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August 14, 2023

Cowabunga! ILCA Racer Jayden Benedict Conquers Steamer Lane

It was another magical August weekend for both sailing and surfing Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, when the 51st running of the Laser (ILCA) NorCal Open (second-longest running Laser regatta in North America) took place.

Chris Boome sent in the video below and wrote, “A beautiful mild weekend in Santa Cruz with excellent courses and RC work. In the Full Rig (ILCA 7s) there was a three-way battle for first, until Jayden Benedict decided that the lure of the surf at Steamer Lane was just too much fun to pass up. So Tracy Usher, who is rounding into his old form after repairs and replacements of various body parts, came out on top just ahead of J Denton.”


“In the Radial (ILCA 6s), Toshinari Takayanagi dominated the fleet with good speed upwind and blazing speed downwind. Jon Andron had a great day on Sunday and was the only one to cross the finish line ahead of Toshi the whole weekend, only to find out later that he was over early at the start by a few feet.”

Chris went on to say to us, and we suppose everyone, “If you have not sailed in Santa Cruz in August, you really owe it to yourself to remedy that hole in your sailing résumé … great sailing, great place, great people and great RC work.”

Click for complete results: ILCA Northern California Open and District 24 Championships

Do you have a race report from your weekend sailing or Friday night race? Send a couple of photos and a paragraph to [email protected].

For example, here’s a photo from our Friday night race. That’s Ben Well’s Morris 36 Sea Witch as we approached the finish line. You wouldn’t know from the photo that 20 or so minutes earlier we were in 25-knot gusts while rounding Easom buoy, and that not long after this shot was taken, enough breeze came up for us both to have a close finish.

Ben Well's Morris 36 Sea Witch
Patience, perseverance and a little luck allowed most boats to finish.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

You’re probably wondering whether the rest of the fleet was ahead of us or behind us, and who won. Hey, it’s a Friday night race; we do it for the fun of it.

Get Your Gear On for the ‘Latitude 38’ Fall Crew List Party

Here we go, here we go!!! It’s coming up to Crew Party time! The event we look forward to all year, the annual Latitude 38 Fall Crew List Party for the Baja Ha-Ha and beyond is happening on Thursday, September 7, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Sausalito’s Spaulding Marine Center. This event is the perfect place to meet other like-minded people — sailors, of course — and to find crew for your boat, or, in the case of your not having a boat, a skipper you can sail with. Plus, as the party includes the Baja Ha-Ha Cruising Seminar and party-mingle, you could even find yourself a crew or boat to join for the 29th cruising rally to Mexico. Get your tickets now.

Whether you’re planning to sail to Mexico or keep it local with racing, daysailing or Bay, Delta and coastal cruising, the Latitude 38 Crew Party is the place to get those extra bodies for watch-shifts, foredeck crew and rail meat, or just great company for a casual day on the water. We were clicking through our archives recently and came across this story from Sylvia Stewart Stompe and Barry Stompe, after they’d attended a Latitude crew party in 2012. We know that’s a long time ago, but we liked the story, so here it is:

“Thank you for hosting the Latitude 38 Spring Crew List Party on March 7 at Golden Gate YC,” write Barry Stompe & Sylvia Stewart of the Sausalito-based Hughes 48 Iolani. “The party yielded us a great bunch of race crew recruits. Seven of the sailors in this photo are contacts we made at the Crew Party. Four of the individuals just moved to the Bay Area — and are learning that we sail with PFDs and foulies around here. So thanks to Latitude for hosting the great event.

This photo was taken after a good day of spinnaker practice, which was followed by an awesome potluck lunch behind Angel Island, featuring many homemade treats. After a brisk sail back to Sausalito, we hosted a little dock party and beer tasting of some micro brew created by one of our crew. The Chipotle Amber Ale was voted the favorite.”

Are you in this photo aboard Sylvia and Barry’s Iolani? If so, where has sailing taken you since this glorious day? Let us know: [email protected].
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Iolani

We don’t always hear of so many sailors joining one boat as a result of an L38 Crew Party, but dozens of sailors have met their new skipper or crew at one of our parties. Now it’s your turn! Tickets available here.

Here’s what you can expect:


We will be holding our annual cruising seminar for our Baja Ha-Ha sailors and cruisers preparing to head south. The seminar will run from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. with half an hour of Q&A from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Doors will open for the cruising seminar at 3:30.

Call of the Sea will offer tours of the Matthew Turner for Latitude 38 Fall Crew List Party guests from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.


The Fall Crew List Party will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The event will be mostly outside, in the Spaulding Marine Center boatyard, with vendor tables set up inside. (This is Sausalito — so please dress in layers!) Casablanca Mediterranean Food Truck will be on hand serving from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Spaulding will be hosting the bar with all proceeds going to benefit their education programs.

There will be vendors to answer your questions about cruising and heading south to Mexico, along with local partners who want to help you get sailing in the Bay. San Francisco Sailing Science Center will set up an entertaining and educational exhibit.

