Photos of the Day

The South Pacific of the Caribbean

September 15 - San Blas Islands

It's not uncommon for cruisers who have been around the world to say that the 365 San Blas Islands - located off the coast of Panama on the Caribbean side - "are more like the South Pacific than the South Pacific." The islands are mostly very small and covered in palms. The water is warm and often incredibly clear. Thanks to the barrier reef, the islands are protected from the huge waves that often lash the 'bottom' of the Caribbean. The indigenous Kuna Indians, who are given almost complete autonomy by Panama, live primitive lives, cooking on open fires inside of their little huts. If anyone offers you the chance to visit them while they are cruising the San Blas Islands, don't pass it up.

The small gallery of photos here were taken by John Neal, who, with his wife Amanda Swan Neal, were en route from the Pacific Northwest to Norway aboard their Hallberg Rassy 46 'Mahina Tiare III'. For more photos, visit

A handbuilt cayuco from a single log is the primary form of transportation in the San Blas.

Photos John Neal

Isla Maquina, which is to the San Blas Islands what Manhattan is to the United States. Most of the San Blas are sparsely populated or unpopulated.

A village pathway at densely populated Isla Maquina.

John and Amanda always interact with the locals. Here they take
Adelia and her granddaughter for a trip on 'Mahina Tiare III.'

The Kuna women are renowned for their molas. Like most cruisers,
Amanda appears to have come down with 'mola fever'.

Weather Updates

September 15 -
Pacific and Atlantic Oceans

Tropical Weather

Former Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic is down to 40 knots as she heads northeast and threatens to make a slight mess in Bermuda. A bigger worry is Tropical Depression #11, which formed over the Yucatan and is heading toward Louisiana. It only has 30-knot winds, but may build to 65 knots or more before it makes landfall.

The coast of Mexico is quiet.

Tropical Depression #11
Unisys Weather Graphic

San Francisco Bay Weather

To see what the winds are like on the Bay right now, check out But it looks like a great weekend for sailing.

California Coast Weather

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.

Pacific Ocean Weather

Click here to see today's weather map from the University of Hawaii Meteorology Department.

Pacific Sea State

Check out today's sea state, which is unusual thanks to Lane. Take a look at:
For another view, see


Fire in the Sky

September 15 - New Zealand

On August 25, we ran a photo of the interior of Mel and Rebecca Shapiro's Dover-based Taswell 43, 'Ricka'. The couple were proud to show off all the work they'd had done in New Zealand at bargain prices. Now they've sent us a photo of the Bitteroot Mountains burning. We don't know what it has to do with sailing, but it's a great photo.

Photo Courtesy 'Ricka'


September 15 - 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


The Race

September 15 - Southampton, UK

For the last several months, the status of The Race - the no-holds-barred around the world race to begin on December 31 - has been in jeopardy. Boats that had been built - 'PlayStation', 'Club Med' and 'Team Phillips' - all had design and structural problems. And several of the other projected entries - such as two sisterships to 'Club Med' - won't even be completed until October, giving the crews little time to shake the boats down before a brutal trip around the world.

Although it might be more prudent to postpone the start of The Race for a year so the boats and crews can be fully prepared, there are a host of financial considerations to make the event start on time. After a meeting yesterday in Southampton, the top eight skippers decided to go ahead with the original December 31 start.

"The skippers of eight of the biggest, fastest yachts in sailing history confirmed that they will be on the start line of The Race at 1200 Hrs 31 December 2000 at Barcelona. With 107 days to the start, the international competitors, representing some of the world's most experienced yachtsmen, with 19 circumnavigations between them, re-affirmed their commitment to this pioneering event and briefed their fellow adventurers on the state of their campaigns. At this meeting they agreed on the event program and finalized all details relating to their participation in this landmark event. Competitors also heard details of a major promotional campaign for The Race that commences on 23 September (Start ­ 100 days), including the first major national TV distribution agreements, and agreed to the most comprehensive safety charter yet seen in a round the world sailing event."

Event founder, Bruno Peyron: "This event has been six years in its evolution; it has involved consultation at every stage. For all of us it is a brave challenge ­ fitting for this Millennium year. We are doing something unique; we are making history - and have today reached agreement on the final details of the most extraordinary and most public sailing event ever."

Competitor Roger Nilson (Sweden), navigator for Code 1: "I am delighted to be involved in the most exciting offshore sailing event ever. It is the ultimate challenge in our sport and represents the multi-media future of it. It is a fitting Millennium challenge and these huge racing machines will capture the public's imagination like nothing before them. Let the adrenaline flow!"

'PlayStation' skipper Steve Fossett (USA): "It's a great challenge. It's a great adventure. We're up for it." As he spoke, Fossett's 'PlayStation' was having 50-foot sections of new and more buoyant hull added at the forward beam, and five feet added to the aft of each hull. The plan is to keep the maxi cat from pearling.

The eight competitors are:
PlayStation skippered by Steve Fossett (USA)
Team Philips skippered by Pete Goss (GB)
Club Med skippered by Grant Dalton (New Zealand)
Code 1 co-skippered by Loïck Peyron (France) and Skip Novak (USA)
Team Adventure skippered by Cam Lewis (USA)
Millennium Challenge (Ex-Enza) skippered by Tony Bullimore (GB)
Polpharma Warta (Ex-Explorer) skippered by Roman Paske (Poland)
Bayer en France skippered by Yvan Bourgnon (France)

For further details, visit

Top / Index of Stories / Subscriptions / Classifieds / Home

©2000 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.