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October 2007

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With reports this month from Nereida on having sailed all the way across the Pacific to Indonesia; from Finisterre on three years of cruising between Mexico and Ecuador; from Tanasza Polska on a young woman's 3,400-mile solo passage to Vanuatu; from Far Niente on Palmerston Island; from the new marina at La Cruz; from Coco Kai on adventures in Central America; and many Cruise Notes.

Nereida — Najad 361
Jeanne Socrates
Landfall At Bali, Indonesia

I'm presently having a lovely sail within sight of the rugged mountains of Pulau Sambawa — I believe 'pulau' means 'island' — on my way to the island of Bali, having left Darwin on September 1. I expect to reach Bali Marina early on the 8th, but I'm almost certain to have to slow down so as not to arrive before it gets light.

After a frustrating first couple of days of almost nonstop motoring on calm seas, I've had a mix of excellent sailing — albeit mostly on a dead run. As a result, I've had to frequently jibe the main and poled-out genoa. But the wind strength has varied greatly, so I've had to motor in the occasional calms, too. It certainly hasn't been a boring passage.

Going back a bit, I arrived in Cairns, Australia, from Vanuatu on July 11th, which completed my crossing from Zihuatanejo — a really big Puddle Jump. I got a lovely welcome in Cairns, including from my cousin, whom I hadn't seen in several years. Having not been to Australia before, it was nice to arrive by sail. From Cairns, I made my way inside the Great Barrier Reef, daysailing north to Cape York, where I nearly lost my steering. It turned out that the cable to the quadrant was totally frayed. I caught it just in time to make an emergency repair that lasted me one week and 820 miles to Darwin. Speaking of Darwin, now there's a place with an impressive tidal range! At one point near the Vernon Islands in the Howard Channel, I was motoring really hard at 7.9 knots, but only making 2.4 knots over the bottom! It's a good thing that Nereida has a strong and well-looked-after engine!

After a short stop in Bali to enjoy a bit of Indonesian culture and ambience — boat jobs permitting, of course — I'll be on my way across the Indian Ocean, making for South Africa. I hope to be in Richards Bay by mid-November. That would involve several long passages, however, so I hope the weather gods will smile down on me. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed, partly for the final leg from Reunion Island across the Agulhas Current to South Africa, and partly for the long leg from Cocos-Keeling to Rodriguez. When my friend Jim Kellam did that latter passage two years ago, he had 30-knot winds for over a week. Mmmm, I'd better check my trysail and storm staysail before I leave Bali.

— jeanne 09/15/07

Finisterre — Santionge 44
Mike & Kay Heath
Five Years After Our First Ha-Ha

What have we been up to since Mike did the '00 Ha-Ha as crew aboard Rick Gio's Sebastapol-based Freya 39 Gypsy Warrior? In '04, after we both ditched our work careers and finished preparing Finisterre, we did the Ha-Ha on our own boat. Since then, we've travelled to Ecuador by way of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

To a certain extent, we could be considered 'commuter cruisers', as for the last three years we've been on the move during the November through April dry seasons. During the summers we've come to visit with family and friends. In order to do that, we've left Finisterre at Marina Nuevo Vallarta near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; at King & Bartlet Marina in Golfito, Costa Rica; and most recently on the hard at the Puerto Lucia YC in Ecuador. Our plans for the upcoming season include travels in South America and sailing to the Galapagos. After that, who knows?

We may be somewhat different from most cruisers in that we view Finisterre as a means not only to explore the Pacific coastline, but also as a vehicle to move from one country to the next to learn more about the culture of each. In addition to cruising from anchorage to anchorage, we've made the conscious decision to travel inland at every opportunity. We found many opportunities for inland travel in Mexico, and also recommend traveling in Guatemala — even though we didn't even stop there with our boat. The city of Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and Copan Ruinas, just inside Honduras, offer colorful delights of pre-colonial history and insights on current indigenous life.

When it comes to anchorages, we liked those near Loreto in the Sea of Cortez, and especially San Juanico. We also liked most of the anchorages south of Banderas Bay on mainland Mexico. Working down the coast of Central America east of Guatemala, there aren't many anchorages until you reach Costa Rica. We loved being up the estuary at Bahia del Sol, El Salvador — once we were across the bar! But with a boat that draws seven feet, we wouldn't cross that bar again. Travelling further ESE along the Central American coast in the direction of Costa Rica, we also liked Puesta del Sol Marina in Nicaragua.

Once we got to Costa Rica, we really enjoyed the Bahia Santa Elena anchorage because it was so protected, the hiking was great in the Santa Elena Forest Preserve where Ollie North once did some of his clandestine activities during the Contra days, and because we found a chambered nautilus on the beach. We also loved Ballena Bay, Costa Rica, which had the first lush jungle — howler monkeys included — after so many dry tropical forests.

While in Panama, we liked the anchorages in the western islands, the Perlas Islands in the Gulf of Panama, and the Darien Province in southern Panama. But the anchorages in western Panama were the best. Bahia Honda, for example, is a lovely, well-protected anchorage with delightful people. They'd often come to visit, loved to trade, and remembered us when we returned. Panama's islands are often sparsely inhabited, so we enjoyed many spots without anybody around — not even other cruisers or fishermen. When the local fishermen did come by, they often brought freshly caught lobster and fish. In the Bay of Panama, we enjoyed many anchorages in the Las Perlas Islands, catching glimpses of participants in the Turkish production of Survivor at Contadora Island. When we got to Isla San Jose, we met Dieter and Gerta, two real survivors, who regaled us with tales, and sold us enough grapefruit for our trip to Ecuador that there was no way we'd get scurvy. But they also — fair enough — expected the obligatory bottle of rum.

Our favorite inland trip was across Nicaragua by water — although not aboard Finisterre. We took a ferry from Granada to Ometepe Island on Lago de Nicaragua, then continued on to San Carlos at the head of the San Juan River. We then rode water taxis all the way down the river to the Caribbean port of San Juan del Norte de Nicaragua. What a delight! There were rapids, dugout canoes plying the river currents, a great jungle walk, and the old Spanish fort at El Castillo. It was the adventure of a lifetime! Puesta del Sol Marina was the safe haven for Finistere while we made that trip inland.

