With reports this month from
Sapien's October crossing to Hawaii;
Sensei's visit to Niue; Liz Clark's
trying to finish Swell's refit in
Costa Rica and get sailing again; Interlude's
visit - with a Geiger Counter - to the Marshall Islands; and
tons of Cruise Notes.
Sapien - Gulf 32
Dena Henkins & James Lane
October Crossing To Hawaii
(Marina Bay, Richmond)
Starting in October, we made a fast 20-day, 2,362-mile crossing
from the Golden Gate to Hilo, Hawaii. Jimmy Cornell's World
Cruising Routes suggested that it was a fine time of year
to go, but a lot of sailors wondered if we weren't going a bit
We got a bit of all kinds of weather. For seven of the first
10 days, we had Seattle-style gray weather, with no sun, no moon
and no stars to guide us. Yay GPS! What we did have were winds
that averaged about 15 knots, although they gusted to 38 knots.
We also had following seas from 15 to 18 feet, but our Monitor
windvane worked great. This weather pushed us along at seven
knots in the early going, a nice speed for our Bill Garden-designed
32-ft pilothouse sloop.
Our only previous offshore trip was aboard our Garden-designed
50-ft Sea Wolf ketch, when we sailed from Seattle to British
Columbia and then down to the Bay Area. That was much more exciting,
as we had fun things happen - like the packing gland blowing
out and all of our bilge pumps breaking. During one period we
had to pump 32 hours on a Thirsty Mate bilge pump - four on,
four off - with no auto-steering because we were took close to
the rocky Oregon coast to heave-to. We didn't sleep at all on
The trip to Hawaii was much nicer. On October 25, which was clear
and sunny with fair winds, we celebrated our 10th anniversary
together. We even shook up our diet a bit by baking a cake to
celebrate. Alas, the cake came out sway-backed because of the
rocking of the boat, but it was delicious!
We stopped wearing clothes once we got south of the Tropic of
Cancer, although we continued to wear our safety harnesses. We
also took saltwater baths and used baby wipes - as was highly
recommended in the November issue. An egg-timer kept whoever
was on watch from sleeping too long between looking around for
traffic, but we only saw four ships the entire way. On the other
hand, we saw lots of dolphins, albatross, osprey and other birds,
and tons of flying fish.
We arrived in Hilo in almost calm conditions, and followed a
cruise ship behind the breakwater at Radio Bay. What a change!
For our entire trip we figured other vessels were too close when
they came within 12 miles, and now we had to Med-tie between
two other boats. We did pretty good.
Like just about everybody else, our original plan was to sail
south to Mexico and then across to Tahiti. But my mom lives in
Hawaii and, over the course of a few visits, we fell in love
with the Islands. Although it's lovely, Hawaii is not a sailor's
paradise. But Hawaii puts us close to Kiribati, a group of islands
we really want to visit. Our plan is to take any jobs we can
get through the holidays in Hilo, then resume our adventures
by bopping around the Pacific Islands.
- dena 11/15/06
Sensei - Norseman 447
The Mellor Family
Niue, South Pacific
Just 8 miles by 10 miles, Niue (pronounced 'NEW-way') is one
of the world's smallest self-governing states - although it is
in free association with New Zealand. Some 630 miles from Rarotonga
in the Cook Islands, and 265 miles from Vava'u, Tonga, it's a
frequent stop for cruisers making their way across the South
The most westward island-nation in Polynesia, Niue is an uplifted
coral atoll, and has landscape is unlike anything we've ever
seen. Because the land is porous limestone, there are no rivers,
and the cold rainwater quickly filters through the rock and mixes
with the warm, clear seawater. So when you look through your
mask as the two types of water mix, it's a little bit like swimming
in an oil and vinegar salad dressing! When near the shore, the
water temperature drops precipitously, and your view is clouded
by swirls of fresh water. But if you swim just a few feet deeper
into the clear layers of saltwater, you can easily see fish -
and the famous poisonous sea snakes that are common to the island.
Niue was devastated by category 5 tropical cyclone Heta during
the first week of '04, and two locals lost their lives. The island's
crops were even harder hit, so for now tourism is about the only
way the 1,500 residents can generate any income. An Australian
company believes that the little island has the world's largest
deposits of uranium, but it's yet to be proven.
Prior to Heta, Niue had 21 mooring balls for visiting cruisers
and a yacht club. The yacht club was blown away and hasn't been
rebuilt, and only 12 of the mooring balls survived. One of the
interesting things about Niue is that there is no place to land
your dinghy. So the islanders erected a crane and lifting hook
on the concrete commercial dock, which allows cruisers to lift
their dinghies out of the water when coming ashore. The cruising
kids quickly master the art of operating the huge steel levers
that control the crane, and also like to use the crane's maneuvering
rope to swing out over the pier and into the crystal clear water.
On an island where nobody lives in fear of liability lawsuits,
we cruisers are expected to behave ourselves with a potentially
lethal piece of equipment.
Until recently, the island phone system consisted of primitive
hand-cranked telephones. But now a charitable internet user's
society, with a modern communications station in the main town
of Alofi, offers free wi-fi to many of the island residents.
Boats anchored in the two main anchorages are also able to tune
in. The Kiwis seem to have done a much better job enlightening
the local population than the French did in Polynesia.
In order to support the tourism industry - and to enjoy ourselves
- we rented a van and each day planned excursions with the other
'kid-boat' cruisers. There were nine kids in all, ages 4 to 12.
While hiking through a cave to a natural arch, we found brightly
colored surreal-shaped rocks and luminous pools. They were beautiful!
The next day we traveled to Togo Chasm. After a 30-minute walk
down a jungle path, we scaled a rise to be greeted by a blast
of salt air! The scenery transformed into jagged limestone pinnacles,
completely impassable were it not for the trail-building done
by the locals. Thank you New Zealand, which supplies the island
with 75% of its operating budget, and therefore money to make
such improvements. We meandered through the black spires to find
a chasm near the crashing surf. A ladder led down to a white
sand floor with palm trees. The kids scampered about the sharp
rocks and cliffs. Luckily, there were no casualties.
Each month one of the 14 villages hosts a town fair, and it was
Latoka's turn the month we were there. It was interesting to
see how the locals enjoy themselves. Actually, they do it much
the way we do - with food, music and dancing. Chris was invited
to sample the island's new 9-hole golf course, and Tom from Sandpiper
and he were to play under the tutelage of Rex, the female drill
sergeant. She whisked us about the course, saying things like,
"Come on boys! It's your turn. Get moving. Take the cart."
Rex also would give us advice, such as, "Don't swing too
hard this time." Invariably, the results would produce explosive
laughter. Golf is a pretty casual affair on the island, for as
Chris lined up for his last putt, a group of cruisers shouted
"Miss! Miss! Miss!"
