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March 2013

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With reports this month from Someday on the natural life in Panama; from Pacific Star on an impending circumnavigation that has included stops in Rome, Paris and London; from Dolphin on surviving the Big Island's South Point; from the Zihua SailFest on raising 65K for disadvantaged kids; from Interlude on cruising the 'hard coast' of New England; and Cruise Notes.

Someday — Gulfstar 41
William Nokes and Barbara Wade
A Beautiful Place and Time
(Chetco Bay, Oregon)

I’m not very religious, at least not in the sense of following any particular faith. But I do believe in a higher being, and try to live my life so I'll leave the world a little bit better place than when I arrived.

I’m not a rabid environmentalist, either, trying to impose my will on others. But I take personal responsibility for the impact I have on the planet. For example, nothing goes overboard from Someday that will not naturally and harmlessly disappear quickly.

When I see a place such as Bahia Honda on the Pacific Coast of Panama, my belief in a divine creator is amplified, so nothing — and I mean nothing — but fruit peelings goes overboard. Even though the bay is huge, bigger than Coos Bay, Oregon, where we used to live, we use the holding tank. We don't even discard our biodegradeable paper towels.

There is minimal human impact here from the roughly 200 residents, most of whom live in the small village on the island in the middle of the bay. There are no roads, no airstrip, no fuel supplies and no trash on any of the beaches.

A few of the dugout canoes do have outboard motors, but they are nonetheless mostly paddled about in the clear, deep waters. Perhaps one of the reasons is that a boat with fuel calls only periodically, and the fuel is very expensive. But hearing an outboard is such a rarity that it always catches your attention.

Every few days a sailboat will enter the bay and anchor in order to trade with Domingo or his sons for fruits and veggies. After a few days the boat will leave, as no cruisers stay too long.

When the sun rises in the morning over the surrounding hills, the hills to the west gradually become illuminated from the top down in a slow but inexorable slide of light on the green jungle. We're usually awake in time to fix coffee and watch the sunrise. The howler monkeys, and an occasional other unidentified wild animal, are a pretty good alarm clock for the impending dawn.

During the day in this totally protected anchorage, we watch the boys and young men fish from their homemade canoes, landing carvallo, pargo, sierra, bonita and other fish. Most days porpoises will be chasing the same food source. One morning we saw a fair-sized whale breach in the bay. It happened so quickly that we weren't able to identify it, but it was likely a young humpback. There are also a wide variety of birds that at various times circle, dive, screech, sing or sit placidly.

Not only did God create this exquisitely peaceful place, as yet not defiled by civilization, but He clearly provides for the people living on its shores. True, some locals work at a hotel resort that is a short panga ride outside the bay to the northwest. But most live off the land and sea, as mankind did for centuries prior to our more 'civilized' life.

God even went out of His way to provide for Barbara and me last Easter when we were anchored in 50 feet of water about 100 feet from shore. After rowing, and sometimes motoring, around the bay with our 2-hp Honda for a couple of hours, we approached Someday to hear a mysterious slapping sound on the far side of our ketch. Rowing around to the other side of the boat, we saw a nice-sized sierra mackerel flopping around on deck, having obviously jumped up there by itself. I dispatched it with the oar and cleaned it. Barb cooked it in the galley. And the two of us, and our dog Ana, ate it. Since it was Easter, we figured it was a holy mackerel if there ever was one.

Ironically, while God provided a fish to feed us, He has yet to teach us how to fish successfully.

Barbara and I realize that many people think the world has been overwhelmed by people, stress and pollution. But based on our experience, it all depends on how and where you choose to live your life.

— william 02/17/13

Pacific Star — Island Packet 35
Horst Wolff and Julia Shovein
England to the Caribbean

We're probably the only vets of the 2007 Ha-Ha who welcomed in 2012 by watching the awesome fireworks show from Tower Bridge in London. To recap briefly, following the Ha-Ha we headed across the Pacific with the 2008 Puddle Jump fleet to start our circumnavigation. By 2011, we were in the Med, where among other things, we took the train from the marina to Rome every day for a month. And later, because of Pacific Star's 5-foot draft and less than 6.5 foot 'air draft' — minus the mast, of course — we were able to travel 1,000 miles through France via the rivers and canal system. Including a stop in Paris! By late 2011, we had Pacific Star settled in for the winter at St. Katherine Docks, next to London's Tower Bridge.

We made a list of 200 things we wanted to see in London — and by the end of our six-month stay had ticked off all but seven. London was a source of unending entertainment and culture. There were a dozen American boats that wintered over with us, so we met every Tuesday morning for breakfast. We swapped information and did things like organizing a bunch of us getting our chains galvanized by a company in Birmingham. There are few marine services available in London proper.

We also did some outings together. For instance, we all walked to the Lord Mayor’s Parade and saw all the beautiful floats from the various guilds. Hundreds of years ago, the parade was on the Thames River, and each guild had a decorated boat — hence the origin of the term 'floats' in parades. And after touring the Clink Prison, I finally understood what my father meant when he told me I would probably end up "in the clink".

While in the Marquesas in 2008, we were joined by a French woman named Martine, who had found that she was incompatible with the crew of the boat she'd been on. We'd last seen her six years before in a laundry room in Tonga, checking a bulletin board for her next possible berth. She lives in London now, so we reconnected. She took us on numerous walks, and had us visit her home for gourmet French dinners.

