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June 27, 2011

Determined to Ha-Ha

During the 17 previous Baja Ha-Ha rallies, entrants have come from all along the West Coast — including many from Alaska — and there have been a few dozen Australians, New Zealanders and Europeans who’ve participated after buying boats on the West Coast. But never before has an entrant made as big an effort to arrive in San Diego in time for the Ha-Ha’s October start as Swedish circumnavigator Lars Hassler of the Beneteau 50 Jennifer.

Having zig-zagged the world with paying crew aboard for the past 20 years, Lars is well-known and well-respected in the realm of ‘adventure charters’. As we write this, he is somewhere in the middle of the North Pacific en route from Japan to San Francisco — a passage of roughly 4,500 miles. Now that’s what we call a determined Ha-Ha’er! See the complete list of entries, and learn more about the event at

Ad: Free Haulouts at KKMI Pt. Richmond

At KKMI Pt. Richmond, your haulout is FREE with a bottom paint package purchase this July!*


We’ve made the process of getting your boat hauled and painted even easier by wrapping up the cost in package pricing. Don’t worry about calculating hourly labor and materials, just tell us the length of your boat and we can give you the price for one coat or two. Email or call (510) 235-KKMI (5564).

*Boat must be hauled out before July 29, 2011.


The June/July Haulout in Tropical Mexico

This board will boogie no more.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The chopped-up and stabbed boogie board can mean only one thing — it’s haulout time for Latitude‘s Surfin’ 63 catamaran Profligate. Like most boatowners, we look forward to haulouts as much as visits to dentists for multiple root canals. Fortunately, this is only Profligate‘s third haulout in five years, so we’re not doing too bad.

Thanks to her 30-ft beam, there aren’t many places between San Francisco and Panama Profligate can be hauled. From south to north, there is Vacamonte in Panama, the La Cruz Shipyard in La Cruz, Knight & Carver in San Diego, the Marine Group in San Diego, and closest to home, the Napa Valley Marina in Napa. There are also a couple of yards with rails that specialize in commercial boats that could do the job, such as the yard in Mazatlan that hauls David Crowe’s M&M 70 Humu Humu, which has a beam of 34 feet. But most of them seem a little rough for ‘white boats’.

Even though the La Cruz Shipyard can handle Profligate, there’s not much room for error. According to our measurements, only 31.5 feet separates the cement wall on one side of the haul-out dock from the cement wall on the other side. With just nine inches on each side for fenders and Travel-Lift straps, the only possible way to get the cat into the narrow opening is to gun both engines from about 100 feet out, then slam the boat into reverse — hoping the transmission doesn’t fail — before the bows smash into the front of the cement dock.

It was a tight but successful squeeze.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Just kidding. It actually took 20 people, including one swimmer, to get the job done. And after getting the boat part way in frontward, we decided it would be better to back in because we wouldn’t have to undo the headstay. Thanks to a calm morning and good work all around, there was no damage. Once the cat was lifted out of the water, we bread-knifed a couple of well used boogie boards to use at cushioning pads between the stands and the bottom of the hull.

When the Travel-Lift seemed to struggle, de Mallorca stepped in to help lift Profligate out.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

There are different theories about how Profligate should be supported out of the water. One yard, now closed, that we used to use in California would put all of Profligate‘s weight —  24 tons — on just four pads, two of them under the forward bridgedeck and two more under the aft bridgedeck. These pads were only about 16 inches by 16 inches, which seemed to us like not very much support. So after the yard workers left, we’d put stands under the hulls ourselves. At the La Cruz Shipyard, six supports were put under each hull. We like that our cat had three times as much support and that it was spread out over a much wider area.

One of the considerations of hauling in Mexico is that we could apply Interlux’s Micron 66 bottom paint, which has previously given us three good years of service. You can put 66 on in some parts of California, but not in San Diego. When we last hauled at Knight & Carver, we had to use a less-effective Interlux product, from which we only got two years worth of service. With a big boat, there is a lot of difference between having to haul ever two years and every three years. With the haul-out estimates from La Cruz and Knight & Carver being almost the same, we made our decision based on the fact that if we hauled in Mexico, we shouldn’t have to haul for three more years instead of just two. Mind you, we’d like to use a ‘green’ bottom paint, and are testing copper-free ePaint on our Olson 30 La Gamelle, but until the non-copper stuff has been fully proven, it seems too great a risk for the big boat.

