We blinked, and suddenly it’s fall! Where has the year gone? We expect we’re not alone in our surprise; summer’s seemingly endless wind-filled days are giving way to the calmer, quieter October season. But that doesn’t mean sailing is over — no, not at all. This is the Bay Area, and we are in the enviable position of being able to enjoy being on the water through all the seasons. We just need to adjust our sails a little. And adjusting our sails has evolved as a theme in our October issue of Latitude 38.
In this month’s magazine we share the story of two teenagers who adjusted their course from attending college in Oregon to sailing to Hawaii; we recount this year’s Rolex Big Boat Series, which had to adjust to health regulations, as did the Delta Doo Dah cruising rally; and Max Ebb gives us a lesson in adjusting spinnakers. Here are a few previews to get you started.
In 2020, Bella Siegrist and Tyler Savage were completing high school and planning to attend college in Bend, Oregon, when suddenly, the world shut down due to COVID-19. The 19-year-old students had the option to attend online classes from their home in San Diego or to wait out the pandemic and find something else to do in the meantime. Despite being in the perfect environment for endless days of sailing fun, they opted to sail to Hawaii together aboard a 1964 Cascade 29. The couple spent 21 days at sea, and gained a lifetime’s worth of experience.
St. Francis Yacht Club’s Rolex Big Boat Series on September 16-19 had a full bucket: bone-chilling wind, the ubiquitous fog, drizzle, gusts and shifts, blowing mist, calms, sparkling sun, rainbows, puffy clouds, ebb chop and sea spray. It even rained on Saturday night.
Although the first race of each day is usually held in lighter wind, Thursday’s Race 1 had plenty of pressure, in the low to mid-teens, and it built from there. The windy conditions continued on Friday, taking a toll on spinnakers. As we shivered in the late afternoon breeze at the Mt. Gay Rum Party, Pearl Prisco from the Melges 32 Nuckelavee told us, “It’s been wet, with wave after wave washing over us.”
How lucky are we? We’re lucky to have the vast California Delta right out our back door. Lucky to have such a lightly populated playground so close to the crowded and hectic San Francisco Bay Area. Lucky to trade chilly summer fog for sun-drenched blue skies. Lucky to still be offering the Delta Doo Dah cruising rally after 13 years in which so much has changed, and yet so much (in the Delta, anyway) has stayed the same.
For the second year in a row, we kicked off the Delta Doo Dah cruising rally via Zoom — keeping everyone safe from COVID-19 and complying with state and county health orders at the time — on May 4. Fleet members Craig and Ann Perez of the Richmond Yacht Club-based Express 34 Marrakesh presented their excellent Delta Cruising Seminar. With plenty of opportunity for questions and discussions, it was an informative and entertaining evening. Thanks to donations from Owl Harbor, the California Delta Chambers, fleet member Catherine Miskow of Cardinal Rule and Summer Sailstice, we were able to award a few coveted door prizes.
The sound of splintering wood got my attention — but there wasn’t enough wind for a hard docking on this calm and clear morning. Only a slight hint of a sea breeze, promising a cool afternoon that would keep the marina comfortable despite the high-temperature warnings posted for later in the day.
The splintering wood sound was followed by some high-pitched and high-volume human voices issuing sail handling instructions, dispensed with much urgency. I looked up from my varnish project and saw a small sport boat in a narrow marina fairway, under spinnaker only, no mainsail set, brought up onto a tight reach to avoid hitting the boats on the downwind side. The boat’s maneuvers were complicated by the fact that the spinnaker was only at about half hoist, and the boat was towing a large log.
The October issue also includes all your regular favorites:
- Letters: Speaking of Unfortunate Twists of Fate; But We’re so Close to Our Slip; More Memories of Wander Bird, and more …
- Feature: The Baja Ha-Ha Goes Back to the Future
- Sightings: “From Catching Fish to Catching Wind,” “On a Power Trip — A System Upgrade,” plus other stories.
- Changes in Latitudes: Breaking Free; Going Solo; Getting the Ducks in a Row, and that’s not all!
- Loose Lips, in which we announce September’s Caption Contest(!) winner.
- The sailboat owners and buyers’ bible, Classy Classifieds.
As it’s Friday, and we know you’ll be wanting to go sailing, or to buy parts for your boat, or even to buy a boat, here are a couple of locations from which you can pick up your October Latitude 38.
In past we’ve shared a few stories about Saildrone, the Bay Area boatbuilding company that has built a number of uncrewed surface vehicles (USV) that travel the world’s oceans collecting data. The most recent news we shared about Saildrone was regarding its 72-ft craft, the Saildrone Surveyor. This particular USV was equipped for high-resolution mapping of the ocean seafloor. This week we learned that a USV has been capturing footage from inside the eye of Hurricane Sam, currently situated off the USA’s East Coast.
We found the following video clip accompanying description on Saildrone’s Instagram page.
View this post on Instagram
We think it’s fair to say that many of our readers have experienced sailing in a storm. But how many of us have sailed through a hurricane, and had the time and stomach to watch the ocean and the weather at the same time?
