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Here’s my latest Tech/Safety Gear Review in Yachting Times Magazine – America’s Bilingual Boating Magazine – Always available online!

NancyBirnbaum-YTM-autumn-tech-safetyYTM-autumn-2015-tech_safety_gear-reviews

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Here’s the latest courtesy of ‘Lectronic Latitude (Latitude 38):

Hurricane Odile Damage Updates

September 17, 2014 – Cabo, La Paz, Puerto Escondido & San Carlos

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This boat was one of several boats that were beached in San Carlos by Odile. Nearly two dozen boats sank or went ashore at La Paz. © 2014 Jim Cochran

The biggest — and worst — news is that there apparently is no new info on the status of three sailors that are reportedly missing from boats in the La Paz anchorage: The young Mexican man named Gabriel on a steel boat is reported fine. But Holly Scott of Charlie’s Charts reports that the Mexican Navy dove on the sailboat Princess, owned by a man named Gunther, and didn’t find any sign of him or his dog. Paul and Simone of Tabasco II have not been found either.

The following is a collection of information we’ve come across about the hurricane damage in the last two days, including the first reports of damage to boats on the mainland side. It’s more jumbled than we’d like, but it’s the best we can do given the circumstances. We try to give credit in all cases, but sometimes info has been forwarded multiple times without the original source of the info being included. Yesterday we omitted giving Holly Scott credit for a chunk of our report. Our sincere apologies. Holly is a longtime good friend of Latitude and has been doing a great job of getting information out of Baja.

Cabo San Lucas — It’s our understanding that the Cabo Marina infrastructure and boats within it generally did better than the rest of the city, which suffered tremendous damage. Getting the airport back in full operation is going to be critical for two reasons: 1) getting critical supplies to the resident population, and 2) getting trapped tourists back home. That said, several news agencies reported this morning that military transports are currently flying hundreds of tourists out to gateways on the mainland. As expected, roads in Southern Baja, have been badly damaged and fuel is in very short supply. There has been looting at Costco and other stores, but these people are cut off from the world and are in desperate need of water and food. Particularly water, as it’s hot and dry in Cabo.


Most of Cabo is in very rough shape. But despite the small boat damage seen here, reports are that no yachts in the marina suffered significant damage. © 2014 The Vette Barn

 

The following are some details from Mark Drewelow of YachtAid Global, which arranges for megayachts to provide humanitarian aid for coastal communities around the world:

“At 1730 today (Monday) Cabo time I spoke with local Superyacht Agent Victor Barreda. He weathered Odile at home, and he and his wife and kids are okay. He says the  town has no electricity and it looks like every building has been damaged. If electricity doesn’t come back on, fresh water becomes a major issue quickly. Yacht Aid Global has one 75-meter superyacht that will be deeply involved in an immediate relief effort, focusing on producing 4,000 gallons a day of fresh water for locals.”

Drewelow spoke with the marina managers at Cabo and they reported that the boats in the marina and the marina itself came out “unscathed.” Mike at Driscoll Boat Yard spoke with the owner of a large motor yacht. He said there was some very minor damage to his boat, but all in all, the boats in the main part of the marina did remarkably well. Photos show that the small boats on the port side entering the harbor took a beating.

“Every yacht big or small that intends to head south to Cabo needs to bring aid,” Drewelow said. “Recovery will take months. YachtAid Global is coordinating some efforts with Marine Group Boat Works, which also has a facility in Cabo San Lucas. The Marine Group Boat Works yard in Chula Vista is collecting items that are of critical immediate need: drinking water, basic first-aid stuff, food with a long shelf life, temporary shelters, small line. If you want to help, contact Leah Yam, Cabo Relief, at Marine Group Boat Works in Chula Vista at (619) 427-6767. You can also donate funds via YachtAid Global’s donation page.”

