October 5, 2011

Pan Am Games Come to Banderas Bay

After proving its efficiency at running other international sailing contests, the Vallarta YC, located at Nuevo Vallarta’s Paradise Village Resort, has been chosen to host the sailing portion of the prestigious Pan Am Games, October 16-22.

Other Banderas Bay locations will host additional competitions, while the track and field events will take place in nearby Guadalajara:

  • Beach Volleyball from October 15 to 22 at the Pan American Beach Volleyball Stadium in the Puerto Vallarta Hotel Zone
  • 10 kilometer Open Water Swimming Competition in front of the Malecón in downtown Puerto Vallarta on October 22
  • Triathlon at the API Maritime Terminal on October 23

Although the Pan Am Games don’t get a tremendous amount of press in the U.S., elsewhere throughout the Americas they are a very big deal — run every four years, they are essentially a mini-Olympics for all countries within the Americas, including the Caribbean Basin.

The Pan Am torch will be delivered by a series of runners from Paradise Village to the downtown Malecon.

© Guadalajara 2011

So if you’re lucky enough to be in Banderas Bay this month, we’d urge you to check out the action at any or all of the above-mentioned venues. The excitement will begin this Friday, October 7, when the Pan American torch arrives at Nuevo Vallarta. During a ceremony at the YC, the National Sailing Team will pass the torch to Paradise Village owner Graciano Sovernigo, who will hand it off to the Mayor of Bahía de Banderas, Rafael Cervantes Padilla. The mayor will then put it into the hands of relay runners who will carry it 32 miles to Puerto Vallarta’s downtown Malecón.

Puerto Vallarta and its neighboring cities along the Bay are renowned for fun and excitement year-round, but with the added thrills of the Pan Am Games, October should be an epic time to enjoy PV’s sunny attractions. Wish we could be there!  For more info, see the official website, or follow the games on Facebook.

America’s Cup FAQs Updated

The first two America’s Cup World Series events are in the bag, and we thought it would be a good time to update the America’s Cup FAQ page on our website. Since the FAQs were first published earlier this year, the answers to many of the questions have changed as the event has developed from a few radical and nebulous ideas into the America’s Cup World Series replete with 114 fully built-out containers traveling on the same ship with nine AC 45s, and dozens of support boats. As the path to the 34th America’s Cup continues to develop, we will continue to update these questions — many of which are based on those submitted by readers. Do you have a question? Send it to us, and we’ll do our best to incorporate it.

Oracle racing will be bringing their part of the America’s Cup World Series roadshow back to the bay for the month of October before heading to San Diego in mid-November.

© Gilles Martin-Raget

The next stop on the America’s Cup World Series is a lot closer to home than Plymouth, England or Cascais, Portugal. It’s just down the coast in San Diego November 12-20. But the good news is that you won’t have to wait that long to see an AC 45 tearing it up on the water. Oracle Racing will be conducting a testing program here on the Bay this month. According to the team, only one boat will be sailing this week, as the team will be focused on Oracle Open World. After that there should be some good viewing opportunities for the two-boat testing — and we hope to maybe see some curved daggerboards or other trickery that isn’t allowed in the AC World Series.

This & That About the Cruising Season

It’s just 2.5 weeks until the start of Baja Ha-Ha XVIII, and we are totally feeling the excitement of the upcoming season in Mexico — and the love of so many wonderful cruising friends!

The only thing better than a beautiful dawn over San Diego Bay is that it’s also the dawning of the cruising season of ’11-’12. Get ready for fun and adventure!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We’re tied up at Driscoll’s Boat Yard on Shelter Island in San Diego getting a bit of work done, and have great neighbors. Off our port quarter is the spectacular Jerry Dykstra-designed, Cayman Island-based Carl Linne, which looks to be about 90 feet. She’s a capital ‘Y’ Yacht. According to the deckhand who was playing guitar on her last night, they are headed for Cabo, the Sea of Cortez, and then the Caribbean. Also off our port quarter is the Nelson-Marek 92 Locura which, up until a week ago, was owned by a Northern California sailor. She was just purchased by Hector, a fun-loving Peruvian who plans to sail to Mexico and then race her in cruising races in the Caribbean. Running the boat now — and hopefully in the future — are Joe and Lori Lacey, who did the ’05 Ha-Ha aboard their Reno-based Island Packet 40 Dos Amantes, and subsequently day chartered her out of Marina Vallarta. One of their sons is now taking over that gig. A couple of boats down from our end-tie is the San Francisco-based Tayana 47 El Tiburon belonging to Darrell Erickson and Sarah Powell. These serial boatowners won’t be doing the Ha-Ha again this year, as they want to take a long time to cruise down the coast of Baja this winter.

