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November 22, 2023

La Paz Faces Problem of Looting in Wake of Hurricane Norma

On November 13, three weeks after Hurricane Norma tore through Mexico, sailors in La Paz were horrified to find one of the grounded boats had been set alight by, we’re told, several men in a panga. Mac and Mary Shroyer, founders of Marina de La Paz, wrote us saying, “The owner had been living ashore close by for over two weeks in a tent, and had worked daily digging out around the hull, including the use of a backhoe in preparation of high tide at 8 a.m. the next morning.”

We reached out to Neil Shroyer, manager of Marina de La Paz, who described the case of the burned boat, as told to him by his father Mac. “… the vandals were so upset that they were prevented from looting the vessel, because the owner set up camp on the beach next to it, that they came by in a skiff and set it on fire, by way of some incendiary device. A terrible thing.”

The boat was completely gutted by the fire.
© 2023 Mac & Mary Shroyer

Neil says many of the grounded vessels were abandoned boats, or had no owner in town. Those whose owners were onsite were able to “keep guard and fend off vandals to some degree,” but those not being attended to were looted “of most anything that could be removed” in the weeks following the hurricane.

The boats grounded in front of town have fared a bit better, though many are still there and “nobody seems to be working on getting them off.” He went on to say that there are many boats stranded in the back-bay mudflats that will probably remain where they lie as they can’t be reached by a crane, and the water is too shallow for a suitable-sized vessel to reach them and drag them off the flats. “Forty boats spread over a large area was more than authorities had capability to watch over …” though he questions the level of effort they made to do so.

There would have been nothing the boat owner could do to save their boat.
© 2023 Mac & Mary Shroyer

Mac and Mary added, “Staying on the beach close, with someone always at the camp site was imperative. Other boats in the the same situation along the shore of La Paz were being picked over in broad daylight by groups of men, because the owners were not aboard, having left their boats unattended on moorings or at anchor.”

Hopefully this one can be salvaged.
© 2023 Mac & Mary Shroyer

We asked the Baja Ha-Ha’s assistant Poobah, Patsy Verhoeven, about the situation. She replied, “I have heard from many about the looting and stripping of the boats that are on the beach from Hurricane Norma. The wind blew many boats way up into the bay and far from the more populated area so looting and vandalizing easily go undetected.” She also agrees with the Shroyers’ comments that “no government agency, national or state, provided any form of protection of the private property on the shores of La Paz,” adding that the cleanup is left to the remaining cruisers.

Mac and Mary Shroyer have lived and worked in La Paz for decades and consider it to be friendly and convenient. “A place in which to remain for an extended period of time.” They are are clearly disappointed with the recent events and refer to the cruising community’s support of the town. “They spend a substantial amount locally and cost the community nothing. But come a hurricane and some need emergency help, there is none offered, except for that offered by fellow yachtsmen.”

It’s clear why they would feel this way; it’s sad that a small percentage of people, for whatever reason, chose to take advantage of the grounded boats. And while we recall the Ha-Ha’s Grand Poobah, Richard Spindler, on many occasions advising cruisers to keep an eye on their belongings, we imagine this is an unusual and one-off situation.

West Coast sailors, and others, are always cruising to and around Mexico. The majority of people report nothing but positive experiences. But, like anywhere else in the world, there is room for that element that doesn’t sit quite so well with the general societal niceties that we all mostly live by. There are many reasons that people will exploit others’ misfortunes. Our own experiences, and those of our crew here at Latitude 38, have always been good, and we would encourage everyone to experience the Mexico cruising life, even if only once.

By way of example, Heidi B. Stagg of SV Sohno sent us photos of Baja Ha-Ha cruisers getting together for La Paz Tourism’s annual 2023 Baja Beach Party last Sunday.

Baja Ha-Ha sailors gather to party in La Paz.
© 2023 Heidi B. Stagg
Who’s next to join this couple on the flamenco dance floor?
© 2023 Heidi B. Stagg
Mexico mariachi party
From daylight to dark, the entertainment kept coming.
© 2023 Heidi B. Stagg
This, and the wonderful people, and of course the fantastic cruising, is why we keep coming back to Mexico.
© 2023 Heidi B. Stagg

Good Jibes #117: John Arndt and Ryan Foland on Yacht Clubs

This week’s co-hosts, John Arndt and Ryan Foland, get back to basics with yacht clubs. Hear John and Ryan talk about their own yacht clubs, how yacht clubs keep the sailing community connected, the benefits of joining one (or two!), the stigma surrounding yacht clubs, and the uphill battle of getting more people out on the water.

Good Jibes #117
Could we see a Good Jibes Yacht Club in the future?
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Archives

Could we see a Good Jibes Yacht Club in the future?

