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May 15, 2024

Orcas Back in the Spotlight as Boat Sinks Near Strait of Gibraltar

We’ve written two or three stories about orcas attacking sailboats over the past year or two. Well, they’re at it again. Orcas have reportedly attacked a boat near the Strait of Gibraltar on Sunday, causing it to sink. The New York Times reports the 50-ft sailboat Alboran Cognac was approached approximately 14 miles off the coast of Cape Spartel, Morocco. The vessel’s two crew reported the orcas had “slammed the hull, damaged the rudder and caused a leak.” A nearby oil tanker diverted and picked up the sailors; the boat was left adrift, and according to Moroccan authorities, eventually sank.

The research group GT Orca Atlántica (GTOA) tracks populations of the Iberian orca subpopulation, and says there have been nearly 700 interactions since orca attacks on ships in the region were first reported in May 2020. While their records show a decline in attacks, the incidents are occurring often enough that mariners are forming various community groups to report sightings and interactions with orcas in the coastal regions of Spain, Portugal and Northern Africa.

GTOA hosts a website where mariners can see and report incidents involving orcas.

Orca Map_GTOA website
This map shows reported orca encounters, including Sunday’s sinking of Alboran Cognac.
© 2024 GT Atlántic Orca has a page dedicated to orca encounters, with a map showing the animals’ annual migratory path along Spain’s coast and an action plan for mariners, devised in 2021.

There still seems to be no clear reason for the orcas’ attacks on boats.
© 2024 Noonsite

One Facebook group that calls itself Orcas Attacks Solutions has a great slogan for the orcas — if only they could read.

The group’s rules state, “Your post must be related to orcas’ attacks. Any [post] that is irrelevant will be deleted. If you do not have a boat but have strong opinions on how boaters should manage their life afloat. We don’t care.”
© 2024 Facebook/Orcas Attacks Solutions
We haven’t joined this private Facebook group, but we can see their intention is to provide a platform where “boaters can discuss the possible solutions, [equipment] or tactics that could be used [to] avoid interactions with orcas, deter them, or defend a boat that is being attacked.” Hopefully there are some good ideas brewing among the members.

Another group, Orca Attack Reports, has 62,900 members and is open to everyone. Again, members share news and information about orca sightings in transit.

To date, we are unaware of any mariner having died as a result of the orcas’ actions, but we understand this latest incident marks the fifth boat that has sunk. Our guess is it might not be the last.

Good Jibes #142: Henry Vare on Wingfoiling Beyond Your Years

This week’s host, Moe Roddy, is joined by Henry Vare to chat about all things wingfoiling, aka winging. Henry is a 15-year-old wingfoiler who first picked up the sport four years ago.

Wingfoiling is taking Henry beyond the Bay. Hear about his experience in Puerto Rico and how it compares to plying his local waters.
© 2024 Henry Vare

Hear the history of wingfoiling, how it compares to sailing, how winging works, about a typical day for Henry, and about the races he’s most proud of.

This episode covers everything from wingfoiling to homework. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • What’s Henry’s favorite school subject?
  • How did he get into wingfoiling or winging?
  • Do you have to blow up the wings?
  • How do you attach to wingfoils?
  • What’s Henry’s typical day like?
  • Does he get scared wingfoiling?
  • Are older wingfoilers scared of him?
  • Short Tacks: Who’s his favorite winger?

Learn more about Henry on Instagram @HNVare.

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!

Get Onboard — Wear Your Life Jacket to Work on Friday!

It’s that time of year again! As we head toward summer, the National Safe Boating Council is reminding us to wear our life jackets when we’re on the water. The campaign is part of National Safe Boating Week, May 18–24. The week is the annual kickoff of the Safe Boating Campaign, a global awareness effort that encourages boaters to make the most of their boating adventure by being responsible.

We’re getting our jackets on ahead of time, so, as they say Down Under, “We’ll be right mate!”

Pretty sure I was sitting in that same spot this day last year!
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Monica
Life Jacket at work day
Blue or red? It doesn’t matter, just get it over your head.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Friday’s Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day comes with prizes!

No matter where you’re working, you can share the positive #safeboating message and join in the fun by wearing your life jacket and posting creative pictures on social media for a chance to win a prize.

