After that initial dose of rain in the Bay Area, it’s been pretty much smooth sailing: light airs, sunshine and great days on the water. The weekend ahead looks similar, though NOAA’s Saturday prediction has some breeze with possible gusts to 20 knots. Sunday’s a little mellower.
If you’re headed out, we’d love to see some photos captured on the weekend so we can add them to next month’s Sailagram. Send yours to [email protected]. The pics below are just some of the photos included in our November Sailagram, which was released on November 2 with dozens of photos sent in from readers up and down the coast. We received photos from #shesailsBWS in Marina del Rey among many others celebrating great days under sail.
This weekend’s sailing could include the YRA Doublehanded Midwinters #1 or midwinters from Sequoia Yacht Club, Santa Cruz Yacht Club, South Beach Yacht Club, St. Francis Yacht Club J/22s, or the Berkeley Yacht Club Chowder series. Check the monthly calendar here for sailing events near you.
Or you could go sailing. It’s well known that if you do sign up for a midwinter series you double your chances of using your boat on these beautiful winter weekends. Racing, cruising or daysailing, it looks like another weekend to offer gratitude to the Bay and your boat by going sailing. And remember to send your favorite weekend sailing shot for our December Sailagram to [email protected].
Tragedy Strikes the Solo Transatlantic Race
While Charles Caudrelier was sailing into Guadeloupe to not only win the 12th Route du Rhum but to also smash the course record, the joyous celebration that would follow was marred by tragedy. With details emerging just after we posted Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic update, we have all been deeply saddened to learn that two of the race organizers have tragically passed away. While traveling to the finish to greet Caudrelier and his trimaran Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, a powerboat chartered by the race committee capsized while carrying 11 people. Two of the passengers, both employees of Route du Rhum organizers OC Sport Pen Duick, did not survive.
According to multiple reports, local Guadeloupe prosecutor Patrick Desjardins has opened a judicial investigation into manslaughter. While the events that led to the tragedy are still under investigation, reports indicate that a collision was unlikely, but perhaps the boat capsized due to crossing another boat’s wake at high speed in the dark. Caudrelier finished in the early hours of morning.
The two people who died suffered cardiopulmonary arrest after being trapped under the upturned hull of the the powerboat. They are Alex Picot, project manager at OC Sport, in charge of the Arkea Ultim Challenge 2023 and the Solitaire du Figaro, and François Naveilhan, commercial and partnerships manager of OC Sport. This is a staggering loss to the French sailing community. There’s been an outpouring of sadness from all over the Route du Rhum world — from skippers, teams, organizers and fans alike. The day’s festivities and celebrations were postponed.
Winning skipper Charles Caudrelier learned of the news just moments after finishing what must surely rank as the biggest win of his career. “We are all very upset by this,” said Caudrelier. “This should have been a party but in the end it is a tragedy.” Hervé Favre, president of OC Sport Pen Duick, added, “All our thoughts go out to the families of our two employees and to all of the profoundly affected members of our teams. All the stakeholders of the organization share the immense pain of the families and send them their deepest and sincere condolences.”
While this edition may have been shaken by the tragedy, it has not diminished the excitement of the record-setting race. Just after our last update, Thomas Coville on Sodebo Ultim 3 finished in third place in the Ultim division. 2018 winner Francis Joyon and IDEC Sport came home in fourth. Yves Le Blevec and Actual Ultim 3 rounded out the top five.
Divisions Still Racing
No other divisions have seen finishers yet. The Multi 50 trimaran fleet should come rumbling into Pointe-à-Pitre next. The IMOCA fleet has seen a bit of a shakeup. Thomas Ruyant and LinkedOut have caught and passed Charlie Dalin’s Apivia, though the two boats remain virtually neck and neck. Englishwoman Pip Hare and her IMOCA sponsored by San Francisco-based corporation Medallia has moved up into 13th place. She’s now the third female in the IMOCA fleet. San Francisco Bay native Alex Mehran and his Class 40 Polka Dot have moved back up to 12th place in the 55-strong Class 40 fleet. (Only 39 are left racing).
Stay tuned to ‘Lectronic Latitude for more coverage of this legendary race.
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Last week we wrote about the idea of marine flare practice exercises. Eric Spross was on the water aboard his Sausalito-based Swan 431 Terral when he heard a Sécurité call on Channel 16, advising that the San Francisco Yacht Club would be conducting flare exercises from their boat Victory in Raccoon Strait.
