With reports this months from
Windraker during the height of hurricane
Kenna at Paradise Village; from Scirocco
on Panama; from Wind Rover on the
Chesapeake Bay; from Solstice on
time on a boat in the South Pacific; from Maverick
on the Rock of Gibraltar; from Wings
on resuming cruising in Vanuatu; from Siren's
Song in Golfito, Costa Rica; from Reliance
on transmission trouble in Costa Rica, and lots of Cruise
Windraker - Mason 43
Hurricane Kenna At Paradise Marina
I happened to return to my boat at Paradise Village Marina just
36 hours before hurricane Kenna hit on the morning of October
25. Graziano, the 67-year-old owner of the resort, and Harbormaster
Dick Markie, were impressive for the ferocity with which they
prepared the hotel, marina, and boats for the possibility of
extreme wind and waves. What follows is the log I wrote during
the peak of the storm.
October 25, 2002, 10:00 a.m. - These are certainly the most pleasurable
50-knot winds that I've had on Windraker. There's no pitching
or yawing, just a lot of rolling back and forth. I am snug in
a nest of lines in the middle of two finger piers large enough
to hold Profligate - which means we're not going anywhere. The
wind is howling through the rigging. It's much too wet to go
up on deck to check the wind instruments, but the last time I
looked it was a sustained 45-50 knots. The four large piers between
me and the harbor opening have been evacuated because of violent
winds and bucking cement docks, but it is relatively quiet back
here in the hinterland known as 'Tepic'. The large mall nearby
has set up folding chairs in the basement garage for cruisers
who don't want to stay on their boats. They are gathered there
in small groups in the dim light from the exit ramp. There is
I have been listening to the Chubasco Net weather report, and
right now the eye is at 21°1' 105°1'. Since I'm at 20°4'
105°2', I'm roughly 40 miles from the center of Kenna. She
is moving away from its closest point of approach to us and toward
San Blas further north on the Mexican mainland. The weather guys
are strangely but noticeably proud - you can hear it in their
voices - that Kenna has such high winds. I had a complete adrenaline
burst when they gave the wind speeds in kilometers per hour,
as it was well into the 200s!
The surf is very high and has crashed upon and broken many of
the large glass panel/windows that once separated the hotel,
pools and restaurants from the beach. Fortunately, the panels
are made from some sort of safety glass that collapses into a
pile of rubble. About 20 laborers are out there now unscrewing
the remaining panels, being personally supervised by Señor
Graziano, my hero. There's only one problem - they are about
a day too late. The workers' heads and arms poke through black
Hefty-style leaf bags, which they wear instead of raincoats.
On the beach, the water has come so high that hard water-packed
sand extends hundreds of feet, all the way up to the restaurants.
Thousands of sand crabs scurry in all directions - more from
the attack from workers than from Kenna. They've seen Kennas
for the last 100,000 years.
The VHF net is rife with emotion. There are all sorts of voices,
some with practiced calm, some high-pitched and anxious. And
there are escalating emotional 'wonderings' about what will happen
- to the point that when someone suggests an improbable event,
it quickly becomes a question of when it's going to happen.
We were told to disconnect our electrical lines so they would
not fall in the water "and fry our electronics." Fry?
As in the electric chair? If the lines disconnect from the dock
rather than the boat, aren't they dead already?
It was announced that a white cat has fled the boat Long Tall
Sally. It disappeared into Graziano's new condo construction
site, and cannot be found. Its name is Jade, but the owner says
it "refuses to answer to it."
A huge lightning flash spooked me when I was up on deck checking
the wind. I felt like I was in its cone - especially when the
immediate crash of sound seemed to come from a few boats away.
Naturally - and stupidly - I was in bare feet. Like Graziano's
workers with the glass panels, I, too, closed the barn door by
slipping on my one-inch thick black rubber Tevas. Once I had
them on, I felt the odds had dropped that the lightning would
strike again. Numerous sirens wail in the distance.
The barometer bottomed at 29.35 at 9 a.m. It's now 10:30 a.m.
and it's up to 29.53. Since we are on the weak southeast side
of the northward-heading storm, the worst is probably over.
- john 11/05/02
Readers - Folks with boats in Banderas
Bay marinas can thank their lucky stars that Kenna, one of the
strongest Mexican hurricanes in history, did not come close enough
to hit them with hurricane force winds, and what wind there was
didn't last but a short time. We'll leave them to imagine what
it must have been like when hurricane Lenny parked between St.
Martin and St. Barts for three days a few years ago, with winds
packing four times the force!
Scirocco - Morgan Out-Island 41
Greg Retkowski & Cherie Sogsti
Before we arrived in Panama on October 18 - almost exactly 500
years after Columbus - I (Cherie) only knew two things about
the country: 1) It has the Canal, and 2) Van Halen sang a great
song about it. Although prostitution is legal in both Costa Rica
and Panama, that's pretty much where the similarities end. As
we sailed from Costa Rica to Panama, I watched the coastline
change. The jungle began to spill like a waterfall down to the
sea, and the landscape became hot, steamy, and passionate. If
I were a country, I'd want Panama to be my lover.
The weather is pretty much the same in Panama, which means there's
lots of thunder and lightning. Thunder is an awful thing, as
it alerts you to the fact that a storm awaits you. When there's
a bolt of lightning nearby, the thunder shakes the boat as though
it were the footsteps of an approaching giant. With the approach
of a bad thunderstorm, Greg checked the satellite telephone to
make sure it was working. Safety first, you know. If Scirocco
started doing acrobatics on the ocean, we wanted to be able to
call the Coast Guard so they could come and watch.
"You've got another message on the sat phone," Greg
"How do you know it's for me?" I asked.
"Because my friends don't send weird messages on the sat
phone. This one says, "Twas in the tropic latitudes, while
we were talking platitudes, as any sailor might / We forgot to
take our longitude, which was a very grievous wrongitude / And
made us miss the Hong Kongitude till very late that night."
Weird. I still don't know who wrote that message. I hope someone
fesses up - and that it's one of Greg's friends!
It was in the middle of this storm that we ran into another problem
- bad gas. When you buy fuel in Central America, part of it is
often water. Not being able to start the engine in the middle
of a tropical tempest sucks. It's right up there with running
out of ice when your refrigerator doesn't work - which would
be our next problem.
As we beat into the storm, the sky was a spectacle. With each
slash of lightning, the heavens were briefly shattered by light,
then turned black to repair themselves. The clouds were a sickly
black and blue, so that the sky appeared as though it had been
beaten to a pulp. We got our worst thrashings when the clouds
looked like that. Fortunately, I've learned to take minor storms
in stride, knowing that what gets snapped will eventually be
mended - with duct tape. And what gets bruised will eventually
heal - except for my books, which are all puffed up and look
as though I've read three times as much as I really have.
