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From The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada

January/February 2007

Volume 5 , Number 1/2


A true traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arrival®

True Traveler Publishing

P.O. Box 60023

San Diego, CA 92166


(619) 857-0368







(A Sample Chapter from our Books)

            We have now been in Ensenada for 8 years and are happy to report that the dreaded diarrhea bug has never befallen us. We enjoy all of the foods sold in the markets, using the common sense precautions, washing vegetables thoroughly and keeping foods refrigerated and sealed in zip lock bags. We eat at restaurants with total trust, sometimes avoiding coffee and iced drinks to protect ourselves from unnecessary exposure to questionable water.

            Water has always been a source of problems when in Mexico. We have all heard the cliché warning, “Mexico is a great place to visit but don't drink the water". Truth is, the locals buy all their water as they too know the tap water is contaminated and unhealthy. Many trucks are seen delivering 5 gallon bottles of water but if you have your own 5 gallon container, purified water stores and machines are everywhere selling water in bulk form at a better bargain. Water can also be found for sale at all the liquor stores and markets in smaller quantities.

            If you are at a restaurant and desire a glass of water or a coffee, the tradition is to ask if the water is purified. We speak a little Spanish, enough to get by. Simply asking "Tienen ustedes agua purificada?" will illicit a simple yes or no response. The major tourist eateries do not want to risk bad publicity within tourism circles by making their patrons sick and generally have purified water.  We are never shy to ask at all restaurants regardless of how fancy they are. Ice is chancy, as its origin may be tap water. Hopefully the liquor mixed in with that margarita will kill whatever bug is in the ice. Drinking iced refreshments at small out of the way bars has been the source of many a tourist's long night spent visiting the bathroom repeatedly. The most effective remedy can be found at any farmacia. It is a little box of tiny white pills called Lomotil. Like magic, this medication works wonders and is an over the counter product.

            We have an icemaker on our boat and in order to keep the ice from contamination we must have clean water supplied to the line that automatically supplies water to the icemaker. We could call  the Marina Coral office and have bottled water delivered by truck in 5-gallon containers and poured into our tanks. This is an option you may want to consider while at the 90 Day Yacht Club. Instead, we have installed "The Water Fixer", which you can find in many marine supply catalogues. This device has two filters, an initial large mesh pre-filter and then a very fine mesh secondary carbon filter. The water is pumped through these filters and then channeled into a stainless steel tube that encloses a florescent germicidal lamp. Whatever bug makes it through the filtering process is zapped in the lamp chamber. This allows us to use the water straight from the dock supply. This clever little unit, costing under US $500 has paid for itself many times over.

            The produce found in the local markets is amazingly abundant and the diversity of selection wonderful. There is no railroad connecting Ensenada to the north, so products found in the stores are either trucked in or shipped in by container ship. The surrounding valleys are fertile with agricultural rancheros sending their yields to the hungry, growing Ensenada populace. Pricing is reasonable, an avocado selling for US $2 in the States can be bought for 2 or 3 to the dollar in Ensenada, dependent on their size. Toasted avocado, bacon and cheese sandwiches seasoned with Spike (found at your local U.S. health food store) on baguettes, with Sabritas chips are one of our favorite Ensenada treats.

            Meats are fresh cut daily and the supply again is found to be more than adequate to keep your bar-be-que busy. Beef is not traditionally aged as in the States so you may notice a little difference in taste. No problem for a good chef with a little imagination and seasoning to correct! Try a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and a dash of Worcestershire sauce in your next bar-be-que bacon sirloin cut cheeseburger to spice up the mood. The prices are again really a bargain. A nice t-bone or New York steak can be bought for 2/3’rds of stateside pricing.  

            Four of the main staples of local life are rice, beans, chicken, and tortillas. They are cheap, fresh, and found everywhere. Many poor families eat these four foods in varied forms of recipes nightly, with beef meals mixed in occasionally when funds are available. Bar-be-que breasts of chicken, sprinkled with Creole blackening seasoning, in bean, rice, and cheese quesadillas are also one of our favorite meals.

            And then there are the bakery goods; breads, cakes, fruit turnovers, croissants, French-style baguettes, etc. are all baked fresh daily. A stop at a Mexican bakery is a special treat. For a few dollars you can fill a brown paper bag full of your favorite confections. The rewards for that long day of toil are often found being gathered on the big round trays at your local panaderia by Ensenada madres of the casa. The crispy on the edges, chewy coconut macaroons are our favorite choice for added calories.

