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March 2015

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With reports this month from Benevento on the challenges of doing laundry while cruising; from Kiapa on reasons not to hurry to New Zealand and great fun at Musket Cove in Fiji; from Iolani on the anchorages and pleasures of Tenacatita Bay; from Reprieve on being the only boat going north of Puerto Escondido after the Ha-Ha; from Journey on starting their first circumnavigation; on hurricane winners and losers, after Gonzalo; and Cruise Notes.

Benevento — Pacific Seacraft 40
The Massaro Family
The Laundry Problem
(San Francisco)

While on our two-year cruise from San Francisco to Europe, I often think of Crickett, my friend back home. Unlike most of my friends who have concerns about my personal safety, Crickett was more concerned about something more mundane. "What are you going to do about laundry?!" she asked.

Turns out, Crickett was onto something. While it’s not a life-threatening issue — with the possible exception of socks from an 11-year-old boy that have been stewing in the laundry bag for several weeks — it’s definitely one of the important parts of cruising.

Since October 2013, I have used 22 different laundromats — and can visualize every one I've been to. I’ve also done laundry at the houses of three different relatives, and three times I’ve had laundry done for me. Occasionally we have hand-washed select pieces of laundry in buckets or in the sink, but this takes a lot of water, which is precious. We used this technique more in the tropics when it was easier to wash one day’s worth of clothes — a bathing suit — for use the following day.

One quality I’ve come to appreciate is the capacity of different washing machines. Give me a triple-load front-loader that does a wash in 30 minutes combined with a triple-load dryer, and I’m a happy camper. Give me a couple of sets of these puppies and I have gained a day of my life back.

We generally get our laundry done at marinas, which usually have machines you can pay to use. This involves getting the laundry bags off the boat, carrying the bags over to the laundry facility — I rate the slip we have at a marina by its proximity to the bathrooms and laundry — wait for all the laundry to be done, then haul it back to the boat. Occasionally we’ve had to haul laundry to shore in the dinghy in dry bags and haul it over to a nearby laundromat.

It's pretty inexpensive to get laundry done in the United States. Usually you can get a regular load done for $2.50 at the most, and another $2.50 to dry the clothes. That same load will cost you $6.50 per wash and per dry in Europe. No wonder most people in Europe hang their laundry out to dry!

I love nothing better than to have all of our clothes cleaned, dried and put away. I have dreams about my Bosch washer and dryer back home. I get annoyed at that first dirty sock that goes into the laundry bag because I know it will need to be washed, but I never know when my next encounter with a laundry machine will be — or how much it will cost. Because our living space is small, we have no place to hide away the offending laundry bags. They sit on the floor in the forward berth, slowly growing.

The longest we've gone without doing laundry was about five weeks, from Puerto Madera, Mexico to Colon, Panama. We had an opportunity to do laundry in Panama City, Panama before we transited the Canal. However, we were at an anchorage — there are no marinas for visitors — so we would have had to take our laundry in the dinghy. The dinghy dock has to deal with 15-foot tides. This meant we would have had to tie our dinghy up to a floating dock, transfer it over to a wobbly plastic boat, pull ourselves across from the dinghy dock to the steps ashore, and then get the bags up the steps. If the tide was low this meant that the bottom 15 feet of the steps would be wet, mossy and slippery. If we managed all of this, we’d have to hire a taxi to get us to the laundromat, or haul it on the public transportation to the nearest stop, and lug it the rest of the way by foot.

If we managed all of this, we’d have to hope that the wind wouldn’t be too high on the dinghy ride home; otherwise the whole lot would get wet again. So, as you can imagine, we waited to do laundry until we transited the Canal and got into a marina. Once we were at the marina, the locals laughed at me because it took me 11 trips back and forth to get all our laundry done.

As a result of all of this, we — along with most cruisers — tend to wear our clothes more than once. Don’t judge, landlubbers, as you’d do the same thing. Ironically, as I write this I’m sitting in the marina laundromat in Badalona, Spain. One thing I do know is that I won’t complain about doing laundry when we return home. The fact that I can throw in a load whenever I want, without inserting coins or a token, seems pretty luxurious to me at this point.

Most of the photos we post tend to be the more exotic and interesting moments of our travels. We tend to talk less of the more mundane tasks we have to do. But that laundry is always piling up. Crickett — you had some foresight. Go and give your laundry machine a gentle pat and let it know how much you appreciate it.

— jennifer 01/25/2015

Kiapa — M&M 52 Cat
Lionel Bass
Fiji to New Zealand
(Perth, Australia)

As was the case last year, I wanted to depart the tropical warmth of the South Pacific as late in the season as possible. While many cruisers head south to New Zealand as early as mid-October to reduce the chance of getting caught by a tropical cyclone, I wanted to squeeze in just one more surf and/or kite board session. As a result, I didn't head south on November 27.

Since Irene was already back in Perth teaching, I needed crew for the 1,100-mile passage, which always has the potential to be rough. I was lucky, as our experienced cruising friends Graham and Dianne offered to crew for me — after sailing their beloved Maunie from Fiji to New Zealand and then flying back to Fiji.

Suzie from Perth, another friend who has sailed across the Pacific, decided to join us. With four experienced sailors aboard, watch-keeping was going to be easier than normal on Kiapa.

