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October 15, 2008

Hurricane Omar Looking to Do Damage

Hurricane Omar is heading directly toward the USVIs and BVIs.


On two occasions — one of them being the October issue of Latitude — we’ve written articles about having a catamaran in a yacht management program in the British Virgin Islands. In both articles, we expressed the opinion that the biggest risk in such an investment was the outside possibility that our cat might be partially or completely damaged by a hurricane. Sure, we have insurance, but in the Caribbean you can never really be sure if, when or how well such policies would be paid off. And if our cat was damaged and repaired, it’s likely she would be out of action for the two months we planned to use her and the rest of the high season when she’s most likely to be chartered.

Well, we’re facing the ultimate downside risk with that investment right now, for Hurricane Omar is headed directly toward ‘ti Profligate and the British Virgins with winds up to 75 knots. She’s expected to arrive at the BVIs in less than 24 hours with winds at anywhere between 75 and 90 knots, although there is also a chance of sudden intensification. ‘ti Profligate has already been secured as well as possible in a hurricane hole by the yacht management company, but there is no telling what might happen. She might break loose, she might get hit by other boats that break free, the hurricane surge may effectively eliminate the protective barrier of the hurricane hole . . . you just don’t know what can happen with hurricanes. In fact, there’s still time, although it’s getting short, for Omar veer off and leave our cat unscathed.

The British Virgins, the bareboat charter center of the universe, hasn’t been hit by a hurricane in 10 years. When we first learned of the position of Omar we weren’t concerned because it was already to the southwest of the British Virgins. But he’s turns out to be an unusual Caribbean/Atlantic hurricane in that he’s heading northeast rather than west/northwest.

Omar is expected to continue to head to the U.S. and British Virgins. But there is some reason for hope. Even at 90 knots Omar wouldn’t be the strongest hurricane ever. Last week Norbert came through Baja with 90-knot winds and was a non-event in La Paz, which was just 40 miles from the eye. In addition, Omar will be coming through the Northern Leewards at close to a perpendicular angle, which means he will pass through about as small an area as possible and as swiftly as possible..

If you have a boat anywhere in the Northern Leewards from Puerto Rico to Antigua, she’s in an area that’s under a hurricane watch or hurricane warning. We wish your boat the best. We all knew there was a possibility of this happening, so we can have no complaints; let’s just hope the many boatowners in the area are as lucky as possible. But even more than that, we hope all the people in the Northern Leewards the best of luck.

Chinese Junk ‘Racing’

Princess Tai Ping will be sailing the Bay this Saturday.

Princess Tai Ping
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Sailors interested in the days of old should make plans to go out this Sunday and see a bit of history on the move. Princess Tai Ping, the Chinese junk that arrived in the Bay last week, will be ‘racing’ to China Camp on Sunday with the Bay’s own Chinese-inspired Grace Quan. Following the sail, a celebration will be held ashore at China Camp, and the public is invited to meet the captain and crew of Princess Tai Ping.

Year of the sailors – The Maritime Museum’s Grace Quan will accompany – okay, ‘race’ – Princess Tai Ping to China Camp.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As you read in last Friday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude, the 54-ft Princess Tai Ping is a historically accurate replica of a 15th century cargo ship. It was built in the traditional manner in Jinjiang and launched earlier this year. Last Thursday, the boat — powered only by wind or oars — arrived in the Bay after a 65-day passage from Hong Kong. The 42-ft Grace Quan, an equally-accurate representation of a local 19th century shrimping junk, was built at China Camp by San Francisco Maritime Museum crew and volunteers in 2003.

The two craft will sail on the flood on Sunday, which means they will depart San Francisco about 11 and arrive at China Camp around 2 p.m.

Pacific Puddle Jump Seminar Next Saturday

At our Pacific Puddle Jump seminar, westbound sailors will gather insights into South Pacific cultures and traditions.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Despite all the dire economic news, there’s no shortage of cruisers heading south this fall. Many of them hope to eventually continue west into the South Pacific — a voyage we like to call the Pacific Puddle Jump. That’s why Latitude will be hosting a special Puddle Jump seminar in San Diego, Saturday, October 25.

To be held at 5 p.m. inside the West Marine store at 1250 Rosecrans, the centerpiece of our presentation will be a 20-minute digital slide show narrated by longtime French Polynesia sailor Stephanie Betz. We’ll have literature to share from Tahiti Tourism, info about Latitude‘s PPJ Kick-off parties in February and the Tahiti arrival celebration in June, plus a short presentation on South Pacific conservation by the nonprofit Oceanswatch organization. Several veteran South Pacific sailors will be on hand to answer questions on all aspects of South Pacific cruising. Seating will be limited to about 100; no reservations required.

A small brushfire on Angel Island at 9 p.m. quickly spread to an inferno by the time this photo was taken at 10:15 p.m.
Morning Light as she crossed the finish line of the 2007 TransPac. © 2008 Abner Kingman There is frequent coverage of racing boats in the half hour before and after they cross the starting line of big races, and in the half hour or so after they finish.
Said to have hit later in the season than any previously recorded hurricane, Norbert lashed the Baja Peninsula Saturday with winds up to 105 mph and torrents of rain before marching across the Sea of Cortez to the Mexican mainland.
Ericsson 4 currently leads the Volvo Ocean Race. The second generation V70s are faster and hopefully less glitchy than their predecessors – but they aren’t any drier.