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March 31, 2021

‘Finistere’ Battles Raging Seas from Santa Barbara to San Francisco

We’re glad we have pictures or nobody would believe us. Heading north up the West Coast is known as one of the most difficult legs of any sailor’s voyaging. It’s not uncommon for circumnavigators to tell us they sailed all the way around the world only to find the worst weather of the whole trip in the last 300 miles north to San Francisco.

After purchasing a 1989 Sabre 38 MkII we’re renaming Finistere (after the cape in Brittany, France) in Long Beach last fall, we’d been waiting for a moment to bring her north. We had hoped to spend more time exploring Southern California, but severe COVID warnings kept us from feeling free enough to do much visiting. The logistical challenges of managing a remote boat in a pandemic finally convinced us it was better to just get her close to home so we could have more time to enjoy her and learn more about her.

When the timing looked right at the end of March, we reached out to our friend Michael Rossi and connected with fellow Corinthian Yacht Club members Randall von Wedel and Jon Kahn, who all said, “Let’s go!” With a crew ready, we started scanning Windy for an appropriate weather window. One magically appeared just as we were sending the April issue off to the printer.

Suddenly, it was time to get into high gear with boat prep though, honestly, the boat was in great shape for an ocean passage. Prior owner Matt Humphries had done the 2017 Transpac with Paul Kamen aboard as navigator. Put food, fuel, water and jerry jugs aboard; fix a finicky Simrad autopilot, check the oil, set up jacklines, and switch out the big SoCal #1 for the NorCal #3. We’re always told, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” Fortunately, besides food, most of the prep was unnecessary. We experienced one of the smoothest, clearest, calmest rides north we’ve heard of.

Leaving Santa Barbara
The northbound treachery started as we left Santa Barbara. Clear and calm. John Arndt and Michael Rossi prepare for the worst.
© 2021 Jon Kahn
Point Conception
The misery continued as Randall von Wedel and Michael Rossi rounded Point Conception. To add drama we tilted the camera for a little heel.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Big Sur
Surely this ordeal had to let up by Big Sur?
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The only breeze we saw was from Mile Rocks almost to Belvedere Point against a fierce ebb. It was a classic, fog-lifting finish after the long gray stretch from Monterey Bay to San Francisco Bay. Approaching Mile Rocks we had our first hints of breeze with a greater-than-zero apparent wind angle. We hoisted the main and unfurled the jib so we could at least sail under the Golden Gate Bridge.

The breeze built as we approached the Marin shoreline to avoid the ebb, and the fog was just backing off the bridge. We soon had too much sail up for the rollicking ebb. Foiling kiteboarders and wing sailors mocked our growing alarm. We grabbed a piece of flat water for a chicken jibe and headed toward Richardson Bay to ease our 20 minutes of sailing strain. As quickly as they’d appeared, the wind and waves settled. The air became warm, our foulies came off, and we sailed calmly into Belvedere Cove to squeeze our beamy boat into her narrow slip — she just fits.

Finistere comes in the Gate
Jon Kahn, Randall von Wedel, Michael Rossi and I were happy to be home.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Occasionally we have heard of people hoisting a spinnaker when they find a rare southerly as they come north, but, overall, we feel very fortunate. Before leaving Santa Barbara we spoke to Dennis Longaberger, owner of Sunset Kidd Yacht Sales in Santa Barbara, who’s done dozens of deliveries north. He had some great tips such as hideouts like Pfeiffer Cove to the south of Point Sur — though we noted Wreck Beach is not far to the south. We always appreciate great advice that we can avoid using. As always, it has us thinking… What was your best or worst northbound experience? Where have you hidden out or found protection on your way north? (Please comment below or email us.)

The Channel Islands are always beckoning, but it’s the northbound reckoning that causes people to hesitate. We’re looking forward to returning south in a pandemic-eased world and when we’re more familiar with our boat. But could we be lucky twice? (Apologies for the misleading headline.)

Look for more on our trip north in the May issue of Latitude 38.

Don’t Be a Fool, Get April’s Latitude 38 Now!

It’s not quite April, but no fooling, we have a new issue of Latitude 38 magazine hot off the press today, just waiting for you to come along and pick it up. Here’s a preview of what’s inside:

Starting From Scratch

If you had told me a little over a year ago that we would be living in San Diego on a sailboat preparing to go long-term cruising in Mexico, I would have laughed out loud. At the time, we were both working intense full-time jobs and living in a tiny flat in London with our dog. The quantity of things that would need to drastically change to make that reality? Now that’s a long list!