Having spent quite a bit of time with Aussies Kerry and Damian from the Catana 47 Sel Citron, and having a boat that can maintain similar speeds, we decided to buddyboat for the passage to New Zealand. Knowing that help would be right there if the sh-t hit the fan for either of us gave us additional peace of mind.

Clearing out at Customs and Immigration in Fiji was ‘interesting’, to say the least, but after a bit of paperwork hoo-ha, we were off. While the wind strength and sea conditions were never scary, the upwind wind angle meant the first few days were not comfortable. With Kiapa being such a light cat, she seemed to fly out of the water more than I can remember her ever having done before.

The wind forecasts proved to be exactly right for the entire passage, so there were no sudden surprises. Whew! The strongest gust recorded was just 19 knots, with the average being 15 knots. Others have had it a lot worse, with one and sometimes two gales on the way to New Zealand. We averaged about 200 miles a day, so the passage took six days. While the seas might have been a little rough, thanks to a crew from heaven, everything went smoothly socially.

What a welcome we received upon entering New Zealand's Bay of Islands! First we had an albatross fly by, then a huge pod of dolphins escorted us for a while, and then — WOW!! — a pod of orcas swam around us. I was desperate to jump into the water and swim with them, but by the time I had grabbed my goggles and donned my wetsuit, they were too far off. Maybe next time.

With the season over, I got to thinking about the great time we'd had in the South Pacific, perhaps the most fun being at the well known Musket Cove Regatta in Fiji. Boy, was that a bucket load of fun, so I'm including Irene's report:

"The opening night cocktail party started with a sing-off of national anthems. Our Aussie anthem was sung with gusto, but we were trounced by the Fijians! But it was fab to hear anthems from all over the world, including from the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, Germany, the Czech Republic, South Africa and France. More than 80 boats from more than a dozen countries had registered.

Day One featured an all-day Pirate Party, which started with an 8-mile cruise to Beachcomber Resort. The Beachcomber is a resort right out of the brochures for an idyllic tropical paradise. Upon arrival, we had to slug down some rum — to give us courage to walk across burning coals! Then we were then ‘thrown into prison’, where we were ‘tortured’ by having to drink yet more rum! Only then were we free to put foot on the island. After a delicious lunch there was some vigorous limbo dancing — which, with all the rum having been consumed — was quite entertaining.

Before the sun was too low in the sky, we headed back to Musket Cove. Every savvy sailor in Fiji knows to move his/her boat only after 9 a.m. and before 3 p.m. because the many coral reefs are poorly charted.

The following day there was a golf competition, a 'Try-athon', Hobie Cat racing, sand sculpting, and an 'Olympic Games' — including coconut bowling, blindfolded double-kayaking and a tug-of-war. I know it sounds stupid, but you had to be there.

Wednesday was the serious Fiji Water Round Malolo Island Race. Weeks before I had opted not to participate in this, as it was a little too competitive for my liking. So Lionel gathered up a group of guys who were keen to get Kiapa flying along, while we girls retired to the resort’s spa for a morning of pampering.

Because the starting line was in a narrow channel between two reefs, Lionel made the call to "hold back to let the masses go ahead". His decision was vindicated when a 55-ft cat t-boned another big cat — right in front of Kiapa. Scary stuff!

Once again Kiapa did us proud, finishing second in very light winds, which are not her favorite.

What’s a party without a fancy dress? This year the theme was anything beginning with the letter 'M'. Kiapa’s crew went as M&M's, and a very colorful bunch we were indeed! Others came as monsters, the Mafia, Mrs. Doubtfire, Mahatma Ghandi, Freddie Mercury, Moulin Rouge, a mango tree, monks, a magazine, and a group of boat kids dressed as mummies and mermaids. The creativity of all the outfits amazed me. Remember, we only had access to what we had on our boats, as there’s no $2 shop or Spotlight close by.

All too soon the week was over. The anchorage emptied out, with most boats heading west to Vanuatu, and. Our routine on Kiapa returned to normal. What a life!"

So ends Irene's report.

Both Irene and I have fond memories of Punta Mita and Mexico in general. We always tell everyone we would return at the drop of a hat. Of course, we say that about most places that we've cruised to.

Just to prove we still read 'Lectronic, we saw Latitude's recommendation of the Luci solar lights a few weeks ago — and promptly ordered some. They arrived today, so we're going to let them get fired up on some Kiwi sun and try them out tonight.

— lionel 01/15/2015

Iolani — Hughes 48
Sylvia & Barry Stompe
What We Love About Tenacatita Bay

Tenacatita Bay, which is approximately four miles by four miles, and located 122 miles south of Puerto Vallarta and 14 miles north of Barra de Navidad, is one of the places we've liked the most in Mexico. Like all of mainland Mexico that we've been to, the air and water temperatures have been delightfully warm throughout the winter — although I bought a shortie wetsuit on a recent trip home for more extended periods of snorkeling.

Tenacatita Bay is part of the Costa Alegre — Coast of Joy — which extends 158 miles between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo. It's sometimes known as the Virgin Coast to the locals because there are so few people in the area. For example, Highway 200, Mexico's main and only Pacific Coast road, which goes through mountains to 7,000 feet just south of Vallarta, has surprisingly little traffic. Just to keep things confusing, cruisers also refer to this as the 'Gold Coast'.