            Perhaps the best is left for last. The time and fuel spent to get that super-yacht fishing machine out to the banks and back could have been saved by a quick trip to the waterfront fish market. Pricing is very reasonable and the supply is unbelievable. The chicken of the sea label comes to mind but that would do an injustice to the flavor of perfectly bar-be-qued albacore or swordfish.

            Our advantage, living here in the marina, is the fishermen withdrawing from that fish-kill lust, quickly get tired of cleaning the 40 or so fish they just scooped from Mother Ocean, and are usually good for a long fillet and occasionally a whole fish!  It's not uncommon to see a dock cart full of 20 or so fins, sticking straight up, being wheeled to the fish cleaning area.

            By the way, the diabolical practice of cleaning fish in the marina and tossing the carcasses is forbidden by marina policy and considered bad marina etiquette. It not only attracts the seagulls, which leave deposits that harden like concrete on the neighboring boats. But a few days later, after the fishermen have returned to their stateside jobs, the stench of those beauties rises to the surface reminding us of a bad B-movie horror flick we have experienced in real life, "The Curse of the Floating Dead Fish”.

            Speaking of seagulls, if it were legal to eliminate these pests with a pellet gun as many of us wish we could, and they tasted like chicken, we would all enjoy many free bird bar-be-que meals!

            Traveling home and freezing these freshly caught piscatory platters is a strange ritual, a fresh fish should remain just that, so the full flavor can be savored. But if you want one of those fish as dinner in the off-season month of December for a Christmas family fish surprise, we can understand the concept. We fashion a foil pan to contain a melted combination of butter and Lawry's seasoning salt or Creole blackening seasoning over the bar-be-que grill, and cook those golden gills 'till they're white, dry and flaky, and a little bit charred on the edges. Cubed-cut potatoes in the microwave with a little water become mashed cheese potatoes to compliment the festivity. Mix in a salad with mil isles (thousand islands) dressing and, viola!, culinary ecstasy on the high seas! Gracious Señor Jesus!


Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.
  Mark Twain




In this wondrous entity we all inhabit, the body, there are many subsystems that contribute to keeping the body vital and robust. We rely on the mechanical structures that contribute to exercising these subsystems; such as the knees and shoulders and the vertebrae that control the movement of our bodies in motion. These joints are connected by ligaments, a thick band of connective tissue that connect the two bones in the joint together, as opposed to a tendon, which attaches a muscle to the bone. A debilitating sudden injury to a joint and its ligament or tendon structure can cause trauma throughout the entire body, making it impossible to exercise the body system and keep it healthy. Many of these injuries have involved a long protracted series of further debilitating medical operations and procedures. An alternative method of treating these injuries has been developed by a local Ensenada doctor world renowned for his expertise in his perfection of his pioneered and now proven treatment. His highly refined tonic requires no surgery, and is devoid of the serious side affects associated with other treatments.

            Dr. Milne Ongley has been practicing medicine for 12 years in the Ensenada area. He previously had practices in England, Newport Beach, and down under in his native New Zealand. His innovative treatment has not eluded criticism and debate. From a New Zealand website “(Dr. Ongley) is a controversial Kiwi doctor practicing what some say is a fraudulent medicine. Milne Ongley lost his New Zealand license years ago, then he fled to Australia where he was arrested on New Zealand perjury charges. He bluffed his way out of jail, fled to Zimbabwe and later South Africa before moving to California in the eighties. Now this banned New Zealand doctor is treating U.S. Winter Olympians from a sea-side shack in Mexico. Controversy continues to dog him everywhere he goes. So is he a brilliant scientist or a fraud?” In contrast, a further search of the internet will yield many sports athletes that are total supporters and swear by his contribution to furthering their careers.

            The doctor treats what could be described as the mechanical diseases of the body. Often the physician of last resort, Dr. Milne Ongley has a remarkable success record in helping "hopeless" patients to heal their back, neck and joint injuries, such as knees and hips, without surgery. He has developed an amazing therapy that involves the injection of a “proliferate” solution of 12.5% glucose, 12.5% glycerine, 1.25%  phenol, and 0.25% (plain) xylocaine. In addition to the healing properties of the entire mixture, the phenol and xylocaine help prevent infection, and the xylocain (an anesthetic) helps confirm the correctness of the injection site by relieving pain.

