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July 30, 2021

The Return of the (Green) Buffalo

The handoff of treats out by Point Bonita. The Green Buffalo delivery crew, left to right: Jeff Vierstra of Seattle, Ian Matthew of Novato and Jim Quanci of San Francisco.
© 2021 Wayne Koide

“After 16 days and plenty of fresh albacore, Jim Quanci and his crew returned Green Buffalo to her slip on C Dock at the Richmond Yacht Club,” writes Wayne Koide. “They were greeted and escorted back by enthusiastic RYC members in their boats near Pt Bonita. One transferred a bag of goodies to the crew of three. They seemed to enjoy the cannolis!”

Jim with champagne bottle
Among the goodies, a bottle of bubbly.
© 2021 Wayne Koide

“This journey commenced only six days after Jim had completed this year’s Singlehanded Transpacific Race from San Francisco to Hanalei Bay, in Kauai,” explained Wayne. “Amid the champagne and cheers of greeters surrounding his venerable Cal 40, smiling Jimmy Q. took it all in stride. He displayed what was left of his shy kite and a mangled block — he ran into one of eight squalls (in a 24-hour period!) as he approached within 600 miles of the Hawaiian Islands.”

Jim with broken block and torn spinnaker
Back at the dock with souvenirs of a trip to Hawaii.
© 2021 Wayne Koide

We recap the SHTP race in the August issue of Latitude 38 — hitting the docks today! See results here.

You can look at the sailors’ tracks from five of the return deliveries here, including Green Buffalo. The other four are still offshore as of this morning.

Latitude 38’s August Issue Has Arrived!

Can you believe another month has passed? It feels as if this year is passing very quickly, but in at least one respect that’s OK, because it means we get to share another issue of Latitude 38 magazine with you! Here’s a preview of what’s inside the August issue:

Confessions of a Trailer Sailor

“If it were lush and rich, one could understand the pull, but it is fierce and hostile and sullen. The stone mountains pile up to the sky and there is little fresh water. But we know we must go back if we live, and we don’t know why.” — John Steinbeck, from The Log from the Sea of Cortez

This is the introduction to Erin Quinn and Roderick Treece’s story about sailing aboard their Catalina 22, Minnie.

“The Sea of Cortez first appears glimmering like a mirage from the desert floor abutting the eastern edge of the Sierra. With sailboat Minnie in tow, we made our way south, appreciating the wide shoulders of the new road through San Felipe. Although the highways of Baja California can sometimes be narrow and rough, for trailer sailors willing to make the journey, the experience of sailing the Sea of Cortez, with its hundreds of islands, deserted beaches, abundant wildlife, and challenging sailing, is unforgettable.”

The Minnie rig. The cruise in this story covered about 120 miles in eight days on the water, and two days driving each way.
© 2021 Minnie

Baptism by Ditch

Mark Hilden (affectionately known as Cousin Mark at Morro Bay Yacht Club) and I own Janina. She is a green-hulled, white-bottomed Santa Cruz 27, hull #130. We race in PHRF out of Morro Bay, and trailer to regattas about once a year when our busy lives allow. We have always wanted to do the Delta Ditch Run and this year we were convinced, with the encouragement of Tom Jenkins (Errant Belle, Elliott 770), who has done multiple Ditch Runs in multiple different boats he has owned. We were very fortunate to receive Tom’s travel tips and his Navionics route. Among those tips, he stressed that we should stay in the channel in deep water and constantly check our depth gauge. In fact, he said, that was Cardinal Rule #1.

We should have paid more attention to this advice, but we will get to that later.

Latitude 38's August issue
Janina was hardly the only boat doing the broach boogie in this year’s race.
© 2021 Lyn Hines

Rocket Scientists — Space Age Sailors

Not to question the inimitable James T. Kirk, but is space really the final frontier? For some satellite engineers with ties to Bay Area sailing and one another, space and sailing seem to go hand in hand.

Dan Newland became a self-proclaimed space nerd early on, as his Houston high school was across the street from NASA, and many of his sailing buddies had NASA associations. His daily school bus route passed by Neil Armstrong’s home, and his best friend’s father was Donn Eisele Sr., who flew on Apollo 7.

