WORLD POWERBOAT CIRCUMNAVIGATION RECORD

They shattered the old record of 75 days by 14 days!! Earthrace was a vision that did not fail even though immense adversity lurked along the way and that they never obtained a major sponsor to fund the effort. People would look at the boat and begin to dream themselves. They would donate what little they had; time, money, engines, steering systems, electronics, and a toilet that never wanted to work. And they had to do this twice. The first attempt failed.

I supported the first attempt by buying a race leg that I never was able to go on. The second time around, they welcomed me to join them anywhere along the race route and I hopped aboard in Colon, Panama to transit the Panama Canal, on May 10th. “Hey, maybe I’ll join y’all for the Suez Canal!” I said back then only partially thinking it would work out. “Nevertheless, I’m hosting the victory party in Valencia”, I offered.

My timing didn’t look too good for the Suez. I had a small cool, glamorous, black tie party at the Louvre in Paris with Duran Duran playing in early June, and then back to NYC for my friend Mara’s wedding aboard the beautiful yacht “Mariner III” on June 20th. Earthrace ran over debris, lost a shaft and ran around 1600 miles to Singapore on one engine where they had no money for repairs. People looked again at the boat, and they dreamed too. Losing only 3 days, they were on their way to the Suez when they hit horrific waves in the Asian and Indian Oceans which slowed them down, amazingly, just enough that I flew from the wedding to Cairo, took a cab to Suez and after 5 hours of sleep was helping them refuel the next morning and was soon riding thru the Suez on Earthrace. We spent the night halfway through at Ismalia where we were entertained by the Admiral in charge of the canal. The next day, I hopped off at Port Said and took their picture as they raced into the Med. That was June 24th. Both canals, same boat, westerly direction, 45 days. This might be a world record itself.

The finish line was at the Vulcan Shipyard in Sagunto, Spain. Media crews were there from all over the world. We had champagne and rose wines all afternoon at the Shipyard. This was my first job, by the way, entertaining clients of a Shipyard. ADDSCO in Mobile, Alabama and Jacksonville Shipyards in Jacksonville, Florida. Great memories! The next night was the main celebration where we had a great party at the host hotel, then a bus took us to “Disco City” in Valencia to dance til morning.

As long as man has looked over the infinite vista of an ocean, he too has seen a boat and dreamed. No doubt these mariners have made note of Earthrace’s success.

www.earthrace.net, Bobbo and the Suez

Oh yeah, it worked out for me! When I went thru the Panama Canal with Earthrace.net I told the guys, “If it works out, I’ll join you in the Suez Canal”, and it did. They were delayed just long enough from hitting debris in the Pacific to monsoons on the Indian Ocean, so that allowed for me to arrive in Egypt hours before they were to cross the ‘other canal’.

The Suez is an interesting ditch. The Panama Canal has locks to take you up into the hills that have now formed lakes, and back down the other side. The Suez has no locks, there is only a foot of difference between the Med and the Red Sea across the desert and is about 80 miles versus the 60ish miles of the Panama. The Panama is 38′ deep, Suez is 60 going to 66′. 20 Thousand died building the Panama Canal, but 150,000 died digging the Suez, mostly by hand. I’m not sure which canal I like better, but I know seeing them both on the same boat within 45 days is quite a feat, especially for a boat that entered the Panama Canal first and was heading west, the long way. In fact, this might be a world record in itself even with all the delays they had.

Suez sees 59 boats on average a day according to the Chief Canal Pilot, who among other canal authorities, hosted us for dinner as we spent the night mid canal in Ismalia. After dinner, I slept on a table in the outdoor restaurant last night, and somehow didn’t fall off it and slept fine until the morning reading of the Coran just before daylight was broadcast over the city speakers. If you’ve never slept in Muslim country, you’re in for a treat when you do. These folks take their religion quite serious. Well hell, now that I think about it, I was awaken in the Panama Canal sleeping on the deck of the ‘Majestic Sea’ by a forest of monkeys that make a noise much like a mean jet engine trying to get airborne. You won’t sleep thru that one either. So each Canal has a early AM distraction for you. Earthrace has no A/C, tiny fans, poor ventilation, and odors unlike anything you can imagine. I prefer to deal with some mosquito’s and find a place outside to be kinda cool, thank you.

