With reports this month from Cassiopeia on a nice donation; from Misty on freshwater cruising in the Northeastern
United States; from We Three on getting
the boat painted in Cartagena; from Aeventyr on the activities in the Galapagos; from Speck on Bocas del Toro; from Velella on
Papeete; from Icarus on the Eastern
Med Rally; from Crocodile Rock in
Nicaragua; and Cruise Notes.
Cassiopeia - Swan 65
Rennie Waxlax & Anne Blunden
San Blas Donations
We read the August issue letter from Norm Goldie in San Blas about
all the good stuff they'd done with the $420 raised by the Profligate charter during the last Ha-Ha. And the Grand Poobah's pledge to
raise at least $1,000 this year to continue the wonderful work
Norm and Jan are doing to help the very poor indigenous people
of nearby Calderas de Cofrado. In order to be a part of it, we've
enclosed a $300 check along with our Ha-Ha entry.
Norm did us a big favor when we first met him in January of 2000.
The two of us and crewmember Cindy Flintjer had anchored Cassiopeia
in Matanchen Bay, put a few things in the dinghy to donate, and
headed around the point and into the rivermouth to find the San
Blas dinghy dock. Since this was our first time at San Blas, we
had no idea that there was a Mexican Navy base at the mouth of
the river. And we certainly had no idea that the navy had posted
an unmarked panga with a guard at the side of the river entrance.
So when the three of us blasted into the rivermouth at full speed
in the dinghy with all our attention focused on the channel buoys,
we didn't make anything of the whistles we heard. As we later
learned, it was the Mexican navy guard whistling at us to stop
at their checkpoint. But we blew right by without even seeing
We found the dinghy dock about a quarter mile up the river and
went looking for Norm and Jan's house. While we were visiting
with them, a messenger came to Norm's front door and told him
that the navy was looking for us at the dinghy dock. I headed
back to the dinghy to find out what the problem was, and Norm
volunteered to come along to help as I speak very little Spanish.
Believe me, I was astounded to find a Mexican naval officer with
a sidearm and three sailors with rifles waiting for me! Luckily
I had Cassiopeia's paperwork - we had been planning to
visit the port captain after we dropped the bag of donations at
After 20 minutes or so of discussing the situation in Spanish
that was way beyond my level of fluency, Norm had the whole thing
straightened out. I shook hands with the officer and all three
of the men with rifles - all of whom had been very friendly throughout
the whole misunderstanding. They all laughed when I asked them
to pose with me for a group photo. You can bet we stopped at their
floating guardpost for permission to leave when we left the rivermouth!
We enjoyed San Blas, and ended up staying for almost a week while
we toured the immediate area and inland as far as Tepic. We'll
return this year.
Best of luck on your goal of getting over $1000 for the wonderful
work that Norm and Jan do for people in need in the San Blas area.
See you on the Ha-Ha.
- rennie & ann 09/10/01
Rennie & Ann - Thanks for your very
generous contribution. Because of you and others, we've already
raised over $1,400 - and the Ha-Ha hasn't even started yet. Many
readers know that there were a number of problems with the San
Blas Port Captain last year, as he insisted that everyone use
a service to check in and out. He's been given the boot after
the shortest tenure ever in that position. Once the base of all
Spanish naval operations in the Pacific, little San Blas is a
great place to visit.
Misty - Aries 32
Bob & Jane Van Blaricom
Fresh Water Cruising
Misty, our little 32-foot Aries sloop, spent the winter
on the hard at Cape Cod after our cruise last year up the Intra-Coastal
Waterway and around Chesapeake Bay. This year the plan was to
sail into the Great Lakes and keep going west until the water
ran out at Duluth, Minnesota - a three-month cruise of 1,700 miles.
The route would take us down Long Island Sound to New York City,
up the Hudson River and into the Erie Canal. About halfway along
the Erie, we would turn right into the Oswego Canal, then go across
Lake Ontario and into the Canadian Trent-Severn Waterway to Lake
Huron. Finally, we would traverse Lake Superior and wind up at
its western tip in Duluth. It promised to be a cruise of great
variety - and turned out to be just that!
Misty got underway on June 4th with sailing friends, Bill
Hickman and Bob Smith of Cape Cod, as crew. Jane would join the
boat in Tarrytown, New York, with a car for our crew to take back
home. Our smooth start was rudely interrupted when Misty,
riding a swift current through the Cape Cod Canal, bumped into
to the usual strong wind and sea blowing up Buzzard's Bay. We
bucked into one sea so hard the weld on the spreader light snapped
and sent it crashing to the deck! Things got smoother after that,
and we had a pleasant, four-day trip to New York City. The climax
was a fascinating ride down the East River and around the tip
of Manhattan Island.
With Jane now aboard, the two of us started up the broad Hudson
River, which provided interesting scenery - especially where the
banks rose steeply around West Point and Storm King Mountain.
Nice anchorages can be found along the river. We especially liked
one behind a little island surmounted by Bannerman's Castle, a
crumbling replica of a medieval castle built by an arms dealer
who made tons of money selling Civil War surplus munitions 100
years ago. At Kingston, New York, we pulled the mast at a funky
little boatyard for $50, and laid it atop onboard sawhorses we
had prepared for just this purpose. We were to remain in 'African
Queen mode' until we emerged onto Lake Huron a month later.
At Troy, New York, we paid our $75 transit fee and entered the
historic Erie Canal. Immediately we began to climb a 'stairway'
of five high-lift locks, which raised us a total of 169 feet -
to the level of the Mohawk River. We would continue to travel
along the route of the Mohawk River almost until we branched off
into the Oswego Canal 150 miles later, and it was beautiful! Both
sides of the river were wooded with big trees, and almost no houses
or buildings were to be seen. For that matter, we saw very few
other boats and no commercial traffic. The locks were at about
five-mile intervals, and were fully-manned and operated by mechanical
or hydraulic power. Generally, the area around each lock was nicely
landscaped and provided a pleasant place to tie up along the lock
approach walls. We seldom shared a lock with another vessel.
At Oswego, New York, we were on the southern shore of Lake Ontario
and facing a 45-mile lake crossing with our heavy mast on not-too-stable
sawhorses. So we prayed for calm water. Our wishes were granted
the next day, and we rejoiced in a smooth trip across the glassy
lake. By late afternoon, we entered a gap leading into the Bay
of Quinte, a string of spacious waterways leading to Trenton,
Ontario, and the start of the Trent-Severn Waterway. First, however,
we found Prinyers Cove, where we entered Canadian Customs - by
telephone - and reveled in the lovely surroundings for an extra
We were joined at Trenton by Bill and Joyce Hickman, who were
our crew through the waterway. The Trent-Severn is 240 miles long,
and connects an irregular string of little lakes - and one big
lake - that form a passageway between Lake Ontario and Georgian
Bay on Lake Huron. It passes through lovely countryside, nice
little towns, many waterside cottages, and contains 45 locks -
several of which are absolutely amazing. We paid a transit fee
of $76 U.S., plus a small fee each time we tied up for the night
at one of the attractive lock walls. Each lock also provided nice
restroom facilities. Unlike the Erie Canal, there was lots of
recreational boat traffic and a lively atmosphere all the way
along. Unfortunately, boats drawing over 5'6" cannot get
The trip through the Trent-Severn took 10 days and provided a
wonderful variety of scenes. Of special interest were two high
'lift locks' which consist of a pair of balanced ascending and
descending boxes of water big enough for several boats at once.
