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April 15, 2022

Sailors Organize Successful Search and Rescue Operation

Last week an elderly Oakland man went missing in the recreation area around Lake Chabot. Alfonso Arechiga, 85, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and dementia, had wandered off from his backyard on Tuesday afternoon. When Arechiga failed to return home, and local searches of the area were unsuccessful, the family turned to local sailor Eric Jones and his organization Sea Valor for help. Eric invited Latitude 38 to join the search, and learn more about Sea Valor’s work in the Bay Area.

Eric Jones gives an overview on the area to be searched.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Nicki

Sea Valor organized an aerial search of the area Friday morning, pulling experienced search and rescue crews from various agencies including the FBI and Coast Guard. Even though the area to be searched was vast and heavily wooded, search and rescue crews refused to give up hope for the Arechiga family. As it neared almost a week, many were preparing for the worst, as hopes for a successful recovery became slimmer.

It takes skill and concentration to spot a person in the natural environment from the air.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Nicki

On Sunday afternoon, after three days of aerial searching, Alfonso Arechiga was located and airlifted from a canyon, 300 feet below a ravine. He had sustained no injuries and appeared to be in good health at the time of rescue. He was transported to a local hospital for observation.

The following video was aired as part of a news report by CBS Local San Francisco:

Many agencies assisted in locating Alfonso, including Oakland sheriffs, the Oakland Police Department, CHP, Sea Valor, and Specialized Aviation, which resulted in his safe return home. It was truly a remarkable effort by a community committed to helping one another, and we were awed by the dedication of Sea Valor and the partner rescue crews.

Aerial support was provided by the crew at Specialized Aviation.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Nicki
Nicki/Sea Valor rescue
While the smile is good for the photo, the reality is that after just one hour of looking for what might as well be a needle in a haystack, the laser-focus attention required is incredibly tiring. Our hats are off to those who do this on a regular basis.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Nicki

Over the years Sea Valor has participated in dozens of searches and rescues, including leading the search for 12-year-old Arunay Pruthi, who was swept of the beach by a wave at Half Moon Bay in January.

Sea Valor is a local sailing nonprofit founded in 2019 by Eric Jones, who has the desire to help people find healing through sailing. Jones, a 911 first responder, found that sailing helped in his own journey of healing from PTSD, and wanted to share that opportunity with others. Since its inception, the organization has taken over 4000 people sailing — mostly veterans, first responders, healthcare workers, law enforcement, and underprivileged kids. However, Sea Valor does far more than just take people out on the water, as last week’s search so clearly showed. The group is involved in a wide array of community outreach projects including installing four life-saving stations in Half Moon Bay, and now working with Pacifica to install an additional 16 stations.

Sea Valor
Sailing the Bay with Sea Valor.
© 2022 Sea Valor

Sea Valor is also working to create a post-traumatic stress resource center in partnership with the USS Hornet in Alameda. This year they will sponsor a race team that consists of veterans and first responders, aboard a Farr 40. Jones and his crew are a true testament to what can be achieved when we support one another and our communities.

Sea Valor is one of many sailing organizations we list in our ‘Heeling Power of Sailing’ page which is dedicated to people and organizations who use sailing as a source of healing for people and the planet.


Friday Night Beer Can Racing — Ready, Set, Stop

Tonight is the first ‘real’ race of Corinthian’s Friday night racing. Last week was a warm-up for all racers to get the wrinkles out of sails that might not have been used since the fall. The end of midwinter sailing usually means the spring/summer winds are arriving soon and we should be ready for smaller headsails. That was not the case last Friday. Those who came to the season starter were ready to loosen up and get into the groove of Friday night beer can racing. The only thing that didn’t show up was the breeze.

Corinthian Yacht Club Friday night races.
It was glassy-calm with a flood current at the leeward mark. Never good.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Corinthian Yacht Club Friday night races.
Triple Play and Masquerade on the hunt for breeze.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Corinthian Yacht Club Friday night races.
Craig Page and the crew of Wuda Shuda steal what little wind there is.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Corinthian Yacht Club Friday night races.
Just because there’s no wind doesn’t mean Nicki Bennett and Lisa Hotchkiss couldn’t find something to smile about.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Corinthian Yacht Club Friday night races.
A large gray whale surfaced just astern as we turned for home in the fading light before reaching the weather mark.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Wind holes aside, we’re once again reminded of why we sign up to sail. It’s great to be on the water, see the sights, and reconnect with friends in the fresh air. Summer beer can racing is starting all around the Bay. Have a look at our 2022 YRA Racing Calendar to find a beer can series near you. See you on the water.

