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August 30, 2021

Hurricane Nora Makes Landfall in Mexico

While the Gulf Coast is being hammered by Hurricane Ida, here on the West Coast Mexico’s Banderas Bay has borne the brunt of Hurricane Nora, as the now-degraded storm tracks northward. We’ve seen many reports of flooding, and damage to structures, and yes, unfortunately some boats. According to a social media post from our friends in La Cruz, all the boats in the marinas and shipyards were safe; however two unattended boats in the anchorage, reportedly Tequila Mockingbird and Lazy Lion, were washed ashore. Two other vessels had remained in the anchorage, and with owners aboard they rode out the storm. This video taken by Catalina Liana has been popping up on several of Facebook’s sailing pages:

We also received reports from previous years’ Baja Ha-Ha sailors who were worried about their own boats that are currently docked in Mexico. Corinthian Yacht Club member Mark Thompson was able to connect with friends at Paradise Village Marina in Puerto Vallarta to hear the news and check on his Catalina 470 Agave Azul. Mark confirmed the news above and shared this report from Darrin Howell in Paradise Village: “We took a walk down to Paradise this morning to check on our boat, and we didn’t see too much other than fallen palms and branches. We saw one boat way down inside that had its jib unfurled and shredded, a few loose boom tents, but no substantial damage. Wet and soggy!”

The well-known and loved Ana Banana has suffered some damage.
© 2021 Photo supplied by Mark Thompson

John Schulthess of the Lagoon 440 Baja Fog told us, “PV has lots of flooding and a couple of boats washed up on the rocks in La Cruz. Profligate was hauled the day before … Barra had some dock fingers come loose; one boat was damaged in that mishap, a few hull scratches where they didn’t have enough fenders out. Also lots of dock boxes that didn’t have their lids locked flew open and actually ripped the boxes free from the docks. Baja Fog lost window coverings, and even though we gave our boat maintenance guy instructions on fenders and what dock lines to snug up, he never got around to it and we ended up with some rub rail damage. Advice … find a sailor in the marina to inspect and adjust your lines while you’re away from your boat.”

Other parts of Mexico have not fared quite as well. A video posted on the Baja Ha-Ha Grand Poobah’s Facebook page showed a house falling into the Pitillal River.

The Associated Press reported on the death of a teenage boy from Spain who was trapped when a hotel in Puerto Vallarta partially collapsed “amid severe flooding” caused by the then-Category 1 hurricane. Seven people are believed to be missing, six of them fishermen who were reported as missing at sea.

As of 3 a.m. today NOAA showed Nora moving northward along the mainland, but her intensity had dropped to sustained winds of 35 knots maximum. She has now been removed from the charts.

Nora is no longer showing on the updated charts.
© 2021 National Hurricane Center

Corresponding Through Satellites and Milky Seas

In January 2019, Dr. Steven Miller — a senior research scientist at Colorado State University — wrote to Latitude with an inquiry: Had anyone ever seen or experienced “Milky Seas,” a rare phenomenon where the entire ocean appears to glow? (This is not to be confused with bioluminescence.)

In March, Murat Albayrak, who resides in Istanbul, Turkey, responded to Miller. “My father is [a] retired captain and this ‘milky sea’ has been part of our family folklore for a long time.” Murat recalled a trip in the early 1970s off the east coast of Africa when “the sea was milky white as far as the eye could see.”

Miller, who is a specialist in satellite observations, has gone on to publish a report that observed a type of ocean bioluminescence “so intense and massive in scale that satellites orbiting five hundred miles high can see glowing mats of microorganisms as they materialize in the seas,” the New York Times reported on Friday. “Last month in the journal Scientific Reports eight investigators told of finding a luminous patch south of Java in 2019 that grew to be larger than the combined areas of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.”

The Milky Seas phenomenon has been caught on camera. “A false-color satellite image of a giant mass of glowing seawater at night, near the island of Java [home to the capital city Jakarta] in Indonesia in August 2019.
© 2021 Steven D. Miller / NOAA
“Sailors have been reporting this phenomenon for centuries,” Latitude wrote in 2011. “Jules Verne made accurate mention of it in his 1869 novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea — but it wasn’t until 2005 that satellite images were discovered to have recorded such an event in the Indian Ocean off Somalia.

