Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Vid of the Rescue in Baja

Here is some footage of the crew that was rescued during the Baja Ha Ha.

Hopefully you and I will never see the inside of one of these guys. Then again, if we are in this much trouble, it's one thing to look forward to!!


Update from the Ha-Ha

Folks are starting to throw their anchors down on the first planned stop of the Ha Ha. Here is a report from one of the crew on Say Hello World (40' Caliber):

The weather report for this first leg from San Diego to Turtle Bay was for wind. Finally! After motoring this entire Pacific coast, we chose to sail in the forecasted 20 to 25 knots rather than duck into an anchorage like most of the rest of the Baja Ha Ha fleet. Turns out that 20 to 25 knots with an unlimited fetch makes for some spiky seas. We saw pretty consistently 8 to 10 foot swell with a very tight period. Hello World would be just coming down one wave when the next would pick us up. Amongst the 8 to 10 foot swells were a few 12 to 14 foot waves. We saw quite a few that broke behind us. Pucker. Also? Barf.

But we had a great downwind sail - minus all the barfing. In Newport Beach, we finally setup our autopilot to be able to steer to a wind angle instead of just a magnetic heading. This turned out to be a huge boon during this run. We set the sails and autopilot for broad reach and hauled ass down the Baja coast under a reefed main and reefed jib. We made just under hull speed for about 36 hours straight. So this is what sailing is like? Who knew. Over 300 miles on this leg and only 17 hours of motoring.

We are now anchored in Bahia Tortuga surrounded by a crapload of other boats. We haven't gone to shore yet because our dinghy is on deck and we need a halyard to pull it off the deck and drop it in the water. Since our spin halyard is piled at the bottom of the mast, we have to drop a sail to get a halyard down. And right now, we just can't be bothered.

This sailing thing is hard.

27 41.068N 114 53.374W

Check their blog here.

Yesterday a Whale, Today a Dolphin

In yesterday's post a whale took out a sailboat (see below) and today we have a dolphin.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Alameda Sailing Yacht Capsizes in Ha Ha

ALAMEDA, Calif. — An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station San Diego rescued five people after their sail boat capsized 197 miles southwest of San Diego, Wednesday morning.

The Coast Guard received a distress signal from a 406-MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon registered to the Crosswave, a 40-foot sail boat, homeported in Marina Village here, participating in the Baha Ha Ha race, shortly after 10 a.m.

A helicopter was launched from Air Station San Diego, and an HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Sacramento provided long range coverage.

Once on scene, the helicopter crew found the five people in a life raft, and subsequently hoisted them into the helicopter. The rescued sailors are Eugenie Russell, a Coast Guard licensed master from Alameda, Calif.; Barry Demak, a Coast Guard licensed master from Oakland, Calif.; Raymond Quinn, sailing student; Mark McKinnon, sailing student and Judy Land, sailing student.

One of the rescued individuals had a minor hand injury. All five people arrived safely in San Diego at 4 p.m.

The Baha Ha Ha is sailboat race from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, that began Monday.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. The area where the accident and rescue occurred was experiencing gale force winds.

This is a boat out of the J-World fleet skippered by professionals who are prepared for something like this. Here is a link to their website recruiting folks to pay for the trip. Link. Wonder if they get a refund?

Update: Many of you have probably read the posts this week about the start of the annual Baja Haha race from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. This race is well attended with nearly 200 boats in the flotilla heading south of here. One of the Sailing vessels had become the attraction of a pod of whales. It is believed that one of the whales had flipped its tail and the tail struck the ruder post damaging the rudder (or removing it). The vessel began taking on water and reportedly sank in 7 minutes. Five people were on board and all had life preservers and a life raft was deployed along with an EPIRB. The vessel was 200 miles south of San Diego when it sank. San Diego area Coast Guard responded and plucked all five from the water and returned them home to SD safe and sound (and wet). The efforts of the Coast Guard were difficult since our area also experienced some very usual high winds yesterday wherein coastal winds were 25-35 knots. All in all a happy ending and a reminder that even an innocuous party fest as the Baja Haha can turn tragic if not taken seriously. This is Grey Whale migrating season and having a pod around you and the associated danger it could pose should be anticipated.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ha Ha Sets Sail For Cabo

It's an escape from gray cubicle walls for Megan Buechler, a reprieve from pancreatic cancer chemotherapy treatments for Thomas Christensen, a medical school graduation present to themselves for Seth Strattan and Sophie Candille.

