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January 12, 2022

West Coast Sailing Pioneer Donald Goring Homeless After Boat Fire

At around 10 a.m. on Monday, Donald Goring was taking a walk when his home of 30 years was destroyed by fire. The 93-year-old, who had lived aboard at the Fifth Avenue Marina since 2010, has now lost pretty much everything except the clothes he was wearing. Donald was an avid Bay Area sailor and racer, and founder of the Midget Ocean Racing Association (MORA). He was also a sailmaker, and opened his own loft at 730 Polk Street in San Francisco in the late ’60s.

Boat Fire
It is believed the fire was started by an electrical fault.
© 2022 Jeff Berman

According to a report in the East Bay Times, the Oakland Fire Department was called to the blaze at 10 a.m.. Crews from three engines and one truck took around 30 minutes to put out the fire. In that time, Donald’s boat was completely gutted.

Donald’s boat at its slip after the fire.
© 2022 John Fredricks
Nothing remains save charred woodwork and a brass stove in the corner.
© 2022 John Fredricks

Fifth Avenue Marina’s harbormaster, Bud Brown, was concerned for Donald’s safety, and went aboard the boat during the fire to look for him.

“I didn’t know whether he was on the boat or not, so I was trying to go and see if he was there. It was too smoky and unbelievably hot. It burnt all the hair off my arms. I figured if he was down there he was a goner. I pumped four fire extinguishers into it and a lot of water from the hose, and didn’t even slow it down. I felt the propane tank and it was really hot, and [I] thought it was going to explode and got everyone away from the boat. As you saw, it blew shortly afterward. They didn’t get the big explosion on film though. It was big. What was on film was just the venting. An interesting day for sure.“

The upside to this story is that Donald was not aboard the boat when it caught fire.
© 2022 John Fredricks
This painted tile is the only thing of value salvaged from Donald’s boat, Lipstick Liz.
© 2022 John Fredricks

Donald and his caregiver, John Fredricks, are currently staying in a hotel in Alameda while waiting for Donald’s passport to arrive. On Friday John will accompany Donald to Florida, where Donald’s son lives.

Donald’s friends have organized a BBQ going-away party for him at Fifth Ave. on Thursday at 2 p.m. John is asking everyone to write a poem for Donald, or to read him one of their choosing.

John has also created a GoFundMe page with the hope of collecting enough funds to help Donald settle into his new life in Florida. An update on the page says that Donald is finally beginning to realize what happened and that he’ll no longer be able to live on his boat.

John says Donald is currently in good spirits, but that the adjustments will be challenging.
© 2022 John Fredricks

We wish all the best to this West Coast sailing pioneer. He will no doubt be missed.

Jeff Berman captured the following video of the fire from across the water.

Good Jibes #22 with Moe Roddy and Ashley Perrin

Welcome to Good Jibes, Episode 22! This week’s host, Moe Roddy, is joined by Ashley Perrin to chat about her lessons from racing around the world and sailing the coldest parts of the world. Ashley is a professional racer who has sailed over 130,000 ocean miles and spent 25 years in offshore command. She owns Racing Yacht Management and also serves as an ice pilot and Antarctic expedition officer. Hear how to navigate icebergs, stay safe in risky sailing environments, sail across oceans, about doublehanding vs. singlehanding, and stories from diving in Antarctica. This episode covers everything from freezing-cold waters to sailing by yourself.

Ashley Perrin
At minute 17:06 learn about Ashley’s motivation to study geography and oceanography in school.
© 2022 Ashley Perrin

Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How old was Ashley when she started sailing?
  • Did her family move to the UK at some point?
  • When was the first time she was offshore in command?
  • Why does she like doublehanding?
  • How did she become an ice pilot?
  • Was there ever a time she was really scared on the water?
  • How do you anchor around icebergs?
  • Short Tacks: Favorite food to eat offshore?

Learn more at

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re feeling the Good Jibes!

US Sailing Honors California Sailors for Rescues

The US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee awarded the prestigious Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to two California crews who performed man-overboard rescues during races in 2020 and 2021.

The committee awards the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to skippers and/or crews of pleasure boats or race support vessels who rescue victims from the water. The award recognizes the significant accomplishment in seamanship that has saved a life. The committee also uses it to collect case studies in rescues for analysis, which will eventually be incorporated into US Sailing’s extensive educational programs.

Crew of Horizon Recognized in Coastal Cup Regatta Rescue

Len Bose, Peter Heck, Steve Natvig, Chris Vilicich, James Malm, Kenneth Sherb and Taylor Schlub received the medal for their quick response in saving John Shulze, the owner of Horizon, the Santa Cruz 50 on which they were racing. Shulze fell overboard on the evening of May 31, 2021, during the Coastal Cup race from Monterey to Santa Barbara.

