With reports this month from
Esprit at Bora Bora; from Mark Denebiem
on a 40-day 'walkabout' in the Caribbean aboard Pisang
Goreng; from Convergence on troubles
trying to leave New Zealand; from Viva
on heading west because it's no longer safe in Venezuela; from
Cadence on small cat cruising from
Japan to the Philippines; and lots of Cruise
Esprit - Kelly-Peterson 46
The McWilliam Family
Greetings from Bora Bora! Even though it's a gray and rainy day
because a cold front is passing through, this is nonetheless
the most beautiful island in the Societies! The water color ranges
from a purplish blue to turquoise, and often times it gives the
bottoms of the low clouds a luminous blue-green tint.
Chay and Jamie went for a scuba dive in the lagoon with Robert
of Lawur. They actually didn't see Jamie that much because
he was making a sandcastle - 20 feet below on the bottom! Lawur
is another 'kid boat' that we've hooked up with on our cruise.
We've shared many fun dinners and great conversations with them,
and the boys have had a ball together - including three sleepovers.
Lawur has a cat, and before long Jamie discovered that
he is allergic to them. We give him Benadryl when he goes to
Lawur for any amount of time, and he's been fine.
We spent a few days at Tahaa before coming to Bora Bora, and
while there picked up a mooring at the Taravana YC so we could
enjoy a nice dinner with a few of the other cruisers at the 'yacht
club' restaurant. The owner of the yacht club had sailed to Tahaa
aboard a 28-ft sailboat in '72 - and has never left. The forecast
was for a front to come through while we were there, so we moved
to another anchorage for better protection. The seas were calmer
in the new location, but we did a lot of swinging on the hook
when the gusts came through. In fact, we did so much swinging
that we wrapped the chain around a coral head, and it ultimately
took 45 minutes of maneuvering to get free. At least we didn't
have to dive on it. Of course, our son Jamie didn't think it
would have been a problem, as he said dad could dive on it, mom
could steer the boat, and he could operate the anchor windlass.
He's such a trooper!
Chay has been diligently working to repair the autopilot. His
first fix failed in very rough seas on the way to Bora Bora,
so he's attempting a more robust repair. Hopefully, it will get
us to Tonga.
Once we did get to Bora Bora, we picked up a mooring at Bloody
Mary's restaurant, where we had dinner 13 years before on our
honeymoon. We had dinner there again, and were pleased to see
that some of the same employees were still there. Later we took
our dinghy over to the Hotel Bora Bora, where we'd stayed on
our honeymoon, and had lunch to prematurely celebrate Katie's
birthday. It was fun to reminisce. After lunch we moved again,
picking up a mooring at the Bora Bora YC, where we are now trying
to stay dry in anticipation of our next leg - 1,200 miles to
- the mcwilliams 09/15/06
Pisang Goreng - Oceanis 411
The Caribbean Walkabout
After 25 years, I was finally going back - back to the islands
of paradise, the memories of which were still vivid in my mind
after all those years.
My relationship with the Caribbean started in '79 when I graduated
from college, earned my captain's license and scuba certification,
and set off on a 'Sailor's Walkabout' with my life savings -
which consisted of $1,000. I began by flying from San Francisco,
my hometown and sailing backyard, to Florida in order to participate
in the International Windsurfing Championships. I didn't win,
but I did meet a nice Swiss girl, and after three weeks was working
and living in the Ross Yacht Yard because I'd already spent half
my money. Then I hitched a ride to the British Virgins aboard
a new Morgan 46, arriving after 14 uncharacteristically calm
My original plan back then was to take a year off from work to
sail the Caribbean, then return to 'real life' in California.
I ended up doing a three-year Walkabout as a first mate, then
charter and delivery skipper, and finally race crew out of ports
in the Virgin Islands, Antigua, and Newport, Rhode Island. This
included full-time work aboard Nirvana, the 1950 Alden-designed
Hinckley 65, and the Swan 57 ketch Mariah. It also included
a dozen deliveries from the East Coast to the Caribbean, a New
York YC cruise, and three Antigua Sailing Weeks. Those were simply
the best three years of my life!
Having subsequently joined the real world and become a swimming
pool designer, in '06 I decided that I would do a modern version
of that original Caribbean Walkabout - 40 days and 40 nights
aboard 'Captain Mark's Ark', from Anguilla to Dominica. Thanks
to being an independent businessman, I am frequently able to
take time off for sailing vacations, but Walkabout II was the
longest. My ambitious and lengthy vacation started from Oyster
Pond, St. Martin on May 26, when I picked up the Oceanis 411
Pisang Goreng. It ended 600 miles later on July 5. Most
of the time I sailed with various friends, but some of the time
I sailed solo.
Most people sail the Caribbean in the winter, but in my opinion
the May to mid-July shoulder season is the best. There are a
number of reasons: the trades are more moderate, the seas smaller,
the anchorages less crowded, the airlines less booked, and the
charterboat rates as much as 30% less. Even Customs and Immigration
officials seem more relaxed. It's true that some restaurants
and other businesses close for the summer, but there are still
enough others to have a great time.
Why do I always end up with poorly named boats? Pisang Goreng
is Indonesian for Bananas Flambe. Last year I chartered Arytenoid,
which I believe means something having to do with rectal surgery.
Another time I had a boat called Fruitcake. Try saying
any of these names over the VHF and you'll understand the problem.
Because of the furling main and jib, Pisang would only
tack in 90-100 degrees. But thanks to the predominant ESE trades
of summer, we had reaching conditions almost all of the time.
The wind was a perfect and steady 16-24 knots, day and night,
for the first four weeks. It dropped to 13 to 18 knots for the
final two weeks, which were at the start of the rainy season.
The evening winds were wonderful because they made it bearable
to sleep below.
The winds in the channels between the islands were often stronger,
of course. It was common to have a steady 25 knots with gusts
to 30. Pisang would reach along at 6.5 to 8 knots. Reefing
the jib to 85% and the main to 75% when the wind blew over 22
knots made a dramatic difference in the way the boat handled
and in the crew comfort. In the lee of some islands - especially
Guadeloupe, St. Kitts, Anguilla and Antigua - the wind would
wrap around the southern point and provide smooth downwind sailing
in 15 knots with totally flat seas. During those times we'd turn
on the autopilot and sit on the bow with our books and cold drinks!
I began each day with an early morning swim, not only to clear
the pipes and my rum and wine-fogged head, but to check the anchor
and nearby reefs. While clearing my system at Sandy Ground, Anguilla,
I noticed two four-foot sand sharks circling me with some enthusiasm.
When they attacked the 'logs' not more than three feet from my
butt, I scurried back to the boat. They really had 'scared the
crap out of me'.