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Wear a life jacket wherever you work
  2. Snap a picture – send it to Latitude 38
  3. Post the picture on social media with the hashtag #wearyourlifejacketatworkday
  4. Tag the Safe Boating Campaign (@boatingcampaign)

Boaters will be selected randomly to win prizes from the Safe Boating Campaign throughout the day.

Make sure you’re in the know by following the @boatingcampaign on FacebookInstagram, X, and TikTok for the latest updates.

Dog in life jacket
Peaches is on it. She’s sure to win a prize.
© 2024 Randi Harry

National Safe Boating Week has a different message for each day, all designed to raise awareness of safety on the water.

Here’s the calendar:

May 18: Always wear a life jacket! For life jacket fit facts visit: #safeboating #nationalsafeboatingweek

May 19: An ECOS (engine cut-off switch) matters — use it. #safeboating #nationalsafeboatingweek #getconnected

May 20: File a float plan — let someone know when and where you’re boating. #safeboating #nationalsafeboatingweek

May 21: Never boat under the influence. #safeboating #nationalsafeboatingweek

May 22: Prepare for the unexpected. #safeboating #nationalsafeboatingweek

May 23: Take a safe boating course. #safeboating #nationalsafeboatingweek

May 24: Always pay attention and maintain full visibility when operating a vessel. #safeboating #nationalsafeboatingweek

Learn more about the program and the organization behind it at Safe Boating Campaign.

We Are in Short Supply of Latitude 38 Letters, and We Need Your Help!

We here at Latitude 38 are fortunate enough to have a reliable crop of comments, emails, and yes, even occasional handwritten letters trickling through our various channels. We organize and edit all of these fruits to bring you our monthly Letters column, and we hope these letters are ultimately a chance for you, the West Coast sailing community, to speak to one another through Latitude 38.

But this month, the crop is thin, and we really need your help.

Is there something you’ve been wanting to get off your chest, Latitude Nation? Do you have a small story you’ve been wanting to tell, a memory that’s bubbled to the surface, a favorite moment of sailing, an observation? Do you have a complaint or grievance? Do you have a concern or a comforting thought?

Please comment below, or email us here.

About six years ago, we published a letter from a sailor who had recently completed a circumnavigation, observing how the voyage had changed them, and wondering what came next. Sometime around spring 2018, we asked people to comment on the premise: Had a long voyage changed you in ways you didn’t expect? Was there some anxiety (or even depression) regarding what came next? We received this five-page, double-sided, handwritten letter a few months later from Michael Traum. (If you’re reading this Michael — or if anyone knows him — please contact us!)
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim Henry

Here are a few prompts for Letters and comments, but the sky is the limit for topics:

— Describe your local sailing scene. What’s changed over the years? Is it growing, shrinking, about the same?

— Talk about your sailing history, and plans for your sailing future.

— What are some of the lesser-known hassles (and joys) of boat ownership? What’s been your experience with insurance and property taxes?

— Is there something new on the Bay Area waterfront that you either love or hate?

— With the upcoming Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show, we usually do a reader poll, asking you for both broad and incredibly specific comments about Latitude 38.

Please let us know.

Short Sightings: Swimming to the Farallones, and More

Catching up on the dockside news from the Farallones, Europe, Mexico, the deep, blue ocean and Redwood City. Short Sightings captures some of the news that washed across the foredeck after that last, deep trough.

Amy Appelhans Gubser of Pacifica Swims to the Farallones

You thought the Doublehanded Farallones was hard. While racers sailed there in the “comfort” of foul weather gear, 55-year-old ocean swimmer Amy Appelhans Gubser swam the 29.7 miles from inside the Golden Gate to the Farallones without a wetsuit. According to the San Jose Mercury News she jumped into the Bay at 3:25 a.m. on Saturday and swam for 17 hours to reach the islands. It can be rough sailing in that water, but to swim in the cold Bay and ocean water, in the dark, with gray fog, sharks below and the current, winds and sea state, is almost unbelievable. There are only five other people who have swum the distance, all starting at the Farallones and finishing in the Bay. She is the first to go the other direction. You can find more of these crazy people at the South End Rowing Club and Dolphin Club in Aquatic Park. The “cold plunge” is all the rage these days, but 17 hours swimming with sharks is unlikely to be as popular. Congratulations, Amy!!!

