With reports this month from
Dawn Treader on taking the offshore
route from Mexico back to California; from Banderas
Bay on all the many things that are happening down there;
from SailFest in Zihuatanejo; from
Laelia on clearing into French Polynesia,
and lots of Cruise Notes.
- Jeanneau 40
Marty Gilmore & Marta Krissovich
(Great Salt Lake, Utah)
Dawn Treader is in Puerto Vallarta, where we are spending
our second season enjoying the wonderful cruising grounds of
Mexico. Since we are already hearing about people's plans for
the end of this season, we wanted to write about the good trip
north we had at the end of last year's cruise.
We had to bring our boat back to California, and not wanting
to have to do the notorious Baja Bash, we decided to make the
trip offshore. We left Cabo on May 27, and then sailed approximately
the rhumb line in westerlies as far north as Mag Bay. When the
usual northwesterlies filled in, we sailed away from the coast
on starboard tack. When we were still far southwest of Cedros,
we saw that the GRIB files were forecasting westerlies to the
north of us. So we tacked, ate a header for a day, then sailed
on port tack in west and WNW winds the rest of the way to San
Diego. We arrived on June 5.
We were out for nine days, almost all of which we spent sailing.
We used a total of 43 gallons of diesel - mostly the first night
out of Cabo and the last night before San Diego. We used the
rest of the fuel to charge our very weak batteries. We had one
rough night between Mag Bay and Cedros, with the winds building
to the high 20s and a mixed swell. But we mostly had winds between
eight and 20 knots, with a gentle northwest swell. We covered
a total distance of 1,032 nautical miles. The furthest offshore
we got was about 200 miles out, and we passed about 90 miles
to the west of Cedros Island.
Dawn Treader is a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40 sloop that is
rigged for cruising. We are a married couple who do three-hour
watches - so we didn't push it. If we'd wanted to push it, we
probably could have saved six hours over the course of the passage.
The worst parts of the trip were the grey skies after six months
of Mexican sun, and the fact that we didn't catch any fish.
Weather info is essential for this trip, both for route planning
and to avoid nasty stuff. We got GRIB and text files via SSB,
and we listened to Don on Summer Passage for the big picture
in the North Pacific. We also listened to boats close to shore
reporting getting beaten up in 35-knot winds and steep seas.
It reminded us why we'd gone offshore. If we go north again,
we'll go offshore again.
P.S. We used to live in Corte Madera and Marina del Rey.
- marty and marta 02/01/06
What's Shaking This Winter
They must not have big saltwater crocs at Radcliffe-on-Trent,
Nottingham, England. That's the only explanation we can come
up with for why Ha-Ha vets Dennis and Janet Knight of the Oyster
435 Shilling of Hamble got so worked up about the presence
of Pedro, one of the 12-ft crocs who calls the Nuevo Vallarta
lagoon home. "He's this big!" said the Knights, extending
their bodies across the width of their dock to provide a good
Actually, there are countless crocs in the lagoons of mainland
Mexico, from Mazatlan at least as far south as Acapulco. The
biggest concentration we've seen was at little Manzanilla on
Tenacatita Bay, where there must be two dozen lounging around
in the mangroves at the end of the main street. Waiters at restaurants
on the beach down at Zihuatanejo - where there are also plenty
of crocs, some as big as 15 feet - tried to assure us that Mexican
crocs don't eat humans. "They prefer the taste of cats and
dogs, which is why you don't see many of them on our beach,"
one waiter told us. It sounds like a ridiculous claim, but it
might be true. After all, you see big crocs cruising around in
the Nuevo Vallarta lagoon, the very same lagoon in which fishermen
are always standing knee-deep in the water casting their nets.
Maybe humans and crocs really do peacefully coexist in Mexico.
Unable to make it all the way to Zihua for SailFest because of
work related to our flood-damaged editorial offices in Mill Valley,
we did manage to squeeze in a trip to Banderas Bay to see Profligate
and what's new in that area. Our cat was looking very good indeed,
thanks to the great paint job by David and his conscientious
crew. We had all the exterior surfaces painted except for the
sides of the hull. The price was so reasonable that we almost
thought we were in Colombia. We would have had the hulls done
also, but then the port captain announced - quite rightly, we
think - that he would not allow any more sanding of boat hulls
in the lagoon. So now we're thinking about taking our boat up
to Mazatlan - one of the few places that can haul a cat with
a 30-foot beam - and bringing David's crew with us.
Behind us in line to get his multihull painted was Bruce Balan
of the red-hulled Cross 46 Mk II trimaran Migration. Originally
from the South Bay, Balan did a Baja Ha-Ha, then sailed back to Southern
California for a few more years of work, and is now cruising
permanently. In addition to getting his boat painted, Balan had
some work done where the chainplates attach to the hulls.
The slips at Paradise Marina were jam-packed, with Harbormaster
Dick Markie going way beyond the call of duty to squeeze in as
many cruising boats as possible. Several cruisers told us how
appreciative they were of his extra efforts.
Jerry and Kathy McGraw of the Newport Beach-based Kelly-Peterson
Po'oino Roa told us they think that the actions of the
California Legislature are the reason Paradise Marina - and other
marinas in Mexico - are so crowded. "Up until last year,
a guy buying an expensive motoryacht in California could take
it to Ensenada for 90 days, then bring her home and not owe any
taxes," said Jerry. "But after the Legislature passed
a new law increasing the necessary out-of-state time to one year,
many new boat buyers said the heck with Ensenada. If they had
to keep the boat out of state for a year, they figured they might
as well go all the way down to Puerto Vallarta."
We don't know if McGraw's theory is true, but we do know there
are more big motoryachts in Paradise Marina than ever before
- despite Markie's efforts to keep as many berths as possible
open for transient cruisers. On a different subject, we also
know that the McGraws spent a month or so as part of the 40 to
50-boat cruising community in Tenacatita Bay this winter, and
reported having a fabulous time. It would be great if someone
would send us a relatively thorough report on the scene at Tenacatita,
because it's pretty special - even for Mexico. The McGraws bought
their Peterson 44 on the East Coast a few years back, sailed
her through the Canal and up to their home in Newport Beach to
do a refit, and are now eager to head across to French Polynesia.
For what it's worth, Jerry enjoyed a career as part of the Newport
Beach Harbor Patrol, while Kathy is a licensed captain.
About a year ago, there were indications that the acute slip
shortage in Nuevo Vallarta might be relieved a bit, as it was
reported that the rights to the broken-down and bankrupt Nuevo
Vallarta Marina had been acquired by a new company. The new outfit
announced that they were immediately going to begin construction
of a magnificent new and larger world-class marina. Alas, a lawsuit
was filed by others who had been interested in the marina concession
and claimed they hadn't been given an opportunity to bid on it.
These plaintiffs won their suit against the government, so it
might be another six months before the rights to the marina concession
come up for bid again.
