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September 5, 2008

Sea Lions Sinking Boats Again

Rari is bow-heavy courtesy of several thousand pounds of blubber.

© 2008 Rich Boren

"In the last two weeks, sea lions have sunk two boats moored in Port San Luis and now they’ve moved on to their next victim," reports Rich Boren on the Pearson 365 Third Day. The Boren family are in Port San Luis preparing Third Day for this year’s Baja Ha-Ha. He says that the harbor patrol contacted the owners of the Baba 30 Rari but they weren’t able to make it to the boat. Instead, they arranged for the orange netting to be installed to deter the pinnipeds. "It didn’t even last 24 hours," Rich noted.

Along with tearing down orange netting meant to keep them off the boat, the sea lions have caused at least a couple thousand dollars worth of damage to the boat.

© 2008 Rich Boren

Indeed, the beasts, which can easily reach 600 lbs, completely disregarded the netting, climbing up and over the lifelines, and bending stainless steel stanchions and rails along the way. "We canceled a few overnight trips away from Third Day," said Boren, "because it looks like there was several thousand dollars in damage — smashed dodger and frame, dorade vents torn off, two broken portlights — and that would cost us a few months of cruising funds."

After the harbor patrol moved Rari, the sea lions didn’t follow but now the stench can be smelled several hundred feet away.

© 2008 Rich Boren

Boren reported that the harbor patrol finally moved the boat to the other side of the mooring field and the sea lions haven’t followed it . . . yet.

The crew of Hollonass were charmed by this little dude in Half Moon Bay.

© 2008 Tammy Stark

But not all pinnipeds are unwelcome visitors. Tammy Stark was crew aboard the Alameda-based Hollonass at a Half Moon Bay raft-up last weekend when this much smaller "harbor seal" sunbathed on their transom for about an hour. "It was an amazing experience having a seal that close to me," Stark said. We’d bet that as soon as that "harbor seal" — which looks suspiciously like a sea lion pup — grows to full size, he wouldn’t be welcome back aboard!

Branson to Tackle Transatlantic Record

The Juan K 98 Speedboat in her new Virgin Money livery and ready to take on the Transatlantic record for boats with powered sailing systems.

Virgin Money
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Taking one’s kids on ocean races is becoming quite popular these days. Not to be outdone by the likes of Paul Cayard — who took his two kids on this year’s Pacific Cup — Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson will be taking his two 20-something kids, Holly and Sam, on a Transatlantic record attempt pending a suitable weather window. His choice of ride is Alex Jackson’s Juan K-designed 98-ft Speedboat, renamed Virgin Money for this attempt and staffed with a large contingent from the ostensible British America’s Cup challenger Team Origin.

Sir Richard Branson is known to be a very down-to-earth guy, despite his wealth and knightly status. At the Highland Springs HIHO international windsurfing regatta a couple years ago in the British Virgins, Branson mixed with the crowd nonchalantly, and seemed to genuinely enjoy being treated as a ‘regular guy’. Ultimately, though, he could not escape his celebrity, as Mill Valley sailor Heather Funkhouser sheepishly asked to have her picture taken with the dashing entrepreneur. As the gorgeous UCLA coed took a seat on his knee, Branson grinned broadly and said, “Oh, this is tough duty!”

© 2008 Maricel Ricardy

Although all the typical PR that’s been going around says that Branson will be vying for the monohull record from New York’s Ambrose Light to The Lizard, Cornwall, UK, that’s not exactly true. Because Virgin Money has powered winches, any record the boat sets will be in the ‘Powered Sailing Systems Records’ category as sanctioned by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

So instead of competing against Robert Miller’s 140-ft Mari-Cha IV, which set the outright monohull record of 6 days, 17 hours and 31 minutes in October of 2003, Virgin Money will be racing for the record set by Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard — which boat captain Chris Sherlock and a relatively small crew sailed to a 7-day, 19-hour and 20-minute crossing in May of this year while in the midst of delivering ICAP Leopard back to Europe from the Caribbean.

Piracy Continues Off the Somali Coast

Earlier this week Somali pirates seized a cruising yacht in the notorious Gulf of Aden with two French nationals aboard, bringing the number of hijacked vessels in that area to at least 30 since the beginning of the year. That statistic makes the waters off the Horn of Africa the most dangerous in the world.

