With reports this month on Mike
Harker starting his 11-month circumnavigation with Wanderlust
III; from Crystal Wind on the
skipper having to issue his first mayday in 30 years; from Mico Verde on a punctual cruising from
Seattle to Australia; from Aquarelle
on a fourth season of cruising in the Caribbean, including Carnival
in Trinidad; from Fleetwood in South
Africa; from the Wanderer on walking
the docks at Marina Vallarta, and all the Cruise
Notes we were able to jam in.
III - Hunter Mariner 49
A One-Year Circumnavigation
I've finally gotten my new boat out of the Miami Boat Show so
I can start my circumnavigation. It's going to be a quick one,
for if all goes well, I'll be in Australia for the Sydney Boat
Show in July, then continue on to South Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean,
and back to Miami for next year's boat show. Even though my boat
is going to be displayed at some stops along the way, I'm intending
to complete the trip in 11 months.
It sure feels great to get back on the water again! I find it
exhilarating to be able to go from one exotic locale to another
using only the forces of nature. I really missed that during
the 18 months I waited for my new boat to finally be ready. And
what a beautiful boat she is! Hunter listens to their customers
and dealers, so even some of my design input made it into the
'Bluewater' version of the 49.
There were a few things about my Hunter 466 that I thought needed
improving, and a few things I wanted to add to the new boat for
my own safety and comfort while single or shorthanding in heavy
seas. For example, I carry an emergency rudder that stows away
until needed, then fastens to the stern with already-fitted pad-eyes.
I also have a Viking 6-person SOLAS liferaft and two EPIRBS,
including one that is a personal model. I have two complete charting
and plotting systems - the Navionics Platinum charts for the
world on the RayMarine E120, and Nobeltec world charts on
a laptop powered by an isolated 12-volt battery pack. This
gives me options that I hope I never need to use.
The Bluewater version of the Mariner 49 has a 68-ft mast that
is seven feet taller than on the standard model, and a deeper
keel. I have a full-roach main with three inline reefs, a self-tacking
staysail, and a 120% genoa. I also have the 8-gph watermaker,
so I changed one of the three 80-gallon water tanks into
a reserve fuel tank with transfer pump to the 120-gallon main
tank. The water, not the fuel, is filtered through a twin-filter
FilterBoss cleansing system.
I have a twin propeller bow-thruster for tight marinas, a Flex-O-Fold
three-blade folding propeller, and the Fischer-Panda 12 KW genset.
I had the Hunter stainless department build an arch/bimini/davit
system similar to the one on my old boat, and added three 75-watt
solar panels on the top. By the way, the davit system for my
dinghy works really well, no matter if I'm retrieving or launching.
I had three journalists along from German television during my
first week of sailing. Although I was born in Southern California
and still live there, I have a lot of longtime contacts in Germany,
and will be doing shows for German television as I go around
I'd been so busy preparing my new 49-footer to circumnavigate
that I didn't get time to take many photos in the beginning.
But now it's different, particularly since I met such a photogenic
subject as Kimberly McKeag, who will be sailing with me down
to Georgetown. She's 30ish, from Toronto, and I met her at the
show in Miami. She has her Power Squadron license, but needs
some sea time so she can sit for her Coast Guard license. It
was the perfect excuse for her to sail with me to Georgetown.
She hopes to rejoin me for another week in the South Pacific.
I'm off for Jamaica and Panama, and on that latter leg expect
the typical boisterous conditions. I will be providing regular
reports for Latitude 38
as I go along. In addition, I'll have my www.sail-wanderlust.com website and blog
up and running before I leave Panama. I hope to see some of the
Puddle Jump fleet when I reach French Polynesia.
- mike 03/05/07
Readers - Harker used to bike along
the shores of Santa Monica Bay. One day he stopped at the Hunter
dealer in Marina del Rey and picked up a copy of Latitude. After reading about the Baja
Ha-Ha, the non-sailor bought a Hunter 34 and did the Ha-Ha
with several friends from Germany. Following a singlehanded Baja
Bash, he bought Wanderlust II, a Hunter 466, at the Miami
Boat Show. He singlehanded her across the Atlantic to the Med.
Sailing with various crew around the Med, he then crossed the
Atlantic again to the Caribbean, Panama, French Polynesia, and
was headed to Hawaii when the rudder broke. Once that was fixed,
he sailed to Hawaii and back to California. Inspired by the experience,
he and Hunter worked together so he could do a one-year circumnavigation
with the new Hunter Mariner 49 Bluewater model. After the circumnavigation,
Harker wants to do another Ha-Ha and a lot more sailing on Banderas
Bay in Mexico.
Did we mention that a hang-glider accident left Harker in a coma
for a long time, and that for a about a decade he was unable
to walk? Although doctors assured him that he'd never walk again,
after much tremendous effort and dedication, he proved them wrong.
He still has no feeling beneath his knees, and can't stand in
one place without touching something. Nonetheless, Harker expects
to do much of the circumnavigation short or singlehanded.
We believe in Mike!
Wind - Brewer 45
Martin A. Vienneau
My First Mayday
After more than 50 years of sailing, with 30 of them on my Brewer
45 ketch, I had to issue a mayday call.
It all started when I was forced to take Teruo, my longtime Japanese
friend and shipmate, to a hospital in Mazatlan. His kidneys had
stopped functioning. After watching him suffer in the hospital
for several days, I had no choice but, with a heavy heart, put
him on a plane back to his native Japan. Teruo was the best crew
I ever had - not to mention the fact that for the last four years
his sushi had been a big hit at all the cruiser potlucks.
So there I was, with no choice but to singlehand Crystal Wind
back to San Diego. On the way up the coast of Baja, I took on
fuel at Turtle Bay from Servicos Anabela, a panga that had a
big fuel tank with fuel gauges, filters - the works. Their panga
looked like a gas station, but they come out to your boat. It's
very convenient, but . . .
I told them I had a Baja Filter, but they assured me their diesel
didn't need to be filtered - plus it would take too long. After
they assured me once again that they filtered the fuel twice
while ashore and another two times on the fuel panga, I let them
fill my tanks without using the Baja Filter. You live and you
learn. At age 76, I guess I'm still learning.
The first night out, motoring past Cedros, wasn't a problem.
But the next day, with 20+ knots of wind on the nose, my Yanmar
started talking to me in low RPMs about halfway to San Quintin.
I assumed the problem was with my filters, but I didn't want
to try to change them in the big seas. The closest anchorage
was Punta Cutas. It's not a highly recommended anchorage, but
I figured it might be good enough for me to change the filters.