            The diagnosis of injuries in these areas of the body is more difficult than one might expect. Many of the tissues involved cannot be seen by x-ray examination. Years of diagnostic experience are required before the physician is skilled in these diagnostic techniques. Accurate diagnosis is only the first step of course. The correct treatment is next. There is an ethical rule in the medical trade that states “first, do no harm”. The Ongley Institute treatment involves a method that aids the healing process, without further weakening the system as a major invasive surgery often does.

            Obviously, some injuries are so severe that surgery is ultimately required, but surprisingly a large proportion of mechanical injuries do not require surgery and can be cured without surgery. The specialized techniques that the Ongley Institute has developed have been found to be a successful alternative to thousands of the doctor’s happy customers.  The Ongley Institute use “proliferants”, which are defined as substances that cause the growth of new tissue by the reproduction of similar cells. Proliferants were originally developed by three Americans in 1936. These original proliferants were unfortunately very painful. Dr. Ongley’s refinement was to contribute a proliferant solution (in New Zealand in 1957) that is painless when injected. This made repeated injections possible along with the necessary physical exercises after the injections.

            Deciding to become a ski racer is acknowledging that serious injury is all but inevitable. Broken bones, concussions, torn ligaments, paralysis and even death have occurred from crashes at World Cup venues. As quoted from the ESPN website, “The most important and controversial figure in the tumultuous world of the U.S. ski team might be someone other than Bode Miller. At least four members of the team -- including Miller -- have traveled to Mexico to visit an orthopedic specialist named Milne Ongley, a man who's been both praised for saving careers and banned from practicing his trade in the United States.” Bode Miller also had credited Ongley for relieving pain in his left knee after he injured it in a downhill crash in 2001, according to Sports Illustrated.

            In 1992 a California court ruling prohibited Ongley from saying the solution was accepted medically and was without risk. The California Medical Board banned Ongley from using the “Ongley Solution” in 1992, when Ongley also was banned from practicing in the United States by an Orange County judge. He had been found guilty of multiple violations of the state health and professions code, including practicing medicine without a license, according to a copy of the judgment. From the San Diego Union Tribune dated 2-3-2006, “After his professional ban in the United States, he showed up in Mexico. His website says he's practicing there because he was presented “with a unique opportunity by a new hospital in Ensenada . . . that seemed ideal.” See below views from the Ongley Institute at the time this article was written. The Institute was located here for 12 years. Recently they were forced to move in order to clear the land for the new Porto Hussongs Condo and Marina development.



A recent trip by sea to view the progress of the LNG (liquid natural gas) terminal revealed two new tanks appear to be nearing completion and the big job of constructing the 3 football field wide sized tanker ship dock has begun.  From the ocean, the $1 billion dollar project which lurks below the shroud of hills above is exposed and subject to public scrutiny. No security was encountered on a Saturday afternoon visit, in fact the project looked deserted! From the road above, the hills are hiding a 74-acre development complete with two 17-story cryogenic storage tanks (each containing more steel than the Eiffel Tower), tabbed as the Energia Costa Azul project. Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company with 2003 revenues of $7.9 billion.

           The major concern initially, aside from the future danger of the volatile LNG itself, is the threat to safe navigation around the point known as Punta Salsipuedes. A breakwater is planned to extend about 300 yards away from the shoreline. It will be constructed of caissons built in Ensenada and towed by sea to the site. These navigation hazards will then be sunk and subsequently filled with concrete. In view of the projected confusion caused by vessels attending to the terminal construction and other potential navigation hazards now unforeseen, such as armed craft to protect the site from terrorism, a wide birth is suggested as you navigate these waters. Yes, terrorism, as one of the raging environmental disputes by those opposing the terminal is that a group of terrorists may strike the site endangering those living in the adjacent circular normally uninhabited “safe zone” prescribed by sober and well educated LNG plant planners. The fancy development of Bajamar is a neighbor and has opposed this LNG plant from the inception of the plan. Just around the point south a new huge housing project is planned that is currently taking deposits for domiciles that start at $495,000 in the sales process.