Down at the Police Dock at the tip of Shelter Island we crossed paths with the always entertaining Pat and Jeannie Hughes of the 65-ft schooner Patricia Belle. They’ve done the Ha-Ha twice before, and are doing it again this year. After their last Ha-Ha, they spent 4.5 years chartering out of Mazatlan. "We loved it there!" say the couple. "We’ve haven’t been in Mazatlan since May, but we never had any safety issues."

When approaching the entrance to San Diego Bay from offshore, do not cut the northwest corner or you’ll be snagged in seaweed. If the seaweed blocks the raw water intake for your engine  as it eventually will  you’re going to have major overheating problems.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Last Friday Stephen Mann, who doublehanded around the world via the Southern Capes aboard his San Diego-based Wylie 38 Tawodi and is dreaming about doing it again, but singlehanded, gave a Baja Bash and Offshore Sailing talk at a San Diego event put on by Ullman Sails and Pacific Offshore Rigging. About 60 people attended, and got a boatload of info from Mann, who has done it all on the ocean. We had to sit that one out because of the flu, but Doña de Mallorca crossed paths with Katrina Liana at the event. She lives aboard with her husband at La Cruz, Mexico, and does publicity for the Nayarit Riviera Marina. Katarina is always excited, but she was even more so than normal about the upcoming cruising season, the marina’s upcoming pool, and the ‘refit’ at Philo’s Music Studio and Bar.

Last weekend was also the pre-Ha-Ha get-together at the Oceanside YC. While they didn’t attract quite as many participants as they’d hoped, both the club and the partygoers reported having a great time. If you’re headed south, put Oceanside on your list of places worth stopping.

During last weekend’s first annual Pre-Ha-Ha Rendezvous at the Oceanside YC both hosts and participants “got our Ha-Ha On.” According to all reports, it was a whole lot of fun.

© 2011 David Albert

Patsy Verhoeven of the La Paz-based Gulfstar 50 Talion, who had just left La Paz on her way to San Diego for the start of her umpteenth Ha-Ha, emailed the news that Neil Shroyer of Marina de La Paz told her that the marina was all but sold out for the winter. So if anyone is planning to get a slip in La Paz, they should get on the horn to Marina Costa Baja or Marina Palmira right away.

Costa Baja Marina, seen here, and other nearby facilities are expected to do a brisk business this season

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If La Paz fills up, another great option is Mazatlan, a little more than 200 miles across the Sea of Cortez. Both Marina El Cid and Marina Mazatlan have very nice facilities, and between the two of them you can always find a slip. Mazatlan is also home to Bob Buchanan’s Total Yacht Services. A Canadian, Buchanan is not only a Yanmar dealer, but has developed a sterling reputation for engine work. If we had a big engine problem, we’d cover a lot of miles to get our boat to him so he could do the work. God forbid you need a replacement engine, but he’s got good prices on Yanmars. Earlier this year, Barritt Neal of the San Diego-based Peterson 44 Serendipity, another vet of several Ha-Ha’s, told us that he got quotes for a replacement Yanmar diesel from both the distributor in Southern California and from Buchanan in Mazatlan. The price was exactly the same for the engine delivered in Mazatlan as it would have been had Neal picked it up in Southern California!

If you’re a commuter cruiser looking for a safe, convenient marina, with good air connections to the states, Marina Mazatlan or nearby El Cid Marina might be what you’re looking for.

© 2011 Mexico Tourism

Let’s talk about clearing into Mexico. On Monday we told you that Ha-Ha entries will be able to clear into Mexico at Bahia Santa Maria on November 1, and can take care of most of the work in advance by scanning the boat’s documents and crew passports, then sending them to Bob Hoyt at Mag Bay Outfitters. Sorry, the initial email address we posted for him on Monday was wrong, but it has been corrected.

Speaking of clearing into Mexico, Victor Barreda of Cabo San Lucas, who has been a ship’s agent forever, and who checked many Ha-Ha boats in to Mexico last year, reports the following: "The only thing that has changed here in Cabo with regard to check-in procedures is that Immigration is now asking all crew members to show up at the Immigration office in order to do their check in. I am not sure if they are going to enforce this or not, but it’s my opinion that it’s unlikely. As for our services, we will be set up in the same place as last year, out on the Cabo Marina fuel dock, as will marina staff who will expedite registration procedures. If we receive your documents before 12 p.m., they will be ready for pick-up next day at 9 a.m. Documents Received after 12 p.m., will be ready for pick up next day after 12 p.m.

