With reports this month from
Kooyah on the Cayman Islands and
sailing to Texas; from the Wagners about Diana
getting hit by a ship near the Panama Canal; from LaRive
on a three-year cruise to from Ensenada to Key West; from the
seniors on Shayna on cruising in
Europe; from Pizazz on making the
difficult passage from Aruba to Cartagena and vice versa; from
the schooner Latitude on getting
from Hunter's Point to Sardinia; from JoLigGa
II on cruising from Fiji to Tonga; and an unusually large
number of Cruise Notes.
Kooyah - Hunter 35.5
Don & Mary Farquharson
Cayman Island Problems
The author of a recent letter to Latitude asked why more
folks didn't sail to the Cayman Islands - which is in the middle
of a 'box' formed by Cuba, Jamaica, Honduras and the Yucatan
Peninsula of Mexico. Having sailed to the Caymans, I have some
ideas why more cruisers don't do it. First of all, Latitude
was right when they said one reason is that it's not close to
other popular sailing areas. Although with both Cuba and Jamaica
becoming increasingly popular with cruisers, there is beginning
to be some spillover to the Caymans. It's incorrect, however,
to suggest that the islanders don't have a sailing tradition.
Caymanian men, in fact, have a very long seafaring tradition,
and at one time were the crew of choice for cargo vessels plying
the runs from London to the Caribbean. During the peak of the
sugar trade, for instance, it was said that more eligible Caymanian
men were at sea than left on the islands!
But there is another good reason why yachties avoid the Caymans
- being hassled by authorities. Each year there is a race from
Kingston, Jamaica, to Grand Cayman organized by the Royal Jamaican
and Grand Cayman Yacht Clubs. But in recent years, some of the
Jamaican entries have been subject to harassment by the Caymanian
authorities, who boarded - and in some cases, ransacked - the
boats. They claimed they were looking for drugs.
In the July '99 issue of the Seven Seas Cruising Association
Bulletin, Bob and Laurie Wright wrote an interesting article
about sailing in the Caymans after sailing in the Eastern and
Southern Caribbean. Like others before them, they'd been lured
by the promise of great diving. They made landfall at Cayman
Brac and then moved on to Little Cayman with no problem. But
when they got to Grand Cayman, they had to endure a nightmare
of official harassment at the hands of the drug enforcement authorities.
It appears that the Cayman government doesn't see yachtie tourism
as a priority - perhaps because there is so little of it - so
they don't care if they discourage visitors. It's for this reason
that we didn't actually stop at the Caymans during our May 2000
trip from Jamaica to Galveston. This was despite the fact that
Georgetown, Cayman Islands, was just five miles off our rhumb
line, and that we passed it in the middle of the afternoon.
I had sailed to Jamaica in '96 after a year of cruising the Eastern
Caribbean - and stayed there to cruise extensively around Jamaica
and the Bahamas. Last year I finally decided to bring my Hunter
Legend 35.5 back to the Bay Area, so I put a crew together for
the 1,300-mile trip from Kingston to Galveston. It took us five
days from Kingston to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, where we spent two
days changing crew and relaxing ashore. Then we took another
five days to get to Galveston. Everyone should have a trip like
the one we had. Every day was sunny and clear, with tradewinds
blowing between 10 and 20 knots from astern or the quarter. There
was moonlight and clear skies after dark. It was a total pleasure
Anyone wanting to bring a boat from the Caribbean to the Bay
Area should consider the Texas option. If the Canal and beating
up the West Coast don't sound appealing, you can sail downwind
to Galveston and have the boat trucked the rest of the way across
the country. Just don't do it during the winter or during the
July to November hurricane season. We had good luck with both
Payco Marina in Galveston and with American Boat Carriers out
Mary and I enjoyed our five years of Caribbean cruising, but
are glad to be back home.
- don 2/10/01
Collision In Canal
Susan & Peter Wagner
Sierra Leyre Hits Diana
At about 3:30 p.m. on February 1, the freighter Sierra Leyre
pulled away from the dock near The Flats anchorage just off Colon,
Panama. A tug pulled the bow of the freighter around in order
to position her so that she'd be pointed toward the first locks,
but the line from the tug came loose. As a result, the 20 knot
wind pushed the empty freighter sideways toward The Flats anchorage.
The freighter then struck the French sailboat Diana, whose
owners were not aboard at the time.
The anchor chain of the sailboat was caught on the bulb of the
freighter's bow. Realizing that the sailboat was in danger, Andy
from the sailboat Webegone boarded the sailing vessel.
With the anchor and chain holding tight, Diana began to
be dragged beneath the bow of the freighter. Andy responded by
first letting out the anchor chain, then cutting the line that
secured the chain to the boat. This prevented Diana from
being pulled beneath the freighter and/or being seriously damaged.
However, the freighter continued to drift, and snagged the anchor
chains of two other sailing vessels before departing the area
of The Flats.
Five or six cruisers from The Flats brought their dinghies over
to tow Diana to a buoy and secure her. After the owners
returned, they took her back to The Flats. Although Diana
sustained damage, the Panama Canal Commission ruled that her
owners weren't entitled to compensation because she was just
outside the designated boundary of The Flats when she was hit.
At the time there were nearly 40 boats anchored closely together
in The Flats.
- susan & peter 2/5/'01
Susan & Peter - Your story reminds
us of the time in the early '80s when a cruise ship tied up in
the Puerto Vallarta Harbor broke loose, allowing the bow to blow
across the harbor in an arc. There weren't any marinas to speak
of in those days, so everybody anchored in the middle of the
harbor. About a dozen of the cruising boats got banged into by
the cruise ship. Fortunately, no individuals or boats were badly
LaRive - Hunter 40.5
T. Joe Larive
After Two Years
Right now I'm off the coast of Cuba, and am starting to write
down some thoughts about my cruising experiences. I may keep
at it until I reach an American port. I started my adventure
in January of '98, when I took delivery of my Hunter 40.5 in
Ensenada, Mexico. That fall I joined the Ha-Ha, and continued
south to Panama and then up the Western Caribbean. After colliding
with an unlit fishing boat, I left my boat in Roatan to have
her repaired. I rejoined her in October of last year. I should
reach Key West soon, having covered 3,400 miles. During that
time, I think I've seen everything that you can imagine - but
I still seem to see new stuff each day. And I've seen just about
every kind of person, too: pirates, gunrunners, banditos, great
people - and everything in between. Right now my biggest fear
is the U.S. government, because I've spent several weeks along
the coast of Cuba.
Update: I've since arrived in Key West, and didn't have anything
to worry about - except for paying $25 for a Coast Guard sticker.
Customs and Agriculture both stopped by my boat, but they didn't
search. They wouldn't have found anything anyway, as I was very
careful not to have any Cuban items aboard. As for the stuff
I've learned during my cruising, here goes:
Much of what you read isn't true or is out of date.
No matter where I've been, the U.S. dollar is the 'coin of the
realm'. It works everywhere under all conditions.
Never get into a cab until you agree on a price - and the type
Cuban rum - especially Havana Club Seven Años - is muy
bueno. But it sneaks up on you.
Air-conditioning is muy importante because it allows you to close
down your boat when the mosquitos come out. Mosquitos were a
major problem for me. I was bitten so much that I had to be hospitalized
with a temperature of 106°. I'll carry mosquito bite scars
for the rest of my life. A day with air-conditioning in Honduras
is worth a week of wonder anywhere else.
Everything costs more than you were told. Much more.
It's not a good idea to take 'unseasoned' sailors along as crew,
as they waste water and electricity, and don't really understand
what's going on. Assume that the other countries you visit, even
Third World countries, can run themselves without outside help.