Although the storm had passed, I picked up the Panamanian mantra
- 'Another day, another storm'. Then I noticed something swimming
next to the boat.
"Look Greg, a water snake."
"I've seen a bunch of those," he replied, totally unimpressed.
"Did you want to share the news with me?" I said sarcastically.
"I thought the snake would worry you. And see, I was right.
"Aren't most water snakes poisonous?"
"Probably. Just don't let one bite you."
Since I don't speak 'snake', I don't know how to tell snakes
not to bite me. Guidebooks are never helpful with these things
either. They say stuff like, "This type of snake will only
attack when you have entered its territory." That would
be helpful - if only snakes posted signs identifying their territory.
Nonetheless, from that moment on I put myself on 24-hour 'snake
watch', and my snorkeling was no longer as carefree as it had
After 28 hours of sailing, we were ready for a swim. Our first
stop in Panama was Isla Canal de Afuera, a tropical paradise
that is part of a Panamanian national park - and also hosts a
penal colony. An island crawling with water snakes and criminals
screams 'adventure'! My kind of place. We decided to take the
risk of exploring it, because the island was also loaded with
palm trees and colorful shells, and was surrounded by water as
clear and innocent as an infant's eyes.
The Panama Cruiser's Guide suggests using care when visiting
the island because sometimes the prisoners escape. So when I
saw four raggedy-looking Panamanian guys in a fishing boat motoring
over to us while we were lying on the beach, I was a little scared.
"What do you think they want?" Greg asked.
"To kill us and steal Scirocco to flee the country,"
There was no cause for worry, however, as they only wanted money.
As in $30 to visit the island, because it was a national park.
That was a little too steep for our budget, so we set out in
search of other tropical islands - preferably ones that don't
have a surcharge for watersnakes.
A short time later, we landed on Isla Goberadora. When I say
landed, I mean landed, as Greg hadn't read the chart that would
have informed us that the tide range is 20 feet in this part
of Panama. In hindsight, dropping our anchor was silly, as after
30 minutes it was clear that we weren't going anywhere soon.
So we took the opportunity to paddle ashore and explore the island.
The village was primitive, raw and honest. The locals were as
native-looking as they could be, almost as though they were expecting
National Geographic to drop by.
We wandered around the island exploring the simple fishing huts
and looking for various supplies that we needed. The only thing
we could find on our list was bread. Can you believe they didn't
have pancake mix or Diet Coke? There were three 'stores' on the
island, and going inside each of them was like shopping out of
someone else's musty pantry. It was dark inside, so I asked the
woman if she could turn on a light. I couldn't even see her face
because it was so dark, but I could see her teeth and she was
laughing. The town doesn't have electricity.
Greg and I let our eyes adjust to the absence of light, but we
still couldn't see what the store offered. So we bought some
baked goods. As a bonus, the shopkeeper included some mold with
our bread - although we didn't learn about it until we got back
to the boat. "That's okay," I told Greg, "there's
is plenty of mold on the boat already to keep it company."
Greg doesn't understand why I don't like mold. He thinks if I
like blue cheese dressing on my salad, I should like all mold.
Yeah. Enjoying certain well-aged cheeses isn't quite the same
as scraping whatever is growing on the shower curtain and munching
No one on the island had ice, but we came across the owner of
a little fishing boat who was happy to share his fish ice with
us. He paddled out to his boat in a dugout canoe, loaded a sack
of ice, and delivered it to us. But he wouldn't accept any money
for it. We insisted, and he finally took some 'Balboas'. Panama
uses U.S. dollars, but they call them Balboas. Greg wasn't that
happy about it, having become used to seeing his bank account
in Costa Rican 'colonies' - which suggested that he was 370 times
wealthier than he really was.
All provisioned and explored out, it was time to sail away. Unfortunately,
we couldn't because there was still no water under the boat.
The residents of the island were incredibly nice, but I'm sure
they were shaking their heads at us as though we were fools.
"Silly white people stuck on the beach again," they
were probably thinking. Nonetheless, my memories of this unspoiled
island will remain unblemished - despite the moldy bread and
ice that stunk of fish.
- cherie 11/04/02
Wild Rover - Cal 34 MKIII
Mike & Gail Cannady
In the last two years, we've sailed down from the Pacific Northwest,
done the Ha-Ha, gone through the Canal, and up to the East Coast
of the United States. This summer we spent 2.5 months cruising
the Chesapeake Bay - and enjoyed the best cruising we've had
Maybe it's because there wasn't any pressure to get anywhere,
but overall the Chesapeake greatly exceeded our expectations.
The sailing was great, the anchorages were scenic and close together,
the little towns were picturesque, the people were extremely
friendly, and we didn't have any boat problems. The water was
shallow, however, so once again we were thankful that our boat
only draws 4.5 feet. We did run aground, but the bottom was always
mud, so the occasional grounding wasn't critical.
While in the Chesapeake, we constantly wondered where all the
other boats were, for usually ours was the only boat in the anchorage.
The answer seems to be that other cruisers stay in marinas -
which we tend to avoid. There was also surprisingly little big
ship traffic - but lots of little commercial watermen, sportfishing
boats, and thousands of crab traps.
Our favorite places were Solomon Island, St. Michaels, Annapolis,
and the central Eastern Shore. We were 'adopted' by some locals
in Nandua Creek, Eastern Virginia, who gave us the local knowledge
necessary to come in and wait out tropical storm Gustav. They
treated us to blue crab feeds, fresh produce, and all the local
amenities. Now we'll never be able to pass their creek without
going to visit.
Being West Coast born and raised, we have thoroughly enjoyed
being American history tourists. Our current plans are to head
down the ICW, spending Thanksgiving in the Cape Fear area, and
Christmas in Charleston. Then we'll sail across to the Bahamas
or down to Florida and then across, depending on the weather.
We truly hated the ICW, but it still beats ocean passages in
bad weather. The ICW is so shallow that powerboat wakes and passing
tugs and barges are problematic. Some parts have been scenic,
but others just look like a big ditch with tree stumps.
Next year we hope to make a long passage from the Bahamas to
New York or Nova Scotia as early as the weather allows. Eventually
we will go back and circumnavigate the Caribbean, and maybe go
on to Europe, but for right now this feels right.
By the way, we're now up to four solar panels and a wonderful
KISS wind generator. A wind generator in the Bahamas is wonderful,
since the wind never really stops blowing. Yes, it's a lot of
equipment on a 34-ft boat and we'll never again look racing sleek,
but it makes us self-sufficient and now we can choose whether
to go into a marina or not. We had thought about our energy needs
before we started, but until you reach the tropics, it's hard
to predict what you'll really need.
- mike & gail 10/15/02
Solstice - Freya 39
Jim & Eleanor Hancock
Palmerston Atoll to Niue
It's October 3, and we're having splendid sailing at nearly 7.0
knots using our 3/4 oz genniker while on our way from Palmerston
Atoll to Niue. Eleanor has been reading a novel by Annie Proulx,
while I have been studying a text about upper level weather analysis.
