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January 6, 2010

BMW Oracle Arrives in Spain

Spanish Fly! BMW Oracle’s 100-ft tri was off-loaded from a cargo ship in Valencia on Monday to begin training for the 33rd America’s Cup.

© 2010 Gilles Martin-Raget / BMW Oracle Racing

With a little more than a month before the scheduled start of the 33rd America’s Cup — unless more legal wrangling forces a delay — the BMW Oracle Racing team can finally start testing in European waters. BMW Oracle 90, the team’s controversial 100-ft trimaran arrived in Valencia aboard a cargo ship on Monday, after a 20-day trip from San Diego.

"It’s important that today, with just over a month to go, we keep our focus tight and narrow in on what we have to do to win the Cup," said skipper Russell Coutts to his team on Monday.

While the shore team puts the jigsaw puzzle of a boat back together, the sailing team will start some full-tilt match-racing aboard Extreme 40s starting tomorrow.

Trouble in Paradise? No problema!

In the December 23 edition of ‘Lectronic, we asked for your creative solutions when problems arise when cruising in paradise. Barney Van Fleet, who now sails his Hunter Legend 35.5 Seaquestered out of San Diego, sent in this ‘electrifying’ account:

"My brother and I did the Ha-Ha in 1990, before it was even an official event. We called it Baja Ah-Ha or Adventures in Insanity (Insanity being the name of our boat). When we finally got to Puerto Vallarta, we got a slip in a marina for the first time in five weeks and tried to plug into shorepower but our plug didn’t fit the dock receptacle. We were standing around pondering our fate when another cruiser came by and asked what the problem was. We explained, and he said ‘No problem, I have an international adapter that will work. Give me your cord and I’ll be right back.’ We were stoked.

Don’t try this at home! When Barney and his brother sailed to Mexico in 1990 aboard Insanity, a friendly cruiser loaned them his ‘international adapter’ for their shorepower cord. Talk about insanity!

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"The picture says it all. All you had to do was plug the two bare wires into the receptacle and you had power. Only one problem: it was ungrounded and the whole dock gave you a tingly feeling when it was wet."

We received a number of entertaining stories about fixing on the fly, which we’ll share in the February issue of Latitude 38. In the meantime, if you had a similar ‘moment of genius’ while cruising, email us your story.

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Really, You’ll Hate It

Gliding across flat water with a gentle breeze and majestic Mt. Baker as a backdrop – why would anyone want to sail the Northwest?

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Every surfer’s worst nightmare is that his favorite surf spot will be ‘discovered’ and widely publicized by some well-meaning journalist. The same goes for sailors. While we love to share info about treasured sailing grounds with good friends, we hate to see them ruined by too much boat traffic.

So it wasn’t a huge surprise to receive the following negative comments from a longtime Pacific Northwest sailor (code name DP) when we solicited tips and insights last month: "It rains here all the time. The tides and currents run huge. Charter boats have inadequate ground tackle and are patently dangerous. Our charts are not accurate, and there are unmarked hazards everywhere. The whales are aggressive. There are no good restaurants, seafood, nightlife, or other attractions near anchorages. Locals, especially the Canadians, are hostile. Californians are frequently demonized, as they should be."

Nice try, DP, but we’re not buying it. As we noted in the World of Chartering section of Latitude 38‘s January issue, "Within the whole of the U.S. and Canada there is arguably no area more ideally suited to vacations under sail than what we like to call Greater Puget Sound. . . With the promise of easy sailing conditions, line-of-sight navigation, dozens of unspoiled marine parks, and plenty of friendly towns to shop, dine and reprovision in, this vast area should be near the top of every charter junkie’s must-do list."

B.C.’s capital, Victoria, lies at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. If you’re lucky you can get a slip in front of the historic Empress Hotel and adjacent to the Parliment Building (shown here).

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Secretly, we know DP agrees with us. But as he notes, the anchorages are getting more crowded, especially in mid-summer. Nevertheless, he says, "It really is so-o-o nice here, and by the way, the Canadians are all on happy pills (or something)." Yeah, DP, we know what you mean. It’s very suspicious when strangers are so friendly. We also find that the whole of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and America’s San Juan Islands are suspiciously spic-and-span — as though they just pressure washed the whole place five minutes before we showed up. What’s up with that? Very suspicious indeed.

January Racing Forecast

They call it a “fiasco” for a reason. It’s about the most fun charlie-foxtrot you can willingly get yourself into.

© Peter Lyons

January brings a little bit more to the midwinter racing schedule in the form of the first installment of the ever-popular Corinthian YC Mids January 16-17. The Golden Gate YC’s Manny Fagundes Seaweed Soup Series will be doubling up with the RegattaPro Winter One-Design series plus the Berkeley YC and Sequoia YC mids this Saturday. The South Beach YC’s Island Fever series is up against the Corinthian YC Mids the following weekend. The next weekend sees the Encinal YC’s Jack frost Series get going again, along with events at Tiburon and Sequoia YCs.

On January 30 the Mids take a break for what in 2008 was the best-attended regatta on the Bay, the Singlehanded Sailing Society’s Three Bridge Fiasco. The online sign-up opened on Monday and almost 50 boats have entered already. Registration officially closes on January 21 — but is available until January 27 with a $15 late fee — so don’t wait too long to get it together for what is one of the best of the Bay Area’s peculiar institutions. The skippers’ meeting is on January 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Oakland YC, 10 days before the event.

The best place to find all this info to help you plan your racing schedule this year is the brand new 2010 Northern California Racing Calendar and YRA Master Schedule. It’s available at the link above in both HTML and PDF versions and available in a high-quality print edition at most of the places you pick up your copy of Latitude 38, or at our World Headquarters in Mill Valley.

One of the rewards of the cruising lifestyle is unexpected gifts from Mother Nature, such as glorious sunsets in tranquil anchorages.
Neville Crichton’s R/P 100 Alfa Romeo pounds toward Hobart. © 2010 Rolex / Daniel Forester The largest-ever collection of custom, 100-ft maxis were no match for three Australia-based, 40-ft production boats in the ’09 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Fewer things on a boat are less sexy than a dehumidifier, but damp winters certainly justify their use.
We figure that every 30 years or so it’s important to visit another part of the world to see if we can learn from the way other people do things, particularly with regard to boats and the water.