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July 2017

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With reports this month from El Gato on the cruising 'marriage saver'; from young Maia Selkirk on doing a circumnavigation as a young girl/lady; from Privateer on having a pregnancy while cruising; from Esprit (FotoFeature) on completing a 13-year circumnavigation; from Road Less Traveled on adventures in the Caribbean; and Cruise Notes.

El Gato — Catana 47
Eric Witte and Annie Gardner
Best Gear For Couple Cruising
(Pt. Loma, San Diego)

Looking for a ‘marriage-saver’ device for your cruising boat?

Eric and Annie, who bought their cat in France several years ago, and who have since cruised the Med, the Caribbean, the Northeast, and the Caribbean again, say there is one product that fits the bill. It’s the Eartec UL2S two-person headset communication system.

“If you don’t have two-way communication headsets, there is nothing you can do but yell — or use confusing hand signals — when docking or anchoring,” says Annie. "And it doesn’t matter if you’re calm or not when you yell, it’s still yelling. And nobody likes to be yelled at, even if you’re not yelling at them for doing something wrong."

“Thanks to the Eartec headsets,” she continues, “we can have a conversation rather than yell at each other while docking or anchoring.”

Plus the headsets make them look like the skipper and crew on America’s Cup catamarans.

“El Gato only has engine controls on the starboard helm station,” says Eric, “so the helmsperson always has to be on that side when anchoring. But we often have to flake the chain to keep it from piling up, and that person, usually Annie, has to be on the port side. So I couldn’t see her even if she tried to make hand signals. The headsets are the solution."

“The other cool thing is the headsets have a range of something like 300 yards,” says Annie, “so I can raise Eric to the top of the mast to do some work, tie him off, and go do something else. When he’s done, he can let me know through the headphones and not have to hope I'm within yelling range.”

“It’s a lot better than when we were in France and didn’t have the headphones yet,” Eric agrees. “For after raising me to the top of the mast one time, Annie went off to the store and forgot that I was still up there.”

“Sssssssh!” says Annie, laughing hysterically. “I’d gotten on my bicycle, went to visit some friends, and you know, kinda forgot Eric was up the mast.”

The Eartec headsets get excellent reviews on Amazon, where they retail for about $335. We’re getting them for Profligate. Systems with four headsets, which could be valuable on bigger boats or when racing, retail for $660.

A second non-essential piece of cruising gear Eric and Annie really like is their ice maker.

“It’s so great to have lots of ice,” says Annie. “For drinks, to put on boo-boo’s, to ice down fish, and to share with friends. We’ve made great friends for life because we’ve had ice to share. Most of all, we’re Americans, so we just really like ice.”

The French, like most Europeans, don’t care that much for ice. If you ask for extra ice in your vodka and soda, they give you two little cubes instead of just one little cube. If you beg them for more, they bring out a big silver bowl of it, with tongs, and give you that, ‘Happy now?’

El Gato has an Isotherm ice maker, which is usually able to work off the boat’s solar panels.

“Our first solar panels didn’t work,” says Annie, “then we got these Solbian brand ones from Italy that have worked really well. We got them in Florida, but they’re imported into the United States by Bruce Schwab.”

Bruce Schwab?! He was a longtime rigger in the San Francisco Bay Area who won the Singlehanded TransPac with the 60-year-old 30 Square Meter boat Rumbleseat, and then did two Vendée Globe around-the-world races with the Open 60 Ocean Planet, which featured an unstayed mast.

“Bruce is a very smart and focused guy,” says Eric, “and he’s doing really well with Bruce Schwab Energy Systems out of Bath, Maine.”

The last item we can remember talking to Eric about was daggerboards. We mentioned that both the daggerboards had broken on Greg Dorland and Debbie Macrorie’s much-traveled Catana 52 Escapade. And that when they later read the Catana manual, it said they weren’t supposed to be used when the boat was going more than eight knots.

“I come from an F18 catamaran background,” says Eric, “where there is no limit to the depth of the daggerboards you can have. Some were made really deep, but experience showed that there is actually only a narrow range in which they are efficient. And if you take off downwind at 20 knots with the daggerboards down all the way, they can easily break. In the early days of Hobie Wildcats, the race course was littered with broken daggerboards.

“Annie and I will sail with our daggerboards down up until about nine knots,” Eric continues, then we’ll raise them a bit. Raising them just a little makes them far less likely to break. I think the big problem is when people are sailing upwind at nine knots with the boards all the way down, then suddenly reach off at 14 knots, at which point the boards can't take the load and break.”