“Scientists are so far at a loss to explain the phenomenon.”

The Times said that the recent study “noted that the large concentrations of living lights have long ‘eluded rigorous scientific inquiry, and thus little is known about their composition, formation mechanism, and role within the marine ecosystem.'”

Honing in on a theory, scientists have theorized that certain suspensions of a particular type of bacteria would not emit a gleam, but if those bacteria multiplied, the microbes could light up “as if a switch were thrown,” the Time reported. “Scientists now theorize that the glittering masses of bacteria lure fish, whose guts provide nourishing habitats.” (Miller, who was quoted in the 2011 Latitude article, was at the time skeptical of the bacteria theory, saying an extremely high concentration of bacteria must exist before they begin to produce light.)

The stunning beauty of nature plays out between the ocean and (what are theorized to be) bacteria.
© 2021 BBC Earth

Here are the original letters exchanged between Steven Miller and Murat Albayrak.


I am reaching out with hopes that somehow your seafaring readership can help with some interesting marine research. My name is Steven Miller, and I am a research scientist at Colorado State University. Part of my research involves using satellites to detect marine bioluminescence. In particular, we are searching for ‘milky seas’, which are vast expanses of glowing water. We had a satellite-confirmed sighting in 1995, off the coast of Somalia.

Earlier this year, we think we spotted another one. We are trying desperately to get in touch with the crew of merchant ships that crossed these waters, based on data, but so far we haven’t had much luck. Every once in a while I’ll be contacted by a private sailor who has reported traversing a milky sea. My sense is that there may be some in the Latitude 38 community who have as well.

The first milky-sea findings generated world news-level excitement. We are hoping that the new satellites we have will be able to detect them. If any of your readership are connected to the commercial shipping community, perhaps that would help us get in touch with the crews who were crossing the area of interest back in January 2018 — we have the names of the ships.

Steven Miller

January, 2019

A satellite view of the so-called milky-white blooms in 1999. “Milky seas have eluded rigorous scientific inquiry, and thus little is known about their composition, formation mechanism, and role within the marine ecosystem,” a recent study said.
© 2021


Dear Steven,

I have seen your letter on the Latitude 38. My father is retired captain and this ‘milky sea’ has been part of our family folklore for a long time. My father was the captain on a ship sailing from Israel to South Africa down the east coast of Africa at that time and my mother was accompanying him. When they neared the equator my mother asked my father to alert her when they crossed it and my father joked “as if they were going to mark it for you in white”.

The same evening my mother saw my father rushing down from the bridge into their cabin, flipping excitedly through various books and asked if something was wrong. My father simply said “look through the porthole”. When she peered outside the sea was milky white as far as the eye could see. There was no moon to confuse what they saw. They were sailing in a sea of milk. They took samples from the sea to see if it was a bioluminescence of some sort and if the water in the bucket would also be the same color. It was quite the same ordinary old sea when in the bucket. This situation lasted until the morning and they never experienced it again.

My father was concerned that it was a volcanic event that could have put the ship in jeopardy and researched it. He found similar events mentioned but there was no clear explanation for it.

If you need details of the trip and the ship they were on I am sure him or my mother would be able to provide them since they are in good health and still remember the incidence quite clearly. My father’s name is Kazim Akbayrak, and he was working for OFFER Brothers at that time. I think it was early ’70s. If you could come up with an explanation for this event I would appreciate it if you could let us know as well. This has been one of life’s mysteries for us.

Murat Albayrak

March, 2019

Bill Erkelens on Sustainability Practices

In Latitude 38‘s August issue, Michelle Slade caught up with Bill Erkelens to learn about the future of sustainability in ocean racing. 

We talk about the need to reduce our impact and get to net-zero in 2050 — what will yachting look like then? What will be sailing? What will the boats look like? Good questions to ponder, right?

Bill Erkelens, chief operating officer for 11th Hour Racing Team in the Ocean Race 2022-23, raised these points in a recent conversation around their sustainability program. The team, inspired and supported by its sponsor 11th Hour Racing, not only works to win high-profile ocean racing events, it also works with the sailing community and maritime industries to advance solutions and practices that protect and restore the health of our oceans.

