With reports this month from
Lionesse on berth fees south of Mexico;
from Swell on a planned surfing-sailing
circumnavigation; from Water Witch
on being lost on the rocks in Baja; from Ladyhawke
on the circuitous road to chartering in the San Blas Islands;
from Balou on cruiser safety in Guatemala's
Rio Dulce; from Heart of Texas on
living through hurricane Ivan in Grenada; from Jet
Stream on making the switch from one hull to two; and Cruise Notes.
Lionesse - 69-ft Motoryacht
Jim & Kate Bondoux
Bocas del Toro, Panama
Several times Latitude has mentioned the new marina in
Bocas del Toro, Panama, so we decided to have a look. It's new,
clean, well-run, and the folks are very friendly. They've just
installed a new fuel dock, and we were one of their first customers.
Elaine Allan, the manager, gave us a warm welcome and couldn't
have been more helpful. As a result, we decided to leave Lionesse
at the Bocas YC & Marina for the summer - locally known as
'the green season'. Ricardo, a marina employee, is watching our
We want to advise everyone that cruisers in Panama are required
to obtain zarpes between ports in Panama, and check in everywhere
there is a port captain. We were unprepared for this, as we found
no mention of it on Jimmy Cornell's website, Pat and John Raines'
Cruising Ports (5th edition, 2003), nor in the Panama
Cruising Guide by Eric Bauhaus (2002). The Panama
Guide by Nancy and Tom Zydler (Second Edition, 2001) did
have this to say: ". . . navigation permit allows a yacht
to enter Panamanian ports for three months without any further
paperwork. However, port captains in some remote places insist
on issuing a clearance between harbors . . ." Kevin, the
19-year-old port captain in Bocas, wasn't satisfied with our
cruising permit and admonished us for not having a
zarpe from our previous port of Cristobal. The good news is that
there is no charge for checking in.
We're being charged a base rate of $20/night for our 69-ft motoryacht
at Bocas Marina, with fees for electricity to be added on later.
Here's a list of what we've paid for various marinas south of
San Diego: Ensenada Cruiseport, $77; Paradise Village, $57; Isla
Navidad, $95; Marina Ixtapa, $99; and Huatulco, $40. All of these
were in Mexico. At Marina Barillas in El Salvador we were only
charged $8. At Puesta del Sol in Nicaragua, it was $28. In Costa
Rica we were charged $62 at Los Sueños and $127 at Banana
Bay. At the Flamenco YC on the Pacific side of Panama, it was
$150, and at the Panama Canal YC it was just $35. Everyone should
remember that we have a power-hungry motoryacht, which pushes
up the charges. Some figures reflect a break in the daily rate
because we stayed longer. As they say, 'your mileage may vary'.
Our plan is to cruise the San Blas Islands of Panama in late
September, check out Cartagena, Colombia, and then, if a weather
window opens, make tracks for Aruba and points east. We are,
however, becoming quite concerned about the increase in violent
crime against cruisers along the north coast of South America.
We hope we don't have to reconsider our present plan.
- jim and kate 08/15/04
Jim and Kate - Thanks for the factual
information on marina fees. It's amazing how much they vary,
but above all, they show budget-minded cruisers how marina stays
make the cost of cruising soar. Fortunately, there are free anchorages
next to or near almost all the marinas you mentioned. For example,
after coming through the Canal in May, we anchored just outside
the Flamenco YC, saving ourselves - based on your figures - $150
As for travelling within Panama, we found the situation to be
chaotic. What officials said in the San Blas Islands was disputed
by the officials in Cristobal. The default is that everyone should
expect to have to check-in each time they reach an area with
another port captain.
Swell - Cal 40
From December of '89 to June of '90, Liz Clark, then just 9 years
old, did a six-month cruise to Mexico with her parents - father
Russell, mother Melissa, as well as older brother James and younger
sister Kathleen. Cruising the family's San Diego-based Gulfstar
50 Endless Summer, they went as far south as Banderas
Bay and up into the Sea of Cortez. It was an experience that
changed Liz's life.
"It was during that trip that I realized how much I loved
the ocean," she says. "But the trip also made me become
an environmentalist. I saw how dirty Mexico was, how the people
were ignorant of how to properly dispose of trash, and how they
polluted their harbors."
Thus it was only natural for Clark to become an Environmental
Studies major when she attended school at the University of California
at Santa Barbara. Now 24 years old, Liz graduated 18 months ago.
Given Liz's love of the ocean, it's also not surprising that
she became a surfer. "I competed for the UCSB women's team
for all four years and won the National Collegiate Championship
when I was a senior. I'm pretty good. I ride shortboards made
by Jason Fiest of Santa Barbara."
Like a lot of folks who just graduated, Clark wasn't exactly
sure what she wanted to do. Being a pro surfer was one possibility,
but performing in contests isn't her favorite type of surfing.
She also loves sailing, so when the opportunity presented itself
to join a Santa Barbara mega-yacht for a trip around the world,
she signed on. But by the time they reached Acapulco, Liz decided
the situation wasn't right for her and opted off.
Rather than come right home, Clark joined Nick del Giogio's Cal
34 No Intentions for six months of cruising and surfing,
getting as far south as Golfito, Costa Rica. While the relationship
ultimately didn't work out, Liz did get the opportunity to surf
some fine breaks, such as Puerto Escondido on mainland Mexico
and Ollie's Point in Costa Rica. (Her favorite spots in the Santa
Barbara area are Hammond's Reef and - who would ever guess? -
Back in Santa Barbara in the summer of '03, Clark didn't want
a 'real' job, but something that was different and would also
afford her plenty of freedom. Socially, Santa Barbara is a small
harbor, and Liz serendipitously started crossing paths with Barry
Schuyler, an 80-year-old retired Environmental Science professor
from UCSB. Schuyler has been a big supporter of women's sailing,
and was instrumental in Betsy Crowfoot's all-women Cal 40 Antara
campaign in the TransPac. Over the course of several conversations,
Schuyler mentioned that he was looking for a young woman to sail
his Contessa 26 around the world. (For some reason, the Contessa
26 has been a popular boat with young American solo circumnavigators.
Tania Aebi mostly singlehanded one around the world in one, Brian
Caldwell of Honolulu later went all the way around alone on a
Clark makes no bones about the fact that she's not looking to
set any solo circumnavigation speed records, or even go all the
way around alone. "My dream is to do a sailing/surfing cultural
trip around the globe, where from time to time I'm joined by
different people - preferably surfers - for surfing and sailing.
I want to show people what I love about the ocean." Nonetheless,
she gave Schuyler's Contessa 26 a tryout cruise to the Channel
Islands. Although Schuyler was willing to pour lots of money
into the boat and a circumnavigation attempt, Clark had to respectfully
decline. "It was hard turning down the offer, but doing
a solo circumnavigation is not my dream, and a 26-footer is a
smaller boat than I'd like to go around in."
