May, 2003

With reports this month from 13-year-old Tristan of Delphis on completing a circumnavigation; from Sanderling on being hit by a megayacht off Sint Maarten; from Siesta on Acapulco; from Örnaerie on having to issue a mayday in the English Channel; from Gypsy Warrior on a late start on the Puddle Jump from San Francisco; from Felicity on getting ready to finally depart New Zealand; from Mystery Tramp on The Ocean Is A Woman CD; from Alisio on being lost at Manele Bay, Lanai; from Elsewhere in defense of Bahia del Sol, El Salvador; and lots of Cruise Notes.

Delphis - Cal 39
Tristan McMillan, 13
Notes On A Circumnavigation
(Victoria, Canada)

Seven years ago - on July 29, 1996 - my family and I started our circumnavigation aboard our Cal 39 Delphis from our homeport of Victoria, Canada. Since then we have visited 39 countries, enjoying all of them. We have been down the West Coast of North America, across the South Pacific, to New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Med, across the Atlantic, the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal and up the West Coast again. We will finish our circumnavigation in Zihuatanejo, then head up to Victoria to be home after seven years to the month.

In all our travels we've only had a few major misfortunes: 1) We lost our backstay in the middle of the Indian Ocean when the bottle screw broke; 2) We lost our steering on the way from New Zealand to Niue when the chain broke; 3) We were knocked down by a huge wave off the coast of Venezuela; 4) We had to replace our engine in Singapore; 5) We have blown out our main, jib and spinnaker; and 6) We have been through three computers. The good thing is that none of us have suffered any harm. Our biggest medical problem was my brother Fraser came down with a mild case of malaria in New Guinea.

Some of our favorite places were Niue, Suwarrow, New Guinea and Australia. We consider a country nice when there is good fishing and diving, nice people, low prices, and easy cruising. Our fishing experiences around the world have been amazing. In Canada we caught salmon, which is delicious but gets monotonous. Tuna are found in all oceans of the world, and has been our most frequently caught species. Mahi mahi are beautiful to catch, but our favorite for eating is wahoo.

My best fish story doesn't involve a fish, but rather a 25-foot whale. About 800 miles northeast of Trinidad & Tobago, we were delighted to see two large minke whales. They didn't just surface and swim away, but came alongside and surfed our bow wave as though they were dolphins. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. When one of the whales came up behind us surfing the big swell, our fishing line suddenly went tight, so I grabbed it. It had a strong pull, but then went slack. I then pulled it in to find one of the hooks straightened out. I concluded that we'd briefly hooked the fin of the whale! After two hours of playing, the whales swam away into the depths of the Atlantic.

Our family has seen and done some amazing things in the past seven years. While in Egypt, we saw the pyramids, the Sphinx, the Temple of Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings and Queens. On our way to the Marquesas, we were as far from land as it's possible to get in the world. We saw the huge Komodo dragons in Indonesia. While at Suwarrow we dove with sharks, and while at Niue we swam with sea snakes. We hunted and ate fruit bats in New Guinea with a man from the Sepik River. We have crossed the international dateline and equator twice, and while in Indonesia we were able to anchor right on the equator and swim back and forth between the northern and southern hemispheres a few times.

Now that we are almost home - only 2,500 miles to go - there are a number of things we are looking forward to. My Dad wants to be able to use his workshop; my Mom wants to have a bath; my 15-year-old brother wants his own personal space - and I want all three! I was six and my brother was eight when we started our trip, so we don't remember much about our home. But since we have a house with a yard on a lake, we're looking forward to it.

I've learned a lot in the past seven years. Everything from bargaining in the bazaars of Asia, to opening coconuts, to exotic fishing methods. I have also learned that people are pretty much the same all around the world - they only want to live ordinary lives, have enough food, and have friends. I'm glad to have done all the things we've done, because they will be with me for the rest of my life.

- tristan 4/15/03

Sanderling - Cabo Rico 38
John Anderton
Hit By A Megayacht

I've just been involved in a collision with a 148-foot motoryacht!

Last December I left Trinidad to singlehanded my way up the islands of the Eastern Caribbean to Sint Maarten. On March 11, I left Simpson Bay Lagoon at the 0530 bridge opening in preparation for moseying back 'down island' to Bequia where a friend would join me for a three-week sail. Having anchored in Pelican Bay for the night, I left the next morning for what I expected would be a 20-mile sail to St. Barth.

Having been underway for about an hour, at 9:30 a.m. I went forward to the mast to shorten sail. At the time there was a large motor vessel approaching from the rear, but it was about 300 yards away and appeared to be crossing my transom. The next time I looked, however, he was just 20 feet off my port bow doing 15 knots as he crossed my bow! Since I was reefing my main with the jib backwinded, my boat was barely moving. Nonetheless, my bow hit the motoryacht about 10 feet back from its bow!

As I was under sail and he was motoring in unrestricted water, I had the right of way. That's a small consolation, of course, when sailing into what amounts to a brick wall. I was wearing my safety harness, so I stayed with my boat. Although Sanderling's mast stayed up, things were confused at the bow of my boat, as the sails were only halfway up, parts of the rigging were broken, and there had clearly been damage to the bow of my boat. I lowered the staysail and, after verifying that no water was coming in, started the motor.

It took the big motoryacht about a mile to turn back to me, but the skipper immediately called the marina he'd just left to render assistance. Two young men from the marina soon boarded my boat to help me take her back to the marina. When I arrived at the marina, I was able to see that the bowsprit and about a foot of fiberglass on my bow had been sheared off, and there was a six-inch hole in the front of my boat. There was also damage to the headstay, roller furler, woodwork, and stainless steel. But thank God Cabo Rico makes a sturdy boat.

In any event, I'm all right, and the motoryacht has agreed it was their fault and will pay all expenses. So here I am surviving another adventure. While we are waiting for bids and arrangements for my lodging during repairs, I'm staying at the most expensive marina in Sint Maarten, where the owners of the motoryacht will be picking up all my tabs for the restaurant/bar, swimming pool, Internet, and cable TV. The repairs are expected to take three to four weeks.
I've since met with the crew of the motoryacht, and we had a brief discussion about singlehanders lying ahull keeping proper watch versus the helmsperson of a 175-ton motoryacht keeping proper watch. It appears that the motoryacht crew had been so intent on dialing in their autopilot to their computer charts and GPS that they didn't even know I was in the area until they heard the collision! I consider myself lucky that it was not worse.

- jon 3/15/03

Jon - We've made the Sint Maarten to St. Barth trip dozens of times and are a little shocked that the motoryacht didn't have a better lookout along that route. After all, it's darn near a nautical freeway with all the ferries, megayachts, charterboats, cruising boats, fishing boats, and smugglers travelling between the two islands. On the bright side, you now get to enjoy the high life at an upper end marina on someone else's tab. And don't worry about the money, as they could replace your boat and gear with new for what it costs to run their megayacht for just a week or two.

