Monday, March 31, 2008

Suddenly Swimming

I don't know why, but the Doublehanded Farallones Race produces more "adventures" than any other event on the California coast.

Well, a windy ocean, a narrow Golden Gate Strait, some pretty big currents and doing it in the springtime certainly factor in. We saw 30 knots out there over the weekend--Gitana 13 started for Yokohama because that's the breeze they wanted, but then the guys didn't like the sea state at all--and 30 knots is not uncommon in the springtime in the Gulf of the Farallones. And when it blows for a while you get your 10-15 foot seas and an occasional sneaker.

Having been around the Southeast Farallon a few times (or more), and being unable to remember a time when I ever clicked in with a harness, I reckon I won't be preaching to anyone what a good idea it is to do just that. But I suspect that two people by the names of Luc de Faymoreau and Disun Den Daas are recent converts to the concept.

They were pitched out of their boat and . . .

[Luc has checked in with a must-read comment, and he's not so sure about this harness thing. Find Comment at bottom. Thank you, Luc.]

. . . yep, just like that, there they were, swimming in the Pacific Ocean about five miles returned from the island and 20 miles out of the Gate. There had been a moment when something sneaked up on them, and they lost control (Luc: "We were SNAPPED off the boat in a violent motion, what I call a pitchpole/broach")and thus lost contact with one Olson 40 named Pterodactyl.

Fortunately, Clifford Shaw was nearby. He saw Pterodactyl go down and around and turn into the wind, then sail away looking not quite right. He went to investigate, and almost before the fear of death could set in, Faymoreau and Den Daas were aboard Shaw's Crowther 36 catamaran, Rainbow. They set out chasing Pterodactyl and were soon joined by the Coast Guard, which had been alerted when another boat encountered a crew-less Olson 40 and MOB gear in the water. It was too rough to transfer anyone aboard, however, and in the next scene we find our Samaritan Shaw donating his EPIRB to the cause. It was tossed into the cockpit of Pterodactyl.

Darkness fell.

At last report, boat awol out there somewhere. Sailors safe. An aerial search on Monday by a stalwart volunteer turned up nothing. (EPIRB presumably ejected from cockpit, much like sailors.)

Luc, if Pterodactyl beats Gitana to Japan, the beers are on me.

Okay, that's it. Don't overlook Luc's comment below, and if you want a good April Fool's read, I recommend clicking into Scuttlebutt Europe, pour l'exemple:

"Panic In Minden As Sail Membrane Gains Self Awareness."

3N's IQ is now at least 300 and climbing. Terrified scientists disconnected the membrane and all North computers from the internet. Turning off the power to the facility had no effect (other than making the membrane a bit petulant), as 3N has learned to generate electricity from the internal movement of subatomic particles and is now fully self generating.

"We are playing Mozart 24x7 to it and have a team of scientists reading 3N the entire Harvard Classics library and all the world's books on philosophy and religion in hopes that it will decide that kindness and goodwill towards man is the way to go . . . "

April 1. It's a good day for sailing, and that's no foolin'—Kimball