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March 2008

Missing the pictures? See the March 2008 eBook!

 With reports this month from Jim Williams and Deborah Stern on testing the Caribbean cruising waters; from Irie on cruising with big dogs on a cat; from Damiana on a season-ending arm injury suffered while going overboard near Belize; from Distant Drum on getting hit by lightning in Mexico; from Caprice on having un-retired to cruise the South Pacific; from Harmony on a young Dutch couple cruising the Pacific Coast; from Hawkeye on troubling restrictions on cruising boats in Tonga and Fiji; and lots of Cruise Notes.

Jim Williams and Deborah Stern
Testing the Cruising Waters
Eastern Caribbean
(Encinal YC)

Jim Williams and Deborah Stern of the Encinal YC love to sail, as evidenced by their owning the Cal 39 Spindrift and the Islander 28 Dog Days, both of which are kept at Marina Village in Alameda. With both nearing retirement, they've been thinking about cruising as a lifestyle, but didn't want to make the full commitment until they'd tested the waters, if you will. As such, they arranged to charter a Cyclades 43.3 for six weeks in the British Virgins, and a Sunsail 39.3 in St. Martin for another three weeks.

When they bumped into us during Carnival afternoon in St. Barth on Tuesday, February 5, they'd just sailed over from St. Martin and were starting their three-week charter. Suggesting they'd had a reasonable time to discover if they liked the lifestyle, we asked them if they knew what they were going to do.

"Buy a cruising boat!" Jim said without hesitation. "Maybe something like a Passport 40." Deborah was clearly in agreement with that concept, but noted that she was interested in keeping his Cal 39. "I love that boat," she said.

The couple were quick to note the difference between chartering in the British Virgins, which are almost completely protected from the open ocean, and the St. Martin - St. Barth area where, except for the lees of the island, mariners are exposed to the full force of the trades.

"In the British Virgins, we took it easy and it was very relaxing," said Deborah. "I worked on a novel, while Jim read novels. The sailing wasn't difficult between our favorite destinations, such as Cane Garden Bay, Jost van Dyke, Peter Island and Anegada."

"But as soon as we picked up our boat at St. Martin and headed out of Oyster Pond into the trades on our way to St. Barth," Williams said, picking up the story, "we were into the real stuff, with 25-knot winds on the nose and 10-ft seas. Chartering in the British Virgins is what it would be like if it had been set up and the weather controlled by Disney, while down here it's the real thing."

As the couple are about to head off to Statia, St. Kitts and Nevis, they're about to get more of the "real thing."

We were pleased to hear that the two were very happy with both charter companies, particularly B.V.I. Yacht Charters in the British Virgins — which manages our cat 'ti Profligate — and Sunsail in St. Martin. Because they chartered for multiple weeks, Jim and Deborah report they were able to get nice discounts for testing the waters.

— latitude/rs 02/07/08

Irie — Tobago 35 Cat
Mark and Liesbet Collaert
Cruising With Dogs On A Cat

We did it! We are out here finally living the real cruising life! When people imagine beautiful exotic settings with turquoise water and white sandy beaches, they're talking about what we're seeing from our boat right now in the Bahamas.

An eternity ago — more than half a year, I think — I wrote you a quick email to say that we decided to try to get another sailboat and make another attempt at cruising. You'll remember that we gave up cruising about a day after we left San Francisco aboard our Freeport 36 F/Our Choice in 2005 when it quickly became evident that it wouldn't be a good life for our dogs Kali and Darwin. Our immediately abandoning the cruising life lead to a series of letters in Latitude. After quickly selling the boat, we did a long road trip to Central America, which was great, but it wasn't cruising on a boat like Mark really wanted to do.

So it was that six months ago I reported we — the dogs and us — were going to spend two months driving around in our Toyota Tacoma and living in a tent, looking for a suitable catamaran. If we couldn't find one in that period of time, we could still move to Belize and live on land.

As a reminder, Mark, who is in his mid-30s, grew up in New England before moving to California, his favorite state. After living the American Dream for a decade, he decided it really wasn't for him. He'd since become a wise and adventurous man, with lots of travel experiences under his belt. He hates ignorance, traffic, and Johnnies — the latter being macho wannabes who try to attract attention with loud music and by revving their engines. He loves to focus on one thing — such as working on our cat — and sailing is his biggest passion.

As for me, I'm from Belgium and still speak English with a little accent. My name is pronounced 'Leez-bett', but it's hard for Americans to get it, so they call me all kinds of things — including L.B. for Lazy Butt. My biggest passions are travelling and trying new things. That's how I ended up with Mark, and how we ended up on a boat. I adore our dogs Kali and Darwin, and like all animals — except mosquitoes, the only form of life that I'll purposefully kill. There are only a few things that I hate, such as people who are rude, cruel, hypocrites or helpless. And sometimes I hate Mark's ability and desire to focus on just one thing.

Fortunately, catamarans proved to be a little more affordable than a few years ago, and we ended up buying Big Trouble, a '98 Fountaine-Pajot Tobago 35. Born in France, she spent her childhood in the Caribbean before coming to Maryland. Big Trouble had been neglected by her last owner, who let her sit idle for almost five years. We can tell she didn't like her name, because as soon as we got her we removed the 'Big', and she began behaving better. But it wasn't until we also removed 'Trouble' from her transom that her problems really began to disappear.

We've rechristened her Irie, which means 'it's all good' or 'it's all right' in Creole. We hope our lives — and yours — will be irie. Plus, we figured our dogs would be more irie with a cat than a monohull. Anyway, as soon as Irie got her new name, she became a healthy and happy girl again. She's got a lot of new, improved and repaired body parts, and is now happily serving as our home, transportation, and recreation.
We moved aboard Irie the day we officially became owners last June. That was followed by four months — one very hot and humid one out of the water, and three hot and humid ones in the water — of repairs and preparations. Naturally, this took way more time than we expected, so we didn't cruise north last summer.

Last October we left Redneckville, Maryland, via the Chesapeake Bay — who thought San Francisco Bay was a challenge? — dodging crab pots and sitting out bad weather. We took the Intracoastal Waterway down to Florida, which turned out to be a good way for all of us to get used to the boat and for me to brush up on navigation skills. You gotta start somewhere! We also hoped to work out the kinks of the cat, and were partly successful with that.