As we visited the different villages, we frequently saw colorful
'Prohibit Organic Pollutants' signs, and wondered what they were
all about. It turns out that local farmers are turning to organic
produce to serve the lucrative natural foods market in New Zealand.
In fact, efforts are being made to make Niue the world's first
pesticide-free country by 2010.
The locals were so friendly and accommodating, so our eight days
at Niue flew by. There's not another place to stop within hundreds
of miles, so we weren't the only cruisers to be thankful it survived
P.S. Latitude has been instrumental in making our trip
happen. Thanks for the inspiration!
- chris 09/15/06
Swell - Cal 40
Still Stuck In Puntarenas
At the end of my last report, Swell was still in the water
at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, with almost all of the off-season
work completed. All that I needed to do to get out of the Costa
Rica YC - and town - was to pick up and install the new refrigerator
compressor that the people at Glacier Bay had tried to send to
me. It sounded easy enough, but what happened is an object lesson
in the problems cruisers encounter trying to accomplish things
in the Third World.
On the morning I expected the new compressor to arrive, I was
told I had a message waiting at reception. I was disappointed
to see that the miserable receptionist was on duty. In my best
Spanish, I asked her about the message. She rolled her eyes and
showed me a paper that read, "DHL, Aduana" with a phone
number. She muttered some unintelligible explanation, dialed
the number on the paper, and sent me to the other side of the
window to pick up the guest phone. The phone was from the '80s,
with the curly cord that you wrap around your finger. I could
barely hear the voice on the other end of the line. I do all
right speaking Spanish in person, but over the phone - without
being able to see hand gestures and facial expressions - my comprehension
isn't nearly as good. So when I set the old handset back in the
cradle, I only understood that the package was stuck in Customs
in the capital of San Jose. It would not arrive that day, nor
the next, nor ever for all that I could tell. The evil receptionist
thrust the bill for the call at me. I signed it and glared at
her. I needed a translator - which meant I had to go to the 'principle's
I patted down an unruly sprig of hair as I knocked sheepishly
on the marina manager's heavy wooden door. I heard the buzzer
that unlocks the door, and pushed it open. The cold air inside
matched Carlos' chilling presence. I sat down nervously, and
just as I opened my mouth to speak, he looked at me in exasperation.
"Look, Liz," he said, "I was in a meeting for
seven hours last night. I didn't get home until 3 a.m. I'm tired
and I don't have the energy to deal with you today. So make it
quick, what do you want?"
That was enough to send me over the edge. "I'm stuck in
your worthless excuse for a marina . . . paying to be here .
. . no one else speaks English, and without a translator my compressor
will never arrive . . . I'll grow old and die right here in Puntarenas
. . ." At least that's what I dramatically thought to myself.
Instead, I broke into uncontrollable tears, then said, "You're
always so mean to me. What did I ever do to make you hate me?
I don't care how many hours your meeting was or how tired you
are, you shouldn't treat people like you treat me. I'm not your
child. I just need a little help, and that's your job!"
The words spilled out between loud sobs.
He was startled. When I finally finished, his tone had changed.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. It's just that I'm really tired,
and I think I'm going to quit."
"You should," I sniffled. "You don't seem happy."
Although slightly embarrassing, my emotional outburst earned
me some translation time, and Carlos dialed the number on the
paper. I fell back into quiet sobs as he argued with the woman
on the other end of the phone. After hanging up, he gave me the
news: "They have to send paperwork to me to release the
package because it wasn't addressed to you personally, but rather
to the attention of you at the Costa Rica YC. It's going to take
a few days, then you're going to have to take the papers up to
San Jose and pay taxes to get the package out of Customs."
My heart sank. I wiped my eyes and thanked him as I left the
I crawled back into bed and closed my eyes, hoping to fall back
to sleep and restart my day. "Another week in Puntarenas,"
I thought to myself, "I can't do it, I've got to get out
of here!" Nearing a state of tortured half-slumber, I remembered
that Kat and Jenny, a couple of girls from California, had invited
me to come down and surf with them at Playa Hermosa. I'd given
up on meeting up with them since I'd expected the new refrigerator
compressor to arrive that day. But with a new plan, I hopped
out of bed, stuffed my favorite 5'9" board into a bag, and
grabbed a fistful of clothes and bathing suits. Before long,
I was barreling out of Puntarenas on the afternoon bus.
It's true, I only slightly knew Kat from years before, and had
only briefly met Jenny once, but I knew they had to be more fun
than Carlos Chinchilla and my dockmate, the latter who barbecued
in his tighty-whities. The bus was packed with commuters. Thanks
to the fact it seemed to stop every 50 feet, the normal 40-minute
ride took 2.5 hours. When the driver finally called "Hermosa!"
I stumbled down the steps to grab my board from underneath the
bus. As it pulled away, I squinted down at the words "Cabinas
Las Areas" on the scrap of paper in my pocket. I started
down the road in the dark, but hadn't gone 100 yards before I
saw those very words on a lighted sign.
The girls gave me a warm welcome, and showed me to my own room.
All night I heard waves thundering onto the sand, and every few
hours I'd get up hoping to see that dawn had broken. When it
finally did, Dan Jenkins, the girls' photographer, showed up
in his rental car and drove us into Jacó for an early
session, killing time until the tide came back in at Hermosa.
I was like a hyperactive kid without my Ritalin, paddling up
and down the beach. Despite my maniacal surf buzz, I managed
to connect a few open faces to the inside. Later in the day back
at Hermosa, the waves were a bit more serious. I even got pitched
out the lip into an airborne cartwheel during a ridiculous late
take-off, which had everyone in the line-up hooting and throwing
shakas. I surfaced giggling. As long as my board wasn't broken,
I didn't care. After being stuck up the river in Puntarenas for
so long, I was finding wave energy any way I could get it.
With the high sun and the tide low, just about everyone left.
But soon Jenny approached with two empty garbage bags, a hat,
and a big smile. Earlier we'd talked about cleaning up the beach,
and she was ready. All I knew about Jenny is that contrary to
what one might expect based on her small frame and delicate beauty,
she was a fearless surfer. I'd seen video of her on a massive
wave in Puerto Underground 4, and knew big-wave surfing was her
niche. As we combed the high-tide line filling the garbage bags
with plastic bottles, broken flip-flops, candy wrappers and random
debris, I learned more about her unusual life. Her mother, a
pro surfer, had home-schooled her and her brother while her father
worked. As a child, her playgrounds had been the beaches of places
like Bali, New Zealand and Australia. When her family settled
into a more permanent life in Santa Cruz, the dangerous big wave
break at Maverick's had called to her. And now she was getting
ready to head back to the North Shore of Hawaii to train for
the big days of winter. I had huge respect for Jenny's courage
in the water, as I think she did for mine. Although we plugged
our energies into different avenues of the ocean, we seemed to
have a similar approach to dealing with fear.