By the way, if, as we presume, FKG will be doing your metal work, make sure you stop by and say 'hi' to our buddy Shag Morton. For when it comes to characters of the Caribbean, Shag's near the top of the list. For even in that part of the world there are few guys who can sail as well, party as hard, or derive such glee from setting off fireworks as the nearing-50 Aussie. What's more, you should see him pole dance on megayachts of the rich and famous on New Year's Eve in St. Barth. We never laughed so hard in our lives.

Siesta - CSY 44
Ed & Daisy Marill & Crew
(Marathon, Florida)

As we had been at anchor in Zihuatanejo from December 17 until March 6, it was very hard for us to say good-bye to such a beautiful place and leave so many cruising and Mexican friends. Zihua has, without a doubt, turned out to be our favorite place on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. We were now on our way to Florida with Richard and Kathy Cavannaugh as crew. We first met the couple last year in Mexico where they were cruising their beautiful catamaran Out of Africa.

As we were coming out of Zihuatanejo Bay, we were amazed to hear the crews of Priceless and Serafin on the VHF - for they were about 100 miles away just north of Acapulco. Thanks to the 'skip', they were coming in clear as a bell. We soon learned they were both going to bypass Acapulco - which we would soon find out was a real shame!

After an overnight passage that included several hours of glorious sailing, we arrived at the Acapulco Bay approach waypoint - 16°48.3N, 99°53.3W - where were found ourselves facing a large, beautiful bay surrounded by green cliffs dotted with beautiful homes and a beach with a gazillion mega hotels. We left Isla Roqueta to port, and once inside the bay saw several sailboats at anchor in the pass between Isla Roqueta and the north end of the point framing Acapulco Bay.
We veered to port, looking for the Acapulco Club de Yates area, which is tucked way into the northwest corner of the bay. We called them on 16 but were told that there was no room at their docks. As we approached the large dock area - full of megayachts Med-moored to the Club de Yates - we saw the PEMEX sign on the southernmost side. There is a marked channel leading into the breakwater and into the fuel dock. Although the cruising guides suggest calling and reserving a spot for fueling, other yachties on the VHF told us to proceed right to the dock if there was room. Which we did. The friendly attendant helped us with the fueling operation, where diesel was 4.88 pesos/liter.

While at the fuel dock, Edmundo, a man who had been mentioned to us by Tom and Joanne Collins of the Newport Beach-based Misty Sea, asked if we needed any services. Having just changed our oil, Edmundo furnished us with a large pail to get rid of our old oil. We gave him a nice tip. When we asked about a mooring, he told us that we could use any of many empty moorings directly across from the yacht club's private docks. He said that the boats that own these moorings hardly use them during this time of year. He also advised that in the unlikely event that somebody approached us to ask for a modest payment, we should ask if they owned the mooring. The alternative to these moorings was anchoring in 60 feet of water - with short scope because of the other buoys around. By the way, we quickly learned that there's a nice breeze in Acapulco Bay that blows everyday starting in the morning.

The Club de Yates is not a marina per se, but rather a private club which extends docking and club privileges to boaters when they have room. Virtually all the boats are Med-moored, and there are a lot of them, many of them huge megayachts. For example, Larry Ellison's 192-ft Ronin was moored here. We'd previously seen Ronin in Zihuatanejo, where she had been at anchor for over a month.

Jose Maria Marquez greeted us at the Club de Yates office, where we paid $25 a day for use of the dinghy dock, the beautiful pool, the clean air-conditioned showers, and the use of the club restaurant by the pool. We paid a total of $150 U.S. for clearing into Acapulco and clearing out of Mexico - this included a late penalty since it was after 2 p.m. on Saturday. When we head south, we plan to anchor in one of the outer bays at Huatulco, wait for weather to cross the Tehuantepec, and only go into Puerto Madero - the last stop in Mexico - if there's an emergency or if we need fuel to get to Barillas, El Salvador. We're hoping to sail as much as possible, however.

Nearly across the way from the Club de Yates is the Acapulco Marina, sometimes referred to as La Marina. This marina was hard hit during the '97 hurricane, and many of the docks are in disrepair. Even so, they do have room for a few boats, and you can leave your dinghy there as well. Tackless II reports that Gilda will do your check in and out for free if you take a berth at La Marina.

From the Club de Yates, you can take a 40 peso - about $4 U.S. - taxi to La Quebrada, where the cliff divers delighted us with their daring. You pay 25 pesos to walk down 300 steps to the place to view the dives, which go on day and night. We went to the 7:30 p.m. performance, and recommend that you get a spot on the wall about a half hour before the start. Don't leave before the end of the show or you'll miss the dive from the very top of the wall.

We have enjoyed eating at the 100% Natural restaurant, and then busted our kitty with an unforgettable dinner at the El Olvido restaurant. When it comes to an idyllic setting and service, El Olvido has as good as we've experienced. We are grateful once again to Misty Sea for the recommendation. Taxi drivers know where the restaurant is on the southern end of the malecon just past a rotonda and near some bungie jumps. The newer southern area of Acapulco, the Diamante, is full of casinos and discotheques, and is as luxurious as you will find in any top beach resort.

The buses in Acapulco, some of which stop less than a block from the club, are not to be missed. Since each one is independently owned, they try a variety of ways in which to distinguish themselves. Some have colorful paint jobs based on landscapes or themes. They might also have fancy flourescent lights and music - which may or may not be very loud. The trip along the malecon costs 3.5 pesos one way, and is well worth it. The buses marked Wal-Mart will take you all the way to the store at the southern end of the malecon. It's a great place for provisioning.
Last night we went to the bullfights. We got the cheap 130 peso seats in the sun, and watched four bulls die. It was a powerful educational experience. We're glad we went, but we won't be going back anytime soon.

As we prepare to leave Acapulco, we are glad we stopped here. It is a big city, with all of its advantages and disadvantages, and we leave with fine memories.

- ed, daisy, richard and kathy

Örnaerie - Rassy 31
Ivan Rusch
Mayday In The English Channel
(Moss Landing)

Örnaerie and I left Nieuwpoort, Belgium, at noon on March 7 bound for the English ports of Dover, Portsmouth, and Falmouth. After that, my plan was to sail to La Coroña, Spain, then Gibraltar and the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

My grand plans came to a halt a few hours after we started when a Force 7-8 gale hit halfway to Dover. The steep chop resulted in Örnaerie pounding severely and her boatspeed to drop to almost nothing. Then I lost steering, and was adrift until I could get my emergency tiller rigged. By this time I decided to retreat to Belgium for repairs. Weather was not my only problem, as the English Channel is among the most trafficked shipping lanes in the world.