Although it's not clear what's going to happen to Nuevo Vallarta
Marina, Paradise Marina, which is located just across the channel,
is not standing around waiting for the depth of the channel to
increase all by itself. Dick Markie showed us plans for Graziano,
the owner of Paradise, to almost double the length the breakwaters
extend out into the ocean. "We'll do whatever it takes to
get a sustained depth of 15 feet," Markie said. In addition,
Paradise has gone to great expense to place a series of 240-ft
long 'geo bags' on their beachfront to try and prevent sand from
migrating south and into the channel. Maintaining a deep channel
is an expensive but necessary proposition.
The other big hope for more marina slips in Banderas Bay is the
Yacht Club Marina currently under construction at La Cruz. Initially
everybody seemed to be behind the project because it would create
much-needed jobs, stimulate the local economy, and clean up the
town's inexplicably messy waterfront, which is littered with
several trashed sailboats. But when construction started on the
marina's perimeter, a number of Americans were horrified to discover
that their waterfront homes were no longer going to be on the
water, but separated by a malecon and a row of buildings. This
has prompted a lawsuit with the allegations that the project
doesn't have the proper building or environmental permits, and
that it has infringed on the property rights of others.
Things went from bad to worse at the marina site in late December,
when a big swell rolled through, washing away a temporary breakwater
- and reportedly rolling a floating crane so badly that the boom
bent as a result of smashing into the operator's compartment.
The barge with the crane was then towed out to the middle of
the anchored cruising fleet and secured to the bottom with two
seemingly undersized anchors. Cruisers were said to have been
a little freaked. Knowledgeable folks around Banderas Bay tell
us that they don't know for sure what the outcome of the lawsuit
will be, but most think that the marina complex has the potential
to create so many jobs that it can't be stopped - at least not
for long. Construction was moving ahead full steam when we visited
in early February.
Not worrying at all about the lack of marina slips on Banderas
Bay was Renee Prentice of the San Diego-based Serendipity 43
Scarlett O'Hara. We bumped into her as she was about to
go on a laundry run, so she was happy to pause to tell us all
about the boat's new rudder. Scarlett, once owned and
raced at the zenith of international competition by Monroe Wingate
of St. Francis YC, came with two rudders when Renee and her husband
John bought her a number of years ago. Only needing one rudder,
they sold the spare to Minney's Marine Surplus in Costa Mesa.
Shortly after departing Mexico for the Marquesas two years ago,
their rudder broke off, so they returned to Mexico. They also
had to find a replacement rudder, as Minney's had sold their
backup. Fortunately, Ernie and crew just happened to have the
old carbon fiber rudder from the SC 70 Mongoose. John
Prentice tells us that not only did Mongoose's rudder
fit almost perfectly, but it only cost $300. Ordered new, it
would have been about $15,000.
Jean was also excited to show us the $7 solar-powered lights
that a friend had bought at Costco and brought down from the
States. "These new ones are even better than the amber-colored
solar lights we used to have - and one night those lights prevented
a lot of damage down in Tenacatita Bay. We were all ashore when
a big thunderhead came through with 30-knot winds. It was so
black out that nobody could see their boats. The only points
of reference were our amber lights. There was some anchor-dragging
and boats bumping as it was, but it would have been much worse
had the cruisers not had the lights to help them quickly find
We have mixed feelings about the shopping mall at Paradise Resort.
On the one hand, it has everything you need, from a grocery store
to a lavandaria to a place that makes great mango shakes, to
a terrific inexpensive Mexican restaurant. On the other hand,
such a shopping mall is way too much like regular life back in
the States as opposed to real cruising. Nonetheless, while having
breakfast in the shopping center one morning, we bumped into
singlehander Bernard Bouis of the Berkeley-based Trinton 29 Honu,
who is working his way down to Ecuador. A very pleasant guy,
he told us about a strange experience he had up at the Ensenada
Grande anchorage at Isla Partida in the Sea of Cortez late last
It was a very rough outside the anchorages one day, so Bouis
was happy to be tucked into the eastern corner of Ensenada Grande.
Then the 100+ foot motoryacht Lady Zelda showed up. They
told Bouis that they were doing some kind of photo shoot, and
would appreciate it very much if he would move for an hour or
so. Bouis was inclined to go along with the inconvenience - until
he was informed that he'd actually have to move for a number
of hours. At that point Bouis explained that he was happy where
he was given the conditions, and wasn't going to move. So the
Lady Zelda crew decided to more or less pretend that he
and his Triton weren't there. They kept getting closer, and closer,
and closer. When Bouis felt they'd come just a little too close,
the ballsy singlehander fired a flare gun across the megayacht's
bow! When they still kept coming, he fired a second flare. Sensing
the level of the singlehander's determination, the Lady Zelda
skipper retreated. The incident nonetheless left such a bad taste
in Bouis' mouth that he left the area the following day.
After having breakfast with Bouis, the Wanderer and Doña
de Mallorca headed out toward Punta Mita in search of a nice
sailing breeze and some surf. We didn't find either. However,
we did find plenty of sun, and saw no less than six whales, each
off on their own doing their own thing. One big guy surprised
us by surfacing about 150 feet off our starboard bow and pacing
us on a parallel course. There are international laws that protect
whales from being stalked too closely by boats. These rules weren't
being adhered to by a group of about five turkeys on a 30-ft
powerboat, who spent half an hour trailing one whale at distance
of about 50 feet. Where was Bouis and his flare gun when we really
If you had been going out to Punta Mita on a regular basis for
the last six or so years, you would have noticed a staggering
transformation - sort of like Cabo in the mid-90s. For a long
time there had been nothing but a couple of modest palapa restaurants
on the beach at El Anclote near the beginners' surf break. Then,
about six years ago, some developer started building what became
the not-particularly-attractive Anclote Condominiums on a three-story
bluff across the street from the beach. About a year after that,
another developer put up an eight-unit condo project on the bluff
on the beach about an eighth of a mile to the east at the village
of Emiliano Zapata. About the same time, construction began on
the gated Four Seasons complex that encompasses the entire point
at the tip of the bay. Development has been on an increasingly
fast roll ever since, with constuction about to begin on a St.
Regis Hotel at the point, more condos at Anclote and Emiliano
Zapata, and a big public plaza behind all the palapa restaurants.
We view such developments with mixed emotions. It would be best
for us relatively affluent cruisers if there was never any development
at Punta Mita. But we suppose that you have to be realistic,
as Mexico very much needs the foreign investment, jobs, and tourism
that come with such projects. We suppose the most we can realistically
hope for is that they do a good job - unlike at downtown Cabo
San Lucas. So far we're reasonably optimistic, as most of the
area is zoned for low-density development. Right now the vegetation
out by the point looks as though it were just given a mohawk,
but perhaps in a year or so the tropical landscaping will leave
it looking reasonably nice.
From a cruiser's point of view, the nice thing about Punta Mita
is that, in many ways, things are only going to get better. Right
now it's common for anywhere from five to 25 boats to be anchored
out - in a place that could easily accomodate hundreds of boats
at anchor. There's only one good place to bring a dinghy ashore,
and it's kind of a pain. But there's beginning to be enough cruiser
dinghy traffic that the owner of the nearest restaurant has inquired
about starting a 'dinghy valet' service such as has proven so
popular in Zihua. That would be nice.
