With reports this month from
Walita on cruisers' health insurance;
from Magnum on a trip to Zihua';
from Sandpiper II on crossing the
Pacific last year; from Cadence on
being hit by typhoon Millenya in the Philippines; from Lanakai
on getting a boat rub from a big whale; from Sea
Peace on getting a diesel replaced in Mazatlan; from Aquarelle on what to take across the
Pacific; and lots of Cruise Notes.
Walita - Joubert 47
Gerard and Veronique Lacroix
Health Insurance For Cruisers
One of the advantages of sailing outside the United States and
Europe is that health insurance becomes more affordable. For
example, our Medis Elite plan, administered by Global Assurance
Group, costs less than the health insurance we had when we were
employed in the U.S. - counting employer contributions, of course.
For those who worked in high payroll tax European countries -
as we did a while back - our plan would be an even greater bargain.
Global Assurance Group has several different Medis health insurance
plans to choose from, all underwritten by Generali Worldwide,
part of the Generali Group of Italy. The company has assets of
$300 billion and an S&P AA rating. So we're rather confident
that the claim money will be there when we need it.
Coverage is fine for our needs, with all the major risks covered
and subject to no more than the usual exclusions. And after six
years, the terms of our policy haven't changed much. This is
a relief in an age when many insurance policies suffer from 'exclusion
inflation' over time.
But most importantly, we have found claim processing to be relatively
easy and painless. The folks at Global Assurance Group have been
attentive to our needs and quite responsive. Their quality of
service far surpasses anything we experienced in the U.S. and
Europe. If you can scan documents, you can process claims by
email exclusively, and cruisers know that email is the only efficient
way to take care of business with distant providers in the U.S.
and elsewhere. For six years now, Global Assurance Group has
been processing the claims we send them from the Caribbean and
Europe with almost nary a hitch. And when a hitch has occurred,
they've been prompt to fix it.
If you're a cruiser and don't have health insurance, we suggest
that you go to Medishealth.com and investigate the details
for yourself. For as far as we're concerned, there is really
no excuse for going cruising these days without health insurance.
For the suspicious - and in our experience all good cruisers
are a little suspicious - we have no connection with Global or
Generali, and receive no compensation from them. It's just that
when we have tested a product for six years, and found it to
work well, we like to share it with others.
P.S. I used to race on a Hawkfarm when I went to school in the
Bay Area, and also did a couple of races down to Catalina. I
loved sailing off Conception at night with the spinnaker up.
Our custom-built 47-ft aluminum centerboard sloop is great, in
part because she has a full deck salon. No more 'coal mine' interiors
for us. We've been living aboard for six years and love it. Walita
is currently in France, but it's too cold for us, so we're headed
back to the Caribbean next year. Watch out for the Potato Patch!
- gerard & veronique
Magnum - Peterson 44
Uwe, Anne and Kara Dobers
Where Are All The Kids?
Well, we finally managed to liberate ourselves from the daily
grind and humdrum existence. It may have been later than we anticipated
due to unfinished land projects, but we sailed out under the
Golden Gate on November 6 and turned left for a change. So instead
of reading about everyone else's sailing adventures in Latitude
while soaking in the tub after a Sunday sail around the Bay,
we're now living them firsthand. It's true, however, that a few
years ago we had a taste of what was to come. We first wrote
to Latitude in late '99 after sailing to Micronesia from
Australia via Indonesia. We then moved back to San Francisco,
where we worked, bought another boat, and had the baby we hoped
for. But from the moment we returned to San Francisco we'd been
planning our current cruise.
Kara, our little girl, turned four in September. She's adapted
really well to the cruising life. Since she's happy puttering
around in the water, and her favorite pastimes are collecting
shells and scouting for dolphins, she couldn't be in a better
place. She invents imaginary friends and even fights with them,
so I don't know whether to feel sorry for her or commend her
creativity. We think four is a good age at which to embark on
a family cruise such as this, as Kara still thinks we're cool
enough to hang around with. Sure, there are times when she misses
her life in San Francisco, but as time goes by that happens less
We moved pretty quickly down the coast of California, as we wanted
to get to warmer climes as soon as we could. We're so glad that
we have a big hard dodger and cockpit cover on our boat. They
protected us from the wind and cold on the way down to Mexico,
and now that we're down here in Mexico, they protect us from
Having left from San Francisco so late in the season, we were
a little worried about the weather. We did have a little bad
stuff, but nothing too terrible. Even though we were in a hurry,
we got to stop at both Two Harbors and Avalon on Catalina, some
lovely anchorages, and even spent a lovely day hanging out at
our own 'private beach' at Bahia Santa Maria, Baja.
In recent years we've read complaints about the high prices for
marina slips in certain parts of California, but, based on our
experience, the only place we had to pay a high price was San
Diego. And after doing some calling around, we were able to find
a place for $35/night, which we think is reasonable. Marinas
in Mexico, of course, are another story. South of Ensenada, marinas
are usually part of resorts and come with hefty slip fees. As
such, we only go into marinas when it's necessary, such as to
fuel up and wash down the boat.
We didn't like Cabo at all because the anchorage was uncomfortable
and noisy - not our kind of place. But we try to maintain an
'if you don't like it, just move on', attitude, so we left.
Unfortunately, we didn't meet many boats with kids until we arrived
at Mazatlan, where Kara was immediately invited to 3-year-old
Kendall's birthday party aboard Southern Star. Parents
are as happy as the kids to find other 'kid boats', because by
working together, the parents of the two boats can take turns
giving each other breaks. And we parents need it, too. As such,
we buddy-boated with Southern Star until Punta Mita.
From Mazatlan, we moved on to Isla Isabella, which is a well-known
bird and marine preserve about 80 miles to the south, and not
to be missed. Kara got very excited because she was able to see
the baby birds at such a close distance. After the hustle and
bustle of a busy city like Mazatlan, it was refreshing to hang
out at a peaceful anchorage for a few days. We then moved on
to San Blas and anchored in nearby Matanchen Bay. The no-see-ums
were a little annoying, so we didn't spare the DEET. But San
Blas is pretty nice - in fact, it felt like our first stop at
an authentic Mexican town.
Other stops we enjoyed on the way to Z-town were Ipala and Barra
de Navidad. While anchored in the lagoon at the latter, we were
fortunate enough to meet up with Nate on Daring, who is almost
seven. We moved slowly south from there to Las Hadas, Manzanillo,
and finally on to Z-town for SailFest. Z-town is more developed
than we expected and is pretty touristy. The new thing for boats
is that they all had to have dye tablets placed in their heads,
which will make it obvious if anybody empties their holding tanks
into the bay. This is the same policy that keeps the waters at
Avalon so clear.
