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March 2014

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On Sunday, February 2, my beautiful Alberg 37 yawl Folie Douce — which I have lived aboard for 17 years and sailed many hundreds of sea miles — was struck while anchored in Richardson Bay. The boat that hit my boat was a 50-ft ferro ketch, which had dragged anchor for the fifth time in 20 knots of wind. This time she hit three boats in all, and did at least $25,000 damage to mine. The Coast Guard was in the act of trying to get lines on the boat when she hit mine, and they were risking their lives.

The ketch belongs to an Alameda organization called International Rescue Group. People donate boats to them, and then they apparently park them on Richardson Bay. I tried to contact Ray Thackeray, who is listed as the head guy, but was unable to reach him directly. He finally left me an email saying he was on his way to Haiti to do a food donation. He didn't answer my questions about insurance or what he was going to do about the damage to my boat.

I am writing to Latitude 38 in hopes that public sentiment will encourage the International Rescue Group to fix my boat as well as the other two that were damaged. And that maybe there will be pressure on the organization to not use Richardson Bay as a dumping ground to park unlit, unattended and badly anchored boats.

My dream is to do the Ha-Ha this fall and the Puddle Jump next spring, and continue around the great blue marble. I hope that the International Rescue Group will do what I believe is the right thing and rescue my dreams — and those of the owners of the other two boats.

Capt. Marc Kip Culver
Folie Douce, Alberg 37
Richardson Bay

Capt. Marc — We weren't there, so we don't know of any of the circumstances. Did another boat drag over the ketch's anchor and cause her to drag? Was your boat anchored too close behind the ketch? Those kinds of things.

Hopefully you can get an accident report from the Coast Guard — a requirement whenever there is more than $500 damage in a collision between two boats — and proceed from there.

Having said that, we'd be very particular about where we anchored a boat in Richardson Bay. After all, boats dragging in the winter are an all-too-familiar occurrence. We've long thought there ought to be a regulated mooring field in the bay for just these reasons, but there are key government agencies that don't seem to agree with us.

Just before going to press, we received the following email from Ray Thackeray:

"I would like to apologize for the problems caused by our wayward ketch on Richardson Bay. We had been let down by another nautical charity, which had accepted the vessel weeks before. But they changed their mind after major equipment was recently stolen from the boat, at which point we suddenly found ourselves responsible for the ketch again. Though the ketch was securely anchored with an oversized 100-lb Danforth, she dragged. We had already completed planning for the disposal of the boat with the Richardson Bay Regional Authority. I believe this situation with Mr. Culver's boat came about because the ketch was moved without our authorization from her secure position at the Army Corps docks.

I have personally attempted to phone Mr. Culver and already left two voice messages asking him to call me back. I will continue to do so until we resolve the situation with him directly. I sincerely hope this does not affect his entry in the Baja Ha-Ha, and we will do everything we can to make it right in time. We also left our contact details and a local number with the sheriff and Coast Guard if anyone should try to contact us. If you have been affected by this unfortunate mishap, please contact us at


I've got a man overboard story. A few years ago I was on my sailboard, shredding to and fro, when I spotted a J/24 with her sails luffing in the Olympic Circle off the end of the Berkeley Pier. The fact that the sail kept luffing attracted my attention, and when I got close to have a look — holy shoot, there was a man hanging onto the outboard motor bracket! The only person left on the boat was a kid who was looking over the side at him. The conditions were typical for summer on the Circle — 18 to 22 knots and short, steep wind waves of two to three feet.

I jibed and approached the J/24 from the stern. I jumped into the water and swam over to the man. He was about 6'2" and 240. He was also ice cold and unresponsive. "Oh shoot!" I thought to myself.

I jumped onto my board so I could easily climb onto the little J and look for a radio. There wasn't one. I guess the charter company didn't provide one. Well, all right, I guess this was my time to do what I had to do, as there were no Coasties around.

I jumped back into the Bay and got the body of the man over to my sailboard and, with great difficulty, was able to roll him onto the board. Naturally, I had to let the rig go. Then I swam him and the board over to the leeward side of the boat, tied the board to the boat, and jumped back aboard the boat. Than I had to figure out how to pull 240 lbs of slippery man back aboard.

Here's how I did it: I observed that the rolling of the J/24 in the chop was violent enough to get the leeward rail close to the victim every 10 seconds or so. So when the rail got that close, I grabbed him. Roll by roll I was able to get more and more of him aboard. Until I had all of him aboard. Yeehaaaaaw! Once I got him secure in the cockpit, I trimmed the sail and bore off to Berkeley, leaving my board behind.

I had to help get the guy warm quickly, so I had the kid steer while I took off my wetsuit, grabbed the guy naked, and did a body-to-body heat exchange. I think it helped because he was still alive when we got to the dock and called 911. The guy ended up in intensive care for three days but he made it.

I later learned that he'd gotten hit in the head by the boom, and when he went over his lifejacket slipped off. He was almost a goner.

Jonathan 'Bird' Livingston
Punk Dolphin, Wylie 39
Pt. Richmond


Given the problems that many foreign boatowners recently have had with AGACE, a division of Hacienda, which is the Mexican IRS, a little history might be in order.

When my husband Ed and I started Marina San Carlos in 1977, the boats were controlled by the Registro Federal de Vehiculos (RFV), which is something like a federal Department of Motor Vehicles. So the same rules applied to cars and boats. The Mexican government was very interested in getting car assembly plants built in Mexico, but since cars were cheaper in the States, nobody wanted to buy cars built in Mexico. They would buy cars in the States and bring them down to Mexico instead. In order to stop this, Mexico got very strict — and remains very strict — with regard to the importation of cars. The cars that are in Mexico illegally — and there are lots of them — are called carros chocolates, but don't ask me why. I can understand that the Mexican government wanted to protect a fledgling car industry, but nobody made boats in Mexico, so it was ridiculous for Mexico to make it hard for foreigners to bring their boats to Mexico.

Since the same laws applied to cars and boats, boats could be in the country for only six months before they had to leave the country or be legally imported at considerable expense. In addition, the boatowner could not legally leave Mexico without his boat. Furthermore, a boat couldn't leave the dock legally without the owner aboard. As everyone can imagine, this made things very difficult for foreign boatowners.

At one point we had about 50 boats in our marina with expired RFV permits. Some had been in Mexico illegally for years. We suddenly got orders from Mexico City that all these boats had to be out of Mexican waters within 48 hours. That, of course, would have been impossible. By coincidence, on that very day the Secretary of Tourism for Mexico flew in from Mexico City to view our marina. I got all the boat captains and boat workers to demonstrate with signs. As a result, the boats were allowed to stay, but they were still in Mexico illegally.

At that time there were just three marinas in Mexico: the Shroyers' Marina de La Paz, the Acapulco YC and our Marina San Carlos. All the boats in Acapulco at the time were in the country illegally, but they were owned by either very rich and powerful people or very important politicians so nobody bothered them. So I was basically working alone in trying to get the law changed.

Finally, Aduana (Customs) was given control of boats, replacing RFV. Aduana decided that boatowners could leave Mexico without their boats, but the boats had to be left in the custody of a marina. The marinas had to buy bonds that guaranteed that the boats would not be sold in Mexico. These custody papers were good for six months, and they could be renewed. Alas, the custody papers had to come from Mexico City and it often took so long to get them that sometimes they would arrive already expired!

