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Photo of the Day: Parlier Launches Curious Cat

February 6 - Gujan-Mestras, France

Raising the bar of multihull innovation yet another notch, Yves Parlier's just-launched 60-ft catamaran Médiatis Région Aquitaine is certainly one of the most radical multihulls ever built. Her design features two identical masts (one mounted on each hull), an unconventionally wide beam of nearly 50 feet and radical hull shapes employed to create minimal drag.

Purpose-built to challenge the current crop of 60-ft trimarans, Médiatis Région Aquitaine's 4.5-ton weight is a full ton lighter than the tris. Parlier, a veteran of three Vendée Globe Races and winner of a numerous Open 60 campaigns, is expected to begin test-sailing his newest toy soon in the waters of southwestern France. He has already entered Médiatis in this year's Transat (ex-OSTAR).

Photo & Graphic Courtesy www.dailysail.com

Banderas Bay Regatta Next Month

February 6 - Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

The twelfth annual Banderas Bay International Regatta will be held March 25-28 at Paradise Village Resort and Marina just a few miles north of Puerto Vallarta in Nuevo Vallarta.

Banderas Bay Regatta start 

In addition to a great racing venue Friday, Saturday and Sunday, activities and entertainment are scheduled every day throughout the regatta. "The Vallarta Yacht Club, the State of Nayarit, and the Paradise Village Resort and Marina all help sponsor the regatta to make it a fun-filled week and very inexpensive for participants," said regatta organizer Terry O'Rourke. "The entry fee is just $48 per boat and per person which includes attendance to a performance by the famous Ballet Folklorico at the Paradise Village Resort's 400-seat outdoor amphitheater Thursday evening and the gala awards banquet poolside Sunday evening," he said. Tickets can be also be purchased individually for the Ballet Folklorico ($16) or the Awards Banquet ($36).

The Vallarta Yacht Club is also having a two-day open house for everyone, with great food and live entertainment, Friday with country band Redneck Mothers, and Saturday with world-class Flamenco guitarists Latcho and Andrea, the 'Gitans Blondes'.

Entry forms are available on the regatta Web site at www.bbregatta.com and can turned in via the Internet, fax, snail mail or in person. All racing skippers need to complete their registration and get them in by March 12. Registrations received after March 12 will incur a 500 peso late registration fee.

Big cats maneuver to the start line. Yes, that's Profligate on the left.
Photos Courtesy Banderas Bay International Regatta

'Petite Hurricane' Beaches Yacht in Cabo

February 6 - Cabo San Lucas, BCS

Susie Woodrum of Sausalito, who sails the Moore 24 Frenzy out of Tiburon YC with husband Lon, has a sad story from Cabo: "We arrived here on January 19 to stay in a friend's villa (fancy word for a fancy condo) on the beach. We saw this poor Coronado 41 high and dry. Nearby, living in a tent, guarding her possessions, were the owner and her little dog. She told us there had been a 'petite hurricane' the Wednesday before. Three boats dragged anchor and ended up on the beach. The two others were able to get off with minimal damage. She was waiting for her insurance, the authorities, the fork lift, etc., to all come together to get the boat to the yard.

Photos Susie Woodrum

"A week later, after we had left to come back home, my friend Pat Tostenson took the photos showing the disastrous rescue attempt. What were they thinking? The owner had specifically told us the boat was holed. Why they thought it might float long enough to get it to that thing in the water that sorta looks like a floating drydock, I don't know.

Photos Pat Tostenson

"The name on the dinghy that had been on the davit was Silent Sam. She said she was from Manhattan Beach."

Profligate's Progress

February 6 - St. Barth, FWI

We spent most of Wednesday at St. Kitts, which is a lot like Catalina - except that it has a tall volcano and a big rainforest; they have monkeys instead of buffalo; the climate is tropical instead of temperate; the biggest crop is sugarcane; most of the population are descendants of slaves; it's home to a huge fort; and it was the site of many battles between Caribs, the French, and the Brits. We suppose what we're trying to say is that St. Kitts and Catalina are about the same size.

