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December 21, 2022

The Day of Winter Solstice and California King Tides

Happy winter solstice! Today is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. That means it’s the start of a six-month countdown to summer sailing and the Summer Sailstice on the weekend of June 24.

Winter Sailing San Francisco
Last January Brian Cline reminded us why he cherishes winter sailing.
© 2022 Brian Cline

In San Francisco, the precise time of the winter solstice today is 1:48 p.m. The day is actually a whole five hours, 14 minutes shorter than next year’s summer solstice, coming up on June 21 (so many fewer sailing hours!). In case you missed it, the sunrise was at 0721 this morning. Sunset will be at 1653.

At this seasonal turning point, now is a great moment to start your 2023 sailing plans. If you’re thinking about racing, renew your PHRF certificate and look at the 2023 race schedule coming out with our January issue. Or make your Summer Sailstice plans by signing up for one of many regattas being held on the June 24 weekend, including the StFYC Woodies Invitational, the Farallones Race, the EYC One-Design Regatta, and the Half Moon Bay Race. And if you really want to step it up, sign up for the Singlehanded Transpacific Race, starting on Sunday of Summer Sailstice weekend.

If your winter looks like this, then Summer Sailstice can’t get here soon enough.

The weekend ahead will be the first after the sun starts heading north again, and to keep the waterfront interesting, there will be California king tides. The California Coastal Commission is inviting you to send high-tide waterfront photos here.

Enjoy the winter solstice. But dream about the summer solstice by signing up for Summer Sailstice now. You can figure out the details later!

Good Jibes #70: Jack van Ommen’s ‘Lost on a Cuban Reef’ (Verbatim)

Welcome back to Good Jibes‘ verbatim series. While we take a little break from interviews with sailors, we’re sharing stories from the pages of Latitude 38 sailing nagazine. This week’s host, Monica Grant, reads an article from the March 2022 issue of Latitude 38. At 85, Jack van Ommen has spent more than 20 years living on his boat, and sailing the world alone. In this episode you will hear the story of Jack’s third shipwreck.

Was Jack able to salvage his boat and his possessions?
© 2022 Jack van Ommen

This episode covers everything from sailing the world to surviving shipwrecks. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • What is the worst shipwreck Jack’s experienced?
  • How do you sail around the world at 80 years old?
  • What does Richard Spindler have to do with this story?
  • How did Jack enjoy Cuba?
  • Did the Coast Guard help him?
  • Where is Fleetwood now?
  • How could this shipwreck have been prevented?
  • What is the exchange rate in Cuba?

Follow along and read the article 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!

Private vs Charter Yacht Ownership — Which is right for you?

Dream Yacht Sales

Considering a yacht purchase? Curious about the advantages of a yacht charter ownership program? Learn more about what factors to consider in making a yacht purchase decision that’s right for you. Read the blog.

Need To Do Any Last-Minute Christmas Shopping for a Sailor?

If you’re like us, then you looked at your calendar recently with alarm at the rapidly approaching date of December 25. Some of you might be thinking it’s time to finish your Christmas shopping, while others might be thinking that it’s time to start.

Have we ever told you about the Latitude 38 online bookshop, at Thanks, everyone, for enduring the barrage of self-promotion these last few weeks as we have built and added to our independent online bookstore. We’re excited to share some of our latest titles with you.

We’ve always liked to say that Latitude is written for readers, or for those who appreciate holding a hard copy of some sailing literature in their hands. In reality, we’re not sure what the dominant reading trends are these days. (If you’re reading this, then spoiler alert: You’re looking at a screen.) Do you do most of your reading online or on a Kindle, or are you fan of audio books? Or do you dabble in a little bit of everything, from breaking out a dusty, old tome to listening to the latest bestseller via Bluetooth devices?

