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June 2015

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GO WHEN? GO NOW. GO HOW? GO SIMPLE

A warm hello to Latitude from the Winship family! It's now been five years since we arrived back in California after a wonderful 10 years of cruising aboard our beloved 33-ft Crowther catamaran Chewbacca. As the Wanderer will remember, our trip started with the 2000 Baja Ha-Ha. My, how time flies! I'm just putting the finishing touches on a book about our cruising adventures that my husband Bruce and I have spent the last few years writing. As we looked back at our Changes in Latitude contributions, we thought of everyone at the magazine.

What are we up to? Daughter Kendall is finishing her junior year at the University of Nevada, Reno as an English/Spanish major. She would like to become a high school teacher. Quincy is completing her freshman year at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, where she is a criminal justice major and is a member of their shotgun sports team. Bruce is still working, I am keeper of the home front, and my focus now is on getting our book ready to print — hopefully by year's end.

As we look back on our years of cruising, they were some of the best of our lives. Our daughters benefited immensely from having being brought up on a boat. Their enlarged worldview has been a great asset in all they do. I would encourage anyone thinking about the cruising life with their kids to 'go simple and go now.' That's what the Pardeys recommended — and that's what we did!

Bruce, April, Kendall and Quincy Winship
ex-Chewbacca, Crowther 33
Clayton, CA

April — It's great to hear from you. Ten years for your family on your little 33-ft cat, and as we recall you made it at least as far as Cartagena. We were and still are impressed.

When you say time flies, you're not kidding. We just looked over the 137 entries from the 2000 Ha-Ha and can't believe we knew all those people from so long ago. And some are still going strong. Myron and Marina Eizenzimmer of the Mill Valley-based Swan 44 Mykonos, for example, were number one on that year's Ha-Ha list. They're doing the Ha-Ha again this year. The 2000 Ha-Ha was also the one that brought Philo Hayward to Mexico aboard his Cal 36 Cherokee Spirit. He, of course, has been running Philo's Music Studio/Bar/Restaurant in La Cruz almost ever since. Stopping in at Philo's from time to time are Keith and Susan Levy, who did the 2000 Ha-Ha with their Catalina 470 C'est La Vie. The 2000 Ha-Ha also started the cruising career of Bob Willmann on his Colorado-based Islander 37 Viva! Bob lost that boat in a hurricane at Isla Providencia a number of years ago. But if you read this month's Changes, you see that Bob replaced his Islander with Casamance 47 Viva! and is still living what he considers to be the "privileged" cruising life.

If you were in the Ha-Ha Class of 2000 and are still sailing, we'd love to hear from you.


WHAT I'VE GOT. WHAT I NEED TO SAIL TO MEXICO

I have a Catalina 27 that I'm planning to sail down the coast of Baja to Cabo San Lucas, and I have a few questions about our trip south. First, what electronic equipment and navigation gear should I have? I don't have a big budget, and I don't have a GPS, radio or solar panels. What should I have installed on the boat?

What I do have are anchors and good sails, and am going to have my rigging and lines inspected before I take off. I also have the safety equipment, including life vests, flares and fire extinguishers.

Secondly, is there any real issue with making such a trip in early June? I know summer winds could be a bit tougher, but I will have a crew of three or four, and will make sure that everyone is clear about all the how-to's before we take off.
I have posted my questions on several sailing forums and haven't gotten a single response. And when I've asked around at the local boat show, I seemed to get the 'I'm too cool' runaround instead of answers.

I'd also like to thank Latitude for all the very informative articles you've published or run on the web with regard to sailing down the Baja coast.

Ryan Greenspan
Catalina 27
cyberspace

Ryan — We'll answer your second question first. If you're heading south for Cabo in June, you're heading for Cabo during hurricane season. It's still pretty early in the season and the chances of your being affected are low, but they are nonetheless real south of Turtle Bay. For historical perspective on hurricanes in Mexico, visit http://weather.unisys.com/hurricane/, then click Eastern Pacific.

That said, we always bring
Profligate north from Puerto Vallarta during hurricane season, and will be doing it again this summer. We do it because we think the winds tend to be lighter, not stronger, along the Baja coast at that time of year. But we do have a satphone to get long-range and updated tropical storm forecasts, and probably have twice the speed of your boat if we need to avoid bad weather.

Now for the first question. If you are the adventurous type, we don't think you need much electronic equipment to sail to Cabo. For navigation, we'd recommend an iPhone or iPad with Navionics charts. Make sure the iDevice has a built-in GPS, which all the later models do. An iDevice with Navionics is all we ever use for navigation in the States, Mexico and the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the charts often have been off by a mile or so in Mexico, so unless you can triple-check your position with radar and a depthsounder, you want to be conservative when approaching land. But all things considered, the coast of Baja is unusually easy to navigate.

We would also encourage you to dead reckon as you go, both for backup and because it's fun. Every half hour you note the boat speed and course, and update your position on your chart. Then you compare your position with the real one you get from the iDevice. You'll be amazed at how good you get at DR, which is a good thing, because then you won't freak if/when you drop your iDevice overboard. For what it's worth, we dead reckoned the entire way to Cabo and La Paz on our first trip south in 1981 because everybody in our crew was too lazy to use the sextant and because GPS still hadn't been invented.
Ideally, your boat would also be equipped with a depthsounder, radar and AIS, as they help with both navigation and keeping from getting hit by ships. But if we were you and didn't have them or couldn't afford them, we wouldn't let it stop us from going south. Unless we had small chlldren.

You do need a VHF radio. For communication, emergencies and backup navigation, we'd highly recommend a DeLorme inReach, which allows you to send and receive short text messages or trigger an interactive SOS via the worldwide Iridium satellite system, and which works as a GPS. You can get one with a solar charger for less than $500.

For what it's worth, Steve and Charlotte Baker sailed their Catalina 27 Willful Simplicity to Cabo in the breezy 2009 Ha-Ha and had a great time. In fact, they're still living on their boat, having become residents/supporters of the little village of San Evaristo.

OOPS, I LEFT OUT A FEW DETAILS

In my first letter to Latitude about taking a Catalina 27 to Mexico, I should have mentioned that it's going to be a one-way trip. Our plan is to donate the boat to a community that has been or is susceptible to being affected by hurricanes. There is a town outside Ciudad Constitucion that was recommended to me. Do you know of any contacts that could point me in that direction?

As for boat prep, I do have Navionics on my iPhone and I can easily get it onto my iPad as well. That will save a substantial amount of money that I had planned to spend on a GPS system. I had no idea I could use Navionics on my iPhone while offline. I was absolutely planning to get a depthsounder, especially if we are coming into port at night.

We were going to equip the boat with a handful of marine batteries and a solar power system as well, because I would like to document the trip and power is necessary. A VHF radio and a satphone were also on the list. Any recommendation on solar power sources? Our power consumption would only really be the running lights at night, the radio system, and rechargng the iPad and GoPro batteries.

