Changes in Latitudes

August, 2001

With reports this month from Knot Yet on the Over The Top Rally in Oz; from Neosal on being rescued from destruction by fellow cruisers; from Nai'a on needing a new mast in Acapulco and ending up with a Swan in Ft. Lauderdale; from Ricka on a good passage from New Zealand to Fiji; from Aeolus XC on the success of the Barillias Relief Project; from circumnavigators on Southpaw on their new gaff-rigged schooner; from Konig II on sailing toward South America; from Acadia on eight years of cruising and new boat plans; from Ariadne II on Tobago; and Cruise Notes.

Knot Yet - Gulf 32 Pilothouse
John Keen
Over The Top In Oz
(San Francisco Bay)

Knot Yet and I arrived in Darwin, Australia, on July 6, almost two months after leaving Townsville. The trip was nearly 1,600 nautical miles, and was mostly done in daysails. The exceptions were crossing the Gulf of Carpenteria - which took 2.5 days - and two overnight passages during the Gove YC's 10th Over-The-Top Rally.

The 420-mile, 12-day, Over-The-Top Rally, which started on June 24 at Gove and ended in Darwin, was quite fun. It included many social events, lots of beach BBQs, visits to aboriginal settlements, and general socializing enroute. The final party in Darwin was the best, with awards for all participants and lots of camaraderie with the folks we'd been sailing in company with for three weeks.

Of the 32 boats entered in this always sold-out event, an amazing 15 of them were from the United States, while 11 were from Australia, three from the United Kingdom, two from New Zealand, and one each from Canada and Germany. Four of the U.S. boats were from the Bay Area: Annapurna, a Hans Christian 48 with Buddy and Ruth Ellison of Sausalito; Total Devotion, a Beneteau 50 with Tim Modders and Cindy Wilkes of San Francisco; Klondike, a First 456 with Don and Katie Radcliffe of Santa Cruz; and Knot Yet, my Gulf 32 Pilothouse sloop with Pete Badrokadokra of Fiji as crew.

During the week preceding departure, the Gove YC organized things such as a welcome BBQ, a tour of the world's largest bauxite mine, and a farewell champagne breakfast. The rally itself consisted of seven legs, five of which were daysails of 25 to 50 miles, and two overnight passages of 140 and 156 miles. The 140-miler was done under a brilliant full moon highlighted by an eclipse! Among the most exciting moments of the rally was going through the 'Hole in the Wall', which is a very narrow passage between two islands that has very strong tidal currents. During the final passage to Darwin, we were rewarded with tidal currents of nearly five knots.

During the course of the rally, we spent two nights at South Goulbourn Island, where entertainment took place at the local aborginial settlement. We also spent three nights at Port Essington, where the final enroute party was held. This was a 'P' party, for which everyone was required to dress up in a costume representing something starting with the letter 'P'. As a result, their were pirates, priests, pregnants, port and starboard, party animals, popcorns, and pussycats. There was also a bit of rain, but it only dampened costumes, not spirits.

Presentation Night was held at the Dinah Beach Sailing Club in Darwin, with awards of some kind for just about everybody. A group of folks from Iowa - of all places - won the saga award for using all the boat names in part of a tale about the event. I won the 'fuel gauge' award for running out of fuel - an incredibly stupid thing to do when you've got a 70-gallon tank.

I believe that the Over-The-Top is a very worthwhile event, something all the rest of the Bay Area skippers agreed with. If anyone is cruising this way in the future and wants to get 'over the top' in order to continue on to Indonesia and Singapore, this is the perfect event. See for details.

P.S. Thanks again for taking me along as crew on Profligate in the Banderas Bay Regatta.

- john keen

Neosal - Cascade 42
Alex Moyers
Nuevo Vallarta
(San Francisco)

Well, shit really does happen! When it happens to you, make sure you have lots of people around - such as the cruisers in Banderas Bay. Without their help, my 1965 Cascade 42 Neosal would still be on the beach in front of the Mayan Palace - and probably being sold as a time-share beach condo. I owe such a huge debt of gratitude to everyone who helped pull my boat off the surf that I don't know if it can ever be repaid.

Some of the incident was reported in last month's Latitude, but I'd like to tell the story from my perspective. It began on what had been a stellar day in a week of having sailed to different anchorages and having caught lots of fish in gorgeous Banderas Bay. In fact, the only reason Rachel Unger and I were returning to the marina was to refill our water tanks before taking off for more of the same the next day. We were actually headed straight into the channel at Nuevo Vallarta when we decided - big mistake - to make one last pass south of the channel to parallel the beach and drop the sails. When we tacked around with the jib up, we immediately noticed shoaling about a half mile ahead, so we headed out toward deeper water. What we didn't realize is that the shoal not only extends more than a mile out, but that it also curves to the south and east. We were in the bight of the shoal, so when I turned out to sea, I inadvertently headed toward the outer edge of the shoal. When we first hit, we hit hard. I instantly started the engine and attempted to head out. But we hit hard again and again. Neosal would not motor forward or reverse because we were on top of the shoal. Each swell picked us up and dropped us closer to shore.

I went forward and dropped the 45-pound CQR while Rachel closed all the ports and hatches. Then I returned to the cockpit to radio a Mayday on channel 16. Simultaneously, the radar dome came crashing down from the wooden mizzen mast. I got an immediate response from the U.S. Coast Guard, which has a boat stationed in Puerto Vallarta. Their assistance consisted of wanting to know if we had our lifejackets on.

As luck would have it, Leslie and her family on Wild Blue in Paradise Village Marina happened to be monitoring channel 16, and immediately started looking through the marina for a boat powerful enough to pull our boat off the beach. They were able to enlist the efforts of the captain and crew of the fishing boat 2 Knots. We also got a call from Mike Danielson of North Sails and Kevin MacDonald of MacDonald Yachts in San Diego - who just happened to be sailing by on Magic Carpet. Mike had us switch to Channel 19 as the rescue effort was being mounted from Paradise Village Marina. By this time, we and Neosal were on the beach.

In the process of being washed ashore, we had dragged the 45-pound CQR with us. Fortunately, Kevin MacDonald was no less than amazing! First, he dinghied through the huge surf and came aboard. He then took our big CQR over his shoulder and walked out through the surf - dragging the chain behind him - and passed it to Paradise Village Marina Harbormaster Dick Markie, who was maneuvering a 25-foot panga in the rough surf! Then they reset the anchor. Had it not been for the reset anchor keeping Neosal's bow to the breaking waves, she would have been lost.

