With reports this month from
Velella on a fast crossing from
Mexico to the Marquesas; from Neosol
on getting beached in Banderas Bay; from Northern
Exposure on the beauty of Alaskan cruising; from Irie
on the movie and restaurant business in Tenacatita Bay; from
Bluefin out in the middle of the
Pacific; from Dennis and Paula at Loreto
Fest; from Sun Dazzler at Barillas
Marina in El Salvador; from Wanderlust
on the Baja Bash; from Destiny on
returning to Panama; and lots of Cruise
Velella - Wylie 31
Wendy Hinman & Garth Wilcox
Mexico To The Marquesas
Our 'Pacific Puddle Jump' of 2,800 miles took less time than
we expected - under 23 days - especially for such a long distance
across the doldrums. It was also more pleasant than we had anticipated.
We had days of perfect sailing conditions, during which we would
putter around - much like at home on a Sunday - doing little
projects, cooking and reading. We passed the time sleeping, cooking
and eating, navigating, reading, listening to the radio nets,
making a French flag, and making sail changes and/or repairs
Needless to say, on such a long passage there were times when
the journey seemed like an endless test of endurance. We did
our best not to whine or ask, "Are we there yet?" The
toughest times were the endless string of squalls that brought
torrential downpours - sometimes along with huge gusts of wind.
Trying to cook and serve meals while the waves sloshed around
like the agitation cycle in a washing machine was not easy. There
were many times when I swore that dinner the following night
would be Power Bars instead of chicken stir fry with rice or
similar meals. On a number of occasions when the conditions were
particularly challenging, we did resort to canned ravioli or
chili. (By the way, chili is next to impossible to find in Mexico.)
Here are the facts: We departed on March 30 from Puerto Vallarta,
and arrived at Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas on April 23. We covered
the 2,800 miles in 22 days and 22 hours. We only motored for
two hours, and that was only because we weren't moving fast enough
for our towing generator to generate enough power to keep up
with our refrigerator. The average wind speed was eight knots,
our average boat speed was five knots. Our highest speed was
10.2 knots, our lowest was zero. Our highest daily run was 167
miles, our slowest was 56 miles, our average was 118 miles. We
crossed the equator on April 16 at 129 degrees, 26.5 minutes,
and shared a bottle of tasty blackberry wine - thanks Mary and
Joel - with King Neptune and a Sea Nymph.
The highlight of our passage was a mid-ocean rendezvous with
the sailing vessel Queen Jane, where we passed books and
ice-cold cokes and ice across the water via a boathook in dry
bags. We had two casualties of consequence: we broke our spinnaker
pole and shredded our asymmetrical spinnaker in a big squall.
Garth also got three opportunities to disassemble the head, and
retied a windvane block after a lashing broke.
We left ahead of a big pack of boats, and tended to have less
wind than they did. After all we heard about the tradewinds,
we were surprised that there wasn't more breeze. Then again,
we also were surprised that we didn't face a number of days trapped
in the doldrums, where there is normally little wind and numerous
When we saw the lush green mountains of the Marquesas, we had
our reward for the long crossing. Would we do a passage like
this again? Absolutely, yes! The sense of accomplishment, and
the beauty and culture of the islands made it all worthwhile.
P.S. You need to add another boat to your West Coast circumnavigator's
list: Vela, 40-foot Eastport Pinky Cutter, Chuck, Dawn,
Garth and Linda Wilcox, Palo Alto. The family left San Francisco
in August of '73 and returned in July of '78, having spent a
year rebuiding their boat after running on a reef near Suva,
- wendy & garth 5/25/01
Readers - Garth and Wendy's passage
was a quick one, particularly considering they sailed all the
way and their Wylie 31 is not a light boat. But it didn't surprise
us, as they both have lots of racing experience and getting the
most out of their boat comes as second nature to them.
Neosol - Cascade 42
Alex & Rachel Unger
Aground On Banderas Bay
Alex and Rachel were in the process of dropping their mainsail
after a beautiful day of sailing on Banderas Bay, when they felt
their boat bump on something. "Hey, there must be some reef
out here!" Alex shouted. At the time, they were about a
half mile offshore between Nuevo Vallarta and the mouth of the
Rio Amica river. A few seconds later, they felt another bump.
The couple immediately started the boat's engine and tried to
bust loose, but the current was too strong and they were already
in too shallow water. "It all happened so quickly,"
remembers Alex. "Before we knew it, we were in the surf
line, and there was no way to prevent the boat from going ashore."
After a Mayday was broadcast, cruisers and other mariners from
nearby Nuevo Vallarta and Marina Paradise were quick to respond.
They lent their lines, muscles and boats to try to get Neosol
back into deep water. Within an hour, the powerful fishing vessel
Two Knots was on the scene. A line from the fishing boat
was secured to Neosol to try to pull her off. A line was
also attached high on the mizzen mast so that a group of volunteers
- who had waded into the water - could try to pull the boat further
onto her side. Unfortunately, the tow line broke. To make matters
worse, the mizzen mast snapped where the line handlers had been
pulling on it.
Soon the Mexican Navy showed up. Because of the shoal waters,
their 500-foot line was about 500 feet too short. Thanks to the
efforts of cruisers, more lines were tied together and then ferried
through the surf to the line from the Navy ship. But once again
the line snapped before the Neosol budged. After standing
by for several more hours, the Navy gave up, leaving Alex and
Rachel to spend the night aboard their badly heeling and beached
boat. The Navy did promise to return the next morning at high
But well after high tide, there was no sign of the Navy. It was
Sunday, and they weren't answering the VHF. Nonetheless, people
began gathering near the beached boat. By this time, Neosol
was knee-deep on her side with waves crashing into her cockpit.
It was a sight that seemed to inspire photographers, and at least
one smiling tourist posed in front of the stricken boat. Alex
and Rachel, sitting on the sloping deck of their boat, appeared
to be amazingly cheerful, considering they had spent the night
lurching on their beached boat, which was in danger of being
As the day wore on, fellow cruisers began expressing doubts that
a boat so far up the beach could be pulled off. A Mexican fisherman
shook his head and said the "el barco" would soon be
way up on the beach because the tide would come way up with "la
luna". Another Mexican said the "keelo" was broken,
and just shrugged his shoulders.
And as the day wore on, it began to look as though there would
be no more attempts to save the boat. But friends of Alex and
Rachel wouldn't give up. They got 1,500 feet of heavy duty tow
line from Desperado Marine, and tied smaller lines to it so they
could be picked up by jet skis and/or pangas, and taken out past
the surf. Even though the tide had started to go out again, volunteers
donned lifejackets and secured lines to the top of the boat's
mast to pull her further on her side.