La Paz — Again, the most urgent matter in La Paz, homeport for hundreds of cruisers, is that the three cruisers named above are still missing. Beyond that, boats in the various marinas apparently suffered very little if any damage, while some boats on stands at Atalanta Dry Storage, adjacent to Marina Palmira, suffered damage. Bob Davis of the Shell Beach-based Irwin 44 Nirvana called the Latitude offices this morning by satphone and reported that 22-25 boats had broken free in the cruiser anchorage in front of town. Five sank and the others were washed ashore on the Mogote peninsula or into the mangroves. We hope to have a complete list in our next posting. Davis reports that there was no real damage to boats in either of the La Paz boatyards. He says also that the Mexican navy has been conducting ongoing search and rescue (SAR) operations since shortly after the storm, and that the cruising community has pulled together in an impressive effort, in some cases refloating beached boats.

It’s been widely reported that Internet and phone service are still out in La Paz, so lots of family and friends back home are desperate for word that loved ones are fine. Authorities stated that electricity is available in only 17% of the city, but they are hopeful that it will be completely restored by next week. Davis was told that the fiber-optic cable that runs from Cabo all the way up the Baja Peninsula had been severed, leading to grim projections on the timetable for re-establishing phone and Internet service. But before our satphone conversation ended, his wife Sherry suddenly got a TelCel connection on her cell. We are now told that telephone and Internet connections seem to be working well including major land line connections. Davis witnessed “an armada” of electrical service trucks arriving recently from the mainland by ferry to address electrical issues in Cabo and La Paz.


Looking northwest from just outside the entrance to Cabo’s yacht harbor damage is strewn all along the shore. But being constructed with steel-reinforced concrete, we imagine that most structures are still standing, although damaged. The building in the far right of this image was under construction. © 2014 Whitney Roe

 

The La Paz Airport isn’t yet functional, and the TransPeninsula Highway may be destroyed in several areas. However, Davis has been able to confirm that the highway is fully functional from Puerto Escondido to Mulege. Vessels have been arriving from the mainland with aid for Southern Baja, and President Pena-Nieto is said to have toured the area by helicopter.

According to Bob Davis, consensus among La Paz cruisers is that Cabo is in much worse shape than La Paz, where some stores — including Walmart — are open, although all banks are closed. He has not seen any TV coverage, but the word-of-mouth info he has gathered about desperate people looting stores in Cabo for food and water is in sync with various network TV broadcasts.

In an earlier message relayed by Holly Scott, Davis wrote: “Susan Ross of the Portland-based Endeavor 43 Two Can Play suggested that the Baja Ha-Ha fleet could potentially provide an essential service by transporting ‘stuff’ [supplies, medicines, etc.] down to Southern Baja when the fleet comes south, and to the Turtle Bay and Mag Bay regions. Granted, early November is a ways off, but based on what I am hearing regarding Cabo, it may still be in ragged shape at that time.”

We’re certain that members of the Ha-Ha fleet would be happy to do all that they can. However, with the fleet’s arrival being almost two months away, we’ll have to see how things play out. People have to also remember that even one small ship could carry far more than the entire Ha-Ha fleet, but we’ll stand ready to help.

From Lewis Stewart Keizer: “The dry storage boat yard adjacent to Marina Palmira has a number of toppled, damaged, crushed or dismasted boats. All the other marinas had spotty but manageable damage (cleats ripped off docks, etc.) I know of no boats in marinas that sustained any appreciable damage, short of one boat in Marina de La Paz with a wooden mast that broke during the storm.

“Two Baja ferries unloaded a massive number of military and mostly CFE — the equivalent of PG&E — trucks, all of which is it rumored are headed to Cabo. Cabo is in really bad shape. The word down here is that Cabo airport will not reopen until the 21st. La Paz airport won’t reopen for a few days, but info is non-specific.

“Several of the 20 or so beached boats have been refloated this afternoon. A number of others are scattered hither and yon, and will be refloated as manpower, tow power and tides permit. A military flight is airlifting a number of stranded civilians out of La Paz to Mexico City today. Don’t know who they are.”

In a Tuesday-afternoon update from Nirvana via Holly Scott, Bob and Sherry made this offer: “Bercovich boatyard and boats on the hard had NO damage. I walked through there this morning and everything is intact. . . If anyone wants me to go down there and look at a specific boat, let me know and I will. Abaroa boatyard had some damage but again, I’ve not heard of any specific vessel damage in the yard. Same story, give me a vessel name and I’ll get the specifics. Atlantic boatyard nearby Marina Palmira took a real hit: a number of boats toppled over, some stacked on others, some crushed.”

