With reports this month from
Starship in Colombia; Far
Niente in the Caribbean after several trips across the Med;
C'est La Vie on getting smacked
by a slimy ray in the Pacific; Saga
on the lack of cruiser facilities in Panama; Indigo
on a second cruising boat in the Caribbean; Viva!
on Ecuador; Sun Dazzler on Cartagena;
from the Zihua SailFest in Mexico;
and lots of Cruise Notes.
Starship - 50-ft Trimaran
I'm 15 years old, and I live with my parents aboard Starship,
our 50-ft by 28-ft trimaran. We started cruising from California,
and have been out for 3.5 years now. Most recently we travelled
to Cartagena, Colombia, to get some work done on the bottom.
Twenty miles before Cartagena, we visited the beautiful Rosario
Islands. These islands are home to a big aquarium and pens with
lots of fish. There are also quite a few sharks and dolphins.
I got to feed the dolphins almost every morning, and swim with
them, too. The aquarium staff are very open, and welcome anyone
who takes an interest in their work.
A week later, we arrived at historic Cartagena, a large and lovely
city with Spanish heritage. While there, I convinced my parents
to send me to a school for three months so I could practice my
Spanish. But just between us, the real reason I wanted to go
to school was to work on my social skills. I know I'm not alone
in saying that life on a boat can be exciting and educational
- but for kids, it has boring and lonely times, too.
My parents finally gave in, so I enrolled at the private Collegio
Montessori School. I made friends, had fun, and learned to speak
Spanish better than both my parents. I found most of the kids
at the school in Cartegena to be welcoming and friendly, and
they made me feel at home.
Also while in Cartagena, we explored the city and went emerald
shopping. Colombia is famous for its green stones.
Even though Colombia has a bad reputation for violence, Cartegena
has been one of my favorite stops to date. Many people judge
Colombia solely on the stories about the poverty of the interior
and from all the terrorist reports in the media. But the Colombians
we met have been friendly, welcoming, and very eager to meet
foreign visitors. They also have an amazing variety of fruit!
Cartagena, it's a very interesting and lovely city that's a must
see for cruisers of all ages.
- darci bogdan 2/15/04
Far Niente - Catana 431 Cat
Kevin & Lynn Pearson
The Med & Caribbean
What do bankers do during their work day? If they are like Kevin
Pearson was, they spend an hour or more searching the internet
for their dream cruising boat. For Kevin and wife Lynn, the decision
was more momentous than for most couples because it would be
their first boat. The couple weren't entirely new to sailing,
however, as Kevin long crewed aboard the San Diego-based ILC
46 Xtreme. "She's a sistership to the San Francisco-based
Wasabi, but they always beat us because they had much
For nearly all of the couple's more than one year boat search,
they focused almost exclusively on monohulls, including those
by popular builders such as Pacific Seacraft, Island Packet,
and Hallberg-Rassy. But as they honed down the qualities they
wanted most in a boat, their broker at Yachtfinders in San Diego
suggested they seemed to be describing a catamaran. In almost
no time, they were off to the Med to buy Far Niente. When
they did, their total time aboard a cat consisted of about two
hours on a slightly larger sistership on the gentle waters off
When we first spotted Far Niente in the Gustavia anchorage
off St. Barths in the French West Indies, we had reason to believe
that the couple were from San Francisco. After all, that's the
hailing port painted on their transom. "We were going to
change it when we bought the boat two years ago," Kevin
laughed, "but have never gotten around to it."
The 'San Francisco' hailing port is there because the cat had
been purchased new in the South of France by Rob and Christine
Curry of San Francisco. Although Christine became pregnant shortly
after they ordered the boat, they nonetheless took delivery of
the boat, sailed her around the Med some, then crossed the Atlantic
as part of the 2002 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. But when Christine
became pregnant for a second time, the couple put the boat up
for sale, having decided that cruising with two very young children
was going to be too difficult. Nonetheless, they had the cat
shipped back across the Atlantic to Barcelona, where Rob entered
an MBA program. Barcelona is where the Pearson's would buy the
Kevin and Lynn's first sail on their new cat was a classic baptism
by fire. Sailing across the notoriously rough Gulf of Lyon where
the winds funnel down the Rhone River valley, they were nailed
by 45-knot winds and boisterous seas. Although they were very
pleased with how their cat handled boisterous conditions, Lynn
made her feelings clear. "If this is what it's going to
be like, I don't want to do it." But it hasn't been anything
like that since.
As for having selected a catamaran, and the Catana 431 in particular,
the couple could be proselytizers. We were in a rush to catch
a plane so we didn't have time to quote Kevin precisely, but
he said something to the effect that Far Niente was the
best possible cruising boat for two people, because she was fast,
comfortable in even the roughest weather, and easy for two people
After nodding her head in agreement to everything Kevin said,
Lynn praised their boat for having the galley 'up' in the salon,
the tremendous all-around visibility, and for having so much
space. "We had three folks crew with us on our Atlantic
crossing a short time ago, and there was always plenty of room
About the only disagreement the couple have is whether it's fun
or not to sail the boat at the highest speeds. "We once
hit 20 knots while sailing down a wave off Spain's Costa Brava,"
remembered Kevin with pride. "I love the fact that in 20
to 25 knots of true wind, we'll always be doing at least 10 knots,
and that the boat is very comfortable doing 15 knots."
"But we're not going to do 20 knots again," Lynn firmly
reminded him with a smile.
We've known a lot of sailors who have been pleased with their
boats, but when it comes to the Pearsons, we're not sure we could
pry them away with a hydraulic ram.
The couple spent most of the past two summers cruising the Med,
basically sailing the width of it three times and as far south
as Tunisia on the African continent. They enjoyed all the sights,
particularly Lynn, who is a history buff. Kevin liked that aspect
too, but confessed that he "hated" the sailing, as
there was rarely a good sailing breeze. Looking down in the clear
blue waters of the Caribbean, and at the whitecaps a half mile
offshore, Kevin said he was eager to sample Caribbean sailing.
In addition to raving about the great places they visited - Italy,
Sicily, Greece, Spain, as well as just about everywhere else
- the couple mentioned they took great pleasure from the people
they met. "Everybody was so wonderful!" they said,
a sentiment not often heard back home. They told about meeting
several Italian families who as much as adopted them, taking
them to their houses for homecooked meals. Their single greatest
experience, however, involved a Scandinavian couple they met
in Gibraltar. The couple spoke so glowingly of sailing in Scandinavia
that the Pearsons decided they'd sail to Norway for their second
summer rather than doing the Med again. Alas, the weather was
so brutal going north from Gibraltar - one boat even sank - that
they just couldn't make it, so they sailed all the way across
the Med to Greece.
But their Scandinavians friends weren't about to let some bad
weather prevent their American friends from seeing their homeland,
so they invited them to spend three weeks cruising with them
aboard their Farr 50. "It was such a fantastic experience,"
remembers Lynn. "In particular, the sailing waters and little
towns between Oslo and Malmö were so beautiful. And everything
up there is so clean."
