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06-26-2014, 09:25 AM
WILDFLOWER is anchored at Garrison Bay, aka "English Camp," on the west shore of San Juan Island. Nearby are several bald eagles, and an impossibly situated osprey nest at the top of a dead snag. How that nest is anchored and survives winter gales is hard to say. But with a telescope we could see a baby osprey poking its head for a view around.

Astern are anchored two interesting small craft. The Schock 22 was the first production MORC fiberglass ocean racer, launched about 1959.. It had a sprit, fractional rig, small house, and helped to put the WD Schock Company on the map. The local Schock 22 here at Garrison Bay looks pretty sad. But it has been at least 50 years afloat.

The other interesting craft is a "Scram Pram," a boxy 16 footer designed by Jim Michalak. "APPLE CRATE" has an unstayed mast, a leeboard, a pram bow, and the skipper sits inside his cabin to steer. APPLE CRATE was rafted with a West Wight Potter and a Sparrow 16, and it was quite a jolly bunch.

Next stop: Friday Harbor.

06-28-2014, 03:11 PM
Oil spills are never any fun. A large one appeared over night, covering much of the Friday Harbor marina with a bright sheen. I went in search of a culprit, but came up blank. There are several old wooden fishboats nearby. Pumping oily bilge water seems a possibility.

"Popeye" the local icon harbor seal, a family of otters living nearby, and SUP rental students could not be appreciating the oil spill. I went to talk with the Harbor Master's office. They were unaware of the problem, though clearly visible from their front window. Said they'd "put maintenance right on it."

The maintenance guy appeared about an hour later, threw four oil absorbent pads into the water, and called it good.

A large Coast Guard RIB appeared, manned by six kids wearing holstered weapons. They went up into town for breakfast. When they reappeared, I walked over and asked, "did anyone report an oil spill here? The answer was "Nope, no oil spill reported." I then pointed out their RIB was floating in an especially thick glop of oil.
"Hmmm," the Coastie kids said, "someone should report this to Seattle."

I rolled my eyes. Sometimes its better to not look into the surface of the water.

06-28-2014, 06:54 PM
The San Juan Islands are action central for the protection of the local resident Orcas, an endangered species now down to only 88 individuals and dropping. The resident Orca pod, compared to the transients, have a jaw that permits eating only Chinook salmon. With the disappearance of salmon, the resident Orcas are losing their food stock.

Stiff fines have been and are enforced for approaching local Orcas. At the Friday Harbor Library were two big wall posters outlining viewing regulations of Orcas. One poster highlighted in red that no approach to an Orca closer than 100 yards could be made. The adjoining poster said it was 200 yards.

I went in search of an answer to this apparent contradiction. Just downhill is the Whale Museum, home of all things Orca. Surely they should know. Is it 100 yards or 200 yards?

The fellow behind the desk said, "100 yards," and that the other posters were "out of date."

Not exactly true. It is 200 yard approach in Washington waters. But 100 yards just across the border, in Canadian waters. And that is for the resident Orca population, not for the transients, with their more pointed dorsal fins.

And don't forget to turn off your depth sounder, as required by law.

06-29-2014, 08:41 PM

We are enjoying your posts. Our plan is to be there with Cloud next year. Sue spoke with your Sis today at the Farmers' Market. She is following too.

All the best,
Tom & Sue

07-03-2014, 01:39 PM
Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island is famous for its small town 4th of July parade and fireworks. So that's where we are, anchored alongside the pretty L. Francis Herreshoff, 30' ALICE.

My logbook from last year notes that at this spot I enjoyed an aerial display of Sweeping Comets, Purple Cycas Blooms, Glittering Silver to Bright Red, Revolving Dragons, Red Sunflower, Crossing Comets, Green Chrysanthemum to Crackling Display, Red Palm, Five Angle Star, Red White and Blue with Artillery, Golden Coconut, Golden Wave to Blue Swimming Chrysanthemum, Glittering Silver to Green to Red with Reports, Purple Crossette, Nishiki Kamuro Niagra Falls, and the Grand Finale.

A South Wester last night, 15, gusting 25, bounced us around a bit. I'd rowed out a second anchor to windward in the afternoon, and the depth was only about 7 feet, so we weren't going anywhere but up and down. About 0200 things calmed.

Congrats to DOMINO for getting safely to port after her losing rudder in the SHTP. Dave had moisture-metered and ultra sounded the rudder a year ago when he replaced the bearings. Short of building a new rudder, he was on the right track.

In Monterey, the Coast Guard Capt. gave Dave a nice compliment, to the effect that he "was the calmest and most together customer he's dealt with in 23 years of service." The CG Capt. also said that "95% of the time, the boat doesn't come home from where DOMINO was and in those conditions.

Well done, DOMINO!

07-03-2014, 02:05 PM
Avidly reading your descriptions of fireworks, Skip. Here in the Motherlode private fireworks are illegal, and the permitted shows have been requested to lower the display heights to limit the possibilitie of more fires in our parched areas. We need search out saner ways to celebrate freedom and independence... A reminder that we are all ultimately dependent on each other in our communities to stay safe. Life's a constant paradox, Eh?

07-03-2014, 10:52 PM
Hi Skip -
Thanks for the kind words and wishes. Back and dried out now.
Domino's on the hard in Monterey while we get a new rudder sorted...more on that in another post.

I'm enjoying reading your posts from the Salish Sea, where I grew up summer cruising with the family.
Interesting to see how some things have changed, and refreshingly how many have not.
Of course, many of my mental images are no doubt somewhat dated, but your descriptions and the locations bring up a lot of great memories.


07-06-2014, 06:20 PM
Nearby WILDFLOWER here at Anacortes, WA. is SOLITAIRE, Santa Cruz 27 #3, that was First-To-Finish and Overall winner of the first Singlehanded Transpac in 1978.

Norton Smith was her skipper that year, and did most of the race without a working autopilot. Norton spent long hours at the helm, and slept while employing sheet to tiller steering.

After the '78 SHTP, SOLITAIRE and WILDFLOWER cruised the Islands together. Norton, with Tom Wylie, then revolutionized small boat trans-ocean racing by winning the '79 Mini-Transat in his 21' Wylie design, AMERICAN EXPRESS.

What was extraordinary was AMERICAN EXPRESS's strength, wide beam, speed, and prototypical water ballast system for extra stability. Though Tabarly had used water ballast on the 35' PEN DUICK V before AMERICAN EXPRESS, PEN DUICK carried only 11% of its displacement and 91% of its fixed ballast in water ballast. AMERICAN EXPRESS could haul 27% of her displacement and 140% of fixed ballast in expendable sea water. That's a lot of extra righting moment!

I ran into Norton a few years back. He was crewing aboard the expeditionary schooner KAISEI out of Richmond, on a voyage to document the "Pacific Garbage Patch." I'll see if I can connect with Norton when WILDFLOWER returns to CA in September.

07-06-2014, 06:50 PM
Who should paddle by on his SUP at Lopez Island 4th of July but Capitola neighbor Morgan Larson. Morgan had just returned from St. Petersburg, Russia, where he won the Extreme 40 professional catamaran racing skippering ALINGHI. After 22 races in this picturesque city, it all came down to the final race, which Morgan and crew won.

Morgan said stadium sailing on 40' cats going 20 knots was "exciting," as the course was laid in confined quarters, near shore, on waters smaller in size than the Alameda Estuary.

I suspect that may have been an understatement. If you have not seen the short video of Morgan's ALINGHI being T-boned in earlier racing, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14dA-qLmNZo

07-11-2014, 11:00 PM
In over a dozen previous entries into Canada by boat, customs clearance was universally duck soup, usually via a short phone call reciting crew names and passport numbers.

But yesterday, for reasons not fully understood or explained, the three on-duty customs officers at Bedwell Harbor, S. Pender Island, decided WILDFLOWER was going to be their "catch of the day."

I was told by the head agent we were being filmed for the Canadian (reality) TV show "Border Security." I couldn't exactly tell them "NO," without fearing uncertain ramifications. But later learned this is a controversial show.

First, I was subjected to a ten minute questioning, especially to what we had onboard. A persistent question was "Do you smoke?" What is that about?

I was then sent back aboard WILDFLOWER, saying they would be down shortly for a "full inspection."

JHC. We were surrounded on three sides by four large powerboats, likely filled with freezers of food, and fully stocked liquor lockers.

Two armed customs officers arrived on the dock, told us to step off the boat, then pulled on plastic gloves, and disappeared below into our mini cabin. What were they doing??!

The agents spent a 15 minutes below, apparently looking for "secret compartments." There was considerable banging inside, maybe floor boards being replaced.... Through all this, the reality show cameras were rolling, as we stood nervously on the dock.

Finally, the customs officers emerged, said we'd "passed," and sent us on our way.

Maybe searching WILDFLOWER will be featured in some future episode of "Border Security" on the Canadian National Geo Channel. Doesn't sound too exciting.

07-12-2014, 09:45 AM
Like Mexico, there is no "weather" in Canada. At least for sailors. The VHF weather channels, at least what can be heard, broadcasts temps and UV index, and gives the normal for the date in Abbotsford. Then reverts to French. "High wind warnings" are almost always flying for the Straits of Georgia, even though nothing more than 20 knots is forecast.

We set off at sunrise from sweet Annette Cove on Prevost Island, bound 28 miles northwest, up the Trincomali Channel for the 3 pm tide gate at Dodd Narrows. It was motoring in smooth water, until it wasn't. At 11 a.m. a North Westerly began to fill abeam the Secretary Islands.

No biggee. Double reef, motor sailing at 4.4 SOG, and all was well.

By noon, all thoughts of Dodd Narrows were put off, and refuge was sought. The wind had built to 25, with gusts to 30. I rolled out about a foot of jib for balance, feathered the main, and we took off on a reach for safe harbor in Pirates Cove, two miles on the starboard beam.

All was well, as WILDFLOWER is currently heavily loaded with two months of cruising supplies and felt no tippy tendencies. But the dinghy technique of feathering was useful when the gusts came through.

We blew through the narrow entrance of Pirate's Cove, and set anchor up under the lee of big fir trees in 11'. I inflated the raft, rowed a stern line ashore to a tree, and we were set. Windy but smooth. 100 feet of scope out forward in clay mud bottom. Eagles overhead settling onto their favorite snags.

The rest of the afternoon was entertaining. Pirates Cove is probably the most popular and picturesque small cove between Nanaimo and Victoria. And often filled to capacity with 25-30 boats, stern tied to rings cemented into the sandstone cliffs.

By 4 pm WILDFLOWER was alone at anchor. 20 cruisers had "blown out" of Pirates Cove, trailing a moderate disarray of dinghies, kayaks, and awnings. Nothing for it but to take a hike ashore, where we found a dozen kayak campers taking refuge, unable to make progress northward.

Tomorrow it will be an early start for Nanaimo, transiting Dodd Narrows at the 8 a.m. slack water.

07-16-2014, 11:04 AM
The saga of SCARLETT RUNNER yesterday in the '14 Pacific Cup is unfortunately not an isolated incident .....it was an extraordinary effort by the Aussie crew of this Reichel-Pugh 52 to extricate themselves. Here's their story:

Day 4 – 140714 – Some troubles

Perhaps yesterday I should not have boasted of great boatspeed and complained about debris. Or perhaps it started when the sun went down and cloud cover veiled the bright moon so that the sea and sky were indistinguishable grey and objects in the water could not be seen. Or perhaps bad luck just comes like a thief in the night.

At 0940 UTC or 0240 local time our boat went from 16 kts to 2 kts as we ran over a large fishing net. The spinnaker came down and we pushed out the boom but could not back off it. Disco and Sammy leant over the side and attached halyards to the net. We hauled part of it up and the immensity of it caused many to swear under their breaths. It was not budging. The net seemed wrapped around the keel or the propeller. We sat like this, going nowhere, working on solutions for what seemed like a long time.

Tim came to the rescue and dived overboard into the dark cold waters with a knife clenched between his teeth. Several different underwater torches gave up before Tim did. He dived and dived on the prop, cutting away the net strand by strand. Eventually, after 45 minutes of extraordinary effort the prop was free. We hauled Tim aboard and rewarded him with a Sea Rug, a hot shower, hot chocolate and time in the bunk. Meanwhile we had cleared the net but our halyard was still attached. For a short while we had a sea anchor dragging out the back until we spiked it clear. We had been dead in the water for 1 ˝ hours.

It cost us 20 precious miles.

Other troubles have been in the spinnaker peel department. We have new socks on our kites. They are a great idea in theory as you don’t need to wool the spinnakers each time, but in reality they are difficult to deploy due to over-enthusiastic Velcro or twisted zips. Also, it makes packing a spinnaker a three-person job that takes half an hour and about as fun as using the head in a rough sea state.

This afternoon we passed two boats. A red boat and a blue boat, seemingly in a match race. Both were 40-footers that started the race a few days before us. We flew past them at 15 knots of boatspeed about 100 m away. And for good measure we peeled from the Code 0 to the A3 at the same time and it came off perfectly. Obviously we need an audience in order to lift our performance.

Tonight we are trucking along. Praying to the debris gods to spare us and praying to the wind gods to sustain us.

07-16-2014, 11:23 AM
Cruising is just like racing, only different. Being prepared for the unexpected gains net benefits. But sometimes not.

Today WILDFLOWER is safely moored at Egmont's Secret Cove, home of the Skookumchuck (salt water) Rapids. Skookumchuck, it's whirlpools and standing waves, at full cry is reportedly a fearsome thing. We shall see today, hiking three miles to the overlook. We WILL NOT transit the rapids at slack tide, a delicacy of exceptional timing, and a solid engine. Just here for the show.

And if you wonder what can happen at Skookumchuck if the timing is bad, check out the tug capsizing, and the rescue of its crew by kayak. Holy Guacamole!

07-16-2014, 11:38 AM
Being trapped by a discarded plastic fish net in mid-Pacific is one thing. Not fun.

Last night (these things only happen at night) I awoke at 2 pm. It was eerily silent: not a wave, hum, squeek, wind rustle. Just silence.

I got up to check around, then returned to the bunk and began to doze. Then I was brought to full alert by a track meet on deck.

It was a family of river otters, checking us out, on parade around the side decks. I can only assume they eventually hoped to get below.

I rapped loudly on the cabin ceiling to let the otters know we were full up. I could hear them scrambling to get off the "ghost ship."

It was only in the morning I realized the potential error of scaring off the river otters. Yesterday I had rigged mosquito netting over the foredeck hatches. For cabin ventilation, the hatches were open.

Had an otter mistaken the netting for firm footing, he would likely have fallen into the cabin, onto the bunk, probably wrapped up in netting like SCARLETT RUNNER's keel.

The vision of a pissed otter below in WILDFLOWER, with no sure avenue of escape, is not one I want to think about.

07-17-2014, 02:46 PM
Sechelt Rapids at Skookumchuck Narrows is an amazing place. It is a 5 mile round trip hike through a rain forest, past a beautiful lake, to the overlook at North Point.

Yesterday, the ebb tide rapids were extra large, running at 17 knots, second fastest tidal rapids in the World.

Whirlpools were numerous and constant. Some as big as a baseball diamond, which would devour large logs. Smaller whirlpools were like miniature inverted water tornados, about a foot across and five feet deep.

At max ebb a giant figure 8 whirlpool appeared. One half was circling clockwise, its adjoining mate was going counterclockwise.

About 40 spectators and two German Shepherds watched from the cliff.

If you come to British Columbia, try not to miss this place.

WILDFLOWER is currently in Maderia Park, Pender Harbour, while we wait out 25 knot northwesterlies blowing outside in the Malaspina Straits. Next stop, probably tomorrow when the breeze is forecast to back SE, is Sturt Bay at the north tip of Texada Island, 22 miles away. The heatwave is over. It was 85 degrees at Princess Louisa Inlet, with the water temp at 75 degrees, good for cooling off.

07-30-2014, 08:02 PM
WILDFLOWER anchored at Prideaux Haven, Desolation Sound, BC. Water temp 77 degrees, good for 50 degrees N latitude.

Nearby is the 135 foot sloop DESTINATION. The top of our mast, at 31 feet, doesn't come to DESTINATION's set of lower spreaders, where two giant satellite domes, and two open array radars are housed. http://www.duboisyachts.com/charter/yacht-charter/destination/

Five sets of spreaders doesn't get you to the top of DESTINATION's mast. Up there is a red light, warning off aircraft at night.

We have little technology in common except for one thing. At both DESTINATION's mast head, and WILDFLOWER's masthead is a Windex wind direction indicator.

These marvelously simple, sensitive, and inexpensive pieces of equipment were co-designed 50 years ago by good sailing friend Lars Bergstrom. At the time, the design criteria was the Windex should be “as sensitive in light air as cigarette smoke”. The solution was a plastic wind vane with low weight and a large fin mounted on a Sapphire jewel bearing like a compass needle.

I first met Lars in the early 70's sailing IMPROBABLE in the SORC in Florida. His inventive mind was matched by his enthusiasm and good nature. Lars later came to play a significant role in the construction design of the legendary IMP.

We've come full circle in 50 years. Windex's mounted 31 feet up on WILDFLOWER's Hobie 18 mast, and 160 feet aloft atop DESTINATION's carbon fiber mast.

07-31-2014, 12:20 AM
Wow. Only 77,000 Euros per week to charter? That's one wicked looking yacht.

I think we use Windexes on the Cal 20s at the club, too. Nice to know we're kinda rubbing with the same shoulders.

08-05-2014, 12:14 PM
Great news to hear the Cal-20 DURA MATER is enjoying a new life at CYC!

On another, "new life", chance encounter, a group of us walking the docks at Gorge Harbor, Cortez Island, BC, caught sight of the magnificent 135' motor yacht (aka "ship") ACANIA. Her welcoming owner, Dave Olsen, invited us aboard for a tour.

ACANIA was one of two identical ships built for Al Capone in 1929-30, thus the "AC" in her name. The mobster kept one in Miami, the other in Chicago, and would alternate residency to confuse the Feds hot on his trail.

Since 2008, in Alameda, Dave Olsen has made a remarkable restoration on ACANIA, holding as much as possible to her original layout, including the secret bar, and hidden and disguised compartments and lockers.


Olsen's passion for his vessel is obvious. The restoration is highlighted inside and out by 16 coats of Epifanes varnish, with four new coats applied every three months.

ACANIA is relatively narrow for her length, and with her beautiful canoe stern, leaves almost zero wake. Can't say that about all the Bayliners, Nordic Tugs, and Ocean Alexanders plowing these waters.

ACANIA is leaving British Columbia next week for her homeport of Oakland, CA. If you ever have a chance, check out this piece of maritime history.

08-05-2014, 12:43 PM
On the other scale from ACANIA is Josh's "dragonboat" trimaran he built from bits and pieces of driftwood.

Among 22 boats attending the Read Island Community Picnic, the dragon tri got the most use by far, crewed by kids who would jump off into the shallow warm waters and then swim back aboard this unusual water toy. Good job, Josh!

08-11-2014, 04:31 PM
The Around the State Race was once one of the World's premier and toughest middle distance ocean races, on par with the Fastnet, Sydney-Hobart, and Bermuda Races. 775 miles, starting and finishing off Diamond Head, leaving all eight Hawaiian Islands to port.

The Around the State was first held in 1972. Later, in 1978, it was incorporated into the Pan Am Clipper Cup. Then in 1986 it became part of the Kenwood Cup, with IOR race boats from 15 countries contesting. It was last held in 1988.

Memories of the Around the State Race abound, including CHECKMATE dismasting off South Point, and finishing as a jury rigged schooner, with two spinnaker poles as masts.

In 1982, with a mighty crash, we were dismasted on WINDWARD PASSAGE just upwind of NIIHAU when a spreader failed on her 110' mast.

In 1984 we saw the New Zealand EXADOR rolled twice, dismasted, and the majority of her crew swept overboard by breaking waves off South Point. The boat righted, the motor started, and the remaining crew were able to retrieve their shipmates in dangerous waters indeed.

South Point, off the Big Island of Hawaii's Ka'u Coast, was the beginning of a 60 mile beat up to Cape Kumakahi. There was less south flowing current on the beach. But in the dark, with active lava flows, clouds of sulphur and steam, and a coast line that was changing on an active basis, all navigation was by guess, golly, and tearing eyeballs.

The Around the State Race is no more. One of the best memories was the Perseid Meteor Shower. The Perseids were our night time friends on the 200 mile weather leg from Niihau to South Point. The sky was so dark out there you could have reached out and grabbed a meteor as they zipped across the sky.

The Perseids, cosmic dust from the trail of Comet Swift Tuttle, have returned again this week. Despite the light from the "Super Moon," the Perseid are up there, marking their ephemeral tracks across the night sky

08-17-2014, 05:44 PM
WILDFLOWER's last harbor in British Columbia this summer was the same as the first: Pastoral and landlocked Annette Cove on Prevost Island (48-49.5 N x 123-23.2 W). At low tide, we anchored in 4' of water, sand and mud. The only sounds were occasional cows lowing in the meadow at the head of the inlet mixed with the honking of a love lorn goose.

Entering back into U.S. waters near Friday Harbor we had a close encounter with the San Juan County Sheriff. He was driving an aluminum 30' catamaran at a high rate of speed and aimed directly at us. At the last moment we altered sharply to starboard, and the sheriff held course, passing about a length away and giving us a dose of 3' wake for good measure. Welcome to the USA?

The customs inspector at Friday Harbor treated us to a saner government encounter, inquiring about Cuban cigars. Really? Coming up empty on that account, the only other issue for WILDFLOWER seemed to be the legality of the two remaining zucchinis.

Later in the afternoon we spied the Sheriff's catamaran returning to the Friday Harbor fuel dock. After some debate as to the wisdom of another law enforcement encounter, we walked down to the fuel dock for a word with the Sheriff.

Sheriff "Herb" was most friendly and apologetic for the close encounter, which he remembered. He explained he was on patrol (at his usual speed of 30 knots) and had to cut close to WILDFLOWER as there was another powerboat coming at him on the outside.

I think I prefer discussing the potential threat of zucchinis with Customs than reckless driving with the Sheriff.

08-19-2014, 12:01 PM
Hi Skip - I have enjoyed following your cruise. I cruised that region on several occasions with my brother who keeps his boat in Birch Bay. Unfortunately, I had to turn down his offer to cruise this summer. See you in Santa Cruz. - Robert

08-19-2014, 01:22 PM
Marinas in the Pacific NW invent all sorts of attractions for yachties, especially those with big powerboats and wallets to match.

Roche Harbor Marina leads the class with its dog shows, mobile holding tank pump out boats, and the carillon of bells at the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Voyage, (the only privately owned Catholic chapel in the United States,)which rings out Broadway tunes.

At sunset comes Roche Harbor's famous sunset salute to lowering of colors, complete with cannon fire and March from the Bridge Over The River Kwai on the loud speakers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuVYS4uw0as

Friday Harbor has its own built in attraction, the beloved one-eyed harbor seal Pop eye who has been hanging out at the floating Fish Market, 10-5, for 20 years. There are statues of Popeye around town, and she is featured on Friday Harbor's website. For $5 you can buy a bag a herring and feed Popeye, and people come from Iowa and Texas to do so. http://threesheetsnw.com/blog/2010/09/friday-harbors-unlikely-local-celebrity-a-harbor-seal-named-popeye/

Cap Sante Marina at Anacortes was late to the game, but quickly catching up, offering free bicycles, free delivery from Safeway, a giant chess set on the sidewalk, floating party docks available for rental, and an evening choir of Marina employee youth attempting to harmonize.

Dale, the Cap Sante Harbor Master, has one upped Roche Harbor. Boat visitors to Cap Sante are given coupon books to local eateries. To top it off, you get a cellophane fortune telling fish. If it curls in your hand, good luck will follow. Good for 4 year olds and up. http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/fortune-telling-fish

Berkeley, are you listening?

08-24-2014, 10:48 AM
After dinner walks at Cap Sante Marina, Anacortes, WA, rarely fail to bring some surprise or treat.

Last evening I ran into Robin Jeffers from Monterey. Robin is a pro sailor and delivery skipper par excellence who I've known for many years. We spent a few minutes catching up about his recent Pac Cup and return delivery. Robin and his partner are in Anacortes building a new home across the channel on Guemes Island.

Looking for noteworthy boats on evening dock walks takes one into the land of Nordic Tugs, generic Catalinas, and Bayliners. But at sunset on this particular beautiful evening I found two beauties, on the same dock yet.

To port was an H-12, probably the prettiest 16 footer ever designed.
The H-12 was designed by Nathaniel G. Herreshoff 100 years ago. Few could have foretold the unique popularity and longevity of this design. The H-12 is still considered to be one of the finest, if not the finest, small sailing yacht designs ever created, perfect for all ages in the family, not just the kids.

To starboard of the H-12 was the Bermuda 40 yawl FREYA. Designed in 1970, and built by Hinckley, the B-40 is probably Bill Tripp Sr.'s finest effort. FREYA is drop dead beautiful, with varnish gleaming in the fading light.

As yacht designer Dick Carter once said, "The only question is do you hear the violins play when you look at the boat."

Call me old school, but I hear the entire string section every time I look at a Bermuda 40 yawl.

H Spruit
08-25-2014, 10:58 AM
I loved the reference to the violins playing while admiring a Bermuda Yawl, and it made me think I here Kazoos and Banjoes when admiring the JAR CAT type boats.
Keep Smiling,
H Spruit

08-25-2014, 12:57 PM
On a busman's holiday, we boarded Ev and Gary Adams 32' SLO POKE tug for a 7 mile voyage north from Anacortes to one of the loveliest, least known, and little visited islands in the San Juans.

Vendovi, (48-37 N x 122-37 W) is only about a mile in circumference, but home to pristine forests, pocket beaches, hiking trails, and no permanent residents except for part time caretakers Sean and Heather of the Westsail 32 OM SHANTI.

Vendovi was acquired by the San Juan Preservation Trust in 2010 and can now be visited during daylight hours, May through September. http://threesheetsnw.com/blog/2013/05/vendovi-island-the-newest-gem-of-the-salish-sea/

We tied up SLO POKE to the 80' foot guest dock, and found we were the only visitors. The dock is well protected by a breakwater, and has 7' at low tide. But it is unlikely vessels bigger than about 40 feet would want to enter the miniature harbor.

We had a easy hike to Sunrise Beach, then onto Paintbrush Point, with a fine view of the Cascades, Guemes, and Fidalgo Islands. Blackberries were ripe for picking, and we discovered an abandoned saw mill that probably never met OSHA standards.

At 1600 we headed SLO POKE back to Anacortes at her stately 6 knots. Near SE Point on Guemes we were overtaken from astern by the 40' red water taxi SIOUX ARROW. SIOUX ARROW, at an estimated 20 knots, cut between SLO POKE and the nearby shore, passing SLO POKE less than a length off the starboard side, flooding our decks with her 4' wake, and rolling us heavily. Luckily no one was thrown aboard SLO POKE as we held on tightly.

If I were SIOUX ARROW's captain, and so cavalierly violated navigational Rules of the Road, safety, and common sense, all to gain a few lengths in tight quarters instead of staying well off the port hand, I might expect a letter of concern, with accompanying diagram, to arrive at his company office from Capt. Gary and myself.

08-27-2014, 11:11 AM
In response to the issue with Sioux Arrow... Yews want me ta call ma Uncle Vinney from Chicago? He'll fix thaut problem real cheap... I mean quick... well actually both.

08-27-2014, 06:29 PM
It used to be, a massive, once-in-a-decade, South swell would show up in S.Cal to fire off the Dirty Old Wedge with 30 footers, and other breaks, for an epic 24 hour surf orgy. https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1447995355477661&set=vb.100008016307210&type=2&theater

With ex-Category 5 Hurricane Marie west of Baja sending her greetings, Marie's swell rose up and delivered.

Late yesterday afternoon, Laird Hamilton showed up at Malibu, then high-lined a beauty for nearly a quarter mile before shooting through the Malibu Pier. Possibly, he didn’t notice the pier.

After his wave, Laird ascended back to the galactic realm of infinity to resume his role as Silver Surfer.


08-27-2014, 10:20 PM

aaaaahhhhhh... Thanks, Skip. I would have missed that without you.

08-28-2014, 09:44 AM
I didn't think the Work Boat Races at Anacortes could get more chaotic than last year. (Page 53, Post 528) But they could, and did.

The Work Boat Races were slow motion maritime drama. The lead boat, ANDY SEA, a 60' purse seiner, took the first turn tight, and in the 3 knot flood tide, nearly laid her top hamper in the water. I could see most of her bottom, and crew hanging on for dear life. Luckily she came slowly upright. But the near capsize allowed the second place, all black, WHITEY W to seize the lead. It was WHITEY's race to lose, and she did so, missing the second mark, and ramming the spectator dock, sending dressed like pirates scattering in all directions.

WHITEY's miscalculation allowed the third place workboat, the 55 foot tug QUAIL, to assume the lead. WHITEY W backed off the stove-in wharf, and her skipper apparently disregarded her engine's redline in order to catch up. WHITEY was making 10 knots as she drew abeam of QUAIL, and the race was on.

Unfortunately, at "mast abeam," WHITEY's engine blew in cloud of steam and smoke. QUAIL's captain, seeing an apportunity for profit, turned around and took the disabled WHITEY in tow.

It was the heavy lift work barge MERIDIAN's turn to assume first place. She had a brass band playing on the foredeck. But MERIDIAN's rectangular hull shape and blunt bow could not stem the strong tide, and she pretty much was motoring in place. More alarming, MERIDIAN's bow was dipping to spectator's wakes, and her deck was periodically flooding, submerging the band's shoes and shorting their amp. Shades of TITANIC.

Approaching MERIDIAN on a reciprocal course was the Guemes Ferry, chock-a-block with gussied up wedding passengers. Nobody seemed to know who was going where.

ANDY SEA was now back on her feet, and charging fast. Then I noticed a sailboat in the middle of the Workboat Race Course. A sailing workboat? Nope, it was the SC-27 SOLITAIRE, winner of the first (1978) Single Handed Transpac, out for a day sail.

Who won the Anacortes Workboat Races? Hard to say, as we were spectating on the deck of the Guemes General Store, across the channel, enjoying lunch, and watching SOLITAIRE short tack the beach, playing back eddies. Shades of sailing along the Marin Shore, at Pt. Bonita,on a strong flood.

08-28-2014, 11:07 AM
I looked for the results on Jibeset but alas, no love there for the Anacortes Workboat races.

Thanks for the posts Sled - I'm chained to my desk with 9/15 due date stuff. At least I get my boat back tomorrow. BTW they sure turn those Matson ships around quickly. Rags-the-Lesser arrived aboard the MOKIHANA last night about 1830 and the ship was sailing back out the Gate early this morning. I hope they remembered to offload my boat.

08-28-2014, 02:29 PM
Here in Port Townsend you don't have to go very far for a delicious meal of sailing history. Just tied up alongside WILDFLOWER is the Campari green 6 meter SAGA, designed and built by Bjarne Aas in Fredrikstad, Norway in 1936, and probably the prettiest and one of the fastest 6 meters ever built.

SAGA has SF Bay connections, and was owned and raced by Myron Spaulding 1939-1940. She is the progenitor of the IOD Class, and the Shields Class, on which I taught sailing for many years.

Overhangs. If you don't like overhangs, best avoid the pictures of SAGA.

For more 6 meters, here's a nest of them: http://www.6mrnorthamerica.com/pugetsound.html

On the roll call above, many SF Bay sailors will remember USA 100, St.FRANCIS V, designed by Gary Mull and built for St Francis Yacht Club. No expense was spared to create the perfect boat for Tom Blackaller to win the first International 6 Metre World Cup in 1973 in Seattle. http://www.6mrnorthamerica.com/

08-29-2014, 01:01 PM
The 6 Meter SAGA left Port Townsend early this morning, outbound for the Victoria Wooden Boat Festival, across the Straits of Juan de Fuca. They've got a 2 horse power Honda outboard hanging off that lovely transom, and it pushes them right along. That is how easy a 35 foot LOA, 9,000 pound, 6 meter slips through the water.

6 Meters are pretty much dead opposite in design to our 800 pound cat WILDFLOWER. 6 meters are designed to the old International Rule. They are narrow, heavy, over canvased, point high and love to go to windward And they dig a hole in the water downwind at any speed over seven knots.

6 Meters are just plain lovely to look at. But you won't see many 6 Meters sailing on San Francisco Bay. They are "lead mines," "submarines," and go through waves, not over. A 6 Meter on San Francisco Bay in a summer time afternoon breeze would likely fill, and sail under.

That three story large building in the background of the photo of SAGA is the Northwest Maritime Center, sponsor of the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. They take sailing, and wooden boat building seriously in these parts.

08-30-2014, 09:00 AM
. . . I hope they remembered to offload my boat.

Indeed they did - there in a row at Matson were ARCHIMEDES, LIBRA, JACK, RAGS, LIL' ANGEL, ELISE and BANDICOOT, looking like they'd been sharing Hawaii stories and sipping leftover Mai Tais.

Man it's great to have my boat back after a month. Jay Butler carefully hauled her to Berkeley Marina and Cree and his great team at BMC stepped her mast and got her back in the water in short order. Now the clean-up begins . . .

08-30-2014, 04:57 PM
Jay Butler carefully hauled her to Berkeley Marina and Cree and his great team at BMC stepped her mast and got her back in the water in short order. Now the clean-up begins . . .

Hauled to a marine yard, stepped and put into the water all in the same day? On a Friday before Labor Day? That's what comes of working with an insider.

08-30-2014, 06:02 PM
The reference to "Saga" brings up Briggs Swift (always liked that middle name) Cunningham's "Lulu" (named for his Standard Oil-connected first wife Lucy Bedford) which is also up in the NW. My initial love affair with Cunningham centered on his race cars, however. As a young kid I fancied racing cars over boats since I grew up far away from sailing water. I followed Cunningham's career and car designs in magazines and newsreels, drawing countless pictures and carving blocks of balsa into replicas - including one I bored a hole in the aft end (of the car) and inserted a CO2 fizz cartridge which, when punctured by a nail driven in, scooted down the street for 50 yards or so, usually flipping over in a Grand Prix style accident. I don't know how many miniature Grand Prix drivers, with their little round white helmets sticking up out of the cockpit I "killed" that way. Little did I know I'd be adjusting my "Cunningham" numerous time during each race when I'd given up four wheels for a hull. "Lulu" was built by Nevins in NY and a nephew, Bert Nevins, peddled college textbooks in N. California, so we had ample opportunities to sit around and talk sailing after the selling was ended. He was old enough to remember "Lulu's" launch and even had a chance to do a shakedown sail with Cunningham.

08-30-2014, 07:41 PM
ELAINE: Tnx for the recall of Briggs S. Cunningham and his 6 meter LULU. Here are some more pics of LULU. Note the Herreshoff green bottom, reputed to be the fastest color for bottom paint back in the day. http://www.6mrnorthamerica.com/lulu.html

Briggs Cunningham lived two doors up from my grandparents on Harbor Island in Newport Beach. His faux stern wheeler LAURA, named after his wife of 40 years, was side tied at the dock, and blocked my grandparent's sunset. Comments were rarely favorable at the dinner table.

Cunningham was skipper of the 12 meter COLUMBIA in 1958. She underwent rigorous trials against WEATHERLY, EASTERNER, and the sentimental favorite, VIM. Then later in the summer of '58, COLUMBIA successfully defended the America's Cup against the hapless Brits on SCEPTRE. Briggs Cunningham was a very good sailor, and we remember him each time we pull on our "Cunningham" to adjust the luff tension of the main.

