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April 2016

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With reports this month from Folie à Deux on cruising nine months a year in the Northeast and Caribbean; from Pelagic on family cruising off the beaten track; from the Horangic family, mostly in Venice; from Sand Dollar on eight years of cruising the world on less than $1,000/month; from Escapade on tips for the Med; from 'ti Profligate on Antigua; and Cruise Notes.

Folie à Deux — J/46
John and Ann Burnett
Nine Months On, Three Off
(San Francisco)

John, who retired from the tech world, and his wife Ann, who spent years fighting to help low-income people in the Bay Area find housing, are living the good cruising life. He moved to San Francisco in 1980, while Ann moved to the City from Boston in 1995. More importantly, in 2006 they bought a J/46 on the East Coast, and have been spending nine months a year cruising in either the Northeast or the Caribbean.

In late February and early March, the Wanderer and de Mallorca shared anchorages with the couple in both Antigua and St. Barth. While we only had the briefest of conversations with them, we did take the great drone shot of their boat — see the accompanying photo — on the hook in St. Barth.

When John and Ann aren't cruising, they spend much of their time at their place in San Francisco.

“We have a rent-controlled apartment in the Castro District,” says John. “And no, we don’t rent it out, because the owners would love to find an excuse to get rid of us."

The couple have split their cruising time pretty evenly between the Northeast and the Caribbean. Ann passes on the trips between the Caribbean and the Northeast, so John is joined by friends.

“There’s loads of places to cruise in the Northeast, so we've really liked it," says John. "It can be a little expensive, but it's not too bad because we usually anchor out or take a mooring.”

One of the most interesting — and inexpensive — places they've gotten a mooring was New York City.

“There’s a mooring field just past Throgs Neck where we got a free mooring for a week,” says John. “You’re only supposed to get a free mooring for a couple of days, but when we’d call the people who ran the moorings and tell them we wanted to pay, they’d tell us they didn’t see us. (Laughter.)

“We’re right here,” we told them.

“No, we really don’t see you,” they said. (Laughter.)

The J/46 is not a typical cruising boat in the Caribbean, but John and Ann say Folie à Deux — 'a shared madness' — has been fine for them.

“We also have an Olson 911 on San Francisco Bay we own in partnership with some other folks. Her name is Usually Lose, which is what we usually do in the two or so races we do on the Bay each year."

One of the most interesting side trips the couple made was up to Canada via the Erie Canal.

“The locks were nasty because they were covered in sharp barnacles," says John. "Naturally, we had to take the mast down to get through the locks. But we made it up to Ontario, down the St. Lawrence Seaway, and up to Newfoundland. Newfoundland has a reputation for a tremendous amount of fog, but we had great weather."

Based on personal observation, we think the (mostly) cruising life agrees with both John and Ann because they both look soooooo relaxed.

— latitude/rs 03/07/2016

Pelagic — Hallberg-Rassy 42
The Bradford Family
The Cruising Route Less Traveled

We — my husband Michael and children Zander, 12, Porter, 10, and Anakena, 8, and I — just downloaded the most recent Latitude. We enjoyed reading it because we like to stay connected with West Coast sailing.

The last time that we veterans of the 2014 Baja Ha-Ha checked in with Latitude was when we were headed up the East Coast of the United States following a fantastic experience in Cuba. We enjoyed some stellar cruising through Maine, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In fact, we can’t say enough good things about Newfoundland, which completely surpassed our expectations. It's an understatement that the weather isn't always great, but the fjords are fantastic. And when you get that rare sunny day, the cruising is magical.

But it's the people of Newfoundland who are the real gems. While at Trepassey at the tip of Newfoundland, I neglected to check to see if the local petrol station carried diesel. They didn't. As this was our jumping off point to Europe, we didn't want to take off with empty jerry cans, so we asked around town where we could get some diesel. Before too long, a couple offered to drive me and my three empty jerry cans 40 kilometers — 24 miles — to a petrol station and back. All for a cup of coffee and some company.

We always seem to meet our share of friendly locals offering to help us. I’m never sure if it's because of the three towheads we have cruising with us, or because we look completely clueless. Either way, we are finding the world is full of friendly people. Some places, however, just seem to have a greater percentage of friendly people than others.

We took the Great Circle Route from Newfoundland to Ireland, which meant we had to dodge a few icebergs. Thanks to ours being a late summer crossing, the chances of our meeting an iceberg were slim. Nonetheless, we did pore over the Canadian ice charts before leaving. We found our own little iceberg alley, and zigzagged through quadrants that were “supposedly” ice-free. As long as the icebergs got the same memo, we’d be safe. That said, we were relieved to be out of the ice zone after just a few days at sea.

We had never used a weather router before, but as the winds had been unusually unpredictable over the months prior to our departure, we decided to get a second opinion on crossing windows from Commanders' Weather. They were very reassuring and helped us pick a perfect window. We can’t say enough favorable things about them, as they provided a fantastic service tailor-made to fit our needs and budget. We talked with them three or four times on the phone before leaving, and they never seemed to tire of answering our questions.

Once at sea, our passage was 'fast and furious', as we made the crossing in just 11 days and 20 hours. That's turbo speed for an overloaded 42-ft cruising boat. We had consistent westerly winds, and only one mild depression to fight through as we neared Ireland.

The speed was great, although the constant fog was tiresome and meant we had to run the radar continuously. At times we couldn’t see much past the bow, so it was literally '50 shades of gray' out there, and the sky and sea were often indistinguishable. At sunrise on our last day the fog lifted and the clouds parted just enough for us to see the jagged shoreline and cliffs of Aran Island. What a beautiful sight!

