With reports this month from
C'est La Vie on heaving-to; from
Notre Vie on cruising the Med; from
Hawkeye on loving Panama; from Yankee Doodle on the magic of the Sea
of Cortez; from Saga on their trip
south to Central America; from Delphus
on Niue, a favorite of their circumnavigation; and lots of Cruise Notes.
Vie - Catalina 47
Keith & Susan Levy
Forced To Heave-To
Before my husband Keith and I left San Francisco on our cruise
three years ago, I took all kinds of courses to prepare myself.
I even had a female sailing instructor take me out on our boat
for two days - without my husband - so I could do all the sailing.
We practiced all the safety maneuvers, including heaving-to.
You often read about sailors heaving-to because they are fatigued
or because the conditions dictate it. During our cruise, we've
had friends heave-to, but we've never found it necessary. One
big reason is that our boat has a flexible sail plan that was
designed to keep us sailing safely in a wide range of wind conditions.
But our record of not having to heave-to went out the window
during our recent 1,100-mile passage between New Zealand and
Since winter had arrived in New Zealand, we carefully watched
the weather for a window that would afford us decent conditions
for the trip up to Fiji. Finally, all the reports said we'd have
20 to 25 knots of southerlies for the first couple of days, after
which the winds would decrease considerably. That sounded good
to us, as we'd get a good slingshot away from New Zealand on
the back of a low pressure system.
As it turned out, we did get the 25-knot southerlies. What we
later got - but had not expected - was that northerly winds would
subsequently fill in. The northerlies blew at over 30 knots,
with gusts to over 45 knots, for the next 18 hours.
Our Catalina 47 did well in these conditions, reaching under
a triple-reefed main and staysail. During the night, Keith and
I took two-hour watches so that each of us could get some rest.
I can sleep any time day or night, but Keith can't just turn
it off, so he began to get pretty tired. The seas continued to
build during the day, and eventually reached what we estimated
to be 20 feet. C'est La Vie sailed up the crests and down
into the troughs of wave after wave. Our autopilot did a good
job of steering.
Eventually we became concerned about our stern anchor, which
we store in a bracket on the outside of the starboard stern rail.
Waves were sweeping by the stern rail and threatening to dislodge
the anchor. So Keith and I, wearing our PFDs and harnesses, went
to the stern of the boat to see if we could attach the anchor
a little more securely. As we were looking at the anchor, I noticed
a monster wave out of the corner of my eye!
Keith yelled for me to hang on, and then the wave broke over
our boat! It was like being hit by a huge waterfall, and we couldn't
see one another. We just hoped that when the water washed away,
we would both still be on the boat. Thank God, we were both able
to hold on and stay in the cockpit. As I looked out at the raging
sea, I saw assorted things - such as cushions and water bottles
- that had floated out of the cockpit.
"Oh shit," Keith yelled as we turned to see that two-thirds
of the canvas on our dodger had been wiped out. The hard portion
of our dodger, with our solar panels, remained in place and intact,
but there was bent metal with flapping pieces of material everywhere.
We knew it was time - maybe past the best time - to stop the
boat and regroup.
It's true that we had practiced heaving-to, but it hadn't been
since just before the Ha-Ha three years before. And we'd never
done it in severe conditions or with the staysail up. Nonetheless,
Keith reviewed the procedure with me, and what each of us needed
to do. Although we didn't mention it, we were both wondering
whether we'd get it right the first time, or whether we'd have
trouble and suffer additional damage.
We hove-to as smoothly as we had planned and practiced years
And what a difference heaving-to made! The boat settled right
down, allowing us to clean up the carnage on the boat. Better
still, no more waves crashed down on our boat. This allowed us
to collect ourselves and get some much needed rest.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to know how to heave
to, particularly in very bad conditions, and to actually do it
when conditions call for it.
After a few hours the wind and seas calmed down, we jury rigged
the dodger with shock cord and duct tape, and had a wonderful
beam reach in 15 knots of wind the rest of the day.
- susan 6/19/03
- Super Maramu 53
Ken Burnap & Nancy Gaffney
To The Med
We and our new Notre Vie have travelled 2,812 miles since
we left the factory at La Rochelle, France, on April 19. Before
we took off, I practiced putting up the complicated twin pole
ballooner system by myself, which enables us to fly the ballooner
and jib wing-on-wing. Although somewhat unusual, it really moves
the boat along in light winds. Ken loves letting the autopilot
steer downwind, as it can be set to steer to a constant wind
direction as opposed to a compass course.
We departed on our adventure with a crew consisting of my son
Tommy McKoy and friend Lindsey Rosso. Despite all the stories
about the treachery of the Bay of Biscay, we headed out with
light following winds, later beam reached, and then did some
motoring at night. After rounding the tip of Spain, we caught
one of those famous Portuguese Trades, and the ballooner carried
us along at eight knots under a beautiful moonlit sky. I almost
hated to turn up the Rio de Arosa for our first stop at Villagarcia
de Arosa. We pulled in about 11 a.m., having covered 458 miles
at an average speed of 6.6 knots.
While there, I stepped off and took a picture of the rest of
the crew and our great Turks & Caicos Islands flag. The TCI's
are one of the many places we considered for flagging our boat,
but they won out because of reasonable fees - and a flag that,
in addition to the red English ensign, features a conch shell,
lobster, and some other thing.
After resting up for a few days and visiting Santiago de Compestela,
we moved down the coast, having to endure some rain and wind
out of the south. We stopped at Bayona, which is a great town
with a fine yacht club; Nazare, a good base for exploring inland
Portugal; then Cascais at the mouth of Rio Tejo near Lisbon.
We decided 'Cashcash' was just that, but loved Lisbon! The Maritime
Museum at Belem, and Sintra in the mountains were both wonderful.
Since our crew then flew home, they missed the great downwind
dolphin runs on our way to Sines and all the way to the southern
end of Portugal. We spent a wild night anchored in 30-knot winds
off the rugged coast near Pt. Sagres. Then we did an overnight
run to Vilamoura, then to Chipiona, where we left our boat to
take a bus - rather than make 50-mile motor trip up the Guadalquivir
River - to Sevilla. The real treat we granted ourselves was a
stay in a luxury hotel with a seven-foot bathtub for me and a
10 sq. ft. shower for Ken. That's just what the body and spirit
needs after a month on the ocean. But what a wonderful city Sevilla
is - they do cute like nobody else!
We stopped at Gibraltar for a few days, and then continued on
to Spain's Costas del Sol and Blanca, mostly going from port
to port with only a few stops at anchorages. It's a beautiful
area, but I didn't really mind the rush because much of the coast
is overbuilt with high-rise condos and hotels. We did have a
nice stay in Aguadulce, from where we took a short bus trip to
Almeria to visit the Moorish Alcazaba (castle). Our last stop
on the Spanish coast was Moraira, a quaint town with Old World
charm. We would have stayed an extra day or two, but they were
getting ready for a regatta, so we headed to the Balearic Islands.
