With reports this month from
Tinsley Light after 21 summers in
Northern Europe; from Speck on Panama's
Portobello and the San Blas Islands; from Velella
on Z-town; from Shayna on senior
cruising in the Med; from Suntrekka
on cruising from New Zealand to South Africa; from Fog
City on finishing up the sailing part of a circumnavigation
in Florida; and Cruise Notes.
Light - Scanmar 33
Hank & Mary Grandin
21 Years Of Cruising Europe
In 1984, we published a feature about the European sailing adventures
of Sausalito's Hank and Mary Grandin. In it, we reported that
as of 1980, Hank had been sailing for more than 50 years, and
had done countless races in the Bay, along the coast, and to
Mexico, Hawaii and Tahiti. And that in 1980, he decided that
he wanted to do a shorthanded TransAtlantic Race. So he took
delivery of an Olson 30 he named - like all of his sailboats
- Tinsley Light. The following year, he and his son Michael
sailed the boat from the East Coast to England in order to position
the boat for the start of the TransAtlantic Race. However, after
the boat was rolled and had her tiller snapped off in 50-knot
winds on the leg from the Azores to England, Hank understandably
lost his enthusiasm for a race in such a small ultralight. But
with the boat over there, he and his wife Mary - who had never
cared for competitive sailing - began spending their summers
cruising the little Olson in Northern Europe. They both loved
it. In fact, at the time we published the article, the couple
had finished their third year in Europe, and Hank said that if
the fates were willing, he and Mary would continue sailing 12
summer weeks a year in Europe "into the 21st century."
The fates were willing, and the Grandins spent 12 summer weeks
a year for 21 years cruising over there. Hank said that he and
Mary - often times accompanied by good sailing friends - went
just about everywhere in Northern Europe not once, but twice.
The only execeptions were the Shetland Islands and the western
part of Ireland. Their favorite cruising areas were southern
Ireland, all of Scandinavia, and Mary's favorite, the area just
outside of Stockholm.
When most people think of cruising in Europe, they think of the
warm weather areas around the Med. But the fair-skinned Hank
doesn't tolerate relentlss sunshine very well, and neither he
nor Mary particularly care for ocean swimming. So they hardly
spent any time at all in the Med. "Lots of people assume
that it would be cold cruising Northern Europe," says Hank,
"but it's only cold if you're interested in swimming. Otherwise
the temperatures are just fine."
A graduate of Stanford in economics, Hank kept a close track
of expenses - and they were surprisingly low. He figures it never
cost them more than $12,000 a year for everything, including
airline tickets, boat storage, new sails and a new engine, berthing
and dining - as well as the 'expense' of $6,000 a year for not
being able to get a 10% return on the $60,000 invested in the
boat. "And it's not as if money was an issue," he says,
"as we weren't trying to scrimp or live on any particular
kind of budget."
At the end of last summer, the couple, now 73 years old, decided
they were "done with Europe." So they took the boat
to Palma de Mallora and had her shipped to Martinique, where
they met the boat for some winter cruising in the Caribbean.
By the time you read this, Hank and another long time sailing
pal will be sailing the boat to Florida for a refit.
- latitude 38 1/10/01
Speck - Gemini 32 Cat
Irwin Studenberg & Judy White
Colon To The San Blas Islands
(Detroit And San Diego)
I left off our last installment - August '00 Changes - when we
returned to Colon, Panama, after two weeks up the Rio Chagres.
After some repairs and provisioning in Colon, we started making
daytrips in the direction of the San Blas Islands. After a 4.5
hour sail from Colon, we were 20 miles to the east at historic
Portobello, which was named by Columbus in 1502. Portobello has
a nicely sheltered harbor and is surrounded by four beautiful
forts that the Spanish built to protect their treasures from
the British, French and pirates during the 1600s. We anchored
in 20 feet of water in front of one of the forts, which provided
a magnificent vista when we awoke each morning. Locals in cayucas
- dugout canoes - periodically stopped by with fruits and vegetables
as well as lobsters and crab - the big ones of which were three
feet across! Everything was at bargain basement prices, such
as crab for $2 to $3.
Although at one time Portobello was one of the most important
cities in the Spanish empire, it's now just a quiet village of
3,000. The dusty streets intertwine with the stone walls and
the forts. Although there are four small grocery stores all within
a block or two of each other, the supplies were still limited
to frozen meats, long lasting root vegetables and lots of canned
goods. It was a rare treat to see a cabbage or some broccoli.
But they had plenty of ice cream, so they must have known that
Irwin was coming. Interestingly, most of the stores were owned
and operated by Chinese.
We stayed in Portobello three days, and enjoyed swimming off
the boat - our first time in the Caribbean Sea - in water that
was both clear and warm. One day we decided to climb to the top
of two of the four forts. It was 1,000 feet up to the top of
one of the observation stations, from which there was a marvelous
view in all directions out to sea. Given these views, it would
have been easy for the Spanish to have detected an approaching
enemy and prepare for them. The forts and associated vegetation
were always being cleaned and trimmed by the local citizens,
as they are the pride of the village.
Our next stops were about eight miles to the east at the adjacent
islands of Isla Linton and Isla Grande. Both are about a mile
long and offer fine protection in their lee. Isla Linton has
one sleepy village where only limited supplies are available.
Isla Grande is both larger and more interesting, as on weekends
it becomes a bustling weekend retreat for many folks from Panama
City and Colon. Its only main street runs parallel to the beach
for the length of the island, and there are many restaurants
and bars dotted between the beach house and the tiendas. During
the week, Isla Grande is also a sleepy place, but come the weekend,
Panamanians brown themselves on the beaches each day and party
until the wee hours of the night.
The challenge for cruisers who visit Isla Grande is to secure
water. There are no pipes to the mainland, so all the town's
water is collected in a large cistern high on a hill. There was
a major drought when we were there, so no restaurant was willing
to let us tap into their water supply. In order to get water,
we had to get it directly from the cistern's pipe coming down
the hillside to the village. In order to reach the pipe, Irwin
had to dinghy through a narrow cut with a fast current, then
negotiate a quarter mile of shoal area in order to land the dinghy.
Then he had to climb a small hill to actually fetch the water
. . . "and Jack fell down and broke his crown."
We found the best grocery store across the channel at the mainland
village of La Guarya. Once again, it was owned by a nice Chinese
couple. I'd made four trips to China back in the '80s, so I was
able to speak a few words of Chinese - count to five, say 'thank
you' and ask where the bathroom was. They were nonetheless delighted
to see someone attempt to speak in their native language. When
we reverted back to Spanish, I learned that they were sent from
Canton to Panama 20 years before in order to start a business.
They were part of the mass exodus from China after Nixon met
with Mao. Immigration laws in Panama are very lenient, so that
wasn't a problem. They continue to send money back to China so
that family members might soon be able to join them. We saw many
Chinese who operated businesses in Panama, but we seldom saw
any Chinese on the streets or in the markets. They are too busy
running their businesses for pleasure.