There are four anchorages in Tenacatita Bay, and each offers a different experience. We first dropped the hook at Playa Tenacatita on the northwest side of the bay, in front of a long, curved beach backed by a recently shuttered boutique hotel. Mexico seems to specialize in empty luxury hotels. There were just a few people enjoying the beach, and no palapas, loud music or all-night discos. We snorkeled at some pinnacle rocks and the popular 'Aquarium', which is a dreamlike coral garden with many kinds of tropical fish. We also found some delicious mature coconuts near the beach. The mature ones are great for snacks and cooking, but hard to find, as the locals usually pick them when they are green.

Our next Tenacatita stop was the Blue Bay anchorage, which is named after the resort at the east end of the beach on the northeast part of the bay. The Blue Bay anchorage is sort of a bay within the north side of Tenacatita Bay, and thus usually the calmest spot. As such, it's the most popular anchorage in the bay, and thus the center of the busy cruiser social life on the Gold Coast. Although there are lots of cruising boats at Blue Bay — we're told there have been as many as 45 some winters — it's not crowded because there is so much room to drop a hook.

There is just one small restaurant, La Vena, on the beach. We enjoyed cold cervezas with fellow cruisers and were told that the camarones empanadas are delicious. At the west end of the half-mile-long beach is a quiet campground, and to the east of the long undeveloped beach is the all-inclusive Blue Bay Resort.

There is no Wi-Fi at this anchorage unless you go into the resort, which is perhaps one reason that cruisers are so social. Nor is there any provisioning.

The Blue Bay anchorage, however, is a wonderful place to enjoy boogie boarding and beginning surfing, bocce ball games on the beach, cruiser group swims from the anchored boats to shore, long beach walks, and the estuary/mangrove dinghy tour. Although access to the Playa Tenacatita end of the 'Jungle Ride' has been blocked, it was still fun to motor into the mangroves with the dinghy and then drift back down with the current. We also enjoyed seeing the protected site of turtle nests. If you're lucky and they're in season, you can watch them hatch.

A highlight of the Blue Bay anchorage is the Friday afternoon 'Mayor's Dinghy Raft-Up'. Robert Gleser, with his wife Virginia, of the Alameda-based Islander Freeport 41 Harmony, has long been the "Mayor of Tenacatita'. The couple have cruised as far south as Ecuador, but like Tenacatita Bay and its winter cruiser community the best.

When folks anchored at the Blue Bay anchorage need to provision, it's just a three-mile trip to La Manzanilla — not to be confused with the big city of Manzanillo, which is 38 miles to the south. Provisioning runs can be done by dinghy, but they are best done early in the morning before the wind comes up at about 11 a.m. If you want to sail over to La Manzanilla, you should wait for the afternoon breeze. Taking your 'big boat' requires anchoring on a lee shore and taking your dinghy through the surf, so it's best to pick a day when the wind isn't too strong and/or the surf is not too big.

Because the onshore breeze usually weakens in the late afternoon, then dies, then goes lightly offshore as the night progresses, it's possible to overnight off La Manzanilla. Although it can be rolly, we have enjoyed some lovely calm nights here, too. But just to be safe, set the alarm on your GPS.

Barry and I have dubbed La Manzanilla, population 2,000, the 'Fairfax of Mexico' because of the hippie vibe similar to that of the Marin County town I grew up in. Although there is no Mega, Costco or Sorianos, we found the provisioning to be good. In addition, there are lots of small palapa restaurants, friendly people selling tacos on the street, and great Wi-Fi. There is music at night, but it's not so loud that you can't sleep.

The thing that La Manzanilla is most famous for, however, is the Crocodile Preserve. Located at the north end of town, it's home to 300 American crocodiles, with some of the reptiles weighing over 1,000 pounds. Like veteran cruisers, crocodiles are very sensitive to the cold.

For 15 pesos — just over $1 — you can stroll the catwalk over the preserve, just a few feet above the crocs' many sharp teeth. Crocs can be perfectly still for very long periods of time, but lightning-fast when it comes to grabbing a fish for dinner. Despite the large size and considerable number of crocs in the Preserve, we were told that except for little tidbits, they catch their own food. They eat fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals. For those who flunked high school biology, humans are mammals, so don't swim in the Preserve.

Tenacatita Bay may be small and lightly populated, but it's home to great cruisers and lots of things for cruisers to do. If we weren't headed across to the South Pacific, we could easily see spending a month or two here. Especially since we haven't yet anchored at Caleta Tamarindo on the south shore of the Bay — another reason to return some day.

— sylvia 02/12/2015

Readers — According to Robert Gleser, the 'Mayorship' of Tenacatita Bay goes back at least three decades. Prior to the Dharma of Mayor of Tenacatita being passed on to Gleser, Don of Windward Luv, now of the Mazatlan-based The Great Wazoo, had been mayor for seven years.

Robert and Virginia have been married for 44 years, during which time they raised eight children. After the last left for college in 2000, they sold their business and headed out the Gate aboard their Islander Freeport 41
Harmony "to cruise in warm climes as long as it was fun". It's still fun.

Except during a three- year hiatus when they cruised to Ecuador, Robert has been presiding over the Friday Mayor's Raft-up each winter season for 11 years.

Virginia is the author of
Harmony on the High Seas, When Your Mate Becomes Your Matey.

Reprieve — Horstman 38 Tri
The Walter Family
After The Ha-Ha
(Channel Islands)

Our apres Ha-Ha three months have probably been a bit different from those of most. We — my wife Cindy, our young daughter Grace, and myself — started off by hitting up the anchorages on the way to La Paz, and spent a few weeks in the anchorage in La Paz.

