Photo of the Day

March 17 - Vallejo

Today's Photo of the Day is of Doña de Mallorca at the California Maritime Academy pool struggling to flip over a 20-person liferaft. Flipping the raft is part of the 14-day California Maritime Academy curriculum for getting a Coast Guard captain's license.

Photo Latitude/Richard

Thanks to studying like a freshman on probation, de Mallorca passed all her academic tests - and even her drug test - with flying colors. Caution to all would-be captains - the tests aren't easy and do require a lot of study. The last stop in de Mallorca's licensing process will be documenting her sea time and having it evaluated by the Coast Guard. By the way, despite the looks of things, she did manage to flip the raft and climb aboard.

J/35 Jammin' Sinks During Doublehanded Lightship

March 17 -
Golden Gate

Beware the Ides of March! Contrary to the weather forecast, Island YC's 25-mile Doublehanded Lightship Race on Saturday was an improbably delightful day on the ocean - at least for most of the 40-some boats entered. It must have been a nightmare, however, for Steve Klein, owner of the J/35 Jammin' (ex-Equanimity). Details are still sketchy, but according to race chair Joanne McFee, Jammin' got inside the surf line coming home (in an effort to get out of the ebb) and was rolled, dismasted and totaled on the rocks. Check the April issue of Latitude 38 for details.

Meanwhile, Trevor Baylis and his sister Liz (who will be traveling to New York to pick up her Rolex on Friday!) swept the race with Trevor's J/90 Sweet Jane - first to finish, first in the spritpole class, and first overall. Other class winners were Sleeping Dragon (Hobie 33, Mark Halman), Basic Instinct (Elliot 1050, Jan Borjeson), Silkye (WylieCat 30, Steve Seal) and Strait Jacket (Mull 22, Ben Haket). Check out soon for full results.

Photos Latitude/Rob

The same waves that destroyed Jammin' provided thrilling sport for surfers . . .

. . . and windsurfers.

Sweet Jane plays peek-a-boo behind the big swell.

There she is!

Geronimo Scalped by Light and Fickle Wind Nearing Finish

March 17 - North Atlantic Ocean

It's a bitter end of a Jules Verne Around the World record attempt for Olivier de Kersauson and the maxi-tri Geronimo, as on Day 63 light and fickle winds limited their 24-hour run to a pathetic 180 miles. When Bruno Peyron and the maxi-cat Orange set the Jules Verne record, they covered 549 miles on the same day. The last 12 hours have been particularly bad for Geronimo, as they're down to a 4.86 knot average - Cal 25 speeds.

Speaking of the light air conditions that have bedeviled the big tri for several weeks now, de Kersauson said, "There's a real feeling of impotence on board as there's nothing any of us can do about weather as ridiculous as this. It's so unusual! Even if we'd had a three-day lead by the time we reached the Azores, we'd have lost it anyway. This weather system is really huge and totally surreal. In July or August, you might expect it, but in March, it's really unbelievable."

Update: After 64 days and 8 hours, the time of the current record, Geronimo was 650 miles from the finish.

Crew No Longer Needed for Kabunza

March 17 - Grenada

We want to thank everyone for the tremendous response to Ruth Olson's request in the March 5th 'Lectronic for help getting her and husband Steve Shultz's Nautitech 435 catamaran Kabunza from Grenada to Florida. Steve suffered three strokes while on the boat in Grenada and is recuperating back home in Healdsburg. They now have a delivery crew.

Crew Needed for Profligate

March 17 - Cabo San Lucas, BCS

Latitude's 63-ft catamaran Profligate will be heading north from Cabo on about April 1 to do a Baja Bash north to San Diego. If you're an experienced sailor who needs sea time or just wants to get away from land, there are a couple of slots open. Baja Bashes can be cold, wet and miserable, but sometimes they aren't bad at all. Signing on would require a commitment of about 10 days, and it's likely to be mostly motoring. There's no pay involved, but those who have done upwind deliveries move up the list for downwind deliveries - which are really great. If interested, email Richard with a listing of experience and two sailing references.