Now I’m in Cairo as I’ve bid farewell to Earthrace for their leisurely cruise across the Med to Spain and hopefully the World Record Circumnavigation Record by a power boat. Won’t be long before I see them as I’m hosting the victory party. If you want to come, and hopefully support them financially, send me a note and we’ll clue you in. Valencia, Spain is where we will party down. I did go to the Pyramids today after I departed the boat in Port Said. These wonders of the world are now basically in the suburbs of Cairo. Very interesting sight for sure.

The Nile River runs thru Cairo, home to 20 Million people that don’t bother to pick up plastic bottles or the aluminum cans that litter the ground. They will hustle you somehow for a tip even if they only let you take THEIR picture or one of their ugly camel they want you to ride for 4 dollars. I guess there is value in that versus the Mojito I had in Paris. (Read that entry).

More soon.

Panama Canal and www.earthrace.net

20,000 people died from 1904-1914 building this canal. Talk about a having an idea! Coming from the Caribbean side, you immediately take 3 locks up, all very near each other and are elevated so high in a short period of time that you can look back over the landscape like you are in a high rise. Once on top, you travel thru ‘the lake’ that really looks like just about any inland lake you’ve seen. (With many huge freighters). On the other side of the ‘lake’ you begin to drop down thru a series of 3 locks and next thing you know you’re on the other side, ready to cross by Panama City, Panama and into the Pacific Ocean.

Earthrace is on their second attempt to break the World Circumnavigation record, and currently well ahead of the time required to do that.

Earthrace lures me to the Panama Canal

Ok, so last year it didn’t work out for me to put myself through hell riding a speedboat across the Pacific, but this year, on the second attempt to break a world record, the idea of going thru the Panama Canal sounds as interesting and much more sophisticated. www.earthrace.net is the site to follow them/us.  Updates on the return for sure here, so check back soon.

Maui – Earthrace Update

Hey, this is a picture of me and Pete Bethune the skipper of Earthrace as they landed in Maui. I was presenting him and the crew with Tibetian dZi beads(pronounced Zee) which among many attributes they are known to ‘ward off evil’, and bring about ‘good luck’.

As they were two weeks late getting to Hawaii, I was not able to join them on the ride to Majuro in the Marshall Islands.

Waiting for Earthrace 3

Well I’m here and it is basically as I suspected. Soft spoken people relaxing by the pool after yoga or chores; most of the girls are without tops, and surprisingly beautiful. This is a 20-30 year old group of free age types. A parent from Buckhead might be horrified if their children were here, while those from Midtown Atlanta would probably be proud. I suspect these folks are democrats to the core. Driving thru the town of Pahoa on the way here gives you a clue to the culture of this part of Hawaii. They don’t have any welcome signs, but the street has hand painted signs that say ‘Yoga’, ‘Reikii’, ‘Pilates’, and ‘Spiritual Healer’ to lure you in! By the time I got to the other end of town, I was laughing..not at them, but at how genuine this really is and not a contrived vision of Walt Disney.

This place I’m staying can be viewed online at www.kalani.com. It truly is worthy of serious economic analysis, here’s why. I’m about the only guest that is paying full boat for lodging. Most everyone here is a ‘volunteer’ which means they work some during the week in order to pay much less to stay here. Now isn’t that something..a society where you pay to work and are happily smiling! I highly recommend someone in college/graduate school needing to write a paper on social economics get over here soon. This is a best seller in progress. It certainly is a way for those inheriting small amounts of wealth or have saved a little to stretch their funds into the future while living in paradise. You certainly will not be totally disappointed at the scenery by the pool no matter what you’re looking for if anything.

There is no alcohol here. The reason isn’t that they are trying to be healthy. These people don’t have money for that. They are living on air. One of the employees that works full time brought a bottle of homemade wine and offered me a glass. I was happy to have it and not upset he didn’t bring more. All employees and volunteers eat three meals a day for free..that’s way better than using food stamps and having to cook for yourself. I don’t mean to imply these people are food stampers at all. In fact their system works incredibly well. Again, it needs to be studied!

So I’m off to do some exploring of one of the worlds most active volcano’s, snorkel with the turtles, or view the incredible landscape before my late afternoon massage.

