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December 7, 2007

Helping the U.S. Real Estate Market from Mexico

With colorful sunrises such as this one almost every morning, and 7 a.m. temperatures of 80 degrees, it’s hard for cruisers like Jim Taylor and Jim Bewley not to awake with a smile.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The real estate market in the United States may be in the toilet, but don’t blame Jim Taylor, the long ago Race Manager at the St. Francis YC, who is having "the time of my life" cruising in Mexico with Garland Bell’s San Rafael-based Beneteau 47.7 Sooner Magic. After having a great time on the Ha-Ha, Taylor, who has been a real estate agent for many years in San Francisco and Marin, sailed down to Banderas Bay, where he’s been having at least as much fun on the bay that features the most consistent good sailing conditions in Mexico. He’s spent time at the new La Cruz Marina, claims he had a fabulous Thanksgiving alone while on the hook at Punta Mita, then sailed over to Yelapa for a couple of terrific days on the new $20/night mooring buoys.

Although sailing in Mexico, Jim Taylor has some real estate in Marin and San Francisco that he would be delighted to sell you.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Nonetheless, when it suits him, Taylor hits the internet cafe in La Cruz in the mornings to do a little real estate. And frankly, he’s been pleased at the results that he’s had doing business via the internet. "I’ve got three offers on houses, and two of them have already been accepted — I can’t believe it!" No wonder it occured to him that maybe he should do all his future real estate work in Northern California from a boat in Mexico. Things are going so well that he’s even decided to spring for one of the trophies for next week’s Banderas Bay Blast.

Also enjoying himself to no end has been Jim Bewley of the Richmond-based SC 50 Another Girl. Seen dancing up a storm at Philo’s Bar and Restaurant last week in La Cruz with his wife Sue, Jim is also going to enter the Banderas Bay Blast, but there’s no word yet as to whether or not he’ll put up a trophy.

When not actually doing dredging work, this backhoe on the front of the barge serves as the means of propulsion, grabbing the bottom and pulling forward.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
The backhoe operator at the back of the barge, although he’s probably not a licensed captain, is nonetheless in charge of steering when it’s being moved.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

While Taylor and Bewley say things have been a little dusty at the still-not-officially-open Riviera Nayarit Marina at La Cruz, there is no end to the entertainment value in watching how the Mexicans make do with what tools and equipment they have. For example, they use an old and often submerged barge, with a backhoe at each end, to do what’s left of the dredging. With no tug, how do they move the barge? Well, the guy with the backhoe at the bow, which is usually two or three feet underwater, grabs the bottom in front of the barge, and pulls the barge forward. Meanwhile — and you have to see this — the guy in the backhoe at the stern uses his bucket like a rudder. The amazing thing is that there is no communication between the two, and they move in and out of the harbor at about five knots with complete control.

Then there is the guy with an old crawler crane who is doing some dredging from shore with a big bucket. The guy swings the crane arm around, allowing him to cast what must be at least a 1,000-lb bucket, far out into the water. And man, is he accurate!  He’s like a champion fly fisherman the way he can land that bucket within just a few feet of a guy lazily sitting on the side of the barge. You just gotta love Mexico!

Perdock’s Story Keeps Changing

Bismarck Dinius, who was charged with manslaughter in the 2006 death of Lynn Thornton, appeared in Lake County Superior Court November 29 to plead not guilty to the charges, and to request that Lake County prosecutors be removed from the case. Thornton died when the sailboat she and Dinius were aboard was struck at high speed by Lake County Deputy Sheriff Russell Perdock’s powerboat. Lake County prosecutors dismissed Perdock’s speed as a causal factor in Thornton’s death and, instead, decided Dinius, who was sitting at the helm at the time of impact but was not the boat’s skipper, was to blame because he didn’t turn on the boat’s running lights. Dinius’ attorney, Victor Haltom, insists that the local sheriff and district attorney "failed to perform a fair and impartial investigation." The judge felt differently and struck down the motion to remove the local DA.

ABC Channel 7’s I-Team reporter Dan Noyes also reported on their website that Perdock’s story keeps changing. When a sergeant who works for him interviewed him the night of the accident, he claimed his speed was about 40 mph. Several weeks later, an independent investigator with the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office says Perdock told him he was going between 40-45 mph. Now, in depositions for a variety of lawsuits (Perdock is suing Dinius and Mark Weber, the boat’s owner, Dinius and Weber are suing Perdock, and Lynn Thornton’s estate is suing all three), Perdock claims those estimates were wrong. After talking with his lawyers, he now puts his speed at 30-35 mph. Witnesses on shore claimed his speed was closer to 50 mph.

