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Mexico-Bound Cruisers Are Passing Through San Francisco Bay

Fall is when cruisers in the Northwest, along with whales and other migrating species, start making their way toward the warm, sunny waters of Mexico. Many met up at our Fall Crew List Party at Spaulding Marine Center, and others are anchored in the Bay or tucked into marinas. We were on the docks at Schoonmaker Point Marina in Sausalito and came across a couple of impressive boats that are heading out shortly.

The 68-ft Gunboat Slim was tied up in the basin, looking polished and ready to go anywhere. We spoke with the crew, Travis and Anna McGarry, along with their ship’s dog Lola, as they were preparing to head south. Like many, they had been coming through the Panama Canal a year ago, but pandemic delays caused them to miss the window to head to the South Pacific.

Gunboat 68 Slim
Travis, Anna and Lola aboard the Gunboat 68 Slim in Sausalito.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Plan B was a trip up the West Coast coming as far north as San Francisco. Asked what they’d discovered as a highlight of this trip, they mentioned Catalina Island as an unexpected surprise. After being in the Med they were expecting something more like the hard-partying, overdeveloped islands lying off Italy or Spain, but were completely surprised by the raw, natural beauty and open spaces with wild bison roaming around. Despite being well-traveled professional sailors, they were also amazed by the swimming and diving. Not at all what they expected just 25 miles offshore from the 20+ million people living in L.A. Avid kite- and wing foilers, they also were awed by, and took full advantage of, San Francisco’s reliable winds: another huge plus for their California diversion.

Gunboat 68 Slim
Gunboats look fast even sitting still.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Travis, Anna and Lola are finally going to be heading south with plans for the South Pacific as the season opens in 2023.

Nearby was the 72-ft Sea Dragon, which visited the Bay in 2018 with then-crew Eric and Shanley Loss. Eric and Shanley are both adventurous Southern California sailors whose adventures include Eric’s solo circumnavigation on an Islander 36 and their sailing voyages on their own boat to Greenland and elsewhere. We wrote about them in our March 2019 issue. Eric and Shanley are still managing shoreside operations for Sea Dragon while the new Italian skipper, Alessandra Peparini, and her crew are bringing the boat south from the Pacific Northwest.

Alessandra Peparini Sea Dragon
Skipper Alessandra Peparini started her professional sailing career in the Med but now she’s taking Sea Dragon wherever the wind blows.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Alessandra and Sea Dragon are heading to Ensenada, where they plan to haul out and refit before resuming their scientific and charter voyages among the Pacific islands. You can learn more about the Sea Dragon and Pangaea Exploration here.

Most of the boats sailing through are filled with people taking time off work to explore the warm waters to our south. But for both of these crews, taking the boat south is “work,” though sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. There are dozens more who have passed through to join the Baja Ha-Ha or are just following the annual migration at a pace that suits them.

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Sailing in Winning Company
John Clauser from Walnut Creek, known locally as an avid sailor aboard his 1D48 'Bodacious+,' has won a Nobel Prize for his work and experiments as a physicist.