It wasn't until mid-April that we left London, accompanied by two other English friends. Terrence, one of the two, guided us through the lock and back through the Barrier down the Thames River. We overnighted in the Swale on our way to the English Channel. The 20-ft tides and fast currents never ceased to amaze us.

While at Ramsgate we had our first and only visit from customs. They wanted to know if we were still within our 18-month grace period to avoid having to pay the European Union's Value Added Tax (VAT). They reminded us that we would have to pay the stiff tax if we remained in the E.U. longer than 18 months. They admitted that going to the Channel Islands — Guernsey and Jersey, off the Normandy coast of France — was technically an option for leaving the European Union. "But," they added, "you can't just go for a short time". Yet they couldn't define a 'short time'.

Unfortunately, cold and stormy weather finally caught up with us. We were unable to leave Ramsgate for two weeks because of gales. Once we were able to leave, we could make it only 20 miles to Dover. We then gunkholed our way along England’s southern coast on a veritable magical naval history tour.

In Portsmouth, for example, we saw the artifacts from the Mary Rose, Henry VIII's flagship, which sank in 1545. Among the intact artifacts were longbows, leather vests and engraved cannons looking as though they were fresh from their casting. And our tour of the HMS Victory, Lord Nelson's flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, allowed us to spend hours exploring every nook and cranny, imagining what life was like aboard a mighty ship in that era.

By May we were in the Solent, which is the 15-mile by two- to four-mile wide strait between Britain and the Isle of Wight. Despite the bad weather, the Solent was crowded with sailboats and enthusiastic English sailors. How bad was the weather? During a stay at East Cowes Marina on the Isle of Wight, locals pointed to some boats anchored outside. Four others, we were told, had just sunk in a bad gale. Sailing the coast of Great Britain — the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest of the British Isles — is not for the faint of heart.

While in Cowes, we phoned a cruising couple whom we had met while sailing in Crete. They own a garlic farm, restaurant, guesthouse and education center. They picked us up in town and took us home for the day.

By the time we made it to the Devon coast, on the southwestern coast of Great Britain next to Cornwall, we were still being pounded by the weather. We tied Pacific Star to the pontoon outside the Brixham YC, from which it was only another 20 feet to the dinghy dock. It was a nice base for exploring.

Riding in a beautifully restored 1940s British bus, we made our way to the summer house of Agatha Christie, the author of 66 detective novels — and the best selling novelist in history. When we returned to the yacht club, we were shocked to see our dinghy still tied to the dock — but hanging 20 feet above the water! Locals told us not to worry, and suggested that we have a few beers while waiting for the tide to come up. After years of cruising, you would think that we'd have paid more attention to the tides.

Leaving the Dartmouth area, we gave a wide berth to Portland Bill, site of so many famous nautical disasters. It is possible to take a shortcut, but it's not recommended unless you know the area well — and we didn't. It was a very sad day when we rounded the Bill, as we learned that three young fishermen had been killed tending to their lobster pots.

The maritime museum in Falmouth had an RYA rescue helicopter available for boarding, as well as displays of famous shipwrecks and rescues over the centuries. Because the Olympics were coming to England the following month, there were also various classes of racers available to view. While in colorful Weymouth, we saw several Olympic sailing teams preparing for the big event. We also took interest in a minor exhibit that showed a map of where Cornish émigrés ended up. The largest concentration of Cornishmen outside Cornwall is — Grass Valley, California!

We sailed past Land’s End and Penzance, intending to head up to Wales and the Isle of Man. But after fighting strong winds and standing still in the water outside Bristol Channel for four hours, Horst smartly turned the wheel and announced, “We’re going to Ireland!”

After a 150-mile crossing, we arrived at Waterford, Ireland, and made our way up the River Suir. As the Irish and English have long had their troubles, skippers of several Irish boats were quick to point out that we were flying the wrong courtesy flag. We quickly struck the Union Jack and rectified our mistake.

We then made our way up the east coast of Ireland, which we found quite dangerous because of the thick fog, rain, strong winds and tidal currents. We day-hopped our way north, stopping at beautiful anchorages and town piers, taking in the sights along the way. We met and commiserated with French and English sailors — and even Irish locals — about the inclement weather along Ireland's east coast. Nonetheless, we finally made it north to Howth, near Dublin, and squeezed into the marina. Since hundreds of boats were arriving the next day for a regatta, we were allowed to stay one night. We decided to 'do' Dublin on only our way back from Scotland.

We continued on to Northern Ireland, where we were very impressed with Belfast's Titanic Museum near Bangor — and with the assistance of Irish sailors, who advised us on the best way to make our way north to Scotland. From Glenarm, Ireland, across the North Channel to Scotland’s Argyll Coast, we enjoyed a sailing paradise of sheltered waters dotted with countless islands. In addition, there were dozens of closely spaced places to anchor, moor or tie up. It was just beautiful!

Our first stop was Port Ellen on Islay in late May — just in time for the Malt and Music Festival sponsored by six of the island's distilleries. And it just got better and better as we headed to the islands of Jura and Mull. The latter is home to the gorgeous but quaint town of Tobermory, which afforded views of the soaring eagles that had recently been reintroduced to the area. A farmer who allowed us to hike across her fields — “careful around the horses, the stallions can be dangerous” — said that an eagle consumes five pounds of meat per day, which meant that some of the new lambs went missing. Consequently, not everyone appreciates the return of the eagles.

