New Year, New Boat

The last week of December 2014 was very busy with the purchase, commissioning and first charter of our new-to-us Beneteau First 40.  We purchased this fabulous performance cruiser from the Sunsail/Moorings company.  They had decided to not attempt establishing a charter base in San Francisco after the America’s Cup.  Their fleet of 8 identical First 40’s sailed for a few months around the time of the Cup events and were then mothballed at Svendsen’s in Alameda.

By New Year’s Eve we were ready to relocate Vanishing Girl to her new home in Ventura.  Mother Nature also approved of this 350 mile trip by providing clear conditions (albeit cold!) and moderate wind from the north and east.  Perfect smooth water cruising with Captain Jared Brockway and Lt. Colonel Mark Sanders.

11:30 am January 1, 2015

We stopped just once – for maybe 30 minutes – to take on fuel in Morro Bay.  As the photos show, it was a lovely evening on the central coast.  We even let the ‘Girl sail herself while we sat down for a warm dinner.  Speaking of warm, one of the unique capabilities on this yacht is the forced air heating in the main salon and cabins.  It works almost too well, even when its 40 degrees on deck!

Sunset arrival into Morro Bay for a quick fuel stop.

Mark Sanders staying warm on the helm on the helm, somewhere near Pt. Conception.

Looks like ham and eggs for dinner.  I am guessing the guy on the right is on watch.

We arrived in Ventura at 2pm on Saturday Jan 3.  Total passage time of 50 hours. Not too shabby for a dead of winter coastal delivery on a new boat.  Here’s to many more.  Welcome to Ventura, Vanishing Girl… And to a long life of making customers smile while sailing the beautiful waters of the Channel Islands with us.

SoCal Ta-Ta 2014


After taking a year off for the America’s Cup, the SoCal Ta-Ta was back in 2014 with another week of as-good-as-it-gets sailing. Charter guests Scott, Mark, Charlie, and Simon enjoyed a week of spinnaker runs between the SoCal coast and the Channel Islands while polishing their downwind driving skills.


The travel plan alternated between half-day reaches between destinations (usually 20-25 miles) and days spent enjoying SoCal’s harbors and island anchorages while socializing with the rest of the Ta-Ta fleet. This year’s itinerary in a nutshell:

  • Mon 9/8: Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz Island
  • Tue: Lay day exploring Santa Cruz Island
  • Wed: Sail to Channel Islands Harbor; evening party
  • Thu: Sail to Paradise Cove in Malibu
  • Fri: Sail to Catalina Island
  • Sat: Lay day and pot-luck BBQ in Catalina

This is one of the finest sailing experiences around—just look at the smile on Charlie’s face!


You won’t want to miss next year’s Ta-Ta.

More Ta-Ta photos


Newport to Ensenada 2014

This year’s Newport to Ensenada race was a strange one, weather-wise. Some forecasts were predicting gusts in the 30-40kt range off the San Diego coast sometime during the night. That’s record-breaking weather for the big 60-to-70 foot trimarans; it’s also boat-breaking weather. We were all a little anxious, expecting a wet and wild ride for the race.

The all-San Francisco crew (Jared Brockway, Dave Berntsen, Rick Waltonsmith, Danna Pomykal, Thierry de Froidmont) met at the boat in Ventura and we set off for Newport the day before the race. It was a long day (~90 miles), but we had beautiful weather all the way down. Lots of dolphin sightings too.

Race day started out breezy. A couple of the boats had already taken a reef, and we did too not long after the start. Soon after taking the reef and settling into a groove, it became apparent that something was not right. The leeward rigging was very slack and the crossbeams were flexing at the joints. Dave went forward to check, and sure enough, one of the four 5/16″ cable stays that give the boat its rigidity had broken. We retired from the race and headed back to Newport for repairs.
broken water stay

It was disappointing to have the race end so soon, but also a relief. If something was going to break, it was better to have it happen now than in the dark crossing the Coronado Islands in big wind. We weren’t the only casualty—last year’s race winner Afterburner had a breakage too and joined us for a lay day in Newport for repairs.

Newport was not a bad place to spend the day.

With all new synthetic high-tech stays to replace the original cabling, we were ready to go the next morning. The low pressure system that caused the nasty weather for the race had cleared up, and we had an extra day before needing to be back in Ventura. Feeling no reason to rush, we planned to overnight in Avalon before heading back up to Ventura. It was a bad decision in hindsight.

The sail to Avalon was beautiful and quick. On the way out of the harbor, we could see the newly-arriving warm front pushing the low-pressure system down the coast behind us. A welcome sight.
warm front

The harbor at Avalon. Always pretty.