Not long after that, Schuyler decided to modify his offer. He
would match whatever money Clark could raise to buy the boat
of her choice for her sailing/surfing safari. With some help
from her father, Clark accumulated a chunk of money and started
shopping for a boat. "Some brokers tried to point me in
the direction of Westsail 32s and other full-keel cruising boats,"
she remembers, "but I wanted something faster and more lively."
That's when she stumbled across the Cal 40 Alisio in Santa
Barbara Harbor. Although the boat wasn't for sale at the time,
it turned out the owner wasn't using her much and was getting
ready to sell. She now belongs to Clark - with a huge help from
Schuyler - and has been rechristened Swell.
Clark has a vague plan for a three- to five-year surfing-related
circumnavigation, but her short term plans are more definite.
Come December or January, she plans to sail and surf down the
coasts of Mexico and Central America to Panama, getting accustomed
to her boat and her being in charge at sea. From there she hopes
to continue on to the Marquesas and Tuamotus, perhaps by herself,
perhaps with a couple of surfers. After that, her plans will
depend largely on how much money she's able to earn or funding
she's able to generate.
Swell is your basic Cal 40. It's obvious that she's nearly
40 years old, but she's still a Cal 40, which means she's a hell
of a boat. If we had to pick a design for a young woman to try
to take around the world shorthanded, a Cal 40 would be somewhere
near the top of the list. Mike Jansen has been helping her outfit
the boat with a Yanmar diesel, and she's already installed a
Monitor Windvane. A thoroughly modern sailor, Liz would like
to add a few more things to the boat before she takes off around
the world. A new main would be nice, as would a new skiff and
outboard, an autopilot, a SatPhone, a weather routing service,
and a Honda generator. Such things are hard to afford while working
as a bartender at one of the harbor restaurants, so she's working
on getting sponsorships and donations.
It helps that Liz enjoys the support of her family. "My
dad, who still owns Endless Summer, is excited, and will
live the trip vicariously. My mom is happy for me because she
always knew that I was going to do something different. My brother
and sister think it's great. They love the ocean, too, but not
as much as me."
We asked a few people around the harbor what they thought of
Liz's chances of actually going all the way around. Nobody doubted
that she had the basic sailing skills that would allow her to
acquire more sophisticated shorthanded sailing skills as she
went along. The biggest obstacles they thought she might face
weren't money, but maintaining her passion for the long haul
and/or being distracted by romance.
With a daughter who is about the same age as Liz, and who vaguely
resembles her in appearance, we have a soft spot for Liz's dream.
So if she continues to make progress toward the start of her
trip, we'd find it difficult not to chip in and help her acquire
some of the gear she needs. And if Swell crosses paths
with Profligate in Mexico this winter, we think it would
be a kick to try to organize a 'surfer-sailor' surf contest fundraiser
for her at Punta de Mita or one of the other surf spots.
If you like the sound of Liz's project and would like to give
her moral or financial support, or if you're a surfer-sailor
girl who might be interested in her proposed adventure, you can
reach her by . If you're a surfer-sailor dude
who'd like to join this sweet and attractive young lady on her
sailing-surfing expedition, be sure to address your emails to
- latitude 09/05/04
Water Witch - 56-ft Wood Ketch
Classic Yacht Lost On Carmen
A reader who recently returned home from Mexico wrote the following
as an introduction to Doug Tiffany's report on the tragic loss
of his 56-ft classic wood ketch Water Witch at Isla Carmen
in the Sea of Cortez:
"We first met Doug Tiffany and Water Witch while
anchored at Isla Ballandra near La Paz. Tiffany and his ketch
came in and left under sail, as his engine wasn't very strong
at the time. Later he became our neighbor at the virtual marina
along the La Paz waterfront. A retired professional shipwright,
Tiffany had spent many years getting Water Witch prepared
for cruising, and she was one of the best equipped cruising boats
around. Tiffany was the perfect neighbor, too. He was always
willing to lend a hand, and helped me up the mast of my boat
many times. He also had a lot of tools and equipment, and was
generous about loaning them out to others. His loss is a loss
to all cruisers. What follows is the report Doug sent to his
"At 3 a.m. on September 2, I lost my boat to the rocks lining
the shore at La Lancha Bay, Isla Carmen, in the Sea of Cortez.
The site is about 10 miles to the east of Loreto. I'd left La
Paz a month earlier, and was slowly making my way north, enjoying
each island in the chain. At that time of year the wind blows
from the south, so when I anchored in La Lancha, I set the anchor
for a southerly blow in 25 feet of water with good holding in
a sandy bottom. A lovely lady named Luise Marchi, was with me,
having joined the boat in La Paz. She'd spent about five years
in the area 30 years before, so she knew it well. The reef at
La Lancha was like an aquarium - the best we'd ever dove on.
So we'd spent the day snorkeling in 80° water - a nice change
from the 100+° on the boat. After dinner we played backgammon
in the cockpit, at which time we noticed high-altitude clouds,
with thunder and lightning, building to the north on the mainland
side of Baja. We removed the awnings just in case the wind came
up, and stayed awake to keep an eye on the weather.
"The wind started to blow at about 1 a.m. and increased
in strength, swinging Water Witch 180° around and
putting her on a lee shore. In addition, the seas started to
form from the north, with nothing to interrupt their fetch. I
had a 66-lb Bruce out with 7/16" chain - good, heavy tackle
- and we didn't drag. Although it was pitch black except for
when the lightning illuminated the sky, I had a good reference
point on land. But the waves hitting the shore caused the water
to shallow up - and the next thing I knew the boat was hitting
the bottom. I started the motor and motored into deeper water,
but with the strong winds, the bow kept being blown off to one
side or the other. And with the anchor dug in, I couldn't motor
further out. I didn't think of letting all the chain go and coming
back to retrieve it later. When the wind shifted more to the
northwest, it put us closer to the rocky shore. With the chain
stretched all the way out and with the waves causing the boat
to hobbyhorse, the keel finally made contact with the rocks.
Once that happened it was all over. The starboard side was holed
and water quickly poured into the boat.
"With the water coming in so fast, Luise and I weren't able
to get much stuff from the interior of the boat. And with the
waves rocking the boat back and forth, we had no choice but to
get into the dinghy and go ashore, which is where we spent the
night. We did manage to put out a Mayday on the VHF, as we knew
some cruisers were in a bay close by. They arrived at first light
and took us aboard, giving us food and coffee, and helping us
assess the situation. But when it appeared that another storm
was forming, we had to leave for a safer anchorage.
"The Mexican Navy arrived that afternoon with a really big
panga, and we went back to work salvaging all we could from the
deck - anchors, chain, liferaft, sails, dinghy, outboard, and
so forth. Because of all the flotsam, we were unable to get much
from Water Witch's interior. Eventually we got
all the stuff we could salvage to the Baja shore, where I was
able to put it into storage with a friend. The islands in the
Sea of Cortez are federal parks, so the issue of potential pollution
was a concern. I was, of course, responsible for my wreck, so
with the help of the Harbormaster in Loreto, a salvor was located.