Bring more fuel and fewer sails. If you head east, the wind is
on your nose. If you head west, the wind is on your nose. After
beating for a month, following seas are orgasmic!
Bring a bigger anchor than you think you'll need, and lots of
chain. Let me repeat that. Bring a bigger anchor than you think
you'll need, and lots of chain. You don't appreciate how important
these things are until you drag. I dragged so fast in the mud
and turtle grass bottom at Isla Mujeres that I could have towed
a water-skier! Coral attracts fiberglass. Mud attracts keels.
Most water in the Caribbean is six feet deep. I feel sorry for
anyone with a boat that draws more than that.
Assuming that your boat has all the 'normal gear' such as steering,
two or more GPS units, charts and such; that you have knowledge,
training, guts, and far more money than you thought you'd need;
you'd also appreciate having the following:
Air-conditioning. God, what a savior! A good handle on Spanish,
because it's tough not understanding what's going on. Computer
integrated GPS and CD charts - which are really great! A computer
is even more important than air-conditioning - although to some
extent it depends on how much of the warm months you spend in
the Rio Dulce and/or at Roatan. Make a computer and printer a
high consideration because they allow you to make your own forms.
By the way, don't depend on charts being accurate once you leave
It's good to be back in the United States, where boat parts are
easy to find and reasonably priced. Everything else, however,
is shockingly expensive. For instance, the least expensive berthing
I found is $1.65/night!
- t. joe 2/15/2001
T. Joe - You know how much easier it
is to sail downwind than upwind? It's that much easier sailing
from Panama to Key West the 'right way' and/or at the right time
of year, versus the 'wrong way' and/or at the wrong time of year.
And there are few places in the world where doing the 'right
thing' is more important to one's comfort and safety than when
you're about to depart from Colon, Panama.
To our way of thinking, the 'right way' to sail from Panama to
Key West is via Cartagena, the ABC Islands, Venezuela, Trinidad,
the fabulous chain of islands in the Eastern Caribbean, the south
coast of Puerto Rico, the north coast of the D.R., the north
coast of Cuba to Havana, then to Key West. Yes, it's a lot longer
- but that's a good thing, because if you play it smart, you
get nearly 2,000 miles of mostly off the wind island-hopping
through some of the most fabulous, varied and popular cruising
grounds in the world. Other than sheer expediency, we can't understand
why anyone would choose to go from Panama to Key West via the
Western Caribbean. It's just as hard a trip if not harder, it
doesn't have anywhere near the number of attractions, and it
certainly doesn't offer the ideal sailing conditions. After all,
it's no accident that the Eastern Caribbean has about a million
times as many boats as the Western Caribbean.
Some folks might scoff at our viewpoint, arguing that it's virtually
impossible to get from Panama to the ABC Islands. That pretty
much used to be the case, because all the anchorages on the northeast
coast of Colombia - where it really can get rough - used to belong
to the smugglers running drugs out of Colombia and cigarettes
and appliances into Colombia. But no more. If you don't believe
us, check out Randy and Lourae Kenoffel's article elsewhere in
this issue that tells you how to intelligently make this passage
with just one overnighter. If you want another reason for this
route, when we had Big O between Venezuela, the Eastern Caribbean,
and Puerto Rico for the better part of 10 years, it was sometimes
quite warm and humid in late summer and fall, but we never felt
the need for an air-conditioner until we got to Key West. Furthermore,
we can't recall a single occasion when mosquitos were any more
than a minor nuisance.
As for your trip costing so much more money than you anticipated,
we wish you would have been more specific as to where it went.
If you look elsewhere in this issue, you'll also see a story
by Michael Beattie and Layne Goldman, who made a nearly the identical
trip at almost the same time. They spent an average of $1,000
a month. If $500/person/month isn't the good life on the very
cheap, we don't know what would be.
Shayna - Hylas 45.5 sloop
Larry Hirsch & Dorothy Taylor
Senior Cruising In Europe
[Due to the incompetence of the Changes Editor, this Changes,
covering the latter part of the '99 cruising season, didn't run
a year ago when it was supposed to. But a year late is better
than never when it's the tale of a couple of 70-year-olds happily
cruising all over Europe. The first half appeared in the February
issue. The next installment - covering their European adventures
for 2000 - will run in the April 1 issue. We promise.]
We enjoyed Cala del Bola anchorage in northern Sardinia for a
couple of days, then continued on through the Strait of Bonifacio
- which separates the Italian island of Sardinia from the French
island of Corsica - to the relatively new marina at Santa Theresa.
Because it's very windy at Santa Theresa, and because it's also
a ferry terminal, we took the ferry to Corsica for a day of sightseeing.
This was a good call, as marina slips and room to anchor are
very hard to find in Corsica. Furthermore, we were hassled by
French Customs - something we'd managed to avoid until then.
We left Santa Theresa on June 23 and spent a few days at the
Madelena Islands. We weren't too impressed, but maybe we'd started
to get jaded. So we continued on to the island of Ischia, which
has a great anchorage under a humongous medieval castle. The
only drawback was that huge ferryboats zipped in and out of the
anchorage, leaving wakes nearly the size of tidal waves.
Sometime during this period - our memories fail us - the one
gallon Shop-Vac that we stored in the engine compartment broke
free and threw itself into the belts that run the engine alternators
and the engine-driven refrigeration. What a mess! The belts broke
as did the alternator frame that we'd just had welded in Palma.
To make things worse, the lack of berthing was even worse in
Naples than it was in Palma, so we had to anchor off downtown
Naples for the night and hope for the best. Ironically, we were
just a stone's throw from the U.S. Consulate building.
Through sheer chance - and good fortune - we met Enrico Caledoli,
who just about adopted us. Years before, Enrico had studied economics
in the United States. He married an American woman, ran Ferrari
Services in San Francisco, then divorced and returned to Italy.
In his new life, Enrico and his current wife operate a small
marine repair business that specializes in mega poweryachts.
Anyway, Enrico drove us and our boat six miles north of Naples
to Nisido, an almost completely hidden marina for mostly smallish
powerboats. Somehow he got us shoehorned in - and for half of
the going rate for a berth in Naples. By the way, the going price
for a 40-foot slip at Mergellina Marina in Naples - you'll want
to sit down for this - is $150 U.S. a night!
After one night in the comparatively inexpensive - $75/night
- Nisido Marina, which had electricity and water but no showers,
we opted to anchor 100 or so yards off the marina. That was free.
After Enrico fixed our refer and other assorted problems, we
travelled about 25 miles down the coast to the island of Capri.
I had promised Dorothy a belated but super birthday dinner on
the lovely and romantic island. But we dropped the hook on the
side of the island where you can anchor for free - and on that
side they roll up the sidewalks very early! By the time we got
ashore in the dinghy, the best I could find was a take-out pizza!
We returned to Enrico and Nisido Marina the next day because
our genset had gotten very sick - probably a virus from the Shop-Vac
we'd already deep-sixed without honors. We correctly figured
that the genset repairs would take awhile - it turned out to
be 10 days - so we were forced to stay at Nisido. And we ended
up having the greatest time! It's a real hole-in-the-wall with
no tourists. Lots of locals come to the beach during the day,
however, and after 8 p.m. it seems as though all of Naples converges
on three 'fish shanty' restaurants at the marina. The three serve
nothing but seafood, and feature great service, reasonable prices,
and the most delicious seafood we've ever tasted. The restaurant
staff seemed to adopt us, so after our last dinner we had a tearful
During the day, we became familiar with the owners of the local
mom & pop groceries - both of them. We also rode Naples buses,
taxis, and subways, visited lots of museums and churches, and
really got to know the place. For a place we didn't want to spend
any time at, we loved it - and look forward to returning.