        A parallel and competing terminal is being built by Chevron/Texaco at the pristine and undeveloped Coronado Islands. The Coronado Islands, 16 miles south of San Diego, have long been held as a treasured environmental refuge. The organizations attempting to block this development claim the increase shipping traffic and pollution will disrupt the delicate environmental balance of these deserted islands. For years the Mexican government has protected these islands, not even allowing the small number of pleasure boaters that annually visit to go ashore. They are a popular destination for day fishing boats from San Diego as well as sailors and divers. The Mexican Environmental Law Center has helped environmental and civic groups file legal complaints against the authorization, arguing that the Environment Department failed to gather sufficient scientific information about the possible impact on the Coronado Islands, an isolated bird nesting area long uninhabited by humans.


It is interesting to note that these new LNG plants being developed by foreign interests are not lawful under present Mexican law on Mexican soil. Even so, the Fox administration was intent on allowing this further exploitation of the environment due to a bit of greed mixed with an attempt to enhance the economy of Mexico. This greed though is certainly not one-sided as the foreign interests are as much to blame in this rape of the environment. This could be a part of a much greater scheme, as when the Fox group leaves office and these vast money making developments are complete, the next group in power may decide to seize the properties and nationalize these incredibly precious assets. Will the US Government send troops to Baja to protect the assets held by US companies? This reminds those who are aware of past history of the exploits of the 20th century when the government of Mexico nationalized all foreign oil exploration and development. This led to the seizing of these enterprises previously allowed by government decree in defiance of then existing Mexican law. These holdings were subsequently organized under the now powerful and omnipresent Pemex Oil Company umbrella.

           As the southern gray whale migration begins in late December, one must wonder how this new LNG terminal will affect the navigation sensors of those magnificent mammals as they trend to their breeding grounds in the lagoons along the coast of the Baja. They arrive from Alaska within days and even hours of giving birth to the new whale pups, any deviation or confusion to the course they have taken for generations may affect this reproduction process detrimentally. They also take the shortest point-to-point routes as we do by sea in our floating craft, and should not be forced to deal with this interruption of their routine annual transition routes to and from Alaska.

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            Imagine sitting at a pleasant lunch at a local restaurant and seeing your vehicle being towed by and down the street to an unknown Ensenada junk yard. First you ask yourself if you truly did misunderstand that sign at the curb where you parked your rig. Next you have to find out just where do you go to retrieve your ride now that it’s disappeared into the distance on the hook of a tow truck. And you may also wonder if that was a legal tow truck, having heard of the instances reported in Rosarito recently that resulted in the theft of cars by rogue tow banditos. Finally, how much is this going to cost you in Mexican dinero!

            First rule is never park next to a curb that is white or red and has a sign adjacent with the word “grua” on it. It would be nice if an international symbol depicting a tow truck silhouette was on the sign, but the word grua, meaning tow truck will have to be enough of a warning that you must not park at this location. There are parking spots in Ensenada that are reserved for the cruise ship tour busses; they are reserved only on the days the ships are visiting. Other days these spots are available for parking. This may trick you, as you may have parked in a spot recently legally that is now illegal to park on that day. Another sign you will see commonly is “Prohibido Estacionar” which is translated parking prohibited.

            After discovering your vehicle has been towed, the place you want to go is the Police Station at the corner of 9th and Espinoza. Here you will find a large yellow government building with a Mexican flag plainly displayed. The typical response is to rush to the Police Station and try to get your vehicle back as soon as possible. This is not necessary because the towed vehicle must first arrive at the “yonke” (junk) yard and then the paperwork from that end must find its way back downtown to the Police Station personnel. Was the vehicle taken by a rogue tow bandit? The thought may occur to you as it takes forever for the paperwork to get back from the distant junk yards located 6 to10 kilometers out of town on the road to San Felipe. Meanwhile the folks at the Police Station may tell you that they don’t know where your rig is, because they will not know until the paperwork reaches them from the junkyard.

            As you wait, you will be inside the southwest corner door of the building on Espinoza. After the paperwork has arrived from the junk yard, you will progress to the doors on the southwest corner of the building on 9th street. Here you will be asked to show your drivers license and title or registration. They will want copies of these documents; there is a copy shop right across the street on 9th from your location. You may not have the registration, it may be in the vehicle at the tow yard… you will have to go out to the junk yard to get the registration and bring it back to show to the officials at the Police Station your proof of ownership. To alleviate the need to make this long journey to the junk yard, it is advised that you always carry a separate copy of your registration and title with you, aside from the paperwork that you normally keep in you vehicle.

