With reports this month from
Nepenthe in Malaysia; Manu
Kai in South Africa; Viva in Venezuela;
Windsong in Costa Rica; Elsewhere
in French Polynesia; Reflections in
Thailand; and more Cruise Notes than
Nepenthe - Folkes 39
Starting Yet Another Cruising Year
(Royal Langkawi YC, Malaysia)
As yet another year ends, world turmoil continues unabated -
as does my personal turmoil. For each morning, I still must decide
whether to have coffee or champagne with my croissants, whether
soft-centered chocolates are more appropriate than nut-centered
ones for a post-lunch self-indulgence, and whether to have the
Beef Wellington or Chicken Cordon Bleu for dinner. The sailor's
life is not any easy one.
The post-tsunami business recovery has been slow but steady here
in Malaysia and elsewhere. Tourists have begun to appear again,
although not in great numbers. Regardless of where the visitors
come from, most seem to be somewhat careless around the local
drivers. Today, for example, I witnessed a tourist on foot foolish
enough to attempt to cross the street when cars were clearly
visible less than a block away. Perhaps this silly fool thought
the crosswalk would protect him against the vehicular onslaught.
He surely didn't realize that the traffic signs and regulations
are purely advisory - like telling somebody to eat three squares
a day. And about as effective.
For instance, if the street is marked "one way", there
is not necessarily a consensus about which way is the right way.
Apparently some drivers believe the arrow on the sign indicates
the direction from which the cars should be coming, while others
believe it shows the direction in which the cars should be going.
Some of this inconsistency in driver behavior is probably engendered
by the whimsical attitude of the authorities. An example that
caught my eye was a very narrow lane clearly marked "one
way" - with an arrow pointing down the lane. At the other
end of the lane was an identical sign with the arrow pointing
in the opposite direction. In a similar case of strange symmetry,
there is another short lane a few blocks away with "Do Not
Enter" signs at both ends.
No letter from me would be complete without some small mention
of yacht maintenance. My cockpit light developed a persistent
and annoying flicker. I changed the bulb. I bent the socket walls
to get a better contact. I resoldered the power leads. But I
still got no joy because the light continued to flicker. I became
frustrated and may have used some colorful language to describe
the bulb, the socket, the wiring, electricity - and perhaps the
nature of the world in general - because my Malay neighbor at
the Royal Langkawi YC piped up:
"I see you are having a problem. Maybe I am helping?"
"Sure," I replied, "come aboard." He did,
and I handed him the offending light assembly. He looked at it
for a bit, wiggling bits and pieces as I had done, and after
a few minutes had me hold the base in my right hand and the socket
in my left hand. I did this while he gently pulled on the power
leads with one hand, and inserted the bulb - twisting sharply
- with the other. I was astounded when the light flared to life,
bright and strong, without the slightest hint of its previous
flickering. I was overjoyed!
Smiling brightly, my neighbor looked at me and said, "It's
like you say in your country: Many hands make light work."
At the request of the editor, I've come up with a chronology
of my cruising adventures - and find that I've been at it for
nearly 20 years:
1986 - Bought Nepenthe and moved aboard at Gig Harbor,
1988 - Quit work. Sailed from Washington to Zihuatanejo.
1989 - Zihuantanejo to New Zealand via the 'Milk Run'.
1990 - New Zealand, South Pacific Islands, to Australia.
1991 - Australia to South Africa.
1992 - South Africa to Trinidad.
1993 - Caribbean Islands.
1994 - Caribbean Islands to Mexico, then to San Francisco for
a long stay.
1995 - San Francisco to Zihuatanejo
1996 - Mexico to New Zealand.
1997-2004 - New Zealand (cyclone seasons) to South Pacific Islands.
2004 - New Zealand, Fiji, and Vanuatu to Malaysia
2005 - Malaysia
The editor also inquired how my steel boat is holding up, and
how much I spend a year on my cruising lifestyle.
My steel boat is holding up poorly. The bottom resembles Swiss
cheese. The proper way of handling the matter would be to gut
the boat and replate her. But that would cost more than the boat
is worth, so in recent years I have simply been plating over
where I must. Generally speaking, the boat gear is holding up
just fine - although it helps that I don't have much of it.
I generally get by on about $10,000 a year. Of that, about $5,000
goes to boat-related expenses such as fuel, haulouts, replacement
parts, and so forth. The other $5,000 is spent on me. Of this
$5,000 spent on me, about $2,500 goes for necessities. The remaining
$2,500 goes to my vices - tobacco, liquor, women, printed T-shirts,
etc. - although not necessarily in that order.
In terms of cost - and many other ways, too - Malaysia has proven
to be a pleasant surprise for me. It is very inexpensive.
For the year 2006, I hope to continue my pursuit of a life of
luxury and ease. Plain sailing.
- tom 12/18/05
Manu Kai - Hans Christian 41
Harley & Jennifer Earl
Simon's Town, South Africa
We're just finishing up two months of touring in southern Africa,
and are tied up at the False Bay YC in Simon's Town. We're waiting
on the southeasterly wind to drop below 30 knots so we can get
around Cape Point, the 'Southwesternmost Point of the African
Continent'. One would figure that the southernmost point - Cape
Agulhas - would have more geographic significance, but the persistent
near gale force winds that keep us straining on a spider's web
of dock lines suggest that the fabled Cape of Storms has earned
Be that as it may, our boat is provisioned, the bottom has been
cleaned, and all we need is less wind and a first port of call.
We're still trying to decide whether to gunkhole north to Namibia
along the Skeleton Coast, or sail direct to St. Helena. But whatever,
we'll let the weather make up our minds for us.
Since the update we sent to Latitude while on passage
from Vanuatu to Darwin last August, we have traversed the breadth
of the South Indian Ocean. And what a long, strange trip it's
been. Right out of Darwin in mid-September, we had dead flat
calm for five days. Little did we know at the time, but that
was to be pretty much the last peace and quiet we'd have for
the next 45 sailing days. For over the next 6,100 miles we rarely
saw the wind drop below 25 knots. On several occasions, we found
ourselves in 30+ knots for more than a couple of days at a time.
We had our worst weather on the final approach to the African
coast, when we weathered a four-day gale that included gusts
to 50 knots. Such conditions are not described in any of the
pilot charts we have. Many a night during our crossing of the
Indian Ocean our dinner menu was rice with a side of soy sauce
and an M&Ms chaser. The reason is that neither of us could
master the gymnastics required in such weather to even open a
But talk about exhilarating sailing! Aside from sweating out
an incipient wind shift to the southwest while in a northeasterly
gale in the Agulhas Current - which would have meant wind against
tide throwing up waves of 30 feet or more - we enjoyed the frequent
165 to 175-mile days. And even when the wind went foul and forced
us to ride the seas hove to for 36 hours, we had a great time
just hanging out with DVDs, catching some sleep, and puttering
around taking care of simple boat projects.
But there was some weird stuff that happened in the Indian Ocean
as well. One night I spotted four brilliant green lights in rigid
formation dragging comet-like tails from horizon to horizon.