Just 20 miles from shelter at Zeebrugge, my port jib sheet end knot came open, allowing it to come out of the block, fall into the water, and wrap around the prop. So now I didn't even have my engine. I issued a mayday which was picked up by a nearby fishing trawler, which stood by and relayed my mayday to Coast Guard at Zeebrugge.

By the wee hours of Sunday, three rescue boats were on the scene - three because they'd been told I was either singlehanding or had 10 people aboard. The first thing they wanted to know was whether or not I was alone. It seems that yachtsmen have been caught smuggling illegal aliens to the United Kingdom, as once they are ashore no identification is required and they are in a safe haven.

Örnaerie was taken in tow, during which time I got a little sleep. Three hours later I was awoken in the calm waters of Zebrugge Yacht Harbor. Once secure, I slept for another 16.5 hours. The harbor has since been flooded with reporters and well-wishers. The Belgian newspapers have been publishing photos of me and Örnaerie as well as the story of our rescue. One television crew spent three hours doing a story on me and I'll be on another station tonight.

I realize that I was very fortunate, as I was working with two inches of knowledge and 36 inches of luck. I now know that sailors shouldn't venture across the English Channel without a sufficient weather window. In any event, I will be repairing Örnaerie until about April, so she'll soon be stronger and more beautiful. I've got some problems with my sails, too. The main was damaged in the wind and my jib - as well as my hull - got big oils spots on them. The wreck of the car carrier that sunk in the English Channel after colliding with a freighter is still leaking oil, and it's not just the birds that are suffering. There are some incompetent captains on the bridges of many big ships passing through the English Channel. At least the damage to my boat is easily repairable.
I learned a lot from the experience, for out of even unpleasant experiences comes something positive. Anyway, the longer I hang around Belgium, the better the southbound weather will be.

- ivan 4/10/03

Readers - Many of you will recall that Rusch didn't learn to sail until his mid-70s - after which he bought his sloop and sailed her down to Panama and across the Atlantic to Denmark. Despite the fact that Rusch had lost the use of his engine, a mayday - which is for situations in which lives are in immediate danger - was not appropriate. A regular call on 16 for assistance would have sufficed.

The photo of
Örnaerie on the previous page is from the '50s when she was owned and raced by her builder, Christoph Rassy. Originally from Bavaria, Rassy had moved to Sweden with nothing but a bicycle and a desire to build ocean-going sailboats. He later joined forces with Karl Hallberg to create Hallberg-Rassy boats, one of the best known and respected brands in the world today.

Gypsy Warrior - Freya 39
Rick Gio
The Puddle Jump, S.F. Start

As I write this, me and my crew of Randy and Jan Grant are becalmed at 22°56'N, 125°17'W - or about 850 miles west of Cabo San Lucas. We didn't join the Puddle Jump until April 8, and unlike most folks we started from San Francisco rather than Mexico. We had perfect sailing the first two days out of San Francisco, broad reaching in northwest winds and sailing in the sevens. Then a low pressure system hit us from the north, and we had even more fun under screaming winds and mountainous seas. As we came out of the low pressure system and into the northeast trades four days later, we had an interesting early morning.

While half asleep in my bunk during the early stages of my off watch, I had recurring dreams of smelling the shore and seaweed. At 0730, after using the head and just before diving into my bunk, I saw, in the half light of dawn, a peculiar shape on the floor of the main salon next to my bunk. It turned out to be a flying fish, about 10 inches long. It had apparently followed the ILS approach, under the dodger, through the main hatch, and touched down on the galley sole, ending up in the 'hanger' next to my bunk. What a landing! Unfortunately, it was his last. I took a round of the decks to look for any of his kamikaze brethren, but found no other brave souls. The three of us on the boat are all private pilots, so we held a ceremony in appreciation of the fish's flying skills before committing him to the deep.

One of the nice things about our passage is the self-run Puddle Jumpers' Net, which has been a great source of camaraderie and information. This is true even though we are the tail end Charlie, with most other boats near the equator.

By the way, we had no trouble getting 90-day visas for French Polynesia. Jan simply went to the French Consulate on Bush Street in San Francisco and - with an application downloaded from their website, and all the other requested information - got all three of us 90-day visas in about an hour. Anthony, a member of the Consulate staff, was a big help. In fact, the biggest problem Jan had in getting the visas was finding her car in the parking labyrinth without the aid of a GPS.

A puff of air has just come down the main hatch, and I think the wind is filling in from the northeast. It's time for us to go on deck, trim sails, and reset our windvane 'Monty'. May you always sail faster than your garbage!

- rick 4/16/03

Readers - Rick raced with us to La Paz in the early '80s when we had a Freya 39. He's had his own Freya for over 20 years, having raced and cruised her to Hawaii and Mexico numerous times.

Felicity - Tashiba 31
Ken Machtley & Cathy Seigsmund
Enjoying New Zealand

Kia Ora from New Zealand! It's been quite a long time since we've written an update, so we figured we should let our friends know how we've been doing down here before we leave this great country.

Our activities since we last wrote include being volunteers for the Louis Vuitton Cup (which was the Challenger series for the America's Cup), touring New Zealand with our moms, crewing with our friends Jan and Signe Twardowski aboard their Sundeer 64 Raven on their passage from Tonga to New Zealand, Christmas, and two more trips to South Island with visiting friends. Add in the excitement of the America's Cup, the opportunity to catch up with other cruisers who left us here during the winter to visit the tropics, and some major work to Felicity, and there's been a lot going on. In fact, for photos and journal entries on all of this, see the Journal section of our website at

Work on Felicity is progressing, and she now sports a new dodger, bimini, sun awnings, and interior upholstery. We've made a list of the most critical jobs to finish before departing New Zealand, and as of today it's up to 97 items. If this is like when we left Seattle, when one item is completed and taken off the list, we'll think of another item to add on. Major projects include rebedding various fittings to keep the boat watertight, adding a sink pump-out and new galley faucet, re-plumbing our head - toilet lines, yuck! - painting the bottom, and . . . well, lots of stuff. Our plans are to finish our projects and possibly do some local cruising over the next month or so. Cath's birthday is on June 3, and since she doesn't want to be on passage that day, it means we'll either leave New Zealand in early May or sometime between June 4-30. Our plan is to head to Fiji for the first two or three months, then head to New Caledonia for two to four weeks, then to Vanuatu for at least two months. We're most excited about the opportunity to visit Vanuatu, as many of the islands are quite remote and are not often visited by typical tourists. Come mid-October, we'll start looking for a weather window to Australia, and hopefully be berthed in Mooloolaba - 90 minutes north of Brisbane - by mid-November. Like all good cruising plans, this is open to change.

