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September 25, 2020

Australia and New Zealand Say No to Cruisers

Since the early days of global COVID restrictions, the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) has been appealing to Australian (AUS) and New Zealand (NZ) authorities to secure safe harbors for cruisers during the South Pacific’s 2020/21 cyclone season.

OCC has been working with Sail South Pacific and the Marina Operators Association since April, in liaisons with NZ’s immigration and maritime agencies. A few weeks ago OCC wrote again to New Zealand’s health minister and to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Despite OCC’s demonstrating the potential need for cruising yachts to take refuge in NZ, authorities have deferred to their “COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) Order.” What this means is that future cyclones do not fall into the list of exemptions under which a vessel may be allowed to enter NZ.

According to OCC’s report, NZ’s director general for health advised that there are limited exceptions to the ruling that allow “cargo vessels to unload and load, fishing vessels to unload catch and resupply and Defence and State vessels to enter and depart.” The minister further stated that the department has authority to grant entry to vessels that have a “compelling need for the ship to arrive in New Zealand for reprovisioning or refueling, carrying out a refit, refurbishment or repair to a ship, or for humanitarian reasons.” The minister did add that they will still “determine whether there is a compelling reason for a ship to arrive in New Zealand for humanitarian reasons on a case-by-case basis, should a cyclone arise in any one location.”

In other words, cruisers are advised to seek shelter in other regions where they can be assured of refuge should the need arise.

This anchorage in Opua, New Zealand, looks picturesque, but unfortunately, if you don’t live there, you can’t go there.
© 2020 Elana Connor

Similarly, Australia has denied OCC’s request to grant cruisers access due to the country’s COVID-19 regulations. A letter from Australian Border Force advised that cruisers will not be granted entry based on potential future cyclones. Specific points included:

  • The grounds for compelling/compassionate circumstances are not met.
  • The inability to get insurance is not a basis on which to grant an exemption.
  • There is no information to support the proposition that any of the travellers or vessels regularly come to Australia.
  • The travellers may wish to consider other options in relation to the travel/cyclone season.

Australian Border Force did state, “Yachts may still apply for an exemption.”

cCyclone-damaged boat in Australia
Even being in port is not always a guarantee of safety. This boat sustained significant damage in Cat 4 Cyclone Debbie, which hit Australia’s Whitsundays in 2017.
© 2020 Marc Conias / Professional Boat Care

Based on the information reported by OCC, cruisers need to make themselves aware of their options and make a refuge plan well ahead of the South Pacific’s approaching cyclone season.

Ocean Cruising Club advises that “crews with ongoing concerns can contact their embassy/consulate to seek their assistance.”

BCDC Reform Bill Goes to Governor Newsom’s Desk

A bill aimed at reforming the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, or BCDC, is headed for Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. Assembly Bill 2809 is being called a “first step” in reforming the BCDC, which has “consistently struggled to perform key responsibilities related to enforcement and has therefore allowed ongoing harm to the Bay,” according to a 2019 report by the Auditor of the State of California. Advocates for reform are urging Governor Newsom to sign the bill, and asking the general public to voice their support.

Cool and calm in Tiburon
We can all have a say in the future of the Bay.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

“This bill is an acknowledgment that people are watching the BCDC,” said Bob Wilson of the SF Bay Stewardship Alliance, a group that’s been working to reform the BCDC. “We expect that there will be some additional follow-up legislation. But they’ve been put on notice.” The SF Bay Stewardship Alliance said that AB 2809 had rare bipartisan sponsorship and was passed without opposition in August by both the California Assembly and the Senate.