The wind had reversed by the time we arrived at Avalon, and reversed again by the time we left. This warm front was turning out to be more than a return to the normal Southern California weather. The forecast was quickly changing, now showing strong Santa Ana winds coming from inland—and yet we still had the normal onshore breeze leaving Avalon.

The headwind and seas strengthened to the point that we decided to take shelter in Malibu’s Paradise Cove for the night rather than continue to Ventura. The Santa Ana wind arrived in the evening, reversing the wind direction and blowing hot and heavy offshore, continuing through the night. That was good for our trip up the coast because it meant the end of the headwinds. The warm, dry breeze from abeam was great but its extreme variability was nerve-wracking.
This is from the weather station at Leo Carrillo Beach, which we crossed a little after 9:00a. The wind would go from near-nothing to gale force within in a minute as we crossed mountain canyons. The most difficult was this “river of blood” at Port Hueneme. Something about the curvature of the mountains creates a massive offshore flow here during the Santa Anas. Normally the red fingers on the color-coded wind map would extend for a mile or so beneath the mountain canyons and then wither away, but this one took us several miles offshore before we escaped it.
Once we got to Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, the offshore wind calmed down and we sailed the last five or six miles to Ventura with flat seas and a gentle onshore breeze. Amazing that we saw this range of conditions in the span of about five hours along the usually-placid SoCal coast.

Apologies to the crew for the changes to the float plan, but glad that we had some great sailing nonetheless..and some good weather stories to share.


The Baja Bash


This upwind trip along the desert (and mostly deserted) coast of the Baja Peninsula between Cabo San Lucas and San Diego is known as The Baja Bash. It has a reputation for being a chore because the sailing is often uncomfortable and difficult. It is a price many are willing to pay to sail that same 750 miles downwind the “right way” in the Baja Ha-Ha.

It is the first time we’ve done The Bash because we sailed previous Ha-Ha’s on Corsair 31s. These can be folded, loaded on a trailer, and towed behind an average-sized pickup truck or SUV. Orange, being a more substantial boat, is not so easy to break down and transport overland, so she would be sailing back on her own bottom.

We sailed out of Cabo San Lucas on Sunday, November 10, with Rick Waltonsmith (owner of Transit of Venus) and Danna Pomykal of the SF Bay Area. Both are experienced sailors looking for adventure and to see what The Bash was all about.

Bashing isn't so bad

Bashing isn’t so bad

It was a surprisingly pleasant trip considering its reputation, but we did get lucky with the weather. The afternoon of the second day out of Cabo was rough and windy, but that was the only really bad weather we had. One afternoon was so calm and glassy that we got out the SUP and wakeboarded behind the boat for fun.

Marine life was out and about during the trip. We saw hundreds of dolphins, a few whales, sea lions, and flying fish.

It took a while getting to Bahia Santa Maria due to strong headwinds, but after that, we were able to keep up a good pace motorsailing with moderate wind and mostly-flat seas. We arrived in San Diego in less than six days, nearly two days ahead of our planned best-case arrival. With time to spare and some nice weather ahead of us, Danna and I abandoned our plans to fly north from San Diego and sailed Orange the rest of the way up to Ventura by way of Avalon.

Day 1-2: Cabo to BSM

Day 1-2: Cabo to BSM

Day 3-4: BSM to Turtle Bay

Day 3-4: BSM to Turtle Bay

Day 5: Across Vizcaino Bay

Day 5: Across Vizcaino Bay

Day 6: Toward Ensenada

Day 6: Toward Ensenada

Final: SD to Ventura

Final: SD to Ventura

The Bash was hardly a chore for us, but our timing just happened to be right. It is said that the most dangerous thing on a boat is a calendar. This is particularly true for The Bash because the geography, current, and prevailing wind combine so that even moderate weather makes progress so difficult and slow that it’s just not worth the effort. Better to wait until there is clear weather ahead before venturing out. If you do, The Bash can be a lot of fun.

Baja Ha-Ha

Latitude 38’s Baja Ha-Ha Cruiser’s Rally is the most popular and well-liked sailing rally on the west coast. With its perfect mix of adventure and 750 miles of downwind sailing, there is no better way to spend ten days in November when the rest of the country is settling into fall weather blahs. The Baja sun and sailing is hard to beat!


We did the Baja Ha-Ha this year on Orange with three charter guests: Nelz Carpentier from Cal Sailing Club (and recently alumnus of the Clipper Round-the-World Race), John Ricks, and Carl Harrington.

The pictures tell the story better than words—here is Capt Pablo’s gallery from the trip.


The happy crew (in costume here as ’70’s tennis pros) arrived safely in Cabo on November 6 where they turned Orange over to Capt Jared and his delivery crew for the Baja Bash back to Ventura.

