With reports this month from
Lady B on getting ready to cross
the Atlantic; from Bella Via on budget
cruising; from Learjet on sailing
from San Diego to the Marquesas; from Altair
on crossing the Indian Ocean; from Scirocco
on the Dry Tortugas; from Ushuaia
on going north from San Diego to Sidney, B.C.; and Cruise
Lady B - Norseman 447
Helmut & Mary Draxl
Getting Ready For TransAtlantic
(Newport, Rhode Island)
We are furiously getting Lady B ready for the St. Augustine,
Florida, to Portugal ARC Europa, which is the less-popular version
of the November Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) from the Canary
Islands to the Eastern Caribbean. We leave May 5, stop at Bermuda
for a few days, then sail to the Azores where we have another
short stop. The final leg is to Lagos in southern Portugal. We
have lots to do: get a new EPIRB, update all the safety equipment,
have the liferaft inspected, buy a new radar, check the rigging,
and do a last haulout. Nonetheless, our crew - Helmut, Mary,
and our daughter Jenny Draxl, who just graduated from Yale -
are very much looking forward to the trip.
We did the Ha-Ha with Lady B in 2001, so we've taken our
time getting to Florida. We spent lots of time in Mexico, coming
home each year for hurricane season. Last year we left Lady
B in Barillas Marina in El Salvador. We were very impressed
with the marina, its staff, and their concern for safety. We
highly recommend it as a place to leave a boat for the season.
We left Barillas in October for Santa Elena, Costa Rica, and
then made a quick trip down to Puntarenas. We left Lady B
on a Costa Rica YC mooring while we flew home for the Christmas
holidays. Once again, it worked out great. In mid-January we
headed south to Panama. We had good weather until we got near
Punta Mala at the entrance to the Bay of Panama. We waited out
gusts to 50 knots at the nearby Benea anchorage with several
other boats. It hasn't been a great year for weather, as it seems
all we've done is wait for windows.
Our Canal transit went very smoothly. We center-locked the entire
way, and spent the night on Lake Gatun before arriving at the
Panama Canal YC the next day.
Our trip to Florida was pretty uncomfortable, and there was lots
of ship traffic. Now that we're in Florida, we understand about
shallow draft boats, as it's tough for boats that draw more than
six feet. It's not something we expected, but we arrived at St.
Augustine in a fog that's as dense as we've ever seen on San
Francisco Bay! We're now in St. Augustine Marina, with Max, our
trusty sea dog, who has been with us since the Ha-Ha and who
will sail to Europe with us.
You may remember that we cruised the Caribbean for six years
back in 1979 aboard our old boat Genever, a 35-ft steel
sloop. In fact, our daughter Jenny spent the first four years
of her life cruising. In retracing some of our stops in Costa
Rica and Panama, we've found that not too much has changed in
the last 20 years. In fact, they seem to be using the same diesel
engines for the launches at the Balboa YC.
We're excited about our trip to Europe - especially since Jenny
is joining us for the passage. We plan to spend the next three
years in Europe.
- mary & helmut 04/05/05
Bella Via - 44-ft Junk Ketch
J. Carson & Monica Guildersleeve
Cruising On A Budget
Artists see things in a different light. Here's proof.
In 1995, artists Jack Carson and Monica Guildersleeve of British
Columbia had been home for two years following an inadvertent
five-year circumnavigation with Monica's daughters Payana and
Isha aboard the Swain 36 Island Breeze. It had been a
great trip, but reentry into the 'real world' had proved to be
surprisingly difficult. The couple was lonely because they no
longer had much in common with their old friends, and they were
In November of that year an opportunity presented itself. If
they could find a suitable boat and be ready to go by the following
May, they could have a reasonably lucrative contract doing survey
work for the very lucrative geoduck clam industry in Canada.
The boat would have to be extremely rugged, as the job would
require that they live and work aboard on the rough and weather-lashed
west coast of Canada between the northern tip of Vancouver Island
After several months of looking in vain for the right boat, and
with the May deadline looming ever closer, the impoverished Jack
came up with a strictly right-brain idea. He would build a new
boat from scratch. The only thing more surprising than that wild
idea is that he completed the boat - the 44-ft cat-rigged junk
ketch Bella Via - on time. Out of the need to keep costs
to a minimum, many recycled materials were used. The identical
masts, for example, are aluminum light standards from the Vancouver
airport. "We got the last two," laughs Jack, "all
the others had been sent to the Far East to be melted down."
Jack and Monica used the boat for survey work for the geoduck
clam industry that first year, and got the contract renewed every
year for the next six years. Two years ago they were underbid
which, given the difficult and dangerous nature of the work,
didn't exactly break their hearts. When we bumped into the couple
at Punta Mita on Banderas Bay a few months ago, they were in
the early stages of their second long cruise. "This time
our plan is to have no plan," says Monica.
"We'll go a lot slower than the last time, and stay in places
longer," adds Jack. "And this time we may keep a foot
in both worlds."
That Jack built a boat to suit a job opportunity is not that
surprising, as he and a partner had built seven boats in the
'80s, all of them out of steel to Canadian Brent Swain's 'origami'
construction process. "The idea is that you fold a big sheet
of steel the way you do paper in order to make a very simple
and inexpensive hull," explains Jack.
"Swain is a real character who more people in the sailing
world ought to know about," adds Monica. "He's the
kind of guy who would think nothing of leaving B.C. in September
- single-handed, of course - to spend the winter in Tonga and
then sail home in the spring. He's an inventor who lives so closely
off the land that I bet he doesn't spend more than $200 a month.
Yet about 150 of his designs have been launched in the last 25
years, and our current boat is Jack's further development of
Brent's original origami concept."
It was working "too long and hard" on building boats
in the '80s that encouraged both Jack and his partner to go cruising
on their own boats. Jack's was a 36-ft twin-keeled Swain origami
prototype that he and Monica christened Island Breeze.
Departing British Columbia in '88, Jack, Monica, and Monica's
daughters Panaya, 14, and Isha, 11, took off on their cruise
without any intention of doing a circumnavigation.
"The funny thing is that our cruise never would have gotten
anywhere were it not for the good people of Northern California,"
laughs Jack. "When we got down to the Bay Area in '88, we
took a berth at Garvie's on the San Rafael Canal. But thanks
to a welding mishap while tied to a dock, there was a fire inside
the boat that melted the windows, destroyed the electronics,
and ruined most of the preparations we'd made during the previous
year. We didn't know if we could go on."
"But then the locals pitched in and did so many nice things
for us," remembers Monica. "One guy let us use his
warehouse to store our stuff, a stranger gave us the keys to
his car - it went on and on. Plus, I got hired right away by
"In reality, the incident really tuned us up for a circumnavigation,"
says Jack, "although doing a circumnavigation had never
crossed our minds. We only had $20,000, so we figured that we'd
make it to Australia after a couple of years and that would be
the end of it."
