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February 2017

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With reports this month from Antares II on the skipper's cruising doubts; from Moonshadow on an embarrassing secret the crew kept for six months; from Brass Ring on a San Francisco Bay sailor's preference for cruising in the Pacific Northwest; from Ñandú on the trials and tribulations of starting the cruising life with a new boat; and Cruise Notes.

Antares II — Alberg 30
Justin Hoye-House
Battling Doubts and a Little Envy
(Cincinnati, Ohio)

I completed my singlehanded voyage across the Pacific last September, making landfall in Bundaberg, Australia, after a nonstop passage from Fiji. That leg proved to be one of the most challenging to date, as I knowingly headed out into a frontal system. The system never seemed to let up, and kept me pinned for almost the entire 14-day passage. With little to no sleep due to unrelenting squalls, shifting winds and opposing currents, I was ready for a three-month break back in the States.

I spent some time back home in Cincinnati with family and friends, trying to relieve them of their worries. I even gave a talk about my adventures.

Having spent 2 1/2 years on my Alberg 30, I began to doubt if I really wanted to continue my sailing adventure. But I found inspiration in various books and podcasts — and even friends — as I drove over 10,000 miles while exploring parts of the United States that I had never seen before. I went canyoneering in Zion National Park, hiked the Grand Canyon, and even surfed the coasts of Northern California and Southern Oregon for the first time. I actually thought about taking a job crabbing out of San Francisco for the season to earn money for a bigger and faster boat, but a sailing life still seems to be where my heart is right now. I hope my girlfriend understands.

I admit to feelings of envy when I see happy crews on their larger and faster vessels, so it was fortunate that I came across a podcast featuring Webb Chiles, who has singlehanded around the world five times, in boats as small as 18 feet.

I listened to the podcast while snow and sleet beat across the highway near Weed, CA, and I was forced to pull over for the evening so the storm could pass. It was a revelation for me to reconnect with this part of the world, and to hear a world-famous singlehander share his thoughts on expensive racing yachts and what it means to be out there alone.

Chiles' thoughts were very timely, for as I said, I've had a lot of doubts lately whether the sailing life was for me, and/or if I should consider working for a while to upgrade to a bigger and faster boat. While that would be more comfortable and allow a bit more cabin room for guests, it's not going to change me or the way I sail around the world, so I have decided to stick it out with Antares.

After a haulout in Australia, she'll be as good as new and ready to tackle 15,000 more miles this next year as I make my run into the Med. I have been following a number of vessels that have successfully made it past Somalia and up the Red Sea without trouble in the past couple of years, and am learning from their experience. I am currently following a vessel named Hope that is making the passage. As most readers know, for years this traditional route had been considered too dangerous because of pirates.

— justin 01/02/2017

Moonshadow — Deerfoot 62
John and Debbie Rogers
Confession Time
(San Diego)

The Pacific Ocean is a big ocean. In sailing from San Diego to Whangarei, New Zealand — via Mexico — last cruising season, we covered exactly 10,000 nautical miles. Here are the main statistics for the season:

We made 98 ports of call in six countries. We anchored in 61 different places for a total of 175 nights. We lay to 14 mooring buoys for a total of 34 nights. We spent 167 nights in 18 marinas.

We were passagemaking 55 days or 15% of our year aboard. We had 11 passages that lasted 24 hours or more, and they totaled 42 days and nights. We averaged 179 miles a day, and 12 times sailed more than 200 miles in 24 hours.
On the negative side, we slammed into one 'bommie' — coral head — at six knots. It's taken us months to admit it.

Arriving in New Zealand was a grand reward after 10,000 ocean miles. From what we've seen, cruising in New Zealand will be interesting and enjoyable — but cold compared the tropical South Pacific. We are almost 36 degrees south of the equator, which is roughly the same distance from the equator as Monterey.

But geographic equivalence is where the comparison ends. With nothing between New Zealand and Antarctica but cold open ocean, it seems very cold to us when the wind comes out of the south. Of course, we've been living in the tropics for the previous 11 months.

But as we write this, we're thinking most about Moonshadow in the boatyard. She's there because of that bommie we hit in the Tuamotus, which is rightly nicknamed the 'The Dangerous Archipelago'. The atolls are home to hundreds of wrecks. Indeed, our Moonshadow was very badly damaged on Arutua Atoll 18 years ago under her previous owner. She had to be taken to New Zealand for extensive repairs before she could complete her circumnavigation in 2010.

The atolls of the Tuamotus are only visible during daytime, and because they are so low, can only be seen from three miles off, in even the best of conditions.
Two weeks prior to our arrival in the Tuamotus, Latitude reported that Bruce Moroney's Alaska-based Amel 46 ketch Morning Dove, one of the boats that sailed west from Mexico with us in this year's Puddle Jump, had just been lost on the reef at Arutua. Also at night. The crew were saved, but she was a total loss.

