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June 2011

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With reports this month from Scarlett O'Hara in Thailand; from Mendocino Queen in the Caribbean; from Cat 'n About back in Mexico; from Migracion on Brick House being dismasted; from Java on sailing to the Marquesas; from Cocokai on the Solomon Islands; from Azure II on a second season in the Med; from DreamKeeper concluding a circumnavigation; and Cruise Notes.

Scarlett O' Hara — Serendipity 43
John and Renee Prentice
In Thailand Out of Season
(San Diego)

We've been in Thailand for about two and a half weeks now. We spent the first week getting to Au Chalong, the main harbor on Phuket, where we checked into the country and tried to organize getting some new rigging parts for the boat. We did get our new roller furling system installed and the sail modified, which means it will be easier for us to use the staysail now.

But it's been an eye-opener to us to learn how 'foreign' Thailand is, in the sense that very few people speak English. For example, we've been working with a big sail loft that employees hundreds of people, but only about five of them speak English. And we're not sure how well the five understand us. As a result, our sail got done, but not correctly, as — among other issues — they sewed the suncover on the wrong side of the sail. Luckily, John was able to reverse the roller unit and all is well.

We have also ordered some new parts for our rigging, but they are being sent from France, so it's not clear when they will arrive. Fortunately, all seems to be right with the mast right now, but we aren't testing it too severely. The biggest problem we're having with the rigging is that there is nobody in Asia who can examine or repair rod rigging. It has to be shipped to Australia, which would require that we pull the mast and sit in a marina waiting for either new rigging, which John would have to install, or have the old rigging reheaded and shipped back to us. Neither option appeals to us right now, as it would be very expensive. So we're taking it day by day.

We left the main harbor of Au Chalong as soon as we got our sail back, and have enjoyed three lovely days exploring Phang Nga Bay. This shallow bay — in some places too shallow for our boat — is northeast of Phuket and has hundreds of small islands. Today we went 'honging', which is rowing the dinghy inside of hongs. Hongs are caves that you enter from the sea, but are open to the sky once you get to the center. They are very cool! Entering the sea caves is a little scary, of course, as they are dark and have lots of bats. But what a terrific experience!

Most tourists come to Phang Nga Bay by boat, and then guides lead them into hongs aboard kayaks. We're amazed at the number of tourists and how much traffic they create. We'll spend two weeks out here exploring, then return to Phuket to check on the rigging parts and 'officially' exit Thailand. The problem is that our tourist permit is only good for 30 days, but we can take as much time as we want making the 120-mile trip back to the Langkawi, Malaysia. We will then make a trip, by plane, to Penang, Malaysia, to obtain a 60-day Thai visa, which will allow us to return to Thailand for more exploring.

The scenery in Thailand is the most spectacular we've seen in all our cruising to date. Some of the cliffs rise 1,000 feet or more straight up from the sea, and are spectacular. And vegetation and trees grow right out of the rocks. We have seen hundreds of eagles, which soar above the cliffs on the thermals. And every night we've been treated to light shows — meaning lightning and thunder. Some nights the lightning has been a little too close for comfort, but it's nonetheless extremely beautiful. The water in this part of Thailand is warm, but very green and cloudy, as opposed to clear. We've also been seeing millions of volleyball-sized jellyfish. We have braved the water to cool off, but have kept a sharp look out for the jellyfish. Our next island stop will be Koh Phing Kan, also known as 'James Bond Island', as they filmed the Bond movie Man With the Golden Gun there.

The southwest monsoon season is due to begin in May or June, which will bring more rain and wind from a new direction. But we still think we'll be able to see things between the raindrops and wind storms.

Weather Update: We've been trying to cruise Thailand in the offseason, but have had terrible weather the last few days. It's been impossible to anchor for the wind, as it seems to change direction all the time. It's been so unpleasant that we may have to retreat to Langkawi, Malaysia, hide in Rebak Marina, and sit around the pool.

— john and renee 04/25/11

Mendocino Queen — Downeast 38
Allen and Kate Barry
All Around the World
(San Francisco)

It’s been a long time — perhaps from the South Pacific in '95 — since we made a report to Changes. In short, we left San Francisco in '93 and have been on our boat ever since. It took us 11 years — meaning until July of '04 — to get through the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans, and make it to the East Coast of the United States.

With the cruising kitty pretty much empty by then, we took jobs at West Marine in Fort Lauderdale, and then a couple of years later went to work for Bluewater Books and Charts, which we found to be an exceptionally good place to work. Bluewater also has a store — the Armchair Sailor — in Newport, Rhode Island. This was perfect for us, as it meant we could winter in Florida and then take our boat to Newport for the summer and hang out at Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and all the other great places in the Northeast when not working. While there, we would represent The Armchair Sailor at the Newport Boat Show, and then sail to Annapolis and represent Bluewater at that boat show, too.

We retired again at the end of the '10 Annapolis Boat Show and made for the Virgin Islands. We had a rough trip south, with monster waves following us the first couple of days. But after 9 days and 1,300 miles, we dropped anchor in Francis Bay, St John, USVI. The air and water were 80 degrees, so into the water we went.

After five months in the U.S., British, and Spanish Virgins, we took off for St. Martin, St. Barth and Antigua. As we write this, we're in Antigua for Antigua Sailing Week.

