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August 7, 2009

Navigating Without GPS

Bill and Judy combine to navigate without electronics.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Triangulation is the process of determining the location of a point — such as a finish line to a sailing race — by measuring angles to it from known points at either end of a fixed baseline, rather than measuring distances to the point directly. The point can then be fixed as the third point of a triangle with one known side and two known angles.

It sounds complicated and not very much fun, so when we decided to navigate the recent Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race on Profligate without the use of GPS, we elected to use a process we call ‘Triangulation Lite’. It was simple. We just had Judy, a new crewmember on Profligate, stand on the house and ‘open up’ to about a 25-degree angle. Then we had helmsman Bill Lilly, Judy’s boyfriend, keep the N/M 55 Bolt as close to the apex of her triangle as possible. Triangulation Lite may have no basis in trigonometry or geometry, but it was a lot of fun — Judy said it tickled sometimes. And it worked great until Judy went into the galley to prepare a delicious pasta dinner.

Double Collision Explained

After wintering in Hawaii, the Traums spent many days bashing to Tahiti, but little Eva never got battered by waves like she did from the speedboat.

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It’s often been said that sailors are safer in mid-ocean than near shore. That was certainly the case Tuesday night, when an out-of-control speedboat slammed into two Pacific Puddle Jump boats which were moored at the Bora Bora YC — normally, one of the most tranquil places imaginable.

The first boat hit was the Cape Mendocino-based Nor’Sea 31 Eva, sailed by skipper Michael Traum and his dad, Gerald. "We were below, sitting at the settee," recalls Michael. "I heard the launch coming fast through the anchorage. I could tell he was going to come close to us, and I thought, ‘Another crazy pangero planing through a crowded anchorage at night.’" (The Traums had been in the La Cruz, Mexico, anchorage in February of ’07 when a pangero slammed into an anchored sailboat and was killed.) "Then wham! The impact was intense; it heeled us over and spun us around a bit. Some items fell off shelves that had stayed in place for all our ocean passages." The sturdy cruiser was holed near the rub rail, but is certainly repairable.

By the time Mike and his dad scrambled up on deck, the driver had restarted his powerful outboard. He then tore off into the night. Seconds later, however, the lightweight speedboat T-boned the Seattle-based Baba 40 Yohelah, notching its bow over the heavily laid-up cruiser’s caprail. The driver, who is suspected to have been drunk, was launched into the small boat’s windshield, badly lacerating his arm.

When the wildly-driven speedboat crashed into Yohelah, the driver was hurled through the windshield.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

At this writing, the process of repairing both boats has begun, and the French gendarmes are completing their investigation. Rob and Teresa have been impressed by the professionalism of the local authorities and want to stress that, "The Bora Bora Yacht Club is not a dangerous place to moor. This was hopefully a very isolated incident by a single person using exceptionally bad judgement."

With their French Polynesian visas about to expire Rob and Teresa are trying to expedite repairs to stanchions and rigging.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

…And Speaking of Boat Collisions

Lake County District Attorney Jon E. Hopkins rested the prosecution’s case against Bismarck Dinius yesterday . . . without calling Russell Perdock, the man behind the wheel of the speedboat that slammed into the sailboat on which Dinius was crew. Lynn Thornton was killed in the accident, and the prosecution claims that Dinius was at fault because he had his hand on the tiller, was legally intoxicated and didn’t have the boat’s running lights on. So it was quite a surprise when Hopkins rested without calling his star witness, the law enforcement official who would state that the sailboat didn’t have its lights on and that he was actually the victim.

On his blog, Dan Noyes suggests that Perdock has "lawyered up" and that it would be an embarrassment for the prosecution if their star witness pled the Fifth. As it stands, Perdock is scheduled be called to the stand next week as a hostile witness for the defense!

We have to commend Elizabeth Larson from Lake County News  who has done a fantastic job reporting all the courtroom goings-on. Check their site frequently for updates.

MOB Presentation at Presidio YC

Want to brush up on your MOB skills? Join Modern Sailing’s John Connolly at the Presidio YC tomorrow at 6 p.m. for a free presentation about Crew Overboard Recovery Techniques. Dinner follows at 7:30 p.m. at a cost of $20. RSVP by email or by calling (707) 888-0861.

Turning Basin is Turning Around

The Petaluma Turning Basin has long been a prized destination for Bay Area sailors, but a few years ago, crime against boats — from slashed cockpit cushions to boats being set adrift — became a problem. The unsecured docks allowed vandals access to visiting boats, and the Turning Basin earned an unsavory reputation.

Latitude reader Chris Eldon emailed recently to find out if the situation had improved and we’re happy to report that apparently it has. According to Lisle Lee of the Petaluma Vistor Center, security gates installed around the basin have essentially brought a halt to such incidents. "The docks are open during the day but require a code at night," Lee said.

Lee reports that while the docks, which hold upwards of 70 boats, are first-come-first-served, visitors are required to call the city’s Public Works Office — (707) 778-4372 — 24 hours in advance to request a raising of the drawbridge. As boaters pass through the bridge, the tender will provide the gate code. The fee to spend the night is a flat $22 and includes electricity and water, though there are no onshore facilities unless your yacht club has reciprocal privileges with Petaluma YC. Lee suggests that anyone thinking about visiting Petaluma by boat contact the Visitor Center at (707) 769-0429 for a boater’s information packet.

Have you visited the Turning Basin recently? Email Richard about your experience, good or bad.

We’ve heard of successful night fishing, but this catch takes the prize. Yohelah
©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC Nights are generally extremely quiet on the Bora Bora lagoon.
Ras al-Khaimah: next host of the America’s Cup? Google Earth
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC Alinghi announced today that the they will be hosting the match for AC 33 in Ras al-Khaimah, one of the seven United Arab Emirates.