With reports this months from
Illusion on a final ocean crossing;
from Maverick on the Maldives; from
Scarlett O'Hara on the Agua Verde
Goat Fest; from Theresa II on having
done the Milk Run to New Zealand; from Polly
Brooks on boring Brunei and cool Kuching; from Tranquilo
on surfing mainland Mexico; from Sailor's
Run on last year's Puddle Jump; and Cruise
Illusion - N/A
Jim & Mary Haagenson
English Harbor, Antigua
Once we got to Antigua after crossing the Atlantic from the Cape
Verde Islands, we began to hear a lot of scary stories, so maybe
we had an easy crossing. After all, at the worst we ever had
were two rolly nights when Jim and Mary had trouble sleeping.
Ding and Helen, our crew, did fine.
We left the Cape Verdes in mid-December, and on our first day
underway were escorted by a mob of whales and dolphins, who seemed
delighted that we were making eight knots. When our speed dropped
to five knots, the whales and dolphins left us to chase fish.
In the following days, we saw wind from all directions - in what
should have been a downwind passage - including strong westerlies
on Christmas and the following day! One day we only made 50 miles,
but overall we had no storms or dramatic scenes. We did lose
the use of our transmission due to low oil for the last week,
which meant we had to sail the last 1,000 miles. Then again,
we have a sailboat, and that's what she's supposed to do.
After seeing more whales, dolphins and turtles, the lighthouse
on the south side of Antigua finally came into view - at which
time the trades went light. We spent the last 18 hours coasting
along at two knots and having to sail against a northerly to
enter the harbor. But working as a now well-drilled team, we
tacked again and again through the crowded anchorage to drop
the hook in nearly the most ideal spot. Those who watched were
duly impressed! By the way, once the transmission was topped
off with oil, it started working fine once again.
All during the crossing, I kept praying - as usual - and routinely
asked for nice seas and fair winds. When it didn't seem to always
work out as well as I might have hoped, I would wonder what was
up? Well, when we got to Antigua, we started to hear horrific
stories from other boats that had gotten in just ahead of us.
It was scary to hear about all the disasters! Some boats suffered
substantial damage from high winds and waves; one boat had her
cockpit flooded twice by breaking waves; others had crew washed
overboard only to be saved by their harnesses. In retrospect,
I guess that we'd had it pretty good - and that therefore prayers
really do work!
Antigua is nice, and beautiful like you would expect of a Caribbean
paradise - but it's a bit expensive. Still, we haven't been out
much lately, so we can afford a few treats. We'll be off to the
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area of Florida in a few more days to put
our old girl up for sale. Someone else can have the fun from
- jim & mary
Readers - To get a quantitative idea
of the possible problems with transatlantic crossings, let's
take a look at this year's Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC)
from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia. There were 219 entries
and approximately 1,000 sailors who took an average of 16 days
to cover a cumulative total of 600,000 ocean miles. Thanks to
hurricane Olga, the winds were strong - although not stormy -
at the beginning, which meant there were confused seas for an
unusually long time. Then it went light toward the end. While
crew had their share of adventures, the main dramas were three:
one yacht lost her rudder 250 miles out; one crewmember was evacuated
because of kidney stones; and a French sailor who wasn't a member
of the ARC was rescued after his boat sank in the middle of the
Atlantic. What happened in this year's ARC is naturally no guarantee
of what might happen in future Atlantic crossings, but it sheds
some insight on what might be expected.
Maverick - Ericson 39
Tony Johnson And Terry Shrode
Yankees In Oman
We left Galle, Sri Lanka, on January 25, and had a 3.5-day passage
to the island of Uligan in the Maldives. It was mostly upwind
sailing in moderate wind. Many cruisers choose to call on the
Maldives while enroute from Sri Lanka to Oman, as it's a convenient
and lovely rest stop where fuel and water are available.
The Maldives is an independent country southwest of India that
is comprised of many small island groups that have the geological
structure of atolls, but unlike those in the South Pacific, don't
have a sheltering barrier reef. Uligan, which is the second most
northerly of the Maldives, is not very far from being on a direct
line between Sri Lanka and Oman.
We hadn't given the Maldives much thought, as our stop was going
to be brief, and by now we'd seen enough beautiful tropical islands
to not expect much novelty. But it has turned out to be a memorable
waypoint for two reasons - the island's village and the nature
of fellow cruisers.
The Maldives is a Muslim country of a little over 250,000 people.
The customs, immigration, and other officials who came out to
Maverick to complete the formalities before we could disembark,
were the most professional and courteous we have encountered
since Australia. They were very warm and extended their condolences
for the events of September 11. "Terrorism is a very bad
thing," they told us. As I later found out, this was not
to be confused with the notion that they agree with the way America
has dealt with the World Trade Center event, but was simply meant
to extend their sympathies.
Interestingly enough, the Maldives had an experience in the late
'80s that involved some players that had recently become more
familiar to the crew of Maverick - The Tamil Tigers of
Sri Lanka. The Tigers took over Male, the capital of the Maldives
for one day, and attempted to capture the president. Locals told
me that the two countries most instrumental in repelling the
attack were India and the United States - under the orders from
the elder Bush. So they generally don't have a bad impression
of the United States. But some of them do feel - and they may
have a point - that if France rather than Afghanistan had refused
to turn over a person suspected of a terrorist attack, France
would not have been bombed. This opinion was stated in the most
gentle and reasonable tone, as though from one thoughtful person
to another, without any underlying hostility.
The village on the small island of Uligan is home to 420 people
- but it has no cars or municipal electricity. Some homes had
generators. There are no bars or restaurants. In fact, it was
impossible to buy alcohol - and not very easy to buy food! The
village had a biblical look. The houses are made of bricks cut
from coral and mortar - although some buildings are made of thatched
palm leaves. The streets - the traffic on which is pedestrians,
bicycles and wheelbarrows - are hard sand. Every day the area
around each house is raked and swept by its owner, and each week
the beaches and public spaces are cleaned by everyone. The result
is that it would be hard to find a tidier island in all of the
tropics - that wasn't a resort being kept that way for tourists.
The residents say all the islands of the Maldives are similar
in this respect.
Aside from the cruisers, there are no tourists or tourist facilities
here. To get here, you would have to fly to Male, perhaps take
a ferry to an island to the north, where you would have to hire
a fisherman to take you the rest of the way. Since we had neglected
the outlying islands of Fiji and Vanuatu in a rush to keep up
with our itinerary, this is the most remote place we've been.
Most anchorages are a little more enclosed than this one, as
we're merely in the lee of an island, and it's normally necessary
to douse one's sails before entering them. But here the passes
between the islands are large enough so that it's possible to
sail in and out of the anchorage, and this lends a touch of romance
to the arrivals and departures of the boats - especially when
we see them fade over the horizon.
The sailors aboard the 20 or so cruising boats in the shelter
of Uligan are all on long distance voyages. There are no local
or regional cruisers, and no charter boats on these islands.
Every boat here is going around the world, and there is intense
concern - not to say paranoia - about what we all face in the
near future in the Red Sea. I don't know if this makes for a
special camaraderie or not, but it's interesting to see who these
folks are. The majority of the boats are from five countries:
Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, France, and the United
States. Germany, Holland, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries
are also represented, but the former seafaring powers of Greece,
Italy, and Spain make a cumulatively meagre showing. You'd wait
a long time before seeing a flag from Brazil, Mexico, Japan,
India, or Egypt.