- ken and cathy 4/01/03

Mystery Tramp - Roberts 44
Travis Burke & Emily Hansen
The Ocean Is A Woman
(San Francisco)

Travis is a cruiser, boatbuilder, avid fisherman, and singer/songwriter. This spring he made his debut as a recording artist with the release of The Ocean is a Woman. His songs were inspired by his first year of cruising. I think he'll have you sipping cervezas and humming along as he takes you south of the border with his fresh blend of country rock served with a dose of sea salt and a squeeze of lime.

A California native, Travis hasn't followed a narrow path. He was a structural iron worker, helping raise skyscrapers such as the 75-story Library Tower in Los Angeles. Leaving the high rises for the high seas, he traveled to Southeast Alaska to fish commercially. He later found himself living the life of an ex-pat in Costa Rica, running his own kayak expedition outfit. While there, he met a cruiser who had built his own steel boat. Inspired to do the same, Travis returned to California, where he met his mermaid, Emily Hansen, a photographer and aspiring writer. Together they built their 44-ft Bruce Roberts cutter at Harris Yacht Harbor in Bay Point. From there they sailed down from the Delta to San Francisco Bay, then out the Gate where they turned left.

Cruising has given Travis and Emily the opportunity to explore their love of making music and art. He began writing about the people they met and his impressions of the cruising life, while she took photos and hula-hooped as they sailed south to Baja. After their first year - during which time Travis performed at the local bars, beaches and boats in Baja, as well as Loreto Fest - the couple returned to Northern California to create The Ocean is a Woman CD.

The CD is a collection of Travis's original songs, including Chasing a Dream, an anthem for the cruisers lifestyle; Two More Cervezas, a rockin' tale of freedom found; and Naked Canadian, a humorous true story with an uplifting bluegrass beat. Also on the enhanced CD is A Visual Voyage by Emily, which is a digital photo slideshow comprised of 62 photos, each with a description. A Visual Voyage depicts the couple's first year as cruisers.

With the March 2003 release of The Ocean is a Woman on their own Mystery Tramp Records label, Travis and Emily returned to full time cruising and are currently in the Sea of Cortez. Travis will be performing at the upcoming May 2003 Loreto Fest in Puerto Escondido, while Emily will be in charge of the entertainment committee. The Ocean is a Woman CD is available now at

- emily 4/01/03

Alisio - Lapworth 40
Ron Martin
How My Boat Was Really Lost

I was included in last April's Puddle Jumpers article, but as a lot of people know by now, I lost my beloved Alisio in the Hawaiian Islands. I have received many emails expressing condolences from people who have heard about my misfortune through the Southbound and Amigo Nets or other grapevines. While I warmly appreciate these messages, I have noticed that some contain inaccuracies about what really happened. Herewith is my account:

I left Wahiawa Cove on Kauai - one mile east of Port Allan - on the morning of March 10 bound for Manele Harbor on Lanai, an upwind passage of about 200 miles. As had been the case since early February, I was singlehanding. There was absolutely no wind, so I motored the entire distance over a period of 33 hours in a flat calm. The entire first night I was off the busy waters of Oahu, which prevented me from getting much sleep. At daybreak I was abeam of Waikiki. I thought about going in to get some rest, but the unusually calm conditions offered an excellent opportunity for me to push eastward.

As I ultimately approached Lanai, I calculated that it was going to be tight whether I would be able to make it there before dark. As I pressed on to Manele, I also programmed my GPS for an alternative harbor on the south coast of Lanai. As I got closer, I decided to increase the rpms and go for Manele. I made it just before dark, but the inner harbor seemed too tight for me to maneuver in and Med-tie alone, so I opted to go to the outside anchorage. I dropped the hook in 12 feet of water outside the harbor entrance, where my boat rode very comfortably through the night.

I awoke around 6:30 a.m., enjoyed a long morning coffee in the cockpit, and then got ready to pay a visit to the harbormaster. During my onboard shower, Alisio began banging into the rocks. Rushing on deck, I tried to pull her into deeper water with the windlass. When that failed, I tried to power off with the engine. It quickly became apparent that my boat was trapped inside the rocks.
I got a line to a large RIB that was heading out of the harbor, but the operator gave up after a couple of unsuccessful tugs. He yelled over that he had to pick up some daytrip passengers. By this time there were some other people in the water trying to help, and they got a line from one of the large day-trip catamarans to me, which I then attached to my main halyard. I thought the cat operator was going to try to crab me off, but his plan was just to swing Alisio stern to the sea. Unfortunately, by this time she was on her port side and taking on lots of water. In such shallow water that she was no longer in danger of sinking, her fate was sealed.

It took only 45 minutes from Alisio's first bang on the rocks to her being aground on her side with a big hole in her hull.

My first mistake was not going into the alternate harbor, which would have left me with a safe margin of daylight to get properly settled for the night. Instead, I arrived at a new harbor right at dark, and was dog tired to boot. The combination caused me to misread the cruising guide and anchor in the wrong place. Secondly, I put out 90 feet of chain, which turned out to be too much. It was fine until the tide went down and waves came up in the shallow water, pushing Alisio toward shore. When she got to the end of her chain, she was in much too shallow water. Not checking the depth and looking over the side in the morning were additional errors. After that, I'll leave it to be God's choice.

I did issue a mayday and spoke briefly to the Coast Guard, but by that time it was too late for them to help. More than anything, it resulted in some lieutenant later badgering me over the harbormaster's cell phone about my responsibility to get the one gas jug and six diesel jugs off the boat so I wouldn't be subject to heavy fines. He also informed me about my additional responsibility - with the threat of more fines - in getting what was left of my boat out of what was an environmentally protected area. I was given this information while in the first stages of shock at watching my lovely boat - which was my nest egg and way of life - die on the beach. I had no hull coverage on her.

Fortunately, it was at this time that Harbormaster Sherry Menze took over. She let me sleep on her small sailboat, washed and folded four loads of my laundry, fed me for three days, made her cell phone available to me, made all sorts of arrangements - and introduced me to Pat Ross of Sea Engineering. Ross happened to be there with a salvage barge to dredge the habor. He sent two divers over to check out my boat, and they reported there was a 3 x 5 foot hole in her port side - with a huge rock stuck in it. I hired his two divers to help get as much gear off the boat as possible before dark. They worked like maniacs, and we salvaged lots of gear. Fortunately, most of the electronics were high and dry on the starboard side. A high tide that night pushed Alisio broadside to and higher up on the beach - butting up against a keel, which is all that remained from a boat that a suffered a similar fate less than a year before. I was then able to walk aboard without getting my feet wet, and for the next two days proceeded to take off more gear and personal effects.