Anyway, it’s been so-far-so-good with the haulout. We’ve found no surprises below the waterline, and the guys in the yard have been doing a great job prepping the bottom and the boot stripes, the latter having faded over the last 13 years. If we can find someone flying to P.V. — email Richard — before Friday who could bring some little underwater lights down, we’d like to install them, but otherwise it looks as though it will be a pretty basic haulout.

More and more workers in Mexican boatyards are conscious about their own safety, but some are still ‘old school’.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you’ve heard that it’s hot and humid on mainland Mexico in the summer, you heard right. If you’re like us and like it hot and humid, you’d love it here in June, because it’s not too hot nor too humid. Sure, the unheated swimming pools are a tad warmer than ideal, but the ocean temp, about 82 degrees, is just perfect. There’s been a great swell for the last two days so people have been boogie boarding and surfing until 9 p.m., then getting out without experiencing any sort of chill. If anyone so much as wore a summer top in the ocean, they’d die of heatstroke.

With the heat and humidity, horses need no encouragement to get in the water.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Horses are normally skittish, but this guy knew exactly what to do when confronted by even the largest waves — he ducked into them head on, and plunged through.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Late night walks around the edge of the bay are great, as there is usually a bit of a breeze. Last night we took a stroll along the Nuevo (new) Malecón in Puerto Vallarta, which is terrific. If we’re not mistaken, the old Malecón, which had the main road between the water and the waterfront buildings, is being reconfigured so it too will also be a pedestrian only Malecón. Nice going, P.V.

After two Tom Collins on the beach for a total of $6, and watching the Miss Puerto Vallarta contest for a few hilarious minutes, we walked into Old Town Puerto Vallarta looking for street tacos at about 11 p.m. The streets aren’t very well lit and there wasn’t a cop to be seen, but men, single women, grandmothers, children — everyone was walking about with no concern for their personal safety. And the vibe is so friendly. We finally found our favorite street taco stand, Tacos de Mendoza. For a total of 50 pesos — less than $5 — the two of us stuffed ourselves with killer delicious tacos. No wonder they tasted so good — the cook has been making them at the same spot for 42 years.

We went to Philo’s Music Studio and Bar last night in La Cruz and the place was jam-packed and jumping as if it were the second week in December. The occasion was Philo’s 66th birthday and the 10th anniversary of his opening the music studio and bar. Some may remember that Philo did the ’00 Ha-Ha with his Mendocino-based Cal 36 Cherokee, then continued south where he fell in love with La Cruz. After buying the bar location, he spent half of each year cruising across the Pacific and half running the music studio and bar. Finally he sold the bar and returned to La Cruz full time.

It’s the birthday boy Philo in the middle, who was also celebrating the 10th anniversary of his music studio and bar, which also serves as something of a community center.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

While the mainland cruising season is definitely over, the sailing on Banderas Bay remains great, and there are still a bunch of cruisers who either haven’t flown home yet for the summer or who are summering over. And they all seemed to be at Philo’s last night having a great time. And what a really wonderful group of people! Small wonder, as La Cruz is a full time place to live for not just Americans and Canadians on boats, but Americans and Canadians on land, and middle class Mexican professionals from the interior.

De Mallorca is making noises about it almost being July, hurricanes, and it being time to get our butts up the coast of Baja. As for us, we’re not in such a rush, as we’ve had a lifetime’s worth of fog and cold. Besides, there’s wonderful quality of life that seems to be long gone is so much of California. Since it’s almost July, meaning the top three months for heat and humidity are just about here, we guess we’ll mosey on north until shortly after the Ha-Ha. But we’ll take comfort in the fact that it’s less than four months to the start of the Ha-Ha. It’s going to be great to be back — and we’re saying that without having left yet.

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In last month’s Sightings, we expanded on a May 11 ‘Lectronic Latitude report on Washington’s ban on copper bottom paint and that California was close to passing a similar law in SB 623.