From Loch Linnhe we sailed down to the bustling town of Oban, where we ran into Alchemy, one of our compatriots from wintering over in London. They had just sailed up the east coast of England to Scotland, and through the Caledonian Canal. We traded stories and sent a SailMail to the London gang to let them know what we were up to. We then continued our journey south to the Crinan Canal — just five locks — and crossed it slowly, taking three days before entering the Firth of Clyde.

We had sails repaired in Tarbert — all marine work was reasonably priced in Scotland — and then made our way to the Island of Arran. While there, Terrence, who had rejoined us, climbed to the top of 2,800-ft Goat Fell. By the time we got over to Troon — here Horst had to pull the transmission to fix the leaking shaft seal — we were able to make some inland trips by train to 30-mile-distant Glasgow and 120-mile- distant Edinburgh.

Scotland has some incredible sailing grounds, and we experienced only a few. We envy those who have boats there.

We had visitors arriving in Kinsale on the southern coast of Ireland, and so we made our way back down the Irish coast. By July, we were able to meet a half- dozen friends and relatives in County Cork — just in time for an arts festival. Soon we were surrounded by great pubs, music and scenery. We even made our way to Blarney Castle to witness those kissing the stone.

We chose Kinsale as our departure point for crossing the Atlantic. More on that next month.

— julia 02/20/13

Dolphin — Ericson 41
Skip White
Surviving South Point
(San Diego / Oahu)

After a successful singlehanded crossing from Puerto Vallarta to Hilo on the Big Island, this proud, division-winning vet of the 2010 Ha-Ha was looking forward to some inter-island cruising in the Hawaiian Archipelago.

While Med-moored to the concrete quay at Radio Bay in Hilo, my boat received much needed post-passage freshwater baths, as Hilo gets 127 inches of rain a year! Having gotten some rest and a clean boat, I set my sights on the leeward side of the Big Island and destinations such as Kona, Kealakekua Bay, and Honokohau Harbor.

The problem with getting to the leeward side of the Big Island from Hilo is that you have to decide whether to go around the northern or southern end of the island. Most sailors opt for the north end — even though it requires sailing down the notoriously rough Alenuihaha Channel between the Big Island and Maui. That said, only a few cruising boats a year attempt rounding South Point on the southern tip of the island, as the reinforced tradewinds compress while wrapping around the Haleakala mountains. These brisk easterly trades are looking for an escape from the 10,000-foot peak as they deflect and move south. The wind routinely blows in the mid-30s and gusts to the mid-40s as they wrap around South Point — the southernmost part of the United States — during the summer months.

Always up for a challenge, I decided to go around by way of South Point. After all, it's a much shorter distance to Kealakekua Bay, better known as Cook's Bay. This is where Capt Cook, one of the greatest explorers in history, and his crews on Resolution and Discovery, discovered Hawaii in 1779. After his being treated like a god, a dismasting forced Cook to return a second time, when he received a much different reception. Cook was killed during a minor skirmish, and if it were not for the bravery of Capt Bligh, Cook's longtime navigator, his body never would have been recovered. There is a memorial to the great explorer.

I created a passage plan to put me off South Point at dawn, when the wind should be the lightest. With the trade winds having blown hard for many days prior to my leaving the shelter of Radio Bay, the seas were large, confused and of shortperiod. I chose to motorsail as close to the wind as possible while heading to the first point to the southeast. The higher the course I kept, the more insurance I had against the wind clocking to the right. With a lift as I neared the point at Lehia, I let Dolphin reach down to Puna Point. where the Cape Kumukahi Lighthouse lets sailors know to stand off the reefs and low-lying ground. Rounding the point, I jibed with just enough daylight on deck to set the pole, in short-period 12-ft seas, which stacked up before pounding the Big Island. Rounding this corner was no joke — yet my real test wouldn't be until the next dawn.

As the sky turned from sunset to dark, I recalled a drive I'd done the week before in a rental car, when I realized that the 'Big Island' nickname was appropriate. Hawaii's Big Island is more than twice as large as all the other islands combined. It also features the majority of the climates found in the world, from snowy volcano peaks to lush valleys to barren deserts to sandy beaches.

Sailors know that winds get compressed by land masses. In my previous sailing experience, I had noticed compression from about as far out as 10 miles. But as I headed toward South Point, the wind began to rise to 25+ knots 50 miles out! My first concern was whether the wind would keep a steady direction, or if it would push me toward shore — which would require multiple jibes in strong winds and short period seas. The wind direction plus drift had me spot-on for just one jibe, but as the wind continued to build, I had to double-reef, then triple-reef, the main. The third reef meant I had nothing but a scrap of sail with which to control the boat, but I didn't want to exceed seven knots of boat speed.

Years before, I made the decision to leave the halyard reefing lines at the mast rather than run them through a series of blocks back to the cockpit. My thinking was the less friction, the better. Whether it had been a good decision or not didn't matter, for hesitating would have only made things much more dangerous. So I went forward to the mast in those dangerous conditions. Perhaps due the proximity of the Lava Coast, I was certain a second refractive swell would send large waves into the air, with hundreds of pounds of water crashing into me. As I pulled the mainsail down to reach the cringle for the third reef, I stood soaked from head to toe as another wave said 'hello'.