08-30-2014, 07:58 PM
Outside WILDFLOWER's bedroom window here at Port Townsend lies the junction of Admiralty Inlet and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. It is a choke point for vessel traffic as big ships and small make their turns into the appropriate north and south bound traffic lanes.

In the evenings, the Alaska bound cruise ships come by. After dark, they are lit up like cities. Which they are. Though not my cup of tea, cruise ships are notable. The CELEBRITY SOLSTICE, at 1041 feet, is passing now. "Huge" would be an understatement. 3,000 passengers, and 1,500 crew is a big number.

CELEBRITY SOLSTICE advertises her upper most deck is a well manicured lawn (real grass) and you can cruise to Alaska and "enjoy casual outdoor activities in a decidedly Country Club atmosphere, and let the grass between your toes take you places no cruise has gone."

Say what?

08-30-2014, 09:41 PM
I've heard of grass taking you places but it was a different kind of grass.

Jackie - no insider treatment that I know of - just great communication among the team and a long day of labor for me. Rags is still at BMC so swing on by.

08-30-2014, 10:36 PM
This afternoon I visited the NW Maritime Center's Bridge Simulator, and got to "drive" some big ships, using visual, radar, and chart plotter, as well as engine and rudder controls.

First up was skippering a 100' Coast Guard Cutter along the Seattle waterfront. The Simulator likes to introduce right-of-way situations with oncoming traffic. I got the CG Cutter safely down to the Duwamish waterway, where the containerships, including Matson, are berthed. Then appeared, directly ahead, a man in the water apparently in trouble. Back port engine, full ahead starboard. We swung around. But I lost sight of the man in the water. And I couldn't find any means on the simulator to launch a RIB with a recovery crew.

OK, so after that practice the instructor plugged in a containership entering San Francisco Bay in Force 8 wind and cross sea. The ship was rolling heavily, and I was feeling woozy as I spun the helm, attempting to stay in the inbound traffic lane without ramming the South Tower of the Golden Gate.

I got the ship in the Bay OK, and we cruised down the City Front at 11 knots SOG, headed towards Oakland. I could even see Blackaller Buoy on the Simulator screen outside the "starboard window."

As we passed the Embarcadero, I waved at my sister on the 26th floor of #3 Embarcadero.

We steamed under the Bay Bridge and I altered to port to approach the Alameda Estuary Channel. But I under corrected the helm, and the R "2A" buoy appeared directly ahead, not off to starboard where it should have been.

As the buoy scraped down the starboard side of the ship I said to the instructor, "there's gonna be some damage to that buoy, who pays?" He just grinned.

Somehow we didn't run aground, as the ship was right on the edge of the channel. Sweat was running on my brow. As we pulled abeam the Oakland Terminals I needed a break. Driving this simulator was a heck of a lot more difficult than steering Bob J's RAGTIME with it's old rudder.

08-31-2014, 09:32 AM
You'll have to try the new one.

Your photos reveal the control problem: no tiller!

09-01-2014, 11:56 AM
This afternoon I visited the NW Maritime Center's Bridge Simulator, and got to "drive" some big ships, using visual, radar, and chart plotter, as well as engine and rudder controls.

First up was skippering a 100' Coast Guard Cutter along the Seattle waterfront. The Simulator likes to introduce right-of-way situations with oncoming traffic. I got the CG Cutter safely down to the Duwamish waterway, where the containerships, including Matson, are berthed. Then appeared, directly ahead, a man in the water apparently in trouble. Back port engine, full ahead starboard. We swung around. But I lost sight of the man in the water. And I couldn't find any means on the simulator to launch a RIB with a recovery crew.

OK, so after that practice the instructor plugged in a containership entering San Francisco Bay in Force 8 wind and cross sea. The ship was rolling heavily, and I was feeling woozy as I spun the helm, attempting to stay in the inbound traffic lane without ramming the South Tower of the Golden Gate.

I got the ship in the Bay OK, and we cruised down the City Front at 11 knots SOG, headed towards Oakland. I could even see Blackaller Buoy on the Simulator screen outside the "starboard window."

As we passed the Embarcadero, I waved at my sister on the 26th floor of #3 Embarcadero.

We steamed under the Bay Bridge and I altered to port to approach the Alameda Estuary Channel. But I under corrected the helm, and the R "2A" buoy appeared directly ahead, not off to starboard where it should have been.

As the buoy scraped down the starboard side of the ship I said to the instructor, "there's gonna be some damage to that buoy, who pays?" He just grinned.

Somehow we didn't run aground, as the ship was right on the edge of the channel. Sweat was running on my brow. As we pulled abeam the Oakland Terminals I needed a break. Driving this simulator was a heck of a lot more difficult than steering Bob J's RAGTIME with it's old rudder.

THAT sounds like the coolest thing!

09-01-2014, 01:02 PM
Skip, you look like a twelve year old with a new video game.

09-01-2014, 03:08 PM
There's a family of (river) otters living under the dock here at Pt. Hudson Marina. They appear at sunset to tumble and slide on the dock, squeaking enthusiastically. Good entertainment. Mt Rainer, distance 99 miles southeast, shows alpenglow on its snow capped slopes.

"Turn left into the gate with the red catamaran in the driveway." I rode my bike yesterday to visit boat building friend Russell Brown at his PT Watercraft Shop.
Russell is an all around good guy, always ready to share his extensive knowledge and experience of composite construction, glue, rigging, and proas. Especially proas. Russell's JZERRO is probably the fastest boat in the Pacific NW. It tacks by reversing the bow for stern.


Starship to Oceania, by Steve Callahan, tells the story of JZERRO sailing to the South Pacific, and is worth a read. http://www.stevencallahan.net/images/publications/proa-oceania.pdf

Santa Cruz boatbuilders, in the era of ultralights, mostly worked out of abandoned chickencoops. Russell's shop in Port Townsend continues that tradition. At PT Watercraft Russell assembles beautiful nesting dinghy kits, as well as a "Grasshopper." I could try and describe a "Grasshopper." (photo below) But you'd have to see it to believe this "Pie in the Sky" innovation Russell and Ashlyn have cruised thousands of miles in.

09-03-2014, 12:33 PM
Buzz around the waterfront here at Port Townsend is the recently announced, winner take all, $10,000 prize, "Race to Alaska" being launched 8 a.m. June 4, 2015, by its sponsor, the Northwest Maritime Center.

"It's like the Iditarod, on a boat,. with a chance of drowning."


Open to any person or crew to sail, row, or paddle 750 miles from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, AK, you may not carry any type of motor, not even if it is "sealed."

This is no WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. Likely a much more difficult challenge navigationally, and weather wise. If you bivy on shore along the way, be aware this is grizzly country.

Russell Brown and I agree sailing would likely be the best bet to win, taking the "outside" route. But before you dream of entering your Moore 24, Express 27, SC-27, O-30, or J-92, consider there are tidal "gates," narrow passages, and sections of light air where rowing or paddling would be of benefit.

I have a 14' oar I can loan you.

Second place in the "R2AK" wins a set of steak knives.

09-03-2014, 01:48 PM
Since you tossed "J-92" in there . . . I could use a set of steak knives but my boat has a motor.

Seymour Narrows is a check point so that requires an "inside" route right?

I'd like to go the other way - clear into Port Hardy from a SHTP return and go down the back side of Vancouver Island. When I start seeing too many other boats I'll fetch the trailer and go home.

H Spruit
09-04-2014, 01:50 PM
I can understand why sailors want to race to tropical destinations like Mexico, HAWAII, Tahiti.
I can almost see the attraction of the Everglades challenge.
I hold no effection for the Texas 200.
But a Race to Alaska......$10,000 is not enough money.
I would name it the IDIOT arod.
Sorry about that,

09-04-2014, 11:14 PM
Regarding the picture of you in the simulator.... Flash to Webster's "Kid in a candy store smile" So glad you kids are having such a great time!!!

09-05-2014, 12:40 AM
Skip, We wish we were there. It's a special place with a special group. Your simulator pics remind me to attach a photo of Sue at the helm of the 5000 HP twin azimuthing drive tractor tug Delta Deanna.

P.S. Please say hello to L&L P. for me.

09-09-2014, 09:44 PM
i just returned from the Port Townsend Wooden boat festival.. that kind of smile was all over my face while there. Hard not to look at all those beautiful wooden vessels without a big smile... better than candy any day. Thanks for the encouragement to get there, Skip.

09-10-2014, 04:30 PM
One could be excused feeling slightly giddy and overwhelmed at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival: 1.5 miles of wooden boats, varnish and paint gleaming, and chock-a-block with fascinating history.

In addition, dozens of seminars and presentations on every wood boat subject imaginable: one morning I attended a presentation on Composting Toilets, two short documentaries on river adventures in Iraq, and an interesting lecture by Halsey Herreshoff on the history of his famous family.

At the top of our dock ramp was the Wee Nip Irish Saloon, a pub on wheels that has been featured in several movies. A little further over was the EdenSaw Challenge: 8 entries building small craft of all designs in the allotted 8'x10" space in 48 hours or less.

In my opinion the most impressive boat, errrr, "ship," was the 1929 converted Seiner MERRY CHASE. She had recently undergone a two year gut and restoration. With her lifting gear, her owners could have easily picked up WILDFLOWER and set her on MERRY CHASE's aft deck. http://www.hbeck.net/pics/2013/1306/bp/130607_0159.jpg

The strangest boat was a 70 foot, flat bottom French Canal River Barge that came apart into four sections, and could theoretically be shipped all over the world in a 20 foot container. It (I hesitate to say "she") looks something like Bill Lee's MERLIN crossed with a bad dream... photos below.

Warm, clear weather and full moon highlighted this year's PTWBF. If you are thinking of attending next year, Sept. 10-13, 2015, be advised hotels in the Port Townsend area sell out well in advance.

WILDFLOWER is back in our driveway in Capitola now, having just completed our drive south from Washington State in 18 hours. Any SSS members, or others, in the neighborhood, please feel free to stop by.

09-13-2014, 01:30 PM
For reasons I've never completely understood, but which has been confirmed by scientific testing, dogs really do look like their owners approximately 80% of the time. The hair of a poodle, the jowls of a bulldog, the bug eyes of a pug, the wrinkles of a Shar-Pei, the profile of a collie often can be matched with the physical characteristics of the owner at the other end of the leash.

After many years of observation, I think this is also true of boat owners and their vessels. Although it would be fun, I've not yet attempted to photo document this phenomena. Indeed, it might cause hard feelings. For who wants to be known for their beamy, slow, ill maintained, or accident prone boat?

One of the most lovely vessels at the recent Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival was the 100 year old, 133' schooner ADVENTURESS. ADVENTURESS, once a SF Bay Pilot Boat stationed out at the Lightbucket, now serves as a training ship for young sailors and cruises Puget Sound more than 200 days/year.

Many was the day we watched in awe as ADVENTURESS's main and 50' gaff, totaling well over a ton in weight, was manually raised over 100 feet up her mainmast. "Two, Six, Heave!" was the bosun's cry to the dozens of volunteers pulling on the throat and peak halyards.

Why was the command "Two, Six?" I will leave that to other SSS historians to explain. What I can tell you is ADVENTURESS, launched in 1913, recently figured in a rum-running, steamy affair, real life, 100 year mystery that culminated at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival with the return of her long lost, beautiful bronze ship's bell.

Tears were shed Saturday night, when ADVENTURESS's missing bell, having been remounted in its rightful position aft of the foremast, was once again rung for all to hear. "Two, Six," "Heave!"


09-19-2014, 10:35 PM
After three months afloat comfortably living on 3 gallons or less fresh water per day, including semi- extravagant solar showers, I've returned to a world of worry, and brown lawns. It seems brown is the new green. With the drought and local water rationing, people are stressed. My neighbor leaned over the fence, saw me watering my thirsty plants, and scolded "the water police will be coming soon."

Soquel Creek Water District has set my ration at 85 gallons/day. I find this alotment a bit on the high side. But my objection flies in the face of complaints from the local populace that under such restrictions, they will soon whither away.

The Water District suggests "Navy showers," "low flow shower heads and toilets." Maybe install a "drip irrigation system." I contacted the Water District and suggested they promote the selective flush: "If It's Yellow, Let It Mellow".., something I think we invented in college and used to be on billboards. After all, most of California is a desert, and droughts are normal.

I heard back from Mr. Duncan, the Conservation and Customer Service Field Manager. My suggestion, which would save the average family about 8,760 gallons/year, was "too controversial," said Mr. Duncan.

Controversial? What I find controversial is using 2 gallons of drinkable water to flush away a cup of sterile pee, so that can be "purified" miles away at a sewage treatment plant, then piped into Monterey Bay.

Gordie sails a yellow boat. I think Steve's SHTP winner, FROLIC, is yellow also. Both are pretty to look at. (And fast.) Mr. Duncan's thirsty clientele just doesn't want to see yellow in their toilet bowls.

H Spruit
09-20-2014, 07:35 AM
I have sailed across oceans using no more than a gallon of fresh water a day per crew!
We here at Frog Hale have adopted the yellow is Mello philosophy, and our yard is brown. But Santa Cruz, Capitola and Soquel,governments continue to give building permits to residential, commercial, and hotel developers, while telling us to conserve, and raising our rates. Go Figure?!

09-20-2014, 11:04 AM
Tide continues to fall at South Shore Lake Tahoe. E27 #0, DIANNE, has moved to mooring at Camp Richardson before being trapped in the shallows. Late summer sailing is excellent with good wind and flat water.

It is with heavy heart that Fannette Isle Race for this year is cancelled.

With both channels barely passable by only the most shallow of draft, many boats out for the season, a rocky shoal entrance to Emerald Bay only two boats expressed interest in this event.

For those who would still sail Sunday afternoon: be at Club Mark at 2:30 and we can have a short rally sail and meet afterward at Lake Tahoe Pizza.

09-20-2014, 12:24 PM
Sorry to hear Fannette Island Race is canceled. This freshwater tour has been the highlite of my end of summer sailing for many years. Nothing beats short tacking into Emerald Bay and its clear waters, rounding an antique stone tea house on Fannette Island, then spinnakering out the Bay with semi-vertical 20 knot puffs sending the fleet skittering on their sides as they try to negotiate the narrow entrance.

Locally here in Santa Cruz, racing has deteriorated somewhat, with amateur built, cardboard boats, coming to the line. These shoal draft, ULDB's, built in the allotted one hour before the start, use only cardboard, duct tape, and a box cutter knife. They are recyclable.


and time lapse coverage of the regatta is here:


09-21-2014, 05:17 PM
Yesterday on the Alameda Estuary two famous One Design sloops, designs with a 55 year age difference, passed each other, one outbound into a fresh breeze. The other inbound for lunch. Nobody particularly noticed except SSS supporter Rich Baker, who took below pics.

Tacking outbound was the Yankee One Design LISBETH, 30.5' LOA, 24' LWL, narrow at 6.5' beam, SA of 312 square feet, and displacing 4,775 pounds. She was designed in 1937 by Starling Burgess, and six were built on San Francisco by Stone Boat Works in Alameda.

Inbound was our own BobJ on RAGTIME! RAGS, designed by Rod Johnstone, is the same length as LISBETH, has 2' more waterline, 3.5 feet more beam, and considerably more draft. Interestingly, RAGTIME is almost 1,000 pounds heavier, and much more working SA at 505 square feet.

Both boats are fun to sail. And fast. And I am going to go out on a limb, and say LISBETH from 1937 is as fast as RAGTIME! upwind. RAGTIME is not slow. It is just the Yankees were and remain slippery upwind, leaving no discernable wake. Nice, Mr. Starling Burgess.

It was a momentary passing in time, two wonderful boats from different generations, giving pause to reflect on progress in yacht design, and what makes a boat fast, and pretty.

The Yankee is one of the prettiest designs going, on par with the L.Francis Herreshoff Rocinante yawl and the Stuart Knockabout. I've raced against Yankee #21 SCIROCCO at Port Townsend and she sails like a witch, regularly beating the Etchells and Thunderbirds boat for boat.

Now they've put a bowsprit on SCIROCCO and she goes even faster, with an increase in rating from 185 to 150.

If you see either LISBETH or RAGTIME! out sailing, give them a wave from me.

09-22-2014, 09:50 AM
Happy Autumnal Equinox!

If you lived in the U.K., today would mark the beginning of the fearsome "Equinoctial Gales" that sank ships for as long as history has been recorded. Whether Equinoctial Gales are a real or imagined weather phenomena I will leave for meteorologists and novelists to argue. But the case can be made. The ill fortuned Spanish Armada was driven onto the leeshores of Ireland and Scotland by Equinoctial Gales in Sept. 1588, losing 5,000 men and changing the course of history.

Actually, it was more complicated than that and involved navigational error. The Spanish Fleet, short of food and water, and with deteriorating men and ships, intended to withdraw back to Spain by sailing west off the coast of Ireland in the relative safety of the open sea. However, they had no accurate way of measuring longitude, and were not aware the Gulf Stream was carrying them north and east as they tried to move west. The Armada eventually turned south much further to the east than planned, a devastating navigational error, that combined with westerly gales, blew a large number of ships ashore.

Here in Central California we have our own maritime legacy of shipwrecks due to navigational error. West of the Golden Gate is a treasure trove of sunken ships just being discovered by teams of NOAA researchers and the National Park Service..

Ever wonder why Noonday Rock, north of the Farallones, came to be named? A research team using underwater sonar recently discovered the remains of the clippership NOONDAY that hit the rock, charted depth 13 feet, in 1863 and sank nearby in 240 feet. NOONDAY was part of the fleet of fast-sailing vessels that brought men and supplies to California during and after the Gold Rush.

On January 1, 1863, the NOONDAY, carrying a cargo worth a reported $600,000, was approaching the entrance to San Francisco harbor, 139 days out of Boston. The weather clear, sea smooth, and the medium clipper was under all sail making 9 to 10 knots. About eight miles west of the North Farallone, she struck a rock but sailed clear. The shock was not sufficient to carry away the spars or rigging, but the bottom had been stove and she immediately started to fill. The crew only had time to save a portion of their effects and take to the boats before NOONDAY sank in 40 fathoms. The pilot boat RELIEF, some two miles distant, picked up all hands. The existence of this rock was known to pilots but it had not yet been charted; and it subsequently received the name of Noonday Rock.

In a wonderful happenstance, the fisherman John Taratino of the trawler JUNTA found NOONDAY's bell in his net in 1932. The bell now resides at the National Maritime Research Center at Fort Mason.



09-22-2014, 11:06 AM
A slight correction to Sled's post on Sunday: The Yankee OD was FLOTSOM and the photos were taken from Rich's Alerion Express 28 named 'LIZBETH, a lovely boat in its own right and a design by the late Carl Schumacher.



09-22-2014, 07:18 PM
Thanks, BobJ, for the correction.

We used to drive an hour to the Beach to go sailing. There were no freeways in LA, and the country roads took us from San Gabriel, located 40 miles inland, through orange groves and cow pastures. The last 10 miles were mostly strawberry fields, which created its own weather, a thick, low fog bank about 10 feet high, night and mornings.

They built a freeway from downtown LA to the American Dream: Disneyland, and called it the Santa Ana Freeway. To go beyond Disneyland towards San Diego was a 2 lane country road. The stop sign in San Juan Capistrano allowed us kids in the backseat to see whether the swallows had returned to their mud nests under the Mission eaves.

Today, in 1953, they opened "The Stack," a four level interchange connecting the Harbor, Hollywood, Pasadena, and Santa Ana Freeways. 32 lanes of continuous traffic moving in eight directions at once, replacing the slower, more popular cloverleaf design of the time. Designed to let motorists merge without braking, The Stack became an object of awe, fear, derision, and inspiration. The L.A. Times called the 5.5 million-dollar interchange "the most photogenic pile of cement in town" and the "fanciest whip-de-do of bridges."

They just opened a new, mile long, Highway 1 merge lane here in Santa Cruz. It cost $16 million dollars, and now nicely backs up 100,000 cars every evening. (their figures, not mine.)

Whoop De Do.

09-23-2014, 01:15 PM
People have asked what is the latest recommended time to depart the Pacific NW for San Francisco. Having made that passage multiple times in September, I always say: "leave no later than Sept.15"

As if on schedule, a major storm has moved into the Northwest offshore waters and rain has returned to the Northwest. A series of fronts will soon parade east, bringing heavy rain to the Washington/Oregon Coast. And strong southerly winds, associated with an impressive, 972 mb. low pressure offshore, will continue through Friday.

Rain from this system will likely begin along the N.California Coast Wednesday night, reaching San Francisco on Thursday. That would be a blessing!

Small craft traveling south are about to experience progress impeding headwinds and rough seas. Newport, Oregon, and Coos Bay (Charleston), Oregon are the best harbors of refuge.

Be safe out there.

09-26-2014, 11:16 AM
For sailors, a fairly common condition of the eye is the growth of a Pterygium, also called "Surfer's Eye. A Pterygium is a clear membrane that grows horizontally across the eyeball from the nose outward. Pterygiums have their own blood vessels, and if left unchecked, can cross the eyeball into the cornea, and not only cause discomfort, but hinder vision.

The cause of Pterygiums are thought to be exposure to UV from sunlight, and the irritant of wind and saltwater.

6 months ago I had a Pterygium removed from my right eye. It was outpatient surgery. With modern techniques, recurrence rate is low. There was no discomfort anytime post-op. Steroidal drops daily were necessary to promote healing.

I just received a clean bill of health on the Pterygium removal. An unexpected bonus is my eye was relieved of pressure from the Pterygium, and vision has improved to 20/20 in that eye.

Pterygium removal is covered by Medicare.

09-27-2014, 09:05 AM
"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." - Andy Warhol

Submitted without further comment. (http://www.pressure-drop.us/forums/showthread.php?3953-J-92-The-Chick-Magnet)

09-27-2014, 11:17 AM
Yesterday afternoon, dark, thunderhead type clouds developed overhead Santa Cruz. The cumulo-nimbus were developing due to instability from a low passing overhead, the same low whose trailing front brought rain 24 hours earlier.

About 3 p.m. it began to rain. Monterey Bay weather radar was lit with orange and red returns. At 3:20, while I was looking out the back window, a lightning bolt hit next door. The deafening cannon shot was reportedly heard several miles away by H Spruit, who was working in his driveway.

To my eye, the lightning strike burned a whitish/blue hole in the sky above, which lasted for a count of 3. The lightning bolt ended about 20 feet above the neighbor's backyard in a whitish ball.

I ran next door to see if everyone was OK. The neighbor stumbled out of her house in a state of anxiety. She had been mopping a wet kitchen floor, and said, "the electricity ran up my leg, along my arm, and out my hand."

The neighbor had no burn marks, and medically was apparently OK.....No a-fib. However, the TV had blown up, and their power was out.

Then the skies really opened as the dark cloud parked overhead. It began to hail, with gusty, downdrafts.

Unexpected excitement in Capitola.

09-28-2014, 10:37 PM
No matter what kind of boat we sail, Sunfish, Manta, Hobie Cat, or Islander 36, we all have to deal with sail shape. The perfect sail shape varies with conditions, type of boat, point of sail, sail material, and skill and enthusiasm of crew.

Controls to vary sail shape and trim are many and varied. Except for the privileged few, we sail with "soft" sails that stretch and change shape as the wind changes. Imagine a sail that does not stretch and has infinite control and power. The only problem is .....you can't lower this sail when you get to the docks at Richmond or Half Moon Bay. Or overnight at Drakes Bay. Here is a short video of that sail and how it works:


red roo
09-30-2014, 01:22 PM

Perhaps a bit OT, but here's Skip the young hotshot driving RED ROOSTER (in the color photo and on the magazine cover) onward to win the Fastnet Race, and ultimately the Admiral's Cup for the United States in 1969.

09-30-2014, 02:15 PM
Wow, thanks to poster "red roo" for the pics of RED ROOSTER and her crew from 45 years ago (the summer of '69) when we won the Admirals Cup and Fastnet Race in Jolly Ol' England.

For those who remember, '69 was the year the Beatles released their final album "Abbey Road."

The 42' RED ROOSTER, designed and skippered by Dick Carter, had some really cool features we enthusiastically took advantage of. One was her lifting keel and rudder that allowed us to sail in two feet of water, and dodge the currents and shoals of the Solent, off the Isle of Wight. At one point we sailed ROOSTER between two competitors that were hard aground.

In the '69 Admiral's Cup, RED ROOSTER's main competitor was the British 45 footer PROSPECT of WHITBY, named after the historic and oldest pub (1520) in London, on the banks of the Thames. RED ROOSTER and PROSPECT of WHITBY, a Sparkman and Stephens design, were the same speed, and epic battles up and down the Solent resulted between the young, upstart, Dick Carter design, and the venerable S&S design team, led by Olin Stephens.

RED ROOSTER's design and speed had a profound influence on Commodore Tompkins and myself, and we came home to help create (with Gary Mull) the 42' downwind flyer IMPROBABLE. Like RED ROOSTER, IMPROBABLE had a 7' tiller, low cabin, transom hung rudder, and of course was painted fire engine red.

In those days, red was an unlikely color to paint a race boat. With Dave Wahle and Tom Wylie's input, we even added an Easy Rider paint job, wore American flag T-shirts, and had pony tails on IMPROBABLE. We were "excused" from several Florida yacht clubs, and denied selection for the three boat U.S. Admiral's Cup Team of '71 despite our winning record in the SORC and Jamaica Race.

We decided to sail IMPROBABLE to England for the Admiral's Cup anyway, and represent the seafaring nation of the Kingdom of Tonga, whose King was glad to have us. But that's another story that includes IMPROBABLE and crew being "jailed" in Cuba.

Not sure where "sicilia" got the pics of RR, but will go on a limb and guess it was she who named RED ROOSTER for her father at the ripe age of six.

Left pic below is RED ROOSTER in the Solent, '69, and right pic is IMPROBABLE, also in the Solent, in 1971. Note reefable spinny on IMPROBABLE, and the fact we are chasing AURA, sister to Peter's SCARAMOUCHE.

IMPROBABLE's crew that day were Dave Allen (owner), Ron Holland, Chan Chrisman, Dave Wahle, Jim Gannon, Commodore Tompkins, and Skip Allan.
And no, "legs over," and "rail meat" had not yet become fashionable.

10-02-2014, 12:06 PM
Exciting news that part of the hull of a Polynesian voyaging canoe (Vaka) has been found in a sand dune on the northwest end of the South Island of New Zealand.

The piece of hull, built of New Zealand matai or black pine, was 20 feet long, and showed evidence of carved internal framing and plank construction, as well as carvings, including a turtle. Carbon dating of the bark caulking in the hull places its last voyage at about 1400 A.D.

Experts have extrapolated the original hull of this Vaka was approximately 120' long. This Polynesian canoe was most likely a catamaran. But the location of the second hull has yet to be determined, if it still exists at all. 600 plus years is a long time for any wooden ship's hull to be around.

The Polynesians, contrary to Thor Heyerdahl's theory of balsa rafts drifting from South America (KON TIKI, 1947), populated the South Pacific by voyaging eastward from SE Asia, reaching what is now French Polynesia. How they navigated their voyaging canoes without compass or GPS is wonderfully described in David Lewis's classic book "We The Navigators."

There remains debate how these canoes, loaded with crew, coconuts, and supplies for lengthy passages, made it to windward against the prevailing tradewinds using their palm frond woven sails. A new theory has emerged that the Polynesian voyagers made it upwind to Hawaii and distant Easter Island using a reversal of the easterly tradewinds, which new scientific evidence points to having occurred around 1300 A.D. during a major weather anomaly. http://www.livescience.com/48055-new-zealand-colonization-canoes-climate.html

The current fleet of recreated Polynesian Vakas are able to sail close to the wind. Beginning with HOKULE'A in 1976, these modern day canoes have sailed upwind from Hawaii to the Marquesas, and seven Vakas recently voyaged from Hawaii to the California mainland. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKbIeBfF4eo

HOKULE'A and her sister HIKIANALIA, are currently in Pago Pago, Samoa, on a three year voyage around the world using ancient navigational techniques. On an educational mission of cultural revitalization and exchange, these two Vakas will touch 26 countries.

Hopefully, the newly found Vaka remains in New Zealand will shed further light on how the Polynesians navigated the Pacific well before the gringos arrived in the 16th century.

10-04-2014, 01:42 PM
The Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island, is one of the premier maritime museums in the country. It is located on the waterfront at the site of the old Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, home to Capt. Nathanael Greene Herreshoff (1848–1938) and his family, including current patriarch Halsey Herreshoff, NGH's grandson.

I came East this week hoping to gather information on the first modern day racing and cruising catamarans and have not been disappointed. Little known is Capt. Nat was fascinated with catamarans, and built his first one, the 24'-10" AMARYLLIS, in 1875. AMARYLLIS proved so fast she was banned from racing against the New York area monohulls of the day. The excuse was AMARYLLIS had no cruising accommodations. Capt. Nat pointed out his cockpit could be completely enclosed with a boom tent, giving standing headroom, and was quite comfortable to sleep in on an air mattress. But this fell on deaf ears.

Herreshoff took to cruising AMARYLLIS in NE waters, and occasionally lay in wait to race against fast motor yachts and steamers, where his speeds reportedly reached above 20 knots.

Capt. Nat had an engineering and mechanical background from MIT, and his catamaran designs were exquisitely executed with rod rigging, struts and trusses, a sprit, centerboards, slab reefing, even an early mechanical knotmeter. But most of all, Herreshoff paired any extra weight off his catamarans wherever possible and his designs look positively modern.

Of premier interest to me was the construction that allowed Herreshoff to patent his catamaran design. It was readily apparent from viewing AMARYLLIS II, hanging from the rafters overhead, what the centerpiece of the construction was: a flexible joint system of ball joints on all the cross beams that allowed the hulls to flex independently "like two drunk brothers, walking arm in arm, holding each other up, walking down the street."

I was able to peer into the model room where Herreshoff carved more than 400 models that were used in lieu of paper plans and calculations in the design process. I saw several multi-hulls, including two catamarans and a proa. One of the catamarans had an A-frame mast. But apparently this experiment was less than successful.

Capt. Nathanael Herreshoff designed and built at least 11 catamarans ranging from 20 to 33 feet. His second build, TARANTELLA, was probably the fastest of all, and her hulls and rigging bear an uncanny resemblance to the AC-45's that were racing on SF Bay two summers ago, 136 years down the road of yacht design.

Like all fast catamarans, AMARYLLIS had a tendency to poke her lee bow into waves at speed. On several occasions she almost went "down the mineshaft" (pitchpoled). But with her bows and cockpit completely submerged, AMARYLLIS would pop out in reverse, a maneuver spectators thought was a stunt created by Capt. Nat to attract attention. Beginning on TARANTELLA, Herreshoff increased the size of his jib and raked the jib luff steeply aft, providing sail area to lift the bows and reducing the tendency to pitch pole.

Although fast multihulls originated in Oceania, Capt. Nat Herreshoff took them to another level and applied modern engineering and materials. But the sad fact is his cat revolution never caught on during his lifetime. Multi-hull popularity didn't catch on for another 100 years, until the likes of Art Piver, Woody Brown, Jim Brown, Dick Newick, Rudy Choy, Hobie Alter, Carter Pyle, Roy Seaman, Eric Tabarly, and other pioneers created a sea change in the way we sail.

10-07-2014, 07:31 AM
Walking along the banks of the Cape Cod Canal on a fine, cool, autumnal afternoon, I marveled at the engineering required to dig this 7 mile long shortcut from Buzzards Bay to Cape Cod Bay and the shores of Boston.

For centuries, the outer shores of Cape Cod were a magnet for shipwrecks, and an inside passage was proposed as early as 1623 by Miles Standish. In 1776, George Washington led the survey of proposed routes for the Cape Cod Canal. But due to cost, actual dredging didn't begin until 1909.

All manner of obstacles were encountered during the initial dredging, the toughest being giant granite boulders deposited by Ice Age glaciers. These were blown up by divers with dynamite.

The original Cape Cod Canal was opened in 1914, 100 years ago. It measured 100 feet wide and 25 feet deep, saving 62 miles for ships plying trade between New York City and Boston. The problem was the Canal's narrowness and constriction exacerbated tidal currents and created sand bars, and any shipwreck or obstruction in the Canal shut things down. Ships began to again take the outside route rather than dealing with the uncertainties of a passage through the Cape Cod Canal.

This all changed four years later, during World War I, when the German submarine, U-156, began sinking ships off Cape Cod. The private Canal was taken over by the government and redredged to create a safe inside route for commerce. In 1928 the government purchased the Canal for $11 million, and spent $21 million to increase the width to 500 feet and the controlling depth to 32 feet. Breakwaters were built at either end, and turns in the approach were straightened. During World War II, artillery batteries were built for protection as German subs patrolled offshore, but the guns were never fired.

Looking out at the five knot tidal current, I asked the lady ranger at the Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center what the biggest ship to use the canal was. She said it was "restricted to 850 feet LOA or less, but the biggest ship to ever transit was an 825 foot Russian tanker." I asked the ranger if I could transit the canal in my kayak, rowing boat, or small sailing catamaran. She nixed the kayak and row boat, saying "transit of the Cape Cod Canal was restricted to motorized vessels only." She did say I could sail downwind, "but no tacking," and I would technically have to keep my outboard motor running, even if in neutral.

A lot of people were using the paths along the banks of the Cape Cod Canal for recreation. Bikers, skaters, walkers, and just people sitting and watching boats passing. 14,000 recreational and commercial vessels transit the Cape Cod Canal each year. The Cape Cod Canal separates the Massachusetts mainland from Cape Cod, and the heavily used Bourne Bridge over the Canal allows cars access to and from Cape Cod.

At the east end of the Bourne Bridge is a "rotary." This is what we in California call a "roundabout." The Bourne Bridge Rotary is a roundabout on steroids, and about the knarliest traffic convulsion I have ever driven. It is two, maybe three lanes wide around its central circle (there are no lanes marked,) and cars are entering and exiting at high speed from all directions. A neck that swivels 180 degrees would be a good look for the Bourne Bridge Rotary. Accidents seem to be the norm here, and apparently everyone in charge of safety has given up, letting the free for all just happen. The nearby Cape Cod Canal, even with its 5 knot currents, looked a better and more sane way to travel.

10-08-2014, 08:25 PM
The paved bike path to Woods Hole took us along an abandoned railroad right-of-way, along the southern coast of Cape Cod. Woods Hole, MA, is a village (900 residents), physically about the size of my home town, Capitola, CA.

Woods Hole lies at the extreme southwestern tip of Cape Cod, and, besides lobster tacos, is best known as the center of several famous marine science institutions, including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Woods Hole Research Center, NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center, a USGS coastal and marine geology center, and the home campus of the Sea Education Association.

For such a small town, there are a lot of other maritime interests, including the Coast Guard Headquarters for SE New England, the 1876 Nobska Light lighthouse, and the ferry landing to the island of Martha's Vineyard.

At the two room Woods Hole Yacht Club we met "Skip," the harbor master, who filled us in on the history of the place. Overhead was a navigation light and weather instrument tower that was no longer functioning due to a large osprey nest, one of more than 100 on Cape Cod.

There were about 100 moorings in Woods Hole Harbor, and 25 more inside Eel Pond, a landlocked hurricane hole, reachable only through a narrow channel bisected by a drawbridge.

I queried Skip about the beautiful, double-ended ketch in the anchorage. He said it was the WALTER GREEN, sister to the 42 foot Sidney Herreshoff ARION, the first big boat ever built of fiberglass, in 1950-51. ARION, an ultralight at 10,500 pounds, also featured a spade rudder and fin keel.