It was only 55 miles to the beautiful island of Ibiza, notorious
for wild parties. We circled around the east side of Ibiza and
then made our way over to Mallorca, which at abut 100 miles by
100 miles, is the biggest of the Balearics. However, on our way
to Mallorca, our prop got fouled by a piece of floating plastic
fencing. Fortunately, the seas were calm as I went over to dive
and clear it. It wasn't too bad - except the water was full of
jellyfish. I hate jellyfish!
A bit tired, we pulled into a port with the idea of treating
ourselves to a nice lobster. Life being what happens to you when
you've made other plans, the dock line got caught in our bow
thruster prop - causing it to fly off! Amel has an ingenious
system in which the bow thruster is lowered by a line, so I hauled
it to the deck and put on a replacement prop. Four hours - and
a few curse words later - it was fixed and we had our lobster.
Actually, it turned out to be perfect timing as the normal dinner
time in Spain is 11 p.m.!
The island of Mallorca was equally beautiful, with nice ports
and anchorages. We were, however, on a deadline to reach Marseille,
France, by June 8 in order to meet friends, so we're making a
note to spend more time in the Balearics when we wind our way
out of the Med in a couple of years. Eight hours into our 120-mile
passage to Marseille, our prop got fouled again, this time on
a large section of fishing net. What a mess! Since it couldn't
be pulled off, we had to use the bread knife - which did the
I can't say I appreciated Marseille, as a heat wave and a garbage
workers' strike was a bad combination. After our friends - the
great chefs Howard and Bev Philippi - joined us and we provisioned,
we were in for a real rest and treat at the beautiful fjord-like
anchorages of the Calanque area. Here, you throw out the anchor,
back up, and tie a stern line to a rock. The water in Calanque
Port Miou was crystal clear and refreshing. There was daylong
entertainment, as the kids jumped and dove off the rocks, for
which we developed a scoring system. None of us wanted to leave,
but we pushed on anyway.
Having most recently been enjoying the Cote d'Azur and French
Riviera, I can see why it's so popular - I love it! The winds
are generally light, gathering strength in the afternoon before
dying again at night. Sometimes, however, a mistral will blow
for several days. We spent most of our time at the anchorages
of the Ile de Porquerolles to save money for the high times when
we pull into places like St. Tropez, which is très cher.
But it's also charming and fun to watch all the mega yachts come
and go. Right now we are in Cannes so our friends can get a train
back to Paris, and so we can effect a few repairs. We plan to
return to the Iles de Lerins to anchor and swim tomorrow. We
hope to make our way northeast toward Italy, then down the coast
to hop off to the Tuscan Islands, Corsica, and Sardinia.
- nancy 07/08/03
Hawkeye - Sirena 38
John Kelly & Linda Keigher
(Seattle And Alameda)
We're still in Panama - and enjoying it immensely! When we sailed
from Costa Rica to the Panama City area several months ago, seeing
the skyscrapers was a shock to our systems! We hadn't seen skyscrapers
since we were back in the States long ago.
Via the ham net we learned that our new AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)
batteries had arrived from Miami, so we went directly to a mooring
at the Balboa YC. We can't begin to tell you the thrill of looking
up and seeing the Bridge of the Americas, plus all the ships
from around the world passing on their way to or from the Canal.
Both of us had just read The Path Between Two Seas by
David McCullough, an outstanding history of the building of the
Panama Canal and the political shenanigans, technical, medical
and other problems involved. Since we were not planning to transit
the Canal - at least not this year - we were anxious to sign
on as line-handlers aboard other boats making the transit. John
was busy installing the new batteries, so Linda had a chance
to crew with Elaine Roche, who has been singlehanding for a year
aboard her Grand Marina (Alameda) based Valiant 32 Morning
Star. Elaine's brother came down to crew with her through
the Canal, but she still needed three other people. The two other
crew were Bob Wilhelm of the Islander 37 Viva, and Steve
Cherry of the Formosa 41 Witch of Endor. We had a fine
We've been enjoying Panama City life, as in dining out, seeing
a movie, grocery shopping, doing laundry, and visits to a dermatologist
- gringos have a hard time with the tropical sun - and a chiropractor.
The 5-7 p.m. Happy Hour at the Balboa YC restaurant, with pitchers
of beer for $4, is an important event around here. All the yachties
gather to swap stories, look for crew for Canal transits, and
so forth. As many Latitude readers know, the somewhat
notorious yacht club burned down a few years ago, but fortunately
for lap swimmers such as Linda, pools don't burn very well. According
to the club members, the club has the plans and money to rebuild
the club, but not enough mordida has been dispensed yet to begin
Both of us later made a transit as line-handlers on the 48-foot
trimaran Maluhia, which Tom, Beth, and son Ritchie recently
bought in Puerto Vallarta and are taking to their home in Florida.
All went well through the three up locks to Lake Gatun and across
the lake. We entered the first down lock on the Colon side after
seeing monkeys in the trees in the Banana Cut, a shorter route
that is too shallow for big ships to use.
Since we were going to side-tie to another boat going through
the locks, Tom started to slow down. Suddenly he yelled, "I
have no transmission!" This meant there was no reverse power
to stop the boat - and we were fast approaching the other boat
and the lock gate. Lines were quickly tossed to the other boat,
which was already side-tied to the wall, and we came to a halt
just feet from hitting the gate. Luckily, there was no damage
- other than frazzled nerves - to either boat or crew.
However, we were now in the front of the lock, and the advisors
were talking about what should be done. According to the Canal
rules, every boat going through the Canal must be able to move
under its own power. While the debate raged back and forth, with
the other advisor insisting that we should be towed back into
the lake to anchor and await a mechanic, a big car carrier moved
in behind us. This is what our advisor was hoping for, because
now we were committed to continuing through the locks.
They tied us alongside a huge ocean-going tug on one side, with
a sailboat on the other, sandwiching us in. There were several
anxious moments through the other two down locks, but all was
fine - until we were told that another tug had been ordered from
Colon to take us the short distance from the last lock to the
anchorage. This caused a lot of unnecessary trouble and expense,
as the other sailboat had offered to tow us there. This, however,
would have been "against the rules". We were still
tied to the first tug outside the locks, going faster than Maluhia
had ever gone before, when the second tug came alongside and
tried to tie up to the quickly moving combination of tug and
trimaran! The tug we were first tied to, with his 8,000 horsepower
engines, would not or could not slow down, as the huge car carrier
was now bearing down on us from behind. The second tug tried
to adjust his speed and direction to come up right next to us
so we could tie to him, but crunch!
As a result, Maluhia suffered two broken stanchions, and
it felt as though she were being pulled apart like a wishbone.
This did not make anyone happy, and there was lots of shouting
in both Spanish and English. Finally, the second tug alone took
us to the Colon anchorage. The anchor was dropped, a bottle of
champagne was opened, and we all relaxed a little before the
crew headed to the bus station and the two-hour bus and taxi
ride to Balboa and our own boats. Tom and Beth eventually received
a towing bill from the Canal Authority for the outrageous amount
of $1,955! They are disputing it.
