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February 2015

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With reports this month from Serenity on a less than pleasant westbound crossing of the Atlantic; from the Massaro family on Benevento on an educational cruise from the Spanish Virgins up the East Coast to Cape Cod and a nice eastbound crossing of the Atlantic; from Eleutheria on a nasty pre-Thanksgiving passage from Maui to Oahu; cruiser remembrances of the Careyes Resort on Mexico's Gold Coast; healthy and inexpensive eating suggestions in Mexico; and Cruise Notes.

Serenity — Tayana 52DS
Gordon and Sherry Cornett
Crossing the Atlantic

Shortly before Christmas we arrived safe and sound — but extremely tired — at the Port du Marin Marina in Martinique after taking 28 days to cross the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands. It was a very slow time for us, but then our crossing had been quite challenging.

We're not exactly cruising novices. We did the 2009 Ha-Ha, then sailed across the Pacific the next year to wait out cyclone season in New Zealand. After sailing back to the South Pacific, we continued on to Australia, where we waited out another cyclone season while doing lots of land travel. In 2011, we sailed up the east coast of Oz to Darwin to join the Indonesian Rally. After that, we continued on to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Because of the threat of pirates, we had Serenity shipped to Turkey. We then cruised Turkey, Greece, Albania and Croatia. After crossing the Adriatic to Italy, we sailed down to Sicily, where we wintered at Marina di Ragusa. In April last year we did the west coast of Italy and continued on to Elba, Corsica, Sardinia, Menorca, mainland Spain and Gibraltar.

After a stop at Morocco, we made it to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands to join 19 other boats for the November 18 start of Jimmy Cornell's Atlantic Odyssey to Martinique. Over the years we've found that rallies provide us with the opportunity to meet some great people in the cruising community while having a great time.

Our ill-fated 2,700-mile crossing of the Atlantic began with four days of motoring because there was no wind. This is apparently normal around the Canaries. Even though we expected it, this used up a lot of our fuel. We were then hit by four cold fronts, which brought rain, thunder and lightning. It also brought wind from the southwest, the very direction we were headed! And this was supposed to be a glorious off-the-wind tradewind sail. When we finally got far enough south to find the ENE trades, they were very light.

We had more than weather problems. The clew ring on our genoa, the sail that provides most of our drive when sailing off the wind, blew out. As such, we were unable to use the sail until I was able to complete a repair. In addition, our generator died and the genoa furling line pulled out once we reset the repaired genoa.

Those were lesser problems compared to our autopilot's dying 780 miles from Martinique. This meant that the two of us had to hand-steer for over eight days, something that proved to be a physical and mental disaster. We did one-hour- on, one-hour-off watches, then hove-to at midnight to get five hours' sleep.

Many of the other Atlantic Odyssey participants were on the dock to cheer our arrival when we finally got to Martinique, which was nice. But after nearly a month, ours wasn't even the last boat to finish, as others had challenging crossings as well.

To think that we had told friends how much we were looking forward to the 'tradewind crossing'! It was not a lot of fun. But we made it, and it's safe to say the next time we cross the Atlantic it will probably be aboard a 747.

After some cruising in the Caribbean, including Cartagena, we plan to continue on through the Panama Canal, complete our circumnavigation in Mexico, and return to our home port of Ventura.

— the cornetts 12/22/2014

Benevento — Pacific Seacraft 40
The Massaro Family
The Other Latitude 38
(San Francisco)

As we mentioned in Part 1 of our report, it's been more than 12,000 nautical miles since we — my husband Darold, our 10-year-old son Dante, and I — left San Francisco in September 2013 on a two-year cruise. We sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, turned left, and six months later were in Puerto Rico facing the decision of where to go next.

One decision could have been to continue heading east toward the US and British Virgin Islands, and maybe as far southeast as St. Martin or Dominica. Doing that, however, would have meant that we would have to make doubletime it back up the East Coast of the U.S. in order to be in Georgia by June 1, something required by our insurance company. So we decided to head to the Bahamas, then north to the U.S.

We spent a month cruising the Bahamas, including a visit to Acklins Island (where we had the anchorage all to ourselves), Thunderball Grotto near Staniel Cay (which was like swimming in a kaleidoscope of fish), Georgetown (in time for the Family Island Regatta), and the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park (which was breathtaking). A month wasn’t nearly enough time to do justice to the Bahamas. In fact, our entire trip has seemed more like a sampling than a comprehensive tour. It's really just been appetizers for a much longer trip in retirement — or sooner.

We arrived back in the U.S. at Fort Lauderdale, and spent time in Miami, the Everglades, and Cape Canaveral before traveling inland to Orlando. We do, after all, have a child with us. We dubbed the rest of the season 'The Summer of American History', as we alternated between going up the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and sailing coastal waters north.

One aspect of sailing the East Coast versus the West Coast is the vast number of anchoring possibilities on the East Coast. It's no problem sailing for the day and being able to find a place to drop the hook that night.

After stopping in St. Mary’s, Georgia and the Cumberland Island Seashore (famous for its feral horses, historic Cargenie mansions, and the trees that were used to build the hull of the U.S.S. Constitution), we made our way up to the Savannah River. Passing lots of container ships, we tied up at the Savannah city dock, which was charming. We then anchored in Charleston's Ashley River, with Fort Sumter, site of the first battle in the Civil War, in view. Even though it was hot, we absolutely loved Charleston.