So when we arrived at Kauehi, a small atoll near Arutua, at midnight after 24-hour runs of 182 and 181 miles, we were too early to enter the pass. Though the evening was pleasant, we were very wary of being so close to these two atolls. We were so close we could hear the surf pounding on the perimeter reefs, but couldn't see a thing. It made the hair stand on the back of our necks.

Our research had convinced us of the importance of entering the lagoons of the Tuamotus at slack water. So besides waiting for daylight, we waited for the current to be slack at 0930.

The other good advice you hear about the Tuamotus is to navigate these lagoons between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., preferably with the sun at your back, and while wearing glasses with polarized lenses. All of these things help you see the coral heads — bommies — that lurk below the surface in the lagoons.

This is fine advice. Alas, there are some practical limits to following it. For example, when you are proceeding eastward through a pass in a reef at the 9:30 a.m. slack water, the sun will be in your face, not at your back. And there is nothing you can do about it.

When we reflect back on our season in the South Pacific, we estimate that we've managed to navigate among the dangerous patches of coral — they're everywhere! — between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., with the sun at our back, while wearing polarized lenses, a total of zero times.

As it turned out, a large squall wanted to join us for our first entrance to a pass in the Tuamotus. We initially waited, but the squall just got bigger, so despite very poor visibility in driving rain, we followed a bigger yacht in. We hit slack water just right, so we saw none of the treacherous currents, standing waves or whirlpools that we had been warned about.

After entering the lagoon, we were able to relax a bit. After all, we had over 100 feet of water beneath our keel, and we were able to follow the other yacht five miles across the lagoon to an anchorage.

The rain had stopped as we approached the anchorage, but the sky was battleship-gray. The sky was brighter to the east, meaning the light was in our face. But we were following the boat ahead of us, and we could see boats to port and starboard ahead of us, so we weren't worried.


Moonshadow's 25 tons came to an almost instant stop, which launched both of us forward, crashing into unyielding fiberglass and winches. It was like being in an automobile accident when there's a brief period of complete bewilderment.

"Are you all right?! What just happened?!"

We realized that we'd hit a bommie hard. We immediately backed off. As we lifted floorboards looking for seawater, Maggie aboard an Aussie sloop, Storm Bay, anchored ahead and inshore of us, called to see if we were OK. At the time we didn't know, but she told us how to steer around the coral and into the anchorage.

When we got the anchor down and looked back, the coral head we'd just plowed into was — with bright sky at our backs — plainly visible!

A quick underwater inspection showed where our keel had hit. The coral must have been four feet below the surface. The only contact was with the nose of the keel, which was dented, but we survived. We have now sailed over 3,000 miles since the impact without any sign that the damage was more than cosmetic.

But the aftermath of the collision left both of us feeling physically sick and wanting to curl up into a fetal ball. We thought that if we just slept, maybe we could wake up from the nightmare.

In our blog of our times in the Tuamotus, we left this incident out. We were so mortified at having made such a mistake that we didn't want anyone to know. Of course keeping our secret would have required murdering the crews of all the other yachts in the Kauehi anchorage, making it impractical. So we resigned ourselves to a full disclosure 'when the time was right'. It's taken six months, but this is the time.

Moonshadow is currently hauled at Circa Marine, the 40-year-old boatbuilding firm that is currently building long- range aluminum cruising yachts designed by Steve Dashew — who designed Moonshadow. We feel very fortunate to have been able to fit into Circa's hectic schedule, as they have three large yachts under construction. Circa will be helping us with our keel and a handful of other small but technical projects we'd been saving for our time in New Zealand.

After sandblasting Moonshadow's keel down to bare metal, we could see there was no serious damage to the 6 mm stainless plating — and that the keel is an amazing piece of engineering. Dashew's affinity for oversizing structural scantlings and for redundancy are evident throughout Moonshadow. Our boat's keel is built of quarter-inch 316 stainless steel welded into six compartments. The bottom 12 inches comprise lead ballast. Above that are two fuel tanks, two water tanks, and a bilge sump. The hull is attached to the 17-ft-long keel with 41 — 41! — half-inch stainless bolts threaded into double- thick plate. As we've learned, it's suitable for ramming into coral at six knots. Each tank has a large inspection port permitting access to the interior of the keel/tank. We opened them all up to clean the insides of the tanks, but mostly we wanted to inspect for any damage to the inside of the keel. When we found a broken stitch weld along the stem, it was decided to cut away all of the damaged metal and renew it.