Jim Ketler and Picante stood offshore, coordinating boats and radio traffic. Meanwhile, many lines were gathered and tied together. Then MacDonald swam the line a half mile or so out to 2 Knots. The motoryacht began to pull on Neosal while locals on the beach pulled on her halyards to heel her over. Unfortunately, because the shoal extends so far out and because there were so many knots in the 1,000-foot line, the line repeatedly broke. It wasn't easy, and as time passed Neosal was left ever higher on the beach.

At this point, the Mexican Navy arrived on the scene with the Cabo Corrientes, sent 2 Knots away, and took over. They attempted to attach a much stronger line - carried ashore by Mexican Marines. But with the tide having gone out, it wasn't long enough. The navy ship - with only 18 inches beneath her keel - couldn't come in any closer. Rescue efforts were halted for the night, with the navy promising to return at dawn.

With my boat on the beach and her future uncertain, you can imagine it was a pretty long night on the beach for me. Rachel and Bob Jones of Drumbeat kept me company, and the Mexican Navy boat patrolled just offshore. To be honest, I thought it was all over for Neosal. When dawn revealed my boat was even higher on the beach, the situation looked yet more hopeless. Nonetheless, we put a line around the keel and set an anchor off the beam to keep the boat from tossing from side to side when the tide came in. Come daylight we watched in disbelief as the Cabo Corrientes left the scene, not answering our calls over the radio.

But the other cruisers weren't about to give up, and shortly after daybreak the VHF was alive with cruisers coordinating a rescue attempt. Kyle of Desperado Marine sent 500 feet of new line, Dick Markie contributed another 1,000 feet, and others contributed another 300 feet - so we had nearly 2,000 feet of one-inch line attached to Neosal ready to pull her off when the tide came in. There was just one problem: we no longer had a boat to pull on the other end of the line. Fellow cruisers scoured the docks of all the marinas looking for a boat powerful enough to pull us off, but there were no takers. As high tide came and passed with no help, we were about to give up hope . . . when over the horizon came four Mexican parasail boats!

Like caballeros of the sea, these guys tied their four boats together with a bridle, and started pulling. This time the line held together, and Neosal began to inch off the beach. After 26 hours, my Cascade had dug herself a pretty deep hole in the sand, but with the throng of cruisers pulling the boat over with the main halyard, the parasail boats were able to start moving her back to sea. It was unbelievable but true! At this point, El Galleon, with brothers Richard and Terry O'Rourke - the latter heads up the Banderas Bay Regatta - stepped in and took over the line. They were a godsend. They pulled Neosal back into deep water, and then towed us all the way to the Opequimar Boatyard - where Kyle was waiting with a bucket full of icy-cold cervezas!

Considering the beating taken by my 37-year-old ketch, the damage wasn't as bad as it could have been. It helped that she'd gone up on sand and not some secluded reef. The boat's rudder was basically gone, the skeg was bent, and thanks to 30 local boys swinging on the halyard in the surf, we lost the mizzen mast completely. And there's lots of cosmetic damage. Thankfully no one was seriously injured, although there were bangs and bruises, rope-burned hands, and sunburned hides from waiting all day on the beach for a towboat. For me, the waiting was the worst.

It's now two weeks later, Neosal is back in the water with a beautiful new rudder, a new bottom job, a new mizzen salvaged from a sunken ketch - and a much-depleted cruising fund! We did have to spend five different days with the courteous port captains of both Jalisco and Nayarit, writing up numerous reports and explaining the incident - in Spanish. Thanks are due Lorenza Arias and Carlos Morales for generously donating their time to do the translating for me. This - after the beaching and salvage - was like your worst DMV nightmare.

I had no idea the shoal was there. I thought the river entrance and the marina entrance were the same. They are not. That shoal extends out over one mile - and in the summer rainy season it can reach out as much as two miles. Other skippers - even longtime locals who know the shoal is there - have been caught on it. It's just south of the Nuevo Vallarta entrance, it's unmarked, and it's dangerous. Be careful!

The list of people who have helped is almost endless. Nick and Carol Rau of Puerto Vallarta Yachts deserve a special thank you for their tireless efforts, along with Bob of Drumbeat, Jim and Jan Ketler of Picante, Dick Markie of Paradise Village Marina, and all the cruising community in Puerto Vallarta. Thank you! We do have one question, though. Who was the one grabbing every extra-heavy tourist from the Mayan Palace, stuffing them into lifejackets, and setting them on the lee rail for ballast? I think someone was telling them it was a free sailboat ride. And what a ride it was!

- alex 6/30/01

Alex - It's a wicked reef in the sense that doesn't seem as though it should be there, and that there are no markers to warn of it. When travelling from Nuevo Vallarta to Puerto Vallarta, one has to be very careful to go around the reef - which in any event moves around because it's created by runoff from the river.

Nai'a - Swan 53
Bob & Kristin Beltrano
Chaguaramas, Trinidad
(Northern California)

Having just finished the May Latitude while in Trinidad, Kristin and I joined our friends Vaughn and Sharon Hampton of the Alameda-based Reality (Ha-Ha Class of '98) at The Bight, a restaurant/bar at Peakes Marina and Boatyard in Chaguaramas Bay. A lone cruiser joined us and said, "Hi, I'm David Clark. Have you heard of me?" Needless to say, I was stunned, as I'd just read in Latitude that he was trying to be the oldest man to ever do a circumnavigation.

So, yes, David is in Trinidad, having just arrived three days ago after sailing up from South Africa. I'm supplying him with past Latitudes that had his story within. He says his current plan is to finish his book here in Trinidad while waiting out hurricane season, then continue to Ft. Lauderdale for his planned November arrival. While in Trinidad, he was able to get a 'sponsored' slip at Power Boats Ltd. Marina/Boatyard from Donald Stollmeyer, the 'father' of marine facilities in Trinidad.

David appears to be in great shape and spirits, and reports that he had a fine crossing. His boat is in fine shape also, and he says she's an even better boat than the one he started with - and which sank when he first departed South Africa for the Caribbean. Unfortunately, he still hasn't found a replacement for his dog Mickey, who was lost during rescue attempts.

As for us, we did the '99 Ha-Ha with Nai'a, our Hans Christian 43, and travelled Mexico all last season, getting as far south as Acapulco. It was there that we discovered we had to haul our boat and get the mast replaced! Delayed six weeks in Acapulco, we lost our weather window and insurance coverage for getting to Panama by summer. To make a long story short, we came up to Sail Expo in Oakland last April in search of solutions and perhaps another boat. We were sitting on a new Swan 56 when we started moaning about our problems, and Patrick Adams of KKMI overheard us. Three weeks later, we owned a fairly new Swan 53 in Miami! Damn that Patrick!