"We were there for Mid-summer's Eve, which is a huge holiday
in that part of the world," says Kevin, "and had a
wonderful time. So in essence, we ended up having Scandinavian
and Mediterranean cruises that summer."
While in the Med, the couple spent about 80% of the time on the
hook. This is a good thing, because they say it could cost about
500 euros - or almost $700 U.S. - a month to keep the boat in
a slip. "Finding room in marinas and the cost of slips are
the only downsides of owning a cat," says Kevin.
Far Niente - which means 'sweet do nothing', 'kick back',
or 'chill out' in Italian - has a third crewmember in Tia, a
small dog they adopted while in Greece. "She had broken
legs, broken hips, and was days from death," reports Lynn,
an avowed animal lover. "If you've got a Visa card, modern
medicine can do just about anything," says Kevin.
After their two summers in the Med, the Pearsons sailed across
the Atlantic from the Canaries to Antigua. It looked as though
they were going to make it in 16 days - and then they were becalmed
for three days. "At least we caught a lot of mahi mahi and
wahoo during that time," says Kevin.
In a final note that brought a smile to our face, the couple
reported that "Latitudes bring a high price in Barcelona.
People are always asking to read it when others get done with
- latitude 2/14/04
Vie - Catalina 470
Keith & Susan Levy
One Ray Of A Story
We were in Funafuti, Tuvalu, in the Marshall Islands, one moonlit
night, when after a work day on the boat, we decided to take
the dinghy ashore to observe some singing and dancing in celebration
of Tuvalu's 25th anniversary of independence from Great Britain.
I was tending the outboard while Susan sat on the seat forward.
I brought the dinghy up to planing speed for the quarter-mile
ride to shore, when all of a sudden I heard Susan scream. Something
wet and slimy glanced off her face - and a nanosecond later hit
me in the chest!
It all happened so fast and in such dim light that I thought
we'd run into something or someone - perhaps another dinghy.
Then I heard the thrashing - and looked down on the fiberglass
floor of our dinghy to see what must have been a 40-lb spotted
eagle ray! It had jumped out of the water - as we have observed
rays to do on many occasions - and we just happened to get under
its flight path. What are the odds?
I wish that I'd had the presence of mind to snap a photo, but
at the time all we could think of was getting the thing out of
the dinghy before we got hurt. After all, the ray has a thorny
barbed tail that could cause a lot of damage. Susan first held
the ray down with one of the paddles, and then I grabbed the
other paddle and tried to shovel it up and over the side. That
didn't work. Next, we each grabbed one wing and tried to throw
it overboard. That didn't work either, as the ray was too heavy,
squirmy, and slippery. I finally bent my knees and extended my
arms - like a fork lift - under the ray's body, and with all
my strength lifted him onto the starboard tube and rolled him
overboard. He took off like a dart.
Exhausted and relieved, we couldn't believe what had happened.
Needing to return to our boat to freshen up, we then noticed
that the tube on the port side of our inflatable was losing air.
We later found that 10 small holes had been poked in the tube
by the ray's barbs. We were sure glad it was the dinghy that
got it and not us.
It all just went to prove that the cruising life is stranger
- keith & susan 2/10/04
Saga - Alberg 35
Nancy Birnbaum & Jann Hedrick
Panama City, Panama
We and Saga have been in Panama since before Thanksgiving,
enjoying the islands and the northern coast of the Pacific side.
We've spent the last month on a mooring ball at Flamenco Marina
making engine repairs. We regret to say it, but in our opinion
Panama has surprisingly few facilities for cruisers. Considering
the number who come through Panama, it's amazing there is so
little. Furthermore, some of the people who operate these facilities
have, in our opinion, an atrocious attitude toward their cruiser
There are exceptions, of course. Such as David Cooper, the ex-manager
of the Flamenco Marina, who seemed as though he had to work under
unreasonable restraints imposed by the owner. But like us, he
finally had enough, and last week moved on to a 'bluer marina'.
We strongly recommend that cruisers coming down the Pacific Coast
spend more of their time in the islands to the north, such as
Parida and Gamez in the Chiriqui Gulf, and the Bahia Honda and
Secas areas. Finally, cruise the Pearlas Islands, leaving yourself
just enough time in the former Canal Zone to reprovision and,
if you're headed to the Caribbean, to take care of arrangements
for your Canal transit.
Here's our little guide to facilities on the Pacific side of
Anchorages: There are two anchorages near the former Canal
Zone, located to the northwest and southwest of the causeway
that runs out to Flamenco Island. Depending on the direction
of the wind, one side might be better than the other. But both
have their problems.
Although the Southeast anchorage is located close to the entrance
to Flamenco Marina, it's usually a rough and wet dinghy ride
to shore. Unless you fill a fuel jug, the marina charges $5/day
for use of the dinghy dock. The alternate anchorage is just around
the island, and although it is generally calmer, is still subject
to the wakes of all the pilot boats and ship traffic headed in
and out of the canal. To top it off, at least once a month some
men on an official-looking boat come by to tell people on the
anchored boats that they have to move on. It's apparently illegal
for boats to anchor anywhere in the area - but few boats seem
Marinas: Currently, there are no slips available in Panama
City. Although Flamenco Marina has some, they are filled with
power yachts. It became clear to us during our month-long stay
on one of their mooring balls, that the Flamenco management would
prefer to avoid having to deal with cruisers. The mooring balls
are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, but there are
only a few that aren't occupied full time. Although construction
is still underway, the marina facilities are minimal. For example,
there is a cold water shower in the marina office, and a small
bar overlooking the marina. The dinghy dock is not to be believed,
as it's peculiar design makes it accessible only from the dock
and one side. The other two sides are blocked by a railing, forcing
you to either limbo under or climb over it. This becomes most
fun when the winds are blowing out of the north/northwest, and
the chop in the marina is like that on San Francisco Bay. We
experienced waves inside the marina that were just like the waves
outside the breakwater.
On the positive side, the nearby Fuerte Amador Plaza is home
to a multitude of fine restaurants and tourist shops. This is
a big draw for the throngs of local and foreign tourists, and
the place really hums when a cruise ship pulls in. Unfortunately,
the subsequent noise is a real problem for folks in the marina,
especially at night and during weekends.
The only other place to secure your boat is the Balboa YC, closer
to the entrance to the Canal. As of January 31, the club closed
until at least March. The mooring balls are still there, but
what few facilities there were after the clubhouse burned down
four years ago are no more. A new owner has taken over the land
where the Balboa YC had it's small restaurant/bar, and showers
and pool. It remains to be seen what will be built in its place.
The yacht club intends to rebuild the restaurant/bar on the ruins
of the original yacht club. Nonetheless, that leaves even fewer
facilities for cruisers in Panama. There is a very tiny shower
under the yacht club office on the dock where the launch departs
for the moorings. That's it! Oh yes, there is a TGI Friday's
located in the County Suites Hotel next door. We are going to
talk to the manager of the bar to discuss some possible cruiser
specials to fill the void.