"Don't do it! It's huge! You're gonna die!" she said,
mimicking what the other surfers would say to her when she was
about to paddle out on big days. It reminded me of all the people
who had told me not to take off in Swell, telling me that
I'd drown in a storm or be taken by pirates. Jenny and I had
both understood the risks involved in our decisions, but nonetheless
decided to go ahead. We agreed that it was crucial to block out
the negative energy generated by the fears of others so as not
to absorb that fear. On our way back towards the cabins, a kid
from the smoothie stand called us over and treated us to free
smoothies for cleaning up the beach. The good energy was alive
and well. We surfed another session that evening and headed out
on the town to celebrate Kat and Jenny's last night in Costa
The girls gave me a ride to the airport in San Jose the next
morning, and after we separated I called a number of a Johnny
Rodriguez that was given to me by Carlos Chinchilla. When Johnny
answered, he told me to stand where I was and look for a blue
car. Ten minutes later, a man in his 50s, as round as a beach
ball, with his pants cinched high to the middle of his belly,
pulled up in an old blue Honda Civic. I understood little of
what he said, but he looked over my paperwork and told me that
Customs wouldn't open again until 2 p.m., two hours later. After
a short drive, he parked his car, walked around to the back,
and opened the trunk. He proceeded to wrestle out the most rickety
old BBQ that I've ever seen. One of its wheels flew off and rolled
down the sidewalk, so I chased it down the street, unable to
keep from laughing. As it turned out, it was Costa Rican Independence
Day, and Johnny was setting up his Q in a dilapidated building
covered in flags where a band was playing. It looked as though
I wasn't going to get my compressor anytime soon.
Nonetheless, at 2 p.m. Johnny and I filled out a few papers,
after which I followed him - and his BBQ - back to the car and
then the DHL building. Amongst the chaos, I grabbed a number,
and said good-bye to Johnny. I wasn't sure how he'd helped me,
but I thanked him nonetheless. This was when the real circus
began, as there was absolutely no sense of order to the system.
After 45 minutes, I finally made it to the front of the line
for a man to calculate the duty I owed. As soon as I got there,
his computer crashed. After 30 minutes, he decided to call a
technician. It turned out the technician was in the hospital,
so a guy wearing a 'Where's Waldo' shirt showed up to lead me
and several others across the street and two blocks up - in the
pouring rain - to another building.
As we sat in another line, a woman tried to print our paperwork.
It was one of those old printers with paper that's in one long
connected piece with perforated edges to guide it through the
machine. As my luck that day would have it, she couldn't get
the printer to start the document at the top of the page. Instead,
the little wheels would spin the page halfway down, shoot black
ink back and forth in the middle, but not at the top. She had
to let the whole page finish printing before trying to start
over. After four failures, she called another lady over. Although
it was frustrating, it was so ridiculous that I couldn't stop
smiling to myself. I finally walked out with my document printed
in the middle of two connected pages, and followed Waldo shirt
back across the rainy intersection.
Next, I waited in two payment lines, and forked over a total
of $120. Then came the glory moment: 10 minutes after I handed
my papers to a guy with a forklift, he reappeared with a large
white box with my name on it.
"Perdoname, necesitas ir a San Jose?" asked
the extremely patient man who had been in line behind me.
"Sí!" I replied excitedly. I had observed
this man, who turned out to be Dr. Orlando Herrera, throughout
our four-hour line-dancing extravaganza, and not once had he
made a face or acted frustrated. I could tell his intentions
were good, so he backed his car up to my box, loaded it in, and
off we went. But my day of practicing patience was not over yet.
Dr. Herrera had said he only needed to do a "few things"
in San Jose, after which he could take me all the way down to
Naranjo, which was halfway to Puntarenas. He spoke very little
English, but he spoke slowly and clearly, so I could understand
him. He had kind eyes and polite mannerisms.
By this time it was 5 p.m., and the rush hour traffic to San
Jose settled into gridlock. More patience. We finally made it
to the auto parts place he needed to visit, and he disappeared
inside. I sat in the car and waited until well after dark. More
than once I thought to myself, "Why didn't you just get
a taxi to the bus stop? You'd probably already be on your way
to Puntarenas by now." There was more traffic on the way
out of town, and Independence Day fireworks in the air. But Dr.
Herrera went out of his way for me, and even knew a refrigeration
guy in Puntarenas. After giving me a tour of his town, we stopped
at his office to get the phone number of the refrig guy. I didn't
make it to the bus stop in Naranjo until after 9:30 p.m., and
by the time I lugged the 60-pound box from the bus stop through
the gate at the Costa Rica YC, it was close to midnight. Nonetheless,
I smiled when I finally looked at the box sitting in the cockpit
of Swell, and realized that I'd made it through that day.
The next morning was Friday the 15th. I called Dr. Herrera's
refrigerator friend, but with Independence Day and the holiday
weekend, he wouldn't be working again until Tuesday. I was determined
to get everything else done on Swell before then. That
notion collapsed when I noticed a four-foot shorebreak crashing
out in front of the yacht club, at a place where it's usually
flat. I spent the next few afternoons surfing Barranca's long
lefts, and running from the vicious brigade of mosquitos that
patrol the beach.
Well, the compressor is installed and the refrigeration is working,
my new halyard is spliced, and the headsail is back on. In addition,
myy bilge is clean, the starboard running light is working again,
and I replumbed the watermaker to my liking. The new fans are
wired in and purring, and the sole is shining with two fresh
coats of varnish, so all that's left to do is test each of the
vital systems, get fuel, propane, and pay my bill at the yacht
club! After all the obstacles of getting things done in the Third
World, it sure will be good to get back to sea again!
- liz 10/20/06
Interlude - Deerfoot 74
Kurt & Katie Braun
The Marshall Islands
(Alameda / New Zealand)
We arrived at Majuro Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands
in mid-December a year ago after a wet windy sail from Butaritari
Atoll in the Gilbert Islands of Kiribati. The Marshalls are becoming
a popular alternative destination for yachts wanting to avoid
the South Pacific's November through April cyclone season. Other
popular options include New Zealand and Australia, but these
involve leaving the tropics, and we've been on a quest for the
The R.M.I. has a Compact of Free Association with the United
States, which pays tens of millions each year for building trust
funds and renting parts of Kwajelein Atoll for missile testing.
Bikini Atoll is also located in the Marshalls, and many artifacts
from World War II can be explored on land and underwater.