Erkelens profile picture
11th Hour Racing Team COO Bill Erkelens is a Bay Area native.
© 2021 Amory Ross

But what does this really mean, and is the team walking the talk? As Bill explained, the team’s sustainability effort is not just a nod to playing ‘green’. Among the international sailing community, 11th Hour Racing Team is a leading example of how to, at the least, start a sustainable effort inside a sailing organization. Challenged by its sponsors to engage in a more holistic and environmentally supportive approach to everything the team is involved with — from boatbuilding to the oceans it crosses to the events it participates in — the team formed its own sustainability program.

A significant program component was a review of the team’s supply chain, particularly as it pertained to the construction of the IMOCA 60 they are building at CDK Technologies (France). To better understand the environmental impact of the new boat build, the team has been using the MarineShift 360 life cycle analysis (LCA) tool. A specialist student intern has been helping to monitor all aspects of the yearlong manufacturing process, and the team has formed many connections with partners and suppliers, most of whom were keen to cooperate and share information. “The result was a very detailed LCA study, which is now available to other builders and teams to use as a benchmark for future builds,” Erkelens noted.

During lockdown last year, rather than cutting back, 11th Hour Racing supported the team to double down on its sustainability efforts. The result was a turnkey how-to-create-sustainability program, known as the Toolbox, made available as a free community asset to help organizations of any size or sector to design and implement a sustainability program. “The Toolbox has been piloted by organizations including the IMOCA Class, Sport and Sustainability International, World Sailing and SailGP,” Erkelens said. “The Ocean Race is leading this space, requiring teams to account for their greenhouse gas emission footprints, which is the first step to real change.”

11th Hour Racing Team’s first offshore training session while in Newport, Rhode Island, September 23-24, 2020.
© 2021 Amory Ross

Erkelens grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and has been around boatbuilding and boatyards his entire life. Like his wife Melinda, he’s been involved with high-end boat projects and teams for decades, and understands what it takes to build a competitive boat …

Continue reading at

Regattas to Look Forward to in September

Labor Day Weekend

The 26-mile Jazz Cup to Benicia is on for Saturday, September 4. South Beach YC will run the start near Treasure Island, and Benicia YC the finish. Going a step beyond County of Solano requirements, the city of Benicia has enacted an indoor mask mandate. This requirement is more in line with the rest of the Bay Area.

Jazz Cup 2019
The 2019 Jazz Cup sails through the North Bay en route to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The Berkeley YC-hosted Cal Cup Windsurfing Series will conclude on Saturday.

“We are having the Redwood Regatta at our normal site in Big Lagoon on Labor Day weekend, September 3-5,” writes Humboldt YC commodore Bridge Randall. “Camping, food, and of course cool weather guaranteed. Our sailing community is small and a bit ragged, but building enthusiasm. Other than some exciting currents, our little bay is a very safe place to sail. Sort of a micro version of San Francisco Bay.”

Looking in the other direction down the California coast, we see the Finn Pacific Coast Championships on San Diego YC’s calendar for September 4-5.

Week 2 Regattas

SDYC will follow up the aforementioned Finn PCCs with the Finn North American Masters on September 9-12.

The Tahoe Laser Fleet Championship on September 10-12 features a  Friday afternoon fun sail, racing on Saturday and Sunday, and camping. “Typical breeze on Stampede Reservoir is 8-15 knots with larger puffs,” advised Tahoe YC’s Rick Raduziner. “The a.m. is calm, and the breeze fills in around 12 to 1 and sometimes later. The Regatta Headquarter Campsite is #71 at Logger Campground.” However, the Tahoe National Forest is currently closed due to the disastrous wildfires in the region. “If the closure is extended, we will not be able to hold the regatta at Stampede Reservoir,” advises Raduziner. “We are beginning to consider alternate locations, or we may have to cancel in its entirety. Last year our money was refunded in full by the campground when they closed the forest. Regatta fees will also be 100% refunded.”

Updated on September 1: The day after we originally posted this story, we received another message from Rick: “It is with a sad heart that we have to cancel the Tahoe Laser Fleet Championships a second year in a row due to nasty and dangerous wildfires. Nearly all California National Forests are now closed until September 17. And may likely have closure extensions if we do not get some rain. Full refunds will automatically be issued for those who booked campsites from the Forest Service, and we of course will fully refund your regatta fees.”