Sherry and a few other locals helped me carry this heavy gear 100 yards down a boulder-strewn beach to the road. She also allowed me to sort the gear out on the lawn behind her office, while Terry, her cohort, built a shed to store it all in until I could get it transported to Oahu. As harbormasters go, they don't come any better or more helpful than Sherry Menze, who is a sailor herself and therefore has the understanding needed for the job. More importantly, Sherry has a very large heart.

Fortunately, I did have liability insurance, and Sea Engineering was hired to dispose of my boat. Yes, "dispose" of my boat. I did not stick around to witness it. Ross later told me that it was ugly, but he spared me the details. I was offered a picture of Alisio on the beach, but declined. I can assure you that I have the mental image of it in my mind's eye constantly, and I'm sure it won't go away for a long time.

Will I get another boat and go back out again? I would love to, but I probably won't. Money is one problem. In addition, I don't think I have the energy to prepare another boat - and 'camping out' on a bare bones boat is not my style. Meanwhile, I am staying with my son here in the islands, spoiling the grandbabies.

- ron 4/15/03

Ron - We can't express how sorry we are about your misfortune. But perhaps your 'lessons learned' will help keep another mariner from a similar fate.

Elsewhere - Cabo Rico 38
Matt Johnston
Bahia del Sol, El Salvador
(San Francisco)

Before writing this letter, I had to verify that Chewbacca was ever really here at Bahia del Sol, El Salvador, because their report in the March Changes was so misleading. Not only is there good grocery shopping, but it's a good place to do a major provisioning - and you don't need to rent a car to do it.

The preferred method is to hop on a bus right in front of the hotel and go to Zacatecoluca. This may take a little over an hour each way, but it's an interesting trip through the real Central America. The bus stops right out in front of the Despensary Don Juan, which is a clean and large American-style grocery store with many American products. They have just about everything you will find at your local Albertson's in the States. They also have wonderful meats, including everything from steaks to cold cuts. You can feel free to load up your cart, because if you spend more than $100, the store will deliver you and your groceries - free of charge - all the way back to the launch ramp at Bahia del Sol. If you don't need $100 worth of food, you can buddy up with another boat to get the service. Cruisers have done this again and again over the last year.

The little shops within walking distance of the hotel are kind of hit and miss, as should be expected. However, you can depend on getting potatoes, eggs, and some veggies at the little stores and the pupusaria just down the street. The pupusa is the national dish of El Salvador, not the hot dog as Chewbacca claimed. It is true that the meat in Herradura is less than wonderful, but you can get sealed cold cuts, hot dogs, and frozen chickens there that are all acceptable. As for the vendors spraying Raid on the fruits and veggies to keep the bugs away, I don't think so!

It is a long bus ride from Bahia del Sol to San Salvador, but anything and everything is available in the capital. They have shopping malls that equal any you have ever seen in the States, both in size and quality. And almost any kind of service is also available. While anchored in Bahia del Sol, I have had a new stainless steel fuel tank fabricated, and on another occasion I had my engine block re-sleeved at a shop in San Salvador. Jose will be your personal chauffeur for a day in San Salvador for $35, and he is happy to take a second couple for the same price. After spending $60 at Puerto Escondido, Baja, to go in to Loreto to check in, we thought this was a good deal. At Bahia del Sol, you check in right on the premises.

Like other cruisers here, I have been depending on water made right here in the estero by my Spectra watermaker. I do only run it within an hour on either side of high tide, so I am limited to two hours at a shot. If you need to supplement your fresh water supply, the usual five gallon bottles of purified water are now available at the dock for $2 U.S. Actually, the water on the dock is not all that bad. There are no bacterial problems, it's just a little high in salt content. Quite of few cruisers put it right into their tanks, although we chose not to.

It is amazing how differently folks view the same spot. Chewbacca has repeatedly written negative articles about Bahia del Sol, and the cruisers who have been here for a long time are puzzled by it. While here, the Winship family seemed to enjoy the place immensely, and Bruce was heard to chortle that he was living in this wonderful place while spending less than $3 a day. Most cruisers who have come here love the place and aren't traumatized by crossing the bar.

I have been here a long time and have become an advocate of Bahia del Sol, but I think the place certainly justifies it. It's been a very good place for me and a terrific place to spend some time.
Update: I've just learned that Despensary Don Juan no longer offers free delivery to Bahia del Sol.

- matt 4/10/03

Matt - We think you're being overly defensive about this. Both you and Chewbacca seem to agree that there are well-stocked stores if you're willing to make a two or three-hour roundtrip to the city. We think most cruisers would agree that a place that requires so much travelling for a good selection of food could not be considered a great place to provision. It doesn't mean that it's not a terrific place, just that it's not a terrific place to provision. But that's not a big deal, as many of the greatest cruising areas in the world are similarly poor places to provision - such as most of the Sea of Cortez, Tenacatita Bay and Chemela on mainland Mexico, most of the South Pacific, the San Blas Islands, all of the offshore islands of Venezuela, almost all of the Caribbean except Puerto Rico, all of the Bahamas, and so forth.

Cruise Notes:

No more domestic despachos for Mexico? When we arrived in Cabo at the beginning of April, we heard some very intriguing news. According to Enrique Fernandez - General Manager of the Cabo Isle Marina, and a person who has long been tuned in to what's happening in Mexico City - Mexico's version of our House of Representatives has passed legislation that would eliminate visiting yachts from having to repeatedly check in and out with port captains and immigration. Boats would still have to check in once when arriving in Mexico, and once before leaving Mexico - but not when just moving from port to port inside the country. Before anyone breaks out the biggest bottles of the best tequila, Fernandez cautioned that the legislation would have to pass Mexico's version of our Senate before it became law. If and when that might happen is not clear. In addition, it's presumed that a new scheme might involve cruisers having to purchase a cruising permit, and there's no idea what that might cost. Compared to the current situation - which is a tremendous waste of everyone's time and money - almost any change would be a tremendous improvement.

"Our most recent trip to our new boat on the Atlantic coast of France was much better than the first," advise Ken and Nancy Burnap of the Santa Cruz-based Amel Super Maramu 53 Notre Vie. "We had a couple of hours between connections in Paris, so we enjoyed a sidewalk lunch at a bistro. We finally made it back to our boat at 6 p.m. - just in time for an early dinner and a solid 10 hours of sleep. But we didn't suffer from jet lag - maybe it was the 'No Jet Lag' pills Nancy found in a Santa Cruz health food store - and were able to start up the next morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Anyway, Nancy's son Tommy and his girlfriend will be here on the 17th, so we hope to take off for points south on the 19th. There are a number of places we want to see along the coast of Portugal, and we hope to travel up the Guadalquivir River to Seville, Spain, by May 6 to drop the kids off. From then on we'll be on our own and not anxious to make many overnight passages. We intend to stop in Gibraltar around the 10th, then bounce along Spain's Costa del Sol for a week or so before setting out for the Balearic Islands. After a week of island-hopping in that area, we'll head north to the South of France. By the way, we've had some very pleasant weather so far. Two of the days were rainy and cool, but all the rest have been sunny and warm. We went sailing yesterday and it was positively tropical, with Nancy in shorts and Ken wearing a T-shirt."

