With reports this month from
Wind Trekker on Banderas Bay; from
Gemini on six years of cruising;
from Anduril on a 30th anniversary
cruise; from Delphinus on riding
the Gulfstream to Key West; from Neverland
on a short cruise in the Sea of Cortez; from Flashgirl
on sailing to and around French Polynesia; and lots of Cruise
Wind Trekker - Corsair 31 Tri
Banderas Bay Sailing Adventure
For six weeks in May and June, I enjoyed beautiful sailing on
Banderas Bay, Mexico, aboard our cruising-equipped Corsair 31
trimaran Wind Trekker. During one 24-hour period, I sailed
all around the bay from Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta, and
then out to Corbatina Rock. A northerly evening breeze carried
us along 4-6 knots, and the tip of the daggerboard was clearly
visible in the phosphorescent turbulence five feet below. Need
I mention the stars were spectacular on the moonless night?
When we were about 10 miles west of Cabo Corrientes at 1 a.m.,
the C.A.R.D. (Collision Avoidance Radar Detector) began chirping.
Something was 'painting' us from our aft port quarter. Ten minutes
later, the C.A.R.D. reported a stronger signal dead ahead with
no lateral movement. Nonetheless, we couldn't see anything, either
with our night-adapted eyes or with radar. Anyone monitoring
us should have seen our radar reflector and our tricolor masthead
sailing lights. Whoever it was apparently didn't wish to be seen,
for they were invisible to our own small 2 kw radar. Still concerned,
I finally flicked on our steaming and deck lights, identified
ourselves on VHF 16, and requested that the vessel dead ahead
of our position/bearing identify herself. But there was no response.
Who could it have been? Later the harbormaster told me that it
was probably a Mexican Navy inflatable patrolling for 'agricultural
shipments'. In fact, that weekend the navy reported seizing four
tons of cocaine off the coast. In retrospect, I'm glad we were
forewarned that we were being watched and from what direction,
as it allowed us to make it clear that we weren't out there for
a midnight rendezvous with some bales of pot.
Were our sails on Banderas Bay and the freshly-caught sierras
worth trailering Wind Trekker 1,800 miles south from the
Channel Islands, down highway 15D (and back via San Blas instead
of Tepic)? Except for the dangerous treks through L.A. (going)
and San Diego to L.A. rush hour traffic (returning), yes it was
worth it! Fortunately, I had 500 miles to practice keeping the
trailer inside the white lines before I hit the no-shoulders/six-inch-vertical-dropoff
segments of Highway 15D. I never drove tired or at night. Rather
than drive as the locals do with my U.S. tags and boat, I obeyed
every speed limit that I saw. It was a good thing, because more
than once the first vehicle that passed me when I pulled off
to let a long line of cars go by was a police car that had been
riding sight unseen behind my trailered trimaran. Friendly smiles,
a bit of Spanish, strict obedience to the law - and perhaps the
Vagabundos del Mar stickers all over my Tahoe - made for a pleasant,
I'd do the trip again, but next year I think I'll sail Wind
Trekker to Mexico as part of Baja Ha-Ha 13 next fall, and
then on to Banderas Bay. You see, when my fair weather sailing
partner flew down to stay at Paradise Village Hotel, we did some
real estate shopping around Banderas Bay. The result is that
we bought a villa in Punta Esmeralda, which is between Bucerias
and La Cruz, about 15 miles from the Puerto Vallarta Airport.
If all goes well, we'll be readying our Palo Alto house for sale
next year before the Ha-Ha, and then relocating our boat and
ourselves to Banderas Bay.
- tom 06/15/05
Gemini - Albin Nimbus 42
Les Sutton & Diane Grant
The Sixth Year Q&A
A while back, Les Sutton stopped by the office, and we had a
lively talk that jumped all over the place and touched on various
bits of his and Diane's six years of cruising adventures. Some
The I.Q. of fish. "Fish in the Caribbean are smarter than
the fish in the Pacific, because they'll swim into a hole, glance
back, but swim out the other side. The dumb fish in the Pacific
swim into a hole, then come back out to see who chased them -
at which point you shoot them."
Unusual weather. "No matter where we've been in our six
years of cruising, people have always told us they were having
'atypical' weather'. For example, we had two weeks of absolute
flat calm in the Western Caribbean in May and June. 'Atypical,'
How to know if there will be a sailing breeze in the Sea of Cortez?
"Listen to Tom Tango Papa on the Chubasco Net. At the beginning
of the forecast, he gives the baro pressure for San Felipe and
for Cabo. If there's a lot of difference between the two, there
will be a good sailing breeze. If there is little difference,
there will be little or no breeze. The wind blows out of the
northwest all winter in the Sea, and out of the south in the
What about looking out the porthole? "Diane and I do get
90% of our weather information by looking out the porthole. Nonetheless,
Don Anderson of Summer Passage, who provides weather forecasts
for Mexico and beyond, is excellent at explaining the overall
picture. We think he's gotten better over time because he no
longer tries to forecast microclimates."
What indicates there will be a strong Norther blowing down the
Sea of Cortez in the winter? "High pressure in the 'four
corners' regions of the States."
What about elefantes? "Lots of people fear the elefantes,
which are the strong night breezes blowing off the Baja coast
of the Sea of Cortez in summer. These are caused by the hot air
collapsing at night and blowing offshore. They blow up to 45
knots right by shore, but five to 10 miles out they only blow
at 20 knots, making for great traveling winds."
What was the sound you kept hearing when crossing the Gulf of
Tehuantepec? "The bow of our boat hitting turtles. There
seem to be a lot more of them than before."
What are your feelings about Colon, Panama, regarded by many
as the dangerous armpit of the world of cruising? "We had
to spend 40 days there after losing our engine. It's not a bad
place, but you do have to be careful and don't want to flash
indications of wealth. We always used cabs between the yacht
club and downtown. There are certain areas - and it's obvious
which ones they are - where you should not go. For $1 a cab driver
would pick up rotisserie chicken for us and deliver it to the
Panama Canal YC, which is the cruiser 'safe zone' there. There
are lots of Chinese and Lebanese merchants in Colon, which makes
it interesting. One guy makes great falafel bread over an open
Why did it take so long to get your engine rebuilt in Colon?
"It took time getting the right parts from John Schere of
Montreal, who created the Pathfinder marine diesel. Once we got
them, Alejandro, our mechanic, got right on it. He bid $1,000
on the job and stuck to it."
Are the San Blas Islands of Panama as good as people say? "We
spent several months there, and they really are wonderful. The
locals are always coming out selling you official-looking cruising
permits - $5 for 30 days - but we didn't begrudge them. Over
on Chichime, Julian Harvey, an ex-corporate guy, makes delicious
'Kuna bread' with coconut milk. He bakes the loaves in a 55-gallon
drum over an open fire."