This is what Profligate looks like at Cabo Falso sailing downwind in the mellow breezes of fall. During the delivery to San Diego, she'll be going the other way and likely into much stronger weather.
Photo Latitude/Richard

Nevada Couple Wins $3.25 Million Judgment from Fountaine Pajot

March 17 - Oakland

In the February issue of Latitude 38 we reported that Oakland attorney Ted Keech had filed suit on behalf of Tahoe residents Peter Schlenzka and Julie Langhorne over defects to the Marquesas 56 catamaran they purchased, and then later for fraud. It's a long story, and to get the background you should read that February Sightings. Keech just sent us a letter regarding the current status of the case, an abbreviated version of which we're printing here.

"The case went to trial on February 7, 2003, in Alameda County Superior Court. Fountaine Pajot, true to its pre-trial announcement, did not show up. We put on the evidence, and the court found that the boat had broken loose in La Rochelle during a storm of hurricane force winds in late December 1999 and sustained serious structural damage to the port hull. The evidence showed that after the storm and before the delivery voyage, Fountaine Pajot hauled the boat, removed the mast, made repairs below the water line along the entire length of the port side of the port hull and around the bow, made repairs above the waterline on the port side of the port hull, replaced the forward crossbeam, and later restepped the mast. The mast was restepped just the day before the delivery voyage started. Even if it was properly tuned then, the new rigging stretched during the delivery voyage and caused the bottom of the mast to wear away and crack where it pivoted on the mast step.

"The court found that the two highest-ranking people in the company, Jean François Fountaine and Eric Breneel, had known about the storm, the damage and the repairs, and yet never told the buyers. This means that while Peter was repeatedly asking questions and requesting help, Fountaine Pajot's top executives were sitting back doing nothing, saying nothing, even though they knew what was wrong with the boat and knew it was their responsibility.

"The judge found that Fountaine Pajot committed perjury in pre-trial discovery. We had repeatedly asked Fountaine Pajot to describe what had happened to the boat. Breneel and Fountaine repeatedly answered under oath, falsely contending that Fountaine Pajot knew nothing about any damage to the boat. When we confronted Fountaine Pajot with pictures of the storm damage around La Rochelle and evidence that the boat had been hauled for repairs between its first launching and the beginning of the delivery voyage, Fountaine Pajot continued to claim ignorance of any damage to the boat.

"The judge also found that Fountaine Pajot's decision not to attend the trial was an attempt to frustrate plaintiffs' right to recover punitive damages. Under California law, a plaintiff cannot recover punitive damages without showing evidence of defendant's net worth. Fountaine Pajot was under a court order to produce its financial information on January 17, and on January 16 it stopped participating in the case to avoid providing the information. We were able to get the information anyway because in France the financial reports of even privately held companies are public documents, and in fact, we got them off the Web.

"In summary, the judge ruled that Fountaine Pajot had defrauded Peter and Julie, endangered them and their children, lied under oath to try to conceal it, and pulled out of the lawsuit to try to frustrate their punitive damage claim. The court's judgment gave full restitution to plaintiffs and punished Fountaine Pajot heavily for its misconduct before and during the litigation. As a result, the judgment was much larger than any amount that had ever been offered in settlement."

That judgment was $3.25 million. Keech said the couple would initially have been happy with about $20,000.

Before anyone rushes to final conclusions, they need to remember that the above report is the plaintiffs' attorney's account of what happened in the case, a case in which the defendants withdrew from active participation, apparently to pursue another strategy. Although we have not been able to get a statement from them at this time, it would not surprise us if they had a different perspective on everything.

Although the couple were awarded $3.25 million by the California court, it's going to be interesting to see if they can ever collect the money - or if they ultimately get stuck with considerable legal bills and a boat that's been sitting on the hard in the hot Florida sun for more than a year.


March 17 - 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

Weather Updates

March 17 - 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 at

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 views of sea states anywhere in the world, see

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