Steve, Circa's star welder, showed John around the fabrication shop, where it was obvious there is a lot to this kind of project. After carefully measuring and making templates of the various compound curves of the keel, Steve began the process of converting a flat sheet of stainless steel into the shape conforming to the cut- away section.

Steve explained how he calculated the need for 15 hits with the 200-ton hydraulic break press. Each hit bent the skin 3.8 degrees to achieve the shape required to match Moonshadow's keel, so he continually had to alter the axis of the impact each bend to accommodate the top-to-bottom taper. Steve is an artist!

A new heavy bar will run down the leading edge of the keel inside the outer skin, replacing the stem piece bent by our grounding. It will be welded into place first, then the skin panels on each side. When it's finished we will be able to ram into things at closer to eight knots.

In order to reduce the chance of our ramming another bommie, we've established a new policy of not moving our boat short distances when the visibility is poor, especially if we'll be covering unfamiliar ground. We'll also use two iPad apps when Wi-Fi is available to download Google Earth images of the areas we plan to visit, and plot our waypoints around the hazards we can observe.

In addition, when the depth drops to 20 feet, John climbs the mast to our crow's nest, from which the bottom is more visible — even in poor lighting. After anchoring in a coral-strewn waters, we sound the surroundings from the dinghy with our handheld depthsounder.

We have even used our AIS display to track the interisland cargo ship Coiba as she navigated the tricky Fakarava South Pass, using it to plot our way out.

When we're not positive what's ahead, we motor very slowly.

Soon enough the keel will be better than new, the other refit projects will be behind us, and we will have enjoyed a few months back in the States for our first extended break from living and cruising aboard in five years. But almost before we know it, we'll be back aboard Moonshadow for another season of doing what we love.

— john and debbie 01/15/2017

Brass Ring — Cal 46
Dick Enersen and Guests
Cruising the Pacific Northwest
(Marin County)

Given Latitude's affinity for warm water, when we've looked beyond San Francisco Bay, we've looked to the south rather than the north. As a result, we've given short shrift to the Pacific Northwest. Time to make amends.

One Northern California sailor who hasn't given the Pacific Northwest short shrift is Dick Enersen, who has a long history of racing, including in an America's Cup. But in 1999, he purchased the Cal 46 III Brass Ring in the Pacific Northwest. Despite living in Northern California, he's kept his boat up there ever since.

"People often ask me when I'm going to bring her down to the Bay Area," says Enersen. "My response is generally, 'Why would I want to do that?' San Francisco Bay is a fantastic place to sail, but the Pacific Northwest is much better for cruising."

Enersen reports that he spent 67 days cruising in the Pacific Northwest, meaning the United States and Canada, last year and will probably do about the same number again this year. "I cruise up there as much as I can!" he says.

In a typical summer, Enersen and Brass Ring cover between 700 and 900 nautical miles.

"July, August and most of September are generally the best for cruising," says Dick, "although there can be squalls. I have cruised in June, but it's generally wetter than I like."

Enersen describes the summer temperatures as "mild, meaning rarely below 50 degrees or higher than 80 degrees." He cautions that "squalls do happen".

One advantage the Pacific Northwest has for cruisers is the longer summer days. For example, the August 15 sunrise at Vancouver, B.C. is 6:05 a.m., and sunset is 8:28 p.m., giving almost 14.5 hours of sunlight. In San Francisco there are only 13.5 hours of sunlight on the same day.

The Pacific Northwest has a reputation for much less wind and less reliable wind than San Francisco Bay. Nonetheless, the 'mission statement' for Brass Ring is: 'We Will Sail When We Can'. Enersen admits that there isn't a sailing breeze every day, and even less often is there are breeze that permits sailing in the direction he wants to go. That said, some days he goes sailing just to go sailing, either with friends or alone.

"The best sailing day I ever had with Brass Ring was captured in the photo I used for this year's Christmas card," says Dick. "It was just Ron Holland and I sailing to weather from Montague to Ganges on Salt Spring Island."

(Ron Holland is from New Zealand, and came to San Francisco Bay as a young man. He got his big design break when he drew the world-conquering 40-ft Imp for Dave Allen of the San Francisco YC. He went on to design a number of maxi and other racing yachts, several of which are among the largest and most expensive cruising yachts in the world.)

Ron is just one of several accomplished ex-Northern California sailors who sails with Enersen. Others include Peter Brown, who dropped out of his law practice to race the Olson 30 Gold Rush in the Singlehanded TransPac, then sailed around the world. And Dan Newland, who won a Singlehanded TransPac with a Wylie 34. And Linda Weber-Rettie (now Newland), who did a Singlehanded TransPac and later singlehanded from San Francisco to Japan. Like Dick, all are members of the Cruising Club of America (CCA).

In addition to light winds, the Pacific Northwest is known for strong currents.

