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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Joanne Bergan

Joanne Bergan and her husband Carl were sailing friends of ours from Seattle. They cruised with us in Mexico on their Cal 39 Far Niente, and when we set out to cross the Pacific they went south, to Central America and beyond, further south, to Ecuador.

One day in Ecuador Joanne got sick from food she ate at a local restaurant. It immediately became serious and she was hospitalized. Within 10 hours she was dead.

It was that sudden.

To write about Joanne Bergan I guess I really should know more about her. I don’t know that much, I just have a bunch of memories of a smart, wonderful, irrepressible, great, loving person, who was also a sailor, and a partner for Carl, and a mother of Dalton, and

I, we, all of us that knew her…miss her.

So if my memories are wrong, or incomplete, I apologize.

Carl and Joanne were from California, and they had been together forever, from before they came to Seattle. They were sailors. They had a string of boats in the 80’s, including a Yamaha 36, then a J36, and a number of other boats. I think it was Carl who was behind this parade of boats, he seemed to be constantly interested in some new boat or the other, but Joanne went along, and she shared his enthusiasm with what ever new boat he came up with. They were happy, they had fun, they did well on the race course.

Carl was pretty easy going, but Joanne; she was hot. She drove around in a Mazda Miata with the top down, and I think she drove Carl too. Joanne was restless, ready to go, needing to go, always needing to do something, anything. That was Joanne.

Carl went along. He adored her.

And Joanne had a sharp wit; and a sharp tongue. I can hear her voice, a little loud, sometimes a bit of sarcasm, sometimes a bit annoying, and always with a ready laugh.

Their son Dalton was learning to sail when we met the family, through sailing, and Joanne was so proud of Dalton. She made sure he had all the support any young sailor could ask for, and he improved quickly. They were happy.

Then job things got in the way. Maybe it was corporate downsizing, I don’t know, but all of a sudden the Bergan’s lives had some options. Maybe they just decided that fast track careers just weren’t that important. Whatever it was, they decided to go cruising.

It was just a few months before Judy and I were about to depart on our cruise when they called up and invited us to see their newest boat. It was a Pearson 40, and they were bubbling with excitement as they showed us all the cruising features they were putting into it. Joanne declared that maybe they would come cruising with us. I was skeptical because it had taken Judy and me two years to get our boat ready, and here was Joanne saying they could do it in a few months. That was Joanne, anything was possible.

Unfortunately the Pearson’s sailing characteristics turned out to be unsuitable for cruising, or at least that was Carl’s view. They didn’t leave when we did in July of 1996. They sold the boat.

The next thing we heard was that they were looking for another boat. Then they found one called Far Niente. That was all we knew. We were in California, headed south.

So it was a surprise when we heard a hail outside of our boat while anchored in Mag Bay in Mexico that December.

“Hey Wings”

It was Carl and Joanne.

They caught up with us.

From then on we cruised together, loosely that is, like we do on Wings when we are with another boat. It isn’t lock step, more like: “Maybe we’ll go over to San Carlos”

“Well, we think we’ll take a look at Sante Rosalia before we cross to San Carlos.”

“Ok, we’ll see you later then.”

That’s how we sailed together in Mexico: loosely.

But wherever we went, Far Niente, and Carl and Joanne, weren’t too far away.

And wherever they showed up it was Joanne that spurred us on to some crazy adventure or the other; she was never happy sitting still.

We last saw them in Huatulco, after Acapulco, and when we headed back to Acapulco, they went on south.

Joanne wanted to hit Panama and the Galapagos.

Now Joanne is gone, and Carl, who had a rough time for a few years after her death, is moving on.

But we know he misses Joanne.

And so do we.

Fred & Judy, SV WINGS, Mexico


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

July 17, 2005-Club Racing Is Good

Wings' Crew, from left: Judy Kim, Fred, Judy Jensen, Andy Kung (behind), Justine, Nita Kung

Club Racing Is Good

There is a lot written about America's Cup and other big time sailing events, but Judy and I rather like the local yacht club races, regardless of whether we are, like in the old days in Seattle sailing with Corinthian or The Sloop Tavern, in Vanuatu, sailing with the Port Vila Yacht Club, or here in Hong Kong, sailing with the Discovery Bay Yacht Club. In fact, the DBYC races are often sort of mini-cruises, which are really fun.