When a call went out for a jet-ski with two people to take the
heavy line out to parasail boats, and some parasail boats to
pull, the response was terrific. Then a group of men and women
braved the crashing surf in chest high water to pull the line
attached to the top of the mast. Another group sat on the perilous
surfside tow rail of Neosol, hoping their weight would
further heel the boat over.
The tide continued to go out, which wasn't good. But the surf
was big, which helped keep the boat buoyant. The surf, however,
was hard on those trying to hold the line to the mast. In fact,
they looked like bungee jumpers as they flew into the air and
crashed back down in to the water. They and others pulled in
unison - until knocked off their feet by big waves. Even though
it wasn't clear if the boat could be saved, it was obvious that
everyone was having a blast trying!
Suddenly, El Gallean of Nuevo Vallarta, a sportfishing
boat with horsepower to spare, arrived on the scene. The heavy
tow line was quickly passed to them. As soon as the big boat
started pulling, Neosol began moving into deeper water
and righting herself! Soon the mast line handlers could let go
of their lines and the people on the rail started jumping into
the water. There was a cheer from the crowd at 5:45 pm as the
boat once again floated in deep water. As she was rushed to the
boatyard, everyone gathered the lines and lifejackets, exhausted
but filled with an incredible sense of accomplishment.
The next evening, Jeff and Linda from the Delaware-based Miss
Lindy invited everyone to Desperado Marine for a party. Jeff
got on the VHF to make an announcement: "The cervezas are
on me. Helping Alex and Rachel save their boat with everyone
else was great - even better than sex!" Alex and Rachel,
still dazed from two sleepless nights, were there to thank everyone.
It turned out that the damage to their rugged Cascade wasn't
as bad as it could have been. In any event, the assembled cruisers
agreed that they'd want the same kind of help if they ever found
themselves in a similar situation. "It was like a barn raising
in that it wouldn't have been successful without the help of
everyone," said Bruce Van Brocklin of the Alameda-based
Columbia 50 Toujours 'L Audace.
Special thanks are due Dick Markie and his Paradise Marina staff;
Bob Jones of the Newport Beach-based Drumbeat; Bruce Van
Brocklin and Vicki Nelson of Toujours 'L Audace; Tom and
Viki Mortensen of the Alameda-based Valiant 40 Anticipation;
Jim Van Sickle of the San Francisco-based Wayward; Chuck
and Anita of the Portland-based 401K, Jeff and Linda of
the Bath-based Miss Lindy, John and Judy of the Vancouver-based
Quest; Kent and Kerry on the Vancouver-based Glen David;
Jerry of the Vancouver-based Valera Liz; Chris and Brenda
of the Marina del Rey-based Peggy Doll; Jim of Picante;
Steve and Katherine of the Richmond-based Sojourn; Nick
and Carol Rau of the Nuevo Vallarta-based Mucho Gusto;
Mike of North Sails in Puerto Vallarta and Magic Carpet;
Bruce and Pam of the Honolulu-based Justice; Terry of
the Nuevo Vallarta-based El Gallean; Two Knots; America Eagle;
Desperado Marine, a bunch of Kent State students; the Mexican
Navy, and anybody else that I may have failed to mention.
- vicki nelson, toujours
- Landfall 38
Jeff Coult & Friends
Tracy Arm, Alaska
As you might remember, after spending last summer exploring southeast
Alaska, I decided to leave my boat in Juneau for the winter so
I could return home to work, then continue exploring Alaska this
summer. The fact that I got a slip in downtown Juneau for $70
a month and escaped the tax man in California helped validate
After a very mild Alaskan winter here, I returned to find my
boat none the worse for the winter weather. It took about a week
to re-commission the systems that had been winterized. The water
system was purged of the non-toxic anti-freeze; the fuel tanks
were cleaned (a very easy job thanks to the large inspection
ports; the sails were taken out of storage and hanked on (since
my friend Dave took responsibility for this job, I didn't have
to worry about hanking the jib on upside down again) the bottom
was cleaned; and the lockers were scrubbed. One of the advantages
of the huge tides - 20 feet - in this part of the world is that
most harbors have a grid system that allows you to float your
boat onto a fixed system of timbers at high tide, tie up to vertical
pilings, and then wait for low tide to set your boat gently down
on the grid mat. The result is a free haul-out - albeit a pretty
After getting the boat in order, Dave and Anette, friends from
Alameda, arrived and the cruising season began. My desire was
to give them the most awesome Alaskan experience possible in
the shortest amount of time, so the Tracy Arm - Fords Terror
area fit the bill perfectly. Here's how Anette described some
"Wow! I was told that Alaska was so beautiful that when
you experience it, it takes time for it all to sink in and become
real enough to enjoy. And that's correct. After a good night's
sleep - well, except for the dramatic squall in the middle of
the night - in a little cove with the bear who ignored us, we
headed to Tracy Arm. In fact, we spent the day travelling in
Tracy Arm, which seemed to get more beautiful as we went along.
It was amazing. First we passed waterfalls and mountains, then
we started seeing icebergs. The first one looked like a magnificent
aqua blue ice sculpture. Then there was another and another,
until we seemed to be seeing every possible size and shape. It
was like watching a parade of ice sculpture floats.
"Then it started to sprinkle and the wind got colder. The
beautiful mountain peaks were now covered in gray clouds. We
motored on in the rain, happy to just put more layers of clothes
on. Just when we were numbed up and used to it, we turned a corner
and were back in sunshine. We took off a layer and set our gloves
out on the deck to dry. It didn't take long in the bright sun.
"When we got to the glacier, we found ourselves standing
and staring for some time before we could put into words what
we were feeling. Awesome beauty! After you've gotten to the speaking
point looking at the glacier, you turn around and are amazed
at the powerful mountains, with miles of pure snow, sheer rock
walls right down to the calm water full of icebergs. I don't
believe it's possible to describe what we saw, and not even photographs
do it justice. You just have to see it yourself.
"The next day we were back in the cove we started from.
The bear is gone, but Jeff alerted us to a whale nearby! It's
very exciting for me, as I've made many attempts, but never was
able to see a whale in the wild until today. This has all been
way beyond my expectations. Tomorrow, Ford's Terror. It's hard
to imagine anything more beautiful and amazing than what we've
seen, but Jeff just smiles and says, "Just you wait!"
- jeff 6/15/01
Readers - For more stunning photographs
of Northern Exposure and crew in Alaska, check out 'Lectronic Latitude for June 14.
Irie - Cascade 36
Richard McKay & Karen Peterson
Late Season In Tenacatita
Thanks to some boat work in Mazatlan, we got a late start on
the cruising season. So when we finally left, we sailed straight
down to Tenacatita Bay, arriving on March 26. There were still
about two dozen boats on the hook in bay, but as we write this
on May 8, there are a lot less. Sometimes, we and our buddy-boat
Capricorn IV have had the whole place to ourselves.
