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June 2015

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With reports this month from Shamwari on an eight-week cruise to Southern California; from Celebrate on completing a 14-month circumnavigation as part of the World ARC; photos from Jan Grygier (pages 108-109) on being a walk-on crewmember at Antigua Sailing Week; from Beach House on a visit to Havana; from Harmony on the first three years of cruising on the East Coast and in the Caribbean; and Cruise Notes.

Shamwari — Tayana 37
Charles Lane
A California Cruise
(Castro Valley)

I recently returned to San Francisco after 37 days of cruising Southern California and visiting the Channel Islands. My singlehanded passage from Marina del Rey to the Golden Gate in just under five days is probably my personal best — and not bad for a five-knot double-ender.

For this trip I had a copy of Brian Fagan's excellent book, The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California: Golden Gate to Ensenada, Mexico, Including the Offshore Islands. It was a huge help. For example, following his advice I waited out a strong afternoon blow hunkered down in tiny San Simeon Bay, then jumped out for the long sprint past Big Sur and Carmel.

However, halfway up this desolate stretch of coast, meaning at the worst time possible, the engine quit. It just stopped. I was five miles offshore at the time, and thanks to no wind but a heavy swell, Shamwari was rolling vigorously. Working the problem, I ruled out major breakage, bled the fuel lines, and restarted it. I got her going several more times, but each time she'd stop again without warning.

By this time I had developed a very fast routine to open the secondary filter bleed, use the finger lever to pump fuel, and, when it flowed out the top, tighten everything. At that point she would fire right up again.

But the engine kept dying, so I replaced all weepy fuel lines and hot swap tubing with a new single hose, tightly clamped, that connected the diesel line directly to the fuel pump. It was as simple as you can get, but the engine still stopped a few more times. But she always restarted right after purging.

When I got back home, Frank Magnotta, a sailing friend, told me my engine problems were caused by having one large unbaffled fuel tank forward while rolling heavily. He said that the fuel becomes like a giant milkshake in a blender in such conditions, and tiny air bubbles form that enter the fuel line and kill the engine.

He might know what he's talking about, because once the rolling ceased, the engine purred all the way home. Any thoughts from Latitude readers?

During the trip I also replaced the engine's transmission.

— charles 04/15/2015

Celebrate — Taswell 58
Charlie and Cathie Simon
Around the World In 14 Months
(Spokane/Nuevo Vallarta)

[Editor's note: According to Andy Barrow, who crewed for the Simons during the first leg of the World ARC, if you saw Charlie and Cathie walking down the street, you wouldn't assume that they were the kind of people to circumnavigate. But indeed they did, so we interviewed them in the Caribbean after they finished.]

38: You just sailed around the world in 14 months as part of the World ARC Rally. How was it?

Cathie: It was easy! Except for a little bit in the Indian Ocean when it got a little rough. The hard part was adding all the new equipment and safety gear, and getting the boat ready to go.

Charlie: Once you start sailing, you just put one foot in front of the other, and after 14 months you've sailed around the world.

38: What did the rally cost, somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000?

Charlie: I don't remember exactly, but it was a lot of money. [Laughter.]

38: Was it money well spent?

Cathie: Yes, we both think so.

Charlie: It sounds really expensive, but you have to realize that they take care of all the dock fees, the agent fees, and all kinds of things like that.

Cathie: We started our trip on the West Coast, and had to sail down Central America, through the Panama Canal, and up to Florida before we got to the start in St. Lucia. Having to check in and clear out of all these countries really got tiring. It was wonderful having the rally people take care of all that while we went around the world. The ARC people have been doing this for years, so they knew all the officials and could handle any problems.

Charlie: When we pulled into Brazil, for example, it would have been hard for us to clear in because neither of us speaks Portuguese. But we just gave our passports and documents to the rally lady and we were done.

Cathie: The World ARC is actually a 15-month party. Every time we arrived somewhere, we were greeted with Champagne at the dock, followed by a party, and later a tour.

38: You didn't get the feeling that it was a predigested experience?

Cathie: Not at all. And we could be independent, too. For example, when we got to the Indian Ocean, Charlie decided it was best for us to leave two days early, so we did. As a result, we made it to Richards Bay, South Africa, before everyone else, and before the worst of the weather.

Charlie: Celebrate is also a 33-ton boat, so she and we could handle rougher weather more easily than most of the other boats anyway.

38: Can we presume the rally helped you make a lot of lifelong friends?

Cathie: Yes, although we lost a lot of great friends in Fiji because that's where some boats headed off to New Zealand or New Caledonia, perhaps to rejoin the next rally next year. Twenty of the 40 boats left at Fiji, and it was very hard to say goodbye to so many people we'd become such good friends with. On the other hand, we soon learned that a group of 20 boats is much tighter than a group of 40 boats could have ever been. It became a more cohesive group.

Charlie: A 20-boat rally was better than a 40-boat rally.

38: What are your thoughts about the speed at which you went around?

Cathie: It was fast, no doubt about it. We actually did it in 14 months instead of 15, because after Carnival in Rio we decided that we'd have more fun in the Caribbean than Brazil. So we took off and finished a month early. But yes, it's a fast pace and you can get tired. By the time we got to Cape Town, I was a little tired. But after six weeks in Cape Town — which we loved! — I was rested and ready to go again.

Charlie: At some point everyone did get tired.

38: If you had to do it over, would you do it the same way?

Charlie: You have to understand that we're of the age where one of us could become debilitated at any time. So if we had started a five-year circumnavigation, there was a greater possibility that we wouldn't have been able to make it around.

