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Happy Holidays!

December 21, 2012 – San Francisco Bay


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

While cameraphone photos are generally poor substitutes for the real thing, this one snapped by Paul Nielsen yesterday afternoon is truly magical. © 2014 Paul Nielsen

The rain settled over the Bay last night, but not before at least one adventurous sailor took advantage of yesterday's mild weather. "I couldn't resist going sailing during the break in the rain on Winter Solstice Eve," reports Paul Nielsen, who sailed his Olson 34 Culebra in the 2010 Singlehanded TransPac. "It wasn't cold; 55 degrees for most of the day — like summer but without the fog. Winds were in the high teens and the ebb was pretty swift, much more than forecast. I suppose it was from the river, swollen with rain. The south wind set up a 3- to 4-ft sea against the ebb in the East Bay. It was lively and wet upwind, to say the least. Off the wind it was every bit as fun as surfing down ocean swells. I saw a couple other souls on sailboats, including someone on a weathered Down East 32, but very few sailors took advantage of the break in the rain.

"Unfortunately I didn't have my camera so I had to grab this shot with my Blackberry. The setting sun pierced the cloud cover long enough to let me to run to the bow and capture this crisp but warm light, cast beneath the approaching storm cloud. I love the contrast of the warm tones against the almost surreal, deep hues of the cloud. The colors are the real deal, not photoshopped. What a day!"

The forecast calls for rain through the weekend, so only the most diehard sailors are likely to be out, but Monday is calling for clear skies. We can't think of a better way to enjoy Christmas Eve than by taking the family out for a mild daysail. Just be sure you pack some hot cocoa and that your iPod is loaded with festive music.

Speaking of the upcoming holidays . . . Latitude's World Headquarters in Mill Valley will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, then again on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. 'Lectronic Latitude will also be taking a break until December 28, so we'll take this opportunity to wish everyone a very merry holiday!

- latitude / ladonna

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News from South of the Border

December 21, 2012 – Mexico

Sweeping new immigration laws took effect in Mexico on November 9. And then on December 6, a new administration from a new political party took over, which meant many of the old immigration officials were replaced with people who had no experience in that part of government. The result has been immigration chaos for many.

The good news is that if you've entered or are about to enter Mexico on a standard 180-day tourist visa, you've got no worries. Todo es bueno.

However, if you have an FM3 visa, as many cruisers do, and need to get it renewed soon, you've entered an immigration twilight zone. The problem is that neither the immigration heads, the immigration officers, private agents who help people get FM3s, nor anyone else seems to know what's going on. For example, we've been told that nobody who applied for a new or renewed FM3 in Nuevo Vallarta in early November has gotten one yet.

Our advice is to relax and be patient — and don't apply for an FM3 now unless you have to. Indeed, some immigration officials say that you now need to leave Mexico in order to apply for an FM3, that you can no longer upgrade from a regular tourist visa while in country. We have no idea if that's true or not.

When it comes to boats, one local immigration head told a cruising couple that, since they'd left the place where they'd originally cleared in with Mexican Immigration for more than 90 days, and they hadn't checked in with a new immigration office, they owed a fine of $6/day for every day over 90 days. What?! The official solved the problem by changing the date the couple supposedly checked into Mexico in the first place. We've not heard from anyone else who's had a similar experience.

The best thing to do is relax, keeping smiling, and enjoy the warm Mexican sun — it's 84 degrees this morning at beautiful Punta Mita, with clear blue skies — and let things work themselves out.


Here's a nice shot of Barritt and Renee Neal sailing Serendipity, their San Diego-based Peterson 44 -- the last one ever built -- off Punta de Mita. While this shot was taken a couple of years ago, it's not completely bogus because the couple participated in the just-completed Banderas Bay Splash and Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run for Charity. They, like a lot of the Blasters, have continued on south to Barra for Christmas and New Years, after which they'll continue on down to Zihua. It sounds like so much fun we think we're going to start the new year by chasing after them. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2014 Latitude 38 Publishing, LLC

In more positive news, the Banderas Bay Blast and Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run for Charity last week raised $4,200, the highest amount ever. Thanks to everyone who participated and donated — and that includes everyone who did the last Ha-Ha, as the biggest single contribution was made in your name.