The Hans Christian was delivered to and sold in L.A. We then transferred all our stuff to the new Nai'a in Ft. Lauderdale, and began to "cruise-herfy" her. We ended up leaving Ft. Lauderdale in January of this year to cruise the Caribbean while commuting back and forth to work. We discovered that cruising in the Caribbean is a whole different story when compared to cruising in Mexico. Some of our Caribbean highlights included the British Virgins for six weeks, Antigua for Sailing Week, the Pitons in St. Lucia, and The Saintes and the ice cream they sell there. As for our new-to-us boat, once you sail a Swan you can never go back.

We travelled 'down island' to arrive in Trinidad for hurricane season. Originally we planned to have extensive work done here, such as replace the teak decks. But after much investigation - another long story - we opted not to have the work done here. So we'll store the boat here in Trinidad and have the decks done 'off season' in Grenada, then travel up the Eastern Caribbean again next season. It's ditto for Reality.

The crews of Reality and Nai'a will be back in the Bay for the summer. . . leeching off family and friends. We're going to have our off-season reunion at Avatars in Sausalito.

- bob & kristin 6/15/01

Bob & Kristin - You didn't ask us, but if you're going to keep your boat in the tropics, you might think about getting rid of the teak decks altogether. Many folks find their boats are much cooler inside without them. In fact, there will be a letter on just this subject in the next issue.

Ricka - Taswell 43
Mel & Rebecca Shapiro
Musket Cove, Fiji
(Dover, Delaware)

Part One. Rebecca and I - who have been out cruising for four years now - will finally be leaving New Zealand after a long stay and setting out for Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. This year's cruising season will end in November, at which time we'll be in Australia.

We have made 'heaps' - a good Kiwi word - of friends here in New Zealand and have enjoyed a wonderful in-depth experience of the kind of life they live. But winter has come to this hemisphere, the nights are cold, the leaves have fallen, and snow blankets the southern mountains. So we are eagerly looking forward to warm secluded anchorages, the sight of turquoise water, palm-lined beaches, and beautiful naked Polynesian maidens frolicking on the sand. As we're about to head off on this tough, 1,100-mile passage, our motto is: 'Life is short, so have fun - or get religion.'

Part Two. Well, we made it, and are currently at Musket Cove, Fiji - which is a remote, palm-covered island to the west of the main island of Viti Levu. Molololailai is its proper name, and it is privately owned by Aussie Dick Smith. He's created a simple but deluxe thatched-roof beach hut-style resort that appeals to newlyweds. You see long white sand beaches everywhere you look, as well as turquoise waters and beautiful undersea coral gardens.

Musket Cove is great for us yachties, as Dick offers lifetime memberships to the Musket Cove YC - which is recognized by other yacht clubs worldwide - plus use of all his facilities for a grand total of one Fijian dollar! That's about 45 cents U.S. In addition, the yacht club will arrange to have virtually anything you want or need delivered door to door for no service fee. The tiny island has its own airstrip, which has three 10-minute flights each day to Nadi, Fiji's big international airport. Musket Cove is also served by a thrice daily powercat that makes the run in 45 minutes.

One of the charming features of Musket Cove is that there is no evidence of government or bureaucracy, no cars or trucks, and just a few golf carts, bicycles, and electric scooters. There is, however, Internet access, five telephones, and a cell tower. We use a worldwide Voda Phone, which features free incoming calls and no billing. Out in the anchorage are perhaps a dozen cruising boats, mostly in the 40 to 45 foot range, with hailing ports from all over the globe.

Our passage up from New Zealand took eight days, and was for the most part uneventful - at least as one could wish for the sometimes dangerous passage. We started with two days of motorsailing, then the wind built to as much as 40 knots and the seas to as much as 12 feet - with another two feet of chop. It was all out of the southeast and we were headed north, so we got to run with it. Although we traveled alone, we were in HF radio contact with several other boats also headed to the South Pacific. Two of these boats suffered knockdowns, but all came through intact. As the days wore on, the wind and seas abated. On the eighth day we motorsailed through the barrier reef and into Fijian waters.

Our greatest 'disaster' occurred the first day out when the head broke - after we'd used it, of course! Fortunately, we have two heads. We also ripped our new mainsail, wrapped a halyard around our furling headsail, and nearly lost our radar/antenna tower. But all were fixed without drama, so it was a very good trip.

- mel and rebecca 6/15/01

Aeolus XC - N/A
Malcolm & Jacqueline Holt
Barillas Marina Club
(Bahia Jiquilisco, El Salvador)

The original goal of the Barillas Relief Project has been surpassed! In January, following the earthquake that devastated the rural areas of El Salvador, Malcolm and Jackie Holt of Aeolus XC, and Don and Vickey Mayrand of T Tauri Wind, made a decision to assist the 51 residents of a village known as Hacienda Lourdes, 3,200 feet up Volcán El Tigre, Usulután, El Salvador. Five months later, it feels as though it was an act of fate that drew us to this humble community and the wonderful people who live here.

Our first intention was to rehouse the villagers, most of who earn their living as seasonal workers on the surrounding coffee plantation. We intended to repair four houses that could be saved, and to reconstruct five houses that we demolished due to their irreparable condition. The scope of the project increased as we discovered three more additional homeless families living nearby.

Following negotiations with the landowners, we were successful in securing a new parcel of land about one kilometer away, which is now registered in the names of the 12 families. The new community is called El Milagro (The Miracle) de Jaquelin. Many wonderful things happened to make this relief effort possible. The most important of these was the generosity of cruisers' friends, family, former colleagues - more than 70 - and the Canadian government. Without the more than $28,000 U.S. that these individuals and institutions provided, the project could have never been completed.

Also significant was the nearly $4,000 U.S. that the Barillas cruisers raised themselves through five auctions - talk about treasures of the bilge! Perhaps equally important was the spontaneous generosity of the crewmembers from more than 100 boats - from every continent - who worked on or contributed to the project. Also critical: Señor Juan Wright, the owner of Barillas Marina Club, who made a work van - complete with a driver/translator - available for every work day for the duration of the project. We jokingly told Juan at the outset of the project that we may well return his Toyota van in the bucket of a front-end loader, as all the travel on the extremely rough mountain roads was going to take its toll. The truth was not far removed from fiction, as the vehicle is just about spent. We count our blessings that it held together until we finished our work.

Yes, this was a 'happening'. Just as Woodstock could not be replicated, we believe that this was a once in a lifetime experience - and that we were the fortunate ones who were able to participate. Virtually everyone involved with the effort came away with a sense of pride, love, and accomplishment from each day's work. The bonding that occurred between the international cruising community with the children, women and men from the village was profound. Many cruisers - even grown men - parted company with tears of joy and sadness when their time came to continue sailing. The trust and caring that developed between the foreign visitors and the locals became as close as family relationships, and we're sure that many of those who participated will retrace their steps back to the new village in years to come.

