June, 2006

With reports this month from Reba on repairing a sudden ingress of water; from Breila on cruising to and around Cape Horn; from Eaux Vives on the Antigua Classic Regatta; from Swell on surfing adventures in Mexico; and a generous helping of Cruise Notes.

Reba - Celestial 48 Ketch
Steve & Jamie Sidells
On Being Self-Reliant
(Incline Village, Nevada)

Since returning from the South Pacific in '04, we've hosted several preparation seminars for prospective Puddle Jumpers at the Vallarta YC. In the seminars we've tried to stress the value of knowing one's boat and being prepared for the unexpected at sea, because every boat is on her own out there. But it often seems as if our message is a bit wide of the mark for some attendees, who are so anxious to get started. So maybe our recent experience coming back to Puerto Vallarta from Tenacatita Bay will help reinforce that our advice applies to everyone.

After motorsailing all day into increasing wind and seas, Reba's engine suddenly overheated off Chamela right about sunset. I assumed that it was a saltwater pump impeller problem, but it was rough, so I couldn't investigate until later. So I just shut the engine down.

By midnight, we had 30 knots of wind and about 8-ft seas. It was wet, but we were fine. At 1:15 a.m. - yes, that magic hour for gremlins - we noticed that the bilge pump was going on whenever we were heeled hard to starboard. A quick check of the engine room revealed that we had bilge water two feet deep - almost as high as the electrical panel! It was also clear that we had heavy flooding somewhere aft.

Quickly checking, I found the sump pump was very hot and just barely running. The bilge pump was running, but not keeping up with the flooding. While Jamie quickly manned the bilge pump, I searched for the source of the incoming water. It was critical, because with our main engine out of order, our ultimate last 'bilge pump', the ship's raw water pump, would not be available. And we were eight miles at sea.

I looked into the packing inspection port, and it was flooded - even though the packing itself seemed fine. But water was already over the floorboards. What was going on?! It was no time for fatigue or to feel sorry for ourselves. It was time to prove that we knew our boat, our spares, and our tools.

Thinking about the aft of the boat, I remembered that Reba has a hose inside the aft deck locker that connects the three deck scupper drains on each side. Usually it's 18 inches above the waterline, but could it have something to do with the ingress of water? While the wind and sea swirled, I went - with life-jacket and safety harness on - to the aft deck and opened the locker. The hose had somehow become disconnected, so deck water was pouring inside the hull through a 1-inch hose.

After a quick trip to the tool box, grabbing a few wedges along the way, I reconnected the hose and stopped the flooding - and just in time. Apparently, pounding into the sea had shifted items in the locker and somehow pulled the hose loose.

We hope this example demonstrates how important it is for everyone to know their boat intimately, for you also may be called on to solve a similar problem at night. And even though you might be fatigued or even injured, it's probably going to be up to you to solve the problem.

Amazingly, by the time we got to normally breezy Cabo Corrientes, we were becalmed. That gave us the chance to repair the engine at sea. So once we got back to the dock, we only had to take care of the extensive damage caused by the flooding.

- steve & jamie 04/15/06

Breila - Contessa 39
Mike & Catharine Whitby
Patagonia And Cape Horn
(Vancouver, B.C.)

There have been lots of reports in Latitude about the wonders of Ecuador - especially since it is such a great place to wait out Central America's rainy season and/or jump off to the South Pacific. But it's south of Ecuador that cruisers find themselves really off the beaten path. We know, because we've been cruising the Pacific Coast of South America for two seasons now. The primary reason for cruisers to sail south of Ecuador, of course, is to reach Patagonia and to round famous Cape Horn. That was our goal, and now that we've accomplished it, we'd like to share some of our thoughts about cruising in the 'far south'.

There Are Cruisers Down Here. Thanks to sailing magazine coverage given this area in recent years, the number of cruisers has continued to grow. The previous season, there were as many as 35 yachts checking in with the HF radio net in Patagonia - which covers the Falkland Islands to Easter Island. This year there are 50 yachts checking in. Most of the cruisers are from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. It puzzles us that the United States is so under-represented. There were only two U.S. boats this season, including Holger Kreuzhage and Tracy Brown's Sausalito-based 72-ft gaff topsail schooner Lord Jim, which was on a passage from the South Pacific through the Straits of Magellan.

Yes, There Are Singlehanders Down Here, Too. We are amazed at how many singlehanders there are here this year - eight out of 50 boats. The ones we've met are exceptionally good sailors who have always had adventure high on the list of things they enjoy. They were not about to let the fact that they were alone deter them. Some take on crew when available, others do not. We truly marvel at how they can manage here - especially with having to go through the anchoring hassle each day.

Six Months On, Six Months Off, Still Works. Most cruisers in Mexico - ourselves included - spend six months on their boat, then return north by plane or road for six months. We assumed that once we'd left Mexico, all cruisers would be full-timers, but that hasn't been the case. Even this far south, about half of the cruisers spend four to seven months a year away from their boats. If you plan in advance, you can find plenty of places down here to safely leave your boat, making part-time cruising possible. Last year we left Breila on the hard at Puerto Montt while we flew to the U.S. and Canada for eight months. It worked out very well.

You Can Charter In This Part Of The World. There is a healthy fleet of skippered charter yachts offering the opportunity to sail around Cape Horn and among the Beagle Channel glaciers - or even longer trips to Antarctica or the Falklands and/or South Georgia Islands. If you'd prefer not to see these places from your own boat, you can do it on the charter boats for between $200 and $500 a day - depending on the amount of comfort and adventure you desire. In fact, many cruisers with their own boats down here decide that 10-day expedition charters to Antarctica, which leave from Ushuaia, are the best way to see the White Continent.

We Motored Often. Down here you spend much of your time in narrow north-south channels, in which the wind inevitably blows out of the north or south - no matter which direction it might be blowing in the open Pacific. Even when the wind blew from a favorable direction, we often motorsailed, as getting to the next anchorage was crucial. Maximizing one's range under power is important because there are very few fuel stops in the 1,000 miles between Puerto Montt and Puerto Williams/Ushuaia. It's recommended that boats have a range of at least 500 miles under power. We felt comfortable because we have a range of almost 700 miles. Nonetheless, we did sail some of the time, and even set the chute for a few hours.