            After all your paper work is in order, you will see a judge and pay a 73 peso charge for the processing of those papers. You will be given a stamped notice to the junk yard to release your vehicle when you arrive at the yard. Once at the yard, you will pay another 820 pesos to have the vehicle released from the yard. You will find the doors and all the hatches sealed with numbered tape pieces, a reassurance to you that no one has been in the rig while it was being towed or in the yard. If you are lucky, and have a copy of the vehicle registration and title with you, the whole process can be completed in 4 hours or so. At the end of the process, you will have these documents; the judges stamped directive to release the vehicle from the yard, a receipt for the money paid at the Police Station for paper processing, and a receipt from the yard for the money paid there to release your vehicle. Remember, the junk yard closes at 5 pm, so do your best to get this all done efficiently if want your vehicle back that afternoon after your somewhat now spoiled lunch earlier in the day.


Loophole You Can Sail A Yacht Through
Offshore Purchases Let Wealthy Californians Escape Paying Millions in Sales Taxes

Los Angeles Times - Friday, June 30, 2004
By Evan Halper and Richard Marosi
Times Staff Writers

            SACRAMENTO – Amid spending projections and tax proposals being exchanged in Sacramento, a surprising document recently cropped up: “The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada.” It’s a guide to a California sales tax loophole that hundreds of yachts sail through every year, costing the state as much as $55 million. And it is one of the issues still on the table as lawmakers rush to reach agreement on a $103-billion state budget by the end of the fiscal year at midnight tonight.

            Democrats want to kill the loophole to raise money for social services. Republicans want to save it, saying it keeps boating industry jobs in California.

            At issue is the state’s sales tax of about 8% – depending on the county – on most purchases, including vessels of all kinds, For most buyers, the tax is no more then a few thousand dollars. But for boats costing $400,000 and up, many financial advisors say it pays to avoid the sales tax altogether by taking advantage of the loophole in the law. Through it, buyers make their purchases offshore – and keep the boats out of state for 90 days. After that, they can bring their vessels back to California without paying the sales tax on new purchases.

            The tax officials say buyers of planes and luxury RV’s are doing the same thing. To express their disgust with it all, Democrats read aloud from the buyer’s guide during budget talks in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office. “It is just beyond me how they can conceive of defending it,” Assemblyman Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) said of loophole supporters. “It is as flagrant as they get.” The book shows wealthy Californians how to harbor their new luxury yachts in Mexico for three months to avoid paying the California state sales tax. A sample passage: “You may want to use the savings to update the electronics, mechanics or cosmetics on your new boat....You will find much lower labor rates and fine quality results in the work you have performed while in Mexico.” Schwarzenegger has expressed interest in the idea of changing the law but remains neutral. He does not own a yacht. A personal jet he partially owns is registered out of state. Other Republicans want to leave the loophole alone.

            Senate GOP Leader Dick Ackerman (R-Irvine), himself the owner of a 42-foot sailboat kept in Long Beach, said that his only regret about the whole thing was that his own boat – named “Free Ride” – wasn’t worth enough to bother parking in Mexico. “Unfortunately, mine wasn’t that expensive,” he said. Ackerman said closing the loophole would devastate California’s luxury boating industry. He said it would be difficult to find a single purchaser of a vessel worth more than $400,000 who paid sales tax on the deal. And according to the senator, they are not about to start.

            “When you get to $400,000 or $500,000, it’s automatic,” he said. “Nobody in that group takes delivery in California.” Ackerman said that changing the rule means the rich would buy their boats elsewhere. “You will wind up with a net loss to the state,” he said. “We made a good argument to the governor that it will wind up costing us money.”

            Hundreds of Californians follow a fairly simple procedure for avoiding sales tax on their yachts. It starts with them boarding their vessel at least three miles off the coast to make the actual purchase. The transaction is videotaped, so there is evidence to show a tax auditor. The boat is then delivered someplace outside California and kept there for at least 90 days.

            In Ensenada, the sleepy Baja California fishing town where three marinas cater to many Californians avoiding the sales tax, people say the impact of changing the law would be traumatic. The most popular way station for Californians appear to be the Hotel Coral & Marina. The marina provides computer records of maintenance and fuel costs to prove the owners used their boats while in Mexico. Under current tax rules, owners cannot simply leave the boat in storage. It must be in use. Crews and captains are readily available at the Coral, and slips can be rented for four month periods. A hot seller in the bookstores: “The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada.” “The whole reason this marina is here is because of that loophole,” said Victor Sanchez, the marina’s store manager. Many of the 350 slips on Tuesday were occupied by vessels worth $1 million or more. “We call this the three-month harbor,” said Ron Johnson of Burbank, while lugging 30-pound albacore tuna off his fishing boat. Workers at the marina say owners typically come down on weekends to take their boats out for a sail. Jeff Hamm, captain of a corporate yacht that he estimates is worth $1 million, says escaping the 8% sales tax can go a long way toward paying other expenses. Just do the math, he says: It’s a savings of $80,000. “That’s your captain and crew for a year for a boat like that,” he said.

