Monday, September 29, 2008

Falcon Arrives in SF

The Maltese Falcon, believed to be one of the world’s largest yachts, arrived in San Francisco Bay this weekend. The giant 289 foot yacht, owned by entrepreneur Tom Perkins, is arguably one of the most talked about boats in recent history. The main controversy stems over whether or not it is the largest yacht, but it certainly is one of the world’s largest symbols of wealth.

Perkins has been vague on the actual cost of building the ship, stating that it was somewhere between $150 and $300 million. He found the hull for the ship, which is steel, in Turkey, and the behemoth took several years to construct. A crew of twenty is needed to operate the ship, but Perkins has stated that one person could operate it. Despite it’s huge size, there are only accommodations for twelve guests. The rest of the space is taken up by a model Maserati, a media room that would defy even the best on land and many other luxurious features.

The public had a rare chance to get inside the Maltese Falcon earlier this year, when it was listed for sale for $169 million, but it was quickly taken off the market. The ship also briefly did a stint as a charter yacht, where you could rent it for the cool sum of $550k a week.

The Maltese Falcon will easily be visible in the Bay when it arrives, and is in the area to take part in a few events hosted by the San Francisco Yacht Club. Perkins planned to sail out to meet the ship in his other yacht, which is 122 feet long. He will board there and then sail around the Bay a few times.

Perkins is the author of Sex and the Single Zillionaire: A Novel, as well as his memoir, Valley Boy: The Education of Tom Perkins. He rose to prominence in the 1980’s, after having been mentored by two of the greatest names in Valley history, David Packard and William Hewett mentored him. He was once married to the novelist Danielle Steele, but as the title of his latest book suggests, he is now single.

The ship’s main competition, in terms of overall size is the Athena, owned by Barry Diller and James Walker. While the Athena is larger in dock, experts claim that the Maltese Falcon is longer in the water. There are few ships that can claim to come close to Falcon, and the ones that do reportedly take into account their bowsprits when calculating length, but this practice is frowned upon in yachting.

The Maltese Falcon will remain in the San Francisco Bay briefly before resuming its trek around the world. Captained by Chris Gartner, the ship has sailed from Turkey, where it was recently completed two years ago. Numerous celebrities and people of note have stayed on board, and many are looking forward to greeting the ship as it arrives in the Bay this weekend. It is not often that residents are greeted with such a historic site.

For pics of the arrival, click here.

Tanker Surfing

Winged Man Does the Channel

DOVER, England - A Swiss daredevil crossed the English Channel strapped to a homemade jet-propelled wing Friday, parachuting into a field near the white cliffs of Dover after a 10-minute solo flight.

Yves Rossy leapt from a plane at more than 8,800 feet, fired up his jets and made the 22-mile trip from Calais in France. Rossy passed over a thin strip of land in front of South Foreland lighthouse, looped over onlookers and opened his parachute, his wings still strapped to his back.

"It was perfect. Blue sky, sunny, no clouds, perfect conditions," he said. "We prepared everything and it was great."

The trip across the Channel is meant to trace the route of French aviator Louis Bleriot, the first person to cross in an airplane 99 years ago.

The lighthouse was the site of Guglielmo Marconi's experiments with radio telegraphy in 1898. Bleriot used the white building as a target during his pioneering flight, the building's manager, Simon Ovenden, said.

Several hundred spectators rushed to greet the pilot, trying to take photographs with cameras and cell phones.

"It's a remarkable achievement, we saw the climax of his attempt as he came down to earth with his parachute. It's been an exciting afternoon," said Geoff Clark, a 54-year-old onlooker from Chatham, in Kent.

The carbon composite-wing weighs about 121 pounds when loaded with fuel, and carried four kerosene-burning jet turbines that kept him aloft. The wing had no steering devices — Rossy moved his body to control its movements.

He wore a heat-resistant suit similar to that worn by firefighters and racing drivers to protect him from the heat of the turbines. The cooling effect of the wind and high altitude also prevented him from getting too hot.

Mark Dale, the senior technical officer for the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, described Rossy's flight as a "fabulous stunt."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pic of the Week

A temple in Bali. Click the pic for a larger view.

