With reports this month from
Michaelanne on clearance confusion
in Barra de Navidad; from Uhuru on
crisscrossing the Sea of Cortez; from Joliga
II on not falling overboard and Australia; from Velella
on the passage from Tonga to New Zealand; from Nanamuk
on finishing a seven-year circumnavigation with two kids; from
Spindrift on Altata, a place in Mexico
you've never heard of; from Aurora
on cruiser racing in Tonga; from Hasty
Heart on memories of Mexico; and more Cruise
Notes than ever before.
Michaelanne - Whitby 42
Anne and Mike Kelty
Barra De Navidad, Mexico
Yesterday, December 14, three boats came into the lagoon at Barra
de Navidad. Two of them, Saucy Lady and Paraquina,
were planning only to stay overnight before moving on. They hoped
to avoid the expensive and time-consuming check-in/check-out
process - which would have required that they go ashore to the
Port Captain's office, present papers, make a round-trip to Melaque
to pay the total fee at Banamex, return to the Port Captain in
Barra de Navidad, get stamped, and get on with their trip. The
third boat, P.J., intended to stay awhile.
The Port Captain in Barra de Navidad is onto the bit that some
cruisers are trying to slip in and out of the lagoon without
his notice. But they have a boat, manned with two English-speaking
men in khakis, that they are using to check out all - and we
mean all - boats that enter Barra de Navidad.
P.J. was the first of the three boats to dock, and the patrol
guys approached the skipper there to tell him that he had to
check in. He said that he intended to do so, but could he wait
until the next day because there wasn't enough time left in the
day to complete the process. "No problema," they told
About an hour later, Saucy Lady and Paraquina came
into Barra. When approached by the officials, the skipper of
Paraquina explained that he thought boats were allowed
24 hours in a port without having to check in. The Port Captain's
men said that was not their understanding of the law. When the
skippers of Paraquina and Saucy Lady asked if they
could just stay long enough to get some groceries - a matter
of a couple of hours - and leave, they were told this would not
be acceptable. So about an hour after they arrived, they upped
anchor and left.
It just so happened that it was dead low tide on a new moon day,
and the wind was blowing 25 knots out of the southwest. Since
we had hoped to buddyboat south with Paraquina and
Saucy Lady, we quickly made ready to follow them out of the
lagoon. Mike had checked us out that morning, so we were free
to go. Naturally we bumped the bottom as we went out of the channel,
but we got out. While leaving the channel, we noted the Port
Captain's boat stationed near the entrance, making certain that
Paraquina and Saucy Lady kept going. It reminded
me of my grandfather's old farewell: "Don't let the screendoor
slam you in the fanny as you leave."
As it was, we had a very pleasant - if somewhat rolly - trip
down to Ensenada Carrizal, just above Bahia Santiago on the way
to Manzanillo. Having sailed under jib alone, we arrived just
as night fell. It's a lovely anchorage with plenty of room for
four or five boats in 35 to 45 feet of water. It's well protected
from the west to northeast winds and waves.
We just wanted to share our Barra experience with everyone in
case, well, you know. There doesn't seem to be anyone checking
out Tenacatita at this point. We never saw anyone the four days
we were there, and nobody has reported anyone.
- anne & michael 12/15/01
Anne & Michael - The checking in
situation in Mexico is a giant mess that needs to be remedied.
It's not good for Mexico, which is getting a black eye from it,
and it's certainly not good for cruisers. As such, we hope everybody
checks out our petition in this month's Sightings.
By the way, it's not going to be quite as easy for cruising boats
to 'forget' to check in and get away with it. We're told the
Mexican government has recently purchased over 100 high-speed,
outboard-driven, Donzi powerboats to run drug interdiction missions.
In fact, we saw one on patrol in early December by Punta Mita.
They need these high-speed boats because drugs are coming ashore
in Mexico from motherships offshore. In fact, 150 bales of pot
recently washed ashore just north of Puerto Vallarta. The Mexican
government is patrolling their Pacific Coast like never before,
and while not specifically looking for cruising boats that haven't
checked in, everyone should presume they are being watched.
Uhuru - Vanguard 32
Mike 'Lonely Guy' Miller
Crossing The Sea
I just wanted to let you know that I made it from San Carlos
to Mazatlan in almost record time - less than a week. Keep in
mind that the way I did it involved crossing the Sea of Cortez
twice for a total of 425 miles, and stopping in Agua Verde for
a couple of days. My 'speed run' didn't come without some hairy
moments, trepidations and anxieties. I think singlehanding for
days on end just gets to be too much at times, and this was one
of those times. On the other hand, it was also the best sailing
I've done since I got to Mexico.
My adventure began by leaving San Carlos and crossing the Sea
of Cortez to Bahia Agua Verde on the Baja side, a distance of
145 miles. There wasn't a soul in sight, but there were meteor
showers all night. I had plenty of wind, which allowed me to
complete the crossing in about 30 hours.
Two days later, as I rested in the company of other cruisers
in the anchorage, I thought the weather window was going to be
good for the 290-mile trip from Agua Verde back across the Sea
to Mazatlan. I had never planned on sailing nearly four days
alone, but I really wanted to get south, and I sort of wanted
to test myself, too. Two other boats left with me. The faster
one walked away - although I would see them again the next day.
The other boat was with me for the first day.
As you can see from one of the photos, my trip started out with
a spectacular sunrise as Alouette de Mer left the anchorage.
We sailed together that first day in decent but not excellent
conditions. During that time, Alouette took some great
shots of my boat.
I was hoping that I wasn't going to have to motor, as I didn't
have enough fuel to get to the other side. I need not have worried,
as on the second day I once again got caught in heavy north winds,
and a newly predicted Norther was headed down the Sea. If things
got really ugly, I was going to be a sitting duck. Fortunately,
they didn't get too bad, although Uhuru hit speeds designer
Phil Rhodes probably thought weren't possible while carrying
all the junk I had aboard. Nonetheless, the conditions were very
lumpy and exciting. The folks on Alouette were nice enough
to heave to and wait for me to catch up. By now it was pretty
rough and I still hadn't gotten much sleep or had much to eat.
On the third night, Alouette stood by and monitored the
radar, allowing me to catch two hours of rest. Out on the open
ocean you can sleep with more confidence than while in the Sea
of Cortez, where huge ferries, ships and shrimp boats seem to
appear out of nowhere. For example, at 0300, the biggest Mexican
Navy ship I've ever seen started circling Uhuru at speeds
that could have easily wiped out my boat. They didn't contact
me in any way, and they wouldn't answer my calls on VHF. Then
they just took off.
By now, Alouette wanted me to catch up to them so we could
make the final day's run into Mazatlan in company. Well, I fired
up the engine to motor up to their position. But that didn't
last long, as the seas had stirred up all the gunk in my fuel
tanks, which eventually fouled all my fuel filters. Now the fun
really began! In high winds and rough seas, I had to empty out
everything from my storage area to get at the filters. Then I
had to replace the ones on the engine, then bleed the engine
to restart it. All this after three days of very little food,
virtually no sleep, and having to steer by hand much of the time.
Wow, what fun cruising can be! And you thought I spent everyday
sipping drinks with umbrellas in them while chatting up the cute
little Mexican chicas.
