Changes in Latitudes

July, 2001

With reports this month from Velella on a fast crossing from Mexico to the Marquesas; from Neosol on getting beached in Banderas Bay; from Northern Exposure on the beauty of Alaskan cruising; from Irie on the movie and restaurant business in Tenacatita Bay; from Bluefin out in the middle of the Pacific; from Dennis and Paula at Loreto Fest; from Sun Dazzler at Barillas Marina in El Salvador; from Wanderlust on the Baja Bash; from Destiny on returning to Panama; and lots of Cruise Notes.

Velella - Wylie 31
Wendy Hinman & Garth Wilcox
Mexico To The Marquesas

Our 'Pacific Puddle Jump' of 2,800 miles took less time than we expected - under 23 days - especially for such a long distance across the doldrums. It was also more pleasant than we had anticipated. We had days of perfect sailing conditions, during which we would putter around - much like at home on a Sunday - doing little projects, cooking and reading. We passed the time sleeping, cooking and eating, navigating, reading, listening to the radio nets, making a French flag, and making sail changes and/or repairs as needed.

Needless to say, on such a long passage there were times when the journey seemed like an endless test of endurance. We did our best not to whine or ask, "Are we there yet?" The toughest times were the endless string of squalls that brought torrential downpours - sometimes along with huge gusts of wind. Trying to cook and serve meals while the waves sloshed around like the agitation cycle in a washing machine was not easy. There were many times when I swore that dinner the following night would be Power Bars instead of chicken stir fry with rice or similar meals. On a number of occasions when the conditions were particularly challenging, we did resort to canned ravioli or chili. (By the way, chili is next to impossible to find in Mexico.)

Here are the facts: We departed on March 30 from Puerto Vallarta, and arrived at Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas on April 23. We covered the 2,800 miles in 22 days and 22 hours. We only motored for two hours, and that was only because we weren't moving fast enough for our towing generator to generate enough power to keep up with our refrigerator. The average wind speed was eight knots, our average boat speed was five knots. Our highest speed was 10.2 knots, our lowest was zero. Our highest daily run was 167 miles, our slowest was 56 miles, our average was 118 miles. We crossed the equator on April 16 at 129 degrees, 26.5 minutes, and shared a bottle of tasty blackberry wine - thanks Mary and Joel - with King Neptune and a Sea Nymph.

The highlight of our passage was a mid-ocean rendezvous with the sailing vessel Queen Jane, where we passed books and ice-cold cokes and ice across the water via a boathook in dry bags. We had two casualties of consequence: we broke our spinnaker pole and shredded our asymmetrical spinnaker in a big squall. Garth also got three opportunities to disassemble the head, and retied a windvane block after a lashing broke.

We left ahead of a big pack of boats, and tended to have less wind than they did. After all we heard about the tradewinds, we were surprised that there wasn't more breeze. Then again, we also were surprised that we didn't face a number of days trapped in the doldrums, where there is normally little wind and numerous squalls.

When we saw the lush green mountains of the Marquesas, we had our reward for the long crossing. Would we do a passage like this again? Absolutely, yes! The sense of accomplishment, and the beauty and culture of the islands made it all worthwhile.

P.S. You need to add another boat to your West Coast circumnavigator's list: Vela, 40-foot Eastport Pinky Cutter, Chuck, Dawn, Garth and Linda Wilcox, Palo Alto. The family left San Francisco in August of '73 and returned in July of '78, having spent a year rebuiding their boat after running on a reef near Suva, Fiji.

- wendy & garth 5/25/01

Readers - Garth and Wendy's passage was a quick one, particularly considering they sailed all the way and their Wylie 31 is not a light boat. But it didn't surprise us, as they both have lots of racing experience and getting the most out of their boat comes as second nature to them.

Neosol - Cascade 42
Alex & Rachel Unger
Aground On Banderas Bay
(San Francisco)

Alex and Rachel were in the process of dropping their mainsail after a beautiful day of sailing on Banderas Bay, when they felt their boat bump on something. "Hey, there must be some reef out here!" Alex shouted. At the time, they were about a half mile offshore between Nuevo Vallarta and the mouth of the Rio Amica river. A few seconds later, they felt another bump. The couple immediately started the boat's engine and tried to bust loose, but the current was too strong and they were already in too shallow water. "It all happened so quickly," remembers Alex. "Before we knew it, we were in the surf line, and there was no way to prevent the boat from going ashore."

After a Mayday was broadcast, cruisers and other mariners from nearby Nuevo Vallarta and Marina Paradise were quick to respond. They lent their lines, muscles and boats to try to get Neosol back into deep water. Within an hour, the powerful fishing vessel Two Knots was on the scene. A line from the fishing boat was secured to Neosol to try to pull her off. A line was also attached high on the mizzen mast so that a group of volunteers - who had waded into the water - could try to pull the boat further onto her side. Unfortunately, the tow line broke. To make matters worse, the mizzen mast snapped where the line handlers had been pulling on it.

Soon the Mexican Navy showed up. Because of the shoal waters, their 500-foot line was about 500 feet too short. Thanks to the efforts of cruisers, more lines were tied together and then ferried through the surf to the line from the Navy ship. But once again the line snapped before the Neosol budged. After standing by for several more hours, the Navy gave up, leaving Alex and Rachel to spend the night aboard their badly heeling and beached boat. The Navy did promise to return the next morning at high tide.

But well after high tide, there was no sign of the Navy. It was Sunday, and they weren't answering the VHF. Nonetheless, people began gathering near the beached boat. By this time, Neosol was knee-deep on her side with waves crashing into her cockpit. It was a sight that seemed to inspire photographers, and at least one smiling tourist posed in front of the stricken boat. Alex and Rachel, sitting on the sloping deck of their boat, appeared to be amazingly cheerful, considering they had spent the night lurching on their beached boat, which was in danger of being destroyed.

As the day wore on, fellow cruisers began expressing doubts that a boat so far up the beach could be pulled off. A Mexican fisherman shook his head and said the "el barco" would soon be way up on the beach because the tide would come way up with "la luna". Another Mexican said the "keelo" was broken, and just shrugged his shoulders.

And as the day wore on, it began to look as though there would be no more attempts to save the boat. But friends of Alex and Rachel wouldn't give up. They got 1,500 feet of heavy duty tow line from Desperado Marine, and tied smaller lines to it so they could be picked up by jet skis and/or pangas, and taken out past the surf. Even though the tide had started to go out again, volunteers donned lifejackets and secured lines to the top of the boat's mast to pull her further on her side.