— latitude/rs 06/15/2017

Ceilydh — Woods 40 Cat
Maia Selkirk, 15
Growing Up Circumnavigating
(Vancouver, British Columbia)

Our family is one of many who have given up a more conventional lifestyle by buying a boat and sailing her around the world. Our circumnavigation took us to 31 countries in eight years.

I was seven when we departed from our hometown of Vancouver, B.C. I had my doubts about the plan, as I would be leaving my home, my school, my friends and the rest of my extended family to live on a wee catamaran that didn't even have a door. It seemed like a crazy idea.

Over the course of the first few months I came around to the idea. It happened in small increments after things like morning swims around the boat in warm water, watching lemony sunsets, discovering spicy grilled fish tacos, and making friends with other boat kids. I gradually decided that maybe this wasn’t going to be the worst thing in the world.

After a year spent in Mexico, where I learned to speak bad Spanish, dive to the bottom for clams, and eat spicy foods, we set off across the South Pacific.
We departed from La Cruz, which is near Puerto Vallarta. After all these years I can still remember watching my friends run along the breakwater, waving frantically as I sailed away.

Our crossing to the Marquesas took 19 days. We had to cross the equator, of course, and in so doing our whole family left our Pollywog status behind and became Shellbacks.

Each day in the South Pacific brought new things to love. A new reef to snorkel, a local recipe for breadfruit, a playful school of giant manta rays — things like that. Our days were timed to the tides, and the most difficult decision we faced each morning was what fruit we would eat for breakfast.

The South Pacific can feel like an enchanted place. There is crystal-clear water to swim in, velvety frangipani blossoms to weave into your hair, juicy star fruits that stain your fingers orange, and many more delights. But we couldn’t stay forever, and soon we were in Australia.

We spent three years in the city of Brisbane on the east coast of Australia, so I got to go to normal school and live a normal life for a while. It was something that I needed. As much as I was enjoying cruising, I often felt untethered and in need of the focus and direction that school provides.

I made friends, went to dances, and worked on school projects. In the process, it was interesting to see how I differed from my peers who had lived a more traditional life. I was perhaps a little more self-directed, but they were smart and savvy, and they knew more about social interactions than I could have hoped to.
My time in Australia was a real learning experience. Among the things I learned is that I’m an adaptable person and I can fit in just about anywhere. I also learned that growing up cruising does not necessarily give a kid an advantage. 'Land kids' and 'boat kids' have very different perspectives from leading very different lives. One is not better than the other. Both have benefits. Both have drawbacks.

Almost before I knew it, we were off again, this time for Southeast Asia. By now I was 13, and I was beginning to be ready to wrap up cruising for good. But then we met a group of kid boats heading across the Indian Ocean, so we decided to cross with them, a year ahead of schedule.

Our group sailed through Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Madagascar together, organizing movie nights on the deck of our boat, planning Halloween and other parties, going on hikes and snorkeling trips, and exploring each new place that we came to.

We were also cruising in places with complex political and social issues, so I got to learn about them firsthand. One of the things that I love most about cruising is the chance it gives you to explore and learn about countries, and to see how they compare to other places where you've been.

We ended the Indian Ocean leg of our journey in South Africa, at which point our little fleet broke up, with boats heading in all directions. We headed a little bit up the west coast of Africa, and then across the Atlantic.

One week out of Namibia, we arrived at the small but magical island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic. Our first view was of jagged black peaks standing out from hazy cloud banks. St. Helena is a lush, pastoral country island with pastel-colored farmhouses and fluffy sheep. Although St. Helena is only 47 square miles, we would spend six weeks there.

We finished crossing the South Atlantic with an 18-day passage to Surinam. We then hurried across the Caribbean Sea, stopping at Cartagena, Colombia. The humid days and familiar spicy street foods reminded me of Mexico.

We transited the Panama Canal during two rainy days, and raced past Central America until we arrived in Mexico. We're now in La Cruz, which is where we'd left from six years ago to cross the Pacific.

We're selling the cat, so we've been spending long days sanding and painting.
While here I've met a lot of kids who will be part of this year's Pacific Puddle Jump fleet. There is a part of me that wants to drop all our plans and set off cruising again. And a part of me that is very excited about returning to land life again.

Cruising has given me a different way to see the world, and I hope I’m able to retain it once I'm home. In seeing how large the world is, it’s become much smaller to me. And everything has become personal. Seeing news of a cyclone in Fiji makes me worry about a village we visited there. Hearing about political upheaval in the Maldives brings to mind sleepy towns and campaign posters plastered across hut walls.