It seems that every subsequent administration invented a new kind of system, each one as complicated as the one before. But as time passed, more marinas were built and the Mexican Marina Owner's Association (AMMT) was started in 1989. Except from 2009 to 2013, I have been the president of the organization.

By the time we started the AMMT, the Tourism Ministry (SECTUR) began organizing meetings among the AMMT, SECTUR, and the different government ministries that the marinas would have to work with. Naturally one of these agencies was Hacienda, the IRS. At the time, the person in charge of making the rules for boats at Hacienda was Maria Elena Carrillo. She decided that it would be easier to cancel the custodies — which I was happy about — and have boats get 20-year Temporary Import Permits (TIPs). The head of Hacienda was in favor of the change because he realized that, since Mexico didn't make yachts, such a policy wouldn't hurt any Mexican businesses. Plus it would encourage nautical tourism. Accordingly, the 20-year TIPs were approved in 1996.

When that secretario left office at the end of his term, his replacement decided to cut the length of the TIPs to 10 years — although the old ones were still good. While not as good as 20-year TIPs, 10-year TIPs were still a huge improvement over how things had been in 1977.

During those years I had so many meetings with Ms. Carrillo, working to make it easier for foreign mariners to visit Mexico, that we became good friends. So when Maria Elena left Hacienda a couple of years ago, the marina association was naturally interested in hiring her as our lawyer. She finally accepted that position last year. She is the one who primarily has been negotiating the release of foreign boats during the last several months.

So the TIP was not my idea, as some have suggested, but I must admit that it was the indirect result of my many trips to Mexico City and my many meetings with Hacienda. I'm very glad that there are many more marinas than there were before, and that some belong to large corporations with legal departments, because I don't feel so alone anyone.

In the past, there have been several inspections of boats by Mexican agencies, and boats have been impounded — and later released. But we haven't had any since 1996, when the TIPs were introduced. When President Fox took office in 2000, the government came up with the 'nautical stairway' plan, which was designed to build a bunch of marinas on the west coast and encourage mariners from the United States and Canada to come to Mexico. Since inspections would have been in direct conflict with the plan, the government left our industry in peace until now. The most recent 'inspections' and 'impoundments' have, however, been the largest and most complicated ever.

The publisher of Latitude asked me to comment on whether exit zarpes from the United States are required when entering Mexico. When Ed and I started Marina San Carlos in 1977, Mexican law required a zarpe or despacho from the port captain of the port of origin. Since port captains in the United States don’t commonly issue such a document, we have taken steps to assist boats that make San Carlos their port of entry. If a boat took off from San Diego and arrived at San Carlos as its port of entry, we would prepare an arribo, a document that states where the boat has come from, who the captain is, who else is aboard, and so forth. We take it to the Captain of the Port at San Carlos, who stamps it.

It's my understanding that most ports of entry in Mexico haven't required zarpes or despachos. Nonetheless, we've always suggested that mariners get an arribo or similar document to cover them while they are cruising Mexican waters. That said, we have never heard of anyone having a problem because they didn't have one.

Just to be clear, an arribo or despacho has nothing to do with Hacienda. It's a document that may be required by the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Tranportes (SCT). It's my understanding that they are now creating a new reglamento (law) in which a despacho from the port of origin will not be required.

Not to complicate things, but there are two other kinds of despachos. One is a Despacho de Altura, which is required when a boat is leaving a Mexican port for a foreign country. Only the captain of the port is allowed to approve it. Foreign mariners cannot depart Mexico legally for a US or other foreign port without a Despacho de Altura.

A Despacho de Cabotage is for when a skipper is taking his/her boat from one Mexico port captain district to another Mexican port captain district. Some years ago, AMMT convinced the government to allow the marinas to issue the Despachos de Cabotage. And in about 2005, we convinced SCT to not require them at all, which made things much easier for nautical visitors. When that happened, some port captains nonetheless asked for something in writing from boatowners. Other port captains didn't. According to law, no paperwork has to be filed for a Despacho de Cabotage, but the boatowner has to inform the marina or the port captain when s/he is leaving and where s/he is going. If the marina is informed, they in turn have to inform the port captain. Different marinas made different arrangements with their port captains.

Other port captains have allowed boats to depart their district with just a call over the VHF. It all depends.

Unfortunately, we started having problems. In some cases navy boats would stop yachts and ask for their despacho, not being aware that the new law no longer required them. In order to protect our clients, marina owners such as the Shroyers at Marina de La Paz and we at Marina San Carlos started to issue a document on marina stationery, and gave it to boat captains in case they got stopped by the navy. It has worked well. We have suggested that other marinas do the same thing, but I don't know who is doing it and who isn't. Marinas aren't required to issue such a document, and mariners aren't required get them, but it can avoid problems.

I have been reading Latitude's articles on the foreign boats being impounded recently. All of us in the Marina Association agree that what the government did was very stupid and unnecessary, and that it has hurt Mexico very much.

Tere Grossman
President, Mexican Marina Owner's Association
Owner, Marina San Carlos
San Carlos, Mexico

Readers — Lack of clarity regarding laws and procedures, different officials interpreting the laws differently, authorities unaware of changes in Mexican law — it sounds like a recipe for chaos. In fact, the system generally worked quite well for foreign mariners — particularly after 1996 and even more so after 2006 — because just about all problems with officials could be worked out with a smile and a little patience. That all changed last November when AGACE went hard core. We believe the action taken by AGACE, which is a newly-created sub-agency of Hacienda, was an unfortunate, heavy-handed blunder that flew in the face of Mexico's best interests — which are filling marinas to capacity and attracting ever more tourists.

As of February 17, AGACE provided Grossman with a chart showing that 1,641 foreign owned boats had been 'reviewed', 337 had been 'embargoed', and 146 of the 337 had been 'liberated'. That means 191 are still embargoed. The number of liberated boats includes 16 whose owners had already fled with them. In addition, Grossman told Latitude that, on February 17, Aristoteles Nuñez, the head of the Mexican IRS, told her that 88 more boats would be liberated by the end of February. That means more than 100 would still be impounded.

Grossman also reports that it's her understanding Mexican authorities are creating a new TIP to prevent a repeat of the recent public relations disaster for Mexico, one which generated negative front page headlines in Mexico's most respected newspapers for days on end. Based on our experience, Mexico does have a reasonably good system for permanently importing foreign-built cars. Maybe they can adopt that for temporarily imported boats.

While we can't offer any guarantees, our belief is that there will be no more AGACE raids on foreign-owned boats this year, and that by the start of the next cruising season in October, the requirements and procedures will be at least somewhat clarified.

More letters on boats impounded in Mexico later in this section.


Steve and Dorothy Darden of the M&M 52 catamaran Adagio requested firsthand reports — particularly "negative reports" — on Pacific Ocean debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. I can happily report that we saw no debris related to the tsunami during our recent passage from Yokohama to Kodiak, Alaska. Of course, we may have unknowingly sailed through a minefield of the stuff, as much of the time it was either dark, raining, or too rough, or we just weren't paying attention. But we saw no debris.