When a call went out for a jet-ski with two people to take the heavy line out to parasail boats, and some parasail boats to pull, the response was terrific. Then a group of men and women braved the crashing surf in chest high water to pull the line attached to the top of the mast. Another group sat on the perilous surfside tow rail of Neosol, hoping their weight would further heel the boat over.

The tide continued to go out, which wasn't good. But the surf was big, which helped keep the boat buoyant. The surf, however, was hard on those trying to hold the line to the mast. In fact, they looked like bungee jumpers as they flew into the air and crashed back down in to the water. They and others pulled in unison - until knocked off their feet by big waves. Even though it wasn't clear if the boat could be saved, it was obvious that everyone was having a blast trying!

Suddenly, El Gallean of Nuevo Vallarta, a sportfishing boat with horsepower to spare, arrived on the scene. The heavy tow line was quickly passed to them. As soon as the big boat started pulling, Neosol began moving into deeper water and righting herself! Soon the mast line handlers could let go of their lines and the people on the rail started jumping into the water. There was a cheer from the crowd at 5:45 pm as the boat once again floated in deep water. As she was rushed to the boatyard, everyone gathered the lines and lifejackets, exhausted but filled with an incredible sense of accomplishment.

The next evening, Jeff and Linda from the Delaware-based Miss Lindy invited everyone to Desperado Marine for a party. Jeff got on the VHF to make an announcement: "The cervezas are on me. Helping Alex and Rachel save their boat with everyone else was great - even better than sex!" Alex and Rachel, still dazed from two sleepless nights, were there to thank everyone. It turned out that the damage to their rugged Cascade wasn't as bad as it could have been. In any event, the assembled cruisers agreed that they'd want the same kind of help if they ever found themselves in a similar situation. "It was like a barn raising in that it wouldn't have been successful without the help of everyone," said Bruce Van Brocklin of the Alameda-based Columbia 50 Toujours 'L Audace.

Special thanks are due Dick Markie and his Paradise Marina staff; Bob Jones of the Newport Beach-based Drumbeat; Bruce Van Brocklin and Vicki Nelson of Toujours 'L Audace; Tom and Viki Mortensen of the Alameda-based Valiant 40 Anticipation; Jim Van Sickle of the San Francisco-based Wayward; Chuck and Anita of the Portland-based 401K, Jeff and Linda of the Bath-based Miss Lindy, John and Judy of the Vancouver-based Quest; Kent and Kerry on the Vancouver-based Glen David; Jerry of the Vancouver-based Valera Liz; Chris and Brenda of the Marina del Rey-based Peggy Doll; Jim of Picante; Steve and Katherine of the Richmond-based Sojourn; Nick and Carol Rau of the Nuevo Vallarta-based Mucho Gusto; Mike of North Sails in Puerto Vallarta and Magic Carpet; Bruce and Pam of the Honolulu-based Justice; Terry of the Nuevo Vallarta-based El Gallean; Two Knots; America Eagle; Desperado Marine, a bunch of Kent State students; the Mexican Navy, and anybody else that I may have failed to mention.

- vicki nelson, toujours 'l audace

Northern Exposure - Landfall 38
Jeff Coult & Friends
Tracy Arm, Alaska

As you might remember, after spending last summer exploring southeast Alaska, I decided to leave my boat in Juneau for the winter so I could return home to work, then continue exploring Alaska this summer. The fact that I got a slip in downtown Juneau for $70 a month and escaped the tax man in California helped validate my decision.

After a very mild Alaskan winter here, I returned to find my boat none the worse for the winter weather. It took about a week to re-commission the systems that had been winterized. The water system was purged of the non-toxic anti-freeze; the fuel tanks were cleaned (a very easy job thanks to the large inspection ports; the sails were taken out of storage and hanked on (since my friend Dave took responsibility for this job, I didn't have to worry about hanking the jib on upside down again) the bottom was cleaned; and the lockers were scrubbed. One of the advantages of the huge tides - 20 feet - in this part of the world is that most harbors have a grid system that allows you to float your boat onto a fixed system of timbers at high tide, tie up to vertical pilings, and then wait for low tide to set your boat gently down on the grid mat. The result is a free haul-out - albeit a pretty short one.
After getting the boat in order, Dave and Anette, friends from Alameda, arrived and the cruising season began. My desire was to give them the most awesome Alaskan experience possible in the shortest amount of time, so the Tracy Arm - Fords Terror area fit the bill perfectly. Here's how Anette described some of it:

"Wow! I was told that Alaska was so beautiful that when you experience it, it takes time for it all to sink in and become real enough to enjoy. And that's correct. After a good night's sleep - well, except for the dramatic squall in the middle of the night - in a little cove with the bear who ignored us, we headed to Tracy Arm. In fact, we spent the day travelling in Tracy Arm, which seemed to get more beautiful as we went along. It was amazing. First we passed waterfalls and mountains, then we started seeing icebergs. The first one looked like a magnificent aqua blue ice sculpture. Then there was another and another, until we seemed to be seeing every possible size and shape. It was like watching a parade of ice sculpture floats.

"Then it started to sprinkle and the wind got colder. The beautiful mountain peaks were now covered in gray clouds. We motored on in the rain, happy to just put more layers of clothes on. Just when we were numbed up and used to it, we turned a corner and were back in sunshine. We took off a layer and set our gloves out on the deck to dry. It didn't take long in the bright sun.

"When we got to the glacier, we found ourselves standing and staring for some time before we could put into words what we were feeling. Awesome beauty! After you've gotten to the speaking point looking at the glacier, you turn around and are amazed at the powerful mountains, with miles of pure snow, sheer rock walls right down to the calm water full of icebergs. I don't believe it's possible to describe what we saw, and not even photographs do it justice. You just have to see it yourself.

"The next day we were back in the cove we started from. The bear is gone, but Jeff alerted us to a whale nearby! It's very exciting for me, as I've made many attempts, but never was able to see a whale in the wild until today. This has all been way beyond my expectations. Tomorrow, Ford's Terror. It's hard to imagine anything more beautiful and amazing than what we've seen, but Jeff just smiles and says, "Just you wait!" "

- jeff 6/15/01

Readers - For more stunning photographs of Northern Exposure and crew in Alaska, check out 'Lectronic Latitude for June 14.

Irie - Cascade 36
Richard McKay & Karen Peterson
Late Season In Tenacatita

Thanks to some boat work in Mazatlan, we got a late start on the cruising season. So when we finally left, we sailed straight down to Tenacatita Bay, arriving on March 26. There were still about two dozen boats on the hook in bay, but as we write this on May 8, there are a lot less. Sometimes, we and our buddy-boat Capricorn IV have had the whole place to ourselves.