Haulouts: After we completed the repairs to our engine
cooling system, we discovered yet another problem that required
a haulout. After talking with other cruisers and watching our
friends haul Kolo on the rails at the Balboa YC, we decided
to use the Travel-Lift at Marina Flamenco. It was more expensive
to haul at Flamenco, but given the work we needed to do on the
shaft and rudder, we decided it was the better option. Then we
discovered that the crew at Flamenco didn't have much experience
with smaller sailboats, as the blocking process for our boat
took all day! The biggest problem was they'd run out of the primitive
supports they use for blocking boats. When I inquired why they
didn't have normal boatyard jacks, I was told it's because at
$100 each, they cost too much. This at a yard that charged $300
to haul our 35-footer, plus $1.50/foot per layday, plus $10/month
each for electricity and water! The price for laydays goes up
after a week.
I spent our first night on the hard listening - from midnight
to 2 a.m. - to a very loud bulldozer noisily going back and forth
across the yard. It was the night manager collecting garbage.
We were sure relieived when we managed to get our work completed
and boat back in the water after just three days. But on our
boat's way back into the water, one of the line-handlers controlling
her had his back turned and wasn't paying attention. Geez! It's
hard to believe that there is now a better marina in Nicaragua
than here in Panama, but we think it's true. We understand that
Ecuador also has better and less expensive facilities, but we
weren't headed there.
Provisioning: Panama City does offer a large variety of
shopping and provisioning opportunities. If you don't know where
to get something - be it a boat part or a can of mandarin oranges
- we recommend seeking out Enrique Plummer. This ever-friendly
and ever-helpful ship's agent can handle everything from checking
in/out, to Canal transits, to locating and importing parts. From
personal experience, we know that he's big on service and low
on price. Contact Enrique on VHF 69 or by cell at 507-674-2086.
It's just 15 minutes by bus or taxi from the anchorages to the
new Allbrook Mall next to the Gran Terminal. While the Super
99 there may not be the best large supermarket, it's the closest.
Spread throughout Panama City are a number of El Rey supermarkets,
which are very good. Then there's the huge, five-story El Machetazo
market located on Ave. Cinco de Mayo. It's not the best part
of town, but this place has everything from auto accessories
to sewing machine parts - and even good produce.
We're happy that we've had time to explore Panama City, which
is great. We just wish that somebody there would decide that
it's worth catering to cruisers.
- nancy & jann 2/05/04
Nancy & Jann - We're sorry you had
such a bad experience with the marine services in Panama. With
the almost complete shutdown of the Pedro Miguel Boat Club, facilities
are indeed limited. However, we do know of cruisers who've been
happy with their experience using the rails at the Balboa YC,
which, like the mooring operation, will continue to be in service.
As for Flamenco Marina, they were very kind and helpful when
Profligate limped in late last
December with a broken saildrive - even though her 30-ft beam
meant she had to haul out at Vacamonte for repairs.
Indigo - Sceptre 41
Mike Sheats & Hillair Bell
Second Cruising Boat
Mike and Hillair are a couple who have had a lot of different
places to call home in the last few years. When they decided
to retire after 2000 - he an architect for Kaiser Medical, she
an administrator for Kaiser Medical - they chose to downsize
from their big house in Berkeley to a houseboat in Sausalito.
But after just six weeks, they rented the houseboat out to a
"rock 'n roller" so they could travel to the East Coast
to buy a cruising boat. After a year, they found that the 39-footer
they bought in New Jersey wasn't going to work out. So they left
her on the East Coast, and in 2003 travelled down to Grenada
and bought and restored a 41-footer more suitable to cruising,
which they've been happily sailing in the Caribbean and Venezuela
When it comes to cruisers, Mike and Hillair both have better
than average sailing skills, thanks in a large part to their
considerable amount of racing experience. Way back when, Mike
was very successful with his Thunderbird Ouzel. The couple
have done a lot of sailing with John Clauser and Bobbi Tosse
aboard the Farr 40 Bodacious, and have done Pacific Cups
on that boat as well as Petard. In addition, the couple
owned the Wylie 34 Echo for four years.
Given their performance sailing background, it's understandable
they would lean toward a high-performance cruising boat - such
as Lorelei, a Finngulf 39, "a racer we thought we
could cruise." During their four months of cruising the
boat in the Abacos, the 'performance' aspect of their boat was
sometimes good and sometimes bad. The good times included having
a boat that sailed very well. Well enough, in fact, to beat the
J/80 Grumpy Old Men to win the Hopetown Regatta. On the
less good side, because of the boat's deep draft, they ran aground
no less than 20 times. In addition, the lack of tankage turned
out to be very inconvenient. The boat only carried 30 gallons
of water and just 18 gallons of fuel. That's fine for day racing,
but not for serious cruising.
During the first year of ownership, they kept telling themselves
that this little modification and that would render the Finngulf
an acceptable cruising boat. For example, cutting a foot off
the bottom of the keel, or putting a 100-gallon water tank in
the bow. Ultimately, however, they decided these modifications
would be going against the nature of the boat. On the other hand,
no longer kids, they didn't want to do 'backpack cruising' in
retirement. So Lorelei is currently listed with the Finngulf
dealer in Connecticut at $89,000. "She's really a great
boat," says Hillair, "and would actually make a wonderful
performance cruiser for younger cruisers. She sails great - in
fact, it had been our intention to race her in the West Marine
Having crawled through over 200 boats in the last couple of years,
in May of 2002 they bought the Sceptre 41 Indigo, whose
previous Bay Area owners had sailed her as far away as the Med.
But when Mike and Hillair moved aboard, she was in Grenada -
and in need of six months of work. Summer is not the best time
to do interior boat work in the tropics. Indeed, while the people
were friendly, they found the conditions to be "beastly".
And this was before Mike suffered an appendicitis attack.
Initially unsure of the medical care available in little Grenada
- where voodoo and such is still in style in some areas - they
were surprised at the quality of medical care Mike received.
He was admitted to a 16-room private hospital run by a West Indian
doctor, who had been trained in England and Ireland, and his
wife. The doctor and several others are intent on raising the
quality of medical care on the island.
"I felt very comfortable having the operation there,"
said Mike. "I could tell that the surgeon - who also happened
to be a very enthusiastic racer with his own Beneteau 38 Windborn
- was well-trained and I was impressed by the modern anesthesiology
equipment." The hospital didn't have the latest in recovery
room equipment, but a nurse came by every 10 minutes to monitor
Then came the operation and four days in the hospital, which
cost $3,200 U.S. - or the price of an aspirin at some U.S. hospitals.
What's more, while Mike had to come up with the money himself,
his old employer Kaiser, with whom he and Hillair maintained
their health insurance, reimbursed him for 100% of the bills.
