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January 20, 2023

Singer/Sailor David Crosby Sails Off on Final Voyage

David Crosby, of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, passed away yesterday. Of course, he was best known for his musical career, but he was also well known for his sailing and his years of owning the 1947 59-ft Alden schooner Mayan. When Crosby bought Mayan he would have been about 28 years old. He owned the wooden schooner from 1969 until 2014, when it was purchased by Beau Vrolyk of Santa Cruz.

Mayan with crew all dressed in orange
David Crosby’s famous 59-ft Alden schooner Mayan, now owned by Beau Vrolyk, racing in a recent Rolex Big Boat Series.
© 2023 Sharon Green / Rolex

In our Good Jibes podcast with current owner Beau Vrolyk, he described Crosby’s early purchase and ownership. “He grew up in Santa Barbara and had been sailing his whole life. He borrowed some money from the lead guitarist of the Monkees ($25,000 from Peter Tork). It’s a fascinating tale. David then proceeded to sail around the Caribbean for many years and eventually sailing her himself with buddies, with possibly Graham Nash aboard for the trip. He went through the Panama Canal and up to Sausalito.” Beau went on to say, “She also really served as a cruising boat for David. He sailed her to Tahiti and to Hawaii, at least twice, and back again. In almost every port we pull into there are people who come up to the boat and say, ‘I partied on that boat.’ I think she had many, many entertaining evenings.”

Mayan David Crosby
Mayan charges upwind in the 2019 Rolex Big Boat Series.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

After sailing from the Caribbean, Mayan lived in Sausalito for many years in the ’80s, berthed at Pelican Harbor. At that time, Billy Martinelli, builder of the scow schooner Gas Light, did lots of work refining her. Martinelli also sailed off to the South Pacific with Crosby. During Martinelli’s refit of Mayan, John “Woody” Skoriak ended up with many of her discarded sails and items off the boat that were then sold and passed on to other wooden-boat owners. Many local sailors found their way aboard for parties during that particularly boisterous, bohemian time along the Sausalito shoreline. It was another era in life along the waterfront from which many well-remembered but now-fading stories were created and told. Later Crosby moved Mayan to Santa Barbara, where he kept her for the last 20 years of his ownership.

1970s dock neighbor Brook Townes has some fond memories of his time berthed next door to Mayan in Herb Madden’s Sausalito Yacht Harbor, “The Mayan was in SYH’s Pier 3 (later called C-dock) next to the Freda (my home at the time) in the late ’60s, beginning of the ’70s. CSNY road manager Bob Wilson’s gaff schooner the Sea Runner was on the other side of the Freda. The Croz and friends added icing to Pier 3’s resident cast of great and interesting liveaboard characters.

“David was a fine boat husband and employed numerous local boatwrights. He had numerous nicely-done inlays, ivory porpoises and such, here and there, about the boat. As reported, he was a mite mercurial and could be nasty one morning, pleasant and considerate in the afternoon, but considerate in general. When the ’straights’ on the dock complained about too many groupies and their antics, he would do his best to quiet things down and usually succeeded for a while.

“It was a mixed blessing, having him next door. At times it was a little hectic; other times a treat to hear him and his friends play live 20 feet away. Mostly he and his friends enlivened the dock nicely. Best was getting invited to crew an evening sail on the Mayan, leaving David free to play music under sail with his pals, ghosting along at sunset.”

Yucca and Mayan
Mayan with Yucca in the 2022 Rolex Big Boat Series.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

We contacted Beau Vrolyk, who told us about his ownership, and more about Crosby’s life and his preservation of Mayan.

“Without David’s deep affection for Mayan she would have never survived. In the mid-’90s he moved her to Santa Barbara, and by 2000 she was in need of a full refit.

“The master shipwright Wayne Ettel (who recently rebuilt Chubasco‘s hull) went over her and then sailed her back to Santa Barbara, where she would stay as he and David discussed her future. After that sail in the strong winds and big seas that can build up along the north side of Santa Cruz Island, Wayne decided, ‘This boat needs to be saved.’ In 2005, after two years of work at Wayne’s yard, she was re-launched with her hull and deck entirely rebuilt, her rigging renewed, and her engine rebuilt. Mayan would not be here today without David having poured affection and treasure into her.

“When we saw her in 2014, my wife Stacey and I fell in love. Wayne had preserved much of her original interior, built of the beautiful mahogany of Belize, where she was built. We’ve had Wayne return some of the interior closer to Alden’s original design, and we recently had Matthew Coale in Santa Cruz return her rig to a transitional schooner with a gaff foresail.

“Of course, we’ll race any boat we own, even though that was not why we bought Mayan. She has turned out to be far swifter than we expected, having taken second in the Classic Class of the Rolex Big Boat Series twice, and first once. When racing or cruising in the ocean, she is amazingly stable and easygoing. We expect to continue cruising her in 2024, when she’ll have retired from being the StFYC flagship.

