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Drawing of the Day: Maltese Falcon

May 17 - Belvedere

Over the last year or so, there's been a lot of talk about really big new sailboats, such as the 247-ft Mirabella V, and really fast sailboats, such as the new Mari-Cha IV. Meanwhile, a very experienced Northern California sailor has had a boat under construction that's going to be 42 feet longer than Mirabella, and very possibly even faster than Mari-Cha. We're referring to Maltese Falcon, which, unless all our sources are wrong, is being built for Tom Perkins of Belvedere. Perkins, successful in both science and business, is known in higher yachting circles for impeccable taste in the way he restored and sailed the 135-ft Herreshoff schooner Mariette, which was built in 1915.

As you can see from the Drawing of the Day, Maltese Falcon is an unusual boat. Her steel hull, which is conventional enough, was built in Turkey by Perini Navi for another party that dropped out. Her Dynarig sailplan, originally conceived of by the German government for commercial purposes, is much more experimental. It features three free-standing rotating masts with 15 carbon fiber yard arms from which 26,000 square feet of sail will be able to be set. To reduce sail area, the sails - which are to be built by Doyle - apparently fold up like blinds toward the mast.

According to reports in the sailing press, once the yacht is launched in 2005, she'll be sea trialed with an eye toward taking on many of the world's great clipper ship records. Her owner is said to believe the big yacht may also be able to beat some of the recent sailing records set by the maxi multihulls.

Speaking of clipper ships, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that Jim Clark of Silicon Valley should be launching an even longer boat, the 295-ft Athena, from the storied Royal Huisman yard later this year. A three-masted gaff schooner, Athena will look like a traditional clipper ship - except for the fact that she'll be bigger than any built before - and will sail much faster. Clark still owns the 156-ft Hyperion.

Fishing Boat Sinks off Ocean Beach

May 17 - San Francisco

Twenty-eight people went into the chilly waters off Ocean Beach when the 49-ft fishing boat Contender sank on Saturday. Although all were pulled out within minutes by the Coast Guard and other fishing boats in the area, one man, 85-year-old Juan Sablan of Sacramento, later died of undetermined causes.

The drama began to unfold shortly after 2 p.m. as Contender, on a salmon fishing charter to Pillar Point, was on its way back home to Emeryville when it started taking on water. At this time, the cause is being called only "a failed pump." As well as radioing a mayday, the captain kept in close VHF contact with other fishing boats in the area, which rushed to his aid and stood by. Happy Days, Flying Fish and El Dorado - along with two Coast Guard boats from Fort Point - pulled all 24 passengers and 4 crew of the Contender out of the water when, at about 2:30 p.m., the boat turned on her starboard side, upended and sank in a reported 50 feet of water about 2 miles offshore. All were wearing lifejackets.

The incident is currently under investigation by the Coast Guard.

Baja Bash Book Now Online

May 17 - Baja California

Last Friday Jim Elfers, now Harbormaster at the soon-to-be-opened luxurious Costa Baja Marina just outside of La Paz, announced that if anybody had a copy of his Baja Bash book in good enough condition to be scanned, he'd release it to the public domain. We immediately got responses from a bunch of 'Lectronic readers offering their copies for scanning. It turned out we don't need them because we got the following email from Dan Best of Healdsburg:

"Hi again, Grand Poobah! You probably don't remember me, but my wife, kids, and I sure enjoyed the '99 Ha-Ha with you on our Catalina 30 Still Clueless. We've since moved up to a Tayana 37, Tricia Jean, and can't wait to get back down to Mexico again. Anyway, per Friday's 'Lectronic Latitude, I've scanned, OCR'd, and put up a copy of Jim Elfers' The Baja Bash at http://rangerbest.home.comcast.net/BajaBash/. The inter-page navigation is a little crude as it was a quickie job, but it's there."

Thanks Dan. We'll be putting a link to it on our Web site Links page in the next couple of days. And thanks even more, of course, to Jim Elfers, for putting the book into in the public domain.

The Good Side of Modern Communications

May 17 - Acapulco, Mexico

A lot of sailors resent the intrusion of email and Satphones on cruising sailboats. We understand, for if they are improperly used, they can ruin the whole experience of being at sea.

