Welcome to the December issue of Latitude 38! In true seasonal style, today our heroic delivery drivers demonstrated their willingness and ability to travel through “rain, sleet and snow” and more, to ensure we all wake up to find the magazine bundles neatly stacked at our favorite pickup location. The truck that would ordinarily bring the hot-off-the-press issue to a central point in Marin broke down in Novato, and all our drivers have had to hotfoot it up there to pick up their stacks for delivery across the Bay Area. So If you were up early and wondering where your magazine is, rest assured, it will arrive, it’ll just be a little later today. If you happen to see one of our jolly drivers on their rounds, please give them a wave and a “Thank you” for their extra effort today.
In the meantime, here’s a preview of what you’ll find in the pages this month.
Serendipity has many forms: perhaps running into an old college flame right after a breakup, small talk at a bar bringing a job opportunity, or a gap on the starboard layline when you’ve overstood out on the left side. For me, it happened on August 12, 2022, when on the second-to-last night of the 5O5 Worlds, Rob Woelfel casually mentioned he had worked as a salvage diver. The next two-plus months would bring a crazy adventure, as four friends and competitors came together to save and rehabilitate a boat that had started another sailor’s racing dynasty.
When it comes to sailing offshore, there are few better teachers than experience, and the Ha-Ha is arguably a near-ideal venue for taking baby steps into that world. The winds and seas are generally mild and from astern, the legs aren’t too long, the anchorages for the two R&R stops are huge and well-protected, and there is tremendous support within the fleet. Participants tell the Ha-Ha story best. Read the full story for their take on the voyage south.
At this writing, virtually all island groups in the Central South Pacific have reopened their borders to foreign yachts once again. And the 2023 Pacific Puddle Jump rally is now taking sign-ups. Widely known as a loosely structured event whose focus is on fleetwide safety and camaraderie, the PPJ typically attracts a disparate collection of cruising boats from a dozen or more nations. They depart independently from a variety of ports along the west coast of the Americas, any time between late February and early June.
Also in the December issue:
- Letters: An Issue that Constantly Flares Up; The School of Adventure; Clearly and Concisely; and many, many more.
- Sightings: Becoming a Valued Crew Member; Father, Brandon Mercer Untethers Son James Mercer; and other stories.
- Max Ebb: For the Younger Sailor Who Has Everything
- Changes in Latitudes: Life Under the Baja Stars; “Cruz-Desvous” Marina del Rey and Beyond; and more.
- Racing Sheet: This month we visit RYC’s Great Pumpkin Regatta, the SSS Vallejo 1-2, TYC’s Joan Storer Regatta, Cal Maritime’s win at the Kennedy Cup, the Mercury Fall One Design, GGYC’s Seaweed Soup Regatta, the College Match Race Championship, a Rule 69 finding at the Rolex Big Boat Series, and a new-to-San Francisco-Bay Class 40. Race Notes and Box Scores fill in the gaps.
- Loose Lips: Check out the November Caption Contest(!) winner and top 10 comments.
- The sailboat owners and buyers’ bible, Classy Classifieds.
As we enter the busy holiday season, we’re going to take a little “Good Jibes Holiday” as we plan and prepare for a new year of sailors’ and sailing’s stories. Over the past year (and three months) we have chatted with sailors about their introduction to the sport, their most memorable experiences, lessons they’ve learned, their hopes for the future of sailing, and so much more. Together with these guests, our hosts have laughed and learned as they explored each sailor’s personal sailing story, and we look forward to sharing even more stories in 2023.
Meanwhile, to keep your listening ears happy, over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing live readings of some of our favorite stories from the pages of Latitude 38. You might be surprised to hear some of the stories you’ve missed this year, or perhaps even one from our “waaaay back” machine.
We know what it’s like to have your hands full but your mind free, so in the coming weeks while you’re busy polishing the stainless, varnishing the trimwork, or perhaps even painting the deck, crank up your speakers or put on your headphones and listen to the sounds of sailing.
We’ll start our temporary, dockside story time next Wednesday. Until then, here are a couple of our favorite episodes from the past year of Good Jibes.
Oh… and if you have a story from the magazine you’ve been wanting to read, but haven’t, let us know and we’ll put it on our list. Just be sure to give us the title, issue date and page number. See you next week!