In addition to keeping “piles of everything NASA would send out,” young Dan was also obsessed with building. Fortunately, his parents supported their son’s “hobby” by providing whatever materials he needed for his various projects. “I built my first model airplane before I could read, and took my first flying lesson and landed a plane when I was 9.”

Dan Newland’s homebuilt, radio-controlled racing sailboat.
© 2021 Dan Newland

Plus all your favorite reads:

  • Letters: Discussions about broken and discarded boats abound  this month, along with stories and sage advice about split rings and masts.
  • Max Ebb: Classic Windows
  • “Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race — All Wrapped Up”
  • Sightings: “Heading South on San Francisco Bay”; “Teaching Beyond Sailing — Lessons Learned”; “Good Jibes”; and more.
  • Racing Sheet: ILCA (Laser) North Americans; Fresno YC High Sierra Regatta; and other racing.
  • Loose Lips, in which we announce July’s Caption Contest(!) winner; and
  • The sailboat owners and buyers’ bible, Classy Classifieds.

Pick up your copy at your nearest or favorite distributor. Or, if you haven’t already, subscribe for home delivery.

San Francisco on the Bay: Dock, Dine, Stay, Play

The List: Dine, Drink, Smoke, Stay, Play and Shop. Discover San Francisco Bay and all that inspires those of us who live or visit here.

 

Coquelicot’s Debut Cruise in the Delta

Ranger 33 anchored out
The Ranger 33 Coquelicot anchored out in Bedroom 1 earlier in July.
© 2021 Coquelicot

“Our first Delta trip was amazing,” write Paul Hollenbach and Jessica Spenchian of the Berkeley-based Ranger 33 Coquelicot. “We had such a great time. Warm, fresh water; warm nights. We had a great jib-only sail all the way to Potato Slough. And the return trip wasn’t bad at all.”

Three inflatable rings
Remember to bring plenty of water toys!
© 2021 Coquelicot

“We signed up for the Delta Doo Dah and gained tons of great info for our first-time adventure. Thanks!”

Kid swinging out over the water
Keeping the kids busy is easy in the Delta during the summer. He’ll sleep well tonight. Sailing with the parents were Raymond, age 7, and Sylvia, 9.
© 2021 Coquelicot

The Delta Doo Dah will continue to accept registrations throughout August. Sign up here; it’s free and easy. Our next official event will be tomorrow in conjunction with Owl Harbor’s tenant BBQ. The theme this year is Color Rhapsody. We’re pretty sure the marina is completely booked up for this event. There’s still space, however, for Doo Dah sailors at Delta Bay Marina’s BBQ on August 14. We’ll have more information on that party in this space next week.

Sunset
High clouds make for a gorgeous sunset. Despite wildfires elsewhere in the state, the air quality in the California Delta has been good this month.
© 2021 Coquelicot

‘All Is Lost’ Is All but Universally Despised by Sailors

A few weeks ago, we posted the image below on our Facebook page and said, “Here’s an exceptionally easy, ‘Name that Sailing Movie!’ What are your thoughts on this film?”

All Is Lost
All Is Lost
© 2021 Lionsgate

An astonishing 94 people responded, with — and this is roughly accurate — about 94% of the comments sounding something like this: “Worst sailing movie ever. How many bad choices can you make?” said Michael Harlow. “An insult to sailors. I could only stand 20 minutes of watching before I had to turn it off,” agreed Bob Amis.

“A monkey would have made better self-rescue decisions! Worst sailing movie ever!” said JC Dva. “Tried twice, didn’t get past the first 20 minutes,” Adam Hauck echoed. “Terrible, and I know it’s Hollywood and we sailors should let some things slide … but, it was terrible and I highly do not recommend it. Captain Ron is more believable (and actually fairly accurate).”

“My thoughts are the director should have talked to a sailor,” Phil MacFarlane commented. “I yelled at the TV so much!” said Nadine Hendricks. “That movie was so bad and unrealistic that it does not deserve to be called a sailing movie,” said Mark Henry Sahs.

So … that’s a thumbs-down for All Is Lost?

We did not care for the movie either, but fear not, for all is not lost in the discussion of this film, which may have some redeemable aspects, namely an awesome — and near- silent — performance by Robert Redford.