Sailing and traveling have changed me, and given me a much different life than I may have had. I can’t say if it’s better. I can’t say if it’s given me an advantage over my peers. I can say that I loved it, for both the good and the bad, and I hope that everyone sailing right now is having as good an experience as I did.

— maia 05/15/2017

Privateer — Hans Christian 33
Lila Shaked and Chris Jahn
Our Trimesters at Sea, Part II
(Redlands and Tucson, Arizona)

[In Part I, Lila found out that she was pregnant, 'saw' the fetus on ultrasound in Tonga, then flew home to work in the States for a month while Chris stayed behind to complete a haulout.]

One day after I returned to Tonga to see, while snorkeling, Chris' marriage proposal written in anti-fouling paint on the bottom of Privateer, we attended a bonfire party on the beach. While dancing the night away, I ran into Dr. Julia, who told me the doctor who was to do the anatomy scan the following week no longer did them. Not the best news to get at a rave. Luckily, I had options.

Some new mothers in Vava’u told me they'd flown to Tongatapu to get scans there. I called the doctor, who referred me to a second doctor who did scans at the radiology department at Vaiola Hospital in Tongatapu.

When I got off the plane, a taxi driver asked which guesthouse I was going to. When I told him why I was headed to the hospital, he got excited and led me to his car. He told me that his four kids had all been born in the hospital. When I told him I'd call him when I was done, knowing it might, as in the States, take all day, he laughed and said he'd wait.

After 20 minutes I was back in the cab! I had been taken straight to the doctor, who knew who I was from my luggage. She immediately got started with the ultrasound machine, and went over each item one by one, and gave me the diagnosis; the baby was healthy.

The next big event in our pregnancy was our passage from Tonga to New Zealand. It's one of those passages where cruisers often spend more time talking about the best time to take off than they do on the actual passage. In all fairness, the trip from Vava’u, Tonga, to Opua, New Zealand is about 1,000 miles, so it can take a full-keel double ender such as our Privateer at least nine days. And in November, a gale typically blows from west to east between Tonga and New Zealand every 7-10 days. So we had to expect we'd get hit.

We typically don’t do deadlines when planning a passage, but as I was 6.5 months pregnant, we felt I needed to get to New Zealand sooner rather than later.

Though chances were low, women have gone into labor at seven months. We had the book Where There is No Doctor on board. The four-page section on how to deliver a baby was less than comprehensive. And Chris didn’t feel comfortable if he had to follow the "five easy steps".

We had an amazing rhumbline sail until the wind died 250 miles from New Zealand, at which point we decided to motor. After about 30 minutes the engine made a strange sound and died. We did all the troubleshooting we could before deciding it was a problem we couldn't solve at sea. So we waited for wind. And waited and waited. After five days we got a puff, the start of the wind that would take us all the way to the Quarantine Dock in Opua.

After getting settled into Opua, we were quickly able to find a pair of midwives in New Zealand who had dealt with foreigners in the past. I explained that sometimes I could be on the boat in Opua, or Paihia, or Russell, depending on the weather, and wouldn't know until the day before the appointment. The midwives were completely understanding, even when I had to cancel appointments because it was too rough to make the 30-minute row to shore.

Instead of meeting in the comfort of a house for my checkups, we met in the computer room of the Bay of Islands Cruising Club, outdoor cafes, or the grassy lawn near the library. I always brought my yoga mat along so I could lie out while the midwife took my vitals, measured my tummy, and felt the baby.

New Zealand is very into natural births. While I was hunting for a house to have a home birth in, both my midwives insisted that we could give birth on the Privateer! In fact, I think they were excited to add a boat to their list of places they have delivered.

As my pregnancy progressed, we learned that mine was a high-risk, and we would have to deliver at the hospital in Whangarei, about an hour away from Opua. We would still try for a natural birth, but would be in a hospital in case any complications arose.

We spent weeks 34-38 on a mooring in Opua near the boatyard. While Chris worked to keep up our cruising kitty, I stayed busy doing yoga, walking, and just passing time in the amazing Bay of Islands.

As I was tying up my dinghy on the wharf one day, a woman came up to me and asked which boat was mine. I thought I was in trouble for using the wrong dock for my dinghy. “No," she laughed, "I’ve been watching you dock here for over a week now and I just wonder how far you have to row!"

She went on to explain that she was a paramedic, and couldn't help but keep an eye on a pregnant woman rowing a dinghy. Along with being a paramedic, she was also the manager of the boatyard. She insisted we get a slip for the final weeks of my pregnancy. She was able to help us get all set up, even when Bay of Islands Marina claimed they had no slips available.