We were able to navigate Calalin Channel, which is the entrance
to the lagoon at Majuro, at night with the assistance of radar
and by keeping a sharp lookout for buoys - which were not all
located and/or lighted as indicated on our charts. We crept up
to the lee of Anemwanot Island and dropped the hook at 10 p.m.
for a well-deserved night of uninterrupted sleep. The next day
we made our way to Uliga, the main island, and secured to a mooring
that had been specifically built for our 35-ton vessel by Matt
Holly, a local salvage operator and real estate mogul. The rental
fee was a whopping $2 a day.
After a painless check-in with Immigration and Customs, we enjoyed
our first burgers and fries in months at the air-conditioned
Tidetable Restaurant. The next day we were fortunate to have
our grocery shopping coincide with the arrival of the monthly
supply ship delivery to the Payless Supermarket. As such, we
found a cornucopia of fresh fruit and vegetables from the States.
In addition, there were a lot of U.S. brands and specialties
- such as dill pickles - that we hadn't seen since leaving San
Diego in '02. Majuro had the best provisioning and parts procuring
we'd seen since leaving New Zealand, as there are supermarkets,
an ACE Hardware, and a NAPA Auto Parts. In addition, the mail
system is tied to the U.S. Postal Service, which enabled us to
received packages from the States within one week.
We spent the next few weeks enjoying the holiday season with
fellow cruisers and locals. There were carols in the church,
a cruiser Christmas potluck with turkey and trimmings, and a
New Year's Eve block party with two bands. There were several
hundred people for the New Year's bash, and the cruisers showed
off their '70s disco moves. These moves really impressed the
Marshallese who, by local custom, move very little when dancing.
At midnight, a local dance troupe named Girl Power came out onto
the street to perform some hip-hop choreographed dance routines.
Katie was so excited to see some locals with good dance moves
that she started shouting words of encouragement, such as, "You
Go Girl!" Kurt pointed out that every single dancer in Girl
Power was male. Nonetheless, their gender-bending performance
- which even included hula dancing - was the best we'd seen since
The Marshalls are home to some unique sea life, such as the three-banded
Nemo fish, so we did some scuba diving with Jerry Ross of Bako
Divers. He gives cruisers a special standby rate when there is
extra room on a boat. Our first dive with him was to call up
sharks outside the lagoon. Jerry has the equivalent of a bird
caller for sharks - an empty plastic bottle that he scrunches
underwater. Just 100 yards from breaking surf, we dropped down
from the dive boat into six-foot swells mixed with a lot of wind
chop. But there was spectacular 100-ft visibility, and before
Jerry even had a chance to use the shark caller, we saw 6-foot
reef sharks, a big tuna and a turtle.
We were 90 feet down for about five minutes when the inflator
valve on Katie's BCD got stuck in the 'on' position. With her
bouyancy increasing rapidly, she swam over to Kurt and started
screaming for help. Yes, it's possible to scream underwater through
the regulator. Kurt grabbed Katie, but was unable to hold the
two down, secure the valve, or disconnect the hose. So within
10 to 15 seconds, we were both on the surface. No harm done,
as we hadn't been down long enough to need to decompress. In
addition, both of us were breathing rapidly and had clear ears,
so we had no ill effects due to the rapid pressure change.
Katie manually inflated her BCD for the second dive of the day,
and we had a great time diving a solid wall of hard coral that
was swarming with turtles and fish. Luckily, Jerry was unsuccessful
calling any of the big sharks that sometimes make an appearance,
for we might have looked like a champagne lunch to them. We did
numerous dives with Jerry that were nothing short of spectacular,
and even returned to the Shark Chute to watch Jerry call up several
400-lb silver tip sharks. Our favorite dive was at a place called
The Aquarium. You do a fast descent to 110 feet outside a pass
into the lagoon, and then hang onto the reef to observe 'the
aquarium' before drifting back inside. With 200 feet of visibility,
we saw schools of sharks, barracuda, tuna, trevally, and numerous
other fish. There were turtles and giant rays, too.
In addition to diving, we kept busy participating in the scheduled
activities of the local Mieco Beach YC, which has an annual membership
fee of just $25. Many activities benefit local charities, and
a yacht club membership brings discounts at some restaurants.
The club also organizes local personalities to give educational
talks to members about the geography, history and culture of
the Marshall Islands. One such talk was by Jack Niedenthal, an
American who came to the Marshalls as a Peace Corps worker, but
subsequently married a Bikinian. He's become Bikini's liaison
in all financial matters, including tourism, trusts and nuclear
Katie was enthusiastic about visiting the atoll that the bathing
suit was named after, and we wanted to dive on the sunken nuclear
test fleet. Fortunately, the cruisers convinced Jack to make
the first week of the 2006 diving season with Bikini's exclusive
dive operator Bikini Atoll Divers available to the cruising fleet.
They are usually booked over a year in advance, but had a cancellation
for the first week in March when a documentary film crew couldn't
get the permits for their submarine.
On January 22, we left Majuro Atoll to explore some of the outer
islands on our way to Bikini. Most of the islands fit our cruising
agenda of traveling to places you can only get to by private
yacht. Some of them do have regularly scheduled flights/ferries,
although the Marshallese definition of a schedule leaves much
room for interpretation. Once on island, there is no place to
stay. Some of the tourist guides suggest camping, but all the
land is privately owned and water is in short supply, so visitors
have to quickly make friends. Despite the remoteness, we found
all four of the islands we visited - Aur, Maloelap, Wotje and
Rongalap - to have some form of electricity, and several were
in the process of building resorts. Maloelap had an incredible
collection of WWII Japanese artifacts, including planes, bombs,
anti-aircraft guns, fuel tanks, sunken supply ships, and so forth.
Another highlight was when the cruisers played softball with
the school kids on the grass airport runway. With all ages of
children playing in one game with the cruiser adults, Katie taught
them the concept of a set batting lineup - which they enthusiastically
When we entered the lagoon in Rongalap, a shark ate the better
part of our mahi mahi, which we'd caught coming through the pass.
Rongalap had the best infrastructure of any of the outer atolls
we visited, complete with basketball court. The main island there
is being rebuilt for resettlement, and they are in the process
of building a dive resort. Rongelap was evacuated after the fallout
from a hydrogen bomb test on Bikini made the place uninhabitable.
No people have lived on the atoll for over 50 years, so the sea
life is some of the best in the South Pacific - although the
presence of strong seasonal tradewinds limited our exploring
the outer reefs.
We arrived at Bikini Atoll on February 25 - just in time to participate
in the First Annual Yachties Week at Bikini. Once inside the
lagoon, we caught a 30-lb yellow fin tuna. With so few people
living there, the fishing is great. The only people currently
living on Bikini are associated with the tourist dive operation
or the U.S. Department of Energy.