One enters the box, the end closes, you rise (or descend) about
65 feet, the opposite end of the box opens and you go on your
way. Incredible! Equally amazing was a huge marine railway carriage,
which took several boats out of the water each time, across a
road, then down a steep grade to the water 57 feet below!
At Midland, Ontario, we pulled into a marina where we stepped
the mast, a do-it-yourself operation costing $50 U.S. We were
a sailboat again! We sampled an anchorage on Beausoleil Island,
but decided we had followed enough buoys and markers, so we forsook
the rock-strewn, 30,000 Island portion of Georgian Bay in favor
of the wide-open sailing along the southern shore. After wiggling
our way out of the rocks, we had a grand sail across to the Bruce
Peninsula and the nice little town of Meaford. After a couple
of more hops, we were at Killarney and the start of the pristine
cruising grounds of Lake Huron's North Channel.
The North Channel is a complex maze of islands, coves and inlets,
all set in a stunning mass of pink and white granite. There are
endless snug anchorages surrounded by wooded shores, but with
plenty of easily navigable water and good sailing breezes in between.
It is no wonder that it is the destination of choice for the cruising
boats of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Surprisingly, by far the
majority of boats were sailboats, and we usually shared our anchorages
with several of them. The weather was mostly very nice, the water
was quite warm - and fresh - so we often enjoyed swimming.
While cruising in Lake Huron, we sometimes mentioned that we were
bound for Duluth in Lake Superior. The usual reaction was, "Geez!
Don't you know that big ships break in half and sink there?"
Indeed, Lake Superior has such an evil reputation for big, steep
waves, icy water and sudden thunderstorms, that cruisers from
the other Great Lakes don't even consider going there. Luckily,
we had been briefed on the cruising conditions on Lake Superior
by an experienced couple who knew the area well, so undeterred,
we passed through the Canadian Lock at Sault Saint Marie and emerged
onto the bosom of 'The Shining Big Sea Water'.
|As Misty sailed along the east and north shores of the
lake, we realized that we just might be enjoying the last frontier
of cruising areas. It was magnificent! And better yet, there was
hardly anyone around, either ashore or afloat. We found nice anchorages
about every 20 or 30 miles. Our second stop, Sinclair Cove, was
one of the best - a tiny round cove with a nice beach, spectacular
pink rocks, prehistoric Indian pictographs on the outside cliffs,
and water warm enough to swim in. It was an idyllic spot, but
only one of many.
We stopped at several other lovely anchorages, then hit the jackpot
with a 2.5-mile trip up the uncharted White River to the pool
just below some impressive rapids. We would never have attempted
this except for the excellent directions in our Lake Superior
Cruising Guide by Bonnie Dahl. We hiked above the rapids,
then crossed the 200-ft deep canyon on a suspension bridge reminiscent
of the one in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It was not
for the faint of heart, but Jane did it anyway.
The weather during our three-week cruise on Lake Superior was
quite good, except for one rainy day and a partial day of fog.
It was also surprisingly warm, and we swam on many days. To test
the notion that Lake Superior has especially big, steep waves,
we tried to judge if they were bigger than any normal ocean waves
in the same wind. Since waves anywhere are governed by depth of
water, fetch and air-water friction, we were unable to distinguish
a difference between them and our home-grown variety. If anything,
they seemed to be smaller because there was no accompanying ocean
We continued along the north shore of the lake, stopping at the
Slate Islands, then at some of the many little islands in the
Rossport and Nipagon Bay area - an idyllic cruising area with
snug anchorages everywhere. With time running out before our truck
hauling date in Duluth, we visited Isle Royale and the Apostle
Islands, both national parks and fine cruising grounds. Then it
was on to Duluth and the end of a wonderful voyage.
- bob & jane 9/5/01
We Three - Fisher 30
Dwight & Fran Fisher
Boat Painting In Cartagena
Manuel Ramirez is his name, and painting boats in Cartagena is
his game. In May of this year, we sailed our Fisher 30 ketch into
Cartagena for a much needed haul-out and paint job. Other cruisers
had advised us to head for Trinidad to get the work done, but
Cartagena was much closer to our exit from the Panama Canal, and
we were in a hurry to get our boat looking decent again.
We hadn't expected to see so many other cruisers at Cartagena's
Club Nautico docks, but when we did, we took advantage of their
local knowledge to find out who might be the best to do the job.
After discussing our needs and requirements with several candidates,
we decided to go with a fellow named Manuel. He promised that
he could paint the hull and bottom in no more than five days.
It actually took him a total of 10 days, and the extra time meant
that we were billed another $15/day for each of the extra five
days in the boatyard. Since we're on a limited budget, we were
concerned about the extra cost. We need not have been, as much
to our surprise, Manuel absorbed the cost of the extra laydays,
and only charged us what he'd quoted in his original written estimate.
The boatyard in Cartagena had only the most basic facilities.
Furthermore, the tropical heat in Cartagena would have definitely
been detrimental to our mental and physical health had we stayed
aboard while the work was being done. So we rented an air-conditioned
apartment to stay in while We Three was on the hard. While
she was hauled out, we also contracted with other workers to help
scrape and sand the considerable amount of brightwork on our boat.
The total cost of the project - including the extras of the brightwork
helpers and the apartment - came to just under $2,500 U.S. This
included all the paint - including two-part epoxy for the hull
and topsides, and some really nasty stuff for the bottom. The
quality of work was very acceptable to us, as they did a good
job of masking off and there were no paint overruns. Once we got
the boat back in the water, we found the few places that needed
touching up. Manuel and his crew promptly took care of the problem.
All in all, our boat looks great on the outside. We didn't stay
longer to have the inside of the boat made as new-looking as the
outside, because we wanted to head to Key West before the hurricane
season started in June. We regret not having gotten the inside
Some folks recommended that we take taxis in Colombia, but we
always took the bus on the 45-minute ride from our apartment in
Laguito - a very nice section of town - to Ferrocem, where the
boatyard was located. Actually, it would have only taken 45 minutes
if we could have stayed on just one bus. At times drivers helpfully
shuffled us from one bus to another. For example, we'd look for
a bus with the right destination sign, and always told the drivers
where we wanted to go. They'd nod their heads, yes, that's where
they were headed, and motion us aboard. But about halfway to Ferrocem,
they would make us get on another bus. Our Spanish is limited,
and we have an even harder time with Colombian accents, so we
never did find out why we had to change buses. But kindness always
prevailed, so we always got where we needed to go. Aside from
a few smart-alec remarks from local teens, we never felt threatened.
As elderly tourists, we were well taken care of by the Colombian
people everywhere we went. Our month-long stay was enjoyable,
educational and not a budget-buster. Can cruisers ask for anything
- dwight & fran 10/5/01
Aeventyr - Tayana 37
Matt Mason & Debra Stearns
(Salt Lake City)
Our friend Pat McGill arrived with his 9-year old stepson KrisTopher
for a nine-day stay with us in the Galapagos this March. They
came bearing many delectable gifts: our mail, a new radar, and
various treats that aren't available in the Galapagos. It was
like Christmas in March. During their stay, we visited many of
the tourist and ecological sites. It was a delight to have KrisTopher
along, as he's an energetic waterbaby who got us to see everything
through his young eyes.