Cape Horn Is Do-Able. Rounding feared 'Old Cape Stiff' is, of course, a major goal for those who venture this far south. Thanks to accurate weather forecasts and two anchorages within just 14 miles of the Cape, it's actually not that hard. Making a rounding starting from Chile's Puerto Williams usually takes between four and seven days. Surprisingly, the weather is settled often enough at the Horn itself that about 50% of crews are able to go ashore at Isla de Hornos to visit the monument, take photos, and meet representatives of the Chilean Armada. Normally, however, one crew-member stays aboard to watch the boat. But you can even buy a souvenir t-shirt at Isla de Hornos. Indeed, we were more than a little disappointed to hear that a concession is being built at Cape Horn, complete with docking facilities, so that cruise ship passengers may go ashore. It's our understanding that once this facility is completed, landing fees will apply to everyone.

We had a great sail around the Horn, but the wind freshened considerably when we got in front of the very unprotected Bahia Leones, preventing us from being able to go ashore. In fact, we had a difficult time getting back to a safe anchorage, as it required seven hours of sailing into 40+ knots of wind and very short and steep waves. We tried to make a landing the second day also, but bad weather thwarted us once again.

Winter Isn't That Bad. Although the marinas on the Beagle Channel at Ushuaia, Argentina, and Puerto Williams, Chile, are at about 55° South, it's still possible to sail in the winter. In fact, that's the time when most long-timers prefer to sail, as there is less wind and rain during the austral winter. We've enjoyed some really lovely sunny and windless days, comparable to cool autumn days in the Pacific Northwest. And there are considerably fewer boats about. The bad news is that it's colder in the winter, with the temperatures averaging just below freezing. In addition, the days are much shorter, necessitating quick hops from one safe anchorage to the next, something that greatly lengthens passages.

Long Distance Days Are Out. While sailing in the channels, a good day is 50 to 60 miles, but on average we'd move about 30 miles daily going south, and 15 to 20 miles going north. The 1,000+ mile trip from Ushuaia to Puerto Montt takes several months, with only a few places in between to provision, refuel, and meet crew/guests. Like most others, we avoided offshore passages whenever possible.

The Weather Can Be Ferocious. Yesterday's forecast included rachas to 100 knots - and the Horn actually recorded gusts to 130 knots! That's nothing to be taken lightly. It's not uncommon for the wind to blow from one direction at 50 knots, then half an hour later blow at 50 knots from the other direction. You cannot over prepare for conditions like that. Again, numerous sailing magazine articles in recent years have extolled the pleasures of sailing Patagonia, but read between the lines, because it's truly extreme sailing. During the course of our adventure, we experienced some of the worst weather we could have imagined. Constant vigilance is required because of both changes in the weather and difficult anchoring conditions. The result can be very stressful cruising. We even encountered some gales in the channels.

It's Dangerous Cruising Down Here. While we knew this would be a challenging sailing area, the cautionary tales can't be overstated. Every year at least one cruising boat is involved in a disaster that includes either the loss of the boat or a life. This season one boat was lost because of a propane fire. Had the boat not been in such a remote area, she might not have become a total loss. As it was, the crew had to camp ashore for 21 days before being rescued! A few months later, two boats were rolled in the 70-knot winds of a storm that hadn't been forecast. Both boats were dismasted. One skipper managed to limp into port under jury rig seven days later, but the other boat and skipper were never seen again.

The season before, several boats endured dismastings, roll-overs, or knock-downs in very high seas and powerful winds. Even when the weather conditions aren't horrendous, constant vigilance is required to sail in this area. It's tiring. We think that cruisers with boats under 40 feet in length - ours is 38 feet - should think very carefully before deciding that this is an area they really want to cruise.

New Anchoring Techniques Are Required. All the previous anchoring rules are reversed down here. We'd look for the smallest gap in the rocky shoreline to sneak into, watching for areas where the trees have grown straight up, not bent over. Then we'd back in, drop the hook, jump in the dinghy, row quickly ashore, and make fast to the trees. Like everyone else, we carried four extra shorelines of 300 feet each, as well as several heavy anchors on all-chain rode. We used these most every night. Getting settled in an anchorage took an hour each day. On one occasion we had to change anchorages four times and ultimately travel 20 miles to find an anchorage with sufficient shelter from the weather. Most of the anchorages are deep right to the shore and have little swinging room. As such, we tucked right up against the land and tied off. In some places, we were literally just feet away from sheer cliffs.

Treacherous Sea Hazards. Kelp can foul your anchors and rudder. We carried a scythe bound to a long pole for cutting through the seaweed. Ice could also be a problem, and there were a few times that we were lucky to make it through the ice floating near the glaciers. Milky waters near glacial runoff also hide rocks and moraine - even a foot below the surface. Plus, there are numerous places where the currents - up to 11 knots - require careful planning. We also had to negotiate standing waves in a few places. While there are charts and good cruising guides to the main areas, there are plenty of places that haven't been charted.

The Wildlife And Scenery Are Superb. Nothing we'd heard, no photos we'd seen, could have prepared us for the splendor of the area. Though virtually all cruisers come here to 'do' Cape Horn, it is usually the glaciers that make the greatest impression. There are endless opportunities to hike the mountains, valleys, glaciers and peat bogs, and to explore by dinghy or kayak. There is also an abundance of opportunities for photographers, as the glaciers are every color of blue. We enjoyed fantastic wildlife encounters, too - Andean condors, Austral parakeets, flightless steamer ducks, and huge albatross. In addition, we enjoyed seeing Austral dolphins, Magellanic penguins, guanaco herds, and giant rheas. We had to download our photo files each day to ensure that we wouldn't miss a shot.

Getting Here Is Less Than Half The Battle. On both Atlantic and Pacific coasts, going north from the Cape Horn/Beagle Channel area is harder than the trip south. Most cruisers - even hardened circumnavigators - who have sailed north up the Atlantic side, report these were the most challenging sailing conditions they have ever encountered. This year we met three boats whose crew abandoned their northbound passage through the Chilean canals, and several others said they wished they had.

It's Hard, But It's Worth It. Like all the other cruisers we've talked to, we'll forever cherish our memories of sailing in Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, and around Cape Horn. Now we're looking forward to cruising in the warm waters of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. Believe us, a little warm wind sounds pretty good about now!

- mike & catharine 04/15/06

Eaux Vives - Beneteau 40
Susie Bowman & Lance Batten
Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta

We know you folks at Latitude love St. Barth, and so do we, but for those of us not accustomed to rubbing shoulders with the glitterati, Antigua has its charms. We came to the Antigua Classic Regatta in early April so that we could join the other dockwalkers in drooling over the acres of brightwork and all the polished brass. But it turns out that the most fun thing to do is not watch the classic yachts race from atop Shirley Heights, but actually sail aboard one of the boats. We found this out after being invited to join Skip and Barbara Eaton aboard their 44-ft French pilot boat Ragnar. Their 25-ton gaff schooner was built of wood in Germany in '02 - from a 1910 design!

