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October 2015

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There have been some letters in recent Latitudes about diesel engines. I love the diesel I have in Ruby, the 60-ft steel sloop that I designed when I was out cruising in the 1970s. I have been chartering her on San Francisco Bay for 35 years now.

I wanted a real engine room for my boat, and having one in Ruby has really paid off over the years. For when you have a charter boat, you have to keep to a schedule, so having a reliable engine is a must. I keep my engine room like a shrine.

My diesel is a General Motors 371 diesel that was built in 1947 — 68 years ago. I overhaul it every 10 years, which turns out to be about every 10,000 hours. (The engine hours really add up on trips down to Mexico.) The overhauls cost about $6,000.

Josh Pryor
Ruby, 60-ft custom sloop
San Francisco

Readers — If we're not mistaken, Ruby's first real sail was the Doublehanded Farallones Race in April 1982. Ruby actually did very well in that event, and was lucky to get back in the Gate as early as she did, for the weather got progessively worse. The weather turned so bad that before it was over six lives and seven boats were lost. It was one of the most tragic sailing events ever on the West Coast.


I have been a BoatU.S. member for almost 15 years. During that time I have used the service just three times. The most recent occurred on Sunday, September 6 — well, actually not until Tuesday the 8th. I had a starter go out on my boat at Martinez, and needed to be towed back to South San Francisco. When I called BoatU.S. I was told that even with the Gold Unlimited package, they do not tow from dock to dock on weekends and holidays.

I do understand the logic of the refusal, as they can address more issues on the water during high-volume weekends and holidays if they do not have to tow a boat 40 miles. But if this is the policy, then people should be made aware of it when signing up for the service.

I have talked to eight different people at BoatUS. Some were shocked that I was not towed home for two extra days. Others attempted to justify the policy. At least one seemed to understand my issue.

I don't think they will change the policy, so I am spreading the word. If you are in need of a tow from one marina to another, that service is only available on non-holiday weekdays.

Brian Rogers
Echo, Gold Coast 50
Oyster Cove Marina, South San Francisco

Brian — What would happen if you wanted to get AAA to tow your car from Martinez to South San Francisco on a very rainy Thanksgiving weekend — remember those? — when there were countless fender benders, cars with dead batteries, and other such problems? They'd tell you that you'd have to wait until they had the resources and manpower available — which is pretty much what BoatUS told you. We understand that. And if we read your letter correctly, we think you understand that. Your complaint seems to be that when you were signing up for the service BoatU.S. didn't make it clear that there could be delays in providing service. If they didn't, we think you have a legitimate complaint.


We haven’t run out of fuel like the Gregorys on the Schumacher 50 Morpheus in the Corinth Canal as reported in the August 26 'Lectronic Latitude, but when I've mentioned that the engine sounded funny or the steering didn't seem quite right, I got 'The Look' that Deborah Gregory referred to. And we've subsequently discovered there was indeed something wrong. But it all balances out, as I've had my share of bloopers, too.

Maryann Hinden
Surprise, Schumacher 46

Readers — So everyone understands what is being discussed here and in the following letters, here is that 'Lectronic item: "Because it strikes so close to home, the Wanderer had a big laugh when he read the following Facebook post by Deborah Gregory, who has been cruising the Med the last several summers with her husband Jim aboard their Pt. Richmond-based Schumacher 50 Morpheus. It was titled 'Husbands'.

"This morning, as we were approaching the Corinth Canal in Greece, I lovingly went up to my husband and said, 'I'm not nagging, and I'm not scared, but can you please make sure we have enough diesel in the tank we are currently drawing from to make it all the way through the canal?" For it would be just like Murphy to have us run out of fuel in the middle of the Corinth Canal.

"I got 'The Look'. Ladies, you know the one.

"Three hours later, in the absolute middle of the 4-mile-long canal, the engine started to sputter. 'Debbie, quick, get back here,' shouted Jim. 'Steer down the middle of the canal!' Like there was anywhere else to steer with a 15-ft-wide boat in a 25-ft-wide canal.

"Jim ran forward as the engine sputtered, grabbed a diesel jug, and started pouring diesel into the tank, as the engine continued to sputter. Finally it started to run smoothly again. Jim looked at me with a shit-eating grin.

"What can I say? He's mine. I love him. I can't beat him. But, Jim, come on!"

The reason this strikes so close to home for the Wanderer is that one time Doña de Mallorca gave us a similar little chat/warning about the amount of fuel we had in the tank when we were a few miles outside Paradise Marina in Mexico. And then we, too, ran out of fuel. She swears that it's happened at least two other times, but the Wanderer doesn't remember those.

In the Wanderer's defense, we'd like to point out that most of the time he doesn't run out of fuel. And, because of de Mallorca's obsession with not running out of fuel, we usually finish the Baja Bash with a bunch of 15-gallon jerry jugs full of diesel in the cockpit.

As for Debbie's claim that the Corinth Canal is 25 feet wide, that is what Mark Twain would have called 'a stretch'. The canal is actually 70 feet wide. But having taken our Ocean 71 Big O through the Corinth back in the mid-1990s, we can confirm that thanks in part to the near-vertical crumbling limestone sides of the canal, it seems a lot narrower than it really is.


I left to go cruising with Jim and Diana Jessie aboard their Lapworth 54 Nalu IV on October 16, 1995. We had a big send-off at the Oakland YC, then motored over to the St. Francis YC where there was more bon voyage partying and where we spent the night.

A crowd saw us off from the dock the next morning, some boats accompanied us to the Gate, and Mike Jackson even waved goodbye from a helicopter. But as we pulled away from the dock at the St. Francis, the engine quit. We were out of fuel to start the circumnavigation!

"Nalu IV is a sailboat; get up the sails!" ordered Jim. I was the foredeck crew and got the sails up quickly. And off we went, outside the marina and out the Gate.

After things calmed down, Diana, in her great wisdom, asked Jimmy, "When was the last time we got fuel? Was it up the Delta? When . . . ?"

To say the Jessies, who did more than a circumnavigation, were laid back cruisers is an understatement. They were so knowledgeable that they could be so relaxed. The year I spent crewing on Nalu IV was quite an education. I'm forever grateful for the time I got to spend with them.

Linda Keigher
Hawkeye, Sirena 38
Bonbonon Bay, Negros Oriental, Philippines


Running out of fuel has been sort of a running joke for me. You may recall that our boat Saga, a custom steel Wylie 65, was basically a floating set of tanks. Her steel construction allowed for a number of integral tanks, including 900 gallons of water that could gravity feed from one side to the other for stability, 900 gallons of fuel, 50 gallons of hyrdaulic oil, 50 gallons of outboard gas (never used), and the infamous 60-gallon deck-filled vodka tank (also, sadly, not used by us!). So there was no excuse for running out of anything, right?

