaters are welcome.

Saturday August 29, 10-11 AM

For registration information, go to www.oaklandyachtclub.com or call 510-522-6868.

T-shirt Winners Galore
Steve Lehmann is Latitude 38's latest Golden Ticket winner. Steve and his wife, Terri had spent the past five months in Utah. One of the first things they did when they returned to the Bay Area was pick up a copy of the magazine at Marina Village, Alameda. Inside was Steve's ticket to a free Latitude 38 t-shirt.
Sponsored Post
KKMI respects and appreciates the specialized skills needed for our industry and is willing to offer an attractive compensation package for the right person.
Unusual Navigation Markers
There are a thousand reasons to keep a good lookout. Modern navigational aids and numerous digital devices continue to improve and reduce accidents at sea. Despite all that equipment, it remains very important to keep an eye ahead and even read the signs along the shore.
Crashboat Joins Bay Area's Historic Fleet
The San Francisco Bay area has many historic and treasured vessels of the World War II era: 'Jeremiah O'Brien' and 'Red Oak Victory', Potomac, and the submarine Pampanito. So when we received this story about the 1944 vessel 'Intrepid', we felt it was worth sharing with our sail-centric audience. 
Baja Ha-Ha
We hope to see you cruising in Mexico and enjoying La Buena Vida en El Mar. The people are fabulous, the country is gorgeous, and the cruising is fantastic.