The five-year trip ended up costing them $40,000 - which is a
ridiculously low $2,000/person/year. But it was still $20,000
more than they had started with, so they had to work along the
"I don't know what it's like out there now," says Monica,
"but 15 years ago it was certainly easy to get jobs. We
tended bar, fixed things on boats, painted signs, and even picked
gherkins in New Zealand. And because I'm an industrial seamstress,
I got a lot of jobs fixing sails and making canvas products.
In addition, Jack and I are artists, so we sold a lot of our
art work at $100 each. We mainly sold art of whatever area we
were in to tourists, but some cruisers bought Jack's renditions
of their boats."
The Island Breeze circumnavigation followed the usual
path, at least for the first half of the trip. "We sailed
the standard route to New Zealand, back up to the South Pacific
for a season, then to Australia, the Chagos Archipelago, Madagascar,
and South Africa. The latter two stops were quite interesting,
as Madagascar had just opened up to foreigners, and Nelson Mandela
had just been released from prison in South Africa. We later
sailed up the islands of the South Atlantic to the Caribbean,
then through the Canal to Costa Rica and Hawaii."
"We really enjoyed cruising Hawaii," says Monica, expressing
an opinion seldom heard. "The Big Island was our favorite,
but all the islands are beautiful and the people were wonderful.
We finally left from Kauai for B.C. in the summer of '93. When
we got back to Canada we just kept cruising for a couple of more
months because we couldn't face the reality of being home."
While returning home was very difficult for Jack and Monica,
the trip seemed to have done a good job of preparing Monica's
two daughters for adulthood. "We had both of them actively
involved in the running of the boat from the very beginning,"
explains Jack. "They stood their watches, had days when
it was their turn to cook, and so forth. We treated them like
"I think they enjoyed it," says Monica, "as we
didn't make them do schoolwork for more than three hours a day,
and there were so many new and interesting places and people
for them to see and meet. Compared to their peers, they seem
to be better around people and more mature. And their cruising
background seems to have helped them step right into their careers.
One is a geographer and the other is an aircraft engineer."
As for Jack and Monica's post-circumnavigation career using their
latest boat as a home, office, and dive platform, it was pretty
"We were hired to do survey work by a consortium of guys
with permits to take geoduck clams in Canada," explains
Jack. "Typically, geoduck clams are palm-sized with two-foot
long siphons that, from the rear, bear a striking resemblance
to women's genitals. Perhaps because of this, the clams are prized
in the Far East as an aphrodisiac. They also make the best clam
chowder you've ever tasted. Long ago, the clams were also found
in California and more shallower waters, but most of the ones
left now are in the rougher and deeper waters of the west coast
of Canada. Some grow to be two feet across, and they can live
to 150 years."
"The industry's big problem," continues Monica, "is
that when there is a certain algae bloom, the clams may develop
a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning - which results
in horrible deaths for humans. George Vancouver's men learned
this terrible lesson the hard way at Vancouver's Mussel Inlet
in the 1700s. Because the toxin-causing bloom varies from time
to time and place to place, the industry and the Canadian government
need to have the clams continually tested to make sure they are
safe for human consumption."
In other words, divers like Jack are needed to continually provide
the industry and government with clam samples for analysis and
testing. Interestingly, Jack would always have a bag of California
mussels with him when he dove, because when it comes to the toxin,
the mussels are like canaries in a cave in that they show the
The survey work required Jack to dive to as deep as 60 feet three
to 20 times a week, often in severe conditions. "I had to
wear a 3/8-inch drysuit because the water was so cold. In the
winter, I often had to dive when there was ice on top of the
water. But the cold was just one problem, as from October on
the wind blew at hurricane force almost constantly. Naturally,
that's when the clams were worth the most. The divers, who make
about $1,000 a day, would even wear headlights underwater in
order to be able to continue working. Those guys live the sea
adventure of a lifetime - and they do it every day! Lots of them
get hurt, and about one of them dies every year."
"Just as crazy," Jack continues, "are the crews
of the two packing boats that constantly make runs with the clams
across the 125 miles of open water between the top of Vancouver
Island and the bottom of the Queen Charlotte Islands. They run
those packers no matter how horrible the sea conditions. I once
sat - because I couldn't stand - on the deck of a packer while
they were loading her. It was blowing 85 knots and it was unbelievably
cold. Like the divers, the crews of the packers get paid well
- but still not enough."
"Wind speeds are relative," says Jack. "During
our five-year circumnavigation, we only had a few blows over
40 knots. One of them, however, was a three-day, 60-knot storm
off New Zealand. We put out a drogue and ran with it. When the
wind shifted from the south to the southwest, we experienced
the classic 'pyramid waves', where every now and then the waves
would come together in such a way that the boat seemed to be
at the pinnacle of a watery pyramid. After that, 40 knots seems
like hardly anything at all. You just put up the smallest sail
and run with it."
"It wasn't so different working off the west coast of British
Columbia," continues Jack. "When you need to dock your
boat in 80 knots of wind, the technique is simple - you ram the
dock as hard as you can with the bow and jump off. After you've
been in some 80-knot blows, 35 knots seems like a light breeze."
"Anyway," says Monica, "it was into this world
of extremely harsh conditions that we entered as babes after
our circumnavigation. It was just our luck that geoducks like
exposed rough water. Thus we had to go up and down the west coast
of British Columbia's islands, often anchoring on a lee shore
in 40 knots of wind so Jack could dive for samples. There was
a lot of pressure, too, because often times the industry had
planes, boats, and crews waiting for Jack to provide samples
that would prove the clams were safe. Time could be money - big
Given Jack and Monica's vast experience both pleasure sailing
and working on the water, we were interested in their review
of marine equipment. They love their John Deere diesel - a common
engine on Canadian tractors - because it's industrial strength.
They also note that they use a commercial fisherman-style self-reeling
hydraulic winch for the anchor. "It's the only way to go,"
says Jack. "We use oversize one-inch line and have 150-ft
of 3/8-inch chain.
Although they used a sextant to navigate their way around the
world, Jack and Monica prefer the more modern method of navigation.
"GPS is the best thing ever!" she says. "In fact,
we bow down to it every day. But we still carry charts and a
"We also believe that radar is a must rather than an option,"
says Jack. "We have an old cathode ray depthsounder as opposed
to a digital one because they give the most accurate picture.
We have a little red Honda generator for backup power. It's a
beautiful little thing."
The couple are also very proud of the hand-carved Bella Via
nameboards on the hull. "They were made by sailor-carver
Godfrey Stephens of Victoria and obtained through barter,"
says Jack. "He has his carvings on many pubs in Canada and
throughout the world. He's painted murals everywhere from Greece
to Yelapa. He built a Wharram catamaran on the beach at Tofino,
the famous surfing beach on Vancouver Island, and christened
her Tompax. He sailed her all around the Queen Charlottes
in the early '70s without an engine - which was quite a feat.
Everybody thought she was the Kon Tiki. He now has a 40-ft
junk-rigged steel boat named Mongo II, which was named
after Mongo I, which he lost on a beach in Baja in '88.