Some days my guests and I would snorkel in three different places.
I always dove on my anchor to make sure it wasn't fouled. Twice
I had to pull myself down 50 meters of chain into murky water
to make sure the hook was set, but it allowed me to sleep soundly.
Just to be sure, I would check my neighbor's anchors as well.
Twice I had to inform other skippers that their hooks were fouled.
The only time I had to clear my hook was at Anse de Barc, Guadeloupe.
In fact, I had to clear it in 35 feet of water, where it was
hooked on two large fisherman type anchors that had apparently
been resting on the bottom for many years.
My favorite places to snorkel were: Anguilla's Little Bay, where
ours was the only boat on the moorings, and Prickly Pear Island,
which had just average snorkeling but was surrounded by a postcard
perfect lagoon with a smooth white sand beach. Off Guadeloupe,
we liked Pigeon Island, a Jacques Cousteau marine park with blue
water and crystal clear visibility. On the north side of the
little island is a 50-ft wall for snorkeling, and on the south
side, a 15-ft wall. We saw octopus, sea snakes, flounder and
schools of various size fish. When off Isle des Saintes, I liked
to anchor off Pain de Sucre and to enjoy amazing shallow water
snorkeling among eel, turtle, and many colorful fish. There's
a small private beach there, too. I like Antigua's Deep Bay,
which has a 100-foot wreck poking above the surface but resting
in just 20 feet of water. If you go to Nevis, you don't want
to miss Tamarind Bay, where the north side around to Oualie Bay
is rich with turtle, lobster, octopus and hundreds of black spiny
sea urchins and conch shells. White House Bay, St. Kitts, has
a small wreck in 10 feet of water - although when we were there
the visibility was below average. We also had poor visibility
off Dominica, except for one superb day at Cabrits.
We jokingly called for whales two miles north of Dominica - and
minutes later were rewarded with the sight of two pilot whales
calmly swimming toward our port beam. We saw dolphin at a number
of other places and, while ashore at Nevis, saw two of the island's
40,000 monkeys while climbing around the Golden Rock Hotel.
The most spectacular sights on land were at Dominica, where there
are red rock dunes above a rocky coast. And there were romantic
waterfalls, such as the Emerald Pool, in the middle of rainforests.
Nevis was also gorgeous, with the capital of Charlestown being
particularly picturesque. Anguilla has the best beaches, but
no real vegetation. Antigua has the most places to anchor, our
favorites being Green Island and Nonsuch Bay. At Pointe Noir,
Guadeloupe, we liked the slanted Acomat waterfall. You climb
sheer rock walls and then jump into the 11-ft deep fresh water
pool. Deshaises, also on Guadeloupe, has an amazing botanical
garden. According to some guests, the horseback riding on St.
Kitts is "the best ever". St. Kitts also has a fun
bar scene at Frigate Bay - the Shiggedy Shack rocks! - and had
the best named bays. This would include White House Bay, with
not a single house of any color in sight, Bug's Hole Bay and
We had a wild time on May 30 on Anguilla, as it was Anguilla
Day, a reverse independence day that celebrates the fact that
Anguilla retained English protectorate status in 1969 rather
than joining a coalition with Nevis and St. Kitts. Almost all
the island's 12,000 residents gathered on the beach at Sandy
Ground to party and watch the annual around-the-island boat race.
There was also a MacGregor 26 anchored in the shallows, and several
local bikini models who loved to pose around it for my camera.
Girls Gone Anguilla! The party lasted all day, and we were among
the last to leave the beach later that night.
The Anguillan racing boats are 28-ft traditional wood open skiffs,
with 59-ft masts and a 39-ft booms! The ballast consists of 100-lb
iron bars that are carried to the weather side on each tack,
and 100-lb bags of sand that are emptied into the ocean as the
wind decreases. The jib tracks for these boats are nailed rather
than screwed into a short plank that is also nailed to the exposed
stringers. De Tree, the winner of the around-the-island
race, finished in seven hours. During the beach party later on,
the crew carried six-foot-long branches to emphasize their bragging
rights over the 14 other entries.
All of the sailing was good during the Walkabout, but some was
excellent. For example, the 32-mile beam to broad reach from
St. Barth to Anguilla, which takes you past many islands named
for food - Beef, Bakery, Fork, Table, and so forth. Then you
pass St. Martin, and go wing-and-wing up the coast for a view
of the fancy resorts such as Cap Juluca, CuizinArt, Covecastles
and Altamer. After rounding Anguilla to starboard, you beat in
flat water to either Sandy Island or Road Harbor. The 30 miles
from St. Barth to Statia was another very fast and smooth broad
reach. Sailing behind Guadeloupe in flat water was fast and fun,
and all of the channel crossings - between 20 and 46 miles in
length - were a blast. The downwind run from English Harbor,
around Cades Reef, to Deep Bay was awesome. Normally I would
have avoided the Nevis to Antigua upwind bash by heading southeast
to Montserrat first, but the volcano had erupted again the week
before, so the air was still full of ash.
The only thing I hate about cruising with refrigeration is that
you have to run the engine one hour twice a day - although the
checkout guide suggests three times a day! To alleviate the agony
of having to hear from the nonetheless reliable Yanmar 56-hp
diesel, I would try to run it while we were off snorkeling or
on the beach. But food and cold beer are important, so I focused
on provisioning every five to seven days. I did this for several
reasons: 1) Food really doesn't last much longer than that in
a compressor-driven ice box - especially in the tropics; 2) Part
of the cruising experience is to try the unique foods and drinks
on each island, from French to English to Dutch to Creole; and
3) You tend to eat ashore more often than you plan when shopping.
Here are some of the restaurants we enjoyed the most: Anguilla
- Oliver's Seaside Grill, and Bananas. St. Martin - California
Restaurant in Grand Case, a town of many nice restaurants; Calmos
Café, on the beach in Grand Case; and the Sunset Beach
Grill, next to the busy Queen Juliana Airport, for the best $6
hamburgers in the Caribbean. Nevis - Sunshine's Restaurant next
to the Four Seasons. St. Kitts - La Cucina at the Marriott Hotel
for Italian, and the Shiggedy Shack at Frigate Bay for the lobster
and the fish sandwich. Dominica - The Blue Bay Restaurant in
Prince Rupert Bay for inexpensive local food like goat stew.
Guadeloupe - the last place on the left of the bay in Deshaises,
where the whole fish was superb. St. Barths - Le Select is still
the only place on the island where you can get $3 beers and $6
hamburgers. Antigua - Life Restaurant in English Harbor, where
they serve fresh food right over the water.
