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July 2011

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  With reports this month from Esprit doing the Red Sea as deck cargo; from Eros on how Foxy Callwood met his wife on a transatlantic crossing; from Auspice on Mexico and the Marshall Islands; from Azure II on transiting the Corinth Canal; from Leap of Faith on four years in the Caribbean; from Cat 'n About on cruising on a 30-ft cat; and Cruise Notes.

Esprit — Peterson 46
The McWilliam Family
Male to Marmaris
(Boulder City, Nevada)

We just realized that we've visited a total of 12 countries, eight of them by our boat, the rest via planes, trains, and automobiles, in the last year. We've now also been on six of the world's seven continents. The only one we haven’t been to is Antarctica, and we won't be visiting it on Esprit.

The big change in our plans occurred in February, after Scott and Jean Adam of the Marina del Rey-based Davidson 50 Quest, and their Seattle crew Phyllis MaCay and Bob Riggle, were murdered by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea. So instead of taking our boat up the Red Sea on her bottom, we returned to India, then continued on to the Maldives where we put Esprit on a ship to Turkey.

While there were light winds in Male in the Maldives, we stripped our boat of as much windage as possible in preparation for her deck cargo passage up the windy Red Sea. It was expected that there would be at least 45 knots of apparent wind, green water over the bow of the ship, and sand storms.

One of our many frustrations involved trying to make travel arrangements without a specific load date for Esprit. Fortunately, Emirates Airlines was accommodating. Esprit was supposed to load onto the BBC Everest around the 15th of March, and the loading of all the vessels was to take only two days. Well, the ship was three weeks late and it took five days to load all the boats.

On the way back to our hotel after the loading, the driver almost missed a turn in the dark, but overcompensated and drove his speedboat onto a reef! Typical of the boat operators in the Maldives. Fortunately, some divers from the ship jumped into the water to help get us off.

But if it wasn't one thing, it was another — and the next were Immigration and our travel agent. We got charged $286 for a visa problem that friends in the same situation didn't have to pay anything for. Then our agent wanted to charge us $750 to make changes that we didn't have to make to our flights.

Needless to say, we were happy to arrive in Dubai for a 14-hour layover on our way to Egypt and Turkey. While in Dubai, we rode the world's fastest elevator to the 124th floor of the world's tallest building, visited the world's largest shopping mall, got stuck in the sand during a 4-wheel-drive trip, and stayed in a by-the-hour hotel in the airport.

We found that Cairo, a city of 18 million, has a climate similar to that of Las Vegas — but doesn't have nearly as much vegetation. And that much of the city looks as though it's just been bombed. But we were lucky to have Sharif, an energetic 23-year-old Egyptologist, as our guide. He knew his stuff and really enjoyed his job. It would take a long time to report on all we saw.

Unfortunately, the people of Egypt — like the people in many of the countries we visited in the past year — have not learned how to manage their trash. The result is that much of the populated areas are strewn with trash.

After arriving in Istanbul, Turkey, we learned that the ship carrying Esprit had arrived earlier than expected. So we didn't get to spend much time in that great city. In fact, we had to take a 12-hour overnight bus ride to Marmaris, where we picked up Esprit. Turkey is a beautiful country!

Our boat was the last to be unloaded in Marmaris, and it was done during a big lightning storm. SlapDash, the boat unloaded before ours, was hit by lightning right after she got her hook down, and lost all her instruments.

By the time we got our boat docked in Netsel Marina and got back to our hotel room, we were drenched! Netsel Marina is nestled in a bay completely surrounded by high green hills, except for a small passage into the Aegean. It's a very pretty setting. We decided to leave Esprit there instead of moving her to Finike Marina, 140 miles to the east. The city of Marmaris is a quaint European style city, but with lots of tourist and marine stores. There's even a West Marine!

We subsequently flew to London, then non-stop from London to Vegas. Since there was no food in our house in Boulder City, on our first morning back we went to breakfast at the local Coffee Cup Café, where we ordered either ham or sausage with eggs, hash browns and toast. What a treat after spending most of the previous year in countries without pork! We are now getting back into the groove of school and work, and will return to Esprit later for more adventures.

— katie 06/06/11

Bill and Grace Bodle
Tales of the Old Caribbean
(Point Richmond)

A few months ago, we ran a Changes about Bill and Grace Bodle of Pt. Richmond, sailing their 70-year-old, 103-ft McMeek-designed schooner around the Caribbean with just 21-year-old Patrick Delaney, as crew. Which is amazing, because Bill admits to being 77 and Grace happily says she's 70. In that Changes we promised that one day we'd let Bill tell you how they played a big part in Foxy — the notoriously fun and famous character behind Foxy's world famous bar and restaurant on Jost van Dyke in the British Virgins — meeting his wife Tessa. Well, that day has come. Here is how Bill tells the story, one that is so freewheelingly typical of the Caribbean back in the day.

"One day in the early '70s, Foxy started telling everyone he was going to sail to Europe with us aboard Nordlys, the 72-ft schooner we owned back then. At that point he hadn't even asked us if he could come along. It was fine with us, but we thought he was kidding, as we didn't think he'd close down his bar for the summer.

"We told him we'd come by late one night and give him a few minutes to either get on the schooner or not. So we pulled into the little bay by Foxy's about midnight, and hollered into the darkness, 'If you're coming Foxy, get your butt out here right now!' We waited and waited, and just before the time limit expired, we were shocked to see Foxy being rowed out to our schooner by Mr. George, the vegetable man.