The weather has been more unsettled than in previous years, and when we tried to head north last week, we were blown back by 30 knots of wind on the nose. Oh well, this is a pretty wonderful place to be stuck for awhile. It's still three weeks until hurricane season, and anyway, the water is only 72 degrees, too cold for tropical storms to develop.

Paris Tropical - or the 'French Restaurant', as everybody refers to it - is still operating, and there is more good news. All the land questions and disputes are said to have been resolved, so Cyril and Vinciane will definitely be reopening the restaurant next season in November, and will be keeping it open until May 15. From November to December 15, they'll be open from 2 to 11 p.m.; from December 15 until May 15, they'll be open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. They will be hiring additional help in order to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The additional services that they offer will include laundry, groceries purchased from your list, gasoline, propane, ice, garbage, book exchange, small on-site store, a "dangerous" happy hour, and lots of cold beer. Their special every-other-week BBQ will continue starting with Thanksgiving. They also plan to get a television and a satellite dish for the restaurant so folks can watch the news, weather and sporting events. And finally, in the far-off summer of 2002, Cyril and Vinciane plan to get married in France. But they'll be having a big party to celebrate at their restaurant before they close for the summer. Oh, yes, they also want to distribute Latitude.

The last couple of weeks here at Tenacatita, we have been watching a film crew make a movie called Keep The Faith for Showtime. It's about Adam Clayton Powell, one of the first African Americans elected to the U.S. Congress, and will air in February of 2002. This is the fourth movie to be shot in Tenacatita Bay. We only know of the new one and McHale's Navy, for which the building now occupied by Paris Tropical was built. Vinciane says that the first movie was filmed before there were any bulidings in the area, and that the other one was an 'erotic' film.

The current film crew set up partitions in the French Restaurant and turned part of it into what's supposed to be a bar in Bimini. Another section was turned into what's supposed to be an apartment in New York City! Meanwhile, Cyril and Vinciane - who were hired to provide snacks for a crew of 80 each day - had to move into the building that usually serves as their kitchen.
The film crew apparently had a problem trying to film a New York City segement at night, as the natural jungle noises didn't sound right in what's supposed to be a city. Vinciane was even asked if she could do something about it! She told them that birds and wild animals aren't battery operated, so they don't have 'on-off' switches.

The movie crew was tolerant of our watching them shoot, and were also nice about answering our questions. We thought that maybe this would be our big chance to become stars, but we soon realized that the chances of modern day cruisers appearing in a movie about an African American Congressman in the '60s were darn slim. We did get to meet Adam Clayton Powell IV, and that was a thrill. Vanessa Williams is also in the movie, but we never saw her.

Now all the excitement is over, and it only remains for the movie crew to restore the French Restaurant to its previous condition. Cyril and Vinciane are packing the last stuff into their house in town for when they leave. And the wind has begun to blow pleasantly out of the south, so we leave for Mazatlan tomorrow.

- karen & richard 5/8/01

Bluefin - Swan 46
David McGuire, Crew
Sausalito To Oceania
Lat. 14.58.0 N; Lon. 131 25.1 W.

We're now two weeks out of Sausalito, 1,000 miles from any shore, heading pretty much south at eight knots. Before we took off, we were reminded of the sailors' truism that you often get either too little wind or too much wind. So we began our voyage in the manner of the Polynesians, by placing a pa ti leaf lei on the bow. It's to appease the wind gods and is not to be removed except by the seas. We also left a lei of yellow orchids floating in the waters beneath the Golden Gate, bidding our safe return.
The coastal winds of Northern California gave us a friendly push - actually, more like a playful slap - of square waves and wind on the nose for a day or so. But even the normally dependable northwesterlies couldn't be depended on. So we close reached southwest with our asymmetrical kite, escaping the clutches of the Southern California bight in search of wind to free ourselves of our last connection with land.

Once we escaped the land, we got caught in a large and stable Pacific High, which shut the wind down completely. As a result, we spent the past six days and nights with the half ounce spinnaker strapped to the headstay, close-reaching to the west in variable winds. When we get the northeasterly, we'll head south, tacking downwind in search of the trades.

Despite the light winds and trying to run down the latitudes, we have managed to click off 1,400 miles in the nine days since Catalina. As I write this, the wind gods are starting to smile a tradewind grin. We now have cumulus clouds and a steady 15 knots from the northeast, allowing us to reach along nicely across the indigo sea. In fact, the sailing is now glorious.
There are four of us aboard, but without our non-human fifth and sixth crewmembers, we'd be exhausted wrecks. Our friends, Wayne the Windvane, and Autobahn Pilot, have spurred Bluefin onward when we humans were too beat to steer. After the first three days of steering watch on and off, we were grateful for their help. In addition to being silent, they eat little.

Who said sailing to the tropics is leisurely and languorous activity? Not a sailor. Between stowing the last loose stores, fastening the things that never got fastened in our hurry to escape, and the sail changes and piloting necessary to move a sailboat across the sea, sleep has been an elusive commodity. And when you get just four to six hours of sleep out of every 24, sleep is almost coveted more than food. This week we hooked two yellowfin, three mahi, a wahoo - and said a brief 'hello' to a striped marlin. Christian, our purser, Belgian chef, and former attorney, prepared the fish perfectly, and they happily dwell within us.

Jim, our bosun, 'head' engineer, and ocean racer who did the Singlehanded TransPac in his Express 27 last summer, has already rebuilt the rebuilt head - try that underway - and is busy firing up the new systems. Chris, the captain and owner, has been busy literally nailing things down. He was the first to catch our dinner - in more ways than one. The chronicler and navigator - a biologist gone astray, but now back on course - who has previously crossed the Pacific and has two decades of ocean racing - has helped maintain the VMG and kept Bluefin sailing south.

Sailing along at night is like tumbling through a dimensionless darkness, cutting a wake of fire through space, streaming constellations in our wake, leaving the stars paled by the myriad fiery diatoms. We know what it's like to exist ashore. Now we're finding out what it's like to live again. Today is my birthday. Back home, I'd be too preoccupied with the minutiae of daily life to ponder who and what we are, and where we are going. But on this morning's watch, I was greeted by a limitless sea - and a salutation taped to the boom. I'm fortunate to have such great shipmates and a fine boat to sail - but it is the sea that gives me the greatest thanks. Like life, the important part of the voyage seems to be the passage, and not the destination - even if the destination is the South Pacific.

