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Photo of the Day

September 19 - San Francisco Bay

Photo Latitude/JR 

Today's Photo of the Day is from last night's long and dazzling Moët Cup fireworks show - courtesy of Larry Ellison of Oracle BMW Racing - on the San Francisco waterfront. For those up close and personal at the St. Francis and Golden Gate YCs, it was spectacular. Even an observer from the Sausalito Headlands spoke in superlatives: "It's was the best fireworks I've ever seen, looking like New Year's, the Fourth of July, and the KFOG Kaboom all rolled into one. And even from the Headlands, it sounded like the battle of Midway." We caught the show from the deck of the Corinthian YC immediately following Mark Rudiger's presentation there, and even from that distance it looked pretty impressive.

It wouldn't be San Francisco, of course, if some of the citizens didn't have a fit about the fireworks. Some have gotten on Craig's List to ask everyone to email complaints to all the officers of the Golden Gate YC. Their complaints are they didn't know about the fireworks, and that they shot off on a non-holiday Thursday evening. We think the local media are to blame for word of the fireworks not getting out, as God knows people love fireworks, and this was a great show of which public should have been better informed. As for the fireworks being on a non-holiday Thursday night, leave it to some San Franciscans to drag up any excuse to object to people having a little innocent fun.

Suicide in the Mid-Pacific

September 19 - Pacific Ocean

Delivery skipper Don George of the San Francisco YC-based Swan 61 Hasty Heart came across an unusual sight halfway from Hawaii to San Francisco yesterday - a sailboat drifting around with tattered sails and a drooping radar. As George and the rest of the crew approached, they could see the name Southbound II with a hailing port of Santa Cruz. The boat was floating fine, but there was nobody aboard. Getting no response to their hails, some of the Hasty Heart crew went aboard. Although all the boat's gear seemed to still be there, as well as personal effects such as the owner's wallet, there was no sign of him or any possible crew.

The Hasty Heart crew called the Coast Guard, which told them they'd been on the boat in July, and had found a suicide note left by owner Stephen James Brown. It seems odd to us, but the Coast Guard apparently decided to let the boat, which seems like a hazard to navigation, just drift. They also left everything onboard except for the ship's log.

The name Stephen Brown sounded familiar to us, so we looked through our records. Sure enough, he'd made several contributions to Changes in Latitudes, mostly while doing a singlehanded circumnavigation from '85 to '89 aboard Southbound, a Bingham 32. We heard from him again several years ago when we were compiling our list of West Coast circumnavigators. At the time, he gave a Scott's Valley address and phone number. The phone is disconnected. There are indications that he was most recently sailing out of either Honolulu or Lihue, Kauai.

The Hasty Heart crew said Southbound II had the insignia 'NW 38' on the house. We're wondering if they misread it, and she's really a Nor'West 33. In any event, Stephen Brown, bless his soul, apparently committed suicide at sea at age 54.

McKee Pipped in First Leg of Mini-Transat

September 19 - Lanzarote, Canary Islands

After just over nine days, Seattle's Jonathan McKee was nipped at the Lanzarote, Canary Islands, finish line of the 1,350-mile first leg of the Mini-Transat by Sam Manuard. Almost equally impressive was the sixth place finish - in the 70-boat fleet - by woman sailor Pia L'Obry. The Mini-Transat, sailed solo in extreme 21-footers, has been the breeding ground for some of the world's best offshore sailors. The second and final leg takes the fleet across to Brazil.

Moët Action Continues in Perfect Weather Conditions

September 19 -
San Francisco Bay

Oracle BMW Racing and Alinghi went at it again yesterday in idyllic conditions on San Francisco Bay. For a change, Alinghi claimed both the Pro-Driver and Owner-Driver races, tightening up the series. The Pro-Driver race in particular was a thriller, with two lead changes and a penalty. The competition continues today and tomorrow, with two races each day. The weather should continue to be spectacular, and you don't want to miss it. The action usually starts between 1 and 2 p.m., with a course between Treasure Island and just west of the St. Francis YC.

Having watched a number of these races so far, it's clear to us that if yacht racing is to attract the general public, the boats need to get close - real close - to the crowds. For when the two boats scraped the end of the spit in a couple of races, it made the action immediate and real to those on shore, and was very exciting. But when tide conditions meant the boats never came closer than several hundred yards to shore, the crowds were noticeably let down. We're not sure how you can have great match sailing with crowds right there, but that's what would be perfect.

When Alinghi and Oracle BMW Racing sailed close to shore, the spectators were jacked.

When the two boats beat up the middle of the Bay, far from crowds, to take advantage of the tide, spectators were disappointed.
Photos Latitude/Nick

Looking for Adventure?

September 19 - San Francisco

One of our big goals this winter is to try to get Latitude's 63-ft catamaran Profligate to the Eastern Caribbean before Christmas. To that end, there may be a couple of non-paying crew positions available to folks looking for adventure, wanting to get to the Caribbean for the season, and/or needing sea time for Coast Guard licenses.

To make things perfectly clear, this will be a pedal-to-the-metal delivery trip under power rather than a pleasure cruise under sail. We repeat, this will definitely not be a pleasure cruise. There will be no leisurely stops along the way, just a few quick-as-possible fuel stops, the slowdown for getting through the Canal, and weather-imposed stops on the north coast of South America and/or the south coasts of Jamaica, Hispañola and Puerto Rico. There will almost certainly be some very rough weather - particularly on the Caribbean side of the Canal - as well some terrific lightning storms. Given the distance involved - it could easily end up being 4,000 miles - you would need to be able to commit to seven weeks.

If the sound of this kind of open-ended grueling adventure really gets you excited, you'd need to be able to get yourself and your current passport to Cabo San Lucas no later than November 5, and be happy and willing to be adventuring until just before Christmas. There is a slight possibility - no guarantees - of being able to stay on the boat for part or all of the winter fun and games in the Caribbean or hang on the boat long enough until you can get a job on another boat.

No matter if you are male or female, this is a younger person's gig. You must be in top physical condition and not have any alcohol, drug, or medical issues. Offshore experience would be nice, but we'll consider people who have otherwise proven their grit and perseverance by having done things such as climbed Mt. Everest, swam the English Channel, or walked across the Mojave Desert.

To apply, write a short letter with all the pertinent information, a couple of sentences about why you'd want to do such a miserable trip, and take a recent photo, then click here to email it all to Richard under the Subject heading of 'Caribbean or Bust'. But please, don't do this unless you're absolutely serious.

For more information - some of it outdated - on Profligate, visit www.profligate.com.


September 19 - 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.

Weather Updates

September 19 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

Check out this guide to San Francisco Bay Navigational Aids: http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/sfports.html.

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

The site for the Pacific Ocean sea states has moved to http://www.mpc.ncep.noaa.gov/shtml/PacRegSSA.shtml.
For views of sea states anywhere in the world, see http://www.oceanweather.com/data.

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