Another highlight was cruising in the Darien Province of southern Panama, which we did in March of this year. Many cruisers avoid the Darien, which is a vast collection of rivers and estuaries located along Panama's border with Columbia, because it's true wilderness. Indeed, the only other boat we saw was Jurgen and Judy's Anna III — and we buddyboated with them up the Sabana River to the Wounaan village of Boca de Lara. We enjoyed meeting the indigenous people, and the Wounaan were very friendly and helpful. The women make a wide variety of lovely baskets using all natural fibers and dyes. The town of La Palma is a crossroads — or more properly, a crossrivers — of trade. The roads are short but the rivers are long, and most goods arrive and depart by boat. La Palma is a bustling one-street town where you can buy fresh fruits, Hamm's beer, and meet a great mix of people. The gateway to the Darien rivers, La Palma is actually a good place to provision. Then you can actually take your sailboat miles up the major rivers to lovely, quiet anchorages populated by river woodsmen, fishermen, ibis, and parrots. We found that you can have as much quiet and solitude in those anchorages as you can atop mountains in the Sierras.

A member of the Punta de Mita Yacht & Surf Club, Mike enjoyed surfing at various spots around Banderas Bay and south to Ecuador. Many of the better surf spots in Central America were surprisingly crowded, so the lesser spots were often more enjoyable just for the pleasure of getting your own waves. He liked the breaks at Puesta del Sol in Nicaragua, Isla Catalina in Panama, where the reef break can be gnarly for an old guy, an unnamed spot in the Las Perlas Islands, and his favorite spot of all, the point off the Farallon Dillon in Ecuador. The owners of the Farallon Dillon, whom we befriended while working on Finisterre on the hard at the Puerto Lucia YC, graciously allowed us to leave our boards there. After an early morning bike ride or a hard day's work in the yard, Mike often had the surf all to himself. He had one ride that was so perfect and so long that he couldn't help but yell and scream at the end — only to realize that nobody had been around to see it. It will be interesting to see what surf awaits him upon our return to Ecuador at the end of September.

Speaking of returning to Ecuador, it will also be interesting to see what the latest situation is there with regard to port entry fees, new fuel prices for cruisers, and how long cruising boats will be allowed to stay. We'll give an update as soon as we can.
Good luck to everyone in this year's Ha-Ha. Mexico's friendly people, delicious food, and happy music have been among the highlights of our trip. Work on your Spanish while there, because, once south of Mexico, you'll need it. Despite the greater language barrier, the people will still be outgoing, and, while you won't be able to count on getting the delicious tipico Mexican food, you'll still be able to find chicken, beans, rice, tomatoes and cucumbers. No matter where you cruise, we encourage you to travel inland to see the fine old Spanish cities, the beautiful handicrafts, the quiet central squares and to enjoy conversation with local people. They will try their English, you try your Spanish, and you'll make bonds of friendship across borders.

— mike & kay 08/20/07

Tanasza Polska — S&S 34
Natasza Caban
First Leg, Solo Circumnavigation

When I departed Honolulu on the start of my proposed 22-month solo circumnavigation, I knew the 3,400-mile first leg to Vanuatu would present me with a steep learning curve. But I didn't know that I would be so challenged on the very first night! As the sun set, my mainsheet block broke, and a second later the pin that attaches my autopilot to the steering system came undone. So as the boom jibed over my head, I was forced to steer while trying to set my windvane. How wonderful it would have been had my headlamp worked, or if I had had a chance to go below to fetch my flashlight, spare blocks and some straps.

By the following morning, I'd learned to be careful when wishing for calmer conditions. I was becalmed. It gave me a chance to make repairs, of course, but when the repairs were completed I still had no wind. I'd brought fuel along, but only enough to motor through the doldrums, so for two days my boat was a 'painted ship on a painted ocean'. I began to wonder if this was how my dream was going to play out.

Nonetheless, I was happy to finally be out on the ocean starting my big adventure — although the first days were hard mentally. Having not made a long solo passage before, I began to have doubts whether I would be able to make it all the way around. I knew that I needed to learn more about my boat, become familiar with her telltale noises, and learn to sail her efficiently. In addition, my body had to become accustomed to the demands of being at sea, and, as a singlehander, to having to get up every 20 minutes to look around for ships. I discussed these matters with the pilot whales that came alongside my boat. They sang back, and it relieved me to learn that they didn't think I was insane for talking to myself.

I had birds almost all the way to Vanuatu, and always wondered which islands they came from. A couple of times I sailed through large schools of fish — some of them large fish. I caught one fish that finally got loose because I just wasn't strong enough to land it. Another time I caught a fish that I initially felt was too small to keep. I dragged her behind the boat while I tried to figure out a way to avoid killing her. I sat outside in the cockpit to keep her from feeling so lonely. Eventually, I decided that I should eat her for ceviche. But by that time, I found that a larger fish had already taken the little fish and my hook. As in the rest of life, timing is everything.

One night about halfway through my first leg, I got a weird feeling in my stomach. Call it intuition that something bad was going to happen that night. I always set my alarm in order to keep a good watch, but when I get really tired, I sleep through it. Somehow I woke myself up, went outside, and there it was — a fishing boat on a collision course with me! Just as I was about to tack away, a huge squall came through. Did I mention that I had a problem with my roller furling headsail? It wouldn't furl. I ended up with rain pouring into my eyes, the boat heeled over so far my boom was dragging in the water, and getting much too close to the fishing boat. Finally they saw me and changed course. I wished them a good evening, but asked that they keep a better watch.

A short time later, I saw a nighttime rainbow for the first time ever. It was awesome and made me smile again. Even though my furler wasn't working, three battens were poking holes in my new main, my engine sometimes wouldn't start, and water had leaked all over my books, the rainbow made all those things seem like part of my dream. It made me smile.

I gave up many things to be able to do this trip, and have worked very hard. Nonetheless, I realize that I'm lucky to have the opportunity, and that dreams can come true. But I wouldn't be here were it not for the help of many other people and companies. When things get tough and I get a little down, thinking of all of them cheers me up and makes me stronger.

I've already made it to Efate Island, Port Vila, Vanuatu. It's funny, because I actually yelled "Land ho!" even though I was by myself. Only the dolphins and birds could hear. The people of this nation are among the friendliest I've ever met, and have been taking great care of me. I've gotten a berth, a bed and a bath, horserides on the beach, and much more.

It's hard to leave such a wonderful island and such friendly people behind, but I must continue on, as the rest of the world is waiting. Having finished repairs to my furler and gotten the main back from the sailmaker, I'm about to take off. While swimming next to my boat I saw a sea snake, and it scared me. But I'm told there will be big sharks, nasty jellyfish, and crocodiles waiting for me in the Torres Strait, so how could I let a little snake scare me?