After 10 years of great service, our Avon inflatable dinghy tried
to give up the ghost, but John had other ideas. He spent many
days patching the leaks, and thought he had it fixed for our
trip to the Las Perlas Islands. But on the way out, a huge air
bubble erupted where a seam had been fixed. So John spent another
week working on it while at anchor, but he still couldn't stop
the leaks. That meant we were without a 'car', and couldn't explore
once Hawkeye was anchored. Fortunately, some other cruisers
were kind enough to include us in their exploring.
During the full moon, the tides on the Pacific side of Panama
are 15 to 18 feet. During an extreme minus tide we and some Danish
friends aboard Ornen went to a little island to gather
scallops. We gathered buckets full of them!
For the next three weeks at the islands, we anchored in several
different places and encountered a few violent thunderstorms.
Our skills were certainly tested during these electrical storms,
which come up quickly, have lots of wind, rain, and lightning,
and pass equally quickly. We collected lots of rainwater when
at anchor and did not have to run our watermaker. Locals in dugout
canoes frequently came by selling bananas, limes, lobsters, pearls,
and drugs. We bought bananas, limes and lobsters, but declined
offers of the latter. There are not many chances to wear pearls
while cruising, and drugs are not our form of entertainment.
After three weeks in the Las Perlas, we headed back to Balboa
to re-provision and enjoy a little city life. Since our visas
were expiring and we had to leave the country briefly, we decided
to take a five-day trip, by air, to Cartagena, Colombia. For
$388 each, we got an all-inclusive package of airfare, hotel,
and meals as well as some tours. We're 'shoestring backpacker'
types, so the all-inclusive resort thing was sure different for
us. We ended up with a suite - that was at least three times
bigger than Hawkeye! - in a 23-story hotel on the beach.
Food and drink were available all day long, as well as entertainment
and tours. Dinner was in a different restaurant each night, either
in the hotel or in Old Town, all included. There were buffets
for breakfast and lunch, with exotic fruits and desserts and
all the delicious local and international food that you could
possibly want to eat. Linda got her hair braided and a massage
at the same time on the beach for $18. We really played the tourist
roles! Cartagena is a fascinating and safe place, but it's not
safe once you leave the city. The rest of the country has very
Upon our return, we took another trip to the Las Perlas Islands.
While John was working on the dinghy again in Balboa, Linda took
a bus ride to downtown Panama City one afternoon to an area called
Cinco de Mayo, where the street is blocked off and there are
countless shops. On the way there, the lady driving the SUV giving
people rides for 50 cents warned Linda to watch where she was
going in the area because it was dangerous for "tourists
with light hair, skin, and eyes". Just what Linda wanted
to hear. Nonetheless, she had a good time walking through the
shops. She was stared at a lot, but this is nothing unusual in
this part of the world. From there she got a cab - they are cheap
- to Viejo Panama Ruinas to look at an old fort and convent built
in the 1600s, and to look in some shops run by the Indians of
the San Blas Islands. After viewing the ruins, she was approached
by two police officers asking where she was going. She said to
see the shops, after which she would take the bus back into town
and to the yacht club. The police told her that they would escort
her to the bus stop when she was ready to leave - which they
did. With one on each side - on their bicycles - they went with
her to the bus stop, waited until the bus came, and told the
bus driver where to let her off! When asked if all this was necessary,
they replied they were there to protect visitors and, by the
way, a tourist had been robbed of her backpack the day before
on the road to the bus stop.
Some fun cruising facts:
1) We need 12 different kinds of batteries on Hawkeye
to run everything from watches to navigation lights.
2) We have 14 different kinds of lightbulbs.
3) We go grocery shopping about once every three weeks, and spend
about $100 - including wine and beer. We doubt we could get a
week's worth of food for $100 in the U.S.
Hawkeye will spend August and September tied to a mooring
at the Balboa YC while we are back in the states visiting family
and friends. When we return to the boat, we will visit Ecuador
- linda 07/09/03
Yankee Doodle - Cal 34
Chris & Lyn Byles
The Magic Of The Sea Of Cortez
On June 3 we arrived in San Diego to complete our Baja Bash from
Cabo in 6.5 days - not bad for a 35-year-old Cal 34. We'd spent
the past three years in Mexico; the first two on the mainland
and the past year in the Sea of Cortez. There is something magical
about the Sea and the people on and around her.
One of the many highlights of our time in the Sea was attending
the Loreto Fest on May 1-4. It was our first time. Founded eight
years ago by Bob and Peete - now both in their 80s - of Vela,
the original purpose was to clean up the Puerto Escondido harbor
area. Because so much of the emphasis is now on the musical talents
of the cruising community and locals, it could more accurately
be called the Puerto Escondido Music Fest.
The Fest - which attracted about 160 boats and 300 people this
year - was sponsored by the Hidden Harbor YC. Membership in the
club is $10 a year - but that includes a free spaghetti dinner,
free pancake breakfast, and free BBQ chicken dinner during Loreto
Helping make the event a success were the Port Captain and Immigration
folks. They arranged for a mass check-in. Local businesses also
play a big role in making the event a success, as with the encouragement
of Nancy of Topaz, they contributed over 100 prizes. Most
of the proceeds go to local charities, but money was also raised
to help Carol and Brian of Debutante recover after their
terrible dinghy accident.
The biggest new addition this year was the Candleleros Classic
Sailing Regatta, organized by Doug and Meg of Whistledown.
It was a light air affair, but everybody had fun. In addition,
there was all the other traditional fun and crazy Loreto Fest
We highly recommend Loreto Fest. To get a better idea of what
it's like, Travis and Emily of Mystery Tramp have a slide
show of it on their website at www.mysterytramp.com.
Our stay in Puerto Escondido was just that much more fun for
us because we had the privilege of being able to attend two cruiser
weddings. First, Connie of Sunlover and Elvin of Western
Sea were married just before Loreto Fest. Then after the
event, Max and Stephanie of Chinook tied the knot on Isla
Carmen to become Mr. and Mrs. Hegewald. The weddings were special
for Chris and I, because he proposed to me 18 years ago while
we were crossing the Sea of Cortez aboard Yankee Doodle.
We married a short time later in Puerto Vallarta. As I said,
the Sea of Cortez is truly a magical place.
P.S. for those who didn't hear the news, Tom and Nicole Lyon
became the proud parents of Thomas Maxwell on April 2. For many
years Tom sailed his Cal 34 Sea Beast to and around Mexico,
notably out to the Revillagigedo Islands, where he did spectacular
underwater photography while swimming with the giant manta rays.
He and the pregnant Nicole were also crew aboard Profligate
on last fall's Baja Ha-Ha.
- lyn 07/10/03
Readers - Over the last two months we've
heard several vague references to the "terrible dinghy accident"
mentioned above, and here's what we've been able to learn. Brian
and Carol of Debutante had taken
their dinghy - which reportedly had a new and more powerful outboard
- out of Puerto Escondido to Mystery Tramp, which was
anchored in the 'Waiting Room'. They went to celebrate the birthdays
of Brian and Travis. It was late and dark when Brian and Carol
headed back to their boat in Puerto Escondido Harbor. For whatever
reason, their dinghy slammed into the concrete embankment at
high speed. Carol, furthest forward on the dinghy, struck her
head and was knocked unconscious, while Brian suffered lesser
injuries. Cruisers soon rushed to help, and an ambulance showed
up a short time later. Carol was rushed to La Paz, where she
would spend 10 days in the hospital. She suffered a broken cheekbone,
lost several teeth, and sustained other injuries.