In fact, we were far more concerned with humpback whales. They were plentiful, but showed neither the initiative nor aptitude to avoid us.

Mike Reed
Rum Doxy, Custom 46-ft cat
Santa Barbara


I'm addressing my letter to the Singlehanded Sailing Society, the South End Rowing Club, the Dolphin Club, commercial passenger ships, bar pilots, and the kayakers and swimmers who were on the Bay on January 25, the day of the Three Bridge Fiasco.

It was my pleasure to be a part of that 350+ boat Three Bridge Fiasco sailing event. The weather was beautiful, sunny, and uncommonly warm for a winter's day on San Francisco Bay. Even better, it proved that San Francisco Bay is an ideal playground for so many marine-oriented enthusiasts, and that they, and all the commercial traffic, can get along.

Without everyone's cooperation, the Fiasco could have been a real fiasco. While the 350 boats were sailing slowly along the San Francisco waterfront because the wind was so light, it just happened that there was also a swimming event in the same area, an event that was well-patrolled by many rowing boats, kayaks and small outboard-powered skiffs. In addition, there were the ever-present ferry boats coming and going, and between 9 a.m. and noon, one very large cruise ship as well as three container ships.

Naturally there were many close encounters and potential encounters between the different kinds of vessels, and between vessels and swimmers. But from what I could tell, everyone behaved themselves well, demonstrating both safe spacing and good seamanship, which allowed everyone to play safely and/or take care of their business.

My congratulations to everyone who gave consideration to 'the other guy', which is the reason that we could all have so much fun and be safe.

Gordie Nash
Arcadia, modernized Santana 27

Gordie — A little courtesy on a big Bay can do wonders. Congrats to all.


On the assumption that there will be a 21st Ha-Ha this fall, I'd like to request that my boat be allowed to be entry #1. I like to think that I am qualified for this honor, as my boat and I have already done seven Ha-Ha's, which is more than any boat but Profligate. Furthermore, I have sailed every mile of every Ha-Ha — even though it has meant that sometimes I've had to miss the party at Squid Roe. And I love that party.

Furthermore, I will be sailing with all-women crew. Not that there is anything wrong with it. After all, I've been married twice and have a boyfriend. What's more, my all-female crew will be anatomically correct, which is more than I can say for one member of my friend Bill Lily's supposedly all-women crew from a year ago aboard the Lagoon 470 Moontide.

Patsy Verhoeven
Talion, Gulfstar 50
La Paz, Baja California Sur

Patsy — Will there be a 21st Baja Ha-Ha starting from San Diego on October 27? Given that things seem to be working out, albeit it far too slowly, for impounded boats, we believe there will be. And if there is, we can't think of anyone more deserving to be #1 than you.


I'm in the process of outfitting my boat for a proposed two-year cruise to Mexico and across the Pacific, so I was most interested to read Chris and Anne-Marie Fox's review of their two-year cruise with their Islander 36 Starship. As I've recently been pricing watermakers, I was struck by #2 of the 'Decisions We Were Most Happy With' — which was not getting a watermaker.

I was surprised to read their saying "not having a watermaker wasn't a problem." They said that their Islander 36's 100-gallon capacity, combined with their conservative water use, meant they could go without. And had they decided to get one, they would have needed another power source or else had to use their main engine a lot more frequently.

I would be interested in hearing from others who have cruised across the Pacific without a watermaker. If you had to do it again, would you get a watermaker or go without again?

The other big expense I'm looking at is an SSB radio with a Pactor modem. I know these are just about ubiquitous among modern cruising boats for a number of reasons — safety, staying in touch with family and socializing — but has anyone crossed the Pacific without one and not missed having the combo? I'm pretty sure I'll get the SSB because I have family who will be worrying about me, but I'd still like to hear from those who have gone without.

Emmett Thompson
Westward We Go, Peterson 44
Vancouver, B.C.

Emmett — When we started publishing Latitude, no cruising boats had watermakers. They managed to get by through a combination of water conservation and complicated rain catchment systems. Of course, those hardy cruisers got by without GPS, SSB, reliable EPIRBs and AIS, too.


The Earth Wind Maps that Latitude has highlighted for global wind ('Lectronic, January 3) and global current ('Lectronic, February 5) are amazing. It seems to me that there should be a relatively easy way to overlay the two data sets and plot an optimal course to take advantage of both. Is Stan Honey busy?

Walter Funk
Predator, Hobie 33

Walter — We're not sure if Stan is going to be the guy, but we're sure such an overlay is coming. For any readers who may have missed the global overviews of wind and current, we highly recommend that you check out the 'Lectronics for the dates given. The images are spectacular.


I saw the February 5 'Lectronic Latitude with the item about the currents of the world. I totally believe there is a current running northbound from Pt. Conception to San Francisco Bay, at least in the winter. On trips heading north from San Diego to San Francisco in late December through early February — don't ask why, it's always been a calendar thing — we've found that staying close to shore can add a good 1-1.5 knots to a boat's speed over ground.

I've always called this a counter current, but my more learned oceanographer friends call it the Davidson Current. It runs from Baja to Northern California along the coast in the winter. The weather patterns change in the summer, at which time the Humboldt Current again predominates.

Terri Watson
Delphinus, Mason 33
San Francisco


I recently called up Gravelle's Boatyard in Moss Landing and was told that, as of January 1, nobody, not even a boat's owner, will be allowed to work on their boat. That means anything done to the outside of your boat has to be performed by a Gravelle's employee at the rate of $80/hour. The person who answered the phone said it was all right if the vessel owner just worked on the inside of his/her boat.

I was told that the reason for the change is that too many sloppy boatowners allowed too much contamination to run into the waters of Moss Landing, which are already laden with PCBs. I asked if they had a trap for the water, and was told that they did. I then asked if the contaminants entered said trap from yard workers and boatowners alike. I was told that they did.

Gravelle's claims that too many organizations are watching them, and they're afraid of a lawsuit, so they don't want to take any chances. What's this mean to me? Farewell Gravelle's!

Does anyone else know of this practice being enacted at other yards? For me, half the fun of boat ownership is being able to work on your own boat. And frankly, I don't trust the workmanship at many yards. That's why I choose to do the work on my own boat.

Mike Coleman
Latitude, Santana 22

Mike — The sad truth is that boatyards have legitimate reasons to fear lawsuits, both by organizations that really care about the environment, and sometimes by individuals or groups who seem primarily motivated by the money they can extract from the yards. Get a Northern California boatyard owner drunk enough to loosen his tongue and you'll get an earful about threats of environmental lawsuits.

Some yards also limit or restrict the right of owners to work on their boats because of problems with their insurance policies. Some yards have always prohibited or limited the kind of work owners can do on the exterior of their boats, others have allowed it on a case-by-case basis, and a few yards have let owners do pretty much whatever they want.


The January 23 San Francisco Chronicle had a report about a 20-ft powerboat being partially sunk near Candlestick Pt. According to the article by Vivian Ho, there are many government agencies that regulate and oversee the Bay, but none with the authority and/or means to remove the wreck.