Meanwhile, Enrico had torn apart our almost new and still very
much under warranty genset - and decided that we needed a new
generator unit for our pint size 4KW German-made Fisher Panda.
So he burned the phone lines with calls to FP in Italy, Germany,
and to the dealer we bought it from in Fort Lauderdale. We had
lots of cooperation all the way around, and quickly had the parts
air-freighted. All we had to pay for was the freight and the
reasonable labor charges. When he was all done, Enrico insisted
on taking us out to dinner with his family. What a night to remember,
as we enjoyed more seafood, exotic antipasto, and much more.
What a prince of a guy!
Since we'd fallen far behind schedule and lost our weather window
for Turkey via Greece, we decided to sail up to Croatia. We arrived
in Croatia at Dubrovnik from Italy in June, and had a wonderful
time sailing up the coast for the rest of the summer. We previously
wrote that the Azores are the hidden pearls of the Atlantic.
Well, the same is true for Croatia in the Med/Adriatic. Croatia
is a fabulous place to cruise, as they have thousands of islands
and many scenic wonders. The war damage of the early '90s is
pretty much repaired along the coast. Most of the population
lives in the capital of Zagreb, a very modern city with large
hotels. The remaining population is scattered along the coast.
It was interesting to learn that just about every Croatian you
meet owns property on one of the thousands of outlying islands.
The ownership of the land has been passed down through the generations
since the land was deeded to the people several hundred years
ago. Ironically, the islands themselves are largely uninhabited
- although many do have small villages and some summer homes.
As for cruisers, the government has developed a number of first
class marinas to complement the many private marinas. It's a
magical cruising ground with unlimited safe anchorages and coves
to explore. It costs about $250 U.S. for an annual cruising permit
for a 42 foot boat. This may be a bit high for cruisers on a
budget, but it's for a full year. There is talk of having the
fee reduced for a six-month permit. English, German and Italian
are all widely spoken, as is Croatian. This is a popular cruising
ground for Austrians, Italians, Germans and the Dutch during
the summer. We also met a few Brits, but just two American boats.
Croatia is a great place from which to explore nearby parts of
Europe. We drove 12 hours to visit Vienna, Austria, and made
many interesting stops along the way. From there it was only
another four hours to Budapest, Hungary, a fabulous city. We
drove another 12 hours back to the Croatian coast, stopping in
Slovenia on the way. Slovenia has great scenery - and a fascinating
cave in which you ride a train for two miles and then walk another
We can't wait to get back to our boat in March, and head off
to Greece and Turkey.
- larry & dorothy, late
Pizazz - Beneteau/Moorings 500
Randy & Lourae Kenoffel
Bonaire to Cartagena
One of the toughest passages that a lot of West Coast cruisers
find themselves wanting to do is from either Panama to Aruba,
or the other way from Aruba to Panama. This is because it's the
shortest way for West Coast cruisers to get from Panama to the
fabled waters of the Eastern Caribbean. And for sailors who've
done the East Coast of the U.S. or the Caribbean, or who have
bought a boat coming out of a charter program in the Caribbean,
it's the most direct way to California.
What makes these passages very hard is that there are often very
strong winds and big seas. From Panama to Aruba, you have to
travel almost directly into the weather. When going the other
way, you can sail with the weather - which is sometimes even
more dangerous. It's long been said that some of the toughest
sailing in the world can be found within 150 miles of Cartagena,
Colombia. In fact, lots of sailors - and some cruising guides
- maintain that you can't safely sail along the coast of Colombia.
Our response is that this isn't the '80s anymore. You not only
can sail along the coast of Colombia, but you can also do it
without making lots of long and/or overnight passages. Having
made the passage in both directions, we'd like to share our information
To remind everyone who we are, we lived in the Bay Area for many
years, and during our 30s had great careers and our dream home.
But after a brief cruise with friends in Spain, we made a 10-year
plan to go cruising. Five years into the plan, we bought a Beneteau
500 and put her in a Caribbean charter program with The Moorings.
Five years later when the boat was ready to come out of the program,
we were ready to start cruising. Alas, Randy suffered a heart
attack just weeks before giving notice at his stress-filled job.
We knew our jobs were killing us, but at age 42? After three
angioplasties and $100,000 in medical bills, we knew we had to
get out. In the six years that we've been cruising, Randy has
shed 60 pounds and Lourae lost 35. We now eat healthy food, get
lots of recreation, and socialize often. Indeed, we are truly
different from the stressed-out fast-trackers that we used to
What we're about to describe is how to make a westbound passage
from Bonaire to Cartagena. Using the same information, you could
also make the trip in the opposite direction. One caution: GPS
readings vary slightly depending upon the equipment, satellites
used, and input error. In other words, you're on your own using
the waypoints that we provide. But they worked for our equipment
Assuming that you're starting in Bonaire, head west to Curaçao
and Aruba, the other two ABC islands. It's about 35 miles of
nice downwind daysailing from Bonaire to Spanish Waters, Curaçao's
large and protected lagoon. The channel into Spanish Waters is
a little tricky and it's not illuminated at night, so make sure
you arrive before sundown. Prior to entering the lagoon, stay
close to the beach. Although you'll still be in 90 feet of water,
you'll nonetheless be able to see the shallow edge of the reef
to the north. Then zig-zag into the sheltered water.
It's another 70 miles to Oranjestad, Aruba, which is as nice
as it sounds. But 70 miles is a little far for even a downwind
daysail, so we recommend that you sail in the direction of Aruba
along the west coast of Curaçao. Don't worry, the water
is deep close in, and the interesting cliffs, fancy homes and
pretty beaches make for great sightseeing. You only want to go
25 miles northwest - an easy daysail - to Santa Kruz Baai, which
is located at 12.18.55N 069.08.77W. Anchor in 10-12 feet of sand
and coral at the mouth of the bay. There is fine snorkeling along
the cliffs. It's an easy place to leave from in the dark, and
Aruba is now a manageable 45 miles away.
Aruba has several anchorages. The first is Rogers Beach, just
south of the refinery in Sint Nicolas Baai. Enter between the
buoys at 12.25.34N, 069.53.96W - remembering that the green buoy
is on starboard! Next head 090º to the next green buoy at
12.25.38N, 069.53.5. Finally, head 115º and anchor wherever
you wish in about 12 feet of sand and grass bottom. It can be
a little rolly in southeast winds, and it's eerie at night thanks
to the lights and flames of the big oil refinery. Don't worry,
you'll be upwind of the smoke and smell.
A second anchorage is at Oranjestad Harbor. Don't worry if you
get there after dark, as it's well lit. The Aruba Port Authority
requires that boats tie up to a dock to clear with Customs/Immigration,
so call on VHF 16 for instructions. They often tell cruisers
to tie to the cruise ship dock, which unfortunately has big black
tires that leave smudge marks on topsides. So use lots of fenders
and try to get to the north part of dock, which is sheltered
behind the terminal building. There won't be anybody to help
take your lines, so have Carl Lewis - or somebody who can long
jump almost as well - try to jump to the dock. After clearing
in, you're free to anchor. The airport anchorage features about
15 feet of water northwest of the runway or in the lagoon south
of the runway. It's good holding and close to downtown, but it's
An alternative anchorage is three miles north of Oranjestad near
the high-rise hotels. Go to the red buoy - which has a white
light at night - at 12.34.87N, 070.03.34W, leave the buoy to
port, and head approximately 090º toward the beach. The
Marriott Hotel and Condos are the left two buildings along this
stretch. Anchor in eight feet with sand and grass. This leaves
you away from the downtown shopping, but right next to beach
sports and access to hotel amenities - such as casinos, expensive
shops and expensive restaurants. For those who haven't been to
Aruba, it's a mini Las Vegas on the Caribbean Sea. There is easy
access by bus - $2 per round trip - to supermarkets and most
anything else you might need.