- david 05/28/01

Loreto Fest VI
Dennis & Paula
Backstreets, Cal 31
(Sea Of Cortez)

The sixth annual Loreto Fest - a party to benefit the children and greater community of Loreto - was held at nearby Puerto Escondido, Baja, from May 17th through the 20th. The crowd began arriving - by cruising boat, catamaran, cat, kayak and camper - at Puerto Escondido a week before the first scheduled event. Cruisers, former cruisers and wannabe cruisers gathered to celebrate the lifestyle - and the approach of skinny dipping season in the Sea of Cortez. One hundred and seventy cruising boats were anchored in the harbor during the Fest, with six RVs and two tents parked ashore.

The Loreto Fest was originally conceived as a means of gathering enough people in Puerto Escondido to clean the area up. But over the years, so much has been cleaned up that it no longer requires many people power hours. The excess energy has gone into throwing a big four-day party. After a few years, the sponsoring Hidden Port YC members were surprised at how many thousands of dollars were left over from activities such as beer and T-shirt sales. Since then, the primary focus of the Fest evolved into that of a pleasurable fundraiser for the local community.

This year's Fest was presided over by Commodore Elvin of Western Sea, and his partner Connie of Sunlover. Elvin reported that after some initial difficulties, he was able to obtain the necessary permits and cooperation of local officials - because of the thousands of dollars in Fest proceeds that have been distributed to local groups in the years past. All Fest profits are dedicated to charitable agencies in the greater Loreto area. In addition, Juan, Alocus and Elvin made special arrangements with Immigration, and the Port Captain allowed Juan to check in 92 boats at the clubhouse. This saved the skippers the 36-mile round-trip to town. Nonetheless, almost $3,000 in port fees were paid by the fleet.

Traditionally, the Fest begins on Thursday with a ham test administered by Mel of Tea and Honey. Under the new and relaxed code rules, a number of cruisers were able to upgrade to General Class licenses. A class provided by Gene and Jo of Sunbear trained six cruisers in Morse Code - and all six passed the five word per minute test.

The club provided two dinners and a pancake breakfast for participants. On Saturday evening, some 450 chicken dinners were served. There was live music during nearly all of the Fest, provided by cruising musicians and coordinated by Bill of DBK. As many as 20 musicians played in the 'PE band'. The highlight of the music was the original composition Looking Good and Feeling Fine by Chris of Debonair. Pepe and Sue of Melissa also performed. Most days the live music began at 10:30 am and continued for the cruiser's listening and dancing pleasure until about 11 pm.

'Looking Good and Feeling Fine' - a saying made famous by Peetie of Vela - was the theme of this year's Fest. Peetie and her husband Bob are founders and charter members of the Hidden Port YC - and will both be 80 years young this year! The Fest was dedicated to this wonderful couple, and their birthday was celebrated by 350 cruisers singing 'Happy Birthday' to them and sharing an enormous cake. The couple live on the beach, but continue to cruise their sailboat to nearby islands. They are a joy and inspiration to cruisers in the Puerto Escondido area.

A 34-person troop of young dancers from the Casa de Cultura provided a wonderful floorshow of folkloric and Hawaiian dancing. This organization received crucial funding from Fest a few years back when it was just starting. The organization provides young people with art, music, and dancing instruction, and has recently started a health club for the young people.
There were 12 seminars during the Fest on various subjects such as making fishing lures, overhauling watermakers, and sending email over the radio. All seminars were well attended. Those interested in more active pursuits took part in "over the line" baseball, dinghy and kayak racing, horseshoes, board and card games, and the always popular synchronized kayak paddling. Many activities were specifically for children. Nine youngsters participated. Once again the Spam Art contest had many participants. Each year the entries are more elaborate, creative - and delicious.

Each year the event is supported by various businesses and services. Among the things donated to the silent auction were a Pur 40 watermaker donated by the manufacturer, and a day of hi-tech fishing by the local charter sportfisher El Fuerte. All proceeds go to the community. For example, students from the fishing village south of Puerto Escondido have received funding for room and board so they can attend high school in Loreto. Without these funds, they wouldn't be able to study past grade school. Commodore Elvin told the Fest attendees that he thought the club would expand the contributions to this program in the coming year.

Fundraising events such as the Loreto Fest pay huge dividends in goodwill for the cruising community. The money donated undercuts those few in the local tourist business who would like to force cruising boaters from the area. Plans for developing the Puerto Escondido area will include consideration for cruisers to the degree they are seen as making a positive contribution to the community. The Loreto Fest greatly enhances cruiser prestige and influence.

The weather cooperated with light winds, warm days, and cool evenings. There were no reported injuries, accidents or thefts. Planning for the event began last winter, with much of the work being done by the Hidden Port YC Executive Board, which consisted of Commodore Elvin of Western Sea; Vice Commodore Ed of Allie; Secretary Janet of Mystical; Treasurer Dee of Flutterby; and Rear Commodore Kenny of Brandywine.

- dennis and paula

Sun Dazzler - Mariner 48 Ketch
Dorsey & Janice Warren
Barillas Marina Club, El Salvador
(San Francisco)

Hello, from Barillas Marina in El Salvador. What a lovely place. After crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec, we decided to stop here to break up our trip to Costa Rica. And boy, are we glad we did! The marina's panga met us outside the breakers and guided our group of three boats - Refuge and Fantasia were the others - through the surf and 10 miles up the river to this 'country club' in the jungle.

Having spent two seasons in Mexico and having become quite annoyed with the constant check-in/out procedures and related costs, a lot of us are so pleased to have headed south to enjoy this change in culture. Eat your heart out Mexico, with all your hassles! When we arrived at Barillas Marina, the panga boys helped us with our mooring, and within minutes the marina manager arrived - with Customs and the Port Captain! After a cursory boat inspection, we were checked in. Our visas were just $10 each, and that was the only fee.

It's very quiet here in the marina, and rather than hearing blaring music from the beach as you do in Mexico, you hear lots of landbirds. In addition, a short walk takes you to the troop of spider monkeys. The marina offers free van rides to town for shopping, and has a lovely pool and restaurant. The Internet service has to be seen to be believed: 12 new machines in an air-conditioned room. Or you can take your laptop to one of the 12 palapas that are wired with power and phone lines, and connect to a local service for $1.40 an hour.

So here we are, typing this next to the pool under a palapa, while some of the girls are sewing awnings and other large projects in the air-conditioned room made available for them. Other cruisers are doing aqua exercises in the pool, someone is folding a sail on the lawn, and others are hauling dinghies up the ramp or using the free water taxi service to get to and from their boats. The river water is murky, so we don't use our watermaker, but rather come to the fuel dock once in a while to hose off and fill up. There are potlucks on Thursday nights, and other special dinners with live music and other goodies. By the way, the moorings cost under $6 a night - maybe higher next year - so lots of cruisers leave their boats here while they travel home for the summer.