Homey Stuart, Florida, was a great place for the last chores and big provisioning — and for a good amount of socializing. As long as you didn’t look down at the gross black water, mind the ferocious wakes from passing powerboats, or be bothered by the never-ending Northerlies, the mooring field was just fine. We left Irie in Stuart while the four of us drove up to Boston to go through the final step in my getting a green card — the interview!

There was a weather window about a week ago, so we pounded into the seas for 12 hours while crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. Checking in there was no biggie — except for the interesting fact that the officials wanted to see my green card.

Anyway, our exploration of the islands has started and, believe me, some of the places are as beautiful as described in the cruising guides. It's been a bit tricky getting into some anchorages, and we've already gotten stuck twice, but we're happy as long as the weather doesn't turn nasty on us.

Oh yeah, the dogs are having a ball as well — at least most of the time. We're so happy about that!

— liesbet 02/05/08

Damiana — Manta 42 Cat
Marlene and Roy Verdery
Injury Ends Season Early

Big changes for our cruising season!

It began on December 30 when a large front with gale force winds blew into the atolls off Belize where we were cruising at the time. We headed inside the reef to find a sheltered anchorage. After consulting one of the cruiser guides, we decided on what we thought was a safe place. There was good protection from the wind, but the current was fierce. As we were having lunch one afternoon, we dragged and almost ended up in the surrounding mangroves.

So when the wind dropped to only 20 knots on January 3, we decided to move to Cay Caulker, another "safe anchorage" a little further north. But after consulting the Rauscher guide, we decided that Long Cay — described as "a safe, calm, lagoon" — sounded even better. True, there is a bar with just 5.5 feet of water across the entrance, but we figured it would be no problem since we only draw 3.5 feet. But no sooner were we inside the lagoon than we were dead aground in two feet of water over mud!

Try as we might, we were unable to get out by ourselves. We revved our motors. We put up the jib. But neither of those things helped at all. Roy lowered the dinghy to scout out a channel of some sort — no luck.  We consulted the tide tables and learned that waiting for a high tide would give us only a few inches, not another two feet.  So we put in a call to “anyone at Cay Caulker” to please respond.

Someone came on the radio and, when he heard our plight, told us about a landing craft that could tow anything, including barges.  We contacted the company and, within an hour or so, the craft arrived and started towing us up to Cay Caulker.  While underway we started our motors to see if the churning mud had disabled them. One didn’t work at all. The other did have cooling water, so we knew we’d have power to anchor once we were free of the tow boat.

As we approached the anchorage, we once again started both motors, hoping that both would be fine. I checked the starboard one, but there was no water coming out. Roy bent over the rail to check the port motor, but when Damiana suddenly lurched, he lost his footing and was flipped over the side!

Then it got worse! In a desperate attempt to stay on the boat, Roy held onto the rail with his left hand for just long enough to injure his arm. He eventually let go but, because I had witnessed the incident, I was able to grab the microphone en route to the port side to radio the tow boat: "Stop!!! My husband has gone overboard!"

In the few seconds it took me to reach the port side, Roy was a few boatlengths behind Damiana. Since our arrival was the afternoon 'show' at the anchorage, all the other cruisers were monitoring 16. So when I got on that channel and said, "Anyone with a dinghy, please go rescue my husband — Damiana and I are still attached to the tow boat." A few seconds later, three dinghies were racing toward us. Roy was trying to swim to our cat while on his back and using his one good arm. Roy and I were assisted by a multinational rescue force that included a Brit, a German, and an American. Before long, we had the Damiana safely anchored.

As Roy was getting back on the boat, he told me that his left arm was injured. At the time, it wasn't clear how badly it was injured.

Because of his injury, I spent the next several days servicing the diesels by following his instructions. But Roy's arm hurt so much that he eventually called George, our orthopedic surgeon friend — who had been one of our crew on Jellybean for the ’04 Ha-Ha.  After coaching Roy through some movements, George told Roy that he had most likely torn his bicep muscle from the radius, and that if he wanted to regain full use of his arm, he'd need surgery within 7-10 days of the injury occurring. George made arrangements for Roy to see a hand surgeon as soon as he could get to Sacramento.

On January 7, we motored to Ambergris Cay, which is a few hours north of Cay Caulker. Ambergris had two things we needed — a marina and an airport. Cruisers from two boats went up to Ambergris the same morning and, knowing that docking a cat such as ours singlehanded could be tough because of the wind angle and surge, offered to help. Before trying to dock, we anchored near the marina to go over the procedure, and four other people from two other cruising boats came over to help. I took the helm and, with one person at each corner of the cat, had no difficulty getting safely into her berth, the wind and other obstacles notwithstanding.

The next day Roy got on an airplane while I stayed on the boat. After several stops, he arrived in Sacramento before midnight. A couple of days later he had the surgery, got checked out the next day, and returned to me and Damiana in Belize by the 12th.

Lucky for us, Len and Norma, sailing friends who did the '04 Ha-Ha with Hangover, had planned to join us for that very week and arrived an hour before Roy. So with Roy's arm heavily bandaged in a splint and sling, leaving him unable to help with physical jobs, we set off for Guatemala's Rio Dulce to leave Damiana for the second summer in a row. We spent a few days getting the boat ready for a long summer in the marina, before Len and Norma flew home.

Unfortunately, Roy will need nine months of rehab, and the doctor told him not to sail for at least that long.

There are several lessons to be learned by this experience:

1) Although Roy is a good swimmer, he should have been wearing a PFD. No matter how good a swimmer a person is, if they're injured — or unconscious — when they go overboard, they could drown before they get rescued. We consider ourselves to be very lucky that we were in an anchorage with others close by, and that so many cruisers came to help us.

2) Roy suffered a typical 'Weekend Warrior' injury that might have been prevented if he'd been doing muscle strengthening exercises on a regular basis. All of us middle-age and older folks need to take heed.

3) We were able to learn of the importance of Roy having surgery quickly because we had a sat phone — they are very good to have aboard — and a medical contact in the U.S.

4) The ideal window of repair for injuries such as Roy's is two weeks — reinforcing the value of having the resources to ensure early evacuation.  Early evacuation is the current standard of care for serious injuries.

If all goes according to plan, we’ll return to Damiana in October and pick up where we left off!

­— marlene 02/08/08

Distant Drum — Beneteau Idylle 51
Harry Hazzard
Hit By Lightning
(San Diego)

We've found there are many opinions regarding lightning in general, and a nearly
endless number of theories on how to protect your boat from being hit. The recommendations include everything from installing lightning arrestors to lining your boat bottom with copper, bonding everything to the keel, and running battery cables from the shrouds into the ocean during lightning storms. Oh yeah, some folks also recommend that you put as much of your electrical stuff as possible into your oven during a lightning storm.