Ragnar is a heavy boat designed for strong winds and big seas, so we weren't very competitive in the first race, which featured abnormally light winds for Antigua. Indeed, it took us nearly an hour to make it across the starting line. The whole fleet ended up milling around and chatting until the lighter boats finally responded to a faint breeze that finally came up. As it turned out, we finished just 10 minutes before the six-hour deadline! Our exhausted crew collapsed shortly after sunset, missing the party sponsored by Mt. Gay Rum. This probably gave us the advantage in Race 2, as all the boats with crew sporting red Mt. Gay hats - purchased at the cost of three rum drinks - looked a little grey.

We had our best day on the third and final race, which was sailed on the Cannonball course. For this race they place a mark six miles off English Harbor, making it a tradewind reach both going out and coming back in. Because there was a staggered start, every boat got to see all the other boats going out and coming back in. What a thrill it was to see some well-matched 135-ft J Class yachts charging down on us under a cloud of sail, their huge crews wearing matching uniforms. At one point we were temporarily becalmed because the Elenora, the 136-ft Herreshoff gaff schooner, sailed right over the top of us and stole our wind.

The very big boats - such as Ranger, Eleonora, Altair, Aschanti IV and Ticonderoga - have professional crews and take the racing very seriously. The rest of us could relax after the races and enjoy the plummy British spit & polish at a distance.

We particularly enjoyed the charming graciousness of the race committee, and loved the stately pre-racing parade of classic yachts through Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbor. But seeing - and feeling - the spray flying from these grand old ladies pressed to the hilt in indigo seas under brilliant blue skies was the thrill of a lifetime! We've put an unreasonable number of very pretty boat pictures from the racing and Concours d'Elegance up at www.accidentalcruiser.com.

By the way, there's been quite a bit written recently about wifi in Mexico. Well, we can report that it's arrived in the Caribbean in a very big way this year. For example, there are five bars in Falmouth Harbor alone that offer wireless internet, and in some cases power, for just the price of a drink. This wasn't available last year. We have also been able to get free internet access in Dominica and St. Lucia from out in the anchorages, and very reasonably priced internet access in Carriacou. We've yet to buy one of those fancy antennas, but do use a good wireless USB adaptor placed up on the deck on a USB extension cord snaked up through the salon hatch. This way we've been able to view our monitor from the comfort of the salon, and don't have to huddle under a towel on the foredeck. But don't forget to watch for squalls!

- susie & lance 04/15/06

Susie & Lance - It's true that we love fooling around with our riff-rafferati sailing friends in St. Barth, but we're big fans of Antigua, too. Between the mid-'80s and mid-'90s, we did no less than six Antigua Sailing Weeks with Big O, and few things in our lifetime have made us prouder than to have been named 'Party Boat of The Week' the last three times. However, because of conflicts between our deadline and the dates of the Classic Regatta, we've never been able to attend a Classic. That shall be corrected next April.

By the way, in hindsight would you say that the dot.com bust was the best thing that ever happened to you?

Swell - Cal 40
Liz Clark
The Sailing Surfing Safari
(Santa Barbara)

The first solid south swell has just spent over a week hitting the Michoacan coast of Mexico with waves, and it just so happened that Swell was floating within striking distance of a spot I'd been eyeing on the charts for two months. The swell is gone now, but my body has tangible evidence that it came through - I have a leash tan on my ankle and my arms feel like steel. In addition, my eyes are bloodshot from the salt and sun, and my skin is the color of caramel.

Before departing the paradise of the 'Mexican Taliban', we hitched a ride north and found some thick beachbreak peaks funneling into a lush rivermouth. Despite sharing a cozy early '90s Honda Civic with three chain smokers and a deafening music dance mix as old as the car, Shannon and I both enjoyed looking over the ledge of a few chunky mainland Mexico lips. But with the swell picking up and our getting tired of Swell's perpetual rolling, we continued on the next morning in search of a more protected anchorage. We found it behind a little point with a breakwater just 30 miles down the coast. The swell was still making its way in, but the beach was flatter, so the backwash and boat rolling were less pronounced.

The next morning we made our way to the wave that I'd been seeking. As the taxi bumped down into the dusty little town, I caught my first glimpses of the glassy lefts between the palm-topped cabanas on stilts - and saw that they were bigger than I'd expected. My first session reminded me of a backwards version of my favorite wave back home on one of the bigger days of the year - except here there were hardly any people in the water. I'd never surfed such a long left, and after a few waves sent me into uncontrollable giggles, I knew that I was going to get my fill. My backside surfing was in need of some oiling, and this was the place to get it lubed.

By the end of the first day, we'd met most of the local surfers, either in the water or while hanging at the little restaurant with the best view of the point. I can't remember the name of the place, but it became our daily hangout. It was almost like the bleachers at a high school football game, both because of the excellent view of the action and the perpetual chitchat amongst the mix of surfers who hung there before and after sessions.

The tiny town attracted the usual group of sundry surfers in search of their fix. Unlike the speechless surf line-ups in the States, the folks in the water at the less well-known Mexican surf spots have generally been warm and welcoming. And why not, as the locals are usually tired of talking to each other, and the newcomers are lonely. Following a brief conversation and a shared surf session, Shannon usually felt as though we'd been initiated. Such was the case at this break, as by the end of the first day we were 'in'.

Had our time there been a remake of an episode of the Brady Bunch, I surely would have found myself smiling down at Shannon from the top left square during the intro. In the other squares would be the common overland surf traveler, the 'shoulda been here 20 years ago' guy, and the genuine local Mexican surfer. The first of these types can come from as far away as Holland, such as Klas, or as near as Seal Beach, such as Todd. And they can be everything from mega-rippers to shoulder-hopping funboarders. You can generally judge how long they've been away from home by how shaggy their hair is. The 'shoulda been here 20 years ago' guy is easily spotted by his extreme tan and his non-stop stories of how we really blew it by not being born earlier. This type says the waves used to be better and the water warmer, there was never anyone out, and a mermaid dragged him back to the line-up after every ride. Blah, blah, blah. Sure buddy. These guys just tend to be mad because now a girl can paddle faster than they can.

