With reports this month from
Altair on tropical storm Waka that
hit Tonga; from Joss on Roatan; from
Polly Brooks on Borneo, Bangkok,
and wild train rides; from Pogo II
on the result of a summer shakedown in the Lower Caribbean; from
Tropicbird on Malaysia and Thailand;
from Aeolus XC on the passage to
the Galapagos; from Pelagian on cruising
with pets in hot climates; from Kiana
on starting a cruise on the East Coast; and Cruise
Altair - Cal 35
Paul Baker & Suzzette Connolly
Cyclone Waka In Tonga
We're not sure what folks back home may have heard about Tropical
Cyclone Waka, which hit the Vava'u Group of Tonga on New Year's
Eve. The following is an edited report by Justine, the Kiwi woman
who runs the Mermaid Restaurant on the waterfront at the popular
yachting center in Neiafu.
"We survived Tropical Cyclone Waka, which flattened Vava'u
with 80-knot winds and 10-ft waves in the harbor on New Year's
Eve. We got hit hard for about four hours with the first part
of the storm, then the eye passed over and the moon came out.
It was weird. Then Waka hit from the other direction, which is
when we lost our roof. It was pissing rain inside. How do
you save the computer and other electrical stuff when they might
as well be in a swimming pool?
Several barometers recorded 948 hpa - can you believe it? As
Waka was leaving, the barometers rose 30 hpa in half an hour!
Some of us were lucky enough to have handheld VHFs during the
storm, so we got to listen to the incredibly brave - or incredibly
dumb - rescue efforts of a person who finally decided to leave
his doomed boat and swim ashore. For a time, he thought his life
was over. It was reassuring to hear Sandy give updates of the
cyclone's movements as he spoke to Terri and Dave at the Royal
Sunset in Nuku'alofa over the SSB. They provided us with much
info on what was happening and what was to come. They were also
our lifeline to the outside world - which I really appreciated
as I lay under a shower curtain in a corner of the bed wondering
what more the house could withstand. Thanks, guys!
Amazingly enough, Mermaid suffered little damage except for stuff
in the freezer. The waves were so big at the restaurant that
they tore down the big two-meter noticeboard at the back of the
bar. It hasn't been seen since. About a dozen private launches
sank, many yachts dragged their three-ton plus cyclone moorings
across the harbor, and some dragged them even further. Four yachts
went on the rocks, but all were retrievable.
One of The Mooring's catamarans ended up sitting in Anna's Cafe
- as though she were ready for a cup of tea! She was badly holed,
but nonetheless had ground the concrete dock into pieces. Two
boats sank on either side of Mermaid, one of them having been
smashed to pieces. All of Sunsail's boats were fine, although
one dragged a mooring and is now stuck in the mud bottom of the
harbor. Two other boats have evidence of being knocked over to
the point that their masts were in the water - although Tikiti
Boo - which tends to flip in gusts over 70 knots - survived
just fine. She had been secured with tires for storm drogues
and weighted down with batteries.
We had a day to prepare for the approach of the cyclone, which
was good - but tiring. I was exhausted, wet, and cold to the
bone by the time we finished preparations. It was still windy
the day after the cyclone, and everyone wandered around in a
daze, shocked at the damage and destruction. There were
so many mangos laying around that it looked as though it had
rained mangos! There wasn't a scrap of vegetation left whole,
however, as every leaf had been shredded down to the size of
a dime and plastered onto houses, cars, and walls.
The day after Waka, the guys started retrieving boats. It was
a godsend of a day, as there was bright sunshine and the highest
tide of the year!
The best sound I heard was that of the Kiwi Air Force Orion flying
overhead. I was just about in tears while mopping out the house
for the second day in a row trying to get everything dry, when
I looked up through the hole in the roof to see the Orion fly
over. Then I could hear them over the VHF. It made me proud to
be a Kiwi.
The Tongans are amazingly resilient. Three out of every four
houses lost their roofs and their crops have been destroyed on
a large and long term scale - yet they keep on smiling while
they clean up. The Tongan Power Board is actually working
round the clock to restore power - a minor miracle in itself!
Anyway, we all survived and are picking up the pieces. Thanks
to everyone who thought of us and those who managed to get an
email to us before the cyclone hit. We're still smiling."
Justine's report was scary reading for us, as we'd only left
Vava'u at the beginning of November. We then sailed down to Nukua'lofa,
Tonga, then made the long trip to New Zealand's Bay of Islands.
The passage from the South Pacific to New Zealand is often a
very difficult one, but we had a great trip of only eight days.
We had light winds in the beginning, but rocketed along for the
next five days thanks to 20 to 25 knot winds from aft. We arrived
in the Bay of Islands on a pleasant, sunny afternoon.
- paul & suzette 1/15/02
Joss - Gazelle 42
Anna Berg & Ian Gunn
We've covered a few thousand miles aboard our junk-rigged schooner
since we left San Diego in January of 1997. A couple of years
were spent in Mexico, with summers in the Sea of Cortez. We then
headed down the Central American coast and transited the Panama
Canal in September of 1999. We continued north from the San Blas
Islands of Panama in the spring of 2001, and made brief but fantastic
stops at the Colombian-owned islands of San Andres and Providencia
before heading into the northwest Caribbean.
At various times during our trip, we've had to lay Joss up so
we could return home for work or visits. Many of the places have
been covered in Latitude, but we hadn't heard much about
the Bay Islands of Honduras. We had been asking around on the
radio nets for a safe place to spend the 2001 hurricane season,
and Dave of Victoria - who provides weather on the Northwest
Caribbean Net (8188.0 at 1400Z) - suggested Roatan as an alternative
to the recently troubled Rio Dulce of Guatemala. Luckily, the
Bay Islands are just within the 'legal zone' - west of 85°W
- for our boat insurance.
We arrived in the Bay Islands in early June, and started with
a one-month stay at Guanaja, the easternmost island. The island
is beautiful and has fabulous diving, but had too many no-see-ums
for our blood.
Roatan, which is just a few miles further west, has good anchorages
with great reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving. The anchorages
ranged from the relatively private Port Royal to the more touristy
West End. The island has a decent transportation system of buses
and taxis - including going colectivo, to double or triple up,
for cheaper fares - and the stores are well-stocked. After cruising
in Mexico, the provisions seemed expensive - but when compared
to The Bahamas, they were extremely reasonable.
More locals speak English in the Bay Islands than anywhere else
in Honduras, but knowing Spanish still helps. Checking in and
out procedures are about US$40 each way - although we heard that
most of the fees were being done away with for 2002 - and the
officials are decent and polite. There is a good community of
cruisers, including a few who have swallowed the hook and now
live ashore here. There is lots of good cruising in the area.
It's normally downwind to Utila, Cayos Cochinos, and the Honduran
mainland. If you make a straight shot, it's just an overnight
passage to the Rio Dulce and the reefs of Belize.
