February 13, 2009

Deadline for Tahiti Bond Exemption

Gar Duke of Sausalito practices a little ‘old-school’ navigation on his way to the Marquesas. He and Nicole Friend are currently in Vanuatu.

© Nicole Friend

At a variety of ports along the coast of the Americas, dozens of cruising boats are poised to jump off on the 3,000-mile blue-water passage we call the Pacific Puddle Jump. A rally in only the loosest sense of the word, this annual migration of international sailors includes boats which jump off from the U.S., Mexico, Panama and the Galapagos. Eventually, however, they all converge on the isles of French Polynesia where they swap tales and celebrate their successful crossings of this, the longest patch of open water they will face while sailing around the world through the tropics.

As regular readers know, Latitude 38 is intimately involved with this annual migration, and has worked with the Tahiti Tourism Board in recent years to host a variety of Puddle Jump events. As reported earlier, one of the latest developments to come out of this relationship is that the Tahiti YC has generously offered to secure bond extensions (normally $1,700 per person) for officially registered rally boats. But the February 20 deadline for registering is fast approaching.

If you’re making the crossing this year and would like to be included, please go to the rally’s website, fill out the questionnaire and return it to us by email ASAP. Because this is the first year we’ve attempted to complete the bond exemption process, we cannot guarantee 100% that there will be no snafus, but we are hopeful all will go smoothly.

By the way, for whatever reason, the Pacific Puddle Jump fleet is expected to be bigger than ever this year. Those whose schedules allow will gather at Papeete on June 19 for a free, three-day, welcome-to-Tahiti event called the Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous.

Deadly Boat Fire in Pittsburg

One person was killed, one boat destroyed and at least one other damaged after an "old wooden" motorboat caught fire in Pittsburg Marina last night. Details were hard to come by this morning as it appeared that every official from the Police, Fire Department and Coast Guard was still on site for the cleanup and investigation. What we can tell you is that the fire was reported sometime after midnight, and that it did spread to the docks and nearby boats. The Fire Department estimates $160,000 to $180,000 worth of damage to “boats and facilities.” As of mid-morning, the area had been boomed off and no pollution had been reported. According to a Coast Guard press release, one person aboard the boat was confirmed dead, and “the two affected vessels had been removed from the water."

‘Soozal’ Wins IRC B in Pineapple Cup

Dan Woolery’s Pt. Richmond-based Soozal followed up a class win at Acura Key West Race Week with a win in IRC B in the 811-mile Pineapple Cup.

© 2009 Sharon Green

Dan Woolery’s Pt. Richmond-based, brand-spankin’-new Soozal arrived in Montego Bay just before midnight Tuesday, taking IRC B in what sounded like a generally breezy 2009 Pineapple Cup. The Mark Mills-designed King 40 took a little under 3d, 22h to sail the 811-mile course that starts off Ft. Lauderdale.  Former Northern Californian Roger Sturgeon and the crew of his Farr-designed STP 65 Rosebud took line honors, just over an hour longer than the race record of 2d, 10h, 24m, set by Tom Hill’s R/P 75 Titan XII in 2005.

For Woolery, the win follows a division win at last month’s Acura Key West Race Week where he sailed the pretty blue boat with the teak-clad cockpit well enough to earn Boat of the Day honors at one point. Project manager Scott Easom will join Woolery and his wife in sailing Soozal home on an island-hopping cruise back to Florida — essentially flexing the dual-purpose spirit of the IRC rule. Then the boat will come west to the Bay, and make the Northern California IRC fleet one strong-program deeper in the process.

“Can You Hear Me Now?”

If you experienced spotty service from your Iridium satellite phone over the last few days, you’re not alone. The trouble started on Tuesday when one of Iridium’s 66 in-orbit satellites collided with a defunct but fully intact Russian military satellite about 485 miles above Siberia. The 2,000-lb Russian satellite slammed into its 1,000-lb counterpart at a mind-boggling speed of 25,200 mph. The collision will likely add hundreds of bits of ‘space junk’ to the 18,000 pieces of the stuff tracked by the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Space Operations Center.

Since Tuesday, Iridium has worked to cover the gap left by the crash. They plan to replace the destroyed satellite with one of eight spares flying in a lower orbit, but in the meantime will use their remaining 65 satellites and four ground stations to route around the problem. They expected service to return to normal today.

Latitude 38 Gives You a Break

In these challenging economic times, everyone needs a little slack so we’re stepping up. If you’re a private party selling a boat for less than $1,000, or if you’ve got some gear to sell and the total for all items is less than $1,000, we’ll post your ad (up to 40 words) on our website for FREE. There’s no deadline for the free online ads but if you want your paid ad in the March issue of Latitude, be sure to get your order in by the February 18 deadline. Either way surf on over to the Classy online order form to sell your stuff.

And talk about a terrific time to take advantage of low prices! Right now there are no fewer than six boats listed for under $1,000, as well as countless Gear listings. Check out the great deals here.

The trial of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 43, the third person to face a jury for the 2004 murders of Mexico cruisers Tom and Jackie Hawks, is expected to conclude this week, after three weeks of testimony.
The late George Carlin did a great bit about ‘stuff’. The reason people need homes, he said, was “to store all your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” But a recent study at San Francisco State reveals that, in the long run, experiences make people happier than stuff.
Dave Perry, who has literally written the book on Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing, will be visiting Northern California the weekend of March 13-15 for a series of seminars on the changes in the 2009 rules.