In one of the closest finishes to date in the Velux 5 Oceans Race, American Brad Van Liew and his Eco 60 Le Pingouin extended their streak of leg wins to four. The 43-year-old Southern California native finished just 12.5 hours ahead of Canadian Derek Hatfield’s Active House after a 5,900-mile leg from Punta Del Este to Van Liew’s adopted hometown of Charleston.
"For me, winning this leg is so special," Van Liew said. "If I could have chosen just one leg to win it would have been this one. This is my home port, I am very involved in the maritime community in Charleston and all my friends and family are here. It would have been pretty disappointing to have won the previous leg and not this one. I was very focused and very determined. I feel delirious and exhausted — it was a heck of a leg."
Van Liew is the only American to race around Cape Horn three times, and since winning Class II with straight bullets in the ’02 Around Alone, he’s served as the director of the South Carolina Maritime Museum. Canadian Derek Hatfield pushed Van Liew hard, ultimately becoming the first sailor in the race to take one of the mid-leg time trials from the latter.
We sometimes describe our publication as a "regional magazine that’s outgrown its regionality," as Latitude 38 is now read by a dedicated tribe of sailing news junkies all over the world. But it wasn’t until last week that we realized Latitude‘s reach had extended deep into the Panamanian rain forest.
Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, we have to admit that we don’t know how much of our March edition these Embera Indians actually read, because most of them don’t even speak Spanish let alone English. Theirs is a fascinating culture which has changed little since Vasco de Balboa explored their primeval jungle habitat nearly 500 years ago.
As you’ll read in an upcoming edition of the magazine, cruising sailors passing through Panama sometimes travel up the Chagres River basin by dugout canoe to visit isolated tribes of Embera. While there, friendly villagers entertain their foreign visitors with traditional dances, feed them ancient dishes derived from forest resources, and sell them handicrafts such as carvings and beadwork.
Supplied by a massive watershed, the mightly Chagres flows through the Embera’s densely forested world en route to Gatun Lake, which supplies a seemingly endless supply of water to the Panama Canal. We’re told that each "lockage" requires 52 million gallons!
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Friday is the internationally recognized day to celebrate Mother Earth. The irony is that while most of the Earth Day celebrations this weekend will be held on dry land, 70% of the planet is covered in wet stuff. Naturally, it makes sense to us that folks take to the water to commemorate the day — if you do, make a little extra effort to fish out at least one piece of floating trash while you’re out there.
Saturday is a busy day with three different boaters swap meets: Stockton Sailing Club, Martinez Marina, and Sausalito West Marine. All three start at 8 a.m., but the one in Sausalito is being held in conjunction with Marinship Day, which runs till 3 p.m. The event will feature food, music and a prize raffle to benefit the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center.
Sunday, of course, is Easter, so stock up your boat with chocolate bunnies and head over to Angel Island for a ‘Spring Sphere’ hunt, or just get out of the slip for the day.