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Photos of the Day

April 11 - Isla San Benito del Oeste, Baja California

©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Today's Photo of the Day comes from Adam Stone and Jessica Adams of the Berkeley-based Sea Wolf, which is a 32-ft custom Warner Channel Cutter that was built in Pt. Townsend in the late '80s. The couple are about to sail their engineless boat from Banderas Bay to the Marquesas. Lin and Larry Pardey will be pleased.

On the way down the coast of Baja, Stone and Adams stopped at Isla San Benito del Oeste, where they took the accompanying photo of the 'spiritual observatory'. Pretty cool, eh? While there, they got the full story of what happened years ago when the distinguished but cruel lighthouse architect sat down at a card table with his two Indian laborers - and a loaded pistol.

The Berkeley couple weren't the only ones on the island. "Italian students have come here to the Benitos to study the seals, and have pitched elegant tents at even intervals among the rocks overlooking our anchorage. They wear beautifully coordinated clothes and clean shoes, and, using hydrogen peroxide, have inscribed Italian names in the hides of the elephant seals."

More from Stone and Adams in the May Changes in Latitudes.

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Sea Wolf sailing off Banderas Bay. What a beauty! We can't remember the last time a couple sailed a gaff-rigged boat across the Pacific.
Photos Courtesy Sea Wolf
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

The Full Story on Friday's Trimaran Capsize

April 11 - San Francisco

As promised in Monday's 'Lectronic Latitude, we've got more about the trimaran that capsized last Friday evening while out practicing for the next day's Doublehanded Farallones Race.

According to Alan Prussia, who was steering Phil Medley's Corsair F-24 Mk II C-Creature, the pair went outside the Golden Gate at around 4:30 p.m. looking for a little less breeze for their practice. They found calmer wind, but also good-sized rollers and some shipping traffic. Not a problem for the experienced sailors who won the Doublehanded Farallones three years ago on the same boat. But on starboard tack and 100 yards from the red nun buoy at the South Tower, they jibed "at the worst possible moment." The leeward ama hooked a big wave - a combination of a tanker's quarter wake and some sloppy ebb chop - and the result was a slow-motion tumble. Since Prussia was on the high side when the boat rolled, he stayed relatively dry. Medley was down to leeward and briefly went in the drink.

A kiteboarder came over to see if everyone was okay and a Red and White ferry wasn't far behind. Within 20 minutes the Coast Guard was on the scene. With everyone safe, the biggest issue was flipping the boat back over. "I kept thinking we would right the boat and race the next day, but obviously it's not a Hobie cat or a dinghy," Prussia said. He was eager to get the boat right-side up as soon as possible, but the Coast Guard insisted that they were only there to help get the sailors off the boat and wanted no part in the salvage process. They did tow C-Creature, still upside down, for an hour-and-a-half back to Anita Rock near Crissy Field. By this time it was getting dark and they decided to anchor the boat for the night and come back the next day.

The next morning Prussia and Medley, along with Gary Helms and a salvage boat operator, got back to business. Medley suggested rigging a bridle on the forward crossbeam with a line attached to it, throwing the line back towards the rudders and, like you'd tow a water skier, pulling the boat upright. It worked, and all things considered, was a fairly quick process thanks in large part to the momentum of the water inside the boat pushing the hulls down.

Thankfully, no one was hurt, and while the insurance company will be involved, damage to the boat was minimal. Just about everything inside the boat was lost, including all of Medley's personal gear for the weekend (he'd flown up just to do the race). The tiller and boom sustained some damage, and the boat's racing sails were destroyed. Since the boat was anchored in 40 feet of water, the 34-ft mast was relatively unscathed, save for a small bit of corrosion on the spar. "It's amazing what 18 hours submerged in salt water can do to equipment," Prussia said. Amazingly, however, the outboard engine started up after a quick flush in fresh water.