By the way, while neither Mike or Hillair work for Kaiser anymore,
they both had very complimentary things to says about the Kaiser
program and medical care.
Having worked on the boat since June, in December they took off
for Carriacou, where they bumped into frequent Latitude
contributor Ray Jason. They spent New Years' Eve at lovely little
Bequia, and as they worked north made stops at St. Lucia, Martinque,
and Antigua - "skipping all the islands that might be unfriendly
to dogs". The third crewmember on Indigo is Tyson,
their 12-year-old poodle. "I'm Mike, he's Tyson," is
the way Sheats likes to introduce himself and his dog. Tyson
looks as though he might be a terrific watchdog, but in reality
is too old. He doesn't even bother to bark, but he's much loved.
With the approach of hurricane season, they started south again.
During their May stop in Simpson Bay Lagoon in St. Martin, they
had to ride out a 50-knot blow. Getting further south, they stopped
at Carriacou again, where they were thrilled to take honors in
the Around The Island Race.
Having sailed up the Caribbean chain again this winter, they're
not sure where they are headed next, if indeed they are headed
anywhere new, but at some time in the future they'd like to do
the Western Caribbean. Before then, however, it looks as though
they'll be crewing aboard Profligate for the BVI Spring
"Of course we miss our families back home, but the Caribbean
has more than lived up to our expectations. And there's also
the bittersweet part of cruising, which is that you're always
meeting these really wonderful people - and then sailing away
- latitude 38 1/18/04
Viva - Islander 37
Bahia De Caráquez, Ecuador
Bahía de Caráquez is not for all cruisers. Some
of the reasons why you might not want to visit include the fact
there are no boat slips, no boatyards, no marine-oriented businesses,
no dedicated cruiser bars or discos, and no big supermarkets.
In addition, the anchorage becomes very rolly twice a day for
an hour or so around the high tides.
But there are lots of positives, too. As the Ecuadorian Department
of Tourism notes, Bahía de Caráquez is one of the
major Ecuadorian beach resorts, and is located on the Rio Chone
Estuary. They correctly claim that it's a small and laid-back
place with nice gardens and well-maintained beaches. In fact,
it's been declared an 'eco-city', as it has lots of organic gardens,
eco-clubs, and recycling projects. It's also the first city in
the world with a shrimp farm that's been certified as organic.
On more personal terms, I've found Bahía to be a quiet
and simple small town, with friendly and peaceful people who
are sometimes a little shy. The cost of living is wonderfully
low. For instance, the standard lunch - which consists of a large
bowl of thin soup with vegetables and some kind of meat in it,
a plate with rice, fried plantains, salad, a piece of either
fish, beef or chicken, and a fruit drink or cola - is only $1.50
U.S.! A 21-oz. bottle of beer sells for between $.50 and $1.
A large loaf of freshly baked bread costs $.50, and if you spend
$5 on fresh fruit and veggies at the market, you'll need somebody
to help you carry it all back to your boat. Fresh shrimp runs
about $2/lb, while whole chickens are $.70/lb. Diesel is $1.03/gallon,
while a haircut costs all of $2. Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar,
as well as gallons and pounds as forms of measurement.
There is a bar between the ocean and the anchorage on the Rio
Chone, so you have to hang out at the 'waiting room' until the
tide is high. The channel is unmarked, but if you , I can send you the 10 GPS waypoints that will safely
take you to the anchorage. But you'll feel much more confident
if, when you get here, you call one of your fellow cruisers on
CH 18A - that's 18 Alpha USA/Canada, not 18 International - to
pilot you in. Initiate your VHF call when you are still 10 miles
out, because the peninsula that Bahía is on prevents good
transmission between the 'waiting room' and the anchorage.
There's a free dinghy dock for cruisers with boats on moorings
or anchored out, but for $10/month you can also use the dinghy
dock, swimming pool, and outdoor shower at the Bahia YC. Within
three blocks of the dinghy dock are Internet cafes, a laundry
service, a couple of surprisingly well-stocked hardware stores,
and just about anything else you would normally want. If you
need boat stuff, you'll have to take a 2.5-hour bus ride to Manta,
the largest fishing port on the west coast of South America.
The cruisers who visit Bahía fall into two categories:
1) Those who are enroute from Panama to the South Pacific, and
2) Those who are exploring the South American continent by land.
For those sailing west, a stop at Bahía breaks up the
trip and results in better sailing angles to the Galapagos. As
for those who want to see the continent, what could be better
than a safe, free anchorage - or a $100/month mooring - right
in front of the Port Captain's office? At any given time, half
of the cruising boats here are unattended, with their owners
in Quito, the Amazon Basin, surfing the great waves of Ecuador,
mountain climbing in the Andes, or visiting Machu Picchu and
Cuzco in Peru, or even Santiago, Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro.
Bahía is not for everyone, but those of us cruisers who
are here are certainly enjoying it.
- bob 2/14/04
Sun Dazzler - Mariner 48
Dorsey & Janice Warren
The Holidays In Cartagena
Here's a 'better late then never' report from Cartagena, Colombia.
When last Thanksgiving rolled around, about 60 of us cruisers
were hoping for a proper Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey.
So, the wonderful folks at Club Nautico gave us the run of their
kitchen to cook four turkeys and prepare a giant Thanksgiving
potluck. In addition to giving us a place to cook our four turkeys,
they laid out a grand table with beautiful place settings, and
had two waiters serve us a feast at their expense. What other
marina would do that for cruisers?
Here's a list of boats and folks who attended the Thanksgiving
dinner: Andiamo, Silvaro, Donn and Bill; Asylum,
Katie and Jim; Carol Ann, Rachel and Barney; Circe,
Birthe and Jorgen; Fair Winds, John; Fairwyn, Nancy
and Steven; GPA III, Donna and Sam; Kiwi, Julie
and Tom; Little Bit, Sandy and Del; Lisa, Liz and
Roy; Melodye, Paola, Mark, Harmony, and Stacy; My C
Lady, Buddy and Worth; Olive Oil, Chris and Ann; Picasso,
Diane and Claude; Raven, Clyde and Josette; Refuge,
Jan and Kelley; Saltwhistle, Fran and Chris; Sea Bride,
Ruth and Bill; Shilo, Harry and Sonja; Snake Oil,
Tammy and Stan; Spicy Lady, Pierre and Caroline; Sun
Dazzler, Janice and Dorsey; Tahiarti, Deya and Chuck;
Vikja, Gladys and Joe; The W.C. Fields, Debbie
and Dennis; Candalaria, the Club Nautico Marina owner, and John
Lourdes, the Dockmaster, and his children.
The overall hospitality in Cartagena has been just great, and
we're all enjoying our stays in this beautiful Spanish colonial
city. Christmas was special, too, as all the extra lights in
the old town district made the city look great, and there was
lots of extra entertainment.
