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January 25, 2021

USCG Breaks Ground for New Search and Rescue Facility in Vallejo

The United States Coast Guard held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new search and rescue facility at the Vallejo Municipal Marina last Friday. Coast Guard Station Vallejo’s new $14 million facility will be located approximately 3.5 miles northwest of its temporary location at the California Maritime Academy. The 13,200-sq-ft facility will include a new boat bay for small-boat maintenance, berthing for 14 watchstanders, a galley, command center, training room and fitness room.

USCG breaking ground
Who are those masked people?
© 2021 Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Giles

“When it comes to search and rescue in the Bay Area, every second counts,” said Chief Petty Officer Joshua Hollyfield, Station Vallejo’s officer-in-charge. “The new station, which has been years in the making, will allow the crew to be co-located with our small boats, greatly improving our response time to continue to protect the lives of mariners in Vallejo and the greater Bay Area.”

Coast Guard Sector San Francisco commander Capt. Marie Byrd spoke at the event to celebrate the history and future of Station Vallejo.

“This has been an incredible group effort between Civil Engineering Unit Oakland, Facilities Design and Construction Center, the Vallejo City Council, Electronics Support Detachment Alameda, the 11th Coast Guard District, Sector San Francisco, Station Vallejo and the California Maritime Academy working together to ensure a smooth transition to Station Vallejo’s new home,” said Byrd. “I am looking forward to the opening of this incredible new facility, and the positive impact it will have for the Vallejo community and beyond.”

Breaking Ground speech
Coast Guard Sector San Francisco commander Capt. Marie Byrd takes the podium during the Coast Guard Station Vallejo groundbreaking ceremony on January 22, 2021.
© 2021 Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Giles

Station Vallejo crewmembers have been housed in temporary facilities since 1996 and have had to relocate twice due to funding constraints and obstacles. The station was first commissioned as Station Carquinez in 1977 and located at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. After the naval yard was shut down, the station relocated to the California Maritime Academy. In September 2001, the station moved to the Vallejo Municipal Marina, and in 2018 returned to California Maritime Academy awaiting completion of the new station.

The ceremony was attended by representatives from Civil Engineering Unit Oakland, Facilities Design and Construction Center, California Maritime Academy, Herman Construction Group and crew from Coast Guard Station Vallejo.
© 2021 Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Giles

In 2020, Station Vallejo responded to 80 search and rescue cases, resulting in 76 lives saved or mariners assisted. The unit consists of 27 personnel and two 29-ft response boats-small, and is responsible for search and rescue and law enforcement missions. The unit’s area of responsibility extends from San Pablo Bay to Suisun Bay, as far east as Simmons Point, north of West Pittsburg.

Mexico’s Tehuantepec Isthmus Rail Corridor: A Chance to Ship Your Boat Across Mexico?

Reader Denis Diekhoff wrote from Minneapolis to ask if we knew anything about shipping a boat from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific via train. The question reminded us of a quote from George Carlin: “Why is it that when you transport something by car, it’s called a shipment, but when you transport something by ship, it’s called cargo?”

We do remember hearing of this in the past, so we Googled the question to see what came up. Sure enough, there’s an active project underway to improve transportation by both rail and highway between the Pacific port of Salina Cruz in Oaxaca and the Gulf port of Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz. According to Mexico shipping agents it’s a pipe dream. When complete, could it be a reasonable alternative to the Panama Canal for getting boats between the oceans? Does anyone remember boats being shipped across the isthmus in the past?

The article points out that there is money allocated and work is underway to modernize the Coatzacoalcos and Salina Cruz ports, and the road in between. But like the overly ambitious ‘nautical staircase’ we reported on in the past, we think that while the project could certainly bring some benefit to people and businesses along that corridor and in the ports, it’s unlikely to become a major alternative thoroughfare to the Panama Canal. Conceivably, for easily trucked smaller boats whose destination is the US Gulf Coast or Florida, it could be an interesting idea since it saves about 1200 miles of sailing south and then back north in the Atlantic, but if you’re headed to the West Indies it doesn’t make sense.

Mexico's Tehuantepec isthmus rail corridor
It would be about 180 miles to travel between oceans by rail or truck.
© 2021 Google Maps

Since boats are shipped with some regularity between Maine and San Diego, the 180-mile jaunt across Mexico sounds like a snap. If you know any more, let us know in the comments below, or email us at [email protected].

