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August 5, 2022

Foiling Through the Frisco Fog

“On a really dark Friday afternoon, the St. Francis Yacht Club hosted wing foilers and windsurfers for some course racing,” writes photographer Chris Ray.

Windsurfers at a mark
The windsurfer sails were a bright spot in the fog.
© 2022 Chris Ray

In the olden days, photographers might talk of how they accidentally “fogged” their film.

Princess cruise ship
A Princess cruise ship carries a city’s worth of passengers out of the fog.
© 2022 Chris Ray

The fog in these digital photos comes courtesy of San Francisco’s unique summer microclimate. Chris took these last Friday, July 29.

Several of Chris’s photos show Johnny Heineken checking his watch. Monitoring his heart rate? Timing his legs? Late for a meeting? Taking a meeting? No matter — Johnny has won every race in the series so far.
© 2022 Chris Ray

Check results for the Wing & Windsurf Slalom series here.

Wing sailor with brown pelican
Two creatures on the wing.
© 2022 Chris Ray

“Loads more pix on my site at–Windsurfers-22,” says Chris.

Windsurfers rounding Mark B
Windsurfers round StFYC’s Mark B, right in front of the the club’s picture windows.
© 2022 Chris Ray
Wing sailor at Mark B
And a wing sailor rounds Mark B.
© 2022 Chris Ray

Friday night racing at StFYC takes this week off; their Windsurf Course series will continue next Friday. Also next Friday, US Sailing’s US Open Sailing Series on San Francisco Bay will kick off, the final regatta in the series’s second season. StFYC will host the board-heads, while San Francisco YC will host the dinghy sailors.

Speak Up To Allocate Available Federal Dredging Funds

Tired of running aground in Ayala Cove? Clipper Cove? Or trying to access the Bay from your marina? Ever since we’ve owned a boat with a 6.5-ft draft vs. a 5-ft draft the Bay has appeared much shallower. Why can’t all these shallow spots be dredged?

Though there are all kinds of impediments to removing the sediments, if you know where dredging is needed, you can help. Jim Haussener of the California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference (CMANC) ran an ad in our current issue to let everyone know to speak up for dredging projects before the August 29 deadline.

Lind Marine Dredging
Lind Marine dredging helped keep the Napa River clear and accessible.
© 2022 Lind Marine

The Bay Area’s federal waterways have been critical to both the commercial maritime industry and the recreational boating activities that make living in the Bay Area so rewarding. Cruising the Bay and Delta is a fantastic way to explore the region, but only possible if channels are kept open. Racing is tons of fun too, and much easier when you can get your deep-draft racer out of its slip and onto the Bay.

Above is one of the Bay Area’s cruising gems. From this photo you wouldn’t know it’s in the middle of a densely populated urban area. However, it’s currently limited to hosting many boats due to silting.
© 2022 Gary Ryan

One of our favorite local destinations, the Petaluma River, was recently dredged and is now open for visiting sailors. This summer the San Rafael Canal is scheduled for dredging, which will be a huge benefit for yacht clubs and marinas along the canal and will open up the possibility of more cruisers accessing the marinas and services up to the San Rafael Yacht Club (established in 1896) right at the very head of the canal.

Dredging the Petaluma River was a great start in reopening access for boaters everywhere.
© 2022 Gary Reinartz

The tall ship Matthew Turner and many others are able to sail out of Sausalito because the Sausalito channel is kept deep enough for everyone’s passage. Congressman Jared Huffman has been instrumental in securing funds for these Bay Area dredging projects, and your local congressman can help do the same. Congressman Huffman is also a co-sponsor of H.R.3160, the Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act, which is helping preserve the services and jobs that serve the local maritime community.