Can Robert Redford spot the growing tempest of unflattering, even irate, comments about his 2013 film?
© 2021 Courtesy Lionsgate

All Is Lost opens with water rushing across the cabin sole as Redford, who is only referred to as Our Man in the credits, naps on a bunk. The first few seconds of the film actually do what movies can do so well: start the action and conflict instantly. Our Man leaps out of his bunk to find that a container has penetrated his boat, just aft of the beam. I remember feeling terrified for the character. As Our Man got busy doing some serious fiberglass repair, All Is Lost had successfully hooked me.

Bummer. Also, how did a hull-piercing collision happen at this angle? And with no wind? Sailors were immediately tasked with suspending their disbelief.
© 2021 Courtesy Lionsgate / placesjournal.org

Not long after the collision, a storm is a-brewin’. As the wind starts to howl and the seas start to rattle the boat, Our Man prepares, and eventually goes to the head for a shave. “I still climb my mast whenever I think a storm is coming and then immediately prepare by shaving,” Dave Santangelo wrote sarcastically.

Actually, I liked this part. I appreciated Our Man’s calm, and his let’s-do-it-with-some-style attitude. This, too, is what movies can do so well: show what a character is thinking in small, subtle moments. At this point in the movie, I remember being right there with Our Man. I was scared for him, and I was rooting for him. I even admired his “resourcefulness,” even though it wasn’t rooted in practical seamanship. And I appreciated the film’s ambition and unique perspective.

Like Odysseus desperately struggling to get home, Our Man fights to survive.
© 2021 Courtesy Lionsgate / heyuguys.com

If I didn’t scream at the screen during the storm, I definitely threw up my arms in disgust. The boat rolled and rolled, and Our Man was dragged underwater for what felt like long moments.

The storm is where I was, well, lost. In an instant, All Is Lost went from a gritty indie flick to a Hollywood special-effects orgy. But the story also veered: At first, we were following a sailor surviving on their wits, and doing a decent job. Once the storm hit, Our Man’s fate was no longer in his hands; Our God took over the movie. (By the way: If the skipper’s hull repair — which became an irrelevant detail — withstood a storm that the entire boat could not, then Our Man is the greatest fiberglasser in sailing history.)

“The boat is almost an abstract idea — a womb or a cocoon, a place of safety and security while the world rages outside,” All Is Lost’s production designer said.
© 2021 Courtesy Lionsgate / placesjournal.org

My intellect now tuned out; my memory of the rest of the film is spotty. Didn’t Our Man putter along on his dismasted boat — a Cal 39, as many of you pointed out — before another storm sank it for good? The skipper ended up in a raft. “My favorite part is when [Our Man] grabs a yellow duffel with one hand, casually walks aft with it, and places it on a settee,” Bryan Chavez commented. “The camera zooms in and it’s labeled ‘life raft.’ Later he’s in a 12- person life raft.”

Well, at least Our Man has room enough to teach himself celestial navigation. He manages to drift toward a shipping channel. Ships pass him by. He burns his rubber raft down. Our Man sinks underwater, fading into the black. I remember being relieved and thinking, “This poor bastard has been through enough.”

But then, a boat approaches, and a hand reaches underneath the water . . .

Roll credits.

Our Man, destined to be lost … and found.
© 2021 Courtesy Lionsgate / placesjournal.org

“Guys! Before you call this movie stupid: This is not a sailing movie. Think about it: It is about man’s life. Any man’s life,” Giorgi Muchaidze wrote on our Facebook page, as All Is Lost was getting decimated by commenters. Giorgi continued his eloquent, insightful analysis: “You wake up one morning to discover that your boat (job, family, relationship, health, etc.) is sinking. You do what you have to do, but more is coming. Nobody hears you (broken radio is a metaphor, guys). Society ignores you even when you are right there screaming for help (the passing container ship is a metaphor, guys!). And when all is lost, it takes another human being, a stranger, who reaches down to you and saves your life.

“Now tell me this never happened to you.”

