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Photos of the Day

April 7 - Istanbul, Turkey

Today's Photo of the Day is of what will soon be the largest sailing yacht in the world, the 289-ft Maltese Falcon, being backed out of the Perini Navi building shed in Istanbul, Turkey. She's owned by Tom Perkins of Belvedere, who took the photo and reports, "We are just beginning the sixth year of this project, and now the end is in sight. We hope to sail from Istanbul by the end of June, and formally introduce her in Italy on July 28."

The size of the men standing at the entrance of the building shed give you some idea of the massive size of Falcon.

Throughout his life, Perkins has been willing to take calculated risks, first with the hands-on development of lasers, then in the computer industry, and finally with the pioneering of modern venture capitalism in Silicon Valley. He's taken a huge risk with Maltese Falcon by giving her unstayed mast with a unique sail arrangement that's never been tried before.

You've never seen a rig like this on any sailboat before - let alone one that is nearly 300 feet long.

The rotating base of one of the masts.
Photos Tom Perkins

Perkins is an experienced sailor, having owned and cruised several Perini Navis in the 150-ft range, and having frequently raced his classic 130-ft Herresoff schooner Mariette, primarily in Europe and the Caribbean. We expect he'll cruise Falcon in the Med this summer and the Caribbean this winter. He's previously told us that at some point he would very much like to bring his new yacht to San Francisco Bay.

When Maltese Falcon is launched, Northern Californians will own the largest sailing and motor yachts in the world, the latter being Larry Ellison's 450-ft Rising Sun. For those keeping score, Northern Californian Jim Clark's clipper ship Athena is a few feet longer than Maltese Falcon, but is significantly smaller in all other respects.


Abandoned Catamaran Eclipse Found in Mid-Pacific

April 7 - Pacific Ocean

English catamaran designer Richard Woods and his Oakland-based girlfriend Jetti Matzke have some good news - Eclipse, the 32-ft cat Woods designed and built, and which they had to abandon because of severe weather in the Gulf of Tehuantepec 10 weeks ago - has been found. According to Woods, the bad news comes in two parts:

"The first is obvious from the photo attached, as Eclipse is a bit of a mess! It's incredible what 10 weeks at sea can do. The second part is that when she was found by tuna fishermen, she was 1,000 miles from Acapulco, the nearest land, 1,800 miles from Ecuador, where the fishermen are based, 2,200 miles from Panama, and over 1,100 miles from where we abandoned her. In other words, Eclipse is in the middle of the Pacific!

"Currently we are in negotiations with the fishing agent over a suitable salvage fee. But we already know that it is going to be expensive to refit Eclipse, because as we feared, the tuna fishermen were not the first to find my cat. The first salvors took all the electronics, mainsail, boom and who knows what else. So it will cost thousands in materials alone to get her back into sailing condition. But at least she's still upright and appears to be floating on her marks, so she can't be leaking."

Bill Lapworth, Designer of Cal 40, Passes at Age 86

April 7 - Newport Beach

Bill Lapworth, one of the most respected and, thanks to his Cal designs from 20 to 48 feet, prolific West Coast naval architects, has passed away at age 86. He was center stage both for the explosion of fiberglass sailboat design and construction in Southern California, and the move toward light displacement boats. There will be a private burial at sea this afternoon followed by a 3 p.m. reception at the Newport Harbor YC.

Maxi Tri Geronimo Headed for San Francisco Today

April 7 - San Diego

If all goes to plan, Olivier de Kersauson's maxi tri Geronimo will leave San Diego today headed for San Francisco. So if you see a monster trimaran doing speed runs across the Bay on Sunday, you'll know what you're looking at. Kersauson and crew will shortly thereafter take a crack at the San Francisco to Japan record.


Death from the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor?

April 7 - Honolulu, HI

According to a report in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, friends of 34-year old mortgage broker Oliver Johnson say he is on the verge of death after falling into the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu and becoming sick. It's unclear whether his condition is in any way connected to the March 24 problem with a Waikiki sewer main that resulted in Honolulu officials pumping 48 million gallons of raw sewage into the Ala Wai Canal - which leads to the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. There was a subsequent spill of 1.8 million more gallons of raw sewage.

An aerial view of Ala Wai Harbor
Photo Courtesy Google

Friends say that Johnson, a runner and a surfer, is suffering from necrotizing fasciitis, a Group A streptococcal infection that destroys muscles, fat, and skin tissue. Johnson's leg had to be amputated on Monday after he went into Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome, which caused his blood pressure to plummet and all his major organs to fail. Despite this, friends say he looks as though he suddenly weighs 350 pounds. In order to hope to survive, his other leg and both arms may have to be amputated.

Johnson had apparently been drinking at a local bar last Friday, and fell into the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor while trying to make his way back to his nearby condo. While climbing out of the harbor, he apparently suffered several cuts to his legs and feet.

With a south swell about to hit Waikiki, health officials were warning surfers about the dangers of letting cuts go untreated.

The Ala Wai Yacht Harbor is already a source of enormous embarrassment for Honolulu and the State of Hawaii, for as you can see from the aerial photo, many of the slips have had to be removed because they were falling apart. Remarkably, the state has so far found itself incapable of breaking even on a massive monopoly.

Puddle Jump Boat Dismasted Near Marquesas

April 7 - Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Although details are not yet available, the buzz on Pacific radio nets is that the Seattle-based Morgan O.I. 41 Blessed Be was dismasted sometime during the past week while nearing the Marquesas. Fortunately, her crew were unharmed, and she was towed into port by the French Navy. Blessed Be is one of roughly 50 boats crossing this spring from the Mexican mainland to French Polynesia - the Pacific Puddle Jump, as we call it.

Aboard were writer/professor Jessica Stone, crewman Mike Irvine and beloved canine Kip McSnip. Stone "fell in love with the sea and boats" 15 years ago while on sabbatical in the Caribbean. In an email interview prior to her departure from Zihuatanejo she explained her inspiration for taking off on this open-ended cruise: "Are you kidding? What else is there to do?"

Look for more on Stone and other Puddle Jumpers in the April and May issues of Latitude 38 magazine, as well as a recap of this year's crossing sometime in the near future.

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