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Photos of the Day

December 17 - Oahu, HI

A lot of you have probably been wondering how the folks in Hawaii celebrate Thanksgiving. According to Tim Dick of the Honolulu-based Beneteau 42s7 Eau De Vie, they go sailing. In fact, that's Tim at the helm of Eau, with Ted Denny's J/42 Pax in the middle ground, and the Ko'olau peaks of Kailua, Oahu, in the background. Dick reports that confusion about the course resulted in Ted doing a U-turn and heading to Molokai, while Eau De Vie continued on down to Waikiki.

'Ms. Melissa', looking lovely while at the helm at the Kaneohe Bay starting line.

Eau De Vie sailing downwind off Diamond Head at nine knots prior to the boat's barbecue off Duke's Pier in Waikiki. Aloha and mahalo.
Photos Courtesy
Eau De Vie

Singlehanders in the Southern Ocean

December 17 - Southern Ocean

Depending where the Vendée Globe singlehanded around the world race competitors are in the Southern Ocean, they are doing fine or getting clobbered. It was so bad - 60-kt winds and 25-ft walls of whitewater - just two days ago for Aussie Nick Maloney aboard Skandia (Ellen MacArthur's old Kingfisher) that he twice called his family to tell them goodbye. Gulp. Today it will apparently be very bad for Bruce Schwab, the Northern Californian aboard the Wylie-designed Ocean Planet. Think good thoughts for him.

Bruce Schwab on Ocean Planet
Photo Bruce Schwab

In other Vendée news, the well-liked Roland Jourdain, who had been running third aboard with Sill Veolia, has had to drop out because of damage to his keel apparently caused by flutter. It had been a problem all summer. Nonetheless, it's a bitter disappointment for Jourdain, who had spent four years preparing for the event and who was doing so well. The leader continues to be Vincent Riou on PRB, with Jean Le Cam just 40 miles back on Bonduelle. For comparison, Schwab is about 2,700 miles back - and he's ahead of some of the other boats.

Ellen MacArthur Is Down There, Too

December 17 - Cape of Good Hope

Ellen MacArthur
Photo DPPI/Vincent Curuchet

With at least some of her equipment problems solved aboard her 75-ft tri B&Q, Ellen MacArthur continues to be besting the record pace set by Francis Joyon and IDEC by some 17 hours. She's now officially in the Southern Ocean, just south of Cape Town, and will be in that cold and gloomy part of the world for nearly a month. About the only thing that can warm her is the fact she's averaged 14.5 knots since the start nearly 7,000 miles ago!

Dawn Wilson Can't Stop Smiling

December 17 - Ensenada, Mexico

We spoke with Dawn Wilson on Wednesday night. Having only been out from behind bars after nearly 20 months in Mexican prisons and U.S. jails, she was understandably very happy - but a bit overwhelmed. You can imagine what a shock it was for her when Terry Kennedy took her to Wal-Mart and West Marine. She couldn't believe all the stuff. "I just can't stop smiling!" she says about her freedom.

As for future plans, Wilson and Kennedy hope to return to living on boats in Baja after her U.S. probation is over in six months. But Wilson also says she intends to return to the Mexican prison in Ensenada. "I made a lot of friends there, and they need a lot of help."

As for what really happened - where in Ensenada Wilson was arrested, under what circumstances, what drugs she had in her possession, what state of mind she was in, and who used her debit cards to the tune of over $4,000 - remains hotly disputed. One of Wilson's lawyers claims the 49-year-old was arrested on the street because the police liked the way she looked and for a shakedown. But she also later admitted that she'd bought prescription medicines for her seizures and other medicine for her ex-husband.

But Mexican court documents tell a very different story. They say Wilson was not arrested on the street, but for being engaged in an illegal activity, and at the time was in possession of over 400 pills, including "psicotropicos denominados diazepam, alpraxolam, clorenzorex y los estupefacientes dextropropoxifeno y fentermina" - which, of course, are the Mexican names. 'Psicotropicos' refers to a category of medications such as Valium and Darvon, which are highly regulated in Mexico because they are popular with drug addicts. None of the drugs which Wilson was listed as having could have been used to treat seizures or her ex-husband's diabetes. In fact, pharmacists in Mexico say those medicines are not regulated in Mexico anyway, and so she couldn't have been arrested for having them in her possession.

We've spoken to a number of reporters from big media outlets who have followed Wilson's case. Off the record, all of them agree that Wilson didn't deserve a five-year prison sentence, even if guilty as charged. In the U.S., she would have received less than a six-month sentence. But when it comes to the details of Wilson's story, there was mild to very high skepticism.

As for us, we're just glad that Dawn's out of jail, and wish her the best for the future.

Of interest to everyone who goes to Mexico, David Stewart, consul general in Tijuana, told Anna Cearly of the San Diego Union-Tribune in a December 15 story about the limitations of their power. Stewart explained that many Americans wrongly assume the consul can provide a get-out-of-jail-free card, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Stewart told Cearly, that "the consulate can't get anyone released, but its officers can visit the prisoner, provide a list of attorneys, protest to the authorities any alleged mistreatment, communicate with family and friends and provide dietary supplements."

Kennedy and Wilson have criticized the lack of support by the U.S. Consulate. But Stewart told Cearly that consular officials visited Wilson seven times during her stay in Mexican prisons.

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