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May 20, 2024

University of Washington Student Yacht Club May Be Shut Down Following Repairs

For more than 75 years, students at the University of Washington in Seattle have had access to the Washington Yacht Club, a nonprofit that teaches and promotes sailing in a “safe, inclusive, accessible, and affordable way.” For a mere $39 per quarter (not including the cost of tuition), student yacht club members had access to boats, lessons, and rentals, according to the Seattle Times. With plans to renovate its historic waterfront now in motion, the University of Washington, or UW — a school made famous recently by the book and movie The Boys in the Boat — may permanently shut down the student-run club.

The story of the Washington Yacht Club has echoes in several corners of the West Coast waterfront: aging docks and infrastructure nearing (or past) the end of their useful lives and needing to be replaced, competing visions for the shoreline, and apparent ill will during the planning process.

“As of July 2024, we will no longer be allowed to have space at the student-funded waterfront, ending the long tradition of students sailing on the UW campus,” the Washington Yacht Club said on their website. “The announcement followed a multi-year-long project plan to remove most of the docks for student use at the waterfront. UW Recreation never consulted student organizations during the planning and has yet to show a good-faith effort to accommodate the club despite over 600 public comments submitted to the city opposing the master use permit.”

The Washington Yacht Club (WYC) currently stores its fleet of 70 boats, including dinghies, keelboats and high-performance catamarans, at the docks near Husky Stadium on the east side of campus, according to the Seattle Times, adding that dock space would be dramatically reduced — or effectively eliminated — following a $2.54-million renovation project. “The university contends the yacht club can continue to exist and has offered its members the option of becoming a recreational club. If they do, they’d be allowed to store one boat at the docks.”

An idyllic scene from the student-run Washington Yacht Club in Seattle. Commentary: While Latitude 38 has only recently become aware of the conflict at the University of Washington, and while we have yet to do our own independent reporting on the issue, we unequivocally support any organization, like WYC, that provides affordable access to sailing. Here’s another link to submit comments to the city of Seattle.
© 2024 Washington Yacht Club/Facebook

“Since the current renovation plans were drafted behind the backs of critical stakeholders, it should come as no surprise that they don’t take into account the dock’s current usage and threaten to disrupt student access to sailing at UW,” WYC said on their website. “The current proposal entails the removal, without replacement, of critical facilities … effectively terminating the club’s small boat sailing program — a staple in its offerings for both beginning and advanced sailors.” WYC said the current plans would also diminish the club’s keelboat fleet, “limiting access to larger boats, which are essential for training students to sail the Puget Sound.

“What’s more, the proposed dock extension … creates a new navigational hazard due to its placement in the only safe channel for navigation from the waterfront to Lake Washington.”

WYC said they’re seeking a statement of support from the university administration affirming WYC’s “essential offerings will not be eliminated from the campus waterfront … in keeping with the intended function of the facility’s establishment;” a halt of the East Campus Dock construction process until plans include input of student stakeholders; and the establishment of a waterfront oversight group that includes students to give voice to their interests. “Given the history outlined above and current plan of prioritizing commercial activities, we do not trust UW Recreation to advocate for student interests,” WYC said.

Renee Chien, an international student from Taiwan and current rear commodore of WYC, told KOMO News: “It was really because of sailing and because of my access to the water and this newfound connection that I have with the Puget Sound that I feel like I would like to stay here to keep sailing and keep building the community here.”

New: Free Classy Classified Ads With Photos for Items Under $1,000

What do a Fynspray WS60 hand pump, a Hobie 16, a Viking life raft and a Danforth-style anchor have in common?

They are among the first few items posted in our Classy Classifieds since we added the photo feature to our FREE classies for items under $1,000. And in the small-world category, we ran into two of the people posting these items at the Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show at Westpoint Harbor in Redwood City. Colin (below) had just posted a photo of his 1974 Hobie 16, priced at $654 with a trailer! Who says sailing is a rich man’s sport?

Colin, on the left, is selling his Hobie Cat for $654. Our ace Peninsula delivery driver Chris Siefert, behind the desk, helped at the booth, and Paul Irving from Morro Bay Yacht Club was selling show tix via Caltix.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

We have a list of 9,747 improvements we want to make to our website, and this is the latest small adjustment we made to help get that unused gear cluttering up your life into the hands of someone who can actually use it. It’s part of the RRR (reduce, reuse, recyle) way of thinking.

Viking Liferaft
The new free-photo feature for free ads is life-saving. This Viking raft is available for $900.
© 2024 Classy Advertiser

Besides meeting Colin, we met the gentleman selling the Viking raft above (certified by Sal’s Inflatables through 2025). Unfortunately, we misplaced his name, but he told us he’d just sold his much-sailed Newport 30 and had recently purchased a newer Beneteau 31. He likes 30-ft boats because they’re big enough for comfort and small enough to singlehand.

