One of the more unusual casualties of Tuesday’s bomb cyclone was the sinking of the renowned Sausalito houseboat known as the Taj Mahal. There aren’t many sailors on San Francisco Bay who haven’t sailed by this well-recognized waterfront landmark that has resided just inside the Sausalito Yacht Harbor breakwater for over four decades. As Heather Richard’s video showed in our Wednesday story, Sausalito was one of many areas to get pummeled by wind and waves. Apparently, the Taj Mahal flooded and began going down. It’s now being raised, though with unknown long-term consequences.
The building has been a private residence since real-estate developer and vineyard owner Bill Harlan built it after a trip to India in the ’70s. It is reported to be beautifully appointed with marble floors, a wine cellar, a top-level solarium, sauna and more. It has always been a treat to sail by this palace on the water. Harlan sold the Taj Mahal many years ago.
The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous houseboats in Sausalito, amongst the unique Sausalito houseboat community. We hope she can be returned to her former glory and continue to be a “landmark” for all to see while sailing along the Sausalito waterfront.
Shortly after we wrote the words above we received the photo below from Sandra Bushmaker in Sausalito. Sandra wrote, “My boat is on A dock at Sausalito Yacht Harbor. I took this photo yesterday of the sunk Taj Mahal. I heard today that she will be scrapped as they cannot refloat her. Very sad loss of a Sausalito Waterfront icon and neighbor.”
Sandra went on to say, “The sinking is very sad. It’s like having a favorite part of my neighborhood removed abruptly. I have had a boat on A dock for decades. The picture I sent (above) was from my boat. Here is another taken seven years ago when I brought my boat up from Los Angeles passing the Taj heading for my slip. That is I standing in yellow top.
“I have a Nonsuch 30 Ultra, Wishbone, my fourth Nonsuch. I had a photo in Latitude 38 25 years ago on my Nonsuch 22 when I was mayor of Sausalito.’
We can’t agree more. Sailing through Sausalito won’t be the same without the Taj Mahal.
Del Rey Yacht Club and South Bay Yacht Racing Club got back into their pre-COVID swing to present the annual “Intro to Yacht Racing” seminar at Del Rey YC on March 18. Forty participants, most of whom had never raced before, attended a full day of on-the-water demonstrations and practice, followed by a race exhibition. DRYC club member Brendan Huffman sent us the following report of their successful day.
“Prior to COVID, this event had introduced hundreds of beginners to the local racing scene and trained them just in time for the local beer can races and weekend regattas.
“Without health restrictions and concerns, we were back at it with 10 boat owners who generously dedicated their time to teaching participants how their boats worked and what to expect on the race course. These boats ranged in size from a J/22 to a Farr 44 and included cruisers such as two Catalina 42s and higher-performance boats like a One Design 35.”
“Luckily for us, this sunny event occurred between storms and gale warnings with snowy mountains in the distance.”
“Following the friendly competition, participants gathered back at the club for the usual post-race social event and exchange of stories while learning from the more experienced racers. Many secured invitations to race this spring, and event organizers are staying in touch with all participants with information about upcoming seminars, regattas, and crewing opportunities.”
“For those interested in racing in Santa Monica Bay, a good way to get connected is via our Facebook group, DRYC Racing Group.”
Brendan Huffman was a guest on Latitude 38‘s sailing podcast Good Jibes in September 2021. Tune in here to hear Brendan chat about how he prepared for the Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race from San Francisco to Hawaii, including how to prepare and take safety precautions for a giant race, what to do if you wipe out or get thrown overboard, how to eat and sleep during the race, debunking sailing superstitions, and the emotions that come with casting off for a long journey and then finishing to friends and family in beautiful Hawaii.
Build your offshore sailing skills with Shearwater Sailing’s flagship Atalanta on the 100 nautical mile trip north from Monterey to San Francisco on April 23 or on the return from SF to Monterey on May 21.
Learn More: www.shearwatersailing.net/offshore
On a rainy Saturday in mid-January, a crowd of well-wishers gathered at Easom Rigging in Richmond for the unveiling of the newest piece of hardware on San Francisco Bay: the Hank Easom racing mark, which pays tribute to one of San Francisco Bay racing’s greatest treasures, friends and competitors. The clouds parted and the skies dried just as Hank arrived for the joyous reveal party. The buoy was installed in its permanent mooring site off the Marin headlands — otherwise known as Yellow Bluff — on Tuesday, February 7.
On February 14, Hank Easom passed away. He was 88.
A lifelong resident of the Tiburon Peninsula, Hank began sailing a Moon boat with his older brother, Bruce, at age 8, but didn’t win his first race against the adults until age 11. At 13, Hank landed a job working at Clipper boatyard in Sausalito on the condition that he buy a kit and build a 20-ft Clipper dinghy. Upon completion of the boat, Hank sailed his Clipper from Tiburon to work at the boatyard in Sausalito every day. Hank got a taste of his first big win as a 15-year-old crewing on a Mercury. He and his skipper won the 1950 Mercury National Championships representing Sausalito Yacht Club.
Hank mustered out of the Coast Guard on March 11, 1955, and on March 12, established Easom Boatworks on the historical Marinship waterfront in Sausalito. He continued to race at every opportunity, often recruiting his workers as crew — while Easom Boatworks quickly built a reputation for quality.
Hank had a long, winning legacy on San Francisco Bay, with headlines announcing his winning ways. “Hank Easom Sails to Win In Mallory Cup Series Test,” read a 1983 San Francisco Chronicle headline. “Easom Adds Lipton Cup,” read another.
We cannot help but remember Hank Easom as the owner, steward, and masterful tactician of Yucca, his classic 8-meter yacht. Built in 1937 and raced competitively under his ownership for 53 years — from 1964 until 2017 — this beautifully maintained wooden sailboat still graces San Francisco Bay. Not surprisingly, Hank’s 36-ft Sabre Spirit Serenade still found its way to the podium.