Ryan Greenspan
Catalina 27
cyberspace

Readers — If you write in for advice, it's important that you include as many details as possible — or we're left to 'navigate' in the dark with our responses.

Ryan — To be honest, we're not sure that donating a Catalina 27 to a community in Mexico would be that helpful, as it would be hard for a village to maintain and might not get as much use as you think. A panga would be much more helpful. So we think it would be better to sell the boat to some gringo once you get to Mexico — a Catalina 27 would make a fine Sea of Cortez budget cruiser — and use the money to buy what the community needs. Experts on this matter would be the aforementioned Steve and Charlotte Baker of the Catalina 27 Willful Simplicity, as for the last six years they've been doing what you intend to do but on an ongoing basis. You can reach them at sdbaker46@yahoo.com. But don't expect an immediate response as they don't have Internet when they're at San Evaristo.

A depthsounder? We've had two Olson 30s and a Cal 25 along Baja and in the Sea on a total of four occasions and didn't have a depthsounder — and never felt the need for one. If we needed to find out how deep it was to anchor, we'd tie a line to a winch handle and lower it over the side. And remember, installing one would mean you'd have to haul the boat and put in a thru hull.

If you have an iPad or iPhone with GPS, you don't need to be online to navigate with Navionics. As mentioned in our first response, we'd use the money you were going to use to buy a GPS and a satphone — the latter isn't cheap — to buy a DeLorme inReach. Once you're done with your trip, you can sell it for close to what you paid for it.

You're on your own when it comes to calculating how much power you're going to use/need for the trip down. If your boat has an inboard engine, you should be able to generate enough power with the alternator to run an invertor to charge everything — if you're frugal with energy. If you don't have an inboard and you're going to take your time sailing down Baja, you'll probably come out money ahead by forgetting about solar panels and buying a Honda 2000 portable generator. Once you're done with your trip, you'll be able to sell the portable generator for almost as much as you paid for it.

Have fun — and don't forget to write.

A COLUMBIA 5.5 FOR SUMMER SAILING FUN

Last year, I was fortunate enough to pick up a beautiful Columbia 5.5 Meter. Designed to the International Rule, the 5.5s were the little sisters of the 12 Meters of America's Cup fame. The 5.5s were also an Olympic class boat. Columbia Yachts hoped to offer a boat suitable for international competition, at half the cost of the custom "one-offs." However, the boat was apparently banned because of its fiberglass construction, severely impacting the marketability of the boat. In production from 1963 to 1965, there were fewer than 50 of these ever built.

I am, of course, biased, but I feel these are amongst the most beautiful boats in the Bay: long, narrow, low freeboard, and with extreme overhangs at the ends.
Currently, there are only a few 5.5s still actively sailing. Recently, we had three 5.5s on the line at the OYC Sunday Brunch series. That was probably the most out for a single race in the Estuary in quite a few years. A handful of 5.5s continue to race in Stockton.

I am sure there are several boats lying idle and ignored locally. These are true gems from the past, very affordable, and just looking for the right owners to rejuvenate the fleet.

Lester Gee
Panigale, Columbia 5.5 Meter, USA-35
Oakland, CA

Lester — While sailing a 5.5 on the waters of the Central Bay would be a little wet for our liking, one would be a huge 'bang for the buck' boat for Zen sailing — and fun racing — particularly in places with flat water, such as the Estuary and up the Delta.

Columbia actually made a version with a cabin that one San Diego sailor sailed down to the Panama Canal and up to Florida. That's not something that we would recommend.


THE BIRDMAN MISSED THE MARK

While I respect Jonathan 'Birdman' Livingston's thoughts on what safety gear should be required when sailing in offshore races, I think he misses a few key points in his April letter to Latitude.

First, after the Low Speed Chase tragedy at the Farallones in 2012, the Northern California Ocean Racing Council came up with a simple yet comprehensive list of equipment required for sailing in the Gulf of the Farallones races. These are the Minimum Equipment Requirements or MERs. The requirements are dramatically more simple than the Offshore Special Regulations for Category 2 races, and are the result of having smart people debate what should be required in our home waters. Consciously omitted from that set of safety equipment requirements was the mandate to wear a life jacket, since the committee felt that was better left to the Organizing Authority's discretion, and would more logically belong in the Notice of Race.

The MERs were not intended to tell sailors how to act on their boats, but rather describe the gear and nature of the boat you take to sea.

To expand on the reach of the work of this committee, I asked a group of experienced sailors to come up with an expanded version for transocean races such as the Pacific Cup, the Transpacific Yacht Race and the Newport-Bermuda Race. This subcommittee of US Sailing's Safety at Sea Committee created the Safety Equipment Requirements, or SERs, a concise list of the gear that you need to take to sea in three categories: Ocean, Coastal and Nearshore. Compared to the 200+ pages of the Offshore Special Regulations, the SERs occupy something like eight pages. They are written in plain English and don't rely on external documents like ISO standards. The SERs are rapidly becoming the standard for sailboat races.

The Birdman mentions that the rules require a jockstrap. Yes, the current requirement is that life jackets have leg or crotch straps, which American sailors in particular have been resisting for some time. However, having investigated several of the recent boating accidents around the world, I can say without hesitation that the sailors who end up in the water without leg straps on their life jackets would never make that mistake again. Please read the US Sailing reports on the Low Speed Chase tragedy, the capsizing of Rambler 100 in the Fastnet Race, and the fatal incident in which the Columbia 32 Uncontrollable Urge went ashore on San Clemente Island after losing her rudder. There are repeated firsthand reports on how inflatable life jackets were far less effective when not held in place by leg straps.

The goal, of course, is to require a reasonable amount of gear and training that results in fewer lives lost, while not making sailing a horribly over-regulated experience. It's a balancing act, and one that requires open discussions and dissenting opinions. Thanks to Jonathan for continuing the discussion.

Chuck Hawley
Chairman, Safety at Sea Committee, US Sailing
Surprise, Alerion Express 38 Yawl

Chuck — Thanks for the clarification. We're going to laminate a copy of your letter and slip it aboard the Birdman's Wylie 38 Punk Dolphin.

I HAD INDIGESTION AND CHEST PAIN ALL DAY

After enjoying Loreto Sailfest — where Jim and I met and had lunch with sailing celebrities Stan and Sally Lindsay Honey — we left Balandra on our way back to La Paz. We had a great sail with wind and waves behind us, but I had indigestion and felt chest pain all day long. We anchored at Los Gatos and I went to bed, but when Jim came down, I told him I thought that I was having a heart attack.

After Jim unsuccessfully tried to raise somebody on VHF, Ham and SSB, we weighed anchor and headed to La Paz. After 14 hours of motoring at hull speed, Jim was able to raise someone on VHF, who in turn woke up Tom Brown and Jeanne Walker of La Paz Cruiser's Supply, and their friends Rob and Cricket. They arranged for an ambulance to meet us at Balandra, which is just outside La Paz. They came out to the boat to take me ashore through the shallows in a kayak.

