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December 18, 2023

Meeting New Friends — Two Sailors and Their 1966 O’Day

While driving from San Francisco to Sausalito early on Saturday morning and taking a touristy detour through Horseshoe Bay by the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, we were waylaid by the sight of a pretty blue-hulled sailboat being readied to enter the water by the Coast Guard Station.

We all but screeched to a stop and inquired of the two men, first, about the beautiful boat, and then about the sailors themselves — who they were and how they came to be launching that fine-looking craft. We had the pleasure of meeting Kent Irving, who had recently bought the boat, and together with his friend Ian Metcalf, was getting ready for his maiden voyage. We asked Kent to tell us about his background and how he now came to be sailing the small boat. His story begins below.

Kent (right, in the big hat) and Ian looked as excited to be sailing that day as we were to meet them.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Monica

When I was around 12 or 13, I spent a bit of time sailing Sunfish on the Sassafras River in Maryland. I never had a boat myself, but was afforded the opportunity by several neighbors who loaned me theirs. I was also invited to crew on larger boats during local races. While I did appreciate it then, I have to say my appreciation has grown as I realize how tolerant they were of my inexperience. These kindnesses allowed me to take part in an activity that I otherwise may have missed out on.

I really did enjoy sailing. The freedom a boat provided to explore the waterways was only a small part of it. I had access to kayaks and canoes, and I could catch a ride on a motorboat every so often, but sailing was more than that. I enjoyed having to read the signs of the wind dancing on the water. I appreciated being compelled to slow down; to take the long way in an effort to reach a certain point when the wind wasn’t from the ideal direction. And I enjoyed the mechanics of it, with cleats and winches and lines, all affecting the final outcome through minute adjustments.

I eventually moved away from that area and was unable to sail. I picked up other hobbies and activities more suited to where I lived, but always wished I could get back to it. While living in New Mexico I even looked into radio-control sailboats just to be able to take part in some way! I never thought I’d have the chance to sail again in my future, but then I ended up moving to California.

I hauled a kayak along with me when I moved, and decided to check out the area around San Francisco. I had a great time paddling around the area and taking in all the sights and landmarks that are a part of the San Francisco experience. I also noticed all the sails crisscrossing the Bay. With plenty of wind and water available here, I decided I needed to sail again. A couple of decades older now, I think being able to stop paddling everywhere may have motivated me as well.

I began checking the local online listings and dove down the rabbit hole of specs and characteristics, comparing prices and performance to find something that suited me. I’d like to say this data compilation was the deciding factor in finding the best option out there, but that wasn’t quite the case. While that was helpful, it was a different type of connection that made the decision for me.

I knew it when I saw it. A 1966 O’Day Daysailer — 17 feet of dark blue hull and some wood trim. All the data in the world couldn’t have dissuaded me. I liked how it looked. I liked how it fit my specific situation. And it helped that it was nearby in Napa. My friends reminded me of the acronym for boat being “bring out another thousand.” But it’s not a big boat so it’s only another hundred, right? I can handle that. I contacted the seller, who gave me a really great deal on it, and we made the transfer.

Looking the full monty — Kent’s O’Day in her full glory.
© 2023 Kent Irving

And this is what led to my friend and me prepping to launch at Horseshoe Bay in the shadow of the Golden Gate on a sunny day in December. Finally sailing again, for the first time in my own boat. And now I’m able to provide someone else with the chance to experience sailing in exchange for an extra set of hands. Truly a great day on the water in the boat Cuatro Vientos.

Kent (left) and Ian on the Bay aboard Cuatro Vientos.
© 2023 Kent Irving

Richmond Yacht Club Member John Arnold Starts Leg 4 of the Clipper Race Today

John Arnold, a Richmond Yacht Club member, Undergraduate Dean of Chemistry at Cal Berkeley and owner of the Alerion 28 Diana, wrote in, saying, “I am leaving for Fremantle to race in Leg 4 of the 2023/4 Clipper Round the World Race. I don’t know if this will be of interest to your readers, but please feel free to share if you’d like.”

John Arnold on the bow of Washington DC
John Arnold on the bow of Washington DC before the start of Leg 4.
© 2023 John Arnold

We’re always interested when West Coast sailors take off on adventures beyond our Pacific coastline! Sailing the Southern Ocean around Australia is a far different adventure from sailing an Alerion 28 on the Bay, and surely of interest to us.