Regardless, even if Perdock was only going 30 mph, it was way too fast for the conditions — he admitted in the deposition that he could only see 10 feet in front of him, and California law requires boaters to "be prepared to stop within the space of half the distance of forward visibility." Even the Sacramento investigator acknowledged Perdock broke the law by failing to maintain a safe speed. Yet Bismarck Dinius is the one on trial. (For the record, Dinius’ attorney claims the sailboat’s running lights were on and that the impact most likely flipped the breaker to the off position.)

As we reported in the December issue of Latitude 38, a legal defense fund for Dinius has been set up. You can send checks made out to Bismarck Dinius, writing "Bismarck Dinius Defense Fund" in the memo section, and mail them to Sierra Central Credit Union, Attn: Brian Foxworthy, Branch Manager, 306 N. Sunrise Ave., Roseville, CA 95661.

“I’m So Thankful They’re Safe!”

In Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic, we reported that the disabled San Francisco-based 47-ft motorsailer Darla Jean washed ashore at Fanning Atoll on December 2 after two and a half months of drifting across the Pacific. Owners Darla and Jerry Merrow — and their dog and bird — were reported to have survived the wreck and were requesting no assistance.

Yesterday we received an email from Darla’s sister Kimberly Corcoran: "Just yesterday I emailed the Coast Guard to see if they could give me any info on Darla Jean‘s whereabouts and I was sent a link to your story. Darla and Jerry’s original destination was the Cook Islands — it looks like they came fairly close to their goal. They left San Francisco on September 20 on a different boat but hit a bad storm just outside of the Gate. They made it as far as Monterey when something happened to their keel. That’s when they decided to buy Darla Jean. I heard from them just before they left Monterey but my family has been very concerned because we haven’t heard from them since. I am so thankful to know that they are safe!"

We’re still curious about the couple and their boat so if you have any more info to share, email Richard.

Maxi Racing Across The Atlantic

Nariida, a Wally 105 from Norway, has set her chute and is leaving volcanic Tenerife for the much warmer and lush St. Maarten in the Caribbean.

© 2007 Rolex TransAtlantic Maxi Race

Why do West Coast boats sail and race to Hawaii in the summer? Because the Pacific High establishes itself (usually) to create good and consistent off-the-wind sailing. Why do so many boats from Europe sail/rally/race from the Canary Islands to the Western Caribbean in November and December? Pretty much for the same reason —  the Azores High establishes itself, providing good and consistent tradewind sailing along that 2,750 to 3,000-mile route. Plus, it gets cold as hell in the Med and Europe in the winter, and it’s warm across the Atlantic and in the Caribbean.

The event that made crossing the Atlantic in early winter popular is the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, and that’s still going strong. In fact, this year’s fleet of nearly 240 boats are still on the course, taking time out to rescue African refugees seeking economic opportunity in Spain’s Canary Islands, and rescuing the crew of a non-ARC boat from their disabled vessel. In addition, there are other events from Europe to the Caribbean, several of them primarily French or German.

Peter Harrison’s Farr 115, having sailed a more southerly route, has pulled even with the more northerly Wally.

© 2007 Rolex TransAtlantic Maxi Race

Also going on right now is the first-ever Transatlantic Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup which, despite starting from the Canary Islands, was organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (the one founded by His Highness the Aga Khan) that is in Puerto Cervo, Sardinia – home to the Maxi World Cup and other world-class events. The Maxi Transatlantic is supported by the Real Club Nautico de Tenerife, from where it started on November 26th, and the Sint Maarten YC, where it will finish.

This year’s Maxi TransAtlantic fleet isn’t the biggest — just seven boats — but they are reportedly having a great time in the 15 to 20 knots of wind the crossing is known for. If our Italian translation skills serve us correctly, Norway’s Nariida, a Wally 105 owned by Morten Bergsen, took line honors early this morning.  Bergson had gambled with a more northerly route than much of his competition and it paid off. Nariida finished roughly 300 miles ahead of the second place boat Sojana, a 115-ft Farr ketch owned by Brit Peter Harrison, which took a southerly route. You can track the boats’ progress at

"On the morning of December 2, the 47-ft San Francisco-based motorsailer Darla Jean wrecked on the reef on the southeast side of Fanning Atoll in the Central Pacific," report Robby and Lorraine Coleman, who have been there for several months aboard their Honolulu-based Angelman ketch Southern Cross.
Francis Joyon and his 97-ft Irens/Cabaret trimaran have slowed somewhat in pursuit of a new solo around the world record, but are still on a pace that is — incredibly — about 20% faster than Ellen MacArhtur’s current record.
Small Flying Patio Furniture and BreakThrough enjoyed Saturday’s mostly-clear, but cold, conditions. © 2007 Peter Lyons After the bleakest November in memory, midwinter racing got underway again this weekend with well-attended series in venues ranging from the South Bay all the way up to Vallejo.