It’s Herring Festival Time at Cass Gidley Marina, Sausalito

It’s herring season! And it’s not only the seals that are excited. We’re excited because it also means it’s time for Sausalito’s annual Herring Festival. This year’s event will again be hosted by Sausalito Community Boating Center (SCBC) at Cass Gidley Marina. “Yes, we are the fun-loving folks who present the Annual SCBC Sausalito Herring Celebration fundraiser every January. This is a lively event on the Sausalito waterfront to celebrate the fishing and maritime history of Sausalito, to promote the SCBC agenda of environmental stewardship and education, and to raise funds for SCBC!”

Skip the lines and enjoy the Herring Festival from the comfort of your own kitchen, or galley.
© 2021 SCBC at Cass Gidley Marina

In keeping with the times, the 2021 festival is a mix of online and in-person events. Hosted by CBS News Bay Area’s Jan Wahl, the festival will feature executive chefs from Sausalito restaurants FISH, Osteria Divino, and Angelino’s, along with Chef David Robert Johnson of Davey Jones Deli and Hanson of Sonoma Distillery, who will entertain and engage festivalgoers with cooking demonstrations, mixology and great storytelling. There will also be live sea chantey music by The Fishwives.

The Fishwives
Sea chanteys are all the rage right now, and The Fishwives will ensure you get your share of salty seagoing tunes.
© 2021 SCBC at Cass Gidley Marina

The Herring Festival is a part of SCBC’s annual fundraising program. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit has a mission to “preserve a gathering place on Sausalito’s waterfront to engage and educate the public about our rich maritime history and small craft heritage through affordable direct experience. It is our vision that those we serve will leave educated and inspired!”

Currently SCBC is working with the team at Spaulding Marine Center, which is building a number of Pelican sailboats. The Pelican is a small wooden sailing dinghy synonymous with the Bay Area’s maritime traditions, and is well suited to providing sailing experiences and education for Bay Area youth.

Herring Festival
How many ways can you prepare herring? Tune in on Wednesday to find out.
© 2021 SCBC at Cass Gidley Marina

The Herring Festival kicks off on Wednesday, January 27, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25.00 and include a raffle ticket. You can also upgrade your ticket to include, among other things, a Herring Fest paddling excursion with Seatrek, dinner for two delivered to your door for the event, and a two-hour sail aboard a local charter yacht.

Tickets, upgrades and more details are available at

“The herring fishery is the only commercial fishery inside the Golden Gate Bridge, and Richardson Bay is one of the last places that herring spawn in California. Herring are critical to the ecology of Richardson Bay Sanctuary, and beyond, as an essential prey item for marine birds, whales, seals and larger fish such as salmon. Eel grass beds in Richardson Bay act as a nursery to these baby fish. Come learn all about it, and truly ‘eat local’ by enjoying tasty dishes made with this shiny fish from right off our shore — served up by some of your favorite local chefs.”

Britannia Rules as Prada Cup Selection Series Ends

A Penultimate Date with Destiny

Never mind the bollocks, here come the British! INEOS Team UK’s lackluster performance a few weeks ago has faded into memory. It was all on the line for at least one more time as they faced off against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli for a final weekend shootout. Winning the Prada Cup Selection Series and a next-round bye, the Brits did not disappoint when the penultimate race finally took place after multiple delays. An indecisive breeze kept shifting back and forth across the racecourse before settling in at 18-22 knots.

bows close together
In an amazing race, the best in the event so far, the resurgent INEOS Team UK captured the critical bye to advance to the Prada Cup Finals.
© 2021 Gilles Martin-Raget

To compound matters, the INEOS team was forced to play a newly instituted yellow delay card, which allows them one postponement of 15 minutes. All this before the start. They had to repair the cunningham, a key gearing component that allows them to power up the mainsail. This left them massively compromised, especially upwind, and they were forced to lock it in place and sail wounded for the entire race.

working on the cunningham
Prior to the start INEOS Team UK tried to repair the cunningham ram to their mainsail in order to race with all the gears necessary for maximum speed performance.
© 2021 Gilles Martin-Raget

“Shifty conditions are a wounded boat’s best friend,” noted NBC race commentator and president of North Sails Ken Read.

When the race did start, it turned out to be the most exciting one to date, with an intense pre-start. The breeze was up and still very shifty. Both radical monohulls were up and foiling from the get-go, as they headed out toward the lefthand side of the course.

Luna Rossa, sporting a brand-new set of wings, came out of the first of two bad tacks during the race, which gave INEOS the first gate by a mere 2 seconds. The pair then traded the lead nine times in a tightly fought race. The Italians took advantage of INEOS’s lack of throttle to pull ahead by 19 seconds at the halfway mark.

