The Caribbean Report

January 11 - St Barts

Thanks to cutbacks in flights, some fears of flying, and a weakening economy, lots of sailors didn't make planned trips to the Caribbean over the New Year. We did, however, and are glad we did. Thanks to a low pressure system easing down from the United States weakening the Bermuda/Azores High, there were no 'Christmas winds' or reinforced trades. The result was idyllic sailing conditions: 12 to 15 knots of wind, with flat seas. The unusually settled conditions made for spectacular blue skies, warm temperatures, and clear water. It was like dying and going to a sailor's heaven.

We based out of St. Barts, which attracts most of the great yachts in the Caribbean for New Year's and the New Year's parade. Many of the cars on the French island sported American flag decals with solidarity written across them. In the three days following 9/11, all the stores on the island had shut down in sympathy. Those that hadn't closed down voluntarily were instructed to do so. In addition, there were memorial and prayer services around the island.

St. Barts usually attracts a lot of bareboats for the New Year's holiday, but this year there were almost none. Fortunately, there didn't seem to be any drop-off in the presence of megayachts, whose owners and charterers usually don't have to worry about terrorists hiding on their private jets. The biggest yacht in the anchorage was Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's 300-ft Tatoosh - complete with two helicopters. He bought her last year, shortly after her launch, from John MacCaw, who had taken a beating in telecom stock. The around the island New Year's Day parade/race attracted 42 entries, with the average size boat in Class A a mere 135 feet or so. But a lot of small local yachts participated, too. We'll have photos of the event in an upcoming 'Lectronic.


The locals, no doubt sensing the drop in tourism, were more friendly than ever. In addition to the attraction of great boats, Jimmy Buffet played a couple of free short gigs at La Gamelle restaurant and on the quay on New Year's Eve. Sting had stopped by Ticonderoga in the afternoon of New Year's Eve hoping to jam with Buffett that night, but apparently didn't hook up. Buffet danced the rest of the night away at a nearby waterfront bar, happily dancing and drinking with everyone.

Want some celebrity dirt? Shortly before Christmas, a bunch of the crews on big charter boats in Antigua signed up for a beginning yoga class. Halfway through the hour class - rather on the very late side - a couple joined the class. They soon proceeded to zoom right past the class and into advanced yoga techniques, much to the chagrin of the instructor. As the crews departed the class, there was some grumbling about the "wankers" who had come so late and then proceeded to put all the beginners to shame. Nobody knew who they were until the next class, when an older yoga student identified them as Sting and his wife Trudy.

While the folks on St. Barts wanted to make sure tourists enjoyed themselves as much as possible, the same can't be said for union workers of the French electrical company EDF on nearby St. Martin. At a time when the island was already suffering from a devastating drop in tourism, at the stroke of the New Year, they pulled the plug on all the electricity on the French side of the island. No lights, no air conditioning, no refrigeration for the restaurants or anybody else. And they kept the electricity off for most of the next two weeks. To say that the tourists were inconvenienced and then outraged is an understatement. Tens of millions of advertising dollars won't be able to mitigate the negative publicity generated by the selfish few. Only those on boats or on the Dutch side were relatively unaffected.

More on the Caribbean on Monday and in the February Latitude 38.

A sailor's paradise

Downtown Gustavia, with the harbor in the background

No Logic,
a new Swan 112

A 132-ft DuBois chases the 135-ft ketch Sariyah

The French side of St. Martin

All Photos Latitude/Richard

Conner Unveils Latest Stars & Stripes

January 11 - New York City

Dennis Conner posed with USA66, the first of two new America's Cup boats he hopes to build, during her unveiling at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan today. The San Diego native last represented the New York YC in '83, when the Cup was lost to a foreign challenger for the first time in 132 years. Conner says he hopes to redeem himself. The Louis Vuitton Challenger Series, which leads up to the Cup itself, begins in October in Auckland.

Photo by Emile Wamsteker

El Niño or Not

January 11 - Pacific Ocean

Scientists are saying that it appears as though El Niño conditions - a warming of eastern Pacific waters - appear to be developing. El Niño conditions are, among other things, associated with a greater possibility of winter storms along the West Coast. However, the correlation is tenuous, and often there are more storms in non-El Niño years than there are in El Niño years. So standby for . . . who knows what?

