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April 24, 2024

Celebrate the Coming Summer With ‘Opening Day on the Bay’ Sunday, April 28

You know summer is coming when it’s time for Opening Day on the Bay! This Sunday, April 28, is the Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association’s (PICYA) annual Opening Day on the Bay, and everyone is invited to join the celebration. Start by having your boat blessed in Raccoon Strait, then head over to the San Francisco waterfront for the parade of boats — or just do one! You don’t need to be a member of a yacht club, and it’s free to participate!

This year’s theme is “Rockin’ on the Bay.” You can interpret this any way you like. Dress up your crew, dress up your boat, play some old-time rock ‘n’ roll music … you could even reenact some of your favorite movie or cartoon characters that epitomize your own idea of rock ‘n’ roll. Whatever you decide, remember to fly all your flags and pennants.

Here’s a glimpse of the 99th Opening Day Boat Parade, held on April 22, 2016.
© 2024 Mia Bernt / PICYA

The parade starts at noon, just north of Anita Rock off the shore of Crissy Field in the Presidio, then follows along the Cityfront to the first Fort Mason building east of the Marina Green. All you need to do to join the fun is register by April 25, and carry a working marine radio. (You may enter up until 10 a.m. on 4/28, but entries received after April 25 are not guaranteed inclusion in the program or award competition.)

“Awards?” you ask. There are multiple categories and prizes for this year’s event: classic and historic yachts; powerboats decorated to theme; sailboats decorated to theme; power or sail decorated by juniors; flags and streamers by yacht club; and decorated not to theme. (Even those without decorations can win? Good times!) There are six trophies to be awarded: the BoatUS Ward Cleveland Memorial; the Captain Morgan; the Pier 39; Royal Cruise Line; Marine World Foundation and the Claude Benham Memorial. There will also be prize bags for first, second and third place in each group. Trophies and prize bags will be presented at the June delegate meeting. (“See your Yachting Yearbook for details on the trophies — we follow the deeds of trust.”)

Rain during the 2022 Opening Day Parade didn’t dampen these sailors’ spirits. Surely they won a prize for their decorative interpretation of “San Francisco Bay — Leading the Way.”
© 2024 Island Yacht Club

The Blessing of the Fleet is organized by Corinthian Yacht Club and takes place in Raccoon Strait. Boats start with their own parade before sailing by the committee boat, which in the past has always held a a priest, a minister and a rabbi. Could be the opening line to a good joke … but it’s not a joke. Corinthian YC positions a Blessing Vessel in Raccoon Strait in front of the club. On board are clergy of different faiths who bless all boats and boaters for the coming season.

PICYA started the annual celebration of Opening Day in 1917. The blessing tradition was added to the festivities in 1963 and known as the “Blessing of the Pleasure Craft.” The ritual is modeled on age-old traditional blessings of vessels of working fishermen.

If you want your boat to be blessed on Sunday, make sure you’re on the water by mid-morning, and follow the line of boats — there is no formal process (apart from the standard “rules of the road” and common sense, of course).

Opening Day on the Bay
Boats in Raccoon Strait lining up for the Blessing of the Fleet last year.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The tradition of Opening Day goes back to the 1800s, when the drawbridge at Beach Road and Main Street in Belvedere was opened to allow arks and boats back into the Bay after wintering in Belvedere Lagoon.

Everyone is welcome. If you do not have a boat, join PICYA on the official committee boat to get the most up-close view of the boats. See details here.

Good Jibes #139: John Arndt on the History of Summer Sailstice

This week’s host, Moe Roddy, is joined by Latitude 38 publisher and Summer Sailstice creator John Arndt. Summer Sailstice is the International Celebration of Sailing, taking place this year on June 22.

A cool hat for a passionate sailor.
© 2024 John Arndt

Hear how John started Summer Sailstice, how it works, how to participate, his favorite highlights over the years, and where his love for sailing comes from.

This episode covers everything from Summer Sailstice to sailing in the Bay Area. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • When did John start Summer Sailstice?
  • What is Summer Sailstice?
  • Where does Summer Sailstice take place?
  • Who is invited to Summer Sailstice?
  • Where did the idea for Summer Sailstice come from?
  • What were some of the challenges in creating Summer Sailstice?
  • Where’s the best place to cruise in the Bay Area?
  • What is Sailors for the Sea?

Sign up for Summer Sailstice at

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!

Relentless Performance for Every Yacht, Everywhere, Every Time

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South Bay Sailor Alerts USCG to Sailboat Possibly Adrift

On Monday afternoon, South Bay sailor and Latitude reader Jon Clifford was looking out the window of his eighth-floor workspace around 2 p.m. when he saw a sailboat that appeared to be adrift. “[T]he jib had unfurled, the boat was getting blown in circles and [it] appeared that there was no one on board,” Jon wrote to us. What’s more, after using his phone camera to get a closer look, Jon saw what appeared to be a yellow jacket on the aft port side. Fearing for a sailor’s safety, he duly alerted the USCG and supplied them with photos and location details. By this time the boat appeared to be closing in on the San Mateo Bridge.