After hours of fiddling with the filters and engines, I sat hove-to
with Alouette just 29 miles off the Mazatlan coast. Then
yesterday at 0700, I pulled into a slip at El Cid Marina to rest
. . . and later reprovision, email, and enjoy a couple of nights
on the town. Finally, I was able to smile with friends once again.
Cruising is funny. When the shit is really hitting the fan, I
think I must be out of my mind to try things such as this. But
once I get to a safe haven or another nice anchorage with supportive
cruisers, I remember how much fun it can be. I will now continue
500 more miles down the line to get to Z-town, which means my
Sea of Cortez crossings are behind me. I can now look forward
to excellent anchorages, great surf spots, and lots of friends.
- mike 11/10/01
JoLiGa - Ranger 29
Overboard Anniversary In Oz
November 24 was the 11th anniversary of my falling overboard
and going for a long, long swim before being rescued by a cruise
ship in the Bay of Panama. This year I stayed home and watched
TV aboard my boat!
I'm in Australia now, and find it very similar to the United
States. Oz has five television networks, lots of radio stations,
plenty of newspapers, modern supermarkets and shopping centers,
and good marinas. As such, it seems like a nice place for me
to stop to recover my sense of balance, repair my boat, and enjoy
the comforts of modern society. To that end, I bought a new TV
and a DVD player at Target - yep, they are here, too - plus some
DVDs. I've been watching lots of movies. If I'm awake at 0100,
I tune into the Today Show live from New York. The news here
is totally up to date on the situation in Afghanistan. Other
than that, they don't cover U.S. news or sports, preferring to
cover Oz news and sports such as cricket, soccer and rugby.
Australia might not have a very large population, but it's about
the same size as the United States. I'm staying in Bundaberg,
Queensland, which is on the northeast coast at 24° south.
It is usually warm during the day and cool at night. One night
it got down to 56°, but lately it's been in the 70s and 80s.
We're coming into summer, however, and I'm told to expect more
heat and rain. Bundaberg is a very modern city with a population
of 40,000. The Sunday papers are about as big as the L.A. Times
- but they don't have as many comic strips.
I'm staying in Bundaberg Port Marina, which is so new that some
parts are still under construction. So far, it's got nice showers
and bathrooms, well-maintained grounds, a chandlery, laundry,
restaurant, dive shop, and free bus service into town. It's almost
heaven! They are finishing up the haul-out facility, which should
be operational by mid-January. When they're done, I'm going to
haul my boat to repair the damage I did to my keel at Musket
Cove, Fiji. I missed seeing a channel marker, and it took six
or eight dinghies to heel my boat over and drag her off. It could
have been worse, though, as the tide was ebbing at the time.
After Fiji, I sailed to Port Vila, Vanuatu, then had a 10-day
trip to here. After the first day, my trip from Port Vila was
uneventful. While returning to the cockpit on that first day,
I lost my balance, flew across the cockpit, landed on my ass
and back, and shattered the bucket I use for a head. I wound
up with a few lacerations and a very sore butt. It took me four
days to get my sea legs again.
The first four days of my passage were marked by fine sailing,
with wind on the quarter and my boat surfing to 7+ knots. After
averaging 5.7 knots, the wind disappeared. Then it came out of
the southwest - almost on the nose. So I motorsailed the rest
of the way, arriving with just five gallons of diesel in reserve.
If I would have had to depend on the wind, I'd still be out there.
The currents were very strong on the way here, too. At times
I was steering 20° off my compass heading to get where I
wanted to go. Thank God for GPS, as it lays out a course line.
If you can follow it, you know you'll be sailing the shortest
distance in probably the shortest time. As it turned out, I averaged
4.5 knots for the 1,092 miles. At least there were calm seas
the entire way. My friend John on Oliver Lang was within
sight of me for the first eight days, but he pulled ahead the
last two days.
I lost 10 pounds on the passage, mostly because I was negligent
about taking my insulin. But now I'm back on track. In fact,
if I keep stuffing myself, I'll probably wind up dieting.
On the way here I loaded the Encyclopedia Britannica into my
computer - and ended up losing the sound and some files. I'm
writing this on my old computer, as the new one is getting a
replacement hard drive. It's a beautiful machine when it works,
but I have to be careful with what kinds of programs I load on
it. I have some electronic navigation programs, and it's neat
to see your boat move across the screen or a chart while you're
underway - especially when you're entering a harbor. You have
to be careful though. For example, while I was anchored in Tonga,
sometimes the charts had me a quarter of a mile inland!
I've been trying to catch up on repairs since I arrived. There's
a guy coming down today to look at my dodger and give me a quote
to replace it. My present dodger is 17 years old, so the plastic
windows are cloudy and cracked, and the material is rotting away.
The Oz dollar is bringing 51.41 U.S. cents as of this morning,
so my money goes a long way. While I was in Fiji, I was getting
two for one. It made it easy to remember the exchange rate.
I'm going into town tomorrow to shop, as I'm eating a lot of
fresh fruit and need more. Black cherries, nectarines, peaches,
bananas, and strawberries are my favorites.
I like our President's response so far to the terrorist crisis.
I just wish that I was still young enough to go over to Afghanistan
- john 12/15/01
Velella - Wylie 31
Garth Wilcox and Wendy Hinman
Tonga To New Zealand
(Port Ludlow, Washington)
All during the month of October in Nuku Alofa, Tonga, cruiser
conversation centered around when would be the best weather window
to make the long -1,100-miles - and sometimes dangerous passage
to New Zealand to escape the South Pacific cyclone season. We
cruisers, turned amateur meteorologists, traded weather faxes
and weather grams from various sources ad nauseam.
The typical passage to New Zealand lasts about 10 days, and stormy
weather is reported to pass through the area about every six
days. Yachtie legend has it that you're going to be pummeled
by bad weather once; the trick is to make sure that you don't
get hit twice. Another yachtie legend is that it's stormy along
the route in late October and early November, but less so later
on. The problem is that November is the official start of the
tropical cyclone season, and a tropical cyclone is going to be
a lot worse than any storm.
Weighing all the factors and options, we decided that we didn't
want to pay visa renewal fees in Tonga and that we wanted to
spend Thanksgiving in New Zealand, so that meant we'd take an
earlier rather than a later weather window. We also had the opportunity
to stop about 200 miles along the way at Minerva Reef, a shallow
spot in the middle of the ocean enclosed by a fringing reef.
But since we were enjoying ideal weather conditions when we got
there, we decided to press on. Most other boats stopped at Minerva,
so we continued on alone. One problem with stopping at Minerva,
is that you'll likely have to be holed up there for a week waiting
for the next window to New Zealand to open.
For the remaining 900 miles of our trip, we had either lots of
wind from dead ahead or little to no wind at all.
Our upwind sailing was in 25 knot winds with tremendous head
seas, causing water to gush over the decks and try to find a
path inside. The spray flew over the top of the dodger at regular
intervals. Sleeping in these conditions was difficult, and cooking
was a big challenge. In fact, we hove to several times so that
we could prepare a decent dinner and catch a little sleep.