In absolute contrast to this type of character was Flaco, filling the 'Mexican local' square. With his explosive backhand dominance in the line-up, he just smiled and let his surfing do the talking. And then there was Pablo, in a square of his own. He was an experienced bluewater sailor and longtime lover of the sea. Shannon deemed him a true American-Mexican, as he'd lived south of the border for over 30 years. Nearly as jubilant and fiery as I can be, his whole body shook when he spoke. His laugh was loud and unconstrained, his eyes were bright and youthful - he had a spirit that hadn't been crushed by the 9 to 5 world up north. When he heard of our sailling-surfing plans, he nearly exploded with questions and advice, and quickly took us under his helpful wing.

As the week progressed, we found ourselves immersed in Semana Santa, which is both Easter and Spring Break in Mexico. The population of the little town quadrupled in size, as very large families pitched their tents wherever they could find space - high or low, in sand or dirt, it didn't seem to matter. They happily indulged in piles of fresh fruit and basked in the sun. Unlike most American campers, who seem to bring along a car full of olive green gadgets to replicate nearly everything they have at home, the Mexicans were more concerned with family and fun than appliances. It was hard to distinguish one family from another, and everyone walked through everyone else's campsites. It was customary to stop under someone else's shade, and people offered each other food, smiles, and songs. A general feeling of joy oozed through the chaos like mud between one's toes. But by midweek the town felt the burden of its new population. Trash piles overflowed, the restaurants ran out of food, and the water happened to run out right as Shannon and I rubbed perfumed dollops of shampoo into our hair. That was to have been our first showers in five days.

One evening we accepted an invitation for dinner with some Californian surfers who were being hosted at the gorgeous vacation home of the Arche family of Mexico City. As I walked through the door - late - I jabbered on about how the local restaurant was out of everything except spaghetti. "I just don't like spaghetti," I declared boldly, and prattled on about how noodles "just seem like worthless food". Twenty minutes later, we sat down at a long, dark wood table, and were served from a big bowl of shrimp spaghetti. Beatriz, the charismatic and talented captain of the kitchen, gave me a friendly smirk and asked me to pass my plate. After quietly removing my foot from my mouth, I ate every delicious scrap, and asked for seconds. Later on Raul, the patriarch of the Arche family, told cautionary tales of bee swarms, amoebas, and of six men in the Med who had drowned because they'd jumped off their boat before first putting down a swim ladder. Shannon and I left with the man's antihistamine injections and home phone number in case we got into any trouble in Mexico.

On principle, I don't like to rely on others for help, but we needed four rides each day. One from our boat to the shore, then from the shore to the surf spot, and then two more to reverse the process. We could have gotten to shore using my dinghy, but I didn't want to have my dinghy taken over the falls by a big wave from the southern hemisphere. As it turned out, deciding on relying on others for rides turned out to be pretty interesting.

Most mornings we were able to flag down a fisherman heading in with his early catch, and thus make it to the beach dry. But when there were no pangas in sight, we'd stuff the day's necessities in the dry bags and paddle or swim 200 yards to shore, then emerge on the beach like 'swamp things', making our way through an obstacle course of oddly clad swimmers of all shapes and sizes. Our most unusual trip from boat to shore was on the back of a rented jet-ski being driven by an inexperienced Semana Santa-er. Having had no luck hailing a panga, and feeling the need to conserve our energy for the surf, we waved down a guy with a blindingly neon-yellow, wide-brimmed hat, small purple shorts, and the jet-ski. After happily agreeing to deliver us to shore, he rammed Swell while attempting to pick us up, leaving a purple streak on the hull as a souvenir. But I admit that I was a bit jealous of Shannon, who got to wrap her arms around him on the way in.

Next, we had to find a way from the town to the break. On the sweltering walk up the hill towards the main road, we'd take whichever came first, be it an innocuous-looking ride or a passing taxi. By the second day, we agreed not to waste our money on taxis, and found ourselves bouncing along in the front of a bright orange Dorito delivery truck. After a brief stop to restock the local gas station with a day's supply of chips, Armando and Juan Carlos kindly took us all the way out the dirt road, delivering us just a skip away from the point. As we dismounted from our marmalade-colored magic carpet, the guys already perched at the restaurant just shook their heads in disbelief. The local police became another staple 'go-to' option. Pablo set us up with them the first afternoon, and everyday thereafter, the police always stopped when they saw us, all three of them motioning for us to jump in. They always made a pass down the dirt road before heading back to the main town where Swell was anchored, so we'd throw our boards in the back and jump in with one of the policia, his AK-47 casually slung across his back.

The last trip of each day - the one from town back out to the boat - was always the most unusual, as it would usually begin with Shannon and me hopping out of a truck or Jeff or Clark's slick rental minivan at about midnight, sunburned, aching, and exhausted. Having left our boards at the surf spot for the next day, Shannon and I would both make a 'there's no alternative' sigh, walk out to the breakwater, and throw our dusty clothes into the dry bag. On the rise of the surge, I'd dog-dive off the rocks and into the black abyss to make sure it was deep enough. Shannon would then slide in behind me. One night a group of 14-year-old boys watched in disbelief as we plunged in off the rocks and into the dark sea. Shannon said she felt like a Charlie's Angel. Hair wet yet again, we'd swim the 200 yards back towards Swell's faithfully swaying anchor light. There was always a bit of negative anticipation before we jumped into the water, but these actually turned out to be magical swims. We were surrounded by darkness, the lights of the town flickering on shore, the stars smeared across the overhead blackness, and glowing flecks of phosphorescence trailed our motion through the black water. By the time we heaved our fluoro-speckled bodies up the side of the boat, we'd be laughing and reminiscing about the events of the day - much of which involved Shannon breaking hearts right and left!

Okay, I saved the best for last - the waves. If you're a surfer sitting in a cubicle under a flickering fluorescent light, save yourself the agony and don't read on. But when it came to the waves in Mexico, I was a kid in a candy store, a fat guy at an all-you-can eat smorgie, a mosquito in a room full of lightly clothed gringos, a cow in a green pasture. In other words, I was hungry. During the daylight hours, I was possessed by the waves - it was overhead all week long - that constantly caressed the point. I'd surf a morning session and eventually straggle in to the restaurant. While sucking down a mango-banana licuado that would put Jamba Juice out of business, I'd try to hang with the group of surfers recalling the waves of the morning. Just as one would launch into a story, my eyes would stick to a set lining up through the inside. My mind would wander as it rifled across the empty bay. I'd lose my focus and start to twitch. I'd roll and squirm in the hot sand and try to convince myself that I needed some shade and some rest. Then another set, without anyone on the waves, would wash across the bar. It was more than I could take, so I'd put on more sunscreen, grab my board, and sprint back to the point. Everyone else thought I was nuts, but how could I sit there? There was nobody out, and I had a perfect chance to get back in touch with the mechanics of my backside surfing.