After the bright lights and hubbub of Aruba, you'll be ready
for some out-of-the-way coastal cruising - which is a good thing,
because that's just what you're going to get for the next 350
miles. The first stop is Monjes del Sur, about 53 miles to the
west. See the sketch for the layout. This rock is part of Venezuela,
so get your courtesy flag out and call the Guardia Coasta on
VHF 16 for permission to anchor. "No problema," will
almost certainly be their answer. The anchorage to the left of
center is in 65 feet of water facing the rock dam in front. There's
a huge dock with tires. If you ask, you might be able to use
it. Monjes del Sur is a good rest stop. We stayed for several
days and enjoyed fabulous snorkeling around the rock, seeing
lots of barracuda and large lobsters. The guys stationed at this
anchorage get lots of fishing trawlers stopping by, and enjoy
visitors - particularly those with fresh fruit or vegetables.
This is also a very easy place to leave after dark - something
you'll want to do as the next leg is 80 miles.
The next waypoint - not anchorage - is 45 miles away at 12.28.80N,
071.40.02W. This is about two miles offshore of Punta Gallinas
in 50 feet of water. If you're headed west and going downwind
and downcurrent, it won't be rough. If you have to stop, go another
12 miles to Bahia Honda, which is located at 12.24.00N, 071.49.00W.
Swing back to the port side of the bay entrance, as there's a
visible rock toward the starboard side. Anchor in 30 feet.
Since the current is pushing you along, when possible it's better
to continue on to Cabo del Vela. Continue to waypoint 12.14.50N,
072.10.00W to get an idea of what the anchorage looks like. Even
though it's 15 feet deep between the coast and the island, it's
best to go around the island to 12.12.27N, 072.10.69W. Then anchor
in 20 feet of sand with good holding. You'll be in an open bay
with plenty of wind - Cabo de Vela means 'windy cape' - but at
least you're out of the swell and in a comfortable anchorage.
No one will bother you, although fishermen might come by to stare
at your big sailboat. You may even see some tourists hiking to
the light tower or sheep searching for shrubs. Stay as long as
you need to get a good rest, as the next leg is 120 miles - the
only overnight passage you'll have to make. Most boats should
leave before sunset so they'll arrive before noon about 36 hours
As you head to the next waypoint at 11.22.00N, 074.03.50W, sail
downwind as comfortably as possible - which we suggest means
gybing downwind so you're not always DDW and in danger of gybing
unintentionally. Other than the oil rig near Rio Concha, there
are no obstructions along this part of the coast. The above waypoint
gets you northeast of Bahia Cinto, the first of five wonderful
little bays that are great stops. If the swell is from the north,
Bahia Cinto gets rolly from the strong williwaws off the Santa
Marta mountains. Two bays further down is Bahia Guayraca, which
offers more protection from the swell - and opportunities to
explore ashore and while snorkeling. The fifth bay is Ancon Chico,
which has the most protection from swell and nice locals ashore.
The sketch below gives you some idea about these bays. They also
appear on DMA #24493A - which is no longer available.
[To be continued next month.]
- randy & lourae
Latitude - 72-Foot Schooner
Paul & Suzie Zupan
Hunter's Point To Barcelona
Suzie and I read many letters last year about the advisability
of building one's own boat, and wanted to respond based on our
experience with three boats. We suggest if that anyone plans
to build a boat just so they can go cruising, that they shouldn't
waste their time.
My first boat was a Bear class called Sugar Foot that
needed a few ribs and a new deck. I started the project before
I met Suzie - and amazingly enough still had the boat when she
married me. We sold the Bear and then rebuilt a large part of
Harmony, a 1927 40-ft Lake Union powerboat. After several
years with that project, we took her back to Seattle where she
was built and sold her. Then, in the mid-'90s, we bought the
makings of our current boat through an ad in the Classy Classifieds.
That was a long time ago and on another continent, but here's
The ad was for the cold-molded hull of what was intended to be
a 72 foot (overall) schooner designed by Joseph Hartog of San
Francisco. The hull had been started 25 years before at the Alemand
Brothers Boatyard in Hunter's Point near Candlestick Park, and
had already exhausted the persistence and finances of two other
sailing hopefuls. At the time we looked at the boat, the owner
hadn't worked on her since 1990. When we finally reached an agreement,
Suzie and I became the owners of a partially completed 60-foot
hull sitting in a ramshackle warehouse. A lot had changed in
the quarter of a century since the hull had been started. For
one thing, the Hunter's Point neighborhood had deteriorated badly.
And the Alemand Boatyard had become something of a collection
of parts for used Chevy pick-ups.
Our first job was to clear a path to the warehouse. Then we had
to wash away the layers of dust that had accumulated since 1990,
the last time anyone had worked on her. We uncovered a hull that
had three of the four layers of wood veneer cold molded in place,
and the deck and house were roughed in. We also uncovered enough
mahogany, oak, fir and ape tong to almost complete the boat.
It took us just six months to finish the hull and paint it. We
were in a bit of a hurry as Hunter's Point is more like Beirut
used to be than Monaco is now. We wanted to launch the boat prior
to doing any interior work, so we trucked her down 3rd Ave and
launched her at San Francisco Boat Works.
Our destination - and home for the next several years - would
be the Richmond Yacht Harbor on the 'Chevron Riviera'. This meant
we were next door to KKMI, and over the next several years were
able to watch as Francis Brann and her husband completed their
Snow Dragon II and launched her. We also benefited immensely
from the expertise of Jeff Rutherford of the Rutherford Boat
Shop, who is a boatbuilder extrordinaire. We also benefited from
Anders Johansson, the mechanical genius at Swedish Marine.
By February of '97, we had enough of the interior completed to
move aboard. Suzie and I worked full time at our day jobs for
most of these years, and our schedule only allowed us to work
on the boat during the weekends and holidays. Nonetheless, in
May of last year we actually formally christened the boat Latitude
- although the name has nothing to do with the magazine. This
is not to say that the boat was finished, as there was still
much work to be done. In addition, while the masts were built,
we didn't have any rigging. We also didn't have any sails, electronics
or ground tackle.
During the years prior to '99, we had talked about cruising,
but hadn't really focused on it. The idea of completing the boat
was our only focus. By mid '99, however, it seemed to us that
we were within sight of completing the boat - ha! as if that
ever happens! - and needed a new goal. Europe sounded good. After
all, my job was taking me to Europe for a large part of the year,
so why shouldn't we move there. Besides, how difficult could
it be to move a 60,000 pound uncompleted boat halfway around
The European decision prompted us to accelerate our lagging construction
efforts. We had the hardware made for the masts, and installed
most of the electronics. We also finished some of the interior
work that we'd put off doing. We were, however, in too much of
a hurry to wait until the boat was really complete. So we called
the trucking company instead, hauled our boat to Florida, and
put her on a Dockwise Transport ship to Toulon, France.
Besides the frantic pace of last-minute construction and preparation,
there were some interesting twists. For example, the trucking
company diverted the trailer scheduled to move our boat to Larry
Ellison's Farr 84 Sayonara just three days before they
were to pick our boat up. This delayed our delivery to Florida
by almost two weeks. Then the trucking company sent a trailer
that couldn't carry the weight of our boat. It was only by the
persistence of Donnie, the driver, that resulted in Latitude
finally getting to Florida. Thanks to these problems, the 10-day
buffer I'd scheduled between our boat getting off the truck and
onto the ship had evaporated. We barely had enough time to motor
down the river in Fort Lauderdale to get our boat on the ship
before it left. It didn't help that my trying to take a shortcut
over a sandbar added to the delay.
