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October 5, 2020

‘Chubby Girl’ Returns for Repairs

Wil Spaul is headed back to the Bay. The intrepid 70-year-old sailor who is attempting to sail the smallest boat ever to Hawaii — Chubby Girl is only 9 feet long — knew it was going to be a long, rough ride when he left a week ago (Sunday, Sept. 27). But between almost dead calm for the first two-plus days, and more recently, a big swell from Hurricane Marie (still well to the south), it’s been both the best of trips, and the worst of trips.

Chubby Girl tracker
The map on Wil’s blog shows the point at which he tacked for home.
© 2020 Chubby Girl Cruising

The good news is that Wil is finally realizing a four-decade-long dream. Plus, when he gets the breeze the boat likes — 5-8 knots is ideal — he feels Chubby Girl performs well. His best day reaching so far is 50 miles, and he knows the boat will do better off the wind once he finds the Trades.

But the 8-9-ft swell has been brutal. Waves have damaged Wil’s Garmin text Satphone, allowing only incoming messages, including weather updates from the boat’s designer, Jim Antrim. He has also sustained damage to his outboard bracket, necessitating lashing the motor to the boat to keep it from falling off. On Saturday, another big wave crashed right on top of the boat, damaging the main hatch, which started leaking, and breaking something on the rig (exactly what is not clear from his updates). Plus, the forecast showed that Marie — though by then downgraded to a tropical storm — could cross his path. At that point discretion became the better part of valor and he turned around. The odometer on the hard-earned 150 miles is currently winding back to zero.

Chubby Girl launch
After Chubby Girl‘s launch in June 2020, she underwent her interior and electrical fit-out ahead of sea trials.
© 2020 Chubby Girl Cruising

“I will try to make it back to Berkeley Marine Center,” (where he built the boat) he wrote on his tracker at “I should be in the ship channel by about mid week.” At which point he may call for Sea Tow to get him back to the East Bay, as the outboard is unusable.

It’s not the end of the road by any stretch. Plans are to make repairs and head out again. We’ll catch up with Wil when he’s back, to find out when.

Mike Holmes Navigates Pandemics, the Pacific and Richmond

Recently we found ourselves in need of a driver to deliver the monthly issue of Latitude 38. We posted an ad in our Classifieds and quickly got replies from some of the best people out there: sailors.

Latitude‘s newest driver, Mike Holmes, lives in Richmond, right where the deliveries were needed. As it turns out, Mike wrote our June feature story about his sailing adventures in this year’s Clipper Race, which, upon reaching the Philippines, was canceled due to the pandemic.

That was a shame, but a good story. Delivering our October issue on Thursday was his first day on the job (and his last day for the month of October).

Michael Holmes
Rose from Marina Bay in Richmond snapped this shot of Mike as he dropped off the October issue.
© 2020 Rose

Mike grew up powerboating in the Bay Area, but while living in Richmond he caught the sailing bug and took some lessons from Tradewinds Sailing School and Club. That led to his adventures in the Clipper Race, though he also let us know he met his wife while working on a 70-meter megayacht. Now he’s sailing locally and spending the 29-30 days he gets off from Latitude 38 working in the commercial real estate business.

Mike and Robin Knox Johnson
Mike was hanging out unmasked in the Philippines with Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
© 2020 Sophie Owles

We were happy to find someone who knows how to navigate the Bay and the Pacific, and also knows his way around Richmond. You’ll see him next on November 1 with our next issue.

A Boat by any Other Name Sails Just as Sweet

Early last month we shared a story about BoatUS’s Top 10 Boat Names for 2020. It’s to be expected that we all try to name our boat with something significant or unique. Despite our best efforts we sometimes choose names that are, to put it politely, popular. However, there are still myriad interesting names displayed across hulls and transoms the world over.

We asked readers to send us their boat names along with a photo — an exercise that turned up these unique (to us) names that we’re now sharing with you.