Cathie: Had we been on our own, we'd have gone slower. But we can go around again or fly back to the places that we really liked. Those places aren't lost to us. For us, the important thing was that we were able to do a circumnavigation.

Charlie: We had signed up to do the Ha-Ha on our way to the World ARC start in St. Lucia, but I ruptured a disk while at Catalina and had to be flown to L.A. for surgery. So we missed the Ha-Ha. But from what I've read and heard from other people, the Ha-Ha is presented in a different tone than the World ARC, which is, after all, run by a bunch of Brits.

38: Are you saying you think the Ha-Ha is more fun-loving, light-hearted and casual?

Cathie: Let me put it this way, the ARC hosts great parties, but they are all very official and British.

Charlie: You don't have to wear formal wear, but the parties are more formal than those in the Ha-Ha. That said, we did wear formal clothes to the grand finale party in St. Lucia, which was great, and which is where everybody got thrown into the pool.

38: You bought a Taswell 58 just for the event. How did you like her?

Charlie: Our boat was outstanding!

Cathie: I was the one who picked her out. But it was a hard choice, as after sailing on Latitude's 63-ft cat Profligate on Banderas Bay, I could see that it was doable on a cat. And I loved the gorgeous Catana 52 cat Bright Wing that Latitude arranged for us to tour. But in the end, I've been sailing monohulls for 40 years, and I wanted to go with something I was familiar with.

38: Cruisers sometimes have a tendency to get more gear than they need. How about you?

Cathie: We added what the ARC required and then some.

Charlie: I added three jumbo solar panels on a rack on the back, which turned out to be really great. When we hauled in Fiji, the solar panels were enough to power the freezer.

38: What do you like the most about the boat?

Cathie: That she's so stable. Actually, we almost bought a Taswell 60.

Charlie: We went so far as to make an offer on a Taswell 72, too, but fortunately we didn't get her. She would have been too big. Anything over 60 feet would have been too big.

Cathie: Our 58 was plenty big. Celebrate's main saloon has love seats with small tables on both sides of the boat. I threw a Champagne party for Charlie's 60th birthday, and we had 90 people on the inside of the boat. And a bunch more outside. Celebrate has plenty of space.

Dona de Mallorca: Plenty of space means plenty to clean, doesn't it? That's why I never let the Wanderer into the port hulls of Profligate and 'ti Profligate. I barricade them so he can't mess them up or get them dirty.

Cathie: One of the great things about Cape Town — and there were many — is that I was able to get a girl to come in once a week to clean for $50 a day. In South Africa, that's a lot of money.

Charlie: The guy who worked on our gel coat charged just $75 a day!

Cathie: We feel we were lucky with our boat because we haven’t sailed that many big boats, and she turned out to be a great ocean-going boat. She's reasonably fast upwind and on a reach, and super stable.

38: Big boats require big crews. How many did you have?

Charlie: Most boats had a total of four, and some of the big cats had six or eight. But Cathie and I like to sail our own boat.

Cathie: We'd do six hours on, six hours off.

38: Are you saying that you doublehanded your heavy 58-footer?

Charlie: We had a third person aboard for three of the 15 legs. Andy Barrow of Nuevo Vallarta did the first leg, from St. Lucia to Panama, with us. It was a good thing he did, because Cathie came down with a wicked flu right after the start.

38: But six on and six off for days on end on a 58-ft boat!?

Charlie: We also had one crew for the longest leg, to the Marquesas. But for Cathie and me, the important thing is how much time we get off watch. We could always force ourselves to do two extra hours on watch, but we each needed to have a good sleep. So Cathie and I are used to six and six. Andy was great crew, but I have to say, he wasn't used to being on watch for six hours at a time.

Cathie: I have a lot of tricks to stay awake. I go up and down the companionway steps, I check on this or that, I change where I'm sitting, things like that.

Charlie: And we love our Watch Commander, which is a glorified timer. We'd set it for 15 minutes, and after 15 minutes it would go beep, beep, beep. If you didn't turn it off right away, an extremely loud alarm would sound, alerting the person off watch that whoever was on watch had fallen asleep — or overboard. It's a great device.

Cathie: When you think about it, if you each do a six-hour watch at night, then it's daytime.

Charlie: One thing we noticed about boats that had racers on their crew is that they wanted to go top speed all the time. Their attitude was that if you weren't breaking stuff, you weren't sailing fast enough. Baloney!

Cathie: We wanted to be tender with our boat and gear. We were happy to go a knot slower than we could have gone, but not break stuff.

The circumnavigation proved to us that we're cruisers. It seemed to us that the racers and the sailors who weren't as experienced didn't have as much fun as we did. A couple of the boats with less experienced crew got discouraged and dropped out.

Charlie: When you've cruised — and Cathie and I have a combined 100,000 ocean miles now — you don't get upset when things break or fail. [Laughter.] You're used to it.

38: Give us a better idea of your sailing experience.

Cathie: We've sailed San Francisco Bay for 36 years. Then we cruised to Alaska twice on our Beneteau 461 Cher, and later sailed her around to the East Coast.

Charlie: We're coming up on 30,000 miles on Celebrate since I replaced all the instruments.

Cathie: We put so much new stuff on the boat that it's lucky that Charlie is an engineer and could do most of it himself.

Charlie: Which meant I knew how everything worked, which really helped.

38: What kind of breakdowns?

Charlie: All the usual little things. Cathie and I were doing the 2,500-mile passage from Salvador, Brazil to Grenada ourselves, the longest one just the two of us did, and about halfway along the generator overheated and quit. A hose had broken and dumped all the coolant into the bilge. We replaced it and were golden again. That's not a breakdown, but you have to expect stuff like that.