I plan to stop at Cocos-Keeling in the Indian Ocean next. It should take me about 45 days.

— nat 09/15/07

Far Niente — Island Packet 42
Eric & Gisela Gosch
Palmerston Island

When we arrived at Palmerston Atoll, located in the southern Cook Islands, we learned that it's somewhat unique for two reasons. First, it's only accessible from the outside world by boat. Even more exceptional is the fact that the island's 67 inhabitants are all descended from one man, William Marsters, who laid his claim to the atoll in 1863. With three concurrent wives, he fathered 26 children and created his own island dynasty. Marsters' descendants now number around 8,000, and live all over the Cook Islands and New Zealand. At one time, the atoll's population was as high as 150, but has dropped steadily as the young people have moved away for greater opportunities.
Marsters divided the atoll's 30 small motus equally among his three families, but established leeward Palmerston Island, just 3.2 square miles, as the home base for everyone. Careful rules were established for the allocation of resources and land for each family, and strict guidelines were set for marriages between the families. Two lines of twin coconut trees cross the island to delineate property lines, separating houses of each of the three principal family lines by as little as 10 feet.

Palmerston Atoll receives about $160,000 U.S. each year in support from the Cook Islands government, and that money is allocated according to the decision of the Palmerston Island Council, comprised of equal appointed representation from each of the three families. All island decisions must have unanimous approval of the Council. Lately the council has been divided as to whether to allow an airstrip to be built on an outlying motu.

The other principal source of island revenue is fishing. As a freighter comes to the island only three or four times a year, Palmerston has the highest ratio of freezers — crammed full of fish — to people in the world. Electricity is provided by a large generator, which is only run every other six hours in order to conserve fuel. There is one solar-powered telephone — in a glass telephone booth, no less! When the phone rings, the kids race to answer it. Callers are told to call back 10 minutes later, during which time the intended recipient is located and hustled to the booth. The phone works via a satellite dish, which means the island has internet access.

The one-room schoolhouse serves 24 children, aged 6 to 16, who work through educational packages independently and at their own pace. Palmerston is the only Cook Island where English is the native language, although it has become blended with a Gloucestershire burr and Maori vocabulary. But children are required to adhere to textbook English while in school.

As can be imagined, visiting yachties are a welcome break from family politics and conflict — and are a transportation source for greatly needed supplies. The atoll has a long-standing tradition that the first person to greet an arriving yacht will welcome the crew into his home and make sure they are introduced to the island. Still honoring the custom established by William Marsters almost 150 years ago, visitors are never charged anything for staying on the island, whether for two nights or two months. In return, however, visitors are expected to help out and offer their services where needed.

Because of the system, family members are trained to spot approaching boats when they are still far out at sea. Then they scramble to be the first to contact the vessel by radio, guide them to one of the five moorings — another source of income — and host them ashore for the duration of their stay. Between 50 and 70 yachts call on Palmerston during the May through October cruising season.

Most cruisers come to Palmerston after visiting Rarotonga, where the harbormaster's staff loads the boats up with goods for one of the three families on Palmerston. We, for example, were given boxes of nappies (diapers), fortified baby formula, and corned beef for Bill Marsters. While later at Atitutaki, we were contacted by a customs official on the VHF to pick up bananas for Bill's family.

Upon approaching Palmerston, we heard various radio transmissions before realizing that somebody was trying to contact us. We finally responded to Bob Marsters' call, and spottd him in his aluminum skiff as we approached the atoll. As there is no passage into the lagoon for most boats, you have to anchor outside the lagoon at the edge of the reef in an open roadstead that's only safe during easterly winds.

Unfortunately, all the moorings were taken on the afternoon we arrived, so we had to anchor. Bob directed us to the exact spot where we needed to drop our hook. Once our hook was down, Bob as well as Taia, 16, and Goldine, 14, two of his daughters, and Andrew, 8, his son, pulled alongside and introduced themselves. Bob told us he'd come around the next morning to give us an island tour and host us for lunch.

The next day we loaded the goods for Bill's family into Bob's skiff, and wound our way through the shallow reef to Palmerston Island. Tipu, Bob's wife, had prepared a sumptuous spread of parrotfish, taro, rice and coleslaw for three of the visiting yachts. One yacht was a 100-ft adventure sailing yacht, where the 40 paying guests serve as part of the crew, so Tipu had made lunch for over 50 people! After lunch I joined several of the women in a line to, assemblyline style, wash the dishes.

We later met Bill Marsters and his wife Mits, who were very appreciative of the items we'd brought for them. Mits told me that she was down to the final bottle of baby formula for her six-month-old Sydney, so we'd brought the formula just in time. She also asked Bob for permission to host us for lunch the next day as a way of thanking us. We sensed a bit of jostling between the families of Bill and Bob as to who was our official host. We later learned that Bob is mayor and Bill does not own any of the moorings in the anchorage. In response, Bill built the Palmerston Island YC, which is a covered patio and loft and where yachties can use his two washing machines for free. Bob and Bill seem to disagree on many things, including the need for an airport. Bill thinks an airport will introduce commercialism and excessive tourism, thus changing the essence of the Palmerstonian lifestyle and its historical focus on yachties. Bob, on the other hand, lost a son because of inadequate access to emergency healthcare and views the air strip as a basic necessity. It's easy to appreciate both points of view.

On Sunday morning we joined Bill's family for church, and were the obvious focal point of attention for those present. Once again we are enchanted by the singing, in both English and Maori, and were stunned to later learn that most islanders have no idea what they are singing in Maori. Meanwhile Mits had outdone herself for lunch: chicken, lamb, tropicbird — a delicacy with grayish meat that has a very wild and fishy taste — as well as rice, taro, spinach with corned beef, coleslaw and sponge cake. There were many leftovers, and we were encouraged to pack them up and take them back to our boat. This from people who have very little to begin with. To decline would have been to offend them, so we picked out a few items, leaving the tropicbird — which none of us cared for — behind. We spent the rest of the day visiting with the townfolks, as any work or play — including that by children — is forbidden on the Sabbath.

