November 6, 2009

Cabo Swarms with Ha-Ha’ers

Sweet sailing toward the Cape.

latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Deeply sun-tanned sailors wearing brilliant turquoise and tangerine-colored shirts are swarming all over Cabo San Lucas today, as the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ Baja Ha-Ha fleet has arrived in full force.

The Sally Lightfoot crew showed their Ha-Ha spirit by wearing their Hare Krishna costumes at the starts.

latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The final leg was a beauty. Very light winds at the 6 a.m. start (at Bahia Santa Maria) built slowly throughout the day to offer easy, near-tropical sailing on mild seas. For most boats, the best part of the 180-mile ride to the Cape came in the late evening when NE winds built to around 15 knots, gusting higher. Wearing only T-shirts and shorts, crews flew big chutes beneath a full moon, with Orion’s belt lined up right along the rhumbline to steer by. "It just doesn’t get any better than that," said one sailor on the next morning’s net.

As we head off to prepare for today’s Cabo beach party, we’ll share some random images from the trip south. Ha-Ha XVI concludes tomorrow with the Awards Ceremony hosted by long-time sponsor Marina Cabo San Lucas.

Oil Spill Update

We received a range of responses from Monday’s query about the impact on the Bay from last week’s 800-gallon Dubai Star bunker oil spill, which fouled beaches and wildlife in the East Bay:

A containment boom on the Estuary following the oil spill from the Panamanian-flagged tanker Dubai Star a week ago.

© Carolyn Samit

"You can see the boom designed to protect the area before the bridge in the image — great protection for inland waters and especially those with boats at Aeolian YC," said Carolyn Samit. "I live on Bay Farm Island/Alameda and enjoy the flora and fauna of this area year-round so environmental issues come naturally to me. I think we are really lucky it wasn’t worse. One good thing came from the Cosco Busan disaster: the Bay Area is much better prepared for oil spills then ever before. There was so much political involvement in the Cosco Busan spill, maybe we’ve learned a lesson."

"Watching NPC set booms Friday from the Encinal boat ramp was painful," said Ballena Isle slipholder Ed Skeels. "There was one boat in service to transport booms, one runabout dragging a string of booms, and one moron drifting aimlessly in another larger boat because he couldn’t get the jet drive primed — basically, one boat and a tender to do the work. When the larger boat returned for more booms, the crew had closed up the trailer thinking they were done. ‘Oh, you want more?’ Only one crewmember was timidly trying to light a fire while the other personnel milled about ineffectively. Truly pathetic. They should have been trained, ready and rested for such an event. When they did set booms, it was with gaps, so as not to inconvenience the boaters at the marina. Boats could come and go by wending their way through a maze. If boats can go out, blobs can come in. Not surprisingly, by Sunday they were skimming and picking oil blobs out of the marina along the Ballena Blvd. shoreline. So many people making so much money to stand around in Tyvek suits poking at rocks. It seems like an exercise to maximize profits."

"I left Marina Village at 8 a.m. on Saturday for Redwood City to check out the new Westpoint Harbor," reported Alameda-based Hellmuth Starnitzky of the Hallberg-Rassy 45 Ocean Echo. "There was no oil floating in the Estuary. I left on a rising tide and did not see anything of the spill, nor on the way back to Alameda the next day when it was brilliantly clear and warm, albeit windless north of the San Mateo Bridge."

Do you have photos or a story to share about how the spill or repsonse affected your area, boat or marina? Send it here.

Pirate Attack in the Caribbean

While Somali pirates demand $7 million — or the release from custody of seven comrades — for the return of British cruisers Paul and Rachel Chandler, Derek Holden of the Privateer 35 Albatross III reports that well-known Michigan racer Juan Pablo ‘J.P.’ Del Solar Goldsmith was the victim of a pirate attack aboard his Beneteau 47.7 Blu Interlude at the Honduran/Nicaraguan border. "He just got to Panama a few days ago," Holden writes. "When he told us that he was attacked by pirates, I suggested he write to Latitude so other sailors know what happened. Here’s his report:

"’At 0700 on Monday, October 26, 2009, we were underway along the Nicaraguan Banks, about 16 miles off Cabo Gracias a Dios (15° 4.7′ N, 82° 55.1 W). We were flagged down by a 25-ft green panga with four men on board. Some of the pirates were wearing paramilitary clothing. We slowed the boat down, then the pirates pulled shotguns and pistols and boarded us. At gun point, they tied up all three of us and took cameras, money, the dinghy outboard, watches, sunglasses, handheld GPS and VHF radios and cell phones. They were aboard for about 45 minutes searching the boat for valuables. The attack was reported to the Coast Guard at San Andreas Island, Colombia, on Tuesday October 27, 2009.’"

This area of the Caribbean is not known for piracy. We’re thrilled that the crew of Blu Interlude came away without injury and sincerely hope this attack was an anomaly, not a sign of things to come.

Bruce Stone and Power Play romp along in some decidedly Bay-like conditions on Western Long Island Sound.
Point Conception is notorious among coastal sailors. A combination of unusually strong winds and large seas can make rounding the point very difficult.