Prussia - who in addition to having a wealth of experience on mono- and multihulls, is a self-confessed speed freak - is adamant that their spill was not indicative of any safety issues surrounding multihulls. "Half of me wants to say that we flipped because of a bad combination of waves and the quarter wake coming off the tanker," he told us. "But the other half of me says that I know better, that I should have seen the bad voodoo chop and gotten out of there. But that's all hindsight." Either way, Prussia is quite certain that he's a lot more knowledgeable about how to right a trimaran now than he was Friday morning, and he and Medley are eager to share their newfound knowledge with other sailors. "The waves we saw weren't short chop like you see off Pt. Blunt during an ebb, but they were shorter than most ocean waves. They were almost like river rapids. People need to be aware that you don't want to be in those kind of conditions on a multihull. And if they do flip, they need to know how to right the boat and stay safe."

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The International Line-Handling Team

April 11 - Panama Canal

You know how hard it is to get good line-handlers for a Panama Canal transit. Poor Mike Harker of Wanderlust 3. He's trying to do an 11-month circumnavigation with his Hunter Mariner 49 and had to settle for Louisa from Denmark, Claudia from Vienna, Mia from Denmark, and Mayan from Israel.

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Photo Courtesy
Wanderlust 3
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Surfergirl Shipwrecks

April 11 - San Ignacio, Mexico

Michael Carroll and Carolyn Bowman of the Samson 49 ferro ketch Surfergirl sent us the following disturbing report of their grounding and subsequent pirate attack.

"On March 10 at 2:30 a.m., Surfergirl, with 140,000 miles under her keel, hit a sandbar and is now beached approximately 10 miles north of Punta Santo Domingo at the southern end of San Ignacio Lagoon - and has been stripped by pirates! They held my mate and I prisoner for days, while they took all of our papers and everything they could remove from our home of nine years. We lost all our cash, bank cards, passports, sails, anchors, solar panels, gen sets, a 14-ft aluminum skiff, and much more.

"I hail from Port Townsend and worked as a shipwright at Catalina Boatyard in Avalon for six years, with trips to San Diego and Mexico aboard Surfergirl. This was to be a six month trip, with plans to return to Avalon to produce my board game, Crib Sail Racing through West Marine, which was invented and developed onboard Surfergirl.

"We are trying to re-float our home, but have exhausted our funds. The hull and motor are intact, and we have a promise from the fishing collective at San Juanico to tow us off with their big shrimp boat if we can pump out the sand and water. We need financial help to do this. We will provide a free game to anyone for a donation of $100 or more."

If you'd like to help out some cruisers in need, email Michael.

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Mexico Cruiser Nellie Brocchini Stricken by Aneurysm

April 11 - La Paz, BCS

Nellie and Paul Brocchini's five-month dream cruise came to a sudden and tragic end March 28 when Nellie, 68, died in La Paz, as a result of a brain aneurysm. They'd set sail from their Carmel home last fall aboard their Beneteau 36.7 Athena, entering Mexico with the Baja Ha-Ha rally.

Nellie and Paul in happier times
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

While helping to bring the dinghy on deck at Isla Partida, Nellie, who was strong and fit, suddenly slumped against the lifelines and went unconscious. Unsure what the problem was, Paul and his adult daughter Theresa called for help via VHF. A Portland M.D., Charles Layman, and others responded immediately, and Nellie was rushed to the military hospital in La Paz, 21 miles away, aboard John Zimmerman's Sacramento-based motor yacht Aquafair. Her condition worsened during the trip, however, and she died shortly after arrival.

Thankfully, this Mexico cruise was but one of many adventures the couple had shared during their 46 years of marriage, including stints of living in Brazil and Colombia. Our sincere condolences to Paul, a past Latitude 38 contributor.

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Gary Clifford Memorial

April 11 - Pt. Richmond

Friends of Gary Clifford are invited to help celebrate the life of the one-of-a-kind sailor this Saturday, April 14, at Richmond YC, 4-6 p.m. As reported in the April 2 edition of 'Lectronic Latitude, Gary passed away March 31 after a long illness. On land, Gary was a sales executive, but it seems he spent most of his time on the water. Almost any sunny afternoon we were at Brickyard Cove, regardless of the day of the week, we saw him out sailing his Express 27 Light'n Up, almost always with a boat load of friends onboard and a huge grin on his face. Gary's family says anyone coming to the celebration on Saturday afternoon need bring only themselves and nothing else.

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