"I read about there being as much as 16 knots of current in Seymour Narrows," says Dick, "but I personally haven't been caught in anything more than eight knots. But current is a very big deal in the Pacific Northwest, so it's important to read up on it and treat it with respect."

It's not always possible to anchor in the Northwest, but when it is, Enersen says it's generally in 20 to 80 feet, mostly in mud bottoms.

Enersen has found that mosquitoes can be a problem in the early summer, and sometimes yellowjackets depending on the location. "But neither has been enough to spoil my day."

Shellfish such as crab are a staple in the Pacific Northwest, but Dick isn't into crabbing. "I've done it, and there are those who love it, but I'd just as soon scrounge shrimp, crab and oysters from others. Or just buy it."

Type-A cruisers will be thrilled to learn that Dick says he can often get Internet while cruising on Brass Ring.

"I've tried many plans over the years, but I'm currently using a Canada Calling Plan from AT&T, which allows me to use my iPhone as a hot spot. Cell coverage has expanded greatly in recent years for those on boats," he says. "In addition, some marinas and many restaurants offer Wi-Fi."

Brass Ring is kept in the water year-round. Enersen notes that marina rates are significantly lower in the winter.

— latitude/rs 11/15/2016

Ñandú — Maine Cat 41
Juan and Kathy Navarro
The Big Transition
(Silicon Valley)

Transitioning from the working life to retirement cruising is not easy. Juan, a retired software engineer, and Kathy, a medical doctor before the couple legally moved to the United States from South America, know all about it. Last summer they sold their house and bought a Maine 41 catamaran, and christened her Ñandú after the large flightless bird native to South America.

The transition has proved “long and exhausting.” First there was selling the house, which was actually easier than expected because neighbors bought it before they put it on the market, negating the need for staging. The buyers were nice enough to rent the house back to the couple for five weeks, too. Then they rented a storage space in Fairfield because it’s a lot less expensive than similar space in the Valley.

Juan and Kathy quit their jobs to deal with the 'only in America' health insurance mess. Juan got a new laptop that is “no longer supported by people who know what they are doing." He then spent 22 continuous days getting just 50% of a backup with CrashPlan.

“Getting rid of everything” meant half of his windsurfing gear and a lot of his photography equipment, plus “thousands of things at home.” For each one of the things they were getting rid of, they had to decide whether to dump it and where, recycle it and how, donate it and to whom, sell it and to whom, or decide if it would fit in the tiny rented storage space or on the boat. “Truly overwhelming” was their verdict on all the decisions they had to make.

“We made one trip to the used-record store, three carloads to Half Price Books, one trip to the San Francisco windsurfing swap meet, and another to a Delta swap meet, "the latter just to sell a mast and a boom at a tenth the price I paid for them". There was another trip to San Francisco to donate art supplies, one to the local recycling center, another to the household waste center, a garage sale, and lots of transactions on eBay, which required trips to the Post Office.

Then there was updating estate-planning documents, wills and powers of attorney, and scanning important documents. There were final visits to various doctors, dentists, optometrists and therapists. And the accountant, too. Other jobs included closing some bank accounts and opening better ones, doing some financial planning, getting their kids to open checking and credit-card accounts, and teaching them some basic 'financial hygiene'.

Juan also had to finish his dinghy. “I started building Gecko three years ago when our cruising plans were still nebulous. I finished her just in time to use it as a tender for the big boat.”

Looking after the construction of the new catamaran from a distance was no minor matter either. While the fundamental decisions had been made, there were still many more, ranging from very important ones such as what anchors and rode to carry, to the critical ones, such as what toilets to install.

“There was still a long list of options, each one requiring some research," Juan remembers. "Rigid or semi-flexible solar panels? How many? Connected in series or parallel? MPPT or PWM controllers? (What do I know about solar energy?) Lithium or AGM batteries? How many 12v and 120v outlets and where? Pentex or Hydranet sails? Cork floor? Logo and lettering (“Nope, we can’t paint it that way”). Choose color of everything: bottom paint (black), boot stripe and lettering (rochelle red), sail cover (charcoal gray), cushions (mixed redwood). Do we want Dyneema or wire lifelines? What about AIS? Do we prefer GMR 18 HD or GMR 18 xHD? P-79 or triducer? It’s the first time we’d heard of most of those acronyms, too."

Did we mention they needed to get their two children settled in college, too?
Nonetheless, the couple found time to attend “one last New-Age, crazy, hippie event that you can only find in California, in our case the Ecstatic Festival.”

And they also found time to question their sanity.