The weather has been more unsettled than in previous years, and
when we tried to head north last week, we were blown back by
30 knots of wind on the nose. Oh well, this is a pretty wonderful
place to be stuck for awhile. It's still three weeks until hurricane
season, and anyway, the water is only 72 degrees, too cold for
tropical storms to develop.
Paris Tropical - or the 'French Restaurant', as everybody refers
to it - is still operating, and there is more good news. All
the land questions and disputes are said to have been resolved,
so Cyril and Vinciane will definitely be reopening the restaurant
next season in November, and will be keeping it open until May
15. From November to December 15, they'll be open from 2 to 11
p.m.; from December 15 until May 15, they'll be open from 8 a.m.
to 11 p.m. They will be hiring additional help in order to serve
breakfast, lunch and dinner. The additional services that they
offer will include laundry, groceries purchased from your list,
gasoline, propane, ice, garbage, book exchange, small on-site
store, a "dangerous" happy hour, and lots of cold beer.
Their special every-other-week BBQ will continue starting with
Thanksgiving. They also plan to get a television and a satellite
dish for the restaurant so folks can watch the news, weather
and sporting events. And finally, in the far-off summer of 2002,
Cyril and Vinciane plan to get married in France. But they'll
be having a big party to celebrate at their restaurant before
they close for the summer. Oh, yes, they also want to distribute
The last couple of weeks here at Tenacatita, we have been watching
a film crew make a movie called Keep The Faith for Showtime.
It's about Adam Clayton Powell, one of the first African Americans
elected to the U.S. Congress, and will air in February of 2002.
This is the fourth movie to be shot in Tenacatita Bay. We only
know of the new one and McHale's Navy, for which the building
now occupied by Paris Tropical was built. Vinciane says that
the first movie was filmed before there were any bulidings in
the area, and that the other one was an 'erotic' film.
The current film crew set up partitions in the French Restaurant
and turned part of it into what's supposed to be a bar in Bimini.
Another section was turned into what's supposed to be an apartment
in New York City! Meanwhile, Cyril and Vinciane - who were hired
to provide snacks for a crew of 80 each day - had to move into
the building that usually serves as their kitchen.
The film crew apparently had a problem trying to film a New York
City segement at night, as the natural jungle noises didn't sound
right in what's supposed to be a city. Vinciane was even asked
if she could do something about it! She told them that birds
and wild animals aren't battery operated, so they don't have
The movie crew was tolerant of our watching them shoot, and were
also nice about answering our questions. We thought that maybe
this would be our big chance to become stars, but we soon realized
that the chances of modern day cruisers appearing in a movie
about an African American Congressman in the '60s were darn slim.
We did get to meet Adam Clayton Powell IV, and that was a thrill.
Vanessa Williams is also in the movie, but we never saw her.
Now all the excitement is over, and it only remains for the movie
crew to restore the French Restaurant to its previous condition.
Cyril and Vinciane are packing the last stuff into their house
in town for when they leave. And the wind has begun to blow pleasantly
out of the south, so we leave for Mazatlan tomorrow.
- karen & richard 5/8/01
Bluefin - Swan 46
David McGuire, Crew
Sausalito To Oceania
Lat. 14.58.0 N; Lon. 131 25.1 W.
We're now two weeks out of Sausalito, 1,000 miles from any shore,
heading pretty much south at eight knots. Before we took off,
we were reminded of the sailors' truism that you often get either
too little wind or too much wind. So we began our voyage in the
manner of the Polynesians, by placing a pa ti leaf lei on the
bow. It's to appease the wind gods and is not to be removed except
by the seas. We also left a lei of yellow orchids floating in
the waters beneath the Golden Gate, bidding our safe return.
The coastal winds of Northern California gave us a friendly push
- actually, more like a playful slap - of square waves and wind
on the nose for a day or so. But even the normally dependable
northwesterlies couldn't be depended on. So we close reached
southwest with our asymmetrical kite, escaping the clutches of
the Southern California bight in search of wind to free ourselves
of our last connection with land.
Once we escaped the land, we got caught in a large and stable
Pacific High, which shut the wind down completely. As a result,
we spent the past six days and nights with the half ounce spinnaker
strapped to the headstay, close-reaching to the west in variable
winds. When we get the northeasterly, we'll head south, tacking
downwind in search of the trades.
Despite the light winds and trying to run down the latitudes,
we have managed to click off 1,400 miles in the nine days since
Catalina. As I write this, the wind gods are starting to smile
a tradewind grin. We now have cumulus clouds and a steady 15
knots from the northeast, allowing us to reach along nicely across
the indigo sea. In fact, the sailing is now glorious.
There are four of us aboard, but without our non-human fifth
and sixth crewmembers, we'd be exhausted wrecks. Our friends,
Wayne the Windvane, and Autobahn Pilot, have spurred Bluefin
onward when we humans were too beat to steer. After the first
three days of steering watch on and off, we were grateful for
their help. In addition to being silent, they eat little.
Who said sailing to the tropics is leisurely and languorous activity?
Not a sailor. Between stowing the last loose stores, fastening
the things that never got fastened in our hurry to escape, and
the sail changes and piloting necessary to move a sailboat across
the sea, sleep has been an elusive commodity. And when you get
just four to six hours of sleep out of every 24, sleep is almost
coveted more than food. This week we hooked two yellowfin, three
mahi, a wahoo - and said a brief 'hello' to a striped marlin.
Christian, our purser, Belgian chef, and former dot.com attorney,
prepared the fish perfectly, and they happily dwell within us.
Jim, our bosun, 'head' engineer, and ocean racer who did the
Singlehanded TransPac in his Express 27 last summer, has already
rebuilt the rebuilt head - try that underway - and is busy firing
up the new systems. Chris, the captain and owner, has been busy
literally nailing things down. He was the first to catch our
dinner - in more ways than one. The chronicler and navigator
- a biologist gone astray, but now back on course - who has previously
crossed the Pacific and has two decades of ocean racing - has
helped maintain the VMG and kept Bluefin sailing south.
Sailing along at night is like tumbling through a dimensionless
darkness, cutting a wake of fire through space, streaming constellations
in our wake, leaving the stars paled by the myriad fiery diatoms.
We know what it's like to exist ashore. Now we're finding out
what it's like to live again. Today is my birthday. Back home,
I'd be too preoccupied with the minutiae of daily life to ponder
who and what we are, and where we are going. But on this morning's
watch, I was greeted by a limitless sea - and a salutation taped
to the boom. I'm fortunate to have such great shipmates and a
fine boat to sail - but it is the sea that gives me the greatest
thanks. Like life, the important part of the voyage seems to
be the passage, and not the destination - even if the destination
is the South Pacific.
