With reports this month from
Still Searching on the Clipper Ship
Route back from Mexico; from Moonshadow
on taking line honors in the Auckland to Fiji Rally; from Reflections on a fast passage from
the Galapagos to the Marquesas; from Solitaire
on sailing from Southeast Asia to Japan; from Kynda
on warm hospitality at Bahia Del Sol, El Salvador; from Voyager
on the passage from Oman to Egypt; from Magic
Carpet Ride on an inland trip to Mexico's Copper Canyon;
from Altair on wrapping up an enjoyable
season in New Zealand; from Maverick
on passages up the Red Sea; and countless Cruise
Still Searching - Beneteau Oceanis 46
Clipper Route Home From Mexico
After doing the Ha-Ha and cruising Mexico for the season, it
was time to return to Northern California. There are three recognized
routes from Mexico back to Northern California. The first and
most popular is to motorsail up the coast, taking refuge when
the weather gets rough, and going like crazy when the wind and
seas are down. The second most popular way home is via Hawaii.
It's a downwind sail to the Islands and mostly a reach home,
so while you sail many more miles, it's easier and more pleasant
going. The least frequently used option is the so-called 'clipper
route', in that it was used by the old clipper ships. The general
idea is that you sail offshore - we're talking hundreds and hundreds
of miles - on starboard tack until you reach the northeast trades,
which will progressively lift you until you start paralleling
the coast. You continue riding this north until you can flop
over and lay your California destination.
I decided to do the clipper route, and I left Puerto Vallarta
on March 21 with three crew. Two of them, Curt Coplin and William
Thomas, are friends from the Vallejo YC who flew down just to
help me take the boat back. The third crewmember was David Roach,
who had done the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race aboard the
Jeanneau 52.2 Between the Sheets. He said that he would
rather sail back than fly back home. Having four aboard allowed
us a watch system of two hours on and six hours off - comparatively
We slowly sailed out of Banderas Bay on light winds. Next time,
I would motor out, but this time I was concerned about using
my fuel early on. Once outside the bay, we had about seven to
10 knots of wind and headed out to sea pointing as high as we
could. Even though our destination was NNW, we were lucky if
we could even sail due west. But this was to be expected. After
two days of this, we got headed and the wind went light. I knew
we really needed to get further offshore, but I decided to tack
to port, figuring there would be more wind closer to Cabo. After
eight hours of this, I changed my mind and headed back out on
During the third day we passed 60 miles north of Isla de San
Benedicto, which was a little frustrating, because it meant we
still hadn't made any ground to the north of Puerto Vallarta.
On the fourth day, however, we finally started to get lifted
on starboard tack. On the fifth day - still heading mostly west
- we finally made it north of PV. Although we were still well
south of Cabo, we could see that things were trending in the
right direction. For the next couple of days, we were able to
sail in a northwesterly direction, meaning we were almost able
to parallel the coast of Baja - but several hundreds miles to
On the eighth day, we got headed. The choice was to either sail
south, which would have been away from our destination, or tack
onto port and head straight for San Diego. We headed for San
Diego. Alas, we got headed the next day on port, so we flopped
back to starboard, heading out to sea once again. After eight
hours of that, we tacked back toward San Diego once again, sailing
inside of Guadeloupe Island, which is about 150 miles off the
coast. At this point the wind died, so we motored the last night
and arrived in San Diego the following morning.
The trip took 12 days, during which time we motored 40 hours,
some of it just to charge the batteries. I'd rather not motor
when I can sail. We never had wind over 22 knots. We did have
some big seas, however, although nothing really dangerous. My
boat has a pretty flat bottom up forward, so we had to slow down
or fall off at times to keep from pounding.
All in all, the trip was a nice experience for me and my crew.
If I needed to sail back from Puerto Vallarta again, I would
take the offshore route again. If I had waited another month
later in the year, I think we might have been able to make a
faster trip, as we might not have had headwinds as often. After
all, if everything goes right, you're supposed to make it north
on one tack. I didn't get to do the Sea of Cortez this time,
so I expect that's where I'll go after my next sailing trip to
Puerto Vallarta. In that case, I'd probably haul the boat, paint
the bottom, and use the 'land bridge' across Baja - assuming
it ever gets going.
The downside of this clipper route is that it means you'll be
at sea for a long time, and we had mostly cloudly and cool weather.
Before I left, Ed and Becky Scripps of the Los Altos-based Hylas
46 Sea Silk were thinking of making the same trip with
their boat. It will be interesting to see how it went for them.
- rich 5/15/02
Readers - The key to success on the
clipper ship route seems to be total commitment. You've got to
be willing to sail 500 or so miles west - even a little southwest
- before you're going to get lifted. And woe to the sailor who
is afraid of commitment and flops back over prematurely, for
he/she will not only be throwing away all the time and miles
spent positioning for the increasing lift, but will be sailing
into the worst possible situation, an increasing header. The
way we see it, the further north your ultimate destination, the
more the clipper route makes sense. For Seattle and San Francisco,
it makes quite a bit of sense. For San Diego, it almost seems
as though you have to sail too far offshore to get the lift to
make it worthwhile. As for waiting another month, this year it
would have brought you nothing but grief in the form of relentless
strong winds on the nose.
Moonshadow - Deerfoot 62
Sailing for Fiji
Sorry that I haven't been in touch, but I've been busy hanging
out in Auckland - and doing some Friday Rum Races - during the
southern hemisphere summer. Even my spell check has developed
a bit of a Kiwi accent. The good news is that we're getting ready
to head north for the winter to do five months or so of cruising
in Fijian waters.
We depart midday Sunday on the Ponsonby Cruising Club Rally to
Musket Cove, which is on the island of Malololailai, Fiji, just
west of Nadi. I'll have the company of three former 'Moo-Crew'
passagemakers for the 1,150-mile event - Nick Bullock, Graham
Jones, and Todd Meyer. After the rally and the week long Musket
Cove Regatta, my crew will return to New Zealand and I'll be
mostly singlehanding in Fiji, looking forward to visits from
my yachtie friends.
April 28 - We're on our way to Fiji! This event was run twice
in the late '80s for cruising boats wanting to get to the South
Pacific cruising grounds, but was halted after the '89 event
in which a skipper was lost overboard. But it's been revived
again this year, and there are 16 entries. I like it because
it's a casual and flexible affair. For example, if there was
rotten weather at the start, they'd have postponed it. In addition,
you can use your engine to make sure you get to Musket Cove in
time for the group check-in formalities, and not have to go through
the hassle of customs, quarantine, and immigration at Lautoka.
There's also twice a day radio skeds and great parties at the
After a light air start off of Westhaven Marina yesterday at
noon, the breeze filled in and Moonshadow has been charging
north with a bone in her teeth ever since. By last evening, the
wind was up to 25 knots and gusting to 35. But it's on the beam,
just how we like it. Using just our working sails, we've put
215 miles under the keel in the 24 hours since leaving Auckland.
Our first day was uneventful, as we are just getting our sea
legs and becoming accustomed to life on a 20° heel - with
occasional dips to 40° when we get hit by a big wave on the
beam. The weather is reasonably warm, the sailing fast and wet,
and the company great. The rally has a Mark Foy or 'rabbit start',
so we are slowly closing in on the boats that departed Thursday
and Friday, and lead the fleet we departed with on Sunday. Our
main competition is Moonblue II, a gorgeous Warwick 65
that we've been playing leapfrog with since the start. Even though
she's a few hundred meters behind us right now, she's giving
me 'blender envy'. Get this, she has a 1 h.p. blender gimballed
in the bar area so they can enjoy blender sports at any angle
April 29 - We enjoyed beautiful reaching conditions last night,
but this morning the wind backed around to the south and eased
off, giving us a few hours of running with our light air spinnaker.