As we're getting closer to our potentially rough 1,100-mile passage
from Tonga to New Zealand, we've been getting progressively more
interested in the weather. This morning we got the schedule for
Russell Radio out of New Zealand, one source of up-to-the-minute
information for that crossing. Unfortunately, deciphering the
schedule might require a Ph.D, and I only have a Masters.
Folks thinking about going cruising might be interested in time.
We have two official clocks. One keeps the ship's time, which
we leave set to the time zone of our last port of departure -
regardless of any time zones we might cross. This simplifies
our watch-keeping schedule and maintains continuity in our log
entries. Our ship's time is currently set to Tahiti time. The
other clock is set to UTC time, which is an abbreviation of the
French for Universal Coordinated Time - also known as Greenwich
Mean Time or Zulu time. We use this clock primarily for keeping
radio schedules, which are at fixed times regardless of what
time zone we are in.
As we sail west, we cross into a new time zone for every 15°
of longitude. The time zone that we are currently using for our
ship's time is UTC minus 10 hours. When we get to Niue, which
is at almost 170° W, we will change that to UTC minus 11
hours. The International Date Line is nominally at 180°,
but makes a jog to incorporate Tonga, parts of New Zealand, and
some other stuff. While it's Thursday here, it's already Friday
on the other side of that line.
Russell Radio comes up every day at 0800 New Zealand time. But
down here, we just passed the Vernal Equinox, and they have Daylight
Saving Time. Like the Northern Hemisphere, they 'spring forward'
and 'fall back'. That happens on Sunday, which is really Saturday,
with their time at UTC plus 13 hours - which then becomes UTC
plus 14 hours. So what time do I tune up my radio on Saturday
to get Russell Radio?
I'm at the end of my 0300 - 0600 watch, and we are now motorsailing
with less than 30 miles to go to the island-nation of Niue. This
is one of our last stops on our South Pacific tour before heading
to New Zealand for the southern hemisphere summer. On watch I
have been thinking about all the little projects that we have
to do in New Zealand. Other than pulling the stick and doing
a thorough review of all the rigging, most of the work is cosmetic
maintenance necessitated by our last six months of cruising in
the tropics: painting, varnishing, and that kind of thing.
We're the sixth owners of this boat. We made an offer on her
while she was in Isla Mujeres on the Caribbean coast of Mexico,
and sailed with her previous owners to Galveston. After that
I shipped her to Portland, where I was living at the time, and
did things like paint the topsides and replace the engine. In
1998, Eleanor started working at West Marine in the Bay Area
to help acquire all kinds of extra gear for the boat and I started
doing additional projects. We've been very happy with all the
improvements, but in hindsight think we would have been just
fine without all the gadgets. The one indispensable piece of
equipment has been the Monitor windvane.
We have done about 10,000 miles of cruising so far, and expect
we'll continue for another year or two. By the way, if anybody
knows more about the history of our boat - she was built by Gannon
and originally owned by Hugo Schriener of San Diego, who named
her Harmony - please let us know.
- jim & eleanor 10/20/92
Jim and Eleanor - We know all about
your boat. Gannon actually just built the hull, as she was finished
off - beautifully, if we remember correctly - by Schriener, who
was something of a perfectionist. We remember sailing aboard
Harmony one chilly November
day in San Diego, when Hugo forgot to tighten the topping lift
before dropping the main. He nearly coldcocked one of the lady
guests. Ouch! A large man, Schriener abandoned his cruising dreams
and took up racing, achieving great success as crew on Stars.
If we remember correctly, he was crew on the World Champion boat
Maverick - Ericson 39
Tony Johnson and Terry Shrode
It's early October, it's 74°, and we're berthed in a marina
in the shadow of the Rock of Gibraltar. Obviously, this is a
major milestone, as we are about to leave the Med. But first,
let me bring you up to date.
We were last at Puerto Colom on Spain's Balearic Island of Mallorca,
and on our way to Ibiza. Ibiza was just fine, but it was not
the den of iniquity we had been led to believe. There is a robust
bar scene at the harbor, and some women do go topless at the
beaches. It is no doubt ungallant of the Captain to propose that
appearing topless in public areas - like the current fad inspired
by our girl Britney of revealing a few inches just above and
below the navel - is not the wisest fashion choice for every
woman. Or man. But there it is. There also may be some strip
joints in Ibiza. I don't know, we rarely stay up that late. Like
Mr. Shrode says, "I'm not 50 anymore, you know."
I took a ferry trip over to Formentera, which is a small island
next to Ibiza. This island had been highly recommended - albeit
30 years ago - by my friend Lowell Turner. At the time, Mr. Turner
was the co-host, along with another friend, Kip Sullivan, of
a radio show called Jack and Harriet's Pie Shop. Unfortunately,
the radio business is a brutal one. When last I heard, Mr. Turner
had been forced to take a professor's chair at Cornell University
to earn his keep, and Kip had become a lawyer. How the mighty
Should I have the good fortune to see my old friend's face again,
I would have to report that Formentera now has the highest number
of motor scooter rentals per square inch of anywhere in the world.
They also have a hippie market, which is highly touted, so Ship's
Purchasing Agent Terry Shrode made me go to see what a decent
hippie costs nowadays. It seems only yesterday that hippies were
a dime a dozen, but one fears that the supply has diminished.
Alas, so has the demand, so the hippie market was a bit sad.
Only a trace of patchouli in the air brought a frisson of past
glory to the Captain's heart.
Departing Ibiza, we motored every inch of the way to Gibraltar,
stopping to anchor overnight at Motril, an unpleasantly fragrant
town on the south coast of Spain. Our intention was to travel
to Granada, but we found reservations were necessary. We only
knew we were approaching Gibraltar by the numbers on our GPS,
for a thick fog had developed. We certainly would have preferred
to see that famous landmark from afar and reflect on the symbolism
of our proximity to it, but it was not to be. So thick was the
fog that the Captain perched himself on the bow to watch and
listen for traffic. We slowed down and sounded our horn at the
prescribed intervals because, as the reader may remember, we
had no radar, which was a victim of the lightning in Greece.
Once I heard an engine, and shouted back to Mr. Shrode, at the
helm, that there was a vessel at 'two o'clock', broad on the
starboard bow. I peered through the mist and was able to make
out a dark shape perhaps an eighth of a mile away. About 10 seconds
later, a supertanker came out of the fog and took up the entire
horizon. The dark shape I'd seen had been its rudder - we were
about 75 feet from it. "Hard to port!" I shouted, and
by the time I did, I realized it was at anchor. It was a little
unsettling to know just how far we couldn't see. We slowed down
even more and headed further inshore, thinking we'd avoid any
heavy traffic. As such, we felt our way around Europa Point and
into the Bay of Gibraltar.