It sure is good to be back cruising again! We feel so lucky to
be able to meet people from all over the world, each of them
with a unique story. One of the nice things about going into
marinas is that they usually have internet access - which is
really great. Nonetheless, we'd advise everyone coming to Mexico
on a boat to get high-power antennas for their computers to extend
the range - and chances - of getting wifi while on the hook.
Like most cruisers, we've changed our plans. Initially, we had
figured on sailing as far as Ecuador, then crossing the Pacific
from there. However, it would mean that we wouldn't be able to
leave Ecuador to cross the Pacific until the following March.
So in a last-minute decision, we've decided to cross to the Marquesas
The only thing we really miss - other than a coffee from our
local Farley's Coffee Shop - is not being able to pick up a copy
of Latitude on the first of the month. Other than that,
we are enjoying our new life in our much smaller living space
with far fewer 'things'. We look forward to what the next leg
of our journey will bring.
- uwe, anne and kara 02/08/07
Folks - Three short comments. First,
it's easier to find less expensive berthing in Southern California
in the winter low season than during the busy summer and early
fall. Second, many cruising families with kids try to be part
of the Ha-Ha because there are usually 15 to 20 kids between
the ages of 1 and 15 in the fleet. Finally, there is no need
to miss out on a single issue of Latitude,
as the eBook version, complete and
in the same form as the printed version, is available online. Visit www.latitude38.com for details.
II - Yorktown 35
Tom & Amy Larson
Tonga Is A Breath Of Fresh Air
(Oakland / Sydney, Australia)
I'm inspired to write as my father-in-law just flew in here to
Sydney to visit 'Team Sandpiper' and brought our mail
- including all the Latitudes we've missed since taking
off on the Puddle Pump in '05. Reading the Mellor family's report
from Sensei on Niue brought back some great memories of
the fun times we've had together since the '05 Baja
Ha-Ha. We eventually had to go our separate ways, as they
headed south from Tonga to spend cyclone season in New Zealand,
and we chose spend the season here in Sydney in order to witness
the awesome fireworks display that brought in '07.
We want to thank Latitude so much for bringing all of
us Puddle Jump people together in Mexico, as it was a real benefit
to be able to meet up with all the other boats making the Jump,
making our crossings a lot more fun. We only had two problems
coming across. The first was when the head door decided to lock
itself shut. We had to break the hinges off to get the door open!
We also had an engine mount bolt that sheared. Somehow we were
able to tap it out and replace it while sailing. We even lifted
the engine back up to realign the shaft. It's amazing what you
can fix in a sheer panic and thinking that you might be stuck
in the doldrums with no propulsion.
Some of our favorite stops during our Pacific crossing were:
1) Rangiroa in the Tuamotus because it was remote and had the
first really clear water for snorkeling. The Marquesas doesn't
have it because those islands don't have surrounding reefs. 2)
Moorea in the Society Islands, where we snorkeled above underwater
tikis and waded among rays that swam up to us to be fed. 3) The
tiny island nation of Niue, where you have to anchor in the lee
shore of an island in the middle of nowhere, a round island with
really high cliffs so there is no protected anchorage when the
trades clock around. The Niue YC consists of nothing more than
the commodore's house, where he answers the VHF to assist visiting
yachts. The old clubhouse was taken out by a wave from a tropical
cyclone several years ago. At least they've been able to put
in some mooring buoys for visiting yachts, as anchoring can be
Number four on our list is the Vava'u Group of Tonga, where the
the 40 or so small islands are so close together that you can
daysail every day to another island and also enjoy snorkeling
in the crystal clear waters. And you sure don't want to miss
the Tongan Drag Queen Review every week at Tonga Bob's Cantina.
The local businesses also put together unforgettable Full Moon
Parties each month, where scantly dressed women force you to
drink from bowls of a mysterious liquid known as 'moon punch'.
But they even provide a dinghy valet service, so when you can't
drink any more moon punch, they get you back in your dinghy again.
Five on our list was sailing across the 'Bligh waters' in Fiji,
and spending a week at the $3 Bar at the Musket Cove Resort.
You can BBQ every night on the Musket Cove's grills, and they
not only provide all the firewood, they even wash the dishes
when you are done!
We also had a memorable time in Port Vila, Vanuatu, when Tropical
Cyclone Xavier was just 24 hours away and headed right for us.
We had a local charter boat try to force us from the mooring
buoy we rented, but we stood our ground. Fortunately, Xavier
veered away and missed us. We also loved sailing down the east
coast of Australia, arriving in Sydney to witness the largest
fireworks show in the world to welcome in the new year.
For those interested in a little more detailed 'slice of cruising
life', let us tell you about our stop at Vava'u, Tonga. Upon
arrival at Neiafu, the only town in the Vava'u Group, all boats
must pull up to the docks to check in. It sounds easy but it's
not, because the tall docks were made for big supply ships rather
than sailboats. During our first week here there were two serious
accidents at the dock. One was a cut-up foot that required many
stitches, the other was six broken ribs. Ouch! Team Sandpiper
made it without injury. We waited patiently at the dock for the
Quarantine, Immigration, and Customs folks to come down to the
boat to check us in. George, the dude from Quarantine, was a
real hoot. He made himself comfortable on several boats, eating
cookies, taking bottles of rum, and drinking beer. We made it
through the entire procedure losing only a Coke and a lemon.
After checking in, we grabbed a mooring ball, jumped in the dinghy,
and we were off into town. Tonga was a breath of fresh air after
French Polynesia, as everyone speaks English and the food is
cheap. We ate out almost every night our first week. We'd guess
that 90% of the local restaurants and businesses are run by cruisers
who saw great opportunities. For example, an American couple
sets up a sheet at one of the local hotels and projects movies
on it. We were fortunate to catch the double feature. Tonga Bob's
is the cantina that features homemade tortillas and the drag
queen shows. You haven't lived until you've seen a Tongan drag
When we arrived, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, the 85-year-old King of
Tonga, who at 444 pounds was the world's heaviest monarch, was
on his deathbed in New Zealand, and the people of his kingdom
were ready to grieve. King Tupou IV is best known in recent history
for having earned $26 mllion through a scam in which he sold
Tongan passports to anyone with money. He was then charmed by
American Jesse Bogdonoff, who was appointed the offical Court
Jester and given responsibility for investing the $26 mil the
king had raked in through the scam. Bogdonoff promptly lost all
the money in other scams, such as buying out the life insurance
policies of AIDs patients.
