February 1 - Banderas Bay, Mexico
|"Red sky at night, sailors' delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning." We took this photo while at anchor off Punta Mita, Banderas Bay, Mexico, last week, during our quick trip south to check to see that the ocean was still blue and the sun still warm in mañanaland. The ocean was still blue - and chock 'a block with whales - and the sun was still warm. But as for the "red sky at morning" warning, baloney! Despite the brilliant red sky, it turned out to be yet another beautiful day off mainland Mexico.||
Red Sky at Morning
February 1 - Mill Valley to Mexico
It's sundowner time aboard 'Profligate' in tropical Mexico. So there's guacamole and chips with extra hot sauce and limes. Doña de Mallorca has her bottle of Russian River Pinot Noir out, while the Wanderer would be sipping some 'Extra Old' - in more ways than one - Mt. Gay Dark Rum. Which brings to mind a mildly amusing story about the rum.
A few months ago we were visiting with the legendary Warwick 'Commodore' Tompkins, as he was rummaging around a decade's worth of sailing bits and pieces in the garage of his Mill Valley home. As we poked around the stuff, he'd say stuff like, "You want some of those shackles? They're left over from the St. Francis Six Meter campaigns." The stuff was always the wrong size or something we didn't need, so we declined. Then we saw a dust drenched bottle of dark liquid in the back recesses of the garage where the spider webs were thick. As we looked closer, it was a bottle of something we'd never seen before: Mt. Gay Extra Old Dark Rum. Mt. Gay light rum, of course, is a staple at sailing events around the world, but we'd never seen the dark stuff. Upon closer inspection, the Old Dark was described as being made up of "old and older rums," some of which were twice distilled. Whatever that meant. We asked Commodore how long the bottle had been there. "I don't know, maybe 20 or 30 years," he replied. Commodore, as you may have guessed, is not a big drinker. "The heck with Six Meter shackles, can we have the bottle of rum?" He said sure.
Still Life with Sundowners
The decade's worth of dust over the not very modern label was really cool looking, so it was with great care that we brought it back to our office. We gently set the dusty bottle of rum on our shelf for all to admire. But you know what happens to the best made plans of mice and men, don't you? Yes, a week or so later the cleaning guy came by . . . and wiped away the decades of dust on the bottle we'd treasured so much! After we got done cursing, we figured we might as well take the bottle down to the boat and drink it. Which is what we're in the process of doing. We drink more than Commodore, but we're not big drinkers either. At least not on a regular basis. Anyway, the stuff tastes really good - so good that we'd like to find some more. Anybody know where to get Mt. Gay 'Extra Old' Dark Rum?
February 1 - Southern Ocean
"Ten years from now there will be huge multihulls skimming across the oceans at 40 knots and more, and we'll chuckle at how primitive current boats such as 'PlayStation' and 'Club Med' will look - as they take tourists out on day charters." So said Stan Honey, navigator of 'PlayStation', during a phone conversation with 'Lectronic Latitude yesterday. Honey admits to be very frustrated at 'PlayStation' having to drop out of The Race because of sail problems, but is looking forward to the boat's assault on the TransAtlantic record this summer. Honey thinks there will be lots more maxi multihull ocean racing in the future, and but that it's entirely different from world class monohull racing, where the competitive edge is so narrow and the boats sail so much closer together. Meanwhile, in the Southern Ocean . . .
At noon today the 'Club Med' catamaran led The Race by over 820 miles and was just 150 miles from Cape Farewell and the long sandy peninsula that the boats must pass as they turn into the Cook Straits. 'Club Med' is expected to turn the corner and sail between the North and South Islands of New Zealand past the capital, Wellington, from about 2000 GMT today. Skipper Grant Dalton sounded upbeat and enthusiastic about the new sailing conditions and the proximity to his homeland: "We are really smoking here, picked up the perfect breeze and we are heading fast for the Cook Straits... It has all changed very quickly. The layers of clothing are coming off fast, the sun is out, everything feels good, we must be approaching a nice place."
For the first time in many thousands of miles the giant 'Club Med' catamaran is sailing with all sails set, full main and the maximum area spinnaker. Dalton was elated to steer the boat again in this configuration after cautiously nursing the boat through the Southern Ocean over the past 10 days: "The big kite is up with full main set and we reached over 40 knots a few hours ago. I was helming, and at one point it just started to go faster and faster, and I looked down and saw the speedo hover over 40 for a bit."
Even though the psychological relief of approaching the halfway stage with a significant lead is everywhere, the crew aren't resting on their laurels. Already the next stage of The Race is firmly in their minds. After the Cook Straits it is straight back south again on the leg to Cape Horn: "Now that the conditions are better, with a flatter sea and it is warmer, the 'worker bees' have come out and are checking every component on the boat. Sails, deck fittings, rig, hulls and beams, everything is getting a thorough spring cleaning and check out because we really don't have much time before we head back into the dirty bad South again." See www.clubmed.com for more.
Meanwhile, the boys - and Elena Caputo - aboard 'Innovation Explorer', 827 miles behind 'Club Med', haven't decided if they'll make a pit-stop in New Zealand to repair a daggerboard and take on much needed sails. But they'll have to decide soon, as they're not far away. A pit-stop, of course, must be no shorter than 48 hours. A couple of days ago 'Innovation Explorer' had a broken halyard atop the mast and had to send somebody aloft. The way they do it with the big wing masts is send the guy up inside the mast. How would you like that job while the boat is rocking down waves at 35 knots?