In addition, we thoroughly enjoyed the remote and beautiful anchorages of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia as we made our way up the ICW. Thanks to the suggestion of Robert, an awesome lockmaster, we tied up safely inside a lock within the Great Dismal Swamp as hurricane Arthur roared through the Outer Banks. Robert also converted the Triton’s trumpet conch shell we'd bought from the Kuna Yala in Panama into a horn, much to the delight of Dante.

After the hurricane passed, we continued to Hospital Point anchorage on the Elizabeth River between Portsmouth and Norfolk. We kept the boat there for 10 days while we rented a car and visited many of the amazing 'Colonial Triangle' locations in Virginia, including Jamestown (first British colony in US), Yorktown (definitive American Revolution battle precipitating the end of the war), and Colonial Williamsburg (Disneyland for history geeks). We loved it. The Mariner’s Museum in Newport News was perhaps our favorite museum. An entire day wasn't enough for that alone.

Continuing our first-person American history lesson, we made a detour to go up the Potomac River to Washington, DC, stopping at Mount Vernon along the way. Tolling the ship's bell three times has been a tradition since the night George Washington died.

Washington, DC has been one of our favorite stops so far. We anchored on the Washington Channel next to the welcoming Capital YC, with the Washington Monument serving as one of the bearings for our anchorage. For a small fee we were granted access to a secure dinghy dock, Wi-Fi, the yacht club facilities — and the very friendly members of the club. Even though we were there for two weeks, we barely scratched the surface of what there was worth seeing in the District of Columbia.

We then wound our way up the Chesapeake, and made stops in St. Michaels and Annapolis, and then crossed over to the Delaware River via the C&D Canal. It’s a tight squeeze in that canal — which we traversed at night — with all the container ships.

We continued north up the Delaware and spent a few days in Philadelphia. We found a small anchorage just north of Penn’s Landing, and had time to visit the city’s amazing historical center, have a few cheesesteaks, and run up the art museum’s steps a la Rocky Balboa. Dante had been learning about the Constitution, and visiting Independence Hall brought his history lessons in books to life. The National Park Service does an outstanding job of interpreting our nation’s historic sights.

We sailed directly to New York City, motoring under the Verrazano-Narrws Bridge just as the sun was rising. It was an amazing sight and gave us a feeling of great accomplishment. We briefly anchored by the Statue of Liberty for a photo shoot.

Transient slips in New York Harbor are quite expensive — upwards of $6/foot per night — so we made our way up the Hudson River to the 79th St. Boat Basin, which is operated by the New York Parks Department. We secured a mooring for $30/night. The price was right and the access to the city was excellent.

We made our way up the Hudson River, passing beneath the Tappan Zee Bridge to Tarrytown, where we picked up family. We would later anchor for a week at Croton-on-Hudson while visiting with relatives. Then it was back down to New York Harbor, up the East River, through Hell’s Gate — wisely timed with slack tide — and into Long Island Sound.

We made our way over to Mystic, home of the famous Mystic Seaport, where our Uncle Roger joined us for a sail to Block Island, Rhode Island, and Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts. Of all the anchorages we'd stayed in the previous year, Block Island on Labor Day was definitely the most crowded! In spite of that, it was still a great place to visit. From there we went to Cape Cod, leaving the boat at Hyannis while staying with family and getting Benevento and ourselves ready for the Atlantic crossing.

It was amazing to stop and think of all we'd seen and done in just one year of cruising. We can easily see how cruisers could spend years in single locations we’ve visited, such as the Sea of Cortez, the San Blas Islands, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the ICW, the Chesapeake Bay or New England. We realize we’re moving too fast, but that’s the trouble with having a timeframe of only two years to do our trip. We've perhaps been a bit too ambitious in planning, but it has been worth it. Just about everyone has told us that the most dangerous piece of equipment on a sailboat is a calendar. They are right.

Our trip across the Atlantic was thankfully uneventful. It took 16 days to get from Cape Cod to the Azores, and then another eight days to make landfall in Lisbon, Portugal — which, like San Francisco, is at latitude 38. It was during the crossing that we used a professional weather service — Commander's Weather — for the first time. We were pleased with their forecasts and service.

Now safely on the other side of the pond with a little time to reflect, we recognize that cruising is no vacation. Between home-schooling, provisioning, boat repairs, laundry and passage-making, it’s a full-time job. But it’s also the adventure of a lifetime. As it happens when you live life large, time seems to compress and expand like an accordion. Time is flying by for us, but when we look back at our photos it seems as though it’s been ages, not just a year, since we left San Francisco.

Our trip has been an incredible experience for Dante, who turned 11 in the middle of the Atlantic. He has become more worldly and mature, through both direct learning and osmosis. His favorite experience so far has been the San Blas Islands, we suspect for the friends he made as much as the snorkeling and scenery. "Boatschooling isn't very much fun, but cruising is awesome!" he says. I think it’s time to give him longer watches!

— the massaros 11/30/2014

Eleutheria — Tartan 37
Lewis Allen and Alyssa Alexopolous
Maui to Oahu Sleigh Ride
(Redwood City)

Let me start by reminding ourselves and fellow cruisers that sailing and schedules don't go together. We have always held true to our rule that visitors can choose either a location or a date to meet up with us, but not both. This prevents us from pushing our boat and ourselves in conditions that we would not find ourselves in by choice.