In a letter addressed to Newsom, the Recreational Boaters of California, or RBOC, said, “[We urge] you to sign into law AB 2809 legislation that would provide fairness, transparency and accountability in the operation of San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.” The RBOC called AB 2809 a “critical next step that would enact needed procedural reforms to the operation of BCDC,” and outlined the following provisions that the BCDC would be required to implement by the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year:

A procedure to ensure managers perform a document review of staff decisions in enforcement cases; timelines for resolving enforcement cases (there is currently a backlog of 250 cases, “many of which are celebrating their 10th anniversary,” Wilson said); a penalty matrix for assessing fines and civil penalties; a method for assessing civil penalties in cases involving multiple violations; a requirement that by July 1, 2025, and every five years thereafter, BCDC review the certified local protection program for the Suisun Marsh to determine whether the program is being effectively implemented.

AB 2809 originally had a provision that would have prohibited the BCDC from using money from the Bay Fill Cleanup and Abatement Fund (BFCA) to pay for enforcement activities or enforcement staff salaries after June 30, 2021. Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, the primary author of the bill, said that the BCDC’s budget would not have been affected by this reallocation, but the BCDC staff believed that their enforcement program was at risk. The provision to separate BCDC enforcement funding from the BFCA was eventually dropped, according to Wilson, and the BCDC will continue to use money from the fund for the foreseeable future.

If you’re interested in writing Governor Newsom about AB 2809, please follow this link.

The Long and Short of the Corinthian Yacht Club Fall Series

With normal summer and fall racing suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Corinthian Yacht Club stepped up with a successful Friday night series using strict guidelines for wearing masks or sailing with crew in a “social bubble.” That series ended in August. Playing it forward, CYC designed a new Fall Series using the same COVID safety guidelines. The six-race series began Saturday, September 19, and continues every other Saturday through November 28.

A healthy 46 boats signed on, with 32 boats sailing Race 1. The J/88 and J/70 divisions sail two short courses each on Saturday with multiple laps between Little Harding and a mark set a mile to windward. The three PHRF Divisions, the J/24, Cal 20 and Non-spinner Divisions sail one of 18 possible long courses. All but one of these long courses feature one or more roundings of a temporary mark set near Point Diablo and/or the Point Bonita #2 buoy. The long courses range in length from 12.2 miles to a whopping 26 miles.

Big boat start with Angel Island in the background
Division A start at the first CYC Fall Series race last Saturday.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Last Saturday saw southwest wind in the mid-teen range for the most part, with the expected lower-speed variable wind inside Raccoon Strait near the CYC clubhouse start/finish line. With the first start at 12:35, the noon 3.3-knot flood became a major factor in getting beyond Belvedere and into the countercurrent along the lower end of Richardson Bay. The fast-boat divisions went out to Point Diablo and back. The rest were assigned the single inside-the-Gate course available, a twice-around Yellow Bluff and a temporary mark set near Point Stuart with a final loop around Little Harding before the traditional Elephant Rock-to-finish leg. When the two one-design fleets joined in with their Little Harding/windward course it made for a busy race track.

San Francisco YC was also running their Women’s Edition Catch Me If You Can club race using both Yellow Bluff and Little Harding as marks, with a start/finish line set near the CYC Point Stuart temp. There were lots of inflatable marks to look for or avoid. The CYC and SFYC committees tied their combined Yellow Bluff marks together, forming an interesting object to search for against a group of small fishing boats in the area.

Blue J/105 with Golden Gate Bridge in the background
The J/105 Parking Lot, with Jenni Daily, Cassidy Lynch, Lisa Doyle and Matt Frymier, took first place in Fleet 1 of SFYC’s women skippers’ Catch Me if You Can.
© 2020 Roxanne Fairbairn
Bird Boat
Andrea Finn with Jock MacLean and Jenny Krone on the Bird Boat Kookaburra took first in Fleet 2. SFYC will run a new Fall Fiasco Series on alternating Saturdays. Now back to Pat’s report about the CYC Fall Series race:
© 2020 Roxanne Fairbairn

