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March 19, 2010

Plastiki Sets Sail Tomorrow Morning

Plastiki, the 60-ft catamaran made entirely out of recyclable and recycled materials, including 12,500 soda bottles, will be sailing out the Gate tomorrow morning around 9:30 a.m. — first planned stop: The Line Islands. The inspiration of environmentalist and adventurer David de Rothschild, the Plastiki project has also utilized the talents of many Bay Area marine professionals — from the boat’s suit of Pineapple Sails to the Monitor Windvane attached to the aft bridgedeck to the army of artisans who lent a hand in the building of this unique vessel-with-a-mission.

The six-person crew are hoping a flotilla of Bay boats will send them off in style, so ‘get out the boat’ a little early tomorrow to wave farewell. But pack a lunch because, once you’re out on the water, we’re guessing you won’t want to head back in.

Read more about the project and their mission on Plastiki‘s website and in the current issue of Latitude 38.

Seeking Info on Missing Boat and Crew

Relatives of the crew of the 45-ft steel cutter Columbia are desperately seeking info from anyone who may have seen this vessel since her departure from Salinas, Ecuador, on January 16. The British-flagged vessel was headed to Colquinbo, Chile, and is assumed to have been offshore when the Chilean tsunami hit. She is long overdue and has not been heard from.

The Columbia is run as an ‘adventure sailing’ vessel, which takes a small contingent of paying crew on passage legs. She is easily recognizable as her topsides bear the words "Discovery Sailing Academy."

This file photo shows the steel sloop Columbia as she looked in 2002.

Discovery Sailing Academy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A total of five people were aboard: the skipper, a French citizen named Boguslaw ‘Bob’ Norwid-Niepoko; his wife; two Canadians; and a 23-year-old Australian named Mitchell Westlake. U.S., Australian, Canadian, Ecuadorian, Peruvia and Chilean authorities are making efforts to locate the vessel, but so far no solid info has been received.

Boguslaw ‘Bob’ or ‘Rob’ Norwid-Niepokojs (left), skipper of Columbia, and Mitchell Westlake (right), a sail training student, haven’t been heard from since January 16.

© 2010 Richie Aeberhard

If you have seen this vessel, please contact us immediately, as we are working with Westlake’s anxious relatives.

Interestingly, a search was conducted for this same vessel in 2002, when she was long overdue on a passage from Vancouver, B.C., to Mazatlan, Mexico. In that case, we understand that Columbia eventually turned up with all crew safe and sound. We certainly hope this incident has a similarly happy ending.

Halley Lund Could Use Your Help

"Please help me," writes Halley Lund. "I need to know if Latitude has published any arguments supporting families living on boats. I lived at sea with my daughter, starting when she was a year old, for two years, and believe it’s the way to go. I need to give an oral presentation arguing for this lifestyle in a class I’m taking and could use supporting evidence from other folks who have done it. The presentation is on March 23. Thanks in advance. I can be reached via email."

Off the top of our heads, we can’t think of any specific articles espousing life aboard, but hopefully our readers can help Halley with her argument. She might also want to check out, a site put together by Peninsula YC member Lee Callister which dives deep into the liveaboard lifestyle the world over.

Two Steps Forward to Cuba, One Step Back

Are more U.S.-flagged boats daring to defy their government’s ridiculous prohibition against travel to Cuba?

© 2010 Carmen Miranda

In the March 3 ‘Lectronic, we reported that a couple of Ha-Ha’ers had taken their boat to Cuba, not necessarily in defiance of the U.S. Treasury Department’s prohibition against "trading with the enemy," but nonetheless in violation of it.

Yesterday, we received word that another skipper, who has frequently contributed to Changes in Latitudes, has also taken his boat to Cuba. Not that his 400-mile passage from the Bay Islands in Honduras wasn’t a nasty one. "Good morning from the forbidden land," he writes. We’re going to withhold his name, too, until he confirms that he doesn’t mind it getting into government hands.

There are only 15 marinas in Cuba, the largest and best known being Marina Hemingway, nine miles west of Havana.

© 2010 Marina Hemingway

As some of you may have known, the Sarasota YC in Florida has been been promoting a sailing event to Havana to be held in May. Alas, we just checked their website and learned that it’s been postponed until "the spring of ’11." So that’s surely a step backwards.

This list of Cuba’s ports of entry can also be found at Marina Hemingway’s website.

© 2010 Marina Hemingway

Nevertheless, just the other day we got an email from our old friend José Escrich, Commodore of the Hemingway International YC. He wanted to extend a formal welcome to all readers of Latitude 38 to come and visit his island with their boats. He also wants everyone to know that the website is up and running, and he’ll be writing a blog to answer all questions concerning the facilities and nautical activities available to all vessels that call on the club. In addition, the site also has a video of the presentations he made at the International Superyacht Society and the Seakeepers Society during the Miami International Boat Show. Furthermore, the site contains the most detailed information we’ve seen yet on which Americans are allowed — by the American government — to visit Cuba legally. It could have only taken legislators and lawyers in Washington, D.C. to come up with such a rubbish prohibition pockmocked with endless loopholes. Check it out.

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