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October 25, 2021

Storm Again Takes a Toll on Richardson Bay Boats

Yesterday’s storm — also known as a ‘Bomb Cyclone’ — caused blackouts, falling trees, mudslides and the usual havoc associated with Northern California’s worst winter storms. Wind gusts on Mt. St. Helena and Mt. Diablo were recorded at 50-60 miles per hour, and the rainfall total on Mt. Tamalpais was recorded at over 13 inches, causing flooding in Marin. Unfortunately, the storm took its usual toll on boats anchored on Richardson Bay. As we drove down to check lines on our boat in the midst of Sunday’s storm, we passed by three boats and a jet ski that had lost their grip on the seafloor and came ashore in Tiburon.

Sailed up on shore
This boat looked as though it attempted to sail out of danger and landed with a neighboring Whaler
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Beached in Tiburon
It was high tide as this boat was driven high up onto the Tiburon shore.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
As in many Marin towns, all wasn’t well ashore either.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
A screenshot from Windy yesterday at around 10 a.m., as the North Pacific did a brief impression of a low-grade hurricane.
© 2021 Windy
A jet ski and gas can also washed up onto the beach.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Another larger ketch, visible in the background, washed up against the shoreline.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
All looked settled, but getting this boat back afloat may just not be possible.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The bomb cyclone is a type of storm known for its plunging atmospheric pressure, according to the New York Times. Yesterday’s storm drove an ‘atmospheric river’ — a concentrated plume of moisture that extends over the ocean — south of the core of the storm, which took its toll across Northern California. The storm has been categorized as the third-worst to hit the Bay Area. For some the storm has meant the loss of a boat, and for others the loss of a home. Coincidentally, our November issue, being delivered on Monday, November 1, includes a story by Tim Henry updating us on the evolving status of liveaboards and anchor-outs on Richardson Bay.

We can’t speak to the circumstances of each individual boat or boat owner and think it’s tragic for these owners, but also for whoever has to manage the burden of cleanup. Skilled mariners of registered, insured and well-found boats securely moored in Richardson Bay have been a rich part of Sausalito’s maritime culture. Though surely difficult to achieve, we think a well-managed mooring field, similar to what’s offered in San Diego, could provide a way to preserve this maritime heritage while lowering the risk to life and property.

We received a couple of other photos of Bay Area storm scenes.

Jib unfurled.
If you’re near your boat it’s good to drop your jib for these storms or at least wrap a spinnaker halyard around it. This one didn’t make it.
© 2021 Scott Jackson
Vanguard 15
Vanguard 15 fleet captain Sam Wheeler passed along some of the fleet carnage at the TISC dry storage area.
© 2021 Sam Wheeler
J120 Shenanigans
Mike Clarke and crew aboard the J/120 Shenanigans just beat the storm on their way south to the start of the Baja Ha-Ha.
© 2021 Predict Wind

If you have photos or stories from elsewhere in the Bay you can email them here.

Sailing Citizen Scientists Support Manta Ray Research

Alene Rice and Bruce Balan have sailed more than 60,000 miles while living and cruising aboard their California-based Cross 46 trimaran Migration. When we last heard from the couple they were sharing information about the Floating Marine Plastic Debris Accumulation Reporting Tool — a survey that aimed to “understand to what extent satellites can detect floating marine debris” by collating observations at sea and matching them to satellite images. That program was due to end this past summer, but Alene and Bruce are continuing to help support research into the oceans they love, this time through their observations of manta rays.

Manta ray
Up close and personal with a manta ray.
© 2021 Alene D. Rice & Bruce Balan

The couple has been working with the Pacific Manta Research Group to create a citizen science project for sailors in Mexico. The idea is for sailors to observe the magnificent sea creatures and report their findings, such as the location, date and time of the sightings along with the manta’s estimated wingspan, its color, specific markings, and a photo. Taking it one step further, Alene and Bruce created the brochure attached below, which contains all the relevant information and links.

Here is what Bruce has to say about their involvement with the project:

“After spending 17 weeks diving with oceanic manta rays at the Islas Revillagigedo over the past three years, we’ve completely fallen in love with these beautiful and curious fish. An 18-foot manta gracefully gliding inches away, staring directly at us with one of its big black eyes, is truly one of the most powerful and wondrous experiences we’ve ever had.”

