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Cruisers Save the Day - and a Finger

September 21, 2009 – Neifu, Tonga

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Talk about multi-function accommodations, the salon aboard Solace was temporarily turned into an ER. © 2018 Gina Rae

While cruising, one thing you can count on is the unpredictability of what each new day will bring. That fact was reinforced early this month for Paul and Gina Rae when the salon of their New Zealand-based Hylas 44 Solace was suddenly turned into an operating room.

"William from the sailboat Eagle Wing had dropped a hatch on his finger, all but severing the top off through the nail down to the knuckle," reports Gina. With the help of Paul, who is an O.R. nurse, Doctor Betsy from the Washington-based Qayak put her best sewing skills to the test and the finger was saved.

William was particularly fortunate that both Solace and Qayak were in the anchorage, as the mishap occurred on a Sunday, when everything in Tonga is closed, including the local medical services.

- latitude / at

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

Windsurfer Found Dead Outside Bay

September 21, 2009 – 2.5 Miles West of the Gate

The Coast Guard recovered the body of windsurfer John 'Bret' Drasky, 65, on Saturday, about two hours after receiving a report of an unmanned windsurf board. A Coast Guard helicopter spotted Drasky's wetsuit-clad body 2.5 miles west of the Golden Gate, and was recovered by a lifeboat. The crew performed CPR until reaching Station Golden Gate, where Drasky was pronounced dead.

- latitude / ld

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Weekend Wrap-up

September 21, 2009 – The Bay

Some the world's top talent in Nordic Folkboats was on the Bay this past week. Bay Area sailors claimed the top two spots. © 2018 Peter Lyons /

It was another big racing week(end) on the Bay, with no fewer than four big events that concluded over the weekend. Saturday marked the final race for the Folkboat Internationals, held biennially on the Bay. With a bullet in the final race, '07 winner Dave Wilson from San Francisco held off a consistent performance from another Bay Area sailor, Eric Kaiser — who counted nothing lower than a third in the seven-race, one-throwout series — to take the title. Sailing with his father Don, and Tom Urbania, Wilson's final bullet was one of three that propelled him to his two point win at the Corinthian YC-hosted regatta. Following the Bay Area sailors were a pair of Danes — Per Jørgensen and Per Buch — and German Christoph Nielsen, who shipped his own boat over just for the event. The fleet hit many of the Central Bay venues for the racing that started last Monday — sailing on the Circle, the Cityfront and the Knox areas on different days. Look for more coverage on this awesome class in the October issue of Latitude 38.

Twenty-five 29ers showed up at St. Francis YC this weekend for the class's 2009 US Championship. Nor Cal Sailors Max Fraser and David Liebenberg were practically untouchable in cruising to a 20-point win. © 2018 Erik Simonson /

Over at St. Francis YC, Max Fraser and David Liebenburg gave the 25-boat fleet gathered for the 29er US Nationals a severe spanking — they finished the regatta with a 20-point cushion over the runners-up in the eight-race, one-throwout series. After dropping a sixth, Fraser and Liebenberg counted all bullets and a fourth, and were one of only six teams to not take at least one letter score.

St. Francis and San Francisco YCs also hosted racing for the Leukemia Cup with the former hosting the one-design racing on Saturday and Sunday and the latter hosting the handicap racing and festivities on Sunday. We've been chained to our desks, cranking away on the October issue of Latitude, and we haven't yet been able to find results other than from the first day of racing, or heard how it all went, so if you've got a good story or pictures, please send them here.

The Catalina 30 Nationals were held out of South Beach YC over the weekend, with 21 boats in three divisions showing up — seven in the spinnaker division, five in the jib and main division, and nine in the cruising division. Although the results are provisional pending protests, at this point Jack McDermott's Adventure took the spinnaker division, John Ford's Avalon the jib and main division, and Dan Courter's Ross' Dream the cruising division.

- latitude / rg

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Health Insurance in Mexico

September 21, 2009 – Puerto La Cruz, Mexico

We're all aware of the problems with health care costs in the United States. Here's a nautical example. A friend of ours recently had symptoms consistent with a heart attack while at Isthmus Cove, Catalina. So he was rushed to Avalon by boat — which is faster than the hour and 15 minutes by road. We don't know what that part of the transportation cost, but we're told that the two-block ambulance ride from the pier to the hospital in Avalon cost $1,200. Upon hearing that, our friend dropped dead. No, no, no, just kidding. He was actually released the next day with no obvious problems. But the $1,200 for a two-block ambulance ride is no joke. In San Francisco, it costs $1,400 just to step into an ambo. Geez, we wonder why health insurance is so expensive?

You might remember our report from last November in which the elderly mother of Philo Hayward — he being a vet of the '00 Ha-Ha with his Cal 36 Cherokee and the current owner of Philo's Bar and Music Studio in La Cruz — required medical assistance while on a cruiser outing to San Sebastian in the mountains high above Puerto Vallarta. She received attention from a doctor for about four hours, including the doctor accompanying her in the ambulance for the hour-plus ambulance ride to the hospital in Puerto Vallarta. The total cost? Fifty U.S. smackers. That's for the doctor, the ambulance, the whole works. So yeah, something is really screwed up in the U.S.

Philo Hayward has found Mexican health insurance to be very affordable. Photo Latitude / Archives
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Anyway, the real point of this item is that Philo, who is north of 60, wants everyone heading south to know that his Mexican health insurance, which offers complete coverage, costs about $120 a month. It's catastrophic, so the deductible is $2,000. But normal doctor visits in Mexico are ridiculously cheap, at least compared to the U.S. So if any of you are planning to cruise in Mexico for several years, you might look into Mexican health insurance. If you're interested, you can contact Philo via

Philo's most recent newsletter references an article suggesting perhaps an even better option. According to the article, some Americans have been moving to Mexico in order to get IMSS, which is Mexican Social Security health insurance. Apparently, it's also available to foreigners who have tourist visas. Although the insurance is only good in Mexico, it is said to cover everything — including tests, medicines, x-rays, eye-glasses, and even dental work. There is no deductible, and it apparently costs a flat fee of under $300 a year. If true, that's what we would call affordable health care. Philo’s newsletter had a link to the article. Unfortunately, the link was dead the last time we checked. So we’ll get more info and pass it along to you when we stop in at his place in November.

By the way, everyone in the States seems to assume that medical care in Mexico is third rate. That's not the review you get from folks who have actually used it.

- latitude / rs

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