During our shakedown cruise to the Pacific Northwest and back, and during the El Niño runup of 1997, we motored all the way up to the San Juans and all the way back. There wasn't a breath of wind. While off Pt. Reyes on the way back, the engine started to sputter on the mix of fuel and sludge that we were pulling out of the very bottom of the tanks. I spent the rest of the way into the Bay with the inspection plates unscrewed, hand-pumping, skimming from the dregs of the tanks into an improvised 'day tank'. The wind finally filled in as we came under the Golden Gate, and we had enough fuel left so that I was spared the ordeal of trying to sail the 65-ft Saga onto the dock.

Later, arriving in Guatemala's Rio Dulce after a somewhat bouncy and tiring passage from Roatan, we were particularly focused on the tricky and vaguely marked crossing of the bar at Livingston. As the depthsounder started to register zero clearance and we started to bump along the bar, the engine sputtered and died. Saga was then swept out of the 'channel' by the current. We grounded softly and slowly heeled over. It wasn't until we had traded beer and greenbacks with a crew in a local panga in return for their pulling the mast hard over and towing us back into the channel that I went down below and discovered that I had neglected to equalize the fuel tanks. I had thus emptied one while leaving several hundred gallons in the other.

I know I ran out of fuel at least one other time, but again, without dire consequences. It was a remarkable testament to the boatbuilding and design skill of Arlo Nish, Saga's original owner, who circumnavigated twice, and designer Tom Wylie, that running out of fuel seemed to be the worst recurring mechanical problem we had on our two-year cruise.

Matt Stone
Ex-Saga, Wylie 65


I've never been warned by a spouse or significant other, but I did run out of fuel once on a particularly busy day in Ventura Harbor — and after just passing the fuel dock on the way back to my slip. We'd been out at the Channel Islands for a couple of days aboard my Islander 32 Sun Shadow, and the unanimous opinion of captain and crew was that we'd have plenty of fuel to make it back to the slip, where we could just dump five gallons in before our next departure. So let's go home already!

The funny thing is that I've never docked the boat more perfectly under sail. Sometimes a little shame can really help a guy get focused.

Colin Thompson
Sea Sloth, Ericson 27


My incidents aren't about running out of fuel after being warned by my wife, but they are in the same vein:

1) After an overnight on our way down the West Coast in 2010, we left Crescent City in the foggy predawn to get an early start. By that time I had acquired a certain faith — unhealthy, as it would turn out — in radar and the chartplotter to guide us through tricky situations. 'Trust your instruments' is the mantra of pilots. I learned why it shouldn't necessarily be the same for mariners. The problem in this case is that the breakwater wall in Crescent City presents a solid curve — the entrance is a hidden dogleg — and my chartplotter insisted I was right where I wanted to be. My wife, on the other hand, was shouting "Stop! Stop! I can see the wall ahead!" Her voice got louder and the pitch higher with each warning. By the time I saw the breakwater wall, our bow was just 10 to 15 feet from it. Luckily I do use some sense in such circumstances, so I had little way on and was able to stop, turn, reassess the situation — and apologize profusely.

2) After a year on the hard, and another in the marina, we finally fired up our boat, a Horstman 45 trimaran, for a test run. We were just clearing the entrance to Marina Palmira in La Paz when the engine sputtered and died. After a moment of deer-in-the-headlights, I quickly raised sail so we could maintain some steerage in the narrow channel, and started checking the fuel path. It had been too long since we'd taken the boat out, and I'd left the freakin' fuel valve shut off.

Damon Cruz
Nomad, Horstman TriStar 45
La Paz. Mexico

Damon — Your second point brings up an important lesson. As good as instruments are, they provide passive intelligence, and thus the information they provide has to be verified by a human, preferably one who understands the limitations of the instrument.


We haven't run out of diesel for the engine, but we do seem to run out of propane in the middle of grilling a steak.

Steve Bondelid
Flexible Flyer, DF1000
Whidbey Island, WA


Fran and I don't hang out in bars too much, but we always said that the late Philo Hayward's Philo's Bar in La Cruz was the best bar in the world. While we were discussing Philo's passing this morning, we wondered why we enjoyed his place so much. It was hard to find the right words, but what came to mind is that Philo was alway such a gracious, real and unpretentious host. And it was obvious that he enjoyed what he was doing. While he enjoyed running the bar and the restaurant, what he really enjoyed was entertaining people. The crowd was all ages, with a few dogs thrown in, but the majority of the patrons were old farts just like us, and we all had a great time, every time. No other bar we've ever been in exuded the same good feel as Philo's, and it was all because of him.

One Christmas we helped Philo bag presents for about 480 local kids, presents that he had collected money for and purchased. He then hired a Mexican Santa to give each kid — one kid at a time — a bag with a present. And they were good presents, too. Philo was famous for putting on other charitable events for the various organizations and groups of people in La Cruz.

Philo regularly organized overnight bus trips to the mining town of San Sebastian, which is about two hours from Puerto Vallarta at an altitude of nearly 5,000 feet. He would reserve every hotel room in town, and take 100+ people up for dinner and a concert in the old fort. We did it twice, and had a great time both times.

Another time we stayed at one of the little casitas he rented out in back of the bar. He just gave us the keys to the bar in case we got home after the bar closed.

Philo was special. Very special. La Cruz will miss him. We're really going to miss him. But his love Maria and her boys Alejandro and Diego will miss him most.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Larry Brown
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

Larry — We always viewed Philo's as much a community center as a bar, as the latter term tends to have a seedy connotation that in no way reflects what Philo's was like. Late last month Maria wrote to Philo's friends to confirm that his longtime manager Alfredo Jimenez and his wife, Marichuy, have agreed to continue running Philo's Restaurant, Bar and Music Studio, and we know Maria very much wants to keep Philo's charitable tradition alive.

Latitude's memorial to Philo, who was a very close personal friend of both the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca, appears in this month's Sightings.


Thank you for your beautiful eulogy for Philo Hayward that appeared in 'Lectronic. I never met Philo and I have never been to La Cruz, but the eulogy moved me to tears. I thought it was a wonderful tribute to the man. His death sounds like a real loss. My condolences to those who knew and loved him.

John Griffith
Splash, Catalina 42
Long Beach, CA.

John — Thank you for the kind words, but we find it more than a little awkward that our eulogy so moved you for somebody you didn't know. Trust us, Philo was even better than our eulogy.


As a participant in the Transpac, I always, as I'm sure many fellow Transpac sailors do, go straightaway to the Latitude recap — as if the Transpac website and Yellowbrick weren't enough. I love comparing elapsed times with those of previous years, as boats and navigation aids continue to improve to supposedly make the course 'shorter'.

I got a real chuckle from Ronnie Simpson's synopsis of Division 5, which read, "Allure and Horizon hooked up, with Allure finishing first and correcting out over Horizon by an incredible 2 minutes and 52 seconds after more than 2,000 miles."

If he thought that was close, he should check out the 1983 Transpac, where Lou Fox's Richmond YC Olson 40 Spellbound and Bob Lund's Encinal YC sistership Prime Time finished, after more than 2,000 miles, just 46 seconds apart boat for boat, and 23 seconds apart on corrected time, with Spellbound taking first in both categories. Both finished about 12 hours faster than Allure's time this year. There must have been a big advantage in sailing with Loran, ha, ha, ha.