St. Kitts isn't the easiest place to clear into. There's really no place to tie your dinghy at the commercial port. We ended up tying to a big barge that could have left at any moment. And the clearing procedure was the all too common fill out a bunch of papers nonsense that seems to us to be a waste of time. In fact, lots of folks simply never check in at the various islands down here. There aren't many patrol boats, so not many seem to get caught.

In many of the official offices in the Caribbean, the radio is tuned to some music, and lots of the officials seem to groove with the beat. At St. Kitts, we got a kick out of the fact that the radio was playing, and the port official was rocking to the beat of Sweet Aloha.

At least the man and the woman in the office were friendly. We wanted to tour the island, and they got us a great taxi guide - even though the Queen Mary 2, the largest cruise ship in the world, on her very first cruise, was in town, and her passengers were gobbling up most of the taxis. Leroy, our very friendly taxi guide, charged us $60 for a four-hour tour - or about the same price as a light lunch in St. Barth. The tour turned out to be an excellent deal.

We like the funny stuff you find out about places. For example, we asked if locals still harvest the sugar cane on St. Kitts. "Oh no," said Leroy, "none of our people would do that. We bring workers in from Guiana." We also got a kick out of the fact they were building some 'low income' housing on a little bluff about 150 feet above the Caribbean Sea, with a great view. We told our driver they'd be million dollar lots in California. He just laughed and said, "Everybody on St. Kitts has an ocean view."

The highlights of the tour were Basseterre, the capital of St. Kitts & Nevis, which is one island; the rainforest; Romney Manor, an old plantation that's now a botanical garden; Brimstone Hill, the 'Gibraltar of the Caribbean; the prime minister's house; and an overview of the southern third of the island. Here are some photos:

David Ray's Newport, Rhode Island-based Nirvana, built by Hinckley in about 1950 and meticulously maintained, enjoys a close reach with St. Kitts in the background.

After the Brits and French joined together to massacre the Carib Indians, with the help of a traitorous Carib woman, they split the island. The French got the two ends while the Brits got the middle. Yeah, as if that was going to work out. So the Brits built Brimstone Hill, the biggest fort in the Caribbean, with a commanding overview of the sea. They had scores of cannons with a range of three miles. Had one of them been operational, it would have been easy enough to lob a cannonball on the unsuspecting Sunsail chartercat motoring below in the photo. In fact, we suggested that the tourist attraction could dramatically increase attendance if they'd only have live demonstrations of the cannons. Alas, we think this great idea will go nowhere. In any event, the Brits aimed all their guns toward the sea, overlooking the fact that the clever French might attack from the rear. Which is what they did, of course. After a month or so, the 8,000 French starved out the 1,000 Brits.

Another shot of Brimstone Hill, showing Saba on the left, and Statia in the distance. The cannon is pointed toward Le Select Bar on St. Barth, about 40 miles away.

St. Kitts basically has one road that follows the coast around the island. That leaves the entire upper elevations to the rainforest, and inhabitants such as this little monkey. We were alternately told that the monkeys came over as pets of the Europeans or escaped a ship that wrecked on the shore. In any event, there are now more than 100,000 of them - about three times the number of humans on the island - and they drive the farmers crazy.

This is one tiny fraction of a single massive tree at Romney Manor. Before Hurricane George hit, it was said to cover over one acre! Even now, it has about 250 other plants growing on it. A better journalist would have remembered the name of the tree.

Doña de Mallorca always wanted to know what she'd look like in dreads. Here she tries on some red ones.

The main circus in Basseterre, capital of St. Kitts, was modeled after Piccadilly Circus in London. You can tell this isn't the one in London because there aren't any double-decker buses. Oh yeah, and because of the chickens strolling around.