Our mode of cruising has been to proceed slowly. We like to stop places long enough to learn a little of the language (although we're not very good at it), figure out the transportation system (if there is any), learn the monetary system, and visit the markets. We attend church services — it doesn't matter what type or denomination — go to community events, and often befriend a few folks. The following are some of the highlights of our cruising to date:

Palmyra — It was then under the reign of 'Mad Roger', and with visitations from a few of the characters in the And the Sea Will Tell murders.

The South Pacific island nations — They blend the traditional with the inevitable coming of the modern world. An old man in Micronesia swam out to our boat to tell us he had a son enrolled at the University of Ohio. When at school, the son lived in a dorm; when back home, he lived in a thatched hut.

Hong Kong — We spent six months at the Royal Hong Kong YC. We made money by working as private English tutors to the children of the Hong Kong elite.

Australia — We spent nine months on the Queensland Coast, out at the Great Barrier Reef, and at the Whitsunday Islands.

New Zealand’s Bay of Islands — We spent about six months at the uninhabited islands, enjoying great hiking, swimming, and gathering of clams (pippis) and mussels. The town of Russell was wonderfully quaint.

Southeast Asia — We enjoyed about three years between Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Those three countries are so very close together, but so very different. We did a lot of land travel in Southeast Asia, by bus, train, boat, raft, motorbike and three-wheel taxis.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands — They belong to India, and hold the distinction of perhaps having the most gigantic bureaucracy for such a small place. Even though it took us three days to check in, it was well worth it. These islands in the Indian Ocean are truly a big step back in time. For example, gravel is produced by women who hammer on stones all day long, until both the women and the stones are sufficiently broken down. Mind you, this is in the developed part of the islands! There are also restricted areas, such as Nicobar Island. The government says the people there live such a Stone Age existence they are not mentally equipped to meet outsiders. And that if they do, they tend to attack with bows and arrows.

The Chagos Archipelago — These wonderful uninhabited atolls in the middle of the Indian Ocean are controlled by the Brits. Sea life and bird life abound, with crabs and lobster in abundance. No provisions are available, however, so we arrived with everything we needed for a four-month stay. It was a Robinson Crusoe kind of experience.

The Seychelles — This is the home of the giant tortoise, and they walk along the roads just like the humans. The officials here were very polished, courteous and professional. In fact, the Customs officer sent us an email welcoming us to the Seychelles, and offered his assistance if we had any needs or difficulties. The islands were wonderful for hiking, biking and snorkeling, and seemed to be a favorite of the humpback whales.

East Africa — We spent a couple of years in Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, and South Africa. We got to know a bunch of the local people, and visited some homes and Masai villages and bomas. We also traveled to the Serengeti, Great Rift Valley, and Ngorongoro Crater by public bus. The sights, sounds and smells of the African plains are as if they belong to another world. It was also so radically different from any experience we had had before, as life is so immediate and intense, and the people are kind. For example, I was looking for Immigration at the port of Dar Es Salaam, when a Somali man selling ferryboat tickets approached me to show me the way. And at a sun-drenched, dusty crossroad on the way to Arusha, we waited for a bus. A number of people approached us to be sure we were okay, and knew which bus to take. They weren't used to seeing white folks standing in the sun. The officials in Kenya and Tanzania were scrupulously honest, and there was never a hint of improper behavior.

Cape of Good Hope — It was rough down there, but at least there was shelter.

St. Helena Island — It lies isolated in the mid-Atlantic, famous for being where Napoleon was imprisoned and died. There is no airfield, so most residents never leave the island. The people, who are known as 'Saints', are very welcoming and friendly.

Our website — — has some details about our travels and a few chapters of what will become a book in the not too distant future.

A lot of people wonder how we been able to do all this cruising. We are not rich. We had careers in health care administration and social work in our previous lives. We met in '90, and were married a year later. Our wedding was aboard Mendocino Queen in the shelter of the Marin Headlands. In '91 and '92 we worked as captain and crew aboard a large ketch on a Pacific cruise, and in '93 departed on our present journey. We continue to work, as we, like most cruisers, must continue to earn money. We've picked up some charter work along the way, but have taken other jobs as well. For example, we worked in a cafe in New Zealand, taught English in Hong Kong, and while in Guam, Kate worked as the director of a cancer clinic while Allen was the engineer on a large commercial catamaran.

To give you an idea of our 'cost of cruising', we've spent about $1,500/month for the last six months cruising in the Caribbean. However, it's important to understand that we never stay in marinas, and only eat out occasionally — usually inexpensive lunches. But we are having lots of fun and think it's a great way to retire.

We pursue an active lifestyle and tend to keep on the move. Besides enjoying all the maritime features of the places we visit, we also travel inland. For example, while in New Zealand, we rented a car, toured both islands, and Allen did the bungee jump at Queenstown. In Australia we took buses to the Outback and climbed Ayers Rock. While in Borneo, we spent a few days climbing Mt. Kinabalu. We toured the length and breadth of Thailand by just about every means of transportation known to man. These are just a few examples.