After being examined, I was given an angioplasty and had four stents put in by Dr. Sanchez. I'm now home aboard Flibbertigibbet at Marina Palmira and doing great. Keep on sailing!

Betty and Jim Adams
Flibbertigibbet, Catalina 42
Discovery Bay/La Paz, Baja California Sur

SIMPLICITY WORKS WELL FOR ME

I've had the tiller peg 'autopilot' system, as seen aboard Stevie Hollis' Bermuda-based Venus ketch Segue in the April 13 'Lectronic, on a couple different boats. I love the system.

Latitude wrote, "We can't imagine the pegs ever needing to be in the holes at either extreme end." Let me explain. If Segue were to ever heave to, the crew would almost certainly want to put the pegs in the hole at one extreme end or at least close to it.

For what it's worth, it's also difficult to get even a well-designed old gaffer to steer herself with the wind aft of the beam in any kind of a seaway. Not always impossible, but nearly always challenging. At times like that, it's nice to have a windvane, such as the Aries Segue has on her transom. With the wind abeam or forward of abeam, there's rarely a problem getting a boat like that to steer herself — unless the seas are very confused or the wind is gusty and shifty.

The K.I.S.S. rule is mandatory on Ichi Ban, my Yamaha 33. The simple things that I love about her are: 1) Her one cylinder Yanmar diesel, which can be hand-started and burns only a third of a gallon an hour. 2) The chain pawl for anchor handling. 3) The Lavac head. 4) The well-insulated ice box. 5) The foot pumps for pumping both fresh and salt water at the galley sink. And, 6) the Origo stove, which is not only simple, but extremely safe as well. All of these things have worked nearly flawlessly, are robust and easily understood, and require minimal maintenance or no maintenance other than cleaning.

A note on the chain pawl might be in order. It's removable and hinged on the roller in such a way that when I'm pulling the anchor chain in by hand, it just 'clicks' along on top of the links of chain. When I stop pulling and ease the chain back ever so slightly, it drops down and prevents the chain from going back out. This enables me to handle the 100 feet of 5/16-inch chain — attached to 250 feet of nylon — that I use for my primary anchor without a windlass. I carry a length of line with a chain hook that can be led back to the primary winches if it's blowing hard or lumpy. In the past 10 years — four of them cruising very actively on the West Coast of the US, in Mexico, and in Hawaii — I've used this line only twice to pull bights of chain down the deck until the anchor broke out. And I'm 61 and no Hercules. The pawl gives me the opportunity to take a break and to time my pulls with the lulls and the swells.

Simplicity is not for everyone, and I admire those with the know-how and patience to maintain today's increasingly complex boats. But simplicity works well for me.

John Tebbetts
Ichi Ban, Yamaha 33
Honolulu

John — Funny you mention something as simple and helpful as a chain pawl that drops into place automatically. We have one on our catamaran 'ti Profligate in the Caribbean, and dearly wish we had one aboard our catamaran Profligate in Mexico.

TRUE BUT MISLEADING

Regarding the Liz Clark story in the May 6 Daily Mail Online, the one with the long title Sailor Wanted! Bartender Spends 10 Years Sailing Around the World After a Generous Benefactor Gave Her a Yacht (And Now She's Looking For a Travel Partner), the Daily Mail probably didn't mention any of the difficult maintenance jobs that Liz has had to do to keep her boat going. Bunch of wankers!

Anne Slater
Walkabout, Allied Luders 33
San Carlos

Anne — No, the Daily Mail didn't mention any of the difficult parts of cruising, which is just one of the reasons that we titled our 'Lectronic piece True But Misleading. In fact, we suspect the Daily Mail just used the fluffy text as an excuse to run a bunch of photos of an attractive and fit woman, often in a bikini. We at Latitude would never stoop to anything so lowbrow.

EXAGGERATED CRAP ONLY — OR IS THERE MORE TO THE DAILY MAIL ONLINE?

I read the May 6 'Lectronic in which Latitude criticized the Daily Mail Online for a "true but misleading" portrait of Liz Clark of the Cal 40 Swell and the cruising life that she is living. I'm pretty sure that Latitude knows that the Daily Mail is a tabloid and never deals with truthful stories, but rather exaggerated crap.

On another subject that's come up recently, in England, Oz and Kiwiland, any boat with a sail, regardless of condition or size, is considered a 'yacht'.

Glen Read
Nootka, Island Packet 40
Edmonds, WA

Glen — The tabloid. . . "never deals in truthful stories." You should rethink that. For who but the tabloid press exposed presidential favorite John Edwards for the complete scumbag he was? For whatever reason — perhaps not wanting to get in the bad graces of a potential president — the mainstream press ignored and/or covered up the story for months after the tabloids had repeatedly presented convincing evidence. It was a rerun of the mainstream press going hook, line and sinker for presidential hopeful Gary Hart's 1987 denials of knowing bimbo Gennifer Flowers — until The National Enquirer ran the famous cover photo of Flowers frolicking on Hart's lap on a dock next to the yacht Monkey Business.

(Lest anyone think we're picking on Democrats, the tabloid press has done a pretty good job of busting sleazy Republicans, who have been equally deserving.)

The way we see it, the mainstream press isn't as admirable or objective as it could or should be. When we read stuff — and we read damn near everything — we always 'consider the source.' That holds true for The Wall Street Journal as much as The New York Times. We read the Times every day and have developed great respect their writers and editors, as they could make a convincing case that everything in the world — including the earth's core being molten — is a result of the white man's sexism and racism. As far as we're concerned, it's become a parody of itself.

The flip side of the coin is that the tabloids, while they admittedly publish a lot of crap, can produce much better journalism than a lot of snooty people might care to admit. Time after time, we've found that in order to get the 'real story' on something on a timely basis, we've had to resort to seemingly ridiculous sources from Daily Mail to TMZ. Disgusting, we know, but true.

The recent tragic train wreck back east that claimed at least eight lives is a perfect example. While The New York Times did a serviceable job of covering the story, if you were looking for the greatest number of facts, the most depth, and the most grisly photos that nonetheless depicted the horror best, you had to go to Daily Mail Online. They did a fabulous job with the story, and among other things came up with more interesting facts about engineer Brandon Bostian than did any other source. It was impressive.

WE'VE DONE MORE HA-HA'S THAN YOU CAN RECALL

Thanks for the shout-out about our Tamara Lee Ann's signing up for another Ha-Ha. We always have a great time with the Poobah and the fleet.

Just a slight clarification. In the May 4 'Lectronic, you reported that this will be our third Ha-Ha. Actually, it will be our sixth! We have done four — 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2015 — with our Celestial 48 Tamara Lee Ann, and two as crew — 2008 and 2010.)