Metaphors abound: What do a sinking body, a flaming doughnut (that’s the life raft) and a shaft of light represent? Whatever you want it to.
© 2021 Courtesy Lionsgate / placesjournal.org

All Is Lost was both a box-office and a critical success; it has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “After the film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, Robert Redford reportedly received a standing ovation. Critics everywhere saw metaphors and symbolism, and universally praised Redford’s performance.

“My fellow sailing experts and I saw things differently, however,” Mary Alice Miller wrote in a 2013 article in Vanity Fair, perhaps speaking for a plurality of sailors. “To us, it was apparent that Our Man would have fared better if he’d avoided some rudimentary errors.”

You might be surprised to learn that All Is Lost writer/director J.C. Chandor is not a stranger to boats. “I grew up sailing; I had a background in it,” Chandor told the Nashville Scene in 2013. “I had done one open-ocean sail like this, but not alone. So I went on this trip, and then the last two days, we did get caught in something similar to this, and those fears and feelings stuck with me, and I don’t think I’d realized that there was this tremendous combination of claustrophobia and total openness.”

One commenter wrote on our Facebook page: “This was the … stupidest movie I ever saw. Robert Redford should be ashamed for being involved with such garbage.”

I disagree — I’m glad that J.C. Chandor and Robert Redford strove to tell the story of Our Man. Redford actually suffered permanent hearing loss during the shooting of the the storm scenes, where he was blasted with a fire hose over multiple takes. As fun as it is to disparage a film — far more fun than singing its praises — it’s easy to lose sight of the hard work, sacrifice, and personal passion that goes into making movies.

But please, consult a sailor! No, a movie doesn’t have to be 100% accurate to sailing, or whatever aspect of reality the story is rooted in. But a movie should have one foot planted in metaphors and symbolism, and the other in some adherence, however minor and perfunctory, to the rules of the real world.

Join the National Hurricane Center’s Weather Forecasting Webinars

We received the following notice about next week’s National Hurricane Center webinars. Both look as if they’ll be of value to anyone who spends time on or near the water.

The National Hurricane Center will be hosting their second annual live webinar on weather forecasting geared toward blue water mariners. These are available for up to 250 mariners with no cost to participants through GoToMeeting video conferencing. To sign up, register online at the links shown below.

Hurricane Analysis and Prediction – Register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1007913929576201997

Noon – 1 p.m. (EDT) Wednesday, August 4th

Dr. Mike Brennan, Chief, Hurricane Specialist Unit, National Hurricane Center

The Hurricane Specialist Unit (HSU) of the National Hurricane Center maintains a continuous watch on tropical cyclones and areas of disturbed weather within the North Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. The HSU prepares and issues analyses and forecasts in the form of text advisories and graphical products, issues coastal tropical cyclone watches and warnings for the United States and its Caribbean territories, and provides impact-based decision support services for federal, state, and local government partners. HSU also coordinates with and provides watch and warning recommendations to other World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Region IV meteorological services. The HSU also conducts an extensive outreach and education program, training U.S. emergency managers, the media, and representatives from many other countries affected by tropical cyclones.

Wind and Wave Prediction – Register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7528406009892549645

Noon – 1 p.m. (EDT) Thursday, August 6th.

Dr. Chris Landsea, Chief, Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch, National Hurricane Center

The Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB) within the National Hurricane Center makes forecasts of wind speeds/wave heights and issues wind Warnings year-round for 10,000,000 square nautical miles over the Atlantic Ocean north of the equator to 31°N and west of 35°W (including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea) as well as the eastern North Pacific Ocean north of the equator to 30°N. These wind Warnings include tropical storms and hurricanes as well as winter storms, tradewind gales, and severe gap-wind events (for example, the “Tehuantepecers” south of Mexico). TAFB provides these forecasts under the auspices of both the U.S. National Weather Service and the International Maritime Organization. This presentation will review the analyses and forecasts that are currently provided 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, as well as our impact-based decision support services for the U.S. Coast Guard, which relies upon the National Weather Service for weather forecasts and briefing support.

Climb Aboard for Latitude 38’s September Crew List Party!

Latitude 38 Crew List Party

 

Join us for an evening of fun, merriment and general chit-chat about everyone’s favorite topic. Oh, and you can also find crew or a boat to sail aboard.

Put your name on Latitude 38‘s Crew List, then get your ticket for the party-est party of the year!