As I returned Pisang Goreng at the end of the 40 days,
I reflected on how well she'd taken care of us, and how much
more familiar she'd become to us with each passing day. As I
gently eased her alongside the concrete dock for the last time,
I thought about all the boats I had sailed with my dad. And especially
about the time when, as a teenager, I'd taken the 'big boat'
- his Cheoy Lee Clipper 36 ketch - out sailing without his permission,
something he didn't find out about until weeks later. But he
always told me, "Always practice true seamanship and your
vessels will honor you as a true sailor. And they will get you
home safely, because they are your home."
The most profound thing that I can say about my most recent sailing
Walkabout is that we didn't spend a lot of time reflecting on
life, but rather living it. We didn't seek paradise, we lived
in it. We didn't wish things would get better, because they were
already great. And when we returned to the stress of the modern
world back home, we could face it with renewed vigor and quiet
confidence because we knew a special secret - there's a heaven
on earth, and it's aboard a sailboat in the Caribbean.
- mark 07/15/06
Convergence - Wylie 65 Cat Ketch
Randy & Sally Christine Repass
Raining Harken Balls
Even in the best weather conditions, a mid-winter passage from
New Zealand to Tonga can be a slog. And last June several boats
in a cruising rally got into trouble when they were caught in
a 'squash zone'. Although most everyone was rescued, the father
and son crew on one boat were tragically never found.
A squash zone brings to mind images of being pelted with pumpkins!
In meteorological terms, however, it's when a high pressure system
collides with a low pressure system. The results are unforgiving
reinforced winds and monster seas. We met a Canadian family,
including four kids, who took shelter from this storm at Minerva
Reef, a mid-ocean atoll that, despite being awash at high water,
offers fairly smooth water in a storm. They rode out sustained
winds of 70 knots, which is not my idea of fun.
This year Convergence wintered in the West Park Marina
in West Auckland to undergo completion of Randy's 'Hundred Project
List' resulting from our two-year 'shakedown cruise' from Santa
Cruz to New Zealand. Randy managed the progress with numerous
emails, phone calls, and a personal inspection trip in March.
As with all project lists on boats, there are the big items -
such as beefed up alternators, reinforced wishbone booms, and
getting the bottom painted. And there are smaller items - such
as fixing drawer pulls, putting in new window shades, adding
nonskid to the cabin sole, and so forth. Needless to say, we
made a significant contribution to the New Zealand economy.
Most of the boat work was performed by Pauline and Dave Pringle's
Smuggler Marine in Henderson, who called in subcontractors as
needed. The New Zealand workers were thorough, and their work
- with a few minor exceptions - was superb. It might have something
to do with the fact that that country has a formal apprentice
program for boat workers. In any event, the work was completed
on time and the cost was reasonable. We can recommend Smuggler
Randy and I exchanged love letters via email while he waited
for a weather window to the South Pacific. Prior to departure,
there was 30 knots of wind in the Hauraki Gulf, with rain and
freezing temperatures. It was time for the tropics! The crew
for the passage included my brother Joseph Rodgers, a marine
surveyor, and two friends that Randy and I met while cruising.
They are Kiwi Mark Edwards, who used to be a rigger, and Aussie
Peter Cook, who drives ferries in Tasmania. Aussies and Kiwis
love to hate each other, and are always ready with degrading
comments about the other's nationality. The fact that Australia
was settled by convicts gives the Kiwis plenty of fodder, while
the Aussies respond with nonstop off-color barbs about Kiwis
and sheep. Peter and Mark maintained a good-natured, below-the-belt
verbal assault on each other for the duration of the passage.
With the provisions stowed and the crew aboard, Convergence
cleared Customs on June 25 - after which the troubles began.
When the crew raised the sail that morning, a misaligned sail
track caused the 40 ball bearings in the headboard car to fall
to the deck. "It was raining Harken balls," reported
Knowing they didn't have enough replacement balls aboard to fix
the problem, Convergence checked back into New Zealand.
Despite having just left, they were required to file new paperwork.
Customs filled in 'Tonga' as their last port of departure. "Convergence
is now on record for the single fastest round-trip passage from
New Zealand to Tonga and back - one hour!" Randy mused.
As chance would have it, Convergence was intercepted by
Dave Pringle, who was out with his kids for a test drive aboard
Smuggler, one of his company's new hard-bottom inflatables.
Dave gave Randy the name and phone number of the Harken rep,
who, it being Sunday, was home with friends watching a rugby
match. He graciously agreed to replenish the missing balls.
Being careful not to lose their new balls, the Convergence
crew checked out of Customs for a second time, and were soon
on their way, passing by the Rangitoto Lighthouse. When checking
out with Customs, the officials had made it very clear that they
were not allowed to anchor, tie to a dock, or have physical contact
with another vessel in New Zealand waters. But then Pringle showed
up in Smuggler again, and was happy to take the crew's
cameras to get some shots of Convergence underway. It
would have made quite a headline: Smuggler Seen Illegally
Passing Small Black Bags To Sailing Vessel Convergence
While Departing Auckland.
The wind lightened as evening approached, so Randy started the
motor. Here's how he described what happened: "I went below
to check the engine, and noticed there were no belts around the
alternator pullies - meaning the house batteries weren't getting
a charge. Then I noticed that the drive pulley for the alternators
- which should have been connected to the drive shaft - was lying
in the bilge along with five sheared off bolts that were supposed
to have held it in place!" Unable to complete the passage
without house batteries, they called the guy who had beefed up
the alternator brackets to organize a repair, and once again
returned to New Zealand Customs. And once again they checked
in "from Tonga".
By the following afternoon the repair had been completed, and
Convergence returned to the Customs Dock for a third time!
As always, the Customs officials were professional, easy to work
with, and very efficient. And by this time they were all but
close personal friends. The third check-out proved to be a charm,
and Convergence finally completed her 1,100-mile passage
to Tonga. During the passage there was either too little wind
and/or wind from the wrong direction, necessitating two days
of motorsailing. Then there was 40+ knots of wind from 150 degrees
off the bow, which had Convergence surfing at over 20
knots - with three reefs! They also had a couple of days of great
off-the-wind sailing, completing the passage in 5 days, 5 hours.
- sally christine /07/15/06
Viva - Grand Soleil 39
Steve & Pam Jost
As some readers may recall, we became embroiled in two major
repair/maintenance projects after returning to our boat in Puerto
La Cruz, Venezuela, last October - overhauling the engine and
removing our 20-year-old teak decks. The engine had been overhauled
in our absence as planned, but hadn't been put back into the
boat because the mechanic had accepted a position aboard a large
yacht on the East Coast! After a few weeks we found another mechanic
to install the engine. Once that was done and we'd launched our
boat, we were ready for our next adventure.