As Africa and Europe form two opposing pincers at the end of
the Mediterranean Sea, it would appear on a typical world map
that they face each other from sharp points of land. I had visualized
Gibraltar as being on the north side, and the mountains of Morocco
on the south. But a larger-scale map will show that the Strait
of Gibraltar is an asymmetrical slot about 30 miles long, which
narrows to 8 miles in width between Point Marroquí (Spain)
and Point Cires (Morocco). On the northeast corner of the slot
is a bay shaped like a horseshoe on a wall, the west side of
which is glued to the land, leaving the eastern side to form
a peninsula about three-quarters of a mile wide. The southern
three miles of this peninsula is occupied by the British colony
The Rock extends for about two of these three miles, and on its
western flank is the city and port of Gibraltar. It would not
be visible from the open sea on most approaches. We were lucky
to find a berth at one of the three marinas here. We're situated
about 500 feet from the runway of the airport, but there aren't
that many flights, so it doesn't bother our repose. Apparently,
there are several plane wrecks off the end of the runway, right
in the anchorage, that are popular dive sites.
With us here are Red Sea compadres Delphis, L'Oasis, Stitches
Explorer, Karma, Otter, and Francis on Okiva. We saw
the scar on Francis' head where he took 23 stitches after a fall
across the large cabin of Okiva in heavy weather off of
Sicily. He spent five days in the hospital.
The city of Gibraltar, along with the Rock, is the most interesting
place we've been in the Med. For one thing, it's part British
and part Spanish. They have a language of their own, but many
residents are bilingual. There are several proper pubs in town
with pub food and Newcastle Brown on tap. There are British ceremonies,
and the Queen's likeness appears on the 20 pound note - although
the money is slightly different than the English sort. The entire
area is chock-a-block with historical sites and places of interest
to the geologist.
Yesterday we took a cable car to the top of the Rock. It's solid
limestone, and there is a cave in it that rivals any I've seen
for stalactites and stalagmites. There are 32 miles of tunnels
made by armed forces of various eras up to World War II. That's
a lot of miles in a two-mile rock. There are also many so-called
'Barbary Apes', which are really a tailless, terrestrial macaque
(Macaca sylvana). They have a free run of the place, à
la Bali. At the southern tip of The Rock is a 9.2-inch gun that
can fire a 380-pound shell all the way past the shores of Morocco
- which is more than 13 miles away!
But these things are of small consequence compared to the view.
Looking out on the vista brings one of the rare moments in this
voyage where there is some sense of the weight of our whole undertaking.
In Tahiti, you must pinch yourself. You sailed all the way to
the South Pacific. The Torres Strait. The South China Sea. Borneo.
Ceylon. The Red Sea. The Suez Canal. The recounting of it suggests
drama, but like life at home, this usually gets lost in concerns
over the everyday.
Now you look south and can see the mountains of Morocco across
the Strait. To the east is the Mediterranean Sea you've just
traversed, to the west, the large Bay of Gibraltar, full of ships
from all over the world. And out to the southwest there is an
ominous yet seductive haze reaching through the throat of the
Strait out into the void, the beginning of the same great Atlantic
Ocean that heaves itself onto the shores of Cape Canaveral, and
Myrtle Beach, and Kitty Hawk, and Asbury Park, and Coney Island,
and New Bedford, in America.
- tony 10/15/02
Wings - Serendipity 43
Fred Roswold & Judy Jensen
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Having not checked in for a long time, here's what we've been
up to. Since our last cruising season - which was in 2000 - we
spent 18 months in Sydney, where we completed a significant refit
on Wings while working at regular jobs in the city to
finance the work. The low point might have been July 2001, when
Wings - minus her keel, rudder, mast, deck hardware, and
interior - was sitting on a large truck tire in a darkened shed
at Noakes Shipyard. At the time, we were living in an apartment
in the city. Nonetheless, she all came back together by the end
of that year, and in March of this year we were ready to cruise
again. We departed Coff's Harbor in July to start an extensive
cruise that will take us through New Caledonia, Vanuatu, the
Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Palau, the Philippines, and
end in Hong Kong in May 2003.
The east coast of Australia proved to be as wild as its reputation,
as we twice encountered winds over 40 knots that hadn't been
forecast. Fortunately, they were aft of the beam both times,
so we made the best of a rough situation by reaching quickly
to the northeast and New Caledonia.
As far as we're concerned, New Caledonia is a underappreciated
cruising destination. We loved the Loyalty Islands, and found
beautiful anchorages without any other cruising boats on the
east coast of 'New Cal'. We think a whole season could be spent
circumnavigating the country - although the new 30-day limit
on visas for Americans is making it more difficult to arrange
longer stays. On our trip back through Havannah Pass, we had
40-50 knot winds. They were from aft, so once again we had some
pretty awesome sailing. But enough of those high winds, as Judy
doesn't care for much more of them. So we're looking forward
to easier sailing.
We took advantage of Vanuatu's new port-of-entry at Lenekal on
Tanna Island, and visited Port Resolution for a trip to the Yassur
volcano. It's obvious that lawyers and insurance companies don't
have much influence in Vanuatu, as each day groups of cruisers
and tourists are escorted to the rim of the actively erupting
volcano. Everyone gets to watch lava spout out of the vents on
the crater floor - with some of the molten lava flying hundreds
of feet into the air!
Since leaving Tanna we have spent over a month in Port Vila,
Vanuatu's bustling capital - and we're still here. On Sundays
they have a local yacht race, and once again we took part - as
we did when we were here two years ago. Once again we recruited
a great pick-up crew from cruisers and locals, which included
Wendy and Garth from the Seattle-based Velella, Ed and
Rachel of Horai, Richard and Walter of Breakaway,
Links of Belle Savage, Martin and Christy of Wind Runner,
and Dick, Timo, and Moulon, three Ni-Vanuatu men who had never
If it had just been Judy and I, or maybe one other couple, we
would have done the race without practice. But with 14 people
- some of whom had never sailed before - we felt we needed practice
the day before the real thing. It was awkward and uncomfortable
when we first put the sails up, but after an hour we were tacking
and jibing smoothly, flying the spinnaker - and feeling really
good about ourselves. There is something special about the change
that happens to a group when so many people from diverse backgrounds
and skills join together as a crew. We all felt it as we lined
the rail, the warm evening breeze in our faces, while powering
upwind. Even Wings seemed to feel it, as she pointed higher
and sailed faster than ever in those 20-knot winds. Of course,
14 people on the rail didn't hurt.
We sailed well on race day, too. Carrying the big kite in 30
knots of wind and ocean swells on the downwind leg was thrilling
- perhaps too thrilling for some. But it went fine. It would
have been better if we could have held off Flojo, an Elliott
45 from New Zealand. We had them at the start and later got them
back at the mark, but then they were gone. But it was still fun.
