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August 7, 2023

Sailor Reported Missing, Windsurfer Rescued, and Boat Beached at Stinson

There’s never a dull moment on the water. Today we awoke to reports of a sailor who left Sitka, Alaska, for San Diego without a working engine and is potentially missing; a windsurfer who was rescued near Point Bonita Lighthouse; and a sailboat aground at Stinson Beach.

Rory Conan Williams, 45, left Sitka, Alaska, on July 9, and had expected to arrive at his destination on July 27, where he planned to visit his mother before continuing on to Mexico. On August 4, the USCG issued an alert asking mariners to be on the lookout for Legz, a 32-ft white-hulled sloop with navy-blue sail covers and a radar on the stern. The boat was formerly named Allegro.

According to Insider, one of Williams’ sails had reportedly ripped soon after his departing Alaska. Cheston Clark, a fisherman in Sitka who says he is a friend of Williams, told Insider that he’d urged Williams not to go. He said that Williams had approached him and asked if he would tow his boat from the harbor to deeper waters, so he could sail down to Southern California.

“[I] asked him not to continue on with that plan without fixing his engine first,” Clark told Insider. “And he said, ‘Nope, the engine’s not fixable,’ for whatever reason.”

Missing sailor Rory Conan Williams
Pictures of Williams and his boat as posted on the Boat Watch Facebook page.
© 2023 Facebook/Boat Watch

Williams is described as “an experienced sailor, one confident enough in his abilities to attempt a journey of thousands of miles without an engine.” But Clark said this may have led Williams to head farther out to sea, out of range of searching helicopters, rather than hugging the coast. Williams is believed to be carrying 45 days’ worth of provisions, and an EPIRB.

If anyone has seen this vessel or has further information, please advise RCC Alameda at (510) 437-3701, or your nearest Coast Guard authority.

Closer to home, a windsurfer was rescued off Point Bonita Lighthouse on Saturday night after a family member alerted the Coast Guard at around 7:55 p.m. An Air Station San Francisco MH-65 Dolphin helicopter air crew was launched along with a Coast Guard Station Golden Gate 47-ft Motor Lifeboat crew to search for the windsurfer. San Francisco Fire Department and San Francisco Police Department assets also launched to assist with search efforts.

The air crew located the windsurfer near the Point Bonita Lighthouse, and safely transported him to Air Station San Francisco. There were no reported medical concerns for the windsurfer.

Lastly, this morning we found a social media post showing a sailboat resting on the sand at Stinson Beach. There are many comments alluding to how the boat came to be beached, but as we don’t know the truth, we’ll avoid spreading rumors. If you know the story, let us know!

The curious case of the beached boat.
© 2023 Nextdoor/Joe Matazzoni

California Marine Flare Collection Events Coming Up

One of our favorite happenings of the year is just around the corner. California State Parks and California Coastal Commission’s Environmental Boating Program manager, Vivian Matuk, has alerted us to the upcoming Marine Flare Collection events taking place in California this month and next. The program is open to residents and boaters berthing their boats in Del Norte, Humboldt, Alameda, East Contra Costa, West Contra Costa and Marin counties, the City of Oceanside, and the Port of L.A.

These collection events are free. Here’s the full schedule and list of locations:

Southern California

  • City of Oceanside: Saturday, Sept. 9, 8 a.m.–12 p.m. at 1850 Harbor Dr. N, Oceanside, CA 92054.
  • Port of L.A.: Saturday, Sept. 9, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. at Cabrillo Way Marina, 2293 Miner St., San Pedro, CA 90731.

Northern California

  • East Contra Costa County: Aug. 17–Sept. 16, 2023, during business hours at 2550 Pittsburg-Antioch Hwy, Pittsburg, CA 94565.
  • West Contra Costa County: Aug. 16–Sept. 16, 2023,​ during business hours at 101 Pittsburg Avenue, Richmond, CA 94801.
  • Del Norte County: Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, 8 a.m.–12 p.m. at 1700 State Street, Crescent City, CA 95531.
    • Open to residents of Humboldt County.
  • Marin County: Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, 8 a.m.–12 p.m. at Clipper Yacht Harbor, 310 Harbor Drive, Sausalito, CA 94965.
  • Alameda County: Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, by appointment only.

Only expired marine flares from residents and boaters berthing their boats in the covered areas will be accepted. No marine flares from commercial craft or an organization, or other forms of household hazardous waste (HHW), will be accepted during the special event. Proof of residence or eligibility is required (i.e., license, registration, or slip fee).

We urge you to add your collection date to your calendar now, as Matuk writes, “If these free collection events are not well attended, we may lose these free disposal opportunities.” We certainly don’t want that to happen!

Marine Flare Collection flyer
Save the date, set your alarm, do whatever you need to ensure you get to hand over your expired marine flares.
© 2023

The collection events are supported by Alameda County, Delta Diablo, Del Norte County, West Contra Costa County, Marin County, the City of Oceanside, the Port of L.A., and the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) in partnership with CalRecycle, California State Parks, and the Coastal Commission’s California Boating Clean and Green Program.