"Here’s the procedure: The captain and crew can show up at the desk with the boat’s document in hand (a copy is ok) along with all original passports. My staff will hand them a crew list form to fill out, and their tourist cards so crew may fill them out on the spot. In order to make the process quicker, we have an entry form on our website they can fill out and print from the website. It will be very helpful if they bring it along. The form is also available free of charge for any other boaters interested in using it to do the paperwork themselves. It can be found at www.caboportagent.com (click the PDF button on the top right corner of the page). Our hours operation will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The costs are the same as last year: Port captain fees are $20-30 USD, depending on the tonnage. Tourist visas are $23 per person. The port tax is $9. Our agency fee is $60. Credit cards will be accepted for payment on-site but will incur an additional 13% tax and card fee added to total."

To review, Ha-Ha boats will be able to check in to Mexico at both Bahia Santa Maria through Mag Bay Outfitters on November 1, or at Cabo San Lucas through Victor after arriving in Cabo, or at Cabo by having the captain do the footwork him/herself.

Normally, the focus of our Bahia Santa Maria Ha-Ha party is cut loose to the tunes of an amazing hard rock cover band. But this year participants will be able to clear in too

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Todd Ebersole just swung by our cat. He’s done about seven Ha-Ha’s, and although he’s originally from Northern Califonria, he’s now the Assistant Harbormaster at Sunroad Marina on Harbor Island. Todd tells us they have berths open for Ha-Ha boats — as do most marinas in San Diego — and that you should call him for special Ha-Ha rates. In a case of bad news for Todd, he lost one of his best and sweetest employees, our dear friend Mika. The lovely Mika and her boyfriend Scott were longtime employees at Two Harbors in Catalina, spent the last couple of years in San Diego, but are now the captain and cook on a Moorings 46 catamaran in the British Virgins. If you’re going to do a crewed Moorings cat charter in the Caribbean, we suggest you specify Scott and Mika.

The other day we emailed Newport’s Rob Wallace to ask how things were going aboard Cita Litt’s Newport Beach-based Rhodes 90 motorsailor Sea Diamond in the Med. Rob told us that the summer was over in the Med, and so was his terrific gig, and that their adventures saw them get as far east as Croatia. Wallace then informed us that he was now the captain of the 157-ft motoryacht Piano Bar — located just a few hundreds yards from where we were in San Diego! So we had lunch, and laughed over a million stories about sailing in Mexico and in the Med. It turns out that Piano Bar should be arriving in Cabo about the same day as the Ha-Ha fleet before continuing on to Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta, so he’ll be keeping an eye out for everyone. Wallace did the Ha-Ha a few years back on the mighty S&S 79 Kialoa III, and said it was one of the most fun times of his long sailing career.

The truth is that you can’t turn in a circle in the sailing nexus of San Diego without bumping into a Mexico-bound cruiser or two. The heart of the cruiser nexus is in and around Shelter Island, and features marinas, boatyards, marine stores such as West Marine, Downwind Marine, and the Marine Exchange, the San Diego, Southwestern and Silvergate YCs, and the Police Dock. All are within walking distance, but are so much more fun to hit by bike. We’ve been riding so much recently that we feel like Pee Wee Herman. Our bike also easily takes us to the great Sushiya sushi lunch specials at Liberty Station, Trader Joes, Von’s, Target and Home Depot. We’ve even ridden our bike all the way up Mission Valley to near the 163 to get stuff at the Apple Store. There’s a Costco right near there, although when we shop there to provision for 14 people on the Ha-Ha, we’re going to rent and borrow a couple of vans, because it’s going to be too much to carry on our bike.

We’ve got cloudy weather here today in San Diego, but the forecast for the seven days after that is sun, sun and more sun. Come on down!

In just the kind of news nobody wanted to hear on the eve of the start of the cruising season in Mexico, police in Zihua found the bodies of seven Mexican men at a downtown bus stop.
When you’ve owned your boat as long as Gary Vinyard has owned his Vallejo YC-based Catalina 30 Curtain Call — 20+ years — you’re likely to have customized it to suit your needs.