How many boats are in the San Blas during the winter 'high season'?
"About 50, including the Italians, Germans, and some French.
We had a great time with the Germans and Italians, but not so
much with the French. We also met some really wonderful folks
on a Japanese boat."
Is there a 'Club Med' for cruisers in the San Blas? "That
would be Coco Bandero, which is a little south of the Hollandes
Cays. They had a social activity there every single night - and
they were really fun. Some cruisers stayed for months and months."
And the Monday night burn? "That would be held by Reggie
and Deb of the New York City-based Runner. For years now,
Reggie has been the self-appointed cleanup crew of an island
near the 'swimming pool', and every Monday night he burns the
debris he's collected. The burn has become a social event during
the high season."
Did you see any Kuna transvestite mola makers? "Yes, we
hiked up the Rio Cedra on the mainland to see the falls and buy
some molas from the transvestite mola maker. The hike - about
five miles up a canyon - was a little more difficult than advertised,
as Diane lost her glasses while jumping off a waterfall and Quincy
of Chewbacca fell and needed stitches in her chin."
Do cruisers really transport backpackers and others between Cartagena
and Panama? "They do. For example, Mark and Paula of the
Roberts 44 Melody do backpacker charters. They also shop
and deliver groceries, gear, and fuel for cruisers out at the
San Blas Islands. You get a receipt for the stuff, for which
30% is added on for their time and effort."
What's the best time of year for the San Blas Islands? "There
are strong winds - to 35 knots - from December to March, with
a few weather windows. Sometimes the strong winds start as early
as November. The San Blas high season is from December to March,
but Diane and I think it's best from March to November - even
though part of that is the 'rainy season'."
What about the Bocas del Toro region on the Caribbean side of
Panama? "It's getting more popular all the time. When we
were there, Susie from the powerboat Caberet organized
all the many social activities. It's a great place, and Bocas
Marina is the place to stay. There are lots of surfers and surfing,
too, as there are Pipeline-like waves breaking over shallow reefs.
Panama is known for lightning, isn't it? "Yes. You should
see the horizontal lightning sizzle over a mast. We're told the
mast doesn't attract lightning unless the anchor is down, but
we're not sure about that. You just don't want to be in the wrong
spot at the wrong time."
How far is it from the San Blas Islands to Cartagena, Colombia?
"One hundred and ninety miles.
How nasty can the sailing conditions be in the Caribbean around
Cartagena? "The Alaska-based Cheoy Lee 41 Kukara
had been all over, including to the Med and back. But while sailing
downwind to Cartagena, a rogue wave broke the stern pulpit, bent
the wheel, took out the cockpit doors, filled the salon sole
with 18 inches of water, flooded the engine, and damaged the
What's the deal with private armies in Colombia? "Oil companies
have them, banana companies have them - there are five or six
wandering around the countryside. Then there's the FARC rebel
group. A year or two ago they kidnapped a bunch of tourists and
held them for ransom, so the U.S. put out an advisory about Colombia
being unsafe. Cruise ship visits - which flood Cartagena with
money - tumbled from about 200 a year to 20 a year.
"Does Cartagena still have the shiva
buses or whatever, which are bars with rock 'n roll bands that
endlessly drive around town? "Yes, but there aren't as many
as there used to be."
How safe is Cartagena? "It's safe - although it just takes
one person to ruin it for you. You only want to wear the kind
of jewelry you're prepared to lose."
What's the story with boatyards in Cartagena? "There are
three of them: Manzanillo Marina Club, Ferrocem, and Todomar.
Ferrocem is the only one that allows you to do your own work.
We negotiated with all three on getting our 42-footer painted
from keel to deck, and the bids were 12 to 15 million pesos
- which sounds like a lot, but is only $5,500 to $7,000. We finally
agreed on $5,000. They do beautiful work, and it was a fraction
of what it would have cost in the States. But as in any Third
World country, you have to constantly supervise the work."
What about boatwork in Panama? "Labor is cheaper in Colombia,
but all imported items are subject to 70% import tax. Panama
is duty free, and Marco at the Marine Warehouse in Panama City
is great at bringing stuff in. If you need a lot of stuff, Hal
White will bring it down from the States for $1/pound in a container.
So buy your stuff in Panama and have your boat work done in Colombia."
List your favorite cruising countries in order of preference:
"Mexico is number one because the people are so friendly
and because it's so convenient to the States. Panama is second,
as the San Blas Islands are great and it's easy to get anything
you want for your boat. Third would be El Salvador, as the people
are friendly and the marinas really take care of you. Nicaragua
- specifically Marina Puesto del Sol - would be fourth because
Roberto Membrano, the Californian who developed the resort and
marina, and his staff are wonderful. Costa Rica would be fifth,
as we had to pay a lot of bribes to get stuff imported. Cartagena
is worth the visit, but we don't know it well enough to rank
it. One great place not many people visit is the Gulf of Fonseca
on the Pacific, which is shared by El Salvador, Nicaragua, and
Honduras. Tiger Island, in the gulf, used to be a CIA headquarters,
and the whole gulf was deliberately mischarted for military purposes.
We'd like to do the South Pacific, too, but don't want to be
isolated from 85-year-old parents."
"But Mexico is the best cruising base and the best place
to cruise. We love Mazatlan, La Paz, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo,
Zihua, and up in the Sea of Cortez. In fact, our favorite place
of all has been the Sea of Cortez in the summer when there aren't
so many boats. People have been friendly wherever we've gone,
but nowhere as friendly as Mexico. We plan to return some day."
John Haste and his San Diego-based Perry 52 cat Little Wing
didn't make it to the Banderas Bay Regatta this year. Have you
seen him? "Yes, we saw him and Suhay, his Colombian girlfriend,
back in Cartagena."
- latitude 08/02/05
Anduril - Cross 40 Trimaran
French Polynesia Revisited
It's July 17, so I'm writing on the 30th birthday of Anduril,
the Cross 40 that our family built and have sailed around the
My husband Don and I are now back at latitude 38, but Anduril
is still around latitude 21, where my son Donald and his wife
Erika are spending a few weeks in Hawaii before sailing home.
They sailed to Mexico last fall, then in mid-March of this year
continued on to the Marquesas. Don and I joined them in Raiatea
in mid-June for the passage to Hilo.
Our passage to Hawaii took 16 days and 7 hours. We didn't make
as much easting early in the trip as we had planned, so we came
up on Caroline Island and stopped for snorkeling. The black-tipped
sharks were a little more aggressive than we liked - one clamped
its teeth around the boat pole that Donald was carrying - so
our stay was even shorter than we'd hoped. But the water was
the clearest and warmest we'd encountered on this trip. Even
if Caroline Island was on some sailing track, which it isn't,
it wouldn't normally be visited because there is no passage into
the lagoon and because there is no suitable place to anchor.