We also had to replace the Raymarine autopilot twice. I later learned the largest Raymarine autopilot has a displacement limit of 77,000 pounds, and Celebrate is just under that. But that displacement, combined with the fact that the rudder bearings needed replacing, toasted the autopilots.

38: What was the worst weather you had?

Cathie: The Indian Ocean was worse than anywhere else, but it wasn't too bad.

Charlie: The GRIB file forecast 15-knot headwinds, but they turned out to be 35 knots. Thirty-five knots isn't that bad, but you don't like it when it's 20 more knots than forecast.

Actually, our worst weather was off Cape Hatteras on the way to the start. [Laughter.] In fact, it was at Hatteras that I learned something that few people know — that Raymarine anemometers top out at 99 knots. We were anchored at Cape Lookout near Hatteras in February. It started to blow 40 knots and the anchor dragged, so we pulled it up and motored around in the pitch black. Suddenly the wind was really howling and we were doing 8.5 knots under bare poles.

Cathie: I couldn't believe it, but I was seeing 99 knots on the anemometer. Then I heard a tornado warning.

Charlie: I couldn't believe what I was seeing on the anemometer either. But it was good it happened, because you can't have an anchor that drags in just 40 knots of wind. So we bought a 200-lb Bruce. We had the biggest anchor in the fleet, so we slept really well. We had to replace the chain with bigger stuff, and of course the gypsy, too. While replacing it, we found out that the last 150 feet of old chain had rusted together in a single heap.

Cathie: You would have loved doing the World ARC with Profligate.

Charlie: Although in a cross sea the people with cats complained.

38: Beam seas aren't the most comfortable on cats.

Charlie: Our boat was fast, but downwind, such as from St. Lucia to Panama, the cats cleaned out clocks.

But seeing squalls to 40 knots was not unusual, but we didn't see many squalls over 50 knots. You can tell a lot about a squall with your radar. I got to know the boat well and from time to time got lazy, so I'd leave the full main up in 30 knots. It really helped that we had power furling on the headsail and in-boom furling on the main.

Cathie: The in-boom furling made it easy for either of us to reef alone. It was key that I could operate it myself and not have to wake Charlie.

We also had a surround cockpit that we could completely enclose. I insisted on it, and it was wonderful. We never got wet when it was rough, and when it was cold out, we were warm in the enclosed cockpit.

Charlie: The enclosed cockpit made a lot of difference going around South Africa.

38: So what's next?

Cathie: We really like our boat, so we're trying to figure out whether we do upgrades to a 10-year-old boat, or do we get something else?

We've got our next year planned, as we're doing the ARC USA to Bermuda, then we're going to sail the Chesapeake Bay. At the end of the season we'll visit the Annapolis Boat Show to see if there are any other boats we might like.

Charlie: We really like Celebrate, but there's no room for an office, and we'd really like that.

Cathie: But we're cruisers, so we don't really know what we're going to do.

— latitude/rs 04/15/2015

Beach House — Switch 55
Scott Stolnitz and Nikki Woodrow
(Marina del Rey)

[Editor's note: This is Part Two of Scott and Nikki's adventures in Cuba.]

During our second day at Hemingway Marina outside Havana, we met Dani and Tate, a nice young couple from Louisiana on the Westsail 32 Sundowner. They've just started what they plan to be a five-year circumnavigation. Young and tough, they will have had quite the adventure by the time they return home.

Speaking of Americans, there were between 15 and 25 US-registered vessels at Hemingway Marina. Technically, Americans aren't supposed to visit Cuba with their boats because it would require that they 'trade with the enemy', which is illegal. But the bottom line is if you're an American and want to bring your boat to Cuba, the Cubans will welcome you with open arms, and the US government won't do anything about it.

Not wanting to wait for a mechanic who would never come, we found Ricardo, a young tour guide who spoke perfect English, to escort us around in his associate's 1952 Chevy Bel Air. One of the first buildings he drove us past was the Russian Embassy, which he correctly identified as “the ugliest building in all of Havana."

Embassy Row, made up of old colonial homes, didn't have a U.S. Embassy because we don't have one. We do, however, have an 'Interests Section', which is located on the malecon away from all the other embassies. The Interests Section has been located in Havana since just after the revolution in 1958.

As we continued down the malecon we would see the Military Morro fortress across the way, with the Fortress de San Carlos de la Cabaña just inland. The La Cabaña Fort was Che Guevara’s domain after the Revolution, and it's where at least several thousand Cubans, many of them guilty of nothing, were executed. Ricardo forgot to mention this.

Opinions of Che remain divided. For a favorable view, one should read Che Guevara, A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson. For a less favorable view, check out Exposing the Real Che Guevara, and the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him by Humberto Fontova.

A huge rendering of Che's famous image is on the Ministry of the Interior building — which some call the Secret Police Building.

The Morro Fort on the point was used to protect Havana Harbor from raiders, pirates and fleets of other nations until the Spanish-American War. By that time it was, like most of the other forts, rendered obsolete by technology.

Havana Harbor is where the USS Maine blew up, precipitating the Spanish-American War. How the Maine met its demise is as controversial as Che. Some say it was the Spanish, some say it was an accident, and some even suggest — which I’m sure must be poppycock — that the U.S. blew it up as a casus belli.

Tourism is big in Cuba and particularly in Havana. We saw many buses lined up that had brought hordes of tourists on day trips from the many hotels on the Varadero Peninsula.

