Changes in Latitudes

March, 2002


With reports this month from Voyager on getting ready to sail up the Red Sea; from Chesapeake on having too much fun to come home; from Akauahelo on a good anchorage in Nicaragua; from Maverick on Sri Lanka; from Karibu on lovely Tenacatita Bay; from Geja on taking it slow in the Eastern Med; from Lady Ann on Gib and Morocco; and more Cruise Notes than ever before.

Voyager - Cascade 36
Kate Rakelly (8 Years Old)
The Red Sea
(Portland, Oregon)

The September 11th attack on the World Trade Center made our family consider delaying our voyage up the Red Sea this year. And some yachts did opt to go by way of South Africa instead. But now that we are in Salalah, Oman, and we have met the local people, we feel that the Red Sea appears to be a politically safe option.

At present, there are 40 yachts in Salalah preparing to make the always arduous Red Sea passage. Most will be skipping Yemen and heading directly to Djibouti or Eritrea. We feel a little safer because there are currently three British, two French, one German, and a lot of American warships off the coast of Yemen and Somalia. The British have been quite hospitable, inviting us yachties to their ships for cocktails! In a dry country like Oman, my parents say the invites are very much appreciated.

We get daily reports on pirate attacks on vessels off the Yemen coast. Some yachties are plotting the attack locations, hoping to detect a pattern so they can take a route that will avoid trouble. Yachts that have already left have been travelling in 'pods' of four. For some unknown reason, we yachties seem to think pirates won't attack us if we travel in foursomes.

The local people of Oman have been open-minded and friendly. While here, we toured the country and visited the smaller mountain villages. By accident, we came upon a group of Oman women without veils covering their faces. They quickly covered their faces with their sleeves. But after realizing that we were a family - my father kept his distance - we were able to talk and see their faces. They were very beautiful, with high cheekbones and olive-colored skin. All of them wore lipstick, colorful gowns, and gold earrings.

The people of Salalah seemed indifferent to the fact that we are Americans.

- kate 2/15/02

Chesapeake - Catana 44 Cat
Marvin & Ruth Stark
Key West To Cuba

We purchased our used charter boat in France in early '98 with the intent of self-delivering her to the Bay Area - but we're having so much fun that we don't know when we'll sail back under the Golden Gate. So far, we have sailed in Europe, across the Atlantic, and up to Maine for two summers - yummy lobster! We're now in Key West about to head off for Cuba, Belize, and Guatemala.

Key West is really an island connected to other smaller islands by bridges strung out over 150 miles from Miami. One bridge is seven miles long! We can assure everyone that there's no place like Key West. Thank goodness! When we were here 20 years ago, it was a small town full of aging hippies and laid back people looking for sunshine. Some became bankers, some became bag people, and the rest became real estate agents. Since Key West is the southernmost place in the continental United States, why isn't it called Key South?

As I write this, we're bouncing four feet up and down while 35 knots of wind howls through the rigging on this black night at anchor. They call this a 'Serious Norther', and they aren't kidding, as we didn't have worse conditions on our Atlantic crossing. Key West seems to get one of these Northers every few days during the winter. There are maybe 100 boats anchored out in this shallow bay with no protection from the wind. People come here because it is the end of the United States and the place to wait for good weather to depart for The Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico, or other points south. There are not enough marinas to accommodate all the boats, but if there were, it would give the economy a real jolt. Slip fees here are $2.85/ft/night! - twice the cost of most nicer places. In other words, it would cost us over $125/night to be closer to the disco music. It even costs $4 just to land your dinghy.

It's a week later, and we're now in Cuba. After that mean Norther came through, we were more than happy to leave Key West. We cleared the reef there about sundown to start the 110-mile voyage to Hemingway Marina, which is nine miles west of Havana. We had sloppy seas and were kept busy by winds between four and 18 knots, the Gulfstream, and the traffic in the shipping lanes. Marvin was adamant about making the most of the wind and not motoring. We started with the genoa only, then the genoa and mainsail, and after a couple of jibes finished with just the spinnaker. All these changes in just one night.

We arrived at Hemingway Marina shortly after noon, but it was almost dark before we got to the gin and tonic phase. After entertaining 11 different groups of Cuban officials - including two cocker spaniels to sniff for drugs and another to sniff for explosives - we were ready to get on with our lives. Hemingway Marina is old, but pleasant and secure. It has electrical hookups, potable water, laundry facilities, and restaurants. At a cost of $.45/ft./day - less than $20 for us - the price is certainly right. In fact, it's the smallest nightly rate we've ever paid.

The friendly Cubans are happy to see Americans and our dollars. Even though it is easy to get here from the States, there still aren't a lot of American boats mixed in with those from Britain, France, Canada, Australia, and other countries. For an American to officially travel to Cuba, it's necessary to telephone the Coast Guard, who will fax you a form to be filled out. You fax it back, they sign it, then they fax it back to you. It's easy enough. Some of the American boats that have been here several times before don't even bother to get permission from the Coast Guard.

There is a supermarket - dollars only - and local vegetable market not far from our boat. Dollars work everywhere, but credit cards from the United States aren't accepted. The weather in Cuba is great in January, so it's not a bad place to hang out - especially if you provision well in advance. Tourists beware, the local drink here is a Cuba Libre, which is local cola served with a splash of cheap rum. Restaurant meals are priced fairly and a local beer is just $1, a Cuba Libre will set you back $7.50!

There are several young men in the marina willing to work on boats or help with repairs for $20 a day, but they don't have any supplies. We wanted to get our spinnaker sewn - yet again - and they had a sewing machine that will do zigzag stitching. Alas, they had no thread!

There is a bus that leaves from the Old Man And The Sea Hotel - which is near the marina - every couple of hours to Old Havana at a cost of $2. The architecture of Old Havana is wonderful, as it's old colonial Spanish with a touch of 1950s Miami. However, the buildings are literally crumbling for lack of money. There's not much vehicular traffic, nonetheless, I haven't seen so many 1948 Chevrolets and 1954 De Soto automobiles since I was a kid. These cars are kept alive and well for service as taxis, but the pollution and smoke they emit is horrendous! Many are painted bright colors and need a lot of bailing wire to keep going, but they do keep going! Some now have Russian engines.

The Cuban spirit is similar to the old cars. The Revolution is many years old and we're not so sure that the current system works so wonderfully, but the populace cheerfully carries on with a Viva la Revolution! attitude. The Revolution did away with the rich, greedy, and corrupt, but now everyone is poor. We don't think that being poor is so bad, but they can't even get the most basic tools to lift them out of their poverty. Everything in Cuba is recycled - down to the nuts and bolts. Screws are removed from everything headed for the dump. Boats are often made of old inner tubes and twine. Animals pull carts and plow the fields, and any kind of wheel is valuable.

All the Cubans have been friendly. They love to practice their English on you while you practice your Spanish on them. Most are better at English than we are at Spanish. After Russia folded in 1994 - which created a real upheaval here - many schools changed from teaching Russian to English as the second language, and the U.S. embargo really started to bite. The lives of those living in the country seems to be a bit better, as they have access to more produce and the occasional bit of beef that happens to fall off the back of a truck. We took a daytrip into the mountains to see the countryside and the tobacco growing area. It was really beautiful. Every vehicle was stacked to the brim with produce and/or people.

