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July 25, 2008

Solo TransPac – Postcards from the Edge

Al Hughes’ Open 60 Dogbark crossed the finish line early yesterday morning.

© Rich Hudnut

We have a winner! Well, at least a finisher. Al Hughes on the Seattle-based Open 60 Dogbark sailed across the finish line of the Singlehanded TransPac shortly after 9 a.m. on Wednesday. His elapsed time of 11 days, 20 hours, 59 minutes fell well short of the 10-day, 22-hour monohull record. But a third straight first-to-finish in this race is sure nothing to shake a stick at. Congratulations, Al!

Second across the line was first-timer Jeff Lebesch on the pretty Hammerhead 54 trimaran Hecla, who finished in the wee hours this morning. The rest of the 22-boat fleet, which started July 12 off Corinthian YC, remains at sea at this writing.

The fiberglass rudder on Robert Crawford’s beefed-up 1961 Cal 20 Black Feathers broke in half yesterday. He replaced it with the boat’s original mahogany rudder and is doing well.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Modern ocean races are much more interesting and entertaining to follow than they used to be, mainly because racers can remain in touch via radio, sat phone and emails. We can hear and read what they’re going through in real time. Combine that with the weird world that is singlehanding and you get gems like this:

The phosphorescence in the wake tonight looks just like the fireflies we have back home in Minnesota. Took a bath this morning and felt pretty clean. Took a wave this afternoon and am again a damp salted nut. — Eric Thomas, Polar Bear (Olson 30)

Beeps are the enemy. I hate them. The beep from the AIS means there’s a ship in the vicinity. A beep from the autopilot means the wind has shifted. A beep from the radar detector indicates there’s a radar transmitting nearby. The beep from the kitchen timer tells me that naptime is over. One might think these devices work independently, each alerting me to its own little area of worry. This is not so. They conspire. They know when I’m drifting off to sleep and draw electronic straws to see whose turn it is to jar me awake. This happened several times last night. I want to rip their little wires out! But then I would be unable to sleep from worry that a ship was bearing down on me, or whether I was off course. — Bob Johnston, Ragtime! (J/92)

Part of Bob Johnston’s halfway package aboard Ragtime! was a box of See’s Candy – each piece carefully cut in half and removed by his wife. He gets the other halves when he finishes the second half of the race.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Started the day with a dip into the ‘brisk’ Pacific to untangle the final piece of yesterday’s spinnaker debacle from the the rudder. Was warming up afterward in my beanbag chair when a serious puff came through and the replacement spinnaker started to rip. I guess I eased too fast because the kite did a death-spiral around the headstay. Tried several methods to free it. Finally taped a handheld flare to the boat hook and burned enough kite off the headstay to get the jib up. So tonight I sail for Hanalei Bay looking like the Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean, with shards of spinnaker flying from the masthead. Aye, matey. — Don Gray, Warrior’s Wish (Jutson 30)

Accused Murderer Back in the News

There hasn’t been much in the way of news in the drawn-out pursuit of justice for the killers of cruisers Tom and Jackie Hawks. Prosecuters believe that the Hawkses were murdered in November, 2004, by Skylar Deleon, John Kennedy and Alonso Machain during a test cruise of their trawler Well Deserved. Machain has confessed to the crime, detailing how the couple were tied to an anchor and thrown overboard off the California coast after being forced to sign financial documents. It didn’t take long for authorities to zero in on Deleon, his cohorts and his wife, Jennifer — they appear to have left a swath of evidence a mile wide.

We last reported on the case last October, when Jennifer Deleon — who had been convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and other charges in November, 2006 — was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole for her role in the alleged plot. Her husband’s trial, initially set for January, has been postponed several times and is now slated to begin August 25. If it ever actually starts, we’ll keep you updated here in ‘Lectronic and in Latitude 38.

So if there’s no news about the case, why are we recapping the horror story now? In a bizarre twist, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department reported recently that Skylar Deleon, who since his imprisonment has made noises about wanting to become a woman, attempted to saw off his own penis with a razor blade. At the time of the incident — back in March — Deleon was in the mental health ward and had no roommate. Officials say that, for whatever reason, he didn’t finish the job, and was taken to the hospital where his manhood was restored.

Through the Nose

When sailors of old had to be buried at sea, their bodies were sewn into sail cloth, weighted, and lowered into the sea. Lifelong sailor Alan Olson wonders if you know why the last stitch in the sewing traditionally went through the deceased nose. Can you guess why?

Answer: To make sure the person believed to be deceased was actually dead, as opposed to merely ‘dead drunk’ or sleeping heavily.

Pac Cup Fleet Closes on Hawaii

This may have been the last time Joby Easton and Bill Huseby looked back. Rain Drop still holds the overall lead in the 2008 Pacific Cup.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

With only 230 miles to go Kanehoe Bay, Joby Easton and Bill Huseby aboard Easton’s Cascade 36 Raindrop still hold the overall corrected-time lead as the 2008 Pacific Cup fleet sails ever closer to a cold mai tai. The first projected finisher is Paul Cayard’s Hula Girl, which has 321 miles remaining on the track. The slippery SC 50 is definitely in a bit of a boat race for Division E honors though, as Chris Calkins and Norm Reynolds’ double-ender Calkins 50 Sabrina trails by less than an hour and a half.

Hula Girl blasts out the gate and, as of this writing, looks to be the first boat to reach Kanehoe Bay.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In Doublehanded 2, Andy Hamilton and Sarah Deeds have the Moore 24 Bar-ba-loot on pace for a division win. Steve Waterloo’s Cal 40 Shaman continues to control Division A, while Chris Gibbs’ Wyliecat 39 Checkered Past is hanging on to first in Division B. In Division C, Michael Maloney’s Bullet has stretched out to a comfortable five-hour margin.

Chris Gibbs’ Wyliecat 39 Checkered Past has been leading Division B since day one.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Dean Daniels’ Hobie 33 Sleeping Dragon has worked to a nearly 10-hour lead in Divison D, and in Division F, Chip Megeath’s R/P 45 Criminal Mischief has leapfrogged past Kjeld Hestehaeve’s Tanton 73 Velos to lead by by over three hours. As always, position reports, racer’s blogs and a satellite tracker available at We’d love to give you a more in-depth report, but we’ve got a plane to catch! Aloha.

The July 2 edition of ‘Lectronic Latitude reported that the EPA was developing a ‘discharge permit’ for the 17 million recreational boats in the U.S.
Ruben Gabriel is successfully pushing his Benicia-based Pearson Electra Sparky – which has the highest PHRF in the fleet at 270 – to keep up with the competition.
With Bismarck Dinius slated to go on trial next week on vehicular manslaughter charges in the Lake County boating death of Lynn Thornton, the Lake County Record-Bee has published the stunning results of a poll about who their readers thought was actually responsible.
Michael Maloney’s Express 37 Bullet has wrestled the Division C lead from Dean Treadway’s Farr 36 Sweet Okole.