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The Quest for La Sirena

Next time you’re in San Blas, stop in to Billy Bob’s and pay your respects to the last remnants of a grand old San Francisco ‘lady’.

© Suzanne Statler

After many years of hearing about his customers’ adventures south of the border, Sausalito marine diesel mechanic Tom List is finally getting a taste of the cruising life. For the last few months, he and his wife, Suzanne Statler, have been cruising the Mexican coast aboard their newly acquired steel sloop Begone.

As they headed toward Banderas Bay recently, Tom was excited about the prospect of running across his old friend from the Master Mariners, Glenn Burch. "He’d heard that Glenn was in La Cruz," explains Suzanne. "Tom had raced Polaris against Glenn’s schooner La Sirena in San Francisco Bay for many years."

"What a surprise when Tom walked into Philo’s and there was Glenn at the bar," Suzanne recalls. And Tom happened to be wearing a Master Mariners’ T-shirt at the time with a photo of La Sirena on it.

After years of hearing about other sailors’ adventures, Suzanne and Tom are now having a few of their own.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The way we understand it, Glenn had taken La Sirena south and cruised successfully for a while, but while he was in the hospital for medical issues the boat took on water. The water was pumped out and the boat was stabilized, but unbeknowst to Glenn, worms apparently entered the hull and remained inside doing their evil deeds to the hull. 

By the time the problem was discovered, repairs were beyond what Glenn could manage, so he sold her. Tom and Suzanne were determined to track her down, nevertheless. Suzanne explains, "Our first night in the San Blas Marina, we met a man with his dog who revealed the end of La Sirena’s story. He said the new owner, Lee, had tried with great commitment to revive the old boat — but alas, she was too far gone. And while most of her went to the wooden boat museum in the sky, Lee donated her transom, rudder and other pieces to a local ‘museum’ bar named Billy Bob’s."

"We walked in the front door and there — prominently displayed — was the stern of La Sirena, transformed into a nice table." When Billy Bob himself arrived, Tom and Suzanne gave him an in-depth history of the historic schooner and appropriately, "the tequilla started to flow and a great time was shared by all!" By all accounts, Billy Bob’s is a worthwhile stopover when visiting San Blas, if for no other reason that to pay homage to the La Sirena memorabilia — and to say hi to Fluffy, the 78-year-old crocodile in the back courtyard!

Awww. . . isn’t Fluffy cute!

© 2011 Suzanne Statler

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Given the chaos of ‘tsunami Friday’, it’s a little unclear to us what kind of instructions port and other officials gave to boatowners.