Some additional facts that underscore the generosity that made this all possible:

- Fifteen organizations such as yacht clubs and cruising associations, church groups, schools and offices provided financial support.

- There was a significant grant from the Canadian International Development Agency.

- Forty-five boats traveling to Barillas - mainly southbound from Mexico - brought clothing, school supplies, tarpaulins, medical supplies, building equipment and tools, blankets, food and personal items.

- A program has now been set up so that year-end leftover school supplies from Vancouver/Victoria, B.C., may be delivered by southbound boats.

- The Director of the U.S. Peace Corps in El Salvador provided his son as a resident worker/translator. Walker Wise lived in the village and became one of the locals for a four-month period. The project still has momentum.

Funds continue to arrive, probably due to word of mouth and the information contained in our web page. Jackie and I have now decided that we 'have done our bit', and we intend to continue our journey to Ecuador and Chile in October or November. There are, however, people associated with the project who have said that they will stay to complete more homes and assist in the construction of infrastructure projects - water is the most precious natural resource - if funds continue to flow. The need for the simplest things in so much of this poor country is so great that any donation - even a few dollars - will make a tremendous difference to the quality of life for many people.

We have assisted in the preparation of another grant application from the Canadian government so that a water catchment system may be completed for El Milagro and other nearby communities. The scope of this work is almost endless, it seems, but the dividends for participating - either directly or by donation - seem to outweigh the investment many times over. Incidentally, all of the funds we raised were spent directly on the project. We have learned of some of the percentages charged by international relief organizations for their services, and pride ourselves on having fueled our volunteer efforts on love from the heart!

The result of our work is that 66 people now live in safe houses - they have been tested in several (unreported) earthquakes that have continued to shake the country. In addition to building skills, we have taught the village people to construct a series of reinforced concrete retaining walls. They are continuing to work on this part of the project right now. Furthermore, some of the young people from the village have learned new construction skills - welding, steel fabrication, reinforced concrete work and roofing - and are now employable beyond the scope of our project.

If anyone is able to make a contribution to the ongoing project, the details are as follows: Send donations to: The Bank of Nova Scotia, One Liberty Plaza, New York, NY 10006, USA Transit Number for the Bank of Ahorromet Scotiabank: 07142-32 ABA 026002532 (Put these numbers on the back of your check). Make your check payable to: "Account Number 2-07-21576-1: Donald Arthur Mayrand". Supporters wishing to receive a receipt for IRS tax purposes should do as follows: Make your check payable to: St. Jude's Episcopal Church, and add a note to tell the church that your donation is "For the Barillas Relief Project". Mail your check to: 20920 McClellan Road at Stelling, Cupertino, CA 95015-2967. Remember to send your name and address to which your IRS receipt should be mailed. For accountability purposes, with the date and the amount of your donation.

A 'thank you' to everyone who provided support to the project!

- malcolm & jacqueline holt 7/01

Southpaw - Brewer Gaff Schooner
The Balding Family
Second Time Around
(Rogue River, Oregon)

We've only come across a couple of Latitudes in the last couple of years, so it was a surprise to find the April issue at a book swap - especially when we found our names included in the Rounder's Roundup feature on circumnavigators. Seeing old friends' names on the list also brought back a lot of memories.

For the record, our low-budget circumnavigation - you did an article on it in '97 - meandered from '84 to '93, and was fairly typical: Mexico, Milk Run to New Zealand, return to South Pacific and have baby, Australia, Indian Ocean to Red Sea to Med, French Canals to England and Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Morocco, Madeira, Canaries, Senegal, Grenada, Colombia, San Blas, Costa Rica, Mexico, and U.S. Our boat then, Heart of Gold, was 28.5 feet long. She was only that long because Gary lengthened her hull while the boat was in his mother's pasture in Oregon.

Most of our navigation was done with a sextant. We did buy a SatNav - remember those? - for the Red Sea, but it packed up well before we arrived back in the States. The boat's old Atomic 4 died before the end of the trip, too. We replaced it with a 9 hp diesel in Australia. We didn't do much motoring anyway, just in flat calms and harbors.

We purchased the hull of our new boat - a Ted Brewer design in steel - in '95 and optimistically thought we'd be cruising again in 18 months. Maybe . . . if we'd been in a dry climate and stuck to our original 'French minimalist' - milk crates, bean bags and curtains - interior. As it was, it took us four years to more or less finish fitting her out. We moved aboard the last year so we could ready Heart of Gold for sale.

When we took off in Southpaw, we had only sailed the boat once, and that was two years before at her launching - just to see if she could sail. Still, we figured a 51-foot L.O.A. gaff schooner can't be very different from a 28.5 marconi sloop, right? Neither of us had any experience with gaff rigs or schooners, and there wasn't anyone around whose brain we could pick, so we've been having a lot of fun figuring it all out. The offset propeller makes life interesting, too, and we've found that it's wonderful for harvesting kelp. By the way, since our prop is offset to port, our dog Murph always shook with his left paw, and Gary and I are left-handed, we named our new boat Southpaw.

This time we've taken a slightly different route. From Z-town we sailed to Fanning, mostly under square rig, driven by our Radcliffe-brand windvane, which works independently of the worm-gear steering and is the stoutest commercial vane we've ever seen. Winds were light, so the 3,600 mile passage took 29 days. Our friends with a 50-footer took 42 days. From Fanning we sailed to Pago Pago, America Samoa - where the water is much cleaner than it was in the '80s - to Apia, where Gary worked for two months plumbing a new government building.

When we left Samoa, we brought along a young Kiwi plumber for the trip to Asau, Niautoputapu, and Vava'u, Tonga. It was the first time we'd ever sailed with an extra body on our boat. Andy had sailed as a kid, but was unprepared for the 45-knots we ran into from Tiautoputapu to Vava'u, and the hard beat - it took four days to cover 150 miles - we had. "This is a f--king shithouse, mate," was his constant groan. But he was a great guy - and superb teenage disciplinarian. Any time our daughter Sara got saucy, he'd toss her overboard. At anchor, that is.

We sailed to Suva so Sara could see her birthplace and to see if she could get a Fijian passport. Unfortunately, the rules have now changed, and you now have to have a Fijian parent to get a passport. Suva's a little shabbier than before, and the town dump across the bay can make life in the anchorage unpleasant. Still, it doesn't affect the yacht club bar. And Suva is still a great town. Oddly enough, it has the cheapest place we know of to get a liferaft certified - and you're encouraged to watch the inspection and repacking.