Obispo Street is the happening tourist mecca in Old Havana, so we got out to do a walking tour. In the distance we could see the capitol building, the design of which was inspired by the US Capitol building. Obispo Street has been extensively rebuilt to be an important tourist destination. But just off to either side are the familiar slums.

One of the first attractions we saw was the United Buddy Bears exhibit at the Plaza de San Francisco. This is a touring exhibit, co-sponsored by the United Nations and private donors, to promote tolerance amongst the peoples of the world. The Cuba Bear was an attraction, but no bear had a bigger line for families to pose in front of than — what a surprise — the USA Statue of Liberty Bear.

We visited the beautiful old Cathedral de San Cristobal de la Habana, which is known for its uneven and asymmetrical towers, and Christopher Columbus being interred there from 1795 until 1898. Columbus 'discovered' Cuba in 1492, and described it as "the most beautiful earth that human eyes had ever seen".

Among our other Havana stops were the Hotel Ambos Mundos (Two Worlds), which is famous because it was here that Ernest Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms and Green Fields of Africa. Hemingway's fifth-floor room is now a museum. It also has a model of his beloved fishing boat Pilar.

We then returned to our 'ride', which was now being driven by Remy. He told us that he had inherited the car from his dad, and that the original engine had been replaced with a Nissan diesel. I asked him how many miles it had on it. “The odometer broke at 287,000 miles," he said. "That was about 25 years ago."

We then went to a nice lunch at a local palador, which is a private home that functions as both a restaurant and a residence for the owners. Capitalism is slowly but surely creeping into Cuban life. It's an exciting prospect for many Cubans, as it allows them to supplement their meager incomes.

Cubans receive a ration card each month, which they told us generally works out to about half of what they need for the basics of life. As a result, almost all Cubans must have some other means of supplementing their incomes.

Health care is free, but as Orwell said, “not all animals are created equal”. The elite and tourists get quick and very good treatment. Ordinary Cubans, not so much.

Nonetheless, our young guide was very optimistic. He told us that all of Cuba is excited about the prospect of normalized relations with the US, and the ending of the embargo. Although Cubans can't say it out loud, my distinct impression is that once Fidel and Raul have passed on, the next generation of leaders will make major positive changes for the general population.

After all this sightseeing, it was time for a visit to the very up-market Hotel Nacional for a mojito. The Nacional was built by mafioso boss Meyer Lansky as his Cuban retreat. Apparently, the mob bosses, including Al Capone, would meet here to discuss 'business'. Cuba became the center of casino gambling and rum running during Prohibition. The Nacional is beautiful and commands one of the best views of the malecon and Havana Harbor. Another refreshing feature was that we had one of the two best mojitos ever. Mojito means, 'the little moistener', and was apparently Hemingway’s drink of choice.

Would I recommend taking one's boat to Cuba? Absolutely. Would I want to live there. Absolutely not. And I'm not alone. In December alone, the U.S. Coast Guard interdicted 481 Cubans hoping to find freedom in the United States.

— scott 03/15/2015

Harmony — F/P 43 Belize Cat
Brit and Sandy Horn
Three Years of Cruising

“Ever since I was a teenager growing up in San Diego’s North County, it was my dream to sail my own boat wherever I wanted,” Brit told Latitude during an April interview in the French West Indies. Apparently the ocean flows through the family veins, for his father was a “big time wave guy as early as the 1940s, and later surfed with legends such as Greg Noll, Peter Cole and Buzzy Trent.”

Brit would eventually spend more time in the ocean then his father. In addition to being a lifelong surfer, he was a lifeguard in Southern California for 14 years at famed spots such as Malibu and Leo Carrillo State Beach. And prior to retiring six years ago, for 17 years he ran the California state lifeguard program on the rugged Sonoma Coast.

Brit’s into the water more than ever. He and his wife Sandy currently carry "six or seven surfboards between 5'10" and 7'7", two SUPs, three kite boards and four kites, plus dive tanks and scuba gear" on their boat. The complete waterman program.

The tropics are ideal, of course, for enjoying all these watersports, yet Brit is one of the few cruisers who salivates at the idea of being able to leave the tropics in the winter to return to the very chilly waters of Northern California.

“I'd love to go home in the winter to surf the big waves of the Sonoma Coast. There are some great spots north of Bodega Bay during that time of year, and I’ve got some great waterman friends that I really like to surf with.”

Because Brit’s busy time of year during his lifeguarding career was the summer, and he could travel in the winter, his wife Sandy always worked as a substitute rather than full-time teacher.

“Our first cruising boat was a Cheoy Lee 30 Bermuda ketch,” recalls Sandy, “that we’d sail to the Channel Islands each year. In 1991, we sailed her down Baja and up to La Paz. We didn’t have radar, refrigeration, a watermaker — not even a depthsounder.”

“I set aside 3 1/2 weeks for the Bash from Cabo to San Diego,” recalls Brit, “but it turned out to be not long enough. The boat had an old Atomic 4 gas engine that I’d rebuilt with the help of Sandy’s dad, but old fuel tanks and bad fuel were a bad combo and caused a lot of trouble. We finally blew the crankshaft motoring between Cabo and Mag Bay. Thanks to a combination of sailing and motoring with a 7.5-hp outboard we stuck on the back, we eventually made it to Turtle Bay.”