In all our time cruising we had never paid for a slip. But we figured this was a month that it would be worth it. While I had never been in labor, if it were to happen while Chris was at work, I would probably have found myself rowing to shore between contractions. So we figured we could afford the slip for one month.

I went into labor on the boat at 1 a.m. on February 21. After a quick car ride and 22 hours, our little boy Chance entered the world. Incredible!

Thanks to the extreme generosity of a Northern California couple who have circumnavigated, we were given the use of their New Zealand home for the first two month's of Chance's life. Then family came to visit and help us get started.
We — three of us now — are now moving back onto the boat and prepping for our next crossing — from New Zealand up to Tonga.

Having a baby in New Zealand was a wonderful experience. Several Maoris have walked right up to us and asked if they can hold our child. We love to let them, and pass our child off to as many strangers as possible. We know this will only be more and more common as we return to the islands around Fiji and Tonga.

One of the most interesting things that I found as a pregnant American in New Zealand was how easy it was to get the predicted cost of my medical care in advance. New Zealand has free health care to all of its citizens, so while hospitals, birthing centers, and midwives all charge fees, they have a set price list nationwide, and they bill the government. The price list is just one page long, and the items include: first trimester prenatal care, home labor and birth, hospital birth, C-section birth, and so forth. Each item has an exact cost that does not vary. As an American, I was shocked!

While we were deciding if we would have the baby in the United States or New Zealand, I spent days trying to speak with my insurance company in Hawaii to get any sort of idea of what a birth would actually cost me. But to no avail. If we'd wanted to travel to California to be closer to family for the birth, I would have been 'out of network' and thus not necessarily covered by my insurance company.

We did the math, including the price for hauling the boat out in New Zealand or Tonga, paying for six months in a yard and flights for us round-trip from New Zealand or Tonga to Hawaii or California. And a big X factor was not being able to get an actual estimate of how much a birth in the US would cost. Then we looked at our little one-page piece of paper from the New Zealand government, with the exact prices of a birth, and decided this was the way to go.

My final bill for the birth was one page long, and the total came to $5,000. Not bad for being a country with the second- best-ranked maternity care in the world.

While there were many things we enjoyed about our trimesters at sea — cheap costs, easy availability of doctors, etc. — there were definitely cons as well. When I did turn up in New Zealand, I handed my midwives my paperwork from Tonga showing my scan results and blood tests in Tonga. While it was clear I had no hepatitis, HIV, and such, the tests didn’t actually say what my blood type was, and my rubella results were sent in a separate email where the doctor just wrote, “Negative!”

My midwives made it clear that these results would not fly in New Zealand, and I needed to be re-tested.

The most important thing that we took away from this experience was seeing the cruising community come together, as they always do, and offer to help us in any way needed during our pregnancy and afterward. Boat neighbors assured us their VHF would always be on in case we needed to contact then while we were still on the mooring. Complete strangers who resided in Opua offered us cars in the event that we needed to go to the hospital before we had our rental car sorted out. And an amazing pair of cruisers we had never met offered us their home in New Zealand for the first few months of Chance’s life!

We look forward to this same community helping us raise our little boy and being a part of his life at sea.

— lila 05/15/2017

Road Less Traveled — Valiant 40
Thomas Shafer and Robbyn
Decisions, Decisions

I’m not sure where I’m going, but I know where I’ve been for the last few months — in the Caribbean. We — my boat-owning, delivery-skipper, mother- of-five-grown-daughters lady friend from Buffalo who teamed up with me last year while coming down the ICW, and I — started the season by leaving Falmouth Harbour, Antigua on February 11.

We thought we had the boat ready for sea, but had forgotten a few things. The Atlantic trade winds and swells reminded us we needed to prepare the boat for sea a little better, as we almost lost the dinghy fuel tank and the hatch boards over the side. In addition, a dozen eggs and some plates were sent flying through the galley like ninja throwing stars. I won’t even go into the fact that the contents of the med cabinet fell out because a box tripped open the latch. In other words, it was a typical first sail after a long layoff.

We headed south to St. Lucia, making the almost 200-mile run in just 31 hours. It could have taken us longer, as we were almost run down by an 80-foot steel fishing boat. It appeared to be blasting along under autopilot at 2 a.m. with nobody on the bridge.

From St. Lucia, we continued on to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It’s a very beautiful country with great beaches and super diving. I do remember the Wanderer, in the pages of Latitude, advising sailors that you always want to sail south, not north, from St. Lucia. We found out that he’s right.