The plan had been to get the mast stepped in Florida prior to
Latitude being loaded onto the ship. But that obviously
didn't happen, in part because we didn't have any standing rigging
yet. Can you imagine what it's like to order rigging for a 72
foot schooner in Toulon when you don't speak French? We spent
lots of time pointing at catalogs, drawing pictures, learning
the metric system - and laughing at ourselves to get through
two very difficult weeks. We were fortunate to make good friends
with Richard at the Elvstrom loft at Port Pin Rolland in St.
Mandrier. The former trainer for the French America's Cup team
in San Diego was incredibly helpful, doing whatever it took to
make our project happen. Did I mention there was a trucker's
strike in France shortly after we ordered all our rigging, which
delayed everything being delivered?
Once we got the masts stepped, we decided to move on to Barcelona,
Spain, which meant we'd have to cover 220 miles across the Gulf
of Lyon. The gulf is the home of mistrals, which are 45 to 60
knot winds that whip up in almost no time. The only warning is
the soleil voile, or high elevation cirrus clouds - three of
them in the shape of a chevron, if we're to believe the stories
we were told. Since Latitude still hadn't had a sea trial
or shakedown sail, we were very nervous before setting out. Indeed,
the engine hadn't been tested for more than a couple of hours,
and we still didn't have any sails. I had visions of being 100
miles offshore and getting hit by a mistral after the engine
stopped. So we purchased a used storm sail from Richard - left
over from one of Eric Taberly's around the world efforts.
So one fine morning in early September, with the sun just coming
up and no forecast for a mistral, we left the Toulon harbor,
calibrated our newly installed autopilot, and set out for Barcelona.
We were lucky, however, as we had no wind, fairly flat seas,
and lots of tuna and dolphin during the 28 hours it took us to
reach Barcelona. Latitude performed flawlessly, and we
averaged almost eight knots for the entire distance. The only
mishap was that we both got sunburns.
We enjoyed our time at Port Ginesta, Sitges, which is near Barcelona.
The Costa Brava is an amazing place, and we really enjoyed relaxing
there. I worked at my 'day job' during the week travelling around
Europe, while Suzie stayed with the boat and enjoyed the Med.
We then continued on to Menorca for three months - two more than
we'd planned. It's a very friendly place, and we almost couldn't
leave because of our packed social calendar. It's a great place
to spend the winter in the Med. We then moved on to Carloforte
on the southern tip of the Italian island of Sardinia. The only
other cruising boat there was the Swedish couple we met in Menorca
who were sailing in the same direction as us. So far the Italians
have been even more friendly than the Spanish! However, the facilities
- such as electricity - are very scarce because everything closes
down for the winter. But the food here makes up for everything
else that might be missing in the marina. Our next destination
is Sidi bu Said in Tunisia, probably within the next two weeks.
We've been in Europe for six months now, so we need to get out
of the European Union for awhile to avoid having to pay value
added tax. The weather is already starting to warm up here, so
we are looking forward to spring in Greece, but will first visit
Sicily along the way.
Why don't we recommend building a cruising boat? Because if you
just want to go cruising, it's faster, cheaper and a lot less
painful to buy than build. In the five years we spent building
our boat, we could have easily saved enough money to buy one
like her - and probably enough extra to have funded cruising
for a while. Plus, we wouldn't have had to do several thousand
hours of manual labor. Our theory is that most folks who successfully
complete their own boats were motivated by the desire to build
a boat, not to go cruising.
Having said this, we have compiled a short list of criteria essential
for backyard boatbuilding: Send your friends a card and tell
them that you'll see them again in five years or so. Forget your
social life, as you have something more important to tend to.
Socializing with family members is the only exception, because
you can weasel some of them into helping on the boat. After awhile,
however, they'll quit coming. By the third year, they won't even
miss you at Thanksgiving. Tell your employer that you'll never
be able to work overtime again - especially on weekends. Evenings
are meant for small boat projects, weekends for big ones. Forget
the savings account and have your salary direct-deposited to
West Marine. Get a calendar and mark down all the holidays and
which chandleries are open on those holidays. You don't want
to find out on Christmas afternoon that you can't get any more
epoxy until the next day. While you're at it, make a list of
all the grocery stores that are open after 10 p.m.
As usual, the 200/20/50 rule will be in effect. In other words,
if you double your estimate for both time and cost, add 20% for
overruns, then you'll only have underestimated the real time
and cost by 50%. Read the Classy Classifieds in Latitude
the first day of the month they come out. You want to snap up
the good used gear before the amateurs start nosing around. Learn
to find excuses to work on the boat. If you find yourself making
excuses for not working, for not having enough money, and for
not having the right part, it's probably too late, because your
heart really isn't in it. Cut your losses and buy a boat.
Our building our schooner Latitude was a labor of love
- and neither of us regret any part of it. We enjoyed the work
and are proud of what we created. And now that we're cruising
- if that's what you want to call it - it enhances our lives
tremendously. So, yes, we're really enjoying it.
- paul & suzie 11/15/'00
JoLiGa II - Ranger 30
To Neiafu, Tonga, Finally
I'm in the middle of the ocean on a passage from Nuiatoputapu,
Tonga - sometimes called 'new potatoes' - to Neiafu in the Vava'u
group of Tonga. I left Fiji for Neiafu on July 20, but due to
unfavorable winds wound up in Nuiataputopu, which is some 163
miles to the north. About 12 miles square, Nuiatoputapu is a
small Island, with a highest peak of only 450 feet. It has a
well-sheltered lagoon on the north side, although the entrance
is a little tricky. There is a general store at Fale where the
wharf is located, but this is still the most primitive place
that I've visited to date. The supply boat only comes about every
three months, and when I was there, the island was out of just
about everything. The officials were friendly when I checked
in, but did want coffee - very sweet coffee - and crackers. The
children were really cute, especially when they walked by half
a dozen times just to see me. Guys with blonde hair and beards
just aren't that common in this part of the world.
I had to stay at 'new pototes' for five days, as the wind was
blowing 25 knots out of the southeast - the direction of Neiafu.
When the wind finally dropped to 10 knots from the east, it was
exodus time for the five cruising boats waiting to sail to Neiafu.
We tried to find the officials to check out, but nobody was around.
Not wanting to miss the weather window, we took off anyway. So
far there haven't been any repercussions.
I finally made it to Neiafu after motorsailing for 48 hours into
headwinds that seemed to change in intensity every 15 minutes.
Once here, I grabbed a mooring owned by The Moorings charter
company - which has a big base at Neiafu. The mooring costs $6
U.S. a day, but it was worth it because of all the coral heads
in the area. It was windy and rainy when I arrived, and relatively
cool. For my first time in the South Pacific, I needed a blanket
to sleep at night.
I'm glad I got all my shopping done by Saturday morning, because
the stores close at noon and then everything is closed on Sundays.
There are lots of cruisers here from all over the world, although
they are scattered all over the Vava'u Group. The Group actually
doesn't cover that much area, but according to the guide published
by The Moorings, there are at least 42 anchorages. They are identified
by number because the names are too hard to pronounce! This is
probably one of the best spots in the world to charter a sailboat
because there are so many good anchorages so close together -
even more so than the Virgins. It's also good for scuba diving
as the water is crystal clear - although it's only 74° in
the winter, so it's cold by South Pacific standards.