After six years in the tropics, the teak decks on our 20-year-old
boat were looking pretty sad. We decided to replace them with
fiberglass decks, which are definitely cooler, cleaner, and much
less expensive. We found a great Venezuelan contractor to do
the job, but since all of the boatyards in the area were full,
we had to complete the job in the water. This required us to
move the boat to several different locations, which wasn't fun
because we were still living aboard. But our guy did a great
job, and now Viva looks better than new.
But we got some bad news when we discovered that our newly overhauled
engine was losing power and had low oil pressure. Fortunately,
Robert, our original mechanic, was returning to Puerto la Cruz
and vowed to correct the problem without charge. Unfortunately,
this meant having to lift the engine off her mounts again - and
right after we'd varnished the entire interior. Pam wasn't a
happy camper. We finally decided to leave Robert to do his thing
while we took off on an air and land trip to Argentina.
We spent our first week at Buenos Aires, which is one of the
most vibrant, cultured, and entertaining cities we've visited
in years. We enjoyed great food and wines, exciting nightlife,
and more tango than we could ever imagine. And all at incredibly
low prices. For example, at the Cafe Tortioni, a great old European-style
cafe that was built in the 1800's, we could have a couple of
glasses of wine and a light snack for $10. Argentina is known
for its beef, and we found some great parilla (BBQ) restaurants
in every part of the city. After the cruising lifestyle, it was
a little hard getting used to starting dinner at 9 p.m., but
it didn't take us long to adapt.
We then flew 1,500 miles to Bariloche in the lake district of
Patagonia at the foot of the Andes. It was like being in the
German and Swiss Alps. We rented a car for a leisurely drive
around the lakes, which included a stop for a cable car
ride to a beautiful lookout in the Nahuel Huapi Nacional Park.
From there we took a bus to Angostura, another delightful little
lakeside town, before continuing on to San Martin del Andes,
a ski resort on a lake. That whole town looks like an Alpine
village, with wooden buildings surrounded by rose and flower
gardens. What a great area for hiking, sightseeing and eating.
We opted for a super cama - or sleeper - bus for the 1,500-mile
trip back to Buenos Aires. The bus featured fold-down seating,
hot meals, and wine! It was a very comfortable alternative to
After more time in Buenos Aires, and a visit to the famous La
Bamba Estancia, one of the most famous ranches in Argentina,
we returned to our boat in Puerto La Cruz. Robert had solved
our engine problems, so it was finally time for us to head west.
Unfortunately, the security situation in Venezuela has deteriorated
badly over the past year, with boardings and thefts having
become more common at all of the nearby coastal islands and anchorages
that we had once enjoyed. We have always been aware of the thefts
of unsecured outboards and occasional robberies, but it's gotten
much worse. Thieves are now well-armed with handguns and shotguns
instead of knives and rusty machetes. And the crimes are no longer
mere heists of dinghies, but overpowering cruisers with guns
and stripping the boats of all that the thieves can carry.
We feel very fortunate to have seen the best of Venezuela, with
its pristine coastal anchorages and offshore islands, and even
inland spots, over the last six years. We've also had some great
boatwork done, and met some wonderful locals who became good
friends. And it will be hard to forget paying 8 cents/gallon
for diesel, $9 for a litre of good scotch, and $3 for a case
of beer. But it's time to say adios to Venezuela.
- steve & pam 08/15/06
Readers - You'll recall that in the
last issue John Anderton of Alameda reported that, after five
summers in Trinidad, he felt the crime had become intolerable
in that country. Unfortunately, Trinidad and Venezuela have been
the primary two places for Eastern Caribbean boats to go in the
summer to avoid hurricanes.
Cadence - Apache 40 Cat
Guam To The Philippines
We - John, Pegi, Angel, and I - dropped the hook off the Marianas
YC on the morning of January 16 after a rough seven-day sail
from Hahajima, Japan. We spent the morning clearing in with Customs
and Immigration, then found a reasonably priced hotel. Although
all of us were very much still sleep deprived, we nonetheless
gathered for dinner at a restaurant known for its large portions
of food and beer. Lots of beer. Brother John dozed off on the
ride back to the hotel. In the parking lot, he swayed noticeably
as large imaginary seas swept through the area. With a firm grip
on the door handle, he turned to his wife Pegi and said, "You
should go below, dear, you'll be more comfortable." His
brow furrowed deeply as his eye caught a car going by on the
dark street. Grinning to himself, he let the remark stand, hoping
that nobody would notice. No explanation was needed among the
four of us.
We'd gotten our big send-off back in Hahajima from Ray, Fumi,
and Conor, their precocious young son. The three of them had
sailed into the harbor aboard Earenya, their 30-ft cement
boat, during an early December gale and had decided to stay.
Fumi, a Japanese national, got a job the next day and has been
working full-time ever since. Over the holidays, they moved into
a room in a worker's hostel and enrolled Conor in classes. They
also learned that they couldn't legally move Earenya without
complying with Japanese safety regulations. Ultimately, they
gave away the gear they couldn't sell, and made plans for their
boat to be hauled out and broken up. It must have been like the
death of a friend, so I'm glad we didn't have to see it. We dumped
her mast and rigging 25 miles offshore.
That night Fumi cooked up a great meal, and there is no finer
food than Japanese home-cooking. Todd and Geoff, the local English
teachers/surfers, showed up, as did Koki, our introspective Japanese
friend. Back in Tokyo, I had picked up a set of Curious George
books for Conor, and we read one with great interest all around.
I took the time to explain my thoughts on the difference between
a sense of guilt and a sense of shame, a critical point in Japanese
culture and a major theme in the little monkey's life. Unfortunately,
we didn't record what Connor thought of a 52-year-old man with
a mohawk haircut.
The first leg of our passage to the Marianas was an overnight
trip to Hahajima, the sister island to Chichijima. While on the
dock, we met Okada-san, another school teacher, who graciously
lent us his dirt bike to tour the island. There are about 7.5
miles of road - most of it having been built by the Japanese
Imperial Army - which swing through the hills, along cliffs,
and through tunnels. It was an amazing ride through groves of
pandanus, reeds and cypress trees. We stopped to walk to a mushroom
viewing platform - something only the Japanese would build. A
fallen tree had sprouted rusts and fungi, and some may have been
the glow-in-the-dark variety that is unique to these islands.
We also climbed a large piece of artillery that was left over
from the retreat of the Imperial Army in 1945.
