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October 28, 2020

Mexico Check-In: Cabo or Ensenada?

One of the decisions facing the 70 boats that have signed up for the 2020 Nada Ha-Ha is where to clear into Mexico. Traditionally, past Baja Ha-Ha participants have cleared in en masse after sailing all the way from San Diego to Cabo. However, as the Grand Poobah wrote in September when deciding to cancel the Baja Ha-Ha, “There were going to be logistical hurdles, too. Cabo officials are apparently now requiring health clearances, which could be very time-consuming for a group. In addition, ship’s agent Victor Berreda, our good friend who normally checks in about half the fleet, advises us that he would not be willing to do that this year for a typically large Ha-Ha fleet.”

The election of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was the impetus for some of the changes, while the pandemic has created additional changes in check-in procedures. Fito Espinoza of Marina Coral and several other Mexican harbormasters have suggested cruisers take care of all their Mexican customs and immigration paperwork in Ensenada, rather than waiting until Cabo. The customs process is far simpler in Ensenada, with all the required documentation handled in one building, and if there’s a problem, you’re not already more than 750 miles from home!

Playa El Coyote, Sea of Cortes
Wherever you clear in, Mexico is ready to offer a warm welcome.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Latitude 38 Archives

The weather appears to be moderating, and all of Mexico is ready to welcome the cruising class of 2020. The first wave of cruisers sailing south with the Nada Ha-Ha is sure to be followed by many more who are extending their cruising season in Southern California as they get ready to continue southward in November and December. For now, you can check the list of those who are ready to depart this coming Monday, November 2, on the Nada Ha-Ha website. The November issue of Latitude 38, coming out on Friday, includes profiles of a few of these early Nada Ha-Ha adventurers. We’ll share more stories of Nada Ha-Ha participants in upcoming ‘Lectronic Latitude newsletters and in Changes in Latitudes.

If you’re in San Diego now, our friends at the Panama Posse have a seminar scheduled tomorrow:

Thursday Oct  29, 2020, 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. at Ullman Sails Harbor Island San Diego, 2040 Harbor Island Drive, 32° 43.50′ N 117° 12.38′ W. Masks will be provided. Physical outdoor gathering. Attendance space is limited and subject to local ordinance. MUST RSVP via email [email protected].

Women’s Sailing Seminar Goes Virtual

Sharing Her Power: Linda Newland Continues Her Mentorship

When it comes to teaching sailing and seamanship, Linda Newland doesn’t shy away from delivering the “cockroaches and all” version of what it takes to be an accomplished skipper.

As the holder of the ‘Fastest Woman Single-handed Transpac (San Francisco to Japan)’ record and skipper of an all-female 1997 Transpac team, Linda has decades of experience, including some of the toughest racing that one could dream of — as well as some lighter moments. In September, she taught and entertained more than 60 women during a storytelling session in the lead-up to the 28th Annual IYC Northern California Annual Women’s Sailing Seminar, delivered via Zoom. And while there were serious lessons around California weather patterns and heavy-weather sailing, there were some laughs to be had around how two young women entertained themselves during a 17-day, doublehanded delivery of an Olson 30 from Honolulu to San Francisco.

Linda in her underwear on the bow
Linda gears up to change a headsail on the Olson 30.
© 2020 Courtesy Linda Newland

Linda has a practical side — as seen in the photo above. Never mind expensive racing gear — Linda’s choice of offshore clothing for the first few days of sailing from Hawaii was… minimal, at best. “So here I am on the foredeck getting ready to change a headsail. I’ve put the shower cap on to keep my hair dry, so it wouldn’t get full of salt. And it was easier not to wear very many clothes because I was just going to get wet. And it was too hot to wear foul weather gear.”