Survivor of Ship Sinking Sends Letter to Family

In recognition of today’s date, April 15, a Bay Area sailor forwarded the following letter, written by his great-aunt:

My dear Mother, Father, and all, –

You will be pleased to know that I am safe on the Carpathia, after a ‘’thrilling yet safe experience.’’ But I am very much afraid all the men have lost their lives; they were very brave. It was the greatest surprise to everyone. We were all in bed, and told to remain there, as it was only an ‘’Iceberg,’’ so we were only in our night attire.

Everything is lost, money, pictures, and all. We were launched in the lifeboats at 1.15 a.m. and picked up at 6.15. The Titanic was cut in two and was sunk to the second deck when I reached a lifeboat. I saved a baby in arms, and we had to sing for our lives at such a perilous time. The sailors were singing ‘’Pull for the shore, sailors’’ and rowing, half dressed in frozen garments.

The conduct of all the passengers was really wonderful. ‘’Babies and ladies first,’’ was the order. I think there were only sixteen boats. We were fortunate to have calm seas and a good nerve.

We could not any of us realize the peril until we were safe on this boat. Then the pathetic scenes occurred. Women were looking for their husbands and mothers for their babies. The band was playing until the last.

I cannot write any more just now, but please don’t worry. I will try and get along the best I can. Trusting you are getting over the shock. From your loving daughter,


Edwina MacKenzie, Titanic survivor
In case you can’t read the handwriting, Edwina was born in England in 1884. She saved a baby named Asaad Thomas.

In the Words of a Survivor

This was only the first of six transatlantic crossings for Edwina Troutt MacKenzie. Born in 1884, she lived to be 100 years old. At the time of the following interview, she was the eldest remaining survivor of the sinking of the Titanic.

MacKenzie led a very full life. She was a Harvey Girl — a railroad-stop restaurant waitress. She lived in Hermosa Beach, and every time Hollywood made a Titanic movie she’d receive an invitation to the premiere.

A Second Class passenger, she was supposed to sail aboard Titanic’s sistership Olympic, but because the coal miners were out on strike, there was only enough coal for one ship. Thus she ended up on the Titanic.

Another bit of Titanic trivia: No marine engineers survived the sinking of the Titanic. Among other things, the engineers kept the lights on and the radio sending “Come Quick Disaster.”

February Was a Lucky Month for These Golden Ticket Winners

Sailors have the biggest smiles. And why wouldn’t they? They get to play on the water under sunny skies amid beauty and breeze. But it’s a bonus when we see smiles on land that have been generated by finding a Golden Ticket in a Latitude 38 sailing magazine. Thom Smith sent us this photo taken when he found his ticket in the February issue.

Golden Ticket Smiles
Along with being happy to win a Latitude 38 T-shirt, Thom wrote, “Thank you for entertaining me for so many years!” You’re welcome, Thom! – Ed.
© 2022 Thom Smith

Thom picked up his Latitude 38 at West Marine in Point Loma. As a US Navy submarine crew he found an in-depth appreciation for the seas that his years of surfing couldn’t match. Then in the early ’90s he bought a Prindle catamaran and got serious about sailing.

“I took several lessons with OCSC, San Francisco Bay, and bought another sailboat. I did the Ha-Ha on a friend’s Island Packet and stayed on to sail the Sea of Cortez. I’ve done four Baja Bashes, during which time I purchased another sailboat. SS Skewed is a 35-ft S2 sloop. I moved my sailing-waters venue to San Diego, where I sail with my wife, son and daughter-in-law, and grandkids. At 76 years of age, I am truly living the good life. Keep up the great work on Latitude 38!”

In the meantime we received a few great photos from Mike Mellon, who also won when he found a Golden Ticket in his February issue. A lucky month for some?

Mike told us about his boat, the Catalina 320 La Vida, and now we have a photo.

La Vida
Mike aboard La Vida anchored in Steamboat Slough in the Delta.
© 2022 Joan Mellon
And at home with his new Latitude 38 cap, which he is “proudly wearing everywhere!”
© 2022 Joan Mellon

February may have come and gone, but the Golden Tickets could appear in any issue, at any location. We don’t even know their whereabouts! So make sure you hop down (yes, that is an intentional bunny reference) to your nearest or favorite distributor to pick up your April issue of Latitude 38.

New York to San Francisco via Cape Horn
Solo sailor Ryan Finn and his trusty steed Jzerro can smell the barn on their adventure from New York to San Francisco.
World Famous L38
We've been so busy since the 1st that we almost forgot to share this month's Caption Contest(!). Lucky for us all a little reminder fairy tapped us on the shoulder.
Virtual Sailing with Avatars
Hear what it’s like sailing in Second Life, how it can be an educational platform for sailors, the biggest misconceptions about virtual sailing, and whether you can control which way the wind blows.