Since we are sexist, Allen does most of the engine room stuff. Since we are also not sexist, Allen does most of the cooking, too. Kate is the navigator, baker, and route planner. She also does all of the worrying, since Allen doesn't seem capable in that respect. Kate also does all of the long term planning, as Allen apparently doesn't have long-reach synapses in his brain. Allen catches, cleans and cooks all of the fish, lobster and crabs — and likes it to do it. Kate reads more than Allen — and more than most other people. We keep up with world events via the Voice of America, the BBC, and English newspapers and magazines when we can find them. We tend to eat what is most fresh, available and appetizing wherever we happen to be. However, we have passed on some things we've seen along the way, as they were either just to gross or weird for our conservative backgrounds.

— kate and allen 05/15/11

Cat'n About — Gemini 3000
Rob and Linda Jones
Seven Years, Ten Countries
(Whidbey Island, WA)

We thought you might enjoy a photo of Cat 'n About sporting the various courtesy flags she's collected in the last seven years. We started cruising in '04 by sailing north — from Whidbey Island to Canada. But that short trip was followed by heading south to participate in the '04 Ha-Ha. We spent almost three years in Mexico before continuing south to the Galapagos.

We didn't want to continue across the Puddle (yet), so we headed to mainland Ecuador. We then sailed up to Panama, transited the Canal, and continued on to Cartagena, Colombia. We had intended to continue on to the East Coast of the United States and the Bahamas, but we decided that we missed Mexico too much! Our being from Seattle, you would think we could deal with rain, but last year's rain in Cartagena seemed biblical.

When we arrived at Marina de La Paz, it was like coming home! So we put up all the courtesy flags, starting with Mexico and followed in order of all the countries we visited. We also flew our various flags — from the Zihua Cruising Club, the Bluewater Cruising Club, the '04 Ha-Ha, and, of course, our swallowtail Pusser's Rum flag.

While in Guatemala, we fell in love with Santiago, a small Mayan town in the mountains on Lake Atitlan. So we bought a small piece of property there, and are currently building a small house for use during hurricane season. Having spent a fair bit of time enjoying rum in Central America, I've become quite a fan of the spirit. In my humble opinion, Guatemala's Zacapa is the world's best rum.

We enjoyed all of our travels and have some great memories from everywhere we went. Nonetheless, in our opinion Mexico has offered the best cruising so far. It has the most of the things we enjoy the most — best food, great weather and mostly easy sailing conditions, and the dry heat of Baja is just fine with us. Nonetheless, Cat 'n About will be spending the summer alone at Fonatur in Puerto Escondido, as we have to return to the Seattle area to work for a few months. Gotta pay for that house in Guatemala, you know.

For folks thinking about heading south of the border and worried about security, all we lost in seven years of cruising was one camera. That was taken from our backpack by a young man who loaded our packs into the back of a plane out of Bocas del Toro. Other than that, we didn't have a problem. However, we don't buy drugs, hang out in bars late at night, or walk around wearing expensive jewelry and flashing cash.

— rob and linda 05/15/11

Brick House — Valiant 40
Patrick and Rebecca Childress
Dismasted Near Kiribati
(Middletown, Rhode Island)

"Patrick and Rebecca Childress's Valiant 40 Brick House was dismasted in late April while underway from Kiribati to Vanuatu in the South Pacific," reports Bruce Balan of the California-based Cross 46 tri Migracion. "The chainplate for the boat's port upper shroud broke when a squall passed through, causing the mast to fold over just before the spreaders. Neither Patrick nor Rebecca was injured, and there was little damage to the boat.

"They were able to motor to a nearby atoll," Balan continues, "where they stabilized the rig and then motorsailed with a jury rig to Tarawa. As I write, they are attempting to cut off the top section of the mast, which is dragging in the water, so they can continue the 400 miles to Majuro in the Marshall Islands, where they hope to effect repairs."

Patrick is known and respected for the solo circumnavigation he made 32 years ago aboard his Catalina 27 Juggernaut. Both he and Rebecca have written scores of articles for various sailing publications, and helped many sailors during their current circumnavigation.

In a recent email updating the mishap, Rebecca wrote: “Patrick miraculously climbed the mast in a bumpy anchorage to make alterations so it would be safe enough for us to proceed. He has a great spirit about it all. What we need now is a 4-foot mast section made by Spar Tech (or possibly Super Spar; the Valiant factory isn’t sure which one we have). The section is 25 inches in circumference; a perfectly shaped oval about 9 inches fore and aft, and 6 inches side to side at the fattest part. There are no flat sides.” If anyone can help find the proper section of mast, please email Patrick and Rebecca ASAP.

"Amazingly," Bruce explains, "while bashing into waves for over 12 hours, the TackTick wind sensor continued to give us wind speed equal to our water speed — in other words, read correctly. After our removing it from the mast, washing it in fresh water, and lubing it with WD-40, it continues to operate. The tricolor light housing was destroyed, but the Bebi Electronics LED light held tight for its 12 hours of saltwater thrashing. It was unharmed even after Patrick dropped it in 38 feet of water."