In fact, it took us back to Seattle when we had lived in a marina
and had a nearly normal life with jobs and a car, friends and
family. We almost thought we should stay in Port Vila, settle
down, and resume racing every week.
But no, as soon we'll be off for the next island country as we
wind our way across the equator and into the North Pacific again
after four years down under. We aren't sure if we'll stick exactly
to our plan, but maybe we'll be able to send a report on the
racing scene in Hong Kong.
- fred & judy 11/15/02
- Brewer 43
Ruck & Linde Goldreyer
Golfito, Costa Rica
We spent a month in Golfito, a great small town of 3,000 at the
edge of the tropical rainforest in southern Costa Rica. Up until
1985, Golfito pretty much was a banana republic, as it served
as the regional headquarters for the United Fruit Company. Nowadays,
it's a good place to provision, has a good duty-free zone with
some of the lowest prices in Costa Rica, and nice people.
We kept Siren Song on a mooring off Banana Bay Marina,
which is run by Bruce and Peggy Blevins, a couple in their 30s.
Banana Bay, which has 20 slips, extends tremendous courtesy and
help to the cruising community at reasonable prices. For example,
they have eight moorings for $10 a night or $260 a month, and
a dinghy dock. Slips, mostly used by sportfishing boats, are
more dear. It's $1.25/ft/night or $16/ft/month. It's also possible
to anchor out at no charge, and there are often five to 15 sailboats
on the hook. One thing we like is that Banana Bay's restaurant
menu has been greatly expanded. Rather than being limited to
a 'cheeseburger in paradise', you can also order the perfect
pastrami sandwich or the best chicken wings to be had outside
Folks in Mexico will be envious to know that it only costs $35
to clear a boat into Costa Rica, and that goes to the Agriculture
Department. Oh, there's also a sort of mandatory 50-cents per
person contribution to the Red Cross. For boats leaving, there
is a new zarpe tax of $20 for boats under 50 feet, and $50 for
boats over 50 feet. We've heard that up until about six years
ago there was an official known as 'Rambo' who made life miserable
for cruisers, and to a large extent ruined the reputation of
Golfito. He's long gone, and most of the officials are pleasant
We left Golfito about midnight, but didn't get far, as there
was a problem with the oil sending unit in our diesel. Despite
our returning at 0100, Bruce was waiting on the dock, flashlight
shining through near zero-visibility caused by pouring rain,
making space available to us. Since Ruck needed to fly back to
the States for a few weeks, we were concerned about Linde being
alone on the boat. We need not have worried, as the area was
patrolled throughout the night by a guard in a panga from the
Banana Bay Marina, as well as by Land and Sea Services, which
is next door. The security was fantastic.
By the way, Tim and Katie Leachman of Land and Sea Services also
have a lot to offer cruisers, rounding out the services and amenities
in the area. Tim is originally from Santa Barbara and Newport
Beach, but sailed here in '93 with Katie aboard the sloop Caribee.
They fell in love with the place, and now provide yacht services,
deliveries, and other help.
Golfito continues to grow, as there is a new Internet cafe with
high speed access, and plans for another marina with about 20
slips. In fact, the guy intending to build the new marina had
keep his boat at Banana Bay for three years, so he knows and
likes the area. Golfito is a definite stop for fun such as world
class surfing, fishing, spelunking, kayaking, and nature loving.
It's also a good place for mariners needing machine, metal, and
canvas work. We are presently in the Secas Islands off of northern
Panama, where the water is clean, the fishing good, and the cruising
- ruck & linde 11/05/02
Readers - The above Changes was 'fortified' with additional factual
information provided to us by Bruce Blevins during a telephone
interview. Both Banana Bay and Land and Sea have websites.
Reliance - Brewer 50
The Querner Family
Tranny Trouble In Costa Rica
There's never a dull moment cruising. After leaving El Coco in
Costa Rica for a half-day run to Bahia Brasilito and Playa Conchal
- supposedly one of the country's best shell beaches - we were
visited by Murphy. As we approached the southeast beach with
18 feet of water under the keel, I shifted the engine into reverse
to drop the anchor. There was no reverse. I ran to the foredeck
and released the brake on the windlass, lowering a 75-lb Danforth
with 200 feet of chain. If you think that a boat can't have brakes,
think again. The hook grabbed and Reliance turned into
I didn't want to ruin the day, so I put off investigating the
gear problem. We enjoyed several hours on the excellent beach,
but didn't find any shells. Perhaps our 11-year-old guidebook
was a little out of date.
The next morning I opened up the floor in the pilothouse, looked
down at the rear of the gear box, and saw there was an 8-inch
space between the gearbox and the shaft. It's hard to put the
prop in reverse when the shaft isn't connected to the engine.
The problem was that the Drivesaver 504 - the red plastic plate
between the two metal flanges - had literally exploded. The prop
and shaft then cork-screwed themselves outwards until they hit
the rudder shaft. The prop has its own cavity in front of the
rudder, so there was no damage to the propeller or the monel
shaft. It's so nice to have a steel boat, as I don't want to
think about what a runaway prop could do to a foam-filled fiberglass
Anyway, there we sat, at least five miles from civilization or
telephone access. We hitched a $20 car ride with someone on the
beach to Marina Flamingo, and inquired by phone with marine suppliers
in Puntarenas about a replacement plate. It would have to come
from the States and take at least five days - plus Customs delays.
After talking to several locals, I decided to have a spacer plate
fabricated at a machine shop in Liberia, about 90 minutes away.
In order to get Reliance back to some sort of civilization,
such as Marina Flamingo, I improvised a spacer between the flange
plates, running 3/8-inch all-thread as bolts through it. Motoring
at very low rpms, we made it to Flamingo. We got the first mooring
in the second row, which the owner of the marina said would be
all right until the end of the month when the minus tides would
make it necessary to relocate.
The only reason we'd brought Reliance into the harbor
was because the outside anchorage was very rolly. At 6 p.m.,
we went ashore for a dinner that lasted two hours. As we returned
to the boat, we were stunned to find she was tilted over 60°!
The midship portholes in the side of the hull were open, and
the water was within 1 centimeter of pouring into the boat! And
low tide wasn't for another 30 minutes. We put Olivia, the lightest,
onboard to rush inside as fast as possible - which wasn't easy
with the boat heeled over so far and such a mess on the sole
- to shut the portholes. I then took my wife Sherry and oldest
daughter Martinique to shore to find shelter under the overhang
of the marina office. There had been a tropical downpour on our
way out to the boat, so everybody was drenched.
After returning alone to the boat, I gave Olivia a hand securing
the contents of cabinets and shelves, and confirmed that all
ports and hatches were cinched down tight. By this time, the
starboard ports were halfway underwater. Olivia packed some dry
clothes for Sherry and Marti, and I went back ashore so they
could get out of their soaked clothing. Sometime later, the rain
subsided enough for us three to make a run for a local bar on
the hill for some hot coffee and tea. We waited there for two
hours for Reliance to right herself.
