Dutch 15-year-old Laura Dekker arrived at Simpson Bay Lagoon on St. Martin on Monday, 18 days after leaving the 2,200-mile distant Cape Verde Islands aboard her 37-ft Jeanneau Gin Fizz Guppy. It was longest leg to date of her proposed two-year solo circumnavigation. If she makes it as planned, she will become the youngest person to sail around the world alone. Interestingly, Dekker wrote in her blog that she believes she’s the youngest person to sail solo and unassisted across the Atlantic, but that honor still belongs to then-14-year-old Mike Perham, who later went on to become the youngest solo circumnavigator until Jessica Watson snatched the record from him in May. Dekker says she will most likely cruise the area for a bit, then make her way toward the Panama Canal for an April or May transit.
Meanwhile, 68-year-old Jeanne Socrates has fixed the nagging autopilot and windvane issues that have plagued her Najad 380 Nereida from the beginning of her nonstop circumnavigation attempt back on October 25. "We’ve started making good speed with the increased wind," she wrote on her blog. "The pole was removed and the genoa brought to leeward, although the pole might be needed again quite soon — we’re on a very broad reach in a W-WNW wind — in order to make our course for Cape Horn." She reports that winds are forecast to strengthen over the next few days, peaking at 40 knots or so, but that they should die down for Christmas Day.
We received the following note from Dobie Dolphin about beleagured Tenacatita Bay, the four-mile by four-mile bay on mainland Mexico’s Gold Coast between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, and just north of Barra Navidad:
"As many of you know, on August 4, villagers, land owners, and tourists were forcibly evicted from their restaurants, homes, and palapas on Tenacatita Beach by a wealthy land developer, with the help of the governor of the state of Jalisco. Since then, security forces have been illegally blocking the federal highway that leads to Tenacatita. We’ve been told the beach will open before December 25.
"I’m writing to invite anyone in the area to a peaceful picnic at Tenacatita this December 27 starting from the town of El Rebalsito at 9 a.m. We’re asking people to wear red, white or green, and to carry a Mexican flag (if possible). We’ll be on the part of the beach owned by the federal government — 20 meters from the high tide line — where Mexicans and tourists are given the right to free access. Foreigners who are a little apprehensive can show support by anchoring their boats in the bay. If you’ve enjoyed jungle rides through the mangroves, snorkeling in ‘the aquarium’, eating delicious seafood, and the friendliness and hospitality of the people of El Rebalsito and Tenacatita, please come show your support.
"For the safety of all involved, no alcoholic beverages will be permitted. For more information, write to Dobie."
In Monday’s posting we published the remarkable photo (below) of former San Diego sailor Brenda Manceau standing proudly next to a massive yellowfin tuna that’s she’d supposedly caught in a recent tournament in Tonga. And we posed the question to readers: "Is it authentic or Photoshopped?"
The answers that poured in via email were fascinating. Some readers seemed to be absolutely certain that the photo was a fake, while others seemed equally sure that it was real. Samples:
"I think you have a photo shopped fish there. I was looking at the handle on the rod and reel. It looks a little bent up to me." — Bill Legget
"The only distinct shadows in the photo are on the building in the background, indicating that the sun was behind and to the left of the photographer. There should be corresponding shadows from the fisherperson and the fish (behind them and to their left), but they’re absent." — Bill Crowley
"I think it is a real yellow fin. Caught one close to that size on my boat back in ’98 on the way to Fiji from Hawaii." — Andy Kurtz
"Authentic is my vote. The shadow of the fish on the lady, her hand on the fin, and the front of her all wet from the fight lead me to believe this is real." — Glenn M. Kotara
"My vote is for neither really. I think the picture is not altered, but the shot is not exactly authentic either. It looks like it is what I’ve heard referred to as a ‘forced perspective’ shot — a photo optical illusion. If you look at the building in the background and the table to the right of the frame, you see their angles are distorted. This tells me that it was shot with a significantly wide-angle lens which can play tricks with the relative sizes of things in the foreground and background. . . The final tip-off is the dorsal fin. The dorsal and pectoral fins are about the same size on those fish, but look in the picture. The dorsal is in her hand and is much shorter. I think that’s because it is pulled back toward her, confirming she is a bit further back from the fish than the photo makes her look. So I vote that the combination of the angle of view from below, the deceptive distances between subjects, and the wide angle lens, is what makes the fish look so big." — Tim McCormick
Wow! That’s a pretty weighty analysis, so to speak. The truth is, our friend Brenda — who runs a whale watching business in Tonga called Endangered Encounters — did catch that 150-lb yellowfin all by herself on 80-lb line. "It must have been my lucky Latitude hat!" she says. And, no, that’s not Photoshopped in either.
Our favorite caption for the shot was sent in by Brian Timpe of Seattle (who will receive some ‘official’ Latitude swag for his wit: So the tuna says, “I was just hanging around and I caught this woman with a fishing pole – she’s almost as big as I am!”
Runners-up included Ed Bell: “I now pronounce you. . . !” And Carl Mischka: "Brenda finally has the big one she has been looking for."