Weatherwise, our trip to New Zealand was much better than our first one, as we only had one low deep enough to generate 45 knots of wind. It was in this stuff that we paid the price for not shaking our boat down before we left, as we had several breakages: A weld failed on the rudderstock, a running backstay fitting broke, the staysail boom broke, and the head gasket blew on the engine. So our trip to New Zealand was slow - 14 days, and we had lots of light headwinds that didn't help. But the windvane handled the steering, and Southpaw is so comfortable at sea that we weren't concerned about the length of the passage. Not that we weren't pleased to see Opua!

We finished repairs to our boat the day before the annual tall ships race, which was a blast. It was the first time we've sailed with other gaffers. We were hoping to see Michael Kris and Gilpie - where were you? We've be staying in New Zealand a year or so, so Sara is in school. Gary is plumbing - and for the first time ever has a legal work permit. Apparently there's a shortage of plumbers in New Zealand. I'm maintaining the garden in the beautiful place overlooking Flat Island that we're housesitting for the winter. Life is good.

- jessie 7/1/01

Konig - Passport 51
George & Anita Rishell
Cruising South
(Point Roberts, Washington)

After several years of preparing our boat, we finally left our slip in Point Roberts, Washington, in August of '00 and headed for San Francisco. Our boat wasn't finished, but we had to get south to avoid winter storms. Our trip was uneventful - except when we got into dense fog and heavy fishing boat traffic off Coos Bay, and asked the Coast Guard to guide us in. They did - after which they inspected our boat and cited us for two violations: 1) Not having a bell with a large enough diameter, and 2) Not having 'No' in front of the documentation number in our hull. That's your tax dollars and our's hard at work!

After a couple of weeks visiting old friends in San Francisco, we moved on to San Diego, where a friend let us use the slip in front of his Coronado Cays home to finish our boat projects. In March of this year we headed south to Mexico, and friends John and Wanda Robertson of Vancouver made the passage with us. We had a good trip with good company - and even managed to get a slip when we pulled into Cabo! After a week in frantic Cabo, we headed to Puerto Vallarta, where we spent a week with old friends - many of whom were there for the Banderas Bay Regatta.

Our passage to Z-town was somewhat more exciting. After checking the oil one afternoon, we hit the starter and heard a horrible noise. The diagnosis was simple: the starter motor was trying to separate from the engine. So we put our sails up in the light air. By evening the wind had picked up - but so had the strange noises from our Leisure Furl boom. The diagnosis was simple once again: the boom had come loose at the gooseneck and slid back. It only remained attached because of the roller and the sail. During the installation, the boatworkers had failed to put Locktite on the final screw that locks all the parts of the assembly together. Due to the weight of the boom, we couldn't make repairs at sea. We furled what we could of the main and sailed under genoa. There was good wind and we were able to sail into Z-Bay and drop the hook without any problem.
Fixing the boom wasn't hard. Then we were lucky enough to find a good mechanic for the engine. He discovered that all three of the studs holding the starter in place had failed. After a couple of tries, we got it fixed properly. Interestingly, the whole time we were there, nearby Marina Ixtapa was closed by breaking waves. If your boat was inside, it was trapped.

Our next stop was a slip at the Acapulco YC, which is undergoing major renovations. The club is very well run and a pleasure to stay at. We decided that hurricane season was too close for comfort, and that we'd make the passage to Panama in one hop. We had a nice weather window through the Gulf of Tehuantepec, but a Papagayo - plus 2.5 knots of adverse current - got us off Nicaragua. We finally made it to the lee of Costa Rica's mountains, and from there had pleasant sailing to the uninhabited Panamanian island of Jicaron, which is west of Punta Mala. We decided to put in to see an uninhabited jungle island. It was very beautiful with monkeys and birds of all types, flowers, coconuts and even a freshwater stream where fishermen come to refill. It was a very interesting stop.

When we got to the Canal, we took a mooring in front of the Balboa YC. The ruins of the burned out clubhouse have been removed and only the foundation remains. But they have a new office above the ice machines, and lockers at the top of the ramp from the floating pier, and have built an open-air bar/restaurant near the pool at the top of the bluff. The club has apparently solved its dispute with the government, and now has a long term agreement that guarantees them the right to the moorings and the pier. The bar/restaurant and pool area are leased month-to-month, but it seems to be of little concern to them. The club staff are very helpful.

Some of the most interesting news from Panama is that the old railroad, which has been inoperable for years, is being completely rebuilt. The work is being done by a U.S. company that also has the contract to operate and maintain it. It is scheduled to reopen in August of this year. By the way, do you know what they use to keep the club's moorings in place? Used railroad car wheels.

Those who thrive on pizza and booze will find Panama to their liking. Tambuffelli, a Panamanian chain that makes excellent and reasonably-priced pizzas, has opened up nearby, and they deliver to the club. And duty-free liquor can be purchased from the Felipe Motta Co. in the Pattilla district of Panama City. The sticker shock for booze is a pleasant one, as a 0.75 liter bottle of Stolichnaya vodka sells for less than $4 U.S. The Pattilla district is close to some of the more affluent areas of Panama City, and has nice shops, stores and homes. The excellent Casa de Came supermarket is in this same district.

After we complete some repairs and projects, we'll head south to Colombia, where we'll make some stops. We'll later have the boat hauled in Salinas, Ecuador, where we'll renew some old friendships. Easter Island and Puerto Montt, Chile, will be our subsequent destinations. Puerto Montt is at the northern end of the fjord section of Chile, and we want to explore this area - which extends as far south as Cape Horn - for as much as a year.

- george and anita 5/25/01

Acadia - 40 Pilothouse
Charles & Pat Broussard
Eight Years Later
(Carmel Valley)

We and Acadia started our big cruise with the '93 Ha-Ha group, having previously made three-month cruises as far south as Z-town in '88 and '89. The '93 Ha-Ha was a fun and friendly group, and we continued to meet members at the various anchorages over the years. There was always a party sailing in company with 'fleet entertainer' Ray Jason. We recently heard from Al and Barbara of Windscape. Just the two of them sailed to Europe and are now in Barcelona - where we hope to visit them this summer. During their travels, they'd met up with John and Sharon aboard Dionysis. When we dropped the hook in St. Lucia, Dionysis was right next to us - we hadn't crossed paths in four years! The lasting friendships we made during our cruising are too numerous to mention.

To recap our trip, we left in '93 and visited Mexico and all the Central American countries. From Panama we sailed to St. Petersburg, Florida. The next season we sailed through the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and the entire Caribbean chain down to Trinidad, then back to Florida. We spent at least six months in each country, exploring all the backroads and really getting to know the people. Taking Spanish classes in each country was Chuck's way of keeping busy when Pat had to return home for family reasons. In our eight years of cruising from San Francisco to the East Coast, our favorite country was Guatamala. We spent nine months on the Rio Dulce, which allowed us to travel inland extensively. We found the city of Antigua to be a great place for language school.