But there was plenty of action left in this match as they headed for the downwind finish, drag-racing to each side, pushing the boundary on opposite ends and then jibing back for a dramatic final encounter with INEOS on port attempting to lay the finish. Luna Rossa could not, as they tried to get the Brits on a port-starboard.

Jimmy Spithill on Luna Rossa called for a protest. They claimed they had to avoid the give-way boat. The umpires did not agree. INEOS crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead in a race that saw them top out at more than 50.29 knots on the racecourse. The Brits wrapped up the series undefeated at 5-0.

Luna Rossa and Britannia racing
In a race with shifty winds INEOS Team UK matches up with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and wins by a mere 33 seconds.
© 2021 CoR 36 / Studio Borlenghi

As Britannia crossed the finish line, the party was on. The crew could not contain their enthusiasm, hooting and hollering until Ben Ainslie quickly put an end to the shenanigans, snapping, “All right; let’s keep it calm, boys.”

British team celebration
INEOS Team UK’s principal owner James Radcliffe joins a jubilant celebration on Britannia as the team captures victory at the end of the Prada Cup Selection Series.
© 2021 Gilles Martin-Raget

“That race was one for the fans and pretty awesome,” said Ainslie. “It was a great race to take part in, with lots of lead changes, neck at neck all the way to the line. Credit to the Luna Rossa guys for pushing hard.

“We had a few issues going into the race, unfortunately, with our cunningham. That meant from the start we were on the back foot and missing one of the key settings for powering the boat, but the guys just did an awesome job getting us around the track in one piece and getting the win. We were losing a bit downwind, and we had a high fast mode, but we guessed the settings right for the upwinds and managed to have enough pace to get around. We know we have a long way to go. Whilst we’ve got ourselves into the Prada Cup Final, it’s just one step on the road.”

Jimmy Spithill, Luna Rossa’s co-helmsman, was not quite as thrilled afterward, claiming, “We definitely had a piece of them. When we lodged the protest the both of us were doing 45 knots, and we had to avoid Britannia, so I was a bit surprised that they thought it wasn’t close enough,” said Spithill. “At the top [gate] we didn’t pull off a couple of tacks as we should have, but it was really shifty. A continuous up and down the entire racetrack, and that’s why we saw so many lead changes. It was a good effort from the guys on board, and congratulations to INEOS. We didn’t get the result we wanted, but we certainly learnt a lot from that one.”

After their dramatic encounter, both teams had to line up for a meaningless ‘ghost race’ for points in light of American Magic’s absence.

In a contentious press conference afterward, it was brought to light that INEOS had a potential big strike and could be docked a race in the upcoming finals due to a protest by another team about a non-performance-enhancing issue on their boat.

“It’s an interesting one the way rules came together for this Cup,” stated Ainslie, who was none too happy to discuss the issue on a day of celebration for his team. “Even if they find something that is not quite within the rules but is not performance-enhancing, you get one strike. But the second time you get a DSQ [disqualification]. In this game in the new class of boat, it is a tricky one. There is a gray area on how things are measured. So, yeah, we are on one strike.”

The other skippers on hand were in agreement. “It’s always better to win on the water,” said Francesco Bruni of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.

“We agree,” added Terry Hutchinson, skipper and CEO of American Magic.

American Magic is frantically working 24/7 to put Patriot back together again. They face a critical measurement deadline on Wednesday, January 27. The first race in a best of seven with Luna Rossa starts a short two days later on the 29th, whereas INEOS Team UK now have three full weeks to develop their boat, getting ready for the Prada Cup Final.

US team work shed
The side panel needed to repair Patriot’s hull arrives at the team’s base. American Magic received help from the Kiwis in accessing the panel in short order.
© 2021 Sailing Energy / American Magic

Terry Hutchinson gave an optimistic update, saying, “Patriot is coming back to life. They’re turning the boat on, and really the heartbeat of the boat is going again, which is really exciting.”

In a nod to the sportsmanship displayed by the other teams, especially Emirates Team New Zealand, Hutchinson acknowledged “what the Defender has done for us, what they’ve helped us achieve, and certainly without them, [a repair process of this speed] wouldn’t have happened. We have nothing but high thanks for Team New Zealand for what they did. The guys have to get the boat ready, and we have to follow a bit of a procedure to do it because the boat’s just that complex. The intention is to put the boat back to exactly how we left it.”

It is all on the line for the Americans. Win and they’re still in. Lose and it will be a disappointing end to an amazing journey and a long, long way back to Newport, Rhode Island.


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