Friday, May 29, 2009

Where did you put the GPS?

Three boaters stranded during their journey to Rhode Island were pulled early Thursday from a sandbar after their 40-foot sailboat ran aground in the fog off Fire Island, authorities said.

Hours after the predawn rescue, the sailboat was still stuck in the sand Thursday, and authorities are strategizing a plan to remove it, the Coast Guard said.

The rescued boaters - Stu Williams, 49 of White Fish, Mont.; John Bosco, 40, of Berlin, Conn.; and Jeremiah Bailey, 29 - were not injured and are in good condition, authorities said.

The boaters were on their way to Newport, R.I., after starting out in Georgia, authorities said.

Pics of the Day

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bonehead Turns Back in Storm

The forecast was bleak with 65k of wind predicted. Waves of up to 30 feet were the norm, yet this Aussie sailor decides to head out anyway. After nearly capsizing in the waves, he got smart and returned to port safely. He gets our Bonehead of the Weekend Award!

Pics of the Day

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Gust That Packed a Wallop

We don’t really have a good story to go with this, but thought you’d like it anyway. And we know that Peter Dyer (owner), and Mike Downard (driver) both have a good sense of humour and are still on speaking terms.

'We were running south through the gap at the bottom end of Chalong Bay, just before the Evason,' recounted Downard. 'We were pootling along in precious little breeze when suddenly - wallop – we got clobbered from behind by a huge gust. It must have been a katabatic wind coming down from the direction of the Big Buddha. Both bows stuck in and we went stern over bowsprit.'

And how deep is the bay just there? 'Er, not quite deep enough.' Sea Living sustained an extra bit of 'prebend' to her mast, but was operational at the Top of the Gulf Regatta just a week later – until the rig came down on race day 3, but that’s another story…

Friday, May 22, 2009

Do Something Unusual This Weekend!

Click pic for bigger view.

Adventure Disaster

JAWS WAS A CIRCUS, spewing 60-foot waves like Neptune was on a rampage. This was last December 15, and a dozen tow-in teams were battling for position at the famous monster break, off Maui's north shore; 50 more jet skis and a half-dozen boats sat in the channel watching; and five helicopters were flying overhead. No one was following any rules, but despite the crowd my partner Ryan Rawson finally whipped me into a six-story bomb.

The 14-pound board I'd been testing in 30-foot California surf was way, way too light, and I couldn't hold the line. I fell, and I knew I was in for the beating of my life. I closed my eyes, went Zen, and... baboom!—the wave exploded on top of me.

When I surfaced 20 seconds later I saw a dude on another 60-footer breaking right in front of me. I took a deep breath and dove, but I had two problems: the pair of life jackets I was wearing. I couldn't get under. My legs were sticking out, so I got "scorpioned"—folded in half backwards, my left heel ramming into the back of my head—while being dragged underwater for about 150 yards. For 30 seconds, it felt like King Kong had me by the feet and was just going apeshit rag-dolling me. I relaxed and took a dozen breaststrokes, but I was still down deep. Stars flashed in the corners of my eyes. I finally broke the surface, gasping for air. A film-crew chopper buzzed overhead, and I thought, I'm saved! But they just sat there filming me die. I prayed for them to harpoon me in the leg and fly me away.

Then the third wave hit. I figured since I was so far in, it would be weaker. Wrong. I surfaced, my left eye temporarily blind from the impact. When Ryan finally came around to pick me up, I thought it was over, but that warm and fuzzy feeling soon vanished. The fourth wave avalanched us both off the jet ski. I came up and saw Ryan swimming, about 30 yards away, with yet another big wall of whitewash pounding down. The rocks were straight ahead. That's it, I thought, but someone—I still don't know who—rescued me.

Back on the boat, I hurt everywhere. Squirming with pain, my knee wrapped in ice, I popped a heavy painkiller and chugged a couple of beers. Then I sat back and watched, dazed and confused but wishing I could shake it off and get back in the game.

