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July 9, 2010

Flipped Cat Lies in Doghole as Storm Approaches

Looking relatively unscathed after her offshore ordeal, Catalyst now idles in a tiny North Coast doghole.

© 2010 Greg Yarman

When longtime ‘Lectronic Latitude devotee Greg Yarman read about the offshore evacuation of Catalyst Wednesday — a 32-ft cat that flipped while en route from Crescent City to Alameda — he felt certain that the overturned boat would wash up somewhere along the rugged North Coast where he lives.

Sure enough, it drifted into a tiny "doghole" adjacent to Saddle Point, near the town of Albion, where it "refused to wash ashore," according to Yarman. He knows that the area of the cove where Catalyst currently hovers is 28 feet deep, so he assumes that the boat’s broken mast is holding her in place, serendipitously preventing her from breaking up on the rocky shore.

Both we and Yarman unsuccessfully attempted to contact owner Kristy Lugert yesterday to give her the good news — Yarman says both hulls appear to be unholed and in excellent shape. But we’ve learned since that Lugert was informed of the location by the Coast Guard yesterday. Apparently someone else in the area saw the boat and called 911, assuming that the capsize had just occurred. That call launched the Coasties into action again temporarily, until they realized it was the same, unmanned vessel. (The Coast Guard’s mandate is to save lives, not property.)

We understand that Lugert is a substantially experienced sailor and instructor, so hopefully she’s checked the weather forecast — that’s the bad news. A new weather system is due to arrive Saturday morning and, according to Yarman, "it will come from the direction of the opening of that lovely cove." 

If the overturned cat can’t be rescued today, Yarman suspects she will be washed through the arch at left, and pummeled to pieces.

© Greg Yarman

As we write this, Yarman and his neighbors are standing by, ready to help with the tricky salvage operation. (He can be contacted here.) We certainly hope the mission can be accomplished within this short weather window, so this story will have a happy ending.

For all you catamaran afficionados out there, we’re curious if anyone can I.D. this 32-ft boat’s maker by her underbody: She has short fixed keels, no daggerboards and spade rudders. Email us if you know.

‘Monkey’ Regulates on Pac Cup Fleet

The Satellite Tracker for the ’10 Pacific Cup shows that Trunk Monkey has taken advantage of a freshening breeze to become the closest boat to Hawaii. (Click on the photo to go to the tracker)

© 2010

Jody and Skip McCormack’s Farr 30 Trunk Monkey is currently in the process of putting one of its namesake’s signature beat-downs on the doublehanded and crewed divisions that started the ’10 Pacific Cup on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The husband and wife team celebrated their honeymoon during the last edition of the race — oddly enough, prior to getting married on Kaneohe Bay’s Sand Bar after the finish — aboard Peter Stoneberg and Mark Jones’ TP 52 Flash. This year they’re doublehanding Monkey, which they purchased and retrofitted expressly for the race. According to today’s sked, the duo is already putting up some good numbers as the breeze seems to have picked up all across the race course. Trunk Monkey is the closest boat to Hawaii by a 16-mile margin — situated toward the middle of extreme north-south split among the boats who’ve already started.

Jack Taylor’s Dana Point-based SC 50 Horizon goes to duck Buzz Blackett’s Antrim Class 40 California Condor just past the Gate after yesterday’s Division D start.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Today’s sked was published just prior to this posting and it would appear that all the boats are moving now after a frustratingingly light and lumpy few days. Thankfully the boats’ ETAs have receded from around August 1 back to July 20 as they’ve picked up speed.

Resplendent with sweet graphics, California Condor powers out the Gate.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The southerly boats seem to be in good shape, and as of yesterday’s sked were leading their respective divisions. Divison D started yesterday, and it seems as if that group has had better luck with the breeze so far, claiming the top eight overall spots ahead of Trunk Monkey, with Wayne Zittel’s SC 50 T J/World’s Hula Girl leading the division.