“Haven’t we shown terribly bad judgment with this decision? Leave a tech job and a steady check, a beautiful house in Silicon Valley, old and new friends, two daughters in colleges less than 100 miles away and most of our possessions, all to cram ourselves into a small floating platform with composting toilets and no Internet 3,000 miles away from everything we know?"

They do have some prior adventuring experience. When they were "half our current age," they did an eight-month drive on secondary and tertiary roads from Montreal to Quito, Ecuador. This time their adventure could last "anywhere from one year to 10 years."

Then there was the matter of getting 3,600 miles to their new catamaran in Maine. "We passed through 14 states and provinces, three national parks, and took 23 days — 14 on the road — doing it. The best town was Jackson, Wyoming; the worst town was Jackpot, Nevada. Most you-cannot-be-there-and-not-mention-it town: Fargo, North Dakota. The most scenic drive was Beartooth Pass Montana, which was truly breathtaking."

As anybody knows who has ever had a boat, even a production boat, built for them, the boat was ready right on time. Just kidding.

"Moving onto our new boat was nothing like the romantic and exciting start of a new life that we had envisioned," say the couple. "We had to load a ton of stuff from the minivan and trailer, but there was no place to store anything because the storage spaces were not finished. And the shelves and doors that would be part of the storage space were on the beds and floors, interspersed with tools and rags, leaving very little space for anything else. On top of that, there was fiberglass dust everywhere. Our new boat was not the most welcoming place."

But fresh water flowed out of the faucets, propane flowed out of the stove burners, and the mattresses had been delivered earlier that day. So while it wasn't their Silicon Valley house, they could live on their cat.

After a few days floating tied to a mooring buoy, a more positive mood replaced their initial shock. "Firstly, while the builder may have seemed slow to finish the boat, we developed confidence in the workmanship, and the boat did look lovely — if we ignored some details, such as duct-taped plastic film in lieu of windows. Secondly, things started to find their place, so it took us less than a minute to find our underwear. And perhaps most importantly, the composting toilets worked as advertised!"

The couple compiled a long list of things to fix and finish, only to learn that one of the key workers, the electrician, was at the hospital with a serious infection. They started to wonder whether they were the carriers of a nautical curse.

"A couple of years before we owned a 1948 Folkboat, and we'd hired a wooden- boat expert to inspect the boat to give us a recommendation on a particular issue. He didn’t show up and then didn’t return our phone calls. When we finally got hold of his assistant, we were told the reason he hadn’t returned our calls was because he had died. Less than a year after that, I hired a diver to clean the boat’s bottom. He didn’t show up and didn’t return our phone calls. Appallingly enough, the story repeated itself almost exactly.

"So after two unexpected, tragic deaths in our nautical record, the news was downright scary. Luckily, the electrician survived our curse and came back two weeks later. By then the list had grown to include a broken alternator bolt."

In the following months, the alternator-mount problems would nearly become the bane of the couple's existence.

"We got ourselves busy learning about the boat’s systems. We learned, for instance, that the watermaker will actually consume your precious fresh water. Turns out that if you don’t use it for a few days — and we didn’t because the seawater in that little fishing harbor didn’t look clean enough — the watermaker will use three gallons of fresh water to flush the system in order to keep the very expensive membrane from getting ruined. When the time for the flush came, there was, of course, no water left in the tank the watermaker was connected to.

"Actually, there was water, but it wouldn’t flow out of the tank because, as we learned later, of a clogged vent. Clogged with, most ironically, fresh water. So there we were, manually moving water with the kettle from the tank in the other hull, to feed water to this fabulous gadget that was supposed to feed water to us."

Then one day something was suddenly amiss.

"My beloved dinghy Gecko," reports Juan, "fruit of years of hard weekend labor, had just vanished! Panic ensued. And quite a bit of frustration, given that I had just spent almost two full days installing a gunwale guard. Without such an indispensable item as the dinghy, the situation was disastrous and, frankly, terribly embarrassing.

"Desperation turned into hope when we recognized a black, red and gray shape on a rocky beach on the island in front of us. The dinghy was there, waiting for us! We quickly donned our wetsuits and jumped onto one sailboard each, and swam, paddled and kicked to the island. Gecko the dinghy had magically cradled itself a soft layer of seaweed, without even a scratch.

"What had happened was that each of us thought the other one was going to tie the dinghy, and neither of us did, nor did we double-check. Lesson learned. Maybe."

All and all, the couple found no time to relax. "The to-do lists remained long, with forms to fill out, manuals to read, spare parts to buy, things to organize, the van and trailer to sell, gear to inspect, and diesel engines to understand. But we know that for the moment we are just experiencing most of the bad and few of the good things of cruising, and we also know the tide will eventually change. So, when we get overwhelmed, we just take a deep breath and look outside to enjoy one of those good things: the landscape that surrounds us."

