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June 20, 2008

Settling In and Breaking Free

Snickers hardly resembles the scroungy emaciated puppy he was just a couple months ago.

© 2008 Marlene Karas & Jack Joslin

We received the following update on Snickers the pup yesterday from Jack Joslin, who spent countless hours working to rescue Snickers and his crewmate Gulliver the parrot after they were shipwrecked and abandoned on Fanning Island last December:

"The Wild Beast of Fanning that arrived at my home in April has gone dormant! I’m pleased to report that Snickers is, in almost all ways, just a happy, playful, very smart, normal cocker spaniel. Right away, he seemed to understand and accept that I was the alpha dog in this pack, and he bonded with me quickly. That was good for me and him, but not so much for my other dog, Missy. He, of course, only knew that aggressive assertion of his desires resulted in satisfaction. Time and attention were necessary to repair his aggressive tendencies.

"After the first week, I was able to walk them together. Then I began to notice that he would occasionally look at her to try to figure out, for example, how alarmed to be if we walked by a barking dog. Once he saw that she ignored the distraction, he began to do likewise. I’d say it was maybe three weeks ago that she actually played with him. He’d been trying for quite awhile to engage her, but she’d ignore him. Once she ‘agreed’ to play, though, I knew it would all be OK. He really is the sweetest little guy."

But Joslin isn’t the only one with good news to share. Sybil Erden of The Oasis Sanctuary in Arizona reports that Gulliver’s repatriation to the U.S. is entering the final stages.

"The U.S. paperwork being issued by both USDA and USFWS/OMA has been approved, and should be at the Sanctuary early next week. The paperwork from Kiribati should be in Switzerland by the end of this week, then CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species), which is located in Geneva, contacts USFWS, who will clear my way through the ports with the USFWS Inspectors. Then the USDA will take Gulliver into Quarantine for 30 days. After that, I’ll pick him up and take him back to Arizona.

"Between airfare, quarantine costs, filing fees, hotels and food while out of the country, international phone bills, shipping costs and everything else, this rescue is costing over $10,000. If any of your readers would like to help, they can contribute on our website."

We’re thrilled that these once-doomed animals have been given a second chance at long and happy lives through the hard work of so many people.

Looking for Etheral Star in Mexico

Cruisers in Mexico are wondering if anybody has seen Harold Parrett and his green-hulled Newport 30 Etheral Star. Parrett departed Mazatlan on June 14 at about the same time as Ken Douglas on the Astoria-based Pearson 365 Mermaid, both bound for La Paz. Parrett and Etheral Star haven’t been seen since.

While we wouldn’t at all be surprised if Parrett was enjoying life in some anchorage, friends are concerned and have alerted the Mexican Navy and other cruisers. If you see or hear from Parrett, please let us know via email so we can forward the information.

Pac Cup Announces Tracking and Class Breaks

Tom Akin’s SC 52 Lightning at the start of the 2006 Pacific Cup on the way to a clean sweep: 1st in class, 1st overall, 1st to finish.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

They’re here . . . The class breakdowns and start days for the Pacific Cup have been posted on the race’s website. With a little under a month to go until the start, teams are knee-deep in preparations for the 2,025 mile slide to Kaneohe Bay. The Pacific Cup YC has announced that, for the first time ever, those of us not sailing in the "fun race to Hawaii" will be able to follow the action from the relative comfort of our shoreside digs with our decidedly fresher food and fresher-smelling heads.

"Thanks to the organizational and research efforts of Vice Commodore Jim Gregory, we have contracted with FIStracking to provide satellite transponders for each and every boat at no additional cost to the boats — unless you break it, of course," according to a statement from the Club. "FIS has supported many major regattas, including Vic-Maui 2008, Swiftsure, and more. Not only does the tracking create a really great viewing experience for those at home, it also provides an added safety element in the event someone needs to find you to rescue you or bring you cookies or something. Please note that, per the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions, direct or indirect access to the tracking information by competitors is forbidden so as to preserve the fairness of the race."

All of this leaves us wondering, do cookies count as outside assistance?

Blind Sailors Suffer Knockdown

A shot from the intrepid couple’s cruising scrapbook – striking a pose at New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island.

© 2008 Scott Duncan & Pam Habek

Recovering from the chaos wrought by a mid-ocean knockdown is a challenge for any sailor, but imagine trying to sort things out if you were nearly blind.

As reported earlier, Scott Duncan and Pam Habek, both of whom are legally blind, departed Australia in late May aboard their Pearson 390, Starship, bound for New Caledonia. Having left San Francisco in the fall of 2004, they are the first blind couple to have crossed the Pacific, and they hope to become the first to circumnavigate. (Pam has about 10% of normal vision; Scott has about 5%.)

The May 31 knockdown occurred roughly 280 miles south of New Caledonia’s Koumac Island, when a freak wave crashed into Starship. Scott was in the cockpit at the time just about to strap on his PDF as he prepared for a sail change. Pam was below decks. Excerpts from Scott’s report: "The next second I felt the boat drop beneath my feet and start to roll. In the tick of the clock, I also knew that I needed to hit the deck literally, and I dove for the floor and grabbed onto a support pole. On my way down I glimpsed a huge wave coming over the boat with a size towering above the boom. The wave came from the opposite direction of the prevailing wave pattern and crashed straight down on Starship. I felt the full force of the wave come down on me with a huge crash and continue to roll the boat to nearly 90 degrees. Everything that was in the cockpit was now flying past me. The sensation was like being in a breaking wave when you are body surfing."

The boat’s heavily built dodger was shredded, almost everything loose in the cockpit was washed overboard, and the wind generator support structure was mangled. Below decks, water was up to the floorboards, and they would later learn that all that green water had damaged elements of their electrical system. Luckily, though, neither Scott nor Pam was injured. They hove to, and eventually got the mess sorted out, pushing on northward.

"During our voyage we have learned that, in the midst of a crisis, there will always be success and regrets," writes Scott. "We certainly learned the lesson that anytime we are in the cockpit on Starship we must be clipped in before leaving the cabin below, despite the perception of safety the enclosure provides. We feel that our training (by Club Nautique’s Arnstein Mustad) carried us through the aftermath. Our decisions to stop the boat by heaving to, and taking the time to take care of the boat and ourselves, were good ones. Recognizing our boundaries, fixing a warm meal and getting rest were also key to coping with the situation.

"One of the most frequently asked questions by the media prior to departing on the voyage was: ‘How will two legally blind people deal with an emergency at sea? Surely you will have problems and then need to be rescued.’ In hindsight we think many people in our situation would have considered firing off their EPIRB and calling to be rescued, especially because it took another 12 hours for the seas to calm after the wave strike. As mentioned, nobody responds perfectly to an emergency, but we drew on our training, used our minds, kept our cool, worked our way through the situation and never once did we let our vision limitations become a negative factor. We were simply people determined to overcome adversity despite our limitations, and ultimately this is what our voyage is all about.

"On our departure day I was asked by a reporter if I thought this voyage was dangerous. I replied that yes, it is. It can be dangerous for anyone, but if it was easy then it would already have been done. People have a remarkable ability to achieve great things beyond their perceived limitations, and Pam and I are continually amazed and rewarded by what we are capable of achieving through determination."

We’re happy to report that this amazing couple has safely reached New Caledonia, where Starship is undergoing repairs. For more on their quest, see the website.

Dinghy racing in Clipper Cove is one of many festivities planned for Treasure Island’s Summer Sailstice celebration this weekend.
Local PBS station KQED (Channel 9) will be airing Deep Water tonight at 10:30 p.m.