The folks at Club Nautico are a big part of the city's hospitality
to cruisers, as they go all out to make us feel welcome, right
from the moment you step onto the dock where John Halley, a Brit
now living here, welcomes you. Candalaria, the owner, does a
good job of making sure all the local owners of boats get along
with the cruisers. How popular is it at Club Nautico? There aren't
any open spots, and about 40 boats are anchored off.
Sun Dazzler spent the last summer here while we returned
home to Tahoe. Everything was fine, so after we return for another
winter in the San Blas Islands of Panama, we'll probably return
to Cartagena and Club Nautico.
- janice and dorsey 1/30/04
30K Raised For Indian School
There were fewer boats than last year at the Third Annual Zihua
SailFest, but even more money was raised during the January 29
to February 1 event. In the course of four days of parades, beach
parties, sailboat races, and music, over $30,284 U.S. was raised
for the Netzahualcoyotl School for Indigenous Children and other
educational projects in Zihuatanejo. As before, half of the money
came as matching funds from Richard and Gloria Bellack of the
San Diego based Bellack Foundation, and a new supporter, Bill
Underwood of the Underwood Family Foundation.
Forty-six boats participated, ranging in size from Mario Durnas'
21-ft trailerable El Pacifico, to Russell and Joanne's MacGregor
65 Northern Dancer. Land-based 'cruisers' and landlubbers in
Zihuatanejo pitched in to help, too, with seven 'virtual cruisers'
working on the committees and events.
SailFest had a new committee this year, which nonetheless followed
the template of last year's very successful event. This year's
committee members included Dennis and Susan Ross of Two Can
Play, Mike Clark and Kimberly Eko of Pacific Jade,
David Smith and Jane Sanderson of Dream On, David and
Mollie Spaulding of Tumbleweed, Bob and Judy Zemore of
Katie Rose, Mike and Jill Gottlieb of Bright Angel,
J.P., Linda, and Jordon Mase of Genesis, Michael Fitzgerald
of Sabbatical, Jerry and Sandy Zaslow of Romanc'n the
Zea, Kurt and Nancy Bischoff of Gumbo Ya-Ya, Christopher
Emery and Dawn Rehbock of Alaskason, and Rick and Heike
of Rick's Bar, who served as community coordinators.
Even before the official festivities began, cruisers helped put
together bags of school supplies - contributed from folks from
all over the world - for all 327 kids at the Indian school. In
addition, cruisers and other foreign visitors put in several
very productive 'work days' at the school, fixing electrical
problems, installing fans, cleaning, landscaping, and installing
This year's SailFest started with the traditional kickoff party
Wednesday night at Rick's Bar, with many notables on hand - including
Netza School Director Marina Sanchez Hernandez, Zihua Mayor "Presidente"
Amador Campos, Director of Tourism Raul Chavez Marino, and Miriam
Cordova of the Ixtapa-Zihua Office of Conventions & Visitors.
And although they weren't all present, the help of the Zihua
business community was also evident, as more than 125 local businesses
combined to donate goods and services worth in excess of $10,000.
On Thursday morning, Bob and Judy Zemore of Katie Rose
put on a seminar for northbound cruisers headed to the Sea of
Cortez for the summer or a Baja Bash. In the afternoon, most
cruisers went to La Ropa Beach for an afternoon of all the silly
beach games that make cruisers wish video cameras had never been
invented. There was a slight casualty in the Fabulous Flipper
Race, however, as Christine of Kula threw out her hip
while floundering down the course.
On Friday, a fleet of 11 boats raced around Roca Negra, a stark
outcropping two miles from Zihua's La Ropa Beach. Unfortunately,
it was the calmest day inside the bay in a month. Fortunately,
once the fleet rounded the weather rocks, the wind picked up.
Wilderness, an Aerodyne 38 skippered by Jeff Rothermull,
took first. Edelweiss, Pete Boyce's Sabre 42 from San
Francisco, came in second, and the Santa Cruz-based Pegasus
The lack of wind during the race didn't dampen the cruisers'
fun, but when it started to pour during the afternoon dinghy
raft-up, people began to wonder if they were really in Zihua.
At least the rain was warm and the 10 cases of donated beer were
cold. It was amazing how a simple afternoon of cocktail snacks
passed dinghy to dinghy turned into a major buffet - complete
with hot food. Ron and Cheryl Roberts of Lazy Days provided
the mooring for 36 dinghies in the raft-up.
There were two events on Saturday: a morning 'poker chase', with
12 dinghies and one kayak participating, followed by an afternoon
chili cook-off and street fair. David and Mollie Spaulding of
Tumbleweeds organized the poker chase, which had participants
zipping all over the three-mile wide Zihua Bay to pick up poker
cards. The highest and lowest hands won.
The street fair, organized by Dawn Rehbock of Alaskason,
was the high point of the day, as more than a dozen cruisers
and others served up chili with exotic names like 'Pauline's
Poole Chili', made by sponsor Gloria Bellack's sister Pauline
Padley of England. Also hailing from the continent was Graham
Borne, offering 'Her Majesty's Olde English Recipe'. And, of
course, more than a few entrants tried to sway the judges with
free tequila shots and other gimmicks. Local Zihua singer Josie
Kuhn took top honors by conserving her portions and staying until
the last. When she's not crooning at Rick's, Josie is a folksinger
The festive street fair gave local people, tourists and cruisers
a chance to gather together. Vendors, local organizations, and
tour outfits set up tables - along with families of the school
children showing their traditional Indian crafts.
The annual SailFest Parade of Sail drew 27 cruising boats, plus
some local boats that saw the parade and fell in line. So much
wind came up that most of participants said it was the best sailing
they'd had in a year. "We sailed more in the sail parade
than we did all the way from Victoria, British Columbia,"
said J.P. Masse of Genesis. The fleet was even visited
by several southbound gray whales. And at the halfway point,
a planeload of skydivers floated down to greet the arrival of
the parade at Ixtapa. Nineteen of the parade boats took a total
of 150 passengers, each of whom donated $25 to the fund-raiser.
By the wrap-up BBQ on Sunday, most of the participants were wondering
if they could withstand any more fun. Nonetheless, over 200 folks
rallied for a festive two hours of great food by four local vendors,
awards for the racing, parade, and other events, and the eventual
balancing of the books to see how much was raised. "We had
a good time and it's for a great cause," said Avon Dawson,
hailing from Poole, England. Dawson sang Love is Everything
to raise a few extra dollars and capture the spirit of the entire
week. Twelve children from the Indian school sang the classic
Celito Lindo in Nahuatl, their native language.
"We had a superb time and it's for a great cause,"
said Mike Clark and wife Kimberly Eko of Pacific Jade,
who were very involved as donation co-chairs on the organizing
committee. "It was wonderful that the activities went as
smoothly as they did," said Susan Ross of Two Can Play,
"considering that Pacific Jade and Dennis and I began
organizing the committees only three weeks before the event."
Next year's SailFest is already on the calendar for February
2-6, 2005. For info on the Indian School and educational causes
helped by SailFest see www.zihuasailfest.com.