This episode covers everything from yacht clubs to setting sail. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • What is the Blue Water Cruising Club?
  • Why should you join a yacht club?
  • What’s the name of Ryan’s Laser?
  • How many yacht clubs is John a member of?
  • Should we change yacht clubs to boat clubs?
  • Are there any virtual yacht clubs?
  • Should we start a Good Jibes Yacht Club?
  • Does Latitude 38 have a yacht club?

Learn more at

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and your other favorite podcast spots — follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re feeling the Good Jibes!

Giving Thanks for Sailing and #opting To Go Outside

Is it that time of year already? The time when we spend a full day doing nothing but relaxing, and hanging out with family and friends? OK, we know someone has to cook the turkey and prepare the stuffing and the gravy and all the trimmings, and of course dessert. But isn’t that why we invite people over? So everyone can pitch in? That’s our plan, because the less we have to do, the more we can choose to do. And we choose to go sailing. Surprised?

We’ve already checked the weather report — it’s a bit like Santa checking the Christmas list: We know there’ll be good and bad, depending on your preferences, but we’re going to share the gifts anyway. And in this case the gift is sailing. Who are you going to share it with?

Looks good!
© 2023

Some people (like this writer) are getting a few last-minute boat jobs done to be able to take advantage of the long weekend, which includes getting the boat’s bottom cleaned today! Hooray! Thanks for the speedy, same-day clean, Dave’s Diving Service. It’s only been … Maybe we’ll just leave that there.

We do recognize that not everyone is thinking only about the four uninterrupted days of sailing. We’ve been bombarded with Black Friday ads for the past month at least. But we just want to mention that if you do feel compelled to go shopping, think about the small businesses that could really benefit from your support. #smallbusinesssaturday — it’s a real thing, and a good way to assuage some of that guilt one may feel about being in a store, rather than on the water.

In the end, it’s all up to you, and us. We will each choose to spend our Thanksgiving weekend in various ways. Whatever you choose, we wish you a safe, happy time with family, friends, pets, yourself, the sun, sky, wind and stars.

Thanksgiving Turkeys
And if you happen to spot our wayward turkeys, please let them know they’re expected for dinner on Thursday.
© 2023 Jay Grant

The World’s Most Expensive Superyacht Mattress

We get a wide variety of press releases at the Latitude 38 offices, though many have nothing to do with sailing and others stand out for other reasons. Aimed at the billionaire yachting class, we think, a PR firm sent a recent press release to Latitude 38 believing it could interest a few of our readers. The subject line was “The World’s Most Expensive Superyacht Mattress,” which got us asking friends, “How much do you think it costs to buy the world’s most expensive yacht mattress?” None were even close. Most couldn’t imagine beyond $20-$50,000. Our limited imagination and impoverished friends were way off the mark.

The world's most expensive superyacht mattress.
The world’s most expensive superyacht mattress as shown in a house somewhere.
© 2023 YachtingPagesPR

Of course, our friends didn’t have the advantage you have of seeing a photo of the mattress, which clearly puts it in another price range altogether. It’s immediately obvious why the release would state, “owners across all continents are eager to get their hands on the world’s most expensive mattress.”

Christophe Cotte, an artisan and master craftsman at CC Design, says the mattress is in massive demand, with many rich and famous celebrity clients already choosing to have one onboard their superyachts. (But what about the guest cabins?) Christophe said, “When yacht enthusiasts have paid over $250 million for a superyacht, it is understandable they would want to get the very best night’s sleep.”

“The Auguste features the finest Pierre Frey materials, to redefine the concept of sleep within the world of mattresses. Infusing luxury and innovation, premium textiles are sourced from Europe and France to craft mattresses that elevate sleep to an art form.

“The masterpiece is diligently sewn, stuffed, and quilted by hand, taking an enormous amount of time and expertise to create a French-style sleep experience. The Auguste mattress is designed to be extremely long-lasting, and components can be renewed through CC Design and other authorised dealers.” (There are dealers popping up all over the place.)

If you’ve finished guessing the price, the release lets us know. “Christophe Cotte, an artisan and master craftsman at CC Design, has revolutionized the luxury mattress industry by creating the new $175,000 (€159,000) mattress. It surpasses leading competitors and requires 39 skilled artisans, including master upholsterers with decades of experience, to follow 100 steps over 300 hours.” It comes with a 25-year guarantee.

In case owners are still feeling short on self-indulgence, CC Design also produces what they believe to be the world’s most expensive and luxurious duvet. The cost is $62,535.

They explain on their website. “Sleep is the most valued commodity there is, and you can’t buy it,” notes Sara Ivanhoe, M.A., the director of yoga programs at the University of Southern California, where she teaches a course on sleep. “If it evades you, it is impossible to enjoy almost anything.”