Although ours wasn’t the longest passage, higher-latitude passages do take their toll. So it was with an indescribable sense of relief that we found land, for it proved beyond a doubt that we hadn't been just circling a North Atlantic fog bank.

We then sailed along the west coast of Ireland and on to Scotland, and eventually to the Isle of Skye, which is as far north as we went. We toured whiskey distilleries, collected mussels, had peat bonfires onshore, and overnighted in some memorable anchorages with stunning backdrops.

We're not big drinkers, but from our blog entries you’d think we were alcoholics: breweries in Ireland, whiskey distilleries in Scotland, calvados from Normandy, reds from France, and port from Porto. Our bilges are being packed with 'souvenirs' from our visits. Five years from now we'll still be nursing the port we bought after touring the warehouses of Porto.

The distilleries nonetheless provided good science lessons for the kids in filtration, condensation and fermentation. Any sacrifice to educate them. Making moonshine remains a job skill in some places in the States, doesn't it?

After stops in Wales and the Isle of Man, we crossed the English Channel to Brest, France. From there we put the boat in a marina and enjoyed a 'no carb left behind' tour of inland France. My oldest son Zander rates stops on their culinary contributions, and he absolutely loved France!

Three weeks and five pounds later, we prepped the boat for a crossing to Galicia, Spain. Although we had consistent 25-35-knot winds during our crossing of the Bay of Biscay, it was uneventful. So we home-schooled and cooked meals, and the kids bickered. It was business as usual aboard Pelagic.

From Galicia, we spent time in Porto, Seville, Gibraltar and a few weeks in Morocco. Although Gibraltar is part of the United Kingdom and thus technically not part of the Schengen Zone, the Spanish government doesn’t recognize it as such, so we continue to dance around whether we are here legally. We are taking the 'beg for forgiveness rather than ask permission' approach to cruising within the Schengen Zone. We will let you know how successful it was when we try to clear out.

We are currently anchored off Sanlucar de Guadiana in the Guadiana River between Portugal and Spain, and we’ve just enrolled all three kids in the local Spanish school. In an age of helicopter parenting, we are really throwing our kids to the wolves because they speak very little Spanish. We are hoping to remedy that with some intense immersion.

We expect to hang out here for a few months, then point toward home, via Morocco, the Canaries and the Caribbean. Ours will be a late-season Atlantic crossing, but we are looking forward to seeing the less-frequented spots in the Caribbean — and maybe French Guiana and Surinam.

Somehow we seem to continually take a different path from other American cruisers. In fact, we haven’t seen another American boat since we left Canada back in July. But we look forward to meeting up with some of our compatriots soon.

— amy 02/15/2016

ex-Lilahoc — Outremer 49
The Horangic Family
Venice By Private Yacht
(Menlo Park)

It's been almost a year since we — my wife Caroline, daughters Theodora and Helen, Little Basil, and I — sent an update, so here goes. After sailing back to the Med from the Caribbean on our rented Outremer 49 catamaran, we spent most of the summer and fall sailing around Italy. Then, with the 18-month rental of the Outremer 49 over, we returned her to France.

We are now in Myanmar on our second rental cat, this one a freaky custom combo of a Wharram and a Shuttleworth. We are cruising the 800-island Mergui Archipelago along with a few Moken sea gypsies in dugout canoes. More about this at a later date.

Our pressing urge is to tell Latitude readers about the fantastic eight weeks we spent docked in Venice last summer. You might remember that during our first summer in the Med we'd planned on one week for Istanbul, but were so impressed that we anchored there for a month. Well, last summer we planned on one week for Venice, but it captured us for eight! And the only reason we left when we did was that our 18-month boat rental was over.

Venice attracts very few cruisers. I would say we saw fewer than 20 boats come in all summer. That contrasts with 50,000 short-trip visitors per day coming off cruise ships, planes and other forms of transportation.

Surprisingly, there were loads of marina slips available. St. Elena was 80% empty the whole summer, and must have lost a ton of money. They quoted us 45 euro per night for our 49-ft cat. Vento di Venezia, our favorite marina, had an average of a dozen spots available all summer. We stayed there for 36 euro per night. The municipal spots right on the city front were 75% empty all summer, although in that case it was clearly because of the outrageous prices. They quoted us 320 euro per night — after a 1,400 euro mooring fee. The municipality seemed happy to let potential revenue blow out the window every day while waiting for the odd superyacht to show up.

The empty marina slips were hard for us to understand because we found Venice to be a fantastic place for visiting by boat. If Latitude readers ever get the chance to visit Venice by boat, we urge you to do it.

Most importantly, when you visit Venice by boat you experience it as the Venetians have for 1,500 years. When approaching from the Adriatic Sea, it seems as though you are sailing into some lame, featureless swamp. But as you round a final corner, ‘La Serenissima’ (The Most Serene Republic) appears, floating on the vast lagoon. The whole thing looks like someone's fantasy. You pull into your marina slip, jump into your dinghy, and start roaming the seemingly endless narrow canals that have carried tens of millions on boats over the centuries. You can't help but be overwhelmed.

In most places we have visited under sail, as you dig deeper, you only find a certain amount of truly new stuff. Usually a few days' worth, but sometimes enough to fill a week or two. No matter how deeply we dug into Venice, it just became more fascinating. We visited over 100 different unbelievable art installations — two or three per day — and my guess is we might have gotten to half of what was there. We saw probably 50 different historical structures, which might be half of the most interesting buildings. You can have as many experiences as you have the energy for, every day, day after day, for 60+ days, with no end in sight.