A word on meeting boats in the Marquesas. Don and I flew into
Papeete at the beginning of the trip - after being forced to
buy return tickets in Honolulu (never mind what the French consulate
in San Francisco told Don about not needing them since we were
joining our own boat). We stayed at the Tiare Tahiti Hotel just
across the street from the quay. The post office was across the
other street, and it had a blinking neon light, which gave us
fits for two nights. People aboard boats on the quay had the
same complaint. Given that the post office isn't open at night
or at any time on Sunday, we wondered why the neon? It's probably
a French thing.
As instructed, Donald had bought us tickets on the Vaeanu
for the passage from Papeete to Raiatea. I had told him to get
us deck passage, but after the Tahitian ticket-seller asked him
our ages and showed him pictures - which the ticket-seller swore
were 20 years old - of the freighter, Donald got us a cabin with
a shared toilet. The Vaeanu is best described as a 'Van
Gogh ship', meaning the very thick paint mostly covers the rust
- and probably helps to hold the ship together.
Bora Bora was a gigantic disappointment compared to our first
visit in '77 during our '75 to '80 circumnavigation. Hotels -
which I can't imagine are being filled - are going up everywhere.
The construction has clouded the water and probably helped kill
a lot of the coral. In any event, much of the coral is now dead.
All the hotels seem to have the 'traditional' thatched roofs
- no matter that no one builds such roofs on private homes. I'm
assuming that there's some kind of composite roof under the thatch.
Worst of all, however, are the all-too-numerous #$%^@&*@%
motorized bugs - aka 'personal watercraft' - that buzz about
everywhere, shattering the peace and 'tranquility' of the anchorages
and endangering the snorkelers. Next time I'd give Bora Bora
What a difference a generation makes! Testosterone levels were
down, so father Don and son Donald were able to coexist in the
same "40-ft box" without conflict. Of course, the roles
had changed. Donald and Erika are captain and admiral now; Don
and I went along simply as crew. I had the 'Tevye watches' -
sunrise and sunset. The 0300-0600 watches were also moon-brightened
every morning. The moon was waxing when we started, then waning
later on. I loved it.
Other differences from before: Anduril now has refrigeration,
so we didn't have to make do with bilge-temperature beer and
an unending diet of 'can over' rice or pasta. The wind generator
and solar panels provided enough electricity that we never had
to turn on the engine to charge the batteries - although we did
motor into Hilo to get in before dark. The water tanks were filled
at the start of the passage, but most of our daily use was supplied
by the watermaker. There's a sextant on the boat - and we know
how to use it - but we got our positions from GPS. The autopilot
makes things a lot easier, of course, but using it still seems
like cheating to me - rather like crossing the desert in an air-conditioned
Volvo set on cruise control instead of driving the 1946 Hudson
with the water bag hung from the grill to keep the radiator cool
and the wind wings adjusted to blow air in our face. Nevertheless,
it was great to be at sea again. And the 1946 Hudson is long
- joanne 07/15/05
Delphinus - Mayotte 47 Cat
Randy Sparks, Crew
Coming Home On The Gulfstream
[Editor's note: This Changes was written prior to Hurricane
Emily smashing into the Caribbean coast of Mexico.]
It was difficult for us to leave Mexico's Isla Mujeres - pronounced
'moo-HAIR-ayz' - after only five days. The low and narrow four-mile
long island that is just six miles northeast of Cancun has the
finest white sand - almost powder - beaches in the world. In
addition, the Mexican lifestyle is mesmerizing. I could very
easily see myself getting lost in the peacefulness of the Mayan
There are many stories of how the place became named 'Island
of Women'. Among them is that drunken pirates mistook the manatees
for mermaids. Whatever the reason, the idea of finding a woman
at Isla Mujeres seems to be a draw for many of the hordes of
male tourists at pumping Cancun. Nonetheless, Mujeres still slumbers
in tranquil Mayan dreams - at least compared to her neighbors
of Cancun, Isla Cozumel, and Playa Del Carmen. If your boat draws
less than eight feet, there are three marinas on Isla Mujeres
that can accommodate you, which makes it the cruiser capital
of the Yucatan. While we were there, 47 boats arrived as part
of a race from St. Pete, Florida.
Josanne, my girlfriend, and I visited Isla Mujeres for the first
time during my birthday this year. Although we only stayed a
day, we fell in love with the low-key atmosphere and the beautiful
beaches. Our visit included Josanne's first snorkeling adventure
on a coral reef. It was fun to watch her initial reaction to
the tropical fish, which came so close that she could pet them.
Anyway, Bruce, the owner of the Portland-based Delphinus
that I've been crewing on, and I ended up leaving Isla Mujeres
in the company of three other sailboats on the 350-mile trip
to Key West. We knew one of the boats, Charlie and Teresa's El
Rigallo, from the Bocas del Toro area of Panama. The other
two were new to us, and in any event, we lost contact with them
after the first day. Thanks to the Gulfstream, we had a sleighride
toward Key West. We made 105 miles in the first 12 hours, a new
record for the cat. And we could have done better had we set
the sails earlier and not hit a group of whale sharks.
When I say 'hit' the whale sharks, that's just what I mean. I
was asleep at the time of contact, but it was enough to wake
me. Bruce and I both ran up on deck to find dozens of the giant
whale sharks feeding around the cat. This seemed like it might
be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the giant creatures
up close, for as recently as the '70s some experts believed they
had become extinct. Whale sharks range in size from 20 to 40
feet, feed on plankton, but have cartilage rather than bone skeletons
It wasn't until I got into the water with them that I began to
appreciate what huge mouths they have - maybe 10 feet around.
If they weren't plankton-eaters with a balleen filtering system,
they could have swallowed me whole. At one point I was able to
look into the gaping mouths of these giants and see how their
plankton filtering mechanism works - and even the open gills
behind it! Eventually, one whale shark swam close enough for
me to grab onto his dorsal fin. He took me for a ride of about
30 feet before I let go and he swam away.
When I began to swim back to the cat, one of the smaller whales
saw me and made a beeline in my direction. I had both hands on
him when his mother noticed. Nonchalantly, she headed over toward
us, gently nudged him away, and they both swam off. Bruce, who
had counted 18 sharks in the group, later told me he thought
I was a goner when the mother came toward me. He'd been nice
enough to keep the cat pointed into the wind so she didn't sail
away from me.
After a slow night, the next day started fast. I awoke to find
two mahi on our fishing lines - our first double hook-up in the
Caribbean. We hitched a ride on the Gulfstream going past Cuba
on the second night, and got to listen to all the Cuban fishing
boats talking on the radio. We also had to dodge parked ships
and fishing boats - just like on the Pacific side of Mexico.