- latitude / richard

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Last-Minute Gift Solutions

December 21, 2012 – The Left Coast

If you're stumped — or perhaps in a near-panic — over what to get your favorite sailors for Christmas, we've got a few suggestions.

First, take off your raincoat, set down your car keys and pour yourself a tall glass of egg nog (yeah, the spiked version). Next, think about which of the following your hard-to-buy-for sailor would like best: sailing lessons from a local school, either to upgrade his or her skills to a coastal cruising or bareboat certification, or perhaps to focus on specific skills like spinnaker flying or racing tactics; a course to earn his or her U.S. Coast Guard-issued Captain's License; a gift certificate for his or her favorite chandlery or online gear site; or a down payment on a yacht charter vacation in some exotic destination.

We think any one of these ideas would make you a hero on Christmas morning (or for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa). And you can probably complete the transactions by computer without even leaving your home. Which means, of course, that you can have a second glass of egg nog.

So here's wishing you all very happy holidays — that are as stress-free as possible.


The sailor's eggnog recipe: 1 generous shot of Sailor Jerry spiced rum, 1 cup of your favorite eggnog, a splash of cream, and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg to top it off. Drink and repeat as required. © 2014 Sailor Jerry

- latitude / andy

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Racing Preview

December 21, 2012 – California and Sydney, Australia

The 2012 racing calendar is coming to an end. Locally, it's looking pretty sparse between now and the first weekend in January, although Monterey Peninsula YC does have a Christmas Race scheduled for December 30, and the Master Mariners will race/cruise from Clipper Cove to Pt. San Pablo YC in Richmond on New Year's Day. Coyote Point YC's Brrrr Rabbit is on the same day.

Cougar II
Anthony Lyall's Cougar II from Tasmania sailing in last year's Rolex Sydney Hobart. © 2014 Andrea Francolini

As we slip into winter, Australia kicks off summer with the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. The start is on Boxing Day (December 26) there, but it falls on Christmas Day here. If you can sneak in a break from televised football and other traditional holiday activities, you can watch the start and first leg online at Yahoo!7 starting at 5:30 p.m. PST (12:30 AEDT). Read more about it on December 19's 'Lectronic, and see www.rolexsydneyhobart.com.

Corinthian Midwinters
This year's Corinthian Midwinters had plenty of wind. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2014 Latitude 38 Publishing, LLC

The 2013 Corinthian Midwinter Regatta is shaping up to be particularly memorable. The series is held over two weekends, January 19-20 and February 16-17. In addition to the usual fun stuff, such as challenging courses, daily prizes, shoreside celebrating, and "perfect weather," CYC, in cooperation with the Bay Area Racing Federation, has designated the race on Saturday, February 16, as the Rob Moore Memorial Regatta. Rob succumbed to lung cancer on January 5 this year. He endowed a perpetual trophy for the race, which will be run both as part of the midwinter series and as a single-race trophy-bearing event, with additional prizes for "special" categories to be announced. It will also serve as a fundraiser for the National Lung Cancer Partnership, with 100% of all donations going to NLCP. See January's Racing Sheet in Latitude 38 for more details. You can save some bucks on the entry fee by signing up before Christmas, as 55 boats have done so far. Go to www.cyc.org.

BARF burgee
The official BARF burgee. © 2014 Bay Area Racing Federation

The early entry discount for the Lexus Newport to Ensenada Race ends on January 1. A series of seminars will be held in various SoCal locations in March, and the race itself starts on April 26. See www.newporttoensenada.com. They already have 76 boats signed up!

- latitude / chris

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