We have a couple of suggestions that others might find useful. In our experience, cruising six to nine months a year worked out fine. In addition, keeping our home in the Bay Area also proved to be wise. The appreciation in value was great, of course, but having a small place to come home to makes for a happier cruising wife!

Acadia recently arrived back in the Bay Area by truck from Florida. After many years and adventures, we are preparing her for sale. She's a roomy and comfortable 40-footer with a pilothouse, and has all the bells and whistles. Anyone interested should see the Classy Classifieds for her in the July issue. We have also sold our house in Los Altos and moved to Carmel Valley. We're not done with boats, however, as we're having a Dutch barge built in England to cruise the European waterway system.

- charles and pat broussard 7/5/01

Readers - When Charles and Pat refer to the Baja Ha-Ha, we think they really mean the informal 'Some Like It Hot Rally', as we didn't start the Ha-Ha until '94. The 'Some Like It Hot' was a start-and-finish-anytime event without any real organization. Actually, it still exists in spirit, as each member of the Ha-Ha also gets a Some Like It Hot T-shirt.

Ariadne II - Cal 39
Roger Bohl & Angela Konig
(Northern California)

The island of Tobago - part of the nation of Trinidad and Tobago - is a lovely, hidden jewel in the southeastern Caribbean. About 21 miles long and seven miles wide, it has a population of only 47,000. Unlike many of the islands formerly controlled by the British, it's relatively prosperous. As such, the majority of locals live in modest comfort and are very friendly to tourists. Most visitors fly in, a few arrive on cruise ships, and even fewer arrive on 'yachts' - to use the British term for any boat with a sail. While Trinidad - located not far to the south - has oil and is relatively industrialized, Tobago earns most of its money from relatively low-scale tourism.

Tobago has not promoted itself as relentlessly or successfully as some other Caribbean islands, so it's not overrun with tourists and the prices remain reasonable. Furthermore, as it lies to the east - and therefore to windward - of the crescent-shaped line of Eastern Caribbean islands, it is much less visited by cruisers 'doing the islands'. While it takes the effort of upwind and upcurrent sailing to get to Tobago, there are many rewards - one of them being that no matter if your next stop is Grenada to the north or Trinidad to the south - it will be off the wind.

Tobago is particularly attractive to nature lovers. For one thing, it has - thanks to once being connected to South America - some 210 species of nesting birds, many of them very brightly colored and unafraid of humans. It also has rain forests and clear, unpolluted waters - except when there is a heavy outflow from South America's Orinoco River.

Tobago's infrastructure - telephone, electricity, water, sewage, and transportation - is good and Internet cafes abound. The one at Crown Point is in a laundromat, and a church in Charlotteville allows the use of one of their many computers in return for a modest donation.

Scarborough, located on the southern coast, is the center of the island's commercial activity. It has a large marketplace, bus terminal and countless little shops. The tourist center is about 10 miles to the west at Crown Point on the southwest corner of the island - although there are guest facilities dotted around the island's entire coast.

Most visiting yachts anchor at Store Bay, which is well-protected. Skippers then take a 35-cent bus to Scarborough to check in. It's possible to take a dinghy to the beach - be sure to lock it to something - unless the surf is too daunting. If the surf is too big, you can dinghy in behind the breakwater and beach at the high-end Coco Reef Hotel. This will cost you $10/day - unless you're willing to pop for the $50/person dinner. For what it's worth, rooms at the Coco Reef start at $220/night during the season. This is a bargain - believe it or not - compared to similar hotels in the Caribbean.

Just north of Crown Point is Buccoo Reef, an ecologically protected area with calm waters inside the large reef. Just offshore of the reef - and thanks to the reef - is the island's best anchorage. It does not, however, offer any protection from the wind. There is a dinghy dock ashore. Buccoo Reef is one of the few beaches that charges admission: $1/day. They have watersports operations, beach chair rentals, toilet facilities and several food stands. One of the favorite treats is 'Bake On Shark', which is lightly fried shark in a freshly baked bun with a variety of condiments. It's a favorite 'fast food' in Trinidad and Tobago, and it's delicious. There are many beachgoers - local and tourists from hotels without beaches - on weekends, but it's pretty empty during the week. There are many other clean public beaches on Tobago, almost all of them free and with decent toilet facilities.
The northwest of Tobago has many other attractive beaches protected from the prevailing easterly trades. Unfortunately, these beaches are open to the prevailing northeast swell, so it can be rolly. Dinghy docks are available, but dinks need to be stern-anchored because of the swell and three-foot tidal range.

At the end of the road in the northwest corner is Charlotteville, located on Man 'O War Bay. It's a delightful but sleepy village with several small restaurants. Sharon's, the best of them, was allegedly torched by a jealous local. While Sharon's restaurant is being rebuilt, she is serving complete dinners on the patio of her nearby home for just $7 U.S. The dinner includes callaloo, a wonderful local green that can be made into a puree or a soup. You can also order shrimp, but it costs a little more. Tobago fishermen are active, so you can buy what you want before the lot gets shipped off to restaurants in the States. While we were here, we saw fishermen - aided by tourists - pulling in a net from the water's edge. It must have held a ton of small jacks, which are used for bait or enjoyed fried or smoked.

Man O' War Bay is surrounded on three sides by high ridges, tempering the trade winds and providing a scenic backdrop for the village. From February into the dry season, some of the trees turn bright orange, making the hills look like New Hampshire in the fall. A little further on is Speyside, another fishing village that offers the only well-protected bay on the southeast side of the island.

Diving is popular on Tobago, which some claim has the best in the Caribbean. There are many excellent sites and much to see. A one-tank dive is usually $35, while two-tank dives are $70. The snorkeling is also wonderful and it's free. There's an excellent road across the island, from which you can hike up to the rain forest. Surprisingly, most of Tobago's visitors - be it by land or boat - are from countries other than the United States. Of the 13 boats anchored at Charlotteville, for example, ours was the only U.S. flag vessel. Tobago is a jewel. Visit her before everyone else discovers her.

- roger & angela 4/20/01

Readers - One of the best times to visit Tobago is the middle of May during Agnostura Sailing Week. It's simple and lighthearted, like Antigua Sailing Week was 25 years ago. By the way, to say that Tobago used to be controlled by the British is true, but incomplete. Control of Tobago changed hands between 24 and 31 times - it depends on who is counting - among the Dutch, French, British and even the Courlanders. You know who the Courlanders were, don't you?

