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October 17, 2008

Photo of the Day: What a Handful

If you’ve wondered whether Classy Classifieds really work, just check out this letter from Peggy Droesch and Rory Hansen of Pt. Richmond:

"We were greatly entertained by the ad in the September 15 edition of ‘Lectronic Latitude, featuring the Hunter Vision 36 for sale — right across from it, on the same page in the May 2008 issue, is an ad for an S&S 1983 Catalina 38 sloop, which we bought almost as soon as it was listed!

"We saw the ad, contacted the seller, took a look, made an offer, had the boat surveyed, and closed on the deal by May 18, and we’re convinced we got a great deal on a beautifully cared for older boat. We can testify to Latitude’s Classy Classifieds as a terrific resource for boat buyers as well as boat sellers!

"We thoroughly enjoy the magazine and the e-mag, and we know we’ll enjoy the Baja Ha-Ha when we do it — maybe 2009 will see us on your list!"

The deadline to place your very own Classy is tomorrow at 5 p.m. But don’t panic! Our handy online system makes it quick, easy and painless.

Omar, The Seeing-Eye Hurricane

Safe! In Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic, we reported that every boat in the U.S. and British Virgins Islands, includng our R&C catamaran ‘ti Profligate, was 24 hours away from getting hit by Hurricane Omar. Seeing that the Virgins are the bareboat capital of the universe, that meant a lot of boats were in severe harm’s way.

About six hours from Omar‘s landfall two things happened, one of them very bad, and one of them very good. The bad was that Omar unexpectedly intensified to a 115-knot category 3 hurricane. The other was that he started to veer to the east. So in the wee hours of Thursday night, we were glued to the internet as one computer model showed Omar still about to whack our boat, while four others predicted that he wouldn’t make a direct hit. The veering to the east turned out to be the correct prediction, and Omar‘s 20-mile wide eye passed about 50 miles to the east of the British Virgins.

The fact that it passed to the east rather than the west meant all the boats in the Virgins were on the soft side of the hurricane. It also helped tremendously that Omar had a concentrated eye. We still don’t have a full report from the BVIs, but we’re told that the south side of Tortola didn’t get hit by much more than 50 knots, and that the seas weren’t a problem. So damage was very light, and nothing like what had been expected. Indeed, BVI Yacht Charters, our management company, had all the boats back to their base and was open for operation less than nine hours after this category 3 hurricane passed. Damage to St. John and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgins was even less because they were further from the eye.

There’s a lot of praying when a hurricane approaches, and in the case of Omar, the prayers seem to have been answered. By veering to the east, Omar managed to thread his way through the Northern Leewards to the open Atlantic without causing any serious damage to either the Virgins or St. Martin on the other side of the hurricane. Well done!

Angel Island Closed till Monday

The devastating wildfire that raged across half of Angel Island on Sunday night was started by "human involvement," fire officials announced yesterday. The fire started near a campsite but investigators have yet to determine if the culprit was an irresponsible smoker, a careless camper or an arsonist.

What they do know is that the damage could have been far worse. During the island’s 83-year military occupation, several small groves of eucalyptus trees were planted. The fast-growing trees began crowding out native flora, and in the early ’90s, all but a few "historical" acres of the non-native species were removed. Had that not happened, the hot-burning eucalyptus — referred to by fire officials as "standing gasoline" — would likely have spread the fire to the island’s historic structures. As it was, firefighters successfully worked their asses off all night to keep that from happening.

Park Superintendent Dave Matthews reports that the island, including Ayala Cove, will be closed until Monday.

Princess Tai Ping Open at Hyde Street Pier

The crew raises the mainsail on Princess Tai Ping as she heads out of Aquatic Park for a sail last week. Even the ‘tanbark’ dye used in the canvas sails – to prevent mold – was historically correct.

© 2008 Christian Buhl

The Chinese junk Princess Tai Ping is now open to the public at Hyde Street Pier. She’s tied up at the far end of the pier, adjacent to Alma, the Maritime Museum’s busy 1891 scow schooner. Bay Area residents are invited to come down to Hyde Street, have a look at the recreated 15th-century Ming Dynasty junk, meet her crew, hear her story — and to ponder the possibility that other ships like this might have visited the west coast of the Americas long before Columbus’ 1492 voyage. The Princess will be at the Pier every day through the end of the month, with the exception of Sunday afternoon, when she will sail to China Camp.

Balclutha’s fore-topmast – 55 feet long and weighing a ton – was rerigged in August. Her t’gallant yard was refitted last week. A new royal yard, now being built, will complete the job.

© 2008 Christian Buhl

Of course, history abounds at Hyde Street Pier, location of one of the largest historic ship collections anywhere in the world. After you visit the Princess, you might want to check out Alma, the recently newly rebuilt lumber schooner C.A. Thayer, and/or the jewel of the ‘fleet’, the splendid 300-ft steel full rigger Balclutha. There are 101 other exhibits and displays, too, that will interest ‘kids’ of all ages. And with boarding passes for all ships only $5 (supervised youngsters under 16 free), it’s a great way for the whole family to enjoy a day together in these difficult economic times.

Hurricane Omar is heading directly toward the USVIs and BVIs. © NOAA 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.
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.