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February 24, 2021

When Raising a Headsail Turns into a Marriage Proposal

We’ve all heard of shipboard romance; some of us have perhaps even experienced it. But Grant Hamilton took the idea to a whole new level when he had his girlfriend raise the headsail to uncover his marriage proposal. Did she say yes?

As a 21-year-old, Grant was introduced to sailing in Australia’s Whitsunday Islands, a popular sailing destination on the Great Barrier Reef. “From that moment on I was completely bitten by the bug but unfortunately, as life often goes, the next opportunity didn’t present itself till much later in life. The desire never waned, just priorities were different.” [Insert ‘kids’ here]

After growing up in Scotland “and a good few countries in between,” Grant eventually settled near Lodi and took sailing classes on Lake Natoma with the Sacramento State Aquatic Center. “What a fantastic experience that was, and along with expanding my passion and thirst for sailing I also met some great friends. By the end of the program I had already bought my first sailboat, a MacGregor Venture 25. The boat had been lovingly cared for and very well equipped, so it was perfect for me to expand my horizons and gain experience with.”

These days Grant is restoring a 1979 Cal Corinthian 39, Namu II, which he describes as “a fantastically solid boat that has been previously adored but was in need of some love.” And as a member of the Stockton Sailing Club he’s able to take advantage of other sailors’ experience and knowledge “to help me bridge the gap in the areas where I lack.”

Namu II at the dock
Namu II lies in wait for the big day.
© 2021 Grant Hamilton

“Over the next few years I plan to incrementally increase my experience and then take on much larger passages with no return date set,” he added.

But about that marriage proposal…

“Being a professional helicopter pilot and beer brewer, I work with checklists:

Increase experience / check.
Solid, well-behaved boat / check.
Systems ready / check.
First mate / …

“I actually had Angela stand on the dock and pull the headsail out. I told her we had to take it down for repairs. She had no idea what was coming. I had decals printed on the sail: ‘Will you marry me?'”

Grant and Angela on dock
She said yes!
© 2021 Grant Hamilton

“Angela, a school teacher with no sailing experience (but learning fast), has now officially agreed to become my first mate. We are both excited to travel farther and farther afield and experience the unknown of tomorrow.

“I make the analogy that she’s a little girl holding a balloon and I am the balloon. She definitely keeps me grounded but I think she also loves the adventure of not knowing what direction she’s going to be pulled. We are a great team and we can’t wait to marry in the spring of 2022.”

And as for why Grant likes to sail …

“You can stand outside and be in awe of the environment and everything that it is; however when you raise that sail the connection you have is direct and responsive. For me, that’s what it’s all about, working with the environment around me and being in synergy with it as much as possible. Feeling 20,000 lbs being propelled through the water is for me the ultimate manifestation of Mother Nature. How lucky we are!”

Taking a Peek at Bay Area Youth Sailing Programs

As the seasons morph from winter into spring we are beginning to see local sailing organizations promote their youth sailing programs. Spring and summer have traditionally been the high season for youth sailing. Whether we’re talking about learn-to-sail classes, junior racing, educational sails or camps, Bay Area youth usually enjoy a lot of time on the water over the warmer months. In 2020 many organizations scrambled to create programs that were COVID-compliant yet entertaining and productive for the participants. And the programs that did run were very popular. So with a bit of luck, planning and good weather, this year will turn out to be a fantastic sailing season for all the junior (and adult) sailors.

The Bay is right next door with many youth sailing programs easily accessible to all.
© 2021 Treasure Island Sailing Center

To help make this happen we’ve created a Youth Sailing page where you can find program information and contact details for local sailing clubs, associations and community sailing organizations. For example, the Alameda Community Sailing Center is planning Spring Break camps, summer camps, and an afternoon School Sailing Club in the spring and fall; Blue Water Foundation (San Francisco) runs Thursday afternoon sailing programs with San Francisco schools and SFPD to build relationships and provide experience to at-risk youth in the City; Pegasus Project (Berkeley) operates life-skills sails aboard Pegasus (a 51-ft Alden-designed ketch) to provide youth participants (and adult crew) with a basic environmental understanding and appreciation of San Francisco Bay; Sequoia Yacht Club in Redwood City offers beginner, intermediate and advanced sailing on Saturdays aboard Lasers and El Toros; Spaulding Marine Center (Sausalito) is organizing three-week summer camps that will include sailing, kayaking and woodworking; Treasure Island Sailing Center has at least six programs ranging in focus from water safety and wind/sea awareness to racing; and that’s not all! There are currently 23 programs listed on the page. So go take a look and make a plan for your family to get on board with the fantastic opportunities available now and over the coming months.

These kids looked as if they were having the best time “ever!” at Shoreline Lake in the South Bay.
© 2021 Shoreline Lake

Our upcoming March issue includes a feature on Bay Area youth sailing. Look for it in your mailbox or at your favorite magazine distributor on Monday, March 1.

Are you involved with or do you know of a youth sailing program that isn’t included on the San Francisco Bay Area Youth Sailing Programs page? Send the program details to [email protected] to be included.

