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16 Years of Cruiser Philanthropy

Young scholars enjoy a pleasure cruise around Zihua Bay aboard the big daysail cat Picante. For some it was probably their first boat trip ever.

© Margaret Reid / Sailfest

If you’re ever lucky enough to sample the laid-back cruising life south of the border, it won’t be long before you realize how privileged your leisurely lifestyle is compared to that of typical Mexican families ashore. That realization is a big reason that so many Mexico cruisers get involved with community projects and fundraisers — the biggest of which is the annual Zihuatanejo Sailfest, which raised a whopping $1,700,000 pesos last week ($83,000 USD), which will directly support educational initiatives for the region’s most disadvantaged youngsters. 

Latitude 38 played a role in the humble beginnings of Sailfest, but it quickly evolved into a well-organized weeklong event with strong participation from sailors, land-based expats and community members. These days, the roster of activities includes a boat parade, yacht race, concerts, raffles and auctions and an artisan street fair — each with a fundraising component. 

The annual Chili Cookoff is a longtime Z-Fest tradition. 

© Margaret Reid / Sailfest

"The cruisers really put the ‘Sail’ into Sailfest this year," says longtime Z-Fest organizer Lorenzo Marbut, "hosting more than 600 donating guests on sailing trips. Local musicians donated their talents to perform sunset concerts at sea." This year, Sailfest sailing events alone generated roughly $15,000 USD.

If you’re unfamiliar with the amazing work done by the Z-Fest-funded Por Los Ninos nonprofit, we urge you to check it out here. This year that organization completed its most ambitious project yet: construction of the new Colegio de Bachilleres high school (built in partnership with the city government and Zihua’s business community). The new facility is the first new high school built in Zihuatanejo in 20 years. 

Catamarans work their way out of the bay toward open water during the annual yacht race. Land-based tourists and expats give donations to the cause for the privilege of riding along. 

© 2017 Margaret Reid / Sailfest

For more on this year’s Z-Fest see the website and be sure to check out our full report in the March issue of Latitude 38 magazine (available March 1 on the docks and online, free of charge.)


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Recovery efforts for an Etchells oopsy. © Jillian Humphreys This Jimmy Warfield Etchells, owned by two board members of Stockton Sailing Club, looks as if it was knocked over in one of the storms that have been pummeling California, but actually what happened is that someone drove off with the hoist still attached to the boat’s lifting harness.