Douglas and Tamara Thorne
Tamara Lee Ann, Celestial 48
Emeryville, CA

Douglas and Tamara — It's hard for us to keep up. But if anyone has done more than five Ha-Ha's, with their own boat or on other boats, we'd like to hear about it so that we can acknowledge your repeated participation.

HOW ABOUT A FREYA CHALLENGE?

I own the Freya 39 Freeflyte, which was built by Gannon Yachts in Petaluma in 1978. I've been doing some racing on her in the Puget Sound area, but I got an idea I'd like to run by you — the Freya Challenge. The idea would be to create interest in getting a fleet of Freya 39s to do the Pacific Cup, perhaps followed by a cruise to Sydney, and even the Sydney to Hobart Race, the event for which the Freya 39 was designed. I recognize that my idea is kind of out there, but it could be a fun diversion from the usual focus on the newer high-tech designs.

Jonathan Cruse
Freya 39
Seattle, WA

Jonathan — You may know this, but we're very familiar with the Freya 39s, having had one built from new in the late 1970s. Jim Gannon even raced to Mexico with us several times on the boat. And we know of at least two Freyas that did circumnavigations. They are brick poop-houses, but reasonably fast, too.

The problem with the idea of a Freya Challenge is getting enough owners of that design to want to participate. As only 30 or 40 Freyas were ever built, and they are now spread out all over the place and in various states of being ready for sea, your pool of possible entrants is tiny. And within that very small pool, you have to ask yourself how many owners are interested in racing to Hawaii and/or have the time and money to do so — let alone continue on to Sydney, and even more unlikely, do the Sydney to Hobart Race, too.

LIKE ALL MY MECHANICAL PROJECTS

I can't help the Wanderer with the cone clutch problems on his Yanmar saildrives or the famous cases of his props falling off Profligate. But his May issue article detailing the repair that he and his friends did on Profligate's cone clutch had me on the floor laughing so hard that I was crying. My wife could not understand what it was about it that I found to be so funny. All I can say is that the article was pure genius, as it described virtually every mechanical project that I — and most other sailors — have ever attempted. It demonstrated the old saw that we always need to triple/quadruple both the estimated time to completion and total cost of any project.

I’m remembering an Atomic 4 engine of mine that would only idle. After I'd torn the thing apart multiple times, redoing the carburetion, spark plugs, distributor and filters, nothing had changed, I finally capitulated and brought in an expensive mechanic. He promptly found the problem on the other end — a stuck flapper valve in the exhaust system!

Just keep those articles coming!

Al Fricke
Jubilee, Catalina 36
Half Moon Bay, CA

Al — To keep the record straight, Dino DiPasquale spent most of the time getting his hands dirty inside the engine room.

YOU MEAN MY NEW PROP MIGHT FALL OFF!?

I commiserate with the Wanderer on the cone clutch problems on Profligate's saildrives. Wrenchin' in the confined spaces of a boat engine room can drive anyone batty.

But the prop had fallen off? Say it ain't so! I recently replaced the three-blade prop on my boat with a Flexofold prop like the one that fell off Profligate. It seems to be working fine, but the Wanderer's May article has me worried. I have the standard shaft arrangement on a Yanmar 4JH-3. Do you think props falling off is related to saildrives? And am I correct that you've had props fall off Profligate before?

Anyway, now that you know how to service a cone clutch, you've added another valuable skill to your repertoire.

Dave Fiorito
Irie, Beneteau 393
Novato, CA

Dave — The Yanmar cone clutch problems have not been limited to Profligate, which is why we wrote the article.

We've had Flexofold folding three-blade props on
Profligate for about 15 years, and this is the first time we've lost one. We love the Flexofolds — which are similar to Gori and some other brands — and aren't hesitating to get a replacement for Profligate.

It's true that we had two props fall off
Profligate before, but they were the old-style three-bladed feathering Max-Props. What really puzzled and infuriated us is that they'd worked fine for about five years, at which point we sent them back to Max-Prop to make sure they were still in good shape. When we got them back, we had Yanmar dealer Tom List of Sausalito come all the way up to the Napa Valley Marina to put them on, in part because he was going to show a client how it was done. We and the client watched and double-checked as List slowly but methodically followed all the instructions to a 'T'. Inexplicably, one prop fell off a month later while we were sailing across San Francisco Bay. Even more inexplicably, when we pulled into Santa Barbara Harbor a month later, the other one had fallen off.

We have no explanation as to why the Max-Props fell off. In the case of the Flexofold, the only thing we can imagine is that the aft zinc had gone bad quickly and allowed the prop to back off. But we have
Profligate's bottom done on a regular basis, and we always have the diver check the condition of the cone zinc at the back of the prop. If we were paranoid, we'd think someone had dived down and stolen the prop.

We have no idea if more props come off boats with saildrives than boats with regular transmissions.

OUT-OF-ORDER INSTRUCTIONS DRIVE ME NUTS!

After reading your article on Yanmar saildrives, I went to the link for Leucat that was recommended. When I got there, I found what I would describe as a booklet covering many aspects of boats and boat maintenance. I thought it was pretty well done, and would make a good guide for new boat owners. The authors, Mary Margret and Dave Leu from Dana Point, put it all on Dropbox and encourages readers to download it. You can get the same information by digging through their daily blogs, but it's much easier to get it in one package on Dropbox. You can find it at: www.sailblogs.com/member/leucat. The links to the "Techno Tips" and "Cone Repair Manual"are along the right side under "Favorites". Another interstiing item I found was a commet to use Rotella oil in the saildrive. Supposed to have some additives that clean the cone cluthes in place.

I got a kick out of the out-of-sequence instructions in the Yanmar manual about tightening the nut after you put the cone clutch assembly back in the transmission. I know that cost you guys at least a full day of time and probably some mental misery. Stuff like that just drives me nuts, and makes your recommendation to read all the instructions several times before starting a good one.

I learned that lesson back in high school, where the first instruction in one test I was given was to read all the instructions before starting. The test had us doing different physical things — yell out a word, stand up and sit down, etc. But the last instruction was to ignore all other instructions. Naturally I didn't follow instruction number one, and got through part of the test — i.e. acting like a fool — before the teacher stopped me. At least I was not the only student who failed the test.

Let's talk about importing parts to Mexico duty-free. There is a good FAQ on Marina de La Paz's website that shows how to bring in parts duty-free. It has a link to a form that you can include with the parts, and it is supposed to let you avoid duty on most boat-specific parts. We have some parts that should arrive today here at Marina Chiapas, and it looks as though I was charged 25% duty. Enrique at the marina said that the Mexican government hates Japan, so the duty is higher on Yanmar parts than it would be on parts for a US engine. I didn't have time to do the paperwork for this shipment, but at a possible savings of 25%, I'll do it next time.