Our crew parties are geared toward helping people find sailing opportunities for cruising, racing, or daysailing. The Fall Crew List Party is ideal for boat owners seeking crew who want to head south to Mexico, or crew who want to do the same. It’s also well suited for folks looking for midwinter race crew or anyone who just wants to sail the Bay.


Admission includes free munchies, entry to door prize raffle, a sailing slide show, and connecting to the most vibrant sailing community in the Bay Area!

Admission to the Fall Crew List Party is $10

Admission to the Mexico Cruising Seminar* is $10

Admission to the Party and Seminar* is $20

*Each skipper and first mate registered for the 2023 Baja Ha-Ha gets free entry to the Fall Crew List Party and Mexico Cruising seminar.

If you are considering joining the 2023 Baja Ha-Ha fleet, sign up before September 1 and get two free tickets to the Crew List party and Mexico Cruising Seminar.


There is parking around Spaulding. Please do not park at Clipper Yacht Harbor.

Skip the wait at the door and get your tickets online now. We look forward to seeing you all on September 7!

Speak Up for the Oakland Estuary on August 23

August 23 has two opportunities for concerned citizens and Oakland Estuary fans to speak up. We recently received notices offering Oakland Estuary sailors the chance to give public comment on the proposed Alameda/Oakland pedestrian bridge and the anchor-out/homeless encampments on the Oakland waterfront. Both concern all boaters, yacht clubs, marinas, and East Bay citizens who want to access and enjoy the Estuary shoreline and waters.

Tragic shoreline derelict boats.
The California housing crisis needs to be solved so nobody needs to call places like these “home.”
© 2023 Brock de Lappe

The first is from tireless Estuary advocate Brock de Lappe, who sent us a recent notice from the BCDC announcing its next public meeting to address anchor-outs, homeless encampments and derelict boats along the Oakland Estuary. Like any waterfront city, the Estuary shoreline should be one of the cherished crown jewels of Oakland. Currently, it’s stained by urban blight.

We’ve also heard many reports from yacht clubs and marinas along the Estuary about a rash of stolen dinghies and outboards. Several have been found among the anchor-outs and along the Oakland shoreline, with outboards missing and the inflatable boats slashed. Clubs and owners have had to personally attempt retrieval of the stolen vessels, and though the crimes have been reported, the Oakland police have yet to respond. Just this past weekend, Chris Anderson of Grand Marina had to retrieve another stolen dinghy from theives who were anchored just north of the Cemex plant and still in the process of removing the outboard.

Joerg Bashir
The Oakland side of the Estuary remains unmanaged by the City or the Port of Oakland, leading to a host of problems for Estuary sailors and waterfront businesses. We just received this photo this morning, asking if we were going to do a story about the anchor-outs and thefts occurring on the Estuary.
© 2023

Someday, its long shoreline will be inviting to all citizens of Oakland to enjoy access to the water for paddling, sailing, rowing, swimming, and fishing as well as a walk, bike ride, roller skating, skateboarding or watching the western sunset from along the waterfront. The premier location along the waterfront is Jack London Square, which pays tribute to Oakland’s sailing heritage, including the sailor and author who sailed its shores over a century ago. The Jack London Aquatic Center provides a place for rowing and dragon boating on the Estuary, though it was severely impacted by wrecks from the Estuary during winter storms.

Jack London Aquatic Center
Jack London Aquatic Center was the final resting place for many wrecks during this past winter’s storms.
© 2023 Brock de Lappe

Despite the Oakland waterfront’s potential as a stunning city attraction, it remains telling that the beautiful slide show presented on Oakland’s VisitOakland website, for obvious reasons, contains no images of its derelict waterfront, which would only make the job of the visitors’ bureau more difficult. The entire focus of the Visitors’ Bureau website is inland or east of Interstate 880. Maybe it’s a bureaucratic tussle between the Port of Oakland and the City of Oakland?

We share the full invitation to the public below:

Dear Enforcement Committee Members, Members of the Public and Staff:

The next hybrid Enforcement Committee meeting is scheduled for:

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Click here to join the meeting via Zoom

Click here for information on public participation

Teleconference numbers: (816) 423-4282

Conference code: 374334

Passcode: 123244

Click here for August 23 Enforcement Committee Meeting Materials

ITEM 6. Staff Briefing on Actions to Address Shoreline Encampments, Abandoned and Derelict Vessels and Anchor-outs in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary, Alameda County

BCDC staff will brief the Enforcement Committee on the actions taken between this past February and the present to address shoreline encampments, abandoned and derelict vessels and anchor-outs in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary.

Guidance for presenters is available here.

If you would like to comment on an item scheduled for a public hearing, then you may do so by emailing comments one day in advance to [email protected].

Comments provided during the public comment portion of the meeting will be by telephone or via the web. Public speakers participating via web will be asked to raise their hands and speak when called upon.