The first day, Pat, Kris and Deb went to the Darwin Center to
see the huge Galapagos tortoises. One of the Center's main goals
is the preservation of the island's tortoises, as they almost
went extinct in the 1930s. All the tortoise eggs from the islands
are collected, and the young tortoises are raised in captivity
for the first three years - which is the time they are most susceptible
to predators. After that, they are returned to their respective
islands to live their lives - which can last more than 200 years!
Kris then met some local boys at the public dock. Every day the
kids meet at high tide for swimming. While they may not have spoken
the same language as Kris, they managed to communicate as only
The next morning we rented a taxi to take us to the town of BelleVista
for a tour of the lava tubes. The tube we visited was over a kilometer
long and had been formed when the outside 'skin' of a molten lava
flow solidified. The tunnels are quite large, and you can walk
through them with flashlights. We later visited Devine Ranch,
a private tortoise reserve where we got to see four large tortoises
in the wild. Later we hiked to the white sands of beautiful Tortuga
Bay, where we swam and snorkeled among marina iguanas, which looked
Despite the pace, we were all up bright and early the next morning
to jerry jug fuel and water to the boat. We saved quite a bit
of money by hiring a taxi to get the fuel and water, then dinghying
it out to the boat ourselves. It's double the price when it's
delivered. We then hired a tour guide to take us in his 15-ft
boat to a small island near the entrance to Academy Bay. The water
was clear, and we were able to swim with playful sea lions, sea
turtles and a variety of fish. Our second stop was at another
part of the bay, where we swam with white-tipped reef sharks.
A bit anxious at first, we were assured that we didn't look like
lunch to them. Kris even got to touch one. We spent the rest of
the day provisioning the boat for the next day's trip to Villamil
on Isla Isabela.
The trip to Villamil involved five hours of motoring and then
a couple of hours of nice sailing. On the way, we were treated
to the most amazing dolphin show we've ever seen. The performers
were large bottlenose dolphins, and you had to be there to appreciate
the show they put on. We arrived at the small village of Villamil
- which looked like something out of a travel magazine photo spread
- late in the afternoon. Although quite small, the village had
everything we needed.
After checking in the next day, we had breakfast and then went
for a long snorkel. In the afternoon, we took a 45-minute ride
in a truck to the base of the Sierra Negra volcano, then rode
to the top on horses. This wasn't the kind of horseback riding
Deb was used to, as the horses were quite thin and the saddles
consisted of rebar covered with tires! Although it sounds odd,
the saddles were quite comfortable. The 'bridles' were nylon line
tied around the bottom of the horses' jaw with reins attached.
It was also primitive, but effective. We had a pleasant ride through
the countryside to the rim of the volcano, which last erupted
hundreds of years ago. We then took a hike across the lava - it
looks much like a moonscape - to active fumeroles where there
was the distinct smell of sulphur. The red soil stuck everywhere
it landed, so when we returned to Villamil, we treated ourselves
to showers at The Blue Dolphin. The best part of it is that we
were able to put on clean clothes, as the laundry we dropped off
the day before was already done.
Our last tourist experience was a hike to the Wall of Tears. There
used to be a penal colony on this island, and they made the prisoners
carry the lava rocks from Villamil to a site about five miles
outside of town. The wall is quite large - about seven feet wide,
60 feet tall, and 200 yards long. It doesn't appear to have served
any purpose other than being something for the prisoners to do.
Nonetheless, it is quite impressive. After the hike, a swim in
the ocean was most enjoyable. While in Villamil, we got to celebrate
Pat's birthday by putting together one of his favorite meals:
BBQ ribs, baked beans, coleslaw and brownies.
We returned to Academy Bay, and Pat and KrisTopher flew home a
few days later. Since then we were able to get the radar installed
- and it works! We are excited about using it, as it has many
more features than our old one. It hasn't been all work, though.
We've done three dives, two of them ranking as the best we've
ever done. One was a drift dive at Daphne Minor, where we saw
sea turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, a Galapagos shark, many
fish, and a very interesting rock wall. It was very beautiful.
Our next dive was at Gordon Rocks, where we again saw the turtles
and sharks, and had two huge manta rays circle above us. They
are so graceful! We also saw several moray eels, sculpins, and
lots of fish - but the hammerhead sharks didn't show.
We are now getting ready for the passage to the Marquesas. Many
boats have left already, but they haven't gotten much wind. We
hope the longer we wait, the better our chances the southeast
trades will have established themselves this far north. We are
excited about the next leg of our journey, but are glad we spent
this much time in the 'land of tortoises'.
- deb and matt 8/15/01
Readers - In the last issue, Matt and
Debra reported on their challenging, 16-day, light-air passage
from Z-town to the Galapagos.
Speck - Gemini Cat
Irwin Studenberg and Judy White
Bocas del Toro, Panama
(Detroit & San Diego)
The word is out in the world of international backpackers: Bocas
del Toro, Panama, is cool. So when we casually walked down the
middle of the wide main street - with small taxis calmly driving
around us - we could hear English, Aussified English, French,
German, Dutch, and Spanish being spoken. Bocas is a town for young
people, and most of the backpackers sported some combination of
the international youth uniform. The town has a hippie ambience,
and every afternoon vendors set up tables to hawk hash pipes,
beaded jewelry, macrame and other items reminiscent of the '60s.
The Kuna Indians set up tables, too, but they mostly sold their
traditional molas and beaded bracelets. Lots of the backpackers
carry surfboards, for this area of Panama is reported to be the
home of terrific and uncrowded surf spots. The older local residents
look perplexed, as Bocas has only recently become so popular.
Even though we visited Bocas in February, the daytime temperatures
were in the 80s and it was humid. At night, it dropped into the
breezy 70s and reminded me of summer nights in San Diego. The
pace of life is slow in Bocas. Kids and dogs, for example, play
in the middle of the main street without danger. One dog even
sleeps in the street. He's old and looks as though he's been doing
it for years. The island-city's few cars and vans just go around
him. Bocas comes alive at night, as does any place with lots of
kids. Street performers juggle and swirl flaming batons trying
to earn a little money for food, and music bellows out of the
Bocas is located on the Caribbean side of Panama inside a very
large archipelago not far from Costa Rica. The area is known for
its many reefs, and has many beautiful and uninhabited islands
just waiting to be explored. So the area is growing in popularity
with cruisers as well as backpackers. Our anchorage to the west
of town was so peaceful that we felt as though we were on land.
We'd dinghy to shore each day, where we got free dockage at J&J
Marine - where we also got fresh cistern water for washing. There's
another dinghy dock located at the base of a two-story yellow
house next to a small prison. It - meaning the dinghy dock - is
unguarded, however. The best bargain in Bocas is located inside
the yellow house: an Internet cafe where access was just $1.50/hour.