We had someone who was going to fly the parts down — almost always the best way to get stuff to Mexico — but the day before he was to leave, he discovered that his passport had expired last month. So we used UPS. That was not a good experiene (they claimed they tried to deliver but the driver never showed) and finally got the parts 5 days after the expediated delivery date that we paid extra for. Next time will try DHL, or find a friend with an unexpired passport.

Bill Lilly
Moontide, Lagoon 470
Newport Beach, CA

THE BEST MONTHS FOR THE BEST EVENTS IN THE CARIBBEAN

I've been on the fence for years about buying a cruising cat, but don't have the time to use one yet. In the interim, I began to wonder about the wisdom of a long-term charter to follow the fantastic superyacht regattas in the Caribbean as a loose itinerary. I'm thinking that maybe I'd use the boat a month or two, and maybe share the charter with a few like-minded couples. I suppose I could go back through past Latitudes and cobble together a schedule, but I thought with the Wanderer's intimate knowledge, he could, off the top of his head, suggest the best month or two for a charter to hit the best of the best regattas. And maybe suggest some companies or sources of a relatively economical month or two charter. This is still a pipe dream, but I wonder what you think.

Eric Lindahl
Min Vän, Corsair 31 tri
Seattle, WA

Eric — The best of the best two months in the Caribbean for having fun hanging around the big regattas? That's easy, as it corresponds with what are usually the best two weather months in the Caribbean, which are from about the third week in February to the last week in April. Here's the schedule of events for that time frame between the British Virgins and Antigua, which are about 200 miles apart. The dates are for 2016, but stay fairly close in the following years.

February 22-26 — The Caribbean 600, which starts and ends in Antigua after 600 miles of weaving around various islands. This hardcore event has quickly become one of the top two or three middle-distance races in the world, and is attracting many of the great boats and sailors. You'll see the boats only before the start and after the finish, but the energy is great.

March 3-6 — The St. Martin Heineken Regatta features nearly 200 racing boats, about half of them charter boats. The 'Heinie' has the best music and wildest partying of all the Caribbean regattas. The younger you are, the more you'd like it.

March 9-12 — The Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta at Virgin Gorda. This is pretty much a superyacht tune-up for the much larger St. Barth Bucket.

March 17-19 — The St. Barth Bucket is perhaps the greatest spectacle in sailing, as all 40 entries have to be at least 100 feet long, and most are in the 150-ft category.

March 23-29 — The Bequia Easter Regatta. This event is a couple of hundred miles farther down island than the other events on this list, is more casual, and has more local participation.

March 30-April 5 — The BVI Sailing Festival and Spring Regatta. These are actually two events sort of mashed together, and include everything from fun racing and partying to serious racing in the Spring Regatta.

April 11-16 — The Voiles de St. Barth has become enormously popular in just six years, this year attracting 76 boats, including a handful of the very best in the world. This is for serious racers, on boats from 24 to 100 feet, who also like serious partying in a more sophisticated manner than at the Heinie. The Wanderer's favorite.

April 13-19 — The Antigua Classic Regatta for classic and spirit of classic yachts. This is the one for lovers of classic boats, and you'll almost surely be able to get a ride. The pity is that the dates overlap with the Voiles.

April 23-29 — Antigua Sailing Week is the granddaddy of all big Caribbean regattas. In its heyday it attracted over 250 boats of all types, but currently attracts only about half that many. It's still a great event at a great island.

End of April — The West Indies Regatta for traditional trading boats that were built on the beaches of Caribbean islands. Funky fun for soulful sailors.

As you can see, the late-February to late-May sailing calendar in the Leeward Islands is packed to the gills. All these regattas have 'everybody welcome' parties, and if you attended them all you'd never want to go to another party in your life. The great thing is that less than two miles from all these regatta centers are fabulous anchorages where you'd never know there was a regatta going on just a short distance away.

All the charter companies would be more than happy to book a two-month charter for you and your friends. Send them an email and tell them what you have in mind.

Overall we think it's a great idea, but too much of a good thing is way too much. We'd limit ourselves to three events, and maybe only parts of them. We'd recommend the St. Barth Bucket, the BVI Sailing Festival, and depending on your interests, either the Voiles de St. Barth or the Antigua Classic Regatta.

SHOULD WE WORRY ABOUT 'THE CHINK' IN THE BVI?

I was just reading the Zen sailing article in a recent edition of Latitude in which the Wanderer mentioned the high number of Chikungunya virus cases in the Caribbean. We are chartering in the BVIs soon, and since mosquitoes really like my wife, we're wondering if the virus is a concern to sailors. Do you know of anyone on boats who came down with the virus? Are there any spots we should avoid or precautions we should take?

I love Latitude and want to thank the Wanderer for encouraging me to go to St. Barth for the 2014 Bucket. I did go, and by walking the dock managed to get a crew position on the 177-ft Perini Navi Parsifal II. I had a great time!

Ed Machado
San Diego

Ed — Thanks for the kind words. It's great you got a ride on Parsifal, as they usually don't take many people from the dock. It would be even cooler if they invited you back for another Bucket, as the owner has now taken delivery of Parsifal III, a version of Perini Navi's 60 Meter series. Unlike Seahawk, hull #1 of the 60 Meter series, the 197-ft Parsifal III will be a sloop and have a bowsprit.

As for 'The Chink', many of our friends on St. Barth have gotten it, but almost all of them live on land. We don't know about sailors other than ourselves, but in 10 weeks neither de Mallorca nor the Wanderer came down with it. And that was a good thing, because 'The Chink' is really nasty stuff. "I hurt so bad that I couldn't move anything but my eyeballs for a week," said the owner of one bar. Others who get it complain of periodic pain in their joints for months after.

The good news is that there has been very little rain in the Eastern Caribbean for the last three months, which has really cut down on the number of mosquitoes, and thus the number of people coming down with the virus. But even before the dry spell we were told the number of cases had dropped significantly. Nonetheless, 'The Chink' is still a concern throughout the Eastern Caribbean. But if you use a lot of DEET and sleep aboard, we think the chances are decent that you won't get it.


M5 IS STILL THE TALLEST SLOOP IN THE WORLD

Latitude recently reported that "if we're not mistaken" Parsifal III, the new Perini Navi 60 Meter Series sloop, has a 246-ft mast that is the tallest in the world. Latitude was mistaken, as that distinction still belongs to the 247-ft M5, ex-Mirabella V. Her mast towers to 292 feet above the water.

We had a personal experience with M5 when we came up from Mazatlan to La Paz this winter. When I saw M5's mast for the first time, I thought, "Gee, that's funny, I don't remember there being such a tall radio tower so close to Marina Costa Baja." But it wasn't a radio tower, it was M5.

So for anyone who thinks size matters, M5 is still the one to beat.

Rob Murray
Avant, Beneteau First 435
Vancouver, B.C.