The rule has served us well — until we broke it just before Thanksgiving by sailing fron Maui to Oahu in order to meet family. The story that follows is that of our punishment for breaking the aforementioned rule. Neptune was paying attention to our lapse in judgment and smacked us for it.

We sailed up the leeward side of Maui as far as the Kaanapali Coast before hitting the 30-knot headwinds gusting down the Pailolo Channel between Maui and Molokai. Ahead of us was a sea of whitecaps and waves that periodically broke. We double reefed the main and sheeted the sail as flat as possible. We then furled the genoa and raised the yankee on the inner stay, leading the sheet outboard and sheeting it flat, too. We decided we were then ready for the channel and fell off.

When the sails filled, Ellie heeled and bore off on a beam reach across the channel at 7 knots. Even under reduced canvas she was making too much way on. This was the first tine I wished we had a third reef point. I decided the wind wasn’t putting a dangerous load on the rig yet, so I would just handsteer and enjoy the roller coaster ride across the channel. After all, it was only 12 miles until we reached Molokai — and what I assumed would be a good lee.

We tore across the channel with big wind and breaking seas pooping the cockpit every five minutes. But we’re young and hardcore, so we threw out a handline with a cedar plug, convinced that we could land a mahi at such speeds. After 15 minutes the bungee went tight, and I called Lyss to come pull it in. The sailing conditions demanded 100% of my attention, so she was on her own to land the fish.

Using her gloves, she pulled in a wildly flailing 42-inch mahi, with blood splattering everywhere. We'd heard that flipping a mahi over and hugging it might calm the fish. We then tail-wrapped it, made some cuts, and threw him over the leeward side to bleed out. Alyssa finished bagging the filets just before we passed the eastern point of Molokai. We were happy to have fresh fish for the first time since the Marquesas.

We discovered that the trades howl down the Pailolo Channel, split at Lanai, and turn down the coast of Molokai, ripping down the Kalohi Channel between Molokai and Lanai. So instead of finding a pleasant lee, we found more 30-35 knot winds and the same big seas. The only difference was that we were now sailing with the wind on the starboard quarter, so there was much less motion and strain on Ellie. Although it was still blowing 30 knots, we had a nice sail toward Lono Harbor, which we assumed would be a good overnight anchorage.

Lono Harbor features a man-made breakwater on the SW end of Molokai. It was built so sand harvested from Molokai could be taken to Oahu to create the beach at Waikiki. We read that you can enter Lono Harbor in most settled conditions.

As we approached Lono, we started to see breaking waves. Studying them, we saw that they were breaking on the east side of the breakwater, suggesting that it was just the trades breaking against the wall. Business as usual.

According to our chart, the entrance to Lono is about 50 yards wide, which I felt was adequate, even if we had to fight the wind to get in. As we got closer, we could see that sometimes there was a swell all the way across the entrance, but never a breaking wave. Deciding it was safe, we began to close on land.

A half mile out, I told Alyssa that I was noticing a large swell, and that we should keep an eye out as a rogue set could catch us in shallow water outside the breakwater entrance. That would be very bad.

We were in 25 feet of water and lined up with the Lono entrance a tenth of a mile out when Alyssa yelled, "Oh my God!"

I turned my head and almost had a heart attack, as I was staring at what I estimate to have been an 18-ft wave, half of which was breaking in a barrel! At this point we were less than 70 yards from the entrance, and that wave was on a mission to break right where we were, then crash into the harbor entrance.

I threw the wheel hard to port, spun Ellie around, lined her up with the wave face, and gave the engine full throttle. We climbed up the wave face with the breaking barrel only 15 yards to starboard!

Once we reached the crest of the wave we saw the next one coming. It was even bigger and it was already breaking! I bore off to port and then lined up with the face before it hit. Thankfully we made it over the wave before it closed out, and then made haste to deeper water. Once we were safe, it sank in just how close we'd come to shipwreck if not death. Had we been caught broadside by either wave, we certainly would have been rolled and thrown into the breakwater. We'd certainly been foolish trying to enter a harbor when a large swell was running.

The trades were blowing too hard to try to beat back up the coast of Molokai, so we resigned ourselves to an unpleasant night at sea. We would make Oahu by morning, tuck Ellie into a marina, and celebrate just being alive. There was just one catch. We had to cross the Kaiwi Channel at night, in strong trades and with a huge NW swell running.

Conditions weren't bad until we cleared the lee of Molokai, at which time we became exposed to the full wrath of the stiff NE trades and gigantic NW swell. That’s when the seas got very steep, confused, and started breaking. The wind was at 33-38 knots sustained, and we were running downwind with 1/3 of the jib poled out to port. The wind had created 13-18 foot waves that were mixing from the north and east around the SW corner of Molokai. This sea state combined with the NW swell to create tremendous washing-machine conditions.

We thought Ellie was handling the sea state well until a few breakers crashed into the cockpit. That’s when I focused my hardest to take the optimum track down the wave faces and make sure we didn't round up into the wind, which would have put us beam-to the seas and at risk for capsize.

