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Photo of the Day: Ala Wai

December 15 - Honolulu, HI

Today's Photos of the Day are examples of what happens when a yacht harbor is poorly managed, maintenance is deferred forever, and the tenants are allowed to decide how much below market and cost they will pay for their slips.

Photos Rob Coleman

The yacht harbor in question is the state-run 750-slip Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu, where 104 slips have been condemned because they are in danger of collapsing under their own weight. Previously, folks with boats in the slips were told - we're not making this up - to limit the number of people standing on the docks at any one time lest they cave in! The docks, which were built in the '50s, have been substandard since we started covering sailing events in Hawaii - and that was in the late '70s. As we've written many times before, the Ala Wai, with its superb location, should be the showpiece marina of the Pacific. Instead, it's a crumbling embarrassment.

For decades, the Ala Wai has been famous for having ridiculously low slip fees - which is why people would never give them up, even if they no longer used their boats. In other cases, the slips were used for $120/month oceanfront housing. When auditors told the state last year that slip fees needed to be upped 185% to properly fund the marina expenses, boaters protested, and the state caved in. Not only did they not raise the slip fees 185%, they didn't raise them at all! Since 1993, state auditors have warned boaters that slips would have to be closed unless fees were raised to cover the cost of maintenance, and now it's come true. Nobody wants to pay excessive slip fees, but you can't help wonder if Ala Wai slipholders are getting what they really wanted.

Dozens of boats have had to move elsewhere or are rafted up two and three deep. We're told the yacht harbor is no longer accepting transients, which used to be able to get 120 days a year. Seems like it's high time the State of Hawaii leave the management and running of their marinas to professionals.

A Little Winter Warmth

December 15 - Mediterranean Sea

Photo Noel Gaudinet

What could be better on a cold winter's day in the United States than memories of great warm weather summer sailing? Say hello to Tonja, crewmember aboard Noel Gaudinet's Outremer 45 cat Laia. The photo was taken this summer somewhere off the coast of Corsica or Sardinia.

America's Cup Action Coming Back to Newport, Rhode Island

December 12 - Newport, RI

Alinghi, the Swiss victors in the America's Cup, announced they will be bringing America's Cup sailing action back to Newport, Rhode Island, June 19-26. They hope to have six syndicates participate, but so far only Oracle BMW and Alinghi are confirmed. In order to be more spectator friendly, the races will be held close to shore and last just an hour. In other words, more like the Moët Cup action on San Francisco Bay last fall than the real America's Cup. Alinghi and Oracle BMW both realize that the America's Cup has to be made more exciting and audience friendly, or the grand old event, like an Ala Wai Marina dock, will collapse of its own weight.

Close up action during the Moët Cup, which they are hoping to repeat in Newport.
Photos Latitude Archives

New Solo Monohull 24-Hour Record

December 15 - Atlantic Ocean

Hats off to young Brit Alex Thomson, who, sailing the Open 60 AT in the Défi Atlantique Transatlantic Race, covered 466 miles in 24 hours - an average of 19.4 knots. In so doing, he beat the previous mark, held by Dominique Wavre of France, by 36 miles. The record was set while power reaching in 30 to 35 knots of wind, with one reef in the main and a variety of headsails. Thomson was on deck the entire time, and existed on tuna, sardines, and Lucozade, a weird Brit drink. Despite the incredible record run, Thomson is still second place to Vincent Riou of PRB in the race.

We can't remember off the top of our head what the solo record is for 24 hours in a multihull, but it's certainly much higher. For instance, Francis Joyon, currently chasing the around the world solo record with the 90-ft trimaran IDEC, just turned in a 453-mile day followed by a 452-mile day.

Profligate in the Caribbean

December 15 - St. Maarten

What's this, Profligate hauled out again? That's right, three times in three months. Initially we hoped to do a 25th anniversary cruise, not a tour of boatyards. Alas, the fiberglass guy at the boatyard in Vacamonte, Panama, went overboard with the catalyst when mixing a batch of glass to seal up the saildrive compartment. Unbeknownst to the crew, it ended up like looking like cottage cheese and was porous, allowing water to seep in from under the engine bed during the 1,100 miles from Panama to the Eastern Caribbean. We hate any water in the bilges, let alone about 30 gallons of it a day, so after some fun in Antigua and a circumnavigation of St. Barth, off we went to St. Martin for yet another haulout. It's expected Profligate will be back in the water today.

How do we feel about having Profligate in the Caribbean? Ecstatic! Waking up in the morning and throwing ourselves into the blue 85º water is sheer pleasure. And when the Wanderer virtually singlehanded around St. Barth (de Mallorca was crashed out in the salon) life was so very, very sweet, no matter if in the middle of a big squall or reaching in bright sunshine. We intend to circumnavigate that island many times this winter.

What's the greatest sailing time and place in the world? For the Wanderer, it is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, St. Barth during New Year's holidays. The sailing, the beaches, the warm winter weather, the beautiful ladies, and the around the island race/parade featuring some of the greatest yachts in the world - what more could you want? This year it's going to be even better than normal, because our old sparring partner John Haste with the San Diego-based cat Little Wing will be there, with crew from the San Diego-based Perry 72 Elysium.

We know it's very, very late, and there might not be any flights left, but if anybody wants to try to charter a berth or cabin aboard Profligate for the extreme New Year's fun in St. Barth, contact us immediately. Why didn't we announce this earlier? We had to be sure the boat would make it there. Will there be other charter opportunities on her this winter? Yes, for events such as the BVI Spring Regatta and the Heinie Regatta in St. Martin. Like to run your own boat? There's no reason you can't charter a bareboat from St. Martin and make the 15-mile sail to St. Barth for next New Year's. But you'd better get your reservation in now, because the boats go fast - and we don't mean through the water.

Profligate hauled out on the Dutch side of St. Martin

A F/P 65 and Profligate on the hook at Gustavia, St. Barth

Kicking back on rafts at Petite Anse
Photo Wayne Meretsky

Beef Tartare for lunch
Photos Latitude/Richard except as noted


December 15 - 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

December 15 - 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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