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What Would You Have Done?

October 10, 2012 – San Francisco Bay

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

France's Team Energy has run into some rough water. © 2018 ACEA / Gilles Martin-Raget

On the evening of September 30, Energy Team, the 45-ft French America's Cup catamaran, came free from her mooring lines at Piers 30-32 on the San Francisco waterfront and drifted out onto the waters of San Francisco Bay. The cat eventually ended up a mile away on the Treasure Island shore. Fortunately, it had been a calm night, and the cat was only lightly damaged. 

It's unclear to us how it came about, but in the wee hours of the night, local sailor Todd Tholke became aware that Energy Team was on the shore. So he got his 14-ft Boston Whaler, pulled the boat free at 3:30 a.m., and later handed the boat over to the French team at Treasure Island Marina.

The grateful team offered Tholke a ride on their cat as a thank you. But according to John Edgcomb, Tholke's attorney, that's at least $200,000 short of what Tholke thinks the French owe him for salvaging their cat.

"Todd wasn't doing it for the money," Edgcomb told the San Francisco Chronicle. "He thought he was doing something heroic that people would appreciate."

Edgcomb's statement perplexes us. If his client wasn't saving the catamaran for the money, why is he asking for more than $200,000? It's an amount of money Tholke apparently feels strongly enough about to have had the Energy Team cat arrested, which took place after last Sunday's races. 

There are different kinds of salvage. Tholke is pursuing a case of 'pure' or 'merit' salvage, where there is no contract between the owner of the vessel and the salvor. Generally the courts determine a salvage award, if any, based on the risks entailed in saving a vessel, and the difficulty of the salvage.

According to court documents, Tholke claims it wasn't an easy salvage. After all, his 14-ft Whaler "took on water, its motor cut out intermittently and smoked from overheating, and was nearly capsized on repeated occasions." On the other hand, it was apparently an easy enough salvage that one person could do it in the middle of the night with a 14-ft skiff.

So who is Tholke? According to an interview he did with the San Francisco Bay Guardian, he's a street musician who lives on his sailboat. “I work on the docks and I’ve been living aboard my sailboat for fifteen years,” Tholke told the Guardian. “That’s how I supplement my lifestyle as a songwriter and musician in San Francisco. I live on a boat.”

To date, attorneys for the two sides haven't been able to reach an agreement. Which gives you, the Latitude reader, a chance to play judge. What, if anything, would you award Tholke for salvaging Energy Team? And had you been in his TopSiders, what would you have done if you had you spotted the cat on the shore? Email your responses to Richard.

- latitude / richard

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

Who Will be Crowned Sailors of the Year?

October 10, 2012 – Dun Laoghaire, Republic of Ireland

Having received nominations from around the world, the The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and Rolex recently announced the top male and female contenders for their prestigious Sailor of the Year Awards.

It's no surprise to see that several nominees were in San Francisco last week competing in the America's Cup World Series, as the roster of team members for that incredible event really was a who's who of top international racers.

Ben Ainslie
Although Ben Ainslie didn't make it to the winner's circle last week at the AC World Series, his finely honed talents helped his JP Morgan BAR team excel in the fleet racing until the final race, where Spithill (Oracle Team USA) prevailed. Ainslie has already won ISAF Rolex Yachtsman of the Year three times. © 2018 Team JP Morgan BAR

The male nominees are:
• Ben Ainslie (GBR) – Finn - London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist & 2012 World Champion
• Mathew Belcher & Malcolm Page (AUS) – Men’s 470 - London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists, 2011 and 2012 World Champions and 2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champions
• Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) – 49er - London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists & 2011 and 2012 World Champions
• Loick Peyron (FRA) – Outright Around the World Record

And the females:
• Tamara Echegoyen, Angela Pumariega and Sofio Toro (ESP) – Women’s Match Racing - London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists
• Helena Lucas (GBR) – 2.4mR - London 2012 Paralympic Gold Medallist and 2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champion
• Saskia Sills (GBR) – RS:X - ISAF Youth Sailing World Champion & European Youth Champion
• Lijia Xu (CHN) – Laser Radial - London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist

For complete profiles of the nominees, see the awards site. Winners will be announced November 6 in Dublin, Ireland.

- latitude / andy

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Ad: SailTime's New Hunter 39

October 10, 2012 – Pier 39, San Francisco

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Boat Fest Starts Tomorrow

October 10, 2012 – Marina Village, Alameda

The summer sailing season may be coming to a close, but that just means mellow winter sailing on San Francisco Bay is just around the corner! This is a great time to get family and friends interested in sailing because winds and seas are typically calmer — and, as odd as it sounds, warmer.

Head on over to Marina Village in Alameda this weekend to check out more than 100 new and used boats, marine vendors, seminars and more! Photo Latitude / John A.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

To get all the latest low-down on what's new on the scene, check out more than 100 new and used power and sailboats, groove to live music, and grab a snack, drop by the Northern California Boat Fest at Marina Village Yacht Harbor in Alameda this weekend. The event runs tomorrow and Friday (noon-5 p.m.) as well as Saturday and Sunday (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) and is completely free. Even the plentiful parking is free! Check out for details.