I was able to sign the wreck over to him, which let me off the
hook for any potential pollution. I must say that everybody -
Mexican officials and citizens - bent over backwards to help.
Everyone was simpatico to my situation, and nobody ever
tried to rip me off.
"I'm still in shock over the loss and don't know what I'm
going to do. I lost all my possessions in the wreck and had no
insurance, so it's been a very big blow to me. At this point
I think I'll try to find a boat headed south in December, or
find work and try to get another boat. If I get another boat,
it would be much smaller and simpler. One way or the other, I
want to get back to cruising. So that's my story, and as they
say, I'm sticking to it."
If any friends would like to reach Tiffany with condolences -
and maybe a contribution to get him back on his feet - he can
be reached by .
- charles 09/10/04
Ladyhawke - 62-ft Trimaran
Capt. Jonathan and Joell White
New Boat, New Careers
It's been four years since we and JoJo, our Catfisher
32, were mentioned in Latitude. At the time, we'd just
left Cartagena and pounded for five miserable days up the coast
of Colombia to Aruba. From there we made a beeline to Puerto
Rico, and arrived in the British Virgins just six days before
the start of the 2000 Tortola Charter Boat Show. We were at the
show because friends from the 52-ft charter cat Tamarin
had convinced us that we had the boat and personalities to be
successful doing charters in the British Virgins. (Unfortunately,
our friends' cat hit a container on the way from Cartagena to
Tortola and was lost at sea!)
With the help of some young friends, we managed to transform
JoJo from a cruising boat to a charter 'yacht' - complete
with proper dinnerware and matching outfits for Joell and me
- in just five days! Despite the fact that we were docked as
far from the center of things as possible, and in spite of the
derogatory remarks from some crews of the much larger charter
cats, we made quite a hit that year. With promises of bookings
from most of the major charter brokers, we looked forward to
a new phase of our lives.
Unfortunately, unexpected family matters forced us to return
to the U.S. After taking care of them, we found ourselves living
aboard JoJo in Southern Florida in the spring of 2001.
Through a typically serendipitous route for us, we ended up in
Jupiter, Florida, where we founded a natural health magazine
while tied up at a marina! While Joell labored away in front
of the computer laying out the magazine, I drove all over hot
and humid south Florida - in my air-conditionerless Bugatti replica
- trying to sell advertising. We published our first issue in
October of that year, and it was an instant success. However,
the strain of publishing a magazine in the confines of JoJo's
salon took its toll, and made us both quite unhealthy! After
a few more issues, we sold the magazine and put JoJo on
the hard at Glades Boat Storage in central Florida - a great
place to leave a boat.
What could be more natural for us than to change careers from
publishers of a natural health magazine to long-haul truck drivers?
In a bizarre move, the two of us went to truck driving school
in Spartanburg, South Carolina. After three cold and sometimes
terrifying weeks, Joell graduated at the top of the class - and
we were flown to company headquarters in Salt Lake City. There
we leased a gleaming red International truck that we named Margaret
after the intrepid sailor Margaret Roth. For most of 2002, we
crisscrossed the country, delivering all kinds of goods to all
kinds of places. You may think truck driving would be a great
way to see the U.S., but it's really just a great way to see
5,000 miles of seemingly unending highway a week - as well as
grubby truckstops and too many nasty cops. Even though we ate
healthy foods, the lifestyle got us out of shape. Combined with
the fact that we missed cruising, it was time to do something
Terminating our truck lease, we headed back to JoJo, spent
a month fixing her up, and took off on a cruise to the Florida
Keys. In July of '03, we ended up back in Fort Lauderdale, where
we got an apartment, Jon got a job at a small brokerage that
specialized in selling multihulls, and we decided to sell JoJo.
In six months, Jon sold $1.3 million of used catamarans, and
JoJo was sold to a new home in San Diego. Yes, our Catfisher
32, which we'd bought in North Carolina and had trucked to Sausalito,
and which we then sailed to Florida over a three-year period,
was trucked back to California once again.
Our next move was to do what Capt. Jon swore he'd never do -
buy a large wood boat. It's true that Ladyhawke is cold
molded with epoxy, which isn't as bad as regular wood construction.
But, she's still a huge trimaran, 62 feet overall, with a 27-ft
beam. She also has many complicated systems, such as a 15kw generator,
a watermaker, air-conditioning, and an intimidating amount of
varnished exterior. She was sadly neglected for three years after
losing her mast, but we instantly saw through the flaking varnish,
a few areas of deck rot, and dark and mildewy interior to see
her for the unique and special boat she is.
All this happened last January. Since then, we have breathed
new life into our distinctive trimaran, through countless hours
of work and a fair bit of money. We bought a used mast in Ft.
Lauderdale, then spent five weeks at Bob & Annie's Boatyard
- a wonderful place to haul, especially for multihulls - on the
west coast of Florida. With the mast up and a short sail to make
sure everything was all right, we headed out to the Dry Tortugas.
During the past three months we've made our way down through
Mexico and Belize to the Bay Islands of Honduras - a truly beautiful
place with lovely people.
We've written this letter while at anchor in the Vivarillo Cays
off the northwest Cape of Honduras. The cays are nothing more
than three very small, low-lying islands with a mile-long reef
- but they offer a calm lee against the easterly tradewinds as
well as superb diving. Tomorrow we sail towards Isla Providencia,
our next stop on our way back to Panama. We still have work to
do on Ladyhawke before we start the charter season at
Panama's San Blas Islands in December. That's right, we're going
to charter in the San Blas, a little-known but remote and gorgeous
area. If anyone back home wants any information, our website
It's been a remarkable four years for us, with many new faces
and new places. But we feel we're back where we should be, on
the bluewater among the palm-studded islands, looking for new
adventures and some people to enjoy them with.
- jon & joell 9/10/04
Balou - Hardin 45 Ketch
The 'Troubles' In The Rio Dulce
(Key West, Florida)
While reading Latitude online, I came across your request
for current information on the 'troubles' on the Rio Dulce, a
hurricane hole on the Caribbean side of Guatemala that has long
been popular with cruisers. My wife Gayle and I have been on
the river for over a year and are happy to respond.
Yes, there have been armed robberies on the Rio Dulce - even
from boats anchored by the bridge right in front of the village
of Fronteras. These robberies occurred a number of months ago
and involved two boats over a period of several days. In both
cases the robbers were armed, had boarded the boats while the
occupants were sleeping with the hatches and companionway open,
and escaped on a fast boat. The thieves were looking for
cash. The only casualties were the wits of the people on board
- although one person reported sustaining a minor facial injury
from being pistol-whipped. In both cases, the pair of robbers
also left with the cruisers' dinghies - and warned the victims
that they would return to kill them if they reported the robbery.
Nonetheless, both incidents were reported on the Rio Dulce VHF
Net the following morning.