The wind then dropped to about seven knots, so we're sailing
on a 'diesel breeze'. While we expect to get more breeze, the
boats ahead in the rally are reporting light air, so it may be
another day or two before we reach the trades. The good news
is that it's an absolutely gorgeous day in the South Pacific
High, and we are bathing in the sun as we are gently nudged along
by a 3-4 meter following sea. MaiTai my cat has taken a new interest
in the radar screen at night. When it comes on, she chases targets
on the screen. The only problem is that my laptop computer sits
right under the radar, so the computer protests with all sorts
of beeps and alarms when she is dancing on the keyboard. We're
never short of cheap entertainment with MaiTai onboard. As of
the morning roll call, we were 33 miles behind the lead boat.
A great big thanks from the crew to Nick's wife Karen, for the
great lasagna we devoured last evening and for a snack this morning.
Precooked meals rock!
April 30 - Moonshadow crossed the halfway mark at 0600
hours, and it seems as if we've reached the top of the hill and
are coasting down the other side. After motorsailing in light
breezes and calm seas for most of the night, the breeze freshened
at first light. Graham and I set the spinnaker at 0500, and we
quietly started sailing again. The wind gradually came forward
on us, so we changed from the kite to our new #3 headsail, which
is driving us at 8 to 10 knots in 15 to 20 knots of breeze. At
this rate, we should reach the finish line at Navula Pass late
Friday night. The Sea Gods have been kind to us so far on this
passage, and donated one of their own, a 20-pound mahi-mahi for
our halfway party dinner this evening. The biggest decision of
the day for the crew is how to prepare the fish - or whether
to cook it at all. The sake is chilling! Our noon-to-noon run
was 201 nautical miles. A stationary front has clouded up the
skies and dropped a few showers on us, but even on morning watch
it was shorts and T-shirt weather. It keeps getting warmer every
day as we get further north. Our position in the rally is improving
as well. As of this morning's radio sked, we were 60 miles ahead
of Moonblue, and at noon today we passed Risque Affair,
an ex-IOR 45-footer that was designed by Oakland's Gary Mull.
We're gaining on the last two boats ahead of us, and hope to
overtake them before the finish.
May 1 - Surf's up! For the past 24 hours we have been sailing
through a 'squash zone', which is where a low pressure system
and a high pressure system do a slow dance together that creates
some strong breezes and spirited sailing conditions. The difference
between miserable and pleasurable sailing often depends on the
direction of the wind. We've been on the wrong end of some of
these squash zones in the past, and it was miserable. But in
this case, the 25 to 42 knot winds have been on our starboard
quarter, making it an E-Ticket ride. The fresh breeze has also
kicked up a nine to 12-foot swell, which has made for great surfing
conditions. It's hard to believe that a yacht weighing in at
25 tons can surf off a wave like a 30 pound fiberglass board,
but it can.
Last evening the boys took tricks at the helm, seeing who could
get the best speed surfing down a wave. Nick got 12 knots, and
Todd later took top human driver honors with 14 knots. 'Wilhelm'
our autopilot - which holds the boat's all-time record of 17
knots - was not to be shown up, and kept besting the boys with
15s and 16s. Late this morning, Wilhelm took off on a large and
well formed wave, and sent us flying at 17.6 knots - a new boat
record! Don't try driving your own home at this speed. Needless
to say, this has not only been about as much fun as four guys
can have with their clothes on, but has propelled us into the
front of the rally fleet. We did 246 miles in the last 24 hours,
and expect to be in Fiji in time for happy hour tomorrow.
May 2 - We've less than 50 miles to go, it's still blowing in
the 25 to 30 knot range, and Moonshadow is charging along
like a horse that can see the barn, so the champagne is cooling.
We had another noon-to-noon run of 237 miles, keeping our rally
speed at slightly more than nine knots. The next closest yacht
is 120 miles to the south of us, so we're taking things pretty
easy. Even though we haven't made landfall, the boys reckon that
they can smell the palm trees at Musket Cove and hear the bottles
tinkling at the $3 bar. I suppose that all the senses, including
thirst, become more acute with deprivation. We continue to be
under a thin cloud layer, which probably keeps us from burning
our white skin.
The skipper took a trick at the helm during one of the windy
periods yesterday, looking to beat the surfing speeds achieved
by two crack helmsmen. After about an hour of frustration - meaning
surfs of just 12 to 13 knots - the mother of all surf waves appeared
in my peripheral vision, and we took off as though we were off
to the races. Just about the time the knotlog was registering
17, the spray completely drenched me. It was quite refreshing,
if not humorous. At 17.4, I am still 2/10ths of a knot off of
May 4 - Bula bula from Fiji! We crossed the finish line in Navula
Pass yesterday afternoon, 5 days, 4 hours, and 42 minutes after
our start off Westhaven in Auckland. We were the first rally
boat across the finish, 12 hours ahead of Moonblue II.
We averaged 9.2 knots for the passage. As is customary after
any Ponsonby Cruising Club race, the crew enjoyed a refreshing
rum and coke - all right, maybe two - as we sailed in protected
waters to a calm anchorage off of Nadi. After five days of rocking,
rolling, surfing and the constant sound of water rushing past
Moonshadow's hull, it was a pleasant respite from the
excitement of the sail. As soon as we were in the lee of Viti
Levu, we could smell the rich aromas of the tropical South Pacific
island. We really had arrived in Fiji. Unfortunately, we got
here two days before our organized Customs clearance, so we will
be quarantined on board till tomorrow morning!
As far as passages go, this would rate as one of the best ever
for me. It was fast, none of the crew so much as stubbed a toe,
we all enjoyed each other's company, and we didn't break any
gear. MaiTai is even starting to warm up to the boys. And yes,
it's always nice to be the first boat in.
- george 5/5/02
Reflections - Valiant Esprit 37
Gene & Sheri Seybold
The Galapagos To The Marquesas
We made it! It took us 19 days and 3 hours to cover the 2,992
miles from the Galapagos to the Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva, in
the Marquesas. That's an average of 6.49 knots - which we think
is amazing for a 37-foot boat. Furthermore, we only motored for
Making landfall was sweet, but we had another very wonderful
surprise awaiting us when we pulled into the bay. Paul and Mary
of the Tayana 37 Aventura - old diving friends that we
hadn't seen since a year before in Z-town - were there in their
dinghy to greet us. In addition to guiding us to a suitable anchorage,
they handed us a bag full of fresh bananas and grapefruit. These
were a real treat, since our supply of fresh produce had been
consumed long before. While we were getting the anchor down,
the couple took off for town - and soon returned with a huge
loaf of French bread that was so fresh it was almost too hot
to handle. It was the most delicious bread we've ever tasted.
They bake it fresh here in a wood burning oven every day.
At nearly 3,000 miles, the Galapagos to Marquesas passage is
one of the longest in cruising, and ours was as fantastic as
it was long. We had great winds, which meant that the seas were
a little choppy, but also that our passage would be quite fast.
We had no major equipment failures. The only piece of gear that
was damaged was a sacrificial carabiner we use on our mainsail
preventer, and it served its purpose by breaking. We did experience
some chafing of the sun cover on our new headsail, and had a
few sail slides come off our mainsail. But after 3,000 miles
of nonstop sailing, that was to be expected.
There is an old saying that says a rolling stone gathers no moss.