Development is also bringing a greater variety of restaurants
and better quality food. There are about 10 palapa restaurants
on the beach. Several of them are relatively basic and rustic,
such as you'd find up the coast at Chacala or down at Chemela.
Almost all have free showers and unusually nice restrooms. The
palapa furthest to the east even has a swimming pool. Hector,
son of the owner of the nearby Dorado Restaurant, has opened
his own Margarita restaurant, which on some occasions will double
as the home of the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club. In fact,
the founding celebration will be on March 27, the night before
the Pirates For Pupils Spinnaker Run for Charity to Paradise
Marina. Margarita's will also be the base for high speed internet
access sent out to the anchorage.
Where does Margarita's get their fish for dinner? About 15 miles
offshore. Hector tells us that about 30 tuna weighing over 200
pounds have been caught in the last two months. He was aboard
a panga when a four-hour battle was waged before a 295-lb tuna
was landed. No wonder his seared tuna filets are almost too big.
The two most upscale places on the beach are Tino's and Chef
Rogers. Tino's is a little fancier, but Chef Roger's Mañana
Restaurant has a South of France ambience that we think is just
wonderful. You pay close to U.S. prices at Tino's and Chef Rogers,
but given the quality of the food, the ambience, and the salubrious
evening weather, we think they are bargains for those special
The cool thing about the Punta Mita area is that everybody walks
the same half-mile stretch of beach, eats at the same places,
and surfs the same waves - so you can't help but get to know
a lot of people quickly. For instance, we were having lunch at
Margaritas when a fellow walked over and introduced himself as
Bill Makepeace of the Boulder-based Lord Nelson 35 Grey Max.
So the next morning we paid a visit by dinghy to Bill and his
wife Mary Jane's boat out in the anchorage. When they bought
their boat in the Pacific Northwest, she came with a large bimini
with all kinds of stuff on it - including something like eight
solar panels and a series of black pipes that made for a great
solar water heater. "When we're out here on the hook, the
solar panels provide us with all the power we need," said
Bill. "We make ice, make water, keep our food cold, and
have all the warm water we want - and never have to turn the
engine on." How great is that?
The Makepeaces, who cruise six months and spend six months at
their home in the Colorado foothills, tell us they really don't
care where they cruise, they just love being on the water. Nonetheless,
they are yet another couple who raved about Mazatlan, a place
that doesn't have as much obvious charm as some other Mexican
coastal cities, but nonetheless seems to seduce those who visit.
"The various cruising communities in Mazatlan were so great
that we ended up spending four years there," says Bill.
"We just couldn't believe that we could be having so much
fun at our age, so it was hard to move on." And it's not
like the couple are senior citizens.
Ashore at Punta Mita that afternoon, we bumped into Dan Girdner.
He and his wife Ana are the sales managers of the soon-to-be-built
Punta Mita Beach Club and Spa, which is an 18-unit fractional
ownership luxury condo project that will take up the last vacant
spot on the beach at El Ancolte village. "My wife Ana, who
is from El Salvador and who has helped open up a lot of new hotels
for Marriott, took a trip down here and decided - like a lot
of other Americans - that this is where our future is,"
says Don. They report that the first top-floor unit sold for
the month of January to a vintner from Napa who owns a large
sailboat. That didn't come as a surprise for us, as four of the
units in an 18-unit condo project less than a quarter-mile down
the beach at Emiliano Zapata are owned by people who sailed their
boats in the last Ha-Ha. Punta Mita offers a terrific water-lovers
trifecta - great sailing, great surfing, and a place where you
can securely anchor your boat for the winter for free.
About a week after we came home, Girdner called to ask if we
knew a guy named Rich Everest, who he'd been surfing with that
afternoon. "You mean Rich Everett, the recently retired
president of West Marine Products?" Yeah, that's who he
It's great staying on land at St. Barth in the Caribbean, but
it's even better when you live there on your boat. Countless
cruisers will tell you that the same thing is true at Punta Mita.
When living on the hook you can't help but become more attuned
to nature. You're aware of the slight changes in the weather,
the size and direction of the swell, and the phases of the moon.
You're surrounded by countless different kinds of birds and fish,
and rarely an hour goes by when you don't see a couple of whales
breeching. When we were there, a three-day-old whale spent the
afternoon cruising the anchorage. If you want a little socializing,
you can either go to shore for a drink or a meal - or you can
visit with folks in the anchorage. Since Punta Mita is a crossroads
for people heading north, south, and west, there are always new
boats coming through.
One morning, for example, we noticed a new small cat in the anchorage,
so we motored over to introduce ourselves. The cat turned out
to be the Seattle-based Edel 35 Sisiutl, owned by Philip
Attneave and Patty Berk. They told us they'd first seen the unusual
cat - the salon doesn't extend all the way out to the hulls -
10 years ago in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, they were so
intrigued at their first sight of the cat that they chased her
for 15 miles to tell the owners to call if they ever wanted to
sell. It was then that they learned the cat had been sailed across
the Atlantic in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), and was
then disassembled into three pieces for shipment to the Pacific
Northwest. A year after the meeting, the owners decided they
wanted to sell, and Philip and Penny became the owners of a new
boat. Were they thrilled?
"For the first six months, we thought buying Sisiutl
was the worst decision we'd made in our lives. She needed a little
more work than we thought, and there was this and that."
But as time has gone by, we've come to appreciate what a great
boat she is. "A couple of years ago, we looked at larger
cats. When we realized that buying one of them would require
that we continue working for another 10 years, we decided to
keep this cat and go right away. And now we love her." They
must love her, because they managed to liveaboard in the Pacific
Northwest for a year without a heater! They are now headed to
Costa Rica and Panama, which means they'll need an air-conditioner
more than a heater. And they'll be heading south with confidence,
because the little cat proved to be very seaworthy in the 35-knot
winds and 25-ft seas they encountered coming down the coast of
Northern California. "She never buried a bow, and she never
We'd hardly finished talking with the folks on Sisiutl
when we noticed the Peterson 75 Zulu had arrived in the
anchorage. She's owned by Peter Smiley of Malibu, and our boats
had first crossed paths in the Caribbean, and then because both
owners like to surf, again the following year at Punta Mita.
With two rambunctious 6-year-olds preventing Smiley from doing
long passages, he has paid crew taking his boat to French Polynesia,
where the family will rejoin the boat for the South Pacific.
After Fiji, the crew will take Zulu to New Zealand for
a refit. It was fun meeting Smiley's crew, because they are from
the Med and Caribbean, and we have so many mutual friends. One
of the great things about the world of sailing is that it's so
small, and there are so few degrees of separation between friends.
Having primarily based our cat out of Paradise Marina for the
last several years, we've written frequently about Banderas Bay
and Punta Mita. As such, we'd like to assure everyone that we're
not trying to suggest that it's the only great place in Mexico.
