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June 26, 2023

Seventeen Solo Sailors Set Out to Sea

On Sunday, June 25, 17 singlehanded sailors pointed their bows out the Golden Gate with their final destination a virtual finish line in Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kauai. Their crafts, all monohulls, vary wildly from three Westsail 32s to a 1D35. Finishers in the Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race should arrive at the Garden Isle in about 12 to 20 days.

Westsail 32 Hula
Bill Stange’s Washington-based Westsail 32 Hula led the way out the Gate and is still among the leaders a day after the start.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
1D35 Such Fast
Another boat from Washington, David Garman’s 1D35 was pointing high, taking the Golden Gate Bridge just to the north of center span. Garman and Stange are both repeat SHTPers.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Skip Allan gave the weather briefing at the skippers’ meeting on Saturday at Richmond Yacht Club. He correctly predicted the conditions at the start. About 10 knots from the southwest and an ebb current propelled the starters off the line at Golden Gate YC in the 10 a.m. hour. With south in the breeze, port tack was heavily favored for the exit out of San Francisco Bay.

Skippers meeting
“How many are first-timers?” (The folks in the back are family members, friends and veterans of past races.) The answer is 9 out of the 17.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
John Wilkerson on Perplexity
John Wilkerson and his Express 37 Perplexity were among the out-of-towners that RYC hosted in their harbor. John is another sailor from Washington. Note the dodger. It’s the third he’s built for Perplexity. For the 2021 SHTP, he’d built one of plywood. In 2022, he did the Pacific Cup with a fiberglass one, but lost it overboard. He made the new one of carbon fiber.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Up the mast of a Cal 40
Race prep continued after the skippers’ meeting, including a last-afternoon rig climb on the Monterey-based Cal 40 Solstice.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Gwendolyn towed by Another Girl
On the morning of the race, Todd Olsen on the Olson 29 Gwendolyn got a push off the dock from local RYC folks and a tow to the startline from Kim Desenberg, Milly Biller and Skip Allan on the Alerion 38 Another Girl.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The skippers, all men, range in age from 39 to 70. Piyush Arora of San Francisco is the youngest, and Max Crittenden of Borrego Springs the oldest.

Piyush Arora on Horizon
Piyush Arora is sailing in his first SHTP on the Beneteau First 305 Horizon.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Max Crittenden on Iniscaw
Max Crittenden returned to the Bay Area from SoCal for his second SHTP with the Martin 32 Iniscaw, which he keeps in Oceanside.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Circe from the bridge
Another first-timer is Tony Bourque on the RYC-based Freedom 40/40 Circe.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

We’ll head over to Hawaii on July 7 to greet the sailors. Will we beat the two fastest-rated boats, Such Fast and Sean Mulvihill’s J/120 Jamani? The fleet made amazingly quick work of the first 24 hours; they’re sailing on a fast reach today. But the Pacific High is a hot mess right now, spread out and morphing shape like Jell-O. It’s a year to dip south of the rhumb line.

We’ll have a couple more reports here on ‘Lectronic Latitude and a feature in the August issue of Latitude 38. In the meantime, head over to the Singlehanded Sailing Society’s website at and check out the tracker on Jibeset. As of this morning, Such Fast was farthest south. Michael Polkabla’s Cal 40 Solstice was farthest west with the shortest distance left to sail. Sistership Green Buffalo is hot on her heels.

We’ll leave you today with a thought from 13-time SHTP sailor Ken “The General” Roper, passed along at the skippers’ meeting from another multiple recidivist, Mike Jefferson: “It’s easy to do a SHTP. Just get in your boat and go.”

Spectacular First Weekend of Summer for Summer Sailstice

“Not all who wander are lost” are words from J.R.R. Tolkien that should resonate with most who sailed the Bay and elsewhere on this Summer Sailstice weekend. Yes, there were very purposeful racers out there too, but the Bay was full of boats that just went sailing. Cool fog always threatens to be a permanent feature of summer on the Bay, but this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday saw the sun winning out each day. There were plenty of sunny, warm daylight hours for sailing. The weekend started, for us, with a very comfortable evening for Friday Night Beer Can Racing, followed by a sunny Saturday and Sunday with reasonably brisk winds in the Slot, but plenty of sunshine around the Bay.