We found Roatan to be a great place for guests to visit us, especially
if we set them up at West End and West Bay, which have lovely
white sand beaches. Unfortunately, international travel isn't
cheap, with U.S. airfares being unreasonably high. Domestic travel
is more reasonable for trips to San Pedro Sula for a visit to
the Mayan ruins of Copan.
There are some drawbacks to Roatan. 'Eyeball navigation' is recommended,
as the charts and cruising guides can be inaccurate, and the
channel markers are rudimentary. The entrance to French Harbour/Fantasy
Island is a fine example. When visiting for the first time, it's
best to enter/leave while the sun is overhead. Dave of Victoria
is working on a CD-based cruising guide for Roatan, which should
Although Roatan has many banks, there is only one ATM in the
Bay Islands. It's at Coxen Hole, and only works sporadically.
Air shipments of parts or mail are a challenge, as things can
get held up in customs on the mainland. We used FedEx successfully
one time - although FedEx headquarters in the U.S. didn't seem
to know they had an office here. There have also been thefts
in the anchorages, including the taking of outboards and VHF
radios. We raise our dinghy each night and lock our boat, and
have never had a problem.
When we had to leave our boat, we decided to put her at Oak Ridge
Marina. It has six slips located in front of the property and
house owned by Sandy Byrd, and is on the cay just opposite the
quaint and colorful town of Oak Ridge. At $120/month for storage
- $150/month if you stay onboard - it was a good deal, especially
knowing that four boats rode out hurricane Mitch here without
any damage. Power, water, laundry, cold showers and Internet
are available. There's also a boathouse with a covered upstairs
area that's perfect for projects that require a bit of space.
Just across the water is BJ's Backyard - for a taste of island
eating and a cold beer - as well as Bodden's grocery store and
more. If you need to visit French Harbour or Coxen Hole, you
can get a taxi or, better yet, ride the bus with the locals to
get a taste of the island. On the way, you'll pass through Punta
Gorda, the Garifuna village. It's only a short dinghy ride from
Oak Ridge Marina to Jonesville Bight, site of the Hole in the
Wall restaurant/bar, which serves good food and has a Sunday
buffet. The folks at Oak Ridge can be reached .
We've also left our boat for a week at the Roatan Dive &
YC, formerly the French Harbour YC. Their prices are similar
to Oak Ridge Marina, but they have easier access to groceries
and buses. The Club has a nice restaurant, hotel rooms, swimming
pool, a small dive operation, Internet access, cold showers down
by the marina, and very helpful management. When the airline
"misplaced" our baggage - including our SSB radio!
- manager Ron Reed made daily calls to Coxen Hole and San Pedro
Sula, and trips to the airport, to track it down. The whole place
was cleaned and painted when new owners took over about a year
ago. It also has good security and a dinghy dock for those anchored
out in French Harbour. The Roatan Dive & YC can be reached
or visited at www.roatanyachtclub.com.
While we didn't try Brick Bay Marina, which is located further
'down island' and nearer Coxen Hole, other cruisers who did were
quite satisfied. You can reach the marina at (504) 445-1127.
Across on the mainland at La Ceiba is the Lagoon Marina, which
has gotten good reviews. They made be contacted
(or check out the Web site at www.lagoonmarinalaceiba.com).There's also a haulout facility at La Ceiba
that's been recommended.
From the Bay Islands, we headed north for Florida. We stopped
at Isla Mujeres, Mexico, for Christmas and to wait for a break
in the winter Northers. Joss is now at Paradise YC in
Fort Meyers, where her four-foot draft is finally paying off.
Quite a difference from the Pacific!
- anna & ian
- Islander 37
Kirk & Cath McGeorge
Borneo & Bangkok
If you're looking for a place to leave your boat for a few days
near Kota Kinabalu - the capital of the state of Sabah in Malaysian
Borneo - we recommend the bay at Gayana Resort. It's located
on Palau Gaya, a national park and game reserve just a few miles
off the coast. The resort maintains a dozen deep water moorings
and offers complete use of their resort facilities and ferry
service into town - for just $2 a day. It's safe to leave the
boat for a few days while heading off to other adventures - which
is exactly what we did when we flew to Bangkok, Thailand - aka
the Big Chili.
We checked into the Grace Hotel, the same place I had stayed
during my last visit to Bangkok a quarter century ago - when
I arrived with the airwing aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.
Although it had changed a lot, after a few drinks and smokes
it turned out to be exactly as I remembered. Bangkok is a giant
city that offers the best and worst of everything in Asia, and
caters to every human whim. The moment we stepped outside our
hotel, every sense was assaulted by colorful hustlers and people
from every race and walk of life, all offering or searching for
the greatest bargains.
Whatever wish, need or fantasy you might have, it can be fulfilled
in Bangkok - as long as you're willing to go with the flow and
pay the price. For instance, when we ducked into a place to get
out of the nightly monsoon rains, we soon found ourselves smoking
from a large hookah with a bunch of Arab party animals. As our
group danced to desert music into the wee hours of the morning,
I dined on handfuls of roasted grasshopper and beetles, squid
on sticks, mangosteens, prawns, tom yam soup, and Thai salads.
Awesome food! There was even an elephant rocking to the beat
as we ate.
We also took a river cruise through the city and into the barrios
and canals of the Chaophraya River, visited street markets, temples,
and other attractions - including the famous entertainment on
Pat Pong Road. We stayed a week and had a grand time. But a week
of Bangkok was all that our senses, wallets and digestive systems
Our trip back to Borneo at 35,000 feet was interesting. The flight
took us over the broken heart and killing fields of Cambodia
and Viet Nam - including Phnom Penh, the Mekong River and old
Saigon. Even from a great altitude, the pockmarked landscape,
overgrown airstrips, and long abandoned fire-bases are still
clearly visible. After crossing the South China Sea, we had a
layover in the Kingdom of Brunei before finally landing at Kota
Kinabalu. We caught the 1800 ferry back to Pulau Gaya, and were
exhausted and happily back aboard Polly Brooks just in
time for sunset.
Our next big adventure was a great train ride which took us 100
miles down the coast from Kota Kinabalu and up into the jungle
rivers to the end of the North Borneo Railroad line. The railroad
was built over a century ago in an attempt to tame the wild northern
jungles and make the British rubber and copra plantations profitable.
It was a huge undertaking. We had a good look around the old
station and maintenance yard, where we discovered three ancient
Vulcan steam locomotives. One of the locomotives and several
classic coaches had recently been refurbished and put back into
passenger service as a tourist attraction. We considered paying
320 ringgits for the nostalgic 24-mile ride, but settled on the
rusty, dusty economy/cargo train which took us nearly four times
the distance but cost only 15 ringgits!