Indeed, there is much much to recommend up at La Paz and the
Islands, Loreto and further north in the Sea of Cortez, San Carlos,
Mazatlan and the Jungle Coast, the Gold Coast down to Mazanillo,
Zihua and Acapulco. There is so, so much for cruisers to love
in Mexico, and so many great folks to meet - and that's no croc!
- latitude 38 2/28/06
The Cruiser Fund-Raiser
Steve & Susan Tolle
The Zihua Sailfest - the fun cruiser fund-raiser for deserving
students in Zihuatanejo - continued its amazing roll in early
February, as for the fifth straight year a record amount of money
- $56,400 - was raised. That's an astonishing figure when you
consider that the event was started on a lark in 2001, and to
a large extent relies on the volunteer services of a new group
of cruisers each year.
It must be noted that half of the $56,400 came in matching funds
from the Bill and Gloria Bellack Foundation of San Diego, which
has doubled funds from the outset of the event; from Bill Underwood
of Catalina, who has helped match funds for the last several
years; and this year's new 'matcher', Pete Boyce of the Northern
California-based Sabre 42 Edelweiss II.
Although it's not clear how many cruisers participated, some
550 SailFest shirts were sold, as well as 250 hats and 250 beer
coozies. A total of 99 cruising boats officially registered for
When SailFest started, the sole beneficiary of the fund-raising
was the Netza School for orphaned indigenous and other deserving
children. But with such large sums of money being raised - the
total is nearly $150,000 in five years - it was decided that
the money needed to be spread around a little more. As such,
Por Los Niños de Zihuatanejo, a Mexican non-profit corporation,
was established to administer the funds raised by SailFest-related
activities. There is a nine-member international advisory committee
that includes doctors, lawyers, educators, philanthropists, and
representatives of other nonprofit organizations such as Rotary
International. Los Niños, a U.S. tax exempt charity, was
also created to make donations tax deductible for Americans.
Lawrence Marbut is the administrator of both Por Los Niños
and Los Niños.
Although the official dates of the event were February 1-5, cruisers
couldn't wait to get started, so there was an 'unofficial kickoff'
on January 31st when the M-Docs, a band from Illinois, showed
up once again at Rick's Bar, the cruiser headquarters in Zihua,
and raised over $300.
Sailfest 2006 officially began on February 1, with seminars
running all day. No matter if they were going to be headed south,
north, or west, cruisers could ask questions of a panel of cruisers
who had already been there. Social activities kicked off Wednesday
night, with a hosted cocktail party prior to the always-popular
Live Auction. Local merchants have always been big supporters
of SailFest, and this year they donated over 440 goods and services
to be auctioned and/or raffled. With the amount of free tequila
and beer passed out, the crowd was well-lubricated when bidding
began at 8 p.m. Before it was over, auctioneer Dewey McMillan,
a resident of nearby Tronconnes, had sold goods and services
for a total of $4,800.
Thursday's activities began with an Alternative Energy Seminar
put on by John McEwan, who had flown down from the States to
instruct cruisers on the benefits of solar panels and how to
get the most out of them. This was followed by an Inland Travel
Seminar presented by a group of cruisers who had experience travelling
the interior of Mexico.
Following the seminars, the cruisers gathered at M.J. Richies
on Madera Beach for Beach Games Day. Over 150 kids from the schools
that Sailfest supports were able to join in on the fun, thanks
in part to the fact that a local transportation company donated
buses to bring the kids to the beach. Carolina, who used to be
the Activities Director at Paradise Resort and Marina in Nuevo
Vallarta, and who now works at Rick's Bar in Zihua, ran both
the local and cruiser kids through many games and social activities.
Meanwhile, volunteers fed and watered the kids before they returned
home, tired and dirty, but quite happy. It was a great opportunity
for cruisers to meet and interact with the local children.
What would Zihua SailFest be without a Flare Shoot-Off? After
dark on Thursday, the Port Captain gathered several cruiser dinghies
around his boat, and encouraged cruisers to experiment with their
expired flares. As the flares were fired, Rick Carpenter of Rick's
Bar announced over the VHF what kind of flares they were and
what the expiration dates were. It was fun and informative. Equally
important, no boats or homes were set ablaze.
Friday started off with a Medical Seminar hosted by Dr. Roy Verdery
of the Northern California-based Pearson 36 Jellybean.
Verdery invited a local doctor to join him, so it was an informative
two hours for the audience of cruisers. Noon that same day was
the start of SailFest's big sailing event, the Pursuit Race.
Thirteen boats entered the 'no complaining' event, and were rewarded
with some of the better sailing breezes of the week.
The first three boats were Elysium, an Andrews 72 - with
a half-naked crew; Alsumar, a 70-ft S&S yawl that
was built way back in 1934; and Gone Again, a J/44. First
across the starting line and last across the finish line was
John aboard the Northstar 40 ketch Pelagic, so he got
a special prize. This year's pursuit race was one of the more
serious in the history of Zihua SailFest. Although nobody complained,
some thought that Elysium should have been penalized,
as their bare-breasted crew demoralized competitors and left
the race committee cross-eyed.
Saturday's activities started with a Dinghy Poker Run and a Kid's
Poker Run. That afternoon was time for the popular Street Fair/Chili
Cook-Off and Silent Auction. Seventeen chili chefs lined the
street outside of Rick's with their creations, and got support
from all the local merchants. Kids from the Netza school and
Nuevo Creacion learned to make bracelets - and then sold over
$1,000 worth - with all the money donated to Sailfest. Other
cruisers sold cakes, and Jo of Jenny raised $100 by reading
palms. Prizes for the chili were awarded based on popular vote.
Dave and Jane Saunderson of Dream On won top honors.
Most folks headed home early in order to get ready for Sunday's
Sail Parade and ride-along day. With over 250 people to get aboard
the 50 boats, it took a great organizational effort on the part
of Roger and Karen of Meridien, Bill and Linda of Creola,
and Pat and Kerry of Terra Firma. The parade turned out
to be a spectacular show for the residents and tourists of Zihuatanejo
and Ixtapa. Once the fleet reached Ixtapa, boats were free to
sail Zihuat - and a number took advantage of the great afternoon
breeze that came up.
The Wrap-up BBQ, which featured five local restaurants offering
their most popular dishes, was well-attended by cruisers and
tourists alike. Final awards were given out and the total of
money raised was announced. In addition to the official SailFest
activities, there was plenty of great cruiser socializing and
terrific cruiser music each night at Rick's.
None of this great stuff would have happened without the gracious
participation of all the local merchants of Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa,
the amazing participation of transient cruisers on the various
committees, and, of course, Rick's Bar. Zihua SailFest is slated
for the first weekend of February next year. Don't miss it, because
you want to be part of cruiser fund-raising history!
- steve & susan tolle
2006 sailfest chairpersons
Laelia - Kennex 420
Howard and Judy Wang
Paperwork In Polynesia
We made it to New Zealand in late October - exactly one year
after we departed Ventura for the start of the Ha-Ha. We hope
the following clearing information might be of interest to Puddle
Jumpers about to set sail for the Marquesas from Mexico, because
we sure were confused when we arrived there in the spring of
'05. Of course, we've also been told that clearing procedures
in French Polynesia can change from year to year.