Around 40 minutes later, Jon received a call from the USCG saying they had seen a boat adrift and asking him to help guide their MH-65 Dolphin helicopter to the sailboat’s location. “The helicopter circled on scene for approximately 30 minutes and also in my guesstimation searched the water nearby before departing back north,” Jon wrote. Also during this time a fire truck appeared on the road next to the shore. The boat looked as if it was still drifting toward the bridge when Jon left work. “My main concern was that it would get into the channel and get struck by a tug or cargo ship,” he added.

Any time we see a boat that looks adrift, it’s cause for alarm.
© 2024 Jon Clifford

A USCG spokesperson told us on Tuesday that the San Mateo Fire Department and Coast Guard San Francisco had responded to Jon’s call. They were unable to get close to the boat with their 45-ft Response Boat — Medium as the sailboat was not in safely navigable waters. (According to the USCG’s website the 45-ft boat draws three feet four inches.)

The spokesperson advised that neither the response boat nor the  helicopter had seen any persons onboard the boat, and that they’d scoured the nearby waters for any persons in possible distress and saw no one.

The USCG report says the vessel was dragging anchor, and there was no one onboard and no sign of recent use. The vessel was not in the shipping channel or causing navigation problems. They closed the case.

At the same time, staff at the nearby Oyster Point Marina heard the San Mateo Fire Department on the radio saying they were going to look at the boat. The staff headed out in the marina’s craft to offer assistance and joined the search for possible persons in distress. We spoke with San Mateo County Harbor District Director of Operations John Moren, who said the marina staff reported that the boat was anchored and there was no one aboard, no one in distress, and no emergency.

Jon captured the following video as the Coast Guard helicopter flew over the sailboat.

This turned out to be a non-emergency. But we are grateful for everyone who takes the initiative to call in a situation that potentially is someone’s emergency. Yes, the Bay is not the open ocean, but as we all know, it can get wild out there, and Monday’s winds were at times ferocious. Besides, accidents or misfortunes can happen under any circumstances, so it behooves us all to be alert and look out for one another. We extend our thanks to Jon Clifford for taking the time to call the USCG. If nothing else, it was good practice for first responders, and a good reminder to us all to set a solid anchor!

Schooner Creek Boat Works Launches New Morrelli & Melvin Cat Destined for Hawaii

There hasn’t been a lot of new sailboat building on the West Coast for well over a decade, but that doesn’t mean there’s none. Last week we shared a short story on Saildrone, which we think is likely the largest new-sailboat builder on the West Coast. This week we received a note from Amber Mohr at Schooner Creek Boat Works in Portland, OR, announcing the launching of their recent build, the new Morrelli & Melvin 55, destined for the charter trade in Hawaii.

Schooner Creek Boatworks
The crew from Schooner Creek Boat Works lines up in front of their latest creation.
© 2024 Schooner Creek Boat Works

As Amber wrote, “Schooner Creek Boat Works is proud to announce the launching of Four Winds III. She is a 55-ft custom Charter Catamaran for Maui Classic Charters. She was designed by Morrelli & Melvin to carry 149 passengers out of Maui, Hawaii. She is a double-decker boat with underwater viewing windows and dual BBQs off the stern. After sea trials on the Columbia River, she will set sail to Hawaii this summer.”

Schooner Creek Boatworks
The purpose-built cat has been launched in Oregon and will sail west to Hawaii this summer.
© 2024 Schooner Creek Boat Works

Schooner Creek Boat Works has built a number of Morrelli & Melvin catamarans for the Hawaii charter trade, but is probably best known to San Francisco sailors for building Steve Rander’s Wylie 70 Rage and Bruce Schwab’s Vendée Globe Wylie 60 Ocean Planet. Steve Rander founded the yard in 1977, the same year Latitude 38 started publishing. They’ve operated as both a full-service boat yard and custom boat builder ever since. In 2015 Kevin Flanigan, who used to race his Wylie 44 Ocelot on the Bay, bought the yard to continue the tradition.

Schooner Creek Boatworks
This cat is different from what many are used to seeing from the Morrelli & Melvin drawing boards.
© 2024 Schooner Creek Boat Works

“Currently Hawaii charter boats are our primary new boatbuilding projects, though other boatbuilding projects are always of interest,” Kevin explained.

In addition to the Hawaii charter cats, Newport Beach-based Morrelli & Melvin are primarily known for high-performance and production catamarans, including Steve Fossett’s record-setting circumnavigator Cheyenne.

Though different from the volume-production days of Costa Mesa, the West Coast working waterfront continues to pioneer and launch new sailboats every year.