I'm still not sure what it was. If I had not gone on the radio
and confirmed the sighting with two Australian commercial fishing
boats 75 miles to the south - who were pretty much in awe as
well, and who resolved to meet at a bar back in port to discuss
it in more detail - I would just have figured I was experiencing
the normal hallucinations that come from a combination of a lot
of hard living in my younger days and the sleep deprivation of
And then there was the sleeping humpback whale that we plowed
into in broad daylight a couple of weeks deeper into the ocean.
In fairness, he was just below the surface and we were only moving
along at about three knots in one of the few periods of calm
we saw in those months. Our port quarter sort of glanced off
him, which woke him with a start. He immediately showed his flukes,
evacuated his gut, and left behind a large and smelly brown stain
as he swam off to the north. It wasn't the glamour one associates
with whale-watching, but he was easily as long as our boat. We
apologized to him profusely for fear that he might decide to
run us down, turn-about being fair play.
Once we hit Durban, South Africa, we still had to make the 800-mile
trip down the coast and around Cape Agulhas before we could say
that the weirdness of the Indian Ocean was actually behind us.
This passage is typically done in increments during favorable
weather windows - all in an effort to avoid the southwesterlies
that blow up every couple of days against the south-setting Agulhas
Current. The first of these legs for us was the 340 miles from
Durban to Port Elizabeth. Between the wind and the current, we
managed a 220-mile day - hitting a somewhat unbelievable 13.5
knots over the ground at one point. Our ancient clunker of a
GPS hasn't had to light up that second digit of double figures
in quite a while, but now we know what you multihulls and big
boat sailors get to enjoy on a regular basis.
Anyway, we've had our share of other misadventures - including
riding our 20-ton surfboard on a nice breaking wave between the
Knysna Heads into the lagoon beyond. Details of all this craziness
- as well as our mobile bush camping safari experiences - can
be viewed by following the log link at www.manukai.com. (By the way, Rule #1 posted
at the gates of the Chobe National Park in Botswana reads: "Do
not leave your tent at night. Lions and hyenas will eat you."
On a more serious note, we read with shock the story of the Lagoon
44 catamaran Emerald Jane and the Silverwood family going
on the reef in the South Pacific. We briefly met John in Papeete
the November before their tragic mishap, as he was kind enough
to catch our bow lines and assist us in reverse Med-mooring our
double-ended bow-sprited boat along the quay. He freely shared
his local knowledge and passed along several invaluable tips
on where to hang out in Moorea. While we feel the pain of the
loss of their boat and belongings and are deeply saddened at
the loss of John's leg, we are glad the family all got off safely.
- harley & jennifer
Viva - Grand Soleil 39
Steve & Pam Jost
As 2005 draws to a close, we begin our seventh year of cruising
aboard Viva. After a whirlwind 10-week visit back to California
- where we spent most of our time with all the usual medical
checkups, parts procurement, photo assignments, and visiting
family and friends - we returned to our boat in Venezuela in
October. Were we in for a surprise! The mechanic with whom we
had contracted to overhaul our engine in our absence had decided
to hire himself out as an engineer on an 80-ft yacht on the East
After nearly three weeks of searching for a mechanic who wasn't
booked and was willing to take the responsibility for someone
else's work, we finally got the engine back in and running -
to a certain degree. There were a few parts missing and a couple
of bolts left over, but hopefully all will be well in a few days.
After that, it was time for the annual bottom job, changing a
couple of thru-hull ball valves, and then getting the boat back
in the water.
Our biggest maintenance decision of the year was whether to remove
the teak decks. Twenty-one years after we bought the boat in
Italy, the decks were in pretty sad shape. And for the last six
years, we had learned that teak decks and the tropics don't mix.
Besides the wear factor, they are hot to walk on, and add at
least 10-15 degrees to the temperature belowdecks. Removing the
decks involved the tedious work of chipping the wood off using
a hammer and chisel. Luckily, we found Jose Luis, a great young
Venezuelan guy, to do the chiseling and chipping, and after nine
days the old decks were gone. Of course, residing below during
this process was like living inside a tree that's home to a family
of woodpeckers! That's been followed by grinding and sanding
- which our contractor says he'll have completed in 20 days.
Since marinas frown on the noise and amount of dust associated
with such a project, we had to find a slip in front of a private
home on the lagoon, the owners of which were away at work most
of the day. The privacy and our newly acquired air conditioner
made life as bearable as possible.
What we hadn't counted on was a visit from the Guardia Naçional
patrol boat, the crew of which cited Eduardo, our landlord, for
"the possible pollution" of the canal. As if the canal
could be any more polluted! Apparently, his neighbor had called
them and reported us for sanding and grinding on the decks. It
seems that our sanding dust was more of a problem than all the
oil, raw sewage, diesel, Styrofoam, plastic bottles, trash bags,
and dead rats. After a trip to the Guardia station and the port
captain's office with Eduardo to explain, we were allowed to
continue sanding, but would not be allowed to spray paint. A
day later the neighbor blew the whistle again, and there was
another visit by the Guardia, but this time they stopped
Fortunately, Jose Luis found us a spot at the old marina in downtown
Puerto La Cruz where we can finish all the work. So we loaded
up all the boys, their tools and materials, and headed downtown.
It turned out to be a nicer location for doing the work, so the
decks, now to be a light-colored gel coat painted with non-skid,
should be finished in a few days. The floorboards and much of
the interior have been sanded and varnished, so things are looking
better, and we're almost ready for Christmas.
Things have changed a bit since our earlier visits to Venezuela.
First of all, all the hurricane activity in the last two years
has meant that all the yachts in this part of the world - including
the Eastern Caribbean - are going all the way south to Trinidad
or Venezuela for the summer months. Venezuela just hasn't been
able to catch up with their new-found bonanza, so all of the
marinas, boatyards, and service personnel are stressed to the
max. As hurricane season comes to an end and yachts have started
to head north, things have started to loosen up, but there's
still a frustrating wait for any type of professional services.
Most people are probably aware of the verbal sparring between
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and President Bush. It can be
a little unnerving when you're down here, but for the most part
the local Venezuelans remain very friendly. However, the local
Guardia Naçional continues to hassle and fine cruisers
over paperwork, speeding in dinghies, and things like that. Of
course, Christmas is just around the corner and there is a need
for government workers to fill the stockings of their children.
There have been a few more reported incidents of boats being
boarded and robbed, but most of those have happened in isolated
Fortunately for us, the dollar has remained strong - particularly
on the black market - and there are some great bargains in the
wining, dining, and travel department. Money changing was always
been a bit of a chore in the past, but there is one guy - 'Charlie
Alpha' - who will still take checks on accounts in U.S. banks!
Charlie Alpha is a good-looking guy who drives around all day
in a black sports car with an attractive chica and a briefcase
full of Bolivars. He monitors the VHF radio for his daily deliveries,
so in that way he's sort of like the local drug dealer. But dealing
with him sure beats standing in line at the bank.