The reporter mentioned that the Coast Guard said they couldn't do anything unless there was an environmental hazard, and they believed all the oil and fuel had already leaked out. San Francisco Recreation & Parks said they couldn't help. What about the Army Corp of Engineers? The Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)? What about the County of San Francisco?

Why isn't there some government agency on San Francisco Bay to address the common and recurring issue of partially sunken or derelict boats on the Bay? I wrote to Nancy Pelosi. Maybe she can help.

Bruce Adornato
Pelagic Magic, True North 38
South Beach

Bruce — You ever hear of the expression, 'So many lawyers, so little justice?' We think the same thing applies to government. The more and bigger government agencies there are, the less quickly and efficiently things get done. And the more each one says, "It's not our job."

There is a state fund to pay for the disposal of derelict boats, but the boats have to be brought to boatyards, not left to sink.


Going onto the Latitude website, we saw the cover of the February Latitude, which featured an interesting shot of Craig Shaw of the Portland-based Columbia 43 Adios at the masthead. We're curious how the shot was taken. Are we correct in thinking that the Wanderer has become quite proficient with Latitude's Phantom quad drone and GoPro camera, and that he took the shot?

Barritt & Renee Neal
Serendipity, Peterson 44
San Diego

Barritt and Renee — It's true that the Wanderer took the photo, and it's also true there is a bit of a story behind it. We'd had Shaw up at the top of Profligate's mast about a week before the final cover shot was taken, and tried to get the shot we wanted. The results were poor, however, because we'd been shooting 'blind', just hoping the camera on the quad was pointing in the right direction and that the wide-angle lens was close enough to him. Alas, the camera was too far away.

The last chance we had to get the shot was an hour before the start of the 49er-Seahawk playoff game. We got Craig to the top of the mast, but as we fired up the Phantom quad, one of the cheapo crimp fittings between the battery and the quad broke off. Damn!

"Bring me down, I'm pretty good at fixing that stuff," Craig shouted from the masthead. He ultimately cut off two crimps and added two short lengths of wire and four crimp fittings. We secured much of the wiring outside the quad with nylon ties. It was the ultimate in aeronautical jury rigging.

Shortly before kick-off, we ran Craig back up the mast, fired up the quad, and started shooting like crazy. Although we missed about a minute of the start of the big game, we got exactly the shot we'd visualized several weeks before. However, there were a couple of boats in slips next to Profligate that we found to be distracting. So much cellulite is removed from cover photos of supermodels, we had Annie Bates-Winship, our photo specialist, eliminate those boats.

The February cover as it appeared on the website is one of our all-time favorites. We're not as happy with the cover on the print magazines, as we were using a new printer, and they got too much blue into it, messing up the greens. When you go to so much trouble to get a shot and it doesn't print out the way you'd imagined, you want to tear your hair out. But that's life.

For those interested in Phantom drones — which includes most men — there are a few things that you should know. First, while the original version, sans GoPro, now sells for about $460, there are two newer models with five times the battery life. One is the Phantom Vision, which comes with a built-in camera, with a limited tilt feature, and FPV (First Person Viewing) that allows you to fly while seeing what the camera is seeing. The Vision is about $1,100, and would be much appreciated by male cruisers. There's also a Phantom 2, to which you can add a twin-axis gyro and a GoPro. This is a more sophisticated rig and a little more expensive, but it's more versatile and offers astonishingly great — i.e, Hollywood movie quality — results at the highest settings, particularly for video.

We have three caveats. First, buy your system from a reputable retailer. There are a lot of flakes in the fledgling industry. We ended up having ours put together by Jeremey at DSLR in Culver City. Although he didn't sell us our main components, he did us right by putting it all together when we were in a semi-desperate situation about to catch a plane to the Caribbean. He's now our go-to expert. Second, these units are subject to failures and 'flyaways'. Kurt Roll, who did the Ha-Ha video, lost his first unit to the waters of San Diego Bay because of some sort of power failure. He bounced back with a Phantom 2 and took spectacular footage of leopard sharks off San Diego's Black's Beach. And our friend Rick Todd, a longtime 737 and Citation 10 pilot, lost his to a 'flyaway' the second time he used it. Finally, it would have been illegal for most people to take our February cover shot in the United States and sell it to Latitude or anyone else. That's because the Federal Aviation Administration says that, while hobbyists can take such photos and video, only licensed pilots can sell the photos. We're not making this up.


Wearing a swim mask at the helm of a sailboat — as the Wanderer was seen doing in the photo in the February 10 'Lectronic — is unusual, but I put one on when I was sailing in Tonga in 1990. I couldn't see a thing without the mask, and I remember how badly the wind-driven rain stung. I didn't know it could rain so hard. A couple of boats dragged anchor and got on the radio and asked for help.

You might remember that Sally Andrew and Foster Goodfellow of the Alameda-based Yamaha 33 Fellowship were cruising Tonga at the same time.

Dave Fullerton
Mudshark, Express 37
San Francisco

Dave — Speaking of Foster and Sally, we're still in contact with them. As you may know, about 15 years ago Foster came down with an inner ear problem that made it impossible for him to sail the ocean anymore. So they bought a canal boat in Europe and have been living that life ever since. But they still miss sailing the South Pacific.


I wished I had a swim mask to wear while delivering Coronado 25 Enfin from Ventura to Port San Luis on California's Central Coast. We planned to motor up to Santa Barbara, having a nice dinner and drinks, then continue on around Conception and up to Port San Luis. But the weather report that afternoon for Point Conception called for 35 knots. My friend, unfortunately, had to get his boat to Port San Luis and we were short of time, so the three of us set out that evening. As the sun went down, the oil platforms became good navigation aids, as we were dead reckoning. Once we passed them, the full moon illuminated our way.

Rounding Conception wasn't too bad. The wind was light, although the swells were medium to large, causing the outboard to cavitate. Rounding Pt. Arguello was another story, however, as the moon had disappeared, and even worse, the wind was blowing over 30 knots. The result was our eyes being stung by salt water for hours. What I would have given for a dive mask! All we could do was rotate on the helm and follow our compass course.

Sunrise was never so welcome, with dolphins joining us for the end of our journey.

Greg Ross
Athena, Catalina 30
Santa Barbara

Greg — Rounding Arguello in an outboard-powered 25-ft sailboat when you're in a rush and don't have a GPS, and it's blowing 30 knots? We're not sure if you were brave or foolish.


One time I raced a Prindle 19 catamaran from Long Beach to the Isthmus at Catalina and back — a distance of more than 50 miles — in 5.5 hours. The wind and waves were so strong that we needed double-lens ski goggles. The two lenses minimize condensation. After the race we had to toss the goggles.

Stuart Kiehl
Watercress, 26-ft Tollycraft


Do ski goggles count as well as dive masks? We were sailing south from 80° 25'N, having just sailed to the edge of the polar ice cap and stuck Mahina Tiare's bow in the ice. After taking photos and enjoying lunch, we headed south for warmer waters. The ocean temperature there was 33°, so the spray in our eyes was . . . invigorating!