In that same race, Irv Loube's Frers 46 Bravura finished 28 minutes later, taking first in Class C and first overall.

And I'll bet a buck that this was Skip Allan's favorite Transpac finish. But you'll have to ask him why.

P.S. Thanks for the very nice tribute to sailor/sailmaker/artist Jim DeWitt. It was all fine until you noted his age. Damn.

Rodney Morgan
Spellbound, O-40
San Francisco

Rodney — You got us to thinking which was the closest finish of any long-distance race. If we had to guess, it was one of the 1,000-mile races to Puerto Vallarta, where if we recall, several sleds crossed the finish line overlapped, and several others were just a boat length or two behind. Anybody remember that?


About 35 years ago I came across a cove on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island toward the west end. When I hiked about 100 yards up the cliffs, I could see an entrance about 80 feet wide that led into a fantastic grotto dripping with moss and ferns. I've tried to find the grotto again twice in the ensuing years, but with no success. I've asked others about it, but everyone thinks I'm nuts and sniffed too much glue. But it's not true. Do you or anyone else know the place?

Martin Buxton
Panache, Bill Lee 40
Santa Cruz

Martin — Sorry, but we don't. Santa Cruz Island doesn't have Internet, so we haven't been able to spend that much time out there.


I want to tell you about a video that, among other things, improved my sex life. At least temporarily. And it wasn’t a porn video.

For about the last year I’d had intermittent problems with the diesel engine starting system on my Islander 36. I’m in financial planning, so not only am I not much of a mechanic, I’m also frugal, which is why I didn’t want to hire a professional mechanic unless I had to.

I got on the Internet and found a YouTube video that simply and clearly explained my diesel's electrical system, and how to identify and fix many of the more common electrical problems. I even learned how to start the engine without turning the key. In any event, it helped me discover that the cause of the intemittent starting was a loose ground wire.

So what’s this got to do with sex? Well, fast forward to August, when I took a woman I'd been dating for a short time on a week trip up the Delta on my boat. We were having a great time, and then the engine decided not to start again. It was a little bit of a moment of truth, as all men know that women don’t like men who: 1) lack confidence and 2) can't solve problems. So after about the third time of turning the starter key in vain, she gave me a ‘Let’s see what you’ve got’ look.

"Give me a moment to see what’s wrong and fix it," I said, exuding a little bit more confidence than I actually felt. She gave me an approving look.

I opened the engine compartment and could see that the ground was securely attached, so that wasn't the problem. Thanks to what I'd learned from the video, I decided I would take a chance and see if jumping the solenoid would do the trick. So as per the video, I used a screwdriver between the hot lead from the battery and the wire to the starter switch. There were the expected sparks, but the engine came to life! And because my engine is a diesel, once it started, it wasn't going to stop until I turned it off.

"It’s just a bad solenoid," I told my date, as if I'd been working similar mechanical magic since I was a kid. "We’ll just jump it as many times as we need to until we get back to Sausalito and I find the time to replace it."

I didn’t just imagine that she was impressed by confidence and skill, she showed me.

I have to admit that I felt like more of a M-A-N than if we’d been left helpless until I could get a mechanic to come to the boat. When we hit the sack that night, I felt it. My date asked me if I had dosed up with Viagra. Nope, it was just male pride.

Alas, the relationship didn’t work out. I think she was looking for more of a ‘bad boy’. I can fake being a good mechanic, but I'm not very good at faking being a bad boy, even after watching videos that supposedly show you how to do that. At least I can remember the time I pulled a little mechanical magic in the Delta.
I hate to say it, but I can no longer find the darn YouTube video that was so helpful to me. There are others, but none as good as that first one I'd found. Another source of good information on diesel electrics is

Please Withhold My Name Because I Have A New Girlfriend
Islander 36

NWBR — With the Mexico cruising season almost upon us, that’s excellent basic knowledge that all cruisers should have when they are away from mechanics.

It's a good point that once started, diesel engines, unlike gas engines, don’t need continual electricity to keep running. Although it’s not always completely true. When we did the Baja Bash a year ago, we unknowingly had one engine battery die on us because a bad alternator wasn't charging it. The replacement battery died on us 36 hours later off Cedros, again because of the bad alternator. When the batteries wore out, our engines didn't stop, they just automatically went into neutral at idle speed. Nothing we did with the controls would change anything. The only solution was to disconnect the throttle and shift controls from the MicroCommander control system and operate them by hand. It wasn’t elegant, but it got us to San Diego, where the alternator was identified as the problem.

Had we been checking the charge on the port engine battery that powered the MicroCommander system, we could have easily determined that the engine battery wasn’t being charged. In which case we could have used extra-long jumper cables to temporarily connect our massive house battery bank to the engine battery, keeping the MicroCommanders powered up. Unfortunately, we weren't so smart back then.


I was interested in the recent letter regarding SUPs and the Rules of the Road because the answer has a much broader application for sailors.

The main reason that SUPs and other very small craft generally have to yield to larger craft comes from the concept of "in extremis." When a vessel normally burdened to give way does not do so, the situation is "in extremis," and the "stand on" vessel must take action to avoid collision. In the case of a large vessel and a much smaller one, the large vessel is unable to take effective action to give way long before the small one need maneuver at all, so the situation of a such a meeting is always "in extremis" and the small one must take action.

In the words of an old Supreme Court ruling sitting in Admiralty: "Here lies the grave of Michael O’Day, who died defending his right-of-way. He knew he was right as he sailed along, but he’s just as dead as if he was wrong."

Readers interested in this and other of the myriad details of the COLREGs are referred to the main text on the subject for professional mariners and Admiralty attorneys, Farwell’s Rules of the Nautical Road. It makes for interesting reading, and there may be some other surprises for recreational boaters.

As regards PWCs, which also came up in the same letter, they do have a significantly higher hazard of injury. This is in part due to their speed and the fact the riders are exposed, but there are two special accidents that PWCs are prone to.

Unlike most other waterjet-propelled boats, most PWCs don’t have reversing buckets that can operate at speed. This means that they cannot slow down or brake by reversing their means of propulsion like prop-driven boats or other waterjet boats. (Waterjet boats with reversing buckets brake much better than most other boats). In addition, if the throttle is released, they can’t steer. (Normal waterjet boats drop the bucket, which has features to allow steering while braking, and actually get increased steering response.) This can result in an 'off-throttle loss of steering' accident. PWCs made after about 2003 or 2004 have various devices to help maintain steering in such cases, mainly by applying the throttle automatically when the rider tries to steer, but previous models do not. To a sailor, this means that there is a significant possibility that a PWC coming at them fast may suddenly lose steering and be unable to avoid them.

The other accident type unique to PWCs is an 'orifice injury'. If a rider behind the driver falls off the back of the PWC, there is no kill lanyard to stop the jet. This means that if they are unlucky, the high-pressure water of the jet can forcibly enter an orifice in the lower body and cause considerable internal damage. A warning on all PWCs advises wearing personal protective gear such as a wet-suit bottom or another substantial lower garment. This warning should be taken seriously — bathing suit bottoms are not adequate.