A record-breaking, cold, one-way swim to the Farallones.
© 2024 Marathon Swimmers Federation

European Grand Prix Sailing Visits the US

The difference between the European and American sailing scene can be vast. While there’s a group of wealthy Europeans who come west to scoop up wooden classics such as the former Pacific vessel Viveka to restore and bring to the Med, there are also numerous commercially sponsored, heavily branded racing circuits. The US has nothing on this scale. On occasion, these events visit our shores, as they will this summer (though not the West). Thirty boats from the Vendée Globe, set to start on November 10, will come to the US to participate in the Vendée New York, sailing their IMOCA 60s from the city to Les Sables-d’Olonne in France.

It starts on 29 May at 2 p.m. PDT, off the coast of New York, with twice as many boats as in the first edition in 2016. This transatlantic regatta, which includes the favorites for the Vendée Globe, is likely to be extremely fast, with downwind conditions propelling them quickly east. With the right conditions and given the technological advances in the IMOCAs, the record time of 9d 16h 57min 52s set by Jérémie Beyou in 2016 should be beaten. The actual Vendée will have 40 competitors in the pinnacle event of singlehanded circumnavigation events. You can follow the event here.

The other European Grand Prix circuit event visiting the US is the 52 Super Series. This turbo-charged fleet usually races on the Med, but did visit the US in 2017. It is sailed in TP52s, which were orginally developed using a box rule created by Bill Lee for use in the Transpac and local racing. After some brief success on the California coast the class moved to Europe, where development has continued with three American boats involved, Quantum Racing, Sled and Interlodge. The class has loaded 10 boats onto a ship to come race two events in Newport, RI, in June and July.

These are boats and events rarely seen on American shores.

Marina Cabo San Lucas Operation Returned to IGY. Permanently?

Governments operate in mysterious ways. A few weeks ago we reported Marina Cabo San Lucas had suddenly and without warning lost its lease to the Mexican authorities who took it over.

IGY recently sent out a note with an update saying, in part, “[On} April 11, 2024, the Secretary of the Navy (Secretaría de Marina) and the Administrator of the National Ports System Cabo San Lucas (Administración del Sistema Portuario Nacional Cabo San Lucas or ASIPONA) took full control of the marina in Cabo San Lucas. IGY Marinas had no prior knowledge of this decision, nor did we participate in it, but we have taken all necessary measures to address this situation.

“On May 3, 2024, IGY Marinas obtained a favorable injunction from the federal court that allows us to resume operating and managing the marina in Cabo San Lucas and provide critical services as we have consistently done for the past 20 years.

“We will continue seeking dialogue with the port authorities and utilizing all legal and other means at our disposal to fully resolve this situation.” It sounds as if there are still issues to be resolved, but we hope that by the time the Ha-Ha arrives in November (if not sooner), everything will be firmly back in order.

Clipper Race Has Sailed on By

The world’s longest circumnavigation race, the Clipper Round the World Race, left Seattle on May 7 and has passed by California on its way south to finish in Panama. The fleet is currently between Banderas Bay and the Revillagigedo Islands (say that three times fast) about 360 miles to the west. Many California sailors have done legs of this circumnavigation in past years. We wrote about local Alerion sailor and Richmond Yacht Club member John Arnold’s recent participation in our May issue.

Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show Starts Tomorrow

We’ll be down in Redwood City this evening setting up the Latitude 38 booth for the boat show at Westpoint Marina in Redwood City. The four-day show runs May 16–19 and will have a broad display of new power and sailboats along with booths from marine vendors. You can check out more detail from Latitude 38’s key sailing supporters here and visit the full Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show site here. Sailboats on display include Bavaria, Beneteau, Jeanneau, Dufour, Excess Catamaran and Hanse. We look forward to seeing you there.

Mark Your Calendars for the Master Mariners Regatta and Wooden Boat Show

Classic sailboats, unique yachts, model boat building and more! Join the fun and save the date: June 23 at Corinthian Yacht Club.

Wind Indicator
Sunday afternoon sailors on the Oakland Estuary had an otherwise beautiful day of sailing marred by a serious-looking fire that broke out in the Port of Oakland.
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