Photos of the Day: Carnival
February 23 - Trinidad
Today's Photos of the Day come from Carnival, which is celebrated all over the Caribbean, from Trinidad, where it almost dominates life on the island.
Photo Bert Allette
What's Carnival all about? Here's what the folks in Trinidad, who consider themselves to be the ultimate experts, have to say about it: "Some trace Carnival to the rites of Bacchus, in ancient Greece. Some to its position in the Christian calendar (for the word 'Carnival' means farewell to the flesh' and marks the approach of Lent and its sober disciplines). Others emphasize the importance of African rhythms in the music so essential to the festivities. It is further theorized that, early in the last century, the working population took to mimicking and 'mamaguying' the colonial authorities at Carnival time, by means of extravagant costumes and an incomprehensible patois. Around the occasion, a colorful cast of Carnival characters grew up devils called Jab Jabs (from the French 'diable'), human donkeys called burrokeets, bandits called Midnight Robbers, clowns called Pierrot Grenade, giants on stilts called Moko Jumbies. Today, while their origins may be hazy, these figures can still be seen, in all their poetry, during the Carnival season.
"Most countries settle in for a calm January and February before Carnival, but not Trinidad and Tobago, where the Carnival arts are public property, analyzed and judged even as they are being created. Rehearsals are attended as avidly as finals. So as you stride out into the pulsating Port of Spain evening, what's on offer? Panyards, for one. The larger steelbands invite onlookers to attend their rehearsals in their panyards throughout the season. It's serious business for the players, but there are bars and delicious snacks for visitors. You can sit and chat, sip a beer, or just drink in the sound of up to 130 pannists perfecting their crafts.
Photo Bert Allette
"Then there are Calypso Tents. Trinidad & Tobago is the home of Calypso. Visitors are welcome at the several Calypso Tents that stage shows nightly throughout the season. Here, the true practitioners of the art can be heard. Up to 20 singers may perform in an evening, in an atmosphere of friendly banter and expert opinion. Nowhere will you get closer to the soul of the Trini than here.
"Carnival is not a mere spectator event. The full joy of Trinidad Carnival is to play in a band yourself. Parading Bands all have headquarters, known as Mas Camps. (Mas as in 'Masquerade'.) Which band you play with is up to you. Most locals have their favorite, but a visit to the different Mas Camps will show you what costumes are available and broaden your understanding of Mas! From January onwards, the parties never stop. Trini parties (or fetes) are high intensity affairs, thanks in part to the DJs, but in particular to the astonishing standard of the live bands. While each has its own songs, each also plays the popular songs of the year. Tickets for fetes are easily acquired. Five minutes listening to a local radio station will tell you where and when!
"What stokes the fires of Carnival? The music. Calypso music the very sound of Caribbean joie-de-vivre, born here in Trinidad and Tobago. Calypso, as an art form, seems to have sprung from the 'chantuelles', whose music precedes the Carnival bands of the last century, with songs parodying the issues and gossip of the day. The healthy practice of airing the ills and thrills of society never faded, and today the calypsonian still has an artistic permit to comment, poke fun and satirize. Throughout the season, the top singers are to be found nightly in the Calypso 'tents'. These are no longer actually canvas, but date back to a time when Calypso was performed in humbler circumstances. Calypsonians adopt intriguing sobriquets, so don't be alarmed to find Stalin performing alongside Baron or the Mighty Shadow. The season's songs are judged, come Carnival weekend, at Dimanche Gras, when nine of the best Calypsonians meet the defending champion, to decide who is that year's Calypso Monarch. Competition is intense.
"Since the seventies, Calypso has produced an energetic offspring Soca. Soca uses the same basic beat, but speeds it up and adds a laid back bass-line and a touch of Indian drumming. It is Soca, nowadays, that keeps Trinis hard at work at their national hobby partying. Fetes are Soca exhibitions, climaxed, of course, on Carnival Tuesday.
"The Frenzy. Each year, at 2 a.m., Carnival Monday morning, the greatest show on earth is born. In the early hours, the first revelers hit the streets jumping, dancing, shouting abetted, it must be admitted, by the fine local rum, but fueled more by the exhilaration of the occasion. This early 'Mas', known as 'J'Ouvert', (a contraction of the French 'jour ouvert', or 'day open'), is for the true die-hard player. It's a ritual enacted to the accompaniment of mud, oil, pitchforks and pointed tails! An elemental celebration of the darker side of human life. Hieronymous Bosch would have felt at home playing J' Ouvert.