"All Foxy had was a guitar, a short pair of pants, a sequined calypso shirt that some girl had made for him, and a sweater. His mother had boiled the sweater the night before to clean it, so it was about five sizes too small. Foxy doesn't have any shoes now, so he obviously didn't back then. And he was way too big for any foul weather gear we had aboard.

"The next land we saw was Pico in the Azores, and there was snow on the peaks. So you can imagine that Foxy had been freezing. In fact, when he was steering, he wrapped his feet in what had been his sweater to keep them warm.

"When we got to Gibraltar, which was a town with just one street of stores, there was a Moroccan shoe store with a huge pair of white shoes on display to attract attention. Foxy saw the huge shoes and shouted, 'Oh yeah, man, those are just what I need!' And he wore those crazy shoes the whole summer.

"Foxy was a huge hit in Yugoslavia and the smaller islands in Greece, because while the locals might have seen black men on television, most had never seen one in person. So they'd come up the gangway asking for him, and I'd call down to him down in the salon. 'Oh great!' Foxy would say, as he loved the attention. He'd grab his guitar and go down to the dock and entertain everyone. When mothers brought their kids to see him, Foxy would grab the kids' arms and pretend he was a wild animal who was going to bite them with his big white teeth. They'd all shriek. At night, Foxy would lead entire small towns in parades, singing the calypso songs he'd taught them. They would have thrown him in jail if they'd had any idea how nasty the lyrics were.

"At the end of every summer, we'd stop at Terragona, Spain, for a month-long haulout. While there, Foxy asked if it was all right if he went to Munich. I don't think he even knew where Munich was, but he said he knew a woman up there. He did — and it turned out to be one of our charter guests. When he hadn't returned from Munich in a month, I had no choice but to fly to there to try to find him. There was, of course, no email or cell phones back then.

"When I got out of the plane, I told the taxi driver to take me to the Munich nightclub district. The driver thought I was looking for a hooker, because it was the middle of the day. 'Oh,' he said, 'you want to go to the Drugstore,' which was a nightclub. It was the very first place I stopped in the city of two million, and I asked the bartender if he'd seen a big West Indian guy. 'Oh, that would be Foxy,' the bartender replied. 'He was here this morning, but you missed him, as he just took a train to the mountain resort of Garmich.'

"While in Munich, I met a friend from San Francisco, and we decided to take a side trip to London, where I could get some parts for the schooner's Caterpillar diesel. While in London, we went to a restaurant not far from Chelsea called the Tiddy Dolls. While there, we were tended to by the wine stewardess, who happened to be a very cute young blonde decked out in hot pants, boots and what have you. 'My name is Tess, boys,' she said. 'I'm wearing a sommelier's cup around my neck, but I don't know anything about wine. But if you tell me what you want, I'll bring it.'

"She ended up sitting with us and bullshitting, so we asked her when she got off work. 'When do you want me to get off?' she replied. 'Right now,' we said, 'and we can go to the 007 Club at the Hilton Hotel.' 'Blimey,' she said, 'I'd like to do that. Let's go right now.'

"While at the 007 Club, I apparently told her that she was welcome to sail across the Atlantic with us; all she had to do was meet us in Gibraltar in two weeks. I'd forgotten all about the invitation, of course, by the next morning.

"Well, Tessa hadn't forgotten about it, so when we showed up, with Foxy, in Gibraltar a little bit more than two weeks later, Tessa was there. When Foxy saw this beautiful blonde, his eyes almost bugged out of his head."

At this point Grace picks up the story.

"I'd flown home to Berkeley, where one day I opened the mail box to find a letter written in a very feminine hand addressed to 'Captain Bill'. 'What's been going on while on the schooner while I've been gone?' I wondered. So I steamed the letter open and read the letter. It went like, 'Dear Bill, where the heck are you. I've been waiting in this pisshole of Gibraltar for a week, and you haven't arrived yet. You said I could sail across the Atlantic with you. Where are you?"

"So when Bill called to say they were leaving from Gibraltar that night, and that I could expect him in St. Thomas in about three weeks, I said that was great. Very casually, I also asked who was on the boat. Bill mentioned Foxy, Ian and all the other guys. He made no mention of any girls."

"It was on a 'need to know' basis," laughs Bill.

"What he didn't tell me is that there were three women with them. Ronda, Ian's girlfriend, a gal named Jo, and Tessa. I didn't say a thing about suspecting there were women aboard, but I made sure I flew to St. Thomas before Nordlys arrived.

"In fact, the night I arrived, I was having dinner with Manfred, the well-known sailmaker, at the Hotel 1829, which has a great terrace overlooking the harbor. At about 7:30 p.m., I saw Nordlys sail in. 'Excuse me,' I told Manfred, 'I have to get down to the dock to see who gets off the schooner before they all escape.'

"Well, I got down to the dock before they tied up, and there was no Foxy — and Tessa wasn't there either."

"It was one of our best crossings ever," Bill jumps back in, "and people had gotten very friendly. In fact, Foxy and Tessa had fallen in love."