Tongans are cruiser and tourist friendly - which makes a big
difference when you arrive in a foreign country. It was just
the opposite in Tahiti, for instance, where the people were sometimes
very rude and made me feel as though I wasn't welcome there.
The officials in American Samoa weren't very hospitable either.
But in Fiji, it's "Bula!" with an instant smile; and
in Tonga, it's "Malo e lelei" and an instant smile,
too. Neiafu isn't very big, but it's larger than Savusavu, Fiji,
and has more supplies and a better variety of veggies. Lettuce
and tomatoes were $5 U.S./kilo in Fiji, but are only about $1
U.S. here in Tonga. Tonga. Of course, eggs are $2.45/dozen here
and less than half that in Fiji, so you can never tell. A nice
chicken dinner here at Ana's Restaurant runs about $4, so it
doesn't make sense to make your own dinner.
After a couple of days, I moved to anchorage #10 in company with
Mike and Gail aboard Salt Air. Although it was less than
12 miles, it was blowing 25 knots on the nose again, and took
almost 3.5 hours. I dropped my hook in about 15 feet of water,
and could clearly see the mostly sand bottom. I shared the anchorage
with about seven other boats - and a black pearl farm that needs
several hundred buoys. But there's still plenty of room. The
only problem was that it rained too much for snorkeling, so all
I could do was visit other boats and commiserate about the weather
over sundowners. Fortunately, rum on the rocks always seems to
taste great in an anchorage. I'm still working on my Bounty Rum
from Fiji - which is 58% alcohol. Wow!
I bought a new 8.6 foot dinghy from James on Rainbow Chaser.
I still have my old 11-footer rolled up on deck, but it's too
big to keep inflated while underway. Then the water pump on my
outboard quit. There's always something. Two days before I had
replaced the alternator belt on the diesel - something I'd just
done a month before.
After a few days, I moved over to anchorage #7, which was calmer
and had a nice sand beach. While there, Mike went up the mast
for me to replace the port flag halyard and secure the spreader
lights. Gail dove to to verify that my strut bearing was worn,
but at least the zincs were all right. When you're nearing 70,
it's nice to have folks help out a little. The weather continued
to be dismal, so Mike and Gail decided to sail back to sunny
I returned to Neiafu, where I had some
good luck for a change. I got my radar arch welded, the Suzuki
impeller replaced, and dropped off my little Evinrude at Coleman's
Marine to be repaired. So far I've spent $30 on repairs and stuff,
but got 30 gallons of fresh water in the process. I also bumped
into friends Tom and Lilly from Miz Mae, who had just got back
from the Ha'pai Group south of here. And the weather finally
improved, with clear skies and calm winds. I also heard that
Mike and Gail made it to Fiji despite not having a working engine.
The down side of cruising is making friends and then having to
leave them. The up side is meeting up with old friends and trading
Later, I went to Nuki Isle, where the white
sand was glaringly bright and the only footprints were mine.
I felt like Robinson Crusoe. It's tough down here in paradise.
I then moved back to #8, where the water was again crystal clear.
I can look down and see my anchor chain wrapped around several
coral heads - which means I won't be drifting off in the night.
The local kids came home for the weekend, and on Saturday really
had a ball swimming and clowning around in the water. But it
was all over on Sunday, as everything fun is forbidden. There's
no dancing, no swimming, no playing, no working, and all the
stores are closed - even some of the restaurants. They really
have a strange religion. But they do make up for it the other
six days of the week.
My boat - which I bought new in '78 and have lived aboard ever
since - seems as though she's in constant need of repair. I fix
one thing and two more things need attention. On September 23,
with everything in pretty good shape, I set sail back for Fiji.
I covered 419 miles in 76 hours for an average of 5.5 knots.
My best noon to noon run was 147 miles, an average of 6.1 knots.
Pretty good for an old man and an old boat - especially since
it was so rough.
- john 11/15/00
Readers - Some of you may recall that
John fell out of his dinghy - which he was using to push his
boat - some 30 miles off Panama back in 1991. After swimming
for many hours, he was miraculously saved in the middle of the
night when a cruise ship passenger barely heard his shouts for
help. After returning to Mexico, John drifted into an unhealthy
lifestyle and suffered a collapsed lung. After that narrow escape
with death, he decided to get fit and take off across the Pacific.
"I just returned from a six-week trip to Fiji, Australia,
Singapore and Thailand," writes John Keen of the San Francisco-based
Gulf 32 Pilothouse Knot Yet. "My principal reasons
for the trip were to put my boat on the hard in Townsville, and
to visit with cruising friends who were in Phuket, Thailand.
Both objectives were accomplished. I put my boat on the hard,
then I visited with at least six boats with whom I'd cruised
in '99 and '00 - including Roy Foster and Chris Rodriguez on
their Oakland-based Lagoon 55 catamaran Solmates, and
Dream On. Upon my return home, I read the 'Lectronic Latitude
query about the whereabouts of Tom Vance of the Freya 39 Vanessa.
My news is really old, but I did meet Tom in Savusavu, Fiji,
in July of '99. I know I heard from him again, but 'cruiseheimers'
prevents me from recalling whether he'd gone on to New Zealand
or Australia. I plan to return to Townsville on May 1, put Knot
Yet back in the water, and head north. I'm signed up for
the Gone Over the Top Cruise to Darwin, and was very interested
to see the note in February Changes about the Darwin to Ambon
Race destination being changed to Bali. I had a bunch of friends
who voyaged from Darwin to Thailand last year, about half of
whom lingered in Indonesia along the way. Those who did visit
Indonesia said it was a great experience. I'm going to wait to
see how the political situation is there before I make my decision.
It's always nice to come home to the Bay Area, but it really
seems cold after six weeks in tropical climes!"
"We left Los Angeles in the spring of '97," report
Richard and Linda Braue of Departure II, a Shannon 38
cutter, "and then made lots of friends cruising in Mexico.
In Z-town we finally had to part paths with good friends and
frequent Latitude contributors Buddy and Ruth Ellison
of Annapurna and George Backhus of Moonshadow.
We continued on to Central America, transited the Canal in May
of '98, did the San Blas and Western Caribbean up to Isla Mujeres
in '98 and '99, then spent a month cruising Cuba before arriving
at Key West. Although we've since been kept close to the U.S.
by a health problem, we have managed to cruise the Bahamas and
Chesapeake Bay. We hope to be able to escape the doctors long
enough to get down to the Eastern Caribbean to see our Cabrillo
Beach YC buddies Viva and Charis aboard 2nd Kiss. Our
health problem is melanoma, and our advice to cruisers with fair
skin is simple: Slip on a shirt, slop on the sun block, and wear
a hat. Skin cancer can be deadly!" Cruisers - even those
with dark skin - should also get their entire bodies checked
regularly for potential problems. If discovered early, most skin
cancers can be treated successfully.
Speaking of George Backhus of the Sausalito-based Deerfoot 62
Moonshadow, in his most recent report he says, "We're
cruising the New South Wales coast of Australia from Pittwater
to Jarvis Bay. But the other day I had lunch with some cruiser
friends who told me a wild story about an Italian yacht that
sank enroute from the Galapagos to the Marquesas. The way it
was told to me, the Italian boat carried no liferaft, no EPIRB
and no SSB. The boat suddenly developed a leak the pumps couldn't
keep up with, and began sinking. Despite not having any real
emergency communication equipment, the Italians were rescued
by two nearby yachts - who only happened to be listening to the
VHF because they were using it to play Trivial Pursuit. What
luck!" A 'Lectronic Latitude reader reported he'd
also heard about the story, but couldn't remember where or any
specific details. Can anybody help?