We then headed north into the Sea. At first it was fairly easy going, and we crossed paths with a number of Ha-Ha boats. That all changed once we got more than 100 miles north of La Paz in the Puerto Escondido area, which was where we saw our last Ha-Ha boat. For that matter, it was the last time we saw any other boat heading north.

The next 200 or so miles told us why nobody else was going north. It was quite the bash. We had to beat into northerly winds that at times hit 30 knots, with 5+ foot waves. Sometimes we made as few as 50 miles in one day.

After two weeks of this and stopping at anchorages almost every night to get relief from the wind and seas, we found a good wind angle to make the crossing to Guaymas. Sailing on a close reach in 20- to 25-knot winds with six-foot seas, we were doing nines and 10s with a reef in the main. It was fun but wet. And we arrived five hours earlier than planned. That meant we had to drop the sails 10 miles offshore so we could wait for daybreak to make our way into the harbor.

We spent the next 40 days hauled out working on the Reprieve. We got a lot of work done — adding a sugar scoop on the transom, painting the top and bottom, putting on new standing rigging, and a lot more.

We just got back in the water about three weeks ago, and have since made our way down the mainland to Mazatlan just in time for Carnaval. We will be leaving here tomorrow for La Cruz.

— nathan 02/15/2015

Journey — Islander Freeport 41
Erik & Elizabeth Ostrander
Playmate On A Circumnavigation
(San Francisco/Florida)

The owner of the San Francisco Sailing (charter) Company, the San Francisco Sailing School and The City Yacht Club, Erik Ostrander figures he’s personally taken tens of thousands of people sailing on San Francisco Bay since 2004. But almost all his sailing has been within the relatively friendly flatwater confines of San Francisco Bay.

The first time he went sailing offshore didn’t turn out so well. It was in 2007, shortly after his Pier 39 charter business had really started to make money. He’d decided to buy an 11-year-old F/P Venezia 42 cat in Grenada in the southern Caribbean, and use her to fulfill his dream of doing a circumnavigation.

"That trip sucked," Erik told Latitude. "I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time, so it was just some dudes and me to deliver the boat 4,000 miles to San Francisco. The trip was really bad after Panama, because it was all upwind, the engines were bad, and there was gunk in the fuel tanks. Sometimes we couldn’t even do a knot and a half. It was my first foray into multihulls and sailing outside the Gate, and I hated them both. I put the cat up for sale the day we came under the Gate. And it would take 18 months to sell her."

Having built a successful charter business from nothing in three years, but having his circumnavigation on a cat dream crushed, Erik drifted into what he describes as "some really dark days." He was so bummed that he started "half-assing" his charter business, something he’d previously put all his energy into.

"Much to my surprise, customers kept showing up even if I didn’t try that hard to get them, and captains showed up and did their jobs without me having to ride them. The business had taken on a life of its own."

Flash forward to just before Christmas in 2012.

"I’d just come out of a five-year relationship," remembers Erik, "and was pretty bummed again. I’d been doing a little womanizing, which as the captain of a charter boat is easy to do. But I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I wanted to get serious with a woman. So when a friend of mine said he’d met this gorgeous 24-year-old redhead who really wanted to learn to sail and to sail around the world, I told him she was too young for me. I was 35 at the time and was looking for a 30-year-old who wanted to settle down."

It turned out that the woman, Elizabeth, and Erik had the same birthday, Pearl Harbor Day. Somehow she ended up at his birthday party and sort of checked him out. They met again a couple of weeks later, at which time Erik says, "She told me everything I’ve ever wanted to hear a woman say."

Specifically: That she wanted to sail around the world. That she wanted to get married and have lots of kids, and sail around the world with them. That she wanted to be a stay at home mom rather than have a career. That she wanted to cook dinner for her husband and kids.

"She was so perfect for me that I thought I was being conned," remembers Erik. "She said the kind of things you don’t hear from most San Francisco women, who want to be treated like a man instead of treating a man like a man. I know a lot of Latitude readers may not share Elizabeth's and my values, but that’s what they are."

Elizabeth, who had married her first boyfriend young, and who had grown tired after five years of modeling in South Africa, Greece and Paris, was as ready for a fresh start as was Erik. So they really hit it off.

"I was supposed to go to L.A. to see my family, so I invited her. Next I took some of my staff to Bali in the offseason, and Elizabeth came along for that, too. In fact, we’ve only spent a few days apart since we first met."

In April 2013 the couple were secretly married at City Hall in San Francisco. After the ceremony they drove to Long Beach to pick up the new-to-them Islander Freeport 41 Journey, the boat they'd bought to sail around the world the following three to five years.

Later that year, on October 26, the couple were publicly married aboard Journey as she lay on the hook at San Francisco’s Aquatic Park. Five days later they took off for Hawaii on the first leg of their circumnavigation. Having done very little offshore sailing, Erik didn’t realize that late October is normally an awful time to sail to Hawaii.

"We had horrible weather the entire way, meaning 40-knot winds and 20-foot seas. Elizabeth handled it really well, in part because she didn’t know what to expect, but also because she grew up surfing and was comfortable with the ocean. But to be honest, I pretty much singlehanded the boat while she did the cooking and cleaning.