Our next stop was the San Blas Islands - of which there are 365
- further to the east. A caution about navigation in this part
of the world. When the charts don't agree with physical reality
- which is sometimes the case - believe reality. You'll have
the best luck negotiating these waters with someone on the bow
wearing polaroid sunglasses, as it can be very shallow and there
are many reefs. But as we were to later discover, that's not
Chichime, our first stop in the San Blas, is one of those picturesque
islands that looks like the cover of a travel magazine. The green
palms lean over the beautiful white sandy beaches that front
the turquoise blue Caribbean Sea. The water is warm and crystal
clear, making for wonderful snorkeling among the numerous coral
heads. Looking out from Chichime, you can see many of the other
San Blas Islands. Some are just 20 feet around with two palm
trees. Some are a quarter of a mile long or more, big enough
for a coconut forest and homes for several Kuna families.
Having barely dropped anchor at Chichime, we were immediately
surrounded by little Kuna women in their cayucos. They spread
their molas out for sale - and would not leave! A mola is the
traditional Kuna handicraft made of brightly colored pieces of
layered cloth. Cuts are made through the layers to form different
designs of animals, people or activities. The layers are sewn
together with very fine stitching; the finer the stitch, the
higher the quality. The molas - it translates to 'blouse' in
the Kuna language - are about 10 x 12 inches in size and are
used as front and back panels for their traditional blouses worn
with the serape style cloth skirts. I am told that the very best
ones sell for $300 to $500 in the States.
We kept telling the ladies in the cayucos that we were tired
and needed to rest, and would later decide on which ones we liked.
They only agreed to leave after I told them they could come back
the next day - which they did at 7:00 a.m.! These women are small
in stature, but were hardcore salespeople. Once again they spread
their molas out by the dozen, eventually wearing us down into
Not much is known about the history of the Kuna people, who are
the second smallest people in the world after the Aborigines.
It's thought they came from Colombia and the Darien region, but
only date back about 400 years. The San Blas is an independent
region of Panama and has its own government. But it still holds
two representative positions in the Panamanian legislature.
Being a matriarchal society, the Kuna women handle most of the
business transactions. The men wear the regularly tropical garb
of plain T-shirts and shorts, while the women dress elaborately,
using molas to decorate the tops of their colorful blouses. Many
of the women wrap their arms from wrist to elbow and their legs
from ankle to knee with chains of small beads. It's the women
who are the attraction to the curious tourist, but not in a sexual
way. Being business oriented, they charge $1 per person per photograph!
It gets a little pricey when a group gathers.
In addition to hard-selling their molas and charging for photographs,
the Kunas also began asking for money and supplies. We gladly
gave them some milk, sugar and a few other things, but soon learned
that they continually beg for whatever they can get from the
cruisers. We tried to barter for a few molas, but it was strictly
moolah molas. After three days of Kunas looking into our ports
and having no privacy during daylight hours because they hung
around the sides of the boat patiently waiting and waiting to
sell, we finally decided to bail from Chichime and join a flotilla
of friends down at the East Holandes, the next and largest set
of islands in the San Blas group.
Upon entering from the east end of Holandes Channel, we managed
to go aground on a sandy reef. It was scary stuff! How can you
run aground with a catamaran that only draws 18 inches? Well,
the light was wrong, the chart was misleading, the reef was hidden
by the opaque water - and bam!, it just happens. Thanks to the
shallow draft, Irwin was able to jump out of the boat and push
us off the edge of the reef - something he wouldn't have been
able to do with most monohulls. Despite breaking a rudder, we
managed to continue on and anchor among nine cruising boats that
collectively hailed from all parts of the globe.
Per the 'Kuna code', the locals aren't allowed to badger cruisers
in the East Holandes, so we finally got a little peace! We'd
anchored in 12 feet of crystal clear water in an anchorage that
is completely protected by reefs and islands. It was heavenly
diving off the edge of the boat to cool off during the heat of
the day. And each morning, I'd wake up and immediately dive into
the refreshing water and swim two laps around the boat. We snorkeled
and speared for fish from the dinghy at the various reefs that
surrounded us. Every night we managed to have mighty fine dinners
of something delicious from the sea. Once a week, all the cruisers
would have a trash-burning/cocktail party or potluck on the island.
We'd arrive one hour before sunset to share snacks, beer, swap
stories and burn our trash.
One day I asked Victor, the local Kuna landlord of the East Holandes,
about the family lifestyle of the Kuna culture. He told me that
marriages are arranged between island clans, and that most girls
are married between 12 and 16. They are assigned an island on
which to live and work in the coconut groves. Once the children
are of school age, they are sent to the larger islands for schooling,
usually living with aunts and uncles. A few go on to college
in Panama City, but most just get a three to five year education
before returning to their native island for marriage. Divorce
is not an option, and many are grandparents by the age of 30-35.
The women spend their days making molas, beading for ankle and
wrist bracelets, and preparing meals. Their diet consists of
lobster, crab and fish - when they can catch it - as well as
rice, coconut and fruits. There are no vegetables other than
the occasional canned variety. It is a subsistence lifestyle
The Kuna houses are made of bamboo, with thatched roofs and open
air sides. They are very vulnerable to the high winds and rains
of the islands. Life is simple, as they harvest the coconuts
for sale to Colombia and fish for dinner. In addition to coconuts,
they grow the most delicious mangoes, avocado and bananas. They
have so many of these that at Victor's island they would daily
give all of us a stash of fruits as gifts. They have no electricity
and get all their water from the almost daily rains. It's a simple
and primitive culture.
Since we were getting short on supplies and also needed some
wood to build a rudder, we decided to spend a few days at an
island near shore called Rio Diablo. This is also the 'capital'
of the Kuna Government. Victor requested a ride to Rio Diablo
with us, as his daughter was going to school there and living
with his sister. Victor was happy to not have to make the trip
in a dugout canoe, and we were happy to have him as navigator.
We stayed at Rio Diablo for four days while Irwin had a man in
the village build him a new rudder out of mahogany. We shopped
in the village for simple provisioning, then took our dinghy
three miles up the river to wash clothes and gather fresh mountain
water. The town of Rio Diablo was very dusty and dry and home
to many albino Kunas. We learned that albinos are considered
the 'chosen special' people of the Kunas.
It's best to have a guide for shopping at the tiendas in Rio
Diablo, as the stores can be difficult to find since they are
sometimes just an open window at a house, and each store might
only sell a couple of items. If you want potatoes and flour,
you go to one house, but you go to another for beer and eggs.
Upon landing the dinghy at the fuel dock, we were approached
by Frederico, the unofficial Kuna host at Rio Diablo. He speaks
English well and knew where to find everything - including frozen
meats, ice cream and even a few vegetables.
While at Rio Diablo, we got in the middle of a bit of Kuna politics.