The Atlantic coast of France, Portugal, Gibraltar, the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands, and the South of France - does Ken and Nancy's itinerary make you as green with envy as it does us? Our only advice to them is not to rush - particularly not through Mallorca in the Balearics - where there are many great inland daytrips to be enjoyed while the boat is anchored in places such as Andratx or Sóller.

While the Burnaps were in La Rochelle, we wonder if they didn't bump into Rick Fleischman, who spends the summer running Sound Sailing crewed charters in Southeast Alaska aboard his Catalina 50 Bob. He writes, "It's February, which makes it the off-season for my Sound Sailing charters, so I'm currently skippering the new 52-foot Amel ketch Andrea B. from La Rochelle to the Canary Islands and then Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. The owner is aboard, but has me along because he doesn't have that much offshore experience. I spent 10 days in La Rochelle taking delivery of the boat, as it took awhile to get all the systems down ­ Andrea B. has just about everything you could put on a boat: electric winches, electric furling and windlass, air conditioning, two freezers and a refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer, water-maker, generator, radar, two autopilots, chart plotter, and so forth and so on. It's complicated, of course, as 12-volt DC, 24-volt DC, and 220-volt AC systems try to co-exist with our North American 110-volt appliances. The boat has four watertight compartments - as well as a crash bow and a crash keel - so she's a very strong boat designed for ocean cruising."

Hampered by strong winds in the Bay of Biscay that had the five-person crew lined up on the rail puking, followed by light winds in an area of high pressure, the Andrea B. made it to the Canary Islands in 14 days. It took her another 19 days in lighter than expected winds to make the 2,750-mile crossing to Guadeloupe. Fleischmann advises that the second leg of the voyage - with its more consistent warm winds from aft - was more enjoyable than the first leg.

We made our first visit of the year to Catalina during mid-April to find that the sky was gray, the island was green, and Avalon had a mere 2,300 visitors. Things change slowly at the island - except, it would seem, for the cost of moorings and shoreboat rides. Last year we paid $36/night for a 63-ft mooring, but this year it's $42 - and we're told that the fees are likely to be raised again in July. Ouch! Hasn't the news reached the island it's no longer the late '90s and most businesses are trying to hold the line on prices? In terms of percentages, the jump in mooring fees is nothing compared to the jump in shoreboat fees - which have catapulted from $3/person each way to $4/person each way. And that doesn't even include a tip for the mostly very friendly boat operators. So if a family of four were to use the shoreboat to go ashore three times a day, they would end up . . . well, in the poorhouse. So make sure your dinghy is ready to go before you head over to Catalina.

"We are sitting at Barillas Marina Club, 10 miles upriver from the coast of El Salvador and 50 miles from our next destination, the Gulf of Fonseca," report John and Susan Pazera of the South San Francisco-based Tayana 42 Compañia. "We're here with two other Tayanas - Journey, a Tayana 37 with Curt and Becky Buchanan from Portland; and El Regalo, a Tayana 52, with Charles and Teresa Wilsdorf from Las Vegas. We all did the 2001 Ha-Ha, and we've been buddyboating since Huatulco, Mexico. Today we went into the nearby jungle and saw some incredible monkeys. Now I'm sitting under a palapa, complete with Internet hookup, overlooking the swimming pool, with Compañia tied to a nearby mooring for $8/night. We've been inland to San Salvador, and also to visit some Mayan ruins. It's a pretty awesome country, mostly sugar cane fields and cocoa plantations, but with volcanos visible in almost all directions. Although El Salvador is a very poor country - 85% live in poverty and the average wage is $134/month - it's now free and the people are very friendly. Not many gringos visit, so we get lots of stares, but we're glad to have come before hordes of tourists. Having been to Guatemala and now here, we wish we'd come to Central America soon, as it's both beautiful and unspoiled."

"We're part of the Puddle Jump - again - but are starting a lot further south than most others," report Brent and Susan Lowe of the Walnut Creek-based Royal Passport 47 Akauahelo. "In the next couple of days we'll leave Panama for Ecuador, the Galapagos, and then the Marquesas. We say we'll become part of the Puddle Jump 'again' because in January of 2002 we left Mexico on a fast track, thinking we'd sweep through Central America and the Galapagos before joining that year's Jumpers in the Marquesas. But after we discovered how great the cruising is in Central America, we had to postpone our trip across the Pacific. There are great anchorages, beautiful jungles, and much less hassles than in Mexico. So we stayed for two seasons, and summered in Ecuador where - unlike Central America - there is no rain or lightning. The officials in Central America have come up with an interesting concept - you check into a country, cruise around it anywhere you want for a few months, then check out. You don't have to check in every time you move a few miles as in Mexico. And here in Panama, most cruisers don't even check into the country for the first few months. As long as you're 'underway' toward Balboa, it's fine with the officials. Another thing that's nicer than Mexico is that the fees aren't too high."

"Even in 'paradise' you can have some little problems," reports Bernard Slabeck of San Francisco, who is crewing aboard Jerry Lumbard's Lagoon 38 catamaran Beyond Reason in Belize. "Yesterday we snorkeled over the reef around Seal Cay. The water was warm and visibility was in excess of 100 feet, so we thought that we'd found another slice of paradise. Alas, my pie had a little bit of bad crust. I assumed that after a month down here, my buns had become seasoned enough for me to snorkel in the buff. Mesmerized by the incredible beauty of the reef, I lost track of time and got quite a burn. It's no fun sitting down today, and I'm hoping my buns don't peel. While I was sitting, we moved on down to the Sapodilla Cays, which are the southernmost four miles of Belize's 350-mile long Barrier Reef that we plan to explore. Clouds began rolling in late in the afternoon, and the temperature dropped to a comfy 82 degrees. Around dinnertime the wind shut down, leaving the surface of the Caribbean perfectly flat and the water crystal clear. As it became semi-dark, it was eerie to look overboard, as we couldn't see the water. It appeared that the catamaran was just hovering eight feet above the sand and grass bottom! After what looked to be a three-foot barracuda meandered by, the clouds opened up and washed off the boat. We ran forward to the tramp with our salty clothes for a free freshwater rinse. Life was good, as it rained buckets with absolutely no wind for 15 minutes."