While having dinner at a restaurant one night, we overheard the
owner say that the crown prince was coming in to have one last
party before becoming king. The prince had eaten at her restaurant
before, so she knew to get his special chair beforehand. He was
several hours late for dinner, but we waited around anyway. I
thought he would be dressed in traditional Tonga wear, but he
wore a sports jacket. He looked just like his father. The prince's
full name is Sia'osi Taufa'ahau Manumata'ogo Tuku'aho Tupou,
and he's a mid-50s playboy who was educated at Sandhurst and
loves dabbling in everything.
On Friday nights they have friendly sailboat races in Neiafu
Harbor. So while the guys got our friend's boat Zafarsa
ready, we ladies went to my, Amy's, favorite restaurant, the
Compass Rose. There we could enjoy cocktails on the balcony while
cheering our captains on. Well, they never even got Zafarsa
off the mooring ball! They raised the sail before untying from
the ball, ran over the line, and then got the line wrapped around
the prop. The race was almost over by the time they got the line
undone and the boat moored back to the ball. It's another example
of why cruisers shouldn't race.
Another hot spot in town is The Mermaid, which is a restaurant,
the Vava'u YC, and a big cruiser hangout all in one. One night
we all signed a Puddle Jump shirt that they will hang in the
restaurant for all to see. Neiafu so caters to cruisers that
local businesses get on the daily 8:30 a.m. net with commercials
about their specials of the day.
The Vava'u Group is interesting in that you have over 50 different
anchorages to explore, all within very close proximity of each
other. It's so convenient to be able to go out for a few days,
come back into town to reprovision, then go back out again. This
is exactly what we did during most of our stay. During our first
week we explored Ofu Island and spent the night. While there,
we met a gentleman named Moses. He's looking for someone to lease
his land and open a bar, so if any of you out there are interested
. . . The next day we were off to Tapana Island. We made a reservation
for La Pallea restaurant, which we'd read rave reviews about
in a famous cooking magazine. The couple that own and run this
restaurant were cruisers who sailed here from Spain 15 years
ago and decided to settle. We had an excellent meal in this middle-of-nowhere
restaurant. Since the islands and beaches are so close around
here, it is a fantastic kayaking area. Finally!
The Vava'u part of Tonga is an awesome place and the land is
cheap, so we can see why so many people - and cruisers - are
making it their home. The Full Moon Parties might be another
reason. About 150 from 40 boats showed up at the one we attended.
After using the dinghy valet service, we went ashore where they
had a big outdoor kitchen and small stage. It was BYOB, but you
you could buy cups of ice for your drinks. At sunset there was
a Tongan BBQ. We had a lot of fun and saw a lot of people we'd
met during our crossing - including the crews of boats from as
far back as Mexico. After the sunset there were fire dancers
and kind of a Tongan rave with Moon Maidens walking around with
large punch bowls of some unknown liquid. As usual, Team Sandpiper
was one of the last crews to head back to the boat. After that,
we were off to Fiji.
At 8 a.m. on the morning we departed Tonga for Fiji, the king
finally passed away. We left just in time, as Tonga went into
100 days of mourning, during which time all the businesses were
to be closed. That would make it hard to get beer. And as it
turned out, there was a bit of violence, too, as not everyone
approves of the successor.
Our current plans are to slowly cruise back up the east coast
of Australia, participate in July's Darwin to Indonesia rally,
then welcome the new year in at Phuket, Thailand.
- amy & tom 02/08/07
Cadence - Apache 40 Cat
Typhon While on the Hard
(Monterey / Philippines)
My Apache 40 catamaran Cadence was on the hard for a refit
at Subic Bay in the Philippines when I first learned about the
approach of Typhoon Millenya. I read about it in the September
27 edition of the Manila Bulletin, the day before we got hit.
The paper said that the storm was northeast of the Visayas, heading
due west for Manila and Subic Bay.
Storm warnings had already been posted by the Philippine Meteorological
Office for the east coasts of Luzon and Leyte, and wind speeds
of 120 kph (65 knots) were being reported. However, the Joint
Typhoon Warning Center in Guam measured the winds at winds at
120 knots, with gusts to 150 knots. The major discrepancy was
widely attributed to someone in Manila having confused kilometers
per hour with knots per hour. Whatever, based on the satellite
photos it was obvious that Millenya - known elsewhere as Xangsane
- was a huge beast that covered a good bit of the Western Pacific.
It was also obvious that she was coming our way.
The next day dawned calm and overcast. We got out to the boatyard
on Subic Bay early and found it to be a proverbial hive of activity.
Bert and Johnny, the forklift guys, were busy moving anchor blocks
into place and carrying out the trash cans. The rest of the boatyard
guys hustled around to tie down loose stuff. Rain tarps were
taken down and stowed, and the two dozen boats in the yard -
sitting beam-to-beam - gradually sprouted a web of tie-down lines.
Several boatowners remarked how neat the place was starting to
look. The boats out on the floating pier had their lines doubled
and were give extra fenders.
By 10 a.m., the drizzle had become constant, with a light but
fitful wind from the north. The crew finished up and broke early
for lunch, hoping to eat before the power went out. The first
strong gusts came with moderate rain just before noon, and as
expected, the power did go out. I noticed that the barometer
was plunging, and that the lower clouds had a shredded look to
them. We retired to the shelter of the open-sided hut by the
sari sari store, and found the large karaoke machine to be an
excellent windbreak. We made ourselves comfortable amid a pile
of plastic yard furniture, and started into the first bottle
of Emperor brandy, the typhoon party drink of choice. The wind
was blowing about 20 knots, gusting to 25, still from the south.
Subic Bay is well sheltered by decent-sized ridges and hills
to the north and east, with the south and west being more open
to the bay. The karaoke hut is opposite the guard shack on the
road into the boatyard, which is oriented roughly north-south.
For most of the morning the wind and rain funneled down the road
from the north.
By 2 p.m., the winds were an honest 35 knots, with the occasional
attention-getting gust to 50. The rain came down in sheets. We
were in an awestruck mood, and variously told sea stories and
other lies, and said disparaging things about whoever wasn't
there. We also sang karaoke-inspired songs. (Even with the power
out, I figured that only stakes through hearts would end that
Sometime later, the sky began to lighten and the winds abate.