Horizon on San Francisco Bay
The SC50 Horizon starts the 2021 California Offshore Race Week. The Coastal Cup is the second leg in the series.
© 2022 Fred Fago

Horizon and a competitor converged on Point Conception. Horizon made the call to jibe back into the breeze to maintain an advantage. The spinnaker clew made it past the headstay but the main had not completed the jibe when a 25-knot puff hit the boat. The mainsail suddenly jibed at the same time the chute filled. Horizon rounded up into the wind violently, throwing John overboard.

The crew quickly got Horizon under control and deployed a Lifesling to facilitate the rescue. After several attempts to maneuver the boat close enough to John, the crew were finally successful in retrieving him after Steve Natvig donned an inherently buoyant lifejacket and swam out to rescue John.

Read the full details of the incident.

Horizon Crew
The crew of Horizon receives their awards. Left to right: Len Bose, Steven Natvig, Jamie Malm, John Shulze, Taylor Schlub, Kenneth Sherb, Chris Vilicich.
© 2022 US Sailing

Crew of Sea Maiden Recognized in Race Your Own Household Rescue

Carolyn Sherman, Sandra Sherman and Brian Fritzges, crew of Sea Maiden, an Ericson 35, made a quick response in saving Mike Dore. Mike fell overboard during the August 29, 2020, Stephanie Jean Navirdes Memorial Race Your Own Household race on northern San Diego Bay.

Sandra and Carolyn Sherman with Bruce Brown
Sandra and Carolyn Sherman with Bruce Brown, of Costa Mesa, from the US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee.
© 2022 US Sailing

Dore, a competitor in the race, was singlehandling his Hunter 28.5 Decoy. He fell overboard when a shackle pin on a lifeline came out while he was putting up the whisker pole.

The skipper of Sea Maiden, Carolyn Sherman, with crew Sandra Sherman and Brian Fritzges, were sailing abeam approximately three to four boatlengths away. Because Mike was sailing alone, not only was he in the water, but his boat was sailing unattended toward Harbor Island. Brian Fritzges dove into the bay to assist Mike. Carolyn and Sandra continued sailing toward Mike’s boat to get it under control.

Sea Maiden was able to overtake Decoy. Sandra jumped onto Mike Dore’s boat and took control of the unmanned vessel. Meanwhile, another competitor, Roy Mumma, sailed past on Bolero and retrieved Mike Dore and Brian Fritzges from the water.

Know of a sailor or boater who facilitated the rescue of another on the water? Nominate them for the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal here.

RORC Transatlantic Navigators’ Nightmare: The Big Blue Hole

The big blue blobs move around like the oils in a lava lamp, and your goal is to slide by on the fastest side of the blobs. At least that’s how it looks to us as we watch the tracker for the RORC Transatlantic Race, currently underway from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands across to Grenada. Traditionally, racers head south to the easterly trade winds and zip across while searching for the best breeze angles crossing the Atlantic. This year the trade winds look weak, and the windless blue blobs have made it very difficult for navigators to find their way to breeze. We grabbed some screenshots from the past few days to give you a feel for it.

RORC Transatlantic
Would you head north or south at the start with those weak trade winds and light airs ahead? The lead MOD 70s headed north.
© 2022 RORC Transatlantic
RORC Transatlantic
The MOD 70s made it to the breeze while the big blue crown was Comanche hanging out in the blue blob.
© 2022 RORC Transatlantic
RORC Transatlantic
South was looking ugly, north pretty fast, but getting there very difficult for those stuck in the blue blob.
© 2022 RORC Transatlantic
RORC Transatlantic
About the time Club 5 Oceans was going 3.7 knots, Comanche was going 9 knots and the MOD 70s were going 24 knots.
© 2022 RORC Transatlantic
RORC Transatlantic
The northerly boats found the breeze and have been making their way south, but it still looks messy. Eugenia V is still heading south, praying for those nonexistent trades.
© 2022 RORC Transatlantic
RORC Transatlantic
The purple crown on the left is Peter Cunningham’s Powerplay, with Argo and Maserati in hot pursuit. Comanche has the reaching angle and Eugenia V continues on her flyer as the only boat well south of the rhumb line.
© 2022 RORC Transatlantic
Powerplay in RORC
Peter Cunningham’s MOD 70 Powerplay has, so far, managed to find the best path around the blue blobs.
© 2022 RORC Transatlantic / James Mitchell

The navigators and software aboard all these boats are the world’s best. We have no idea what we’d do. But we always find it interesting to imagine how we’d try to solve that puzzle for what, to our inexperienced eyes, looks like a very complicated search for the right track across the Atlantic.

As you can see from the cover of our January issue, midwinters on San Francisco Bay can be very similar.