I was focused on the next set of waves when we were lifted up the crest of a particularly large wave that broke while we were at the top, then thrown into the trough below. The whisker pole hit the water and dug in, shuddering the rig and stopping our forward progress. We were alarmed and confused at what had happened.

I got Ellie lined up again, and after getting her back on course took a few minutes to inspect the rig. We were elated to find there was no damage. We thought the sail may have ripped from the force of the pole being pushed aft in the fall, but the line leading from the pole to the bow held, and saved the sail, pole — and quite possibly the entire rig.

At this point we were so startled that we began thinking about other options. Could we make for Lanai? No, as that was upwind. Could we run back to the lee of Molokai? No, as that was upwind, too. Could we lie to our sea anchor? We could, but we'd be in the shipping lanes and the trades were forecast to get even stronger over the next two days. Keep running dead downwind? No, because it was a heck of a long way to the Marshall Islands. We had only one option: continue on to the lee of Oahu 60 miles away. It was going to be a long night.

It soon got dark, which meant there was no moonlight by which to see the waves. We took turns at the helm for the next eight hours. Dodging shipping traffic outside Honolulu was an added bonus to all the fun we were having with the weather.

We covered the 60 miles in record time, and made the lee of Oahu by 2 a,m,, at which time the wind and waves began to subside. We motored into the lee of the island and dropped the hook behind a curve of sand in front of a power plant.

Exhausted, we gave each other a hug, happy to be safely anchored after a very trying passage. We also swore that we would never again violate our rule about pushing it to make a schedule or accommodate a visitor.

We also vowed never again to cross between islands when the trades are pumping. Sailing in Hawaii is no joke! We hadn't seen seas that large since we left Northern California last year. We were also very proud of Ellie; she is one tough boat to have come through unscathed.

We're now in the beautiful Ko Olina Marina on Oahu. It’s the most expensive marina we’ve ever been in, but worth every penny as far as we’re concerned. This is resort country club living at its finest — beaches, pools, grass, grills, showers, laundry, restaurants, live music, watering holes and most importantly, flat water. After 9,000 miles in the past year, including the South Pacific, Ellie deservces the TLC that we're giving her.

We’ll be back in Oahu in January to get Ellie ready to head south again. We plan to be in the Line Islands by April, the Cooks by May, Samoa at the beginning of June, Tonga by July, Fiji in September, New Caledonia in October, and Brisbane, Australia before the onset of cyclone season. At least that’s the current plan we've written in sand at the low tide mark.

— lewis & alyssa 11/22/2014

Careyes Resort
Past and Present
(Mexico's Gold Coast)

The Wanderer posted the drone photograph he took of Careyes on his Facebook page on January 13, and received a lot of entertaining comments. So he made it a January 14th ‘Lectronic item, and got even more responses. We liked the responses so much that we’re sharing some of them with you. The last one gives the definitive report of what’s going on at Careyes now.

(To read the original post about Careyes, see the January 14 ‘Lectronic Latitude.)

“I used to anchor in the cove just below the resort on the hill and put a long stern line to the pier to keep from swinging. One time I was there when the now long-defunct Club Med was having Lesbian Week. There was great scuba diving around the little islets.” Ted Reed

“I love Careyes! I believe Heidi Klum and Seal were married there in 2005. Teal and I were there also with our trimaran Savannah. Too bad we weren’t invited and/or didn’t have a drone like the Wanderer.” Lihn Goben

“Careyes is a fabulous location that we visited in the 1970s when the Playa Blanca Club Med was still in operation. Upon our arrival we were notified that they were out of cash. A number of banditos on horseback had robbed them the previous day! We have stopped there many times since on Di's Dream. The anchorage is tight against the rocks, but the setting has always been so spectacular we wouldn’t miss it.” Rog and Di Frizzelle

“The 1998 MEXORC started on Banderas Bay and ended at Las Hadas. Who remembers Pat Farrah's famous ping-pong tournament — with hundreds in cash prizes for anyone in a bikini?

The stop in Careyes featured a special fireworks display. We watched a cigar- smoking Mexican spend the day assembling it atop a bamboo frame that stood 25 feet tall. It had pinwheels and a rotating sign on the top. The old cigar smoker stood under it and lit the fuses from his cigar.

"There were at least 20 boats anchored in the bay in front of the Careyes Hotel and the old Club Med facility next door. They had also built a pier so the MEXORC crews could get ashore. Among the 70s in the bay were Citius, Kathmandu, Blondie, Mongoose, and the maxi Sorcery.

"One of the coolest features of the Careyes stop was that some Arab sheik was preparing to host his daughter’s wedding there some time in the future, so he and the hotel were having a dress rehearsal. It was so over-the-top! Still a favorite!” Mike Priest

“We anchored just off the beach behind the reef on numerous occasions. Susan's daughter Leah, of Brandon & Leah fame, were staying at Dos Estrellas, which looks like a hotel on the point just above the reef. It was/is owned by a music mogul. In the next bay to the south was a place called Cocodrillo, one of our favorite places to eat. It was run by a guy who used to manage the Hotel Careyes. Lots of very Italian folks from the homes in the area liked to frequent the palapa. There is a private polo club behind the hotel as well.” Jerry McNeil

“Cindy and I anchored off the old Club Med site with Beach House in 2008. We saw our first coatimundi climbing on the aforementioned suspension bridge. Now that I know Uma Thurman was swinging around on the bridge, it has more meaning. We were not un-welcomed, nor were we invited ashore. It was a very cool little spot.