Alerion 28 Diana
John Arnold took folks out in his Alerion 28 Diana for Richmond Yacht Club’s Sail a Small Boat Day last month.
© 2023 Toshinari Takayanagi

He continued, “My team and I will be on the Clipper 70 boat Washington, DC, racing against 10 other boats from Fremantle on the west coast of Australia, into the Roaring Forties, around Tasmania, and up the east coast to Airlie Beach. The leg is ~4000 nautical miles, and we’ll be at sea — deep into the Southern Ocean — for ~ 20 days. Our skipper is 27-year-old Hanna Brewis, who’s done an amazing job so far on the first three legs.”

Clipper Yacht Race Leg 4
The Clipper Yacht Race Leg 4 takes John and competitors around Australia’s south before heading north.
© 2023 Clipper Yacht Race

“As part of the race, my teammates and I are fundraising for UNICEF to help children in need across the world. Donations of any amount as we strive to reach our target of £30000 (~$38k) are all welcome!

“Thanks for reading and best wishes to all for a happy, peaceful holiday season.”

It will be Christmas at sea for John aboard Washington, DC and the 10 other yachts leaving Fremantle today. They won’t be far from Ronnie Simpson, who is currently west and south of Fremantle as he competes in the Global Solo Challenge.

You can follow John on the Clipper Yacht Race tracker here.

The Conflicting Interests Spinning in the Oakland Estuary Turning Basin

Plans to dredge the Oakland Estuary’s inner and outer turning basins in order to accommodate larger ships face conflicting environmental and economic interests. Port officials and the Army Corps of Engineers say that container ships — which are steadily growing in size in the hopes of reducing costs — struggle to change directions in the dense Port of Oakland. This leads to some close-quarter maneuvering for Estuary traffic, as well as so-called traffic jams for ships, which disrupted fragile global supply chains through the pandemic. The Port and Corps of Engineers want to widen the Port of Oakland’s inner- and outer-harbor turning basins by about 20 acres, according to KQED.

The Port of Oakland, Corps of Engineers and organizations representing the marine trades say that the estimated $400 million project to widen the basins is necessary for the Port of Oakland to remain competitive. Local environmental groups have bemoaned the proposed project’s impacts to air and water quality, and say that community engagement on the issue has been poor.

Today is the last day to weigh in on the draft environmental report for the turning-basin expansion. Click here to comment.

Things can get a bit tight when ships are being spun around on the Oakland Estuary.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim Henry

Last year, when the City of Oakland was considering building a new ball park at Howard Terminal for the Oakland A’s, the team’s ownership of port property, and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s (BCDC’s) changing the Port’s designation were seen as potential impediments to the expansion of the turning basins, especially the inner harbor, which lies next to Howard Terminal. Now that the A’s have decided to move to Las Vegas, the turning-basin project seems to be “gathering steam,” according to KQED.

“They have done a poor job on community engagement,” said a director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, noting that there has been only one virtual call between the group and the agencies working on the project. “All they want to talk about is the plans for construction and not the emissions from ongoing operations.”

Expansion of Oakland Turning Basins
There are two turning basins slated for expansion to accommodate larger ships.
© 2023 Port of Oakland

An attorney with Earthjustice has called for the Corps to redo their environmental review, “arguing that the current version focuses only on construction and dredging and neglects to consider potential harms associated with ongoing operations after the project is complete.” Environmental justice advocates have long said that the emissions from the Port, which includes a single diesel semi-trailer truck per container that comes off a ship, inundates the predominantly low-income neighborhood of West Oakland.

Advocates of the turning-basin expansion said that the widening will “improve transit efficiency, help modernize the waterway, and potentially even reduce emissions by allowing ships to plug into electricity from land rather than burning dirty diesel fuel while idle.”

In 2022, the Port of Oakland, along with groups representing merchant mariners, proposed a “new offshore queuing process” that was meant to reduce ship congestion and minimize air-quality impacts. It’s not clear how much of this plan has been implemented. While there are lots of exciting plans for greener ships, it will likely be at least a decade before a demonstrable change in emissions is seen in ports and on the high seas.

Ho Ho Ho Holiday Mail

It’s a heartwarming time of year; getting cards in the mail and reconnecting with old friends reminds us of many good times.

Ho Ho Ho Holiday Gift Subsctiptions
Subscription renewals and Christmas cards keep coming in.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The bright red cards that show up in our mailbox along with checks are renewals for Latitude 38 gift subscriptions given to friends in years past. They’re reminders of sailing adventures from the past few months and reconnections with friends who are off sailing in “St. Somewhere.”

Your friends will remember your gift subscription every month when the latest edition of Latitude 38 shows up in their mailbox for the next 12 months.

We aim to keep people happy and keep people sailing — which generally makes them happy. Gift subscriptions are available here.

Classy Deadline 5 p.m. Today
Would you like a a new Whitehall or a new home? There's lots to explore for 2024 in the 'Latitude 38' 'Classy Classifieds.'