When I noticed the lull, I wiped my glasses and peeked out from
behind the karaoke machine. Up the road to the north the lower
clouds were now shredded east to west along the ridge in heavy
rain. Slowly a thought formed in my head: 'So that's what the
eye-wall of a typhoon looks like!' A scattered flock of seagulls
passed overhead in silence.
A while later Bob W., the ex-pat who is managing the construction
of several large yachts in the back of the yard, pedaled by earnestly
on his bike. He was trying to manage a large open umbrella while
he rode, and looked like a cross between Mary Poppins and the
witch in The Wizard of Oz. I told him that I hoped he
would make it home safely.
The lull lasted what seemed to be a good half hour. The yard
guys, thinking it was over, started setting up the plastic furniture
in the hut and stretching out. I noisily and intentionally made
a big deal about moving my chair to the other side of the karaoke
machine, and loudly predicted that the furniture they were setting
out would shortly be in the trees on the other side of the Argonaut
Highway. I got uncomprehending looks, but I persisted in setting
my chair deeply into the corner on the north side of Mr. Karaoke.
We cracked a new bottle of brandy while I tried to explain what
I was seeing in terms of counter-clockwise flow of low pressure
systems in the northern hemisphere and the east-to-west track
of the storm. I'm not sure that any of the boatyard workers comprehended
what I was saying before the first gust blew up the road from
the south. It was followed rather quickly by a gust that could
have been 60 knots. There was a scramble for the plastic furniture,
as it started a take-off roll. Then the rain came pelting down.
Snug and dry in my corner, I poured more brandy and took quiet
satisfaction in another display of the power of 'whiteman's magic'.
The wind continued to howl from the south for the rest of the
afternoon. After a couple hours, the waterlogged soil began to
lose its grip and large trees started coming down. These brought
more power lines with them, damaging some buildings and blocking
streets. Many streets were already flooded and otherwise impassable
in places. Despite a very close call, the boatyard had still
been spared major damage. Just before dark, we had to rally to
lasso the floating dock, as it had lost its mooring and was headed
I was wet, cold and tired, so a hot shower seemed like a priority.
I retired to my cat. It is in a situation such as this, I thought
to myself, where you see the advantages of living 'off the grid'.
Other than a few persistent drips, life onboard was as cozy as
When I drove around Olongapo the next morning, I had to take
several detours around fallen trees and power lines. I noticed
that all the Christmas decorations, which had been carefully
hung, had been blown down. Yes, Christmas season in the Philippines
starts in September and doesn't end until February.
(By the way, Christmas is even bigger than Mardi Gras in the
Philippines, although for some reason the latter is celebrated
four times a year. Octoberfest is in October, but it's nowhere
near as big as Halloween. They also have Wild West Days, which
features western clothes, horses, and girls wearing feathered
headdresses and high heels. There are a number of other big celebrations.
Nothing slows these people down! Even at the height of the storm,
there were kids playing in the streets, wading in the gutters,
and having a good time.)
The television came back on the following evening, and it was
apparent that Manila had been badly hit. That city of 1.5 million,
reeling from infrastructure catastrophes for decades, had been
clobbered by the worst storm to hit it in 50 years. Dozens of
deaths were attributed to the floods. Many of the huge billboards
that mar the cityscape fell, although that was attributed as
much to shoddy construction and illegal permitting as the storm.
The storm gained strength in the South China Sea, and a few days
later came ashore in China, where it also did significant damage.
Crews continued cleaning up, and by the third day it was difficult
to tell a major storm had just come through. The broken power
pole out by the 14th Street Gate, for example, had already been
pushed into the weeds and replaced. Even the neon halo on the
full-sized statue of the Virgin Mary, mounted high up in the
ancient nara tree by the old Cubi Point Officer's Club, was illuminated
again. However, the loud buzzing from the halo's ballast reminded
me that nothing in the tropics is meant to last for long. But
so long as anything lasts, it's enough of a reason to celebrate.
- frank 10/06/06
Frank and Readers - Sometimes we screw
things up. Although we received this report almost immediately
after the typhoon, for some reason we failed to publish it. It
also occurs to us that in his previous missives, we've been identifying
Frank Ohlinger as Frank Leon. We're as embarrassed as we are
Lanakai - Saga 43
Mike and Leilani Costello
Having a Whale of a Time
Well, here we are, first-time cruisers in Mexico. Thanks in part
to Latitude 38 being a great publication, we left our
homeport of Oxnard on November 1, and are now cruising the west
coast of Mexico.
One of the most exciting experiences we had was our whale encounter.
Shortly after dropping the hook at Cabo San Quintin in northern
Baja, we were surprised by a loud 'whooosh' not 30 feet from
our starboard bow. It was a baby gray whale about 30 feet in
length. He proceeded to rub against the hull of our boat for
about 30 minutes. It became a little unnerving when he bumped
the rudder a few times. He eventually left, but not without a
good coat of our recently applied blue bottom paint.
Life is good. The fishing was great down the Baja coast, we just
need more surf.
- miguel y lupita 02/03/07
Sea Peace - Passport 40
Don and Donna Case
Replacing Our Diesel in Mexico
Last November's Baja Ha-Ha
turned out to be the shakedown cruise for our recently-purchased
Passport 40 Sea Peace. We'd lived aboard since November
of '05, but didn't really sail or motor her much before the start
of the trip because we were fitting her out with new equipment.
We had problems with the old Isuzu diesel all the way down to
the Ha-Ha start in San Diego, but Don was able to fix them. But
once we got 60 miles north of Cabo, the water pump went and the
head gasket blew. We sailed to Cabo Falso, then lashed the dinghy
to the side of the boat to use as a tug to get us into the anchorage
for the night. The anchorage was full of Ha-Ha boats, but we
found a spot and were able to anchor safely.
After that incident, we'd decided that we needed a new diesel.
Don wanted a Yanmar, and we found a flyer in the Ha-Ha literature
from sponsor Total Yacht Works in Mazatlan, a Yanmar dealer.
We contacted owner Bob Buchanan by phone from Cabo, and he ordered a
new Yanmar. Buchanan wanted a deposit, but I was a little
wary about sending thousands to a stranger in Mexico. That's
when we bumped into the Grand Poobah in a restaurant in Cabo,
and he told us that he had a lot of faith in Buchanan.
We appreciate the Poobah's advice, because he was right. Bob
and his helper Rafael did an outstanding job of constructing
new fiberglass engine mounts and enlarging the exhaust to accommodate
the new Yanmar. The engine fit perfectly and runs great. Not
only were Bob and Rafael great mechanics, they were very pleasant
folks to have around during the 41 days we spent in Marina Mazatlan.