Cruise Notes:

Steve Salmon and Tina Olton, formerly of Berkeley and now of El Sobrante, have returned home after a seven year, nine month circumnavigation aboard their second Valiant 40, Another Horizon. The couple, who had done a warm-up cruise to the South Pacific in 1990, covered 45,000 miles, visited 61 countries, and called on 480 ports. They frequently enjoyed getting off the beaten track, going up the Black Sea to Odessa, for example, and going up the Adriatic to Slovenia. Both times they rarely saw another cruising boat. In all this time, the worst weather they had at sea was 40 to 45 knots. It should be noted that Steve worked as the fleet weather forecaster almost everywhere they went, and they sat out much worse weather in port. Tina says everywhere they visited had something great about it, while Steve preferred islands such as Tonga, Moorea and Palmyra in the South Pacific. Their best pure sailing was the normal 30 knots of wind from aft while heading north on the flat waters inside Australia's Great Barrier Reef. We'll have more on Steve and Tina's circumnavigation in a future issue.

"Bonjour," write our friends Georges and Thily of the custom built 46-foot catamaran Tkoko Tkoko. "We left St. Barth on July 3, and are in Panama ready to transit the Canal. We hope to be in Polynesia by the end of July." The Wanderer got to know Georges, his Vietnamese wife Thily, and their two sons, during a series of New Year's vacations at St. Barth in the Eastern Caribbean. The couple operated a profitable day charter business there with the 46-footer Georges had built in France. A unique feature of the boat is that the entire back of the salon slides down beneath the cockpit sole! At one time the couple hoped to sell their boat and business in order to build a 60-foot cat, but have decided to continue on with Tkoko Tkoko - a light cat that can really fly! And no, we don't know what the name means.

Capt. Norm Goldie of San Blas - about 80 miles north of Puerto Vallarta - has good news to report from Mexico. First, the San Blas Port Captain who had caused so much trouble by requiring almost everyone to use a service to check in, has been removed. "He had the shortest stay here of any port captain," Goldie reports. So once again the welcome mat is out at San Blas and nearby Matenchen Bay, which cruisers had been avoiding because of problems with the port captain. The other good news. "The surf is awesome!" That comes as no surprise, as it's hurricane season.

"Fourteen months after our Morgan 45 Painkiller hit something in the Caribbean and slipped beneath the waves," writes Ron Landmann, "Jane and I closed the deal on a Catalina 42 we found in Ft. Lauderdale. We have renamed the boat The Usual Suspects. The 42 has a mast height of 61 feet, which is good as the Intracoastal Waterway has bridges with 65-feet clearance."
We suppose having a boat sink from beneath you makes a big impression. For the first passage with their new boat, the Landmann's carried two rigid bottom inflatables, two 406 EPIRBs, four Type 1 offshore lifejackets, three cell phones, two 1.5 gallon water jugs, a flare gun kit, and a hand-held radio and hand-held GPS that were with Ron when he boarded his liferaft on April 30, 2000.

Tony Clark, who for many years operated the modified Ocean 71 Second Life as one of the most active daycharter boats on San Francisco Bay, reports he's leaving for the Caribbean this month. He'll start by cruising the coast of California with his kids. Then it's on to the Caribbean "until I run out of money." The Bay won't seem the same without Second Life, which was out sailing most summer nights under jib and mizzen.

"We were at anchor on the north side of Isla Coronado in the Sea of Cortez," report Les and Diane of the San Francisco-based Albin 42 Gemini, "when we were approached by a panga with 'Parque Nacional/Bahia de Loreto' painted on the sides. Aboard were four very polite people, one of whom was Benito Bermudez Almada, Director of the park. He asked us to pay 53 pesos - about $6 U.S. - for five days in the park. We told him that we were on our way north and would be leaving, but finally paid the money. Another boat in the anchorage had paid 53 pesos per person for one day! Yet another paid 53 pesos per person for an undetermined time. We brought the matter up on the net, and somebody said that the fees are under review in Mexico City, and nobody needs to pay them yet. Benito as much as said this was the case, but still, in a low-key way, wanted the money. He writes your boat name down on a sheet of paper and gives you a receipt with the date written on it. We think he may be jumping the gun, but the fees are in the works. On the very positive side, we and the crews of Dreamweaver and Reason swam with whalesharks that were longer than our boat! We also worked at a Turtle farm in Bahia de Los Angeles to help different studies. The seafood - turtles excluded - has been excellent."

"We just delivered a 44-ft boat from La Paz to San Diego with the owner - only he got off at Turtle Bay when the transmission broke," report Paul and Allison Petraitis of the Seattle-based CT-41 PH Espresso. "Two weeks later we were at the Customs Dock in San Diego, and he was waiting for us. I guess he likes his boat again. We're now in L.A. for a two week infusion of money and visits with the family. After that, we'll head back down to the Sea of Cortez and serious heat to get our boat out of Marina de Don Jose - which is a very nice marina alternative in the La Paz area. At that point, we'll resume a summer of cruising, hunting and gathering, and lots of good stories and cold cervezas with our friends - who we already miss so much!"
"Things are great down here in the Sea of Cortez," reports Mike Miller of the Ventura-based Vanguard 32 Uhuru. "Those of us in Conception Bay, however, did get hit with 40 knots from a mini-chubasco on July 3. Unfortunately, a couple of us were in the exposed southern anchorage at Playa Santispac, where the fetch from the length of the bay resulted in four to five-foot waves. As a result, a 45-foot custom ketch that had been built in Nova Scots in '73 went aground and took on lots of water. Many folks came to the aid of the Aussie chap, who two weeks before had just swapped pink slips even up for his '79 motorhome. He hadn't even gotten a chance to read the Art of Anchoring book that came floating out of the pilothouse. He says he just wants to get the boat floating again so she can be used as a locals party boat around the bay. Other than that, I'm presently sweating my butt off here in Conception, where it's hot, hot, hot! Of course, there's no waves for surfing, but I have been catching a lot of different kinds of fish. In a few weeks I'll be leaving my boat here to return to the States for visits with friends and to reprovision. At the end of October, I'll be doing the Ha-Ha again, but this time with Bob and Bonnie aboard their Santa Cruz 52 Impulse."

"This is our fourth summer in the Med with our F/P 39 catamaran," write David Law and Bonnie Carleton of Icarus. "We keep thinking we ought to move on, but each year we put it off. David and I bought Ickie in the South of France in '97, and decided to get out of the Silicon Valley madness in '98. So we sold our house in Woodside and bought one in Santa Fe. We now spend our winters in Santa Fe, where we ski all season. Come summer, we rent the house out and spend our time on the boat. It's true that the sailing is terrible in the Med, but we love the depth of the history and culture. We also enjoy the food and the people, and the diverse sailing community. During the past four winters, we've left the boat in Gib, Palma de Mallorca twice, and last year in Marmaris, Turkey. We recently did the Eastern Med Cruising Rally, and will have a report for you next month. Every time we return to the Med, we see more cats of every flavor. There are lots of F/Ps, Lagoons, Nautitechs and Catanas. We recently talked to a guy with a 60-ft one-off designed by Lock Crowther. She was the most beautiful cat we've ever seen - and he singlehands it!"

