September 2, 2016

La Playa del Amor Reopens. Sort of.

A fantasy image constructed in Photoshop? No, while somewhat distorted by a fisheye lens, this geographical anomaly is 100% real. 

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Marieta Islands National Park, which includes La Playa del Amor — aka Hidden Beach aka Beach of Love — and is located at the mouth of Banderas Bay some 12 miles from Puerto Vallarta, has reopened. Sort of. It had been closed on May 9 because of damage caused by too many visitors. 

Although it’s been reopened, Enrique Ramos, secretary of tourism for the state of Jalisco, announced there would be severe restrictions on the number of visitors and what they can do there.

Thanks to some dramatic photos of the beach, which can only be accessed at low tide, and its unique round opening overhead, it had become an Internet and tourist sensation. In 2012, it was visited by 27,500 people. Last year it was visited by 127,371 people — including a reported 27,000 during the Easter break alone. It had become a mob scene.

A study by the University of Guadalajara found that the coral was dying, and warned the beach could only support 625 visitors a day. The National Protected Areas Commission (CONANP), however, decided that even 625 tourists is too many. As of now, only 116 visitors will be allowed per day.

The unique Playa del Amor in located in Mexico’s Marieta Islands National Park.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In addition, no more than 15 people will be allowed into the beach at one time, with a time limit of 30 minutes. Curiously, gear such as fins, face masks and snorkels will be prohibited. Diving will also not be allowed.

All this leaves a couple of questions. First, how does somebody become one of the 116 visitors a day allowed to visit the beach? Second, what are they going to do with all the boats, some that hold up to 200 passengers, that were recently built to cater to trips to the park? Lastly, what’s going to happen to all the hand-to-mouth panganeros at Punta Mita, who had recently given up fishing for the much easier and more lucrative tourist rides?

While some people may object to the CONANP’s decision, we at Latitude 38 believe they didn’t have any other choice.

Hardly Strictly Sail Pacific?

On October 27, 2001 the first Strictly Bluegrass Festival took place in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Within a few years this annual event grew to be the largest free music festival on the West Coast — if not in the entire nation. But as its popularity grew, so did demand for a wider selection of musical genres. Consequently, the fest was forced to change its name and is now affectionately known as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Clever, right?

Most folks we talked to liked the new location of Strictly Sail Pacific last April. This year’s show will be at the same venue, with a much-expanded format. 

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We mention all this because Sail America has just announced that its long-established sail-only boat show, Strictly Sail Pacific, will incorporate powerboats into its April 2017 event. While some diehard sailors may scoff at this news, we understand that bringing in stinkpots — that is, powerboats — is simply an economic necessity, and we intend to fully support the show, just as we have since its inception. Our only beef is that the new name is a little dry: Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show and Marine Sports Expo. Call us quirky, but wouldn’t it have been a lot more fun to call it Hardly Strictly Sail Pacific?

In any case, mark your calendar: The substantially expanded 2017 show will take place April 6-9 at Richmond’s historic Craneway Pavilion and in the westernmost docks of Marina Bay Yacht Harbor.

Even sailors who have no interest in owning a powerboat may see benefits to the expanded format, as we anticipate that it will attract many new vendors of boating accessories and watersports toys, in addition to powerboat manufacturers. "It’s our intent to make this event a destination for anyone with a passion for being on the water," says Scot West, President of Sail America.

For more info visit the show’s official website.

Paralympics Preview

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will be held on September 7-18, with sailing on September 11-17 on Guanabara Bay.

The Paralympic Games began in Rome in 1960. Sailing first appeared as a demonstration sport in Atlanta in ’96 and was first included as a full medal sport at Sydney 2000, where the the singlehanded 2.4mR keelboat made its debut. The class is known for close racing.

"I have been on this Road to Rio for 18 months now, and it has been a crash course on how to get competitive in the 2.4 class," says USA team member Dee Smith, a professional sailor and former Marinite who now lives in Annapolis. "The class has some amazing sailors that have been at it for a long time. I expect a very tight regatta in Rio."

West Coast sailor Jeff Madrigali, an Olympic medalist who won bronze in the Soling in Atlanta, spent part of July in Rio with his friend doing two-boat testing. "We were able to test out a possible breakthrough in sail design, rig tune, boat set-up and revisit some sailing techniques," says Smith. "We worked on currents, tidal variations, weather and geographical elements on the two Olympic race courses every day for up to six hours each day."

Two-boat testing in Rio.

Dee Smith
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Among the obstacles that Paralympic sailors will need to overcome in order to compete are budget cuts to the Rio Paralympic Games, according to the BBC. About the situation in Rio, Smith said: "It is not perfect down there, but our job is to keep the distractions to a minimum." For more about Dee, see

Racing for the USA in the two-person SKUD-18 will be Ryan Porteous of San Diego and gold medalist Maureen McKinnon (Beijing, 2008). Five-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Betsy Alison has been their coach. "I think we can compete with the best boats in the world," said Porteous. See their site at

Porteous and McKinnon, sailing in USA071, at the 2016 Para World Sailing Championships in Medemblik, The Netherlands, in May.

© Jasper van Staveren / Delta Lloyd Regatta

The triplehanded Sonar rounds out the Paralympic sailing classes. Alphonsus Doerr, Bradley Kendell and Hugh Freund will sail for the the US. This will be the second Paralympic Games for Doerr, who competed at Beijing 2008, and the first for Kendell and Freund.

The trio of Alphonsus Doerr, Bradley Kendell and Hugh Freund will sail for the USA in the Sonar class in Rio.

© 2016 Jen Edney / US Sailing

To subscribe to US Sailing’s Rio Report daily email updates or get links to the team’s social media and more, see the viewing guide at, where you’ll also find a detailed schedule of races. NBC Sports has not released their broadcast schedule yet.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In case you’ve been hibernating under an over-turned fishing dory, let us remind you that we’re heading into Labor Day Weekend, so the Latitude offices will be closed Monday, September 5, and we will not be publishing ‘Lec Lat on that day. We hope you’ll be able to spend some quality time on the water this weekend, but as always, be safe out there.

While there are never any guarantees about the weather, Ha-Ha conditions have historically been light to medium winds from aft of the beam.
While many Americans are stocking up on hotdogs, hamburgers and beer for much-anticipated Labor Day Weekend barbecues, many Hawaiians are stocking up on batteries, bottled water and non-perishable foods as dual hurricanes approach.
John Kearney’s Express 27 Salty Hotel sails past Point Bonita on the way to Drake’s Bay.
In living color — Latitude 38’s September 2016 issue premieres tomorrow. latitude/Annie
©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC The September issue of Latitude 38 will come out on Thursday, September 1.