Wave after wave would come through with enough size and power to allow me to make 10 turns! I'd crank the next one a little more vertical, drop in a little deeper, drive around a section a bit faster and smoother - mad with excitement, energy, and creativity. I was in love with surfing, the warmth, the freedom of my new life, and the victory of each small progression. It was a high that I'd previously only experienced in fleeting flashes, but now it was around long enough to almost get comfortable with. As I dropped into a wave on the evening of the fourth day, the sun's reflection was hung up in the lip. I placed my feet with the perfect angle and glided down the glowing face. It all came together. I set my rail hard, went straight up into the pocket, and cracked the lip above me. Fortunately, for both peace of mind and a break for my body, the swell finally faded. If it hadn't, I'm not sure I could have left.

On our last day in the area, we arrived back at Swell's cove midday with a heap of goods from our week on land. We'd left everything overnight at the break, and thus had accumulated quite a pile. It was Easter Sunday and the pangas weren't heading out to fish, so I paddled a load out to Swell and grabbed the longboard for the next pickup. Upon returning to the beach, I found Shannon had lent her board to a little boy playing in the water. He clung to it like a long lost friend, floundering happily in the ankle-deep whitewash. I walked up to little Herman and asked him if he wanted some help catching a wave.

"Quieres ayuda? Soy una maestra de surfear," I gently tempted. His eyes lit up and he excitedly plopped his belly square on the stringer where I patted the board. I launched him out over the incoming waves, reverting to my days as a summertime surf instructor in Del Mar. He looked at me with wide-eyed trust. "Listo?" I asked. He nodded with slight reluctance, as I pushed into the momentum of the incoming swell. In my rush back to the beach, I had neglected to put the fin in the tail of the board, so I held on as we rode towards the shore, doubling as the board's rudder. Herman didn't stand up for the first three waves, but on the fourth he rose and planted his grubby little feet beneath him - and with style. His face glowed as he dismounted that first wave, and I slapped him a congratulatory high-five. He immediately wanted his buddy to try, and so for the next hour Herman and Octavio took turns popping to their feet as we rode together toward the sand. It felt good to share the joy I'd felt all week.

I finally had to pull the plug on the fun - we would be sailing all night and needed a bit of time to get Swell ready for sea. So Shannon strapped on her infamous water backpack, and we waved good-bye to the new little surfers. I almost felt guilty as I looked back to see Herman, dripping wet, carrying on to his dad on the beach about what had happened. Surfing can change your life.

- liz 04/18/06

Cruise Notes:

Bob van Blaricom has done a lot of sailing in his 75 years, but on his latest trip, he saw a few things he'd never seen before:

"When my friend Carl Seipel - a circumnavigator who had crewed aboard our boat Misty on two cruises to the Northwest and Alaska - decided to sail his Yankee 30 Tootsie to New Zealand, I went along for the first leg to La Paz. We had a very strange experience the first night when we sailed between Pigeon Point and Point Sur. I was on watch when I heard a very low, steady tone like that of a diaphone. It was loud enough for Carl to hear it in his bunk and to ask me what was going on. I didn't know. But I did observe three evenly-spaced looms of light on the horizon. They were far enough away so that I couldn't see the source of the light, meaning the source was probably 10 or more miles away - which was totally inconsistent with the volume of the tone. As I was looking at the lights through the binoculars, I was amazed to see what I can only describe as 'reverse tracer shells'. Suddenly, a stream of bright orange lights would appear, then they would be sucked back into the light loom at extreme speed! This happened over and over from all three light sources for six or seven minutes. Suddenly, the sound, the light looms, and the 'reverse tracers' stopped for about 15 minutes - then reappeared farther astern with a repeat performance lasting about five minutes! I was sorry I didn't get Carl up to corroborate my story, which I admit is pretty unbelievable. I can only assume that it was either the military up to some of their ominous tricks, or a UFO. I never much believed in UFOs before, but now I'm not so sure!"

"We arrived in Ensenada about midnight a couple of nights later," van Blaricom continues, "and anchored off the old sunken Catalina Island steamer - which is now occupied by a mob of sea lions who bellow and bark all night. The next day Carl went ashore to try out the new Mexican entry facility and procedures. The whole works is housed in one new little building right on the waterfront, and there are separate windows for the Harbormaster, Customs, and Immigration. There's even a mini-bank to pay the fees. The only thing missing was a copy machine with which to make the multiple copies of everything that the officials require. That means you have to run all over town to find a copy shop that isn't closed for siesta and whose copy machine isn't broken."

"While Carl was ashore, I anchored Tootsie between a pair of ferrocement sailboats - a green cutter from Oregon and a black ketch from Washington. While waiting, I began to hear an unbelievable stream - in English - of profanity, ranting, and death-threats over the VHF. Looking around with the binoculars, I soon figured out that the source of the outrage was the guy on the Oregon boat, who was directing it toward a hippie-looking group on the Washington boat. Next I heard several pings - and realized that the Oregon guy had a rifle and was shooting at them! It was only a pellet gun, but still I didn't like being in the crossfire all that much. The next scene was even wilder, as the antagonists got into their outboard-powered inflatables and engaged in a ramming battle! The Washington boat's dinghy, with another dinghy lashed alongside, rammed the Oregon dinghy at speed, capsizing one dinghy, throwing two people into the water - including the Oregon guy - and sending his dinghy zooming round in circles with the motor at full throttle. It was total pandemonium! Miraculously, the Oregon guy managed to catch his dingy and crawl aboard, then retreat to his boat while hurling dire threats at his attackers. Shortly thereafter, the Mexican Navy showed up to board both yachts. I decided to change neighborhoods by re-anchoring near an American schooner - whose skipper informed me that the two ferro boats had been in the harbor for a whole year, and their skippers had been fighting continuously!

"After a nice sail to Cabo, we headed on up to La Paz, but were stopped by a Norther at Los Frailes. Unsure of how long it would last, I decided to hitch a ride to the airport and let Carl get on with his singlehanding. I caught a ride to the beach, then stuck out my thumb. My first ride on the dirt road was with a couple of elderly American desert rats in a jeep. My second was with a Mexican family in the back of their rattly old pickup. The third ride toward the highway was with a silent young Mexican, who might have been some sort of cop. Finally, I got a ride with another young Mexican in a van heading south toward the airport, which is where he works. He drove like a maniac, stopping twice to water the flowers at a couple of those little shrines built along the roads in memory of people who died in car accidents. When I asked why he was stopping, he explained they were memorials for his relatives! I was afraid someone might have to build one for me, but we arrived safely at the airport, and soon I was on a plane bound for home. It had been a most interesting three weeks."

