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February 3, 2016

15th Zihua SailFest Revs Up

These young scholars from hillside communities took their first boat ride ever during SailFest.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

One of the most admirable aspects of the Mexico cruising community is that its members often combine fun-filled sailing events with heartfelt philanthropy. The best example of this is the annual Zihuatanejo SailFest, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary next week (February 8-14), as it generates more funds for charity than any other cruiser-funded event in Mexico.

With land tourists and locals aboard, the annual cruiser parade winds through Zihua Bay then around the headland to the resorts of Ixtapa. 

Zihua SailFest
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Z-Fest’s full palette of activities includes a parade of sail and a pursuit race as well as all sorts of shoreside activities including a chili cookoff, a street fair, both live and silent auctions, and musical performances. But as organizers put it, "Although the tone of the event is light-hearted, the cruisers’ goals are serious – to raise funds for the education of Zihuatanejo’s poorest children."

Many of them live in the hillside communities surrounding Zihua; indigenous kids who speak only native dialects, rather than Spanish, and this fact disqualifies them from attending government-funded public schools. Monies generated by Z-Fest fund the construction of schools for these disadvantaged kids, and offer them ongoing support through the nonprofit Por Los Ninos.

We’ve never seen kids who were happier to have the opportunity of an education.

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you’re cruising Mexico’s Pacific coast, we’d highly recommend that you join the fun and help SailFest’s dedicated team of volunteers continue to make dramatic improvements in the lives of these young kids. We hope to bring you a post-Festival report here and/or in the pages of Latitude 38 magazine.

Seminar Season Selections

If it’s February it must be seminar season. Some events of interest to Bay Area sailors include the following.

February 4: Not exactly a seminar, more of a talk — USCG Captain Gregory Stump, Commander of Sector San Francisco, joined by Joseph Phair of the Coast Guard Foundation, will address the crowd at Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon at 7 p.m. It’s free and open to the public, but RSVP if possible to (415) 435-4771.

February 10: This month’s Singlehanded TransPac Seminar will tackle sleep deprivation with British solo sailor Lizzy Foreman and Mike Cunningham, who will share his hallucinatory return from last year’s LongPac. Jim Quanci will discuss getting the boat back from Hawaii. Oakland YC Regatta Room, 7:30 p.m. Everyone welcome; free.

Jim Quanci, seen here preparing to start Saturday’s Three Bridge Fiasco, won the Singlehanded TransPac with his Cal 40, Green Buffalo, in 2012. He’ll talk about the return trip at the next SHTP seminar.


February 10 or 11: Kame Richards’ famous talk about Tide Currents on San Francisco Bay at the Bay Model in Sausalito, 7 p.m. $15, cash only. These talks fill up, so advance reservations are a must. Email Jim or call (707) 759-2045.

February 13: Pacific Cup Medical Seminar, Richmond YC, 1-5 p.m. Kent Benedict, MD, FACEP, marine emergency medicine expert; Mary Lovely, RN, PhD, past PCYC commodore; Denny Emory, EMT, founder of OceanMedix; and Francis O’Connell, MD, director of Maritime Medical Access will be the speakers. $30.

February 17: Racing Rules of Sailing Seminar at Bay View Boat Club, 7-9 p.m. This free presentation includes one hour of viewing Dave Dellenbaugh’s video and one hour of Q & A. Email John Super or call (415) 564-4779. This seminar will be repeated on March 16.

February 20: Kame Richards again, this time presenting Do I Really Need to Reef? The sailmaker will discuss big-wind sail design and safety equipment at Berkeley YC. $15 admission will include a Polynesian dinner. 

The Mini Pogo2 Libra, sailed singlehanded by Grégory Saramite, was deeply reefed when the breeze reached into the high 20s during the Berkeley Midwinters on November 15. Steve Katzman’s Express 27 Dianne, seen in the background, sailed with a full-hoist main and a ‘shy kite’.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

February 27: Berkeley YC again, this time hosting a North U Trim Seminar with instructor Bill Gladstone, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Prices range from $60 for students and juniors up to $139 for adult skippers, including lunch. Call Fran at (203) 245-0727 or see

For many more educational events of interest on the West Coast, see our Calendar in the February issue of Latitude 38.

It Was Just the Belt

Initially it looked fine to our untrained eye. But after talking to Jim Drake, we looked closer and saw the sides of the belt were glazed — and bits of debris from it ended up on the bottom of our Yanmar diesel. 

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

While motoring our 63-ft cat Profligate from San Diego to Santa Barbara for the start of last September’s SoCal Ta-Ta, we noticed some black gooey stuff accumulating at the bottom of the port diesel and on the engine room sole. It felt a little too thick to be oil, but we couldn’t think of what else it could be. So we spent a long time feeling around the bottom of the engine trying to detect the source of the leak. All we got for our efforts were dirty hands.

Naturally we checked the belts, too, but they looked fine and had been given the seal of approval by the mechanic before we’d gone north from Puerto Vallarta, 1,000 miles before.

That night we lay in our bunk thinking we were probably looking forward to lifting the engine out and lord knows what else. What fun. And expense, too.

The next day we had reason to call Jim Drake, who had been the captain of our Ocean 71 Big O during her European adventures, and is now a Yanmar dealer at Drake Marine in South San Francisco.

"It’s the belt," Jim said, immediately knowing what the problem was from our description of the black crud.

And he was right. Just because a belt looks good and has proper tension doesn’t mean it’s not worn out and leaving belt debris all over the engine. So if you find sort of, but not quite, oily stuff around your diesel, check the belt. Look for cracks, fraying, splits and brittle spots. In our case, the sides of the belt looked slick and glazed. Another symptom can be the scent of burning rubber.

Welcome to the big party in San Francisco. latitude/Chris
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC San Francisco was a busy place this weekend.
Our Valentine to you: the February issue of Latitude 38. latitude/Annie
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC Sweet!