I'd sustained a concussion, hyperextended my back and hip, yanked a ligament in my knee, and had my ego shattered. I surfed Jaws again last March—and used a heavier board.

By Ken Collins

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

iPhone Bike App

Click the pic to see a much larger view.

In my quest of 8 years to stay in shape thru running, biking and swimming, I have been biking a little 10 mile loop that takes me thru a lovey park called Coyote Hills in Fremont. A friend of mine mentioned a cool app called "The Bike Computer" I downloaded it for free and it is pretty impressive. It uses GPS to determine your speed and distance as well as tracks the ride.
Then after the ride you upload the file thru the phone via wifi and voila, you have a track of your ride on a satalite map. I also purchased a mount for my handlebar that works great and allows me to view the digital readout on the iPhone as I ride. Very cool!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One Particular Harbor

Jimmy will be playing in the Bay Area tonight! I have seen his show many times and it is always a party. By the way the "one particular harbor" in the video is Cook's Bay on Bora Bora, Tahiti.

From the Archives - Paraglider Hits 32,000'

I have always wanted to try paragliding. After reading this story, I think I'll stick with watersports.

A champion paraglider described today her terror at being flung to a height greater than Mount Everest by a tornado-like thunderstorm in Australia.

Ewa Wisnerska, 35, was sucked so high that she blacked out and became encased in ice.

“You can’t imagine the power. You feel like nothing, like a leaf from a tree going up,” she told Australian radio.

Wisnerska, from Germany, was preparing for the 10th World Paragliding Championships above the town of Manilla in New South Wales when the storm struck on Wednesday.

With terrifying speed she was whisked from 2,500 ft to an estimated 32,000 ft in about 15 minutes. “I was shaking all the time. The last thing I remember it was dark. I could hear lightning all around me,” she said.

Her ordeal was recorded by global positioning and a radio attached to her equipment.

When her desperate attempts to skirt the powerful thunderstorm failed, she concluded that her chances of survival were “almost zero.” “I said, 'I can’t do anything. It’s raining and hailing and I’m still climbing — I’m lost.”’

The paragliding 2005 World Cup winner lost consciousness for more than 30 minutes while her aircraft flew on uncontrolled, sinking and lifting several times.

“There’s no oxygen. She could have suffered brain damage. But she came to again at a height of 6,900 metres with ice all over her body and slowly descended herself,” said Godfrey Wenness, the event organizer and one of Australia’s most experienced paraglider pilots.

After regaining consciousness, she felt like an astronaut returning from the Moon as the ground loomed beneath her. “I could see the Earth coming — wow, like Apollo 13 — I can see the Earth,” she said.

Wisnerska landed safely 40 miles from her original launch site with ice in her lightweight flying suit and frost bite to her face.

She spent just an hour in a hospital for observation and hopes to compete in biennial championships which begin on February 24.

Earlier this month a British paraglider survived an attack by two large eagles while flying in the same area.

Maybe God just doesn't like paragliders?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday, Beautiful Sunday

Sunday in the Bay Area was sunny and hot. Temps in the local area hovered around 100 for the inland areas. Anyone with a boat was hoping it would be cooler on the bay and they were all out there beating the heat. The forecast was for light winds - 5-15. My best friend Andy and his wife had a friend racing in the Stone Cup and wanted to see the start of the race. As we hit the bay the wind was picking up. At the end of the pier, we could see sheep in the meadow (white caps!). We turned off the engine and started to sail even reefing the jib a little. We got to the start line as the boats took off. It was a little chilly and Vickey wanted some warm sun. We headed to Sam's but the docks were filled with power boats. We motor sailed to Ayala Cove at Angel Island but the 40 or so berths were all taken. Around the corner we went to anchor for lunch. Found a nice spot and decided to take Kona for a swim. Kona is our 10 month old Golden. He hasn't taken much liking to water yet but has swum a few times. Got him in the water and we swam to a little beach. He did fine. We stayed for a while and then started swimming back to the boat. We were getting there but we just couldn't make it to the ladder due to a very strong flood tide. I asked my boatmates to bring the boat around which they did. We got back on board for a lovely sail to the bay bridge. Less wind there and more warm weather. Had a nice sail back to the marina with winds in the mid 20's. So glad the wind forecast was wrong as we had some terrific sailing weather.

