Photo of the Day
February 9 - St. Barth
Being a crewmember on a megayacht just sounds glamorous. Your primary responsibility is to clean, clean, clean - which is why they are called 'chamois technicians'. It takes a certain kind of individual who can scrub the side of a hull in the heat of the day while the guests sip champagne and compare purchases from Prada, Gucci, Dior, and Bvlgari. Anybody ever see the movie Swept Away? No, not the stupid one by Madonna, but the classic by Lina Wertmüller.
Two for the Jules Verne
February 9 - Atlantic Ocean
American adventurer Steve Fossett and his international 12-person crew aboard the 125-ft maxi-catamaran Cheyenne sped south and passed the observer of the World Sailing Speed Record Council (www.sailspeedrecords.com) at 05:10:35 GMT on Saturday. The starting line runs through the English Channel between the Créach lighthouse on Ushant (Ouessant) Island and Lizard Point in Cornwall. The Cheyenne crew hopes to cross the line again (northbound this time) in less than nine weeks as they target the 2002 official round the world sailing record set by Frenchman Bruno Peyron and the 110-ft maxi-cat Orange of 64 days, 8 hours, 37 minutes, 24 seconds (average speed 13.98 kts). The record course length is 21,760 nautical miles, with actual sailing miles expected to exceed 26,000.
At 1710 GMT today, Cheyenne was 260 miles west of Cabo Sao Vincent. Averaging 17 kts since dawn this morning, they are working a tactical route south. The current position is about 60 nm north of the Josephine Bank with average speed from the start improving slightly to 12.92 kts, leaving the 125-ft cat still some 300+ nm behind the actual distance traveled by record-holder Orange in the same time. See www.fossettchallenge.com.
At 20:21:22 on Sunday, Olivier de Kersauson's Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran, Geronimo, crossed the same starting line. They must re-cross the line before 04:57:46 on April 13 to beat the time set by Orange.
23 hours into the French attempt, the big tri is crossing the Gulf of Gascogne at a good speed, as the wind has built out of the east to 15, 20, then 25 knots. See www.trimaran-geronimo.com (in French).
Seaweed Soup at Golden Gate
February 9 - San Francisco
You could hardly have asked for a more beautiful day than Saturday. The rains let up long enough for the Golden Gate YC's Seaweed Soup Midwinter series to resume, after last month's get-together was abandoned when the wind went away. But on Saturday, light breeze before noon turned to 10-12 knots at the lunch hour, making for excellent flat-water sailing on a waning flood. This is the second-to-last race of the five-regatta series which started in November. The last race is March 6. For results, go to the club's Web site at www.ggyc.com.
Barely enough breeze to keep spinnakers full as boats passed Alcatraz
Traffic sorts out after rounding the leeward mark.
Infinity sprints across the Bay.
Q in a drag race for the reaching mark.
Cipango powers past smaller boats at the reaching mark.
Hanging out on a Folkboat and an 'IOR Warhorse'
February 9 - St. Barth, FWI
Even though we've been sending in reports about three times a week, there's been so much going on that we're way behind. Why it was last week sometime that we sailed the two miles from St. Kitts to Nevis to continue our mini-cruise within our 25th anniversary cruise. Although it always threatens to secede from the country of St. Kitts & Nevis, Nevis still hasn't pulled away. Many of the locals think the 36 square-mile island with just 10,000 people is big enough to make it on its own. They're probably right. In fact, its biggest source of income is the wildly expensive Four Seasons Resort that opened up a number of years ago, was destroyed by a hurricane, and was almost immediately rebuilt. We didn't check the hotel out because it's not something we're interested in. But we did watch a guy tap in a putt on a green of the golf course, which couldn't have been more than 20 feet from the ocean.
Two really cool yachts, Bolero and Nirvana, were anchored off the Four Seasons. We're going to have to find out more details about both of them, but they are both yawls about 70 feet long, and one was built in '48 and the other in '50. Both are in such superb shape that they are like floating museums of the zenith of yachting from the middle of the last century. It's really great seeing such spectacular classics.
The classic yawl Bolero, restored by a fellow from Annapolis, lays at anchor near the Four Seasons and off the dormant volcano at Nevis.
Speaking of classic yawls, lots of folks around St. Barth are wondering what in the world happened to the 70-ft (or so) yawl Escapade, that was a famous pot-smuggler in this region in the '70s. They all seem to know that she went to the West Coast, but haven't heard anything of her since. We told them she had been purchased by a couple of lawyers from San Francisco, and on the way back from a race to Mexico had, if we remember correctly, plowed into an unlit Coast Guard buoy just before Pt. Conception. She was then - this was about four years ago - taken to KKMI for repairs. A bunch of work was done to her bow, but then stopped a couple of years ago. And there she sits. When we get home, we'll have to look into it.
When guests tire of the opulence and expense of the Four Seasons on Nevis, they wander next door to Sunshines, a kind of rasta beachfront place, where there's a honor system bar, you can smoke dope, and the atmosphere is decidedly un-Four Seasons-ish. Apparently it's a big hit with the hip-hoppers and other young celebs. They had lots of photos of Britney and Beyoncé and various hip-hop stars we don't know because we don't care for that noise.