We'll probably stay around here until the end of January to complete
a few more projects, although we'll probably make one last trip
inland. We're unsure of our future plans, but will most likely
be heading west toward Panama. After all, there are still many
anchorages in Central America and Mexico that we haven't seen.
And on the way there, we'd certainly like to re-visit Cartagena
and the San Blas Islands. In any case, we're looking forward
once again to calm anchorages with clear water.
- steve & pam 12/20/05
Steve & Pam - Your item on Charlie
Alpha took us right back to the days when we had Big O in Venezuela. Once you get outside of
the First World, you discover that things are a lot more free-wheeling,
and certain colorful entrepreneurial individuals are willing
to take big risks.
Windsong - Islander Freeport 36
The Dark Side Of Costa Rica
When people think of Costa Rica, they think of tropical jungles,
scarlet macaws, howler monkeys, rainforests, and beautiful beaches.
But we here have come to learn that there is a dark side to this
country - it's also the Land of Thievery! Many of us in this
year's cruising class have been victimized.
We, for example, had our 10-ft Caribe hard-bottom inflatable
with a 15-hp Johnson outboard stolen about a week ago while out
at the Gulf of Nicoya's Isla Jesusita. We normally lift our dinghy
out of the water every night and lock it to Windsong,
but that night we failed to take that precaution. Theives came
in the middle of the night with bolt-cutters strong enough to
cut our 3/8-inch Krypton cable, and floated our dinghy away.
When you include the custom Sunbrella covers for the gas tank,
the dinghy chaps, the lifting sling for the outboard and dinghy,
the oars, the seat, the Master outboard lock, the outboard wings,
the custom stainless wheel brackets, and gas tank, our loss came
to about $6,000!
We're not the only ones who have suffered, as other cruisers
have had their dinghies and outboards stolen. Just a few days
ago some cruisers had their outboard stolen - and it was locked
to their stern rail! Somehow the thieves managed to steal the
outboard while the cruisers were sleeping onboard. This theft
also occured in the Gulf of Nicoya, just a short distance away
from where our dinghy and outboard had been stolen.
We recommend that all cruisers raise their dinghies out of the
water every night. If you're lazy or complacent, you're likely
to lose both your dinghy and outboard. If you hear about a dinghy
or outboard theft in the area you're in, we suggest that you
immediately leave the area - as in moving 25 miles away - because
you can be sure that thieves are salivating over your dinghy.
In addition, always use a lock and chain on your dinghy and outboard.
Obviously, the Krypton brand of cable - which is made of strands
of steel covered in plastic - was not adequate. We're now thinking
we need two sets of 3/8 to 3/4-inch stainless steel anchor chain
in combination with two very large hardened locks. Thieves would
need a monster bolt-cutter to cut such big chains. And presumably
it would make such a racket cutting the first chain that we'd
hear them before they got to work on the second chain. Speaking
of noise, the fan we run next to our berth may have prevented
us from hearing the thieves stealing our outboard and dinghy.
The 'white noise' of the fan makes it difficult to hear anything
outside the boat.
When leaving their boats, cruisers should always close all the
hatches and ports, and lock the boat. And do this no matter where
you are. Why make it easier for thieves to ransack your boat
while you're gone?
We encourage all cruisers headed to Costa Rica to be extra vigilant
about security, both on the boat and while travelling on land.
We know of incidents of pick-pocketing, luggage being stolen
off of buses, and so forth. When traveling inland, never let
anybody else handle your bags. So travel light and keep your
bags on your lap or on the floor in front of you. Never put bags
in the overheads, as the buses are packed like sardines and you
won't be able to keep your eye on them.
The measures we recommend may sound extreme, but they are based
on what we've learned while cruising Mexico and Central America.
Generally speaking, the people are poor. While almost everybody
is wonderful and friendly, there are still some bad elements.
Some of these folks think there is nothing wrong with stealing
from rich Norte Americanos.
We're now moving on to Panama, where we will buy a new dinghy
and outboard. These things are a lot cheaper in Panama than Costa
Rica, plus we don't feel like contributing any more to the Costa
- frank 01/03/06
Readers - Because Costa Rica is a much
heralded eco-destination, has a history of democracy, and doesn't
have a standing army, people tend to assume that it has less
crime than other Central American countries. Costa Rica may not
have as much violent crime, but it's notorious for petty theft,
pick-pocketing, and credit card scams. Beware.
Elsewhere - Cabo Rico 38
Matt & Judy Johnston
Leaving Our Boat In Polynesia
We're at home in Antioch watching it rain, having left our boat
at the marina at Tahiti's Port Phaeton in order to fly home and
spend the holidays with family. Taking a little time to reflect
makes us realize what a great year we had.
We started in Panama - where there is great provisioning - and
on March 26 sailed west. After a short stop at Panama's Los Perlas
Islands, we set a course for the Galapagos. It took us 11 days
to make the crossing, in part thanks to the weather info from
Don on Tamuré. The Galapagos were great. We managed to
stay for six weeks and visited four islands - all of them incredible.
So much has been written about these famous islands that we won't
repeat it here.
After the Galapagos, we faced the 3,000-mile passage to the Marquesas.
The first 1,000 miles went by quickly as we had good wind from
the southeast. We thought we had a quick crossing in the bag,
but it was not to be, as the wind all but quit. We had two weeks
of wind in the 3 to 8-knot range, and it only rarely got up to
eight knots. Plus, what wind there was shifted to out of the
east, which meant we had to sail dead downwind!
Initially we had some problems sailing wing-and-wing. First,
our telescoping pole kept retracting on its own. I finally had
to put a couple of screws in to keep it the right length. Then
the end of the pole started to eat into our brand new Hood genoa.
I got very upset about this and fired off an email to Robin at
Hood Sails in Sausalito. He set me straight by offering a couple
of solutions. I chose to tie a sacrificial pennant into the clew,
then clip the pennant into the end of the pole. We just hadn't
known what we didn't know. We later found out that other skippers
were having the same problem.
Our crossing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas took 28 embarrassing
days, and after many days of rolling back and forth, we finally
made landfall at beautiful Nuka Hiva. Lots of other yachts had
a similarly rolly crossing, so we all got to scrub the growth
that had accumulated above the waterline of our boats. We'd rolled
so much that we had green stuff all the way up to the rub-rails
on both sides of our boat! The only way to get the growth off
was to use Scotch Brite pads. During the cleaning process was
one of the few times I was glad we didn't have a larger boat.
The Marquesas were so fabulous that we stayed for five weeks,
visiting five islands. Our one bit of advice is to learn a little
French before reaching French Polynesia. We haven't had to use
it much, but when we have, the locals have appreciated it. What
happens is that you start out in French, but after a few sentences
the locals realize that they speak better English than you do
French - so the rest of the conversation is in English.
We only made two stops in the Tuamotos - Raroia and Tahanea.
We'd recommend skipping the former, but the latter is a wonderful
uninhabited atoll. We especially enjoyed snorkeling, particularly
after a four-foot fish took up residence beneath our boat! This
fish would come right up to us, and then follow us around when
we swam off. Even though the fish had a remora, it wasn't a shark.