Even those of us who consider ourselves hardcore sailing journalists and avid readers often struggle to carve out time to sit down with a book. It’s no secret that the “screen age” has bred shorter attention spans, favoring skimming, scrolling, and searching over deep, contemplative immersion in a hard copy of a magazine, newspaper, or book. We’re not ready to call reading a dying pastime, but reading certainly has more and more competition than ever.

Building a sailing library has been a labor of love over the decades.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim Henry

We have been amazed to find a bottomless well of sailing- and maritime-themed books on

This month’s Max Ebb, which went hunting for Children’s Sailing Books, added 24 titles in this sub-category, including Hope at SeaSail and Beyond the Bright Sea. In our Staff Picks, we’ve found Small-Boat Sailing by Jack London, The Figure 8 Voyage, a coffee-table book by Randall Reeves, and A Pirate Looks at Fifty, by one James Buffet (aka Jimmy Buffett).

And in the Random Books We’ve Found for You list, we’ve found any number of interesting titles, such as Seafurrers: The Ships’ Cats Who Lapped and Mapped the World, Never Say P*g: The Book of Sailors’ Superstitions, and Sailing With Bogie: A Memoir of Humphrey Bogart’s Passion for the Sea, which chronicles the Hollywood legend’s famed yacht Santana, a boat that had a second life in the Bay Area.

For all of your gift-giving needs, we now offer Latitude 38 wrapping paper, available now at a waterfront near you! (Try doing that with a stack of Kindles.)
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim Henry

And that pretty much concludes this season of promotions for our nascent online bookstore, but don’t forget that Valentine’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, the Fourth of July, and Veteran’s Day are just around the corner, as well as any number of birthdays, retirement parties, or random chances to let someone know you’re thinking about them via a thoughtful gift.

Depending on the interest in the bookstore, we’re considering expanding the lists — we’d like to have an entire section for “practical” and “how-to” books. We’ve already added a number of Nigel Calder titles in our Staff Picks section, including Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair, as well as Cruising Handbook: A Compendium for Coastal and Offshore Sailors. There are also a number of Charlie’s Charts included in that section.

Happy Holidays, Latitude Nation. Read well, read on, read forever.

Duos in Globe 40 Round Cape Horn

Sailing in the fifth leg of the Globe 40 race, the five remaining doublehanded Class 40s have just finished another marathon leg of ocean racing and arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina. Beginning this fifth of eight legs in Pape’ete, Tahiti, on November 26, the fleet sailed a very demanding leg that would take them from the tropics’ southeast trade winds all the way down to the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties before rounding the notorious Cape Horn that exists seemingly at the bottom of the Earth. With winds ranging from a large ridge of high pressure with sub-1-knot boatspeeds to beating into tropical trade winds to running in depressions with up to 50 knots of breeze — and almost everything in between — the fleet has been thoroughly tested along the route.

Tattered sails on the grass.
Tattered sails on the lawn tell the story of how difficult Leg 5 was on not just the crews, but on the boats as well. These sails are from the American entry Gryphon Solo II.
© 2022 Roger Junet

The winner of the fifth leg was the Japanese entry Milai, skippered by Japanese sailor Masa Suzuki. He sailed this leg (and will sail the next one) with French female Figaro sailor Estelle Greck. The coed team managed to win the race to the breeze. They were the first to sail out of the light-wind transition zone and reach the new breeze down south. Managing to escape from their rivals and then pull away, Milai built up a solid cushion of more than 140 miles and enjoyed the luxury of cruising to a comfortable leg victory. The win was Milai’s second in a row and third in five legs of the race thus far.

At Cape Horn
Masa Suzuki and Estelle Greck round Cape Horn in the lead of the Globe 40 race.
© 2022 Masa Suzuki

Second place in this leg, but still leading the overall points ranking, is the Dutch duo of Frans Budel and Ysbrand Endt on Sec Hayai. They finished about 12 hours behind Milai after more than 20 days of racing. Third place in this leg and in the rankings is the American boat AMHAS, with Americans Micah Davis and Brian Harris on board. Docking at around the same time Argentina won the World Cup on Sunday, the Americans received a warm and festive greeting. American entry Gryphon Solo II, skippered by Joe Harris with Italian Roger Junet, managed to complete an impressive comeback to secure fourth place ahead of the Canadian entry Whiskey Jack.