Although dinghies can be terrific fun, they have the potential
to cause serious injury and death. During the day, the biggest
problem is somebody getting shredded by the prop. At night, the
biggest danger is collision - be it with another dinghy, a stationary
panga, or some other solid object unseen in the dark. At night
it's particularly important to carry a powerful flashlight in
order to see if anything is in your path and to let people in
other pangas know that you are there.
Saga - Alberg 35
Jann Hedrick & Nancy Birnbaum
South To Central America
We've had a somewhat strange trip down the coast from the mainland
side of the Sea of Cortez, which we left just after Easter, to
here in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, where we arrived in early
June. Because of parental duties and having to replenish the
cruising kitty, we weren't able to get back to Saga until
late in the cruising season, and then had to move rather quickly
down the coast so that we would be south of the hurricane zone
before June. This meant having to miss some of the anchorages
that we'd read so much about in Latitude, but as we found
out, there were very few boats left in them anyway. For us, the
best part of cruising is making new friends. With so few boats
out, we didn't mind having to maintain such a fast pace. We spent
one to two days at each stop, and stopped at La Paz, La Cruz,
Las Hadas, Manzanillo, Zihua, Acapulco, and Huatulco.
A tropical wave formed and started heading north, so we stayed
put in Bahias de Huatulco for almost two weeks. While anchored
in Bahia Santa Cruz, we enjoyed the gracious hospitality of the
Palapa Almendra, the palapa restaurant next to the church on
the beach. Nata, the manager, and his fine staff kept us happy
with cold drinks, showers, and agua pura in 5-gallon bottles
to refill our tanks. We went into the nearby town of Crucecita
everyday for walks and to enjoy the excellent food. The town
was built by Fonatur, the Mexican tourism development agency,
and we found it to be quite lovely, clean, and charming. We would
recommend two restaurants in town: El Sabor de Oaxaca and Oasis
- but eat at the original Oasis, across the street from the larger
As the wind grew stronger, the anchorage became more uncomfortable
- and we finally became fed up with the constant jet-ski activity.
So we decided to check out the new marina at the next bay over.
Wow, are we glad we did! Marina Chahue, which only opened in
January, has floating docks for about 83 boats, plus sideties
for larger yachts. It's calm with little surge. Enrique Leclette,
the fabulous manager, speaks English as well as French. Currently,
there are no real facilities other than the most basic of bathrooms
- minus, of course, the toilet seats. But the price is right,
with slips running about 50 cents/foot for transient boats, and
30 cents/foot on a monthly basis. And this is the perfect place
to wait for the all-important weather window to cross the Gulf
of Tehuantepec. It looks as though there are plans for more facilities,
as there is much vacant land around. In fact, Enrique says that
Fonatur is looking for investors to buy them out and develop
the surrounding area.
Enrique, however, has a side business in mind. He plans to use
the marina's new Travel-Lift and dry storage facility to transfer
small vessels to a trailer - for trucking across this narrow
part of Mexico to Vera Cruz on the Gulf of Mexico! He says that
this will take only a day, so that boats under 40-feet can be
hauled in the morning and dropped in the Gulf of Mexico that
afternoon - all for about $2,500. It sounds pretty good. He offered
us the opportunity to be the first boat at a discount price.
Although we were tempted, we didn't want to miss Costa Rica and
Panama. But if anyone could make this enterprise work, it would
be Enrique. He has what it takes - especialy a sense of humor!
He says he'll be all ready to go in six months. So if anyone
with a 40 foot or smaller boat wants to cruise to the Caribbean
- without the hassle of crossing Tehuantepec and going through
the Canal, you can
him. Remember to tell him that Saga sent you!
As much as we wanted to stay at Huatulco, there was a weather
window - or so we thought - to El Salvador, so we took off. Our
crossing of the Gulf of Tehuantepec wasn't as terrible as some
have had because there are no Tehuantepeckers in the summer,
and we actually had good motorsailing for the first 36 hours.
Then we had the wind and sea - a very choppy and confused sea
- on the nose. Worst of all, the thunderstorms - which were a
first for us - began!
We had prepared as much as possible, but our boat is a wet one,
so we had to hunker down in the only dry area - just outside
the companionway. Unfortunately, I, Nancy, didn't feel very well
for most of the crossing due to the slop - and being scared of
the lightning. So Jann ended up standing watch for most of the
second night. Rather than becoming more confident as I spend
more time on the boat offshore, I seem to be getting more anxious.
I really, really don't like it when it gets rough. Despite 15
years of sailing on San Francisco Bay, the truth is that I'm
a fair weather sailor, and I enjoy 'being there' as opposed to
So rather than reach El Salvador, after three days and five hours,
we dragged ourselves into Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. It wasn't
cheap, as we had to pay $165 for eight days at the Navy Base.
But they have good security, and a nice clubhouse with a pool,
showers, and a restaurant. This is a good place to leave your
boat, as it's also protected and calm. We're planning a trip
inland into the mountains to Antigua, a historic city filled
with old cathedrals, ruins, and a good market. The weather has
been good - fair skies most days, with clouds and thunderstorms
at night. But that's what you get in this part of the world.
Once we have another good weather window - meaning no tropical
wave - we will be off to El Salvador.
- nancy and jann
Delphis - Cal 39
Tristan McMillan, 13
Niue, A Favorite
Now that we've finished our circumnavigation, Latitude
readers might be interested in some of the countries that we
enjoyed the most. For example, Niue, a small limestone rock about
250 miles east of Tonga. It is a self-governed country, but has
strong ties with New Zealand - using their money, receiving their
aid, and speaking the same language.
After leaving the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, we sailed northwest
for eight days to get to Niue. It was not a good passage, as
the winds were strong most of the time and the seas were big.
About four days out of New Zealand, we lost our steering in a
gale with 40-knot winds and 20-ft seas. It was about 9 a.m. that
the steering chain inside the binnacle parted. Luckily we had
an emergency tiller, and steered with it all day as the winds
got stronger and the seas bigger. At dusk we had a serious conference
involving everyone: Dad, Mom, Brenda (a crew member on her first
ocean passage), Fraser my 10-year-old brother, and myself, eight
years old at the time. By the end of the conference, we had decided
to deploy our newly purchased sea anchor.
After putting the boat into the wind, we let out the huge parachute
at the end of 400 feet of line. The result was like magic! The
motion calmed down to a steady up and down pitch, and we were
able to cook dinner. The next morning Dad and I looked at what
we could do about the steering. We didn't have a replacement
link for the motorcycle chain inside the binnacle. Sound familiar?