Puerto Escondido — From Jake Howard aboard the Hunter 45 Jake in Puerto Escondido on Wednesday morning: “Here is the best list I can put together at this time. Firefly is here. They were right behind us in the storm and they are OK.

BOATS BEACHED IN THE MAIN ANCHORAGE:

  • Manta – Terry and Dawn onboard OK – We will try to refloat today.  Damage to port side ama, but should be OK.
  • Cloud 9 – Unoccupied – moderate to serious damage – Possibly salvageable
  • Libertad – Unoccupied – moderate damage – should be salvageable
  • Rapscallion — Unoccupied – light to moderate damage – should be salvageable
  • BOATS ON THE BREAKWATER/SEAWALL ON FONATUR SIDE OF THE ELLIPSE:
  • Merilon – Unoccupied – moderate to serious damage – may be salvageable
  • Yankee Dreamer – Unoccupied – moderate damage – should be salvageable
  • Elusive – Bill on board and okay – sery serious damage – probably a loss
  • Cloud Nine – Bill on board and okay – sunk – probably a loss
  • Sea Toy – Unoccupied – sunk – probably a loss
  • Luna Sea II – Unoccupied – dismasted and moderate damage – probably salvageable
  • Small 27-ft sailboat underneath Luna Sea II – Sunk – probably a loss

BOATS IN THE WAITING ROOM OR API AREA:

  • Angel – Unoccupied – High and dry on beach – moderate damage?? – may be salvageable
  • 27-ft trimaran – (Don’t know name) – In mangroves – minor damage – should be salvageable
  • Red Something (not sure on second word in name)- Unoccupied – on the rocks at API – moderate to serious damage? – may be salvageable?
  • Estancia – Unoccupied – dismasted and sunk at big API pier – definitely a loss
  • Nikka – Unoccupied – dismasted but still floating – moderate damage but should be salvageable.

One other boat was dismasted but don’t know name.  Unoccupied. Should be Salvageable.

That’s it, I think.  FYI – Heard on Amigo Net this morning that Pantera and Bob are OK in Santa Rosalia. Lot of damage there. Old marina destroyed. All but one boat on that dock beached or sunk.  Town is awash in mud.”

San Carlos / Guaymas — John Skoriak reports: “As more photos are posted on San Carlos message boards, the damage from Odile becomes evident. It seems that three large sailboats — one trimaran and two monohulls — broke loose from their moorings. Apparently all the boats at the two marinas are fine, and the same is true at the Marina Seca Dry Storage area where I have a Catalina 36.


Now reduced to a pile of rubble on the San Carlos shore, this was once a large trimaran. © 2014 Vince Radish / Viva San Carlos Message Board

 

The boat in the first photo in today’s report, apparently taken by Jim Cochran of the San Carlos-based Bliss, broke free from her mooring and grounded on the beach at the end of the San Carlos Bahia anchorage, “which is actually one of the best and most protected natural deepwater anchorages in Mexico,” says Skoriak, “except, of course, in a hurricane from south.”

The following is the firsthand report, from Monday, by Jeff Hartjoy of the Baba 30 Sailors’ Run in the northern Sea of Cortez, who is preparing for a nonstop sail around the world via the Southern Ocean:

“I figured out where the hurricane was when the eye passed over at 1:30 p.m. It was calm windwise for 30 minutes, although I had 10-foot waves, and had to sit in the trough and roll like a baby in a box car. My ice-maker flipped upside down and the cushions were all falling all over the place, but I was happy as the wind had quieted. After 30 minutes, the wind came back with a vengeance and blew like stink. The good thing was it had shifted 90 degrees, putting me once again in the protection of the land. The wind was also beating the 10-foot waves down to where they were about four feet. If my anchors let go, it looked like I could escape. Previously, I would have had to dive over the side before the boat crashed ashore and swim for my life.

