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June 23, 2021

Will a Split Ring Bring the Mast Down?

A classic, evil tactic to unnerve any racing competitor is to leave some loose cotter pins, clevis pins, split rings or other fasteners on the deck to undermine their confidence that their rig will stand up. It’s harder to push your boat in a windy race if you started the day finding a mystery clevis pin lying on the deck before, or during, a race.

Having recently purchased our 1989 Sabre 38 MkII, we’ve reviewed and upgraded the items flagged by our surveyor. One thing we did not do before purchase was a rig inspection. So we thought we should head up the mast to see what’s up there.

To our untrained eyes all essentially looked fine for a rig that’s been standing out in the elements for 32 years and had its standing and running rigging all replaced in 2016. We also had a rigger run up the mast, and all that was found was a scratch on the leading edge, some pitting, and signs of rust that probably came from old wire halyards.

Sabre 38 Mk II rig
Not bad for 30 years of sailing.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The unnerving thing was back on deck when, within a week, we found both a nut and later a split ring just lying on the deck. We glanced around, searching for the devious Friday night beer can racer who might have been trying to undermine our faith in our rig, but found none. Upon further searching we found the nut lay right about at its source, which was the lower end of the bolt holding the vang to the bracket on the mast. It’s now replaced with some Loctite gel, which we hope will prevent a repeat.

The split ring was harder, until we remembered that just ten minutes before the start of the Friday night race the mainsheet had become detached from the traveler, requiring quick, emergency repairs. The air was light and all went smoothly, allowing us to put it back together before the starting gun (now horn) fired.

Nut and split ring
Both of these were found on deck — evil competitor?
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
coiled spring
Not much to see here, but if you look closely you’ll see a coiled spring hiding under the jib track. It was from the plunger of the pelican hook for the lifelines. Another lucky find and fix.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

There’s a lot going on at the base and top of the mast, which makes it worthwhile to have a periodic look. As this past weekend demonstrated, the Bay is a windy place, and we felt better during our two reefed-down, 30-knot apparent wind sails knowing that we’d been up the rig and found all the pins in place and everything looking solid.

At the masthead
There’s a lot going on up high, but it all looked solid.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

It reminds us that one of the fundamental aspects of sailing is just paying attention. When you’re out on the water you’re looking for wind shifts, tidelines, weather conditions, ship traffic and other factors that may impact or improve your sailing. The same is true when you’re at the dock. It could be an oil change, turning the thru-hulls, tightening hose clamps, or periodically finding a friend willing to crank you up the rig. (Thanks, Randy!) It’s all part of the fascination of getting to know your boat and how you and it engage with the world.

Looking Down
Looking down from about 55 feet up reminds you that out of sight is not necessarily out of mind.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

What unnerving things have you found on deck? Or what should we be checking more frequently? Should we have had a rig survey? The only question remaining for us is, did the nut and split ring fall off on their own, or do we have a truly malicious competitor with a crescent wrench and needle nose pliers?


Big Breeze, Small Boats and Foiling Boards

Opti Heavy Weather Lives Up to Its Name

The rest of the Northern California region baked in a heat wave last weekend, but the San Francisco Cityfront slipped into the solstice with full-on summer breeze, ebb chop and fog. There’s a reason St. Francis Yacht Club schedules the Opti Heavy Weather regatta for June.

Photographer Chris Ray said on Saturday that “Conditions began sunny and light and turned partly foggy and ‘heavy’. The green fleet — the younger sailors — went off at 10.” See more of Chris’s photos of the Opti green fleet at

Opti start
The Opti green fleet in a morning start on Saturday.
© 2021 Chris Ray

“With a noon start, the older competitors had conditions pretty much as advertised, i.e., ‘heavy weather’,” said Chris. See more of his gallery at

Big splash, little Optis
Splashy fun at the Opti Heavy Weather regatta.
© 2021 Chris Ray

Leo Robillard of SFYC topped the 22-boat championship fleet; fellow SFYC team member Whitney Feagin led the nine-boat green fleet. See full results at

Friday Foiling Windsurf Fun at St. Francis

The night before the Opti kids had their turn on the Cityfront, Chris photographed StFYC’s Foiling Windsurfers competing in their Friday series. He praised the great light and lovely setting.

Foiling windsurfers
Friday night racing foiling windsurfer style in the Windsurf Course series.
© 2021 Chris Ray

“For loads more pix see my site:” Xavier Ferlet is leading the series; see for standings.

Kite Foil League’s Delta Pro Event

The new California Triple Crown of kite foil racing kicked off in plenty of breeze in a notoriously windy venue over the weekend.

Foiling kites with windmills in the background
There’s a reason they put those windmills there (on the mainland south and west of Rio Vista). Racing was held on the lower Sacramento River.
© 2021 Kite Foil League

Bay Area phenoms pepper the leaderboard, but previous champ Johnny Heineken took second place to 23-year-old up-and-comer Evan Heffernan of Santa Barbara. In third place was Will Cyr; fourth went to the only international competitor, Xantos Villegas of Mexico, and fifth to Markus Edegran.

Young gun Neil Marcellini, age 21, earned a spot (sixth place) among the top group. When he was 13, Neil was the El Toro Junior champion. World champion Daniela Moroz, 20, battled with the top guys. As far as we can tell, she was the only female competitor. She placed seventh overall out of 23. Check out our profile of Moroz in the current (June 2021) issue of Latitude 38. Both Moroz and Marcellini come from Lafayette in the East Bay.