As far as yacht racing goes in Northern California, December is the quietest month of the year. We suspect this has more to do with how busy everyone is during the holiday season than it does the weather.
Midwinter Racing Series
A couple of clubs will join the long list of Midwinter Series in December. The first of these will be Richmond Yacht Club’s Small Boat Midwinters, debuting on Sunday, December 4. The series offers “Four fun Sundays of racing on three courses on the Richmond Riviera for monohull centerboard boats, Wylie Wabbits, Ultimate 20s, International 110s and Mercurys. Classes with five or more boats will receive their own start. Open classes with time-on-time scoring for all other boats. Trophies for skipper and crew. First time racing a dinghy? No problem — friendly race committee, easy SIs [sailing instructions], light wind and flat water. What more could you ask for?”
Entries so far include Bytes, Day Sailers, El Toros, International 14s, Lasers, RS Aeros and Teras, Snipes, Thistles, Sunfish, Melges 14s and the above-mentioned Wabbits, U20s, I-110s and Mercs. The series will continue on the first Sunday of each month through March, except that the January races will be held on the 8th — not on New Year’s Day!
Lake Merritt Sailing Club in downtown Oakland will start their Robinson Memorial Midwinters on Saturday, December 10. The January race day will be on Sunday the 15th, then the series will continue on Saturday, February 11, and Sunday, March 12. These Midwinters generally attract Sunfish and El Toros, but LMSC will give class starts for classes with three or more boats. The little club doesn’t have a website; call the commodore, Denis Hazlewood, at (707) 338-6955 for more info.
Many other Midwinter Series started in November; we previewed those last month, but it’s not too late to enter the remaining races. Additional series begin in January — we’ll delve into at those in a future ‘Lectronic Latitude post. For much more, please see our monthly Calendar, out in the December issue today or online here.
We often approach the weekend with thoughts of spending our Saturday and Sunday sailing. We picture ourselves coasting along, looking up to watch the telltales drift against the blue-sky background, perhaps looking across the Bay at the Headlands, the cityscape, or the Bridge. We can even feel the fresh air in our nostrils and detect the faint taste of salt on our lips. Then we remember: The boat isn’t ready to sail. Perhaps we have an engine to repair, or the rigging needs tensioning, or maybe we’re partway through some sanding or varnishing, or painting. Whatever it is, sometimes it’s enough to keep us tied to the dock. What are we to do?
We have options. We can stay at home and sulk, we can call a friend and catch a ride on their boat, or we can go to the marina with our work gear and complete some of those jobs that are keeping us tied down. Whichever way, we’re still “messing about in boats,” and as Kenneth Grahame wrote, “…there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing…” And we agree!
How often have you gone to your boat, feeling a bit grumpy and down about the “work” you have to do, only to get there and happily get stuck into even the dirtiest of jobs? For us, this is usually the way things roll. We forget that in between the sweating and cursing, there are those moments when we stop for a break; perhaps we brought coffee or lunch, and we sit on deck and enjoy the sounds of the Bay that surround us, even at the dock. We might even stop to chat with our neighbors, many of whom are doing pretty much the same thing we are: “messing about in boats.” And, at the end of the day, there is immense satisfaction in what we did achieve.
The moral of this story? Just because you’re not going sailing, don’t assume you won’t be having fun.
Earlier this month we announced that we had five winners from our October Good Jibes BoneHead Headset promotion. Yes, it took some doing, but we were able to track down and confirm our winners. Their headsets are now in the mail and, all going well, will arrive at their destinations soon.
The winners are:
Christian Siefert from Antioch, who sails the Ericson 34 Outatime; Jim Blair from Martinez; Andy Buck from San Diego; Karla Jacobs from San Rafael — Karla wrote, “Really? I won something? OH BOY. I’ll send you a photo of me listening to your podcast. I forgot to mention that my favorite Good Jibes podcast was the one featuring Dawn Riley.” And our fifth winner, Grant Du Plooy from Concord, wrote, “Thanks for letting me know about my BoneHead win. I can’t wait to try it out on the new Jeanne Socrates podcast!”
FYI, we did draw one other winner, Pocket Cruising Trader, who wrote back, “Any chance we could offer it as a PCT donation to the community care of Lat 38?” So we did! Thank you, Pocket Cruising Trader!