Summer Sailstice Iolani
Barry and Sylvia Stompe were out wandering the Bay with friends aboard their beautiful 48-ft yawl Iolani.

After our Friday night race, we had a wandering sail and lunch stop in the lee of Tiburon on Saturday, and a spectator run to watch the start of the Singlehanded Transpac Race on Sunday. Sunday was interesting, with sun and blue sky in the middle of the Bay at 10:30 in the morning, while the edges of the Bay were cloudy and gray.

Summer Sailstice
Dream Catcher was catching the sun on Saturday in Raccoon Strait.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

People joined in for a Summer Sailstice sail from all over the world, with West Coast sailors joining from Alaska to Marina Riviera Nayarit with the Umbrella Downwinder in Banderas Bay.

Lyall Burgess
Lyall and Katie Burgess from Hawaii were actually out sailing in the Bahamas with their daughters for Summer Sailstice.
© 2023 Katie Burgess
West Coast Multihulls Summer Sailstice cruise.
West Coast Multihulls found sunshine on San Diego Bay for a Summer Sailstice cruise.
© 2023 West Coast Multihulls
Summer Sailstice Aegea
The Sabre 36 Aegea was also out wandering the Bay with friends for Summer Sailstice.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Santanal 35 Ahi Andy Newell
Those not wandering included Andy Newell and the crew of his Santana 35 Ahi in the Half Moon Bay Regatta.
© 2023 Fernando Rosero
Summer Sailstice Finistere Sabre 38
All was good aboard the good ship Finistere for a Saturday sail with Liz and Roger Krakow, Jim and Meredith Tull, and Leslie and John Arndt.
© 2023 Meredith Tull
Gord Fulcher
It looked a little gray and cool in British Columbia, but it was still good for a weekend sail.
© 2023 Gord Fulcher

We always feel fortunate to be able to sail 12 months a year, though it can soften the intensity that cooler regions experience during their brief summer sailing season. However, as in all sailing regions in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are longer, school is out, and the work schedule chills, giving everyone more time to cast off for a wander on the Bay or anywhere on California’s long coastline. The summer started out right and we hope to see you out there again soon.

Delta Meets Bay as Cal Maritime Academy Student Sails the Gap

The day after turning 19, Takoda Fletcher got his USCG captain’s license, and the rest is history. As a student of Cal Maritime Academy Fletcher is doing the most when it comes to on-the-water pursuits. From sailing boats like the Santa Cruz 50 Bay Wolf for Captain Kirk’s San Francisco Sailing Charters, to moving boats bigger than this writer’s imagination — he’s a Bay Area sailor through and through.

Captain Takoda Fletcher at the helm of SV Bay Wolf.
© 2023 Takoda Fletcher
Another day, another charter with Captain Fletcher enjoying the big Bay winds.
© 2023 Takoda Fletcher

But here’s the interesting twist: Cal Maritime is in Vallejo, sitting at the mouth of the Delta, the cruising ground and playground for summer-seekers in the Central Bay. Fletcher’s sailing history sits squarely between his San Francisco Bay roots and his Delta influences from the academy.

The academy education is not for the faint of heart. “It’s not a place you go to party. You get a really high-quality sailing education. Most grads can expect to make six figures after graduating, but it’s a brutal slog, says Takoda. Courses get more and more difficult as you go through,” he admits. “You don’t get a summer vacation, but that’s because you’re on a 500-ft training ship! It’s the coolest experience ever, to go to the academy and learn how to run a big ship. At the end, you feel really rewarded that you got through.”