Then there are the other islands in the lagoon — Lido, the beach island; San Michele, the cemetery island; Murano, Burano, and Sant'Ariano, scattered with the bones of tens of thousands of plague victims; Sant’Andrea, with the fort from which only one shot was ever fired; Chiogga; and a couple of the protected spots off the beaten track where the locals anchor out.

Venice is a maritime dreamland. It's a 1,000-year-old boat factory — and had the first mass-production line in history — that takes up what seems like a quarter of the city. Around 1500 A.D., Venice was turning out a new 135-foot sailing galley every day!

The locals maintain a fleet of at least 100 traditional wooden sailing craft. We stumbled onto a huge regatta with multicolored sails out in front of St. Marks, and easily nabbed crew spots with folks who then cooked us dinner and introduced us all around town!

One of the most impressive things is the way the Venetians row. They claim they row with their heads while the rest of the world rows with their asses. And they are right.

Venice developed and refined boats, oars, and a technique of rowing, all of which are incredibly sophisticated. They row by walking back and forth along the back of the boat. Their arms do very little of the work, but provide fine control of the boat by flicking and swirling the hydrofoil oar in a dozen different ways to generate lift in various directions. It doesn't take a gondolier much more power to propel them than it does for him to walk down a street.

A gondolier never pushes the water — except when going flat out. And in that case he might loft a second 20-foot oar into the air with a toe, grab the handle in mid-flight, spin it into the oarlock (or forcola, a work of art in itself), and instantly switch to high-speed double-handed rowing.

The oars have different foil shapes along their length that balance lift generation with just enough structural strength to withstand the forces at work. Use a Venetian oar upside-down by accident, and you'll snap it.

They can run straight with only one oar, scull forward and in reverse with zero clearance on either side of the boat, slide the boat left or right without longitudinal movement, and rotate the boat around multiple axes, and can coordinate up to 20 rowers in the same boat.

There are rowing clubs all over Venice, and probably 1,000 traditional wooden rowing boats of all sizes and shapes. The boat designs have been so refined over 1,000 years that they use up to 20 different types of wood, often in asymmetrical hulls, to achieve the right balance between weight, strength, performance, longevity and, of course, style. While the most recognizable type is the gondola, our favorites are the s’ciopon and the vipera.

After a few days of motoring the canals in your dinghy, you will get jealous of the elegant rowers and want to learn how. So we did. Our favorite instructors are Venice OnBoard (, which has s’ciopons, mascaretas, and gondolas to row, and a san pierota if you want to try sailing on the lagoon. They even clamped a forcola to the transom of our dinghy and showed us how use a single Venetian oar to scull the boat around the canals.

Once you switch to rowing the canals, you are fully transported back in time to when Venice was the Manhattan of its time. You can really feel the power, the human achievement, and the decadence that was Venice's for hundreds of years, all of it built on a foundation of ships and the sea. The land the Venetians controlled was never more than certain valuable spots scattered around the Med and the Black Sea, but the wealth and power they created was unprecedented. And the immensity of what 50 generations of Venetians created and left behind for us to see is incredible.

The lagoon and canals are what allowed them to keep their rare republic safe from barbarians and tyranny for 1,000 years — in a time when republics were just a dream for 99.9% of the world. The United States only has another 800 years to go to beat their record. The republic fell only when Napoleon showed up with cannons that could finally reach across the lagoon. In wise Venetian fashion, the last elected Doge took off his doge hat, placed it on his desk, and simply handed over the keys.

If you visit Venice by cruising boat, you will not regret it.

— basil 03/05/2016

Sand Dollar — Bristol 32
Ken and Katie Stuber
Eight Years Out

“Not much,” was Ken's response to the Wanderer’s inquiry about how much it costs he and his wife Katie to cruise.

“We can easily get by on $1,000 a month. That includes everything — except what we spend to fly back to the States. We could spend more if we wanted to. For example, the same sail repair that cost $30 in Bequia cost $240 here in Antigua."

Ken had surprised the Wanderer by coming up to ‘ti Profligate as she was on the hook behind Sand Dollar at Falmouth Harbor. We hadn’t seen him since he, his then-only wife Cheryle, and their two kids had done the first Baja Ha-Ha in 1994. The family had been living at Lake of the Pines in the Sierra foothills at the time, and had kept their blue-hulled Bristol 35.5 True Blue in Alameda.

“We cruised in Mexico for two years, then continued on to the South Pacific, Hawaii and then back to California. I was in the merchant marine at the time, so I’d leave the family on the boat in places like Puerto Vallarta or Honolulu while I went off to work for four months at a time. Our children were eight and seven when we started what turned out to be our three-year cruise. It was a great adventure for them."

As young adults, the kids haven’t done too much sailing, but they’re doing well.

“My daughter, who for a time managed a factory in Bangladesh, got lucky and now works for Google, while my son is going for his master's at Humboldt State. We flew the kids down to the boat at Port Louis Marina in Grenada last summer and everybody had a great time.”

The three years of cruising only whetted Ken’s appetite for more. “I bought the Bristol 32 ketch in the Bay Area in 2000, and in 2008 my new wife Katie and I took off from Sausalito on our current cruise.”

We’re not sure when Ken and Katie got married, but they’d had a history together.