Since it was already dark, I decided that I might even spend
the night there.
Figuring that I'd drop the hook in 15 to 20 feet to get some
protection from the big northwesterly swells, I eased off the
throttle. Big mistake! The engine quit. It was a panic situation,
as there was no way that I could get sail up in time. I quickly
dropped the anchor and 300 feet of chain. It held, but I couldn't
get far enough in to get protection from the lumbering swells.
So Crystal Wind rocked from gunwale to gunwale all night
long while I held Princess, my kitty, in my arms. She cried her
little eyes out all night long in fear.
In the morning I determined that it wasn't just the filters,
as the injector pump wasn't working. The anchor seemed to be
holding, but if it dragged, I would be on the rocks. After a
few hours of thinking it over, I decided that I had no choice.
So I put out a Mayday.
A 50-something-ft powerboat heading north answered my call. He
didn't want to tow me into those seas, but said that if it was
necessary, he would tow me to the next safe anchorage. Better
yet, he made contact with the Coast Guard in Long Beach, which
called the Mexican Navy for assistance. The skipper of the powerboat
informed me that a Mexican warship was steaming down from Ensenada,
and asked if I could hold out. I said that I could, because at
the moment it wasn't life-threatening. I thanked him profusely
for his help.
When the warship arrived, they sent over an English-speaking
officer along with a chief engineer and four enlisted men. I
thought to myself, 'Wow, where does the Mexican Navy get these
people?' They all came right out of Central Casting: bright,
courteous and cheerful. They were just fantastic. My fears evaporated
and I was back in my element - adventure on the high seas!
The officer explained that the captain didn't want to tow me
in the big seas because it was too dangerous, which is why he
sent the chief engineer over. They were going to try to get my
engine going! The engineer and two of the enlisted men spent
all afternoon in the engine room, with the boat still rocking
from gunwale to gunwale. "Are you all right in there with
all that rocking?" I asked. "Yes," he replied,
"I love it." He then showed me the filters, heavily
saturated with water. Thank God I had spares - two large Racors,
plus one on the engine. "But damn," I swore to myself,
"there must be at least 10% water in the diesel in my tanks."
"Well, you know they make more money selling water than
diesel," replied the chief engineer. I wasn't amused, but
I saw the humor in it.
It was getting late, so the engineer said that he'd take the
injectors back to the ship and clean them, then bring them back
in the morning. Since it was still rough, he asked if I wanted
to spend the night on their ship, although it meant I'd have
to leave Princess behind. "No way," I said, "I'm
not going to leave her all alone. So I had another long night
of rocking and rolling.
When the chief engineer returned in the morning, he decided,
like me, that the injector pump wasn't working. After talking
about the problem on the radio with the captain of the warship,
he said, "I guess we'll have to tow you, we've got permission
to take you to San Quintin, the next port - but you'll have to
sign a release." No problem, I'd sign!
So they towed me out to the ship with a 300-ft hawser. They wanted
me to run it through the hawsehole and tie it off to Crystal
Wind's samsom post. But I wouldn't let them. "Even though
my boat is heavily built," I told them, "the post would
be yanked right off in these seas." So we put the line across
the deck, through one hawsehole and out the other, making a tow
line of about 20 feet in front of the boat. It had a solid grip
on the entire bow. The captain insisted that two of his men stay
on Crystal Wind during the tow. So off we went, warship,
Crystal Wind, crew, kitty and I. All night long and into
the next day we went, doing a steady seven knots.
You know how when you're going into the seas there is a hesitation
at the crest of a wave before you race down the other side? Well,
when you're being towed by a warship the size of a destroyer,
there is no hesitation. The Crystal Wind's 22 tons went
straight through the waves like a torpedo, rose briefly, then
surfed right into the next wave. There was no rock and roll.
The ride was quite nice - exciting in a satisfying way. God,
I was proud of Crystal Wind.
With three of us now aboard, I asked about night watches. "No
need," they repled, "as there are two men on the warship
watching us from the fantail." The ship's floodlights were
on us all well, so I started thinking about what I would serve
my mates for supper. Paella! While in Mazatlan, I'd found this
huge tin of paella, with shrimp in the shell and everything.
All you had to do was heat it up. I dug a bag of chicken wings
out of the freezer and saturated them in a lot of olive oil and
garlic. I put them in the wok with the paella and baked some
rolls made from Krusteeze Quick Bread Mix. My two crew looked
at each other and thought, "He's making paella in these
Later I heard one of the officers check in with the captain of
the ship. The captain must have asked what we'd had for dinner
because I heard the officer say, "Paella." Then he
started to laugh. When I asked him what was so funny, he said,
"The captain says he should have come aboard!"
After dinner, I left the oven on to keep the boat warm. The officers
and I settled down for a long, steady night. I gratefully slept
in the aft cabin for the first time since Isla Cedros. In the
morning we enjoyed fresh-squeezed orange juice, buttermilk blueberry
pancakes, and hand-ground Starbucks coffee for breakfast. That's
what I call being a gentleman at sea.
Finally, San Quintin lazily came into view. It was flat, calm
and quite beautiful. My new navy friends towed me into the inner
bay with their longboat. At long last, I dropped the anchor,
safe and sound. After handshakes and many hugs, they left to
go back on patrol.
The point that I want to get across is that the Mexican Navy
was truly fantastic. They were not only efficient, but had full
command of the situation from the moment they arrived until the
moment they ever so gently dropped me at San Quintin. The captain
and crew were the best, I'll never forget them!
It took me another three weeks to get to Ensenada, and finally
to San Diego, where I am now cooling my heels on my private mooring
in the bay.
- martin 03/10/07
Readers - The Mexican Navy - like a
lot of other government agencies in Mexico - is a much more professional
organization that it was just a few years ago. It's great to
Now that Martin, who is 76, is back in San Diego, what's he going
to do? Get ready for more cruising, of course. You can read about
it in Cruise Notes.
Mico Verde - Westsail 32
Warren Johnson and
We bought our Westsail 32 in San Diego in the fall of '03, and
had her trucked to Seattle where we planned to live aboard and
refit her in time to start cruising by August of '04. We managed
to do it, too, without going too crazy in the dreary Seattle
winter. There were a few nights, however, where we drifted off
to sleep with the help of varnish fumes. In any event, we departed
Shilshole Marina on August 16 - on schedule - to start our cruising
We spent five months in Mexico, practicing our Spanish, doing
some inland travel, and eating some great - and not so great
- Mexican food. We began our Pacific crossing from Zihuatanejo
in mid-April. As crossings go, ours was pretty uneventful - except
when we jibed to port and started heading south to cross the
equator at 135 West. The problem is that the boomkin fairleads
cracked under the pressure of the jibe. We fixed them with tarred
marlin and they held fine for the remainder of our trip. After
29 days and 3,500 ocean miles, we were happy to set foot ashore
at Hiva Oa in the Marquesas.