While in progress, the second robbery was noticed by a guard
at the nearest marina. A gun battle ensued, as several guards
boarded a launch and headed toward the boat being robbed. Despite
more than 10 rounds being fired before the thieves escaped in
their launch - with the victim's dinghy in tow - nobody was hurt.
One of the thieves shot holes in the dodger of the boat he was
robbing. There was no other physical damage to boats or injuries
to humans. My wife and I, aboard our nearby boat, were awakened
by the gunfire. We quickly rolled off our bunk and onto the cabin
sole. We fully expected to see holes appear in the hull of our
boat at any second.
It's believed that both robberies were conducted by the same
gang, and that one of the robbers was later killed in Guatemala
City during another robbery attempt. In the case of both boat
robberies, the local authorities took the information provided
by the victims, but did nothing else.
We've also heard reports of two robberies of boats anchored in
the Rio Tatin - although we don't have direct confirmation from
the victims. It was reported that in one case the robbers severely
beat one sailor and raped his companion. Following the attacks,
there were no cruising boats anchored anywhere on the river for
several weeks. Since then, there have been no incidents - beyond
the larceny of deck gear and dinghies.
Based on our time here and what we know of the incidents, we'd
encourage cruisers to be cautious, but not to avoid the Rio Dulce.
After all, there have certainly been worse crimes in Key West
and especially Miami, but cruisers don't think of avoiding them.
A few simple precautions - which ought to be employed no matter
where one cruises, U.S. or foreign water - would protect your
deck and cockpit equipment, as well as your dinghy and outboard
In addition, cruisers should never sleep with their companionway
open and unlocked from the inside. Devise a means to
be awakened should someone attempt to enter your boat. It's also
a good idea to be able to bar your hatches from the inside to
prevent entry while you sleep. We also recommend that you carefully
think through what your response would be if someone attempted
to board your boat at night - and even worse, if you woke up
to find someone shining a flashlight in your eyes and holding
a gun to your nose. Our advice is to concentrate on preventing
theft and entry as opposed to repelling robbers with force.
We had a scary experience of our own, which is actually another
facet of the issue above. We had heard numerous reports and rumors
of robberies on the far side of Lake Izabal, and were warned
not to go there alone. But since nobody was willing to go exploring
with us, we went anyway - and thus ended up being the only boat
anchored on the other end of the lake near El Estor and the effluent
of the Rio Sauce. Actually, I believe we were the only non-local
boat on the entire lake. In any event, it was about 9 p.m. and
pitch black when we heard an outboard motor and a voice in Spanish
yelling for us to come on deck and show ourselves. The launcha
showed no lights and nobody had a flashlight on. Since we couldn't
see them, I thought it was only fair that they not see us - so
I turned off all our exterior and interior lights. This resulted
in a lot more yelling outside.
I looked through a port to see who it was out there, thinking
that we were perhaps in serious trouble - and dodged flashlight
beams as they tried to look inside the same port. With our meager
understanding of Spanish, and their belief that despite flying
a U.S. flag we must speak Spanish, we had no idea what they were
saying except to come up on deck right then and show ourselves.
But when I yelled at them to identify themselves, there was no
answer. As they became more frantic, one of them finally shined
his flashlight on his hat - and I saw the emblem for the Port
Captain. He then shined his flashlight on one of his companions
in a national policeman's uniform - although the fellow vehemently
objected to being lit up for targeting!
Once they identified themselves, I naturally yelled back that
I had no problem with turning on the lights and coming up on
deck. With the boat illuminated, I came up into the cockpit -
to find the Port Captain pointing his 9mm pistol through the
porthole in the nav station. I also found the Port Captain's assistant
and two national police with 9mm handguns, as well as three
soldiers with AK-47s - all leveled at me! I assured them I had
nothing up my sleeves, and asked them what the devil they were
doing near my boat in the dark. Because of the language barrier,
the best we could come up with is 'routine inspection'.
Indeed, they wound up inspecting our documents, and then requested
permission to come aboard for an inspection of the interior.
I naturally gave them permission. After about 15 minutes, they
got tired of looking in lockers at spare parts and food, and
quit. They apologized profusely for the inspection and, when
questioned further, explained that they did not have a radio,
so they could not call us. Besides, they asked, why would they
want to identify themselves? "We might get shot if we did!"
When cruising, it's important to be especially mindful of differences
in cultures. In the States and other places in the world, if
you do not identify yourself as the authorities, you might get
shot at. That is part of my culture, and those brought up like
me would normally expect the local authorities to represent themselves
in the same way. But as we learned that dark night in Guatemala,
that's not necessarily the case elsewhere. So don't assume the
guy outside in the dark is a robber.
- jerry 09/09/04
Texas - Hunter 450
Rankin Tippins & Sandy Hollis
Hurricane Ivan & Grenada
This firsthand account of being with a boat in Grenada during
hurricane Ivan was forwarded to us by Harry Heckel, the 87-year
old who has circumnavigated twice with his Idle Queen.
It was written by Rankin Tippins and Sandy Hollis. Rankin is
a longtime sailor who once crewed from Panama to French Polynesia,
but who then drifted off to powerboats while pursuing a career
as a corporate attorney in Houston. After getting back to sailing
and going cruising, he has "managed the adjustment to being
his own boss - and all the freedom, independence, and responsibility
associated with the cruising lifestyle." Sandy, a computer
consultant who has only been sailing two years, was lured into
cruising by "promises of magnificent sunsets, beautiful
beaches, wonderful tropical cocktails served to me by handsome,
young cabana boys - and by no more stress." She's yet to
see a handsome young cabana boy.
We wanted to let y'all know how things went with us and our Hunter
450 Heart of Texas during hurricane Ivan's visit to Grenada
in the southern part of the Eastern Caribbean. Many marine insurance
policies require boats to be south of 12°40' in the Caribbean
during the summer and fall to reduce exposure to losses due to
hurricanes. The southern part of Grenada, a smaller-than-Catalina-size
island/nation with a population of about 90,000, is at 12°00'
- or about 40 nautical miles south of the hurricane zone as defined
by insurance companies. There is a reason for this - Grenada
hadn't taken a direct hurricane hit from a hurricane since 1955,
and is believed to have been directly hit only three times in
As still-tropical storm Ivan approached Grenada, the U.S. National
Hurricane Center predicted he would cross St. Lucia, about 120
miles to the north, on his westward path. But as Ivan became
a hurricane and came ever closer, the NHC changed its prediction
to his crossing between St. Lucia and St. Vincent, which is only
about 90 miles to the north. Two days before the storm hit, the
NHC was still predicting a veer to the north, but by that time
many cruisers had lost faith and were taking off for Trinidad
or Venezuela's Isla Margarita. As late as a day before Ivan hit,
a few cruisers decided to make a run for it. They were the lucky
Our Hunter 450 was docked at Clark's Court Bay Marina, the only
floating docks in Grenada. The docks were secured by large chains
to moorings rather than pilings. We decided not to make a run
for Trinidad because we had faith in the experts' ability to
forecast Ivan's path. Other boats either anchored with several
anchors in the various bays on the south end of Grenada or backed
into the mangrove swamps and tied off to the trees.