Although a recent UN Security Council resolution gave the French government the right to pursue pirates in Somali waters, officials are currently weighing their options.

Readers will recall that a yacht with 30 crew was seized and eventually released earlier this year. In that case, French commandos captured six pirates after the hostages were freed. In June, a small private yacht was attacked and the two German sailors aboard were held for 41 days before a ransom was paid. No pirates were reported to have been captured in that incident. Experts speculate that while yachts are occasionally seized, the pirates’ most prized targets are large commercial vessels. Somali gunmen are currently demanding a ransom of $8.2 million to free two Malaysian tankers and a Japanese-managed bulk carrier which were hijacked in recent months.

Don’t Miss the Boat – Come to the Crew Party

Even if you wrap your spinnaker just south of the starting line, it’s a glorious feeling to be escaping the rat race on the Baja Ha-Ha.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

How’d you like to sail away to the sunny latitudes of Mexico this fall? We know just the place where you can find a ride that will take you there: Latitude 38‘s annual Mexico-Only Crew List Party, next Wednesday, 6 to 9 p.m. at Alameda’s Encinal YC.

As longtime Latitude readers know, this open-to-all soirée is a prime opportunity for potential crew to meet skippers in need, and vice versa. Every year, solid connections are made which lead to Ha-Ha’ing as well as post-rally cruising in Mexico and beyond. Event sponsors will also be in attendance, exhibiting a wide range of cruise-oriented products and services.

If you’re serious about getting a ride, we suggest you come prepared: bring a bunch of succinct sailing resumes to hand out, ideally with your photo on them so potential skippers will remember you. (Click here for directions and details.)

In the meantime, entries for the Ha-Ha are still trickling in via our new online sign-up system. If you have been thinking of taking your boat on the ‘Fabulous Fifteen’, remember that the deadline of September 10 is next Wednesday. Below are the latest sign-ups:

132) Morning Light, Catalina 320, Robert Gunyon, Newport Beach
133) Scouser, Beneteau 362, Steven Thomas, San Francisco
134) Chat de Mar, 42-ft catamaran, Leo Brodeur, Richmond
135) Julia Max, Custom Peterson 45, George Stonecliffe, Portland, OR
136) Endless Summer, Stevens 40, Frank Starai, Alameda
137) Deerfoot, Deerfoot 64, John Fradkin, Newport Beach
138) Sea Horse, Hans Christian 41, Cam Campbell, Sonora, TX
139) Sauvage, Wauquiez Centurion 40, Jim Eisenhart, Ventura
140) Tabu, Farr 44, Sheri Crowe, Newport Beach
141) Abrazo, Custom Campos 39, Richard Baila, Bellingham, WA
142) Gypsy, Newport 30 Mk III, Justin Lyon, Santa Barbara
143) Cedar Spirit, 64-ft trawler, Glen Brownlee, Vancouver, BC
144) Banyan, Mason 43, Jody Lemmon, Long Beach
145) Simplicity, C&C 41, John Lashley, East Greenwich, RI
146) Nepenthe, Shannon 38 PH, John Marshall, Marina del Rey
147) Libertad, Amel Maramu 46, Dennis Johns, Santa Barbara
148) Free Range Chicken, Perry 59, Bruce Anderson, Yakatat, AK
149) Two Wishes, Catalina 30, Gail Fliesbach, San Diego
150) Mahala, Jensen Marine 33, Ron Doll, Long Beach
151) No Problem, Puget 38, Dave Ferguson, Ketchikan, AK
152) Seaduction, Catalina 42 Mk II, Dan Lawler, Salt Lake City
153) Pierceteam, Hunter Passage 43, Patrick Pierce, Seattle
154) Sea Angel, Catalina 42, Mel Hamp, Napa

"The Government of Trinidad has once again proven that they just don’t have a clue," says John Anderton of the Alameda-based Cabo Rico 37 Sanderling.
Dick Markie, harbormaster at Nuevo Vallarta’s Paradise Village Marina, will be giving two talks on "All About Cruising Mexico" — the first is this Saturday, September 6, at the Sausalito West Marine at 1 p.m.;