Chris Barry
between boats
Santa Barbara

Chris — To review, the Coast Guard classifies SUPs as 'vessels', which means they must obey all the Rules of the Road in addition to carrying basic safety gear.

We think your statement, "The main reason that SUPs and other very small craft generally have to yield to larger craft..." is confusing. What do you mean by "generally?" What do you mean by "very small craft?" And what do you mean by "larger craft?"

We'll give you a good example of why such definitions are critical. On the Monday of Labor Day weekend we slowly motored
Profligate into the channel to the Santa Barbara Yacht Harbor. It was a very warm day, and the entrance channel was teeming with people on small sailboats, in kayaks, on SUPs, and just about everything else that could float. As the 63-ft by 30-ft Profligate is very large compared to the many 10-ft SUPs in the channel, should we have taken your statement to mean that we had the right of way? It's not clear to us.

Although we were the much larger vessel, we assumed that the SUPs, kayaks and such continued to have the right of way despite their size. Correct us if we're wrong, but we're under the impression that right of way based on size doesn't take place until the larger vessel has to demand it because she otherwise couldn't navigate safely. At least that was our guiding principle.

That said, we think smart and courteous mariners always give plenty of room to less maneuverable vessels, and in plenty of time so the skipper of the much larger vessel clearly understands the intentions of the skipper of the smaller boat. The folks who rent out kayaks and SUPs almost universally support this concept, but it's frequently lost on their customers, who are often having too much fun to be aware of the surroundings beyond the tip of their paddles. But it's not lost on us, as we happily try to get Profligate the heck out of the way of oncoming ships as early as possible.

By the way, if you can find the Michael Day quote anywhere in a Supreme Court ruling, we'd like to see it. Normally that epitaph is attributed to 'Anonymous'. There are many similar funny epitaphs, a favorite being: Here lie the bones of Elizabeth Charlotte/Born a virgin, died a harlot/She was aye a virgin at seventeen/A remarkable thing in Aberdeen.


I saw in a recent 'Lectronic that the Grand PooBob/Grand Poobah bought a Reef Island inflatable island for fleet use during the SoCal Ta-Ta and Baja Ha-Ha. For once, I was a tiny bit ahead of the PooBob/Poobah.

We bought our Reef Island last month, and it's been a terrific hit. As the photo shows, our serenity in Emerald Bay last week was interrupted by no fewer than 14 Boy Scouts who had a blast on the island — with permission, of course, and who left it no worse for the wear. (My boys Jonathan and Nicholas are rear and center.)

One caution, though. I initially tried to inflate it with my powered dinghy pump, but after half an hour was only about halfway there. Not interested in missing cocktail hour, I disconnected it and brought out my trusty Mini Shop-Vac. Making sure I had the exhaust up against the Island's valve, in less than five minutes I had it 95% inflated. I used a hand pump to top off the inflation.

It's important to tie down the Reef Island early if the wind starts to come up. For once inflated, a gust of wind took the Reef off my bow — and almost grabbed me too. It ended up being a lot of laughs with some sheer terror, as the Reef Island really is big.

My work schedule didn't work with this year's Ta-Ta, but I am prepping for the Baja Ha-Ha in 2017. I sure hope the Grand Poobah won't even think about giving up his reign anytime soon!

Jim Anderson
Thalassar, Beneteau 49
Redondo Beach


Bill and I have been cruising on his Lagoon 47 Moontide for quite a few years now, but from time to time we still need advice from other cruisers. This month we both have questions. Mine is about bees; his is about communication devices.

Just before we left Moontide at Marina Chiapas in southern Mexico at the end of May, some bees had started a hive at the tip of our mast. We tried to slap the main halyard back and forth to discourage them, but they persevered. Bill got stung twice in the face, and in no time his face reminded me of the Elephant Man. The bees seemed to get irritated with each other, too, as we would find 80-100 dead bees on the deck whenever we ventured out again. We are guessing they are Africanized bees.

Although the fire department had removed bees from the marina before, bees hadn't been a problem on boats. They suggested sending a worker up the mast with wasp spray. We felt that would be too dangerous for the person going up there — not us! — but also for anyone working the winch below. Since leaving the marina, nothing has been done to address the issue. I am trying to find a bee removal person, since they have not done so. Maybe Latitude readers have some suggestions.

Bill has been looking at Moontide's comms for when we return to the boat. He's looking at satphone, Iridium GO, and the InReach to add to our VHF, SSB and cellphones. We have a T-Mobile cellphone account that gives us unlimited free text and data — at 2G — in 120 countries, which includes most of Central America and parts of the Caribbean, which will be our cruising grounds for the next couple of seasons. Bill has talked to some cruisers with satphones and InReach, but not with anyone who has Iridium GO experience. Can anybody provide any guidance?

Judy Lang
Moontide, Lagoon 470
Puerto Chiapas, Mexico

Judy — When it comes to bees, particularly the much more aggressive Africanized ones, we think it's good to have a complete beekeeper's suit. They cost $50 to $79 for complete cover. If you don't have one and bees are around, experts recommend light-colored, smooth textured clothing. For some reason bees get agitated by dark colors and rough clothing. And don't wear any perfume, aftershave, cologne or scented deodorant, as bees may mistake you for an angry flower.

The second thing we'd do is try to find a beekeeper. They know what they're doing. If you can't find one, you may have to call the fire department. But we wouldn't be standing anywhere around when the removal attempt begins.
CO2 fire extinguishers freeze bees in an emergency. The Wanderer had to use one once on
Profligate as we had a crewmember allegric to stings, and bees were trying to take up residence in the boom — while we were sailing!

Another idea is tie a bag of moth balls to the mast head. Bees hate moth balls.


An Australian on a brief visit to San Francisco, I picked up the September issue of your excellent magazine somewhere around Fisherman’s Wharf. May I add to the comments from Walt and Joy Kass of Joy of Tahoe on European long-stay visas for those cruising in Schengen Area countries?

The Kasses rather ruefully say that whilst they comply fully with the terms of the Schengen Treaty, many Australians simply don’t bother. This may be true for a minority, but many Australians and New Zealanders have dual nationality from birth, parentage or grandparentage from European countries. I, for instance, obtained a British passport prior to buying my canal cruiser, and travel into and out of European entry points on it, whilst traveling into and out of Australia on my Aussie passport. But even if the owner of a boat only had an Australian passport, he or she could leave the boat somewhere, pop out of Europe for a few days, and re-enter.

Also, I was never questioned by French, Belgian or Dutch officials, even though I flew an Australian flag. Technically, this was a breach of protocol because my boat was registered on the British Small Ships Register, purchased in England, and sailed cross-Channel to the French canals. But it was useful for meeting canal cruisers and locals who, strangely, seemed to prefer Australians to the British. So I sympathise with Walt and Joy about flying Old Glory, but in the present political climate I would be inclined to fly the flag of the country where I bought the boat. But I always flew a courtesy flag of the country through which I was traveling, a nicety which sadly seemed to be ignored by many.