We don't know how to prevent our boat from getting hit by lightning, but we know what happened when it struck our mast on November 30 of last year while 50 miles NNW of San Blas off the coast of mainland Mexico. We also know what has happened since with regard to our insurance coverage and getting replacement parts and equipment into Mexico. It's a pretty positive report.

We were hit by a freak storm cell at 11:35 p.m. It wasn't such a surprise because we could both 'feel' it and 'smell' it. Suddenly, there was a brilliant flash of light and a deafening bang. When we looked at the top of the mast, we could see that some objects were white hot — including the VHF antenna, which took on the shape of a pretzel. Distant Drum then made a sudden hard turn to starboard. The autopilot had clearly failed.

Doing a quick check, we discovered that all the navigation instruments — including the chart plotters and GPS systems — had gone blank. The radios and radar were out, too. After shutting down the hydraulics on the autopilot system and getting the boat back under control, we looked for serious damage to the boat. Fortunately, we'd suffered no holes in the hull or fried thru-hulls, so we weren't taking on water. And there was no fire. But there didn't seem to be a pattern to the damage. For instance, the water and fuel monitoring systems were out, as were all the navigation lights. On the other hand, there was a long list of things that continued to work fine: various pumps, the engine, the engine instrumentation, the solar panels, and the wind turbine.

It took us a good 15 minutes to get over the shock and mentally pull ourselves together, at which point we had to determine what tools we could navigate with. We did have a handheld GPS, but it was telling us that we were travelling at speeds our boat couldn't possibly achieve and that we were 13 feet underwater. It didn't instill us with confidence. We also had two magnetic compasses, but we weren't sure about them either. We could use our courtesy flags flying from the spreaders as our wind speed and direction indicators, our watches for time, and our engine tachometer to help judge our speed under power.

Getting out the paper charts, we got to work. We knew our then-current position and, based on the wind howling through the rigging and the wind blowing horizontally through the cockpit, we assumed the wind was blowing at least 40 knots. By default, we set a magnetic compass course to San Blas, which was the closest port, and hoped for the best. After 90 minutes, the sky cleared. We then found the North Star, and gained confidence from the fact it was where our compasses indicated it should be.

By 8:30 the next morning, we were two miles north of the breakwater at San Blas, and thus felt that we could brag about our navigation. Once the anchor was dropped, we made a more thorough assessment of the damage. We were most astonished by what the lightning had and had not damaged. Without going into a lot of technical stuff, you could say that the lightning had a mind of its own. It seemed to go wherever it wanted to and do in what it wanted to do in. Although the incident put a dent into our plan of making it to Zihua by Christmas, we knew that we'd been lucky because it could have been much worse.

But it was also when the real work began, as we had a broken boat in a foreign country where there is a very limited supply of marine products and gear. We needed to report the incident and list of damage to our insurance company, round up all the parts and pieces back in the States, send some of our gear back to manufacturers for testing and repair, and then get the stuff imported into Mexico.

On December 1, I contacted my broker, Scott Jarvie, president of Overseas Insurance in San Diego, and informed him of the situation. Within a matter of a few hours, he had somebody contact us to make sure that our boat was in good enough condition to make it to a larger port — Puerto Vallarta — where we could begin the repair process. We left San Blas on the 3rd, arrived in Puerto Vallarta on the 4th, and on the 8th were visited by Russell Dennis, a surveyor and claims adjustor for Markel Insurance. We presented him with a list of all the damage we could find at the time, and were authorized by him to remove the equipment and send it back to the States.

Since we'd gotten a Mexican Temporary Import Permit for Distant Drum a few years before, we wanted to comply with all the rules to make sure we didn't have to pay duty bringing the repaired or replacement stuff back into the country. Part of the importation process is to create an inventory list of all the equipment and gear on the boat so that the authorities know what you're starting with. So off we went to the airport to see Mexican Customs and present them with a copy of the boat's TIP, a brief letter explaining what had happened, and the inventory of what was being removed, along with serial numbers. We were surprised to learn that they didn't want to be bothered with our list! They told us that we wouldn't have any problems taking the gear out of Mexico or bringing it back in — as long as we had our boat's TIP papers. So we jumped on a plane and landed in San Diego on December 10th.

We began rounding up replacement gear — much of it less than a year old — on the 11th. The next day I received a "partial payment" check from Markel Insurance. By the 21st, we had all the parts and pieces in hand. Two of the manufacturers, Will Ham Autopilots and Garmin, worked miracles in getting our stuff turned around so quickly.
Since I spent the holidays with family and friends, I didn't cross the border into Mexico with all the gear until January 2, arriving in Puerto Vallarta on January 3. I passed through two Customs checkpoints on my way to Puerto Vallarta, but at only one was asked to present my papers. After they reviewed my papers, a cursory inspection was performed, and I was allowed to continue on. It hasn't always been the case, but the process worked for me!

As of January 23, all the repair work was completed. All of the documentation, invoices and other information has been sent off to Markel Insurance Company. To date Markel and their representatives have done an outstanding job. I'll keep you informed of the final resolution.

— harry 02/05/08

Caprice — Seawind 1160
Dan & Carol Seifers
Un-Retired Life
(Northern California)

Retired life was easy-going and good for us, and we were enjoying sailing our Gemini 105 catamaran in the Bay and Delta. But in September of '06 a seemingly innocent incident was to change our lives. While cruising home from the Delta with fellow members of the Richmond YC, we tied up at the Rio Vista Marina, where we saw a Seawind 1000 catamaran with a sign in the window. The sign reported on the years of adventure for the owners of the boat, starting with taking delivery in Australia and sailing over to New Zealand, up to the islands of Polynesia, Hawaii, and so forth.

Wham — all of a sudden Carol started thinking about the possibility of buying a new catamaran to tour the South Pacific! In fact, she became obsessed with the idea. After returning home, she spent hours researching catamarans on the internet, subscribed to Multihull magazine, and shoved articles about sailing in the South Pacific under my nose. There was no stopping her, for she became hooked on buying a Seawind 1160 built in Australia.

