Photos of the Day:
Photos Rich Roberts
Boaters Arrive and Depart La Paz as Usual
January 5 - La Paz, BCS
Jack Swords of La Paloma reports from La Paz, "The recent letter suggesting cruisers bypass La Paz this year due to the supposed effects of Hurricane Marty is like 'the news of my death is greatly exaggerated'. This is our fifth year in Marina de la Paz, and things are upbeat and moving forward. Pilings are being driven, lumber delivered, docks reconstructed, and boaters arriving and departing as usual. I see about 35 slips with full services and more to be added soon here in the Marina. The anchorage is vast and quite available. La Paz is better than ever with Christmas lighting throughout, a brand-new Malecon, and great weather (today, Christmas Day, it is 82 degrees, 4 mph wind). Marty has left some billboards down, but other effects are difficult to encounter.
"Been here a month and have not heard of anyone with dengue or seen a mosquito, but a few colds are going around. The shore and islands are green and lush and diving has been excellent with very nice visibility. Dive boats and fishing boats are coming in with happy customers. The people in La Paz are friendly and helpful as usual. We have been all over the mainland and this city is truly special and should not be missed."
January 5 - St. Barth, FWI
With the start of the new year, there is much to report on Latitude's 25th anniversary cruise in the Caribbean. The most exciting is that here, in the lee of Fort Oscar, St. Barth, with the French tricolor flying above us, we have something of a California catamaran corner. Just off our port bow is Mark and Irmgard's Livermore-based Catana 581 Aurora. They and their three children arrived here shortly before the new year, having recently completed their third trip across the Atlantic in 13 months. They were ocean virgins when they started. Aboard with them for the holidays are San Francisco Farr 40 sailors Pat and Bernadette Nolan and son Pat Jr. Pat the elder had big news for us. He tells us that Norman Devant of Quantum Sails and he have bought Sail California, the Northern California dealers for J/Boats. And that he and Mark Bernhard have decided to do World Cruising Limited's Around the World Rally which starts in late 2005. As much as Mark wants to do it in a catamaran, at this time multihulls aren't being allowed. We sure hope Pat isn't pulling our leg about these bits of news.
The Nolans, left, and the Bernhards, right, on the town in Gustavia, St. Barth. The kids were thrilled to later get an autograph from P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, or whatever Sean Combs is currently calling himself.
Anchored about 100 yards off our port quarter is John Haste's Perry 52 catamaran Little Wing from San Diego. Many cruisers in Mexico will remember John and his cat from having done the last four Banderas Bay Regattas out of Paradise Marina. Haste had a tough time getting here. First, most of his electronics were damaged during a lightning storm in Nicaragua. Then he was robbed of the replacement electronics while in Cartagena, Colombia. When he gets a little time, he's going to tell us about having to buy them back from the secret police. He's also going to have to fill us in on the status of Suhuey, the very lovely former employee of Club Nautico in Cartagena, who is now aboard Little Wing. We tried asking Suhuey herself, but she doesn't speak English, and our Spanish is as bad as John's. Ah, the intrigue of the Caribbean. Aboard Little Wing for the holidays are John and Marilyn Folvig, and John and Jenn Folvig, who have cruised their San Diego based Perry 72 Elysium extensively in Mexico the last few years. Also aboard is Ha-Ha vet Mark Sciarretta of the San Diego-based Consigliare, who brought along his foredeck crew, Sue.
Jenn Folvig of Elysium and Little Wing, looking lovely, despite getting seasick on the ferry from St. Martin to St. Barth, ending a long trip from Chicago
John and Marilyn Folvig of Elysium with Suhuey and John Haste of Little Wing.
Yet another California-based cat in the area is John and Lynn Ringsies' Lagoon 410 Moonshadow. The Bel Marin Keys couple had done two tours of duty running crewed yachts for The Moorings, but will be doing select charters on their own cat, which they bought new and just sailed across the Atlantic.