John Neal
Mahina Tiare, Hallberg Rassy 46
Port Townsend, WA


The 'Christmas winds' came early to the Eastern Caribbean this December. At the time, some cruisers were trying to get their boats out of impound in Mexico and others were heading north from Trinidad. All, including us, were taking a beating from the 30- to 40-knot winds on the nose. Judy Szyf, my mate and wife of many years, finally said enough is enough and put on the goggles.

Emmett Gantz
Le Reve, Swan 46
Los Angeles


Thanks for your October issue advice on how to get a crew position for the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers). I ended up crossing the Atlantic aboard a custom Axonite 69 monohull built in the Netherlands. It was a really great experience, but I have to say that I enjoy coastal sailing and island hopping much more!

Since my arrival in St. Lucia, I have been sailing on Malisi, an Outremer 64 Light catamaran. We've gone as fast as 17 knots with me aboard, but the crew that brought her across the Atlantic in the ARC hit 23 knots. It's a real delight to sail on such a fast and comfortable boat.

I've made a deal with the owner where I get free food and a cabin when there are no clients aboard. In return, I have to help with the maintenance and upkeep of the boat, and work on her when there are charters. Since I have a background in luxury travel, I also made a deal to help promote the boat in exchange for some commission, so I was wondering if Latitude could give me some tips on how to market Malisi. What brokers should we use for a $16,000/week boat, and what can we do to get press? Are there any international or locally-based brokers that you would recommend for a boat of this size and budget?

I'm really looking forward to hearing from you and getting some advice so I can get this project up and running — and make some money in the process.

Anna Mascaro Fredriksson
Malisi, Outremer 64
St. Lucia

Anna — It's great to hear from you again. We're certainly not experts in the medium-high to luxury crewed charter market, so we would direct your questions to our old California friend and Antigua Sailing Week crew Bob Carson who, after a couple of years of crewed chartering with his wife Denise, bought Southern Trades, a yacht sales and crewed yacht management company in Road Town, Tortola. With over 90 yachts in their stable, Southern Trades is the biggest clearing house of crewed charter yachts in the capital of yacht chartering.

The good news is that when we met with Carson in mid-February, he told us that the mid- to high-end crewed charterboats were killing it this season with very strong bookings. The less good news for you is that most bookings come through brokers, and brokers understandably prefer to book with tried and true boats and crews, or at least boats they have seen at the charterboat shows. The big shows are in November in the Caribbean, so with the winter season about to wind down, you're really looking at setting up for next season.

In addition, you always want to market what is unique about your vessel. In the case of the Outremer 64, we'd stress the fact that she's newer as well as a high-performance cat — unlike almost all the other cats in the Caribbean.

Readers — It's funny how you get to meet people in sailing. Two winters ago Anna, who is from Spain, was working at a shop in San Jose del Cabo when the Ha-Ha came through. Wanting to move on, she asked if she could join Profligate for the trip to Puerto Vallarta. We said, "Sure." After staying on our cat a bit, she crewed on several other boats going down the Pacific Coast of Central America, then somehow started crewing aboard Bayu, an Easton 46 aluminium catamaran owned by German über-athlete Stefan Ramin, 40, and his girlfriend Heike Dorsch, 37. That couple continued on without Anna to the Marquesas, where in one of the strangest and most horrifying incidents in cruising annuals, Stefan was hacked to death — and perhaps eaten — by Henri Haiti, a young guide on Nuku Hiva who later sexually assaulted Dorsch. After spending time back home in Spain and wanting to get sailing again, Anna wisely chose the Canary Islands just before the start of the ARC as a place to look. She's now in the center of the charter world.

Update: Anna reports she's not only had a very productive talk with Bob at Southern Trades but, as of March 1, will be working at the Admiral's Inn at Antigua's English Harbor.


Justin Jenkins of the San Diego-based Columbia 34 Ichiban, who is now cruising the South Pacific with a boat he and his lady Anna Wiley bought for $2,000, said you might have some leads on good cruising boats. I am flying into San Diego from Tasmania for a week, hoping to buy a good cruising boat to bring back home. My budget is $100,000.

I'm currently most interested in a 1977 Peterson 44 that's in Ensenada. She looks promising and her inventory reads well. She is already Australian-flagged, as her owner, from Perth, bought her in 2012. He already did a fair bit of work preparing her for the journey home. But now he's decided to sell.

I'm hoping the deal works out with this vessel, but I think it's wise to have some backups. If nothing else, at least it helps with negotiations with the broker and owner, as they might be more flexible knowing that I have other options.

Justin will be helping me sail the boat to the Marquesas, which means we don't want to leave any later than March, which means any boat I buy pretty much needs to be in ready-to-go condition.

James Marshall
Tasmania, Australia

James — Sorry that we didn't get your letter earlier. But it doesn't make any difference in the sense that we don't track individual boats on the market. All we can tell you is that it certainly continues to be a buyer's market in the United States, and that if you've got $100,000 cash, as we would presume you do, you should have your choice of some very fine boats.

Actually, we have more advice for sellers than buyers in this response. Spring is the boat-buying season, but it's also a buyer's market and there is lots of competition. It you want your boat to sell, particularly for a decent price, you must make sure that she is as presentable as possible. Have your broker or a brutally honest friend give you an objective evaluation of your boat and what could be done to make her more sellable. Unlike you, they'll be able to see your boat through the eyes of a potential buyer. To get a good idea of what your boat should be priced at, visit some sisterships or similar listings, and then ask yourself which boat would be your first choice.

On the other hand, you could take a last sail on your boat, put everything away wet, leave it looking like a pig sty, and call your broker and tell him/her to sell the boat. If anybody makes an offer, don't be surprised at how low it will be.


We're seriously interested in Latitude's proposed second Southern California Ta-Ta. We have chartered out of Marina del Rey before to sail to Catalina, so we would plan to charter another boat in the 32- to 36-ft range to sail with four aboard. Would a charterboat meet the requirements that you might have for equipment?

We have an Ericson 34 on the Bay, but we have not overnighted on the open sea yet. Would that be a requirement? If so, we can get busy doing that between now and September.

There have been some recent letters about the possible benefits of rallies, with the discussion usually centered around safety. Another benefit of rallies is that they give boatowners a specific target date instead of a "someday we want to do X with our boat."

Anyway, thanks for wanting to organize another Ta-Ta.

My two cents about the concert in Napa that is being put on by Latitude 38 Entertainment, a business name that many could confuse with Latitude 38 the sailing magazine: I'd just make it clear in every forum that there are two different companies and that you're not in the concert business, and have fun laughing it off. It keeps you above it all.

David & Kathi Westcott
Special Lady, Ericson 34
Brickyard Cove

David and Kathi — One of this month's many projects is to try to finalize the dates of the Ta-Ta. We'll let everyone know as soon as possible, but please be patient. If your boat has the safety equipment necessary to do charters from Marina del Rey to Catalina, we're pretty sure she'd have all the safety equipment necessary. As for the requirement that participants have overnight experience on the open ocean, there is none, as there aren't any overnights on the Ta-Ta. As we recall, the longest leg is from Santa Cruz Island to Paradise Cove, which is only about 30 miles.


You might ask Bill Bodle to refresh his memory as to the end of the great 148-ft (LOA) Herreshoff schooner Ramona back in 1967. The Great Isaac Light is in the Bahamas, not Bermuda.

