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June 2, 2010

Photos of the Day: Grounding in Monterey

Captain Chelsea Wagner and Salvage Technician Tom Cochrane rig the tow line that diver Erik Krilanovich (not shown) swam in through surf and a rip tide.

© 2010 Tim Sell

According to Capt. Chelsea Wagner, owner of Pacific Salvage in Santa Cruz, the long Memorial Day weekend was surprisingly slow. That may not be great news for a tow boat operator, but it’s good news for boaters. Unfortunately, one sailor wasn’t so lucky. The owner of the Monterey-based Hunter 27 Aeolus was reportedly out for a daysail on Saturday when he noticed the 30 feet of water he had been sailing in off Del Monte Beach was shoaling rapidly. "He was getting ready to tack away when it went from 30 feet to 4 feet in half a second," reports Wagner. Apparently the sailor had met the shoal area that built up over the winter — and isn’t charted. "It runs a good 150 yards out from Del Monte Beach," Wagner said. If you sail in Monterey, consider yourself warned.

Aeolus’s owner sailed a little too close to an uncharted shoal off Del Monte Beach in Monterey Bay on Saturday.

© 2010 Tim Sell

Sausalito diver Tim Sell managed to snap these terrific shots of Wagner and her crew pulling Aeolus from the beach. "We had to drag it farther up the beach and out of the surf to wait for our boat," Wagner noted. "She was lying on her port side, so before we started towing, we managed to get her on her starboard side for inspection. There were no holes but the gelcoat was worn through in a couple spots where she’d been lying on some rocks.

The boat survived the beaching surprisingly well — a little impact damage, rubbed-off gelcoat and loose bulkheads.

© 2010 Tim Sell

"We tried pulling her around by tying to a deck cleat but that snapped off, so we wrapped the tow line around her keel. Normally a boat in this situation isn’t a good candidate for towing but, even though the rudder had already sheared off at the hull, the keel was fine and the boat wasn’t taking on any water."

Wagner says that the Aeolus‘s owner — who wasn’t injured in the incident — didn’t have insurance but that he intends to repair her. "Hunters seem to survive this kind of abuse better than other boats," she said. "It seems their fiberglass is more flexible than brittle."

Islanders Prepare for Cruiser Rendezvous

Out in the sunny isles of Tahiti, dancers are rehearsing, musicians are tuning up their ukuleles, and paddlers are polishing up their outrigger canoes in anticipation of the Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous, June 18-20.

Both young and old Tahitians take pride in their traditional arts. Here, a local troupe entertains last year’s fleet.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The event’s aim is to welcome cruising sailors to French Polynesia, while introducing them to aspects of traditional Tahitian culture, including music, dance, sport and cuisine. If you’re lucky enough to be out in the islands with your boat this season, we encourage you to register online. Fleet size will be limited to 70 boats due to space and budget constraints. It’s all free except for two optional meals.

On Friday, June 18, fleet members will meet at the yacht quay in downtown Papeete where an ‘event village’ will be set up with all sorts of demonstrations and exhibits. Rides will be offered aboard a lightning-fast traditional Polynesian sailing canoes. Later, at a cocktail party in their honor, fleet members will toast their successful crossings while meeting local dignitaries.

How’s this for an idyllic setting? When anchored in Opunohu Bay, beneath craggy volcanic spires, you’ll know why Moorea is said to be one of the most beautiful isles in the Pacific.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

On Saturday, the fleet will cruise in company to Moorea’s majestic Opunohu Bay, where they will be met by local entertainers. Cocktails and an optional BBQ will follow. Sunday will be dedicated to all sorts of traditional Polynesian games, the highlight of which will be a series of races in "V6" outrigger canoes. In each boat, three locals team up with three cruisers to compete.

Not surprisingly, paddlers from the 2009 fleet were all smiles during last year’s Rendezvous.

© Christian Durocher

Sponsored by Tahiti Tourisme, the Papeete Port Authority and other partners — including Latitude 38 — the Rendezvous is now in it’s fourth year, and is considered by many veterans to be the highlight of their stay in the Society Islands. Look for our complete report in the July Latitude.