In appreciation for their hospitality, we brought t-shirts and DVDs for both Bill and Bob's families, and brought inflatable world globes, pencils, and markers to the school teacher. Bob took us around the island to distribute our stash of reading glasses to both young and old. Bob also asked to borrow three additional DVDs to watch that evening. As there is no live television on the island, DVDs are their only window to the outside world. DVDs are what stimulate a hunger for life beyond the small family island, and are the impetus for most high school-age kids to leave for New Zealand and other islands.

Our third and last day in Palmerston was spent helping Bob install an additional mooring to replace one lost during a cyclone two years ago. We provided some extra chain and shackles we had onboard, and Bob had the mooring floats and lines. Eric and I dove to wrap the chain through large coral fissures — and discovered an incredibly beautiful coral reef, as well as more than 100 feet of visibility, beyond the drop-off. A skittish white-tip reef shark checked us out from a safe distance as colorful parrotfish swam by. We took our time at our task in order to soak up the beauty around us. A few hours after we completed the job, a catamaran pulled into the anchorage and tied up to the new mooring. We'd just helped provide a way for Bob to supplement his income!

After an afternoon of volleyball on the beach with members of all three families — both young and old are skilled — and good-byes to everyone, we weighed anchor around sunset — only to find our chain stuck in the coral. I eagerly volunteered for another dive to unfoul it, leaving Eric at the helm. Despite the pending darkness, the visibility was still very good at 95 feet — yikes! — and in short order the chain was free. During my final glimpse around, a beautiful spotted eagle ray glided by, giving a fitting conclusion to an incredible island experience and the entire Cook Islands.

­— eric /8/15/07

Coco Kai — 65-Ft Schooner
Jennifer Sanders, Greg King
Central America
(Long Beach)

Time flies when you're having fun, and we — my eight-year old daughter Coco, my boyfriend Greg, and I, really had a great time in late spring and early summer cruising from Puerto Angel, Mexico, to Golfito, Costa Rica. After a summer back in Southern California, Greg has headed back to the boat to get her ready for the upcoming season, while Coco and I are eager to follow in a few weeks.

The state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico is lovely, and there are six fine coves to explore in the Huatulco area, which is why we stayed there for several weeks. Bahia Chachacual is a particularly beautiful cove that is relatively isolated. We had it all to ourselves — except for the few hours every couple of days when a tour boat stopped by with snorkelers.

Coco and I enjoyed snorkeling there with Ducky, our 10-year-old black lab, as it had the clearest water we've seen in Mexico, with more than 50-ft visibility on good days. And there were tons of stingrays and tropical fish. One day the water was so clear and blue that a bait ball in the shallows near the beach looked like a tornado moving to and fro. Ducky managed to get in the middle of it, and when the hundreds of small fish bumped into her legs, she jumped straight up in the air! Coco and I howled. But Ducky is a good swimmer who always went with us when we snorkeled, and sometimes swam as much as a quarter of a mile from the boat to shore.

We left the schooner in the marina at sizzling Huatulco for a week and headed inland in a rental car. Our destination was Oaxaca, a lovely colonial town with some great ruins at 5,000 feet above sea level. The road had a many switchbacks — yikes! — although Coco and Greg thought careening around turn after turn, with sheer drop-offs, was exhilarating. We spent the night in a rented cabin, complete with a fireplace, in the mountains. After the heat of coastal Mexico, it was refreshing to get cold enough to want to start a fire.

Buildings in colonial cities such as Oaxaca have just walls and gates fronting the streets. Once you're inside the gate, there are beautiful courtyards and gardens. We stayed at the Hotel Mariposa ­— Spanish for butterfly — which had a great courtyard with fountains, turtles and fish, and even a resident bunny that ran around eating the leaves that fell from the trees. We visited the Zapatec ruins at Monte Alban, as well as the huge — multiple city blocks — market in Oaxaca. Then we headed back down to the coast via a different route, one that took us past the ruins at Mitla, the limestone 'water' falls, and several of Mexico's more famous weaving towns. Coco and I tried chapulines, the local delicacy, but Greg was too chicken to sample the spiced grasshoppers. They tasted 'interesting', not like chicken.

Once back in Huatulco, we got a good weather window, so we high-tailed it across the Gulf of Tehauntepec to El Salvador. Our three-day crossing was pleasant, and left us at Bahia de Jiquilaco, one of only two good spots to stop in El Salvador. Nonetheless, we still had to cross the bar that is surrounded by breaking waves in order to reach the estuary to get to the marina. It's not clear where the 'break' in the line of breakers is, so the marina sends a panga down to guide you in. All of Greg's years of surfing paid off, as he drove Coco Kai down a couple of big waves, and we were in! We then followed the panga five miles up the estuary to lovely Marina Barillas.

Marina Barillas is actually a private beach club that has about 10 moorings. They cater to wealthy locals — the ex-President of El Salvador stopped by one day — and visiting cruisers. For $12/day, we had access to the beach club facilities, which included a nice pool, lovely grounds, and a restaurant. They even provided a guide to walk us to a spot in the jungle where a troop of about 30 spider monkeys live. We had so much fun feeding them bananas that we did it twice.

There's no problem with officials at Barillas. We'd barely gotten secured to our mooring when English-speaking Herberto arrived in a panga with officials from Customs, Immigration and other offices, who were there to welcome us to El Salvador. Talk about turning the often painful checking-in process into a pleasant experience! Herberto runs the marina, and is a great source of information for cruisers. For example, as Greg dealt with the Immigration officials — which is a 'blue' — or guy's — job in these macho countries — I asked Herberto if we could swim off the boat. The water was the typical brown of estuaries, but didn't look polluted. Herberto said he couldn't recommend it, then paused to point out a crocodile that just happened to be swimming by! Several times later that week we saw the same croc on the nearby bank sunning himself, his mouth wide open.

There are a lot of guns in public in El Salvador. The gated marina was patrolled by armed guards who also checked the estuary area. The free mini-van shuttle that took us on the hour ride into the town of Usulutan twice a week for provisions also came equipped with an armed guard. The supermarket in town had about 12 armed guards, and it wasn't unusual to see someone walking down the street with a rifle. We almost felt as though we were in Texas. Despite the guns, we felt safe, and didn't hear stories of people getting shot. Our theory is that there were so many unemployed men with guns after the long civil war that it just made sense to give them jobs as guards.