Incidentally, I only ever heard of one boat, British, that was boarded by French officials wanting to see papers, and that was after six summers. My encounters with the gendarmes were when they kindly came along to warn of an approaching thunderstorm or, for others, to ensure that red diesel wasn’t being used.

The other aspect is value added tax. Most, if not all, of the boats I encountered had been bought in a European country and had a VAT-paid certificate. To import a boat from the United States seems to me excessive and subjects the owner to a draconian duty. Far better to buy a boat built and fitted out locally so that spares are more readily available and mechanics are more likely to be familiar with the equipment.

But whatever the difficulties, cruising the European waterways is a delightful experience even if, after a few months, one starts to suffer from Kruisheimers syndrome. That is, we had a wonderful evening barbecue on the bank — now where was that and who were we with?

I also have a cautionary tale for your yachting readership. I recently competed in a long, predominantly coastal ocean race on a Danish-built XP 44. The wind direction was constant, so we were on the port tack for three days. Having a considerable outfit of electronic gear, we had to to run the engine regularly to keep the batteries charged. On X Yachts, the engine cooling water exhaust is on the starboard side just forward of the transom, and not that far above the level waterline. All very neat and tidy, but, in our situation, under water. This blocked the system, and we ended up with water displacing engine oil and even getting into the cylinders. The exact process remains a mystery to us and to Yanmar, but it meant turning off all nonessential kit, using mobile phones for skeds, and getting towed to our berth after finishing. It also meant an expensive strip down, but fortunately not a replacement engine. Be warned!

Michael Robinson
Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron
Cammeray, New South Wales

Michael — With all due respect, you are flat-out wrong when you say, "But even if the boatowner only had an Australian passport, he or she could leave the boat somewhere, pop out of Europe for a few days, and re-enter." Indeed, that's the whole problem with the Schengen Treaty rules. We quote from the Australian government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: "Travellers who exceed the 90 days within 180 days period of legal stay in the Schengen Area risk being fined or even banned from entering the whole Schengen area for a period of time."

On the other hand, if you have your boat in the Schengen Area for more than 18 months, it can be subject to VAT. But all you have to do is take her out of the Schengen Area for one day — or even part of a day — and she can come back for another 18 months.

During our nearly three months on the canals of the Netherlands, Belgium and France, we never had a problem with officials. In fact, nobody asked to see our International Certificate of Competency or CENVI certificate that we had spent so much money getting in Ireland. Indeed, we subsequently got a letter from a reader in San Diego who has been cruising the canals of Europe for 20 years. He's even written a book about it. He said he's yet to be asked to show either certificate.

It would make life easier if governments would be so kind as to print an annual list of which laws they are going to enforce and which they are going to ignore, don't you think?

Water being back-siphoned into an engine? In last month's
Changes, the owner of Hana Hou wrote about that very problem during a passage from Hawaii to California. We don't understand how boatbuilders can still get it wrong, but they do.

Please let your Aussie friends know that you can download every issue of
Latitude 38 for free at


If any Ha-Ha participants want to bring donations to help those in need south of the border, I put together a list of the kind of stuff that is needed on the Club Cruceros website: It also explains where people should bring the donations. If any boats can bring stuff down to Cabo, but are not going up to La Paz, my Gulfstar 50 Talion will have plenty of room for the stuff on that leg. So load me up!

Last year I had my all-girl crew shop garage sales and thrift stores for baseball mitts, which are really popular in Mexico. The girls used them during the infamous Turtle Bay 'baseball game' between the Ha-Ha folks and the Mexican kids, then gave the mitts to the kids. It was much appreciated by the Mexican kids.

Patsy Verhoeven
Talion, Gulfstar 50
La Paz, BCS

Readers — Those of us who live in the land of wretched material excess often can't appreciate how much our no-longer-used stuff can mean to the poor of Mexico, where poverty means something entirely different than it does in the United States. Old dolls, no longer used sporting equipment, half-used notebooks, pens, pencils, clothes, shoes, books, videos — all of these things and more will be treasured by those who can't afford them. When it comes to adults, males will greatly appreciate any tools that you might no longer need four of, and women appreciate kitchen utensils and pots and pans.


I'm writing to Latitude because when I did a Google search, the only place the name Brian McGarry came up was in your magazine. Who is Brian McGarry? He is the skipper who, in 1976, put up with my naïveté on a voyage from Cape Town to Salvador, Brazil. In view of this, I would like to pass along to him my eternal thanks and appreciation for that opportunity.

Built in 1905, Fiona is/was a Bristol cutter re-rigged as a ketch. She flew a deep red flax gaff-rigged main and mizzen, which were run up the masts on bamboo hoops. No plastic caravan, Fiona was a beautiful timber antique, with a very sexy transom. Sailing on her in the trades, with all the canvas we could set, was truly a 'before the mast' experience. I hope she still survives.

Fiona wasn't fast. Our best day was 160 miles in 24 hours, and most days we only did 120 miles. But she made up for her lack of speed with capital 'C' class. Where else could I possibly want to be?

May all sailors go with grace. As for Brian, I hope you still stand well on this planet.

Steve Little
Clarence River, New South Wales


We on Ambler tend to do things slowly, especially when it comes to writing on the computer. But we've been working on a boat that needs to be added to the 'lost and found' list that was published in the March Latitude.

The boat is Destiny, a 46-ft sloop. She, with a crew of three, was doing a shakedown sail when they got into a bit of weather about 300 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. Finally they decided they'd had enough and called to be rescued. They were taken off by a ship, and Destiny was left to fend for herself.

Six months later a ship from either APL or Matson spotted her in the Rota Channel between Guam and Rota. The sails were tattered but the mast was still standing, and there was a foot of water in the bilge because the companionway had been left open. We were there when another vessel towed her in. We wish we had taken a photo.

Destiny was anchored up in Gerberville, where she eventually sank.

As for us on Ambler, we're currently in Pago Pago, American Samoa, where the Internet and everything else is reasonably priced.

Tom and Jan Olson
Cruising the South Pacific

Tom and Jan — Talk about an abused boat. She was abandoned in weather that obviously wasn't that bad, and had to make her way halfway to Japan without any assistance. Then she's towed to an anchorage and allowed to sink. Disturbing.


I've had many boat dreams. The one I remember most had me singlehanding, which I often did in real life, in very shallow water. It was dead calm and for some reason my boat didn't have an engine in my dream. Somehow I ended up in the water, pushing the 40-ft boat through a series of narrow channels in some vast Delta area where the water was the color of old bronze. I pushed and pushed, but the tide was running against me and I couldn't make any headway. Then I woke up — sweaty, thirsty and exhausted.

I later did the 2000 Ha-Ha with the boat, and kept her until just a few years ago.

Larry Watkins
Now boatless, formerly of Moondance, Beneteau 40
Los Alamitos, CA


I'm a former Bay Area sailor, but I relocated to Portland several years ago and thus have been sailing the Lower Columbia River. The sailing is one of the few things I miss about the Bay Area, but freshwater sailing on the pretty and uncrowded Lower Columbia has its own rewards.