“We met ages ago when Ken broke his leg in the Navy and I was his nurse at the hospital in Long Beach,” says Katie, who spent decades as an emergency- room nurse. “It was 40 years ago that we first planned to go cruising, and we even bought a little starter boat in Florida. We were together for 10 years and were going to get married, but then we broke up. Ken was then with his first wife Cheryle for 20 years until they broke up. We've now been together for 10 years."

Katie and Ken seem to find Ken's marital history amusing.

“When Katie and I took off in 2008, we started by sailing north of the equator,” says Ken. “We spent four months in Hawaii, then continued on to the Marshall Islands, Johnston Atoll, Micronesia, Borneo, the Philippines and Southeast Asia.”

The big problem after Thailand was how to get to the Med.

“Things were pretty bad back then, with the Somali pirates hijacking yachts near Oman,” says Ken. “In fact, we’d shared anchorages with Scott and Jean Adam of the 58-ft Marina del Rey-based Quest and their crew Robert Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle. The Adams' boat was hijacked, and four days later the four Americans were murdered. It was really sad. So we shipped Sand Dollar from Thailand to Turkey.”

Ken says he is aware that a few skippers are taking their boats up the Red Sea now, but he wouldn’t do it himself.

“I’ve been to that area many times before while in the merchant marine, and I don’t like the culture. Plus, when you’re in the Red Sea and the weather is good, you really want to make time going north. And when it’s really windy and you’re stuck in an anchorage, it’s not good for diving. Not that Katie and I do much snorkeling. We don’t fish either — too much of a mess to clean up.”

The couple spent two years in the Med before crossing ’The Pond’ to Bequia last winter.

“We spent last season in the Grenadines and the southern Caribbean, and this season we’ve been doing the northern Caribbean. We’re headed to Nevis, St. Kitts, the south coast of Puerto Rico, Haiti and ultimately Florida, where I grew up. And we're hoping to stop in Cuba on the way."

In the early 1990s, the length of a typical cruising boat was 32 to 35 feet. These days most cruising boats are in the mid-40-ft range. We asked Ken and Katie if Sand Dollar was big enough.

“Most of the time our 32-footer has been just fine — although it didn’t seem like it when we left San Francisco. A gale had been forecast, and I figured that we wouldn’t have a problem handling that. Well, it blew 45 knots and the seas were to 18 feet in what turned out to be a five-day gale. We were miserable and got seasick, and even though it was June, got very cold. It’s the worst weather we’ve had in the nearly eight years we’ve been out.

"Weather windows are a small boat sailor’s friend, so we’re lucky that it’s so much easier to get good forecasts now. I use GRIB files I get via Air Mail and also use Passage Weather, Wind Guru and other sources.

“I would say that a 32-ft boat is a little small if you were going to cruise in the Caribbean all the time,” Ken continued, “because it's windy and the waves are big. But 32 feet is a good size for the rest of the world.”

Including the Med?

“Well, the Med sucked, too,” laughed Ken, "as the wind either blew really hard with short, steep seas, or there was no wind at all. You do a lot of motoring over there. But in the Pacific, where there is normally a longer period between swells, a 32-footer is just fine. It’s also a fine size for living aboard — as long as you’re not six feet tall.”

Katie prefers their smaller-than-normal-size cruising boat. “I don’t want one of those boats where on a clear day you can almost see the bow from the helm.”

Ken and Katie like simplicity. “We never had a watermaker, and we got rid of the refrigeration system a couple of years ago.” When we offered Ken a glass of cold water, he said he didn't want us to spoil him.

In keeping with their theme of cruising simply, Ken and Katie didn’t get an outboard for their dinghy until they were halfway around the world.

“Our dinghy is a 20-year-old Walker Bay plastic dinghy, which we can both row and sail. It's wonderful. But when we got to Ao Chalong Bay in Thailand, where you have to anchor way out, we broke down and bought a Yamaha 3hp. But we still row every chance we get, as it keeps you healthy."

The couple don’t have any 'favorite' places they've visited. “It’s all been great,” says Ken. But he has a couple of places he doesn’t like.

“My brother lives in Lakewood in Southern California. I like Southern California, especially if you live on the coast, but the traffic! And the people who live there will wait 90 minutes to eat in a place like Olive Garden. Nobody cooks!

"Good meals were very inexpensive in Mexico. Southeast Asia is like that, too. Well, it's not good at places such as Malaysia, but when you get to Thailand . . . oh yeah! Philippine food sucks. They like their fat and they like their rice. When rice comes with the meal, they always order an extra serving."

Not eating out, of course, is one of the three pillars of thrifty cruising. The others are staying out of marinas and doing your own boat work.

"I did all the work in taking four layers of bottom paint off Sand Dollar in Grenada," says Ken. "But I'm never doing that again. Even though I was wearing a full suit, I got rashes and burns from chemicals. Next time I'm paying money to the man to do it," he laughs.

While the couple will base out of Florida, they aren't stopping cruising. Next February they'll cruise the Florida Keys — "like the Caribbean without the hills" — and the Bahamas in April and May.

— latitude/rs 03/03/2016

Escapade — Catana 52
Greg Dorland and Debbie Macrorie
First Timer's Guide to the Med
(Squaw Valley)

This is the second part of our brief First-Timer's Guide to Cruising the Med.

The easiest way to contain the cost of cruising in the Med is pretty much the same as anywhere — anchor out. Unfortunately, the anchorages — and all other tourist facilities in the Med — are very crowded from May through September because it's the summer playground for all of Europe. And Europeans are more crazy about sailing and going around in powerboats than Americans.