Sailing west along the north coast of Cuba, the predominant winds are from the east. We stopped every night at deserted islands or mainland anchorages. Most of the sailing is behind the long reef that stretches some 165 miles from Bahia Honda to the western tip of Cuba. The water is incredibly clear with plenty of marine life. The locals will trade you lobster for almost anything. For instance, we got three lobster in return for a baseball cap. In cash, the going price is about $1.50 per lobster. But please, no more lobster for us, as we've been having it for lunch as well as dinner. While at anchor one evening in a remote cay, a Cuban fishing crew rowed over and gave us a dozen lobsters! We had to force them to take a total of $10 and a T-shirt each. They weren't really after the money, but liked getting the shirts. The fishermen are incredibly poor, and have to fish with hooks from wooden rowboats. They looked longingly at the old 4 hp outboard on our dinghy.

At most stops, the Guardia Frontera keeps close tabs on you. When you check into the country, you receive a visa and despacho listing all of your planned stops. The visas cost $20 each, the despacho $15. At each stop the Guardia checks you in and out. Cubans are not allowed on your boat!

In the country villages, you see goats, pigs, cows, chickens, and other animals everywhere you look. Despite having very little, the people seem happy. The staples of the Cuban diet are rice and beans, which are distributed at low prices. A typical government worker is paid about $30/month. Tourisim is the biggest source of income, followed by sugar. All in all, we Americans should count our blessings that we live in a dynamic, democratic country with limited corruption and plenty of opportunities.  

- marvin and ruth 2/05/02

Marvin and Ruth - Your last sentence perfectly sums up how we felt after our two week cruise along the north shore of Cuba.

Akauahelo - Royal Passport 47
Brent & Susan Lowe
Another Good Nicaraguan Anchorage

Most southbound cruisers are now targeting Playa del Sol or Barillas Marina in El Salvador for a stopover on their travels toward Costa Rica and/or Panama. We stayed at Barillas Marina - which was as excellent as everyone has reported - before moving on south along the coast of Nicaragua and toward the dreaded Papagayo winds that blow in January. The next anchorage that everyone seems to aim for is Nicaragua's No Name Bay (11°30.47 N, 86°10.17 W), which, unfortunately, is about a 36-hour run from Barillas and may involve a night arrival. No Name has a very easy approach, but we still don't like entering strange anchorages in the dark.

Based on comments from the crew of Rocinante, which had gone ahead of us, we noted a slight coastal indentation on our chart, and decided to attempt an afternoon anchorage near the town of Masachapa, Nicaragua. We set our anchor in 18 feet of water with excellent holding in sand about 300 yards in front of two upscale resorts at 11°48.26 N, 86°31.60 W. The easterly winds blew strong all night, but the water was flat and we were comfortable. Our boat was a real novelty, so every fishing panga had to circle and wave. One gave us a couple fish for dinner, while others offered lobster at bargain prices. We did not visit the town of Masachapa, which has a rustic pier, because it appeared there was only a moderate Papagayo, and we wanted to get south quickly. It turned out that the Papagayo wasn't so moderate, so it probably would have been fun to visit Masachapa.

There didn't seem to be any port captain or immigration where we anchored. We don't know what supplies were available ashore, but given the two upscale resorts, we expect that all the necessities could be had.

We suggest that those cruising this part of the Central American coast give this anchorage a try.

- brent & susan 1/24/02

Maverick - Ericson 39
Tony Johnson And Terry Shrode
Galle Harbor, Sri Lanka
(San Francisco)

As planned, we departed Phuket, Thailand, on January 8 and headed for Phang Nga Bay, a three-hour journey. We set our anchor near a hong - an island with a hole in the middle - where lots of tourist boats were unloading their charges for a paddling adventure. We took our dinghy in after them, and enjoyed a sense of superiority, having sailed our own boat across an ocean to get there. As the tourists were herded around on a schedule, we drove wherever we wished, whenever we wished, and commandeered a deserted beach. After the tourist boats left, we had Phang Nga Bay - which ranks right up there with the most beautiful places on our voyage - to ourselves. We sautéed some prawns and steamed a lobster we'd bought from local fishermen, and in general amused ourselves by ruling all that we surveyed.

The next day we had a pleasant sail down the east coast of Phuket until we were abeam of the island of Hi, at which point we turned our bow west toward the open sea. We crossed the Andaman Sea in about two days, leaving Pygmalion Point on Great Nicobar Island to starboard, and continued on to Sri Lanka. The passage to Sri Lanka was notable primarily for two things. One was our speed, as we made the 1,132 miles from Phuket in 164 hours - an average of 6.9 knots. We even broke the 200-mile barrier during one 24-hour stretch.

The passage was also notable because we again lost the use of our computer, thanks to a large wave breaking over the deck. We'd left the main hatch cracked to give us a little air in the cabin, and this allowed a couple of bucketfuls to find their way below. Most of it fell harmlessly on Mr. Shrode, who was sleeping. Had his howls and yelps been amplified by the Grateful Dead's sound system, they still would not have been heard by the captain, who was staring at a suddenly wet and blank computer screen.

Sri Lanka, as some readers may know, is the home of the Tamil Tigers. They are not a baseball team, but rather the descendants of former slaves, most of whom now live in the northern part of the island. The Tigers are now fighting to subdivide Sri Lanka - which one would think is small enough already - into two states. The harbor at Galle, where Maverick is now rafted to a large steel yacht, has in the recent past been the target of attacks by the Tigers. The Tigers would have divers attach explosives to boats in the harbor, blowing them to smithereens. (Anybody remember that band?)

The government of Sri Lanka has taken a number of defensive measures, including putting guards all around the harbor, closing the harbor off with nets at night, and checking identifications. In addition, at about 15-minute intervals throughout the night, the Sri Lankan Navy drops small depth charges - similar to very powerful cherry bombs - into the water! These depth charges sometimes sounded as though they went off right next to Maverick's hull, and were a bit disconcerting.

We were warned about this business before we arrived in Galle, and we were also warned about the Windsors, who are the yacht agents who take care of many of the labyrinthine and arbitrary formalities for a fee. The Windsors have been compared to the mafia and to thugs, but we had no trouble with them. True, they charged higher fees than agents in the previous countries we had visited, but they were quite straightforward and timely - positive changes from Thailand and Indonesia. As for the mafia comparison, Maverick's captain, in one of his former careers, had occasion to meet with members of the real mafia, primarily at nightclubs in the northeastern United States. He and they would discuss matters of mutual interest - such as whether or not the band should get free drinks. In any event, the Captain can confirm that the Windsors, like the mafia, are courteous and efficient.

Terry Shrode, the ship's motorcycle enthusiast, and the Captain spent a day riding around southern Sri Lanka on rented 250cc dirt bikes. As a result, we finally got to see some of the tea plantations and rice paddies we've heard so much about, as well as some of the small villages. The main city of Columbo is thoroughly modern - and the newspaper even printed a nice photo of Britney. But once we got outside of Columbo, we found that not many large buildings have been constructed since the Sri Lankans gained independence from the British in 1948. This, and the tendency of women to carry parasols against the heat of the sun, gives the country a 19th century look. It's been hot everywhere we've been since the Marquesas, so we wonder why the charming parasol custom isn't more widely observed.