Because we're now closing in on the Red Sea, we're able to get
a rough sense of how many people are currently cruising around
the world. It's not precise, of course, because circumnavigators
start from different places and move at different speeds. Some
folks - such as the Pik's on Mara from the Torres Stait - have
only gotten a quarter of the way around in 17 years, while we
aboard Maverick are on a pretty fast pace.
But here's our calculation. All boats must either go up the Red
Sea or around the Cape of Good Hope, and our guess is that 80%
or more go by way of the Red Sea. Of the boats that go up the
Red Sea, an insignificant number are not going all the way around
the world. There are about 80-120 boats that go up the Red Sea
each year, which means there are 20-30 that go around the Cape
of Good Hope, for a total of 100-150 boats a year. If these boats
average 2.5 crew, something like 250 and 375 people a year are
doing circumnavigations. I should mention that unless the crew
are a nuclear family, it's unusual for more than two people per
boat to make the entire circumnavigation. Additional crew usually
do a leg or two. Perhaps a fifth of the circumnavigators are
Americans, which means 50-75 of your fellow citizens a year are
sailing around the world. In other words, it's not that unusual.
- terry 2/1/02
Readers - Terry is mistaken when he
says "there are no charterboats in these islands".
Sunsail has a base in the Maldives, which are very popular with
the French and others who enjoy sailing and diving.
O'Hara - Serendipity 43
John & Renee Prentice
Agua Verde Goat Fest
This is a 'better late than never' report. Last Thanksgiving,
we were proud to be involved in the First Annual Thanksgiving
Goat Fest at Agua Verde in the Sea of Cortez.
After enjoying a wonderful summer in the Sea of Cortez, we stuck
around for hurricane Juliette - which was less than fun! But
otherwise, the Sea of Cortez weather was very nice this fall,
so many of us cruisers stayed on the Baja side until December.
Buddyboating with friends Les and Diane Sutton aboard Gemini,
we all decided that Agua Verde - a picturesque but remote anchorage
about 90 miles northwest of La Paz - would be our destination
for Thanksgiving. In addition to an anchorage, Agua Verde has
about 300 residents - not including all the goats and pigs.
There is just one small tienda in Agua Verde, and it's only stocked
once a week. As you might expect, it only stocks the basics -
which does not include a butterball turkey. So Les suggested
we have a goat for Thanksgiving. A goat? You go cruising to enjoy
different cruising experiences, so why not? John and Les spent
three days looking for Yayo, the goat man. Unfortunately, it
took three days to find him - only to be told that all of the
village's goats were either pregnant or needed for breeding.
Yayo finally agreed to get us a goat from another rancho.
As Thanksgiving approached, we and Gemini kept inviting
friends to join our Thanksgiving Goat Fest, so it looked as though
there would be 17 boats and as many as 50 people. We kept hoping
that Yayo wouldn't disappoint us. As luck would have it, a shrimper
anchored in the bay and agreed to sell Alouette de Mer,
one of our group, a large amount of shrimp, so we wouldn't starve.
And Yayo finally did show up with the goat.
When the big day came, we selected the beach off the north anchorage
as our dining room. Tables were set up, and soon cruisers bearing
dishes began arriving by dinghy. The pot luck spread included
ham, turkey, chicken, mashed potatoes, yams, cranberries, stuffing,
gravy, breads, pumpkin and pecan pies, cookies and much more!
Perhaps the biggest culinary hit was Maureen Durkin and Riley
Besand's seven kilos of shrimp prepared Cajun style as an appetizer.
It was the most delicious shrimp that most of us had ever tasted!
The goat was slaughtered and prepared carne asada style, as per
our agreement with Yayo. It was better than all right, but less
As our group of cruisers gathered to toast our good fortune and
strong bonds of friendship, the spirit of Thanksgiving was palpable.
We all reflected on how precious life is, and how particularly
beautiful it was in this little part of Baja. The crews from
the following boats participated: Alouette de Mer, Chewbacca,
Desperado, Dream Weaver, Espresso, Fanache, Gemini, Katie Lee,
Mildred, Nintai, Sea Bud, Scarlett O'Hara, Simple Pleasures,
UFO, Wild Spirit, and Wanderlust.
II - Aloha 34
Wolf & Jan Berg
Milk Run Recap
(Campbell River, B.C.)
Our 'puddle jump' from Mexico to the Marquesas was basically
uneventful and took 22 days. There wasn't much wind, so we actually
had to work quite hard to do the passage that quickly. We never
did find the trades - in fact, we're no longer sure they even
The only significant incident is when I burned my leg very badly
with hot coffee and coffee grounds. It was a relatively calm
day, and we were just standing around making coffee. But we were
hit by an odd wave just as I was pouring the boiling water into
the filter, and the pot I was pouring from got knocked over onto
my leg. I suffered second degree burns and a large blister. I
didn't want to break the blister, so I was laid up in the V-berth
for most of the week. Fortunately, the wound has healed well
and there isn't any scaring. It was a good thing that Wolf's
brother was with us, or Wolf would have gotten exhausted from
having to spend a week on watch by himself.
Our favorite stops between Mexico and New Zealand were, with
the favorites first, the Tuamotus, Nuie, Tonga, Huahine, and
Tahaa. The places that we didn't care for were Tahiti, Moorea,
Raiatea, and Bora Bora. The ones I didn't mention were in the
But we are enjoying New Zealand big time - in fact, we love it!
For one thing, the people are so outgoing and friendly. In addition,
the scenery is so amazing that we don't tire of just driving
in the country or being out in the Bay of Islands. Many cruisers
have moved south to Whangarei, Auckland, and Taruranga, but Opua
up here in the Bay of Islands suits us best. It's a very small
community, with just a post office, general store, cruising club,
marina and chandlery, but it is relaxing and there aren't a bunch
of people in condos looking down on you.
We are only five kilometers from Pahia, which is a tourist town,
but nonetheless has the essentials. We're only one hour from
Whangari, which has more than what we need.
Some bits of advice: Some cruisers have the, 'I can get parts
shipped anywhere' attitude. In reality, you can't get parts shipped
anywhere, so they have suffered as a result. Alternators? We
suggest that puddle jumpers bring at least two spares. Speaking
of 'spare parts', bring along as much toilet paper and paper
towels as you can for French Polynesia, as the stuff they have
is of poor quality and expensive.
We also recommend watermakers, as water is hard to find. Based
on our experience, wind generators do not do the job. When it
comes to money and getting it, have a credit on your credit card,
as U.S. and Canadian ATM cards do not work in the South Pacific
until you get to Tonga. I was pulling money out on my MasterCard,
and didn't have to pay the high interest because I had a credit
When dealing with officials, always be polite. Don't hurry them,
and things will get done quicker. Be an ass, and you will suffer!
We're loving New Zealand and plan to be here for another year
before returning to Tonga and Fiji.