Dalton and Sydney — new sailors, new boat owners and soon-to-be Mexico cruisers.
© 2021 S/V Mihaly

America’s Cup 36 — Another Day in Kiwi Paradise

The whole affair seems to have ended as quickly as it started. For all the pomp, circumstance and pageantry that surrounds the America’s Cup, the anticipation and expectation can sometimes overshadow the actual event.

But not this time, as the blazingly fast foiling AC75 Cup Class put on quite the show when the battle for the Auld Mug wrapped up in historic fashion. Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron became the first yacht club apart from New York Yacht Club to successfully defend the America’s Cup for a second time …

Blair Tuke and Peter Burling led the parade through the jubilant crowd on their way to the victory podium.
© 2021 Gilles Martin-Raget

Cruisers on San Francisco Bay

As COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into many people’s sailing plans, sailors have found themselves stuck at the dock and postponing travel. Many places worldwide have shut down access to entire harbors, leaving people unable to even visit their boats. For my partner Jack and me, sailing has been the only thing that hasn’t been canceled because of COVID.

In April Latitude 38
Gemini anchored in Horseshoe Bay by the Presidio Yacht Club.
© 2021 s/v Gemini

Plus you’ll find all your favorite regular pages: LettersMax EbbRacing SheetSightings and more. Plus the sailboat owners’ and buyers’ bible, Classy Classifieds

Read online, or grab your copy from your nearest distributor. Not sure where that is?

April Latitude 38
Mark Ruckman of Fortman Marina in Alameda now has the April issue on hand. Stop by to say hello and pick up your copy.
© 2021 Sue Weaver

You can also check our directory here to find your nearest outlet.

Compass Realty: Corinthian Island

Compass Realty

This exquisite waterfront home on Belvedere’s Corinthian Island was custom designed and built in 2008 for a well-known yacht racer.

Ask Not “Where’s Waldo?” Ask Instead “Where’s S/V ‘Freedom?”

At the bottom of Monday’s ‘Lectronic newsletter we included this photo from our February Sailagram album. The photo is of S/V Freedom and was submitted by Kirk and Char Wagner.

s/v Freedom
This is the photo as it appeared in the newsletter.
© 2021 Kirk and Char Wagner

George Hughes later sent us an email saying, “I’m curious where the folks (Kirk and Char Wagner on S/V Freedom) are in that wonderful photo this month. Where was the photo taken?”

So we thought we’d put it out to you, dear readers, to see what your best guess is.

Full disclosure: The photo above was cropped a little to fit into the newsletter, so to make it fair, below is the original as it appeared in Sailagram.

The extra foreground may not seem like much, but it could perhaps make all the difference for some discerning geographic experts … or not.
© 2021 Kirk and Char Wagner

What’s your best guess for this boat’s location? Drop your answer into the comments below.

The Unclogging of ‘Ever Given,’ and a Flood of Memes

On Monday, the 1,300-ish-ft container ship Ever Given was finally dislodged after some six days of blocking a narrow section of the Suez Canal, which is a major artery of global commerce. The Ever Given clog, by one of the largest ships in the world, cost almost $10 billion a day in marine traffic lost, reportedly will have ripple effects on supply chains for months to come, and put global shipping into the public spotlight.

When, at first, what appeared to be a single excavator and then a single bulldozer were sent in to dig out the building-sized behemoth — offering a visual contrast between the size of the problem and the tiny, near-infinitesimal speck of the solution on offer — the metaphors about deep-rooted struggles flooded the internet.

Two memes for the price of one. The metaphors were both elaborate and simply stated.
© 2021 The Internet

The Ever Given even made it onto The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

“You landlubbers out there probably learned about this story from various shore-based news outlets,” said Colbert, who is a sailor hailing from South Carolina. “But I’m a man of the sea; I’m a salty dog, so I’ve been tracking this briny pickle from the moment it began on my MarineTraffic app.” Colbert pulled out his phone, and the Suez jam was put on the screen, followed by the following image:

The early David-and-Goliath-like struggle between ship and modest machinery.
© 2021 Container Artist Residency

“Authorities are trying their best to dislodge the vessel — here’s the full fleet of … one bulldozer … trying to dig it out. C’mon guys, couldn’t you have sent something smaller? Maybe an old man with a grapefruit spoon or a single prairie dog with tennis elbow?”