Kayaker Breaks Vertical Drop Record

On April 21, 2009 in Eastern Washington, Tyler Bradt paddled over 186 ft. tall Palouse Falls, shattering the waterfall world-record he had previously set, changing the entire perception of the sport’s capabilities. Bradt spent weeks with close friend, filmmaker, and former world champion Rush Sturges preparing for the attempt. Sturges put it simply: “Nothing even close to this has ever been done before. He just changed the sport forever.”

Tyler visually ran the waterfall countless times before climbing into his kayak. His support and safety team looked on and waited. It took him only 4 seconds to complete the fall and after some anxious moments, emerged safely in his kayak. As he emerged from the fierce spray carrying half a paddle, broken in the violent descent, he held his hands aloft, amazed and unscathed. To view the vid, click here.

15 Year Old Girl To Sail Solo

Australian fifteen-year-old Jessica Watson, the latest teen to chase the 'youngest solo around the world' trophy, has launched her yacht, aptly called 'Youngestaround'. This brings her dream, which involves leaving in September (now two months earlier than the original start date of November) a little closer.

While in Australia there has been some criticism by family groups about the dangers of the voyage for the slightly built teen, Don McIntyre, the adventurer who with his wife Margie were the first to winter over at Commonwealth Bay since the great explorer Mawson, has given her project a vote of confidence by donating the yacht to Jessica.

The yacht is an S&S (Sparkman and Stephens) 34, the same type of yacht used by her two other Australian predecessors, David Dicks and Jesse Martin, who both completed round world solo passages in their teens.(David is still the youngest, but Jesse did it non-stop and unassisted.

Victorian adventurer Jesse Martin, who set his record in 1999, has also defended Jessica's adventure, telling the ABC, 'It's Jessica's choice, she's the one who's making the decision.'

In the meantime, Californian Zac Sunderland, 16, has arrived at Grenada in the Caribbean after a 34 day journey across the Atlantic in his yacht Intrepid during which a rogue wave damaged his boat, his inverter caught fire and failed, and this meant his satphone was unable to be charged.

After repairs, he has now set out for Panama. The rest of his voyage, while still potentially hazardous, does not involve any long ocean passages. He is also (in a laid-back fashion) attempting to become the youngest to sail around the world. His destination - Marina del Rey in Los Angeles - is getting closer.

Down in the Tasman Sea, British teenager Mike Perham, also 16 but 108 days younger than Zac, on his 55ft racing yacht Totallymoney, has just sailed around the northern tip of New Zealand and is heading for Auckland, forced to stop there to repair yet another steering problem on his boat.

Both of these young adventurers have made stops along the way, so they are not competing for the 'non-stop unassisted' record. Good luck to all!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Free Dive

Sara Campbell breaks the world record in free diving at the Vertical Blue competition off Long Island in the Bahamas April 2 with a dive of 314 feet on a single breath in the "constant weight" discipline, completing the dive in three minutes, 34 seconds. (AP Photo)

Thursday Video Flood

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pic of the Day

I Am From the Future

I ran across an incredible prank that spanned three years and involved a random person who gets a visit from a man from the future. Zane hands him a package that reveals that Kolin Pope is the savior of the planet and that he must fight to the end. And so begins an amazing adventure that takes Kolin around the country to fight these evil forces. It's a long read but very worth it as you will not be disappointed. Read the whole story here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

KABOOM - The Show

We gathered on Saturday night for a fantastic fireworks show on the SF Bay put on by our favorite rock station KFOG 104.5. There were 10 of us on board for a nice meal in Clipper Cove and then we motored over for the show. The cool thing about the show is that they synch it to a great soundtrack and have fireworks that kind of go with the theme of the song. This years show was a little shorter by about 5 minutes that in years past. And there were a lot less boats so we were able to get pretty close the the barge they were firing from. Also it was a perfect night for a nice sail and the temps were mild for the bay. All in all a great night was had by all! See the whole show and soundtrack below!

