Bay Area sailor Randall Reeves has been awarded the Cruising Club of America’s (CCA) highest honor, the Blue Water Medal, for his “first-of-its-kind circumnavigation.” Reeves is the first person to complete a Figure 8 circumnavigation of the globe — an almost 40,000-mile voyage, which he completed in just under 13 months. According to a CCA press release, Reeves receives the award for “sailing his 45-foot aluminum cutter, Moli, alone around Antarctica and then through the Northwest Passage in a single season — departing and arriving from San Francisco.”
The successful circumnavigation was Reeves’ second attempt at the Figure 8. His first attempt, which launched in 2017, was scuttled by a few unsavory incidents after which he referred to the voyage as “the longest shakedown cruise in history.” He lost lost both his autopilot and windvane as he was approaching Cape Horn and put in at Ushuaia, Argentina, for repairs. Then, in the Southern Ocean, he endured a knockdown in which he lost a pilothouse window and some electronics. After sailing to Hobart, Tasmania, he made the decision to hit the reset button and restart the Figure 8 anew.
Reeves embarked on Figure 8 version 2 on September 30, 2018, and headed straight to Drake’s Bay, where he waited for wind. It was during this lull that his mind roamed to consider the task ahead. “I was not feeling all that hot. I was scared, afraid and timid while sitting there in Drake’s Bay.” But as the legendary sailor said at his homecoming reception in October 2019, the key was to get going to get on with it. “I’d go from one gale to the next. Then I went through a really bad storm, and I didn’t die …”
It is interesting to note that Reeves bought Moli from Anthony “Tony” Gooch, who won the 2003 Blue Water Medal after executing his singlehanded nonstop circumnavigation from Victoria to Victoria, British Columbia, aboard the then-named Taonui. In the medal’s 97-year history, only one other boat has received it twice — Wanderer III, first with Eric and Susan Hiscock (1955), then with Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson (2011).
Reeves joins a long list of notable sailors including Web Chiles, Jeanne Socrates, Skip Novak, Marvin Creamer and historic luminaries such as Sir Francis Chichester, Bernard Moitessier, and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. You can see the full list of past years’ recipients here.
The medal will be presented to Reeves at the CCA Annual Awards ceremony on March 7. This year’s virtual event will also recognize winners of other CCA awards, as well as 2019 Blue Water Medal winner Jean Luc Van Den Heede, who was unable to attend last year’s ceremony.
We’re not really believers in the saying, “The two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell.” We like the updated version that the two happiest days are Saturday and Sunday. Surely this past Saturday was a happy one for the new owners of our Ranger 33 Summer Sailstice, and for us too — it was a beautiful day to be sailing. It was also bittersweet, as we said goodbye to the boat we’ve enjoyed for the past 18 years of Bay and Delta cruising, racing and daysailing.
We’ve had Summer Sailstice in our Classy Classifieds for a couple of months, noting that the 1975 Ranger 33’s original Atomic 4 was at the end of its life or, in fact, we think it’s toast. Regardless, Wesley’s going to make an attempt at proving us wrong. We’d been considering replacing it with an electric motor as, based in the rarely windless Bay Area, it’s an ideal solution for a Ranger 33. If Wesley can’t get the Atomic 4 out of the ICU, electric may be the alternative. Beyond the engine repair, the boat has a few projects, and after 18 years, we wondered if we wanted to take on the next phase of this Ranger’s life, or if it was time to pass it along to the next generation.
Fortunately, Wesley Nunez, who’s the son of Roger Nunez of Alameda’s Reliable Marine Electronics, and his wife Christina have recently become fired up about sailing. As Wesley explained, “I’ve been working on boats with my dad for about eight years, but had never really got into sailing. However, I did go out with customers to check our installations and found I also loved the sailing. I wanted to learn more. My wife and I bought an older Santana 22 and have had a great time learning to sail in the Oakland Estuary. We’ve taken out tons of friends who have never sailed and wanted room to bring more friends when circumstances allow it again. I’d also sailed on a customer’s Ranger 33 and thought it a great boat so have had my eye out for one.”
Since the boat literally does not have a working engine the question was how to get it to its new home at Alameda Marina. It is a sailboat, after all, and since Wesley and Christina were game, we decided to try our luck sailing with them on a sunny, 10-knot breeze and 11:30 max ebb forecast. I didn’t mention it to them, but the night before when I opened my mail, my new Boat US card had arrived, with towing service. An omen?