Philo Hayward of Northern California - who sailed the Cal 36 Cherokee Spirit in the last Ha-Ha - has opened Philo's Restaurant, Bar and Music Studio in La Cruz, a popular winter cruisers' hangout in Mexico's Banderas Bay. In addition to food, drinks, music and dancing, Philo's establishment offers a free community school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It starts in the morning with Hatha Yoga, then different levels of Spanish, music classes, and later English classes for the locals. The instructors are volunteers and the classes are free. "I'm really looking forward to the return of the fleet in November," said Philo.
"I am happy to inform you," writes Terrance O'Rourke from Puerto Vallarta, "that we have a site for the Banderas Bay Regatta: Keep in mind that next year's event will be a little early - March 14-17 - to avoid a conflict with Easter." If anyone is looking for a fun cruisers regatta in the absolute ideal setting, bring your boat or your body to Paradise Village Marina for the Banderas Bay event. Northern California sailors should be delighted to learn that Alaska Airlines now offers direct service from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta - and Z-town, too. As next year's Banderas Bay Regatta will be the 10th, it's supposed to be the biggest and best ever.

To each their own. Earlier in Cruise Notes, Steve Salmon said that Palmyra is one of the favorite stops in his eight years or so of cruising. But Blair and Joan Grinols of the 45-ft Capricorn Cat didn't particularly like the atoll. "The folks who run the island for the Nature Conservancy - we knew them from Mexico - are great, but there are limits on where visitors can go, there aren't really any good beaches, and it's difficult to get to decent snorkeling." The Grinols stop at Palmyra wasn't made better by the fact that Blair could have lost his leg to infection as the result of a cut caused by the coral. Fortunately, he was able to fly back to Honolulu with the Nature Conservancy plane to get medical treatment. He later used the plane to deliver some boat parts, as they had rigging problems on their way to Hawaii and had to return to Palmyra. After having to fix more stuff in Honolulu, the couple sailed beneath the Pacific High to make it home to Vallejo in 13 days. They'd lost one sail drive to polypro line, then blew a spinnaker in San Pablo Bay, just a few miles from home at the Napa Valley Marina. Having covered 6,500 open ocean miles since April, Capricorn Cat will go on the hard for the rest of the summer, then return to Mexico and the Banderas Bay Regatta for at least her fifth year in a row.

"We are two Bay Area sailors currently at anchor in Tonga," report skipper Tony Johnson and Terry Shrode of the Ericson 39 Maverick. "We left in March of this year for a planned circumnavigation. By the way, the March issue of Latitude is the last one we've seen - and we miss you guys! There are actually fewer American's out here than we expected - although we're a little ahead of the pack. We left wonderful little Niue about 0200 last Monday morning, and after studying the weatherfax, expected light wind and planned on 2.5 days - plus a very short one for the international date line - to make the 225 miles. Unfortunately, the wind soon built to 25 knots, so we went fast and ended up having to stand-off for 12 hours - which was pretty ugly. When we got into the harbor at Neiafu, Tonga, we found quite a boating scene. We checked a weather warning posted at the local yachtie hangout, which said it was blowing 25 knots and the seas were rough. Now we know. I may have occasion to expand on this at some other time, but for now let's just say if you can't find us on bitwrangler website, dial up a weatherfax of the South Pacific, and if there's a low between 10° and 20° south, we'll be under it!" Tony and Terry have an interesting website with a couple of beautiful color photographs. Check it out at

"We want to be sure all Latitude readers are aware of the new Bocas Yacht Club and Marina here in Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean side of Panama," writes Bruno Collet, the manager and co-owner. "Our world-class facility is still under construction, but 85 slips are currently in place and we're accepting yachts from 20 to 100 feet. We have 30 and 50-amp juice as well as water to all the floating concrete slips, and the bath house and laundry will be operational by the time this gets to print. Bocas del Toro is located below the hurricane belt at 09º20'12N, 82º14'50W. Our marina is accessible via the only lighted, buoyed ship channel in the western Caribbean. The region offers great cruising, is well-protected from the open ocean, and the Bocas del Toro archipelago - known as the 'Galapagos of the Caribbean' - is considered by many to be the best kept secret in the Caribbean basin. The friendly little town of Bocas has an airport with three daily flights to Panama City, restaurants, Internet cafes, and a lot more. Anyone looking for information can call 507-616-6000, fax 507-757-9801, or ."

Roger Young of Ballerina, currently at latitude 38° South at Tauranga, New Zealand, forwarded a report that Phillipe Boutroux, a 33-year-old Frenchman, died in early July after the boat he was delivering sank in very rough weather. Boutroux's body was found some 100 miles southwest of Norfolk Island with an EPIRB attached to his lifejacket. Although near the tropics, the water is actually quite cold in July. Boutroux was delivering the ketch Chemalion from Auckland to her new owner in Noumea, New Caledonia, when she apparently sank quickly as the result of some catastrophic failure.

"Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad, is a truly 'moving target'," report Jack and Patricia Tyler of the St. Pete, Florida-based Pearson 424 Whoosh. "Hundreds of yachties from all over the world show up here to dodge the summer hurricane season - as you folks at Latitude know. That plus the Trinis and their colorful and diverse culture is what makes this place special. But it seems clear to us that there are too few skills being chased by too many yachties. Boat 'fix up' stories are almost the coin of the realm down here. In addition, skilled folks who make a shop's name tend to move around and/or start their own businesses, so a yard that may have a top top reputation one year - for example, Latitude's highly-touted Powerboats Ltd. - may not look so great the next. For example, we've seen tree stumps being used as bow supports on the hard. All of this being said, Trinidad is both unique and special. Except for a brief stateside visit to see our son get his Navy Wings, we're looking forward to spending a good deal more time here. By the way, when we shoved off from the East Coast over a year ago, the only subscription we kept of any kind was to Latitude. Each and very issue is an absolute treat, and we hope the whole crew there realizes what a great job they do every month. Best wishes from Whoosh!"

We don't recall touting any yard in particular in Trinidad because, as you point out, a yard is only as good as their current group of workers. However, we have and will continue to recommend Don Stollmeyer, who owns Powerboats, Ltd. He was the one who started the industry in Trinidad, and he's a guy whose word counts for something with us. As for using tree stumps for bow supports, when we hauled Big O there in the early '90s, that was high tech. It was subsequent to our visit that Trinidad exploded as a place to store boats and have work done during the hurricane season. Some of the yards have become far more sophisticated - and expensive.

Happy cruising! Don't forget to write!

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