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April 2018

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With reports this month on the second of Celebrate's circumnavigations, Alembic's cruise of both fun and compassion, and a lesson on family dynamics aboard Tuwamish. There are reports on both the 17th annual Zihua SailFest and the 2nd annual Barra Festival. And the usual batch of Cruise Notes.

Celebrate — Taswell 58
Charlie and Cathy Simon
Tying Another Knot
Spokane, WA

When we last visited Charlie and Cathy Simon in the November '17 Changes, they had just completed a Northwest Passage aboard their Taswell 58, Celebrate. But that was only one leg of an 11-month, 16,000-mile circumnavigation of the North American continent. They crossed their outbound track off Fort Lauderdale on February 23 to tie that knot. Celebrate is only the 15th known boat to have completed such a passage.

The Simons are in even rarer company now, since their résumé also includes a 'regular' circumnavigation. Between 2014-15, they completed a 13-month, 26,000-mile World ARC. (Doing both a world and North American circumnavigation is so rare, we couldn't even find stats. It may be one of the first.) In total, since 2014, they've visited 16 countries on five continents, sailed most of the world's oceans and many of its seas, and put more than 40,000 miles under Celebrate's keel.

Celebrate herself is a Bill Dixon design, built by the highly regarded Tashing yard in Taiwan in 2003. The design features a long Scheel keel, beefy skeg-hung rudder, tons of storage, and accommodations for up to eight crew. The latter detail came in handy for parts of the NA circumnavigation. Although the boat is set up for easy doublehanding, Charlie and Cathy had six total aboard for the NWP, and four (themselves included) to and through Panama. They sailed the first leg (Fort Lauderdale to Annapolis) and last leg (Panama to Fort Lauderdale) themselves.

Of the many cool gadgets aboard, one of the coolest to us was their masthead camera. Though designed as a security camera, it turned out to be a valuable extra set of eyes that could 'see' over the tops of ice and spot pathways not visible from deck. We're thinking a similar setup could prove equally valuable when threading your way through reefs in more tropical climes.

As they noted in November's Changes, the Simons considered the 3,300-mile East-West Northwest Passage much more difficult than the ARC, mostly because of the unpredictable movement of the ice floes and the frequent pea soup fog formed by them. (Compasses don't work that far north, either — fortunately, GPS does.) What they didn't mention then is that, after they consulted with Victor Wejer, an Ocean Cruising Club Northwest Passage specialist, he named a Tasmanian Islands channel "Charlie's Channel" after Simon, its first known user.

After completing the NWP in September, Charlie and Cathy made a 1,300-mile dash from Alaska south to San Diego, to take part in last year's Baja Ha-Ha, which started on October 29. After that came a Panama Canal transit, followed by the 'homestretch' across the Caribbean to Florida.

On the ARC, the Simons' favorite stops included the Galapagos, a visit to an active volcano on Vanuatu, and a safari in Africa. When asked about the highlights for the NA circumnavigation, Charlie is unequivocal about his favorite:
"Everyone should visit Disko Bay in Greenland. Although we were aboard our boat, there is a regular air service and tours to see the glaciers calving icebergs, which is a truly awesome experience," he says. "The ice extends out into the bay about five miles until tidal and other stresses are great enough to crack off the 'toe' of the glacier. Some of the bergs are huge, more than 100 feet above the water and a mile or more long. The Titanic is thought to have hit an iceberg from this bay."

Although "Seattle" is the homeport painted on Celebrate, the Simons have ties to the Bay Area. Charlie learned to sail here in 1975 with Jay Varner at the (then) San Francisco Sailing School. When he and Cathy (who grew up in Washington) were married in 1979, she learned to sail on a Ranger 33 they kept at Ballena Bay in Alameda. Currently, they are members of the Corinthian YC.

The Simons are staying in Fort Lauderdale a few weeks while Celebrate goes on the hard for some usual upkeep, and some unusual, especially for Florida: fairing and painting the ice dings around the waterline!