Upon arrival in the Marquesas, cruisers must check in at either
Hiva Oa or at Nuku Hiva. At Nuku Hiva, however, cruisers have
the option of using the Polynesia Yacht Services, which answers
on VHF 17, to do their clearing for them. That's what we did.
For those who checked in on their own, it was necessary to immediately
buy a bond equivalent to the cost of a one-way ticket back to
their home country for everybody aboard. It made no difference
if they had a visa or not.
The bonds are expensive in more ways that one. For a family of
four, the bond itself could add up to several thousand dollars.
The banks also charge a fee of about $40/person to process the
bond. And if you pay for the bond in U.S. dollars, it first has
to be exchanged to French Polynesian francs - so you take a hit
there. And when you turn the bond in, it's in francs that you
probably want changed back to dollars, so you get hit a third
Cruisers who paid for their bonds when the dollar was at an all-time
low were shocked at how little money they got back - particularly
if they redeemed the bonds just after the French Polynesian franc
had been devalued and the dollar was back on the rise. A boat
with three people told us they'd lost $850 in the process. Of
course, a devaluation of the franc presumably won't happen every
year - and one could theoretically benefit from the right fluctuations
One family got really stressed out trying to come up with bond
money because the ATM machine had a daily limit well below what
they needed. They had to go to the ATM multiple times over several
days to get what they needed. Most ATMs we used in French Polynesia
allowed only one transaction a day, and the maximum limit was
lower than our normal daily limit in the States. We later learned
that our Wells Fargo Express ATM card is also a kind of a debit
card, and that we could have taken it inside the bank and drawn
funds directly from our checking account. But you can still only
use a card once a day.
In any event, PYS at Nuku Hiva provided us with a letter guaranteeing
our repatriation to the States, so we didn't have to post a bond.
In addition, PYS got us a 90-day visa extension right away -
which meant we didn't have to settle for a 30-day visa and then
face the uncertainty of whether we could get an extension at
all. Several years ago, French Polynesian officials surprised
arriving cruisers by refusing to give them more than 30-day visas,
ruining many carefully made plans.
Last year some cruisers were able to get a 90-day visa on their
own upon arrival, while others only got 30 days. The amount of
time one got seemed to be a matter of the luck of the draw as
to whether they came up before a French gendarme, who
was unlikely to give 90 days, and a Marquesan gendarme, who
was more friendly and, in most cases, gave 90 days.
We got a French gendarme who was a royal pain in the neck.
Initially, he wouldn't give us more than a 30-day visa. This
meant we had to call the PYS agent who, in half an hour, got
our visa extended to 90 days. This was the only time we had to
deal with a gendarme until the checking out at Bora Bora.
(The official entry/clearance in French Polynesia is done
at Papeete - which PYS took care of for us - but all boats had
to informally check out of Bora Bora if they were about to depart
French Polynesia). We did stop by at the gendarmerie with
our passports on some other Marquesan Islands, but that
was more a courtesy than a requirement.
Initially, it seemed as though we were paying PYS a lot of money
for something that we could have done ourselves. However, some
of the services we got in addition to not having to pay the bond
right away made me feel as though we did all right. For example,
mail forwarding by PYS was very reliable, as we had boat parts
shipped to Papeete in care of their agent there. The shipment
had been delayed in California, but the agent made sure the package
was forwarded to us in Moorea - and even had it delivered to
our boat at the anchorage in Cook's Bay! We also had prescription
medicines shipped from the U.S. to Papeete, which inexplicably
took two months to arrive. The PYS agent forwarded the medicine
to us in Bora Bora via Tahiti Air just days before we left French
Polynesia. The medicine was something that we couldn't have done
without. We also needed a fiberglass door made for the boat to
replace the one that was washed away by a big wave somewhere
around the Tuamotus. The cost of labor in Tahiti was prohibitive
- and outrageous! But the PYS agent located a cruiser in Moorea
who did the job at a fair price. The PYS fees that we paid in
the Marquesas at check-in covered all the official paperwork
in Papeete - although I'm not sure if it included the mail forwarding.
For services other than checking in and out at Papeete - such
as getting someone to carry out repairs - an additional fee will
be charged. Always discuss it in advance with the agent to avoid
PYS's services included a separate fee for each of the following:
1) Checking in/out; 2) Bond exemption letter; 3) Visa extension;
and 4) Papers for duty-free fuel. As we recall, the fees came
to about $50 to $70/person for each of the items - although it
would be best if everyone checked the current fee schedule .
We would be remiss if we didn't point out that the PYS agents
in French Polynesia are not to be confused with 'papermen' in
Mexico. The PYS agents are professionals who genuinely try to
help. Alain, the new PYS agent in Nuku Hiva, has been a cruiser
for 30 years, so he can empathize with whatever problems you
might have. When he noticed that the surge made us reluctant
to back our catamaran up to his concrete wall to get fuel, he
- a cat owner and cat charterer - came on our boat and showed
us how easy it was. He said it was a personal favor, not part
of his professional services. We certainly appreciated the lesson
- and the fact that he cared. We subsequently met him by chance
in another anchorage, and enjoyed a fabulous picnic with him
and his wife. We now consider them friends.
We feel very fortunate to have met someone like Alain upon landfall,
as it certainly set an upbeat tone for us for the rest of the
cruise. Laurent, the PYS agent in Papeete, was never a cruiser,
but he was always willing to help.
- howard and judy 01/28/06
If you've ever cruised Mexico and fished, you've almost certainly
hooked a boobie, certainly one of the dumbest species of bird
in existence. Most cruisers reel the flailing birds in, remove
the hook, and let the bird go. But if you're celebrated French
chef Stephan Demichelis of Les Templiers restaurant in the famous
artist's town of Vence between Nice and Cannes, and you make
such a catch while on a sailing charter on Banderas Bay, you
take a professional interest.
There's bad news and good news from San Diego cruisers Bob Willmann
of the Islander 37 Viva! and Steve Cherry of the Formosa
41 ketch Witch of Endor. For much of the last five years
or so, the two have more or less cruised in company, from Central
America down to Ecuador, and last year through the Canal to Cartagena.
Last October they sailed to Isla Providencia which, despite being
located off the east coast of Nicaragua, belongs to the much
more distant Colombia. The duo arrived just in time for last
fall's bizarre weather - six weeks of westerlies instead of the
normal easterly Caribbean trades. Then Tropical Storm Beta "center-punched,"
to use Cherry's description, Providencia at the end of October.