"Sometimes Latitudes are hard to come by in the South Pacific, so we just finished reading about the controversy of your cover photo of a lovely young girl," writes Fred Roswold of the Seattle-based Serendipity 43 Wings - currently in Scarborough, Queensland, Australia. "Anyway, the woman at the helm of Wings in the accompanying photo is Judy Jensen, the most beautiful woman I know. It's hard to believe from the way she's dressed, but the photo really was taken in the South Pacific."

"I'm sure you know about the 'protected area' near Loreto in the Sea of Cortez," writes Mary Shroyer of Marina de La Paz, "but I'm not sure if you've heard that all the islands in the Sea of Cortez have been declared an "Area de Proteccion de Flora y Fauna. As such, a 20 peso - about $2 U.S. - person/day charge has been instituted for the "use and enjoyment" of the islands. While the regulations and fees were primarily established for kayak groups, campers, and others who spend the night on the islands, the fee is to be levied on everyone who steps ashore - cruisers included. The government authorized the fee on January 1, but it hasn't been enforced until now because they didn't have the means. Now they have the means for at least minimal enforcement. Proof that fees have been paid will be in the form of brazaletes - wristbands - which will be issued when one pays the fee. So, for example, when a cruiser pulls out of La Paz heading north, and plans to spend two days at Isla Partida, one at Isla San Francisco, one at Isla San Jose, and one at Isla Monserrat before putting in at Puerto Escondido, he/she would need to purchase five brazaletes per person - for a total of about $10 U.S. per person - prior to leaving La Paz. By the way, forget about taking a dog to shore for a run or a poop - dogs are no longer allowed on the islands at all.

"People under six and over 60 are exempt from the fee, as well as residents - which includes foreigners who have FM2 or FM3 status showing a local address," Shroyer continues. "The fees for the brazaletes can be paid in La Paz or Loreto. Here in La Paz, they can be paid at the regional office - which means you don't have to run off to a bank to get a receipt first as with clearance papers. The brazaletes will probably also be available from the kayak companies, the tour operators, and maybe even here at the marina for our clients - although it's not something we're anxious to get involved in. Although the brazaletes should be dated, they won't be in the hope that an honor system will work. The government is trying to be reasonable with cruisers, understanding that weather and other factors don't allow mariners to travel a specific route at a specific time. If a patrol shows up and people ashore don't have brazaletes, the patrol will sell them rather than issue fines - at least for the time being."

If the fees for visiting the islands were to remain low, and were truly used for the preservation of the island environment, we at Latitude wouldn't have a problem with them. Unfortunately, clear and consistent prices and policies have never been the norm in Mexico - as the following letter demonstrates:

"When we left Marina de La Paz last month, Mary Shroyer of Marina de La Paz had just posted a translation of the new regulations for the islands in the Sea of Cortez, including the 20 peso per person per day charge," report Monte and Micha Mohr of the Durango/San Carlos-based Misty Sea. "Fortunately, there was still no fee for just anchoring at the islands. But we're now up at Puerto Escondido, where a giant sign proclaims similar rules - but a 50 peso ($5 U.S.) person/day fee - and not just for going ashore at the islands. Fees are apparently also due if you scuba dive, sail, kayak, or fish."

The Mohrs also report there are other changes at Puerto Escondido: "You can buy measured amounts of potable water at the pier at $2 U.S. for 200 liters, or $3 for up to 500 liters. They also take garbage at $1 U.S. for a big bag. The next trash drop going north is Conception Bay, while to the south it's Evaristo. With this in mind, it would be nice if cruisers stopped burning their trash out on the islands and on the Baja beaches. At every stop we made, we found burned cruiser - not fishermen - trash. Cruisers need to remember that one match does not make the trash invisible, and cans and bottles don't burn."

We completely agree with the Mohrs on the the matter of trash. When we sailed up to the islands in the Sea of Cortez 18 months ago, we were dismayed to find many charred piles of rubbish left by cruisers who didn't seem to think it was worth a slight effort to leave a pristine area the way they found it. What are these people thinking? We were hoping to use Profligate for a big cruiser trash clean-up at the islands of the Sea of Cortez this year. Unfortunately, the scheduling didn't work out. Nonetheless, we think that now more than ever it's incumbent upon all cruisers in the Sea of Cortez to clean up all the old piles of cruiser crap and dispose of it properly. For if we cruisers aren't going to be proactive about keeping Mexico's national parks pristine, we'll soon find that we won't be able to visit them at all - no matter how much we're willing to pay. So can somebody please explain what's the obstacle - other than sheer laziness on the part of cruisers - to putting together a Sea of Cortez Cruiser Clean-Up?

Thinking about trying to do a lot of offshore sailing without a liferaft? Then check out pages 62-63 of the April issue of Yachting World magazine, which have two spooky looking photo sequences. One is of the Catalina 42 Never Say Never sinking under sail near Kick 'em Jenny, north of Grenada in the Caribbean. She started taking on water for no apparent reason and shortly thereafter sank bow down. The other sequence is of the Catana 44 Bad Bad that hit a whale about 10 miles off St. Lucia, also in the Eastern Caribbean, holing the starboard hull and breaking one of the rudders. Although the singlehander abandoned the cat, she was later found partially afloat several days later.

Near the beginning of this month's Changes, we had a report from John Anderton of the Alameda-based Cabo Rico 38 Sanderling, who informed us that he'd been hit by a mega motoryacht while trying to make the 20-mile crossing between Sint Maarten and St. Barth in the Eastern Caribbean. In a subsequent email, he had the following to add:

"Sint Maarten is a great place to sail to, as there are delightful people and excellent parties after the races. Despite the collision, I've enjoyed my stay. The Wanderer probably knows the captain of the megayacht that struck my boat, as he's been working out of here for years. You'll notice that I didn't mention any names in my Changes about the accident. As I'm self-insured, I have an agreement with the captain. As long as I don't broadcast names or file a report, he'll pay the $22,000 in repairs out of his own pocket - thereby saving his job and avoiding any hassles with his insurance carrier. He even set me up in a guest house while my boat is on the hard. It works for me, as I just want to get my boat fixed. In any event, things work a little differently down here than in the States. By the way, while down in Bequia in January, I ran into Ray Jason - a frequent contributor to Latitude and the author of Tales Of A Sea Gypsy. He's doing great, having bought back his old San Francisco-based Farallone 29 Aventura. He was happy to give me some timely advice about singlehanding. Collison or no collision, all I have to say is, 'Is this a great way to retire or what?'"

It's easy for folks to be confused as to the difference between the major Easter Caribbean sailing centers of St. Martin and Sint Maarten. They are actually two parts of the same rather small island, with St. Martin being the French side, and Sint Maarten being the Dutch side. Similarly confusing is the fact that the nearby island of St. Barthélemy more commonly goes by St. Barth or St. Barts.