Waiting for Earthrace 2

ONE DEAD FISHERMAN IS THE SAD RESULT OF THE COLLISION BETWEEN EARTHRACE AND A SMALL FIBERGLASS FISHING PANGA OFFSHORE OF GUATEMALA. COLLISIONS THERE ARE APPARENTLY A COMMON OCCURANCE AS MOST OF THESE LOCAL LITTLE BOATS DO NOT HAVE THE INTERNATIONALLY REQUIRED LIGHTS FOR BEING OFFSHORE AT NIGHT, AND THEY ARE SO LOW TO THE WATER AND WITHOUT METAL SURFACES THAT RADAR IS NOT LIKELY TO MAKE A ‘BLIP’ SO THEY ARE SEEN WITH THAT TECHNOLOGY. TO GET THE STORY, WWW.EARTHRACE.NET or to go directly to the emotional blog where the Captain met the family of the deceased fisherman.

On a happier note, I’m really enjoying myself in Hawaii. So far, I’ve been to Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and will soon be on the Big Island of Hawaii. I have reservations for a few days at a place that for all intents and purposes appears to be a commune. It is along the coast down near the volcanic lava flow outside of the town of Hilo. I will be there for a few days where they will cook healthy stuff organically grown. When you wake up you do yoga and/or hike and after lunch you do another type of yoga and/or hike somewhere else where they put down mats and do yet another different yoga. I’ve looked all over the website of the place and see no mention of a wine list or anything about a crawfish boil and a beer bust. No blenders can be seen in any pictures; much less is there any event that remotely sounds like ‘happy hour’. I think they play volleyball at what we would consider cocktail hour. Hey, when in Hilo..! I’ve heard of a ‘cleanse’ before, but is that what I’m in for?

Waiting for Earthrace

Waiting for Earthrace to arrive in Hawaii is exciting even though the endeavor is off to a rocky start. After an emergency propeller change in the Panama Canal, they experienced engine failure while offshore of Guatemala. It appears they made it to port there. I’ve been to Guatemala this time of year. They burn sugar cane fields, which puts a smoky haze over the landscape that probably would be beautiful otherwise.

I am scheduled to ride Earthrace from Hawaii to Majuro in the Marshall Islands, about 2500nm. My friends don’t get it. They keep asking when my cruise starts. What cruise asks you to bring 7 pair of clean underwear and a pillow? My mother gets it, she say’s “I wouldn’t go”!

I’ve been eating some great sushi, first at the Hyatt Regency at Lehaina, Maui, and then at a dive of a place here in Honolulu. I ate the liver of an Abalone Clam. OH MY! It really tasted like they said it would..like foie gras. The chef asked me first if I was allergic to anything and according to my recent one and only allergy test, I’m moderately allergic to everything but I do remember they didn’t specifically test me for reactions to clam liver!

I’m not drinking my usual vat of wine a day in preparation for my ‘cruise’, and hoping to be in the best shape for the ride. There is a 70 something year old California farmer riding here from San Deigo. What a guy! I can’t wait to meet him!

Somewhat out of shape old hippies smoking pot can surf like sonsabitches necked at a nude beach on Maui! There are several awesome radio stations playing oldies for those old hippies, and I’m enjoying reliving the 60’s thru the radio. I play the car radio very loud and no one has cared while stopped at the red lights. No one seems to pay attention to me here either!

Families are having plenty to do here from watching whales offshore and Koi swimming around the ponds at the hotel. I guess swimming in the pool is enough adrenaline flow for most land lubbers but it’s so neat to see the lone surfer. He parks along a vacant stretch of the beach road and paddles himself offshore and waits. I wonder just what all goes through the minds of people all alone eye level with oncoming wave’s hours on end.

Speaking of adrenaline, I heard about a guy I know of that got arrested for indecent exposure in an Atlanta Airport restroom. Seems he found a stall for two. That’s a weird way to get your adrenaline going and a fast way to ruin your day; maybe your life. Time will be the only vaccine for him. I suggest he fess up, separate from the wife, and move out to Hawaii and watch the hippies surf while sipping Perrier. They apparently won’t arrest you here for that and if they do you’d be elevated to high esteem and considered a martyr, not a pervert.

Later! I’m about to go hike up a crater.