- wolf & jan 2/15/'01
Polly Brooks - Islander 37 PH
Kirk & Catherine McGeorge
South China Sea
The island of Pulau Tiga was the setting used in the original
version of the television show Survivor, and CBS had finished
filming just two weeks prior to our arrival last summer. The
show was described as a modern-day Robinson Crusoe adventure
series in which contestants could only bring one tool and would
have to find their own food and build their own shelter. The
supposedly fittest among them would win $1,000,000.
It was also claimed that the island had been "untouched
by humans for centuries." If that was the case, word must
have gotten out quickly, because when we arrived at Pulau Tiga,
we were immediately attacked by tourists on noisy jet skis from
two air-conditioned resorts - which must have been built in record
time. The truth is that Pulau Tiga is only six miles off the
coast of Borneo, and the brochures for the island describe nature
walks, fishing, diving, and helicopter rides. The brochures also
included the newest tourist attraction on that pristine island,
the "ancient stone temple" - made of plastic and styrofoam
- to make the place even more exotic. There was so much noise
and plastic at the anchorage that we left the following day for
40-mile distant Labuan, which is a territory of Malaysia.
We arrived in Victoria Harbor that evening, and took a berth
- our first time since leaving Guam - at the Waterfront Marina.
The first things we did were jump into the pool and take a hot
shower. Then we had a rat come aboard and sample all of our dry
food and juice paks! Finally, we enjoyed a tasty meal with our
friends from the yacht Grey Gull, who had already been
at Labuan for three weeks. The next day we checked in, moved
Polly to a more comfortable and more rat free berth, then
settled in for two weeks of five-star resort living.
Labuan has one of the best and safest harbors in the South China
Sea, so it has a rich maritime history. The duty-free port is
located 10 miles off the coast of Brunei. We found the hospitality
to be excellent, and the food as inexpensive as it was delicious.
The marina manager offered us the use of his welding machine,
which we used to repair and modify our stern railing as well
as to build a chain stripper for our new anchor windlass. The
jobs would have set us back a few hundred bucks in the States.
As usual, we made some great new friends with yachties and oil
tycoons, and stayed up 'til dawn a few times too many. We thoroughly
enjoyed ourselves, and with only hours remaining in our Labuan
adventure, I bagged my first - and only - rat! I thought about
taking the beast to a taxidermist for mounting, but the steel
Chinese trap had nearly chopped the rodent in half!
After two weeks at Labuan, we motored across the narrow straits
to Brunei Darussalam, one of the smallest countries in the world,
and home to the Sultan of Brunei. Not too long ago, the Sultan
was believed to be the richest man in the world. He's still fabulously
wealthy, but as a result in the drop of oil prices, he had to
liquidate some of his wretched excess. The 250,000 residents
of the country, however, still have close to the highest per
capita income in the world. Maintained as a Muslim paradise,
there is no nightlife, no alcohol, and few points of interest
in Brunei. We found it to be as described - "the most boring
city in the world". Nonetheless, it was also more expensive
than we expected.
After motoring up the river, we took an empty mooring at the
Royal Brunei YC. As a rule, I generally avoid any yacht club
whose name begins with the word 'Royal', but the Royal Brunei
was the only suitable facility that was available. The club was
quite nice, complete with a swimming pool, hot showers, repair
facilities, manicured lawns, and an extensive menu. However,
we found the members - and this was before 9/11 - to be very
standoffish. Not one person offered a 'welcome' after we signed
the guest log. The most fun we had was joining a party being
thrown by the visiting Kiwi rugby team, and a later half-hour
river taxi ride through the extensive water village.
During our visit, the Religous Affairs Police conducted a vice
raid, and arrested 14 couples for "adultery" and/or
"close proximity". According to a newspaper story,
one guy was a "member of a uniformed organization and was
not charged because he was with a transvestite!" The Borneo
Bulletin article concluded that "67 Religious Enforcement
officers and 14 police officers had gone undercover at several
popular beach parking areas, and had been instructed to prevent
the rising vice in the country. And they said Brunei was boring!
The official check-in process of dealing with customs, immigration
and port officials was such a snafu, that we decided to leave
three days later without bothering to check out. Brunei - I'd
give it a miss. But if you do go there and wish to get in close
proximity with another man's wife, do yourself a favor and make
sure that she's a tranny!
Having had our fill of Brunei, we plotted a course to 380-mile
distant Sarawak, the western-most Malay state in Borneo. The
passage took us through a hundred miles of oil fields, and the
night horizon was ablaze with the lights and burning flare booms
from countless offshore installations - which made for some dicey
navigation. This was where our new radar paid for itself, because
many of the platforms were uncharted and unlit. Before getting
the radar, I would have plotted a course to take us completely
outside of hazards such as this, adding many extra miles and
hours to the passage.
After an uneventful passage of exactly 70 hours - including a
fantastic day of sailing - we motored a few miles up from the
mouth of the Santubong River and dropped the hook beneath the
towering pinnacle of Mt. Sontubong. The next morning we dinghied
ashore and hitched a ride in a dump truck into Kuching, the capital
of Sarawak, 10 miles inland near the junction of the Santubong
and Sarawak Rivers.
Kuching is, without a doubt, among the most pleasant and interesting
cities that I've visited in Southeast Asia - if not the world.
It has a rich and colorful history that includes Malay pirates,
Chinese slave traders, gold, opium wars, tigers, crocodiles,
and headhunters. The region was 'civilized' around 1840 with
the arrival of Capt. James Brooke, a wealthy British adventurer
who commanded the schooner Royalist - the largest vessel
armed with the largest cannon the pirates had ever faced. Brooke
quickly brought order to the region, and as a reward, the then
Sultan of Brunei declared Brooke to be the Rajah of Sarawak.
The region was the personal kingdom of the Brooke family 'White
Rajahs' until the Japanese invaded near the start of World War
II. Kuching is one of the few cities in Borneo that was untouched
by the ravages of war, and it retains many old buildings, forts,
and old world charm.
The Kuching region is as interesting as Brunei is boring, as
the area has an abundance of museums, parks, exotic wildlife,
diverse cultures, and nice people. The first thing we did was
visit one of the tourist information centers, which made us aware
of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for orangutans, monkeys,
hornbills, and honey bears, which have been either orphaned or
kept illegally by locals. Arriving just before feeding time,
we were able to get so close to the semi-wild orangutans that
we were literally eye to eye with each other.
One female and her daughter took such a liking to me that they
kept smelling my hand and lightly chewing on my fingers. When
it was time to go, she and her baby accompanied Cath and me all
the way back to the parking lot, often holding our hands. None
of the other orangutans took interest in any of the other visitors
to the park that afternoon, and I reckoned the reason she felt
so at ease with me was my long whiskers. But Cath was quick to
point out the fact that I hadn't had a proper shower in the four
days since leaving Brunei, and perhaps the orangutan was experiencing
an olfactory attraction, perhaps thinking I was a long lost cousin.
Nonetheless, it was a touching moment.
We were so impressed with the city of Kuching, that we decided
to weigh anchor and backtrack 52 miles and try to bring Polly
Brooks up the Sarawak River and into the heart of the city.
We'd heard that there had been extensive changes made to the
river recently, and weren't sure if we could make it all the
way upstream to the city, but we were determined to try. We ultimately
made it, having to transit a barrage lock, ducking beneath a
low bridge, picking our way through an even lower bridge construction
site, and navigating the final few miles upriver in darkness.
