October 6, 2014

Oddball Ocean Rescues

Talk about an unlikely life raft. Who would have thought this plastic container could deliver a wayward sailor to safety. 

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One reason mariners should always keep a sharp lookout is that they never know what might cross their track — an oncoming vessel, dangerous debris, or a fisherman riding in a green plastic crate. The latter is exactly what the crew of the sailboat U-Fin encountered late last month, six miles off the central coast of Mexico.

According to online reports, fisherman Raymundo Rodrigues Loyola, 45, survived for five nights in the pale green crate, which is normally used to hold fish. It is unclear if he had abandoned ship or been thrown from it while his Manzanillo-based fishing vessel battled the effects of Hurricane Polo. His partner, Mario Morales Mayo, 60, did not survive. 

Sometimes watchkeepers get so fatigued that they don’t trust their own eyes when something bizarre appears on the horizon. Imagine coming across a ‘hydro pod’ while sailing offshore.

US Coast Guard
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Rodrigues Noyola had second-degree burns from the scorching sun and was suffering from severe dehydration when rescued, but was otherwise unharmed. 

Meanwhile, an even more bizarre rescue took place off the Florida coast last week — and we’re pretty sure this one was a first. According to various news sources, Iranian exile Reza Baluchi was rescued by US Coast Guard resources Saturday after he activated his emergency beacon. His craft? A ‘hydro pod’ made of 3-millimeter-thick plastic. 

The Florida Coasties probably weren’t surprised to get the call, as one of their flight crews had flown out to check on Baluchi four days earlier when he and his bubble were 70 miles east of St. Augustine. At that time he was reportedly "disoriented," but he refused the Guardsmen’s offer of a ride. His stated destination was Bermuda, more than 1,000 miles from the Florida coast.

Disoriented? No wonder. According to Baluchi’s website, the bubble was designed to be propelled forward by its occupant running inside it and pushing with his arms — much like a hamster wheel for humans. The goal was to pilot the orb first to Bermuda, then on around the so-called Bermuda Triangle. A wee bit far-fetched perhaps, but Baluchi is a world-class runner who’s completed several other ambitious feats since migrating to the US in 2003.

Beyond The World Series

There is more green on the baseball field in Turtle Bay than in the rest of Baja — minus the Cabo golf courses — combined.

© 2014

Don’t think baseball season will end in late October with the San Francisco Giants winning their third World Series in five years. No, not with the Baja Ha-Ha’s Intergalactic ‘No Star’ game at Turtle Bay on Saturday, October 31.

The ‘No Star Game’ is one of the most fun events in the Ha-Ha, thanks to special rules. Because of underhand pitches at least every 15 seconds, it’s not boring like regular baseball. Everybody gets to bat dozens of times. And if you can’t hit a lick, no worries; the pitcher will hit your bat for you with his pitches. Nobody strikes out. Usually there are 20 to 30 people on the field. Because of the overlap, beer drinking is not only allowed during the game, but in the game, too.

The Baja Ha-Ha No-Star Game, the way baseball is meant to be played. 

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As was reported earlier this year, tiny Turtle Bay has dramatically upgraded from a dusty field to one covered with brilliant green AstroTurf. Thanks to the remnants of hurricane Simone that are about to drench the field, the turf should be more fresh-looking than ever. All the baseball-mad kids of Turtle Bay need is more equipment. If your season is over and you’ve got leftover gloves, bats, hats, helmets or whatever, we would love to be able to pass them out. Email us here.

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Amsterdam Not So Open-Minded After All

 You can pay to rent privately-owned boats in colorful Amsterdam, but not through ‘boat Airbnb’ hopefuls such as GoBoat.

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It’s a common misconception that anything goes in Amsterdam. Pot smoking in ‘coffee bars’ and prostitutes openly and legally engaged in soliciting business from windows illuminated in red lights are two examples.

But when it comes to the ‘Airbnb’ style renting of boats, it’s no, no, no! GoBoat and Barqo are two boat ‘Airbnb’ startups with listings in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. They charge boat owners 15% for any business they generate. But Waternet, the waterfront authority in Amsterdam, has told both companies that they must cease operations because they are violating the law.

 If you want to go sailing in the Netherlands using traditional boat rental companies, there are plenty of opportunities, and on boats of every description.

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Daniëlle van Gerven, a spokesperson for Waternet, says that while it’s against the law for businesses to connect customers with boat owners, they don’t mind if it’s done on an informal basis. "We can’t check if you give your neighbor some money to use his boat for a day," she said, "but these companies are offering a centralized rental system, and we can and will enforce the law against them."

Amsterdam doesn’t have any use for Uber either, and is fining drivers using that system.

They Dutch are boat crazy. Several can be seen here entering the gates at Hoorn.

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Surrounded by water and with many people living below sea level, the Dutch are crazy about boats and the water.