In 1946, the U.S. Navy moved the native population off of Bikini
and moved in 242 ships and 42,000 men for Operations Crossroads,
the first two of 23 nuclear bomb tests designed to demonstrate
nuclear superiority and the efficacy of nukes as a tool in war.
Seventy-three target ships - mostly obsolete U.S. warships and
captured German and Japanese vessels - were outfitted for combat
- fully fueled, loaded with antiaircraft guns, ammunition, bombs
and torpedoes - for the test. Submarines were also included to
test the underwater effects of the blasts.
The first explosions, Able, on July 1, and Baker, on July 25,
resulted in 14 vessels going down directly due to the blasts,
with nine additional vessels sinking within a few days. The end
result is that Bikini Atoll now has what most experienced divers
would consider to be the best wreck diving in the world. Not
only are most of the vessels historically significant, but since
the citizens of Bikini were granted ownership of all the wrecks,
they have declared them off-limits to treasure seekers, and therefore
all the original artifacts remain. One of the American wreck
dive masters said he has seen more artifacts in one week than
in his whole diving experience up to that point.
The most recognized ship is the USS Saratoga, the nation's
first fleet aircraft carrier and the wartime flagship of Admiral
Bull Halsey. Initially intended to be built as a cruiser, her
design was changed during construction to add flight and hanger
decks before her launch in 1928. For 17 years she held the record
for aircraft landings, nearly 100,000. Her deck length is 880
feet, and with her hull intact, she's the only recreationally
diveable aircraft carrier in the world, and also the largest
intact divable wreck in the world. Her normal complement of aircraft
was 80, some of which can readily be seen underwater on the hanger
deck and on the lagoon bottom near the ship. She housed over
3,000 men, and we saw many artifacts.
Another famous diveable ship is the Nagato, Admiral Yamamoto's
flagship, from which he commanded the attack on Pearl Harbor
and uttered those infamous words, "Tora, Tora, Tora."
Other divable wrecks include the destroyers USS Lamson, USS
Anderson, the battleship USS Arkansas, the attack
transport USS Carlisle and the submarine USS Apogon.
We both did three dives on the USS Saratoga, barely scratching
the surface of things to see. The visibility was at least 100
feet, a nice feature considering that the diving is all of the
technical decompression type to depths in excess of 160 feet.
A typical dive includes 30 minutes of bottom time before a gradual
ascent to a 'deco' station, which consists of a series of metal
bars hanging at 30, 20 and 10 feet below the surface, where at
the first stop a diver switches from compressed air to a regulator
feed of nitrox (74% O2) mix. Over the next 20 or so minutes,
the nitrox mix allows a diver to off gas nitrogen faster than
using compressed air. Occasionally sharks - including big tiger
sharks - will come to investigate the deco station with all the
meat hanging there. As dive master Jim says: "The surface
is not an option", due to the severe bends one could get
by not completing the decompression stops. It's a good thing
that Katie didn't have her BCD malfunction here! Our dives all
went smoothly, and we entertained ourselves while decompressing
by watching a two-foot by two-foot giant spadefish.
A record 11 yachts got together for two potluck parties ashore,
and we helped to provide entertainment by playing our guitars.
We also enjoyed walks and jogging on the well-graded roads that
the DOE uses to gather soil samples. Kurt also did some tests
with his handheld Geiger Counter. The current thinking is that
the island is not dangerous to live on - provided that you don't
eat locally grown food. Most of the Bikinians were relocated
to Kili Atoll, and they live either there or on Majuro. The elders
hope they may someday return to Bikini, but the younger generation
seems content with life closer to the western world conveniences
that can be found on the more populated islands.
It's obvious to a visitor that one of the greater injustices
of the U.S. involvement in the Marshall Islands is the mismanagement
of transfer payments. To begin, many of the mayors of the individual
islands are very self-serving in their fiscal dealings. Secondly,
a significant portion of the more than $250 million allocated
by Congress as compensation for the nuclear testing and the $30
million per year the U.S. pays for renting Kwajalein, ends up
in subsidized living for the locals either as inefficient government
jobs or, in effect, welfare payments. Additionally, the Marshallese
birthrate is approaching the theoretical maximum of 4.24%. For
example, there were originally 161 Bikinians moved during Operations
Crossroads, but now there are more than 4,000! This, combined
with dependence on imported foods, has resulted in a loss of
culture and self-sufficiency. The local basket-weaving is thought
to be the best in the world, but very little of it is made. On
the outer islands you can still meet people who work hard at
copra or catching fish - or turtle for an upcoming feast - but
the homes are almost all made of imported materials. The transfer
payments per person for the average Marshallese is going down,
and soon there will be a painful readjustment of the current
reliance on outside food and materials.
- kurt & katie 03/10/06
Think lightning doesn't strike the same boat twice? Read on.
"At 2:30 a.m. on November 6, while at Panama's San Blas
Islands, our boat was struck by lightning twice," report
Dennis and Cindi Roquet of the Roche Harbor, Washington-based
Gulfstar 68 Sea Bear. "The thunder and lightning
were all around us and the other boats in the anchorage, but
we didn't think that much of it because thunder and lightning
are a daily occurrence in the San Blas Islands at this time of
year. The first strike set off the electrical panel fault alarms
- they sound like car alarms - for things like the bilge pumps.
After a few more clamors of simultaneous light and noise, the
next bolt hit the ring holding the foredeck light on the mast.
The flash was blinding, the noise deafening, and the boat shook.
What's more, the lifelines were illuminated! Unless you've been
this close to thunder and lightning, it's hard to imagine the
ripping sound and shaking caused by Mother Nature. Although the
ring was later found on the deck and the indicator light on the
control panel was literally blown out of its socket, the bulb
still dangled from its socket on the mast - and the light itself
"Although shaken, we and our crew - Russel and Lucy - were
not hurt," the Roquets continue. "When daylight came,
we began to assess the damage. The good news was that all the
electric toilets still worked, as did the engines, generators
and the VHF radio. On the other hand, we lost three GPS units,
two autopilots, all three Furuno instrument combos, two radars,
two navigational computers with three plotters, a single-sideband
radio, a modem for SailMail, two of the seven refrigeration systems,
the sat phone, the sat tv, various lights, and transformers throughout
the inside and outside of the boat. And this is the short list.
The clincher was that the 'up' button on the anchor windlass
was blown, so we had to raise the big hook and all the chain
by hand and feed them into the chain locker. At that point we
returned to Colon - truly the asshole of planet earth - using
paper charts, pencils and parallels. We now look forward to dealing
with the insurance company, boat surveyors, and replacing the
gear in a Third World country. Naturally, there is no way we
can make our goal, which was the Antigua Charterboat Show on
December 6, which comes as a major disappointment to all of us.