Ol' Farrtz and Young Turks

January 11 - San Francisco Bay

Matt Jones, who was Race Committee, reports on the first weekend of the new SF Farr 40 Midwinter Series, in which five boats competed: "With very light and variable winds, Saturday's racing started with three practice starts followed by three short races. Drizzly conditions prevailed throughout the day with the current going through the end of the ebb and into a building flood. The North and South Bay flows dominated as is normal for this time of year. The wind blew at 4 to 8 knots mainly from the N/NE and paralleled the current somewhat. Shadow won the first race but they were a little early on the next start and finished last in race two. Having a little too much match racing on the mind, Shadow started to come in for a starboard rounding when it was a port and caused some confusion and general mayhem, and smeared the leeward mark, popping its anchor line.

"Everyone had some good moments and even races but the most consistent boat was the Ol' Farrtz Racing Team. The Farrtz Team went 2, 1, 2 to take the day over Shadow's 1, 5, 1.

"Sunday found the fleet with no wind at the scheduled starting time. Patience was the order of the day and conditions slowly improved a little but the wind never reached a solid 8 knots. Keeping the boats moving was the theme of the starting drills as the RC got off four practice starts and one practice race. At this point a gentle breeze settled in with a little clearing and we set a short windward/leeward course. Race one saw a fairly mediocre start considering all the practice we had been doing but my ability to get the starting line square might have something to do with it. Shadow nailed the line while Farrtz and Astra were over early. Non Sequitur sailed very consistently Sunday and showed good light air speed and positioning to score two seconds for the day. Team Farrtz recovered from the OCS to finish third in race one, and a first place in the second and final race of the day gave them the day and the weekend.

"It was very encouraging to see all the younger sailors out on several of the boats.

"Special thanks to you all for the opportunity to brush up on that race management stuff. I used to know how to set a line and can learn to do it again. I know I can!"

Saturday results: 1. Ol' Farrtz, 5 points; 2. Shadow, 7 pts; Astra, 9 pts. Sunday results: 1. Ol' Farrtz, 4 pts; 2. Non Sequitur, 4 pts; 3. Shadow, 6 pts.

The five Farr 40s jockeyed for position
one minute before one of Sunday's starts.

Non Sequitur, ex-Pegasus (note the flying horse
graphic on the main). This team will be headed
to Key West to race a chartered Farr.

Non Sequitur, Ol' Farrtz and Blue Chip

followed by Blue Chip, approaches
one-man Race Committee Matt Jones.

Photos Latitude/Rob

Twist and Shout

January 11 - St. Barts

During a recent presentation on PlayStation's crushing the transatlantic record, Gino Morrelli, the boat's co-designer, told the audience that the boat experienced torsional twists of about 4.5 feet! And that's only about half the maximum safety tolerance.

Twisting is fine on big cats. We did the St. Barts New Year's Eve Race/Parade aboard Fat Cat, a Morrelli 74 cruising cat originally from California. The new owners did an extensive rebuild, during which time Gino was consulted. He told them not to make it too stiff because that would make her too heavy. So if you stand on the bow and ooch up and down, the whole boat shakes a bit. It does the same thing on Profligate.

The lean Fat Cat crew stands by on the winches.
Photo Latitude/Richard

Admiral's Cup to Return

January 11 - Dublin, Ireland

The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Admiral's Cup, based out of Cowes, England, used to be the pinnacle of ocean racing competition. Indeed, it's where Dave Allen's Imp from Belvedere and a lot of Northern California sailors started to make their international reputations. Alas, the event has been eclipsed by bigger events in recent years, and last summer had to be called off for lack of interest. But the RORC has just announced the event will return in 2003 in a new location - to be changed each time - and new format. The next one will be based out of Dun Laoghaire, which is the port of Dublin, Ireland, and will include both inshore racing and the 710-mile Around Ireland Race. Two-boat teams - consisting of an IMS 600 class and an IRC boat in excess of 50 feet - will represent each country.


January 11 - 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

Weather Updates

January 11 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay is

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 Winds and Pressure

The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.

Pacific Sea State

Check out the Pacific Ocean sea states at:
For another view, see

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