“I talked to David a few weeks before he crossed the bar; he was happy and told me we were crazy to race her. ‘Relax and go someplace warm with your family and friends.’ Great advice from a great sailor.”

When he put the boat up for sale in 2009, we quote Crosby saying, “After 40 years of sailing and writing many of my best songs aboard, I have reached the point where I must let her go.” Mayan was reportedly the inspiration for many of his songs, including Wooden Ships and Lee Shore.

Fair winds, sailor.

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A Sailor’s Search for the 10-Meter Yacht ‘Sirius’

Sausalito sailor Fred Huffman of the the Contessa 35 La Diana has been reminiscing about a certain sailboat, a 10-Meter racer named Sirius. Fred is hoping someone among our readers may also remember the boat and have some idea of what has become of her.

Since my birth in 1938, I was raised sailing; however I didn’t begin ocean racing until 1956. That year I crewed aboard the 66-ft ketch Nam Sang — a true yacht — in the San Diego to Acapulco Race. That did it: I became totally engrossed in yacht racing. Soon, I was a crewmember aboard the 46-ft  Kettenburg-built PCC Squall (PCC hull #1) in “class” races, and I especially loved the ocean-race courses around the various Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. Los Angeles Yacht Club’s annual Whitney Series of seven ocean races was hugely popular at the time. The 1957 Transpac Race aboard Squall was the first of my 10 TP races.

As I recall, during those years there were around five 10-Meter racing yachts actively racing in our area. The 10-Meter Sirius was the best of them; she was quite unbeatable in the few class races that occurred, and she often raced in the Whitney Series races. We crews of other race boats only saw her before the starts because she quickly sailed away from the fleet, usually finishing first, and often winning the races on corrected time.

Some years later, I reconnected with Sirius (then with a new owner) and had the thrill of racing aboard her in some 10-Meter regattas and in the 1966 Big Boat Series in the Bay. We had daily boat-for-boat-races with Baruna, the beautiful 72-ft yawl that was called “The Belle of the Bay.” We ended up beating Baruna in that regatta.

In those years I was painting and varnishing yachts for a living, and I acquired the job of refinishing all the brightwork on Sirius, including her varnished spruce mast, and repainting her light-gray topsides.

I haven’t seen Sirius for at least 30 years, and I wonder if any reader of your fine rag might have some current news about the beautiful Sirius.

classic sailboats sailing - 10-meter
This is not Sirius but the10-Meter Sally photographed during the Ancient Mariners Sailing Society of San Diego’s last 2022 regatta, the Half Pint of Rum Race.
© 2023 James Ward

The 10-Meter Sirius was, of course, wooden. She was — hopefully, still is — a low, sleek beauty, around 55- or 60-ft long, I think. I wish I had an actual photo of her.

If anyone has any knowledge of the Sirius in question, please let us know in the comment below, or by email at [email protected].

The 10-Meter Sally will be celebrating it’s 100th birthday in 2027 and currently resides at the San Diego Yacht Club near her sistership the 10-Meter Branta.  

Discover Elemental Luxury on the Cape Less Traveled

Forty-five minutes from the Los Cabos airport, Costa Palmas is a 1500-acre master-planned resort community on Baja’s East Cape. Here, on two miles of swimmable beachfront on the Sea of Cortez, owners connect to clubhouses, a Robert Trent Jones II course, Baja’s first luxury marina and village.

California King Tides Coming This Weekend

We had a short note planned to remind folks of the upcoming weekend’s king tides when we received an email from reader Craig Russell of the Emeryville-based Jeanneau 40 Aquarius with a story on the king tides by Liam O’Donoghue in SFGate. The king tides are mostly known for flooding the streets, shorting out cars parked in low-lying areas, and straining dock systems and on-ramps. The article also reminded us how the low tides expose Ashby Shoal, off Emeryville. The shoal then becomes a destination for adventurous revelers, including Berkeley Yacht Club and Cal Sailing Club member Paul Kamen, who supplied the pictures below.

Ashby Shoal
The temporary island becomes big enough to host a party.
© 2023 Paul Kamen

Latitude 38‘s June 1991 issue even has a story of a muddy, low-tide wedding that was held out on the shoal. According to SFGate, the shoal appeared in the Bay sometime in the 1900s as sedimentation increased from mining in the 1800s, and possibly due to highway building and other coastal construction.

Ashby Shoal
Ashby Shoal has hosted many a party over the years.
© 2023 Paul Kamen

The king tides were here for the winter solstice and are here again this weekend, with the king high tide on the Bay around 10:30 on Saturday morning and the low tide around 5:30 Saturday evening. Those racing in the Corinthian Yacht Club midwinters this weekend know a long afternoon ebb combined with heavy mountain and rain runoff could create a challenging afternoon of fighting the current if the air is light. Have your anchors ready.