So why weren't Foxy and Tessa on the schooner when she arrived in St. Thomas? "While we were sailing across the Atlantic," Bill remembers, "Foxy made some kind of deal with me, one that required we stop at St. Barth first, so he could buy the dirt cheap booze for his bar in the British Virgins. I was up for the deal, but I said, 'Foxy, what about Albert, the Customs guy on Jost?' Foxy replied, 'We'll just land the booze on the beach. And,' he laughed, 'if Albert says anything, I'll kill him.'

"So we stopped at the free port of St. Barth, where Foxy bought endless cases of booze at ridiculously low prices. Then we sailed to the British Virgins, where we dropped all the booze, along with Foxy and Tessa, on the beach at the British Virgins. Finally, we sailed into Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas."

It's been more than 40 years, and Foxy and Tessa are still together. But that's how things rolled back then.

— latitude/rs

Auspice— Schumacher 40
Jim Coggan
Mexico and the South Pacific

In late October of '07 — actually, the same day the Baja Ha-Ha fleet departed San Diego — my wife Kim and sons Chris and Brian left San Francisco for Mexico. We sailed non-stop to Isla Guadalupe, which is a barren, uninhabited, Catalina-sized island 250 miles south of San Diego and 200 miles off the coast of Baja. We then rounded the corner at Cabo and sailed up into the Sea for Thanksgiving. Brian, Kim and I flew back to San Francisco, leaving Chris onboard in Puerto Escondido.
Kim and I then did a season of a month on, a month off, 'commuter cruising' in Mexico. We had a wonderful time. But the problem became meeting the flight schedule back to San Francisco, and having to work our butts off just to meet payroll expenses. So in July of '08, I sailed over to San Carlos and left Auspice in Marina Seca, and returned to the mill. Don't get me wrong, I liked my work, and I'd known many of my patients for decades. But in February '09, I was fortunate to find an outstanding periodontist who wanted to take over my practice.

A month later, I loaded up our '82 Volvo with two solar panels, a DuoGen, chain, and all kinds of other stuff, and drove to San Carlos with Brian and Gordie Nash, dragging our Volvo's ass the whole way. Fortunately, Mexican Customs didn't blink an eye as we breezed across the border. Brian and Gordie drove back to San Francisco a week later, while Auspice went back into the water with a freshly painted bottom. Alas, she ran aground at the fuel dock that evening.

We, meaning Auspice and I, were on our way to the South Pacific, a lifelong dream of mine. Kim, a good sailor in her own right, but not a sailor at heart, finally decided that she'd better not let her old man sail over the horizon by himself. She didn't think that I could make it!

So she flew to Loreto with duffels fully packed, and arrived just as I was passing by. We wound up staying for Loreto Fest, stopped in La Paz for provisions, cleaned the bottom at Cabo, and off we went. It blew a gale off Cabo Falso, so we damaged the Edson binnacle during an accidental jibe at the very beginning of our crossing. It wasn't the most auspicious way to start a long voyage, but we arrived at Fatu Hiva less than 18 days later.

Kim might not look back on that passage as a high point in her life, but I'll tell you she's a real trooper and one courageous woman. I think I would have made it solo, but it would have been a much harder trip. But it was sharing that crossing with Kim, and all the special moments we had, that meant the most to me.

Auspice is an incredible boat. She's first and foremost a racing boat, but it turns out she's also an excellent cruiser for a couple. Every day I think about designer Carl Schumacher with admiration and respect, and I continue to feel privileged to have one of his boats. We've owned Auspice for 10 years now, and I want to thank Warwick 'Commodore' Tompkins for pointing us in her direction.

So far, we've done the usual Coconut Milk Run, with Kim doing all the passages. We spent the cyclone season in New Zealand in order to disassemble the rig, inspect the hardware, and re-head all the rod rigging. We didn't find any defects in the rigging, but we now have even greater confidence in the rig.

This season we sailed north of the equator to explore the Marshall Islands, where we met wonderful, happy people living in very humble circumstances. The diving and snorkeling was the best, with 100-ft visibility the norm, and it sometimes being twice as much. The fishing was adequate as a source of food, but we sensed fishery depletion everywhere we went.

The islanders fish for subsistence and are not the problem. Indeed, it's sad to see them using nets along the beach to catch minnows, careful not to let a single one get away. No, the problems are the purse seiners and long liners, mostly from Asian countries. They pay big bucks to the governments of small island nations to plunder their waters, and pay little heed to international law. Foreign aid is evident throughout the island nations, and it mostly comes — surprise — from those countries that want access to the fisheries: Japan, Taiwan, Korea, China and the U.S. But virtually none of the aid trickles down to the common people, who have poor diets and terrible health problems as a result. So much could be accomplished with a strong preventive health program — especially if it could reach the kids in school.

As big as the problems are, these are wonderful people who have taught me so much. They frequently told me that the quality of life is more important than the longevity of life.

Majuro recently got some negative sailing press because of a series of thefts from yachts. These small island communities are virtually crime-free because everyone knows everyone else, and there are no secrets. What I observed was more along the lines of teenage pranks and petty thievery. And there were alcohol-related incidents, too. Nonetheless, Kim and I have felt safer out in the Pacific, even more so than in Mexico, which we loved and will return to, to say nothing of San Francisco or Los Angeles. There are no guns in the Pacific Islands.

I am currently solo atoll hopping back to Fiji, where I will hopefully reconnect with Kim in early July. We're thinking about then heading to Vanuatu, and then the Solomons for the '12 Pacific Arts Festival.

