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August 21, 2009

Sunset Photo Quiz

What the?! Can you explain this unretouched photograph?

© 2009 Daydream

We’ve seen about a million photos of sunsets, but the one above, taken by Wayne Wilson and Susan Leader of the Ladysmith, British Columbia-based Selestra 50 Daydream, is unique. If you haven’t been able to guess what was going on, we’ll let them explain:

"We ended up spending several days at this alternate anchorage at Suwarrow while the wind blew from the south and southwest. While there, it was our good fortune to witness a near total eclipse of the sun. The end of the eclipse coincided with sunset, so we had the unique experience of watching the sun — which looked like a crescent moon on its back — descend into the sea. We were even able to snap a startling photograph of the two tips of the sun’s ‘crescent’ setting simultaneously."

Pretty cool. But just to prove the couple aren’t ‘one click wonders’, check out the other two photos. The first is of the teeth from the 250-pound lower jaw of a 51-ft sperm whale that washed up on the beach. The second photo is of the jaw while still attached to the whale, showing how tiny it is compared to the rest of the beast. More from the Wayne and Susan on Suwarrow in the September 1 edition of Latitude 38.

How would you like to be a sperm whale and have to brush these teeth each morning?

© 2009 Daydream
What in evolution explains such a big whale having such a tiny mouth? It would appear to be a mistake of nature.

© 2009 Daydream

While we’ve never seen two ‘tips’ of the sun descend into the sea, we’ve seen the tips of crescent moons. In fact, for a few minutes they look like a couple pair of white devil’s horns about to disappear into the blackness. Our question for you is — and it’s worth 20 points — what’s the proper astronomical name for such an occurrence?

So What Now?

After yesterday’s not-guilty verdicts, Bismarck Dinius and his family are understandably on Cloud Nine. "I’m fantastic, bordering on spectacular," Bismarck laughed when asked the ubiquitous post-acquittal question of "How are you feeling?"

But not all of his feelings are cheerful. There’s still the gnawing disbelief that the judicial system wrongfully targeted him in the first place, frustration that the man many feel is responsible for Lynn Thornton’s death — Russell Perdock — is not being held accountable, anger at the seemingly personal attacks from D.A. Jon E. Hopkins, and anxiety over how to pay for his defense against what a jury found to be baseless charges.

"My legal bills before the trial started were already at $33,000," he said. Three weeks of trial time, investigations, subpoenas and other expenses could push the final bill upwards of $100,000. And having been forced to resign from his job because of how much time he had to take off to defend himself, Bismarck has no way to pay for it. (To contribute to his defense fund, his Paypal ID is [email protected] or send a check made out to Bismarck Dinius, writing "Bismarck Dinius Defense Fund" in the memo section, and mail it to Sierra Central Credit Union, Attn: Brian Foxworthy, Branch Manager, 306 N. Sunrise Ave., Roseville, CA 95661.)

"My focus has been on the trial," he said. "I want to relish in the win for a little bit — maybe go surfing down the coast for a few days — and then I’m sure I’ll sit down with my lawyers to discuss a civil case. I don’t know if I’ll file, but I’m not ruling it out."

Someone who most assuredly is pursuing civil cases is Carol Stambuk, Lynn Thornton’s best friend and executor of her estate. "I’m so happy for Bismarck," she told us this morning, "but Perdock still needs to be held accountable." Carol says she’s "hellbent" on filing suits against Perdock, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and D.A. Hopkins. "If they think they can pat me on the head and this will go away, they made a mistake," she said. "They messed with the wrong Italian girl."

Joining Carol in her assertion that Perdock still needs to be prosecuted is Bismarck’s attorney Victor Haltom. "Lynn’s family deserve for him to get what’s coming to him," he said. But how can that happen while the D.A. appears to be protecting him so fiercely? "I believe he committed perjury," Haltom said, "not only on the stand, but also during the depositions and interrogatories for the civil litigations. Hopkins would not make the charging decision for that because those were all done in Sacramento County. The D.A. there may be a little more objective." But Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully isn’t likely to take notice of the case unless there is a huge public outcry. If you feel that her office should investigate Russell Perdock for perjury, send her an email — state the facts as you see them, calmly and clearly, and be sure to include your full name.

Haltom was very impressed by how the sailing community rallied around Bismarck, pointing out inconsistencies — such as how Perdock claimed he saw a green reflection on the hull of the sailboat when he should have seen red — and helping the legal team understand some of the details in relation to the crash. He also credits Linda Starr, Seth Gordon and Paige Kaneb from The Innocence Project as a major support system throughout the case. "I’d worked with them before," Haltom noted, "and this seemed like a good fit since Bismarck was innocent."