- lisa martin 2/10/04
Readers - Everyone who participated
in this year's SailFest should be proud of themselves for being
part of such a tremendous success for such a terrific cause.
After last year's group raised $22,000 - more than four times
the amount of the year before - we figured the third SailFest
might be a comparative flop because of the lack of continuity
in the organizing committee due to the transitory nature of cruising.
Then you folks in this year's group raised last year's fund-raising
by 50%. Fantastic!
We have a confession to make. We think that paying $500 to have
an agent do a boatowner's paperwork for a Panama Canal transit
is one hell of a lot of money. Particularly in a country where
the cost of living is very low, and where certain knowledgeable
cab drivers will, many cruisers have told us, walk you through
the process for about $30 - their cab fees included. Heck, the
first time that Big O, our old Ocean 71 ketch, came through
the Canal, we and our Spanish-speaking captain Antonio did all
the paperwork without anybody's help. It was easy and only took
about two hours. Puzzled by the prices agents charge - and are
set by the agents themselves - we asked Tina McBride about the
need for an agent and what she and others charge. McBride has
been a ship's agent for about 13 years, was the agent for Big
O when she went through the Canal for the second time, and
is a very nice person.
"Agents are for boatowners and/or captains who are too busy
or are in too much of a hurry to do it themselves. Or for those
who don't speak the language, or who want a guarantee their transit
will be when they want it to be. Sailors who don't use agents
are probably the kind of people who don't hire people to help
them do things. If I had a yacht and was headed to Cristobal,
and could afford it, I would want to use an agent because of
the hostile nature of the town. I would say that it's risky using
a taxi driver to do the Canal paperwork, because if for some
unforeseen reason the yacht breaks down or there's some kind
of problem, an agent would provide major assistance while the
taxi driver would be at a loss. I admit that some taxi drivers
can be very helpful and know a lot - I work closely with a lot
of them - but in the end, the agent is going to fight for the
boatowner to get his/her boat through the Canal, and make sure
the transit is safe and speedy. After all, we know the ins and
outs of the Canal, and have all the right contacts. In the end,
you get what you pay for.
"I charge $500 to do the complete package - entry, exit,
permits, transit coordination, travel arrangements, immigration,
help with repairs, lines, finding line-handlers, and so forth,"
McBride continues. "I am the eyes and the ears of my clients
while in Panama. I even supply them with a cell phone so they
contact me whenever they need to - and vice versa. When I have
a client, I normally send them info and try to get them to understand
what transiting and Panama is all about - from both coasts, as
it can seem like different worlds within the same country."
But still, $500? So when the folks aboard Saga mentioned
that Enrique Plummer had been a huge help to them in Panama,
and that he also arranges for Canal transits, we decided to give
him a ring. He answered his phone immediately, spoke English
well enough, and advised that he charges $200 to do the same
things for which Tina McBride and Pete Stevens, among others,
charge $500. "I've been doing this for three years, and
have arranged for the transit of about 250 boats. My goal is
to be the agent for smaller boats, not the megayachts whose owners
and captains don't care about $500. If there are any problems
before or doing a Canal transit, I can help with them. For example,
if anybody needs parts sent down from the States, I have an address
in Miami they can be shipped to, and I'll get them here and through
customs in 48 hours."
We decided to throw Plummer a little bit of a trick question
by asking if Cristobal/Colon had become safer in the last five
years. "No sir," Plummer responded firmly, "Colon
is not safe. In fact, I recommend that nobody stay there for
more than two days. As soon as possible, they should continue
on to Portebello, the San Blas Islands, or Bocas del Toro. There
is nothing to see in Colon anyway."
When Plummer mentioned that a few months ago he'd done the paperwork
for John Haste of the San Diego-based Perry 52 catamaran Little
Wing, we emailed Haste for a review of Plummer's work. Haste
replied as follows: "Enrique is over the top in service.
He used to work in the service industry in the United States,
and it shows. He's trying to build a reputation among the regular
cruisers, and I hope as he gets more business he'll be able to
maintain his high level of service while charging less than half
the price of the other agents. In addition, Enrique will drive
you anywhere for $8/hour."
If anyone else wants to share their Canal paperwork experiences,
we'd love to hear about them.
Speaking of John Haste, we think he deserves the nickname 'Jinxed
John'. As you'll recall, while his boat was in Nicaragua last
summer, she was hit by lightning, which did terrible things to
all the electronics as well as equipment with electronic parts
inside them. Then he was held up aboard his cat in Cartagena
by three guys armed with a homemade shotgun, and lost much of
his replacement electronics. When he got to the Eastern Caribbean,
his mainsail delaminated, and then the port transom steps got
bashed on the dock during a big blow in Grenada. And just the
other day he reported the dinghy he lifts out of the water every
night was stolen - while he was aboard - in Marigot Bay, St.
Martin. Surprisingly, after he reported the theft to the police,
they found the dinghy, outboard, and everything - except for
the gas tank. Leave it to somebody in St. Martin to steal a dinghy
for just the gas tank! Anyway, Jinxed John can thank his lucky
stars that he recovered what he did, and is semi-eager to participate
in early March's Heineken Regatta. Assuming, of course, his boat
doesn't get hit by an asteroid or something.
While we're in the Leeward Islands, we might as well report that
John Anderton of the Alameda-based Cabo Rico 38 Sanderling
tells us that he left Trinidad on November 6 and has been "meandering
back up the islands ever since". The singlehander most recently
sailed from Antigua to Nevis, St. Kitts, and St. Martin, where
he's now anchored in the lagoon and awaiting the Heineken Regatta
"After being dismasted on our way from the Marquesas to
Hawaii, limping back to the Marquesas, and installing a replacement
rudder, we have now completed the sail up to Hawaii," reports
Mike Harker of the Manhattan Beach-based Hunter 466 Wanderlust.
"While it was quite rough in the first week or so, with
25 to 30-knot winds and 12-foot seas, the last six days were
easy, with good wind and no problems. The 2,200-mile passage
took 14 days, which is four to six days faster than the average
time for a similar cruising boat. We're now in a small yacht
basin at Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. It gets noisy a couple
of times a week when the cruise ships come in, but it allows
us the chance to sneak on their free shuttle buses for rides
to Wal-Mart and stuff. One neat place to go is Old Town Hilo,
where there are lots of friendly and easy-going people.
"My problem," Harker continues, "is that there
are no yacht repair facilities or long term moorings around Hilo.