— bruce 04/30/11

Readers: Having seen the photo at left in 'Lectronic, Craig Shaw, a professional rigger with a reputation for helping Ha-Ha participants at no charge, was incensed. The skipper of the Portland-based Columbia 43 Adios wrote, "Whoever welded up those chainplates should be shot, even now, 35 years later. The chainplates look like something out of Taiwan, not Washington state, where the Valiants were made back then. Thanks to the great photo, you can clearly see the weld around the edge, and that the chainplates were made out of two pieces of 3/16" stainless. They should have been made out of solid stainless. There was no weld around the clevis pin hole, so salt water got in and caused all the crevice corrosion. Owners of other Valiants of that era should inspect their chainplates."

Java — Crowther 48
Evan Dill and Donna
Crossing to the Marquesas
(Santa Barbara)

We had a long, long passage — 28 days — from Puerto Vallarta to Fatu Hiva, the southernmost island in the Marquesas. Our passage was 7-10 days longer than anticipated, mostly because we had at least 7 days of very little wind while trapped in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), which is the transition zone along the equator between the northeast and southeast tradewind belts. Usually it's only about 120 miles wide and centered at 4°N. But this time it moved around. We fell into it at about 4°N, and didn't get out of it until 4°S, which meant it affected us for about 500 miles of sailing. Or, more accurately, not sailing!

Most of the boats around us chose to motor through the ITCZ, but I wanted to do it the old-fashioned way, which is to sail when you can and spend the remainder of the time resting while waiting for more wind to show. The ITCZ is usually an area of lots of thunderstorms, which means there is lots of wind around the squalls, but not much between them. This time there wasn't much squall activity, so we didn't log many miles a day.

This lack of progress didn't bother my lady Donna, Joby, a young crew I picked up in Puerto Vallarta, or myself. But it became unnerving to the Canadian woman who rounded out our crew. She had a deadline for flying out of Papeete, which I assured her she'd have no problem making. But I guess she really didn't believe the three of us would be perfectly content to sit around waiting for wind, hour after hour — even though I'd tried to make that clear to her before we left. I finally gave her the option of paying for the fuel we used if we motored to the southeast trades. She took it, and we motored for two days before getting into steady wind.

Alas, we also had problems with sugar. The woman used what seemed to the rest of us to be copious amounts of it in her coffee and tea. Donna finally tried to hide it so there would be some for everyone. After the woman caught her, there was an unpleasant tension on the boat. Then all the sugar was gone. It's hard to go cold turkey from sugar.

Anyway, after getting to the Marqueas, the woman flew out to Tahiti, and Joby had to go to his grandmother's funeral, so it's just been Donna and me. We're leaving the Marquesas heading for the Tuamotus and Tahiti, the latter being where Joby will rejoin us.

Life has been good. We've been catching lots of fish, and eating plenty of mango, papaya and pamplemousse. We'll be in the Society Islands until the middle of June, where we'll be welcoming guests. All anyone needs to bring is a swimsuit and $12 for a pareau.

— evan 05/12/11

Cocokai — 65-ft Schooner
Greg King
The Solomon Islands
(Long Beach)

To continue on from our report that left off in the April issue of Latitude, we left Vanuatu late August to head north to the Solomon Islands. We visited several islands and island groups, including Guadalcanal, the Russell Islands, and the Western Province. Although the best snorkeling was in the remote Russells, the highlight of the Solomons was scuba diving around famous Marovo Lagoon in the Western Province.

We anchored right outside the lagoon in Peava, off Nggatokae Island, for a few weeks. Coco got private lessons with Lovely Lisa — formerly of Kona — to earn her PADI certification. Coco is now official, and officially hooked. I guess it would be hard not to be, when diving along sheer coral walls, in crystal clear 86° water, where you are buzzed by sharks and see things like a devil ray, an eagle ray, a mottled sting ray, pygmy sea horses, turtles, and six types of nemo fish — all on your training dives.

The Solomon Islanders in the Western Province are also known for being the best carvers in the Pacific. We bartered for several intricate wall hangings for the boat. Jen's b'day present was a new hand-carved cockpit table, complete with etchings of local fish. We acquired some incredible fine art wooden bowls inlaid with intricate nautilus shell patterns. The funky carvings we had traded for in the Southern Solomons looked like folk art compared to what these artisans created.

Unfortunately, because this is their main source of cash for very expensive school fees, we were soon weary of the multitude of canoes that visited us to "just show, no buy, just show" their wares. So it was something of a surprise when in Gizo near the end of our stay, instead of coming by with carvings, a guy came by with a couple of live crocodiles. For about $30 they would kill one, skin the hide for future use for belts, wallets, and shoes, fillet it for supper, and give us the skull to make into a cool wall sconce — just like the one we saw lit up at the Gizo Hotel. Even though crocodile is said to be delicious, we passed. But our Aussie friends took them up on it.

World War II had a tremendous impact on the Solomons, and they love Americans for freeing their islands from the Japanese occupation. We sailed past tiny Kennedy Island near Gizo, where JFK and his crew were stranded. We met several offspring of the local who saved them.

You realize how rugged these islands are when you hear the story of how long it took all the Japanese soldiers to learn that the war had ended. In 1965, 20 years after the war was officially over, a Japanese holdout, still on duty, was spotted stealing vegetables from a local's garden. He only gave himself up after a leaflet drop.

North of Gizo, we enjoyed diving a sunken World War II freighter, which had some interesting memorabilia. Coco found an old telephone headset and a glass jar full of what she thought were balloons, but were actually 60-year-old condoms. That added a little extra tidbit to the ol' home schooling curriculum!