Seipel's wife later reported that Carl made a 21-day solo passage from Cabo to Nuku Hiva, experiencing almost no calms in the doldrums. He expects to reach New Zealand, where he's bought property, by November.

How fast can you sail around the world in a small boat? Well, singlehander Ardell Lien of San Diego left 'America's Finest City' in May of last year aboard his Nor' Sea 27 Catalyst, and in less than one year has made it all the way around to Brazil, which we figure is about 80% of a circumnavigation. After a short rest, he was going to resume his trip up the coast of South America, through the Canal, and hoped to be back in California before the end of summer. Latitude readers might recall that only about three years ago, Lien was so weak from congestive heart failure that he couldn't climb a flight of stairs or lift a bag of groceries. But after a heart and kidney transplant at the Mayo Clinic, he's became a new man. He calls his circumnavigation "a mission to build awareness of the need for organ donations around the world." According to the www.organ-donation-for-life.com website, as many as seven lives can be saved or enhanced from the tragedy of just one person. The least we can all do in recognition of Lien's feat is to check the website out and seriously consider putting ourselves on the list of organ donors.

"We were in Bequia for three weeks, including April 13-17 for the just-completed 25th annual Bequia Easter Regatta," write Terry and Evelyn Drew of Aquarelle, a former charter boat the Aptos couple bought and keep in the Caribbean. "There were never more than 12 knots of wind this year. In fact, the cruising class division of the around-the-island race had to be called off. Nonetheless, it had been a hard-fought battle, and we'd made it to within just a few miles of the finish. The after-race party, which went on for hours, made up for it. The fishing boat class was interesting, as Iron Duke, which was built in 1885, made it back out on the water for the first time in many years. There's no original wood left in her hull, but the Portsmouth, New Hampshire-built boat is the one that all the Bequia boats are fashioned after. Trouble, built about 1890, and rebuilt last year, was also back on the course. In less good news, the crew of Perseverance, a 17-ft whale boat, managed to bag a 40-ft humpback whale on Sunday prior to the start of racing. The International Whaling Commission now allows Bequia to kill up to four whales a year, up from just two a few years ago. The island has a long history of whaling, and all who participate in the kill get a portion. For some it's a major source of protein. We're down in Tobago now, and half the boats that were in Bequia are here, too. Thankfully, the loud music hasn't come with them. That stuff was really hard to take in Bequia, as sometimes it went on until 5 a.m., and there was no way to get away from it."

It's June, which also means it's the start of hurricane season in Mexico. Here's the score of Mexican hurricanes in recent years: Last year there were seven hurricanes, the first starting on May 17, the last ending on October 3. None caused any real damage ashore. In '04 there were six hurricanes, the first starting on July 19 and the last ending on September 19. Again, there wasn't much damage. It was different in '03, however, as there were seven hurricanes, the first of which wasn't until August 22, and the last of which was October 26. But two of these were very destructive. The first of these was Ignacio in late August, which really made a mess out of La Paz, as well as boats in and out of the water. But he wasn't anything compared to Marty, which hit almost exactly a month later, causing extreme damage to boats and marinas in La Paz. Up in Puerto Escondido, it blew many boats ashore. While most of the waterfront of La Paz has been cleaned up nicely, there are still many battered boats around at anchor and on the hard, reminders of the terribly destructive power of hurricanes. Good luck to everyone with a boat in Mexico this season. As for the Caribbean-Atlantic hurricane season, which was so horrendously awful last year, it runs from July until December. Good luck to all you folks, too.

"I regret to have to inform everyone that Sylvia de La Mora has left her position here at Marina Mazatlan," reports Antonio Cevallos. "She was much loved by the members of the cruising community for her great service, generosity, and friendship. We'll miss her badly. Before her departure, the cruisers in Mazatlan and other friends organized a farewell party attended by 120 people. The good news is that Liana Buchanan has now joined the Marina Mazatlan team. She and her husband Bob, who runs Total Yacht Services, cruised for a year before deciding to call Marina Mazatlan home. They've been here for four years now. Liana has been a key volunteer in organizing many marina events, knows most of the cruisers who visit us on a regular basis, and knows all the places cruisers need to know about in this wonderful city."

"Our time in Acapulco passed quickly," write John and Amanda Neal of their all-over-the-planet-based Hallberg-Rassy 46 Mahina Tiare, which this summer they are sailing from Vancouver, BC, to the Baltic countries via the Canal. "After a couple of rough days with the current bouncing Mahina Tiare off a concrete finger pier, Sr. Jose Marquez, the Club de Yates harbormaster, found a much better mooring spot for us across from the fuel dock. Changing berths involved undoing six dock lines and one stern mooring line. In order to not hit the expensive sportfishing boat sharing the berth, we had to have her skipper plus three helpers assist with the docklines. A stop at the club's fuel dock - the only place to fuel in Acapulco - took several hours, as we had to wait for two large sportfishing boats to fuel before we topped our main tanks plus the additional jerry jugs. It then took over an hour to carefully back into our new Med-style mooring and adjust the lines and fenders. Although the club has recently added over 100 new berths, the demand for slips here is tremendous, as the wealthy of Mexico are buying 100-ft plus powerboats the way people buy little Bayliners in the Northwest. But the club officials did their best to accomodate all of the even modest cruising boats. Our new stern-to berth meant that we could sleep through the night without having to get up to adjust mooring lines. Plus, we gained a fabulous view of the Acapulco skyline, where the night lights reach up behind the city into the mountain ridges behind.

