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Phoenix-Based Starlet Abandoned, then Lost

December 8 - Western Caribbean

We're sorry to have to report that Rick and Marlene Bartlett, and two inexperienced pick-up crew, had to abandon the Bartletts' Catalina 470 Starlet in the Western Caribbean on November 20 during an attempted passage from Isla Providencia to Guanaja. The four had gotten to within 70 miles of Guanaja when the weather became so severe that Rick decided they'd be better off trying to make the much longer distance back to Providencia.

But once on their way back to Providencia, the weather got even worse, they found themselves close to being trapped in shoal and uncharted waters, many of the boat's systems - including running and compass lights - were down, and only Rick was capable of driving the boat.

Given the circumstances, Rick made the decision that it was more important to save the lives of the crew than attempt to save the boat - and called for help. The crew were somewhat surprised when not too many hours later the ship Stolt Taurus was willing to brave the shallow waters and come to their rescue.

Before she was left, Starlet was anchored in 90 feet of water. It's unclear what happened after that, but 10 days later she was found 40 miles to the south in the shallows off Puerto Lempira, Honduras, half sunk and stripped of everything of value.

A note on the weather. When Stolt Taurus arrived at Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, the conditions were still so bad that the ship couldn't be docked, nor could anybody leave the ship for several days.

Rick says that "without a doubt mistakes were made" - although it seems to us he's being too harsh on himself. Nonetheless, he'll be sharing the complete story with Latitude 38 readers in the January issue, which will come out on December 29. Despite having lost the boat, Rick says that he and Marlene will continue sailing, probably on a catamaran, not that there was anything structurally wrong with their beloved 470.

- latitude / rs


We're Sorry the Downings Lost Their Boat, but We're still First for Next Year's Baja Ha-Ha

December 8 - Mill Valley

"In a recent 'Lectronic, we read of the misfortune Dennis and Leslie Downing had in losing their Islander Freeport 41 Christabella," write Steve and Lori Dana of the Mill Valley-based Sceptre 43 Pacific Wind. "Our sincere condolences to them. However, we're not so choked up as to allow them to butt into the coveted first-on-the-roster position for next fall's Baja Ha-Ha 14. As many readers will remember, the Ha-Ha Honcho and the Grand Poobah have already agreed - based on our mutual love of sushi and lust for cruising - that our Pacific Wind should be the first boat in the next Ha-Ha.

"However, should it become necessary, due to a challenge of any sort to that coveted number one position, for there to be a competition for that spot, we suggest that either there be a 1) Burp-off between Lori and representatives of any other boats, or 2) A match race with Pacific Wind on the Bay this summer. Frankly, I pity anyone who thinks they can out-burp Lori, as she's the best. But let them try.

Respectful of others, Lori removes herself to the bow when working on her burping. Unless we're greatly mistaken, this was not taken aboard Pacific Wind during her cruise in the Pacific Northwest, or in Mexico, but rather on some boat in the Eastern Caribbean.

"By the way, we want to thank the Grand Poobah and the rest of the Ha-Ha folks for the wonderful, wonderful time we had on this year's Ha-Ha. We were the crew on another boat, and thought the Ha-Ha and the running of the event were just great."

On behalf of the entire Ha-Ha staff, thank you for the kind words. After consulting with Ha-Ha Honcho Lauren Spindler, it's been decided that the Ha-Ha will indeed be holding a 'burp-off' for the number one position in next fall's Ha-Ha. The burp-off site? The Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show in Oakland next April.

- latitude / rs

Christmas at Sea Aboard Balclutha

December 8 - San Francisco

Take the kids down to Hyde Street Pier tomorrow for a fun filled 'Christmas at Sea' aboard SF Maritime's Balclutha. The party starts at 3 p.m. with ornament-making and refreshments while the Dogwatch Nautical Band performs traditional sea chanteys with a holiday twist. Later in the afternoon, the Big Guy will drop in to hear the kiddies' holiday wishes. The evening performance by the Living History Players begins at 6 p.m. and requires reservations. Admission to the entire Christmas at Sea program is the normal admission fee for the ships - $5 for adults, kids 15 and under are free. Call (415) 447-5000 for info or reservations.

- latitude / ld

Legally Blind Sailors to Continue Voyage

December 8 - Whangarei, New Zealand

After a half-year stint in the Bay Area to replenish their cruising kitty, San Francisco-based sailors Scott Duncan and Pam Habek returned to Whangarei, New Zealand, last week to continue their around-the-world voyage. Why is this newsworthy? Because both Scott and Pam are legally blind - Scott's visual acuity is rated at about 5% of normal vision, while Pam's is about 10%. They are the first legally blind sailors to attempt a complete circumnavigation.

After arriving at Tahiti, Scott and Pam were both proud and happy.

As reported in the October edition of Latitude 38, Scott and Pam have now upgraded from their Valiant 31 Tournesol to a swing-keel Pearson 390 named Starship. After a few weeks of preparations, they will set out across the Tasman to Australia or north to Fiji. We hope to bring you further updates, as this amazing couple continues around the globe.

In addition to their own remarkable determination, Scott and Pam's voyaging has been made possible by the generous support of many private individuals and marine businesses. For in-depth info on their campaign, see www.blindsailing.com.

Meanwhile, a half a world away, another handicapped sailor is making headlines. Hilary Lister, 34, a quadriplegic, soloed across the English Channel in late August aboard her 26-ft Soling. Able to move only her head, eyes and mouth, she controlled the boat using a unique "sip and puff" system.

English Sailor Hilary Lister is determined to succeed.

Photo www.hilarylister.co.uk

Now, having attained sponsorship from the media firm Pindar, she is making plans to sail around the British Isles during the summer of 2007. The ambitious voyage will take her into both the North and Irish Seas, with port stops along the way. See www.hilarylister.co.uk for additional info.

- latitude / aet

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