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Dinghy Poker Run

The purpose of the Dinghy Poker Run at Magdalena Bay was to practice launching and retrieving our dinghies in a nice calm anchorage (Is the new painter long enough? Should the motor be tilted up or not?), and to sharpen our small-boat handling skills among friends.

The cruising dinghy is more important in Mexico than stateside, because you’ll find about one reliable boat dock for every 10,000 beautiful spots to visit, and each spot has mini adventures that can only be reached by dinghy.

The main purpose is to have fun. Before we started, everyone received a sheet of rules and the list of five-card poker-hand rankings.

“I’m not laughing with you,” said Lauren Latchem when her brother, Sean dropped the painter in the water, “I’m laughing at you!”

Before noon on Tuesday, three volunteer boats with big swim steps had anchored in a triangle off the Restaurante Miramar, and a jolly person onboard each boat volunteered to serve as the “dealer.”

Each dinghy needs at least a driver and bow person. Some teams of three to six Fubaristas turned out in uniforms, leftover Halloween costumes or with their pets in tiaras and PFDs. One team practiced rowing and shifting oars. One team that was less confident in their seamanship skills equipped themselves with cookies and a thermos full of margaritas with which to bribe the judges.

One at a time, each dinghy approached a dealer swim step—carefully, no bouncing off or chipping of the gel coat. First the bow person must demonstrate tying up the dink with a bowline or a proper figure eight, for which the team wins one sealed envelope.

Next that dinghy team must confer to answer a question that has been cherry picked by the dealer from the game Nautical Trivial Pursuits. A good answer earns a second sealed envelope.

Dealers may decide to award a third envelope for a show of expert seamanship, for best dressed team in sight, for best equipped dinghy, for the raunchiest wrong answer, etc.

Likewise, dealers might demand the forfeit of one envelope from a dinghy driver who can’t start the motor to leave, or from any team that accidentally loses a member overboard (doing it on purpose is fine; the water is 75 degrees.)

While the dinghies make the rounds twice, they amass at least 12 sealed envelopes and at the end of one hour, they all raft off the last dealer boat. On signal, the dingy-istas tear open their envelopes and have five minutes to assemble their best five-card poker hand.

Optionally, during the final 60 seconds, the dealers (who have all assembled on the raft-up boat) may decide to allow trading—a king for two nines, a beer for an ace, etc. Gong.

The five best five-card poker hands win the prizes—nice binoculars, inflatable PFDs, dinghy running lights, cooler bags, hats, T-shirts, etc.

We used two decks of cards, a box of envelopes and the question cards from the game, plus prizes donated by the sponsors. Point Loma Publishing and West Marine in San Diego sponsored this FUBAR’s Dinghy Poker Run with some great prizes.