Postcards from the Doldrums

March 15 - Atlantic Ocean

Hot and sweaty, sailing in two bunches at about 10-11 knots, the Volvo Ocean Race crews is working its way north to the equator, which was about 200 miles away from the leading group of Tyco, illbruck and Assa Abloy as of 16:27 GMT today (Friday).

To follow the race and to see more photos and videos, go to

Brad Jackson with Assa Abloy and illbruck close behind. Amazing how close together these boats are, given the scope of the event.

Dave Endean on Tyco's grinding pedestal

Anna Drougge in light air, keeping a lookout.
Photo Emma Richards/Amer Sports Too

Neil McDonald drives Assa Abloy and new recruit Big Mike Howard trims as illbruck hangs on the horizon.
Photo Richard Mason/
Assa Abloy

Brad Jackson's watch aboard Tyco.

Grant 'Fuzz' Spanhake eating lunch in 38°C (that's 100+ F!) below decks on Tyco. Say, those shoes next to his face don't look too appetizing.
Tyco Photos Guy Salter/Tyco

Willemien van Hoeve, Liz Wardley and Keryn Henderson, having just woken up, eat breakfast before going on watch.
Photo Klaartje Zuiderbaan/Amer Sports Too

Bush Steers Yachts Away from Cuba

March 13 - Miami, FL

In an article written by David Adams, the St. Petersburg Times reported Wednesday that, "The Bush administration says it intends to steer pleasure boaters away from Cuba by use of an obscure weapon: a Clinton-era emergency decree regulating small vessels entering Cuba's territorial waters.

"President Clinton issued the order in 1996 to prevent Cuban-American protesters from provoking an international incident after the shooting down of two Cuban exile planes by the Cuban air force. Called the Cuba National Emergency Notice, the order essentially bans travel in Cuban waters without a permit issued by the Coast

"The order has never gone out of effect, and President Bush renewed it in late February. While the language is the same, administration officials say the intent has changed: Instead of focusing solely on Cuban-American vessels, the administration
hopes to apply the restrictions equally to recreational boaters who sail to Cuba and spend money in violation of the U.S. embargo.

"The new interpretation is being hailed by administration officials, as well as prominent Cuban-American exiles, as a taste of things to come as the White House reviews U.S.-Cuba policy. But it is already under attack by boaters who say it's unclear how it will be applied. Some Cuba policy analysts also question whether it can be enforced, saying it appears more designed to please political supporters in Miami than substantially alter policy.

"Travel to Cuba is restricted by a license system operated by the U.S. Treasury Department. U.S. residents and citizens are prohibited from spending money in Cuba except for a handful of approved purposes, which include government business as well as humanitarian and cultural missions. Tourism is not permitted."

Doran Cushing, editor of Southwinds, a sailing rag based in St. Petersburg said, "U.S. officials have already come down hard on two Cuban regattas organized by boaters in Tampa and Key West in recent years. The Tampa organizers of the Havana Cup, which used to attract 200 U.S. boats to Cuba, were ordered to 'cease and desist'
in 1999, effectively terminating the event."

Cuba policy analysts, who recognize that embargo violations are a regular occurrence at Cuban ports, also question how such measures can be enforced. Given the state of U.S.-Cuban relations, one analyst said, it was hardly feasible for the U.S. to seek the Castro government's cooperation in monitoring embargo abuses at Cuban marinas.

The Times article continues, "In 2000, an estimated 173,000 Americans visited Cuba legally, according to the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council; another estimated 22,000 did so illegally.

"As for the Bush administration's twist on the Clinton order, boaters say they don't know what all the fuss is about. Ever since the new so-called 'Florida Security Zone Permits' were introduced in 1996, all boaters - Cuban-American and otherwise - have been subject to the same procedures, according to Doran Cushing."

"As far as I'm aware, the boating community has always complied with the security zone process," Cushing said. "There's never been any hassle." Cushing pointed out that permits are routinely issued by the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Office and involve a simple one-page form that can be sent by fax for approval.

"There has been a huge interest in going to Cuba by boat, and there still is," Cushing said.

Missives from the Editorial Department

March 15 - Mill Valley

The Dumbest Thing. . .

Like all sailors, we take pride in our 'sailor's reputation'. But that's not to say we haven't screwed up a time or two.

Looking back on our most embarrassing blunders, though, we realize that every time we have made fools of ourselves out on the water or narrowly cheated death by performing some idiotic maneuver, we also learned a lesson that we've never forgotten.

With that idea in mind, we'd like to ask you, our readers, to contribute to an article in progress entitled The Dumbest Thing I Ever Did While Sailing, which, with your help, should be both humorous and instructive.

So don't be shy. Swallow your pride and 'fess up along with the rest of us. Even if you're a hotshot sailor now, surely you can think of some bonehead blunder you have performed that would give us all a chuckle while illustrating a valuable lesson. Or, if you can't recall making any spectacular screw-ups yourself, tell us about the dumbest thing you've ever seen someone else do on a sailboat.

Please send submissions of 200 words or less to Andy. Thanks.

The crew of Big O fending off the Carquinez Bridge moments after the Ocean 71 T-boned it in June of 1994. The bridge was the turning mark in the Midnight Moonlight Marathon.
Photo Latitude Archives

On a sadder note. . .

Already this year we have had to run two farewell articles about good men who've made great contributions to the world of sailing. The current (March) issue of Latitude 38 features a tribute to Carl Schumacher, and the January issue contained a piece on Sir Peter Blake. These features have now been posted on our Web site, along with the late Shimon Van Collie's 1984 profile of Carl.


March 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

Weather Updates

March 15 - 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 has moved to

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

Top / Index of Stories / Subscriptions / Classifieds / Home

©2002 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.