We have all heard that cruising is ‘working on your boat in exotic places’, and that there are blue boat jobs for men, pink boat jobs for women, and green jobs. The latter are jobs you pay someone else to do.

There should be another category, one that categorizes 'workers' by size. For example, we needed somebody to go into the anchor locker to fix some bad connections on the port running light. I had the physical limitation of not being able to fit in the anchor locker. Robbyn, on the other hand, didn’t think twice about squeezing her upper body into the anchor-locker opening and getting the job done. She does many pink jobs, too, including baking delicious breads.

After reaching Martinique, our goal was Easter in the Virgin Islands. Our first stop on the way was the south end of the primitive jungle island of Dominica, where we overnighted. We would have liked to go ashore, but there was a lot of unrest following a big storm that had caused a lot of mudslides and damage to the infrastructure.

We had three days at our next stop, The Saints, which are just off of Guadeloupe and administratively part of that much larger island. Unfortunately, it was blowing 30 knots and raining like crazy, so we didn’t get to enjoy them either.

We had better stops at Monserrat, Nevis and St. Kitts, and spent three days at the latter.

Like a lot of cruisers, we stopped at St. Martin because you can provision and buy boat supplies for about the same price as in the States. The first night we enjoyed ourselves at the St. Martin YC, which is really a restaurant, but has a great view of the boats coming into and out of Simpson Bay Lagoon. We were surprised when we heard our boat’s name repeatedly being called over the VHF. It didn’t immediately sink in that they were calling us because we didn’t know anybody there. But I was informed that my Valiant 40 had been boarded and more chain let out because she was drifting toward the rocks.

When we got to the boat, we found that she had indeed dragged a long way. I was puzzled because I’d backed down hard after anchoring, and all seemed well. But the wind did come up, and when we raised the anchor we found it was wrapped in weeds. If I’d only asked the Wanderer, he could have told me that even though the water is shallow, the holding is very poor.

After a 70-mile downwind run across the Anegada Channel, we arrived in the British Virgins. A short time later, we had three generations of Shafers on Road Less Traveled, as I was joined by my daughter Danielle and granddaughter Mariella. We stopped at Foxy’s at Jost van Dyke, the Willy T on Norman Island, and many of the other famous spots. We had a great time.

Robbyn and I have been cruising the beautiful Virgin Islands ever since, but I’m now working on my next move. As soon as I figure it out, it will either be across the Atlantic to the Med or through the Panama Canal to the Pacific. I’ll let you know when I decide.

— thomas 05/25/2017

Cruise Notes:

A tragic accident or 'the perfect crime'? According to Lewis Bennett, at 1 a.m. on May 15, he was down below sleeping in a bunk on the 37-ft catamaran Surf Into Summer off Cay Sal in the Bahamas. He was suddenly awoken by the sound of the boat hitting something. When he came on deck, Isabella Hellman, his wife of just a few months, who was also the 41-year-old mother of the couple's eight-year-old daughter, was nowhere to be found. Bennett says he'd last seen Hellman at the helm at about 8 p.m., at which time she'd been wearing a PFD. He theorized that his wife had been knocked overboard by the impact.

Bennett set off the boat's EPIRB. When it became obvious the cat was taking on a lot of water, he got into the liferaft. He was picked up and taken to Marathon, Florida. The cat was later found awash, with one hull deep underwater. Nobody is saying it was murder, but the Coast Guard has asked the FBI to look into it.

One tangential thing catamaran enthusiasts can learn from the incident is that many modern catamarans can sink. In the early days of wooden cats and tri's, they often were unsinkable. That's no longer the case with many modern production catamarans, which are loaded down with lots of gear. We're not sure what kind of cat Surf Into Summer is/was, but we've known of Wildcats, Lagoons, Leopards, Voyages and other popular brands that have sunk. The Gunboat 55 Rainmaker didn't sink, but after many months at sea she was awash. Two Atlantic 55s that flipped didn't sink, but were found awash. The crews, fortunately, were able to survive on these cats until help arrived.

Many years ago in Zihua, we met a couple of guys from Portland who had each built their own 60-ft cats. Their cats weren't going to sink because the bilges were solid foam. We're pretty sure Profligate wouldn't sink either, because when the opportunity arose, the Wanderer created about a dozen individual airtight compartments in the bilges of each hull. Fire is now the Wanderer's greatest fear.