To others, it's a retirement party, a family trip, a line on a bucket list.

It is the Baja Ha-Ha, the mostly relaxed but potentially hazardous two-week sailing rally with the ridiculously perfect — or is perfectly ridiculous? — name. Yesterday, smiles washed over sailors' faces in waves.

Nearly 200 boats, hundreds of sailors and a few dogs in life preservers paraded along the glassy water off Shelter Island yesterday morning at the start of the 16th running of one of the world's most popular sailing events.

Billed as the largest offshore sailing event in California and the world's second-largest cruising rally, the party will end nearly 800 miles away in Cabo San Lucas early next month after stops in Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria.

Organizers warn sailors they'll get “the opportunity to have an adventure, not a guarantee of happiness.” The rules, as such, warn entrants that the ocean “exposes mariners to all perils of the sea,” but also contains this caveat: “There shall be no whining! And no sniveling either!”

Read the article here.

Dream Yacht

If only she could sail.

Green Room

More Surfing >>

Monday, October 26, 2009

Newport Raft Up And Weekend Sailing Adventure

What a wonderful weekend of sailing the bay and making Newport friends. The weather and wind were perfect on maybe the last summer weekend of the year. Saturday dawned with blue skies and some fog. We headed out for a delightful sail over to Angel Island. Dolphins and pelicans were dancing in the green waters of the bay. The wind was gusting to 20 knots which is about perfect for our boat. The fog really streamed in about 1pm and I was a little worried we might have problems. As soon as I thought we had a problem, it dissipated and cleared out as the Golden Gate shone brightly in the distance. We made our way towards the Bay Bridge on a splendid reach and then came around to Clipper Cove. We found Stu and Wendy anchored and waiting. Soon we had 5 Newports rafted up and anchored in this tranquil cove. No wind and the sun setting. Kona (my golden) and I swam to the beach for a romp in the sand. Back on board we had a great group in the cockpit of the Addiction for apps and wine. BBQed some shrooms and veggies and more congregating in the cockpit after dinner. What fun! Up at sunrise for a paddle to the beach with Kona. He loved it and was so cute on the beach. Good boy! After coffee and french toast, we head over to the Treasure Island Marina to pick up Drew and Marc. Another fantastic day. We head for Raccoon Strait and again the wind is perfect. We motor to lunch once the wind dies near Tiburon and head for Paradise Cove, my new favorite anchorage. We anchor for lunch then swim over to the beach and see our new friend Scott and his son James. We play on the beach with Kona and he is having a ball. The temps are in the mid 70's and the sun is hot! Just awesome. We head back out for a wonderful sail back to TI. It's hard to believe how nice it is on the bay. Drop off the crew and then head back to my home port with a sunset sail to end our summer sailing season. What an incredible year in sailing it has been! And a very memorable weekend as well. Thanks to my fellow Newporters for making it a great raft up (my first!).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nice Vid

Thanks Wetass! Great vid from Brad Van Liew. Around alone. I did not know that only 12 Americans have sailed around the planet alone and unassisted. This is where the tuff get going!


This one is sad. The anchor rode parted on a 25' sailboat. A friend trys to get to the boat and save it but ends up with the ride of his life thru the surf. Sad story and the boat is lost.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

No Toilet Paper?

April 28, 2010 Marks the 221st anniversary of the Mutiny on the Bounty, when Fletcher Christian cast William Bligh and 18 of his men adrift in a 23ft open boat, which marked the beginning of one of the greatest open boat voyages in maritime history. During the following seven weeks, Bligh and his men sailed over 3,700 nautical miles, in an overloaded boat, with little food or water and no charts, from Tonga to Kupang in Timor.

