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Photo of the Day
September 30 - San Francisco
Pete Belghaus of San Francisco writes, "It's only been three weeks and I miss Friday night sailing already!" Pete was part of the J/35 Jarlen's Corinthian YC beer can crew. He continues, "I'm sending you a picture that Barbara Hatch took on my boat Sea Major just out the Gate looking west. See, Fiji isn't the only place with beautiful sunsets!" (See last Wednesday's 'Lectronic.)
Photo Barbara Hatch
The Tayana 37 Sea Major, you may recall, was previously owned by bass player Scott Smith of the Canadian rock group Loverboy. Smith was swept from the boat and lost on the South Bar in heavy seas on December 1, 2000. Sea Major has recovered from the tragedy and is enjoying her new life with Pete and his pals.
Ignoring Customs in the South Pacific
September 30 - South Pacific
"As we have been longtime cruisers throughout the South Pacific, we have had the opportunity to see many changes take place here," writes Sean Cody of Oblio from Fiji.
Photo Sheri Seybold
"Over the last seven years we have noticed a persistent increase in the number of restrictive laws governing travel by yachts to some of the lovely islands down here. Initially, we felt that land-based travelers have been breaking laws concerning overstaying visas and illegal entry. We are now convinced it's we cruisers who really are to blame. Two clear instances indicate this. While in Neiafu, Tonga, we had the chance to chat with a Dutch couple on a new Grand Soleil yacht that had arrived four days previously from Samoa. As we were sitting in the Mermaid Bar, they gleefully explained how they had not checked into Samoa. Further, they had not checked into Tonga - and had no intention of doing so! October is the time many yachts head from Suva, Fiji, to New Zealand for the tropical cyclone season. We have been sitting here for the past two weeks preparing to leave ourselves, and in that time we have seen three separate yachts break quarantine by going ashore prior to clearing. The cruisers were from Australia, the United States, and Germany. What is going on? Would these people support someone else going into their country and flaunting their immigration laws? This must stop - or all cruisers will pay the price. Obey the law."
We know that an increasing number of cruisers are ignoring clearing procedures, and we can think of two reasons why. First, in many cases the clearing processes come across like a form of hazing, where officials delight in taking money and time from cruisers - simply because they can. Secondly, in the cases of cruisers from the United States, Australia, and Germany, the immigration laws of their countries are routinely violated by the tens of thousands, so they no doubt rationalize their behavior by thinking 'what's good for one is good for another'.
In our opinion, it's important for cruisers to obey the laws in each country they visit. On the other hand, in many cases, we think the countries themselves are largely to blame.
Louis Vuitton America's Cup Challenger Series Starts Today
September 30 - Auckland, NZ
Although it's only September 30 in the U.S., it's already October 1 in Auckland - which means the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series starts today. Here are the pairings for the next two days:
Louis Vuitton Series on U.S. TV:
If you're planning on going down to New Zealand to watch all the teams from the various countries, we have to caution you that there's not a lot of time. Unlike the last go around, when there were six challengers battling it out in the semi-finals through the start of the new year, this year's semi-finals will only have four boats, and all their racing will be over by the time the champagne corks are popped. Indeed, the only racing between New Year's and the Cup itself will be January 11-21, when the two best challengers go at it to find out who will take on the Kiwis. In other words, come New Year's, most of the compounds will have shut down and much of the international flavor will have faded. This change was brought on by the more powerful challengers, who felt that excessive racing against second-tier challengers was an impediment to their wresting control of the Cup from the Kiwis.
According to our crystal ball, it will be Alinghi and Oracle BMW Racing in the Challenger Finals, and whoever wins will beat the Kiwis to take the Cup. But don't bet the ranch on it. Incidentally, Mathew Sheahan of Yachting World quotes Peter Holmberg of Oracle BMW Racing as saying that Larry Ellison will be on the boat today as a member of the afterguard and will be "the skipper." We're not sure if that means he'll do any driving, but we hope it does, because we think the A-Cup could benefit from what almost certainly would be the resulting tempest in a teapot.
More on Van Pham, Who Survived 3.5 Months on His Dismasted Boat
September 30 - Long Beach
"I've been in and out of Shoreline Marina quite a bit since last November when I brought my trimaran Migration back from Mexico," reports Bruce Balan. "I met Van Pham at Shoreline Marina sometime around May or June, when we talked for about 30 minutes. He's a was a very interesting guy, and he told me how he had sailed to Central and South America. I couldn't always understand him because of his accent, and I wasn't always sure I knew exactly what he was talking about. But he was clearly someone who was comfortable on his little boat, and who needed few amenities. He said that on his trip north, he had sailed all the way from the south of Mexico to California with only one or two stops. At the time, I have to admit, I wasn't totally convinced - especially given the condition of his boat. I figured he was another of those interesting characters you meet on the docks. I can say that I wasn't surprised - both that his mast broke and that he survived - when I read about it in the papers."
Funny Boat in Fiji
September 30 - Fiji
When George Backhus of the Sausalito-based Deerfoot 62 Moonshadow was in Fiji recently, he snapped a photo of this very unusual looking motorsailer. He was interested in what kind of smart ass comments readers might have on the design (email Richard).
Photo George Backhus
September 30 - 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 http://www.bitwrangler.com/yotreps/
September 30 - 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 http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/wind/. The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay is at www.wrh.noaa.gov/Monterey/.
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.: www.ndbc.noaa.gov/Maps/Southwest.shtml.
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