The next day, which was cold and gray, we continued on our way
south. Angel saw a whale breach far to the north, but otherwise
we had the ocean to ourselves. Three days and 450 miles later,
we made landfall on the miserable windswept speck of volcanic
debris called Iwo Jima. Mostly flat and treeless, it's only about
four miles long, and sulfuric steam rises from thermal vents
on the shore. The southern point is marked by famous Mt. Suribachi,
a steep cinder cone about seven stories tall. Just 61 years ago,
this was the site of one of the bloodiest battles in history.
Some 72,000 U.S. Marines came ashore through the surf, and killed
nearly all of the 27,000 Japanese defenders, none of whom surrendered.
Today Iwo Jima's black sands are desolate, home to only crabs
and seabirds. We pushed on without stopping.
Our continuing course to Guam was a beam reach, an uncomfortable
point of sail for a catamaran when it's rough. Since we had 'enhanced'
northeast trades, it was indeed rough, with 25 to 30 knots of
wind and 15 to 20-ft seas. We regularly took green water on deck,
resulting in all the bunks getting soaked. Cooking - even making
coffee - was a dangerous chore. We stood three-hour watches through
the nights, and made landfall just after midnight four days later.
So we're here in Guam for a few weeks. Brother John and Pegi
will fly home on Sunday, and as soon as Angel gets a good sun
tan, she'll be returning to Montreal to start college. It will
be a long time until she sees the sun again. That will leave
me here to sort through the rope locker and organize my life.
We pass this way but once.
About my mohawk. Let's just say it's a bar bet that went bad.
For those of you who may be considering getting one, here are
a few observations: First, it will help you gain a new appreciation
for sunscreen. Secondly, in Japan it's called a Mohican. Go figure.
And lastly, you'll get a lot less eye contact when you wear one
into a beach bar. At this point, I'm not sure if that's a totally
Update: My tales of misery and dangerous adventures seemed to
scare away all potential crew at the Marianas YC bar. Except,
that is, for young and intrepid Robin Young, who is a gourmet
cook and who turned out to be a deckhand extraordinaire. Together
we cleaned up the cat and made repairs - including re-attaching
the forestay that had its own adventure on the last night of
our trip from Japan.
Robin and I sailed to Ulithi on Sunday in more enhanced tradewinds.
We motored into the atoll's lagoon and anchored in the lee of
a palm-lined beach on one of the many motus. The colors of the
morning included emerald green trees, white coral sand, electric
blue water, and black Kona coffee.
Cadence had been to Ulithi before - in February of '97,
when George, Ron, Walter and I were aboard. As is the case this
time, we stopped on our way from Guam to the Philippines. I'd
just sold the cat to George after an 18-month adventure from
California by way of New Zealand with my wife Rose and 4-year-old
daughter Constance. I had but $50 to my name when George bailed
me out. Cadence spent several years in the Philippines,
then several more in Japan. When George started having financial
concerns - do you notice a pattern here? - we agreed on terms
for me to buy the cat back. Like an old girlfriend, Cadence
is mine once again, and once again we are bound for the Philippines
and points west.
The particular island we're at now is called Federai, and even
though it's only a mile long and about 100 meters wide, it supports
a village of about 80 people - plus a Peace Corps volunteer.
When we arrived Robin went snorkeling on a nearby reef while
I went ashore to meet the chief. Grady, the Peace Corps guy from
Oklahoma, met me on the beach and walked me over to the chief's
hut for an introduction. Not a man of many words, the chief welcomed
us to his village, and then Grady showed me around. The island
has one main path that is bounded by yards and tidy thatch huts
with raised floors. The yards were bounded by short hedges and
rows of partially buried fishing floats, the product of the beachcomber's
art. These floats are everywhere and more arrive each day. Another
yard decoration I noticed was a pair of Korean War vintage aircraft
drop tanks. I also noticed that orange Norwegian type fenders
were cut up and used as door hinges.
I was introduced to everyone that we passed along the way. There
was Noah, Luke, and Cool - all of whom sported mullet style haircuts,
a la Billy Ray Cyrus. Thinking about it, it's the perfect haircut
for the islands, as it's easy to keep clean and keeps the sun
off the top and back. It's much more sensible than my Mohawk,
which I'm trying to grow out. In addition to the mullet, wraparound
sunglasses and Hawaiian island-boy T-shirts complete the fashionable
homeboy look. I also met Daniel and Nathan. After also meeting
Kissinger and Mitchell, I half expected to meet Milhaus and McNamara.
These islands are all part of the Federated States of Micronesia,
which are administered from Yap. There's a bit of friction here
because Yap has a distinct caste system, and the people on the
outer islands are at the bottom. Further, Ulithians are a distinct
language group of unknown origin, and the several thousand Ultihians
are scattered over the world - with Hawaii and Los Angeles being
home to big communities. All these people are related to a canoe
full of people that arrived here in the darkness of time from
parts unknown. But they assert their identity. I noted the charted
name of the island was different, but was told that it was a
Yapese name that was changed because it loosely translated to
'This could be paradise,' I thought to myself. I asked Grady
what he experienced upon moving into a grass shack on an island
only 10 feet above sea level. He said the first three months
were tough. Then he got into the routine of the island. He teaches
a couple of hours in the morning, then keeps himself busy with
communal projects, fishing, reading, and playing the guitar.
There's lots of time to sit around and talk and it's definitely
low-stress. He's also developed a liking for chewing betel-nut,
a habit that will be hard to continue back in Oklahoma. When
betelnut is not enough, they make a bush brew. We enjoyed some
in the shade of his shack and got a great mid-afternoon buzz
going. At one point, a coconut fell a few feet away with a deadly
thud. Getting bombed by one of these is a hazard of island life.
Fortunately, the coconut gives a distinct snap when it lets go,
and the islanders recognize it. By instinct they'll jump towards
the trunk of the tree, because the coconut never falls there.
Grady also keeps a pet frigate bird that soars in the clouds
during the day, then roosts in the tree behind his shack at night.
Tame as it is, Grady has to keep ahold of its razor-sharp beak
when he handles it.
But the times they are a-changing, even in this remote speck
of land. There is now cell phone service here through a microwave
connection to another island and then via satellite to Yap. One
woman calls her mother in Chuuk every week. And the deadly blue
eye of the DVD monitor can be seen at night through the bush.
On the morning of March 7, Capt. Gary and his partner arrived
at the island aboard the sailboat Starship. We'd planned
to buddyboat down from Guam, but he got delayed on departure
then made a slight detour to pass over the Challenger Deep, the
deepest point of the world's deepest ocean. He tossed a silver
coin over for good luck. Since it's 11,000 meters deep, he figured
it would take six hours to hit the bottom - assuming a fish didn't
get it first.