I was fortunate that my Ericson stayed balanced under the shortened sail plan, as it allowed me to make it to my final jibe mark without having to make additional jibes. It was right at dawn that I, somewhat out of practice, had to make the jibe. I was in 15-ft short-period swells, not a place for errors. And the anemometer was reading in the mid-30s, with the boat doing eights. I would be lying if I didn't say that I was proud that I executed that heavy weather jibe perfectly. Right as the sun rose.

I had made my jibe mark low so that I would be certain to clear South Point. What I hadn't considered was that by giving myself that insurance, I would be nearly on a beam reach in the large, short-period waves. I knew that if I held the course too long, a wave would climb up the hull and slam the house — surely breaking the one large window on the starboard side and flooding inside.

But I had only a few miles to sail to find protection — and did — from the same point that seemed to want to send me to the bottom.

With any challenge, hopefully there is a good reward at the end. And I got mine, for having gained South Point, I got protection from the seas and had less strong winds. So I unfurled some of the jib, took a reef out of the main, and let Dolphin fly.

The leeward side of the Big Island was wonderful, particularly Kealakekua Bay. It is home to a protected reef, which has some of the most colorful and healthy coral in all of Hawaii. After tourist hours, it's possible to pick up a submerged mooring in shallow water at the very northwest curve of the bay.

Dolphin and I are currently in Kewalo Basin on Oahu. If anyone is planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands and would like to go sailing, visit me at

— skip 01/15/2013

Skip — Your story reminds us of one of the Pan Am Clipper Cup Around the State Races in the '80s, when the great New Zealand-based Farr 40 Exador, which had been kicking ass in the large international fleet, rounded South Point just a little too close. The crew reports that a wave broke over her second spreader, bringing the mast down.

Zihua SailFest
Sailing Fun, Sailing Fundraising
(Zihuatanejo, Mexico)

Although this year's Zihua SailFest fleet was the not biggest ever, the event managed to raise about $65,000 U.S. That's a nice increase over last year, when about $40,000 was raised. Since its inception 11 years ago, Zihua SailFest has raised well over $350,000 to help educate the disadvantaged children of Zihua. In its early days, the money went to support teacher Maria Sanchez, who selflessly taught 30 indigenous children Spanish under a tree. Children who don't speak Spanish can't attend public schools in Mexico. SailFest, in partnership with the City of Zihuatanejo, built Sanchez a school that now provides educational opportunities for 375 bright-eyed young scholars.

As the event prospered over the years, SailFest has been expanded to assist all disadvantaged children in the Zihua area. Over the years, SailFest has helped to build more than 60 classrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and playgrounds, benefiting approximately 3,500 low-income students. Rotary International has contributed over $225,000 in support of SailFest’s educational initiatives.

That Zihua SailFest, easily the most successful cruiser fundraiser in Mexico, has thrived is all the more remarkable because it started as an idle afterthought. In the fall of 2002, a group of Mexico regulars were talking about doing something a little different in Mexico that winter. "Why don't we sail down to Zihua in late January and have a little regatta, making it a little fundraiser for some local charity?' suggested the publisher of Latitude. Blair Grinols, of the 45-ft Capricorn Cat, and some others thought it was a relatively decent idea. About mid-January, however, the publisher of Latitude started having second thoughts about making the long round trip from Banderas Bay just to do a couple of races with friends. But other members of the group ragged on him, claiming that without Profligate as a magnet, there wouldn't be critical mass to get the event off the ground. So we semi-reluctantly agreed to show up. When we got to Zihua a couple of days before the event, we discovered that a number of cruiser dynamos and Rick of Rick's Bar, who was looking to make his bar the cruiser center, had gotten all the cruisers and half the town behind the event.

The remarkable thing is that over the years a series of cruisers, supported by enthusiastic land-based folks and businesses, picked up the baton each year to make the event a success. Several times in the early years, cruisers arrived just weeks before the appointed start to find that there had been little organization. Without the relentless energy and organizing skills of this series of cruisers, the event would have weakened.

When the economic crisis in 2008 reduced the number of sailboats visiting, the city of Zihuatanejo, 40+ land-based volunteers and 200 local businesses stepped in to help the cruisers organize the fund-raising events. This has guaranteed the continuity of the event.

SailFest had become so successful by 2005— it appears in most general interest travel guides to the area — that a SailFest foundation was established to manage it. Since then, the funds have been administered by Por Los Niños de Zihuatanejo, a Mexican-registered non-profit corporation. A nine-member advisory committee composed of year-round international residents, local bilingual Mexican educators and representatives of the sailing community makes all funding decisions. The Por Los Ninos administrator, Lorenzo Marbut, was recently honored as the 'Distinguished Immigrant of the Year' in recognition of SailFest’s contributions to the Zihuatanejo community.

It must be noted that the financial success of the event has benefited greatly from the Florida-based Bellack Foundation, Northern California cruiser Pete Boyce and Zihua donor Jane Fiala, who have made sure that whatever money was raised by the fleet and hugely supportive local businesses was at least partially matched by them. With their help, last year, five schools and more than 400 children benefited from educational projects funded by SailFest.