Well, a moving sailboat sure does! We couldn't believe what our
hull and bottom looked like once we got to the Marquesas. We
had brown scum that started on the waterline and went 18 inches
up the topsides! As for the bottom, it had algae and the largest
collection of gooseneck barnacles that we have ever seen. These
goosenecks were nearly three inches long, and there were thousands
of them all along the stern! We've left Reflections on
the hook for a month at a time and had never experienced bottom
growth like that. You have to wonder how these things can grow
on a quickly moving boat.
After we got the anchor down, it was time for some 'high fives'
and to pop the cork on the bottle of champagne. Yes, it was morning,
but we'd earned it. As for the anchorage itself, it was absolutely
spectacular. The water is a lovely shade of blue, and towering
pinnacles surround the bay. Even though we were pretty tired,
the blue water was irresistible. Gene grabbed his snorkel gear
and headed for the rock walls surrounding the bay. The first
thing he saw was a lion fish, which are as beautiful as they
are poisonous. I also saw a spotted eagle ray and, of course,
a white tip reef shark. What a joy it was to be in blue water
once again and away from the green water of Central America.
Checking the log, we came up with some other interesting statistics
on our passage: Our fastest 24-hour run was 184 miles or 7.67
knots. Our fastest 6-hour run was 50 miles or 8.33 knots. Our
slowest 24 hour run was 138 miles or 5.75 knots. Our slowest
six hours was 31 miles or 5.17 knots. We passed 11 boats during
the passage, only one of which was shorter than ours. Only one
boat passed us, and she was a 63-footer. Even our slowest days
were quite respectable, considering that we're only 37 feet and
were heavily loaded. The only problem since we got here? We can't
find the race committee.
- gene & sheri 5/6/02
Gene & Sheri - Congratulations on
a very fast passage. As far as we're concerned, the most striking
statistic is that over a course of nearly 20 days, you never
averaged less than 5.17 knots for six hours.
Solitaire - Barnett 42
Stephen Faustina With Mike Holtz
It's been a long time since I last wrote, and I have covered
quite a few miles during that time. Solitaire is currently
in Yokohoma, Japan, at the Yokohoma Bayside Marina. This is the
largest marina in Japan and has excellent facilities. When Mr.
Onozawa, the marina manager, showed me the price list for berthing,
I almost had a heart attack. The daily rate for a 42-footer such
as Solitaire is listed at 11,000 yen - or $90 U.S. Mr.
Onozawa was quick to add that as a visiting yacht, we would be
given an 80% discount. At first I thought I misunderstood him
and that the discount was 20%, but no, it was 80%. That brought
the daily rate down to a more affordable level.
When I left Thailand in September of last year, my original plan
was to sail down under to Australia and New Zealand. As we approached
Indonesia, however, we heard reports that Americans were persona
non-grata in that country after the events of 9/11. I had also
been having difficulty securing a cruising permit for Indonesia.
So while in Singapore, we changed our plans and sailed up the
South China Sea to Subic Bay in the Philippines. I had Solitaire
hauled out in October, then flew down to Darwin to play tourist
for three months in Oz and New Zealand.
Having spent time there, New Zealand ranks as my number one favorite
place. I have a friend in Auckland who is a member of the Royal
New Zealand Yacht Squadron - which currently has title to the
America's Cup - and she was able to get me a crew position on
a 50-ft Reichel/Pugh design for some local races. This was great
fun, especially when we went out to greet the Volvo Race boats
as they crossed the finish, and then again when they restarted.
We then sailed here from the Philippines, where I had some of
the best and worst sailing of my life. Along the way to Japan,
we stopped at Hua Lien, Taiwan; Okinawa; and two other islands
in the Ryukyus before reaching Kochi on Japan's southern main
island of Shikoku. At every port we visited, we were one of the
very first - if not the first - foreign yacht to visit in a long
time. As such, we were treated with great respect and were objects
of immense interest. Japan is an amazing country that never ceases
to amaze me.
Our plans are to stay here in Yokohoma until mid-June, and then
cross the North Pacific back to San Francisco and home. If all
goes as planned, we should be completing a four-year circumnavigation
- steve 5/15/02
Kynda - Passport 40
Peter & Linda Young
Bahia Del Sol, El Salvador
(New Westminster, British Columbia)
Having just visited Bahia Del Sol in El Salvador, we thought
other cruisers should be aware of continuous improvements being
made by the owner Marco Zablah and General Manager Hector Castro.
Their goal is to make cruisers welcome and comfortable.
As is the case with Marina Barillas - the other major cruiser
port of call in El Salvador - it's necessary to cross a bar to
get into the estuary where Bahia Del Sol is located. If you call
the marina when you're 30 minutes away, they will give you a
time when it's safe to cross the bar and will send a panga out
to guide you in. The waypoint is 13°15.7'N, 088°53.48'W.
We arrived in the middle of the night, and safely anchored in
an open roadstead near the waypoint until daylight.
Once across the bar, the estuary anchorage is fully protected
against waves and surge, and there's good holding in four to
six fathoms off the luxury hotel and resort complex. They also
have some moorings to rent, and have started to build a few docks.
Bahia Del Sol will arrange for the Navy and Immigration to come
out to your boat and check you in. It is a friendly, painless,
and quick process - that only costs $10! Checking out - including
getting an international zarpe - is at no additional charge.
In addition to getting a free first drink at Bahia Del Sol, you're
allowed full use of the resort facilities - which include two
lovely pools, one of which overlooks the ocean. If you start
an account for things such as food, drinks and Internet use,
you get a 30% discount. But listen to this - they also give you
one night's free stay in one of their hotel rooms, breakfast
Wednesday nights have become 'cruiser night'. This means that
from 5 to 8 p.m. - and sometimes longer - drinks are discounted.
Beer and mixed drinks with local liquor are just $1. The resort
supplies trays of appetizers, and if there is interest, arranges
for local speakers. One night we listened to a travel agent give
a presentation and show a video on El Salvador. It provided us
with a great overview of the country and suggested what we should
see and do before leaving. Satellite television in an air-conditioned
room is also offered.
While not an official activity, it has become standard practice
for all the cruisers to meet around the pool each afternoon and
play cards or dominos. Afterwards, we usually enjoy the delicious
and reasonably priced dinners.
Bahia Del Sol has a fuel dock with clean diesel. At $1.38 U.S./gallon,
it is said to be the least expensive in the country. Dinghy landings
were safe and easy using the stairs at the base of the restaurant.
If you have a planing dinghy, there's a regular market about
20 minutes up the estuary. If you don't have a planing dinghy,
you can catch a ride on the resort's panga when they go to provision.
Like Panama, El Salvador uses the U.S. Dollar as their currency.
The navy patrols the waterway, so many cruisers have felt comfortable
leaving their boats for extended inland travel. The navy is friendly,
too. One day my wife Linda and two other cruisers got a real
treat - the navy took them to the market in their air boat! San
Salvador, the capital and largest city, is an easy day trip by
local bus. The resort also has a rental car on site for $40/day
Marco and Hector continue to enhance their services to cruisers
to make their stays enjoyable and inexpensive. This is a place
worth stopping and spending time on your trip south. We planned
on stopping for a few days - but it was so wonderful that we
stayed for three weeks!
P.S. Thank you for your support of the First Annual Zihua Sailfest.
What a great time everyone had!
- peter & linda young
Peter & Linda - Thanks for the informative
report. We've heard nothing but great stuff about Bahia Del Sol.