Cruiser plans change all the time. Here are just a few examples:
It was in early March in St. Barth that we crossed paths with Ro and Alana Robertson of the Hobart, Tasmania-based Fountaine Pajot Fidji 39 catamaran Jo-Jo. They are cruising on their 26-year-old cat with their adorable young offspring Noah, 7, and Tilly, 5.

The family had purchased the boat in Grado, Italy, and during the summer of 2016 had cruised Croatia, Italy, the Balearic Islands, Gibraltar and down to Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Alana and the kids were replaced for the Atlantic crossing by some of Ro's mates from back home. The guys did the crossing in 19 days as part of Jimmy Cornell's Odyssey Rally — and took first-place honors.

Once in the Caribbean, the mates were replaced by the family members, and the Robertsons cruised from Barbados down to Grenada and back up through the Windwards and Leewards. We met the family at Patisserie Choisy in St. Barth, at which time they told us they were going to do the Puddle Jump in 2018.
On March 6, things had changed a bit. "We went over to the Heineken Regatta in St. Martin," they wrote, "and Ro got a gig on the Volvo 70 Monster Project. It was a bit of fun for the weekend."

By March 17, the family of four announced they were thinking about advancing their cruising schedule by a year. This meant they would transit the Panama Canal in late May or early June, and cross to the South Pacific, which would enable them to spend two seasons there rather than just one. They asked if the Wanderer thought Puddle Jump was a good idea. We told them that the Puddle Jump, which is free, was a no-brainer. But we cautioned that there was a month wait getting through the Canal, and they might be getting to the South Pacific rather late in the season.

No matter, because two months later the Robertson family had literally headed in another direction:

"We ended up getting a teaching job in the Bahamas that starts in August, so we've already started heading north rather than west. We're currently in the Providenciales Islands of Turks and Caicos. The water is beautiful here, and we're continuing to love our family cruising adventure."

Also having made several big changes in their plans are Eric Witt and Annie Gardner of the San Diego-based Catana 47 El Gato, who are featured in the first of this month's Changes. They initially intended to spend the summer in the southern Caribbean so the warm-water-loving, Florida-born-and-raised Annie "could keep swimming with the turtles". But then they got a call from Steve Tull and DeAnne Trigg of the Perth, Australia- and Huntington Beach-based Lagoon 421 La Mischief, whom they had met racing together on other people's boats in the Caribbean. Steve and DeAnne invited the two to join them in Bermuda for the Louis Vuitton Trials. A life-long hard-core racer who has lived through a victorious America's Cup campaign — victory parade in New York, and visit to the White House because her then-husband Bruce Nelson had been an integral part of the team — Annie couldn't resist. So they put El Gato away and flew to Bermuda.

During the winter, Eric and Annie told us that they'd really loved their summer 2016 cruise of the East Coast as far north as Maine, but it was just too far away and the water too cold to do it again. Apparently they've forgotten how far it was, how cold the water was, and how many lobster traps there were, because they're already telling friends they'll be doing the East Coast again in the summer of 2018.

Then there is Bill Lilly of the Newport Beach-based Lagoon 47 Moontide, who all winter said he and his cat were going to be in Bermuda for the America's Cup. Nope. Instead of going north, he went south to the Windward Islands and was last seen swinging on a beach hammock at ritzy little Petit St. Vincent.

While visiting friends Jean-François and Diane aboard the Palm Beach-based Northshore 48 Seatern at the Arsenal Marina in Paris, the Wanderer and de Mallorca were introduced to a nice youngish couple from Huntington Beach. We're embarrassed to say we didn't record their names, but they told our group that they were in Europe making plans for a six-month camping trip with their five — ! — young children, to be followed by the purchase of a Lagoon 450 catamaran and the start of a family cruising life.

Since so many people are switching to cats for cruising, we thought we'd share a tip from Jack and Sheri Hayden of the Alaska-based Catana 44 Taiga, a tip that we weren't able to include in either Part I or Part II of their recent Changes in Latitudes.

38: Any lessons to pass on to new owners of cruising cats?

Jack: Two. Replacing our blown-out sails with new ones wasn't cheap, but it made our cat fly! No similar size cat has passed us since.

The other big cat lesson we learned was to never get caught with too much sail up. We were going to leave Bequia one day and it was blowing about 30 knots. I said 'no way'. But our Portuguese friends on their Catana Oceanus said, "You've got three reefs in your main, use them!" So we did.

Sheri: I can't believe what a difference it made. We hardly lost any speed, and we were much more comfortable and relaxed. Now we leave reefs in the main for long periods of time, and I don't shriek as much.