Besides having gotten older and slower, I've noticed something
else about myself that's different from the last time I was here
- my motivation. Back in '97, I was here as the literary 'Ishmael',
having more time than money, and an urge to see the watery bits
of the world (apologies to Melville). This time I'm here more
as the biblical Ishmael, an exile from my own home. For those
who will understand, I don't need to explain. For my Young Republican
friends, it's not Bush. As Dustin Hoffman said last year when
he relocated to London, "You can't flee Bush." Suffice
it to say, I find the fact that the Voice of America shares a
couple of frequencies with evangelical programming to be disturbing.
Speaking of intelligent design, I'm reminded that Vonnegut once
said human life was just a conspiracy by seawater to transport
itself around. If so, these islands are where it wants to be.
The seawater is clear, warm and teeming with life. And anyone
who has felt a tropical seabreeze knows how sexy that is.
I'm watching the weather now. An out-of-season tropical storm
has brewed up 100 miles south of Palau and is tracking west towards
the Philippines. It shouldn't be a concern. We'll depart for
Yap and Palau tonight after dinner.
- frank 05/07/06
Out of the mouths of babes. "Britta Fjelstrom, who did the
Baja Ha-Ha last year
aboard her San Francisco-based Elite 29 Lonesome Dove,
has a problem," reports her irrepressible friend Eugenie
Russell, who did the Ha-Ha last year aboard the J/120 J/World
and will be doing it aboard the same boat again this year. "Britta
had to leave her boat in Puerto Vallarta over the summer because
the engine died shortly after leaving San Diego last year. She's
bought a new 2-cylinder diesel that weighs the equivalent of
45 gallons of water and is 3 by 3 by 2 feet, and needs to get
it down to her boat in Mexico. We'd take it aboard our J/120
if it weren't a little too big for us. I'm wondering if anybody
with a larger boat could help Britta out? Or maybe have a suggestion
about some other way she might get her engine to Puerto Vallarta.
Britta can be reached by ,
or at (510) 306-4635.
Eugenie ended her request with what we think is a terrific observation:
"It's impossible to remember how tragic a place the world
is when you're out sailing."
Speaking of exurberant women who sail, we got a letter from Florcefida
Benincasa in Las Vegas the other day. If you did the '03 Ha-Ha,
you'll no doubt remember Flo for her joyfully exhibitionist antics
- and maybe even her much quieter husband Jasper. Despite being
novice ocean sailors, the couple did the Ha-Ha and then sailed
their modest Columbia 34MK II Flocerfida all the way across
the Pacific to New Zealand - and had a wonderful time doing it.
We'll have more on their interesting future cruising plans when
we have more room in the next issue, but until then, we'll leave
you with Flo's analysis of their personalities. They would seem
to indicate that a couple with opposite personalities might actually
be able to make it across the ocean:
"Jasper, the Captain, Mr. Cybil, my husband, is constantly
in the extreme. Caliente y frio. Super calm, but a huge
worrier, too. He's loose and he's uptight. He is overcritical,
very rational, passionate, hard-working, goal-driven and highly
adventurous. He has the thirst for life that he tells me only
I can quench! But he's also the biggest brat. He makes me laugh,
and he also makes me feel as though I am the Queen of Kingdom
Come. He's also the world's biggest pessimist - but I have forbidden
any form of complaining within a three-mile radius of me. On
the other hand, I, Flo, the Admiral, am an optimist. I consider
everything a blessing. I'm generally calm, cautious, highly adventurous,
a hard worker, and an anal organizer. However, I can also be
erratically hormonal and constantly defiant. Sometimes I wonder
when I'm going to push Jasper's patience too far. But he seems
to have a wealth of it, particularly when it comes to me. I am
also a caffeine addict, but I promise to quit as soon as we depart
It comes as absolutely no surprise that the Atlantic Rally for
Cruisers (ARC), which is both the granddaddy and largest of all
cruising rallies, will have another maximum fleet of 225 boats
for the 2,700-mile rally from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia
in the Eastern Caribbean in November. There will be 17 multihulls
in the fleet. Over the last several years, the ARC tried to get
the bigger, faster, corporate boats out of the ARC and into the
Antigua Rubicon, a transatlantic race at about the same time.
The idea was that they were stealing all the attention from the
cruisers, for whom the ARC is supposedly for. Alas, there was
no interest in the Antigua Rubicon, and both events temporarily
suffered. Glamour boats are now back in the ARC, which will be
lead by Lan Franco Cirillo's Swan 100 Fantasticaaa from
Italy - and yes, that's the correct spelling. Thanks to the weak
dollar, not many Americans bought boats in Europe this year,
so there are only few U.S. entries, all of which we mentioned
a few issues back.
There have been 65 entries received for the 17th Annual West
Marine Caribbean 1500 rally that leaves Hampton, Virginia, on
November 5 for the British Virgins. Organizer Steve Black reports
that six of them are from the West: Bob and Linda Masterson of
the Laguna Beach-based Beneteau 473 Villomee; Charles
Cunningham of the Park City, Utah-based Hylas 54 Agua Dulce;
Mark Burge and Adriana Salazar of the Reno-based Bristol Channel
Cutter Little Hawk; Gregg Kalbfleisch of the Longmonth,
Colorado, Jeanneau 54 DS Kinikkinik; Tom and Diane Might
of the Phoenix-based Hallberg-Rassy 62 Between the Sheets,
and Don and Shawn Fronterhouse of the Albuquerque-based Hylas
46 Mignon. The 65-boat fleet is up about 15 from last
year, and we wish them all wonderful passages to the tropics.
Assuming, of course, that they leave a little rum for the sailors
who won't be getting there until later.
Ambivalent about taking your boat to the tropics in the winter?
We've got two photos that might motivate you. The first is of
Capt. Andy, shoveling snow off the deck of the Gunboat 62 catamaran
Safari in Newport, Rhode Island, early last December.
The second photo, on the next page, is of him 10 days later,
transformed into the mystical Capt. Andy Lama, driving a dinghy
out of the harbor at Gustavia, St. Barth, while wearing his distinctive
saffron robes. "Having tried them both," he told us,
"I've found that warm blue water is more conducive to spiritual
development - and good times - than is frozen white water falling
from the sky." That's what we call real enlightenment. And
so does his wife and first mate, Melissa.
If you're from the West Coast, you may not realize that sailing
from Rhode Island to the Caribbean in December is an entirely
different experience than is sailing from California to tropical
Mexico. The first 24 or 36 hours out of Newport are generally
cold as hell - if not freezing. But then suddenly you're in the
very warm water of the Gulfstream. Twenty feet up it may still
be cold as hell, but near the water it's not bad at all. When
heading south from California, the air isn't that cold, but the
water doesn't get tropical until all the way down at Cabo San
Lucas. It's all about the East Coast having the Gulfstream while
we have the cold Humboldt Current.