After she goes back in the water, probably sometime this month, Charlie and Cathy will make their way north through the summer, ending up in Annapolis where they will plan their next sailing adventure.

— latitude 3/15/18

For more on the Simons' travels, speaker series, and expertise on planning routes and itineraries timed for weather, visit

Alembic — Whitby 42
Peter and Angie Arndt
Answer to a Prayer

It was an answer to a prayer when our friends Bill and Helen Weigel, who own Alembic, a Whitby 42, said: "You can spend seven weeks on our boat in the Caribbean while we go home." We rented our house in Maine for six months and started packing. On January 2, we arrived in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, and began a great adventure.

We had had the good fortune to spend two winters in the islands 20 and 30 years ago, so we had some expectations of what things would be like. But this year has been very different from those trips. Hurricane Maria had made landfall in September and the islands were still abuzz with rescue work and new needs.

It took a couple of weeks to get acclimated to both the intricacies of the boat and how the strong Christmas winds impacted living aboard. Some days, Angie felt as seasick at anchor as she ever recalled feeling at sea. We were grateful for the exciting distraction of the arrival of the winners of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a four-man team who rowed 3,000 miles from the Canaries to Antigua in a record 30 days. They were followed by Team Antigua, who came in the next morning to a massive Antiguan and international welcome.

By mid-January, we were ready to break free of the comfort of Falmouth and make our way south. Our goal was to see if we could continue with relief efforts in Dominica that the boat's owners had contributed to in early December.

We had an exciting first passage to Deshaies in Guadeloupe. The seas were up but the boat seemed thrilled to be back out there and performed beautifully. As we got closer, we remembered with great fondness our previous visits to this quaint harbor and the superb French provisions. This time, we were surprised by the number of boats that packed the small harbor and were a little dismayed to be woken at 4 a.m. by the sound of air horns and lots of shouting: A charter boat had dragged anchor into a neighboring boat.

We continued on to Pigeon Island where the snorkeling was fabulous, and enjoyed a leisurely swim with a sea turtle. Then we headed for Îles des Saintes, again recalling this truly captivating harbor in our memories. It's still pretty, but now virtually impossible to anchor as the entire harbor is full of moorings. We were lucky to pick one up right away, as we later saw other boats waiting for hours for someone to leave and free up a mooring.

We enjoyed going ashore to explore the small village, with its patisseries and tourist shops, and climbed up to the fort that looks out over the harbor and beyond. Ferries arrive regularly with loads of tourists eager to enjoy all the beauty, ambience and great food!

The next passage to Dominica was relatively short, but the winds were kicking up the seas and we were glad we'd turned the cowl vents aft.

Making landfall, it was easy to notice the deforestation in the mountains, the result of Hurricane Maria's stripping the leaves off every tree on the island. The high hills that used to be lush and green were almost gray in appearance, although you could see the green of new life working hard to grow again. There was also evidence of landslides that took out swaths of vegetation, and even before we anchored, we could see buildings that had been leveled. Blue tarps covered many homes and businesses in the town of Portsmouth.

We went ashore Monday to clear customs with the help of Jeffrey, the head of PAYS, the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services. He drove us to the customs dock and it was shocking and sad to see the devastation up close. Wires hung in the streets, houses were in ruins, and many businesses were still closed. We could not recall ever seeing such destruction — and this was four months after the fact!

But we had come to help, and Jeffrey welcomed Peter's offer to rebuild the roof of the PAYS building. We also connected with a local school where the principal welcomed our offer to pitch in and asked if we would paint the entry way, which had been scarred badly from the debris that Maria threw around. So with the help of two other boating families, we got to work.

The students at the school were excited to see us painting and eagerly asked if they could help. It was a wonderful multi-age event and we got the work done in record time.

We also volunteered to help in the school library, as we had met the co-founder of Hands Across the Sea in Antigua and she said all the schools and libraries in Dominica needed help. The first school we contacted thanked us but said until they got a new roof there was nothing to be done — a comment we heard often. Despite the devastation, the people we met in Dominica are still very proud of their island home and have a resilience that is inspiring. "DOMINCA STRONG" read the headline in one paper we saw while checking out at a grocery store.