“The worst part of the first half was I was having gusts to 85 knots. They would last about 15 seconds, and heel the boat so far that the rail was in the water. A couple of times I was tending to things on deck, and the rain was like buckshot. It stung! I couldn’t see anything, as the wind was like smoke on green water. So far, the only thing that is damaged is the bimini, as the zipper started blowing apart. So I rolled it up. One of the solar panels was trying to blow off the boat, and I had to tie it down with a rope and black tape. I think this thing will be gone by 7:30 p.m. tonight, and the back half of a hurricane is usually lighter than the front half’.”

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Here’s my latest Tech Review in Yachting Times Magazine – America’s Bilingual Boating Magazine – Always available online!

ytm-cvr-sum-2014YTM-Summer-2014-tech

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Sailboats Lost

Back in December of last year (2010), I posted a story here about a devastating storm that almost wiped out the fleet in Phuket, Thailand just prior to the start of the King’s Cup race. This became known as the “King’s Cup Disaster” and my post ended up in the nether-world of cyber obscurity where so many posts go to rest for eternity.

That was until a young woman doing a web search for her long-lost step father, found it and made a comment.

“Hello there, I am trying to locate Keith Mackay (from England). I am his step-daughter and have unfortunately lost touch with him; we last met more than 20 years ago. He knows me as Jopie Mackay, not Jodie. My cell number in South Africa is 082 —–.”

Keith had taken some fabulous photos of the disaster, boats strewn along the Kata Beach. Some buried up to their gunnels in the sand as the tide ran out faster than men could push. He lives in Thailand now after having sailed there solo from Lauderdale a few years back.

It was purely by the grace of my long-time cruiser and friend Ginny-Lea Duba-Filiatrault that I even saw these photos. She has sent them to me in an email that Keith sent to her. I posted those photos on my Blog (King’s Cup Disaster – Sailing Regatta) and the rest, as they say…is history!

Once I read Jodie’s comment I fired off an email to Keith with the comment so that he could contact her. I copied Ginny as well, since she had introduced us and I knew she’d be thrilled to follow this story.

Daughter Found

Keith replied a few days later…

“Dear Nancy & Ginny,

Two great things happened on Friday: one was a stunning momentous wedding involving TV viewers the world over and the second happened to two very ecstatic people who found each other after having lost touch more than twenty years ago. Of course I’m talking about my daughter and yours truly. We have since had a few hours on Skype catching up on all those intervening years and I have to thank you both for making it all happen. To you Ginny for forwarding my King’s Cup disaster photos to you Nancy, and to you Nancy for not only publishing them on your website but for forwarding Jodie’s mail to me. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart and from Jodie too.
Big Hugs and monstrous thanks,
Keith”
(Heart swelling, BIG smile… ; ) Sometimes technology can be a beautiful thing!

I just wanted to share this great story with all of you and wish you a very happy day!

Fairwinds,

Nancy

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Map showing the location of the Gulf of Aden, located between Yemen and Somalia. Nearby bodies of water include the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and the Bab-el-Mandeb strait. By Norman Einstein

Here are some links to blog and stories of cruising yachts that have made recent voyages through the pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden:

S/V CONVERGENCE: Sailing the Med! Randy Repass (West Marine)

Pirate Attacks Force Leisure Sailors to Change Course

Noonsite.com – Piracy pages

Thanks to Nancy Zapf (S/V Halekai) for these useful links.

More links to safe passages through Pirate Alley

Pirate Alley Part 1: S/V Feel Free, By Tom Morkin

Successful Transit Through Pirate Alley: S/V Magnum

Aden, Yemen: Sailing Leander

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S/V Barnstorm, which went through the Gulf of Aden in March of 2007.

In other news…

Bill (S/V Bebe) wrote this post on the Cruisers Forum.com:

“I am currently researching UN Resolutions and actions regarding the resolutions that have to do with Piracy.

The UN passed unanimously Security Council Resolution 1851 in Dec 2008 which was submitted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. It authorized all countries to engage in operations defeating piracy and armed robbery off Somalia’s coast by deploying and using land operations, naval vessels and military aircraft, and through seizure and disposition of boats and arms used in the commission of those crimes.

