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November 23, 2020

2020: The Year I Learned to Singlehand my Folkboat

For San Francisco sailor Chris Larsson, 2020 is not all bad news, as the COVID restrictions provided the momentum for Chris to learn to singlehand his Folkboat.

2020 has been a bad year. Or, as one of one of my daughter’s favorite children’s books would say, a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” year. But as we round the corner into Thanksgiving, it is important to remember that despite the horrors we may have seen on TV, or even (perish the thought) in person, we sailors are a lucky bunch. While the news of the pandemic broke and many struggled with cabin fever and agonized over even finding a safe place to go for a walk, we were able to hop onto our boats and relish the calm safety of being not six feet, but six miles away from the danger. So 2020 was a very bad year indeed, but I’m trying to be thankful, and, in addition to my lovely family, one thing I’m thankful for is that 2020 is the year I learned to singlehand my boat.

Singlehanding folkboat on the Bay
Chris Larsson aboard his Folkboat #120 Calypso.
© 2020 James Vernon

About three years ago, a friend turned me on to the idea of the modest Folkboat. It’s been one of the most common and well-loved small cruisers since it was first built in 1942, with potentially over 4,000 examples still on the water. It is, in fact, one of the oldest one-design boats still raced on San Francisco Bay, having held a championship since 1958. I quickly fell in love with the classic lines and distinctive lapstrake look of the hull.

Folkboats heeling on the Bay
Folkboaters like to say they have “more fun,” and from the looks of this photo, it’s not an unreasonable brag.
© 2020 San Francisco Bay Folkboat Association

After some research, I found a wonderful example, originally built locally by the legendary Svendsen’s Boat Works, and was on my way. The notoriously stiff conditions of the Bay gave me some early thrills, but with help from a very enthusiastic and engaged racing association and a generously ballasted hull, I soon found that the 25-ft craft could handle conditions normally reserved for much larger boats. It wasn’t long before I was comfortable enough to sail into and out of the slip and even try my hand in the races.

I had been looking forward to the 2020 racing season with anticipation, but as spring rolled into summer, it became clear that we would be facing an extended pandemic. In fact, the ordinary summer championship, typically with crew of three per boat, was not allowed under county guidelines. However, the Folkboaters were determined to make the most of it and decided to organize a series of shorthanded races throughout the summer. The rules of racing were simple: You must sail singlehanded or with members of your household; first across the line wins; and no one is really keeping score. I raced singlehanded and learned the hard way that you’d best set the jib correctly the first time, because when you’re alone, there’s no getting back to the winch until the next tack.

Folkboats racing
Chris, second from left, can thank 2020 for his newfound singlehanding skills.
© 2020 Richard Keldsen

And each Saturday when the races were over, before returning to the confines of our homes, most of us would take one last lap up to the iconic Golden Gate. The long downwind leg home provided an opportunity to pull our boats in close — not too close — but close enough to toss a drink from one cockpit to the next, and talk about the times. It certainly is true what they say: “Folkboats have more fun!”

Folkboaters have a reputation for being a welcoming bunch. If you’re interested in learning more about Folkboats or meeting up with the crews, check out their website here, or take a look at the SF Bay Folkboat Association’s Facebook page.

Sailing Turkey’s Turquoise Coast

In our November magazine we featured a story from Katie Burgess about the challenges of chartering during COVID-19 — “I truly believe that everything happens for a reason …” With many international borders closed, Turkey was where Katie and her family ended up for their three-week charter.

I will start this off by admitting that this charter was one of the most challenging to book. I booked three completely different trips in the end; two were canceled, and ultimately we landed in the beautiful country of Turkey — literally the only country we were allowed to enter as US citizens without a medical certificate or requiring a COVID-19 test. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and want to share our newfound love for Turkey with other sailors wishing to charter and go sailing. Feeling the wind in our sails, and being aboard, was exactly what we all needed. In the end, it doesn’t matter where we are, just that we’re together as a family on a sailboat.

The Burgess family
It’s all about the ‘who,’ not the ‘where.’ Katie, her husband Lyall and their two daughters are happy to sail almost anywhere, as long as they’re together.
© 2020 Katie Burgess

The Sunday before we were set to fly to Greece, we found out that we were banned from entering the EU. Luckily Dream Yacht Charter (DYC), with whom we own a Dufour 382, also has a base in Turkey. By some miracle, we were able to change our flights to Istanbul and secure an open yacht for the same three weeks in Turkey. Four days later we started our three-day, six-flight journey from Hilo, Hawaii, to the base in Göcek. We had little time to research the area, but were intrigued after our brief investigation of the area’s great sailing, beautiful beaches, ancient ruins and history, and protected anchorages. After a long journey, we arrived in Istanbul and took a domestic flight about an hour and a half south to Dalaman Airport. A short taxi ride away, we finally arrived at D-Marin Marina in Göcek. It was about 5 p.m., the breeze felt amazing, and we proceeded to unpack and settle into our new home, a 2019 Jeanneau SO 389.

Morning on the Turquoise Coast
Butterfly Valley turned on its best for the family’s arrival.
© 2020 Katie Burgess

We decided to take it easy the next day and stay in the marina for another night so we could properly provision at the nearby grocery stores and simply relax after days of travel. Masks are required in Turkey, so we had to wear them in our airline transits as well as in the streets, and in all shops. Once on the boat, or in the more remote anchorages, they were not necessary or required. D-Marin is seriously one of the cleanest and most accommodating marinas we have been to. I would have swum off the dock, the water was so clean! All of Turkey, for that matter, in the ocean and along the beaches. I was thoroughly impressed. Besides its cute little promenade and town, there is an exclusive club at D-Marin that has a perfect white sand beach, loungers, and a restaurant on the water. It felt super-posh and was a nice treat after all our travel.