It seems they are aware of how the Kunas from Chichime pester
the cruisers, and how two Kunas in particular sell their molas
for $40, which is considered a great deal of money. During our
stay, Victor arranged for three Kuna chiefs to come aboard Speck
for a "meeting" and "discussion" about
the sale of molas. In my imperfect Spanish, I played neutral
to the cause, believing in free enterprise and not wanting to
get any individual Kuna in trouble. I refused to incriminate
any of the suspects in question, as what they were looking for
were the names and prices charged for molas by certain Kunas
- in particular, one famous Kuna transvestite who sells 'her'
exquisite and finely made molas for upwards of $40. I figured
'she' deserves more because she does better work and dresses
in the Kuna costume. The Kunas don't have an issue with homosexuality,
and we were told that it's prevalent. The real issue was that
the Kuna government tries to keep everyone small and equal, as
capitalism isn't their way. When the officials realized that
I wouldn't incriminate anyone, they left, dissatisfied.
Our next report is on Cartagena, Colombia.
- judy 11/10/00
Velella - Wylie 31
Garth Wilcox & Wendy Hinman
Feliz Año Nuevo, Z-Town
We arrived in Zihuatenejo just a few days before Christmas, having
sailed directly from the Sea of Cortez on a seven-day, 727-mile
voyage. We had good sailing conditions during what we had thought
would be a slow trip, so there was very little temptation to
motor. As a result of more wind and waves than we anticipated,
our trolling generator spinner flew out of the water and disappeared.
It was our first gear casualty.
As we rounded Cabo Corrientes - just off Puerto Vallarta and
about halfway between Cabo and Z-town - we were suddenly overwhelmed
by the warm and moist tropical air. We started peeling off the
layers of clothes, and from then on often wore nothing at all.
Fortunately, we have a nice sailing awning, so we didn't bake
in the sun, but we're from the Pacific Northwest and are still
adjusting to heat and humidity. The temperatures are typically
in the high 80s with about 80% humidity - reminding me of the
hot summer days when I lived in Washington, DC, and our backyard
pool was the key to summer survival. Installing fans has moved
to priority status at the top of our projects list.
After checking in at Z-town, we began a search for Christmas
decorations. We found a 10-inch tall fake tree, some tiny hand-painted
glass balls, three-inch candy canes, a short string of garland
and some ribbon. These items, along with some strategically placed
Christmas candies and miniature stockings, gave our boat a holiday
atmosphere. Many cruisers decorated their boats with Christmas
lights, but we didn't have the juice for it.
We even had enough time before Christmas to find a little something
for each other. And, in honor of a long tradition, we arranged
to bake Christmas cookies with friends Ken and Cath on Felicity.
We cut the cookie shapes freehand while listening to carols.
Because of the ambient temperature and heat of the oven, we were
dripping in sweat and had to go out to the cockpit to hose ourselves
down. On Christmas Eve, a number of cruisers gathered in dinghies
for caroling around the harbor. Our group filled eight dinghies,
and while we had spirit - and spirits - we were a little out
of tune and not everyone remembered all the words. On Christmas
afternoon, many of the cruisers gathered at Rick's Bar for a
traditional turkey dinner.
Rick's Bar, now located near the center of town on the way to
and from almost everywhere in town, is cruiser central. From
the bar, Rick coordinates laundry, propane refills, showers,
mail, book swaps, lodging, cruising meetings, and provides entertainment
through games, music, and dancing. If you need anything, Rick
can probably tell you where to find it or get it for you. Each
Saturday, Rick's features a troupe of traditional Mexican folk
dancers. We were quite impressed with the skill of the dancers,
the costumes and the choreography - in fact, I've watched every
Saturday since we arrived.
For New Year's Eve, Rick invited all the cruisers up to his villa
for a BBQ, swim, and celebration. We stopped in the town square
- centered around a waterfront basketball/volleyball court -
to watch the fireworks, the bands, and the celebration at the
stroke of midnight. The music didn't stop until dawn.
When we needed to escape the heat, we'd take the bus - 35 cents
- to the nearby tourist resort of Ixtapa for a double feature
in the impressive new air-conditioned theater. It's just $3.50
per couple for two movies on Thursdays. What we saw wasn't as
important as the air conditioning. Another favorite escape is
to sit under an umbrella on the beach, ordering food and drink
to our heart's content. It's shocking how fast the bill can add
up. Snorkeling has been a great treat as well, although it doesn't
take long to get burned in the midday sun. We have also located
an air-conditioned Internet cafe that we all frequent to stay
in touch with friends and stay cool. It's also cool, of course,
beneath the fans at Rick's Bar.
We've found a few edible treats to enjoy around town. There's
a restaurant that offers a variety of tamales for just $1 each.
We've also enjoyed hamburgesas - hamburgers - from the evening
street vendor on the town square. Down here, 'the works' means
American cheese, avocado, ham, salsa, onions, mayo, mustard and
ketchup - all for $1.50. Some things seem pretty inexpensive,
others are comparable to back in the States.
The big air-conditioned grocery store features many non-food
items - like a new Fred Meyers - and a large selection. We balance
our purchases between the air-conditioned grocery store and the
local market. Those of us used to the prepackaged meat in styrofoam
prefer the grocery store to the butchers in the open market,
where it's common to see pig's heads and unrecognizable cuts
of meat. We generally buy our fruits and vegetables from the
fresh vendors in the central market, which is a shorter walk.
Many of us cruisers have been on a quest for good wine and cheese
ever since we realized what a poor selection they have down here.
We should have stocked up on these items before leaving the States,
but didn't think it would be necessary. Except for good wine
and cheese and marine parts, we can find everything we need.
Having been around a little while, we now realize that we have
the smallest and most basic boat in just about every anchorage.
Many cruisers have computer charts, the ability to receive email
onboard, DVD movies - and many other amenities that we never
thought of - let alone considered putting on our boat. Some cruisers
consider us deprived, but so far we feel pretty content with
our boat and our choices. Sometimes we long for a few of the
luxuries some of the other cruisers have, so we have to continually
remind ourselves that we're all on different cruises and have
different priorities. Garth and I weren't willing to give up
our future financial security or the ability to cruise at such
a young age to have a big and fancy boat.
When we listen to the net each morning, we hear cruisers go down
their list of repair needs. This is when we're most glad our
boat is so simple. We're also the only boat we know that doesn't
have to listen to the engine for an hour or two each day in order
to charge up the batteries for all the power the amenities require.
Our largest power consumer is our refrigerator - and we've decided
that most of the time we don't need it. It's a good thing, because
our solar panels don't generate enough juice to run it, and we
were unwilling to listen to the engine running everyday. We've
learned that many food items - no matter what the packaging might
say - don't need to be refrigerated. Lately we've turned our
refrigerator off altogether, and have been buying ice for cold
drinks every few days. Without the fridge sucking on our battery,
our solar panels and our trolling generator took care of all
our power needs. These free energy sources mean we can avoid
having to waste gas, pay astronomical prices for fuel, listen
to the irritating noise, or have to put up with the heat and
We've also observed that many of the luxuries and amenities that
have become more common in the cruising community can turn the
cruising lifestyle into a rat-race that many of us wanted to
leave behind. Garth is continually remarking how cruising has
changed since the old days - which makes him sound like a geezer,
doesn't it? For example, communication is now primarily via VHF
instead of in person. And since there are so many cruisers now,
it's easy to miss direct contact with the communities we are
visiting and thereby forego some of the charm of this lifestyle.
In a few months I'll let you know if I share these opinions.