On April 27, 2010, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1918 was adopted unanimously after recalling resolutions 1814 (2008), 1816 (2008), 1838 (2008), 1844 (2008), 1846 (2008), 1851 (2008) and 1897 (2008) on Somalia. The Council’s resolution called on countries to criminalize piracy within their national laws. Resolution 1918 simply called on countries to write new criminal laws regarding piracy.

We went from a resolution that authorized and invited military force to root out piracy to a new resolution that calls on countries to write new laws to criminalize piracy...the change also recalled the first resolution #1851.

Makes no sense to me. What am I missing here? Any legal eagles out there?”

Best,
Bill, s/v BeBe

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After hearing of the taking of The Quest with Jean & Scott Adam and two crew, fellow cruisers and SSCA Commodores Nancy & Burger Zapf (Halekai, currently in Phuket) wrote to say:

“We first met Jean and Scott in Suwarrow (Cook Islands) in 2005 and met up with them again in Fiji and Vanuatu 2 years ago. Thought you’d be interested to read the attached…They had been sailing with the Blue Water Rally.

Scott and Jean Adam joined the Oz-Med section of the Blue Water Rally just before Christmas and had been sailing with the Rally from Phuket as far as Mumbai. Quest had taken on two well-known rally participants: Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle. However, she chose to take an independent route from Mumbai to Salalah, leaving the Rally on 15 February. All information is now being handled by the US Central Command and their spokesman in Dubai.”

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Bob Riggle from S/V Gaia

So now we have the identity of the two other crew members onboard The Quest.

According to an article in today’s LA Times, “U.S. Military officials said they are considering a response after reports that pirates off the coast of Somalia hijacked a yacht belonging to an Orange County, Calif., couple on a worldwide voyage distributing Bibles.

Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette, deputy commander of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, told CNN on Saturday that the U.S. is prepared to intervene to rescue the couple if they are indeed aboard the boat.”

French Commandos have previously rescued the crews of two French vessels that were hijacked, by military intervention. In the second of these, the rescue of the yacht Tanit in April 2009, the skipper Florent Lemacon was killed by friendly fire, while his widow Chloe and small son Colin were rescued.

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Phyllis MacKay of S/V Gaia

No military attempts to rescue yacht crews by this method have been made since. Later in 2009 British cruising sailors Rachel and Paul Chandler were captured and held in captivity for over a year before a ransom was paid and they were released. The British Navy watched the hijacking at sea, but held fire for fear of hitting the Chandlers.

Piracy has flourished off Somalia’s coast for two decades. Cruisers are having to make serious decisions about whether or not to voyage into pirate-infested waters.

Zapf wrote, “The Thailand to Turkey convoy (TTT) of 30 yachts was just disbanded in the Maldives last week due to piracy fears. Some of those yachts have left for Oman, others are returning to Thailand/Malaysia. Still others are shipping with Sevenstar to Marmaris in March.”
Our prayers go out to the Adams’ and their families during this horrendous time. Let’s pray that the U.S. Military will defend it’s citizens abroad better than the U.K. did for the Chandlers.

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miami-beach

Miami Beach Anchorage

MIAMI BEACH – The 70th annual Miami International Boat Show opened this morning riding a wave of renewed consumer confidence, with expectations that the industry will ride the big bow wake once again in 2011.

“We have been here before and we have come out of it,” Thom Dammrich, president of the NMMA. Adding, “We have momentum on our side.”

In this morning’s industry breakfast, NMMA’s VP of Marketing, Carl Blackwell introduced the newly redesigned Discover Boating campaign which focuses on the mobile tech market.

boater-techNMMA has taken the lead once again and in an attempt to bring younger tech-savvy consumers to the sport, have just launched an app for the Miami Show for both Droid and iPhones. Also in the works is a new Facebook campaign to invite non-boaters to join in on the fun. The FB app will encourage those with boats to invite their friends to come out on the water and then hopefully “catch the bug!” Blackwell said he hopes the campaign will go viral.

Let’s give a big round of applause to the National Marine Manufacturers Assoc. for finally getting with the program and acknowledging the power of going mobile.

More than 2,000 exhibitors are at the Miami show this year, showcasing more than 2,500 boats, according to the NMMA. Along with Strictly Sail, the show runs through Monday.

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