If you’re planning to cruise the Mexican mainland next year, we’d urge you to consider visiting charming Zihua — and participate in next year’s Z-Fest. Everyone leaves with a smile, knowing they’ve helped to make a difference in the lives of some extremely grateful kids. By the way, donations to this worthy cause can be tax deductible in the US.

— latitude/rs 2/15/03

Interlude — Deerfoot 74
Kurt and Katie Braun
Cruising New England

[Continued from last month.]

After a day-hop north from Provincetown, we made landfall at Rockport, Mass., which is on Cape Ann. This was our first landfall on the so-called 'hard coast' of New England, as opposed to islands and sand spits such as Cape Cod. With a granite shoreline and massive rock seawalls, Rockport is aptly named.

We anchored off the small beach to the west of the harbor with a few other yachts. As we pulled in, the air temperature rose 10 degrees as a light breeze blew over the hot rocks around the bay. People were sunbathing on the beach, and kids were swimming in the 66° water. Seven swans a-swimming and a concert band playing marches from the bandstand ashore completed the scene.

During a late afternoon harbor cruise in our dinghy, we found a fleet of five US Navy training sloops — all sporting dress flags — rafted off the main wharf. Independence Day is more like Independence Month in this part of the United States.

With touristy shops, art galleries, music and fresh lobster, Rockport was a delightful one-day stop. We enjoyed seeing the famous fisherman's shack — named 'Motif #1’ — depicted in countless paintings, and the Shalin Liu Performance Center, a beautiful venue with a huge picture window overlooking our anchorage. We also bought our first Maine lobster — $8/lb, steamed and cracked — at Roy Moore's in Bearskin Neck.

Portland, Maine, after one night anchored off York Beach, was our next stop. We dropped the hook near the downtown waterfront and enjoyed the many shops, pubs and restaurants. The seafood, no matter if purchased at the Harbor Fish Market on Customs Wharf, or in any of the many fine restaurants, was uniformly excellent. We also had fun sampling the numerous local microbrews and hard ciders that are widely available on tap. The Portland Museum of Art is one of the finest in New England, with works by Monet, Degas, Renoir, Gaugin, Matisse, Picasso and Homer, and Maine art by the Wyeths. Segway Tours of Portland gave us a fun guided local history lesson, and a chance to try this new mode of transportation. Segways are classified as being the same as electric wheelchairs, and the operator is technically a pedestrian.

Much of Portland was destroyed in a conflagration started by firecrackers on Independence Day in 1866, so much of the city was rebuilt using brick. We thus found it ironic that the Portland Fire Department would not take our expired signal flares, and advised us to contact the Coast Guard. The Coasties told us to call the fire department. This runaround prompted us to call the State Fire Marshall, who finally arranged a hazardous items pickup.

People not from the Northeast are sometimes confused by the term 'Down East'. Here's the deal. When ships sailed from Boston to ports in Maine — which were to the east of Boston — the wind was at their backs, so they were sailing downwind, hence the term 'Down East.' When they returned to Boston they were sailing upwind, which is why many Maine residents still speak of going 'up to Boston' — despite the fact that the city is 50 miles to the south of Maine's southern border.

After 10 days in Portland, we headed 40 miles farther 'Down East' to Boothbay Harbor — in time to witness a funerary lobster boat parade around the harbor. Not asking for whom the accompanying bell tolled, we thanked the anonymous fisherman for his services and hoisted a glass in his honor. Boothbay Harbor has many seafood restaurants, our favorite being McSeagulls, which featured a dinghy dock, huge menu, full bar and lobster specials priced lower than at most lobster chow houses. Of nautical interest, the nearby Boothbay Harbor Shipyard built a Deerfoot 67 in 1991-'93, and Interlude's aluminum ventilator scoops are still being cast at Luke Shipyard one bay over.

We sailed most of the way to Rockland, where we helped with the consumption of 20,000 pounds of lobster during the 65th annual Maine Lobster Festival, held August 1-5. The festivities included numerous live bands, a parade, a coronation, eating contests and touring of the hovercraft carrier USS San Antonio. A 'two bug' dinner with corn and roll set us back just $19.

After gorging on lobster, we motored over to Gilkey Harbor, Penobscot Bay, where 60 yachts gathered for the annual Seven Seas Cruising Association Downeast Gam. Back in the '90s, Interlude was an East Coast cruiser and did several trips between Maine and the Caribbean. She holds the Dashew design record of 147,000 total miles sailed, with 55,000 being the average. We, the fifth owners, have owned her the longest and sailed her the most miles. Steve and Linda Dashew met up with us for the Gam, where we were surprised to learn that the four of us were the only circumnavigators at the gathering of seasoned cruisers.

[Editor's note: In last month's Cruise Notes, we incorrectly wrote that the Braun's had sailed Interlude 150,000 miles. She's now been sailed a collective 150,000 miles by all her owners.]

Some folks say that the cruising season in Maine can consist of as few as two weeks of nice weather. Prior to coming to Maine, we'd been concerned about having to avoid millions of lobster pots when blinded and shivering from the fog. We had our first dreaded day of fog and rain on August 5. Fortunately, our fears of frequent fog and rain never materialized, and we had only a handful of overcast days. Nonetheless, the weather rarely stops cruisers in this part of the U.S. from having fun with their boats.