The tasks of replacing the computer and recovering the data from the old one here in Sri Lanka has been odious. So far I have had to make the trip to Columbo - which is three scary hours each way - four times. While the data has been saved, we still haven't been able to get the new and rather expensive computer to communicate with the radio or GPS. As a result, I have been able to see almost none of this country - which superficially seems nearly as beautiful and unusual as Bali. The road from Galle to Columbo holds some interest in itself, as drivers stop at Buddhist temples to quickly give prayers and an offering. It is sort of a supernatural toll - which is certainly needed on this road, as among the travellers they must dodge at terrifying speeds are pedestrians, cyclists, tuk-tuks, buses, trucks, dogs, goats, cows, and the occasional elephant. Osama bin Laden and the Taliban are hated here, but it has nothing to do with September 11. They are Buddhists, and were horrified when the Taliban destroyed the ancient statues of the Buddha in Afghanistan.

One thing I did see - while dining at a fancy beachside resort - was a local mother carrying her child, who must have been about 12, along the beach so he could hear the surf and see the birds dive in the blue water. His atrophied limbs hung uselessly from his torso. Despite the fact that he was nearly as big as his mother, she carried him with an ease that suggests she's probably carried him the same way since arising from the birthing bed. And that she'll probably continue to do so until she can no longer walk. Having seen this, the captain, who had been in a whiny mood because of laptop problems, suddenly felt grateful to be able to exist on the same planet with this woman and her son.

Tomorrow we're off to the Maldives and then the gauntlet of the Red Sea.

- tony and terry 1/15/02

Karibu - Cheoy Lee 36
Steve & Gabriella McCrosky
Tenacatita Bay
(Newport Beach)

There is so much hype that precedes a visit to Tenacatita Bay - which is 125 miles south of Puerto Vallarta and 50 miles north of Manzanillo - that we were afraid that we might be disappointed. We need not have worried about this pristine little bay.

The fact that there's a good sheltered anchorage in 12 to 18 feet is incentive enough for many cruisers to camp out at Tenacatita for long periods of time, but there's also fine snorkeling, delicious shrimp meals at the beach palapas, raft-ups with fellow cruisers, bonfires on the beach - and even surfing! The bay is still pretty much in its natural state, so we could start each day watching the birds dive bomb for sardines, and end each day listening to the hum of crickets in the jungle-covered hills. Nights in the anchorage were so calm it was as though we were being gently rocked to sleep in a baby's cradle.

The peaceful nights were in contrast to active days in the water. I'm still reeling over the fact that I learned to surf in Tenacatita. One day a south swell rolled into the bay, creating waist-high waves shaped like those at Malibu. After a good two to three hour surf session, we'd be starving, so we'd go to the only palapa in the area for mahi filets, shrimp, and beers - all for $7.50. Often times we would spend the rest of the afternoon under the palapa with fellow cruisers, discussing everything from world travels to boat maintenance. Sometimes, it's nice when there isn't a choice of watering holes, as the one becomes the meeting place.

The Friday night raft-ups were another excellent way to meet cruisers. When Don - of the Truckee-based Islander 36 Windward Love, who is the self-appointed mayor of Tenacatita - first invited us to a raft up, we have to admit it sounded a little corny. But we quickly came to appreciate those get-togethers for the conversation, good food - and reminders that it was the weekend! Raft-ups allow everyone to meet and chat without destroying any single boat, and just when things start to get stale, full bladders force everybody to retreat to their own boats.

To our thinking, Tenacatita is a paradise found, for its clear water, peaceful nights, great surfing, and fine socializing.

- steve & gabriella 1/24/02

Geja - Islander 36
Dick & Shirley Sandys
Turkey, Greece, Croatia
(Palo Alto)

Cruisers don't need wars because we have all the adventures we need on our sailboats. Maybe the U.S. should try to solve the world's problems by buying everyone a sailboat. Providing the five billion inhabitants of the world with $10,000 sailboats would only cost $50 trillion - but think how the economy would be stimulated.

After spending the winter of '00-'01 in California, we returned to our boat in Netsel Marina at Marmaris, Turkey. During April and May, we worked on the boat, so fortunately there are lots of markets and restaurants in Marmaris. Our favorite restaurant was the English Pub right in the marina.

We also needed some work done on our engine, so we hired Tumay Sen, who turned out to be a great mechanic. Needing a diversion while the engine was being worked on, we took a hydrofoil to the Greek Island of Rhodes. While there, we explored the medieval town and castle, and saw the site of the Colossus of Rhodes, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The wind abated from the south in early May, so that's when we began our season of cruising. But we were soon hit by a three-day southeaster. We tied to the dock at Selimiye, but it was so bouncy that Shirley fell off the gangplank. Lots of folks drinking coffee nearby were watching and helpful, so she barely got wet.

The dock at Selimiye didn't have sturdy cleats, so we tied a line across the road and around a statue of a local patriot. The problem was that our line was often lifted two feet off the pavement, and local cars and cycles would skid to a stop when they saw it blocking their way. Our friend at the Falcon Restaurant told us not to worry about it, because the residents were used to having lines tied across the road during bad weather! In any event, it was a nice place to get stuck, and we used the time to learn the rules of Turkish backgammon.

Our prettiest anchorage along the Datca Peninsula was Kalaboshi. This town has a pier with room for six Med-ties, several good restaurants, and lovely walks through picturesque countryside. We wanted to see the Greek Island of Kas, but couldn't. The problem was that Turkish Customs wouldn't let us leave our boat for a day - without putting our boat in bond - so we could take the ferry.

We did have a beautiful sail - which we mention because they are so rare in this part of the world - from Bodrum up the coast to St. Paul's Harbor, which is so named because St. Paul stopped here on one of his many trips along this coast. The ruins at Ephesus lived up to expectations by being wonderful. Cruising along the Turkish coast was easy because we were given plenty of warning about bad weather and because there are so many good harbors for anchoring.

We continued on to Greece, where we practiced our stern-to Med mooring at the island of Samos for about four hours - much to the delight of the restaurant diners on the Pythagorean waterfront. It was no surprise to learn that Pythagoras was born here, but it turns out that there's a lot more known about the ancient mathematician than one reads in math texts. We loved Patmos for its monastery high on the hill and for the fabulous vistas of the Aegean.

The Cyclades Islands were daunting, and we found that no bareboat charters are available. The rugged and barren islands are surrounded by beautiful waters and inhabited by hearty people. We missed most of the meltemi winds by sailing so early in the season, but one big blow forced us to take shelter on Donoussa. It was then that we discovered that "NW 4-5 temporarily 6" on our NAVTEX weather report means the wind will blow force 4-5 for half a day, then blow force 6 for 30 minutes - and finally blow force 7 for two to three days! Our friends aboard Takes Two were at the same anchorage, so we got to enjoy the company of Don and Maureen for a few days. Donoussa has so few residents that the local post office didn't even sell international stamps!