Paul Kamen Ashby Shoal
Paul Kamen, with Twilight Zone in the background, demonstrates some of these parties can be formal affairs.
© 2023 Paul Kamen

If you’re out and about on Saturday morning with your camera (who is ever without a camera anymore?) the California Coastal Commission is collecting your photos of high-tide impacts along the coast. If you’ve got that awesome shot, you can upload it to CCC here. If you’ve got an awesome shot of yourself and your crew fighting the ebb on Saturday afternoon, or celebrating on Ashby Shoal on Saturday evening, you can send those to Latitude 38 here.

Ashby Shoal
There aren’t many uninhabited, unrestricted, unpatrolled destination islands on San Francisco Bay, but Ashby Island is one of them. It just doesn’t appear often.
© 2023 Paul Kamen

We always think big tides come with a full moon, but they also happen with a new moon, which is the case tomorrow night. The moon will be on the same side of the Earth as the sun, giving some extra gravitational pull to the tidal wave that rolls around the Earth. Curiously, tomorrow is also the closest the moon has come to our planet since the year 1030. Tomorrow the moon will be just 221,561 miles away. Seems like a good night for Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos to rush up there.

Ashby shoal fire
Those who come prepared are ready to put on quite a shindig.
© 2023 Paul Kamen

It’s not often the king tides fall during the daylight on weekends. If you’re a curious tide-gawker, it’s worth a stroll along your favorite lowland location, like the Marinship in Sausalito, the Mill Vally bike paths, the Tiburon post office, and surely many other low-lying areas around the Bay.

The silt site is hiding in plain sight. Normally boaters avoid a place on a chart like Ashby Shoal. Instead, king low tides are a magnet for boaters on the Bay.
© 2023 Paul Kamen

No reservations are required at this first-come, first-served location, but space is limited, and after a while, it disappears completely.



From Racing to Cruising: News Bites Ahead of a Sunny Weekend

Ocean Racing

Earlier this week we were preparing a story about the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild’s departure for their record attempt to capture the Jules Verne Trophy. Last Friday, the 13th, the team had left their base in Lorient to head for Brest in order to get as close as possible to Ushant and the start line. But the date appears to have left its mark and the weather didn’t cooperate. Although a weather window did indeed open, it did not include a good forecast for the South Atlantic and the passage time at the Cape of Good Hope. Thus the decision was made to wait for a better sequence that meets their expectations and the potential of the maxi-mulithull.

“To my mind, it’s a fairly average weather window as it doesn’t have all the ingredients in the South Atlantic to secure a very good time to Cape Agulhas,” the team’s weather router Marcel van Triest stated on Saturday.

Two days ago, on Wednesday, the boat turned around and sailed back to Lorient, where the team will remain vigilant and on their toes as they continue to monitor any evolution in the weather conditions.

Gitana 17 trimaran
Maxi Edmond de Rothschild: the first-launched and now most evolved of this new breed of foiling maxi-trimarans, is waiting its opportunity to set a new record in the Jules Verne Trophy.
© 2023 Pilpre Arnaud

Casual Cruising

Well, this isn’t really news, but more of a shout-out to cruising and cruisers.

Longtime sailors and Latitude 38 fans Laura and Rich Brazil, from Petaluma but currently in Barra de Navidad aboard their 1987 Nauticat 43, Tally Ho, dropped us a line to let us know how difficult their lives are right now. Ahem… not.

“Decisions, decisions. Do we sail five hours south to beautiful Manzinillo and anchor out in front of the picturesque Las Hadas resort (Google it), or, cozy Tally Ho into Carrizal Cove, with its bath-water snorkeling amongst its vibrant coral reefs?

“Hmmm, we could sail three hours north and get lost in the laziness of Tenacatita, with happy cruisers and clocks that don’t tick.

“And yet, maybe we’ll stay put in the Barra de Navidad Marina, complete with tennis courts, palm-tree-lined, multi-tiered pool, complete with water slides?

“Hmmm, decisions, decisions.

“If you’re thinking of buying a boat, think no more. Go! Before it’s too late.

“Sorry, no pictures. That would be mean.”

Laura and Rich Brazil
Laura and Rich Brazil have been alternating their time between Petaluma and cruising in Mexico for years. We have to admit, they look pretty happy!
© 2023 Rich Brazil

Psst… don’t tell them; we found a photo of Tally Ho!

Cruising in Mexico
Tally Ho cruising in the beautiful Mexico waters.
© 2023 Richard Spindler

Want to join them? Go shopping in Latitude‘s Classy Classifieds and find your own adventure vessel.


Sailors' Stories
Hear what goes into building a tall ship, how to sail from Minnesota to the Caribbean, abandon ship, dodge hurricanes and winter, and about Alan’s five years at a Buddhist monastery.
From the Archives
Today we're taking a step back to January 18, 2013, when the day's news included snippets of ocean racing, kiteboarding (no foils yet), and seeing the light.