Fortunately, it was a pleasant sunny day when we motored 30 miles Downeast through waters of Merchants Row to Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan's Island, which were thick with lobster pots. Katie took position in the dinghy on the foredeck with the autopilot remote, hitting the 'dodge' button when necessary, while Kurt navigated with the chartplotter, making macro course corrections from the pilothouse.

We eventually anchored at Somesville in Somes Sound, Mount Desert (pronounced 'desert' as in 'desertion') Island in order to visit Acadia National Park. The park features great hiking on trails, as well as walking/biking on gravel carriage roads built by the sporting Rockefellers, to numerous peaks. Mind you, a 'peak' in these parts is about 1,500 feet. We recommend hiking up Dorr Mountain, since Cadillac Mountain, although higher, can be reached by bus and therefore is not as satisfying a climb. Although not geologically spectacular, Somes Sound is the only true fjord on the eastern Atlantic seaboard.

Bar Harbor, the biggest town and main transportation hub of the area, is mostly touristy, with tall ship cruisers and restaurants galore. Southwest Harbor is small, but is the yachting center, with two chandleries and the home for both Hinckley and Morris Yachts.

Mount Desert Island is as far 'Down East' as we planned to go, so we began to backtrack with a nice sail to Pulpit Harbor on North Haven Island in Penobscot Bay.

— katie 02/15/03

[The third and final installment of the Braun's New England cruise will appear in the April issue.]

Cruise Notes:

In disturbing news, Bill Lily and his partner Judy Lang reported their Lagoon 470 Moontide had been boarded by three armed men at about 2 a.m. on February 19 while they were at anchor at Caleta de Campos, where they had stopped on their way from Zihua to Mazanillo. "I was awoken by banging on the sliding door into the salon," Bill reports, "and like an idiot, I opened it — at which time a gun was put in my face. Three young men ransacked the boat looking for cash. I gave them what I had, and they went through the boat taking my navigation computer, a cell phone, cameras and booze." A veteran of many Ha-Ha's, and number one of the list for this fall's Ha-Ha, Lily reports the couple were unhurt, but had gotten a heavy dose of adrenaline when looking down the barrels of pistols."

Caleta de Campos is the same anchorage where Blair Grinols' 45-ft cat Capricorn Cat was boarded about 10 years ago by an armed man claiming to be police. Thanks to the spot and area's having a hinky reputation, we've always made straight shots between Zihua and Manzanillo. Given what happened, we encourage others to do the same. By the time you read this, we expect a more detailed report on thie incident to have appeared in 'Lectronic Latitude.

Glenn Twitchell of the Newport Beach-based Lagoon 380 Beach House, and a good friend of Bill and Judy's, had an interesting take on the context of the incident. "In defense of Mexico, at nearly the same time Bill and Judy were robbed, some idiot in Orange County, where all three of us live, killed and wounded a lot of innocent strangers."

For those looking for an even greater context, check out the website While certainly not definitive, it's an ongoing compendium of misfortunes that have befallen tourists in foreign countries around the world. Caution: You may never leave home again.

In much better news, the Latitude Caribbean office opened on February 12 aboard the publisher's Leopard 45 'ti Profligate in the British Virgins, and all we can say is that sailing is going full tilt in the Eastern Caribbean! It's not surprising, as there are several gazillion more boats and cruisers in this part of the world than in Mexico. After dropping our gear on 'ti, we cabbed it to Penn's Landing — a cool little Tortola marina we'd never been to before — to see John and Lynn Ringseis's new-to-them Leopard 43 Moonshine. The Novato residents had previously run crewed boats for The Moorings, then bought a new Lagoon 410 in France and sailed her to the Caribbean to do crewed charters on their own. Crewed charters are fun but wearying work, so after about five years they sold the cat. Apparently the only thing more wearying than doing crewed charters is not having a boat of your own, so late last year the couple purchased a new Moonshine.

Joining us at Penn's Landing was Tim Schaff, formerly of San Franciso, Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Escondido, and for about the last nine years the owner and charter captain of Jet Stream, 'ti Profligate's sisterhip. Schaff is a walking encycopedia of all things Leopard 45s/47s. For instance, he knows off the top of his head what size — 3/8-inch or 10 mm ­— chain will fit the windlass gypsy, and which size of what kind of anchors will fit on the cat's bow. Tim then told us the story of how an item weighing less than a quarter of an ounce, and free almost everywhere, once saved him tens of thousands.

"We were on charter at Maho Bay in the U.S. Virgins, and just before knocking off for the night, somebody got a whiff of diesel from the bilge. It turned out there was a leak near the bottom of one of the 75-gallon tanks. That meant it wasn't going to be long before the bilge pumps started pumping fuel overboard, bringing the Coast Guard and big fines. It crossed my mind to use underwater epoxy, but I knew that even if we could reach the leak — which I barely could — the stuff wouldn't stick to the diesel-coated stainless. Then I had a brainstorm — stick a toothpick, which would swell with moisture, into the small hole!"

It worked, saving Schaff's charter and big fines. "We know that we'll all have to replace our stainless tanks at some point," continued Tim, "so Leopard folks need to know that a company in the Northeast makes plastic fuel tanks for the 45s/47s. The tanks are way better than stainless steel because they are transparent, allowing you to see how much fuel is in them, That's great, because as we all know, sailboat fuel gauges never work for very long."