We hired a mini-van with a driver and guide to explore the interior of El Salvador, and visited a coffee plantation and two different ruins. One of the ruins was similar to Pompeii, as the ash from one of the nearby volcanos buried the village intact about 600 AD. It was so well preserved that we could see the irrigation ditches in the garden by the small houses. These are the only ruins in Central America that had once had 'saunas'. We also saw cashew trees, and now know why they are so expensive. The fruit is the size of a pear, and there is just one little nut growing out of the top. The outdoor markets were interesting, and Coco especially liked the live purple crabs in the baskets, each one with a string attached. But they are pets, not dinner entres. Greg still hasn't found what he's looking for — the perfect machete.

After a few weeks, the two drawbacks of El Salvador got the better of us. It was so warm at that time of year that touching fingers became a substitute for hugs. And let's face it, estuary is a nice word for swamp, so the bugs abounded. The nightly thunderstorms did provide some interesting entertainment for Coco, who, being raised in Southern California, hadn't experienced them before.

On our way to Nicaragua, we stopped in the Gulf of Fonseca, parts of which are claimed by El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Thanks to the offshoots of a tropical storm in Mexico, we had heavy rain and thunderstorms. Our next stop was the Puesta del Sol Marina in Nicaragua, which was built and is operated by Roberto Membrano, a longtime cruiser from San Diego. It would have been impossible to navigate the twisty entry through the breakers and around rocky patches in the estuary were it not for the navigation aids installed and maintained by the marina. The 10-acre compound is also home to a hotel and has a lovely beach. Puesta del Sol is popular with tourists because it's got an excellent surf break. In fact, Greg abused himself with the amount of surfing he did.

Because there are so few options when it comes to anchorages and marinas along the coast of southern Mexico and Central America, you keep running into the same boats. As such, you become good friends and have a lot of potlucks. During one of these events Coco and I even learned to make pita bread. Having worked hard at a stressful downtown career for so many years, I can assure you that it was great to be able to take the time to make our own bread.

Once again we used the hotel shuttle to go to the nearest town, which turned out to be Chinandego, about an hour's ride away on dirt roads. Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America, and you could tell by the lack of electricity and running water in the huts that people lived in. Most of these homes had a bicycle wheel contraption used to pump water up from a well. Pigs and other farm animals ran amok. Several times our van had to stop to allow a herd of oxen and goats, or horses, to pass by us.

City life, such as it is in Chinandego, turned out to be very different from city life in El Salvador. The town had the same colonial feel, but although the money-changers who hung out on the street corners had really big wads of cash, there wasn't a gun in sight. How refreshing. I also got a kick out of the ubiquitous public phone booths. They looked like your basic lemonade stand and were 'manned' by bored young women.

On our first such trip into town we were part of a group of 12 cruisers. Someone had read about a "great" Chinese restaurant, so we were all excited to have lunch there. We weren't even dissuaded by the fact it had no electricity or other customers when we arrived. After ordering, we learned they didn't have any running water either. But the food was delicious! The restaurant had the added bonus of a caged garden area in the interior that featured a tank with turtles, a good-sized pet croc, parrots, and other animals. The pet crocodile was so still against the side of the tank that he almost looked stuffed. Jeremy, one of the 'big kids', couldn't resist touching its tail to see what it felt like. His curiosity resulted in him having to get 10 stitches in a local emergency room.

The emergency room was interesting. It didn't take long for Jeremy to be treated, but before he could, Megan, his wife, had to go to the pharmacy to buy the medical supplies — sutures, needles and so forth. Only then could they stitch him up. The total cost, supplies included, came to $23. About what you'd pay in the States, right? Jeremy was a good sport about the mishap, and we laughed as we composed a headline for Latitude: Cruiser Attacked By Crocodile in Nicaragua!

Roberto Membrano, the owner of Puesto del Sol, knows the owner of the famous Cana de Flor rum distillery, which makes 4, 7, 12, and even 19-year-old rums. As a result, we got a private tour. It was interesting to note that nothing is wasted. They even bottle the CO2 from the fermentation process to use in Coke and beer. The company sells their raw alcohol to Europe — as such, Bailey's Irish Cream is full of Nicaraguan rum. The family that owns the distillery had the foresight to move their assets offshore before the Sandinistas took over, so their $2 billion family fortune remains intact. The Sandinistas liked their rum, so they never bombed or disrupted the rum production. But, we're told, they helped themselves to the rum. The current patriarch of the company, a third-generation graduate of Stanford, is no dummy, so he decided to start aging the rum three years instead of bottling it quickly. So once the Sandinistas were out of power, the saved/aged rum was ready for market. We might have enjoyed our rum tasting a little more if it hadn't been at 10 a.m., but it was a good visit. We ended up buying several half-gallon bottles of the seven-year stuff in town for about $10. It was quite the deal.

We reached Costa Rica by the first of June, escorted by a large pod of dolphins. After spending six weeks in estuaries, it was wonderful to be anchored in the Pacific once again, where we could jump off the boat when it got hot. We also hiked up a creek through the jungle to some lovely deep pools for inland swimming. Butterflies, parrots, macaws, bat rays and all kinds of other animal life abound, and we had far too many fun adventures to recount here.

We left Coco Kai on a mooring at Land & Sea Marina in Golfito for the summer, paying $6 a day — including for them to look after Ducky. They charge $4/day for people to use the dinghy dock, but have television and video, and a bar that operates on the honor system. Costa Rica is known for petty theft, so you never want to leave anything on deck, but we're told there is no violent crime.

We've heard that clearing into Ecuador and moving around has become more expensive and complicated, but it still doesn't sound too bad to us. That's our goal for the upcoming season. Good luck to everyone on this year's Ha-Ha, we had a great time last year.

— jennifer 07/15/07

Cruise Notes:

"August, September and October are the hurricane months in the Sea of Cortez," writes the editor of the Puerto Escondido, Baja-based Hidden Port YC website, "so everyone follows the weather reports of Don on Summer Passage. We first heard about then-tropical storm Henriette in early September when she was 200 miles south of Cabo, but that was close enough for us to be concerned that she might develop into a hurricane and come our way. Until then, it had been a relatively quiet summer in our part of the Sea, with water temperatures cooler than normal. Henriette made landfall between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo as a Category 1 hurricane, then traveled across land before heading into the Sea again around Cabo Pulmo, which is southeast of La Paz. Then she came north to us in Puerto Escondido before continuing on to Guaymas on the mainland side. We got hit starting at about 2:30 a.m.. Henriette was a relatively weak hurricane and didn't have as much rain as they expected. Nonetheless, the wind blew 75 knots, mostly out of the northwest, creating havoc. The following boats sank in the main harbor: Le Petite, Backstreets and Boardroom. Erikazona dragged her mooring and ended up half-submerged at the launch ramp. Defin Solo broke her mooring, but her crew was able to get their anchor down, and it held through the storm. The trimaran Moon Me, which had been Med-tied in the Elipse area, suffered damage to one hull. In the Waiting Room, Rumline snapped her mooring line, but, thanks to hitting the starboard side of Last Mango, was prevented from going into the rocks. The trimaran Western Sea went into the mangroves, but she's now back on her mooring with little damage. The dinghy dock ended up in three pieces."

