January 25, 2012

SoPac Seminars Educate Puddle Jumpers

Few experiences in a well-traveled sailor’s life are more dramatic than making landfall in French Polynesia.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Every winter and spring sailors bound for French Polynesia set sail from many ports along the West Coast of the Americas. But you’ll find the greatest concentrations of these so-called Pacific Puddle Jumpers in Banderas Bay, Mexico, and Balboa, Panama. One reason for that is that resident yacht clubs in each locations host a highly informative series of free seminars focused specifically on issues of key importance to Pacific passagemakers.

The Banderas Bay series kicks off February 1 at the Vallarta YC in Nuevo Vallarta’s Paradise Village Resort, (3:30 p.m.) featuring lessons learned by Keith and Susan Levy aboard their Catalina 470 C’est La Vie during 35,000 miles of Pacific cruising, with introductory comments from longtime Mexico cruising expert Dick Markie, harbormaster of Paradise Village Marina.

In 2010, Elizabeth and Rod of the Swan 41 Proximity were among dozens of sailors who attended seminars and our send-off party in Banderas Bay.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The series will continue with a wide range of topics including rigging, weather routing, provisioning, systems management and more, and will alternate locations between VYC and La Cruz YC, located at the Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz. See our Puddle Jump website for a complete listing.

Meanwhile, former cruisers Frank Nitte and Shirley Duffield of the Islander Freeport 36 Windsong — who now call Panama home — have organized a similar series to be held at the Balboa YC, at the western end of the Panama Canal. See our site for details.

Sailors from all many nations pass through Panama every winter, and many of them attend our Puddle Jump Send-off Parties at the Balboa YC.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Venturing out into the South Pacific is a major undertaking, potentially far more challenging than coastal cruising, so it’s wise for every westbound voyager to follow the well-worn Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. These seminars go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.

As in years past, Latitude 38 will be holding Pacific Puddle Jump Send-off Parties at both clubs, which are open to all registered Jumpers. Dates are:

  • February 29 — Vallarta YC, 3-6 p.m.
  • March 10 — Balboa YC, 12-4 p.m.


We look forward to meeting all Send-Off Party attendees, and we plan to profile as many of them as possible in an upcoming edition of Latitude 38 magazine. Is there a Pacific Puddle Jump in your future?

Supes Certify AC34 EIR

More than 100 people — probably closer to 200 — showed up at City Hall yesterday for a Board of Supervisors meeting to determine the fate of the America’s Cup Environmental Impact Report, which was unanimously accepted by the Planning Commission last month. Environmental and community groups filed two appeals saying the EIR didn’t go far enough in preventing air, water and, of all things, sound pollution.

Possibly the most vocal group represented at the meeting were swimmers who objected to a 40-by-22-foot JumboTron that the Event Authority had planned to anchor in the middle of Aquatic Park. "Swimmers, who appeared to outnumber sailors, were concerned that the placement of the concrete anchoring blocks might stir up sediment," says Latitude Associate Publisher John Arndt. "While this certainly could happen, you have to wonder how it would compare to the three days of rain we just had washing millions of gallons of polluted water off city streets and into the Bay." In the spirit of cooperation, the Event Authority readily agreed to relocate the JumboTron to a shoreside location, and with that ensured the unanimous denial of the appeals.

"The sailors who showed up — Paul Kaplan, John Platt, Kame Richards, John Super, Paul Oliva and Peter Stoneberg, among many others — helped highlight the benefits of the event, and painted a clear picture of what an awesome spectacle the America’s Cup will be," notes Arndt.

Come to Think of It, Let’s Skip Italy

Having recklessly pissed away their money and gone into tremendous debt — sort of like the United States and California — the Italian government has come up with a brilliant new "austerity measure." Actually, it’s a whopping new tax on yachts, one that’s certain to drive the country further into debt.

According the British Cruising Association, as of May 1, all yachts, foreign and Italian, will be subject to a new daily tax in Italy. It’s a highly progressive tax. Boats from 33 to 36 feet will have to pay 5 euros a day, which at the current rate of exchange is about $6.50 a day or $195 a month. For boats 37 to 42 feet, it will be 8 euros a day, or $10.40 a day or $312 a month. For boats 43 to 58 feet, about the average size of a Ha-Ha entry, it will be 10 euros a day, which translates to $13 a day, or $390 a month. God help you if you’ve got a bigger boat, for those over 72 feet will have to pay 30 euros a day in tax, which is about $40 a day or $1,200 a month. This is in addition to any berth fees, which run about $700 for a 42-ft boat.

Italian tax collectors expect to cash in on all the boats that are berthed in their country, but we suspect that harbors such as Portofino may empty out in response.

© Ragnatela Luogo

God knows that the Italian Riviera is fantastic. And Capri, Sardinia and Sicily . . . my, oh my. But as fun as Italy is, it’s also very, very expensive to begin with. So you can just imagine how your average cruising sailor is going to react.

It’s unclear to us if Italian legislators know that boats, particularly foreign boats, can untie Italian docklines and leave Italy and such taxes behind. And that it’s only a very short distance to France, Spain, Croatia, Greece, Malta and Tunisia, to name a few, where either there aren’t any such taxes or they aren’t anywhere near as high.

Say you own a business on the Italian coast, be it a marina, chandlery, yacht services, yacht sales, restaurant, clothing or jewelry store. What do you think business is going to be like this summer? Do you plan on hiring additional workers? Or are you simply going to close up shop, and sail off in your little boat to Southeast Asia or some other place where the living is very good, inexpensive and there are no boat taxes?

With Governor Brown suggesting tax increases to raise revenue — as opposed to cutting graft and wretched spending excess, and nixing the plans to spend $100 billion on a choo-choo to nowhere — Californians might want to watch how the bold Italian taxation experiment pans out.

If you’re at all interested in seeing the 34th America’s Cup sailed on San Francisco Bay, AC Outreach Manager Ariel Ungerleider is urging you to attend tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors meeting to show support for the event.
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