In June this year, Saildrone announced that it would send five USVs into the Atlantic’s hurricane zones. Here is what they wrote about their mission:
“Saildrone USVs are highly maneuverable, wind- and solar-powered vehicles designed for long-range data collection missions. Saildrone USVs are the only autonomous vehicle that can collect meteorological and environmental data above and below the sea surface and withstand the extreme winds and sea state present during a hurricane.
“The vehicles will be deployed from the US Virgin Islands and equipped with ruggedized ‘hurricane wings’ designed especially for operating in winds over 70 mph and waves over 10 feet.
“‘The new hurricane wing is a game-changer for the collection of in situ data in the most extreme weather conditions on earth,’ said Richard Jenkins, Saildrone founder and CEO. ‘Saildrone will be able to go where no scientific vessel has ever ventured, right into the eye of the hurricane, and gather data that could make communities around the world safer from these destructive storms.'”
Although we aren’t scientists and therefore are largely unable to determine anything significant from watching the footage above, we do think it’s pretty cool.
Suisun City Marina lies on the edge of one of the Delta’s hidden gem cities, Suisun City. For much of 2020, the marina, like many other facilities in the world, was mostly closed. Fortunately for the staff, the office was still “open,” albeit behind closed doors. The city-owned marina was experiencing a severe downturn in business, and those sailors and boaters who did venture forth for some time on the water had to book ahead and “let themselves in” or make an appointment. Now, however, the tides have turned and Suisun City Marina is again open for business as usual (keeping in mind what “business as usual” means these days).
“Everything was done remotely,” Suisun City Marina and Waterfront Events Manager Janet Hull told us. “People would book online through Dockwa.com or Marinas.com and we’d leave the keys in the dock box, or they’d arrange a time to pick them up.”
One of the indicators of a busier and more active community, apart from boats showing up at the dock, is that the marina is once again stocking bundles of Latitude 38 magazines (stand by for shameless self-promotion). Janet said they would have one or two people knock on the door from time to time to ask for the magazine, but not enough to warrant stocking them. But now that more people are moving around again, the marina is happily receiving and distributing the issues.
While visitor numbers have certainly improved, Janet speculates that people are still hesitant,”or they’re used to not going anywhere.”
To help keep everyone’s spirits alive during what has been an arguably dark time, the marina hosted a few socially distanced events for their patrons and occasional guests. During the summer they held a concert series, and in late spring they hosted a Boat-In Movie night, featuring Jaws.
“People tied up at the dock or anchored a little farther out. We erected a 36-ft inflatable screen and transmitted the sound through FM radio. People then tuned in on their FM radio.”
The movie night turned out to be a great success despite its small audience. And even the weather cooperated, failing to deliver the strong winds forecast in a small craft advisory.
Suisun City Marina is now seeing the improvements on a greater scale as events return to the city itself. “We have a guest dock where people can tie up and walk to downtown for restaurants, and this weekend there is a car show in town,” Janet added.
If you’re looking for new places to visit, and you’ve never been to this corner of California, check it out. Here’s a map to help you find your way.
As they have since before the Baja Ha-Ha even existed, Downwind Marine on Cañon Street near Shelter Island in San Diego will help cruisers prepare to cast off for Mexico with a series of educational seminars. The schedule is timed for the convenience of Baja Ha-Ha sailors, but the content is designed for all southbound cruisers.
- Monday, October 18: Arno Chrispeels, president, HealthIsInternational.com
International Health and Evacuation Insurance Options for Cruisers
- Tuesday, October 19: Capt. Ann Kinner, USCG Master and owner of SeaBreeze Nautical Books & Charts
The Cruiser’s Library and Update on NOAA/International Charts
- Wednesday, October 20: Capt. Dietmar Petutschnig, president, Good Nautical and founder, Panama Posse
Meet the Panama Posse — Cruising the American Tropics
- Thursday, October 21: Bruce Brown, US Sailing Safety at Sea moderator and USCG trainer
Safety Preparedness and a Safety Mindset Are Essential in Cruising — Train for Both
- Friday, October 22: Damien Frye, National Channel Manager, Vesper Marine
AIS Was Built for Cruisers Too — AIS Function and Benefits
- Monday, October 25:Tim Gaub, aailmaker and manager, Doyle Sails
Downwind Sailing — Tips and Sail Selection for Boat Speed and Sail Repair at Sea
- Tuesday, October 26: Tom Teevin, outboard motor mechanic and college automotive educator
Maintaining Your Outboard Motor While Cruising in Mexico
- Wednesday, October 27: Capt. Pat Rains, USCG Master and author/publisher of Mexico Cruising Guides
Cruising Mexico and Beyond
- Thursday, October 28: Chef Melanie D. Cady, Certified French Chef and owner, Gourmet Galley Wench
Review of Essential Galley Tools and Pressure Cooking Aboard
- Friday, October 29: Dick & Gina Markie, harbormaster, Paradise Village Marina, Nuevo Vallarta
Annual Update on Cruising Mexico — Everything You Need to Know and More
All seminars begin at 6 p.m.; the doors open at 5:45. Each costs $3 per person to attend.