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October 11, 2010

Fleet Week Ends With a Boom

Too close for comfort! Jeff Berman snapped this shot of a Blue Angel through the rigging of his Catalina 36 Perseverance. “It was LOUD,” he said.

© 2010 Jeff Berman

Fleet Week couldn’t have ended on a more perfect weekend. Saturday and Sunday were mild, relatively windless days — ideal for the fantastic show the Blue Angels put on as a finale to the week’s festivities.

If you were watching the show from Pacific Heights, like Paige Brooks was, you had a fantastic view!

© 2010 Paige Brooks

Seemingly every boat on the Bay came out either Saturday or Sunday and staged under the prime viewing area just off Alcatraz. Some of us chose less congested spots, such as Clipper Cove, and while the show wasn’t as impressive as if we’d been on the main Bay, the fly-bys  — which included a couple sonic booms — still rattled our fillings!

Those of us in Clipper Cove may have missed the more acrobatic parts of the show, but they fly-bys were still impressive.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
“Jimmy, pass the Windex. I just puked on my ceiling.”

© 2010 Paige Brooks

But hoards of wake-producing boats can cause problems for others a little lower to the water. "After watching the fantastic Blue Angels on Sunday aboard our Hunter 33 Concord, we were headed back to Brisbane Marina," said Frank Solinsky. "We’d been passed by the mass exodus of powerboats when we noticed a kayak and two people in the water under the Bay Bridge. We stopped to help them and discovered they had been swamped in the huge wakes of the stampede. We got them out of the water — they had been in 10 minutes or so and were pretty cold — and called for their rescue on channel 16. The SFPD came out and picked up ‘two wet souls and all the parts’ and took them back to Pier 40. What was particularly disturbing was that two USCG Auxiliary boats passed right by the overturned kayakers. But all’s well that ends well, I guess."

The Coast Guard and CG Auxiliary strictly enforced the no-go zones.

© 2010 USCG / PO3 Levi Read

We congratulate — and thank — anyone who’s had the opportunity to rescue an accidental swimmer; you’ll read about more in upcoming editions of ‘Lectronic and in the November issue of Latitude 38.

The Rest of the Story

When the massive 8.8 earthquake struck Chile last February, triggering a huge tsunami, the British-flagged sloop Zephyrus was the only boat anchored in Cumberland Bay on Robinson Crusoe island, which lies roughly 400 miles off the Chilean coast.

They met while doing research in Antarctica, and decided to cruise the world together. Little did they know they’d experience such a calamity at their first offshore destination.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

When the first massive wave washed under Zephyrus in the middle of the night, owners Rhian Salmon, 35, and Andy Whittaker, 36, were awakened by the sound of water rushing rapidly past their hull, but they initially had no idea what was happening. They had heard no warnings of any sort.

In the darkness, the couple began making out the shapes of all sorts of rubble in the water, then heard the screams of desperate people. Eventually a 14-year-old boy floated by and they were able to rescue him. Then whole houses drifted past, one of which got hung up on Zephyrus’ forestay. Later, Andy had to fend off an unmanned Naval cutter which had gone adrift after the whole station got wiped. 

Yup, it’s quite a story. Luckily Andy and Rhian lived to tell it. In fact, we got the full blow-by-blow version on tape recently when we ran into this bright-eyed young couple in Tonga. What makes the whole tale that much more remarkable, is that this was Rhian’s first ocean adventure — and to her credit, she didn’t jump ship at the first opportunity afterward. We’ll share all the details an the upcoming edition of Latitude 38.

Readers Respond to Norm Goldie

As one might expect, we got quite a bit of response to the long and rambling letter in Friday’s ‘Lectronic that Norm Goldie of San Blas insisted that we publish.

Norm Goldie of San Blas, who claims to have “personally” saved the lives of “numerous hundreds” of mariners.

© 2010 Arjan Bok

We warned Norm that the letter would reflect badly on him, but he didn’t care, saying he had "big shoulders." Well, we hope he has big enough shoulders to withstand what everyone is dumping on him, because there wasn’t a single letter in his defense. The following is a selection of letters we received:

"Publishing that wacky diatribe by Norm Goldie is the most damaging thing you could have done to him. What a complete nut-bag! I loved the part where he calls you names, then say he wants to ‘re-establish his friendship’ with Latitude." — Dan Weyant

"When Latitude asked Norm Goldie for some kind of documentation to verify his suspicious claim that he’s an official representative of the Mexican government, the American’s reply was right out of the great Humphrey Bogart movie Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which was set in Mexico. ‘Badges. What badges? We don’t have to show you no stinkin’ badges!’ I almost wet my pants." — Cathy Anson

The estuary at San Blas, as seen from the Singlar Marina fuel dock looking out toward the bar and open ocean.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"In his letter in ‘Lectronic, Norm Goldie claims that he is very proud to have ‘personally saved the lives of numerous hundreds of fishermen and boaters.’ If he could provide Latitude with the names of just the first 100, I would be inclined to put more credence in his other claims."  — Jason Waston

"For all these years, our West Marine ads have helped pay for Latitude paper and ink, and our stores have played a role in Latitude‘s distribution strategy. But now, after reading Norm Goldie’s whistle-blowing missive, I learn that the publisher of Latitude has apparently aged to resemble Rosie O’Donnell — and spews misinformation at a rate that can only be matched by our favorite politicans. I guess we were misinformed." — Geoff Eisenberg, CEO, West Marine.

Some of the longer letters, by cruisers who have had more personal experiences with Norm, will appear in the November issue of Latitude 38. But please, no more letters, we’ve had enough of this subject for at least another year. As for those of you who wrote in to say that you will now avoid San Blas because of Norm Goldie, no, no, please no, don’t do that. San Blas is a great place, Norm is all bark and no bite. If you’re not interested in his assistance, tell him, and if he continues to annoy you, report him to the Port Captain or the Department of Tourism. You won’t be the first.

It’s time once again for Fleet Week! While that means there’ll be cool stuff like air shows by the Blue Angels and war ship parades and tours, it also means that the Coast Guard has set aside some space for all this to take place.
Every winter and spring, westbound sailboats from all over the world converge on Panama, which makes it an ideal spot for us to host a Pacific Puddle Jump Kickoff Party.