Once again, our radar was an enormous help in getting us all
the way up to a floating dock in the heart of the city.
The dock was situated on a manicured, riverfront park, so there
was a constant flow of locals and tourists strolling by. They
were as curious about us as we were about them. We were asked
a hundred questions a thousand times. "You come on that
boat from America? Just you two? How many days?" I told
them that it had taken us seven years, which naturally seemed
to confuse them. But the locals were as nice as could be, and
we quickly acquired many new friends - who brought gifts of spices,
coffee, woven baskets, ceramic pieces, and drinks! Kuching is
one of those kinds of ports in which the only way to get rest
is to put to sea.
We shared the floating dock with Capt. Harry Heckel, Jr. of Virginia,
who we'd met on our way up the river to Kuching. We'd noticed
him struggling with his oars trying to row his inflatable upcurrent
to his boat, so we positioned Polly in his path. When
we offered him a tow, he readily accepted, instantly putting
down his oars, picking up a cold beer, and putting on a big smile!
The following day, we joined Harry in town for lunch, during
which time we learned what a piece of work he really is. Despite
being 84-years old, the retired research chemist from Virginia
is a hell on wheels who is in the midst of his second solo circumnavigation
aboard Idle Queen, his 32-ft Tahiti sloop. He's a real
pleasure to be around, but hard to keep up with when he's after
ice cream! What a gem of a man and an accomplished sailor! While
in Kuching, the three of us masqueraded as guests of the Hilton
and Holiday Inn in order to gain daily access to the swimming
pools and showers.
We also caught the first lines from Simon and Nicola, a proper
British couple sailing in from Hong Kong aboard Tootsie II.
A get-together that night on their boat lasted well into the
early morning hours. We drank so much scotch that I must admit
the last shot had me making a run for the lifelines! Such is
life in a popular cruising port.
We enjoyed life to the fullest for more than two weeks in Kuching,
and could have easily come up with a few more boat projects in
order to stay longer. But with the dock space $45 a week, we
decided to continue west. Our now dear friend Harry was there
to cast off our lines and bid us a fond farewell. Since Harry
is eastabout this time, it's sad to know that it's unlikely we'll
ever see him again.
We departed the Kuching waterfront with the afternoon tide on
July 10 with our newest crewmember, Cindy, an adventuresome American
who had never been sailing before. Nonetheless, she was eager
to sail into the sunset with us, heading 400 miles to Singapore.
As we left, we couldn't help but reflect on what a wonderful
2.5 month adventure we'd had in Borneo, a beautiful place with
a rich history and culture. We hope to return some day.
- kirk & cathy 8/10/'01
Tranquilo - Vanguard 32
Neil & Debra McQueen
San Blas To Z-Town
For the last three months, we've been enjoying the cruising between
San Blas, which is about 70 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, and
Z-town, which is about 400 miles south of P.V.
As was the case last season, we had a great time in San Blas
and stayed more than twice as long as we'd intended. I've got
the scars from jejene bites to prove it, too. I got to spend
a lot of time with my Scottish friend Rachel, who is married
to Chuy Primitivo, a local San Blas surfer. They are the parents
of two adorable and fast-growing daughters.
We met this terrific family purely by accident a year ago, when
we made our first trip into San Blas via taxi from nearby Matanchen
Bay. Neil was reminiscing with Hector, the cab driver, about
his many prior visits to this wonderful place, and at some point
mentioned that he had befriended a surfista nicknamed Chuy many
years before. Hearing this, Hector asked a vendor in the zocalo about Chuy's whereabouts, then drove us right to his house.
When Chuy came outside, he suspiciously looked into the cab at
us gringos, while Hector explained why he'd brought us there.
After Chuy and Neil had looked at each other, asked each other
a few questions, and scratched their chins, they were certain
they'd met before - but didn't really recognize each other. The
question was finally settled when Neil asked if he'd ever worked
at Juan de Platano, the banana bread baker in town. Chuy smiled
and shook his head. No, it hadn't been him. But he still invited
us into his house for something to drink. That's how we became
Nowadays, Chuy and Rachel have a rad ramada on the main beach
in San Blas, called Stoner's Beach Café. It is right in
front of the beach break, where Rachel and I surfed glassy waves
one rainy afternoon, while Neil helped entertain little Sophie
and Georgina under the palapa at Stoner's. The food is also delicious
and inexpensive at their place, and since they cater to international
travellers, there are always interesting people around.
We also attended the festival of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe,
a celebration of Mexico's ubiquitous patron. The Virgin of Guadalupe
bears a striking resemblance to Mother Mary, and after she appeared
to an indigenous man named Juan Diego almost 500 years ago, it
almost singlehandedly clinched the Catholic faith in Mexico.
The Virgin is celebrated in a big way in San Blas, with a week
of activities, parades, dancing, music, and mayhem. Late on the
afternoon of December 12, a hundred women gathered - with a few
of their husbands and all of their children - at the arched entrance
to San Blas. Each family carried its own statue of the Virgin;
some were small and others were big, and some were mounted on
elaborately decorated stands. Little boys were dressed as Juan
Diego, little girls as native maidens or in white communion dresses.
They marched the five blocks to the plaza and sang songs in beautifully
harmonious voices. When they got to the cathedral, they lined
up to be blessed with holy water by the priest. Then they moved
into the church for evening Mass.
The emotional experience was capped off at 10 p.m. that evening.
For many hours - and perhaps days - a multi-story maze of bamboo,
sticks, wires, and fuses had been under construction in the town
square. At the appointed hour, this castillo was propped up and
its fuses lit. What followed was a pyrotechnic display that would
be banned anywhere in the United States, a display that thrilled
and terrified the assembled masses in a decidedly spiritual way.
The ultimate firework - at the very top of the castillo - featured
a spinning, fuschia-colored Virgin and lime green crucifix that
exploded in a wild riot of white, blinding light. A corona then
shot off the top of the castillo and spiraled like a space pod
over the plaza, disappearing into a distant neighborhood! Lots
of screaming children ran after it. The experience made me appreciate
the Virgin of Guadalupe in a whole new, ahem, light.
It was also in San Blas that we reconnected with Jason and Nicole,
a couple who sailed south from Sitka, Alaska, aboard the 26-ft
Bristol Channel Cutter Baggywrinkle, a wooden boat we'd
admired the year before. Their traditionally-rigged gaffer with
tanbark sails has a beautifully varnished nine-foot bowsprit
and a handsome little house. She looks like a small version of
a 19th century tallship, and is a visual treat to sail alongside.
Since we share a mutual quest for good waves, a quest that will
take us to Central America next, it's fun for us to hang out
After scoring some great waves in Banderas Bay after New Years,
we started making our way south. We spent a couple of weeks in
popular Tenacatita Bay, although there were only 10 boats when
we arrived. When we left, there were over 40 boats! We didn't
find any surf to speak of between Cabo Corrientes and Manzanillo,
but after leaving Bahia de Santiago, our luck took a turn for
the better. We scored waves in unlikely places that nobody seemed
to know about, and for that reason we're bound by the Surfer
Code - don't tell anyone about secret spots. Diehard surfers
with sailboats will find these places, on that you can rely.