¡Hola! from s/v Elegant’sea — a 1978 Islander Freeport 36-B #29. We’re the second owners, who kept the name her original owner of 30 years gave her. We are 2012 Baja Ha-Ha alums who came to Mexico and stayed. Our boat home is definitely “elegant” as are the seas of Mexico!” – Chip and Debbie Willis.

Chip and Debbie’s Elegant’sea strikes a magnificent pose in Barra de Navidad.
© 2020 Karen Key


“My boat’s name is Infidel. She’s a classic S&S 1973 Swan 44. I’ve owned her since August 1989. If the first of these pictures looks familiar, it’s because it was taken by Latitude 38 on a rambunctious summer day, maybe 25 years ago. – Candy, Alameda, CA, and Incline Village, NV.

Infidel under sail
Twenty-five years ago? Infidel is certainly looking “rambunctious” in this shot.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Latitude 38 Archives

Cascade & Zephyr

“My boats are named for trains, and I use the logos from the trains. Our Antrim 27 is Cascade, named for the Daylight that runs San Francisco (really Oakland) to Seattle, and our Mercury is named California Zephyr for the train that runs Oakland to Chicago. Cheers!” – Steve Rienhart.

Cascade and Zephyr
Cascade and Zephyr.
© 2020 Steve Rienhart

Just Us II

“I’m a lifelong sailor who recently had to go over to the ‘dark side’ when physical limitations from injuries made sailing difficult. Boating with my wife of 46 years is a lot of fun, but her not having the love of the water that I do, I needed an additional attraction to help get her out. The name of our trawler is Just Us II — being on the water, alone with Beverly, is one of my favorite things.” – Peter Hine, Stockton.

Just Us ll
Just Us ll — a name that holds special meaning.
© 2020 Peter Hine


“We lived in Tucson, picked the model boat we wanted to buy — found the right fit in San Diego, and bought her there. We vacationed in Vanuatu and learned about kava and nakamals there. When I found a reference to nakamal translating to “place of peace” we knew we had our boat name. A nakamal is a traditional meeting place in Vanuatu in the South Pacific. It is used for gatherings, ceremonies and the drinking of kava.”

Nakamal at the dock
Nakamal is a 1999 Island Packet 380.
© 2020 Elinore Craig


Chuck Cunningham has more than one boat, and he sent us all their names: Chartwell – Cheoy Lee 55 trawler; Sea Wolf – CT 41; Elan (originally GU) – Express 37; September (birth month) – DeFever 54 trawler.

The one that is most intriguing is Elan. We asked Chuck about the meaning of the boat’s orginal name GU. This is what he wrote:

“GU was actually Geographically Undesirable — a girl from the wrong side of the tracks (back in the day). The original owners were a couple and their son, Reese. The father was a highly accomplished structural engineer who was involved in designing the Richmond Bridge. The mother was a world-class economist out of Cal Berkeley. The son, Reese, was an actor who among other roles performed as the grapes  in the Fruit of the Loom commercials. Reese convinced his parents to buy the Express (new), in1985, and had Norm Davant set the boat up for the 1985 Transpac.

“Norm was based in SoCal, and managed Sobstad Sails. Reese was a cool guy and would come by to check on the boat after my partners and I bought the boat. When we bought the boat it had a blonde in a bikini on the transom. We got tired of being referred to as the “BimBoat” by the Express fleet. I had the blonde removed and just had the GU graphic painted. Later my partner left the partnership and I brought in Bill Reiss as new partner. We decided to re-christen the boat Elan, playing off the Express class name. Our motto was ‘Fast with Class.'”- Charles Cunningham

Unfortunately we don’t have a photo of Elan. But we do have photos of boats owned by some of the Latitude 38 crew:


“Sospiro means sigh or take a deep breath. There is a phrase “sospiro di sollievo” which translates to “a sigh of relief ” in Italian. To me, this is how this boat feels on many levels, but I do call her Sosi for short. I look forward to painting and re-lettering that stern come spring.” – Nicki Bennett