Two women on a red Olson 30, skyscrapers in the background
Linda and Karin prepare to depart Ala Wai Harbor bound for San Francisco.
© 2020 Courtesy Linda Newland

So, you would think that not much would rattle a tough, practical woman like Linda. But no. “The one thing I can’t tolerate is cockroaches,” she said, talking about one hitchhiker that flew on board in Honolulu. “Karin Selbach [Linda’s co-skipper] had a great sense of humor. This was her idea: Let’s give him a Viking funeral. So Flemish. And with a little yellow lid that came off of a — I think it was a dried mustard can — we gave him a Viking funeral with a match and no more Mr. Cockroach.”

setting a match to a cockroach
A miniature Viking funeral.
© 2020 Courtesy Linda Newland

Thankfully, crewmates since then have not only survived Pacific crossings, but arrived with more positive experiences!

To experience Linda’s inspiring and, yes, very funny story in full visit the Island Yacht Club website.

Learn from Linda at the Women’s Sailing Seminar on November 13-15

Linda Newland will be joining us once more to “Capture the Power!” at Island Yacht Club’s 28th Annual Northern California Women’s Sailing Seminar. Linda and other teachers at WSS have joined forces to promote women’s sailing and education, and to provide a sense of community in the midst of social distancing.

Women’s Sailing Seminar weekend (November 13-15, 2020) will feature virtual classes and other interactive events, delivered via Zoom and tailored to suit every level of sailing experience.

The seminar is an all-volunteer effort — for women, by women — taught by expert instructors, including: Captain Mary Swift-Swan of Afterguard Sailing Academy, Captain Tanja Koster of teach2sail and Nathalie Criou, renowned Race to Alaska skipper. The keynote speaker on Sunday morning will be Behan Gifford, a sailing celebrity, coach and author.

The seminar will kick off on Friday evening with a panel of ‘Racer Chicks’. Saturday’s topics will include Sailing Terminology, Essential Knots and Line Handling, Seamanship and Racing Skills. Sunday offers panels on Dressing for Success, From Crew to Captain and International Liveaboards in Changing Times.

In addition, WSS weekend will feature yoga, watercolor painting and a silent auction for items including on-the-water sailing instruction and experiences. Tickets are now on sale for $80. The price will increase to $100 after November 1. For more information and to register, visit

When You Can’t Find Your Tide Book

I can never seem to find my tide book when I need it. It makes a difference, because if the tide is more than halfway up I can take a shortcut. Less than half tide and I have to stay in the channel. Yes, I know “there’s an app for that,” but I like to leave my cellphone home when I go sailing.

Actually, I can make a good rough guess by the angle of the gangway, and by looking at the dryness or dampness of the rocks I can usually tell if the tide is going up or down. But it’s a crude estimate — I’ve considered making marks on the dock, so the position of the bottom of the gangway would show the tide height. Although, after I worked out the geometry, I concluded that a simple arrow on a vertical pole attached to the floating dock, pointing to a ruler nailed to a fixed piling, would be easier to build and much more precise.

Max Ebb tide gauge
Tide gauge: Version 1.
© 2020

The first task was to decide which piling to use. That was easy: the one near my boat that I walk past every time I go sailing. The second task was to figure out how to attach the post to the dock. The marina staff frowns on berthers drilling holes in their docks, but I found a naturally occurring hole in a steel plate that was part of a piling ring. It was just the right size for a half-inch by six-inch bolt. With a little duct tape, the five-foot-long aluminum tube was a snug press fit around the hex nuts.

Then I needed an arrow. That was also easy: a triangle cut from the bright-red plastic lid of an old office storage bin. And for the tape measure, after some digging, I unearthed an “engineer’s” tape marked in feet and tenths, not feet and inches. Just like the numbers in the tide book.

Max Ebb Tide gauge
An alternate version of a dockside tide gauge.
© 2020 Max Ebb

Then it was time to calibrate. I know that highs and lows occur at different times at different points in the Bay. I would apply the time and height corrections from the tide book, compare my gauge with the tide book prediction, and set my arrow to match. The only annoying part was having to explain to every sailor who happened to walk by why I was putting an arrow on a stick pointing to a piling.