Our train, with us in a most decrepit coach, pulled out of the
station 10 minutes ahead of the polished steam train. With a
lurch we were off, through flooded rice fields and steamy jungle,
ultimately bound for the village of Tenom. While between stations
30 minutes later, our train came to a slow halt - and then began
rolling backwards! Luckily, we soon rolled to a flat spot and
came to a stop. The crew ran around looking under the carriages,
confirming our suspicion that the brakes had failed. There we
sat, motionless in the middle of a flooded rice field, the only
sounds being the murmur of the passengers and the birds chasing
Before long, we heard the shrill sound of a steam whistle and
the distinct ca-chugging of the old Vulcan somewhere down the
tracks behind us. By and by, it rounded the bend and slowed to
a stop. After belching a hearty breath of white steam, it stood
there huffing and puffing, fire venting out its great nostril,
hot with impatience. Our broken diesel train was blocking the
tracks. After a bunch of finger-pointing and arm-waving by the
crews, it was decided that the only thing to do was to have the
old steam engine push us to the next rail yard where we could
be taken off onto a siderail for repairs. And this was done.
Within two hours, we had another diesel engine and were again
clattering down the tracks. Our next stop was the provincial
town of Beaufort, which is near the border of Sabah and Brunei.
Our train was extended by several more coaches here, as well
as a flatcar, and a livestock car containing a pair of crusty
water buffalo. They put the beasts directly behind the engine,
which wasn't such a good idea, because as soon as we got rolling
the entire train smelled like a water buffalo swamp.
But what a ride, as we soon found ourselves climbing a canyon
alongside the raging and muddy Padas River, winding our way into
the dark jungle of northern Borneo. The train was now packed
to standing room only with sweaty bodies, and the tropical heat
and humidity only enhanced the attacks on our senses. I soon
found comfort from the heat and stench by sitting on a sack of
rice outside on a flatcar among a colorful and entertaining group
The assembly was composed of a dozen fellows from different villages
chatting in a variety of languages. One guy was playing a guitar
accompanied by another with a bamboo flute. Most spoke simple
Bahasa Malay. From my previous years living in Bali, I realized
that I was beginning to understand parts of the jokes and stories.
They were quite surprised when I finally piped into the conversation,
and before long we were all laughing and drinking warm beers
- while sitting outside in the rain and passing spectacular scenery
around each bend. The foliage was thick enough to form canopies,
and the bright green jungle formed tunnels through which the
Eventually, we arrived at our destination of Tenom. We were bruised,
dirty, hungry - and five hours late. We checked into a Chinese
hotel whose name I cannot recall or recommend, and after a cool
shower and short rest, set out to find a good place to eat. We
discovered an Indian Islamic restaurant, and enjoyed a grand
feast - while watching The Matrix play on big screens
mounted on every wall. All this deep in the heart of Borneo.
We attempted to hire a taxi the following morning to act as a
tour guide at points of interest in the national park on our
way back to Kota Kinabalu, but none of the drivers were interested.
While haggling over the idea, we missed the only first class
train out of town. We resigned ourselves to sitting in the shade
under a giant tree and watching the local Sunday football games
in the park across from the station while waiting for the noon
cargo train. When we finally boarded the train for the trip down
the mountain, it was nearly empty, and we were able to score
When we reached Beaufort, we discovered that the first class
train we missed had been derailed! In fact, it was lying on its
side just outside of town, and many people had been hurt. At
that point we decided that we'd had enough of romantic train
adventures, and left the station looking to catch a bus for the
remainder of the trip. Because of its proximity to the river,
Beaufort is an old logging town with narrow streets lined with
funky, two-story wooden buildings, and wooden sidewalks. It looks
much like an western ghost town in the U.S. - except that it's
alive with Chinese shops, restaurants, and wealthy timber barons.
We settled into an old restaurant for a cold beer and were quickly
joined by Ibraham, the town idiot. He had a great, toothless
smile and a lunatic's laugh. The proprietor and every passerby
indicated to us that he was gila gila, and shook their heads
in pity. But he certainly seemed to enjoy himself while listening
to us talk, and at times would indulge us with his thoughts on
our subject of discussion - in perfect English. Then he'd go
back to ranting and giggling to himself in Mandarin, Malay and
During a break in my conversation with Cath, our idiot friend
looked at Cath and said, "Excuse me, but may I have cigarette?!"
Everyone said he was the village idiot, but I had a feeling that
the man was quite happy, quite intelligent and quite mad! When
I asked how many languages he spoke, he replied, "English,
Chinese, German, Malay, Japanese, Bahasa Indonesian, and Tagolog!"
He giggled after mentioning each language, and at the end broke
into a lunatic's laughing rage.
When we finally caught the bus, it was much more comfortable
than the train - cushy seats, air-conditioning, and kung-fu movies!
Just outside of town, we slowed and passed the carnage of the
train we had missed. The following day, we learned that two children
had been killed and scores hospitalized. The same train derailed
again a week later.
It's easy to find reasons to linger in nice places, so we decided
to stick around Kota Kinabalu for one more week in order to attend
the Sabah Harvest Festival. It was a terrific two-day pageant
and competition, with colorful costumes, music, games, and food.
It takes place every year around the end of May.
We stayed on our mooring at the Gayana Resort a total of 36 days
and made some great new friends, learned a few new tricks, explored
the pristine jungles, had tons of fun, and made a new awning
for Polly Brooks. Then we departed for Pulau and Labuan.
This was in June of last year.
- kirk & cath 10/01
Pogo II - CSY 44
Craig Owings & Sarah Terry
Six Month Summer Shakedown
(Pedro Miguel Boat Club, Panama)
Sarah and I returned to Panama and the old Pedro Miguel Boat
Club after a six-month summer shakedown of Pogo II in
the lower Caribbean. The boat performed well and the punch list
of things to fix is small, so we should have her ready for a
jump off to the Galapagos and Ecuador around March of this year.
During a November visit back to the States to see family and
friends, we stopped by the Fort Lauderdale and St. Pete boat
shows. We saw all kinds of great things to make life more interesting
and comfortable on a boat. One of the best gizmos was a 15-inch
LCD computer monitor by Samsung, complete with a built-in TV
receiver and all the extra input jacks. The light flat panel
unit has stereo speakers built-in, making it ideal for the bulkhead
of a boat. All you have to do is add a DVD player and the evening
is ready for a great social event. It costs a miserly $599 with
a factory rebate of $50 at Best Buy. They also make a 17-inch
version, but we couldn't find one.
The holiday season here at the Pedro Miguel has been one party
after another, with the club chock-a-block with boats. Yes, the
Pedro Miguel is still going strong, and we don't see any reason
why it will not continue to do so in the future. The old Lima
crane is still huffing and chuffing the boats in and out of the
water with hardly a complaint. This year's Christmas dinner at
the club featured all of the traditional trimmings - and some
fine barbequed kids. I'm not speaking of errant children - although
sometimes the thought is tempting - but rather of a couple of
young goats. A vote of the visitors at the last potluck overwhelmingly
chose goat to turkey, although some suggestions were made for
the club's geese.