Witch of Endor was just one of three boats to survive
in the anchorage, but the uninsured Viva! was blown up
on the rocks. Before the storm had subsided, Willmann's trusty
boat had been stripped by locals. Willmann joined Cherry on the
Witch for the trip to Guatemala's Rio Dulce, where Cherry
was informed that the Vagabond 47 ketch Mystique that
he'd been lusting after had come up for sale at the right price
in Carriacou. So now he's working to get both his boats to Jacksonville
to swap gear before he continues cruising, while Willmann is
looking for a boat to replace Viva! We'll have more details
next month - including Cherry's somewhat surprising assessment
of the residents of Isla Providencia.
Les Sutton and Diane Grant of the Northern California-based Albin
Nimbus 42 Gemini report that the Pathfinder engine rebuild
they had done in Panama didn't work out quite as well as they'd
hoped. So rather than burn a quart of oil for every 12 hours
trying to make it back to California with a dicey engine, they'll
be putting Gemini on a Dockwise Yacht Transport Ship in
Golfito, Costa Rica, for shipping to Ensenada. "The only
problem we've had so far with Dockwise is they haven't been very
responsive about changes in the scheduling. There has been delay
after delay - which wouldn't be so bad if they kept us better
Having spent a lot of time in both Panama and Costa Rica, Sutton
says there's at least as much crime in Costa Rica. "But
it's non-confrontational crime, such as the theft of dinghies
and outboards, the stealing of luggage from the racks of crowded
buses, and pickpocketing. The dinghy and outboard thieves in
Costa Rica are very clever, as they wait until there is a big
and noisy squall at night to do their dirty work. The noise of
the heavy rain cancels out any noise they might make using bolt-cutters
to snip the wire cables securing dinghies to boats. The only
solution is to lift your dinghy out of the water every night,
and to get up - like I do - to look around every time there is
After replacing Gemini's Pathfinder with a Yanmar in California,
Sutton and Grant will return to their favorite cruising grounds
in Mexico. If they can get everything done in time, they'll head
south to Mexico in June. If there are delays, they'll wait until
late October and join the Ha-Ha fleet.
Speaking of both Dockwise Yacht Transport and the Ha-Ha, we know
of two Ha-Ha vets with big boats that will be doing the Ha-Ha
again this fall, spend the winter season in Mexico, then have
Dockwise deliver their boats to Vancouver to get an early start
on the summer season in the Pacific Northwest. It's not cheap,
but it sure is an efficient way to enjoy two very different cruising
experiences in just one year.
For those who would like at least an option to having their boat
shipped by Dockwise Yacht Transport, Bill and Sue Houlihan of
San Diego report they had an excellent experience when a Yacht
Path ship delivered their new-to-them Fountaine-Pajot 38 cat
Limerick from Ft. Lauderdale to Ensenada. The couple report
that Yacht Path's regular price was the same as the discounted
price for Dockwise. We'll have a more detailed report on their
experience next month.
We've been under the impression that dinghy and outboard thefts
have been rare in Mexico, but recently we received the following
disturbing report from Anders Billred, who neglected to identify
"Just before Christmas we anchored at Chacala. It's a very
nice place, but in the middle of the night I heard the sound
of a nearby motor - and got up to check it out. There was a panga
behind our boat, but when I came on deck it moved on. About 10
minutes later, I heard screaming from Wind Dancer, the
boat next to us. The guys in the panga had stolen their
outboard-powered dinghy and were heading full speed out to sea!
The next day another cruising boat came in towing the stolen
dinghy. The outboard was gone, and the inflatable tubes had been
stabbed in four places."
If you're in Mexico - or anywhere else in the world of cruising
- we'd appreciate a report on the dinghy and outboard theft situation
in your area.
They know Jack! "The Coral Marina office in Ensenada has
been our source of Latitudes for the past couple of months,
and it was a pleasant surprise to find the article about
Jack van Ommen and his Naja 30 Fleetwood in your November
issue," report Wayne and Margot Hamilton of the Cascade
42 Makai. "We met him when we kept our Seawind
I at the Gig Harbor Marina back in the '80s, during which
time van Ommen kept Fleetwood's mahogany hull looking
like a Steinway piano. After moving to Port Angeles with our
larger sloop, we lost touch with him, so we hope to read more
about his trip across the Pacific back to Vietnam."
As of early January, van Ommen, a vet of the '82 Singlehanded
TransPac, reported that he was crossing the equator on his way
from Papua New Guinea to Palau. At the time he was having a little
trouble, having had to set his 1.5 chute in light winds because
he'd ripped his .75 during a squall. We've been trying to arrange
a phone interview with him, but haven't been able to pull it
off. Until we do, you can follow his adventures at www.cometosea.us.
"We got spoiled by Tradewinds Sailing in Richmond,"
report Gerald and Sandy Canning, formerly of Northern California.
"We moved to Florida and looked around for a sailing club
where we could take advanced courses and use boats, but there's
just nothing like Tradewinds. So we bought a new Catalina 40
MK II from the dealer in Palmetto and christened her Rum Daze.
Our maiden voyage was about 100 miles to Cape Coral. We miss
Tradewinds - but not the cool temperatures of San Francisco Bay.
We love the tropical weather and are making plans to sail to
For the second year in a row, Rick and Jen Fleischman, who charter
their Catalina 50 Bob in Alaska during the summer, have
spent the winter caretaking a resort at Warm Springs, Alaska.
It's not like the tropics up there in the winter. Between early
October and the end of January they had 80 inches of rain. And
in January, they had 45 inches of snow, including three feet
in one week. The couple claim they love it, but after looking
at the photo of Rick shoveling several feet of snow off the deck
of Bob, we think they'd have to pass a lie-detector test
before we'd believe them.
"When we arrived in Nuevo Vallarta from San Francisco at
the end of November, we rowed over to the Port Captain's office
to make sure we were properly checked in," write Mike and
Eileen Siewert of the Truckee-based Columbia 10.7 Impulse.
"In perfect English, I was told that it was not mandatory
for us to physically come to the port captain's office, and that
we could just contact him on Channel 16. However, he encouraged
us to make a habit of physically showing up at all the other
port captain offices because not all harbormasters are fluent
in English, and therefore might not understand that we were checking
in. He gave us a short form to fill out, but we didn't have to
As of February, we were told that everybody was supposed to make
a brief appearance at the port captain's office in Nuevo Vallarta.
So who knows? As has always been the case, every port captain
seems to have different requirements. In San Carlos, you can
'inform' them of your presence by calling the San Carlos Marina
or by filling out a form the marina leaves on its door. In La
Paz, you can log in at the marinas and sometimes over the radio
with the port captain. In Nuevo Vallarta, you are supposed to
stop in and see the port captain. When you check into a marina,
the staff obviously knows what the local port captain wants.
