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September 10, 2008

Hurricane Ike and Cuba

Huge waves generated by Hurricane Ike slam into the coast at Baracoa. Fortunately, much of the town is located on a bluff.

Baracoa Friendship Association
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

With people on the Gulf Coast of the United States justifiably concerned about the potential threats posed by the approach of Hurricane Ike and its 125-knot winds, it’s important to remember the terrible damage this hurricane has already done in the Caribbean.

When we took our Ocean 71 Big O on a two-week tour of the north coast of Cuba in ’95, the first place we pulled into was the lovely little town of Baracoa on the far eastern tip of the island. It was dumbfounding to us to see how little the people had. Now that Ike has come through, they have even less.

The structures are so old and weak in Cuba that these structures in Baracoa were partially blown apart.

Baracoa Friendship Association
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Jo McIntire of the St. Augustine, Florida-based Baracoa Friendship Association sent us these photos of the destruction in Baracoa. And we think we’ve got problems! The Friendship Association, which has somehow been certified by the IRS as a non-profit organization under Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, is putting together a November hurricane relief shipment for Baracoa, and could use your help.

This is a typical home in Baracoa . . . or at least what’s left of it.

Baracoa Friendship Association
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you’d like to contribute, visit or email Jo McIntire.

Blessed Be Missing Off Australia

Australian officials report that up to 21 planes are searching the coast off Queensland, Australia, for the Morgan Out-Island 41 Blessed Be. The yacht had been purchased in Tahiti earlier this year by Aussie Bruce Glasson of New South Wales, who was joined by another friend in his 60s for the trip to Oz. The boat had arrived safely in New Caledonia, and the families of the crew last heard from the two by satphone on August 23, at which time they reported all was fine and that they were 150 miles south of Brisbane, Australia.

If the name Blessed Be rings any bells, it was because she was previously owned by Jessica Stone of Seattle. In the spring of ’06, Puddle Jumpers Stone and crew Mike Irvine were just 10 miles from Hiva Oa in the Marquesas when their mast folded over during a 3 a.m. squall.

BMW Oracle Decamps to San Diego

BMW Oracle Racing will be changing latitudes at the end of the month, moving its monster trimaran to San Diego to continue the work-up of this impressive beast. At over 100-ft of LOA, the Deed of Gift challenger has a sailplan that far exceeds any of the world’s giant multihulls like Orange II, Groupama 3 and the new Banque Populaire — the mainsail requires a crane to be loaded on and off the boat. Getting to know a boat with power like that, and for which there is really not much existing knowledge, begets a cautious approach to sea trials.

“With light breeze and flat water, Anacortes has been the ideal place to sea trial
our new boat,“ said team helmsman James Spithill when confirming the ongoing
testing plans. “We will move the team to San Diego for two months to extend the
sailing season in the warmer climate of Southern California.”

There’s no word if the Bay will be the next step for the team in their testing of the giant, but we wonder if the boat would just run out of room up here. . . .

Tonight’s the Night to Find Ha-Ha Crew

If you’re serious about finding a ride to Mexico, you’ve gotta be proactive. Sometimes it pays off to get creative.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you’re in need of additional crew for next month’s Baja Ha-Ha cruisers’ rally — or you’re a potential crew member looking for a ride — you won’t want to miss Latitude 38‘s annual Mexico-Only Crew List Party tonight at Alameda’s Encinal YC from 6-9 p.m. Registered 2008 Ha-Ha skippers and first mates get in free; everyone else pays $7 (exact change appreciated). Click here for directions.

A couple hundred eager, able-bodied sailors are expected to turn out to make connections with registered Ha-Ha ’08 skippers. And if past years are any indication, many attendees will also arrange crew positions for post-Ha-Ha cruising through Mexico, South America and perhaps even to the Caribbean or South Pacific.

We’ve staged the event a month earlier than in years past so that skippers and crews will have ample time to get acquainted prior to the October 27 start of Leg One. The Ha-Ha is now celebrating its 15th year. Over the years the event has catapulted thousands of sailors into the cruising life. Isn’t it time you became one of them?

The following are the latest Ha-Ha VX entries:

155) Vindsang, Alajuela 38, Glenn Gelhar, Bellingham, WA
156) Marci Ann, Ranger 28, Dorman McShan, Durango, CO
157) Osprey, Pacific Seacraft 34, Donald Snyder, Astoria, OR
158) Michaela, Sun Odyssey 50, John Minkiewitz, Pago Pago, Samoa
159) Intrepid, Hans Christian 40, Jack Denson, Long Beach
160) Magic Cloud, Swan 48, Joseph Keenan, San Francisco
161) Distant Drum, Beneteau 15.50 Idylle, Harry Hazzard, San Diego
162) Marissa, Tayana 42, Linda Smieja, Portland, OR
163) Lap Dancer, Newport 33, Bob Black, Bodega Bay
164) J World, J/120, Eugenie Russell, SF/Puerto Vallarta
165) Blown Away, Horstman 41 tri, Dean Hambrick, Florence, OR
166) Eliza, Coronado 30, Tim Turner, Bair Island Marina
167) Panache, Hans Christian 33T, Jim Howard, San Diego
168) Kaitlin Marie, Catalina 34, David Weiss, San Francisco
169) Mimosa Star, GibSea 474, Grant Reuter, Anacortes, WA

It’s Time For Big Boat Series

Nothing has said ‘September on the Bay’ for the last 44 years like the Rolex Big Boat Series at St. Francis YC. With a near-record 111 entries, the premier big boat regatta in on the West Coast keeps on truckin’, with a quality fleet of custom boats ranging from 35 to 78 feet sailing under IRC, plus one design divisions for J/105s, Melges 32s, Express 37s, J/120s, Beneteau 36.7s and 1D35s. Racing starts tomorrow at 11 a.m. and runs through Sunday, so if you weren’t able to snag a ride, head on down to any number of spots along the Cityfront for some great viewing, especially if the 15- to 25-knot breeze forecasted for the entire four days materializes.

Today’s Photo of the Day was sent to us by Cuyler Binion. "My friend and I were out Thursday afternoon on his Corsair 31 Roshambo heading under the Bay Bridge when this freighter shot off not one, but two ‘five horn warnings’ to the boat seen in this picture," Cuyler reported.
With the transpacific cruising fleet about to head to New Zealand and Australia to avoid tropical cyclone season, there’s good news.
For sailors, Sailfest’s low-stress yacht race is a major highlight. Seen here is Louis Kruk’s San Francisco-based Beneteau First 42 Cirque.
Readers — As reported in the August 29 edition of ‘Lectronic, cruiser Terry Bingham passed away from complications due to pancreatitis in a Bolivian hospital.