When coming up the long channel to Key West at 6 a.m., someone,
obviously gay, serenaded us with a rendition of Wake Up in falsetto.
We weren't in Kansas - or Central America - anymore.
For those who slept through U.S. History, Ponce de Leon was the
first to sight the Keys in 1513, but there was no permanent settlement
for another 300 years. It was the Brits who came up with the
name Key West for the most westerly of the Keys. The U.S. got
Florida from Spain in 1819, and a couple of years later a U.S.
Naval Base was established at Key West. Commodore David Porter's
mission was to rid the Keys of pirates known as the 'Brethren
of the Coast'. Once all the pirates were hanged, settlers moved
in from the eastern states, the Bahamas and Cuba. A combination
of wreckers, converted pirates, and commercial fishermen formed
the unique core of Key West society. They dubbed themselves 'Conchs'
- pronounced 'Konks' - after the abundant shellfish that was
a staple of their diet. The Conchs became famous - or infamous
- for their lucrative marine salvage business. Local legend has
it that many ships were lured onto the reefs by false lights
and crooked merchant skippers. Whether the wrecks were deliberate
or not, by 1830 such salvage made Key West the most prosperous
city per capita in the country! And by 1890, Key West was Florida's
Today Key West is a rowdy town of 70,000 permanent residents,
many of them gay, and the nightlife goes on until dawn. Ever
since the Navy left, tourism has been the city's number one industry.
Nobody will ever have trouble finding the action in Key West.
But one informal spot popular with locals and cruisers is the
Half Shell Raw Bar overhanging Key West Bight. It's not posh,
just a good spot to get the flavor of Key West while sitting
at picnic benches eating raw oysters.
It's great to be back in the States. For one thing, in the U.S.
we don't have to worry about the water, the toilets flush with
just a quick push of the lever, and the bathrooms always have
toilet paper and paper towels. There are cultural niceties, too.
The waitress will bring you what you thought you ordered, will
fill your coffee cup as many times as you'd like, and will bring
you your check without your having to ask. In addition, there
are no currency exchange problems, no smog-belching buses, and
my cell phone works. There are many, many reasons I'm glad to
be back in the States, the number one of which is that my girlfriend
is here. On the other hand, I sure will miss the adventure of
exploring foreign countries by boat.
- randy 05/15/06
Neverland - Nor'Sea 27
Naftuli Furman and Larisa Sycheva
Mini Cruise In The Sea
It's been a few years since we did the Ha-Ha in '02 and spent
some time in La Paz in '03. Since then, we've had Neverland
at Marina de La Paz, then Marina Palmira, and most recently on
the hard at Coast Marine. I've really enjoyed the professional
and courteous service of Coast's manager Raul Cervantes, and
recommend it as a good place to be hauled out. Raul and Sharon
speak perfect English and Spanish. Of course, La Paz itself it
was a wonderful place to leave my boat and return to several
times a year for mini-cruises.
This year, Larisa and I decided we would sail up the coast from
La Paz toward Loreto before returning to La Paz. As many others
have reported, this area of Baja, along with the mainland's Gold
Coast, are the two most popular cruising regions in Mexico.I
flew to La Paz from Sacramento on June 10, which was a much shorter
trip than Larisa's, who flew all the way from Ekaterinburg, Russia,
on June 11. Yes, my girlfriend lives in Russia! But she speaks
good English and I speak some Russian. Gavarite parusski?
Having been born in Costa Rica, I also speak Spanish.
Once we were both in La Paz, we went to Marina Palmira and spent
three days preparing Neverland for sea. Small boats such
as the Nor' Sea 27 are very easy to prepare, rig, and sail.
Our first passage was a very short one, about a mile to the new
Marina Costa Baja at the outskirts of La Paz. We sailed all the
way to a guest dock next to the front door of the Fiesta Inn
- part of the Fiesta America chain - that's adjacent to the marina.
The great thing about this hotel is that, if you take a room
- about $80/night, including breakfast - you get to use one of
the hotel's guest docks. It's perfect for those who want to slowly
ease into their cruise.
After the breakfast buffet the next day, we continued on our
way to Isla Espiritu Santo, which was only another 15 or so miles
away. We planned to anchor at Ensenada El Cardonal, but there
were already two other boats there, so we turned back for the
larger Caleta Partida anchorage. The charts clearly indicate
a reef between the two anchorages, so how was it we managed to
hit the darn thing?
The sound of a fiberglass boat hitting a rocky reef is a horrible
one. Fortunately, we hit at high tide, as it could have been
worse. As it was, we were heeled over 35 degrees. I immediately
put the engine in reverse, and with the help of some waves, was
slowly able to back off the reef. Naturally, we got to the Caleta
Partida anchorage as quickly as we could so I could dive on Neverland's
hull to check for damage. Thanks to the Nor' Seas being built
like tanks, there was nothing but a scratch on her bottom. I
kissed my little boat so many times after that. Do I deserve
such a wonderful sailboat? I don't know, I just know that I'll
have to live up to her - and remember to sail around reefs!
The wind blew very hard - 25 to 30 knots - from the southwest
that night. This was the well-known coromuel wind out
of La Paz. The lines in our rigging sounded like the strings
on a guitar. I set out 150 of my 200 feet of 1/4-inch chain attached
to a primary Bruce anchor and also a Danforth anchor. It held
well all night long.
Our third stop was The Hook at Isla San Francisco. The problem
was that there were already four boats there: a sailboat from
The Moorings and three motoryachts. We had a little scare that
night, too, as the depth-sounder alarm that had been set to six
feet went off. Since Neverland draws four feet, it was
time to reanchor in deeper water. Fortunately, my little boat
has an electric windlass. Once I had 200 feet of chain out in
deeper water, I slept soundly - even though it blew hard that
With the wind still blowing 20 knots from the south early the
next morning, we set sail north to the Evaristo anchorage on
the Baja mainland. Having hit the reef at Isla Partida, I was
very careful to avoid the Rocas de la Foca, which are just to
the north of Isla San Francisco and not where one might expect
While at Evaristo, my darling beautiful Russian girlfriend decided
to fish for dinner - and caught some! Meanwhile, I set up the
BBQ and opened a bottle of California rosé. As far as
we were concerned, life couldn't have been much better, as it
seemed as though we were in paradise. Although the wind continued
to blow hard out of the southwest, there was no fetch in Evaristo.
With wind out of the south the next morning, we once again took
advantage of it for the sail to Agua Verde anchorage. I wish
we could have stayed there for a few days - alas, we also had
plans to fly to Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City before Larisa
had to return to Russia. Our trip back to La Paz was all under
motor, and we only took breaks to prepare the fish we'd caught
for lunch and dinner.
Sometimes life can be so wonderful on just a short and simple
little cruise. Larisa and I felt we had been so lucky, and thanked
God for it.