In any event, we have enjoyed our lifestyle so far and look forward
to exploring Mexico over the next couple of months.
- wendy & garth 1/15/01
Shayna - Hylas 45.5 sloop
Larry Hirsch & Dorothy Taylor
Senior Cruising In Europe
[Due to the incompetence of the Changes Editor, this Changes,
covering the year 1999, didn't run a year ago when it was supposed
to. But a year late is better than never when it's the tale of
a couple of 70-year-olds happily cruising all over Europe. The
second half of it will run in the March issue. Furthermore, the
next installment - covering their European adventures for 2000
- will run in the April 1 issue. We promise.]
We haven't written since August of '98, when we were staying
in the marina in Lagos, Portugal. In that Changes we recounted
our first-ever transatlantic crossing. It was with a special
delight that we remembered our visit to the lovely Azores, where
we added our boat logo to the 'great wall' along the quay. Dorothy
celebrated her 71st birthday at Peter's Sports Bar, the yachtie
hangout in the middle of the Atlantic. How time flies! Just a
few days ago we celebrated Dorothy's 72nd birthday aboard Shayna
while anchored at the Madelena Islands off of Sardinia, Italy.
There was much excitement in our year of cruising, and we'll
try to recount it here. After leaving Lagos, we sailed south
and east along the Atlantic coastlines of Portugal and Spain
to Puerto Sherry. Our boat wintered for three months in the water
at the plush - but bankrupt - resort and marina on the Bay of
Cadiz. The marina is next to the huge U.S. Navy base at Rota,
Spain. We could have wintered at nearby Rota Marina, which is
slightly less expensive and more convenient to the charming old
world town of Rota, but we preferred Puerto Sherry's fixed concrete
as opposed to Rota Marina's floating pontoon slips. Dumb luck
was with us again, because when we returned from three months
back in San Diego, we found that a severe winter storm had caused
serious damage to boats at Rota - but not to ours or the others
at Puerto Sherry.
Incidentally, while back in the States we made a fast trip to
Las Vegas - without telling anybody - and got 'hitched' in a
quickie chapel service on the famous Las Vegas strip. Why? Maybe
to set a moral example for our combined nine grandchildren. After
all, the two of us have been sailing together on this cruise
for six years now - and even before then. Ours was a chance meeting
at the San Diego Polaris Sailing Club for Singles. Our respective
first spouses of 35 years had both passed away of cancer in 1987.
If you're wondering, Puerto Sherry's name does honor the great
sherry and port wines of that region of Spain. There's also much
to do in the area. Thanks to the heavy military demand for seats
all year, flights to the U.S. are frequent and cheap. The proximity
of the big military base also means that rental cars are inexpensive,
so we drove 2,000 miles to Genoa, Italy, and back. While there,
we took in the terrific Genoa Boat Show. When it came time to
drive back, we discovered that we could take the autoferry from
Genoa to Barcelona for almost the same price - when you consider
fuel, tolls, and hotel rooms - as it would cost to drive. We
had a wonderful trip.
After getting some quality sail repairs and a new sail cover
at favorable prices in Puerto Sherry, we headed east toward Gibraltar,
stopping at reasonably priced marinas or anchoring out along
the way. Gib is truly an international city, as we saw boats
and yachts from everywhere you can imagine heading to just about
everywhere you can imagine. The provisioning was good, fuel relatively
cheap, and the 'King's English' widely spoken. We didn't see
many Americans in Gib; in fact, we didn't see many Americans
anywhere in the Med.
Since we were so close to Morocco, we hopped on a ferry. We thoroughly
enjoyed the experience - including sharing a train compartment
from Tangiers to Rabat with three local smugglers. It wasn't
so funny at the time, of course, as we had unpleasant visions
of spending time in a Moroccan jail.
After sailing east from Gib, we realized we were finally in the
Med! We continued along Spain's Costa del Sol, stopping almost
exclusively at marinas, as good anchorages were few and far between.
Unfortunately, the Costa del Sol has been overdeveloped with
seemingly wall-to-wall high-rise condos and hotels.
While in Gib, we'd bought an eight-foot aluminum step ladder,
added a plywood facing, and used it as a boarding plank for when
we were Med-tied. The ladder is among the best boat gear investments
we've ever made. It's more convenient than a wood plank, and
it's almost indispensible because everyone in the Med really
does Med-tie. Unlike the others, however, we always moor bow-to
the dock or quai. That means we can still lower and use our stern-mounted
dinghy, and it also gives us some privacy in the cockpit. Finally,
it's much easier to maneuver our boat when in forward.
One of our favorite stops on the Costa del Sol was at the Almerimar
Marina, which has good haulout facilities, is inexpensive, and
where we were permitted to work on our own boat. Lots of English
was spoken there, and it was at Almerimar that we saw the most
American boats - three. Thanks to inexpensive car rentals, we
saw much more of Spain - including the Sierra Madre Mountains,
where they were still skiing in April.
After pleasant stops at Torreviejas, Moyara, Cala Grasso and
a good anchorage at Cala Portinatx, we took off for Mallorca,
the largest of Spain's four Balearic Islands. We arrived at Palma
in the middle of May without a working alternator or genset -
to find 'no vacancy' signs out at all the marinas. Palma is the
center of yachting in the Med, and gets very crowded during the
season. We finally got a mooring for two days - which we managed
to stretch to two weeks - at Pier 46. The nice folks at Marine
Machine got our electrical problems sorted out. Everybody says
that Mallorca is pretty much for the 'rich and famous' - an evaluation
we found to be accurate.
Our next stop was the second largest of the Balearic Islands,
Menorca, which the guide books advised was less developed and
hectic than Mallorca. It was. We especially enjoyed the historic
port of Mahon (Mao) - which is where mayonnaise was created hundreds
of years ago.
We departed Mahon for 250-mile distant Sardinia, Italy, two hours
ahead of the San Francisco-based Oyster 50 Darling. Motorsailing
all the way, we arrived just three hours behind them. The youngish
couple - just about everybody seems young to us these days -
aboard the Oyster had gone public with their wildly successful
optical business a couple of years before, bought the new Oyster
in England, and had her shipped to the Bay Area. Unfortunately,
they were too busy to sail her for the two years they had her
in Northern California. So when they sold their business, they
had the Oyster shipped all the way back to Spain, then flew over
with their two-year-old child and nanny. Life can be beautiful.
Hope we haven't bored you, as we have no heroic sea tales yet.
By the way, when we returned to San Diego for the winter holidays,
we made another trip to Las Vegas to celebrate our first anniversary!
We also went to Mammoth to do some skiing with the kids - although
I gave up on snowboarding!
- larry & dorothy
Readers - Are Larry and Dorothy an inspiration
to adventurous seniors or what? We'll have the second half of
their year 1999 European cruising adventures in the March 1 issue,
and their year 2000 European cruising adventures in the April
Suntrekka - N/A
New Zealand To South Africa
What have I been up to since last writing from New Zealand? In
May of '99, I left Russell in the Bay of Islands for Suva, Fiji,
a sometimes dangerous 1,200-mile passage. I had to motor for
the first 50 hours, after which I had about 25 knots of wind
from the east. It could have been worse. When I got to Fiji,
I visited Yanuga Island, Musket Cove on Malololailai, and spent
a couple of weeks in the Mamuntha Group. It was nothing but good
times and great people - and mostly fine weather.