We now know why Odysseus took so long to get home following the Trojan Wars - the Aegean Sea. The waves are so steep that when it blew force 6 or above, it was impossible to sail our boat to weather. Although Mykonos and Delos are very popular with tourists, they are nonetheless well worth visiting.

We arrived in Sounion on the Greek mainland in early June. The Gulf of Salamis borders the Greek mainland, so the weather was more moderate and predictable. While we were at the Greek amphitheater in Epidaurus, a young lady from the U.S. performed a spontaneous cantata. It was most memorable. The amphitheater acoustics are excellent, and scheduled performances are held on many summer days.

The Corinth Canal - the steep-sided cut through the Peloponnesian Peninsula - saved us 300 miles on our way to the Ionian Sea. Trizonia Island, which has been reported on in Latitude, was as attractive as Christine Anne had led us to believe. While at Lizzie's YC, we got to know Allison, who told us she is getting tired of cooking, waiting tables, shopping, and repairing her restaurant. This nice young lady wants to go cruising!

It had to happen sometime. After 14 years, we blew out our mainsail in the Gulf of Patras. A short time later, some Albanian youths convinced us that we didn't want to take a sidetrip to their country. It started with some children throwing rocks at us while we were in our dinghy. Some bigger and older youths told them to cut it out - but then asked for a 'tip' in a threatening manner. Fear and chaos do not encourage tourism.

The Ionian Islands proved to be milder and greener than the Cyclades. We toured Cephalonia on a motorbike a la Captain Corelli, and saw most of the sights described in that book. Our friend aboard Window waited for us at Lefkada, and we sailed on to Paxos and Corfu. There are charter boat companies in Lefkada, Corfu, and Preveza that offer short charters. This is an area that has wind every day and pleasant harbors.

We crossed the Adriatic Sea to Otranto, Italy, in order to make our way north while still avoiding Albania. Otranto is frequented mostly by vacationing Italians, and we found it quite charming. Here we found 'good stones' piled into medieval castles and villages - something we were to find throughout the Adriatic.

Our next stop was the beautiful walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. King Harald came sailing up the river outside Dubrovnik, so of course we had to have a celebration. That made three of us - Window, King Harald, and Geja - in Croatia. From there we visited Mljet; Kortula, the home of Marco Polo; Vis; Split; Brac, and Hvar. The summer music festivals brought out string quartets, a cappella singers and dancers in outdoor theatres overlooking the sea. Dinners were delicious, with entrees such as sea bass, mussels, prawns, and moussaka available everywhere. For desert, there was always Italian glace.

After travelling up the Krka River, we returned to Dubrovnik where we put our boat away for the winter. Our favorite harbor in this region had been Vinogradisce near the town of Hvar. The lovely bay has excellent restaurants - and friendly nudes on the anchored boats.

We are still home for this winter, but are planning to visit Venice and Slovenia next summer. It's no use going too fast.

- dick & shirley 2/5/02

Readers - We once sailed Big O past the site of the Colossus of Rhodes - which prompted our efforts to try to recall all Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. We couldn't remember them all. Can you? For the correct answer, see Cruise Notes.

Lady Ann - Irwin 37 MkIV
Willie & Andrea Leslie Family
Gibraltar and Morocco

Our kids, Scott, 12, and Ellen, 10, were delighted to hear that they celebrate Halloween in Gibraltar, as they haven't been able to trick or treat since we left Sausalito in '98. The boatowners in the marina were terrific, offering all kinds of goodies to both the local and boat kids. It was fun to see how the costumes the cruising kids came up with reflected their travels - an Egyptian mummy, Nefertiti, Athena, and an Indonesian princess. We even found a pumpkin at the Safeway - yes, Safeway! - to carve a proper jack-o-lantern.

No matter where you put your boat in Gibraltar - there are three marinas and one anchorage - you are in the shadow of the majestic Rock. We were surprised to learn that the solid looking big rock is actually honeycombed with 40 miles of tunnels. We took a cable car to the top on a foggy day and visited the impressive St. Michael's Cave, which is so large that it's home to a huge theatre and the man-made siege tunnels that have come in handy for defense during many wars. The famous Gibraltar apes kept us amused during our hike. They were especially fond of Scott and kept jumping on his head. On the way down, we stopped at a Moorish castle dating from 700 AD - another reminder of the interesting history of this strategic spot.

The town of Gibraltar itself was a pleasant surprise. There is a Disneyland-like quality to the place, with pedestrian-only stone streets winding up toward the Rock. We enjoyed a spot of tea at the oldest pub in town, and the kids were enthralled by the Gibraltar crystal works, where you can watch the blowers create beautiful vases from the end of the long tubes.

We pulled out of Gibraltar on November 1, but instead of making a straight course for the Canary Islands, we headed for Morocco in company with our Canadian friends aboard Synchronicity. We headed for Casablanca just because we liked the sound of sailing toward that exotic port. But when we contacted port control, we were told that the entire port was closed to yachts! No, we could not come in. No, we could not even anchor for the night. We had no choice but to backtrack 10 miles to Mohammedia. We were later told that Casablanca was closed because they are renovating the pleasure yacht facilities there. Still there had been no effort to be accommodating.

By the time we pulled into the tiny port of Mohammedia, it was late in the afternoon and there was no room left at the small yacht club. After a confusing radio contact with port control - which kept asking about our cargo and tonnage - and some shouting in French and English to a group of men on the dock, we were invited to drop the anchor and back up to the bow of a large yacht tied up at the club. It was well after dark before we were settled, and after 9 pm before police and immigration officers had finished their visits.

As in Mexico, you must clear in and out of every port in Morocco. And in each port, the officials painstakingly documented - in a large book - detailed information about our boat and every crewmember. Our passports were also stamped at each port. We paid no clearance fees, and the harbor fees we paid were standardized throughout the country based on our gross tonnage. We're registered at 19 tons, so we paid about $8 U.S. The formalities were conducted in a professional and courteous manner.

Any concerns about our visiting a Muslim country after September 11th soon vanished, as the officials in Mohammedia and elsewhere offered their sincere condolences for the attacks on the U.S. I speak French, so we were able to have some interesting political discussions. Several people expressed concern that we Americans do not understand the Muslim people. Most of them wanted us to know that the extremists have nothing to do with the large majority of the Islamic world. Some even expressed embarrassment about any connection to the events. Overall, we found the people in Morocco gentle and welcoming.

Walking through town the next day, we were first struck by the contrast of old and new, the modern and traditional. For example, the streets are shared by Mercedes and donkey carts. We saw some women fully veiled, while others wore short skirts. Men were clad in either the full long robe or Western dress. The cafes seemed to be the place to hang out, but we hesitated entering as they seemed to be patronized exclusively by men. I finally went inside and asked if our whole family was welcome. "Of course, of course! Entrez, entrez!" they responded. Not only effusive in their welcome, they couldn't do enough for us. We enjoyed a cafe au lait and croissant for 75 cents. They also sold beautiful French pastries that we took home for later.