Nobody else needs to know about them, because the anchorages
are so rolly that it's nearly impossible to sleep - even with
Ultimately, we made it to one of Neil's favorite cobblestone
points, Rio Nexpa. Thanks to a fresh offshore breeze, we and
Baggywrinkle sailed right up to the break and dropped
out picks. Rio Nexpa is no secret. Ai caramaba - there were 30
surfers in the water from North America, Europe, Australia, Japan,
and Mexico! The waves marched toward shore, head-high, with perfect
shape. When we paddled over, the vibe was surprisingly friendly,
in part because the surfers had been awed by our rather showy
arrival. We'd feared they would be a little hostile, seeing that
we hadn't had to brave the gnarly shorepound to get out into
I, Debra, rode the biggest left I have ever ridden - and lived
to tell about it! Normally, I favor mushy waves better suited
for longboards. By noon, the crowd had cleared out, but the waves
were still glassy, so Neil and Jason stayed in the water until
their arms were like noodles. For a few nights, we anchored in
Caleta de Campos, where a major military presence - muscular
dudes, in green, armed with machine guns lining the beach. The
evening offshore breeze brought the smell of burning grass that
reminded us that, yes, this was Michoacan. So we were on our
From Caleta de Campos, we more or less drifted in light air down
towards Zihuatanejo, where we have been hanging out for most
of February. Surfing friends from Oregon flew down for a week,
and we surfed our brains out at Playa Linda. This 'pretty beach'
lined with palm trees and littered with coconuts, features some
fairly consistent and excellent waves. There's a fun, shoulder-high,
cobblestone right slide, with a slightly faster left down the
beach a ways. There's something for everyone, and the 75+ degree
water makes it easy to stay out for hours at a time. Cabs from
Bahia de Zihuatanejo are cheap, or you can anchor your boat at
Isla Grande, just seven miles north of the bay, and dinghy over
to the line-up. Even with Playa Linda being popular and often
crowded, I was able to find a nice mushy peak all to myself a
couple of times a week!
Tomorrow we start our southern migration, aiming to cross the
Gulf of Tehuantepec in late March. Centroamerica, here we come!
- debra 3/2/'02
Run - Baba 40 Ketch
Jeff & Debbie Hartjoy
Last Year's Puddle Jump
After 25 days of doublehanding, I tugged at the genoa sheet more
out of instinct than conscious thought. I was tired and weary,
a feeling that starts to grip you after a week or more at sea.
Then off the starboard bow I suddenly spotted a dark and rugged
mass emerging on the horizon. "Land ho!" I yelled,
suddenly understanding the true meaning of those words. Debbie
joined me on deck, and we both stood there staring, tears welling
up in our eyes, the scent of hibiscus beginning to reach us.
Yes, we had made the 2,800 miles - never once resorting to the
engine for power. Our passage had been slower than expected,
but we'd never felt threatened or in danger. And, we had stretched
our personal limits for living in a confined space 24/7.
It was April 10 of last year that the anchor chain on Sailor's
Run rattled to the bottom of Atuona Bay at Hiva Oa in the
Marquesas. We rested a full day before making the 1.5-mile hike
on the quaint road into town. Many of the friendly locals offered
us rides, but we needed to stretch our sea legs.
Checking in at the gendarmiere was a pleasant experience. When
the gendarmes later saw us walking with groceries in hand, they
gave us a ride back to our dinghy. You immediately feel the warmth
of the Polynesians. It may be their smile, or possibly the patience
they exhibit as you attempt to communicate, but it's there.
The climate was a near perfect 80 degrees, there was ample water
and fruit on the island, and plenty of fish from the sea. As
long as you're not a heavy drinker, the good life doesn't cost
much in the Marquesas. The lifestyle is slow and easy there,
as are the Polynesians.
The Marquesas Islands offered many rugged, lush mountain vistas,
but Debbie and I agree that Fatu Hiva is the most beautiful.
One day we hiked to a beautiful waterfall on the island - with
a dozen local children leading the way. As we hiked along, the
kids would offer us various fruits they foraged along the way.
Once at the waterfall, I treated the kids to a dive, the likes
of which they had never seen before and most likely will never
have the desire to duplicate. It knocked the crap out of me.
Nuka Hiva was the last island in the Marquesas that we visited,
and it warrants at least a month's visit. The size and strength
of the Marquesans was never more apparent than there. While at
Daniel's Bay, we traded line off the boat for fruit in order
to be adequately provisioned for our time in the Tuamotus.
While at Daniel's Bay, we made the beautiful hike to the waterfalls
- but were caught off guard by a heavy downpour around noon.
The rain made both the trail and the falls very dangerous, as
loose rocks began tumbling 2,000 feet down the steep mountains.
It was frightening listening to the numerous boulders, some of
them two feet in diameter, tumble down. Debbie was panic-stricken
as plummeting rocks landed within a few feet of me. We beat a
hasty retreat down the trail, listening for falling rocks before
negotiating the more perilous portions of the trail. Once into
the lower valley, we were somewhat shocked to find ourselves
wading in knee-deep streams where there had been a trail only
hours before. Once safely back in our dinghy, we decided that
all our future waterfall trips would be undertaken during dry
and stable weather.
Our 500-mile passage to Raroia in the Tuamotus was by the less
travelled easterly route. We had several days of southeast trades
at 25 knots, meaning we had to sail close hauled. But Raroia
turned out to be a treasured stop for us in the Tuamotus. It
was here that we obtained our first pearls from Gills and his
Makemo Atoll, a short overnight sail, was our next stop. After
securing much needed fuel and some provisions, we were pinned
down with 25 to 35-knot winds creating five foot waves. Makemo
has a lot of nice beaches and good diving, but we chose to move
on to the less visited Faaite Atoll. We spent a few days at the
village just inside the pass, where Debbie was given the gift
of a near perfect blue green pearl. It was later appraised at
a jewelry shop in Papeete as being worth over $2,000!
After taking greater protection on the east side of the atoll,
we learned about a bizarre incident that had happened here only
10 years before. It seems two missionaries came from Papeete,
and before long it was determined that one individual there was
possessed by an evil demon. The person was bound and burned alive.
Over a period of days or weeks, a total of six 'possessed' residents
perished in flames. Although the French officials were notified,
it was two months before they showed up. Eventually, they took
several people into custody.
Debbie found a great deal of solitude and pristine beaches on
the east side of the atoll. We were later joined by our friends
Dennis and Tina aboard Alii Kai. Together we befriended
another Gills and his family, who owned and operated a small
pearl farm here. Gills and his wife Anne Lisse invited us to
lunch, and later Gills and others demonstrated their skill at
throwing spears. We watched in awe as they threw the spears 75
yards with such accuracy that they would either stick, or nearly
stick, coconuts placed atop 30-foot poles. Not wanting to be
outdone, Dennis and I tried our hands at spear throwing. We could
just barely make the base of the pole with our best throws, a
far cry from sticking the coconut at the top of the tall pole.
That night Gills and two of his workers invited Dennis and I
out for a lobster hunt on a reef on the ocean side of the atoll.
Using our flashlights, Dennis and I stumbled along the uneven
surface of the reef, catching only one lobster. Our friends,
who could scurry along the reef, caught 23! They laughed when
we compared catches, but agreed they would share the catch.
