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January 24, 2011

Pineapple Found

The Philippine Coast Guard debriefs the crew, looking tanned and otherwise unscathed.

© 2011 Philippine Coast Guard

Every experienced sailor knows that sailing on a schedule is a risky prospect, especially when the voyage covers a long distance. When family members don’t hear from their loved ones by their estimated arrival date, worry sets in. And if the boat lacks long-distance radios or satphones, there’s no way for its crew to tell shoreside contacts that they’re alive and well.

Such was the case with the ‘mysterious disappearance’ of the 38-ft catamaran Pineapple. News outlets around the world picked up the story that the boat with five Americans aboard was a few days overdue after a 1,500-mile passage from Guam to Cebu in the Philippines. We ran a short item in Friday’s ‘Lectronic, as we often do when we receive a report about overdue vessels, but why the international media became so interested was the real mystery.

The delivery crew of Pineapple ran into some rough weather that damaged their rudder, but caused no injuries.

© 2011 Philippine Coast Guard

Both the Philippine and U.S. Coast Guards spent several days searching for the cat with no result. On Sunday, the lone female crewmember aboard Pineapple was able to make a cell phone call to her husband with the news that the boat had sustained a damaged rudder in rough weather, so the crew used the boom to create a makeshift emergency rudder. This, of course, decreased their speed, but they reported that they were never in serious danger. Pineapple reportedly made it into port today under her own power with her delivery crew safely aboard.

After they were found, the crew’s names were released: Joe Gamec, Prandy Pratz, Steven Blanton, Chris Bell, and Corey Goldhorn — who just happens to be the son of Major General Donald J. Goldhorn, former Adjutant General of the Guam National Guard. We assume that solves the ‘mystery’ of why the international press gave the case so much attention. In any case, we’re all relieved that they arrived safely.

Banque Populaire V Charges Ahead

Over the weekend Banque Populaire V began an attempt on the Jules Verne record. Pascal Bidégorry’s 131-ft monster passed the Ushant lighthouse just after 11 a.m. local time on Saturday. They need to return in a little over 1.5 months to beat Franck Cammas’ benchmark of 48d, 7h, 45m aboard Groupama 3. So far, the weather has been favorable, propelling the big blue and white beast to a lead of around 170 miles over Groupama‘s reference time for this part of the course. BP V‘s 14-man crew put up 717 miles in their first day, and reached the latitude of Madeira in under 48 hours. Although there’s some question about the weather outlook as they get further south, Cammas himself has said that he feels that BP V will have a good run as far as Cape Town.

A look at the difference between Banque Populaire V’s course in pink, and Groupama 3’s in green.

Banque Populaire V
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For now, Spanish navigator and Volvo vet Juan Vila, and shoreside router Marcel van Triest will have to negotiate a tradewinds-killing low in the neighborhood of the Canary Islands. Above decks, Bidégorry and watch captains Yvan Ravussin, Fred Le Peutrec and Jérémie Beyou will have to keep the other nine crew — Brian Thompson, Thierry Chabagny, Pierre-Yves Moreau, Emmanuel Le Borgne, Erwan Tabarly, Ronan Lucas, Kevin Escoffier, Xavier Revil, Florent Chastel — charging hard. You can follow their progress on the English side of their website, but if your French is any good, you’ll find a lot more info on the French side.

Although this photo is from their trans-Med record last May, it gives you an idea of what the 131-ft monster has been doing so far in their record attempt.

© Benoit Stichelbaut BPCE

Beware of Rogue Coasties

On Friday we brought you the bizarre story of the ‘naked ninja’ thief who painted his entire body black and boarded the Bear Valley-based Shock Wave 42 cat Green Flash, which was moored off Cartegena, Colombia.