So we either have to go all the way to the Ala Wai Marina in
Honolulu or a small marina I was told about on the Kona side
of the Big Island. I'm going to rent a car and drive over to
Kona-Kailua and see the small marina. If they have a spot open
for Wanderlust, we'll leave the boat there while I fly
home for awhile. Since the rudder broke, I decided that I want
to haul the boat and check the hull and keel before making the
sail back to California. I expect to make the trip back to Marina
del Rey - where I have a slip waiting - in late May or early
"I ran into a little problem that may be of interest to
other cruisers," reports Steve Cherry of the San Diego-based
Formosa 41 Witch of Endor. Last September I left the Witch
at Banana Bay Marina in Golfito, Costa Rica, and returned to
the States for a little R&R. The 'Banana Bunch' tackled my
worklist, which included a couple of coats of varnish on the
masts - and in the process discovered some dry-rot in the area
of the inner forestay fitting. This required immediate repair,
so my options were to pull and repair the mast at the muelle
in Golfito; take the boat 350 miles to Balboa, Panama; take the
boat over 600 miles of open ocean to Bahía de Caráquez;
or 150 miles up to Puntarenas and a workforce I had experience
with. I decided on Puntarenas, and motored up to the Costa Rica
YC - a private business - to get the problem fixed. Removing
the Witches' 55-ft box construction spruce mast was not
for the faint of heart, as it required attaching Travel-Lift
slings to the winches on the mast, and using a combination of
steadying lines and the yard tractor to unstep the mast and then
set her down on the ground. To restep the mast, we had to reverse
the process - although we also needed to use the winches on my
"Upon removal of the inner forestay fitting, it was apparent
that the sealant that had been liberally applied to the inner
surfaces of the fitting when it was installed about five years
ago didn't properly seal around the mounting screws. Water got
in and the deterioration started. Carpenter Carlos Fallas removed
15 linear feet of bad wood on the face of the mast, and six feet
on each side panel, then fitted, glued, fastened, and shaped
the new material. He then stripped and coated the entire mast
with an epoxy sealer, and applied three coats of paint. I was
very impressed with the repair and finished product. While I
took advantage of the club's recreational facilities, I had the
yard strip and repaint the underwater parts of the hull, paint
the mizzen mast, and do a few other odd jobs. For anyone who
needs major or minor maintenance while in Central America, I
recommend the Costa Rica YC. As for the Witch and I, we're
on our way to Golfito for a short visit with the Banana Bunch,
after which we'll take off for Bahía de Caráquez,
Ecuador, to catch up with my sailing buddies on Viva! and
La Vie Danzante. We've got some serious story-telling to
We're sure a lot of our readers are curious to know how much
the repair job cost - or at least how much the yard charges per
"After all my troubles getting to La Paz, being held captive
there for seven months, and my problems getting to Mazatlan,
I'm beginning to feel like Capt. Ron," writes Susan Meckley
of the Challenger 32 Dharma. "The day before I left
La Paz, I had the waterpump rebuilt. It failed again 100 miles
out to sea. When I got to Mazatlan, I had it rebuilt again, but
it failed after 10 minutes. The problem was the guy who rebuilt
the pump didn't replace the impeller - which no longer had any
blades. I couldn't find a replacement impeller in Mazatlan, but
the Alameda-based U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Monroe just happened
to be in town. I approached them not knowing if I would be mistaken
for a terrorist, but they allowed me to show them my retired
military I.D. card - I had 32 years in the Army. With that, the
engineering department went to work fabricating a new impeller
for me. It took them two hours. Now that's what I call 'above
and beyond'. The Coasties were there, and they helped. Thank
you, Coast Guard! But now I don't know what to do. I hadn't figured
that cruising was so lonely. I need a companion, partner, lover
- whatever! Is there anyone out there who wants to cruise - I
don't care where, just somewhere - with a 70-year-old woman who
acts - and looks - 52? How about it, anyone interested?"
One of the few things we know about engines is that each time
you run one, you need to check the exhaust to make sure there's
plenty of water that's gotten through and cooled the block. If
there isn't, you must shut the engine down immediately - or get
ready to fork over thousands of dollars for an engine rebuild.
There are two primary causes of cooling water not getting to
and through the engine: 1) The raw water intake or filter is
clogged by a plastic bag, seaweed, or new crab habitat, and 2)
The water pump has a broken impeller. The water pump impeller
is so critical to the life of an engine, that at least two of
the correct ones for your engine - there are scores of different
sizes and types - must be carried onboard at all times. In addition,
it's critical to know how to install one, and what direction
it has to be oriented. Of course, life would be a breeze if finding
compatible mates was as easy as replacing impellers. Keep your
chin up and good luck.
And the rocket's red glare . . . is not what the Federales wanted
to see! Lisa Martin reports that after the sun set one night
after beach games during Zihua SailFest, a dozen cruisers on
dinghies putted out to the middle of Zihua Bay and began shooting
off their expired flares. "The people who manufacture Solas
flares should snap up a videotape of that event," says Martin,
"as the standard small flares that most people carry for
emergencies were pathetic compared to the Solas units, which
went up hundreds of feet high and illuminated the sky."
The 'Great Flare Shootout' had been approved in advance by the
port captain - don't you just love Mexico? - who apparently hadn't
checked with other authorities. For almost immediately, three
dark-hulled Mexican drug enforcement boats roared out to ask
what was going on. It seems they had been standing by waiting
for a boat drug deal to go down, and wondered if the flares weren't
some sort of signal!
If Martin was a sailor, she'd probably know that SOLAS is not
a brand name, but stands for the Safety of Life At Sea, an international
organization that establishes minimum standards for marine safety
equipment. There are many different kinds of SOLAS-approved flares
to meet the various needs of mariners. The brightest and highest-flying
is not always the most appropriate.
It's getting to be the highest of the high season at Paradise
Marina just north of Puerto Vallarta, what with the Puddle Jump
Party for cruisers heading across the Pacific on February 24,
and the big Banderas Bay Regatta March 25-28. It's too late to
make this year's Puddle Jump Party, but if you get this issue
early in the month, you'll have no excuse for missing the Banderas
Bay Regatta. This will be the first time in six years that we
and Profligate have missed it, and we're not happy about
it. It's a for-cruisers-only fun regatta, where the many social
activities are at least as important as the not-that-serious
racing. We urge you not to miss it!
As visitors to Paradise Marina no doubt notice, more and more
owners of large and megayachts have come to discover the many
pleasures of Banderas Bay and of Paradise Marina. Nonetheless,
Harbormaster Dick Markie wants everyone to know that the marina
hasn't forgotten its cruiser background, and therefore is proud
to continue to be home to Puddle Jumper meetings, Southbounder
get-togethers, the Banderas Bay Regatta, dock parties, blessings
of the fleet, as well as meetings with port captains, customs,
immigration, and the American consulate. Markie is also proud
to report that Paradise "is the only marina in Mexico with
the full cooperation of the Navy to present a seminar on boarding
procedures, and to open a patrol boat for cruisers to inspect."
Another skipper who did Banderas Bay Regatta for about six years
and is really missing it, is Blair Grinols of the Vallejo-based
46-ft Capricorn Cat. After something like six Banderas
Bay Regattas, last winter Blair headed off to the Marshall Islands,
which he found much to his liking. After leaving his boat there
for the fall, he's recently returned, and is once again having
a great time.
About 15 years ago, Richard and Sheri Crowe of Newport Beach
- who often skippers Orange Coast College's Alaska Eagle
to the far corners of the globe - built the Farr 44 Confetti.