In a somewhat similar vein, we found out why there had been so much interest in our boat's name. It turns out 'coco' is local slang for a man's banana-shaped privates and, unfortunately, 'kai' means 'to eat'. I guess the only good news is that we didn't find this out for three months, by which time we were leaving. Interesting enough, we found this out from a fellow cruiser, as the locals were much too polite to say anything. Of course, as soon as our Coco found out, she immediately insisted on being addressed by her official name, Nicole. Once we reached Papua New Guinea, where the slang is different, she resumed using her unofficial name.

We made the crossing from the Solomons to PNG after a brief stopover for Christmas in the remote Treasury Islands, another World War II battleground. Chief John, an ancient fellow, had some amazing photos of Americans landing on the beach in front of his hut, having come to oust the Japanese. Although told there were "no crocs here", we saw our first crocodile in the wild when anchoring. A few weeks before in Munda, we chatted with the police boat that was heading to one of our prior anchorages for a crocodile hunt. This serene river estuary was a friendly spot where some local girls came to collect Nicole to spend the afternoon canoeing and kayaking. The locals girls happily and repeatedly fell into the water. We later found out that three big crocs had been hunted there. Yikes! We always ask about crocs before swimming, and the usual response is "no crocodile here". But upon further questioning, we find out that there might be one, right over there, after all!

There's no room to report on PNG now, but we're currently in Townsville, Australia. We decided that the girls are going to go on part-time cruising status for awhile, so Coco can go back to 'real' school and do that teen-age thang. I plan to take the boat up to Thailand in July to get some major work done, and am therefore looking for longterm crew. We would be cruising Indonesia, and perhaps take another pass through the Solomons and Vanuatu before that. If anyone is interested, I can be reached at . I will be in California in June, so we could meet in person then.

After December, it will either be braving the pirates of the Arabian Sea to get to the Med, or doing the long slog back to California via the North Pacific, and trying to go to the Med that way.

— greg 04/28/11

Azure II — Leopard 47 Cat
The Pimentel Family
Cruising Around Corfu

Rodney: We woke up the day before Easter in high spirits, for we were on the island of Corfu, Greece, where every Easter is preceded by a very strange ceremony — people throwing ceramic pots off the balconies of tall apartment houses.

In the old days, the Venetians threw their useless junk out their windows on New Year's Day, to get rid of the old and bring in the new. Following the Venetian tradition, the pagans threw old pots out of their windows to get rid of evil spirits. The Christians threw old pots on Easter, saying it marked a new beginning. From all these traditions, the Easter pot-throwing ceremony was born. The festivity is unique to Corfu, and while it's done all over the island, thousands come to watch in the capital of Corfu town.

When we made our way to the town square at 10 a.m., a crowd covered the entire area and surrounding streets. We finally found a spot to settle down, but as the already massive crowd grew, it was all I could do to stop people pushing their way into our front-row place. The mass became so big that eventually people were standing just a foot or two away from where the huge pots landed from several stories above.

The pot dropping began at 11 a.m., with a continuous shower of pots about six inches tall. After a few minutes, someone brought out a 4-foot pot, and the low rumble of the crowd became a roar. People next to ground zero cowered as the mass of clay fell with an ear-splitting crash. A few people kept on bringing out similarly large pots, all of them painted different shades of red and blue.

The pot dropping went on for another 20 minutes or so, until no one had any more pots to throw. The throng of people started to move, and everyone grabbed shards of the pots as souvenirs. Shop workers soon appeared and swept the huge mounds of clay away from their stores. Three days later, we could still spot orange colored dust, the last mark of the Easter pot dropping ceremony.

Jane: There are a couple of small islands just to the south of Corfu. We stopped at Paxos, a tiny and quaint island. It wasn't high season yet, so the weekend ferries weren't running and there weren't many people around. Great! It made it the perfect place to rent scooters and ride around the island, and for me to learn how to operate one. Toward the end of our trip around, Leo, my son and passenger, gave me some advice: "Mommy, let go of your fears and go fast!" I did speed up on a straightaway, he whooped, and I almost did let go of my fears.

While at Paxos, we were tied up to the town quay of Gaios. While there, we Med moored, which is a bit tricky because you put out a bow anchor, back up, and tie two lines to the concrete quay, hopefully without hitting the quay with your boat.

It's always exciting, as RJ drops the anchor, Rodney backs up the boat, and Leo and I tie off the stern lines. There is potential for disaster, but this was our second time, and we did well.

The wind was expected to shift that night, and we intended to go to a another location. But the wind was strong, pushing our cat against the quay, so we decided to stay put.

That evening, we were prepared for the wind to change to the south and we went to the recommended northern location. The boys sleep through everything, of course, so Rodney and I were up at 3:30 a.m., fending the boat off the dock. Prior to that a 50-foot motoryacht moored next to us, got a line wrapped around her prop, and we had to let them side tie to us. That put even more pressure on our boat against the quay. We finagled things around, put out more fenders, and eventually went back to bed. No harm done. But these changing strong winds have had us up more than a few times. The next day we loaned our scuba gear to the powerboat people so they could free their prop and disconnect from us. They did, and off they went.