Check out the pics of ARION and the cold moulded WALTER GREEN sailing side by side.


We stopped at the nearby Nobska Lighthouse. The breeze was blowing SW, 25, gusting 27 knots, for the downwind bike ride back to the car. Vineyard Sound's 4 knot tide made Woods Hole's offshore waters look like the entrance to the Golden Gate with wind against tide. Rough would be an understatement if you were attempting to sailing southbound.

10-11-2014, 05:18 AM
The recent court ordered re-opening of access to Martin's Beach, near Half Moon Bay, is good news for all Californians who value the beauty and recreation of our Pacific Coast. Without public access, coastal and ocean fronting property down to the high tide line can be bought by the very wealthy, and getting to a favorite surf spot or ocean view can be gated off, and beaches can become privatized.

I am currently in the NE United States on recon as to this area's suitability for potential future exploration with my 22', shallow draft, catamaran. Here in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, private property extends seaward from the high tide line to the low tide line (Mean Low Tide).

By 17th Century Colonial Law, four other states (Maine, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Delaware) have similar tideland restrictions. Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey are different, and private property ends at the high tide line. In many places in the NE, if you leave footprints in the sand, surf, or scuba dive, you can be trespassing.

Although there are historical easements for "fishing, fowling, or navigation" on private Massachusetts tidelands, exact definitions are hard to come by. Apparently, legally, you can carry a shotgun to hunt birds ("fowling"), but not binoculars to bird watch. Likewise, carrying a harpoon or fishing pole aboard your dinghy or SUP may help gain access to coastal waters and beaches. But carrying a surfboard can land you in trouble.

Due to the shallow, rocky, tidal, and environmentally sensitive nature of many East Coast harbors, private mooring buoys occupy many potential anchorages. Anchoring is either illegal or actively discouraged here, and visitors have the additional navigational challenge of determining where to drop the hook if they don't want to pay $35-$50 a night, or more, for a guest mooring.

10-15-2014, 09:22 AM
Since being a kid, lighthouses have been like catnip. Aboard L-36 HOLIDAY we would regularly pass Angels Gate Lighthouse at the entrance to San Pedro Harbor (S.Cal) The Lighthouse was built on the tip of the West San Pedro breakwater, and we would see laundry drying on the line, and wave to the lighthouse keeper's kids as they played on the rocks.

I recently visited Cape Cod's 50 mile long eastern shoreline, a lee shore in most storm conditions and historically a magnet for shipwrecks. Over 1,000 wrecks recorded since 1623. Thanks to President JFK in 1961, this 50 mile beach is now a protected National Seashore, its history, beauty and wildlife preserved for future generations. Cape Cod National Seashore could be generously compared to our own Pt. Reyes National Seashore. They have a lot in common, including shipwrecks.

A small industry flourished on Cape Cod, scavenging wrecks. Nothing was wasted, neither wood, cloth, nor metal, when a ship came ashore. Even Native Americans got into the act.

Life saving stations were established every five miles on Cape Cod. Lighthouses were built, topped out by the technologically new Fresnel lenses, which magnified the light for a distance of 20 miles.

Famous Highland Light was the first (and tallest) lighthouse built on Cape Cod in 1797, and shone a single white light seaward at the NE tip. At the southern end of Cape Cod, the twin Chatham lighthouses were built, so as to show two lights seaward. And midway between, three identical lighthouses were built side-by-side in 1836. The Three Sisters' three lights were then distinguishable from Highland Light's single light to the north and Chatham's two to the south.

The Three Sisters are still there, although decommissioned and moved 1/4 mile landward from the edge of the cliff, which is eroding at an average of 3' per year. Cape Cod's shoreline, being mostly sandy, is under constant erosion .....same as our Pacific Coast.

Below is a pic of the Three Sisters I took. Legend has it they were named "Sisters," as they appeared to have identical black bonnets and white skirts.

Interesting concept: building three lighthouses side by side.

10-18-2014, 01:42 PM
As the fog burned off, an apparition of an island appeared about a mile off the Santa Cruz Harbor breakwater.

There are no islands out there. It's open ocean.

The fog burned off some more, and the island took the shape of a warship, specifically an aircraft carrier.

Radio contact between the carrier and the Santa Cruz Harbormaster revealed only that the floating island was a "Naval warship conducting anchoring practice."

Rainer's I-Pad AIS went into action for further identification. It was the USS CHESTER NIMITZ, CVN 68, a 1092' "Super Carrier" with 6,000 crew visiting Santa Cruz waters. I guess no one told the captain we are a "Nuclear Free Zone." As if that might matter.

The NIMITZ's anchors weigh 30 tons each, shackled to 1,082 feet of chain, with each link weighing 365 pounds. That's 735,000 pounds or 367.5 tons of anchor and rode on the NIMITZ's bow. And there are two, or 735 tons total. You wouldn't want a super carrier to drag anchor.

My contact aboard the NIMITZ revealed their "anchoring practice" off Santa Cruz was really to test the efficacy of lighter anchors and chain. The new anchors were half the weight, at 15 tons each, the links in the chain weighed 136 pounds each, and they were carrying 1,440 feet of all chain rode per anchor.

Clearly, Chuck Hawley, safety officer from West Marine, had given the Navy a sales pitch. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wardroom wall when Chuck announced, "Captain, your anchors are too heavy." "Bow down trim went out with the IOR."

In 1993, Chuck chartered the SC-70 MIRAGE for a morning of anchor testing off Santa Cruz Harbor. With a 10 person contingent of West Marine staff and sales reps watching in amusement, Chuck slipped a new 4 pound West Marine anchor, attached to 6 feet of chain, over the bow. Chuck paid out about 75 feet of rope and gave the order: "slow astern!"

In retrospect, I now know Chuck knew exactly the composition of the bottom where MIRAGE was anchoring. Not only did the 4 pound anchor hold the 25,000 pound, 68 footer, but it held in full reverse, 3,000 RPM's spinning the 18" Martec prop. The 3/8" nylon line was singing.

OK, granted Martec props aren't very good in reverse. But Chuck proved his point, whatever it was.

I don't know if the new, lighter anchors on the NIMITZ passed their test. After a few hours she steamed away, west bound, back into the fog.

red roo
10-20-2014, 09:24 PM
From the SF Examiner: Skip and WILDFLOWER in the 1978 SHTP. As most of you may know, by 1978 Skip was regarded as the best offshore skipper in the world, having helmed IMP to victory in both the ultra prestigious, record turnout 1977 Fastnet Race and the 1977 SORC series. With Skip at the helm, IMP also achieved top boat status in the 1977 Admiral's Cup, informally known as the World Championships of Offshore Racing. Earlier in the decade, sleddog had skippered IMPROBABLE to numerous important international wins.

10-23-2014, 11:29 AM
Spectating the "Premier Ocean Race in the World," the current edition of the Volvo Around the World Race, makes baseball look like a NASCAR Racing. Knotmeters aboard the seven Volvo-65's, with their multi-million dollar programs and professional crews, have been stuck on triple Zeros as sails flap in the Doldrums. The Doldrums, aka ITCZ or Intertropical Convergence Zone, is the area of low atmospheric pressure just north of the Equator that produces frequent calms, squalls, and stifling heat.

Having crossed the ITCZ six times, I can imagine life aboard the Volvo-65's: to save weight, the interiors are unpainted, black, carbon fiber. There's no fans, vents, sleeping sheets, pillows, or a cold drink. What you get is the sticky sweat of your bunk mate and maybe an energy bar.

The origin of the word "doldrum" comes from old English "dol," "dolt," and "dold." All meant "stupid," or "foolish." Granted, the best prepared and most experienced Volvo crews will invariably come out ahead. But as the Volvo crews currently drift through the doldrums, the Race is being headlined as a "lottery."

Who dreamed up the current Volvo course that takes the fleet crisscrossing the Doldrums six times on their lap around the world? What happened to the old days when the same race, then known as the Whitbread, saw the fleet digging deep into the Roaring 40's, even the Furious 50's, surfing for weeks on end, often in Westerly Gales?

Oh, I forgot. It's about the money.

Wake me as the Volvo Race approaches Cape Town.

Maybe the second leg from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi in the Persian Gulf will create excitement as the Volvo fleet sails through pirate ville offshore Somalia, thence into the neighborhood of Middle East warring tribes, smugglers, warships, and air force weaponry.

If you want to spectate a fun and less expensive sailing race, consider visiting San Francisco the last weekend in January and assisting the SSS Race Committee on the Bridge Deck of the Golden Gate Yacht Club for the 3 Bridge Fiasco.

10-27-2014, 09:03 AM
There's something wacky with the forum - you have to keep hitting the refresh button to see your posts. Maybe pogen can inquire?

H Spruit
10-27-2014, 11:32 AM
AT 8:PM sunday nite My computer gave me an "ERROR" message and said they could not open it at all.

"I saw Sleddog at Coffee Club at Santa Cruz Harbor on Sat. Morning. He misses being able to read and post on the SSS Forum, and hopes technical difficulties will be reconciled soon."

red roo
10-27-2014, 05:02 PM
Agreed, BobJ. Even though the thread keeps rejecting my attempts to log in, when I hit 'refresh', I discover that the thread has logged me in after all. Apparently sled's tech issues are more complicated so hopefully they'll get sorted for him, pronto. I'm looking forward to a possible future sleddog editorial on technology.

In WestMarine recently, I spotted an attractive photo of boats on the cover of a Gougeon Epoxyworks brochure. And there's WILDFLOWER (with sleddog)!

10-28-2014, 09:41 AM
"Banned in Boston" is no idle threat.

On a recent lap around New England, my last stop was Boston. Shortly thereafter, my access to the SSS Forum was denied. Couldn't Log-In, Read, or Post/Edit.

Unsung SSS Webmaster/Administer Dave N advised that my IP (Internet Protocol) address somehow got on a list of "banned addresses."

I didn't know whether to feel chagrined or honored. After all, I was in good company. Also banned at one time in Bean Town was Walt Whitman's ", Leaves of Grass," and Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" and "A Farewell to Arms." Even the Everly Brothers became persona non grata in Boston when they came out with their classic "Wake Up Little Susie"

I thought back, trying to remember where I had been overly salacious or seditious.

I changed my IP address. Difficulties persisted. A pop up box would appear, telling me "you cannot be processed because your token has expired."

The only "token" I could think of was needed to ride the Boston MTA (subway.) Some of us remember the Kingston Trio's hit song, telling us about Charlie, doomed to "ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston." Was I to be like Charlie: "the man who never returned?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7Jw_v3F_Q0

If you are reading this, I'm back. Which may be a good or bad thing. Thank you for the concern. And thank you Dave N.

10-28-2014, 03:30 PM
At Coffee Club last Saturday morning, the denizens were discussing how to increase my catamaran's stability. Water ballast tanks and plumbing were mentioned, but discarded as being space invasive and expensive.

Howard Spruit brought up the idea of kick-up leeboards with foils, kinda like an overgrown Sabot. The "L" foils point inboard, and lift the leeward hull, counteracting the sail and rigging force that depresses it.

Mark brought up the idea of inflatable sponsons, something he says they use on kayaks and SUP's.

Inflatables? Hmmmm. Sounds interesting. As we were about to disperse, what should arrive by astral-telepathy from "sicilia" but a pen and ink drawing of a 25 foot inflatable trimaran raft, the American NON-PAREIL, that, 147 years ago, sailed across the Atlantic in June/July of 1867 in the time of 43 days.
(NP's passage took her from Sandy Hook, NY, to Southampton, England, an extra distance of at least a week from the traditional "finish" at the Lizard Point.)

NON-PAREIL had a hull of three India-rubber, inflatable, tubes 25 feet long and 2 1/2 feet in diameter. These large tubes were strongly secured by ropes to a wooden frame 21 feet long and 12 1/2 feet wide, the "bridgedeck" in modern terms.

NON-PAREIL's three man crew lived on deck in a canvas tent, with only an oil lantern for heat, light, and cooking. NON-PAREIL was offered help by a number of ships, both steam and sail, but never needed any, although her crew did accept an invitation to dinner aboard a ship in mid-ocean one calm evening.

The Illustrated London News of August 10, 1867, said the purpose of the voyage was to test the practicability of a life-saving raft for deep-sea work.

NON-PAREIL's crew was welcomed by members of the prestigious Royal Yacht Squadron, at Cowes, Isle of Wight, and she was shown to members of the Royal Family who were on board one of their yachts at the time.

As for WILDFLOWER, my catamaran, the cheapest and most efficient method of increasing stability is, as Howard invariably points out, "Reef Early, Reef Often..."

10-29-2014, 12:54 AM
Holy Smokes... rubber life rafts over 100yrs ago... boggles the mind.

10-29-2014, 08:42 AM
Traps, a really long hiking stick, and lots more doughnuts.

Welcome back, Sled.

H Spruit
10-29-2014, 09:02 AM
The comment "Reef Early, Reef Often..." reminds me of the days when the Santa Cruz Harbor first opened,(in the 60s) and many of us new bees thought that too much sail area was not enough, and would let our feelings be heard at the Club. I remember that one of the "OLD Salts" at the time said to me, son "The older you get the shorter your mast gets, the larger your engine gets, and the area used for sail bags gets replaced with fuel tanks.

10-29-2014, 01:13 PM
Some incredulity has greeted the report the Super Carrier USS NIMITZ recently anchored off Santa Cruz without her accompanying strike force and protection.

Below are two photos: first was taken by Rainer shows the NIMITZ off Santa Cruz Mile Buoy. The second shows the NIMITZ doing the Pt.Sur Bash at 30 knots. It must be nice having two nuclear reactors turning four prop shafts to get to windward...

10-29-2014, 05:06 PM
Nothing goes to weather like plutonium.

10-30-2014, 08:40 PM
Did nt Dennis Conner try that on a keel in an America's cup ?

10-30-2014, 10:42 PM
Tropical Storm Vance has formed SW of Acapulco. Vance is the 20th named tropical in the Eastern Pacific this hurricane season, the most since 1992.

TS Vance is currently headed west, but is forecast to intensify to hurricane status and curve north, then northeast, likely impacting Baja and/or the Mexican mainland the middle of next week. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_ep1.shtml?5-daynl#contents

Despite the Grand Poobah's pronouncement this week that "a late tropical storm forming is remote and just grew more remote," the fleet of 131 southbound Baja Ha-Ha yachts may experience weather to the contrary after reaching Bahia Santa Maria Monday. Bahia Santa Maria is 3/4's of the way down the Pacific Side of Baja, and open to the south, the direction from which Vance's swell will arrive. Surfers should be ecstatic. Others, less so.

10-31-2014, 05:49 PM
Howard Spruit and I have been fortunate to have a job of refurbishing a vintage (1971) Boston Whaler. This boat, a 16'6” “Montauk” version, has, like many of its sisters, been abused over its 43 years, but still has a long and useful life ahead.

Since their initial production in 1958, Boston Whalers have enjoyed an intensely loyal following of owners and admirers. This broad allegiance is primarily due not only to their exceedingly stable hull shape and large carrying capacity, but also to their legendary and trademarked “unsinkable legend.”

In the 1950s, polyurethane foam, a stiff, lightweight, buoyant material, was
invented. Boston Whaler used this new foam in their hulls as the core material. Originally, the foam was just poured into the air gap between the hulls and allowed to expand. But this did not work, and molds were made so the foam could be inserted during the fiberglassing process.

Initial ads, made famous in Life Magazine, showed Boston Whalers being cut in half while afloat, then the back half towing the front half home. Boston Whalers' ability to remain afloat when filled with water is a major reason the Navy and Coast Guard used them during the Vietnam War. Bullet holes had little effect on the Boston Whaler's capabilities. Their load capacity, seaworthiness, speed, stability, and ability of being able to continue operation even when filled with water has, for generations, made the Boston Whaler much prized as a yacht club tender, race committee, and rescue boat.

Boston Whalers were originally designed by Ray Hunt, one of the most innovative and highly respected yacht designers of his era. Hunt was also well known for his designs of the 110, the beautiful and fast Concordia yawl, and the deep V hull of the Bertram “Moppie” ocean racing powerboat.

For the original Boston Whaler, Ray Hunt used a “cathedral hull,” a type of V-bottomed vestigial trimaran where the center hull has two smaller side hulls (training wheels) that extend almost as far forward as the main hull. (photo 3 below) Further aft, the three hulls merge into a flat bottom shape, that promotes planing. This cathedral hull resulted in the Boston Whaler's signature shape: a broad bow and almost rectangular hull form.

As soon as Howard gets new wheel bearings and bunk rollers for the trailer, this Boston Whaler "legend" will be ready to return to its home in Lake Tahoe.

11-02-2014, 11:25 AM
The biggest, baddest, boldest, and most technologically advanced America's Cup defender was not RANGER, the awe inspiring J boat (135' LOA); not the star-crossed New Zealand KZ1 of 1988 (120'); and not the giant BMW Oracle wing sail trimaran of 2010 (120'.)

It was RELIANCE, the 200' gaff rigged cutter designed by the “Wizard of Bristol,” Nathanael Herreshoff, and built by his Herreshoff Manufacturing Company. RELIANCE was launched in 1903, and so completely dominated the challenger, Sir Thomas Lipton's SHAMROCK III, that the measurement rule was changed, and RELIANCE never sailed again and was scrapped 10 years later.

I recently had the pleasure of viewing photos and the remaining parts of RELIANCE on display at the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol. For hours, I couldn't believe what I was reading or seeing.

RELIANCE was the largest gaff rigged cutter ever built. She measured 145' on deck, with a main boom length of 108' and a bowsprit that extended to East Jesus.

RELIANCE's hollow wood mast was 200' (20 stories) and featured a telescoping topmast that could be retracted and extended from inside the mainmast. A single spreader on this massive rig was 34' long.

Her spinnaker pole was 84' and RELIANCE flew 16,160 square feet of sail, more than twice that of the J Boats. RELIANCE's mainsail was so big that a 4” diameter, manila mainsheet, 1000' feet in length and wound on a giant spool, was used to trim the sail.

Despite her 100 ton cast lead keel at a depth of 19', RELIANCE was so tender she went rail down in 12 knots of wind when she was making 15 knots boat speed. To assist steering, RELIANCE's hollow rudder could be pumped full of air or sea water to weight or unweight the force on the steering system

To captain RELIANCE, legendary professional skipper Charlie Barr was in charge. Captain Barr had a crew of 64 pros, of whom 12 were stationed below decks manning the 9 two speed winches controlling the sheets and halyards. Except for these winches, there were no interior accommodations. RELIANCE's inside was bare bones as befitted her sole purpose: to win the America's Cup.

RELIANCE was a tour de force of structural and engineering marvelosity. Every cleat, hook, shackle, and turnbuckle was specially designed to save weight. RELIANCE's deck was aluminum plates, covered with cork linoleum (or canvas) to give good footing to her crew.

More on RELIANCE in a future post. Numbers and photos don't do Nathanael Herreshoff's RELIANCE full justice. To this end, RELIANCE is currently being recreated at 1/6th scale and to exacting detail at the Herreshoff Maritime Museum for all to enjoy. http://therelianceproject.com/

H Spruit
11-03-2014, 08:19 AM
I am truly amazed at the creativity and accomplishments that came out of the early recreational yachting scene, and how much of it was thwarted by the rule makers of the day.
I also never cease to be amazed at the lengths the rich kids will go to in order to satisfy their giant ego's
Keep smiling!

11-04-2014, 09:24 PM
Nov. 10 marks the 39th anniversary of the loss of the EDMUND FITGERALD with her entire crew of 29 during a 1975 autumn storm on Lake Superior.

The FITZGERALD, an iron ore bulk carrier, was 729 feet overall, and when launched in 1958 was the largest ship on the Great lakes. The exact reason for her sinking remains a mystery and subject of conflicting theories. Whether she broke in half, was overwhelmed by 35 foot waves, or had leaks through unsecured deck hatches and slowly filled are only some of the conjectures.

The EDMUND FITZGERALD's final resting place has been discovered, some 17 miles from Whitehorse Bay, Michigan. Divers recovered her 200 pound bronze bell in 1995 and the area is now a marine sanctuary. The bell is on display in the nearby Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum as a memorial to her lost crew.

What remains is probably the most famous sinking and legend since the TITANIC.

If you are in the vicinity of Whitehorse Bay Nov. 10, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum will be holding an EDMUND FITZGERALD Memorial at 7 pm at which time the bell will be rung 29 times, once for each lost crew member, plus a 30th ring to remember all those Mariners lost on the Great Lakes.


11-07-2014, 09:56 AM
What is being billed as the most intense storm ever in the North Pacific Ocean is poised to rake the Aleutian Islands this weekend.

Ex-Category 5 Typhoon Nuri, with 180 mph winds, has recurved northeast from Japan and is about to enter the Bering Sea, complete with an eye and plunging central pressure of 918-922 millibars. This atmospheric pressure will make Nuri a "Super Storm," exceeding Hurricane Sandy in intensity.

Meterologists are describing Nuri's development using a word I'm not much familiar with: "bombogenesis." Bombogenesis occurs between a cold continental air mass and warm ocean waters or between a cold polar air mass and a much warmer air mass."

Those air masses mix together to form an "extratropical surface cyclone" — or, as in Nuri's case, a "bomb" of a storm. Bombogenesis also draws its name from another weather term — cyclogenesis — which is a fancy word for a cyclone's origin.

We remember another weather "bomb," the Queen's Birthday Storm of June, 1994, when the cruising fleet departing New Zealand encountered extreme conditions, loss of boats and life.

Only a few villages, the Naval Station on Adak Island, and the Port of Dutch Harbor are in Nuri's Path. Shipping containers have been secured so they don't blow away, and the crab fishing fleet from the TV Series "Deadliest Catch" has sought shelter.

"Not some kids sailing class, these guys are pros," said Mark Gleason, executive director of the Seattle-based trade association Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.


11-07-2014, 01:54 PM
Many SSS members have been following the singlehanded Route du Rhum Transatlantic Race from St.Malo, France to Guadelupe in the Caribbean. Ill fortune has struck a big part of the fleet. Injuries; broken rigs and blown sails; lost keels, rudders; structural failures that caused multi-hulls to lose their amas, to name a few.

No bigger catastrophe has occurred than favorite Thomas Colville, whose 105' maxi-trimaran SODEBO T-boned a freighter at a combined closing speed in excess of 40 knots. That only SODEBO's starboard bow was ripped off and Colville was able to make port, unhurt, is fortunate indeed.

For singlehanded sailors anywhere, the opportunity to encounter large commercial ships is only increasing. I like to remind both myself and other fellow sailors, that when you are alone on the ocean and sight a ship on radar, AIS, or visually on the horizon, there inevitably seems to be a 50% chance that ship is on a collision course.

I'm sure Mark Twain would have some choice comment about this possibility.

These days, sailors need to be familiar with two nautical shipping terms: PANAMAX and POST (or NEW) PANAMAX. "Panamax" refers to the size of ship currently able to transit the Panama Canal. Panamax ships can be up to 965 ft. in length, 106 ft in width and 39.5 ft draft in order to fit to the lock chambers. Panamax ships have been in operation since the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914.

More and more, especially on voyages to/from Hawaii, and in the approaches to Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, we encounter "PostPanamax" ships, significantly longer, wider, deeper, heavier, and much less manuverable than the Panamax ships of yesteryear.

PostPanamax ships, designed and built to fit the newly enlarged Panama Canal, have max dimensions of 1,200 ft in length, 160.7 ft in width, and 50 feet in depth.

Many of us have already encountered these PostPanamax monsters. I certainly have. At the time, in 2008, the second biggest PostPanamax container ship in the world, the 1061' MSC TORONTO, retrieved me from my sloop WILDFLOWER, 400 miles west of Santa Cruz.

PostPanamx ships are bigger these days than the MSC TORONTO. In the spring of 2012 I had the occasion of watching the MSC FABIOLA enter the Alameda Estuary and be turned 180 degrees. The FABIOLA is 1,200 feet long, and as the three acccompanying tugs pushed and pulled, there was little or no room between either end of the ship and the shores of the Alameda Estuary. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEZG-O5XFxI

The presence of the MSC FABIOLA at the Port of Oakland was the result of a 12-year harbor-deepening project. The San Francisco Bay Bar Pilots trained for FABIOLA's visit for over a year on a simulator at the California Maritime Academy.

I recommend to you the documented divisiveness of PostPanamax shipping in Panama (the Panama Canal pilots were not consulted during the design of the current expansion of the Canal.) At about 7 minutes, 20 seconds of the video, you get to see how it looks from the bridge of a PostPanamax ship coming into SF Bay and down the estuary. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhS4ImOtzSg

If you encounter a big ship, best to ascertain her movements and intentions, and then give way. Professional singlehander Thomas Colville forgot this mantra and his SODEBO paid dearly.

11-09-2014, 05:36 PM
Commodore Fred Hughes of New York was a yacht racer and betting man. In the 1880's in New York, those two recreations, sailing and gambling were not mutually exclusive .

Fred Hughes had “drunk the catamaran Kool-Aid” when he bought Nathanael Herreshoff's legendary pioneering catamaran AMARYLLIS. Soon enough, Hughes wanted something faster than the revolutionary AMARYLLIS. Hughes had the 41' catamaran JESSIE built with the intention of racing JESSIE against a horse from New York to Stony Creek, Connecticut, 90 miles, for a $1,000 bet, winner take all.

Hughes catamaran JESSIE, favored with strong tail winds, won that initial race. The horse, “Boston,” came second. The owner of the horse, wealthy New York sportsman, Dr. Ezra P. Daggett, was dissatisfied and wanted a rematch.

Commodore Hughes readily agreed to Daggett's terms for a rematch. For the rematch, Hughes again had a new catamaran built, the 40' CYCLONE, designed by Thomas Fearon, a disciple of Nathanael Herreshoff. Daggett again challenged with his horse “Boston.” A third entry, a dark horse, was an unnamed man on a bicycle, who bet $500 he could out pedal the horse and the catamaran, and take the $1,500 prize.

The start of the catamaran/ horse/ bicycle race was scheduled to leave New York 4:30 a.m. on morning of August 15, 1883. There was a problem. 4 detectives from the Humane Society were hunting for “Boston” the horse, ready to arrest Daggett the owner on animal cruelty charges.

At the 24th St starting line, Daggett cunningly disguised another horse as “Boston,” and the Humane Society detectives tried to arrest the wrong horse. Meanwhile, Daggett and “Boston” rode away at a 12 mph gate up Central Ave.

By the Boston Road, “Boston's” pace had increased to 20 mph with Daggett wearing oilskin foul weather gear and a Southwester hat pulled over his eyes to protect them from the driving rain.

Down on the water, Hughes CYCLONE was encountering difficulty starting the race. Leaving New York's East River through Hells Gate, the wind was strong and from the East, making it a dead muzzler, not a good point of sail for a catamaran. We can only guess the conversation onboard CYCLONE was not optimistic.

Meanwhile, the third starter, the bicyclist, failed to appear. Whether because of the foul weather, or because he hadn't secured the necessary $500 entry bet, the reason for the bicyclist's “no show” is unknown.

By 6 a.m., “Boston” and Daggett had reached New Rochelle, and the rain was beginning to let up. Stamford, Connecticut was reached at 8:15 a.m. In Stamford, “Boston” was given a swallow of brandy, a rubdown, and 45 minute rest.

At 11:30 a.m., “Boston” trotted briskly into Bridgeport, where the big boned gelding was given a well deserved hour's rest. At 12: 30 p.m. Dr. Daggett picked up “Boston's” reins, gave a chirp, and “Boston” responded by breaking into “a spanking gate” which they held all the way to New Haven.

At 2:45 pm “Boston” and Daggett entered New Haven, where “Boston” was again rested, rubbed down, and given oatmeal porridge flavored with a dose of brandy. It was here in New Haven that Daggett fully expected to be arrested by the Humane Society officers. But none appeared.

At 4:34 p.m, after covering the final 11 miles from New Haven, “Boston” and Daggett crossed the finish line at Frank's Hotel to the applause of 50 welcomers. But the race wasn't over. Where was Hughes on CYCLONE? Nothing had been seen of the catamaran since the start. In addition, Daggett realized that in his ruse to escape the Humane Society detectives in New York, he had started the race five miles closer to the finish than CYCLONE.

To make up the five mile advantage, a very tired “Boston” was driven 5 miles up and down the road in front of Frank's Hotel until the requisite makeup distance had been covered. Still no CYCLONE in sight as “Boston” was stabled, rubbed down, given another round of oatmeal, and snugged down for the night.

Whatever became of the catamaran CYCLONE? Apparently, Hughes and crew gave up the race at Bridgeport, 20 miles short of the finish.

It was reported in the NY Times the next day that “Dr. Daggett boasted he was ready to put up $2,000 that his horse could beat the catamaran two out of three.”

“Dr. Daggett versus the Catamaran” certainly sounds like a more interesting contest than the proposed 35th America's Cup, likely to be held in light air San Diego in 2017.

And remember, if you are going to race a horse against a catamaran, give the horse some brandy for optimum results.

11-12-2014, 01:32 PM
Skip, love these interesting tidbits of info, and agree that Brandy might bring out the optimum results in almost any contest if administered at the right intervals. I believe that my famiy's voyages or races on RENEGADE, LIVELY and FRAM were usually optimized with Jack Daniels. Your story begs to be condensed into an additional verse to Lyle Lovet's "Pony on a Boat" song.

11-12-2014, 03:22 PM
CHATAUQUA: Break out your mandolin. Better to sing about a horse than sail with one.

I sailed with a horse, once. "Risky" had to be delivered from the Quadra Island stable back to his home on Maurelle Island, distance 15 miles.

Laurie led "Risky" down the steep gangway at Heriot Bay and onto the Government Float. Rob placed a sheet of thick plywood over QUINTANO's cockpit well for RISKY to stand on. (QUINTANO was Rob and Laurie Wood's 30' home built catamaran.)

"Risky" stepped aboard QUINTANO, we untied, and shoved off.

Nice sailing breeze, west at 12-15. QUINTANO was making knots. Each time we tacked, Laurie topped the boom over the horse's back.

Hoskyn Channel narrowed as we closed on Beazely Pass and tacks became more frequent. I was trimming for Rob. As we approached the Read Island shore on port tack, Rob called "ready about."

I dove for the starboard side jib winch, only to have "Risky" dump a steaming pile of poop on the winch before I could uncleat. I called back to Rob "hold the tack, I can't find the winch."

No shit.

I have a suspicion Lyle Lovett was no cowboy, nor sailor. But his "If I Had a Boat" is a classic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpM8FjO4Vko

11-12-2014, 08:48 PM
Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, aka “Capt. Nat,” the “Wizard of Bristol, and “NGH” was the most innovative yacht designer of all time. His revolutionary designs, sail craft, rowing boats, steam yachts, and naval torpedo boats, were notably graceful, elegantly engineered, and Fast. So dominant were NGH's designs that his fame spread world wide. During the "Herreshoff Era," Capt. Nat designed a record six winning America's Cup yachts. His company, Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, built every winning America's Cup yacht from 1893 to 1934.

Less well known is Herreshoff's romance with catamarans. As Capt. Nat wrote in 1875, "For actual sailing I enjoyed these craft more than any other I have owned." NGH's first catamaran, the 25' AMARYLLIS (1875) was based on iceboats that NGH sailed around a frozen Bristol Harbor in the winters of 1874-75 and '75-76. When completed, AMARYLLIS, planked with half inch cedar, competed in the Centennial Regatta on June 22, 1876, off the New York Yacht Club's Staten Island station. In that race, AMARYLLIS raced against 34 entries including the best of the local large schooners, "sandbaggers" and "skimming dishes". The attendant press, tongue-in-cheek, described AMARYLLIS as a "life raft," a "cigar boat," "nondescript," the "experiment," and ultimately as the "sea monster."

Initially, in the light winds, AMARYLLIS did poorly. Then a nice southwest sea breeze built and AMARYLLIS sailed merrily through the fleet to win, surviving a near "pitchpole" in the process. AMARYLLIS, cheered by hundreds of onlookers, won by more than twenty minutes over the famous sandbagger PLUCK & LUCK. Some in AMARYLLIS's Class 3 were 40 or more minutes behind.

AMARYLLIS's win in the Centennial Regatta's competition was so eye opening to New York Yacht Club members that AMARYLLIS was protested and later "excused" from her inaugural race. 1st Place prize was awarded to PLUCK & LUCK. Herreshoff and AMARYLLIS were given a separate "consolation" trophy, and told catamarans were not welcome to race again against the local fleet. http://www.runningtideyachts.com/multihull/Amaryllis.html

Though ocean going double-hulled canoes had been around for centuries in Oceania, AMARYLLIS was an engineering wonder and her design led to a patent awarded to NGH in April, 1877. Herreshoff's catamaran patent focused on double hulls being independent of mast and rigging by using a trussed backbone that was attached to the hulls with a flexible and elastic system of ball joints and rubber washers. The forestay, shrouds, and mainsheet tensions were transferred not into the hulls, but into this backbone. The cat's hulls flexed independently of the rig, and of each other. http://www.google.com/patents/US189459

After NGH sold AMARYLLIS to Fred Hughes, (the same gentleman who twice raced catamaran against horse), NGH continued to experiment, design, and build catamarans. As well as capitalizing on his patent, NGH's goal was to offer three sizes of catamarans to the public. The cat lengths were to be 20' for three to four crew, 25' for four to five persons, and 32' for six to seven. "These to be furnished complete with anchors and cables, storm jibs, built of the best material, and guaranteed." Though records are incomplete, it is believed NGH designed and built at least 7 of these "guaranteed" catamarans before "business reasons" and lack of orders turned his attention elsewhere.


All these cats were built in Bristol, R.I. Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, the shipbuilding company formed by NGH and his brother John B. Herreshoff, was just opening its doors in Bristol in 1877. The above listed cats, except the 25' AMARYLLIS (1875), AMARYLLIS II (1933), and the 25' SEA SPIDER (1944-45), were built within a period of three years (1877-1880) and all were pretty much the same length (32'). Except for SEA SPIDER, which had a rigid structure and was designed by Nat's son, Sidney Herreshoff, it is likely all the early Herreshoff cats were of similar design, of the same construction, and built as sisterships in rapid fashion, using interchangeable rigging and spars, gear, and wrought iron structures. We do know each cat “package,” as it came out of the Herreshoff yard, had small improvements, especially in the rig and sails.

Below is a pic of SEA SPIDER, built in 1944-45, one of the last boats to come out of Herreshoff Manufacturing Company before it closed its doors. It was hoped that SEA SPIDER would lead to a class of similar boats, but nothing came of it. As mentioned above, SEA SPIDER had rigid hull connections. A cool detail about SEA SPIDER was its cockpit, which was a dinghy that could be lowered into the water and rowed away. Not sure why we didn't think of something like that when we built WILDFLOWER.:rolleyes:

11-14-2014, 03:48 PM
The Herreshoff catamaran revolution happened in the northeast United States. Across the country, San Francisco, then, as now, was the sailing center of the West Coast. And in San Francisco, catamarans were also built and raced in the late 19th century. Little remains of their stories except the odd newspaper clipping, and three lovely photographs by William Letts Oliver, an inventor, sailor, and amateur photographer from Oakland.

The first modern catamaran in California was likely the EXPERIMENT. Although we do not know EXPERIMENT's designer or builder, she could well have been from Nathanael Herreshoff's drawing board. EXPERIMENT was mentioned at least five times between June 17 and August 5, 1877, in California's first newspaper, the Daily Alta California. The reporter on scene called himself “Yachtsman,” and liked to poke fun at the EXPERIMENT as a “what-do-you-call-it?” On August 5, 1877 “Yachtsman” headlined that EXPERIMENT had capsized in a San Francisco Yacht Club regatta and broken up.