They still need a lot of resources and help, but they are rebuilding. One hopeful sign was that the PAYS building had just gotten power back and their crew were happy to host their first Sunday BBQ for the cruising community anchored in Portsmouth. It was inspiring to see so many families come to Portsmouth with the sole purpose of helping to rebuild. Other projects included the rebuilding of a soup kitchen and radio tower.

After 10 days, we took advantage of a small weather window and made two quick daysails to get back to Antigua, where the owners were flying in to reclaim their home. We arrived in time to see yet another transatlantic rowing team — this time three women — come in after 60 days at sea. Shortly after that was the arrival of the last rower in the Atlantic Challenge, a soloist, who completed the trip in just over 63 days.

The sailing conditions this trip were nothing like what we remember from 20 years ago. We keep hearing this was one of the windiest winters ever. But we're not complaining because we have had the chance to taste the simplicity and joy of cruising life once again.

— peter and angie 2/21/18

Readers — You might have noted that Peter and Angie rented their house for six months. After getting off the boat, they went to stay at another friend's house in St. Croix, where they continued to help with the cleanup efforts. They will head home to Maine this month.

Tuwamish — 50-ft ketch
Adam Nash and Laura Sage
Extreme Family Blending Experiment
Pacific Northwest

It's been quite an adventure for two soulmates who found each other through Instagram in 2014. After a year or so of 'likes' and occasional compliments, Laura and I finally met, and soon afterward agreed that we should all live together. "We" included her two kids, Matteo, 12, and Lucia, 9, my son Jake, 7, Gypsy, the black Lab mutt and — just recently — Taco, the wild Baja street dog that, according to my wife, was "too cute to leave on the street half dead." We called it the Extreme Family Blending Experiment. We skipped the house thing, and moved straight onto a boat.

That's when Tuwamish entered our lives. A 50-ft ferrocement ketch that is a Pacific Northwest icon, she was built on the Duwamish River in 1974 by Bill and Miguel Scherer. They lived on her full-time and cruised extensively to Alaska and back multiple times for 40 years. She is one of the finest floating examples of a Cecil Norris-designed Samson C-Strutter, and has been maintained to the highest standards. Tuwamish was built to cross oceans safely and comfortably, and we were wanting to try just that.

I prepped for the adventure in the usual, modern way — I started following family cruising blogs, a lot of family cruising blogs. Just on Facebook's "Kids 4 Sail" page, there are over 200 boats on the Google map. I read a lot on blending families, too, although I never came across someone trying to do it on a tiny floating home.

A bit over 400 square feet can start to feel small really quickly when five strong-willed people are tired of looking at one another. But in a dysfunctional family, 4,000 square feet ain't big enough, either!

On our tiny ship, it might take a little more effort to keep personal spaces personal, common areas organized, and shoes kept only in the shoebox, but one just has to step outside to see that we have one big backyard.

The first two summers, we sailed the Salish Sea. Last August, we left the Pacific Northwest and headed south. We have been in Mexico for five months now, and in the anchorage of Boca de Tomatlan for the last three days. We are slowly heading toward Yelapa and then around the corner south. But for the moment, we wait. There has been no wind down here for this big boat and I hate motoring.

With a pretty benign weather forecast on the horizon, I felt good about a 3:1 scope in 60 feet of water, until the swell had our keel thumping on the sand. Having my son reel in another 50 feet of chain fixed that problem, but had me on edge for the first night. It was dark by the time I had a stern line anchored on the beach, partly due to the handy-dandy homemade spool dispensing mechanism's exploding to bits and sending the spool into the sea.

In my defense, it was a Mexican panga that weakened the spool the week prior, when he ripped across my stern at 30 knots and tripped over the floating line while I was reeling it in — also sending the spool into the drink. After polite waves and a few big smiles they hucked the mess into the sea and blasted off again.