In addition to a fine anchorage, Bocas del Toro now has two marinas,
both of which are good places to leave a boat in storage when
flying back to the States. Marina Carrenero, the older and smaller
one, is run by two Americans. Bocas Marina, which is newer and
larger, is located to the west, and has floating docks and a laundry
room. It's run by a young Belgium entrepreneur named Bruno and
his Chilean wife, who also owns and manages the El Refugio restaurant.
The couple are kind enough to allow dinghies to tie up to the
restaurant dock at no charge - just be sure to reclaim your dinghy
before they close for the night.
Our friends on Wayward Cru had a couple of unfortunate
experiences with Marina Carrenero. They were three days late arriving
- due to bad weather - and were charged for those days even though
there was no waiting list for slips. They later left their slip
several days before their prepaid 30 days were up. Even though
they still had time left on the slip, the management refused to
let them park their dinghy there!
Supplies in Bocas are somewhat limited. The two main groceries
are more like country stores, with lots of canned and dry goods.
Meats, fruits and vegetables are delivered twice a week from the
mainland. Even so, we got vegetables from stands that were nice
and fresh - including spinach, leeks, red lettuce, romaine lettuce,
tomatoes and creamy avocados. So life is good even in this little
town! Panama is located in the heart of the tropics, but the high
elevations of the continental divide are cool, permitting the
farming of non-tropical vegetables.
As in other parts of Panama, the Chinese seem to run most of the
hardware and houseware stores. Some are friendly, but others are
not. One day Amanda of Gingi and I went shopping in a store
called La Sincera. When we tried on some beautiful 'broom skirts',
one of the waist-ties broke. The Chinese lady started yelling
at us in foul language. Apparently we're not the only ones she's
been rude to. Maybe she's suffering from too swift an increase
in the number of tourists.
Irwin and I generally found the restaurants in Bocas to be overpriced
for the quality of food. Thin, half-dollar size 'mystery meat'
patties, beef burritos with two nickel-size spots of beef, and
greasy chicken were common. El Picado, upstairs next to the zocalo,
was an extraordinary exception. The French owners created such
delicious meals with French and Middle Eastern flavors that we
couldn't stop going back. It's quite the local hangout, too, with
an inside bar and balcony seating as well. A young couple from
Oregon also opened up an upstairs coffeehouse that beats Starbucks
any day. The previously-mentioned El Refugio, hidden around the
west corner of the island, has good pizzas and soups. Lunches
at the El Lorito cafeteria, across from the park, were a bargain.
I got large and delicious portions of chicken, rice, lentils,
coleslaw and a Coke for just $2.50.
American retirees are also flocking to Bocas, and some cruisers
have swallowed the anchor to build houses on concrete pilings
over the water. Usually they build a dock at the back of the house
so they have a place to keep their boats. One such couple is Dan
and Laurie Lahey, who headed south from Key West looking for adventures
aboard their trawler Rip Tide. When they got to Bocas,
they fell in love with the area and set up housekeeping on the
adjacent island of Carrenero. Laurie even opened up a branch of
the arts & crafts store she owns in Key West.
After being in Bocas for awhile, we buddyboated with Gingi and Wayward Cru to Drago Island, where we had the white
sand beaches all to ourselves for three days. We then moved on
to another bay, anchored for two more days, and went ashore to
visit Dave and Linda Cerruti's 'Green Acres' farm. Spread over
several hectares, it's mostly a green forest with lots of banana
and coco trees. They process the coco beans into the most delicious
chocolate! We all managed to carry away several chocolate balls
for use in our morning coffee and dessert recipes. Dave, a former
charter captain, and Linda are ex-pats from San Diego. The view
from their living room, located halfway up the hill, looks out
over the bay where they can see blue skies, green forest and clear
water for miles. Cruisers can call them on VHF radio Channel 68
to request a visit to the farm. They love to give tours and swap
The real estate prices in Bocas del Toro are skyrocketing - and
seem a bit speculative. There was an uninhabitable dwelling on
stilts for sale within jumping distance of the city jail - with
an asking price of $90,000 U.S.! Some homes are listed for more
Bocas del Toro is nice, free from tropical storms, and a good
place to store a boat for a few months. But as we continued northwest
to places such as San Andres, it wouldn't be at the top of our
list of places to return. But young backpackers might have a different
- judy & irwin 5/15/01
Velella - Wylie 31
Garth Wilcox & Wendy Hinman
(Port Ludlow, Washington)
What a shock to pull into the big city of Papeete after the solitude
of the crossing from Mexico and visiting the lightly-populated
islands of the Marquesas and the atolls of the Tuamotus! We hadn't
been to a sizeable town since Puerto Vallarta - which in any event
has nearly four times the population of Papeete, which only has
We arrived in Papeete after three days of light-air sailing, and
had to duck a high-speed ferry, a Korean fishing boat, and a small
inter-island supply ship while entering the pass through the reef.
We wanted to anchor in a quieter spot away from the famous quay
- which is also famous for pesky boarders such as rats, ants and
roaches. So we continued west inside the reef and past the airport
to Maeva Beach. Port Control requires that boats get clearance
to pass both ends of the runway, which is very close to the water.
Amusingly enough, seconds after we got permission to pass the
end of the runway a plane whizzed right past our mast on its decent
to the tarmac!
Upon reaching Maeva Beach, we anchored in 12 feet of water next
to friends we hadn't seen in a month. The water was such an aquamarine
color that it seemed as though we'd dropped the hook in a swimming
pool! When we looked over the side we could see our anchor - as
well as the occasional stingray or conch outlined against the
white sandy bottom.
We were psyched to enjoy a meal out, so we headed to one of the
restaurant trucks - les roulettes - for an incredibly delicious
$10 pizza. What a treat! Les roulettes - also known as 'roach
coaches' - are basically outdoor eateries consisting of a kitchen
in the back of a trailer with stools at the counter or nearby
We'd been warned that Papeete is an incredibly expensive place,
and it's true. When in the States or Mexico, I'd be hard pressed
to drop $20 on produce without buying more than we could eat before
it rotted. But in Papeete - and most of French Polynesia - $20
will only buy you a couple of grapefruit, a mango and a papaya
- all of which is grown locally and literally falling off the
trees a few blocks away! I'm still trying to figure out why many
fruits and vegetables imported from Australia, New Zealand and
the U.S. are cheaper. I assume that it has something to do with
all the French subsidies. We noticed many of the souvenir woodcarvings
and Polynesian style pareos for sale had actually been made in
Indonesia - probably for pennies. Regardless of how expensive
fruits and vegetables were, we were excited to have them again
after running out in the Tuamotus.
We did find a few 'deals' in Papeete. Les Brochuttes, for example,
which features filling gourmet meals for $6-10 - such as steak
in a pepper cream sauce with fries, fancy pizzas, chow mein, seafood
skewers, and more tasty meals than I can remember. Baguettes are
a bargain at $.40, and a baguette with ham is only $1 in the public
The bus ride to downtown Papeete from Maeva Beach took about 30
minutes and cost about $1. While in Papeete, we were kept busy
doing our official check-in, extending our visas, getting email,
locating and purchasing marine parts, and provisioning. The supermarkets
were air-conditioned and as well-stocked as in the U.S. After
the very limited selections we'd seen for the previous several
months, it was an overwhelming blast of color and choices. Papeete
imports food and food products from all over the world, so you
never know what language the preparation instructions will be
After some provisioning, a friend kindly offered to tow my dinghy
of groceries out to my boat so I wouldn't have to row against
the wind. Alas, we stupidly went too fast and the groceries took
a drenching. I was afraid for our handheld VHF, camera, and the
flour I had just purchased - but was relieved to find that only
the outside of the bags got wet. Lesson learned: regardless of
how fast a friend's planing dinghy will go, our loaded Avon Redcrest
becomes a submarine at anything but slow speeds. I learned another
dinghy lesson one day when I rowed the Avon ashore to do a quick
errand. On the way back, the wind piped up to 25 knots with chop.