So we knocked out the broken links and put the shortened chain
back - only to find that the cable attached to it was now too
short. Fortunately, we had a spare cable and after eight hours
had the wheel steering working again. By that evening we had
pulled in the sea anchor and were on our way again.
About the sea anchor. During the 20 hours it was set, we only
drifted nine miles. I would strongly recommend one to any boat
going offshore, for cases of losing steering or being dismasted.
The sea anchor stops the boat from drifting sideways into the
swells, and allows the crew to get much needed rest.
After another four days of sailing in 15 to 20 knots of wind,
I shouted 'Land ho!" Niuie was on the horizon. Now a breeze
carried the fragrant aroma of flowers and soil that every tropical
island seems to emit. We inhaled the rich smell with pleasure.
Once in the relative shelter of Alofi Harbour, we picked up a
government maintained mooring for about $2/day. The moorings
were placed there because the water is about 80 feet deep in
the anchorage and so the holding is poor. We were only the second
boat to arrive that year, the first having arrived only hours
before. Fraser drove my Dad in to check in with Customs, and
when he got back I was on the edge of the boat and poised to
jump in and explore the distant bottom. Fraser thought otherwise:
"Tristan, I saw a sea snake in there!"
"Yeah, right!" I replied cynically. "Like the
last one you saw!" Then I jumped in. After the bubbles cleared,
I looked down at our keel and . . . "AHHHHHHH!" I broke
the world record for getting back into the dinghy. If I have
two fears, they are snakes and eels - so quite naturally the
4-foot banded sea snake scared the living daylights out of me!
Fraser wore that time honored 'I told you so' expression.
Later that day our family went ashore together. The concrete
pier used by small freighters was the only place to put the dinghy,
but was plagued by a large surge. No problem. They have an electric
hoist on the dock just to lift dinghies out. Hoisting the dinghy
up on the dock was easier than pulling it up on any beach. After
a long freshwater shower in the 'yacht club', we headed for the
main street. Along the way we were greeted by smiles and cheerful
banter. Several people stopped to chat about our boat, trip,
As we walked through town, we purchased such necessities as chocolate,
ice cream, and potato chips. What could you expect from five
people who had been at sea for eight often rough days? The town
wasn't much, just one street with shops, a school, a church,
and the Parliament building. The government's main building was
thatched with palm fronds! Although the roads were not paved,
the whole town was very clean, as people swept the section of
the street in front of their homes and businesses.
The first night we didn't stay ashore long because we were tired
from our voyage, so we headed back to the pier. While at our
dinghy, I started talking to a fisherman about the local marine
life. He gave me a rundown on sea snakes, reporting that the
banded sea snake - which has one of the most toxic venoms known
to man, rivaling that of the African Black Mamba - grows to about
4.5 feet in length, and that Niue is one of their major breeding
grounds! The good news is that banded sea snakes can't bite humans
because their fangs are located at the back of their throat.
It was a relief knowing they were harmless.
The next morning our crewmember Brenda, who hadn't enjoyed the
rough passage from New Zealand, went ashore swearing she would
not go out of sight of land again. Although she had planned to
sail to Tonga with us, the next day she caught a plane back to
New Zealand. This saddened us, because she was an excellent sailor.
The next day we started to do some serious snorkeling. Niue is
all limestone, and with a population of less than 1,500 people
and no rivers, the waters are believed to be the clearest in
the world for being in sight of land. We could clearly see objects
in the water that were 200 feet away! Of all the places we visited
on our circumnavigation, Niue probably had the best diving. The
Tuamotus, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Red Sea, and Bonaire each
had their own individual attractions, but Niue was the best all
around. It had excellent marine life, clear water, a reef structure,
and coral. Some of the sea life we saw included a moray eel the
diameter of a small dinner plate, lemon, reef and bronze whaler
sharks, a huge grouper that must have weighed 200 pounds, and
many other species of fish. The reef structure was latticed with
caves and tunnels. The snakes were fascinating to watch, as they
slowly glided through the water. There were so many sea snakes
that one of the boats got one caught in their dinghy prop!
When we snorkeled, sometimes the sea snakes became too curious
- and you'd have to bump them on the head with your spear gun.
One time Dad and I were snorkeling about a foot apart when a
sea snake was attracted to the black and white zipper strap on
my Dad's wetsuit - and swam right between us from behind! To
this day I jump whenever I see that strap!
My personal favorite dive site was the offshore FAD or Fish Attracting
Device anchored in about 300 feet of water a half mile offshore.
It's a really big sheet of blue plastic tied to a group of buoys
and sunk down vertically about 30 feet. The shade attracts all
kinds of fish: rainbow runners, jacks, wahoo, and even a marlin.
On several occasions we caught the delicious rainbow runner with
light tackle, which was great fun. While snorkeling another time
near the boat, I saw the ultimate spear fishing prize - an octopus.
It was deep - about 35 or 40 feet down - and flanked by two huge
sea snakes, the biggest two I had seen yet. Double cocking my
gun and taking a deep breath, I started my descent. Ten feet
down I was doing good; 20 feet down I was still cool; 30 feet
down I was almost there. I kept telling myself, "The snakes
can't hurt you," but it still wasn't easy. The octopus,
sensing danger, started to ooze away when - Bam! My spear hit
it like a thunderbolt. I darted back to the surface, dragging
my catch behind me. We had our dinner!
One day we rented bikes and rode most of the way around the island,
seeing villages, farms, and fantastic limestone caves. At one
place you could swim through an underwater network of tunnels
and surface in a small sinkhole. Dad did this while I was standing
on the edge of the pool. As soon as he came up, two sea snakes
appeared. Well, two snakes in a six-foot wide pool was too much
for him. He panicked and swam back through the tunnel without
getting a proper breath. On the way out he saw another sea snake
swimming toward him, so he swam up - straight into the rock roof
of the tunnel! He split the skin on his head, and when he finally
got out of the tunnel and came to the surface, blood was pouring
down his face. "Get out, there are sharks here!" we
screamed. Needless to say, he obeyed with alacrity.
Niue is ideally situated, as it's in the tropics, but far enough
south not to be blisteringly hot. The whole island teems with
life - pigs, rabbits, rodents, lizards, and dozens of species
of birds. The jungles are green and pleasantly light, not dark
and humid like the ones in Central America. The locals were some
of the nicest we have met, always smiling and helpful. People
gave us produce from their abundant gardens and refused payment.
Food in the stores was a little expensive - especially if you
wanted things like fresh milk and junk food. The basics weren't
Niue's economy is based on tourism, but it's not overrun with
tourists like so many places. It has a small international airport
with flights going to Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. The whole
island seemed to teem with life and happiness. These facts combined
to make a perfect cruising stopover. On the night of the 14th
day after we arrived, we dropped our mooring and sailed into
the setting sun bound for Tonga, richer for having visited Niue,
but poorer for having to leave.
"We've entered this fall's Baja Ha-Ha and will be having our
10-year-old daughter Tayler aboard," write Rick Huls and
Marsha McCarthy of the Moss Landing-based Hardin 45 Magic
Places. "We're wondering if there are any other children
coming along whose parents might want to contact each other,
as it would be great to get the kids together to share their
experiences. We can be reached
Even though Rick and Marsha's notice was meant for Latitude,
just for kicks we ran it in the July 21 'Lectronic Latitude
- which was apparently read by a lot of folks.