We then spent seven wonderful, awe-inspiring months cruising
west through the various island groups - French Polynesia, the
Cook Islands, American Samoa and Fiji. Some of our favorite destinations
were Tahuata of the Marquesas, Rangiroa of the Tuamotus, and
Suwarrow of the Northern Cook Islands. We had great weather,
with steady tradewinds the entire season, so we only put 50 hours
on the old Perkins 4-108. That November we left Mico Verde at
Vuda Point Marina in Fiji for the tropical cyclone season, and
flew back to Seattle where we both worked for seven months. When
June of '06 rolled around, we couldn't wait to get back to cruising.
Once back in Fiji, we hauled Mico Verde and hired a company to
strip off the bottom paint. We think they went through eight
colors of bottom paint before they got to the gelcoat, and probably
lightened the boat by 100 pounds. Our Westsail had a few osmotic
blisters, but they weren't too serious, so we let her dry off
for a few weeks while we did some overland travel. We returned
just in time to see the workers put on the final layers of bottom
paint. We splashed here, spent another week or so attending to
a few projects, and then headed off to cruise Fiji.
The weather across the entire Pacific in '06 was a little bit
off - at least compared to the previous year. As a result, we
sat through a lot of storms on the hook, and had front after
front roll through for the whole season. In fact, after a month
of trying to cruise the resort-ridden Mamanuca Islands of Fiji,
we decided that it was time for a change of scenery and made
the 400-mile trek west to Vanuatu.
We had a very bumpy ride, but arrived on the island of Tanna
ready to get back to real cruising. Tanna is a beautiful, untouched
island with an active volcano, hot water springs, cargo cults
and lovely people. Overall, we spent about six weeks cruising
through the islands of Vanuatu. In late October, we arrived in
the northern port of Luganville on the island of Espiritu Santo.
When the weather faxes showed a low forming, we decided to leave
for Australia a bit earlier than we planned so we didn't get
stuck waiting for a better weather window. It turned out not
to be such a good idea.
A day after we left, the weather faxes showed the low growing
in force - and it was soon declared to be Tropical Cyclone Xavier!
We sweated bullets, of course, but the only thing we could do
was move away from the low as fast as possible. The wind blew
a steady 30 knots, and the waves were the biggest we'd ever seen,
with some of them as high as 20 feet and breaking. But we made
our fastest noon-to-noon runs ever on that passage, 175 miles
each for two days in a row. Within four days we were safely out
of the track of Xavier and into steady trades and sunshine, something
that was all too rare last season. Those days were a great close
to the season, as we arrived in Bundaberg, where we readied Mico
Verde to wait while we worked in the U.S. for three months.
We have a few projects lined up for the boat before we start
cruising Australia, including replacing our old heat exchanger,
getting a boatwright to look over our bowsprit and boomkin, and
touching up the brightwork. We've found that our stamina for
boat projects is always strongest after being away from cruising,
so we'll try to make the most of our time before cyclone season
ends in May.
- warren & stephanie
Aquarelle - Feeling 446
Terry & Evelyn Drew
Carnival In Trinidad
This is our fourth season of spending the winter aboard our Feeling
446 Aquarelle in the Caribbean. We're presently in Tyrrel
Bay, Carriacou, after a 20-hour trip back from Trinidad. We'd
sailed to Trinidad intending to spend just two weeks, but ended
up spending a month. Carnival in Trinidad, said to be the second
largest after the one in Rio - was great. So were the people,
both the locals and cruisers.
What an amazing place Trinidad is. And the weather is great.
The temperature is 85 to 90 degrees with light winds during the
day, then drops down to 72, with dew, at night.
We stayed in Chaguaramas, which is somewhat isolated from Port
of Spain, which is where all the Carnival activities take place,
but is one of the major yacht storage and repair facilities in
the Caribbean. We had to 'commute' to Port of Spain for the festivites,
most of which take place in the evening.
The Carnival parades and competitions go on for miles, so it
was nice to see the D'john trucks in the middle of the various
tribes. We guess that keeping your tail feathers dry is the key
thing for revelers. The pan drum bands are in a completely different
area, but the music is really great.
After Carnival some of the cruisers opted to go in groups to
the Orinoco River in Venezuela, while others continued on to
- terry & evelyn 03/06/07
Fleetwood - Naja 30
Jack Van Ommen
Setting Out From South Africa
(Gig Harbor, WA)
Tomorrow I'll be rounding the Cape of Good Hope and entering
the Atlantic Ocean, which will allow me to point my bow toward
the Americas. The Atlantic will be Fleetwood's home for
the next few years.
I hadn't counted on spending nearly three months in South Africa,
but I needed to take care of some maintenance in Durban and Simon's
Town, the latter just outside of Cape Town, and in this part
of the world you always need to wait for weather windows. I spent
half of the three months in Durban, which was one of the best
and most enjoyable stops on my two-year voyage. The marina was
within a short walking distance of the town center, and two yacht
clubs, the Royal Natal and the Durban YC, competed for the praises
of visitors. And just about all boating equipment was available
at the nearby chandleries. Over the years I'd heard rave reports
about the hospitality one gets in South Africa and the beauty
of the country. Nonetheless, both exceeded my expectations.
We're all familiar with the terrible crime problem in South Africa,
so some cruisers prefer Richards Bay over Durban, which is further
away from the mostly impoverished native urban population. But
the marinas in Richards Bay are far from town and there's not
much to do there anyway. Practically all the white Durbanites
who formerly inhabited the town center of Durban have moved to
the outskirts and become 'SubD(b)urbanites'. They've been replaced
in the town center by colored and black Africans. I did see some
very attractive residential areas with homes, landscaping, and
tree-lined roads that would be the envy of upscale California
towns - were it not for the high walls and security systems.
Behind these walls white men still live in a world that most
blacks can't imagine. I don't like to say it, but after talking
with the locals, reading the newspapers and listening to the
radio, there seems to be little hope for the entire African continent.
Christmas in Durban was a memorable experience. The Sacred Heart
Cathedral had a wonderful service in both English and French.
