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Beeman’s Homeward Bash

Is this man a threat to society? Nah, but he does occasionally like to dress up like a pirate.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Veterans of the 2011Baja Ha-Ha rally might recall that Steve Arnold is a pretty colorful character. Not only due to his profession as a honeybee specialist — hence the nickname Beeman — but because his boat, the 55-ft, steel-hulled sloop Go For Broke, has a unique history. 

She was built by Japanese American Mineo Inuzuka, who sailed her around the world mostly singlehanded, after building her himself in Hawaii. The boat takes its name from the motto of Inuzuka’s WWII unit, which was composed entirely of volunteers from Japanese American internment camps.

If you recall our past reports on Beeman, now 47, you know that he is not a man who gives up easily. Not long after buying this boat in Hawaii in 2010 and making initial repairs, he had to abort two attempts at crossing from Hawaii to California. The second time resulted in his having to buy a new 150-hp Detroit diesel engine! On his recent ‘bash’ back from three seasons in Mexico he lost the use of his engine the first week out. "That didn’t stop me," says Steve, "because I wanted to prove that my vessel was, in fact, a sailboat, by sailing the Baja Bash anyway. But when the auxiliary outboard was swamped during one of many gales, I had to change plans a little bit. There was no way that I could safely enter and exit San Diego Harbor in my 40-ton steel boat with sail power alone, so I decided to check into the country at Port San Luis, a legal port of call still found in some references.

Willing watchstander? “I felt a bit like Dr. Dolittle with all of the animals that took refuge on board during our passage,” says Beeman.

© 2014 Steve Arnold

"The local phone number was out of service, so I called San Francisco.  Eventually, they called back to say that it was fine for me to proceed to the anchorage, and that they were not going to have to come up and search the boat, and even that the Canadian citizen who I had taken on as crew in Puerto Vallarta was free to leave the boat. Less than one hour after we anchored, we were boarded by a team from the local sheriff’s office that was headed by a Department of Homeland Security agent, and included a dog. They treated me as though they were sure I was a criminal, and they assured me that my boat ‘fits the profile,’ as they proceeded to rip into all parts of the cabin space.

"It wasn’t until the ‘I’ve-never-been-on-a-boat-before’ sheriff began suggesting that not going into San Diego was ‘my choice,’ and asked, ‘Why didn’t you call the US Coast Guard?’ that I started to get irritated. It is my understanding that calling the Coast Guard is literally a death sentence for your vessel, because they are more likely to scuttle it than tow it. . . Besides, if I were a smuggler, would I have called them four hours before arriving to tell them that I am here?"

We’re happy to report that after about 45 minutes of questioning and searching, the officers were satisfied, thanked Arnold for his cooperation, and left. He is now contemplating repowering Go For Broke with electric engines. If you have expertise in that area — especially regarding such a heavy vessel, Steve would love to hear from you

“I never caught any fish on the entire Bash even though I had lines in the water the whole time,” says Beeman. “However, four delicious flying fish voluntarily jumped aboard so we wouldn’t be skunked.”

Go For Broke
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

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On May 2, Hurst Lehmann, 59, of Germany, having sailed his 47-ft boat across the Pacific from Mexico, sought a berth at Honokohau Small Boat Harbor on the lee side of the Big Island.