I presently sail my Pearson 28 out of Cathlamet, Washington, where some local home-brewing hobbyist friends decided to set up a little brew pub at the marina in Cathlamet. They opened a little over a year ago. They are only open Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 8 p.m, but serve a variety of nice, home-brewed beers to visiting mariners and locals alike.

However, they made the innocent but apparently unfortunate mistake of naming their little pub the Drop Anchor Brewery. For several months after opening, they received a nasty cease-and-desist letter from San Francisco-based Anchor Steam Brewing Company. Anchor Steam alleged that the name 'Drop Anchor Brewery' was infringing on their name and trade dress, and threatened litigation unless the Cathlamet amateurs agreed to change their name and logos, and destroy their Drop Anchor T-shirts, growlers and other paraphernalia.

I am not a trademark lawyer, but I think the claims by Anchor Steam were groundless B.S. How even a drunken sailor could confuse a draft beer at the Drop Anchor Brew Pub in Cathlamet, Washington with a bottle of suds from San Francisco is beyond me. I think it's yet another sad example of how a big corporation can use the legal system to push around someone a lot smaller who doesn't even represent a threat to them.

Nonetheless, the costs of defending this sort of suit would have financially ruined the founders of the little pub, so they eventually buckled under and changed their name to River Mile 38 Brewery — because Cathlamet is approximately 38 statute miles upriver from the entrance of the Columbia River near Astoria, Oregon.

We are all hoping that you good-natured folks at Latitude 38 will not get testy about the use of 'your' numerals at the 'new' River Mile 38 Brewery. And if any of you or your readers happen to be up this way, feel free to drop anchor at the marina in Cathlamet and have a better, locally crafted beer than certain bottled beers available in the Bay Area.

Randy Weisberg
Boatisattva, Pearson 28-2
Cathlamet, Washington.

Randy — At first glance we agree that it doesn't seem that anyone could confuse a Drop Anchor beer with an Anchor Steam beer, but it's a little more complicated than that. Anchor actually brews more than 20 beers, including ones with names such as Anchor Steam, Anchor Small, Anchor Porter, Anchor California and Anchor Bock. In that context we could imagine somebody seeing their first bottle of Drop Anchor and saying, "Look, Anchor Steam has a new beer with a fun name!"

The brand of a company is extremely valuable, particularly when a company sells close to 750,000 barrels a year as Anchor Steam does. So the job of their lawyers is to nip in the bud any possible branding conflicts. It might seem like a case of the big bad corporation trying to squish the little guy, but we don't think that's the real motivation.

We've had our share of brand battles over the decades. About a year after we started
Latitude 38, some folks in the Pacific Northwest started a very similar sailing publication called Latitude 48. We didn't think that was the most original name in the world and asked them to modify it to eliminate confusion. They changed it to 48 North, which we still didn't think was very distinctive, but decided we had more important business to attend to. Then there was the short-lived San Francisco sailing publication called Longitude 122. We discussed possible brand conflicts with our then-lawyer Irving Loube, who had taken overall honors not only in a Transpac but also in the Kenwood Clipper Cup with different Bravuras. "Forget any legal action," Irving advised, "just crush them in the marketplace." So we did.

Then there was Latitude 38 Nautical News, but that didn't really count because it was published in Turkey. Next came Latitudes & Attitudes, which our ad guys said ultimately created a lot of confusion among advertisers, particularly because some similar typefaces were used. But we stuck with Loube's advice of concentrating on doing the best job we could with
Latitude 38, and eventually that publication cratered in a pile of debt also.

The fact that somebody starts their business name with Latitude 38 doesn't mean there is necessarily a conflict. For example, there is a Latitude 38 Real Estate Group in San Francisco, Latitude 38 Vacation Rentals in Telluride, a Latitude 38 restaurant in Annapolis, and more. None of these bothered us because they clearly were in some other line of business. More recently a group of folks in Napa started Latitude 38 Enterprises to put on the BottleRock Music Festival. We thought this generic business name could be confusing, so we spoke with one of the principals and suggested that it was in their best interest to change their name or at least make it more distinguishable. The guy didn't seem to think it was a problem — at least until musicians started contacting us asking to be booked in the festival. For about two minutes we thought about having a lawyer send them a threatening letter, but decided their confusing name was more an annoyance than a business threat, so we've just ignored it. Since our name is at the very top when you Google just
'Latitude 38', and theirs is near the bottom, we think we made the correct decision.

River Mile 38 Brewery isn't going to have anybody thinking the pub is part of
Latitude 38, so we don't have a problem with that. We love entrepreneurs, and want to wish the owners the best of luck with their enterprise.


We did the Ha-Ha in 2010 on the San Francisco-based Irwin 37 Lady Ann, and brought one foldable West Marine Port Runner with us. We still have it in a closet, but now I use my 40 YO Raleigh Record as my daily runner.

Cities in Mexico either work great for bikes or not at all. If the city roads have cobblestones, bikes don't work at all. As a result, I loved having the bike on the smooth roads in La Paz and Guaymas/San Carlos. But I don't remember taking the bike out anywhere else. People should also remember that the bus systems in Mexico are so good that they are real competition for getting around on a bike.

So I would recommend not carrying a bike aboard unless you have a lot of space. Save the money and rent a real bike or buy a used one where the streets are paved and the hills aren't too many or steep. My case hinges on the fact that foldable bikes still take up room. Maybe half the space of a regular bike, but they still take up room.

By the way, congrats to the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca for their power-assisted bikes. And for having a Kurt Hughes cat with plenty of room to store them.

Currently boatless
Oaxaca, Mexico

Joel — We agree that cobblestore streets, especially rough cobblestone streets, aren't the best for bikes. Nonetheless they are popular with both Raffa Alcantara Luarte and Catrina Liana, both of whom work at the Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz, a town with only a few half-decently paved streets. Come to think of it, we've seen Debbie Rogers of the Deerfoot 62 Moonshadow cruising about La Cruz on her power-assisted foldable bike.

The one provison we'd include is that Mexico isn't the Netherlands, where the Dutch give bicyclists the right-of-way over even pedestrians, so nobody even wears helmets. In Mexico, many motorists treat cyclists as annoyances. Some brave souls insist on riding on some of the most dangerous main roads we've ever seen. Not us.

By the way, we don't know if you intentionally used the word 'hinges' when you wrote that your case on foldable bikes "hinges" on the fact that they take up a lot of room. But it got a big laugh out of us.


I went down to Mexico on August 24 and was able to cancel the Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for my boat. The short story is that based on my experience, you have to do it in Ensenada. I sort of expected this, but tried to get it done in Tijuana anyway.

Here's the long story. I walked across the border with my good friend Steve Pepper of Brendan, who tagged along thinking he might want to get his TIP canceled at some time in the future. The man at Immigration asked why we were coming to Mexico. When I showed him my TIP and said I needed to get it canceled, he walked me over to the Banjercito and explained to the young lady behind the counter what I needed to get done. She didn't speak any English, so he explained to her what we needed in Spanish. Then he left. After a few minutes, she gave us the address for the Banjercito in Otay Mesa. So we hopped in a cab and off we went.