The Cardinal, a black African, had gone to seminary in Louvain,
and celebrated parts of the mass in French. There was also a
French-speaking Flemish priest. The choir part that sang in French
were mostly Congolese refugees. Because the cathedral is downtown,
the congregation had changed from mostly white to mostly black.
But it's a vibrant and close community led by some truly caring
Christmas was also made special by the four Polish female crew
of two Mantra 28s, Asia and Ania. The two boats
are doing a doublehanded around-the-world race. The two boats
arrived in Richards Bay from Mauritius a few days after me, flying
the Polish ensign. The two on Ania were Joanna Raczka,
skipper, and her 22-year-old crew Aleksandra Peszkowska. The
duo on Asia were Joanna Pajkowska, skipper, and Karolina
Bratek, her 20-year-old crew. Pajkowska had done the 2000 OSTAR
from England to the Caribbean without any sponsorship, and finished
respectably. She has also been a volunteer crewmember in the
Royal National Lifeboat Society on the South Coast of England.
She showed me the burgee from the Mazurey, which was left here
at the Point YC by fellow countrywoman Krystyna Choynowski-Liskiewicz,
who was the first woman to singlehand around the world. Naomi
James is usually credited with that record, but she actually
didn't do it until three years later.
The two boats are owned and sponsored by the Mantra yard, and
the circumnavigations are being run as a race between the two.
In any event, the four ladies cooked up a storm on Christmas
Eve, and I happened to be the only non-Polish guest. They served
borsht, piroghees and special pastries, and sang Polish Christmas
songs. What fun. Having launched the two boats in the Italian
Adriatic port of Monfalcone, I learned that they had sailed to
Panama, across the Pacific, spent the cyclone season in Australia,
then continued on to the Chagos, Reunion and Mauritius before
arriving at Richards Bays. They are now on their way across the
South Atlantic to Brazil.
While in Durban, I also had the unusual opportunity to be joined
by five other sailors who have either been sailing solo all the
time or most of the time. Starting with the oldest, they were
Georges Prat, 75, of Bayonne, France-based 39-ft Lerges;
Philippe Blochet, 71, of the Paimpol, Brittany, France-based
35-ft steel sloop Ar Sklerder; myself; Bill Hughes, 67,
of the Fremantle, Australia-based Westsail 32 Kymika;
Dieter Pollak, 66, of the Vancouver-based Amazon 44 Amazon
1, and Noel French, 58, of the Plymouth-based Bavaria 44
Prat, alias 'Six Fingers', is the oldest and, having lost the
use of four fingers on his left hand in an industrial incident,
is the only genuine singlehander. He's on his second circumnavigation.
You could never tell when he was being serious or mischievous,
because he always had this mocking squint in his eyes. He doesn't
look anywhere close to 75, and most conversations start with
your having to try to guess his age. Someone once told me once
that for every year you're on the ocean, you rejuvenate a year.
Blochet, who is the second oldest, is also on his second circumnavigation.
He started his first one in '96, and was rendered unconscious
by a mild stroke while between Cape Town and St. Helena. He didn't
bother to see a doctor until he returned to France, where he
had an operation. He sold his boat and bought a camping trailer,
but after a few years had the irresistible urge to do another
Bill Hughes immigrated to Australia from North Wales when he
was 29, and his ultimate destination is Hollyhead, Northern Wales.
Dieter Pollak, a German-Canadian, was born in Sudetenland and
grew up in Westphalia. He started building Amazon steel sailboats
in Vancouver, then took off aboard one. His wife joins him from
time to time. Noel French, who at 68 is the youngster in our
group, is classified as handicapped, having been run over by
a car 10 years ago. He was clinically dead twice because his
heart stopped twice during operations, so he jokes that he's
been resurrected more times than Jesus Christ. He broke his boom
on the way from Panama to Alaska, and was dismasted near New
Zealand, so he's had some troubles.
Several of the six of us have taken crew or passengers on part
of our voyage. Bill Hughes, Noel French and I haven't taken anyone
else aboard until now.
We left Durban in a 10-boat fleet, taking advantage of a good
window along the 'wild coast'. As many know, the coast here is
infamous for enormous waves that are created when a southwesterly
gale or more builds up against the fast south-flowing Aghulas
Current. We all listened carefully to weatherman Fred Meyer on
the Peri-Peri Net at 7 a.m. and again at 5 p.m. to get the green
light for a long enough window to carry us to whatever the next
port would be. From Durban, in particular, it's a long stretch
with no place to hide, and it's dangerous, because if a southwesterly
does kick up, it does so with a vengeance.
Our first stop was East London, a true river port. We were locked
in there for 10 days by the weather. Most boats then made it
to Mossel Bay. But the three slowest boats, my 30-footer, a 31-footer,
and a 32-footer, stopped in Plettenberg Bay to sit out the southwesterly.
From there I made it all the way to Simon's Town. 'S-Town' is
in False Bay, and is just a short train ride from downtown Cape
Town. 'S-Town' is a delightful old town with a large navy base
and older homes at beach level and newer ones on the surrounding
hills. The False Bay YC treated us with the then-taken-for-granted
South African-style hospitality. Some of the boats of our group
had gone on to Cape Town, but the S-Towners all agreed that we'd
picked the better spot. Besides, the Royal Cape YC is far from
town, and the moorage is more expensive.
I celebrated my 70th birthday on February 28. My cruising pals
spoiled me with a party, dinner, gifts, cards and their attention.
It was very special. For my birthday, three couples and I toured
the wine country near Cape Town. The wineries and vegetation
reminded me of Sonoma County. I made three trips into Cape Town
in the commuter train that follows the breathtaking coast for
part of the way. They even have a restaurant car. Cape Town is
beautifully laid out beneath Table Mountain.
But now, it's time for me to head north into the Atlantic.
- jack 03/04/07
Walking The Docks
In the two years since we last visited Puerto Vallarta Marina,
which is located at the busy edge of Puerto Vallarta near the
airport, much seems to have changed. While the marina was pretty
much full two years ago, there were lots of empty storefronts
and restaurants, and many of the condos surrounding the facility
looked empty and rundown. As for the restrooms, they were disgusting.
In just two years, just about everything but the deplorable condition
of the restrooms has changed. The marina is jam packed, the marina-front
restaurants seem busy, the condos looked occupied and spiffed
up - it's hopping.