Nonetheless, they can be invaluable in emergency situations. For example, last week while Profligate was about a day out of Acapulco, we received a message that one of the crewmembers had a family emergency and needed to call home immediately. Thanks to our Skymate email service, we were able to keyboard a message and send it to Profligate - where a little green light went on indicating new mail - in about one minute. And thanks to there being both a Iridium Satphone, which works everywhere, and a Globalstar Satphone, which had finally come into working range, the crewmember was able to call home. He learned that his aged father had suffered two heart attacks, but was still able to talk to him. The phones were then used to make plane reservations so he could rush home.

As long as they are not abused, things like Skymate and Satphone are terrific.

Catnip Cup to Be June 12 & 13

May 17 - San Francisco Bay

Glenn Fagerlin of the Wauquiez/Kronos 45 cat Perception has announced that the Fourth Annual Catnip Cup - a no-host rally for mostly cruising cats but also other multihulls - from San Francisco to Vallejo, and back the next day - will be held on June 12 & 13.

This is a fun and relaxed event, which can be joined at any time or place along the way. It provides a great opportunity to get a tour of a variety of cruising cats. About a dozen multihulls are expected, with the following five already signed up for the no-fee event:

Perception, Wauquiez/Kronos 45 cat, Glenn Fagerlin
Double Play, Gemini 105 cat, Don Parker and Terri Johnson
Mood Indigo, Gemini 105 cat, Rich Kerbavaz & family
Jitterbug, Catana 43 cat, Gary & Claudette Miskell
New Focus, Catana 43 cat, Paul Biery

Photos Latitude/Richard

If you'd like more information and/or to reserve a slip in Vallejo, contact Glenn. We hope to be there with Profligate again this year, but she's still 1,500 miles out and anything can happen.

Profligate's Regress

May 17 - Mexico

This morning's report put Profligate 36 hours southeast of Puerto Vallarta. She's currently doing 8 knots in a sea where small swells from the southwest and the northwest are competing. There's a light offshore breeze and they have the jib up. Unlike the trip to the Caribbean, where the jib was never used to aid the engine, an old beater jib is being set about 80% of the time on the return trip. "We estimate it gives us a knot to 1.5 knot boost," says co-skipper Bruce Ladd.

Still, carbon is the main source of power on this get-back-to-California-before-the-first-hurricane dash. "We burned 225 gallons from Panama to Nicaragua for an average of 1.4 gph per engine. From Nicaragua to Acapulco we burned 255 gallons for 1.39 gph per engine. The fuel we got from Nicaragua was a little 'gooey', but tolerable and easy to deal with.

"Although it's no longer quite as hot as it was in Panama, it's still plenty warm. In fact, the crew went on a Lagoon catamaran at a boat show they were having in Acapulco and noted that it had air conditioning!"

According to the Nobeltec Admiral navigation software, Profligate's most recent reported position is: 05/17/2004; 13:33:42 GMT; 19° 07' 25" N, 105° 08' 34" W.

Commander's Weather

Memories of the Tropics

May 17 - San Blas Islands, Panama

Check out these photos of Doña de Mallorca hanging with a Kuna family on Tiadup in the East Hollandes Cays of the San Blas Islands, which are on the Caribbean side of Panama. They were taken at the conclusion of Profligate's recent voyage from Antigua to Panama in early May.

The first photo is of the inside of a typical Kuna home, complete with dirt floor and the air filled with the smoke from the unventilated wood fire. As primitive as the palm huts might be, they are waterproof. It was raining buckets when this photo was taken, and there was no mud anywhere. Mom is wearing the traditional Kuna outfit, not as part of some tourist scam, but because that's what the women wear. The kids are hardly wearing anything, because it's warm in the tropics - even when it's pouring. That's good, because it's going to be pouring in Panama most of the time until just about Christmas. See the little girl in the black shirt with the blue dot? The minute she spotted de Mallorca, she ran over, grabbed her around the waist, and hung on for dear life. We think the San Blas Islands aren't big enough for her dreams and that she wanted to be adopted and taken to the city.

Photo Latitude/Richard

The second photo was taken outside the hut. Note the thatched roof. It's low to keep the rain out - and because the Kuna are short and don't need tall entrances. As you can see, the Kuna kids aren't shy.

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