Nonetheless, we didn't have any more problems anchoring in the Med than we did in the Caribbean. You still have the charterboat skippers who don’t care about anchoring too close, and the odd noisy boat, but we found things to be more pleasant than we'd anticipated.

We haven't been everywhere, of course, but here's a short list of our favorite anchorages: All the river mouths of Portugal's Algarve Coast. Puerto de Soller, Mallorca. The entire south coast of Menorca. Île des Porquerolles, France (which was extremely crowded when we were there, perhaps because it was Bastille Day). Villefranche/Saint Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France. Cap Martin (Menton), France. Seno di Paraggi (next to Portofino), Italy. Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy. Portovenere, Italy. Portoferraio, Elba, Italy. And everywhere in La Maddalena Islands and the facing shore of Sardinia. The eastern end of the island of Ischia is also nice, and the south of the island of Capri is very beautiful.

Unlike the Caribbean, where the trades always blow out of the east, the wind direction changes frequently in the Med. You always have to have a Plan B.

There are, of course, times when you want or need to be in a marina. This is when you're likely to be in for a shock. We were often quoted over 200 euros — about $220/night! — for a slip in the summer. Of course, Escapade is 52 feet long and 28 feet wide.

One of the biggest differences we've noticed between the Med and the Caribbean is that the Med has far fewer catamarans. The vast majority of the marinas in the Med were built long before the emergence of the modern catamarans, so berthing for cats is not only very expensive, it's very difficult to come by during the high season.

It's a different story in the off-season, as we've found good values in places such as Valencia, Spain; Ragusa, Italy; Sicily; and La Spezia, which is near Cinque Terre, Italy.

Escapade is spending the winter at La Spezia, where we are paying 750 euros a month for a side-tie without electricity. While La Spezia is a large shipping terminal and has a big naval presence, our pontile is directly across the street — through a small park — from the old town full of shops and restaurants.

Marina di Ragusa in the south of Sicily, and Marina Juan Carlos in Valencia in Spain, are approximately the same price. Juan Carlos is a beautiful large facility left over from the America’s Cup. It's currently underutilized and priced to fill up the marina.

The warm-weather season in the Med is from May through September. The water temperature was very pleasant for swimming and hanging out for long periods of time when we arrived in Mallorca in July. Our purchase of a SUP allowed us to take advantage of the cooling waters in late September — and hopefully will do the same when we return to our cat in April.

It starts getting cold fast in October, and we nearly froze to death staying aboard during the first part of November. When the season is over in the Med, it's over!

The crews of many foreign boats spend winters on their boats, but usually in the south of Spain at places such as Cartagena, or Marina di Ragusa in Sicily, or in Turkey. Others put their boats on the hard and go 'home' for the winter season. We are from Squaw Valley, so we have rented a small apartment in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy so we can ski until the weather warms up again.

The Med has an infinite number of attractions ashore, incredible history and architecture, and wonderful restaurants — most of which feature local foods and wines. We've also been blessed by a very favorable exchange rate between the dollar and the euro. The price of berthing notwithstanding, the Med hasn't been so inexpensive in ages.

Don't forget the bikes. Ours have been very valuable, both for basic transportation and exercise.

Our current impression is that you really need a minimum of two seasons in the Med; one for the Western Med and the second for the Eastern Med. Three would certainly be better, as it would give you more time for Greece and Turkey.

The Schengen Treaty is an involved issue, but the basics are your boat is allowed in the European Union for 18 months without incurring the approximately 20% VAT. At that time, the boat must leave the EU, if only for a day. Popular destinations are Morocco or Albania. After just one day out, the boat can return for another 18 months.

Foreign humans, however, can only stay in the Schengen Area — most of Europe — for 90 days of any 180-day period unless they get a Long Term Stay Visa, which is valid for a year and is extendable. We had to jump through a few hoops to get ours, but it was doable. You do, however, have to arrive in the EU with the visa in hand, so allow a lot of time to apply at the appropriate consulate before departing. On the other hand, a number of foreign cruisers are simply blowing off the 90-day limit. It's unclear what penalties they might face.

The bottom line for us has been that the Med, while a long way from the United States, and despite not having the greatest sailing, is well worth it as a cruising destination.

— greg & debbie 02/24/2016

‘ti Profligate — Leopard 45 Cat
The Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca
Almost An 'A' for Antigua
(St. Barth, FWI)

When the Wanderer owned the Ocean 71 ketch Big O from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, we spent a fair bit of time at Antigua, the former British colony in the Leeward Islands of the Eastern Caribbean. But much of the time was during six Antigua Sailing Weeks based out of historic Falmouth and English harbors, and very little time at the island’s many anchorages. That was a mistake.

We started rectifying the mistake in early February when we picked up ‘ti Profligate, which now spends the off-season at a dock behind a house at the Jolly Harbor development. We’d always known how great the sailing was in the lee of Antigua, where you zip along in strong winds in very clear and very shallow water. And that almost the entire leeward shore of Antigua, often with powder sand beaches, is good for overnight anchoring. But we'd forgotten how many fine anchorages there are on the windward side of the island, protected from the Atlantic by reefs.

After checking out the anchorage at the Hermitage, a lovely spot in Five Islands Harbor just 10 minutes away from 'ti's Jolly Harbor base, we headed toward historic English/Falmouth harbors. These most historic nautical sites in the Caribbean were about 10 miles away on the south side of the island. In order to get there, we had to pass inside both Middle and Cades reefs, both of which are great for diving. We also stopped at both the Curtain Bluff anchorage and Carlisle Bay. Although both are lined with expensive resorts — long pants required for dinner at the Curtain Bluff — the water was flat and the scenery terrific.