Miraculously, their 75-hp outboard didn't cut the line but instead rolled it up into a five-foot rat's nest that took me two midday siesta sessions and four cervezas to untangle.

So here we sit, in paradise, day three and the boat hasn't dragged. The worst part is trying to fall asleep to the sounds of waves crashing on the rocks just 50 feet away, but I have come to trust that my plan is working and our home will continue to balance on the brink of disaster in the name of adventure. Every day, after two to three hours of homeschooling, we explore another corner of this small village, seeking out swimming holes, cute stray dogs, and cheap tacos.

It's been seven months since we left the San Juan Islands of Washington. We have anchored in over 80 destinations down the coast. And being fiscally lean in the pocket, we have only stayed in marinas on five occasions. We don't mind though — marinas just don't have the same perks as, say, having an island to yourself. As a result, the kids, now ages 10, 12, and 14, have come to prefer the wild unmarked places where we choose to drop the hook. Our plan is working!

It turns out the Extreme Family Blending Experiment has been more successful than we could have imagined. Years fly by when you're having fun. And now it no longer feels like we are blending as much as just a close-knit family trying to squeeze every drop out of this lime called life.

But, all good things must come to an end, and those ocean crossings will have to wait for a while. We have lots of reasons that we need to get back to our families and friends. So, sadly, we are seeking new stewards for our amazing yacht to allow her to continue to deliver brave souls to the far-flung corners, just as she was built to do. Thank you, Tuwamish!

— adam 3/10/18

Zihua SailFest — Another ¡Olé! Year

The 17th Annual Zihua SailFest on February 5-11 was a spectacular success. The seven-day fiesta raised 2,109,923 pesos ($112,000) to provide educational opportunities for our least-advantaged children. The events included a welcome dance, concert, auctions and raffles, a chili cook-off and street fair, a gala dinner and daily sailing events. Approximately 80 cruisers and their local land-based supporters volunteered to organize and administer the events.

Forty-three sailboats from around the world — mostly from the US and Canada — participated. The cruisers were the heroes of the fiesta, taking more than 1,200 donating guests on sailing trips. Prominent local and international musicians donated their talents to perform sunset concerts at sea. Cruiser committee chairfolks, Tim and Donna Melville, from the Nanaimo, BC-based Baltic 42DP Northwest Passage, deserve special recognition for their promotion, organization, dedication and just plain hard work. They inspired all of us, and even found time during their 10- to 12-hour working days to buy a home here. The sailing events raised nearly 600,000 pesos ($32,000).

The Zihuatanejo community has enthusiastically embraced the dreams of the cruisers. More than 200 local businesses and artists donated gifts and services for the SailFest auctions and raffles, raising about 250,000 pesos for the kids.
Compassionate annual donors, including SailFest co-founders Richard and Gloria Bellack, retired teacher Jane Fiala, cruiser Pete Boyce, SOB Volleyball Vacations, and many others contributed more than $45,000 US.

Zihua SailFest, in partnership with local government agencies, Rotary Clubs, local donors, generous construction material suppliers and parents of the children, has built 13 new schools, as well as 110 classrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and civic plazas at existing schools, and established a nutrition program that provides 30,000+ school meals a year to hungry children, and has helped to provide hundreds of academic and English-language scholarships. Literally thousands of underprivileged, bright-eyed young Zihua scholars have benefited from the cruisers' educational initiatives.

Did I mention that we had a hell of a lot of fun while doing it?

For more, see and

— lorenzo marbut

Latitude founder, and longtime publisher/editor, Richard Spindler, helped found SailFest back in 2001. That first year, only a handful of boats took part and the event raised $2,900. As mentioned, this year, there were 43 boats and the total was more than $100,000. Cruiser Pete Boyce sent Richard this note, which he forwarded to us:

"Richard, when you had the first gathering of cruisers in Bahia Zihua and came up with the idea of contributing to a local children's cause, did you ever dream it would have reached the current magnitude? Almost $1,000,000 US net toward the local school and children's needs!

