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April 5, 2024

Father and Son Team Mike and Sean Mahoney Race in Pacific Cup

Mike Mahoney and his son Sean Mahoney are yet another family team participating in this year’s Pacific Cup. (We’ve already shared the stories of Heather Richard and her son Julian, and Erica Mattson and her stepdad Robin Jeffers.) Mike has done the Pac Cup twice, once with his father (2006) and later aboard a friend’s boat in 2018. This year’s race will be the first for Mike’s son Sean, and their first together.

“As it turned out, my father passed away just 14 months after the 2006 Pac Cup, so it became a bit extra-special. I just didn’t know it at the time. Now, I have the opportunity to pass this incredible experience down to my son (Sean Mahoney). He will be the youngest of the Mahoneys to ever do this race at just 18. And is now a fourth-generation S.F. Bay sailor.”

Sean Mahoney trims Story Maker‘s spinnaker during the Rolex Big Boat Series.
© 2024 Sharon Green/Rolex

The Mahoneys’ boat is Story Maker, a Tartan 101 that they bought in 2018. Mike says they had three specific requirements for their boat. “I wanted a boat that had a wheel and I wanted to be able to stand up down below. My wife had a third requirement, which was ultimately the most important — it needed to be able to comfortably sleep all of us while vacationing in the Delta during the summer.” The Tartan appeared and met all their requirements. “It is a great race boat as well as a fun boat to bring to the Delta. We race pretty much year-round doing many of the Bay series, OYRA, and Big Boats.” The race to Hawaii will also be a first for Story Maker; her first time crossing the Pacific.

Over the last 18 months, Mike and Sean have been upgrading the Tartan to withstand the conditions they might encounter in the middle of the Pacific. “We have upgraded her rudder, added solar, extra batteries, and satellite communications equipment. So far, we are 95% through our inspection, with just an upcoming qualifying race left. Right now, the focus is mainly on food provisioning and practicing lots of spinnaker control with the whole crew.”

Story Maker‘s Pac Cup crew members Will McMullen and Sean Mahoney (right).
© 2024 Mike Mahoney

That crew will consist of Mike and Sean, and friends David Lively and Will McMullen, both of whom have sailed regularly with Mike over the last last six years. Eighteen-year-old Sean has been sailing since he was 6. He has competitively sailed in multiple Olympic-class boats, including the Nacra, 49er, and many others. Sean is Mike’s number-one driver and bowman and has raced with his dad since they bought the boat. “It will be the first Pac Cup for everyone but me,” Mike says. “Similar to how it was for our crew in 2006. Then, it was only my father who had done it. Five other crew were newbies to the puddle jump.”

Mike is a lifelong sailor (well, almost). He started aboard a Melody on the lagoon in Alameda, near his grandparents’ house. Then, as he grew up, he would sail with his father aboard his Catalina 30 and then 42. “We raced in the Estuary, in the Bay, and up and down the coast. I also sailed for UCSB. During college I also jumped on any boat I could race on, but one of the more memorable races was the Newport to Ensenada race. More so for the after-party!” Mike says he’s raced just about every boat you can imagine. “I’ve crewed in over a dozen Big Boat Series from Far 40s, Express 37s, Santa Cruz 50s, Swiftsure, etc. But in the end, there is nothing like sailing your own boat.”

When we asked, “Why do the Pacific Cup?” Mike’s response was fairly typical for a passionate sailor. “When I explain the Pacific Cup to friends, and how we typically only get three hours of sleep at a time, I’m usually met with ‘you’re crazy’ for wanting to do that race. I think it is hard to understand until you are out there and can truly experience the beauty of the open sea. It’s always an interesting question about two days after we hit Hawaii. Usually, my answer is ‘that is my last one.’ But, after the last one I said, ‘I likely have only one more in me and I’m saving it for my son.'” Mike has had mulitple other opportunities to do the Pac Cup again, but he wanted his next one to be special. “He [Sean] will have just graduated high school and will be departing for college just a couple of weeks after our return (ironically, to the University of Hawaii to study health science/kinesiology).

“And of course, we do it for the challenge, and most importantly, to have fun.”