50th Birthday!

Today I am turning 50! This is a milestone in a man's life. A turning point where we reflect on the past and look forward to the future. The great news is, my health is awesome as I started a dedicated workout ritual about 6 years ago. I run every morning in the hills for about an hour. It's actually called wogging (walking and jogging). I run up some very steep, tuff hills and then I walk down the hill to the next hill and repeat 8 or so times. I am 6'6" so it's important not to pound the knees and in running up hill, I am stepping up into the hill. Plus the park offers an overview of our beautiful bay and all the major peaks in the area. In the afternoon or evening, I head to the pool for a mile swim with interval training that I did throughout my swimming career all they way through college on the swim team. Then some days I will finish with a bike ride. If you are approaching 50 or past it, I recommend a book called "Younger Next Year" by Chris Crowley. It's a fascinating look at how our bodies age and how you can turn back the clock with exercising 6 days a week with a combination of cardio, weight training and anaerobic exercise. Well written and very interesting.

As far as sailing, I have a ton of great adventures ahead of me. After my son heads off to college, I hope to take a two year voyage to New Zealand and Australia on a well founded sailboat. Prior to that, I will be doing the Baja Haha, coastal passages and trips to the BVI's as well as other cruising destinations. I leave on Sunday to head up towards the delta to bring our boat back from a month stay up in the Isleton area. It will be a two day trip with an overnight in Vallejo. I have two friends joining me so it should be a fun trip.

I have lots to look forward to in my next 50 years and tons to be thankful for in my first 50 years!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Prepare to be Boarded!

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day! Started about 8 years ago it has caught on in a big way! To help you celebrate, here are the top 10 pirate pick up lines:

10 . Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why my Roger is so Jolly?

9. Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?

8. Come on up and see me urchins.

7. Yes, that is a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.

6. I'd love to drop anchor in your lagoon.

5. Pardon me, but would ya mind if fired me cannon through your porthole?

4. How'd you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

3. Ya know, darlin’, I’m 97 percent chum free.

2. Well blow me down?

And the number one pickup line for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day is …

1. Prepare to be boarded.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Coast Guard Crew Receives Award for Rescue

WASHINGTON — A Coast Guard Air Station Humbolt Bay, Calif. helicopter crew were presented with the Rotor & Wing “Above and Beyond the Call” award yesterday in Reston, Va. for their December 2007 rescue of an Oregon man.

Helicopter CG-6570 crew members, Lt. Lauren Cox, Lt.j.g. Alex Barker, Petty Officer 3rd Class Celso Jaquez and Petty Officer 2nd Class Shawn Lesko received the award at the Search and Rescue Summit 2008.

“The efforts of this crew were truly remarkable, and they overcame terrible conditions to save a life,” said Capt. Christopher Martino, commanding officer, Group Humbolt Bay.

The Coast Guard was notified on December 2, 2007 by the 25-foot Catalina sailing vessel Jack that the rudder had broken and was taking water over the sides. The owner did not have an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon to broadcast his position or a survival suit to protect him from the 50-degree water.

Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay launched an HH-65C to respond 50 miles offshore. Enroute, the aircraft and crew were buffeted by gale force winds and rain under overcast skies. On-scene in complete darkness, the crew found that the conditions had deteriorated. Winds blew at a sustained 45 knots gusting to 60 knots and the sea swell had grown to 30-feet with an occasional towering 50-foot wave.

Arriving on-scene in complete darkness, the aircrew found that conditions had deteriorated. The rudderless sailboat was swinging erratically through 60 degrees of heading changes while simultaneously heaving uncontrollably in the swells and rolling violently 40 to 50 degrees to both port and starboard. At one time the 6570 crew members witnessed the 25′ sailboat roll approximately 80 degrees to port and the mast strike an incoming swell.

