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February 20, 2009

From Roughing It to Five-Star Luxury

After weeks at sea in a small boat, chillin’ at a top-notch Pearl Resort will be a radical contrast.

© Pearl Resorts

Whether you’re a newcomer to offshore voyaging or a globetrotting ol’ salt, the 3,000 miles between Mexico and the Marquesas is a long, long way. So the prospect of winning a free hotel night in a swank Marquesan resort definitely got the attention of the Pacific Puddle Jumpers who attended our recent kick-off party at the Vallarta YC, at Nuevo Vallarta’s Paradise Village Resort.

Bob Bechler and Caryl St. Clair won a night at Nuku Hiva, at the northern end of the Marquesas chain.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Thanks to Latitude‘s associates in Tahiti who work closely with Tahiti Tourisme, two lucky crews won hotel nights in luxurious Pearl Resorts with sweeping views of nearby anchorages and towering volcanic peaks. Veteran Puddle Jumper Bob Bechler of the Seattle-based Gulfstar 44 Sisiutl impressed his new Kiwi bride, Caryl St. Clair, by winning a night at Nuku Hiva’s idyllic Keikahanui Pearl Lodge, while Roger and Bobbie Jo Curley, of the Ventura-based Morgan O/I 51 Hipnautical won a night at the Hanakee Pearl Lodge on Hiva Oa. No doubt both couples will be the envy of other arriving boats when they head off for a night of luxury. The one question that remains is whether Roger and Bobbie Jo’s 9-year-old son Robin will get to tag along or allow his folks a romantic getaway while he catches up with other Puddle Jump kids — surprisingly there seem to be a lot of ‘kid boats’ heading west this season.

Hipnautical is one of many ‘kid boats’ this year. Roger and Bobbie Jo will soon take a ‘boat break’ at Hiva Oa.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Latitude‘s warm relationship with Tahiti Tourisme has helped to facilitate a free three-day ‘welcome-to-Tahiti’ event, June 19-21, called the Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous, which has the dual purpose of celebrating the fleet’s successful crossing and showcasing traditional arts, music, sport and cuisine which are dear to Polynesian culture. Hopefully, many in this year’s fleet will make an xtra effort to attend. Look for a complete report on this year’s Pacific Puddle Jump fleet in the March issue of Latitude 38 magazine.

Another Conviction in the Hawks Case

It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the seven-woman, five-man jury in the trial of John Fitzgerald Kennedy — the 43-year-old reputed gang member accused of throwing Mexico vets Tom and Jackie Hawks overboard while on a sea trial of their 55-ft trawler Well Deserved in 2004 — took just three hours yesterday to return with a guilty verdict. Actually, they found him guilty on two counts of first-degree murder with the special circumstances of committing multiple murder for financial gain — a distinction that qualifies him for the death penalty, which prosecutor Matt Murphy is seeking. The penalty phase of the trial begins Monday.

Kennedy is the third person to be convicted of similar charges in the case. The accused mastermind of the plot to murder the Hawkses and then plunder their finances, Skylar Deleon, 29, was convicted in November and will likely be sentenced to death in March. His then-wife, Jennifer, 27, was sentenced in 2007 to life in prison without the possibility of parole for her role in the plot. Myron Gardner, 45, and Alonso Machain, 25, have cooperated with authorities in hopes of avoiding the death penalty, and will most likely enter pleas.

Class Acts

How did you learn to sail? If you’re a boomer, the story likely involves getting soaked, freezing your butt off, smashing fingers, spilling blood, getting scared silly and at least one near-death experience. But you still thought it was cool enough to try again. Uncle Bob’s teaching methods — and, in retrospect, his knowledge — may have left a bit to be desired, but he certainly lit the fire. And bit by bit, you became a pretty proficient sailor.

One local sailing school alumnus earned an ‘advanced degree’ when he participated in the last Global Challenge race around the world.

Don Krafft
©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Wannabe sailors these days are lucky. Their introduction to sailing might still come from a friend or relative. But nowadays, they can get a rock-solid foundation and skillset from a professional sailing school in a fraction of the time it took at Uncle Bob’s school of hard knocks. For next month’s issue, we talked with 10 individuals or couples who learned to sail at local sailing schools and went on to some amazing adventures in a relatively short period of time. Among them:

  •  Tony, who had only sailed dinghies a few times. He went through keelboat classes locally, met another student who shared a dream of sailing around the world, and the two of them took off on a circumnavigation from 2001-2003.
  • Jennifer, who got more than she bargained for at a local sailing school. She not only learned to sail, she discovered a soul mate in one of the instructors. The two of them married, bought a boat and circumnavigated.
  • Don, who had sailed off and on for years but ‘filled in the knowledge gaps’ through classes at a school. It gave him the confidence to sign up for the 2004/2005 Global Challenge — the ‘wrong way’ race westabout around the world.
  •  Allan and Rina, former powerboaters who ‘crossed over’ six years ago, took sailing classes, bought a boat, did the last Baja Ha-Ha and were happily enjoying life in Barra Navidad when we talked to them.

Look for their stories and more ‘class acts’ in the March issue of Latitude 38, which hits the streets on March 2.

Sausalito Spill Tops 500,000 Gallons

You can’t exactly set your watch by it, but it seems like every time we get a little wet weather in Marin County there’s a spill of untreated sewage into the Bay. Last year it was Mill Valley and Tiburon. On Tuesday afternoon, it was an awash, corroded pipe that connects the Sausalito and Marin City’s system to the Ft. Baker sewage plant that took a proverbial dump — spewing at least 500,000 gallons of effluent into the Bay until it was finally clamped the following day. According to the Marin Independent Journal, the Sausalito Marin City Sanitary District Board of Directors will hold a special meeting at Sausalito City Hall this afternoon at 3 p.m. to hear a report on the spill from the district’s general manger, Bob Simmons. In the meantime, it’s probably not a good idea to go swimming . . .

The San Francisco Ocean Film Festival, now in its sixth year, once again hopes to inspire folks to celebrate Mother Ocean and work to conserve her precious resources.
Last weekend was a busy one in the sailing world. On Monday, we ran short summaries of the latest news news from the Vendée Globe and Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.