"Come daytime, 'Pretty Mas', with its massed costume band takes over. In the riot of color, sounds and movement that ensues can be found the heart of Carnival the world's largest, most peaceful, most euphoric street party. Where is the fun, (you may ask), in traipsing around, under a blazing hot sun, behind a blaring music truck, from dawn to dusk? Listen, Carnival is an occasion for release. It is a time when any and everyone is permitted to come out of themselves. Carnival gives you a license to 'play yourself', to forget what people might think, to reveal in the noise and excitement of music, people, life. It is better therapy than therapy.
"The Kings and Queens. At the peak of this extraordinary creativity are the kings and queens. Each Carnival band whether 50 or 3,000 thousand strong has a symbolic leader. Taking their inspiration from the band's theme, band designers create king and queen costumes out of wire, wheels, bamboo, feathers, anything that comes to hand. The result are images of such beauty, it is hardly possible to believe that an ordinary man or woman stands at their heart. Later in the year, Kings and Queens from Carnivals in many cities will come to Trinidad to compete in the Carnival King and Queen of the World Competition. This is in acknowledgement of the birthplace and inspiration of the art. Trinidad, Mother of Carnival."
Cheyenne's Jules Verne Attempt May Be Over
February 23 - Atlantic Ocean
Steve Fossett's attempt on the Jules Verne Around the World Record - she's currently 400 miles ahead of the record pace - was threatened during the night. While attempting to jibe in the middle of the night, it was discovered that the headstay, critical for holding up the 143-ft mast in all but moderate downwind conditions was "either broken or somehow disconnected." They couldn't tell, as the headstay is covered by the furled jib, and thought they might have to put in at Cape Town.
Photo DPPI/Christophe Baudry
Today's good news: "After a day of extraordinary tension and teamwork, skipper Steve Fossett reported late this afternoon that the giant catamaran's wayward forestay, displaced during the previous night, had finally been reconnected - and Cheyenne and her team of 13 were once again sailing at speed and on course in their attempt at Bruno Peyron's two-year old Round the World Sailing Record of 64 days 8 hours 37 minutes. The bars of Cape Town can now stand down."
At 1710 GMT this evening Cheyenne and crew were traveling E/SE at 21.8 kts in a 23-kt westerly breeze. Before this morning's drama, Cheyenne was over 500 nautical miles ahead of the 2002 record track of Orange. Even during the 16+ hour repair process, excellent downwind progress along the course was made, the big cat covering 196 nm over the past 12 hours, and 446 miles over the past 24 hours - at an average speed of 18.6 kts.
Geronimo and Orange Both Back in Port
February 23 - France
The maxi tri Geronimo, and the maxi cat Orange, Cheyenne's big competitors for the Jules Verne, are both back in port in France for repairs. Geronimo tore two of her three medium gennikers in the very early going, which would have eliminated any chance she had at the record. As for Orange, she lost one of her crash boxes after a brilliant slingshot start. Skipper Bruno Peyron says that had they been well into the record attempt, they would not have turned back, but since they were so close to home, it made sense to return. Both mega maxis are expected to be ready to restart within a week.
Crash box missing from Orange's starboard bow
Photo Courtesy Multiplast
PFDs for Pre-Infants? What Do Others Do?
February 23 - San Francisco Bay
"I'm expecting a new granddaughter in April, and plan to take her on her first sail on the Fourth of July weekend," writes Jim Sarosi, Jr. "I'm sure I'm not the first grandpa to do this, but what about a PFD for her? The 'infant' one her older sister has been using is way too big for a newborn of eight or nine pounds. It seems that one this much too big would be more dangerous then none, at least with a parent right at hand. What are others doing in this situation? Can somebody please help, as I don't want to wait for her to grow into the smallest PFD that I can find, but I don't want to risk her life either."
We don't know the 'official' answer to that question, but we're uncertain how much value a PFD would be to a three-month-old baby who somehow found herself in the Bay. Newborns are entirely dependent on adults, and would be even more so on a boat. As such, there needs to be at least two or more people aboard who know how to sail the boat, in case one person falls over and has to be rescued.
Found New Boat, Must Sell This One!
February 23 - San Francisco Bay Area
Columbia 28, with standing headroom, dodger, sleeps 6, Atomic 4 engine runs great, four sails plus spinnaker, VHF, depth alarm, fish finder. Also, new batteries, waterpump, stove, and topside paint. Newly done teak topsides, sole, and interior. Very clean. Sacrifice at $3,333 OBO before March 20. I've got my eyes on a new boat. Leave message for Burnett at (510) 301-4500.
February 23 - 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 23 - 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.