On that same day, in the same place, at the same time, Australian adventurer Don McIntyre and three other crew, will relive Bligh's nightmare, by attempting to sail the same voyage under similar conditions, no charts, no toilet paper, not enough food or water, in an 18th century traditional open timber whale boat. McIntyre is not new to adventuring, but this challenge is like nothing he has experienced before.

This website will officially open mid 2009, but the hunt is now on to find three crew to be part of this unique adventure. You need to like the sea and yourself, be prepared for anything and carry a sense of humor... How else could you adjust to not using toilet paper? Bligh had none and neither will this expedition!

We will have very good safety equipment, a strong risk minimisation program, and whilst we will have a GPS, charts, torches and the emergency food etc. onboard, it will be sealed in a box and not used. The hardships and human dynamics of the crew is part of the experience sought, to get close to Bligh and his men.

Are you up for the biggest thing you may ever do in your life? Will you have regrets if you do not?

Mike Perham has also signed on. He is the youngest sailor (at the moment) to have sailed around the world. Should be an interesting trip and we won't know how there doing unless they decide to Tweet about their adventure. Read more here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pic of the Day

Baja Ha Ha

This weekend, 200 boats and about 600 folks will set off from San Diego for the 700+ mile trip to Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of Baja. It's a cruiser rally that is in its 16th year. Many folks continue on to exotic ports in the South Pacific and then on to Australia and New Zealand. Some sail back to their home ports doing the Baja Bash as it's all upwind sailing and not fun. The great thing about the rally is that they make two stops along the way and the little villages pull out all the stops and throw a huge party for the cruisers. The trip takes about 10-12 days and ends with another party or two in Cabo. Sounds like too much fun. We will be following a crew or two and posting some of their trip logs here so check back starting next week!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

H2uh0 Slide Show

After blogging about sailing for almost 5 years now, I have come across some amazing photos from the web. One of the reasons I started this blog was to share some of the cool stories and pics that I discovered. These pics get uploaded to Blogger when I post a new entry and Blogger puts them into my photo album automatically thru Picasa. Here is a slide show of the many photos from my album. Enjoy! I highly recommend you click on a pic and go into a full size slideshow in Picasa as some of these shots are classics.

Balloon Boy Via 1964

When the balloon boy story broke last week - about the 6-year-old who was supposed to be helplessly soaring through Colorado in a balloon - there were lots of reactions.

But Marin contractor Dan Nowell had the most unusual.

Been there. Done that.

In 1964, Nowell was a skinny 11-year-old who volunteered to help launch a hot air balloon in Mill Valley. But when the balloon abruptly lifted off, his fingers became entangled in the rope. As a horrified crowd of 200 spectators watched, the sixth-grader from Tamalpais Valley Elementary School was hoisted 3,000 feet into the air.

"People still refer to me as the Balloon Boy," Nowell said. "My kids got pretty tired of it over the years. I did get some interesting phone calls and e-mails last week. I said, 'Somebody is trying to steal my thunder.' "

Unlike the kid from Colorado, whose parents face fines and charges for manufacturing the story, Nowell's experience was real and captured the nation's attention before news helicopters, Twitter, and cable news networks came to be.

"The most extraordinary thing was the power of the press," Nowell said. "I got letters from all over the world addressed to 'Balloon Boy.' "

Read the rest of the story here.

Pic Flood

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cape Town and Around

Here is a nice vid from a 4-some sailing around the world from Cape Town. They are currently in Tahiti and surfing some nice swells as they go. Check out their some of their adventures including a vid of them transiting the Panama Canal here.

AIS Website

Here is a cool website that identifies ships in your local waters using the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Just zoom in to your location and you will be able to see real time vessel traffic in that area. Check it out here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Purple Flash

Should We Applaud Miss Watson?

When 16 year-old Jessica Watson begins her second attempt at becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo, non stop and unassisted later this week, she will do so against a squall of opposition.

There is no greater sporting challenge on the planet than a successful solo circumnavigation.