"We did all the islands, but it’s rough sailing Hawaiian waters in the winter, and there are very few good anchorages. So when we got a slip at the Ala Wai in Honolulu for the maximum of four months, it was like arriving in heaven. We made a lot of great friends, including a bunch who also would be heading to the South Pacific in the spring."

The couple had brought several years' worth of Playboy magazines from the late 1960s with them, because contrary to the joke, they really do have a lot of great articles. As Elizabeth looked through them, she couldn't help but notice the photos of the women. She decided that she, with her five years of modeling experience, should try to become a Playmate.

Despite having successes such as being on the cover of the Greek version of Vogue, Elizabeth had gotten sick of modeling by age 23. So we asked her what the appeal was of trying to become a Playmate.

"The $25,000 for a weekend shoot was a huge attraction," she admitted. "But doing a Playmate shoot is also the most liberating kind of modeling that a woman can do."
Before anyone snorts, hear her out.

"When you do most modeling, it’s not about you, but the clothes or the shoes or the purse or something else you're featuring. But when you model to be a Playmate, you represent only yourself, and it’s all about you. And I’ll be honest, I’m not the least bit shy or inhibited."

When Erik first met Elizabeth, she’d put on a few pounds following her modeling days, having grown tired of having to starve herself to keep model-thin. But hitting the gym, sailing to Hawaii, and sailing around the Hawaiian Islands quickly shed the pounds.

"There are a lot of beautiful women in Hawaii," says Erik, "but when Elizabeth walked down the street, people would just stop and stare."

During a trip the couple took to Florida, Elizabeth sent a shot of herself to Playboy. Impressed as the people on the streets of Honolulu had been, Playboy told her to come right in for some test shots. The process to become a Playmate involves a series of three test shot sessions and a test Playmate shot. Over time, Elizabeth did them all.

"It’s a really long process," she says, "and in the end Hef has to approve."

Having not heard back from Playboy by spring, Erik and Elizabeth took off doublehanded on the long and mostly upwind passage to French Polynesia. Upwind is not the best point of sail for a Freeport, which is not a pointing machine.

"We were at sea for a solid month bashing into it," recalls Erik, "so we couldn't believe it when we ran out of fuel five miles from Bora Bora. It turns out that one tank is smaller than the other, but I didn’t know which one it was.

"There was a light breeze and flat seas, so we hove to for the night and crashed like only people who have been at sea for a month can crash. We figured we'd sail in, or at least right up to the pass, the following morning."

But by morning it was blowing 35 knots and there were 15-ft seas. Just miles from shelter, it was like torture. "We tried to sail in, but the Freeport just can’t point in that stuff. And every little thing seemed like such a huge deal. Finally, I just couldn't grind the jib in another time.

"We couldn’t get anybody on VHF, or else I would have hired a boat to tow us in," says Erik. "So I considered all our options, even the crazy ones. One thought was to open a thru hull, set the boat on fire, and set off the EPIRB. You know how weird you can get when you’ve been totally exhausted for so long.

"Finally I got on the satphone and called the local number for the Mai Tai YC. Teiva Tapare, the owner, didn’t really want to come out and get us in such rotten weather, but he finally did. It took him six hours to tow us the last two or three miles. I figured he’d want at least $5,000, and I would have been happy to pay it. But he tied us off to a mooring and said, "Welcome to Bora Bora, no charge." We couldn’t believe it!

"As you can imagine, that was the end of sailing for both of us," says Erik. "I figured that I’d ruined our cruise and our dream together, because neither of us was ever going to set foot on a boat again. But we got a little sleep, cleaned up, put on fresh clothes, and went to the Mai Tai YC — where a miracle occurred.

"We had three cocktails, and by the end of the third we realized that we'd doublehanded all the way from California to French Polynesia, that we were in beautiful Bora Bora, and that life was great after all! A whole month of horror was washed away in less than two hours of cocktails.

"We ended up becoming good friends with Teiva, and ended up staying in Bora Bora from September to November — even though you can see all there is at Bora Bora in a day. It’s beautiful, but there’s just not much to do."

During this time the couple was waiting and waiting to hear from Playboy. They finally got fed up and prepared to continue with their circumnavigation the next day by sailing to Tonga. But just before they left, they received word that Elizabeth had been selected to be both the December cover girl and the December 2014 Playmate of the Month. Journey was put in a berth at Bora Bora for the South Pacific cyclone season, and the Ostranders have been home at a house they recently purchased in Florida ever since.

Because Elizabeth was the December Playmate, she's one of 12 candidates to be the 2015 Playmate of the Year, which would mean a $100,000 photo shoot and a new car, plus lots of personal appearance opportunities. If you get this Latitude early enough in March, you can still vote for Elizabeth at the Playboy website, as the deadline isn't until March 5. So hurry.

During our phone conversation, Latitude asked Elizabeth what it is she likes about sailing.

"I love the ocean," she said. "I grew up surfing, so I’ve always felt comfortable with it. I love the colors, the constant changes, and the freedom it represents. I'm inspired by the ocean and I believe in ‘ocean therapy’."

She spoke these words with conviction, not like something she was reading off an index card.

Does Elizabeth really think she would want to have children some day and sail around the world with them?

"Oh yes," she said with certainty.

— latitude/rs 02/19/2015

Post Gonzalo Heartaches
(St. Barth, French West Indies)

It's not hard to remain relatively dispassionate when you see strangers' boats damaged or destroyed by a hurricane. It's a different story if the boatowners are old friends.

