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May 23, 2012

Tragic Cruiser Drowning

The West Coast sailing community was saddened to learn of the tragic death of longtime cruiser Mark Barger, 64, in a diving accident last week at Isla Espiritu Santo. Formerly of Sausalito, Barger and his wife Kathleen had been sailing together extensively for more than 40 years. They own a beautiful home and rental property at Manzanillo, in addition to their Passport 51 Lisa Marie, which they’ve sailed since ’91.

This 14-year old file photo shows Mark and Kathleen in ’98, not long before they headed south aboard Lisa Marie with the Baja Ha-Ha rally.

©2012 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Details about Barger’s death are still sketchy, but according to online Mexican news reports, Mark was diving beneath either his dinghy or Lisa Marie to make repairs, but he could not surface without help as he was wearing a heavy belt. Both Kathleen and a Mexican assistant were reportedly on the scene but, according to a report on, a misunderstanding due to language difficulties resulted in Barger not being helped to the surface in time to save his life.

Unsubstantiated reports on Mexico cruiser radio nets claim that local authorities removed Kathleen (and possibly a crew member) from the boat, leaving it unattended at anchor on the east side of the island. It apparently dragged but hooked up again at Isla Ceralvo the next day — or perhaps was moved there. We’re told that the boat is now back in its slip at Marina Palmira. We hope to have additional details on this tragic incident soon.

Hawaii Return Options Seminar

As the June 30 start date draws near, the second to last Singlehanded TransPac prep seminar will be tomorrow (Thursday) night at Oakland YC in Alameda with race vets sharing how they got their boats home from Hawaii. Paul Nielsen and Race Chair Rob Tryon will speak about their very different experiences sailing home, while George Lythcott and Bob Johnston will discuss shipping options. Another option for racers to consider is hiring a delivery skipper.

Solo TransPac vet Ronnie Simpson and his return crew Ed McCoy sailed the last 800 miles of their 2010 return trip without a keel. Ronnie doesn’t recommend this to others.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Doors at OYC open at 6:30 p.m. and the talk starts at 7. As usual, the event is free and open to the public — Pacific Cup racers are especially welcome — and will feature a no-host bar.

There may be hope on the horizon for cruisers wanting to take the easy way to the Med through the Gulf of Aden, an area that in recent years has been rife with pirates.
Earlier in the month, we wrote about a German exchange student looking for a sailing host family during his stay in the U.S.