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February 4, 2009

Solo Teens Rendezvous in Cape Town

When confronting a competitor, teenage boys often to like ‘psych out’ the other player by throwing insults and acting the tough. Not so with Zac Sunderland, 17, and Mike Perham, 16, who are both on quests to enter the record books as the youngest singlehanded circumnavigator. When the two met up in Cape Town earlier this week — Zac arrived via the Pacific aboard his Islander 36 Intrepid on January 25, Mike via the Atlantic aboard his Open 50 TotallyMoney on February 1 — they took tours of each other’s boats, had lunch and hung out like typical teenage buds. "We have so much in common," Mike wrote on his blog of meeting Zac and his dad, Laurence. "They’re such down-to-earth people and we shared several funny stories."

While Zac, who started off from Marina del Rey last June, isn’t in a big hurry to get around the globe, Mike had originally planned his trip to be non-stop. After leaving England in November, though, problems with his autopilot sent him into the Canaries for repairs. The stop in Cape Town is to address some ominous rudder noises, and then he’s off again. "It was great to meet Mike," Zac said on his blog, "and I wish him all the best."

Keep up with the adventures of these two young sailors at and

Save DBW – Second Notice

If you’re a boater in California, there should be two acronyms on your mind these days: DBW and RBOC. The first is the state’s Department of Boating and Waterways, which faces the most serious threat in its history. The second is the watchdog organization Recreational Boaters of California, which is leading the effort to save DBW.

Here’s the shorthand: If Governor Schwarzenegger has his way, DBW will go away. It will be absorbed into the Department of Parks and Recreation. And most of the good things it does — which are many — for our state’s marinas and waterways, will also go away because the money will be spent elsewhere. One great irony in this scenario is that eliminating DBW will not save the state a dime because it is entirely funded by boaters’ fuel tax (which you pay at the fuel dock), and boat licensing fees. The real itinerary seems to be that Parks and Rec is always in the red, and lawmakers have always been eager to raid DBW’s wallet to make up that deficit.

Bottom line: if DBW goes away, it would be a bad thing. We hope you will join us in telling the Governor and your local state Senator or Assemblyperson that DBW should remain autonomous. For bullet points to hit in your emails and letters, check out RBOC’s Call to Arms.

Nautical Themed Internet Scams

Internet scams have been around as long as the internet. Many are so ludicrous that you actually get a chuckle from reading the broken English begging you to send $10,000 in exchange for the $1 million you’ll receive shortly. Uh huh. But others are a little more tricksy.

In the December 5 ‘Lectronic, we ran Rene Pittsey’s warning about a scam he nearly fell for while trying to sell his boat: The "Prince of Dubai" sent him a cashier’s check for $92,000 more than the asking price for his boat, which of course the "Prince" wanted back. A simple variation on the infamous ‘419 Fraud’ or ‘Nigerian Scam’ that, thankfully, Pittsey quickly recognized.

But two new nautical scams have been brought to our attention by readers. Bob Willmann of the San Diego-based F/P Casamance 44 Viva reports that someone hacked into his email, sending urgent letters to friends and family claiming he was starving and in need of cash. "While the latter might be true," Willmann joked, "I didn’t send that note." The hacker had managed to change the password, which made it difficult for Willmann to get the word out not to send money to the scammer. "Honest, I’m fine. Viva is sitting in crystal clear water in Roatan, where the rum is strong, the beer is cold, the local women are young and pretty, and the cruiser community is wonderful."

The other apparent scam was brought to our attention by professional yacht crew Randy Getty. The email he received claimed that the captain of a fleet of yachts saw his resume and would like to hire him for $90,000 a year, sight unseen. Oh, but you have to work with our ‘travel consultant’ to qualify. While no specific requests are made in the initial email, it’s easy to assume that some sort of ‘compensation’ would have to be paid and/or banking information supplied to the ‘consultant’. He reports that several of these fake ‘job offers’ have found their way into his mailbox and hopes others seeking maritime employment will be wary of such scams.

Cliché though it may be, the old adage stands true: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Jacques Says Jet Skis Are Not Firearms

We don’t like to be critical, but sometimes the information passed along on various sailing websites is ridiculous. For example, someone sent us a copy of some exchanges on one of‘s bulletin boards, where a contributor expressed admiration for the attitude of French officials toward Jet Skis. According to this fellow: "When a yacht with a Jet Ski checks in with Customs [on a French Island] one of the forms is a declaration of firearms. If you have a firearm aboard, you need to declare it and keep it on the boat locked up. That same form has Jet Skis on it. Bring a Jet Ski to the French Islands in the Caribbean, and it’s registered as a firearm. You can’t take it off the boat. Always thought that was one of the best ideas of the French. Other than the toothbrush."

This is just so much rubbish. We know, because right now we’re on a French Island in the Caribbean, and we just went downstairs to the Port Captain’s office to ask our friend Jacques about it. "No," he said, "Jet Skis are not considered firearms, and no, you don’t have to register them." Furthermore, he said that Jet Skis can be brought to the island on boats and used all they want, as long as they follow the rules, which include no high speed use within 300 yards of shore and no use at all within marine preserves.

One of the magnificent manta rays at San Benedicto Island. These rays have the largest brain-to-body weight ratio of all sharks and rays.
Michel Desjoyeaux validated his nickname, "The Professor," when he arrived in Les Sables d’Olonne Sunday afternoon, having won the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe in a new record time of 84d, 3h, 9m.
You already know how well Classy Classifieds work for selling your stuff and now ads for boats or any other piece of gear you have for sale under $1,000 are completely free!
It took awhile, but when the breeze finally did come up, it was a picture-perfect day.