- naftuli 07/15/05
Flashgirl - Wylie 38+
Commodore & Nancy Tompkins
Gendarmes & Robbers In Moorea
We arrived in Papeete on the wings of a very strong breeze the
evening of July 7 to conclude a fantastic 22-day nonstop passage
from San Diego. The passage was so wonderful that it seemed like
no more than a week. In fact, when I realized that we'd be making
landfall in a day or so, I got a little panicky - as I didn't
want the extraordinary experience to end. I'd gotten into a rhythm
with the sea, sun, and stars, and had found it quite agreeable.
Why, if we arrived on the 7th, has it taken us until the 29th
to write? The truth is that I have no idea where the last 21
days have gone! The days just seem to drift by, full of swimming,
rowing, walking to the market, meeting other cruisers, doing
a little boat maintenance - and taking that all-important midday
So sorry for the delay, but here's the recap so far: Despite
the strong winds and big seas, we managed to find the entrance
to 110-meter-wide Papeete Pass - no thanks to the many lights
of the nearby airport. Commodore was keen to anchor in the port
of Papeete, just as he'd done aboard his family's 85-ft pilot
schooner Wander Bird so many years before. But after getting
the hook caught on the hurricane chain that runs through the
harbor, we decided to find a spot along the downtown quay with
the 40 or so other cruising boats.
While at the quay, it was fun to share stories with the crews
of other boats, who had come from many different countries. After
we cleared with customs, Commodore removed the American flag
from the back of our boat and replaced it with a flag of the
United Nations. We rather like the concept, and got mostly approving
comments. But about the first thing we did was hook up the hose
and relish the abundance of freshwater. After such a long passage,
salt crystals had caked up all over the boat, and it took a bit
of encouragement to get all surfaces clean again.
I enjoyed the downtown location - except for the noise! The main
drag runs right along the quay and, except for a few hours in
the very early morning, it's always busy. After all, Papeete
is a bustling city that is home to half of all the 250,000 residents
of French Polynesia.
The people-watching and the convenient location of the quay made
up for Papeete's shortcomings. The big produce market, for example,
was just a few blocks away, as was Immigration and the Harbormaster.
We were also able to walk to the Heiva (Polynesian Dance Festival),
as well as simply wander the streets of this classic crossroads
of the Pacific. Being tied to the quay also meant we were just
a short distance from the roulettes, which are the food vans
that assemble in the evening to serve dinner at a third of the
price of restaurants. There's a nice ambience around the 'roach
coaches' in the evening.
But after a week, we'd had enough of city living, and moved to
Marina Taina, about five miles away around the island to the
west in the town of Puunavia. Since we anchored out about half
a mile, it was the first time we had to assemble Taxi Dancer,
the Wylie-designed nesting dinghy that Commodore had built last
fall. From what I can tell, we pretty much have the only oar-powered
and hard dinghy around, as most people use outboard-powered inflatables.
Between the marina and the anchorage there were quite a few boats
- I'd guess about 175.
There is a fabulous Costco-like super store so close to Marina
Taina that you can off-load from the shopping carts directly
into your dinghy. In addition, the water off Puunavia is a clear
blue and just the right temperature for swimming or snorkeling
- and there were plenty of tropical fish to see. However, the
best part of the anchorage was the front row view of Moorea!
The ever changing seascape and the sun setting behind Moorea
provided us with endless viewing pleasure.
So it was with great reluctance that we weighed anchor and set
sail for Moorea - which turned out to be just as fantastic in
reality as it looked from a distance! Moorea is something out
of a fantasy, but all the jutting and jagged ridges are real,
as are all the tropical vegetation and flowers. We found Opunohu
Bay to be the most beautiful and surreal place to anchor.
This morning Commodore and I rowed out into Opunohu Bay to watch
the sunrise. We beached Taxi Dancer at the head of the
bay, and walked for 30 minutes into the valley. It was beautiful.
Thankfully it was also overcast, which is the best weather for
Upon our return, we visited with a Swedish boat that was anchored
in the bay, then rowed to a little store. At that point, Commodore
suggested that I walk into Papatoai while he rowed over. After
walking a few steps, I put down my knapsack to take a photo.
As I focused on Taxi Dancer . . . whoosh, a small green
car drove by, and one of the passengers grabbed my knapsack!
I ran down the road as fast as I could in pursuit, but clearly
wasn't going to be fast enough. But the car behind the thieves
gave chase, as did the next car, which stopped to pick me up.
Both drivers got on their cell phones to call the gendarmes.
By the time I got to Papatoai, a gendarme in a jeep picked me
up and drove me to the Gendarmerie in Pao Pao - a place I would
soon become familiar with.
Evidently, the car had been stolen, and the driver and a passenger
had gone on a rampage. The owner of the car, a young French lady
who lives on Moorea, joined me at the station. The ferry was
called and the crew instructed not to allow any green cars to
board. We later learned that the car had been abandoned in an
industrial yard near the ferry terminal. My knapsack was in the
car, but my wallet had been stripped bare - no passport, credit
cards, cash, or anything!
Things seemed hopeless at that point, but the gendarmes asked
me to wait a little longer. An hour or so later, we received
word that two guys had been apprehended when the ferry docked
at Papeete! How had they been found on a ferry full of people?
When they dumped the car, a worker in the yard noticed them leaving
and that one of them was wearing a blue Bob Marley-type hat with
his long hair stuffed under it. Apparently the dummy kept his
hat on, making him and his partner easy to spot.
The gendarmes asked me to wait until the duo could be returned
to Moorea for questioning and to see if they had any of my missing
items. The hours passed slowly, but ultimately two handcuffed
thugs were brought into the station. The next thing I knew, the
sweet young gendarme - in cute blue hot pants! - presented me
with everything that had been stolen - except for some local
currency. Amazing! Not only that, the thieves had stuffed all
of my other stuff into my camera bag - including the cable that
I need to download my digital photos to my computer. So I got
that back, too. The gendarmes and people of Moorea did a great
job nabbing the thieves and returning my stuff. Yes, it was even
worth the seven hours I'd spent in the Gendarmerie.
To celebrate the fact that goodness had prevailed, we decided
to go out for dinner at a place right on the water - which has
its own collection of manta rays - at Cook's Bay. It was feeding
time, so some of us bolder folks took turns going down the steps
to the water's edge to feed and pet them. What a thrill! To make
it even better, Commodore had brought Flashgirl around
while I'd spent the afternoon in the Gendarmerie, anchored her
right off the restaurant, and rowed ashore in Taxi Dancer.
It was all very lovely.
The lesson of the day was to leave one's wallet and other important
papers stashed on one's boat, and to bring a minimum amount of
valuables ashore. Yes, there is theft everywhere, even in paradise.
So taking precautions is being careful, not paranoid.