Each of the four cities we visited in Morocco were walled cities, with fortresses dating from the 18th century when the Portuguese ruled this coast. Within these old walls were the casbahs, the very heart of the cities, which buzzed with activity. We loved taking in the sights and sounds, shopping at the open markets, choosing fruits - such as prickly pears or tiny sweet mandarins - and sticky sweet pastries from wooden carts or stalls. The Berber handicrafts were interesting and unusual. Having resisted carpet sellers in Egypt and Turkey, we caved in here, and now have a beautiful Berber carpet - intricately woven in wool and bright colored silk - on our boat.

After Mohammedia, we sailed down the coast to El Jadida, another tiny fishing harbor, where our boat was tied up right below the walls of the old fort. Exploring the fort was like a game of hide-and-seek, as there were many levels, tunnels, and narrow alleys. The markets were crammed with colorful pottery and mounds of bright yellow and red spices.

From El Jadida, it was only a two-hour bus ride to Marrakech. We spent most of our time in this famous city walking the crowded and winding alleys of the lively casbah. Marrakech, unlike any place we've ever been, was a true assault on the senses - shouts from the vendors, musicians banging drums and rattles, the scents of spices and incense, brightly-colored costumes of dancers and silk robes, snake charmers, medicine men, and storytellers. We were warned that if you stood still for too long, someone would put a snake around your neck or try to paint your hand and foot with henna. True to the reports, by the end of the day Scott had sported a cobra on his shoulder, and Ellen and I had danced with a fez on our heads. All day Willie kept an eye out for Cat Stevens - hey, maybe that was him sipping a coffee on the square!

Essaouira was our favorite - and final port - in Morocco. Although the small harbor was jammed full of fishing boats, the city had nonetheless built a pleasure boat dock in an effort to attract yachts. When we arrived, the boat dock was crowded with police boats and other local vessels, so the cruising yachts had to raft three and four boats deep. Still, it was the most inviting harbor we visited in Morocco, and they have plans to expand by 2003.

The fort at Essaouira is well restored, and dozens of Spanish cannons still stand as sentinels along the ramparts. Inside the walls, the city is bright with whitewashed buildings that are an interesting blend of Berber, Portuguese and French architecture. We got carried away with the crafts, which were mostly carvings from the fragrant tulya wood that grows nearby. Leather goods and baskets were also bargains.

Weather kept us in port longer than we had planned, as gale force winds from the north pushed down from Gibraltar all the way to the Canaries. But we felt safe tucked into these little well protected harbors. The extra time gave us a chance to really get to know El Jadida, Essaouira, and the surrounding areas. We visited a Berber village one day by bus. On the way in, we passed camels, donkeys and herds of goats. As we got close to town, we saw huge piles of olives being harvested and then transported by donkey carts. In the dusty market square, men dominated the scene, as spices, vegetables, tools and clothing were being sold under crudely covered tent stalls. The butcher stalls were too gruesome for words, as we stepped over discarded animal heads to get through.

Speaking of live animals, while in Essaouira we negotiated to buy a live turkey, The largest the farmer had was seven kilos - but we still bought it and had it cleaned for our Thanksgiving Day feast. I never want to be that involved in my turkey again, thank you, but we had a lovely dinner with our Canadian friends as guests.

Just after Thanksgiving, we got our weather window and took off for the Canaries. Because of the delay, we had very little time in these lovely islands, as we had to make last minute preparations for our Atlantic crossing. This was a real shame, as the islands seem to have a lot to offer. But as we have learned, cruising involves trade-offs, and as we finish up our circumnavigation, our time in Morocco stands out as a real highlight of our adventure.

- the leslie family 02/01/02

Cruise Notes:

"John Ludwig went overboard from his 30-ft aluminum sloop Forte on February 8 near Cabo Corrientes, Mexico, and is presumed dead," report Ed and Daisy Marill of Marathon, Florida-based CSY 44 Siesta. Although the details aren't completely clear, it's believed that Ludwig and his wife Ceyla were sailing south of Cabo Corrientes - around the corner from Banderas Bay - when John went over. Cabo Corrientes is sometimes called 'the Point Conception of Mexico', and Ceyla was unable to maneuver the boat in heavy seas. Forte, which had completed a circumnavigation under previous owners, eventually washed up on Cucharitas Beach. Ceyla suffered some scrapes and bruises getting off the boat, which was soon pulled back into deeper water. We're not sure where the Ludwigs are from, but the older couple was well known to cruisers from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta. The Mexican Navy provided assistance by confirming that Forte had gone ashore, and by telling P.V. cruisers how they could reach the Cucharitas Beach by land.

Our heart goes out to Ceyla over the loss of her husband, but we hope that other cruisers can learn from the tragedy. Cruising couples are frequently warned about the dangers of the woman - usually - not knowing how to operate the boat if the man were to go overboard or become incapacitated. Despite the warnings, we'd guess that this is still true in 50% of the cases.

The Marills also report there had been another potentially serious incident in the same area the day before. Tom Collins and Colleen Wilson had departed Mag Bay several days before hoping to make a nonstop passage to Manzanillo aboard their Catalina 38 Mokisha. But during strong winds and high seas, their rudder jammed. Forty-eight miles northwest of Chamela and drifting helplessly at two knots, the couple notified the Amigo SSB net of their plight. After the fleet offered suggestions that didn't solve the problem, a group of Ha-Ha veterans - Dolce Vita, Great Escape, Pipe Dream, and Siesta - developed a contingency plan. The fastest of the boats, Volker and Mai Dolch's Belvedere-based Marquesas 56 catamaran Dolce Vita, would be dispatched to tow the disabled Mokisha to safety - a 100-mile roundtrip.

Before the cat was sent out, the Mexican navy - much to everyone's surprise - agreed to send out Patrulla Interceptora 1136, one of their new 35-foot, 40-knot, drug patrol boats and a diver. The seas were too rough for the diver to do anything, so the high speed boat, not designed for towing, nonetheless started towing Mokisha to Chamela. At the same time, a much slower Mexican Navy vessel better suited for towing was also dispatched. The tow proceeded at 6.5 knots, with all the cruisers following the hourly updates. At 10 p.m., Great Escape went out to guide the two boats into the bay. Once on the hook, the crews of Mokisha and the patrol boat were treated to lots of food from cruisers.

The next day, it became clear that Mokisha's rudder post had been bent - apparently by hitting a whale or container - and needed to get to a yard. About then, the much slower Mexican navy vessel arrived - and towed Mokisha 100 miles up to Puerto Vallarta. The cost of them having sent out two rescue boats that covered a total of 400 miles - $400! As might be expected, all the cruisers expressed their sincere thanks to the Mexican Navy.

"In response to Latitude's suggestion of a Sea of Cortez Cruiser Clean-Up this spring, we regret that we won't be able to participate this year as we have to return home in March," report Craig and Sheron Tuttle of the Moab, Utah-based Sundagger. "This is unfortunate for us, because we're always looking for ways to give something back to the Sea in return for all it has given us.

Hopefully others will answer the call. Maybe it will become an annual event and we could participate next year. In the meantime, we'll continue to do our own little bit by keeping it clean."

Based on lack of response - or more likely an inadequate amout of time for the idea to percolate - we're going to have to postpone a Cruiser Clean-Up for this year. If we're able to put it together for the fall, you two will be the first we're going to invite on Profligate to help out. No matter who puts something together like this, it's a great idea, as it would go a long way to bettering the image of cruisers in Baja.