It was a moonless night as we worked our way back along the beach
on the lagoon side of the atoll, and eventually had to cross
a cut in the reef that meant wading into chest high water.
Suddenly, the seven village dogs started raising a fuss, and
took off crashing through the brush towards the interior of the
island. Gills told Dennis and I that we might have pig as well
as lobster the next day. Indeed, the locals charged off through
the brush, hot on the dogs' trail, while Dennis and I laughed
as we tried to keep up with Gills rushing through the brush.
After about 15 minutes, we reached the scene where the dogs had
trapped the boar in some heavy brush. Dennis and I looked at
each other in utter amazement, as this was just way too cool.
Leon, Gills brother, came running up from a nearby village, and
began chopping down four trees about three inches in diameter.
He then hacked the ends of two of them into sharp points for
spears. Machetes were lashed to the ends of the other two. Then
Gills and Leon climbed atop the brush, looking for a spot above
the boar from which to spear him. Dennis and I lay on our bellies,
trying to inch in closer with our lights so we could see the
boar. Gills cautioned us that a boar is very dangerous and could
do much damage with his tusks.
The mosquitoes were out in force, so Dennis and I were getting
eaten up, but for some reason it didn't seem important. We finally
saw the boar as it charged the dogs. Wow, were we shocked at
its size. Gills estimated that he weighed over 350 pounds! The
boar had gotten to within 20 feet of us, at which time we backed
It had been two hours, and the tiring dogs were dropping back
to our position for words of encouragement - and no doubt wondering
when we were going to kill the boar. Several of the dogs limped
and/or had blood running from severe gouges in their coats. After
one of the charges by the boar, the tired dogs were sluggish
getting back to the attack - at which point Gills began to holler
at them. They wearily began to respond, at which time it was
discovered that the boar had given them the slip! Yes, after
two hours the boar had escaped. We were not disappointed, for
it had been a real adventure. Our adrenaline was still on high
as we clawed our way back to the beach.
The locals had been impressed by the boar's size, and were sure
they would get him the next time. As we enjoyed our lobster feast
the next day, I couldn't help but admire the gallantry shown
by the dogs, who were still tired and licking their wounds.
Our allotted time in the Tuamotus passed rapidly, and we were
soon on our way to Papeete, Tahiti. During the passage, we decided
to sink an empty Kahlua bottle. As it got about 30 feet down,
a six-foot long white shark appeared out of nowhere and grabbed
it with his mouth! He then spit it out. Debbie and I didn't feel
like a swim just then. When we arrived in Papeete - just in time
for the three-week Heiva Festival - we were informed that this
particular open ocean shark is a man-eater and should be avoided.
Not all cruisers like Papeete, but Debbie and I found the people
to be beautiful and fun. Sailors Run was stern-tied to
the shore in Papeete Harbor, right in front of hundreds of outrigger
canoes. We were pleasantly surprised to be invited aboard a chase
boat for one of the more popular girl's teams. The hospitality
was great and the beers were literally flying. The girls raced
out of the harbor to Point Venus and back, a distance of over
20 miles that they covered in slightly over two hours. The race
was exciting and the girls put out an incredible effort the entire
We explored many beautiful places through out The Society Islands.
Everyone says that the grass always appears greener on the other
side of the fence. Well, here in French Polynesia, it looks as
though it might raise hell with the lawn mower!
Debbie and I are presently anchored in the lagoon at Fanning
Island, Kiribati. We plan to spend the hurricane season in the
Kiribati Islands before sailing to American Samoa in early May,
where we will leave the boat so we can return to the States to
visit family and friends. We would like to thank Latitude
38 for their support of the Puddle Jumpers get-together in
Puerto Vallarta. We found that the group had a wealth of information
to offer, and was a great help in preparing such a diverse group
of sailors for the long and interesting passage to and through
- jeff & debbie l/l/02
Jeff and Debbie - Tired and weary after
a week at sea? We suspect it's from sailing shorthanded, and
wouldn't happen if you had more crew. For example, when we sailed
Big O across the Atlantic, the
first two days featured the normal problems of acclimatizing,
but after that it just got better and better. By the time we
reached the Caribbean 16 days later, we all wished we could have
continued on to Panama and the South Pacific. Naturally, there
are drawbacks to additional crew, particularly on smaller boats.
"While at anchor on the north side of Coronado Island on
February 9, we were surprised by a sudden Norther," reports
Alex Malaccorto of the Northern California-based Beneteau First
42 Rocinante. "In a few minutes, we found ourselves
being pushed toward a lee shore by six foot waves. In the process
of trying to raise the anchor quickly, I nearly had my little
finger severed by the gypsy. With my finger wrapped in paper
towels, I was able to get the hook up. As my wife drove the boat
toward port, I contacted the Loreto Port Captain on VHF and asked
if he could arrange for a panga to take me to Loreto for treatment.
By this time, the Norther was fully developed and gusting to
40 knots. Twenty minutes after my call, the Loreto rescue boat
was alongside, so I was in the Loreto Clinic's emergency room
within an hour of the accident. After suturing, Tetanus shots,
splinting, prescriptions for antibiotics, and follow up paperwork
for the hospital at Constitucion, I was presented with a bill
for 60 pesos - about $7 U.S! I made a more appropriate donation
to the hospital. As for the Port Captain, he refused any compensation.
Nor did he ask that I check in or out of Loreto. After all my
years in Baja, I have nothing but praise for the port captains
and the Mexican medical system - and now I owe the little finger
on my left hand to both of them!"
Another cruising couple who have really taken to the people of
Mexico are John Decker and Lillian Conrad of the Northern California-based
Mason 43 Windraker. "My wife and I had no idea how
much we'd come to love it," says John. "We've travelled
all over the world - Europe, Nepal, India, and countless other
places - and nowhere have we found the people to be as genuinely
friendly as the Mexicans in the non-tourist areas. They are wonderful.
We know that the sailing and clear waters in the Caribbean are
great, but on one island the people are friendly, and on the
next they are surly, mean, and unpleasant. So rather than continuing
on this year, we'll be heading up into the Sea of Cortez, leaving
the boat for the hottest summer months, and then returning for
another winter season in Mexico. By the way, we took an intensive
Spanish class up in Cuernavaca - a fantastic experience all around
that we highly recommend."
(Our apologies to John - who took second in division in the Banderas
Bay Regatta - and others for not being able to take their photos
because our camera had run desperately low on juice. We walked
halfway to 'Tepic' to try to find you on your boat the next day,
but struck out each time. Next year!)
"We're headed up to the Sea of Cortez for the summer,"
report Jimmie Zinn and Jane Hanawalt aboard Dry Martini,
"and we're trying to contact Bill Peacock, who used to work
at Richmond Boat Works. As far as we're concerned, he's the best
diesel mechanic on the West Coast, and he has intimate knowledge
of our good old Perkins. If anyone knows where he is or how to
reach him, please have him contact us . It would mean a lot to us." Normally
we wouldn't be able to do something like this, but Jimmie and
Jane were instrumental in the Zihua Fest that raised so much
money for the school that serves children from five impoverished
Lots of folks - not just the crews of Windraker and
Dry Martini - are heading into the Sea of Cortez for the
summer. If you're adventurous and don't mind solitary cruising,
Guy and Deborah Bunting of the Vista-based M&M 46 Èlan,
who have spent three summers in the Sea, recommend Gonzaga Bay,
which is way north between Bahia del Los Angeles and San Felipe.