We had planned to stay here at Barillas Marina a couple of days, but it's now been three weeks and we find that we're having to extract ourselves from its embrace. So next year's southbound cruisers don't want to miss it. We're off to Costa Rica and Panama, and hope to come back to our Tahoe City home for August and September.

P.S. Thanks for the great magazine. We recently held an auction to raise funds for the Barillas Earthquake Relief Project, and May issues of Latitude went for $3 each!

- janice & dorsey 4/25/01

WanderLust - Hunter 340
Mike Harker
Singlehanded Baja Bash
(King Harbor)

I arrived at the transient docks in Marina del Rey on May 11, just two hours short of 9 days from the time I singlehanded out of Cabo San Lucas for the second time. I was able to keep my averages for the entire trip, and arrived rested and without any signs of stress. My Hunter 34 seemed as good as new, and her three-cylinder Yanmar - which just hit 500 hours - still purred like a sewing machine. Here's how my trip went:

After a week in Cabo waiting in vain to find another sailboat headed north, it was time to leave. Cabo is not a cruising sailor's harbor, as they are geared so much to the sport fishermen that I couldn't even count 20 masts in the big harbor. And every morning before sunrise, many fishing boats start up their big diesels and run them for 15 or 20 minutes, which produces a low level cloud of thick diesel smog throughout the entire harbor. It seems to last into the afternoon. Then all the fishing boats head out through the harbor at 12 to 15 knots, creating the biggest boat wakes possible. It's not good for trying to sleep in.

I didn't think the marina personnel were very friendly or helpful either. When I asked for directions to the Port Captain or anywhere else, they'd push over a printed map and recommend using an agent where I could also buy the proper forms. It wasn't cheap, either. It was $48.00 a night - "no matter if it was for a day, week or month" - for my 34 footer. Every other marina throughout my travels in Mexico had been very considerate, helpful and informative. As a sailor, I truly felt as though I were disturbing their daily powerboat-oriented routine. If I do return to Cabo, I will drop the hook out in the bay in front of Cascades Hotel, enjoy their breakfast and hospitality, and either beach the kayak or dinghy into the dock.

In the wee hours of May 5 - Cinco de Mayo - I pulled out of Bahia Santa Maria, so this last stop on the Ha-Ha was now devoid of any boats. I eased my feeling of loneliness by putting some good travelling music on the CD player. With light winds and a four-foot sea - both right on the nose - I was able to motorsail on a course of 360° with a full main. I hoped to find a countercurrent similar to the one I'd caught just north of Cabo Falso, but had no luck. My speed through the water was 7.2, but the GPS said I was only making 6.0 over the bottom.

With no counter current to help me towards the NW, I had to sail as close to the wind as I could. The main on my Hunter is fully battened at the top and has a big roach. It also has a cunningham that lets me flatten the leading edge and head higher into the wind. With the main sheeted in hard and using the full six feet of traveller to windward, I was able to motorsail 60 degrees through the wind, which gave me 1.2 to 1.8 knots more speed than under motor alone. So I was sticking to my 6.0 knot average and hoping to make Turtle Bay before nightfall.

While heading for Punta Abreojos on starboard tack, the wind picked up to 25-28 knots true, so I went back to a double reef, but I was still making 7.2 knots. While down below pulling on some Gore-Tex pants, I was suddenly knocked to the floor! I tried to climb back up on my feet, but was knocked down again! I looked out the little ports and sensed that the boat was spinning in circles, causing the sail to violently crash from one side to the other. As I struggled to the cockpit, I could only think I must have
hit a whale or lost the rudder.

When I got to the wheel and throttled back, I sensed that something was wrong. The wheel had disappeared! It was no longer there. I released the mainsheet, hooked into the harness, and tried to douse the main that was flapping in the strong wind, but the boat kept going in circles. I was finally able to get a cord around the middle of the sail and get back to the cockpit without getting knocked over.

Then I saw the wheel laying at the back of the boat, held in place by the cables coming from the autopilot. The pedestal still had the nub of the shaft coming out, and with the aid of some vice grips I was able to point the boat into the wind. I tried to fit the wheel back onto the shaft, but it wouldn't stay because the key was at the back of the boat also, just two inches from a drain. So was the big nut that holds the wheel in place. Was there supposed to be a stop washer or friction spacer? There will be one in the future. I thought the adventure must have taken hours, but according to my watch it only lasted five minutes.

Several hours later, I pulled into Turtle Bay, pretty much on schedule. There were about a dozen other boats, sail and power, and some pangas. I picked my way towards the green restaurant on the bluff, remembering Maria's Pescada, where I had enjoyed a good time during the Ha-Ha stopover. After dropping my new Chinese made Bruce in 15 feet of water, I slept well.
I had planned to use the stopover in Turtle Bay to do some minor maintenance. After breakfast, I started by changing the oil and filters. It was easy sucking up the old oil out through the dipstick, but my filter wrench was too big for the little Yanmar filters. So I got out the channel locks and wrapped the end of the filter with duct tape so it wouldn't slip. The engine was still completely clean and oil free but, I didn't want to squeeze the wrench too hard. It came off with little effort, and the new filter spun on just as easily. The instruction on the filter is to hand-tighten, then add another two-thirds turn with the filter wrench. As I was following instructions, the channel locks put a slight dent in the filter. After tightening the packing nut on the drive shaft, I felt ready to go again.

The Gordo family - the fuel dock mafia at Turtle Bay - are just great. One of the sons of the original Gordo came over in his panga and asked how much diesel I needed. He came back and filled my tank and all my jerry cans at 20 pesos a gallon. Then he took me to his sister Maria's Restaurant for lunch! The blackened pescada was terrific - just as I had remembered it.

In this part of Baja, the wind seems to come up at noon and die about midnight. So I left at midnight, setting a course for Punta San Carlos. It turned out to be an easy, one-tack motorsail, with the winds topping out at 20 knots at about noon. A few hours later, I was able to flop back and head for the protection of San Carlos. A few miles out, I saw what I thought were colorful flags in the distance, flags that seemed to jump into the air. As I got closer, I realized it was boardsailors using the 25-knot winds to jump the breakers off the point. Some of them were really good!