"You also requested a report on winter weather in the Sea of Cortez," Craig and Sheron continue. "Our winter in the southern Sea of Cortez has been very enjoyable - although there has been lots of strong wind from the north and boisterous seas. We've had plenty of spirited sailing, especially when headed north, and we've had to spend a lot of time hunkered down in protected anchorages waiting for the Northers to blow themselves out. These, however, provided great opportunities to meet with cruising neighbors over a glass of wine or tea. In the process of logging many miles and hiking the hills, we saw a good side to the aftermath of hurricane Juliet - the islands were incredibly lush, green, and vibrant - with lots of wildflowers. We truly love the Sea of Cortez, the people and culture of Mexico, and the wonderful community of cruisers. Sadly, we have to return home early this year, but we're already eagerly anticipating our return in the fall."

"Mitch and Rise Hart of the Tayana 37 Komfy notified me in advance of the approximate time they were going to transit the Panama Canal," reports Chuck Houlihan of the Allied 39 Jacaranda. "So I got on the Panama Canal's website. When I finally saw their boat approaching, I sent an email to the camera operator and asked him to zoom in. And he did! I was able to see Mitch and Rise wave toward the camera. Family and friends of cruisers headed through the Canal might be interested in these web cam opportunities."

The web cam shots from the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal are updated every five seconds. For some reason they often seem hilarious - perhaps because of the Charlie Chaplin-like stuttering movements. We just logged on and watched two French boats locking through. As Houlihan says, the folks at the Canal will point and zoom the cam as per your instructions - if time allows. Visit the site at, then click on 'live camera'.

"My current project is to singlehand my Islander 28 Summertime from San Carlos, Mexico, through the Panama Canal," reports Christian Luebe of Palo Alto and Salzburg, Austria. "Can you tell me how much it would cost for a 28-foot boat?"

After we posted Christian's question on 'Lectronic Latitude, we received the following quick response from Peter Putnam of Newport Beach. "While delivering the Swan 44 Gray Wolf from Tahiti to Fort Lauderdale, we transited the Panama Canal in November of last year, during which time the minimum transit fee was $500. There was an additional charge of $50 to have your boat inspected for proper lines, cleats, horns, and heads. In addition, they require a deposit of about $800 for 'contingencies'. It's possible to rent the required four 125-ft lines for $15 per day - it takes two days for many pleasure boats to transit. Most cruisers take turns serving as linehandlers for other cruisers, but you can also hire linehandlers for $50/day. Old tires wrapped in plastic are recommended as fenders, as the cement walls of the locks are not forgiving. The transit itself was fascinating. We only spent two days in Panama City - which I liked - organizing the paperwork. There's a TGIF restaurant adjacent to the Balboa YC that serves as a yachtie dining room - as well as an upscale dining spot for locals. They arrived in nice suits and dresses, we arrived in shorts and T-shirts. After we transited, we spent a night in Colon. Our quick trip into this town was more than plenty."

"We are so excited to be here at Balboa, Panama, "the crossroads of the world", where there is endless shipping traffic and a great bunch of cruisers," report Ken and Lynn Swanson of the San Francisco and Incline Village-based Morgan 44 Second Wind. "Nearby Panama City has to be the provisioning capital of Central America, as you can get anything. It's all working out well for us, as we transit next week and then continue on to the San Blas Islands. For us, it's been no problema finding linehandlers - all the cruisers want to do it.

"We only have 150 miles to go to Hilo at the end of our 4,600-mile Panama to Hilo passage, and are surfing along at 200+ miles per day in 30 to 35-knot trades," report John Neal and Amanda Swan-Neal of the Hallberg-Rassy 46 Mahina Tiare. "We had another good stop at Costa Rica's Cocos Island, and even took a close look at Clipperton Atoll. There was a new shipwreck and what looks like a mooring on the sheltered side. Unfortunately, it was getting dark so we didn't have a chance to check it out. We have covered 17,000 miles in our sail training program since we left Sweden in May. We've had some awesome sailing, seen lots of new places and countries, and had great expedition members - but it will sure feel good to slow down for a few months. After putting Mahina Tiare on the hard from March to July, we'll head home to the Northwest and then to Pacific Sail Expo in Oakland in April."

"We've been having a great time here at Tenacacita Bay, which is 125 miles south of Puerto Vallarta," report Rob and Virginia Gleser of the Alameda-based Freeport 41 Harmony. "We also helped start a VHF cruiser's net for here and Barra de Navidad, and people have really gotten into it. The last net controller gets to pick the next one, so all the shy people who have never done it are having to step up. Fun! We think Tenacatita is really special because it's the first anchorage since we left the Sea of Cortez that 'has it all'. The Sea has it all - up until mid or late November, at which time the Northers start blowing and the air and water temperatures get too cold. But it's not cold down here. It's hot today and the 82° water makes for comfortable swimming. The water is clear and there are lots of fish, so the snorkeling is good - and from time to time a dolphin or whale will come by. There are 8 peso beers at the palapa on the beach, the exciting jungle ride starts next to the anchorage, the anchorage has flat water, and we've even got fleet officials and royalty - Mayor Don and Queen Lena of the Truckee-based Islander 36 Windward Luv. The couple, who spend five months a year here on their boat, are both self-appointed, but everybody loves them. We had planned on making it down to Z-town, but we have to be back in the States too soon for the additional 500 miles to have made sense. After all, we have 600 miles of going to weather before we can haul Harmony at San Carlos."

If anyone was looking for lighthearted sailing fun in the tropics, Tenacatita Bay wouldn't have been a bad place to be on February 4, as it was the site of the first annual - hopefully - Tres Palapas Race. The concept, developed by Alan Wulzen of the Marin-based Cabo Rico 38 Silhouette, and Peter Wolcott of the Kauai-based Santa Cruz 52 Kiapa, was for the fleet to sail a 10.5 mile course in the bay. To make things more entertaining, all the boats would have to anchor twice - once at Revelcito and once at Manzanilla - so the crews could go ashore for liquid refreshment. The winner of the rabbit start event would be the first boat whose crew was seated at the Casa de Pirates restaurant. In addition to getting bragging rights, the winner would earn the privilege of having to buy drinks for everyone in the fleet. Much to Wulzen and Wolcott's surprise, nine boats and 58 sailors from 27 boats participated. The boats were Sea Turn, Cape Dory 36, Herman & Nancy Ford, Portland; Rapture, Endeavour 35, Howard & Kellie Stephenson, Vancouver; Wilhelm, 40-ft custom steel sloop, Rob & Natalie Sellin, York, Maine; Viajera, Peterson 44, Wayne Bingham & Helene Mower, Edmonton; Mystic, Islander 44, Gene & Louise Brown, Long Branch, WA; Breila, Contessa 38, Michael & Catherine Whitby, Vancouver; Mithrandir, Alden 54, Rick & Elkie Cunningham, BVIs; Sabrosa, J/44, Greg King and Wayne Noecker, Long Beach; and Kiapa, Santa Cruz 52, Peter & Susan Wolcott, Kauai. We wished the event had been held four days before, when we were there with Profligate!