Off our port bow is Warren Stryker's Bounty II Fifties Girl. We met Warren in the early '70s in Sausalito and became so enamored with his Bounty II, that we bought a sistership on which we started Latitude 38. The Bounty II was the first large production fiberglass sailboat ever built, in Sausalito near Schoonmaker. Warren sailed to the Virgins about 23 years ago and has been there ever since. If we remember correctly, Fifties Girl went down in Hurricane Marilyn. After three months on the bottom, Stryker bought her from the insurance company, raised her, rebuilt the same French diesel engine, and has been sailing her like crazy ever since, including to St. Barth from the Virgins, a very nasty passage, just for the New Year's Eve Race.
The crew of Fifties Girl, who battled very rough weather to make it to St. Barth for the regatta: Darlene, Warren, Jean-Phillip, and Judy. The 11-year-old Jean-Phillip puked 15 times, and Warren and Darlene couldn't eat for 24 hours, so it was good that Judy came through.
Fifties Girl, at rest at Grand Saline, St. Barth. She's a 45-year old glass boat that spent three months on the bottom - and still kicks ass.
Profligate, Aurora, an unknown boat, and Fifties Girl, all on the hook at beautiful Grand Saline. The water was bluer than blue, warm as a bathtub, and when a particularly good wave threw boogie-boarders John-Phillip and the Wanderer all the way up the beach, they landed at the feet of international cover girl beauty and Wild On Travel host Brook Burke. We've ridden lots of waves that ended well, but none quite that well.
The first Californian to come banging on Profligate's hull when we got here was Pete Passano, who along with Bob van Blaricom built the 37-ft steel Sea Bear in Santa Venetia behind the San Rafael Civic Center. We hadn't seen Pete since '96 in St. Barth, at which time he had sailed the boat about 50,000 miles, including singlehanded around Cape Horn. When we asked him what he'd been up to since, he mentioned he'd been back and forth across the Atlantic nine times, had circumnavigated Newfoundland, had singlehanded to South Georgia Island, then to Cape Town, had hit an iceberg . . . you know, the normal stuff. Did we mention he's 74 years old? Obviously, we'll have more on him in the next issue of Latitude 38.
Pete Passano, with Marina, his current crewmember on the much traveled Sea Bear.
It was a wild holiday here in St. Barth, made even wilder by a cold front that came down with much more north than normal in the wind. As a result, there were crosswinds at the already dicey little airport, shutting it down for much of three days before New Year's. This meant that there were lots of billionaires, multimillionaires, movie moguls, actors and actresses, captains of industry and others who couldn't get to their villas and/or yachts as easily as in years past. The Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca, who clearly don't fit any of the categories above, actually made it without too much trouble, having flown out from San Francisco on Christmas Day, arriving on the 26th before the winds went wacko. Unfortunately, our $1,100 Balmar replacement duel output alternator was given a side trip to Jamaica by some baggage handler for American Airlines. Bless American's hearts, they had the bag to us in St. Barth just 18 hours later under the most hectic of conditions. Ever since we arrived, the wind has been quite gusty. In fact, Mark and Irmgard of Aurora tell us they had rougher conditions making the 15 miles from St. Martin to St. Barth than they did in their 2,800-mile trip across the Atlantic!
Megayachts in a mini town - Gustavia, St. Barth - getting ready for New Year's. As New Years go, it was a good one, but not a great one.
Private note to Paul Biery: It's a shame you couldn't have hung around for New Year's, when Profligate and you-know-what cat broad-reached together in 18 to 25 knots. It was much fun and the results were surprising
P.S. The Caribbean waters are the bluest of blue, the water is oh-so warm, and the sailing is fantastic!
A start in the New Year's Eve Regatta. Mischievous, the second boat, is 67 feet long, which will give you an idea how long the ketch Sariyah might be.
Want to Be a Part of Latitude's 25th Anniversary Adventure?