Please continue reading at Latitude 38.

Checking into Mexico in Cabo San Lucas

A lot of sailors are under the impression that checking into Mexico in Cabo San Lucas is impossible or difficult. There are a few changes in the procedure for checking in there. It is still easy and inexpensive; there are just a few more hoops to jump through.

First you must obtain a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) before arriving in Cabo. You can easily do this online; see the video provided by Neil Schroyer of Marina de La Paz at
Once this is completed, you should receive your TIP by email within three days. If you do not, there is a problem and you will need to get the TIP in person.

Before arriving in Cabo San Lucas, all boats must send an email to Customs ([email protected]) and an email to the Health Department ([email protected]) to advise them you are departing the USA and that your first port of call in Mexico will be Cabo San Lucas. This should be sent from San Diego, as most cell towers on the way down the coast don’t have data capabilities.

Once you arrive in Cabo, the process is as follows:

1. Go to the Minister of Health, Ivan Nuñes. He speaks very good English. His office is next to the Centro de Salud de Cabo San Lucas, a small hospital located on Calle 12 de Octubre between Ocampo and Zaragoza. Bring a signed letter (he prefers typed) indicating the vessel name, captain’s name, number of crew, and date and time of arrival in Cabo, and containing a statement that all people on board are free of COVID and any other virus.

2. Then go to Ramón (he speaks English) at the Immigration Office on Lázaro Cárdenas. He is in the small downstairs office, open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring the paper from the Minister of Health, your boat documentation or registration, and passports for you and your crew. He will give you a blank crew list and forms to fill out. Then he will charge your credit card 575 pesos (about $28 US) for each person. He will give you copies of the crew list, tourist visas for each person, and receipts for the credit card charges.

3. Next, go to the Port Captain’s office on Calle 16 de Septiembre between Matamoros and Abasolo with all your papers, and pay the fee for your boat. The office is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Saturday and Sunday.

4. You should go to API (the Port Authority over by Señor Frog’s) and pay a daily harbor fee. Or wait for them to come to your boat in the anchorage. If you are in the marina, the marina pays the API fee for you.
The Department of Agriculture may or may not visit your boat and take some vegetables. Customs may visit you, and they may want to see your TIP and check your HIN.

All in all, it’s an easy process.

Hugo Boss Bleeds Miles in Vendée Globe

After more than 15 days at sea, this ninth edition of the Vendée Globe race has been further shaped by attrition. Englishman Alex Thomson continues to bleed miles and positions while effecting repairs to his stricken IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss. Nearly hove-to in the South Atlantic, the pre-race favorite and former race leader is currently making critical structural repairs to the bow of his boat after discovering damage while making routine checks a few days ago. A longitudinal stringer is significantly damaged and cracked in multiple places. Thomson is in contact with his shore crew and engineers back home to come up with a plan to fix the boat. He’s outwardly confident and optimistic that he’ll be able to return to the race at full speed.

Alex Thomson at the mast
Alex Thomson, sailing Hugo Boss, was first across the equator on November 18.
© 2020 Alex Thomson Racing

Presently however, the famous black boat has been left behind by the two leaders and engulfed by the second pack in hot pursuit. Thomson is currently in fifth place, but soon to be in tenth place. His misfortune has again moved veteran skipper Jean Le Cam up the leaderboard. Among the most experienced IMOCA and Vendée Globe skippers in the fleet, Le Cam has been sailing a sensational race in his 2007 vintage non-foiling boat. Currently sailing in third place after leading much of the race early, Le Cam is making a valiant effort to hold off Kevin Escoffier on PRB.

At the front of the fleet, Charlie Dalin on Apivia and Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut are beginning to put a gap between themselves and the remainder of the lead pack as the fleet works through a tricky bit of navigation and water in the South Atlantic. Nearing the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope, the leaders are negotiating a narrow corridor of tailwinds that will take them to a complex region of light winds while they await the arrival of their first Southern Ocean low-pressure system. Should Alex Thomson manage to fix his boat in good time, he may well be able to stay in touch with the lead pack entering the Southern Ocean.

Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut
Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut led the fleet over the weekend. At this writing on Monday morning, Apivia had taken the lead, with LinkedOut 28 miles back.
© 2020 Jean-Louis Carli / Alea

Samantha Davies on Initiatives Coeur remains the top female skipper. She currently sails in 10th place — the last boat in the lead pack — some 450 miles behind the leaders. At the back of the pack, fellow pre-race favorite Jérémie Beyou on Charal has re-entered the race after sailing back to the starting line in Les Sables-d’Olonne to fix a series of issues with his steering and rigging. He is currently in 32nd place (or 32nd still running), and is sailing just northeast of the Cape Verde Islands. Incredibly, just one boat has officially retired from the race. Nicolas Troussel’s new-generation Juan K foiler CORUM L’Epargne dismasted while sailing well inside the top 10.

Nico Troussel
Troussel became the first racer to officially abandon the 2020 Vendée Globe. He dismasted on the morning of Monday, November 16, while fast-reaching in the trade winds 270 miles northwest of the Cape Verde Islands. He had been sailing at up to 22 knots under a single-reefed main and fractional code zero. The double winner of La Solitaire du Figaro headed toward Cape Verde Islands at around 3 knots. He reached the islands on Thursday.
© 2020 Eloi Stichelbaut / polaRYSE / Corum l'Epargne
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