We happened to pull into Falmouth Harbor a couple of days before the start of the Caribbean 600, which in eight years has become one of the top three middle-distance ocean races in the world. We soon bumped into Lloyd Thornburg and co-skipper Brian Thompson of the all-conquering MOD70 Phaedo3, which, with the help of crew Paul Allen of Santa Cruz and several others, would set a great new course record, yet beat sistership Concise by only 10 minutes after 31 screaming hours on the course.

We also bumped into Bay Area great Stan Honey, navigator of Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark’s monster VLVP 100 Comanche. We got the tour of the incredible boat from crewman Joe Fanelli. Two highlights hinted at how serious Comanche is about performance. There is but one $20,000 carbon fiber toilet, and out in the open, for the 21 crew. Second, the cooking facilities consist of two tea kettles powered by Coleman propane canisters and two carbon fiber sinks, each one the size of half a basketball.

Comanche was not able to set a new course record, largely because she didn’t get the same favorable wind angle from St. Martin to Guadeloupe that Rambler 100 did when she set the course record a few years back.

Much remains the same in English and Falmouth harbors, not just since we were there 20 years ago, but since Admiral Nelson was there a couple of hundred years before. English Harbor exudes history more than any spot we've been to in the Caribbean.

But there is new stuff, too. We’re primarily referring to the three greatly expanded marinas in Falmouth and English harbors. The two in Falmouth had been quite modest when we were doing Sailing Weeks, but were now home to the likes of Jim Clark’s 292-ft Athena, the 218-ft Hetairos, and many other very large yachts that simply didn't exist two decades ago.

Once the yachts started the Caribbean 600, we headed past Eric Clapton’s mansion on Indian Creek Point — the Pheado3 crew house — and made our way up to the Green Island area about 10 miles away. Talk about your idyllic places to just get away, with room for scores of boats to get away on their own.

We grabbed a free mooring just in front of an almost entirely exposed reef, and not an hour later the 60-ft charter cat Wadadli cut between our transom and the 100-ft-distant reef to leeward. It would have been a risky move for most skippers, but the big cat has circumnavigated Antigua every day of the year for something like the last 20 years, and is said to know her way around the reefs without any help.

Had we had more time — like a month or three — we would have liked to make a leisurely counterclockwise tour around Antigua. Of particular interest would be inside the reef on the northeast side. Making the experience even better would have been the fact that we were getting free unlimited data as part of our U.S. T-Mobile plan. Not high-speed enough for work, but decent.

Alas, we didn't have a month or three, so after returning to Falmouth Harbor for the Caribbean 600 finish, we sailed 85 miles off the wind to St. Barth, where even more work beckoned.

As we see it, the biggest shortcoming of cruising Antigua is the food. It's mostly so-so in restaurants and cheap. And the variety and quality in markets is dismal. It's a shame. The best food we had was with locals at a street stand, but the place isn't even open every day.

Antigua has a population of about 80,000, with 91% being black or bi-racial, and less than 2% white. We assume that the vast majority of whites live at English/Falmouth Harbor or Jolly Harbor. When we did our last three Antigua Sailing Weeks in the mid-1990s, there seemed to be a lot of racial tension, at least among some of the younger Antiguan males and the whites on the gauntlet between English and Falmouth harbors. We're delighted to report we felt none of that this time around. In fact, we met some of the nicest and most friendly people you could ever meet — and two of them were government officials! We can't wait to go back, but even with the poor food, we still give Antigua an A-.

— latitude/rs 03/10/2016

Cruise Notes:

Patsy 'Le Reina del Mar' Verhoeven of the La Paz-based Gulfstar 50 Talion reports that an unusual number of La Paz-based boats — including hers — will be doing the Pacific Puddle Jump this year. They include: Avatar, Mike Rickman and Shelly Ward's Peterson 44 from Whitestone, VA; Jade, Pete Cookingham's Anderson Island, WA-based Fuji 45 that he'll be sailing with his son Erick; Huzzah, Gerry and Jody Gilbert's Jeanneau 45.2 from Gig Harbor, WA; Cinnabar, Tom and Sylvia Seaberg's Schumacher 52 from San Francisco; Koza, Jim Graham and Carola Melville's Jeanneau 49 from Brisbane, Australia; Compañera, Joe and Laura Sorum's Tartan 38 from Vallejo; and Morning Light, Scott Thomas' Explorer 45 from San Diego.

"Three of the crews have lived in La Paz for long periods of time," reports La Reina. "Pete for 25 years, Shelly for 11 years, and me for nine years. We were inspired to do the Puddle Jump to at least some extent by the deaths of our dear friends Paul Whitehouse and Simone Wood of the ketch Tabasco II. The couple tragically perished in La Paz Bay during hurricane Odile in September of 2014. It had been Paul and Simone’s dream to sail to the South Pacific. We will join their families in the Marquesas for a ceremony in which their ashes will be scattered."

Does sailing to the South Pacific mean that Le Reina del Mar will miss her first Baja Ha-Ha in a decade? What a silly question! By the way, remember that this year's Ha-Ha will start October 31, Halloween, a week later in the calendar year than previous Ha-Ha's. Signups begin in early May.