In July, I took off on the approximately 600-mile voyage to Port
Vila, Vanuatu. It was one of my best ocean passages ever, as
the winds were a perfect 15 knots from the southeast, there were
powder puff clouds, but no squalls. After thoroughly enjoying
Port Vila for a month, I set out for Noumea, New Caledonia, which
is about a 400-mile passage. But I was driven back after 30-knot
headwinds made me reconsider my sanity. Once I got back to Port
Vila, alternator problems kept me in port until September when
I finally did make the trip to Port Vila. By mid October, I'd
covered the last 600 or so miles to Bundaberg, Australia, where
I stayed on a mooring in the Mid Town Marina for five months.
In March of last year, I hauled the boat to paint the bottom
and took off again, this time up the Great Barrier Reef. There
were many delightful anchorages, so I only sailed during the
day. The people of Queensland are very friendly, so I enjoyed
making many new friends along the way to Thursday Island, which
is up in the Torres Strait separating Australia from Papua New
Guinea. Having had a lifetime's worth of short hops while sailing
up the Great Barrier Reef, I decided to make a nonstop passage
to Cocos Keeling, about 2,700 miles due west. Initially, the
weather was a bit breezy, and I had to deal with quite a sea
in the shallow Arafura Sea - but things got better through the
Timor Sea. Each day until I had sailed past Ashmore Reef, I was
buzzed by the Australia Customs plane. This is normal procedure
during their patrols, and it was nice for a singlehander like
me to have a chat each day - if only for a minute! After passing
Ashmore Reef, the sea conditions improved, the wind was 10 to
15 knots from behind, and there were no squalls. Except for an
eclipse of the moon and playful dolphins, it would have been
an uneventful passage.
I arrived at Direction Island - one of the 27 coral islands that
make up Cocos Keeling - on July 17. After clearing customs, I
reanchored in the lagoon just before sundown. Gavin and Steve
are the police officers in Cocos who clear boats in and out.
In addition to being friendly and efficient, they were very helpful
during my stay - which turned out to be a little longer than
I had planned. For I had the misfortune of breaking the little
toe on my only good foot the day after I arrived. I couldn't
very well have broken a toe on the other foot, as my other leg
is artificial. Fortunately, the anchorage in the lagoon formed
by Direction Island is very well protected. The island itself
is uninhabited - except for three chickens, some rabbits, and
countless hermit crabs. But it does have a wonderful beach, a
covered cabana with picnic tables, outhouses for men and women
- and a telephone. It was an odd sensation to stand alone among
the palm trees, looking at the beautiful lagoon so far from civilization
- while talking to folks in California!
Cocos Keeling is a primary waypoint for cruising boats headed
west. Some of the boats that came through during my stay included
Mermaid from Seattle; Cisne Branco from
Brazil; Affinity from South Africa; LeInegable
from France; Global Surveyor from the United Kingdom;
Rattle & Hum from Australia; Independence from
the United States; Kokopelli from Australia; Nakiska
from Canada; Ymemaru from Japan; Lu from Russia;
Happyhour from Australia; Cape Song from South
Africa; Joana from New Zealand; Max from Switzerland;
Chantacleer from South Africa; Aquabat from Australia;
and Delirious, Airborne and Pelican from the United
States. I became friends with the crews of all these boats from
afternoons shared in the shade of the cabana. Supplies and fuel
were available on Home and West Islands. And if you found your
way to Home Island, there was a free ferry between there and
West Island. All in all, my stay was very enjoyable, and I hated
But leave I did, on September 6. After all the usual discussions
about weather among the skippers, I decided to skip the Chagos
Archipelago and head for Mauritius - which is about 2/3rds of
the way to South Africa. I hoped that by waiting in Mauritius
till late October, I'd find a good weather window for slipping
over to Durban, South Africa. The first few days out of Cocos
Keeling were perfect, then it got windy and bumpy for three days,
with gusts to 30 knots and the associated seas. It was a bit
of a wet ride, but good for making progress. It seemed that everyone
who had left Cocos before me had gone through the same sort of
conditions for the first several days, then enjoyed better weather.
It was the same for me, as I had 15-20 knots from the southeast
until the last morning before reaching Mauritius.
I approached Mauritius on the morning of September 24. After
motoring around the north end of the island, I met up with my
friends on Joana outside the entrance to Port Louis. They'd
been having motor trouble for several days, so during one of
the SSB nets, I'd offered to tow them in. After side-tying to
them, Suntrekka's 62 hp Perkins diesel came in very handy.
I always feel like a gooney bird coming in for a landing when
approaching a dock after weeks at sea, so you can imagine the
lump in my throat I had with 25 tons of steel tied to the side
of my boat. The customs officers were very nice, and allowed
us to spend the night on the floating pontoon. The next day I
dragged Joana over to the marina, and was grateful to
be free of the tow.
Mauritius was exciting and fun, and the locals - a mix of races
and cultures from all over the region - were friendly and helpful.
The exchange rate is good for the U.S. dollar, so food and services
were reasonable. Rental cars are inexpensive and a great way
to see the island. The Port Louis waterfront had been something
of a dump, but it was recently given a face-lift and was full
of new shops, cafes and restaurants. Lots of cruisers opt to
go up to Grand Bae, but I stayed in the marina at Port Louis.
Here's a bit of a funny story. Since I have an artificial leg,
I'm used to drawing stares from people. But as I visited the
markets and walked - in shorts - the streets of Port Louis, I
became aware of people whispering and pointing at me. It was
so prevalent, it really started to get to me, so I started to
wear long pants. But lo and behold, the whispering and pointing
continued. The mystery was finally solved one afternoon when
I was nursing an excellent Mauritian beer at one of the pubs.
Some of the locals timidly approached me to ask if I was in politics
- because they said I looked like the Vice Prime Minister of
Mauritius! I later saw a picture of the fellow, and if not for
his bigger nose, he would look quite a bit like me. The whispers
continued, but at least I knew why.
On October 29, I departed on the approximately 1,700-mile passage
to Durban, South Africa. My plan was to slide under Madagascar
Island by about 150 miles, and hopefully reach Durban without
getting hammered by the cold fronts that had badgered some of
the boats that had left earlier in the month. Luck was with me!
I had no wind over 25 knots, although while 90 miles south of
Madagascar, a freak wave knocked Suntrekka on her beam
and tore the canvas pulpit cover off the stern. Because of a
forecast of bad weather at the end of the passage, I opted to
go into Richards Bay rather than Durban. As most cruisers know,
the weather off the coast of South Africa can be treacherous,
so the SSB nets provide good forecasts as you approach the continent.
I listened to Fred - call sign Peri Peri - on 8297mhz at 0600
UTC. I arrived in Richards Bay on November 11, and was safely
tied up in the small craft harbor when a predicted front blew
through - which gave a beating to several boats offshore that
had to heave to.