On most popular cruising routes, the seas are from aft or at
least on the beam, and aren't that much of an obstacle. But when
they came from ahead on this passage, they were. We quickly learned
that it doesn't take long for a little wind to create a sizeable
sea, and that heading into them isn't comfortable. We buried
the bow into wave after wave and, for all the wind we had, our
progress was slow. We wished for less wind.
You've heard the adage, 'Be careful what you wish for, because
you just might get it'. It was true for us as well, since the
wind and seas soon calmed to nothing at all. The ocean became
a lake, and Velella bobbed in the still and flat water.
The calm conditions were a welcome respite once the seas flattened,
as we caught up on sleep, enjoyed more elaborate meals, and pulled
out the computer to get more weather faxes and send some emails.
We also enjoyed seeing little jellyfish on the surface and tiny
electric blue creatures further down. But we weren't going anywhere!
And since we didn't have enough fuel to motor all the way, we
knew we had to wait it out. So the lack of wind became a test
of patience. We sorely missed our spinnaker and spinnaker pole,
which we had broken on our way to the Marquesas.
We began wishing for some wind - and before long, we were off
on another wild ride. People pay good money in amusement parks
to enjoy the kind of ride we had, blasting through waves and
getting soaked, but they know it will be over in five minutes.
After another day or so of being a sea torpedo, we were back
to the windless flat calm seas we'd previously had. By this time
we were really becoming impatient, and the thought of motoring
became more appealing. This was particularly true when we learned
that a low pressure system was headed our way, and that if we
didn't make landfall soon, we'd be caught in a gale. And we still
wanted to be in New Zealand for Thanksgiving.
We decided to do some motoring, but before long the engine quit.
Garth investigated while we slatted around, and after changing
filters and bleeding the diesel several times, finally got it
to run for more than two hours at a stretch.
We finally entered the shelter of New Zealand's Bay of Islands
about 11 p.m., escorted by dolphins blasting past our boat. I
felt the boat wobble a little and some odd resistance on the
tiller - and realized that it was the dolphins bumping up against
our boat. We later talked to another skipper who hit or was hit
by a large shark, which took out his autopilot.
We saw more navigation lights coming into Opua - the 'big city'
in the area - than we had since leaving the States. Identifying
the Customs Dock amongst all the lights at 0300 proved to be
more challenging that we expected, but we finally pulled in and
got some rest before Customs and Immigration opened early the
next morning. Even though we hadn't had a pleasant trip, it hadn't
been bad. We encountered no storms, major equipment failures,
injuries, or notable hardships.
Prior to arriving, we'd been told that herbs and spices, sun-dried
tomatoes, dried red peppers, dried mushrooms, eggs and dried
eggs, salami, fresh and lunch meats, cheese, milk, butter, honey,
popcorn kernels, nuts, dried fruit, grains and, of course, fresh
produce, were all restricted from entry into New Zealand. We
had been eating through our provisions fairly well all along,
and the limited selection in Tonga made it easy to eat through
our existing stores. In fact, while in Tonga we cruisers traded
food items that we had in excess to prevent it from going to
waste. And if we ran out of something, we were often able to
get it from fellow cruisers. So we spent our trip trying to eat
through the restricted provisions. Thanks to the light winds,
we did a pretty good job of arriving with empty lockers. We even
managed to eat most of our nuts, which, when we went through
our snack lockers, we realized that we had been stockpiling.
Clearance was quick and painless, and the officials were concerned
about fewer items than we had expected. All we lost to quarantine
were two cups of popcorn kernels, several cups of peanuts in
shells, an opened container of butter, a small amount of cheese,
some powdered eggs, some open powdered milk, beef bouillon -
and a jicama that we had purchased way back in Mexico in March!
As we write this, we're celebrating Thanksgiving in Opua, New
Zealand, with lots of other cruisers. Here are the facts on our
trip: We covered 1,043 miles in 11 days, motoring 16 of those
hours. We had everything from calms to 30 knots of wind. Our
boat speed ranged from 0.0 to 8.1 knots. Our worst day's run
was just 41 miles, our best was 141 miles, our average was 96
miles. We crossed the dateline on November 13, and celebrated
by eating freeze-dried ice cream sandwiches and having a sip
of port. The highlight of our trip was arriving in New Zealand!
- wendy & garth 12/1/'01
Nanamuk - Endurance 35
The Dodge Family
Seven Year Circumnavigation
(Victoria, British Columbia)
After a seven-year circumnavigation, Nanamuk - and her
crew of Rob and Grace, and children Alan, 14, and Janelle, 12
- is back home.
We spent 2.5 years in Mexico, then crossed the Pacific with the
first group of Latitude's Pacific Puddle Jumpers. We retraced
the '82-'85 Milk Run to New Zealand that Rob and Grace had done
prior to having kids, then sailed back up to Fiji, Vanuatu, the
Solomon Islands, the Louisiades and northern Australia. Property
mismanagement brought us home from Darwin for the hurricane season,
afterwhich we sailed on up through Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
The famed 'easy run' across the Indian Ocean was a disappointment,
as we had 'noserlies' up to 35 knots most of the time. Our enjoyment
of the next leg up the Gulf of Aden and into the Red Sea was
dampened after the yacht Gone Troppo was attacked by pirates
off the coast of Yemen. Northerlies subsequently controlled our
lives until we finally 'popped out' into the Med - where we cruised
for a spring and summer.
While in the Med, we continued with our 'new plan every morning
and change it again at 11' motto. As a result, our initial plan
for a winter in the Med was replaced with quick dash back home
to Vancouver. We had a great Atlantic crossing - other than the
fact Rob ruptured a disc in his back 700 miles from Barbados
and then required six weeks of recuperation before he could walk
again. Thank goodness that our kids are great sailors and were
able to take over his watches and duties. Once Rob could move
again, we continued on to Panama, through the Canal in March,
then harbor-hopped our way back to Vancouver, arriving at the
end of June.
Sorry this is short and superficial, as we had lots of great
times. None of them scary, however. Nanamuk was a little
small for four of us, but I wouldn't have traded her for a larger
boat at any time. She carried the 8,000 pounds of extra gear/provisions
without a shudder or a wallow.
- the dodge family 11/15/'01
Spindrift - Catalac Cat
Ron & Linda Caywood
The first time we sailed our cat from Mazatlan across the Sea
of Cortez for La Paz, we got pounded by the waves and ended up
well to the south. And when it came time to sail up through the
Cerralvo Passage, we really took a beating. So when we needed
to sail from Mazatlan back to La Paz again, we first sailed 110
miles up the coast of mainland Mexico to the seldom-visited port
of Altata. After a stop in the large lagoon with a sandy bottom,
we headed out west across the Sea of Cortez, and made landfall
at the north end of Isla Partida, well to the north and upwind
of La Paz. We stayed at the island for a couple of days before
sailing downhill into La Paz.
Thinking others might want to try the same thing, here's some
info on Altata. The port captain speaks good English - which
is a good thing, because we were told that we were the first
cruisers to ever stop there. He didn't know what to do about
checking in, so he just made a copy of our paperwork for his
files, and stamped the back of our originals. There was no fee.
How little known is Altata? When we got to the port captain's
office in La Paz, they had to look it up on a map to find out
where it was. Nobody had realized that it was possible to get
into the lagoon or that they had a port captain.