We can highly recommend Bob and Total Yacht Works, which will
be opening a shop at the new haulout facility in Mazatlan later
We're now on our way to SailFest in Zihua, after which we'll
head south to explore Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama
on our way to Ecuador for the summer and fall. Thanks for Latitude,
as we've not only enjoyed reading it over the years, but have
clipped many articles with suggestions for our trip.
- donna & don 01/27/07
Donna & Don - Thanks for the kind
words, we're glad the engine replacement went so well. And trust
us, you didn't want to be making the trip you'd planned to Ecuador
with an unreliable engine.
We'd also like to remind you that just because you're out cruising
doesn't mean you can't get Latitude
anymore. All the articles and ads are there just like they are
in the print version; the only difference is that the photos
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Aquarelle - MT-42
Ken and Diane Kay
Tips Based on Our First Year
Bula! from Fiji: We've covered 9,000 miles since leaving
the United States to do the '05 Baja
Ha-Ha and the '06 Puddle Jump, and have averaged catching
a fish every 4,500 miles.
With so many new cruisers about to take off, we've put together
some tips based on what we've seen, experienced or discussed
with other cruisers. We wished we'd had this information before
we left. They are just our opinions, of course, and some are
specific to the South Pacific and therefore not pertinent to
1) Your watermaker is too small. Yes it is! I don't care if you
can survive on four gallons of water a day, once you have a watermaker,
you begin to take more and longer showers. Carefully plan on
how much water output you'll need - then double or triple it!
2) Honda (or similar) portable gas generators are wonderful,
even if you already have a diesel genset. The Honda makes a great
backup, as we often hear tales of main generators failing. Besides,
you may need it to run your extra large watermaker.
3) If you leave the continent, be prepared for 220-volt electricity,
because that's what the rest of the world seems to use. If you
do end up in a marina - and most of us do for some amount of
time - the only way to get juice is to be prepared with a transformer
or a complete 220-volt system. By the way, 110-volt replacements
are also impossible to find, so be prepared.
4) Bring spare 110-volt plugs, receptacles and extension cords,
as you'll not be able to buy them in the Pacific. And make sure
none of your outlets face up in such a way that they could collect
5) Yamaha seems to be the most popular outboard brand in the
South Pacific - and there were a lot of them in Mexico, too.
That means parts and repairs are more readily available than
with other brands. If we're not mistaken, Yamaha also makes a
quiet gas generator, too.
6) Know how to sail your boat. You shouldn't have to have someone
tow you into an anchorage. Be able to sail on and off your anchor.
Engines do fail, and always at a bad time. (Is there a good time?)
Practice heaving to. This isn't a technique that has to be used
much in Southern California, but we've heard from a number of
sailors who hove to for a day or two to wait out bad weather,
and thought it was the best response.
7) Rechargeable AAA and AA batteries are great. Our charger works
off of 12 volts and is always on. I was able to purchase Nickel
Metal Hydride batteries on Ebay for the same price as alkaline
batteries, and they have lasted nearly two years. Rechargeable
C and D batteries are also good, but we do without them.
8) Bring lots of spares. If you have too many thingamajigs, someone
else might trade you for a watchamacallit you might need.
9) Bring U.S. postage stamps. Someone in the cruising community
is always flying home, and he/she won't mind dropping stamped
mail in the box at the airport. If the stamp isn't something
exotic from an island in the Pacific, it's more likely to reach
10) If you're going to the South Pacific, collect good recipes
for canned corned beef. If you can't figure out why, you shouldn't
11) Ice cubes and frozen foods are wonderful, but most cruisers
aren't able to carry enough of either. If you don't have a big
and reliable freezer, see Tip #10.
12) Brings jugs for water - even if you have a good watermaker.
Cruisers with big watermakers are guaranteed to make friends
quickly and easily if they announce they have an extra 20 gallons
of water to give away, and jugs to transport it in.
13) Install and know how to use SSB, marine and/or ham radio.
Maintaining contact with home is wonderful, and the variety of
weather products available is pleasantly staggering.
14) Keep a few oil lanterns on board. Not only do they supply
light, but also heat. We've been amazed at how often we have
gotten cold on our trip across the South Pacific. We also use
lanterns to dry out parts of the boat that have gotten wet. (Of
course, we're sure your boat never leaks and that you will always
close all ports and hatches when it rains.) We like liquid paraffin
for lanterns because it doesn't have a smell. But bring plenty,
as it's not available in many places.
15) Bring lots of small-diameter line, as you'll be surprised
at how much you'll need.
16) Is your inverter big enough for your needs? For emergencies,
bring a few small inverters.
17) LED lights are available online for a fraction of what they
sell for in marine stores. You may not be able to use them to
replace all the lights on your boat, but when you can, you'll
save a lot of electricity. We use amber lights when making night
passages. They provide plenty of light but don't hurt our night
18) Carry lots of wind-resistant lighters. Small disposable lighters
are available everywhere, but there are plenty of instances when
only wind-resistant and long barbecue lighters will do.
19) Don't forget the butane soldering iron. They work very well
and can often be used as a mini-torch for doing things like melting
the ends of lines before whipping them.
20) Similarly, don't forget the resealable plastic bags, such
as Zip-Locs. Off-name brand bags in other countries are inferior.
Even two-gallon size Zip-Locs come in handy.
21) Heavy-duty trash bags are great - especially as you may have
to store trash for a long time. Contractor bags, designed for
construction trash, are particularly strong and long lasting.
For smaller bags, trash compactor bags are also quite strong,
although a little pricey.
We hope these tips help.
- ken & diane 11/07/06
"To say we are excited to be back in our own ocean, the
Pacific, would be an understatement," write Buddy and Ruth
Ellison of Sausalito who, after following the '96 Baja Ha-Ha, have
sailed almost all the way around the world aboard their Hans
Christian 48 Annapurna. "We only have about 1,000
miles to go until we arrive in Acapulco, at which point we will
cross our outbound track and finish our circumnavigation. We
should be there by April or May. The other reason to stop in
Acapulco is that we visited the Wal-Mart there 10 years ago and
bought some cushions for the cockpit. They are threadbare now,
so we need to replace them. While we wouldn't keep going for
a second time around, ours has been an incredible adventure to
which nothing can compare. We've covered 45,000 miles in the
10 years, and visited close to 40 countries. But it's not over
yet, as we still have to travel through Central America and Mexico."