In their annual report, former Santa Cruz residents Ralph and Kathleen Neeley of the 45-ft sloop Neeleen report that they continue to enjoy the gypsy life in retirement. They were well into it when we first met them in Antigua many years ago, then again later in Trinidad. For what seems like the last five or six years, they've been in the Pacific, mainly Fiji. "Last year was our year for sailing, so we headed over to Vavu'a in the Kingdom of Tonga," the couple report. "It was wonderful, with great anchorages and snorkeling. A new island formed overnight just 18 miles away when an underwater volcano erupted, spewing volcanic rock to the surface. Fortunately, the tradewinds blew the smoke and ash away from our anchorage."

"After the '98 Ha-Ha, we sailed down to Panama and then over to Cartagena, Colombia," report Bill and Diana Barash of the Morro Bay-based Cal 39 Diana B. "We then began cruising the Western Caribbean, losing our rudder between Roatan and Guatemala. Last July, after three years of cruising, our Cal 39 made a 'one tack' passage from St. Pete, Florida, to Richmond on a flatbed trailer. It was more traumatic than any of our sea passages. Anyway, we're tucked back into Morro Bay again, but would love to hear from all our old cruising friends ."

If Mexico is trying to build a 'nautical stairway', what would you call Cuba's plans? A joint venture between Cuba and foreign investors will result in 30 marinas being built in Cuba over the next five years, reports our old friend Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich, commodore of the 1,500-berth Hemingway Marina near Havana. We think it's absurd for any Third World country, Cuba in particular, to believe that they can build - and that there will be a market for - 30 new marinas in such a short period of time. But we'll see. Eventually - meaning shortly after Castro croaks - there certainly will be a market. For details, see this month's Sightings.

"We would like to take advantage of Latitude's editorial space to say good-bye to all the friends we made during our two-year cruise from Seattle to Cape Coral, Florida," report Dwight and Fran Fisher from St. Jean de Losne, France. "We sold our Fisher 30 We Three, which is being trucked back to Washington to be renamed and revived by a new owner. We will miss the camaraderie and generosity of the special people in the cruising community. Being completely off the water is out of the question, so we will be cruising the European canals and rivers aboard our new-to-us canal boat, Chapter III. We'd love to hear from everyone, and can be reached ."

"After the Societies, we worked our way through Rarotonga, Niue and Tonga," report 2000 Ha-Ha vets Ken Machtley and Cathy Siegismund of the Seattle-based Tashiba 31 Felicity. "Speaking English once we got in Rarotonga was a welcome change after four months in French Polynesia, and Raro became our favorite stop between Mexico and New Zealand. Exploring caves and diving in crystal clear water in Niue was also spectacular. We wrapped up our season in the tropics in Vava'u, Tonga, where we found an active social life and great anchorages. Our passage to New Zealand was mostly uneventful, and we're strangely happy to be back in 'civilization' once again. We're currently in Bayswater Marina in Auckland with friends on Layla, Rainsong, Green Ghost, Velella, Altair and Horai. Our site is up to date with Cath's log and lots of pictures. Our plans are evolving, but we're leaning towards staying in New Zealand through the season. By the way, we're putting the finishing touches on a First-Timers Guide To The Coconut Milk Run. Jan and Signe of the Sundeer 64 Raven will be handing out copies at Latitude's Pacific Puddle Jump Party at Paradise Resort and Marina on March 5. It's 50 or so pages long. It will also be available for download from our website."

If anyone wants to see what it looks like at the stops on the Milk Run from the West Coast to New Zealand, they should check out Ken and Cathy's site, as they are prolific photographers. And we're willing to bet that their First Timers Guide to the Milk Run will be very popular.

"After the Ha-Ha and losing my Olson 30 Still Crazy on the rocks near Punta de Mita, I'm back doing medical work," writes Ron Corbin. "We had a two-year-old who needed skin grafts because of lower body burns, which reminded me once again how very, very fortunate all of us are who are healthy enough to sail. Yes, I lost my boat, but others have much more serious problems. As you might have heard, I'm in the process of buying Vedelia, a 40-ft cold-molded pilothouse sloop that I'd seen at Kauai 18 months ago at the end of my Singlehanded TransPac. At the time, I wasn't in the market and the owner didn't really want to sell, but that's all changed. The owner and I plan on sailing Vedelia over to the Ala Wai in Honolulu in March for a haulout, inspection, and bottom job, before sailing back to Kauai. By May or June, I'll hopefully have her ready for sea and can take off for Alaska. After going down the Inside Passage, I'd layover for the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Show so that I can show off my new boat."

Thanks for reporting the attack on Les and myself in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea," report Marcia Stromsmoe and Les MacNeill of the Victoria, B.C.-based Corbin 39 Rio Nimpkish. We've both back in Victoria, and I'm OK. Les will be OK also, but he's still in the hospital and has lost an eye. For the record, we were attacked while hiking by a total stranger who, by the way, wasn't intending to rob us. The incident was not boat related - other than we would not have been there had we not had a boat. It was our only negative experience in 5.5 years of cruising. While Les is recovering, my job is to get Rio Nimpkish back to Victoria from Rabaul. Les can't do it, as he still won't be sailing for a long time - and maybe never offshore again. I could do it with a delivery skipper, except I can't imagine being on Rio Nimpkish with anyone but Les. So I'm looking for suggestions on how to get our boat shipped home or delivered home. Can anybody help?

If anybody needed further proof that not all the mental cases and victims of drugs and alcohol are on the streets of downtown San Francisco, there was a less violent but similarly senseless incident in Z-town a few weeks ago. A group of young cruisers - Steve and Gabby McCroskey from the Newport Beach-based Karibu, Jesse Haas and Anne Lowell from the San Diego-based CT-41 Taka, Rob and Kristen from a Florida/San Diego based Pearson 36, and Adam Sadeg of the Alameda-based Morgan 38 Blarney3 - decided to dinghy to Las Gatas Beach for a sunset walk to the lighthouse on the point. When they got out of their dinghies, a Mexican fellow came down and pushed the dinghies back into the water. This was weird, so they took the dinghies down the beach a short distance to Amado's Restaurant, where waiters they knew said they would watch the dinghies. After nearly getting to the lighthouse, a waiter came after them shouting. He reported that the same Mexican fellow had punctured the dinghies scores of times with a screwdriver, removed the drain plugs, and pushed them back into the water. The man had been prevented from doing further damage when a waiter whacked him on the head with the dull side of a machete. Rather than flee the scene, the fellow - who was drunk and on drugs - calmly sat down on a beach chair and continued to sip a beer. The police never showed up, but Amado and the man's brother did. They apologized profusely and promised to pay for all the damages. The next day, the crusing fleet in Z-town contributed materials and labor to repair the dinghies, while the troubled Mexican headed for jail.

"I have been cruising full time since departing San Francisco Bay in November of '99 aboard my Kelly Peterson 44 Sea Angel," reports Marc Hachey of Auburn. "I'm currently in Port Elizabeth, Bequia, in the Eastern Caribbean, and have logged over 8,000 miles since leaving the Bay Area. About 85% of my cruising has been singlehanded, and I have not had any crew aboard since transiting the Canal on 10/10/01 - a digital date that I'll always remember. My plans are to sail up the East Coast to Massachusetts to visit my Dad for the summer, then return to the Caribbean after hurricane season. Eventually, I hope to complete a circumnavigation - although I would like to find a female partner to share the experience with before heading for the South Pacific. Cruising has been wonderful thus far, and I look forward to several more years of sailing, exploring foreign countries, and meeting new people from different cultures than the one I grew up in."

