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December 19, 2008

What Do You Mean, You’re Resigning!?

As beautiful as this sunset looks in this photo, it was about to get even better, with lots more purple.

© 2008 Dietmar Petutschnig

We’ve often written about the fabulous color of the sky in Mexico, and particularly in the Sea of Cortez. The accompanying photograph by Dietmar Petutschnig of the Las Vegas-based Lagoon 440 Carinthia gives you an idea of what we’ve been talking about. The shot was taken near Isla Partida in November of this year.

A little further into the sunset, Suzanne Dubose took a seat at the bow of Carinthia.

© 2008 Dietmar Petutschnig

Dietmar and his lady, Suzanne Dubose, are pretty new to sailing, having started in ’07 with lessons at J/World. After visiting Strictly Sail in Oakland last spring, Suzanne decided they were going to buy a cat, and a few months later they did. What’s more, they signed up and did the last Ha-Ha.

How did they like it? Let’s put it this way, Suzanne has given up her job at the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania so she and Dietmar can continue sailing down to the Galapagos and across the Pacific. Her collegues were stunned that she would do such a thing in this economy. "Every day seems completely new when you’re cruising," is her explanation.

Crewman Kurt Roll hoists a mahi he landed during the Ha-Ha. That’s Vienna, the boat’s dachshund, in the lower part of the photo.

© 2008 Dietmar Petutschnig

Dietmar, who is a successful software entrepreneur, and Suzanne have been accompanied since the start of the Ha-Ha by Kurt Roll, a veteran sailor from San Diego who, along with his wife, closed down their structure steel company a short time ago. Roll plans to accompany Dietmar and Suzanne on their trip across the Pacific.

We’ll have more on this interesting couple in a future issue of Latitude.

The Longest Six and Half Feet

Mark Guillemot’s Safran approaches the stricken Yann Elies aboard Generali.

© Mark Guillemot

It’s only six and a half feet, but the distance separating Yann Eliès from his medical kit might as well be intercontinental. He was working on the bow of his IMOCA 60 Generali Thursday morning sailing in seventh place in the Vendée Globe Race, when the boat hit a wave that violently stopped the boat and threw him to the deck, fracturing his left femur. The French skipper managed to crawl down below and into his bunk at the nav station, where he’s been ever since, unable to move or reach any heavy duty pain medication for relief. Although a rescue effort was promptly launched by the Australian Navy, the frigate Arunta isn’t expected to reach Eliès’ position, some 800 miles south of Australia, until Saturday afternoon UTC. So for now, he must wait, in pain.

Marc Guillemot’s Safran was closest to Generali — which is hove-to under a staysail and three reefs — and has already arrived on scene to provide moral support, with Sam Davies’ Roxy due to arrive shortly. Guillemot’s attempts to toss water bottles and some pain meds down Generali’s companionway have so far proven unsuccessful, but at a news conference today, Eliès’ shore manager said the skipper’s morale has significantly improved since Guillemot’s arrival.

Yann Elies on the bow of Generali, the scene of the accident.

© Francois Van Malleghem / DPPI / Vendee Globe

“We spoke to Yann this morning," said Team Generali Administration and Technical Manager, Erwan Steff. "He is a bit better. Unfortunately he still has not taken any painkillers or medicine. He has no water nearby, but his morale is rising. He has been able to find lime juice, a cereal bar and condensed milk — some essentials. He is still in a lot of pain but Marc Guillemot is there and his hope is boosted by the news the [Arunta] is going faster than expected. Yann saw Marc’s sails from where he is, so now he can physically see his friend, and that helped him. The fact that Marc tried to throw him food and medicine makes him realize that people are mobilized to get him out of this situation. Marc has gone through this situation himself before — when a capsize aboard Jet Services V in December 1985 left him trapped with badly broken hip — so he knows how to talk to Yann and find the right words to help him through this."

