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July 20, 2009

Spot On in Prince William Sound

Spectacular views, abundant wildlife and endless daylight are put on hold while catching up with the latest issue of Latitude 38.

© 2009 Robert Novak

Rob Novak of the Sausalito-based Catalina 387 Shindig recently returned from a five-day kayaking trip in Alaska’s Prince William Sound with friend Bryan Sveum. "The days are long during June, and there’s plenty of light to read the latest issue of Latitude 38 late into the evening," Novak reports. "I highly recommend latitude 60 for phenomenal glacier views and bald eagle sightings.

"I brought a Spot Satellite Personal Tracker to allow friends and family to track us online as we paddled in this remote area. This device in not targeted to the sailing community but I thought the tracking feature worked well," said Novak.

At the push of a button, Spot will mark your course on Google Earth so friends at home can follow your progress.

© 2009 Spot

Spot trackers are affordable — West Marine sells them for $150 with a $99 yearly subscription — and allow the user to choose from three messages (OK, HELP and 911) to send to up to 10 email addresses or cell phone numbers. Folks at home can also follow your track on Google Earth. The fact that the device is waterproof and floats, might make it a good choice for daysailors, but it doesn’t take the place of a standard EPIRB for long-distance voyaging. We’d love to hear your experiences with personal trackers like Spot.

Dinius Manslaughter Charge Dropped

But before you think prosecutors have come to their senses, read on. After months — years, really — of stubbornly refusing to drop the ridiculous manslaughter charges against Bismarck Dinius, Lake County District Attorney Jon E. Hopkins announced on Friday his plan to do just that. In an open letter posted on the county’s website, Hopkins maintains that Lynn Thornton’s 2006 death was caused by the supposed drunkeness of Bismarck Dinius, who happened to be sitting at the tiller of a sailboat drifting along in zephyrs on Clear Lake. For reasons not fully explained in the bizarre letter, Hopkins announced he would dismiss the manslaughter charge in court tomorrow, but will continue with the prosecution of the felony BUI "causing bodily injury or death with a prior conviction of DUI." That charge still lays the fault of Thornton’s death soley at the feet of Dinius and could earn him three years in prison.

Hopkins also maintains that he can’t prosecute Russell Perdock, the number two man in the Sheriff’s office — now on "administrative leave" — who rammed his speedboat at an estimated 40-60 mph into the drifting sailboat, because "attempting to convict a motorboat operator of manslaughter, when we cannot prove the speed of his boat and he collides with a sailboat operated by drunken sailors at night without their running lights is not going to succeed." Can’t prove the speed of his boat? Perdock himself has admitted to going 40 mph, and witnesses on shore put his speed higher. Beyond the admission of his speed, it seems to us that forensic scientists should have an easy time of estimating that piece of evidence. 

What’s particularly perplexing about the release of this letter, besides the fact that it was done in the middle of jury selection for the trial, is that in it Hopkins complains that the "media" has led people to believe false facts, and that only what is presented before a jury should be considered. Yet here he is, presenting his version of the facts of the case on the county’s website — just a few months after requesting a gag order from the presiding judge (which was obviously denied).

We clearly have no idea why Hopkins was so unprofessional as to post such a letter at this time, or what his motivations were, but one has to wonder if someone higher up the food chain made a timely phone call. If so, they need to make one more call — to ‘encourage’ him to reduce the BUI charge to its standard misdemeanor status.

In the meantime, folks are rallying in support of Bismarck Dinius — from the steps of the Lake County Courthouse to Alameda YC. John Reimann of the Oakland-based Catalina 36 Y-Knot? reports that the proceeds from Alameda YC’s monthly fundraising dinner last month went to Dinius’ legal defense fund. "We raised a little more than $350," Reimann said. "I hope other yacht clubs will consider doing the same." And as far away as Wayzata, MN, Mark Keifer, founder of the World Ice Racing Circuit, is hosting a fundrasier on July 25 at 7 p.m. If you’re planning a fundraiser for Bismarck, please post the details on our Facebook page.

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© Svendsen’s Boat Works

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Svendsen’s Summer Splash Pulls Crowd

Some of the 66 juniors at the Svendsen’s Summer Splash hosted by Encinal YC last weekend.

© Encinal YC

Michael Grove and Alex Delle Cese made the most of Encinal YC’s Svendsen’s Summer Splash and BAYS #3 this weekend. Counting straight bullets after dropping a second, the pair earned the right to represent Area G at the US Sailing Junior Doublehanded Championship for the Bemis trophy scheduled for August 9-13 in Marblehead.