"Provisioning took a fair amount of time," the couple continue, "as traffic was tied up with holidays and parades. But we again used Wal-Mart for bulk and dry goods, and the new Gigante for vegetables. The quality and price of fruits and veggies varied considerably from store to store. It was so hot in Acapulco that John would leave for his morning run along the beaches well before sunrise, while Amanda would spend that time with her Rodney Yee yoga workout on DVD. The yacht club's large swimming pool was our midday and early evening respite. One of the days we must have gone swimming five times, it was that hot. The pool is surrounded by lush, tropical plants and flowers, and the entire club premises is an oasis of calm, beauty, and extraordinary architecture. Stepping out the club gate requires a quick adjustment to the intense, bustling, and slightly dirty and smelly city. Maybe we're turning into wimps, but the $800 charge for eight nights of moorage - the most we're ever paid - seemed a bargain compared to being anchored out in the dirty harbor and having to worry about the security of the boat and the dinghy. If we weren't working, we could never justify the expense, but as we treasure our days between expeditions, it was a joy to relax a little. The highlights of Acapulco were a leisurely afternoon spent at Fuerte San Diego, an impressive, huge, pentagon-shaped structure built to protect the treasures passing through Acapulco from English and Dutch privateers. The fuerte has been completely restored and turned into a first class museum. Plus, it was air-conditioned."

We spent some time with Big O in Acapulco one May, and can empathize with John and Amanda. It's as hot there as Acapulco Bay is naturally beautiful. And the Acapulco YC - which is actually a private club as opposed to a U.S.-style yacht club ­ and particularly the club's pool, is a very welcome refuge. But $100/night for a mooring. Wow! They must think they're in South Florida or Martha's Vineyard. The truth of the matter is that Mexicans, from middle class on up, are starting to take to boating in a big way. In fact, the last time we were at Paradise Village, Harbormaster Dick Markie told us they were going to have to reconfigure their docks to accomodate a 170-ft motoryacht that will be permanently based there. On a slightly different scale, but no less important, Markie reported that Paradise Village will be the site of the prestigious J/24 Worlds next March, with entries expected from 30 countries.

One of the cultural differences Americans have the most difficulty with in Mexico is that laws are interpreted and enforced very differently from one area to another. For example, if you want to clear out of most ports in Mexico for the United States - an international clearance - you have to get a time-consuming and costly medical clearance. But if you clear out of Ensenada for the United States, they don't require one. So what do mariners do if they are headed from Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan or La Paz for San Diego? They clear from that port for Ensenada - an easy 'domestic' clearance - then pop over the border, not having had to get a medical clearance. We've even heard rumors that boats simple clear from P.V., Mazatlan, or La Paz for Ensenada, then don't even both stopping there at all. As long as you can prove that you came from Mexico, U.S. officials couldn't seem to care less about any medical clearance.

Another area of Mexican law that is interpreted differently depending on where you are concerns the legal way to charter foreign-owned vessels. Neil and Mary Shroyer of Marina de La Paz tell us that, in the La Paz area, it can only be done under the auspices of a company that is 51% or more owned by a Mexican. But David Crowe of San Jose, who owns the Paradise Marina-based Choy-Morrelli 70 catamaran Humu-Humu, says that's not how it works in Puerto Vallarta. "I know because I have formed the required Mexican corporation, having undergone all the necessary inspections, and am now duly approved to conduct charters in Mexican waters. In fact, Humu-Humu will start summer charters on Banderas Bay on May 22. Here's another neat thing. The corporation has Mexican liability insurance, which covers all paying passengers. It costs $500 for one year. Try to get passenger liability insurance in the good ol' lawyer-infested U.S. for a price like that."

What's currently driving us to distraction about Mexico is whether or not they are going to require all boats over 10 meters to have an AIS (Automatic Identification System) - as they've been threatening. Here's the strange story: According to Mexico's powerful SCT ministry, thanks to something called the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership, Mexico, like co-signers the United States and Canada, will be obligated to require that all boats over 33 feet, foreign and domestic, be equipped with these devices that identify what and where the vessel is. These devices cost about $700, but there would also be a monthly fee of about $20 to be paid to a private company for the service. But here's the rub - while SCT insists that the U.S. will be implementing the exact same policy, the U.S. Coast Guard, including the department that is charged with AIS implementation, say they don't have any idea what SCT is talking about. The U.S. requires such devices on commercial boats over a certain size, but not recreational boats. In any event, about a month ago the Marina Owners Association of Mexico went to Mexico City, met with the SCT honchos, and came away with what they thought was a promise that the requirement wouldn't go into effect in Mexico until it did in the United States. But then the SCT went ahead and sent the proposed legislation to Cofmer, which is an agency of the Mexican government that checks to see that no new laws contradict existing law. If Cofmer finds there are no conflicts, the legislation automatically becomes law, game over.

Will a law requiring AIS units on all boats over 33 feet go into effect in the next few months in Mexico? If so, will port captains in Mexico actually enforce it? How will boats currently in Mexico get such units? What will happen to owners who refuse to get them? We'll let you know as soon as we find out.

"While getting ready to help deliver a boat from Cabo to San Diego, I looked into getting the necessary Mexican fishing licenses," reports Bob Walden. "As many readers already know, everybody on a boat in Mexico must have a personal fishing license - even if the only fishing gear aboard is for emergencies. What might be less well known is how easy it can be to get such licenses. Thanks to Sherry at Vagabundos del Mar, it took me less than five minutes and $50 to become legal for one year. I got my license priority mail less than 24 hours later. So anyone looking to get a license may want to check out www.vagabundos.com.

John Kelly and Linda Keigher of the Seattle-based Sirona 38 Hawkeye report it took them 23 days to cover the 3,185 miles between the Galapagos and Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas. "We are in awe of the islands - they are soooo beautiful! And the water is clean, clear, and warm. We now have a sense of accomplishment that's hard to explain. We were so excited to get here, as when we listened on the net each day, we'd hear about boats that had just arrived. We're sorry to say that each day there seemed to be, in addition to the reports of arrivals, reports of boats having problems. For example, Figment suffered three broken shrouds, so Bob, who was a rigger, was doing his best to jury-rig something. Another boat had an engine problem, and had been working on it for several days. Today the skipper of Trudel checked in and said he'd lost his propeller! They are fine, however, and will be sailling in - although they will need help getting the hook down in a good spot."

Our report in 'Lectronic Latitude that Jack van Ommen had singlehanded his triple-chine Naja 29 Fleetwood from California to Vietnam got a lot of reaction. For example, Scott Brear writes:

"I lived in Hong Kong for 10 years, and while I cruised a lot in the Philippines, I never did make it to Vietnam. But the Royal Hong Kong YC held races to Vietnam every other year. I have a lot of knowledge regarding the problems with pirates in that region and with corrupt government officials. Vietnam is extremely corrupt, as nothing gets done without a payment. And if the payment is to the wrong person, the payee can be exposed as 'corrupt' and get jail time - as happened to a friend of mine. The pirates are generally in a region bordered by Indonesia, the southern Philippines, and Vietnam. They have been around for centuries and are a real problem. They used to ignore pleasure boats because of the slim booty, but now it seems that all boats are fair game. My advice would be to only travel in groups. I would also stay well away from Mindanao, the southern tip of Palawan, as well as virtually the entire coast of Vietnam. The people in that part of the world are beautiful, very inviting, and all of the countries are magnificent to visit in so many ways. Nonetheless, a few pirates and corrupt officials can quickly ruin a very nice journey - or charter."