AMHAS arrives in Argentina
Micah Davis and Brian Harris arrive in Ushuaia on AMHAS on Sunday. The duo docked at around the same time Argentina won the World Cup, making for a very festive arrival.
© 2022 Globe 40 Race

After a couple of weeks in Ushuaia, the fleet of five doublehanded Class 40s will sail their sixth leg from Argentina up to Recife, Brazil, beginning on January 5. Follow the race at

What a Croc! Or Is It?

How often do you think about the creatures that may be lurking beneath your boat while you’re out at sea, or in the Bay, or even docked at the marina? It’s not something that crosses our minds very often, but there are times when we are reminded that we aren’t the only creatures who like to be on or in the water. Recently we read an article about crocodiles in Mexico’s waterways. Now, given that we’ve been sharing lots of stories about cruisers who sailed south with the Baja Ha-Ha last month, it got us thinking about our own experiences while sailing in Mexico.

For starters, this writer had no idea there were crocodiles in Mexico until, while walking back to her boat docked at the Vallarta Yacht Club one afternoon, she happened to notice the sign that warned of crocodiles in the area. “What? Surely not. It’s a marina, full of channels and noisy, stinky boat engines.” But there it was, a warning. She was still skeptical; however, each time she walked the fingers she’d be scanning the waters, looking for that elusive croc. Each time the outgoing tide exposed the waterline along the wall on the other side of the channel she’d look out for crocs. No croc ever showed itself.

upstream from Vallarta YC marina
Do you think those fishers are on the lookout for crocs?
© 2022 Monica Grant

So when we read the article on the Vacation Villas of Mexico website about the crocodiles in Puerto Vallarta, it just got us thinking. How often do sailors jump off the boat into waters unknown? Do you? Would you?

On one occasion, while anchored in a bay in Mexico, the name of which escapes us right now, we heard what we thought were whales swimming among the boats anchored off the beach. We hopped up on deck in the middle of the dark night, and against the backdrop of the shore lights we could see the silhouettes of large shapes arcing on the surface of the water. Then, we heard the whoosh of the whales spouting; and then, we smelled it. Ugh… it was awful. But the point of this part of our story is that one of our crew had been wanting to swim with a whale since we’d headed out the Gate several weeks earlier. Here was her chance. She donned her wetsuit, fins and snorkel in hand, in less time than it took us to make a cup of tea with which to warm ourselves while we hung out with the whales.

Did we encourage her to jump in? No! We all thought she was crazy. Fortunately she stayed on deck. Although… what would have happened if she had jumped in? Apart from the fact that it was a pitch-black night, and we would not have seen her had she drifted beyond the range of our flashlights, we don’t know. How would the whales react? Perhaps they would have seen her as food. Perhaps they would have ignored her.

Even in the very clear waters of the upper reaches of the Sea of Cortez, this writer was always alert when entering the water. Yes, swimming with the turtles was amazing, and snorkeling deeper to explore crevices and overhangs was a lot of fun. But what else lurks where we cannot see? While on a voyage from Miami, north to wherever, the warm air and occasionally still ocean had us (well, one of us) itching to go in for a dip. But for the unknown.

no croc here
In some parts of the Sea of Cortez the water was so clear we could see the anchor chain tracks on the sandy bottom.
© 2022 Monica Grant

While some of us sit on deck and wonder, other sailors jump overboard for pleasure. What is your habit or preference for diving off the boat while at sea, or exploring bays and estuaries? Have you ever had an encounter that had you leaping back into the boat and washing out your wetsuit? Let us know in the comments below or at [email protected].