The locals told us that it was a carangi - but the name doesn't
mean anything to us. We did see quite a few sharks, but they
Our roller furling started to come undone on our way to Tahiti.
API Yachting replaced it for us in Papeete at prices very comparable
to the States. You can get anything done for a boat in Tahiti.
We also learned that lovely and remote Port Phaeton can pull
out very large boats - including catamarans. In fact, they mostly
cater to yachts rather than commercial vessels.
After an extended stay in Moorea, we returned to Port Phaeton
to leave our boat in the very protected marina while we made
our Christmas pilgrimage home. The reason we've left the boat
in French Polynesia instead of hurrying to New Zealand to avoid
the tropical cyclones is that we want to spend another season
in French Polynesia. We know there is a risk in doing this, but
we hope it works out.
- matt & judy 1/4/06
Reflections - Perry 47/50
Royal Phuket Marina
When the killer tsunami hit on December 26 of '04, my Perry 47/50
Reflections was on the hard at Rebak Marina near Langkawi,
Malaysia. It wasn't a matter of chance. When I arrived at the
marina four months before, the harbormaster tried his best to
get me to keep my boat in the water during my absence. But I
insisted that she be put on the hard. It was a good thing, too,
because the tsunami wiped out the marina. Even the pilings that
held the docks in place are gone. And the bottom of what was
once the marina is now the home of several sunken cruising boats.
Finding a marina that fits my needs has always been a major concern
for me. When I leave my boat, I want her to be in a well-maintained,
safe marina with a cooperative harbormaster and staff. And there
should be all boat services nearby. Since leaving San Francisco
in '99, I've been very lucky in my searches for satisfactory
When I subsequently left Malaysia for Thailand, I was told that
it would be a problem for me to find a place to leave my boat
on the hard - or even in a marina. I assumed that I'd have to
take whatever I could get, which wouldn't be too bad, because
I wasn't planning to leave Reflections for very long.
When I got to Thailand, I found some of the most friendly people
I have met anywhere. In addition, I was taken by the amazing
beaches and islands, and even the low prices. What I did not
find was a place to keep my boat - other than to leave her on
a mooring in Chalong Bay. But as we were driving by a new marina
being built in Phuket, one of my crewmembers suggested that I
stop to see if they had anything. The next day my boat was in
a slip at the Royal Phuket Marina on Phuket Island, and I was
a very happy guy.
What a welcome we got upon arrival! We were treated like a U.S.
Navy aircraft carrier entering San Francisco Bay. There were
about a dozen marina staff waiting to grab our mooring lines,
a lady with fresh towels for washing up, and another with refreshments.
Had I sunk and gone to heaven?
The Royal Phuket Marina is the brainchild of Gulu Lalvani, founder
and chairman of Binatone Telecom Group, the world's second largest
manufacturer of cordless digital phones. He's invested $150 million
into developing Thailand's first world-class "luxury lifestyle
marina". It's being developed on 30 hectares of tropical
paradise, and will have 350 berths for yachts up to 115 feet.
In addition, there will be 400 luxury villas and condominiums.
All berths are equipped with electricity, fresh water, broadband
internet, telephone service, and cable TV. Minimum draft at low
tide in the outer marina is over 10 feet.
When I hear the words 'luxury' and 'marina' together, my first
thought is that I can't afford it. But I was pleasantly surprised
to find that the marina fees are very reasonable - and comparable
to Asian marinas such as at Singapore and Hong Kong. There are
also hardstand facilities, including a 60-ton Travel-Lift, cradles,
and a pressure washer.
Visitors to the marina will be able to order from any of the
international restaurants and cafes lining the 'Fisherman's Wharf'-style
waterfront promenade, and have the food delivered to their boat.
There will also be a newspaper delivery every morning, and croissants
and fresh bread from the already operational Les Anges Bakery.
The Royal Phuket Marina is the co-sponsor of the Phuket King's
Cup Regatta, which takes place the week before December 5th,
the latter being the King's birthday. Last year was the 19th
running of the regatta, and it attracted some of the world's
top yachtsmen. The 90 or so entries included everything from
cruising yachts to mega racers, with over 900 sailors competing
from 15 countries - including Australia, New Zealand, Russia,
Hong Kong, Britain, Italy, the United States, Singapore, Malaysia,
Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Royal Phuket Marina's location on the eastern seaboard places
her on the doorstep to Thailand's world-class Phang Nga Bay.
This is home to the famous 'James Bond Island', as well as Phi
Phi and Krabi Islands, where Leonardo de Caprio's The Beach and
Brigitte Jones's Edge of Reason were filmed. There are hundreds
of deserted tropical islands, so the area ranks as one of the
world's premiere cruising grounds, with nearly year 'round boating.
I can't express how wonderful the cruising experience has been
for me. I think I'm going to stay longer than I thought. For
further information, visit www.royalphuketmarina.com.
- max 01/08/06
In the late '90s, Ardell Lien had such severe congestive heart
failure that he was unable to climb a flight of stairs. He's
now approaching the coast of South Africa after crossing the
Indian Ocean, more than halfway into a solo circumnavigation
aboard his San Diego-based Nor'Sea 27 Catalyst. What
accounts for the dramatic change in his physical condition? He
had a pacemaker implanted in '02, but that didn't help much.
So when tests at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota showed that the
now 71-year-old had no other serious health problems, he was
placed on life support and listed number one for his blood type
to get a heart and kidney transplant. The organs were found on
New Year's Day in '03, and transplanted during a 13-hour surgical
procedure. After nine nearly painless days in the hospital, he
was released to recover at home. Six months after his surgery,
he reroofed his house on the hottest day of the year. He set
out in May of last year on his solo circumnavigation in order
to make people more aware of the critical need for organ donations.
Lien and his wife Maureen are veteran cruisers, having sailed
their 45-ft sloop Moonshadow between Alaska and Mexico
from '91 to '97. If you're an old cruising friend of Ardell's,
why not send him an ?
Sources at a marina in Mexico tell Latitude that SET,
which is the second most powerful ministry in Mexican government
after Hacienda (their version of the IRS), is proposing a plan
that would require owners of foreign boats over 33 feet to pay
$80 a month - to have marinas keep track of them for the government!
The staff of SET apparently believes they are modeling the plan
after one in the United States. But that's ridiculous, because
there is no such plan in the States. Once a foreign vessel pays
$19 to get a one-year cruising permit, there are no other charges.
The SET folks have been told this, but so far it hasn't seemed
to have made an impact. At this time it's unclear whether the
proposed regulation will go anywhere, as it will be challenged
by the Mexican Marina Owner's Association and would infuriate
cruisers. After all, $1,000 a boat per year to be kept track
of is ridiculous.