A few months later, about Christmas of '06, I was bit by the bug, too. Yes, we'd been perfectly happy with our Gemini, but the idea of getting a new cat — with all the latest toys, of course — and visiting Down Under seemed very appealing. A friend loaned me his books on New Zealand and Australia, and the more I read, the more I became enthralled with the idea. How fun it would be to buy a boat in Australia and sail her home! I even bought Jimmy Cornell’s book on world cruising routes to research the feasibility of such a plan. Sailing from Australia to the U.S. seemed like going backwards, but it also seemed doable. So we ordered Caprice, which fittingly enough means 'sudden inspiration'.

In May of last year, we took an exploratory trip to the boat show in San Diego to see a sistership, and then made a longer trip to Brisbane, Australia, to confirm our decision. It wasn't until November of last year — it had sort of been like waiting for the birth of a child — that we flew to Sydney to meet Caprice.

After a month of outfitting her with just about every imaginable toy — radar, AIS, watermaker, and so forth — we were ready to tackle the Tasman Sea with Vaughn, our son, and his friend David Rasmussen, Jr. The two became invaluable crewmembers and a real pleasure to have aboard. Having years of racing experience, they handled all situations — and we did have a few — with calm and precision.

We're told that the passage from Australia to New Zealand is one of the four worst ocean crossings in the world — although we don't know what the other three are. Anyway, we made it from Sydney to Opua, New Zealand in 9 days and 6 hours, having had to beat most of the way. We had NNE winds from 0 to 40 knots, and seas from to 12 feet. We're happy to report that Caprice handled all conditions — including the rough seas — very well. But when we spotted a lightning storm behind us, Vaughn turned on both engines and put the pedal to the metal — while Carol hugged the EPIRB for the rest of the night.

In our nearly 10 days of travel, we saw only five other boats, and no airline contrails. So there's not a lot of traffic between Australia and New Zealand.

My favorite bit of gear? Our Spectra watermaker. It was wonderful to be able to take a hot shower when it was blowing 15 to 25 knots — something I couldn't imagine doing in a monohull.

We're now in the quaint village of Opua, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, where the marine facilities are excellent and the local market has most of the provisions we need. The local Opua Cruising Club is a lot like the Richmond YC, a family kind of club, where the prices are reasonable and you cook your own steaks. We joined the other en route cruisers for Christmas Day dinner, where everyone brought something and helped out. While at the marina, we also met Mill Valley's Commodore and Nancy Tompkins on their Mill Valley-based Wylie 38+ Flashgirl. What a small world.

Jenny, our daughter-in-law, and grandchildren Michaela and Wesley, flew over to join us. It was a fun, non-traditional Christmas, filled with sunshine, sailing, playing with our new Hookah (snooba), diving for scallops, gathering mussels, hiking, and watching the children play on the beach.

At the end of January, we will start our trip down the coast toward Auckland, the Bay of Plenty and Marlborough Sound. We’ll just play around until the end of April, at which time we'll depart for the South Pacific with Ted Stuart and Tom Hansen as crew.

— dan 01/28/07

Harmony — O'Day 30
Joost and Joyce
Going Dutch Down The Baja
(Utrecht, The Netherlands)

After years of sailing in latitude 52 — the North Sea off the Netherlands — we decided that it was time for a warmer adventure. So jumped on the internet and started dreaming of sailing in places where there is more sunshine. There were lots of places, but it was the Baja Ha-Ha website that got our interest.

Then it was time to look for a boat. Sending emails to brokers in San Diego was easy enough, but getting replies was harder. We know what they were thinking, 'Here are some more dreamers, and these guys are even from Holland!" The exceptions were Paul Dixon and Kirk Gardner at Cruising World Pacific, who answered all our questions about foreigners wanting to buy a boat in the States and finding a boat within our budget.

In our first day in San Diego, we'd visited their office and were inspecting the first boat by noon. We had to look at a lot of boats, but by August 20th we were the proud owners of an O'Day 30. A shakedown cruise to L.A. and Catalina made clear what gear needed replacing or improving. A big 'thank you' to all the marine stores in the San Diego and Newport areas, as the staffs were all very helpful and knowledgeable. They were even patient with my accent.

Then there was the decision about whether or not to do the Ha-Ha. Ultimately we decided against it because we like to hug the coast and looked forward to visiting every little dusty fishing village — and they all had something special to offer. As a result, we took a month rather than 10 days to get to Cabo. Mag Bay was one of our favorite places, and we spent five days there, where a spring tide made it even more exceptional than normal.

We then headed into the Sea of Cortez and, besides anchoring at the most beautiful spots, made lots of new friends with locals and other yachties. The Sea of Cortez is really worth returning to! We got as far north as Loreto, at which point we crossed the Sea to Topolobampo, where we left the boat to visit the Copper Canyon. For us, who come from a country that is barely above sea level — and in some places below sea level — it was a unique experience heading up into the tall mountains and then down into the canyon. And the train ride on El Chepe is very fun!

Once back on the boat, we made all the stops on the way south, spending Christmas in La Cruz and New Years in Puerto Vallarta. We loved the warmer weather, with lots of sun all day and swimming just a jump off the back of the boat away. As we write this, we're at anchor at La India in the Bay of Huatulco. We're all by ourselves, with not another boat in sight. We find it a great reward for all the energy we invested in this project.

While it's true that we've had some bad days and rolly anchorages, our overall sentiment is that we want to keep doing this! Sure, we miss our family and friends back home, and there's some work to be done to get our bank accounts back in dark ink. Nonetheless, we're headed to Costa Rica, where we will put the boat up for sale. The moral of the story? If two Dutch kids can do it, anybody can! Thanks to Latitude for the inspiration.

— joost and joyce 02/10/08

Hawkeye — Sirena 38
John Kelly and Linda Keigher
Trouble In Tonga and Fiji
(San Francisco)

All is not well in the tropical paradises of Fiji and Tonga, as both countries have now instituted severe restrictions on the amount of time that a foreign vessel can remain in the country.

According to a 1988 regulation, yachts visiting Tonga are limited to a 12-month stay. But this rule has never been enforced, and some boats have been here for 17 years. In December, however, several boats that had been here for more than 12 months received letters from the Neiafu, Vava’u, Customs Office, stating they must either leave the country within a week or be prepared to pay import tax and duty in the amount of 30% to 40% of the value of the boat. Naturally, this caused great consternation, not least of which because the tropical cyclone season officially started on November 1.

As a result of many complaints, the Chief of Customs from Nuku’alofa, the capital, visited Neiafu and invited the yachties to a meeting. The meeting was well attended, and the gentleman assured us that nobody was going to be kicked out of the country during cyclone season, which ends in April. Phew!