But if you're anchored out, how are you supposed to know what
to do? The Mexican government would do well to institute a consistent
policy for the entire country. Nonetheless, we haven't heard
of any problems to date, and this year's domestic clearing procedures
are certainly much less expensive and more user-friendly than
With President Fox having been in office for six years, this
July Mexico will be electing a new President. There are three
contenders with very different political programs, and experts
say it will be a very tight race and that any of the three candidates
could win. But no matter who wins, it's unlikely there will be
any immediate major changes, as no candidate is expected to win
even 40% of the vote, and any winner will face lots of opposition
"I was searching the internet looking for advice on sailing
my new-to-me Mikado 56 ketch from Florida to Seattle via the
Panama Canal when I came across your First
Timers' Guide to Mexico," writes Jeff Weiss of the
Pacific Northwest. "I had initially decided that my best
option was to enlist the help of a qualified captain and sail
my boat to Seattle, but it started looking as though the trip
was going to take several weeks longer than I had assumed. Then
I heard there were options besides going through the Panama Canal,
options that would save time and money. These options involved
having the boat trucked from the Caribbean to the Pacific, either
across Costa Rica or Mexico. Do you have any advice?"
Even if there was some way to truck your boat across Costa Rica
or Mexico - and there isn't - it still wouldn't be a very good
idea. Why? It's easy to get from Florida to the Canal because
the wind is from aft, and up to Costa Rica and even Cabo San
Lucas because the winds are light. The hard part is getting from
Cabo to the Pacific Northwest. As such, the only smart alternatives
would be to have your boat trucked from Florida to Seattle -
assuming that she's not too big, or have her delivered by ship.
For what it's worth, Doña de Mallorca - who did her first
Atlantic crossing aboard a Mikado 56, and has made a Caribbean
to California delivery - estimates the fastest you could hope
to make that trip on your Mikado's bottom is 40 days. If there
were any problems or stretches of adverse weather, it could easily
take 60 days. Good luck.
"The following is a list of boats and folks who were in
Zihuatanejo or Huatulco in early February, and were committed
Southbounders, intending to make it at least as far as El Salvador
before hurricane season," reports Terry Bingham of Secret
O' Life. "There are obviously other boats and crews
who are ahead or behind this group."
Barefoot, an Irwin 43, with Patrick and Paula Gallagher
of Honolulu; Barraveigh, a Jeanneau 43 with Robert Friedman
and crew Colin from Parts Unknown; Blue Moon, a Fantasia
35 with Barry and Stacey from San Diego; Creola, a Hylas
49 with Bill and Linda McKeever of Navassa Island; Dreamweaver
III, a Hudson 44 with Rick and Judith Turrell of New Zealand;
Hurrah, a Tayana 37 with Gary and Barbara Miller of Reedsport,
OR; Kingsway, a Cal 2-46 with Bob Ryan and Scott Rhodes
of Newport Beach; Last Resort, a Tayana 37 with Steve
and Susan Tolle of Seattle; Loon III, a Brent Swain 39
with Iain Leckie and Alyson Markert of Edmonton, Canada; Mustang
Sally, a Pro Kennex 38 cat with Rae and Sharon Simpson of
Vancouver; Secret O' Life, a Union 36 with Terry Bingham
and Tammy Woodmansee of Eagle Harbor, WA; Slipaway, an
Islander 41 with Rich Crowell and Jan Schwab of Jacksonville;
Sol Surfin', a Seawind 1000 cat with Gary Oelze and Celestine
de La Victoria of San Diego; Sumatra, a Trintella 53 with
Jerry Morgan, Libby and Audrey from San Francisco; Terra Firma,
an Island Packet 380 with Pat and Carrie Kinnison of San Diego;
Tide N Knots, a Tayana 48 with Ken and Jorie Friedkin
of San Francisco; and Victoria, a Sea Raker 50 with Jeff
and Freda Thompson of Portland.
In the fall of '02, Peter and Glenora Dougherty sailed south
to San Francisco aboard their homebuilt ketch Wanderlust V
in company with a bunch of other boats from the Canadian Bluewater
Cruising Association. Peters and others created the Bluewater
SSB Net for safety on the way down to San Francisco. It proved
so popular that Peter kept it going all the way down to Cabo
San Lucas and then up into the Sea of Cortez. Once cruising in
the Sea, it became extremely popular, with as many as 100 boats
checking in per session. As Net Control, Peter became very well
known. As cruisers moved on or returned home, the Bluewater Net
thinned out, and finally grew silent when Peter returned to Canada
to deal with heart problems. Friends regret to report that Dougherty
passed away in Canada last year following heart surgery. He'll
"We recently bought the Mariner 31 ketch Scandia Dream
in Moss Landing," writes Matt Djos, "and although
we have trailer-sailed the Southern California coast, including
the Channel Islands, Pt. Conception poses a whole new challenge.
What's the safest and easiest way to handle the beast?"
The first thing to realize is that it's not just Pt. Conception
that poses a potential problem, but Pt. Sur, which can often
be as rough if not rougher than Conception, and the whole Central
California coast. Given the often strong northwesterly winds
and seas, the biggest danger with a boat like a Mariner 31 is
probably getting pooped. From Moss Landing, you won't have any
problem harbor-hopping to Monterey or Carmel, at which point
you have to make a go/no-go decision about Sur. Monitor the weather
forecast carefully, and if it calls for peak winds of 20 knots
or less out of the northwest, just go for it. It's not uncommon
for forecasts along the Central Coast to underestimate peak winds,
so be ready to reef down, and know where the nearest shelter
is. Between San Simeon, Morro Bay, and Port San Luis, you're
never too far between safe harbors.
When we took Profligate south last year, we didn't have
more than five knots of wind from San Francisco to Pt. Arguello.
But in the 11 or so miles from Arguello to Conception, the wind
rapidly built from five knots to nearly 30 knots. Once we 'turned
the corner' at Conception, we could choose how much wind we wanted,
from 10 to 25 knots, depending on how far offshore we went. It
was a great sail, as the coastline just southeast of Conception
is undeveloped and gorgeous.
"Last fall a Cal 34 with three really great Canadians aboard
was T-boned by a panga at full speed at San Juanico, Baja,"
reports Steve Winn of the San Diego-based Challenger 32 Shangri-La.
"The Canadians told me that their boat was holed down to
just above the waterline, and that the deck had been lifted off
the hull-to-deck joint. I know they had to rebuild a bulkhead
and do extensive fiberglass work, so I gave them some wood and
cutting facilities to help out. I know that many other San Juanicans
helped out, too. If cruisers come up this way, they should say
'hello'. We monitor the VHF - which we also use to order pizza."
Every winter when we go to St. Barth, we bump into our friends
Jeff and Kitty Gardner, who are from the greater Chicago area,
and who generally spend a couple of months each winter at a rented
villa on the island. Why are they smiling in the accompanying
photo? One reason is because they'd just bought a round of drinks
for everyone at the famous Le Select Bar, including one for its
82-year-old owner Marius Stakelbough, whose continued good health
has become a personal project for the couple. They are also smiling
because they'd just made the surprise announcement that they
had bought a Robertson & Caine 47 cat to put into The Moorings
yacht management program at nearby St. Martin. The cat, christened
Latitude Found, had just arrived after a 40-day passage
from South Africa. The Gardners were pleased with the cat's much
taller 70-ft rig, and by the fact that all the cushions and stove
had been kept wrapped in plastic during the delivery.