Currently, we're at Shelter Bay Marina, where Russel's curly
Maori hair is now straight and stands up on end. He truly thought
he was going to become a San Diego Charger."
"I'm late in responding to Latitude's request for
information about the frequency of dinghy thefts in Mexico last
cruising season," writes Gordon Hanson of the Sausalito-based
Valiant 40 Far Country. "While we were in Barra de
Navidad in February or March, there was a dinghy stolen from
in front of the Sands Hotel, a place where nobody locks their
dinghies. The dinghy was recovered on a nearby beach a day or
two later, but without the engine. There were one or two other
motor thefts I heard of as we went north, but I don't recall
the details. Usually just the motor is taken, but I've started
to see locals using inflatables, so it might change if the inflatables
don't stand out so much."
If we recall, there was a dinghy slashed and the inflatable taken
at Chacala last year. And at the end of this year's Baja
Ha-Ha, Dave Dury's Monte Sereno-based Offshore 54 Pilothouse
Freedom, one of the four motoryachts in this year's Ha-Ha,
had her Novurania inflatable tender and outboard stolen from
the back of their boat while at anchor in Cabo San Lucas. The
dinghy had not been locked to the boat. A nearby sailboat had
jerry jugs stolen from their deck.
If cruisers in Mexico could alert us [email
Richard] about dinghy and outboard thefts, we'd be happy
to report the news on 'Lectronic Latitude to warn people of areas
that might be experiencing an unusual number of thefts. While
dinghy thefts in Mexico are comparatively rarely, locks should
still be used.
"Just as the Ha-Ha fleet was arriving in Cabo, we received
a notice from Customs that a Banjercito bank has opened up in
Cabo San Lucas," reports Mary Shroyer of Marina de La Paz.
"This means that members of the Ha-Ha fleet - as well as
everyone else - can get their Temporary Import Permits in Cabo
while standing in line for the rest of their clearance papers.
Or they can do it out on the ferry dock at Pichilinque when they
come up to La Paz. I don't know if anyone has tried anchoring
in the commercial part of Pichilinque and then taking their dinghy
ashore to get their T.I.P. It could be a problem if they don't
have a copy machine there - unless applicants get lots of copies
made in La Paz proper and take them out to Pichilinque."
The Banjercito indeed opened in Cabo in time for the arrival
of the Ha-Ha fleet. Unfortunately, their computers weren't working,
so they were unable to process any papers. But this year is certainly
not like last year, as there seems to be a number of ports in
Mexico where the permits can be easily obtained. In any event,
several members of the Ha-Ha fleet reported they were able to
get their permit quickly and easily over the internet. For those
not familiar with Temporary Import Permits, they cost $50 and
allow owners of boats to return to the States without their boats.
For those not familiar with Pichilinque, the correct pronunciation
is pee-chee-link-key. Try it, it's fun to pronounce.
According to Capt. Roy Rose, skipper of the San Diego-based Royal
Polaris commercial sportfishing boat, on the night of November
13, singlehanded sailor R.T. Osborn of Portland discovered that
his Balboa 35 - no name given - was taking on water 35 miles
from Baja's San Benitos Islands. The islands are about 300 miles
south of San Diego. When Osborn's pumps were unable to keep up
with the inflow of water, he issued a Mayday. Although there
were three boats in the area, the Royal Polaris was the only
one to respond. When it was clear the boat was not going to make
it, Capt. Rose advised Osborn to put on his survival suit if
he had one, and gather his most important possessions. According
to Rose, Osborn grabbed his wallet and a box of cigars. Other
than being in a slight state of shock when rescued, Osborn was
in good health, and taken back to San Diego. The retired steelworker
had been on his way to La Paz.
"It was good to see the Grand Poobah at the Baja
Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party at the Encinal YC in Alameda,"
writes Suzette Connolly of the Seattle-based Cal 35 Altair.
"It brought back memories of when Paul Baker and I attended
the same party before setting off around the world together in
'00. We can't believe how green and inexperienced we were! We
started with the Baja Ha-Ha,
and as luck was with us, completed our circumnavigation via the
Cape of Good Hope in August of this year. During our six-year
sailing adventure, we were always in touch with the West Coast
sailing news because my father, Jack Connolly of San Francisco,
faithfully picked up a copy of Latitude each month and
mailed it to whatever exotic location our next mail drop would
be. It was always fun to get the magazine and see which
of our cruising friends had contributed to Changes in Latitudes
or Letters. As for Paul and me,
we're home for a few years to spend time with our parents and
to replenish our cruising kitty. We plan to live aboard Altair
in Seattle and take advantage of the great cruising opportunities
in the Pacific Northwest. While enjoying life here, we'll be
keeping an eye out for another boat that has a little more room
for storage and a little more waterline for speed. Nonetheless,
it will be very hard to find a better boat than our Cal 35, which
has now been around the world twice, and is tugging at her lines
ready to go cruising again. Paul and I loved the cruising lifestyle,
so we'll definitely be going out again."
Despite the doubling of number of berths in the last couple of
years at La Paz, marinas were filling up fast after the Ha-Ha.
Gabriel Ley of Marina Costa Baja, which two summers ago was giving
away berthing, reports that their 250-berth marina only had about
16 berths that weren't spoken for. And this is the high end marina
in La Paz. Fortunately, Marina Fidepaz, one of the Singlar facilities
in Mexico, was slated to open in mid-November, as soon as some
dignitaries were available for an opening ceremony. The marina,
which is on the far west side of town, will have 40 slips accommodating
boats from 22-75 feet. There will be a maximum stay of 15 days
in order to accommodate transients - which we think is a great
idea. They'll also have an 80-ton Travel-Lift - which we're told
will be able to handle catamarans - a restaurant, showers, and
eventually a pool and spa. Hot dang, you should see the nice
docks, structures and beautiful palm trees. But with the exploding
demand for slips in La Paz, it's good to know that the El Paraiso
Marina, ultimately slated to have 500 berths, is planned for
the big El Magote development across from the La Paz waterfront.
Only 25 berths will be available in the beginning, and even they
won't be ready for a year or so.
Elvin 'Sealover' and Connie 'Sunlover' of the trimaran Western
Sea, who are the unofficial ambassadors of Puerto Escondido
and the Loreto Fest, stopped by the Ha-Ha awards ceremony in
Cabo San Lucas to give a big welcome to everyone in this year's
group. They reported that Singlar's Travel-Lift has arrived,
but the haul-out infrastructure isn't quite ready. They also
report that Singlar is going to redo all of the 175 or so moorings
in Puerto Escondido. The problem is that, when initially installed,
they put big cement blocks at the bottom, to which they attached
some nylon line, and then some chain to the mooring floating
on the surface. Oops! What's needed is the chain rather than
the line attached to the block, so the nylon line doesn't chafe
through when boats swing.