As wacky as that story was, the ninja’s intended victims, David and Bee Pettingill, tell us they have an even more remarkable tale to share concerning their recent stay at Cartegena:

"A few days before the naked thief boarded, cruisers were reporting boardings and inspections by the Colombian Coast Guard. One of the patrol boat crews was seriously misbehaving — drinking, drunk, and stealing. Tabbycat lost two cameras and an iPod. The boat Imagine lost cash from a wallet that was in a pair of pants. When Bob on Viva refused to let the suspicious officers board, they asked for beer, money and cigarettes because it was Christmas or their birthday. And there were lots of other incidents.

"These problems were reported through Paola (of the Cartagena Caribbean Marine Agency) to the Port Captain, who sent three ranking members out in a dinghy to interview those who had problems, including me. A few days later, a Coast Guard Patrol boat returned an iPod to Tabbycat with one of the guilty party in the boat. All problems with boarding stopped. It appears to have been the work of one crew gone rogue," says David.  

The lessons learned that David and Bee would like to share:

  • A patrol boat in Cartagena cannot board you; you are not on the high seas.
  • To board you in the harbor they must have a search warrant and an Inspector  on board.
  • Make anyone wearing a uniform that boards your boat sign your log.
  • Get the number of the patrol boat.
  • Take pictures of them and the patrol boat.
  • If you have any problems in Cartagena Harbor call Port Control on 16, or on the telephone. Not the police; not the Coast Guard.  

Although the Pettingills says that "almost 40 dinghies, worth about $200,000 U.S. dollars, were stolen last year," they stress that there was no violence associated with those thefts. They loved their stay at Cartagena and would recommend it to others. 

"Big, big kudos to Paola and Yesika of Cartagena Caribbean Marine Agency, who do your entry papers. All these problems were reported through them to the Port Captain. Paola organized meetings between the Port Captain and the cruisers that had problems.

"Paola and Yesika are energetic agents who will come out to your boat when you arrive, take your papers and bring them back to your boat for you. What a concept. Both Paola and Yesika are Colombian women married to gringos with boats. They both have lots of sea time, speak perfect English, have college degrees — and they’re both beautiful. Their office is aboard the custom 52-ft cat Little Wing, a beautiful carbon-fiber cat docked in Club Nautico (formerly of San Diego)."

New Megayacht for Ellison

Larry Ellison, whose 100-ft trimaran USA won the America’s Cup, and who is bringing the ‘Auld Mug’ to San Francisco, has a new 288-ft motoryacht. He’s actually downsizing.

As most readers remember, a few years ago Ellison commissioned the 452-ft Rising Sun. It turns out that there is such a thing as too big a yacht. The 82-stateroom Rising Sun reportedly had all the charm of a empty shopping mall, and, in any event, was so big that she had to be docked next to oil tankers or anchored way offshore. There is no way the yacht, for example, could fit into glamorous harbors such as Antibes. And what fun was it being out of the spotlight?

So a couple of years ago, Ellison sold 50% interest to David Geffen, a similarly brilliant businessman, but one who started by managing the likes of folk singer Joni Mitchell. Geffen, according to reliable sources, bought the rest of Ellison’s ownership a few months ago.

Larry Ellison’s new ‘downsized’ yacht, Musashi.

© Feadship

Ellison’s new yacht, named Musashi, is the largest Feadship has ever built, and presumably the most expensive. It was launched late last year. The name Musashi comes from 16th century samurai Miyamoto Musashi, who wrote poems and was a celebrated warrior. Ellision says he considers himself to be a ‘new age samurai’. Like him or not, he certainly has been successful.

Ellison owns a $40 million Japanese-built, Zen-like home in Atherton, and last year purchased Beechwood — not Bushwood — the old Vanderbilt estate in Newport, Rhode Island, for something in the range of $10.5 million. It helped generate speculation that the America’s Cup might go to Newport rather than San Francisco.

Zihua Sail Fest is a fantastic annual event that’s not only fun for cruisers but helps the neediest of kids.
The Phillipine and U.S. Coast Guards are searching for the 38-ft catamaran Pineapple, which left Guam two weeks ago headed for the island of Cebu.
In Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic we challenged our readers to name our new logowear model, and boy were they happy to help — we received nearly 200 suggestions!