I had to keep telling myself I wasn't exhausted, or I would have
been blown several miles downwind. At least I still would have
been inside the reef.
In the evenings, we could hear the sound of the Tahitian drums
calling to us to watch the dancers perform. We caught several
dance performances that also featured beautiful Polynesian choral
singing. Usually we were able to watch these impressive shows
from the bar for just the price of a drink - which sometimes were
$10 each! I'm not sure how those girls can swing those hips so
fast, but I did notice that none of them were over the age of
25 - and many were much younger. One of the most impressive shows
featured seven-year-old girls who swung their non-existent hips
in a most provocative manner. They were just as professional as
the other dancers - and twice as cute.
We had tried to make it to Papeete before the annual Fête
celebration, but only made it for the last week. Islanders come
from all over French Polynesia to compete in the month-long Fête.
We did catch a few special events, including a crafts village,
some canoe races and, our favorite, the fruit carrier's race.
In the latter event, Polynesian men in traditional dress race
around the city streets carrying 50 kilos of fruit tied to a log.
Just watching them made my feet hurt.
We planned a big double birthday party with friends on nearby
Moorea, but had to break the party into two parts because the
birthday girls and half the invited guests were separated by stormy
weather in the Sea of the Moon. The 'tragedy' was that Garth had
to make his famous cheesecake twice! Yummie.
Few cruisers visit the south side of the island of Tahiti because
it's upwind, but it sounded too inviting for us to miss. So we
sailed to Maraa, then made our way up to Maraa Grotto, an incredible
natural cavern deep in the rocky mountain that results in a freshwater
lake. We enjoyed an intimate but brisk swim in the cave, with
ferns hanging down and water dropping from the cavern roof above.
The famous painter Paul Gaugin reported that he swam an hour before
he reached the back wall. Either he was exaggerating or was a
very slow swimmer. But it was a special spot that we're glad we
made the effort to see.
We continued southeastward to visit Papeuriri Bay, another special
place. When we arrived, we were welcomed by a group of young men
in outrigger canoes who seemed glad that we'd come to visit. After
anchoring and a little lunch in the pastoral setting, we headed
ashore to visit the beautiful botanical gardens and the Paul Gaugin
Museum. Gaugin led an interesting life, not only as a painter,
but also as a traveller. The waterfalls of Vaipahi were also terrific.
Not everybody likes Papeete and Tahiti, but we wished we could
have stayed longer. Unfortunately, we had to get moving, for we
had a lot more of French Polynesia and the South Pacific to see
before we needed to be in New Zealand for the start of hurricane
- wendy & garth 5/15/01
Icarus - F/J 39 Cat
David Law & Bonnie Carleton
Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally
[Continued from last month.]
Our passage to Israel was at night also, but differed from earlier
ones in that we were entering a war zone. We approached from southern
Lebanon, which is controlled ashore by the Hezbollah, and were
sure that the Israeli Navy was alert to the approach of 28 boats.
We were the lead boat, however, and got special treatment. When
we got within two miles of the border, an unlit, silent, and very
menacing Israeli navy vessel came up on us in the black. They
shone a megalight into our eyes and asked lots of questions on
channel 16 as they circled our catamaran. We were told to divert
12 miles offshore, and stay that far offshore until we were west
of Haifa. When we told them they were in for a busy night, with
27 other boats in the Eastern Med Rally on the way, they managed
to contact one of the rally organizers. As a result, all the boats
that came after us didn't have to stay 12 miles offshore and could
head directly for Haifa. Meanwhile, we continued offshore, and
were stopped by Israeli navy ships two more times for lengthy
conversations on 16.
Once in port, however, our land traveling in Israel was fantastic.
Since we'd already visited Egypt, we decided to forgo that leg
of the rally to travel in Israel and Jordan. So while the rally
continued on to Port Said, we got together with six Germans and
a Turkish dog named Pepe, and hired a guide and small van to take
us around for four full days of touring. We swam in the Dead Sea,
visited the discovery site of the Dead Sea Scrolls, climbed around
Masada, the great bastion of spirit which infuses the Israelis
as a people, and then went on to Eilat the next day, where we
snorkeled along the coral reefs and saw lots of lovely fish.
The best part, however, was when we crossed the border to Jordan
and spent a full day at Petra, which is perhaps our favorite site
of this trip. Petra is a whole city carved out of the rock face
of a spectacular gorge, which winds its way down a hillside and
finally out into the valley below. The gorge or sik is somewhat
like Zion National Park or one of those slices through the sandstone
carved by seasonal torrents in Arizona, where the walls may be
1,000 feet high, but the gorge is no more than 10 feet wide at
any point. Quite amazing! Like the other places we visited on
this trip, we had Petra almost all to ourselves. Our guide said
that tourism was down 80% in Israel since the peace talks had
broken down in October, and the slowdown had affected the entire
We got back to our marina in Herzliya - five miles north of Tel
Aviv - in time to rejoin the rally group that had returned from
Egypt. Unknown to us, our trip to Jerusalem the next day could
not have been more poorly timed. It was the day of the funeral
for Hosseini, a highly-respected - on both sides - Palestinian
Authority leader in Jerusalem who had suddenly died in Kuwait.
To compound the situation, Shabbat, the Jewish holy day, was beginning
that afternoon, and it was Friday, the Muslim holy day. To say
things were tense in Jerusalem would be an understatement. The
Israelis expected trouble and were prepared for it. Walking into
the city's Arab Quarter was eerie, as the only people in the streets
were a handful of us tourists and the Israeli military. Amazing
Grace was playing on bagpipes over loudspeakers, narrow and darkened
streets were lifeless, and all the shops were tightly shuttered.
Along the Western (Wailing) Wall, there must have been 50 Israeli
police vehicles and scores of military guys lounging under any
shade they could find, their weapons beside them. There were no
people at all on the Via Dolorosa, that famous Way of Sorrows
that leads up past the Fourteen Stations of the Cross to the Calvary
in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It was also empty, except
for a few pilgrims dressed in colorful robes who had clearly come
a long way. The last time I'd been in Jerusalem was '96, and it
was so mobbed on the Via Dolorosa and in the Church of the Holy
Sepulcher that I was pushed and shoved every which way and could
hardly see anything except above people's heads. Another person
in our group said she'd been to Jerusalem six times and had never
seen it so empty. Although it was rather ominous, Jerusalem is
still an awe-inspiring place. We're glad we went, but we were
all very glad to get out safely as well.