“We were at Careyes in January 2010 and toured the main hotel hassle-free. The only thing remarkable, aside from what you've already mentioned, is that I snorkeled into a tampon. Gross! It was too expensive, too crowded, and kinda dirty for us.” Rita Webster

“We've stopped in Careyes many times over the last 20 years, most recently in January 2014. The suspension bridge was still there, and the outer island was spectacularly lighted for a couple of hours every Saturday night.

We were told that about 10 years ago a local resident didn't like the kind of crowd the Club Med brought in, so he asked them what their profit for the operation was. He paid them the same amount to keep it closed. He later bought it, tore out many of the cabins, and used it as his personal park. He has anchored a number of nicely painted pastel blue pangas in the cove to prevent cruisers from anchoring there.

"The middle cove still has the expensive French restaurant, and they do allow cruisers to beach and dine there. The cove is filled with pangas on moorings, so the anchorage is outside that and inside the outer island.” Tom Collins

“My husband John Rains and I have anchored off Careyes 10 different times, but have been turned away by a big swell or too much surge twice as many times. Our best experiences at Careyes have been when we dinghied ashore to Playa Rosa, had lunch with the French lady who started it, then walked next door to the Bel Air Hotel. The manager personally took us around to look at two posh guest rooms/suites and everything else. He said they welcomed boaters to come in and use the pools and common areas if they bought a meal or a day pass for $15. At the end of the tour, the manager invited us to stay and inspect everywhere except the guest rooms upstairs. Then he gave us two free day passes and invited us to come back for dinner, on the house, that night. Can you imagine what Careyes would be like if it had a big breakwater and a few slips? Hmmm, I guess it would be crowded like Portofino in Italy.” Pat Rains

“When we sailed our Islander 36 Misfit up the Gold Coast in early 1988, we received a VHF call from Peyton Coffin, who was heading south and whom we’d met at the Publisher’s Cup he’d run a few years before. We both pulled into Careyes where we rafted up for the night. We had a wonderful dinner and partied until very late. I never heard from Peyton again, but it was one of the most memorable nights of my life. It was stunningly beautiful, with a sky full of stars and my belly full of rum.” Tim Stapleton

"In 1991, my wife and I pulled in to Las Hadas with our Farr 46 Beach Party and Med-moored next to famous sailmaker Lowell North and his guests. They were very cordial and invited us to join them in a sail up to Careyes the next day, which we did — and under spinnaker, no less. Naturally we had to go to the Club Med, which charged us $35 for an all-day pass that included all the food and beverages we could consume. I reached the finals of the table tennis tournament, which really pissed off the young studs who were trying to impress their new brides or whatever. Unfortunately, I lost in the finals. I had trouble focusing on the ball because I’d been drinking all day.” John Sprouse

“I first anchored at the Careyes Club Med in 1981 when I made a pit stop on a delivery home after the Manzanillo Race. The guests were very accommodating. Management, not so much when they found out we were swimming ashore at night to enjoy the many amenities. Captain and crew were ‘de-beaded’ and had to promise we would weigh anchor at first light — or else. We did not ask what "or else" meant. It was fun while it lasted.” Craig Chamberlain

“We anchored between the hotel and the island in 2009. They wanted $10 for us to hang at the pool, where we met some polo players. They took us to watch a match and drink some Pimms, then took us to the lighthouse and the giant soup bowl sculpture on the cliff. You climb inside the bowl by going under the thing. It’s amazing! If you climb inside the lighthouse, you can turn the light on by connecting the positive cable on the battery.” Kurt Roll

“My wife and I anchored there in 2006 while I cleaned a fish in our cockpit. The tourists were not impressed.” Douglas Leavitt

“I was told I had a good time during the MEXORC stop at Careyes. The 1987 Careyes to Manzanillo leg had 50 knots of breeze from dead astern for the sled class. Cowabunga!” Tom Priest

“Most of our 1985 MEXORC crew got food poisoning at the Careyes stop. I seem to remember Paul Cayard handing the wheel to someone for about 15 seconds so he could take a chum break. Beautiful place.” Paolo Shearer

“I had the honor of being tossed out of Careyes in the late 1970s, along with Humpo and Dangerous Don H! Those folks have no sense of humor.” Ian M. Montgomery

“My most pleasant memory was in 1991 when the Victoria Secret folks were doing an all-day photo shoot around the pool and beach. I think I ordered a cheeseburger because I was in . . . well, you know where.” Rob Wallace

And now, for the definitive Careyes Update by Mike Farley:

“Way back when I ran the 48-ft Bruce King designed bilgeboarder Hawkeye — we had the great battle with the old Swiftsure in the Big Boat Series, the one that ended with the epic waterfight back at the docks. Then I ran the Alaska Eagle project for the 1981-1982 Whitbread Around the World Race for Neil Bergt. Following that, I came down to Mexico to run a yacht for a Mexican owner, and have been in the Careyes area ever since, dividing my time between our place there and up in Colima where our kids go to school.