Rob — Thank you for correcting us. We should have written that if Parsifal III's mast was to fall over next to M5, it would stretch from the bow to the stern of M5, which is the longest sloop in the world.

For those who think size matters, Superyacht Times reports that a German yard has launched a three-masted sailing vessel that is 482-ft long. Named the White Pearl, she has a bulb bow and almost looks like a cargo ship.

BLIND AND/OR SELFISH

I understand people, such as the man who wrote in a recent issue, who get angry with cruisers who don’t pay attention to their animals, be they dogs or cats. As I write this, I’m having coffee at a beautiful little restaurant in a Mexican town popular with cruisers, and I’ve just had to watch some irresponsible American jerk’s dog mark the coffee bar. How appetizing. He’s now making a visit to every table, annoying people who aren’t dog fans. The husband and wife who own the dog are oblivious. And now he’s barking up a storm. I don’t blame the dogs, but the owners, who are either blind or incredibly selfish.

Anonymous
South of the Border

Anonymous — Might the "Mexican town" have been Ensenada, which in something of a surprise to us, got a very positive review in a Travel section article of The New York Times?

LOST AND RECOVERED BOAT

That was a very interesting collection of stories in the April Latitude about boats that had been lost and were later recovered. But you need to check your archives, as I know that you reported on at least one more in the early 1990s.
This one involved a couple from the Northwest — maybe Canada — who set out on the initial leg of a planned long-term cruise aboard something like a Maple Leaf 40. They ran into some bad weather off the Oregon coast and, for one reason or the other, were taken off by the Coast Guard.

Over a year later, the boat, then dismasted, turned up near Hilo, Hawaii. The Coast Guard towed her to port.

We were living aboard at Kaneohe, Hawaii, at the time, anchored behind Coconut Island. Carl, one of the few remaining liveaboards in Kaneohe Bay, told us about the boat's being recovered. He flew to Hilo, inspected the boat, and eventually bought her from the insurance company — which had already paid off the former owners.

Now for the part that makes the story memorable. After Carl paid for the boat, the insurance company realized that it hadn't gotten the boat's title yet. Thus they couldn't legally process the transaction. When the insurance company asked the former owners for the title, the former owners said they wouldn't relinquish it until they were allowed to retrieve some personal gear, such as dive tanks and a compressor. How do you like them huevos?

I'm not sure what all they took, but I do remember that this diminished the value of the boat to the extent that Carl got a cash rebate of close to 20% of his bid price. He had pretty much tapped himself dry financially to acquire the boat, so the rebate was a godsend that allowed him to make onsite repairs sufficient to deliver the boat to Kaneohe Bay.

Having a visceral aversion to insurance companies — along with lawyers and Wall Street parasites — the former owners have become my 'superheroes'. Me and San Miguel celebrate their achievement whenever prolonged exposure to the mind-numbing grind necessitates an attitude adjustment.

David Goodgame
Bobcat, 38-ft Crowther Cat
Sonora, CA

David — It's easy to loathe some lawyers, genuine Wall Street sleazeballs, and some insurance companies, and perhaps there was some kind of karma payback for the insurance company. On the other hand, one of the reasons there are so many lawyers is that so few people are willing to stand by their word if they can come out a few bucks ahead by reneging.

ANY TIPS ON RENEWING TIPS?

I could swear that I read somewhere that Temporary Import Permits (TIPs) for Mexico can be renewed only once. Is this correct? I ask because my second TIP will come up for renewal in 2018.

Steve Hersey
SeaScape, Union 32
San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

Steve — If you read that TIPs can be renewed only once, whoever wrote it didn't know what they were talking about. Tere Grossman, president of the Mexican Marina Owners Association, confirmed with officials in Mexico City that there is no limit on the number of TIPs one can get for a boat.

TAKING THE MEASURE OF SURVEYORS

In response to Mark Wheeles’ recent letter in Latitude, I would like to add another perspective on the issue of vetting marine surveyors.

As most sailors probably know, marine surveyors in the United States are not licensed by any state or federal organization, but are rather 'credentialed' by one of several trade organizations — which would prefer to be called professional organizations. The most recognizable are SAMS and NAMS, partially because of their extensive advertising and marketing to the marine underwriting community.

Simply having membership in SAMS or NAMS does not guarantee that the surveyor has five years of experience. SAMS Surveyor Associates and NAMS Associates have to pass an exam, but they do not have the five-years' experience required of their fully credentialed members. However, associates are permitted to do surveys without supervision of a more senior member.
Other lesser-known organizations that credential surveyors include the Association of Certified Marine Surveyors and the US Surveyors Association, both of which require examinations and apprenticeship or experience. Another organization, the American Registry of Marine Surveyors, was formed in 2008, recognizing that membership in trade organizations was not necessarily a guarantee of quality.

The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and many other countries, have similar credentialing organizations. Mexico does not have its own trade organization, and there are very few credentialed marine surveyors based in Mexico. Most of these are credentialed in the United States.

The truth of the matter is that the individual’s experience and knowledge make more of a difference in the quality of the survey than does the title that the trade organization bestows upon them. Memberships in the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) and/or National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are also good indications that the surveyor pays attention to industry standards.
Getting references for surveyors is an excellent idea, especially from insurance brokers and underwriters. References from previous clients are also helpful. Lastly, for pre-purchase surveys, one should ask the yacht broker whom they would least like to have conduct the survey — as those surveyors tend to be the most detail-oriented.

Asking for a copy of previous surveys is a two-edged sword. Survey reports are generally considered to be privileged documents and cannot be released by the surveyor unless the client gives permission. Ask yourself if you want your surveyor giving the survey on your boat to anyone who asks for it, and see how you feel. I have had insurance underwriters request samples, and have been fortunate to have clients who have agreed to have their survey released to the underwriter — but only after heavily redacting identifying information. Ask surveyors for a copy of their survey checklist and contract limitations.

It is unfortunate that Dorothy’s chainplate and tank issues were not discovered during the pre-purchase survey. As you know, most surveyors spend only three to four hours inspecting the entire vessel, leaving little time to probe deeply or find hidden damage.

Detecting flaws in chainplates and tanks is always problematic. Chainplates are often completely obscured behind joinery and are not visible without destructive methods. Tank leaks are difficult to spot, especially if the tanks are not topped off just prior to the survey. If there were visible indications of suspected problems, then they should have been mentioned. Owners who detail their vessels in advance of a pre-purchase survey may remove telltale evidence — unintentionally or not.

The statement reportedly made by the surveyor that "you could sail this boat to Hawaii tomorrow" sounds more like a salesman's than a surveyor's. The surveyor’s job is simply to report the observations, condition, findings, deficiencies, and recommendations — nothing more. The surveyor should not be an advocate for or against any vessel.

Referrals to vendors that did substandard work is also unfortunate. In some ports in Mexico, the pool of professional marine service companies is limited, and often there are limited choices. Second opinions of available service companies are always prudent.