"Reader Skip Gorman wrote in a couple of months ago asking about the likelihood of southerly winds in the spring along the coast of Baja, which would make his 'Baja Bash' much easier," write Tom and Judy Blandford of the Marina Bay (Richmond) based Imagine. "Unfortunately, he's not likely to find any southerlies in the spring - in fact, May and June are probably the worst times to come up the Baja coast. If he could delay his trip until July, he might not have to Bash at all. We didn't depart Cabo until July 10, and had a great time coming north, with very little wind and no water over the bow. It was hurricane season, of course, and there's always some risk associated with traveling along the Baja coast during that time, but good planning and a reliable boat can minimize the risks. It's a huge generalization, but early season hurricanes are few in number and tend to travel west away from land, making a Baja landfall unlikely. The key is to look for a low pressure system off the mainland coast of Mexico, which can be a precursor to the formation of a hurricane. If there is one, stay put. We listened very carefully to the Chubasco Net weather report prior to our departure. The bad news is that most insurance companies don't offer coverage during July, so you have to think carefully about doing it.

"Before heading north, we got our hands on a copy of Capt. Jim Elfer's The Baja Bash," the Blanfords continue. "It had a lot of good ideas. Per one of Elfer's - and Latitude's - suggestions, we avoided Cedros in favor of the more offshore San Benito Islands. Having anchored at the San Benitos, it's now one of our favorites because it's full of wildlife. Not only is there spectacular diving, but we saw killer whales, two blue whales, and elephant seals fighting on the beach. Finally, it also gives you a better angle while heading over to the mainland than if you anchored at the northern tip of Cedros."

We have to agree with your main points, as generally speaking it is much easier to come up the coast of Baja during the summer months. The rare exception, of course, is if there were an early season hurricane that didn't head west and caught your uninsured boat out in open waters. Speaking of the Baja Bash and alternatives to it, we don't understand why any shipping companies don't do a run from Puerto Vallarta to Southern California at the end of April or May. Many years ago there was a service that put boats on a ship and delivered them back to Southern California - but then somebody ran off with all the money. Subsequently, the shipping of recreational boats has boomed all over the world, but the service hasn't been offered again from Mexico to California. Maybe we'll call one of the shipping companies and see if we can't get them interested.

"Joanie, my sweetie, arrived safe and sound by plane here in Fiji the day before yesterday," reports Blair Grinols from the Vallejo-based 46-ft Capricorn Cat. "She is suffering from the heat and humidity, but after all my time in the Marshall Islands, I don't even feel it. We are in the Vuda Point Marina, which is centrally located between Lautoka and Nadi. After an afternoon of snacks and poolside drinks, plus a full dinner complete with delicious coconut ice cream at the beautiful hotel next door, the bill came to just $35 U.S. - including the tip. You can't beat that. We've since moved on to the famous Musket Cove YC on the island of Malolo Lailai - which is just 12 miles west of the big island of Viti Levu. We're getting ready to go to shore to a BBQ with Glen and Glenna of Calafia, and Tom and Nancy of Equinox. I'm still not as impressed with Fiji as I was with the Marshalls, but we've still got a lot of this country to see."

It goes without saying, Blair, that you were missed at the Banderas Bay Regatta.

What if they gave a week-long cruiser party and hardly anybody showed up? Unfortunately, that seems to be what happened in La Paz in April. Over the last year or so there has been considerable animosity between the Club Cruceros de La Paz and the for-profit Paradise Found YC. The former wanted to continue running the 20-year-old Sea of Cortez Sailing Week out at the nearby islands, but seemed to have trouble achieving critical mass in organization and enthusiasm. Meanwhile, the more energetic folks at Paradise Found YC wanted to ramp up a bigger and more picante event - more like Sea of Cortez Sailing Week had been in the early years - and call it Island Madness. As is often the case when two people or organizations can't get along, everyone loses. Club Cruceros finally backed off by canceling their traditional Sea of Cortez Sailing Week for a much smaller event in La Paz that's wrapping up as we go to press. As for Paradise Found YC, they went ahead with their April 7 to 14 Island Madness. On paper it looked as though it would be nonstop activities, but they may have misread the cruising community support, for the attendance was reportedly very light.

"After we left Puerto Vallarta, we took Humu Humu to the Sea of Cortez for a few weeks," writes David Crowe, owner of the 70-ft cat. "On April 7, we happened to anchor at Isla Partida, and noticed there were 17 boats anchored for the first night of Island Madness. We dove the Fang Ming wreck the next day, and liked it so much that we decided to do it again later in the week. So on Thursday night we were back, and counted just 16 other boats for Island Madness, with maybe just six dinks ashore in the evening for activities. On the first two race days, we saw no more than four boats participating. The weather was not as conducive to sun 'n fun as one would prefer, but it was all right. My view of Island Madness is that it wasn't happening. Part of the reason is that Loreto Fest has really taken off and that the Puddle Jump crowd was absent because of the much more appealing doings down at Paradise Marina in Puerto Vallarta."

The Wanderer - who conceived of Sea of Cortez Sailing Week, and who was very active in the early days when it was not uncommon for over 200 boats to participate - is deeply disappointed at the event's demise and the lack of a major spring event out of La Paz. We're hoping that in upcoming years everyone can come together to create an event worthy of that tremendous cruising area.

Speaking of the Club Cruceros, they'd like it known that they are not-for-profit, and that their main activities are support programs for underprivileged local children, and supporting cruisers having a tough time in Mexico. For example, there's the case of Chuck and Linda Allen of the Florida-based Ingrid 38 Tumbleweed. "It was their life's dream to sail to Mexico, starting with the 2002 Baja Ha-Ha. Unfortunately, Chuck unwittingly became involved in a fracas on the Police Dock in San Diego where, as a result of trying to help, he suffered a serious knife wound in the back by a transient. A local hospital was able to treat Chuck, and upon his release some time later, he and Linda took off for Mexico. Arriving in La Paz just prior to Christmas 2002, Chuck suffered a relapse when it was discovered that his diaphragm had been punctured by the weapon, infecting his abdominal cavity, and causing peritonitis. His life in jeopardy, he was admitted to a La Paz hospital, where he still is, being fed by an I.V. He still faces other surgeries. Linda has also suffered several illnesses. With medical bills mounting daily - even in Mexico it's costing $4,000 a week to be in the hospital - they are so destitute that they have been forced to put their vessel up for sale. Both the Club Cruceros and Paradise Found are holding fund-raising efforts, and a collection will be made at Loreto Fest. Anyone interested in making a contribution to this very worthy cause should send a check to: Club Cruceros Tumbleweed Fund, Union Bank of California, Castle Park #40, 1342 Third Avenue, Chula Vista, CA 91911."

With the summer cruising season almost upon us, we have some quick advice: "Life is short, live it to the fullest."

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