Lesko, a rescue swimmer, was lowered to the water via the rescue hoist. As he approached the water, Lesko was struck by a large swell and dragged approximately 15 feet through the wave, injuring his back. Unaware of rescue swimmer’s injuries, the flight mechanic continued lowering him. Despite pain and injury, Lesko rescued the victim and hoisted him into the basket. The flight mechanic then hoisted the survivor to the aircraft, assisted the exhausted victim out of the basket, and quickly returned the basket to the injured swimmer in the heavy seas. Lesko was hoisted aboard as the aircraft reached its critical fuel state. The crew quickly prepared the helicopter for forward flight and departed the scene to return to Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay.

The storm tossed victim was transferred to waiting emergency medical services and transported to a local hospital where he was evaluated, treated for exposure and released to his family. The vessel was destroyed as it washed ashore several days later.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Been very busy raising our new Golden pup, Kona. He is almost 11 weeks and is as cute as he is sweet. Very smart to and will sit stay and down on command. Here is confined to the house and backyard as he won't get his last parvo shots until late October. I would love to take him to the beach but you can't be too careful with a dog like this. So my posts have been sporadic at best. We plan to bring the boat back from the delta next week and get her closer to home. It will take two days and some back and forth in the car to do it but it should be fun. More posts as soon as I can get Kona to stop chewing the computer cords!

Extreme Racing and Chinese Gybes

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Roz Completes Her First Leg to Hawaii!

Roz Savage completed her row from San Francisco to Honolulu on September 1, 2008, completing the first of three legs of her journey! On May 25, 2008, Roz Savage rowed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Pacific Ocean, which she is attempting to cross — rowing solo and eventually ending up in Australia. She has already completed such a journey across the Atlantic, and is using her adventures to raise awareness of environmental issues and inspire others to rise to their own challenges. She is an amazing lady who grew tired of her boring office job in the UK and decided to challenge herself with a row across the Atlantic. And she did it! This was her second attempt to get to the old Sandwich Islands. On her first try, she was rolled twice about 400 miles from SF. A coast guard chopper told her she had to make a decision as they were at their cut off point from land. She reluctantly abandoned ship and set her sights on another attempt. Congrats to you Roz and keep on keeping on!

Origins of Sailing Terminology

As you know, sailors have been doing their thing for thousands of years. From the primitive animal skin that may have been used to propel a man on a log to modern day yachts that can approach 40 knots on the open sea, we have some very archaic sailing terms that have been with us for a long time. How did they originate? Simple terms like cockpit, shroud and cunningham. Let's take a look at a term we all use when we go sailing. "How fast is the boat moving thru the water?" "7 knots", comes the reply. Knots refers to nautical miles. It corresponds approximately to one minute of latitude along any meridian. For our discussion today, we are looking for the origin of the word "knots". The term knot and log originally are derived from the practice of using a "log" tied to a knotted rope as a method of gauging speed of a ship. The log would be thrown into the water and the rope trailed behind the ship. The number of knots that passed off the ship and into the water in a given time would determine the speed in "knots". Is that cool or what? It's fun to tell your sailing friends this story when out sailing. They will be amazed at your in depth knowledge of the sailing world!

Embrace the Extreme!

20 knots on a J80. Not sure if these guys are having fun or are the scared out of their minds?? Rock on!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Learning the Ropes of Long Distance Cruising

Mahina Expeditions has been helping folks get the experience and confidence to voyage with their own boat. You sign up and join the boat for a leg of cruising in places like Scotland, the Azores, the South Pacific and New Zealand to name a few. You are expected to be involved in every aspect of the cruise and play a key role in moving the boat. Classroom time onboard is 3-5 hours per day. The boat is well founded HR 46 and is set up for 4 students and two crew. The cruise is not cheap but it will give a real feel of what shipboard life is all about. Take a look at their itineraries for the next several years and come on aboard! For more info, click here.

Pic of the Day

I told you barnacles to stay away!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Delta Bound

We are off to the central delta and headed for White Slough for some sun, wind, swimming, floating and good times. There will be four of us including Tex, Dennis, and Bill. The weather should be in the 90's and winds are looking like the 20's. The boat is patiently waiting for us at Bruno's Island on Seven Mile slough. We are in for some fine meals and nice wine. Should be a blast and a half! Bon voyage!