While sitting in the bar and looking over the tide tables, we
decided to depart the harbor at the next high tide - at 2:45
a.m. At the appointed hour, Marti and I moved the boat out of
the harbor and back into the rolling bay. I am now waiting for
the weekend to end so I can leave for Liberia to hopefully get
my temporary spacer made. A brand new replacement will hopefully
be delivered by Don, a friend of Marti's, when he comes to visit.
- sven 10/5/02
"The Ericson 39 Pneuma from Seattle, which was being
cruised by Guy and Melissa Stevens, was lost on the evening of
November 19 while at anchor at South Minerva Reef," report
Peter and Susan Wolcott of the Hawaii-based SC 52 Kiapa.
"The couple, who have had the boat for seven years and who
had already sailed her to New Zealand once, are safe. Minerva
Reef is located about 250 miles from Tonga on the way to New
Zealand. It consists of two open ocean reefs that only fully
rise above the ocean surface at low tide.
"It all started on the morning of the 19th, when nine cruising
boats departed South Minerva, about 20 miles from North Minerva,
for Opua, New Zealand, leaving just two boats in the lagoon.
There were still three boats in the North Lagoon. The weather
was relatively benign, with overcast skies and 10-15 knots of
breeze. The wind was shifty, however, due to a the effects of
a stationary front. At about 2000 local time, while we paused
on the Puddle Jump frequency on our way to the Russell Radio
evening roll call, we happened to hear Guy calling for help.
We got him to an emergency frequency. Harmony, Guy and
Melissa's buddyboat, was closest to them, but didn't have their
radio on, and didn't know what happened until hours later.
"After hearing about the situation, the skippers of Scott
Free, a Hallberg-Rassy from Marblehead, Mass., Infidien,
and White Hawk up in North Minerva, jumped aboard Scott
Free and motored through the night to South Minerva. The
women and kids from those three boats stayed behind aboard White
Hawk to be the communications vessel. Once the three skippers
on Scott Free got to South Minerva, they left the boat
outside the tricky pass and dinghied into the lagoon to rescue
Guy and Melissa. Kela, a Colorado-based Sundeer 65 with
Kirk, Debbie, Braden, and Grady aboard, had been about 30 miles
from South Minerva when the mayday was issued, and were the second
boat on the scene. They took Guy and Melissa aboard. The crews
of Kela and Harmony - the latter boat being the
third on the scene - spent the next two days salvaging what they
could. We are so sorry for Guy and Melissa's loss, as they are
great folks and able cruisers. We're sure they'll be back out
here soon. The crews of Scott Free, White Hawk, Infidien,
Kela, and Harmony did everything possible to ensure
the swift and safe rescue of the Pneuma crew. We cruisers
draw comfort from that fact that there are such capable and caring
folks out here with us."
After this year's Ha-Ha finished in Cabo San Lucas, we spent
a couple of days kicking around getting the latest news. Here's
what we learned. A phony clearing service pretended to check
a few boats in, stamping their papers with a counterfeit rubber
stamp. Some Ha-Ha folks saved a bunch of money - but burned a
lot of time - doing the clearing themselves. The biggest delay
- as much as two hours - took place at Immigration. All Immigration
has to do is stamp the visa, a 30-second process at airports.
It should not take any longer at an Immigration office, so the
delay is them waiting for a 'gratuity'. Some cruisers pay it
to move the process along, others wait it out. Enrique Fernandez
del Castillo, the Director General of Marina Cabo San Lucas,
told us that he agrees with everything Latitude has written
about the proposed Escalara Nautica - or Nautical Stairway -
in Latitude or been quoted about it in the Mexico City
newspapers. Specifically, that the estimates of U.S. boats that
would use the network of marinas to come to Mexico are ridiculous,
that there's no market for the proposed marinas, and they won't
be built because there isn't the money to do it. Fernandez also
said that the plan has been bad for cruisers and marinas because
environmentalists are going crazy in the mistaken belief that
up to 70,000 U.S. boats will be coming to the Sea of Cortez each
year. Yeah, right! As a result of the rise in fuel prices, a
lot of the big motoryachts decided to go to Costa Rica last year
- showing that even they react to the increase of fuel prices
in Mexico to over $2 U.S./gallon. Many of them are coming back
this year, however, having discovered how much it rains in Costa
Rica. The plan for a cruise ship pier to jut out into the bay
at Cabo has been turned down because, among other things, it
would have blocked views. Other proposals may evolve, however.
Something like 130 new slips for megayachts will apparently be
built in the Inner Harbor by next fall, completly filling it
in. Oddly enough, both Marina Cabo San Lucas and Marinas de Baja
seem to think they'll be the ones building and managing the berths.
Once again the idea for a marina at San Jose del Cabo is going
around, but it's unclear if those involved appreciate how much
it would cost to build. In the bad news, good news, bad news
category, laws were passed that would have allowed long lining
with up to 2,000 hooks from pangas in the Sea of Cortez, as well
as gill netting. That's bad. What was good is that President
Vincente Fox, in an unprecedented action, vetoed the legislation.
On the bad news again side, there aren't enough government agents
to monitor fishing, so the devastating practices go on anyway.
The tip of Baja has grown so rapidly in the last 15 years that
it no longer has enough water. Indeed, while we were there much
of the town - even some of the luxury hotels - was having the
water turned off several times a day. But the water continued
to flow at Marina Cabo San Lucas, where they make 40,000 gallons
of their own water each day. This is one of the reasons it's
so expensive. The Cabo peninsula is slated to get its own desalinization
plant, although it won't be up and running for several years.
Meanwhile, most people hydrate with cervezas. It's possible to
get fuel in Cabo without having to check in. In fact, this now
seems to be the case just about everywhere in Mexico - even Barra
de Navidad, where the port captain's more rigid enforcement of
the law was driving away the big powerboats - and along with
them the big bucks they poured into the local economy. This policy,
of course, is subject to change on a moment's notice. That's
the Cabo report.
"What's the deal this year with the port captain in San
Blas, who has been the scourge of cruisers because he has illegally
forced them to use a clearing service? It's hard to say, as San
Blas was ground zero for hurricane Kenna, and at last word continued
to be under martial law - which meant cruising boats weren't
allowed to stop. By the way, Paradise Marina Harbormaster Dick
Markie visited San Blas bearing supplies donated by cruisers
and others, and reports that the Mexican Army and Navy did an
excellent job with their relief efforts.
"We're currently in Mexico and are planning to head to the
South Pacific in February or March, and have heard lots about
the Puddle Jump," writes Graham of Pau Hana. "Will
there be another Puddle Jump Kick-Off Party and Puddle Jump this
coming year? How do we get more info? We'd like to participate,
help out, jump up and down - all that stuff."