The story I heard is that the helmsman on Ramona was told to keep the Great Isaac Light to starboard. He did — but for too long. The schooner ended up going in a circle and onto the rocks.

Lamont Cochran
Santa Barbara

Lamont — Post-GPS sailors have little appreciation of what an adventure navigating could be before the advent of GPS.


You sarcastic skeptics at Latitude!

Global warming is easy to prove. Warmer globe = less ice = more run-off into the ocean = higher sea levels. To confirm this, just look at the tide tables from decades ago. Are average levels not rising? Has the zero level not been changed to keep up? Well?

I, along with the taxpayer-funded scientists, know global warming is happening. This threat to the environment means our children will never have the thrill of seeing a living unicorn.

Stan Murray
Rinky Dink, Atkin 7
Horseshoe Bend, ID / Seattle, WA

Readers — Sometimes we have a hard time knowing if letter writers are serious or not.

In any event, isn't the proper term 'climate change'? After all, things like the Great Lakes having more ice than at any time in the last 20 years gives skeptics ammunition.


An excellent solution to the problem of dock cord fitting corrosion is Noalox, a paste in a tube designed to prevent corrosion on high voltage aluminum electrical cables. Just smear it on and coat the connectors.

I'd had cord corrosion problems from letting a trickle through for the battery charger over a long time. When I'd put a bigger load on the cables, the connectors would heat up and scorch. Absolutely no problems the last 30 years. Available wherever electrical supplies are sold. It only mentions aluminum wire on the label, but works fine for copper.

Ernie Copp
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee Offshore 50
Long Beach


I have enjoyed Latitude for many years and in many parts of the world. I have traded copies for lobster, booze, ice and steaks. I have also paid for copies with hamburger meat, ice, fresh fish and fishing gear.

I understand that you guys are concerned that readers and others might get confused by the fact that a new outfit calling itself Latitude 38 Entertainment, LLC, is putting on something called the Bottlerock Music Festival in Napa over Memorial Day weekend. I think it would be advantageous to both parties if there could be a name change that would make it clear that Latitude 38 Publishing is not involved in live music productions. I have seen too many personal and financial shenanigans that have been perpetrated in the live music industry.

Cap'n Jimy Fitch
Tigre, Crowther Backpacker 39
Bethel Island

Cap'n Jimy — One of our concerns is that the new group is taking over a festival that, in its first year, left workers and vendors not being paid something like $5 million that was owed them. So yeah, we prefer to avoid our name's even remotely being associated with that.

When we published an excerpt from the Napa Valley Register about "Latitude 38" being the new owners of the event, the 48 readers who responded pretty much all said they assumed that we were putting on a music festival. Most of them have recommended that we take legal action to prevent confusion.

Knowing that once lawyers get involved, everybody loses, we gave one of the principals in the new company a call. We had a pleasant conversation. He seemed to understand our point of view, while we understood his problem: They were working 24/7 to sign groups for an event just a few months away, and it would be a nightmare to have to rewrite all the contracts at such a late date. Furthermore, he said they were not trying to promote the name Latitude 38, but rather Bottlerock Festival — which made all the sense in the world.

Maybe time will prove that we are being foolish in not taking immediate action, but we're going to get out of the way and let them try to make a success of their event, and if they are still around later, see if we can't get them to change or at least modify their name.


While cruising in the Sea of Cortez prior to May 20 of last year, we were always keeping an eye on the horizon for changing weather conditions, or on the reefs and shoreline for navigation hazards, or possible anchorages for natural beauty and friendly locals. But ever since May 20, we've primarily kept an eye on my medical tests and, more recently, the results of my chemotherapy.

During a May 6 visit to the hospital in Loreto, we learned there was something amiss with my blood and spleen. The blood count was down and the spleen was enlarged to twice its normal size.

A chronology of events reveals the urgency of my situation.

On Monday, I visited the clinic for the first time. Lab tests and x-rays were ordered. On Tuesday, I returned to the lab for a second blood draw, which confirmed a low count. In the afternoon I returned to the clinic to review the lab results and meet with an internal medicine specialist. On Wednesday, I had an ultrasound and the seriousness of my condition was confirmed. On Thursday, we moved Zoë into the marina at Puerto Escondido and prepared her to be on her own for awhile. On Friday, I flew out of Loreto for San Diego.

Our decision to return to the States was based on the nature of medical facilities in Loreto, which are relatively basic; our perception of the quality of the doctors as they assessed my lab reports and physical changes in me; and our lack of fluency in Spanish. Concern and doubt continued to surface, so we decided I needed to return to California.

Naturally I wanted to get back to California as quickly as possible, so we contacted Diver's Alert Network (DAN) to inquire about getting medivac'd out. We called them over the Internet from the restaurant/bar at the marina, the only place where we could pick up Wi-Fi. Despite the background noise and having to read lab reports in Spanish, the DAN rep confirmed the urgency of the situation. He most noted my hemoglobin count of 6.0, which is less than half of the norm. The evac planning began with coordination by Travel Assist, a DAN partner.

As we anxiously awaited word of my departure day and time, we moved Zoë into a very weather-secure marina in Escondido. Nearly 40 emails — but just 36 hours — later, we boarded a Lear jet for the flight to San Diego. The trip to the airport was actually the most interesting, as the ambulance conveyed a sense of urgency to Mexican authorities, who expedited customs and immigration procedures at the airport.

Once I got to Sharp Hospital in San Diego, my diagnosis was non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, sub-typed as mantle cell lymphoma.

Getting Zoë north to San Diego was both a logistical and emotional challenge. But with patience and planning, and the dedicated support of DAN, Travel Guard, and specifically Rachael Reese, who tracked down and interviewed potential delivery skippers, it was accomplished. Zoë's trip north required Barbara to fly to Loreto and prepare her for the 1,100-mile trip to San Diego. After seven days of upwind motoring and sailing, the delivery skipper docked Zoë in San Diego. She was then berthed at Pier 32 Marina.

No longer homeless, Barbara and I settled back into life aboard, which has perhaps been the best medicine thus far. I have resumed boat projects. It was never 75 degrees at Bainbridge Island in the winter, the perfect temperature for varnishing. Plus marina life is good due to the amenities here — laundry, a health club, pools and a great lunch spot for dining on the patio. It may not be cruising, but it is comfortable, given our situation.

So how is the patient after three months of treatment? Better than expected following the poisonous affair that is termed treatment. A good appetite continues to inspire my wife Barbara's menu planning. The prognosis is good and the doctors are optimistic — although aren’t they supposed to be? We would like to believe we will once again be free to go cruising.

I hope your readers find it of interest. Perhaps it will inspire cruising departures sooner rather than later.

P.S. While cost isn't important in a potentially life and death situation, the following is what we were charged in Mexico: Initial consultation with Dr. Tomas, a GP: $28. Lab work: $70. Consultation with a specialist in internal medicine: $65. Ultrasound: $61. The total expense was $224, which means expense is never a reason not to get any issues promptly checked in Mexico.

David Rogers
Zoë, Fantasi 44
Bainbridge Island / San Diego

Readers — David and Barbara are veterans of the 2012 Ha-Ha.