The news isn't quite so good out of Mazatlan where, in late October,
Antonio Cevallos, Harbormaster at Marina Mazatlan, told us that
the marina and much of the development around it had been sold,
and that the new owner would be installing a new harbormaster
by November 1. This is a terrible disappointment, as Cevallos,
whose brother Geronimo is the harbormaster at the nearby El Cid
Marina, has been one of the most effective, well-respected, and
well-liked harbormasters on the coast. He'll be sorely missed.
The other not-so-good news out of Marina Mazatlan is that the
prices have taken a big jump. Once one of the low-cost marinas
in Mexico, during high season it now costs $420/month, plus 15%
tax, for a 40-ft boat. According to the calculations of Frank
Keavy of Portland, the total price of keeping his 42-ft boat
at Marina Mazatlan jumped from about $350/month to $550/month,
which he said made it more expensive than Marina El Cid, the
three big marinas in La Paz, and Marina San Carlos.
The slip pricing in Mexico reflects, unfortunately, a growing
imbalance of supply and demand. The number of boatowners wanting
slips is rapidly outgrowing the number of slips becoming available.
While there are three 450 to 500 slip marinas in development
- at La Cruz, San Jose del Cabo, and La Paz - none of them will
be ready with any significant capacity for a year or two. Even
then, we expect the number of boatowners wanting slips to outpace
supply for years to come. The one positive sign is that there
is lots of on-the-hard capacity coming online, so, as prices
go up for slips, more folks not using their boats may choose
to keep them on the dirt. The other really great thing about
Mexico is that there are so many great places to anchor that
getting a berth is strictly optional. We can't think of anywhere
in Mexico that doesn't have a good to great free or nearly free
anchorage near the marinas.
Those looking for inexpensive berthing might want to consider
Nova Scotia. Sutter Schumacher, Latitude's new Racing
Editor, was up there two months ago and had this to report:
"While in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, which is 60 miles southwest
of Halifax, we tied the 55-ft Chris White cat we'd be taking
to the Caribbean at the old Scotia Trawler wharf. The cost of
six weeks worth of dock space for the big cat, including shore
power, was less than $300 Canadian - or about $270 U.S. The downside
was that we had to climb through a gap in the fence to get to
the boat after working hours. But there's a decent grocery store
just outside the gate, a chandlery 100 yards down the road, and
the town center is less than five minutes by foot. Because the
shipyard is virtually empty - there was only one boat in drydock
while we were there, the 122-ft Alumercia - it's quiet.
It's not the Ritz of berthing situations, but it was a great
Heading to Cabo even before the start of the Baja
Ha-Ha were Dan Zuiches and his wife Danielle Dignan aboard
the San Francisco-based Farr 44 Confetti. "We bought
Confetti in July of this year, and began a two-year cruise
that may or may not result in a circumnavigation. In any event,
Cape Horn is on our agenda. Our boat has already been around
twice, so we figure that she knows the way. But first we'll stop
along Baja's west coast for some surfing, then head into the
Sea of Cortez to teach for NOLS (the National Outdoor Leadership
School) for the winter. Danielle knows Rich and Sheri Crowe,
who built Confetti in the late '80s, and who are about
to finish their second sea-foam green Farr 44, from the School
of Seamanship at Orange Coast College. We hope to be able to
have the boats side by side in Mexico, as it would probably result
in the most sea-foam green anyone has ever seen in one place!"
"I noticed your comments about the lack of hurricanes in
the Caribbean," writes John Anderton of the Alameda-based
Cabo Rico 38 Sanderling, who spent the summer in Trinidad.
"It's my understanding that there's an El Niño in
the Pacific, and when there is, it affects the weather on a global
scale. A few months ago nobody knew that the El Niño would
form this year, as they haven't figured out what causes it, so
they can't forecast it. Starting in late September or early October,
the moisture content of the atmosphere became very dry in the
Caribbean, as dust storms from the Sahara desert began to travel
across the Atlantic via tropical waves, robbing tropical waves
of the fuel they need to develop into hurricanes. Shortly after
that, the mid to upper level winds switched to their winter configuration,
which means blowing from west to east. As such, any tropical
waves that tried to form got their tops sheared off, and thus
weren't able to develop into much of anything. Meanwhile, the
sailing in the Windwards has been the best that I've enjoyed
in the five years I've been here. In addition, the forecasters
have declared an early end to the hurricane season, so I'm already
in Bequia on my way to St. Barth."
Actually, scientists knew that El Niño conditions, which
are associated with fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic and Caribbean,
have been developing for quite a few months now. The real puzzler
is why mild El Niños - such as the one we're having this
year - often seem to have a greater effect on 'normal' weather
patterns than do strong ones. One of the El Niño effects
is warmer water in the Eastern Pacific. During the Ha-Ha, the
water on the Baja coast was the warmest we can remember, and
Rob Wallace of Kialoa III, Orange Coast College's S&S
80, reported sailing through a patch of 90 degree (!) water about
30 miles north of Cabo. Then there is Sergio, a rare November
hurricane off mainland Mexico which, as we go to press, was featuring
steady winds of over 100 knots. It's not moving much, and seems
to have forecasters stumped. Some predict that it's a threat
to Cabo and La Paz, albeit with only tropical storm force winds,
while others predict that it will head due east and smack into
You're all invited! George Perrochet, President/CEO of the Bahia
Luminosa Resort in Costa Rica, tells us that all cruisers are
welcome to visit his hotel and enjoy the facilities free for
their first day ashore - courtesy of Latitude 38! He likes
the magazine that much, and says his visiting north and southbound
cruisers anchored out front do also. His resort is located at
9º51'N, 84º56'W, fronting "the most protected
bay in Costa Rica" on the gulf side of the Nicoya Peninsula.
By the way, the "facilities" don't include hotel rooms.
But if anybody far from California wants to get their Latitude
right away each month, and with the photos looking more brilliant
than ever, the only option is to subscribe to Latitude
38 on e-Books. It's the complete and entire electronic
version of each issue, and they look great. The price is $18
a year. For details, visit www.latitude38.com/ebooks.html.
According to a decree by the Port Captain at Wreck Bay in the
Galapagos Islands, visiting yachts will now only be given permission
to stop in those enchanted waters for five days. For many years,
cruisers were only given 72 hours. That why everyone showed up
claiming to have a broken engine or some other malady required
them to stay longer on an 'emergency' basis. But for the last
three or four years, yachties have been allowed to stay in the
Galapagos for weeks to a month without any problem. Only time
will tell how hard and fast the new five-day rule will be.