The failure by the surveyor to provide a copy of the final survey report is unprofessional at the least. If the surveyor has credentials, then a complaint to the trade organization would be in order.

Withholding payment for the survey until the report is completed and 'approved' by the owner is not realistic. Much of the cost involved in doing the survey is the labor involved during the inspection.

To expect the surveyor to do the inspection and then have owners refuse to pay for the survey because they are displeased with the outcome is unreasonable, and compromises the validity of the surveyor’s findings and recommendations. If owners don't trust that the surveyor is professional, or believe he/she is incapable of preparing a truthful survey report, they have probably chosen the wrong surveyor.

Dennis H. Ross, MMS
Ross Marine Services and Consulting, S. de R.L. de C.V.
Two Can Play, Endeavour 43
La Paz, BCS, Mexico

Dennis — Unless we're mistaken, nobody was talking about not paying a surveyor because they didn't like the results of the survey, but rather not paying the surveyor until the surveyor had completed the survey and provided a copy. The latter is the norm.

WINNING TROPHIES BY QUITTING?

Max Ebb’s February column explaining the virtues of being the first to "withdraw" from a race that is later abandoned in order to "take home the hardware for a division win" left me perplexed. Undoubtedly, this situation must have happened to the author, or at least he was briefed on this exact situation by someone, and then thought that it would elicit interesting conversation amongst the readership. The story has the hallmark of a brainiac trying to explain a loophole in the rules to the general sailing public for shock value. Better be correct.

As a student of the Racing Rules of Sailing, I began to try to draw up the scenario where this could actually be true. Maybe it was with an organizing authority or race committee that didn’t score races correctly, maybe it was in a long-past decade, maybe it was just dead wrong. Given the overall context within the story, to be true the scenario must be applicable to all races, not just yacht clubs that wrongly believe they have to award the XYZ Perpetual Trophy that day no matter what. Thus my first thought of incorrect scoring procedures went out the window, but I’ll outline them later anyway.

So, is this scenario of winning a race by being the first to retire from the race possible under the rules? The first of a few assumptions that must be made is that the author meant 'retire' rather than 'withdraw'. There is no mention of the word 'withdraw' in RRS, except in regard to withdrawing a protest. The second assumption is that to 'win', a boat must score fewer points than the other boats in her division, or finish with a lower corrected time on handicap. Let’s assume that since this article was published in 2015, we are using the current RRS. From here on the whole scenario starts to unravel, as we would have to make scoring assumptions that are clearly not correct.

The race committee in the story correctly abandoned the race when no one finished within the time limit (Rule 35, last sentence). RRS defines abandon as, "A race that a race committee or protest committee abandons is void but may be resailed." Void means "not valid, or completely empty." Both of these definitions of void indicate that there should be no scoring whatsoever, and certainly no awarding of trophies unless and until the race is resailed. Case closed. Or is it? Maybe the author is living under some silly yacht club’s misunderstanding of abandonment and/or proprietary scoring system.

The US Sailing Race Management Handbook states, "It cannot be argued that a race in which no boat finished within the time limit was a race in which every boat should be scored DNF." (page 275) Even if the race committee erroneously scored the abandoned race in this way, as some in the Bay Area do, the boat that retired during the race would receive the same points as the boats that are incorrectly scored as DNF (RRS A4.2: "A boat that did not start, did not finish, retired, or was disqualified shall be scored points for the finishing place one more than the number of boats entered in the series.")

So in this case, all of the boats would receive the same score. Furthermore, being the first to retire, as the story claims, would be no different than being second or third to retire. There is no different score for the different times at which a boat retires from a race.

The race committee could have rewritten the scoring rule for retiring in some way, but I have never seen a retired boat given a different score than a DNS or DNF boat under such a rewrite. That rewrite typically relates to DNC and/or DSQ, and on page 292 the Race Management Handbook says, "Such changes should be avoided."

The winning by quitting scenario defies common sense, which the Racing Rules of Sailing always strive to achieve as they evolve over the years. I think Max Ebb is dead wrong, or at best, is using a unique personal experience that was handled and scored incorrectly, to "educate" us on this non-existent loophole. I’d love to know what he really is talking about.

Forrest Gay
Tiburon, CA


Forrest — Max replies as follows:

"Good catch on 'retire' versus 'withdraw'. And you are, of course, right about everything else. But at some point pedantry has to end to allow a creative solution to take over. The scenario is a race like Three Bridge Fiasco. When no boat in a division can finish within the time limit, some credit should go to the first crew to figure out that it's hopeless and head home. Nothing in the Racing Rules of Sailing prevents the Notice of Race from stipulating an unorthodox method of awarding trophies in the event of an abandoned race."

IS THE CHARTER A VACATION OR MINI-CRUISE?

With regard to charter recommendations, if somone wants their charter to be a 'vacation', with time spent with other folks on vacation, Latitude's charter recommendations were spot on. But if someone wants their charter to be a mini-cruising experience, with a chance to get a sense for what cruising is all about, then we would rank Tahiti number one, Tonga number two, and perhaps Thailand as number three.

Pete and Sue Wolcott
Kiapa Nui, Looping 48 Cat
South Pacific

Pete and Sue — Inasmuch as somebody could get a "mini-cruising experience" from just a week or so chartering, we agree with you. But we think that's quite a stretch. Not to be argumentative, but we figure it takes at least three months on one's own boat to get an idea of what cruising is really like, and even then it's really only what it's like in whatever area you're in.

THERE'S ONLY ONE WAY TO GO

My favorite charter has been a one-way from St. Lucia to Grenada. You get the ziplining at the Grand Pitons, a 30-mile bluewater passage with dolphins and whales, climbing the volcano on St Vincent, lovely Bequia, and swimming with turtles at the Tobago Cays, as well as Union Island and Grenada, and many other islands in between. Did I mention that it was all easy sailing? Everything from a beam reach to a near-downwind run. No beating upwind on that charter.

Capt. John
cyberspace

Capt John — There is no denying the attractions and variety of that itinerary — as long as you are going in the direction that you did. It makes us wonder if the people who charter the boats in the opposite direction get a huge 'delivery discount'.

There is great cruising in the Grenadines — as long as you sail in the right direction and stay clear of the reefs.

FEWER CROWDS, MORE SAILING

The sailing grounds from Grenada to Bequia have loads of fabulous anchorages, longer bits of sailing, and less crowding than the British Virgin Islands. The British Virgins are fine for first-time sailors, but for those with any experience, I would vote for Grenada.

Mitch and Anne West
Varuna, Pearson 367
Portland, OR

Mitch and Anne — We presume that you meant to say 'the cruising grounds between Bequia and Grenada' rather than 'Grenada and Bequia', because, as noted above, you only want to go one way between these islands.

Yes, it does get crowded in the BVI, the charter capital of the universe. But when was the last time you were in Bequia or tried dropping the hook at Mayreaux's Salt Whistle Bay? They are packed during the season, too.