Sarah continues to get younger with each day of retirement after
finishing her career with the Panama Canal. I don't even look
back, as my retired life is busier than when I was employed.
- craig & sarah 1/15/02
Tropicbird - Wilderness 40
(Santa Fe, New Mexico)
Having just spent two weeks in northern Thailand, a week in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia, and now being in Langkawi, Malaysia, I can
report that I've always felt perfectly safe.
The stretch from Langkawi to Phuket, Thailand, is a wonderful
place to base a yacht. As anyone can see by paging through a
copy of Sail Thailand, the area has lots of lovely islands. It's
also economical, as berthing or hardstand at Rebak Resort - a
nice four-ish star hotel in Langkawi - is less than $6/foot/month.
I've forgotten the rates at Boat Lagoon and Yacht Haven, but
they are comparable. No matter where you dine out, the food is
delicious and inexpensive. Airfares to the States are cheap at
about $600 per roundtrip, with up to one year to return. The
area admittedly doesn't have the consistent winds of the Caribbean,
but it's more reliable than in Mexico.
For those not familiar with this part of the world, Malaysia
and Thailand are very different - which is part of the attraction
of both. Malaysia is much more prosperous, doesn't have corruption,
allows yachts to stay indefinitely, and permits yacht gear to
come into Langkawi duty-free. Although Malaysia is mostly Muslim,
it's proudly multi-cultural and multiracial. It's not a sexually
charged country, and the women dress and behave modestly. The
food is delicious.
Thailand, on the other hand, is poor. When it comes to corruption,
it makes Mexico look like Finland. Yachts can only stay in the
country 180 days, and imported yacht gear is subject to steep
duties. Thais - especially the ethnic Thai Buddhists - divide
the world into Thais, who are always favored, and farangs, as
foreigners are called. Thailand is known for its sex tourism,
but the domestic prostitution is an even larger industry. Philandering,
often commercially, is a national pastime. Thai women are beautiful
and dress to show it. The food is also delicious.
The differences certainly favor Malaysia when it comes to economic
development. Boeing, for example, is building a plant to make
part of all its aircraft wings in northern Malaysia. Wave Master
is opening a superyacht center in Langkawi, with a 500-ton Travelift
and berthing for 40 yachts of 225 feet. Sunsail just added 14
boats to its fleet at the Langkawi YC base. Kuala Lumpur, the
capital of Malaysia, has enough post-modern buildings to be a
'must visit' city for students of architecture.
It's unclear how this will all play out over the years, but I
could easily leave Tropicbird here. By the way, I've had
her on the hard in Langkawi since this time last year. I had
planned to return here for land and sea travelling earlier last
year, but my friend Patti - who had sailed up the east coast
of Oz and to here with me - was afraid to come back. Both she
and her mother had watched too much CNN. So I've been travelling
on land by myself. I'll return next year for some local cruising
before heading west. At last rumor, about 50 boats currently
in the area were going to head to and up the Red Sea - despite
the current tensions.
- leslie 12/15/01
Aeolus XC - N/A
Malcolm & Jackie Holt
El Salvador To The Galapagos
The three of us - Malc, Jackie and King Neptune - shared part
of a bottle of good rum at six minutes past midnight on November
22, the exact moment that we crossed the equator. We don't make
a habit of drinking on passages, it's just that you don't let
as auspicious an occasion as a first crossing of the equator
go unrecognized. Nor do you deny Neptune his tot.
Minutes earlier I - Malc - watched the first quarter moon set
over the western horizon. As bright as it had been in the night
sky, it turned into a brilliant orange smile - like a toothless
Jack o' Lantern - as it hovered low over the sea. Then it slid
from view, leaving me with the distinct feeling that it was Mother
Nature's way of welcoming us to the threshold of the southern
hemisphere. Overhead were millions of stars in a clear sky, and
directly ahead lay the Southern Cross, pointing the way. Such
are the benefits of travel in a small boat. You don't get such
moments aboard a 747!
Our passage to the Galapagos from El Salvador - via Costa Rica's
Cocos Island - took two weeks and two days. That included the
four days we stayed at Cocos. Nearly all our sailing was beating
hard into a headwind. It was extremely tough going - and tough
on Aeolus XC, too. Although it's an 800-mile passage on
the rhumbline, we had to sail almost 1,200 miles to get there.
But on the final day of our passage, our appetite for this nature
reserve was whetted by the sight of giant turtles and huge manta
rays. Both the turtles and rays seemed to be about 10 feet across.
And the birds were truly amazing, completely different from the
other seabirds we'd grown accustomed to.
We arrived at Academy Bay on Santa Cruz Island in the afternoon,
and soon were laying on bow and stern anchors to keep our bow
pointed into the swells that rolled into the harbor. The water
in the anchorage is almost crystal clear except for some brilliant
blue coloring. The island landscape we can see from our boat
looks surreal: dry, cactus-strewn, and sage colored.
Just so nobody in the States gets too envious about our situation,
be advised that although the Galapagos are located in the tropical
zone, it sure doesn't feel like it. It's generally cloudy with
frequent showers and heavy downpours, but most of all it's surprisingly
cool! As I write this, it's 70° - which after Mexico and
Central America is quite chilly. And thanks to the effects of
the Humboldt Current that sweeps up the west coast of South America
from the Antarctic Sea, the water is also cool.
We've now been here a week. After catching up on our rest, we've
been busy fixing things - a big part of the cruising life - and
trying to get a fix on the Galapagos. What an amazing place!
Now that we're here, we're finally beginning to appreciate the
impact that Charles Darwin's observations and thesis made on
modern science. We sit and look at the same creatures - especially
the finches - and try to understand more about ourselves as a
species. The Galapagos has a profound impact on visitors, and
we plan to return to the Charles Darwin Research Center another
time before we leave.
- malcolm & jackie 12/05/01
Pelagian - Hans Christian 38T
Sharon Cochran Jensen, D.V.M.
Cruising With Pets In Hot Climes
(Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island, WA)
During the last winter cruising season, Pelagian was in
Mexican waters for many months, finally leaving when the temperature
rose above 100°. We observed that our wonderful Third Mate,
Leif, a healthy neutered male cat who had not cruised in such
hot environments, struggled to remain adequately hydrated during
the most extreme heat. As a veterinarian, at times I tend to
be overly concerned about my pet's health, but in this instance
I noted concrete observations which were alarming. After helping
Leif get a paw back up toward appropriate hydration, I decided
to write this short article to help other cruisers in hot climes
For our own physiologic well-being, we consume a lot of Gatorade
- in addition to plain water - when the temperatures rise above
90°. This helps replace electrolyte loss due to copious sweating.
For pets, plain water is adequate - if they do not become dehydrated.
The purpose of this article is to aid the pet owner in preventing
dehydration by practicing careful monitoring of the animal and
some basic preventative measures. Once dehydration has taken
place, the management of fluid balance becomes more complicated.