The citizens of Panama voted 78% to 22% last month to go ahead
with a $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal. The plan
is to add another set of much larger locks at each end of the
Canal, and deepen the Canal to make it capable of handling almost
all of the world's ships. (One ship, the just-launched Emma
Maersk, the largest container ship in the world, will be
three feet too wide for even the new locks.) With the expansion
expected to take seven years, and the Canal expected to be operating
at maximum capacity in three to five years, who is going to take
the extra load? It's going to have to be divided among the new
port facility and rail head at Prince Rupert, Canada, the port
of Lazaro Cardenas in Mexico, and the Suez Canal.
What effect will the Canal expansion have on private yachts?
It will almost certainly result in higher transit fees, as somebody
is going to have to foot the bill for the improvements. And,
as already has been seen, shipping concerns have been cutting
into recreational boat facilities in Panama for terminals and
other infrastructure. To our mind, the biggest blunder the Canal
Commission planners could make with their expansion plans is
to not spend a little extra money so that recreational boats
under 60 feet could be taken around the locks by mobile lifts
rather than having to go through the locks. Using 1,050-ft by
110 -ft chambers, as well as millions of gallons of fresh water,
to raise and then lower small boats 85 feet makes no sense to
Given the greatly increased demand for shipping capacity between
China and the East Coast of the United States, there have once
again been noises about building a Canal across Nicaragua. The
biggest obstacle is the $21 billion price tag. Speaking of Nicaragua,
the citizens recently elected Daniel Ortega, the Marxist arch
enemy of the United States, who was booted out of power 16 years
ago, as their new president. Although nobody seems to know for
sure, Ortega appears to have mellowed and become less combative
than before. For example, he's devoutly embraced the Catholic
church that he once battled against, and even supports Nicaragua's
new law that outlaws all abortions - including those when a mother's
life is at risk. He's even spoken of Nicaragua's need for foreign
investment. The tortured screams you're hearing are coming from
Karl Marx, who is thrashing about in his grave. Since Ortega
has not made any particularly provocative anti-American statements
yet, the U.S. government's response to his election has been
equally muted. Since Nicaragua is the third poorest country in
the region behind Haiti and Cuba, let's hope the leaders of both
Nicaragua and the U.S. can work together to improve, rather than
destroy, the lives of the citizens of the country. Whether the
Sandinistas will return to their old ways of expropriating private
property - such as Roberto Membrano's Puesto del Sol Marina -
and/or realign themselves with the PLO, is yet to be known.
If there had been a fishing contest on the Milk Run across the
Pacific last year, the hands down winner would have been Ross
Novak of the Fairbanks-based Westsail 32 Kabuki. According
to fellow '05 Baja Ha-Ha
participant Chris Mellor of the Richmond-based Norseman 447 Sensei,
Novak's goal has been to try to catch 200 specis of fish between
Mexico and New Zealand. By the time he got to Tonga, he'd reeled
in 159. Remarkable.
When it comes to scuba diving from a boat cruising the coast
of California, can anybody top the haul by Scott Stolnitz of
the Marina del Rey-based Switch 51 Beach House? During
a single dive not far from Isthmus Cove on October 8, the dentist
bagged, "Twelve bat ray, stingray, flounder, halibut, angel
shark, and all the other usual stuff - on one dive!" Is
there anything left?
"Everybody said that there weren't any open berths in San
Diego, but I want everyone to know that we were able to host
36 of the Baja Ha-Ha entries of all sizes, from two days to a
month," reports Scott Mac Laggan of Sunroad Marina on San
Diego's Harbor Island. "We enjoyed having them at our marina
and were pleased to be able to help out. They even had a BBQ
at our poolside pavilion, during which time they and some of
our tenants got to meet each other."
Rick Carpenter reports that his Rick's Bar and Zihua Cruisers'
Club reopened for the season on October for the Halloween Party
and remodeling. They'll have the same services as always - restaurant,
bar, internet, showers, coin-op laundry and live music. In addition,
Nathaniel, the 'dinghy valet', will be back at the foot of the
muelle to help everyone land and launch their dinghies.
"As many Latitude readers are aware," writes
Carpenter, "we started the Cruisers' Club last year, with
members paying $50/season for free wi-fi service on the bay,
free showers, and discounts on events such as the Thanksgiving
feast. It cost $1,800 to set up the wi-fi service, but 36 cruisers
signed up as members, so we covered our costs. This year we're
mounting additional repeaters to expand the area of service,
and are also installing a live camera feed overlooking the
bay that will be broadcast over channel 11 TV to the local community.
As such, cruisers will be able to go to any restaurant or bar
in town and check on their boat on tv! It also will allow the
port captain to put a VCR in his office and video all events
in the bay - in case he needs to review an accident or whatever.
We hope it will also appease the panga and fishing boat people,
as it will afford them 24-hour surveillance of their vessels
from their home. I want to remind everyone that Zihua SailFest,
the terrific fund-raiser for local schools, which be held January
31 through February 4. This is a great event that nobody should
miss. And finally, Marina Ixtapa, just a few miles up the coast,
now has a fuel dock and can haul boats to 100 feet!"
'Super J' of Two Harbors saves a life in Cabo! For an off-season
adventure, Seasonal Harbor Patrolmen Chad Powell and Scott Cincota,
from Two Harbors, Catalina, decided they would take an authentic
Mexican panga from Catalina to Panama. Friends and fellow harbor
patrolmen Brett Ruppert, and Jason 'Super J' Clarke from the
dive shop, decided to join them for the Catalina to Puerto Vallarta
portion of the trip. We met them in Cabo, where they told us
about their good times, being scared of getting rolled going
across Bahia de Vizcaino, great surf sessions and all the rest.
In recognition of the four guys great service to all mariners
who visit Two Harbors, the Grand Poobah made them honorary members
of the Baja Ha-Ha. Later
on, Super J and the Poobah were standing on the beach at Cabo
during the Ha-Ha beach party, when a set of three unusually large
waves came through, scattering parents and infants alike. Everyone
directly in front of the two seemed to be all right, but suddenly
the two noticed that a woman, not part of the Ha-Ha, off to the
side was floundering. She'd obviously been drubbed by the three
waves, was gasping, disoriented, tangled in some line - and about
to be brain-damaged or die not 100 feet from throngs of people.
Super J, 'body by Budweiser' - ran down, grabbed her as the next
wave was rag-dolling her, and pulled her up the beach to safety.
It wasn't the most difficult rescue in history, but if it hadn't
been for Super J, she'd have been toast.
The cruising season has begun!