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The Irving Johnson Is Free!

March 25 - Oxnard

Irving Johnson caught in the surf earlier in the week
Photo Debby Dye

"With a large crowd that had been watching anxiously for three days cheering on the tugs, the Los Angeles tall ship Irving Johnson, a 90-ft brigantine, was pulled off the beach just outside the Channel Islands Harbor at 8:30 last night," writes Debby Dye of Lovely Reta. "The scene was almost surreal, as the beautiful ship slowly started moving through the water. There were several anxious moments when she would stop, causing the crowd to collectively stop breathing. But the tugs persisted and she finally floated free for good. What a beautiful sight!"

The Irving Johnson is reportedly floating on her lines. The plans were to take her into Channel Islands Harbor for a preliminary check, then move her to Ventura Shipyard for repairs when space opened up. Initially it was reported the brig's engine quit upon entering the harbor. Now it's being reported that she struck an uncharted sandbar that was created by recent storms. But a detailed official report has not been released.

Photo Louise Ann Noeth

Conception Driven Up on Arguello

March 25 - Santa Barbara

As if there wasn't enough drama with boats on the rocks in Southern California this week, check out this news item from Truth Aquatics, which has been doing dive trips to the Channel Islands out of Santa Barbara for decades:

"On Wednesday, March 23, at approximately 1 p.m., our dive boat Conception was stolen from her slip at Sea Landing in the Santa Barbara Harbor. The perpetrator(s) broke into the wheelhouse and managed to start the engines. As the Conception was being piloted through the harbor, she struck three other vessels, sinking one of them. Hours later, the Conception was found grounded on a secluded beach near Pt. Arguello, about 50 miles north of her homeport. Salvage efforts are being coordinated, and Truth Aquatics remains optimistic about the vessel's chances of being fully restored.

Photo Courtesy www.truthaquatics.com

Truth Aquatics? What kind of name is that?

Thailand Coming Back Strong in Wake of Tsunami

March 25 - Phuket, Thailand


Latitude 38 contributors Tom Morkin and Liz Tosoni were in Malaysia during December's devastating tsunami. Having just visited Phi Phi Don Island, east of Phuket, Thailand, they filed this report:

"We are at anchor off Phuket again, having just returned from Phi Phi Don. As many of your readers know, this hour-glass shaped island is renowned for its spectacular beauty, towering limestone cliffs, beautiful white sand beaches, caves  and a colorful, vibrant reef with lots of giant clams, and zillions of dazzling fish.

Phi Phi Don Island
Photo Courtesy Tom Morkin & Liz Tosoni

"It is known as a world-famous dive location, but it was also one of the islands that was so badly affected by the tsunami. Almost everything was wiped out and for weeks after the disastrous incident boatloads of dead bodies and countless tons of debris were offloaded. We saw it toward the end of January, and were shocked by the utter devastation. It was like a war zone.

"Now, almost three months after the tsunami, the progress is remarkable and readily evident. Many restaurants and small businesses are up and running, all clean and freshly painted. A lot of the rubble has been cleared away, construction is ongoing, and people are walking around with those famous Thai smiles on their faces. Hundreds of young backpacker types are everywhere, helping with the work: offloading materials, clearing the land, painting, you name it. We snorkeled the reef, while at the same time filling up the dinghy with all sorts of junk left from the tsunami - scrap metal, netting, bedding, clothing, plastic stuff, all manner of stuff. Then we took it ashore and added it to the other piles of stuff that will eventually be sifted through and dumped."


March 25

July's TransPac will be the last competitive race for Roy Disney and the R/P MaxZ86 Pyewacket. The boat is for sale, and he'll reportedly spend more time cruising. Incidentally, Roy Disney had nothing to do with Disney sponsoring the Volvo 70 Black Pearl in the upcoming Volvo Around the World Race. When it comes to a qualified American to skipper Black Pearl, the list is very, very short, and Marin's Paul Cayard would have to be at the top.

Russell Coutts and Alinghi have come to terms with their separation. The terms weren't disclosed, but you can assume that Coutts won't be sailing in the next America's Cup - which will feature a Franco-Chinese entry - but that he will have a fat bank account.

For those who care, Profligate made it back to San Diego on Thursday morning, 6.5 days out of Puerto Vallarta. North of Cedros the wind picked up to 25 to 30 knots for about a day. Prior to that, it had been a pretty easy trip.

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