A few facts about fluid balance and dog/cat physiology:
Cats and dogs are not capable of sweating as much as humans,
and therefore must pant to lose heat. Panting cools the animal
but also results in a large loss of moisture - which leads to
dehydration unless the fluid is replaced. Dogs are more likely
to overheat than cats, but both merit careful observation in
In general, 60% of body weight is water; two-thirds of it is
within the cells and the rest is extracellular - meaning in the
veins, lymphatic and other compartments. When the extracellular
region suffers fluid loss, dehydration becomes apparent to the
trained observer. Signs to look for include: dry mucous membranes
(sticky mouth, dry tongue, dry eyes); sunken eyes (the third
eyelid present in the inside or rostral corner of the eye may
be apparent); and/or loss of skin turgor.
Try this test to learn about skin turgor: pinch a small piece
of skin just above your wrist and let it go. It will snap back
in place quickly. Dehydration results in a loss of elasticity,
so skin will be slow to snap back into place. If your pet is
a friendly sort, try this test by gently pinching a bit of skin
just tailward from the shoulder blades. The skin will pull back
in place readily - assuming your pet is not a CharPei or other
exuberantly fleshed breed and assuming that your pet is well
hydrated. When dehydrated, this elasticity of the skin is noticeably
diminished due to loss of tissue water.
When your pet shows normal skin turgor and the eyes are not sunken
but the mucous membranes seem a bit dry, your furry friend is
already estimated to be 4 to 5% dehydrated. At this stage of
the game, you can safely get your pet rehydrated at home or on
the boat, but allowing the problem to progress further will require
the need for medical intervention. At 8 -10% dehydration and
above, your pet will show dehydration in all of the ways listed
above. He/she will also have a weak, rapid pulse. Dogs average
a pulse of 70 - 120 beats per minute, while cats are 120 - 140
bpm. Monitoring rectal temperature is also helpful. Dogs average
102° (38.9C) and cats 101.5° (38.6C).
Urine output is another very useful tool for evaluating the hydration
of a cat who uses a litter box with clumping type litter. Dogs,
of course, are difficult to evaluate except along the most basic
observations of frequency and volume. Dogs produce 20 - 100 ml
of urine per kilogram of body weight a day. Cats should have
a urine output of 10 -20 ml per kilogram of body weight per day.
For example, our sea cat Leif weighs approximately 14 pounds
or about 6.4 kilograms - and therefore should make 64 to 128
ml of urine per day. Using the rough estimate that a cup of wetted
clumping litter represents 150 ml of urine output, Leif should
produce a little less than 1/2 cup to a little less than 7/8
cup wetted, clumping litter. Of course, one will typically eyeball
the amount and factor this information in with how the pet appears
and is behaving.
How can this information be used to easily evaluate your cruising
Math class is over now, so please pay attention once again. I
first noticed that our pet was struggling to keep up with his
water needs when he became more lethargic than usual, showed
decreased appetite, and seemed to drink less water per day. When
I paid attention to the daily urine volume, I noted that it seemed
less than usual. Without doing the math, I empirically began
giving him water by mouth with a syringe - about 10 to 20 ml
every two to three hours over the course of one day. His attitude
changed favorably after just one day of this, his urine output
increased, and we were out of the woods.
When under heat stress, pets need an average of 60 - 80 ml/kg
body weight of fluid per day. For Leif, that's about 400 ml per
day. When heat conditions become extreme, I advise that you measure
the volume of water you place in your pet's dish every morning.
If possible, measure the amount left at noon, at night, and again
in the morning to get a reasonable assessment of what is consumed
as opposed to a combination of what's consumed and what evaporates.
Along with evaluation of behavior, a crude evaluation of urine
output and careful monitoring of the eyes, mucous membranes and
skin turgor, you should have a reasonably accurate idea of how
your pet is faring during hot weather. If you notice any deviation
from normal, simply augment what your pet is drinking by providing
an additional flavored beverage - beef, chicken or fish broth
is good - and/or force fluid via syringe for a cat or small dog
or, perhaps a turkey baster for a large dog.
The best defense is a good offense. Provide clean, fresh drinking
water at all times. Don't forget to scrub out the bowl whenever
fresh water goes into the bowl. Your pet needs and deserves clean,
potable water as much as every other member of the crew. Finally,
don't forget that water produced by a deionizer is very depleted
of electrolytes. If your pet is not eating adequately and only
drinking water, please remember to add a small amount of salt
to the water or tempt it to eat with some treat or another to
avoid electrolyte depletion.
On a sad note, I warned one cruiser in Mexico about the potential
for dehydration, and later learned that their pet suffered and
almost died from this problem while sailing the Sea of Cortez.
They were only able to save their cat's life by locating a veterinarian
and obtaining prompt administration of intravenous fluid.
Kiana - Wauquiez 45
Paul & Lynn Elliott
Seru Boca Marina, Curaçao
We bought our boat on the East Coast, so rather than trucking
her back to the West Coast to begin cruising, we started back
there. We spent five months in the Bahamas in '99-'00, during
which time we learned that there's not enough water there for
a boat that draws eight feet. We later returned to Annapolis
to have the rig checked and have some modifications made before
taking off for more extended cruising. Paul - along with a hired
captain and one crew - finally left Annapolis on December 1.
They spent three days waiting for good weather in Virginia, then
made the trip to the British Virgins in 12 days. Once they got
to the BVIs, Lynn replaced the delivery crew.
We spent the next eight months sailing 'down island' to the Grenadines,
then across to Venezuela's offshore islands - including four
weeks among the Los Roques and Los Aves. We loved the French
Islands of the Eastern Caribbean, but didn't like the former
English islands as much because the 'boat-boys' quickly became
so tiresome. We think these boys have been spoiled by the charterboat
crews to the extent that cruisers can't afford what they ask
for their services. Despite our trying to be nice, they were
very aggressive. The snorkeling in the Venezuelan islands - as
well as at Bonaire and Curaçao - was wonderful.
We left the boat for the summer at a secure marina in Curaçao,
and will return to her for this winter season. After beating
our way back to Grenada, we'll sail down to Trinidad for Carnival.
Our longer term plan is to spend another two seasons in the Trinidad-Venezuela
area - which is much less expensive than the rest of the Eastern
Caribbean - before heading to the Panama Canal and then up the
West Coast of Mexico. By the way, is there a guide for sailing
up the West Coast from the Canal? We realize this is the wrong
way and we are not sure we have the experience for the Pacific
yet. But we want to do the West Coast anyhow.
- paul & lynn 12/01
Paul & Lynn - There are three ways
to get from Panama to California: 1) By way of Hawaii. 2) The
clipper ship route, which means you sail about halfway to Hawaii
before flopping back to lay California. And, 3) Coastal sailing
along Central America and Mexico to California. Check out Robert
Case's report, as he made this passage to finish up his circumnavigation.