After a while, one of the better boardsailors came over to my boat and, in a French accent, asked if he could have some water. When I answered in French, he was pleased and thankful to be able to speak in his native language. In fact, he pulled up and tied off so we could speak a while. I came out with a Tecate Light, but he preferred just water. I had stored some Evian down in the bilge before leaving San Diego, and the Frenchman seemed very pleased to be able to drink some French water. The French are great outside of France, but are very nationalistic in all their ways. He said he'd been there for six weeks, and this was the first time he'd been able to speak French.

It was very calm in the anchorage where I was again the only boat. I couldn't figure out why all the other boats I'd seen in Cabo and Turtle Bay were still waiting for their 'weather window'. The weather seemed fine for motorsailing, so maybe they were expecting a southerly - which was highly unlikely.

Upon leaving Bahia San Carlos, I chose to hug the coast and go between it and Isla San Geronimo. As I was coming into the Bay of El Rosario, the wind died completely, and off in the distance I could see what looked like splashes from diving pelicans. As I came further into the bay, I could see that the 'splashes' were actually the spouting from pairs of whales. I had many whale sightings in the Sea of Cortez, but never so many at once. I had assumed most mothers and calves would have been further north. But after counting 25 pair, I stopped, as there were easily twice as many in the bay. I shut off the engine and just drifted amongst them. They would come very close, closer than I have ever been. They seemed to just glide along with little effort, going in all directions, obviously feeding. Most would just rise to the surface to breathe easily, no spout or spray, and just slowly sink away. I stayed for an hour, thankful for the experience and the photo opportunity.

After starting up the engine and motoring for about half an hour, I noticed what looked like a dead whale up ahead. When I drew alongside, I cut the engine. It was a baby, about the same length as my boat. I got out the Canon D-30 and started taking pictures. All of a sudden, there was a sound louder than an old style steam locomotive letting out a gush of steam! I was so shocked that I dropped my camera into the water as I jumped back into the cockpit. And the smell - it was like Fisherman's Wharf at low tide. The mother was coming between her baby and my boat! I didn't think there was enough room, so I braced for a big bump. But she never touched. Momma and the baby glided underwater and I never saw them - or any other whales - again. For the record, there is now a very good Canon digital camera with an expensive zoom lens and a little-used neck strap lying at the bottom of Bahia del Rosario. There are at least 100 images of whales stored on the 360MB card inside.
The rest of the voyage to Ensenada was totally uneventful, as there was almost no wind or swell. I stopped in Ensenada and had breakfast with a very good, old friend, Nico Saad, at his hotel before continuing on to San Diego.

I must report on two minor mistakes of which I am ashamed to admit to, but which I pass on to others so they won't make them. Coming up the channel between Tijuana and the offshore islands, I slowly passed another boat headed in the same direction. After so many hours of the only sound being that of your own engine, you get to be sensitive to its sounds, and now it sounded different. When I opened the hatch at the companionway, I found the engine covered with oil! I shut her down, but because of the inch-thick layer of oil in the bilge, assumed I had blown her. The oil was the first drop I had seen since buying her with 18 hours on the engine. The dipstick still registered very low, but at least there was something at the end of the stick.
After a little investigation, I discovered the source of the leak - the dent I had put in the filter at Turtle Bay, a dent as a result of not having the right size filter wrench. Sure enough, this dent had become a split. I suspect the added rpms necessary to pass the other boat had added pressure from the oil pump, which had pushed the oil through the dent. What a mess! I guess I should have re-changed the $6 filter after I had dented it, but it didn't seem that bad. And then trying to race another boat into port didn't help. I spent an hour cleaning up the mess, changing the filter, and adding another quart of oil. I had to use the same channel locks again to get the old filter off, and completely destroyed it. I put some reversed duct tape on the end of the new filter and screwed it in as tight as I could with my hands. I never went over 2000 rpm the rest of the way into San Diego.

The other interesting event was the simultaneous arrival of "the Navy Fleet" from Hawaii - including an aircraft carrier - coming into San Diego just as a whole fleet of Coast Guard patrol and other vessels were heading out. It seems they had been tracking a fishing boat for days, and upon inspection had found the largest haul of smuggled cocaine in Coast Guard history. All this just as I was also heading into San Diego Harbor. I moved over and let the Navy pass before I continued into the check-in dock.

I pulled into the Marriott Hotel Marina unannounced, and tied up for a great breakfast buffet. I folded out my Danon Mariner bicycle, and pedaled over to West Marine to buy some more filters, the right wrench, and a gallon of oil. When I got back to the Marriott to check in at noon, they said they had had a price increase since I first stayed there at the end of October. It was $84 a day for my little 34-footer! I thanked them for their effort and left for Catalina and Marina del Rey. I tied up to the transient docks at 7 a.m. in Marina del Rey, in just under nine full days up from Cabo San Lucas.

I was able to pull into my reserved slip at Redondo Beach's King Harbor Marina the next day, two weeks early. I did not count on making it up from Cabo in under 10 days, but am now thankful to finally be at my home on the Strand in Manhattan Beach. Now, when I look out my window and see all the sailboats heading due south to Catalina or beyond, I can honestly say I know what it feels like.

- mike 05/25/01

Readers - When Mike Harker started the Ha-Ha last October with a couple of experienced sailing buddies from Germany, he was a novice offshore sailor. Having made the tough Baja Bash back to San Diego singlehanded, he's obviously come a long way. According to last month's letter, he's going to do the Ha-Ha again this year.

Destiny - Swan 46
Peter & Nancy Bennett
Mexico To The Caribbean
(San Francisco)

It's hard to believe that just six weeks ago we were in Paradise Marina near Puerto Vallarta, and now - even though we spent two weeks in Balboa for provisions and minor repairs before going through the Canal - are now anchored in the San Blas Islands of Panama. Even though it was our third Canal transit, it was still a great experience. We went through side-tied to a tug. After the recent accident in which two yachts were virtually destroyed because a tug deckhand was inattentive to a line, it's probably the safest way to go. Our advisor was a very professional tug pilot. The Canal is still short of advisors for the small boats, so they are using tug pilots. Our tug pilot - having already worked eight hours that day - was not happy about it. There are persisent rumors that the transit fee for small yachts will soon go up to $1,500. If it does, it will still be better than the other option, which is sailing around Cape Horn.

We still find it hard to understand why people use agents for their Canal transit. We didn't use one, and the entire process took us just two hours. What's involved is a phone call to the measurer, getting measured, a trip to Citibank to pay the fees, a trip to the Port Captain, and a phone call to get your transit time. That's it. Another mystery is why cruisers are in such a rush to get through Panama. It may not be the South Pacific, but it's still a '10' for us. What a wonderful country in which to cruise. Right now, for example, we're anchored off one of the smaller San Blas Islands, the water is flat and clear, the skies are blue, and we're enjoying a bottle of wine with our fresh crab.

