Thursday, October 30, 2008

Change in Course - equipment failure in the South Atlantic

Issuma took off from the Canaries a few weeks back with two replacement roller furling devices on back order for delivery to Capetown, SA.  A roller furler?   (Think of the spindle on a yo-yo, turn it horizontal, extending the spindle so that it is a 40' axle around which the  sail is wrapped. )   Now two of the units have failed.  So the next port will be someplace in South America for repairs.  They are following a familiar path: go west, curve around under the "south atlantic high pressure" zone.   You'll get more details here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Panama Canal - is that half-way...or far enough?

Jesse and Andy have reached the Panama Canal. That's a landmark. The Miraflores Locks. They have a lot of mosquitoes, don't they? Next stop Colombia. but you can't get there from there. You need a boat or a plane. I think Pascale joins them there, then it's off to Quito. Is that far enough for a motorcycle diary? Anyway you can stay posted by clicking on Southbound 650

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Private Idaho

It's getting clearer that what this blog is about is envy.  My mountain biking days never came and they have definitely went.  God I miss it.  Here's the Pioneer Mountains in Idaho.  The slide show tells you why and the Times travel story tells you how.  

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chi. Tribune Endorses Obama, 100,000 in St. Louis, and Colin Powell!

For the first time in 160 years the Chicago Tribune has endorsed a Democrat for President. No reason to hold Lincoln, Grant, or TR against them, at least. But like the Prodigal Son all is forgiven now. As conservative public intellectuals like Brooks, Sullivan, Hitchens, and Christopher Buckley (son of William F., National Review founder) bailed out on McCain and embraced Obama I wondered if the masses would go the same way. Today's 100,000 in St. Louis to hear Obama may be the answer.
And then there's the Colin Powell endorsement:

Coast Guard: McCain, Palin, and Biden each has a child in Iraq. We've got one on shoreline defense duty - the head of Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron - where you can almost see Canada, which is, as Sarah Palin reminded us, a foreign country! Taisy is a field organizer for Obama in Bay City, Michigan.

If you want to help: Volunteer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Issuma crossses the equator

Richard and George have crossed the equator.  Their position  1.49 South 27 west - nearing Brazil in the `strait' between Africa and South America. the 4 stars of the southern cross guide them now.  If they get clear skies - which we never did when we went to Valparaiso, Chile.  7 days - never saw the stars of the southern hemisphere on our trip to visit Taisy a couple of years back.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fishing for Shiners by the Lot on the Bay

When we fished for snappers, with long bamboo poles across the street from our house on South Oyster Bay we always used frozen spearing.  I still do, though the ravenous little blue fish will bite on anything that shines, including a piece of shiny metal with three hooks on the end.  So the shiners, as we also called them, are really not needed.

Turns out that the little fish are a Bengali delicacy, as this Times article and video demonstrate.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Volvo Ocean Race

It used to be called the Whitbread Round the World Race.  Sponsored by a brewery, a big ketch called Steinlager skippered by a kiwi - Sir Peter Blake - won it 1990.  But in 1997 it all changed: everyone sailed boats of the same class. Boats were named after multi-nationals, like Dennis Conner's Toshiba, hulls and sails had ad's on them, and you could follow them on the web (dial-up).    It was the new economy boats that caught my eye:  EF Language's two boats, one with an all women crew, and Brunel-Sunergy (Dutch software and solar power outfits).  

San Francisco America's Cup star Paul Cayard proved he could master the high seas and took 1st in EF Language.  Dutch Olympian Roy Heiner was a come-from-behinder on BrunSun.  They can sail, the Lowlanders.  Heiner and crew took a 200 mile flyer after Cape Horn, went east of the Falklands, leap-frogged the fleet, and landed tanned, lean, hungry, and horny  in Rio de Janeiro for Mardi Gras.  Every boy's dream.

The 1997-1998 race introduced us to the work of photographer Richard Langdon, whose images you see here.  Two of his photos of Brun Sun are in our apartment.  I eat every meal beneath the shot taken on a beautiful day off the coast of France.  Richard's website - Ocean Images - shows much of his work - including at Qing Dao - site of the Beiing Olympics sailing events.

Qing Dao is a port on the new Volvo Ocean Race course, which follows trade routes - Volvo's trade routes - not the racing sailor's shortest course circumnavigation - head south, circumnavigate Antarctica, head home.

The race started from Spain Saturday October 11, 2008 - and concludes next spring.  you can follow it at

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Steve Fossett - Voyager

A blog called Voyages must pay tribute to the premier adventurer of our age - Steve Fossett.  The crash site and some of his belongings were found by a hiker and confirmed by the NTSB according to this New York
Times acccount.  His plane's wreckage was found by  Preston Morrow, a hiker, at 10,000 feet in the mountains of the Ansel Adams wiilderness in California.

Fossett was a finance man whose wealth was called "vast, eight figure"  in pleadings to declare the missing pilot legally dead before the wreckage and remains were found.  But it was voyaging that owned Fossett, born in 1945 - like me and Van Morrison, to implausibly bracket myself in glory.  Fossett was first around the world in a hot air balloon (solo), first in solo flight around the world, and held the world distance record in a glider - 1,500 kilometers.

But it was sailing that caught my attention.  Driving Playstation, a maxi-catamaran, in 2001 he set the round the world speed record (58 days 9 hours 32 minutes and 45 seconds) and four others, including the Christopher Columbus 1492 route (9 days, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 18 seconds ).    The design genius of Morelli & Melvin  was behind Playstation - the craft for the 2001 campaign, for which Fossett was named Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.

James Stephen Fossett, 63, lost and presumed dead, September 3, 2007, declared dead February 2008.  He leaves his wife of 39 years Peggy Fossett, and a long trail of wonder.