Eric posed some questions about how one goes about organizing and preparing for such an exercise. We put the question to the Coast Guard and were rewarded with a guide on how to proceed. (See our story in last week’s ‘Lectronic Latitude.) The story, as it happens, coincided with some emails we received regarding flare disposal, an issue that has plagued mariners for quite some time.
Bay Area sailor Matthew Schuessler has spent a good amount of time and energy seeking out a practical solution to expired flares — the product we are all required to carry aboard, but that comes with no procedure for safe and proper disposal, apart from irregular and infrequent, localized disposal events. We were copied on a chain of emails that began when Matthew wrote to several agencies, addressing the issue of flare disposal in Sonoma County. Matthew’s initial email was in response to his failed attempt to deal with the issue over the phone. Part of his email read, “I have learned that there is literally nowhere to dispose of expired marine flares in our County. Using the ZeroWasteSonoma site (first link below under References), I contacted Sonoma Sheriff’s Dept. first, and learned they formerly did accept them, but no longer do. They directed me to Sonoma County Fire, who directed me to USCG, who directed me to Sonoma HHW (Household Hazardous Waste), who confirmed — as indicated on the ZWS site — that they do *not* accept marine flares.”
Now what? The first response to his email amounted to, “Sorry; we know there’s a problem, but we can’t help you.” This was, however, followed up with a link to a very nice PDF titled “Marine Expired Flares: A Bay Area Pilot Project to Help Boaters.” Unfortunately, the nicely illustrated, colorful document, while detailing the what and why of flares, failed to provide any information on their disposal.
Next in the chain was a reply from Vivian Matuk, Environmental Boating Program Manager, California State Parks and California Coastal Commission. Matuk didn’t give a solution as such, but her response did shed some more light on the problem behind the problem. “Due to the hazardous nature of the marine flares (low explosives) their collection and treatment is pretty expensive. CA has to ship them (of course ground transportation) to only three states (LA, UT [incinerators] and MO [open burning]) that have permitted facilities to treat the flares. As you can imagine this is cost prohibitive for municipalities. The cost to treat a flare can range between $7 to $50 per flare,” she wrote.
Matuk explained that the counties “have to apply to get the grant from CalRecycle to properly and legally plan and conduct the collection event with ALL the proper federal and state permits.” To facilitate this, California has a grant program to assist counties with the costs involved. From time to time we are notified of upcoming flare-disposal events in various counties, the most recent being held earlier this month in Richmond.
One solution could be to have a “permitted” disposal facility nearby. This possibility was mentioned in a response Matthew received from Zero Waste Sonoma’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) manager, Courtney Scott. Scott wrote that while they don’t currently have what she called a “magazine for the collection of explosive material,” they are in the process of looking for new property to build a second HHW facility in the north/central area of the county at which they would like to install a magazine, “if we can find the right property with the right zoning.” Though even if they were able to secure such a property today, it would still be another three to five years before the facility was operable.
We understand that none of the information above solves our immediate and frequent issues regarding flare disposal. But we do feel a little appeased by learning that the issue is not due to neglect or lack of interest, but because of the nature of the product we’re dealing with, and the limited facilities and the high cost of their disposal. In our understanding flare-disposal events have always been free, thereby relieving mariners of the added costs of offloading expired flares. We appreciate this and thank the counties and relevant agencies for taking on these costs. We also thank Matthew Schuessler for his persistence in looking for answers. Again, it doesn’t help us today, but it does help to know that people are looking for better solutions. Of course, now that there are alternatives such as the LED electronic visual distress signal devices, perhaps flare disposal will one day become a non-issue. In the meantime, we will continue to share any new information as it comes to light.
Craig Murk wrote us last week to say he had found a Golden Ticket inside his November Latitude 38. (OK, we know it’s a blue ticket… more on that later.) Craig has a 1978 Tartan 30 that he says lived most or all of its life in Sausalito. “As far as I know, I am the third or fourth owner,” he wrote.
So, back to that Golden Ticket, which is actually blue… Why is that?
Last month, when we announced Brian Ackerman’s Golden Ticket find (which was also a blue ticket), we heard from Buzz Bauer, who asked, “Why is ‘The Golden Ticket’ blue????” Did anyone else notice the change?
And why are we still calling it a Golden Ticket when it’s not gold in color? This is an easy question to answer — finding a Golden Ticket sounds much more exciting than finding a Blue Ticket. Besides, we don’t want to change the name too often — what if we changed the color again? We’d all end up very confused.