Photo of the Day

December 21 - Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

The Photo the Day is the second place winner in the snowman contest at Paradise Marina near Puerto Vallarta. It was the work of Little Miss and crew.

Photo Gina Markie

Mexico Tourism Email Campaign

December 21 - Mexico City

Mexico - one of the finest cruising grounds in the world - has created a vexious problem for cruisers. We hope that you'll join us in trying to help them solve it.

Our friends to the south are investing nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in the hope of attracting 10 times the number of Americans who currently visit by boat. Alas, they are making the investment less than two years after instituting clearance procedures that are more expensive and time-consuming than almost anywhere else in the world. While they are doing this out of ignorance rather than spite, the net effect is nonetheless the same: they are discouraging the very tourists they are spending a fortune to attract.

It's impossible to describe the current clearance regulations precisely, as they are interpreted so differently by different port captains, but for a quick synopsis as well as a couple of first-hand accounts, see December 19's 'Lectronic Latitude. For the full version of this story, see the January issue of Latitude 38, to be distributed beginning Friday.

The current regulations are bad for cruisers because they waste too much time and because they are too expensive. The regulations are bad for Mexico because they are giving this great cruising country a black eye with the kind of visitors they are trying to attract. Fortunately, there's a simple and excellent solution - an annual cruising permit. These are common in many parts of the world, and are what Terry Grossman, head of the Marina Owners Association, has been pushing for a long time. Under such a plan, cruisers would buy an annual or seasonal cruising permit for a set fee - say $150 to $300 - and receive a card that would allow them to travel Mexico without having to check in. Or if they had to check in, the port captain would merely stamp the permit and take a copy of a crew list. But that would be it. Cruisers would stop wasting hours of aggravation, Mexico would stop pissing off current and future cruisers.

Terry Grossman tells us that she has pushed SCT and Tourism as hard as she can without it becoming counterproductive. As such, it's time for we cruisers - past, present and future - as well as marine businesses in Mexico and the United States, to respectfully but forcefully help the Mexican government understand what a mistake the current regulations are. As such, we're asking you to email a copy of the following petition to Lic. Berta Leticia Navarro Ochoa, Secretario de Turismo. We're also asking you to send a copy to Lic. Rosario Graham, Directora General de Servicios a Prestadores de Servicios Turisticos.

There are a couple of reasons why now is a good time to push the issue. First, the government is investing millions in the 'Nautical Stairway' to attract more American yachties. Second, President Fox's right hand man is an attorney who has a large motoryacht, so he is at least somewhat familiar with the situation.

Here's the email we suggest that you send (you can copy and paste it into an email):

Dear (fill in one of the names previously mentioned),

As a mariner who loves the people, culture, land, and seas of Mexico, I want to respectfully object to the clearance regulations that were put in place by the SCT in January of 2000. I believe the regulations are bad for tourists by boat as well as bad for Mexico. The changes made clearing in much more expensive and time-consuming. In some cases, it could cost close to $120 U.S. in fees and probably more than a day waiting in lines to cover just 20 miles! In the short term, the effect is to discourage tourists by boat from visiting places with port captains, thereby denying business to nearby marinas, restaurants and stores. In the long run, the effect is to discourage Americans from bringing their boats to Mexico - at a time when Mexico is investing $220 million to lure Americans down a 'nautical stairway'.

We believe that it is in the best interest of Mexico to offer boat tourists a reasonably-priced annual cruising permit - as is done in many other countries where boat tourism is popular. Upon entering Mexico, the owner of a vessel would pay a one-time fee - say $150 to $300 - to purchase a permit that would allow his/her boat to travel about Mexico without having to check in with each port captain - or perhaps only check in by dropping off a crew list and having the permit stamped. Such a system would be much more attractive to boat tourists, yet would provide the Mexican government with an efficient means of collecting a cruising fee and keeping track of all boats and tourists. This is a very important issue for boat tourists - and Mexico - so I hope that you will give it serious consideration.


(your name)

Aid Needed for Battered Canadian Cruising Couple

December 21 - Townsville, Australia

"We are good friends of Les MacNeill and Marcia Stromsmoe of the Canadian yacht Rio Nimpkish," write Dugan and Janet Essick. "As you reported in the December 19th 'Lectronic, they were severely beaten during a robbery in Papua New Guinea. They have since been medivaced to Townsville, Australia, where Les is in intensive care and serious condition. Marcia also suffered a fractured skull and will be hospitalized about a week. Aside from the many medical problems they're facing, there is also the financial burden. A trust fund has been established to help offset the cost. We are hoping that those who have met this wonderful couple - and even those who haven't - will try to help. As you might imagine, the costs are astronomical - the medivac was $21,000 and the intensive care unit is $1,500/day. Canadian insurance pays $45 a day. Please let your readers know they can donate money to the TD Canada Trust for J. Leslie MacNeill and Marcia Stromsmoe Trust Fund, 2000 Cadboro Bay, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8R5G5. It's a new section account #2595200134. This is a terrible nightmare for Les and Marcia, and for all those who know and love them. It's the kind of thing that could happen to anyone out cruising. If anyone has any questions, we can be contacted at (805) 646-6737 or (805) 340-5316 (cell)."

You Be the Sentencing Judge

December 21 - Monterey Bay

Coast Guard Group San Francisco reports that 22% of all the distress calls they've gotten in the last year are hoaxes. Kurtis Thorsted, a 44-year-old man from Salinas, is alleged to have made more than one of them. According to the Coast Guard, he called one afternoon and said he and his family were aboard a boat taking on water off the coast of Half Moon Bay. The Coast Guard dispatched a chopper and a lifeboat, but couldn't find them. Thorsted repeated the calls for help, in the end saying he was off Pebble Beach. While the hoax was going on, a 33-ft fishing boat was sinking off Santa Cruz. Because of the hoax, the chopper had to refuel in Monterey before rescuing the fishermen.

The maximum penalty for fake Mayday calls is six years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and paying the Coast Guard back for the expenses they incurred. If Thorsted is convicted, what do you think would be an appropriate punishment? email Richard.

Photo Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

Don't Miss TV

December 21 - Your Living Room

On Sunday, December 23, 0900 Pacific Time, ESPN2 will be televising a one hour program that is half coverage of the America's Cup Jubilee - which was the greatest show in yachting history - and another half hour of America's Cup history. Don't miss it, as the Jubilee in particular, was spectacular.

In more sailing and television news, the Outdoor Life Network will air nearly 500 hours of live coverage of the Louis Vuitton Cup - which leads up to the America's Cup - starting in October of 2002. That's more coverage than ever, but ESPN2 isn't exactly CBS or NBC, so only 60 million will have access.

Sydney to Hobart Race Entries Down

December 21 - Sydney, Australia

Since the '98 Sydney to Hobart tragedy, safety measures have been dramatically increased for this classic race that takes the fleet into a bit of the often stormy Southern Ocean. As a result, this year's event, which starts the day after Christmas, will have only 76 entries - and these include the boats in the Volvo Ocean Race. Six years ago, there were 391 entries for the 50th running of the event. In addition to greater and more expensive safety measures, insurance premiums for the race have doubled. For the first time in years, the event will not have a name sponsor.


December 21 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? Check out YOTREPS - 'yacht reports' - at

Weather Updates

December 21 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out

California Coast Weather

Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.:

Pacific Winds and Pressure

The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.

Pacific Sea State

Check out the Pacific Ocean sea states at:
For another view, see

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