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Photos of the Day

March 30 - Banderas Bay, Mexico

©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Today's Photos of the Day are in response to Corky Stewart of the Islander 36 Brigid, who wrote, "On monohull sailing vessels, the tradition has been to have the sculpture of a maiden or mermaid on the bow of the ship. But with the photo of Alicia in the March 28 'Lectronic, dangling from the starboard aft scoop of Profligate, is the Wanderer establishing a new standard for cats to have the maiden on the transom?!? If so, is the proper placement to starboard, port, or both? Of course, I suppose a matching pair of twin sisters would balance the boat for the best sailing."

As you can see from the photo of Lisa Zittel, trying to coax up a little more breeze while atop the seagull striker, we think it's good to have maidens - live ones, not sculptures - on the bow as well as the transom. While we only had one maiden on the bow and one on the stern, sometimes conscientious sailors have to be on the transom for other reasons. For example, upon discovering that she had some sand on her feet, Lisa dragged her toes off Profligate's port transom.

Photos Latitude/Richard
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

By the way, Lisa, who is - and this will come as a big surprise to you guys - married, to Wayne Zittel of J/World sailing school in San Francisco and Puerto Vallarta, no less, says she can't wait for this fall's Baja Ha-Ha. "We're going to have an all-women crew besides two guys," she laughs. "It's going to be great." By the way, Lisa wanted to know if her photo on the bow was good enough to be on the cover. What do you readers think?

And lest anyone get the impression that Alicia is just a pretty face, she's got some great sailing creds, too. She used to sail on the 100-ft canting keel racer Maximus, and is buds with Bruno Peyron, who holds the around the world sailing record with this maxi cat Orange.

- latitude / rs


April Issue Hits the Docks - Hard

March 30 - San Francisco Bay Area

The new issue of Latitude 38 is particularly hard-hitting, as it is so big! Bound in at no extra charge to you is the newly expanded and improved 56-page glossy Strictly Sail Pacific boat show planner. The 'big' crew list is also featured in the April issue.

Photo Latitude/Annie
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Pick one up at the usual places this weekend - just be sure to lift with your legs!

- latitude / cw

Advertisement: BAMA's Doublehanded Farallones

March 30 - San Francisco

BAMA's 28th DHF is next Saturday, April 7. Get your boat ready this weekend; it's an easy race course with only one mark to round (see photo below).

Sailing instructions are online and can be faxed for entry until Friday, April 6, at 8pm. After that, please deliver the signed entry to the race deck at Golden Gate YC before 7:45 am on race day. Payment can be made online. Have a great race!

Father/Son Puddle Jump Team Are First to Make Landfall

April 2 - French Polynesia

As you read this, the father/son team of David Kelly, his 20-year-old son, Patrick, and self-described 'boat wench' Carly Dennis, are about to become the first team of so-called Pacific Puddle Jumpers to make landfall in the Marquesas this year. They left Puerto Vallarta 23 days ago aboard their Cal 39 No Regrets.

Back in PV, David's multi-colored umbrella may not have looked too seaworthy, but it will come in handy in the sunny anchorages of French Polynesia.
Photo Latitude/Andy
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Although they were among the most eager to get underway this year, they certainly were not the most experienced. In fact, two years ago none of them could call themselves sailors. Both father and son were longtime powerboaters who had polished their seamanship skills in the Santa Cruz Sea Scouts. When the cruising bug bit, they bought this boat with a recent inheritance from Grandpa - David's dad. In his memory, they named the boat after his dying words: "No regrets."

Look for profiles in the April edition of Latitude 38 - hot off the press today - on all the Puddle Jumpers who left from Puerto Vallarta this year, with a second installment in May covering those jumping off from Zihua, La Paz, San Diego and Ecuador.

- latitude / at

How Much to Get a Temporary Import Permit!?

