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March 24, 2010

California Dismasted, Crew Safe

California’s rig goes the way of Cal’s ’10 NCAA Tournament trip.

Clipper Ventures
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In what has to be one of the most saddening developments to date for supporters of the first Golden State entry in the ’09-’10 Clipper ‘Round the World Race, our namesake boat California was dismasted Sunday evening some 1,800 miles from the Bay. Sailing under only a storm jib in 60-knot winds, the boat was rolled to 120º and came back up without its rig. The knockdown flooded the boat’s nav station, so skipper Pete Rollason’s only option was to activate the boat’s EPIRB while they could attempt repairs to their comms equipment. The Coast Guard scrambled a C-130 from Kodiak Island, Alaska, which dropped a radio to the boat — a feat we’d have liked to have seen.

Crewmember Clive Cockram got tossed across the cabin in the knockdown, splitting his head open in the process — an injury which, although apparently not life-threatening, caused him to be successfully medevaced to a nearby Danish commercial vessel for stitches. As of this writing, three of the other boats in the race have rendezvoused with California and have begun transferring fuel while the crew attempt to set up a jury rig to mitigate Cali‘s need for diesel. According to Clipper Ventures, the boats will convoy into the Bay for California‘s safety. One of those boats, Uniquely Singapore, was also knocked down in the same storm, and suffered some damage to the steering system that the crew has been able to effectively repair.

This is really a huge bummer. For one, it would have been great to see our state’s namesake sail through the Gate. Secondly, after a race that’s thus far been heavy on the breakdowns for our team, the crew was having a really good leg — running in the middle of the pack and well within striking distance of the leaders.

But there may be a silver lining. With Team Finland having just started the leg after having their replacement rig fitted in Qingdao, they are considerably behind schedule, with 3,500 miles to go yet. And given that California‘s replacement rig will have to be stepped once it gets here to the Bay, there’ve been hints from Clipper Ventures that the start date for the next leg may be moved back — which would give the boats more time on the Bay, and possibly give the mainstream media a chance to give them their due also . . . one can only hope.

Ha-Ha Solves Robbery in Auckland

And yes, we mean Auckland, not Oakland.

Having moved to the southern hemisphere, Jamie, Mera and Aeron have a new perspective on life.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We’ll let Toast Conger of the Seattle based-Lagoon 380 Don Quixote — who along with husband Dean and daughters Jaime, Mera and Aeron, had been cruising Mexico the last two years — explain.

"The Don Quixote girls arrived safely in New Zealand. We rented a house here in a suburb south of Auckland far from the busy city life. We named our rental ‘Chicken House’ after the Rhode Island Reds that browse the property daily. Two days after moving some of our bags into the house, thieves broke in and took 7 of the 10 pieces of luggage we had moved to New Zealand. Those bags contained basically everything we owned: clothes, electronics, nautical gear, and all the girls’ personal items such as diaries, souvenirs and trinkets.

The Don Quixote girls, with other Sea of Cortez participants, high above Caleta Partida in ’09.

© 2010 Glenn Twitchell

"Despite the set-back, Jaime, Mera and Aeron forged ahead. They started school, moved into their new ‘cabins’, and set about making as many new friends as possible. To recover from the theft, they initiated The Memory Project, a shout-out to their cruising friends and family requesting letters and souvenirs from the places we’d visited over the years. One of the very first items to arrive was a letter from Heather and Jim Donnell of the Ventura-based 49-ft cat Meerkat, including a Latitude 38 clipping about Don Quixote. It was a tremendous pick-up for the whole family.

"Naturally, I reported the burglary to the local police, including a very long and highly detailed list of what was stolen. Well, yesterday the police called me. I was asked to go to a residence where the police thought I might be able to identify some of our stolen goods. They were pretty certain the items were ours because carefully displayed on a bookshelf were two beautifully decorated glasses embossed with sailboats and the words ‘Baja Ha-Ha 2008’. Yes, our stuff was found because the thieves couldn’t bear to part with our Ha-Ha wine glasses, including the companion ‘I Survived the Ha Ha’ certificate. The certificate even had our names on it! While the thieves sold all the valuable items, we anticipate recouping our financial losses through our insurance. And the girls’ memorabilia? We found a good fraction of it in the trash nearby. 

"So thanks to all our friends participating in The Memory Project and special thanks to the Ha-Ha and Latitude 38 for making our worldly goods so obviously unlike anything else in New Zealand."

Don Quixote, the cat at left, is currently for sale in Mexico. If she doesn’t sell, the Congers plan to sail her to New Zealand next season.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Banderas Bay Regatta racing as it should be — a crowd of legit cruising boats hitting the starting line at once in ideal sailing conditions.
A small flotilla escorted Plastiki out the Gate on Saturday morning while three news choppers circled overhead.