Maul Story III: Here’s a wild animal on human encounter that is both tragic and ironic. Bear lover, and self-taught bear expert Timothy Treadwell, 46, was killed in Alaska’s Katmai National Park, along with a female companion named Amie Huguenard, 37. Treadwell was the author of “Among Grizzlies: Living with Wild Bears in Alaska,” and founded an organization called Grizzly People, which was devoted to preserving bears and their wilderness habitat (as opposed to locking them up as pets in Harlem or parading them around on a Las Vegas stage). The full story can be found here. It is a cautionary tale as well because Treadwell, despite his expertise, was known for getting extremely close to the wild animals that he loved–close enough to touch them, sing to them, and give them names. Park Service officials, in fact, warned Treadwell that he was setting a dangerous example for other park visitors, as well as endangering himself. Though no one knows the circumstances under which Treadwell and Huguenard were killed, if Treadwell was crossing boundaries with the bears (Grizzly People firmly warns people to stay at least 100 yards away) he was ultimately a danger to the wild–emphasis on wild–animals he was trying to protect: Park rangers killed two brown bears near Treadwell’s camp site as they recovered the bodies…

“Oh Man, I should have stayed with the fish…”

Photo: Grizzly People

Mari-Cha-Wanna! As expected, the big schooner smoked across the finish line off the Lizard, at the southwest corner of England, to set an impressive new transatlantic record. Her time to sail 2925 miles of Atlantic Ocean was 6 days 17 hours and 52 minutes. That’s an average speed of 18.2 knots, enough to obliterate Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm’s current record by just over two days. Owner Bob Miller, who previously owned the record with his Mari-Cha III and had it taken from him by Stamm, can rest assured that he’ll hang onto this one for quite a while–at least until some other billionaire decides to build a 140-foot flat-out racing machine and takes it out record hunting. Mari-Cha now heads to the yard for some finish work before sailing off to the Caribbean for the winter. Hopefully, Miller will get the itch to take her around the world sooner rather than later. He believes Mari-Cha IV can top 40 knots (almost 50 mph), but the only place she’ll ever get the chance to do it is in the Southern Ocean, surfing a big, old greybeard with a ton of wind bowling her along. And that’s a sight I’d like to see.

Owner Miller: “Maybe the $10 million this thing is costing

me is worth it….”

Let Them Go IV: A few years back it was “Summer of the Shark.” Now it is “Autumn of the Tiger.” One tiger bites a performer in Las Vegas. Another bites a guy in Harlem. And…..presto…you get CNN, flood the zone coverage in newspapers AND a word from the New York Times editors who, taking time out from Iraq and the Middle East, opine thus in an editorial:

“But the ultimate illusion onstage at the MGM Mirage and at Mr. Yates’s apartment was always the illusion that these animals could be tamed, an image reinforced by innumerable publicity photos of Siegfried & Roy lounging with their animals. As Montecore and Ming have proved, tigers, like all big cats, remain wild under the skin, even if they have never lived in the wild. Big cats deserve better than to be kept as pets. There are as few as 5,000 tigers remaining in the wild, down from some 100,000 a century ago. Tigers have enough trouble as it is.”

You know the planets are moving into alignment when the august NYT is lining up with People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who managed to flame Roy Horn with a fax to his Las Vegas hospital room. Wrote PETA VP Dan Matthews:

“Perhaps Friday’s frightening incident will make you realize that a brightly lit stage with pounding music and a screaming audience is not the natural habitat for tigers, lions, or any other exotic animals….The only natural thing that happened on that stage was that this majestic animal lashed out against a captor who was beating him with a microphone because he wouldn’t do a trick….No matter how much you say that you love the wild animals whom you have confined continents away from their natural homes, you are still the men who have subjugated their wills and natures to further your own careers.”

Note to PETA: Ummm, I don’t think Horn is reading quite yet.

