July 11, 2011

“I Don’t Give a Rat’s Ass”

We weren’t sure whether to laugh or shudder when we read Carl J. Carlson’s report on a most unwelcome midnight visitor. In the end, we did both.

"I anchored my 40-ft Catana Paradox in Barra de Navidad for a week in March while my wife went home to do tax paperwork and see the kids," he tells us. "One night I got up to pee and sat down on the bowl in the dark, as I usually do to avoid making a mess. I suddenly felt a scratching around my private areas! I jumped up and turned on the light to find a rat struggling for its life in the saltwater in the head. After examining myself to insure I hadn’t suffered any damage to my family jewels, I drowned the rat and threw him overboard. I did notice that he had scratched off most of the calcium stains that had collected around the base of the bowl, which I had been meaning to clean. I set some traps but never did catch any other rats, and the only food damaged was a box of ramen noodles that had been chewed through. I guess the salt made him thirsty and he tried to drink the water in the toilet bowl and fell in. I heard from other sailors that snakes as well as rats can swim in the lagoon and crawl up the anchor rode. My advice is to keep the toilet cover down when in Barra!"

Do you have any tips for keeping unwelcome guests — from roaches to relatives — off your boat? We’d love to hear them!

TransPac Big Boats Blazing

Hap Fauth’s R/P 74 Bella Mente is tearing up the racetrack en route to what looks like a new Barn Door record.

© Sharon Green

The big boats in the 46th TransPac are smoking down the course, having put up some big numbers since their start on Friday afternoon. Hap Fauth’s R/P 74 Bella Mente, which counts Volvo Ocean Race-winning skipper Mike Sanderson in the crew, is currently leading Division 1. Hot on its heels for elapsed time honors is Doug Baker’s Andrews 80 Magnitude 80, but it’s Lorenzo Berho’s Puerto Vallarta-based Kernan 68 Peligroso which threatens Bella Mente on corrected time, only 1.5 hours behind. After a 395-mile Day 2, and a 349-mile Day 3, Bella Mente is currently positioned right in the middle of the north-to-south spread in the division, and already passing some of Monday’s starters on the way to what looks like a Thursday evening finish and new Barn Door record.

Laura Schlessinger’s Kernan 47 Katana is leading Division 2, but with a large north-south separation from the rest of the pack is by no means safe.

© 2011 Sharon Green

There’s a heated battle at the top of Division 2. Laura Schlessinger’s brand new Kernan 47 Katana has vaulted into the lead, reveling in the power reaching conditions of the first 36 hours. In that same time period, Chip Megeath’s Tiburon-based R/P 45 Criminal Mischief experienced rudder bearing issues that forced them to throttle back for a 6-hour period before effecting repairs and deciding they could carry on. Engine trouble which nearly saw them run out of juice has also hampered the Criminals’ effort so far, and had dropped them to third behind Katana and Jorge Ripstein’s Acapulco-based R/P TP 52 Patches — with the Bay’s Skip McCormack aboard — as of this morning. But with only 8 hours separating them all on corrected time, this one is far from over, especially as there’s currently a 120-mile north/south separation between Patches/Criminal Mischief to the south, and Katana, which is only about 20 miles south of rhumbline. The weather forecast seems to indicate that the southerly boats might enjoy a little more pressure and a better angle in the next couple days, but if Katana navigator Eric Bohman has called this right and is able to cut the corner on the high, Katana looks primed to make mincemeat of this Division.

James McDowell’s SC 70 Grand Illusion is leading a very tightly bunched group of Sleds.

© 2011 Sharon Green

In the Sled division, James McDowell’s SC 70 Grand Illusion has regained the lead after three days in which the corrected time deltas have been incredibly small. Only three hours separate the top-three boats, and GI — which counts the Bay’s Will Paxton aboard — is in a good position as the southernmost boat in the division. Paul Casanova’s Flaca has been holding onto the lead in the SC 50 division for a couple days, with Jack Taylor’s Horizon about 3.5 hours behind about 30 miles to the south. Although less than the lateral separation of Division 2’s leaders, the difference may prove frutiful for Taylor and navigator Jon Shampain.