January 5 - Caribbean Sea
Here are some of the major opportunities:
February 1-8: Cruise of the British Virgins. Great sailing in one of the world's most idyllic sailing environments. With good breezes and mostly flat water, we expect to hit 20 knots between visits to the Bitter End YC, Foxy's, Soper's Hole, and all the other fun spots. This will be a relatively mellow week, and sailing skills are not essential. The cost is $1,500, not including transportation to and from the BVIs.
March 1-7: Heineken Regatta in St. Martin. As if three days of fun racing with the likes of Roy Disney and Hasso Plattner's new MaxZ86s won't be enough, French sailing legend Luc Poupon, who set the Transatlantic record with Fluery Michon, has offered to race with us. And prior to the racing, we'll have three or four days of cruising at St. Barth, our version of heaven on earth. This will be a very busy week, with lots of racing, partying, boogie-boarding, and the like. You must be or think young, be in excellent health, and at least know the basics of sailing. The cost is $1,500/person, and you must take care of your own transportation to St. Barth.
March 28-April 5: The BVI Spring Regatta in the British Virgin Islands. Once again, Disney and Plattner's new rockets are expected to be there, as well as lots of other great racing yachts, and a bunch of more fun-loving cruising cats such as John Haste's Perry 52 Little Wing. This will be a festive week, but with not quite as intense partying at the Heineken, which is the gold standard for Caribbean wild & crazy. $1,500, not counting transportation.
April 14-21: Antigua Classic Regatta. Profligate obviously won't be able to enter this most magnificent of classic regattas in the world, but she'll make a superb viewing platform with which to watch J-Class yachts and others, and we hope to have some informal catamaran races between the classic races. If you haven't been to English Harbor, Falmouth Harbor, or Shirely Heights for the Sunday night steel drum music, your sailing career is not complete. There will even be a special appearance by Mike Rose, to explain the 'Tot Club. Furthermore, you'll be on the scene just before the start of Antigua Sailing Week. $1,500 not counting transportation.
April 25 to sometime in early May: Antigua to the San Blas Islands, and through the Panama Canal. This trip involves watching the first race or two of Antigua Sailing Week, 1,100 miles of downwind sailing in the trades, a stop at the San Blas Islands, which are more like the South Pacific than the South Pacific, and a transit of the Panama Canal. You must be in excellent health and have decent sailing skills. The duration of the trip will probably be 12 days to two weeks, but we can't know for sure until we get a transit date. $2,200, not counting transportation. Try to get an 'open jaw' with American Airlines.
American Airlines is the best way to get to the Caribbean. It only takes 30,000 frequent flier miles from the West Coast, making it one of the very best possible uses of miles.
Profligate will also be available for charter in January and February if you want to put a group together.
We run an 'adventure' program on Profligate, so everyone is treated as a working part of the crew. Profligate has very large accommodations, but is functional rather than luxurious. If you want a flat screen TV and air-conditioning in your cabin, would have a problem with showering on the aft deck in the tropics, or clink on your glass when you want more wine, this isn't the program for you. You belong on a cruise ship.
For the same events in the Caribbean, we'd
also recommend John and Lynn's spanking new Lagoon 41 cat Moonshine,
$1,500 per person, or the new Gunboat 62 Tribe, about
$15,000 a week for eight people. These are great boats with
January 5 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace
Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? The YOTREPS daily yacht tracking page has moved to www.bitwrangler.com/psn.
January 5 - Pacific Ocean
San Francisco Bay Weather
Check out this guide to San Francisco Bay Navigational Aids: http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/sfports.html.
To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/wind.
The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay is at www.wrh.noaa.gov/Monterey.
California Coast Weather
Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.: www.ndbc.noaa.gov/Maps/Southwest.shtml.
Pacific Winds and Pressure
The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.
Pacific Sea State
The site for the Pacific Ocean sea states
has moved to http://www.mpc.ncep.noaa.gov/shtml/PacRegSSA.shtml.