Hobie Cat with Trailor
This Hobie Cat is available, with a trailer, for $654.
© 2024 Colin

Here’s Colin’s Hobie. He told us he just wasn’t finding the time to use it. He noted that you’re probably not going to win any races with his $654 Hobie, but you’re going to smile either way. They didn’t build 135,000+ Hobie 16s because everyone won! They’re just fun for knockabout sailing on the Bay, Delta or on California’s inland lakes — which all happen to be full this year. If you hurry, you could possibly sail Death Valley. (Has anyone tried that yet?) Shallow-draft boats only.

Fynspray WS60
Now you know what Fynspray WS60s look like.
© 2024 Classy Advertiser

With your neighborhood post office, FedEx or UPS store, you can probably get most of those dusty items out of your garage, into a box, and shipped off to some deserving sailor who can put your items to good use. You’ll have some much-needed spare change and feel good knowing that what was unneeded in your house is appreciated in another.

Aluminum anchor
This lightweight aluminum anchor with chain and rode is asking $250.
© 2024 Classy ad

The anchor above comes with 20 feet of 1/4-in chain and 200 feet of 3/8-in three-strand line. They say they can deliver it to Richmond Yacht Club if you’re in the neighborhood. It looks like a good lunch hook for something lightweight — this anchor wants to get its flukes into the mud again.

Since we’ve just started offering the free pictures, we’re waiting to find out the unintended consequences of change. We’ve noticed that on our Classifieds page, there is more gear shown than boats. That’s going to cause those who enjoy only boat porn to suffer a little. Luckily, if all you want to do is look at boats, you can use the menu of boats in specific lengths on the right to see the good stuff.

If you do have gear you want to sell for under $1,000 and want to include photo(s) just click here. If you want to see all the latest boats and gear posted click here. There’s new stuff popping up all the time, like a nice little West Wight Potter 19 just showing up for $11,500.

Now there are only 9,746 improvements left to make to the website.

While these ads are free, what is not free is printing the monthly issue of Latitude 38 and updating our website and readers. If you’d like to make a contribution to help Latitude continue to cover West Coast sailing and offering free Classifieds, you can do that here.

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Freya Owner Jim Hancock Asks, “What’s In a Name?”

Jim Hancock, founder of the Bay Area Sailing Science Center, wrote in with some history of the Freya 39 (three-time winner of the Sydney Hobart), how it got its name, and why he named his boat Solstice. The Freyas were built locally by Jim Gannon, first in Sausalito and then in Petaluma.

The 23 kt gold lettering of Solstice shines day and night.
The 23 kt gold lettering of Solstice shines day and night.
© 2024 Jim Hancock

“In June 2006, Latitude published a letter I wrote about how I named my boat Solstice for its symbolism as a ‘celestial yin-yang,’ only to learn later that the yin-yang symbol actually originated as a solstice symbol!” Jim wrote.

A page from the 1964 Sydney Hobart program.
A page from the 1964 Sydney Hobart program.
© 2024 Jim Hancock

“That worked for me, but it wasn’t my boat’s only celestial connection, or the only interesting naming connection. Solstice is a Freya 39, patterned after a wooden boat named Freya, which remains to this day the only boat to win three consecutive Sydney-Hobarts (1963, 1964, 1965). Freya was designed by Trygve Halvorsen — an Australian of Norwegian descent. Freya came on the heels of Gretel, another boat from the Halvorsen yard, and the first boat to beat America in an America’s Cup race (not the Cup, only a single race).”

Constitution docks with Freya winners on bricks.
Freya’s won the race three years in a row.
© 2024 Jim Hancock

“The name Freya was chosen by Trygve’s older brother, Magnus. Freya is the Norse goddess of love, beauty, fertility, war, and death. She is the Norse counterpart to Venus and the goddess for whom the day Friday was named (Freya’s day). It is a fitting name for a boat with such beautiful lines. Other days of the week are similarly named: Monday for the moon; Tuesday is Tyr’s day (the Norse equivalent of Mars); Wednesday is Odin’s day (the Norse equivalent of Zeus); Thursday is Thor’s day (the god of thunder); Saturday is for Saturn; and Sunday, of course, is for the sun.”

Freya Finishing 1963 Sydney Hobart
Freya Finishing 1963 Sydney Hobart.
© 2024 Jim Hancock

“As many know, Latitude’s former publisher, Richard Spindler, owned a Freya, Contrary to Ordinary, popularizing the design through his writings and crazy antics with builder Jim Gannon. In June, I will have owned Solstice for 30 years, living aboard for nearly 26 of them. I recently moved ashore to become a dirt dweller, which ironically means that I hope to start sailing Solstice again after many years of her being tied in the slip.”

Solstice hauled out and shining.
Solstice still shines after all these years.
© 2024 Jim Hancock

P.S. “Much of the background I learned about Freya came from in-person visits and interviews with Halvorsen, and shipwright Trevor Gowland, when we were anchored in Sydney Harbour in 2005. After [I had] lunch with Halvorsen at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, he handed me a roll of drawings. They were Freya’s original blueprints.”

Speaking of solstice — have you put your June 21-23 solstice weekend sailing plans on the Summer Sailstice map yet