I have now worked my way down the east coast of South Africa
to Durban, East London, and now Port Elizabeth. Weather permitting,
I hope to continue down to Mossel Bay and then to Cape Town,
after which I will jump across the South Atlantic.
- richard 01/08/01
Fog City - Norseman 445
Ken & Gina Coleman
Swallowing The Anchor
After 5.5 years, we finished our trip around the world. We sailed
west from San Francisco around the world to Fort Lauderdale,
Florida. We sold our boat there, and finished our circumnavigation
by driving our new motorhome across the United States. We're
now back in Walnut Creek, living the life of landlubbers.
We last wrote from the island of Malta, where we made great friends
and enjoyed ourselves for a six month winter season. Then, with
old friend Jerry Dunn along, we headed to southern Italy by way
of Sicily and the Strait of Messina. Jerry left us at the quaint
marina of Agropoli, wanting to travel on land after our last
rough passage. We continued north, always finding excellent marinas
that allowed us to leave our boat for inland excursions. For
instance, we were able to spend a day in Pompeii, the ancient
city that is still being uncovered from volcanic ash. Our next
stop was the isle of Capri. We only stayed two days, however,
during which we spent most of our time dodging tourists that
flooded in daily from Naples and Sorrento. After continuing further
up the coast, we did a land trip to Rome followed by a train
trip to Germany to visit with cruising friends we'd met in Indonesia.
On our way back to the boat, we enjoyed seeing Austria and Switzerland.
Once back on the boat, we zig-zagged up the Italian coast and
sailed out to islands such as Ischia, Elba and Ventotene. As
you travel further north in Italy, the cities get bigger. The
coastline also gets greener and more mountainous - like California.
We stopped in Genoa to visit friends in Milan, then visited the
famous Riviera ports of Portofino, San Tropez, Monaco and Nice.
They were all great places to visit, but we mostly had to motorsail
as the wind was usually on our nose.
We then sailed across the sometimes ferocious Gulf of Lyon to
Spain. Picking our window carefully, we had a smoother overnight
passage to Cadaques, Spain. We looked forward to Spain, as Spanish
is our only foreign language. But then we found we were in the
part of Spain where they speak Catalan, a mixture of French and
Spanish that we didn't recognize at all. We continued on to the
fabulous metropolitan city of Barcelona, where we spent a month,
while traveling north to San Sebastian on the Atlantic coast,
into France, then through the Pyrenees back to Bacelona. We then
sailed offshore to Spain's Balaeric Islands, the biggest of which
is Mallorca. We spent more than a week at little Ibiza, and really
enjoyed ourselves. We then returned to the Spanish mainland to
visit the famous seaports of Alicante, Cartagena and Malaga.
Our passage down the Spanish coast ended at Gibraltar, which
is still held by the British. Leaving our beloved Fog City in
Gibraltar, we rented a car to visit Seville and Lisbon, Portugal,
and later Granada and the Alhambra. The Alhambra is a Moorish
work of art that's a wonder to see.
After preparing our boat for an Atlantic crossing, we sailed
700 miles to the Canary Islands, where our friends Ed and Kathy
Vail met us for the 3,000-mile passage to St. Lucia in the Caribbean.
The passage was a little rolly, but we made it in 20 days. It
was in St. Lucia, after the Atlantic crossing, that we both decided
we would like to finish our sailing when we reached Florida.
We sailed slowly north to the Caribbean, visiting Martinique,
Dominca, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Nevis, St. Kitts and the British
Virgins, where we were joined by two different sets of friends
for the trips to the U.S. Virgins and Puerto Rico. We then sailed
north to the Bahamas and Fort Lauderdale.
As planned, we put Fog City up for sale in Fort Lauderdale,
and she sold within a month. It was sad to see our travelling
companion go, as she'd kept us safe during 35,000 ocean miles,
in rough seas and calm. We drove cross country visiting sites.
We started slowly, but as we got closer to home, we felt the
need to stop all our travelling and get back to our family and
friends who we'd missed for so long. We're now back in our house
in Walnut Creek, spending time with kids and grandchildren. We're
also busier than ever, as I golf, ski and sail with the yacht
club. We visited 46 countries during our voyage, nonetheless
we feel there is still so much to see, so we're looking forward
to a variety of trips.
- ken & gina 1/10/01
Heading from Mexico to the South Pacific this spring? If so,
you may want to consider attending the fourth annual Pacific
Puddle Jump Party on March 3, co-hosted again this year by Latitude
38 and Marina Paradise. The free event will be held at Nuevo
Vallarta's Marina Paradise, which will also provide a few free
drinks and a little finger food. Latitude will be giving
out one Puddle Jump burgee per boat. The purpose of the party
is to help everyone who will be headed across to meet one another,
to compare itineraries, and to set up radio skeds and a net.
Andy Turpin, the assistant Grand Poobah of the Baja Ha-Ha, will
be on hand to take pictures and jot down a few notes so everyone
gets their five minutes of fame in Latitude. The event
is only for folks who are jumping the puddle this spring.
"It doesn't seem possible that we departed Sausalito in
May of '91," write Don and Lynn of the Martinez-based 54-foot
ketch Eilean. "As the average circumnavigation usually
takes three years, we should be on our third time around by now.
We guess that we've just stopped to smell too many flowers. We're
still in Mooloolaba, Australia, living the good life. We take
walks on the beach, then we sand and varnish. We go to nice lunches
and dinners, then we sand and paint. Last year we took a trip
to New Caledonia to see the South Pacific Cultural Arts Festival,
and spent two weeks in Noumea visiting friends we'd made when
we stopped there in '96. We're now back at Mooloolaba polishing
and waxing. We still enjoy Australia very much. Right now it's
85° and there's a pleasant breeze coming in off the Coral
Sea. Everybody is in shorts and not very much clothing - and
they wear even less on the beach! For Christmas we hosted three
American yachtie couples. Other than the normal aches and pains,
we're both in good health."
Headed for El Salvador and interested in places to visit? We
recommend checking out the site for the acclaimed Barillas Marina
Club. The site is both easy to use and full of helpful information.
Check it out at: www.barillasmarina.com.
With Sea of Cortez Sailing Week coming up April 27 through May
5 in La Paz and at Isla Partida, Pepe and Sue Maxwell, who will
be organizing the event this year, want folks to know more about
them and the event. "We cruised the west coast of Mexico
from '93 to '98 aboard our Spindrift 43 Melissa. During
that five-year-period, we enjoyed our amateur musician's status
by playing at as many cruiser functions as possible. In July
of '98, we left Melissa in La Paz to move to Camano Island,
Washington, in order to take care of Pepe's aging mom. We ended
up in a log house in the woods, with Melissa still in
La Paz and for sale. If you're planning to be in the Sea of Cortez
this spring, we highly recommend you attend Sailing Week, as
there will be plenty of fun activities - from beach games, to
boat and dinghy races, to general socializing - for everyone.
If you've heard rumors that the event was sometimes a little
too raucous for young children, we're here to tell you that those
days are over. Today's Sailing Week is rated G. If anyone has
any questions, please .
