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September 3, 2014

What’s Your Favorite RBBS Memory?

Next week San Francisco Bay’s most prestigious annual regatta — the Rolex Big Boat Series — will celebrate its 50-year anniversary. With 103 boats currently registered to compete, the Cityfront will be abuzz with excitement during this ‘Golden Jubilee’ edition, slated for September 11-14.

As we think back over the nearly four decades that Latitude has been covering this grand event, we are reminded of many hair-raising moments, spectacular knockdowns, and heroic finishes.

If you’re a regular RBBS competitor you undoubtedly have some vivid memories of your own. We’d love to hear about them via email for possible inclusion in an RBBS 50-year retrospective in our October edition. So please take a few minutes to write us about special RBBS moments that are seared into your memory banks, such as beating an arch-rival by a nose, surviving a collision or near-fatal broach, or coming from behind to score an upset victory. In the meantime, we’ll be perusing our dusty photo files for standout images from years gone by. 

Might Want to Check the Engine Oil

 "I can’t put my finger on it, but something doesn’t look quite right."

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

There is never a good time to hear the engine alarm go off. But this time was worse than most. It was about 3:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon off San Diego’s Ocean Beach, as the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca were charging north toward Santa Barbara aboard our cat Profligate to get ready to host Sunday’s start of the 45-boat SoCal Ta-Ta.

Mental states are important when responding to emergency situations, and neither of our brains was ready for trouble. We’d both been on a mad-dash nautical-research mission to London, Amsterdam and Paris, and less than 24 hours before had gotten off the flight from Paris to San Diego. Jet-lagged, exhausted, and in a deep sleep, the Wanderer wasn’t happy to hear that engine alarm go off.

He was less happy when he lifted the hatch off the port engine compartment to find there was oil sprayed everywhere, but particularly off to the starboard side of the engine. Hot, black, dripping oil. "This doesn’t look normal," he thought to himself.

De Mallorca shut the engine down while the Wanderer mentally ran through the worst-case scenarios: 1) Not being able to lead the Ta-Ta. 2) Not being able to lead late October’s Ha-Ha. 3) Spending stacks of hundred dollar bills.

It was all but impossible to stand on the oil-covered sole of the engine room, making it very challenging to lean around the engine searching for the source of the spewing oil. Figuring we had nothing to lose, the Wanderer asked de Mallorca to fire the engine up. She did. Wonder of wonders, it ran sweetly, as if quarts of oil hadn’t spewed out. We quickly shut the engine down again, but it was a good sign. A very good sign.

Returning to San Diego wasn’t an option, as Profligate had to get to Santa Barbara for the Ta-Ta. Fortunately, Profligate has two engines. As we write this, it’s 9:20 a.m., we’ve both gotten a few hours of decent sleep, and are now less than an hour from Channel Islands Harbor, where we’ll go into diagnosis mode. As best we can figure, there could only be two sources of the fountain of oil — the oil filter or its gasket, or the oil-pressure sensor fitting. But before anything can be done, there is hours of nasty clean up that has to be done.

But it’s times like this when de Mallorca demonstrates what a great crew she is, and how there is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’.

 At least the San Diego-to-Channel Islands weather was benign. It was even warm off Avalon at 1 a.m.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"As soon as we get to Channel Islands," she said enthusiastically, "I’ll put on an old bikini, and you can hold me upside down by the ankles, allowing me to clean up all the oil, especially in all the hard-to-get-to nooks and crannies on the engine itself."

"What a wonderful offer," the Wanderer responded, "but I couldn’t ask you to do that."

"No, I really want to," de Mallorca responded. "It means we can get all the oil cleaned up without having to step in it. And if we run out of paper towels, I can clean up the last of it with my hair."

That conversation really did take place, but only in a deranged dream the Wanderer had while motoring past Avalon.

Wish us luck. And if you’re in the Ta-Ta, we’ll see you in Santa Barbara on Sunday.

 "Maybe I should have stayed in Paris a few days longer," said de Mallorca, after looking at the oil mess in the engine room.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Understanding Mexican Import Rules

As regular readers know, various agencies of the Mexican government have been taking steps lately to streamline immigration and boat-import procedures. In some cases it’s been two steps forward, one step back — especially in terms of government website glitches. But the general trend is very positive. 

The latest example of this is that the SAT agency (sort of a Mexican IRS) has just taken a proactive step to keep visiting boaters out of trouble by establishing a grace period to get their "sport boats," which we take to mean dinghies, in compliance with the law. The issue is that when you apply online for a Temporary Import Permit (TIP), unless you enter info in a specific way, you may end up with a 10-year permit for your mothership, but only 180 days for your dinghy. To address this situation, SAT has posted signs in at least one popular marina stating:

"Do you need to update the Temporary Import Permit data of your boat? Do it before December 31. If you have a ‘sport boat’, you can ask for the substitution of your Temporary Import Permit to modify the boat or importer data.

"1) Go to the Banjercito module and present your Temporary Import Permit and the hologram.

"2) Submit the documentation that certifies the boat or owner data and the data of the person who did the import.

"3) Submit the accurate documentation to prove the ownership of the previous Temporary Import boat.

"4) Pay the equivalent in national (Mexican) currency of $51 USD plus VAT in respect of proceedings. 

"The new temporary import permit will be emitted by the time left on the previous permit."

Sound complicated? Yeah, a little. That’s another reason that the we are imploring all Baja Ha-Ha boat owners to hold off on applying for either TIPs or visas online until they receive specific instructions from the Rally Committee. That will happen in the next couple of weeks.