Here is what “Yachtsman” sardonically wrote: "The catamaran EXPERIMENT also distinguished herself by capsizing near Goat Island (today's Yerba Buena). All hands were rescued from her bottoms by the crew of an English ship. Yachtsmen should note this advantage off having two bottoms to cling to in case of accident."

The end of the EXPERIMENT may have been the beginning of ZARIFA. Robert Hall, a San Francisco loan officer, ordered a cat from Nathanael Herreshoff in late 1877 or early 1878. In August, 1878, Hall's new cat was disassembled in Bristol and loaded on the square rigger ABNER BENYON bound around Cape Horn for San Francisco. This cat, ultimately named ZARIFA, arrived in San Francisco in January of 1879. It is unknown if Robert Hall owned EXPERIMENT before ZARIFA as the San Francisco Yacht Club burned in 1897, and many records were lost. But it is likely to have been, as the same professional skipper, Capt. Peter Stofen of California City in Marin, crewed both EXPERIMENT and ZARIFA, and both were based out of California City.

ZARIFA quickly began sailing on San Francisco Bay and her great speed soon made her well known. On February 1, 1879, the Sacramento Daily Union reported Zarifa "has been doing some fast sailing recently, running from California City to Red Rock in 5 minutes. On Sunday last she came up and passed the steamer SAN RAPHAEL."

California City to Red Rock in 5 minutes? ZARIFA was truckin'. California City is where Paradise Cay is now located, on Marin's Tiburon Peninsula. The distance to Red Rock is 2.45 miles. Even allowing for favorable tide and exaggeration, that is still an average speed near 30 knots.

In April, 1879, ZARIFA participated in the San Francisco Yacht Club's cruise from Sausalito to Vallejo, but had to be run ashore near Point Pinole when a centerboard case started leaking. She was bailed out, and continued sailing. Watertight bulkheads were installed, but ZARIFA was built for the more gentle conditions of Long Island Sound. On San Francisco Bay ZARIFA was overpowered for sailing in the boisterous summer conditions. On June 8, 1879 she broke her mast when returning from Martinez and had to be towed home where she was again repaired. Meanwhile SFYC club members continued to puzzle how to class her and came up with the wise solution of putting her in her own catamaran class. Which led to ZARIFA "winning" her class in the August 9, 1879 regatta of the San Francisco Yacht Club ... where she was the only competitor. After this regatta ZARIFA dropped out of the public limelight.

The third and most interesting cat on SF Bay was DUSTER. DUSTER first came to the public's attention in a newspaper clipping from the Sacramento Daily Union on Sept 26, 1877. The clipping described the building of a 20' x 8' catamaran at the Monadnock Yard in Vallejo.

Though there is no definitive proof the small cat built in Vallejo was DUSTER, it seems likely. Who designed DUSTER? From the three photographs below, she looks very similar to what Nat Herreshoff was designing, right down to the centerline tiller connected by the patented cross linkage to twin rudders. The only noticeable difference between DUSTER and the bigger Herreshoff cat designs was DUSTER had a centerline centerboard rather than boards in each hull.

DUSTER certainly came to the public's attention when in 1894 she attempted to participate in the San Francisco YC's annual regatta off Sausalito. Here is what was described in the San Francisco Chronicle of Sept. 24, 1894 "... One of the most peculiar accidents ever witnessed occurred shortly after noon. The catamaran DUSTER was cavorting about the harbor having a real enjoyable time when a squall struck her opposite Hurricane gulch and turned her over. The captain who is a rare sport was out on the leeward boat with a friend of his and their united weight made the craft top heavy and over she went. The funniest part of the accident was that the men on board did not even get their feet wet. As the catamaran turned they walked up and were on the bottom when the DUSTER settled down wrong side up with care. A number of boats put out to the scene of disaster and the ROVER's dinghy was first to reach the inverted DUSTER. It only required a few minutes to right the catamaran and her sporty skipper was soon wiling away as if nothing had happened. ..."

“Sporty skipper” is right. The photograph taken off Sausalito, available through UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library, shows DUSTER in front of a crowd on the anchored motor yacht in the near background and the San Francisco Yacht Club in the far background.

Close examination of William Letts Oliver's other photos of DUSTER show that by scaling the height of the helmsman's upper body (about 3 feet) to the length of DUSTER, one can measure the overall hull length at about 20 feet. Also, you can see Angel Island in the background, as well as San Francisco's City Front and the Sausalito Ferry.

One can also see (and scale) in the third photograph of DUSTER (on display at San Francisco's Maritime Museum, that her gaff and boom lengths, and mainsail area have been increased significantly, and she is sporting a new mainsail.

Good stuff, these early catamarans. Capsizes and controversy is nothing new.

11-15-2014, 04:33 PM
On the Central California coast, not much in the way of fair weather anchorages south of Monterey Bay.

Stillwater Cove, in Carmel Bay, is one pretty place. Pastoral, protected, with white sand patches between the kelp making for a secure anchorage.

Except when its not. On a day like today, when the surf along the Monterey Peninsula's 17 Mile Drive is "double-overhead" in surfing parlance, Stillwater is less than tranquil.

1/2 mile west of Stillwater, off Pescadero Point, is a 1 fathom reef, covered by kelp. It shows on the attached chart as "breakers," and "The Pinnacles." This break is called "Ghost Trees," named after the photogenic "Scenic View" on 17 Mile Drive. The surf break just offshore is like a ghost. An entire year can go by, and you would not be able to tell there is a wave there at all. "Ghost Trees" has been dubbed a "mystery wave."

Very occasionally, in winter, when offshore buoys are reporting 20 foot swells, "Ghost Trees" goes off. When it does, it produces what is one of the largest and most dangerous swells in the world, bigger than even Mavericks. 50-60 foot high swells are not uncommon. http://www.surfline.com/video/featured-clips/ghost-tree-december-4th_12714

To surf "Ghost Trees'" giant waves requires exceptional skill, strength, and courage. And a jet ski tow-in. Since 2009, jet skis are no longer legal in the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. "Ghost Trees" has resumed its solitary status as a truly large and unrideable wave.

11-16-2014, 02:27 PM
Back in the 1970's when I was selling Hobie 16's in Big Bear Lake, the first mandatory sailing lesson, and one that came with the purchase price of the boat, was to pitchpole it and then right it again. That capsizing earned the new owners the rest of their lessons on right of ways, and finer points of sail trim. Racing was the last bit as it was illegal to race on the lake. We called out the time and had jackrabbit starts, quickly dispersing whenever the lake patrol approached. Our course chart was a board with a long string on a tree at the beachhead where we launched... it had a crude outline of the lake, and nails for each of the patrol's 5 mile markers. The race captain wound the string around the markers to show which we'd round and in what direction. Now that the lake is no longer owned by the Orange Growers below the dam, big cat regattas are a regular summer feature. The controversy part still today is who has right of way, a fisherman towing a line or a catamaran.

11-17-2014, 10:42 AM
I highly recommend to all SSS sailors, potential SHTP entrants and anyone interested in ocean weather: its history, patterns, instruments, and forecasting, the free MOOC online course, listed below, opening today. MOOC stands for "Massive Open Online Course"

Enrollment is easy, and this weather class is self paced and can be followed at one's own speed. Recommended is some prior basic familiarity with meteorology and five hours/week of study. But anyone with some sailing skills will already be "hands on". The course, even though taught by professional sailors, routers, and weathermen, is NOT intimidating. I wish I would have had this material so readily available as a kid.

I have begun the class, and must say the instructors, material, and visuals are most excellent, fun, and easy to follow. Grading is optional. But passing a multiple choice, 15 question, quiz is required to advance to the next "module." (6)

The MOOC class is called "STRATEGIES FOR WINNING. Meteorology in a Round-The-World Regatta." It is offered by the Canvas Network. (http:canvas.net) and registration and class info can be found here: https://www.canvas.net/courses/strategies-for-winning-meteorology-in-a-round-the-world-regatta

11-19-2014, 09:01 AM
8th of August, 1996, about 1015, near position 05-03 S x 165-42 W, WILDFLOWER and I were southbound Palmyra to Vava'u, Tonga, under #4, staysail, and one reef in the main. Pleasant conditions, beam reaching at 6 knots in 15-20 knot Easterly trades.

I'd been messing below with the SSB, loading a wx fax, and decided to stick my head topsides for some air. Looking aft, I didn't see it at first. But there to port, less than 1/4 mile away, was an all white ship, about 150 feet long, steaming towards us at about 15 knots.

No numbers, no name, no flags, no crew visible. I jumped for the windvane release and began handsteering, trying to figure if the ship was changing course, and if we would pass ahead, astern, or not at all. I threw off the preventer and made sure the the jib sheets were ready to run.

The ship didn't seem to alter, and was now about 100 yards abeam, closing quickly. I luffed to close hauled to pass astern. The ship, likely an Asian fishboat, still with no identifiable crew, on deck or on the bridge, swept by about 50 yards ahead and continued due West.

Two vessels on an otherwise empty horizon on collision course. It's the ones you don't see will get ya.

Sobering story about 4 fold increase in shipping in the last 20 years below. Interesting to note on attached satellite photo that almost all shipping to/from Panama to Asia commutes on the Great Circle Route, not too far west of the California Coast.

Meanwhile, last Saturday, in our own Oakland Estuary, 3 containers were dropped overboard while being unloaded, and floated around for a while before being corraled. For the ambitious, you too could tie up to a container for a nap, ala Robert Redford.

11-20-2014, 03:21 PM
Problem: WILDFLOWER's Camp Chef 2 burner propane stove uses disposable, 1 pound, screw on propane cylinders. They last about 5-6 hours, always seem to run out at dinner time, rust in the bilge, and can't be recycled.

Solution: Buy a refillable, 20 pound propane tank and hook it up to the stove. The 20 pound tank holds enough fuel for a summer's worth of cooking. A new tank cost $30 at Home Depot. I also bought a 10 gallon, Rubbermaid, water cooler for $45. The 20 pound propane tank sits snugly inside the water cooler for airtight stowage below decks. (I don't want to stow the propane tank on deck).

To adapt the 20 pound tank to the camp stove, I bought a 5' conversion hose for $25 at Outdoor World. Also a 1/4" mini-ball valve with On/Off lever; two 1/4" hose barbs for the ball valve; and hose clamps at Orchard Supply, all for $19.

I spray painted the orange water cooler brown, and drilled a 1/2" hole through the side for the 1/2" propane hose. I cut the hose 2' feet from the tank, inserted it through the hole in the water cooler, then installed the hose barbs into the cut ends of the hose, attached hose clamps, and connected them to the ball valve.

The 20 pound propane tank now stows inside the watercooler, lashed about 6 feet aft of the stove. The propane can be turned On/Off at both the stove and the nearby ball valve. The propane tank is insulated from the interior of the boat. The installation took about 4 hours. Of further benefit is the water cooler's spigot, with which I can check to see if there is any propane accumulation.

The whole set up cost about $120. West Marine sells a similar enclosure for $1,619.

11-20-2014, 03:30 PM
Yaaaay! Skip! You have the BEST ideas!

11-21-2014, 10:33 AM
Just when I'd thought all local Monterey Bay flora and fauna has been cataloged, along comes first ever video of the deep sea "Black Seadevil," or Anglerfish, 2,000 feet down, recently caught on camera by scientists with the Monterey Bay Area Research Institute.

Female Anglerfish can eat fish of a larger size. To lure prey in the ocean's darkness, she dangles a luminescent orb of enticing shapes from a “fishing rod” on her forehead.


11-22-2014, 11:05 AM
End of an era at Santa Cruz Harbor. R.I.P. Mustafa, the "Turk." Friend to all, especially children, travelers, and the underdog.

Mustafa lived an adventuresome life and had a lifelong love of the Sea. He was born 1928 on the Island of Biga off the Dardanell Straights between Greece & Turkey. He was a boat builder, fisherman, hard hat sponge diver in the Black Sea, soldier in the Turkish Calvary, and traveled the World as a seaman on merchant ships.

Settling in Santa Cruz more than 50 years ago, Mustafa worked for the Harbor and could fix about anything. Despite his small stature, Mustafa was an "enforcer" of what was right, and you didn't mess with him.

Mustafa's story telling is legendary, especially spinning yarns about his childhood near Istanbul.

In fair weather, you could see Mustafa sailing his red sailed, lateen rigged, dory FATIMA out beyond the Santa Cruz surfline, then rowing home as the Easterly dropped away. FATIMA was named after his late, beloved wife.

They don't make many Mustafas anymore. Sail on, Our Friend.

11-25-2014, 09:18 AM
It is ironic, in a way, that an ill advised and under prepared trans-ocean voyage ultimately led to Thanksgiving, the most festive of American of holidays.

When the 100' MAYFLOWER left Plymouth, England, Sept. 6, 1620, 394 years ago, she would never have passed a Singlehanded TransPac inspection. Certainly there were 10 heavy cannon, muskets and powder aboard, as well as dogs and cats, sheep, pigs, and chickens. There was a compass and hourglass for navigation. But basically MAYFLOWER was a leaky, ill provisioned, unweatherly, and worn out 3-masted, square rigged ship.

Aboard MAYFLOWER were 102 passengers and 30 crew. The passengers, mostly English religious Separatists called Pilgrims, had chartered MAYFLOWER to escape religious persecution and begin new lives in the New World. Among the passengers were many children and their parents.

Leaving England in early September to sail west across the Atlantic against prevailing winds and autumnal gales would have modern day weather routers cross eyed. That MAYFLOWER was able to successfully cross the Atlantic in 66 days with only two lives lost (and one birth) is a minor miracle for a ship that could barely sail a beam reach and whose remaining structural integrity had begun to fail.

MAYFLOWER's voyage was only the beginning of an iconic story of survival in Early American history as well as a symbol of early European colonization of the future United States.

MAYFLOWER was bound for the Hudson River. On her northerly crossing (no downwind, tradewind route for this crew) MAYFLOWER made a brief stop in Newfoundland to resupply. Sailing down the East Coast, MAYFLOWER fetched up at Cape Cod in a southerly gale. On November 11, 1620, with mutinous crew and passengers, captain Christopher Jones diverted into a protected anchorage inside Provincetown Hook, on the NW corner of Cape Cod.

Deprivation was only just beginning for the MAYFLOWER complement. On November 27, Jones and 33 crew set off in MAYFLOWER's small boat to explore southward on Cape Cod for a suitable settlement site. They were unprepared for freezing temperatures and snow on the ground.

To survive, MAYFLOWER's expeditionary force looted Native American storage sites of corn and beans. The locals were not happy, and a meeting between the MAYFLOWER crew and the local Nauset tribe at First Encounter Beach went badly. In early December it was decided to set sail from Cape Cod and seek more habitable country, 20 miles across Cape Cod Bay, near today's Plymouth.

On December 19, 1620, a haggered landing party first set foot on Clark's Island (not Plymouth Rock) in Plymouth Harbor. Illness and death were beginning to overtake members of MAYFLOWER's crew. Being so late in the year, with snow on the ground, and uncertain relations with the local Native Americans, MAYFLOWER's crew remained onboard through a harsh and miserable winter. Half the total complement of 130 died, most of scurvy, pneumonia, tuberculosis, or just plain freezing to death. Many of the children became orphans.

In late March, 1621, huts were built on the mainland shore, cannon disembarked, and the survivors began to move ashore. On April 6, captain Jones, with a skeleton crew, set sail on MAYFLOWER to return to England, leaving the remaining Pilgrims to fend for themselves in their little fortress.

The tradition of the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving is steeped in myth and legend. To celebrate their first harvest, sometime between September and October, 1621, the Pilgrims invited at least 90 members of local Native American tribes, and held a five day celebratory feast of the now traditional Thanksgiving menu of corn, turkey and duck, venison, squash, pumpkin pie, and fruits and vegetables. Mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes had not yet arrived from Europe, and were to come later.

It wasn't until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln finally made Thanksgiving a national holiday in late November, possibly to correlate with the date of the first anchoring of MAYFLOWER at Cape Cod.

Happy Thanksgiving, All, and may your families and little ships be blessed with Goodwill..


11-25-2014, 11:45 AM
As always, beautifully written and with a unique perspective. Comparing the provisioning of the Mayflower with NORC/SSS requirements! That is very amusing. Thank you, Skip. Best wishes to you during this quintessential American holiday.

11-25-2014, 01:33 PM
Thank you Skip. I enjoy reading your 'blog' entries. Interesting subjects, and I always learn something. In the case of the Mayflower tale, I’ll refrain from projecting my senses; I doubt it was a pleasant environment. But the story does make me more thankful for my particular slice of life’s turkey. Steve

11-27-2014, 09:45 AM
In this week in 1826, Capt. Frederick Beechley of the Royal Navy and the crew of the HMS BLOSSOM, located, surveyed, named, and charted Blossom Rock in San Francisco Bay. Beechley's surveying showed Blossom Rock to lie 2/3rds of the distance between today's Treasure Island and San Francisco's City Front, right in the path of ships servicing a growing San Francisco, then the 10th largest city in the United States.

In modern times, Blossom Rock is covered 39 feet, and marked by a green bell buoy, “BR”, we are all familiar with as a race turning mark. Plenty of water for RAGTIME and JETSTREAM to round safely. But it wasn't always so. In Beechley's time, Blossom Rock measured 100 'x 190', with a least depth of 5'. Currents ripped there, and the 19th century marker buoy regularly drug off station.

On his chart, Beechley's noted two “navigation trees,” two especially large redwoods on the distant ridge of the Oakland Hills, near today's Skyline Blvd. Beechley wrote in his log that in order to miss the Blossom Rock, one should line up the northern tip of Yerba Buena Island with "two trees...south of Palos Colorados...too conspicuous to be overlooked." The distance from Blossom Rock to these trees was 10 miles, which attests to their size. Historical records indicate that the redwoods in this area ranged up to 20 feet or more in diameter.

Today, there is a bronze plate at the Madrone Picnic Area, in Roberts Regional Park, off Skyline, marking the location of Beechley's historic “navigation trees.”

Unfortunately, the navigation redwoods were logged about 1851, exacerbating the danger of Blossom Rock. Something had to be done, and it was.

In early 1869, 8 days of experimenting with 175 lb. dynamite charges began. The charges were lowered into crevices in Blossom Rock and detonated. But little rock was displaced.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers then drew the plans (attached below) for underwater tunnels to be dug into Blossom Rock, where blasting charges would be placed. A contract was let June 16, 1869, a bid accepted for $75,000 from mechanical engineer Alexis Von Schmidt, and Von Schmidt's work crew began tunneling into Blossom Rock in October, 1869.

The engineering and logistics used by Von Schmidt for demolishing Blossom were amazing. First came the construction of a wooden vertical crib and coffer dam (caisson) that was placed on top of the rock from a specially built barge,

With the caisson in place, Von Schmidt pumped the Bay water out, leaving the top of Blossom Rock bare. However, water seeped into the caisson from underneath. Cement and sand were then thrown into the caisson, sealing out the water. An iron cylinder, 6 feet in diameter and 14 feet high was placed inside the caisson. More cement was poured between the inner sides of the caisson and the outer sides of the cylinder to prevent leaks.

On Dec.7, 1869, Von Schmidt began sinking a shaft into Blossom Rock from inside the cylinder. At first, there was room for only one man.The men used steel-pointed picks and sledges to remove the dirt. By the end of December, the shaft was 22 feet below the water line.

In early January, when the depth reached 30 feet, lateral excavation began. Eight miners worked in the chamber using picks as well as small amounts of blasting powder. By March, the underground chamber reached the size of 12 feet in height, 135 feet in length and 55 feet in width. Rock columns, which had been left in place to support the rock ceiling were removed and replaced with wooden timbers.

16 men could now work inside Blossom Rock and they removed 50 cubic yards of stone a day. In April, the Blossom Rock crew suffered a large earthquake, luckily with no consequences. On April 20, Von Schmidt declared the excavation complete. The moment had arrived to blow up the top of the Rock.

In the Corps of Engineer's report, Major R.S. Williamson wrote that 43,000 pounds of a nitrate of soda powder were used in various charges. The powder was placed in 38 ale-barrels with a capacity of 60 gallons each and seven old tanks made of boiler-iron. At 2 pm on April 23, 1870, most of San Francisco's populace had gathered on nearby Telegraph Hill and adjacent shoreline to witness the giant underwater explosion.

Everything went off according to schedule, and the plume of water, described as a “willow tree” in shape, reached an estimated 200'-300'.

Unfortunately for Von Schmidt, not enough of the contracted depth of 24' was created by the explosion. 1,800 lead line soundings revealed Blossom Rock had 7 “humps” whose depth was less than the 24 feet called for in Von Schmidt's contract. It was thought a loose debris field lay where the top of Blossom Rock had been.

Subsequently, Von Schmidt's crew built a giant steel rake, 8' across and weighing 2.5 tons. This rake was attached to the bottom of a barge by chains, which then raked the rock debris and leveled what remained of Blossom Rock to its contracted depth.

It is doubtful that von Schmidt made a profit from the job.

Blossom Rock was again “shaved” by explosives in 1903 and 1930, achieving its current depth.

You can't call for “sea room” on Blossom Rock. It ain't there anymore.

11-30-2014, 10:42 AM
As many may already know, the Volvo Ocean 65 TEAM VESTAS WIND yesterday grounded on Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. Fortunately, no one has been injured and the nine man crew has abandoned ship and waded across a reef, at night, to safety. Initial photos taken at daybreak by TEAM ALVIMEDICA show TEAM VESTAS WIND to be high and dry, and heavily damaged. The keel bulb has broken off and as the boat is being driven further ashore, chances of salvage diminish with each passing hour.

Props to the crew of TEAM ALVIMEDICA who quickly came to the scene and stood by in the dark, lending a huge boost to morale and radio coms. Without ALVIMEDICA nearby, things could have been even more dire. Presently, TEAM ALVIMEDICA has been released by TEAM VESTAS WIND and is back racing towards Abu Dhabi.

How a multi-million dollar race yacht, skippered and crewed by vastly experienced professionals, could slam into a 25 mile long archipelago of reefs and islands while running at 18 knots is unknown. Cargados Carajos Shoals are marked and named on my National Geographic World wall map.

TEAM VESTAS WIND had the latest in electronic navigation equipment and the experience and support to operate . Among other scenarios, unsubstantiated speculation has mentioned possible power failure aboard, or that the position of the Cargados Carajos was mischarted, or the wrong datum was entered on the chart plotter. As facts emerge, these speculations are proving ill found.

We do know another VO 65, DONGFENG, a few miles ahead of VESTAS WIND, narrowly missed the southern tip of the island and had to alter course at the last minute even though they had known its position well in advance. 15-25 knot boat speed averages get you places quickly.

It will be interesting to hear a first hand analysis of the events leading up to the loss of TEAM VESTAS WIND. Like anything of this magnitude, usually several causes come together to cause mishap. In this case I suspect distraction, miscommunication, and/or crew fatigue played a major role in "operator error."

In all the chatter, what is noteworthy beyond all comprehension is the fact TEAM VESTAS WIND's crew were able to safely abandon ship in the dead of night as their boat broke up around them. Seamanship, toughness, and heroism of the highest order.

11-30-2014, 01:28 PM
It is always so sad to see a boat high up on the rocks. I saw one, as we flew over low in a local plane, in Tonga in 1996, a Swan 48 I believe. I'd just been sailing with Skip on Wildflower the sloop, and was returning home. It doesn't take too many hours or waves to undo a proud sailboat.
Skip, thanks for keeping us informed. Another nearby team, Team Alvamedica, stopped racing and stood by close -- keeping in radio contact all night with the Vestas Wind skipper, ready to plunge in if circumstances required. They also helped the Il du Sud "coast guard" to spot the Vestas Wind boat and life rafts, so the CG could pick up the crew. Hats off to those guys, who are now back to racing, shaken and emotional they report on Twitter. For more viewing see You Tube videos put up by Team Alvamedica.
Your little sis.

12-02-2014, 09:57 AM
In today's world of hi-tech rope, knot tying skills are becoming increasingly irrelevant to younger generations. Part of the reason is that hi-tech rope like spectra is so slippery that knots don't hold well. Another reason is that knots in hi-tech rope weaken the line by up to 50% at the knot. Splicing has become the new form of knot tying, as a splice can be as strong as the line itself, and won't slip.

There is still room aboard for a "bag of tricks" of basic knots. When asked, I recommend ability to confidently tie the following: the square knot, rolling hitch, clove hitch, the bowline, and sheet bend. Also the ability to “surge” a line on a cleat, then quickly secure said line.

A useful knot for sailing offshore is the Spanish Windlass. The Spanish Windlass is used to tightly draw two objects together, especially handy when jury rigging a broken spar or tiller. A good example, one that I have personally used, is repair of a broken spinnaker pole. I straightened the pole, then made a splint (in my case using a windsurfer mast) and laid the splint alongside the break in the pole. I then tightened the splint with multiple Spanish Windlasses and was back using the broken spinnaker pole in less than an hour.

To tie a Spanish Windlass first loop a miscellaneous length of line around the two objects to be drawn together. Secure the line (a square knot will do) in a loop.
Insert a lever arm such as a long handled screw driver, winch handle, batten, or awning pole through the middle of the loop and begin to twist the line around itself. Each twist tightens the loop of line.

That's it. Once the Spanish Windlass is sufficiently tight, tie off the lever arm so it doesn't unspin. A quantity of 1/8” flag halyard line is handy for tying a Spanish Windlass.

I currently have a Spanish Windlass holding down the hood of my car. It never fails to illicit comment. Howard S. used a Spanish Windlass to help build a conga drum in high school wood shop. As he likes to say: "Wonderous!"

12-15-2014, 04:35 PM
That was an unexpected little Forum interlude...thanks to our Webmaster for his patience and problem solving. Happy Holidays, All.

All quiet on the Capitola front. Last Thurs, 0500, as the ballyhooed cold front approached the West Coast with its forecast storm force winds, I went out and hitched the boat to the house with a couple of mooring lines. Not because of high water, although flood warnings were in effect locally.

I've seen boats hauled in boat yards blow over when jack stands wobbled loose in big breeze.

Although WILDFLOWER's mast is stepped here in the driveway, she wasn't about to blow over. I had WILDFLOWER well tied down to the trailer.

But to preserve tire wear, I have the trailer up on blocks...

My 0500 bad dream was the the boat trailer vibrating off the blocks, and WILDFLOWER and trailer taking off on a downhill sleighride with an uncertain ending..

It never blew too hard. Steady 40 knots near shore for one hour, with a 54.3 knot gust at 0920 at the Santa Cruz Harbor. An hour later it was calm and the rain began. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of roof, driveway, and street runoff flowed into Soquel Creek and the ocean. Probably enough in one hour, that if captured, would have easily have met the City's water rationing quota.

Except to surfers, Santa Cruz Harbor Entrance is not currently passable to deep draft, low power, sailboats.

12-16-2014, 10:10 AM
Having sailed on metal boats over the years, including the aluminum hulled 58' ROXANNE, the 12 meter CONSTELLATION, the One Tonner AMERICA JANE, and the all black Mull 55 LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, I can attest to the extra secure feeling aluminum construction provides.

Aluminum has its faults. But if you are running the chance of hitting something hard, like a rock, an aluminum hull will not likely be holed. Just dented.

A few days ago the big Fish and Game aluminum catamaran STEELHEAD attempted to enter Santa Cruz Harbor. The vessel is massively powered, took off on a wave, and broached into the tip of the West Breakwater.

The surprised professional captain was able to back off the rocks, proceeded inbound to an end tie, and found the damage to the bow to be minimal, just a big dent..

We got pictures ........

12-18-2014, 07:30 PM
The age old tradition of a "tot" of grog (rum) issued at noon to Royal Navy crews was continued until 1970. Given the hardships aboard in previous centuries, presumably a drunk crew was preferable to a mutinous crew.

If conditions had been severe, orders to "splice the mainbrace" were issued, and a second round of grog was served.

Drunk sailors running mechanical equipment in the modern English Navy put an end to the practice of serving rum. Three beers were served instead.

Alcohol aboard in the British Empire was common until this week. That's when the Canadian Navy decided to ban beer onboard their ships and removed beer vending machines, theoretically available only to "off duty" crew. The new measures come after the Canadian warship HMCS WHITEHORSE was recalled from a port visit to San Diego after incidents involving inebriated crew.

Nothing like a little shanty for Holiday cheer.

12-20-2014, 12:42 PM
Happy Solstice, All!

As Howard, Rainer, Rich Gerling, and I enjoyed coffee early this morning at the Santa Cruz Harbor Kind Grind, big swells would top the breakwater, sending plumes of white water as high as the top of the 60 foot lighthouse.

Looking out at Steamer Lane, a mile to the West, long time big wave surfer Rainer pronounced the wave "faces of 20-25 feet, breaking top to bottom." It looked like they were cresting a half mile off Lighthouse Point, in the vicinity of Second Reef.

Rich Gerling recalled joining the Coast Guard during the Korean War to avoid serving in the Army. Rich grew up at Stinson Beach and lifeguarded as a kid. In the CG, Rich was put in charge of a Coast Guard self righting surfboat that patrolled outside the Golden Gate in the vicinity of the infamous Potato Patch.

As a result, Rich grew intimately familiar with wave characteristics on the South Bar and was probably one of the first and only people to surf this area when it was knarly. Rich taught multi-hull enthusiast Arthur Piver the thrill of surfing the Potato Patch under sail, and the two of them would ride monster waves on Piver's trimaran.

Piver, a WW II fighter pilot, was a dreamer of sorts. Once he saw the speeds his trimaran was making taking off on some really big waves, out near the San Francisco Lightship, Piver's mind was truly blown. So was the Lightship crew, who would launch their lifeboat and try to discourage Piver with no effect.

Arthur Piver's dream became to sail one of his designs into the Southern Ocean, take off on a 40 foot Greybeard, and ride it around the world.

50 years after Arthur Piver disappeared off the California Coast in one of his trimaran designs, today's big multi-hulls are pretty much riding Southern Ocean storm waves around the world. Maybe not quite as Piver envisioned, but 30-35 knot average boat speeds is now being achieved crossing oceans.

12-20-2014, 01:38 PM
Back in the old days, February of 1967 to be exact, a 33 year old young man arrived in Santa Cruz and began working for Jack O’Neill. 47 years later, Rich Gerling stills works for O’Neill cleaning and maintaining the O’Neill building on the beach near the Crow’s Nest.

Most of us never see Rich as he maintains odd hours and performs his work duties mostly at night when the tourists have gone home. There are hundreds of us who owe at least part of our sailing skills to Rich Gerling.

O’Neill Yacht Center used to be an active chandlery and boat dealership offering sailboat rentals and lessons. Rich worked the sales counter, assembled Hobie Cats, commissioned keel boats, performed maintenance on the store and the building, and gave sailing lessons.

Rich Gerling grew up in Marin County and spent a lot of his early days on and near Stinson Beach. Rich was a life guard back when surfing was done on a board, “dope” was airplane glue and “joint” meant jail. Rich has never been interested in drugs and alcohol and considers both to be a shameful waste of time.

Along with surfing, Rich enjoyed racing hot rods up and down Mount Tamalpias
In Rich’s day a hot rod was usually a frame off some old car with seats and a motor cobbled together from another car. There were fewer vehicles on the road back then so it was not as risky, careless or dangerous to race up and down the mountain roads with reckless abandon as it would be today.

In 1959, Rich met a guy on the Sausalito waterfront who was building trimaran sailboats. The guy asked Rich if he wanted to go for a day sail. That day sail ended up being out the Golden Gate and around the Farallon Islands and back! Rich loved the way the trimaran sailed—it was very fast, surfing waves with little effort and there was no “tipping.”

Rich and Art Piver hit it off right away and Rich decided that afternoon that he was going to build one of these “funny, little boats.” Art built boats to his own designs and he made them using resin and fiberglass over plywood which was fairly modern in the early 1960s. Art shared a set of plans with Rich for a 24-footer, called a Piver Nugget.

Just out of the US Coast Guard and still attending the Academy of Art in San Francisco, Rich was very open to the adventure. Rich spent the next 14 months attending classes, working for the State Parks Service and building his little 24-foot Nugget. He christened it TRIUMPH.

It was 1961 and Piver had a plan to follow the Transpac fleet to Hawaii in his 35 foot, Lodestar to promote his boat designs. Rich’s parents supported his decision to sail his own 24-footer to Hawaii following Piver. Just a few days before his departure to San Pedro a guy named Ned Dwyer showed up at the waterfront with a guitar, a few cans of tuna and a jar of peanut butter. Rich enjoyed music, thought tuna was OK and he loved peanut butter. An instant friendship formed and Ned signed on to sail to Hawaii with Rich.

Both of them were novice sailors and they basically learned how to sail and how to navigate along the way. Just a few hours after the start of the Transpac, TRIUMPH
lost her leeward float hatch off the West End of Catalina Island. Rich and Ned turned back to Los Angeles to make a new one. Consequently, they lost two days and in addition, their passage to Hawaii was slow. The Oakland and San Francisco newspapers erroneously reported Rich and Ned missing and the US Coast Guard launched a search mission for both Piver and for Rich.

Piver had sailed too far into the Pacific High. Art had also over-hyped his trip before the start declaring that he could make the passage in just seven days. He showed up in Hawaii after 14 days reporting his only “emergency” was running out of chocolate cookies.

Rich and Ned showed up five days later. While they were “missing” they were, in fact, having the time of their lives. They had sailed out of the High and were experiencing beautiful sunsets and line squalls that left them surfing down giant, green swells during the day and silvery, moonlit swells at night.

TRIUMPH arrived in Honolulu with her crew wondering what all the fuss was about. Rich recently told me that when they arrived, officials and reporters were waiting to question and interview them. This did not upset Rich as much as his missing the hula girls and parties that greeted all of the official racing boats in typical Transpac fashion.

At the end of the summer Rich sold his boat in Hawaii and returned to the Bay Area. He went to work building boats with Piver. The two of them built a 38-foot tri named
BIRD which they shipped to Florida. Next they built Piver’s 33-foot, STILETTO, and sailed her from San Francisco to Florida though the Panama Canal. This was in the early 1960s before trimarans were well-proven and generally accepted. These guys were among the earliest pioneers of multi-hull sailing on the West Coast.

More on Rich Gerling and Art Piver ahead.

12-21-2014, 09:12 AM
Art Piver’s plywood trimarans were light, strong, and fast. One of the few times I’ve heard Rich brag is when he tells how he and Piver, just the two of them, lifted the main hull of the 33 foot STILETTO off a frame jig.

After a few years of boatbuilding Rich developed resin poisoning, got very sick, and had to stop working with Art Piver. This is when he decided to come to Santa Cruz in 1967.

Rich knew Jack O’Neill from San Francisco. He surfed with O’Neill when Jack had two eyes and a small surf shop on San Francisco's Ocean Beach.

The wetsuit wasn’t yet invented and Jack was experimenting with ways to keep warm in the cold Pacific Ocean waters. One method that failed was wearing a wool sweater under a rubber t-shirt. Jack’s experimentations eventually led him to use a surplus material leftover from the US Navy called neoprene, but that’s a whole other story, how Rich's friend Jack O'Neill invented the wet suit...

In the early days, O’Neill Yacht Center took up the entire bottom floor of the O’Neill building at Santa Cruz Harbor's East Beach. They sold boating supplies, Pearson Yachts, Hobie Cats and other new and used boats. Jack bought three Pearson Ensigns to use as rental boats and for sailing lessons.