2009 KFOG Kaboom Fireworks from KFOG on Vimeo.

Carbon Neutral Boat Rescued by Oil Tanker

The British crew of a 'carbon neutral' polar expedition sailing across the North Atlantic have been rescued by an oil tanker after their yacht was caught in a Force 12 (64kts+) storm and knocked down three times in towering north Atlantic swells.

The three members of the Carbon Neutral Expedition, two of whom were planning to cross the Greenland ice cap as part of a nationwide educational initiative, were hauled to safety this week 400 miles off the coast of Ireland. They are now on their way to Portland, Maine, with the tanker, where they are due to arrive later in the week.

Raoul Surcouf, 40, a landscape gardener from Jersey, and Richard Spink, 31, a physiotherapist from Bristol, had set up the expedition to show how journeys to some of the most remote places on the planet can be undertaken with minimal impact on the environment.

Their relief was tinged with a sense of irony as the rescue craft sent by Falmouth coastguard was the Overseas Yellowstone, a 113,000-tonne oil tanker.

Their 40ft cutter, Fleur, had been knocked down three times and was overwhelmed by towering waves as the skipper, Ben Stoddart, tried to slow it down amid 60-knot gusts.

The ordeal began on Friday morning. Stoddart deployed the sea anchor but it was lost when a wave came over the stern, snapping the rope. The first of the three knockdowns happened in the early hours, causing the failure of the navigation instruments and structural damage inside and out. Water was flooding into the boat as waves broke over it.

The crew alerted Falmouth coastguard at 5am, and at 9.30am the skipper suffered a blow to the head when the boat was flipped upside down. There was further damage to the boat's external structure, the main electricity generator was torn loose and both solar panels were destroyed.

After the third knockdown in seven hours, coastguards were asked to mount a rescue and the crew huddled together in the front cabin, which was least damaged by flooding, and awaited rescue, which came at 7.20pm.

The bad weather began much earlier and Jess Tombs, a spokeswoman for the expedition, said Spink had described the ordeal as '36 hours of hell'.

'They are extremely relieved to just be alive,' said Tombs, who spoke to the crew by phone on board the tanker. 'Disappointment that the expedition hasn't worked has not kicked in yet.'

In a statement from the tanker after the rescue, Spink said: 'We regret to inform you that the CNE Greenland expedition 2009 has been abandoned due to repeated, irreparable storm damage to our sailing vessel Fleur; in the north Atlantic we experienced some of the harshest conditions known, over a period of 36 hours, with winds gusting hurricane force 12. At 10.00hrs on 1st May 2009 the decision was made that the risk to our own personal safety was too great to continue and a rescue was co-ordinated with Falmouth coastguard.

'The team are now safely and ironically aboard the oil tanker Overseas Yellowstone. The ship's captain and crew are being fantastic hosts. We are due to be in port in Portland Maine USA towards the end of next week.

CNE team would like to give heartfelt thanks to Falmouth and Irish coastguards for their professionalism in the rescue operation.'

Even the rescue did not run smoothly. Spink was first off the Fleur, jumping across to a rope ladder dropped from the tanker, and he was followed by Surcouf. Stoddart, who was last to leave, fell back into the sea and had to be hauled aboard manually by five men on the tanker deck. It is thought he may have broken some ribs in the fall.

It is a bitter disappointment for the expedition, which had been long in the planning. The expedition set sail on April 19 for the planned 10 week expedition.