The entrance to the lagoon at Altata is marked by the #1 buoy,
which is marked by a flashing white light. If you arrive at night,
we suggest that you go southeast to 15 feet of water and wait,
as this is definitely not a good place to enter at night. The
#1 buoy is in about 25 feet of water. The water shallows to 15
feet between buoys #2 and #3, then deepens to 30 feet again.
Angle toward the north shore after #4, and you'll find 50 or
more feet of water. But as you pass the sandspit going east,
the water shallows to 10 feet. Head toward a watertower until
you see the darker water of the channel going north to Altata,
which is about five miles away. It's easy to stay in the channel
from there, and there is 12 to 30 feet of water all the way to
When we got to town, we found that Gustav at the La Perla restaurant
tried to be very helpful - but he speaks no English. His son
Ceasar, who grew up in L.A., speaks English perfectly. Alas,
Ceasar is in school except on weekends. On our first visit to
Altata, Gustav took me to the Pemex station and used his 10 gallon
jugs and his panga to ferry fuel out to our boat. The next year
our starter solenoid quit in Altata, so Gustav drove us 30 miles
to Culiacan to get a new one. I paid $100 for a $50 solenoid,
but that's Mexico. Gustav then took us to lunch - and wouldn't
let me pay. He wouldn't even let me pay for his time and fuel!
So the next day, we had Linda, who is a barber, cut the hair
of everyone in Gustav's family. It was small compensation for
what he did for us.
Gustav, his family, and all the people of Altata are wonderful.
We hope to visit them again one day.
It seems that each time we visited Altata, we had to wait four
or five days for the wind to switch from the west to the northwest
so we'd have a good sailing angle across the Sea of Cortez.
Having to wait was worth it, as we had a great time in Altata
- and ate plenty of delicious shrimp at the La Perla Restaurant.
Here's a funny thing about the waterfront restaurants in Altata:
they are tents set up along the water. At low tide, all the chairs
and tables are standing on dry sand. But when the tide comes
in, they are resting in about four inches of water - and the
waiters all wear rubber boots when serving you. It's very unusual.
On weekends, it seems as though all of Culiacan comes to the
beach, and Altata is like a carnival. Don't miss it!
We are now in Port Isabel, Texas, for the winter, having trucked
our relatively narrow catamaran back from San Carlos. We're going
to spend the next few years doing the IntraCoastal Waterway and
the Bahamas. We hope all our friends in Mexico will stay in touch.
Ron wants to thank all the bridge players who suffered through
his learning, because he sure came to enjoy it. He is now a member
of the American Bridge League and plays duplicate bridge. We
will keep everyone informed about the ICW - which we already
know is dirty, too narrow to sail in, and has many barges which
have the right of way. On the Gulf Coast part, there are also
alligators and crawdads.
P.S. We've only been gone a short time, but we already miss the
Sea of Cortez.
- ron & linda 11/15/'01
Aurora - Cal 40
Racing While Cruising
My crewmember, Youngla, and I sailed out the Gate last October
and spent the winter cruising Mexico as far south as Z-town.
We sailed back up to Puerto Vallarta in March to be part of Latitude's
Pacific Puddle Jump Party at Paradise Marina. In April, we became
members of the 'second wave' of Puddle Jumpers who headed across
the Pacific to the Marquesas. Our Pacific crossing was a relatively
uneventful 21 days, and we subsequently have been spending the
season enjoying the splendors of French Polynesia, Rarotonga
We are now in Vava'u, Tonga - where the cruising is absolutely
wonderful! After many weeks of open ocean sailing, and sometimes
rolly and dangerous anchorages, it's great to be in an area of
beautiful islands where there is flatwater tradewind sailing
and peaceful anchorages. There are about 70 cruising boats in
Neiafu right now, waiting out a high pressure system to the south
that has created 25-35 knot winds. Some are heading further west
to Fiji and Oz, but most are headed south to New Zealand.
One of the many ways to pass the time here - besides diving,
swimming with whales, kava parties, and umu feasts - are the
weekly Friday night races. They are held in the bay, and are
sponsored by The Moorings, which has a big charterboat base here,
and by Ann's Cafe, a waterfront watering hole. As I mentioned
in my May Changes, I purchased Aurora the previous
May and spent the summer getting her ready for 'the cruise'.
So far she has lived up to the Cal 40 reputation of being a fast
and capable passage-maker. So I decided I might as well see how
she'd do on the race course.
Having never raced before - and still being in cruise mode with
a reefed main - we nonetheless overcame a bad start in my first
race to take seventh place. It was fun and exciting, so I wanted
more. The winds were lighter the following Friday night, so we
shook out the reef and went with the 150% genoa. Luckily, I was
joined at the last minute by Barry of Cherokee, an experienced
tactician. After an okay start, we finished second behind a Sunsail
48 charterboat that's skippered by Mark, who almost always wins.
I was jazzed, and was heard to mumble, "If we'd only gotten
a better start!"
We nailed the start the following week, and were leading the
pack until just before the last mark when - crunch! - the bow
of a Sunsail boat hit our starboard stern rail. Instinctively,
I turned hard to port to avoid further damage. I immediately
saw that the MOB pole had snapped in half, and later noticed
bent stanchions, bases and cracked T-fittings. Shit happens,
right? At least the other boat had missed my Monitor vane. In
something of a dazed shock, I watched as the other boat continued
on to round the mark ahead of us and go on to win!
Back at the bar, I confronted the helmsman of the Sunsail boat,
which had been to windward and was the overtaking vessel. When
I asked why he hit us, I was shocked to hear him say, "I
didn't hit you, you hit me!" I didn't want to make a stink
or protest, as this was a 'fun race'. But over beers, my crew
and I decided that the only thing to do was to come back next
week, dressed 'native', and win the race. And we did, too! So
the Cal 40 legend lives on. At the awards ceremony in the bar
where every skipper who races gets a prize from a six-pack to
free dives, I was presented with a warm bottle of champagne and
told to "chill it".
After spending a short time trying to figure out what that comment
meant, I decided to put Aurora's racing days on hold.
After all, in a few weeks we'd need to make the often difficult
passage to New Zealand. So the next Friday, I hitched a ride
aboard Tortolo, a Kiwi boat skippered by Nyle. He's raced
many times and has had his share of close calls, but has a philosophy
of just staying out of the way. We came in third, but still had
a great time. It got me to wondering if I had brought the American
attitude toward the importance of winning to the South Pacific
with me. One of the things that I've become aware of while cruising
other countries and cultures is the importance of recognizing
and respecting the differences in culture, and not wanting to
come across as an Ugly American. I like to think we showed the
people in Neiafu that we like to have fun as much as we like
In any event, the people and businesses who cater to cruisers
in Neiafu have been very accommodating and helpful. They take
turns running the morning net, which is a great way to find out
where everyone is getting together for fun. There's always something
happening, which is one of the reasons Neiafu is such a great
place to spend some time.
My crewmember Youngla has decided that the cruising lifestyle
is not for her, and has returned to the States. So if there are
any fun-loving and adventurous ladies out there who would like
to join me and Aurora in New Zealand, I can be reached
- rob 10/15/'01
Rob - When it comes to racing aggressively
- even on Friday nights - nobody compares to the Kiwis. They
sail fair, but they like to win.