Jack: If the forecast is for 20 knots, we know it's going to be blowing 28 knots in the channels between the islands. So we put two reefs in the main, and roll part of the 130 jib up. Then even if a big black squall suddenly comes our way, we're all set.

In the last year or two the Wanderer has become a big believer in reefing Profligate, after almost never reefing her for 19 years. The boat is almost as fast — or faster — much more comfortable, and it's easier on the boat.

Another Californian kicking around the Windward Islands is Caren Edwards of Tiburon/Silicon Valley, who recently purchased a Leopard 46 in St. Martin and christened her Serenity. In something of an unusual twist, after cruising the South Pacific for about six years a decade or so ago with her husband Sam and then-young children Dana and Rachael, Caren was the only one who didn't want to come home. She eventually brought their Marquesas 56 Rhapsody back to California — getting dismasted a couple of hundred miles west of San Francisco in the process — but never lost her desire to keep cruising.

At last word, Edwards and her new-to-her cat were anchored off Saint-Pierre, the lovely French village on Martinique where all but two of the 28,000 residents were killed when Mt. Pelée blew its top in 1902.

Also on the cusp of buying a new-to-them cat are Glenn and Karin Kotara of Bend, Oregon. Before the two got married, Glenn had owned a catamaran in a charter program in the Bahamas, a cat that was destroyed by a hurricane. The floating apple of the couple's eye was a 2013 Knysna 50 in Spain. When they got there to inspect her, the boat wasn't quite as she had seemed in the photos, so the couple is considering lowering their offer or looking at other boats.
A couple of years ago Glenn and Karin had chartered a cabin in 'ti Profligate in St. Barth. Another cabin was taken by Basil and Caroline Horangic of Menlo Park. Much to our surprise, this couple did a two-year charter of an Outremer 49 on both sides of the Atlantic, then chartered another cat for a year or so in the Far East, always with their children Theodora, Helen, and Basil Jr. It must have been a fun charter on 'ti Profligate.

“We went as far north in the Sea of Cortez as a boat can sail,” report Scott Doran and Laurie Ritchie of the Sidney, B.C.-based Lagoon 400 Muskoka. “The current and the short wave period make for some rough sailing when going against the current, so watching the tides is essential. Our buddyboat turned around twice, once going north from Puerto Refugio to Willard Bay, and again heading south from Puerto Penasco to Isla San Jorge.

"It was strange, as sometimes we were five miles from shore and in just 17 feet of water," continues Scott, "and there is lots of shoaling along the shore. The Mexican Boating Guide, by Capt. Pat Rains, describes this area well, as the regular charts for the area were inaccurate. There were several islands that didn’t even appear on the charts.

"The Fonatur Marina at San Felipe was poorly positioned for the winds and waves, and it was nearly a three-mile walk on the beach to the lovely town with a short but pleasant malecon. From there it was a two-hour bus ride to Mexicali, where we rented a car to drive to San Diego to restock on marine supplies and essentials not available in Mexico.

"Then we had a 68-mile boat trip across to another Fonatur Marina at Puerto Penasco, which gringos called Rocky Point. It boasts a long sandy beach, and was the site of a Cinco de Mayo Hobie Cat regatta while we were there. Alas, there is a lot of garbage and unfinished developments. We probably wouldn't haul there because of the lack of supplies. Traveling south, we stayed at sandy Tepoca Bay and Bahia Sargento, which has lots of shallow water and a lagoon with coyotes.

"We had a pleasant cruise along the west side of Isla Tiburon, staying northeast of Punta Willard before circling to the east side at the well-known Bahia Los Perros, a bee haven. We've left our boat in San Carlos for the summer, and will be exploring mainland Mexico starting in the fall. In March, we'll take off on the Puddle Jump."

Two of the most adventurous senior cruisers we know are Eric and Pam Sellix of the Clatskanie, Oregon-based Seawind 1160 cat Pied-a-Mer. Pam didn't learn to sail until her late 60s, but the couple did the 2012 and 2014 Ha-Ha's, and have just kept going. They made it as far west as the east coast of Australia and are now in Tonga. Their boat is hauled waiting for new rudders to arrive from Vietnam. Apparently contact between the rudders and coral bent both shafts.

We're not sure if it's arrogance or what, but a lot of people seem to think that the United States is the only place in the world to get good health care. It's not. And some countries seem to specialize in certain things. Like Bulgaria, of all places, for dental care. And, of course, at a fraction of what such care would cost in the States.