DON'T FORGET THE TUSCAN ISLANDS

Latitude's counsel on where to charter was excellent. I would only consider adding a venue we enjoyed last summer — the Tuscan Islands of Italy and Corsica. The many ports were delightful, and the food and people most welcoming. The bonus of this cruise is the side trips in port, and the ability to loop in Rome or Florence for a visit en route.

John McNeill
Yankee, 52-ft Stone schooner
San Francisco

Readers — For those not familiar with the Tuscan Archipelago, it consists of seven islands — Gorgona, Capraia, Elba, Pianosa, Montecristo, Giglio and Giannutri. Elba is the largest, with about 32,000 residents. Montecristo has only two residents.

We spent a couple of nights at Elba when we cruised the Med with
Big O in 1994. We wish we could have spent a couple of weeks.

WE SAIL THE BAY FOR JUST $3 A DAY!

With regard to the subject of boat partnerships, I started one 14 years ago on our Newport 30. We currently have a total of six partners. We've had great luck with our partnership, and many good times.

One of the keys to our success has been finding like-minded folks to join us. Our boat is a daysailer with some toys aboard. If we were to have a racer in the mix, it might make things difficult. All our partners are daysailers with some overnights here and there.

One of the things I like to tell folks we take sailing is that "We sail the Bay for $3 per day." We each pay $100 per month per partner. Heck, that less than a cappuccino at Peet's.

With the Wanderer's situation and a more expensive boat, he may want to consider forming a corporation to protect himself. This is an area I don't know about, as our partnership was more casual. Good luck.

Craig Russell
Addiction, Newport 30
Emeryville, CA

I'M NOW A PARTNER IN A SEAWIND 1000XL ON KONA

I've been in several boat partnerships here on the Big Island and only one didn't work out very well. It was completely due to my not knowing the owner of the boat very well. He had just the boat we wanted, so I threw in with him without being too careful. The partnership didn't end amicably, but we were able to keep the lawyers out of it.

The other two partnerships have worked out very well — probably because we all knew each other since childhood. There are currently four of us in a partnership on a Seawind 1000XL catamaran that lives in Kona at present.
I think it is critically important to know prospective partners very well. It would be good if you had previous dealings with them. It would also be good if you've sailed them offshore because, as Latitude knows, it's when sailing offshore that you really get to know who a person is like.

Jay Lambert
Sugar Magnolia, Seawind 1000EL
Honokohau, HI

A GOOD EXPERIENCE AT MARINA CHIAPAS

Having read the piece in the April 8 'Lectronic about officials in Chiapas giving an arriving foreign boatowner a hard time and costing him a lot of money — because they claimed boat owners have to cancel their TIPs each time they leave the country and get a new one each time they re-enter Mexico — I wanted to share our experience.

We own the Catana 47 Green Flash and had been doing term charters with her for six seasons in the Virgins and Leeward Islands. In mid-November last year, we stopped at Chiapas on the way home to Santa Barbara. We wanted to pass Chiapas, but had to wait for weather, so we ended up staying in Marina Chiapas for six days.

Our experience there was good, especially with Enrique and the Chiapas Marina staff. Even though we didn't arrive until midnight, they actually stayed around and helped us find the entrance.

The navy came early the next morning with a dog, inspected our boat, and filled out paperwork. We then checked in with Enrique at the marina, and he started the paperwork shuffle for us, as it was the boat's first time in Mexico. We had to check in with the port captain, then immigration to pay for our tourist visas and such. It took half a day because we had to go 30 miles or so to Tapachula to make the payments. It was a bit of a hassle, but no big deal.

Then we had to get our TIP at the Banjercito office, which was more than an hour's drive away. We got pulled over for drug inspections at kind of a strange roadblock, but it wasn't a big deal. When we got to the Banjercito, we had all the necessary papers. One big problem was that the officials at Banjercito didn't know much about boats, and they didn't speak English. Next time I would take someone who spoke Spanish fluently.

A second big problem was that our boat is owned by a company of which I am the sole owner. I had a partnership agreement, documentation, and a letter is Spanish stating that I was the captain and had authorization to operate the boat and check her into Mexico. We'd actually had the letter done in Costa Rica for their shuffle.

After about 90 minutes, we'd translated most of stuff the Mexican officials needed to understand, and they issued a TIP for our boat. The people at the Banjercito were very nice, but very rarely process smaller boats such as ours. But with patience and using my smart phone to help translate, we got it done.
Then it was back to the marina, where we started working on clearing out. The next morning the navy came back with a dog and did their inspection, we got the paperwork signed, and we were on our way. Overall, the marina and local people were super nice.

The town was rustic and the food was good. Enrique was great, but I think it has been tough for him because Puerto Chiapas is a commercial port and the Master of the Port doesn't know much about private boats, so he tries to treat them as if they were big commercial vessels.

Arthur McNary
Green Flash, Catana 47
Santa Barbara, CA

Readers — We don't have space to publish all the letters we received, but without exception Enrique, Memo and the staff at Marina Chipas got excellent reviews. Respondents raved about them. In addition, most boat owners — but not all — did not have paperwork issues.

OLD-TIME SAILORS BELIEVED IN RECYCLING

In the 'old days' your chunks of old line would have been put to good use. In fact, there was a day set aside, usually a Sunday, when crews of old sailing ships would be put to work picking ‘rope yarn’ — that being the individual strands from which rope is made — from old, otherwise useless lines. These were called 'Rope Yarn Sundays'. The bits and pieces of line were re-used in different ways, such as to make baggywrinkle. The threads themselves might be used for sailors to mend their clothes or might be woven into thicker strands to mend sails. Since there were no West Marines then, the sailors of old pretty much had to recycle and reuse everything they could.

In more modern times, 'Rope Yarn Sunday' came to mean an unscheduled day off of work aboard US Navy ships. Since it most often occurred on Wednesday, and apparently still does, it was often called Rope Yarn Wednesday. But Rope Yarn Sunday could occur on any day of the week, as it was up to the discretion of the captain. Indeed, it was up to the captain if they had them regularly or even at all. Weather and what the ship was doing naturally also played a role.

When I was in the Navy in the late 1960s, we would spend a month or more at sea. The captain regularly granted Rope Yarn Wednesdays, which on our ship meant that you worked until noon and then had the rest of the day off — except, of course, for standing watches. I recall that these days were a welcome break in the routine. If the weather was nice, a lot of the crew gathered on the fantail to smoke, work on a bit of a tan, and BS.

As for using old docklines, I remember several times over the years using the Olson 30 Little O’s old sheets to tie up Latitude’s various photoboats. And getting chided by harbormasters and slip neighbors. "Never use sheets for docklines!" they'd say, usually after they’d had to retie one or more corners of the boat after the old jib sheet/dockline had chafed through. LOL.

John Riise
Lake Isabella

 

 

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