We don't have exact figures, but believe that, once again, most of the seriously damaged boats were unattended. Note that there was a crew aboard Delfin Solo, and they were able to get an anchor set after their mooring broke. For additional photos of the damage — as well as lots of delicious-looking photos of the anchorages around Puerto Escondido, Google 'Hidden Port Yacht Club'.

As mentioned, Henriette came through Cabo and La Paz first. Norma Flores at Marina Cabo San Lucas reports that it only blew hard for a few hours, and didn't cause much damage. Patrick and Eileen Gerety of the La Quinta-based Willard 40 PH trawler Aloha report they were in Marina Costa Baja in La Paz, along with fellow Ha-Ha'ers such as Ketch 22, "when the eye passed directly over our condo." They report that it was an exciting few hours, but there was minimal damage. "Best wishes to everyone in the Ha-Ha," they write, "wish we could do it again."

Because of all the concerns about climate change, we've heard some alarmist "first time ever" claims about hurricanes in Mexico and Central America. It's true that on September 4 powerful Category 4 hurricane Felix slammed into the Caribbean coast of Guatemala on the same day that mild Category 1 hurricane Henriette hit Cabo. While that was the first time in recorded hurricane history that such cyclonic storms made landfall in the Caribbean and Pacific on the same day, people who made a big deal out of that fact seem to have overestimated the significance. For one thing, the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Mexico/Central America are in two different hurricane zones.

Second, so far this season — it's not over until the end of October — it's actually been a relatively light year in both the Pacific and Caribbean. For example, by the middle of September there had been seven tropical storms and three hurricanes on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. But in that same time period last year, there had been five tropical storms and nine hurricanes, an astonishing six of the latter being Category 3 or higher. What's more, in the last seven years — which is as far back as we bothered to check — only '03 had seen as little hurricane activity to date as this year. Don't get us wrong, hurricanes and the possibility of hurricanes are never to be taken lightly. On the other hand, be careful that you don't get bamboozled by people who manipulate the facts. Want to become knowledgeable about the frequency, strength and paths of hurricanes in the Pacific and the Atlantic/Caribbean? It's easy. Just Google in 'hurricanes + unisys', and you'll see the records for the last 50 years in fascinating and easy-to-digest graphic form. As for everyone with a boat in a hurricane zone — and that would include us with 'ti Profligate in the Virgin Islands — here's to hoping that the Pacific and Atlantic/Caribbean hurricane seasons end in boring fashion.

"Damn!" writes Bob Smith of the Victoria, B.C.-based 44-ft custom catamaran Pantera, "I'm up here in Victoria while my cat just got run over by Henriette at Marina Seca near Guaymas. To make me even more glum, I'm reading about all the lucky boats entered in the Ha-Ha. Now for the good news! Pantera has been on the hard since May, and I just learned from a friend at the marina that she did just fine sitting on his trailer, which usually holds his Cross 36 trimaran Tambaran. And the damage I suffered to my ankle and legs during last year's anchoring mishap in La Paz is healing well. I plan to meet the Ha-Ha fleet in Cabo. In fact, I'm feeling so good that I might even try to sail up to Bahia Santa Maria — or maybe even Turtle Bay — to join the Ha-Ha fleet. How many pesos if I do a one-third or two-third Ha-Ha?"

The last two legs of any Ha-Ha are always free to veterans of previous Ha-Ha's, so we hope to see Pantera somewhere down the line. And by the way, Bob, we hope you'll read the notice about the Banderas Bay Blast a little further down in this section, as we're certain you'll want to be part of that.

Anybody from the '03 Ha-Ha remember Frank and Janice Balmer, the retired schoolteachers from Tacoma aboard the Gulfstar 50 Freewind? In the last four years they've covered 18,000 miles, and just recently left Thailand for Langkawi, Malaysia. "The one thing we've learned is that things are not as they seem they'll be in the dreaming/planning stage, nor as described in most of the cruising guides." That's pretty cryptic, so we can't wait for their upcoming report explaining themselves.

"Check out the photo we took of the Mexican Navy panga that caught fire while work was being done on her outboards," write Dennis and Susan Ross, vets of the '02 Ha-Ha aboard the Portland-based Endeavour 43 Two Can Play. "Interestingly, they didn't have fire extinguishers aboard, so they had to run up to the API/ferry building to get some. They finally got the fire out, but it looks as though the panga will be out of service for awhile. As we write this, we're at the new Singlar Marina at Santa Rosalia, Baja, waiting for hurricane Henriette to decide where she will come ashore on the Baja. Santa Rosalia is not our choice of hurricane holes, but as a result of losing our transmission last week, it's where we're going to have to stay. We had a new transmission installed, but don't think we should test it making a dash for shelter at Puerto Escondido or Puerto Don Juan. The marina staff, and especially Carlos, the Operations Manager, have been very supportive and helped get everything in order. The marina is nearly full, so we will have lots of company."

To the best of our knowledge, Santa Rosalia had no hurricane damage.

It's been a long time coming, but Scott and Cindy Stolnitz of the Marina del Rey-based Switch 51 catamaran Beach House report they are about to begin their cruise. They'll start slowly by heading up to Ventura in October for a bottom job and other maintenance, then continue on to the Channel Islands, Newport and Ensenada for the rest of their shakedown cruise. "Starting about mid-December," they write, "we'll head down the coast to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and then west to the Galapagos. Our plan is to go where many boats have gone before, and avoid dangerous areas and weather conditions."

