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April 3, 2024

Santa Cruz Mile Buoy Saved by Alert Mariners

On March 18 we shared news that the USCG was proposing to remove the Mile Buoy “SC” about 1.5 miles SSW of Santa Cruz. Their plan was to replace it with a mark on the chart. Meaning there would no longer be any buoy or other permanent marker in the waters along the Santa Cruz coastline. Thankfully, the idea was put out for public comment before action was taken. The USCG wrote that it was “particularly interested in any rationale relating to why the buoy is necessary for safe navigation in spite of the current availability and affordability of electronic navigation equipment (e.g. GPS).”

Santa Cruz Mile Buoy
The Santa Cruz Mile Buoy will continue being a beacon for mariners, and a resting spot for sea life.
© 2024 Santa Cruz Harbor

Well, they asked, and readers answered.

We received comments from readers, some of whom said they were forwarding their response to the USCG.

Years ago those buoy maintainers wanted to remove the Morro Bay sea buoy. A letter came into the local Aids to Navigation office saying how in foggy conditions they’d use their depth sounder to find the sixty fathom line then stay on that line until they heard the sea buoy’s gong. This was before buoys beeped. Once at the buoy they could find their way into Morro Bay. I heard the same story from my dad who sailed aboard a Jeep carrier in WWII.

Additionally the buoy by putting Santa Cruz on the chart –so to speak– is a source of civic pride for the locals.” — John Dukat.

Definitely retain -all- the buoys — a definite no to -all- the proposed changes! As you so correctly pointed out – electronics can and do fail!

I sail often with the latest gear on boats and have had my share of outages. It is telling that the Navy/CG itself is restoring CelNav — with GPS so vulnerable to solar storms and all the worldwide goings-on!

Keep all the buoys and functionality! I just called the 510-437-2983 number and no voicemail – nothing, it is inoperative itself — irony there, they don’t even take messages.” — vkapur-1590.

[V]virtual buoys do not show up on radar, and I have found the boat’s radar to be more stable than the GPS-enabled devices we have onboard. I sent an Email to the USCG with these comments.” — James McCann, Amateur NorCal Coastal Sailor.

Add to the list of buoys offline, the Bodega Bay buoy, with its weather and sea state info for us north coasters, and the 2M buoy, south of the main shipping channel into S.F. Bay. The 2M was super helpful to keep Mariners who were approaching from the south, off the south bar. I am aware that the Trump administration gutted the budgets of the Coast Guard and Park Service, but all … these buoys save lives, which is the sworn service of the Coast Guard.” — Milly Biller.

And there are more! All contributed to the end result, with the Coast Guard issuing a statement on Friday. “Through the collaborative efforts of stakeholders and the positive engagement from the Santa Cruz maritime community, the Coast Guard made the decision not to remove the Santa Cruz Lighted Buoy SC (LLNR 4080).”

“The Coast Guard extends its sincere appreciation to the maritime community of Santa Cruz for their active participation in the formal process concerning navigation safety decisions,” said Capt. Steven Ramassini, chief, Coast Guard Office of Navigation Systems. “The invaluable feedback provided by the community has greatly contributed to our comprehensive understanding of the impacts associated with our proposed action.”

The good news was shared in the Santa Cruz Sentinal, which wrote that “local mariners, community members and elected officials voiced their concerns about the proposed replacement of the physical beacon with a virtual one.” The Sentinal also refers to an earlier attempt to remove the buoy in 2013, which was also met with public disapproval.

We’re grateful to everyone who spoke up and sent their comments in to help save this very useful and iconic buoy, then, and now.

“… What if our electrical grid shuts down, will they still be able to operate … like that?” Latitude reader Tasha wrote.”My grandfather before he passed used to use the light on the buoy and line [it] up with the bridges’ lights and that was how he knew to navigate into the harbor; this would be devastating to remove for our fishing community.”

“I cannot imagine a still Sunday morning without that iconic sound reminding me of the long ocean swell rolling through,” Karl Robrock commented.

Saving the buoy was a great example of people speaking up for what they believe. Thanks to the combined efforts, and the fact the USCG seeks public comment in the first place, this visual and audible signal will continue to be available to racers, cruisers, fishermen and kayakers who count on it when electronics fail.

Next time you round Mile Buoy take a photo and share it with your Latitude family by uploading it here: Latitude 38 Sailagram.

If you want to know more about the future of our traditional buoys and navigational marks, look out for Tim Henry’s follow up story in ‘Lectronic Latitude.

Good Jibes #136: Kristi and Bob Hanelt on Circumnavigating With ‘Skylark’

This week’s host, Moe Roddy, is joined by Kristi and Bob Hanelt, who sailed Skylark around the world from February 26, 1972, to July 20, 1974. They covered 31,106 miles and visited 102 ports or anchorages.

Skylark is a 53-ft Sparkman and Stephens-designed wooden boat, launched in 1930.
© 2024 Kristi and Bob Hanelt

Hear stories of how they met and became interested in sailing, what planning looked like for their voyage around the globe, their favorite stops along the way, some of the scary moments, and their top highlight of the whole journey. This episode covers everything from sailing around the world to prepping for a voyage.

Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How did Kristi and Bob meet?
  • Where did they go on their honeymoon?
  • Who came up with the idea to do a circumnavigation?
  • What is the history of Skylark?
  • How did Kristi and Bob plan for food?
  • What were their favorite ports around the world?
  • Was there ever a time they were really scared?
  • Short Tacks: What was Kristi’s favorite meal to cook?

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and your other favorite podcast spots — follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re feeling the Good Jibes!

