So we wrote a letter…

to the editor of Latitude 38 and the people of the San Francisco Bay Area sailing community. Here’s how it went:


We’re sailing off into the sunset. We arrived here in the Bay Area a little more than 4 years ago on a journey that we knew would take us around the world in no great hurry. As a matter of fact, 15 years is what we originally thought. Now we think that sounds a little fast.

We started in Seattle, WA, on 9/9/99 in a 50 foot Wm. Garden Seawolf ketch appropriately named the Sovereign Nation. He was a lovely old wooden sailboat that laughed at us while trying to sink while we sailed up into B.C. and all the way down the coast. We learned a lot about sailing and sailors from that boat and from 48 North.

In Eureka, CA, our sovereign nation was hit by a 42 foot Magnum. The owner was headed north to dodge the California luxury tax. He was close to the deadline and tried to warp off a lee pier into a wind that had the entire Eureka fishing fleet staying put that day. He plowed into us with the throttle full on, tearing our taftrail, mizzen boom, and dinghy davits off. The best part is that he tried to get away – just leave pieces of our boat hanging off and floating in the water – but a marina worker saw the whole thing and shamed him into stopping!

We had to sail our boat with a jerry-rigged mizzen and towing our 1924 Herreschoff lapstrake dory in 40 foot seas around Cape Mendecino. (Yes, we should have stood off farther – we can take that much credit for the mess that we got ourselves into.) We lost that dory and mourned her deeply. We had spent weeks the previous summer taking her down to ribs and planks and rebuilding her.
When we arrived in Emeryville, our first B.A. port, we immediately picked up Latitude 38. We’ve diligently read all 51 issues since that landfall. Thank you for the great articles, Classy Classifieds, and especially the smart, on-target letters and the snappy editorial responses to the sometimes not-so-smart ones. (We might have written sooner had we not feared a possibly painful rejoinder to an ill-considered epistle.)

While here, we sold our Sovereign Nation to a crew from the Czech Republic. Today, they are sailing that wonderful vessel in the Croatian Adriatic. We wish them all the best.

We moved on, getting Sapien, another Wm. Garden designed boat – the Capital Yachts-built Gulf 32, a pilot-house sloop that is easily singlehanded by either one of her happy crew. In this boat, we learned that the Bay is as amazing a sailor’s training ground as so many people have said. Last year, we sailed the Delta as far as Decker Island and around to Korth’s Pirate’s Lair on Brannan Island. This year, we sailed down to Monterey and then hopped back up via Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. All told, we put 1082 nautical miles under Sapien’s keel in the Bay Area.
We’re now turning our bow toward Hawaii, well enriched with the experience we’ve gained here and the information we’ve gleaned from the pages of this fine magazine. From Hawaii, we will continue to Kiritimati, the rest of Kiribati, and the rest of the central and South Pacific Islands. Major destinations in store for these travelers include New Zealand’s Bay of Islands, Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, and – who knows – the Mediterranean? We are not rich people. We plan to work wherever we go and we hope to become temporary parts of many communities just as we’ve become a part of this community.

Thanks again for all you’ve done, Latitude 38 workers. Thanks again for all you’ve been to us, sailors of the San Francisco, San Pablo, and Suisun Bays. Maybe we’ll see you in Opua Marina!

Dena Hankins and James Lane, S.V. Sapien, Marina Bay


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