We'd taken a $2 bus in from 40-minute-distant Punta Mita at the
tip of Banderas Bay to visit our old friend Barritt Neal aboard
his Peterson 44 Serendipity. We'd last seen him and his
lady Renee Blaul on the hook in St. Barth three years ago. Having
had to resort to using WD-40 to start his 26-year-old Perkins
diesel on the way up from Panama, Barritt decided he'd better
come up with a solution to his engine problems before making
his sixth Baja Bash.
Shortly after entering the marina perimeter, we were idling in
front of a Yamaha repair facility trying to decide whether they
might have a small fastener we needed. An attractive woman came
up behind us and said, "Can I help you find something?"
We were a little taken aback because we're seldom approached
by women who aren't hookers, and this woman clearly wasn't in
The woman turned out to be Caroline Del Mar, not all of which
is her real name. Like a lot of Americans in Mexico, she had
a story. Having once had the great big house, the luxury car
and all the material things, for one reason or another - we didn't
really want to know - she'd given it all up to sail south from
San Diego 18 months ago. Because it didn't turn out to be the
best crewing experience, she prefers not to name the 41-footer
or the captain whom she and the other girl aboard abandoned in
San Blas. The other woman took off for Costa Rica, while Del
Mar found herself working on a whale-watching boat out of Vallarta.
"I love it here! I'm a Mexican now," says Del Mar,
who has enough enthusiasm and positive attitude to power a megayacht.
"I love the weather, the people, the bay, the food, the
popsicles, the tranquilo atmosphere. It's just a wonderfully
different vibe from the States. Plus, I never want to be cold
again in my life."
Although Del Mar now works for Mr. Mahi Mahi fishing charters,
an outfit opened up with the proceeds the owner win in a fishing
contest, she does way more than just book fishing charters. "I
am," she says with utter confidence and a winning manner,
"the 'go to' gal in Puerto Vallarta for charters and tours,
vacation planning, boat sales and real estate, and everything
else you can think of. I'm always happy to answer questions,
solve dilemmas, assist travelers - whatever."
Indeed, with there being only a slim possibility of any future
benefit to her, she'd interrupted ordering a lemonada from a
nearby bar to see if we needed help. She then took us inside
the Yamaha shop to help us get a fastener from a place that normally
doesn't sell fasteners. 'Go To' Del Mar explains that she only
works in her marina front office part of the time. The rest of
her waking hours, she's busy meeting as many people as she can
- even if it's just confused-looking people such as ourselves
- in order to increase and broaden her client base. Among other
things, she's looking for clients to charter La Evasion,
a Beneteau 456 that's well-known on Banderas Bay and was recently
purchased by her brother to put into charter service. If you've
got any questions for the Go To Gal, .
After wishing good luck to Del Mar, we headed down to F-Dock
to find Barritt. As we entered the gate, we were met by Joe Lacey,
who had done the '95 Baja
Ha-Ha with his wife Lori aboard their Reno-based Island Packet
40 Dos Amantes. They'd planned to sail to the South Pacific,
but something came up.
"When we got to Mazatlan," Joe explained, "we
discovered that we'd fried all the batteries. So we limped down
to P.V. to get them replaced. After spending a couple of months
here, we looked at each other and said, "We really love
this place, let's not go to the South Pacific right away."
So they decided to see if they could make some money chartering
their boat. As we understand it, Americans are now allowed to
own 100% of Mexican corporations - except in certain sensitive
areas such as maritime activities. So the Laceys had to find
a Mexican partner to own 51%. Yet through some legal process,
that person signed over 100% of all future profits. We're not
entirely clear on the details, but it took them about six months
and $7,500 to become legal. That's a lot of cash, but it hasn't
taken them long to start recovering it and more.
"We've been slammed since the end of October," says
a proud Joe. "We usually go out six days a week, but several
times we've worked more than 10 days in a row." While the
couple can take up to 15 people out at a time on their 40-footer,
they would be packed in like sardines - as are the typical charter
boats on Banderas Bay. Seeking a better clientele, the Laceys
limit their boat to six to eight guests, and only accept groups
in which everybody knows each other. They do four, six and eight-hour
charters, for which they charge $400, $575, and $750, respectively.
"And we love doing it, too," says an obviously happy
Lori, "because we get to sail all the time, see whales,
dolphins, turtles, and manta rays, and be surrounded by people
who are having a wonderful time."
The couple say there are three things that set their charters
apart from most others: 1) They won't do 'cattle charters', 2)
They let their guests do everything on the boat, including backing
her out of the berth, and 3) Lori serves gourmet food instead
of the usual ham sandwiches. "Our signature," confirms
Lori, "is that I serve just baked chocolate chip cookies
and strawberries on the way back in. And not just any chocolate
chip cookies, but ones with chocolate chips and brown sugar imported
from the States."
Apparently word has gotten around that the Laceys do a 'cut above'
kind of charter, so they've been very, very busy, and have been
getting repeat clients. "One woman from Washington had so
much fun that she chartered our boat for five days in a row,"
About this time we bumped into Barritt, whose Serendipity
is berthed just across the dock from Dos Amantes. He confirmed
that late just about every afternoon he sees a group of very
happy-looking people disembarking from the Laceys's Island Packet.
If you ever might be interested in a charter aboard Dos Amantes,
you can contact them .
At 67 years of age, Barritt, like many older active cruisers,
appears to be in excellent shape. It might have something to
do with the fact that he's been cruising almost nonstop from
'91, in Mexico, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, the East Coast,
back in the Caribbean, and back in Mexico again. And he makes
an effort to stay in shape. "I got my mile jog in this morning,"
Unfortunately, Serendipity's Perkins 4-154 - not a lot
of the 62-hp engines were made - wasn't doing so well. Convinced
that he and Renee couldn't do a Bash with the engine, the question
became whether to install a new Yanmar or rebuild the 26-year-old
engine. It's a no-brainer, right? You go with the new engine.
Or do you?
Barritt explained that while he originally dreamed about putting
in a new Yanmar, it wouldn't be so simple - and it would be about
three times more expensive. "The biggest problem,"
he said, pointing down into the engine cavity, "is that
most of the old stuff wouldn't fit. I'd have to redo the refrigeration,
watermaker and all those things. In addition, I'm sure that I'd
need a new shaft, new cutlass bearing, new prop and other stuff."
Figuring that it would cost $12,000 for just the new engine,
plus another $8,000 for installation and necessary modifications,
he decided to go with a $6,500 rebuild. One of the considerations
is that he'd bought a full rebuild kit back in '98. When 'Teapot
Tony' gets done with the job in a month or so, Barritt expects
to be able to get another 7,000 hours out of the old Perkins.
