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Photo of the Day

May 12 - Tiburon

Today's Photo of the Day is of the deluge of requests for entry packs for this fall's Baja Ha-Ha Eleven. Over 40 requests for packets have been received in the 10 days since the event was announced, leading Lauren Spindler, Ha-Ha Honcho, to believe there will be more than 100 entries again this year.

If you'd like a Ha-Ha entry pack, send a $15 check to Baja Ha-Ha, Inc., 21 Apollo Road, Tiburon, CA 94920. Include a self-addressed 9x12 envelope with $3 postage.

By the way, the Ha-Ha made the front cover of the May issue of Sailing magazine, with the headline, 'Baja Ha-Ha and More: Our Top 10 Sailing Events'. "We're chuffed to see that Sailing saw fit to recognize the Ha-Ha as a top event," said Spindler. "We'll do our best to make it even more enjoyable this year."

Photo Latitude/Richard

Changes for the Centennial TransPac

May 12 - Los Angeles

There are a couple of changes in store for next July's TransPac from Los Angeles to Honolulu. First, the rated length of the course is going to be extended from the actual 2,225 miles. In part, this is because most boats sail further than that in order to avoid the Pacific High. In addition, it gives the higher rating smaller boats a better chance to correct out first.

Another change that will affect less people is that any boat that doesn't rate higher than the new MaxZ86s Pyewacket and Morning Glory will be allowed to race. Among other things, this means that the DeVos family, with the 86-ft Windquest (ex-Zephyrus V) will be competing.

Morning Glory
Photo Latitude/Richard

All Right, It Really Is Pretty Cool

May 12 - San Blas Islands

The Wanderer is naturally skeptical about stuff - including new sailing equipment - until he uses it. Then he usually becomes a true believer. For example, it took seven years for him to break down and put a watermaker and hot water aboard Profligate, because he felt "you don't really need them." But guess who took four showers a day in the tropics and luxuriated in all the fresh water this winter? Yeah, that's who.

Similarly, the Wanderer has been slow to warm to electronic navigation programs. "Never needed one before, why would I need one now?" he said. That was before the folks at Nobeltec loaned us a copy of their Admiral navigation software and some of the detailed charts from the Eastern Caribbean to San Francisco. Now he says, "You don't have to have electronic navigation, but it's really fun - and it provides a margin of safety you wouldn't otherwise have."

The margin of safety comes from the fact your boat's past and present position are clearly displayed at all times, so if you're a little groggy coming on watch in an area where there are dangers, your boat's position is clearly displayed, so you know what you're up against and what the previous watch had done. We know of several boats that would have been saved had they had this ability. For example, we'd bet that this Hallberg-Rassy 48 on the reef at the San Blas Islands wouldn't have ended up there had they been using Nobeltec and the appropriate charts.

It's true that we can get this same basic position information on our GPS display, but not in color or as dramatically. There are lots of other cool Nobeltec features we'll report on later.

The Nobeltec software comes with basic charts for the entire world, and it's really fun to zip around seeing how far it is from one place to another. In addition, you can buy detailed charts, which really make life much easier and safer. For instance, check the accompanying photo for a good example of the basic chart versus the detailed chart. The shot was taken in the San Blas Islands, on the border of where the basic chart ended and the detailed chart started. Charts aren't cheap, so you have to pick and choose where you're going to need them. And you always want to have paper charts for backup.

Photos Latitude/Richard

Not that it means anything, but on the trip from Antigua to Panama, the Wanderer used the Nobeltec navigation software even more than he took freshwater showers.

Profligate's Regress. Back In Nicaragua

May 12 - Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua

"We made it from Panama to Puesta del Sol Marina in Nicaragua in 82 hours," reports Doña de Mallorca via Skymate email. "According to Nobeltec navigation software, which has greatly simplified route planning and made it a lot of fun, we averaged 8.5 knots burning 1.4 gallons per hour per engine. We had one night of 20-knot headwinds, and otherwise offshore winds in the morning and onshore winds in the afternoon. We've carried the battered old jib for the last two days, and it's really given our speed a boost. We've found favorable current close to shore.

"This is the lightning center of the universe, and we've had thunder and lightning all around us. One night it was close, and one bolt caused the MicroCommander electronic throttle and gear controls to take the port engine out of gear at speed and put it in neutral at idle! This, of course, happened at 12:30 am in the middle of a very robust squall. But it's nothing to the lightning problems others have had.

"We've caught three fish and have been enjoying sushi.

Puesta del Sol Marina
Photo John Pettitt

"Robert Membrano's marina has seen much progress since I came through in November, as there are new docks, a fuel dock with 4,000 gallon capacity, and a well-marked channel with 25 feet of water coming in. The best way to reach the marina is to contact Esperanza Peralta, the general manager, at gm office 505 228-7974 / marina office 505 276-0585 / cell 505 883-6913.

"We're underway again, making 9.5 knots off the coast of El Salvador, with 800 miles to go Acapulco. We're praying that we arrive at cocktail hour - after the fuel docks close! The first couple days out of Panama there was heavy shipping traffic, but now the horizon is empty. We're about 40 miles from having to make a decision about crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec. Commander's Weather tells us there's a low moving across the middle of the U.S., which means there won't be a Tehuantepecker, so we'll be going straight across rather than keeping 'one foot on the beach'.

"I've got a terrific crew: Bruce Ladd, co-captain and political activist; John Pettitt, a photographer; Wayne Bingham, a retired heli-ski operator; and Ian MacLean, a writer. Everyone is great and treats each other with respect, and we're having a great time! I love them almost as much as I do the Skymate email, the Nobeltec electronic navigation, and Commander's Weather - all of which make this a very different experience."

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