"We sailed out of San Francisco on November 5," report
Buzz and Penny aboard the trimaran Mantra, "bound
for Mexico and beyond. Our years of dedication toward this dream
make it so much sweeter. We slowly worked our way down the California
coastline, making 14 stops between San Francisco and L.A.'s Outer
Harbor. We anchored at all but Morro Bay and Ventura. The most
spectacular spot was Carmel's Stillwater Cove. The weather has
been cold but calm - which allowed us to anchor under the sheer
cliffs of Big Sur at Lopez Point and at the famous surf spot
Please folks, make the Changes editor's life easier by always
including your full name, boat name and type, and hailing port.
Many, many thanks.
"We have been cruising from La Paz to Mazatlan," report
Robert and Virginia Gleser of the Alameda-based Freeport 41 Harmony,
"and had a great weather window that allowed us to enjoy
some nice sailing. While here, a friend loaned us a copy of John
Steinbeck's The Log from the Sea of Cortez. It was first
published on December 7, l941, so never got much attention. But
thanks to Steinbeck's humor, observations, philosophizing, and
21st century environmental mindset, it's a great book - very
much in the same league as Willa Cather's Silent Spring.
It's a must read for cruisers coming this way."
The Log From The Sea Of Cortez really is a log - as opposed
to a work of art - so there are long stretches that are on the
dry side. Much of it is nonetheless interesting, which is why
Latitude has been recommending it to Mexico cruisers for
more than 20 years. Incidentally, we're sure you know that it
was really Rachel Carson who wrote Silent Spring; Willa
Cather authored such famous works as My Antonio and
Death Comes For The Archbishop.
Dissecting pig hearts? "Warm greetings from the Winship
family aboard the 33-foot catamaran Chewbacca down in
Mexico, write Bruce, April and youngsters Quincy and Kendall.
"We're having a wonderful time cruising the warm waters
of mainland Mexico, and so far our favorite places have been
Isla Isabella and Chacala. We are cruising slowly, which we like,
and are currently in Nuevo Vallarta enjoying some time at the
dock. The Ha-Ha was a great experience for us, as it gave us
a departure date and a whole group of potential cruising friends
who were 'in the same boat', so to speak. Many thanks to the
Poobah and his dedicated staff for putting the Ha-Ha on. While
not for the fainthearted, we agree it's an excellent way to start
a cruising adventure. In addition, we've found that the camaraderie
and group spirit of the cruising community is awesome, and the
wealth of knowledge they share is incredible. For example, Jake
of Sipapu - who is a retired veterinarian - gave a class
in heart anatomy to kids from several boats. The kids dissected
pig hearts right on the dock! In addition, the kids have learned
much about wildlife in general from spending time in anchorages
with Jake. We've also made friends with retired dentists, teachers,
scientists, and so forth, so in addition to having fun, we're
also having a learning experience. Like a lot of other folks,
we'll be heading up into the Sea of Cortez this spring.
Forget Ambon, let's go to Bali! Thanks to violence in much of
Indonesia last year, the popular Darwin to Ambon Race/Rally was
cancelled. The Indonesian government doesn't want the event to
wither, but there are still problems in Ambon. Their solution?
To have the rally go from Darwin to Bali, as the latter has yet
to suffer from violence. The new event will start on July 21,
but be managed by the same team who used to run the Darwin to
Ambon event. Over the years, many west coast cruisers have done
this event and recommend it. For further information, visit:
Adios to the Mexican peso, the Costa Rican colon, the Nicaraguan
cordoba oro, and the Guatemalan quetzel? It's not as farfetched
as it might seem. Panama adopted the U.S. dollar as its official
currency, although that was 100 years ago. But Ecuador did it
just a year ago, and El Salvador did it at the beginning of this
year - and it's already been an economic boon to both countries.
Despite a long history of resentment of yanqui imperialism, Guatemala
is already permitting employers to pay their employees in dollars,
and Costa Rica and even Nicaragua are considering making the
dollar their official currency. Most interesting of all is that
Francisco Gil Diaz, Mexico's new Finance Minister, has long been
a proponent of replacing the peso with the dollar in the land
of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata. There are two big disadvantages
to being a citizen of a foreign country where the dollar is the
official currency. First, a large part of your economic well
being lies in the hands of Alan Greenspan - who primarily cares
about American interests. Second, you have to accept the fact
that your economy is a global wimp. Yet there's one huge benefit
when the dollar is the official currency: the chances of your
hard-earned money being devalued to that of a dorito is very
Marina Paradise Harbormaster Dick Markie reports they've acquired
the land to build 68 more berths. "We need them, too,"
he says, "as we've been at over 100% capacity since early
December." Markie also reports that the Banderas Bay Regatta
is also looking to have a breakout year, with more boats and
fun than ever. The dates are March 23-26. Strictly a cruiser
affair, it's for fun - and it's also free. Most folks also consider
the awards ceremony on the 26th to be the 'cruiser formal' of
the season. We'll be there with Profligate for the third
year in a row, and suggest you try to make it, too.
"Just a short update from the custom 46 foot sloop Maude
I. Jones," write Mary and Rob Messenger from Down Under.
"We were in Sydney for Christmas and Boxing Day, and got
to go out on a friend's yacht for the start of the Sydney to
Hobart Race. It was fun. We're now in Eden, New South Wales,
which will be our jumping off point for Tasmania. Remember how
we talked about selling our boat after all these years of cruising?
Well, our visit back to the States cured us of that idea! By
the way, we enjoyed last year's article on Ty and Toni Knudsen
of the Westsail 43 Sundowner. I boat-sat for them almost
20 years ago in Pago Pago when they left Sundowner for
a visit back to Hawaii. I'm sure they don't know that Rob and
I are the owners of Maude I. Jones now. Back then Rob
owned Shannon Marie, and I was crewing aboard Endurance."
"We want to wish everyone a happy and safe 2002," writes
Danny North. "Kaja and I are back on our catamaran Deva
in Lankawi, Malaysia. She's in fine shape, considering the fact
that we neglected her for over a year. We hauled her on New Year's
Day and are busy doing lots of work in preparation of crossing
the Indian Ocean this year. We plan to sail to Madagascar and
East Africa via Western Sumatra and the Chagos Archipelago, then
eventually sail around South Africa and up the South Atlantic."
If we remember correctly, Danny - Lowell North's son - and Kaja's
cat is 40 feet long.
"I just want to set the record straight about the letter
of mine that was published last month about being in Mexico without
the proper papers," writes Rick Mercer of San Rafael. "I
didn't have a passport or a birth certificate, but I did have
a valid California driver's license. The license was enough for
the lady at Immigration in Puerto Vallarta." Thanks for
"I thought I'd drop you a note to say that my Folkes 39
Nepenthe and I have cheated death once again," writes
Tom Scott of San Mateo. "Our passage from Tonga to New Zealand
was blessedly uneventful, though longer than anticipated due
to light winds. But light wind sure beats the alternative conditions
often encountered on that passage. Nepenthe is now lying
in the Whangarei Town Basin, and yours truly is house sitting
for some friends vacationing in Australia. I'm not accustomed
to such luxury: hot water, laundry, showers - plus a lovely view
of the countryside. Things are fine with me, and the New Zealand
summer weather is lovely - although a lot cooler than the summer
in the tropics. Plain sailing to all!" As many Latitude
readers will remember, Tom did a long singlehanded circumnavigation
with his simple steel boat, spent a year or so back in the Bay
Area, and has since been cruising in Mexico and the South Pacific
again for the last four or five years.