In the Masters division, 5O5 champion Mike Martin of Mill Valley claimed top honors, improving throughout the weekend to post single-digit finishes in the final five races.

The Kite Foil League’s California Triple Crown series will continue later this summer with events in Long Beach and Santa Barbara. We’re guessing those venues won’t have quite this much breeze! For much more, see

Setting Sail and Collecting Data on the ‘Pacific Spirit’

John Bergstrom sent us this account of his voyage aboard the Pacific Spirit, during which he enlisted “sensing software” to collect detailed navigation and position data.

It was a perfect spring day for sailing in Santa Cruz, CA, with temperatures in the mid-60s and light shore winds. The forecast indicated the breeze would strengthen to 10 to 15 kts later in the afternoon, creating a challenging environment for the ship’s crew.

We set sail on the Pacific Spirit, chartered from Pacific Sailing, and brought along a MicroStrain 3DM GQ7 with dual antenna and RTK modem to collect navigation and position data using SensorConnect software. This is a MicroStrain GNSS navigation and attitude heading reference system produced by Parker LORD. The crew consisted of myself, an ASA-certified skipper, and three crew members with various levels of sailing experience.

We motored out of the harbor past the Walton Lighthouse, hoisted the sails with a compass heading of 180°, and sailed on a starboard tack for approximately 20 minutes, and then tacked to port on a heading of 330°. We sailed on a close reach until tacking again to a SSW heading, and so on …  yes, a truly perfect day of sailing.

Walton Lighthouse, Santa Cruz Harbor.
© 2021 John Bergstrom

After about an hour at sea, the breeze increased and the swell from the northwest rose from 4-6 ft to 6-10 ft. Steering and keeping the boat on course became harder and harder until I decided the boat was overpowered. The Catalina 32 heels a lot compared to the Beneteaus and Hunters that are similar in overall length.

We furled the jib and continued to sail close-hauled. As wind and swell increased, my data-logging laptop pitched off the bench and the USB cable disconnected from the GQ7. This ended the data collection, but not the crew’s adventure. The sail was completed without any other significant events, and thankfully we did not end up stranded on an island, with a millionaire and his wife. We returned safely to dock, gave the Pacific Spirit a quick rinse, and furled and stowed the sails.

Later that evening, I used a Python script with MicroStrain’s Instruction Protocol (MIP) to plot the GPS data and the extended Kalman filter (EKF) data on Google Earth.

The Google Earth map shows the boat’s route during the sail in great detail.
© 2021 John Bergstrom
The GQ7 was positioned in the forward cabin with a dual antenna on the foredeck, with approximately 0.7 m separation equally spaced from the GQ7.
© 2021 John Bergstrom

As expected, the GQ7 with the dual antenna and the RTK corrections provided excellent data for the EKF, and the resultant route tracking was impressive.

Read more about John Bersgtrom’s voyage on the Pacific Spirit and his findings with the MicroStrain GNSS navigation and attitude heading reference system on our Resources page.

Chartering the BVI When COVID Tries to Stop You

In Latitude 38‘s June issue, Rich Jepsen shares the story of “A BVI charter from the planning stages to jumping into the warm water.”

“I just don’t think I can do it.” We were three months out from an April 2021 BVI charter with The Moorings BVI — a trip that had been delayed a year already. COVID-19 cases had yet to shrink much in the US, and the vaccination numbers were still low. The organizer of the friends-and-family charter had laid it on the table. She spoke on our crew update via Zoom, and the words hung in the air. Two more couples piped up to say they thought it best to postpone another year. So, with a heavy heart, I promised to communicate with The Moorings and find out what options we had. After losing half of our crew of 10, I was hoping for some generosity and flexibility, even though BVI had been open since December.

After the call, I turned to my wife, Cecilia, dejected. “We were this close.”

“What if we keep the charter?” she responded.

Suspending disbelief for a moment, I asked, hesitantly, “Where will we find replacement crew on such short notice? We can’t afford this boat with five of us.”

“Every sailor you know is dying to travel and sail. Who knows who we might find? Let’s build a spreadsheet of candidates!” As a retired engineer, spreadsheets are her ‘go-to’ response to anything!

Chartering the BVI
Who became the crew on the Happy Endings charter?
© 2021 Happy Endings Crew

The boat we had reserved was a six-stateroom Moorings 5800 cat, 58 feet of comfort and luxury — special even for a catamaran. It was our last chance to sail her, as all the 5800 bareboat charter boats were being converted to crewed yachts. So, it was now or never.

My Moorings agent, Lisa Mayo, was incredibly accommodating, allowing us to postpone again to an April 2022 charter on a Moorings 5000. But I also asked for, and was given, a few days to see if we could still make our April 2021 charter dream come true.

At the top of our spreadsheet were my sailing siblings, Bill and Dorothy, and their spouses. Always game for a sailing adventure, they were in. I called a longtime charter leader, sailing instructor and OCSC member, Dave, and was lucky to find a month free on his busy chartering dance card. He was intrigued with the 5800, and it had been since July 2019 that he and I had been together on a charter (Tahiti). Amazingly, we were back on our way to BVI 2021!

So, that was easy, right? Well, not exactly.

Please go to Latitude38 magazine to find out what happened next

Bring your Baseball Gear
The Cruisers versus Kids game is played the way baseball always should have been played — nonstop action, women and children rarely ever getting called out, and parties in the outfield.