While at Sunshine, our buddy Tim, the skipper of the 135-ft ketch Seyriah - on the market for just under 10 mil - introduced us to two of his guests, Ernie and Virginia Van Aspiren, formerly of 21 Windward in Belvedere. Ernie tells us that the two of them developed The Dock in Tiburon, which later became Guaymas. They also owned the well-respected Round Hill Winery in the Napa Valley. They are now retired and living in the Napa Valley. They were the guests of another fellow on Seyriah, who told us he owns homes in the Napa Valley, Fort Lauderdale, and Key West. You bump into a lot of people vacationing down here with multiple homes. About two weeks ago we took a bunch of people sailing, including a couple who live in Aspen and New York City, and having visited St. Barth, plan on buying a place there next year.
Ernie and Virginia Van Aspiren of the Napa Valley, at Sunshines on Nevis
Waiting to buy a place in St. Barth can be very expensive. Four years ago, a sailing friend of ours from New York City paid $1.1 million for a house on ritzy Pt. Milou. He's put it up for sale at $4.5 million, and there's lots of interest. Yeech. St. Barth has a lot of people who are land rich and cash poor. That includes lots of people from the '70s, which was the golden age of pot smuggling on the island. People in Le Select would be approached by guys offering $15,000 for them to go four miles over to Ile Fourche to unload pot from a freighter onto scores of little sailboats that would take the stuff to South Carolina. After a couple of nights of that, a guy could have enough money to buy a relatively big chunk of land, which is now worth $1 million or more. As for us, we're content that the Gustavia anchorage is very cheap, and that other anchorages on the island are free.
Back at Nevis we took the normal tour. One of the first stops was at a memorial for the victims of the St. Kitts to Nevis ferry that sank in 1970, killing about 150 people. The cause of the disaster was an overloaded ferry, which seems so preventable. Nonetheless, the same thing still happens in the Philippines, Indonesia, and all over Africa.
The grim list of those who died in 1970 when the overloaded St. Kitts to Nevis ferry rolled over.
The worst stop on the tour was a botanical garden created by some doctor from Philadelphia. The price of admission was $9 each, but it was a total disappointment. The place needed the work of a lot of gardeners, plus a lot of water. The owner should be embarrassed.
Little Redonda and big Montserrat as seen from the dining area at the Golden Rock Plantation.
We were more pleased with our lunch at the Golden Rock Plantation in the Gingerland district. From the lovely dining area, you could look south to Redonda and Montserrat, and to the southeast you could see Antigua. Like a lot of plantations that have become resorts, this one had made a two-story honeymoon suite out of the stone tower for the mill. Weird, but apparently popular.
If a honeymooning couple wants privacy, there's nothing like a two-story mill tower.
Later in the day we took a five-mile dinghy ride up to Oualie Beach to get Internet access. While walking the pier ashore, we came across two local guys who'd gone out 25 miles and caught about a dozen 35-lb wahoo, which sell for $10/lb, plus some mahi and a nurse shark. It seemed like a hell of a day's catch, but they said it was normal. Here's the odd thing. They cleaned the fish right on the dock, throwing all the bloody guts and stuff into the water not 25 feet from where all the little children at the resort were playing in the water. It seems like another Nevian tragedy waiting to happen.
Cleaning the catch of the day - wahoo - at Nevis. It almost seemed as if they were chumming for sharks while cleaning their catch.
We sailed back to St. Barth the next day, covering something like 52 miles in four hours and small change, flying just the main and a tiny jib. Before moderating in the last 10 miles, it blew 20 to 25 knots, with six to 10-ft sloppy seas. It was one bouncing reach, but thanks to Profligate's extra bridgedeck clearance, we didn't endure a single 'bomb'.
Once back on St. Barth, we started learning more about the island. For instance, did you know that Swedes used to have slaves, too, and that some of them were whites from France? When a woman reporter from Sweden was told this, she didn't want to hear it and got very upset. Anyway, we're not upset, we're heading to Anguilla this morning on another mini-cruise.
More Fiasco Photos
February 9 - San Francisco Bay
Paul Martson, sailing his Corsair 31, Sally Lightfoot, in the Three Bridge Fiasco on the last day of January, reports in with the following photos:
This is what the scene looks like by the time the multihullers show up. 270 shorthanded sailboats in one place (at 10:00 am? In winter?)
Tim Cahill-Obrien's F-31 Wahoo
Dan Benjamin's Aerodyne 38 Fast Forward (he won his singlehanded division). "This is the exact same spot Dan went aground in last year's race!" comments Martson. "We know, because (coincidentally) we were overlapped with him at Red Rock last year too."
Singlehanded Shrimping Society
Photos Paul Martson
For more of our coverage of this very fun, very popular event, see last week's 'Lectronic Latitudes on Monday and Wednesday. Also see event organizer Singlehanded Sailing Society's Web site for results, at www.sfbaysss.org.
A Little Yacht in Transit
February 9 - Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal
John Dukat of Richmond YC writes, "A while ago you posted a reference to the live camera at the Panama Canal. The Web cams at the locks show bulk vessels, passenger liners, containerships, vehicle carriers and tankers passing through. After checking every now and then, I've finally found a little yacht. [See it there on the left side of the photo?] Now I suppose one of your hotshot cruisers can ID the little vessel."
Baja Ha-Ha in Sail
February 9 - Cabo San Lucas, BCS
Kimball Livingston, West Coast Editor for Sail magazine, crewed on last year's Baja Ha-Ha rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. His write-up, loaded with fun photos, many taken by Latitude 38 crew, appears in the February issue. (And, no, that's not an entry from the Ha-Ha on the cover.)
February 9 - 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.
February 9 - 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.