As for the Zihua Sailfest, we plan to be there again early next
Voyager - Cascade 36
Kate Rakelly (8) And Parents
Oman To Egypt
The people in the Middle East are always asking about our nationality.
One day my dad and I took a taxi from the harbor to Salalah,
Oman, to buy some parts. As always, we made conversation with
the driver, who asked where we were from. We're from Portland,
but in order to avoid a lot of questions about U.S. foreign policy,
my dad has learned to say that we're from Mexico or Canada. On
this day, my dad told the driver we were from Canada.
"Great country, Canada," said the driver. "I like
people from Canada."
"Do a lot of Canadians come to Oman?" my father asked.
"Yes," said the driver. "Many come on cruise ships
or fly in." As we neared the parking lot of the parts store,
the driver added that he liked Canadians "because they always
give me a little more than the fare."
My dad didn't believe that a lot of Canadians would be visiting
Oman, nor that Canadians would give a taxi driver a large tip,
so he asked the driver what part of the country Canadian visitors
"New Jersey," replied the driver. After my dad gave
him a modest tip, I was told that henceforth, we'd only speak
Spanish to taxi drivers.
We nonetheless enjoyed our stay in Oman. There were several other
yachts with children, which is great, because the best part of
cruising for me is meeting kids from other yachts. While in Oman,
most of the 'kid-boats' were together for once, so I had great
times with the kids from two Norwegian, French, and American
boats, and one Canadian boat. Every day after school, we'd get
together and play baseball in a parking lot with a plastic ball
On our last night in Oman, my dad played baseball with us kids,
and then invited two Somalian fishermen to join in. They didn't
know how to play, of course, so we had to teach them. My dad
and the two Somalian men were playing in the outfield, and after
three outs, my father motioned to the fishermen that it was time
to walk in from the outfield. The two men came alongside my dad,
and each one took one of his hands, so that the three were holding
hands! You don't see this in the United States, but it's very
common to see men holding hands in the Middle East. You don't,
however, see men and women holding hands in public. Later that
night I overheard my father tell my mother what it was like to
hold hands with two fishermen. "It wasn't too bad when we
held hands coming in from the outfield, but it really bothered
me that they didn't let go once we got in."
While in Oman, we visited Job's Tomb, the Queen of Sheba's winter
palace, camel herds, and a real desert oasis. We had hired an
Omani tour guide for our sightseeing, and his name - like that
of 90% of the other Middle Eastern men that we met - was Mohammed.
Oman has an interesting culture, as women and children are rarely
seen in public. The men even do the shopping for food. So unless
you are invited into an Omani home, you'd never meet the women
or the children. The families that we did meet were open-minded,
extremely friendly towards Westerners, and gracious hosts.
We left Salalah on February 17 in the company of six other boats
that we planned to sail with past Yemen - which is noted for
pirates - and into the Red Sea. All the different groups - or
'pods' - had names. We were the 'Little Rascals'. A group of
French boats were the 'French Toast'. One group that shared a
common liking for pizza became the 'Pizza Group'. There was a
mostly German group, and later a splinter group of non-Germans
who broke off from that pod and became known as the 'Enough Group'.
Lastly, there were the 'Road Runners', a loose association of
boats that were waiting for boat parts to arrive before they
could leave. In all, about 40 yachts sailed out of Salalah around
There were many warships in the region, the most warm and welcoming
of which were the British, who always offered assistance. The
most generous were the French, who provided 24-hour military
air cover to protect us cruisers against attacks by pirates!
This was the result of the French family on Lemanja -
with two of my girlfriends aboard - telephoning the French military
command in Djibouti to inform them that yachts with children
would be passing by Yemen during a certain time frame. So the
French Navy dispatched planes every six hours to check on us
between Oman and Djibouti! There was a Japanese warship that
needed a new radio, because it sounded as though they were speaking
Greek. The Italian sailors seemed to be having the best time,
as the radio operators were always laughing on the VHF. The overdone
professionalism of the American warships made them seem cold,
and was a little embarassing to us American yachties.
After dinner on February 22, we got our first whiff of Africa
- and it wasn't pleasant. Here's my notation in the ship's log:
"Africa smells like a spice cabinet in a barnyard filled
with rotting vegetables." Four hours after making that log
entry, we'd made it through the Bab el Mandeb narrows and past
the most dangerous areas. The VHF was crammed with congratulations
between yachts. In the festive atmosphere, it mosly went unnoticed
that the wind was quickly building from the south.
[Continued next month.]
- kate 5/5/02
Ride - Passport 40
Dave Smith & Angie Deglandon
The Copper Canyon
We've had another nice season in Mexico. Starting in La Paz in
October, we sailed north across the Sea of Cortez to meet a friend
in San Carlos. While there, I met some compadres from Benicia,
my old home town. They were preparing to have their boat trucked
to California. From San Carlos, we worked our way down the west
side of the Sea, and enjoyed some beautiful anchorages, including
Caleta San Juanico, our favorite.
Despite waiting for four days for good weather to cross the Sea
again to Mazatlan, we had confused seas and gusts to 40 knots.
It didn't help that it was pitch black out, the seas were on
the beam, and the autopilot quit 15 hours from port. It wasn't
until we got to Mazatlan that we realized we'd lost some important
gear - a 5-gallon gas jug, a spare bow anchor, and most mysterious
of all, a whisker pole that had been attached to the mast. Fortunately,
we got a nice slip at Marina El Cid in Mazatlan, which is part
of a resort with a couple of swimming pools with bars, lush tropical
grounds, tennis courts, a gym, and much more. Our trip to Puerto
Vallarta took about 30 hours, with the temperature going up by
the hour. After a night at Punta de Mita, we pulled into Paradise
Village Resort and Marina, whose name says it all. The resort
has a small zoo, and the animals got used to our bringing them
peanuts, bananas, chicken pieces, and bread almost every night
on our way to the showers.
One of the interesting things we did this season was take a bus/van/train
adventure to Copper Canyon, which is the Grand Canyon of Mexico.
It's also home to the Tarahumara Indians, who live in caves and
scratch out a very meager existence. They prefer to be left alone
and not participate in our 'civilized' world, which is why they
still do things like wash their clothes on rocks. Nonetheless,
one little five-year-old girl served as our 'guide' on a hike
to a waterfall. She spoke only Tarahumara, so about all we could
figure out is that she was five years old.
We spent a couple days at Urique, a village at the bottom of
one of the canyons that was a three hour van ride on a dirt track.
We stayed at El Rancho de Keith - Keith being a Vietnam veteran
who runs a camping area, bunkhouse, and shower room for travelers.
The shower water is heated by a wood fire and is gravity fed.
Still, after a few days, any shower is wonderful. If anyone wants
to go inland while in Mexico, they shouldn't overlook the Copper
- angie 4/15/02
Altair - Cal 35
Paul Baker & Suzette Connolly
Our parents send us copies of Latitude every month, so
we recenty got to read about the 2001 Ha-Ha - which brought back
a flood of great memories about the Ha-Ha we did in 2000. It
also made us realize how much we've learned about cruising in
the subsequent 18 months that we've spent sailing across the
In anticipation of heading back to the South Pacific, we've just
had a great haul out down here at Ray Robert's yard in Whangarei.
This is a great town for cruisers without cars, as everything
is within walking distance - including Pak n' Save, where we
did our provisioning. This is a town that really seems to welcome
cruisers, and they have a very nice complex at the Town Basin.