- david 05/28/01
Dennis & Paula
Backstreets, Cal 31
(Sea Of Cortez)
The sixth annual Loreto Fest - a party to benefit the children
and greater community of Loreto - was held at nearby Puerto Escondido,
Baja, from May 17th through the 20th. The crowd began arriving
- by cruising boat, catamaran, cat, kayak and camper - at Puerto
Escondido a week before the first scheduled event. Cruisers,
former cruisers and wannabe cruisers gathered to celebrate the
lifestyle - and the approach of skinny dipping season in the
Sea of Cortez. One hundred and seventy cruising boats were anchored
in the harbor during the Fest, with six RVs and two tents parked
The Loreto Fest was originally conceived as a means of gathering
enough people in Puerto Escondido to clean the area up. But over
the years, so much has been cleaned up that it no longer requires
many people power hours. The excess energy has gone into throwing
a big four-day party. After a few years, the sponsoring Hidden
Port YC members were surprised at how many thousands of dollars
were left over from activities such as beer and T-shirt sales.
Since then, the primary focus of the Fest evolved into that of
a pleasurable fundraiser for the local community.
This year's Fest was presided over by Commodore Elvin of Western
Sea, and his partner Connie of Sunlover. Elvin reported
that after some initial difficulties, he was able to obtain the
necessary permits and cooperation of local officials - because
of the thousands of dollars in Fest proceeds that have been distributed
to local groups in the years past. All Fest profits are dedicated
to charitable agencies in the greater Loreto area. In addition,
Juan, Alocus and Elvin made special arrangements with Immigration,
and the Port Captain allowed Juan to check in 92 boats at the
clubhouse. This saved the skippers the 36-mile round-trip to
town. Nonetheless, almost $3,000 in port fees were paid by the
Traditionally, the Fest begins on Thursday with a ham test administered
by Mel of Tea and Honey. Under the new and relaxed code
rules, a number of cruisers were able to upgrade to General Class
licenses. A class provided by Gene and Jo of Sunbear trained
six cruisers in Morse Code - and all six passed the five word
per minute test.
The club provided two dinners and a pancake breakfast for participants.
On Saturday evening, some 450 chicken dinners were served. There
was live music during nearly all of the Fest, provided by cruising
musicians and coordinated by Bill of DBK. As many as 20
musicians played in the 'PE band'. The highlight of the music
was the original composition Looking Good and Feeling Fine by
Chris of Debonair. Pepe and Sue of Melissa also
performed. Most days the live music began at 10:30 am and continued
for the cruiser's listening and dancing pleasure until about
'Looking Good and Feeling Fine' - a saying made famous by Peetie
of Vela - was the theme of this year's Fest. Peetie and
her husband Bob are founders and charter members of the Hidden
Port YC - and will both be 80 years young this year! The Fest
was dedicated to this wonderful couple, and their birthday was
celebrated by 350 cruisers singing 'Happy Birthday' to them and
sharing an enormous cake. The couple live on the beach, but continue
to cruise their sailboat to nearby islands. They are a joy and
inspiration to cruisers in the Puerto Escondido area.
A 34-person troop of young dancers from the Casa de Cultura provided
a wonderful floorshow of folkloric and Hawaiian dancing. This
organization received crucial funding from Fest a few years back
when it was just starting. The organization provides young people
with art, music, and dancing instruction, and has recently started
a health club for the young people.
There were 12 seminars during the Fest on various subjects such
as making fishing lures, overhauling watermakers, and sending
email over the radio. All seminars were well attended. Those
interested in more active pursuits took part in "over the
line" baseball, dinghy and kayak racing, horseshoes, board
and card games, and the always popular synchronized kayak paddling.
Many activities were specifically for children. Nine youngsters
participated. Once again the Spam Art contest had many participants.
Each year the entries are more elaborate, creative - and delicious.
Each year the event is supported by various businesses and services.
Among the things donated to the silent auction were a Pur 40
watermaker donated by the manufacturer, and a day of hi-tech
fishing by the local charter sportfisher El Fuerte. All proceeds
go to the community. For example, students from the fishing village
south of Puerto Escondido have received funding for room and
board so they can attend high school in Loreto. Without these
funds, they wouldn't be able to study past grade school. Commodore
Elvin told the Fest attendees that he thought the club would
expand the contributions to this program in the coming year.
Fundraising events such as the Loreto Fest pay huge dividends
in goodwill for the cruising community. The money donated undercuts
those few in the local tourist business who would like to force
cruising boaters from the area. Plans for developing the Puerto
Escondido area will include consideration for cruisers to the
degree they are seen as making a positive contribution to the
community. The Loreto Fest greatly enhances cruiser prestige
The weather cooperated with light winds, warm days, and cool
evenings. There were no reported injuries, accidents or thefts.
Planning for the event began last winter, with much of the work
being done by the Hidden Port YC Executive Board, which consisted
of Commodore Elvin of Western Sea; Vice Commodore Ed of
Allie; Secretary Janet of Mystical; Treasurer Dee
of Flutterby; and Rear Commodore Kenny of Brandywine.
- dennis and paula
- Mariner 48 Ketch
Dorsey & Janice Warren
Barillas Marina Club, El Salvador
Hello, from Barillas Marina in El Salvador. What a lovely place.
After crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec, we decided to stop here
to break up our trip to Costa Rica. And boy, are we glad we did!
The marina's panga met us outside the breakers and guided our
group of three boats - Refuge and Fantasia were
the others - through the surf and 10 miles up the river to this
'country club' in the jungle.
Having spent two seasons in Mexico and having become quite annoyed
with the constant check-in/out procedures and related costs,
a lot of us are so pleased to have headed south to enjoy this
change in culture. Eat your heart out Mexico, with all your hassles!
When we arrived at Barillas Marina, the panga boys helped us
with our mooring, and within minutes the marina manager arrived
- with Customs and the Port Captain! After a cursory boat inspection,
we were checked in. Our visas were just $10 each, and that was
the only fee.
It's very quiet here in the marina, and rather than hearing blaring
music from the beach as you do in Mexico, you hear lots of landbirds.
In addition, a short walk takes you to the troop of spider monkeys.
The marina offers free van rides to town for shopping, and has
a lovely pool and restaurant. The Internet service has to be
seen to be believed: 12 new machines in an air-conditioned room.
Or you can take your laptop to one of the 12 palapas that are
wired with power and phone lines, and connect to a local service
for $1.40 an hour.
So here we are, typing this next to the pool under a palapa,
while some of the girls are sewing awnings and other large projects
in the air-conditioned room made available for them. Other cruisers
are doing aqua exercises in the pool, someone is folding a sail
on the lawn, and others are hauling dinghies up the ramp or using
the free water taxi service to get to and from their boats. The
river water is murky, so we don't use our watermaker, but rather
come to the fuel dock once in a while to hose off and fill up.