The hotel at Careyes got shut down several years ago because of a lack of business. While the Brignone family still has a lot to do with Careyes, a corporation owned by a Mexican in Mexico City owns the hotel and many of the apartments. Last year he decided to convert the entire hotel to condos. The renovation project is huge. We had to move out right after last Easter, and are hoping to be able to move back in this fall. It's a hard hat area, which is why the guards denied the Wanderer entry. But I hope you went next door to the Playa Rosa.

"Unfortunately for visiting yachties, there is no more hotel to welcome people for lunch and drinks around the pool. That leaves Playa Rosa, the cove to the north, as the only option. So many moorings have been put in over the years that there is little space for visiting yachts to anchor.

"As you surely know, the Club Med was closed down years ago. It’s been turned into a private estate by the same man whose yacht I ran for 20 years before I retired. So no more fun and games for visiting yachts there anymore either.

"Too bad I didn’t know the Wanderer had come by, as I could easily have gotten him past the guard gate.”

— latitude/rs 01/15/2015

Healthy Cruising

You know how much it costs to eat nutritious meals on a boat in Mexico? We don't either, but we can tell you that it's not much.

For instance, the six avocados, four tomatoes, five carrots, two cucumbers, head of cauliflower, and bunch of broccoli in the accompanying photo cost us all of $4.71. We bought the stuff at the Campo and Turismo wholesale fruit and veggie distributor on the outskirts of La Cruz. We don't want to contemplate what it would have cost at Whole Paycheck in Mill Valley.

Add a little lettuce and some lentils to that stuff and you'd be eating well and shedding pounds with ease. If you're looking for more than the 30% protein found in lentils, you can buy a rotisserie chicken at many places for about $6 — including rice, tortillas and some great hot sauce. Feed the rice and tortillas to the local pets because you don't want to eat that stuff.

You can eat half the chicken for dinner, then save the rest for the basis of chicken and greens salads or chicken and veggie soup. Mind you, soup for breakfast is buena, even in the tropics.

If fish is your preferred source of protein, you can get a nice slab of fresh tuna. We get our tuna — or mahi or other seafood — at the La Cruz Fish Market. Last time we were there they asked us to wait 10 minutes so they could bring in an untouched 80-pound tuna, then cut the steaks to our specs. A good- sized tuna steak runs about $2.50 per person.

We don't always eat as inexpensively as we can, in part because we don't like a day to go by without raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or blackberries to accompany our uncooked oatmeal, sugar-free yogurt and sliced almonds in a bath of almond milk. The berries — which come from God-knows-where — are a little more dear than the other items. For example, a small carton of blueberries and a large container of strawberries set us back $3.78. We paid nearly $15 for a large container of cherries from Chile at Costco. We'll pay almost anything for cherries.

In other reports, Craig Owings said he was getting 16 bananas to the dollar in Panama. Greg King reports the weekly fruit and veggies boat in the San Blas Islands charged him about $12.25 for an amount of fruit and veggies similar to what we got in La Cruz, but that fruit and veggies are much less expensive in the South Pacific. Ken Miller says he got a small carton of blackberries in Sonora, California, for $2.50 — although his wife Amy got the same for 99 cents as a loss leader at the Dollar Store.

If you like to dine out in Mexico — which de Mallorca would like to do every night — there are good bargains, too. The various 'tacos on the street' places are good, although somewhat limited in variety and greens. We love Natly's in Sayulita, where the big and delicious helpings of food in the accompanying photo cost less than $3. As always, you're going to pay more for sit-down dinners, and the tourist places can be as high as restaurants in San Francisco or L.A.

Now that you've got your inexpensive, healthy eating dialed in, let's talk about exercise, the other component of good health. Your 'health club' in Mexico is the warm — at least on the mainland — Pacific Ocean. It's free. It offers sailing, surfing, swimming, boogie boarding, SUP-ing, and in some places, good diving. Most activities are great for the muscles, cardio, and the mind. There are lots of great inexpensive places to cruise to in the world, but Mexico is among the best, and it's certainly the closest.

— latitude/rs 01/18/2015

Cruise Notes:

The name of the southern Baja city of La Paz, 'Gateway to the Sea of Cortez', means 'The Peace'. But it's been anything but peaceful since July, as there have been over 50 homicides, about 12 times the number in previous years.

"It's mostly professional hit men taking out members of other cartels," Shelly Rothery Ward, Commodore of the Cruceros de La Paz, tells Latitude. Indeed, to our knowledge no boaters or tourists have been killed or even wounded.

"The turf battles have not affected most of us cruisers in any way at all," continues Ward. "I have not changed my life, although I've noticed there are more of the new police all over the city, and especially on the malecon. But there are still families and kids playing there most evenings. My advice to arriving cruisers is not to be in the wrong part of town after dark, and don't try to deal or buy drugs. If you do that, you should be fine."

For more facts and a more detailed analysis of the situation, see the Baja Insider's online report. For what it's worth, we at Latitude would not hesitate to take our catamaran to La Paz.

Speaking of Profligate, somehow the port side three-bladed Flex-O-Fold prop managed to fall off in early January. But that's nothing compared to what 2011 Ha-Ha vet Erlin Loving of the Bainbridge Island Tartan 37 Ventured has had disappear from his boat off Costa Rica. When he left Playa del Coco to join some other boats for New Year's, he made the unfortunate decision to tow his dinghy rather than storing it on deck as he usually does. After sailing downwind, then beating in moderate conditions, he noticed that the dinghy and outboard were no longer trailing behind his boat.

