Last Thursday, John ‘Woody’ Skoriak joined sailors on the schooner Freda B for a sail alongside Call of the Sea’s Matthew Turner as both did a tune-up sail in preparation for Saturday’s upcoming Master Mariners Regatta. The race is now a Memorial Day Weekend tradition, though it was first raced on the Bay over the Fourth of July in 1867.
If you want to see both of them and a great selection of San Francisco Bay’s tall ships and classic boats, make sure you’re sailing this coming Saturday to watch the start of the 2021 Master Mariners Regatta off the St. Francis Yacht Club between 12 and 1 PM. It’s a reverse-handicap start with slower boats first. The biggest, fastest boats start last. with the mission of catching all the small boats by the finish line. The fleet will head north toward Belvedere, then up to a buoy off Yellow Bluff by the Marin Headlands before ending a Bay tour at the finish line east of Treasure Island.
Matthew Turner received her Certificate of Inspection last July, but sadly, like all charter vessels, remained dockside for most of the past year due to COVID. However, with the easing of restrictions, she’s become a frequent and welcome sight on San Francisco Bay. Though safety protocols still have her sailing below capacity, Matthew Turner and her Thursday sailing companion and Saturday competitor Freda B are both getting on the water regularly and available for guests.
The size of the boat makes no difference; everyone who has ever participated in the Master Mariners has enjoyed the friendly rivalry and the abundance of beautiful sailboats. Boats range in size from the Bay Area’s classic Bear fleet to the new ‘Queen of the Show,’ the 132-ft LOA Matthew Turner. If capturing spectacular photos of classic yachts inspires you, this is an ideal day to sail the Bay.
While the traditional Master Mariners Regatta will go on this coming Saturday, the Wooden Boat Show, an annual fundraiser for the Master Mariners Foundation normally held at the Corinthian YC in June, has been postponed until the fall.
In the May issue of Latitude 38, Ross Tibbits caught up with Knud Wibroe to talk about Knud’s classic Knarr, Snaps III.
Classics, be they works of art, automobiles or sailboats, are sold to the highest bidder at auction houses. Less often do we hear about individuals bestowing such items on a person who will continue to embrace the history, culture and preservation of the valued possession.
One of the San Francisco sailing community’s most legendary members is Knud Wibroe. Knud, a Dane, landed in San Francisco in 1953 at age 29. Best known for many things sailing, he is arguably one of the most storied racers on the Bay. Founder of the local Folkboat fleet, admiral of the Knarr fleet, and creator of the International Knarr Championship, he’s pretty good at finding his way around a racecourse. In many ways, he’s classic in his own right. At the spry age of 90, Knud retired from sailing in 2017. And instead of selling his beloved yacht, Snaps III, he gave it to longtime crewmember Mike Ratiani.
Today, a little bit older and not quite as agile, Knud is still sharp as a tack and shows his age well. Sitting in his home among framed pictures of beautiful yachts, you can tell that sailing runs deep in his veins — he’s been sailing his entire life. Asked how he met Mike, Knud recalls, “I was looking for some younger crew. He came on board, and I’ve sailed with him for 20 years.
“He’s a very, very good tactician,” says Knud understatedly about Mike. Referring to their time racing the Knarrs in St. Francis Yacht Club’s Wednesday Night Series (also founded by Knud), “Mike got more and more competitive. At first it was easy; we did very well. But then the Perkins [brothers] joined the fleet, and some Olympic sailors too. It became much more competitive! I still won races on Wednesday nights, but that was tough, real tough.” By all indications, Knud had amassed an ideal crew. For Mike, that became the basis for his long-term friendship with Knud.
When it came time to figure out Snaps III‘s future, a few things came quickly to mind. First off was that Snaps had become a member of the Wibroe family. Knud had not only spent years and countless hours racing her, but he’d also maintained her to a degree envied by any wooden-boat owner — she’d been rebuilt twice by retired Danish boatbuilder Sean Hansen and fellow Dane Fred Andersen during his ownership — a rate at which Snaps could literally live forever.
“A boat like Snaps, it was a very, very important part of my life. And I feel it is not really a classic in a real classic sense, but for me it is becoming a classic. Classic things like castles, you don’t really own them, you are a custodian.”
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With Memorial Day only a week away, school’s almost out for summer. Each spring parents scramble to find healthy activities to occupy and enrich their kids during the long break. What could be healthier than taking a break from screens and going sailing in the fresh air? Many of the providers who have traditionally offered summer youth sailing programs have figured out how to cope with COVID and are accepting registrations.
Parents, grandparents and kids, did you know that Latitude 38 maintains a web page for youth sailing in Northern California? You can check it out here: www.latitude38.com/feature/san-francisco-youth-sailing. Junior program directors, is your offering listed here? Is it up to date? Or have you had to suspend operations? Please let us know so that we can keep this page as current as possible. Send your info to email@example.com.
The California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) has issued a press release “reminding all recreational boaters and water enthusiasts during National Safe Boating Week, May 22-28, 2021, to boat responsibly this summer.” They said that as more people head outdoors and onto the waterways during the ongoing pandemic, it is critical to “remind everyone to follow safe boating practices, such as always wearing a lifejacket.”
“Wearing a lifejacket is the number one way to increase the chances of survival in an emergency. California boating accident statistics show that 81% of those who drowned were not wearing lifejackets. Modern lifejackets come in cool and comfortable styles and designs. There are many options, but it is important to choose the right one for the intended boating activity.”
“One of the simplest ways to keep you and your loved ones safe while out on the water is to wear your lifejacket,” says DBW Acting Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “The best lifejacket is the one you’re wearing.”
Below are some other safe boating practices recommended by DBW for all recreational boaters:
- Take a safe boating course and get your California Boater Card. Even the most experienced boaters can learn from boating safety courses. As of January 1, 2021, all operators of a motorized vessel on California waterways who are 40 years old or younger are required to carry a lifetime boater card. By 2025, all operators of motorized vessels will be required to carry one regardless of age
- Inspect your lifejacket. Check the label to make sure it has a US Coast Guard approval number, is the appropriate size, and is the right type of lifejacket for the intended boating activity.
- Make sure you have the right safety equipment on board. Schedule a vessel safety check with your local US Coast Guard Auxiliary or US Power Squadrons, or download a virtual vessel safety check and inspect your boat yourself.
- File a float plan before each boating trip. Share a float plan with the details of your trip with a family member or friend in the event of an emergency.
- Check the weather. Know the latest weather forecast prior to going out and check regularly for changing conditions.
- Stow it, don’t throw it. Keep your trash on board. Never throw garbage into waterways. Take advantage of shoreside facilities to recycle plastic, glass, metal and paper. Used fishing line can be deposited at fishing-line recycling stations.
- Download helpful boating applications on your phone. The BoatCA app is a free mobile app that shows you boating facilities, lifejacket loan stations, laws, boat registration info and more.
“DBW works with water safety partners throughout the state to offer programs to help ensure boaters have access to lifejackets. For example, life jackets can be borrowed for free at one of over 100 local lifejacket loaner stations throughout the state.”
You can find more boating and water safety information, along with the activities taking place for National Safe Boating Week, at BoatCalifornia.com.