Sospiro at the dock
Nicki’s 1972 Ericson 32 Sospiro.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Nicki


“Although we bought our boat in Miami, FL, we decided to give her an Aussie reference as I am Australian and my husband Jay holds dual citizenship (Australia/US). After much research we decided on Banyandah, which for Indigenous Australians means ‘Home on the Water.'”  – Monica Grant

Banyandah — 1983 Tayana 37.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Monica

Summer Sailstice

Latitude 38 publisher, John Arndt has aptly named his boat for the annual sailing celebration he founded 20 years ago — Summer Sailstice.

Summer Sailstice
That’s John, at the helm of his Ranger 33, Summer Sailstice.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Boat Buyers Beware – Spot the Scams

It’s unfortunate, but a fact — there are unscrupulous people who try to take advantage of others through selling or buying a boat. Recently we received a newsletter from BoatUS with some tips on how to avoid boat scams.

BoatUS says that since nearly all boat buying and selling involves emails, it’s possible to find clues as to the veracity of the deal. Here’s their list of tips to help both buyers and sellers.

Warning signs for boat buyers

The boat is priced well under value. Despite lots of pictures and a good description (likely swiped from a real ad), the boat doesn’t exist. If a boat you’re seriously interested in is an out-of-state vessel, send a local accredited marine surveyor or someone you trust to verify there really is a boat and that the seller has the actual title and registration. Bottom line: If it seems too good to be true, it likely is.

Cobbled-together email addresses. Scammers constantly change their email addresses to avoid detection, and they may have to get ones with fairly normal-looking names but lots of numbers.

No phone contact. Scammers will go to great lengths not to talk to you and give reasons ranging from being out of the country to being in the military.

Demands to use a specific business (escrow or shipper) and won’t accept an alternate. If you choose to use an escrow service to settle the transaction, suggest your own after visiting the BBB site and verifying it’s a legitimate one.

The buyer wishes to pay a different amount from the selling price. If any mention is made of paying you anything more than the agreed price (and then typically asking for you to refund the overage or send the money to a third party), walk away.

Showing no concern over title/documents. If there’s no interest in discussing titling the vessel or in verifying the registration information or hull identification number, the person has no real interest in the transaction.

CYC Starting Area
Sailboats — A fun way to enjoy the Bay.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Warning signs for boat sellers

No reference to what is being sold. Scammers create a generic email to send to thousands of people, so they tend to use general language that could apply to anything such as “item,” “merchandise,” or “what you are selling.”

Poor grammar, spelling, punctuation, and language. Internet scams usually originate from outside the country. A couple of errors shouldn’t worry you because no one is perfect, but a dozen is a red flag.

Changing names and locations in emails. It can be difficult to keep all the details straight when scammers are working multiple scams. If the person doesn’t remember who or where he is supposed to be, or exactly what he’s selling, you are being scammed.

No interest in seeing the boat or haggling over the price. Whether buying or selling, scammers are amazingly unconcerned about the price of the boat. Who wouldn’t negotiate? And if buying, they’ll often say they accept the boat “as-is,” won’t mention a survey or inspection, and won’t hold you responsible for its condition. Anyone willing to buy a boat sight unseen after a few emails should be regarded with suspicion — and if they’re also not concerned about price, it’s a good bet you’re being scammed.

This is why it’s a good idea to use a reputable broker. If you’re in the market to sell or buy a boat, a good option is to use one of the many experienced and qualified brokers listed in the pages of Latitude 38 — it’s their profession.

Sparkling Day
Beautiful to look at a delight to own, but always be mindful of the old saying, “Buyer beware.”
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Also keep an eye on our Classy Classifieds — a great place to list or find your boat.

Pumpkins Full Moons and Your Favorite Magazine
October has arrived, and it's an exciting month! Why? The 520th edition of 'Latitude 38' magazine is on the streets, or on its way to your letter box.