That's right, Sunsail has a bareboat charter base at Nha Trang, Vietnam, which is just south of Danang. The boats are allowed to cruise a 60-mile stretch of coast that is, presumably, free of pirates. By the way, we'll have van Ommen's report on Vietnam in the next issue.

"I have to get someone to bring some more current Latitudes down to Panama," writes Bruce Winship of the Alameda-based Crowther 33 cat Chewbacca. "I was walking by the yacht club bar carrying the May '06 issue, and was almost mobbed. I finally relinquished it in return for a cold beer. You just gotta love capitalism! By the way, the crew of Chewbacca helped Steve and Renee take their F/P 42 cat Shiraz through the Canal a few weeks ago."

Well, Bruce, we have what we think is great news for all you folks out cruising and lusting for the latest issue of Latitude. By the time this issue gets out, you should be able to download the complete latest issue - in magazine rather than scrolling format - and read it at your convenience on your computer. It will be the complete issue in magazine form, and to 'turn the page', you just hit a button. The thing we like best about it is that the photographs turn out so much better than they do on newsprint. We're very excited about it, and hope you will be also. Visit www.latitude38.com for details.

Speaking of Panama, we're told that the folks behind Red Frog Beach Resort and Marina in the Bocas del Toro area on the Caribbean side of Panama have obtained all the permits necessary to begin construction of their housing, marina, and golf course development. We've also been told that all 100+ slips have been spoken for. While Panama is usually a long overnight trip from California, it's only a couple of hours by air from Texas and the South, and is becoming an ever more popular place for Americans to retire. Unlike the mostly murky water on the Pacific Coast of Panama, the waters on Panama's Caribbean coast are incredibly clear. A popular feature of the Bocas del Toro area, which is already home to two small marinas, is that, historically, hurricanes haven't ventured that far south.

The damn sea lions are back! Eric Mears, who has become a partner in the 45-ft Capricorn Cat formerly 100% owned by Blair and Joan Grinoles, reports that he's having a heck of a time keeping sea lions off the cat at her Newport Beach mooring. "About four or five large - 400 to 500-pound sea lions showed up last week, and I'm having a heck of a time keeping them off Capricorn Cat."

Sea lions taking over boats have been and from time to time continue to be a serious problem at Pier 39, Monterey, Avila Beach, Newport Beach, and other places. Where they have been congregating on boats has not been their natural habitat. But they are cute and much-loved by the public, so almost anything you can think of to try to get rid of them is illegal or ineffective. Up close, sea lions aren't so cute. In fact, they are mean and dangerous. As we know from first-hand experience, they make a terrible mess on boats, stink, and often make it impossible for people to sleep anywhere in the vicinity. In addition, they've been the cause of a number of boats sinking, including a large sailboat last summer in Newport Harbor.

It's been a couple of years since we'd heard from old friends Garth Wilcox and Wendy Hinman, who did the 2000 Ha-Ha aboard their Port Ludlow, WA-based Wylie 31 Velella. It turns out they've been out cruising all along, and most recently they sailed from Saipan, in the Marshall Islands, to Hong Kong - which meant they left the Pacific Ocean for the South China Sea, having passed through the Philippine Sea along the way. It was a tricky passage, as it was transition time for the monsoon, which means unstable weather - and even the chance of typhoons (the name for hurricanes in that part of the world.) But they made it safely, and we'll have a longer report next month.

There were three days of racing in last month's Second Annual Marina Mazatlan Regatta, with 11 boats between 27 and 38 feet participating. Much of the racing - cruiser-style, of course - was along Mazatlan's popular malecon, where the colorful spinnakers attracted the attention of the locals enjoying their afternoon strolls. There was tremendous local support for the event, from officials such as Lt. Gabriel Fuentes, representing the Navy, and Capt. Gonzalez Dada, representing the port captain's office, to radio, television, and newspaper coverage. It all culminated with a ramped up, catered, tableclothes-on-the-table, sit-down dinner, where the men were even required to wear shirts. The top three places went to Techumsech, Eduardo Olivares's Morgan 37; Spondylus, Jose Luis Rivera's Catalina 27; and tied for third, Galapagos, Jose Villalon's C&C 38, and Gypsy, Luis Algara's Yankee 30. Nonetheless, the loudest audience applause went to those skippers who refused to lighten ship by leaving their cruising gear - washer-dryers, televisions, fuel jugs, anchors, kayaks, dinghies - ashore.

The World Cruising Club, the British outfit that's been running the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia for 21 years, has announced that they will be hosting another Around The World Rally. If we're not mistaken, the only previous one was the '82 Europa '92, in which two Northern California boats participated. Back then the event was run by Jimmy Cornell, who founded the ARC. He's since sold the outfit, but just completed the new course on his own boat, and pronounced it good. The route wisely makes use of the Panama Canal and goes via the Cape of Good Hope to avoid political strife in the Red Sea.

The new Rally will start from the Caribbean in January of '08, and continue as follows: Panama, Ecuador and the Galapagos, the Marquesas, the Tuamotus, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Nuie, and Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia, and Darwin, Indonesia, Cocos-Keeling, the Chagos, Mauritius, Reunion, South Africa, and Cape Town for Christmas. In January of '09, the rally will cross the Atlantic to Brazil for Carnival, and up to the Caribbean to complete the circumnavigation by late spring. If you're thinking that just over a year for a circumnavigation is lightning fast, it is, as the typical cruise around the globe is three years. Nonetheless, the organizers assure everyone that there will be plenty of time for independent cruising, side-trips, and breaks.

The World Cruising Club has yet to announce a price for the event or say how many boats will be allowed to participate. They do, however, acknowledge receiving over 500 inquiries. The event will be open to monohulls 38 feet or longer, and multihulls between 38 and 60 feet. Each boat must have at least two people aboard, and there will be detailed safety requirements. If you have any interest in such an event, we'd visit www.worldcruising.com and get your name on the list. For no matter what the fee is going to be - we're sure there will be a lot of takers.

With the summer cruising season upon us, we'd love to hear from you folks cruising in the South Pacific, the Med, the Pacific Northwest - wherever!

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