Back in Tel Aviv and Herzliya, it wasn't that trouble was unexpected,
just that it had been free of serious attacks. That night, however,
a huge bomb went off outside a teen disco on the beach promenade
of central Tel Aviv. We couldn't hear the explosion because we
were in the middle of a raucous party, but those on the boats
in the marina heard it distinctly. When we got the news from the
BBC on the SSB radio later that night, it was pretty clear this
was something pretty horrible and pretty big.
While we weren't going anywhere because of weather, it was clear
that there could be trouble. Sure enough, the next day 28 attack
helicopter gunships dragged their landing gear just over our masts
as they flew north in small groups along with about 10 command
helicopters and a reconnaissance jet. It looked like an attack
on the Hezbollah-held area of Lebanon where the bomber might have
come from, but it turned out to be a long planned military training
We remained in Israel longer than planned because of the trouble
and unfavorable weather, but finally left for southern Cyprus,
which is controlled by the Greeks. It is a lovely place, particularly
up in the mountains, which are green, heavily forested, and full
of villages untouched by modern life. We spent a couple of days
in a rental car and liked it a lot. And after months in Islamic
and Jewish states, you can guess what else it meant - pork chops!
As well as spare-ribs and bacon. What porky bliss for us.
We then sailed off across the southern coast of Cyprus, around
the western end of the island, and northwest to the coast of Turkey.
It turned out to be an uneventful 29-hour passage, as we had to
motor the entire way on cheap Cypriot fuel. In fact, it was so
calm that we just stopped the boat about 34 miles off the Cyprus
coast, barbecued pork chops, and ate dinner in the calm of the
cockpit as the sun went down.
Would we recommend the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally? Absolutely.
We met lots of nice and interesting people, many of whom are now
friends. The event was well organized and run by Hassan Kacmaz,
the charismatic and respected general manager of Kemer Marina.
We're also glad we did it because we got to places we probably
wouldn't have gone to on our own. The parties were great and we
danced more in the last month than we had in the last 10. Finally,
it was an amazing value.
On the negative side, in order to save daylight hours for fun,
all the passages were at night. The boats with more crew to share
watches did better than we. In fact, we often arrived at our next
port too pooped to do much that day. Also, this was a rally, not
a vacation, and we discovered that we're probably not 'rally people'
- meaning we don't relish traveling everywhere with a large group
on a tight, fast-paced schedule. There were deadlines to be met,
people waiting for us at each port, and events planned way in
advance. So whatever the weather, on we went. That being said,
we're still very, very glad we did it. Anyway, now that we're
back in Turkey, we've regressed again to our naturally slothful
ways, and are happily back on the slow track.
- bonnie and david 6/15/01
Rock - Mystery Cove 38
Richard Brooker & Grace Spencer
Calling On Corinto, Nicaragua
(Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
Because of the U.S. involvement in Nicaragua's 'civil war' in
the '80s and '90s, most cruisers steer clear of the Central American
country to avoid what they feel might be trouble or animosity.
Consequently, about the only cruisers who pull in at Corinto are
those experiencing boat trouble. We had a little engine difficulty
ourselves, so we decided to pull in with our cat. It turns out
that Corinto is such a great spot that we advise all cruisers
The charts for Corinto - which is located at the end of an estuary
in the northwest part of the country - are excellent. It's a very
easy port to enter, with plenty of depth and a well-marked entrance.
The current, however, can run at up to two knots. The estuary
is large, so there is plenty of room to anchor.
While there are no yacht services, the local officials happily
let us tie our dinghy to the back of one of the port survey boats
at the main commercial pier. Everybody was helpful and very friendly,
and lots of people spoke English. We met a young fellow named
Silvio, who is trying to build a bit of a business helping cruisers.
His knowledge of who had what engine skills saved us an awful
lot of work and money. We also enjoyed a trip to Chinandega on
a local bus accompanied by Silvio and his wife. Should anyone
arrive in Corinto and need work or assistance, they should ask
for Silvio. Everyone on the dock knows him.
The one negative of Corinto is that it's not free of crime. Silvio
advised us to be cautious about leaving things in the cockpit,
particularly at night. Nicaraguans are very poor, with the average
annual income being about $500 a year. The only employment locally
is stevedoring at the commercial docks, and there's not much of
Nonetheless, we've been in Corinto a week and have loved every
minute of it. It's one of the best places we've been, and well
worth the stop even if you're not in distress.
- richard & grace 9/15/01
Richard & Grace - Michael Beattie
and Layne Goldman of Miki G. stopped by our office the other day, and are curious what you
found so wonderful about Corinto. These folks are about as open-minded
as you can get, as evidenced by the fact their next cruising goal
is Haiti, which everybody avoids. The couple stopped in Corinto
about two years ago, and weren't impressed, particularly by the
officialdom, whose goal seemed to be making life as unnecessarily
difficult as possible. They also went up to Chinandega, where
they bought the materials and paid the labor for building toilet
facilities at a school. "There is really nothing there,"
"We arrived at Gocek, Turkey, in late August," report
Jim and Mary Haagenson of the Glen Cove-based Hudson Force 50 Illusion. "Jim sailed from Glen Cove - near Vallejo
- way back in August of '95 and has been out cruising ever since.
After making a left turn at the Gate, he headed south, stopping
at every country on the Pacific Coast until he reached Peru. He
then headed west to Easter Island and Pitcairn. His six-day visit
with the descendents of the Bounty mutineers was to be the highlight
of his time in the Pacific. He then island-hopped through Polynesia
to the Cooks, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Australia. He found
Indonesia interesting, in part because there were riots in Jakarta.
Illusion also had the privilege of being the first foreign boat
to stay at the president's private marina. Singapore seemed like
a giant Disneyland."
Jim's life really changed, however, at little Rebak Island in
northwest Malaysia, where there's a resort, boatyard and marina
that treats cruisers well. "I spent two years there,"
says Jim, "during which time I met Mary's aunt and uncle,
who were on vacation. Although I was enjoying bachelor solitude
at the wonderful resort and marina, I admitted that I would not
turn away the perfect woman if she came to my boat looking to
crew. They assured me that they knew just such a woman - and in
Mary, they were right. After a month of trading emails with her,
I flew to England to meet her, and discovered she was just what
the captain ordered. After she joined me in Malaysia, we flew
to California to get married, then we returned to the boat in
Rebak and started sailing together."
"The Indian Ocean was beautiful," say the couple of
their first travels together, "and Illusion made a
pit stop at Male, in the Maldive Island Republic. Our passage
through Yemen was spent dodging pirates, who attacked three British
boats just miles away from us. The Brit boats had apparently gotten
too close to the coast. Aden provided a safe harbor before the
long slog up the Red Sea. Except for diving, the Red Sea is best
transited as quickly as possible. Despite the bad press, Israel
was peaceful and friendly. We're now in Turkey doing the usual
repairs and resting. We may stay awhile."
Last month Jim and Diana Jessie of the Alameda-based Lapworth
48 Nalu IV returned home after a 33,000-mile adventure
in the North Pacific. It started with the Mexico to Manila Race
a few years ago, after which they continued on to Japan, back
to the Phillipines, Hong Kong, Japan again, Russia, the Bering
Sea to Alaska, and last year the Pacific Northwest. "Now
what?" we asked Diana. "Well, Jim has flown back to
Florida to do a survey on a boat, and I'm just trying to thaw
out. It was very beautiful in the Northwest - but it was also
very cold and wet. I've given up figuring out what we're going
to do next." Did we mention that in '85 the Jessies started
on what turned out to be a seven-year, 60,000-mile circumnavigation?
