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August 11, 2023

Devastation in Lahaina as Town Lies in Ruins

The death toll from the fire that tore through Maui’s waterfront town of Lahaina this week now stands at 55, with many people still missing. NBC News reports that the mayor is expected to announce today that people will be able to go and see their homes. Lahaina’s residents and their friends have been sharing stories with each other and across social media, all speaking of the same devastation that has been shown in the news. We reached out to Bay Area sailor Ronnie Simpson of SV Sparrow, who spent many years living in the township. He told us that all the homes he knew there are now ash.

Ronnie has heard from friends saying they are safe; however their boats have not all survived. With little notice or time to react, and unable to take their boats out of their slips in the gusting 70-knot winds, boat owners fled on tenders as flames, ash and smoke poured over them and those who had jumped into the water for safety and clung to rocks before being picked up by the Coast Guard. One good note: Ronnie said that all the charter catamarans that survived the fire “are now running people and supplies north and south, in and out of Lahaina.”

Latitude 38 reader Barry Spanier wrote, “Flaming diesel in the water, boats broken loose as the docklines burned, then blowing down the harbor. Apparently there were boats on moorings in the roadstead that burned like torches.” Barry once owned a sail loft in Lahaina. The loft survived, but his son, who now runs the loft, escaped his home with just a backpack and his bike.

Barry’s former boat, the Westsail 42 Cornelia, was in the harbor, and has been lost to the flames. “Another harbor friend said the wind was hurricane strength and the fire came so fast they were forced to get into the water as everything began to explode and burn.”

The Lahaina Yacht Club has posted on their Instagram page:

The fire has destroyed most of the town, much of which is historically and culturally significant. According to CAL FIRE statistics, it is the second-deadliest fire in decades, behind the California Camp fire of November 2018, which killed 85 people. And while the Lahaina fire is now 80% contained, six fires are still burning across Maui and the Big Island.

This footage posted on Twitter @WxNB shows the devastation and smoldering remnants of Lahaina:

People throughout the US, and likely the world, are flooding the internet with messages of hope and offers to help. The fundraising site GoFundMe has created a page dedicated to the many pleas for support created for those who have lost so much as a result of the fires. We urge everyone to check out the page, and help as they can. It won’t bring back what has been lost, but it will help people rebuild their lives: Maui Wildfires Relief Fundraisers.

We also found this page for the Maui Food Bank’s Disaster Relief appeal.

Caption Contest(!)

If we’re in the second half of the year, sliding toward December, does that mean everything is going to be downhill or upside down?

Thanks to Irina Potekhina for sending us this photo she took during this year’s Corinthian midwinter races. Scuttlebutt says they sailed this way for an entire leg!

Caption Contest(!) Aug'23_ Sailboat
Your caption here.
© 2023 Irina Potekhina, White Raven Media

You can find July’s winner and top ten in August’s Loose Lips.

Owl Harbor’s Annual Day on the Delta Made for a Great Weekend

This past weekend was a busy one for Delta Doo Dah participants and our Delta sailors. Owl Harbor held their annual tenant party, and just down the road at Willow Berm Marina was the 20th “Taste of the Delta” festival. Devery Stockton and the crew at Owl Harbor have been longtime Delta Doo Dah supporters, and open this event up to DDD participants who want to come for a day of fun in the sun in Isleton.

Devery and Adam always work hard to put on a great event.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Nicki Bennett

This year’s festivities kicked off with the Dinghy Poker Run. Participants gather in Three Mile Slough on vessels of all types: powered dinghies, kayaks, paddle boards, rowboats, jet skis, small sailboats and more. They move down the slough, from dock to dock, collecting their hand. The best hand wins.

The outfits people put together are always a highlight of the themed annual party.
The outfits people put together are a highlight of the themed annual party.
© 2023 Owl Harbor
Nicki Bennett and Robbie Ann Muphree both wore outfits from the era that belonged to their family members.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Nicki Bennett

In the late afternoon, the Whoo Hop party began. The theme was a ’50s and ’60s sock hop. With cold refreshments, a food truck serving up gourmet burgers and hot dogs, and a table of salads followed by an ice cream bar, there were a lot of happy faces in the crowd. The decorations never disappoint, with vinyl records hanging from the celling and a dance floor that was packed with guests enjoying the music of a bygone era.

A lively dance party at the Whoo Hop.
© 2023 Owl Harbor

The weekend’s weather was hot-hot-hot, so most everyone spent the rest of the weekend swimming and cooling off in the shade. Our preferred Delta Doo Dah summer pastime is to kick our feet up on a float in the water and catch up with the latest issue of Latitude 38.

The summer issues are best enjoyed afloat in the Delta.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Nicki Bennett

These events are always a great opportunity to connect with friends old and new, and share a bit of Delta magic. Although the Delta Doo Dah is winding down for this season, there’s still time to enter (free and easy to do online) and enjoy the best of what the region has to offer. Delta Bay Marina has moved their annual August event to September, so we will be keeping registration open a bit later than usual. We look forward to seeing you on the water!

What’s New in the ‘Classy Classifieds’

What’s new is sometimes old, but can be new to you. The Classy Classifieds are filled with all kinds of unique treasures to fit any sailor’s dream or, in the case of a couple of new listings, they may be a unique floating home or office. We’ve seen and raced against the 1965 Lapworth 36 Leda many times and always loved to see her out on the Bay. She’s now looking for a new owner to take her on the next leg of her journey.

Lapworth 36 Leda
The Lapworth 36 Leda was looking good near Sausalito as we crossed paths with her a couple of years ago.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

It’s really not often that we see Bay Area floating homes or offices available in the classifieds, but coincidentally, we recently had two very different versions posted on our site. One, which the seller says could continue as a great office or be converted to a home, has been J/World’s office in Marina Village for several years. The other already is a home in Point San Pablo Harbor, but since so many people work from home today, we’re sure it could be an office too.

J/World Houseboat
The J/World houseboat/office is by the yacht broker building at Marina Village in Alameda.
© 2023 J/World

Besides houseboats, there are sailboats from 10-ft long to 57-ft long, priced from $2,500 to almost $500,000. We even saw a 22-ft 1965 Pearson Ensign that is one year older than the one we sail in Maine, and probably in better shape than ours. We like the Ensign because the big cockpit makes it comfortable for social sailing with four to six people aboard.

Floating Home
Click here to see this houseboat’s full listing with interior shots.
© 2023 Floating Home

After a look at the houseboats, we were intrigued by this smart-looking custom 26-ft catamaran. The ad says she’s spent her entire 23 years in the fresh water of the Delta at Hidden Harbor Marina by Rio Vista. She looks like a lot of fun for cruising the Delta sloughs.

26-ft Custom Catamaran
This catamaran looks ideally suited for the simple pleasures of the Delta.
© 2023 26-ft Custom Cat

If you’re ready to sell your boat and move on to something new to you, the deadline to get your ad in our monthly magazine is 5 p.m. on the 15th of each month. If you’re looking for something new to you, check back frequently, because new boats show up or are sold regularly from the pages of Latitude 38. You can pick up a magazine to browse through the complete list of boats, houseboats, job opportunities and all kinds of other unique ways to enjoy life under sail.

Natural Disaster in Hawaii
Much of Hawaii's waterfront town of Lahaina, Maui, is in the grips of a wildfire that is destroying homes and businesses, and causing people to jump into the water to save themselves.
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There is no question that tethers are both widely used and a kind of basic, no-brainer method of keeping sailors attached to the boat. But every safety measure brings with it a perception of security that may be shattered when the unthinkable actually occurs.