            State Board of Equalization Chairwoman Carole Migden, a Democrat, says she finds it appalling. “People who buy these yachts bring them in the dead of night and park them in Mexico,” she said. “The rest of us poor schleps have to pay up. We don’t have the option of coming up with these schemes to escape paying sales tax.”

            Ackerman calls such characterizations misguided. “You have to look at the big picture when it comes to fairness,” he said. “How many jobs are created when someone buys a half-million-dollar boat? I would argue a lot.” If California changes the law, Ackerman said, yacht buyers will simply go elsewhere. He said it would become more economical for millionaires to make their purchases in Florida or Hawaii. To punctuate that point , he copied a flier for a boat show in Oakland’s Jack London Square and put a big sticker on it that said, “Canceled, moved to Florida.” He handed it to Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles), telling him that’s what would happen if the law were changed.

            Democrats are pushing a proposal that would extend the time a vessel must be out of state from 90 days to a year for the sales tax exemption. Republicans are determined to block that bill (AB 2107), drafted by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys). Democrats want to include it in whatever budget deal is worked out with the administration. According to the state, no sales tax is paid on more then 1,900 yachts, airplanes and recreational vehicles each year as a result of the loophole. Some tax preparers say those numbers, as well as the estimate that the state could save $55 million by changing the law, are overblown.

            Joe Micallef, chief executive at Associated Sales Tax Consultants in Sacramento, which helps hundreds of clients each year avoid paying sales taxes on boats and planes, says the state’s numbers are “way too high.” “There are not even that many vessels sold in that period of time,” he said. Micallef figures that the state loses about $10 million in taxes a year through the loophole. “It is minuscule,” he said. “It is not even worth talking about.”

            Supporters of keeping the law as it is warn that any changes will have the same unintended consequences as a federal surcharge on luxury items signed into law in 1990. Many say the tax brought in less than half the amount projected and wound up costing much more than that in lost jobs.

            “That was a bigger version of what they are trying to do here,” Ackerman said. While lawmakers said Tuesday that they were trying to nail down a final budget agreement today, it was likely that they would need several more days to draft the actual spending bills, approve the final package and send it to the governor. Schwarzenegger spent most of Tuesday in private meetings with his staff and top Democratic and Republican lawmakers, reaching agreement on a plan to shift $110 million to “low-wealth” school districts that have received less per-pupil funding than other districts. The Senate and Assembly are expected to vote today on gambling compacts that Schwarzenegger has worked out with five Native American tribes. The pacts would allow them to expand their casino slot machine operations in exchange for contributing $1 billion to help solve the state’s budget crisis.


The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.
  Henry Kissinger




(baithookerous castoferous)

            I really don’t like to be up quite this early, my typical target time to rise is 8 am and here at the peaceful Coral Marina and I can usually roll around ‘till then in overly padded bow bunk rest and relaxation. Unless of course, that one seagull that has roosted on one of the boats nearby decides to trumpet at the first light of day- as I say in my books, if they only tasted like chicken, we would all have many a free bird bar-be-que! How that one seagull seems to find me when I visit my boat in San Diego, I’ll never know… I digress, the reason I am listening to the 3930th consecutive Sunday pre-dawn broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is the renewed attack of the creature of the depths commonly known as “weekend fisherman guy”. This morning he employed a new means of torment in the waning dark of night to shock my senses from post-rem sleep, absolutely brilliant… dropping bags of ice right next to my bow on the cement dock. I assume this was a necessary pre-casoff ritual, but did they have to drop the bags from over their heads more that 20 times to get just the right ice consistency? Please don’t get me wrong; I realize the necessity of this primeval race in the food chain and many a little 2 inch fish in the marina would not survive as long into their golden gill years if some bored reverse hat wearing “dude” hadn’t pulled them onto their hook and returned them to the sea after a grin of supreme authority and prowess.