— jim 05/05/11

Azure II — Leopard 47
The Pimentel Family

We — Rodney, Jane, and sons RJ and Leo — have just motored through the 3.9-mile Corinth Canal, which connects the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf and which saved us from having to travel 450 miles around the Peloponnesus peninsula to get to Athens. The canal was started by Emperor Nero in 67 AD, but wasn't finished until the late 1800s by a French engineering company. Unusually, there is a hydraulically operated roadbed at each end of the canal that, instead of lifting up, sinks down into the water to let traffic pass over the waters of the canal. Cars sometimes have to wait up to an hour to get across. But when the bridge lifts up, children can often run out and catch fish that got trapped on the bridge.

We had a five-hour passage before getting to the entrance to the canal, at which point we radioed the canal office for clearance and waited for a few other boats to finish coming the other way. As we waited, a small group — five sailboats, two barges, a small motorboat and a super yacht — gathered around the entrance. There was a long delay while a straggler on the other side of the canal finally made it through, and another delay as everyone got ready to start. The total waiting time was about two hours.

Then, one by one, we started motoring through the Canal, which has very steep walls that are as much as 150 feet high. Yet the canal is only 80 feet wide. Leo entertained himself swinging across the bow with a line hanging from the mast, then started playing 'fender walking', and then got into a fender fight with RJ. Jane recommends that mothers not permit this kind of activity.

After tying to the exit dock at the other end of the canal, we paid our fee of $340 U.S. — which comes out to almost $100/mile.

After transiting the canal, we headed for the islands near Athens. We wanted to visit Athens, but decided it was preferable to berth at an island and take a ferry to the city rather than try to find a berth in the city. We first went to the island of Aigina, a popular weekend tourist spot for Athenians. It was a treat to provision at the large supermarket, as we actually found things like maple syrup, which we hadn't seen since arriving in the Med. Based on the cost, it's like liquid gold and therefore strictly rationed.

The ferry to Athens took 45 minutes, and we somehow packed in a few days of errands and sightseeing into one long day. The new Acropolis Museum was amazing, with glass underfoot that enables you to see the excavations below. From the museum, you can look through the huge windows at the ruins, and see what's left on the Acropolis after more than 2,500 years.

Our six weeks in Greece has agreed with us, and we're glad we have more time here. The people have been exceptionally friendly, and the well-publicized ailing economy hasn't jumped out at us. Things actually seemed much more depressed in Italy. We're definitely not going hungry either, as munching on gyros and baklava is too easy. Healthier fresh fish and Greek salads are plentiful, too. The Greek wines, however, are as tasteless as everyone warned they would be. So we are savoring our stash of Italian wines.

The weather and water are starting to warm up, and we've finally had a few days of swimming. The boat is behaving — and sometimes the kids are, too.

— rodney and jane 06/05/11

Readers — The Charlie Chaplin-style video the Pimentels made of their Corinth Canal transit is hilarious. Check it out by Googling 'Azure II + Pimentel'.

Leap of Faith— Antares 44 Cat
Bob & Lynne Walsh
Four Years Cruising the Carib

No one said cruising was going to be easy, but then nobody told us it was going to be quite so much fun!

My husband Bob and I, and our Aussie mix dog Mollie, have been cruising our 44-ft cat in the Eastern Caribbean for the past four years. Before heading to the tropics in the fall of '07, we agreed that safety at sea was essential. Knowing that it would normally be just Bob and I, and our dog, we both got certified for CPR.

Recently Bob had cause to use his training — on a goat! While making a routine beach landing, Mollie inadvertently herded a wild goat straight into the ocean. We called Mollie back to allow the goat to swim back to shore, but the freaked goat just continued out to sea. So Bob fired up the dinghy, chased the goat down, and herded it back toward the beach. All was going well, until just two feet from shore, when the goat slipped beneath the surface.

Bob jumped from the dinghy and hauled the goat onto the rocky shore. It wasn't breathing so Bob commenced CPR — no, not mouth-to-mouth! — but by pumping his chest and slapping his face. The goat coughed up salt water almost immediately, but then passed out again. Bob continued his CPR efforts until finally the goat let out a little “baaayyyy”, and we both felt tremendous relief. We continued to soothe and stroke the goat until he finally was able to regain his wobbly legs and teeter off into the bushes.

Our having retired from building custom homes, before Bob and I set out, finding the right boat for us was a labor of love. But when we stepped onto the Antares 44 at the Miami Boat Show, we instantly knew that we’d found what we had been looking for. The layout was the first thing that connected for me. The cockpit can be wide open or fully enclosed, and the spacious helm station makes it comfortable for long passages. Additionally, the 'galley down' in the port hull allows for an unusually large and well-appointed galley. The fit and finish were especially crucial for us, and the level of detail in the Antares made us feel as though we were still living in a custom home.

After taking delivery, we slowly worked our way through the Bahamas, enjoying those magnificent and unspoiled islands. We made it to Georgetown, also known as 'Chicken Harbor', because it's the last stop before the real passage-making begins, and therefore where a lot of cruisers who had intended to sail to the Caribbean chicken out. But we pressed on to the Virgin Islands, where we found the extra effort to get there was well worth it.

Thanks to the islands that protect the Sir Francis Drake Channel from the open ocean swells, there is great and easy flatwater sailing in the easterly trades. This last year we were able to spend enough time in the Virgins to discover out-of-the way anchorages that seemed as though they'd been forgotten by time. We’d share these locations with you, but then they’d lose their undiscovered charm!