So far, the weather for leaving for the South Pacific has been
a bit "unkind" - to use a Kiwi word - so only a few
boats have left in the last week. Today the weather was better,
and 24 boats left for their South Pacific Island of choice -
be it Niue, Tonga, Fiji, or Vanuatu. We will be heading back
to Tonga again for a month, as there were some places we missed
last year, and we're interested to see how the Vava'u Group survived
tropical cyclone Waka that hit them on New Year's Eve. From there,
we are thinking of heading to Wallis, a small French island,
and will then spend most of the cruising season in Fiji - which
we have heard offers fantastic cruising and is very inexpensive.
In any event, we are looking forward to getting back to the tropics,
with the warmer weather and turquoise water.
While in New Zealand, we have certainly come to appreciate the
Kiwi boating spirit. There are lots of great boats here, and
the Kiwis are not afraid of building their own boats - or of
making major modifications themselves. During our stay, we have
adjusted to Kiwi boating terms: powerboats are 'launches', wooden
boats are 'timber boats', and sailboats are 'yachts'. We've
liked many of the boats we've seen. Unlike in the States, more
boats have tillers than wheels, and most have swim steps in back
for easy access from the water and the dinghy. It's common to
see Kiwis taking a swim off their boats in water Americans would
not consider all that warm. Kiwi sailboats tend to have larger
engines than those in the States. Whereas a 43-foot boat in the
States might have a 37-hp engine, a Kiwi boat would have at least
50 hp - and more likely 60 hp. Kiwis don't want to mess around
if there is no wind, but would rather get somewhere fast. Folks
down here aren't shy about their boat names either. The names
are frequently splashed on the sides of boats in large letters
with gaudy graphics, and names such as Pretty Boy Floyd,
Sweet As, Jesse James, and Voodoo Lounge.
Generally speaking, people in New Zealand seem to be more relaxed,
and many things that would cause great distress in the States
are easily taken in stride. We have enjoyed having access to
just about anything that we would want to buy in the past five
months, but also found provisioning for the upcoming season to
be less frantic than when we did it in Panama a year ago. We
now know that you can easily get the basics out in the islands,
so are only stocking up on special treats.
We love New Zealand, and will be returning later this year for
the America's Cup.
- paul & suzette 5/10/02
Readers - Almost all cruisers rave about
Auckland and the rest of New Zealand, but the capital does have
a dirty little secret - a high rate of violent crime. Much of
it is perpetrated by Pacific Islanders, who make up a disproportionate
percentage of the prison population. A Kiwi friend who has crewed
for us, and whose parents still live in Auckland, says that she
feels much safer jogging in San Francisco than her hometown.
When it comes to doing the Baja Bash - meaning making the 750-mile
upwind passage from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego at the end of
the cruising season - some years are worse than others. From
the reports we've gotten - and several of them appear in this
month's Letters - this was one of the worst years in memory.
It wasn't so much that the winds - 20 to 30 knots - were horribly
strong, but that they blew relentlessly, creating troublesome
seas that never seemed to let up.
"I just got in yesterday from doing the Baja Bash with my
dad aboard our Perry 72," writes John Folvig of the San
Diego-based Perry 72 Elysium. "It seemed particularly
bad this year, as we rarely saw less than 20 knots of wind, regularly
had it mid-20s, and had two days in the 30s - including a top
wind speed of 38 knots. All on the nose, of course. Two days
ago, we heard a Pan Pan broadcast by the Coast Guard for our
friends Rob Runge and Kristen aboard the Pearson 36 ketch Sol
Mate, reporting that they'd lost steerage in heavy seas and
high winds near San Carlos. I spoke with the Coast Guard several
times about the incident, and learned that the couple did arrive
safely and anchored in the lee of a point seven miles south of
San Carlos. Hopefully, they were able to get moving and make
the final seven miles to San Carlos, as I just sailed under that
other point two days ago in 30 plus knots, and know there is
absolutely no protection there."
Rob Runge's account of his Bash with Kristen aboard Sol Mate
appears in this month's Letters.
"Like many kids who grew up in Southern California, my first
experience on a boat was the Buccaneer ride at Magic Mountain,
which is a giant schooner that swings back and forth like a pendulum
high in the air," writes Jean Leitning of Berkeley, who
is crewing aboard Renne Waxlax and Anne Blunden's Cabrillo Beach-based
Swan 65 Cassiopea. "Well, that ride is similar to
the motion of Cassiopea on the first half of our Baja
Bash. Instead of wearing a seatbelt, you wear a tether to keep
you from being launched from the boat. We have enough crew to
do three hours on and nine hours off, so you'd think we'd be
well rested. But it's been so rough that I'm exhausted each time
I crash into my bunk. While getting ready for my 0600 watch,
I mistook a small container of Mexican sour cream for yogurt.
I wasn't sure what Mexican yogurt is supposed to taste like,
so I just kept eating it. Oh well. It turns out that my boyfriend
Dustin was the one who got sick, because rather than surveying
the horizon as we left Cabo in the building seas, he was down
below organizing his bunk. This seemed to bring on a 24-hour
bug, which included aches and fever. It took us just under 40
hours to make the 300 miles from Puerto Vallarta to Cabo, but
it has taken us nearly the same amount of time to make the 175
miles from Cabo San Lucas to Bahia Santa Maria - which is much
slower than we hoped. And we're having to wait out the weather
here. What a change it is from when we were here during the Ha-Ha
in early November, when it was so warm and peaceful. Last night
it was blowing 25 in the anchorage and gusting to 35. It looked
stark and was f--king cold!"
A few days later, after publishing Leitning's thoughts in 'Lectronic
Latitude, we received the following letter:
"It's hard for me to believe that people can complain about
bad delivery weather when they're on a Swan 65," writes
Nick Gibbens of Northern California. "I remember making
one of those Bashes aboard a Carter Two-Tonner with 30 knots
on the nose - and a big bladder of diesel rolling around in the
cockpit. The oncoming watch would designate a guy to wrestle
the fuel blob into a corner and squeeze some diesel into the
tank, while the helmsmen tried to keep the waves from crashing
over him. Since we had to motorsail this way for eight days in
a flat bottomed 42-ft racing boat to get to San Diego, a Swan
65 would have been a major improvement."
Cassiopea made it to Turtle Bay, where several problems
were discovered. They were minor, but the skipper wanted them
taken care of before they continued north into possibly more
bad weather. So Anne Blunden and Jean Leitning made the arduous
trek by land from Turtle Bay back to San Diego; Anne to get boat
parts, Jean to return to work. The van left isolated Turtle Bay
at 0230, and after a long ride over a washboard road, dropped
them off at Vizcaino bus depot at 0600 - just in time to catch
the bus for Tijuana. The bus was surprisingly comfortable, but
thanks to the long distance and stops by the Federales, the entire
trip took almost 24 hours. The next day Anne and Jean drove all
over San Diego finding parts, after which it was time for Anne
to return to the boat. Because the van doesn't run from Vizcaino
to Turtle Bay on Fridays, Anne looked for alternative ways to
get back. A Tijuana taxi driver took her to the salt company
offices to see if she could catch a ride on their plane to Turtle
Bay. "Hell no," was the answer, but in more polite
words. But Anne somehow managed to arrange for a charter plane
to fly - by a rather unusual route - to Turtle Bay. When the
pilot showed up, he told Anne they had to drive to Ensenada because
the Tijuana airport was "too expensive". On the way,
he asked if she minded if they picked up another pilot. Before
it was over, he picked up four pilots. Then he asked if she would
mind if they brought along some meat to drop off at Cedros Islands.
