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January 25, 2013

Sunrises, Missing Dinks and Snakes

Sunrise may come early, but it’s the best time of day to snap shots like this.

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

There have been killer sunrises all week along the Riviera Nayarit. The one above, taken two days ago at Punta Mita, features one of the then-20 anchored boats, and the remnants of a fine right-hander wave. Thanks to several spots in the Punta Mita area that feature mostly long but mellow waves — the Mexican Malibu, Stinkys, etc — it has become a SUP mecca. Even the great Gerry Lopez comes down a couple of times a year to give SUP/yoga seminars. Based on Gerry’s stellar reputation, he probably has his students doing yoga while SUP-ing. Anyway, it continues to be a warm winter in this part of Mexico, with the air temps in the mid-80s and the ocean in the high 70s. If you think it’s fabulous, it sure as tooting is.

But there was a bummer the other night at the crowded La Cruz anchorage of Banderas Bay, as a dinghy and outboard were stolen from Flying Dragon, a junk (the type of boat, not its condition). The dink’s painter had clearly been cut. It’s our understanding that the inflatable was later found drifting in the middle of the bay, minus the outboard, and towed back to port. It’s unclear if the outboard had been nicked by locals or by a cruiser. As disturbing as the latter might sound, cruisers stealing dinghies or outboards isn’t as rare as it should be.

Mike Danielson of PV Sailing also told us that the big J/160 Blue had her dinghy stolen while anchored at Punta Mita in October. The fact was brought to the attention of local fishermen, and two days later it was returned. Apparently it had been stolen by a fisherman from Cabo Corrientes 25 miles across the bay. But the Punta Mita fishermen, not wanting a bad reputation for their area, applied pressure, and it was returned. It goes to prove once again, that dinghies and outboards aren’t stolen without other members of the local community knowing about it.

As previously stated, Latitude recommends chaining your dinghy/outboard to your boat — no matter if the dinghy/outboard is kept in the water or hauled out of the water — with reasonably thick stainless steel chain. It’s not only hard to cut the chain, but the stuff is noisy as all get out. You wouldn’t leave your car unlocked in the States, would you? So ‘lock’ your dinghy.

It’s confirmed: This snake is definitely . . . a snake.

© 2013 Keith Albrecht

On Wednesday, we ran this photo of the snake that bit Keith Albrecht of the Alamitos Bay-based Columbia 36 Ojo Rojo. We got lots of response from asking readers to identify the snake. The unanimous opinion is that it was either a false water cobra, a rat snake, a grey rat snake, a little boa, an articulated boa, a gopher snake, an articulated gopher snake, a spotted leaf-nose, a Mexican hooknose, a copperhead, a diamondback water snake (which lives on fish and amphibians), a juvenile coachwhip, or a lyre snake. Indeed, Jason Hood, President of the Chicago Herpetological Society in subzero Chicago says the snake "appears to be either a Trimorphodon or a Leptodeira, more than likely a Trimorphodon from what can be seen in the photo. Both are harmless snakes that are lizard and frog eaters."

Robert Schaper’s brother, who is a vet and snake hunter, also identifies it as a Trimorphodon biscutatus lyrophanes, which we believe is casually referred to as a lyre snake. "I saw a lyre snake that was caught in a dock box in Puerto Vallarta last year," writes  Mike McCue of Sweet Reality in Nuevo Vallarta, "I don’t believe the bite is fatal in adults, but they do give a nasty surprise. They come on board chasing geckos."

For the record, Keith is indeed still alive and happily cruising with his wife Terry.

Proposed Security Zone in the Estuary

Many Estuary sailors are up in arms about a proposal to expand the security zone on the south side of Coast Guard Island. As it was explained to Alameda Marina Harbormaster Brock de Lappe in a meeting with the project’s lead engineers on Wednesday, the new security zone would encroach on the main 500-ft channel by 200 feet! Understandably, de Lappe took the information given to him and broadcast a call to arms for the public to voice their opinion on the project, which would not only disrupt Estuary racing and rowing activities, but could also cause safety issues within the channel. 

The originally proposed expansion would have cut into the channel by an unreasonable 200 feet.

© USCG / Google Earth

"The Coast Guard cutters and the tugs that move them have increased silting on the southern side of the channel," de Lappe says. "During a recent minus tide, a Catalina 38 with a 7-ft draft became stuck in the channel!"

The updated proposal will only shave off 75 feet from the channel, a much more workable solution.

© USCG / Google Earth

But a call to de Lappe this morning brought some good news. The engineers contacted him yesterday apologizing for providing him with the wrong information. The proposed security zone will only cut the main channel down by 75 feet, not 200. Of course this doesn’t address the problem of silting, but de Lappe is in contact with the Army Corps about future dredging plans.

Regardless, if you’re concerned about the expansion, you can still email your comments to Linda Peters and Roy Clark, the project’s engineers.

De Lappe had even more good news to share. As a member of the Oakland Estuary Coalition, he says he got word today that the group has been granted $1.3 million to implement the Estuary Enhancement Project. The project will focus on cleaning up derelict docks, abandoned boats and generally sprucing up the Estuary. Now that’s a great way to end what started out as a scary story.

To Ha-Ha or Jump the Puddle?

If you’re planning to attend the first weekend of the Seattle Boat Show, which starts today and runs through February 3 at CenturyLink Field and South Lake Union, be sure you don’t miss the seminars by our very own ‘Banjo Andy’ Turpin tomorrow and Sunday.

‘Banjo Andy’ Turpin shares his expertise on sailing in the Baja Ha-Ha and Pacific Puddle Jump this weekend at the Seattle Boat Show.

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Tomorrow (Saturday), the Baja Ha-Ha Assistant Poobah will give back-to-back talks on ‘Doing the Baja Ha-Ha Rally’ at 4 p.m. and ‘Cruising Tahiti & the Pacific Puddle Jump’ at 5 p.m. The seminars repeat on Sunday at 3 & 4 p.m. respectively. All of his talks will be on the Red Stage. Of course there are many more seminars — 200 in all! — to round out your boat show experience, so check out for the full schedule.

First Vendée Finishers to Arrive Tomorrow

Barring any major breakages or accidents, the first two Vendée Globe racers are slated to cross the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, sometime tomorrow. The race’s ‘golden boy’, François Gabart (MACIF), is on track to not only cross the line first, but to also break the world record by solo circumnavigating — his first time, by the way — in just 78 days. He’s averaged (averaged!) 15.2 knots since the start of the race. Astounding!

Armel le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire), who had been favored to win at the start, is more than 100 miles behind Gabart and, considering the weather forecast, has little hope of catching up. Here we have to quote today’s press release: "[His] main objective at the start was to do better than second but the world will agree that he has delivered a stellar, legendary performance on the track, and he is without doubt a world-class sailor. But it’s not over until it’s over and it’s not over yet."

Up-to-the-minute news reports will be posted at

Back at the Azores, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) has yet to retire from the race after having lost his keel on Monday. He’s sailing well with water ballast and reduced sail, but conditions will be deteriorating soon. Consequently, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) has changed course to remain close to Dick in case he has trouble. "He has not asked me to assist in any way," says Thomson, "but I really feel that I cannot sail off and leave him until I know that he is confident and has confirmed what his intentions are." Undoubtedly Thomson’s memories of being rescued by Mike Golding in the Southern Ocean during the 2006 edition of the Velux 5 Oceans are still fresh in his mind. While his diversion will not be likely to affect his shot at third place, it may put him behind his goal to be the first Brit to solo circumnavigate in under 80 days. 

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