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Photo of the Day

February 15 - San Diego

Today's Photo of the Day is of the America, a replica of the boat that won the first America's Cup in 1851, which is soon to be home-based in San Diego and available for private and corporate charters, weddings, board meetings, regattas, and all the rest out of San Diego and Long Beach.

Built at a cost of more than $5 million in 1995, she was acquired last November by Douglas 'Papa Doug' Manchester, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Manchester Financial Group, which seems to own half of San Diego. America formerly ran day charters out of Key West's Historic Seaport. We welcome America to the West Coast!

For charter information, contact Warren.

U.S. Government to Require Transponders on All Boats over 34 Feet?

February 15 - Mexico City, Mexico

This is what the head of the powerful SCT Ministry (Communications and Transportation) told members of the Mexican Marina Owner's Association during a meeting in Mexico City last week. On March 23 of last year, President Bush, President Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Martin met in Waco, Texas, and announced the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP). The primary idea was for the three countries to work together to prevent terrorism and drug smuggling, and - cough, cough - ensure the safety of small vessels at sea.

According to the Mexican officials, as part of the SPP, 18 months from now they will require all boats over 34-ft in Mexico to have an Automatic Identification System (AIS) - which will allow them to identify and track all boats over 34-ft 24/7. Boatowners are to be charged $80/month for the 'service'.

Why does Mexico want to do this? The SCT says to comply with the wishes of the United States. Not only will all boats over 34-ft in the United States and Mexico have to have AIS, so will all boats over 34-ft in Canada. Again, this according to the SCT, the second most powerful ministry in Mexico.

Skeptical, we at Latitude 38 have contacted the Government Affairs Department of BoatU.S. and other sources, but can't find anybody who has heard anything about legislation that proposes AIS to be required on recreational vessels. If word of anything like that ever got out, you can be certain there would be outrage on the part of privacy advocates, civil libertarians, and just about everybody else.

The head of the SCT was asked if he was sure the program wasn't only for commercial vessels, as commercial vessels over 65-ft in the U.S. are already required to be equipped with AIS. He said no, the U.S. legislation will apply to all recreational vessels over 34-ft.

We're still skeptical that such legislation will be proposed - let alone passed in 18 months. The good news is that Mexican officials have agreed that they won't require AIS on boats in Mexico until the United States does, and if they are required, they won't charge more than is charged in the United States.

The above report is based on conversations with three Marina Owner Association members who were present at the meeting in Mexico City: Neil Shroyer of Marina de La Paz, Jim Elfers of Puertos Los Cabos, and Heidi Grossman of Marina San Carlos.

All three of the above individuals also assured us that while there was a problem with people getting Temporary Import Permits in Mexico at the start of the season, it was only because the Mexican government was making small changes to the system. Contrary to a report from Puerto Vallarta, Temporary Import Permits have not been eliminated, nor will they be eliminated.

Puertos Los Cabos to Open this Fall

February 15 - San Jose del Cabo, BCS

The above-mentioned Jim Elfers, Marina Manager at Puertos Los Cabos, located near San Jose del Cabo, tells us that the 420-berth home, condo, and marina project is slated to welcome boats to the first 100 slips in September or October of this year. "About 85% of the first 100 slips are spoken for," he says, "as tenants get 20% off if they pre-pay for the first three years. The remaining 320 berths will be completed within the next 19 months.

While there is water in the marina area right now, it's from the water table, not the ocean. The opening to the ocean is not yet completed.

More Photos of Boobies to Come

February 15 - Mexico

Photo Eugenie Russell

If you've cruised Mexico and fished, surely you have seen a boobie - one of the world's dumbest birds - think it was a fish and get caught in a hook. So you reel the thing in, get out the pliers, and try to get the hook out before the bird pecks you to death. That's what everyone does unless they're French and they're hungry. Tune in Friday for a photo feature on what they do.

Morse Code Requirement Still in Place

February 15 - Washington, DC

The anticipated elimination of having to pass a Morse Code test to get all classes of Amateur Radio licenses has still not happened. The FCC, which has received 3,800 comments on the subject, still hasn't acted. The general consensus is that it might happen later this year.

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