Crewing for Hank was a rewarding experience for Bay Area racers looking for on-board camaraderie and the opportunity to hone skills in sail trim and tactics. Hank had decades of experience in navigating the nuances of the Bay’s tricky wind and currents. Many of Hank’s male and female crew have gone on to success racing their own boats.
Selected as Yachtsman of the Year by the St. Francis Yacht Club in 1971, and the San Francisco Yacht Club in 1990 and 2014, Hank Easom is the embodiment of gracious Corinthian spirit, which shapes and guides our lives on and off the water. Three weeks after the January 14 reveal party, Hank won his last race in the Golden Gate Midwinters aboard Serenade by beating his closest competition … by 20 minutes — a remarkable achievement. Serenade also came in first in his class and first overall.
Crisp blue skies and startlingly blue water set the stage for last month’s fourth annual Bocas del Toro Regatta. The Bocas Regatta is a pursuit race, the first of which ran in February 2019, as an idea conceived by Colin MacRae and sponsored by the Bocas Marina. More than 35 boats participated before hundreds of spectators. The event has since run every year except 2021, with West Coast sailor Louis Kruk of S/Y Cirque competing in and winning three out of the four regattas — 2019, 2020 and 2023. He sent us the report and photos below.
This year’s event began with the 25 participating crews forming a short “parade” before taking their places in the PHRF handicap staggered start to complete two laps of a 5nm triangular course bounded by the islands Isla Colon, Isla Carenero, Isla Solarte and Isla San Cristóbal.
Another West Coast sailor, Kevin Cole, and his crew Negar Baharlou, came in fifth aboard the Amel 53 Anahita, of Sausalito. The full race results can be found here.
As occurred after the first Boca Regatta, boats’ part of the entrance fees will be donated to a local nonprofit organization. At the time of this writing the recipient organization has not been announced.
While Louis is usually the photographer of the photos he sends us, being busy in the race necessitated his sharing of others’ photos. He did, however, send us a couple of his own photos that he says illustrate some of the “beautiful reasons” he and others enjoy spending time in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago.
While looking at stories for Women’s History Month we looked at the back issues of Latitude 38, where we rediscovered that our very first “Women’s Issue” was published in February 1979. The intro page started with the title “The Women’s Issue (well sort of).” The copy went on to explain:
“This issue, the ‘Women’s Issue’ as we’ve called it, is a bit of a failure. We have no idea what gave us the preposterous notion that we could ‘cover’ women in sailing in just one issue — and we rapidly found out how preposterous it was! The fact is that women are everywhere in sailing; women buy boats, sell boats, steal boats, cruise boats, race boats, live aboard boats, sink boats, and build boats. You name it; women do it!”
“Given the economics of publishing there was no way [we] could even begin to write about all the women who should be written about or even — and we’re going to really catch all hell here — or even the women we promised we would write about. So what we’ve done is the best we could under the circumstances, using articles about women in a variety of sailing situations in the hope that it will begin to give you some idea of how deeply they are involved in sailing. We specifically decided not to focus on the best in every area, but some who are good at what they do, some who are just getting started, and some are just mediocre — after all, they’re all part of it.”
“Next month there will be more, much more, as there will be in the months to come. In the meantime we want to offer our sincerest apologies to those women who should have been in this issue, women like Millie Bratenahl, Susie Klein, Poppy Truman, Marina Park, Pam Poletti, Zona Caesar, Lynn Huntley, Edna Robinson, Diane Beeston, Dianne Chute, Bev Wilson, Kitty James, Chris Kaplan; Carol Jesmore, Suzanne Vaughn, Sally Rowe, Kitty at Mariner Square Yachts, Karen Thompson, Ann Stewart, Jane Rundell, the women of the Island Yacht Club, the Sea Wenches, the Night Crawlers, Josselyn Robertson, Alex Monson, Sally Lind, Mary Jo Foote, Cecily Wilson, Nancy Farnum, Mary Boyce, Marsha Peck, Nancy Rogers, Rosemary Seal, Ln Neale, Harriet Minkowitz, Shelley Stevens, Allison Wohleb, yes and even Elain Sailor who takes the boating ads for the Chronicle and Joan Kiel who used to make boat loans. And, we’re certainly not forgetting the Santa Cruz women who are in the next issue for sure: Mary Duffield, Joy Free, Ruth Tara, Jane Ellis, Karen Trap, Cynthia Hubbard, Susie Synder, Becky Walsh, Dianna Mercer, Cindy Philipie, Debbie Gross, Mary Ann Foley, Ranie Bassano, Dana Marsh, Evelyn Drew, Eileen Sundett, and Maurya Malloy.”
Since Latitude 38 hadn’t yet reached its second birthday in 1979, it’s obvious the history of women in sailing started long before the magazine. Though the quality of the scans of our old issues can be a little dark, you can zoom in to read the features in that 1979 issue on Jocelyn Nash, Linda Weber-Rettie (Newland), Jane Pereth, Joan Duffield, Paula Blasier, Lynn Tweedie and Elly Dowd. There are plenty of women in sailing continuing to make history, so we continue to cover endless stories on folks like four-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Daniela Moroz to match-racing champion Nicole Breault to solo circumnavigator Jean Socrates to the captains of the brigantine Matthew Turner. By mentioning just a few names, we know how publisher Richard Spindler felt in 1979. We immediately think of the endless list of names we’re not mentioning. The problem that existed in 1979 remains today; there are just too many women doing too many things to cover them all.
Spring cruising sailboat auction is underway. Hull, mechanical, engine surveys and more. Inspect in person, bid online.