Local expats have provided the administration to make it happen every year, and each year's cruising sailors have a good time supporting it. It has become a yearly destination for some supporters. Along with the Bellacks, Lorenzo, Carol and many other supporters, it has been my privilege to have a small part in its

— pete boyce 2/26/18

2nd Annual Barra Fiesta

The picturesque community of Barra de Navidad held its 2nd Annual Barra Mexican "Fiesta Sabores y Sonidos" (flavors and sounds) over the three-day weekend of February 16-18. The festival treated both land- and sea-based visitors to a fantastic taste and preview of the treats that await them in the area.

The waterborne portion of 'BarraFest' is modeled on Zihua SailFest, with a parade of boats, sailboat rides and other activities; while the celebration as a whole is conceived with the same goals of raising money to help the local community. The dates of this year's festival, as with the last, were set for the weekend following ZFest, which makes it fit tidily between that event and other scheduled activities on Banderas Bay or in the Sea of Cortez.

Ten boats took part in the boat parade and provided the sailing fun, while townsfolk and visitors provided a sack lunch and beverage, along with a 500-peso donation. "Each mini-cruise provided a view of 'Christmas Bay' as we see it," wrote co-organizers Pat and Carole Macintosh of Heartbeat.

All moneys raised will be used to rewire the secondary school, "so students will be able to use computers at the same time the air conditioning is running," says Carole.

— pat and carole mcintosh 3/5/18

Cruise Notes:

Did you catch that list of 'The Most Dangerous Cities in the World' that did the rounds last month? At the very top: Los Cabos. Yes, that Los Cabos! And La Paz is #6! Overall, according to the list, the 14 Mexican cities that made the list make Mexico second only to Brazil (17 cities) on the 'dangerometer'. The US was fourth, behind Venezuela.

The list was compiled by the Mexican anti-violence think tank Seguridad, Justicia Y Paz (Security, Justice and Peace), which ranked each city according to its homicide rate per 100,000 residents.

"If you're one of the 10,000 people I've led to Cabo as part of the Baja Ha-Ha in the last 24 years, or been one of the gazillion tourists who visit there each year, you're probably laughing your ass off at the claim. I know I am," wrote Latitude 38 founder (and Baja Ha-Ha Grand Poobah) Richard Spindler on his Facebook page.

"I'm not disputing the fact that Cabo may have the highest number of murders per 100,000 residents of any place in the world, but while that statistic might be correct, it's also completely misleading.

"The murders are a part of a terrible battle between drug cartels for the southern Baja drug business. While the majority of Mexicans are about the nicest, kindest and most peaceful people in the world, there is a segment of the population that is about the most bloodthirsty in the world. Fortunately, like most people in the drug world, they kill one another, not tourists. And almost always in the barrios or at least away from tourists."

What's in your spares locker? Years ago we sailed with a money-poor but enthusiasm-rich fellow named Bill who had all sorts of weird, wonderful — and cheap — solutions to problems that would send most sailors scurrying to the chandlery to solve. One we had forgotten until just recently (when we saw it mentioned on a cruising forum) was that in one of his spares drawers, there was one of those wax rings that you put under a toilet bowl (not a marine toilet, a house toilet) when you install it. As anyone who has performed this task can tell you, the wax used for this remains soft and pliable even when cold and is so sticky that — trust us — it will get on or in everything you touch, including your hair, clothes, the steering wheel, shoelaces . . . Bill used it for things like bedding deck hardware, and stuffed some under the rubber cover of his mast boot to help seal that. We don't necessarily recommend those uses, but one thing he did say is what makes us bring it up now — he felt the wax would work well as a temporary patch if the boat ever got a small hole under the waterline… or as a 'cement' to hold on a larger patch until you could get to somewhere safe. We think so, too.

Ni and Krissy Orsi of the Dolphin 460 Finalmente spent most of the winter at home in Stockton, but are headed back this month to their catamaran, which berths in Sicily during the cold months. They cruise the Med, usually with family or guests aboard, from May through October. Stops on the itinerary this year include Sardinia, Corsica and Elba. In August, they will arrive in Santa Margherita Ligure (near Genoa), where their daughter lives, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. A highlight of last summer's cruising (the Greek part of which was featured in Changes in December) was a visit from granddaughter Cristina, who spent several weeks aboard.