Manta ray front
Looking into the eyes of nature.
© 2021 Alene D. Rice & Bruce Balan

“Because mantas can be identified by the spots on their bellies, we began sending our photos to researchers who have been tracking the mantas of Mexico for decades. It occurred to us that hundreds of boats crisscrossing Mexican waters could provide a lot of citizen science research-eyes out in the real world.

“Working with the Pacific Manta Research Group, we created a brochure that we hope will inform and inspire cruisers to keep an eye out for oceanic mantas and report any sightings. The data will be used by researchers to develop maps of the mantas’ migratory routes, and perhaps help create protocols to avoid ship strikes and protect their habitat.”

The manta ray’s wingspan averages 15-16 feet in length (measured from tip to tip) for large females, and is smaller for males.
© 2021 Alene D. Rice & Bruce Balan

Bruce tells us the brochure will be included in the Baja Ha-Ha skippers’ packets. But if you’re not joining the Ha-Ha fleet, you can download the brochure here.

We agree with Alene and Bruce that it’s all for a great cause — helping protect oceanic manta rays — so we hope you’ll join the program and/or share the information with others.

Baja Ha-Ha — Back to the Future

As sailors up and down the West Coast prepare for the 2021 Baja Ha-Ha, we’d like to take our readers back the future with this story in October’s Latitude 38. The number of boats entered in the Ha-Ha has increased over time, with today’s count standing at 194, and in both the September and October issues we shared profiles of some of the sailors who are heading to Mexico with this year’s fleet. Here’s a little of what we learned:

Many have ditched jobs, houses, friends and family back home to take a break from the mayhem on shore as they seek escape, simplicity, and camaraderie while crossing jibes with fellow southbound cruisers. For some, it’s the first leg in a new life and the final leg of a lifelong dream. For others, it’s a spontaneous pivot from a disrupted life back home. Some are taking WFH (work from ‘home’) to the extreme with a new aft-cabin-to-nav-station commute.

The fleet is migrating south through the Channel Islands and Southern California before congregating in San Diego and Ensenada. The annual Halloween-themed Kick-Off Party will actually be held on Halloween this year, the day before the fleet heads past Point Loma to start the 750-mile voyage south. Ready or not, the Mexico cruising season is coming and the people of Mexico are ready to welcome another fleet of Baja Ha-Ha cruisers.

One of the couples you will meet, if you’re joining this year’s Ha-Ha, is Andrew and Laura Park and their Jeanneau SO 440, Ever After. Andrew and Laura both work in the insurance business. Three crew will be joining them, along with Lucy, their Yorkie, who will be overseeing all operations. Andy started sailing 45 years ago in El Toros and Optis. Laura has been sailing for 10 years, beginning with a Ranger 20 on the Columbia River, and living aboard Ever After for the past two years.

Timan Eatherton and Ari Davalos from Sausalito will sail aboard their Allied Princess 36, Hosea. Timan, 37, is a sailboat technician, while spouse Ari is a mystic. It’s always good to have a combo of the practical and the supernatural on a boat. During the past six years, Timan has sailed San Francisco Bay while working as a sailboat technician for Modern Sailing School and Club. His entire focus has been sailing-related, and while he enjoys keeping the 26 sailboats at the school running, his true dream is to slowly cruise around the world.

Timan Eatherton sports his uber-cool sunnies.
© 2021 Baja Ha-Ha

Todd and Shana Forsman and their family will sail south aboard their Hunter Legend 37, Endeavor. Todd, 41, a consultant, and his wife Shana, a physician’s assistant, will be sailing with their daughter Gabriela, 7, and their son Zacharias, 6. How cool is that? They will have two other adult crew. The kids go by Gabby and Zachy, and like all kids they will be looking forward to hanging out with other kids. Maybe even start their own Kids’ Ha-Ha Radio Net. In past Ha-Ha’s, parents weren’t allowed on the kids’ net.

Baja Ha-Ha
Seven-year-old Gabby will surely keep the family fed with her fishing skills.
© 2021 Baja Ha-Ha

These are just three of the profile we’ve shared in the magazine. Go to Latitude 38 to read the full stories of these and other 2021 Ha-Ha sailors.