The winds outside of the lagoon are pretty light, so we're thinking
of heading to the Tuamotus before the easterlies kick in.
- nancy 08/05/05
Interpol is combing the Baja
Ha-Ha entry list for criminals?! "I got a nasty call
today from Interpol," writes Jay Hall of the Punta Gorda,
Florida-based Pacific Seacraft 37 Orion, entry #33 in
this year's Ha-Ha. "I'd been listed as Joy rather than Jay
Hall, and it seems Interpol has me confused with another sailor
with a similar name. Apparently this individual is wanted for
excessive drinking, carousing, and consorting with undesirable
characters. I need to get the misunderstanding cleared up or
I might not be allowed into Mexico with the Ha-Ha this year."
The Ha-Ha folks have made the name correction, but are terribly
confused. For if excessive drinking, carousing, and consorting
with undesirable characters were a crime, most of the people
who visit tourist bars in Cabo, Mazatlan, and P.V. would be in
"All of us here in La Paz, Baja California Sur, and especially
at Marina de La Paz, are looking forward to the November arrival
of the Baja Ha-Ha participants - as well as those who plan to
continue south and return to the Sea of Cortez in the spring,"
write Neil and Mary Shroyer of Marina de La Paz. "La Paz
now has more slips than ever, four places to haul out, increased
dry storage capacity, four chandleries, skilled marine craftsmen,
and locals with an especially friendly attitude. As for us at
Marina de La Paz, we've completed a new fixed breakwater that
provides new protection from the seasonal winds and swell out
of the northeast and southwest. Marina Don Jose and Marina El
Palmar, which are next door to us, have also put in additional
slips. All of us are within walking distance of downtown. Our
Marina de La Paz is an 'authorized marina', which means we can
handle the new simplified clearing in and out procedures that
have been established for private yachts coming from and going
to other Mexican ports.
"Our recommendation for West Coast boats headed to Mexico
is as follows," the Shroyers continue. "If you are
with the Ha-Ha, follow their recommendations for where to clear
into Mexico. We recommend that all others clear into Mexico at
Ensenada, which has established a 'one-stop' facility for that
purpose. When done, you should come away with: 1) A 180-day Tourist
Visa (from Migracion/Immigration) - but make sure it's for 180
days. 2) A Check-in document from the Capitania de Puerto/Port
Captain); and 3) A Temporary Import Permit/Permiso Temporal de
Importacion (from Customs/Aduana). If you are returning to Mexico
and already have a Temporary Import Permit, you don't need another
"The major change in clearing from last year," the
couple continue, "is that once you've cleared into the country,
you will no longer have to check in and out with Migracion until
your last port in Mexico. The procedure with the Capitania de
Puerto is also much simplified - although it may vary slightly
from port to port. You are required to 'inform' the port captain
of arrivals and departures. But unless there is a change in crew,
in most ports it can probably can be done over the VHF. In addition,
any 'authorized' marina can be 'informed' of your arrival or
departure instead. Marina de La Paz provides this service free
for its clients. Two other changes are that you can't be required
to use an agent unless your vessel is over 500 tons, and the
port captain can't charge for clearing. All in all, these changes
should make cruising in Mexico even more pleasant and much less
Ever since the Shroyers opened up Marina de La Paz in the early
'80s - one of the first marinas in Mexico - we've found their
information to be accurate and their advice excellent. When they
say the new domestic clearing procedures should make cruising
in Mexico even more pleasant and less expensive, we couldn't
agree with them more. And for the many 'commuter cruisers', it
allows for a lot more freedom of movement and the ability to
meet tighter schedules. As such, for the first time in a number
of years we're looking forward to calling on places such as La
Paz and San Blas. As the Shroyers suggest, La Paz is one of the
most-loved cruiser stops in Mexico. The only flies in the ointment
are the sometimes cranky 'cruisers' who haven't weighed anchor
in years and often have bad things to say about just about everyone
and everything. Ignore them and you'll have a great time. As
for the Shroyers' recommendation to clear into Mexico at Ensenada,
we frankly don't think it makes any difference in terms of time
or money whether you do it there or Cabo. So we recommend whichever
is most convenient for you.
Speaking of La Paz, Naftuli Furman of the Nor'Sea 27 Neverland
- who wrote a Changes earlier in this section - gives
a very favorable review of the Homega Gym in La Paz, which is
located near Marina de La Paz. "I like to exercise and am
happy to report that owner Manuel Agundez runs a fine operation."
It's going to be a whole new life for Sam Crabtree and Susie
Wilson, as on October 2 they will be getting married on Angel
Island; on October 31 they'll be starting the Ha-Ha aboard their
Cal 39 Catch The Wind; and from then on they'll have downsized
their living situation from a three-bedroom home to a 39-ft sailboat
as they pursue their dream of an open-ended cruise. If you've
been reading Latitude since almost the beginning, you
might remember that Sam did the Singlehanded TransPac to Hawaii
in '81 aboard Catch The Wind. All friends are welcome
at their bon voyage party at the Richmond YC on October 8 from
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Economic life has never been easy in the Caribbean, and two months
ago it got worse, as the European Union announced it intended
to cut the subsidized price it pays for sugar by 39% over the
next five years. Even with the huge reduction in subsidies, the
price the E.U. will pay for sugar from Jamaica, Guyana, Belize,
Barbados, and Trinidad & Tobago, and other countries in Africa
and the Pacific will still be twice that of the world market.
The problem is that these small countries don't enjoy the economies
of scale. Competitors such as Brazil and Australia can produce
a pound of raw sugar for less than 7 cents, while in the Caribbean
it costs from 18 cents a pound at the most efficient producers
and up to 40 cents a pound at the inefficient government-run
operations in Jamaica. As if this wasn't enough bad news, in
August the World Trade Organization ruled against the E.U.'s
plans to protect the Caribbean banana industry - which is important
for Jamaica as well as tiny island-nation states such as Grenada,
St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and Dominica. The irony is that this
comes at a time when the United Kingdom is leading international
efforts to alleviate poverty in these smaller countries. Thanks
to the debt relief efforts of the Group of Eight industrial nations,
Guyana will benefit to the tune of about $9 million a year in
their debt service. Alas, the loss in their sugar income is expected
to be about $40 million a year. What economic options are left
for the little island-nations? Tourism is the most legal of them,
and is growing, but West Indians aren't the best natural hosts.
Shady financial havens is another growth area. But for small
farmers, it will be harder than ever to resist the temptation
to grow ganja.
"When we last wrote, we were planning to have sailed our
Spindrift 40 cat Cheshire from England to Panama and through
the Canal by now," writes Susanne Ames of Olympia, Washington.
But my husband David and I have decided to slow down a bit, and
are therefore spending the hurricane season in the southern Caribbean.
