December 3, 2010

Final Day of the Blast

Today is the third and final day of the Banderas Bay Blast, the ‘nothing serious’ cruiser regatta and social extravaganza now in its fifth year. As always, the last day is also the Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run for Charity, which will see the 20-boat fleet carry chutes — and lots of guests who donated money to the charity — for 12 miles in tropical sailing conditions from Punta Mita to Paradise Marina in Nuevo Vallarta. The skies are blue, the wind is expected to be 12 to 18 knots, and the air temperature in the mid-80s. Everybody here is hoping the sailing conditions are as delightful for friends back in their home ports. The following are a series of photos depicting the fun.

The three-day Blast started with a reaching course from Nuevo Vallarta to La Cruz. The J/160 Blue, seen on a tight spinnaker reach, is a vet of all five Blasts and is owned by anesthesiologists Ken and Cheryl of Tennessee. She’s often driven by Mike Danielson of PV Sailing.

© Marili Reilly
Socializing is a huge part of the Blast. Once the fleet was safe in their free berths at the Nayarit Riviera Marina, the party began at the Sky Bar, complete with the annual water balloon drop. This is Dudley, crew on John and Gilly Foy’s Alameda-based Catalina 42 Destiny, looking at his balloon as if it was $1,400/oz gold.

© 2010 Jay Ailworth
Karen, Dudley’s sweetheart, who also sailed on Destiny, used a very different technique to try to catch her water balloon to win a pizza at Philo’s Music Studio and Bar. A former resident of Alameda, Karen loves being a full time resident of La Cruz.

© Jay Ailworth
After the water balloon drop, members of the fleet enjoyed tacos on the street in La Cruz, then migrated to Philo’s. While there, Francesca and Frederica, two lovely Italian girls from Lake Como who crewed on Profligate, bookended Leon the washboard player and his two alter egos. The last thing anybody would accuse Leon of is being ‘two faced’.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
The second monohull division starts the second leg of the Blast off La Cruz. Halfway into the eight-mile windward course, the wind piped up to 18 knots. The boat in the foreground is Roger and Di Frizzelle’s Catalina 470 Di’s Dream from Richmond. Having found crew that night at Punta Mita, they vow to do the Ha-Ha again next year, which will make it their fifth or sixth.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
How lovely can it get? Barritt Neal and Renee Blaul’s San Diego-based Kelly-Peterson 44 Serendipity crosses the Punta de Mita finish line in front of the Four Seasons, looking as sweet as can be. Barritt cruised the South Pacific with the boat in the ’80s, and Renee joined him for many more years of cruising adventures in Mexico and the Caribbean.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Lauren Buchholz and Lauren Smith, vets of the recent Ha-Ha aboard their Seattle-based Wauquiez 35 Pika, share a smile at the reopening of the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club after the second Blast race. Among their cruising goals is Southeast Asia.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Nereida’s Wind Steering Fails

On November 29, a little more than a month after leaving Victoria, B.C. on a planned non-stop solo circumnavigation aboard her Najad 380 Nereida, Jeanne Socrates crossed the equator. "I suddenly realized that the latitude had gone from north to south," she wrote in a blog update. "I looked at the sea — no line to be seen! But we were greeted across by the strengthening wind heeling us under cloudy skies."

Jeanne’s voyage to date seems to have been plagued more by mechanical troubles than by weather issues. Her autopilot has been acting erratically for most of the trip, and no amount of satphone calls to the manufacturer has resulted in a fix. Then yesterday, Jeanne reported that her trusty windvane had failed, leaving her with spotty-at-best self-steering.

"No wonder the wind steering has not been coping this morning — the knob holding two parts together has broken (or fallen) off, so it’s not able to keep the rudder in place for a given wind angle." She hopes to cobble together a jury rig before today is out because, at last word, her autopilot had once again started acting as if it was on crack.

But it’s not all doom and gloom aboard Nereida. In yesterday’s report, Socrates says she was finally able to make her AIS and VHF talk to each other in case of an emergency, such as an imminent collision. It’s comforting to know that this grandma won’t get run over by a freighter, but she’d better keep an eye out for reindeer — we hear Santa hasn’t installed a transponder yet!

Apologies to Navtec and Lewmar

We hate it when we make mistakes, and never more so when they reflect badly on somebody or some company. But that’s just what we did in the December issue.

We’d received a letter from Ed and Karen Lane of the San Diego-based Valiant Esprit Nordic 37 Blade, who reported that they had not been able to participate in the Ha-Ha 17 they’d signed up for because the diesel engine they had ordered on January 15 of ’10 — and were repeatedly promised would arrive shortly — did not arrive in time for them to have it installed for the October 25 start. They were very disappointed.

We noted that, because of the recession, many manufacturers, distributors, and retailers had generally cut back on inventory to reduce costs, and in some cases this was causing problems for consumers. We noted that, for example, Doña de Mallorca wasn’t able to obtain more of the the Henderson water-based deck paint she likes because they simply weren’t going to make any more in white until they got a lot more orders. And that another entry in the Ha-Ha wasn’t able to make it because the rod rigging order he’d placed months before with Navtec, which is owned by Lewmar, didn’t arrive in time.

The only problem with the last statement is that, because of a complete misunderstanding and brain fade on our part, the boat owner hadn’t ordered the rod rigging from Navtec at all. Indeed, the reason he didn’t receive it in time from the other company was, not because of a screw up on the part of the company, but because the people who placed the order on his behalf screwed up.

We’d like to say we made the error about Navtec because the information was passed on to us during the Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party in San Diego, when we had about 3,000 other things on our mind. But that’s no excuse, is it? We screwed up, and feel very badly about it. So our most sincere apologies to Navtec and Lewmar who, as yet, probably aren’t even aware of the mistake.

For the record, we’ve used Navtec products, particularly their backstay adjusters and rigging parts, for more than 30 years, and always found them to be first quality. Our 10-year-old Leopard 45 catamaran ‘ti Profligate catamaran in the Caribbean is equipped with numerous Lewmar winches, and they still look and work as if brand new. Further, we’ve got a terrific Mambo steering system that is sold by Lewmar on Profligate, and it’s been a terrific replacement for the original hydraulic steering, which never worked properly.

Once again, our sincerest apologies to Navtec and Lewmar for our blunder. We’ll try to do better in the future.

Our Answer to the Shopping Blues

If you’re suffering from the Christmas shopping blues — and your brain is about to explode from stressing out over what to buy for whom — we’ve got a splendid suggestion. Make Latitude 38‘s online chandlery your one-stop shopping site. Heck, with a smart phone, laptop or tablet you could even complete your shopping list while aboard your boat.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Just go to the chandlery page of our website and check out our Latitude logowear in men’s, women’s and children’s sizes. Please note, though, that all Christmas orders must be received by December 13.

If you’re a Baja Ha-Ha vet — or are shopping for someone who is — be sure to also check out our Clearance Section, where prices on remaining ’09-’10 items have been . . . how to they say it on TV? . . . "drastically reduced." Happy shopping!

Ho ho ho! The December Latitudes are hot off the presses and headed your way for some holiday cheer.
The San Francisco Port Commission voted 3-0 yesterday on two proposals to host the 34th America’s Cup on the San Francisco waterfront.
In the tidepools of the Gulf and San Juan Islands, kids – like Hayden Stapleton – can find all sorts of fascinating creatures.
Alex was an avid outdoorswoman. © The Milski Family "It was on the first night of last year’s Banderas Bay Blast that we learned of the death of our daughter Alex in Costa Rica," write Jim and Kent Milski of the Colorado-based Schionning 49 Sea Level.