There are potlucks on Thursday nights, and other special dinners
with live music and other goodies. By the way, the moorings cost
under $6 a night - maybe higher next year - so lots of cruisers
leave their boats here while they travel home for the summer.
We had planned to stay here at Barillas Marina a couple of days,
but it's now been three weeks and we find that we're having to
extract ourselves from its embrace. So next year's southbound
cruisers don't want to miss it. We're off to Costa Rica and Panama,
and hope to come back to our Tahoe City home for August and September.
P.S. Thanks for the great magazine. We recently held an auction
to raise funds for the Barillas Earthquake Relief Project, and
May issues of Latitude went for $3 each!
- janice & dorsey 4/25/01
WanderLust - Hunter 340
Singlehanded Baja Bash
I arrived at the transient docks in Marina del Rey on May 11,
just two hours short of 9 days from the time I singlehanded out
of Cabo San Lucas for the second time. I was able to keep my
averages for the entire trip, and arrived rested and without
any signs of stress. My Hunter 34 seemed as good as new, and
her three-cylinder Yanmar - which just hit 500 hours - still
purred like a sewing machine. Here's how my trip went:
After a week in Cabo waiting in vain to find another sailboat
headed north, it was time to leave. Cabo is not a cruising sailor's
harbor, as they are geared so much to the sport fishermen that
I couldn't even count 20 masts in the big harbor. And every morning
before sunrise, many fishing boats start up their big diesels
and run them for 15 or 20 minutes, which produces a low level
cloud of thick diesel smog throughout the entire harbor. It seems
to last into the afternoon. Then all the fishing boats head out
through the harbor at 12 to 15 knots, creating the biggest boat
wakes possible. It's not good for trying to sleep in.
I didn't think the marina personnel were very friendly or helpful
either. When I asked for directions to the Port Captain or anywhere
else, they'd push over a printed map and recommend using an agent
where I could also buy the proper forms. It wasn't cheap, either.
It was $48.00 a night - "no matter if it was for a day,
week or month" - for my 34 footer. Every other marina throughout
my travels in Mexico had been very considerate, helpful and informative.
As a sailor, I truly felt as though I were disturbing their daily
powerboat-oriented routine. If I do return to Cabo, I will drop
the hook out in the bay in front of Cascades Hotel, enjoy their
breakfast and hospitality, and either beach the kayak or dinghy
into the dock.
In the wee hours of May 5 - Cinco de Mayo - I pulled out of Bahia
Santa Maria, so this last stop on the Ha-Ha was now devoid of
any boats. I eased my feeling of loneliness by putting some good
travelling music on the CD player. With light winds and a four-foot
sea - both right on the nose - I was able to motorsail on a course
of 360° with a full main. I hoped to find a countercurrent
similar to the one I'd caught just north of Cabo Falso, but had
no luck. My speed through the water was 7.2, but the GPS said
I was only making 6.0 over the bottom.
With no counter current to help me towards the NW, I had to sail
as close to the wind as I could. The main on my Hunter is fully
battened at the top and has a big roach. It also has a cunningham
that lets me flatten the leading edge and head higher into the
wind. With the main sheeted in hard and using the full six feet
of traveller to windward, I was able to motorsail 60 degrees
through the wind, which gave me 1.2 to 1.8 knots more speed than
under motor alone. So I was sticking to my 6.0 knot average and
hoping to make Turtle Bay before nightfall.
While heading for Punta Abreojos on starboard tack, the wind
picked up to 25-28 knots true, so I went back to a double reef,
but I was still making 7.2 knots. While down below pulling on
some Gore-Tex pants, I was suddenly knocked to the floor! I tried
to climb back up on my feet, but was knocked down again! I looked
out the little ports and sensed that the boat was spinning in
circles, causing the sail to violently crash from one side to
the other. As I struggled to the cockpit, I could only think
I must have
hit a whale or lost the rudder.
When I got to the wheel and throttled back, I sensed that something
was wrong. The wheel had disappeared! It was no longer there.
I released the mainsheet, hooked into the harness, and tried
to douse the main that was flapping in the strong wind, but the
boat kept going in circles. I was finally able to get a cord
around the middle of the sail and get back to the cockpit without
getting knocked over.
Then I saw the wheel laying at the back of the boat, held in
place by the cables coming from the autopilot. The pedestal still
had the nub of the shaft coming out, and with the aid of some
vice grips I was able to point the boat into the wind. I tried
to fit the wheel back onto the shaft, but it wouldn't stay because
the key was at the back of the boat also, just two inches from
a drain. So was the big nut that holds the wheel in place. Was
there supposed to be a stop washer or friction spacer? There
will be one in the future. I thought the adventure must have
taken hours, but according to my watch it only lasted five minutes.
Several hours later, I pulled into Turtle Bay, pretty much on
schedule. There were about a dozen other boats, sail and power,
and some pangas. I picked my way towards the green restaurant
on the bluff, remembering Maria's Pescada, where I had enjoyed
a good time during the Ha-Ha stopover. After dropping my new
Chinese made Bruce in 15 feet of water, I slept well.
I had planned to use the stopover in Turtle Bay to do some minor
maintenance. After breakfast, I started by changing the oil and
filters. It was easy sucking up the old oil out through the dipstick,
but my filter wrench was too big for the little Yanmar filters.
So I got out the channel locks and wrapped the end of the filter
with duct tape so it wouldn't slip. The engine was still completely
clean and oil free but, I didn't want to squeeze the wrench too
hard. It came off with little effort, and the new filter spun
on just as easily. The instruction on the filter is to hand-tighten,
then add another two-thirds turn with the filter wrench. As I
was following instructions, the channel locks put a slight dent
in the filter. After tightening the packing nut on the drive
shaft, I felt ready to go again.
The Gordo family - the fuel dock mafia at Turtle Bay - are just
great. One of the sons of the original Gordo came over in his
panga and asked how much diesel I needed. He came back and filled
my tank and all my jerry cans at 20 pesos a gallon. Then he took
me to his sister Maria's Restaurant for lunch! The blackened
pescada was terrific - just as I had remembered it.
In this part of Baja, the wind seems to come up at noon and die
about midnight. So I left at midnight, setting a course for Punta
San Carlos. It turned out to be an easy, one-tack motorsail,
with the winds topping out at 20 knots at about noon. A few hours
later, I was able to flop back and head for the protection of
San Carlos. A few miles out, I saw what I thought were colorful
flags in the distance, flags that seemed to jump into the air.
As I got closer, I realized it was boardsailors using the 25-knot
winds to jump the breakers off the point. Some of them were really
After a while, one of the better boardsailors came over to my
boat and, in a French accent, asked if he could have some water.