About 12 hours before Ivan hit - which was at 0300 on September
7 - it became apparent that there was no escaping. People started
leaving their boats to find shelter. Although I wanted to stay
with our boat, Sandy insisted that we take a cab to a hotel.
Around mid-afternoon Ivan was blowing all the corrugated roofs
and tree foliage away. We stayed in the hotel room for the first
half of Ivan and watched through the plate-glass doors as many
objects flew by sideways. It reminded Sandy of the tornado scene
from The Wizard of Oz. We heard that the winds exceeded
130 mph. After the leading edge of the eye passed, we joined
the other cruisers and locals in a ground floor conference room
that had fewer windows. When darkness fell we returned to our
room where we spent a sleepless night.
With the hurricane having moved west by the next morning, we
walked three miles to the marina and saw devastation all around.
Not one house in 10 still had a roof. Others described the island
as looking like Hiroshima after the atom bomb. We don't have
a complete picture of the hurricane damage because communications
have been out. There is no power or water.
We arrived at the marina to find a typical post-hurricane scene
of boats awry with some piled on top of others. We and the crew
on the boat next to us had put out anchors, which may have contributed
to our boats not being carried away with the others. From the
few people who had stayed on board their boats - and said they'd
never do it again! - we learned that the docks first went one
way, then the other way, and finally broke up. Some boats were
completely destroyed while others just had cosmetic damage. The
boat on one side of us had cosmetic damage and all her stanchions
ripped off. The boat on the other side of us had sunk in place.
Our Hunter 450 suffered a large gash in the stern just above
the waterline where she'd been hitting the dock, opening up one
side of the lazerette. Plus, some of our stanchions were damaged.
Our rigging is fine and, oddly enough, the solar panel we left
just tied down survived as well. All in all, it could have been
much worse for us. Luckily we carry insurance, although a large
deductible applies because it was a named storm.
Although there were something like 20 reported deaths, apparently
nobody died in the marinas or on any of the boats. [Editor's
note: It was later reported that three people died on boats.]
The boats that set multiple anchors in open bays seemed to have
dragged no matter what they put out. Where they ended up was
a matter of luck. The boats tied to the mangroves generally seemed
to have fared better, although many ended up in a big pile -
as did a lot of boats in our marina. The VHF radio is full of
tales of woe and relief.
We hope to seal the gash in our hull and leave tomorrow for Trinidad,
which is about 12 hours away. We want to get off the dock so
our boat doesn't suffer any more damage and to allow other boats
to leave. I'm hoping we can get additional repairs in Trinidad.
I know that Grenada will be in bad shape for a very long time
and there will be a long wait for repairs.
Sandy says that having experienced Isabel last year and Ivan
this year - two hurricanes that weren't supposed to be where
they were - she's had it with such storms. I guess that means
we'll be sailing the Pacific where they only have typhoons.
- rankin 09/09/04
Jet Stream - Moorings 4500 Cat
Tim Schaaf & Marsha McCoskrie
Monohull To Catamaran
First of all, for many years I've been using a fuel filter like
the West Marine one you've been having trouble with. I use it
as part of Casual Water's normal fueling procedure. You
empty its sump by squeezing the big end of the funnel, which
narrows the flow so that you can pour the dregs into a Coke bottle
- where I let it sit to see if there's any water in it. By the
way, I also have a Baja Filter, but have never mastered the art
of cleaning that one up. It has a little liquid residue which
likes to get loose. I much prefer the plastic funnel, and bought
one just like yours from West Marine for Jet Stream.
Jet Stream? That's the name Marsha and I finally settled
on for the Moorings 4500 catamaran that I reported buying several
months ago. The whole Moorings "phase out" process
for getting boats out of their charter program was very interesting.
Unfortunately, it ran well behind schedule, as The Moorings was
reportedly having their best spring in years. At the end of the
day, however, we took delivery of a boat that was in nearly impeccable
shape for the trip back to Florida, so the delays were worth
it. I can't say enough in appreciation for Bob Ross and Dave
Cooper, The Moorings' brokers that we dealt with.
We had planned on cruising the British Virgins for a week before
heading west, but ultimately didn't have the time. Crewing with
Marsha and myself were my great friends Mike and Heather Hibbetts,
who first met when she crewed aboard Profligate in a Ha-Ha,
and who recently moved their CT-49 Orion to her new homeport
of Houston. Their help on the delivery was invaluable, and their
company aboard was delightful. We spent a month together, finishing
the boat prep and sailing to Fort Lauderdale.
I can't tell you how much difference it makes to have a cat when
you have guests! The four of us had so much space that there
was no question of friction of any sort. Mike and Heather could
have stayed permanently and it would have continued to be great
fun. We're looking forward to the pleasure of sharing Jet
Stream with other friends as well - something that I couldn't
say for my Hunter 33 Casual Water or most other monohulls.
And Jet Stream would be super for Mexico and the Sea of
Having two engines is interesting. At cruising revs, we use about
1.3 gallons per hour, per engine. We normally motor on one engine
at about seven knots. When we bring the other engine on, we nudge
up to the middle 8s - but it hardly seems worth it because we
double our fuel consumption. Our max speed is about 9.5 knots.
Jet Stream supposedly comes in at about 23,000 pounds
when not loaded down, and so far we haven't weighed her down
with lots of possessions. But she did come with three (!) air-conditioners
and a diesel generator, not to mention a 25-hp powered hard-bottom
inflatable. We usually carry lots of fuel but not much water
because we have a watermaker - but it's easy to see how a spacious
cat could get weighed down if we're not careful.
The various delays kept us from doing any sailing other than
just raising the main and unfurling the jib at the dock at Tortola
in the British Virgins. Although I don't recommend it, we headed
straight for the 750-mile distant Cat Island in the Bahamas with
no further shakedown! At least we'd become intimate with all
of our cat's systems, which were working, and she was a well-tried
crewed charter cat. Any doubts we may have had about her were
quickly erased, as Jet Stream performed like a champ.
We sailed 80% of the way to Cat Island and not one thing broke,
came loose, or failed in any way. Except for the SSB, that is,
which I brought from Casual Water and which had been giving
me fits for the better part of a year. Other than that, it was
a perfect passage.
Unfortunately, we didn't have time to tarry in the Bahamas. But
our good weather and mechanical fortune held all the way to Ft.
Lauderdale. And what a place that is!
Given the incessant trumpeting about 'Homeland Security', you'd
think that U.S. Customs might have been interested in visiting
a boat that was being imported into the U.S. for the first time.
Not so! They couldn't be bothered. Coming from South Africa,
Jet Stream is tax exempt, but I would have thought that
someone might have been interested in confirming that we didn't
have weapons, drugs, refugees, or Fidel Castro aboard. Maybe
next time I'll call in as the sailing vessel Islamic Jihad and
see of we get a different response.