Keep reading at to learn if Max Ebb’s plan worked as hoped.

November Yacht Racing Preview

We have some good news for yacht racers: Yes, there will be midwinters this year. We’ll get to those in a moment, but, first…

Fall Regattas

Richmond Yacht Club is still accepting registrations for this Sunday’s Amazing Grace Cheney Cup. The driver must be female, but all sailors are welcome. It will be a pursuit race this year, with on-the-water awards and no official post-race get-together at RYC.

Boats at Angel Island's Point Blunt
The 2019 Grace Cheney fleet temporarily stalled out in flood current at Point Blunt before the westerly filled in for them.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The Butler Cup, at Long Beach YC, will kick off the 2021 California Dreamin’ match-race series on November 7-8.

Cabrillo Bay YC’s Fall One Design Regatta will sail in the waters off San Pedro on November 14-15.

On November 15, USC and UCLA will match race in Solings, hosted by LBYC. Normally, this same week, Cal and Stanford would duke it out courtesy of St. Francis YC. Unfortunately, the Big Sail has been canceled.

Don’t Let the Turkeys Hear This

Lake Washington Sailing Club’s Turkey Shoot Regatta is on for November 7, on Lake Washington in West Sacramento. Register by November 7. This event is open to all dinghy classes. Fleets with three or more boats get their own division. All others become part of the Open Fleet. Prizes have traditionally been actual turkeys.

Tiburon YC harmed no turkeys in bringing you the Wild Turkey Pursuit Race on Black Friday, November 27. The prizes are of the liquid variety.

Inverness YC will host their last racing of the year, the Drumstick Regatta, on November 29, with sailing on Tomales Bay.


A winter season without midwinter yacht racing? That would indeed be scary.

Sausalito YC will resume their racing program with the Chili Midwinter Series, starting on November 1 and sailed on the first Sunday of the month through March. The RegattaPRO Winter One-Design Invitational will follow on November 14 and second Saturdays through February.

Monterey Peninsula YC is offering Perry Cup to Mercurys on the first Saturday of the months of November-February. The initial weekend is usually a two-day event, but not this year.

Encinal YC will run their Jack Frost Midwinters on first Saturdays through March starting on November 7.

Sequoia YC will kick off their Winter Series on November 7. Their Redwood Cup pursuit race series will start on November 21.

San Diego YC will hold their Hot Rum Series on November 7 and 21 and December 5.

Berkeley YC is back in business with separate Midwinter Series on second Saturdays and Sundays starting on November 14-15. Their more casual, beer-can-style Chowder Series occupies every Sunday through March except Midwinters Sundays.

Fleet start at the XOC buoy
A start at XOC in the 2019-2020 Berkeley Midwinters.
© 2020 Ken Brown

Despite the loss of their clubhouse, Island YC carries on with Estuary racing in the Island Days series on second Sundays starting on November 15.

Santa Cruz YC’s Midwinter Series will begin on November 21 and continue on third Saturdays through March.

Among the series we look forward to each year at this time is Golden Gate YC’s Seaweed Soup Regatta. That series will not start in November this year. However, fear not, it’s just been pushed back a month. It’ll start in December and run through April, on the first Saturday of each month. Other Midwinter series will also begin in December. We’ll have details on those in a post next month.

And That’s Just for Starters

As always, check the Calendar pages in Latitude 38 for many more regattas. The November issue will come out this Friday. We’ll update the online version of Calendar on Friday as well. Did we miss mentioning your favorite? Feel free to add it in the Comments section below. Be sure to include contact info and/or a link.

Musical Sailor Wins T-shirt
Christopher picked up his Golden Ticket at the Coyote Point Marina office while preparing to untie the docklines for a weekend of sailing.
The Defender Is Outraged
Anyone hoping to watch America's Cup action close to shore is out of luck right now. The two fan-friendly courses were the ones that got the boot.