When Anne finally got into the back of the Cessna 182 at the
Ensenada Airport, she had to share the back seat with a side
of beef and a lot of chickens! "It was kinda fun,"
she said. While making an approach at Cedros, Anne saw two sailboats
headed north - and getting pounded. When they finally arrived
at Turtle Bay, the pilot buzzed Cassiopea twice, to try
to let Renne - who had no idea how or when Anne was coming back
- know that she had made it. After landing at Turtle Bay, she
hitched a ride back to town with the Federales. "Everybody
on the boat was shocked to see me," she says. She, in turn,
was shocked to learn that Renne and Dustin had thrown a dinner
and movie party while she was gone, and otherwise had a great
time with the locals.
In other Baja Bash bad news, Bob Fraik of the San Diego based
SC 52 Impulse reports that the 40-ft ketch Fantasy
lost her freestanding carbon fiber mast, leaving a big hole in
the deck. Apparently, there were no injuries. Fraik also reports
that a singlehander named Aaron aboard the 40-ft sloop Brass
Ring lost his engine, began taking on water, then lost his
bilge pumps. As if that wasn't bad enough, he thought his leukemia
was acting up and decided that he needed medical help. At last
word, he'd been airlifted out and his boat left behind. Adam
Sedag also nearly had the sinking feeling with his Alameda-based
Morgan 38 Blarney3 - you can read about it in Letters.
When coming home to San Francisco from Mexico, you never know
what kind of conditions you're going to get. Sometimes you might
do well on the 750-mile Baja Bash, not have a bad time from San
Diego to Point Conception, but then get nailed somewhere along
the last 250 miles from Conception to the Golden Gate. In fact,
that's what happened to Larry Weinhoff's Daly City-based Ericson
28 Synergyzer. According to friends, Weinhoff and crew
made it from Cabo to San Diego in eight days, which is excellent
for a 28-footer, and were jamming up the coast until they encountered
a gale just 120 miles south of the Golden Gate. "We were
just north of Cape San Martin when the port shroud let go and
we lost the mast," they wrote. "We've managed to make
it 55 miles south to Morro Bay, as it was impossible to continue
north in the nine-foot breaking seas atop a nine to 12-foot swell."
"What did the water look like after we crossed the equator
on our way from San Diego to the Marquesas?" asks 'Ricardo'
Bernard of the San Diego-based Valiant 42 Surf Ride -
who is actually crewing aboard the San Diego-based S&S 55
Charisma. "Well, the water looked exactly the same
as it did on the other side - confused! By midday, however, we
found a new wind, and then right on schedule picked up the southwest
trades. At 15 to 20 knots, these trades were more gentle than
the northeast trades, and the water quickly warmed to 80 degrees.
We then got another pleasant surprise - the current that had
been against us became a 1.25 knot favorable current. Thanks
to the wind, current, and following seas, we started averaging
nine knots. We're currently 529 miles from a tropical landfall
in the Marquesas, where hopefully there will be a restaurant
where we can be waited on and throw back some cold ones. It's
a day later now, and last night and today we've had the kind
of sailing conditions that you dream about - pleasant trades,
following seas, and mostly sunny skies. It's very relaxing, but
we're all surfers, so we're itching for some good waves and real
exercise - although we're getting a great isometric workout just
living on this moving boat! I think that sailing and surfing
full time would be a great way to stay in good physical and mental
shape. By the way, Angela 'The Surf Queen' DeVargas, who did
the Ha-Ha with me last year, is also onboard and eager for two
months of surfing in the Marquesas, Tuamotus, and Society Islands."
It's a small sailing world. While walking through the general
store at Two Harbors on Catalina a couple of days after getting
Bernard's email, a couple of guys walked up and asked if we were
the Wanderer. One of them is Paul, who turned out to not only
be the Surf Queen's boyfriend, but is also the contractor who
built Ricardo's surf shop in Oceanside - and the new addition,
too. The other fellow was Giles, described as "the Surf
Queen's good friend" and owner of the Newport 41 Petrel
- as well as a guy who races paddleboards from Catalina to the
In October of last year, Ants Uniga's Chance 3/4 Tonner Eclipse
was knocked off her cradle in La Paz by the fury of hurricane
Juliette. For the next two months, the damage was assessed, and
in December the insurance company agreed to total the boat. Ants
bought her back for salvage value. In early February, he drove
to La Paz and stripped the boat of all her gear, but was then
faced with a dilemma. Should he cut the boat up for cold-molded
construction souvenirs or look for a local buyer? One consideration
was that the yard was going to charge $800 to cut the hull up
and dispose of it. On February 18, Ants sold Eclipse for
one peso, sparing him the disposal fee. She'll be reincarnated
by locals as the main hull of a trimaran! Between now and next
March, Ants reports that old Eclipse parts will be used
to finish off a cold-molded Wylie 31 being built at the newly-formed
Bodfish Boatworks - which just happens to be in the front yard
of his home near Lake Isabella. He intends to sail the boat in
Baja Ha-Ha 10 the following October.
"After three wonderful years of cruising in Mexico with
our Jeanneau 40 Utopia, we're selling the boat, as Cynthia
and Mattie the boat dog are ready for the Caribbean," writes
John Tindle of Hermosa Beach. "We'll miss our friends in
Mexico, but we're tired of motoring, the not-so-clear water,
and the continued hassles of checking in. Although it's time
for us to move on, we'll look forward to seeing many of our old
friends in the Caribbean in the next few years - and even the
Wanderer in St. Barts. We've already purchased a '97 Jeanneau
45 in Martinique for our Caribbean cruising."
Mexico is a wonderful place to cruise, the best parts being that
the people are so friendly, there is so much cruiser camaraderie,
that it's easy, and there is so much variety. The Caribbean has
great cruising, too, the best parts being wonderful sailing breezes,
ultra clear water, countless anchorages, and many cultures. The
down side of the Caribbean is that virtually all of the people
are less friendly and more surly than in Mexico. As for finding
the Wanderer in the Caribbean, here's the time and place: Midnight,
New Year's Eve, Quai Charles de Gaulle, Gustavia, St. Barts.
Bonne année, mes amis!
"Living on the hook for a year in Southern California sure
beats being on the freeway - or for that matter, being in a marina,"
write Mike Lancon and Verna Vanis of the Los Angeles-based 42-ft
Peterson Coaster gaff schooner Lifee P. Baker. "After
leaving Ventura West Marina in January of 2001, we went to San
Diego until June of last year, then to Catalina until February
of this year. Verna, who owns the boat, is still working to top
off the cruising kitty, but hopes to retire soon for a fall departure
to Mexico. I'm retired from 23 years of Navy service, and maintain
the schooner. We've taken first place in both the One More Time
and Schooner Cup Regattas. Latitude has been a great inspiration
to me for 15 years, so if any readers are interested in knowing
how to live on the hook in Southern California, we'd be happy
to exchange information. Just ."
"After a little over two months on the mainland side of
Mexico, we crossed back over to Baja in the middle of April,"
report Dave and Merry Wallace of the Redwood City-based Amel
Maramu Air Ops. "We had a nice crossing, and then
a couple of good days working our way back up to Puerto Escondido.
Although we had a great time on the mainland, we're really happy
to be back in the Sea of Cortez. Sure, the wind is capricious
in the Sea, but the anchorages are spectacular and the marine
life is fantastic. One of the benefits of the Sea's typically
calm water - besides a good night's sleep at anchor - is being
able to better see the dolphins, whales, and turtles. Our plan
is to hang out in the Middle Sea - including the Loreto Fest
during the first weekend in May - for six weeks before we bash
home to the Bay Area. Speaking of Loreto, some 'Nautical Stairway'
bucks must have landed there, because they've installed three
finger piers in the panga marina. Two of the finger piers are
long enough to accommodate 40-ft boats, and the crew of Martha
Rose reported on the local net that the approach and entrance
had at least 8.5 feet at low tide. We don't know what they charge
or if any services are available, but there was a 22-ft sailboat
and a 30-ft powerboat tied up the day we went by. We're just
not sure if this is 'progress'.