Petaluma River basin
Downtown Petaluma is one of the Bay’s great cruising destinations that was inaccessible for a few years until it was recently dredged. It’s now reopened to cruisers.
© 2022 Ron Witel

Beyond airports and trains, US waterways are a critical component of our overall infrastructure. They’re what allow trade and, for all of us, the opportunity to both work and play on the country’s most beautiful bays. Additionally, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) states that the recreational boating impact in California is $13 billion. It supports 41,125 jobs and 2,820 businesses, with annual retail sales of new boats, engines, and marine accessories of $819 million.

For yacht clubs, marinas and others wanting to see federal funds allocated locally to keep the Bay accessible for Bay Area sailing, you can click on these links to learn more and make your case to your local congressperson. There is an August 29 deadline for submitting dredging requests. If you want to dig deep and help keep Bay Area boating accessible, you can learn more at these links:

Federal marina dredging law:
Local dredging surveys:
Nominating dredging projects:
Contact your congressperson:

We want to thank Jim Haussener and the local dredging companies for their support of recreational boating and for bringing this to our attention.

We were again reminded of why we want to do this when Glenn Isaacson closed his recent podcast with Moe Roddy saying, “Get out on the water, be safe and really take in the splendor that we have right here at our doorstep… we’re blessed, we really are truly blessed.”

Bay Area Sloop ‘Pursuit’ Brings Back Fond Memories

Last month we shared the news that the beautiful M-Class sloop Pursuit is looking for a new owner (or owners) who can bring the boat back up to her rightful glory and race readiness. Milly Biller commented on the story, “I wish I was a millionaire. I see no more noble way for someone richer than I to spend their money.” And Memo Gidley shared a memory of Pursuit and her former owner, Ron MacAnnan. “I remember Ron as a good friend of my dad, and wish Ron was still around adding some great character and personality to the Sausalito waterfront and the S.F. Bay. And the same goes for Pursuit, a great-looking vessel to see! I hope she finds a new owner to get her back out on the water!”

We also heard from Bay Area sailor Fred Huffman (star of a recent Good Jibes podcast episode), who also remembers seeing Pursuit in her glory days.

“I remember this beautiful yacht from my childhood in San Pedro when she was docked in California Yacht Anchorage in the 1940s and ’50s. I never sailed on Pursuit, but she was certainly the belle of the fleet.

“I remember that in the late 1950s and early 1960s there were three M-Boats racing, sometimes racing against one another, in races in Southern California. (I must point out that I might be off in my years by a decade or two.) The three were Pursuit, Windward (her hull was varnished) — tragically, Windward went aground and was totally wrecked on the beach in Yelapa Bay, near Puerto Vallarta — and [the third] Patalita.

Patalita was purchased by Howard Ahmanson, who renamed her Barlovento and brought her up to ‘yacht’ and racing condition. He raced her extensively, including races deep into Mexico, and Transpac races. I had several friends who raced on her, including my longtime sailing buddy Boo Hanratty. (Boo and I are the same age and we still sail together all the time.)”

Pursuit as she appeared on the Bay in 2005, during the Sail San Francisco parade.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

“Sometime in the early ’70s Pursuit had been entered in the ocean race from Long Beach to Mazatlán. To prepare her for the race, she was hauled out in San Pedro Boat Works for over a month as the yard workers worked on her for hundreds of man-hours, striving to get her in shape to make the boat seaworthy and more or less race-ready in time to make the start line.

“The final days they worked on Pursuit literally around the clock and, incredibly, they launched the boat only a day or two before the start as the work continued. On race day the crew threw the sails aboard and somehow they made it to the start area.

“Coincidently, Barlovento was also entered in the race, and although both boats were M-Class sloops, in total contrast to Pursuit‘s seemingly haphazard and rushed race preparations, Barlovento was in perfect racing trim, and with her usual highly experienced crew aboard she was ready to smother her ridiculous rival in the six-day race to Mazatlán.

“So what happened? The long and short of it is that Pursuit thoroughly outsailed Barlovento and beat her to the finish line in Mazatlán. That was really one of the craziest outcomes of any race I can recall — and there are dozens and dozens of races in my mental race journal.