It was a swift race, even for the large boats sent out under the bridge to Point Diablo and back. In that division, Daniel Thielman’s Melges 32 Kuai corrected out ahead of Ruben Rocci’s J/111 Swift Ness. Mark Kennedy’s Melges 32 Nuckelavee took third place out of six boats. Sailing the 12.3-mile inside-the-Bay course, Rich Korman’s Moore 24 JR won the seven-boat PHRF 2 division, followed closely by Paul Zupan’s IOD One Hundred and Blake Davis’s T650 Flight Risk. PHRF 3 saw John Rook’s Ranger 33 Liquid Asset coming in first, with Pat Broderick’s Wyliecat 30 Nancy second, and Peter Birnbaum’s Catalina 34 Surprise third out of five boats. Among the four Non-Spinnaker boats, Edward Elliot’s Beneteau First 40 TREX won. Bryon Reeves’ Sabre Spirit 36 Katester placed second and Gregory Demetrulias’ Beneteau 40.7 Argo third.

Paul Van Ravenswaay’s Feral Rooster took top honors in the five-boat J/24 class, followed by Jasper Van Vliet’s Evil Octopus and Brandon Mercer’s Tenacious Cuttlefish. Wilson Partridge’s Lady Bug took all honors in the Cal 20 division. The J/70 class featured Scott Sellers’ 1FA, followed by Justin Foox in Flotek in a two-boat race. Sergey Lubarsky’s Pelagia won the J/88 class, with Brice Dunwoodie’s Ravenette the other J/88 racing.

Cats on Tris

We recently bumped into Glenn Howell and crew Heather Annesley (whom we met at the fall 2019 Latitude Crew List Party [remember parties?]) and her Bengal cat, Ollie, aboard Glenn’s new Corsair 760 trimaran, Whoopee. The whole crew was prepping to head out the Gate in the San Francisco Bay Area Multihull Association‘s self-timed COVID Cup Challenge. You often see cruising cats and cats that cruise, but it’s rare to find a cat ready to take on the Bay aboard a high-performance tri. The sure-footed and regal Ollie looked ready for the task.

Glenn Howell's Corsair 760
Ollie, Heather and Glenn prep for the day.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Ollie, the Bengal Cat on Tris
Since BAMA is a nondenominational organization it allows cats and tris to mix.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Flat calm morning
It was a flat, calm morning when Ollie went out looking for the first catspaw.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The COVID Cup Challenge is the brainchild of 2019 BAMA Cup winner Evan MacDonald, who can frequently be found sailing aboard his F-22 tri Greyhound. With most 2020 events canceled, Evan thought it would be good to inspire his fellow SFBAMA members to keep sailing, with some pre-determined, self-timed courses they could race or cruise on their own. Dave Wilhite, race chair for last weekend’s successful Doublehanded Farallones Race, sent over the basic instructions, which are explained this way: “The COVID Cup Challenge consists of four sailing courses that we challenge all members to complete before Halloween. The courses, which are all very doable in a day-sail, include a South Bay course, a Central Bay course, a course that gets boats outside the Golden Gate, and a North Bay course. The courses can be sailed at any time.” The idea is to simply get BAMA members on the water to enjoy their boats, perhaps explore a new part of the Bay, and also, if interested, to time their track with GPS.

Out the Gate Course
On this particular day, Whoopee, Ollie and crew were headed out to complete BAMA’s ‘Out the Gate’ course.
© 2020 BAMA

For Glenn, Heather and Ollie, the COVID Cup has been an ideal challenge and inspiration to get Whoopee launched and sailing the Bay. We applaud Evan MacDonald and SFBAMA for making it happen.

P.S. While we’re not holding crew list parties, the Latitude 38 Crew List is online — active and helping connect cautious COVID-compliant sailors whenever possible for sailing on the Bay, or sailing over the horizon. You can add your name here.

Chubby Girl Prepares for the Pacific
Wil Spaul hopes to set a new record for the smallest boat ever to sail to Hawaii. He'll head west aboard the 9-ft 'Chubby Girl' on September 27.