"We'd like to thank you so much for printing our note about
kids who are going to be sailing in the Ha-Ha," Rick and
Marsha wrote back. "We've gotten responses from many wonderful
people - even from past Ha-Ha participants who wanted to share
advice. Tayler is thrilled to know that there will be so many
other boat kids in the Ha-Ha, and already has plans to meet a
few of them before we leave."
"This fall's Baja Ha-Ha 10 should be well-attended,"
advises Ha-Ha Honcho Lauren Spindler. "As of July 25th,
we'd sent out over 150 entry packets and received 52 paid-up
entries. We've had over 100 boats hit the Ha-Ha starting lines
for the last two years, and we expect to be over 100 this year
also. As such, it will be great that Cabo Isle Marina is adding
an additional 1,200 feet of dock space."
Tony Clark of Sonoma reports that his Ocean 71 Second Life
foundered for reasons unknown in the Caribbean Sea on May 3 while
on a night passage between Grenada and Trinidad. The ketch had
done the first Whitbread Around the World Race and sailed much
of the world - sometimes smuggling drugs - before Clark bought
her 17 years ago. He sailed her to Tahiti, the Line Islands,
Hawaii a couple of times, to Panama, the East Coast, Bermuda,
and the Caribbean. In the process, the boat managed to sail in
a couple of Ha-Ha's, but she was probably most familiar to Bay
sailors for having done over 500 group charters on San Francisco
Clark and the one other crewman heard the bilge alarm go off
about 12:30 a.m. "It was blowing about 20 knots with eight
foot seas, nothing bad," says Clark. "There was no
problem with the sea chest, the sink drain, and the depthsounder
thru-hull. Initially there was no water forward or aft, but there
was so much water near the mast that it was almost impossible
to get the floorboards up. By 2:30 p.m., the bilge had flooded
so much the engine quit. We put out a distress call and cut the
lifelines in order to get the 450-lb liferaft over the side.
We were picked up a short time later by a boat from a British
ship. Second Life is now at the bottom in 500 feet of
water. She can't be recovered, but hopefully it's shallow enough
so cameras can be lowered to find out what happened. I suspect
some kind of hull failure in the area of the mast step."
"Kia Orana from Rarotonga in the Cook Islands," write
John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal of the Seattle-based - but often
moving - Hallberg-Rassy 46 Mahina Tiare. "We had
an easy passage from New Zealand to Raivavae in the Australs
- in fact, it was the first time in eight tries that we didn't
get whacked with at least 60 knots of wind on this leg. Tahiti
and the Society Islands were the quietest we have seen them in
years. The word on the docks is that about 33% fewer boats than
normal have been coming through the South Pacific this year.
In other news, Dominique Goche, owner of Raiatea Carenage and
a Latitude advertiser, is in the process of buying out
The Moorings' minor interest in the boatyard in Raiatea. He has
plans for expanding and improving their services for cruisers.
Rarotonga is as lovely as ever, and with a new addition that
will increase crowded harbor dockspace by about 33%, it will
become a lot more attractive to cruisers. The additional space
should be ready for use in late August. We're not sure if it's
a result of the economy, the war, or both, but for the first
time in 14 years our offshore sail training classes aren't fully
booked. We still have berths on our Vanuatu to Noumea leg, and
from Noumea to Auckland. Folks can check out the details at www.mahina.com. So far this
season we've had two great groups, with a third arriving for
the Rarotonga to Pago Pago passage the day after tomorrow."
Given the horrible way the Class of '02 was treated by officials
in French Polynesia last year, we're surprised that the number
of cruising boats there is only down 33%. If you remember, all
the French consulates had told cruisers they would be able to
get a minimum of 90 days in French Polynesia - just like all
the years before. But when the cruisers showed up, the local
officials pulled the rug out from under them by saying they had
to leave within 30 days as there would be none of the normal
visa extensions. The reason for this sudden and extremely disruptive
change in long term policy was . . . well, there wasn't any reason
at all. It was as though a group of French tourists arrived at
JFK for a two-week tour of New York City - and were told by Immigration
they had to leave the country in 18 hours. Treat people badly,
and they will go elsewhere - especially if they have boats. We
don't have any hard numbers, but it seems to us that a greater
than normal number of cruisers in Mexico headed for Central America
and the Caribbean this year, and fewer than normal headed to
the South Pacific.
Sometimes the first leg is the hardest. We remember the above-mentioned
John Neal telling us the worst passage he's ever had was the
first time he left Seattle headed south aboard his Vega 27 Mahina.
That would sound familiar to 55-year-old Brec Morgan of Block
Island, who recently pulled into St. Martin in the Eastern Caribbean
to complete a four-year solo circumnavigation aboard his Pacific
Seacraft Orion 27 Otter. A direct descendant of the sailing
legend Joshua Slocum, Morgan, who had never been offshore before
the start of his trip, told All At Sea that the worst
part of his circumnavigation was the first three days when he
battled a storm with 55-knot winds.
If anyone is under the impression that the folks in Muslim-dominated
Indonesia don't have the welcome mat out for yachties - and American
yachties in particular - there is plenty of evidence to suggest
otherwise. Twenty-six yachts, the maximum allowed, signed up
for July 26's Indonesian Maritime Tourism Federation's Third
Annual Darwin - Kupang Rally. The fleet includes the following
American yachts: Chalupa, K.P. Chin's Beneteau 38; Danza,
David Nutt's Clark 50; Gemini, Ronald Pedersen's Tanton
44; Happy Now, Dudley Nigg's Island Packet 45; High
Drama, Jeffrey Brooker's 51-ft sloop; and Perky, Carolyn
Watt's Hood 38.
The Indonesian Maritime Tourism Federation is also one of the
main sponsors of the August 2 Darwin to Bali Race, which is part
of the Bali Recovery Program. As most folks remember, a small
group of terrorists killed 202 mostly young Aussie tourists with
several bomb blasts at two nightclubs in Bali on October 12,
2002. Fewer folks will recall that the Darwin to Bali Race had
replaced the venerable Darwin to Ambon Race - which had been
going since 1976, but had to be cancelled because of religious
strife in Ambon. In any event, there are 23 yachts signed up
for the new event, including the following American yachts: Bonheur,
Charles Moore's Taswell 43; Horai, Thomas Vankeuren's
Cheoy Lee 41; Jubileaum, James Huegli's 77-ft motorsailer;
Pegasus, Austin Royale's Tartan 41; Star, Steven
Macedk's Marco Polo 44; and Swan II, David Samuelson's
S&S 43. The plan is for the 25 boats from the rally to Kupang
to continue on to Bali for a combined celebration with the folks
from the Bali Race. The entry fee is $100 for both events, but
in order to make them more enticing, there are cash prizes of
$2,500, the first five days of berthing at Bali Marina will be
free, and the normal $200 in fees for Custom, Immigration, Quarantine,
and Ports will be waived.