"In one of last month's 'Lectronic Latitudes, you
wrote that you were mystified why more Americans don't cruise
the Med," write Paul and Susan Zupan of the Sausalito-based
72-ft schooner Latitude. "Well, it's also a mystery
to us. We have been here in the Balearic island of Minorca since
October, when we sailed from Barcelona. We thought we would have
moved on to Sardinia by Christmas, but we have been enjoying
this island too much. At this time of year, the tourists have
gone home and we share the island with the locals and a few cruisers.
The weather has been mostly sunny and warm, with only two major
storms. And it's true, we've only run into one American - and
he's been living in Minorca for 20 years! We've met no American
cruisers. However, we have met several really wonderful British
cruisers, and quite a few locals. We have a busy social life
just keeping up with the dinner invitations. The Balearics are
a wonderful place to spend the winter."
If the thought of cruising around the Med appeals to anyone,
they might consider an upcoming Mediterranean Odyssey - although
it would be tough to make the May start unless your boat is already
over there. Anyway, the event begins from Savona - which is near
Genoa, Italy - in May and takes the fleet to France, Spain, the
Balearic Islands, Malta, Tunisia, and finally Greece. The Mediterranean
Odyssey is being organized by Alfredo Giacon of the Italian charter
company CVA, and Ramon Giovani. Both had sailed in the Millennium
Around the World Odyssey.
Berthing applications are now being accepted
at the soon-to-open 200+ berth Ensenada Marina, which is part
of a cruise ship-marina project. In addition, there will be a
new yacht club, the Club Nautico de Ensenada, on site. Nico Sad,
owner of the San Nicolas Resort Hotel, will be the first commodore,
while Julio de A'Costa, a racer from Mexico City, will be the
The above news was forwarded to us by Jens Kolbowski, who we
first met in Mexico in the late '70s when he was cruising his
Cascade 42 Radiant. After swallowing the anchor at age
75, Jens moved to Chula Vista and discovered the Internet. He
now runs the information-filled Baja Web, which you can visit
"We've been cruising in Mexico for four years with Tasha,
our attack cat," report P.J. and Geri Hilliard of the Mazatlan
and San Diego-based Gulf 32 Pilothouse Tsing Tao."
"I want to give you a hearty 'thanks' and 'well-done' concerning
last year's Ha-Ha," writes Rick Gio of the Freya 39 Gypsy
Warrior. "As the Poobah, the Wanderer did a great job
of keeping the fleet in touch with reality and each other. I
was pleasantly surprised at the lack of whining, and give kudos
to everyone in the fleet for their mature approach to the concept
of a rally. Although there were a few gear breakdowns and/or
malfunctions, everyone handled their situations without panic
or finger-pointing. I thoroughly enjoyed myself as I got my racing
'fix', and my wife Maureen was finally exposed to offshore cruising
- and had no complaints. Gypsy Warrior is currently safely
berthed at Marina Ixtapa while we enjoy the holidays with friends
and family in Sebastopol. By the time this gets published, we'll
have returned to the boat and start heading north for the Sea
of Cortez, which we'll explore before heading home in the spring.
As is the case with several other folks in the last Ha-Ha, we'll
be using this year's Ha-Ha as a feeder to Mexico and French Polynesia."
Thanks for the kind words, Rick, we'll look forward to sailing
south with you again in October. By the way, the folks at the
Ha-Ha tell us that they've already received five or six requests
for entry packs. This is not a good thing, as they remain in
hibernation until May 1. So please, hold your horses.
"I just checked-out of Puerto Vallarta," writes John
Anderton of the San Francisco-based Cabo Rico 38 Sanderling,
"and discovered that the new fees at the Port Captain's
office are doubled if the departure date on your crew list is
on a weekend or a Mexican holiday. Of course, you must have a
departure date within 48 hours of the time you visit the Port
Captain, so don't check out on a Friday." Thanks for the
tip. There was always an 'overtime' charge when checking out
on weekends or Mexican holidays, but double the new $15 'port
fee' is too much.
"It's been a non-sailing year for us and our 45-foot sloop
Neeleen," report Ralph and Kathleen Neeley, formerly
of Santa Cruz and Reno, but more recently of Lautoka, Fiji. "But
we plan to sail to Tonga in May and cruise there for five months
before returning to Fiji again."
This is a private note to Peter Miller of Morro Bay: We received
your letter and normally would have published it, but given the
health of the person involved, think it would have been in bad
taste. We think you'll understand. If you don't, email us and
we'll explain it.
"Last night I collapsed into my bunk, exhausted after a
day of too many miles, too much salt spray, and far too much
wind," writes Sigmund Baardsen of the San Diego-based Offshore
40 Mary T - which is currently wintering in Barcelona,
Spain. "Yesterday, I saw big boats planing in huge waves
and daring rescues in terrible conditions - and it all took place
at the Barcelona Boat Show! 'Overwhelming' is the only word that
fits, as there are a staggering 550 exhibitors showing 1,400
boats and other related products. It took six halls covering
550,000 square feet to hold them all - and there were more boats
outside in the water. The ambience is entirely different from
the razzle-dazzle, wheeling and dealing that characterizes U.S.
boat shows. Here the atmosphere is quiet, reserved and dignified.
Few of the people attending the show wore broken down TopSiders,
and none wore aloha shirts. Blazers and ties predominated - and
some of the outfits were very smart indeed. The yacht sales staff
were in full battle dress of blue flannel and brass buttons,
working the latest laptops among artificial tropical gardens
with palm trees. They affirmed a couple of old observations:
1) The best sold boats tend to be the worst built, and 2) There's
an inverse relationship between how highly a boat is polished
and how thick her fiberglass is. Anyway, I visited the show with
a shopping list and my credit card - and was surprised to learn
that it was difficult - if not impossible - to buy most items
on display! Having seen all the flash, I gratefully returned
to our humble 30-year-old Cheoy Lee. By the way, I just received
the November issue - and loved the piece by Racing Editor Rob
Moore, who writes great stuff. Rob and I had sat together on
the windward rail of the N/M 67 Pandemonium during the
MEXORC in which she was sailed by Bill Twist and his crew from
Sig, you're really dating how long you've been on your circumnavigation,
as you and Rob did the MEXORC in '87, and Pando dropped
her keel and disappeared coming back from the TransPac in '89.
(We're still using lots of Pando kites on Profligate.)
Many of our readers will also remember that you and your wife
Mary were among those caught in the middle of the deadly Queen's
Birthday Storm in the South Pacific in '94.
As for all you folks out cruising, here's to hoping that none
of you get caught in a Queen's Birthday Storm. But don't forget
to write. The best way is to .