Rich became one of Jack O'Neill's sailing instructors. O’Neill sailing students never got to use auxiliary power. They were taught to sail in and out of the slip regardless of wind and weather conditions. I’m sure Rich had something to do with that. Rich had little use for motors on sailboats.

The Ensign is well-balanced and many times in the 1970s you’d see Rich sailing on a Wednesday Night sitting on one of the mast spreaders, steering by leaning his weight to windward or to leeward.

At 6’2” with a deep salt water tan, barrel chest, bushy eyebrows, and a child’s twinkle in his eye, Rich could flirt (and still does) with any young lady.

In 1967 Rich bought a brand new Volkswagen van. That model year came with a 1600cc, dual port engine and disc brakes. Some VW enthusiasts will tell you it was the best year ever. Rich towed Hobie Cats back from LA in that van, slept in it at times, used it to launch and retrieve Ensigns at the launch ramp and drove the heck out of it. That same van served him until about 1997. Ten engines later, with over 1 million miles on the frame, and countless rolls of duct tape holding it together, that old van was fully used up by the time Rich gave it away.

Rich loves art and music and is an outstanding self taught musician, probably one of the best flautists and flute technicians on the Pacific Coast. He used to take a flute up the coast at low tide, climb into a sea cave and play. He always said it was better if there were sea lions in there to listen to him.

These days, as he has for many years, Rich volunteers as a music teacher for kids at Shoreline Middle School. He supports the middle school music program by moving equipment, tutoring students, fixing instruments, setting up concerts or building stage equipment, always for free. Rich collects bottles and cans for recycling, turning them into money that he uses to fix the instruments that the school system won’t. It’s not unusual for Rich to have dozens of bags of recycling piled up in his storage unit waiting to be turned into guitar strings, sheet music stands or reeds for the wind instruments.

Rich continues as maintenance and janitor at O'Neill's. He does not have a fixed address, but is not homeless. Rich just lives a different lifestyle, and his home is Santa Cruz, Planet Earth.

Quirky, caring, funny, and non-judgmental, Rich is the perfect big brother for young students and friend to all who take the time to introduce themselves. Carefree, kind, unassuming, tuned into nature and good to his word are a few other things that come to mind when I think of Rich Gerling.

And, next time you’re up the coast and hear flute music coming from a sea cave,
climb in, introduce yourself and you’ll meet one of the most interesting people I know.

12-24-2014, 09:58 AM
Christmas past in a foreign port. From WILDFLOWER's 1986-1987 Log:

Dec. 25 Isla Partida/ Espirtu Santo, MX. With passage of yesterday's cold front, we are tucked well up into the west portion of the Bay, 2 anchors to windward in 20'. Cold/ gusty from the northwest, 10-25..

As the eastern sky began to brighten, I rigged the Windsurfer with the 52(sq.feet.), donned red foulies, sea boots, and Santa's cap. Have a bunch of kid's presents aboard, never knowing what Mexican village we might anchor off.

0700 Filled the red Murphy and Nye sailbag with gifts, slung it over my shoulder, and took off across the Bay. There are about a dozen cruising boats anchored nearby, at least 7 w/ kids aboard.

As the sun rose over the red cliffs, I could see sleepy eyes peering out through cabin windows. Pretty soon, kids heads would pop out a hatch. "Mommy, Daddy, Santa's windsurfing!!

Careful to avoid whirring wind generators, I'd drop my mast and coast alongside to deliver presents...."HO HO HO Merry Christmas."

12-24-2014, 10:18 AM
I can sure see you doing that Sled. A happy Christmas to you!

12-24-2014, 01:06 PM
Weather comes, and weather goes. I happen to like my weather in color. A Christmas present to SSS friends: www.windyty.com is a tool that shows a living, breathing, delicious view of the world's wind patterns, both local and trans-ocean and forecasts along with optional overlays for everything from pressure, temperature, to humidity.

Windyty.com is both beautiful and useful. If I were a '15 LongPacker, I'd have Windyty in my weather arsenal. Did I mention I like color?

I'm not sure who recently created Windyty.com. But it is free, and one of those special things to be found on the Internet. http://vimeo.com/112849132

Thanks, VIXEN, in Sparks, NV. for your lead.

12-25-2014, 12:12 PM
Christmas past in a foreign port. From WILDFLOWER's 1986-1987 Log:

Dec. 25 Isla Partida/ Espirtu Santo, MX. With passage of yesterday's cold front, we are tucked well up into the west portion of the Bay, 2 anchors to windward in 20'. Cold/ gusty from the northwest, 10-25..

As the eastern sky began to brighten, I rigged the Windsurfer with the 52(sq.feet.), donned red foulies, sea boots, and Santa's cap. Have a bunch of kid's presents aboard, never knowing what Mexican village we might anchor off.

0700 Filled the red Murphy and Nye sailbag with gifts, slung it over my shoulder, and took off across the Bay. There are about a dozen cruising boats anchored nearby, at least 7 w/ kids aboard.

As the sun rose over the red cliffs, I could see sleepy eyes peering out through cabin windows. Pretty soon, kids heads would pop out a hatch. "Mommy, Daddy, Santa's windsurfing!!

Careful to avoid whirring wind generators, I'd drop my mast and coast alongside to deliver presents...."HO HO HO Merry Christmas."

Oh for a GoPro back then! And I'll bet you could do it again today, albeit a bit more carefully. Thank you for the smile, Skip! And Merry Christmas to you.

12-25-2014, 05:32 PM
Have anchored there several times, so easy to visualize your friendly antics, Skip. Merry Christmas from Harrier.

12-27-2014, 02:16 AM
Love your ingenuity Skip. Same place a year later. We gave a bit of attitude adjustment to some local marauding teenagers who hand paddled out in the dark to our little CHAUTAUQUA. We surprised them with Banjo and Mando picking just as they were thinking we were not aboard, and instead invited them aboard. Sang songs with them, plied them with hot chocolate, cookies and oranges.... sent them back in their leaky dingy humming xmas carols. We all pretended that they had just come out to wish us a happy holiday.

12-27-2014, 02:26 PM
As kids, our father taught us coastal navigation. We learned to use a magnetic compass, WW II binoculars, parallel rules, a divider, and a mechanical Kenyon knotmeter that was a 6" bronze lever sticking out of the bottom of the L-36. Water pressure pressed the lever back against a spring that rotated a needle on a 10 knot scale on the back of the cabin. We learned anything the needle registered above 6 was "going good."

Later, we got an Apelco depth sounder that blinked a light on a calibrated circular window telling the depth. But the blinking light could rotate the window multiple times, and you never exactly knew if you were reading 60', 120', or 180'.

The first electronic "instrument" aboard HOLIDAY was an RDF (Radio Direction Finder). We learned to take a bearing on Point Loma or Point Arguello, and then a cross bearing on KFI on Mt. Wilson, or KBIG near Avalon. Radio Direction Finder bearings are none to accurate, with a 10-15 degree "null" being the norm.

LORAN, SatNav, and GPS were still in the future.

So we learned to hourly plot fixes, and estimated positions using DED Reckoning (Deduced, depth, and the bearing of prominent coastal features taken over the top of the steering compass.

Paper charts to us kids were like gold, with all sorts of possible coves to explore in the rowing dinghy. We learned to properly fold paper charts, to always measure distance from the side of the chart, and to always use the inner Compass Rose for dialing magnetic courses.

Paper charts are rapidly falling away. I have paper charts of much of the World, collected over years of sailor's garage sales and discarded commercial ship charts. Outdated paper charts are now more often used by the sailing public for Christmas present wrapping than actual plotting.

It's a whole new World of electronic navigation, one I'm not yet comfortable with, and may never be. I received a colorful 3" diameter World globe Christmas ornament. The Christmas ornament globe shows St.Brandon Island and the Cargados Carajos shoals, a 25 mile long archipelago of sand banks, shoals, reefs, and islets located near 16-32 S x 59-32 E in the West Indian Ocean.

WILDFLOWER's new Si-Tex SVS-460 Chartplotter, complete with internal GPS, Navionics World cartography, and 15 levels of Zoom, fails to show any land, reefs, or shoals at Cargados Carajos. Just a nice blue stretch of clear sailing, even at the highest level of zoom. http://www.defender.com/product.jsp?path=-1|344|2028688|2028743&id=2640139

I have mixed feelings of sympathy for the professional skipper, navigator, and crew of the Volvo Ocean Race 65 TEAM VESTAS WIND. Had they pulled out their paper chart, stowed under the nav station, and plotted even one fix, something we learned as kids, they would have seen the Cargados Carajos reefs up ahead.

TEAM VESTAS WIND's Navigator Wouter Verbaak relied on his electronic charts on his two computers. Nobody checked him. They ran their multi-million dollar race boat onto Cargados Carajos at night at 18 knots, narrowly avoiding loss of life.

The full story is yet to come out. But I'm betting Navionics is hustling to put the Cargados Carajos shoals on all their chart updates, at all Zoom levels. I'll loan them my Christmas ornament.

If you are crossing oceans, or using electronic charts for coastal navigation, what you see isn't always what you get. I'll bet there are hundreds, if not thousands of uncharted hazards waiting to be accurately painted onto electronic charts.

Caveat Emptor.

12-27-2014, 03:52 PM
Amen to that, Skip! First time I made a 3000nm passage to Nuku Hiva I had a compass, sextant, wrist watch, a Radio Shack recvr which gave me time hacks and some aural weather. 30 days after departing LA, the island showed up as expected at 1 o'clock off my bow. Oh, and I had a complete set of charts for the various South Pacific islands I planned to visit. Nice to see that island show up as it was supposed to! There are some shoals north of the Marquesas that were on my charts. I wonder if they are on the electronic gizmos...???

12-27-2014, 05:00 PM
Hi, HARRIER! WF's mini-chartplotter would likely get me safely to the Marquesas. But sailing back from Fr.Polynesia to Hawaii without paper might could be dicey. The installed Navionics cartography takes six levels of zoom before either Caroline Island (9-52.356 S x 150-05.500 W) or Flint Island (11-22.423 S x 151-42.932 W) appears at the 25 mile scale. Neither is named.

On paper, Int. Chart 607, of SE French Polynesia, Caroline and Flint are both charted and named on the 1:3,500,000 Scale (1,200 mile)

Caroline is an interesting place to visit, with a reef anchorage seldom visited by yachties. I'd hate to be shipwrecked there. Coconuts but no water. Plenty of crabs and sharks.

Closer to home, if you were sailing well offshore down the Baja Coast, you might encounter Rocas Alijos. These spectacular volcanic islets arise suddenly from 1,000' depths. The top of an ancient volcano, the Alijos have been charted since 1598, but no one even tried to climb the 111' South Alijos until 1990.

I believe SSS supporter Sue, of CLOUD, has dived at Rocas Alijos, so she would know what that's like. As for me, on my Navionics "Gold" North America Chart Card, Rocas Alijos don't show up until zooming in 9 levels, at the 1 mile scale. Ouch. Better take an AAA road map if sailing without paper charts down the Baja. AAA knows the whereabouts of Rocas Alijos.

12-27-2014, 07:23 PM
Roger on Rocas Alijos. I've usually plotted them and then steered well away. Just for entertainment, I once deliberately steered to approach them closely and was able to get a good look. Supposed to be good diving, but I saw no way to anchor so I could try it out. Happy New Year from South Carolina to all my Calif sailing friends!

H Spruit
12-28-2014, 07:15 AM
Well, it seams obvious that the electronic age has not yet reached perfection needed for us to hang our lives on it. I remember even in TV's "STAR TRECK" series that they often experienced glitches in their technology.

So I keep reminding myself that all that glitters is not GOLD.

Slokum wrote; "The beaches of the world are lined with wrecked boats who's navigators new exactly where they were!"

12-28-2014, 11:21 AM
Capt. Bob, of Haleiwa, Hawaii, has near a million miles at sea as Merchant Marine officer and captain, ocean racing navigator par excellence, and delivery skipper. Most of those miles were sailed in the Eastern Pacific.

Capt. Bob is a student of ocean currents and weather. At sea his ships would make voluntary weather reports to NOAA weather forecasters every six hours, 4x/day.

This Volunteer Observing Ship program (VOS) distributes ship weather observations internationally to meteorologists for weather forecasting, to oceanographers, ship routing services, fishermen, and many others.

Observations from ships form the basis of marine weather forecasts in coastal, offshore and high seas areas, and are included in weather fax and GRIB forecasts.

During passages across the Pacific, Capt. Bob would launch messages in bottles, logging date and position. Many bottles were found and messages returned, primarily from the Philippines, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii.

Capt. Bob just received a Christmas present. A bottle he dropped 6/01/00, 14 years ago, was found Christmas eve on the Kahului Breakwater, Maui, 1,400 miles southwest from where it was launched at position 33 N x 135 W.

Capt. Bob does not know how many laps of the Pacific Gyre the Kahului bottle made, or whether it spent much of its life drifting in the Pacific High as a home for barnacles, crabs, halobates' eggs, and other marine organisms.

Halobates are pelagic water striders that live on the ocean's surface in the Pacific High. Halobates never touch land, can't fly or swim. But they do walk on the water's surface and serve as food for crabs and for petrels and other oceanic birds.

Messages in bottles are a slow, age old method of communication. Capt. Bob may never meet the finders of his messages. But the personal touch of his letters makes the world feel a bit more connected.

What Capt. Bob does know is a winter's passage to/from Hawaii is not always a cakewalk, even on an 860 foot ship. The below photo was taken during recent stormy conditions on the West Coast. The camera was approximately 80' off the water.

12-29-2014, 12:10 PM
For those of us in the SF Bay Area/Central CA Coast, we have a fast moving, dry, cold, windy, storm front coming through town tomorrow, Tuesday through Wed. a.m.

A strong NE/SW gradient is setting up from the Great Basin down to Southern CA. You don't often see a 1058 millibar (31.24 inches) high pressure on West Coast Weather Fax maps.

High winds aloft will mix down to the surface. 30 knots near shore and in unprotected areas of the Bay.

Rose Parade royalty will be a bit chilly as the Parade gets underway.

Tie halyards away from masts, secure kitties, and bolt your socks on. "She's a comin' onto blow, doggies."

12-30-2014, 12:01 AM
I believe SSS supporter Sue, of CLOUD, has dived at Rocas Alijos, so she would know what that's like. As for me, on my Navionics "Gold" North America Chart Card, Rocas Alijos don't show up until zooming in 9 levels, at the 1 mile scale. Ouch. Better take an AAA road map if sailing without paper charts down the Baja. AAA knows the whereabouts of Rocas Alijos.

Hello Sled,

That photo looks like a nasty day at Rocos Alijos. Thank you for remembering; you are correct. Sue (double-handed crew on DAZZLER and now CLOUD) was part of a scientific field expedition to Rocas Alijos in 1990. They looked (for pretty much the first time) at all aspects of the geology, flora and fauna and above and below the surface including fielding a team to climb the South and Central spires. All together Sue and the other divers did over 180 dives to observe and record. The results are in a scientific monograph. In more recent times, Sue and I have made two trips to dive at the Revillagigedo Islands (south of Rocas Alijos) and to dive at Roca Partida. It’s most striking that these rocks look from a distance much like sailing vessels. The Captains of the Manila Galleon fleet even called them “rocks that look like ships under sail.”

With the grounding of VESTAS WIND, there has been much speculation about the use of depth sounder alarms as an early warning. It is worth noting that not far from Roca Partida the depth is 10-12,000 feet! The pinnacle has almost vertical faces that drop to around 200 feet before dropping into the abyss. It’s extremely unlikely that a depth sounder alarm would be of any use.

Roca Partida with Sue off to the right.

Tom & Sue

12-30-2014, 11:12 AM
Welcome Back, Tom and Sue of CLOUD! I'm sure SSS acquaintances, including myself, will be interested in your new boat and how you got her cross country.

CLOUD's story of being the first to research Rocas Alijos is fascinating. You don't just drop anchor in a quiet cove.

CLOUD's photo of Roca Partida is also interesting. To think this 300' long, 3.5 acre (1953 survey) rock comes up vertically from the depths. You could whimsically put your fenders out and raft up to Roca Partida on a calm day....

Roca Partida is the smallest of 4 islands of Mexico's Revillagigedo Archipelago, 860 miles southeast of San Diego and 260 miles southward of Cabo San Lucas. It is the remnant of a very old volcano, the summit eroded by wave action. Currently the volcano is dormant. But others in the area of the Revillagigedo Islands are active, and occasionally large rocks and sulphurous bubbles are shot to the surface during undersea eruptions, especially near Socorro and San Benedicto.

Roca Partida was originally sighted by Spanish explorer Lopez de Villalobos in 1542, 25 years after Magellan's circumnavigation. Roca Partida was first charted by Captain Colnett, Royal Navy, in 1793. The U.S.S. NARAGANSETT survey in 1874 was used on all U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office Charts. Scientific studies in '53,'55, and '57 by Scripps Institute resulted in accurate charting of Roca Partida and soundings of the surrounding shelf. The first known landing on Roca Partida was by the 1953 Scripp's expedition.

I have many paper charts showing Roca Partida, most notably "Pacific Coast of the United States and Mexico." Roca Partida's approximate charted position is 19 N x 112 W depending what paper chart and correction date is used. My 1994 National Geographic World wall map shows and names Roca Partida. Google Earth shows a graphical outline of Roca Partida at about the same position from 83 miles up, but no actual rock distinguishable in the satellite photo.

Darned if my new little chart plotter makes any mention, hint, or charting of Roca Partida, all the way to 15 levels of zoom and a half/mile scale on either Navionics or C-Map cartography. It does not. The closest the chart gets is a 298' sounding on C-Map at position 19-01.478 N x 112-03.614 W.

I would be curious if any online explorers can find Roca Partida "electronically" on their chart plotter, or by other means? We know it's there. Tom and Sue have swum around it.

12-30-2014, 08:33 PM
For those of us in the SF Bay Area/Central CA Coast, we have a fast moving, dry, cold, windy, storm front coming through town tomorrow, Tuesday through Wed. a.m.

A strong NE/SW gradient is setting up from the Great Basin down to Southern CA. You don't often see a 1058 millibar (31.24 inches) high pressure on West Coast Weather Fax maps.

High winds aloft will mix down to the surface. 30 knots near shore and in unprotected areas of the Bay.

Rose Parade royalty will be a bit chilly as the Parade gets underway.

Tie halyards away from masts, secure kitties, and bolt your socks on. "She's a comin' onto blow, doggies."

Yikes! I went down to the Berkeley Marina to add a spring line from Dura Mater's stern to the dock: poor thing, she has an upwind slip but the wind was coming hard from the north, shoving her against the dock. As I walked down the ramp to O dock all the boats' masts leaned hard to the south. It was an arresting sight. When I stepped aboard Dura Mater the wind gusted to 33.9 knots (yep! I checked the OCSC site afterwards!) and almost knocked me overboard. Pretty exciting. I hope Cheryl the harborgirl didn't have to go out and save anybody tonight. She's good with those big power boats, but it is no night to be on the water.

12-30-2014, 11:11 PM

I spoke this evening with Cheryl, the Berkeley Harbor Mistress. She said it was quite a day at the Marina, and the strong wind had an unusual direction, NE, which meant most boats were not tied up well for breeze from that direction. But everything was OK, and she was home safely in Pacifica with her three pups.

We had a couple of 45 knot gusts here at Santa Cruz about 2 pm. HS and I were outdoors working on a new addition to the Harbor Cafe patio and standing on ladders when a puff came through. That got our attention.

It should be a balmy 2 degrees F tomorrow evening for the fireworks at Tahoe S. Shore. Revelers will be mixing anti-freeze with their champagne down by the Lake.

12-31-2014, 11:14 AM
Welcome Back, Tom and Sue of CLOUD! I'm sure SSS acquaintances, including myself, will be interested in your new boat and how you got her cross country.

Tom and Sue, does CLOUD look anything like this little beauty?

12-31-2014, 11:15 AM
The Big Breeze of yesterday afternoon and last night is on its way out of town, with gusts in Santa Cruz down to 25 knots at sunrise. During the night, trash cans were skittering down the street, to the obvious delight of our local population of skunks and raccoons.

1.5 hour power outage this morning.

I had the boat tied to the house and truck. 800 pounds and with the surface area of a Cessna, I didn't want any surprises. I did see several 100 foot palm trees bending 30 degrees. The usual quota of blown down fences.

The pressure gradient causing this wind is rarely seen. Washington State had many new pressure records. At Sea-Tac Airport the pressure reached 1045.5 millibars, or 30.87 inches, an all time high. The average is 1013 millibars, or 29.91 inches.

Californians around the state are about to learn the difference between a "freeze," and a "hard freeze." In weather terminology, the latter pertains to temps 28 degrees or below for extended periods, and capable of bursting water pipes, conditions that will be seen in the Central Valley and protected valleys in the foothills and along the coast.

Locally here in Capitola, we are getting downslope winds from the NE. These "katabatic" winds coming downhill from the Santa Cruz Mountains compress the air and increase the temperature about 5 degrees for every 1,000 feet of descent. It got to 41 degrees last night. Not toasty, but not too cold either.

But the wind chill was high 20's, low 30's.

Gulls were soaring at the Cliff, looking like aerial windsurfers carving at Waddell Creek. My friend, Andre', an Anna's hummingbird with iridescent ruby throat and Mohawk hairdew, was riding a willow twig, holding on like it was the Boardwalk Big Dipper. Andre' and I watched the sunrise until his novia showed up, and they buzzed off together into the sun like some flying jewelry.

Though the days have been getting longer since the Solstice 10 days ago, the elliptical shape of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and the tilt of the rotation axis cause the sun to continue to rise later for up to two weeks after the Solstice, depending on latitude. Locally, that should change tomorrow morning, or the next, when the sun will begin to rise earlier. I feel warmer already.

12-31-2014, 01:15 PM
Tom and Sue, does CLOUD look anything like this little beauty?


That's my 3rd Grade painting of Roald Amundsen's ship GJOA. I had gone on a school field trip to GG Park and took a b&w picture of GJOA with my Brownie Hawkeye camera. The painting was from my photo as I imagined GJOA floating at anchor. Interesting to me is that I took artistic license to paint the topsides red with a white stripe. I really don't remember what color she was at the time in GG Park. An internet image search shows green topsides now.

The only thing in common between my painting and CLOUD is both are red boats.



12-31-2014, 01:45 PM
CLOUD's photo of Roca Partida is also interesting. To think this 300', 3.5 acre rock comes up vertically from the depths. You could whimsically put your fenders out and raft up to Roca Partida on a calm day....

I'm not sure there's anything close to 300' above water and 3.5 acres remaining today. It takes about 45 minutes to swim completely around under water. Roca Partida is quite literally out in the open ocean out of sight of any other "land." This photo gives some sense of the ocean swells on one of our dive days.



12-31-2014, 02:12 PM
I'm not sure there's anything close to 300' above water and 3.5 acres remaining today. It takes about 45 minutes to swim completely around under water. Roca Partida is quite literally out in the open ocean out of sight of any other "land." This photo gives some sense of the ocean swells on one of our dive days.

Thanks, DAZZLER!

It is apparent Roca Partida is being eroded, and in another 100 years may not be above water at all. The 1953 survey, quoted by Lee Lewis in his OP 1971 Baja Sea Guide, measured Roca Partida thus:

"Roca Partida, 100 metres (300 ft) long and 8 metres (26 ft) wide, rises into two peaks. A low-lying bare rock area divides these two peaks, hence the name "Parted Rock." The two peaks measured 25 metres (82 ft) and 34 metres (112 ft) high in 1953, but the higher peak apparently lost several meters (feet) since then, as the photographs illustrate."

12-31-2014, 02:31 PM
Avalon, Catalina Island, is a favorite harbor for New Year's revelers. But in strong NE winds Avalon turns into an open roadstead with a 26 mile fetch to the mainland. Enough distance for wind and seas to become knarly, as they did last night when multiple boats were washed ashore and 2 lives lost.

Hard to believe in this day and age of instantaneous weather reports.

12-31-2014, 04:57 PM
Tom, is that Perry's INBOX?

12-31-2014, 06:16 PM
Tom, is that Perry's INBOX?

It's the same design (with a few modifications), but not INBOX. It's the 3rd Far Harbour 39, custom built in Maine.


01-04-2015, 02:38 PM
For those who have read the wonderful book "Boys in the Boat," Stan Pocock, master boat builder and son of legendary George Pocock, was honored yesterday with a memorial rowout and spreading of ashes at the 2,000 meter "Finish Line" in Montlake Cut, offshore of the University of Washington George Pocock crewhouse.


From Stan Pocock's Remembrance:

Stan Pocock’s accomplishments in the rowing world abound. There is evidence of his handiwork across the country, from fiberglass racing shells (1956) to Olympic gold medals (1956 and 1960) to oarlock spacers (1981). Stan did more than just leave a path of amazing innovations and objects; he left an indelible mark on all the athletes he coached, the men and women he worked with, and the young athletes he inspired. To many, he was a mentor, a coach, a craftsman, and a legend. To us, at the George Pocock Rowing Foundation, he was a visionary and a philanthropist who gave everything he accomplished back to the rowing community.

Before he ended his boat making career, Stan became one of the founders of the George Pocock Rowing Foundation and helped nurture it into existence. Ten years later after working hard to garner support and funding, he with several close friends, completed construction of the George Pocock Memorial Rowing Center.

A humble man by nature, Stan was not always comfortable with the Pocock name being so prominent and public in the Foundation and the Memorial Rowing Center. However much he disregarded praise and fame, he was liberal with encouragement and inspiration to others. In the last several years, Stan could be seen often around the boathouse. He gave speeches at junior banquets, celebrated student-athlete awards, shook hands with the young men and women of the Center, and smiled as he reminisced with the Ancient Mariners Rowing Club.

It gave Stan great joy to see so many young people learn to row and thrive in the environment of the boathouse. The vision for the Pocock Rowing Center was blossoming as Stan lived and it shall live on. “Now, my earnest desire is that the quality of the eventual product of this center – the community-oriented rowing projects that we envision – will be known and celebrated for generations to come.”

Today, as we think about the amazing man that Stan Pocock was, our hearts are both saddened and uplifted in his memory. Stan made sure that the very soul of this sport would carry on past his own lifetime. And now, ever with his spirit and guidance, we are seeking to carry that out.

In the final pages of his memoirs, Stan describes one of the most treasured rows of his career and in the same breath expresses his desire to pass on those amazing experiences: “I knew that I had just experienced something that might never happen again. I had lost myself and, in the process, had truly found myself. I had had a fleeting glimpse of the divine… I wanted people who rowed for me, at least once, to have the thrill of that one moment.”

Row On, Stan

01-08-2015, 05:22 AM
Landing bow first on the small patch of sand, the Mexican panga driver deftly backed and filled between rocky outcroppings and 4' wave sets, allowing us to unload 7 bags and 200 pounds of gear at Yelapa's "Isabel's Beach."

The flight from SFO to Puerto Vallarta was an airborne treat, as we followed the California Coast southward, crossing over to the Sea of Cortez just south of the Border. From 30,000', whitehorses were visible below, the product of persistent winter north winds that extend the 800 mile length of the Gulf of California. I remembered back all those days spent at anchor at Los Frailes, waiting for a weather window to sail WILDFLOWER north into the Sea of Cortez.

From Puerto Vallarta to Yelapa, and hour's ride by panga-taxi, is usually an E-ticket ride. The panga driver asked us to don lifejackets, seedy looking things, and luckily there were not enough to go around for the 25 passengers.

2 x 200 horsepower outboards pushed the 30' panga at 25 knots in the leftover swell from the northerly blowing offshore in the Gulf. Luckily, as the passengers began to become airborne off their seats, the panga driver stopped to siphon from a fresh jug of gas by sucking on a 2" diameter hose.

As I wrote a year ago in post #592, page 60, one does not necessarily travel to Mexico to seek adventure. Adventure comes to you. A reminder there is another world that is not California. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pD_yQZ4iNjY

01-13-2015, 08:25 AM
The passage to Alaska has been paddled by native canoes since time immemorial, sailing craft for centuries, and after gold was discovered in the Klondike the route was jammed with steamboats full of prospectors elbowing each other out of the way for the promise of fortune.

In the spirit of tradition, exploration, and self-reliance, the Race to Alaska was born by Jake Beattie, Executive Director of Port Townsend's Northwest Maritime Center. Jake's R2AK, starting 5 a.m., June 4, off Port Townsend's waterfront, is the first of its kind on the Pacific Coast, and North America’s longest human and wind powered race: 750 miles to Ketchikan, Alaska.

The R2AK is based on simplicity that SSS members could appreciate. BWYG. "Bring What You Got." No engines aboard, no supply drops, totally self supported. First prize is $10,000. Second place wins a set of steak knives.

Entries with fertile and/or deranged minds are already prepping. Rowers, kayakers, sailors. Some think a trimaran with oars would have the best chance. But rowing a multi-hull in predominant light headwinds and foul currents is a questionable proposition.

What is known is the winners, likely a crew of 2 or 3, will probably run nonstop, depending on tide gates like Seymour Narrows, where max current runs at 12 knots with ship eating whirlpools. Local knowledge will help, as there are numerous back eddies, short cuts, and places to hide out if things turn foul or short rest is required.

As well as type of craft, skill and endurance, luck will also play a big part in the R2AK. Not including tugs towing barges, there's plenty of things to run into. If you are zipping along in your F-27 tri on a dark night, or in fog, and run into a half submerged log, things won't go well.

Though Russell Brown, innovative Port Townsend designer, builder, and sailor, does not agree, my pick for R2AK winner would be a 3 man kayak with a small shelter for sleeping and room for supplies. Water refills can be found along the route, and the advantage of facing forward when underway may outweigh the greater speed potential of rowing.

What would Russell Brown pick as his tool for the R2AK?. Fun speculation is in the air at http://racetoalaska.com/

01-19-2015, 10:23 AM
Casa Santa Cruz, in Yelapa, needed new safety railings. The old rope strung between steel pipe stanchions was worn out because of UV. I hiked 10 minutes to Yelapa Pueblo, down the narrow cobblestone street, being careful to avoid the sleeping dogs. The ferretia (hardware store) had the rope I needed: universal Third World yellow and black polypropylene. It's light, it's cheap, it floats. And, unlike West Marine, the rope at Yelapa's ferretia is sold by the kilo.

Walking back to Casa Santa Cruz, I remembered as kids we weren't even allowed into our dinghies without being able to demonstrate basic knot tying ability: bowline, half hitches, clove hitch, sheet bend, and figure eight.

These days, knot tying skills are less emphasized. With today's hi-tech, slippery, dyneema and spectra ropes, knots not only slip, but drastically weaken the line. Two half hitches reportedly slip at 15% of Breaking Strength, a bowline at 22% of BS. The best knot for tying an eye in singlebraid dyneema may no longer be the bowline, but as Commodore Tompkins' half jokingly suggests, the “rolling half tangle.”

As kids we also had to learn an eyesplice in 3 strand rope. Except for dock lines, 3 strand isn't used much these days. A new type of splicing hi-tech line is favored over knot tying. A splice in spectra doesn't slip, and retains 90-100% of the original strength of the line.

I still enjoy knots. But am having to relearn splicing techniques, or pay the rigger $15 to do it for me.

Back at Casa Santa Cruz, splicing the new 3-strand polypro guard rails was the order of the day. Not a bad job, while watching humpback whales cavort offshore. http://www.yelapafun.com/

01-28-2015, 03:13 PM
What I wrote last year at this time was replayed yesterday: As we bounced along at 20 knots in our Puerto Vallarta bound panga, 23 passengers couldn't avoid becoming airborne. Nothing to hang onto, except maybe our memories of Yelapa. No saddlehorn, no seatbelts. Definitely no lifejackets.

Yelapa. It's been an enjoyable three week, 21 act play, with a constant changing cast of characters, warm tortillas fresh from the tortilleria, and the best passion fruit margaritas and seafood pasta imaginable at Tacos y Mas.

Getting out of Puerto Vallarta is akin to this Saturday's 3 Bridge Fiasco. You don't quite know where you're going, or what lies ahead when you get there.

My non-stop flight to SFO began at Airport Security. The Mexican preflight safety inspection was just as bogus as when I left San Francisco. The X-Ray girl's attention to my seabag was piqued by a plastic urinal filled with dirty socks. I was taken aside and asked to empty my carry on luggage. The young inspector gingerly held up the urinal, looked at my me, looked at my urinal, raised his eyebrows, and asked to see my passport. He then emptied my shaving kit, and confiscated my Gorilla Tape, dental floss, and miniature scissors. I maintained my cool and pointed out the scissors were well below the maximum 4" length allowed and had a blunted point as required. The inspector said I could check them. Was I really going to hike three city blocks back to the Alaska Air counter to check in a pair of scissors and some floss?

After being relieved of my hi-jack weapons, but no "chem wipe" as at SFO, I went in search of somewhere to refill my water bottle. I might as well have been looking for water on the moon. The employees at the airport restaurants and stores looked at me like I was crazy, and said I had to buy a bottle of water. A nice man directed me to a men's room, where I awkwardly filled my bottle through the motion activated water tap.

Arriving at Gate 12, I was ready to relax. I heard my name being called on the loudspeaker. Apparently I had not followed procedure and had to show airline personnel my passport and freshly minted boarding pass. This was not without incident, as my backpack capsized on the floor and the water bottle top came loose, flooding the floor.

The homeward bound flight was fine except for the crying baby, and the couple in adjacent seats arguing over details of their new home. The wife finally said, coolly, "I'm not speaking with you anymore." I just stared out the window at Catalina passing below.

U.S. Immigration went smoothly, but almost didn't. The nice man asked "how long were you in Mexico?"

"3 weeks," I answered.

His next question floored me: "What did you do every day?"

I almost reached down for my Logbook to read from 10 handwritten pages of "what I did every day." But remembering the water bottle incident at PV, I decided the better of it, and looked the officer in the eye, and said, "Nothing, that's what you do in Mexico. Nothing."

He looked at me, said "Oh, right," and waved me on, back into the U.S.of A.

01-28-2015, 03:41 PM
That is one funny photo!

01-28-2015, 05:11 PM
They misspelled 'lingerie'.

01-29-2015, 07:32 AM
That photo had me cracking up too. The pelican was stripped but not lingerie'd.

You seem to find adventure/fun on *all* your trips! Love it!

01-29-2015, 09:12 AM
While waiting at the Yelapa panga pier, what should appear but a jetski worm.

02-05-2015, 07:02 AM
Looks like N. California will take it in the chin tomorrow, Friday, with a rain and wind event of significant proportions. An "atmospheric river," a long narrow current of moisture, extends clear to Hawaii. The bullseye will be the SF Bay area and northwards. Storm force (Force 10, 47-55 knots) gusts are forecast along the Coast. The Russian River will likely rise more than 20 feet in 24 hours. I'll again be tying WILDFLOWER, my 800 pound cat, to the house in case she becomes frisky and decides to test her wings.

I've never been to Banff, Alberta, Canada. Apparently there is an interesting phenomena occurring in local lakes. Methane gas from organic vegetative matter on the lake bottoms is rising to the surface. The methane, highly flammable, is trapped beneath the ice, making lovely sculpture. Just don't light a match.


02-05-2015, 05:48 PM
As global warming continues, methane gas which has been trapped the bottom of cold water lakes and in the frozen permafrost of the tundra is released into the atmosphere. The rotting biomass at the bottom of the lakes and in the tunra produces methane, just like the county dump. Of course methane, a "green house" gas, adds to global warming, so the more that is released by warming temperatures, the warmer it's going to get.