During a subsequent meeting on January 18, the gentleman from Nuku’alofa stated that a new regulation was in the process of being issued. This regulation restricts visiting yachts to four months, with a possible extension to 12 months. Meanwhile, if the current yacht owners affected would agree to sign a letter stating the name of their boat, the owner, and date of arrival in Tonga, he would sign on behalf of the government a statement allowing the yachts to remain in Tonga "for the natural life of the vessel!" The only proviso was that the owners would provide the government a security interest in the yacht, which would be exercised only in the event of the sale of the yacht while in Tongan waters. In that case, tax and duty would be assessed.

This is a good outcome for the boats already in Tonga, but not so good for newcomers who would like to keep their boats here through cyclone season. Furthermore, visiting yachts will now require an agent to check in and out. It was suggested, to no effect, that the Tongan Government would do well to follow the example of Mexico, which allows a yacht to remain in the country for up to 10 years upon payment of a small fee for a Temporary Import Permit.

Even more restrictive is the edict that's been handed down by the 'interim' military government of Fiji. (The democratically elected government was removed from office during a military coup in December of '06, the fourth such coup in 20 years.) The military government announced that visiting yachts may not stay more than three months in the country, although an extension of three months may be granted upon application to the government.

The restrictions in Fiji are being appealed, but those of us here are not optimistic about the outcome since the Minister of Finance recently made a public announcement that the new restrictions were partly the result of illegal behavior by visiting yachts — including drug-dealing, prostitution, and smuggling that has cost the country "millions of dollars in lost revenue"! This gratuitous slur on the yachting community did not sit well with the yachts affected, and Linda and I are seriously reconsidering our plans to visit Fiji in the future.

Both of these countries are economically depressed, particularly Fiji, where the European Union, New Zealand and Australian governments have all imposed economic sanctions following the coup. These sanctions have greatly reduced the number of tourists visiting the islands. Since both countries are desperate for tourist dollars, it is a mystery why they would choose to restrict visiting yachts in this manner. We cruisers are also tourists and bring much needed revenue to these and other countries that we visit.

— john and linda 02/05/08

Cruise Notes:

Conapesca, the Mexican sportfishing agency, has announced new licensing policies for ’08 that will be welcomed by cruisers. In the past, boats — as well as their dinghies, and technically even liferafts equipped with fish hooks — needed to have expensive licenses, as did individuals. That’s no longer true. As of January, only individuals will need licenses — although everyone on a boat must have one. The licenses are now $25 a week, $37 a month, or $48 a year. If you’re a couple on a boat, the approximately $100 a year is big savings over the previous cost. You can get your license by going to

Here are some of the highlights of the Mexican fishing regulations: One rod per person. No mollusks or crustaceans can be taken. There’s a limit of 10 fish per day, with no more than five of one species. However, there is a limit of one per day of the following group: marlin, sailfish, swordfish and shark. When it comes to dorado, roosterfish, shad and tarpon, the limit is two per day. The limit for underwater fishing is five per day, but you must use a rubberband or spring harpoon, and only use it while skindiving. It’s illegal to collect shell and coral. It’s also illegal to fish within a quarter of a mile of swimmer.

Tripp Martin of Puerto Amistad YC in Caraquez, has some good news for cruisers from the country named after the equator. “For the past four months, the Puerto Amistad YC, the Puerto Lucia YC, the Salinas YC, the Guayaquil YC, the Ecuadorian Yachting Association, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Navy have all been working together to make the clearing process less onerous for cruisers. The new rules allow the four yacht clubs to serve as ship’s agents for private boats, which has greatly simplified the check-in and zarpe process. The new rules allow yacht captains to send a simple email to the Navy upon arrival. Once acknowledged and entered into the Navy's database, the boat will be received in the capitania. Cruisers will not have to hire an agent in these places, and there is no requirement to check in while underway — as had been erroneously reported."

Martin also reports that the government is actively working on other cruiser-related issues — namely, how long a boat can stay in the country and the availability of fuel. "It’s been widely reported that the Ecuadorian government has become hostile to cruisers, and implied that they don’t want us here. The reality is far different. What’s going on is that the new government has tasked various officials to clean up their act, and they’ve responded with some knee-jerk reactions that have been poorly implemented. Slowly we’re trying to get them corrected, but we’re working with extremely bureaucratic organizations. Cruisers have basically been unintended collateral damage in their efforts to get rid of fuel smuggling, regain control of their borders, and so forth. I hope that everyone who has been considering coming to Ecuador takes into account the rules changes that have been made, and comes down to take advantage of all the wonderful things Ecuador has to offer."

Some of those wonderful things are that it doesn't get hammered by lightning and drenched by humidity and rain in the summer, as Central America does, and the cost of living is extremely low. Those are but some of the reasons it had rapidly become a cruiser favorite until the bureaucracy bungled in.

Aussies are some of the friendliest people in the world — but the same can't be said for their hard-assed courts. In June of '06, Australia passed new laws making it compulsory for all aircraft and vessels to give between four and 10 days notice — by fax, email or telephone — of their impending arrival in Aussie waters. As you might have guessed, it's another one of those ridiculously ineffective Homeland Security measures. The law has been roundly criticized by the Australian and international sailing communities for not taking into account the vagaries of cruising schedules caused by weather, and the fact that not all boats have effective long distance communication capabilities. This didn't stop the Aussie courts from ultimately fining a elderly Dutch cruising couple $2,000 dollars because they hadn't heard of the law and, after a rough 13-day passage from New Zealand, had only radioed the port of Brisbane upon their approach.

In February of last year, a Bundaberg Magistrates Court convicted American yachtie James Manzari of two violations of the Customs Act, for also failing to provide proper notice of an intended arrival. Manzari and his wife Dorothy had arrived at Bundaberg after a passage from New Caledonia, claiming that the Aussie Consulate in Noumea had given them the wrong information and had not told them of the current rules. A Bundaberg Court found him guilty. Manzari appealed. Last month an Australian District Court not only upheld the conviction, but levied a fine of $4,000 U.S., plus $15,000 in court costs. The court reportedly thought long and hard about having Manzari drawn and quartered, but ultimately decided in favor of leniency.

As announced previously, Latitude is reviving Sea of Cortez Sailing Week some 25 years after founding it. Our goal is that it be smaller — 30 boats or less — but have more sailing than in the past. The event will begin appropriately enough on April Fool's Day in La Paz, head out to the islands, and conclude on the 6th, probably with a race back to La Paz. We're hoping the event will serve as a feeder to the Club Cruceros' La Paz Bay Fest on April 11, 12 and 13, an event that features more social activities and less sailing.

