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June 28, 2021

Sierra Point Yacht Club Sails Through the Week with Tuesday Night Racing

Lee Panza from the Sierra Point Yacht Club emailed us to share some photos and updates from their summer racing season, which is now underway.

Lee wrote, “… the SPYC has been cultivating a very enjoyable beer can series in the middle of that vast stretch between South Beach and Redwood City.”

Sierra Point Yacht Club
Like the cavalry coming to the rescue, Nessie leads the charge!
© 2021 Sierra Point Yacht Club

He tells us the racing in these waters is “quite different” from what sailors experience in the Central Bay. “We usually get plenty of wind (between Candlestick Point and Oyster Point) but it’s almost always sunny, and it’s generally warmer here than up in ‘The Slot.'”

Like most clubs in the Bay Area, the SPYC program hasn’t yet “bounced back to pre-pandemic levels,” but Lee tells us that the numbers are growing, and that other boaters are invited to join the fun, even those who don’t mind what he calls a “downhill, sleigh ride home to the eastern side.”

San Saggio, with a rookie crew, “prudently” avoids the traffic.
© 2021 Sierra Point Yacht Club

Each Tuesday the club races two divisions, with the first start at 6 p.m..

Egret makes the mark, with Outrageous overlapping them and Sparky right behind.
© 2021 Sierra Point Yacht Club

“We’re less than halfway through the season right now,” Lee said. “We’re also getting ready for our annual race up around Treasure Island and back.”

It doesn’t always have to be foggy and cold for the Bay to produce sailing winds.
© 2021 Sierra Point Yacht Club

So for all the sailors who are looking to fly their sails for a bit of weeknight racing, go check out Sierra Point Yacht Club and sign up for some fun.

Sailors, Don’t Leave Your Boats in Storage Too Long

Last February we shared the story of Banyandah, our Tayana 37 that had been stored on the hard in Maine for an unexpected three years. You know how it goes … You pack up the boat, winterize everything, put a wrap on her, and say goodbye, promising to return next summer. In this case we misjudged which summer we would be back, and as it turned out, our boat came to us.

Once she’d arrived in Sausalito, we began the task of getting her back into sailing shape. Of course we knew it would be a big job, but again, we underestimated the size of ‘big’. To undergo her road transport, all of Banyandah‘s deck gear had to be removed — mast, stanchions, dodger, bimini — anything and everything that could be removed. Including the bowsprit. As we couldn’t return to Maine to prepare the boat for her journey, we enlisted the help of a friend. No problem! Until it was time to put everything back on.

Which bolts go in this hole? Where are the nuts? What’s this thing for? Great questions with not many answers. West Marine’s fixings department has done well out of us.

But visually, the scariest parts were the corrosion and growths that had appeared in various places. Our engine looked as if it had adopted a family of algae blooms or mushrooms, and the bilge was awash with flakes of what appeared to be paint that had flaked off everything in sight.

Will the Yanmar run again?
© 2021 Jay Grant
Please tell us this gets better.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Monica

Perhaps some of you have experienced these phenomena before, but we can only imagine that regardless of how many times you see the state a long-term stored sailboat is in, it can still be a shock.

Seeing her mast back on has done wonders for our morale.
© 2021 Jay Grant

Someone recently said (and keeps saying) to us, “Hey, sailboats are fun!” Well, James, we’ll let you know as we go how much we believe that statement. We do know, however, that once she is put back together, Banyandah will be on the water looking like she should, sails up, cruising leisurely around the Bay or out the Gate.

Doing the Baja Ha-Ha in Bahia Santa Maria

When doing the Baja Ha-Ha, it’s good to remember the observation of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who said, “You cannot step into the same river twice …” In other words, the one constant is change.

In the first photo of Bahia Santa Maria, the second stop in the Baja Ha-Ha, you see the channel over the bar to the mangroves to the south side of the opening. You also see a second entrance of sorts just a little farther to the south. Probably not navigable by dinghy at the time of the photo.

Baja Ha-Ha update
The Baja Ha-Ha fleet looks impressive from this angle.
© 2021 Richard Spindler

In many years the channel is on the north side of the opening, not the south side. And there is no second entrance. You always follow the lead of the panga fishermen. They know where the channel is. In the above photo, the surf is also quite small. Sometimes it’s larger. And in 2009, it came up to well overhead all across the entrance. Seventy-two Ha-Ha’ers got to spend the night on the beach.

The second photo is of the surreal Ha-Ha party site at Bahia Santa Maria. Notice how green the hillside is. It’s normally not like that, as brown is the official color of Baja. All the green means that a tropical storm or hurricane passed through a month or so before, dumping a ton of rain. But as Heraclitus said, things are never going to be exactly the way they used to be. Often that’s a good thing.

Regardless of its color, Bahia Santa Maria is worth the visit.
© 2021 Richard Spindler

If you’re interested in learning more about the Ha-Ha, the 750-mile cruisers rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, with stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria, visit

We hope you’ll join us.

The Mountain High: Sailing on Scotts Flat Lake

It’s not too often that we venture far from saltwater, but an opportunity to go from the 70° Bay Area to the 100° Sierra foothills to visit our daughter in Nevada City was a good reason to stray from the coast. We were looking for an early-morning mountain bike ride and found a trail called Scotts Flat Lake Mountain Bike Trail, which sounded fun. ‘Early’ turned out to be not quite early enough, as by the time we finished our 12-mile loop, the temperature was already reaching 95°. However, one of the fun things about the ride was that after we emerged from the sculpted, winding, downhill trail, we came across a dry storage area filled with sailboats.

Scott's Flat Lake Dry Storage
Emerging from the woods we found a hot and very dry storage area in the mountains where sailboats outnumbered powerboats.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

We know California is big and there’s always more to discover around every corner, but we continue to be amazed at the places we find sailors when we aren’t looking. Scotts Flat Reservoir is home to the Gold Country Yacht Club, which, judging by their website, looks like a fun, active sailing community in the scenic mountain setting. Though the impact of our drought was apparent, there was still plenty of water to provide warm, breezy afternoon sails.

The club hosts junior programs, club racing, and all the other popular activities of the ‘yachting’ life, though they do it 3,000 feet up in the air in freshwater. If you keep your showers short it will help more kids go sailing.

Bikes and boats at the lake
You can see the water is down, but the boats are afloat and you can choose to ride, or sail, in and around this lake.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Besides Lake Tahoe, there are dozens of idyllic inland sailing areas frequented by dinghy sailors, and, like Scotts Flat and Huntington Lake, they host some pretty serious racing. Climate change is taking a toll on many of these locations, but given their utility and beauty, they’re well worth preserving and exploring.

Scott's Flat sailing swimming water
The lake looked delicious from above on the mountain bike trail.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

One would think you’d capture more water if you built a dam in a place named Scotts Canyon rather than Scotts Flat, but this 1948 water project does provide water for farming, domestic use in Nevada City and Grass Valley, and sailing. Despite the surface’s being flat, the water behind the 300-ft-tall dam is plenty deep.

Sailing from Scott's Flat dam
Just like the Bay. As we rode across the dam later in the morning we saw the first signs of a westerly filling in.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The only thing that really prevents us from seeing and experiencing more of the many sailing opportunities California offers is time. However, we’re always happy when we serendipitously discover sailing at the end of a dusty mountain bike trail, or any other random corner of California.

Oh The Places Speed Can Take You
"I love it when it is really gusty and the waves are really gnarly. There is nothing like kiting off Crissy Field and flying under the Golden Gate Bridge ..."