By the way, if you've sailed from the Northeast to the Bahamas
and back, then to and through the Eastern Caribbean, and finally
spent two more years in the Caribbean, it seems to us you'd have
all the experience necessary for the Pacific. Unless, of course,
you're thinking of messing around in the Roaring Forties.
One of the best things about being a yachting journalist is that
no matter what port you're in, you're apt to bump into an old
friend. For example, while in St. Barts over the holidays, we
were standing in front of Cheeseburgers in Paradise, when a guy
walked by who looked a lot like Dale Goff. In the '80s, Dale
was a young guy spending all his money restoring and maintaining
the schooner Landfall on San Francisco Bay. As we remember,
Dale's dad thought it was something of a waste of time. It had
been years since we'd seen Dale, so we weren't sure if the guy
walking by Cheeseburgers was really him. But it was. It turns
out that Goff had just become the skipper of a boat cruising
the Caribbean - a near new 95-ft S&S named Valkyrie.
So Dale's not only doing something he loves, but he's obviously
very successful at it. He says "hello" to all his friends
back in Sausalito. A day or two later while walking around Gustavia,
we bumped into Edda Rottscheidt, who had done the 1999 Ha-Ha
aboard the Lagoon 37 Adia. Edda has been cruising the
Caribbean aboard a Tayana 52 for the last few months with a guy
she met through a crew list. Alas, she's about to return to San
Francisco to resume her career.
"Talk about tight weather windows!" writes Larry Jacobson
of the San Francisco-based Stevens 50 cutter Julia. "We'd
already missed the usual fall weather window, so storm front
after front rolled across Northern California and kept us from
starting our cruise. So my crew - Ken Smith, Patrik Hendrickson,
Bill Claypool, Rajat Dutta, and Bob Beth - started waiting for
just a 48-hour window to get south of Conception without getting
hammered. We finally got one on December 7, so we raced beneath
the Gate and headed south before the next front that was moving
in fast. We made it around Pt. Conception - where it was calm
as could be - and into Santa Barbara in just 48 hours, happy
to have made it around California's kneecap! We're currently
in San Diego trying to reduce the number of projects that need
to be completed. But the crew wants warm, so warm it shall be
- Wednesday we head south to Cabo. After dawdling on the Mexican
mainland, we'll take the first opportunity to cross the pond
to the Marquesas. Our plan is to be in Auckland by November of
next year, and we hope to stay through the America's Cup. After
that we'll continue west, although which way will depend on the
political situation in the Middle East. We've been told that
if we sail west long enough, we'll eventually sail right back
under the fabulous Golden Gate!"
Nobody asked us, but if you're going to be sailing south to Southern
California and Mexico, we at Latitude recommend that you
get south of Conception by the middle of October, and well south
of San Diego by the first week in November. If you do, you'll
almost certainly have an endless summer and miss winter altogether.
If you delay, however, you should expect some very chilly temperatures
and having to wade through southerly fronts. In fact, if you
have an open schedule, we suggest that you head south to Southern
California in early September, so you'll have enough time to
fully enjoy the great cruising at the Channel Islands, Catalina,
and along the Southern California coast during the two best months
of the year - September and October.
"We're in Panama with our Canal transit coming up next week,"
report Doug and Judy Decker of the Milwaukee-based Beneteau 37
Limerence. "We have seen a few other boats from our
Ha-Ha 2000 group, including George Conger of the Livingston,
Texas-based Valiant 40 Chanticleer. We also met up with
John and Amanda Neal of the Hallberg-Rassy 46 Mahina Tiare,
who were transiting to the Pacific after returning from their
trip to Northern Europe last year. While here, we put together
a little cruising guide to Panama that your readers might enjoy."
Thanks for the informative mini cruising guide to Panama - which
we'll be publishing next in the March 1 edition. It should prove
helpful for all the cruisers who will soon be flooding south
"When we returned to our boat at Paradise Village near Puerto
Vallarta in early January, it was after all the wet stuff in
San Francisco, and we were looking forward to enjoying some sunny
Mexican cruising," report Steve and Marilyn Hunt of the
Lafayette-based Brewer 47 Triumph. "The second night
here, however, we were awakened early in the morning by rain
coming through the hatch - which isn't that unusual. We closed
the hatches and went back to sleep. But before long, we started
hearing hailstones bombarding our decks. That's right, hail in
paradise! It's not only unusual, nobody can remember it happening
before. It was accompanied by thunder and lightning, as well
as strong winds. The boats across the channel in Nuevo Vallarta
claimed that it blew 50 knots, but we didn't have anything quite
that strong by Paradise Resort's big bulkhead. When I went out
on deck in the morning, there was a two-inch accumulation of
3/8" hailstones still piled up along the handrails! How
often do you get the chance to have a snowball fight in Puerto
Vallarta? It's now a week later, and once again it is warm and
beautiful - the norm for winter here."
"We read about the fellow Ha-Ha skipper who had a bad experience
with his Visa card in Cabo," report Blair and Joan Grinols
of Capricorn Cat. "There have been a couple of bad
incidents around here in Melaque also. Two skippers reported
that shortly after buying fuel in Barra de Navidad with their
Visa cards, large charges were made against their accounts by
a furniture store in Cabo San Lucas. I put the word out on all
of the radio nets, so hopefully nobody else will get burned.
I also bent the port captain's ear about it. He said that all
we could do was report it to the marina office so they could
start an investigation. We've done that."
"It's now a week later," Blair and Joan continue, "and
we're having a great time down here in Z-town. But we're a little
tired from attending so many parties, dinners, and volleyball
games on the beach! We went over the hill to Ixtapa a few days
ago for dinner and a movie, and afterwards stopped at Rick's
Bar to listen to the Peruvian flute players. The next day, a
bunch of friends joined us for dinner at a swanky restaurant
overlooking the bay to celebrate Joanie's birthday. Last night
we had drinks in the bar of a super expensive hotel overlooking
the bay, then we enjoyed dinner at a beachside palapa. So life
is tough. Tomorrow we're taking a boatload of cruisers - the
ones who couldn't get on the list for last week's trip - for
a snorkel outing to Isla Grande aboard Capricorn Cat.
There's already a waiting list for next week's trip. Friday afternoon
we're having a dinghy raft-up and hors d'oeuvres party on our
boat so everybody can mingle and watch the sunset. Whew!"
What Blair failed to mention is that by the time this issue hits
the streets, his Capricorn Cat and our Profligate
will have sailed a charity race in Z-town during the Zihau Sail
Fest on behalf of some of the indigenous people who live nearby.
If Cap Cat can carry 25 people, and if Profligate
can carry 40, and everybody chips in $25, over $1,500 should
be raised. All of the money will go to the Indians, much of it
for helping them learn to speak Spanish!