Boats and crews that have already indicated they are rarin' to do some 'Ha-Ha style' racing in the Sea are Capricorn Cat, Hughes 45 cat, Wayne Hendryx and Carol Baggerly, Brisbane; Moontide, Lagoon 470, Bill Lilly and gals, Newport Beach; Legato, Catana 52, Jim Forquer, Newport Beach; Catatude, Lagoon 42, Tom Wurfl and Helen Downs, San Diego; Dolce Vita, Marquesas 56, Mai Dolch, Belvedere; Talion, Gulfstar 50, Patsy Verhoeven, Portland; Auspice, Schumacher 40, Jim Coggan, San Francisco; Kalewa, Custom 52 catamaran, Kevin Millet, Hawaii; Footloose, Gulfstar 42, Ward Latimer and Diane Brown, Sea of Cortez; Bombay, Pearson 34, Oscar Berven, San Carlos, Mexico; Isis, SC 52, Brendan and Baba Busch, Kailua, Hawaii; and Profligate, Surfin’ 63 cat, Doña de Mallorca, Punta Mita. Pete and Sue Wolcott of the nearly new Hawaii-based M&M 52 cat Kiapa, who couldn't make the Ha-Ha because of health issues with parents, say they hope they can make it, and Scott and Cindy Stolnitz of the Marina del Rey-based Beach House report they may swing by too. As such, it could be one of the biggest gatherings of actively cruised cats ever — at least in Mexico. There's still some room in the event, so if you want to participate — monohull or multihull — and you enjoy sailing and smiling, . After all, it could be a hoot. And since Brendan and Barbara of Isis intend to reprise their Ha-Ha Sonny and Cher identities, costumes will be in order.

Early in February, a report went out on SSB radio nets that Siesta Cay, a 50-ft Piver trimaran from Los Angeles, had been abandoned by owner Jack McKinney and her crew due to heavy weather and storm damage 80 miles west of the Gulf of Papagayo. The trimaran's crew was safely taken aboard a container ship that had been vectored to them by the Coast Guard. McKinney has offered a reward for a return of the tri, which was outfitted with many solar panels.

Later in the month we got an update from "Roy of Fun Patrol, ex-Nighthawk," who reported that he'd received an update from "a crewmember named Fred." Fred reported that a Coast Guard C-130 had spotted Siesta Cay drifting about 250 miles off the coast of Costa Rica. I wasn't able to reach McKinney, because he's apparently driving to Honduras to mount a salvage effort. Roy says the owner had bought Siesta Cay for about $25,000, then put another $80,000 into her. Fred, who ultimately crewed on her, had done much of the work. So when the engine died in Central American, Fred took time off from his job at a diesel shop in Wilmington, Virginia, to drive down to Costa Rica with a new Perkins sitting in the passenger seat! Fred said nobody from customs hassled him in any of the countries he passed through.

While we're not sure on the details because of the secondhand reports, we hope McKinney can recover his tri.

"The cruising guides and general scuttlebutt about cruising is, in our opinion, inaccurate and so out-of-date that it's not even relevant most of the time," report Frank and Janice Balmer of the Tacoma-based Gulfstar 50 Freewind. The vets of the '03 Ha-Ha are currently cruising India's Andaman Islands along with Jack and Daphne Garrett of the Clovis-based Cascade 36 Resolute, who also did the '03 Ha-Ha. We don't know exactly what the Balmers mean, so we're eager to get their report, which they plan to write once they reach the Red Sea. But next month we'll have their report from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Don't you just hate crew who sleep while they're on watch? Maui, Heather Corsaro's cat aboard David Addleman's Monterey-based Cal 36 Eupsychia, falls asleep all the time while on watch during passages, but Corsaro has a difficult time meting out proper punishment. "In addition to eating calamari and bird watching at Isla Isabella, Maui's a good navigator, but best of all, she's my personal fur bikini."

"Today I was planning on moving on from Cape Town, South Africa," reports singlehander Jeanne Socrates of the Najad 36 Nereida, "but suddenly remembered my log impeller had been, despite a diver's efforts a week ago, stuck on the way around here from Simon's Town. The impeller was really encrusted with wormy growth inside, so pulling and cleaning it was my morning job. Then I decided to go up the mast to attach seine twine between the mast steps and shrouds to prevent the halyards from catching. It got interesting up there since the wind blows strong off Table Mountain every afternoon, gusting to 30 knots. Since Nereida is berthed beam to the wind, she would often suddenly heel over while I was aloft! But with two good jobs done, I'm almost ready for my forthcoming ocean crossing. Tonight's job is to reconnect a cable into my autopilot remote control — which has been misbehaving for some time. Upon investigation, I found one wire disconnected and another very loose. Hopefully, it will be an easy after-dinner fix. I should reach Luderitz, Namibia, by next weekend. After a few days there, I'll head into the south Atlantic bound for St. Helena. Everyone I speak to tells me that the island where Napolean was ultimately exiled is very beautiful and I shouldn't pass close by without stopping."

Although Socrates is originally from Britain, she has many dear friends in Northern California because she was a last-minute entry in the '06 Singlehanded TransPac. She's quite an inspiration for, after her husband passed away, she decided to continue their dream of cruising by doing a solo circumnavigation.

"It's been quite a winter of cruising in Mexico," report John and Gilly Foy of the Alameda-based Catalina 42 Destiny. "After having a fantastic time on the '07 Ha-Ha, we visited Los Frailes, Mazatlan, Chacala, and Punta Mita before reaching Puerto Vallarta, where we stayed for six weeks while attending to some personal matters. From Puerto Vallarta, we made a quick stop back to Punta Mita, then continued around Cabo Corrientes to the small anchorage of Ipala. Next it was Chamela, where we caught up with fellow Ha-Ha boats, Gene Gearheart's Friday Harbor-based Catalina 50 Moody Blues and Dave Peoples' Portland-based Catalina 42 Jammin’. Our three boats sailed on to beautiful Tenacatita Bay, where we did the always popular 'jungle cruise'. A couple of days later, the six of us headed across Tenacatita Bay in dinghies to the village of La Manzanilla for shopping and lunch. On the return, while launching our dinghies through the surf, Dave of Jammin' was nailed by the barb of a stingray. He had to endure a rough four-mile ride back to the boat while in considerable pain before any kind of treatment could be started. Since none of us were exactly sure what should be done, a call was put out to boats in the anchorage — and in no time, helpful information came pouring in.