For the fourth year in a row, Latitude 38 and Paradise
Village Marina will be hosting a Puddle Jump Kick-Off Party -
this year on Wednesday, March 4 - at Paradise Resort. Last year's
Puddle Jump class, the most organized in history, assembled a
definitive Guide To Puddle Jumping - which was over 100
pages and packed and with information, forms, radio schedules,
clearing procedures for the various islands, and such. We expect
that an updated version will be available at the party this year,
hopefully for no more than the copying costs. In addition, there
will be free March issues of Latitude hot off the press
for everyone, free beverages, group photos, and other fun. Incidentally,
the party is only open to those boats puddle jumping in 2003.
Keep reading Latitude and 'Lectronic Latitude for
"Here in Thailand, foreigners have to leave the country
every 30 days to get their visas renewed," report Buddy
and Ruth Ellison of the Northern California-based Hans Christian
48 Annapurna. "For a long time, the most popular
destination was Myanmar, formerly Burma. Unfortunately, that
border was recently closed because of troubles between the two
countries. It's also necessary to take the boat out of the country
once every six months, so on June 15 we departed Phuket to spend
a month sailing down to Langkawi, Malaysia. After visiting some
islands, we left our boat at Rebak Marina - which is luxurious,
and where yachties get to use all the facilities at the adjacent
luxury resort. Early next year, we'll cross the Indian Ocean,
travel up through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal to the Med.
It ought to be an interesting adventure. Last year's group gave
the trip mixed reviews. There were no dangers from pirates or
religious fanatics, but we're told that the touts could be overwhelming
and the baksheesh tiresome."
Although the entries were off this year to 46 in early November's
West Marine Caribbean 1500 Cruising Rally from Hampton, Virginia,
to the British Virgins, it featured a fleet of good boats, ranging
from a couple of Island Packet 350s, to 47-foot Catana and Leopard
catamarans, to some mid 50s Swans, to a Deerfoot 62 and a Tayana
65. We didn't get a report on the weather, but superb sailor
Steve Pettengill drove the HC 50 Hunter's Child to class
and fleet honors by finishing in 189 hours - just over 30 hours
of motoring. Jack Madden's Swan 53 Lady B was a close
second, while Mark and Cheryl Mahowald's J/42 Strider
was third. The entry fee was $800 per boat and $45 per crew.
Cruising Rally Association, which puts on the Carib 1500, will
be running the Atlantic Cup from the British Virgins to Bermuda
on May 11.
"We just got in after blasting 7 days and 4 hours from Newport,
Rhode Island to St. Barths," writes D. Randy West of St.
Barth from aboard the 67-ft Mischievous. "I love
it out there on the ocean! We had up to 40 knots in the Gulfstream,
and were surfing 'condos' at up to 14 knots. Not bad for a lead
sled." D. Randy, who is the person most responsible for
getting us interested in catamarans, spent the summer sailing
the Farr 80 Y Knot to Croatia, where he says, "The
women aren't good-looking, they're beautiful!"
Mexico cruisers will be delighted to learn that the U.S. dollar,
which only brought 8.5 pesos last season, is now commanding 10
pesos - a major improvement. Also new this year is plastic currency
- you can see right through part of it as though it were film.
On November 24th, the grandaddy and biggest of all cruising rallies,
the 2,700-mile Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), left the Canary
Islands for St. Lucia. The 225 entry slots had been filled six
months ago, with countless Swans, Oysters and other fine boats
from England, Germany, and the Scandanavian countries. Carrying
the hopes of America - and Northern California - are Mark and
David Bernhard and their new Catana 581 catamaran Aurora,
which will be crewed by, among others, Pat Nolan of Grand
Slam and the Columbia 5.5 Arrow, and Chris Maher of
the Beneteau 42 Blarney3. Both of these crewmember participated
in the Ha-Ha and had only nine days before jetting off to the
Canaries. We hope to post updates of their crossing on 'Lectronic.
'Bird' Livingston and Susie Grubler raced their Wylie 39 Hotty
Naughty to first in class and third overall in the West Marine
Pacific Cup in July, then sailed over to Maui and got married
at the Lahaina YC. Their honeymoon was to be a cruise across
the South Pacific to New Zealand. Unfortunately, there were a
few loose ends before they could get away - such as clients hounding
the Birdman for the plans to houses they wanted build. Before
the newlyweds knew it, the tropical cyclone season had arrived
in the South Pacific, and they were stuck in Hawaii for the winter.
Since they report there is so much fun sailing stuff happening
in Lahaina, we outfitted them with a great digital camera and
deputized them - something we very rarely do - as official Latitude
correspondents. We're sure they've taken all kinds of beautiful
shots of Maui, boats, and sailors, but we haven't gotten any
yet. The Birdman mentioned something about the Internet between
Hawaii and California being really slow - but slower than a Matson
Seeing how much fun their Sausalito friends Christian Lauducci
and Ali had cruising Mexico two winters ago aboard the the Haida
26 Blue Dragon for about $300 a month, Derek and Emily
Fischer bought the Columbia 31 Tango and outfitted her
to go cruising - although on not quite so small a budget. Alas,
the two architects from Indiana moved to Hawaii for Emily's job.
But after a short time, they both quit their island jobs, provisioned
the boat, and took off for Mexico. We bumped into them at Turtle
Bay and Cabo, where they were having a great time getting to
know some of the other 35-and-under surfer/cruisers. Their plan
is to continue on to the Caribbean.
"I'm looking for information about sailing from the Bay
Area north to the Inside Passage to Alaska," writes JFM.
"Can you help?" We probably could - if you told us
what boat you have, what time of year you want to go, and how
much experience you have.
"I recently flew back to Holland to rejoin my boat, which
I doubledhanded here from Moss Landing two years ago," writes
Ivan Rusch of the Rassy 31 Örnaerie. "While
I was gone, the people took good care of my boat. After some
repairs to the clutch, I headed south through the canals and
locks toward Belgium. I started at 4 a.m., and catching a seven-knot
tide, used my radar and VHF to get to the North Atlantic and
away from heavy shipping traffic. At 3 p.m., I arrived at Nieuwpoort,
Belgium, a town loaded with history from both world wars. So
many wars have been fought in Belgium! I got a ride - the people
are so friendly - to Calais, France, where I took a ferry to
Dover - white cliffs and all - and the train to Portsmouth, England,
to get my ST1000 autopilot fixed. I became totally absorbed by
Nelson's exploits at Trafalgar. I'll be returning to Portsmouth,
the Isle of Wight, and Cowes, but right now I've made my way
over to Dublin, Ireland. What a place! There are pubs everywhere,
and I'm soaking up traditional fiddle-tin whistle-accordian stuff.
Yesterday I took a small bus tour into the valleys and hills
of the green, and saw many stone ruins from the days of the Vikings
and other bad guys. I found out that a marina slip for my 31-ft
boat would run $500/month - 2.5 times what I pay in Belgium.