For more information about expired marine flares and the benefits of using electronic distress signals, visit

Reading Magazines Brings the Sensual Pleasures of Touch

We’re sending out a reminder for everyone caught up in the digital, social and AI frenzy, while the Surgeon General announces a national epidemic of loneliness, that a visit to your local marine business will help reconnect you with the sensory experiences that make us human. A stop at KKMI, Marina Village, North Sails or any of our 700 magazine distributors on the West Coast is an opportunity for a friendly hello and for grabbing the tactile and sensual pleasures provided by reading a print copy of Latitude 38.

Latitude 38 magazine
We take great pride in the stories we tell, but have to admit that our Classy Classifieds remains one of our most popular sections.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Latitude 38 magazine
When we stopped into the Maine Yacht Center, we found a copy of Latitude 38 already in their comfortable waiting area. We added a copy of the July issue to their magazine collection. .
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Latitude 38 magazine
The warmth of wood is on full display during the annual Master Mariners Regatta, with the story best read undistracted with a cup of coffee at your chart table. It’s not pulp fiction — it’s real and true.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

While the experience is not the same, we do also provide the magazine in digital format as a flip viewer in Issuu, or as a PDF download. We recently upgraded our server, which temporarily eliminated our ability to put the August issue PDF online. We received a good number of complaints like this one from Papeete, Tahiiti:

“I’m sitting here on my boat in Papeete desperately [trying] to download your current issue.

“When I wasn’t logged in it showed the PDF for download. I tried and it said to log in, which I did, then the option to download went away, instead it wanted me to read on-line. As you can tell, I’m old, but I want to download it so I don’t use up data reading it. Anyway, sitting alone on a boat now and I was looking for a good read.

“Thanks for all you do.”

– John

Unlike California sailors, Tahiti sailors can’t walk into their local chandlery to pick up the real thing, and our PDF serves many cruisers who are out of the area. The problem is now fixed and you can find the PDF here. You can download or read online every issue, back to April 1977, when you scroll on our magazine page here.

If you are a West Coast sailor, stop by and say hello to one of our many distributors to pick up a hard copy, or, if you know of a location frequented by West Coast sailors that does not get the magazine, send their contact information here. Now, relax and enjoy the read.

Unplugging With Mellow Maine Sailing

It’s hard to beat sailing in Maine in the summer. Our annual family reunion trip to Maine always reminds us of how sailing became so deeply embedded in our DNA. Despite a very short season and unreliable weather, Maine has a deeply rooted waterfront and sailing culture. With a coastline as long as California’s but comprising endless islands, inlets, coves, peninsulas and other coastal features, it would take a lifetime to explore it all. We don’t even try. Our sailing in Maine is mostly the simple, short sails in an Ensign or Rhodes 19 that make for a pleasant afternoon or evening. No foiling, no racing, and nothing really edgy at all unless a thunderstorm happens to pass through.

Sailing in Maine
Members of the family cruising aboard the 1964 Rhodes 19 Serendipity.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Maine has had a particularly wet, foggy summer, so we felt fortunate to have a couple of mostly sunny weeks punctuated by a couple of cracking thunderstorms. We also swam a lot in water that was frighteningly warm. The swimming was pleasant but left us worrying about the planet. There was also no eelgrass, or mussels in the usual places, and very few lobster buoys for us to dodge this year. There didn’t appear to be a shortage of lobsters, but the condition of the water felt like the trends we’ve been watching continue in disturbing ways.

Sailing in Maine
The schooner Alert is frequently seen doing afternoon and sunset sails out of Cook’s Lobster House on Bailey Island, ME.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

We always slow down a bit while in Maine and try to unplug for a while, which, this year, was greatly aided by a failing computer and a failing Comcast cable line. It forced us offline more than usual, though, as our production manager Soren said to us, “Perhaps ‘Vacationland’ is telling you something.” We thought Starlink might make some sense but then thought we’d rather go sailing again.

Ensign in Maine
A casual evening sail on the 1966 family Ensign, Solvogn, bought in 1993 from Rob Anderson at Cal Adventures in Berkeley for $2500. The schooner Alert is following in the background.
© 2023 John
No battens
Steve managed the spinnaker for the evening sail. We still need to replace the missing battens.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Sunset on Orrs Island
Sunsets on Orrs Island can be spectacular.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
A Friendship Sloop
The Friendship sloop Gannet is also frequently seen sailing on Harpswell Sound.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Sailing in Maine
The mellow sailing we practiced on Harpswell Sound was a sharp contrast to the high-performance world of Ronnie Simpson, who was preparing Sparrow for the the Global Solo Challenge at the Maine Yacht Center in Portland.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
The schooner Alert returns to the harbor after a sunset sail.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Boats are typically in the water from Memorial Day to Labor Day, or even less. It’s brief but beautiful. Maine is a long way north if you’re cruising up the East Coast from the Caribbean, but if you can fit in a summer cruise on the coast of Maine you’ll be glad you did. There are thousands of islands to visit, boatyards and boat builders still busily practicing their craft, and a pace of life that still feels quaint in the hustle of modern living.

Waiting it out
The Delta waterways are dotted with bridges and diversions. If you've sailed up and down a lot, it can be easy to assume you know all the opening schedules; we've been guilty of that.
From the Magazine
In 2004, Wylie told 'Latitude', "I may not have been the best at business, but of all the people I've worked with over the years, I can't think of one who I couldn't go up to and shake hands with."