The YRA rescheduled the final race in their Summer Series from July 24 to September 11. It’s Summer Series #4, the South Bay Races.

The next race in the Singlehanded Sailing Society season will be the Half Moon Bay Race on September 11. This one’s for singlehanders and doublehanders.

Half Moon Bay Race start
The SSS Half Moon Bay Race starts in San Francisco off the Golden Gate Yacht Club.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Richmond YC will go Totally Dinghy on September 11-12. A class must have four or more boats registered by Monday, September 6, to ensure it will receive a start. Otherwise, RYC may assign boats to an Open Class. The Provisional US Sailing Portsmouth handicap rating will apply to any Open Class boats. Register by Thursday, September 9, at 8 p.m. Potrero Reach (in the area known as El Toro Cove) and Keller Cove will be the racing venues.

Regattas Big and Small in the Middle of the Month

Long Beach YC will host the prestigious international match-racing regatta, Congressional Cup, on September 14-19.

There’s still time to sign up for StFYC’s Rolex Big Boat Series, on September 16-19 — but only just barely. No entry will be accepted on or after September 1. As of this morning, 85 boats had registered.

Rolex Big Boat Series at St. Francis Yacht Club dock
On the first morning of the Rolex Big Boat Series, anticipation is in the air.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Coming up at Santa Cruz YC: September 18’s Jack and Jill Regatta will be a counter for the Moore 24 Roadmaster Series, with prizes for everyone. Divisions are offered for Doublehanded, Family & Friends, Spinnaker, and Jib & Main.

Sequoia YC’s Moonlight Marathon will sail from Redwood City to Treasure Island and back on September 18, and RYC will host the Mercury Homecoming Regatta on the same day.

In Late September

Sacramento Sail Week will come to Bridgeway Lakes Park in West Sacramento on September 18-26. This regatta will include National championships for radio-controlled 1-Meter, SeaWind, Canterbury J and Large J classes. Sacramento Model YC and Elk Grove Model YC share hosting duties.

RYC will run the Express 27 Fleet Nationals on September 24-26.

Last week on Friday, we posted a rather thorough preview of September 25’s Doublehanded Farallones Race, which has proven surprisingly controversial (read the story then continue on to the comments section).

Also on September 25, St. Francis YC will host the Joe Logan Regatta for the Mercury fleet and Fall Invitational.

You’ll find many more regattas and events in our Calendar, coming out in the September issue of Latitude 38 tomorrow, Tuesday, August 31.


Note that the Tahoe Laser Championships at Stampede Reservoir have now been canceled due to wildfires in the region. (See above.)

The Perkins Challenge and Leukemia Cup Regatta had been scheduled for October 16-17. However, they’ve been canceled for the second year in a row. “With the progression of the latest phase of COVID-19 and some operating challenges of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, it is clear that we cannot reasonably assure that these events can be presented in a healthy and safe manner while complying with regulations. The Organizing Committee is now focusing on an October 2022 event, and hopes you will join us then,” signed, Leukemia Cup Organizing Committee, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

SFYC has also canceled September 11’s Belvedere Classic and Great SF Schooner Regatta.

In Port Townsend, WA, the Northwest Maritime Center has canceled the Wooden Boat Festival and WA360 Blazer Party, which had been scheduled for the second weekend in September. “Even with the additional safety measures we put in place, every day has brought new cancellations from vendors, presenters and wooden boat owners who remained uncomfortable with the potential risk. We respect and support everyone’s decision to do what’s right for themselves,” says the organization’s official statement.

Hey, it could be much worse. Take New Zealand for instance. Not only has the SailGP New Zealand Grand Prix in Christchurch on January 29-30, 2022, already been canceled, but: “The Yachting New Zealand offices are now closed and staff are all working from home. All yachting and boating clubs should also be closed and activity on the water is prohibited,” advised Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie last week.

Skippers Wanted: US Coast Guard-Licensed Captains for Charters and Private Lessons

Wanted: US Coast Guard-licensed captains for charters and private lessons. For power & sail. Hourly rate from $50 up. Weekend and weekday work available.

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Spinnakers Are a Wrap
"It was an ideal ocean race, oscillating breeze from the northwest, almost directly upwind of the Gate, 8-12 knots. A bit overcast, and cool on the way out.