Unlike French Polynesia and Mexico - and more like Indonesia
- the island countries of the Caribbean are rapidly realizing
that sailing brings big bucks to their struggling economies.
So in recent years they have been studying ways to nurture this
important part of their tourist economy. Cuthbert Didier, Manager
of the Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia, wrote a paper on developing
yachting business for the U.N.-sponsored Economic Commission
for Latin America and the Caribbean. In his paper, Didier recommended
that the Caribbean countries develop a uniform approach and price
structure for cruising permits. He complained that Martinique
wasn't playing on a level playing field, because "yachtsmen
there don't have to pay cruising fees."
Here's some free market advice Third World countries - cruisers
vote with their keels. Rather than try to force Martinique to
institute expensive cruising permits, the other countries ought
to lower them to be competitive. For if cruisers think a country
is sticking it to them unjustly, they'll tend to sail to some
other country that isn't.
For example, in Dutch St. Maarten the government has spent the
better part of a year trying to institute anchoring fees on cruisers
- $40/month for boats up to 45 feet, $60/month for boats up to
60 feet, all the way up to $340/month for boats over 120 feet.
Foolishly, the government admitted they needed the money to pay
for the widening of the bridge into Simpson Lagoon - something
that was only needed in order accommodate the $10 to $50 million
megayachts. You can imagine how thrilled budget cruisers were
to learn the government wanted them to pay an average of $60/month
merely to make life easier for zillionaires. Many cruisers expressed
their displeasure by moving a short distance to the anchorages
on the French side of the island, where no fees are charged or
contemplated. Naturally, these people took most of their business
to the French side of the island, too. The Dutch still haven't
been able to impose the proposed fees, but it's assumed they'll
try to make them stick during the low season when resistance
will be the weakest.
Since we're talking about that part of the world, guess what
boat was kicking butt in the Cruising Division of Antigua Sailing
Week this year? It was Arawa, an ancient Columbia 50,
sistership to the boat Steve and Linda Dashew circumnavigated
on many years ago. Unfortunately, Arawa was involved in
an collision in the second to last race, which put her owner
in the hospital and a DNF into her score. Nonetheless, the old
Tripp flush deck design took second in the Cruising class - not
bad for a 40-year-old design.
It must be at least 10 years ago that Stephen Schmidt of Saratoga
took his cruising version of a Santa Cruz 70, California Hotel
Too, to the Caribbean. Every couple of years we'd get a letter
from him, and once he even sailed with us on Big O at
Antigua Sailing Week. But we hadn't heard from him in a long
time - until last week when we read that he and his boat had
participated in May's Angostura Sailing Week down in Tobago.
Steve, it appears, had become an old Caribbean hand.
When you cruise, you bump into friends in the strangest places.
About six years ago, when they were at Puerto Williams near Cape
Horn aboard the 54-ft aluminum Polar Mist they had built,
Richard and Sheri Crowe of Newport Beach met and became good
friends with Nicolas and Dominique Drury, who had left France
many years before to mostly cruise the high latitudes aboard
their 32-ft hard chine aluminum sloop Chafki. Well, when
the Crowes brought Alaska Eagle, communications boat for
the TransPac, into the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in July, who was
waiting for them at the dock but their old friends from Cape
Horn, Nicolas and Dominique! They had a grand reunion at the
Indigo restaurant in old town Honolulu.
"We haven't gone around the world, but we are completing
our own little 21,000-mile circumnavigation of the Eastern Pacific
- California, Mexico, Costa Rica, Galapagos, Pitcairn, French
Polynesia, Cook Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington,
Oregon, and California - report John and Candace Yeamans of the
Sea Ray 46 Hydra. Although she may sound like a powerboat,
Hydra is a hard chine aluminum sloop designed by German
Kurt Reinke. Although most popular in Europe, the Yeamans' boat
was built in Vancouver in '73. "She has a great hard-dodger
and three inches of foam insulation, so she is good in the tropics
as well as the higher latitudes," the couple write. "Our
longest passages have been from the Galapagos to Pitcairn Island,
a distance of 2,850 miles which we did in 19 days; and Hawaii
to Sitka, Alaska, 2,450 miles which we did in 22 days. It's always
just the two of us, as we don't sail with crew. We enjoy sailing
to places where, like it or not, you have to be self-sufficient.
Some other sailors think we're odd for having a 46-ft sailboat
with two engines - as well as two alternators and two props -
but we don't mind."
"We were sorry to read in the June issue that Tom and Kathy
Knueppel of Tai Tam II had a hard time getting into Big
French Cay at French Harbor, Roatan," write Capts. John
and Patricia Rains of San Diego. "Unfortunately, they must
have been using an out-of-print edition of our guidebook Cruising
Ports: Florida to California via Panama, because the new
5th edition (2003) contains a new full-page chart on page 167.
The chart shows two GPS approach waypoints, the two safe entrances,
and the new safer routes around the reef and shoals to the free
anchorages, public docks, two marinas, a haul-out yard, and fuel
dock. Even before our 2003 edition was published, we posted that
new chart on the Updates page of our website - which is free
for everyone to use. Nobody can keep up with all the changes
in paradise, but please folks, don't take off cruising with old
guidebooks and uncorrected charts."
Each year we report on the tremendous popularity of the Atlantic
Rally for Cruisers (ARC) from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia
in the Eastern Caribbean. Six months before the November start,
all 225 slots are taken and there is a waiting list. The puzzle
is why their sister event in the late spring, the ARC Europe
- from either Florida or Antigua to Bermuda, the Azores, and
ultimately Portugal - is so much less popular. Only 14 boats
participated this year. If anyone knows what happened to the
other 211 that had sailed west across the Atlantic, please call
World Cruising Ltd, the sponsor of both events, as they'd like
There's a similar phenomenon with the West Marine 1500 and the
West Marine Atlantic Cup. The former is the 1,500-mile rally
from Norfolk, Virginia, to the British Virgins in November. They
usually get about 55 boats, which is a fine turnout. But for
the 850-mile Atlantic Cup back to Bermuda this spring, they drew
a measly seven entries. Maybe once sailors get to the Caribbean,
they realize they don't want to return to the East Coast - with
its snow all winter and this year rain every weekend during the
short summer sailing season. Whatever the case, the most recent
Atlantic Cup winner was David Heaphy with his Baltimore-based
Island Packet 485 Dancing in the Dark.
George Marcotte of the Tiburon-based Nor'Sea 27 Sea of Tranquility
took off under the Golden Gate on July 12 on a singlehanded
voyage to Hawaii. Presumably he knew he was a year early for
the Singlehanded TransPac. Marcotte expected the passage to take
20 to 25 days. We hope to have a report next month.
