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December 12, 2008

Another Reality in Vanuatu

Tired of the same old ballet or rock ‘n roll or hip-hop shows? Check out the Rom dance at Ambrym island for a change of pace – and a bit of real reality.

© 2008 Nancy Tompkins

If you get most of your information from mass media such as television and newspapers, you can’t help but think that the world 1) is inhabited by celebrity sluts and reality TV losers who all look the same in different ways; 2) is covered with overpopulated cities; and 3) that we should all obssess on the state of the economy.

The dugout canoe isn’t made of carbon fiber and the shore isn’t lined with trendy restaurants, but Nancy enjoyed herself nonetheless.

© 2008 Commodore Tompkins

But as is demonstrated by the accompanying photos taken by Nancy Tomkins, who is cruising with her husband Warwick aboard their Mill Valley-based Wylie 38+ Flashgirl, that’s not true and you don’t have to accept the mainstream life. If you’ve got a bit of gumption, an inexpensive boat, and a few bucks, you can explore the huge and interesting — and real — world out there.

It was nice to meet a young man who didn’t spend most of his waking hours playing Grand Theft Auto.

© 2008 Nancy Tompkins

"We’ve been to some truly lovely places in our years of cruising," writes Commodore, "but this spot, immediately south of Lugaville, is certainly one of the most beautiful. Interestingly, it was the prototype and inspiration for the U.S. base where James Michener was stationed and made famous in Tales of the South Pacific. The inspiration for Bali Hai must have been the island of Ambae, which is nearby. During World War II, Luganville was home to over a half million U.S. military types and more than 100 ships. As we tour the ruined Quonset huts and SeaBee concrete works, which still abound, Nancy and I find ourselves singing songs such as ‘There Is Nothing Like a Dame’, ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ and other Rodgers and Hammerstein songs from South Pacific."

Keep on Rom-ing! The dancers wearing little besides bushes and penis sheathes were soon joined by the guys covered in banana leaves. Take that, Burning Man!

© 2008 Nancy Tompkins

Finally, A Breeze-On Midwinters!

The surface forecast for tomorrow shows 35- to 50-knot winds are predicted offshore.


This weekend marks the second installment of Berkeley YC’s Midwinters, and the first of any of the Bay’s various midwinter series where the breeze will make a significant showing! The Coast Guard thinks so too, and issued a weather advisory to that effect.

"For the coastal waters along the San Francisco and Monterey Bays, a Small Craft Advisory is in effect through Saturday afternoon," the statement says. "Winds will be steady up to 29 miles per hour through the weekend, with swells reaching up to 20 feet on Saturday. The conditions could potentially become worse than forecasted as the system moves south. It is also forecasted that several other systems could move south through next week, so hazardous conditions could remain beyond the weekend."

Snow levels are anticipated to drop to 1,500 feet, and the conditions at sea level won’t be much warmer, so dress appropriately and do what you need to stay onboard your boat. Finally, it sounds to us like a good weekend to stay on the Bay. If you were planning your annual December cruise up to Drake’s Bay, put it off until the weather clears and head on over to Berkeley YC and sail either Saturday, Sunday or both days — they’re conveniently scored as two sepearate series for sailors who can’t manage an entire weekend every month.

Quéméré Rescued, Kiteboat Abandoned

Courageous kiteboater Anne Quemere in happier times.

© Arien Challenge

As reported in Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic, French adventurer Anne Quéméré was forced to abandon her unprecedented attempt to sail solo from San Francisco to Tahiti aboard a vessel propelled only by a kiteboarding-style kite. She was successfully rescued Thursday by the Panama-bound, 985-ft container ship the Maersk Mytilini, roughly 1,700 miles south of Hilo, Hawaii.

"The Doldrums did not let me pass and this is not due to a lack of trying. Numerous times I compared myself to Don Quixote who fought windmills like me — gaining a few miles during the day to see them reversed at night." Problems with her solar charging system left her without power to run her navigation and communications gear, apart from her satphone, for the 48 hours preceding her call for rescue. In addition, her kite had a tear and a problem had developed with its control system.

"This first (attempt) on such a route proved that considerable research is needed in the maneuvring of kites before they can be used regularly on naval routes," says Quéméré. "We won’t see them flourish tomorrow on cargo ships or fishing boats because their use is too uncertain, especially in the calmer parts of the oceans such as the Doldrums."

Everyone Loves a Parade

‘Tis the season for lighted boat parades, and if you missed the half-dozen that graced Bay Area waters last weekend, several are coming up. Parades at St. Francis YC and in San Rafael are next weekend, but tomorrow you can ‘see the lights’ in Half Moon Bay, Richmond and Sausalito.

Sausalito YC’s 28th annual parade should be particularly impressive this year with Jim Gabbert’s 164-ft motoryacht Invader, which has been berthed at Schoonmaker Point Marina since this summer, acting as Grand Marshall. Rides aboard the yacht are available as a fundraiser for the fireworks display that will follow the parade.

Peyron’s ‘big bang’ has taken him out of the running. © Yvan Zedda / Gitana SA In one of the real heartbreakers of the singlehanded, nonstop round-the-world Vendée Globe Race, Loïck Peyron reported that his IMOCA 60 Gitana Eighty had dismasted early this morning in the Southern Ocean.
Anne and her unique vessel in better times. © Adrien Challenge When French adventurer Anne Quéméré set out from San Francisco on November 4 bound for Tahiti, getting stuck in the equatorial doldrums (ITCZ) was undoubtedly one of her greatest fears.