"We were in the Baja Class of '96, the Red Sea Class of
2000, and hope to be back in La Paz, Baja, about a year from
now," write John and Ingrid Traylor of the Jackson Hole-based
custom 65-foot cutter Beyond. "Do you know of any
good paint contractors in the La Paz area that could give us
a good deal on spraying our faded Awlgrip? I know there's a yard
in Ensenada that does good work, but we plan to be in the La
Paz area for several months." After emailing a copy of this
month's letter from recent circumnavigators Ernie and Emily Mendez
of the Moss Landing-based Cal 46 Quiet Times recommending Abel
Bercovich and his yard in La Paz, we asked John and Ingrid to
comparecruising today with how it was 20 years ago when they
sailed through the South Pacific.
"First, there are lots more cruisers today - at least on
the well trod paths. Mexico and the 'Coconut Milk Run' through
Polynesia were very busy. We often thought there were three to
four times as many boats anchored in our old favorite spots as
there were in '81. However, it's still a big ocean and there
are plenty of great places to find solitude. For example, we
cruised through the fabulous Louisiades Group of Papua New Guinea
for nearly a month, and only saw one other cruising boat. Secondly,
the average cruising boat is bigger and has more gear, electronics,
and complications. GPS has naturally revolutionized navigation,
and is a godsend in tricky places such as the Tuamotus. But for
many of today's sailors, it's the only method of navigation that
they know. Another major innovation is that HF digital email,
which makes it possible to keep in touch with home. That's not
always a plus, however. Thirdly, the very popularity of cruising
has spawned a host of incremental fees and charges that were
unknown a generation ago. Another big change is the large flotillas
or rallies that have become so common. We were anchored at Atuona,
Hiva Oa, in the Marquesas when the '97 World Cruising 'Round
the World Rally' came through. Within 24 hours, there was no
more diesel, no more fresh produce - and most important, no place
left to anchor! And mind you, Atuona is normally a spacious
anchorage. As we've continued to sail west, we've seen similar
things again and again. Finally, because there are so many more
people cruising today, we think cruisers tend to be a bit more
reserved in putting out the welcome mat. When two cruising
boats met in some far-off anchorage years ago, they nearly always
socialized. Today - with perhaps six or ten boats in the same
place - some folks come and go with nary a wave. It's understandable
considering all the crowded places we've sailed away from, but
still a change from before."
"We left our boat in La Paz," write Thor and Tanya
Temme of the 45-ft trimaran Meshach, "so we could
return to our home in Kauai for the holidays. But we'll be back
soon. We had some amazing adventures during the past year cruising
in Mexico, and really enjoyed the Banderas Bay Regatta. In fact,
we'll be doing it again this year before heading off to the South
Pacific. For those who will be staying in Mexico, we highly recommend
the train trip to Copper Canyon. What an exciting adventure!"
"To clear up a common misconception about the Sea of Cortez,
it's not tropically warm in the middle of the winter, and the
water is far too cold for snorkeling. The air and water usually
stay warm around La Paz until early December, then plummet. The
air temperature starts coming around in late February and early
March, but the water stays pretty chilly until late April or
May. The air and water temperatures soar, of course, during the
summer. As such, March, April, May and June, as well as October
and November, are the best times in the Sea of Cortez.
"Please announce that we're opening up a new marina on the
island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia," writes
Ted J. Glenn, part owner and temporary commodore of the Yacht
Club of Yap. "We're located in the Western Pacific and are
often visited by yachts moving in a westerly direction. The facilities
here were constructed in the late '80s, but a tropical storm
damaged the slips and they have yet to be fully restored. I was
involved in the project back then, and have recently joined another
investor in taking over the facilities. Our plan is to refurbish
the food services, lounge, and immediate exterior now, and later
move on to a breakwater with the installation of new docks and
finger slips. Showers, restrooms, and some power and water are
already available, but currently boats have to moor on the hook
a short distance from the marina facility. All the needed services
are within walking distance of the marina and Colonia. Yap is
a small community and the most traditional of all the islands
of Micronesia. Visiting yachts can travel freely to the remote
outer islands - provided they clear Quarantine and Immigration
in Yap proper or the southerly island of Wolleai. Vessel arrival
must be applied for in advance to the FSM Government in Colonia,
Ponhpei. Oh yes, free welcome grog to the first person to bring
a copy of the Latitude featuring this announcement."
"We left San Diego, and after a peaceful and problem-free
run down Baja, finally made it up to La Paz," report Glenn
Aitkens and Paul Moench of the Sausalito-based Hans Christian
38 Endeavour." Like everyone says, La Paz is 'cruiser
central'. But January is too cold for us here, so we're leaving
for the mainland later this week. We'll be going as far south
as Z-town, and from there will head across the Pacific. We just
got email capability on our boat, and what a treat! We've only
been cruising a very short time, but already know what people
mean when they say the people they meet are the best part of
"We're two years into our cruise and having a great time,"
report Lloyd Banta and Lucy Dey, who have Ben and Lucy Banta
along as crew on their San Francisco-based Chance 50 Warrior.
"We're currently at the Mooloolaba YC in Australia, and
trying out marina life for the first time. In fact, we just bought
a camper van and will drive around Oz until the end of cyclone
season, then head north, targeting Thailand for next year."
One of the few times the Wanderer ever sailed on a boat with
high-powered crew was about 20 years ago at Long Beach Sail Week
on Bill Clute's Belvedere-based Peterson 48 Annabelle Lee. A
very young Paul Cayard was driving, Lowell North was telling
us to try to get the runners in a little quicker, and a couple
of America's Cup guys did the grinding. The point of this little
story is that one of the boats we raced against was Al Cassel's
Brit Chance-designed Warrior. We've gotta believe you're
now cruising that boat.
"Cruisers have new friends in Polo and Veronica de la Rosa,
who have opened the Vepo Grill and Beer Garden in Puerto Angel,
Mexico," report Barry and Kathy Devine of the Oxnard-based
Joss, and Ed and Norma Hasselmann of Heather K.
"Polo and his wife are new to the city, but are very enthusiastic
about catering to cruisers. Their place, which opened late last
year, is located at the ocean end of Playa Panteon, which has
the calmest dinghy landing in town. Polo and Veronica keep their
eye on the dinghies left in front of their place, are happy to
organize supplies of fuel, ice, water, beer, soda, and will dispose
of garbage. The couple speak English as a result of having travelled
internationally on business. In addition, Veronica is a wizard
at designing and making bikinis from the wonderful Brazilian
fabrics left over from the swimsuit company she used to own.
Puerto Angel - located 200 miles southeast of Acapulco - is a
wonderful port of call, especially since the growth of the panga
fleet at nearby Puerto Escondido has left cruising boats without
any room to anchor." Regrettably, we also got a negative
report out of Puerto Angel.
"There was a distressing incident aboard my boat last December
at the beautiful anchorage of Puerto Angel, Mexico," writes
a singlehander who requested that his name be withheld. "While
cruising up the Mexican coast from the Panama Canal, I was warned
by another singlehander not to stop at Puerto Angel. He'd had
lots of his boat gear ripped off there, and when he later confronted
a person who was trying to sell his binoculars, dive gear and
fishing rods, he was told he would be killed if he didn't leave
town immediately. Three other cruising boats, he told me, had
also been robbed. I nonetheless decided to pull into Puerto Angel
for one night and leave early the next morning, because I felt
there wouldn't be a problem as long as I stayed aboard. Boy,
was I wrong! Sometime during the night I was awoken by a noise.
