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August 6 - Santa Barbara to King Harbor

In a couple of hours, we'll be taking off on the 81-mile race from Santa Barbara to King Harbor. As you can see from the photo of some of the gals on our crew, we've been assigned the letter 'O' - or maybe it's a zero, God forbid - to identify ourselves to the race committee. Actually, it's all our fault for not having racing numbers on our sails.

Anyway, we're told that this year's fleet is 140, a big jump from last year's group of 120. We think that's great, because this is a terrific race - as long as the wind holds, which it has the last two years. We may change our mind if we're slopping around off Pt. Dume 18 hours from now.

While in Santa Barbara, we've been seeing lots of old friends, including Mike Pyzel, who we first met when he did the Singlehanded TransPac back in 1998 with his Cal 28 - a boat he still owns and sails. We were also on hand for the Wednesday night race, which gets a great turnout. The sailing is pretty aggressive.

Alchemy at the Wednesday night race

Photos Latitude/Richard

In fact, Dick Compton's Andrews 77 Alchemy was sporting a big blotch of white near the bow where they apparently had some kind of recent collision with a J/24. Much worse, we hear, is the skipper of the boat who was hit in the head with a boom during a jibe a week or two ago, and who hasn't yet come out of a coma. Our prayers are with this sailor. We'll try to get more on the story. In any event, we hope the best of health and the best of sailing to everyone in today's event.

No, Not Larry Ellison

August 6 - The Sailing World

In the August issue of Latitude, we have a feature on a new 292-ft foot 'clipper ship' being completed in Europe for a Northern California owner. As we noted in the article, the builder would only let us use the photos if we didn't identify the owner. Some readers have written in to guess that the "biggest clipper ship ever" was built for Larry Ellison. Well, that guess is absolutely incorrect. But stop guessing, because we're not going to say who it is - having already done so more than a year ago.

The Problem with Government

August 6 - Midway Atolls

A couple of weeks ago, a cruising boat on her way from Fiji to the Pacific Northwest stopped at Midway Atolls to resupply and break up the month-long trip. They were charged $1 a foot for mooring and $2.25 a gallon for fuel. The mooring fee seems slightly high, but the charge for gas is quite reasonable.

But here's where it gets just plain stupid: The boat couldn't take on fuel unless a fuel containment boom was deployed - this according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rules - for which there was a $500 charge. Not $5 or $50, but an absurd $500. We hate to say it, but there is a pattern of what we consider to be abuse when environmental interests get power in places like Palmyra Atoll, Midway Atolls, and the Channel Islands of California. It almost makes one wish for a resurrection of the Prince of the Red Sea, who required a bribe to get anything done in that part of the world, but was at least reasonable about it.

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