It's too late in the year for me to sail to Spain as I'd hoped,
so I may stay in Belgium. I love this life!"
Did we mention that Ivan is 77 years old and only took up ocean
sailing two years ago?
"Hola, from beautiful downtown Puerto Escondido, Baja, where
life is grand!' writes Robin Hardy of Cat's Meow, a 52-ft
trawler from San Pedro. "I would like to correct a few misunderstandings
about life as it is here in this beautiful part of the Sea of
Cortez. First, Fonatur, which is the Mexican agency that among
other things, develops tourist areas, is not collecting anchoring
fees. I suppose that if a cruiser wanted to, he/she could ride
into town and find the place to pay, but nobody has had to pay
yet. Similarly, if someone wants to pay a fee for being in the
new National Park out at the islands, there is probably a way
to do it - but nobody here knows what is is. Complaints about
such fees are much ado about nothing. Water costs some minimal
amount for a whole lot, and you get quite a bit for free if you
pay $20 to park your car in the lot - which is lit and guarded.
Finally, if we cruisers are supposed to be paying for garbage
disposal, we don't know how much or where and when to pay. If
there's a change in this situation, I'll let you know."
It was 25 years ago that we first cruised out of Puerto Escondido
aboard Max Zenobi's Bounty II Maverick, and even back
then cruisers were grousing about the "end of cruising in
the Sea of Cortez as we know it." Ever since, there's been
an almost continuous chorus of how bad things have become - despite
virtually no changes. Our personal theory is that the cruising
life is so sweet down there that some gringos actually feel guilty,
and can only console themselves by inventing some kind of vague
but perpetually impending doom. But not everybody complains:
"The accompanying photo is to assure all of this year's Baja
Ha-Ha participants that just when they think they've had enough
rice, beans, carnitas, tortillas, fish tacos, and all of the
other wonderful gastronomic delights of Mexico, a delicious American-style
pizza can still be found - and delivered to the anchorage,"
writes Mike Miller of the Ventura-based Vanguard 32 Uhuru.
"After befriending Denise and Jorge of Tiffany's Pizza Parlor
in Loreto in May of 2000, I returned again this year to enjoy
the best pizza in all of Mexico! After taking pizza orders from
16 boats in the Puerto Escondido anchorage, I called Tiffany's
and scheduled delivery for 6:30 p.m. Nobody was disappointed!"
"Could you steer me to a reasonably priced place to moor/store
my sailboat in Mazatlan?" asks Dal Farias of Bellingham,
Les Sutton, who has been cruising Mexico for three years with
Diane Grant on the Albin 42 Gemini, just stopped by the
office and reports that the prices for a 42-foot slip in Mazatlan
range from as low as $216/month for a slip without water or electricity
at Isla Mazatlan Marina, to $400/month at Marina Mazatlan, to
$600/month at the considerably more luxurious Marina El Cid.
(For a price comparison, Sutton was paying about $600 at Marina
Palmira in La Paz - but only when he used electricity, which
was a flat $125 U.S. - wow! - a month. When comparing marina
prices in Mexico, be sure to include taxes, which can total 15%
or more.) Both Sutton, and Doug Terrell, who sometimes sails
aboard the Mazatlan-based Ericson 36C Warthog, advise
that Marina Mazatlan, with the legal issues apparently behind
them, is getting a lot more boats now. In fact, there were so
many Ha-Ha boats coming in that Gerado got overwhelmed and brought
Sylvia back in. Note that the channel to all three marinas is
being dredged, so check on 16 or 72 before entering.
Blair Grinols of Vallejo, who for the last seven or so years
had been a cruising stalwart in Mexico, took off for Hawaii in
early November aboard his much-travelled 46-ft cat Capricorn
Cat. Mexican cruising friends "Jack from Elixir
and Joe from Maverick" were along as crew. Blair
says the itinerary is to "cruise through the Hawaiian Islands
in November, sail to Majuro in the Marshall's in December for
two or three months of diving, then sail down to the Gilberts
on the equator in February. Once we are assured the southern
hemisphere tropical cyclone season is over, we'll try to sail
upwind to Fiji, where Joanie, my wife, will be waiting. By August
we'll have to decide whether to continue to New Zealand or return
"Thanks to the derelict Mariner 35 ketch Freedom,
which washed up on the beach at Z-town in October, but is now
working her way toward China, the port captain is requiring proof
of liability insurance as part of the clearance procedure,"
reports Craig Gottschalk. "I get this information from Ted
V., a world renowned multihull sailor and surfer aboard the 35-ft
trimaran Mustang out of Santee. He and his boat were the
first in the bay this season, and he was forced to pay $100 in
port fees and locally purchased insurance for four days on the
hook. He was on the fast track to Costa Rica, but with hurricane
Kenna forming to the south, Ted did what most conservative sailors
would have done - waited it out at Marina Ixtapa while getting
in a couple of days of surfing at Playa Linda. Kenna, by the
way, passed offshore of Z-town without even sending a ripple."
For one couples' report on how Freedom came to be on the
beach at Z-town, read this month's Letters. And if you
get to Z-town, we're interested to hear how long the proof-of-insurance
requirement stays in effect.
One place Kenna did hit with more than a ripple was Punta de
Mita at the north tip of Banderas Bay. In fact, Ralph Hemphill
sent us a photo of the J/24 Wenonah, which had been washed
up next to a tree on the 8th fairway of the Four Seasons Hotel.
The boat survived and was to have been refloated on a high tide
later last month. Too bad the photo was too low resolution to
"Regarding leaving to go cruising with less than $500,"
writes a person who didn't sign their name, "when Teri and
I left Sausalito in February of 1987 aboard our Friendship sloop
Galatea, we only had $250. Herb Madden was nice enough
to give us a free spot to re-rig the boat at Sausalito Yacht
Harbor, and once we finished, we took off. When we got to Puerto
Vallarta, we made a few pies for some friendly restaurant owners
- which led to our starting the Pie In The Sky bakery there.
Unfortunately, we lost Galatea in La Cruz during hurricane
Rosa, so we sold our business and flew to Australia. We started
a bakery there, only to lose everything again. We returned to
Sausalito to replenish our much depleted kitty, and now three
years later are off to Trinidad to find our next boat and home.
We'll stay with Jeff and Dawn Stone, formerly of Sausalito, aboard
the Nicholson 39 Dawn. They now run Nautikol Refrigeration
in Chaugauramas, and say they have a few boats for us to see.
Oh boy! Freedom, not money, is the real currency!"
Excellent philosophy - we just wish that you'd included your
name or that we could remember it. Don something?
Have a great winter cruising season everyone, and remember to
email quick updates on your fun to .
Don't forget the boat name, boat type, your full name, and your
hailing port. Love and kisses!