I sat up in my bunk - which that night was in the main salon
- and listened intently. Hearing only the slap of the waves on
the hull and on the beach, I went back to sleep. But when I awoke
the next morning, I discovered that my boat had been boarded
and that many items in the vicinity of the companionway had been
taken: binoculars, backpack, camera and flashlights. I wasn't
happy about this, because when thieves board occupied boats,
it's only a matter of time before somebody gets hurt. I didn't
report the theft to the authorities, as I didn't want to get
caught up in red tape, nor did I want to stay there longer and
become a victim for a second time. I just wanted out ASAP. I'm
still cruising Mexico, and I would appreciate it if you withheld
my name and my boat name."
Robberies on occupied cruising boats are rare in Mexico, although
Blair Grinoles' Capricorn Cat catamaran was boarded by
an armed robber a few years ago off Buffadero - an anchorage
with something of a sketchy reputation. Speaking of Blair and
Joan, here's the latest from them. "We been in the Barra/Tenacatita/Manzanillo
area for the past couple of months, mostly entertaining family
and guests, and will look forward to seeing everyone again at
the Banderas Bay Regatta at the end of March. Right after that,
we'll be heading across the Pacific once again, this time to
the Line Islands. We'll spend a couple of weeks there, and then
island hop to Malden, Starbuck, Penrhyn Atoll, Manihiki Atoll,
Suwarrow and Samoa, at which point Joan plans to fly home for
her 'grandma fix'. I'll spend most of the season in Tonga, then
a friend will join me for cyclone season up in the Tuvalu, Kiribati
and Marshall Islands. We're looking forward to the wreck diving
in the Marshalls. Then, if I can convince Joanie that it's the
thing to do, I want to go back down and do Vanuatu and New Caledonia."
If most people had outlined cruising plans such as these, we'd
be a little skeptical. But Blair and Joan have sailed to Mexico
for each of the last five - maybe even six - winters, and have
still managed additional trips to Hawaii and the South Pacific.
"The racing boats only take a few days to sail from Sydney
to Hobart, Tasmania," write Rob and Mary Messenger of custom
46-foot sloop Maude I. Jones, "so our taking a month
didn't break any speed records. Our crossing of the notoriously
dangerous Bass Strait wasn't too bad, as we had strong winds
but no dramas. We're now in Hobart, and have met some really
wonderful folks. Tassie is like the South Island of New Zealand,
because the scenery is spectacular and the hospitality is fantastic.
As such, we hate to have to push on to complete our circumnavigation
of the island, but if we're going to complete our crossing of
the Southern Australian Bight the summer, we can't dillydally.
The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was here for five days,
and we rendezvoused with an officer that we'd met 20 years ago
when he was cruising the South Pacific with his parents. He was
only 12 back then. It was interesting to talk with him and see
how he's grown. Yesterday we toured a factory that builds 300-ft
fast catamarans for ferry service around the world. It was totally
awesome to see how they start with aluminum plates and get to
the finished product. We're now off to see more spectacular Tassie
"I'd love to get in contact with the folks we knew in Mexico
or the Pacific to see what they're all up to," report Matt
Sponer and crew Erik Golts of the San Diego-based Passport 40
Mary Frances. "After the '99 Ha-Ha, we sailed through
the Pacific, Australia, then motored through Indonesia. The boat
is currently in Singapore. We had a wonderful time, and want
to do it again and again. The parts I enjoyed the most were the
passages and the weird places you get to visit. Lucy, who was
born in Zihuatanejo, grew into a wonderful sea cat. However,
I'm now going to live with my lovely girlfriend in Tucson and
be normal for a while. By the way, I'm a big fan of how Latitude strengthens the West Coast sailing community - specifically through
the Letters, Changes and editorial that wraps it all in a mellow
context. Yeah! Imagine an icky alternate reality where there
were only the national glossies. If I ever do the Ha-Ha again,
I will seek out this mysterious Grand Poobah person and buy him
drinks. As for all my old cruising friends, I can be reached
Thanks for the nice words, and we do hope you'll do another Ha-Ha.
"We wanted to let all the Puddle Jumpers
know that we're back in La Paz and provisioning to leave for
the Marquesas around mid-March," wrote Terry, Heidi and
Carly Kotas of the Gig Harbor-based Cetus. "We will
be checking around La Paz to find others heading across, and
are hoping to get information on the radio skeds being set up
by the larger group in Puerto Vallarta. Can anybody help us with
this?" No worries, folks. When Latitude's Andy Turpin
returns from the March 3 Pacific Puddle Jump Party at Marina
Paradise, we'll put that information on 'Lectronic Latitude
so everybody can see it.
"We have been cruising the Sea of Cortez for over five years,
and have spent time in many of the larger coastal cities in Baja
and on the mainland," report Laurence and Bonnie Sheldon
of the La Paz-based Magic Moon. "During this time,
it's been obvious that stray dogs are a perpetual problem in
the cities. Individually, each abandoned dog is constantly seeking
food. As a pack, they become a social block that is dangerous
to those outside of the pack. Here in La Paz, the dog packs run
the streets and endanger themselves as well as humans. But at
least there is now a new organization, Mascotas de La Paz, that
has been formed to spay and neuter these animals and to place
them. In the last 18 months, more than 150 dogs and cats have
been placed in good homes. If any cruisers or animal lovers would
like to support the organization's work, they can write to: Mascotas
de La Paz, c/o K.M. Mitton, 2314 Carriage Circle, Oceanside,
CA 92056-3604. Or visit the web site at www.baja.com/mascotas.
Or call Rayo Blanco on 22 in La Paz."
"We know it's March already and a little late to write about
Christmas, but what the heck?" write Alan and Patsy Mosley
of the Long Beach-based Sedona. "In the true cruising
spirit, about 25 Pacific Puddle Jumpers - those who crossed the
big ocean from Mexico to the South Pacific - gathered once again
for a huge potluck dinner at Tauranga Bridge Marina, Bay of Plenty,
New Zealand. Many of us were from the Class of '99, but there
were also crews from '98 and '00 that joined in. Santa - Kiwi
cruiser Allen of Jenny M - made a visit to the delight of 24
happy children who came together, literally, from all over the
world to celebrate this special time. Party organizer Diane Bain
of Illusion persuaded her husband Peter to be the master
of ceremonies and to lead the Christmas carols. Entertainment
included a piano and flute duet by Dave of Redwing and Debbie
of Romance. Rod and Brenda of the San Francisco-based
Glory Days were Santa's assistants. The '99 Puddle Jumpers
who just couldn't - or didn't - make it out of New Zealand this
past year included Ballerina, Brisa del Mar, Veronique, Juana
Lucina, Red Wing, Ricka, Romance and Sedona. European
boats included Panacea, Sea Light Star, Oris, Queen Tala,
Scaffhogg, Neptune III, Nardis, La Zoe and Iyala.
Visiting from northern New Zealand marinas were Billikin
(Fred & Beda from Alaska), Tatanka (Wally and Kathleen
from Southern California), Toujours (Tom and Bonnie from
Southern California), and Escapade. Recent arrivals from
2000 were Lucid Dream, Equinox and Loafer. Most
of us are trying hard to break ties this year to go offshore
again, back to the islands and cruising lifestyle we love so
much. But 'overstaying' a year in New Zealand is a memory that
will always be close to our hearts. Tony Arnold, Tauranga Bridge
Marina manager, and his various assistants, as well as chandlery
owner Debbie Thoms, go out of their way to provide friendly,
helpful and affordable service. Tauranga and Mt. Manganui are
100 miles south of Auckland and centrally located for visiting
the many thermal areas and the east coast of the North Island."
Before we sign off for this month, yet another plea: When sending
a Changes or Cruise Notes, please, please, please include the
boat name, boat type, skipper and mate, and hailing port. Gracias!