In addition to the fine sailing in the Virgins, there is also great snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and hiking on the many trails ashore.

Both the U.S. and British Virgins offer the easy lifestyle. In the BVIs, for instance, you can easily sail into Road Harbor, Tortola, walk from the anchorage to a selection of markets, provision your boat, and be back on the boat within an hour. Set sail, and another hour later you can be dangling on the hook in a quiet anchorage, appreciating another beautiful sunset with a cool drink.

The many different Caribbean islands offer such a variety of experiences, and each has its own allure, so it's hard to decide where to go. But we must admit that the French islands are among our favorites, thanks to their patisseries, delectable assortment of imported cheeses, and shopping for clothes. And the locals have proven to be quite gracious, by maintaining a friendly and helpful demeanor — despite our inadvertently butchering their beautiful language!

And yes, the language did cause us a few problems. For example, during our first visit to Ile des Saints, we needed some fuel for the dinghy, but when we got to the pumps, we had to choose between 'gazole' and 'essence'. After several moments of head scratching, we chose gazole because it sounded the most like gasoline. Alas, gazole is diesel. We can assure everyone that Honda gasoline outboards do not like to be run on diesel. Ours got us to the middle of the anchorage before it let out a big belch of black smoke and quit.

Living aboard a boat for extended periods of time is unlike anything we expected or experienced, and has its minor hardships, but there are many rewards in being able to explore the many beautiful islands, and each day has offered us the opportunity to understand their rich histories and meet the friendly locals. And we never tire of swimming in the warm, clear, turquoise waters. But best of all, we’ve developed friendships with fellow cruisers that we expect will last a lifetime. We think you can expect these gifts, too, if you only have the courage to take your own Leap Of Faith.

­— lynne 04/15/11

Cat 'n About — Gemini 3000
Rob and Linda Jones
Glad We Went with What We Had
(Whidbey Island, WA)

In the June issue of Latitude, there was a Changes about our cruising to 10 countries in seven years aboard our Gemini 3000. The publisher subsequently asked us for our views about ocean cruising on a relatively small cat. First, we'll explain why we did it, and second, how it worked out.

We purchased our Gemini 17 years ago, with the intention of buying a bigger cat when we were ready to go cruising. However, we decided to leave a little earlier. Once our daughter graduated from high school and moved out, our friends told us, "Oh, she'll be back." Not wanting to be tied down, we quit our jobs, sold the house, got rid of everything else, and took off cruising.

Sure, we could have stayed and worked for another seven years — but we would have missed out on all the fun. We have not regretted our decision to go earlier on a smaller cat. Of course there have been times when we wished we had a bigger boat, usually when the weather has been bad. But with careful passage planning, it's been possible to avoid bad weather most of the time. It's also important to remember there are downsides to owning bigger boats: they are more expensive, they require more maintenance, and the systems are more complicated.

Ours is one of the few long distance cruising boats that is powered by an outboard — a Honda 25. Our Gemini only carries 20 gallons of fuel in the built-in tanks, so we carry 50 more gallons in jerry jugs. Our 800-mile passage from Costa Rica to the Galapagos was in very light air, so we needed every drop of that fuel. And while twin diesels with lots of tankage might have been ideal — and much more expensive — we've nonetheless managed with just a single outboard.

Without a diesel(s) and alternators to create lots of a power, we have three solar panels on an arch that keep the batteries topped off. We have a 1000-watt inverter for 110-volt power. For the rare occasions when we need more 110-volt power, we have a portable Honda 2000 gas generator.

Cats are weight sensitive, so we only carry 50 gallons of water. We then make what we need with our PUR 80 watermaker. Although we're careful about weight, we do indulge ourselves in some instances. For example, we're from Seattle and enjoy a good espresso, so we have an espresso machine aboard.

We sleep on a queen-sized bed in the forward stateroom, converted one aft cabin to a storage area, and keep one of the aft staterooms open for guests. We have one friend who has crewed with us a lot, and he reports he's been quite happy with his cabin.

No matter what size boat you have, it's important to have the right guests. For if you have the wrong people, even a very large boat suddenly can seem too small. Many Latitude readers have probably heard the adage, 'six for drinks, four for dinner, and two for sleeping over'. We think that's perfect, no matter what size cruising boat you might have. And the Gemini has a nice sized cockpit for entertaining

That said, 99% of the time it's been just the two of us aboard Cat 'n About, and it's worked well. We're also happy with the way she's handled rough weather. When we sailed south in '04, we had 45-knot winds with 12-ft seas off the Oregon coast. Our Gemini 3000 handled it well.

Sailing upwind against strong winds and big seas is, of course, a different matter. It's not our idea of fun, and our Gemini definitely doesn't like it. So if that's the type of sailing somebody wants to do, ours isn't the cat for them. But then most cats probably aren't. Having traveled more than 10,000 ocean miles with Cat 'n About, our opinion is that she's a great boat. We've been very happy with her.

We cruised full time for five of the first seven years, but for the last two years have been running a megayacht five months a year for a couple who like to cruise the Northwest in the summer. Our being from the Northwest, this is fun for us — although when there are just two of you running a 112-ft yacht, you wear many hats and are on 24/7.

