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Photo of the Day

February 16 - El Salvador

Photo Courtesy Archlyd

Today's Photo of the Day, by the Mech family of the Salt Springs Island (Canada) based Archlyd, shows how different life is when you're cruising in the developing world as opposed to living in Canada or the U.S. Suppose you're a woman cruising with your guy, you're in El Salvador, and you want to buy a few flimsy things to spice up your sex life. If you were back home, you could drop in at a Victoria's Secret or order the goodies online. Not in El Salvador. What they do have, however, is a woman - whose name could be Victoria - who is a one-person version of a Victoria's Secret store. If you look carefully, you can see the bra department is on her arm and the panty department - how efficient! - is atop her head. As for the dressing room, well, we're not sure there is one.

Mystery Photo Explained

February 16 - San Francisco Bay

Do people read 'Lectronic? All we can tell you is that in the first two hours after Monday's posting was up, 62 people had actually gone to the trouble of trying to answer our mystery photo by Erik Simonson. Here is a sample of the answers:

J.E.B. Pickett - "It's a bright orange foot broken off from a giant Ronald McDonald statue."

Terry Glenn - "It is the front end of the nuclear sub San Francisco that hit Harding Rock on Friday. This is the section that holds the reactor, which explains the warm color."

Gary Scheier says, "It looks like the lifeboat for the captain of a cruise ship."

Pam Mitchell actually knew what she was talking about: "It's an emergency life raft from a big ship. When our Lake Tahoe Boy Scout Troop 37 was visiting the Bay Area, we were invited aboard a cargo carrier ship that was getting ready to load supplies for our soldiers in Iraq. One of the highlights was seeing a lifeboat just like the one in the photo. The crew claimed they could put up to 50 - that's right! - people on board for an emergency evacuation! And there were even 50 harnesses on board that little thing! The boys were impressed by the fact that once everyone was tucked inside, they released the lines and it fell from that great height down into the water. I would imagine that everyone would get quite sick in that small tight space, bobbing on rough seas!"

Here's the subject of the 'Mystery Photo' in place on a ship.
Photo Copyright 2005 Erik S. Simonson

James Bennett knows what he's talking about also: "The photo is of a fire-proof lifeboat, probably off a chemical or oil tanker. These lifeboats are typically designed to launch off an elevated slipway mounted on the aft end of the tanker. This feature ensures that the lifeboat is ejected clear of the tanker and any fire hazards. The lifeboat will be equipped with water spray down systems to allow it to travel through flames on the water. The engine has an air bottle so that no outside air is injected until the lifeboat is well clear of danger."

Tim Dick had more: "It's a free fall SOLAS-approved lifeboat. These are mounted on what looks like avery short 'ski jump' slope usually on the stern of a ship. The crew piles in via the stern door, straps into race-car type seats via six-point safety harnesses, and the lifeboat plunges over the stern into the water. According to SOLAS regulations, these boats are supposed to be tested every three months. Obviously the old dictum that 'one should always step up into a liferaft' doesn't apply to ships.

Rick Leach of Monterey Bay Aquarium even knows who makes them. "They are manufactured by Guangxi Materials General Group Corporation of China."

Ben Jones says you can get one for your boat: "Oddly enough, these are now available in 4-man and 6-man size, sans motor for smaller boats as well."

Mik Beatie warns they don't always work: "When the ship sinks, you just jump in, hang on tight, pull the ripcord, and off you go. At least you hope. I know that a few years ago, a crew jumped in, pulled the ripcord, and nothing happened! They went down with the ship."

A pod at the moment of impact with the water

Problems with Guns on Boats

February 16 - Bali, Indonesia

Aussie millionaire yachtie Christopher Packer entered Bali, Indonesia, waters last November with five guns and 2,500 rounds of ammo. He didn't declare them and was charged with trying to smuggle guns and ammo onto the resort island. Packer's friends from Perth says he's been carrying the guns on his boat ever since his good friend Kiwi Peter Blake was killed on his boat at the mouth of the Amazon River. Prosecutors are trying to stick Packer with a six-month jail term.

Can It Get Much Worse at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor?

February 16 - Honolulu, HI

What should be the showpiece marina of the Pacific Ocean, the spectacularly-sited Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, continues to go downhill. Tom Dick in Honolulu reports that the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources held a community meeting at which they informed those present that even more docks will have to be condemned over the next year or so. They say there is no money to replace the piers.

Regrettably, this is the kind of condition the State of Hawaii allowed the Ala Wai to fall into over the years.
Photo Courtesy Richard

Of course there's no money, as the state's berthing fees have been ridiculously low for 30 years. With the state of Hawaii being so incompetent that they can't even manage to break even when they have a complete monopoly on marina facilities, it's time to privatize.

Some Good News from Puerto Escondido

February 16 - Puerto Escondido, Baja California

Of course, unchecked privatization isn't the answer either. Ever since Singular - no not the phone company - took over the Puerto Escondido anchorage on the Sea of Cortez side of Baja, they've managed to use ridiculously high prices and no facilities to drive away almost every cruiser from the historically very popular anchorage.

Apparently, however, they are now responding, albeit slightly, to market forces, as they are now giving a 30% discount on the monthly mooring/anchoring rate for the main harbor. We're told that it used to be $192 a month for a 40-ft boat, but will now drop down to $168 a month. Parking is about another $20 a month.
By California standards, that's not a tremendous amount of money. But when compared with the rest of Baja - where you can anchor for free - it's a very lot of money, especially for a place that had been free for all of history until late last year.

Speaking of Loreto Fest, it will be held again at Puerto Escondido, the dates being April 28, 29, 30, and May 1, 2005. Singular was offering a special price of $55 for seven days no matter the boat size, but for those who would be staying a month, that seems higher than the new discounted rate. It will be interesting to see what attendance is like at Loreto Fest. Will it flourish as it has in the past years, or will Singular have killed off the biggest charitable organization in the area?

Whale Warning Systems Needed

February 16 - Table Bay, South Africa

Two days ago the South African America's Cup entry Team Shosholoza struck a whale at speed. The impact was so great both wheels were broken off by the force of crewmen plowing into them. Both the skipper and the navigator were injured, and another crewmember was thrown overboard and spent 15 minutes in the water before he was picked up. It will take a couple of days to repair the boat itself.

The team members expressed concern for the whale as well as their teammates. This is a good thing. An even better thing - given the wonderful comeback of whales - is if somebody would develop a sonic system to alert whales to the approach of boats.

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