Freak waves, collisions with oil tankers and cargo ships, striking whales and icebergs in the Southern Ocean, piracy, boat breakdowns, snapped masts in horrific conditions, failed radio communications thousands of miles from land and just plain sheer fatigue and loneliness can and regularly do plague all sailors.

Those challenges exist regardless of age and experience.

More people have stood atop Mount Everest, and indeed, more have made it into space than those who have successfully completed a solo circumnavigation.

The fatality rate of such a sailing attempt is also greater than either of the above pursuits. More people have died attempting a solo circumnavigation than in any other sporting challenge.

Read more.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pic of the Day

"This is the last time we let our ski instructor use us as the ski!"

Surfing the Great Lakes

There were three of us packed into a little Toyota Camry for the eight-hour drive from Chicago. South End ripper Artem Abakumov and filmmaker Ben Leitschuh took turns driving while I slept in the back seat. We arrived in Duluth around 4am to meet up with Milwaukee surfers Burton Hathaway and Will Wall. “Just pull up man, don’t wake us up though ‘cuz we’ll be sleeping,” said Burton. We’d been playing phone tag the whole way, trying to catch up to the guys, but they were far ahead. For the night we planned to tough it out in the car just down the road from our destination.

I awoke to someone checking the surf in front of the car. It was 7am, freezing cold, overcast, and drizzling. I got out to take a look and watched clean left lines wrap around the point as a bald eagle flew overhead. Unreal. I woke up the boys as quick as I could—after all we came here to surf not sleep. “F—k, where’s the surf?” Artem questioned while staring out at the flat lake. Burton reassured us that if there was any movement out front, Stony Point would be macking. Needless to say, we were outta there.

Minutes later we got to Stony Point and without disappointment clean A-frame peaks reeled off like a machine, the kind you only see in dreams. But this was real. We watched in amazement like a kid in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, savoring every moment. It didn’t take long for the guys to gear up and get out there. Late drops were made, drop in artists went over the falls, and full rail turns were executed perfectly. I sat on the shore with Ben as he filmed for his upcoming film, Suits Of Armor, and did my own documentation of this magical place, the still way.

It couldn’t have been any better—arms were noodles, film was exposed, memory cards were filled, and smiles were glued to our faces.

Twelve hours later we packed up and hit the road. Was it all a dream? It couldn’t have been any better—arms were noodles, film was exposed, memory cards were filled, and smiles were glued to our faces. We totally scored…a one day trip couldn’t get any better than this!

—Mike Killion from

Saturday, October 10, 2009

50 Knots and Lovin' It!

Yachtpals has put together a nice piece on the history of sailing fast on boats, kites and windsurfers. Lots of great pics and vid from the Crossbow days to the present. Check it out here.

Wild Oats Off Tasmania

1st place in last years Sydney-Hobart Race.

Click the pic for a beautiful view.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Pic of the Day

Be sure to click the pic for a full size image. This is also the cover pic on the latest Latitude 38 which if you like you can download the entire mag here.

Need Some Help

When I first started sailing the bay nine years ago, it seemed that every boat that came in front of my boat was on a collision course with me. It made me very nervous and unsure. Then one of my partners, Geoff, pointed out that by looking at the land behind the boat, you could determine if the other boat would pass in front or behind you. If the land is stationary, you are on a collision course. Once I learned this little trick my confidence soared. Can anyone tell me what this tool is called? If you have not tried it, give it a whirl. It makes a huge difference in navigating a busy sea way. Last question, is this phenomenon from the math discipline of geometry? Please leave a comment if you know the answer.

Rescue at Sea

A Look Back - Kingfisher

Surf Safari - The Arctic

Beautiful Sailing Calendar

Allison Langley has put together a wonderful sailing cal for 2010. These are stunning photos that make a nice gift for that sailing addict in your life. You can visit her site and see all the pics here.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Monday, October 05, 2009

Greenbird - Fastest Wind Powered Rocket - 200km/h

The Greenbird clocked 126.2 mph (202.9 km/h) , eclipsing the old, American held, record of 116 mph, set by Bob Schumacher in the Iron Duck in March 1999 at the same location.

