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October 6, 2010

Supes Say Yes!

Hurrah! Two steps closer to the AC!

© 2010 America’s Cup / Carlo Borlenghi

After months of buildup, the race to clear the two most significant initial legislative hurdles for hosting the 34th America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay happened so fast that we had to pinch ourselves. Yesterday, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 to approve the term sheet that will serve as an outline for the City to hammer out the deal that will hopefully bring AC 34 to the Bay. The vote followed on the heels of a 3-0 vote by the Supes’ Land Use Committee the day before, where a cadre of local sailors, supporters, and even a couple ‘concern-voicers’ showed up to testify about the value of having the next Cup on the Bay.

The mood of Monday’s meeting was very positive, by and large, and showed the broad support that this proposal is engendering among the various parts of the City family. Port Director Monique Moyer reported that Piers 30/32 at present have "negative value" in their current state, and that although there had been occasional interest from commercial developers over the years, nothing had ever gotten beyond the idea stage. Moyer also noted that none of the other ideas had ever been for a maritime use.

Kyri McClellan, the project manager spearheading San Francisco’s bid for the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, laid out the City’s working proposal with the help of Craig Hartman of the ‘starchitect’ firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill’s San Francisco office. She also laid out the admittedly tight timeline, and produced a ream of paper — literally — that represented the only printed copy of all the emails sent to the Mayor’s office in support of City’s bid.

By now you may have heard that a termed-out supervisor — one of yesterday’s "no" votes — who is not on the Land Use Committee, effectively hijacked the meeting for what seemed like a half-hour, initially bringing up some valid questions about the speed of the process and budget analysis before devolving into a protracted rant that at one point had him questioning what his own point was. He claimed that as the Supervisor representing the district which would be impacted the most by the event, he had not been contacted by the Mayor’s office, a charge that has since been refuted. But you probably haven’t heard about the affirmative nature of the comments given by committee members David Chiu, Eric Mar, and committee Chairwoman Sophie Maxwell — who said she had enjoyed taking sailing lessons many years ago in Sausalito, and lamented not being able to pursue it more frequently.

Not all the folks you see here were at the Board Supervisors Land Use Committee meeting to show their the support for the City’s bid for the next America’s Cup, but we guess it had to be in the 90% range! There were so many people in fact, that they had to use the overflow room to accommodate everyone who showed up.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you want to see America’s Cup 34 sailed on San Francisco Bay and were unable to attend Monday’s meeting, rest assured that you were represented strongly by what appeared to be in the neighborhood of 70 or so supporters including: Cree Partridge, Rich Jepsen, Kimball Livingston, Ronnie Simpson, Drew Harper, Garett Greenhalgh, Hans Bernwall, Carissa Harris, Jay Palace, Mark Leonard, Mia Bernt, Kevin Manel, Shawn Grassman, Marceline Therrien, BAADS, Jack Majszak, George Clyde, Loreen Novakm, Renee Linde, Timothy Ballard, Anthony Sandberg, Vince Casalaina, Norm Pierce, Bob Arndt, Michelle Slade, Patrick Benedict, William Piehl, Geoffrey Faraghan, Marina V. Secchitano, Gunnar Lundeberg, Anthony Poplawski, Christian Yuhas, John Arndt, Kame Richards, Sally Richards, Peter Stoneberg, Laura Paul-Munoz, Jon Haverson, Bob Tellefsen, Rob Grant, Adam Correa, Bruce Ladd, Synthia Petroka, Jim Antrim, Paul Anderson, Stan Honey, Sally Lindsay Honey, Kerry Keefe, Paul Kaplan, Chrissy Kaplan, Dan Haynes, Ariane Paul, Paul Oliva, Bob Naber, and Ron Young.

Oktoberfest Regatta Update

Oops! We made a mistake in the October issue’s Calendar, noting that the Oktoberfest Regatta on October 16 was sponsored by Richmond YC. Not so! The event, which is a pursuit race around Alcatraz for PHRF boats — or a fun cruiser rally around TI, for those so inclined — is sponsored by Berkeley YC. Info can be found on their website, or by contacting Bobbi Tosse by email or by calling (925) 939-9885.

She’s as Sweet as She Is Tough

"I never singlehand by choice," says Evi Nemeth. But when there’s no able-bodied crew around to recruit, this salty Coloradan doesn’t hesitate to go it alone — even on long, lonely ocean passages.

Still smiling after crossing thousands of miles single- or shorthanded, Evi strikes a pose in front of Lawrence’s pizza oven in Neiafu.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We first met Evi last March in Panama, when she attended our Pacific Puddle Jump Kickoff Party at the Balboa YC. At that time, she had already completed an Atlantic circuit from Florida though the Med, on to Brazil and across the Caribbean. What really got our attention, though, was the fact that she’d only learned to sail in 2002, after buying her Nordic 40 Wonderland the previous year. She began cruising — which had been a dream for four decades — after only a year of near-shore practice.