"Knowing your respect for Eric Hiscock, we took a photo
of his old Wanderer V, which was berthed next to us at
Vuda Point Marina in Fiji last fall," report Steve and Jamie
Sidells of the San Francisco-based Celestial 48 Reba.
"The Hiscock's old boat is now owned by Andy Hobbs of the
Auckland area. He was very interested to learn that the publisher
of the famous Latitude 38 uses 'the Wanderer' as his pen
name. Following the tragic events of last fall, and our recent
lengthy and delightful travels in New Zealand and Australia,
we now plan to remain in the South Pacific, centered around Fiji,
for the foreseeable future. Life in this part of the world is
The 'Wanderer' pen name was the result of a 'Bay Wanderer' series
of articles about sailing on San Francisco Bay, followed by some
'World Wanderer' articles about sailing elsewhere. After a while,
the two-worded nom de plume seemed clumsy and confusing, so it
was shortened to The Wanderer. We don't mean any disrespect to
the Hiscocks or Sterling Hayden, all of whom were far better
sailors than we. Frankly, we're embarrassed that it turned out
"It was interesting to read in 'Lectronic that the
Rakelly family aboard the Cascade 36 Voyager had only
17 hours of wind on the nose in the Red Sea, and that at least
two other boats - Sea Glass out of Dana Point and Star
of the West out of Auckland - sailed all the way up the Red
Sea with fair winds," writes Charles Wagoner of the Norfolk,
Virginia-based Ranger 28 Abaris. "I just received
an email from Glenn and Paula Richardson of the Deltaville, Virginia,
based Tayana 37 Pura Vida, who left on a circumnavigation
in November of '97. I crewed with them in the Caribbean, Tahiti,
Fiji, and Oz, and they've now made it as far as Ras Banas, Egypt.
They report that unlike the above-mentioned three boats, they've
had a hard beat up the Red Sea with many delays to wait out bad
weather. So they and others have been getting the normal Red
Sea treatment. By the way, the Richardsons stopped at Eritrea
to have a pump repaired, and really enjoyed it. They also stopped
in Sudan to wait out weather and get an alternator repaired.
Glenn is a surfer who has been taking advantage of every opportunity
to hit the waves.
Jim and Mary Haagenson, who recently completed a circumnavigation
aboard their Glen Cove (Vallejo)-based Force 50 Illusion,
forwarded some bad news from Wattie and Jill Springs, a Kiwi
couple who had been heading north in the Red Sea aboard their
41-ft Cariad. "Hullo everybody. Not good news, as
we ran on a reef at El Qesir just south of Safaga in the Red
Sea. She was towed off, but leaked. While being towed, she sank
to the cabin top - although to everybody's surprise, no further.
So she's sitting off the wharf awaiting the next move. We are
very tired, after sleeping only two of the last 36 hours. Sorry
we have not been in contact, as there hasn't been any opportunity
to communicate since Massawa. We've not enjoyed this stretch
much because of headwinds that have been strong at times. I'm
contacting my son to come out and help us. Wish us luck."
"We passed the same spot last year during our circumnavigation,"
report the Haagensons, "and it's very desolate. We completed
our trip around in January, and have moved back to land. Illusion
is for sale in Fort Lauderdale."
There are differing reports on what kind of boat Cariad
is, The Haagensons describe her as a "41-ft fiberglass sloop",
while Tony Johnson aboard Maverick said she was a "40-ft
lifetime labor of love in wood". In any event, at last word
the good news was that she was on dry land and being repaired.
Judging from all the reports we've gotten, there haven't been
any problems between Muslims and cruisers since 9/11. But Wendy
and Hall Palmer of the Palo Alto-based Beneteau First 53f5 Relativity,
currently in Kemer, Turkey, met a couple who had a problem before
9/11. "A couple of our dockmates here at Kemer are Brits
Peter and Shirley Billing, who arrived here via the Red Sea last
year aboard the 35-ft ferro cement ketch Clypeus. During their
transit of the Red Sea, the Billings - who are in their 60s and
are doublehanding their boat under challenging circumstances
- were arrested in Eritrea by government and paramilitary forces
and charged with spying. Their story is a very interesting one
in many ways, and Shirley has just completed a book about it
called Red Sea Peril. At the very least, it's a good read, and
is not to be missed by anyone planning a Red Sea transit. The
book sells for $11.45 and is available from Amazon.com."
As for their own adventures, the Palmers had this to say: "We're
here in Kemer, Turkey, where the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht
Rally is scheduled to start in less than a week. The recent unpleasantness
in the Middle East, combined with a slower economy, has reduced
the fleet to 37 boats - although there may be additions or dropouts
in the next few days. Hasan Kacmaz, the manager of the Kemer
Marina and spark plug of the rally, is characteristically upbeat
and going ahead full speed with all arrangements. We're still
on board for the event - despite some insurance issues that we
are trying to finesse with a second policy through a British
agent. We'll evaluate each leg of the rally as news and experience
indicate. Nonetheless, Park Kemer Marina has been fantastic!
In our absence, they obtained all new leather upholstery for
our main cabin at one-third the cost quoted in France; installed
a new dodger, bimini, and anchor windlass; and fixed our engine-driven
watermaker and SSB. And all at minimal cost. It is amazing that
things have worked out so well, given our total inability to
communicate in Turkish. We are so pleased that we have already
paid to winter over in Kemer again. We'll be returning to the
States in July to look for a Florida winter home, then return
to sail in Turkey for August through October. In late October,
we'll put the boat on the hard again."
as the Baja Bash may have been this year, some cruiser trips
up the Red Sea were even worse. Terry Johnson of the Richmond-based
Ericson 39 Maverick reports from Egypt: "The mechanical
problems we've been faced with have kept us pinned in Egypt,
and this has had a dampening effect on the skipper's morale of
late, as he sits in the marina crankily growing his beard. Although
the majority of boats have made it through the Canal by now with
only modest difficulty, what follows are some examples of what
has happened to some less lucky boats in the Red Sea. The Kiwi
boat Achates was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm
early in March as they headed up the Red Sea. Their VHF and autopilot
were destroyed. Oceans Free, a British-flagged 71-footer
some of you will remember as having lost half her rudder and
keel as a result of a grounding at Batam, Indonesia, is finally
through the Suez Canal - but at a price. The boat had to be hauled
a second time in Malaysia after the stern gland failed at sea,
causing such serious flooding that some furniture had to be torn
out to get at the leak. The boat made it to the harbor after
some scary hours, but Captain Peter and his wife Lynn decided
they'd had enough, and hired a delivery crew to make repairs
and take the boat to the Med. Once through the Suez Canal, however,
the boat suffered another problem when the engine failed during
a gale on the way to Malta. When last heard, they were becalmed
and without power. The engine of Grace, flag unknown,
malfunctioned and cannot be repaired. They have considered putting
the boat in a container here at Safaga, Egypt, and having her
shipped to the Med for repairs. Another possibility is sailing
to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to install a new engine. Saudi Arabia
can only be visited in an emergency, and this might be stretching
the definition. The vessel Northstar has found diesel entering
the engine oil at about a liter and hour, suggesting broken rings,
and is attempting to sail to Safaga for major engine repairs.
