November 9, 2011

A Kiss Ain’t Just a Kiss

This year’s most sensational smoochers were Bill and ShantiAna Bartlett of the Alameda-based Columbia 39 ShantiAna.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Each year, the Baja Ha-Ha rally’s Cabo San Lucas beach party ends with a guaranteed crowd-pleaser: the notorious From Here to Eternity kissing contest. The idea is to reenact the steamy — and once controversial — kissing scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr from the blockbuster 1953 movie From Here To Eternity, which won eight Academy Awards. It’s a pretty juicy plot that culminates in Lancaster (playing First Sergeant Milton Warden) and Kerr (playing Karen Prewitt, the neglected wife of another G.I.) kissing passionately on the sands of Oahu, while the shorebreak washes over them. "I never knew it could be like this," Kerr says breathlessly. "Nobody ever kissed me the way you do."

Because that once universally famous black-and-white film was made 58 years ago, the number of Ha-Ha’ers who have actually seen it diminishes every year. But that doesn’t stop them from attempting to reenact the saucy scene. Although some couples artfully descend to a prone postion at the water’s edge while still locked in a loving embrace, others fail to realize that by romping out into waist-deep water, their horizontal make-out session will soon lead to gagging and flailing.

If you haven’t tried it, you’d be surprised how hard it is to maintain lip-to-lip contact while rolling in the surf.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Oops! So far, no one has drowned during the contest, but plenty of salt water has been swallowed.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
More than a few participants were apparently unclear on the concept. Hopefully they’ll do some rehearsing before next year’s contest.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In any case, it’s all great fun — so much so, in fact, that it’s difficult for loving couples to resist competing. So if you think you may be doing the Ha-Ha next year, we suggest you polish up your moves ahead of time. Then, who knows? You might win, making Ha-Ha history and joining a long roster of passionate predecessors. By the way, dates for Baja Ha-Ha XIX have been set: October 28-November 3. Online registration will begin around May 1. In the meantime, look for our Ha-Ha XVIII recap in the December 1 edition of Latitude 38, which will be downloadable for free from anywhere in the world.

Solo Sailor Rescued off Ensenada

On November 5, the Coast Guard rescued a solo sailor from his 20-ft sloop Avalo about 160 miles southwest of San Diego after he phoned shoreside contacts for assistance. According to the Coast Guard, the sailor had left San Diego on November 1 and was en route to Puerto Vallarta when he ran into bad weather, breaking his boom and losing his outboard engine. "According to the ship’s crew," said USCG spokesperson Dan Duel, "the weather was near the limits for the rescue boat to safely operate." Duel said his understanding was that the skipper had a head injury but was otherwise in good condition. He added that the bad weather combined with trailing lines from Avalo‘s sea anchor prevented the rescue boat from getting a tracking device aboard the boat. Consequently, Avalo is still adrift and should be considered a hazard to navigation.

Though the Coast Guard could not confirm the identity of the skipper, it appears it was Dennis Howard of San Diego. We recently learned about Dennis’ goal to sail singlehanded nearly around the world to France aboard his Pacific Seacraft Flicka Avalo, a daunting journey on its own, but even more so when the skipper is legally blind.

After surviving a case of glaucoma with only 5% of his vision remaining, Howard decided not to let his impairment stop him from living his dreams. A longtime solo sailor, Howard says he had to relearn how to sail, just like he had to relearn how to safely cross a street. He outfitted Avalo to accommodate his very special needs, and hoped to help inspire others to break free of their limitations.

Though his website doesn’t mention anything about the incident, his last blog post notes that he was leaving San Diego on November 1 bound for Puerto Vallarta. Whomever the skipper was, we wish him a full recovery — both physical and mental — from this set-back, and would encourage him to keep living his dreams.

Hating the Grand Poobah and the Ha-Ha

Shortly before the start of the Ha-Ha, we mentioned that there are certain people who appear to be obsessed with hating the event and/or the Grand Poobah. Those who doubted us should have been at the Baja Cantina Beach Party for the Ha-Ha fleet last Friday. As we were getting set to be the target of the ‘Anti-Authoritarian Water Balloon Attack on the Poobah’, one of this year’s new events, we were visited by three officials from Migracion. Over the course of the next hour, they informed us that we were the subject of a denunciation by person or persons unknown, and that we would have be present for an investigation the following Monday. It was unfortunate, because it meant the water balloon attack on us had to be rushed so the Ha-Ha group could clear the area for a previously scheduled wedding. But that’s life.

