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July 28, 2014

Is This a Great Country or What?

“Keep your hands off!” When a guard with an AK-15 tells you that, you don’t touch the boat. Note the advanced right-arm-under-the-stock technique.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

While riding our bike in San Diego yesterday, we came through a boatyard and saw something we’d never seen in 40 years of going through boatyards around the world. There was a big motor yacht that was going to be launched the following day. In front of the powerboat were six black cars — a Cadillac Escalade, a Ferrari, a Bentley, a Rolls, a Mercedes, and a Land Rover. In front of the boat and in front of the cars were three women in white lingerie that contrasted starkly with the black automobiles. We could tell they were guards because they took turns holding an AK-15. We’re not sure if it was real, but they were instructed to be careful never to point it at anyone.

The incident may have been another example of women breaking through the glass ceiling in yet another field, as it’s the first time we’ve seen women guards for a boat.

We asked a young man nearby if all six cars were his. "Only the black ones," he laughed. He further told us, "I’ve gone from nada to Prada, and am proud of it. I’ve worked very hard to be successful, and always tried to do the right thing, like pay all the taxes I owe." He told us he never could have done it except in America, the land of opportunity.

A smart employer hires based on skills, not the color of one’s hair.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Nada to Prada" is a pretty good line, and based on anecdotal evidence, maybe it really is more possible in America than other places. About a month ago we met a guy in a swimming pool at Mita, Mexico. He is an Armenian Christian who as a teenager had to flee Iran with his parents following the collapse of the Peacock Throne. He said he was shocked at the poor quality of education he found in America. "I constantly had to correct my physics teacher in high school," he said.

His daughter is an engineering major at Santa Clara University, and has been courted by the likes of Boeing since she was a junior in high school. But she’s more interested in trying to develop clean energy from thermal sources in Iceland than she is in airplanes. "It’s very good to be a female in the science field," her father told us.

There was some heavy rain in San Diego yesterday, but it didn’t stop this dedicated guard from standing at her post.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Anyway, 25 years ago this genial fellow started making clothes in his house. He says that while it took an untold amount of very hard work, he now makes all the jeans for Levi’s, most of the clothes for Costco, and all of the stuff for Quicksilver and Volcom, and for a bunch of other companies. "Only in America," were his exact words.

He was spending a week in a penthouse at Mita after making the highest bid for the week at an auction for Challenge America, an organization that works to help mostly mentally challenged people find jobs. The man employs about 100 of them. "They are a little slow, but they can do jobs like packing clothes in boxes."

The guy who owns the penthouse is another ‘Only in America’ story. Of Japanese ethnicity, his mother and father had spent World War II in an internment camp here in the States. He later became one of the top salesmen for one of the big insurance companies. It’s complicated, but he developed some software to help the company’s salesmen. When the big company didn’t want to pay for it, he decided to market it to the industry. Shades of Larry Ellison and Oracle. Anyway, he made a lot of money, and has since made a lot more money investing in real estate.

What does this all have to do with women in lingerie holding AK-15s in a San Diego boatyard? We’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Fear a Chubasco Almost as Much as a Hurricane

"Morning chubascos are a little unusual here, but not unheard of," write Jake and Sharon Howard from aboard the Hunter Legend 45 Jake in the Sea of Cortez. A chubasco is a violent storm, usually of less than three hour’s duration, which is often accompanied by lots of lightning and rain.

"When we got up on the morning of July 25, we checked the Internet for the infrared satellite picture of the Sea of Cortez, and noticed this very large chubasco coming up from the south. Word was put out on the morning nets, but not everyone got it. We had winds of 35 to 38 knots, with gusts to 42 knots, here in sheltered Puerto Escondido. But boats a few miles to the south at Candeleros Bay had 50-knot gusts. One of the sailboats anchored there dragged onto the rocks and is still there. Another boat was sailing along the south side of Isla Coronado when the chubasco hit. She was driven onto the beach on the south side of the island. Another sailboat dragged anchor onto the beach at San Evaristo, about 25 miles north of La Paz. We don’t have the names of these boats. 

"Three boat owners in our immediate area had the unpleasant experience of having their dinghies, with outboards attached, flip over. We came through it OK, with the only damage being our parted flag halyard. We were able to replace it this morning with a new one, so we can now again proudly display our Mexican courtesy flag.

"Since we are talking about weather, I can also advise that we are on the ‘G’ storm (Genevieve) right now. It is closer to Hawaii than it is to us, so it is a non-issue. We have another potential storm that will probably become Tropical Storm Herman tomorrow. It should also stay 300-400 miles south and southwest of the tip of Baja and not be a problem for us. We are almost to the ‘meat’ of the hurricane season (mid-August to mid-October), so the serious hurricane watching is about to begin. Beware of the ‘J’ storm."

The Seattle couple is spending something like their sixth consecutive summer in the Sea.

A Win-Win Maritime Event

It’s been said that creating win-win situations between customers and clients should be the goal of any responsible business. That’s the way we see Thursday’s Cruising for a Cause event at the brand-new West Marine flagship store in Marin City (just north of Sausalito).

Attendees will have a good time perusing the massive new facility — which is exponentially larger than its predecessor in Sausalito — and sharing in the celebration, the company will make contact with boatloads of potential customers, and ten highly regarded local nonprofits will benefit financially. So you might say it will actually be a win-win-win.

Kayaks have become hugely popular in the Bay and Delta region, and they are now a favorite yacht toy for world cruisers. Don’t miss your chance to bid on several brand new kayaks during the auction at Thursday’s big event.

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All ten organizations have a specific marine focus. They are:

Some of the Latitude staff will be on hand to support this very worthwhile event, and we hope you’ll join us.

The nonprofits will benefit in several ways: 1) They get to keep 100% of the revenue from each $10 ticket they sell (which includes food and drink); 2) those who place the top bid for valuable live-auction items such as a stand-up paddle board, kayaks, and sailing lessons can designate which nonprofit gets their payment, and 3) sales of raffle tickets will be split among all 10 organizations. 

West Marine has thrown similar Cruising for a Cause celebrations at other Flagship store openings, and they’ve all been win-win successes, so mark your calendar and join us: 6-8 p.m. this Thursday. 

What’s a Flagship store? That’s West Marine lingo for a megastore, as opposed to a wimpy storefront. Flagship stores are enormous, and are stocked with almost everything listed in the famous West Marine catalog. That means greater depth of stock of typical do-it-yourselfer items like marine hardware and cordage, as well as expansive electronic, fishing and apparel sections. 

We’re not in the habit of doing business profiles, but we think this massive new facility will be a boon to the thousands of boaters who keep their boats in the North Bay and The City. So we’ll see you there. Don’t forget to bring your ‘to do’ list.

Following Team Australia’s recent withdrawal from the 35th America’s Cup as the Challenger of Record, it was announced today that four remaining challengers have pledged their support to the event, regardless of which venue is chosen.