We stopped by the Pedro Miguel Boat Club for the going away party for Commodore Craig Ownings and his wife Sarah. It was a fun time, and as usual, Craig wasn't at a loss for words. We recommend the Pedro Miguel for anyone wanting to spend time in Panama. Craig has left the Pedro Miguel in the capable hands of Jim and Heather from Scotland, who are capable, enthusiastic, and have lots of great ideas. They're also great cooks and make wonderful dishes for the Saturday night potlucks. They sailed to Panama from Scotland aboard their boat Charmer.

The last time we looked at our log, we'd travelled almost 25,000 miles - equivalent to halfway around the world - but still haven't gone anywhere. And that's fine with us. While in Panama City, I logged on to 'Lectronic Latitude and read George Backhus' comments about Fort Lauderdale. We spent some time there four years ago and found that they cater to the megayacht owners and people with deep pockets. The yards did not allow for doing your own work, and were not cheap. We still say that you can't beat the San Francisco Bay Area for the best yards and the most knowledgeable people. Every time we've had a problem and/or needed parts or advise, we've called the pros in the Bay Area. They solve our problems by voice or email, and FedEx whatever parts and instructions we need. We've never seen this kind of service anywhere else. Our special thanks to Svendsen's and Swedish Marine for being there when we needed them.

While surfing the SSB the other night, I listened in while Jim of the Kettenberg 40 Time Traveller talked to the Coast Guard and ham operators. As I understand it, Time Traveller left Puerto Vallarta for the Galapagos, then decided to turn back to California. After facing many days of little wind, the skipper ran out of food, fuel and water. What's worse, the boat was taking on 150 gallons of water every 24 hours. The Coast Guard at Pt. Reyes diverted a freighter to give him food, fuel and water. Later I heard that he only had three gallons of fuel left and Don on Summer Passage was telling him that there wasn't going to be much more wind anytime soon. To our knowledge, Jim is still out there trying to get back to somewhere on the coast of Mexico. The Coasties and hams are monitoring his progress, so it must be a good feeling to know they are there.

- peter & nancy

Cruise Notes:

Neither the Eastern Pacific nor the Caribbean Sea were courteous enough to wait for the start of their respective 'official' hurricane seasons before huffing and puffing this year. On May 25, a week before the start of the season, Adolph formed at 15°S well off the coast of Mexico, and heated up to 125 knots - which made him a very powerful Category 4 hurricane. But he fizzled several hundred miles to the west, almost as quickly as he'd formed. Over in the Gulf of Mexico, Tropical Storm Allision made an appearance with 50-knot winds nearly three weeks before the start of the Caribbean season. Although not a particularly powerful storm, the flooding she caused resulted in numerous deaths and tremendous property damage in Texas, and four more deaths in Florida. Be careful out there.

"The last time I wrote in, I was in Finike, Turkey, and looking for crew to help with my Red Sea passage," writes Stephen Faustina of Solitaire, an Oakland-based Barnett 42 that's currently in Phuket, Thailand. "As a result of that update, John Guzzwell Jr. joined me in Turkey, and we made a successful passage to Djibouti with stops at Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and Eritrea. From January to March, the Red Sea put up some of the most difficult sailing conditions that John or I have ever experienced. The last third, from Eritrea to the Strait of Bab el Mandeb, was particularly rough. So much for an 'easy' southbound passage through the Red Sea - which is primarily feared on northbound passages. John had to leave my boat in Djibouti to help deliver another yacht from Acapulco to Tahiti, so I continuted solo again across the Gulf of Aden. I had intended to sail direct to Sri Lanka, but autopilot problems necessitated my stopping in Yemen and Oman. Contrary to all the reports and the experiences of some others, I had no problems with pirates along the Yemen coast. In fact, all my contacts with Yemenis have been very positive, and I'm glad that I didn't bypass that part of the Arabian peninsula.

"My stop in Salalah, Oman, allowed me to order a new autopilot from the U.K.," Faustina continues, "and also contact, Mike Holtz, a friend who I had met in Mexico and again in Panama when he was sailing his boat from San Diego to Florida. Mike was able to take a leave from his job in Germany, so he met me in Oman for the passage across the Indian Ocean. The first leg was a 13-day trip to Galle, Sri Lanka, followed by a 9-day passage from Galle to Phuket, Thailand. I'm leaving Solitaire in Thailand for the summer while I return to California for a holiday. By the way, at the time we made our passage, the Indian Ocean was ideal for an eastbound 'wrong way' passage. We had mostly light winds aft of the beam, but also some ideal days that reminded me of the spinnaker runs from California to Hawaii during my two Singlehanded TransPacs. In September I will continue on down through the Malacca Straits, and hopefully to Australia and New Zealand for the New Year."

"We just finished reading Hae Twen's well-written article on their passage from Italy to Turkey, with their favorable description of Santorini, Greece," write our favorite sailing seniors, Larry Hirsch and Dorothy Taylor of the San Diego-based Hylas 45.5 Shayna. "We had a different experience. A gale came up suddenly out of the southeast and lasted for three days. The marina entrance was closed due to surf, so we couldn't leave. It wasn't so bad in the back of the harbor, but it was full of small fishing boats and only had six feet of water. So we were jammed against the crumbling concrete wall they call a dock. Fenders were useless, so we used heavy rubber tires to protect against the damage inflicted by the waves crashing over the breakwater. Even so, our heavy steel and wood rubrail suffered. Furthermore, we got red and black lava dust all over our decks, and floating pumice pebbles in every hose and thru-hole. A local Greek gave us some good advice. "Leave your boat in the harbor at Ios and visit Santorini by ferry." We're now on the hook at Porto Heli in the southern Peloponnese, where there is good holding, calm water, and a nice village. Many boats spend the winter here on the hook, where they are looked after by Frank's Yacht Service."

"We've been our cruising for almost three years, and are now in El Salvador on our way to Chile," report Capt Don, Admiral Sammy, and First Mate Katie the scurvy dog of the Seattle-based Skookum 53 Dawnsbelle.

"We just finished our fourth winter in Mexico," report Burk and Marsha Burkholder of the San Francisco-based Tayana 37 Loup de Mer, which is currently in San Carlos, Mexico. "This year we drove our motorhome loaded with boat project materials to Mazatlan. We then spent six weeks installing the electric windlass, the wind generator, an additional solar panel, extra cabin lighting, and lots of shelving for more storage. We then sailed as far south as Barra de Navidad looking for warm weather and water - which we didn't find much of this year. Then we sailed back north, crossing from Mazatlan to La Paz. We ultimately decided to store Loup on the hard at San Carlos in anticipation of shipping her to Corpus Christi in the fall. We won't be able to sail to Panama and through the Canal because of an aging father, so we'll start from Corpus Christi instead."