A few hours later we returned to 'ti Profligate — and were blown away to see what a great job BVI Yacht Charters has done of taking care of her. A dozen years old, she looks great and everything works.

One thing that's always bugged us about 'ti is how dim the lighting is in her salon. Well, remember the 15-ft LED stripe lights for $13 from Amazon that we wrote about in 'Lectronic? Problem totally solved — and they fit the overhead grooves like a glove. The interior of 'ti now looks like AT&T Park in San Francisco illuminated for a seventh game of the World Series.

The next night we went over to Nanny Cay to — if the weather didn't cooperate for crossing the Anegada Passage — enter the Singlehanded Race on Saturday and the Sweethearts of the Caribbean Race for couples on Sunday. We weren't at the sign-up party for 30 seconds before we ran into Steve Schmidt of the cruising Santa Cruz 70 Hotel Caifornia, Too — and long, long ago of the Saratoga area. He was all revved up about the Singlehanded Race despite the splint on his thumb. "I dropped my outboard on it," he explained. We almost threw up at just the thought of how badly that must have hurt.

Then we saw this big guy dressed in white, including his hat and his long braided beard. There was no mistaking our old St. Barth friend, the inimitable circumnavigator David Wegman of the Cowhorn 33 schooner African Queen.

David immediately introduced us to a fellow whose dad had owned the Gangplank Bar at the bottom of the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco back when that hotel was top hat. His father had died before age 40, so he was adopted by an uncle — who also died before age 40. 'The heck with this dying young stuff,' he said to himself, so he bought a Newporter 40 — remember those hard-chined, plywood-hull ketches? — and sailed to the Caribbean. He's now in his late 60s, having been cruising the Caribbean for 30 years, much of it with his wife aboard their Gallant 53, which is a smaller version of an Ocean 71. We're saving both their names, because they are the subject of next month's Latitude mini-interview. If you don't want to die young, you won't want to miss it.

With marginally decent conditions forecast for the Anegada Passage, de Mallorca and the Wanderer decided to forgo the Sweethearts race and make a break for St. Martin. There's a guy who has been writing to Latitude for the last several years insisting that sailing in short-period swells is more comfortable and safe than sailing in long-period swells. It's a pity that he couldn't have joined us for our 14-hour bash, for he'd have been singing a different tune long before we reached the lee of Dog Island.

The British Virgins see many big yachts, but it's when you pull into St. Martin ­— which, by the way, is much more dangerous for tourists than Mexico — that you are dumbstruck. Even Hemisphere — which at $250,000/week and 145-ft is the world's largest luxury sailing cat — was dwarfed by the huge motoryachts. Among them was the wildly futuristic — and surprisingly attractive — 390-ft, $300 million A. Her young owner, Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko, is in the process of building a highly secretive — and rumored to be similarly unconventional — 500-ft sailing yacht.

You've never seen transportation follies like those on St. Martin. It's as though it were created by 14-year-old boys with too much video game experience. And we're not just talking about the brainless tourists joy-riding Harleys, the fleeing car thieves, or the bank robbers driving getaway cars. The biggest thrill is watching the 747s land and take off at Queen Juliana Airport — although the extended runway has diminished some of the old-time excitment —such as the times an Air France pilot used to hit the cyclone fence at the end of the runway when landing. Check out the videos on YouTube. Some of them show the jet blasts blowing blankets and people across the road, across the beach, and into the Caribbean Sea. It's a St. Martin thing.

Then there's the 5:30 Follies, when the big yachts make their way through the narrow opening created by the Simpson Bay lift bridge to get into Simpson Bay Lagoon. It's so entertaining that the patio of the ever-welcoming St. Martin YC and nearby hotel verandas are packed with people gathered to watch the the captains of multi-million-dollar yachts trying not to screw up. Remember how we criticized the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for not approving the megayacht marina proposed for under the Bay Bridge? Had they seen the interest megayachts get from the hoi polloi at St. Martin, and realized the amount of money megayachts spew out each week, they would have gotten revenue-generating religion.

Last night's big attraction was the 315-ft motoryacht Limitless, which was paid for by all you ladies — and gentlemen — who shell out big bucks for a few ounces of cleverly cut fabric marketed by Victoria's Secret, Pink and other retailers. When launched in 1997 for Leslie Wexner — a true rags-to-riches story from from Dayton, Ohio — Limitless was the largest motoryacht in the world. Although now more than 200 feet shy of that title, and nearly 20 years old, to our thinking she's still the most handsome — and masculine — looking of big motoryachts. Anyway, Limitless shot the bridge gap at about 1/10th of a knot, with just a few feet of clearance on each side. What had been just a fascinating spectacle suddenly turned hilarious, however, when a police truck, sirens wailing, roared up the road to the bridge barrier. Obviously it could go no farther, because the roadbed was pointing 90 degrees into the air and because the king of ladies' lingerie's 2146-ton megayacht was in the way. The thieves must have had a giggle and a half as they sped away, the sound of the siren on the helpless police car growing fainter by the second.

The next morning we were at the huge and exemplarily stocked Budget Marine in Cole Bay, when we asked a guy at the dinghy dock if he locked his dinghy. He said he did — ever since he had his dinghy stolen in Mexico about seven years before. Naturally, that led to a conversation. He didn't want his name used because he was "keeping a low profile", but said he was from Long Beach and knew Greg King and Jennifer Sanders of the schooner Coco Kai, which after many years of cruising has been put up for sale in the Far East.