For our first five years of cruising, our budget was $1,000 U.S. a month. And it wasn't a problem sticking to it. Having 'commuter cruised' the last two years, our expenses have gone up because of air fares, boat storage, and just being back in the expensive United States. So when we're done working for the season, we immediately fly back to our boat so we don't fall into bad habits of spending on stuff we don't really want or need. Last season we blinked, and we went way over our monthly budget by walking out of an Apple store with a new iPad and iPod Touch — which are two very cool toys.

The point is, you can have a very fulfilling life while spending much less money when you live outside the United States. In the future, we will split our time between work, sailing in Mexico, and spending time at our little house in Guatemala, where we'll also do volunteer work.

By the way, the Baja Ha-Ha remains one of our most fun memories in all the cruising we've done.

— rob and linda 05/15/11

Cruise Notes:

"What a fabulous spring we had in the Sea of Cortez," write Diana and Roger Frizzelle of the Alameda-based Catalina 470 Di's Dream. "After five Ha-Ha's, we didn't think it could get any better, but it did. Due to time constraints and other commitments, we couldn't go any farther north than Santa Rosalia, but Conception Bay and all the other anchorages on the way up were incredible. The water was fantastic, particularly after it reached our 80? threshold. And we love the fact that unlike on the mainland, there is no surf in the Sea, so we didn't have to make any wild beach landings. We're leaving Di's Dream down here for a few months, but will return in October to work south again after December's Banderas Bay Blast. P.S. We're so sorry about the passing of Rui Luis of Rooster Sails in Alameda. He was a good and gentle friend, and had a wonderful wit."

"I thought I was just going to sail to Mexico for the winter, but the people and culture of both Mexico and gringo cruisers has kept me here for six months," reports Ed Skeels of the Alameda-based O'Day 25 Dos Gatos. "But now that my tourist visa is about to expire, I'm going to set sail for Hawaii as soon as Hurricane Adrian passes by. I expect that it will take at least 26 days. Later I will sail back to San Francisco.
"My boat is small and was cheaply built in ’78," continues Skeels, "so I stripped her to bare plastic in '01, then re-glassed and reinforced her. I also replaced all her bits and her spar. With all the cruising gear, she's about 500 pounds overweight, and therefore a little boggy in light-air swells. My shortest 24-hour run has been 90 miles, but I've also have 24-hour runs of up to 140 miles. My boat was not designed for motoring, so either I sail or I stay home. I got some condescending attitudes about my boat's size from a few people before I left California, but nothing has broken and I've taken no water in the boat other than spray. That's better than some 'well-found boats' that I've seen along the way. And while my boat is admittedly cramped and doesn't have the ride of a larger boat, she's paid for and I know how to handle her. Furthermore, while in Mag Bay I met a Danish couple who sailed their 26-ft Bika all the way from Denmark, so I know what small boats can do."

Having recently adopted two cats to go along with the one he already had, Skeels admits that he's entered "crazy cat person territory."

The Mexico / Eastern Pacific hurricane season began on June 1, and first up was Adrian, which like most early and late season Mexican hurricanes started developing well offshore near the Guatemalan border. With 120-knot winds, Adrian reached Category 4 (on a hurricane scale of 1 to 5) status on her northwest offshore track before simmering down to 20 knots hundreds of miles west of Puerto Vallarta. The rhumbline course from Cabo to Hawaii is WSW, which means there is a pretty decent chance that hurricanes, tropical storms or their remnants will cross that rhumbline. While it's true that none did in '10, 11 of them did in '09, including three hurricanes. So we hope Skeels and others sailing from Mexico to Hawaii after June 1 are careful or lucky.

Wayne Hendryx apparently can't get enough of sailing his and Carol Baggerly's Brisbane-based Hughes 45 cat Capricorn Cat. So after three seasons of back-and-forth between Mexico and California, Hendryx took off in early June from La Paz for Hawaii, while Carol gets in a session with the grandkids back home. "I'm only going to be in Hawaii for about a month or two," laughs Wayne, "and will then sail back to California to get ready for the Baja Ha-Ha."

It's not Hendryx's first trip to Hawaii. About 40 years ago he and a couple of friends sailed a 25-ft Pearson Ariel from San Francisco to Hawaii and back.

If sailing 4,500 miles seems like a long way to go for just six weeks in the Islands, that's nothing compared to what Ha-Ha and Delta Doo-Dah vet Doug Thorne of the Alameda-based Celestial 48 Tamara Lee Ann is doing right now. He and a crew were to leave Alameda in mid-June for a passage to Hawaii. Thorne will then fly home for a couple of weeks of work, then after only a week or so of sailing in the Islands, will sail back to California with another crew. "I just like to be out at sea," he told us.

Several times over the last few months we've reported that Fiji and Tonga are waging a battle over who controls Minerva Reef, which is a mostly submerged tiny bit of reef that provides the only protection for cruisers between Tonga/Fiji and New Zealand. Vessels from the Fijian Navy have gone so far as to force cruisers to leave the shelter, and now Cirrus, of Takaka, New Zealand, is reporting that the Fijian Navy has destroyed navigation beacons in the area. It would seem like a reasonable idea to give Minerva a wide berth until the situation there improves.

Nancy Potter Tompkins reports that husband 'Commodore' has been cruising Micronesia for the last bunch of months aboard their Mill Valley-based Wylie 38+ Flashgirl, and that she was just about to fly to meet him in Pohnpei, one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia. With 300 inches of rain, Pohnpei is one of the wettest places on the planet.