Is the Wanderer a happy pirate or not? I would expect the sailing guru of San Francisco to have had command of his boat, even after she was impounded in Mexico. I would think he would have cast off his docklines and set sail, no matter if the boat was impounded. The Baja Ha-Ha will never be the same if you curl up to macho Mexican politicos. Now is your turn to be a leader. Do not let us down. ¡Ándale pronto amigo!

Tom Williams
Arctic Ark, 64-ft schooner
Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico

Tom — Fleeing was certainly an option, as the chances of being caught would have been slim. On the other hand, there are times — and we thought this was one of them — when the best thing to do is nothing at all. We decided to just hang tight for two reasons: 1) Our belief that AGACE's action was a massive brain fart by a newly-created sub-agency of the Mexican IRS, and that it wouldn't be repeated, at least not in such a heavy-handed and self-destructive manner. And, 2) because we didn't want to risk the possibility of losing Mexico as a future cruising ground. Let's face it, for West Coast cruisers, Mexico is all but irreplaceable.


I totally agree with Latitude's advice to those cruisers with boats impounded in Mexico to hang tight. One of the first things you learn when you start cruising is to forget about those deadlines and deal with the delays. When my wife Suzy and I crossed the Atlantic on our Wauquiez 45 Suzy Q in 2006, it took us three tries before we made it. As we departed from the Canary Islands, our autopilot failed, and it took three attempts and three months to get it fixed. While not impounded, we made the best of it by exploring these beautiful islands.

Once we got to St. Martin in the Eastern Caribbean, we spent six weeks in Simpson Bay waiting for a heat exchanger. The local dealer’s mechanic claimed Volvo Penta had sent the wrong part, and we went back and forth with them for weeks, waiting through Dutch and French holidays when everything shuts down. When they finally sent the replacement part for the replacement part, it was the exact same one as the first. It turns out that the mechanic had it all wrong. Still, we made the best of it by exploring the island by dinghy and bus.

There will always be delays when cruising, whether it be mechanical issues, waiting for parts or a weather window, or dealing with government officials. It's all part of the deal. So we encourage people not to abandon their cruising dreams, but rather to try to relax and go with the flow.

Joe & Suzy Altmann
Ex-Suzy Q, Wauquiez 45
Santa Cruz

Joe and Suzy — Hanging tight has probably been the best advice, but it sure was frustrating — and is even more frustrating for boats still impounded. We know of one boat that went to Mexico for just a couple of days to get some work done in a yard. Despite being legal in every regard, she's been impounded for nearly three months now.

"We're pretty close to trashing our plans to cruise the ICW and East Coast of the U.S. this summer, during which we hoped to share good times with our grandchildren," one of the owners told Latitude. "It's looks like we might make a side trip to the Pacific Northwest instead. Of course, we'll still have a month's worth of refitting projects to complete when — or if — we ever get back to San Diego."

Government delays of a couple of hours or even days might be understandable, but what Mexico has done is as outrageous and stupid as it probably has been illegal.


Stop ass-kissing Mexico. I bet you're the only ones with an impounded boat who keeps saying how great that shithole country is right now.

Tom Coulombe
San Diego

Tom — We've been quoted in the news media from Mexico to India saying how moronic and self-destructive AGACE's actions have been, and have written countless articles calling the Mexican government on the carpet for it. You call that ass kissing?

As the overwhelming majority of people who have cruised Mexico will affirm, that country is anything but a shithole. For starters, the Mexicans are among the nicest people in the world. Second, there is wonderful diversity in places to cruise, from tropical Zihua to the desert shores of the Sea of Cortez. Thirdly, up until the AGACE screw-up, the government helped make Mexico one of the easiest and least expensive places to cruise. What's happened has been very bad and there is no excuse for it, but the same thing can be said for many things the U.S. has done.


Another quick thanks for your articles on the impoundment situation in Mexico. I am bound for the Baja Naval Boatyard in Ensenada at the end of the month. I think.

I especially like the part of the January 27 'Lectronic article on the impounded boats, when you wrote what Mexican President Peña Nieto "should have said" to foreign boat owners. I am hopeful that your words will be found useful by the Mexican government.

I have found that this strategy — responding not to what was said/done, but what should have been said (and sometimes describing what was expected or hoped for) — is an excellent way to avoid conflict and get to resolution. So I hope it works here.

Let me give an example of what I'm talking about. Recently I was rear-ended. The other guy came out of his car angry and shouting, and began to aggressively accost me. I said to him, "I think what you mean is that I stopped very suddenly and you were unable to stop. And even though you don't appear to be injured, the accident scared you and the damage to your car is serious. But maybe if you looked up ahead you would see the child that ran into the street in front of me." (I really did say this — I've been practicing!) Anyway, the situation was defused, and the other driver allowed that he maybe reacted out of fear, and too quickly and too aggressively. But after I recognized why he responded the way he did, and explained why I behaved the way I did, we were able to calmly carry on.

Would that the Mexican government follows your very rational suggestions of what they should do — and does it!

John Griffith
Splash, Catalina 42
Long Beach

Readers — What we at Latitude said President Peña Nieto should have said to foreign boatowners at the late-January boat show at Sunroad Marina in San Diego:

"Dear foreign boatowners. In an attempt to make sure everyone complies with Mexico's tax laws, and to make sure Mexico doesn't become a haven for stolen boats, a division of Mexico's IRS conducted an auditing process at 11 of Mexico's 30-plus marinas in late November. Due to poor planning, a poor understanding of what was involved, inadequately trained auditors who were accompanied by marines with machine guns, and a total lack of communication with our valued nautical tourists, the audits proved to be unnecessarily frightening. Even worse, they resulted in 338 boats being held against their owners' wills for more than two months — despite the fact that almost all of these boats complied with all Mexican law. In retrospect, we could have accomplished exactly what we wanted to accomplish in a much shorter time by using the same process that we use with foreign-owned vehicles and aircraft.

"We realize that this has been a tremendous inconvenience to our esteemed nautical visitors, and in many cases, not only destroyed plans that had been many years in the making, but caused many to suffer considerable unnecessary expense. Recognizing these facts, and knowing that several important regattas to Mexico are scheduled to start in the next couple of months, I have ordered all embargoed boats to be immediately liberated, except for those very few with obvious paperwork problems. Furthermore, in the next few days we will be releasing a free booklet, in English, making clear all the requirements for bringing a foreign-owned boat to Mexico, as well as all the pertinent procedures that need to be followed. We realize that our not having done this before has caused confusion and unnecessary problems.

"Once again, our apologies to those hundreds of foreign boat owners, and to the marine businesses in the United States and Mexico who have suffered as a result. You have my promise that Mexico will learn from its mistakes."


I delivered a 46-ft sailboat to the Marina Riviera Nayarit in November, then returned to the States on December 1. I am soon returning to the boat. We anticipate just enjoying La Cruz and Banderas Bay in general. I contacted the port captain in La Cruz, who said the boat was never impounded and was good to go. What would you suggest as precautions when we return?

Just a little nervous this time.

