Photo of the Day
February 14 - Zihuatanejo, Mexico
We all know it's a requirement to show an anchor light at night. While down in Zihua in early February, Paul Biery of the Catana 431 New Focus put out a rather large and unusual anchor light. It's so warm at Zihua in the middle of the night that it's a wonder that even a giant plastic snowman didn't melt.
The Day Many Sailors Have Been Waiting For
February 14 - Auckland, NZ
This being Friday in the States, it's Saturday in Auckland, which means it's the start of the 31st America's Cup to be defended by New Zealand and challenged for by Alinghi from Switzerland. The big question seems to be whether the steering skills of 'Kiwi traitor' Russell Coutts will be enough to overcome speed benefits from New Zealand's 'hula' appendage. Our gut feeling is that Coutts will prevail and the Cup will move to Europe. In any event, if history is any guide, the final results of the best-of-nine series should be known after the first weather and downwind legs. Since 1983, the America's Cup record has been 20 races to just 1 in favor of the victors, so blowouts are the norm. This would seem to be especially likely this year, as the boats are significantly different in several ways.
Two Kiwi skippers: Alinghi's Russell Coutts (left)
and Team New Zealand's Dean Barker
Photo Bob Grieser/Louis Vuitton Cup
One interesting aspect of the America's Cup, as opposed to the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series, is that there are no lower or upper end limits on wind speed. The decision to race or not will be made by Race Committee chairman Harold Bennett, and it could be a source of controversy. Alinghi, for example, is widely believed to be best in light air. So it will be interesting to see how little wind Bennett, a member of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, will be willing to start a race in. During the last Cup between the Kiwis and Italy's Prada, Bennett was widely criticized for not starting a race in which the light conditions may have favored Prada. In any event, it's time to get it on!
A Bad Start for the Last Carl Schumacher Design
February 14 - South Island, NZ
We've only gotten sketchy reports, but apparently Mac Lingo's Richmond YC-based Schumacher 52 California Girl hit a rock and nearly sank earlier this month off New Zealand's South Island. The boat, the last designed by the late Alameda designer, had apparently only just been completed by Ian Franklin in Waikawa, and was on its way north to the America's Cup. Although the boat apparently came very close to sinking, she's reportedly back on land and repairable. If anybody has further details, we'd like to hear them.
The Big Multihulls Are in Action - or Getting Ready for It
February 14 - Atlantic and Southern Oceans
Geronimo, Olivier de Kersauson's Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric maxi-trimaran has covered 521 nautical miles at an average speed of 21.72 knots in the last 24 hours in her quest to claim the Jules Verne record. The big tri is down at 55° South, not quite far enough south to have to worry about the ice. In any event, she is currently well ahead of the current record held by Bruno Peyron and the maxi-cat Orange, with just under 18,000 miles to go.
Photo Jacques Vapillon
Ellen MacArthur and her crew on Kingfisher2, ex-Orange, started later and have been having a much tougher time in that they haven't had much breeze. Finally in a breeze in the South Atlantic, she's desperately trying to make up time, being 31 hours behind Orange's record and 77 hours behind where Geronimo was at this point. She has just over 20,000 miles to go.
Meanwhile, Steve Fossett and PlayStation have been standing by for two weeks at Puerto Sherry Marina in Spain waiting for a weather window to take a crack at the east to west transatlantic Christopher Columbus Route record. They may leave tonight. PlayStation currently holds the west to east record, having crossed the Atlantic at an average speed in excess of 25 knots - certainly the greatest sailing speed record to date.
"Fifteen Years Later, We Find Ourselves Still Cruising"
February 14 - Malaysia
"We left Boston in 1986 to go cruising for a few years," write Peter and Jeanne Pockel of the Green Cove Springs, Florida, based Jeanneau Sun Fizz 38 Watermelon, which is currently in Malaysia. "Fifteen years later, we are still 'cruising for a few years'. We cannot say enough positive things about how wonderful this cruising life is - the sights, the wonderful people we have met everywhere, and the new things we have learned as we have traveled."
Photos Courtesy Watermelon
Having started with a modest vessel, in '93 the couple stopped in Australia where they had a hard dodger added and lengthened the boat to 42 feet with a scoop.
It's a Coronado 25 or 27
February 14 - Dana Point
Having been out of town, on Wednesday we asked if anyone knew what kind of boat the wayward Richard Van Pham was currently sailing, and where she came from. Many of you sent news reports saying she was a 25-ft sloop that had been given to him by Erwin Fruend, a bio-engineer from Thousands Oaks. Reader Dan Hayes, who had his boat berthed near Van Pham's in Dana Point reports that it's a Coronado 25 or 27 - mostly likely a 25 - apparently in quite decent shape.
When Van Pham had his most recent voyage terminated 15 miles off Dana Point by the Coast Guard, he was cited for not having the basic navigation and signaling equipment. This surprised Fruend, who says he gave the Vietnamese immigrant the boat complete with a compass, working GPS, and VHF. When stopped, Van Pham was going in the opposite direction he thought he was going and was talking a lot of nonsense. He did not have the proverbial wheelbarrow aboard the small boat, but he did have a baby stroller. The guy clearly seems to be a couple of panels short of a main.
February 14 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace
Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? The YOTREPS daily yacht tracking page has moved to www.bitwrangler.com/psn.
February 14 - 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
Check out the Pacific Ocean sea states