Last year we did a report on Guirec Soudee, the Frenchman from Yvanec, Brittany, who two years ago spent 90 minutes teaching himself how to sail before setting off singlehanded across the Atlantic aboard his 10-meter steel sloop Yvanec. As you may recall, the singlehander picked up a hen during a stop in Madeira so he would have fresh eggs all the way across the Atlantic. Guirec and Monique became good mates, so after landfall Guirec would not only take Monique surfing with him, but also out to candlelight dinners on the beach at La Plage in St. Barth.

Last winter Guirec told us that his plan for the upcoming winter was to get his sloop trapped in the ice in Greenland, and be self-sufficient and out of communication with the outside world until spring. With Monique, of course. Well, the two did make it to Greenland, and they intentionally got trapped in the ice out of touch with the outside world. This according to reports from a fisherman from a nearby village who stopped by to check on Guirec and the hen from time to time.

Mike and Deanna Ruel of the Manta 42 R Sea Kat, having just celebrated their 37th year together, had every reason to expect they'd have a glorious last leg of their circumnavigation, 7,648 miles from Cape Town to Miami. After all, once a couple of hundred miles from Cape Town, the passage up the South Atlantic is generally considered to be one of the most pleasant in the world of cruising, with reliable moderate trades blowing from aft of the beam. Plus, the couple had done all kinds of work on the boat in South Africa, fixing everything from sails, to engine seals, to replacing the broken gooseneck bolt, and more.

But if it wasn't for bad luck, the couple wouldn't have had have any. It started when their autopilot crapped out 140 miles into the passage. They'd just about made it back to port when an engine temp alarm went off. It turned out the mechanics who replaced a lower engine seal on one diesel hadn't done it right and all the oil had leaked out. When the Volvo mechanics arrived, it was decided to remove the engine to make sure the repair was properly done.

Then the bearings froze up on the dynamo in the Kubota diesel, starting a fire. The generator had just been gone over. When restarting the generator, Mike noticed a crack in the exhaust riser. Mike tried to repair it with JB Weld, but it didn't work. After having a welder try to repair the exhaust, they learned it was easier to just have him build a new one.

Having finally gotten away for the last time, surely their luck would turn. It did for a bit, as they had some very nice sailing weather. Alas, then the almost always excellent sailing conditions went to heck, and required as many as "27 sail modifications in just 24 hours." It was frustration upon frustration. "We're now 500 miles from St. Helena," reported Mike, "and despite my issues with unanticipated forces of nature, I have no complaints about our progress. We've averaged 150 miles a day for our first eight days."

On the other hand, we haven't heard any complaints about the weather on the same passage from Jim Fair, Linda Powers and Sylvia Petroka on the Berkeley-based Outbound 46 Chesapeake, who were several weeks in front of the Ruels.

"We arrived in Trinidad last night and completed check-in this morning," reported Fair. "We did the last 3,800-miles of our trip from South Africa in 23.5 days. It was probably the nicest long- distance sail on the planet."

"My new crew, a young lady from England, and I were chased away from Ko Rang Island, which is to the east of Phuket, Thailand, by a man brandishing an AR-15-style automatic rifle," reports Tom van Dyke of the Santa Cruz-based Searunner 31 trimaran En Pointe. "I later learned the guy worked for a bird's nest company that has rights to the island, and that they protect their birds' nests as much as Humboldt County farmers protect their pot crop. Not wanting to die for an anchorage, I re-anchored a little more than half a mile off the island, hoping that was out of his weapon's range. It was an open roadstead, but it was already dark and there wasn't another anchorage for many miles.

"The next day I called the local chief of police, who blew me off. Then I got a call from the chief of police of nearby Koh Yao Yai, who told me he'd spoken to the guard and explained things. He said we were invited to return and re-anchor. Have you heard anything like this? Backpackers described the incident as a 'Tit', meaning 'This is Thailand'.

The birds' nests you are referring to are made of the solidified saliva of swiftlets, and are among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans. An average nest retails for around $1,000 a pound. Birds' nests are highly prized by the Chinese for their nutirional value and supposedly exquisite flavor.

The board of the Hidden Port YC of Puerto Escondido in the Sea of Cortez, Baja California, voted to close the club that was started 22 1/2 years ago by Bob and Pettie of Vela and Norm and Gigi of Phase Two. The club's most famous event has always been Loreto Fest, which started 20 years ago and sometimes attracted over 200 boats. Loreto Fest will be held one last time on May 6 and 7, so if you're in the area, you are encouraged to attend.

No reason was given for shutting the club down, but it was noted that members of the Puerto Escondido community plan on starting a 'social club' in December 2016. We're not clear on the distinction between a yacht club and a social club.

The United States' longstanding and ridiculous policy of prohibiting American tourists from visiting Cuba became even more bizarre last month just before President Obama's historic March 20-22nd visit to the 'Worker's Paradise'. For the last half century or so, US Treasury law has prohibited American tourists from visiting Cuba on the grounds they would be spending money and thus 'trading with the enemy'. Exceptions were made for members of "educational, cultural and religious groups," who jumped through countless hoops to get US government permission to make a visit. As if membership in some educational, cultural or religious group should give someone greater rights than those accorded regular citizens.

In any event, President Obama issued an executive order that says while American 'tourists' still can't visit Cuba, individual Americans can decide for themselves whether they are on some kind of educational, cultural or religious mission, which would make their trips legal. Ridiculous, isn't it? That's why 20 years ago we just said 'f-'em', and visited Cuba for two weeks with our Ocean Big O without asking permission of our government.