"The line was intact, so it's most likely that the bridle on the dinghy broke," Loving writes. He wasn't sure when the dinghy and outboard separated from his boat, but it could have been as much as 10 hours before. Realizing that a search was all but hopeless, he knew he'd feel terrible if he didn't at least make an effort. That's when things went from bad to worse.

"I heard a weird rattle from the centerboard, which was down at the time," Loving writes. "I began to pull it up, but the line went abnormally tight, so I stopped. Then I saw the line that holds the centerboard up go slack. I figured I could replace that, as the boat's manual tells you how to do it even when the boat is in the water. What's going to be a little more difficult and expensive is replacing the centerboard. For when I got to Quepos, I dove on the bottom — and discovered the centerboard was gone!"

"There is no romance or adventuring in RV-ing," reports Dewey Engleheart of Hollister, who did the 2001 Ha-Ha with his wife Nan aboard their Catalina 400 The Great Escape. After nearly six years of cruising, which took the couple to the Caribbean and back, they sold the boat in San Carlos in 2006 and bought a 34-ft diesel pusher type RV. They enjoyed RV-ing, but Dewey said it wasn't very exciting — particularly for a guy who used to land jet fighters on aircraft carriers. In search of more adventure in their lives, last March Dewey and Nan returned to San Carlos and bought the Hunter 42 Flight. They now do 'six' on their RV and 'six' on their boat. Indicative of the greater excitement when sailing, Dewey says they saw 30 whales on their way to the Marieta Islands one day last month.

Almost around! Scott Stolnitz reports that he's left Fort Lauderdale aboard his Marina del Rey-based Switch 51 cat Beach House for Cartagena, the Canal, and Central America. Once he reaches Costa Rica, he'll have completed a circumnavigation that he started about eight years ago with his late wife Cindy.

What do you learn after Bashing up the Baja coast multiple times? For one very experienced sailor who shall remain unnamed so he doesn't lose his insurance, it's that you should never bash on a Bash. "I've learned my lesson," says the owner of several sailing businesses. If the weather is bad, I'll just hole up until it gets better. No more beating up the boat and/or beating up myself."

The other thing he's learned — and the reason we can't identify him — is that he prefers to do it singlehanded.

When is the best time to Bash? We at Latitude think it's late June or early July. Mike Danielson of P.V. Sails is pretty much in agreement. He's no weather dummy, having given us the following summary of weather on Banderas Bay:

"December and January usually have the lightest winds of the year because the ocean is still warm while the inland valley is about as cool as it gets. April and May are the windiest — 18 to 25 knots — because the ocean has cooled and the valley has gotten really warm, creating the same dynamic that brings strong summer winds to San Francisco Bay. But after the first rain, usually in mid- to late June, the land starts cooling down as the ocean starts getting warm again, reducing the gradient and the windspeed."

When it comes to boat transmissions, Guy Bunting says that saildrives aren't necessarily the worst things in the world. Bunting, who has been out cruising since 1988 with his wife Deborah aboard the M&M 46 Elan that he built in Vista, speaks from experience. Lots of it, as prior to the M&M cat the couple cruised on a Prout cat for four years.

We got into a conversation about Yanmar saildrives, which are notorious for cone clutch problems, while Guy was on Elan and the Wanderer was hovering nearby on an SUP. Guy recounted his problems with a straight shaft.

"One, the setup is extremely noisy. I'm told that 60% of engine noise transmitted to the hull is via the strut. Second, my straight shaft is tapered, and I've found it's almost impossible to get the prop off. Third, the Yanmar diesel is on rubber mounts, and thus it moves around quite a bit, while the v-drive is rigid. So they don't stay lined up when in waves."

Latitude's Leopard 45 'ti Profligate avoids three of these 'straight shaft' problems as follows: 1) The prop comes out of the back of the keel-let, so there is no strut to transmit noise — although it's still noisy. 2) The shaft isn't tapered, so it's easy to get the prop off. 3) There is no problem getting the engine and saildrive lined up.

By the way, in late December three men — a realtor, a painting contractor, and a magazine publisher — attacked two Yanmar saildrives with cone clutch problems on Profligate. When done by professionals, such repairs can easily cost between $1,000 and $2,000, and are now termed "normal maintenance" every 450 hours by Yanmar. We know, that is ridiculous. While it took the trio 4.5 days to make the repairs, they now think they know the tricks, and are thus confident they could now do one in just 2.5 hours — and with the only expense being a little lapping compound. We'll have the full story in the March Latitude. If you have a Yanmar saildrive, you won't want to miss it.

Shea Weston, a West Coast marine communications guru, shared the following communication news for cruisers:

"SailMail now supports the Iridium GO! device. Airmail (for SailMail only) is approved by Iridium for use with and fully supports the GO!. With the availability of flat rate data plans for the GO!, this can be an attractive backup or alternative to a SSB and Pactor modem for email and weather data. See the SailMail website at for more details."

Is it just us, or is it really hard to keep up with all the developments in maritime communications?

Is there any better feeling than overcoming a serious problem while cruising solo? Not for Brian Charette of the 36-ft northern Idaho-based catamaran Cat 2 Fold. The problem he faced was keeping his catamaran, which is meant to fold together for trailering, from folding together while 60 miles offshore during a 600-mile singlehanded sail from San Carlos to Banderas Bay. But Charette persevered, which left him smiling the way you see him in the photo at right. By the way, his trip didn't start in San Carlos, but with his cat on a trailer in the snow in northern Idaho.