Hasty Hart - Swan 61
Capt. Rick Pearce
(San Francisco YC)
We're about ready to head down to Mexico for our ninth winter
season. But first, I'd like to share a tale of a weekend full
of problems we had in Banderas Bay back in the late '80s.
It happened in 1988 on my first cruise to Mexico aboard the previous
Hasty Hart, a Centurion 47. After a wonderful meal on
the beach prepared by a local family in the exotic-sounding town
of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle - about 10 miles north of Puerto Vallarta
- we asked for any information about the two marinas under construction
in Banderas Bay: Nuevo Vallarta and Marina Vallarta. In both
cases, breakwaters had been built, the lagoons dredged, and the
shore lined with rocks or walls.
Our host didn't know about the one at Puerto Vallarta, but said
that his English-speaking younger brother operated a parasail
boat out of Nuevo Vallarta, and would be able to help us with
everything there. After reporting that these berths had electricity
and water, he confirmed the information we had regarding the
time of high tide and that the channel entrance had "plenty
of water". Having not been to a dock since leaving San Diego
three weeks before, everyone on the boat was eager to give Nuevo
Vallarta a try.
We got underway for the seven mile trip the next morning, and
while underway spoke with a cruiser inside 'Nuevo' who once again
confirmed the time of high tide and that there would be plenty
of water for our deep draft boat to enter. It was indeed high
tide when we arrived, and as we slowly entered between the breakwaters,
the waves gently lifted us a half a foot or so, carrying us forward.
About halfway in, mid-channel, we touched bottom! At the end
of the next lift, we touched again - this time much more noticeably.
Soon we were stuck. It was then that I learned just about everything
I would ever need to learn about trusting people who assured
us there was plenty of water for us to enter a channel.
For the next hour - with the tide visibly receding - we ran down
the list of things to do to get unstuck. We hung several heavy
sails off the end of the boom, then wung it out as far as we
could to induce heel. One of the crew got in the tender and roared
around in circles trying to create wavelets to break us free
so we could wiggle through. With Hart at the wheel trying to
motor forward, the rest of the guests comically tried to add
their weight to the end of the boom.
We'd made a little bit of progress before a growing crowd, but
with the tide going out it seemed as though we might be stuck
for a long time. Then our hero arrived in his parasail boat.
He took a line from our boat, and with just a little more commotion
on our part, helped us charge through the last of the mud and
into the deeper water of the lagoon.
This was just the beginning of the story, for we quickly discovered
that the marina only had 30 foot slips, so larger boats tied
up diagonally and every which way. What's more, the new wooden
docks were already coming apart! About six of the boats did have
electrical service - via a single extension cord running to a
building under construction on the shore. There was other construction
going on as well, but nothing was finished or open. It was one
of those, 'no phone, no food, no sex' places. As if we weren't
disappointed enough, you can imagine how happy we were to learn
that we'd come in on what would be the highest tide for the next
2.5 weeks! Thinking this part of the cruise was over, Hart, the
owner, his guest, and the rest of the crew abandoned ship for
a hotel downtown.
I stayed with the boat, but retreated to the shade of a partially
built wall to share some cervezas with the parasail driver who
had towed us in and with a few of his amigos. I soon discovered
that our rescuing parasail driver was, in fact, the brother of
the man we had met the previous night at La Cruz. Before the
last Corona was consumed, he and his friends assured me that
it would be no problema for them to tow Hasty Hart out
of the marina the next day - even though the tide would be lower.
Unlike everyone else, it turned out they could be believed.
At first light the next morning, one parasail boat took a line
from our boat, another took a line from our stern, and my hero-friend
took the spinnaker halyard. By pulling on the spinnaker halyard,
our friend was able to keep the gunnel awash. Meanwhile, the
other two boats pulled on the bow and stern - and although we
did bounce lightly a couple of times, we made it out - sideways!
Fortunately, Wauquiez builds very strong boats, so the boat wasn't
hurt, and Hart's wallet only slightly.
I've been back to Nuevo Vallarta many times since, but I'm sorry
to say that I've never met up with these amigos again, and cannot
remember their names.
As you can tell from the additional print below, there is even
more to my story of trying to find good berthing in Puerto Vallarta
back in '88. After I got out of the Nuevo Vallarta channel, I
headed a couple of miles over to the entrance to the Puerto Vallarta
Harbor. After passing a cruise ship on my way in, I spotted a
line of anchored boats - some work boats, some cruisers - in
what came to be known as the Entrada. Lo and behold, right in
the middle of all these boats was a gap, which looked for the
world as if it had been reserved for me and Hasty Hart.
Back then, I had very little anchoring experience, let alone
anchoring experience alone. Nonetheless, I decided to do the
deed. I got the bow anchor down, backed in, launched the Avon,
and rowed a Danforth ashore that I set above the tide line. Feeling
rather proud of myself, I rowed off in search of Hart to tell
him the good news. He was easily found and very much relieved
to hear the news - especially since he'd just returned from a
cab ride up to Nuevo Vallarta where he had found his boat missing!
Nobody had witnessed my departure, and by then the parasail boats
were all out working. But all's well that ends well, and an exceptional
champagne lunch soon followed.
No, the story is not over. After the champagne lunch, it was
time to row back to Hasty Hart for a little siesta. She
looked splendid there with the other boats, and I noticed that
the tide had gone out. As I got close, I began to see things
in the murky water. I thought they might be rays or fish, but
they weren't moving. I was starting to get a bad feeling as I
reached for my mask and snorkel, because in my mind's eye, the
shadows were starting to look like rusty metal fingers.
I carefully lowered myself down the ladder into the water, getting
my head underwater as soon as possible. With one look around,
I could see that it was indeed jagged metal under Hasty Hart,
the jagged metal of the bottom half of a rusting away boat. I
had anchored directly above an unmarked derelict. After inspecting
all around and forward to deeper water, I realized just how lucky
I had been (again). The rusting hull was almost twice as long
as Hasty Hart's, and had several jagged ruins reaching
up to within three feet of the surface, however it was all clear
ahead! So I retrieved the beach anchor and slowly motored the
hell out of there. But to where?
As I looked ahead, I saw the obviously new entrance to the yet
to be built Marina Vallarta. Knowing this would be my third strike
- but that the tide would at least soon be rising - I motored
on in with "plenty of water". Except for birds and
iguanas I was all alone. It was a beautiful spot, and there weren't
any docks or buildings in yet. I dropped the anchor there in
the middle of the empty marina. All I had left to do was to row
back to Hart's hotel and let him know where I had now moved his
- rick 11/15/01
Rick - Years have passed, but you may
be pleased to learn that Nuevo Vallarta hasn't changed much.
It's a funky place, with all kinds 50-footers crammed into 30-foot
slips anyway they can. The water and electrical service is still
sporadic. Worst of all, deep draft boats are still getting stuck
in the channel. But there is now a full time dredge in operation,
so that should be a thing of the past.
It's new, it's fun, and it's for charity! On March 12 - two days
before the start of the Banderas Bay Regatta - everyone is invited
to participate in the first annual Spinnaker Cup, from Punta
de Mita to Nuevo Vallarta. You can participate with either your
boat - so far the Perry 52 cat Little Wing, the 45-ft
Capricorn Cat, and the 63-ft Profligate have committed
- or by donating $25 to be a guest on one of the boats. The crews
will gather at Punta de Mita for fun and games on the beach,
followed by a festive lobster lunch at the beachside palapas.
