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A Most Unusual 'Yacht' Charter

August 29, 2016 – Douarnez, Brittany, France

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

 With all sails flying, Agnes really moves. The mid-1800s cutters that Agnes is modeled after were purpose-built to deliver pilots to and from commercial ships, and were among the fastest sailing craft of their era.

© 2018 Classic Sailing /

Latitude 38 has been reporting on yacht chartering opportunities all over the world for as long as we can remember. But in the World of Chartering section of our September 1 issue regular reader Barbara McKenna reports on a charter niche we'd never heard of before. Last month she booked a berth for a week aboard the 45-ft cutter Agnes in order to experience the world-famous Brest Sail Fest as a participant rather than as a mere spectator. Measuring 45 feet on deck, but carrying a 20-foot bowsprit, Agnes is one of eight replicas of an 1841 gaff-rigged pilot cutter built by her captain, Luke Powell.

"The day after arriving," wrote Barbara, "I had a great time soaking in the sights and sounds of thousands of sailing vessels. I took onboard tours aboard the 183-ft Dutch Europa, a three-masted bark, and the 376-ft Russian four-masted bark Kruzenshtern, manned by young Russian cadets. Europa still sails around the world, and currently has a 52-day charter scheduled to Antarctica. Likewise, the Kruzenshtern has berths available for cruises around the Atlantic ....

Needless to say, getting to know the neighbors was part of the fun for Barbara and her shipmates. Seen here are cutter replicas similar to Agnes

© 2018 Barbara McKenna

"Looking around, we saw at least four other pilot cutters that our captain had built, sort of a gathering of the family. It was an ever-changing pageant to see the various maneuvers made while packing so many boats into such a tight harbor."

Perhaps the most exciting element of the week's itinerary was sailing with the fleet through the rock pinnacles called the Tas de Pois (meaning Pile of Peas). "As we got closer to the Tas de Pois, the breeze picked up and the boats started to pack together. There were literally 1,500+ boats all converging at different speeds and different times to pass between the two large rocks, which are only about 170 feet apart."

No, this is not a photoshopped image. The scene really looks like this when 2,000 boats try to sail through the famous 'Pile of Peas' (although this shot is from a previous year.)

© 2018 Brittany Tourism

If you've done a memorable charter lately that you'd like to share with readers, we'd love to hear about it. Ideally, charter reports should be 750-1,500 words. And don't forget to send along a small selection of your favorite photos (in medium to high resolution). Please email your materials here. Thanks.

- latitude / andy

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

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Get Your Mexico Visa Online

August 29, 2016 – Mexico City, Mexico

According to Mexico News Daily and other sources, the process of entering Mexico just got a whole lot easier, thanks to the establishment of a new website that allows would-be visitors to apply for and print out actual 180-day FMM (multiple entry visa) visas online. It remains to be seen, however, if this new site can be used by visiting boaters.

During the past few years we've reported often on new online infrastructure that allowed boaters to obtain Temporary Import Permits (TIPs) for their boats online, and for 'nautical tourists' to pay for, and print out, receipts for visas. But this new site may supersede that one, as it appears to be more streamlined. Boaters walked away from the older site with a computer-generated receipt for their entire crew, but then had to go through an additional process with government officials upon arrival in a Mexican port in order to get an actual multi-colored FMM in hand. On the new site, visitors can obtain an FMM, which is good for 180 days, up to 30 days in advance of travel. The fee is 332 pesos per visa (about $18 USD).

We haven't experimented with the new site yet, but it sounds as if it will make obtaining a visa much easier — at least for some travelers.

© 2018 INM

Before you sailors start dancing a jig, though, we should point out that the opening page of the site has choices for only land or air travelers. But hopefully that will change soon. In any case, it will make visa logistics much easier for friends and family who are flying in to join you.

Clearly, the new site's development was primarily engineered to speed up border-crossing procedures at places like San Ysidro, which sees roughly 22,000 southbound border crossers every day. But we'll check into the matter further and will let you know if it may be used by boaters also, without unforeseen complications. Stay tuned. 

- latitude / andy

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Latitude 38 Mexico-Only Crew Party

August 29, 2016 – Encinal Yacht Club, Alameda, CA

© 2018 Latitude 38 /

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September Racing Preview

August 29, 2016 – San Francisco Bay and Beyond


Nick Sands' Sabre 402 Escapade slips out of San Francisco Bay bound for Santa Cruz in last year's Windjammers Race.

© 2018 /

Like any good holiday weekend should, Labor Day Weekend will kick off a day early on Friday, September 2, with the Windjammers Race from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. You have until 6 p.m. on Wednesday to enter the race. As per tradition, SCYC will serve a clam chowder snack to all finishers, no matter what time of the day or night they arrive. For a bit of history about Windjammers, see Sightings in the August issue of Latitude 38

Outsider at the Brothers

Greg Nelsen's Azzura 310 Outsider at the less scenic of the two Brothers Islands, en route to Benicia in last year's Jazz Cup. Nelsen and Outsider, plus crew Stephen Buckingham, managed to win the Windjammers then race in Jazz Cup the next day. Their feat earned them recognition in Latitude 38 as 'Ironman Biathletes'.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

This Saturday, the Jazz Cup will sail from the main Bay north of Treasure Island to Benicia YC, which will host a big party with dinner, dancing and awards. South Beach YC will host a send-off party on Friday night. As of this morning, 85 boats were registered. Entries must be received by noon on Friday.

On September 2-10, St. Francis YC will host the International Knarr Championship, welcoming the Norwegians and Danes to do battle with the Americans.

Sequoia YC's Hannig Cup on September 7 is "Going for the gold to fight cancer." Founded in 2006, the event has raised three million dollars for varied charities ranging from Floating Doctors to Sea Scouts. The race will be held as part of Sequoia's Wednesday night series. Call (650) 207-7198 or (650) 400-7033 with questions or to volunteer.


A fleet of J/70s first raced in Rolex Big Boat Series in 2014.

© 2018 /

Rolex Big Boat Series at StFYC on September 15-18 will be the biggest ever, with 123 boats signed up. A large number of those, however, will be the smallest boats ever to sail the regatta. An international J/70 fleet will be gearing up for their Worlds, to be hosted by StFYC on September 24-October 1 with 84 boats from 16 countries registered. For a more extensive preview of Rolex Big Boat Series, see Sightings in the September issue of Latitude 38, which will come out on Thursday this week. 

On September 24, the Singlehanded Sailing Society will race to Half Moon Bay. The deadline to register and the skippers' meeting at Island YC in Alameda will both be on Wednesday, September 21.

Shields on Monterey Bay

These 30-ft craft with classic 12-Meter lines were commissioned by Cornelius Shields and designed at Sparkman & Stephens. They regularly race on Monterey Bay.

© 2018 Shields Fleet 7

On September 27 through October 1, Monterey Peninsula YC will host the Shields Nationals for the third time in the championship's 52-year history. For more, see Race Notes in the September issue of Latitude 38.

Many more regattas fill next month's calendar page; check them out here, and see our Calendar in the upcoming September issue.

- latitude / chris

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