In Division 4, Rick von Heydenreich’s SC 52 Paranoia is the northernmost boat and currently leading, with ’09 divison winner Tom Holthus J/145 Bad Pak just two hours behind on corrected time and 20 miles to the south. The lone Bay Area entry, Andy Costello’s Pt. Richmond-based J/125 Double Trouble retired from Division 4 on Saturday with rudder damage and, as of last night, had reached Long Beach. Watch Captain Pat Whitmarsh reported that one of the struts that stabilize the rudder post inside the boat broke. "It was wobbling back and forth and letting water in, which wasn’t very confidence-inspiring," he said. The breakage was a repeat of the one that forced he and Costello to retire from the Doublehanded Farallones in April and had since been repaired.

Paul Casanova’s Flaca is leading the SC 50s, but Jack Taylor’s Horizon is not far behind.

© Sharon Green

Monday’s starters were finally been able to get going over the last few days, and Simon Garland’s Hobie 33 Peregrine is having a Hobie day(s), stretching out to a 3-hour lead on corrected time. Early leader Celerity — Harry Zanville’s SC 37 — inexplicably sailed as far as 150 miles north of rhumbline when there was no one else in the division even more than 50 miles north of it, and has tumbled all the way to the cellar, putting up a 166-mile day to Peregrine‘s 210-miler. Ross Pearlman’s Jeanneau 49.5 Between the Sheets has a pretty big lead in the Aloha division for the cruisier boats.

The big boat start of the 46th TransPac couldn’t have been more beautiful.

© Sharon Green

Many of the boats are already in kites and bombing down the racetrack after the requisite first day of jib reaching. The overall honors will be going to one of Friday’s starters for sure. What’s not so certain is from which division the winner will come. Right now, the top-four Sleds hold the top four corrected-time slots, with Flaca in 5th. Between days two and three though, Divsion 2 moved up into the top ten, and with waterline becoming less important as the wind goes aft, the overall picture could change significantly in the next couple days. The cool thing is that every one of the faster boats will be racing for those honors from some measure of an equal footing, having sailed in relatively similar conditions given the new two-day start format. The race’s tracker is pretty darn good, with all kinds of neat tools to play with. The "leaderboard" feature seems a lot less reliable than the daily position reports though, regardless of the tracker’s 6-hour delay, and for now, we’re working off the latter. One thing is for sure, this race has already been a hell of a lot of fun to follow.

We’ll get to the local action on Wednesday, with an update on Bob Johnston’s impressive win in a gnarly LongPac, plus the Island YC’s Silver Eagle race and other assorted goodies.

Stuck on Banderas Bay — And Lovin’ it!

The Zen Sailing Federation T-shirts are ready! You can’t buy one, you have to get one the old-fashioned way, by earning it! At which point we give it to you for free. While supplies last.

You can’t have a Zen shirt without the Buddha eyes on the front guiding you, now can you?

latitude/Nick
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

You earn your Zen Sailing shirt by sailing the four Zen course circuits around the Bay. The first is from the Encinal YC in Alameda to the mouth of the Estuary and back. We featured it in the July issue of Latitude 38. You really need to sail the course at least three times for enlightenment, but we’ll let you get away with just once to qualify for a shirt.

The new Zen shirts feature the famous ‘upside down Buddha’ and the colors acknowledge a Rasta influence.

latitude/Nick
©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The second Zen course you must sail is along the Richmond Riviera, the third is from Sam’s in Tiburon around Angel Island and back, and the fourth is along the San Francisco waterfront, around Treasure Island, and back. The details of the Richmond Riviera Zen course were to have been presented in the August issue. Unfortunately, we’ve been "trapped" in Mexico, so that Richmond Zen course won’t be revealed until the September issue, the Tiburon-Angel Island course until the October issue, and the San Francisco-Treasure Island course until November. So yeah, the earliest you might be able to get a distinctive Zen Sailing Federation shirt — and instill jealously in all your friends — is about Thanksgiving. If this makes you angry, just remember the Zen patience thing. Stop, close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing.