Editor Bubak Smells Something Fishy

As journalists, it’s our lot in life to be skeptical — if not downright cynical. So when the publisher of Latitude created the ‘Latitude Fishing — and More — Contest’ item for the May 24 ‘Lectronic, which included the photo below, Editor LaDonna Bubak wrote back, "You know, of course, that the photo has been heavily Photoshopped." As we all know, thanks to Photoshop and similar image manipulation software, you can no longer blindly trust the veracity of any photograph.

Here’s a slightly larger version of the photo of Ethan Smith’s big fish. What do you think — is it the real deal?

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Our immediate response to our editor’s evaluation was, "Baloney!" After all, we not only knew Ethan Smith of the Ya Ta Hey, New Mexico-based Ovni 36 Eyoni, who speared the fish, but we had him and the rest of the crew from Thor Temme’s Custom 45 tri Meschach, on which the fish had been landed, over to our BBQ in Punta Mita to cook and eat some of the fish that very night. It was delicious.

But ever the professional, LaDonna was relentless in her skepticism:

"First, the fish looks way too big to be 75 lbs. It’s almost as long as Ethan is tall! Secondly, the resolution on the fish looks suspiciously different from Ethan, and its edges look just a little too sharp. I also noticed that Ethan’s left arm looks as if it’s at an angle to be holding something that’s dangling below it. Where is the rest of his left arm? Additionally, the shadows, to my eye at least, don’t quite match. Finally, having seen the original as it was sent to us, I noticed that this photo was the only one of the entire batch with an edited name — instead of ‘IMG_0075’ or similar, it was titled ‘1 Pargo 75# 2010 copy’. The file info on the photo showed it had been edited four days after it was taken, and the version we received has the bottom corner cut off at an angle. Of course that could be explained by Smith wanting to straighten the horizon a bit, or perhaps it’s a piece of the boat, but combined with all the rest, it seems a little hinky. So, while I’m not totally committed to the idea that the photo has been doctored a little to make Mr. Pargo a wee bit more impressive-looking, I’m confident enough to keep that 30-cent bet with the publisher on the table."

To make things more interesting, the folks at Yachting World, England’s most prestigious yachting magazine, emailed us to say they’d seen the piece in ‘Lectronic, and wondered if we could put them in touch with Smith. Not wanting to be the source of what we thought had even a slight possibility of being a fraud, we told them we’d get back to them as soon as we could get confirmation — perhaps via other photos — from Smith that the photo was legit. We have not yet heard from Smith and family, although it’s likely because they are now cruising the wilds of the Sea of Cortez and haven’t been in email range.

For the record, not only do we still believe in the photo, but so does Racing Editor Rob Grant, and he knows all about fish.

But what about you? Is the fish photo fishy or the real thing? Email us your opinion.

In the item Smith sent to us, he said he included a photo of his five-year-old daughter Zada getting a 180-yard long ride on a surfboard at Mantanchen Bay, Mexico. Because of incompetence on our part, we were unable to open the photo at that time. But as you can see from below, we’ve solved that problem. And no, it doesn’t look Photoshopped — not even to LaDonna.

Little Zada at the start of a nearly 200-yard long ride at Mantanchen Bay, San Blas, a legendary place for long rides.

© 2010 Ethan Smith

By the way, the response to our ‘Fishing — and More — Contest’ was absolutely underwhelming. About the only other good response we got was from Tom Frey, who sails San Juan Flyer, a Cal 2-30, out of West Sound, Orcas Island, in the summer, but is smart enough to be based out of San Carlos, Mexico, in the winter. It was out of San Carlos, obviously, that he landed the 44-lb dorado in the photo below. 

Tom Frey, getting ready for a fish fry, after landing a nice dorado off San Carlos, Mexico.

San Juan Flyer
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Santa Cruz sailor Malcolm Brown and the rest of the crew of Scott Hipsley’s Santa Cruz YC-based Melges 24 Wild Thing had a close call that thankfully ended well.
Seventy-five sailors converged on the Ullman Sails loft in Newport Beach Wednesday night, coming from as far away as Santa Barbara and San Diego.