"We'll be sailing back to New Zealand by November," says Nancy, "but I want everyone to be on notice that I'll be hosting an 80th birthday party for Commodore at the Presidio YC late next February. Yes, he's been sailing on the world's oceans for more than 79 years, starting out as a newborn baby kept in a drawer in the famous pilot schooner Wander Bird. Commodore survived a heart attack many years ago, but is so into Flashgirl that when he started experiencing persistent chest pains back in the States, he still couldn't decide where to go first: Svendsen's in Alameda for boat parts, or the Kaiser Hospital in Marin County. While he decided that a visit to Svendsen's deserved top priority, he was lucky enough to make it to Kaiser to get four stents put in. I'll have to say this for Kaiser, our co-pay for the four stents and everything else was only about $500. Armed with the stents, Commodore has subsequently been doing great singlehanding around Micronesia, and I can't wait to join him."

Talk about your good gigs, multiple Baja Ha-Ha vet and "slow delivery captain" Bill Hardesty called the other day to say that he was about to depart on a good sailing gig — a 'no rush' delivery of a Bavaria 44 from St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgins to Trinidad. It's about 350 miles as the crow flies, but easily 600 miles if one is going to make the delivery a pleasure cruise — as Hardesty plans to do. He was calling to ask which navigation app we thought was the best. We told him that our favorite to date has been Navionics on our iPhone and iPad — which we assume is also available on Droids such as his. Any other recommendations?

The only thing that could mess with Hardesty's trip would be an early season Caribbean tropical storm or hurricane. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, they expect 12 to 18 named storms, 6 to 10 hurricanes, and 3 to 6 major hurricanes in the upcoming season. You can tell how confident they are in their forecast by the gigantic margin of error they give themselves. The Climate Center cited "above-normal sea surface temperatures, a weakening La Niña, and the effect of the warm regime of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation" as the reasoning behind their forecast.

According to Colorado State University, between 1950 and 2000, there were an average of 9.6 storms per season, with a high being 28 and the low being 4. Let's just hope that this year's hurricane season will be as easy on boating interests in the Caribbean/Atlantic as they have been the last several years.

We love getting mail such as the following letter from Jonny Kaplan:

"In January of '06, you ran a story about a guy who bought a Kendall 32 in Long Beach, sailed her down to Punta Mita, where he'd done a lot of surfing, and was about — with his lady friend — to sail down to Ecuador for less crowded surfing. I had looked at that Kendall right before he bought her, but chose a Westsail 28 instead. But now, all these years later, I find that I'm still in love with that Kendall, and would like to contact the guy who bought her and see if he might be interested in selling. Do you have any info on him?"

Before doing any research, we wanted to find out more about Kaplan. He filled us in: "I live aboard my Vancouver 25 Opah in Marina del Rey, but I'm a musician and right now I'm on tour in Europe. But this is the year I'd like to find my dream boat, which would be a Kendall 32 or a Westsail 32."

We knew right away that Kaplan was referring to Robert Crozier and Marta Mijelman of Pacific Spirit, whom we covered in the January '06 Changes. Crozier had lived a wild and admittedly self-destructive life, but after a couple of lost decades had managed a miraculous recovery to the point where he and his lady friend were all about surfing, sailing and eating the most healthy foods available. The total natural life. A month later we received a note from them saying they had indeed left for Ecuador, but haven't heard from them since. If you're out there Robert, and you still own your Kendall, and you might want to sell her, contact Jonny at If anyone checks Jonny's website, they'll find that he's a lifelong musician who has played with many of the greats, but who has found the most success in Europe. We wish him the best of luck on his boat search.

In a historical note, the Kendall 32 was a mild success in the early '70s, but thanks to a brilliant marketing campaign, was eclipsed by the Westsail 32, which launched an entire sailing movement.

Yes, the Aussies are still coming to California to buy boats! Among the latest are 'Verdo' and Gabriela Verdon, who recently sold their house in the Noosa area of Queensland, Australia. Of all the boats in the world, the one that caught their eye was the Catalina 42 Ohana Kai, which had been circumnavigated by the Martin family of Seattle, and was thus already equipped with all the cruising gear the Verdons want. It's something of a coincidence that the couple bought the boat locally, as they are very close friends of Doña de Mallorca, and the trio enjoyed many wild days of their youth in Palma and on big boats in the Med. Verdo, who has run a series of large yachts for many years, keeps mumbling to himself, "I just can't believe that we're buying a production boat!" As for Gabriela, who had important positions for both the Oracle and Alinghi America's Cup teams in Valencia, she's just thrilled at the prospect of being able to move aboard her new home about 10 days after first setting eyes on the Catalina 42. Having pretty much had their fill of the more populated areas of the world, the couple are looking to cruise the still unspoiled areas of the South Pacific, such as the Solomon Islands.