But Summer Splash wasn’t just for the 10-boat Bemis qualifier sailed in 420s; Grove and Delle Cese were just two of the 66 juniors sailing in everything from both beginning and championship Opti fleets to Lasers and CFJs.

“The Splash regatta is one of our favorite events of the year to sponsor,” said Sean Svendsen. “These children are the future of our sport, and we’re passionate about fostering its future. There’s nothing like watching these kids transition over the years from Optis to Lasers, and then into team boats like 420s or skiffs. From a purely selfish standpoint, I’m hoping to cultivate some crew prospects for my Knarr!"

Last month Peter Jesberg won the right to represent Area G for the Smythe trophy. As far as we can tell there hasn’t been a qualifier for the Sears Cup and there isn’t one scheduled. If you know differently, fill us in!

Cruising Rallies Buck the Economy

“Raise your hand if you love sailing to Mexico!” Fleet members strike a pose at the end of last year’s Baja Ha-Ha rally.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Big cruising rallies are continue to do well despite — or perhaps because of — the poor global economy.

World Cruising Ltd. reports that their 2,700-mile Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia, has once again filled all 225 slots. Usually they sell out in May for the late November event, but this year it took them until June. A total of 28 countries will be represented in this granddaddy of all cruising rallies, including America. Unfortunately, they don’t break out the entries in a way that enables us to tell if any boats are from the West Coast.

Steve Black’s Caribbean 1500, from Hampton, Virginia, to Tortola in the British Virgins, lists a total of 35 entries for their November event. This will be the 20th anniversary running of the cruising rally, and it appears likely it will reach its norm of about 50 entries. As of this date, none of the entries are from the West Coast.

Cruisin’ to the Cape in the PG-rated Ha-Ha is big fun for sailors of all generations.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

And here in Baja Ha-Ha-land, where we’re all blessed by how easy it is for us West Coasters to get to the tropics, and where cruising in the tropics can be very inexpensive, the numbers are looking good again this year. With seven weeks to go before the September 10 entry deadline for the late October event, 121 paid entries have been received. It’s unclear if we’ll break the 180 mark again this year, but it should be pretty close. Click here for the complete list of entries, but for now, here are the latest:

101. Scott Free, Gulfstar 44, Scott Stoner, Seattle
102. Eupsychia, Cal 36, David Addleman, Monterey
103. Jabiroo, Island Packet 35, John Limb, Dover, OR
104. Monitor, 55-ft Monk trawler, John Wilson, Coos Bay, OR
105. Little Lara, Pacific Seacraft Dana 24, Jay Bowden, Santa Barbara
106. Seaduction, Catalina 42 Mk II, Dan Lawler, Salt Lake City, UT
107. Old Moon, Hylas 49, John Cogan, Ventura
108. Raindancer, Heritage West Indies 38, Daniel Eastman, Federal Way, WA
109. Harrier, Finn Flyer 31, Ken Roper, Los Angeles
110. Willful Simplicity, Catalina 27, Steve Baker, Sausalito
111. Passage II, Hunter 410, James Cassidy, Channel Islands
112. Sapphire, Hunter 30, Luke McDonald, Portland
113. Mahalo, Cal 40, Holly Scott, Long Beach
114. Escapade, Catana 52 cat, Greg Dorland, Newport, OR
115. Adios, Columbia 43, Craig Shaw, Portland
116. Albatross, Island Packet 32, Kevin Foley, Clear Lake Shores, TX
117. Prufrock, Santa Cruz 52, Jim & Diana Freeland, Ko Olina, HI
118. Albatross, Seamaster 46, Douglas Schneeman, Marina del Rey
119. Bequia, Gulfstar 50, Richard Coleman, Richmond
120. Espirirtu Santi, Atlantic 57, Santiago Becerra, San Diego
121. Aventura, Hunter 41, John Rollins, San Francisco

For Ha-Ha entry information, visit the Ha-Ha’s online registration site.

Longtime Sausalito yacht brokers Teresa and Robert ‘Clay’ Prescott of Anchorage Brokers and Consultants, better known as ABC Yachts, were arrested yesterday on multiple charges of embezzlement from victims in the U.S.,
Thousands of visitors have toured Cuauhtemoc this week. If you think she looks good here, wait till you see her with all her rags flying.
"We’re entry #47 in this fall’s Baja Ha-Ha and we intend to take our two dogs," writes David Bloom of the Long Beach-based Vector 39 Thee Amazing Grace.