When we got to that Banjercito, we talked with a young man who was fluent in English. He wanted to see my boat. When I explained that was not possible because my boat is 12 meters long and weighs 10,000 kilos, he asked if I had a document from US Customs certifying that I had imported the boat into America. I told him that I didn't, because my boat had been built in the States and thus had never been imported. After some discussion he had us go to talk to aduana next door.

The lady from aduana told him that he could just cancel the TIP and didn't need any paperwork. But he still refused. There was more discussion in rapid Spanish between Ms. Aduana and Mr. Banjercito. This resulted in a telephone call to the Banjercito in Ensenada. We were told that they would cancel the TIP if we came down there.

So we hopped back into our cab and took off for the Tijuana bus station to catch a bus to Ensenada. Once we got to Ensenada, we took a cab to the harbor. The woman at the Banjercito, who was fluent in English, canceled my TIP in five minutes at no cost. It was then time for street tacos and a bus ride back to the border. It was a long day, but I got the job done.

My advice is to just go straight to Ensenada to get your TIP canceled.

Chuck Losness
Hale Moana, Gulfstar 37
Morro Bay

Chuck — Thanks for the report. Despite your experience, we might still try to get a TIP canceled at Tijuana or Otay Mesa rather than going all the way to Ensenada. There are three reasons we'd do this:

First, as you surely know based on your time in Mexico, if you can't get one Mexican civil servant to comply with a request, you can often get the same request approved five minutes later by another civil servant. It doesn't always work, but it often does.

Second, as you witnessed, there was a dispute at Otay Mesa between Ms. Aduana and Mr. Banjercito over whether your TIP could have been canceled right there. If the woman had been more forceful, perhaps the male official would have given in and it would have been done right there.

Third, whether the TIP can be canceled in Tijuana may depend on which Mexican government agency issued it. Up until 2005, TIPs were issued by aduana, and were nothing more than a plain sheet of white paper with type. Subsequent to 2005, TIPs have been issued by Banjercito, and they've included fancy stickers. If somebody had a 20-year TIP that had been issued by aduana, perhaps it could have been canceled there at aduana in Tijuana.

If, however, someone finds that they have to go to Ensenada, it's not a big deal. After all, it's not that far, the seafood is excellent, and all the marine paperwork agencies are located in one building.

If anyone is thinking Mexico could do a better job of informing boatowners how to cancel TIPs, and that their officials could be more consistent in the interpretation of the laws, you would be correct. But remember, that just puts Mexico in the same category as just about every other government in every country we've been to in the world, including the US of A.


I sailed a Columbia 9.6 to Mexico in 2010, and later sold her in Puerto Vallarta. Two years ago I bought the CT-37 Renaissance. The boat had been sailed down in the 2008 Ha-Ha and had pretty much sat at Isla Iguana ever since.

It took some time to get all the paperwork together, so to protect myself in the interim I carried two pieces of paper, one in Spanish and one in English, saying that I was the captain of the boat and had permission to move her about.

After nearly two years, last month I finally got up the courage to go to Banjercito in Puerto Vallarta to try to get a new TIP for the boat in my name. I was helped by one of two young female clerks who spoke English a little bit better than I speak Spanish. When I said I needed a TIP, one woman went to her computer to see if Renaissance already had a TIP. She soon discovered that Renaissance did have a current, but unexpired, TIP. The clerk said it was not possible for me to get a new TIP until the old one was canceled. Fortunately, I had brought the old TIP sticker along with me. Once I gave her the sticker, she was happy to issue a new TIP for the boat. If I hadn't given her the old sticker, I don't think I would have gotten a new TIP.

I'm now totally legal! You don't know how thrilled I am.

The guy who bought my Columbia 9.6 was able to get a new TIP for that boat the same way.

I live in Puerto Vallarta full time these days. It's wonderful. You can't believe how many places there are where you can get great meals for $4 to $6. And I get great fresh mahi dinners, complete with soup, veggies, garlic bread and salad for about $8.

Larry Burton
Renaissance, CT-37
Puerto Vallarta

Readers — We received a letter from another boatowner who told us that he was able to get a new TIP, without the old TIP, based on a letter from the old owner. Unfortunately, we misplaced the letter and don't know where this happened. Nor do we recall if this was a pre-2005 TIP from aduana, for which stickers were not issued. In any event, we wouldn't count on being able to do that.

The letters from both Chuck and Larry suggest to us that it's not as difficult to cancel an old TIP and get a new one as we had been led to believe. That's assuming that you have the sticker from the old TIP, and assuming that the old TIP hasn't expired. If you don't have the old sticker, and if the TIP has expired, it may be more complicated.

When Paradise Village Harbormaster Dick Markie came to the Encinal YC in early September for his pre-
Latitude 38 Crew List Party seminar on cruising in Mexico, he told us that whenever possible, people should always try to deal with younger Mexican civil servants. "They are more helpful and they know the law better," he told us. Based on our experience, Markie is correct. The young ones tend to be smart, educated and eager to help.

This letter and several that follow have to do with various situations regarding Temporary Import Permits for Mexico. This is important for people taking their boats to Mexico, who have boats in Mexico, or who might want to buy a boat in Mexico. If you're not in any of these categories, you may want to skip this material.


I read in the last Latitude that boats that had once been in Mexico and gotten a TIP can't be taken back to Mexico by a new owner until the old TIP has been canceled. Here's my tale. I bought a trimaran in Eureka, am now in San Diego, and will soon be moving her to Cruise Port Marina in Ensenada. My boat was in Mexico years ago, and the last TIP paperwork I could find was from 1997, and that was two owners ago. The only paperwork I saw from the previous owner, who bought the boat in Mexico before bringing her to Eureka, was stuff from checking in and out with various port captains. The last paperwork on the boat is from 2004, so it's been 10 years since the boat was in Mexico. So how do I find out if the last TIP has been canceled? To complicate things, I renamed the boat and changed the hailing port, but the documentation number is still the same.

Christopher Glass
Nayeli, Searunner 37
San Diego/Ensenada

Chris -— You can check at any Banjercito office in Mexico to see if your boat has a TIP that needs to be canceled. But things have changed so much over the years regarding the TIPs.

For example, they were giving out 20-year TIPs in 1997, and they were just pieces of white paper with no stickers. We know because that's the year we got one for
Profligate. And they were issued by aduana, not Banjercito. So we doubt that they have a record of the old TIP for your boat.

Renaming your boat and changing the hailing port won't affect anything.


This is Chris again with the TIP issue from the letter before, and I want to let you know that I took Latitude's advice and it worked out great. Banjercito couldn't find any record of a TIP for my boat, so I was free to order new TIP online.

But I'm still a little confused. When I read an article about TIPs in a Latitude from last year, you guys said it was important to list the dinghy on the TIP along with the main boat, so both could be shown as being temporarily imported. But my contacts at both marinas in Mexico said I didn't have to list the dinghy, as it was assumed to be part of the boat. I did list it, just to be sure, in the place where they ask for 'other recreational vehicles'.