            Showing their parents that the wise investment in a new toy (a few hundred thousand dollar boat and a lot of fuel) can show a return (a few fish) is a noble endeavor, although by now that probably isn’t a valued priority in the parental offspring monitoring process. That spare room was now long ago left empty by that rebellious youth; and now has been converted into a room for such crafts as gluing colored gravel onto a framed palette to form an elongated cat to make something called a “mosaic”, or storing that 20 volume home improvement set of books where Johnny used to stack his Black Sabbath albums. A CD collection and a rack of fashionable gold Penn reels have now replaced the old album collection. Standing back with the crew and admiring the docked jewelry reminds one of Pee-Wee Herman admiring his growing scrap foil ball.

            The ice bag wielding squad jumped in their boat and I don’t quite know how they did this, but they started the boat, put it in gear and left all in one motion, as of the boat was already adrift in the slip. A contrast to the boat that is warmed up for seemingly an hour and smokes heavy un-burnt diesel fuel into surrounding hatches. Occasionally one can manage to go back to sleep during the idling process only to be awakened by the cavitations of swirling props fighting to gain purchase on the ocean for forward and reverse motion. If this somewhat stealthy sound creeps into your dream you may think you are being sucked into a vortex or up a straw.

            Later that day, upon completion of the day of fish kill blood lust, the returning troop that was a bit too preoccupied by emptying beer cans must now find a place to clean the newly captured booty. Yesterday, a neighbor who has just bought his first fish finding machine took over a half-hour cleaning one fish in surgeon-like precision, not wanting to waste a tasty bite. All the scrap was bagged and put in the trash, so absolutely no scavenging seagulls were attracted. Good show matey! He was then visited by a more seasoned “weekend fisherman guy” who proceeded to show him his patented speed fish cleaning process. How he didn’t cut off a finger or throw the scraps into the drink as a matter of habit, I don’t know. The practice of tossing fish skeletons into the marina waters is forbidden by marina rules, but is often violated by visiting polluting pirates. There is a Hoover bull seal that resides in the marina that cleans the carcasses as they are tossed, but unfortunately he can’t clean the gull guano that dries like cement on the surrounding boats and docks.

            We marina residents that witness the arrival of all this pomp and color on Thursday thru Saturday are all rewarded for our patience by the exodus on Sunday and the restored peace on Monday. Anchoring out every weekend to escape the carnage is simply not an option. I keep telling the “weekend fisherman guy” about the fish market in Ensenada, but for some reason he is programmed to bypass the trip there and instead hit the bait dock to purchase little fishes designed to catch bigger fishes. What a concept!


People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest.
  Hermann Hesse



            I’ve had many good times on California beaches through my years. The 60's were great years to be young and emerging. Those times were truly special and I enjoy sharing a gratification for the gift of creation during that era. I also enjoy sharing my appreciation of the fact that I was born in perhaps the most perfect of all areas of the world and in the finest city of that area-San Diego. No humidity or bugs, mild temperatures year ‘round, and 20 miles from a country of bars that allows you to drink at the age of 18! Ah, Mexico…

            One day in my 20’s I was hanging on the beaches of Ocean Beach at the south jetty of the entrance to Mission Bay. They since have given this beach to the dogs, literally, as it now is a pooch excrement covered beach named what else but “Dog Beach”. I climbed up the rocks of the beach side of the jetty and dove into the bay side at the channel entrance of Mission Bay. It was a hot sunny summer day and I lingered in the calm water for awhile before emerging onto a flat rock that was almost at the level of the tide at that time of the day and the sea’s flat surface. I plopped on the rock in one quick motion like a seal.

            A group of elderly folks were walking above me unnoticed and as I emerged onto the rock a kind and feeble voice blurted out excitedly, “LOOK, IT’S A MERMAN!!!”… Well, I looked up to see a cute little old lady clutching her throat and gathering her white sweater around her chin, staring at me in amazement! At that moment, all in her field trip party of 10 or so other old timers and myself, and her, all caught on to the preciousness of that moment in time. We all started to giggle and laugh at the abandoned spirit the lady had demonstrated to us in her instance of “grip lost” reality.

