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September 28 - Sea of Cortez, Mexico

Today's Photo of the Day is of the smiling Dan Fitzpatrick and Samantha Nester of the Muir Beach-based Nor'Sea 27 Marylee. You'd be smiling too if you discovered you could enjoy a spectacular cruising lifestyle in Mexico for $100 a month.

When you read Monday's 'Lectronic, in which Glenn Tieman reported he spent many years cruising Mexico to Thailand on his 26-ft cat for $1 to $3 a day, all expenses included, you probably thought he was bullshitting. Well, Dan and Samantha are here to tell you that Tieman is right, it can be done - and what's more might even be more fun than cruising with lots of money.

"As the smallest entry in the 2003 Baja Ha-Ha, Marylee was dwarfed by a magnificent fleet of long range cruisers - all heading south for the time of their lives. Albeit compact, our Marylee is an extraordinary example of what a pocket cruiser should be - nimble, balanced, and superbly seaworthy. She carried us across treacherous seas whenever they presented themselves, to places beyond our wildest imaginations.

Photos Courtesy Marylee

"In our new life atop electric blue waters surrounded by the red rock canyons of the Sea of Cortez, money became relatively unimportant compared to things like sunsets and spearing fish for our dinner. Away from the materialist things of man, we embraced a more hunter-gatherer lifestyle - and spent less than $100 a month while doing it. And we loved it! In fact, we spent less money in nine months of cruising the Sea than we did during three months of bicycling and camping in Europe."

Dan and Samantha will share their tips for frugal cruising in the November - not October - edition of Latitude 38. By the way, they cruised frugally by choice, not out of necessity.

Speaking of the Sea of Cortez . . .

September 28 - Sea of Cortez, Mexico

Photo Charlie Lindberg

Charlie Lindberg snapped this photo of his reflection in the Sea of Cortez as he and his wife Grania made the "treacherous crossing" from Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante to Puerto Escondido on a windless morning. It's all of about a mile from the beautiful anchorage to the mainland.

Speaking of Glassy Reflections . . .

September 28 - Drake's Bay

Photo Eric Artman

"Attached is a photo I took from the committee boat shortly after the start of Sunday's OYRA Drake's Bay-Cityfront race," writes Eric Artman of the Corinthian Yacht Club's Race Committee. "We had postponed four out of five classes, and even then were thankful that the start interval was increased this year from five to ten minutes to clear the line between these near-drifting starts.

"Saturday was a good race, with 21 of 22 starters finishing, all before dark. Sunday, however, had light air and around half the fleet had skipped the start or withdrawn by 3:00 pm when the committee boat handed the race off to the finishing committee on shore." Only six boats finished Sunday's race. Results are available on the YRA Web site.

Angry about Government-Managed Slips in Hawaii

September 28 - Honolulu, HI

"In the September issue, Latitude 38 mentioned that there are 200 slips in ruins in Keehi State Marina," write Rob and Lorraine Coleman, who sailed away from Berkeley many years ago and now live in Hawaii. "According to a marine surveyor who has worked here for 30 years, there are currently more than 800 state-owned and 'administered' slips that are 'unusable'. Unusable? Hell, a huge number of them have not even existed for years! Imagine how much revenue those slips - along with all the other slips that are currently rented at $3.50 a foot - could generate if they were maintained and rented at the market rate of $8-$10 a foot. It boggles the mind.

Some of the 800 unusable slips at Keehi Marina

"You wondered what the problem is. Like always, it's money and politics, which are inseparable. Who benefits by keeping the state harbor system in its deplorable condition, and who would 'suffer' under privatization? Liveaboards and slip renters - including wealthy ones with political clout - paying way under-market rents do not want to lose their windfall, of course. Private marina owners also profit by having their marinas full. The government employees who 'administer' these dirty, dilapidated, harbors benefit by having guaranteed income and government benefits for life.

"I spoke with a state senator yesterday who, in his words, has "been working on the problem for six years". He explained that the government employees' union is so powerful that they basically control the legislature in Hawaii, and will not allow privatization to occur in any form, because it will be competition."

F-Dock at Ala Wai
Photos Robby Coleman

We're going to have more on this in an upcoming issue, but we think the real problems are: 1) Government mismanagement. Are you aware that the Department of Boating has to pay $365,000 a year in rent for a vacant lot in Maui because they thought somebody was going to build a fish processing plant there? And they can't get out of the contract for another 20 years or so. 2) Unions. They really do control Hawaii, and in their case, they put their needs before those of the taxpayers. And 3) The vocal liveaboards in the Ala Wai, who pay almost nothing to live on some of the most valuable real estate in the world. Our predication is that the Ala Wai will continue to deteriorate until nothing is left - or the management is turned over to a private company.

By the way, it's come to our attention that many members of the Hawaiian legislature are hyper sensitive about the government being incompetent at marina management. Roy Disney's kind letter encouraging them to fix the Ala Wai apparently offended them.

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