We showed up on time at Migracion on Monday, accompanied by the General Manager and Manager of IGY’s Cabo San Lucas Marina and Ismael of Baja Cantina.  Victor, the Cabo ship’s agent, had hoped to be there also, but had pressing business at the last minute that prevented it. It was no big deal, as we were only allowed to see the administrator handling the case with a translator, Enrique Rivera, and a friend, which was Ismael. The administrator showed us the denunciation against us, which was about 20 pages long, and clearly took lots of time and money to put together. It accused the Poobah of working illegally in Mexico, and the Ha-Ha fleet of leaving the beaches of Mexico filthy, polluting the water with oil, and generally being about the worst curse to ever befall Mexico.

When we asked who had filed the denunciation, the administrator said it had been done by a front organization, which meant the identity of the real person making the attack can never be found. "I can tell you that it was filed in Ensenada," said the administrator, "and could have been done by a Mexican or even some angry American."

Anyway, the administrator allowed us to give our side of the story, which was that all Ha-Ha activities in Mexico are put on by Mexican businesses, and that the Poobah and Ha-Ha in no way profit from them. To back this up, we showed the administrator photos of the Poobah with the smiling Mayor of Turtle Bay, and with the Port Captain and Immigration heads in San Carlos, who had come up to Bahia Santa Maria specifically to clear Ha-Ha boats into Mexico. We also explained that it was one of the top priorities of the Ha-Ha to leave all beaches cleaner than we found them, and that any coward who made accusations to the contrary was either ignorant or a liar.

It was a meeting that went on for several hours, mostly in Spanish, and was very educational. The administrator explained that anyone in Mexico could file an anonymous denunciation against anyone else, and it was Migracion’s responsibility to investigate. When we asked him if they got many, he pointed to the file cabinet behind him and rolled his eyes. He said it was not uncommon for Americans to file them against other Americans. When we later left the building, we noticed a post office like box where people could drop off denunciations.

We found the administrator to be extremely competent. He took the charges in the denunciation very seriously, but he also took our responses to the accusations every bit as seriously. By the time it was all over, he had created a three-page single-spaced document that would have taken someone in the U.S. courts a month to create. It stated his finding, which was that we hadn’t polluted, and that we hadn’t collected money in Mexico, but that we had been in a small technical violation because we didn’t have ‘MC of beach events’ on the back of our FM3 visa. When the administrator said there was going to be a small fine because we were in a small technical violation of the law, it was a tie between Enrique and Ismael to see who could first say who was going to pay for it on behalf of the Ha-Ha and the Poobah. The amount of the fine will be determined later, but the administrator said it would probably be somewhere in the range of $100 – $300. It didn’t make any difference to him if the fine was going to be paid by the marina and or Baja Cantina. Further, he thanked the Poobah and the Ha-Ha for all we have done for Mexico. He pointed out that our FM3 needed to be updated by December, and that if we added party host for Ha-Ha on the back, we would have no similar trouble in the future.

Hate usually pays poor returns. In this case, whoever went to all the time and expense of trying to get us and the Ha-Ha in trouble with the Mexican authorities came out the big loser. A lot of psych experts contend that hate is both a cry for help by insecure people and the externalization of some amount of self-hatred. We don’t know about any of that, but we do know that for less than $10 you can buy a Zen garden that will fit nicely on most chart tables. And we know that working the sands of one’s garden is much more productive than become the slave of others by virtue of hating them. Peace.

Gardening is better than hating.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

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As we write this, most fleet members of the Baja Ha-Ha XVIII cruising rally have left Cabo San Lucas in their wakes, as the event ended with a raucous awards ceremony Saturday night (generously hosted by Marina Cabo San Lucas).
Disturbing news has come out of Pago Pago, American Samoa. According to the Samoa News, as well as independent cruiser reports, on October 27, Kimball Corson was savagely beaten aboard his Lake Pleasant, AZ-based Fair Weather Mariner 39 Altaira by two assailants.
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© 2012 KKMI With winter around the corner, KKMI would like to offer some advice about keeping your boat in its best sailing shape.