They continue, “Superyachts like the 162-metre (531-ft) M/Y Eclipse are rumoured to have cost around €1.591 billion (c. $1.732 billion). The billionaire owners of yachts like this think nothing of spending €37,698 (c.$40,000) on a bottle of whisky or €376,980 (c.$400,000) on diesel, so buying a duvet of this value represents great value.”

We thought we should rush to publish this so you have time to order your mattress before Christmas, as there’s already massive demand.

Webb Chiles
The stories we prefer to tell come from our readers with real adventures, or sailors like Webb Chiles; all inspire our adventures.
© 2023 YachtingPages PR

For those still in touch with reality, we will continue to cover real sailors with interesting sailing lives and adventures. Folks like Randall Reeves and Harmon Shragge, who recently sailed from San Francisco to Alaska. Or new sailors Sean Geiger and Matthew Mahoney, who appeared in our November Changes, aboard their Hunter 40.5 Zepplin, sailing across the Pacific. Or Jeanne Socrates, who recently finished sailing singlehanded across the Pacific to New Zealand at age 80 aboard her Najad 380 Nereida. The 100+ boats that just sailed the Baja Ha-Ha from San Diego to Cabo will have their story in the upcoming December issue of Latitude 38, while we recently covered 86-year old Peter Hartman, who sailed singlehanded aboard his home-built DeRidder 52 sloop Ahaluna from the Marshall Islands to Puerto Vallarta.

For those with $175,000 or less to spend, we suggest buying a sailboat from one of the many great brokers or in the classifieds in the pages of Latitude 38.

Great Pumpkin Regatta Nautical Trivia Quiz Solved

Among the fun distractions/competitions during Richmond Yacht Club’s Great Pumpkin Regatta is the trivia quiz. Before Sunday’s pursuit race, you pick up a tri-folded sheet of copier paper and take it aboard with you while you race (or, like this year, attempt to race). Online research is cheating! When you return to the club after a day of sailing (or drifting followed by motoring), you turn in your quiz and await the quizmaster to correct your homework. This year, no one finished the pursuit race due to currents so much more powerful than the wimpy breeze. One of the last boats still trying to round Alcatraz was Arcadia, sailed by our intrepid quizmaster, Gordie Nash. So we didn’t learn the answers and the winner until later. Then a misplaced computer delayed our sharing the quiz here.

Start of the Great Pumpkin
A functional westerly at the on-time start of the Great Pumpkin pursuit race on Sunday, October 29, didn’t hold.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Spoiler alert! The answers will be at the end of this post. Before you scroll down there, try to see if you can best the winning team’s score.

From Quizmaster Gordie Nash (unedited):

We hope you are challenged, entertained, and educated by our short “story” question style trivia questions. It has been 50 years since Roe v. Wade, the US pulled out of Viet Nam, the discovery of the Great Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch and the passing of Buddy Melges. [Buddy, aka Harry C. Melges Jr., died in 2023; his father, Harry C. Melges Sr., died in 1985. So we’re not sure what Gordie meant to say here.] Many of the answers can be found on the internet but we recommend you start a discussion with your crew about the information.

Q1. This Yacht Club has never moved from its original late 1800’s location. It does not own any flat land and the Island it is associated with is named after it. The first club newsletter was named the “Coconut Wireless”. It was rumored to have burnt down to justify a new club house to be built on the original site. This club was formed because of the need for a club for boat owners under 35 feet. It is credited with forming the SYRA. It is one of the premier clubs of San Francisco Bay.

A1. Richmond
San Francisco

Q2. One French sailor has “done it all”. He began with the 6.5 Mini Trans Atlantic races, moved up to finish two BOC single handed around the world races, raced in Route de Rum, Jack Vabrey, Vendee Globe and the modern Golden Globe, finishing on the podium in all but one and winning more than one. He has finished them all. A humble friendly sailor who simply always sailed well. He has earned the respect of his fellow sailors without being in the lime-light. Who is he?

A2. Robin Knox Johnson
Jean loc vanden Heade
Michael Desjoyeaux
Francois Gabart

Q3. The Newport Sailing Museum has lots of sailing memorabilia, holds classes, gives seminars, runs races, gives out awards and has famous boats on display. One of the boats was built by Paul Cayard and his father. Paul won the 1975 National Championships in this class. What class is it?

A3. Snipe
El Toro
Blue Jay

Q4. It is a National honor, quite difficult to qualify for and participate in the sailing Olympic Games. Only held every four years this event is commonly a ‘once-in-a-life-time-event”. There have been sailors who have participated in more than one Olympics. But family members are even more rare. But one family had a father and offspring win two Gold medals in two different classes in the same year! What family members were these? Father driving, youngster crewing.