We're about to haul the boat in Preveza for a bottom job. After that, we've got to see all that we can see, because we've only got three months left on our Caribbean-Mediterranean cruise.

— rodney and jane 05/10/11

DreamKeeper — Pacific Seacraft 40
Gar Duke and Nicole Friend
They've Been Around

Gar and Nicole had cause for celebration last month in Banderas Bay, as they crossed their outbound track, thus completing a four-year circumnavigation. "We don't have that hanging over our heads anymore!" says Gar. They will soon start the long trek north to their old home at Sausalito's Pelican Harbor, but don't expect them before mid-summer.

When the couple headed west from Puerto Vallarta in the spring of '07 on the 3,000-mile passage to French Polynesia, they were both in their early 30s, making them some of the youngest Pacific Puddle Jumpers we'd ever reported on. "We believe in living life now, and making the big adventures happen while we still have our health, drive and wonder," Nicole told us.

After completing the crossing they wrote, "We appreciated being on the ocean, being witness to the power and beauty of the mighty Pacific and her changing faces. . . Like many people, we had ups and downs throughout the passage. Some days we were in love with sailing and dreamed of being out there for weeks. Other days we dreaded getting up for our morning watch, having had an uncomfortable, sweaty, sleepless night. Our emotions ranged from being elated and inspired, to being melancholy and exhausted. Looking back on it now, we would both do it again.”

— latitude/at 05/17/11

Cruise Notes:

Too expensive to not go cruising? In the May 20th 'Lectronic, we ran an item asking folks to tell us what it costs them to cruise. We immediately got a response from Rich Boren and his family of four aboard the Hudson Force 50 ketch Third Day in Mazatlan. The family includes his wife Lori, daughter Amy, 13, and son Jason, 12, and they have kept track of every penny they've spent since sailing south with the '08 Ha-Ha. So before we tell you how much they spent, we challenge you to guess. Ready? For the nine months they cruised in '09, they spent an average of $1,964 a month. That's not bad, considering it's only about $100/month more than the federal poverty level for a family of four in California. But it gets better. Way better.

When we bumped into the Borens in San Diego in June last year, they'd bought a Hudson ketch at a nice price to replace their Pearson 365. At the time, Rich told us that had he known what he knew after a year of cruising, he could have saved a ton of money, because he hadn't needed to buy or replace anywhere near as much stuff as he had been told. This is borne out by the fact that for the nine months they spent cruising in '10, the family of four on a 50-ft ketch spent an average of just $1,071 a month! Or not much more than half the poverty level for a family of four in the United States.

"Cruising cheaply is all about anchoring out," advises Boren. "At least that's the mantra that has kept us cruising in comfort for about what it would cost us to live under a bridge in California. We also did our own haul-out in San Blas, which saved a lot of money. We post our monthly cruising numbers to try to dispel the myth that you have to be wealthy or have won the lottery to go cruising, especially as a family with kids." For a detailed look at their cruising expenses since late '08, visit

"After the last two summers in the northern Sea of Cortez," continues Boren, "which was without a doubt our best cruising, we want a break from the summer heat. Therefore, we'll be spending this summer on our mooring at Port San Luis in California, with plans to return to cruising Mexico. The decision to come back was also based on the fact that my business partner in San Diego is having a hard time keeping up with watermaker orders — lots of response from Latitude, by the way! — and he was begging me to help do some 'real work' rather than what he calls the 'easy job 'of sales and marketing from my desk aboard Third Day in Mexico. So in some ways I created a monster — a successful business — while out cruising, a monster that is trying to drag me, kicking and screaming, back ashore.

"As for our new-to-us larger boat," Rich continues, "Lori and I laugh at how big she is compared to our Pearson 365. While she seems over the top, she sure has made living aboard with two kids much easier. But the smaller boat is what it took to get us out here cruising, and if I had to leave on a 30-footer rather than only dreaming of cruising on something bigger, sign me up, because I'd be gone!"

Speaking of cruising inexpensively, we also got an interesting email from a cruiser on a 37-footer in Mexico. His logic was that if Mexican families had to live on two minimum wage incomes of $175/month U.S. each, he himself ought to be able to live on $350 a month. To his surprise, he's found that he can, boat expenses included. We'll run his complete email in next month's Letters.

Not those Aussies again! We're told that Pete and Susan Wolcott's M&M 52 cat Kiapa is all but sold to an Aussie from Perth. The Wolcotts had reluctantly put their cat on the market for $1 million, and halfway hoped doing 26 knots on the Bay would scare the buyer from Perth. But it doesn't look like it.

The recently completed Second Annual El Salvador Rally was a cruiser event like no other, as it encompassed seven weeks of activities. Over that period, 47 vessels arrived from nine different countries. "This is truly an international event," say rally organizers Bill Yeargan and Jean Strain of the Honolulu-based Irwin 37 Mita Kuuluu. The April 30th closing ceremony at the Bahia del Sol Marina and Resort drew more than 60 cruisers and 40 guests, and everybody had a great time. Some sailors went away exceedingly happy, as more than $3,500 in cash and prizes were awarded by a simple drawing. The top prizes went to Carl Johnson and Christina Revilla of Bambolerio ($500), Tom and Carolynn Boehmler aboard Sunny Side Up ($300), and Larry and Vicky Byers aboard Rocinante ($250).