If you haven’t heard, the Ever Given is a really big boat. Here’s a two-dimensional comparison with the Empire State Building.

Did the unexpected canal-blocking by the Ever Given cause a worldwide mini-discussion, moment of pause, or collective shoulder-shrugging over globalism?

“The Suez Canal is not just any waterway,” wrote the New York Times. “It is a vital channel linking the factories of Asia to the affluent customers of Europe, as well as a major conduit for oil. The fact that one mishap could sow fresh chaos from Los Angeles to Rotterdam to Shanghai underscored the extent to which modern commerce has come to revolve around truly global supply chains.”

The Times explained that the Ever Given jam revealed the pitfalls of “so-called just-in-time manufacturing,” where goods are ordered and delivered on demand via global shipping, rather than investments being made in stockpiling goods in warehouses. “The embrace of this idea has delivered no less than a revolution to major industries. It has also yielded a bonanza for corporate executives and other shareholders: Money not spent filling warehouses with unneeded auto parts is, at least in part, money that can be given to shareholders in the form of dividends.”

The grounding of Ever Given was riffed on by film lovers. Here’s a famous clog (and some rough photoshopping) from Austin Powers.’
© 2021 The Internet
How about this iconic moment from Friends . . .?
© 2021 Cinema Monkeys
. . . Or a random Charlie’s Angels reference?
© 2021 The Internet

The Times went on to say, “Some experts have warned for years that short-term shareholder interests have eclipsed prudent management in prompting companies to skimp on stockpiling goods. ‘As we become more interdependent, we are even more subject to the fragilities that arise, and they are always unpredictable,’ said Ian Goldin, a professor of globalization at Oxford University.”

The grounding was made into a meme using footage from a Gillette commercial . . .
© 2021 The Internet

According to Bloomberg News, “The Ever Given leaves in its wake several weeks or months of disruptions across a world economy where the pandemic revealed both the sturdy backbone of global trade and an Achilles’ heel.”

Oh yeah, the grounding of Ever Given had eerie echoes on more than just one of the planet’s “arteries.”
© 2021 The Internet
Or how about some outer-wordly arteries?
© 2021 The Onion

With all this talk about the “fragility of the global supply chain,” will the grounding of Ever Given lead to any significant changes in the current system? Not likely.

The grounding also provided some epic juxtapositioning . . .
© 2021 Container Artist Residency

“Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering and Samsung Heavy Industries — two of the world’s three biggest shipbuilders — announced they’d won orders worth a combined $3.45 trillion … to build 25 container vessels that are all longer than the Eiffel Tower,” according to Bloomberg. “The ships will be delivered by 2025.”

Warning: Do Not Open Before Tomorrow

We’re getting ahead on a news flash that we know is due tomorrow, but as we don’t publish on Thursdays, we decided to post it today. But … it comes with a warning: “Do not read this post before tomorrow.” 

Chris Boome sent us a copy of this email that was sent to El Toro sailors who are planning to have their Nationals at Half Moon Bay at the end of July.

Hi Everybody,

I just heard from the HMBYC Race Chair, Joe Rockmore, and they are hoping to get the ship out of the harbor before the Nationals, but you might want to check to make sure.


cc: Joe Rockmore (hey, wouldn’t that be an awesome name for a dinghy sailor!!!)

Fingers crossed the harbor is cleared in time!
© 2021 Chris Boome

It’s already April 1 somewhere!

Saved By a Sailor
I had just returned from Africa with my father and family after witnessing a solar eclipse. My dad was an astrophysicist who was studying solar flares and solar winds, so it was a research mission.
Don't Be Late for that Special Date
There have been recent reports in the media about humpback whale sightings on the Bay, saying this is unusually early for them to be seen.
When Flotsam is Not What it Seems
… this thing was sailing, and it was steady on course. I was watching from a cabin window, and lost sight of the thing as it came closer and sailed below my field of view.
Spring Regattas on the Near Horizon
Northern and Southern California regattas, beer can series, cancellations, and virtual events in the month of April.