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Photos of the Day

December 27 - Berkeley Circle

Gerry Brown, skipper of the Farr 38 Mintaka 4, recently sent us a bunch of shots from the December 11 Berkeley YC Midwinter, which, as you can see, was basically warm, sunny and windless. They came in too late for inclusion in the January issue, which hits the docks Thursday, December 30, but we thought we'd run them here to brighten up this otherwise cold and rainy day.

Most Bay Area midwinter regattas are well underway, and some, such as the GGYC and BYC series, are halfway over now. However, two of the most fun and social ones haven't started yet - Oakland YC's casual Sunday Brunch Series (1/2, 1/16, 1/30, 2/6, 2/20) and the always-entertaining Corinthian YC Midwinters (1/15-16 and 2/19-20). Another 'clean slate' is the South Beach YC Midwinters, which has been washed out twice and thus hasn't really started (1/8, 2/12, 3/12).

Shake off those post-holiday blues with some midwinter sailing!

Photos Courtesy Mintaka

Massive Earthquake and Tsunamis Devastate Southeast Asia

December 27 - Southeast Asia

A 9.0 earthquake rocked the coast of Indonesia on Sunday, followed by devastating tsunamis, which swept across the Indian Ocean as far west as Africa.

San Francisco radio station KCBS reports: "The search continues for survivors of the walls of water that obliterated seaside towns in nine countries. Officials have confirmed nearly 24,000 deaths, but the number keeps rising.

"The waves sped away from the epicenter at over 500 mph before crashing into the region's shorelines without warning, sweeping people and villages out to sea. Millions have been displaced and thousands are missing.

The 25-member European Union is promising $4 million in aid. The U.S. has offered to send troops from nearby Okinawa. Japanese, Chinese and Russian experts are on the way to the region to help. Relief workers in the Bay Area have already swung into action."

If you're worried about a loved one traveling in southern Asia, you can call a State Department hotline, or visit their Web site at http://travel.state.gov. In the U.S. the hotline phone number is (888) 407-4747. From overseas, call (317) 472-2328.

The items that follow are from cruisers who are in the area.

Death and Destruction in Phuket

December 27 - Phuket, Thailand

Reporting from Ao Nai Harn are Bill and Sam Fleetwood aboard Blue Banana out of Monterey:

"The giant earthquake which occurred off the west coast of Sumatra yesterday morning created a tsunami ('tidal' wave) which caused much damage, death, and destruction here in Phuket and throughout Southeast Asia. We heard the earthquake was the strongest, worldwide, in 40 years.

"We are anchored in a bay called Nai Harn. This is a deep bay and we had a lot of anchor chain out, which was fortunate. We had absolutely no prior warning of the probability of a tsunami. The first we knew of the event was when we looked out our port and saw that we and other boats were spinning crazily. We believe this was caused by the rapid outflow of water from the bay prior to the big wave. Then we heard screaming, so we climbed into the cockpit just in time to watch a giant wave devour the beach and cover the road behind the beach. Hundreds of people had been sunning and playing on the beach. They and a multitude of beach chairs, umbrellas, food and massage stands, restaurants, and clothing shops disappeared in an instant, as did cars. We hope all the bathers survived. We did hear that on a neighboring island over 200 people died in a similar environment. The restaurant where 200-300 of us had Christmas Eve dinner is completely gone as is the pizza place where we had eaten the previous night. Nothing remains ashore but concrete slabs.

"In the main bay, Ao Chalong, where we first anchored after arriving at Phuket, many boats were damaged, maybe some destroyed. There must have been at least 80 boats anchored here in our bay when the tsunami arrived, and none were lost. Almost all of us got our anchors up as quickly as possible and went to sea to avoid the possibility of other tsunamis from aftershocks. About five hours later we were back, after retrieving a deck load of plastic beach chairs, beach mats, boogie boards, etc., which had washed out and are littering the sea for miles. One boat thought they saw a body but it was just a mannequin.

"Our friends Phil and Janie on our sistership Tsolo are in a marina at the north end of Phuket. We heard the water there surged so high the docks almost floated off the tops of their pilings. We talked to Phil and Janie on our HF radio last night and they are okay.

"Of the three marinas at Langkawi, two of them, Telaga and Rebak, were totally destroyed with many boats severely damaged or sunk. The third marina, which is at the yacht club must have survived - a case of no news hopefully being good news.

"What a sad time for all here. Our boat radio frequencies are alive with rumors mixed with fact and no means to differentiate. The good news, which we know for certain, is that we and Blue Banana are just fine and were barely disturbed by all this."

No Drama in Harbor at Kuah

December 27 - Langkawi, Malaysia

Tom Scott of Nepenthe reports: "No worries. No drama. Just a quick note to let you know everything is fine after yesterday's earthquake and tidal wave. Here in Kuah, Langkawi, Malaysia the effects of the quake were minimal. I was on deck futzing around when the thing apparently arrived at Langkawi, but noticed absolutely nothing! Later on there was a very strong tidal stream: It is not often that Nepenthe can make 4-5 knots while at anchor. The harbor at Kuah is pretty much enclosed - maybe that had something to do with it. I understand that other parts of the island were not so lucky. The newspaper was delayed so I have only rumor at this point. Folks are saying that the marinas at Rebak and Pantai Kok both sustained significant damage."

Docks at Rebak Marina Gone

December 27 - Langkawi, Malaysia

Long-time cruiser and Latitude correspondent Leslie King III forwarded this email from Mazrizal B. Othman, the assistant marina manager of the Marina Department at Rebak Marina in Langkawi:

"I sad to inform that there was TSUNAMI had hit Rebak Marina badly. All the dock is gone and resume operation is in progress. Boats will be lifted up onto hardstand as soon as possible. We will give you further news in the next few hours. Catamaran Bamboula has sunk and will try to re-float her."

Sydney-Hobart Race

December 27 - Sydney, Australia

The post-Christmas Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race got underway yesterday. The line honors leader, Konica Minolta, is now sailing along the northeast corner of Tasmania. Most of the yachts are clustered along the Bass Strait, which separates the island of Tasmania from mainland Australia to the north. Hobart is in southeast Tasmania.

Thirty boats have retired, the most recent being last year's champion, the 98-ft Skandia, owned and skippered by Australian Grant Worthington. Skandia's canting keel suffered damage in the Tasman Sea, making it inoperable. The keel is jammed over to port. Skandia issued a Pan Pan distress call, because, although no one onboard is injured, the yacht will require assistance to make it to port. Some smaller yachts which have retired have reported injuries. Rain squalls and 30-40 knot winds on the nose are buffeting the fleet, with seas rising.

To follow the rest of this rugged race, see http://rolexsydneyhobart.com.

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