November is here (almost) — the last full month of fall, which means winter is not far behind. But first we celebrate Thanksgiving, one of our favorite holidays of the year — an entire day over which we can do anything we want. A perfect day to stay home and roast turkeys with family and friends, and if you’re lucky, go sailing as well! This is also election month, which this year is proving to be a pretty crazy time, but hey, why not? it’s 2020. Don’t worry, though, we’ve got your backs. We’ve put together a fun- and fact-filled issue of Latitude 38 magazine to see you through the next 30 (+ 1) days. Here’s a preview . . .
The Perfect Cruising Ground — A Matter of Perspective
A flight of pelicans skims the sun-sparkled water just a dozen feet from where we lie at anchor. A flock of black swans waddle across the exposed mud flats a hundred yards to leeward. No sight or sound of traffic or city life; no moorings, no other boats, nothing but us and the birds.
Nada Ha-Ha — Profiles in Courage
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Despite the pandemic, whales, birds and sailors are all still planning to migrate south this fall. With a bit of uncertainty in the air and without the Baja Ha-Ha, the numbers will certainly be reduced — at least at first. The initial wave of boats to head south will be members of the very loosely organized Nada Ha-Ha, a cruise-in collection of boats assembled by multi-Baja Ha-Ha vet Patsy Verhoeven of the Gulfstar 50 Talion.
Delta Doo Dah Done — The Bay Bash
The Delta Doo Dah Dozen, a DIY cruising rally taking place over the course of the late spring and summer season, proved wildly popular in times of pandemic. But what comes next? You’ve got your boat upriver and downwind; now you’ve got to get downriver and upwind. If you can wait for the perfect weather window, and maybe make a couple of overnight stops along the way, so much the better.
And of course you get all our regular pages full of great stories:
- Letters: One Tough Buggah; One Interesting Guy; The Offspring of My Boat
- Max Ebb: ‘Goodbye Columbus’
- Doublehanded Farallones
- Sightings: ‘Nicole Breault Switches Gears’; ‘Jamotte Heads Home’; and other stories
- World of Chartering: ‘Sailing Turkey’s Turquoise Coast’
- Racing Sheet; Loose Lips, in which we announce October’s Caption Contest(!) winner; and the sailboat owners’ and buyers’ bible, Classy Classifieds
Like fine grains of sand, the Islander 36 Nationals, held on October 3, slipped through our fingers as we were collecting racing tidbits for the November issue. Here’s the scoop from Richard Van Mell:
With COVID-19 keeping Golden Gate Yacht Club closed to group events, our measurer, Kit Wiegman (Cassiopeia), came up with the idea of running our own race over a simple fixed-mark course with doublehanded crews, which meet the COVID guidelines. And, picking up on our earlier Rally concept to get Islanders on the water, we offered a Rally option.
The wind and sailing gods must have approved, because we went from an unhealthy air situation on the Bay on Friday to a glorious 10- to 12-knot westerly with crisp blue skies and sparkling water. Nine Islanders signed up, and seven made it to the starting line. Zingara had a family medical situation. Our hero, Kit, had his fuel pump fail on the way to the starting line and barely limped back to his slip.
As planned, Rick and Sandy drove to Golden Gate YC, parked so the back of the car was just on the starting line between the GGYC flagpole and the X buoy, and set up shop as Race Committee, complete with a 6-ft PVC pole with an old blue-and-white commodore’s flag looking like an RC flag.
All the racers checked in on VHF channel 72. The starting signals went off as scheduled. Funny thing, another fleet somewhere on the Bay was doing the same starting sequence. Twice, also on channel 72, a female voice counted down the times to the warning and prep guns. But everyone got the message, and we had a clean start with seven glorious Islander 36s stretched along the starting line.
Windwalker got a clean start at the weather end of the line. We had some good picture-taking opportunities as the fleet short-tacked to the A mark in front of St. Francis YC. There had to be some glorious 6- and 7-knot boatspeeds on the reach to Harding Rock Buoy, and maybe greater SOG with a 2-knot flood to sweep them along. After rounding to starboard, the tactical challenge was how to get past the leeward side of Alcatraz Island without being blanketed by a big wind shadow on the way to the Blossom Rock mark. Sailing low and away from Alcatraz gets you more wind, but also increases the distance. The rhumb line almost touches the island.
And then there was the great dead-upwind beat from Blossom Rock to the finish. The wind gods were most generous. The wind held steady at about 10-12 knots. A normal San Francisco Bay October day would see north of 15 or 20 knots. Bill Hackel’s Highlighter emerged the winner for the third year in a row, followed by Tom Schoenhair’s Windwalker and Dan Knox’s Luna Sea. Their finish times and the rest of the fleet times are here.
There are a lot of Bay Area sailors who know every nook and cranny of the Bay. On the other hand, there are places that seem to hide in the midst of this seven-million-strong urban area. Pictured below is a small, lesser-known marina tucked into the Bay Area hills. Take a guess, or tell us what you know in our comments section below. We’ll fill you in on anything we might be able to add on Monday.
Jim Hancock, president and founder of San Francisco Sailing Science Center, has been busy thinking about Halloween. And as it’s 2020, anything might happen on this night — more so than usual. To help you prepare, here’s a story Jim wrote about some spooky phenomena that put have fear into the hearts of sailors.
With Halloween just off our bow, it is time to apprise you of ghost ships, those vessels that sail on the sea, absent of living crew: portents of doom. The most famous of these, the Flying Dutchman, a stout man-of-war that sank with all hands, is said to appear during storms, all sails and hull aglow.
Of course, we know these are just sailors’ stories, and merely the making of the mariner’s mind. The fatigue and monotony of long stints at sea are known to cause tricks of the temporal lobes. Apparitions in fog, dim light, and clouds make it easy to ‘see’ the source of these visions.
The singing of sirens is something again. Auditory pareidolia is the term science gives to voices or music that come through the rush, like that from the waves that wash down the hull. I have heard this myself on countless occasions, and in a state of half sleep have thought to command that we come about at once to save the lost soul, though the voice is no more than a dream.
So too, is the wind in the rigging as it conjures our fear. At 25 knots there appears an effect that may be given to ghosts, but is just the voice of vibrations as vortices shed from our lines. A ‘sound’ explanation for sure, and notably not paranormal, but something that might be the basis for an exhibit on the science of sailing. So you see, when it’s all said and done, there really are no ghosts at sea.