"It's fantastic," says Guy, "but you have to watch
out during the periods of 22-foot tides, as islands suddenly
appear out of nowhere at low tide."
In addition to being spectacularly beautiful and having fabulous
sealife, it's easy to live on very little money in the Sea of
Cortez. For example, in the four-month period from August through
November of last year, Guy and Deborah spent a grand total of
$801 for the two of them - and we're talking about living and
dining in fine style. Just try surviving in the United States
on $100/person/month. We'll have more on the Bunting's good but
thrifty life in the next issue.
"Our otherwise delightful days in San Blas were marred by
getting conned by an American girl," report Mike and Lee
Brown of the Seattle-based Little Harbor 53 Wings. "I,
Lee, was sitting in the zocalo waiting for the others in our
group, when a hysterical young - 28 to 30 - American woman came
up to me crying. She said that she was sorry to bother me, but
I was the only other American around, and that her purse had
been stolen. She'd wired home for funds, but the Western Union
office - is there even a Western Union these days? - was closed,
and now she didn't even have the 10 pesos she needed to get back
to the village where she had a room and all her stuff. She seemed
a bit stupid but sincere, and was convincingly red-faced and
hysterical. I told her to find Norm Goldie, the local cruiser
support guy and the self-appointed Chamber of Commerce for San
Blas - he would certainly find her a room until Western Union
opened in the morning. She walked off in the direction of Norm's
when my husband Mike and the crews of The Great Escape and
Red Sky returned. When I told them her story, they collected
100 pesos - not 10 - among themselves and told me to give them
to the girl. So I trotted down the street and gave her the money."
"No good deed goes unpunished," Lee continues, "because
on the cruisers' net the next morning, Norm Goldie reported that
a pathetic American girl had come sobbing to his door the night
before, saying that we'd sent her - and that he had given her
100 pesos also! This was right after we'd left her at the bus
station. How about them apples? I wonder how many times she asked
for 10 pesos and got 100? I just want to alert others to this
kind of con. The rest of San Blas was just great, as the jungle
tour is better than anything that Disney could come up with.
By the way, having a guide and going in his panga is the best
way to do it. Our Sunday afternoon meal in the fish palapa was
delicious, and we had a heart-warming time watching all the Mexican
families - who are so close - play on the beach. So don't avoid
San Blas, just beware."
"Fiji has great cruising," report Glenn and Glenna
Owens of the Sacramento-based 46-ft wood cutter Califia,
which is currently at Vuda Point Marina in Fiji. "The prices
here are similar to Mexico, and you can have your boat hauled
at a reasonable price. Air travel is inexpensive. It's very hot
and humid here from December through March, but there are unlimited
anchorages, and they are mostly empty because everyone goes to
New Zealand to avoid hurricanes. There is great diving and snorkeling.
The people are friendly and the authorities are relatively easy
to get along with. We'll be here for one more year."
Now that's something unusual - a wood cruising boat in the South
Pacific. We'd love to hear from more of you folks cruising on
"The Panama Canal is changing the game a bit," reports
Craig Owings, Commodore of the Pedro Miguel Boat Club and skipper
of the CSY 44 Pogo II. "If a yacht took two days
to do a Canal transit in the old days, she was charged a standard
transit fee. If she broke down, a "pilot delay fee"
was assessed. But now the Canal Commission has enacted a rule
that a yacht must complete her transit in one day or be subject
to the "pilot delay fee" - currently $440 for small
boats with a Canal advisor aboard, and $2,250 for yachts valued
over $1 million, which have a Canal pilot aboard. Please visit
the Pedro Miguel Boat Club website to learn more about the issues
and implementation. As always the Pedro Miguel BC will remain
the yachties' voice at the Panama Canal, crying in the night
for fair prices and treatment of yachts that use the Canal."
When Big O went through the Canal a couple of times in
the mid-'90s, small vessels were virtually prohibited from doing
a transit in one day. Big O was only able to do so one
time, and only then because our captain, the Basque wild man
Antonio dos Muertos, refused the Canal's orders to return to
Lake Gatun. Antonio, bold as they come, had a way with Canal
officials. When we'd earlier accompanied him to the administration
office in Colon to take care of paperwork, he said 'hello' to
several of the officials. "Do you remember when I came through
with my boat Scorpion?" Antonio asked them. The officials
scratched their heads for a minute, frowned, and asked when he'd
been through. When Antonio told them it had been about four years
before, the officials burst out laughing, and gave him a sneer
that said, 'Hey, turkey, don't you have any idea how many ships
and boats come through here a year?' Basque men don't appreciate
being laughed at, so Antonio, always as quick with his tongue
as his feet, responded warmly: "Well, I remember all of
you." All three officials brightened at the thought they
would be remembered for so long. "Yeah," Antonio continued,
unsheathing the verbal dagger, "all of you were a lot thinner
and had more hair back then." The room suddenly filled with
Latin tension. After about 30 seconds of strained silence, the
officials burst into laughter, saluting Antonio's bravado and
quick wit. As you might imagine, it was never boring when Antonio
was captain of Big O."
"We're planning an extended cruise to Mexico," reports
Cherie Valentine of the ketch Farallon, "and want
to know if dogs are allowed into Mexico and/or if there is a
quarantine period? And do you have any information regarding
current entry requirements?" Many cruisers in Mexico have
dogs, and even more have cats. There is no quarantine - but you
might want to keep your pet away from most Mexican dogs, as many
of them aren't in the best health. We're not up on the latest
entry requirements, however, so perhaps one of the dog owning
cruisers in Mexico can provide the latest details and pet tips.
"Yes, I'll be 'jumping the puddle' - but not until December,"
writes Tim Schaaf of the Cabo Isle Marina-based Hunter 37 Casual
Water. Many Ha-Ha vets will remember Schaaf as the guy who
assigned berths and tried to squeeze everyone into marina slips
in Cabo. "Before people deem my December plan insane,"
Schaaf continues, "I should report that a friend who has
spent quite a few years sailing the South Pacific told me that
December was the best time to go. He says that South Pacific
hurricanes almost never make it as far east as the Marquesas,
and as best I can ascertain from down here, he's correct. They
hit the Societies, of course, and also the Tuamotus, but veer
south before they get to the Marquesas. The Marquesas are sort
of like Isla Cedros in Mexico in that they seldom get hit. Apparently,
Daniel's Bay is also an exceptionally good hurricane hole. So
in this guy's opinion, it's better to head to the Marquesas in
December rather than waiting until March or April, because you
get more time there and because there are less no-see-ums. Any
Tropical cyclones aren't common anywhere in French Polynesia.