As you can see from the course, we made it, and with a 2.4-knot average, you can safely assume we didn’t get a tow. We started out with a gentle northeasterly and optimistically headed to the west side of Angel Island. With a strong ebb running we hugged the shore but also found ourselves in the windless lee of Angel. It was a perfect chance to demonstrate the spinnaker setup. As the Bay turned glassy and the ebb built I was looking over my shoulder, wondering if the Golden Gate Bridge was getting closer to our engineless efforts. Finally, the forecast westerly arrived and we were able to shift back to jib reach across to Treasure Island toward the Estuary. Once past Yerba Buena we reset the kite after a spinnaker-packing review and joined many Estuary dwellers on a warm, leisurely sail, only having to douse the chute in time to sail into Summer Sailstice‘s new slip.
Yes, we were happy to see new owners taking over ‘our’ boat, but we also have a lot of great memories from all our years of sailing her. The bright spot is we are looking forward to bringing our new-to-us Sabre 38 Finistere north from Southern California, though we’re not sure when that will fit into the schedule.
In the “small world” way, as we sailed up the fairway to the slip in Alameda, we passed John and Anita Dodge’s old Pearson 10M Windhover, which used to live five or six slips down the row from us at Corinthian Yacht Club. The two boats are now neighbors again with new owners in a new marina. We’ll look forward to seeing them both out sailing the Estuary as summer sailing returns.
In January’s Latitude 38 we heard from delivery skipper, PNW native, retired foredeck, acceptable at the yacht club, invaluable offshore, and 49 Hawaiian trips — so far — veteran Andy Schwenk about chartering in the Pacific Northwest.
Let’s take a hypothetical journey … Imagine you’re all cooped up and have been for some time, and you’ve heard of this land not so far away: “the Salish Sea.” Really, that’s what it’s called. I’m sure Peter Puget would be all disappointed, and well, everybody with Cleveland Indians jerseys or apparel for that football team outta D.C. is too, but it’s still a magical place no matter what you call it.
No airline ticket required. According to the Google folks, simply hop into the family truckster, step on that pedal on the right, and 16 hours later you’ve arrived. Remember to slow down in Oregon and Washington, as folks drive slower up there and those CA plates are easy for the state police to spot. Arrive in Anacortes or Bellingham, skipping the peaceful protests in Seattle and Portland, because this trip is all about sailing, not political activism.
Up north, yacht chartering is still allowed and hopefully will be in summer 2021. The native summer starts the weekend after Labor Day, when kids are back in school and there’s way less rain than in May or June. Well, they used to be back in school. I’m more certain about the rain thing.
Either do your own thing or take your favorite couple to pal around with. Get a deal for a week on a 36-40-ft boat and make damn certain it has a terrific tender. If you enjoy peace and tranquility, insist on a rowing dinghy and, to make sure the oars fit, take it for a spin. If you wanna haul ass and see more territory, or your rotator cuff ain’t what it used to be, make sure the outboard starts easily the first time. Yes, for cruising the American San Juans, the tender is as important as the mothership unless you are simply hopping from marina to marina, in which case you’ll miss most of the good stuff and you don’t need a dinghy.
The base of operations will need a heater, a genoa, a clean bottom and not much else. Winds are light and passages are 10-15 miles daily. Of course, you’ll be fighting current and it will feel like 35 miles unless you read this to the finish. When you look at NOAA chart 18421, you will see how the entire area is shaped similarly to the porcelain goddess in the head. When the tide is going out, which is usually stronger due to the amount of rainfall and numerous rivers, all that water mass wants to get out to sea. Look at the chart and imagine all the blue stuff headed west — don’t fight it, ride it. Continue reading at Latitude 38.com.
We don’t know about you, but one thing we have to do each morning when we wake up and before we turn in at night is check the standings of the Vendée Globe. We’ve been doing it for 80 days straight and it’s been exhausting. And we get to do it from the comfort of our own home.
The top five boats are within 200 miles of the finish after over 24,000 miles of racing, and the leader, Charlie Dalin on Apivia, has just become the first to finish as we post today’s ‘Lectronic. The only ‘fly in the ointment’ for Dalin is that Yannick Bestaven and Boris Herrmann are not far behind and have, repectively, 10 and 6 hours or so to be awarded for help with the rescue of Kevin Escoffier in December. Dalin will have to see if his lead holds while the wind looks as if it will be building for the racers behind him. You know the feeling.
The next four boats should finish by tomorrow morning. Like the racers themselves, we look forward to going ‘off watch’ but will also miss our daily check-in once all the other racers finish.
One other racer we have been following closely is Pip Hare, sponsored by the Bay Area company Medallia. She’s had an amazing race and is now running 18th (out of 33 starters) with about 3500 miles to go. We’ll have a more thorough wrap-up on Friday.