Sunday we raced to Cheung Chau Island, had a great lunch there, and cruised home. Here is our report:

Race to Cheung Chau:

Contrary to the forecast, we had good sailing conditions for the start of our Cheung Chau race but when we hit the dead spot just past Kau Ki Chau I thought the weather forecast was going to turn out right; “Wind light and variable to Force 2”. We saw the whole fleet of smaller boats that had started ahead of us spread out half way to Lamma Island and sitting motionless in the water. Behind us Wizard and the multihulls were charging up, but I knew they’d stop too in a few seconds.

That’s how it often is sailing in Hong Kong in the summertime, hot and windless. There had been a few good sailing days this month and the weather for the Macau race was super, but now we’d have to pay our dues and sit.

Or would we?

Conditions Improve

You don’t spend most of your sailing life in Puget Sound without learning how to deal with light air. Soon we had the crew lined up on the low side, the Genoa trimmed loosely, and we were moving. Maybe we were only boat that was. Even better, there was wind coming! We could see it on the water coming in from the sea and we knew that whoever got this new breeze first would win the race. We focused our efforts at keeping Wings going towards the closest dark patch and the reward was that we got the wind, if not first, then at least as soon as Wizard, our main rival in the Discovery Bay Yacht Club Races.

From then on it was a race to the finish. All the boats were heeled over, crew lining the rail, and showing a fine “bone in the teeth.” Crossing tacks in flat water under clear blue skies with Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak high above us. Another wonderful sail in Hong Kong. How lucky can we get?

Luckier, it seems. We got a bit of a knock, tacked over and crossed Wizard. From then on we covered tightly and crossed the line just ahead of them. First to finish and first place on correct time too. Super!

By 14:00 all the boats were anchored off the beach at Cheung Chau Island, our lunch destination, and the fleet’s dingys were ferrying crowds of hungry sailors to shore, where they quickly set off through the village to restaurant row on the other side of the island, in time for piles of Chinese seafood and lots of cold Tsingtao beer, plus some story telling from the day’s excitement. Before lunch was finished Commodore Jim had the official results and we were able to collect our prizes of more beer and a bottle of fine wine before stumbling off back to the boats.

Colorful Alley

Rescue at Sea!

Oops! There was one less boat anchored off the beach then there was when we left them. No, it wasn’t Wings that went walkabout but another of the racers. We could see it far out to sea, drifting happily, the anchor hanging straight down.

Time for a rescue. Off we sped in Wings’ inflatable and a little later we came motoring back, errant boat in tow. We decided that his third place bottle of wine would make a fine salvage prize, or…lacking that, more Tsingtao.

Sailing Home

The sail home under just the mainsail, but with a nice following breeze, was fast and even cool in the evening shadow of Lantau’s high hills. Happy crew, fine wine, Willie and Lobo on the stereo, and 17kts of breeze. Who could ask for more?


The party back at the dock in Discovery Bay lasted well into the night and I’m sure there were some tired, sunburned and hung over bodies that headed off to work the next morning.

But that’s what a great day of club racing will do to you. We love it.

Click Here for all the Hong Kong photos

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Hong Kong

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

July 6, 2005-Macau Race (revision)

Waking up to the snap and crack of flags and banners on race morning gives one high hopes for a great day of sailing. Sunday morning in Macau was like that and we were excited and optimistic as we cast off our shore lines and headed out to the race course for the return race from Macau to Hong Kong.