Because of its unrivaled Internet access, the Latitude office in St. Martin has been the McDonalds next to immigration, customs and the Simpson Bay Lagoon lift bridge. By about 2 p.m., we can no longer take the ambience or the smell of the place, so we go kitty-corner across the lift bridge to the St. Martin YC. We hadn't even sat down when Chris Rousseau of Dallas came up and asked, "Aren't you the Grand Poobah?" He and Julie Jacoby had crewed aboard Jim and Rebecca Casciani's C&C 40 Mariposa in the 2003 Ha-Ha, and they'd just finished a week's charter in the St. Martin area. A hour later we saw a guy at the next table wearing a Baja Ha-Ha T-shirt. It was Tom Kohrs with Cary Purvis of Alameda- and Berkeley-based Island Packet 37 Dragon's Toy. Their story was so interesting we're holding it, too, until next month.

Cruising in Mexico is absolutely brilliant, but if you like a lot of wind, a lot of regattas, a lot of young folks, and a lot of wild partying, cruising the Caribbean might be even more brilliant for you.

"We joined the Mexico Class of 2012-2013 a little late, as we didn't cross the border until January 21," report Michael Moyer and Anita Chapanond of the Newport Beach-based Alajuela 48 Cherokee Rose. "We did all our paperwork at the 'three windows' — port captain, immigration, and customs — in Ensenada. Despite the many promises that checking into Mexico here would be faster and more efficient, for us it was the same as ever. We were told, however, that they will open a second 'three windows' office near the Cruise Port Village Marina, which is closer to the main harbor. It would be for private as opposed to commercial vessels. But we wouldn't hold our breath. Finally, for those Bashing back to California, be advised that the Punta Tosca light, about 150 miles north of Cabo, was not operational as of February 1."

"We had hoped to enjoy cruising New Zealand in the Southern Hemisphere summer, followed by the Southern Hemisphere winter in the tropical New Caledonia/Vanuatu area," report Steve and Dorothy Darden, formerly of Tiburon, but for the last many years residents of their Pacific-roaming M&M 52 cat Adagio. "But our plans have changed, and instead we will spend this summer with family in the States, then do Australia — and espcially Tasmania — during the Southern Hemipshere summer. With the onset of winter in 2014, we'll move north again up the east coast of Australia to the Great Barrier Reef."

It's great to have options, isn't it? By the way, their comment about plans to sail the east coast of Australia reminds us of an 'old style' check-in during a race up the coast of Australia. Many years ago, one entry on the Brisbane to Gladstone Race brought along carrier pigeons to relay their daily positions. We can only imagine what the inside of the boat looked — and smelled — like. Alas, most of the pigeons were never seen again.

With Somali pirates having all but closed off the Indian Ocean approaches to the Red Sea, circumnavigators are having to go via South Africa's Cape of Good Hope. Jim and Kent Milski of the Lake City, Colorado-based Schionning 49 Sea Level did it a couple of months ago, before continuing on up to foggy Namibia, and then crossing to tropical Brazil. Scott Stolnitz of the Marina del Rey-based Switch 51 Beach House is about to do the same.

"After some R&R in Santa Barbara and London, I’ve returned to Beach House in Richard's Bay with Alexandra Deegan of the U.K., who will crew with me to Cape Town," reports Stolnitz. "That leg will be about 1,000 miles, and will feature stops at Durban, Port Elizabeth, Knysna, Mossell Bay, around Cape Agulhas, the southern tip of Africa, and into the Simon’s Town/Cape Town area. Once there, Alexandra will be replaced for the Atlantic Ocean crossing by Nicola Woodrow, who already crewed for me across the Indian Ocean. Whiile at Richards Bay, Alexandra and I took a tour of the Thorny Bush Game Park, which is immediately adjacent to Kruger National Park, and did a quick one-day tour of Swaziland. We saw elephants, lions, rhinoceros, a cheetah and a leopard — as well as all the usual suspects. It was a terrific experience!"

"After a quiet couple of months of healing from my broken neck, I'm feeling fully recovered, and am back in Tahiti," reports Liz Clark of the Santa Barbara-based Cal 40 Swell. "We had a close call a few weeks ago with cyclone Gary, so there is no need to rush Swell back into the water. Fortunately, my new friend Poema is hosting me on her organic vanilla farm, so I don't have to live in the yard. Depending on the inspiration of the day, I'm either writing, doing Swell projects, or helping out in the organic garden."

There are three remaining big dates in the Mexico cruising season: March 19-21, the Vallarta YC's 21st Annual Banderas Bay Regatta out of Paradise Marina in Nuevo Vallarta. Great sailing conditions, great venue, and strictly fun sailing for cruising boats. And free.Sometime in April, the Club Cruceros de La Paz Bay Fest, which is usually three or four days of social events, and at least one day of fun racing. Although the event still isn't listed in the club's website, we can't imagine they won't host the popular event again this year. Also free. May 2-4 — The Hidden Port YC's Loreto Fest fundraising social festival at Puerto Escondido. Last year was an off year, but this is traditionally the biggest cruiser event in the Sea of Cortez. Yet again, free.

How is your cruising season going? Write us at . We'd love to hear from you.

Missing the pictures? See the March 2013 eBook!


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