— latitude/rs 01/15/2017

Cruise Notes:

Bill Leary of the Kaneohe Bay, Oahu-based Beneteau 351 Moku pe’a has just published an online cruising guide titled Noodle's Notes, Fifty Years of Sailing the Hawaiian Islands. Despite being free, we think it's the best cruising guide to the Hawaiian Islands, and one of the most informative we've seen for any given area.

"There are other Hawaii cruising guides available," Leary wrote in a cover letter to Latitude, "but they don’t include most of my favorite anchorages and harbors, but do include places that I wouldn’t consider stopping because there are better spots nearby."

The guide includes URL links to the state regulations — Hawaii is regulation-crazy — that affect many of the 37 anchorages featured in the guide, as well as links to 360-degree videos that were shot in most of the anchorages. While Noodle's Notes is intended to be an online guide, the PDF file can also be downloaded to your computer or printed so you can keep a hard copy on the boat.

It's clear that Leary knows his subject matter, no matter if it concerns Hawaii's radically varied sailing conditions, how to get rid of bees at Lono Harbor, or that 'Forbidden Island' really isn't. For example, everybody knows that visitors, particularly non-Hawaiians, are prohibited from landing at the privately owned Niihau. Except that they aren't. While what Leary describes as "thugs" may try to keep you from coming ashore, he cites the law that allows visitors, such as himself, to have landed there.

Other than members of the Hawaii, Waikiki, Kaneohe Bay and Lahaina YCs, we've never known anyone in Hawaii, or the state government, to be very friendly to visiting mariners. Leary's free guide makes the Islands seem more welcoming, so much so that it's got us thinking maybe we ought to sail over one summer. The guide can be found at:

By the way, Leary has owned Moku pe'a for 12 years now, and describes her as his "perfect tropics cruising boat." He bases this on a trip he and his then-19-year-old daughter Kara made from Hawaii to French Polynesia in 2011, and a 2014 trip he and a friend made from Hawaii to Tonga, the Australs, the Societies again, and home to Hawaii.

Tenacatita Bay on Mexico's Gold Coast is mostly known as a popular cruiser anchorage 'administered' by Robert and Virginia Gleser of the Alameda/San Carlos-based Islander Freeport 41 Harmony, the so-called 'Mayor' and 'First Lady' of Tenacatita. However, the normal tranquility of the anchorage was ruffled slightly in January by the arrival of Eos, which at 305 feet has arguably been the "largest privately-owned sailing yacht in the world" for the last 11 years.

The title was in dispute, however, because while the 289-ft Maltese Falcon built for Tom Perkins of Belvedere was 16 feet shorter, she has a much longer waterline, is longer on deck, and has a greater displacement, all of which are generally considered to be more accurate gauges of vessel 'size' than length. In any event, following the October launch of Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko's hideous- looking 468-ft A, the 'largest' title is no longer in dispute, as she's 10 times the gross tonnage of Eos.

We don't know if they still own it, but Eos was built by Lurssen in Bremen, Germany for media billionaire Barry Diller and his wife, fashion maven Diane von Fürstenberg. The schooner's figurehead was sculpted by Anh Duong in the image of Ms. von Fürstenberg herself. The yacht accommodates 16 guests and is run by 21 crew. Eos has three 200-ft- tall masts, the tallest possible while still being able to pass beneath the Bridge of the Americas in Panama.

Eos later dropped her hook at Punta Mita, where the owner and guests no doubt tried to get lunch reservations at the prestigious Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club. Not 10 minutes after the schooner weighed anchor later in the afternoon, the Wanderer watched as her spot was taken over by a group of humpback whales that put on a 'tail slapping' clinic the likes of which hadn't been seen all winter.

Back down at Tenacatita Bay, the Mayor was supervising the annual biathlon, which consisted of a one-third mile swim from Harmony to shore, a two-mile run on the beach, then a swim back to Harmony.

"There was a staggered start, with the Mexican crew on Karpesa giving everyone else a six-minute head start," reports Robert. "The geriatric competitors did well, but in the end it was declared a three-way tie for first place between Pedro and Armando from Karpesa and the surprisingly competitive Patrick of Voila. In all there were 12 competitors and about that many cruisers in kayaks and dinghies to make sure everyone was safe. A great Tenacatita tradition."

Bummer! Jim Fair and Linda Powers of the Berkeley-based Outbound 46 Chesapeake report the head gasket blew on their diesel in Martinique. The high season is about the worst time it could have happened, but Martinique is one of the best places in the Caribbean that it could have happened. Le Marin, at the southwestern part of Martinique, has a huge pleasure-boat harbor and competent mechanics. The repair is expected to take a couple of weeks.