"This is a heads-up for people with liferafts in canisters
on deck," report Joe Brandt and Jacque Martin of the Alameda-based
Wauquiez 47 Marna Lynn - which is currently at the new
Puerto Del Sol Marina in Nicaragua. "While polishing the
stainless on the boat this week, we noticed that the snap shackle
on the liferaft was a little rusty. I tried to release it, and
discovered that it was frozen shut! It took me about 15 minutes
using WD-40 and some tools to finally get it to release. If we
had to abandon ship and deploy the liferaft in a hurry, we would
have been in big trouble. We will certainly add this item to
our more frequent maintenance list. We are currently in Robert
Membrano's new marina in Nicaragua. It's such a great place that
we've decided to leave our boat here for several months while
we return home for a visit."
"We finished a season of cruising in the Bahamas and are
now back in Fort Lauderdale," report John, Cynthia, and
Mattie the boat dog of the Jeanneau 45 Utopia. "The
Bahamas were all right, but not great. We have decided to sail
to the Caribbean this December and buddyboat with our friends
Fred and Barbara of the Oakland-based Norseman 43 Mistral.
We'll also be looking forward to meeting crews from West Coast
boats that come around from Mexico during the winter. We're happy
to hear that John Haste's San Diego-based Perry 52 catamaran
Little Wing and Latitude's catamaran Profligate
plan to be in the Caribbean. Unlike those two cats, we won't
be making it to St. Barth for New Year's this year, but we'll
be there in 2006.
"You may recall," John and Cynthia continue, "that
a few months back we wrote a letter you published about how expensive
cruising is in the Bahamas. Well, it's just gotten more expensive,
as the Bahamian government is now charging big bucks for cruising
permits - $150 for boats under 35 feet to $300 for larger boats.
And, you have to buy a new permit each time you come to the Bahamas!
The fishermen and cruisers in Florida are really upset, as they
are used to dashing back and forth. Now many of them are planning
on going to the Keys for their cruising and avoiding the Bahamas.
We spent about $4,000 in the Bahamas last year, but we and our
money won't be going back. Who will get hurt the most? The little
guys who depend on us tourists for a living."
"You ain't gonna believe this, but there was a page one
story in a Baja Sur newspaper about a plan to convert the San
Benitos Islands - which are just west of Isla Cedros about halfway
down the Pacific Coast of Baja - to a nuclear waste dump!"
reports Capt. Jim Elfers of Baja. "Apparently the fishing
cooperative based in Ensenada - which controls the lobster and
abalone fishermen on the San Benitos Islands - has gotten wind
of a permit application for a use conversion of this incredible
island group. As much as I love the Baja peninsula, I love her
few offshore islands even more. The San Benitos are an important
breeding ground for the Guadalupe fur seal, Stellar's and California
sea lions, pelagic birds, and much more. If they have to build
a nuclear waste dump, there are more suitable huge tracts on
the Baja peninsula, hundreds of miles from any people or roads.
I have no idea how much truth there is to the report, but government
agencies and contacts were mentioned. A long process and reviews
are necessary for obtaining such a permit, but SERMANAP, the
agency responsible for major ecological reviews, is corrupt.
All the laws necessary to protect the environment and resources
are on the books in Mexico, there just isn't any enforcement."
We don't know if there is any truth to the story either, but
it sort of reminds us of the angry debate on the floor of the
Mexican Senate a number of years ago when it was disclosed that
the federal government had sold a plot of land near remote Punta
Eugenia on the Baja coast to interests from Hong Kong to be a
sovereign territory - like Hong Kong was at the time. According
to a published story, the Asian interests had already started
construction on several 50-story condo towers, and that all but
a couple of floors had already been sold out. While it would
be completely absurd to build condo towers out in the middle
of nowhere, it was during the height of the Hong Kong building
and real estate mania, and people were willing to believe anything.
When somebody finally took the time to look into the story, it
was found to have been started as a prank by a small humor magazine
in the United States. We're not sure if the proposed nuclear
waste dump at the San Benito Islands is a prank, but we doubt
the idea will have a very long half-life.
For folks with small cruising boats, or who need two dinghies,
nesting dinghies are a possible alternative to inflatables. They
separate into two parts, one fitting in the other, for compact
storage. And they can be used as either one big dinghy or two
rather small ones. While up the Napa River over the Fourth of
July, we stopped at Napa Valley Marina to see who might be passionate/crazy
enough to work on their boats on a holiday. One of the guys we
met was Dick Rudolph, who, along with partner Gary Morley, started
building a Brown 40 Searunner trimaran back in '94. They launched
Time Further Out in 2001, and had hauled her again in
preparation of sailing her to San Diego. What interested us most
was the Danny Greene-designed 10'8" nesting dinghy they
also built. In fact, we got Rudolph to pose with it.
"Our Moorings 500 Pizazz was in San Carlos, Mexico,
getting a blister job while we were back in the States from July
of '02 through April '03," report Randy and Laurae Kenoffel,
who, although originally from Northern California, have spent
most of the last seven years in the Caribbean. "Thankfully,
that's all done, we're cruising again - and we're really enjoying
it. We are also hiding out to avoid lawsuits from the estates
of all the bodies of cruisers who followed our advice and transited
the north coast of South America on their way between the Eastern
Caribbean and Panama. After all, we wrote a rough cruising guide
for those waters. Why is it, we wonder, that only the few bad
reports of security problems and/or weather issues get published,
while little or nothing is mentioned about the hundreds of cruisers
who have travelled the north coast of South America with ease?"
That's a good question. We wished we heard more from folks who
had good passages along that stretch of coast - particularly
since Profligate may soon be trying to take the same route.
"Today, I was fired as the adventure coordinator of my 46-ft
catamaran Capricorn Cat," reports Vallejo's Blair
Grinols from Waya Island, Fiji. "It's all because I hired
a guide to take us on a hike 2,000 feet up Eagle Peak Mountain,
from which we would get a view of the other islands. About a
quarter of the way up, we started to wonder where the trail was.
There was no trail, and we had to hike straight up the side of
a volcanic mountain! There were times when I thought we were
all going to die. The rock climbers on Yosemite's Half Dome have
nothing on us. Our guide, the chief's grandson, was only 19 and
very nice. I thought he was teasing me when he kept saying it
was the first time he has ever taken anyone up to Eagle Peak.
It got so bad that poor Courtney had to have the other guide
take her back down after getting three-quarters of the way up
as she became sick from the elevation. The views were spectacular
if you dared to look down, but I got dizzy every time that I
did. We hugged the edge of a cliff most of the way up, crawling
on all fours straight up the rock face. We ran into several mountain
goat herds and a baby goat hiding in some bushes. After climbing
straight up for 90 minutes, we made it to the top. What a view!
Capricorn Cat looked like a speck in the bay. You could
see all the surrounding reefs and the different colors they made
in the ocean. It was well worth the hike - I think. I only say
that now that we've made it back alive. We also saw an eagle
flying overhead, hence the name.
We're a little unclear on where he started, but it seems that
Bill Teplow of Berkeley - who last summer sailed Chubby,
his West Wight Potter 19, singlehanded to Hawaii - has now sailed
the same little boat up the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert.
While there he has been marveling at photos of fish from the
turn of the previous century, "salmon taller than the men
holding them, and halibut eight feet or longer . . ."
Enough talk, let's get cruising!