At age 65, Godrey is painting and carving more proficiently than
There's more that's curious about Bella Via than her origami
"Like our previous boat, she has twin keels," says
Jack. "This doesn't make her sail to windward any better,
but it does allow her to be safely grounded in a tidal area or
even up on a beach. For example, when we were coming down the
coast of Baja last fall our depthsounder transducer broke. So
when we got to Turtle Bay, we simply ran our 44-ft boat up onto
the beach near the pier. When the tide went out, we changed the
transducer. When the tide came back in, we floated her off again.
The locals couldn't believe their eyes."
As for the junk rig, Jack's not religious about it. "It
performs well in 15 knots of wind and is very easy to use, but
it's not particularly good in heavy weather or trying to sail
to weather. I just wanted to try the rig because I'm curious
about all different kinds of boat design. I like Garry Hoyt's
sail design ideas. I also like freestanding masts."
Jack and Monica are surprised at how long some of their friends
from their first cruise stayed out. "Ralph and Phyllis Nansen
of Seattle were out sailing on the 1970 Sampson ferro cement
boat Fram. They took off when they were 60 and recently
came back at age 74 - looking younger than ever. We don't know
if we'll stay out that long on our second cruise, but our main
objective is to be physically and mentally active, and to do
a lot more walking, swimming, reading, listening to music and
doing artwork. These are all things we didn't have enough time
to do while we were working and chasing money."
In closing, the couple wanted to put in a good word for Richardson
Bay Harbormaster Bill Price. "We stayed in Richardson Bay
from September to March of last year, and Bill did everything
he could to help us out. What a cruiser-friendly harbormaster.
We sure appreciated it."
- jack & monica 02/15/05
Learjet - N/M 55
Glenn Andert & Chris Vandever
San Diego To Hiva Oa
It's March 27th, and we and our four crew have made it the 2,900+
miles from San Diego to Hiva Oa in French Polynesia. We did it
in 18 days, surprising even ourselves with our speed. We're now
anchored between the beach and the orange range markers in Taahuku
Bay near the town of Atuona.
Last night saw us moseying along at roughly six knots under staysail
and double reefed main, a much-reduced sail plan to prevent us
from making landfall before dawn. But long before first light
we were able to pick up the island with our 48-mile radar. The
first person to see land with their naked eye was Christine,
who saw it 15 miles away just before dawn. The sunrise was quite
spectacular as the islands greeted us. Soon we were able to see
the tiny Fatu Uku, which is due north of Hiva Oa, and the large
island of Mohotani, which is to the south of Hiva Oa. Both are
Hiva Oa is typical of the Marquesas in that it's volcanic and
it has very steep cliffs and spires. For example, Mt. Temeti,
which is adjacent to the anchorage, rises to 3,000 feet and is
normally shrouded in its own cloud. Unlike the Tuamotus, the
islands of the Marquesas don't have fringing reefs - it has something
to do with the water temperature.
We sailed close to Hiva Oa for a long time, making our way from
the east end of the island to the anchorage at Taahuku. It took
so long because we were gybing downwind under just the main.
The slow speed allowed us to enjoy the amazing sight of the island
after nearly 3,000 ocean miles. Then a nice cloud appeared and
drenched us and the boat. It was welcome, however, as it refreshed
the crew and washed all the salt off the boat. During the downpour
we saw a double rainbow over the island.
We had the fishing line out while going along the island. This
was the same bulletproof line - 500-lb monofilament - that I
had used on a passage from Hawaii to San Francisco in 2000. I
also used the same lure - with a hook that looks big enough to
catch a whale. Our technique was simple: throw the lure overboard
and tie the other end of the line to a winch. Every now and then
we pulled on the line to see if there was anything there.
Suddenly there was something there. A monster, in fact, by our
standards! It turned out to be a 34.25-inch yellowtail tuna.
God only knows what it weighed, but it was heavy. After Glenn
cleaned it, we had four one-gallon Zip-Loc bags filled with fillets.
Clearly Poseidon had been happy with our offerings at the equator.
As we were finishing cleaning up the mess - and such a big fish
leaves a big and bloody mess - Glenn dropped the big sponge overboard.
Geez! Since we'd already lost a bucket doing this, Glenn jumped
in and rescued the sponge. He said the water felt refreshing.
We went back and picked him up.
Anyway, Grant put the line out again as he gybed along the coast
to spend a lot of the time in water 200 feet deep. He did this
both for the sightseeing and figuring that he might catch a cousin
of the fish we'd just caught. Sure enough, 30 minutes later we
had another yellowtail on the line. This one was 35 inches, which
meant Grant beat Glenn in the biggest fish contest.
We saw the most amazing sight on arrival outside the anchorage
- a swordfish breeching! It jumped almost completely clear of
the water several times.
We had some confusion when it came time to enter the bay. Elan
had very carefully taken GPS coordinates off the chart, and we
were looking for a range light up on a hill. Elan spotted a tower
on the hillside, which matched perfectly with the bearing on
the GPS - but Glenn was uneasy because the visual landmarks didn't
make sense. Plus, he doesn't trust the GPS to match the charts.
It was a good thing he was skeptical, because as we continued
double and triple-checking, it became clear that something wasn't
right. Eventually we found the real range light and the visual
indicators did make sense.
After we anchored, I checked our position against what it indicated
on the electronic chart. The latter indicated that we were halfway
up the nearby mountain! It was another case of the charts not
being accurate. Many of the charts are from World War II, but
the one we were using for the anchorage was from 1960 - and it
still wasn't right.
The depths in the anchorage were 9 to 14 feet. Learjet
draws 8.75 feet, so we anchored in 11.5 feet - which didn't leave
a lot of water beneath the keel. There were three boats in the
anchorage when we arrived, and not much room for more. After
a little while the two large boats - one French and one from
Belgium - weighed anchor and left. Had we offended them, perhaps
with our American flag?
As soon as our anchor was down, we scrambled to get all the canvas
up. It's quite a bit of work, but without it up it would have
been almost unbearably hot on deck. You need lots of shade in
the tropics. Then we all took a welcome swim. And shower. And
relaxed to music, the last of Grant's port wine, and the last
of the chocolate. Our landfall dinner was sashimi and sticky
rice. There were many requests for sake, but we had none. We
found that the soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger were almost
Now, for the results of our various pools. The women were clearly
the pessimists when it came to guessing how long the passage
would take, as they bet 22 to 26 days. The males guessed 19 to
21 days. It turned out that we were all pessimists, as it only
took 18 days. Glenn was the closest. If we're not mistaken, the
record for San Diego to the Marquesas is something like 14 days,
and was set by a Whitbread boat. The boats in last year's Puddle
Jump from Mexico to the Marquesas - which is a couple of hundred
miles shorter - did it in anywhere from 19 to 30 days.
Glenn also won the pool about how many hours we'd run the engine.
He guessed 40, while everyone else guessed substantially more.
But Elan won the bet for our best 24-hour run made good, as she
guessed 201, which was just two miles less than we actually covered.
We also had one day where we covered 221 miles, but not directly
toward the Marquesas.