We'll have more details on the Ellison's most recent adventures
in the March issue.
"We're still in Panama City, on the Pacific side of Panama,
on a mooring ball at the Balboa YC," report Frank and Shirley
Nitte of the San Diego-based Freeport 36 Windsong. "We've
been enjoying ourselves immensely here, but are about to head
out to the Perlas Islands. After that, we'll be heading to the
Darien jungle to visit the indigenous people who live on the
shores of the jungle rivers. In preparation, we painted Windsong's
bottom and increased the size of her engine exhaust hose - which
hopefully will make the engine feel better in the 88-degree water.
Our trip to the Perlas and the Darien will be a test of all of
Windsong's systems, including all our new equipment -
radar, chartplotter, dinghy and outboard."
What's the difference between the jungles of Costa Rica and the
Darien jungle? For one thing, some Costa Rican jungles are visited
by as many as 700 tourists a day, while the Darien jungle, which
is five times the size of Los Angeles, only gets visited by about
700 visitors a year. And the Darien is much more wild and dangerous.
Scott Doggett laid it out in a terrific article he wrote for
the Los Angeles Times on September 21, 2004:
"I've come to retrace the old gold route through one of
the most formidable slices of jungle in the hemisphere, and witness
the forces gutting this once-forbidden realm. With each step,
blisters ignite and mortal ambitions falter. No surprise. The
Darien jungle has never taken kindly to drop-ins. In 1699, 900
Scottish settlers rushed headlong into the jungle. Indians or
malaria killed most within months. In 1854, an American expedition
began hacking through the tangle of deadly snakes and Gordian
roots in search of a canal route. They wound up lost and so hungry
they ate their dead. Even now, the 60-mile-wide Darien Gap is
a chaos of deadly snakes, caimans, crocs, narco traffickers,
mercenaries, guerrillas and bandits. Despite these deterrents,
the Darien has long been coveted, first by Spanish conquistadors
driven by gold lust, and now by loggers and settlers who threaten
to destroy one of the Americas' richest wildernesses. The conflict
pits politicians and poachers against the indigenous Embera,
Kuna and Wounaan who make the Darien their home, and environmentalists
and eco-entrepreneurs who see forest green as the new gold, luring
future flocks of adventure travelers and bird-watchers - there
are almost as many species of birds in the Darien as there are
in the entire U.S. and Canada. The key threat at the moment is
Panama's accelerating effort to lay asphalt and improve a stretch
of road that dead-ends at this jungle. The Darien Gap is the
only break in the 16,000-mile Pan-American Highway, a string
of roads proposed by the United States in 1923 to whisk American
goods south, and endorsed by the South American nations through
which it now passes."
"We've just made a direct passage from Ecuador to Mexico,
and believe that other cruisers should be alerted to the fact
that it's not a good one," report Roy and Winona Rombough
of the Tacoma-based Westerly 36 Saucy Lady. "The
problem is that you cross an 'alley' of no wind that is 1,000
miles long and 450 miles wide. As such, it took us 30 days to
get to Zihuatanejo from Ecuador, and we arrived with just six
gallons of fuel left. We were actually headed to Puerto Vallarta,
but by the time we got close to the coast it was blowing 20+
knots with large seas and we couldn't make it." Thanks for
the warning. That area of the Pacific is notorious for light
"We just received a couple of Latitudes from Doug
Duane, and it was great to get updates on friends and acquaintances
that we haven't heard from in many years, " write Michel
(Shelley) and Jane DeRidder of the New Zealand-based 40-footer
Magic Dragon. "As for us, Michel says he can't wait
for global warming, as it's been too cold here in northern New
Zealand. There have been other weird climatological events, too.
Huge icebergs have broken off from glaciers in Antarctica, for
example, and are drifting as far north as coastal Otago on the
South Island before breaking up and melting. And monster jellyfish
the size of dining room tables have been stranding themselves
on the Great Barrier Island. Once again we elected not to head
offshore to the tropics this winter, being content to stay around
the Bay of Islands, cozy in our carapace, with the diesel heater
keeping us warm and dry during what turned out to be a frosty
winter. We reckon our way of life must be life-enhancing, but
we've finally gotten around to putting Magic Dragon on
the market. It's not because we want to sell her, but rather
that after 42 years of living aboard we perhaps need to begin
to act our age. Trouble is, this way of life will be difficult
to replace with something as satisfying. Fortunately, we're in
no rush to sell, as we haven't found anywhere else we'd like
to hang our hats. Some people may remember Doug Duane, who built
Hinano behind his house in the Bay Area, then had to have
it lifted over his house to get it to the water. He finally sold
Hinano a couple of months ago to a farmer on the South
Island, a farmer who has since sailed her over the top of New
Zealand and down the west coast."
For readers who may not be familiar with the DeRidders, they
started cruising in the late '50s on a 24-footer when there were
only about seven other people out cruising. Having gotten some
real world experience, they designed their own boat, which turned
out to be a light-displacement, flush deck, 40-ft twin-keeler.
When launched in '63, she was decades ahead of her time. Most
unusually, she was designed around the ability to carry a Honda
90 Trail motorcycle! Despite dire warnings, in 1966, long before
the new road was built, the two of them rode this motorcycle
all the way from Acapulco to Mexico City. Not only were they
not killed, they only had to drive into the ditch a couple of
times to avoid oncoming traffic. If you're interested in buying
Magic Dragon, you can .
"Conditions at the entrance channel to the San Blas Estuary
have changed considerably over the last two months," reports
Captain Norm Goldie from San Blas. "Ian and Lynn of the
English yacht Cloud Nine attempted to enter at low tide
yesterday without my help, and went aground. Fortunately, there
was no damage done to their boat. Visitors who want my assistance
in guiding them into the estuary can call me on VHF 22 and I'll
be happy to help them, something that I've been doing for over
41 years. I don't charge for this or any other services that
I have provide mariners. Nonetheless, we continue to collect
clothing for the needy people of this area, so if any visitors
care to contribute, it would be greatly appreciated." Goldie
also reports that the Singlar marina and boatyard planned for
San Blas are coming along slowly.
"I thought Latitude readers might be interested in
the accompanying photo of a large whale, presumably a blue, impaled
on the bow of a containership," writes Skip Allan of the
Capitola-based Wylie 28 Wildflower. "The ship had
been southbound from Seattle to Oakland when the bridge watch
noticed the engine rpms had dropped from 100 to 90, the speed
had dropped from 22 to 20 knots, and the ship had developed an
abnormal wake pattern. Shortly after daybreak the whale was spotted
stuck just above the bow bulb. The ship backed down to clear
the unfortunate whale, then continued on its way."