Weekending on Santa Cruz Island

Charter guests Rick and Leslie enjoying the sun, snorkeling, and stand-up paddle boarding at Coches Prietos on Santa Cruz Island:

Anacapa Swim/Sail

Looks like our charter guests enjoyed their Labor Day trip to Anacapa Island on Orange!

anacapa swim stylized





Cal Sailing Club Weekend

Our friends Dan, Molly, Jennifer, Mark from Cal Sailing Club and Mark’s friend Nick came down for a three-day weekend at Pierpont Performance Sailing. We made the most of it, getting out the Wetas, the support RIB, and the big trimaran Orange for an overnight trip to Santa Cruz Island.

It was this group’s first time on a Weta—and their first time in Ventura Harbor. Fellow Weta sailor Bob Shirley was there to show them the way, and they wasted no time getting to the fun zone, taking the little boats outside the breakwater where the wind was blowing a brisk 15 knots.


We launched the support RIB soon after and followed them out to take some photos. Looks like they’re having a good time!


After a few full-throttle reaches around Pierpont Bay, everyone returned wet and smiling, ready for a warm shower and some chowder at Brophy Bros.

Friday night was spent aboard our big trimaran, Orange, which left us well-positioned for a morning departure to Santa Cruz Island in the morning. We set off at 9:00a, motoring west until the sea breeze filled in. The sun came out and so did the wind, sending us on a spirited beat to the island.


We dropped anchor at Pelican anchorage on the west side of the island in the early afternoon with plenty of daylight remaining for snorkeling, swimming, and exploring on the stand-up paddleboard.

Molly was planning a first-rate dinner of tossed salad, grilled chicken, and wild rice, so closer to sunset, she sent most of the crew ashore. You know what a smart move that was if you have ever tried to stage a complex meal in the galley of a boat with seven people aboard.

Paul took the shore crew in the support RIB to the drop site on the far side of the anchorage’s headland. We hiked up to the point to take in the views, and to look at the ruins of an old homestead overlooking the anchorage.


After taking in the scenery (and the smell of dinner on the grill), we were picked up by the RIB at the base of the caves on the near side of the headland. Paul took us back to Orange where we all enjoyed an excellent dinner and sundowners aboard.

One of the best things about overnighting on a trimaran is sleeping on the nets under the stars. Throw down a camping pad (for insulation) and a sleeping bag, and be lulled to sleep by the boat’s gentle motion (and the barking of sea lions).


The next morning, we left Orange at anchor and took the RIB along the coast of the island to Painted Cave. The cave is 160 feet tall at the entrance and has several chambers large enough to be navigable by boat. We took the RIB as far in as the third chamber, where sea lions huddle on a rock and entertain themselves by barking into the echo chamber under the island. It is absolutely dark at that point, so a flashlight is definitely recommended—especially if you are the least bit claustrophobic.


Cal Sailing Club is based in Berkeley, and with our guests still having a six-hour drive ahead of them, we returned to Orange, weighed anchor, and began the trip downwind back to Ventura. The spinnaker run back wasn’t quite as brisk as the beat over, but the dolphins came out to entertain us. We saw about six or seven separate pods; each came close enough to swim around and under the boats for a minute or two before continuing on their way.


It was a fun, boat-filled weekend with good weather and great company. We enjoyed hosting, and will likely have more tri-curious members of the club come down for some warm(er) weather SoCal sailing.


Check out the rest of the photos from our photographer-on-the-scene Jennifer Kroon.

Coastal Trip to Channel Islands Harbor

Channel Islands Harbor is seven miles down the coast from our office in Pierpont Bay. It turned out to be a nice (albeit slow) trip there, and a much quicker ride home!

This is where the Wetas really show their advantage over other small high-performance boats: They are still fun (and comfortable!) when the wind is light.

Giving Thanks in the Sea of Cortez

isla carmen

Experience aquamarine

Sometimes the Corsair 31 acts like a sailboat. Sometimes she acts more like an adventure raft. This week she got to play both roles. On Tuesday we were sailing at up to 17.5 kts, and on Wednesday we quietly motored into Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante. The next day she was on the trailer and we were home in SoCal. Easy!

driving the trimaran

No better place

Weather in the Sea of Cortez is ideal in the spring and fall months. Driving a trimaran while sitting out on the nets is like driving a convertible on a summer day.

honeymoon cove

Ample trimaran parking in Honeymoon Cove

Danzante Island, just a couple of hours sail from Puerto Escondido, boasts one of the finest anchorages around: Honeymoon Cove. Pull the boat on the beach and enjoy hiking and snorkeling all within sight of the boat.

dive platform

Trimarans make great dive platforms

exploring the island

Exploring the island

Nearby Carmen Island is ringed by beautiful white sand beaches—and surprisingly secluded. On the far side of the island there is an old salt mine where you can see the remains of old fishing boats on the shore.

salt mine

The old salt mine on Isla Carmen