Banjercito sent me an email in reply, saying my paperwork was incomplete, and that I needed to send them the title for my towed vehicle. I sent them an email explaining that it wasn't a towed vehicle, just a West Marine dinghy. I included a picture of the dinghy and the serial number of it as well. They responded that they would make the changes to my application and send me the TIP the next day. True to their word, I received my TIP by DHL at my US address a day later. Inside was the TIP sticker and a paper listing the dinghy as well. I was asked to sign the Promise to Return on the back of the sticker and email them a copy.

Overall, I found the online service fast and easy to use. I just took photos of all the needed documentation and emailed them. They handled it fast, and in English.

The last time I saw the Wanderer was 15 years ago in Mexico. Wow, time flies. I'm taking my tri to Mexico for the next two years and hope to complete a lot of woodwork and general fixing up. I hope to return to Driscoll's Boat Yard in San Diego to re-rig my boat — and finish getting her ready for the 2017 Baja Ha-Ha!

Christopher Glass
Nayeli, Searunner 37
San Diego/Ensenada

Chris — The problem with TIPs is that Mexico keeps changing them and the rules pertaining to them. Furthermore, a year or so ago applicants got a different TIP online than the one they got if they showed up in person at a Banjercito, and the rules for listing equipment on them was different. We may be wrong, but we don't believe Mexican officials are going to hassle anyone who has a dinghy on their boat that isn't registered on their TIP.


Do you know anything about canceling an already expired TIP? We did the 2003 Ha-Ha and got our TIP in La Paz. We are now in Panama and are hearing stories about boats being fined for returning to Mexico without having canceled their now-expired TIP. Any suggestions?

We spent five seasons on the west coast of Mexico, then shipped our boat by Dockwise to Florida. After that, we spent four seasons doing the 'Great Loop'. We are now in Panama. After exploring the area, we plan to head up the west coast of Central America and back to Mexico. But we are very concerned about not having canceled our now-expired TIP. Nobody told us that we needed to.

I want to thank the Wanderer and the Latitude staff for the great job you do of keeping the cruising dream alive and putting on the Ha-Ha. If it were not for Latitude reinforcing our cruising dream every month, and the Ha-Ha's fixed departure date, we would still be in Santa Cruz getting the boat ready.

Tom Walerius
Frances Ray, Princess 38 trawler

Tom — While the TIP process has gotten much better, it's still maddening because it's been ever-changing over the years and the Mexican government thinks nothing of changing the rules on boatowners without telling them. And then fining them for violations.

We talked to Fito Espinosa at Coral Marina in Ensenada, and he came up with three options for you:

First, go to the Banjercito website and try to get a new TIP. If they give you a new TIP, it means they don't have a record of your old one and you're good. There is a decent possibility they don't have any record of your TIP because prior to 2005 TIPs were handled by aduana, not Banjercito. In most cases pre-2005 TIP information was not digitized, so there is no centralized record of them. Option 1 is your best case scenario.

Second, if you can't get a new TIP, Fito says you could go back to the agency that issued your TIP — aduana in La Paz — show them proof that you left Mexico before the TIP expired, and have them cancel it. He says the proof you need is your exit zarpe from your last port in Mexico or something like that. It wouldn't surprise us if you'd thrown that away years ago. We would have. We think Option Two is the worst option, as we can imagine you traveling all the way to La Paz, only to hear some clerk at aduana say something to the effect that that they haven't handled TIPs in 10 years, have no idea what you're talking about, and can't help you.

The third option — and we think the best if you can't get a new TIP — is to send your expired TIP, along with evidence that you left Mexico prior to the exipiration of your TIP, to:

C/O Administracion Central de Operacion Aduanera
Ave. Hidalgo No. 77, modulo IV, piso 1
Colonia Guerrero, Delegación Cuauhtemoc
Mexico, D.F, C.P 06300.

Make sure you send it by registered mail. If you don't have your exit zarpe from Mexico, send them all the evidence you can that your boat was out of Mexico before your TIP expired.

Some people might try Option 2, which is to show up at Chiapas, try to get a new TIP, and if that isn't possible because the old TIP wasn't canceled, apply some financial lubricant. We would not, as we think the financial downside risk of heavy fines would be too great.

Good luck, and thanks for the kind words.


My boat has a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) from when she was in Mexico four years ago, and thus is still good for another six years. But since then we have added some valuable equipment to our boat — outboard, generator, watermaker, computer equipment, and so forth — for our return to Mexico this year. Can I update our equipment list without getting a new TIP? Should I get a new TIP, or just not worry about it?

Shaun Mitchell
Sail La Vie, Morgan 45
Pt. Richmond

Shaun — We wish we could give you definitive answers, but nothing is ever definitive when it comes to the rules and interpretation of the rules in Mexico. Once you get a TIP, we don't believe you can modify it. But probably the smartest thing would be to stop at a Banjercito office in Mexico and ask them what you should do. That said, if we were you, we just wouldn't worry about it. We have all kinds of gear on Profligate that isn't listed on our TIP. It couldn't have been, because at the time we got our latest TIP there wasn't any place to put it.


I'll be sailing with Ed Bastian aboard Uma Karuna to Cabo in October, and am trying to correctly fill out the online spreadsheet provided by the INM. I successfully completed Step 1, and have a receipt for two passengers to enter Mexico.

When trying to do Step 2, I couldn't find any information in the instructions for the following: Cell A3: What is SETRAM basic record? Cell C3: Consignee or Shipping Agency (leave blank or say NA/Private?) Cell E3: Company (leave blank or say NA/private?) Cells F3 to L3: The next section deals with Departure or Arrival? Do they want our Departure from the US in blue and Arrival into Cabo in orange? Or do they want something else? We are planning to leave the boat in La Paz after the Ha-Ha for six months or so.

Can you help?

Velma Schnoll
Uma Karuna, Islander 38C
Santa Barbara

Velma — It's been a while since we filled out those forms, so we really can't help you. We suggest you contact the INM directly and not have Latitude as a middle man.

By the way, you don't want to get more than one nautical visa at a time, because you only get one receipt per transaction, and that would mean everyone on the receipt would have to leave Mexico at the same time. If they didn't, the one without the receipt would have to buy another tourist visa, and that could take enough time to miss a flight home.


I went ahead and emailed in the spreadsheet and receipt to the Ensenada office. By the way, the email address for this office as well as the website for the INM in your First Timer's Guide are incorrect. On the spreadsheet I put N/A in boxes that I wasn't sure of. I received back a letter saying everything was good, and that all I needed to do was have copies of the receipt, our passports, and that email letter printed out and ready to show if anyone asks. I also received a phone call from a guy in Tijuana who gave me his cell number in case I have any problems. He was very nice.

As far as individualized receipts, in our case it won't be necessary as we are traveling together, but that is an important bit of info for other travelers to know.

Velma Schnoll
Uma Karuna, Islander 38C
Santa Barbara

Velma -— It sounds as if the Ensenada INM office really has its act together and is providing good customer service.



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