Story Maker racing in the Big Boat Series.
© 2024 Mike Mahoney

The boat will have all the technology it needs; for example, the new Iridium GO! Exec. But Mike decided to forgo the newest kid on the tech-block, Starlink. “We considered Starlink for quite a while. However, it is a power hog. I’ve heard someone has figured out how to run it off 12V without an inverter, so that will make a big difference. And who needs to watch Netflix on a race to Hawaii anyhow? :)”

Story Maker also does not have an oven; she is a “true race boat,” Mike says. “We do have a small refrigerator, which will allow us some fresh food for the first several days. After that we are basically camping with a Jet Boil. The food is actually quite good.”

Perhaps someone can confirm Mike’s food story after they all arrive in Hawaii?

Caption Contest(!)

Welcome to April’s Caption Contest(!). Perhaps we should have posted this on April 1!

Thanks to Tom LeDuc from Monterey for sharing this photo he took in 1991. “I was returning to Ventura Harbor in my Catalina 22. Ahead of me was another sailboat, maybe a mile off, and as I gained on it something looked odd about the sails from dead astern.”

We’ll share the rest of Tom’s story in May’s “Loose Lips.” In the meantime, you know what to do …

April 2024 Caption Contest — sailboat with inverted jib
Your caption here.
© 2024 Tom LeDuc

Remember to check out the March Caption Contest(!) winners in the April issue of Latitude 38.

Look at the News We Found in the Chart Table

We were looking for our dividers and parallel rules in the chart table and came across a few other items that we thought would be of interest to sailors. Some of it is out of this world.

Cruisers are Gathering in Mazatlán for the Total Eclipse of the Sun

There are many great reasons for cruisers to visit Mazatlán, Mexico, though it has an added benefit this coming Monday, April 8, when cruisers will be in the ideal place to see the total eclipse of the sun. It will be the first place in continental North America to experience the eclipse.

Cruisers have been sailing into Marina El Cid and Marina Mazatlán as it is right in the center of the “Path of Totality” where the sun will be completely blocked by the moon. According to the website, you’ll be able to skip the hat and sunscreen for 4 minutes and 15 seconds (but still don’t look at the sun!), as that is the duration of the totality in Mazatlán, occurring about noon on Monday. It’s no wonder that our friends, the Rossis from the Cheoy Lee 40 Luna Sea, will be there.

The path of the eclipse then continues northeast through Texas and northern New England, where they just had a late-season snowstorm and “practice” blackouts. Luckily, it looks as if it will be a sunny day in New England for the eclipse.

Great American Eclipse
The total eclipse of the sun in North America starts in Mazatlán, Mexico.
© 2024

Have You Ever Wanted To Be a Sailing Judge?

It does take expertise and training, and luckily for you, a training opportunity is coming up starting April 25. The StFYC is offering a one-year-long series of evening seminars to train sailing judges. These seminars will be two hours in length and usually held on Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. The first two are scheduled for April 25 and May 30, 7–9 p.m., at St. Francis Yacht Club.

You’ll learn from experts! The seminars will be taught by L. Douglas Sloan and Paul Zupan, two of the three Bay Area International Judges. Sloan and Zupan are also umpires, and have extensive national and international experience in both disciplines. They have officiated at dozens of international championships and umpired at top levels. Sloan has also served 10 years on the National Appeals Committee. Zupan is the developer of the incredibly successful website, which has revolutionized online access to digital protests, case retrieval, rules discussion, and regatta management.

Attendance is only by RSVP to the organizer, Greg Meagher: [email protected]. Just like when you’re racing, you’ll be asked to arrive at the “starting area” 15 minutes early to check in. Bring a Racing Rules of Sailing rulebook, a note pad, and a sense of humor.

How Can You Find Work in the Marine Industry? 

Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship will be hosting a Mariner Career Fair & Industry Panel on Friday, May 10, at their Professional Mariner Training Center at 1700 West Coast Highway in Newport Beach, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Companies will be on hand to help attendees discover a variety of career opportunities in the maritime industry. If you’re looking to put that keyboard, mouse and screen away and put your mind and hands to work with a solid career in a rewarding industry, this is the trade fair for you. It is free to attend, which is far less than a four-year college education! You can register to attend here.

