January 15, 2010

Clipper Race Boat Wrecked, Crew Saved

This isn’t the first time Cork has seen trouble. In November, they T-boned England’s Hull & Humber at the start of Race 4, leaving both boats behind to effect repairs.

© Clipper Ventures PLC

Every sailor who signs up to crew on the Clipper Round the World Race expects a high level of excitement. But the crew of the Irish entry, Cork, got a bigger adrenaline rush than they’d bargained for when their yacht struck a rock in the Java Sea before dawn Wednesday. The incident took place near the small island of Gosong Mampango, roughly 200 miles northeast of Jakarta.

Fortunately, two competing boats, Finland and California, were nearby and all of Cork‘s 16 crew members were rescued safely, despite strong winds. The 10-boat fleet of identical 68-footers is in the fifth race of their ’round-the-world circuit, which left Geraldton, Western Australia, January 3 bound for Singapore. 

At this writing, Cork‘s crew members — made up of five Brits, eight Irish, two Ausssies and one Chinese —  have settled into the daily routines of their rescue boats, where they will stay until making landfall at Singapore. No word yet on whether a salvage effort will be mounted for Cork.

The first week in April, the fleet will make a pit stop in San Francisco Bay at the completion of their Pacific crossing from Qingdao, China. For more on this biennial 35,000-mile race see the event’s website.

Jessica Watson Rounds Cape Horn

Ella’s Pink Lady surfed her way around Cape Horn in 40 knots of wind on 12- to 15-ft seas.

© 2010 Jessica Watson

On Wednesday evening, 88 days into her attempt to become the youngest solo circumnavigator, 16-year-old Jessica Watson rounded Cape Horn. Watson set sail from Sydney, Australia, on October 18 aboard her S&S 34 Ella’s Pink Lady, heading north to cross the equator — a widely accepted requirement to qualify as a circumnavigation — before veering south for the Cape.

In the hours before her conquest of the most infamous maritime landmark, Watson sailed right into a gale. "With the wind gusting to 35 knots, Ella’s Pink Lady is really surfing away the last 80 nm to Cape Horn," Jess wrote in her blog on Tuesday. "It looks like we’ll be rounding the Cape first thing tomorrow morning — super exciting! Fingers crossed that the cloud lifts a little and I get a half decent view as we sail past."

The weather cleared just enough for Jess to catch sight of Cape Horn.

© Jessica Watson

While conditions became slightly more grumpy for the rounding, the low-lying mist lifted enough for the young sailor to catch a good glimpse of land — her first since leaving Sydney. She’ll now head northeast toward the Falklands and the halfway mark of her voyage.

Meanwhile, Newport Beach’s Abby Sunderland, also 16, was hoping to get underway on her own solo record attempt on Saturday but minor problems discovered aboard her Open 40 Wild Eyes during sea trials have postponed her departure until Monday.

Your Opinion Really Does Matter

Ask three sailors for their opinions and you’ll likely end up with five different answers. That can be a frightening thought when you’re toying with the idea of surveying your readers about what they like and . . . gulp! . . . don’t like about your magazine. But we’re brave souls here at Latitude 38, so we’re forging ahead.

If you find yourself with an extra 10 minutes you don’t know what to do with, hop on over to our reader survey. It’s a rather in-depth look at several aspects of the print magazine, our website and ‘Lectronic Latitude. Your answers will help us shape our content to fit what our readers want. And feel free to share the link with any sailing buddies who read the magazine. The survey is completely anonymous but you will have the option of including your email to be entered in a drawing for some hot Latitude 38 gear.

Bismarck Dinius Files Suit

In the days following his acquittal last August on charges that he was the primary cause of the 2006 death of Lynn Thornton, Bismarck Dinius has tried to pick up the pieces of his life. But the loss of his job due to the time he was forced to take off to plan his defense, coupled with the overwhelming cost of that defense, has forced his hand. As Lake County News’ Elizabeth Larson reported yesterday, Dinius has hired Berkeley civil rights attorney Lawrence Masson, who filed a much-anticipated administrative claim — the first step in a civil lawsuit — against Lake County for wrongful prosecution. Specifically cited in the claim are Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Russell Perdock, who ran over the sailboat on which Dinius and Thornton were sitting but who was never prosecuted, and District Attorney Jon E. Hopkins, as well as several other county employees.

As relieved as he was to be exonerated at his trial last August, Bismarck Dinius and his family are still really feeling the cost of his defense.

© Harold Labonte

"With or without the civil case against Lake County and its individuals, I am just trying to get my life back to normal," Bismarck told us today. "The malicious prosecution of me has left my life in disarray. No matter what comes of this, it will be up to me to pick up the pieces and get my own life on track. I know none of this brings back Lynn Thornton, but hopefully it will hold those accountable who were truly guilty and made a travesty of her death. I also deserve compensation for all the harm and cost that has come to me as a result of their wrongful prosecution. The loss of my job, wages, and savings impacted my family, not just me. It has been a struggle. Civil action against the county is the right thing to do. The people responsible for this travesty need to be held accountable for their actions, and hopefully I can recover some of the cost of my defense."

At a staggering cost of about $300,000, and with no income to pay for it, Dinius’ defense ate through his savings quickly. Every penny from the Soling he sold through ‘Lectronic Latitude went to pay his legal bills, but barely made a dent. On top of all that, donations to his defense fund have all but stopped. Though he hopes to recoup his losses with the lawsuit, Dinius must still make payments on his debt — but without the benefit of a paycheck. If you’d like to show your support, consider donating to his defense fund through Paypal — his ID is bismarckdinius@comcast.net.

Homeschooling Afloat

Taking kids away from their normal routine and introducing them to the active, adventurous lifestyle of cruising can have lifelong benefits.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you’ve gone cruising with your kids and home-schooled them along the way, we want to hear from you. Having interviewed hundreds of cruising families over the years, we know there are a variety of methods for keeping kids’ ‘book-learning’ at grade level while simultaneously expanding their world view through cruising adventures. But we’d like to hear about your first-hand experiences. 

So please let us know how you tackled this challenge by answering the questions below, and submitting your answers via email.

  • Age(s) and grade level(s) of your kid(s)?
  • What instructional method did you use (i.e. Calvert, self-designed, etc.)?
  • How did you structure a typical day, timewise?
  • What were the toughest challenges of homeschooling aboard?
  • When you returned home, were your kids ahead of or behind their grade level?
  • Describe the extra-curricular benefits of taking kids cruising in foreign waters.
  • Were there unanticipated benefits or disadvantages of homeschooling afloat?
  • Based on your experience, what do you think is the optimal age to take kids cruising?

Many thanks. We greatly appreciate your input.

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