Not only were the ongoing rally events fun for the participants, but the event achieved its goal of introducing many new clients to the Bahia del Sol's facilities and the country of El Salvador. As of April 30, the average length of stay was 32 days. And 30 boats plan to spend part or all of the summer in Bahia, where moorings are $100/month, and long-term rates at the marina are $.40/foot. You can find more info on this second annual event at its official blog:

Water, water everywhere, and no pool to swim in? As mentioned previously, in our opinion all yacht clubs and marinas — especially those in the tropics — should be required by law to have a pool. For example, we believe that the addition of even an above ground pool at the Sky Bar at the Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz would attract at least another 10 boats a month. After a hot day of sailing, what could be more soothing than to ease into a pool, sip on a margarita, and enjoy the beautiful view of the lights coming on around Banderas Bay? The above ground pools don't even cost that much. We think the fact that Paradise Marina, just a few miles farther down Banderas Bay, has three pools and three hot tubs gives it a marketing advantage.

What got us thinking about this was an email from Tom and Lori Jeremiason of the San Francisco-based Catalina 470 Camelot. Having previously stayed at the Costa Baja Marina in La Paz, they intended to spend a couple of days there again before heading up to the Sea. But then they learned that the hotel, which owns the marina, had instituted a new policy — people in the marina who wanted to use the pool would have to pay $35 per person a day. Ouch! Having not been consulted on the new policy and said to have lost some cruiser tenants because of it, Gabriel, the well-liked harbormaster, is trying to get the policy rescinded. "The Costa Baja is still a class facility," say Tom and Lori, "with free Wi-Fi, potable water on the docks, a fuel dock, and a free shuttle service to the malecon and Soriano's. But if you're looking to lounge by the pool and have a couple of beers, forget it!" At least for now.

"I wanted to alert you to the completion of a somewhat unusual six-month cruise to the Sea of Cortez and back by 26-year-old Brian Coggan," writes Jim Coggan of the Belvedere-based Schumacher 40 Auspice. "If this sounds like a letter from a proud dad, it is. Brian was later joined in Loreto by Alana, his girlfriend, whom he met the day before he was supposed to take off on his cruise. Naturally, that meeting delayed his cruise a bit.

"Brian and I have done a lot of races in the Bay Area aboard my Auspice, as well as the '04 Pacific Cup," Jim continues. "His boat is Lost Boy, an old Wylie 28 Half Tonner. He purchased her three years ago, and being a guy who likes to do things his own way, he made his own improvements. He also built his main and #3."

"As for my wife Kim and I," Jim continues, "we spent the season sailing north of the equator to explore the Marshall Islands. Everywhere we went, we were treated with courtesy, kindness and generosity by the island people. Although they live very humble lives, they are among the happiest people I have ever encountered. There is laughter everywhere, and the kids are non-stop sources of entertainment. Right now, I'm atoll hopping by myself toward Fiji, where I hope to reconnect with Kim in July. Then we're thinking Vanuatu and maybe the '12 Pacific Art Festival in the Solomon Islands."

"My Kristen 46 Precious Metal was hit by lightning 26 miles off the coast of Nicaragua on our way from Costa Rica to El Salvador," reports Pamela Bendall of Port Hardy, British Columbia. "It was a very rare strike that is known as a 'bolt out of the blue' or 'dry lightning'. I've been told that it's more intense than regular lightning, and can travel 25 miles across the water under blue skies. The whole experience was freaky. My poor Precious Metal is in horrible shape after the strike, but the insurance company assures me that she'll be made shipshape again."

We know this will come as small consolation to Ms. Bendall, but scientists say lightning rarely — compared to land, at least — strikes on the ocean.

"We are presently at Ibiza Magna, right in front of old Ibiza Town on Ibiza, one of Spain's four Balearic Islands," reports Rob Wallace, skipper of Cita Litt's Newport Beach-based Sea Diamond, the beautifully restored 55-year old, 90-ft Rhodes-designed, Abeking & Rasmussen-built motorsailor. "We left Palma de Mallorca last week, and have been anchoring around here since. Everyone says that Ibiza is the 'party capital of the Med', and it does rumble. But this being Spain, things don't start until 1 a.m.! I can maybe hang for a little while, but it's pretty crazy for me. I know the photo I'm sending is too small to publish, but it's of Sea Diamond in the foreground, and the 190-ft Twizzle in the back. It shows us anchored off Formentera, which is 10 miles south of Ibiza, and is the smallest of the Balearic Islands. Formentera has great beaches, and we've found that when the cruising guide said "nudity is the norm," they weren't kidding.

"I'd like Dona de Mallorca, who I know lived in Palma de Mallorca for eight years, to know that I walked the grounds of the exclusive Club de Mar every day for the five weeks we've been here," continues Rob. "I'd also like her to know that I could live here full-time, no problem! But I do have bandages all over my face, the result of walking into trees and light posts because I was distracted by the beautiful women. Unbelievable! Palma's old town is fantastic, with the narrow streets, and bars and restaurants everywhere. Cita and her sidekick Sharon have been having a blast, of course, and can often be seen strolling around with Coco, their French poodle, in tow. I got inside the huge Palma Cathedral on Good Friday for the procession and scene. Wonderful! I also rented a car and drove to Soller on the other side of the island. What a mind-blowing, beautiful drive. They also had the Palma Vela Regatta here last month with a whole fleet of big Wallys. We on the West Coast think we're pretty cool with our fleet of 70-ft sleds, but they'd be small potatoes here. I can't believe the number of gigantic sail and motoryachts.