Longtime Great Lakes sailors and racers, the Gardeners decided
they wanted to spend most of their winters ashore in the Caribbean,
but some of the time afloat, too. They made their first offer
on a 50-ft monohull they were going to own privately. All set
to hand over the money, the seller proved to be so obstreperous
that they backed away from the deal. After some more shopping,
they decided that putting a cat in The Moorings yacht management
program was the best deal for them. "We're putting up about
$120,000, but because we'll be putting all our charter income
back into payments for the boat, we'll be able to own a succession
of new boats for the rest of our lives without having to put
up another dollar for insurance, maintenance, berthing or repairs.
Its might not be the right deal for everyone because there is
a limit on how much time you can spend on your boat, but we think
it's right for us."
Only about 10 days after arriving from South Africa, the Gardener's
new cat went out on a three-week charter - at $13,000/week! The
couple plan to do some sailing on their boat in the Caribbean,
but thanks to a popular feature of the program, can trade for
time on similar boats at any of the other Moorings locations
in the world.
Interested in alternative loving? If you're a careful reader
of the Classy Classifieds, you'll remember the following
ad from the December issue: "Honest: We are an attractive,
fit, happy sailing couple seeking one fit, attractive female
for loving companionship and adventure. Sail warm coastal Mexican
waters with us December thru June aboard our truly lovely sailing
yacht. You can contact us ."
While in Mexico last month, we ran into half of the couple that
placed the ad, and asked what kind of response they'd been getting.
"Great," he said. "We've experimented with a couple
of possibilities that were fun, but still haven't found the right
one. But I can assure you that triads are the wave of the future,
because everybody gets what they're looking for in a relationship."
We're not sure how you feel about triads, but we can tell you
that the couple who placed the ad are indeed attractive, have
a nice and spacious boat, and are well travelled. Honest.
"Twenty-six-year-old singlehander Staale Jordan lost his
34-ft gaff rigged ketch Rozinante off Cape Horn in mid-February,"
reports Robert Reed of the Pacific Seafarer's Net. Jordan had
sailed the Norwegian-built gaffer from South America to Cape
Town, to Tasmania, and then Cape Horn - most of a circumnavigation
of Antarctica - before a large wave hit and broke the boat's
rudder near the Horn. Unable to steer, he had to abandoned his
boat in 30 to 45-ft seas and board a Polish cargo ship. Rozinante
suffered serious damage when her owner jumped from his boat to
the ship, so it's likely the ketch has been lost.
If you were going to cruise southeast along the coast from the
United States to the Panama Canal, you probably wouldn't have
any trouble naming the countries on the way. They are Mexico,
Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, right?
Wrong. Lots of people don't know or forget there's about 50 miles
of Honduras on the Pacific Coast between Guatemala and El Salvador.
It's tucked in there along the shores of the Gulf of Fonseca.
John and Barbara Gayford of the Portsmouth, U.K.-based Island
Packet 40 Songline offer the following report about Honduras:
"We loved all of the Gulf of Fonseca, and feel that it's
very much under-cruised. Unlike at El Salvador, the only bar
you'll encounter at San Lorenzo is the kind that sells the appropriately-named
local cerveza, Salva Vida. Located in the northeastern
corner of the gulf, San Lorenzo is reached via a well-buoyed
shipping channel up a smooth mangrove-lined estuary. It's an
invitingly easy entry after the sand bars of El Salvador, and
one that boats cruising the Pacific coast of Central America
shouldn't miss. Yet only about three cruising boats a year stop
here. The way we recorded it, you enter the buoyed channel to
Puerto Henecan at 13°12.398N; 087° 34.936W. You turn
off to port from the buoyed channel at 13°23.269N; 087°25.651W.
Then turn off to starboard towards the town at 13°24.466N;
087°26.651W. Don't anchor immediately opposite the pink Miramar
Hotel, as there is foul ground roughly mid-channel. Once your
anchor has set in the sand and mud bottom of the anchorage -
which remains nearly unruffled even if it's blowing 35 knots
- it's time to dinghy to the free and secure dinghy dock at the
Portal del Golfo restaurant and deal with the formalities. Checking
in to Honduras is easy. It's a short walk to the Immigration
office, where you pay $3 a head. Then it's a 10-minute ($2) taxi
ride to the Port Captain's office at Puerto Henecan, where he
will issue you a cruising permit - for free! Then it's time to
"San Lorenzo," the couple continue, "has most
things that cruisers are looking for - banks with ATMs, hardware
stores, diesel, gas and propane refills, cheap phone facilities
(10 cents a minute to the U.S. and U.K.), supermarkets, and a
fresh fruit and veggie market. And yes, there are bars and restaurants
to suit every budget. The daily lunch special at the Portal del
Golfo will set you back about $2. But if you try hard, cocktails
and lunch at one of the smarter establishments could be as much
as $12. When you've seen enough of San Lorenzo proper, we suggest
that you go to the northern edge of the town and hop on one of
the many buses that run along the Pan American Highway. Tegucigalpa,
the capital of Honduras, is only two hours to the north, and
the bus goes past the international airport that has daily flights
back to the States. And Nicaragua is just a couple of hours to
the east. If you want to leave your boat for a while and go travelling,
there are plenty of night watchmen available to boat-sit. Antonio
Cover, general manager of the Portal del Golfo, has a cruisers'
guide with recommendations and contacts. He will even put your
frozen stuff in his freezer if you want to shut your fridge down
while you're away. When you're ready to leave Honduras, checking
out is as easy as checking in. You pay another $3/head at the
Immigration office, and 35 Lempiras - about $1.75 in 'real'
money - to customs at the port captain's office for your international
zarpe, and you're good to go. Don't bypass Honduras!
Next month is March, which means it's time for the Nautico Festival
in Banderas Bay, with all kinds of great activities for cruisers,
wrapping up at the end of the month with the Pirates for Pupils
Spinnaker Run and the Banderas Bay Regatta. The best and most
recent listing of events can be found at www.banderasbayregatta.com/festival, but
the events of most interest to sailors will be as follows:
March 4 - Governor's Big Boat Parade, and Governor's Cup Yacht
March 3-5 - WesMex Optimist Dinghy Regatta
March 5-10 - MEXORC, an event for serious racing boats on which
cruisers often like to crew.
March 11 - Big Cat Dinghy Raft-Up. A bunch of cats, including
Profligate, will be anchored out in Nuevo Vallarta Lagoon,
and organizers will try to assemble a world record number of
dinghies around the cats. This is very serious stuff.
March 17-18 - St. Paddy's fun cruise to La Cruz and back.
March 28 - Latitude's Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run
for Charity, from Punta Mita to Paradise Marina. Don't forget
those pirate costumes.
March 30-April 2 - The 14th Annual Banderas Bay Regatta - this
is a nothing too serious cruiser regatta for cruising boats,
so don't worry about 'racing your home'. No matter if you sail
your own boat or crew with someone else, don't miss it, as it's
a great sailing and social event at an outstanding venue. We'll
see you there!
Meanwhile, don't forget to write. We and your friends want to
hear from you!