So our feelings ran pretty high when we got to St. Barth in early February and learned which of our friends came out winners from October 13th's hurricane Gonzalo, and which came out losers.

To recap, St. Barth was supposed to get hit by 45-knot winds on that October day, but at the last minute Gonzalo not only reached hurricane force, but changed his course so the eye passed directly over the little island. More than 40 boats were destroyed, and a countless number suffered significant cosmetic damage. Many of the boats that were damaged or destroyed had been around for decades.

One of the luckiest boatowners of all was Antonio, who used to be the captain on our Ocean 71 Big O back in the day. His Tartan 41 Moonshadow broke free from her mooring near the entrance to Gustavia Harbor and disappeared. When no wreckage was found in the following days, word was passed along to friends in downwind islands to be on the lookout for her. Moonshadow was spotted undamaged several days later near St. John in the U.S. Virgins.

One salvor was unable to bring her in, but the second was successful. He was paid $4,500 for his efforts, which wasn't too bad a deal since the Port of Gustavia is apparently going to pay Antonio almost that much because the mooring failed. The other thing that made it not a bad deal is that the salvor didn't take either the Rolex watch or the Bulgari watch that Antonio had left aboard in plain view.

But Antonio's luck didn't hold entirely. During Gonzalo he'd been helping someone at their house when, in the darkness, he fell into a basement, breaking five ribs. Ouch.
Our old friends Yoyo and Edith had mixed luck, too. Yoyo was hit in the head when trying to close a shutter at the villa he and Edith manage, and was sent tumbling 10 feet to the ground. He broke his arm in several places and his pelvis. In addition, the couple's 42-ft sloop was destroyed by the hurricane.

"We were actually lucky," said Yoyo, "as we wanted to sell the boat anyway, and we ended up getting a fair insurance settlement."

Latitude readers may remember that the couple had gotten into sailing when the publisher of the American Sidecar magazine in Santa Barbara insisted they sell him the motorcycle and sidecar, they'd ridden across country and were going to ride around the world. Money in hand, the non-sailors walked to the nearby Santa Barbara Yacht Harbor, bought the best boat they could get for the money — an engine-less 26-footer for $6,000 — and taught themselves to sail on the way to French Polynesia. Their son Gael was the first white baby to be born in the Marquesas in 150 years.

A much less fortunate friend was Bartian native Axel, who had kept a Dufour 34 on a mooring just outside the harbor for 24 years, the last 20 of them with no engine in the boat. Apparently the owner of another boat felt he had to cut the mooring line to Axel's boat in order to save his own. As a result, Axel's boat was blown into the cement-lined walls of the small inner harbor by hurricane force winds.

Along with five boats in the inner harbor, her keel had been ripped off and she had sunk. The five boats were gathered up after the storm and set on the Quai Charles de Gaulle. A cement crusher was called in, and reduced them to small debris in a matter of minutes.

"It was very surreal and painful to watch," said one observer.

Michael Jean, a new friend we met doing this report, tells us that he was moderately lucky. Like a lot of workers on this extremely expensive island with almost no workforce housing, Michael lived aboard his 40-ft Pollen with his wife, who works at a grocery store, and two kids.

The Jean family boat was blown from the middle of the outer harbor into the inner harbor, where she smashed ashore and sank in front of the Anglican church. She suffered a number of very large holes, including most of the bow.

"When my kids came down and saw all their little things floating in the water, they were so upset. I told them not to worry. "Daddy would take care of you"."

But it was hard, because Michael didn't have a lot of money, and he had to choose between trying to salvage the boat/family home or try to make money needed to make repairs.

"The Anglican Church was so good to our family," Jean says, "giving us a place to stay for a couple of months and loaning us some money so I could fix the boat instead of having to work. And the local government was good enough to let me raise the boat and place her on the sand next to the Commercial Harbor, where I've been allowed to work on her ever since. I've patched all the holes, and in a month we will sail to La Rochelle — because I never want to expose my family and boat to the possibility of another hurricane."

Jean is a professional sailor, among other things, and wish him the best. But we have to be honest, we're not sure the boat will be ready for sea in just one month.

Two other friends, including former Harbormaster Bruno Greaux, rode out the storm on their boats in the inner harbor. They report that it was wild, with tremendously sloppy conditions and boats bashing into each other.

Pullman, the biggest of the boats in the harbor, was breaking loose, so our friend Tomas said he had no choice but to cut her mooring line before the big powerboat crushed his little boat. Tough decisions like that had to be made frequently.

As mentioned earlier, winds had been forecast at just 45 knots. It turned out to blow hurricane force, with the eye coming right over the harbor.

— latitude/rs 02/15/2015

Cruise Notes:

"We did it!" exulted Greg King. "After 45,443 miles in eight years, three months and 12 days, we have sailed around the world with the Long Beach-based 65-ft schooner Coco Kai. We finished it in 40-knot gusts off Punta Naranga, Panama at 5:30 a.m. Now it's only 2,700 miles home to Long Beach."

The "we" needs to be explained a bit. Coco Kai is owned by Ha-Ha vet Jennifer Sanders of Los Angeles, who has periodically been aboard with her daughter Coco. But it's King who has not only sailed the boat around the world with a variety of different crew, but who did much of the extensive rebuild in Thailand, and has done all of the day-to-day repairs.

