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Photos of the Day: Midwinter Racing

January 10 - San Francisco Bay

Two of these are not like the others: While it appears that Summer Moon (red boat on the left) and Q (yellow boat on the right) were brave enough to port tack the rest of the PHRF 1 fleet in Saturday's Golden Gate YC race, they came to their senses not long after this photo was taken and tacked on to starboard.

It was another lovely but light couple of days for midwinter racing last weekend. The Golden Gate YC midwinters on Saturday started innocently enough. However the wind strength all but diminished as the day progressed, and a strong flood current was replaced by a strong ebb. "It was a great opportunity for us to practice our Long Island Sound sailing skills," said PRO Matt Jones. The result was several close races and a few DNFs for the first starts, and some shortened courses for the later fleets. Over in Sausalito on Sunday, it was much of the same: clear skies, light wind, strong current, even some anchoring. Definitely must be winter on the Bay.

The massive masthead kite on Gary Redelberger's Farr 36 OD Racer X came in handy on the light-wind weekend.

A quartet of J/105s sail through the haze in the Sausalito YC race on Sunday.
Photos Peter Lyons

Results from the GGYC race are online at www.ggyc.com/raceresults.php. Results from the SYC race should be available on the club's Web site soon: www.syconline.org. We'll have complete reports from both races in the February issue of Latitude 38.

- latitude / ss


Rat Boat Evicted from Petaluma River Facilities

January 10 - Petaluma

Rats are just about the last thing most mariners would want aboard their boats. But the attitudes of animal lover Roger Dier, aka 'Rat Man', prove that not all sailors think alike. After being evicted late last week from a Petaluma River dock, Dier is currently looking for an animal-friendly berth for his 29-ft sailboat.

Dier made headlines last summer - and attained his inglorious nickname - when it was discovered that he was housing more than 1,300 rats as well as other animals in his small Petaluma cottage. He then bought and moved aboard a sailboat in the Petaluma Marina. When evicted from that facility in late December for illegally living aboard, he reportedly anchored briefly in the River channel. Several days later, Dier had the boat towed - allegedly without permission - to the upscale Foundry Wharf Business Park. There, a foul smell emanating from the boat led harbormaster Michael Donovan to call in the police.

When the cabin doors were opened - releasing the overwhelming stench of feces and urine - it was learned that Dier had six cats and 37 caged rats aboard. After the animals were removed to the local animal shelter, the sailboat was cast off. According to a report in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, "At 3 p.m. Friday, he was seen sailing south on the Petaluma River toward San Francisco Bay."

Dier, who faces charges for animal cruelty, was quoted as saying "I'm not trying to collect rats. I'm just trying to rescue them."

- latitude / aet

Que Pasa?

January 10 - Mexico

If you're cruising Mexico this winter, we'd love to hear from you and get a few photos of what you're doing. If you're so inclined, please forward them to Richard.

- latitude / rs

More on Our Month in the Islands

January 10 - St. Barth, French West Indies

Yesterday the easterlies, among the most reliable tradewinds in the world, particularly in the winter, took on a major southerly component and went light. Suddenly the water visibility in the harbor increased to about 40 feet. It would have been the perfect time for anyone way down island to work north up the island chain. For those of us on the fringes of Gustavia Harbor, it just meant that a mild chop rolled through and that all the boats swung 90 degrees. It was fine with us, as everybody got a new perspective on their surroundings.

The trades are anything but 'reinforced' today.
Photo Latitude/Richard

It also meant that the various southerly-facing anchorages, such as Saline, Gouverneur and Shell Beach, had become mildly uncomfortable lee shores, while the more northerly-facing anchorages, such as Colombie and Baie St. Jean, had become particularly calm. We're guessing that none of these anchorages are more than eight miles from each other, and some are less than a mile apart, so finding a calm anchorage around the island usually isn't too difficult.

It's against the law for boats with cabins to anchor in Baie St. Jean, but that doesn't seem to stop anybody from doing it. We're still sorting out what laws are taken seriously on the island, and which are merely suggestions. For example, we're pretty sure it's illegal to smoke pot, but the aroma of burning weed is certainly not an unusual smell. And after particularly busy periods in one restaurant, the chef pauses to come out and roll a fatty on the bar and share it with his patrons.

St. Barth doesn't have a casino, which is not to say that there isn't a lot of gambling going on. For example, last night we had dinner with a woman from Newport, RI, who told us that she trades commodities - a form of gambling - above a cigar store during the day, then goes sailing at 4 p.m. every afternoon. The woman says she makes most of her commodity profits on the five or so days a month when the male traders, of which there are many more than female traders, get overamped on testosterone and lose their minds.

But according to this woman, a much greater form of gambling goes on a few doors away, where some very talented game players spend most of the night taking on other game players from around the world, thanks to the Internet, in video games such as Spiderman. Apparently a system has been developed where the players can gamble with others, and we're told that the really good players, who come over from France for the winter, not only make quite a bit of money, but are famous as well. Are we the last to know about this phenomenon?

- latitude / rs

A Birthday Celebration

January 10 - St. Barth, French West Indies

In the last 'Lectronic, we mentioned seeing Tom Perkins' two yachts - the 289-ft Maltese Falcon and the 115-ft Atlantide - anchored off Gustavia looking particularly festive because of the many flags they were flying.

Perkins dropped us a short note to explain why - it was his 75th birthday! And we wish him many more.

- latitude / rs

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