From Fort Lauderdale, Marsha and I doublehanded up to Solomons
Island in the Chesapeake. With a 72-foot mast, our Leopard/Moorings
4500 is not an IntraCoastal Waterways boat, but we ducked in
at Ft. Pierce, Jekyll Island, and Ocracoke. The barrier island
of Ocracoke is a special place that's accessible only by boat
- put it on your list. Our weather luck held, although we spent
much of the midnight-to-dawn watch each night dodging big thunderstorms.
Don of Summer Passage would have been on the edge of his
seat with anticipation! Our radar proved invaluable in dodging
the storms, and we managed to get out of the way of about 75%
We made it to Solomons Island about a week before the first hurricane
bedeviled the Hatteras area, and then battened down for Bonnie
and Charley. Although Charley was blowing at over 70 mph just
150 miles south of us, he took a right turn and was a complete
non-event here on the Chesapeake. The remnants of Bonnie, however,
did drop quite a bit of rain. I felt like I was back in Baja,
dodging and prepping for hurricanes.
The East Coast boating and marina scene is very different from
California and Mexico. Only one marina we've been in has had
locked gates - or even had gates at all! Nonetheless, security
seems just fine. Of course, we haven't been to any big cities
besides Lauderdale, and there we tied up to our broker's backyard.
The typical dock on the East Coast, however, is another matter.
Floating docks are a rarity, and we have been getting used to
tying up to all sorts of rickety piles and other dock-like structures
that would not be tolerated in California or, for that matter,
most of Mexico. You really need a rubrail or lots and lots of
fenders. It seems so primitive, but that's the way folks like
it here. The other day I heard someone criticizing "those
stupid floating docks".
But you would think that mariners here would expect more, as
the daily rate at marinas is even higher than at Marina Cabo
San Lucas - where I worked for many years, and which has much
more to offer in the way of facilities and services. Solomon's
Yachting Center, the marina we'll be in for the next few months,
is an exception, as it does have floating docks, is very nice,
and is reasonably priced. It was completely rebuilt after biting
the dust in hurricane Isabel last fall.
We'll be here until late October, at which point we'll head back
to the Caribbean.
- tim & marsha 9/15/04
With a new Mexico cruising season to begin in a month, the big
question is whether or not the domestic clearing regulations
in Mexico will be changed. Because these regulations require
unjustifiably expensive and time-consuming procedures wherever
there is a port captain, many cruisers devise cruising itineraries
specifically for the purpose of avoiding as many places with
port captains as possible. A small percentage of cruisers ignore
domestic clearing all together, hoping not to get caught. As
Latitude reported several months ago, President Fox said
he would do away with the rules requiring domestic clearing,
which would mean cruisers would only have to check into Mexico
and out of Mexico. But only time will tell if Fox was able to
deliver on that promise. If there is a change, we'll report it
immediately on 'Lectronic
On September 19, three sailboats washed up on the sands of Santa
Monica Bay a few hundred feet southeast of Marina del Rey. As
Dan Hallai of Santa Monica explains, "For the past couple
of years there has been a group of boats - as many as 15 - anchored
outside the south jetty at Marina del Rey. The breakwater shelters
them from the predominant weather, and the water is usually too
deep for south swells to cause them much trouble. But Sunday's
winds came up fast and hard from the west, and several of them
went up on the beach." According to Gary Thornton of the
Marina del Rey Harbor Patrol (Los Angeles County Sheriff), a
law was changed about 10 years ago that resulted in a V-shaped
section to the southeast of the breakwater being reclassified
as 'high seas', which allows boats to legally anchor in that
somewhat precarious spot. Thanks to occasional strong winds and
generally poor ground tackle, the boats anchored out - most of
which are derelicts - go up on the rocks or the beach on a regular
basis. Thornton estimates that in the last six months alone,
two boats have gone on the rocks, three on the beach, and about
10 others have had to be rescued. Boats that end up on the beach
have to be removed and/or destroyed by the Department of Beaches
and Harbors - at considerable taxpayer expense. "Derelict
and abandoned boats are a big problem for harbormasters up and
down the coast," said Thornton. "We've got 11 at our
docks now and don't have room for any others." Why is it,
we wonder, that cars abandoned on highways can be removed immediately
and their owners held responsible, but the same is not true for
abandoned boats on coastal waters?
"We are currently in Australia with plans to ship our Cheoy
Lee 38 Gitana to Golfito, Costa Rica, in January, then
sail up the coast to Mexico," report Greg and Janis Morehead.
"We are looking for any information regarding marinas, anchorages,
and so forth along the Central American coast." Since you've
been gone, there has been quite a bit of marina development in
Central America. Barillas Marina and Bahia del Sol have opened
up in El Salvador, as has Puesto del Sol in Nicaragua, and a
marina near Huatulco, Mexico. Alas, the Costa Rican government
closed down Flamenco Marina, reportedly for ecological reasons,
so that's one loss. As for anchorages, you either need to buy
the guide books or talk to cruisers you meet in Costa Rica. But
rest assured, there are plenty of them between Costa Rica and
"It was great seeing Profligate at the fuel dock
in Newport Beach in late August," write Russel and Jennifer
Redmond of their "new and improved" Coronado 35 Watchfire.
"And it was nice to have the Wanderer there to take our
picture - holding a fire extinguisher - in front of our new boat.
We've been looking for a replacement cruising boat for Mexico
and beyond ever since last fall when our Columbia 26 Watchfire
perished in the huge fire storm east of San Diego." Jennifer
and Russel are the publishers of the Baja Journal literary
"We'd like to recommend the Rio Chagres as a place that
cruisers in Panama often miss - but shouldn't," write Randy
and Lourae Kenoffel of the Northern California-based Moorings
500 Pizazz. "Although it's less than two hours from
Colon/Cristobal, it is worlds away from the dirt, glaring lights,
traffic, noise, and other annoyances of a city. This often mirror-flat
jungle river is really special, as the various shades of jungle
green reflect off the waters, only to be broken by ripples from
fish or the snout of a crocodile. We've seen more birds - of
every color and mix of colors - than we can identify. You hear
jungle bird sounds - particularly those of parrots - all day
long. This chirping, singing, and squawking is mixed with the
barking, roaring, and howling of the howler monkeys as they romp
from tree to tree. It's also amazing to see the flourescent blue
butterflies flit about, and the graceful flight of the white
egrets and blue herons. It's such a beautiful world that nature
provides for us, particularly in Panama where, because it's the
bridge between the two continents, there are so many species.
The only thing that shatters the experience is the arrival of
the tourist helicopters! And as special as the Rio Chagres is,
the San Blas Islands are calling us, so we're headed back out
Cruiser quiz: What's unique about the Rio Chagres? It's the only
river in the world that flows into two oceans.