The expedition had a different approach from normal polar expeditions. Nearly all trans-Greenland expeditions involve flying to Greenland with helicopter drop offs to traverse the ice cap. Using the yacht for transport made this journey very different. The ice cap team- Richard and Raoul were skippered by Ben as they sailed across the North Atlantic from Plymouth to Nuuk. This 2000 mile, 18 day crossing was to be a harsh preparation for their arrival in Nuuk, but, as it has turned out, has crippled the expedition before the 'main event' had even started.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Twiggy Wins

Once the dust settled after the 2009 Quiksilver Ceremonial Punta de Lobos, a solid field of international and Chilean competitors alike agreed that "raw" was the best way to sum up the first annual big wave event.
Big wave chargers like Peter Mel, Grant "Twiggy" Baker and Carlos Burle arrived to Pichilemu, Chile on Monday morning to find cold temperatures, pumping 15 foot surf, brutal currents, and a slew of Chilean chargers keen on winning in their backyard.

"This was a true big wave event," said Baker, fresh off his XXL Biggest Wave of the Year award. "It had all the elements."

Peter Mel agreed. "A big wave event has to be challenging, and it was so difficult out there."

After short notice and a questionable forecast, nobody really knew what to expect upon arrival in Chile. But local legend Ramon Navarro, who was relegated to event organizer/rescue duty due to a knee injury, gave everyone his word.

"I knew that the waves would come," claimed Navarro. "The waves were good for the Ceremonial, but not amazing. It gets way bigger and better, but for the first year it was incredible."

Last Wednesday, April 29, Navarro had decided to hold off on running the event this week due to forecasted onshore winds and heavy rain. A day later, he changed his mind and pulled the trigger.

Twenty-four surfers competed in four, six-man heats. The top three from each heat advanced to the semifinals, and the final consisted of the top three surfers from each semi. More than 500 spectators lined the cliffs, while the Chilean Navy helicopter buzzed overhead, adding to the dramatic atmosphere. "Those were some of the roughest conditions I've ever seen for an event, and those guys were pushing themselves," Linden said.

As expected, the Chilean contingent was charging all day. Lead by Punta de Lobos specialists Diego Medina and Fernando Zegers, the Chileans were taking off deeper than everyone, and they had no qualms about dropping into enormous waves directly in front of the rocks."The local guys were so determined," said Mel. "They were doing things they've never done out there before to beat us. They were just pushing the level and all of us."

Despite the competitive atmosphere, everyone was hooting each other into waves out in the water, the best of which came in the third heat. Brazilian Danilo Couto bagged the event's only perfect 10, taking off late on an absolute bomb. After making the bottom turn, Couto aimed high and made the only barrel of the day, getting spit out just beyond the rocks.

Baker's wave selection and patience carried him through the entire contest and on to a first place finish. His first wave in the final was huge, and after a hairy drop, it lined up well enough for him to carve from the inside to way beyond the rocks.

Medina had everyone on their toes, making it on a bomb to start the final for a solid score. For the rest of the one-hour final, he couldn't find another wave, until the last moment when he paddled into another mountain. The wave shut down on him, but his first wave was enough to carry him to second place on the podium.

Mel came in third, after dropping into a bomb in front of the rocks in the final. His second wave was a long wall that he surfed well beyond the rocks.

In the final, there were a couple heavy moments. After Diego Medina got things started, a massive set rolled through the lineup, catching both Burle and Zegers too deep. Both had their leashes snapped by the first wave. After taking a couple on the head, the skis gave them a lift back to the shoulder where a duck boat waited with their back-up boards.

The event also saw some injuries too, with Chilean León Vicuña's being the most severe. Vicuña pulled into a massive closeout barrel in the first semi, separating his shoulder and having to be shuttled to the beach for medical assistance.

"All of the other contests are held predominantly at rights," said Burle. "It's time for a big left!"

Baker agreed. "It was a gnarly 15-foot out there, and we have no events like this at a left pointbreak. It was dangerous."

Navarro's and Linden's involvement in this year's event was essential to its success, as was the support of the Pichilemu community. Punta de Lobos is a special place and everyone involved wished to thank the Chileans for being so welcoming.

"They're telling me that this place breaks twice as big, and cleaner," said Linden. "I can't even comprehend that."