In another sticky nautical issue in Mexico, the so-called La
Cruz Yacht Club in La Cruz - which is actually a large development
that includes at least a hotel and a 350-berth marina on the
shores of Banderas Bay - was recently blasted by what sounded
like a not particularly objective article in the Vallarta
Tribune. According to the incendiary article, the development
- which had a festive ground-breaking attended by many of the
more powerful local political figures - is partly on land that
doesn't belong to the developer, doesn't have the necessary permits,
is proposing a marina that's merely a front for a massive waterfront
land grab, unjustly destroys the views of homes that were previously
on the waterfront - and in general threatens all foreign real
estate investment in Mexico. It's not clear if the development
will be delayed, curtailed, or proceed on schedule.
"While doing the Baja Bash in '05, we heard a 33-foot boat
broadcasting a mayday just before dusk after they hit the beach
while trying to enter Mag Bay via the Canal de Rehusa,"
report Myron and Marina Eisenzimmer of the San Geronimo-based
Swan 44 Mykonos. "They threw out an anchor when grounded,
and the anchor line fouled their propeller. However, they were
lucky enough to make it to the beach unharmed. We and five other
boats heard the mayday as we were travelling up the coast, but
after discussing it, all concluded that there was too much danger
for us to attempt a rescue in the dark. Delphis, one of
the boats in our group, made contact with a U.S. Coast Guard
helicopter that was in the area trying to assist with another
mayday. They contacted the Mexican Coast Guard in Mag Bay, which
went to assist the beached vessel the next morning. We believe
that the 33-footer was trying to enter Mag Bay in order to avoid
the rough seas outside - and almost paid for it with their lives.
By the way, we'll be doing the Ha-Ha again with you this fall!"
"It's now official, I'm now the owner of the Formosa 47
ketch Exterra Firma," reports Axel Heller. Many of
you may recall that Heller lost his previous boat, the Long Beach-based
Newport 30 Sea-Ya, on the shallows of La Paz Bay in late
November after a rough sail north from Cabo. "I signed the
papers on my new boat, and will soon start the process of bringing
her 'almost' home - meaning she won't come all the way back to
California until early 2007 in order not to be subject to sales
tax. The ketch is sure a big step up from my little Newport 30!
My immediate plan is to add water to the bottom of her keel -
she's currently on the hard - load her up with fuel, and then
spend some time enjoying the Sea of Cortez."
"I'm sure that many readers both sympathize with the plight
of Don Ferrell - who suffered a stroke while at Turtle Bay during
last year's Ha-Ha - and wonder what they might do in a similar
situation," writes Ron Smith, MD, of Reno, Nevada. "As
a physician who enjoys travel and cares for many world travelers,
I have been approached by patients with questions about how to
get either back home or to better medical facilities in case
of serious illness or injury. After some research, I concluded
that the best deal is to have an AAA Plus card. Along with the
common benefits of AAA membership, the Plus upgrade provides
Emergency Medical Transportation Coverage up to $25,000, which
includes transportation of a spouse, children or other companion
to home or medical facilities of the patient's choosing. Apparently
the annual fee varies somewhat by zip code, and some special
deals are available, so I won't quote the cost here. But I will
say that I found it reasonable enough to buy for me and my family.
Another option is the Air Ambulance Card, which provides up to
two evacuation trips a year for a hospitalized inpatient, without
regard to cost. The fee is $195/year for individuals and $295/year
for a family. Visits to the appropriate websites will provide
further details. A subscription to one of these plans would be
worthy of consideration by many of your adventurous readers.
Membership in either one would have saved Mr. Ferrell a lot of
anxiety and money."
"We had company - David Kroosma and his bicycle Tierra
del Fuego - on our crossing from La Paz to Mazatlan,"
report Ha-Ha vets Sean and Adrian Guches of the DownEast 38 Tiki
Iti. "David left San Francisco on November 5, and is
riding to the tip of the continent on a mission to raise awareness
of mankind's effect on the climate and our merging roles as global
citizens. It's all there on his www.rideforclimate.com Web site.
"The first day we entered the Cerralvo Channel," Adrian
continues," it was blowing about 25 knots, the seas were
eight feet on our beam, and we immediately took water over the
side. David stood on the high side looking down at Sean's shoes,
which were covered by rushing water. Sean continued to chat away
as though everyone's feet were covered by seawater at noon on
Thursdays. His nonchalance seemed to put David at ease, but I
thought this was a little much to ask of someone with so little
sailing experience, so we headed up to Espiritu Santo and anchored
for the night. Being excellent swimmers, Sean and David took
a long swim in Unnamed Anchorage #3, while I read in the warm
sun and made spaghetti. Oh wait, it was actually Sean who made
the spaghetti. We had a great sail down the Channel to Los Muertos
the next day, although David was more or less seasick from that
point on. Then we had a hit and miss 200-mile trip over to Mazatlan,
with lots of motoring in glassy seas. It was great to have David's
company, and he was a good sport about being seasick. It was
great to pull into Marina Mazatlan and see so many familiar boats.
David stayed on one more night, and the next day was nice enough
to give a presentation to the kids on boats about climate change,
his equipment, and his ride. Jackie from Daydreams was
hungry for more science, but the teenagers were primarily interested
in his equipment, how he ate, where he slept, and other practical
matters. We'll heading south in a few days for Isla Isabella."
Richard Petersen of New Port Richey, Florida, and Jeffery Jones
of Vista, California, put out a mayday in the wee hours of January
10 when their 38-ft catamaran Motion Ease became partially
submerged 55 miles north of the Dominican Republic. Just 90 minutes
after issuing the call for help, the two were rescued unharmed
by the cargo vessel Tokai. We're not sure what kind of
cat it was or why she took on water. By the way, manufacturers
of catamarans often boast that their boats are unsinkable. While
they may not go to the bottom when holed, most seem capable of
becoming awash, and therefore not necessarily habitable.
"We just spoke to a vessel in Isla Mujeres this morning
on the Northwest Caribbean Net, and they indicated that officials
there are still making cruisers use an agent - unless the cruisers
threaten to send an email to Tere Grossman, who would report
them to Mexico City," report Chuck Bair and Susan Landry
of the Norfolk, Virginia-based Mariner 40 Sea Trek. "It
sounds as though officials at Isla Mujeres are not taking the
new clearing rules seriously, and are desperately trying to hang
onto the old ways. This information came to us via Conquest,
a trimaran in the harbor at Isla Mujeres. You may remember that
we had the same problem there until we called Tere, who called
Mexico City, which called Isla Mujeres. The problem is that Port
Captain Ibarra is a very stubborn man who doesn't like the new
law. And if cruisers don't have to use an agent, Miguel, the
agent at Marina Paraiso, stands to lose a lot of money. Meanwhile,
when our friends on Bettie tried to clear in at Puerto
Morales, which is also on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, the
skipper was asked to pay $200 to clear in. After he complained,
the price was lowered to $160. It's frustrating when Mexican
officials don't comply with Mexican law - even when instructed
to by their superiors in Mexico City."
You don't suppose any money passes hands between ship's agent
Miguel and Port Captain Ibarra when a cruiser uses the agent,
do you? No, of course not, whatever could we be thinking?
