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Photo of the Day

May 11 - Makena Beach, Maui

Photo Courtesy Interlude

Today's Photo of the Day is of Don and Peggy Cox of the Morgan 382 Interlude practicing on the beach at Makena Beach, Maui. If you're wondering what they are practicing, you obviously haven't been on a Baja Ha-Ha. For all Ha-Ha vets would recognize that they are perfecting their technique for the From Here to Eternity kiss-while-rolling-around-in-the-surf competition during the Beach Party at Cabo San Lucas. From all indications, this year's competition is going to be the stiffest ever.

Speaking of the Ha-Ha, Ms. Lauren Spindler, Ha-Ha Honcho, reports that 32 requests for entry packs have been received since this year's event was announced in the May issue of Latitude 38. So while it's unlikely there will be 145 entries again this year, very early indications are that a bunch of folks will want to go this year, too.

The entry packs will be sent out on approximately June 1. For details on the Ha-Ha and how to get an entry pack, see Monday's 'Lectronic.

Didn't Have to Visit the Port Captain, Immigration, or Aduana!

May 11 - Mazatlan, Mexico

"We're only one boat, and have only cleared into one new port in Mexico, but based on our experience in Mazatlan, there is evidence that the clearing procedures within Mexico have indeed been all but eliminated," writes Terry Bingham and Tammy Woodmansee of the Eagle Harbor, Washington-based Secret O' Life.

"I (Terry) arrived at Mazatlan's old harbor on the morning of April 29, anchored off Club Nautico, and took my dinghy ashore to inquire about the current procedures. The Club Nautico staff told me that as of April 20, they had been taking care of 'notifying' the port captain of the arrival and departures of boats - and that I wouldn't have to do anything at all! The staff also told me that there was no need to check in with Immigration either! Of course, both Tammy Woodmansee - my crew, who arrived by air from Seattle - and I had valid tourist cards.

"Just to be on the safe side, Tammy and I decided to visit the Migracion office ourselves. The Migracion staff confirmed that as of May 1, cruisers no longer needed to report to their office when arriving or departing. They did, however, make it absolutely clear that all foreigners always had to be in possession of either a tourist card or a FM3 permit, both of which are easy to get. I showed them my despacho (clearance papers) from Barra de Navidad, with a section that is supposed to be acknowledged by Migracion in the next port. They firmly stated that this was no longer required - end of story!

"And things got even better still. When I was in Mexico in December of 2000 at the end of my Mexico-Hawaii-San Francisco-Mexico trip, I got an 10-Year Temporary Import Permit for Secret O' Life. But now I was unsure if the permit was still valid because I'd taken my boat out of Mexico from 2002 to 2004. And I had heard through the 'cruiser grapevine' that such permits were voided if you took your boat out of Mexico. So we also paid a visit to Aduana (Customs).

"After a short review of my Import Permit, the fellow in charge of the permits declared that it was valid until 2010 - the original expiration date. Even after repeated questioning by me, and my pointing out that my boat had been back and forth between Mexico and the United States during the past five years, he flatly stated that the permit was indeed still valid. Two of his subordinates concurred.

"I have no knowledge of the situation at Marina Mazatlan or El Cid at the north end of town, or anywhere else in Mexico, but the above is what we experienced in Mazatlan. And it was great. We're heading for La Paz and will soon be able to report what's happening there."

Readers - This is such good news that we can hardly believe it's true. We've been sailing in Mexico for more than 25 years, and unless you've lived through a quarter century of the old clearing procedures, which were a stunning waste of time, money, and paper, you have no idea how great this is. It's as if cruisers are finally free to cruise freely. And now, instead of paying gobs of money to ship's agents, we can spend that money on food, drinks, handicrafts and otherwise supporting businesses. Viva Mexico!

What effect will this have on our cruising in Mexico? A lot for cruisers who like to move around. For example, in the last five years, we've pretty much avoided places like La Paz, Mazatlan, and San Blas because of the time, expense, and anger associated with having to jump through the clearing hoops. Now, with clearing apparently free and simple, we're putting all three of those places on this winter's itinerary. We're indeed excited because this is the best thing to happen to cruising in Mexico since . . . well, since cruising started in Mexico!

Creators of World's Biggest - by Far - Sloop at the Corinthian YC Tonight

May 11 - Tiburon

Joe Vittoria, who commissioned the 245-ft sloop Mirabella V, and Ron Holland, the former San Francisco Bay sailor who designed her, will be speaking tonight at the Corinthian YC in Tiburon. There are only a few tickets left for this presentation, so if you want to ask why anyone would want a boat with a 300-ft tall mast, call the Corinthian right away at (415) 435-4771 or make reservations online at www.cyc.org/speakers.

Photo Joseph Vittoria Jr.

Vittoria and Holland will begin their program at 7 p.m., and it will run until about 9 p.m. Admission is $10. However, the club will open at 6 p.m. for no-host cocktails and a $12.50 buffet.

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