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North Pacific Search Suspended for Crew of Westsail 32 Azure

November 24 - North Pacific Ocean

In terrible news, a massive search in the North Pacific over the weekend by a Coast Guard cutter and two commercial vessels yielded items from the Westsail 32 Azure, but no sign of the boat or her owners, Brian and Helen Moore of Cypress, California. The Moores, who had departed Long Beach in May for a quick tour of the South Seas, were headed home because, as they told Robert and Gretchen of Cory Doon in Nawiliwili, "he was satisfied with his 'adventure' and she wanted to get back to the grandkids."

Brian, 68, and Helen, 65, left Kauai on the last leg of their voyage home on November 6 - apparently on an initial northern heading as is typical in summer when avoiding the Pacific High. The thing was, the high isn't usually there in the winter. What greeted them two weeks out was a storm packing 60-knot winds and 25-ft waves. (When the waves hit the islands a couple of days later, they were 30 feet high and caused extensive damage to North Shore communities.)

On November 20, when 950 miles north-northwest of Hawaii, the Moores activated their EPIRB. The Coast Guard immediately dispatched a long-range C-130, and diverted the container ship Long Beach and fishing boat Kimmy I to the area. The Coast Guard cutter Polar Sea, en route from Seattle to Honolulu, was also diverted. The Coast Guard plane located two liferafts and some debris - a volleyball and a milk crate - consistent with what would have been aboard Azure. They also thought they saw people in one of the rafts. However, a radio they dropped nearby was not picked up, and later analysis of videotape shot at the scene was inconclusive as to whether anyone really was on the raft. Before it ran low on fuel, the C-130 dropped at least one and possibly two fully-equipped liferafts. A Navy P-3 Orion arrived a short time later and confirmed the sightings. (Neither the C-130 or Orion are equipped for actual rescue operations.)

The Kimmy I was first to arrive on scene. They also found debris and located both of Azure's rafts, which were empty. Tethered to the one full of water was the EPIRB, still transmitting as it bobbed alongside. As well as being rough, the water in the area was 69 degrees, cold enough for hypothermia to set in quickly. The container ship, cutter and fishing boat searched an area of 4,300 square miles for three days. The search was finally called off just before dark on November 23, 17 hours after the hypothermia charts predicted the couple could no longer survive.

It's difficult to speculate on what might have happened. The Westsail 32 is a very stout boat generally considered capable of taking care of the crew when the crew could no longer take care of the boat. In addition, the couple were experienced sailors.

Francis Joyon Starts Nonstop Solo Circumnavigation on 90-ft Trimaran

November 24 - France

When to comes to setting wild and crazy sailing goals, it's difficult to top the French. In the latest proof, Francis Joyon departed France aboard the 90-ft trimaran IDEC in an attempt to break the nonstop singlehanded around the world record. The current record of 93 days was set by Michel Desjoyeaux in the Vendée Globe with his Open 60 PRB. It's one of the few sailing records still held by a monohull. While the maxi tri is often capable of sailing twice as fast as an Open 60, it's much harder for a solo sailer to drive her to her full potential. Before being modified again, the trimaran has been singlehanded around the world in 125 days, and crewed around the world in 71 days.

Joyon is a bit of a loner who likes to do things his way, but he's been racing multihulls in the ocean for many years with considerable success. It's going to be interesting following his progress. By the way, he's now battling 40-knot winds.

212 Boats Start the ARC

November 24 - Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

A mob of 212 boats left Las Palmas in Gran Canaria yesterday on the start of the 19th annual Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, which will take the fleet 2,700 miles to St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean. Conditions were described as ideal for the start, but expected to ease off. As was the case last year, Mark and David Bernhard's Catana 58 catamaran Aurora is the only Northern California entry.

Photos Courtesy World Cruising Ltd.

Profligate's Progress

November 24 - Panama

As you may recall, last Wednesday Profligate's mad dash to the Caribbean was thwarted when one saildrive gave out 50 miles short of the Panama Canal, and the other started to sound bad. Thanks to a flurry of activity - to say nothing of lots of money - the cat was hauled and the saildrives shipped posthaste from St. Pete, Florida. With the Profligate crew busting their butts, the engine beds were modified and the new and stronger saildrives all but completely installed by Saturday night.

As we write this on Monday morning, she's being lowered back into the water and hopefully will transit the Canal tomorrow. Time is of the essence, as the next 72 hours look good in the Caribbean, but after that the winds and seas will be picking up.

Taking a Break

November 24 - Mill Valley

Because of the Thanksgiving Holiday there won't be another 'Lectronic Latitude until next Monday.


November 24 - 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 Links

November 24 - 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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