Sort of the same thing is happening with carbon that's been trapped in coal and oil, When those fuels are burned, the carbon is reintroduced into the atmosphere, primarily as carbon dioxide, another "green house" gas. It also percolates out into the ocean, changing the Ph of the sea water, which is becoming more acidic. You can look up your car or truck and find out how many tons of CO2 you're producing each year as you drive around.

02-08-2015, 04:56 PM
"How windy is it, Jack?"
"Blowin' dogs off chains, I reckon."

Over the years, I've seen some breeze. Growing up in S.Cal at the foot of a mountain canyon, Santanas were a frequent winter visitor. In '72 we tried to get to weather in the Bermuda Race in what we later learned was Hurricane Andrew. A triple reef main, storm jib, and rum below seemed to be the optimum rig on the ultra-light 68 foot schooner NEW WORLD. A few years later, in the '79 Fastnet Race storm, as we approached the Fastnet Rock off Ireland on iMP, a force 10 gust removed our storm jib, halyard, and inner forestay as one.,

Down the coast at Point Sur Lighthouse, back in the days (pre-1974) when that lonely sentinel had lighthouse keepers and their families, it was usually so windy the chickens were only let out of their hen houses if they were clipped into tethers.

The most wind I've seen was likely on the E. Side of the Sierra, near the little town of Lee Vining, along Highway 395. As I drove north, I passed half a dozen 18 wheeler trucks on their sides. Just downhill, Mono lake was beyond frothy. The spume on the lake's surface was being blown bodily east by the downslope winds. I pulled into the Mono Lake Visitor Center, and could barely open the front door against the weight of the breeze. "What's it blowing?" I asked the ranger. He looked at his anemometer and said, "70."
"Is that knots or miles per hour," I asked? "Miles per hour," he said.

The measurement of wind has been a fascinating science since the 15th Century, the first anemometer being invented in 1450. Even the Mayans had means to measure wind. In 1846 the spinning cup anemometer was invented, and in 1926 today's 3 Cup anemometer became the norm.

Even with science, modern technology, and electronics, measuring wind remains imprecise. When was the last time you saw anyone calibrating their anemometer? How would you do that? Using a wind tunnel is how, not a likely scenario.

There's about a dozen different types of anemometers, each with its own complexity and accuracy There's the cup anemometer, the propeller anemometer, a sonic anemometer, a laser/doppler anemometer. A thermal flow anemometer, a pitot tube, and a windsock. WILDFLOWER's anemometer is a pingpong ball on a string, that rises as the wind increases and can be read against a calibrated scale. Sufficiently accurate for my needs.

Instrumentation is not necessarily needed to measure wind speed. Visual cues can suffice. Glassy water begins to wrinkle at 3 knots. Whitecaps appear at about 14 knots. It's called the Beaufort Scale. Usually at about 100 knots, the means to measure the wind speed blows away.

When we do measure wind speed, is it the True Wind (TWS) or Apparent Wind (AWS) we are feeling? A common mistake of many sailors is not differentiating. Another error is not knowing what units are being used, knots, miles/hour, or meters/second. Even the pros at the National Weather Service fall victim to confusing units, transcribing one for the other. Usually, knots is the correct unit measurement over water.

Due to surface friction, the higher the anemometer, the stronger the wind. It can be blowing 5 knots on deck, and twice that at the masthead. Air density also matters as to what wind speed is registered, as does temperature. Temperature can change bearing friction on many anemometers, causing significant errors. When was the last time the anemometer was lubricated? I was once puzzled why the Pt. Pinos wind speed and direction always remained the same: SE @4. I visited the Pinos Lighthouse, climbed the fence, ascended the Coast Guard tower, and found the anemometer and vane totally rusted. WD-40 anyone?

Most anemometers send electronic pulses, like depth sounders, to the deck level instrumentation. But what happens to the accuracy of the masthead pulsation if the boat is heeled over and the spinning cups are not horizontal to the wind? Another potential source of error.

Windspeed and its measurement. Much to be learned. The Weather Channel would like you to turn on your TV. I say just open your window. If your cereal has waves in the milk, the cat retreats to the next room, and Berkeley Marina's American flag stands straight out from the pole, you have Beaufort Force 5 (15-21 knots) or greater. Time to think about a reef.

02-10-2015, 09:24 AM
Storm surf along the Central Coast. Sets are visible, feeling the bottom, a mile offshore. Santa Cruz Harbor Entrance shoaled to all but surfers, who ride tubular 15' footers across the Entrance.

The folks who located and designed Santa Cruz Harbor back in the early '60's messed up. In winter, the Entrance Channel collects the littoral drift of sand coming down the coast. Overnight, depths can go from the teens to single digits. We used to play football on the sandbar in the Entrance Channel.

The direction of the breakwaters, due South, funnel winter storm swells into the Harbor. Fortunately, the Entrance shoal and sandbar mitigate swells entering the Harbor. But when swells do enter, especially at high tide or in a tsunami, the narrowness of Santa Cruz Harbor results in a bathtub sloshing effect, with currents running up to 5-8 knots, reversing every couple of minutes.

In you want to test the adequacy of mooring lines, come visit Santa Cruz Harbor in the winter. Don't bother with the depth sounder in the Entrance. The silt and sand being stirred up by the breaking waves gives false readings. Just stay well to the East when passing through the breakwater entrance. What little channel that remains lies within feet of the outer tip of the East Breakwater.

02-10-2015, 12:04 PM
when swells do enter, especially at high tide or in a tsunami, the narrowness of Santa Cruz Harbor results in a bathtub sloshing effect, with currents running up to 5-8 knots, reversing every couple of minutes.

Those photos are very useful, Skip. Thank you. Ahem. And the additional information provided above. Yep. On our way down to Monterey last year on Kynntana Carliane and I planned to stop overnight in the Santa Cruz marina. We motored back and forth in front of the entrance watching THE ACTION for about 20 minutes. Finally the crew asked, "Well, what do you think? Are we going in?" To which the Skipper responded: "Hell, no." So we anchored out, as per your suggestion, near the pier, instead. Local knowledge is a wonderful thing, and you are a treasured resource.

02-10-2015, 12:56 PM
Great photo!

Is that the infamous spinnaker snuffer? Rumor has it that K has a slick North version now that works mo betta, and an A2 to go with it.

Parts is parts.

02-10-2015, 05:42 PM
Great photo!

Is that the infamous spinnaker snuffer? Rumor has it that K has a slick North version now that works mo betta, and an A2 to go with it.

Parts is parts.
We worked diligently to get that thing figured out. Spent more than an hour with the crew at the bow and the skipper at the stern untangling it, untying all the lines inside and out, and looking at it in bewilderment: huh? By the time we were done (interrupted by dolphins and pretty birds) the wind had picked up to about 12 knots and we could see the Santa Cruz pier. Finally the crew asked, "Well, what do you think? Are we going to try to fly it?" To which the Skipper responded: "Hell, no." And so we had a leisurely sail into Santa Cruz, seeing the roller coaster from the water, my first time aboard a sailboat, which thrilled me to no end.

02-10-2015, 06:54 PM
Per your last two posts I think you got her "Hell, nos" mixed up. I think she wanted to carry the kite right into Santa Cruz harbor. Sled would have been out there with his camera. It would have been epic.

02-11-2015, 06:51 AM
Per your last two posts I think you got her "Hell, nos" mixed up. I think she wanted to carry the kite right into Santa Cruz harbor. It would have been epic.

Sometimes possibilities are just too good to pass up. In the Spring of '93 we were out practicing off Santa Cruz for the TransPac onboard the SC-70 MIRAGE. It had been an afternoon of spinnaker drills. As we approached the Harbor Entrance a few minutes before sunset, I asked Jim R., MIRAGE's owner, if he'd like to carry the spinnaker into the Harbor. The wind was steady from the SW, and the channel was clear.

Jim, one of the really good guys in sailing, always enjoyed a joke, as long as it didn't hurt anyone. Jim, at the helm of MIRAGE, replied, "Sure. Why not?"

I prepped the crew for what the plan was. What Jim didn't know wouldn't hurt him.

MIRAGE creamed through the Entrance at sunset, Jim all smiles, the spinnaker trimmed to perfection, pulling like a train of horses.

What happened next I'm sure Jim Ryley remembers quite well. His well oiled crew of 8 disappeared. As one, we all slipped below, and giggled as we peered out the cabin windows.

MIRAGE galloped by the Crows Nest. Below, through the cabin windows, we could see the Crows Nest patron's noses pressed to the restaurant windows, cameras flashing. At the helm, suddenly solo sailor Jim was all smiles and waved back. But what the admirers couldn't hear was Jim's slightly alarmed voice:

"Guys?" "Guys!"

MIRAGE shot by the Harbor Patrol boat, going the other direction, the Harbormaster wide eyed in disbelief. As the Harbor Bridge loomed ahead, the spinnaker neatly disappeared. (we'd run the afterguy, lazy guy, and halyard tail below through the hatches.) Jim spun MIRAGE into her slip. All in a day.

You had to have been there.

02-11-2015, 09:26 AM
"Guys?" "Guys!"

Sleddog introduces another skipper to the joys (and terrors) of singlehanding.

02-12-2015, 09:47 AM
Philpot wrote:[Good thing the boom is above my head. I felt it brush the top of my hat. Good thing the fuel handle didn’t clock me. Dura Mater, poor thing, and I were laid on our side for way too long. And then, as the sail sank into the water my boat and I lay ahull for long minutes, while I caught my breath and considered the situation: Nothing was broken. I wasn’t dead. The mast hadn’t fallen. In my world that means that it wasn’t a disaster.]

I think most of us have experienced similar departures from level flight. Even sprit boats like RAGTIME, RACER X, WARPATH, and JETSTREAM have spent time on their sides.

June, 1993, was the 375 mile Aldo Alessio Race from San Francisco to Long Beach. There were 11 70' ULDB sleds on the St.FYC start line. Gale Warnings were flying for the California Coast. But big sleds eat that stuff up, as downwind speeds in excess of 20 knots reduce the apparent wind speed (AWS) to manageable numbers.

On the SC-70 MIRAGE we were trucking, leaving our sisters behind in the building breeze. By mid-afternoon we were abeam Santa Cruz, enjoying the 25 knot tailwind. By late afternoon, as we passed Monterey, the breeze (TWS) had built to the low 30's, and things were beginning to get exciting. We jibed onto port to get the righthand shift off Point Sur.

Santa Cruz 70's are usually a good boat to be aboard in hard running: high freeboard forward, a relatively short rig, a big wheel to drive with. Off we went towards Sur at warp speed, regularly punching the bow into the short, steep waves that had quickly built.

As the sun set on the wild scene, a 38 knot puff coincided with a particularly steep wave ahead. MIRAGE's bow punched into solid water higher than the bow pulpit. Water 2' high on deck ran aft and filled the cockpit. The weight of the water, and the quick deceleration, caused the apparent wind speed to instantly double.

The rudder lost its ability to control our downwind rocketship. One second we were vertical, going 26 knots. The next we were horizontal, going nowhere but sideways at about 5 knots, the rudder well out of water.

The crew were holding on for Dear Life, as the leeward lifelines were 11 feet to leeward, mostly underwater. The spinnaker was flapping, pinning us down. Someone let the after guy run, the usual move on a smaller boat for the beginning of a spinnaker douse. In our case it was the wrong move, as just the strain on the halyard and sheet still had MIRAGE pinned on her beam ends. (It would have been better to blow the halyard. I doubt the spinnaker would have touched the water.)

Things were tense. The crew was not used to being pinned on our side for what seemed like several minutes. The sun had set.

Then from somewhere aft in the cockpit came one of the all time, out-of-control-spinnaker remarks I think I've heard. It was the owner's daughter's first ocean race. Lizzie was 12 and had her good luck Teddy Bear onboard. Lizzie's plaintive question to her father was heard by all.

"Daddy, am I going to die? I haven't been to high school yet."

The tension broke. We got the chute under control and doused with minimal damage. We jibed bald headed, set the small spinny, already in stops, and averaged 18 knots for the next 10 hours, down to Conception.

02-13-2015, 05:36 PM
The sound was deafening. Car alarms, babies in strollers, dogs on leash all "went off." I looked up from my gardening duties and couldn't believe my eyes.
A silver, Delta wing, military jet, was banking overhead, not 1,000 feet above Capitola, afterburners roaring a 50' orange flame.

What was going on? Oh, just a dog fight overhead. The F-15 Eagle, capable of Mach 2.5+, likely carrying Sparrow or Sidewinder warheads, was coming from out of the sun, behind and under a bi-plane heading NE.

I'm betting the bi-plane pilot didn't know he was about to be "herded" in the opposite direction. In short order, the F-15 got the bi-plane turned around, then the F-15 did two low level laps over Capitola/Santa Cruz. It all took about five minutes. Did I mention I couldn't believe my eyes? What kinda stunt was this?

Turns out it wasn't a stunt at all. The bi-plane, having taken off from nearby Watsonville Airport, was violating the 30 mile radius, no fly, security zone around President Obama's helicopter, then lifting off from Palo Alto after the President's speech on cybersecurity at Stanford.

If anyone wonders, I just measured on a paper chart the distance from Capitola to Palo Alto. Yup. 30 nautical miles. The bi-plane was flirting with danger and should have known better.

I instantly felt safer, knowing the bi-plane got intercepted and forced to land.
And the F-15 pilot, on his ultimate singlehander, probably got some bonus beach views on a warm, sunny, afternoon.



H Spruit
02-14-2015, 06:59 PM
I lived in Kaneohe Hawaii for a while, A place that has 2 things, one is my favorite Yacht Club and the other was a Marine base next door to the YC.
There was a story that was told at the YC about the little old lady that complained about the noise that the Marine jets made regularly, at one point she made contact with the Commanding officer,complaining about the noise. He asked if she was positive that the planes were ours and she replied that she was because she could see the insignia on the wings.
The officer replied "You should thank GOD"

02-14-2015, 07:46 PM
Great photo!

Is that the infamous spinnaker snuffer? Rumor has it that K has a slick North version now that works mo betta, and an A2 to go with it.

Parts is parts.

Practice day is March 1 (weather dependent). Ya'll come out and watch Beccie and me wrassle the slick new beast into submission. It should be entertaining. There will be plenty of beer and Sailor Jerry's rum if we make it back to the dock :-)

02-23-2015, 07:15 AM
Though they were then being used to power satellites, back in 1978 commercially available solar panels for small boats were just coming on the scene. In the first SHTP, my 27' sloop WILDFLOWER had minimal electrics. No engine, one cabin light, running lights, and a Tiller Master. No electronic navigation systems, radar, radios, etc. WILDFLOWER was a good platform for solar panels, which we carried hinged P&S on the stern pulpit, adjustable in angle fore and aft as the sun passed overhead.

Solar panel technology has come a long way. I'm sure we'll soon see sails made of cloth that can be plugged in to power electrical needs.

Meanwhile, massive solar farms, especially in the Central Valley and S.California desert are being built. But not without large engineering challenges. How does all this new solar power get onto PG&E's grid? It is not just plug and play.

California's drought is having an unexpected consequence for solar farms. Wind, combined with drying farmlands, is creating dust storms. With thousands of acres of potentially dusty solar panels, loss of efficiency is real and financially crippling.

You can't just run out with some paper towels and Windex to clean things.

There is all sorts of young technology being developed to clean solar panels of dust. Robotic vacuum cleaners are only one idea. We are lucky as sailors having to deal just with salt spray.

02-23-2015, 08:10 PM
solar sails may not be so far off... but solar dodgers and foulies may come first




03-01-2015, 10:57 AM
For connoisseurs of clouds, yesterday's rain squalls and thunderheads made Monterey Bay look positively tropical. Sunrise began with a double rainbow off Lighthouse Point. Thanks to Rainer for the pic taken on O'Neill's Beach at Santa Cruz Harbor.

After a winter in the Sea Of Cortez, friends are sailing the 108 year old, 68' schooner MARTHA up Baja. MARTHA, built at Stones in SF, is now totally restored after loving attention. http://www.schoonermartha.org/history-of-martha/
If all goes according to plan, MARTHA will participate in the Master Mariners, then to LA for the TransPac to Honolulu. If it's windy reaching, MARTHA could be a TransPac sleeper, and possibly emulate DORADE's popular win in 2013.

But first MARTHA has to get north. BLUENOSE aside, even big schooners like MARTHA don't much like to go to windward. The ascent of Baja in the Spring is mostly against prevailing wind and current. Not for the faint of heart or weak of boat.

MARTHA is getting the job done, thanks to a weather window that is allowing her crew to rhumbline from Magdalena Bay 240 miles north to Turtle Bay, where she will make a brief pit stop for fuel. http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0mWebdTvRMrkTJicpJAZnhIe2b0pIhI 7q

I'm no longer in the yacht delivery business. But have done the northbound Baja voyage a dozen times or more, twice in WILDFLOWER. And once in an old VW Bus with Dave Wahle. We drove along the beach more than 100 miles, the entire way from Abreojos to Turtle Bay, then to seldom visited Malarimmo Beach, and across 50 miles of sand to Scammons Lagoon. Dave and I sometimes had to get out and push...VW buses aren't 4WD.

Schooner MARTHA won't have to let air out of her tires to get past Scammons Lagoon. She will be in good company near shore with the northbound migration of grey and humpback whales. I'm offering encouragement via e-mail and weather forecasts primarily using https://www.windyty.com/?surface,wind,now,37.272,-121.844,4

Go the MARTHA!

03-02-2015, 03:33 PM
Over a lifetime of sailing, I've seen many dozens of ways to get in trouble during a windy jibe. My first experience as a kid was getting bonked in the head with my dinghy boom, luckily with no lasting damage.

Once, during a windy jibe, I was launched from a Laser, and it took off downwind, unmanned.

Heavy air jibing, probably the most dangerous maneuver in sailing, is not to be taken lightly. Many of the big, Around-the-World racers, start a heavy air jibe by reefing. This allows the leeward running backstay to be taken up and secured before the main starts across.

Reefing downwind, especially with a full batten main, is not easy and rarely practiced. There's often too much friction of the sail against the mast, rigging, and spreaders to pull the main down.

I look forward to hearing Gamayun's experiments using a boom brake on her Freedom 38 KYNTANNA's large mainsail.

Yesterday, off Santa Cruz, a friend had a near miss during a jibe. I hadn't thought of this happening before. But the unexpected happened. My friend bore his 20 foot catamaran off to jibe. It was blowing about 15, the cat, MOKU, was doing 7-8, and he had a single reefed main and jib.

As the main boom and traveler were centered, and the boat jibed, the main sheet would not run out. Fortunately, my friend is a highly experienced catamaran sailor, remained calm, and kept the boat aimed dead down wind (DDW) while he surveyed the problem.

What had happened, and could happen to anyone, is the hanging reef tie tail got sucked into and jammed inside the main sheet block on the boom, preventing release of the main sheet.

Had the boat been turned up into the wind without the main being quickly released, a capsize might have resulted.

The lesson is if reef ties are used to secure the bundle of extra sail along the boom, to make sure the hanging tail is shortened, tucked away, or otherwise secured out of harm's way from catching in the main sheet system.

03-02-2015, 04:13 PM
Good chat on gybing, Skip. Being fractionally rigged, Harrier has a rather large main compared to many other modern 30 footers. I have had excellent luck with the Dutch Boom Brakes that have been on the market for many years. The first one depended upon the friction of several turns of 3/8th" line around an aluminum drum of abt 6" diameter. After some years of ocean spray, the aluminum became so corroded, that the gizmo's performance varied a lot...too much for safe operation, in my opinion. I did try burnishing the drum, but the surface damage was such that degradation came back quickly. I finally replaced it with their later model in which the drum turned against an internal brake which was adjusted with a knob on the outside of the device. Been fine for 10 years or so. Another, simpler device on the market (looks like the number "8") depends on friction of the brake's lines passing thru a series of turns in and around the device.
I have no experience with this on, altho I suspect aluminum corrosion would eventually degrade its performance. Singlehanded racing to Hawaii under self-steering devices can often put us in situations that can result in accidental gybes in high winds. The boom brake is good insurance. and even when it allows an accidental gybe, it will make such a loud screeching noise, that you are certain to wake up and attend to the problem!!!

03-03-2015, 08:09 PM
For connoisseurs of clouds, yesterday's rain squalls and thunderheads made Monterey Bay look positively tropical. Sunrise began with a double rainbow off Lighthouse Point. Thanks to Rainer for the pic taken on O'Neill's Beach at Santa Cruz Harbor.

Having grown up in Florida, I miss those big thunder boomers that'll rattle your teeth. I often wonder why that rarely happens here in California. On Saturday, after about 30 minutes post docking, a small but fierce-looking cloud moved over the Bay Bridge and started thundering. It seemed pretty contained and didn't move very fast. So different from Florida storms!

As to Kynntana's boom brake, it's still very much on my mind and now that Harrier has also given high praise to the Dutchman system, that's probably what I'll get. I still look every time I'm in Blue Pelican and still kick myself every time because I didn't buy the one that was (briefly) there last year. I've learned to never let a good deal pass in Blue Pelican. Too many people wander through and know what things are worth.

03-08-2015, 06:41 PM
Next Saturday a gang of us will gather at Balboa Yacht Club in Newport Harbor to pay tribute to as fine of shipmate and human being as graced this Earth: Swede Johnson, 95, Crossed the Bar recently, leaving his many friends to reflect not only on Swede's lifetime accomplishments, but on the character of a man who gave of himself to help others.

Swede was a sailmaker by trade and worked at the Baxter and Cicero loft in Newport for more than 30 years making winning sails for Sabots, Starboat World's Champions (Bill Ficker and Don Edler), TransPac winners (KITTEN, LEGEND, NALU II, PSYCHE, HOLIDAY Too), and numerous Radio Controlled models. Swede also encouraged youngsters, including Dave Ullman and Scott Allan, to become sailmakers and mentored them in early years.

Swede loved to tinker, and created the first commercially available tiller pilot for small boats in 1960, well before the better known TillerMaster. Swede also built dozens of model boats for friends world-wide, usually at no charge. If you look closely, you can see a model of Swede steering this cool little Pinky schooner he built for "Fred." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-0ozFgTKSg

One of the little pleasures of being an aficionado of maritime history is running across a good mystery. And Swede Johnson left us with one.

In the mid-1940's, actor Humphrey Bogart bought the beautiful, 55' Sparkman and Stephens yawl SANTANA, and berthed her at Newport Harbor Yacht Club as a retreat from his Hollywood stresses. It was onboard SANTANA that Bogie courted rising star, actress Lauren Bacall. Bacall was only 19, barely half Bogart's age, but she could hold her own on the silver screen with Bogart as well as in real life. The conservative NHYC members were upset that there were potential illicit goings-on aboard SANTANA with an unmarried woman moored at their docks.

NHYC demanded Bogart, a good sailor since his youth, set things right or vacate the Club.

So Bogie and Bacall got married in 1945 to make things legal. As a present to Bogie, Lauren Bacall commissioned Swede Johnson to build her new husband a full model (1/2" scale) of Bogie's favorite boat, SANTANA. Bacall and Bogie knew Swede, as he'd built sails for their Lehman 10, 26' Albatross, and SANTANA.

Swede completed the SANTANA model in 1951, about the same time Bogie won the Oscar for Best Actor in "African Queen." He gave it to Bacall at no charge.

During recent weeks of sleuthing, we discovered a black and white photo of Bogart, and his two year old son Stephen, admiring Swede's model of SANTANA in early 1952. Bogie's Oscar sits on top of the glass case.

Humphrey Bogart, a heavy smoker, died in 1957. His wife and co-star, Lauren Bacall, decreed the only thing to be on the altar at Bogie's funeral at All Saints Church was to be the model of SANTANA, the one that our friend Swede had made. Most of Hollywood attended Bogie's Funeral. Director John Huston delivered the eulogy. No cameras were allowed inside the church. But in the quest to find what became of Swede's model of SANTANA, we discovered a 3 second movie clip taken inside the church of SANTANA on the altar.

Swede's SANTANA model on the All Saints Church altar can be briefly seen at 13-15 seconds here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPUtrB4CYRc

The SANTANA model then disappeared. Swede believed his model had been buried with Bogart. But that couldn't be true, as Bogart was cremated.

I contacted as many of the later owners of big SANTANA as possible. For many years SANTANA graced the docks of the St.Francis Yacht Club. In 1982, with guest skipper Tom Blackaller at the helm, SANTANA came from behind to beat the famous DORADE in a 12 mile grudge match race off the City Front. There was also a 3/8" scale model of SANTANA donated to St.Francis YC by the wife of her W.L.Stewart, her original owner. But that model has the original schooner rig of 1935, and is smaller than Swede Johnson's model.

Nobody knew where the SANTANA model was.

The location of the model finally surfaced this week, in time for Swede Johnson's tribute at Balboa. Swede's beautiful model belongs to Humphrey Bogart's son Stephen, the then 2 year old in the 1952 photo. In reply to my query I received this answer:

Hi Skip:
Condolences on the loss of your dear friend. That beautiful model of the Santana is one of Stephen's proudest possessions and dearest memories of his father, and it is prominently displayed in his home. Wishing you all the best, The Humphrey Bogart Estate

Thanks to SSS Forum members "chautauqua" and "red roo" for their assistance in this maritime mystery. Swede would be happy to know his model lives on. I'm sorry I can't post photos of Swede Johnson's model at this time. The SSS Forum appears to have a technical glitch.

03-09-2015, 12:33 AM
Next Saturday a gang of us will gather at Balboa Yacht Club in Newport Harbor to pay tribute to as fine of shipmate and human being as graced this Earth: Swede Johnson, 95, Crossed the Bar recently, leaving his many friends to reflect not only on Swede's lifetime accomplishments, but on the character of a man who gave of himself to help others.

Swede was a sailmaker by trade and worked at the Baxter and Cicero loft in Newport for more than 30 years making winning sails for Sabots, Starboat World's Champions (Bill Ficker and Don Edler), TransPac winners (KITTEN, LEGEND, NALU II, PSYCHE, HOLIDAY Too), and numerous Radio Controlled models. Swede also encouraged youngsters, including Dave Ullman and Scott Allan, to become sailmakers and mentored them in early years.

Swede loved to tinker, and created the first commercially available tiller pilot for small boats in 1960, well before the better known TillerMaster. Swede also built dozens of model boats for friends world-wide, usually at no charge. If you look closely, you can see a model of Swede steering this cool little Pinky schooner he built for "Fred." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-0ozFgTKSg

One of the little pleasures of being an aficionado of maritime history is running across a good mystery. And Swede Johnson left us with one.

In the mid-1940's, actor Humphrey Bogart bought the beautiful, 55' Sparkman and Stephens yawl SANTANA, and berthed her at Newport Harbor Yacht Club as a retreat from his Hollywood stresses. It was onboard SANTANA that Bogie courted rising star, actress Lauren Bacall. Bacall was only 19, barely half Bogart's age, but she could hold her own on the silver screen with Bogart as well as in real life. The conservative NHYC members were upset that there potential illicit goings on aboard SANTANA with an unmarried woman involved at their docks.

NHYC demanded Bogart, a good sailor since his youth, set things right or vacate the Club.

So Bogie and Bacall got married in 1945 to make things legal. As a present to Bogie, Lauren Bacall commissioned Swede Johnson to build her new husband a full model (1/2" scale) of Bogie's favorite boat, SANTANA. Swede completed the SANTANA model in 1951, about the same time Bogie won the Oscar for Best Actor in "African Queen." He gave it to Bacall at no charge.

During recent weeks of sleuthing, we discovered a black and white photo of Bogart, and his two year old son Stephen, admiring Swede's model of SANTANA in early 1952. Bogie's Oscar sits on top of the glass case.

Humphrey Bogart, a heavy smoker, died in 1957. His wife and co-star, Lauren Bacall, decreed the only thing to be on the alter at Bogie's funeral at All Saints Church was to be the model of SANTANA, the one that our friend Swede had made. Most of Hollywood attended Bogie's Funeral. No cameras were allowed inside the church. But in the quest to find what became of Swede's model of SANTANA, we discovered a 3 second movie clip taken inside the church of SANTANA on the alter.

Swede's SANTANA model on the All Saints Church alter can be briefly seen at 13-15 seconds here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPUtrB4CYRc

The SANTANA model then disappeared. Swede believed his model had been buried with Bogart. But that couldn't be true, as Bogart was cremated.

I contacted as many of the later owners of big SANTANA as possible. For many years SANTANA graced the docks of the St.Francis Yacht Club. In 1982, with guest skipper Tom Blackaller at the helm, SANTANA came from behind to beat the famous DORADE in a 12 mile grudge match race off the City Front. There was also a 3/8" scale model of SANTANA donated to St.Francis YC by the wife of her W.L.Stewart, her original owner. But that model has the original schooner rig of 1935, and is smaller than Swede Johnson's model.

Nobody knew where the SANTANA model was.

It finally surfaced this week, in time for Swede Johnson's tribute at Balboa. Swede's beautiful model belongs to Humphrey Bogart's son Stephen, the then 2 year old in the 1952 photo. In reply to my query I received this answer:

Hi Skip:
Condolences on the loss of your dear friend. That beautiful model of the Santana is one of Stephen's proudest possessions and dearest memories of his father, and it is prominently displayed in his home. Wishing you all the best, The Humphrey Bogart Estate

Thanks to SSS Forum members "chautauqua" and "red roo" for their assistance. Swede would be happy to know his model lives on. I'm sorry I can't post photos of Swede Johnson's models at this time, but the Forum appears to have a technical glitch.

What a very fine tribute, Skip. What a good friend you are.

03-09-2015, 07:39 AM
Here is Swede's model of SANTANA he built for Lauren Bacall. The blurry photo is taken from the 3 second movie clip inside All Saints Church at Bogie's funeral in 1957. The SANTANA model was the only thing on the altar as director John Huston read the eulogy.

Thanks, Jackie. Hope to see you at our friend's 50th.

03-09-2015, 11:40 AM
What a very fine tribute, Skip. What a good friend you are.

^^^ What she said!!

Wow. That's an incredibly moving story and such fantabulous sleuthing. Well done by all, well done. Bogie and Bacall would likely have been so proud.

Hope to see you soon ;-)

03-12-2015, 07:26 AM
The Green Flash is an illusive quarry. A clear atmosphere, sharply delineated horizon, wearing sunglasses, and binoculars all help to catch this atmospheric phenomena that sometimes happens at the exact moment of sunrise or sunset.

A friend caught this GF last evening from the beach near Asilomar. He'd never heard of the GF until we met recently on the Santa Cruz Harbor Breakwater at dawn on New Years.

03-15-2015, 06:35 PM
Ha ha! Mr Wonderful doubts the existence of the GF too. It didn't stop any of us aboard GEORGIA from watching for it the sunset over Banderas Bay Tuesday March 10. We'd gone to Yelapa for the day and a gentle breeze carried us back to Marina Vallarta. Sadly, no flash.

03-16-2015, 11:59 PM
For those who remember, like I do, Norton Smith is hard core. Norton won the first Single Handed Transpac in 1978 in his Santa Cruz 27 SOLITAIRE. Hand steering, no autopilot, which broke the first night.

A year later, Norton also won the Mini-TransAtlantic Race on AMERICAN EXPRESS, his Tom Wylie, water ballasted, 20 footer. The only American ever to do so.

You wouldn't know it, because he is so quiet and unassuming. But I used to think Norton eats nails for breakfast. Now I'm sure of it: Norton has entered the Race2Alaska, with co-skipper Piper Dunlap, on a pedal assisted Hobie 20 catamaran. 800 miles from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, AK, on a Beach Cat, going 24/7.

Piper Dunlap practices acupuncture as a profession. Needles and Nails. This is going to be an interesting team to watch. (all R2AK competitors will have SPOT Trackers.) http://r2ak.com/registered-participants/

03-17-2015, 12:48 AM
This is going to be an interesting team to watch.

Go, Team Huan! I'll be watching. What can we send those wackos to show our appreciation? Do you have an address?

03-17-2015, 10:39 AM
Compared to some of the other R2AK teams, and solo entrants (one is paddling a SUP), Norton Smith's Hobie 20 Team seems fairly grounded. Perhaps "grounded" is the wrong term for a sailing/pedaling race crew that may practice acupuncture while on the trapeze wire, and will flavor their freeze dried food with an assortment of healthy herbs from Piper's herb business in Port Townsend.

But Team Huan deserves serious consideration to take the $10,000 R2AK First Prize despite the fact they were asked to leave last summer's Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival for staging an unauthorized drum circle.

As it's the "Year of the Sheep," I'm sending Team Huan a water activated, inflatable sheep for their masthead. This flotation, available online at Toys-R-Us, may come in handy should they go over in one of the Grenville Channel's downslope williwaws.

Happy St. Paddy's.

03-18-2015, 02:13 AM
A water-activated, inflatable sheep? Really? How do you find this stuff, bro? I am impressed. My kitty would like one, please.
Sail on. . .

03-22-2015, 01:43 PM
Making my way from Capitola to Tiburon yesterday, my first stop was at Blue Pelican Marine at Grand Marina in Alameda. For those who, like myself, are into recycled marine equipment, Blue Pelican is a gem of a consignment nautical hardware store. Tom and crew are boat savvy and run a shipshape business with fair prices. Fun and treasures can be found perusing Blue Pelican's aisles of gear, rope, plumbing, propellers, foul weather gear, books, charts, and pretty much whatever you might need. http://www.bluepelicanmarine.com/

From Blue Pelican I wandered to the nearby launch ramp to see what was happening. There was an 18' runabout outboard that had been out cruising the Bay for two hours. The owner was in distress, and I inquired as to the problem. Apparently, he had launched without fitting the drain plug, and his boat had pretty much filled with water before he could make it back to the ramp.

Beyond the sinking runabout was a colorful fleet of San Francisco Bay's oldest class: the 12 foot, 400 pound, San Francisco Pelican. The Pelican design is said to have originally descended from Joshua Slocum's LIBERDADE of about 1880, a "cross between a dory and a Japanese sampan http://www.wavetrain.net/lit-bits/331-joshua-slocums-liberdade-where-is-she-now.

The first SF Pelican was built in 1958 and immediately dubbed a "floating bathtub." But the lug rig and ample bow sprit, sampan bow, healthy freeboard, stability, and being unsinkable proved a winning combination for sailing SF Bay. Many plans were subsequently sold nationwide to home builders, and this "ugly duckling" design became an icon of small boat seaworthiness.

Pelicans, with their flat bottom, centerboard, and kickup rudder also proved well suited for beach launching and camping, yacht club programs, even racing. The Pelican fleet I had stumbled upon at Alameda had come from as far as Winters and Stockton. Their "low stress" approach to racing was being directed by solo race chairman "Howard," who told me he'd been around Pelicans since 1972. Howard's start line was between and orange flag on the dock, and the stern of the large CG cutter across the Estuary. Easy Peazy.

H Spruit
03-23-2015, 08:00 AM
Ah yes the Pelican, curious lot indeed. I have often wondered if the Pelican boats attract character or build character?
Because I have never met a Pelican sailor that was not a character.

03-24-2015, 04:13 PM
Yes, the Pelican both attracts and builds character. The Fleet 1 association of the Bay Area Pelicans is like a big extended family and fosters multigenerational crews. Grandparents, children and their kids taking turns. In my 20+ years as a Pelicaneer, I've watched as the kids learning to walk in marinas, campgrounds and beaches now bring their kids. We are an active racing fleet also. We race monthly from Half Moon bay, lake Merritt, Benicia, Stockton, redwood city, del Valle reservoir, Rio Vista, Tomales bay, whiskey town, and more.