“Some months after Ron’s death, I saw Pursuit ‘on the hard’ in a shipyard in Richmond, and she definitely looked like she needed a complete rebuild. I’ll be surprised if somewhere in this world there isn’t a super-rich person who will take on the massive challenge to restore Pursuit. Such things are happening all the time these days.”

Sadly, Ron MacAnnan died in 2018. It was reported in SFGate that he drowned after falling from Pursuit into the water at the Sausalito Yacht Harbor. He was 92.

The Story Behind the Winning Plywood Boat ‘Pell Mell’

The overall winner of this year’s California Offshore Race Week was Pell Mell, a 35-year-old, renovated 27-ft plywood boat. A year or so prior to the June race, current owners Alex Simanis and Joe Grieser took possession of the boat and began what ended up being an extensive renovation. 

On June 1, 1987, Dave Sutter launched Pell Mell on San Francisco Bay. “I was interested in sailing and boats, and it had been kind of a lifelong pursuit until into my 20s,” said Dave, who’s the son of Sausalito sailmaker Peter Sutter.

“After stopping, then a transition in my life, I started sailing and cruising again and thought I wanted a little racing boat.” So Pell Mell was born. She’s part cold-molded and part plywood, with a little Moore 24 mixed in, combined with a bit of the Dogpatch 26 Moonshine. That combination makes for a unique blend of a fast, ocean-capable and yet comfortable boat.

“I had already been drawing another boat when I saw Moonshine and thought, ‘Now I have to do something else.'” Moonshine was also built in the ’80s in San Francisco by Dave Leech, and quickly became a standout in the local racing scene.

“I wanted it to be faster than Moonshine, and a bit lighter. I also used different boats as a reference for the cruising interior. So I made a galley that’s really easy to use, and of course room for comfortable sleeping and sitting.”

Pell Mell on SF Bay
Pell Mell sailing on San Francisco Bay back in the “old days.”
© 2022 David Sutter

Pell Mell is now owned by Alex Simanis and Joe Grieser, partners in Ballard Sails in Seattle. When Pell Mell showed up one day, Alex fell in love. “The first time I saw the boat was probably about 15 years ago,” says Alex. “Steve Roberts owned the boat over in Poulsbo, Washington, and was working on her while I was employed at a local boatyard called CSR Marine.”

Then he hitched a ride. “I thought that thing — super-cool, you know — kind of looks like a Moore 24 on steroids. So I helped him get the boat in the water and we sailed back to Poulsbo and the thing just slipped along. It was just a neatly constructed little ultralight boat.”

But it took a while before Pell Mell and Alex would finally hook up. “I told Steve if he ever wanted to sell it to let me know. And couple of years ago, right in the middle of the pandemic, he calls: ‘Hey, now it’s time to sell Pell Mell if you know of anybody.'” That “anybody” would be Alex and Joe. “I was kind of looking for a boat to do a doublehanded Hawaii race or something like that. So we went and looked at it and made him a deal.”

Pell Mell then got a facelift, as the team dug into fixes and upgrades. “There wasn’t really anything dramatically wrong with the boat. There was rotten plywood in places and stuff. But it was in really good shape and had been nicely taken care of.”

Then the big work started. “The cockpit arrangement was really terrible for us, because it was so far back and so small you couldn’t have the trimmer and a driver working effectively. We were going to only open the transom and make some room there. After discussion we said, ‘Screw it, why don’t we just put a whole new cockpit in the boat and make it the way we want it?’ So we moved the cockpit forward, like 40-some-odd inches up to a place that made sense for the construction of the boat, and then cut it all out and built a new cockpit.”

The Point Bonita 27 undergoing her refit.
© 2022 Alex Simanis

After a year and what turned out to be a massive project, Pell Mell was ready for her debut.

Continue reading in this month’s issue of Latitude 38.

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