“By then we were out of time,” says Sandy, picking up the story. “So we left the boat in Turtle Bay for what would be three weeks, and made our way to the Transpeninsular Highway to catch the bus to Ensenada. It was Easter and the buses were packed. They kept telling us there were no seats, but for some reason other people kept getting on the buses. We finally discovered that while there were no seats, we could sit in the aisle. It was a 13-hour ride sitting on our duffel bags, but it was actually a lot of fun because we got to talk to all kinds of college kids on vacation.”

Brit and his brother would eventually return with a long-shaft outboard and motorsail back to California. It was a long and slow trip, the epitome of a Baja Bash.

“We've actually 'Bashed' both up and down Baja," laughs Sandy, “as we had to sail to windward to get to Cabo in October.”

“It’s true,” says Brit. “Besides, with just working sails we needed 15 knots to sail downwind at any kind of speed.”

“Which seems to be about how much wind we need to sail our F/P 43 Belize catamaran we bought three years ago,” Sandy says, laughing again. “What’s different is that we’re now pushing two hulls instead of one.”

No matter if you have a catamaran or a monohull, if you want to go downwind in light air, you need a spinnaker or gennaker, and you need folding props.

In order to buy their cruising boat, the Horns sold their Russian River rental, but not their home in Cazadero, which they describe as "in the Sonoma rain and redwood country."

“We mostly looked at boats in the Caribbean and East Coast because that’s where the catamarans are — although we did look at an old CSK catamaran in Santa Cruz,” says Brit.

“If you buy that,” Sandy remembers telling him, “you’re going to be going alone." There are a lot of things that I did at 30 that I won’t do in my 50s. Being uncomfortable all the time on a boat is one of them.”

Eventually Brit narrowed the field down to Belize 43 cats, and a broker found one in Charleston, South Carolina.

“As soon as I walked aboard, I went, ‘Yeah, I can do this’,” says Sandy. “The cat was within our budget, plenty big, and clean enough. But she still needed work."

“She was a 2002 that had been in a charter program, and was in fair shape," explains Brit. "We didn’t get a chance to sea trial her until the day before we had to close the deal, and the sea trial consisted of a few miles on a river. But the Belize 43 is a known commodity, so we went ahead with the purchase.

"We paid a couple of hundred thousand for Harmony," says Brit, "which we think was a fair price. But we immediately sank another 30k into her."

"Harmony came with one original 30-hp Yanmar 3GM diesel and one 2009 Yanmar 3YM diesel, both with saildrives. They start and run just fine — unless you have to push into anything, at which time they are ridiculously underpowered.

“The joke,” Sandy says, “is that you’re not supposed to push into it.”

For most cats, that's not really a joke.

“If I had the money to repower, I would,” says Brit. He would also like feathering props and new sails. The latter are in next year's budget.

Since buying Harmony three years ago, the couple have made two round trips between the East Coast and the Caribbean, plus a third trip to the Caribbean.

“The first year we took the ICW south from Charleston, and then crossed over to the Bahamas,” says Brit.

“I hated the ICW because the VHF antenna atop our 62.5-ft mast kept scraping the bottom of the bridges,” says Sandy. “It was so stressful.” Indeed, the following year the anemometer wand was knocked off by an ICW bridge.

“We spent three months in the Bahamas in our first season, and it was great,” says Brit. “There were the typical cold fronts once a week, which meant the wind would change directions, and we'd usually have to change anchorages. We dragged anchor once, which really stressed out an already stressed-out Sandy. Most of the time she was ready to fly home."

Sandy eventually did fly home for a month, leaving Brit on the boat alone — which he found stressful. When the Horns told us that Sandy had flown home for a month, it almost sounded as though they thought it was unusual. A spouse flying home for a month is not uncommon at all.

While Brit was initially stressed by being alone with the cat, it actually turned out to be a major turning point in the Horns' cruising lives, as he discovered he didn't have a problem handling the boat alone. Every sailor/cruiser will tell you there's a special moment of freedom when he/she learns he/she doesn't have to have help to run their boat.

When the Horns were ready to leave Charleston for their second trip down the ICW to Lauderdale to start their second cruising season, it was so cold there was snow on the decks. “The whole city was shut down by the snow and ice,” says Sandy. “But we finally made it out.”

“Our cat has an air conditioner that can be reversed to create heat," says Brit, "but the generator to drive it was dead. So we had to buy a Honda portable genset to run it. We made it all the way down to Lauderdale to do work on the boat, then had a great six weeks in the Bahamas.

"We then continued south to Georgetown in the Bahamas, which is nicknamed ‘Chickentown’ because that’s where a lot of cruisers decide not to continue on down to the Caribbean. It’s a big scene in Georgetown, and we stayed two weeks, which is really a very long time for us to spend in any one place.”

The couple was lucky to find a weather window that allowed them to sail outside the Turks & Caicos to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, as Sandy had a deadline to meet her daughter, who was interning at Woods Hole Institute in Massachusetts. This was the second time in two years that Brit was left on the boat alone, but now he was ready for it.

“I have to admit that the first year of cruising was very stressful on our marriage and our relationship," Brit says. “But when I learned that I could deal with the boat alone, it suddenly made things much easier. Sandy could leave if she was stressed or wanted to, and it wasn't a big deal. So I continued on alone to the Virgin Islands, often in company with Matt and Jen and their kids on Perry, a Privilege 48 catamaran. We’d met them working on our boats in Lauderdale and had come to just love their boys. They just transited the Canal.

“After a month of being alone, I picked Sandy up in Puerto Rico, at which point we started heading back to the States via the Dominican Republic, the Caicos, and the Old Bahama Channel . . . on the back of hurricane Albert."

“It was really scary, with waterspouts, thunder, lightning and 35-knot winds. It sure would have been nice to have radar," says Sandy.”

