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Profligate's Progress

January 12 - St. Barth, FWI

Yesterday being Sunday, the day of rest, we got an early start on the fun. The first order of business was getting a couple of photos of Moonshine, John and Lynn Ringseis' new Lagoon 41 catamaran, on which they are about to start doing crewed charters here in the Eastern Caribbean.

Moonshine on a romp in the Caribbean off St.Barth.

We met John and Lynn a couple of days after arriving in St. Barth, and were surprised to learn they are from Bel Marin Keys in Novato. Having since become good friends, we learned that they've done two tours of duty crewing on charter boats for The Moorings. The first session was in the British Virgins Islands aboard a monohull. It was a lot of fun, but it's very hard work, so like a lot of folks they got burned out. What lured them back two years ago was friends telling them how much easier the job is aboard a catamaran. So they returned for a second session, this time aboard a Moorings 45 cat down island. Although they burned out again after a season of this, they learned that chartering was indeed a lot easier on a cat.

After taking a break from sailing for a year, they decided the really cool way to live life would by sailing in the Caribbean seven months a year, chartering some of the time, then returning to their Bel Marin Keys home for the remaining five months of the year. This, they figured, would be much more interesting than leading a comfortably retired life 12 months a year in Marin. Lynn was actually the big instigator behind the idea. She got her start sailing after hitchhiking around Europe with her boyfriend. At age 22, with no sailing experience, the two of them joined four others on a Gib Sea 33 - what a crowded boat - in Marseilles for a 4,000 mile trip to the Caribbean. "We had a blast!"

A year ago the couple started looking at every cat in the world to find the ideal one for them. After detailed investigations, their choice somewhat surprised them - a new Lagoon 41. They picked her up in La Rochelle, France, and spent the summer cruising the Atlantic coast of France and Spain - where, they assured us, it can be every bit as foggy as the coast of Northern California. Late in the year, joined by a couple of friends, they sailed across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. Although they expect to do most of their chartering in the British Virgins because it's such a natural, they've spent most of their time in St. Barth. "We hate to have to leave this place."

We get ourselves in such ruts that it's hard to remember it's possible to enjoy life in January - such as on a charter cat like Moonshine.

These folks are instantly likable, are very experienced with crewed charters, and know the great cruising grounds and activities - so we would highly recommend them. They can take as many as six guests, but plan on specializing in taking between two and four. For more details, visit their website at www.moonshinecat.com.

Lynn is a real sweetheart, and is great in the galley. You should taste her Painkiller Pancakes the morning after a wild jump up.

John, at the helm of Moonshine.

Well, that took care of until about 11 a.m, when the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca found Profligate pointing at 28-mile distant Saba, which looks like a steep pyramid pointing out of the ocean. We'll have more details on this unique island in the print version of Latitude 38. It was a brisk screecher reach to the island, with lots of 13s and 14s on a bouncy sea, followed by a slow sail around the leeward side of the island, then a beat back, initially in the direction of St. Barth. In the early going, we were able to lay the island and there was good wind. Alas, halfway back, the wind dropped to seven knots and we took a big header. When darkness fell at 7 p.m., we were still eight miles to leeward of St. Barth, but decided it was best to drop the sails and motor the rest of the way back. It turned out to be a good call, as 20 minutes later we were hit by the first of a series of nasty squalls in the pitch black.

Saba ­ pronounced Say-Bah - juts right out of the ocean and almost always wears a halo.

The old customs house at Saba. Check out the stairs.

Only a couple of miles in diameter, Saba is 3,000 feet tall.

Saba is world renowned for great diving -and a bad anchorage. To give you some reference, the mast of this Perini Navi is nearly 200 feet tall.

In the past we've questioned the usefulness of navigation programs such as Nobeltec. We're changing our minds. Although we didn't need it last night, it would have made things a lot easier - and therefore safer.

Despite the squalls, darkness, and unlit boats, we dropped the hook perfectly in the best spot in the whole damn harbor. Très bon! After sleeping like a rock, we awoke to a dawn as lovely as could be. There's nothing quite like an early morning dive into the warm and clear Caribbean to take the sting out of January.

After a night of squalls, it's another beautiful Caribbean morning.

Now all we have to do is find our crew John. Last we heard, he had hopped aboard the 65-ft classic Lone Fox yesterday morning when he learned there were a bunch of models aboard for a fashion shoot. Ah, life in the Sunny Caribbee!

Mystery question of the day: It's been 3.5 months, 4,500 miles, and two emergency haulouts since Profligate last had her bottom painted - and there's been absolutely nothing that has grown on her bottom. Why is that? The same, obviously, can't be said for her dinghy, which was hauled yesterday for a bottom scrub. That leads to question number two. It is better to lift the dinghy and scrub once a week, or put bottom paint on her?

That's one nasty bottom, which wastes gas and prevents planing.
Photos Latitude/Richard

For crewing possibilities on Profligate in the Caribbean this winter, see the end of the January 5 edition of 'Lectronic Latitude.

Conserving Mexico's Marine Life

January 12 - La Paz, BCS

Gene Kira writes a Baja Beat column each week in Western Outdoor News, a weekly newspaper for hunters and fishermen. He reports in that publication: "A wave of euphoria swept through the Baja conservation community last week, in the wake of a watershed visit to La Paz and Cabo San Lucas by Mexico's newly appointed fisheries chief, Ramón Corral Ávila.

Ramón Corral Ávila.
Photo courtesy El Peninsular

"In a series of public and private meetings lasting far into the night, Corral Ávila broke new ground when he declared for the first time ever that the official policy of Conapesca would henceforth include:
Banning of drift gillnets in all Mexican waters.
Banning longlines inside 50 miles by boats longer than 27 feet.
Banning of foreign factory ships from Mexican waters.
Banning 'shark research' boats from taking dorado, billfish and other gamefish as 'bycatch' inside 50 miles.

"One highly-placed source in Mexico said last week, 'Baja California Sur is the only state in Mexico that cares about conservation, because it is the only state whose economy is based on sportfishing and tourism. In every other state, even Baja California, the northern state, nobody gives a damn.'

"As evidence of this statement's veracity, I offer the city of Ensenada, gateway to Mex 1 and the Baja California peninsula, which has become a port of convenience for foreign ships plundering the Mexican coast with gillnets and longlines. Or, the state of Sinaloa, overwhelmed by outlaw shrimp pangas, or the city of Acapulco, whose public fish markets are filled to overflowing with sailfish - stacked like cordwood, every morning, everywhere you look.

"One fervently hopes that the new head of Conapesca can actually deliver even just a portion of what he appeared to offer. Even that much would be an auspicious beginning of a new era of sustained, coordinated management of Mexico's marine resources for the equitable benefit of all its citizens."


January 12 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? The YOTREPS daily yacht tracking page has moved to www.bitwrangler.com/psn.

Weather Links

January 12 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

Check out this guide to San Francisco Bay Navigational Aids: http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/sfports.html.

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/wind.

The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay is at www.wrh.noaa.gov/Monterey.

California Coast Weather

Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.: www.ndbc.noaa.gov/Maps/Southwest.shtml.

Pacific Winds and Pressure

The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.

Pacific Sea State

The site for the Pacific Ocean sea states has moved to http://www.mpc.ncep.noaa.gov/shtml/PacRegSSA.shtml.
For views of sea states anywhere in the world, see http://www.oceanweather.com/data.

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