When the afternoon breeze comes up, everybody will be shuttled
out to the boats, the chutes will be hoisted, and stereos will
be turned up loud, and the dancing will begin. For the next two
hours or so, everyone should enjoy some of the warmest and sweetest
spinnaker sailing - and socializing - in the world. There will
be no starting line, no finish line, and no handicaps, and any
boat that pulls into the lead will be expected to jibe until
the others catch up. We're talking about serious fun! All the
proceeds will go to the Banderas Bay Regatta Committee - which
approves of the Spinnaker Cup - for distribution among local
charities. More info next month!
"I'm having a marvelous time in Phuket, Thailand, but it's
dangerous here," reports longtime San Francisco cruiser
Dave Kopec of Meander. "Last week, an Aussie named
Ferguson received a telephone call that his boat was on fire
in her slip at Yacht Haven Marina near Phang Na Bay. He roared
back - including through a village at 50 mph - to find things
under control. But back at the Muslim village he had raced through
- which only exists because of the money yachts pour into the
area - the locals took offense at his speeding. They formed a
mob and came down to the marina shouting, "Kill Americans!
Kill British!" They dragged Ferguson off his boat and stoned
him. Yes, they stoned him! He only escaped by swimming for his
life. He was later hospitalized and arrested for his own protection.
All this happened within 200 meters of our group of yachts, so
we created a defense perimeter and formed a battle plan. Fortunately,
neither was needed. We believe the mob was going to get a Ramadan
blessing from the Imam of Malaysia." This information was
forwarded by Jan Pehrson of Sausalito and Florida.
Thanks to Osama Yo Mama, at the beginning of the year cruising
skippers in Southeast Asia must decide what to do. Should they
- despite the warnings of the U.S. State Department - continue
across the Indian Ocean and up the Red Sea to the Med, and in
so doing run the gauntlet of Muslim countries? Should they stay
in Southeast Asia another year? Or should they sail across the
Indian Ocean, around South Africa, and up the Atlantic, skipping
the Med altogether? It's not an easy decision.
If any of them decide on the latter option, they may want to
check out Sail Africa, The Cape of Good Hope Cruising Route at
This website is run by "Bob", who has five years of
experience sailing some of these waters aboard his ketch Seerose.
Although Bob actually did the reverse course - sailing from South
Africa to Southeast Asia by way of the African side of the Mozambique
Channel - the site has a great deal of useful information regarding
passage planning, charts, ports and approaches, immigration,
services, and weather in that part of the world. It's particularly
good if you're interested in the 'waters less travelled' of Mozambique,
Tanzania, Zanzibar and Kenya.
Catch of the summer? We were surfing the web last month when
we stumbled across Guy and Deborah Bunting's webpage for their
cruise aboard Élan, the Morrelli and Melvin catamaran
that Guy built in Vista. In the site they reported having so
much fun catching and eating seafood in the Sea of Cortez during
the summer of '00, that they decided to spend the summer of '01
there also. How was the fishing? You be the judge by checking
out the photo on the previous page. Guy said they had calamari
The folks in Grenada - located near the bottom of the crescent
of islands in the Eastern Caribbean known as the Lesser Antilles
- were recently cautioned about the possibility of tsunamis caused
by the eruptions of an underwater volcano with the cool name
of Kick'em Jenny. This puzzled us, because we've sailed by Kick'em
Jenny several times, and remember it as towering nearly 700 feet
high above the Caribbean Sea, not lurking 500 feet down. It turns
out that Kick'em Jenny the volcano is about five miles to the
north of Grenada, while Kick'em Jenny the rock is about three
miles to the northeast of that. In any event, knowing the folks
in Grenada, nobody is lying awake at night worrying about tsunamis.
Grenada is such a Garden of Eden environment, that we don't think
the locals worry much about anything.
"We claim to be the first 2001 Ha-Ha boat to sail as far
north as Puerto Escondido in the Sea of Cortez," write Dave
Gilman and Tint Khine of the San Francisco-based F-31 Prime
Directive. "We got up here on November 16 - just six
days after the awards party - following overnights at Frailes,
Muertos, Caleta Partida, Escuela, and Agua Verde. While at Muertos,
we traded some Pringles chips for some tuna from fellow Ha-Ha
boat Desperado, as those guys were still hooking 'em. At Partida,
we had some great swimming and a potluck with Ed and Daisy, a
couple of more Ha-Ha'ers on the Florida-based CSY 44 Siesta.
At Aqua Verde, we tucked into a shallow cove with a stern line
ashore, and were completely secluded. Having only used one gallon
of fuel during the entire Ha-Ha, we really started burning it
after rounding the East Cape of Baja and heading up into the
Sea of Cortez. In fact, I nominate our 9.9 hp outboard as the
hardest working piece of gear on our boat during the northbound
leg, as it pushed us through steep chop for countless hours,
with the prop often getting nothing but air. (While heading south
on the Ha-Ha, our autopilot was the hardest working piece of
gear, struggling to straighten us out each time we accelerated
down the face of a big swell. Whoa!)
"Puerto Escondido was our destination for meeting our friends
who drove our truck and trailer two-thirds of the way down the
Baja Peninsula," continue Dave and Tint, "so imagine
our entering the inner harbor to find another F-31! After being
the baby multihull in the Ha-Ha fleet, we were freaked to find
Al and Cindy Pagel with UFO ready to start their trip
south. On the 20th, as we were de-rigging our boat for the long
drive home, more Ha-Ha friends - Dave and Merry Wallace aboard
the Redwood City-based Amel Maramu 46 Air Ops - pulled
in. We completed our entire Ha-Ha - four weeks and a day after
we left - by pulling into our parking spot at Alameda Marina
on November 25. I guess that makes us one of the fastest Ha-Ha
boats to make a round trip - although we didn't do a 'Baja Bash'.
Do you think we could have crammed anymore into our vacation?"
After the Ha-Ha, we asked Tint if she'd ever been scared. She
said she had not. Confession must be good for the soul, because
about 15 minutes later she sheepishly returned to admit she had
been scared a couple of times - specifically during her 0300
to 0600 watch when there was a good breeze and the spinnaker
was up. Although she knew better, she was concerned that the
tri might flip. We know the feeling Tint. We get the irrational
fear that Profligate might flip - but only when other
people are driving.
Another quick roundtrip: "I just wanted to let you know
that I thought the Ha-Ha was pretty dang fun, and that all the
parties were great," writes Angela the Surf Queen, who crewed
aboard Richard Bernard's Valiant 42 Surf Ride. "I
helped Ricardo bring the boat back to San Diego, and we stopped
at Bahia Santa Maria to surf for a couple of days before continuing
on. We had a pretty mellow 'bash'. When we got back, Ricardo
had me come along to look at a big cat in Newport Beach, as he
needs a boat with room for more surfboards. I liked the cat we
saw, but he thought it had "too much fluff". Anyhow,
I'm having Mexico withdrawls and may return in January."