After two days, Dave was doing much better, but he assured everyone that it was the most painful episode he'd endured in his life. And this was coming from someone who has had a spiral compound fracture of the leg as well as a cerebral hemorrhage, so he knows about pain. We're now enjoying the lagoon in Barra de Navidad, which reminds us of one of our favorite spots, the California Delta. We’ve had perfectly warm days, and the cool nights have made for great sleeping. As such, we're staying down here much longer than we thought before heading back to Puerto Vallarta and will probably miss the Banderas Bay Regatta."

As the Grand Poobah of the Ha-Ha, we try to warn everyone about the dangers of stingrays lying on flat sand beaches. If you shuffle as you walk, they'll happily move along, but if you step on them — WHAM! you get the barb in your foot or leg and the pain is excruciating. How to treat getting barbed? Here's the advice Foy received from other cruisers:

"It's critical to make sure that all the remnants of the stinger are out of the wound, then irrigate the wound thoroughly with hot water. A plastic bag full of water with a hole poked in the bottom is a good way to irrigate. The wound then needs to be soaked in the hottest possible water the patient can stand for 30 to 90 minutes — although we did this for four hours. The heat apparently helps neutralize the pain. We're not doctors, so we're not qualified to recommend this, but Dave then took strong pain medication and immediately went on a series of Ciproflaxin 500 mg and Dicloxicillan 500 mg for five days. He was not to allow the wound to close, as a stingray wound is very deep, and if it's closed too early, a bacterial infection could develop deep. So he had to open it daily for five days to let the wound heal from the inside out. Naturally, he was not to let saltwater get to the wound until it had healed."

"The Hidden Port YC's 12th Annual Loreto Fest, four days of fun, music and games for cruisers at Puerto Escondido, Baja, will be held May 1-4 this year," reports Connie Sunlover. "There will be lots of music, more music, seminars, games, workshops, a silent auction — and yes, even more music. The money raised goes for educational programs for the kids in the area. For more information about Loreto Fest, Google the Hidden Port Yacht Club."

Latitude is told that the repairs to the Singlar moorings at Puerto Escondido are coming right along, with half of them already completed. In addition, there is wi-fi, and the showers, laundry facilities, and pool are all ready for use. Singlar is currently charging 2.67 pesos/ft/day on the weekly rate for 41 to 50-foot boats using moorings in the main harbors. That $77 a week or $308 a month for a 41-footer, or $93 a week or $373 a month for a 50-footer.

For sake of comparison, the anchoring fee in the outer harbor at Gustavia, St. Barth, easily the most expensive island in the Caribbean, is $200 a month for a 45-footer, and includes showers and wi-fi. And a half mile around the corner at Columbie, sailors can use the moorings for free. We're not sure who came up with the pricing for Singlar's moorings in Puerto Escondido, but we think it's way too high for the area — which is why almost all of them have been vacant since they were installed. If all the moorings were just $100 a month, we think Singlar's occupancy rate would soar, and they'd actually make some money. For if Puerto Escondido were to become vibrant boating community again, all their ancillary businesses would benefit, too.

"My voyage on the IntraCoastal Waterway has been a lot more photogenic than my ocean passages around the world," reports Jack van Ommen of the Gig Harbor, Washington-based Naja 29 Fleetwood. "There has been an abundance of birds, swamps, pine forests, and so forth, and the sunrises and sunsets have been spectacular in the winter. But I had not calculated the snail’s pace progress I've made since heading south from Chesapeake, Virginia, on January 14, nor was I prepared for the often freezing temperatures. In addition, the mooring costs at the marinas have come as an unwelcome surprise. Hopefully I'll be able to do more anchoring when the temperatures moderate further south. I still plan to haul in or near Fort Pierce, Florida and, if I have any time left, go into the Caribbean and then cross the Atlantic to Northern Europe this summer."

Van Ommen is just another cruiser who continues to point out that you don't need a big or expensive boat to cruise the world. He started his current trip from San Francisco and made it all the way around the world — via Vietnam — except for the last bit from the Caribbean to the West Coast. He's going to do that, but wants to do Northern Europe and the Med for a bunch of years first. 'Around the world before 80 years of age' is his motto.

When you talk to long-term cruisers, they seem to say the same thing — the only place where basic health care is ridiculously expensive is the United States. Doña de Mallorca got a chance to test part of that theory when she dropped a hatch on her starboard side big toe. After a couple of days, it started to swell, so she went to the little Bruyn Hopital — that's how they spell hospital in French — in Gustavia, St. Barth. She waited just one minute to be seen by a doctor, who spent a half hour in diagnosis and treatment, which included drainage and X-ray. The bill? It came to 69 euros, which is about $105. Twenty-five euros was for the treatment. Another 25 euros was for the X-ray, which de Mallorca, an R.N., didn't believe was necessary. The remaining 19 euros was because it was Mardi Gras — a holiday. How much would it have cost in the U.S.? We're not sure, but we suspect quite a bit more, and that the wait would have been much longer. As for the billing process, de Mallorca was told, "Oh, it won't be much, just swing by in a couple of days and we'll have it ready for you."

According to the locals, hospital care is cheap for everyone in France, including foreigners. What's expensive is the medicine for ongoing conditions, which people have to pay for on their own.

"I’ve joined Janet and John Colby, my aunt and uncle, on their Portland-based Hylas 42 Iris for a couple weeks of sailing as they make their way around the world," reports Northern Californian John Thompson, who gets in a lot of sailing by crewing with other folks. "The weather has been terrific, and the sailing great. We had between 10 and 35 knots of wind most of the time while sailing down the outside of the Nicoya Peninsula. The past few days we have been exploring the large but mostly undeveloped Bahias Ballena at the south end of the peninsula. People seem to think this may be the next big thing, as the real estate developers are swarming, and many people we have talked to are buying property. There is even a marina planned, supposedly with the idea of selling the slips. Cruiser gossip has it that the slips will cost upwards of $500,000 each. Last night we had cocktail hour on our boat with the only two other cruiser boats here: Dan Baker's San Diego-based Tayana 39 Che Bella, and the McConnells — Mike, Nancy and kids Fletcher and Dana of the San Diego-based Freeport 41 Deserata. We all remarked at how few cruisers there seem to be this far down this season. Perhaps more cruisers will be coming later, but for now, we're enjoying the quiet anchorages — as well as other cruiser company when we can get it. Tomorrow we will leave the bay and head into the Gulf of Nicoya, stopping at the various island chains, including Islas Tortugas, which Lonely Planet says is "widely regarded as the most beautiful island in Costa Rica." We shall see."