"You asked if any of your readers had knowledge about cruising
the western Caribbean," writes David Hammer of the Cozumel
and Weaverville, California-based Catalina 25 Saba Spice.
"Freya Rauscher's Cruising Guide to Belize and Mexico's
Caribbean Coast is very good and has detailed charts. It
doesn't cover all of the western Caribbean, but the east coast
of Mexico and Belize are excellent cruising areas. In particular,
Cozumel and Cancun are great places to provision, and Cancun
has a Sam's Club and a Costco. But I have to warn everyone that
the beachfront hotel area of Cancun is like Las Vegas in Mexico.
Cozumel is more laid back and has great restaurants. It's just
a short taxi ride from the north harbor to town. Some cruisers
drop the hook right in front of the main square, which is
within easy walking distance of the Chedraui supermarket."
If we were 25 again, we'd be all over this one! Geja is
an Islander 36 that Palo Alto-based teachers Dick and Shirley
Sandys sailed most of the way around the world over a period
of about 15 years of part-time cruising. In fact, if you go to
our home page, www.latitude38.com,
and go to the LATITUDE 38 Google box and type in 'Geja',
you'll get to read a bunch of the Changes
in Latitudes they sent to us about their trip. Sadly, Dick
passed away a few months ago, so Geja, which is now on
the hard 90 miles north of Barcelona, Spain, is being offered
in the estate sale for just $10,000. The boat is said to be fully
functional, including the engine, and we know that she was cruised
until a short time before Dick's death. The boat is also said
to be in need of interior and exterior TLC. The cool thing to
us is that the boat is already in Spain. Yes, it's getting a
little late in the season to do much sailing in the Med this
year, but she'd be all ready to go for next year. Just think,
for 10k and a bunch of elbow grease, you might be able to get
a 36-ft design long-proven on the Bay all set to take you to
Ibiza, Mallorca, Barcelona, the French and Italian Rivieras,
Elba, Sicily, Corfu . . . Oops, please excuse us for drooling.
And after a season or three of cruising in the Med, you might
well be able to sell the boat for more than you paid for her.
Say, anybody want to go thirdsies on an Islander 36 in the Med?
For information on Geja, email Shirley. But please, no
tire-kickers or ultra bottom-feeders, as this will be an emotional
sale. But if you're interested, don't delay, as we also mentioned
this in a late September
'Lectronic, and we can't imagine that boat is going to last
long. [Note: As excepted, Geja has been sold already.]
"Singlar has been working very hard in the Puerto Escondido
area," report Hidden Port YC Commodore Elvin Schultz and
Connie 'Sunlover' of the trimaran Western Sea. "Their
new building on the seawall has been completed, and they will
soon be running all of the harbor operations from there. It also
has space for a restaurant, laundry, bath - showers, a tienda,
and even a swimming pool. There's a small day use dock located
in front of the building, and by the time this report comes out
in print, the launch ramp and Travel-Lift should be operational.
There will be a one-foot concrete base for the dry storage area,
which will have room for 50 boats supported by jacks. Prices
have yet to be set for hauling and dry storage. The working building
will have bays for fiberglass work, painting, mechanical work
and so forth, and it will be run by Puerto Escondido Marine Services.
The mooring field, which was only put in two years ago, is set
to be revamped, although no date has been given. However, we
can report that the availability of diesel and gas at Puerto
Escondido - as opposed to having to go to 20-mile distant Loreto
- has been very popular with both cruisers and Singlar. DHL express
delivery and WiFi are two additional improvements expected here.
The two of us and all the Hidden Port YC members want to encourage
everyone to come up to Escondido, play at all the islands, enjoy
the terrific snorkeling, and above all, try to make the 12th
Annual Loreto Fest that will start on May 3. It's a four-day
festival with lots of cruiser music, a ham test, a regatta, seminars,
games and workshops - all to raise money for educational and
community projects for the locals. For further information and
to see photos of the last Loreto Fest, which was the biggest
ever, visit www.hiddenportyachtclub.com."
Elvin and Connie also report that Alejandro and Imelda, who owned
the La Picazon Restaurant in Cabo, have moved to Loreto, and
have opened up a new restaurant of the same name, but across
the way from Isla Coronado. "It's great, because cruisers
can either anchor in front of it or dinghy across from Isla Coronado."
September is historically the busiest month for hurricanes in
Mexico, and by the middle of the month two had gotten the attention
of everyone on the mainland and on Baja. John, the first and
the stronger of the two with winds to 115 knots, threatened the
coast of mainland Mexico from Zihuatanejo to Mazatlan, but had
little effect other than heavy rainfall. But then it had tourists
and residents alike freaked in both Cabo and La Paz, as it was
headed directly toward them. Fortunately, a last minute turn
to the north spared Cabo. "We had rain, not a hurricane,"
reported Norma from Marina Cabo San Lucas. After John made landfall
with a vengeance on the East Cape, it skirted La Paz, where winds
to about 80 knots caused about six boats on the hard to partially
or completely be tipped over, and several anchored boats to be
blown aground. It also brought wind to about 80 knots up at Puerto
Escondido, where only one boat, the Gulfstar 41 Tortuga, was
blown ashore, and two others hooked together with only minor
damage. All things considered, there was very little damage to
boating interests. But thanks to as much as 25 inches of rain
falling on 4,000-ft mountains, flash floods wiped out major sections
of highway in Southern Baja, and Mulege was severely flooded.
Just nine days later, Lane, a somewhat weaker hurricane, headed
up the mainland coast just as John had, and was also forecast
to nail Cabo and La Paz. But once again boating interests were
spared from severe damage, as Lane turned north and came ashore
about 50 miles north of Mazatlan. It was the closest a hurricane
had come to Mazatlan in 31 years, but Marina Mazatlan Harbormaster
Antonio Cevallos reports that there weren't any winds over 45
knots, so damage was limited to things like torn tarps. Baja
was completely spared.