For example, having had to push hard to get Coco Kai through the Panama Canal recently, the ancient Perkins diesel overheated. In just one day, King: 1) Removed the water pump, 2) Discovered the shaft was broken, 3) Went to town and got new bearings and seals and had the shaft repaired or replaced, 4) Put the whole shebang back together, and 5) Started up the engine. After an eight-year circumnavigation, you get that good at taking care of problems.

Greg and Jennifer were engaged in late December, so we espect they'll be doing more sailing in the future.

"We sold our Columbia 34 Mk II Ichiban today!" reported joyous San Diegans Justin Jenkins and Anna Wiley from the South Pacific. The couple had paid $2,000 for the boat several years ago, then put a bunch of money and elbow grease into her before sailing directly to the Marquesas. As we remember they took off with just $260 — and an unlimited amount of energy and enthusiasm.

"What an amazing adventure it has been for us, as we look back at all the wonderful friends we have made along the way, all the great places we've been to, and all the great adventures we've had. Our plan is to save up more money to buy a larger — or at least a heavier displacement — boat with a full keel, then do it all over again! But first, after some traveling in New Zealand, we're going to fly home, buy a truck with a camper shell, and most likely head to Alaska to work in construction or the fishing industry to make our boat money. One thing for sure is we don't plan to stay in Southern California anymore — too many people and too many rules.

"But maybe most important, Anna and I are getting married on the courthouse steps as soon as we get back to the States. After that, we're going to throw a big weekend campout rager up the Ortega Highway. We hope Latitude can make it, as your encouraging words have been great, as has been your sharing of our story with others."

The thing we always told Justin is that no matter what happened on their cruise, it was going to be a huge educational experience, and they were going to come out of it much more skilled and wiser. We're sure that's been true.

Latitude's pick for the best sailor's shirt — for on the water, in the water, and on the town — may surprise you. It's Costco's Signature long-sleeve, small- check, cotton, no-iron dress shirt. They come in a couple of bright colors, and if we remember correctly, cost less than $20. We know this sounds ridiculous, but we wear them SUP-ing in the ocean, in the pool, while sailing, and when out for dinner. They feel nice against your skin, really are wrinkle-resistant, and easily make you the most sophisticated looking SUP-er on the ocean. And here is the style shocker. We've gotten about five compliments on the shirts — we've got a red check and a baby blue check — in the last week in St. Barth, where some people think nothing of spending hundreds of dollars on a shirt and thousands on a simple beach outfit. We're even wearing the Kirkland shirts more often than the great Weekender linen shirts we previously bought each year at Budget Marine in Sint Maarten.

"Our Cross 46 trimaran Migration is finally back in the water after an interminable refit in Thailand," report Bruce Balan and his wife Alene Rice, formerly of Palo Alto. The couple have been cruising everywhere from Easter Island to the South Island of New Zealand since doing the 1999 Ha-Ha.

"Do not do a refit in Thailand!" advises Balan. "In fact, don't even think about it. But Migration looks great and should be sailing in a couple of weeks. We're thinking of heading out to India's Andaman Islands before we turn east and figure out the best way to get back to French Polynesia."

"We're now basking in the sun on our way from Brazil to Grenada," report Charlie and Cathy Simon of the Spokane- and Puerto Vallarta-based Taswell 58 Celebrate. The couple are participating in the 15-month, 26,000-mile tradewind World ARC, which started in St. Lucia last January.

"Our Indian Ocean crossing wasn't too bad, South Africa was very interesting, but our crossing of the South Atlantic was too quiet — not enough wind. Other than the fact it's been a long time since we've had convenient Internet, so far, so good."

The couple, who started sailing together 36 years ago on San Francisco Bay, crossed the equator for the second time on February 16, at which time both reached sailing milestones. For Charlie, it was 60,000 sailing miles, while for Cathie it was 50,000.

"Our Dana Point-based Morgan 45 Miss Teak just came out of the Fonatur boatyard in Mazatlan, where Active Marine did some epoxy work on her rudder as well as giving her a bottom job," reports Chip Prather. "I was happy to see my friend Mariam still running the Travelift and overseeing many of the Fonatur activities at the yard. By the way, the yard is very clean, the heads were spotless, and there were lots of boats being worked on.

"I was sorry to see Bob Buchanan's Total Yacht Works disappear," continues Prather, "but I've got to tell you that the men and women of Active Marine have picked up the pieces and know the recipe for success. This is the happiest group of people I've ever met — all have giant smiles and seem very committed to exemplary customer service. My emails of several months ago to set up the work were promptly responded to, and my specific questions were answered clearly. Then they did a great job. And no, nobody asked me to write this recommendation."

"Yesterday we lost Ronald Wolbeek, a good friend and fellow sailor,' read a report on the Bluewater Cruising Facebook page," writes Stephen Lakaschus. "The report said that he was killed at Sao Luis, Brazil while on his boat. Our thoughts go out to his partner Riet Bross. Does Latitude have any details?

The reports we've seen are that Wolbeek got up after the boat's alarm went off, and bumped into two robbers with guns. He was shot several times. His female partner was unable to get him to shore for help immediately, and had to swim in. By the time help reached the boat, Wolbeek had died. Apparently there was a similar incident two years before, the assailants in the previous incident are free — and are suspected of being responsible again. But who knows?