For technical difficulties contact [email protected].

Sunken sailboats on the Oakland shoreline
Sunken sailboats on the Oakland shoreline are an expensive environmental disaster, with the expense of cleanup going to the citizens of Oakland. This money could be better spent improving the waterfront and the lives of Oakland’s residents.
© 2023 Brock de Lappe

Oakland Estuary Pedestiran Bridge

In the afternoon of the same day, the Oakland/Alameda pedestrian bridge group is hosting a Zoom meeting for all Estuary stakeholders to comment on the proposed project.

The Oakland-Alameda Estuary Bridge project team is meeting for the fourth Stakeholder and Equity Advisory Committee (SAC/EAC) meeting on Wednesday, August 23, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Zoom.

Oakland Alameda bicycle pedestrian bridge
Artist rendering of the proposed pedestrian/bicycle bridge between Jack London Square and Alameda.
© 2023 City of Alameda

Here’s the official page for the proposed bridge, where you can sign up for updates:

You can email Rochelle Wheeler if you’d like to make specific comments. You can also reach out to Frank Ponciano, a consultant taking input on the bridge.

We have to think part of Oakland’s misunderstanding of the value of its potentially beautiful public waterfront is that it was tragically cut off from the city when Interstate 880 was built. This was fortunately avoided in San Francisco when they halted the Embarcadero Freeway, which was planned to go around the entire city right up the marina waterfront to the Golden Gate Bridge. Can you imagine Marina Green and Crissy Field with an elevated freeway 100 yards inland?

Elevated waterfront freeways are great for drivers who want to whiz right through the city, but they’re terrible for communities that want to connect to their shoreline. San Francisco’s new Tunnel Top Park by Crissy Field is a way to keep city residents connected to the beauty of their coastline. People with access to the shoreline will work to protect it. It is likely more difficult for Oakland to heal the scar of 880 that separates the city from its shoreline; however, we are sure that someday creative people will rediscover the lost wonder of the shoreline loved by sailors before and long after Jack London.

Brock de Lappe Oakland Estuary
There should be better homes for the unhoused and better ways for Oakland to spend taxpayer dollars then cleaning up scenes like this. Once it was cleaned up, you could swim and launch kayaks from here.
© 2023 Brock de Lappe

We know Brock de Lappe has put in endless hours to support the cause of boating restoration of the Oakland waterfront, but he can’t do it alone. He invites all of you to speak up in public comment online or via email to help restore the Estuary for the benefit of the entire public.

Taking Their Time — San Francisco to the Chesapeake

I last chimed into Changes from Isla Mujeres, Mexico, after the longest passage of our two-year voyage from San Francisco. The 980 miles from Cartagena, Colombia, had been choppy but benign, with several delightful moments, including sailing with a pod of pilot whales — and two steak dinners. The addition of our friend John made for an easy watch schedule of four hours on and eight off. My regular crew aboard Azimuth, a 1979 Pearson 365 sloop, are my husband Scott Racette and our salty cat, Cypress.

Our timing on Isla Mujeres, off Cancun, coincided with spring break, and this stop took on a holiday feel of its own for us. We rented lounge chairs on the beach for an afternoon, attended a water aerobics class with the local ladies, and did a last round of souvenir purchases.

Much of our attention was on the weather as March turned into April. We needed to make it back north to Latitude 38 and our new home base in the Chesapeake Bay well before hurricanes began carving their paths off the coast of Africa.

Ashley and Scott’s route from west to east.
© 2023 Azimuth

There were a couple of tempting weather windows that came and went due to concerns about the arrival of the next cold front, the stomach flu that descended on us, and various other concerns. We began wondering if we were dragging our feet to extend our time at sea, but determined that our intuition and research had gotten us this far — and it was no time to stop trusting our guts!

On April 12, we untied the dock lines with the help of friends at El Milagro Marina and set off for the Florida Keys. Sargassum seaweed floated as far as the eye could see, and clouds billowed huge overhead. The passage was pleasing, with just one squall keeping us on our toes at 3 a.m.

About 30 miles from our destination, the wind shut off and we cranked up our Westerbeke 40. We had been troubleshooting a variable rpm issue since Panama, and despite some TLC in Colombia from ourselves and Elvis, the mechanic, it had arisen again during the previous passage. The likely culprit was fuel contamination. Organisms thrive in diesel fuel in hotter climates, and to make matters worse, we had water splash into the tank when refueling from jerry cans in rough seas off Punta Mala in the Pacific. After motoring along for an hour or two, the engine cut off again. We cleared the filter and bled the engine a few times before waving the white flag and calling TowBoat US. Our visions of reentering the United States hadn’t included being tied to their bright-red boats, but within 15 minutes, we were blasting along at seven knots on a rhumb line to Marathon, Florida.

Is Cypress the ship’s-mechanic?
© 2023 Azimuth

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