Looking farther north, we welcome sailors who have had to travel the extra miles to reach San Diego for the start of the Ha-Ha.

What started out as a 10-year goal to go cruising has become a reality in only half the time for Leah and Kyle Mackenzie of the Seattle-based Gulfstar 44 Jubel. In the last three years, they’ve explored the PNW, Canada and as far north as Alaska, all in preparation for a planned circumnavigation. Things have gone so well that now, says Leah, they’re ready for “warmer climates, turquoise water, and palm trees.”

Jubel left Victoria in mid-August, spent September in the Bay and has been proceeding farther south at a semi-leisurely pace, with planned stops in Newport, Dana Point and the Channel Islands. Kyle is already a Ha-Ha veteran, having participated in the 2000 edition with his parents when he was just 10. Leah had no sailing experience until five years ago, when they bought their first boat, an Ericson 29. “I instantly fell in love with the sea,” she says. And the skipper, too — the couple tied the knot aboard Jubel last September.

Scott and Moira Fisher of the Endurance 35 Arctic Willow have a problem that no American Ha-Ha entries have ever had to deal with: At the time of the original writing, the US border was not yet open to ‘non-essential’ boat traffic! Indications, rumors and hopes are that it will have opened on September 21, but, says Scott, the chatter is not too positive on the sailing/cruising blogs that he frequents. “To my knowledge, nobody in this neck of the woods has moved south yet,” he says. While this wrinkle might deter some Canadian cruisers from even coming, Scott and Moira are Mexico cruising veterans, and the lure of mañana-land is strong. If worst comes to worst, Arctic Willow may leapfrog the US West Coast entirely and join the Ha-Ha fleet from Ensenada.

As it turned out, the border closure was extended to October 21. We can only assume that Scott and Moira took the leapfrog option and are safely on their way to Ensenada.


Oil Spill, Lost Containers and a Burning Ship

A few weeks ago we reported on an oil spill as the result of a broken pipeline in Southern California. Now we’re watching a ship that lost 40 containers from its deck and then caught fire. What is going on?

Approximately two weeks after being alerted to an oil spill off Long Beach in early October, the US Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) marine casualty investigators boarded the container ship MSC Danit Saturday, in the Port of Long Beach. According to the USCG media release. “[T]he DANIT was involved in a January 25, 2021, anchor-dragging incident during a heavy weather event that impacted the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The anchor-dragging incident occurred in close proximity to a subsea pipeline, which was subsequently discovered to be the source of the Orange County oil spill on October 2, 2021.”

This is one situation in which tracking the movements of ships across the globe has a longer-lasting impact than simply being able to immediately locate a given vessel. The tracking image, as illustrated on SkyTruth’s Twitter page, shows the Danit repeatedly crossed over the area in which the pipeline damage occurred.

According to a report on G-Captain, divers and OV footage confirmed a 4,000-foot stretch of the San Pedro Bay Pipeline had been displaced by 105 feet. Within that section a 13-inch gash was discovered and identified as the probable source of the oil spill.

As a result, of these findings, “the Coast Guard designated the MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, the operator of the vessel, and Dordellas Finance Corporation, the owner of the vessel, as parties in interest to the marine casualty investigation.

“The ‘party in interest’ designations provide the owner and operator of the MSC DANIT the opportunity to be represented by counsel, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and to call witnesses who are relevant to the investigation.”

The Coast Guard is continuing its investigation into the Orange County oil pipeline major marine casualty, with pipeline scenarios and additional vessels of interest continuing to be investigated.

The latest environmental issue facing the West Coast is the Zim Kingston — a container ship off the coast of Victoria, British Columbia, which has been battling an onboard fire just a day after losing 40 containers into the ocean during high winds in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The fire broke out in 10 shipping containers, at least two of which are believed to contain hazardous materials. The following images are taken from the Canadian coast guard’s Twitter page.

The most recent report from the Canadian coast guard says, “The containers continue to smolder and boundary cooling — spraying water on the hull and on containers near the fire — continues. There are currently no impacts to human health for residents of Greater Victoria but Incident Command continues to monitor the situation.”

Sailors Teaching Sailors
Based on what we are seeing from local sailing organizations' advertising content, and of course scuttlebutt, there appears to be a lack of sailing instructors for adults in the Bay Area.