It's quite beautiful here in the Marquesas. Green. Very tropical
- duh. And quiet. Frigate birds circle overhead and fish dart
about beneath the surface.
- chris 04/05/05
Altair - Cal 35
Paul Baker And Suzette Connolly
Australia To Africa To Brazil
Here's a short update from we vets of the 2000 Ha-Ha, who have
put many miles under Altair's keel in the last 12 months
December 2003 found us entering Sydney Heads after a great passage
directly from Noumea, New Caledonia. Sydney was a most excellent
landfall, as it's an awesome city to see from the water. They
also put on one of the best fireworks displays on New Year's
We then sailed up the coast to Brisbane, where we left Atlair
for 2.5 months to go home and visit our parents. We returned
in May to haul out and complete the boat projects that were best
done in a First World country. From there we continued up the
East Coast of Australia. The trip up the inside of the Great
Barrier Reef featured some of the best sailing we've had so far,
as it was downwind day-hops in flat water. Lizard Island was
our favorite stop. We also got a thrill from hiking out to Cape
York itself, while our boat was anchored in the bay. Once 'over
the top', we enjoyed Darwin and explored inland to Kakadu National
Finally, it was time to head off on the approximately 6,000-mile
passage across the Indian Ocean to Africa, with five stops at
nicely-spaced islands to break up the trip. Each stop was special
in its own way. Ashmore Reef, in the middle of the ocean, had
excellent snorkeling, and at one point we had nine turtles swimming
around us. Cocos Keeling had a beautiful anchorage off an uninhabited
tropical island, and we found a pay phone on a coconut tree where
we were able to call family and friends using the last of our
cheap Aussie phone cards. Rodrigues Island was quiet and relaxed,
and home to some of the friendliest people we've met in our four
years of cruising. Mauritius had the hustle of a big city, a
blend of different cultures, and good but cheap rum. Reunion
was like a visit to 'Le Metropol' as everything was very French
- but there was also great mountain hiking, plus an active volcano.
Although it was sometimes bumpy, Altair held up well all
the way across the Indian Ocean.
We made landfall at Richard's Bay, South Africa. What a fantastic
time we had exploring the game parks, which are only an hour's
drive away. Seeing the animals of Africa up close in their natural
environment is an experience we will never forget!
With lots of patience and excellent local weather information
from Fred in Durban, our trip around the capes was uneventful,
with stops at Durban, Mossel Bay, and Cape Point. The push from
the Agulhas Current added a boost of up to four knots at times.
Cape Town was fantastic, as there are incredible views of Table
Mountain from the Royal Cape YC. But the wind howls through the
marina at 30 knots on a regular basis. And when the 'Cape Doctor'
is blowing, you have to expect gusts to 60 knots. It makes for
a wild ride - even when tied up to the dock!
As there are limited places to anchor along the coast of South
Africa, it was nice that every yacht club we visited was so welcoming
to foreign cruisers. We left Cape Town in early March, had a
great one week stay on St. Helena, and are now headed across
the Atlantic to Fernando de Noronha off Brazil. From there we'll
continue on to Tobago.
P.S. Suzette's dad picks up a copy of Latitude every month,
and faithfully forwards it to wherever we are in the world. It's
been a great way to keep up with the sailing scene in the States,
as well as cruising information around the world. Keep up the
- paul & suzette 04/05/05
Scirocco - Morgan Out-Island 41
Greg Retkowski & Crew
Visiting The Dry Tortugas
(San Francisco Bay)
Greg Retkowski and I, Cherie Sogsti, both two-time Ha-Ha vets,
have been cruising the Florida Keys for the past few months aboard
Greg's Scirocco. Our sailing buddies, Rennie Waxlax and
Anne Blunden of the Southern California-based Swan 65 Cassiopeia,
came out to join us in Key West. Then the four of us decided
to sail to the most difficult U.S. National Park to get to in
the Lower 48 - the Dry Tortugas National Park.
Six cays make up the Dry Tortugas, home to America's most pristine
living reefs. Garden Cay, the biggest of them all, is 70 miles
west of Key West and is graced by Fort Jefferson, America's largest
coastal fort. The Dry Tortugas were discovered by Ponce de Leon,
who named them after the abundance of sea turtles in the area.
As we sailed up to the spit of sand that is Garden Key, we recognized
one of the four sailboats on the hook. It was '99 Ha-Ha vets
Brian Randolph and Lisa Ritchie aboard their Kelly-Peterson 46
Wasabi. We jumped into our dinghy and reunited with our
Ha-Ha friends, letting 10,000 miles of sailing tales spill out
into the cockpit. Throughout Greg and my sailing adventures down
the Pacific Coast, through the Canal, and up to Miami on Scirocco,
we have reunited with numerous Ha-Ha friends along the way. Ha-Ha
friends are friends for life! No wonder Rennie and Anne will
be taking their Swan 65 on their fourth one this fall.
None of us - except maybe Rennie - travelled all the way to the
Dry Tortugas just to see an old fort. But Fort Jefferson, which
was built with 16 million bricks, is actually pretty interesting.
It was started in 1846, but never completed because it was made
obsolete by the invention of the rifled cannon. But in its day,
the fort's cannons could hurl shot three miles out to sea. Eventually
the fort was abandoned, and later became a haven for pirates,
drug runners, and an inspiration for writers such as Ernest Hemmingway
- and me, Cherie Sogsti.
If you like bricks, the fort was cool. But I preferred to cool
off by jumping overboard and swimming with the monstrous jewfish
that love to congregate under the hulls of the anchored sailboats.
Greg wanted to know if the jewfish was circumcised. Questions
like that prompted the more politically correct of us to change
the name of the fish to goliath grouper.
"I didn't know that fish barked," said Rennie after
he'd swum with a massive grouper for a while. "But when
I got into his territory, he 'arfed' at me." Could the fish
have been angry because the smell of Rennie's seafood dinner
from the previous night was still on his breath?"
The clear waters of the Dry Tortugas are also the home to a colony
of peaceful nurse sharks. Although nurse sharks pose little threat
to humans, our conditioning from the movie Jaws was enough
to get our hearts pounding! As we peered over the side of our
inflatable dinghy and watched three nurse sharks circle below
us, Anne said, "We need a bigger boat," stealing a
line from the movie.
But the sharks and massive grouper didn't scare Rennie. When
the captain of a neighboring boat yelled, "I'm sorry, we
pulled up your anchor," Rennie recognized an opportunity.
Realizing that the captain of the other boat hadn't snagged our
anchor at all, Rennie knew there had to be something interesting
- maybe a pirate's treasure? - down there. So with a glint in
his eye, he slipped on his mask and snorkel and braved the nurse
sharks to jump into the water. The 'treasure' turned out to be
a Danforth anchor with 25-ft of chain attached. "All in
a day's work," Rennie proclaimed.