"She was a good engine for a long time. In fact, I got saltwater
into her twice many years ago, but it didn't do any permanent
damage. The first time happened while crossing to the South Pacific.
But I just pulled the injectors, put a towel over the top of
them, put a drop of oil in the injector holes, and hit the starter
a couple of times. It took four hours and a lot of oil changes
while in eight-foot seas, but it fired right up and ran great.
I think the cause was a clogged anti-siphon valve."
Barritt figures that running the engine without load for all
these years - to charge the batteries and run the refrigeration
and watermaker - have done more damage than the saltwater.
Despite going with an engine rebuild, Barritt has spent many
hot and sweaty hours in the Peterson 44's engine room, and not
just cleaning things up.
"Ours is the last of the 200 Peterson 44s that were built,
and she's been a tremendous boat. In fact, the only gripe I've
got is that the engine bilge is so shallow that when we heel
over in rough weather, the water spills onto the cabin sole.
So, I decided to fix that by making the bilge deeper. I got a
big surprise when I started digging down there and found that
the manufacturer had put cement over the top of the lead. I felt
like John Henry for a few days chipping away at that stuff."
After talking to some other owners, he learned that all the 44s
- for whatever reason - have cement on top of the keels.
Current plans call for the couple - Renee, an RN, was in San
Diego at the time keeping her finger on the pulse of that line
of work - to do the Baja Bash, something Barritt has already
done about five times. "It's no big deal - and certainly
nothing compared to taking the Thorny Path from the East Coast
to the Caribbean. That's 1,300 miles rather than 700 miles, and
you have to start your day at 3 a.m. and quit by 10 a.m. We just
hated that. If we had to do it again, we'd definitely take the
Does the fact that the couple are heading back to San Diego mean
they are swallowing the anchor?
"No, no, no, no!" says Barritt. "We're going to
spend about a year giving Serendipity a complete refit.
She's been an absolutely wonderful boat, with no serious problems,
but she deserves a refit. It will take about a year, at which
time we'll head back to Mexico for more cruising. We'll base
out of Banderas Bay, but we'll be cruising the entire country.
In fact, we even liked Huatulco a bit when we came through this
year. The people in Mexico are the sweetest and most friendly
that you can imagine, the music is fantastic, and the food is
outstanding. The thing I can't understand is how Mexican food
can be so interesting, while the food in Guatemala, El Salvador,
Nicaragua and Costa Rica is so boring."
Shortly after getting back to San Diego in June, Barritt and
Renee will join a group of friends on a catamaran charter out
of Raiatea. He's really looking forward to visiting the places
he cruised years ago with Serendipity and, after the charter,
will take Renee to Cook's Bay, Moorea, one of the most beautiful
places he's been to. "But nobody needs to worry about us
going over to the 'dark side' on catamarans. We sailed a lot
with Blair Grinols on Capricorn Cat back when he used
to take everyone on those snorkeling trips out of Z-town, and
that was great, but Renee and I love our Peterson 44 too much
to ever give her up." The couple have also already made
reservations for the Annapolis Boat Show. "We loved Annapolis
when we were back there with our boat a few years ago - except
it was so cold when we left that we had to wear socks on our
hands. We can't wait to return."
Having spent well over five years cruising both in Mexico and
in the Caribbean, Barritt is the perfect one to ask which is
better for cruising. "They are so different but so good
that the only solution is to have a boat in both places."
- the wanderer 02/28/07
"We gave ourselves two years to decide whether or not we
would really like cruising," report the Nichols family -
parents Carl and Yvette, and kids Joel, 14, and Kyle, 11 - of
the Friday Harbor, Washington-based Formosa 46 Liberty.
"But after seven months, we're going back home. Having made
a unanimous decision, we're going home to literally sell our
farm so we can do long term cruising." By the way, Carl
and Yvette told us there were two things that made them buy their
boat, which is actually a near copy of a Kelly-Peterson 46. The
first thing was the solid pilothouse-like enclosure around the
cockpit, and the second was a special helmsman's seat that fits
into the aft companionway.
Let's talk about the cost of cruising, shall we? During our interview
with Barritt Neal of the Peterson 44 Serendipity, he told
us that he was paying about $870/month - everything included
- for his berth at Marina Vallarta in Puerto Vallarta. That's
based on a three-month stay in the high season. It's not cheap,
is it? In fact, he says it's about $70/month more than he paid
at Crew's Inn, a very nice marina in Trinidad, which has all
the amenties, including a crew lounge, gym, pool, and everything
else. It's true, many marinas in Mexico - particularly those
in places such as Banderas Bay where the demand for slips far
exceeds the supply - are more expensive than typical marinas
But before you get too discouraged, consider the report from
Martin Vienneau of the one-time Sausalito-based Brewer 45 Crystal
Wind, who has also been cruising in Mexico, and who is also
featured in this month's Changes. According to Vienneau,
he and his Japanese pal Teruo spent the last five years having
a great time cruising in Mexico on just $15,000 a year. That
includes "everything", says Vienneau, including a trip
back to the U.S. for him, a trip back to Japan for Teruo, dining
out frequently, and all the maintenance for the boat. But here's
the critical thing - they only stayed in marinas about 1% of
the time. As always, the key to budget cruising is staying out
of marinas - it's easy in Mexico because there are so many free
anchorages - and avoiding tourist restaurants and bars. Some
cruisers lived on less and some lived on more, but he figured
the average is about $23,000 a year. Hmmm, that's not too bad,
By the way, having made it back to San Diego, Vienneau is about
to return to Mexico in the fall for more cruising - with his
ex-wife of 20 years! "She's the head honcho for her husband's
architectural magazine, but she's giving it all up to go cruising
with me. We remained good friends even after we got divorced,
and her husband has told her, 'Go for it!'" How civilized.
So what's it cost to circumnavigate? We'll have an excruciatingly
detailed report on that in the June
issue. But it's probably less than you think.
"Jon Feldman of Eugene died of cardiac arrest on March 12
while aboard Gertrud, his beloved Bristol Channel Cutter,
while near Loreto, Baja," reports Mark Reed of the Portland-based
Southern Cross. Feldman and his partner Cathy Ellis had
just weighed anchor when Feldman began experiencing chest pain.