As Evi enters her 70s, many fellow cruisers marvel at her independence and stamina. But folks from Colorado tend to be pretty tough. Besides, Evi is a retired school teacher, and as a popular bumper stickers states, "You can’t scare me, I’m a school teacher."

When we caught up with Evi recently in Vava’u, Tonga, she shared some of her cruising tales. But so far the hardest thing she’s had to deal with has been the loss of her two small houses near Boulder, which recently succumbed to the massive Fourmile Canyon wildfire. After crossing to New Zealand this month, she’ll fly home to deal with the mess, and begin a battle with the local planning department, which won’t allow her to rebuild replacement houses that are less than 2,000-sq-ft — hers were substantially smaller. "I’m one person," she says, "and I’m living comfortably on a 40-ft sailboat. What would I do with a 2,000-sq-ft home?"

Goes to show that some challenges of the cruising life can’t be anticipated. Still, Evi is determined not to get hung up in Colorado. In fact, she’s already bought a return ticket to Kiwiland, proving that nothing — including hell, high-water or a 7,000-acre forest fire — is going to stop this white-haired sweetheart from completing her cruising dreams. You go, girl!

Talking Motor Oil and Myths of Mexico

If you’re sailing to Mexico and have a diesel engine — which most sailboats do — you’ll want to be clued in on the pricing of motor oil, because it varies wildly.

Take Chevron’s popular Delo 400LE heavy-duty oil for diesel engines. At some places in the U.S. — such as Costco, if you have them deliver it to your business — it costs nearly $19 a gallon. Wow! And we’ve been to some chandleries where sells for over $18 a gallon. But if you think that’s expensive, wait until you get south of the border. Last spring, Doña de Mallorca had to pay over $24 for just one gallon. Ouch, my pocketbook! And Patsy Verhoeven, who spends much of the year living on her Gulfstar 50 Talion in La Paz, tells us she once paid $28 for a gallon at Lopez!

The deal on Delo 400LE heavy-duty oil for diesel engines is that it’s less expensive — much less expensive — if you buy it in the U.S. as opposed to Mexico.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The good news is that if you actually go into a Costco here in the States, you can buy a three-gallon pack of Delo for just $33 — which our calculator tells us is right around $11 a gallon. Or, about $17 a gallon less than what Verhoeven paid in La Paz. That’s a difference of about a week’s worth of delicious tacos!

Since your diesel probably takes less than one gallon of oil, carrying a couple of three-packs of Delo 400 might be 50 lbs of weight you don’t want to drag all over the ocean — unless you’ll be continuing on to the South Pacific. Lord knows what a gallon of Delo or an equivalent might cost in expensive Papeete. Nonetheless, it still might be worth taking two three-packs to Mexico, even if you’re only going for just a season. Because while you can’t get on a local cruisers’ net and say, "I’ve got three gallons of Delo 400 that I’d like to sell for much less than you can buy it for down here" — it’s illegal to sell stuff you’ve brought down — you could get on the net and say, "Yeah, treasures of the bilge, I’ve got three extra gallons of Delo 400 that I’m interesting in trading for another treasure of the bilge of equal value." That’s code for you-know-what.

If any of you who have been cruising in Mexico have suggestions for things southbound cruisers should stock up on in the States, we’d love to hear from you. These could either be things that you haven’t been able to find easily in Mexico or things, like Delo, that cost much less in the States.

For example, long-time Mexico cruiser Wayne Hendryx of the Brisbane-based Hughes 45 Capricorn Cat says that you can find relish in Mexico, but not ‘pickle relish’. The ‘Mango Man’ says there’s a big difference between the two. He suggests bringing a couple of jars. He also says that while wine is getting better and more reasonably priced in Mexico, if you’re a chardonnay drinker, you should bring your own. It’s a matter of both quality and availability. And if you want really good wines, you’ll really want to bring a complete supply.

If you’re going to want to wrap an artichoke in foil for quick cooking, you’ll get pricked using the thin Mexican-style foil. Reynolds rocks!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Verhoeven had the following suggestions: "Heavy-duty aluminum foil, because the Mexican stuff is no more robust than gold leaf you put on boat names. Little chopped green chilies because, believe it or not, you can’t find them in Mexico. Irish Spring soap, because it’s the best and you can’t find it down there. Canned tuna, because Mexican tuna fish looks and smells like pet food. Luna energy bars, which cost $3.50 each at CCC in La Paz, but as little at 89 cents when on sale at Ralph’s or Trader Joe’s. The same bag of Starbucks coffee is double the price at CCC — if you can even find it anymore — so bring lots of that. Dijon mustard is really expensive in Mexico, and Joy dishwashing soap is hard to find. Barkeeper’s Friend, the best stainless steel polish, is also difficuilt if not impossible to find in Mexico. Fuel filters and 3M 5200 are also dear."