Dan Morrison of the "all over Southern California"-based Union 36 Dazzler used to love Chacala, the anchorage just north of the entrance to Banderas Bay. But his feelings have cooled since a couple of incidents in early January.

First of all, while he was ashore one day, a group of young Mexican holiday-makers climbed aboard his boat and into the cockpit. The next day another group not only climbed into the cockpit while he was ashore, but took the flag off the back of his boat and started waving it around. As if that weren't enough, they had to audacity to yell at a just-arrived cruising boat to tell them they were anchoring too close! Lastly, while Dan was at a concert ashore one evening, he returned to his beached dinghy to find that his fuel tank had been stolen.

For what it's worth, all three incidents happened during the New Year's holiday, when the Mexican beaches are packed with visitors from inland, some of whom assume boats are fair game as swimming destinations. Secondly, when locking a dinghy, Latitude recommends always including the outboard, the dinghy — and the fuel tank — no matter where you are.

While in La Cruz, Arjan Bok of the homebuilt San Francisco-based Lidgard 43 Rot Kat asked the Wanderer what the latter thought of the Lonseal brand 'teak-and-holly' vinyl flooring that was installed — unrolled, actually — in Profligate's main salon. Bok explained that a couple of years ago a hurricane in La Paz managed to blow a bunch of water through the cracks that had been left in Rot Kat's hatches, resulting in the natural wood flooring's being damaged and needing replacement. While Bok could have filed an insurance claim over the incident, he didn't want to see his insurance premium skyrocket.

The Wanderer likes the Lonseal 'eco vinyl' teak-and-holly sole for the same reason he prefers a fiberglass — actually vinyl ester — boat to a wood boat: less maintenance and great durability.

"We'd like to let Latitude readers know that we feel Puerto Escondido, Baja, has finally turned the corner and the good energy is returning," report Steve and Charlotte Baker of the Santa Rosa/San Evaristo, Baja-based Catalina 27 "mini-cruiser" Willful Simplicity.

"The marina was finally sold by Fonatur and is now the privately owned and operated Marina Puerto Escondido. From what we've been able to see, all the people who work there now, from the onsite investors, to Javier, the marina manager, to Maki at the front desk, and all the other workers and personnel, are making every effort to make visiting a good experience once again. It looks to us as though they are building something that will be very important to the Sea of Cortez and its cruisers. Hopefully this will help the once-great Loreto Fest return to its previous glory. It also looks as though the community discord that roiled Puerto Escondido about five years ago, and had some friends against friends, is gone. By the way, one of us, Steve, is hoping to do the Ha-Ha this fall with a friend who crewed on our Catalina 27 when we did the 2009 Ha-Ha."

Circumnavigators are starting to change their routes around the world. The traditional route used to be via the Red Sea and the Med, until Somali pirates started kidnapping and killing cruisers about 10 years ago. After that, almost everybody went by way of South Africa. But that's starting to change.

According to Evan Gatehouse, his wife Diane Selkirk, and 15-year-old daughter Maia, who just completed an eight-year circumnavigation aboard their 40-ft Woods Meander catamaran Ceilydh, about 100 boats headed west from Thailand a year ago. These boats went one of three ways.

The most popular route was still the long — and rough — sail across the Indian Ocean south of Madagascar to South Africa. About 55 of the boats chose that route. But another 35 boats, including Ceilydh, elected to cross the Indian Ocean near the equator and come down over the top of Madagascar. Not only did this mean they didn't face the rough weather common farther south in the Indian Ocean, but they got to visit Madagascar, which was Evan, Diane and Maia's favorite stop of their trip.

But Evan told the Wanderer that about 16 of the 100 boats decided to risk going through the Bab el Mandeb Strait and 1,400 miles up the Red Sea to the Med. This was confirmed by Jeff and Melody Christensen of the Anacortes-based Lagoon 440 catamaran Double Diamond, who did the Puddle Jump, sold their boat in Australia, and then briefly joined a boat in the Med that had taken the Red Sea route last year.

That boat was the Mercer Island-based Lagoon 500 Sophie, owned by Pacific Puddle Jump friends Jamie Utzschneider, wife Jenna Miller, and children Leo and Hazel. The owners of Sophie told Jeff and Melody they'd paid three heavily armed guards a total of $30,000 to accompany them on the 14-day passage to and up the Red Sea to the Med. Apparently Sophie was not the only boat to hire armed guards.

Meanwhile, the gendarmes — Mexican, not French — have come to southern Baja. According to the respected English language Gringo Gazette, there's a law-enforcement shake-up underway in the area, as the federal government of Mexico has become increasingly concerned about the growing influence of organized crime and corrupt police. The Gazette reports that "190 young, educated federal police, who are not yet corrupted," have been dispatched to patrol all of southern Baja. Their job is "to bridge the gap after 100 city police and 24 federal police were fired for failing 'confidence tests'." These were lie-detector tests, and failing them was taken as been indicative of "stealing or being in cahoots with the druggies."