"This is a little out of date because I've been so busy,
but my cat was dismasted late this summer while pacing some TransPac
boats back to the mainland," reports Keith MacKenzie of
the Vancouver-based - although she's never been there - Crowther
45 cat What's Up Doc. "I lost the mast just before
midnight about 100 miles from Kauai while turning on the radar.
There was a squall right on top of me, and I was too slow to
dump the sheets. Prior to the mast jumping ship, the wind had
been blowing in the high 30s and I'd been pushing the boat harder
than I should - 10 to 12 knots to windward under a double-reefed
main and a jib. What happened is the mast base failed - allowing
the rig to jump cleanly off the deck and over the side! If I'd
had crew, I might have been able to save it. Since I was alone,
I had to cut the mast and sails free before they damaged the
boat. Ironically, I'd been heading to Vancouver to get a new
mast. Now I have to replace it and do a refit in Hawaii - about
the most expensive place possible. What's Up Doc is currently
at the Ko Olina Marina on Oahu, and by the new year should be
fitted with a Crowther-designed spreaderless carbon rotating
rig. Once the rig is in, I'll be offering my Blue Water Catamaran
Expedition charters to Palmyra until the end of spring. Then
I'll sail to the Northwest, and later down the coast to San Diego
to participate in the 2002 Ha-Ha. I tried to get on one of the
cats in this year's Ha-Ha, but was too late! Folks can check
out my site at www.bluewatercat.com."
It seems to us that far too many custom cats lose their rigs.
When we had Profligate built, we upped the mast specs
significantly from what the designer called for. Then the mast
builder upped them some more. After two scary years of being
unable to keep the spar in column on the smooth waters of San
Francisco Bay, we replaced it with a much bigger extrusion -
and are delighted we did. By the way, the old mast has been sunning
itself atop Harbor Boat Works in Santa Barbara for the last two
years, and is rested and ready for anybody building a light 55-footer
and wanting a bargain on the mast and rigging.
"There was a letter in your November issue from a Dean Dietrich
who asked about places to safely store a yacht in the Caribbean,"
writes Victoria Yarnold, Manager of the Lagoon Marina and Hotel
on the island of St. Vincent in the Eastern Caribbean country
of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. "You mentioned many islands
in your reply, but as seems the norm, our island of St. Vincent
was not mentioned. I'd like everyone to know that we operate
a full service marina in the Blue Lagoon area, complete with
dockage, fuel, laundry services, supermarket, boutique, 19-room
hotel, and many other services. We are part of Sunsail/Stardust
(First Choice Marine Division), and therefore have Sunsail and
Stardust boats berthed here. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is
definitely one of the most untouched and unspoiled places in
the world, and offers some of the very best sailing and diving.
It's a shame that we get forgotten so frequently. Maybe you could
do a feature on St. Vincent and the Grenadines! Visting yachtsmen
and women are always warmly welcomed here. Our half-priced drinks
every evening whilst getting the best view of the green flash
at sunset can't be beaten. Please visit our website at www.lagoonmarina.com
- or better yet, visit us in person."
Thanks for the info Victoria. We kicked around the Caribbean
quite a bit, but only spent a little time at St. Vincent. Your
place looks great in the photos. Within the next year, we plan
to sail from Grenada to the British Virgins, in which case we'd
certainly stop by.
Most mariners assume that being a harbormaster is a cushy and
routine job. Not so. Last month, for example, a slimy fellow
reeking of fish slid his way into the Harbormaster's Office at
Paradise Marina just north of Puerto Vallarta, and inquired about
a slip. Manuel, the harbormaster's assistant, tried to be as
nice as possible, and was able to find a temporary space for
Mr. Seal. That's when things turned unpleasant, as Mr. Seal wouldn't
sign the berthing agreement, and then began barking about a reduced
rate because he didn't need electricity! So it goes.
"My 2001 cruising season can be summed up in 11 words: seven
months, 4,300 miles, and lots of great friends and adventures,"
reports John Keen of the Gulf 32 Pilothouse Knot Yet.
"The season saw me travelling from Townsville, Australia,
to Phuket, Thailand, via Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Knot
Yet is currently on the hard in Boat Lagoon, Phuket, while
I return to California for the holidays."
"It's been a year since we did the Ha-Ha, so we thought
we'd check in," report Keith and Kelly Mackenzie - and their
sons Kris and Kyle - aboard the Edmonton, Alberta-based TransPac
49 Scalawag. "We're currently in Golfito, Costa Rica,
and have been enjoying this country for over three months as
we s-l-o-w-l-y work our way toward Panama. Although Panama was
not our original destination, it's where we're headed now. When
it comes to cruiser plans, 'he who changes his mind the most,
wins'. We may be in the lead. We're thinking of going down to
Ecuador in February to do a circle that includes the Galapagos,
Cocos Island and then returning to Panama in June. A few other
boats have done it, and we hear that there are some places to
haul and do repairs that are much less expensive than Panama
or Costa Rica. Plus we can see some different cultures, even
before travelling to Peru and Chile by land. If anybody wants
to buddyboat with us, the more the merrier!
"We've also just read Chewbacca's thoughts on homeschooling
being easier the second year - and agree," the Mackenzies
continue. "We feel sorry for those families who gave up
after the first year. For example, for today's studies Kyle,
9, and Kris, 11, had to write a menu for a full meal that they
would prepare. This required making recipies, a shopping list,
colored paper menus, and a plan of attack. It helped them realize
that preparing an onboard meal with limited supplies can be a
challenge - especially when some key ingredients simply aren't
available in Costa Rica. I'll let you know how the meal turns
out. The key to homeschooling? Flexibility."
Greetings from the anchorage at La Cruz, about 11 miles north
of Puerto Vallarta," write John and Susan Pazera of the
South San Francisco-based Tayana 42 Compania. "After
1,634 miles - 224 engine hours, and 90 hours of sailing - we
have arrived at cruisers' Nirvana. After the Ha-Ha we sailed
to Mazatlan, and then on December 8 left for 88-mile distant
Isla Isabella. Anchoring at the small and rocky offshore bird
sanctuary is a little tricky, but was a great place for a stopover,
and afforded great hiking among an amazing array of birdlife.
We're told the snorkeling is also terrific, but John was sidelined
with a sinus cold. We then made the 42-mile passage to the fabulous
little seaside village of Chacala, which used to be a coconut
plantation. It has a great beach and you can spend the afternoon
digging your feet in the sand at a palapa restaurant and watching
the ocean. The local Mexicans are - as they are everywhere -
very friendly and quick with a smile.
"We finally arrived at our nirvana - Banderas Bay - on December
11, and currently have the hook down at La Cruz, about 10 miles
from Puerto Vallarta proper," they continue. "You dinghy
ashore and tie up at Cruisers Connection, where you can get freshwater,
throw out your garbage, and buy cold cervezas for about 90 cents.