Sailing in the warm waters off the Florida coast motivated Rennie
and Anne to start planning their Ha-Ha to the warm waters of
Mexico this fall. "We can't wait to head south again,"
he said. "In fact, we're looking to buy a new dinghy next
After our visit to the Dry Tortugas, we sailed back to Key West,
which, because of the eccentric local population, is also known
as 'Key Weird'. It's the southern-most city in the continental
United States, and in addition to being weird, has the most bars
per capita of any city in the United States. Cheers!
- cherie sogsti 04/16/05
Ushuaia - Hunter Passage 42
Jerry & Chris Zerr
San Diego To Seattle
I'm writing in response to a request for information about sailing
north from San Francisco to the Seattle area. Some of us can't
afford to truck our boats north, so we have to do it the hard
way. My wife and I made the trip from San Diego to Sidney, British
Columbia, starting on May 12. We were under no illusion that
it was going to be an easy trip. But I'm a licensed captain and
have done more Baja Bashes than I care to remember. We viewed
the trip north to be an extension of the Bash.
We got beat up - 25 to 30 knots of wind on the nose - at all
the usual places the guide books talk about, but particularly
between San Diego and San Francisco. The further north we got,
the easier our trip became. We waited in San Francisco for what
seemed like forever hoping to get good weather. We passed the
time by taking daysails, enjoying the Marina District, and dining
at all the great restaurants. Finally we got a southerly.
We made the most of the southerly, sailing past Cape Mendocino
with 25 knots from astern rather than on the nose. From San Francisco
north, our main headache was the crab pots. Avoiding them was
like having to go through a minefield.
Almost all the ports north of San Francisco have bar crossings
that can be dangerous under certain conditions. Contacting the
Coast Guard for a bar report is usually recommended. We managed
to enter all the ports we wanted, usually because we had to refuel.
My main gripe about Ushuaia is that she only came with
a 72-gallon fuel tank. We usually carried at least two jerry
jugs of diesel for an emergency, although we've never cut it
close enough to require using them. We found that some of the
fuel docks are mainly set up for rough commercial fishing boats,
making refueling hazardous to a more nicely finished recreational
boat. Long fenderboards help.
We left Coos Bay-Charleston, Oregon, with a forecast of several
days of fairly calm weather. We decided to push as far and fast
as we could because the forecast also called for several days
of gale force winds approaching the Washington coast after the
calm. We arrived off Newport, Oregon, at approximately 4 p.m.
with seas so flat we thought we were on a lake. I took that opportunity
to dump those two jerry jugs into the tank, and we motored on.
We crossed the Columbia River-Cape Disappointment area at dawn
with flat seas and no wind - and feeling extremely lucky.
Pushing on, we arrived off Cape Flattery at dawn again, only
in fog so thick that we couldn't see the bow of the boat. There
is an incredible amount of large vessel traffic in places like
off the Columbia River or in the Straits of Juan de Fuca - something
San Francisco Bay sailors are familiar with. When running at
night or in the fog, we were thankful for our radar, which I
consider essential on any cruising boat.
We pulled into Neah Bay - just inside Cape Flattery - debating
whether we should stop and catch up on our sleep or keep going.
But by this time the weather was changing fast, with gale force
westerlies forecast for later in the day. We refueled and crossed
over to Vancouver Island while the winds were still pretty calm,
being careful to hug the island as we proceeded east. At 11 a.m.
the wind started to build, and we soon had 30 knots from aft,
which gave us a great sail all the way to Victoria.
After we turned the corner and into the lee of Vancouver Island,
we had 15 knots off the port beam and had several hours of great
sailing. During this time we called ahead to Port Sidney Marina
and got a slip assignment. Upon arrival in Port Sidney, we pulled
into the Canadian Customs Dock, called from a dock phone, and
were set for the entire summer. Go figure, Sunday afternoon at
5:30 p.m., no hassles, and no fees.
Although we actually were underway for only 16 days, including
three overnight passages, we covered - according to our GPS log
- 1,280 miles. But the total trip took a lot longer, as we spent
several days waiting out gale force winds in various ports. But
remember, we started from San Diego, not San Francisco.
We spent several days in Sidney, which is in the heart of the
Canadian Gulf Islands. It's a lovely community and a terrific
spot to base out of. We spent the summer cruising in British
Columbia, and loved the beautiful anchorages and many marine
parks. Probably the only disappointment was how crowded it was!
It seems like everybody in Puget Sound and southern B.C. owns
a boat and is also out cruising.
It started raining off and on in August, and by mid-September
the crowds had started to thin out. We kept cruising until late
October, deciding to finally park the boat in Anacortes, Washington,
for the winter. We have decided to cruise farther north this
coming summer, as the crowds thin out the farther up you go.
It has a lot to do with the hazardous rapids and currents.
Would we do San Diego to Victoria again? Definitely!
- jerry & chris 04/09/05
We regret to have to report the passing of Anet Martin, who was
the cook for many of the great adventures aboard Big O when
the Ocean 71 ketch was owned by Latitude. Although she's
been out of sailing for about 10 years, she sailed both ways
across the Atlantic and the Med, did the first Baja Ha-Ha, did
several Antigua Sailing Weeks, and even walked the decks in exotic
ports such as Casablanca. We have vivid memories of her smoking,
drinking, and laughing up a storm at such places as the San Blas
Islands, the Grenadines, St. Barth, Ibiza, St. Tropez, Monaco,
Elba, the Corinth Canal, Marmaris, and Knidos. She was a fine
cook in even rotten weather - we recall the complete Thanksgiving
turkey dinner she prepared in the middle of the Atlantic - had
a great sense of humor, and was wonderful to the boat's two kids.
When the time comes each year to recall all those who sailed
aboard that magical ketch, Anet will not be forgotten.
He's much better, thank you. Blair and Joan Grinols, the subject
of this month's Latitude 38 Interview, are up in Oregon
supervising the construction of their new home. Many of their
friends have been inquiring how Blair is feeling after he took
a nasty fall in the cockpit of their 45-ft catamaran Capricorn
Cat while sailing north from Cabo San Lucas. Athough Blair
was in extreme pain at the time, x-rays later indicated that
nothing was broken. He's now pretty much back to his energetic
self. As for Capricorn Cat, she's in La Paz until the
couple find time to bring her north.
And just after the Latitude issue came out with the story
of the 83-ft sailboat Windward being wrecked on the beach
at Yelapa back in 1958! "While enjoying some drinks and
ceviche at Yelapa last month, Lisa and I heard a scream for help
from a crewmember aboard the 110+ foot motoryacht Panache,"
remembers Leif Vasström of the San Francisco-based Beneteau
51 Solar Planet. "A few minutes before I'd told Lisa
that Panache was either dragging or the crew was deliberately
letting her get very close to the beach. But by then I knew the
boat was dragging, so I ran down the beach to help, screaming
at the top of my lungs and pointing to Panache slowly
backing ever closer to the shore. I finally got the attention
of a water-taxi with two 200-hp outboards, but because of the
language barrier, for the longest time I couldn't get him to
understand that I didn't want him to take me to Panache,
but wanted him to hurry over and try to pull the big yacht to
deeper water. Finally, another gentleman ran down to the beach
and translated - at which point the water-taxi took off like
a rocket to try to help. After what seemed like an eternity of
Panache being just a few feet from dry land, the water-taxi
got a line to a crewmember, and ever so slowly was able to pull
the huge yacht away from the shore. It took two tries, though,
because of the wind and because the water-taxi had trouble getting
the bow of the yacht facing into the wind."