Cam Lewis and 'Team Adventure' are currently 4,330 miles off the pace - and having to sail upwind! It's been problem after problem for 'Cowboy' Cam, but he's keeping the faith. If he continues to do so, we wouldn't be surprised if things don't turn around at least a little for him. After all, there's still half the course and half the Southern Ocean ahead of the two leaders, and anything could happen. Interestingly enough, a few days back Skip Novak of 'Innovation Explorer' had a few harsh words for Cam, saying he was prone to take too many risks - including perhaps pushing 'Team Adventure' so hard that it busted up the main beam, requiring the boat's pit stop in South Africa that dropped her so far behind. It reminds us of two years ago, when Cam and Skip were on the Bay with Bruno Peyron's 86-ft 'Explorer' - now stretched and renamed 'Legato' - putting on a dog and pony show for the press and potential investors in 'Team Adventure'. It was Cam's gig, and Skip was just along to help and check out maxi multihulls. Cam was indeed a cowboy that day, slashing across the Bay at speeds in excess of 30 knots - which was really cool. Unfortunately, in the process, he did a few silly things such as deliberately sailing over racing buoys for the Citibank 11:Metre Cup off Pier 39, and repeatedly sailing around Pier 39, stealing the thunder from the other event. As embarassing as that all was, we're gaining more respect for Cam based on his perseverance.
Ranking, 11:00 GMT:
1. Club Med / dtf 11,649.5 miles
2. Innovation Explorer / dtl 827.6 miles
3. Team Adventure / dtl 4,331.2 miles
4. Warta Polpharma / dtl 4,915.3 miles
5. Team Legato / dtl 6,294.6 miles
February 1 - Atlantic Ocean
Philippe Jeantot reports that, "The battle for the crown continues between the two leaders of the Vendée Globe, Michel Desjoyeaux ('PRB') and Ellen MacArthur ('Kingfisher'), both probably unaware that, because of their incredibly close match after 84 days circumnavigating the planet, the Vendée Globe has come under the microscope of thousands more people worldwide.
"Michel Desjoyeaux ('PRB') has squeezed out a few more precious miles over Ellen in the same 15-kt northeasterly breeze, showing that even his fractionally superior speed of 0.8 knots can make a difference over 12 hours. Who will have the last word? Desjoyeaux indeed told the Race HQ that he had one final weapon in the shape of a headsail specially tailored for this upwind stretch. 'PRB's skipper has kept this sail in his hold all the way round wisely waiting for the moment to hoist and hopefully accelerate away from any potential rival. Ellen did a while back admit to having lost certain sails, notably the use of her gennaker, which she hoped to repair at the time. However, since this incident we have heard no news on the state of this sail, the young British skipper probably not wanting to divulge such information to her rivals. The current difference in their boat speeds is perhaps showing these first indications of the condition and effectiveness of their respective sail inventory."
Standings as of February 1 at 1500hrs (GMT): 1. 'PRB' (Desjoyeaux); 2. 'Kingfisher' (MacArthur); 3. 'SILL Matines La Potagère' (Jourdain); 4. 'Active Wear' (Thiercelin); 5. 'Union Bancaire Privée' (Wavre); 6. 'Sodebo' (Coville). See www.vendeeglobe.com.
February 1 - UK
Yes, it's there. And on rare occasions, it actually works in the favor of women. We've forgotten where we read this, but just the other day somebody had asked how the young and inexperienced Ellen MacArthur had managed to get such excellent sponsorship and backing from 'Kingfisher'. The answer was simple: She got the big sponsorship because she was a young woman who would attract attention. The irony is that there is no way that the sponsor - or anybody else - could have predicted what a terrific sailor and courageous seawoman Ellen would become.
February 1 - Puget Sound, WA
The site, created by John Endreson and Bruce Hallman - see photo - is really great. The perfect example of how precious time and the potential of the Internet can be misused. Congratulations, guys!
It's a tough job...
Sailboat Accessible Bar Research Team
February 1 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace
Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? Check out YOTREPS - 'yacht reports' - at www.bitwrangler.com/yotreps/
February 1 - San Francisco Bay
Last week we ran the accompanying photo and asked readers to identify the record-holding boat. One reader guessed 'Windward Passage'. Alas, that great 72-footer hasn't been a ketch in ages, and her hull had much lower freeboard. About 10 other readers guessed that it was the Briand 144 'Mari-Cha III', holder of the TransAtlantic monohull record and the Sydney to Hobart course record.
February 1 - Pacific Ocean
To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/wind/.
Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.: www.ndbc.noaa.gov/stuff/southwest/swstmap.shtml.
Today's University of Hawaii Department of Meteorology satellite was not available again this morning. You can try it yourself at http://lumahai.soest.hawaii.edu/cgi-bin/satview.cgi?sat=g10®ion=hus&channel=uI4&anim=no&size=large.
Check out the Pacific Ocean sea states at: http://www.mpc.ncep.noaa.gov/RSSA/PacRegSSA.html.
For another view, see http://www.oceanweather.com/data/global.html.
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