Say 'ah'. If anyone is looking for a dentist in La Paz, Rene
and Dorie Pittsey of the San Francisco-based Morning Star
recommend Dra. Martha Lorenia Estrada Talamantes, whose office
is upstairs at 222 Altamirano, between Nicolas Bravo and Ocampo
Streets. She can also be reached at (612) 125-5304. "Lorenia
has a very clean and nicely-decorated office, and seems to have
the latest in dental equipment. She has a good bedside manner,
listens carefully and really tries to help with your dental problems.
She's fluent in English, having gone to high school in Marin
"In January's Changes you
quoted Dave Kane, Russ Novak, and Chris Mellor as saying they
were the only '05 Baja Ha-Ha
skippers to make it to New Zealand," write Doug and Jo Leavitt
of the San Francisco-based Jeanneau 43 Jenny, currently
in Z-town. "But that's not so. We had the pleasure of meeting
Ken and Diane Kay of the Boeme, Texas-based ME-42 Aquarelle
in San Diego before the Ha-Ha, then did the Ha-Ha with them.
They also made it to New Zealand. In fact, here's an update from
"We just left Westhaven Marina in Auckland this morning
and are out on the loose again. Aquarelle had a few repairs
done, but she's now ready to tackle the tough stuff. We're joining
a three-month rally beginning in January that will circumnavigate
both the North and South Islands, and in April we plan to sail
to Sydney. After that, we've decided to take the 'longcut' back
to California, and therefore plan to meander through Southeast
Asia, tackle the Red Sea, then go the Mediterranean on our way
to leaving our boat in Croatia for a few months. We feel blessed
that we have enjoyed such a spectacular year of cruising. We've
covered over 10,000 miles since we left Los Angeles, and have
loved every minute of it. We hope our good fortune continues."
People never fail to amaze us. We met the Kays while on the hook
at Chacala after the Ha-Ha in '05. In fact, we took the photo
of them with their inflatable surfboard that appears with their
Changes this month. They are nice folks, but we didn't
peg them for the type that would be interested in going all the
way to New Zealand - let alone put up with rough stuff to make
it all the way around the world. It just proves that we should
never underestimate our readers.
"I think it was John Lennon who said that life is what happens
when you were planning to do something else," writes John
Haste of the San Diego-based Perry 52 cat Little Wing,
currently in Panama. "So after a sudden change of plans
on Saturday, we've decided to sail to Puerto Vallarta to, among
other things, participate in the Banderas Bay Regatta. I hope
Profligate is planning to attend and that we can arrange
a suitable bet."
"You don't really have the quote right, and we don't believe
John Lennon is the one who coined the phrase, but who cares?
Profligate will be at both the Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker
Run and the Banderas Bay Regatta, and we'll be more than willing
to 'make things interesting'. We encourage everyone else who
loves not-too-serious cruiser racing and a good time to participate
in both the Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run, but especially
the Banderas Bay Regatta. The former will be held on March 21,
with the latter on March 22-25. You won't find a place with a
better venue and better mellow racing conditions. We've sailed
in the regatta for something like seven out of the last eight
years, and wouldn't miss it. For complete info on the Banderas
Bay Regatta, visit www.banderasbayregatta.com.
During the 190-mile motorsail from Las Hadas (Manzanillo) to
Zihua for the Zihua SailFest, Bill Finkelstein and Mary Mack
of the Santa Rosa-based Valiant 50 Raptor Dance saw plenty
of dophins, a few whales and a big group of turtles. "We
didn't immediately recognize the turtles because initially they
looked like big floating coconuts or markers for long-lines.
There are some areas of that coast that must be good for long-line
fishing, however, as we saw a dozen or so long-lines on our passage
south and about the same number on our way back north. Each long-line
can be two miles or more in length, and every 30 or 40 feet along
the main line is a 10 to 20-ft leader with bait. The main line
is usually supported by empty 2-liter soda bottles that serve
as floats. Typically, the whole assembly will have a black flag
at each end with a panga in attendance. If we can see the long-line
in time, and if we can see the end flag, we try to go around
them. Most of the time the main line sinks a little, and so long
as our motor is off or the transmission is in neutral, we can
carefully pass over a section by heading between two soda bottle
floats. Unfortunately, we found some lines floating just under
the surface. Coming north from Zihua, Raptor Dance managed
to pass over one of these long-lines, but the three hand-lines
that we were dragging caught the main line. That made it necessary
to go into neutral and pull in our lines - which pulled Raptor
Dance backward to the long-line. Then we had to unhook our
200-lb test lines. We decided not to fish for the rest of the
trip. Zihua looked a lot different from the early '80s when I
was there last, and although it's much busier and gets cruise
ships three times a week, it's still charming. In addition to
Nathaniel operating his valet service for dinghies, an enterprising
fellow named Ishmael would bring water, fuel, drink and whatever
else you wanted to your boat. He'd also pick up and deliver your
laundry. With 100 boats in the anchorage, both these guys and
their wives were kept very busy.
We love to hear that the turtles are doing well. The truth is,
from Baja to mainland Mexico to the parts of the Caribbean we
were in recently, we'd never seen so many turtles - and big ones,
too. In fact, while snorkeling across Columbie Bay at St. Barth,
we were approached by a large dark object, which turned out to
be a big turtle with two yellow fish swimming directly beneath
it. We swam no more than five feet away from this guy for a couple
of minutes, and it didn't bother him at all. A few minutes later
we came across another big turtle, who didn't have any problem
with our swimming next to him either. What a terrific experience.
In an awful segue, a few minutes later we found ourselves next
to Ti Kanot, which looked to be about a 40-ft catamaran.
We immediately recognized her as the cat that was custom built
in Trinidad for Chris Doyle, the author of the Cruising Guide
to the Windward Islands and the Cruising Guide to the
Leeward Islands. We'd seen photos of the cat before and,
if the truth be told, were kind of lukewarm about it. But having
now been aboard, our opinion has changed 180 degrees. Ti Kanot
turns out to be a really cool cat, with all kinds of innovative
features that you'd just have to see to appreciate. She might
not be the right design or layout for group charters in the Caribbean,
but for Doyle, who usually singlehands, and/or up to four adults,
she'd be terrific. Although Ti Kanot is quite light and
is powered by an outboard on a 'sled', Doyle says she's extremely
strong. For example, his leeward shroud doesn't go slack when
sailing to weather. Being light, she's also very fast. Doyle,
who for many years cruised a monohull he described as having
been "the original Caribbean charter boat", says the
cat rejuvenated his interest in sailing. He spends six months
a year updating his cruising guides, the other six months in
Vermont, and loves the arrangement. When pushed, he admitted
that Dominica is one of his favorite islands in the Caribbean,
as it's still very unspoiled. Nonetheless, he insists that all
the islands have something to recommend them.
