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Photo of the Day

June 10 - Tiburon

Photo Eric Artman

Today's Photo of the Day is of the 65-ft charter cat Adventure Cat II sailing in the suddenly gloomy waters of Raccoon Strait two days ago. The weather was a shocking change after the uncharacteristic 10 days of fabulous weather we had before that. But hey, this weekend is supposed to be sunny and warm, just perfect for good old pleasure sailing, the Ditch Run, the Catnip Cup, and other events.

The Solution to the Panama Canal Back-Up for Small Boats

June 10 - Panama Canal

Not having anything much to do the other day, we decided to solve the problem of small boats having to wait as much as two weeks and having to pay so much money to transit the Panama Canal. The solution is the KMI Sea-Lift 65. This little puppy can pick up sailboats to 65 feet in length, up to 60 tons displacement, and up to 9-ft draft from a launch ramp. Then transport such boats at 5 mph.

So the idea for the Canal is that you'd pick up small boats - it reportedly only takes less than 60 seconds - from launch ramps, move them the short distance around the locks, then drop them in Lake Gatun for the long motor across Panama. When you reach the locks at the other end, you'd again circumvent them with the Sea-Lift 65. What could be easier, more efficient, and less expensive? Plus, it would be a perfect time to check the bottom of your boat and have the bottom power washed.

This is not some unproven technology, as the Sea-Lift 65 has been "in constant use for the past three years at North Harbor Diesel in Anacortes, a repair and dry storage facility. The shop area is located 1,800 feet from the boat ramp."

It seems to us that the Sea-Lift has tremendous potential not just at the Canal, but at crowded marinas, where boats that aren't used frequently could be stored on the hard, yet quickly and inexpensively launched when desired. This would be particularly useful at places where berths are in short supply - such as Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Sausalito, and Honolulu. In addition, it could be advantageous to the environment, as it would lessen the number of boats that need bottom paint.

The Sea-Lift 65 sells for about $300,000. There are also smaller and slightly less expensive models.

Domestic Clearing Form

June 10 - Mazatlan, Mexico

Today's Graphic of the Day is of the new official form used for 'domestic clearing' in Mexico as recently approved by the Director General of Port Captains. It was sent to us by Antonio Cevallos, Harbormaster at Marina Mazatlan.

Click here to download a PDF of the form. (PDFs can be viewed with Adobe Acrobat Reader. It's free; click here to download it if you don't have it yet.)

The form is a little blurry (a scan of a bad fax of a photocopy), so we'll tell you what it asks for: Name of boat, country where boat is flagged, documentation number, gross tonnage, net tonnage, where boat is coming from and going to, the list of crew and their passport numbers, the date and time. That's it. The top of the form is to check out of one port, the bottom is to check into another. (Once you've checked into Mexico for the first time, including the visit to Immigration and Customs, you no longer need to visit those offices again until your last port in Mexico.)

The default is that you have to fill this form out at the port captain's office in each new jurisdiction. Cevallos tells us the official word is that port captains cannot require the use of a ship's agent to do this. In many locations, however, marina harbormasters have applied to become 'Honorary Delegates' of the port captain, which allows them to do this paperwork for the port captain. In order to be so designated, the harbormaster has to pay a fee of $1,000 and receive instruction in how to do it. But many of them have done it.

In the case of port captains, there can be no charge for clearing in or out. A possible minor downside of clearing with a port captain is their offices usually aren't open as many hours a day or days in a week as a harbormaster's office. The limited downside to clearing with harbormasters is there might be a very small fee - $3 to $5 - if you're not a tenant. And, there are some port captain jurisdictions that have no marinas or harbormasters, so you would have to clear in with the port captain.

The bottom line is that the new 'domestic clearing' procedures for Mexico are fabulous. Yes, there is just a tiny bit of effort involved, but it should be quick, simple, and free. Thank you, Mexico, thank you, thank you, thank you! You'll be rewarded many times over with greater tourism by boat.

Speaking of sailing to Mexico, the volunteers at Baja Ha-Ha report that entry packs for this year's rally are going out in today's mail.

Tonight, Philippe Kahn at the Corinthian YC

June 10 - Tiburon

Contact the yacht club for details.

Heckel Completes Second Circumnavigation at Age 89

June 10 - Jacksonville, FL

That's right, for on June 4, 89-year-old Harry Heckel, frequently written up in Latitude 38, docked his Dreadnought 32 at Jacksonville, Florida, marking the end of his second circumnavigation.

"The event marked more than just the end of 16 years of solo sailing," said Heckel, "it marked time for me to get off the bridge and become a passenger. At age 89, it's best to let someone else do the heavy lifting aboard Idle Queen.

"The 10-year period of my second trip around the world has been a time of significant learning for me," continued Heckel. "It became apparent that people who travel to new places in small boats are, as a group, the finest in the world. They are interested in people, places, and events, cognizant of the need to be on the lookout for trouble, and always ready to assist a fellow traveler. My belief that on a one-to-one basis, people from whatever country can be friendly and helpful, particularly to the elderly, was amply confirmed. My traveling now will be limited to U.S. waters and with a companion. Regards to all my friends."

Well done, Harry!

Japanese Youngster - Compared to Heikel - Finishes Oldest Solo Circumnavigation

June 10 - Japan

Minoru Saito, a 71-year-old Japanese sailor, is believed to have become the oldest person to finish a non-stop singlehanded voyage around the world. Arriving back in Japan on Monday aboard Shutendoji II, it had taken him 244 days to go around. It was his seventh circumnavigation.

Crew Needed Now for Boston to Florida on 87-ft Schooner

June 10 - Boston, MA

The following is a paid advertisement:

Join a sailing expedition from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale, leaving the Boston area about June 20 and arriving Ft. Lauderdale about July 4. Volunteer crew, able and experienced, are needed. Seaworthy and well-maintained 87-ft staysail schooner with professional captain and crew need a hand for this great adventure down the Atlantic Coast. We'll be stopping in various ports and transiting parts of the Intra-Coastal Waterway. The schooner owned by Call of the Sea, a local non-profit, will be coming to San Francisco Bay to be used as a sail-training vessel for Bay Area youth. We may even do the Ha-Ha. Join us to learn and have fun. Email or call Captain Alan Olson at (415) 847-0426.

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