Kerry Abbott
Ella May, Hylas 46
Albuquerque, NM

Kerry — We don't think there is any reason to be nervous, particularly if the port captain said the boat is good to go. But let's go down the list of what's needed, although you probably have some of it already: 1) Passports for everyone. 2) Visas for everyone. (You will get your 180-day visa when you go through Immigration at the airport. If anyone is sailing to Mexico, it's best to get a 'By Sea' visa online from the Mexican government website before crossing into Mexican waters. Actually, all you get is a credit card receipt, which you will trade for a 180-day tourist visa, at no cost, at the immigration office at your first port of entry. Keep the receipt with your visa, as it's the only proof that you paid for it!) 3) A Temporary Import Permit, which you get online at the Mexican government site. It will take about two weeks for DHL to deliver it to you. (This is important: When the software asks for the boat's serial number, it's asking for the hull identification number, not the boat's federal document number as you would expect. When applying for the TIP, make sure the engine serial number(s) are correct, as well as all the other information. And make sure the boat has the HIN number on the starboard transom and at an inconspicuous place inside the boat. You can put the HIN numbers on yourself with a Dremel engraver.) 4) Your boat document. 5) If you are not the owner of the boat, a notarized letter from the individual or corporation that owns the boat authorizing you to move the boat in Mexico. Include a photocopy of the owner's passport or some corporate document. 6) Bring a copy of all the documents to the marina office. 7) Have copies of all the documents on your computer so you can print them out at a moment's notice. 8) Keep the originals of all documents on the boat.

If you're really concerned, put a copy of all the documents in a Zip-Loc bag marked "ATTN: AGACE", and attach it to the lifeline nearest the dock. In addition, outline the boat's HIN number on the transom in blue tape. With this, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. You shouldn't but . . .

Banderas Bay is one of the great pleasure sailing spots in the world. Enjoy yourself.


I’ve been following the story of boats being impounded in Mexico via Latitude's near-daily reports.

While the reports of late January — all 50+ boats being "liberated" from the Marina Riviera Nayarit — were encouraging, please don't oversell the present relief. As I understand it, boats such as Profligate haven't really been released. What's happened is that the government has merely assigned the marina as its agent to police the impounding of Profligate and the other boats. Since the marina had no choice but to agree to whatever terms were imposed, it would take only a small re-interpretation to enforce the impound.

However much respect you have for Mexican law, as a boatowner with the means of escape, you have an option not available to the marina operator.

P.S. I'm preparing for the 2014 Ha-Ha.

Cliff Smith
Carola, Young Sun 35
Pt. Richmond

Cliff — We spoke with an AGACE agent directly just minutes before the marina signed the papers making them a depositaria, and the agent said our boat was now free to move about Mexico and leave the country if we so chose. In addition, we got a copy of the letter from AGACE listing all the boats that were "liberated" from the marina. We're not worried. In fact, we think we're now better protected than the boats that weren't impounded.

It's been a complicated situation, and the facts have been few and far between. However, we were led to believe that the depositaria business was mostly a way for AGACE to end the fiasco while covering their asses. In governments around the world, including Mexico and the United States, what is said and what actually goes on are frequently two very different things.

We continue to believe that the fiasco was merely a very expensive blunder for Mexico by one small part of the Mexican government, and that it's extremely unlikely to happen again.

Since you write that you're preparing for the 2014 Ha-Ha, we presume that you share our belief.


I am one of those foreign boat owners holding my breath here at Marina de La Paz, trying to see some logic in what AGACE has been doing. If they're trying to catch tax cheats, as was claimed in a press release, why go after the boats in the marinas that pay an average of about $1,000/month? Aren't the people who can afford such berth rates the most likely to have their paperwork in order?

Looking out at the anchorage in the Bay of La Paz, I can easily see a dozen derelict boats that haven't moved in months. If I were looking for tax cheats, I'd go hunting out there. But if they did, how would they impound the boats?

I think the bottom line is that AGACE just figured it was easier to go after the boats in the marinas so the underlings could look good to their bosses. If they had gone after the most likely tax cheats, it would have been a lot harder, even though they might have actually caught some real ones.

Mark Novak
Betty Jane, Hans Christian 43
Santa Cruz

Mark — We think you're off the mark on this one. Mexico gave out 20-year Temporary Import Permits, and more recently 10-year Temporary Import Permits, and only charged about $50 for them. So expense has never been an obstacle in getting a TIP, which is why we wouldn't be surprised if all of the derelict boats had them. Whether their owners could be found, or whether their owners could find their TIPs are different questions.

It's our belief that the whole "tax cheat" nonsense came about because AGACE is an agency that was recently created to assess duty on "merchandise" permanently brought into Mexico. The honchos mistakenly believed that cruising boats with Temporary Import Permits were like refrigerators, clothes, lawn furniture and the like being permanently imported into Mexico.


"When in doubt, bug out." So wrote Tristan Jones.

If I had any boat but Latitude's catamaran Profligate, which has been front and center in the struggle for reasonable resolution to the business of boats being impounded in Mexico, and thus a target, I'd be on my way to Hawaii.

In the good old days of honest bribery, almost any situation in Mexico could be handled quickly. Since the bureaucrats have triumphed, it is one country that is no longer on my radar.

Richard Zopolote
Reality, Custom
Port Townsend, WA

Richard — Tristan was an accomplished sailor and a fine storyteller, but not always a role model. Sure, we could have sailed off with Profligate in the middle of the night and not gotten caught, but Mexico has too much to offer for us to give up on it so quickly because of a blunder by one sub-agency of Hacienda.

The strange thing about this whole episode is that we believe AGACE actually thought it was doing something great and was indeed going to find a bunch of big "tax cheats" and become national heroes. Because lord knows Mexico — where hardly anybody pays any tax — needs to collect taxes in order to finance better schools, local roads, and social services. But AGACE's having done so much damage to Mexico's reputation, it won't even matter if it catches a few tax cheats.


My sailboat SEAduction was impounded at Marina Coral in Ensenada. Last Saturday I received a call from the marina management that my boat was released. All my paperwork was in order, but I was in Utah when they called and asked for it, so I couldn't show it to them.

But I want to thank Latitude for keeping everyone updated.

I just got back home from Puerto Vallarta, and some of the locals would have people believe the whole thing was Latitude's fault for writing about it.

See you on this year's Ha-Ha.

Dan Lawler
SEAduction, Catalina 42 Mk II
Salt Lake City, UT

Dan — Yours is a common story. AGACE really blew it.

As for people in Vallarta — probably a few members of the Vallarta YC — claiming the whole thing was Latitude's fault, it wouldn't surprise us. A small group there has been as ignorant of the facts as it has been vocal. No, being impounded didn't mean a boatowner didn't have all the proper papers. No, having a boat impounded did not mean a boatowner didn't follow the proper procedures. No, an 'audit' by AGACE was nothing like a boarding inspection by the navy. No, a boat in 'precautionary embargo' wasn't legally free to leave the dock — unless the marina signed up as a despositaria and gave permission. No, boatowners who had their boats impounded were not 'Ugly Americans' who thought Mexico should conform with their wishes. No, not all AGACE inspections were conducted the same way. No, not every valid TIP came with a sticker. No, not all U.S. boats have HIN numbers. And finally, no, Mexican maritime law and regulations are not clear or well understood, as evidenced by the fact that many officials don't even know the law.



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