We’ve been trapped in Mexico by heavy rain through June and July, which postponed our bottom painting schedule for Profligate, which caused us to miss the gigantic weather window along Baja that’s about to close. To tell you the truth, we weren’t that crazy about coming down to mainland Mexico in June and July, as we always heard it is hot, humid, and rains a lot. And it’s all of those things.

The poor painting crew at the La Cruz Shipyard had to repeatedly re-tape the boot stripes, as there would be torrential rain almost every night. But it came out looking good.

latitude/Nick
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Profligate was so eager to get back in the water with her new bottom, that she jumped out of the slings and into the water. “You see that from time to time with smaller boats,” said one of the boatyard crew, “but I’ve never seen such a big boat do it.”

latitude/Nick
©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For example, it was 95 while we worked inside Profligate‘s salon yesterday, and sweat poured down our face like it was coming out of a faucet. And there have been times when we jumped in the unheated pool and found it to be so warm that we got no relief. As for the lightning, thunder and torrential rain, it’s mind-boggling. Two nights ago, all the cars on the main road by Bucerias had to pull off to the side because the rain made it impossible to see. And the run-off was so heavy that the plastic tables at Tacos on the Street were in danger of being washed into the marina along with trucks, horses, houses, babies and busses.

It rained so hard the last night Philo’s was open before closing for remodeling that the band played a ‘shockingly’ good performance on the flooded stage and Philo had the staff passing out free tequila shots.

latitude/Nick
©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

On the other hand, cloudy days mean the pools cool down enough to provide relief, and you get used to the humidity after awhile — and there’s no damn fog or marine layer. And, there has been epic surf. Yesterday it was breaking 10 feet at La Lancha, and the whole north shore of Banderas was going off bigger than we’d ever seen it. Thousands of waves went unridden. Plus it’s Mexico, so the people are very sweet and the quality of life is most agreeable.

As you know from reading the July issue of Latitude, it’s easy to live inexpensively in Mexico. The other night we went to Sayulita and had a sit-down dinner facing the plaza where a big plate of two fish tacos, rice, salad and all the rest was just $5. We and de Mallorca often spend no more than $4 to stuff ourselves with delicious street tacos for dinner. The biggest bang for the buck food bargain, however, has been at El Colejito — we’re guessing at the spelling — on the road out of La Cruz. For $10 we got a cup of fish soup, a bit of salad, rice and beans, bananas flambe, all the tequila we could drink, plus a whopper of a corbina covered with a subtle red sauce and nine shrimp. While the rest of the dinner was simply good, the corbina was among the best fish we’ve ever tasted. Oddly enough, the place closes at 8 p.m.

Like Martin Luther King was said, it’s not the quantity of a fish dinner that’s important, but the quality. Well, for less than $10, you can get them both in Mexico. Plus, margaritas that would sink a Cal 20 for $5.

latitude/Nick
©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

So when faced with the decision of having to either Bash north right away in less-than-ideal conditions, only to end up in foggy San Diego, Catalina and Santa Barbara, or stay warm in Mexico where the living is sweet and easy, we chose the latter. Yes, it probably means missing the Santa Barbara to King Harbor race and definitely means postponing the presentation of the last three Zen courses by a month, we know that Buddha would understand. We hope you do, too. So if you’ll excuse us, not only are the skies blue today, but the surf is still up, so we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.

That looks familiar! latitude/LaDonna
©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC For 34 years, Latitude 38 has been something of an anonomly among monthly magazines.
As the survivors of Sunday’s tragic fishing boat accident just off Baja’s Isla San Luis — most of whom were fishing buddies from California — make their way home, the Mexican navy and the U.S.
Twenty-seven boats started the Singlehanded Sailing Society’s LongPac Wednesday and, as of this morning, only four boats were still racing — all of them singlehanded entries.
Pedro Fernandez de Valle, whose dream was to build the 400-berth Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz, says he now has a much better understanding of his customer’s wants and needs.