As for Elies’ prognosis, Race Doctor Jean Yves Chauve summed up what is a grim, but at this point stable, condition: "I spoke to Yann this morning and we did a checkup as we do every two hours," he said. "Of course Yann still cannot move, since the pain is so intense. He can move his toes and has good blood circulation around the leg. Because of the fracture there’s probably internal bleeding; the leg is a bit displaced on the outside, so there’s a loss of circulation somewhere above the knee. The thigh is very painful and is swollen. His whole left side hurts, he has some bad bruises and the muscles are very tense and sore as they contract themselves. His back hurts around one rib, so we don’t know if he has a broken rib or a bruise. Even if it is a broken rib it’s not that serious. The difficulty is that he cannot move to get food but he only has 24 hours to go so logically that should not pose a problem. The problem is that he still cannot access the painkillers. But he’s in a position where, if he doesn’t move, he doesn’t hurt."

Sailing on the Solstice

You’ve no doubt heard of — if not participated in — Summer Sailstice, a global celebration of sailing that happens every June on the weekend closest to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. But what about our comrades on the bottom half of the planet? June is the dead of winter Down Under, so joining in on Summer Sailstice celebrations means they sail on their shortest day of the year. And, hey — if they can do it, we can too, right?

This Sunday is the winter solstice, the day the sun ‘turns the corner’ and starts its climb back to the northern hemisphere. Days get longer and the countdown to summer begins. We can’t think of a better way to pass the two shortest days of the year — Saturday is less than a second longer than Sunday’s measly 9h, 32m, 52s — than by going for a sail. Make sure your running lights are in good working order before leaving the dock, though — sunset is at 4:55!

Yet More Good Reads

Here’s the final installment of our holiday book reviews. For the past week, we’ve featured mini-reviews of a few of the more interesting boating books that have come out this year. Books still make great gifts, and none of these will break the bank — only one is over $30. All will add a personal touch to your gift giving, some will fuel your sailing fires, while others will remain useful long after that necktie has been relegated to the back of the closet.

  • Foremost in the ‘why didn’t we think of this’ category is Kathy Parsons’ Spanish for Cruisers (Aventuras Publishing, $31.95). Organized into color-coded sections on "Cruising" (navigation, emergencies, harbor communications, etc.), "Ashore" (shopping, banking, directions, etc.) and "Technical" (tools, engines, repairs), she lays out words, phrases and sentences applicable to virtually any situation you might find yourself in when cruising a Spanish-speaking country. This is the second edition of this nifty book, substantially expanded with 10 new categories requested by cruisers.
  • Fixing Positions — Trailer Sailing the West (Sheridan House, $23.95) reminded us a bit of Travels with Charley. Not because author Matts Djos writes like John Steinbeck — although he elicits a few deja vu moments — but because of the subject matter: discovering America (and Mexico) by trailering his Balboa 26 over 25,000 miles over the past two decades to sail lakes, rivers and seas. Strange as it might sound, after reading this sailing book, it may be the road that beckons as much as the sea. The canine companion is optional.
  • We generally avoid mention of cruising cookbooks, but A Cruising Cook’s Guide to Mexico (Seaworthy Publications, $24.95) is so tailor-made for boats headed to manana-land that, well, it may be the only cookbook you will need. In addition to many recipes, the book addresses how to provision in Mexico, where to provision in the bigger ports, how to adapt favorite recipes with Mexican ingredients, even how to mix a proper Margarita.
One of the most sure ways to embrace risk is to free dive, as Nicole is doing, with big gray sharks.
Around 11 p.m. on Saturday night, the skipper of the 52-ft motoryacht Giant Feet ran the boat up on Coyote Point Marina’s sea wall, which was covered by water thanks to unusually extreme tides.
 "As a result of my Classy Classified in a recent issue of Latitude 38, our boat sold quickly.
Readers — On December 11, Jeff Hartjoy set off from Callao, Peru, on a singlehanded nonstop trip around Cape Horn, bound for Buenos Aires, Argentina, aboard his Baba 40 Sailors Run.
As noted on Monday, we’re doing quickie reviews this week of some of the new books we’ve received over the past year, the idea being that they might make nice gifts for the sailors on your holiday list.