Cha, Cha, Cha!: Fresh from minting a new 24-hour record (525 miles), Mari-Cha IV also looks set to smash the current monohull transatlantic record of 8 days, 20 hours. So far she has averaged about 18.4 knots, and if she keeps that speed up (as she looks set to do given the weather forecasts), she’ll waltz across the finish line in the English Channel about mid-day Thursday. That would lop more than two days off the existing record, and set a new mark of just over six and a half days. Wow. It would also put Mari-Cha’s crossing time very close, if not under, the outright transatlantic record of 6 days 13 hours that Jet Services V–a catamaran–set in 1990. Jet Services’ mark survived eleven years and numerous multihull attempts, until it was broken by Steve Fossett in his 125-foot catamaran PlayStation in a time of 4 days and 17 hours. Mari Cha can’t compete against the modern maxi-multihulls like PlayStation (now called “Cheyenne”). But to be in the company of Jet Services and the previous generation of multihulls is unbelievable. Jet Services V went on to become, as Commodore Explorer, the first sailboat to take the Jules Verne Trophy by lapping the planet non-stop in under 80 days. Could Mari-Cha IV get through the 80-day barrier as well? Let’s hope Mari Cha’s owner Bob Miller takes a shot sometime soon…….

Sail repair: “Mother of God, this thing is HUGE!”

Everest is for wimps! The world’s tallest mountain gets all the hype, but if you are looking to climb the world’s most dangerous mountain you need to go elsewhere. Explorers Web is running a fascinating and eye-opening series called “Killer Mountains” which–using numbers compiled by AdventureStats–compares the fatality rates on the world’s fourteen 8,000 meter peaks. The series has yet to feature Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Shisha Pangma, but the big picture is already pretty clear. Overall, Everest is far from the world’s deadliest mountain. More than 1900 climbers have made it to the top, while 179 have died in the attempt, yielding an overall fatality rate of 9.3 percent. Of the 11 peaks examined so far, only Cho Oyu, Gasherbrum II, and Broad Peak have lower overall fatality rates. The deadliest? Annapurna, which has killed 53 climbers while allowing only 130 to summit, for a brutal 40 percent overall fatality rate. K2 is the second most deadly mountain overall, with close to a 27 percent fatality rate.

Annapurna: A real bitch

Photo: Explorer’s Web

What about in recent years? Explorers Web gives those stats as well. Since 1990, Annapurna and K2 have been the hardest on climbers, killing almost one in five, while Everest has just a 4.4 percent fatality rate. In fact, since 1990, Makalu, Dhaulagirl, Manaslu, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I, and Broad Peak, as well as K2 and Annapurna, have been deadlier climbs than Everest. Want to be able to brag about bagging an 8,000 meter peak, but don’t want to take undue risks? Well, the easiest of the peaks analyzed so far has been….Gasherbrum II, at 8,034 meters, in the Karakoram range. GII’s overall fatality rate has been 2.62 percent, but since 1990 there have been only 2 deaths and 457 successful summits, for a fatality rate that is less than half of one percent. Those are odds a lot of people can live with…..

G2: C’mon baby, climb me

Photo: Explorer’s Web

Southward Ho!: The polar expedition season is upon us and the Pole down under is the target of some ambitious shennanigans. In November, a British woman named Rosie Stancer will set out to walk solo and unsupported–no air drops, no support team, no dogs, just a big old sledge that weighs twice as much as Rosie–from the coast to the South Pole. That’s about 600 miles of wicked cold, howling winds, and treacherous crevasses. Rosie is being sponsored by Snickers so she’ll likely be relying on a lot of chocolate to see her through. If she makes it she will become the first woman to get to the bottom of the world alone and without assistance. You can follow Rosie’s trials here. Rosie will not be entirely alone on the ice, though. She has some competition, in the form of Fiona Thornewill, also British, who has the obscure distinction of being half of the first married couple (along with husband Mike) to reach both poles. It’s getting harder and harder to do something new, isn’t it? No web site that I could find. Finally, Brits Pete Goss and Alan Chambers will try to do what Robert Scott could not in 1911–walk from McMurdo to the Pole and back without freezing to death. Surprisingly, no one has ever completed the route that Scott intended, and Goss and Chambers hope to survive the 1400 mile journey with the judicious application of modern technology–kites to help them pull their sledges, the latest in clothing, a superlight stove. It won’t be an easy trek–across the Ross Ice Shelf and up the 10,000 foot Beardmore Glacier–but imagine how hard it would be to truly recreate Scott’s expedition….with 1911 clothing and technology. You can follow Goss and Chambers here.