When I answered in French, he was pleased and thankful to be
able to speak in his native language. In fact, he pulled up and
tied off so we could speak a while. I came out with a Tecate
Light, but he preferred just water. I had stored some Evian down
in the bilge before leaving San Diego, and the Frenchman seemed
very pleased to be able to drink some French water. The French
are great outside of France, but are very nationalistic in all
their ways. He said he'd been there for six weeks, and this was
the first time he'd been able to speak French.
It was very calm in the anchorage where I was again the only
boat. I couldn't figure out why all the other boats I'd seen
in Cabo and Turtle Bay were still waiting for their 'weather
window'. The weather seemed fine for motorsailing, so maybe they
were expecting a southerly - which was highly unlikely.
Upon leaving Bahia San Carlos, I chose to hug the coast and go
between it and Isla San Geronimo. As I was coming into the Bay
of El Rosario, the wind died completely, and off in the distance
I could see what looked like splashes from diving pelicans. As
I came further into the bay, I could see that the 'splashes'
were actually the spouting from pairs of whales. I had many whale
sightings in the Sea of Cortez, but never so many at once. I
had assumed most mothers and calves would have been further north.
But after counting 25 pair, I stopped, as there were easily twice
as many in the bay. I shut off the engine and just drifted amongst
them. They would come very close, closer than I have ever been.
They seemed to just glide along with little effort, going in
all directions, obviously feeding. Most would just rise to the
surface to breathe easily, no spout or spray, and just slowly
sink away. I stayed for an hour, thankful for the experience
and the photo opportunity.
After starting up the engine and motoring for about half an hour,
I noticed what looked like a dead whale up ahead. When I drew
alongside, I cut the engine. It was a baby, about the same length
as my boat. I got out the Canon D-30 and started taking pictures.
All of a sudden, there was a sound louder than an old style steam
locomotive letting out a gush of steam! I was so shocked that
I dropped my camera into the water as I jumped back into the
cockpit. And the smell - it was like Fisherman's Wharf at low
tide. The mother was coming between her baby and my boat! I didn't
think there was enough room, so I braced for a big bump. But
she never touched. Momma and the baby glided underwater and I
never saw them - or any other whales - again. For the record,
there is now a very good Canon digital camera with an expensive
zoom lens and a little-used neck strap lying at the bottom of
Bahia del Rosario. There are at least 100 images of whales stored
on the 360MB card inside.
The rest of the voyage to Ensenada was totally uneventful, as
there was almost no wind or swell. I stopped in Ensenada and
had breakfast with a very good, old friend, Nico Saad, at his
hotel before continuing on to San Diego.
I must report on two minor mistakes of which I am ashamed to
admit to, but which I pass on to others so they won't make them.
Coming up the channel between Tijuana and the offshore islands,
I slowly passed another boat headed in the same direction. After
so many hours of the only sound being that of your own engine,
you get to be sensitive to its sounds, and now it sounded different.
When I opened the hatch at the companionway, I found the engine
covered with oil! I shut her down, but because of the inch-thick
layer of oil in the bilge, assumed I had blown her. The oil was
the first drop I had seen since buying her with 18 hours on the
engine. The dipstick still registered very low, but at least
there was something at the end of the stick.
After a little investigation, I discovered the source of the
leak - the dent I had put in the filter at Turtle Bay, a dent
as a result of not having the right size filter wrench. Sure
enough, this dent had become a split. I suspect the added rpms
necessary to pass the other boat had added pressure from the
oil pump, which had pushed the oil through the dent. What a mess!
I guess I should have re-changed the $6 filter after I had dented
it, but it didn't seem that bad. And then trying to race another
boat into port didn't help. I spent an hour cleaning up the mess,
changing the filter, and adding another quart of oil. I had to
use the same channel locks again to get the old filter off, and
completely destroyed it. I put some reversed duct tape on the
end of the new filter and screwed it in as tight as I could with
my hands. I never went over 2000 rpm the rest of the way into
The other interesting event was the simultaneous arrival of "the
Navy Fleet" from Hawaii - including an aircraft carrier
- coming into San Diego just as a whole fleet of Coast Guard
patrol and other vessels were heading out. It seems they had
been tracking a fishing boat for days, and upon inspection had
found the largest haul of smuggled cocaine in Coast Guard history.
All this just as I was also heading into San Diego Harbor. I
moved over and let the Navy pass before I continued into the
I pulled into the Marriott Hotel Marina unannounced, and tied
up for a great breakfast buffet. I folded out my Danon Mariner
bicycle, and pedaled over to West Marine to buy some more filters,
the right wrench, and a gallon of oil. When I got back to the
Marriott to check in at noon, they said they had had a price
increase since I first stayed there at the end of October. It
was $84 a day for my little 34-footer! I thanked them for their
effort and left for Catalina and Marina del Rey. I tied up to
the transient docks at 7 a.m. in Marina del Rey, in just under
nine full days up from Cabo San Lucas.
I was able to pull into my reserved slip at Redondo Beach's King
Harbor Marina the next day, two weeks early. I did not count
on making it up from Cabo in under 10 days, but am now thankful
to finally be at my home on the Strand in Manhattan Beach. Now,
when I look out my window and see all the sailboats heading due
south to Catalina or beyond, I can honestly say I know what it
- mike 05/25/01
Readers - When Mike Harker started the
Ha-Ha last October with a couple of experienced sailing buddies
from Germany, he was a novice offshore sailor. Having made the
tough Baja Bash back to San Diego singlehanded, he's obviously
come a long way. According to last month's letter, he's going
to do the Ha-Ha again this year.
Destiny - Swan 46
Peter & Nancy Bennett
Mexico To The Caribbean
It's hard to believe that just six weeks ago we were in Paradise
Marina near Puerto Vallarta, and now - even though we spent two
weeks in Balboa for provisions and minor repairs before going
through the Canal - are now anchored in the San Blas Islands
of Panama. Even though it was our third Canal transit, it was
still a great experience. We went through side-tied to a tug.
After the recent accident in which two yachts were virtually
destroyed because a tug deckhand was inattentive to a line, it's
probably the safest way to go. Our advisor was a very professional
tug pilot. The Canal is still short of advisors for the small
boats, so they are using tug pilots. Our tug pilot - having already
worked eight hours that day - was not happy about it. There are
persisent rumors that the transit fee for small yachts will soon
go up to $1,500. If it does, it will still be better than the
other option, which is sailing around Cape Horn.
We still find it hard to understand why people use agents for
their Canal transit. We didn't use one, and the entire process
took us just two hours. What's involved is a phone call to the
measurer, getting measured, a trip to Citibank to pay the fees,
a trip to the Port Captain, and a phone call to get your transit
time. That's it. Another mystery is why cruisers are in such
a rush to get through Panama. It may not be the South Pacific,
but it's still a '10' for us. What a wonderful country in which
to cruise. Right now, for example, we're anchored off one of
the smaller San Blas Islands, the water is flat and clear, the
skies are blue, and we're enjoying a bottle of wine with our
We stopped by the Pedro Miguel Boat Club for the going away party
for Commodore Craig Ownings and his wife Sarah. It was a fun
time, and as usual, Craig wasn't at a loss for words. We recommend
the Pedro Miguel for anyone wanting to spend time in Panama.