Ellis, an RN, issued a mayday, began treating Feldman, and then
altered course for Loreto. Feldman went into cardiac arrest 30
minutes later and could not be revived. Jon and Cathy had purchased
Gertrud in Seattle approximately seven years ago, and
had sailed extensively in the Pacific Northwest, including a
circumnavigation of Vancouver Island in '04. They passed through
the Bay Area in the fall of '05 on their way south, spending
a month or more in Oakland. This was their second season cruising
in Baja. Feldman was in his mid-50s."
Sean and Kathryn Kennedy, who sold Gertrud to Feldman
and Ellis years ago, report they are heartbroken at the news
of his death. "We'd bought a larger boat, and had hardly
put out the word that Gertrud was for sale when Jon and
Cathy knocked on the hull. It took no time at all to know these
were the right people to adopt our little jewel. I've often thought
that selling Gertrud was one of the great mistakes of
our lives, but it has always been easier to bear knowing she
was with the right people. We had too few opportunities to sail
together, but we knew the three of them were made for each other.
It's sad to know now that Jon is no longer with them."
More than a year later, some of the boat is still on the beach.
Neil Steinbrenner, who reports that he had a great time on the
last Ha-Ha aboard the S&S 80 Kialoa III, and his wife
took a trip to the Caribbean this winter, where they made an
interesting discovery on deserted Morgan Lewis Beach on the boisterous
northeast shore of Barbados. It was a number of relatively large
pieces - including the transom - of the J/44 First Light that
had been owned by Andy and Jill Rothman, formerly of Tiburon.
You may remember that, a little over a year ago, the couple's
boat suffered a broken rudder when they were only about 1,100
miles from completing a nine-year circumnavigation. Despite their
valiant efforts to steer and save the boat, she ultimately had
to be abandoned."
A lot of armchair sailors harshly criticized the trio - Bruce
Ladd was along as crew - for abandoning the boat, but we don't
think the people in chairs have any concept of how difficult
it is to steer a fin-keel boat that's lost her rudder in the
trades. At least two boats lost their rudders crossing the Atlantic
to the Caribbean last November. One was scuttled, and the other
was abandoned after their crews didn't have any better luck trying
to steer the disabled boats than did the crew of First Light.
Three years ago, the rudder on Mike Harker's Hunter 466 Wanderlust
II broke while enroute from the Marquesas to Hawaii. Had
another boat not come to their assistance, Harker and his crew
may not have been able to make it back to land. If you read the
first Changes this month, you'll note that Harker is off
on an 11-month circumnavigation aboard the Hunter Mariner 49
Wanderlust III - and he's carrying a complete replacement
rudder onboard. Yeah, that's how important a backup rudder is
to a guy who has already lost one at sea.
"We're spending four sunny, summery months Down Under in
wonderful Hobart, Tasmania," report Steve and Dorothy Darden,
who years ago lived in Tiburon, but have called their Morrelli
& Melvin 52 Adagio home since 2000. "While we're
down here, our cat is snugly berthed at Bainbridge Island near
Seattle, awaiting our return on May 1." After their boat
was launched in New Zealand, the couple sailed to Tasmania, and
absolutely fell in love with the place. In fact, it was years
before they could tear themselves away for the trip up to Alaska
and the Pacific Northwest, where they have cruised the last several
Speaking of cats, Wayne 'the Mango Man' and his partner Carol
Baggerly, who have often crewed aboard aboard Profligate,
surprised us last month by reporting they have purchased Blair
Grinols' well-known and much travelled 45-ft cat Capricorn
Cat. Blair will help them bring the boat north from Newport
to her new home in Brisbane next month. Wayne and Carol hope
to sell their Cross 45 trimaran Little Wing soon, as it
would enable them to do the Baja
Ha-Ha in late October. No matter what, they intend to cruise
Mexico with their new-to-them cat next winter. The couple have
become great friends with Blair, and plan on upholding his tradition
of taking lots of folks sailing. The new owners offered Blair
the opportunity to use the cat he built whenever he wants, but
after a couple of reasonably serious health issues, Blair has
decided that it's time for him to swallow the anchor completely.
So the 70-something-year-old bought some motorcycles and quads
for himself and Joan, and will soon be tearing up the deserts.
While those two may now be gone from the cruising scene for good,
it will be a long time before they're forgotten. Roy and Marlene
Verdery of the Sausalito-based Pearson 36 Jellybean appear
to have come down with a case of cat fever. "We're heading
to Florida to look at Manta cats," they told us while in
La Cruz. Then there are J.R. Beulter and Luprecia Dipp of Gudadalajara
and Puerto Vallarta, who two years ago bought a Catana 47 cat
and christened her Moon and Stars. After having so much
fun cruising the cat from Florida to Panama, they've put her
up for sale because they've sprung for a brand new F/P Eluethera
60 catamaran. She should be completed in France in about eight
months. In other cat news, tune in next month and we'll tell
you about Peter Brown's sort-of new Seattle-based Grainger 48
cat Taj. We say 'sort of new' because it was started something
like 10 years ago.
Seaward, the 82-ft Sausalito-based steel schooner owned
by the nonprofit Call of the Sea foundation, left Banderas Bay
in March for Sausalito via the offshore or clipper route. We
hope to have a report next month on how it went. If you've done
a 'clipper route' trip back to California from Panama or Mexico
lately, we'd enjoy hearing how that went ().
"In the March issue, the crew of the Tacoma-based Westerly
36 Saucy Lady reported very light winds on their way from
Ecuador to Mexico," recalls Carol Baardsen of the Napa-based
Offshore 40 Mary T. "But in February of '05, my husband
and I had a beautiful, 16-day, moonlit passage from the Galapagos
to Barra de Navidad. We departed in company with the Peterson
44 Mamouna, which took less than two weeks to reach Zihuatanejo.
One night, while 400 miles off the Gulf of Tehuantepec, we had
35 knots of wind, but fortunately it was on our quarter. Close
to shore it was blowing 60 knots. Otherwise our trip consisted
of broadreaching in 10 to 15 knots of wind. We also got lucky,
as the ITCZ was quite narrow and moving south as we moved north.
Five rainbows, one distant waterspout, a few squalls, and 12
hours later we were out the other side. It helped that we motored
judiciously from squall to squall, usually for an hour or two.
I don't know what time of year the Rombaughs made their passage
from Ecuador to Mexico, as the wind varies depending on the season
and sometimes the year, but I recommend that people read the
North Pacific Pilot Charts before writing off the direct route
from Ecuador to Mexico. We thought the offshore trip was a good
way to skip the coastal bash in winter."