If you think there isn't much transparency in United States government — and there isn't — Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, his wife 'The Witch', and Sandinista insiders have our government beat hands down when it comes to opacity. It's only five years until the first ship is slated to use the Interoceanic Canal from Nicaragua's Rio Brito on the Pacific to the Punta Gorda River on the Caribbean side. Nonetheless, only Ortega and his closest advisors know: 1) What will happen to the 30,000 people that will be displaced by the canal. 2) How many construction workers from China will arrive and when. 3) And why no environmental studies have been done for what would be the severing of the 'land bridge' between North America and South America.

If the canal gets completed — and some have their doubts — it will be 173 miles long — four times as long as the Panama Canal — but be able to handle much larger vessels. The completion of the Interoceanic would have major political and strategic ramifications. Nicaragua could overtake Panama as the most strategic link between the two oceans, and it would give the Chinese a much-wanted foothold in North America. But the domestic ramifications in Nicaragua could be even greater, as many of Ortega's former brothers-in-arms in the Sandinista National Liberation Front are furious with the behavior of their President cum dictator, who they believe is selling out both them and their ideals.

"Is it true that all boats coming down the West Coast are required to check in at Ensenada?" a reader asked. "And if they don't, what are the risks?"

No, you do not have to make Ensenada your first stop. But unless you get a temporary mariner's visa online before entering Mexican waters, you can't stop anywhere in Mexico until you've cleared in at a Mexican port of entry. The most logical ports of entry after Ensenada are Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta.

By the way, Ensenada got a very favorable review in a January issue of the New York Times Travel section. By the way, Part Two, we haven't heard of a trace of the paperwork problems that caused such an uproar in Mexico last year. It's like the good old days — except that Mexican officials have lots of computers now. While sometimes confusing, Mexico's paperwork rules are fair and the costs are low, so it would be foolish not to respect them.

"Puerto Escondido started to get a facelift on January 10," reports Connie Sunlover. "It actually began in the middle of last year when Lic. Andres Barrera Peralta was appointed the new manager of the Fonatur facility here. Since his arrival, all services have improved. Gas and diesel have been available without disruption, and there has been hot water, soap and toilet paper in the heads. In addition, the new moorings will be complete by February 1, with diver Carlos Christani Cruz having gotten the contract to put in new line, chain, shackles, mooring balls and so forth. Furthermore, by the time anyone reads this, a new chef from Cabo will have started preparing meals at the new restaurant that will be opening on the second floor of the Fonatur facility. Backed by the towering Sierra Giganta and overlooking the main harbor, the views will be great. Alma, owner of the Tripui Resort, is the proprietor."

We can't do without cruising in the Caribbean and in Mexico, but they are so different. Here are less well-known ways: 1) The other afternoon we walked into a bodega to get a banana, and the proprietor insisted on opening up a bag of chips and sprinkling hot sauce and fresh lime juice on the chips. Then he all but forced us to eat some. There's more. Despite our repeated protestations — we really don't care for beer — he insisted on opening up an ice-cold ballena of Pacifico and making us drink a cup. And he kept refilling the damn thing. That wouldn't happen in the Caribbean. 2) We drove down to Barra Navidad to get some aerial photos of the Barra area, and needed a hotel. We ended up with a room in the five-star Grand Bay Hotel by Wynham for $106 — although they sneaked in a $20 resort fee. Try to find something that reasonable in the sunny Caribbee.

Come to think of it, air fares home from Mexico are much cheaper than those home from the Caribbean. Rob and Lynne Britton, Ha-Ha vets with the Olympic 47 Aldebaran, formerly from San Diego, report they just got two round-trip tickets between Puerto Vallarta and San Diego on Volaris for $400.

Earlier in Changes we had a two-page photo of John Larsen's Westsail 42 Danika, which had struck an uncharted — at least on his Navionics chart — pinnacle rock off Punta Mita. The irony is that Larsen is a marine pilot for cruise ships in Alaska during the season. But if the rock wasn't charted, how was he supposed to know it was there? At times there has been a buoy to mark the rock, which comes to within five feet of the surface, but it had drifted off station. Larsen has been told that Navionics is putting the rock on the newest versions of their charts — which won't help anyone with an old version. The six-knot impact with the rock put a big gouge in the Westsail, one of the thickest hulls in the industry. Larsen didn't have trouble making it to the boatyard, but later discovered that a small amount of water had gotten in.

Larsen has a good sense of humor. He told us that he'd purchased Danika as a hull and deck in 1974, and had done a good job of it finishing her off. When we asked him how long it had taken him, he replied, "I'm almost done."

How big is too big a boat for a couple to cruise? If you ask Tal Gutbir and Marina Janecek of Vancouver, 80 feet isn't too big. The two of them are cruising the Ocean 80 schooner Ocean, which is a huge Peterson design that displaces 140,000 pounds. She's a lot of work to maintain, but Tal says he learned all he needed to know during his two years in the Israeli Navy. It didn't hurt that the boat, built in 1981, came with two new masts, a new engine, and a new generator.

Missing the pictures? See the February 2015 eBook!


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