"In October of 2001, the dotcom bubble burst, and so did
Tilden Park Software, our long-term database consulting business,"
write Lance Batten and Susie Bowman of Berkeley. "Since
we were going broke, we decided we might as well have fun - so
we bought the Beneteau 40 Eaux Vives in the British Virgins,
and by December were sailing those warm, clear waters. We're
not really 'old salts', but rather two salted nuts who like to
sail, travel, swim, fish, and meet new and interesting people.
"In December of last year, at the start of our fourth winter
season cruising the Caribbean, we arrived at Rodney Bay, St.
Lucia, just in time for the finish of the massive Atlantic Rally
for Cruisers (ARC)," the couple continue. "The ARC,
which is 2,700 miles from the Canaries to St. Lucia, included
everything from professionally skippered boats and crew on racing
machines to Ha-Ha type fun cruisers. There was an all-Turkish
women's entry, a boat entirely crewed by disabled British servicemen,
and even the spectacular 97-ft R/P Leopard of London.
Anyway, we helped at the finish, and our participation doubled
the representation of colonials in the shore crew. We were liberally
rewarded with rum punch and a series of parties including a sunset
cruise on a catamaran to beautiful Marigot Bay. With 224 starters,
you can imagine the adventures in the ARC fleet. The most prolific
transAtlantic garden was full of basil; the best-dressed crew
wore tuxedos, the youngest cruiser was two years old, and the
motto of the last boat across the finish line was, "Sailing
is like sex, it's best to come last!"
"My girlfriend Loretta and I, along with Capt. Rob and friends,
have been in Careyes, a small bay about 100 miles south of Puerto
Vallarta, and have been having a great time enjoying the Mexican
hospitality," reports Steve Williams of the Santa Cruz-based
SC 52 Natazak. We also wanted to say thanks again for
the great Ha-Ha. We continue to tell everyone what a great trip
it was for us. Your enthusiasm for the annual adventure is impressive."
Cruising south with hundreds of friends when it starts getting
rainy and cold in California - how could we not be enthusiastic
about doing that? By the way, did you see Loretta's photo on
the cover of the Pusser's Rum Newsletter? If only our
dentist looked like that.
"We saw your note requesting feedback about Wifi access
in Mexico," write Joe Brand and Jacque Marin of the Alameda-based
Wauquiez 37 Marna Lynn, "so we thought we'd report
on our Wifi experiences here at Lagoon Marina in La Ceiba on
the Caribbean coast of Honduras. This small marina is run by
a very friendly and helpful couple who have about 15 Med-tie
slips up the river from the shipyard. They offer Wifi free, and
it's great. But we are currently hauled at the La Ceiba Shipyard,
which also has free Wifi access, as well as three terminals by
the office. As for the work that's been done on our boat, we've
been pleased with how professional it's been."
La Ceiba Shipyard claims to be the biggest yard between Panama
and Mexico, has a 125-ton Travel-Lift, and can haul boats to
100 feet in length and 25 feet of beam.
"The adventure began with a small ad in Latitude
by Nick Goldman, owner of the Olympic 47 ketch Rozinante,
who said he was looking for a couple to sail with him to Europe,"
write Tony and Sharon Gourd. "We left him a phone message,
but after not hearing from him for two weeks figured he'd found
somebody else. Then we got the call, met, and discovered that
we seemed to be a perfect match in all ways. It's now six months
later, and we're about to get underway."
Guided by the motto of Pete Goss - "If you are going to
do something, do it now, tomorrow is too late" - the trio
plan to leave KKMI boatyard in Richmond during the first weather
window in February, sail to the Panama Canal, and then up to
St. Augustine, Florida, to join the May 11 Atlantic Rally To
Europe. That event takes the fleet to Bermuda, the Azores, and
Lagos, Portugal. After that, there will be "four months
of easy sailing exploring the ports and cities of the Med."
We're not going to say that three people on a 47-ft boat can't
make such a trip so quickly, but it would be a monumental accomplishment
on the part of the crew and the engine. The most difficult part
is going to be getting from Richmond to St. Augustine in three
months, and, of that part, the most difficult is going to be
making the 3,000 miles from San Francisco to Panama. The problem
is that there is so little wind along that route that it would
require almost nonstop fast motoring to keep the necessary pace.
Nonetheless, we wish Goldman and the Gourds the best of luck
- and the shortest traffic delay possible when transiting the
One good reason to attempt such a trip is that cruising in the
Med can be a blast. Former Sausalito monohull sailor Noel Gaudinet,
who now lives in France where he sails his Outremer 43 catamaran
Laia out of Grand Mott, sent us the accompanying photos
from his cruise last summer. The main one shows his cat on the
hook at Formentera, one of Spain's Balearic Islands. The second
is of a naked lady stretched out on the port hull of his cat.
Two bad about all the spray, no? There was no room for the final
shot, which is of crowds of young folks on Ibiza, who had no
doubt just woken up in time to have their first spliff of the
day while watching the sunset. About nine hours later they'd
start hitting the clubs and dancing in mounds of spermicidal
"The 97-ft schooner Talofa is alive and quite content
here on the hook at La Paz," report Cactus and Betsy Bryan.
"We made the trek back to Baja as part of the Ha-Ha, bringing
home plenty of swag. In addition to finishing second in the Tequila
Division, we won the Master Baiter's award for catching the most
fish over 10 pounds. We proudly display our singing bass trophy
over the nav station. But perhaps our most important recognition
last year was winning the Perry Bowl Award from the ASTA for
our racing accomplishments while on the '05 Tall Ships Challenge.
We're all very proud to have our boat's name engraved forever
on the Perry Bowl Perpetual. Since purchasing Talofa in
May of '04, we have been on an adventure like no other. Sailing
over 10,000 miles from Mexico to Canada and back again has given
us new found respect for our boat's sailing abilities and all
that she has to offer those who wish to learn something. The
learning curve has been very steep, and thus far Capt. Cactus
and 1st Mate Beau - with the help of others, including Capt.
Kevin Porter - have sail-trained over 15 cadets this past year,
stopping in over 12 ports. During this time, Talofa has
had more than 40,000 folks pass across her decks in awe and appreciation
of something old, original, and so special. Just recently, she
took 34 underprivileged Mexican children for the sail of their
lives. The wind and seas in Cabo Bay really piped up to treat
the children to a real Tall Ship experience. Some even got seasick
while learning to ties knots. We are working toward a full-time
home for Talofa here in Mexico's Puerto Los Cabos, the
new port in San Jose del Cabo. We have been blessed by the many
folks who have wanted to volunteer aboard Talofa - and
don't know what we would have done without such kindness. We
are always taking on new crew for different lengths of time to
help with sailing and maintenance. Everyone is welcome. For that
or information on charters to the islands outside of La Paz,
check us out at www.bajaschoonercruises.com.
Readers Steve and Teri Dale wrote in to ask how difficult it
would be to get crew positions for the Pirates For Pupils Spinnaker
Run For Charity on March 28, and the Banderas Bay Regatta from
March 30 to April 2. The Pirates for Pupils is a 12-mile spinnaker
run for charity founded by Latitude 38 to benefit the
schools in Punta Mita and the shoreline of the north coast of
Banderas Bay. All anybody has to do to participate is sign up
at the Vallarta YC at Paradise Marina and donate $25 or more
per person. We'll personally make sure you get on a big cat.