Chamois, a French or French-Canadian boat, hit the reef
attempting to enter an anchorage after dark with two other boats
that made it. She couldn't be kedged off, and had to be abandoned
by her owner and crew. At last report she is still on the reef
and salvage attempts have not been successful. A steel French
boat of an indeterminate name has gone on the reef between here
and Suez, presumably as a result of her anchor dragging, and
cannot be salvaged. The owner of the large catamaran Bohay
was killed in an accident while attempting to remove the rig
from his boat in Phuket, Thailand. He was detaching the rigging
wires at the masthead when the pivoting spar, which had not been
adequately supported, fell to the ground. He died a few hours
later at the hospital. The boat was sold to a German couple by
his widow, and they made it to the Bab Al Mandeb at the bottom
of the Red Sea, where they suffered a dismasting in 50 knots
and rough seas. Although there were no serious injuries, they
issued a Mayday, abandoned the boat, and were rescued by a German
navy helicopter. The boat was taken in tow by a Chinese freighter,
and a rendezvous was scheduled with a tug that would take the
cat into a Yemenese port. When the freighter arrived at the rendezvous
spot, the tug was not there. The owners of the shipping company
instructed the captain to cut the boat loose to maintain his
schedule. About a week later the boat was found, but all gear
had been stripped. But we've yet to hear of any problems caused
by pirates or political activists."
"We just returned after a month in New Zealand enjoying
sailing aboard Robert and Kim Milligan's new-to-them J/130
RAM," write John and Debby Dye of the Channel Islands-based
Islander 41 Lovely Rita. "John and I were amazed
at how well the boat sails in both light and heavy winds. For
example, sailing back from an overnighter at Kawau Island, we
had about seven knots of wind, but with the chute up were able
to sail along at 6.5 knots. When we left Great Barrier Island
for Gulf Harbor a couple of days later, the wind increased from
25 to 42 knots over a three-hour time span. Despite the water
breaking all over the boat, she handled it well and we were doing
6.5 to 8 knots. We actually decided to return to Great Barrier
Island, as Robert didn't want to risk breaking anything, but
he knows the boat responds well to rough weather. He's now taking
care of all the leaks in preparation for the mad dash for Fiji.
John and I feel lucky that we live in the Channel Islands area,
where the wind and anchorages are the best. But after a month
of sailing in New Zealand, we feel that Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa,
and San Miguel Islands have met their match. There are many
anchorages in this part of New Zealand, and the water is so flat
you tend to forget that you're on a boat. In addition, the hiking
is incredible, with varied vegetation and funny looking animals.
But the people talk funny. We hope to return for a third time
before too long. By the way, while sailing on the Hauraki Gulf,
you always see America's Cup boats."
"We recently returned from Bahia de Careyes, where we celebrated
our 31st wedding anniversary - and our first anniversary of cruising,"
report Jerry and Mary Anderson of the San Francisco-based Hans
Christian 33 La Sirena. "We anchored in front of
the Bel Air Hotel, and were welcomed like first class guests
by the staff. In fact, they set up a special table for us on
the beach overlooking the bay. They brought out torches to light
the evening, and a little furnace with coals to ward off the
evening chill. We had an excellent meal while watching the sunset.
Our every need was attended to by the wonderful staff, and was
topped off by a delicious chocolate cake with "Feliz Aniversario"
written on the top. It was absolutely one of the most memorable
moments of our lives."
We didn't get much of a report on this year's Loreto Fest, held
in early May at Puerto Escondido, Baja. Blair Grinols of the
Vallejo-based 46-ft catamaran Capricorn Cat did, however, provide
a weather report. "It's cool here, as the high was only
78° yesterday and it got all the way down to 65° last
night! The water temperature varies from 70° to 73°,
which is too cold for me. Give me the 80+ degrees at Z-town any
day. By the way, Maureen on Alouette de Mer was on the
radio this morning from down in Z-town, and says it's still nice
We also got a short report that the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week,
thanks to a near time conflict with Loreto Fest and nobody really
being in charge until just before it started, was down to 35
boats for what we believe was the 20th anniversary. Those who
did attend, however, apparently had a great time.
"I had a wild thing happen just after we left Loreto Fest
that really had me scratching my head," Grinols continued.
"I had earlier jumped in the water and cleaned the raw water
intake holes for my sail drives. But as we were later motoring
along, one engine overheated because there wasn't any raw water
flow. I figured that perhaps a bunch of 'stuff' had broken loose
during my cleaning and plugged the strainer, so I cleaned it
again. I still got no water. So I took the intake hose off and
blew through it, and finally got good water flow. After a few
minutes of running the engine, however, the water flow ceased
once again! So I blew through the hose and got water flow once
again. Meanwhile, I had started the other engine to keep us underway
- and soon it over heated! I shut it down and continued working
on the first one. After about three times of removing the hose
and blowing it out, I took the intake system apart. What did
I find when I took the inlet valve clear out? The remains of
what I believe was a hermit crab! He had been in there so well
that I had to dig him out with some needle nose pliers - with
water gushing into my engine room the whole time. This was no
problem, as the bilge pump took care of it. Anyway, what do you
think I found blocking the raw water intake on the other engine?
Yep, that little crab's brother! All I can figure is that they
crawled into the intakes via the sail drives when they were small,
then grew up inside. I guess my cleaning broke them loose from
whatever they were clinging to, and were just floating around
in there - until my starting the engines would suck them into
the inlet valves! Ain't boating fun?"
One of the familiar faces we saw at our Circumnavigator's Ball
at Sail Expo was Bill Chapman, who had done a circumnavigation
aboard his and his late wife Diana's Stockton-based Swan 47 Bones
VIII. When we asked what he was up to, Bill introduced us
to Angela, the new lady in his life, and reported they were leaving
for French Polynesia in the first week of May. We had hoped to
contact them before they left for further details, but were regrettably
overwhelmed by the show and deadlines." Bon voyage!
Whatever happened to Big O, the Ocean 71 ketch that we
owned for so many years and sailed between California and the
Eastern Med? We sold her in St. Barts five years ago to Canadian
Tom Ellison, who had been doing charters in the Pacific Northwest
for 20 years aboard a series of progressively larger boats. That's
all we knew until John Neal of Mahina Tiare sent us the
following message: "Tom reports that he's had Ocean Light,
formerly Big O, in the shed for months, stripping and
repainting everything - including the mast. He says they are
sold out again for their entire season - which is 22 sessions
between May 10 and October 4. Sarah, who was just a month old
when Tom and his wife came down to the Caribbean to pick up the
boat, is now five!" Twenty-two sold out sessions a year
with nine guests each session - we're impressed! We're also delighted
that the old girl is being so well taken care of and bringing
pleasure to so many people. Check out the Ocean Light website
to learn about their unusual 'bear' - not bareboat - charters.
Given the trouble folks had bashing home from Mexico this year,
it's hard to imagine anyone getting excited about going back
this winter. But we are. Here are events we're looking forward
to: 1). Baja Ha-Ha, October 28 to November 9. 2) Sea of Cortez
Cruiser Clean-Up? November? 3) Banderas Bay Surfing/Sailing Week,
early December. 4) Zihua SailFest, late January or early February.
5) Punta De Mita Spinnaker Cup For Charity, March 19. 6) Banderas
Bay Regatta, March 20-23. 7) Sea of Cortez Sailing Week, early
April. 8) Loreto Fest, early May. Hope to sail with you at all