"Thanks to a Christmas gift from a cruising buddy, we now have our first phone in 12 years," report Foster Goodfellow and Sally Andrew, who left Alameda a dozen years ago to cruise the Pacific aboard their Yamaha 33 FellowShip. "So our friends should call us sometime. Within Australia, the number is 0422-031-332. From overseas, it's 61-422-031-332." As some readers might remember, Foster has been suffering from balance problems, so their beloved cruising yacht is up for sale. They are looking to purchase a canal boat.

Earlier in Changes, we asked if you could name the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which were celebrations of religion, mythology, art, and science. Herodotus started a list of wonders in 5th century B.C., but the final list of the Seven Wonders wasn't compiled until the Middle Ages. The Wonders - only one of which still survives - are the Great Pyramid of Giza near Memphis (Egypt, not Tennessee); the Hanging Gardens of Babylon on the banks of the Euphrates River in Iraq; the Statue of Zeus at Olympia in Greece; the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in Turkey; the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in Turkey; the Colossus of Rhodes in Greece; and the Lighthouse at Alexandria, Egypt. This has been your classical educational moment for this issue.

We recently received the 2002 edition of the Trinidad & Tobago Boater's Directory, a 226-page resource guide and telephone book with lots of color and excellent information. The Directory is distributed free in T&T, but all the information can be accessed on the net at What does it cost to haul or berth a boat in Trinidad, the major yachting center of the southern Caribbean? According to the Directory, berthing ranges from about .25/ft/night when Med-tied at Power Boats or Peakes, to .68/ft/night at the more upscale CrewsInn Hotel and Yachting Center. Hauling a boat ranges from $5 to $6 foot, with a capacity of 200 tons. Laydays are 25 to 55 cents/ft/day.

"Another year has flown by and finds us still in Mooloolaba, Australia," report Don and Lynne Sanders of the Petaluma-based Skookum 53 Eilean. "The environment is so pleasing and relaxing here in Queensland that we just can't seem to move on. In March of last year, we flew to Tasmania and spent three weeks in that island state. Tasmania is now what California was like before World War II - even the climate. After returning to our boat in Oz, we sailed up to the Whitsunday Islands, where we cruised for three months. It was relaxing - except for a serious mechanical breakdown. All the bolts on the propeller shaft coupling had broken one by one. Fortunately, the last bolt broke as we pulled in to Arlie Beach's Able Point Marina. There's a tremendous tour and charter boat business there, so there was a machine shop in the marina. After the repairs, we cruised the islands. We later took a day trip to the Barrier Reef, but were disappointed after the Marquesas and Tuamotus. Perhaps we're jaded or just didn't get to the right spots."

Don and Lynne closed by saying that they were thinking about heading west next cruising season if the political situation improved. However, we also received a quarter page ad for their boat, so perhaps their plans are unclear.

"We were recently in Mazatlan," report Dave and Merry Wallace of the Redwood City-based Amel Maramu 46 Air Ops," where we were paying $24/day for our 46-footer at Marina El Cid. That's not bad, and the monthly rate is even less. Marina Isla Mazatlan also has lots of room, and they now have water at all their docks and a fuel dock." The Wallaces attended Carnaval, which is a big deal in Mazatlan. Dave's cameras failed him when the most bizzare float came along. It featured three-foot long rats on each corner, there was a big coffin in the center, and an Osama bin Laden-like figure was dancing on the coffin. The float would seem to be sending an oddly mixed message, but that's Mexico for you.

"As we write this, we are anchored in the stunningly beautiful Caleta de Campos between Manzanillo and Zihua-tanejo," report the Winship family aboard the Clayton-based Crowther 30 cat Chewbacca. "We left Bahia Santiago on an overnight passage, and had a balmy and pleasant motorsail under a big moon. Luckily, we encountered none of the long lines or nets that are set along this coast. Caleta de Campos is a lovely anchorage - but only when the weather is calm and there is little or no swell. We used two guides - Charlies and Raines - to pick a place to enter and drop the hook, and found their information to be accurate. We dinghied ashore this morning to explore the town, which is a half mile walk up on the bluff. It was Sunday, market day, so the tiendas were full of fresh fruit, veggies, cheese, eggs and all manner of canned goods. And the street was lined with flea market style vendors. Bruce was able to purchase five gallons of gasoline from a man who sold it out of drums from the back of his truck. Diesel was also available at about 10% higher than Pemex. We provisioned with fresh food, had a delicious lunch at a small "economical comida", and returned to Chewbacca before the afternoon winds and surf picked up. We felt very welcomed at Caleta de Campos.

"A few weeks ago," the family continues, "we were anchored at beautiful Tenacatita Bay, which was the 'kid mecca' of the Mexican coast. When we were there, there were 18 kids - ranging in age from 20 months to 19 years - on nine different boats: Amazing Grace, Chewbacca, Dulcinea, Malahia, Silhouette, Sirens Song, Simple Pleasures and Wild Blue. After school activities included surfing, boogie boarding, skim boarding, surf yaking, swimming at the river mouth, fort building and geo excavation on the river bank. There were also family games of tag football, beach volleyball, and the ever popular jungle/mangrove ride. Grown-up activities included sitting under the palapas swapping stories, a kid book and school supply exchange, a Women's Gathering, a Men's Gathering - where they discussed the poetry of Walt Whitman and/or watched the classic video Fast Boats and Beautiful Women - and lots of raftups. The scenery was beautiful, the beach pristine, and cruiser camaraderie high - making for a perfect combination. Chewbacca will now mosey south, however, as Central America beckons."

Quite a few cruisers at Tenacatita remark favorably on the clear water and quantity of fish. Tenacatita is a wonderful place to be sure, with lots to offer, but if you were to compare the water and fish quality with many other places in the South Pacific or Caribbean, it would not rate high. On a scale of 1 to 10, we'd give Tenacatita a 4, while we'd give many places in the Caribbean and South Pacific a 10. We're talking about places that are teeming with dazzlingly colored fish, and where the water seems clearer than vodka. We don't say this to trash anyone's feelings about Tenacatita, but merely to remind folks that when it comes to clear water and plentiful fish, it gets better. Much, much better.

If you're in Mexico, please don't forget the Punta de Mita to Nuevo Vallarta Spinnaker Cup for Charity to be held on Wednesday, March 13. Profligate, Capricorn Cat, the 52-ft cat Little Wing, and several other big boats have promised to participate. Just show up at Punta de Mita about noon with $25, and we'll make sure you get on a boat for the great spinny run back to Paradise Marina. Or, bring your own boat and raise money with her. This event was previously scheduled for March 12, so note the new date.

The next day, Thursday, will be the start of the really big event, the 10th Annual Banderas Bay Regatta. There will be racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and great social events every night, including the big awards ceremony on Sunday night. See you there!

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