A4. Paul Elvestrom and daughter Tina
Buddy Melges and son Harry
Bill Buchan and son Carl
Torbin Grael and daughter Martine

Q5. In 1740 the British Admiralty sent 6 ships and 1800 men to capture the treasure laden Spanish Galleon “Nuesta de Senora Covadonga” operating in the Pacific. Two returned to England early, one sank rounding Cap Horn, one small schooner grounded in Patagonia. “Centurion” went on to capture the treasure but the last ship crashed on an Island in Chile that now has this ships’ name. Of the 250 men shipwrecked, most died, some murdered, only 32 made it back to England to face mutiny charges. This true story is this years #1 best selling book written by David Grann. What is the name of this ship?

A5. White Cloud
The Endurance

Q6. Jack London wanted to join this yacht club after he moved to his new home in 1910. He sent his club application and letter to the private home of the then secretary. This person was also a lawyer and kept it in his personal file. His heirs found the Jack London correspondence and sold it on Ebay. A small group of club members paid the price and it now is on display in the clubs’ bar. What club did Jack London join?

A6. Aeolian

Q7. The “Cape Horner” square rigged sailing ship transported this major British export around the world and especially to Chile and other South America ports. The ships left Liverpool loaded and returned with goods from the Americas. It is said that the working life span of these ships was about 10 years. What was one of England’s primary exports during the “Age of Sail?”

A7. wool
guns and ammunition

Q8. When deciding which “way to go” for the SSS “Three Bridge Fiasco”, sailors do not think about which counties of San Francisco Bay Area the course is in. If a boats’ course were sailed close to the rum line between and around the three marks, Blackaller/Yerba Buena/Red Rock, how many counties will the boats’ actually sail in?

A8. San Francisco, Marin
San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa
San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda
San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda, Napa

Q9. Square rigged ship terms are still with us today. This Airline Company started the tradition of using ship terms. We go to an air”Port”, enter the “Cabin”, with a crew of “Captain”, “Navigator” and ”Steward”. This company also named their planes after famous sailing ships. One was used in “Raiders of the Lost Arc” and its Pacific headquarters was San Francisco Bay. What Airline?

A9. American Airlines “American Eagle”
TWA, “Flying Cloud”
British Airways “White Star”
Pan Am “Clippers”

Q10. Your morning coffee may be part of French Trans Atlantic Sailing Race history. This local company is now owned by the company who started the Jaques Vabre Trans Atlantic Race. Retracing historic coffee routes, first held in 1993 it starts in La Havre, today, October 29 and ends in the West Indies. Through acquisitions and mergers JDE France, listed on the Netherlands stock exchange owns what local coffee company?

A10. Starbucks
High Wire

Q11. During the ‘Golden Age of Pirates’ in the early 1700’s you needed this to become a real Buccaneer a ‘Pirate’. After England won the war with Spain the British crown released all the pirates. Admiralty suspension of this forced all the Caribbean pirates to become independents. What gave sailors permission to be come official British pirates before 1714? “The Act of Grace” 1717 again changed pirating.

A11. Letter of Marque
British provided and built ship
Private dock in Nassau, Bahamas
British provided warehouse in Kingston, Jamaica

Q12. World famous Buddy Melges lived 93 years sailing. He skippered and won an Americas’ Cup campaign, has 2 Olympic medals, 3 5.5 Meter worlds, 3Mallory wins, 3 Yachtsman of the Year Awards, 5 E Scow national wins, 7 Ice boat wins and a boat building company. His favorite sailing venue was Lake Geneva near his home in Zenda. He proudly invited many good sailors to race scows with him on his lake. When anyone questioned that lake sailing had variable winds from many different directions Buddy would tell them that you can always tell where the wind was shifting too because the “cows always stand with their tails into the wind”. Why did Buddy tell his competitors this? He wanted everyone to:

A12. admire his family farms’ cows
looking for cows instead of wind shifts
it was a joke because there are no cows in Wisconsin
look and see the beautiful lake because he sold real estate

How Did You Do on the Quiz?

Gordie told us that the scores ranged from three correct to three wrong. No one got a perfect score. The boat with only three wrong, winning the quiz, was Grant Kiba’s Take Five More, an RYC-based Olson 911 with five savvy sailors aboard. How did you do? Scroll down to the next section for the answers.

Droopy spinnaker
Take Five More’s spinnaker did fill some of the time during the attempted circumnavigation of Angel Island and Alcatraz, but the trivia quiz was more successful.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

For a report on the actual racing in the Great Pumpkin Regatta, see Racing Sheet in the December issue of Latitude 38, coming out on Friday, December 1. For some fun photos of Halloween costumes, see November 1’s ‘Lectronic Latitude.

And the Answers Are…

  1. Corinthian
  2. Jean-Luc Van Den Heede
  3. El Toro
  4. Bill Buchan and son Carl
  5. Wager
  6. Vallejo
  7. Coal
  8. San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa
  9. Pan Am Clippers
  10. Peet’s
  11. Letter of Marque
  12. Looking for cows instead of wind shifts
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