03-29-2015, 09:09 AM
A singlehander friend, Mick, has a boat with a dozen bilge pumps, give or take a few. Electric pumps, manual pumps, engine driven mechanical pumps, portable canoe pumps. Even Mick's head pump converts to a bilge pump. His biggest manual pump is a massive, one gallon/stroke, affair.

Mick is afraid of water in his boat. Rightly so, after experiencing two traumatic events. The first on a previous boat when the keel began to detach. The second on his current boat, reaching in heavy weather, when a deck locker began draining into the boat on a dark night. Both times he found himself, adrenalin pumping, with water well above the floorboards.

Mick is the best of seamen, highly experienced. Our approaches differ. I particularly dislike the NorCal ORC Offshore and LongPac 2.51 required "on-deck" pumps that, with their long intake and exhaust hoses, and short handles on a lanyard, take minutes to prime, if at all. In a previous life as a safety inspector, I would ask to see the bilge partially filled with a dock hose, and the on-deck pump work. It rarely would.

I want buckets, lots of buckets.

Mick and I do agree. When sailing offshore, single or shorthanded, if our boat is filling with water, the last thing we want to be doing is manually pumping. There are more important things. Like locating the leak.

Mick's argument for a high volume electric bilge pump is a good one. They pump automatically, while you take care of business elsewhere. At least until the batteries submerge.

03-29-2015, 09:35 AM
When I set up my boat to do the 2011 OYRA series (after having done two SHTPs, the LongPac, etc.), I ended up with four bilge pumps to meet everyone's rules. I've thought about how a singlehander might operate four pumps simultaneously but haven't yet solved that puzzle.

I have the unenviable perspective of looking at these offshore regulations through the eyes of one who attempts to decipher the Internal Revenue Code. There are many similarities, few of the rules are based on logic or common sense and both sets appear to be designed to stifle growth and redistribute money.

The latest twist: To enter yesterday's Doublehanded Farallones Race, racers were required to have read or viewed the following materials:

1. At least pages 1 through 23 of the US Sailing Independent Review Panel report on 2013 Islands Race.
2. PFD selection guides.
3. Rudder loss:
a. 1992 DHF Rudder Loss by Joe Siudzinski, 5/8/99
b. 1993 SHF - Lose a Rudder at the Farallones? No Problem! by Joe Siudzinski, 4/11/93
4. DSC Calling: Who’s Gonna Answer?
5. At least pages 1 through 17 of the US Sailing Independent Review Panel report on 2012 Fully Crewed Farallones race.
6. Rescue of the crew of “Pterodactyl”
7. Rescue of the crew of “Heat Wave”
8. USCG “Rescue 21: Digital Selective Calling”
9. Watch at least Chapters 5-7 of the BoatUS “Radio Communication for the Recreational Mariner”
10. USCG instructions for “How to obtain an MMSI number”

(This was on top of 31 specific equipment requirements and 8 additional recommendations.)

I'll get right on that, since next year's DHF R/C will be equipped with brain scanners to insure compliance.

Edit: Some things don't change though. Moore 24s finished 1,2,4 and 5 overall, and the Cal 20 "Can 'O Whoopass" will finish next Tuesday but has already corrected out to first in its division.

03-29-2015, 12:19 PM
In yesterday's DH Farallone's Race, Synthia and Liz on EYRIE laid the Farallones from Point Bonita, in a lane just north of shipping channel. Even had to crack sheets for the last few miles. 18 knots at the Lightbucket, 20-24 knots at the Rock Pile, they stuck with the #2 on their battlewagon, and tucked in a single reef.

Breeze held from the NW all the way in to Bonita. Beam reaching home EYRIE couldn't hoist their spinny until after Bonita. They eventually set on port jibe, jibed to starboard after passing through mid-span. With a clear lane to the finish off GGYC, a tour boat nearly ran them down. The shock of the 4' wake hitting EYRIE broke the spinny afterguy connection and they had to drop and finish under jib.

Everyone safely back in the Bay before dark.

03-29-2015, 01:36 PM
To enter yesterday's Doublehanded Farallones Race, racers were required to have read or viewed the following materials:


Cal 20 "Can 'O Whoopass" will finish next Tuesday but has already corrected out to first in its division.

I hear ya Bob. The DHF SIs are stupifyingly bad.

And honestly, if I ever get to be race chair, I'm going to make sure there is a Division defined as "PHRF <= 273, >= 273".

I did notice as we rounded in close company with RedSky and Whirlwind the most everybody was rounding the Island with a more respectful distance than in years past. I've always been scared of those waves, this year I had more company.

03-29-2015, 04:51 PM
I have the unenviable perspective of looking at these offshore regulations through the eyes of one who attempts to decipher the Internal Revenue Code. There are many similarities, few of the rules are based on logic or common sense and both sets appear to be designed to stifle growth and redistribute money.

LongPac Minimum Equipment Requirements 3.13 (LPMER)

In the first Singlehanded Transpac in 1978, WILDFLOWER towed a Walker Taffrail Log. These mechanical devices have been around since forever, 1688 to be exact. By means of a spinner rotating astern, my Walker Log would accurately measure distance through the water. I would crawl aft every four hours and record the Walker Log reading in nautical miles run and used this distance to chart a Dead Reckoning position between celestial fixes. No electronic navigation in those days worked between the Mainland and Hanalei.

WILDFLOWER's Walker Taffrail log spun merrily until Day 9, when a fish took the third and last of the spare spinners. By then I had learned to estimate my hourly average speed to 1/2 knot.

Those days are long gone. Walker Logs are now an antique rarity, sometimes listed on E-Bay.

SSS LongPackers are required to carry at least two GPS. A third may be used for AIS positioning. No worries. With a GPS, accurate positioning, speed, and distance run can be readily viewed with amazing precision.

If such information is available from the multiple GPS, why is there Rule 3.13, "A boat shall have a knotmeter and/or distance measuring device?"

A GPS gives you speed and distance over ground just fine. Doesn't that qualify as a knotmeter and distance measuring device? Apparently not, or LPMER wouldn't have Rule 3.13.

It is lovely having a means to measure speed or distance through the water with an expensive electronic knot meter. That way, compared to the GPS speed, one can measure current. But are expensive and fragile electronic knotmeters really necessary as a safety requirement offshore?

Whenever possible, I always avoid thruhulls. Knotmeter paddlewheels poking out from forward of the keel are prone to breakage of the plastic vanes. They quickly accumulate accuracy degrading marine growth. And spurt a gallon of water into the forepeak whenever extracted for cleaning or repair.

I've even seen a B&G knotmeter thruhull punched into the boat when falling off a steep wave. When was the last time anyone's knotmeter was calibrated in zero current, assuming you could find a measured mile and flat calm?

There's a reason we call electronic knotmeters "Thrill Meters."

My hesitancy to put another hole in the bottom of my boat, as per rule 3.13, met its test in 1998. Pacific Cup Safety Inspector Chuck Hawley came aboard and performed our inspection. As many already know, Chuck is a stickler for rule compliance.

When we got to demonstrating WILDFLOWER's electronic knotmeter/speed measuring device, something we didn't have, I pulled out an orange. It was pre-labeled "Speed Measuring Device" Chuck's eyes rolled. He knew what was coming. The instructions, also printed on the orange, were simple: "Peel orange. Toss orange peel off bow and start stopwatch. Record time as orange peel passes stern. Speed in Knots = .6 x Boat Length in Feet/Time in Seconds." (S=.6 L/T)

Chuck Hawley admitted he had learned this trick as a kid. And so had I. The Rule requiring "a speed measuring device" was met, and I peeled the knotmeter orange and shared it with Chuck.

03-29-2015, 05:42 PM
that is beautiful Skip.
was just dialoging with chucks sister Kate re the state of theatre in the 'cruz.
longer story there... but kind of in the same spirit. some times no tech is better that high tech.
different context, same theme


03-30-2015, 09:52 AM
Harrier carries a well worn Walker log buried below along with a lot of other spares. Used thruout the south pacific when "sextant voyaging" in "Rival II" in the 70's.

04-03-2015, 10:48 AM
Skip, We used a taffrail log very similar on our passages in CHAUTAUQUA, the same log my father relied on while cruising RENEGADEin the 50's. The best part of it was how well it trained human senses to reckon speed of the hull by just looking and feeling the water streaming by. There was something about the constant checking of that wonderful old mechanical dial, a recognition that you were accomplishing making good through the water... that electrical devices do not impart to me. Knowing that the spinner might be snagged on passing debris made for great appreciation of every accurate reading, and certainly kept the watch amused. It took longer than it should have to learn not to put out the fish trolling line at the same time. You could only get away with it until a fish was caught. Bonita seldom cooperated by swimming clear of the spinner while being reeled in.
I have found orange peels also tell the current very well when you are caught in light air... or when you need to reveal if the tide has turned from slack.

04-05-2015, 06:16 PM
Sometimes we are blessed to witness miracles. This morning at about 6:40 a.m., near the West End of Catalina, an Easter eaglet hatched. Mom (#91) and Dad have been alternating on the egg for about 40 days.

The West End nest cam is live, 24/7, about 300 feet up a cliff. http://www.ustream.tv/west-end-cam

Another hatching is expected soon, at the Two Harbors nest, about 8 miles East of the West End nest. http://www.ustream.tv/two-harbors-cam

04-05-2015, 10:01 PM
Very near me in Pine Mountain Lake ....an Eagle was seen and captured on camera yesterday by a resident. Amazing regal presence whenever seen.

Here are six photos:

04-08-2015, 05:48 PM
By forklift, crane, trailer, garbage can, or on his back, Dave Wahle enjoys the challenge of moving heavy things. Before WILDFLOWER's first voyage to the South Pacific, I needed to raise WF's disappearing waterline, With the boat on the hard, I recruited Dave, chalked a line on the keel, and Dave and his chainsaw quickly dropped several hundred pounds of lead onto the tarmac. A small crowd gathered. “What are you doing, Dave?” someone asked. Without hesitation, Dave replied, “Skip's going cruising, gotta raise some money and sell some lead.”

Dave is intimately familiar with molten lead keels, having poured dozens over a long boat building career. The smallest were the Santa Cruz 27 keels, a drop in the bucket compared to MERLIN and RAGE's keels, which Dave also poured. The biggest were ten 20 ton “top secret” keel bulbs Dave and Doug Brouwer poured for various America's Cup syndicates. Famously, a trucker delivered one of their keel bulbs to the wrong America's Cup syndicate headquarters in San Diego. Equally famously, Dennis Connors accepted the keel bulb, and got all its secret measurements before calling the owner and saying, “Hey Bill, we might have one of your keels over here.”

Santa Cruz in the 70's, 80's, and early 90's was the center of the universe for ultra light boat building. Today, because of property values, wages, environmental regs, and because people just got tired, Dave Wahle is the last boat builder in Santa Cruz County still standing. Dave builds Wyliecats in Watsonville near the banks of the Pajaro River. His current project is a Wyliecat 40 “workboat” for Clean Ocean projects.

Dave began building boats at an early age, helping his father build a 13' Blue Jay. Later, Dave worked to go surfing and sailing. In 1962 Dave was temporarily suspended from Palo Alto High School for flipping bottlecaps, and took the time off to come to Santa Cruz to surf. After the Blue Jay, Dave and Chris Boome raced Finns, and double trailed their boats to S. Cal and New Orleans.

To support his sailing and surfing hobbies, Dave got a job packing garbage and was my garbage man for over 25 years. Dave liked the early hours, and would run down the street from can to can. His garbage truck was always the first to finish the route, the better for Dave to go catch the waves. I would ask Dave, “How's work?” His reply was invariably “picking up!”

In the early 1970's, Dave teamed up with Tom Wylie and built the 31' MOONSHADOW, one of the premier and legendary race boats on SF Bay. While packing garbage, Dave also freelanced for Bill Lee Yachts, George Olson and C&B Marine. Dave's strength and waterman abilities were much valued on race boats. Once in his enthusiasm Dave bent double a bronze winch handle. Commodore Tompkins became Dave Wahle's mentor and they did many yacht deliveries together. To this day, Dave calls Commodore “Coach.”

During the 70's, Dave and I teamed up to climb many of Yosemite's classic rock climbs. Again, Dave's strength, no nonsense approach, and rope skills helped to get us up and down safely.

In 1981, because of his garbage man occupation, Dave was black balled for membership in the Santa Cruz Yacht Club. Ironically, in the 90's, after being accepted for membership, Dave headed up the SCYC Junior Sailing Program and brought it to a high level, producing such outstanding sailors as Morgan Larson and Dave Shelton. During this time, Dave was a one man race committee and regatta manager and also ran local SCYC races including 505, Lasers, and SCORE regattas. He was famous for his short starting lines, something I mentioned once. His response was typical:, “Get over it, Skip.”

Dave Wahle and I raced many thousands of ocean racing miles together. Sometimes we would disagree. Wordlessly, we would pull out our fists, and play Rochambeau (Paper, Rock, Scissors.) Best two out of three got to decide our course of action.

Having Dave Wahle as a long time friend, sailing and climbing partner has been a blessing in my life. With Dave, you know things will get done, and done right.

We were short tacking MERLIN up the City Front in the 1981 Big Boat Series. On a tack, the leech line for the #3 jib hung up on the spinnaker pole mast fitting, threatening to rip the jib from clew to head. No one realized what happened next, because it happened so fast. Dave Wahle reached in his pocket, whipped out his switchblade knife, cut the tangled leech cord, and the tack was completed without incident.

If you haven't met Dave Wahle, come on down to Santa Cruz and I will introduce you to one of the best and most generous sailors I know.

04-09-2015, 08:07 PM
Isn't there another great Dave W. switchblade story? Something to do with the SORC and East Coast preppies...


04-10-2015, 08:44 AM
Isn't there another great Dave W. switchblade story? Something to do with the SORC and East Coast preppies...

Good recall, DAZZLER.

It was one of the East Coast meets Left Coast moments. 1971 SORC, St. Pete YC. IMPROBABLE and crew were neighbors with Dick Nye's CARINA from Greenwich, CT.

Both crews had on their "uniforms" that day. CARINA's crew, mostly from Brown University, were attired in the button down, embroidered crew shirts, Breton Red slacks, and sockless Topsider mocs, still fashionable today.

IMPROBABLE's crew were different. Pony tails, tie-dyed Easy Rider T-shirts, paint splattered Levis, wool socks and Birkenstocks.

So Dave Wahle and Steve Taft walk next door for a Looky-Loo of the competition for a berth on the Admiral's Cup Team. One of CARINA's crew is wrestling with something that needed a sharp knife. He glances up, and asks Dave, "Can I borrow your KA-BAR?"

Back then, a KA-BAR was the Cadillac of rigging knives, made in New York, and of such high quality it was issued to all Marines during WWII.

Dave Wahle didn't carry a KA-BAR. It was one of those accoutrements you wore in a leather holster on your macrame belt. Dave doesn't do macrame belts. But Dave didn't hesitate for a moment. He pulls out his switchblade and says to the Kid, "Will this do?"

The CARINA Kid takes the switchblade from Dave, and is about to open it the wrong direction. Dave says, "No, no, like this" and punches the button, causing the 4" blade to spring open. The CARINA Kid's eyes, and his friends, who were watching the exchange, got real big.

All in an IMPROBABLE day.

04-13-2015, 02:23 PM
Even though it has been two years, I painfully recall the afternoon off Santa Cruz I flipped WILDFLOWER, my 22' cruising cat. Hard and expensive lessons were learned, fortunately with no personal injury, except to pride. (SSS Forum, page 42, post 412, April 8, 2013) WILDFLOWER was extensively damaged, primarily by Vessel Assist, before heroic SCYC members, using two Whalers, were able to tow WILDFLOWER to safety. Ace Insurance, and Howard Spruit's masterful repairs, helped soften the blow.

The time it took for the mast to go from vertical to straight down was less than 10 seconds. It took a further 15 minutes to right the boat, during which time the cabin filled, and I began to experience incipient hypothermia. The Harbor Patrol showed up, and thinking the boat was sinking, ordered us off the boat in no uncertain terms. The idea of being able to sail my semi-submerged cat back into the Harbor quickly went for naught. At this stage, I should have anchored the boat and regrouped.

Among the changes of operator's safety protocol for WILDFLOWER, I've given much late night thought on how to keep the mast from sinking. Some cats, including Jan Gougeon's G-32's, and Hobie Beach Cats, use masthead flotation "blimps." Others just tie inexpensive water jugs or fenders to the masthead, and let those rattle in the wind.

To my knowledge, no cats have yet used an inflatable masthead float. Though I hope never having to test the idea, I bought two West Marine Inshore Automatic Inflatable Life Vests. The specs say they provide (at the water's surface) 25.5 pounds of flotation each, 51 pounds flotation total. Combined weight of the PFD's, after paring off unneccssary straps and material, totals 2.3 pounds. Synthia made a tubular bag for the PFD's, with quick release velcro closures. The bag, with its auto inflatables, is now secured to the masthead, providing as Howard says, a "psychological" crutch.

Good sailing to all Round the Rocks competitors this coming Saturday. WILDFLOWER will be on the highway, enroute to her new berth at Berkeley Marina.

04-13-2015, 03:18 PM
Synthia made a tubular bag for the PFD's, with quick release velcro closures. The bag, with its auto inflatables, is now secured to the masthead, providing as Howard says, a "psychological" crutch.

A primitive seamstress myself, I am impressed by the sleek design of Synthia's PFD bag. I predict that no fewer than ten O Dock denizens will ask you about it.

04-15-2015, 10:01 AM
This Saturday's SSS Round the Rocks race takes the fleet from Alcatraz to Harding Rock Buoy. On this one mile leg, racers will pass near or over two underwater ghost rocks that once stood boldly above the Bay's surface until they were blown up at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Shag Rock and Arch Rock were both famous for claiming unwary ships and ground tackle. Arch Rock was the more famous, standing 30 feet high, with a 9' wide arch high enough to row through at low tide.

In August, 1901, 30 tons of dynamite blew Arch Rock to smithereens. It's current depth is now 33 feet, still a hazard for large commercial ships heading out the Golden Gate. Which is why Harding Rock Buoy is left to port by outbound shipping.

04-16-2015, 08:25 AM
Round the Rocks competitors will have a particularly challenging time weathering Alcatraz in this Saturday's mid-day flood tide. Thanks to KYNNTANA and RAGTIME! for reminding that some years ago (~1975), famed SF yacht designer Gary Mull discovered the anchoring gear securing Alcatraz to the bottom had enough slack to allow the Island to range about 160 yards in most directions, mostly East/West. Just when you think you are on a final clearing tack, Alcatraz can and will move just enough to make things difficult. Here's Gary's Report:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~

Why, after all these years, the Federal Bureau of Land Management and the Federal Department of Corrections have finally seen fit to go public about some of the actual details regarding Alcatraz is a mystery, as most things to do with government usually are.

Ordinarily, bureaucrats tend to gather information relentlessly, but seem philosophically incapable of releasing anything actually useful. They will spend hundreds of thousands of your dollars and mine on studies of the mating habits of some obscure insect found only in Beaverbreath, Oregon, but won’t let the citizenry in on the secrets of why, if daylight savings time is so great, we don’t have it all the time.

Having kept a secret for over a century, censured all references or even hints about it from history books and even retouched numerous paintings in public buildings and museums, our friends in high places have done a complete about face and decided to come clean. I’m sure they have an ulterior motive that will show up on some new tax proposal.

Nevertheless, it gives me an opportunity to offer some information which I think should go a long way toward understanding the strange currents and the odd tactical situations which come up so often when sailing near Alcatraz.

We are all, I am sure, familiar with the famous “cone” under Alcatraz and, in fact, many people realize that there is not one cone, but two. The most obvious one, of course, is the wind cone which can be seen on the water and is clearly the simple phenomenon of the island blanketing a substantial area to leeward. You can look at the water and see the glassy calm under the island and, with relatively little skill, a sailor should be able to avoid that calm in the middle of a race.

However, just as certainly, many of the more experienced sailors realize that there is another “cone” below the island on most occasions, and that is a current cone which is quite substantial on a flood tide and, in fact, acts very much like a wake of a large ship. This is the reason why many old timers in the Bay speak of “playing the cone,” meaning that they have to get as close to the island on a flood tide as possible in order to utilize the “wake cone” and, at the same time, avoid the wind cone.

The really experienced sailors — Jake Wosser and Myron Spaulding come most readily to mind — established well-deserved reputations as they seemed to exercise an uncanny ability to sail even a little way into the flat spot of the wind cone and yet benefit from the “suction effect” of the wake cone. On more than one occasion racing International One Designs 25 or so years ago, I had the experience of seeing Jake sail up under Alcatraz well into the flat spot, with his boat sitting bolt upright, yet still moving with virtually undiminished speed forward, caught in some odd back eddy that was undetectable to the rest of us.

The International Class, or so-called ICs, were one of the hottest classes on the Bay in those days, and the fleet was centered at the San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere. Jake Wosser was the reigning king of the class and, while he was not unbeatable, we didn’t finish ahead of him very often and certainly never with ease. On one occasion, going back to the club and sitting over screwdrivers which, for some reason, Jake insisted on calling spoolies, we were discussing the race where he had once again played the cone to perfection, gaining 200 yards at least, and putting an end to any hopes we had had of catching him.

Neither one of us were on our first drinks as we sat discussing the race, and after I lamented that once again he had won the race only because of some tidal fluke near Alcatraz, Jake slipped and gave me my first clue as to what was really going on.

My comment to him was that he seemed to have been dragged to weather almost as though he were caught in the wake of an aircraft carrier, and he looked at me with that little tight smile of his and said, “You damned fool, it’s a ship!” When asked what he meant by that, he clammed up tight and I didn’t think much more of it that day, but his remark kept running around in my mind to the point where I started to do a bit of research. I was going to UC Berkeley at the time and my first move was to go to the geography department to go over the most detailed charts I could find of San Francisco Bay. At the same time, the Army Corps of Engineers was doing a very detailed study of tides and currents in the Bay preparatory to making that fantastic model over in Sausalito.

My next clue came when I went over to the model and talked with one of the technicians who was in charge of translating the various readings the government had been making around the Bay into adjustments to the little drag plates embedded in the model of the Bay which allow the Bay model to duplicate exactly the currents of the Bay. I noticed that around Alcatraz the drag plates were bent in a very curious manner completely different from those throughout the rest of the model. I remarked to the Corps of Engineers technician that I was studying naval architecture at Cal, and that the way in which the drag plates had been adjusted reminded me most of the turbulence simulators on tank test models, and that it looked to me like they were trying to model the wake of a ship more than the flow of water around an island.

He smiled and said, of course, that was exactly it, because Alcatraz, in fact, wasn’t actually an island but is, for all intents and purposes, a very large ship anchored in its present location.

A long discussion ensued in which, as it turned out, I was made privy to a number of bits of information that were still supposedly classified, at least by the federal penitentiaries board.

It turns out that the reason that there are two cones, a wind and water cone below Alcatraz, more similar to an anchored ship than an island, is simply because Alcatraz itself isn’t actually an island.

While all of the facts have been available to the public for years under the Freedom of Information Act, they have been obscured simply because all of the facts and information were never gathered together in one place and connected in a logical pattern.

Here now is the true story of Alcatraz. In the early 1700's, when the Spanish first began exploring what is now Northern California, they came upon San Francisco Bay and were stunned by its beauty and obvious advantages as a safe harbor as tourists are still stunned today. That it would make a fabulous harbor for a settlement was clear even at first glance. A small Spanish settlement was begun, and western civilization had come to San Francisco Bay.

Father Junipero Serra and others began preaching their wares and the settlement prospered. The Spanish were concerned about protecting their settlements and trading posts, and began looking around for a suitable place to install a small garrison. A large promontory in the area that is now Baker Beach was selected as the best place to build a fort to protect the entrance to the Bay.

For a number of years, a garrison which varied from a little over 50 to well over 600 men manned the fort on that promontory, guarding the Bay against unwanted incursions. It was in the great storm of 1772 that the Spanish discovered that the promontory on which they had built their fort was not attached to the mainland, but actually seemed to be what is called now in geological circles a floating island. In fact, they had built their fort on what apparently was a large pumice plug, blown loose at some time from a volcano in some gigantic eruption. There are theories that the volcano in question is Mount Rainier, which was certainly far more active in prehistoric times than it is today.

Pumice, as everyone knows, is a fairly light, very porous rock having a density of just about 58 pounds per cubic foot, or a little more than 10 percent lighter than seawater. In other words, this stone can actually float, as is usually demonstrated in high school physics class. In fact, as it turns out, what we call Alcatraz Island is not an island at all, but a very large hunk of some prehistoric eruption which is composed mainly of pumice at its core but, of course, with crusts of heavier igneous rocks in its shell. It isn’t as buoyant as a ping-pong ball, but it is buoyant enough, as the Spaniards discovered in the 1772 storm, when the waves washed what we now call Alcatraz Island off the beach and moved it farther east, even closer to the Bay entrance.

Luckily, for some reason, it seems fairly stable in its present “upright” position, and the Spanish fort was not damaged, although the garrison was pretty shaken psychologically to find themselves winding up six miles further east at the end of the storm.

In those days, of course, science was a good deal less highly developed than it is now, and the Spanish saw this as an omen warning them that the way they were treating the native inhabitants of the area was not in keeping with the Christian beliefs they espoused and many students of the social sciences and the history of that time are convinced that this gave rise to the incredible efforts to treat the natives more kindly by establishing missions and churches up and down the coast for their education and betterment. In any case, the Spanish fort and garrison stayed in that location for a long while, as can be seen in the very well known mural at Mission Isabella which shows the fort in that location and, of course, shows no island where we now have Alcatraz. When I first visited Mission Isabella and looked at the mural, for a long while I couldn’t figure out what looked so odd about it. Of course, the City of San Francisco with the built up skyline, Coit Tower, the Pyramid, and the Golden Gate Bridge are not there, and it is interesting to see a view of the area when there was nothing but hills, grass, etc. However, it finally dawned on me that Alcatraz Island was missing, and this was another clue that had not been connected previously to explain the mystery

It was in the mid-1800's when California became a state that the U.S. federal government decided to move the fort and garrison from China Beach further into the Bay to what is now called Fort Point.

Very few people realize that Fort Point derived its name from the original fort built on the pumice plug rather than the fort that was built on solid land later on.
The fort was rebuilt and expanded, I think, in about 1865 or so, at which time the old fort was completely torn down to make way for the new one. The U.S. Army took advantage of an extremely high tide and decided to move the fort even further into the Bay and anchored it offshore. It served as a perfect blocking fort for the San Francisco Bay entrance, but as there became less and less need for a fort, it was moved to its present location, using the original Spanish anchor chains and anchors to secure it.

The original Spanish chain was a fantastic piece of iron work, apparently forged by one of those magnificent steam forges in use during that time. The links are severely worn away where they would join with one another. The links were raised by a fisherman in 1923 when he fouled it with his gear. The link will soon be on display next to the section of cable from the Golden Gate Bridge in the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge museum.

Chart No.1 shows the various positions of Alcatraz “Island” as nearly as I have been able to determine them from the records to which I have had access. The original Spanish anchoring array was a group of three anchors at approximately equal angles from the island, which served until the famous attempted escape from Alcatraz prison portrayed in the movie with Clint Eastwood.

It is interesting to note that, at that time, even though Alcatraz was no longer used by the Federal Bureau of Corrections, they still had a secrecy blanket on the fact that the basic constituent of the island was pumice. The reason for this, of course, is that they thought they might very well need the prison later on and didn’t want this fact to be known.

Frank Morris, the con who escaped from the island apparently had done his homework, and in the movie where you see him digging through supposedly rotting concrete, in fact he actually dug through pumice, which is quite soft. The Hollywood filmmakers had to rewrite those details to keep the secret.

Obviously, no one that I know of has actually ever seen “rotten” concrete. It is one of the glories of Hollywood that they were able to make so many people go along with the gag that he used a soup spoon from the mess hall to supposedly dig through “rotten” concrete. In fact, he was digging through pumice, as many of us have done in high school or college classes.

Apparently what had tipped Morris on to the idea was that he had noticed from his cell window that, on a strong ebb tide in the spring when there was a lot of water flowing down from the rivers to augment the ebb tide, the island seemed much closer to San Francisco than usual.

He made a very crude surveyor’s instrument which he could use from his cell window, and determined that during certain combinations of ebb tide and river flow, the island actually moved nearly 160 yards closer to the San Francisco shore.
Apparently he thought this was just the margin he needed to assure his ability to swim to shore. Most sailors here in the Bay have had similar experiences with the island moving somewhat in tidal currents. Who hasn’t had the experience of feeling certain that they could sail to weather of the island without a tack, only to find at the last minute that the island had moved just enough to force a tack offshore?

This attempted escape gave the prison authorities serious worries and led them to request that the Army Corps of Engineers do a more careful survey of the area around Alcatraz in which they found that one of the old Spanish anchors had dragged considerably. The drift, together with the wearing between the links, had added this approximately 200-yard slack in the anchoring system. It is not known for certain, but there was some suspicion that the anchor chain might very well have been snagged by a Japanese midget submarine, however, that is a totally unsubstantiated rumor.

As is usual with anything federal, the original budget for replacing the anchoring array with more modern equipment began at an estimated cost of $32 million, and wound up costing you and me, the taxpayers, nearly $182 million, including the casting of four stainless steel anchors, each weighing about 26 tons, and connected to the island with stainless steel cables and a rather sophisticated water cylinder damping system.

The new anchor array was installed under the guise of yet another Army Corps of Engineers survey of the area. The anchors and cables were laid during the early morning hours, when the fewest people might be around. One side benefit from this last operation was that the cable layer was easily converted to its present use, and we have all seen it at one time or another wandering around the Bay collecting flotsam, jetsam, and debris in the forward scoop area in which used to be mounted the stainless cable laying guides.

The future of Alcatraz is somewhat uncertain. Although not made broadly public, there was apparently some talk a few years back about moving Alcatraz once again, either somewhere into the South Bay or perhaps up in the shoals near San Rafael, or even as far up as Carquinez to serve as a place on which the federal or state government, it was never clear which, would build low-cost housing.

Unfortunately, as it turned out, owing to the silting upon the Bay from soils carried down from the rivers, Alcatraz seems to be firmly aground at present and the next tide high enough to float it once again will come in the year 2015.

By that time, it is hoped that we will have found some other way to deal with the problems of the homeless and the need for low-cost housing, but it certainly would be grand to see the Bay once again open as it was when the Spanish explorers first came here.
Gary Mull

04-16-2015, 09:46 AM
Fascinating, Skip. Even tho I was the Deputy District Engineer of the San Francisco Engineer District, 1967-68, I was totally unaware of this. I did get involved in the expansion of the model to include the waterways of the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta, so am familiar with the modelling techniques involved. But a "floating island"...wow!

04-16-2015, 10:02 AM
This information has been shared quietly within SSS for a long time. It occurred to me at the recent Corinthian Race awards meeting that some of the newer skippers (like Kynntana, who is from Florida) might not be privy to it. I was reminded of this because a couple skippers were wearing older Corinthian Race shirts on which the Floating Island was subtly included:

04-16-2015, 01:30 PM
It really does move!!! During the Three Bridge Fiasco, I was pointed toward the Bay Bridge and every time I turned to look around, Alcatraz was gaining on me. Super creepy how it does that ;)

I must say, in Florida, we do have these "logs" that can swim upstream whenever you pull out the Wonder Bread to make sandwiches.

04-16-2015, 08:45 PM
Round the Rocks competitors will have a particularly challenging time weathering Alcatraz in this Saturday's mid-day flood tide.
So says Skip and seeing a 3.3 max flood at 10:37 I believe it. If a boat gets around Alcatraz in the cone what does the boat do then to get around Harding Rock? C'mon Skip, chime in here with more. SDK

H Spruit
04-16-2015, 10:20 PM
OK I need to be convinced.
I read the whole thing thinking that this could be true but then I read it had been singed by one of the bays greatest pranksters, so I just don't know???

04-17-2015, 12:20 PM
...one of the bays greatest pranksters

OK, now I really want to hear more about Mull.

H Spruit
04-17-2015, 07:06 PM
Do remember the IOR rule?
Well, I always thought that Mr. Mull was deeply involved making and maintenance of that "PRANK!"

red roo
04-18-2015, 04:25 PM
Do remember the IOR rule?
Well, I always thought that Mr. Mull was deeply involved making and maintenance of that "PRANK!"

At one point in the late 1970s, I believe, Mull was acting head of the IOR's technical committee. But he didn't formulate the IOR. The rule was initiated by yacht designer Dick Carter, who developed it in partnership with yacht designer Olin Stephens.

But like you, I'm skeptical about one particular "Floating Island"!

04-19-2015, 07:31 PM
A 2 hour tow up Hwy.17 and 880 early Saturday delivered WILDFLOWER from the Capitola driveway to the Berkeley Marina hoist. Except for an overhanging tree partially blocking access, mast step and relaunch was successfully completed by 10 a.m. Cheryl, at the Harbor Office, made things easy to register for a 25 foot slip, of which five were available. Thank you, Berkeley! My sour taste of Brickyard Cove Marina denying WILDFLOWER admittance because "the owner doesn't like catamarans," was mollified.

After lunch we sailed northward from Berkeley in pursuit of Round the Rockers. Though the NWS had forecast 5 knot breezes, we found 20-22 knots of wind against ebb. A double reef main was plenty, and I should have gone for the new triple reef.

By the Richmond breakwater, things had mellowed, and we began to encounter SSS racers in southward procession from Red Rock towards the RYC finish. Everyone we passed looked good, close reaching in Chamber of Commerce weather: sun, smooth seas, and 14 knots of wind.

After, many Round the Rockers took advantage of friendly welcome to the Richmond Yacht Club. In fact, I went to check in with JD, the Harbor Master. I didn't have to say anything. He looked up from his counter, smiled, and said "Welcome to Richmond Yacht Club. Make yourself at home." What a concept. If only other sailing clubs were as welcoming to the diverse fleet that is SSS.

On the RYC deck, it was a gathering of the Tribe: RAGTIME, DIANNE, KYNNTANA, INISCAW, NIGHTMARE (welcome, Greg!), EYRIE, DURA MATER, NOZOMI, STINK EYE, DOMINO, TRI-N-FLY, SPARROWHAWK, LIGHTSPEED, SUMMERTIME DREAM, and many others whose names I have forgotten.

Thanks to the RC, and the SSS Commodore, who was on the RYC deck hawking T-shirts to support your next event.

Congrats also to Daniel on JETSPEED for his Single-Handed overall win, just nudging out SUMMERTIME DREAM. For those who don't know, Carl Schumacher's 1979 1/4 ton design SUMMERTIME DREAM was a winner from the get go, and helped to establish Carl as one of the preeminent designers of our generation.

Today, under Scott Owen's hand, SUMMERTIME DREAM continues to be a winner in all respects: pretty, fast, well sailed and maintained, good rating, and plenty of soul. She'll be a threat in any SSS Race entered.

And we keep moving ever

04-20-2015, 12:40 PM
Autopilots are tricky things. I had first hand reports of at least 4 that did not get as far as Alcatraz, the first mark on Saturday, before dying.

For singlehanders, AP's are a vital piece of boat equipment. But reliability is not a given, no matter if yours is the expensive spread, or toy $500 model. Which is why the General carries 9 spares.

If you only carry one spare, and your primary AP fails, which it will, then you no longer have a backup.