For what it's worth on a personal level, the Wanderer has regularly been putting in to Cabo San Lucas with his boats for the last 35 years, and has never had any trouble.

One of Latitude's favorite young cruising couples in the last several years was Justin Jenkins and Anna Wiley of San Diego. In 2013, Justin, disgusted with his native California, bought a Columbia 34 for $2,000, painted her Jamaican colors, and christened her Ichi Ban. Justin busted his ass putting the boat together the best he could on a very limited budget, and the following spring he and Anna took off for the South Pacific with $250 in their kitty. Despite their lack of money, they were among the most active cruisers, and a number of their adventures were chronicled in Changes.

The couple sold the boat in the South Pacific in March 2015, vowing to return to the cruising life with a bigger and better boat in a few years. It looks like a vow they intend to keep.

"We'd like to know the Wanderer's thoughts on a Pearson Rhodes 41-ft Bounty II," Justin wrote. "Anna and I are so pumped to get back out there on the ocean, and we're looking at buying one. We're currently in Sebastian, Florida, where I've been pounding nails for a commercial framing crew."

Funny the couple would ask the Wanderer about a Pearson Bounty II, as that was the boat — Flying Scud — that the Wanderer lived on and used as an office and photo boat when founding Latitude 38. The Bounty IIs, the first large fiberglass boats ever built, were made in what's now known as the Bounty Building in Sausalito. The later ones were built by Pearson in the Northeast.

The Bounty IIs were designed to the Cruising Club of America (CCA) rule, which meant long overhangs and thus relatively small interiors for their length. But the full-keel boats were brick shithouses. Warren Stryker took off from Sausalito in his Bounty II 50 Fifties Girl in the late 1970s and cruised her to his new home in St. Thomas. He won a lot of races there with her — even after she spent a month on the bottom thanks to hurricane Marilyn.

Then there are Robin Kirkcaldie and Stephanie Mortensen on the Santa Barbara-based red-hulled, yawl-rigged Bounty II Red Witch. The couple did the Ha-Ha in 2011 and the Pacific Puddle Jump in 2013. The former owner of a recreational-boat dry dock in Santa Barbara and his lady are currently berthed at Marsden Point, New Zealand.

So yeah, Justin, if you and Anna can get a good deal on a Bounty II in good shape, we'd go for her.

It's been a longtime dream of Bill Lilly of the Newport Beach-based Lagoon 47 Moontide to anchor his boat at Jost van Dyke in the British Virgins for a New Year's Eve Party at Foxy's.

"For once I went to something that wasn't over-hyped," reports Lilly. "It kind of reminded me of a Buffet concert parking lot party. Lots of alcohol consumed, but it was an up crowd with lots of friendly people having fun and no surly drunks. I figured there must have been 150-200 boats anchored out in a bay that should really hold about 20. There were some megayachts anchored out, including the 289-ft Maltese Falcon that had been built for the late Tom Perkins of Belvedere.

"Numerous ferries brought people in from St. Thomas and Tortola, so there had to be several thousand people. But thanks to a big backyard stage Foxy's uses once a year, it didn't seem that crowded. There were lots of bars, so you didn't have to wait long for a drink, and there were quieter places to chill out.

"I met Foxy himself the day before, and had a half-hour conversation with him. He's an interesting guy with a lot of life experiences. For example, he twice sailed across the Atlantic on a big schooner with Bill and Grace Bodle of Point Richmond. And he celebrated his 60th birthday aboard the Wanderer's Profligate on San Francisco Bay. While he's turned over his business to others, he still hangs out from time to time. If you haven't done a New Year's at Foxy's, you might want to put it on your bucket list. As for me, I might have to bring Moontide back for another one next year."

Moontide was later hit by a charterboat when anchored just outside The Moorings base at Road Town, Tortola. "To The Moorings' credit, they had my boat on their dock the next day, and for two days their fiberglass and paint guys worked on my boat. They did a great job, so you can't even tell she was hit."

"We have fallen in love with La Paz," report Kenny Knoll and Donna Cramin of the Mahwah, New Jersey-based Irwin 65 Jersey Girl. Everything has been great and we've adopted a puppy. It's much easier to get work done on your boat here than in the States, and the people are great — as long as you steer clear of certain gringos. We may head south to the mainland, but we're also thinking of starting a charter business out of La Paz."

Kenny and Donna were awarded the Philo Hayward Spirit of the Ha-Ha award at the conclusion of the last Ha-Ha.

Missing the pictures? See the February 2017 eBook!


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