Prior to 1983, the Marquesas had never been hit, the Tuamotus
had only been hit three times, and Tahiti hadn't been hit in
75 years. Of course, 1993 was the big El Niño year, so
everything changed. Tropical cyclone - the name for hurricanes
in the South Pacific - Nano hit the Tuamotos and Marquesas with
130-knot winds and 30-ft seas in January; Reva hit Tahiti and
the Tuamotus in February; and the extremely destructive Veena
created massive destruction and destroyed many yachts in Tahiti
in late April. There has been nothing like that since - although
Raiatea was hit by a strong tropical cyclone a few years ago,
one that damaged many boats.
Having said that, the real threat to having a good time in French
Polynesia from December through April is that it's the wet season.
For example, at Atuona in the Marquesas, there is 100 times more
rain in December and January than there is in May, June, July,
and August. The difference is not quite so pronounced in the
Tuamotus and Tahiti, but it's there. Furthermore, the November
to April wet season is known for short and violent storms, cloudy
skies, and high humidity. There are numerous good reasons that
most cruisers don't want to be in French Polynesia during the
Doing the Baja Bash and looking forward to tying up at the San
Diego Police Docks for a week or two? Better not. The docks were
torn down at the end of November and are in the process of being
rebuilt. The bad news is that they won't be finished until May
or June; the good news is that there will be five more of them.
We'll keep you up to date. Chris Frost of Downwind Marine reports
that unlike last fall, there are now a few marina slips available
in San Diego.
More doing good while having fun. One of the Wanderer's favorite
sails is the always pleasant 12-mile spinnaker run from Punta
Mita to Paradise Marina on Banderas Bay. So he thought it would
be neat to hold a fundraiser - which became the Spinnaker Charity
Cup - for a local charity. Blair Grinols was in from the start
with his Capricorn Cat, as was John Haste with his Perry
52 cat Little Wing. The day of the event, we were joined
by Guy Bunting's M&M 46 cat Élan, Glenn Andert's
N/M 55 Lear Jet, John and Marilyn Folvig's Perry 72 Elysian,
Peter and Susan Wolcott's Santa Cruz 52 Kiapa - and for
all we know, a couple of other boats. Sixty folks - cruisers,
locals, and resort guests - made contributions, had lunch at
the El Dorada palapa at Punta Mita, were divided up onto the
three cats, and the race was on. The conditions were ideal, with
an eight knot wind building to 15 knots before the finish. There
was no winner, as the purpose was to raise money and have fun
sailing more or less in company.
All the proceeds of the Spinnaker Charity Cup went to Nayarit's
La Escuela de Las Estrellas (School of Stars), a new institution
for youngsters with Special Education needs. These children,
4 to 17, suffer from a variety of tribulations such as Down's
Syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, speech and hearing problems,
and so forth. Many of them will never be able to join mainstream
life, but Lupe Dipp, the wonderful Mexican woman who owns the
sailboat Moon And The Stars, and Veronica Baker - who
together started the School of Stars charity - hope to at least
make their lives better. The school has also been the recipient
of other fundraising efforts by cruisers in Banderas Bay. Although
the school is new, there are already success stories. One young
girl was unable to speak because she was literally 'tongue-tied'.
Dr. Peter Gordon performed an on-the-spot surgery, and the girl
is expected to be able to talk soon. This is a most deserving
charity, where even a few dollars go a long way for people who
live in genuine poverty. If you want more information or wish
to make a donation, contact Lupe .
"In the February issue, Archie Ackart wrote in asking about
a list of radio nets," write 1999 Ha-Ha vets Jerry and Jan
Tankersley of the Aiken, South Carolina-based Golden Hinde 32
Sunchaser. "It's too bad he didn't stop in at Downwind
Marine in San Diego to pick up a copy of their Cruising Guide,
which lists all of the SSB and Ham nets. Like Latitude's
First Timer's Guide To Mexico, Downwind's Cruising Guide
has much information. We look forward to each issue of Latitude
here in Aiken, as it's our only connection with what's going
on in Mexico - where we cruised from '95 to 2000."
Steve and Linda Dashew of the Southern California-based 79-ft
Beowulf reported they'll be leaving the Caribbean in May
for Europe. "We'll spend the summer there," says Steve,
"then do the ARC from the Canaries to St. Lucia in November.
Following that, we'll be bringing the boat back to California.
It's a long way commuting from our home in Tucson to our boat
when she's on the East Coast and in the Caribbean. And after
being gone for a while, we've decided that cruising in California
and Mexico isn't bad after all."
"Our Mexican cruise is drawing to a close," report
Peter and Susan Wolcott of the Hawaii-based Santa Cruz 52 Kiapa,
"so while enjoying one of our last bottles of chardonnay
for a sundowner here at Isla Colorado near Chamela, we voted
on our favorite 'paradise in Mexico'. It was unanimous for Tenacatita
Bay, which has an incredible mix of natural beauty, clean water,
a smoother anchorage than most marinas, superb cruiser comraderie,
non-stop cruiser activities, a scream of a jungle trip, the Casa
de Pirates, the weekly produce truck, the bus to Melaque, and
the short run to Barra de Navidad. And, there are no jet-skis.
We know Latitude doesn't do poetry, but we incorporated
all of the boat names of our Tenacatita friends into one paragraph
and hope that you'll publish it:"
"This is Kiapa, with Sue and Pete, finally making
our Great Escape like Snow Birds escaping the cold
to the south and east across the next Meridian Passage,
hopefully to Z-town. It was only a week ago that we were following
Charlie's Charts, where it advised "sail down the
Sea, Turn left into Tenacatitia Bay, that L'il Gem
of a bay, so full of Magic, so full of Harmony,
where the cruisers handle themselves with Amazing Grace.
Good Medicine is a tall Sol Ana quesadilla, and
food at Casa de Pirates esta muy Sabrosa. It has only
been a few months since we left the home of the Fre An Da
brave. And we cannot compare our previous Krew's Inn experiences
to the Rapture One feels with the Hook down, you
see Mithrandir Silhouette'd against a Red Skye
over La Manzanilla. Clearly, only Breilant planning would
get one to such a Mystic place. We really Lev it
here. Whether you arrive Via Harry downwind norther or
a gentle trip to Windward, Luv of the sea brings
us altogether - Indarractive of the spirits of the sailor,
the love of the Dolphin, Quest for the World Dream,
Catcher of fish. Dutifully leaving the Wet Bar
and other creature comforts behind, the only Question
remaining is whether we will see you again Manana. Adios,
Our apologies, as some things obviously got screwed up in the
translation. But please, no more poetry, and despite all the
effort you put into it, no more of whatever you call the paragraph
"After having to tend to an ill parent in Florida, we're
now on our way back to California and then to our boat in San
Carlos, Mexico," report Jann Hedrick and Nancy Birnbaum,
of the Alberg 35 Saga. We met while crewing aboard Mike
Hibbett's CT-49 Orion in the '98 Baja Ha-Ha and have been together
ever since. After the Ha-Ha, we returned to California, sailed
south with Saga, but had our cruise interrupted. We should
be back on our boat and cruising in the Sea of Cortez by May."
We hear that Mike and Heather Hibbetts finally have their CT-49
Orion back in the water in La Paz, where she had been
damaged as a result of falling from her stands during hurricane
Julliette last October. Mike met Heather, who was crewing on
Profligate, in the '98 Ha-Ha, and they subsequently got
married. We're delighted to hear they finally got Orion
back in her element.
Happy cruising to you all!