About the last thing that anybody asleep on their anchored-out boat wants to hear at midnight is muffed voices at the transom. But that's what the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca heard at the midnight hour while 'ti Profligate was anchored off Corossol, St. Barth. Not too worried because St. Barth is safe as milk, we nonetheless dashed up on deck and back to the Admiral's Walk to see what was going on. Looking down into the black waters, we saw two young men and two young women, still in their Carnaval outfits, obviously drunk, hanging on to their awash dinghy.

"We're so sorry," the one English speaker kept repeating, "but we've been in the water for 20 minutes and can't bail our dinghy out." As 'ti was the last anchored-out boat before St. Martin, except for the mega yachts, we might have been their last chance. Anyway, we were happy to give them a ride to their boat, which was in the opposite direction of what they thought. Please folks, be careful out there.

"You should always carry a spare prop on your boat that is the opposite 'hand' of the one you normally use," advises circumnavigator David Wegman of the 32-ft Cowbell schooner Afriggin' Queen." I was once delivering a boat across the Atlantic," he explains, "and when we got to the Azores the forward gear in the transmission was out. We still had reverse gear, but continuing 700 miles to Portugal in reverse wasn't going to work so well. So I went to shore and found a left-hand prop, had it modified to fit the shaft, and put it on. We put the boat in reverse, and it motored just fine — forward — the whole 700 miles to Portugal.

"I had a similar problem with the transmission in my own boat about three years ago," continues Wegman, "so I put an oppposite-turning prop on. I've been motoring forward in reverse gear for three years now. I'm not promising that it will work well in all situations, or even work at all on some boats, but it's worth remembering for emergencies."

"I want to say how much I appreciate my husband, Chris, who is so patient with me," writes Heather Tzortzis of the San Francisco-based Lagoon 470 Family Circus. "Everybody who knows me knows that I love to think that I'm able to tinker with all the mechanical things and fix them myself. Well, in trying to be 'helpful', I turned off a water intake to our generator, mistakenly thinking it was the toilet water intake. Then I proceeded to turn on the generator, burning up the genset's impeller. This shut down the genset, which meant we couldn't charge our batteries or make water, both of which are important on a boat with five kids aboard."

"I love this man," Heather continues, "who can look across the table at me while my head is down, thinking I'd just made a $10,000 tinker's mistake, and say. "It's okay, honey. It is what it is. We'll just fix it, so there is no need to worry about it now." He's the most patient, loving man that I know. Now, on to my next brilliant move."

We can't imagine any male sailor reacting any differently, can you?

Actually, Chris tells Latitude that it's unlikely a $10,000 mistake, as there are probably just some impeller bits in the heat exchanger.

"When we arrived in the Sea of Cortez in November last year for our 15th year of cruising, we found that our beloved Mexico weather guru Geary Ritchie of Concepcion Bay had been off the air for at least a month because of equipment failure," report Eric and Merry Dawson of the Morgan Out Island 41 Rhiannon. "We decided that we had to do something, so we started collecting money and boat cards from as many of Geary's fans as we could. Our final port of call before crossing the Sea was Puerto Escondido, so Connie 'Sunlover' was nice enough to provide us with the transportation to Geary's palapa at El Burr Cove, where we surprised him with $900 for new equipment. And the pile of boat cards from his fans. Geary was deeply touched, and profusely thanked everyone.

"Good times!" writes Brian Charette of the Jackson Hole, Wyoming-based 36-ft Cat2Fold folding catamaran. "After having dinner with Marc Wilson of the Catana 52 Bright Wing and Doña de Mallorca, I left the next morning for Cabo Corrientes and south. I rocketed to Chemela in less than 13 hours, with lots of loooong surfs in the 10-15-knot range. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much when I pulled into Chemela.

"Chemela Bay is about 70 miles south of Banderas Bay, and the two couldn't be much more different," Charette continues. "Banderas Bay is 15 miles by about 12 miles, and is home to 250,000 inhabitants in Puerto Vallarta alone, a city that is served by dozens of international flights per day. There are zillions of hotels and restaurants, and it's hopping. Chemela Bay, on the other hand, is about a mile by four miles, and is home to hardly any people at all. And unless you look really hard, you couldn't even find the turnoff to it from the main highway.

"Yet I like Chemela Bay, which is used by most cruisers as a stopping off point for going north or south, just as much as I do Banderas Bay. Unlike most cruisers, I can stay at Chemela Bay for weeks on end. The things that attract me are a surf break that can be absolutely amazing, seven islands to explore, and a really great beach for running and walking. There is also a nearby hotel on the beach that hosts film crews from various countries as they each film their own versions of a reality television show called Paradise Hotel.

"In a cruising world full of — how do I put this gently — 'older folks' — it's been a treat for a younger singlehander such as myself to befriend the group of 20 to 40-year olds at the hotel — and to give them the opportunity to come sailing with me. I've done three trips with Norwegian crews. The first one was nine girls, the second was six guys and four girls, the last one was six girls and two guys. They were all lots of fun because they all had fun."

With the cruising season on full tilt, we'd love to hear from you. It's easy to send us something. Just jot down a short paragraph or two of whatever is on your mind. Don't worry if it's not polished, we've been polishing rough text for nearly 40 years and can do it in our sleep. But don't forget to include a couple of high res photos. Send it all to .

Missing the pictures? See the March 2015 eBook!


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