Houoli Makahiki Hou from Hawaii
December 31 - Kaneohe, HI
Photo Marcy Fleming
"This is a prior New Year's morning at the Kaneohe Bay Sandbar," writes Marcy Fleming. "Alas, weather spotters are calling for a front to come through with 60-kt winds and lots of rain, so this year local sailors will likely be bunked down with friends onshore."
Storm Wave Wrecks Sailboat in Lahaina
December 31 - Lahaina, HI
"We lost our beloved boat Wings yesterday," writes Pat Shannon. "It broke loose from its mooring on the roadstead off Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii. We had to have it removed by crane and put on a flat bed.
"There were big holes in the starboard side, plus the gelcoat around the keel was broken real bad. The damage was too much. It would have cost more to fix her than she's worth on the books of the insurance company. Now she sits in Maalaea waiting to be cut up. I told my husband that's one thing I just can't watch.
Photos Pat Shannon
"As you all know there's a 20 year wait to get a slip on Maui. If you have money, you can always 'buy' a slip aka corporation. After our children were through with school and grown we finally had enough money to purchase a small sailboat (a Morgan 27), which we have put a lot of love and money into. We finally had it just the way we wanted her after an extensive drydock last spring. A huge wave hit Lahaina (we were told it was 8-ft high) in a storm. The harbormaster called us at 5:15 a.m. and told us our boat was on the beach, on the rocks."
Captain Lost from French Sloop
December 31 - Cartagena, Colombia
There were no casualties in the Wings incident, but the people aboard the Amzer Zo in Colombia were not so fortunate.
"On December 10 the French sailing sloop Amzer Zo (blue wing) collided with a freighter off the Colombian coast between Barranquilla and Cartagena." So reports Bruce Schwegler of the 47-ft catamaran Delphinus in Cartagena from Portland, OR.
"The Amzer Zo is a 9.91 meter steel boat. The collision occurred at about 10:00 a.m. in good visibility, but the approaching freighter was obscured by the jib. The captain, Claude Bertine (a 46-year old French national) was thrown overboard by the collision. The only other person on board, Bertine's fiancée, Jucilene Bento Morales (a 35-year old Brazilian national) had zero sailing experience. She did not know how to lower the sails and the boat sailed/drifted on with a bent and unusable rudder.
"The damage I observed indicated to me that the boat would have been smashed to kindling if it was fiberglass and not steel. Jucilene was asleep in the cockpit; she violently hit her head and was thrown below though the companionway. She tried to throw the horseshoe life ring but it was jammed by the force of the collision. Claude called for her to throw his swim fins but she could not find them because the boat had been rolled 90 degrees in the collision and the everything was piled on the cabin sole. By the time she found the fins he was out of sight.
"As the freighter passed, Jucilene said that she could see someone looking down at them from the bridge of the freighter, but it motored on and made no attempt to help or call for help. The Amzer Zo was in sight of land, and Claude was a strong swimmer and diver, but as of today (20 days later) he has not been found and regrettably must be assumed lost.
"The Amzer Zo sailed/drifted on for about 30 hours. Jucilene located a broken wire in the VHF mic cord and spliced it together. She did not know the international Mayday call, but sighted a fishing vessel and called for help. The fishing vessel approached and took the Amzer Zo in tow to Cartagena.
"Jucilene is slowly recovering from the trauma of losing her fiancé, and departed for home today to be with her mother and two daughters, age 11 and 13. The Amzer Zo is at the Colombian Coast Guard dock and has a rescue and storage fee of about $1,200 on her. The boat is in bad shape and in my opinion is not worth repairing, but the Coast Guard is awaiting word from Claude's son as to what to do with her.
Photos Bruce Schwegler
"There are a several of lessons to be learned from this tragedy: Keep a sharp lookout and check behind the sails often. Practice your man overboard drill with all new (and old) crew members. The drill may have to be modified to the sailing ability of the crew. In this case, if Jucilene had known how to lower the sails the tragedy may have been averted."
December 31 - St. Barth, FWI
What's the difference between Mexico and St. Barth? The cost of living is one. St. Barth, which has always been expensive, has just become 30% more expensive because of the weak dollar against the euro. A comparable meal in Puerto Vallarta last month cost 1/5th to 1/10th of that in St. Barth. So we're not eating out much.
And unlike Mexico, the wind is always blowing here. Always 10 to 12 with lots of 15 to 25. You never, ever get that stillness that often exists in Mexico.
The average person you meet in Mexico is much, much, much more friendly than the average person in the Caribbean. Which is not to say we don't have many, many great friends here.
We hope to have more after the New Year, including a report on the Chris Havel family of Oakland. You may remember they bought a Stevens 47 on the East Coast last year, cruised the Northeast last summer, and are now cruising the Caribbean.
Here's to wishing everyone a great New Year - and to reminding everyone that as bad as our troubles might seem, the tsunami victims and survivors had/have it much worse.
Note: The Wanderer has already had a holiday miracle. A diver found his wallet three days after it was lost, under a dock, with credit cards spread out for a 30-ft stretch beneath the busy dinghy dock!
Chewbacca in Cartagena for Christmas
December 31 - Cartagena, Colombia
Alameda's cruising Winship family checks in: "It is a hot and muggy day here in Cartagena, Colombia, where Chewbacca is stern-tied to the dock at Club Nautico. Christmas lights decorate many of the cruising sailboats, while we on Chewbacca struggle to remember where our 1-ft plastic Christmas tree is tucked away on our 30-ft catamaran. Four years have gone by in a blink of an eye and the kids that departed San Francisco are now nearing the preteen years, while the parents are pushing middle age!
Kendall, April, Quincy and Bruce Winship in the Panama Canal
"Beginning with the Ha-Ha class of 2000, we were lucky to be thrown together with some knowledgeable cruisers, many of whom our paths still cross, and others we keep in touch with through email and the cruiser grapevine, Latitude 38. Our favorite place was the Sea of Cortez during the summer months when the water is clear and warm. We learned a lot about cruising in the sea where you can see your anchor hit the sand, and provisioning and water management lessons were incorporated into daily life. Our plan was to stay long enough on the isolated hook and ration our cruising kitty to enjoy a Christmas vacation at Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta. We came for a week, and spent a most enjoyable month.
Photos Courtesy the Winships
"After 18 months in Mexico we felt secure enough in our cruising abilities and ventured into Central America. We took several land trips which included time in the Guatemalan Highlands and visiting the Mayan ruins of Copan in Honduras. In Costa Rica our favorite places were the isolated bays of Bahia Santa Elena and Bahia Drake. All too soon a year passed beneath our hulls, and we continued on to Panama and the San Blas Islands.
"We will be here in Cartagena for many months completing lists of boat projects that we have been holding off for the last ten years. Cartagena has several haulout facilities and a skilled labor force experienced in gelcoat, varnish, wood, fiberglass and painting work."
New Latitudes for a New Year
December 30 - SF Bay Area
The first 2005 issue of Latitude 38 has already hit the docks a couple of days early, accompanied by the 2005 Sailing Calendar - you can pick them up at all the usual outlets.
Regarding the cover of the January issue, Rick Dalton of the s/v Iowa just emailed us: "Your picture on this month's cover is of Nakia, owned by John Gratton and his wife Linda Hill. That's Linda on the bow. It's a Hans Christian 33 from Redwood City. I just talked with them this morning on the SSB, and they are still cruising somewhere in the vicinity of Zihuatanejo."