April 13, 2011

Freak Weather in Baja

This photo was shot on Saturday, not in Alaska, but in Baja California!

© 2011 Lou Freeman

"I was enjoying a weather window for the last leg of my fourth singlehanded Baja Bash earlier this month aboard my Swan 51 Seabird," Dr. Lou Freeman writes. "Gribs and reports from weather guru Don Anderson were in accord with light winds forecast for the run from San Quintin to San Diego. But off Cabo Colnett, the sky began to look ugly. Since I had a cell phone connection, I called my son and daughter-in-law in San Diego and asked them to email me all the weather info that they could get — ASAP. I told them that I was getting very nervous with the sky and I didn’t care if they were going to bed or what!

Thar she blows! You know you’re going to get spanked when the weather shows up on radar.

© 2011 Lou Freeman

"Squalls soon began to appear on the radar with slightly increased breezes, some rain and unwelcome lightning flashes. About 9:30 p.m., I got a weather warning that my daughter-in-law Jean had emailed to me. I passed the report on to two boats traveling north in company — Going South and Marionetto — and we settled into a late night and early morning period of squalls and shifting breezes.

The weather forecast for that day said “Cold upper level low will continue to bring scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms capable of producing gusty winds, small hail, brief heavy rains and potential for water spouts over the coastal waters.”

© 2011 Lou Freeman

"At 3:30 a.m., I went up to drive because the shifting winds required constant tacking and course adjustments. Fifteen minutes later, it got colder and the hail came down. I was under the bimini so it took a moment to figure out that this was hard rain! I looked down and was standing in three inches of icy slush in full foul weather gear and boat shoes without socks. It was over in less than 30 minutes but seemed much longer. Weather has no respect for the Mexican border! By dawn, as we passed Todos Santos, it was clearing up and life looked much better."

The following morning dawned bright and clear for Dr. Lou. He’s now safe and sound back in San Diego.

© 2011 Lou Freeman

Tsunami Debris Heading East

Sailors en route to or from the Hawaiian Islands have always had to keep a sharp eye out for shipping traffic, migrating whales and runaway containers, but they’ll soon have another — potentially more ominous — hazard to deal with. Researchers predict that in roughly a year all sorts of floating debris from the recent Japanese tsunami will begin showing up on Hawaiian beaches, and within three years some of the rubble — which currently includes trees, boats, cars, construction materials and toxic chemicals — will make its way to the beaches along the west coast of North America.

Both long-haul cruisers and Hawaii racers are already beginning to worry about encountering tsunami debris, most of which will probably end up in the North Pacific Garbage Patch eventually.

© 2011 PRI

Scientists at the International Pacific Research Center of the University of Hawaii have developed a theoretical drift model based on the behavior of drifting buoys deployed for years in the ocean. Their study indicates that much of the debris will probably eventually find its way into the so-called North Pacific Garbage Patch where it will circulate for years before breaking into small fragments. This is sad news indeed — as it Mother Ocean didn’t have enough ‘health’ issues to deal with already.

Why is This Crew Smiling?

Why is this crew smiling? Because they’re headed to the sunny isles of Tahiti with the 2011 Pacific Puddle Jump fleet aboard the fast, comfy MacGregor 65 Braveheart.

“Oh yeah, goin’ to Tahiti!”

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

You may have noticed that skipper Bob Callaway seems especially pleased. And no wonder, instead of recruiting a couple of big smelly guys to crew for him on the 3,000-mile passage, he shanghaiied Jennifer Martindale and Debbie Jahn, after the trio got acquainted during last fall’s Baja Ha-Ha rally.

If you followed our reports on that event, you’ll recall that Jen and Debbie were members of the wild and crazy crew of Moontide, a Long Beach-based Lagoon 470 cat. At the rally’s annual costume kickoff party, owner Bill Lilly took on the persona of Hugh Hefner, while Jen, Debbie and several others played the role of his bunnies — and they all had so much fun clowning around together that they stayed ‘in character’ throughout the trip. 

Were these crew members sexually exploited? Nah. They were just clowning around and having a whole lot of fun in the process.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It remains to be seen whether or not Cap’n Bob will require his crew to wear clip-on bunny ears while watch-standing. But it’s a safe bet that this crew’s crossing will be as much fun as it is fast.

"They are both excellent crew," says Bob. "Jennifer is going to practice her skills as navigator — including practice with the sextant — while Debbie and I cook gourmet meals along the way. We are hoping that Braveheart will make the passage from La Cruz to Hiva Oa in 18 days."

We look forward to hearing all about it and sharing the highlights with you in our Puddle Jump Recap article later this summer. At this writing, many Puddle Jump boats are en route, and some have already arrived safely in the Marquesas. See the website for our complete fleet list.

Delta Doo Dah vets Erik and Brian Jones of the Berkeley-based Glastron Spirit 28 Sizzle were honored with US Sailing’s Hanson Rescue Medal last week for their role in rescuing two Bay sailors on July 19, 2009.
Few things will get you more pumped up about sailing on the Bay and beyond than a visit to Strictly Sail Pacific — the West Coast’s largest sail-only boat show.