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May 1, 2009

H1N1 (formerly Swine) Flu in Mexico

The new 20 peso note from Mexico?

Lonnie Ryan
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The H1N1 flu — politically incorrectly referred to as the ‘swine flu’ — doesn’t seem to be a problem for cruisers in Mexico yet. Lou Freeman, the retired doctor who owns the San Diego-based Swan 51 Seabird, collected reports from cruisers along the coast of Mexico and in the Sea of Cortez, and there was no bad news. Curiously, we’re not aware of there having been a case of H1N1 anywhere along the coast of Mexico — including Cabo San Lucas, normally a hotbed of transmitted diseases, albeit of the sexual nature.

As of yesterday, many epidemic experts said that while it was still a little early to know for sure, they were beginning to hope that H1N1 might be a relatively mild flu and more difficult to transmit than most flus. In fact, the number of the deaths attributed to H1N1 in Mexico seems to be declining all the time, and in any event is a minute fraction of deaths each year as a result of the ‘regular’ flu. This, however, didn’t stop Vice President Joe Biden, who has a reputation for reckless statements, from saying he wouldn’t want his family travelling on subways, buses and airplanes. After all, why let science get in the way of an uninformed opinion? But in the blink of a bureaucratic eye, the White House clarifed Biden’s statements, assuring everyone that the Vice President had really meant just the opposite of what he’d said. Getting the award for the extreme overreaction, however, was the government in Hong Kong. When one case of H1N1 was discovered in a hotel, they shut the hotel down for a week, with nobody, least of all the guests, allowed to leave. Having suffered from SARS, they aren’t taking any chances.

Nobody wore a surgical mask to the Loreto Fest gathering at Cocktail Cove.

© 2009 Steve Albert

While the government of Mexico has closed schools and bars and cancelled many public events, the cruisers’ Loreto Fest at Puerto Escondido, Baja, opened on schedule. The accompanying photograph — showing a raft-up of dinghies from some 35 boats in Cocktail Cove — proves it. According to photographer and participant Steve Albert of the Grants Pass-based Oceanis 390 Far Fetched, "after snacks and drinks, the proper frame of mind was achieved, and one person from each boat was asked to introduce their boat, crew, and future plans. In addition they were asked to identify their favorite piece of cruising gear. While items such as solar panels and electric windlasses were mentioned, most cruising couples said their favorite bit of cruising gear was their mate! Harmony is important on a small boat!"

For those of you up here in the States who are in good health but looking forward to a weekend of rain, the following might make you sick, although not with H1N1: today’s high in Puerto Escondido is expected to be 87º and the exchange rate is 13.85 pesos to the dollar.

Sweet 16 Ha-Ha Sign-Ups Begin Today

Ever think about getting a tattoo? This one indicates that the bearer is officially registered in the world-renowned San Diego-to-Cabo cruisers’ rally.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Some folks look forward to doing the annual Baja Ha-Ha cruisers’ rally for years. And by the time May 1 rolls around — the date when the San Diego-to-Cabo San Lucas event is officially ‘announced’ — many are chompin’ at the bit to officially register. 

As we write this, the final touches are being put on the official online sign-up pages, which should be ready for action this afternoon. So if you’re ready to escape the madness of the workaday world this fall, we suggest you shanghai a fun-loving crew and sign up soon for the Sweet Sixteen Baja Ha-Ha. (Look for the "Register" button on the homepage.) And make note that slip assignments in Cabo are offered based on the chronological order in which boats sign up. 

Dates for this year’s event are October 25-November 7. For general info on the event and a calendar of important dates, go to the site and look for "About the Ha-Ha" and "2009 Schedule."

Bounty Mutineer Descendants Quarantined

David and Marcie strike a pose during their recent visit to the Galapagos Islands.

Nine of Cups
©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"We’ve been witnesses to history here!" reports Marcie Lynn of the Denver-based Liberty 458 Nine of Cups. Currently sailing from the Galapagos to French Polynesia, she and her husband David just made a pit stop at remote Pitcairn Island — famous as the hideaway of the HMS Bounty mutineers.

Shortly after their arrival, the Nine of Cups crew were included in an emergency general meeting of the population, where residents voted to close their borders to any incoming ship/yacht traffic until further notice based upon the WHO’s recent statement raising to level 5 the worldwide H1N1 flu alert.

"As an isolated population," Marcie explains, "healthy Pitcairners are at a severe risk to their population from possible outside infection. Because we are already here, because we came from a non-infected area and have spent the last 2-3 weeks ‘quarantined’ at sea with no symptoms of any illness, we can either stay or leave." The next question for Marcie and David, however, is whether they’ll face quarantine restrictions when they make landfall in French Polynesia at Mangareva in the Gambiers archipelago.

We’ll look into that. In the meantime, check out the mini-profiles of this crew and others in the May edition of Latitude 38 — on the streets today. And see the Puddle Jump website for more info on this annual westward migration.

May Issue of Latitude on Stands Today

May Day is celebrated differently around the world. In England, young lasses gaily prance around a May Pole. The Irish light bonfires to welcome spring and banish long winter nights. Germans are known to "dance into May." And in Hawaii, the day is known as Lei Day, a day to celebrate native Hawaiian culture.

Around the Bay Area today, sailors can celebrate May Day by dropping by their local chandleries, marinas, or yacht clubs to pick up the May issue of Latitude 38, hot off the press (search our list of distributors for one in your area). Cruise vicariously through stories about the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week and the BVI Spring Regatta, read about the thrilling rescue of two sailors tossed into the drink after their keel fell off just outside the Bay, and find out more about this year’s class of Puddle Jumpers. Of course there’s so much more that you’ll want to do a dance of your own!

By the way, the correct caption for the bottom photo on page 94 should have read "A wave sweeps over Ralf Morgan and Deborah Clark onboard Ditzy." Our apologies to Ralf and Deborah for the error!

"I, like the Grand Poobah of the Ha-Ha, need to go to Mexico to retrieve my boat in Puerto Los Cabos and bring her back to San Diego prior to the June 1 start of hurricane season," writes Lou Freeman of the San Diego-based Swan 51 Seabird.
Okay, so we know it looks like we just told Katinka Kieliger to stand next to Seaward’s wheel, but you better believe it – this girl can drive!