"With the mechanics and riggers finishing up their work, I'll be able to leave Sydney on September 8," reports Mike Harker of the Manhattan Beach-based Hunter Mariner 49 Wanderlust 3. Readers may recall that Harker, who got started in sailing during the '00 Ha-Ha, is about halfway through what he's hoping will be an 11-month circumnavigation. "I've added four new pieces of equipment to make my sailing safer and faster for the second half of my trip: 1) A new style of spinnaker called a Parasailor from the German sailmaker ISTEC; 2) A Raymarine AIS, which is a ship proximity warning device; 3) A forward-looking sonar from Interphase to try to help me stop hitting rocks and reefs; and, 4) A new diesel fuel filter system. Getting poor quality fuel at both Jamaica and the Marquesas Islands resulted in my Yanmar fuel injector pump being ruined. I now have the Fuel-Boss dual diesel filter cleaning system for the main tank, and the Filter Boss fuel filter and polishing system for my fuel transfer pump."

The Parasailor spinnaker is the invention of a top-fight German sailor who is also a paraglider. The concept is to shift the center of pressure on the sail to reduce rolls, yaws and pitches. In addition, thanks to a variable opening 'hole' in the middle of the spinnaker, it's supposedly capable of being carried in stronger winds. We've yet to see any of these sails in the United States, but 14 or so entries in last year's Atlantic Rally for Cruisers carried them.

Speaking of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) — the 2,700-mile event that leaves the Canary Islands in late November and arrives in St. Lucia in mid-December — just 10 of the 225 entries are Americans. Only one of them, James Eaton's Belvedere-based Hallberg-Rassy 43 Blue Heron, is from the West Coast. The appreciation of the euro versus the dollar is no doubt a big reason for the decrease in U.S. entries in recent years. The fact that the Canadian 'loonie' has reached par with the dollar would also explain why that little country has seven entries in the ARC.

"Ten years ago this month, I sailed Knot Yet, my Gulf 32 pilothouse sloop, beneath the Golden Gate and headed to San Diego to join the Baja Ha-Ha," writes John Keen of Campbell. "Thus began 10 years of voyaging that ended in Malta this year with the sale of Knot Yet II, a Nordhavn 46 long-distance motoryacht that I'd purchased in Thailand in '01. The Ha-Ha was a great experience, and taught me the value of joining rallies. First, they get you ready to leave by a certain date no matter whether your endless list of 'to-do's has been completed or not. You just get the important stuff done and leave! Second, the camaraderie that develops by having shared experiences with so many wonderful people is fantastic. Third, plans and arrangements made by the organizers ease the planning tasks, although one is always responsible for one's own navigation and safety. Other rallies I participated in with Knot Yet were the Musket Cove-Port Vila Race from Fiji to Vanuatu in '99; the Gove Over-The-Top Rally in Australia in '01, and the Darwin to Bali Race, also in '01. Knot Yet II joined the Singapore-Equator Rally in '01; the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally in '04; and the 62-day Black Sea Yacht Rally in '04. The top three rallies were the Baja Ha-Ha, the Eastern Med Rally, and the Black Sea Rally. I sailed 15,400 miles on Knot Yet, and voyaged 14,500 miles more on Knot Yet II. While I had intended to circumnavigate, last year I decided that I just wasn't enjoying it that much anymore, and that the additional 1,000 hours at sea it would take me to complete my circumnavigation in Acapulco was more than I wanted to do. Another factor is that I'm 10 years older than when I started. I continue to read 'Lectronic Latitude in my house in Thailand as well as when I'm home in California, and I could sense the Grand Poobah's excitement when, on August 13th, he wrote: "Now is the sweetest time of the year for sailing in California, but the Ha-Ha almost makes us wish that fall would hurry up and arrive." Thanks again for the continued inspiration of Latitude and the 'get-started experience of the Ha-Ha. Oh yeah, I almost forgot the obligatory mention of the number of countries I visited and my favorites. I visited 33 countries and my favorites were Fiji in the South Pacific, Thailand in Southeast Asia, and Turkey — followed closely by Croatia — in the Med."

Thanks for the very kind words. And yes, we're really excited about the upcoming Ha-Ha and season in Mexico. Part of it is because we're joining with others to start a new sailing event in the Puerto Vallarta area, the December 7, 8 and 9 Banderas Bay Blast. The Blast is several events in one. On the surface, it's a match race challenge between John Haste's Perry 52 catamaran Little Wing for the Vallarta YC, and Profligate for the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club, to get a little cruisers's racing rivalry going between the two clubs on the bay. But everyone else with a boat is encouraged to participate, too, and however little or much as they want. The Blast will start with a Friday cruisers reaching race from Paradise Marina to the La Cruz anchorage and marina, with a blowout at ex-cruiser Philo's that night. Saturday will be another fun cruiser's race from La Cruz to Punta Mita, with the grand reopening that evening of the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club, Commodore Eugenie Russell presiding. Sunday will be the Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run for Charity from Punta Mita back to Nuevo Vallarta, where Lupe and J.R. of the Cantana 47 Moon & Stars are inviting everyone for a post-Blast party at their casita on the lagoon in Nuevo Vallarta. Other 'dark-siders' who have announced their intention to participate are Wayne and Carol Baggerly of the Brisbane-based custom 45 Capricorn Cat, Dave Crowe and his Vallarta-based M&M 70 Humu-Humu, Mai Dolce and her Belvedere-based Marquesas 56 Dolce Vita, and several others. While there will be a number of cats sailing, absolutely everyone is encouraged to participate, no matter how many hulls their boats have. If you don't have a boat, donations to a good charity should get you a berth. We're hoping that this will be the biggest and least serious cruising regatta ever on Banderas Bay. Details to come.

"We recently saw your posting on a Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) bulletin board item regarding the clipping that occurs on some Icom 802 SSB radios," write Roger and Patricia Bruce of the Hylas 49 Iolea. "We're presently in Singapore, well into our circumnavigation, but have had no end to our clipping problems with our 802. We FedEx-ed the unit back to Icom in Washington earlier in the year, but it still clips. Do you have any suggestions on how to get this resolved?"

It's our understanding that Icom came up with an initial modification, but later learned it didn't solve the problem. A second 'mod' wasn't the ultimate fix either, so they now have a third one which reportedly takes care of all the issues. Our 802 got one of the early 'mods', so Icom suggested we send our radio back a second time. We think they're on top of the problem now, and suggest you contact them to find out whether or not you got the final 'mod'.