During his time at the academy, Fletcher still found his way onto sailboats and sailed the Delta. “I formed a lot of connections in the Delta. I started remodeling a 50-ft tugboat for Bill Atthowe. He’s one of my key mentors, and he has really supported me through my time at Cal Maritime. I would advise anyone who wants to become a sailor to find people who have already done it. Learn from them and follow their lead — I have several mentors, and it has been really critical as I have gotten better at sailing and got my captain’s license,” Fletcher says. Between classes and sailing and remodeling and being mentored, Fletcher has sailed throughout the Delta and the Central Bay. “I bought a 26-ft sailboat on Craigslist for $2,000, and I sailed it from San Mateo to Bethel Island to Stockton, where I finally hauled it out. I sailed it back to San Mateo, and it became my home.”

A Cal Maritime Academy sailor with the training ship in background.
© 2023 Takoda Fletcher

Now, with his 200-ton master’s license, which allows him to sail vessels up to 120-ft long, he’s “running all the yachts” in the Bay Area, including the lovely Monte Fino de Négoce, an 80-ft motor yacht on which he is the full-time liveaboard captain.

Sounds great, right? But Fletcher’s story is not without its challenges. How did he start captaining for charters? He needed tuition money and found his way into chartering by walking up and down docks looking for work to use his education and passion for the maritime industry.

Fletcher can give good advice learned from his mentors over the years, and appreciates the sailing community in the Bay for its inclusivity. “There hasn’t been difficulty here, as a gay captain. Everyone is very much open to gay people in the Bay Area. It’s a very kind, accepting, fostering community.”

When Fletcher was coming out, he worked more and more on his sailing career. “You can escape out to sea; that’s the nice part about sailing,” Fletcher says. “To anyone who is gay on a boat, or isn’t out yet, or struggling with internal emotions that they can’t express — take anything that you feel, and just know that there are people who love you in the world. Sailing has been one of the best outlets for me as a way to express myself and have a very successful career.”

Editor’s note as of 05 July 2023: Cal Maritime Admissions and Records personnel were not available for comment.

Did You Know? You Can Find All Sorts of Things in the ‘Classy Classifieds’

Do you remember those lazy weekend hours spent browsing the Trading Post for boats and a host of other items you didn’t know you needed until your saw them advertised? Browsing Latitude 38 Classy Classifieds online and in the magazine still provides the serendipitous opportunity to discover potential life-changing opportunities. The Classys is more than just a great place to advertise your boat for sale, or to buy a boat. It’s a versatile platform upon which you can also advertise jobs, list or find boat partnership opportunities, sell boat gear and trailers … you can even post an ad for a sailing partner to join you on the water! And currently we’re running one such ad — a woman who has motored and sailed on the Bay and Delta, chartered in BVI and Greece, and is missing boating life is looking for someone with whom she can “share the passion for boating.”

In the gear and trailer sections, an advertiser wants to return boat fittings that belong to a Lake Union Dreamboat that was “bought at auction from Oyster Point Marina after she sank.” And another advertiser is selling an EZ Loader Trailer that carries a 19- to 22-ft boat with a maximum weight of 2,000 lbs. The photo shows the trailer holding what looks like an oceangoing rowboat. Getting outfitted for ocean crossings in rowboats and kayaks seems to be a thing these days, so maybe you or someone you know needs a trailer like this one?

Boat not included.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Classy Classifieds

Here’s another ad we didn’t expect to see: a cottage for rent, in Maine. If you’re looking to spend time over East, what a great place to be located! “… [B]reathtaking sunsets … perfect for kayaking adventures, watching wildlife, and relaxing by the sea as the afternoon light floods the windows.”

classy classifieds ad
Yes, please!!!
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Classy Classifieds

And how about some group meetups? The Barbary Coast Boating Club is inviting everyone to “discover our fun and friendly group of sailors. BCBC is the premier LGBTQ boating club in S.F. Bay and Delta since 1982” and is a proud member of PICYA, with monthly meetings and social raft-ups/cruise-ins in the S.F. Bay and CA Delta.

But there’s so much more to see in the Classy Classifieds. You can check out all the pages and categories both online and in the monthly print magazine. Along with boats and gear for sale and wanted, there are job advertisements, upcoming nautical flea markets, berths and slips for sale or rent … We could go on all day, but we have more work to do. So go take a look yourself — you might just find that thing you didn’t know you needed.