In any event, the couple made their way up the East Coast to Toms River, where Sandy has family, and spent a week in New York.

“We anchored at Liberty Harbor, which is the anchorage — without a dinghy dock — behind the Statue of Liberty,” says Sandy. “Then we’d cross the Hudson River in our dinghy with our bikes, and pay $10 a day to tie up at a park. Then we rode all over Manhattan. We had a ball!”

Then they spent a month in Cape Cod, at which point both returned home to the West Coast for about a month.

By the time the couple got back together again, Brit had installed two new refrigeration systems. But it was also October in Cuttyhunk, and "it was butt cold with snow flurries, and all the mooring balls had been removed for the season." It was time to make the 640-mile trip across the Gulf Stream to Bermuda.

"The first two nights were really cold," remembers Brit, "and the wind came from all directions. In addition, unlike down by Florida, the Gulf Stream was all over the place, with back eddies everywhere."

"After 5 1/2 days we made it to Bermuda," says Sandy, "which was nice and warm, and which I really loved. The people were so friendly, which is how we met Steve Hollis, the Doyle Sails guy and owner of the Venus gaff-ketch Segue. We not only met his son Austin and friend Will Tucker, but went surfing with them and spent Thanksgiving with them."

"When we finally sailed south to the Caribbean, we kept our eye out for them and Segue in St. Barth, as they had sailed south, too. We arrived late and didn't really know where to anchor, so we just dropped the hook — right next to Sequel! And Will's dad Dal took us surfing at Lorient.

The Horns are the first to admit that there is more than one reason they like their cat.

"One reason we got a cat is because we needed room for all our water toys, and the cat has that," says Sandy. "But it's also because from time to time we both need personal space. And we're not alone. We met one cruising couple on a monohull who have a dinghy named TAZ — for Temporary Autonomous Zone."

"I love Sandy dearly and would go around the world naked for her," says Brit, "but it can be hard to be with anyone 24/7. At least the cat gives us the space you can't get with a monohull."

Although the couple believe they'd need three more seasons to really see the East Coast — they missed Maine, Annapolis and Delaware — their plan was to head Down Island for two months, then put their cat in Guatemala's Rio Dulce by July 1. They'll leave the boat there and go home for three months.

"I can only afford to go home once a year to see my mom and do other stuff," says Brit. "Five weeks is too short a period and seven months is way too long. Three months is about right for me — although I really wish I could go home twice a year so I could also hit the winter surf with my friends."

"We women are a little different from men," says Sandy. "We really miss our family and friends. The members of the transient cruising community are great, but it's your longtime core friends that give you sustenance. So I like to stay home longer. And I want to pick berries and do things like that."

"Plus," Sandy continues, "I worry more on the boat and am more sensitive about things. "One time during our first season we dragged anchor. That really stressed me out and was a big factor in my going home. I also get really stressed when parking the boat or dropping the hook in crowded anchorages. Once we dropped the hook behind a German couple in Virgin Gorda, and they just glared at us. I'm really sensitive to things like that."

Brit solved the dragging problem by upgrading to a hefty 85-lb anchor at the end of 200 ft of chain. As for Sandy's sensitivity problem with people glaring at her because Harmony anchored behind them in the Caribbean trades — which is exactly what you are supposed to do — like every sailor she has to develop confidence in knowing what she/they are doing is the right thing. When you have confidence you're right, you can ignore numbskulls with impunity and peace of mind. How do you gain that confidence? By cruising. And yes, by making mistakes from time to time.

There is one decision the Horns made that they are very happy with — not selling their home.

"We talk to a lot of cruisers who come home and couch surf with family and friends for a couple of months," says Sandy. "They tell us it gets old quickly, so we're really happy we kept our home."

— latitude/rs 04/15/2015

Cruise Notes:

Oops! Due to technical difficulties — a brain fade on the part of the Changes editor — Part II of Geoff and Linda Goodall's report on their circumnavigation of South America with their Vancouver-based Rival 36 Curare will not appear until next month. Our apologies. Speaking of the Goodalls, here's their most recent report:

"Linda and I were lucky enough to get on Flying Buzzard, the committee boat for the Antigua Classic Regatta. We're not great photographers, but we couldn't help but get some great shots of the action. The Flying Buzzard folks were fantastic hosts, and you could never hope to meet a greater cast of cruising characters. It turns out that I knew the captain, Mike. Thirty years ago we'd spent time together on Gabriola, a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest."

Not many people sail directly from California to the Marquesas, but Mike and Deanna Ruel did with their Delaware-based Manta 42, R Sea Cat.

"Yay! We've just anchored and have gotten a full night's sleep for the first time in three weeks," they wrote. They were pleased to soon find themselves in a very international group of cruisers, with boats from Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and South Africa.

One of the problems with sailing to the South Pacific is how to get back to the West Coast. Dietmar Petutschnig of the Las Vegas-based Lagoon 440 Carinthia decided to bite the bullet by sailed back to California by way of Hawaii. He and crew Dan Bornholdt sailed the 3,146-miles from Fiji to Hawaii in 46 days. It wasn't a nonstop trip, and we think 46 days includes the number of days on the hook.

"The last 10 days to the Waikiki YC in Honolulu were upwind in 20 to 35 knots of wind," Petutschnig reports. Not exactly a Lagoon 440's ideal sailing conditions. Dietmar has come a long way with his sailing. He started cruising with the 2008 Baja Ha-Ha, at which time he admittedly knew next to nothing. But now, well, he's got a lot of open-ocean experience under his belt.