Craig has left the Pedro Miguel in the capable hands of Jim and
Heather from Scotland, who are capable, enthusiastic, and have
lots of great ideas. They're also great cooks and make wonderful
dishes for the Saturday night potlucks. They sailed to Panama
from Scotland aboard their boat Charmer.
The last time we looked at our log, we'd travelled almost 25,000
miles - equivalent to halfway around the world - but still haven't
gone anywhere. And that's fine with us. While in Panama City,
I logged on to 'Lectronic Latitude and read George Backhus'
comments about Fort Lauderdale. We spent some time there four
years ago and found that they cater to the megayacht owners and
people with deep pockets. The yards did not allow for doing your
own work, and were not cheap. We still say that you can't beat
the San Francisco Bay Area for the best yards and the most knowledgeable
people. Every time we've had a problem and/or needed parts or
advise, we've called the pros in the Bay Area. They solve our
problems by voice or email, and FedEx whatever parts and instructions
we need. We've never seen this kind of service anywhere else.
Our special thanks to Svendsen's and Swedish Marine for being
there when we needed them.
While surfing the SSB the other night, I listened in while Jim
of the Kettenberg 40 Time Traveller talked to the Coast
Guard and ham operators. As I understand it, Time Traveller
left Puerto Vallarta for the Galapagos, then decided to turn
back to California. After facing many days of little wind, the
skipper ran out of food, fuel and water. What's worse, the boat
was taking on 150 gallons of water every 24 hours. The Coast
Guard at Pt. Reyes diverted a freighter to give him food, fuel
and water. Later I heard that he only had three gallons of fuel
left and Don on Summer Passage was telling him that there
wasn't going to be much more wind anytime soon. To our knowledge,
Jim is still out there trying to get back to somewhere on the
coast of Mexico. The Coasties and hams are monitoring his progress,
so it must be a good feeling to know they are there.
- peter & nancy
Neither the Eastern Pacific nor the Caribbean Sea were courteous
enough to wait for the start of their respective 'official' hurricane
seasons before huffing and puffing this year. On May 25, a week
before the start of the season, Adolph formed at 15°S well
off the coast of Mexico, and heated up to 125 knots - which made
him a very powerful Category 4 hurricane. But he fizzled several
hundred miles to the west, almost as quickly as he'd formed.
Over in the Gulf of Mexico, Tropical Storm Allision made an appearance
with 50-knot winds nearly three weeks before the start of the
Caribbean season. Although not a particularly powerful storm,
the flooding she caused resulted in numerous deaths and tremendous
property damage in Texas, and four more deaths in Florida. Be
careful out there.
"The last time I wrote in, I was in Finike, Turkey, and
looking for crew to help with my Red Sea passage," writes
Stephen Faustina of Solitaire, an Oakland-based Barnett
42 that's currently in Phuket, Thailand. "As a result of
that update, John Guzzwell Jr. joined me in Turkey, and we made
a successful passage to Djibouti with stops at Cyprus, Israel,
Egypt and Eritrea. From January to March, the Red Sea put up
some of the most difficult sailing conditions that John or I
have ever experienced. The last third, from Eritrea to the Strait
of Bab el Mandeb, was particularly rough. So much for an 'easy'
southbound passage through the Red Sea - which is primarily feared
on northbound passages. John had to leave my boat in Djibouti
to help deliver another yacht from Acapulco to Tahiti, so I continuted
solo again across the Gulf of Aden. I had intended to sail direct
to Sri Lanka, but autopilot problems necessitated my stopping
in Yemen and Oman. Contrary to all the reports and the experiences
of some others, I had no problems with pirates along the Yemen
coast. In fact, all my contacts with Yemenis have been very positive,
and I'm glad that I didn't bypass that part of the Arabian peninsula.
"My stop in Salalah, Oman, allowed me to order a new autopilot
from the U.K.," Faustina continues, "and also contact,
Mike Holtz, a friend who I had met in Mexico and again in Panama
when he was sailing his boat from San Diego to Florida. Mike
was able to take a leave from his job in Germany, so he met me
in Oman for the passage across the Indian Ocean. The first leg
was a 13-day trip to Galle, Sri Lanka, followed by a 9-day passage
from Galle to Phuket, Thailand. I'm leaving Solitaire
in Thailand for the summer while I return to California for a
holiday. By the way, at the time we made our passage, the Indian
Ocean was ideal for an eastbound 'wrong way' passage. We had
mostly light winds aft of the beam, but also some ideal days
that reminded me of the spinnaker runs from California to Hawaii
during my two Singlehanded TransPacs. In September I will continue
on down through the Malacca Straits, and hopefully to Australia
and New Zealand for the New Year."
"We just finished reading Hae Twen's well-written article
on their passage from Italy to Turkey, with their favorable description
of Santorini, Greece," write our favorite sailing seniors,
Larry Hirsch and Dorothy Taylor of the San Diego-based Hylas
45.5 Shayna. "We had a different experience. A gale
came up suddenly out of the southeast and lasted for three days.
The marina entrance was closed due to surf, so we couldn't leave.
It wasn't so bad in the back of the harbor, but it was full of
small fishing boats and only had six feet of water. So we were
jammed against the crumbling concrete wall they call a dock.
Fenders were useless, so we used heavy rubber tires to protect
against the damage inflicted by the waves crashing over the breakwater.
Even so, our heavy steel and wood rubrail suffered. Furthermore,
we got red and black lava dust all over our decks, and floating
pumice pebbles in every hose and thru-hole. A local Greek gave
us some good advice. "Leave your boat in the harbor at Ios
and visit Santorini by ferry." We're now on the hook at
Porto Heli in the southern Peloponnese, where there is good holding,
calm water, and a nice village. Many boats spend the winter here
on the hook, where they are looked after by Frank's Yacht Service."
"We've been our cruising for almost three years, and are
now in El Salvador on our way to Chile," report Capt Don,
Admiral Sammy, and First Mate Katie the scurvy dog of the Seattle-based
Skookum 53 Dawnsbelle.
"We just finished our fourth winter in Mexico," report
Burk and Marsha Burkholder of the San Francisco-based Tayana
37 Loup de Mer, which is currently in San Carlos, Mexico.
"This year we drove our motorhome loaded with boat project
materials to Mazatlan. We then spent six weeks installing the
electric windlass, the wind generator, an additional solar panel,
extra cabin lighting, and lots of shelving for more storage.