Watch “Owed to a Skylark” at

Baja Ha-Ha XXX Is Looking Sweet — Registrations Open May 9

It’s happening! The Baja Ha-Ha is celebrating its coming of age with the 30th cruisers’ rally heading to Mexico on November 4. Here’s what the Poobah had to say about it last week.

“It’s just 42 days until registration opens for the historic Baja Ha-Ha XXX, and 221 days until the start from San Diego …”

Accompanying the message was this cute photo of a next-gen cruiser.

Baja Ha-Ha baby on board
Zofia shows other kids how to properly hold a sheet.
© 2024

“Conceived by parents Zacary Singer and Karina Velasco during the 2022 Ha-Ha, Zofia isn’t sure why they didn’t go last year, but is happy they are gearing up their Andrews 56 Encore for another Ha-Ha run this year.” (By the way, Zacary has a great sailing story — read it here.)

“Zofia is looking forward to 750 miles of almost certain downwind sailing conditions, R&R stops at funky Turtle Bay and surreal Bahia Santa Maria, eight social events, and lots of cruising kids to socialize with.”

Cruising kids line up to compete for Ha-Ha gold.
© 2024 Baja Ha-Ha

“While eagerly looking forward to Kids’ Diving Olympics off the transom of Profligate in Turtle Bay, Zofia is going to pass on the Here to Eternity Kissing Contest in Cabo San Lucas. ‘I’m a little young for that,’ she says.

“Cute-as-can-be Zofia may be young, but if you look closely, you can see that she already knows the proper way to hold a sheet or halyard to prevent her little fingers from getting crushed in case of an accident.”

To learn more about becoming part of Ha-Ha history, visit

News From the Side Pocket of the Duffel Bag

More sunshine equals more sailing. Spring is here, so we’ve packed our duffel bag for sailing. In the side pocket we found some news, which we’ve pulled out here:

PSA (Public Service Announcement) — Is this your sunken vessel?

We received a call this week about the intended salvage of a vessel that sank during winter storms at Pillar Point Harbor, Half Moon Bay. The owners did not check in with the harbormaster, and to date, they have not been found. The plan is to raise the boat and prevent its being a hazard to navigation. But first, there’s one more attempt to locate the owner, with the following notice:

“The 40-ft (approx.) sailboat sunk at Pillar Point Harbor during the storm on 02/18/24–02/19/24 has been abandoned for more than 30 days, and will be raised, salvaged, scrapped, crushed or otherwise removed, thus retiring any related USCG vessel documentation, CA DMV CF number and HIN, as may apply. Any persons with any claim to this wreck may reply to (408) 401-7697 with a number to call you back. Salvage labor, fuel, boat and other equipment costs will be due.”

The International Ocean Film Festival April 12–14 (Rafael Theater April 4)

Sailing, ocean and film buffs will gather at The International Ocean Film Festival to be held at Fort Mason April 12–14. There will be an advance screening of two select films, Expedition Amana and Blue Whales: Return of the Giants, this Thursday, April 4, 7 p.m., at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.

More than 38 countries are represented in this year’s IOFF lineup.
© 2024

Long Beach Race Week Adds VX One

West Coast VX One class booster Trevor Tunnacliffe wrote in to say the 19-ft sportboat fleet is growing in the West and plans to have a one-design class at Ullman Long Beach Race Week, which also happens to be the Summer Sailstice weekend of June 21–23. Looking at the entry list, there are four VX Ones and a J/111 signed up, so right now the VX Ones are the largest class signed up for LBRW. A month later the VX One fleet plans to be racing in the Columbia Gorge One-Design Regatta.

Good News for the Working Waterfront?

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote a story, “How Gen Z Is Becoming the Toolbelt Generation,” saying more young workers are going into trades as disenchantment with the college track continues, and rising pay and new technologies improve the perception of the trades. In fact, enrollment at vocational schools is up 16%. This is good news for boatyards and small marine business owners who have been looking for the next-gen to take on these specialized jobs. A shortage in skilled labor and the vulnerability of white-collar jobs to AI and other technological innovations appear to be shifting the outlook for the trades. AI still doesn’t do fiberglass repair, and not everyone wants to spend their day at a computer screen.

Clipper Round the World Race

The Clipper Race is returning to the West Coast. At 40,000 miles it is the longest circumnavigation race and the only one that doesn’t circle the globe during the summer at the bottom of the globe. The fleet of 11 boats left Qingdao, China, on March 28 for their longest leg, taking them almost 5400 miles through the North Pacific to Seattle. Typically it’s the roughest leg of the race, as it’s early in the year to be heading north. They hope to finish the leg in under 30 days, so they should arrive in Seattle at the end of April. You can follow the fleet here.

Get Them While They’re Hot

The April issue of Latitude 38 can be found at West Marine in Sausalito, and most marine businesses in California. You can find the printed magazine at a friendly marine business near you by going to our “Find a Magazine” page. West Marine Sausalito does hide them way in the back near the restrooms to the right of the spools of line. It’s worth the walk. As Robert Goldberg commented in Monday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude, “Could not live without Latitude 38 as an S.F. Bay sailor!!!! Not fooling around! Every April 1, May 1, etc. is a very important day to look forward to!!! Thank you! Fair publishing winds and following readers, contributors and advertisers!”

West Marine Magazines
Magazines are on the rack and ready to pick up at the back of West Marine Sausalito.
© 2024 John
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© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Latitude 38
Sailing Supply / Downwind Marine
Find us at Sailing Supply/Downwind Marine in San Diego.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Latitude 38

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From the Ship’s Logbook
The skipper looked over his new crew. “Good morning, everyone. I’m Louis Kannen and this is the H.A.F.-designed sprit yawl Waggen."