Peaceful La Cruz has cobblestone streets, lots of tiendas and
little restaurants, and blooming bougainvillea everywhere. Quite
a few cruisers have settled here and provide services that are
a big help to active cruisers such as ourselves. Is cruising
expensive in Mexico? In most places margaritas haven't been more
than 350 pesos - less than $3 U.S. - and at luxurious El Cid
Marina in Mazatlan, they were just 250 pesos. Lunches run about
$5 U.S. and dinners about $8 U.S. Yesterday, we got a huge pile
of laundry washed and folded for $11 U.S. And for just $1.50,
we can catch an air-conditioned bus for the 40-minute ride into
Puerto Vallarta. We're inclined to spend Christmas and New Years
on the hook here in La Cruz, and after that we'll see about checking
into a marina to give the boat a good scrubbing. We'll probably
resume heading south by mid-January. We are still buddyboating
with our Ha-Ha friends Richard and Dana on Islander Freeport
36 Magic Mist from San Diego via Arizona, and Ron and
Sue Powell and their daughters Katharine and Christine aboard
the Seattle-based Tartan 41 Dulcinea."
We're surprised, John and Susan, that you didn't mention Philo's
Music Studio, Restaurant and Bar in La Cruz. A member of the
previous Ha-Ha, Philo Hayward has interuppted his cruising aboard
his Cal 36 Cherokee Spirit for the winter to operate the
music hall/bar/restaurant that he bought. Check it out.
"After being part of the Ha-Ha in '99, we cruised Mexican
waters until March of this year, at which time we did the Puddle
Jump," report Jerry and Barbara Phillips of the San Francisco-based
Pearson 424 ketch Free Spirit. "We're now in Whangarei,
New Zealand, having really enjoyed our wandering through the
Marquesas, Tuamotus, Societies, Rarotonga, Niue, Tonga, and Fiji.
We plan on leaving our boat on the hard for a year and land travel
in the U.S. and Europe, then return to our boat in New Zealand
for more sailing adventures. We love the retired lifestyle!"
Do you speak Spanish? If so, can you confirm that the following
message - a partir del 5 de diembre del 2001 nuestra nueva direccion
de correo electronico es:
- means that the Hemingway International
YC just outside Havana, Cuba, has a new email address? By the
way, we got the message a little late, but our old amigo Commodore
Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich cordially invited all sailors to enjoy
the hospitality of the people of Havana by participating in the
club's Happy New Year Race, which was to take place on December
29 over a four-mile course between Santa Fe, Marina Hemingway,
and Jaimanitas. It was open to spinnaker and non-spinnaker monohulls,
and multihulls, and there was to be a big awards party afterward.
If you missed it this year, we're sure they'll do it again next
year. Won't it be great when Cuba finally opens up?
"I know you put an announcement in the July 27th 'Lectronic
Latitude, but I'm still searching for news on Chris and Gerry
Blomfield-Brown of the vessel Tahirih, who are presumably
still cruising the South Pacific area," writes Götz
Schneider-Rothhaar of Frankfurt, Germany. "Isn't there someone
out there who knows anything about these two cruisers?"
"We've been coming down to Mexico aboard Capricorn Cat for the last six years," report Blair and Joan Grinols of
the Vallejo-based Capricorn Cat, "but this year's
trip has been one of the best ever. We've had very good sailing
all the way down, as it never blew too hard - except while rounding
the corner at Bahia Santa Maria during the Ha-Ha, when we blew
up the spinnaker. I should have known better. The fishing has
been great, too. We caught a big dorado just north of Cabo, and
a 45-pound wahoo just off Chacala on the mainland side. We're
now enjoying life at Paradise Marina in Banderas Bay, which Harbormaster
Dick Markie calls our "second home"."
"We're down in Z-town now," write Blair and Joan with
an update. "Boy, have we had the red tides this year. The
water of Banderas Bay looked the color of tea, and the water
inside the marina was putrid! My new paint grew a zillion tiny
dark barnacles, so between the worst of the red tides at Tenancatita
Bay, I dove on my bottom and did some scraping. We ran into more
stretches of red tide most of the way down to Z-town, but the
water here is warm and fairly clean. By the way, last night we
anchored in Caleta de Campos and had a lot of trouble sleeping.
It may have had something to do with the fact that the last time
we were there - a couple of years ago - we were boarded and robbed
by a man with a gun. At the magic robbery hour of 0200, my eyes
popped open, and I just couldn't go back to sleep. So we got
underway. We've since been told that the town used to be a haven
for drug drop-offs and pick-ups, but now they have a station
for the Mexican version of the Highway Patrol. The area is supposed
to be safe now. We wish we'd known about it before getting to
Z-town, as we would have slept better. We're having great cruising
this year, but Blair is already dreaming of next year's itinerary:
Hawaii, the Marshalls, the Gilberts, Vanuatu and Fiji, Tonga,
Samoa, Hawaii, and home."
We were on Banderas Bay in early December, and it was the worst
red tide we'd ever seen. Even in the middle of Banderas Bay much
of the water was almost the color of merlot. As for the water
in Nuevo Vallarta, it looked as though somebody had dumped cup
of coffee into a glass of merlot. It was awful. It apparently
had been going on for three weeks, which is an extremely long
time for a red tide. By the middle of December, it was almost
Tony Johnson and Terry Shrode - who are in the midst of a circumnavigation
aboard the San Francisco-based Ericson 39 Maverick - endured
a couple of tough weeks after leaving Bali, Indonesia. On Thanksgiving
Day, for example, they went aground "in lots of current
and chop" while trying to enter Banjarmasin Harbor to escape
even rougher weather out in the Java Sea. They had the up-to-date
charts, but the channel into the harbor had shifted. The result
was "five extremely difficult hours kedging Maverick off
while she took a horrible pounding". Luckily she'd gone
aground in soft mud. It was also fortunate that a breakaway barge
was retrieved by her tug before smashing into the stranded sailboat.
Once Maverick was pulled back into deeper water, Tony
and Terry anchored on a lee shore with five feet of chop coming
in from the Java Sea. You know that couldn't have been fun.
Why hadn't they continued on to Singapore in the first place?
"The wind had been on the nose ever since Bali, and even
though Maverick is a great upwind boat, we had been unable
to make any progress. Keep in mind that we raced Maverick in a Farallones Race when it was blowing 35 knots with 15 foot
seas, and had been able to make good progress. So whatever we
had out in the Java Sea was worse than that."
By December 1, Tony and Terry were anchored safely in the Kumai
River of Kalimantan (formerly Borneo), and ready to head out
the next day on a rough passage to Singapore in company with
friends aboard the Freeport 41 Okiva. By December 11,
they were secure in a marina across the Singapore Strait from
Singapore itself. "We haven't talked to all of the skippers
who made the passage from Bali about the same time as us, but
we know that Millennium lost an engine, Oceans Free lost her engine and half her keel and rudder, Okiva was
plagued by electrical and engine problems before running aground,
we ran aground and mangled the extrusion on our roller furling,
and lots of boat shredded sails. Every skipper agreed that it
was at least equal to the most unpleasant sailing he/she had
ever encountered outside of actual storms. As soon as we get
our computer fixed, we'll have more details on the passage as
well as our views on the things people warned us about in Indonesia
- pirates, big ships, unlit fishing boats, and political activists
who follow the Islamic faith. We'll also compare the performance
of Okiva, an Islander Freeport 41 motorsailer, and Maverick,
the upwind rocket, in heavy upwind going. People might find the
Are we mistaken, but doesn't the passage from Bali to Singapore
normally consist of mostly light air?
What's your resolution for the new year? Ours is to spend more
time enjoying life through cruising.