We then sailed as far south as Barra de Navidad looking for warm
weather and water - which we didn't find much of this year. Then
we sailed back north, crossing from Mazatlan to La Paz. We ultimately
decided to store Loup on the hard at San Carlos in anticipation
of shipping her to Corpus Christi in the fall. We won't be able
to sail to Panama and through the Canal because of an aging father,
so we'll start from Corpus Christi instead."
We spent a bunch of time in Mexico last winter, and heard everybody
from sailors to surfers complain about how 'cold' it was. We
don't know what you folks are talking about! We never got even
remotely cold while sailing, nor even after two hours of surfing
without a wetsuit. We did, however, sweat a lot. Judging from
all the sailors who wore wetsuits while surfing in the warm water,
we think your blood just got thin. What do other folks think?
"We bought the Lord Nelson 35 cutter Grey Max a little
over two years ago in the Seattle area," report Bill and
Mary Jane Makepeace of Boulder, Colorado, "and decided that
the obvious thing to do was to start cruising in the Pacific
Northwest. So we spent most of the last two years in British
Columbia, having a great time and savoring every moment before
we inevitably had to head south. Last fall, we sailed Max
down the coast - with the help of good friends Dick Timmons and
Russ Campion - to San Francisco Bay, and decided to stay awhile.
So our boat is now restlessly moored in Vallejo. Come July, Mary
Jane, Sneeky Squeeky, and I will resume our southward progress,
hopefully taking a little more of a leisurely pace, and catching
up with friends who have passed us on the way. We also want to
catch up with friends who have already continued on to Mexico,
so there's a good chance we'll be taking part in the Ha-Ha in
"Here's a photo of me doing laundry the old-fashioned way
at Tenacatita Bay - my favorite place in Mexico - with a baby
bathtub, plunger, trickling faucet of 'fresh' water, and lines
strung between coconut trees," reports Marilyn Middleton
of the White Rock, Canada-based Cartwright 44 Kinship.
"Glen and I could have sent the laundry out via the Paris
Tropical restaurant, but where's the adventure in that? Besides,
our doing it meant it was free - if you don't count the four
hours of hauling, scrubbing, rinsing, hanging, folding and packing
it all back in the dinghy. But, there is a certain pride in doing
it yourself, and besides, it's warm and the cold cervezas at
the restaurant are only seven pesos. Right now I'm sitting back
home waiting for Jaryd and I to rendevous with Glen, who sailed
Kinship to Hawaii. After cruising the Islands, the boat
will return to the Pacific Northwest."
It's not been the best of times for Blair and Joan Grinols of
the Vallejo-based 45-foot Capricorn Cat. After a nice
sail across the Pacific, they initially didn't particularly care
for Palmyra, which is now run by the Nature Conservancy. "Can't
really say a lot of good about Palmyra. The water isn't clear,
and it's all coral, so there are no good beaches to lay on. In
addition, the entrance is hazardous and there really isn't much
to do. The friends of the Nature Conservancy are the only ones
who have a good time here, for you should see all the expensive
toys they have for themselves."
Maybe Blair should have toned down his comments, for he seemed
to be struck by a 'Palmyra Curse'. A day or so later, he started
feeling very sick, and the next day one calf ached very badly
where he'd gotten a small rash. When it got very swollen, a doctor
said Blair might have to be flown out to Hawaii. It did get worse,
so on May 21, Blair hopped on the Nature Conservancy plane to
Honolulu for a visit to Kaiser Emergency. He was diagnosed with
cellulitis, and was told it came from a scrape on his leg getting
infected by saltwater. The doctor didn't want to let Blair leave,
but he had to get back to Joan and the boat - which he did the
next day. "The lesson of the day is this," says Blair:
"No matter how small the scrape, clean it with fresh soap
and water, hydrogen peroxide or Betadine, and bandage it with
Bactroban Ointment - the only ointment they use out here. Then
you've got to keep it dry or clean for a few days or else! I'm
greatly indebited to the Natural Conservancy, and now that we've
been here awhile, we've learned that Palmyra really is yachtie-friendly.
Matt and Elizabeth, the caretakers, are wonderful - and great
But that wasn't the end of the Grinols' problems. Having decided
to return to California via Hawaii - and then return to Mexico
and the Banderas Bay Regatta again this season - the couple headed
north on May 27. First they couldn't lay Hawaii, then it got
so rough they became sick, and later the toggle that connects
the starboard shroud to the chainplate broke! They had to return
to Palmyra. Then there were multiple screwups in the ordering
and shipping of the replacement parts. While waiting for the
parts, Blair discovered an overheating problem in one engine
he still hasn't been able to fix. They took off anyway, and hit
more rough weather. Then the main halyard broke. It's a lot of
bad luck for a couple in their late 60s, so they'll be glad to
see the Ala Wai and later the Golden Gate.
"We've finally reached warm, clear water in Mexico, which
can be found in all its glory at Acapulco," report Richard
Booker and Grace Spencer of the British Columbia-based Mystery
Cove 38 cat Crocodile Rock. "Also here is another
Ha-Ha 2000 vet, Don Patterson of the Tacoma-based Maple Leaf
42 Balquidder, and Kahala, with many Aussie crew.
The Club de Yates de Acapulco had a major race series over the
Mexican Labor Day weekend, with 15 boats participating. Their
'A' division had a good collection of old IOR boats, while the
'B' division consisted of J/105s, J/120s, and a couple of other
Conditions for the series are much like that of the Bay Area,
just warmer and lighter. It's funny to hear all the deck chatter
in Spanish. It was a very splashy event, sponsored by Breitling,
with most owners coming down from Mexico City. From a cruiser's
standpoint, the Acapulco YC was friendly, receptive and helpful
- a great place to visit. Where else but in Mexico, would you
have at least 50 staff constantly cleaning and waiting on you?"
Good news! Alaska Airlines has announced that it is adding non-stop
flights between San Francisco and Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, and
best of all, Z-town.
Recognizing that the shortage of slips in San Diego prior to
the start of the Ha-Ha and the Mexico cruising season is a problem
for both cruisers and his business, Chris Frost of Downwind Marine
is attempting to become a clearinghouse for all open berths and
anchoring areas in San Diego. Even if the spaces are just open
for a day or two. Downwind can be reached at (619) 224-2733.
But remember, when wanting a slip, there's no substitute for
being on the scene. When Michael Fitzgerald, Latitude's
official Roving Reporter in Southern California for the summer,
tried to get a slip in San Diego for his Maple Leaf 48 Sabbatical,
he scored a berth at a yacht club almost immediately because
he was right there and ready to move in.
Latitude's stock of European sailing photos has become
stale, requiring the Wanderer to close this month's Changes early
in order to fly to Europe to take on the burden of shooting new
ones. We hope you didn't notice the difference - and that you'll
enjoy the new photos.