"Last June my girlfriend
Sara wrote Latitude 38 a letter titled Money Seems To
Be The Only Obstacle about how we were trying to figure out how
we could afford to go cruising," writes Will Sitch of the
San Rafael-based Gulfstar 37 Wanderlust. "By the
time the letter was printed, we'd bought a Gulfstar 37 and were
refitting her. We worked every weekend from May until October,
and there's nothing we didn't examine, repair, or replace. By
the way everyone, check your steering cables and rigging, as
ours were ticking time-bombs. It was a lot of work and money,
and I'm not sure how we managed, but I know it wouldn't have
been possible without the support of our great friends and wonderful
family. We gave notice at our jobs, sold everything, and left
our San Rafael slip in October for the start of the Baja
Ha-Ha in San Diego. The Ha-Ha was a riot! Our best stories
are when whales surfaced just a few feet from our starboard beam
one moonlit evening; when our rope-to-chain splice failed at
Bahia Santa Maria and we were woken at 4 a.m. by neighbors warning
that we were drifting toward the rocks; and, of course, the Here
to Eternity Kissing in the Surf contest. After the Ha-Ha we spent
a month traveling from Cabo to the islands off La Paz to Puerto
Vallarta. These are places where our snorkeling gear really saw
some use. In addition, Thanksgiving in La Paz was awesome, Espiritu
Santo is paradise on earth, and we broke 10 knots surfing down
a huge wave while crossing the Sea of Cortez. December found
us on Banderas Bay, where we parked the boat and spent three
glorious weeks with friends and family. Then, on the 18th, we
got married on the beach at Bucerias. It was the best wedding
either of us have ever been to."
"Now we're asking for more of your advice," continues
Sitch. "How do we stay out here cruising? Money is short.
In fact, we're pretty much broke. We have jobs waiting for us
if we want them, but to tell you the truth, we really don't want
to go back yet. We'd love to make a bid for Hawaii, but we have
no watermaker, no liferaft and no SSB radio. Should we cruise
until May and park our boat for hurricane season? Should
we piss off our employers and go into debt to further outfit
the boat in order to sail to Hawaii? Should we turn around in
Zihua and sprint back up the coast?"
It's just our opinion, but we think you have three good options
- and going into debt at this time to continue on to Hawaii is
not one of them for several reasons, but primarily because Hawaii
is not such a great place to cruise. Option One is to sail up
into the Sea of Cortez and spend a summer exploring and diving
there. You've got to love the heat, but you can - no kidding
- get by on well under $500 a month. Option Two is to put your
boat in a marina in Mexico from May to October while you return
home to your jobs in order to rebuild the cruising kitty. Option
Three is to sail your boat back to San Rafael, where you can
a) resume your jobs; b) live aboard to save money; and c) have
her handy in order to install additional cruising gear. Then
do another Ha-Ha and more cruising starting in the fall. We think
the latter two options are probably the best, as if you work
hard and live thrifty, by next October you will probably have
been able to set aside enough money to further fit out your boat
and economically cruise for another couple of years. Or, if you
like the 'one foot in both worlds' way of life that is popular
with so many cruisers, you could continue cruising for six months
and working for six months for pretty much as long as you want.
Check out Singlar's now operational Travel-Lift at Puerto Escondido.
But don't sign up for dry storage until you read the rates -
such as a reported $1,248/month for a 40-footer. With ridiculous
prices like that - what's next, $15 soft drinks? - you don't
have to worry that they'll run out of space.
Australian John Hayward of Interlude reports that he sat
through a court case in Brisbane late last year that, for the
first time, made him ashamed to be an Australian. He explains
that Bram and Magda, last name and boat name unknown, an elderly
Dutch couple enjoying a retirement cruise around the world, made
the usual radio contact with the officials as they approached
Brisbane after a rough, 13-day voyage from New Zealand. Aussie
Customs officials took their details and directed them to the
Quarantine Dock for yachts. Everything seemed to be routine.
On arrival at the dock, the couple passed the Quarantine inspection
and had their passports and visas ready for the Customs. However
the Customs officers greeted them by reading Bram his rights!
Asked what he had committed, Bram was told that in June of last
year Australia had introduced new laws making it compulsory for
aircraft and shipping to give between four and 10 days notice
of their impending arrival."
Hayward notes that while such a law might be appropriate for
commercial shipping and airlines as an anti-terrorist measure,
it's ludicrous for it to apply to vessels such as cruising yachts
with two or three people aboard. "In the 30 countries we
visited during our recent circumnavigation, we never had to give
more than the usual VHF contact as we approached a recognized
port of entry. And even if a yacht skipper had been aware of
this unusual Australian requirement, in most cases the skipper
would not be able to give notice as required by fax, telephone
or email during the four to 10-day period prior to arrival because:
1) The voyage takes an indeterminate time due to the weather
conditions, and from most countries this would be more than 10
days, and 2) Many cruising yachts don't have fax, telephone or
Nonetheless, Bram was treated like a criminal, and had to appear
in court to face charges that he had failed to give notice of
the arrival of his yacht and that he had failed to give notice
of the arrival of his crew. The maximum penalty he faced was
$6,600, so his wife had to hire a barrister. Taking the advice
of a young barrister, Bram pleaded guilty and hoped for a warning
and a small fine. But the magistrate found Bram guilty of the
charges as laid. Saying that he was being very lenient because
Bram was elderly and because English isn't his first language,
the obviously clueless magistrate fined the old man $2,000, plus
court costs of $1,000, plus the barrister's fees!
What makes the whole thing so pathetic is that Bram and Magda
inadvertently proved that Australia's hard-core anti-terrorist
program is a complete and utter failure. Indeed, is there anyone
fool enough - other than members of Congress - to believe that
the borders of any country - particularly such as the United
States and Australia, which have borders like Swiss cheese -
can be sealed to prevent the entry of terrorists with things
like backpack nuclear devices?
Having now reached the midst of the winter cruising season, we
want to remind everyone that we'd love to hear from you and publish
some of your photos. As for us, it's time to head back to Mexico
once again. We hope to see you there.