We’d arrived in Macau on Friday afternoon after racing down from Hong Kong with the Cruise Owner’s Association. The conditions for that race were good also: we had 16 to 20 knots of wind blowing right towards Macau. The start was a bit of a joke, we hadn't a clue when the gun for our class was going to happen, we just saw some boats with our class flag and lined up with them. I was behind the curve with the jib so we started with the jib flapping, but Judy did win the start on position, and when I looked up, we were leading the fleet up the short leg to the windward mark. Unfortunately we forgot our sailing instructions about which way to round the mark and we had to wait for the next boat for someone to follow. After that fiasco, we got the kite up , a bit slower than the fully crewed boats but pretty fast, and the sail filled nicely and started pulling, and we were off. We debated about how to do the the first jibe, and finally decided that Judy would do the foredeck and I'd steer and do whatever else I could reach. Dropping the pole so she could swing it through the fore triangle was the trickiest bit, but we figured that out too, and then we jibed our way through the islands for almost all of the 31 mile distance to Macau’s buoy #1. The sailing was great, and the wind built all day. By the time it got to the high teens we were getting a bit shy of the jibes, and so we probably didn't sail the best angles, trying to avoid the next jibe, but neither did the boat that eventually won. Anyhow, we had a good leg, and had no major foul ups. Sailing double handed with the spinnaker against fully crewed yachts is satisfying when you pull it off, but it hard work, and we did fine, got third place, and were tired but happy when we tied up the boat at Club de Nautico in Macau.

Pearl River Delta

Bridge to Tiapa

Stunning Macau

Booming Casino Strip

Fishing Fleet

Macau's Busy Port

What sailors do when they arrive in a new port is go exploring, and that’s what we did too. After folding the sails, clearing in with the immigration folks who were dockside, waiting for us, and having a few cold brews at the after-race party, we set off to explore the city. The first order of business was dinner and we joined some other sailors at a good restaurant in the old town for Portuguese food and plenty of fine wine. After that we went to the casino district where Judy won enough on the slot machines to make us feel double lucky: first, for our sailing performance in the race and then for her winnings.

Macau is an exotic mix of China with a Portuguese flavor, in some ways unchanged for 400 years. On Saturday we walked all over the older parts of Portuguese Macau sight seeing and wandering up and down the narrow streets and alleys among the many colonial buildings and small shops. Everywhere we were dodging the motor scooters which seem to be the favorite form of transportation. We hiked to the top of the hill to the old fort with its ramparts and cannons dating from 1700 and took photos of the city. Coming down from that fort we tried to imagine what it must have felt like 400 years ago for Dutch soldiers fighting their way up its slopes against the Portuguese in the tropical heat, facing those cannons. And we thought of those soldiers spilling their blood and dying far from home. We were glad we came as sailboat racers, not soldiers.



Narrow Streets

Rock Carving

We finished our day at the awards party for the race with more food and wine and got a trophy for our finish the day before. We also got lots of positive feedback for how well we sailed shorthanded.

So now it was Sunday, and we doubled our crew with two women friends from Hong Kong, Sitske and Claire, who came down by ferry on Saturday night. The day was as good as that early morning wake-up promised with sunshine, blue skies, and steady wind. After clearing the last bridge and motoring into the open water where the start line was set, we felt even more excitement; it was clearly going to be a super day. there was good breeze and plenty of sunshine, and there were boats all around getting sails up and tuning up. Twenty minutes after putting up our own sails and throwing in a few warm-up tacks we crossed the line for the start of another race. Judy won it again and this time I was ready on the winches, in fact I overtrimmed, or she was late in turning up (it seems she was giving the boats barging in above us a break) but our speed was OK. Then she held up high enough to lay the first mark and off we went on starboard tack, leading the fleet. We never looked back and Wings never looked better, pointing high and sailing fast; what a great day!

After passing to leeward of one island, and getting swept up a little by the tide (so that's why those other boats stayed low!) we had a great beat crossing into Hong Kong waters, with the Number 1 sheeted in hard and all of us on the high side, the main flat and the traveller down for speed. We changed gears a few times as the wind went up and down, and we kept close watch on Wizard ahead and Xiphias behind, our main competition. There has never been a better day sailing.

But Hot! It was bloody hot and it seemed like no amount of sunscreen was enough to cut the sun’s blistering rays and no amount of water was enough to quench our thirst. By the time we reached our home port in Disco Bay we were all pretty red and parched. But that’s sailing as good as it gets, and we’re not complaining.

This is the life.

Going Home

Click Here for all the Macau photos

Fred & Judy, SV WINGS, Hong Kong

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Monday, July 04, 2005

Sailing in Hong Kong

Beating up the Lantau Channel, with the Boeing Jetfoil to Macau in the background, Judy enjoys the good wind and nice sailing.

Click Here for all the Hong Kong photos

wingssail-Fredrick Roswold

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