Mariners now have to check in with the port captain here at La
Cruz de Huanacaxtle, which is about 10 miles north of Puerto
Vallarta," reports Joe Scirica of the Redondo Beach-based
Beneteau 40 CC Music. "But it's a painless process.
Just fill out the form that he gives you, have your exit papers
from the last port, and pay him the fee. It helps to have close
to exact change. At this point there is no immigration, no API,
and no having to go to the bank. La Cruz continues to have a
great cruiser community, so it's worth the small hassle."
"In New Zealand it is clearly and widely understood that
cruisers are exempt the goods and services tax on boat related
expenditures," advise Kris and Sandra Hartford of the St.
Albert, Alberta, Canada-based Nomotos. "It's supposed
to be the same in Australia, but cruisers have generally found
that Australian businesses don't want to bother with it. As a
result, cruisers have had to do all of the running around to
get the information from the government, and even so, some companies
still refuse to go by the law. It got so bad that a few cruisers
hired a lawyer to threaten legal action if one chandlery didn't
give their GST back. Qualifying for a GST exemption is not difficult,
as a foreign cruiser only has to show his passport, boat registration,
and Temporary Australian Boat Importation. GST has only been
in effect in Australia for about a year, so hopefully things
will improve. By the way, Latitude was the most read sailing
magazine in Mexico, and we're pleased to report that it's also
the case 'out here' - when we're lucky enough to get a copy.
We appreciate your forthright approach in reporting the good
and bad points of products, services, and suppliers. It figures
highly in our decision-making as well as in that of our fellow
cruisers. Please keep up the good work!"
Thanks for the kind words. We'd be nothing without the great
contributions from readers - such as the one you just made. Another
kind of great contribution is when readers headed out to their
boats in distant waters, or friends' boats in distant waters,
bring along a bunch of Latitudes. You'll be loved by all
the cruisers who haven't seen a Latitude in a while, and
you'll be loved by us for helping with our distribution.
"Joyeux noël et bonne annee a vous tous! Nous pensons
a vous depuis nortre petite ile de Marquises perdue au milieux
du Pacifique. A bientot." So write Georges, Thily, and their
sons An and Kheo. Georges built a high-performance 46-ft cat
Toko-Toko in France, after which the family sailed her across
the Atlantic. They did day charters for a few years out of St.
Barts - which is where we met them - and are currently on their
second year in the Pacific. Georges is French, Thily is - if
we're not mistaken - Vietnamese, and their sons are handsome
Eurasians. What a great family! If anybody sees them in the Pacific,
please give them our regards.
"It's two days before Christmas and we're here at Pedro
Miguel Boat Club inside the Panama Canal with the crews of 25
other boats," report Richard Brooker and Grace Spencer of
the Winnipeg, Canada-based Mystery Cove 38 cat Crocodile Rock.
"While some cruisers have gone home for the holidays, the
rest of us are just trying to keep up with the hectic social
calendar of potluck dinners, Xmas parties, quilting classes,
movie nights, and the usual evening rounds of Mexican Train dominoes.
How will we survive? The Pedro Miguel BC can only be described
as 'funky', and many of the cruisers who stop - it's part of
the way through a Canal transit - discover that it's hard to
leave. Thanks to the great management of Jim and Heather Andrews,
the club is once again the place to be in Panama. Other West
Coast boats now here include Djarrka of Morro Bay, Wave
Dancer of Anacortes, C-Lise II of Seattle, About
Time of L.A., Shilo of Huntington Beach, Tulameen
of Vancouver, B.C., Desiderata of San Francisco, Germania
II of Long Beach, Second Life of San Francisco, and
Pretty Woman of Sacramento. The rest of the boats are
from all over the world, from Germany to Hong Kong. Since we
work along the way to support our cruising habit, we couldn't
let a great business opportunity pass us by. With over 600 yachts
transiting each year, the Canal is one of the great boating crossroads
of the world. Yet there are almost no yachting services. So we've
decided to stay for a year and develop a rigging and yacht services
business. It's already become an instant success. It also helps
that Grace loves Panama!"
"As for Michael Beattie and Layne Goldman's comment in the
October Changes that "there is nothing there" in Corinto,
Nicaragua," Richard and Grace continue, "we suppose
it all depends on what a person expects. The anchorage at Corinto
was secure, the town was exceptionaly clean, the people were
friendly and helpful (without having their hands out), and the
food was tasty. Except for one official trying to get double
the $15 US fee for the exit zarpe - Silvio quickly corrected
that - the officials were welcoming and accomodating. We don't
need more than this to have a great time."
"We just arrived at the Santa Lucia YC in La Libertad, Ecuador,
after a five-day passge from the Galapagos Islands," report
Jackie and Malcolm of a boat whose name, type, and hailing port
they neglected to include. "We are well, but are looking
forward to some rest and some good Christmas food. Fortunately,
there is a wonderful supermarket nearby where we were able to
buy most of the familiar Christmas items - including a turkey
and brussel sprouts!"
"We're West Coast sailors who decided to ship our boat from
San Diego to Louisiana," report Ken and Becky Gunderson
of the Portland-based Northern 37 ketch Polaris. "We're
now sailing our boat along the Gulf States and will soon sail
south along the west coast of Florida to Key West. Would you
be interested in a story of our adventures?" Of course,
we'd be interested. But don't forget photos of yourselves, your
boat, and a couple of the places that you've been.
"It pleases me to greet you very kindly on behalf of the
Hemingway International YC of Cuba, as well as to wish you a
Happy New Year 2002 with success and good health," writes
Lic. Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich, Commodore of the Hemingway Int.
YC. "In the year of the 10th Anniversary of the Hemingway
Int. YC of Cuba, founded on May 21st of 1992, we will work with
much more love for the contribution of the recreational boating
and nautical tourism development in Cuba, and for the strengthening
of the collaboration and friendly relations with the international
nautical community." Jose Diaz is a great guy. If you take
your boat to Cuba and find yourself in some sort of difficulty
- which almost certainly won't happen - and see if he can't help you.
"It's been a couple of years since the '99 Ha-Ha, and Debbie
and I are presently hanging out at Fanning Island, Kirabati Islands,
waiting out tropical cyclone season," report Jeff and Debbie
Hartjoy of the Washington-based Baba 40 ketch Sailor's Run.
"We're sending you an article - via the Norwegian Star cruise
ship that operates out of Hawaii - to bring your readers up to
date on our latest adventures. Come May, we'll sail to American
Samoa, and lay the boat up for two months while we return home
to visit family and friends. We'd like to thank Latitude
and Andy for the Pacific Puddle Jump Party that you put on at
Paradise Marina. It was a great help in preparing a diverse group
of sailors - with a wealth of information - for safe and interesting
passages to and through French Polynesia. We're currently 2.5
years into our 15-year circumnavigation, and are still having
fun. By the way, we plan to have a digital camera within the
next six months, so that should help with our future reports."