Talking about Sailing in Virtual Events

Tomorrow Morning: Caribbean Weather Outlook

Have an upcoming charter or cruise planned for the Caribbean? How does this year compare to others? Weather Routing Inc. will present a webinar comparing the current Caribbean trade regime with similar patterns from years past. They’ll also talk about what to expect for the remainder of the charter season. “Additionally, we will discuss long-range forecasting and show methods for how we make outlook predictions,” says WRI. “The session will be about 30 minutes long with a few minutes allotted at the conclusion for comments, feedback and/or questions. We will also allow users to ask questions in real time during the webinar. The webinar will be available for review after the broadcast time in case anyone cannot participate on the Crowdcast platform.”

WRI’s senior meteorologists Brian Whitley and Chris Iraggi will present the information. The webinar will go live tomorrow, Thursday, February 25, at 9 a.m. PST.

Tomorrow Afternoon: Match Racing

At 4 p.m. PST, Bay Area sailors Liz Baylis and Nicole Breault will join Pearson Potts and Bridget Groble to discuss getting involved in match racing. US Sailing’s video channel The Starboard Portal will present the event as part of their online series.

James Kiriakis and Nicole Breault with trophy
St. Francis Yacht Club’s 2017 commodore James Kiriakis presented the Jerome B. White Yachtsman of the Year perpetual trophy to Nicole Breault in January 2018. Breault was the first female recipient of the trophy.
© 2021 Igor Capibaribe

Coming in March

As we mentioned in a previous post, US Sailing decided not to present the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman Awards for 2020, due to the global pandemic’s impact on international and national competitive racing events. (They do plan on reactivating the awards in 2021.)

The 2020 presentation would have marked the 40th anniversary of the Rolex sponsorship of these prestigious awards. To celebrate the milestone, US Sailing and Rolex have invited four past winners from each gender to The Starboard Portal for two live program panel discussions. Gary Jobson, the usual MC for the awards, will serve as moderator.

The Yachtswomen will go first, on Thursday, March 4, at 5 p.m. PST. Panelists will be:

  • Betsy Allison (1998, 1993, 1984, 1982, 1981)
  • JJ Fetter (2000, 1997, 1991, 1986)
  • Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias (2011, 2010, 2009, 2008)
  • Daniela Moroz (2019, 2016)
Daniela Moroz on foiling kite
Daniela Moroz kiteboarding on her home waters (San Francisco Bay) in 2018.
© 2021 Daniel Forster / Rolex

The Yachtsmen will follow on Thursday, March 18, at 5 p.m. PDT. Panelists will be:

  • Paul Cayard (1998)
  • Ed Baird (1995)
  • Stan Honey (2010)
  • Johnny Heineken (2012)

Tune in at for these and other Starboard Portal presentations.

What a Difference a Bay Makes

Most local residents hoping for a weekend escape end up driving in the wrong direction. They drive to the mountains or the beaches, or up and down the coast trying to ‘get away from it all’. They don’t seem to realize the easiest and closest escape is the Bay that sits right in the middle of us Bay Area residents. In fact, it’s called the ‘Bay Area’ because that’s its primary feature and greatest asset.

While we are praying for more rain, we also see many who are getting it right by taking advantage of the winter sun on San Francisco Bay. We joined hundreds of boats out on the water this past Sunday when we sailed out of Sausalito’s Clipper Yacht Harbor with our friends Randy and Jennifer Gridley aboard their Sabre 38 MkII Agea. It was a spectacular day, with a pass through the Corinthian Yacht Club Midwinters, a long reach to Treasure Island, and then a long reach toward the Richmond Bridge before heading home through Raccoon Strait.

We crossed tacks with a good number of boats on the Bay and have photos of some of them here.

This Banshee was plying the warm, flat water of Richardson Bay.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Schock Harbor 25
This Schock Harbor 25 was tacking out along the Sausalito Harbor breakwater in Richardson Bay.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Zhenya Kirueshkin-Stepanoff and the crew of the Flying Tiger 10 CentoMiglia, headed off the CYC starting line.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Carl King, who was out sailing from Sausalito aboard his Beneteau 362 King Tide, caught class winner Romeo Uriarte of Richmond YC aboard his Landmark 43 Destin, racing back in under the Gate.
© 2021 Carl King
Carl King Beneteau 361
Carl King also sent in this shot saying, “I was not racing, more of an obstacle, and just happened to be cruising through the area on a fine sailing day.”
© 2021 Carl King
Two helms available for singlehanded sailing on Sunday. Osprey is looking fine.
© 2021 John
It was a beautiful day, so what’s the rush? This Montgomery 15 was reefed down and taking her own sweet time to sail down Raccoon Strait.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
The West Wight Potter Riptide also toured the Bay.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
The Alerion 28 is ideally suited for shorthanded sailing. It’s hard to go out sailing without seeing one these days.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Not everyone was leisure sailing on Sunday. Mark Kennedy from South Beach YC and his crew aboard his Melges 32 Nuckelavee were working hard at the start of the Corinthian Midwinters.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Hank Easom makes racing look easy aboard his Sabre Spirit 36 Serenade.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

If you were wondering why that blue Sabre 38 was winding its way through the racecourse or sailing just a bit too close with some stranger taking your photo on Sunday, don’t blame Randy and Jennifer. We were aboard and couldn’t help but capture these shots of so many people out for the Bay Area’s greatest escape. Pray for rain, but enjoy the sun.

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Curtis Havel spent five months building his 11-foot-long gunter-rigged sloop from a Chesapeake Light Craft kit. It turned out to be a lot of fun to build, and to sail.
Prada Cup Final
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