- latitude / ladonna

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Update on Immigration Policy for Mexico

October 10, 2012 – Mexico

Seemingly good news for Ha-Ha boats and other early southbound cruisers!

Last week we cautioned readers that there may be new Immigration rules in effect for cruisers heading south to Mexico this winter. Today we were told by a harbormaster at one of the biggest marinas in Baja that "a very high-ranking official in Mexico City told me the regulations will not go into effect before November 9."

Assuming that this is true, this is great news for the 148 Ha-Ha boats and other early southbound cruisers because we'll all be in Cabo San Lucas by then, having already checked into Mexico, and thus be good for the season. This being the case, the Ha-Ha will start on schedule and make the normal stops as planned.

As for what new rules will be enforced after November 9, it's hard to say. The problem is that some Mexican ports, such as Ensenada, don't currently have the manpower or facilities to follow the new laws. For example, to whom and how are you to electronically supposed to alert Ensenada 24 hours in advance of your arrival? Where are you supposed to go to have your boat inspected? Where are Immigration and the Port Captain going to get the staff needed to do the paperwork and inspections in a timely manner?

One of the people most concerned about the new regulations is Enrique Pelayo, the Mayor of Ensenada. We spoke to him the other day after the Little Ensenda and the Todos Santos races, and he emphasized the importance of American boatowners seeing Ensenada as not just a terrific destination, but one that doesn't require a lot of red tape to visit. He and his staff have been talking to Immigration officials in Mexico City, urging them to make sure that clearing into Mexico at Ensenada be made as easy as possible. Indeed, he is working with local legislators to get a law passed making Ensenada a special destination, where visitors by boat from the United States won't need to pay for a tourist visa — unless, of course, they are headed farther south or staying for a length of time. Don't doubt his commitment — in the big Newport to Ensenada Race, Ensenada paid for everybody's tourist visas!

Others concerned with the situation are members of the Mexican Marina Owners Association. They are in contact with officials in Mexico City, trying to make them realize how unworkable some of the new regulations are at this time, and what a bad impression they would leave. We wouldn't be surprised if the new regulations are kept on hold for long after November 9, until workable procedures can be put in place. But only time will tell. The absolute default for boats after November 9 is to check into Mexico at Ensenada. If you do that, you'll be good. 

We understand why Mexico passed a new law that makes it illegal for boats to stop in Mexico until after they have cleared in at an official port of entry. It makes all the sense in the world — providing they have the capability to clear boats in a timely fashion. We also understand that for many years the officials and businesses in Ensenada have not liked the fact that the Ha-Ha fleet and other boats have sailed right past Ensenada, and why they feel that way. But in the case of the Ha-Ha, the lack of manpower and facilities have made it impossible for the Ha-Ha fleet to stop at Ensenada.

But as we told Mayor Pelayo, we love Ensenada, and if things can be set up in a way where all the Ha-Ha boats and crews could have the paperwork done in the States in advance, and could quickly pick up their stamped paperwork and get their boats inspected, it would be a win-win-win situation for Ensenada officials, Ensenada businesses, and the Ha-Ha. For next year's 20th Baja Ha-Ha, Mayor Pelayo is working with Mexico City and local officials to try to make that a reality, and we at the Ha-Ha will be working with Tourism and the Mexican Consul in San Diego toward that same goal.

The awards party for the Little Ensenada Race was at Nico Saad's San Nicholas Hotel. A perfect setting. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

With awards in Mexico, you need Corona girls. A couple of the gals are seen bookending someone who looks a lot like John Prentice of the Serendipity 43 Scarlett O'Hara. Of course John and his wife Renee are cruising Malaysia, having been out 12 years now. Oops! That is John. He and Renee sold their sailboat in Malaysia and bought a powerboat in San Diego. But John still races. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The old but still world-famous Hussong's Cantina. It was still fun, and Mexican brides still observe a traditional of stopping by to have a drink. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The start of the Todos Santos Race, which featured a seven-mile weather leg to the island, and a lovely seven-mile spinnaker reach back home. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

An Etchells 22 nears the Killers surf break at Todos Santos Island, one of the really big wave breaks on the West Coast. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The 'new Hussong's' is Sano's, owned by Juan Hussong, within walking distance of the Baja Coral Marina. What a cool place! The Todos Santos entry fee of $30 included two of the most delicious steak dinners we've had in a long time. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Jan and Ramona Miller of the once Santa Cruz-based Odyssey 30 Jatimo, which was built on the Peninsula ages ago. Jan has cruised the boat all over, and he and Ramona sailed her to Australia a few years back. Upon their return to North America, they couldn't take the States anymore. They've been living aboard at Marina Coral for three years, and rave about Ensenada. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Irene and Lionel Bass of Perth, Western Australia, who bought Pete and Susan Wolcott's M&M 52 cat Kiapa, are two more who think Ensenada is terrific. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / richard

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