End of the Road for Fast Forward?
April 18 - Marin Headlands
Today's photos of the day were taken yesterday at the Point Bonita Lighthouse, which has been the scene of many shipwrecks since it opened in 1855 (the current lighthouse was built in 1877). We vividly remember two wrecks in modern times - the barge Agattu in 1979, which went up on the rocks carrying a potentially deadly cargo of chlorine gas and fertilizer, and the Schumacher 30 Felony, which was totaled on the point in the windy 1982 Doublehanded Farallones Race, fortunately with no loss of life.
Add to the list Dan Benjamin's red Aerodyne 38 Fast Forward, which we're sad to report augured in at Bird Island (a quarter mile or so north of Point Bonita) around 5 p.m. on Saturday. Benjamin was on the return leg of the Singlehanded Farallones Race, running probably second overall behind the J/90 Sweet Jane when things went sideways, literally. With winds in the high teens, Benjamin got a fatal kite wrap during a jibe - the kind with a big air bubble at the top of the rig that pinned the boat over. Unable to get the kite down, he lowered the already-reefed main all the way down and started the motor - but the boat was so far on its ear, the propeller wouldn't bite.
A Coast Guard cutter arrived on the scene just as the boat drifted up on the rocks, and was able to save Benjamin, who jumped in the water and was promptly retrieved, but not Fast Forward. The boat subsequently moved on the current down to where it now sits forlornly in the cove under the Lighthouse, awaiting its fate. Though it appears relatively intact, other than the rudder and a hole in the port side, the tricky salvage job could be so expensive that the boat is a write-off.
"You hear about things like this, but you never think it could happen to you," said Benjamin, a good guy who is also one of the most accomplished shorthanded sailors in the Bay Area. Benjamin was understandably reluctant to talk with us on the record until after he deals with his insurance company, but did, however, agree to write up an account of the accident for us in time for next month's issue of Latitude 38. Our coverage of the Singlehanded Farallones Race will appear in the May issue.
Kiwi Skippers Romp at Congressional Cup Match Racing in Long Beach
April 18 - Long Beach
Dean Barker, skipper for Emirates Team New Zealand, topped his mentor, Russell Coutts, formerly of Alinghi, to take the 41st Congressional Cup match-racing championship in Long Beach. Taking third was Chris Dickson, CEO and skipper for the BMW Oracle America's Cup team.
What's the deal with the top three skippers all being Kiwis?
It's Official: Shipping and Freight Concerns Want Terminal at Punta Colnet
April 18 - Punta Colnet, Baja California
In a move we've been reporting was in the offing, a consortium of worldwide shipping and freight companies have announced plans to build a $1 billion port at Punta Colnet, currently a semi-popular yachtie anchorage, 160 miles south of San Diego on the Pacific Coast of Baja. It would take five years to build the port and city, but by 2012 it's expected to handle about 1 million containers a year. "We have to get Colnet developed," said a spokesman, "as there are no other viable West Coast options."
The port is needed because of the explosive growth of shipping from China to the U.S. It's not unusual for as many as 50 ships to be waiting a week or more to unload and load at Long Beach/Los Angeles. Furthermore, all other West Coast ports are also operating at capacity. In fact, some companies have been sending ships from China through the Panama Canal to the East Coast of the U.S. because it was quicker than going through Long Beach/Los Angeles.
An estimated $200 billion of revenue is generated by shipping through California. Baja, which is desperate for jobs, would love to have a cut of that action. If they do one million containers, that would be about $30 billion of revenue.
The Newport Silicone Festival and Ensenada Race
April 18 - Newport Beach
"Will you be at the Newport to Ensenada pre-race party at the Bahia Corinthian YC in Newport Beach later this week?" one reader wrote to ask. "It's unbelievably huge, and it's always amusing to see all the Newport silicone on display."
We'd love to make the party and see the sights, and we'd love to do the race, but we're on deadline.
Making Big Bucks Off Taxpayer-Owned Land
April 18 - Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Yacht Harbor, with about 1,000 berths, is a city-owned and operated marina. It's also so popular that some people have been on the waiting list for a slip since the '70s - which is back when Abe Lincoln or one of those guys was president. A way to get a slip faster has been to buy a boat that comes with a slip. You have to pay more than the boat is worth, but it's legal.
But with such extreme demand for some size slips, the cost for the right to a slip has become as absurd as that of California real estate. We're told, for example, that the owner of a boat with a 80-ft slip wants a cool $1 million for the right to that slip. And that the owner of a 50-ft slip wants $200,000 for the right to his slip. Is it right for a private individual to make $1 million on land owned by taxpayers? We haven't decided for ourselves, but are interested in what you think.
By the way, the folks at the Santa Barbara Harbor tell us there are actually a few 20-ft slips and 35-ft slips that are open. So they are going to go down the list of 50 folks on the waiting list and ask if anyone would like a slip of that size rather than the one they are on the wait list for. They are also going to have a lottery in order to add another 50 names to the waiting list.
First the Irving Johnson, Now the Endeavour
April 18 - Botany Bay, Australia
Endeavour, a replica of the ship that British explorer Captain James Cook sailed when he discovered Australia more than 200 years ago, got stuck on a sandbar in Botany Bay, Australia - not far from a monument commemorating Cook's visit 235 years ago. Fortunately, the replica was pulled off four hours later.
The boat set sail from Britain in November to retrace the voyage of the original Endeavour when it discovered Australia. It followed Cook's route, traveling to South America, Tahiti, the Pacific Islands and New Zealand before reaching Australia's east coast.