As for Bill Lily of the Newport-based Lagoon 470 Moontide, "Don’t forget to bring the Jack Daniels, as it’s really expensive and can’t be found in the corner bodega." Indeed, most, but not all, hard liquor is dear in Mexico. 

Myths of Mexico

Since we’re talking about Mexico, here’s a couple of myths that need dispelling:

  • Because of the extreme violence between members of the groups supplying insatiable drug users in the United States, Mexico is a terribly dangerous place to be. Just about everyone who has NOT been to Mexico says this. Just about everyone who has cruised laughs out loud when they hear them say this. Yes, there is a lot of terrible narco violence in Mexico, but it’s not been in cruising areas, and tourists have never been the targets. If that changes, we’ll be the first to let you know.
Yelapa and Mexico were safe for these cruisers in 2004, and we think it’s still perfectly safe for them today.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
  • The country of Mexico is collapsing because of what Hillary Clinton, in one of her most foolish statements ever, said was an "insurgency." We don’t know who gave her that ridiculous characterization, because all experts agree that while there is drug violence among the gangs, none of them are trying to overthrow the government — as had once been the case in Colombia.
  • Mexico is having terrible financial problems. If that was the case, why would its stock market have hit an all-time high yesterday? Indeed, the Mexican economy is doing quite well, thank you, certainly better than the U.S. And the peso, unfortunately for cruisers, has been gaining on the withering dollar. Financial analysts also point to the fact that Volkswagen has just announced that it is pouring $550 million into an engine manufacturing plant in Monterey — despite the fact that it’s been the scene of more than a little drug violence. Pepsi and several other big corporations have also announced major investments in Mexico. While there is certainly room for improvement, there is a lot of promise in the Mexican economy.

Myths about the Ha-Ha

Every year about this time, a few ignorant grouches start ragging on the Baja Ha-Ha. In recent days, people who have never done a Ha-Ha, have described it as a "drunken orgy," as "leaving a path of devastation all the way down Baja, and "buying all the food in every town," and "being a bunch of greenhorns." All this reminds of us of Jimmy Buffet’s admonition: "Don’t try to describe the ocean if you’ve never seen one."

With 195 paid entries, we’re not saying the following to try to get more entries, but to rather make sure the truth gets out — and let some people know how foolish they sound. Having done 16 Ha-Ha’s, we can assure you that there haven’t been any "drunken orgies." At least none we’ve ever been invited to. The Ha-Ha is ‘G-rated’ event, and we intend to keep it that way. And while a large number of participants do drink wine, beer or spirits at the stops, we’ve never had a serious alcohol-related incident. Or even a minor one that we can remember. The Ha-Ha participants are most concerned with safety and getting to know one another. Those who like to party hard do it after everyone arrives in Cabo.

As for "leaving a path of destruction," that’s preposterous. The goal of every Ha-Ha is to make sure every stop and every beach is cleaner than we found them. We’ve never had a lack of people happy to volunteer to police the beaches with us when we’re done. And it’s not like the Ha-Ha fleet cleans out the stores like a infestation of locust. People buy a few things in Turtle Bay, but there’s always still plenty of stock left on the shelves. There are no stores in Bahia Santa Maria, so that’s not an issue. And when the 550-person fleet gets to Cabo, a city with a population of over 250,000, the Ha-Ha isn’t even a blip in the Costco.

Lastly, the Ha-Ha is indeed a fleet of ‘greenhorns’ — if people who have an average of 15 years of sailing experience, with many of them having already done long passages or ocean crossings — are what you’d call ‘greenhorns’.

So if you’ve done a Ha-Ha and didn’t like it, fair enough. Please tell us what you didn’t like and we’ll try to do better the next year. And if you find the Grand Poobah insufferable, well, at times we do, too. But if you rip the Ha-Ha without having ever done one, without having any idea what you’re talking about, you’re only playing the fool and embarassing yourself.

But no matter if you’re doing the Ha-Ha or not, we wish everyone headed to Mexico a safe and happy trip.

And you thought serving sizes in the U.S. were large… © 2010 Bill Nokes Adventurous cruisers are always willing to try local delicacies.
We’ve gotten a couple of letters from folks signed up for the Baja Ha-Ha asking if it was still possible to buy Mexican liability insurance before getting to Mexico.