It is of serious concern to me that tiller pilot manufacturers like Raymarine do not include any means to physically attach a tiller pilot to the boat. No lanyard, no secure point on the tiller pilot to attach a lanyard. I've seen more than one tiller pilot dragging astern by its power cord. Deficient design.

Below decks AP's are, of course, less vulnerable to the elements. The problem is if they are semi-permanently connected to the rudder shaft, even when turned off, there is drag on the steering system, making things less sensitive when hand steering.

Auto pilots are like windshield wipers and refrigerators. You miss them when they stop working.

04-20-2015, 01:34 PM
But mine is a SmartPilot. It says so right on it!

And the reason the drives aren't physically attached to the boat is so you can throw them overboard more easily.

04-21-2015, 09:30 AM
My defective pilot is pretty smart, too. Whenever it gives me some new error code and won't stay in auto mode, I just push enough buttons until it gives up and starts working again. So a new AP is now on its way, which I hope to install in time for the Farallones race!

04-22-2015, 07:22 AM
It's coming on that time of year as High Pressure builds offshore. Currently Storm Warnings in Gale Alley, off Mendocino Coast, for "N winds 35 to 40 kt. Gusts to 50 kt this morning. Waves N 22 ft.".

Further south, offshore Central CA and Big Sur, gale warnings have been forecast.

The shore support team is impressive. But I find curious the weather and routing wisdom of setting off this past Monday from SF to break rowing records to Hawaii and across the Pacific, with four on a boat designed for two. Carbon oars and fleece lined rowing seats will only get so far. The intention to "get as far west as fast as possible" may likely meet reality. I wish the crew of DORIS good luck. http://coxlesscrew.com/where-is-doris/

04-25-2015, 09:31 PM
On a recent weekday we sailed WILDFLOWER from Berkeley Marina 33 miles across the western side of San Pablo Bay and up the Petaluma River. It seemed a voyage back in time, as we saw only one commercial ship in San Pablo Bay, and no other traffic in the River, a benefit of off-season cruising.

San Pablo Bay, about 8 feet deep, was the muddy color of PG Tips English Tea. We had a fast sail North, with 20 knots of SW wind at our stern, and entered the pastoral River at low tide. Navigation was straight forward through the many twists and turns, and at several points the River seemed to disappear into the fields ahead, only to have a channel open up as we approached.

The was much bird life, including ospreys and their large ragtag nests. One osprey flew overhead carrying a fresh fish in its underbelly bomb bay. The fish was being carried horizontally, head forward, and was likely not appreciating the view while wondering what had just happened when he was unceremoniously snatched from his home waters.

After 6 hours we arrived at the Inner Town Basin of Petaluma. Despite three confirmation calls, the D Street Drawbridge tender didn't show, and we anchored just downstream of the Bridge to await opening. After 30 minutes, he appeared. The bells rang, horn tooted, crossing arms lowered, and bridge raised. Once inside the Inner Basin we tied up to the empty Southern Docks and were issued a paper warning to not leave coolers in the cockpit, as "rowdy kids had been known to board at night and steal alcohol." I'd been warned of bears in Yosemite. But this was a first.

The night was pleasant and cool, mostly quiet except for something that sounded like it was trying to eat the boat. I guessed it was the sound of wavelets lapping against the vertical transoms. But who knows.

Petaluma was originally named "Chickaluma" as in the "World's Egg Capitol." Even Petaluma Yacht Club's burgee had a chick emerging from an egg. Saturday was scheduled to be the historic "Egg and Butter Days" festival, complete with parade. I wondered what Captain and Mrs. Resech, and Peter Gambetta would have thought. They skippered the historic scow schooner ALMA up the Petaluma River continuously from 1926 to 1957, carrying 125 tons of oyster shell they had dredged from the Bay bottom on each trip. The oyster shell would then be ground up in Chickaluma for chicken feed.

The next morning the bridge tender again missed his appointment, and we idled for 40 minutes, drinking coffee and eating fresh pastry, while jilling about in the pond sized basin.

Eventually the bridge lifted and we proceeded downriver with a 2 knot ebb pushing us along. 15 miles later we again entered San Pablo Bay to find the forecast wind of 5-15 knots seemed in error. We had 20, gusting 25, from the NW. A double reefed main and 20 square feet of jib rolled out was plenty to maintain 7 knots and level flight. Near China Camp the breeze increased, with gusts to 30, and we took off on a beam reach for the Richmond Bridge.

Once through the Richmond Bridge we encountered an orange, San Francisco Pilot Boat seemingly out of control. It was doing all sorts of high speed manuveurs and circles, and twice approached close enough to give a good dose of wake. I could see a person steering, but couldn't tell if it was the Captain's three year old son.

Past Brooks Island, the wind again quickly built to 25-30, and we broad reached across "the Slot" to the Berkeley breakwater, averaging 10 knots, with several bursts to 13.

Chickaluma. I probably wouldn't go there on a busy summer weekend. But it was a fine adventure of moderate proportions.

mike cunningham
04-26-2015, 11:44 AM
The last time I was in Petaluma a poor soul had arrived too late for a D street bridge lift. He was in a trawler of some sort. he decided to tie up to some pilings just downriver from the bridge and await the morning. Unfortunately he did not assess the tide vs depth vs mooring approach and was grounded on a steeply sloping river bank heeling toward the river center. As the tide came up he had no buoyancy and the boat flooded. There were some authorities present but it looked like they just did not have the gear to float him in time.

The other thing I noted was that darn river gets narrow and shallow at low tide, especially the last mile or so before the bridge.

Onece you are in the basin it is a lovely place.

05-01-2015, 09:08 AM
This morning, fog is racing into Monterey Bay in advance of a "Southerly Surge" making its way northward up the Big Sur Coast at 15 knots.

A "Southerly Surge" is a reversal of predominant coastal northwest winds. A "Southerly Surge" of coastal low clouds and fog (stratus) can extend out to 60 miles offshore the Central California Coast, and is a common weather event from May through August, happening about 25% of the time.

If you start a race to Hawaii, LongPac, HMB, or Windjammers during a Southerly Surge, the wind is likely to be light and from the south. Drifting, and light airs predominate and, for the longer races, port tack heading offshore towards the "transition" zone is the name of the game.

The "transition" extends from 60-100 miles offshore. West of the transition you meet the usual gradient wind, northwest, often up to gale force. The boats first through the transition will open up large leads on the rest of the fleet. If you are sailing through a Southerly Surge event (they usually last 2-3 days and can be seen approaching on satellite), its time to get into light air mode. A one mile advantage near the Farallones can multiply 100 fold.

Satellite view of Southerly Surge advancing today (May 1) http://sat.wrh.noaa.gov/satellite/loopsat.php?wfo=mtr&area=west&type=vis&size=1

Southerly Surges often occur at the end of a heat wave/offshore wind event in Central California. This weekend, a major cool down of 20 or more degrees will take effect as the Southerly Surge envelopes the Bay Area. As south winds along the coast enter SF Bay over the coastal mountains, they are topographically shifted into the southwest, even west near the Golden Gate.

"Southerly Surge." A good description can be found here: http://tornado.sfsu.edu/Geosciences/classes/m430/handouts/Southerly_Surge/index.html

05-04-2015, 05:32 PM
You have to like wind if you are berthed at Berkeley Marina, and Saturday afternoon's 25 knot gusts exceeded our fun quotient. WILDFLOWER remained secure in her slip as the water world circled around us.

Nearby, a 20 foot skiff with three fishermen aboard cast off. Despite nothing to hit in their vicinity, and our location two slips away, they charged us, out of control, their 300 horsepower outboard grumbling. Luckily, contact was only a glancing blow, and the fishing crew commented as they swept by "very windy!"

I moseyed over to DURA MATER to see what Jackie was up to. Her refurbished windvane, shiny as new, lay nearby, and Jackie was tucked inside DM's lazarette, fiberglasing transom backing plates in an almost impossible location, occasionally popping up for air. For Jackie, nothing is impossible. It just takes a little longer. You'll see her lovely DURA MATER on the start line three weeks hence, outbound for the Farallones in the 38th running of the Singlehanded Farallones Race.

Buttoned up with double layers of fleece, we walked the perimeter of Berkeley Marina, venturing down on the docks when something of interest beckoned. Near the Berkeley Marine Center was the lovely old schooner, SCORPIO. This beauty of a staysail schooner was built in 1927. She is 42' on deck, and about 50' sparred length. Over the last 20 years SCORPIO has been rebuilt by her dedicated owner, and now graces SF Bay. She had a recent encounter with Colorado Reef down at Half Moon Bay and hit Flat Rock in the fog...luckily she did not sink and was towed to safety by a jetski.

Alongside SCORPIO was a vessel of a different stripe, a thirty year old, 29 foot Warrior catamaran. I got talking with Matt, the young crew member, and discovered his boat, TEAM KOHARA will shortly be disassembled and trailered north to Port Townsend for the Race2Alaska. With a crew of three, shiny yellow KOHARA looks fast. But they are almost out of time, having not yet taken delivery of their race sails. If enthusiasm counts, which it does, this team has already won the R2AK. Matt, Nico, and Josh have not only rebuilt KOHARA, but invented and installed a peddle drive for light winds, and a retractable "franken pole" for their giant spinnaker. I wish them the very best! http://koharasailing.com/

From the waterfront, we detoured through nearby Cesar Chavez park, the site of Sunday's concert by Sopwith Camel. This Loving Spoonful clone, SF Rock group, had a one hit wonder back in 1967 many of us remember called "Hello, Hello" ("would you like some of my tangerine..") https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjYsl__loTw

Finally, arriving back at Cal Sailing Center, we watched my dear sister windsurf with her new board and 4.4 sq. meter sail, just bought for peanuts at a windsurf flea market. You never know what you'll find in the neighborhood. All good.


05-08-2015, 11:08 AM
With sunny skies and a 14 knot southerly breeze, I ran WILDFLOWER from Berkeley Marina north under the Richmond Bridge. The destination was Marin Yacht Club up San Rafael Creek, where I hoped to attend a presentation by Bill Edinger, owner of the well traveled trimaran DEFIANCE.

From Marker #17, it was a straight shot of 2 miles, course 280m, up the dredged channel, past the Marin Islets, to the entrance of San Rafael Creek. The dredged channel is 50' wide, and it being zero tide, the least depth I saw with 5'. The bottom in the area is sticky black mud, and if one gets off the entrance range, it is a soft landing of little consequence, as I discovered while attempting to come head to wind to drop sails.

Marin YC was welcoming, and enjoys a pleasant situation on the starboard side of San Rafael Creek. Bill Edinger's slide presentation focused on his recent (spring/summer 2014) voyage to French Polynesia on the 45' Norm Cross tri DEFIANCE. Founder of Spectra Watermakers, Bill is the best of seamen. And the voyage amongst the islands of the Marquesas and Societies looked idyllic.

However, halfway back to San Francisco from Hawaii, the headstay toggle on DEFIANCE broke, and the mast fell backwards, landing mostly on board. The mast, and much of the rigging was recovered. And Bill and crew, with 100 gallons of extra fuel transferred from a passing cruise ship, motored the last 1,000 miles safely home. The story, and a short video shot from aboard the cruise ship are here: http://www.sailfeed.com/2014/10/dismasting-in-the-north-pacific/

DEFIANCE's dismasting brings up food for thought. Metals aboard small boats are mostly out of sight, out of mind, and often forgotten with the assumption "it's metal, it can't break."

However, as is often distressingly found, there is no metal, even stainless steel, that does not suffer effects from corrosion and/or fatigue.

Out-of-sight metals include keel bolts, internal rudder structure, bronze propeller struts and thru-hulls, all of which can fail over time. As can rusty steel mast steps, the bulkhead side of stainless steel chainplates, and headstay and backstay tangs, where they are bent to conform to the sheer angle.

If there is welding involved, salt water can readily turn submerged metal to swiss cheese. In the 1978 SHTP a weldment failure took WILDFLOWER's new Sail-O-Mat anodidized aluminum windvane oar off the stern, rendering it useless.

A classic metal failure, due to flexing fatigue, is a keel stepped, aluminum mast at deck level, as well as an aluminum boom at the boom vang. Both areas should be checked for hidden cracks.

I got the feeling that DEFIANCE's broken headstay toggle was totally unexpected, as it was new, and oversized. Bill reported that at the time, he had DEFIANCE's running backstays led outboard to the amas (outriggers). Apparently, the amas would flex in a seaway, loosening and tightening the runners, causing the headstay to sag and tighten when sailing to windward, eventually fatiguing the toggle. DEFIANCE's runners now are led directly aft to the vaka (main hull).

I had a similar fatigue failure on my previous WILDFLOWER. I was 34 days, mostly closehauled on starboard tack, from New Zealand to Hawaii. In Hawaii, I was surprised to find the upper Sta-Loc terminal on my port side lower shroud had broken strands in my new and oversize 1x19 rigging. The lesson I gained from this is when crossing oceans, keep the loose leeward rigging from swaying back and forth by using "swifters," bungee cord or small diameter line wrapped around the leeward rigging to keep things snug.

05-12-2015, 01:36 PM
This afternoon, the ocean off Santa Cruz is the color greenish brown with white frosting, a sure sign it's "breeze on."

At Monterey Bay buoy its gusting 33 knots, at Long Marine Lab (Natural Bridges) 30 knots, and 22 inside Santa Cruz Harbor at the Crow's Nest.

Typical Spring conditions, which we haven't had much of recently. In more tropical climes, and currently in Hawaii, it's termed "reinforced trades." The National Weather Service calls it Small Craft Advisories. Don't know about that. Today, you'd want to think twice about jibeing any sized boat, big or small.

It would be enlightening to watch FOOLISH MUSE, on his Olson 30, pull off his patented single-handed spinnaker jibe. I've never tried it, but he claims it works in this much breeze.

As described in his book, I paraphrase: Square the pole 2/3rds, ease the sheet so the spinnaker clew is 3' from the headstay, turn the boat, jibeing the main, assuming a new course with the AWA at 145 degrees (apparent wind angle). The pole is now to leeward, on the wrong side, and you just leave it there. Legal by the book for as long as you want. Jibeing back is a cinch, you just turn the boat. I do it all the time in high winds, 20-25 knots."

Sounds good to me. Except today. If the boat goes out of control and broaches with the pole to leeward, you'll "plant" the pole and likely be ordering a new mast. or pole, or both, from Buzz.

05-12-2015, 03:07 PM
Olson 30's never broach :) but they round down real good! (Sled, do you remember the photo in Richie's Emporium?)

I can't find "the" photo (which might be titled "Dive! Dive!") but this one will do. I can't tell if the pole has snapped yet or not:

05-12-2015, 06:11 PM
Thanks, RAGTIME!, for the color. HOOT's keel and rudder seem to be flapping in the breeze, and the pole is nearly vertical, pointed down. It's too late to ease the afterguy big time, which should have been done a few seconds earlier.......

FOOLISH MUSE's spinnaker jibe technique for short handing, even full crew, has positive attributes. Leaving the pole on the wrong side during a jibe allows the #3 blade jib to remain hoisted, helping to stabilize the boat, prevent wraps, and helping in the douse.

I would think FM's technique works best with symmetrical spinnakers. But an asymmetrical on a pole could also work. You would just want to keep the pole topped a bit extra to clear the bow wave.

FM claims he can reach to 90 degrees apparent wind angle with the pole to leeward. That in itself is a revelation.

I can think of many places where jibeing/pole to leeward might pay handsomely: running down the City Front late in an ebb, doing quick jibes to stay in fair current; running down the Estuary; clearing Pt. Blunt or Alcatraz when you thought you had it made, and find you don't; and making a clearing jibe to avoid shipping.

I forgot one thing in FM's instructions: "tighten the twings" If you don't have twings, or know what they are, disregard.

05-13-2015, 04:38 AM
Olson 30's never broach :) but they round down real good!

Last Saturday on the way back from the Farallones it was dark and gusting to 25 knots. Our illustrious Web Czar, David, had his crisp new spinnaker up. Temerity has a tiller, which he was gripping like a whaleboater. He was grinning from ear to ear, but he also kept up this low moan: "Whoooooaaaaah!" Perhaps he feared this experience. For me? Ignorance was obviously bliss.

05-14-2015, 10:24 AM
The West Coast has been blessed with iconic, charismatic, and legendary sailing vessels. Three of which I am personally familiar.

MERLIN, Bill Lee's 66' ultralight, held the Transpac Record for 20 years. As well, MERLIN introduced a generation to "Fast is Fun" sailing. During Wednesday Nite Racing at Santa Cruz, MERLIN would regularly sail with 30-50 aboard. It drove the Coast Guard nuts. At the dock, every week, the Coasties would board for a safety inspection. Bill Lee had six sailbags of lifejackets, over 100 in all. And they would make him count every one, just to make sure.

Most of you know Hank Easom and his lovely 8 meter YUCCA. YUCCA has got to be the favorite in any race Hank enters. Unlike most other boats, to be passed by YUCCA in a race is a pleasure. To see YUCCA and Hank in action on the Silver Screen, the Throckmorton Theater in Mill Valley is showing the feature film "Life on the Water" on May 28, at 7:30 PM. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Life-on-the-Water_Film-Series/262361347209174?fref=photo

I grew up in Southern California watching YUCCA race. She was the Queen of the Fleet back then. However, a 42' foot double-ender named SPARKLE would go boat for boat with YUCCA.

SPARKLE was home designed, home built (1947), and her lines were based on a New Bedford whale boat. An argument could be made that SPARKLE was the first ocean racing ultra-light. In an era when sailing designs dug a hole in the water the faster they went, SPARKLE slipped along the surface, with only a gentle bow wave and zero quarter wave. As a kid, I was in awe. How could SPARKLE do that?

If you have 10 minutes, and genuinely want to feel good, I suggest watching the SPARKLE story. http://www.offcenterharbor.com/videos/sparkle-boat-beat/ And check out how SPARKLE slips through the water at 7:40....

05-15-2015, 12:23 AM
Great video on Sparkle. I really liked the part when the original crew showed up!
OCH keeps trying to get my money by sending me nifty things to watch like that.

05-17-2015, 08:13 AM
Musician David Crosby's 74' Alden schooner MAYAN has been sold to Beau and Stacey Vrolyk. MAYAN, built in 1947, is now homeported in Santa Cruz. If her timbers could talk, the stories that could be told.

Yesterday, I had a chance to crew on MAYAN in Elkhorn YC's Otter Cup Regatta, 24 miles from Moss Landing to Monterey and return. Initially, winds were light and on the nose, not schooner conditions. We found ourselves crossing tacks with a Folkboat and Cal-25.

MAYAN is new to her crew, and in her long history, has apparently never been raced. Most of the gear is 1950's vintage. The 25' mainboom has no winch, and is trimmed by hand to a massive bronze cleat. MAYAN's new Ullman genoa, 30' on the foot, is sheeted to a little Barient 22. I had difficulty imagining Beau's plan of racing MAYAN on SF Bay.

But yesterday was good sailing for MAYAN. The afternoon seabreeze filled at 14 knots, the sun came out, and MAYAN began to lift her skirts. We hoisted the massive Advance staysail, which has four corners, a "peak" halyard and "throat" halyard. MAYAN began to sail through the Otter Cup fleet. Santa Cruz ultralight guru Bill Lee took the helm, and we set all but one of MAYAN's 7 sails. Down came the Advance, up went the Fisherman topsail, the forestaysail, the main staysail, spinnaker and centerboard. The crew was getting a workout, and MAYAN, barely heeled, was trucking. I went out on the tip of the 10' bowsprit to check trim when nearby humpback whales began a feeding frenzy, 50 yards to windward. Our 11 crew were momentarily mesmerized by these giant creatures becoming airborne, then landing with a massive cannonball splash.

On a broad reach, MAYAN foamed to the finish at Moss Landing Breakwater. We had to put the brakes on pretty fast and get our 5 sails, including spinnaker, quickly doused, as there's not much runway ahead to the Highway 1 bridge, and MAYAN's turning radius is gentle at best.

The narrow channel to Elkhorn Yacht Club is further crowded with local sea otters, lazing about. Beau made the final turn to the guest dock, and MAYAN gently kissed the float as everyone on the nearby lawn watched this lovely schooner nuzzle into her berth..

Elkhorn YC is a welcoming place, a bit funky (it’s the oldest yacht club on Monterey Bay,) and liveaboards are not only tolerated, but welcomed, and comprise much of the membership. Activities are numerous, and at the evening's awards presentation, we found MAYAN had won the Otter Cup. Overhead, a venerable Roosevelt Elk stared down on the scene. I've never been in a yacht club with a stuffed animal on the wall. But I understand there may be a secret room at St.Francis Yacht Club where such things exist.

05-18-2015, 04:25 PM
I figured you must be doing something fun or we would have seen you at RYC. That's great to see the Wizard at the helm - lots to like about that whole experience.

05-19-2015, 12:34 PM
Call me old fashioned. Today's practice of calling sails by letters and numbers, ie; "Hey guys, wanna hoist the A3, maybe the A2, the S4, or the "Code," is funky.

Colorful sail names are fading fast. Some of us remember the "Mule," that heavy, short hoist jib that got us to windward in breeze. In the 70's the "Mule", with a longer luff and shorter foot became the "#3", aka "the Blade." Thanks, Butch Ulmer for this new and improved sail. New names sells technology, and sailmakers were busy inventing.

For the 1947 Alden schooner MAYAN, Ullman sails recently got a significant order. MAYAN's sails were decades old. Colorful, but rotten. See the first photo below. The square sail up high is the "Fisherman" or "Fisherman topsail." The jib out front is the "flying jib."

In order to power MAYAN up in light winds, Beau's order included an "Advance" staysail, a giant sail, which took up all the floor space at Dave Hodges' Ullman loft here in Santa Cruz earlier this year. The "Advance" is named after the Starling Burgess, 88' schooner ADVANCE, which first used this sail in 1926. It was a breakthrough sail design then, and may still be.

The second photo is MAYAN, looking good this last weekend while winning the Otter Cup. That's the new Advance staysail between the masts. Why is it called a "staysail?" It has four corners. I don't know why.

Then there is the "Gollywobbler." Amongst schoonermen, it is called just the "Golly." It's so big it blocks the sun. The Golly is used broad reaching. That's the schooner SERENA below, with her Golly.

Unless you're racing in the Singlehanded Farallones, you'll see some of these crazy named sails this coming Saturday in the Master Mariners Regatta, with staggered starts off the St. Francis YC between noon and 1 pm.

If spectating the Master Mariners stay clear. Visibility and manuverability is limited at best, especially by the older schooners. One of their racing rules for the schooners in the Master Mariners is: if you can't get around a mark, you can throw a potato at the mark and consider it rounded.

I'll be on schooner MARTHA, 108 years old. She scoons pretty good. Potatoes at the ready.

05-19-2015, 05:33 PM
We Wyliecatters keep it simple. It's just "sail."

05-25-2015, 06:54 PM
A special day, Saturday, when two, big, wooden classics match raced on San Francisco Bay in Division Marconi I in the Master Mariners Regatta.

The schooner MARTHA, 84' sparred length, was built 108 years ago at Stone Boat Works in San Francisco to serve as flagship for the Commodore of San Francisco Yacht Club, JR Hanify. Hanify named MARTHA for his wife, Martha Fitzmaurice Hanify.

PURSUIT is the beautiful 83' M class sloop, built in 1929 by Abeking and Rasmussen in Germany. PURSUIT has, for more than five decades, graced the Sausalito waterfront under Ron MacAnnan's ownership. During all these years, Ron has tirelessly worked on PURSUIT "six and a half days a week."

Light winds, a strong flood tide, and predominantly upwind course favored PURSUIT for the first two legs of the Master Mariners. From the start off St Francis, we trimmed MARTHA for the close reach to Little Harding. Then went on the wind back to Blackaller Buoy off Crissy Field.

At Little Harding, MARTHA was 12 minutes ahead of PURSUIT, who had started 10 minutes later. We tacked MARTHA to starboard for relief from the flood tide current on the City Front. PURSUIT's skipper, wily Hank Easom, held port tack for the Sausalito shore.

There was no relief on the City Front for MARTHA. Hank and his crew of 25 mostly Etchells sailors nosed PURSUIT into a freshening westerly breeze under the North Tower of the Golden Gate and came across the strong flood without having to tack. MARTHA, her 35 tons massively slow tacking up the City Front, rounded Blackaller 4 minutes behind PURSUIT.

It was then I learned a new sailing word. As MARTHA's mainsheet trimmer, and furthest aft of the 18 crew, I heard MARTHA's skipper, Robert d'Arcy, call out, "OK, let her rumble." "Rumble?" I thought. This should be good.

Robert's wife, Holly, was in charge of the foredeck crew. Up went the spinnaker, down came the fisherman, and up went the massive gollywobbler. We jibed to port, running towards Alcatraz. It was soon evident we were reeling in PURSUIT. The Gollywobbler ripped, and had to be doused. But MARTHA was indeed rumbling in the freshening breeze. 4 more jibes and we'd almost caught PURSUIT at Blossom Rock.

Both boats jibed to port for the reach to Southampton Shoals, MARTHA five lengths behind. PURSUIT was carrying her double head rig, and MARTHA her spinnaker, forestaysail, fisherman, main staysail, and main. MARTHA overhauled PURSUIT and we tried to reach over the top. Of course Hank wasn't going to let MARTHA rumble by to windward, and carried us up. And up.

Finally we broke off and steered down for Southampton. Hank steered PURSUIT down also. There was no way for the faster MARTHA to break through to leeward, in PURSUIT's wind shadow. Both boats stayed overlapped for almost two miles, the tip of PURSUIT's boom just to windward of MARTHA's port side rigging.

Friendly discussions ensued between the two crews as to "Proper Course." Hank wanted to come down. We wanted to go straight. Everyone was civil, and no contact occurred. At the Southampton Tower, MARTHA had the inside overlap, and we turned to round, a 180 degree buttonhook.

Hank took PURSUIT wide, cut behind MARTHA by 15 feet, and nosed inside.

As they say, "that was the ball game." On the two mile beat up to R4 Buoy, PURSUIT showed us her weatherly ability, and opened 10 lengths to windward on MARTHA.

It was a reach to the finish off the eastern shore of Treasure Island. MARTHA was again "rumbling" at 11 knots. Too late. A well deserved win for PURSUIT, her owner Ron MacAnnan, Hank Easom, and crew.

Thanks to Christine and Jonathan for the lovely photo of MARTHA here: http://www.norcalsailing.com/

05-27-2015, 10:02 AM

Great posts. I have a feeling that MARTHA and MAYAN will make schoonermen of a number of sailors before they're done. You'll need to make the rounds and sail aboard Terry's BRIGADOON and John's YANKEE. Look out, San Francisco, you're becoming Schooner Country.

I love the term "Rumble" and we shall purloin it for use aboard MAYAN. "Let her Rumble" will be included with "Hoist the Gollywobbler" as one of those phrases that one rarely hears on a TP-52 ;)

Thanks for sailing with us - and the mainsheet winch for MAYAN is in a box in Santa Cruz.


05-27-2015, 06:18 PM
I saw MARTHA and a few other big schooners race at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat festival a few years ago, a perfect day and a wonderful show. The fleet passes very close to shore, quite a spectacle.



05-28-2015, 06:35 AM
Hmmm perhaps a potato cannon would be useful to get the Potato close to the mark?

05-28-2015, 09:20 AM
Roxanne has many MMM photos on the SYC Race Website. <sausalitoyachtclub.org> <race> <racing galleries> The SYC provides the Race Committee for the MMM.

06-01-2015, 08:11 AM
Our 77 year old neighbor at Berkeley Marina recently had a sobering experience in the Friday Night races on his Merit 25. He was steering from the weather rail with his tiller extension when a larger than normal wave (wind was approx. 20 knots) knocked him from his perch. He fell into the cockpit, breaking off the extension and cracking the tiller.

The skipper's weight against the tiller tacked the boat, and with the jib aback, the mast went nearly horizontal. He was launched over the side (the cockpit area has no lifelines), where his PFD inflated. Somehow, he hung onto the mainsheet, and his crew member was able to retrieve him.

He did say three boats in the vicinity stood by to assist. In those conditions, I'm not sure what the outcome would have been. Though he played it down, it sounded like a near thing.

Which reminded me of a recommendation for SSS sailors and others who go offshore. If wearing a harness tether in the cockpit, and there are breaking waves like in the recent Singlehanded Farallones Race, keep slack out of the tether by taking wraps around a windward winch or using a short tether to a padeye to windward. Jacklines stretch, particularly when wet. SSS has lost too many dear friends over the leeward lifelines, even when wearing a harness and tether.

In Memory of SSS Member, Long Pac, and 2008 Singlehanded Transpac competitor Thomas Kirschbaum, who was clipped in, wearing a PFD, harness and tether. But it didn't save him.


06-05-2015, 10:24 AM
I'm sure you all will check out sleddog's coverage in some 70s-era race documents that were recently uncovered:


06-06-2015, 10:06 AM
Yesterday's start of the Race 2 Alaska was the initial qualifier leg from Port Townsend to Victoria Inner Harbor in BC. With westerly winds against a 3 knot west flowing ebb, conditions in the Eastern end of the Straits of Juan de Fuca provided challenging conditions, At least 13 contenders have withdrawn, one multi-hull capsized, several teams took shelter on nearby islands, and the new Bieker proa, Team WILD And PURE, began filling with water.

The multihulls had a field day, crossing the 34 nm miles to Victoria in fast times of three hours and change. All competitors had to drop sail and enter the last mile into Victoria Harbor under human power: rowing, paddling, pedal flippers. This lead to close encounters inside Victoria Inner Harbor. The finish line was a crew member jumping ashore and ringing a bronze bell on the dock in front of the Empress Hotel.

SSS's first winner of the Singlehanded Transpac in 1978, Norton Smith, is competing in the R2AK aboard a Hobie 20 catamaran, Team HEXAGRAM. Norton has always marched to the beat of a different drummer, and his soft spoken voice belies his grit and determination.

There's a good bunch of photos the R2AK fleet arriving at Victoria here:
Norton Smith can be seen pedaling and paddling to the R2AK finish bell in photos #4290 thru "4312. He's the grizzled veteran in blue foulies.

Good luck to all in tomorrow's start from Victoria 750 miles north to Ketchikan. The Race 2 Alaska is run to promote a "bring what ya got" and encourage new generations to design and build low cost watercraft. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/06/us/a-race-to-alaska-no-motors-but-no-limits-on-imagination.html

06-06-2015, 11:21 AM
That looks like a blast if you chose your craft wisely. In a beach cat or strictly rowing boat, not so much.

WILDFLOWER would be a good candidate with an effective manual propulsion setup:

06-08-2015, 08:17 PM
Al Hughes (3x SHTP veteran) and his mates on ELSIE PIDDOCK are already through Seymour Narrows! No one else is even close. GO ELSIE PIDDOCK - She skips in her sleep!

Race to AK tracking page (http://tracker.r2ak.com/)

06-08-2015, 10:49 PM
2145 our time. Looks like ELSIE's sleeping rather than skipping. Anchored? They have time for a dark night snooze.

I know someone who's addicted to TV "reality" shows - the ones where they cast several "goof-balls" "two left footers" "fat old guys" who "Think They Can Dance" or become an "Idol" or whatever. They're good for a few weeks, get laughed off, and usually someone with real talent wins. The writer-producers are already writing scripts for next season with different set of wanna be's scheduled. If I didn't know better - and suspiciously maybe I don't - I'd accuse the AK folks of the same. A paddle board for 750 miles? A klutzy row boat? A clobbered together thing with a pointy end and a sail? A proven production trimaran with a semi-pro team? Who would have guessed? Maybe the glib PR hype in the descriptions of the "teams" says it all? Can anyone see a potential reality TV show coming out of this race? Or am I just jaded?

06-09-2015, 08:27 AM
Lots of sleeping going on - not like the SHTP! But ELSIE was underway early and is moving on out. It looks like POR FAVOR, Hobie 33 and recent Pac Cupper will be the next boat to attempt Seymour Narrows:

Tides and Currents at Seymour Narrows, BC (http://tides.mobilegeographics.com/locations/5757.html)

Pat, yes jaded. (I've seen very little of the reality shows and what I saw was quite enough.) I really thought the PURE AND WILD proa was the purpose-built, semi-pro ringer in this race but they dropped out early and sailed home. I'd really like to hear the story.

Update on PURE AND WILD: I'm not sure who to credit but this is from 48 Degrees North Magazine/sponsorship by OCENS: "The only team that’s had to pull out that I’ve been able to talk to directly is Team Pure & Wild on the Bieker Proa. Dalton said, 'We’re mentally and physically ok. We just realized that we weren’t ready for the conditions that we were going to be facing going up there. This morning, it wasn’t even that windy, 10-12 knots and sea conditions of 2’-3’, and we couldn’t deal with it very well.' "

"I inquired as to whether the biggest problem was buoyancy in the symmetrical bows, which had sounded like a pretty big concern after some of their initial sail tests. Joe didn’t say that was necessarily it, but told me, 'There are a fair number of payload issues and comfort issues, and the combination made it obvious that we weren’t going to be able to get any rest. Therefore we wouldn’t be able to handle the conditions that we needed to be able to withstand in order to make a go of it. Neither of us slept last night. The open water was tough.' "

06-09-2015, 12:30 PM
Bob, I don't want to hijack Sled's Sagery (is that a word?). How how about moving our comments to a new thread? I'm doing just that. Pat

06-09-2015, 12:42 PM
This race has Sled written all over it and besides, he brought it up.

06-09-2015, 03:32 PM
So far, ELSIE PIDDOCK has sailed a near perfect race. Their stop last evening at Otter Cover, under the lee of Chatham Point, was a good call. Going upwind in Johnstone Straits on a pitch black night in 30 knots of wind would have been risky at best.

Traversing Johnstone Straits is rarely easy, and sometimes dangerous. Wind against tide in this section will challenge everyone who gets past Chatham Point. It's about 60 miles directly upwind to the beginning of Queen Charlotte Straits, where conditions will begin to moderate. It looks like ELSIE PIDDOCK is through the worst of it, where for a time this morning they were making only three knots into the teeth of near gale conditions.

I have no problem with anyone commenting here on the R2AK. I know JB and the crew behind the organization of the R2AK. They ain't gonna let it turn into reality TV.

06-09-2015, 04:45 PM
Here's a video made during ELSIE's race prep. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrlBzbrhVTY)

Hi Al!

06-09-2015, 06:15 PM
I did not know until RAGTIME! recently pointed it out that Al Hughes is ELSIE PIDDOCK's skipper. Good Grief, he's one of us. I met Al before and after the 2008 SHTP when he was sailing his all aluminum 60 footer DOGBARK and was first to finish. Al is a serious student of the game, and has great determination.

Meanwhile, one of the favorites in the R2AK, Team Golden Oldies, the powerful 38' Crowther Cat with a highly experienced 6 man crew, has apparently thrown in the towel and sailed back south through Seymour Narrows. Johnstone Straits is currently snitting, with gale warnings. POR FAVOR, the Hobie 33, is in second place, making 2 knots upwind into 35 knots Amazingly, PF is the only boat which has not stopped since the R2AK start.

06-09-2015, 06:25 PM
From R2AK Race HQ via Faceplant: "Okay, tracker junkies: Golden Oldies did in fact part a halyard and is headed back to Saturna to attempt a fix. Race Boss is in touch with the team. Stay tuned!"

Here are Al "Dogbark" Hughes, Mark "Alchera" Deppe, Bob "Ragtime!" Johnston and Rob "Tiger Beetle" MacFarlane after the 2006 SHTP (photo by LaDonna Bubak@Latitude 38)