Among the hundreds of cruisers arriving in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean this season, many are considering making the 3,000-mile passage to the South Pacific this spring — the so-called Pacific Puddle Jump.
As in years past, Latitude 38 will devote lots of editorial coverage to that annual migration, and will hold special events in both Mexico and Tahiti for ‘Class of ’09’ Puddle Jumpers.
Our Zihua Puddle Jump Kickoff Party is slated for February 9 (the day after the Zihua Fest, location TBA), and our Banderas Bay event will be February 12, 2-5 p.m. at the Vallarta YC, at Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta. We anticipate that both events will be co-sponsored by Tahiti Tourism, whose representatives will present an inticing and highly informative digital slide show. Each crew will be interviewed and photographed for inclusion in Latitude. Plus, we’ll have guest speakers, party games, free drinks and snacks, and more.
In celebration of the arrival of this year’s fleet, Latitude 38 will assist Tahiti Tourism in hosting the Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous, June 19-21. This free event is focused on cross-cultural appreciation and includes a cocktail party, a sailing rally to Moorea, Polynesian music and dance performances, and cruiser participation in traditional Tahitian sports — the highlight of which is the six-person outrigger canoe races. It’s great fun for both young and old, so if you’re heading west this spring we urge you to time your arrival at Papeete to coincide with the fourth annual Sailing Rendezvous.
The biggest drug bust in Irish history occurred on the high seas on November 6, when armed teams boarded the MacGregor 65 Dances With Waves about 150 miles southwest of County Cork. The bust was all the more dramatic for occurring in gale-force winds which had battered the yacht in the latter half of its trip from the Caribbean. In addition to three crew — two Brits and an Irishman — officials found 75 bundles of cocaine worth an estimated $630 million.
In recent years, Ireland has become a favored drop-off point in international drug smuggling routes from South and Central America and West Africa. Indeed, on her three-week crossing, Dances With Waves rendezvoused at sea with another yacht sailing out of Africa to transfer at least part of her cargo. The drops are usually made in inlets along the rugged and sparsely-populated southern coast. From there the cargo moves on to Britain and mainland Europe. But interdiction methods are getting better. The Dances With Waves bust was part of Operation Seabright, in which law enforcement agencies in several countries liaise and exploit military-like technology against drug smugglers. Dances With Waves had been under surveillance by the DEA since being purchased in Trinidad several months ago, and by the time she took off for the Emerald Isle, Irish authorities had been alerted and were ready.
Exactly who owned the yacht is currently under investigation. It’s now thought that the three crew, aged 42 to 55, were probably mules, taking part in the scheme only for a quick payoff. Dances With Waves herself is a pilothouse version of the MacGregor 65, about 100 of which were built at the Costa Mesa facility between the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. According to the builder, Dances was built for an overseas owner who cruised her for many years in the South Pacific. She was sold after he passed away a few years ago.
The Vallejo YC reports that the BCDC has finally approved permits to dredge the VYC harbor and replace the deteriorating wooden breakwater. Dredging has already begun and the new steel seawall is expected to be finished in February. "This will make the harbor much more hospitable for visiting boats and those participating in next May’s Great Vallejo Race," said VYC Vice Commodore Eric Jacobsen. We’ll have more in the December issue of Latitude 38, due to hit the streets December 1.
Tom and Diane Might, and their Hallberg-Rassy 62 Between The Sheets, have done their landlocked hometown of Phoenix proud by being the first of 47 entries to cross the finish line in the 19th annual Caribbean 1500 from Hampton, Virginia, to Tortola in the British Virgins. The Mights, vets of the event, were aided by crew Ian Jones. Due to one of several shortcomings of the 1500 website, we have no idea how long it took them or how much they might have motored.
The mighty Mights finished on Friday morning, and all but two or three of the other boats should have finished by tonight — in time for the Mount Gay Rum Party. Among the other finishers is Manhattan Beach circumnavigator Mike Harker with his Hunter 49 Wanderlust 3, who doesn’t drink alcohol, let alone Mount Gay. The only other West Coast boat slated to enter was Seth and Elizabeth Hynes’ Lagoon 380, which was from an unspecified place in California and had yet to be named. It’s unclear from the website whether they started or finished.
Further plans call for Harker to sail to St. Barth for the New Year’s Eve Around the Island Race. Another West Coast sailor, Vendée vet Bruce Schwab with his Wylie 65 OceanPlanet, is apparently intending to enter that fun race also. Schwab reports that the one thing he neglected to buy before sailing to the Caribbean was a dinghy. When you sail around the world non-stop, you have no need for such things.
In other Caribbean news, Janet Hein of the Gig Harbor, Washington-based 34-ft gaff cutter Woodwind reports that Obama T-shirts and buttons are being worn by just about everyone in the West Indies. This is particularly true in the U.S. Virgins — despite the fact that residents can’t vote for president. But perhaps the greatest honor bestowed on the president-elect was by the Prime Minister of Antigua, who renamed the island’s tallest peak after Obama! Oh, the curse of unlimited expectations!