Warwick 'Commodore' Tompkins of Mill Valley - delighted to be
one of the most cantankerous personalities in sailing - swears
that he and his wife Nancy are finally going cruising this winter
aboard their Wylie 38+ Flash Girl. She's unusual for a
relatively small cruising boat in that she has a lifting keel
and water ballast. Tompkins finished the boat from a hull and
deck in Sonoma over a seven-year period, and has sailed her frequently
since, including in the wind-starved West Marine Pacific Cup
of 2002. Still very vigorous in his early 70s, Tompkins has been
sailing longer than most people live. He was born aboard the
Elbe River (Germany) pilot schooner Wander Bird, which
was built in the late 1800s, and it is from her that he picked
up his nickname. When giving a tour of the schooner to a friend,
his parents slid open a drawer - with the baby Warwick in it
- to show him off. "Well, this must be the little commodore!"
exclaimed the visitor. The nickname stuck. Tompkins has seen
and done it all on the world's oceans - there's even movie footage
of him and his sister happily playing on a swing on the deck
of Wander Bird while the big schooner is being pounded
by heavy seas off Cape Horn. Throughout his sailing career, Commodore
has delighted in ruffling feathers and battling conventional
wisdom. And being devious! "I sailed with him from San Diego
to Cabo once with a music-loving crew," says one woman who
prefers to remain anonymous. "But after the first day, the
stereo went out. We all thought it was broken, but later discovered
that Commodore, under the pretense of fixing the alternator,
had disabled it! He had an obvious motive, too: He wanted us
to listen to him read his favorite verse rather than to U2. We
were so mad when we found out! I love Commodore - but I'm sure
glad there is nobody else like him."
By the way, all of Commodore and Nancy's friends are invited
to the Richmond YC at 11 a.m. on October 16 for the launching
of their Wylie-designed Taxi Dancer, the tender Commodore
built for Flash Girl. "Libations will be provided,"
the note reads, followed by the 'Commodore-ly' remark, "in
appropriate quantity." In other words, it's BYOB!
While at Catalina Island a few weeks ago, we noticed a 26-foot
powerboat with not one, but two, little Honda gensets on the
'back porch'. Why such a little boat would need two of them is
beyond us. But why cruisers on larger boats would carry one makes
a lot of sense. While on the way to Santa Cruz Island a short
time later, we experienced a temporarily unknown charging problem
- a wire came off the alternator - and guest David Crowe suggested
that if there really was a problem with the alternator, all we
had to do was get a shorepower cord with the proper plug to fit
into our Honda genset. "It would be as though you were plugged
into shorepower," he said, "and would charge your batteries
much faster than the genset's 'trickle charge' capability."
So we purchased a short shorepower cord with the appropriate
plug for $50 as soon as we got to shore, and feel much better
about having a double redundancy - we also carry a spare alternator.
By the way, most folks recommend the 2000 watt model genset rather
than the 1000, because you get a whole lot more power for just
a little more money.
More on confused regulations in Mexico: "The deal here at
Puerto Escondido in Baja is very odd," report Mike and Lindsey
of La Otra, type of boat and hailing port unknown. "Fonatur,
the Mexican tourism development agency, set all the mooring balls
in place and claimed they would be charging for their use. But
so far nobody has monitored the use of the moorings or collected
fees. Somebody did collect for garbage pick-up and car parking
for a while, but he seems to have gone away. From what we can
tell, there are only about a dozen boats occupied full time here
right now. Some boats are still on their own hooks, and others
are on private moorings. All in all, Puerto Escondido seems to
be much cleaner and have fewer derelict boats than before, so
we're enjoying ourselves. Except for the chubascos and hurricane
threats, we've actually had some very nice weather. There's not
much wind for sailing, of course, but that's to be expected in
the summer. We had a beautiful week out at the Ballandra anchorage
at Isla Carmen before coming back in to Escondido."
"We're still here at Puerto Escondido," report Jack
Jandreau and Leanne Lawrence of the Portland-based Willard 8-ton
Stealaway. "Last night we had our first chubasco,
but we were fairly comfortable as we were tied up to one of Fonatur's
new moorings. Thirty minutes into the storm, I was able to divert
all the rainwater into our water tanks, which filled in short
order. But it rained so heavily that at one point our dinghy
was in danger of sinking! I had to bail it with a bucket. All
things considered, it's very comfortable here in Puerto Escondido,
and everyone is quite friendly. Just this afternoon another boater
brought over two nice sea bass for us. I filleted them and Leanne
is making Pescado a la Veracruzana tonight! For those who don't
know, we first sailed Stealaway from Portland to Mexico
in the fall of '89, and kept her there until '97. At that time
we decided to accept a two-year work project in the States that
would allow us to bring Stealaway back to the States for
a total refit. It ultimately took us years to pay for the two-year
refit, but that's another story. We sailed Stealaway back
to Mexico in January of '03. Having been gone for seven years,
the biggest change we noticed was that the standard of living
had gone up. Now you see nicer and more expensive cars, as well
as busy Wal-Marts and Sam's Clubs. The prices have gone up in
the grocery stores and in restaurants, but you can still find
those wonderful taco stands and smaller restaurants that are
less expensive. If you eat like a local - tortillas, beans, and
rice, plus certain vegetables and fruits - you can live pretty
inexpensively. We love Mexico and plan to stick around for a
"When we realized how many current cruisers were planning
to be in the San Francisco Bay Area this August to escape the
hottest part of summer in the Sea of Cortez and/or the rainy
season in Central America, it was obvious there should be a party,"
report Jimmie Zinn and Jane Hanawalt of the Richmond-based Morgan
38 Dry Martini. "So Joe and Jacque of Marna Lynn
graciously offered the hospitality of their home in Alameda and,
on August 28, a total of 26 cruisers representing 13 boats assembled
for a dry land raft-up. As all cruisers know, it only takes a
short time back home before your old friends and relatives are
bored to death by your pictures and stories, so you start looking
around for other cruisers to find someone who will listen to
your tales of adventure with real interest. Most of those attending
the party have left their boats in paradise and will be
returning to continue cruising when the weather moderates in
the early fall. Those attending were Les and Diane of Gemini
in Panama; Helmut and Mary of Lady B in El Salvador; Lisa
and Dennis of Lady Galadrial in Costa Rica; Joe and Jacque
of Marna Lynn in Costa Rica; Cheryl and Bob of New
Passage in Ecuador; Jimmie & Jane of Dry Martini
in Mexico; John and Linda of Patches in Mexico; and Sue
and Jake of Sipapu in Costa Rica. Also attending were
a few who have recently returned from the cruising life, including
Merry and Dave of Air Ops of Redwood City; Dwight and
Donna of In the Mood of Long Beach; Karen, Bill and Joe
of Miela of Emery Cove; Greg and Mikki of Mikelali
of San Diego, and Cynthia and Dave of Reaching Deep of
San Diego. Both Reaching Deep and Miela will be
heading south this fall, with Cynthia and Dave resuming their
cruise that was interrupted by Hurricane Marty last year. Karen
and Bill of Miela are eagerly awaiting this years Ha-Ha
to begin their cruising adventure.