Tom Condy’s Schumacher 50 Cinnabar led Division D past Pt. Bonita yesterday.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It should be an interesting few days with the weather forecast for a 5- to 15-knot southwesterly clocking to a northwesterly for Saturday’s starters’ first couple days. Saturday marks the final Pac Cup start and features some of the most blinged-out boats in the fleet, so if you’ve got the time, head out there for the 2:30 p.m. start off the Cityfront. The division leaders so far are:

Doublehanded 1 —  Moonshine, Dog Patch 26, Dylan Benjamin/Rufus Sjoberg
Doublehanded 2Trunk Monkey, Farr 30, Jody and Skip McCormack
Division ANancy, Wyliecat 30, Pat Broderick
Division BSweet Okole, Farr 36, Dean Treadway
Division CSummer Moon, Synergy 1000, Joshua Grass
Division DJ/World’s Hula Girl, SC 50 T, Wayne Zittel

Hurry to Cuba While It’s Still Illegal

If you’re one of those Americans who has always dreamed of cruising to Cuba, in part because the U.S. says it’s illegal for citizens to travel there, you might want to act fast because that opportunity may not last much longer.

Ever since 1959, when Casto took power in Cuba and nationalized the holdings of U.S. investors, then later tried to import nukes from Russia, it’s essentially been illegal to travel to Cuba because of the Treasury Department’s prohibition against "trading with the enemy". That prohibition was ignored by many cruisers — including ourselves — during the Clinton Administration. When George Bush came into office, he promised to prosecute everyone he could for going to Cuba, so that was the end of U.S. boats going to Cuba. But with a progessive President Obama in office, it would be egg all over his philosophical face if the Treasury Department went after Americans traveling wherever the heck they wanted. As a result, two former Baja Ha-Ha participants have cruised to Cuba in the last several months. While they reported not seeing many other American boats, the numbers are sure to increase.

While many of Havana’s old buildings are in dire need of repair, others have been carefully maintained such as La Floridita bar, an favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway that’s said to make the best mojitos in the world!

© Roger Davis

And it may even become legal to cruise Cuba before too long. For the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enchancement Act made it out of the House Agricultural Committee last week and will soon be brought before the entire House. The embarassment is that the real motivator behind a possible change is not recognizing that Americans should be able to travel where they want, but rather the lust for cold hard cash. You see, U.S. farmers sold $700 million worth of food to Cuba — 40% of all they imported — last year. But because of U.S. red tape and other nonsense, U.S. farmers — and the U.S. — are starting to lose out to Canada and Brazil.

While the bill is moving forward, there is no guarantee that it will be passed. After all, it made it out of committee by a vote of 25 to 20, which is hardly an overwhelming margin. And the Florida anti-Commie lobby sure doesn’t want to see the legislation passed.

Caribbean marine biologists tell us that lobster is more prolific than in any other part of the Caribbean. Why? Because protective habitats are created for young crustaceans, and because most Cubans can’t afford the gas to get them far from shore.

© Roger Davis

For all those who have fantasized about how great cruising in Cuba might be, you probably need a dose of reality as to what life is like in totalitarian countries. Here in the States, the basic rule is you can do whatever you want unless it’s specifically prohibited. In Cuba and other totalitarian countries, it’s just the opposite. Unless something is specifically permitted by the state, you have to assume that it’s illegal. For all those who bellyache about the lack of freedom in the United States, a cruise to Cuba would be a monumental eye-opener on how restrictive governments can be. Lots of Americans also don’t seem to appreciate how impoverished Cuba is. We’re not sure if Cuban girls and women are still knocking on hulls at the Hemingway International Marina just outside of Havana offering sex in return for as little as a bar of soap, but the poverty was that bad during the Clinton Administration and the situation hasn’t improved that much since then.

For a good insight on the current state of affairs in Cuba, check out Greg Dorland’s report from the May issue of Latitude, and Roger Davis’ two-part report on bareboat chartering there, in our June and July editions.

Harker Thanks Everyone for Their Concern

Solo circumnavigator Mike Harker of the Manhattan Beach-based Hunter 49 Wanderlust 3 reports that he’s recovering nicely from the terrible beating he received from two thieves who boarded his boat in Simpson Lagoon in the middle of St. Martin/Sint Maarten in the Eastern Caribbean. He also wants to thank the more than 200 ‘Lectronic readers who were kind enough to send him expressions of support and good wishes. It meant a lot to him. If his recovery continues apace, Harker will soon be headed down to Grenada to get out of the hurricane zone. We’ll have more on the story in the August issue of Latitude.

BMW Oracle Racing and the Golden Gate YC announced today that San Francisco Bay is the only American venue under consideration to host the 34th match for the America’s Cup.