            I am occasionally mentally reminded of the day I faced death surfing in my 20's. It was a huge surf day at the entrance to Mission Bay, but this time my surf buddy Brant and myself were at north Mission Beach jetty, the other side of the Mission Bay channel entrance. The only way to get out into the 10 plus foot surf was to walk the length of the jetty and jump off the jetty rocks outside the surf lineup. This we did thinking we were in a safe area to paddle over into the area to take off on the waves steaming through this cold winter morning. It was just after a dark and stormy daybreak, and we were the only guys there at the beach as of yet. Brant caught a wave almost immediately. He was in great mid season form, surfing everyday. Me? I was attending electronics trade school and had not surfed in weeks, and was totally out of shape.

            What happened next will be forever etched in my psyche. Just into the cold winter Pacific and still trying to control my breath and heartbeat, having not even had a chance to get the water in my full length wetsuit equalized with my body temperature, an astounding sight crested the horizon and caught my attention! The biggest wave I had ever seen at south Mission Beach jetty was advancing on my position like a steam roller, much farther out than where Brant and I had estimated the surf line up to be at its outmost length from the shoreline. I started paddling at full speed, already knowing it was going to be impossible to get over that wave before it broke and bore down on me with its full fury.

            In surfing vernacular we have a very descriptively term aptly called the “impact zone”. This is the area where the wave hits the flat ocean before it, after cresting and rolling the foam over the top of the advancing wave. This is a very dicey spot to find oneself, especially if you are faced with a winter wave that has been driven south over many, many miles from an Alaskan storm and now has found a place to jump 5 or more feet from its ground swell height, to crash on some mortal fool such as myself. This impact zone is so named because the wave actually EXPOLDES with tremendous force at this spot.

            Yes, I was not going to make it over the wave, and yes, I was perfectly in the exact latitude and longitude of this particular wave’s full fury impact zone power point. I dove off my board in total knowledge of what would happen next if I did not get as deep under this wave as I could as quickly as possible. I get to the bottom, and actually have my body flat on the sandy seabed, and snap goes my leash attached to my board and I go “over the falls” once, then twice! This term describes the wave sucking you in a circular motion from the sea’s bottom up the back of the wave to the top of the wave and over the crest of the wave to the impact zone again. I did this twice!!!

            As I was thumped for the second time over the falls I began to get very worried about my oxygen level internally and just where was the surface and the air I needed to remain a part of this planet as a living entity. The wave released me and moved on in its march to the beach as I was wondering which way was up? At this point my life existence was in the balance as I was beginning to black out and lose consciousness. I felt the life flow of what was “me” going away, and my last thought was “embrace me” as I gave myself up to death. Not scary, not profoundly disheartening, not a bad thought other than me giving it up to the inevitable.

             I am writing this now for you, so you already know the outcome. As that seemingly last earthly thought crystallized in my mind, I was delivered to the surface for a breath of fresh air through thick foam before the next huge wave broke on me - and I had to dive deep to get under the next 10 foot wave, that again threw me over the falls twice again like the previous wave. I survived that wave a bit more valiantly, without the accompanied personal last rites and was slowly washed ashore by subsequent waves that got more and more forgiving in their smaller size and muscle.

            Back on the beach I collapsed on the sand as a carload of other guys arrived stoked and ready to get out there and rip it. Me, the beached survivor that had just almost drowned, tried to relate my experience and new spiritual awareness of the meaning of life. Deaf ears only wanted the surf report, and were soon wetsuit clad and entering the water.

            Lessons learned; it is peaceful giving up this life and very friendly going toward that next state of being, and even a mistaken merman can survive like one and live to tell the tale. Since that day I have been thankfully spiritually centered and have absolutely no fear of the next realm.... grasp the pebble grasshopper.


I have only one superstition. I touch all the bases when I hit a home run.
  Babe Ruth


Click this photo above for a short bump from a classic Baja band from the psychedelic 60's, the Baja Marimba Band. Note the needle to groove 33 and a third ambiance.

          Julius Wechter (the tall guy above on their first album cover), a virtuoso marimba and vibraphone player formed this band. His widely respected musical influences were featured on many Herb Alpert Tijuana Brass recordings unbilled and largely unheralded. He also played at sessions with such notables as Frank Sinatra, Jan & Dean, and The Ventures, among others. Back in 1962, Herb Alpert contacted Julius Wechter to play on his first Tijuana Brass recording, "The Lonely Bull". Julius hardly knew Herb at the time, and was paid $15 for his session. The Baja Marimba Band went on to tour with the Tijuana Brass and released 5 albums during their span of years. A recently released three CD 36 track compilation has surfaced; find this collection and buy it!




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