Brrrrr..Goss Practices Being Cold

500-mile barrier smashed!:Well, she did it. Mari-Cha found favorable wind and took the 24-hour record through the 500 mile mark. At the latest update she had reeled off more than 517 miles in 24-hours, an average speed of more than 21.54 knots. She’s still cooking, though, and could take the record higher. The maxi-schooner is also on track, if the weather predictions hold true, to smash the transatlantic record, maybe even hitting the English Channel as early as Thursday. If she does, it will be an amazing run, taking down two of the big three records in one outing. That will leave the monohull, non-stop round the world record, which currently stands at just over 93 days, which in theory she should be able to break easily (she’d have to average just 9.74 knots). Though the Southern Ocean doesn’t have a lot of respect for theory, Mari Cha IV could have a shot at taking the monohull round the world record under 80 days (required average speed:14-15 knots, depending on route). I already feel like someone needs to build another huge monohull to give Mari-Cha IV another boat to compete against.

Are We There Yet?

WetAss Hall of Fame: There’s a new biography of Martha Gellhorn, one of the last century’s most extraordinary war correspondents. Gellhorn, a beautiful blonde, warmed up with the Spanish Civil War and then went on to land on Omaha Beach shortly after D-Day. She was there at Dachau, and covered Nuremberg, always writing with style, punch, and a keen eye for the human story. Gellhorn was perhaps best known for becoming Ernest Hemingway’s third wife, but was so dedicated to pursuing her craft to the far ends of the earth that she prompted an annoyed Hemingway to growl: “Are you a war correspondent or my wife in bed?” She answered the question by divorcing him. Check out the book here.

Hunting with Papa, 1940

Robert Capa, © 2001 by Cornell Capa

Mari-Cha Update: Still averaging better than 17 knots, and almost halfway home. With favorable winds on the way, the crew is getting worked up for a try at the 24-hour record (they’d like to be the first monohull to sail 500 miles in a day). Here’s a taste of life from onboard. Getting fish wrapped around the keel is an increasingly common feature of record-breaking sailing, as the boats get faster and faster.

Sunday 5th October 2003 6:26:41 UTC

Update by Mike ‘Moose’ Sanderson: Helmsman

Well, day three has really turned it on for us. After having tacked through the trough yesterday afternoon, we have since been reaching on course at nice high speeds.

We have had a couple of little situations over the last 12 hours: firstly, last night we where sailing along at 20 plus knots and we heard a thud. We knew we hadn’t hit anything hard but where struggling to get the boat back up to speed. After checking that we weren’t dragging an old fishing net or something, we decided to trapeze Jan off the side of the boat on a halyard with a big torch to see if he could see the reason for us struggling to get back to our nice high 20 plus knots. He could see a shadow on the keel – which is canted out to weather 40 degrees when we are reaching so making it a lot closer to the surface and easier then most Yachts to see. Unfortunately we identified the culprit as some form of sea life – a shark or a sunfish or something had got itself stuck on the keel at high speed!!! Ouch!!!!

Having identified the cause, we had to drop the Jibtop and go about backing the boat down (sailing backwards) so that we could get the poor thing off the keel. It was a really successful mission for everyone apart from the fish and soon we where back doing our frantic pace towards England.

The early hours of the morning brought our second bit of excitement for the day: this time we where blasting along with the Code 7 on ,which is a tight luffed reaching Gennaker, and the luff rope snapped. This sent the whole 470 square metres of Cuben Fiber into the ocean. Fortunately, with the whole crew lining the gunwale of the boat we where able to haul the thing back on board in one piece and the guys set straight to work fixing it. The good news is that it was time for a sail change anyway so luck seems to be on our side at this stage and the Code 7 also lives to fight another day.

The grey North Atlantic

Let them go III:

Tiger attacks Roy onstage

Illusionist listed in critical condition after bite to neck



A white tiger mauled superstar illusionist Roy Horn during a Friday night performance of Siegfried & Roy at The Mirage, severely injuring the Strip performer.

Horn, who turned 59 on Friday, got out of surgery shortly after 11:30 p.m. He was in critical condition at University Medical Center after suffering severe blood loss from a bite wound to the left side of his neck.

“The full extent of his injuries will not be known for two or three days,” MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said late Friday outside the hospital.

Horn had just brought the tiger onstage during the 7:30 p.m. performance and told audience members it was making its first appearance in the show.

Audience members said the tiger, a 7-year-old named Montecore who actually has performed in the show for years, refused a command to lie down and then clamped its jaws on Horn’s right arm.

The magician repeatedly struck the animal in the head with a microphone, the sound reverberating throughout the auditorium.

The tiger then lunged at Horn, clamped its jaws around his neck and pulled him out of the audience’s view, horrified tourists said after filing out of the show.

Roy is on right. Tiger looks fed up (no pun intended).

Click here to read the full story.

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