Recently, Sheri Seybold of the Honolulu- and formerly Stockton-based Esprit 37 Reflections decided she needed to have cataract surgery on both eyes. Fortunately, they were in Penang, Malaysia, known for world-class medical care.

"I had one eye done one week, and the other done the next week," exulted Sheri. "Everything went well, and I'm soooooo happy! I can't recommend it highly enough."

Sheri and her husband Gene also had great things to say about the Strait Quay Marina in Penang.

As is proven over and over in the pages of Changes, adventure isn't just for the young. You'll remember that Charlie and Cathy Simon of the Spokane-/Nuevo Vallarta-based Taswell 56 Celebrate completed a 15-month doublehanded circumnavigation a few years ago. They are now on their way to attempt to do the Northwest Passage. This time, however, they'll have crew — Ralf Jäger and Edward Jaschek. One of the special items they installed was a masthead camera. Then, at the urging of the Wanderer, they've purchased a DJI Phantom drone. They are loving the unparalleled views the two devices have been giving them.

Most recently the four of them left Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, a charming town and home of the famous sailing vessel Blue Nose II. Their next stop will be Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Interested to hear all about their Northwest Passage adventure? Then you should do what they've done, and sign up for this fall's Baja Ha-Ha. We're certain that Charlie and Cathy would be delighted to tell you all about it.

Most of the folks we've mentioned so far in Cruise Notes are in for a lot of sun in the next few months. One couple who won't be are Bruce Balan and Alene Rice of the long-ago California-based Cross 46 trimaran Migration. The couple have been cruising the Pacific for many years, from Easter Island to the South Island of New Zealand, as far west as Thailand, and as far north as Japan. As much as they love the Land of the Rising Sun, they've decided that it's time for them to make the long and almost always overcast — and cold — trip across the North Pacific to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.

While in Hakodate, Japan, Bruce and Alene became good friends with Motoe and Yumiko Komatsu, who had doublehanded their Mirabelle 375 My Way from Japan to San Francisco in 2007.

"They told us they were so proud to have been featured in Latitude 38," says Bruce. "And they showed us photos of them with then-Latitude editor LaDonna Bubak."

"Friday morning at anchor at Bahia Ballandra, Carmen Island, in the Sea of Cortez, the doves are calling from the darkness, woodpeckers are pecking on cactus while a pair of oystercatchers and one lonely seagull are on the beach," report Les Sutton and Diane Grant of the once-Alameda-based Albin Nimbus 42 Gemini. "And the occasional stingray is jumping out of the water. There is beauty and wildness here that we haven't found anywhere else, and we are only eight miles from Loreto in Baja California Sur. Photos can only give you a hint of the beauty. The coordinates are 26 01.250N; 111 09.859W. If you put these numbers in Google Earth, you will see our location within a couple yards.

"Yesterday we saw two bighorn sheep walking on the beach," the couple continue. "The locals informed us that the sheep, an endangered species, are doing well here. There were 28 in the first two herds brought here, and now, we're not sure how much later, there are 400 of them. They are an amazingly sure-footed animal on the rocks here on this rugged island."

Following a nine-year circumnavigation with their Berkeley-based Outbound 46 Chesapeake, Jim Fair and Linda Powers are having their Yanmar diesel rebuilt in San Diego. As the engine only had 3,700 hours on it, well short of the expected life span, we asked Fair what the problem was.

“It’s been burning about a quart of oil every 24 hours,” advises Jim. “I’m not really sure of the cause, as it could be the seals on the turbocharger or the valve stems pitting on one of the cylinder walls. I think the decline took place over about a four-year period. The sequence of events was: 1) A small loss of coolant in the header tank, which I think was really air going into the header tank and forcing coolant to overflow into the overflow tank. 2) An incorrect diagnosis of the radiator cap being bad. 3) A leak in the heat exchanger. 4) A leak in the hot water tank. 5) Some oil consumption. 6) A catastrophic leak in the head gasket, at which time it was finally correctly diagnosed as a blown head gasket."

Expensive bummer! In more cases than not, sailboat diesels, which should be good for 10,000 to 15,000 hours, go bad from too little use rather than too much use. So get out there cruising!

A couple of months ago we reported that John Larsen of the Seattle-based Westsail 42 Danika was doing the Puddle Jump with a bit of an unusual crew: Kevin and Laura Davis of Santa Barbara, who used to be married, and who own the Bounty II Grace on which Latitude 38 was founded on over 40 years ago.
Laura reports the three had "a great 21-day crossing from Puerto Vallarta to Hiva Oa in the Marquesas."

Missing the pictures? See the July 2017 eBook!


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