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May 30, 2008

A Whale of a Time

Terry and Vicki Fahey of the Richmond-based Pearson 424 Tenacity have been cruising Mexico since last fall, and have enjoyed the abundunt wildlife, including the breaching whale above.

"We were about 15 miles out of Mazatlan on March 25 and the ocean was as smooth as glass. I saw this little guy breaching so we cut the engine and were entertained for a long time. I couldn’t believe our luck! I have some video of a mother and baby outside of Chacala — mostly fluke slapping — and we saw many mothers and baby humpbacks from Chacala to Mazatlan.

"The other sea life in the Sea of Cortez is outrageous! We’ve seen many different types of fish, a lot of giant manta rays and a variety of sting rays. In San Juanico and Aqua Verde, we saw a number of osprey nests and dolphins. They swam at the bow on our way back from snorkeling. The animals, sea life and clear water have made this part of our trip my favorite."

Have you recently caught spectacular wildlife antics on film? Send them, along with a short account of when and where, to LaDonna.

Baja Ha-Ha Entry Process Gearing Up

So many sponsor flyers, so little desk space. . . The big Ha-Ha mailing is almost ready to launch.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

With well over 100 boat owners eager to complete the entry process for Baja Ha-Ha 15, volunteer Rally Committee members are working overtime to complete a brand new online registration protocol and prepare a massive mailing of special offers from event sponsors.

Once a bit of final ‘tweaking’ is done to the website — hopefully early next week — potential entrants will be able to fully register online. (A temporary protocol is currently accepting sign-up ‘reservations’.) Soon after entering, owners will receive a packet containing info and discount offers from the event’s many sponsors, plus an offical Ha-Ha XV burgee. Stay tuned for further Ha-Ha updates.

Spinnaker Cup

Mark Langer’s Sydney 38 Absolute ’02 shortly after the start of Last Friday’s Spinnaker Cup.

© 2008 Erik Simonson

After a few days of wind in the 40s out of the northwest, last Friday’s Spinnaker Cup was looking promising for a typical 90-mile downwind blast from San Francisco YC to Monterey. A low pressure system that brought a little drizzle to parts of Northern California had other ideas, and the 57 starters in five divisions had to contend with a weak southerly flow that got progressively lighter as the fleet worked its way down the coast. Only 16 boats perservered all the way to the finish hosted by Monterey Peninsula YC.

Sean McGinn’s Mini 650 Daisy Cutter was one of many casulties in a brutally light and upwind Spinnaker Cup.

© 2008 Erik Simonson

The only finisher in the Doublehanded division was Paul Nielsen’s aptly named Santa Cruz 27 Tenacity. Dick Watts’ TP 52 Flash corrected out over the only other finisher in PHRO 1A, Dave Kuettel’s Thompson 1150 Serena. PHRO 1 had the most finishers with Bill Parks’ J/35 Stray Cat Blues beat the other 10 of them to win on corrected time. In PHRO 2, Steve Waterloo’s Cal 40 Shaman was the lone finisher, and Steve Carroll’s Express 27 Tule Fog took the MORA division. Follow the link for complete results.

Blind Circumnavigators Depart Australia

During their stay in the Cook Islands, Pam and Scott had a tour of another circumnavigating vessel, the 180-ft three-masted Picton Castle.

© 2008 Courtesy Starship

During our three decades of reporting on all aspects of sailing, we’ve met a fascinating cast of characters. But Scott Duncan and Pam Habek are two of the most remarkable — although both are legally blind, they have successfully sailed from San Francisco to Austrailia unassisted, and now intend to continue on around the world aboard their Pearson 390 Starship.

We’re happy to report that Scott and Pam departed ‘Oz’ last week, bound for New Caledonia, after enduring a year-long setback caused by a blown engine. "No worries, mate," says Scott. "It’s all part of the adventure." Typically, he and Pam took it in stride, picking up work to replenish their losses and making a slew of new friends — as they always do.

"We have met and reached out to thousands of blind people around the world with our message of independence. We have had our hearts broken by a blind girl in Mexico. We have exchanged ideas and experiences with our good blind friend Rolland in Tahiti. We have felt our hearts soar in Australia while sailing with a group of blind children and young adults, just to name a few of our wonderful experiences."

Sharing an ironic moment, Pam and Scott strike a pose near Blind Bay, New Zealand.

© 2008 Courtesy Starship

Starship‘s intended route this year will take them to New Caledonia, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Darwin (Australia again), Indonesia, Malaysia, and finally Thailand for the Indian Ocean cyclone season. "We are more determined than ever to complete this epic quest, but at the same time we are clear that the true adventure is in the voyage and not the final destination." (Learn more about this amazing couple at

Meanwhile, the circumnavigation of 16-year-old Zac Sunderland had a similar setback before his Islander 36 Intrepid ever left port. His family has just made the regrettable announcement that a new engine will need to be fitted before Zac  can leave. Although most other Pacific passagemakers have already left the West Coast, weather routers tell the Sunderlands that Zac will still have an adequate weather window to follow his proposed route from Marina del Rey to the Marshalls and on to Samoa before the South Pacific cyclone season kicks in.

While we’re on the subject of seasonal storms, we should mention that the eastern Pacific season has arrived, with the first named Tropical Storm, Alma, now heading toward Costa Rica. However, this and similar storms should be no threat to Zac as they typically fizzle out hundreds of miles south of his rhumbline.

The picture tells the story. . . With any luck, life will slow down substantially when you get out cruising.
Gray skies and mellow breezes greeted the starters of Saturday’s Master Mariners race.
Steve Mercadante, Assistant Harbormaster at Two Harbors, raises his paddle in celebration as Leilani returns from her first outing.