We spent a bunch of time in Mexico last winter, and heard everybody from sailors to surfers complain about how 'cold' it was. We don't know what you folks are talking about! We never got even remotely cold while sailing, nor even after two hours of surfing without a wetsuit. We did, however, sweat a lot. Judging from all the sailors who wore wetsuits while surfing in the warm water, we think your blood just got thin. What do other folks think?

"We bought the Lord Nelson 35 cutter Grey Max a little over two years ago in the Seattle area," report Bill and Mary Jane Makepeace of Boulder, Colorado, "and decided that the obvious thing to do was to start cruising in the Pacific Northwest. So we spent most of the last two years in British Columbia, having a great time and savoring every moment before we inevitably had to head south. Last fall, we sailed Max down the coast - with the help of good friends Dick Timmons and Russ Campion - to San Francisco Bay, and decided to stay awhile. So our boat is now restlessly moored in Vallejo. Come July, Mary Jane, Sneeky Squeeky, and I will resume our southward progress, hopefully taking a little more of a leisurely pace, and catching up with friends who have passed us on the way. We also want to catch up with friends who have already continued on to Mexico, so there's a good chance we'll be taking part in the Ha-Ha in late October."

"Here's a photo of me doing laundry the old-fashioned way at Tenacatita Bay - my favorite place in Mexico - with a baby bathtub, plunger, trickling faucet of 'fresh' water, and lines strung between coconut trees," reports Marilyn Middleton of the White Rock, Canada-based Cartwright 44 Kinship. "Glen and I could have sent the laundry out via the Paris Tropical restaurant, but where's the adventure in that? Besides, our doing it meant it was free - if you don't count the four hours of hauling, scrubbing, rinsing, hanging, folding and packing it all back in the dinghy. But, there is a certain pride in doing it yourself, and besides, it's warm and the cold cervezas at the restaurant are only seven pesos. Right now I'm sitting back home waiting for Jaryd and I to rendevous with Glen, who sailed Kinship to Hawaii. After cruising the Islands, the boat will return to the Pacific Northwest."
It's not been the best of times for Blair and Joan Grinols of the Vallejo-based 45-foot Capricorn Cat. After a nice sail across the Pacific, they initially didn't particularly care for Palmyra, which is now run by the Nature Conservancy. "Can't really say a lot of good about Palmyra. The water isn't clear, and it's all coral, so there are no good beaches to lay on. In addition, the entrance is hazardous and there really isn't much to do. The friends of the Nature Conservancy are the only ones who have a good time here, for you should see all the expensive toys they have for themselves."

Maybe Blair should have toned down his comments, for he seemed to be struck by a 'Palmyra Curse'. A day or so later, he started feeling very sick, and the next day one calf ached very badly where he'd gotten a small rash. When it got very swollen, a doctor said Blair might have to be flown out to Hawaii. It did get worse, so on May 21, Blair hopped on the Nature Conservancy plane to Honolulu for a visit to Kaiser Emergency. He was diagnosed with cellulitis, and was told it came from a scrape on his leg getting infected by saltwater. The doctor didn't want to let Blair leave, but he had to get back to Joan and the boat - which he did the next day. "The lesson of the day is this," says Blair: "No matter how small the scrape, clean it with fresh soap and water, hydrogen peroxide or Betadine, and bandage it with Bactroban Ointment - the only ointment they use out here. Then you've got to keep it dry or clean for a few days or else! I'm greatly indebited to the Natural Conservancy, and now that we've been here awhile, we've learned that Palmyra really is yachtie-friendly. Matt and Elizabeth, the caretakers, are wonderful - and great chefs, too."

But that wasn't the end of the Grinols' problems. Having decided to return to California via Hawaii - and then return to Mexico and the Banderas Bay Regatta again this season - the couple headed north on May 27. First they couldn't lay Hawaii, then it got so rough they became sick, and later the toggle that connects the starboard shroud to the chainplate broke! They had to return to Palmyra. Then there were multiple screwups in the ordering and shipping of the replacement parts. While waiting for the parts, Blair discovered an overheating problem in one engine he still hasn't been able to fix. They took off anyway, and hit more rough weather. Then the main halyard broke. It's a lot of bad luck for a couple in their late 60s, so they'll be glad to see the Ala Wai and later the Golden Gate.

"We've finally reached warm, clear water in Mexico, which can be found in all its glory at Acapulco," report Richard Booker and Grace Spencer of the British Columbia-based Mystery Cove 38 cat Crocodile Rock. "Also here is another Ha-Ha 2000 vet, Don Patterson of the Tacoma-based Maple Leaf 42 Balquidder, and Kahala, with many Aussie crew. The Club de Yates de Acapulco had a major race series over the Mexican Labor Day weekend, with 15 boats participating. Their 'A' division had a good collection of old IOR boats, while the 'B' division consisted of J/105s, J/120s, and a couple of other sport boats.

Conditions for the series are much like that of the Bay Area, just warmer and lighter. It's funny to hear all the deck chatter in Spanish. It was a very splashy event, sponsored by Breitling, with most owners coming down from Mexico City. From a cruiser's standpoint, the Acapulco YC was friendly, receptive and helpful - a great place to visit. Where else but in Mexico, would you have at least 50 staff constantly cleaning and waiting on you?"

Good news! Alaska Airlines has announced that it is adding non-stop flights between San Francisco and Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, and best of all, Z-town.

Recognizing that the shortage of slips in San Diego prior to the start of the Ha-Ha and the Mexico cruising season is a problem for both cruisers and his business, Chris Frost of Downwind Marine is attempting to become a clearinghouse for all open berths and anchoring areas in San Diego. Even if the spaces are just open for a day or two. Downwind can be reached at (619) 224-2733. But remember, when wanting a slip, there's no substitute for being on the scene. When Michael Fitzgerald, Latitude's official Roving Reporter in Southern California for the summer, tried to get a slip in San Diego for his Maple Leaf 48 Sabbatical, he scored a berth at a yacht club almost immediately because he was right there and ready to move in.

Latitude's stock of European sailing photos has become stale, requiring the Wanderer to close this month's Changes early in order to fly to Europe to take on the burden of shooting new ones. We hope you didn't notice the difference - and that you'll enjoy the new photos.

Top / Subscriptions / Classifieds / Home

©2001 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.