If you want to get to work now, have a look at the jobs available in the “Job Opportunities” section of our Classy Classifieds.

Greenpeace Bought a Sailboat

Greenpeace has a new sailboat.
© 2024

Usually when we see pictures of Greenpeace vessels crusading on the ocean, we’re looking at large motor-driven boats. While we recognize that power isn’t Greenpeace’s only method of propulsion (Rainbow Warrior has sails, and Witness is a sailboat), power makes sense, as the boats are usually chasing and confronting even larger motorboats. So we were pleasantly surprised to see that Greenpeace has bought another sailboat — a 68-ft bluewater sailer. The boat is based in Australia and is currently being refitted from a cruiser to a “fit-for-purpose campaign vessel.” You can see the boat here.

Angel Island — Still a Great Escape

Yes, the docks are still a disaster, and the shallow water in the mooring field hinders many deep-draft sailboats. However, if you get lucky, the island is still a great escape. A rainy winter has made for a lush spring, making a hike to the top of Mount Livermore on Angel Island a high priority. We tried our luck and found an Islander 36 leaving as we arrived on a sunny Sunday, so we had a spot for our 6.5-ft-draft Sabre 38.

The available docks were full on Sunday when we slipped in.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Leaving your boat at the dock, you quickly gain elevation on your way to the top of 788-foot-high Mount Livermore. It’s a five-plus-mile round-trip loop, which can be done in under two and a half hours if you don’t spend too much time stopping to admire the views (or catch your breath). However, if you don’t stop to see the views, you’re missing one of the most rewarding aspects of the hike.

The hills above
The hike up Angel Island is magnificent and ends with one of the best 360-degree views in the Bay Area.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Right now the island is as green and covered with wildflowers as you’ll ever see it. Because the last ferries leave by about 4 p.m. the upper reaches of the island are usually empty except for sailors who were lucky enough to get a slip or who tied up in the mooring field. If you want to hike, it would be wise to bring a dinghy. That way, if there are no slips, you have the option to tie bow and stern to the mooring balls and row in to the dock. We’d advise rowing to the dock rather than pulling your boat up onto the beach, since it will quickly become a favorite beach toy for kids after you walk away.

Keil Cove
Keil Cove off Raccoon Strait looks deceptively pleasant, but the boat in the background spent a couple of hours stuck in the shallow waters as we hiked.
© 2024 John

The view from above allows you to capture shots of boats sailing all over the Bay. We saw our friends the Gridleys aboard their Sabre 38 Aegea in the foreground (pictured above), while another boat went a little too far into Keil Cove and was hard aground for our entire hike around the island. Many boats, and especially racers, have been caught there by getting too close to the shallows as they attempt to hide from the current.

How lucky are we?
People fly thousands of miles from all over the world to have a day like this. Bo Stehlin, Astrid Deeth, my wife Leslie and I remind ourselves how lucky are we to live and sail here.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
The views
It is spectacular from the top of Mount Livermore.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Once at the top of Mount Livermore you have a 360-degree view of San Francisco Bay. There is Mount Diablo to the east, Mount Tam to the north, the city to the south, and the sun setting and the Golden Gate Bridge to the west. In between the views you can see every puff of wind, current line and sailboat sailing on the Bay.

The docks to the West are closed.
You’ll feel as if you’ve traveled far when you arrive at docks that resemble a third-world destination. All the deep-water docks to the west are closed.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

By the end of the day on Sunday the docks had cleared out and the mooring balls were empty. The sea lions (or are they harbor seals?) were resting comfortably in the sun on the heavily damaged western docks and would soon have the whole place to themselves.

TowBoatUS came out and pulled the stranded boat off as we were coming down from the top.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The good news for the boat in Keil Cove was they landed on a rising tide, though it looks as if it still took a boost from TowBoatUS to give enough of a pull to get them off. Either way it was a perfect sunny day to enjoy wherever you parked your boat for the day. If you were as lucky as we were, you landed one of the far-too-few open, deep-water slips to tie up for a few hours and hike one of the Bay Area’s great outdoor escapes.