If you'll be cruising south to Mexico, you'll no doubt be interested
in a list of the more popular SSB nets. Ha-Ha entrants will find
times, frequencies and descriptions for the Manaña, Amigo,
Chubasco, Sonrisa and Southbound nets in their copies of Latitude's
First-Timer's Guide To Cruising Mexico, which will be handed
out with all the other goodies at the October 28th Kick-Off Party.
Gary Jensen of Spiritress has also provided us with a more
extensive list, one that includes the Baja Maritime, Picante,
Pacific Maritime and Happy Hour nets. The information he provided
was posted on 'Lectronic Latitude on Friday September 28.
Just go to www.latitude38.com,
then click in the blinking 'Lectronic box to find them.
"You ran our story about the Paris Tropical Restaurant of
Tenacatita Bay in the July issue," write Richard McKay and
Karen Peterson of the South Lake Tahoe-based Cascade 36 Irie.
"But the photo we sent and you published was not of us, but
of restaurant owners Cyril and Vinciane. We were sorry to read
on 'Lectronic Latitude that they may not be welcomed back
by Blue Bay. At least we carry wonderful memories of the times
we shared in Tenacatita."
As you have probably heard, things are changing down here in Puerto
Escondido, in the Sea of Cortez," reports the Winship family
aboard the Crowther 33 cat Chewbacca. "Fonatur - the
government tourist development agency that created the likes of
Cancun and Cabo - has decided to complete the resort that was
begun at Puerto Escondido some 20 years ago. That project has
had a couple of rocky starts, with millions of investor dollars
having disappeared on two different occasions. There have also
been design problems - such as planning a hotel right in the middle
of an arroyo wash. The Mexican bureaucracy, which would even make
a Washington, D.C., lobbyist blush, hasn't helped. Fonatur claims
that when the resort is completed, there will be a marina with
mooring fields much like those at Catalina Island, shops, hotels,
condominiums, and of course time-share salespeople. But as we
all know, in manañaland, things like this can take time.
It could be two to 20 years before the project gets completed
- or started."
"But to help cruisers get used to the idea of paying for
the moorings," the Winships continue, "Fonatur has come
up with a new fee schedule or Catalogo De Tarifas Para Puerto
Escondido. To anchor - remember, the mooring fields don't exist
yet - the charge is $4.50 U.S. per day or $75 a month. Water from
the dock's hose is $2 for 53 gallons. Car parking is $2.50 U.S.
a day - or negotiable if you don't need a receipt. The turmoil
in the harbor hasn't affected us much, as we tend to stay out
at the islands - such as the Marquer anchorage at Isla Carmen
- snorkeling with the kids in the warm clear waters that teem
with sealife. Ah, life is good again! By the way, we enjoyed last
year's Ha-Ha and wish a safe trip to all participating this year.
We received a similar report on Puerto Escondido fees - and a
fat Fonatur brochure - from Bill and Jean of Mita Kuuluu,
who were anchored out at Isla Carmen. "As of today, September
5, nobody has paid the new fees," they report. "But
quite a few boats have left the harbor in protest."
"We suppose it's inevitable that Mexico will start charging
mooring fees for its most popular anchorages. Personally, we have
nothing against it, as long as the fees are reasonable and there
isn't a telephone book size stack of paperwork involved. Those
are two big 'ifs'. The good thing to remember about Mexico is
that there are countless free places to anchor. Indeed, when first-time
cruisers return from Mexico, they often have the same regret:
they spent too much time - and money - in marinas and tourist
areas, and not enough time on the hook."
Our big fear is that Mexico grossly misunderstands the market
for such big developments in the Sea of Cortez. The most surprising
statement in the Fonatur brochure reads - mistakes and all - as
follows: "The high increase in the number of sea crafts arrivals
is expected, and predicts reaching 76,400 by the year 2010. It
is currently estimated that 8,000 sea craft visit the region per
year, representing only 15% of the estimated potential market.
There exists an unlimited demand for the 3,650 local marina slips,
a factor that supports the projected expansion of this segment
of the tourism market."
Where do these people get their numbers? There is nowhere close
to 3,650 recreational boat slips in the Sea of Cortez. And try
telling the folks at Marina San Carlos - where requests for slips
is the lowest in years - that there's an "unlimited demand"
for slips, particularly in the middle and upper part of the Sea.
And unless Mexico takes drastic steps to eliminate the overly
expensive and time-consuming checking in and out procedures, the
number of visiting boats is going to decline, not increase.
More on moorings. "In keeping with its 1989 designation of
the privately-owned Mustique as a conservation area, the government
of St. Vincent & the Grenadines have prohibited anchoring
within 1,000 feet of shore. Visiting boats are now instructed
to make use of one of the 34 buoys that have been placed in Britannia
Bay. Boats up to 35 feet are charged $50/day E.C.; 36 to 70 feet
will be $75/day E.C.; while those over 100 will be charged $375/day
E.C. The E.C. trades at 2.7 to the dollar - and has held firm
at that rate for 25 years." Mustique is the small island
playground that at times has been home to the likes of David Bowie,
Mick Jagger and Princess Margaret. It's a nice island for walking
around, although the only tourist facilities are Basil's Bar and
the Cotton House. Encouraging - or requiring - boats to use mooring
buoys as opposed to anchors is an environmentally-motivated strategy
being instituted across much of the Caribbean.
Ernie Minney of Minney's Yacht Surplus in Newport Beach wants
everybody to know that they will be holding their annual Marine
Swap Meet and Class of 2001 Cruiser's Party on Sunday October
21. Spaces are $30 for private parties and $60 for commercial
vendors. The meet starts at 7 am and ends at noon. The early-birds
get the worms, of course. "After the swap meet," says
Ernie, who circumnavigated in a schooner many years ago, "I'd
like all the bonafide cruisers - meaning those headed to Mexico
in the next 90 days - to join us for a great lunch and see if
they can put away more beer than the Class of 2000. The party
will be a great opportunity for cruisers to meet one another,
exchange radio schedules, and kick back at the best marine junk
store on the planet." Reservations are a must, so call (949)
548-4192. Folks who drop the hook at the free anchorage in Newport
Beach can dinghy to Josh Slocum's restaurant, then make the short
walk to the store at 1500 Old Newport Blvd in Costa Mesa. For
details, visit www.minneysyachtsurplus.com.
For those who haven't headed south yet, there will also be a Boater's
Swap Meet at Oyster Point Marina in South San Francisco on October
20, from 7 am to 1 pm. Call (650) 588-5432.
The following weekend, from 3 to 6 pm on October 27, John and
Pat Rains, authors of the just published and excellent Mexico
Boating Guide, will be giving a three-hour Mexico Boating
Seminar at the San Diego Sheraton. There is a $45 fee for the
event, which will cover topics such as paperwork, weather, passage
tactics, and security in Mexico. Call (888) 302-2628. John and
Pat have been running boats between San Diego and Fort Lauderdale
for more than 20 years. By the way, this seminar is the day before
the start of the Ha-Ha Final Sign-In and Kick-Off Party - to be
held just a couple of hundred yards away at Cabrillo Isle Marina.