March 30 - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

When we got the 20-Year Temporary Import Permit for Profligate about 11 years ago, it was free. A few years ago, when the Import Permits were reduced to 10 years, we heard of people paying $50 for the permit. But when Tim Callahan of the St. John, U.S. Virgins-based Nicolson 40 ketch Midnight Blue told us that a well-known agent in Puerto Vallarta wants $400 (!!!) to get one, we almost fell over from shock. Either we're way out of touch, or his price is ridiculously out of line. We know that a lot of folks in last year's Baja Ha-Ha got the permits either online or in Cabo or La Paz, and we're sure that nobody paid anything close to $400. So if you got a Temporary Import Permit recently, could you please tell us where you did it and how much you paid? (Email Richard. Gracias.)

Callahan, who is a surfaholic and free diver, left St. John two years ago in December, and started working his way south, to the Canal, and up the Pacific Coast of Central America. He found great and uncrowded surf in the Eastern Caribbean at . . . dang, he's sworn us to secrecy. He spent another eight months at Bocas del Toro, Panama, which he reports has "work class" surf, although it's more crowded than Banderas Bay and the water isn't clear like you expect in the Caribbean. As for the surf spots in Central America, Callahan says they are "packed." Heck, the water is warm, the spots are easy to get to, and the cost of living is zilch, so is it any wonder?

Callahan loves the free diving at Roca Cobatina, which is about 17 miles offshore of Punta Mita. He tells us he recently dove there and was surrounded by about 100 tuna of more than 50 pounds. "It was so amazing that I just couldn't bring myself to shoot one. Maybe next time, but not that time." Roca Cobatina is where a local free diver got a 318-lb tuna a few months ago. Imagine a tuna about the size of Shaq.

- latitude / rs

Icom 802 Blues Turning Us Red

March 30 - Aboard Profligate

If you read 'Lectronic regularly, you know that we've been having trouble with our Icom 802 marine SSB radio. The problems were a sudden drop in output power and clipping of our transmissions during the last Baja Ha-Ha. At the time, we
had two radio professionals - Dustin Fox and Tom LaFleur - troubleshoot our entire system, assisted over the telephone by Shea Weston of San Diego, a marine SSB installation expert. Their diagnosis was that there had to be something wrong with our Icom radio or tuner. So we sent the radio, tuner and head back to Icom.

When we got them back last week and had them reinstalled, the radio still didn't work. So the entire system was checked out once again - a new antenna, the coax, the ground and, of course, with an SWR meter. The conclusion of Fox and LaFleur, who again did the troubleshooting, and who were consulting again with Weston, with SailMail's Jim Corenman listening on the party line, is that the tuner was not tuning.

So Radio Rob lent us his Icom tuner, the same model as ours. As soon as it was hooked up, the radio worked fine. In fact, LaFleur started talking to a guy in Canada, who reported that our signal was loud and clear. But you're not going to believe what the guy at the Icom service center told us when we reported the results of our swapping out the tuners. He said that the problem wasn't with the Icom tuner, but with our installation! He repeated the statement because we didn't believe our ears when we first heard it.

When asked to explain why our radio would work fine with somebody else's AT140 tuner but not ours, which had just come back from being checked out at the factory, he said that "tuners work within certain tolerances, and some AT140s may work with your installation and others may not." You can imagine how good this made us feel as a consumer.

We don't claim to be radio experts, but we're very skeptical of this explanation. And even if it were true, the tuners should then at least come with a caution that some AT140s may work on one's boat and others may not. We want to emphasize that our purpose here is not to rip Icom. They have a history of making great products. SailMail, for example, is run entirely on Icom 700 series SSBs, and the 700 series has a fine history of effectiveness and reliability. The 802, which is the biggest seller in its market segment, seems to have a few problems. Originally, Icom told everyone that the problems were caused by bad installations. More recently they seem to have recognized that there was a real problem with the units and now offer a free modification they hope will solve the problem. We'll have a report on it later after we get more feedback.

But as for Icom's customer service department telling us that it's normal for one of their AT140 tuners to work on our installation but not others, we have to admit that our faith in the product and company is starting to waver just a bit. In fact, if we borrow someone else's AT140 tuner and our radio works fine again, we might even get a little grouchy.

- latitude / rs

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©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.