Currently, we're in Trinidad. We got a little smack from Hurricane
Emily, but otherwise haven't had any other weather trouble. We
need to haul - again! - in order to replace our 9.9 hp outboard
with a 25 h.p. outboard, to raise our waterline, as well as to
take care of the bottom paint we applied four months ago that
hasn't stood up to the ravages of tropical waters. So what's
the deal on Astillero Boat Yard in Panama as a place for cats
to haul out?"
When it comes to hauling a 40-ft cat, you have all kinds of options
long before Panama. There are several yards in the southern Caribbean
islands that specialize in hauling cats, and there's Puerto La
Cruz, Venezuela; Ferrocem in Cartagena; or Astillero, Flamenco,
or Vacamonte in Panama. On the other hand, if you wait until
Panama, and have a cat that was designed for it, you can take
advantage of the extreme tides by going up on a beach. We remember
that Michael Beattie and Patricia Goldman of the Santa Cruz-based
Gemini 31 Miki G. did that with great success several
years ago. By the way, we're glad to hear that you decided to
slow down, as the most common mistake first-time cruisers make
is trying to cruise at the speed of life in urban America.
They may have to fly in the first thousand or so copies from
the printer in Asia, but captain-authors Pat and John Rains have
assured us that their much-enhanced second edition of their Mexico
Boating Guide will be available before the October 31 start
of the Ha-Ha and the Mexico cruising season. At 424 glossy pages,
with 300 color photos and 200 GPS charts, this second edition
seems destined to be the definitive cruising guide to Mexico's
3,500-mile coastline - as well as to the coast of the Yucatan.
We got an advance peek at Chapter 12, La Paz and Isla Espiritu
Santos, and were very impressed. The suggested retail is $69.95,
which isn't cheap, but to our mind the aerial photos and improved
charts with GPS positions will easily make it worthwhile. We'll
have a more detailed review when the first complete copy becomes
"J.R. and I had an incredible two-week sail aboard our Catana
47 catamaran Moon And Stars," reports Lupe Dipp of
Guadalajara. "Having survived Hurricane Emily hauled out
at Isla Mujeres, we headed to Guatemala. What a trip! What a
sea! Oh, the places we saw and the color of the ocean! And those
people of the Caribbean have music in their souls. As neither
J.R. nor I wanted to stand night watches, we anchored in a different
place every night. Besides, some parts of the Western Caribbean
are so shallow and littered with coral that we preferred to turn
in early at night and set sail again at 6 a.m. J.R. made fun
of me because when in Mexico I'm up every night to midnight or
later, but on our cat I'm sound asleep by 9 p.m. I thought it
was going to be hard for the two of us - we're not kids anymore
- to doublehand a 47-ft cat, but we're doing just fine.
"We had no trouble clearing out of Mexico from the state
of Quintana Roo," Lupe continues, "and entered Belize.
I loved Belize - at least the tourist town of San Pedro which,
because of the brightly painted wooden houses, was so beautiful.
It was there that I found another reason to love our cat. We
were anchored in the tourist zone, so all the tourist boats roared
back and forth at full throttle. Had we been on my old Moon
And Stars monohull, we would have rolled like crazy. But
we didn't feel any movement at all on our cat. I love our cat
- including all the space and systems like air-conditioning.
The latter because it's wicked hot and humid down here in the
summer, and there are thousands of mosquitos of all sizes, shapes,
"Words can't describe the scenery when we went up Guatemala's
Rio Dulce," says Lupe, "as you travel up a river between
cliffs covered with vegetation. The river itself has lots of
Indians fishing from their wood cayucos. Because the Rio Dulce
is a summertime haven from Caribbean hurricanes, there are now
about 400 boats in the five marinas or anchored off them. I found
life here to be like that in Puerto Vallarta in that it's very
well organized. Every morning they have their net, and it's made
up from people from all over the world. Right now. Moon And
Stars is berthed at Marina Tortuga next to a restaurant with
great cooks. We pay 1,920 quetzals a month for our marina
space, which comes out to be about $220 dollars a month. Everything
here is dirt cheap. A breakfast of eggs, beans, rice, sweet rolls,
juice, and fruit costs about $5, and you can hire someone to
polish your entire boat for $12. I love the Rio Dulce, I love
our catamaran, I loved the trip, and I love my husband! Above
all, this trip has made me realize how much I love the sea. If
it was possible, I'd never get off our cat! It's been very hard
for me to return to the real world of work."
Isn't it wonderful to hear somebody having such a great time
with their boat? The thing that cracks us up is that berth fees
are higher in poverty-ridden Guatemala where there is lots of
competition than in Honolulu where the State of Hawaii has a
"We participated in the '03 Ha-Ha and will be sailing to
Mexico again this fall," report Jeff and Stephanie Sarantopulos
of the Emeryville-based Passport 47 Musetta. "But
this time we have no itinerary or schedule, and we eventually
hope to end up in the Med." Why is it we get the feeling
the couple might eventually make it to Greece?
"In the August Changes there
was a report on all the red-tape involved with cruising in Croatia,"
write Glenn and Dana Meyer of the San Francisco-based Mahalo
1, who are currently in Lefkas, Greece. "We emailed
our friends who have been cruising the Med for three years now,
and wintering in Turkey for the last two. They are presently
cruising up the coast of Greece and plan to anchor in Croatia.
Here is their response to that report:"
"Thanks for the info from Latitude, but fortunately
it contradicts a lot of what we've been hearing from friends/acquaintances
who have recently been there or are still there. Yes, they have
regulations, but some of them are seldom if ever enforced - such
as showing a certificate of competency. One could say the same
things about Greece. Here there is no coordination between ports
of entry, so one can do things like skip out of one port for
whatever reason and check back into another, saying you have
just come from Italy. Also, one is supposed to check in with
the Port Police in every port where they have an office. But
half the time they don't even know what to do with you, so now
we never check in with them - unless specifically asked. And
then we are all smiles and cooperation. What we've learned is
to be aware that these rules exist, cooperate when asked, and
accept that there is often a wide range of interpretation between
That report from Croatia - the gist of which appeared in several
major cruising magazines - appears to at the least have been
quite inaccurate. Our apologies. It turns out that Croatia and
Greece sound a lot like Mexico, where flexibility and a smile
tend to be the keys to happiness.
"My wife Nancy's email must not have been proofread by her,"
writes Peter Bennett of Knightsen, CA, "as our new Destiny
went from 40 feet to 44 feet to 48 feet. She's actually a C&C
48. I'm putting together some thoughts on purchasing a hurricane-damaged
boat 3,000 miles from home. It all worked out fine for us, but
it's not for the faint of heart or someone new to boating. By
the way, I tend to agree with Latitude's philosophy on
life, as Nancy and I try to keep ours simple also - but we're
definitely in the minority. Nonetheless, it means when we go
back to cruising, we can enjoy ourselves and not have to worry
about keeping up with anybody. One of the things we really enjoyed
about our previous cruising is how everybody gets along and treats
each other as equals - despite the diversity of wealth and backgrounds."