"I believe that the yacht captain and the others were on
the beach," Vasström continues, "initially unaware
of what was happening. To the best of our knowledge, the two
crew who had been left on the yacht didn't know how or didn't
have the authority to start the engines. But once the captain
realized what was happening, he and the others rushed back to
the boat. When we left for P.V. a short time later, a diver was
getting ready to check for damage to the powerboat's props, struts,
and rudders. The crew was standing around the back of the boat
looking somber. But they gave us a 'thank you' for spotting their
dragging boat and getting the water-taxi to pull her out of danger.
We later heard that everything on the boat was all right, and
later saw Panache at the dock. We were happy we'd been
able to assist. The strangest thing was that hundreds of people
could sit on the beach watching but not getting involved. Of
course, once everyone realized there might be a problem, they
all rushed closer to get a better view."
Can you name the modern monarch who expanded his kingdom by 23%
- much of it to the benefit of yachties - without firing a gun?
That would be Prince Rainier III of tiny Monaco, who passed away
last month at the age of 81. Although best known for marrying
American actress Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier transformed the
just-over-half-the-size-of-Golden Gate Park principality from
a fading gambling resort to a modern and vibrant little state.
Early in Rainier's reign, Monaco was described by W. Somerset
Maugham as "a sunny place for shady people," but he
transformed it into a much more diversified little haven, with
broad tourism, conventions, and a grand prix race. Nonetheless,
Monaco remains a sunny place for tax exiles and suspected money-launderers.
Monaco has always been dominated by Hercules Harbor - recently
expanded with a large new breakwater extending far into the Med
- which has long played host to many of the world's great yachts.
But the principle expansion was the landfill beneath Le Rocher
that created Port Fontvielle Marina at the base of a sheer cliff.
Although often perceived as a snobby place, when we visited with
Big O, the Port Captain was pleasant and assigned us a
slip in a premiere spot on the front row - at a price of less
than $1 a foot! The people were a lot of fun, and the government
put on a giant Fourth of July celebration for Yanks that featured
a U.S.-style BBQ with corn-on-the-cob, square-dancing, country
music, and what looked like the world's largest American flag
on the side of the hill. It was a very enjoyable stop - even
without the above-mentioned Anet taking a photo of her then boyfriend
Jim Drake inadvertently dancing with Claudia Schieffer and Prince
Albert. We very much look forward to returning some day.
"We had a fantastic time cruising here in Mexico starting
with the 2004 Ha-Ha," write Bill Finkelstein and Mary Mack
of the Santa Rosa-based Valiant 50 Raptor Dance. "We
particularly loved the anchorages at Tenacatita, Chamela, and
Ipala. Nuevo Vallarta's Paradise Marina was our favorite marina,
as Harbormaster Dick Markie and his wife Gena do a fantastic
job! We'll be leaving Mazatlan tomorrow, April 16, to cruise
the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez before heading to La Paz to
have Raptor Dance put aboard the May Dockwise Yacht Transport
ship for the trip up to Vancouver.
"I'd like to make a correction to last month's article on
the Banderas Bay Regatta," continues Finkelstein. "Class
Four actually had three starters - at least for the first race.
We started that race with our Valiant 50, but had to retire when
the webbing at the head of our genoa failed. Without a spare
jib or genoa, we had to retire. We were unable to repair the
sail ourselves or get it repaired before the end of the regatta.
We tried three Sailrite machines, but none was able to put stitches
into the head of the Spectra headsail. So we tried to hand-stitch
it. Unfortunately, we couldn't even drive our biggest needle
through the fabric - not even when it was encouraged with a hammer!
After the regatta, Barry of UK Sailmakers in P.V. made a great
repair. With our own boat out of action, we raced with Chris
and Heather Stockard aboard their Saga 43 Legacy in the
second race, but were knocked out by flu for the third race."
"You got Gene and Sue Osier, who are my son-in-law and daughter,
started on long distance cruising when they joined the 2000 Ha-Ha
with their Serendipity 43 Peregrine," writes Miles
Lewis of the Alamitos Bay-based Ericson 39 Miles Ahead.
"After the Ha-Ha, they did the Puddle Jump to the Marquesas,
New Zealand, and Australia, then continued cruising to Indonesia,
Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Maldives, Oman, and Yemen.
At the very end of my daughter's March 16 email from Aden, she
wrote: "I have a hair-raising pirate attack story to tell
you. We are now at anchor with two boats - Madhi and
Gandalf - that were fired upon by pirates. The cruisers fought
back, however, and disabled the attackers!" She and Gene
left Aden for the Red Sea before she could email a follow-up,
and I've not heard from them since. But when I saw the Pirates
Repelled story by Rod Nowlin in the April Sightings, I realized
that she'd been scooped by Latitude."
"By the way," Lewis continues, "Gene and Sue had
their own big adventure in Thailand, as they surfed the big tsunami
waves that claimed so many lives. They were leaving Chalong Bay
at the south end of Phuket to reanchor at Nai Harn Beach on December
26, when they were surprised by the tsunami waves coming over
the shallows between Ka Cape and Koh Lone Island. 'Surfing Sue'
describes what happened next:
"I saw a five-meter black wall of water coming down the
channel toward us, and I could see another one just behind it.
The tops of the waves were breaking and the whitewater boiled
furiously. The wind was blowing up against the waves, and the
tops of the crests were blowing off. It looked like a gale in
the Pacific Northwest! The first wave was nearly upon us when
Gene decided to turn and go with them rather than try to go over
them." Obviously the couple survived.
As for Sue's father Lewis' sailing adventures, he says, "After
spending over half of my professional career as an oceanographer,
singlehanding to Catalina's Hen Rock or White's to anchor for
three or four days is about all I can stand a month."
"Check out the accompanying photo of something good and
new here in El Salvador," write Bill and Doreen Gord of
Lanikai. "It's Tarazed from Anacortes, Washington,
the first boat ever hauled with the new Travel-Lift at the yard
in Estero de Jaltepeque - better known to cruisers as Bahia del
Sol. The nearby Bahía del Sol Hotel has local busses that
stop at the front gate, so it's convenient to get to the city
of San Salvador or begin a longer land journey inland. It's also
only 30 minutes to the airport. From what we understand, the
rainy season here isn't as wet as it is further south. In any
event, we've been enjoying our stay here, and plan to head south
after the rainy season ends in late October."
"We finally did get our radar from DHL here in Mexico after
some 21 days of trying, but only after paying more than $200
in customs 'fees' - an amount that both Paperman and the manager
of Aduana at the Puerto Vallarta Airport said shouldn't have
been charged," write Steve and Jamie Sidells of the Incline
Village-based Celestial 48 Reba. You may remember that
their radar being held hostage by customs in Guadalajara was
the jist of an April issue Changes.