"I took a couple of water-oriented photos for Latitude while cruising here in Thailand," reports Tom Van Dyke of the Santa Cruz-based Searunner 31 trimaran En Pointe. "The first was of the Scilly Isles-based ketch Innisfree, which somehow managed to end up on Phuket's Kuta Beach on the calmest of days. I have no idea how she got there or if she got off in one piece.

"I also took photos of the Songkran Festival celebrations in Thailand. At the start of the Dai peoples' new year, which happens to correspond with the onset of the warmest months in already sizzling Thailand, believers have traditionally sprinkled water over the heads of friends and loved ones as signs of love and respect, and to cleanse them for the start of the new year. As one might imagine, irreverent western tourists embraced a tortured version of the ritual with reckless enthusiasm. No gentle sprinkling of water for Aussies and Yanks, who started splashing, spraying and dousing everyone in sight — including the police. As a result, tourists have hijacked the serious Dai ritual into something akin to a nationwide water fight that is now known as the Water Festival. An important aspect of the Songkran Festival is that adherents must throw away everything they have, as keeping it into the new year would be bad luck. Surprisingly, westerners have yet to embrace this aspect of the cleansing ritual."

"Lately it's been calm — like a mountain lake — here on La Paz Bay at night," reports Bob Willmann of the Colorado-based Casamance 47 catamaran Viva! "While sitting in my cockpit, I've been able to hear dolphins gasp for air as they circle around my cat. At this time of year there are a lot of baby dolphins swimming around with adult supervision. The babies must just be learning to breathe, because they make wimpy, almost desperate gasps, as though they've been holding their breath too long. Based on the sound of the gasping, I can tell if it's a mother, a calf or two mature dolphins around, even in the dark. Dolphins almost always travel in at least pairs. Lots of dolphins is one of the many good things about the cruising life in La Paz. I feel privileged to be living this lifestyle."

Speaking of dolphins and porpoises, the Mexican government has agreed to pay the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society $69 million dollars to conduct two years' worth of surveillance and scientific monitoring to prevent the illegal fishing that threatens the vaquita marina porpoises. Only about 100 of the vaquita porpoises, which only live in the northern Sea, are still alive. A tip of the hat to the Mexican government for funding this program. We hope they do more, particularly in the Sea of Cortez.

What do you do following a circumnavigation? If you've read our interview with Charlie and Cathie Simon of the Taswell 58 Celebration earlier in this Changes, you know they're going to continue sailing, and perhaps upgrade to a sailboat with an office. As for Scott Stolnitz of the Marina del Rey-based Switch 51 Beach House, who has been out there for about eight years now, and who will cross his outbound path near the Galapagos next year, he says he'll cross the Pacific at least one more time. He and partner Nicki Woodrow have put Beach House in RAM Marina on Guatemala's Rio Dulce for the hurricane season and to get some major work done. When they return to the cat in November, they'll head for Isla Providencia, the San Blas Islands, and the Panama Canal.

"I think we'll sail with the Pacific Puddle Jumpers all the way to Oz next season," says Stolnitz, "as that means Nikki will get to complete her circumnavigation, too. After Australia, I have no idea what we'll do. Maybe ship the boat back to Fort Lauderdale and put her up for sale."

Louis Kruk reports that so far this year he’s made two trips to his Beneteau First 42s7 Cirque in the Bocas del Toro region of Panama, where he's been joined by a total of seven guests. The first was Frank Goddard, who did the 2007 Ha-Ha with Louis and Louis' late wife Laura. Next came Louis’ niece Gwen and her two 20-something cousins, Michelle, a civilian engineer for the Army Corps, and her brother Trevor, who flies C-17s for the Air Force.

"Upon their departure," reports Louis, "I was joined by Aussie Cheryl Ann Osborne, who stayed for six weeks of cruising and diving the archipelago. The onboard food was fabulous. My last two guests were Rick and Julie Sullivan."

"I’d flown home between guests," continues Louis. "On my flight from SFO to Houston on my way back to Panama, I took a walk to the back of the plane to use the facilities. While in the latter, I palpated my lower abdomen, and I was wracked with anxiety on my return to my seat. In the previous four months I’d experienced a wide array of curious health symptoms. Since I had been to exotic places such as Detroit, Tokyo, Phnom Penh and others, I decided to resolve the situation right then. I used the fast airport Wi-Fi to Google 'hospitals' in Houston, and before long I was on a Super Shuttle heading to the emergency room at Houston Methodist, the best hospital in all of Texas. After a night of blood tests, X-rays and scans, I was diagnosed as having an infection. I was given antibiotics and a bunch of other meds, and was admonished not to leave Houston until it was obvious the infection was gone. When nobody was looking, I sneaked out of the hospital and got a Super Shuttle to the airport to catch the midday flight to Panama City.

Trying to achieve progress in the troubled Mexican Temporary Import Permits (TIPs) process has been one step forward, one step back, then one step sideways. "But at least the Mexican government has started accepting our suggestions," reports Tere Grossman, president of the Mexican Marina Owners Association. "A big improvement in the latest TIPs is that there is now a space on the forms for the owner and the captain (or driver if a boat is being trailered to Mexico.) Another big change is that the TIP document looks slightly different if it's been requested by the private owner of the boat as opposed to a boat owned by a corporation that is run by a captain."