The folks of St. Kitts have, to our mind, come up with a good plan. If non-islanders want to buy land, they can only do it on the undeveloped south end of the island. This keeps rich foreigners from driving the price of housing on the rest of the island out of reach of the locals. Ironically, the south side of the island is one of the most beautiful, and is almost totally undeveloped. Until recently, that is. A Canadian plastics mogul apparently put up $400 million to build a gigantic Marriott Hotel, at what we feel wasn't a very good site. Hilton, on the other hand, is apparently going to build at the site seen in the photo, where the rough Atlantic and the smooth Caribbean are separated by only a couple of hundred yards. If you're looking for isolated anchorages in the St. Kitts/Nevis area, the south side of the island is the place. There's nobody around.

Scotland? It only looks like it. It's actually one of the numerous remote anchorages at the south end of St. Kitts. And it only looks cold. The water and air are very, very warm, thank you. Actually, this is more than St. Kitts, as the cloud shrouded volcanic peak in the background is Nevis, which is separated from St. Kitts by less than two miles.

You see a lot of great boats and ships in the Caribbean, such as this five-master. Germans apparently go crazy for these kinds of cruises, for this is almost new and was built specifically for the purpose. Count the number of sails!
Photos Latitude/Richard

Green Light for Cheyenne

February 6 - Plymouth, UK

A reasonable weather scenario is coming together for an imminent Round the World start. Steve Fossett and his crew plan to take the 125-ft catamaran off the dock at Plymouth Yacht Haven today and make the 120-mile trip to the official Round the World Record start line at Le Stiff lighthouse on the French island of Ouessant (Ushant). This transit to Ouessant should take 10-12 hours - mostly heading upwind.

Their next leg will be a little longer - totaling 21,760 miles in fact: Ouessant to Ouessant, via the three capes - Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn. Fossett expects to cross the start line Saturday morning 0300-1200 GMT.

Cheyenne's target will be the 2002 record as certified by the WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council) of 64 days, 8 hours, 37 minutes and 24 seconds - an average speed of 13.98 kts, set by Bruno Peyron and crew aboard the 110'
catamaran Orange. See www.sailspeedrecords.com/ratified.html and www.fossettchallenge.com.

Help from the Coasties in Mazatlan

February 6 - Mazatlan, Mexico

Susan Meckley, a 70-year old singlehander sailing Dharma, reports from Mazatlan: "I had the water pump rebuilt the day before I left La Paz. It failed again, about 100 miles at sea. Upon arrival in Mazatlan it was rebuilt again, but it failed after 10 minutes. The rebuilder did not replace the impeller. There is no replacement impeller in Mazatlan.

"But USCG Cutter 724 (Monro out of Alameda) was here. I approached them not knowing if I would get shot as a terrorist or what. I showed them my retired ID card: 32 years in the army - and the engineering department went to work fabricating a new impeller for me. It took 2 hours - now that is what I call 'above
and beyond'. The Coasties were there - and they helped! Thanks, Coast Guard.

"Mazatlan is now charging $9.00 US/day to anchor in the old harbor, $6.00 for the port captain, and $3.00 for the dinghy dock. Better to spend $20.00/month and go to the marina at Isle Mazatlan. The Marina entrance in Mazatlan is open ONLY 9:30 to 10:00 am, 2:30 to 3:00 pm, after 6 pm each day and all day on Sundays. The dredge is in operation at all other times."

Baja Ha-Ha Committee Currently Hibernating

February 6 - Tiburon

Although the start of the 2004 Baja Ha-Ha cruisers rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas is still nine months away, anxious would-be entrants are already calling and emailing the Latitude 38 offices daily for dates and info on the event. Although Latitude 38 founded the rally - which is now in its 11th year - the Ha-Ha is now a completely separate entity. And, unfortunately, the entire Rally Committee has gone into hibernation until May 1, when the 2004 event will be officially announced.

Before they slipped into deep slumber, however, we learned that the event will begin with a Kick-Off Party Sunday, October 24, with the start the following day. The final activity will be the Awards Ceremony on the evening of November 6.

The Baja Ha-Ha Web site, www.baja-haha.com, has recently been updated with dates and details. Prospective applicants will find the answers to many frequently-asked questions on the site as well as a photo gallery of last year's event.


February 6 - 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

February 6 - 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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