Berkeley sailors Mitchell Andrus and Quincey Cummings ­— whom we featured in one of our Young People, Old Boats installments, and both of whom have contributed words and pictures to Latitude — are headed through the Panama Canal as we write in their new boat, Esprit, the "last Kelly Peterson ever built."

"We'll be leaving Panama around the 28th or 29th of March, and will be headed north to San Francisco Bay without many side trips, and hope to be in Berkeley by May 10," Mitch wrote in their first newsletter. The couple recently started QM Travels, "An experiential vacation supported by sailing and nutrition education, dubbed Holistic Adventure Travel." Esprit will be the mothership for the couple's new venture. Quincey studied nutrition, and the couple are self-described foodies, so good eating will play prominently in the experience they're

"Esprit was built for the original owner to cruise and compete in races like the Transpac and was maintained to the highest standards," Mitch wrote. "In 2000, a pair of engineers with a young son bought her to circumnavigate the globe over 17 years. Thankfully, they maintained Esprit to the highest standards. She is ready for another circumnavigation!"

Speaking of the Panama Canal, it turns out we just finished reading the same book as Stan and Sally Honey. David McCullough's The Path Between the Seas describes the building of the Canal, and the Honeys had a good reason to be reading the award-winning book, as they've recently transited the Canal aboard their Cal 40 Illusion.

An important requirement for passing through the Panama Canal are no less than four line handlers to control the boat through the turbulent locking process. Coming from the pedigree that Honey does, he wrangled some real ringers. Their crew mates included Tom Condy, Sylvia Seaberg and Kerry Deaver, which surely made Illusion the best trimmed sailboat to ever cruise the Canal.

Tom and Sylvia were also among the 'line handers' for Sally (along with Slyvia Petroka) in the 2001 Lightship Race aboard Illusion, when Jim Puckett caught a memorable shot as she raced back to the Gate.

In a recent 'Lectronic Latitude ("That Sinking Feeling," March 12), we noted that if sea levels continue to rise, future sailboat racers on the Bay might be rounding new marks — like the clock tower at the Ferry Building.

While it was all in good fun, several readers reminded us that climate change is no laughing matter, that rising sea levels are scientific facts (despite what anyone in Washington DC says), and that many of the effects of climate change may already be irreversible.

A bit more Googling revealed that if all the land ice — just the stuff that's over land — were to melt, sea levels worldwide would rise 216 feet. National Geographic did an amazing time-lapse graphic of that process, which showed that, worldwide, many of the world's great cities would disappear, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego (not to mention the entire state of Florida). California's Central Valley would be a giant bay, and the 'new' Sea of Cortez would reach almost to where L.A. used to be.

Are you a cruiser? Do you have a story to tell? Would you like to see it told in Latitude? It's easier than you might think. The majority of stories that appear in Changes in Latitudes are from folks just like you. Other than a bias toward West Coasters (but not always, if it's a really unique story), we are equal-opportunity publishers. We don't discriminate on the basis of age, gender, size of boat, number of masts, number of hulls, how long you've been cruising, or your annual cruising budget. We welcome stories from rank beginners as much as seasoned veterans — and everyone in between — because that's a fair representation of who's out there (and because, let's face it, everyone was a newbie at some point). The subject matter can be as widely varied as cruising itself. From day one back in 1977, part of Latitude's mission has been to celebrate as many sailors as we can.

And we're always on the lookout for new voices, new people and new boats. Never written before? Doesn't matter. If it's a fun story, we'll make you sound like Steinbeck. (Well, okay, at least literate.) Never really taken photos before? The new smart cameras and phones are so good all you have to do is point and click. Do please try to send a variety of photos that include head shots of you and your 'first mate', your family, the boat either at anchor or sailing, life aboard, etc. Contact us at .

Missing the pictures? See the April 2018 eBook!


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