Historically, the Pirates for Pupils course has been one of the
sweetest sails in Mexico. Did we mention that everybody is supposed
to dress up in their best pirate garb for the lunch at Dorado
Restaurant preceding the sail?
While we can't guarantee berths on boats in the Banderas Bay
Regatta, we'd be stunned if interested sailors couldn't find
one - particularly if they'd done the Pirates for Pupils a few
days before. And let us put in an unabashed plug for the Banderas
Bay Regatta. It's the best 'nothing serious' regatta for cruising
boats only that we've ever seen, as it has the best sailing conditions
- flat water, mild winds, easy courses - and the best venue -
Paradise Marina is wonderful. Did we mention that there is no
entry fee, and 30 minutes after the end of each race you can
be sitting in a hot-tub overlooking the ocean being served margaritas?
For details on this wonderful end-of-the-cruising season sailing
event, please Google Banderas Bay Regatta.
Both the Pirates for Pupils and Banderas Bay Regatta are part
of the 15-event Banderas Bay Nautical Festival, which starts
on March 3 with the finish of the San Diego to P.V. Race, and
ends on April 2 with the conclusion of the Banderas Bay Regatta.
In between there are activities for people of every nautical
persuasion, including an attempt at the world dinghy raft-up
record, the St. Paddy's Day cruise to Punta Mita, the Jazz &
Art Festival, the La Cruz Festival, the Optimist Regatta, MEXORC,
the Governor's Parade, the fishing tournament, and much more.
For details, see the ad elsewhere in this issue. We plan to be
on hand for a lot of these activities with Profligate,
and hope that you will, too.
Connie Sunlover down at Puerto Escondido, Baja, reports that
there have been a lot of rumors going around that Singlar has
raised the prices for moorings in the main harbor, but says that
so far they are just rumors. "The current price remains
one peso/foot/day - or about $120 U.S. a month for a 40-footer.
Singlar has now got 220-volt electricity to the fuel dock, but
the fuel dock still isn't open. The company has slowed construction
on the new facilities building, concentrating instead on getting
their dry storage facility completed. We'll report on the prices
of that operation as soon as they become available. Don't forget
that the 10th Annual Loreto Fest will be May 4-7, with more activities
than ever planned for this great fundraiser. 'Big Banana Sailing'
will be picking up the mooring tab for the boat that travelled
the longest distance from their last port of call to make the
event, and also for the smallest pocket cruiser to attend. For
more information on Loreto Fest, visit www.hiddenportyachtclub.com.
"We greatly missed the Grand Poobah's intended Baja
Ha-Ha presentation at the Seattle Boat Show," report
Steve and Lori Dana of the Mill Valley-based Sceptre 43 Pacific
Wind, as we were looking forward to the ever-enjoyable informational
talk on the Ha-Ha and cruising in Mexico. But we know the Latitude
editorial offices flooded out, and we understand that repairs
have a greater priority than the boat show. We nonetheless worked
our way through the Seattle show's many exhibitor booths like
children in a candy store. It was a very big event, and admission
also entitled one entry to the outdoor Boat Show Afloat, a few
minutes away at Lake Union. It was gloomy outdoors, but there
was an awesome display of sailboats. By the way, we purchased
our Sceptre 43 in Seattle last summer, and had a great September-October
cruising experience across Puget Sound, through the San Juan
Islands, and along the Gold Coast. We ultimately left Pacific
Wind at the manufacturer in Vancouver for a bit of a refit.
We can't wait to get her back in the water and up to Desolation
Sound this spring, then home to San Francisco in anticipation
of joining the Ha-Ha fleet in '07.
"Lori has taken the basic ASA sail and seamanship courses,"
Steve continues, "and was enamored with the thought of joining
John and Amanda Neal on Mahina for a two-week stint along
the Pacific Coast without me to gain additional knowledge. I
couldn't be more supportive, since the dream of sailing away
was mine. Fortunately, it's caught on like wildfire with Lori!
Despite purchasing our own boat last year, we have retained our
membership at Modern Sailing Academy in order to get out on the
Bay whenever we have the time. Both of us want to thank Latitude
for the tremendous inspiration. In fact, since we're neighbors,
we'd have been happy to lend a hand when the creek overflowed
into your office."
Thanks for the kind words and encouragement, but hopefully by
the middle of February the editorial offices will be back to
some semblance of the mess they were before they were flooded
on December 31.
"Every December, a small and well-insulated group of sailors
departs Long Beach just before Christmas to circumnavigate Catalina,"
reports Harry Hutton. "We stop at Isthmus Harbor, Cat Harbor
and, of course, Avalon. Although the weather was cool this year,
the locals welcomed us warmly - probably as curiosities to break
up their winter tedium. When visiting Avalon, a stop at the Marlin
Club is a must. This year our group consisted of the Ericson
35 Rogue and the C&C Landfall 38 Casablanca.
We sure didn't have much company. We've been doing this Christmas
trip for about five years now, and will probably continue. Give
it a try - but just lose those bikinis!"
"First, I want to thank you very much for 'Lectronic
Latitude," writes John Keen of the San Francisco-based
Nordhavn 46 Knot Yet II, which is currently in Umag, Croatia.
"During the five months we spent in the Adriatic, and the
following three months in Thailand, I was grateful to be able
to keep up with sailing news on your site. In a recent 'Lectronic,
you called Malaysia "the most populous Muslim country".
That's not true, as the title actually belongs to Indonesia,
which has about 240 million citizens - or about 10 times that
You and several others pointed out that error. Thank you.
"Maybe we should have gone for the '2 for 1' special,"
write Rob and Linda Jones of the Whidby Island-based Gemini 3000
cat Cat 'n About. "That's right, David Barbor painted
both our cat and Latitude's cat Profligate in the
back lagoon at Nuevo Vallarta. Barbor and his guys showed up
when they said they would, and did a great job. Actually, we
ran out of time and cruised down to Tenacatita Bay, so Barbor
will have to wait until March to sand and paint our hulls. The
cost for a two-part paint job on our little gato? Two
thousand dollars plus the haulout. God, we love Mexico! The low
price of the paint job makes up for the $50/month the Vallarta
YC charges for Wifi. Although the price is steep, I probably
would have lived with it if the reception weren't so terrible.
It constantly kicks you off. At first I thought it might just
be us, but then learned multiple boats were having the same problem.
But if that's my only bitch, life is grand! Hope Profligate's
paint job turns out as good as ours did."
We also hope the paint job turns out, because, as of the middle
of January, the port captain at Nuevo Vallarta is no longer permitting
painting in the lagoon. As such, Profligate was having
to be towed out to the open waters of Banderas Bay every day
for painting. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see
how it turns out.
"We've got news regarding yachts cruising to Kiribati,"
report Kurt and Katie Braun of the Alameda and New Zealand-based
Deerfoot 74 Interlude. "Tarawa has instructed officials
in the outer islands to turn away yachts attempting to stop.