Neither John or Lane were anywhere near as bad to boating interests
as were hurricanes Ignacio and Marty in '03, and everyone can
be thankful for that. When this year's cruising class arrives
in Mexico, it's unlikely they'll be able to detect any hurricane
damage, except possibly to the roads. That's assuming there are
no more hurricanes before the season semi-officially ends on
Fortunately, it's been a very quiet hurricane season in the Eastern
Caribbean - again. You might assume that since the Atlantic-Caribbean
had a record 27 named storms last year, the Eastern Caribbean
would have been devastated. On the contrary, it got off all but
"Great magazine," writes Grant Todd, who lost his boat
- and almost his life - when his boat exploded while he was singlehanding
off El Salvador about six years ago. "However, the boat
identified as a Bristol Channel Cutter in the August Sightings
looks remarkably like the Falmouth Cutter Mijita that
I sold back in '95 or so. She had the best interior of any Falmouth,
and was a great sailor - something I know from having cruised
her to Mexico twice. After doing that, I gave in to a new wife
and bought the Hans Christian 48 Koonawarra. You may remember
that that boat was destroyed in an explosion while I was sailing
off Central America. All I know about the incident is that there
was a fire onboard, probably electrical, and I assume that it
got to the propane tanks. It was a once-in-a-million accident
that would be extremely unlikely to happen again. After all,
the boat was in great shape, had been rewired just before, and
had a new genset. The only thing that I would have changed would
have been to have a copper rather than a rubber gas line where
it ran through the engine room to the stove. Anyway, I was fortunate
to be buddyboating with Joss and Karina D at the
time, or I probably wouldn't have survived. I ended up in the
hospital for two months with a broken knee and burns, but have
made a full recovery. After you ran the story, a lot of people
sent me their best wishes - and it made my recovery easier. I
The last time we met Holly and Denis of the Colorado-based Perry
(not Bob) 43 catamaran Tango, it was in Puerto Vallarta,
and they were pretty new to both the boat and sailing. So we
were glad to hear that they had had a wonderful time spending
most of the summer cruising the Haida Gwaii (aka Queen Charlotte
Islands) of Canada. "Beautiful!" they wrote. But they
had even better news: "Tom Ellison, the owner of the Ocean
71 Ocean Light, Latitude's old Big O, sends
his regards. He and his wife and daughter are running a charter
business in Haida Gwaii with Ocean Light, and appear to
be having a wonderful time. We met them at Sandspit, British
Columbia, and their ketch looks great! As for us, we may cross
paths again in Southern California, as we'll be spending a few
months there prior to returning to Mexico."
Yours is one of a sprinkling of reports we've had over the years
that Ellison and family totally rebuilt our old boat - and you
can't imagine how good that makes us feel. Big O played
such a major role in our lives for a dozen years, and there are
no photos of our kids we treasure more than those taken during
sailing adventures aboard her, from California to the Caribbean
to Turkey. But that was just a tiny part of it, as there were
also six Antigua Sailing Weeks, cruising the Med, crossing the
Atlantic, doing the first Baja
Ha-Ha, chartering up and down the Caribbean, T-boning the
Carquinez Bridge, cruising Cuba, and so much more. Admittedly,
she was in dire need of a complete refit when we got done with
her, but what a great yacht. In fact, during the debut of Maltese
Falcon in Italy a few months ago, we introduced ourselves
to Gerard Dijkstra, who designed Falcon and many of the
other great yachts of the world, because we'd heard that he also
had owned an Ocean 71. "It's true," he said, "I
owned hull #1 and raced her in the singlehanded OSTAR Race -
but unfortunately was dismasted. But," he said, getting
that look in his eye, "that's one great boat for passagemaking."
We remarked on it elsewhere in this issue, but think it's worth
a reminder - most airlines will not allow Americans to board
flights to Mexico without something that proves U.S. citizenship
- meaning either a birth certificate or a passport. A driver's
license will no longer do, as Doña de Mallorca discovered
in mid-September when Alaska Airlines wouldn't allow her to fly
from L.A. to Puerto Vallarta. This despite the fact that the
Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of '04 doesn't
require air or sea travellers to have passports - birth certificates
will no longer cut it - until January 1. De Mallorca had to fly
back to Northern Cailifornia, get her passport, and then fly
to Puerto Vallarta. So if you don't have your passport, get it
now before the rush begins. Besides, didn't Helen Gurley Brown
tell young ladies they should never be without their passports?
"I know it's been awhile, and we hope to get out cruising
again soon," reported Gene and Sheri Seybold of the Stockton-based
Esprit 37 Reflections - if our memory serves us. "But
we wanted to report that Ardell Lien, whom you've written about
several times in the past, just pulled into the Waikiki YC aboard
his Nor'Sea 27 Catalyst, having completed his singlehanded
circumnavigation. But it wasn't just any circumnavigation, as
he did it in under 15 months at age 71! And even more inspiring,
he did it only a couple of years after being the recipient of
a heart and kidney transplant! What an accomplishment!"
"I stopped at Puerto Salina Marina, which is about two-thirds
of the way to Ensenada from San Diego, in late August for a walk
around," reports Isaac Marr. "They now have about 200
slips open, and the facilities were really nice. Nonetheless,
the place was vacant except for a few sailboats in the 50 to
60-ft range, and a few ex-pats we found fishing for halibut.
One of them landed a 25-pounder from the dock. They told us that
the fuel dock is pretty close to being completed, the bar/restaurant
is open, and that there is a mercado open a couple miles
up Hwy 1 in Mission, with a new one being built in the marina.
The slips have electricity, water, 24-hour security - the works.
Guest slips are 50 cents/ft/day, $10.25 ft/month, and $7.50 ft/month
for over three months. Puerto Salina is about a four to five-hour
broad reach from San Diego in typical conditions, making it a
perfect weekend destination with plenty of privacy."
Since it's easier to find a seven-dollar bill than it is a slip
in San Diego, Ha-Ha entrants trying to stage their boats near
the start might consider Puerto Salina Marina - although we're
not sure what the entrance is like. As always, Ha-Ha entries
will also be permitted to start from Ensenada as well as San
"Talking about dinghy thefts," writes Jeff Hoffman
of San Francisco, "when we sailed from Papeete to Cook's
Bay in '95, I was left to watch the dinghy for a short time in
the evening while the skipper and his wife checked out things
to do ashore. I was approached by three males who had to be in
their late teens or early 20s, who hung out and talked. I took
a few swigs from the bottle that they offered me. Nothing unseemly
took place, but I definitely had the feeling that the guys were
checking out the situation, and that the skipper's dinghy would
have been stolen had I not been there. I've lived in slums, have
pretty good street sense, and don't feel I was being paranoid.
As friendly as the 'kids' acted toward me, they were up to no
With so many boats headed to Mexico in late October, it would
be nice if we could get a report from last year's cruisers in
Mexico - and everywhere else - on the frequency of dinghy thefts
in the places they've been. We haven't locked a dinghy in Mexico
in about 15 years and haven't had one stolen there - as opposed
to Palm Island in the Caribbean and Cartagena - but maybe others
haven't been so lucky.
The winter cruising season is almost upon us, thank God, so have
a lot of fun - but for goodness sake, be careful out there.