Friday, May 08, 2009

Sailing in the British Virgins

A little over a year ago, we were having the trip of a lifetime in the BVI's. Just south of Puerto Rico, this island group is one of the most spectacular sailing venues on the planet. We rented a brand new 58' cat with a wonderful captain and gourmet chef. The weather was outstanding and the water aquamarine and 83 degrees. With a full moon party (a BVI tradition), SCUBA, a hammock in the bow, my two sisters and lovely wife, and way too much fun, the highlights just keep on coming. If you ever want to have the ultimate sailing vacation, book a trip to this tropical paradise. Here is a little video I found that will give you a taste of the beauty and perfect sailing conditions to be found at this watery playground.

If you want to read some of the tall tales from the trip, go to the archives on the right side of this page and proceed to my April 17, 2008 entry and follow our adventures.

Attack of the Bonehead

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wipeout 2003


We are headed to a great fireworks display on the bay this weekend. Our local radio station, KFOG 104.5, does a concert and fireworks synched to great tunes every May. Hundreds of boats head out south of the Bay Bridge to watch the show. We have about 10 folks on our boat with a nice meal and some sailing. Last year the fog was so thick you could only hear the booms. We called it Kabust. Weather looks good and we have a full moon on Saturday. See you out there and be careful!

Surfing Dawg

Something Wild

Streamline from justACRO on Vimeo.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Jazzfest 2009

Back from a very nice trip to New Orleans with my wife's family. We were able to make to Jazzfest for two days of the final weekend. This year was the 40th annual and a great one indeed. The highlight for me was Bonnie Raitt on the main stage (there are 11 stages going at the same time including stages featuring jazz, blues, gospel, traditional and the big names. The gospel tent is a must stop for music lovers. So much energy! I missed my favorite band, The Neville Brothers as they always close the show and we were already on the plane. Other highlights included Marcia Ball, The Iguanas and CJ Stiener and the Red Hot Band. Let the good times roll!

Nautical Mile

A few months ago I mentioned how knots originated to measure boat speed on the tall ships over a century ago. Here is a little more detailed explanation: Well, first we should know that for distance sailors used (and still use) the so called 'nautical mile'. If you slice Earth into two equal halves right through its center along equator for example, then divide the perimeter (the circumference) into 360 degrees, then each degree into 60 arc minutes, the length you get is approximately 1 nautical mile. So, to recap, one nautical mile is the arc distance of about 1 minute of a degree (or 1/60th of a degree) of Earth. We say approximate because if you choose to slice Earth along the line that goes through the North and South poles you would get a slightly different result due to the fact that Earth is not a perfect sphere - it is slightly flattened at the poles. Difference between the polar and equatorial diameter being about 23.4 nautical miles out of 6880 nautical miles. Exact value for the nautical mile is taken to be the average of the two (polar and equatorial) and is:

1 nautical mile = 1.15 miles = 1852 meters = 6067 feet

Naturally, sailors wanted to have their ship's speed in units of nautical miles per hour (just like American car drivers like their car speed in miles per hour - my apologies to the rest of the world. However, don't fuss too much since the meter was also defined quite arbitrary around 17th century as one part in 10 million of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator along the meridian of Paris.)

To avoid ropes that were miles and miles in length, they usually had ropes that had knots every 50 feet and a sand glass that measured half a minute. If you work out the math you will convince yourself that the number of knots that went overboard in half a minute is exactly the number of nautical miles per hour the ship was cruising at. For example, if 10 knots went overboard in half a minute, then the ship was moving forward at the speed of 10 knots or 10 nautical miles per hour (which would be about 11.5 standard miles per hour.)

Records from 1917 (Bowditch) indicate that the official U.S. Navy sand glass measured 28 seconds, and that knots were spaced out exactly 48 feet (or 8 fathoms - a popular length unit of that time). With this setup, ship's speed could be measured with an error of about 1.5%. This is speed relative to the water and assuming that the wood panel does not get pulled significantly from the place where it was initially dropped and that the rope does not stretch - all of which actually does happen and should be accounted as sources of error. Not to mention the problem of sea water currents adding or subtracting from the actual ship's speed relative to land.