"However," Wallace continues, "prices are high." A Big Mac alone is $5, diesel is $7.50 U.S. a gallon, and slip fee here is $220 — a night! And the woman in the office says with high season about to begin, the berth rates will soon double!"

Many folks who cruised Mexico last winter will recall seeing Sea Diamond in various anchorages and marinas. If you want an example of how times change, next month we're going to have a report from a contemporary who cruised Spain back in the early '70s, when Franco was still in power — and was a member of the Club del Mar. Back then a lifetime membership in the club was just $500 U.S., and it included a free annual haul-out!

We flipped open the June issue of Cruising World and exclaimed, "Ted and Veronique!" For there in a spread across pages 54 and 55 was a photo of the Catana 50 Vérité, which belongs to Ted Halstead and Veronique Bardach, anchored off what we presume is Croatia. In what was admittedly a nearly all-catamaran issue of Cruising World, Ted had written about his and his lovely — and fiery — Majorcan wife's many adventures in going from non-sailors, to buying a $1.5 million cat, to cruising the Med for a summer, to crossing the Atlantic to St. Barth with their dog Ria. It's a good thing that all of Ted's observations were timeless, because all this happened back in '08! We know, because we met the couple in the Caribbean and wrote about the same adventures in the February '09 issue of Latitude. Anyway, we contacted Veronique, and got the following update:

"I've been back in D.C. earning some money, while Ted is on his way to Fiji from Honolulu. What a deal! We spent the cyclone season in Maui instead of going south to New Zealand. The passage from the Marquesas to Hawaii was a little rough, but well worth it. I leave on Wednesday for Nadi, Fiji. From there we plan to sail north to Vanuatu, the Solomons, and PNG pretty quickly, so we can be in Indonesia by late January. Our plan is to spend three years in the Gulf of Thailand, while visiting Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Cambodia. Hopefully by then the Gulf of Oman will be cleared up, and we will be able to sail back to Europe."

Unfortunately, we missed Loreto Fest again this year because of other commitments, and unfortunately we again didn't get a definitive article on the event. But we can tell you that close to 200 boats attended, and according to everyone we talked to, this fund-raiser for local educational charities was a complete blast! It's true, the three-day event was partly blown away by a poorly timed Norther, but everyone soldiered on.

"It was so great to see hundreds of cruisers getting along in such a spirit of cooperation," said Wayne Hendryx of the Brisbane-based Hughes 45 Capricorn Cat. "Whenever anything needed doing, everyone would jump up to help. And the Fonatur staff was terrific, in particular the guy driving the yellow taxi panga, who was so careful not to bang anyone's boat. Carol and I found the seminars, official and unofficial, to be very informative and fun. Lots of people enjoyed all the various games, and the dance floor was always full. What a great time!"

Wayne and Carol also participated in the Third Annual Revived Sea of Cortez Sailing Week, which this year started two days after Loreto Fest and took the fleet back down to La Paz. "I've been coming down to the Sea of Cortez since '86," said Hendryx, "and have to tell you that I have never tasted such delicious food as was served on the potlucks aboard Arjan Bok's San Francisco-based Schionning 43 cat RotKat and the other boats. And the in-the-water volleyball game at Espiritu Santo couldn't be beat either."

Hendryx is now heading to Hawaii, and will cruise there for a month, then head back to California to get ready for this fall's Ha-Ha.

"We've been cruising Costa Rica for the past six weeks," report Mike and Leilani Costello of the Oxnard-based Saga 43 Lanikai. "While in the Gulfo Dulce of southern Costa Rica, we got into a long fight with a rooster fish. He weighed in at 35 pounds — yikes! — and was my first rooster fish ever. You've always got to put your lines out, because you never know what you're gonna catch."

Nice catch, as the average rooster fish is only 20 pounds. Rooster fish are unusual for the seven long spines of their dorsal fin. Experts say that like all jacks, except the amber jack and California yellowtail, the rooster fish is a better game fish than eating fish.

Lots of boats, particularly cats, are built with saildrives these days because it costs less for manufacturers to install them, and they take up less space than do traditional transmissions. But they seem to be less robust, and many owners worry that they have to haul their boats every time there's a leak in a seal, as seawater mixes with the oil. But we've been told that one cat owner who had such a leak, just changed the transmission oil every three months. After six years, he completely disassembled the transmission, and found no sign of rust. Hmmmm. What do you think?

Lessons from Nature. Craig Shaw of the Portland-based Columbia 43 Adios and his lady friend Jennifer, found a dead four-foot moray eel off the La Cruz Marina. Cause of death? Choked as a result of trying to eat too large a fish, which ended up getting stuck in the eel's throat. "Don't be greedy, seemed to be the lesson," said Craig.

If you're cruising somewhere sweet we'd love to hear from you.

Missing the pictures? See the June 2011 eBook!


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