If you checked out the September 19 'Lectronic, the Photo of the Day was of Aron, a young Hungarian man who had sailed his somewhat weather beaten 19-ft Carnia all the way from Europe to the Marquesas. According to Liz Clark of the Santa Barbara-based Cal 40 Swell, who took his photo and sent in the brief report, it had taken Aron 52 days to make the 3,000-mile passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas. We salute Aron for his big achievements with such a little boat! As for Liz, she's been kicking around the Marquesas and Tuamotus, looooving the cruising life and the almost empty waves at certain secret surfing spots. In fact, based on her latest stream-of-consciousness writings — which we plan to publish next month — Liz may be starting to 'go native'. While at White's Landing last month, we bumped into Liz's parents on their Gulfstar 50. They told us that when Liz was young, she'd so completely throw herself into physical activities that she'd come to the dinner table exhausted. After a minute or two, she'd nod off, her head falling face first into her mac & cheese. They say she really hasn't changed that much.

"You may not remember me," writes Richard Fieber of Fort Meyers, Florida, "but I still have my '95-'96 Ha-Ha T-shirt — even though I actually made my 18-day passage to Cabo before the start of the then two-year-old event. I'd gone down a couple of weeks early aboard Kiwi, my 42-ft kauri wood ketch. Unfortunately, I would lose her a few months later off Nicaragua. After flagging down some shark fishermen for much-needed water 10 miles offshore, I started to tack down the coast in a strong papagayo. When I got in to about four miles from the coast and it was time to tack, I fell asleep. The next thing I knew, the boat had gone up on a reef near Sandino! The waves were about four feet, so my boat was damaged beyond repair almost immediately. So I grabbed my cat and important papers, stuffed them inside my jacket, and made my way through the surf to the shore. My cat jumped out, ran down the beach, and I never did see her again. I got into the jungle at the water's edge about 4 a.m. and started walking to some distant lights. I was afraid that some kind of wild animal — I wasn't really sure what kind — would get me. But I made it. About four years later I got my current boat, the Irwin 33 My Brother's Keeper. I christened her that because I've done a bunch of missionary work in Mexico and Central America. My goal is to help people who live in houses with just one light and no running water, of which there are many in Mexico and Central America. I also want to help communities where they do things like put the outhouse at the top of the hill and a sewage-contaminated community well at the bottom. Anyway, I'm writing because I invented the world's greatest windscoop, one that actually works when it's blowing. If anyone is interested, they can reach me at or .

"It's finally happening!" reports Robert Watson of Carmichael. "I'm nine years into my five-year plan to cruise the world, a seeming contradiction that can be explained by work and women getting in the way. But now they are all over and done with — I think. In any event, my Leopard 40 catamaran Changing Spots, the baby cousin to the popular Leopard 45s and 47s, is currently being built in South Africa. I don't get to take delivery and move aboard until after she's featured at the Miami Boat Show next February. I'm coming down in the boat world from three hulls to two, and will no longer get to rely on training wheels. I recently sold my Corsair F27 trimaran Three Play, which I'd owned for 20 years. Built in '87, she was the first F27 in Northern California for a long time, and we used her extensively around the Bay and Delta, as well as Southern California, Lake Tahoe and even Baja. She was a lot of fun screaming across The Slot at 15 knots — even singlehanded. Now she'll be going to the relatively gentle waters of Southern California."

If you're headed south, you're going to want to make an investment in boat cards to pass out to all the new friends you're going to make. Naturally, you're going to include your name, boat name, boat type and hailing port, as well as your phone, satphone, email, and SSB/ham/Sailmail/Winlink address. Lots of folks like to get really creative with their cards, using all kinds of exotic types and bolds and italics. Don't! Too often such cards are so 'creative' nobody — particularly those without reading glasses — can read them. So keep the look of your boat cards clear and simple. Another mistake people make is putting photos of their boats on their cards. We understand that they are proud of their boats, but it would be more helpful to others if they put a photo of themselves on the cards, as that's what will really help others remember you.

"We took ownership of our boat in late July of last year, just 10 weeks before we took off on our cruise," report Dan Zuiches and Danielle Dignan of the San Francisco-based Farr 44 Confetti. "It's been a fantastic whirlwind year that saw us sail 12,000 miles to Mexico, the South Pacific, and Hawaii — with us now being halfway back to San Francisco. "Our offshore average speed was 6.5 knots, we only burned 300 gallons of diesel in the whole year, and despite seven crew changes were able to stick to a rigorous schedule." Much more from Dan and Danielle next month.

Next month we're also going to have a great report from the Hinson family — dad Dale, mom Dawn, Danielle, 11, and Darby, 10 — who converted their 22-year-old Long Beach-based Olson 40 Pythagoras into a family cruising boat. Starting with the Ha-Ha, which they loved, they did a 10-month, 4,000-mile cruise, which they loved even more. As a preview for their piece in the next issue, we'll leave you with this description of one of the highlights of their trip:

"We'd just left the dock at La Paz, and our engine died, leaving us adrift in the channel with no way to maneuver," writes Dale. "I decided that I would grab a line and swim it to the dock, then pull the boat in. My wife thought it would be a better idea if I stayed on the boat — she was right — and that she would swim the line in. "No," our 11-year-old daughter Danielle quickly said, "I'm a better swimmer than mom, I'll do it". With that, she grabbed the line, dove in – clothes and all – and swam the line to the dock, where she and a man pulled our boat back to safety. It was so awesome to see our young daughter act so bravely and selflessly to save our family and boat, and great for her to have the chance to be a 'hero'. I don't think she'll ever forget it."

"Last month the sea turtles found a quiet spot on the beach just east of the panga marina at Punta Mita to lay their eggs," reports Kati Milleson, who lives in a condo on the beach. "In one day, the local marines and I helped collect 1,300 eggs from the 15 nests along our stretch of beach. We took the eggs to a sanctuary for protection. If left on the beach, the locals would have taken them because they are considered to be valuable aphrodisiacs. Once the little guys hatch, they'll be returned to the same stretch of beach for launching back into the ocean."

"It's terrific that the eggs are being protected, because there's few cooler things than seeing a turtle on the ocean while sailing, or even better, crossing paths with a big one while snorkeling. A few years ago we visited a sanctuary near Paradise Village Marina, where they launched 50,000 day-old turtles each year. That sounds like a lot, but infant turtle mortality runs about 95%. Richard Bernard of the Hawaii and Anacortes-based Valiant 40 Surf Ride reports that turtle egg preservation efforts in Hawaii have resulted in a big comeback for turtles in the Islands, too.

Oh baby, the new cruising season is almost on us, and we're jacked! The only thing that could make us happier is if you folks remember to send us mini reports and high res photos.

Missing the pictures? See the October 2007 eBook!


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