The weekend after that, November 3 from 12 am to 4 pm, Downwind
Marine of San Diego will be hosting their giant 2001 Cruisers'
Fair, complete with product demonstrations and factory reps to
answer all your questions. Downwind will do the burgers and hot
dogs; everyone else is asked to bring a side dish to share. In
addition to the free lunch, there will be a big raffle of marine
products and other fun. Call (619) 224-2733 or visit www.downwindmarine.com for details on the Cruisers' Fair - as well as the 12 cruising
seminars they present between October 16 and December 4. There
is a $3 fee for the seminars.
"We made it to West Palm Beach from San Francisco,"
report Morris and Liz Raiman of the Berkeley YC-based Nautical
39 SOCI. "We're giving up cruising for the time being
- not seeing our family members for so long is one of the big
reasons. But we'll dearly miss all the cruising buddies we made
between Mexico and here."
"Back in April, I travelled to India for the wedding of a
former grad school roommate," writes Peter Kacandes of Menlo
Park. "The wedding was close to Goa, which is the part of
India that was colonized by Portuguese traders. The accompanying
photo of the defunct-looking building of the Goa Yachting Association
was the only sign I noticed of a local sailing presence. I was
kind of surprised that not many cruisers stop in India and wonder
if you might have any insight as to why everyone seems to head
straight across the Indian Ocean?" We've been asked this
question several times, and folks always give us the same answer:
Bureaucratic hassles make the experience unbearable.
"We just started our long-awaited cruise," report Chris,
Debbie, and Heather (13) McKesson of the Bremerton, Washington-based
Columbia 36 Sundance. "We started by sailing from
Puget Sound to San Francisco Bay. We've never been here before,
so it's an exotic foreign port to us. We're having a little trouble
getting used to the shallow water, as up in Washington we set
the depth alarm at 20 feet and sometimes anchor in 40 feet. Here
we often see single-digits. Even though San Francisco isn't far
from Washington, there's a big difference in culture, and we're
really enjoying it. We also like the free showers and no extra
charge for shorepower in Berkeley." The most interesting
thing about the family's 32-year old Columbia 36? She has an electric
motor. We hope to have more on this boat feature next month.
Earlier in Changes we mentioned that Michael Beattie and
Patricia Goldman of the Gemini cat Miki G. had stopped
by our offices. Before they left, these budget cruisers handed
us a $1,000 check for the Ha-Ha fundraiser - bringing the total
to $2,400 - for Norm Goldie to distribute to the poor indigenous
people of the San Blas region of Mexico. "We know that a
few cruisers get ticked off at Norm because he gets on the radio
and tells everyone anchored at Matenchen Bay that they need to
check in at San Blas," the couple said, "but we have
complete faith that he'll put the donated money to its best use."
Incidentally, Michael and Patricia made the donation on the condition
that their total be matched by others, so if you're feeling generous,
your contribution will count double.
"We have a complaint about some cruisers," write Randy
and Lourae Kenoffel of the Beneteau/Moorings 500 Pizazz.
The couple left San Francisco eight years ago, have done most
of their cruising in the southern Caribbean, and are currently
in Golfito, Costa Rica. "During our cruising, we've noticed
that many cruisers use photocopies of various guides - particularly
the Zydlers' Panama Guide, which is very useful and helpful
for both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of that country. We
think cruisers who copy the guide are being cheap, and they are
paying the wrong people - the owners of the photocopying stores
rather than the Zydlers who did all the work. We say spend another
night on the hook instead of in a marina, and pay for the book."
It's noteworthy that it's the Kenoffels who make the complaint.
For they did a lot of work putting together the best current cruising
guide for the coast of Colombia and transiting between Panama
and the Eastern Caribbean - and give it away free to anyone who
. (The file is too big to be sent over Sailmail
or Winlink, but it's also available at the Caribbean Compass website
and also appeared in the March and April 2000 editions of Latitude.)
So nobody can accuse them of being whiners. If you plan on heading
through the Canal and to the Eastern Caribbean, or to Florida
via the Eastern Caribbean - a great idea, by the way - you should
definitely email for the Kenoffels' guide. They tell you how to
complete what was once a very difficult and dangerous passage
in a series of mostly daysails.
Speaking of Nancy Schwalbe Zydler and Tom Zydler, the second edition
of their The Panama Guide, which is 322 pages long and
has 187 detailed chartlets, has been published by Seaworthy Publications.
It's a much needed guide because Panama is a terrific country
for cruising, as it has everything from the San Blas Islands and
Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean side, and the Las Perlas Islands
and the Darien jungle on the Pacific side. There's even a waterway
- the Panama Canal - that runs between the two oceans. Nancy and
Tom have produced a fine guide, for which we only have two minor
criticisms. First, Panama is such a photogenic country, it would
have been great if they could have expanded on the number of color
photos. Second, as is the case with most cruising guides, some
regional charts would be welcome additions to help folks get oriented.
Nobody should cruise to Panama without the guide, which retails
"We're looking to sail from Tampa, Florida, to San Francisco,"
writes Kent Dudley, "and wonder if there are any old Latitude articles that address the passage from the Panama Canal to San
Francisco, and what cruising guides address this trip. We're trying
to determine what port and stops cruisers make along the way."
Latitude has published many reports on the topic, unfortunately,
we don't have the staff to do article research. But generally
speaking, there are three ways to get to San Francisco from Panama:
1) Via Hawaii, 2) Via the old clipper ship route, that actually
takes you south of the Galapagos, then halfway between Hawaii
and the West Coast before heading to the mainland, and 3) Coastal
hopping. If you're going to chose the third option - as most mariners
do - John Rains' Cruising Ports: California to Florida,
is about the only book on the subject. As you close on Panama,
however, you'll begin crossing paths with scores of cruisers who
have just come the other way and therefore can provide you with
the latest information on the best stops. It can be a long slog
from Panama, and gets much cooler north of Cabo, but you'll survive.
You'll also be interested in the following item:
"I fought off feisty thunderstorms between Mazatlan and Cabo
San Lucas as I started my Baja Bash on August 2, had a great run
to Bahia Santa Maria, got caught by a storm southwest of Abreojos,
and then lost my engine to a broken water pump," reports
Win of the Islander 36 Nebula. "While at Ascuncion,
I jury-rigged an external raw water system to the engine. At Turtle
Bay, the solar protection on my jib shredded, and I discovered
a leak in the diesel fuel system. I went up the mast at Cedros
to remove one of my radar reflectors before it fell, then had
a great run to Colnett - where my batteries died due to a problem
with a hi-tech charger. On September 5, I sailed into Ensenada
and was hauled the next day. I never would have completed the
Bash without the help and advice of my ham friends and contacts
from the Manaña Net: Kermit of Albuquerque, the manager;
Charley of Dallas/Fort Worth; John of Phoenix, who did the weather;
and Neil of Novia, the greatest diesel mechanic on frequency.
My Islander sailed very well upwind without the engine. Thus ends
my three years of cruising in Mexico."