"Ah, those bureaucratic inconsistencies in Mexico,"
sighs Sidells. "But that was not all. The real kicker was
when DHL lost our mail shipment from Incline Village. It seems
that either Aduana or DHL - neither will confess - switched the
air-bills on two packages, and ours went off to parts unknown.
Our package contained very personal stuff - all our financial
records for three months, our 1040 Form, and all our First Class
mail and cards since December 15. What an amazing set-up for
identity theft - but one which DHL wouldn't do anything about
because it was during the two weeks of Easter celebrations in
Mexico. After 10 days of many, many calls, we found the other
switched envelope. It only contained a check for $2,200, but
fortunately it also gave us a way to find out who had our package.
Fortunately, they were also in Puerto Vallarta. So off we went
on a bus, and successfully - and most fortunately - recovered
our package! This kind of stuff just seems to go on and on down
here. The folks here, from Paradise Marina Harbormaster Dick
Markie on down, have learned that DHL is not the cruisers' choice
for shipments in and out of Puerto Vallarta. I don't want anyone
to think that I'm complaining, I'm just passing along some seriously
funny things that have happened along the way."
For those who haven't been reading Latitude for the last
18 months, there have been numerous reports of problems with
DHL shipments to and from Mexico, particularly those that pass
through Guadalajara. It's not always clear whether the problem
is being caused by Aduana or DHL, but it's clear there have been
a lot of problems.
Oh no, not again! Susan Meckley of Dharma has some more
bad news: "Federal Express and DHL both are very unreliable
for shipping things to Puerto Vallarta, so most of us order stuff
from Southport Marine in San Diego. Then Raul walks the items
across the border and puts them on an AeroMexico flight. Customs
is also very bad down here. My kids sent me a very large Christmas
package, but it arrived with just four magazines in it. All the
rest of the stuff had apparently been taken by customs. I also
ordered a $286 Top-Climber from ATN in Florida. Customs wanted
me to pay $186 in duty for it. So if they don't steal the stuff,
they rob you blind! Since we have a 10-Year Import Permit, Mexican
law requires that we take defective or broken boat items to customs
at the P.V. airport to have officials verify that they're broken
before we're allowed to import duty-free replacements. Oh yeah,
we also have to get a letter from a Mexican national saying that
they will be responsible for our not abusing the system! If you
go through all this and get the proper papers, you're supposed
to be able to import items by air without paying duty. But it
doesn't work that way, because customs charges you anyway. That's
one of the reasons we're leaving Mexico and going to Hawaii."
It used to be that the screwy clearing regulations were the worst
thing about cruising Mexico. Since that's almost completely been
rectified, the theft and mordida on gear shipped by air
to Mexico is now the worst thing. Fortunately, there's no longer
anything in second place. Mexico is a wonderful place to cruise.
"The cruising season has been winding down here in Tenacatita
Bay, Mexico" reports Terry Bingham of the Eagle Harbor,
Washington-based Union 36 Secret O' Life. "A few
days ago my boat was the only one in the bay, and that happened
again today. At least the water, which had dropped to the low
70s, was back up to the high 70s and getting clear - giving me
reason to pull out the snorkel gear. But the biggest surprise
has been the return of the sea and bird life. The fish boils
have started again, the birds have resumed the nesting ashore,
but get this - I was recently visited by a young deer that swam
past the port side of my boat. I observed her step off the beach,
calmly swim about 30 yards off the beam to circle around the
front of my boat, then make landfall on the rocks southeast of
me. She shook herself off and started working her way back along
shore towards the beach she had started her swim from. So was
the purpose of the swim to cool off, exercise, get the tics off
her fur? We'll ponder those questions over the next few days
while enjoying chilled Pacificos at sundown. I finally leave
the anchorage tomorrow to head north to Mazatlan where my girlfriend
Tammy will be flying to rejoin the boat the first of May. Then
we're off to La Paz and the Sea of Cortez for the summer."
Where's Butchie and Bitchie? "I was once the neighborhood
kid who built a treehouse with tongue & groove siding, a
skylight, a second-story deck, and a rope ladder," writes
Tom Lion of Cloverdale. "Chuck Levdar knocked on my front
door and requested to meet the builder. A few months later -
this was in the '70s - I helped him build his dream home in Los
Altos Hills on a seven-acre lot. Chuck was a brilliant, somewhat hyperactive,
multi-talented engineer married to Kathleen, an eccentric psychologist
with a doctorate. In '73, after we'd done some rock-climbing
together, I went to the University of Montana to explore
my love of the outdoors. Chuck got divorced, had a short stint
as Black Oak Construction, and later attended my first wedding
with Carla, his second wife. The only thing I'd heard from Chuck
since was that he'd sailed to the South Pacific a number of years
ago with a woman named Bitchie aboard his Lapworth 40 Contenta.
So I was very entertained to read about the couple's exploits
in the September '04 Changes.
But what's this about Chuck, apparently now known as 'Butchie',
having come back to the States and marrying someone besides Bitchie?
Can it be true, and can you put me in contact with him?
Sorry, we can't put you in contact with him. But in any event
you've been misinformed, because Chuck came back to the U.S.
a year or so ago and married Bitchie. They've been spending a
lot of time since then on their boat in New Zealand, but may
be back in the States for a few months now on vacation from cruising.
It's not 100% sweetness and light out there in the world of cruising,
as the following two brief reports prove:
We got a report in late March from Richard Donaldson-Alves, controller
of the Mobile Maritime Net, that the U.S.-flagged sailing vessel
Cosmic Muffin had lost her mast and sails over the side
some 240 miles southwest of Hawaii. Skipper Steve Russ reported
they were in a bit of jam, as they were a long way from anywhere
and only had five gallons of fuel left. We were unable to get
further details or an update.
Sixty-three year-old South African singlehander Martin 'Pops'
Mynhardt left Trinidad last Christmas Eve intending to sail north
to St. Martin aboard his steel Van de Stadt 45 Marsal.
He never made it, and his boat was found aground a few days later
at Carupano on the north coast of the Peninsula de Paria in Venezuela.
This has sometimes been a dangerous area for yachties, but there
was no sign of foul play, and all personal and boat papers were
"I hope Latitude will encourage the owners of all
cruising catamarans to enter the 86-mile Santa Barbara to King
Harbor (Redondo Beach) Race on August 5," writes Scott Stolnitz,
who will be doing the race with his Marina del Rey-based Switch
51 cat Beach House. "I know Latitude has done
it with Profligate for about the last four years, and
will be doing it again this year. It's my understanding that
if we get five cruising cat entries, we'll get our own class
and maybe our own start."
"In addition," Stolnitz continues, "Mike Leneman
puts on an Indian Summer Splash Regatta for multihulls over 20
feet September 16-18 from Long Beach and Marina del Rey to Cat
Harbor, Catalina, then back to the mainland. It's a great time,
with BBQs, nature hikes, an oceanography presentation, and such.
