While cruising, there are certain supplies that many sailors consider to be essential. Beer is often near the top of that list — especially for younger sailors like the crew of the Seattle-based Amel Super Maramu 53 Delos. Unfortunately, in places like Tahiti that sudsy commodity is outrageously expensive. So what’s a thirsty sailor to do?
Luckily, for the Delos crew — Erin Russ and brothers Brian and Brady Trautman — they discovered five-liter Heineken mini-kegs on sale at a Tahitian duty-free store for $14 USD — about the cost of a single beer in the pricey downtown clubs. Not ones to pass up a bargain, they, along with the crew of the Southampton, UK-based Hanse 470 Ghost, bought 45 of them, and vowed to build a Heineken keg raft out of the empties sometime during the coming months.
"We drank and saved and drank and saved until the aft locker of Delos was overflowing with empty kegs, barely leaving enough room for our spinnakers," recalls Brian. By the time they finally had enough empties stashed to build a raft, their beer-fueled imaginations had come up with all sorts of variations on the theme — as if the empty kegs were some sort of adult Legos.
The kicker was that not long after that memorable day of fun on the beach, Brian found yet another use for the empties: he sliced them in half and made himself what we believe is the first-ever Heineken helmet and body armor, which he wore proudly during the Vava’u Regatta’s notorious pub crawl. We thought it was brilliant — and it even had a mouth hole so Brian could . . . you guessed it . . . drink beer!
Maybe you went to the Board of Supervisors meetings, maybe you didn’t, but that doesn’t matter for today’s ‘The Cup is Coming’ celebration, because everyone is invited to the 3 p.m. event in the Rotunda at City Hall. Larry Ellison, Mayor Newsom, Supervisor David Chiu, America’s Cup Organizing Committee Chair Mark Buell, America’s Cup Race Management CEO Iain Murray, plus AC Event Authority Chairman Richard Worth and CEO Craig Thompson will be in attendance. Like those who’ve already responded to our query in Monday’s ‘Lectronic about what the Cup coming to the Bay means for you we have many questions about how this whole thing will look. We’ll try to ask a few at today’s celebration, and we’ll try answer a whole lot more in the next week or so; details are forthcoming.
In Friday’s special edition of ‘Lectronic, we wrote about the plight of Paul Smulders and Julie Newton, whose 43-ft Laurent Giles-designed woody, Mia II, went ashore about 100 miles north of Turtle Bay on December 29. At the time, we had only the basic facts of the situation — the couple, who were physically ok, were salvaging what gear they could with the help of local fishermen and needed help in transporting it all north — but yesterday we received a call from an understandably upset Julie, who filled in more details.
"Three of our guidebooks noted that spot as a place to anchor," she told us from Baja Naval Marina in Ensenada. "The wind came up, and then the seas. Paul started pulling in the anchor because we’d started to drag but the windlass broke." Without hydraulics, Julie explained, Paul had to pull the anchor in by hand. "A bird had made a nest on the solar panel of the point’s nav light, so it wasn’t lit, and it was pitch black outside — we couldn’t get our bearings." As Paul hauled in the anchor as quickly as he could, Julie reports the depth kept getting more and more shallow. "We tried to power off but couldn’t make any headway," she said. Mia was soon laying over on a sandy beach. "She could have taken that," said Julie, "but the wind switched and pushed her over onto some rocks." The pounding from the seas meant the end for the beautiful Mia.
Julie and Paul spent the night huddled under some sails on the foredeck — "The fishermen thought the flares we’d set off were from narcos," she noted — and were helped ashore the next morning by those same fishermen, whose camp was about a mile away. Everyone pitched in to help the couple salvage what they could, and one fisherman drove them and the first load of their gear eight hours to Ensenada. They’re on their way back to the fish camp today to collect their remaining posessions, and will be staying at Baja Naval until they can coordinate transport across the border.
Pamela Bendall of the Port Hardy, B.C.-based Kristen 46 Precious Metal had a fabulous cruise to Peru, followed by lots of wonderful inland travel and the making of many great friends. We hope to have more on that in a future Latitude.
But almost immediately after leaving Peru for what was to be stops at the Galapagos (again), Costa Rica and Mexico before heading off to the South Pacific, there was a problem with the alternator. She and her crewed tried turning most of the systems down or off, including the running lights at times, but eventually they decided had no choice but to put in to land.
After burning up a lot of minutes on the satphone, Pamela received permission for an emergency entry to Puerto Lucia, Ecuador. Once Precious Metal was tied to the dock, the situation rapidly improved. The shorepower brought the systems back online, and a mechanic got to work on the problem, which was broken alternator mounts.
But then came Pamela’s meeting with four government officials and her ship’s agent. Three of the officials and the ship’s agent drank all her Coke. That was a minor annoyance. What she really didn’t care for was the Immigration officer, who asked for scotch while conducting official business. Not needing any problems, she gave it to him. But she was convinced that he was looking for a bribe. Things went along fine until Mr. Immigration discovered that the folks in the Galapagos hadn’t put a departure stamp in her passport when she left seven months before. Pamela didn’t see how it was a big deal, as she’d subsequently checked in and out of Peru.
Mr. Immigration begged to differ, which is what started a "ridiculous" two-hour discussion. At one point, Mr. Immigration threatened to make Pamela’s life miserable by making her go to Guayquil to check in. But the officials relented, sort of, when she threatened to immediately leave the country. They said she couldn’t be on the official crew list — what? — and that Precious Metal couldn’t leave the marina. As she needed food, they said she’d be able to take a taxi to the store, but not walk.
As the officials were about to depart, they asked for a bottle of scotch. Not very happy with the request, Pamela gave them a bottle of pisco from Peru. She noted that they opened the bottle as soon as they got to their car, and began drinking the stuff. She hoped it would leave them with a nasty hangover the next day.
In the wide, wide world of corruption, a bottle of scotch isn’t the worst request. But it raises the question of what’s the difference between ‘grease’ and corruption? And what’s the most you’ve had to pay to get something that you should have gotten without a hassle or at no charge? We’d love to hear your responses.