All yachts must now enter Kiribati at Tarawa - or Christmas or
Banaba - even if they have obtained visas in advance. The crew
of one boat even had their passports seized and mailed to Tarawa.
When they arrived there, they were given 24 hours to depart Kiribati
or pay $500 for an additional three days. There appears to be
some sort of internal problem between Immigration and everyone
else in the Kiribati government, but Immigration is ultimately
in charge. The High Commissioner at the embassy in Fiji is obviously
not following official policy, and is getting yachts in trouble
by giving them permission to stop before they get to Tarawa.
In other news, we're having a great time in the Marshall Islands."
"I'm pleased to report that Point Loma Publishing - which
means Captains Pat and John Rains - wants to publish my out-of-print
Baja Bash book," reports Jim Elfers from San Jose
del Cabo. "For the last year or so I made the material free
on the Latitude and other websites, but apparently downloading
100 pages was too much of a pain for most people. Besides, a
lot of people prefer reading it in book form instead of on a
monitor. The new version of my book will include other northbound
options, such as trucking boats home via San Carlos, shipping
boats home on Dockwise Transport, and sailing boats home via
the Clipper Route."
Elfers also happens to be a honcho at the huge Puerto Los Cabo
marina complex being built at San Jose del Cabo. "Phase
One of the project is coming along apace, and is set to open
in August of this year. Sailors with multihulls should be glad
to learn that we'll have plenty of end-ties, as well as some
dedicated multihull slips. I'm also planning a huge discount
for participants in the Ha-Ha - although I'm not sure I'll be
able to make that offer in 2006."
"We leave Antigua on April 18 for Bermuda, then Horta in
the Azores, and hope to reach Europe by May 25," writes
Doug Owen of Santa Cruz, who will be crewing aboard the Bruce
Roberts 43 Eclipse. The boat was fitted out in Portsmouth
in the early '90s by owner Geoff Titterton, and is registered
out of Penarth, Wales. "Geoff and I know each other from
high school in Tenby, where we both learned to sail dinghies.
It's been bigger boats ever since then for both of us. Eclipse
is presently in Trinidad, since Geoff had to fly home last year
to attend to his aging mother's welfare. If anyone had made the
same passage, especially in the late spring, I'd be tickled pink
to hear from them ."
Jim Drake of Drake Marine in Alameda skippered our Ocean 71
Big O from Antigua to the Azores and then to Gibraltar in
early May of '94. They had an easy downwind passage with never
more than 15 knots to the Azores, then had a little bit of rough
stuff on the way to Gibraltar. If you leave Antigua on May 25,
you'll find that you're about two weeks behind a flotilla of
Antigua Sailing Week boats headed to the Med. It's a familiar
route, and once you get to the Caribbean, any number of veteran
skippers can advise you on how to approach it. Canadian Herb
Hilgenberg of Southbound II has been providing small boats
with weather routing for crossing the Atlantic since 1987, and
is much respected. Check out his website before you go, and then
check in with him as you go across.
"We've just purchased a Freedom 35 and will be cruising
the Chesapeake for a season and then heading south - finally,"
report Kirby and Suzie Townsend aboard Tobias. "We
sold Lena in Mexico in '99, and have been boatless ever
since. Suzie has just started work at her third West Marine store.
She worked at the stores in San Diego and Newport in the '90s,
and is now working at the one in Annapolis. By the way, when
the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca went to the Caribbean
for Christmas, we hope they crossed paths with John and Lynn
Ringseis on the Lagoon 41 cat Moonshine. Those two Novato
residents must love running their charterboat in the British
Virgins in the winter, because they just keep going back for
Thanks to EPIRBs, it's rare to hear of folks having to spend
a long time in a liferaft anymore. But it happened to Aussie
skipper Mark Smith, 49, and Kiwi crew Steven Freeman, 30, who
just barely survived 11 days in a liferaft in mid-December. The
two were delivering a 65-ft motoryacht from Hong Kong to Australia
when it had engine trouble, was holed by a big wave, and quickly
sank off the coast of Vietnam. During the next 11 days, they
would be repeatedly capsized by 30-ft waves. The first capsize
happened 30 minutes after the sinking, and caused them to lose
all their supplies except for one paddle and two sponges. Having
no food or water, they managed to collect a few drops of condensation
with the sponges, but mainly fended off dehydration by drinking
their own urine. Because the raft continued to be flipped, their
clothes never dried. They cuddled up at night "like babies"
to stay warm. On the 11th day, Smith accidentally swallowed a
mouthful of seawater and figured his time had come. But just
10 minutes later they were spotted by a Vietnamese fisherman
who managed to rescue them. They were lucky in more ways then
one, as the storms that had made their lives so miserable at
sea killed 47 in flooding in central Vietnam. Smith says the
incident won't prevent him from returning to sea.
You have to hand it to the Aussies. They're a game bunch - especially
the old geezers. Take Alex Whitworth, 63, and Peter Crozier,
60. After completing the 2004 Sydney to Hobart Race on Whitworth's
33-ft Berimilla, the self-described "smelly old farts"
took off around the world - but with a twist. Their goal was
to reach England by way of Cape Horn in time for the classic
Fastnet Race, and then hurry back to Sydney in time to compete
in the 2005 Sydney to Hobart Race. Sixty must be the new 30,
because darned if they didn't pull it off, arriving in Sydney
just a few days before the Hobart Race. The duo's year-long voyage
was filled with adventure, of course. They were knocked down
off New Zealand and again off Africa, and Crozier was nearly
lost after going overboard while reefing the main. Despite being
on such a small boat, they didn't see each other much. "We
had three hours on, three hours off, and the only time the two
of us were up was during sail changes. But we did get together
every evening for a gin and tonic, a hot meal, and to argue about
trivia." Oddly enough, the two became poster boys of the
American Association of Retired People after a short mention
in the organization's newsletter. Whitworth's next adventure
is to compete in the London Marathon in April. Good on ya, guys!
"It's hard to believe that we did the Ha-Ha in '03 and have
continued on to Brisbane, Australia," write Henry and Glenys
Mellegers of the San Francisco-based Cal 46 Dreamcatcher.
Actually, after reading their biographies on their website, it
doesn't come as any surprise to us. Originally from Holland,
Henry moved to California at age 12, did some sailing, got into
the tech industry, travelled extensively around the world, and
in '01 bought Dreamcatcher. A short time later, he met
up with Glenys, who was born in Australia, but worked in the
tech industry in California, and has extensive sailing experience
all over the world. The two hit it off and have been going strong
ever since. Here's what they have to say:
"Our journey began with joyful weekends of sailing in San
Francisco Bay, followed by the many months of blood, sweat and
tears it takes to ready a daysailer for a world cruise. The load
was lightened by the dozens of friends and family who turned
up every weekend to work along with us.
With the cruising season in full swing, we'd love to hear from
all of you - and get high-res photos, too. Send your good stuff
to , and we'll
try to get you in the magazine.