Haltom went on to suggest that the motion of prosecutorial misconduct he filed against Hopkins for posting an "open letter" about the case on his website during jury selection should be submitted, along with a link to the letter, to the California Bar Association for their investigation. "It’s a flat out ethical violation," he said, stopping short of saying he would file a complaint of misconduct himself. (Such a complaint must be filed by an attorney.)

In the meantime, Bismarck is reveling in the fact that he’s not going to prison. But as he pointed out, there are no real winners in this situation. "Lynn is gone. Her family has to deal with that void. I’ve lost a great deal, but that’s just money. The citizens of Lake County had their tax dollars spent on a frivolous trial. And Perdock’s got to deal with those demons for the rest of his life."

Avatar Arrives After 934 Miles Adrift

Towing a keelboat in big swells in no easy task. Luckily for Avatar her rescuers refused to give up.

© 2009 Wayne Wilson

A Swiss couple’s 35-day ordeal finally ended yesterday, when their 37-ft sloop, Avatar, was successfully towed the final 17 miles to Pago Pago by a local Marine and Wildlife vessel.

As reported earlier, a day after setting sail from Bora Bora, Avatar‘s rudder snapped off, and the couple’s attempts to jury-rig a replacement were unsuccessful. With no means of returning upwind to French Polynesian waters, the pair, named Beat and Lola, were left with no alternative but to drift with the prevailing current until they reached a landfall somewhere downwind. Luckily, American Samoa lay directly in their path, albeit nearly 1,000 miles away. During 34 days of drifting, their ‘speed’ averaged just a bit over 1.1 knots.

One way to test a relationship is to drift for 34 days in the open ocean. Beat and Lola arrived smiling.

© 2009 Wayne Wilson

"Avatar was amusingly out of control on the end of the tow line," says cruiser Wayne Wilson, who went along for the ride, "even after Beat and Lola hung several hundred feet of line off the stern with jerry jugs attached that had their sides cut out. That helped a little, but we still broke the tow line five or six times." If you’ve ever tried to tow a keelboat in heavy seas, you can imagine how that happened. As Wayne explains, "Avatar would surf down a wave, then turn 90 degrees and stop. Meanwhile, the tow line would go slack, then slam taut again and try to jerk the tow boat backwards."

Who ya gonna call? If you ever find yourself stranded near Samoan waters Peter, Terry, Mata, Hanipale and Onosai are good guys to know.

© 2009 Wayne Wilson

Despite enduring this painfully slow process for eight hours, the Fish and Wildlife crew never uttered "a cranky word all day long." Our hats are off to these five professional mariners, whose state-of-the-art aluminum-hulled RIB made the rescue possible — finally, a shining illustration of our tax dollars at work.

Martin/Nelson Win 505 NAs

Mike Martin and Jeff Nelson rockin’ the Circle at the 505 North Americans. The Southern California duo counted a second and four bullets to run away with the regatta.

© 2009 Peter Lyons

Mike Martin and Jeff Nelson won the 505 North Americans while sitting out the last race after scoring four bullets and a second in the six-race, one-throwout series on the Circle. The Southern California duo has won practically every regatta on the Bay leading up to the NAs, so we weren’t surprised to see this result. Santa Cruz’ Mike Holt, sailing with Carl Smit, have been knocking on the door recently and, after a scoring a 6-2-2-2-1 in the first five races, were able to sit out the last one as well to take second for the regatta.

Santa Cruz’ Mike Holt and Carl Smit were able to sit out the last race en route to a solid second for the regatta.

© 2009 Peter Lyons

“Its been a great week but the long days tire you out and you can make mistakes,” Holt said. “It was a bit lighter today so it made for a fantastic day. That, and knowing we didn’t have to go out for the last race.”

“Houston, no problems here . . .”

© 2009 Peter Lyons

Being as it’s sailing on the Circle, yet launching from Crissy Field, the 69-boat fleet has been sailing not only two races a day of a minimum w-l-w-reach-l-w-l-upwind finish, but they’ve essentially had to sail a triple weather leg to just get back to the barn!

A 505 gets launched on the Circle.

© 2009 Peter Lyons

For those who did sail the final race of the series, third in the regatta went to Howie Hamlin and Ian Mitchell, with fourth going to reigning world champions Ian Pinnell and Carl Gibbon. East coasters Tyler Moore and Geoff Ewenson were fifth. Next up is the 100 boat SAP 505 Worlds which start Sunday.