As we recall, they took the boat on one daysail, after which
they made nonstop passages to Acapulco, Lima, and Cape Horn.
Their rudder broke on their way to ultra remote South Georgia
Island, so they retreated up to the Caribbean - which is where
we first met them. After a number of years, the Crowes sold the
boat to Northern California owners, who subsequently sold her
again. Richard and Sheri must have really liked that design,
for as we write this, they are feverishly laboring away on a
new sistership in Newport Beach. It's rare enough for a couple
to build a boat, but we've never heard of a couple who have built
the same design twice. As excellent a yacht as Confetti
was, we're confident that the new one will be even better, for
these folks are very talented. Come to think of it, they also
built the 54-ft aluminum sloop Polar Mist.
"We regret to report that the days of free anchoring are
pretty much over in Mazatlan," report Steve Hersey and Rita
Acciacca of the Union 32 SeaScape. "The port captain
has put fees on anchoring in the old harbor, and at $9/night
U.S., plus $3/day for the dinghy dock, it's not cheap. In fact,
you can get a berth at Isla Marina on the north side of town
in the same estuary as Marina Mazatlan and Marina El Cid for
less on a monthly basis. In addition, the port captain now requires
that an agent be used to check in and out. So where are budget
cruisers to go? There are a couple of free anchorages that are
fine for a few days of rest between passages - but they have
few if any services. One such free anchorage is behind Isla Chivos,
which is actually part of the eastern side of Mazatlan harbor.
There is a small town with very limited supplies within walking
distance of the beach, and the palapa restaurants give the cook
a chance to enjoy a meal ashore. The holding is good, and as
long as the wind is from the northern quadrant and there isn't
too much of a swell, it can be a pleasant anchorage. It's also
possible to anchor behind Isla Venados, which has rock outcroppings
and is also open to the south. But there are no services. Mazatlan
is a nice place to visit, and you can get good boatwork and other
marine services at reasonable prices. But if you expect to stay
on the cheap, you may have to restrict your visit to a few days."
We hate to hear news like that. In the past, Mexican port fees
always seemed to be quite reasonable. But over $300/month, if
you include dinghy dock privileges, verges on being outrageous.
We pay less than that to anchor Profligate off Gustavia,
St. Barth - which is about as upscale a little harbor as there
is this side of St. Tropez. Included in that fee is the use of
three dinghy docks and lots of clean showers and toilets reserved
for mariners. For your 32-ft boat, the monthly fee would be less
than $100/month. Plus, you can clear in and out yourself, for
nothing, in about 10 minutes of fun with the port captain or
his staff. You almost wonder if Mexican officials are trying
to drive boat tourists away.
"I'm Chris Havel of Oakland, and just wanted to introduce
myself and my family, and to share our plans for the future.
First, after years of waiting, watching and learning - with much
inspiration coming from the Cal Sailing Club in Berkeley and
Latitude - my wife and I have decided to go cruising for
one year with our two sons, who are 10 and 8. For a bunch of
reasons, we've decided to start on the East Coast and end up
back in California. We considered joining the West Marine Caribbean
1500 to get to the Caribbean, but compared to something like
the much less expensive Ha-Ha, it's too pricey for us. So you'll
understand that the reports you've been posting on 'Lectronic
since December about cruising in the Caribbean couldn't have
been more timely and worthwhile for us, as we intend to visit
most of the islands in the Eastern Caribbean. Will you be covering
other islands as well, such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines
and other 'down islands'?
"Given our initial East Coast itinerary, we purchased a
Stevens 47 that is currently in Annapolis," continues Havel.
"We made an offer, had her surveyed, and bought her - all
between Thanksgiving and New Years. We've only seen our boat
for six hours! Our new-to-us boat is currently wrapped up and
freezing her transom off on the East Coast while we finish the
kids' school year and our jobs. We leave California in early
June, spend the summer in New England, and then head southeast,
south, then west, and finally northwest. I'll be writing more
details on the various aspects of our trip - kids and schooling,
a year without working, preparations for the jump offshore, budget,
getting through the Canal, and so forth."
Congratulations on your new boat, and thanks for checking in
with us. Alas, we won't be going 'down island' this year, as
for once in our life we're trying to cruise a small area slowly
rather than a big area quickly. And we're loving it. In fact,
you won't believe our plans for next year. One caution about
cruising in the Northeast: berthing ins the more popular areas
can be ferociously expensive - as in up to $5/foot/night. So
if you're on a budget, plan ahead. By the way, when the time
comes for you to make the passage from the East Coast to the
Eastern Caribbean, we can put you in touch with people who do
it every year and who can give you some tips. Unlike sailing
from California to Mexico, from the East Coast to the Caribbean
can be complicated, and can be subject to rough weather.
Here's an usual exchange that was passed along to us:
From William Servais, Commodore of the Ross Island YC of Antartica
to former Redwood City resident Bob Rowland: "Received your
note regarding membership in the Ross Island YC of Antarctica.
How in the world did you hear about us? To join our exclusive
ranks there are a couple requirements. First, that you have been
to Ross Island. Second, our bylaws clearly state that we do not
accept convicted pirates. If you can give me some assurance that
you meet this standard, I will mail you a membership card."
To which Rowland responded: "I learned about the Ross Island
YC from a short note that appeared in the December issue of
Latitude 38, a sailing magazine published in the San Francisco
area. I think it's the most informative and readable sailing
publication in the U.S., and I continue to subscribe even though
I shipped my sailboat from Redwood City to Annapolis in '86.
I took early retirement from the U.S. Geological Survey, and
planned to sail to Australia. By the time I'd sailed as far as
Fiji, however, I had more experience and ended up circumnavigating.
You are correct about my having spent time at Ross Island. I
was there, during the summers of 1962-63 and 1963-64, for the
U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab. As for a
piracy conviction, negative, I never engaged in piracy or barratry.
I will look forward to receiving an RIYC membership card in the
mail. Let me know if I can do anything to help out fellow members
who might be planning long distance, small boat, low-profile
Also looking forward to going cruising - although it won't be
for a couple of years - is Jim Kerrigan. "Here's a photo
of the current status of the Chris White-designed Atlantic 42
catamaran we're building in our shop in Ferndale. We've been
at it for two years, and will be done in the spring of next year.
We'll probably be headed south with the Ha-Ha in a couple of
It looks as though Kerrigan is doing a fine job. We learned about
it when he wrote us inquiring about Profligate's original
74-ft mast, which is still safe, sound - and for sale - on
a roof in the Santa Barbara Harbor.
As we close out this month's Changes, we'd like to remind
you how much we enjoy hearing from all of you - and know that
your friends feel the same. A short note is always fine, but
please, please, please, always remember to include your boat
name, type, hailing port, and your full name. And when possible,
include a high resolution head and shoulders photo of yourselves. Gracias. Merci beaucoups. Thank you.