If you wanted to visit Cuba before it got Americanized', it may be too late. In addition to a visit by an American President, it was announced that US-based Starwood Hotels would be opening three facilities in Cuba, two under the Starwood luxury brand and a third under the Sheraton Four Points brand. Nothing like living in luxury while your hosts are not allowed freedom of speech, freedom to travel, or even freedom of thought, and where people convicted of murder in the United States are allowed to live free and are treated like celebrities. Ah, the contradictions of the modern world!

A month or so ago the Wanderer gave his Phantom Vision 2 Plus drone to John Rogers of the San Diego-based Deerfoot 62 Moonshadow. The reason was simple. John and his wife Debbie are soon going to the South Pacific, where there are tremendous possibilities for drone photos, and the Wanderer isn't. Having already lost a couple of Phantom drones to the deep blue, the Wanderer repeatedly told Rogers not to worry if the thing crashed and was destroyed, as it was a business risk.

It didn't take long for the risk to become a reality. "I had gotten pretty good at flying the drone, and was learning to operate the camera and drone using the real-time video on the iPhone," reports Rogers. "But on the last flight I brought the drone alongside Moonshadow for the final landing of the day. It was hovering 10 feet from the foredeck when it descended below the lifelines on its own. As I attempted to regain altitude, the bird sank lower, then spun into the water and sank like a stone. Gone! I think the battery was down to 38%, but the damn numbers are so hard to read. If so, it was too low to be operating the drone, at least according to others I spoke to later."

The Wanderer isn't surprised, because all along he suspected that Rogers would get hooked on the drone and, if necessary, buy a new one of his own. Sure enough, Rogers reports that he now has a Phantom 3, the same as the Wanderer's new one. The Phantom 3 drone and controller are vastly superior to the Vision 2 Plus, with many more fail-safe features, despite not costing any more. So Rogers is flying again and by the time you read this will have taken off for the South Pacific.

Then there is Jason Hite, who did the 2015 Ha-Ha with his wife Vicky on the Long Beach-based Caribbean 50 Volare, and who also just bought a Phantom 3. He reports that he got his drone up to 400 feet on his maiden flight, at which point he took the terrific accompanying photo of Grand Marina at Barra de Navidad. "I went higher and farther today," he later reported, "until the remote started to lose connection."

Phantom encourages all drone operators to start slow and not press the drone boundaries until they've become more experienced. We echo that advice for Hite and all other new drone pilots. That said, we think drones are going to prove to be valuable navigation tools in the South Pacific and elsewhere.

As usual, we've been spending a couple of winter months in St. Barth, because that's where much of the action in the sailing world takes place in the spring. While in St. Barth, you come across some interesting sailors. Take Dan 'The Man' Harper of the Swan 42 Corban. We've known Dan for years, but only recently learned that he's sailed his Swan 42 between the Eastern Caribbean and the Northeast "about 30 times". To say nothing of the other boats he's delivered for others. For Dan, the 1,500-mile trips are no big deal. "If there's a good weather window, I just grab a couple of Power Bars and take off. I usually make the trips singlehanded because it's easier that way." Dan is the founder of Siren Marine, which "monitors, tracks and controls" recreational boats from afar.

You bought them where? Jeff and Judy Wahl of Yankton, South Dakota, finally made it to Puerto Vallarta with their new-to-them Deerfoot 60 Just Passing Wind. They are now headed to Marina Chiapas in southern Mexico, where they will get their old boat, the Wellington 47 Island Mistress, ready for sale. The couple rave about their boat bikes, which they bought at . . . Ace Hardware!?

Looking for inspiration in your sailing and in your life? We think you can find it by reading Jack van Ommen's SoloMan, which is the incredible story of his visiting six continents and 51 countries during a nine-year period — shortly after going bankrupt. What makes the story all the more remarkable is that he did it with Fleetwood, a 30-ft plywood boat he'd built from a kit many years before, and that when he set sail from Alameda for Viet Nam, he had but $150 and the promise of a modest monthly check from Social Security to his name. Van Ommen almost gave up the voyage when he was rescued by the Coast Guard off Monterey, but as was the case that time and many times later, he was able "to transcend certain adversity with hope, persistence and an abiding faith in God and his fellow man."

Fleetwood was lost on some rocks near Mallorca in November 2013 after a series of storms left Jack and his boat somewhat disabled. Van Ommen now has a sistership that he plans on using to complete his 'around the world in less than 80 years' dream.

If Latitude 38 had a sailors' Hall of Fame, van Ommen would surely be in it.

Want to see how not to ride a wave into the rocks in front of Kona's Honokohau Harbor? You can find a demonstration video in February 29th's 'Lectronic Latitude. The unidentified charter cat operated by Sea Paradise charters on the Big Island rode the wave directly onto the rocks. Fortunately, only the operator was aboard. He was not hurt, but the catamaran was soon in small pieces.

Sometimes you're lucky. Bruce Harbour and Jennifer Martindale of the Montana-based St. Francis 44 cat Skabenga were going to be in Savu Savu, Fiji, but had to make a trip to Suva to pick up some batteries. So when Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston came Fiji's way, they took shelter in the mangroves at Denerau on Viti Levu. Like most boats in the mangroves and at Vuda Pt. Marina, their cat came out unscathed. The same can't be said for the boats at Savu Savu, where they were supposed to have been.

Like a number of other cruisers, Bruce and Jennifer loaded Skabenga up with relief supplies as soon as they could, to assist those ashore and afloat at Savu Savu.

Missing the pictures? See the April 2016 eBook!


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