Underwater Spelunker

Holding the world record for distance travelled in underwater caves as well as being the first person to cave dive in an Antarctic iceberg, Jill has been at the top of her game for 20 years.
Expert at traversing pitch-black freezing tunnels, full-time cave photographer Jill carries up to 300 pounds of equipment with her on each expedition.
Using technology more advanced than average scuba diving gear, the Florida based adventure cave diver makes use of electric heated wetsuits and unique carbon dioxide recycling aqua-lungs.
"The images of me with my team from Antarctica still bring back the excitement of that unique expedition," says Jill, who lives in the much warmer climate of High Springs in Florida.
"That was a National Geographic jaunt to the B-15 iceberg, which at the time was larger than Jamaica.
"The aim was to become the first people to cave dive in an active iceberg.
"To say that it was fraught with danger is an understatement."
The 2001 trip was denied endorsement by the United States National Science Foundation because they deemed it too dangerous.
As a result they had to travel under the flag of New Zealand whose government accepted the risk of the party
Travelling the 12 days by boat from New Zealand to the Ross Sea area, Jill and her team including National Geographic photographer Wes Skiles entered the dramatic caves.
"The thing with the iceberg was that it was constantly moving," explains Jill who works as a professional photographer and filmmaker in Florida.
"Entrances and creases were opening and closing as the iceberg went through the motions.
"What didn't help as well was the -1.2 degree sea temperature, that was something else."
Usually carrying up to £30,000 of torches, cutting tools, rope, special 're-breather' aqualungs in triplicate on her cave journeys, Jill's motto is to never be unprepared.
Due to the delicate nature of cave diving even a series of bubbles released from her aqua-lung could cause rocks or ice to dislodge and trap her.
"The most obvious thing that could go wrong is to get stuck, in the dark and without any idea which way you are facing," says Jill.
"It sounds glib, but do not panic. If you do you increase your chances of dying dramatically.
"It is a real test of mind over matter."
Stunned by her experiences in the pristine, unexplored Antarctic, Jill's fame in the cave diving world has grown since the mid 1990's.
"I have been scuba diving for twenty years, but when I broke the world women's record for distance travelled underground, underwater, then my career really took off," says Jill.
"I pushed 10,000 feet in a lateral movement 300ft down in the Wakulla Springs cave complex in north Florida in 1998.
"I was experimenting with a 3-D mapping device that cost the best part of £470 million.
"It is the technology that one day Nasa hope to send to the underwater caves of Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter."
Living with her husband of three years Robert McCellen, Jill admits that he gets worried when she goes off on another adventure.
"We have an agreement," explains Jill.
"I call him the minute I surface. That keeps his worry under wraps."

Friday, October 02, 2009

Best "Fill in the Caption" Contest

Damn it, get off your knees, when I said blow the guy I meant....

Pic of the Day

Surfer Rides Tsunami

A New Zealand surfer escaped death in the Samoan tsunami by riding out the giant waves that surged over the Pacific Island.

Hospitality student Chris Nel was surfing on the south coast of Savai'i island when the 8.3 magnitude quake struck on Wednesday morning, The Dominion Post reported.

He had been in the water with four other New Zealand surfers and an Australian when the first signs of the tsunami appeared.

"All of a sudden the water went real weird, it kind of glassed off and got real lumpy, then we started moving real quick, getting sucked out to sea.

"It was pretty scary looking back and seeing the reef completely dried up. It looked like a volcanic riverbed - it was just gone."

A "big-as spurt of water" then hit the shore, Nel said.

"I was thinking, `this is it, we're going to get washed away and smashed into the jungle'."

The surfers struggled to reach the shore and they lay on the surfboards as more wave surges swept in, riding them out and trying not to get smashed on the beach.

"After about 35 or 45 minutes of floating around we managed to time it between a surge to get to land through the reef channel."

By the time Mr Nel returned, much of the surf camp he had been staying at had been destroyed.

"A lot of my stuff got washed out to sea and I found one of my surfboards in the jungle."

He left Samoa on Thursday, flying back to Wellington wearing a pair of jeans he had found in the jungle.