June 27, 2012

Picture-Perfect Tahitian Welcome

With their pre-departure anxieties a distant memory, Puddle Jumpers were all smiles at the opening party of this year’s Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous.

latitude/Andy
©2012 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It goes against the very nature of cruising to have to be someplace on a particular date. But well over 100 South Pacific cruisers made special efforts to attend this year’s Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous, held last weekend (June 22-24). Because we’re sitting in a thatch-roofed bungalow with sketchy wi-fi and our laptop is about to die, we’ll just give you some highlights here and save the full-blown report for the August 1 edition of Latitude 38 magazine.

When we arrived in Papeete last Thursday there was good news and bad from local weather prognosticators: Plenty of wind was predicted for Saturday’s sailing rally from Tahiti to Moorea (roughly 16 miles), but rain was expected throughout the weekend. Luckily, the forecast was only half right. We had booming 22- to 25-knot winds for the crossing with rowdy seas which made for spirited sailing, but the rain gods held their water until after dark each day.

You know you’re in Polynesia when you find yourself witnessing a dance show like this one.

latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The annual Rendezvous has a dual purpose: to celebrate the fleet’s successful crossing from various points along the West Coast of the Americas, and to introduce the arriving sailors to highly revered traditions of Polynesian culture in music, dance, sport and cuisine. Thus, it becomes a memorable benchmark in the travels of all who attend.

With plenty of wind to power the fleet, the start of the rally-race to Moorea’s Opunohu Bay was serenaded by a troupe of Tahitian drummers.

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In addition to our full report in next month’s magazine, we’ll have a recap on the crossings of the entire Pacific Puddle Jump fleet in September. Online sign-ups for the 2013 Puddle Jump will begin in December, and next year’s Rendezvous will be held again in late June (dates TBA soon).

The seas were lumpy, but the wind was strong, making for a fun, fast crossing.

latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
The ancient fruit carrier’s race is always fun for all ages.

latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
An all-girl canoe team from four different boats strikes a pose with the Marquesan drummers.

latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
The highlight of Sunday’s beach activities is always the six-person outrigger canoe races, where cruisers join local pros in a round-robin competition. Big fun!

latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Ex-Captives to Cruise Again

Paul and Rachel Chandler, who were kidnapped by Somali pirates near the Seychelles in October ’09 and were released a little over a year later, are ready to head out again on their repaired Rival 38 Lynn Rival. The Chandlers were held for 388 days before their captors accepted about $700,000 in ransom, and they say they still owe friends and family a lot of money. While those same people are supportive of their decision to continue cruising, Rachel says, "some of our friends don’t understand our passion for sailing, for cruising, for traveling." But from their perspective, if they’d stopped cruising, the pirates would have won. "If we weren’t to go back to doing that we’d have a huge hole in our lives," says Paul. "We would have been defeated."

Paul and Rachel Chandler’s book Hostage drops in the U.S. in September.

© 2012 Chicago Review Press

Incidentally, we’ve received a review copy of the Chandlers account of their ordeal, Hostage: A Year at Gunpoint with Somali Pirates, and what we’ve read has been gripping. Did you know, for example, that Lynn Rival was recovered quickly after the attack and was stored in a yard in England for the year the Chandlers were captive? The book will be released this September by Chicago Review Press and can be pre-ordered from Amazon. (There also appears to be British release of the book, so if you don’t want to wait for the ‘Americanized’ edition, you can pick it up used now.)

Looking emaciated, Debbie Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari’s family say the couple were ‘fattened up’ by the pirates for the last several weeks of their captivity.

© AP

In other Somali pirate news, South Africans Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz were released last Thursday after 20 months in captivity. The couple were sailing toward Mozambique in October 2010 on a yacht delivery when they were taken hostage (a third crewmember managed to escape). It’s estimated that the pirates were paid $700,000 for their release.

Cabo Pulmo has been saved from a massive resort development…for now. © Webb Logg Cabo Cortes, a condo/hotel project in the East Cape area of Baja that was to rival Cancun in size, has been cancelled by outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderón, reported Tim Johnson, Mexico City bureau chief for the McClatchy newspaper group.
"According to documents on the South Beach Harbor website, now hosted on SFPort.com, the new custodians of South Beach Harbor, the marina’s operating expenses increased 15% and their deficit spending increased 400% (from $205,000 to $809,000).