Once you try digital, Jeff and Debbie, you'll never go back to
film. In case anybody missed our article on digital cameras,
we'll summarize it as follows: Don't get anything under 3 million
pixels, the bigger the optical zoom the better, and 'digital
zoom' is for suckers. Nikon and Olympus are among those who make
fine 'pro-sumer digitals', but one that meets most of our needs
is the Fujifilm 6900, which has a terrific zoom lens despite
being light and compact. Check it out!
The date of this year's Pacific Puddle Jump Party - which the
Hartjoy's referred to, is March 5. It's co-hosted by Latitude
and Paradise Resort & Marina. The event is only for those
headed across the Pacific this year.
Paradise Marina & Resort gets mentioned quite a bit in Cruise
Notes because there are a lot of things going on there. But
we'd also love to get reports and updates from marinas all over
Mexico - to say nothing about the rest of the Pacific, the Caribbean,
the Med, and Asia. Write us and tell us what's happening.
"We sailed west from Ventura on April 21, 2000, until we
got to the tradewinds, then turned south, and 23 days later we
arrived at Hiva Oa in the Marquesas," report Barry and Lynne
Thompson of the China Lake-based Wauquiez 38 Sunrise.
"We then continued on the Milk Run to Opua, New Zealand,
arriving on October 31 after an extremely easy run from Tonga.
We bought a car that we used - along with our feet - for touring
all over New Zealand. We're currently hunkered down here at Opua,
waiting for the summer vacation madness to abate before we do
some more sailing in the Bay of Islands and to the north."
"We spent Christmas and New Year's anchored at Middle Cove
on Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez," report Steve and
Angelina Phillips of the Napa-based Catalina 42 Fruitcakes.
"The anchorage is big enough for maybe three boats, but
we - and our three dogs - were the only ones there for 10 days.
Except for the occasional kayakers, we also had the beach to
ourselves to enjoy the full moon - and get the Baja 'jump start'
of the libido that you have documented in the last few issues.
We also drove the Baja Highway for the first time in eight years
and were stunned by the growth in the Tijuana-Ensenada corridor.
Wow! There's now a movie studio near where I used to camp and
surf in the '70s."
"After watching many vessels get stuck in the mud trying
to get into the lagoon at Barra de Navidad, the crews of Slainte
and Li'l Gem set buoys to mark the channel," report Allan
and Liz of Slainte. "Janet of Bambolera contacted
the port captain in Barra to get permission to set the buoys.
The entrance is pretty straightforward. After passing the Grand
Bay Hotel Marina entrance, head toward the island in the lagoon
on 130° magnetic. You should point your bow 100 feet to the
left of the island. Then look back and keep the two red commercial
buoys in line with each other all the way to the island. The
red commercial buoys will stay at 310° magnetic. The four
buoys set by Slainte and Li'l Gem will be clearly
visible as you proceed to the lagoon on 130°. Do not turn
into the lagoon until you're 150 feet from the island. The channel
is between 10 to 17 feet deep at low tide, and over 100 feet
wide. The lagoon is nearly 600 feet square, with depths of between
9 and 14 feet. I've enclosed a chart. Barra has some great things
to offer - including Tessa's excellent hamburgers and homemade
milkshakes, the view from Casa Chips, the ATM, a French bakery,
several other fine restaurants, and other good stores. And, it's
just a 10-minute bus ride to the nearby beachfront town of Melaque,
where there's more fun to be had and exploring to be done."
Allan and Liz created a chartlet of the Barra de Navidad entrance
and lagoon. It can be found at www.latitude38.com,
'Lectronic Latitude for Monday, January 28. Use the chartlet
at your own risk, of course, as those who set the buoys and created
the chartlets are not professionals and because conditions change
"We're not at Bahia Herradura, Costa Rica," report
Mike and Gail Cannady of the Longview, Washington-based Cal 34
Mark III Wild Rover. "After the 2000 Ha-Ha, we -
and our two cats - spent six month harbor-hopping down the coast
of Mexico, then crossed the Gulf of Tehauntepec in May. Guatemala
and El Salvador had not been high on our list of places to visit,
but we ended up spending two months in these countries, doing
lots of travel inland. Barillas Marina in El Salvador was a great
place to do maintenance and repairs, and to leave the boat while
making quick trips home. And San Juan de Sur, Nicaragua is not
to be missed. We're now enjoying Costa Rica, which is beautiful
and clear. Being from the Pacific Northwest, we don't think we
could have survived the dry heat of the Sea of Cortez, so we're
glad we kept heading south. Our advice to cat owners is to stock
up on kitty litter in Acapulco, as you won't find anymore - unless
you go inland - until Costa Rica.
"We're back in Puerto Escondido after a trip home to California
for the holidays," advise Dave and Merry Wallace of the
Redwood City-based Amel Maramu Air Ops. "It rained
almost every day back home, but it was good to see the family.
While driving back down the coast of Baja, we saw some interesting
signage along the highway. Starting just south of Ensenada, prominent
signs with distances in kilometers appeared about every 20 km
that say "Escalera Nautico". The signs are the blue
with white letters that are generally used for tourist attractions
and services. It turns out that the distance tracks to 0 at the
intersection of Hwy 1 and the road to Bahia de Los Angeles -
where we took the accompanying photograph. The mystery is why
do the distance markers end at the intersection? Do they intend
to build something there and name it Escalera Nautica? Is this
related to Ed Grossman's plan to ship boats across Baja via a
'land canal'? We suppose that only time will tell."
Escalera Nautico refers, of course, to the Mexican government's
plan to lure - with marinas, fuel docks, airports, hotels, and
golf courses - 50,000 American boatowners and their boats to
Baja and the Sea of Cortez. Why the intersection of Highway 1
and the road to Bahia de Los Angeles would be 0 is a mystery
Dates to remember: March 12, the first annual Spinnaker Cup for
charity, from Punta de Mita to Paradise Marina near P.V. Bring
your boat and/or your body - plus $25 for charity - to Punta
de Mita before noon on March 12. But most important, don't forget
the really big event that starts the next day - the 10th annual
Banderas Bay Cruiser's Regatta, March 14 to 17, at Paradise Marina.
Not only does this event have perhaps the best facilities and
sailing conditions in the world for a cruisers' regatta, but
local businesses pick up the entry fee for the boats! In addition
to the racing, there's three nights of all-you-want cocktails
and finger foods, plus the grand awards dinner feast - all for
about $60 per person. The BBR has also become the 'cruiser formal'
of the season, so make a trip to the laundry before the 14th.
Many boats - including Profligate - will be sailing in
this regatta for the fifth - or more - year in a row. You don't
want to miss this one, even if you're "not a racer".
It's mellow fun and their are non-spinnaker divisions. If you're
thinking about going cruising and want to get a feel for the
life and people, March 14 to 17 is a good time to fly to Puerto
Vallarta and check it out - and very possibly snag a position
as crew. Visit www.banderasbayregatta.com
for complete details. We'll see you there!