Grossman also asked that Latitude repeat the different ways for people to cancel their TIP. Why cancel a 10-Year TIP? It makes sense if you know for sure you're not coming back to Mexico. Because if the boat has a TIP that hasn't been cancelled, the boat can't return to Mexico under new ownership. There's only one TIP per boat. You can cancel your TIP either when clearing out of Mexico for the last time, or by sending it to the following address via registered mail: Administración de Operación Aduanera “3”, Administración Central de Operación Aduanera, Av. Hidalgo No. 77, Módulo IV, 1° piso, Col. Guerrero. C.P. 06300, México, D.F."

There was tragedy in the Atlantic 500 miles south of the Azores on May 6, as winds of 50 knots and seas to 45 feet had the crews of at least four recreational boats calling for help. The sequence isn't clear to us, but one of the boats, Reves Do, a nearly new Lagoon 40 catamaran with a family of four aboard, capsized, caught fire, and sank. The 37-year-old mother and her nine-year-old son managed to get into the liferaft, and were rescued in good condition by the 900-ft bulk carrier Yuan Fu Star. The 39-year-old father and six-year-old daughter didn't make it to the liferaft, but floated for seven hours before they were rescued by a hospital ship. Unfortunately, the young girl succumbed to the effects of hypothermia after being rescued.

A Portuguese Air Force helicopter rescued the crew of the Norwegian-flagged Swan 44 Kolibri, which had been rolled and knocked down several times. Two Dutch crew from the boat Grandul, type and hailing port unknown, were rescued by another ship after abandoning their vessel. We were unable to get details on the fourth vessel, which was also abandoned.

You don't find many West Coast sailors, even those who are doing circumnavigations, sailing around in the Netherlands. The biggest reason is that The Netherlands is so far out of the normal cruising routes. But despite the cold and blustery conditions, the toxic-looking brown water, and the short summer, the Dutch are crazy for sailing. We've been to the Netherlands twice in the last two years on business, and both times have been flabbergasted at the number of boats. It seems as if there are about three for every family.

The most classic of Dutch boats are the skûtsje, which are sailing barges traditionally used to transport cargo. The Dutch are nuts about these flat-bottom leeboarded boats, and race them competitively. We can't read Dutch, but the best we can understand it is that 14 of these sponsored boats follow a two-week route of day events around Friesland, during which time they are followed by about 15,000 fans. The partying is said to be wild. We always assumed that the crews would sail these flat-bottomed cargo boats flat, but they sail them on their ears. They even knock them down. When knocked down 90 degrees, the skûtsjes stay on their sides because the water is almost always less than six feet deep.

We're not sure where Jeanne Socrates is headed, but the East London friend of Latitude's who at 70 became the oldest woman to singlehanded around the world nonstop, recently pulled into Mazatlan aboard her Najad 380 Nereida. When asked for local knowledge, Michael and Melissa of the S&S 44 Tortue gave her the following advice:

"Make sure you secure everything, including your dinghy and outboard, if you anchor at Stone Island or the Old Harbor. Sadly, there has been a spate of thefts in those areas recently. A safer option might be at the northeast corner of Isla Venados, the middle of the three islands off the more northern part of the city. Sometimes it's rolly, but you can find good holding in sand in about 15 feet of water. There is an extended sand spit to the south. We normally anchor there when returning to Mazatlan, as we never attempt to come into the jetty at the north end of town unless it's daylight and unless we have a favorable report on conditions from someone who is there."

Sounds like good advice to us.

Readers from time to time ask for our advice regarding the best camera for cruising. It's changed over the years as technology has evolved, but as far as we're concerned nothing can compare with the iPhone 6+. It's incredibly versatile and easy to have with you all the time. In addition to taking fabulous hi-res photos, it has instant slow-mo, time lapse, video and stabilization. Eight photos in this month's Changes were taken with our iPhone 6+. It also does all those other non-camera things astonishingly well, too. The built-in editing features are sensational. We spend half our time on long flights massaging some of the 12,000 or so high-res photos we have on our phone. We felt like killing ourselves when our iPhone 6+ wouldn't charge during our last week in the French West Indies. Not only did we not have our most valuable editorial tool, we hadn't backed up in two days and were missing some terrific photos and two digitally recorded interviews. When we got back to L.A., the Apple techs fixed it in two minutes. They removed the grain of rice that had become imbedded in the power receptacle!

Want to make your iPhone camera/phone even more valuable? Dump your current carrier and sign up for a no-contract plan with T Mobile. We dumped the evil AT&T for T Mobile, and for one-third the price we are now getting unlimited data and texting in the United States — plus 119 other countries! It's worked great in the Caribbean islands, the States, Ireland and the Netherlands so far. It's not always ultra high-speed, but it works and it's free. Wi-Fi phone calls are free from 120 countries, and if you don't have Wi-Fi, they're only 20 cents/minute. Call us iPhone and T Mobile 'fanboys' if it makes you feel good, but for us the proof is in the results.

If you want to enter the SoCal Ta-Ta, the Southern California version of the Baja Ha-Ha that takes the fleet from Santa Barbara to Catalina via Santa Cruz Island, the Channel Islands and Paradise Cove, the time to sign up is now. There is only room for 50 entries, and 39 spots were grabbed in just the first couple of days. The dates are September 13-19. For complete information, visit

As for the 22nd Baja Ha-Ha that starts on October 26, 48 boats signed up in the first week. The earlier you sign up, the higher your boat is on the list for a slip at Cabo San Lucas. Getting a slip in Cabo may not seem like a big deal now, but it might after you've been at sea or on the hook for nine days. For full info on the Ha-Ha, visit The editor of Changes will be the Grand Poobah again, and can't wait to go south with you.

Missing the pictures? See the June 2015 eBook!


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