A reader who prefers to identify herself only as 'Angie D' reports
that she'll become a 'pollywog' next month, meaning she'll be
sailing across the equator for the first time. "I've done
a bit of research on the rites and rituals associated with transforming
from a pollywog to a shellback, but crawling through garbage
and/or being dragged behind the boat is not that appealing. I'd
be interested in what other cruisers have done - or had done
to them - on their first crossing."
The ritual will be entirely in the hands of whoever plays Neptune
on the boat, Angie. If you're lucky, it will be your husband
or Significant Other, because in that case you could hold the
'you're never going to get laid again' sword over his head to
prevent the rituals from becoming too intense for your liking.
But no matter what happens, remember to send some high res photos.
By the way, that applies to everyone, as we're always looking
for pollywog photos.
"We're just back from a quick recon around Cabo and up into
the Sea of Cortez," report Steve and Linda Dashew of the
Southern California-based Wind Horse. "The offshore
islands were as alluring as ever. On the way back up the coast
we stopped at Mag Bay, then worked south inside the bay, past
the navy base to the Rehusa Channel. If you take care and watch
the tides, you can find your way across the shallows to Rehusa.
There is protection from the north for anchoring, and the whale
watching was wonderful but we wouldn't want to be there
in a southwesterly. We examined the options for going out to
sea via the Rehusa Channel - which has been previously discussed
in Latitude - but they didn't seem appealing. The local
navy contigent confirmed that the channels going out to sea were
only deep enough for pangas. After six weeks in Southern California,
we're off to Kodiak, Alaska."
If you're near a computer while reading this, check out the Google
satellite view of the Rehusa Channel, which is at the extreme
south end of Mag Bay near Punta Tosca. The satellite view gives
a terrific view of the different depths and channels. Fascinating.
Plenty of Southbound cruisers are headed for Ecuador, knowing
that in previous years cruisers have found Bahia de Caraquez
to be an excellent alternative to spending the summer in Central
America and even mainland Mexico. The problem with Central America,
in addition to the heat and humidity, is the lightning. It's
not at all uncommon for boats in places such as mainland Mexico,
El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama to be hit. Ecuador,
on the other hand, enjoys an entirely different - and pleasant
- climate during the summer. A potential downside is that the
always politically unstable Ecuador may be closer to civil war
than normal. Whether this would affect cruisers in Caraquez is
unclear, as the capital of Quito is, at 9,200 feet, almost twice
the elevation of Denver, making it almost a different world from
the coast. The problem is that newly-elected President Rafael
Correa ran on a platform of rewriting the constitution, and wants
to disband the Congress, a legislative body in which his political
party doesn't have a single seat. This doesn't sit well with
the members of Congress he wants to oust, so there has been hand-to-hand
combat around the capital's government buildings. Personally,
we don't think it's going to be a problem for cruisers. But if
things heat up, they can always take off.
Sayulita, which is just to the north of Banderas Bay but still
considered to be part of the Vallarta Coast, is one of the hippest
spots in Mexico. It's full of surfers, backpackers, neo-hippies,
dogs and more dogs, and fans of reflexology. While standing on
the beach there last month, we fell into conversation with Patricia,
a middle-aged woman who, along with her husband, runs a surfboard
rental and panga fishing charter business from the beach. She
claims that when they moved to Sayulita 10 years ago, there were
only five cars. Now there is nowhere to park. But Patricia still
loves the place because it reminds her of Santa Cruz, where she
used to live a few decades back. Make that a tropical Santa Cruz.
She seemed surprised when we told her that we've anchored Profligate
off Sayulita and brought our dinghy through the surf to eat and
walk around. "Most boats anchor for a few hours and move
on," she said. "It's calm today, but we're on the open
ocean, so it's often rolly." It turns out that Patricia
has some sailing in her past. She made the passage from Tahiti
to Hawaii via the Marquesas aboard an engineless 41-ft wood yawl
in the '80s. She remembers it as a good trip, even though they
got hung up in the ITCZ for about six days. She declined to continue
the delivery back to California, which may have been a good thing,
because the boat sank off Maui a short time later.
We'd seen one of Patricia's fishing pangas come in the day before
- the operators drive them through the waiting surfers at about
150 miles an hour and right up the steep sand beach - and marveled
at the size of the two dorado a client had landed. The next day,
they were pushing a panga back down into the water, but it was
full of palm fronds rather than a fishermen. We asked what they
were doing. "We're building a palapa on the ocean,"
Patricia replied, as if everybody did it. We had to ask her to
explain. "They take the stuff out about four miles, where
they build more of a raft than a palapa, take the GPS position,
and leave it out there. Fish such as dorado like to swim in the
shade of things like the raft, so when we bring our clients back
out in the pangas, they are more likely to catch fish."
Hmmm - does that seem only halfway sporting to you, too? Anyway,
if you're sailing down the coast from San Blas to Punta Mita
and t-bone something that looks like a raft made of palm fronds,
take it up with Patricia.
The next day we were walking through Paradise Marina where we
saw Bill Vaccaro of the Chico-based Moody 44 Miela with
a huge smile on his face. No wonder - he'd just caught 16 dorado.
We told him about Patricia's fish-rafts. "We know where
it is," he replied. "That's where we caught these".
Speaking of fishing pangas, Rudi, a Swiss-German fellow who works
at the Mañana restaurant in Punta Mita, but, because he
is married a Mexican woman, belongs to a local fishing/tourism
cooperative, told us he just bought a new panga. Care to guess
how much they cost? We don't know how much the typical 27-footers
used by fisherman cost, but Rudi's 32-footer, to be used for
local fishing and tour groups, and which comes with a bimini
top and toilet, ran $15,000. But that's without the engine(s).
Because Rudi mostly stays inside the bay, he settled for a single
90-hp Mercury. That cost another $12,000. So they aren't cheap.
There are two problems with Galileo, the European GPS system
that is/was supposed to be operational by 2010. The first is
that a survey has revealed that not one of the seven companies
in the five-nation consortium are working toward completion of
the project! The second is that they want to charge for it, which
is going to be a tough sell since the U.S. provides GPS service
to everybody for free. True, the commercial version of Galileo
would be a little more accurate than the U.S. system, but at
this point nobody thinks there are enough potential users of
that service to turn a profit. While Galileo may take until 2011
to come on line - if it ever does - China has announced that
their Beidou GPS system, which initially will only cover China
and her neighbors, should be working by '08. The primary reason
for alternative GPS systems is simple - the on-off switch of
the current one is controlled by the Department of Defense.
Remember the old saying, "The best things in life are free"?
We never understood it - until GPS and then Google came along.