It strikes us as one of the strangest thefts from a boat ever. With our Leopard 45 'ti Profligate securely on the hook in a very crowded Corossol anchorage just outside of Gustavia, St. Barth, we went into town to bang away at the computer. But when we wanted to raise the main the next morning, we noticed something odd — the main halyard shackle to the headboard was missing. It would be reasonable to assume that we'd been sloppy and it had just fallen off — were it not for the fact that somebody had taken our halyard and, with considerable effort, wrapped it around the lazy jacks three times, then stuffed it in a pile in the Stak-Pak. Although we'd left the boat open, none of the valuable cameras, computers or cash, all in plain sight, had been taken. It's true, there had been a couple working on their main during that afternoon, but it was on a rather expensive privately owned Jeanneau 54 deck salon sloop. De Mallorca is convinced that they are the culprits. We don't see somebody like that — particularly on a private yacht that's probably loaded with extra shackles — being so bold or stupid in such a crowded anchorage. Yet we have no other plausible explanation.

Have you ever had anything as strange ripped off? We were also victims of what could almost qualify as another theft: diesel and fuel selling for $7 U.S. a gallon! It turns out that this is no St. Barth special, as it's actually less expensive than fuel in France, Italy, England, Belgium and German. Prices like that will give you religion about four-stroke outboards over two-stroke outboards and sailboats over powerboats.

It was a somewhat grim first leg of the World ARC Rally for the Oyster 82 Tillymint. On the night of January 26, while about 80 miles from Aruba, the watch heard faint cries for help from the open fishing boat Vegas. The Tillymint crew would later learn that the four St. Lucian fisherman aboard had been drifting east for 20 days because their engine wouldn't work. Because various other boats hadn't heard their cries for help, the desperate fisherman set a signal fire to make sure Tillymint saw them. Tragically, it got out of hand, and all four had to jump overboard before the big sloop could turn around in the strong tradewind conditions. While Tillymint managed to save Sherwin John, none of the other three could be found in the darkness, despite a search that eventually included five other World ARC boats, a Netherlands Coast Guard vessel, and a Coast Guard SAR aircraft.

Life in Mexico. "After spending five days and New Year’s Eve at Carrizal along with the crews of Tenacity, Blue Plains Drifter, VinMar, and Slacker, Miela and the rest of the fleet went around the corner to Santiago Bay," reports Bill 'Captain Memo' of the Chico-based Moody 44 Miela. "We took a short bus ride into the town of Santiago for hamburgers at Juanito’s. The gang settled in at a tienda where the beer is 6 pesos — 60 cents — and the plastic chairs and shade are free. Years ago a cruiser replaced the street sign with one that reads 'Hollywood' in one direction, and 'Vine' going the other way."

Those in the accompanying photo are, clockwise from the empty chair and big hat, Bill and Karen of Miela, Julie and Mike of Slacker, Lisa of Flying Free, Jim of Blue Plains Drifter, Vickie of Tenacity, Tiffany of Blue Plains Drifter, Terry of Tenacity, Steve of Flying Free, and Scott and Janet of VinMar.

For the last several months, we’ve been writing that Jerry Eaton of the Belvedere-based Hallberg-Rassy 43 Blue Heron was the only West Coast sailor to have done the last Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. It turns out that’s not correct, as Steve Bonner of San Jose also did it — in 15 days — with the F/P Eleuthera 60 catamaran Caribbean Soul that he bought from the factory in France 21 months ago. "We had a great crossing, but three boats sank, 11 broke their booms, one man died, and another suffered a very serious burn." A natural born traveller and a bon vivant in his 40s who made his money in financial planning and by building up the Wine & Roses Limo Service from one vehicle to 40, Bonner has a six-year plan to sail around the world. We met him in the Caribbean, where he'll only be spending another three months before moving on. While there, he's been chartering his cat — which is massive, luxurious, and equipped with all the goodies — for $24,000/week. Despite the price, he's been doing one more charter a month than he'd like, although he knows that pace is going to rapidly drop off when he gets to places like Peru and Cape Horn, which will only be interesting to more adventurous charterers.

After taking delivery of the cat — several months late, which he wasn't happy about — on the Atlantic Coast of France, Bonner and crew visited Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, then spent seven months in Greece and, quite unusually, three months in Egypt. Most cruisers only visit Egypt if they have to when coming up the Red Sea. Not Bonner, who went there for the diving. "I loved it!" he says. "Except for the taxi drivers, the Egyptians were about the most friendly and helpful people I've met anywhere." It was while in the land of the Pharaohs that Kobe, Bonner's four-year-old combo black lab and Australian shepard, seemed to develop a special relationship. "The dolphins spent hours playing with him, far longer than they did with humans."

Talk about short notice — Wayne Meretsky of the Alameda-based S&S 47 Moonduster didn't even decide to go singlehanded cruising to the South Pacific until November. But when you've already done a long singlehanded trip to the south and back home via Alaska on a wooden boat, the second time should be easier. But it hasn't been, at least not while leaving the Golden State. For instance, Meretsky caught a crab pot in his prop not far from Morro Bay, and thus had to do a little swimming once he got into port. "I donned my wetsuit, booties, fins, mask, snorkel and, with dive knife in hand, slipped into the water. The blast of cold defies description. My chest tightened and I simply couldn’t breath. It took perhaps 30 (interminable-seeming) seconds before I could relax and appreciate the effect of the wetsuit as the water began to warm. I tried to displace my fears that I’d never be able to stay in the murky water long enough to make real progress on the hacking and whacking I anticipated." Actually the job turned out to be simple. Then, after 30 hours with no sleep, his Moonduster, which draws more than eight feet, ran aground at the Orange County Sheriff's dock in Newport Beach. Hours later, when officers tried to help him secure to a double mooring in tight quarters, Moonduster went aground again. When the officers released the straining line, his boat slingshotted into the boat on the adjacent mooring. And to think his insurance had lapsed only a couple of hundred miles before because he was singlehanding! Then, after arriving at the Police Dock just after the office closed, he got rousted for tying up at the Customs Dock. Now that he's almost to Cabo San Lucas, things have been going much better.

It's now the height of the cruising season, and you know who we'd like to hear from? You! Just us your reports — very brief is just fine — and your high resolution photos.

Missing the pictures? See the March 2008 eBook!


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