I think they had 45 multihulls entered last time, which apparently
made it the largest multihull gathering in the world. While most
of the boats are racing boats, cruising multihulls are also encouraged.
Nobody needs to belong to a yacht club, have a rating, or anything
like that, as it's all about fun. Mike can be reached ."
We at Latitude do indeed love the Santa Barbara to King
Harbor Race, as you get to kick around Santa Barbara during Fiesta
Week, then sail between Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands, bounce
off the mainland near Zuma Beach, and try to make it across Santa
Monica Bay before the wind fades at sundown. It's like a mini-Ha-Ha
with conditions similar to the Ha-Ha. We'll be there with Profligate,
Stolnitiz's Beach House, and Blair Grinols' Capricorn
Cat, and apparently the folks from Yachtfinder/Windseakers
in San Diego will be rounding up two or three more, so hopefully
we will get our own class. If that's the case, Chuck Tobias of
Pusser's Rum - who started his sailing career with multihulls
in Southern California - has promised to put up the cruising
cat trophies - not that winning is going to be the main intent
of anyone. We're out for fun! Anyone with a cruising cat interested
in the King Harbor Race should contact
for encouragement and visit the Santa Barbara YC Web site for details.
"I want to thank you for all the help and concern you sent
my way last year after my Islander 32 Sound Decision was
lost on the rocks of the Big Island at the very end of her passage
from Tahiti to Hilo, Hawaii," writes Tom Wilkinson, originally
of the Pacific Northwest. "It has taken nine months of brutally
hard work and much searching, but I have finally acquired a replacement
vessel, the Hans Christian 38T Love Song. By the time
you read this I'll have flown to the West Indies to pick her
up. I hope to get through the Canal and back up to Mexico in
time to meet some of this year's Ha-Ha boats in Cabo or La Paz
in November. Despite the fact my boat was looted in the few days
before she broke up and disappeared, I have to say that the people
of Hilo have been incredibly warm and helpful. I cannot imagine
a better place to lose everything and have to begin anew. Once
again, thank you to everyone who sent support and positive wishes
to me during one of the low points of my life."
We're glad to hear you got a new boat. But what's the deal with
rushing back to Mexico? There's a lot of great things to do and
people to meet in the Caribbean.
"We finally got the bugs worked out of my new Kiwi-built
70-ft Shuttleworth catamaran My Way," reports Don
Engle of Lafayette. "She's really beautiful. It didn't take
so long because there was so much to do, but rather because the
New Zealand builder went into liquidation before everything was
done. So we had to hire their workers to finish some of the jobs.
It was a hassle. But now we're scheduled to leave for Fiji on
May 9, weather permitting."
"We happened to be at Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard when
the brigantine Irving Johnson had her unfortunate grounding,"
write Robin and Jimmy Roser of the Hawaii-based Perry 65 Icon.
"The day before we'd sailed our boat in the channel. Normally,
we would have motored in with our keel in its raised position
and thus drawing 8 feet, 10 inches. But our Seattle to San Diego
delivery was interrupted by our Sillette saildrive blowing a
seal - for the second time. So with just the mainsail up, we
sort of surfed in the harbor entrance with our keel down and
drawing 13 feet, 10 inches. Fortunately, the least water we ever
saw was 29 feet. We did have to correct course abruptly when
we got between the jetties, as the breaking waves were forcing
us to the same rocks that the Irving Johnson ended up
banging on 24 hours later. It broke our hearts to see the brigantine
on the beach and being hammered by northwesterlies for three
days, so we were delighted that she got off."
If your boat draws nearly nine feet with the keel in the up position,
we guess you won't be cruising in the Bahamas anytime soon.
"In last month's 'Lectronic,
the editor wondered if the Mushroom Rock at Ballandra Bay near
La Paz - which vandals had knocked over once, and then had been
restored - was still standing," notes Rich Greenawald. "I
was down there in January sailing aboard my friend's Sabre 34
Fancy Free, and there was no Mushroom Rock standing in
"Well, it's been a lot of work, but somebody had to do it,"
writes '04 Ha-Ha vet Jeannette Heulin of the Emeryville-based
Bristol 32 Con Te Partiro. "Since Mushroom Rock at
Ballandra Bay near La Paz has been knocked over for awhile, I
took some time from my very busy schedule to carve out a new
Mushroom Rock - but this one up at Pyramid Cove on Isla Danzante."
In the last few years, Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador, has become
the sunny place to cruise during the rainy season at mainland
Mexico, Central America, and Panama. Herman and Nancy Ford of
Sea Tern report there are already 32 cruising boats in
Caraquez - a big increase over last year - and more are on the
way. The people are said to be very nice, and the cost of living
is very low. Ecuador, of course, is in the midst of political
upheaval, as the third president in eight years is now hiding
for his life after he dismissed the Supreme Court, people took
to the streets, and the military withdrew its backing. It hasn't
helped that one former president, deposed by Congress after three
months in office because of "mental incompetence",
returned from exile in Panama and announced that he's "older
and crazier than ever." Oh good, just what Ecuador needs.
To our knowledge, this incidents have had no effect on cruisers.
Similarly, there's a big stink brewing over the June '06 presidential
election in Mexico. Leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the
charismatic mayor of Mexico City who is the clear favorite, has
been accused of violating a relatively minor court order. If
the charge stands, Obrador won't be allowed to stand for president.
The problem is that 80% of the population - including those who
don't agree with his leftist and anti-NAFTA views - think this
is bogus. Expect this controversy to be in the news for the next
14 months. Once again, it shouldn't affect cruisers, as everybody
in Mexico knows that tourism is as important as oil to their
Right as we went to press, we received a news flash that some
for-pay weather companies, such as Accuweather, are lobbying
Congress to introduce a bill that would ban the National Weather
Service from 'competing' with private weather services. In other
words, it would prohibit them from making weather data available
for free on the Internet. According to one analyst who says he
wouldn't like to have to pay twice for his weather information,
this would possibly mean the elimination of NOAA's Web presence.
We don't think this is going to happen, but it's something to
be aware of.
We've always been disgusted by the California Coastal Commission's
failure to get more artificial reefs established off the coast
of California. We're told that 90% of fish habitats have been
destroyed. If that's true, why are they using their bullypulpit
to help create new ones? During the last discussion we had with
them about it, Executive Director Peter Douglas told us - without
laughing, mind you - that artifical reefs were "unproven
technology." As such, it would do well for the entire Coastal
Commission to read the following Associated Press item from April
"The Mahi, a scuttled Navy minesweeper off Hawaii's
Waianae Coast, has grown into a 190-foot artificial reef that
is home to corals, leaf scorpion fish, pufferfish, triggerfish,
eels and magnificent eagle rays. The nearby LCU, a 100-ft
landing craft utility ship, houses two timid white-tipped reef
sharks that flee when divers approach. "Marine life tends
to like these wrecks because there are nooks and crannies to
hide in," Wiltshire said."