March 26, 2008

The Expensive and the Free In Mexico

The marina at the Grand Hotel in Barra de Navidad, like all new marinas in Mexico, is not cheap.

© 2008 Scott Stolnitz

One of the not-so-good things about cruising in Mexico is that all the newer marinas are muy expensive. But this is trumped, in the good sense, by the fact there are so many free places to anchor. And in many cases, you can anchor for free right next to the expensive marinas.

Another view of the Grand Hotel and its marina, showing that lots of folks are more than willing to pay big bucks for a berth.

Beach House
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

This came to mind when we saw the above photo, provided by Scott and Cindy Stolnitz of the Marina del Rey-based Switch 51 Beach House, of the Grand Hotel Marina at Barra de Navidad. The Grand Hotel is one of the highest rated in Mexico, according to Condé Nast Traveller magazine, and if you take a slip there, you are entitled to use all the hotel’s facilities. That’s all great. But if you’re on a budget or just don’t like marina life, no worries, as you can anchor in the lagoon, a stone’s throw from the marina, with the folks on 30 or 40 other cruising boats.

Today’s bonus photo? Scott’s view of Beach House from the top of the mast. It’s a graphic depiction of one of the appeals of cruising cats – tons of deck space.

© 2008 Scott Stolnitz

Other places where you can anchor for free near expensive marinas are La Paz, La Cruz, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Escondido, Zihua . . . in other words, just about everywhere.

Local Sailor Drowns in Marina

Boaters and their families celebrating Easter Sunday at Marina Village had a holiday they’d probably rather not remember when the body of a berther was found floating next to his boat. Jay Thinnes, a commercial pilot, was found dead in the water beside his Hunter 31 Sunset Woman about 2 p.m. by the Alameda Police. They had been notified that he was missing by America West Airlines, after Thinnes failed to show up to pilot a flight that morning.

Thinnes reportedly lived in Sedona, Arizona, but regularly laid over in San Francisco, where he enjoyed sailing the Bay aboard Sunset Woman. (He had just been out sailing the previous day with his co-pilot.) Although there was no evidence of foul play, the incident is under investigation.

Happy 100th, Gordy Miller!

Local sailor and 74-year member of Richmond YC Gordy Miller will celebrate the "Big 100" on April 3. Gordy’s love for sailing dates back to 1934, when he joined the newly formed Richmond YC. He would have joined a year earlier as a charter member but he had to save up for the $5 initiation fee. Gordy’s home-built Snipe Cotton II won many races in those early days, before he moved on to El Toros and Zephyrs, continuing his winning ways.

Richmond YC was relocated several times during the war years to make space for ship construction. Each relocation was done by the members, so Gordy spent as much time building yacht clubs as he did sailing back then. RYC settled into its current location during the mid ’60s.

Gordy continues to actively sail the Bay with the RYC Sunshine Boys on Wednesdays, and cruises to Angel Island with the Geritol Lunch Bunch once a month. Gordy and his wife Margaret regularly help out with the mailing of the club newsletter and enjoy the comradeship of their many friends at the club on weekends.

Happy 100th birthday, Gordy!

Historic Irving Johnson Films

If you’re a fan of ‘real’ reality shows, skip tonight’s American Idol, Wife Swap, Supernanny and Big Brother 9, and head on over to the Bay Model in Sausalito to catch a couple of historic Captain Irving Johnson films. Around the Horn is a short film documenting Johnson’s 1929 rounding of Cape Horn aboard the square rigged bark Peking during a full gale. After your heart has slid out of your throat, stick around for Irving Johnson — High Seas Adventurer, a 43-minute film about the man’s life, including scenes from Wanderbird in Sausalito. Admission to the Richardson Bay Maritime Association presentation, which starts at 7 p.m., is free but donations will be graciously accepted.

Some of you may recall the strange tale of the Darla Jean, a 48-ft motorsailor that washed up on Fanning Island last December after spending 95 days "drifting" across the Pacific from Moss Landing.