While on a mooring at Descanso Bay in August, John and Teresa
Conrad of the San Diego-based Cheoy Lee Clipper 36 Morningstar
came by Profligate to report they are distributors for
some special foods that might be of interest to cruisers. "We
sell unrefrigerated eggs, sterilized long-life milk, smoked meats
and sausages, canned meats, canned cheese, canned butter, and
fresh dry goods to long-range fishing boats and cruisers departing
San Diego. Our eggs last four to six weeks if you turn them every
three days and don't refrigerate them. Our canned beef and canned
ham have nothing but water and salt."
Could this be the last time? Our friend Blair Grinols of the
much-travelled Vallejo-based 46-ft Capricorn Cat reports
that his wife Joan, after supporting nearly a decade of his gallivanting
all over the Pacific with his beloved cat, and often joining
him, is asking him to rein in his cruising. So while they'll
be sailing to Mexico again this winter, it could be the last
time, for Blair says he may put his cat up for sale. Frankly,
we're not going to believe that until we see it. Blair has a
million things he likes to do, but we can't imagine him without
Earlier in Changes, we reported that Doug Tiffany lost
his boat Water Witch at Isla Carmen during a chubasco.
Just before we went to press, he advised us that he's eager to
continue sailing, and therefore would like to find a job as a
skipper or a shipwright on a wooden boat. So if anybody could
use a man with more than 20 years of professional shipwright
experience, contact Tiffany by .
When we anchored on the side of the reef off Two Harbors, Catalina,
in September, who showed up about an hour later to drop the hook
right behind us? Bruce Balan, formerly of Palo Alto, aboard his
Cross 45 trimaran Migration. After doing the '99 Ha-Ha,
Balan cruised Mexico for a couple of years, then came home and
got divorced. For the last several years, he's somehow managed
to live aboard in Southern California without a permament slip,
yet still work a regular day job in the software industry. It's
involved a lot of moving around between guest slips. But come
this spring, that will be all over. He'll be headed back to Mexico
and beyond to live the full-time cruising life, continuing to
support himself by writing children's books.
"Bill Barnes, former cruiser aboard the Morro Bay-based
Flicka 20 Motu has passed away at age 53," reports
Paul Dunn of the Morro Bay YC-based Windspell. Barnes
learned to sail while living on the Big Island in the early '70s.
When he moved to Morro Bay later in that decade, he noticed a
neglected Flicka 20 on a mooring in the harbor, contacted the
owner, and bought her. From '95-'98, he mostly singlehanded Motu
from Morro Bay to Puerto Vallarta. He became a fixture in the
anchorages at La Cruz and Punta Mita, where he'd surf until his
arms gave out. Bill died in a spiritual way - he had a massive
heart attack while surfing his Wave-Ski at The Rock in Morro
Bay on Labor Day. Bill was an inspiration to all of us down here,
and we will miss him dearly."
There's similar sad news from Ralph Neeley of the Reno and Fiji-based
45-ft sloop Neeleen, "My wife, Kathleen Burke Neeley,
passed away September 14 at age 67 at Carson Tahoe Hospital after
a short illness." Although Kathleen was confined to a wheelchair
from a young age because of polio, she and Ralph sailed out of
the Waikiki YC, then began many years of cruising the Caribbean
and South Pacific. In fact, we can recall bumping into Ralph
and Kathleen at Antigua one year, Trinidad the next, and other
places later on. That Kathleen was able to cruise while confined
to a wheelchair is an incredible tribute to her - and to Ralph!
We also regret to report the passing of Lex Peterson, Commodore
of the Vancouver, B.C.-based Bluewater Cruising Association,
and owner of the Coast 34 Rosebud. We met Lex in Mexico
during the Zihua Sail Fest last year, and in May he and his wife
Tina joined us for Profligate's rollicking 1,200-mile
passage from Antigua to Panama. A few weeks later, Lex was diagnosed
with cancer. "I've been stunned by the speed with which
one's life can change," he wrote, "and how it has drawn
those close to me into those changes. Live your life today!"
Lex passed away on August 30, several weeks short of his 47th
"From time to time, I've read Letters
or Changes from people who have sailed to New Zealand
or Australia, and who subsequently found both work and housing,"
writes Tony Bressi. "I would like to hear from any and all
cruisers who have reached and remained in either New Zealand
or Australia for more than just a few months. By the way, who
remembers the '60s television show called Adventures In Paradise
starring Gardner MacKay? That's what got me started dreaming
about sailing. But now it's Latitude's 'go now' mantra
that's got me going!"
We'll see what we hear back from readers, Tony, but many cruisers
make it to New Zealand and Australia, and lots of them stay for
a long time or even never come back. If we're not mistaken, a
couple of folks from the first Ha-Ha in '94 continued on to New
Zealand are still living and working there. In theory, it's a
bit of a problem to legally get a job in those countries, but
lots of Americans seem to find a way to manage it. If you've
got a chunk of money set aside, you can still buy great oceanfront
property for a fraction of what it costs in the States. The problem
is that the wages are comparatively low in those countries, so
it's hard to earn enough money working there to buy such property.
Speaking of New Zealand, we just received the following letter
from Don Engle of the East Bay, whose enormous 70-ft catamaran
My Way is finally - really - nearing completion: "I
was re-reading Dr. Zhivago on the plane back from New
Zealand, and several times Zhivago's father was described as
a 'profligate'. Since I also had a copy of Latitude with
me, I thought of Latitude's cat. Having read about Profligate's
many adventures, I can't wait to get back on the water. The drama
at the yard that is building my boat seems to have backed off,
so although the launch date has yet again been moved back - this
time to September 10 - things seem to be going better. At least
the workmanship continues to be superb - if not over the top!
In my last boat, a Hunter, all of the water and fuel lines and
fittings were of plastic or aluminum. On My Way, they're
all made of welded stainless steel, with all connections tested
and polished to a mirror shine. When I saw all of the stainless
in the engine room, my mouth dropped! In any event, we hope to
have all the systems working and checked out by the third week
of October, at which time we can do some sailing. Since typhoon
season in the South Pacific begins in early November, heading
north to Fiji or Tonga will be out of the question. We'll probably
sail to Australia in November, do some exploring there, then
come back to New Zealand in February or so. We'll keep My
Way there until May, when we can sail up to the South Pacific.
I want five or six crew on the crossings, and have two committed
so far. The Tasman Sea can be rough, so we'd only want experienced
people. But the coastal sailing in Australia and New Zealand
should be much tamer. All things equal, I'd prefer couples, but will consider all,
as I'm looking to build up a list of potential crew. All I ask
is that people pay their own way to get to the boat and be good
crew rather than jerks. There will be two paid crew. People interested
Is Engle's incredible offer - crew on a brand new, superb quality,
70-ft catamaran, with two paid crew, and not have to chip in
for expenses? We called him up to make sure, and he said 'yes'.
"It worked for me with my previous boat in Mexico, so why
not for this one also?"
On that sparkling note, we'll say 'welcome to the winter cruising
season of 2004!'