January 13, 2010

The Moonduster Blow-by-Blow

Read Wayne Meretsky’s detailed account of how Moonduster ended up on a reef in Fiji.

© Neria Brewerton

In the January issue of Latitude, we wrote about the unfortunate loss of Wayne Meretsky’s beautiful S&S 47 Moonduster on a Fijian reef during December’s Tropical Cyclone Mick. Wayne and his girlfriend Neria Brewerton rode out the storm aboard the uninsured Moonduster, stepping onto the reef that became her final resting place.

As with any disaster story, there are those who will second-guess a skipper’s decisions during a crisis, so Wayne has graciously supplied a detailed, blow-by-blow account of the incident — posted at www.latitude38.com/features/moonduster.html — which should answer any lingering questions. We think you’ll find it as riveting as we did.

Meanwhile, Wayne and Neria are currently licking their wounds in New Zealand, weighing their options. We hope to see them back on the the cruising scene soon.

Thousands Feared Dead in Haiti Quake

Mainstream news outlets are full of reports today on the horrific aftermath of Haiti’s magnitude 7.0 earthquake, which occured Tuesday. Aid workers and newsmen report that perhaps as many as 100,000 people were killed by the temblor, and an untold number of buildings were destroyed, including the presidential palace, the prison, hospitals, schools and churches. 

Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the island of Hispaniola but are worlds apart. An earthquake that has devastated Port au Prince left the D.R. relatively unscathed.

© 2010 Google Earth

Already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80% of its population living below the poverty line, the toll taken by this disaster is almost beyond comprehension. News organizations report that corpses of young and old are piling up today in the streets of the capital, Port au Prince, by the hundreds. While the U.S. and other countries have promised immediate aid and support, the task before them in rebuilding this already chaotic nation is monumental. In recent years, four tropical storms battered the island, which suffers from more than 15% annual inflation.

Reporting on such events is normally outside our purview, but, as with the tsunamis in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, we would urge you to contribute what you can to relief organizations that are on the front lines of support. Not too many years ago, Haiti was a fascinating place to visit, with a poor but vibrant culture and a rich ‘primitivist’ art movement. We can only hope the silver lining to this tragedy will be that Haiti can rebuild its infrastructure through abundant international aid, so its people can finally climb out of abject poverty.

Donzi Mayhem at Sam’s

Sam’s is a popular watering hole for boaters and landlubbers alike – with the former often putting on a show for the latter.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Our esteemed publisher has a favorite expression: "If you’ve got to eat shit, you may as well take big bites." If you apply that philosophy to making a fool of yourself aboard your boat, then you may as well do so within view of a sizeable audience. You know, like the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds that gather every weekend on the open-air deck of Sam’s Anchor Bar on Tiburon’s waterfront row.

That’s precisely what the skipper of a massive 2,000-hp Donzi speedboat seemed to have done last weekend. According to other boaters who were tied up there, the driver of this monster —  who wore "gold chains, a big Elvis ‘do and sideburns" — almost fell in the drink as he climbed off onto the dock to tie up. Later, after a respite ashore, a tether from one of the speedboat’s ball buoys reportedly got tangled up in one of the outdrives, rendering the boat virtually unmaneuverable. Witnesses say a crewman jumped onto the narrow transom swimstep and tried to clear the fouled line, but for some reason the skipper did not cut his engines, until other boaters screamed at him to do so — just a wee bit dangerous. The boat reportedly came close to colliding with an exiting trawler as well as the Corinthian YC docks before finally drifting close to a crew of sailors who loaned the powerboaters a knife to cut away the buoy. Thankfully, no one lost any fingers or worse. But the incident does make us wonder. . .

What the big Donzi lacked in maneuverability, it made up for with muscle. We advise you to steer clear of her.

© Guardian Angel

It seems truly bizarre to us that if you have $900,000 that you don’t know what to do with, you can go out tomorrow and buy a similar boat and take off across the Bay at full throttle without first acquiring even an hour of formal instruction. No special license is required. True, you don’t need a license to buy and operate a sailboat either. But seriously, how much damage can you do to people and property at 6 knots, compared to 60?

If you have comments on the subject, we’d love to hear them.

First Corinthians This Weekend

Last year’s Corinthians didn’t get the breeze, but this weekend is looking good!

© 2010 Peter Lyons

It’s not too late to join the more than 140 boats that have already signed up for the ’10 Corinthian Midwinters; you have until Friday to sign up here. If you do, you won’t be disappointed, as this is one of the biggest regattas of the year. For the second straight year, the club is guaranteeing wind. If that fails to materialize, there’s always the trophies — both daily and overall — plus Saturday night’s buffet and party. For the first time ever, there will be an IRC division to go with the typical PHRF and One Design Divisions. The forecast continues to improve for breeze, although you’ll want to bring your best set of foulies — it looks like there’ll be rain with it.

Some folks prepare for decades to do the Puddle Jump. Others, like Louis and Alicia, simply get a spur-of-the-moment inspiration, like deciding they’d rather sail back to Oz than fly.