We've always enjoyed sailing in the tropics - warm winds, warm
water, not much clothing, surfing, that kind of stuff. As such,
we've always mentally set aside a cruise to Alaska for when we're
old and feeble. But having seen some of the recent photographs
by Steve and Dorothy Darden of the M&M 55 cat Adagio,
we're rapidly changing our minds. Armed with a new Canon digital
SLR camera and an up-to-480MM zoom with image stablization, the
couple have been taking sensational photos of whales, bears,
eagles, and other wildlife. We hope to share more of them with
you in color next month. But if you can't wait, check them out
Last month, we recommended that readers wanting to get excellent
overall views of anchorages in Mexico go to Google, visit their
'maps' feature, and then click the 'satellite' button. The aerial
perspectives are incredibly enlightening. And you're not just
limited to Mexico. In the last five minutes, for example, we've
zoomed in for close-ups of such diverse places as Westhaven Marina
in Auckland; Cape Town, South Africa; Cape Horn, Chile; Sydney
and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; Phuket, Thailand; and
Palma de Mallorca, Spain. What a way to travel!
What's new about this feature, reports John Pettitt of Sausalito,
is that Google now has high-resolution images of much more of
Mexico. In Cabo, for example, you can actually pick out certain
of the larger boats. But this high-resolution imaging is not
available everywhere. Punta Mita on Banderas Bay, for example,
is still only moderate resolution. Oddly enough, Westhaven Marina
in Auckland was also very clear. It's important to remember that
these aren't 'real time' photos, so what you see in the photo
isn't necessarily what you get. The photos were taken over the
last three years, and are continuously being updated. Pettitt
also reports that you can download Google's 'earth tool' at http://earth.google.com,
"which allows you to create custom flyovers and look at
3D views - actually 2D images mapped onto 3D terrain models -
that are very cool. For example, if I look at Sausalito, I can
pick out my house - and even see the lines between the spaces
in the parking lots!"
From now on, we plan to get a Google aerial view of every anchorage
we plan to enter, just to have a better feel for the 'lay of
the land'. We don't know what's more mind-boggling, the ability
to do this - or the fact that it's absolutely free!
"We're currently on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, and are
looking for a Mexican transport company that could truck our
boat from the Caribbean coast of Mexico to the Sea of Cortez,"
writes Chuck Baier of the 45-ft sloop Sea Trek. "Otherwise,
we'll have to return to the U.S. and ship the boat to the West
Coast and not get to stop in the Sea of Cortez. We're hoping
to do this in November or December."
We're sorry to report that we've never heard of boats being trucked
from the Caribbean side of Mexico across all those mountains
to the Pacific side. We suppose it might be possible, but you'd
be breaking all new ground - and probably be subjecting yourself
to all kinds of uncertainty and perhaps lots of 'one-time fees'.
We think you'd be way better off sailing up to Houston, and then
having your boat trucked to Tucson, where the folks from Marina
Seca could pick her up and take her down to San Carlos, or trucked
all the way to California.
"Looking for a dentist in the Puerto Vallarta area?"
writes Mike Fulmor of the Channel Islands-based Swift 40 Arabella.
"I have nothing but good to say about Dr. Cecilia Gamboa,
who has her office in Bucerias, which is near La Cruz. She was
recommended to me by Paul and Paula of Lucky Dog. One
of their mothers comes down from the States just to see this
highly skilled - and cute! - lady. Cecilia's number is 01-329-298-18-66,
and her office is at #2 Morelos St., Bucerias. I'm in Oregon
now, but am looking forward to seeing everyone in Puerto Vallarta
High altitude racing/cruising. "In July, the northern California
Corsair 24 fleet made its annual pilgrimage to the Sierras for
the Trans-Tahoe race and Harmonic Convergence, reports Ross Stein
of the Menlo Park-based Corsair 24 Origami. "The
Convergence takes place on the Thursday and Friday before the
race, and is hosted by Tahoe Corsair 24 sailor Kevin Gammell.
The trimarans sail into beautiful Emerald Bay, and beach their
boats for a BBQ, party, and overnighter. We can walk off the
transoms onto the beach - no dinghy needed. The next morning,
we hiked to Eagle Falls, toured the Vikingsholm, said goodbye
to the gaggle of ducks, and sailed out the entrance into Lake
Tahoe and back across the lake. Beautiful breezes and warm days
and nights made this one of the highlights of our season."
About a year ago, we ran a Changes about young Liz Clark of Santa
Barbara, a former collegiate surf champ who was preparing her
Cal 40 Swell for a long sailing/surfing expedition down
the coast of Central America and to the South Pacific. As often
happens with cruising plans, Liz's trip got delayed a year. It
may have been a good thing, because when we saw her last month,
she seemed a lot more mature and confident. Anyway, she says
"I'm so excited because I'll finally be leaving Santa Barbara
sometime before the middle of September. After a stop at the
Channel Islands, I sail to San Diego, then have to fly to Cabo
for a wedding, after which my crew and I will begin our sailing/surfing
adventure down the coast of Baja."
Hot wheels! "There seems to be a cruiser version of an urban
legend floating around which needs to be dispelled," writes
Jerry Metheany of the Mazatlan-based Hunter 46 Rosita.
"I'm referring to the rumors that driving in Mexico is only
for the foolish and brave of heart. I believe that having a car
while cruising enhances the experience, and lessens the stress
level of acquiring much needed groceries, propane, and fuel,
and helps to alleviate the cabin fever syndrome of being too
long in a small cabin. That being said, I would also like to
dispel another rumor, which is that it's unsafe to drive at night
in Mexico and that you should stick to toll roads. Personally,
I like to drive at night, as there is less traffic and it's faster.
By the way, I drive for a living, so I'm aware of the problems
of driving at night."
We're going to have more on this subject from Metheany in the
October issue of Latitude
In last month's Changes, a lot
of veteran Mexico cruisers gave their opinions on which were
the best cruising guides to Mananaland. Michael Pordes, who did
the '00 Ha-Ha with the Richmond-based Favonius, has a
slightly different take. "The best cruising guides we ever
found were the ones the local cruising communities publish for
arriving cruisers. These included the Mazatlan Cruising Guide
and the Puerto Vallarta Cruising Guide. They cost about
$3 each, and are available in the big marinas. Updated each year,
they tell you where to find everything and which are the best
restaurants and such. No matter if you have a toothache or need
to get a stainless bracket fabricated, these guides are a big
Summer is fading, but the great fall cruising season - perhaps
the best season of the year in California - is upon us. Enjoy!