There was a time — before GPS and other cruising conveniences — when a circumnavigation was a pretty unusual accomplishment. It's still something to be very proud of, but it's no longer that unusual. For example, Jim Elfers, Harbormaster at Puerto Los Cabos Marina in San Jose del Cabo, wrote to say that he recently enjoyed dinner with the crews of three boats that had just completed circumnavigations, and a fourth boat that had gone around had just passed through. "The three were Nikki Friend and Gar Duke of the Sausalito-based Pacific Seacraft 40 DreamKeeper; Uwe Dobers, Anne Crowley, and 8-year-old daughter Kara Dobers of the San Francisco-based Peterson 44 Magnum; and Cindy Holmes and Faith Tamarin of the San Francisco-based Carmen Miranda," wrote Elfers. "The previous circumnavigators who passed though a couple of weeks before were the Mather family aboard the Redondo Beach-based DownEast 45 Blue Sky, who completed a seven-year circumnavigation with their children Phoebe and Drake. I had them over to my place several times to swim with my kids, and we'd play the Electric Light Orchestra's Mr. Blue Sky on the car stereo as loud as it would go. Loved it!"

Elfers reports that Puerto Los Cabos has 180 operational slips, 30 of them at a discounted price — $40 for boats under 40 feet, $50/night for boats over 40 feet — because they don't have electricity. Elfers says these have proved so popular with cruising sailors that he often sells out. The author of The Baja Bash, Elfers still sells autographed copies to folks coming through. As for this year's Bashing, he says the last couple of months have been normal — which means pretty rough.

"After enjoying the '10 Baja Ha-Ha and cruising the mainland as far south as Barra, we accepted the invitation of sailing enthusiast Enrique Tovillo of Mexico City to be crew on his J/24 Copalago on Valle de Bravo Lake, 100 miles from Mexico City," report Lisa Goldman and Neil Coleman of the Marina del Rey-based Young Son 35 Gypsy. "We accepted the invitation and sailed against some of the best sailors in Mexico, and also got to meet the sailing instructor for Felipe Calderon, the President of Mexico. Who knew he was such a sailing enthusiast? After an amazing weekend of sailing and enjoying ourselves at Enrique's awesome lake home, we got to stay at his beautiful Zona Rosa apartment in Mexico City. We took advantage of the opportunity to explore the amazing city, where Lisa had lived and studied back in the '80s. While there, we got news that a tsunami was expected at the Barra de Navidad Marina where we'd left Gypsy. We watched the Mexican news on TV, and made daily calls to the marina, only to be told, "Your boat is fine." Thank goodness she was, and for the sailblogs, because fellow cruisers were the only ones providing accurate information. We returned to find that Gypsy was just as we had left her, except for a few marks on the fenders. As for our friend Enrique, look for him in this year's Baja Ha-Ha with his Catalina 37.

As if to prove how small the world of sailing is, Jane Pimentel of the Alameda-based Leopard 47 Azure II reports that while she and her family were at Sifnos, one of the least touristy of Greece's Cyclades islands, they "ran into Eugenie Russell, well-known skipper from Puerto Vallarta, the Ha-Ha, and a few years before that, Alameda. Eugenie was skippering a charterboat and sailing with Richard and Ursula, a couple of her students from the Bay Area. I've been in awe of Eugenie after reading about all her sailing exploits."

"This is our first season of cruising, and while we planned on going as far south as Z-town, we actually only made it as far as Bahia de Santiago," report Larry VanderWall and Melanie Montilla of the Alameda-based Hardin 45 Hemisphere Dancer. We were just having too much fun and seeing too many great things to get any farther south. Maybe next year. This year's highlight was our 1,500-mile road trip to see the lava-buried church by Volcan Paricutin, Colonial Patzcuaro, the ruins at Tzintzuntzan, the artistic city of Morelia, and the millions of monarch butterflies just above Zitacuaro. We ended up going through three different military checkpoints to get to these places. There were lots of guns, but there was professional courtesy all around. At the last checkpoint, they even had us fill out a survey to rate how they did! They are trying to be tough on the drug problem, but easy on the people. What a concept! The folks at Customs and Immigration in San Diego could pick up a few pointers from the Mexicans.

Given that it's summer, a lot of Latitude readers are probably wondering if Andrew Vik of San Francisco will be returning to his Islander 36 Geja in the Med to flirt with lovely young women for the fourth year in a row. "Yup," Andrew writes, "I'll be doing six weeks of sailing in the Adriatic from July 9 to August 20, which is the peak season. You can follow my route at I've got other crazy news, too. I've been chosen to be on a Norwegian reality dating show that will be shooting in San Francisco in the fall."

Giles Findlayson of the Encinitas-based Newport 41 Petrel, the courageous sailor who nearly lost both arms and his life when the dinghy he was riding in was run over by a Malaysian fishing boat in Langkawi in '09, reports that he's "come a long way" since the accident, has had some more physio Down Under, and just returned from a second trip to his boat in Langkawi. This good friend of Latitude would like everyone to know that his Island-to-Island Waterman Relay, from Santa Barbara Island to Two Harbors on Catalina for SUPs, paddleboards and OC1s, has been revived as a charity for the City of Hope. It will be held on October 8, the weekend after Buccaneer Days at Two Harbors. In addition to having gotten four years into a solo circumnavigation before the terrible accident, Findlayson had paddled from Catalina to the mainland more than 30 times.

Speaking of Two Harbors, the Santa Catalina Island Company has announced that their 700 moorings can now be reserved and paid for online. For a mooring Sunday through Thursday, you can make a reservation 90 days in advance. For moorings for Friday, Saturday and holidays, you have to wait until just after midnight on Thursday. For details on the program, see

— latitude

Missing the pictures? See the July 2011 eBook!


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