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September 2011

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  With reports this month on boat bottom cleaning techniques in Zanzibar; from Balena on a singlehanded passage to the Marquesas; from Taiga on moving from a monohull to a cat cruising in the Bahamas; from Kailani on the 10,000-mile delivery of a new cruising home; from Scarlett O'Hara on getting ready to sail to Africa; from Profligate on a Baja Bash; and Cruise Notes.

Clean and 'Green' Bottoms
Craig Anderson
Zanzibar, Tanzania
(Costa Mesa)

While at Zanzibar, which is mostly two Catalina-sized islands 20 miles off the East African country of Tanzania, of which Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region, I watched the ultimate in 'green' boat bottom cleaning. Green in that the bottoms were cleaned without using any paint, let alone any biocide suspended in the paint.

The Zanzibar fishermen — there are many in a country where the average annual income is just $250 — use recycled palm thatch to burn the algae off the bottoms of their dhows every quarter. They believe the algae to be host to worms, which if allowed to become established in the sides of their mahagony hulls, would truly create havoc. To top it off, they rub a combination of ground up animal bones and oil into the hulls.

These traditional dhows are seen everywhere along the coast of East Africa, and are still being built today. The hull planks are bent using sandbags, while the ribs come from mangrove trees that are shaped using an adz.

I was informed that 10 to 15 years is the average lifespan of a fishing dhow, after which the wood is recycled into furniture — often beds. Wherever I traveled in Kenya and Tanzania, I saw roadside carpenters producing king-size beds, often displayed in a line along roads in the manner of used cars.

Zanzibar Quiz: Who is the most famous person to have come from Zanzibar? That would be the charismatic Farrokh Bulsara — better known as Freddy Mercury, lead singer of the rock group Queen, who died of AIDS in 1991.

— craig 08/05/11

Balena — Westsail 32
Joel Kellogg
Singlehanded to the Marquesas
(Battle Creek, MI)

Bonjour! Singlehanded Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to the Marquesas in my twenties on my own boat. Check! I write this while at anchor at Taiohae Bay on the south side of Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas. This was a very green and lush landfall after the 33 days I spent enroute. Taiohae features steep cliffs, tall palms, warm breezes, and quite a roomy anchorage with good holding.

Upon arrival, I went ashore to try out my 'land legs'. They didn't fare so well for the first few meters. In fact, I had to hold on to a nearby tree for a bit until the land stopped 'moving' so much. I have felt a little wobbly after being at sea for long spells before, but this was by far the most difficult time I've had walking when not intoxicated. As I slowly made my way to town, a young French fellow who spoke broken English asked if I was all right. He said I appeared to be quite drunk.

The fellow helped me out by buying me a beer and introducing me to the captain of the research vessel Tara, on which he was serving as the cook. Tara apparently does plankton and coral research as they circumnavigate under sail. I was invited aboard, fed a pasta of sorts, and given a tour before rowing back out to Balena. Yes, on the first night after a Pacific crossing, I ate aboard another boat. Pretty funny.

As I rowed back to Balena, I passed a Canadian couple aboard West by North, who invited me for coffee the next morning. They turned out to be Val and Gerry, who are on the last legs of their 18-year circumnavigation! After a surprisingly restless night — so many new sounds to investigate since they weren't covered up by the background noise of being underway — I rowed over to the Canadian boat, where I was served coffee and pancakes. I had a much needed conversation in English, and was given a few gifts — including a machete for chopping coconuts and a chain claw for taking strain off my anchor chain, with a shackle and a piece of nylon rode to use with the claw. I was most appreciative.

Overall, I had a good first leg. One major lesson I learned the very hard way is that when you're sailing the trans-equatorial route from the West Coast of the U.S. to French Polynesia, it's very important not to cross the ITCZ farther west than 130 degrees. I knew this, of course, but decided it was best to just go where the wind was — which unfortunately put me in a very uncomfortable close-hauled situation when the SE trades presented themselves. For a spell, I was looking at not even making the Marquesas, and for a day or two could only make westing — which at that point would have had me making landfall somewhere in the Line Islands. After I'd been beating for three or four days, the thought of another 15 days of doing the same was not good for onboard morale. Eventually the wind did back to the east, and I was able to pound far enough to the south to make Nuku Hiva.

During my crossing I was subjected to just about every sailing condition possible — with the exception of a real storm, which I was glad to avoid. My having not sailed Balena very much before taking off, the crossing turned out to be a perfect learning experience with plenty of reaching, sailing downwind in light to heavy winds, riding out squalls, drifting — and that God-awful sailing to weather.

I was impressed with my Westsail 32, but not that impressed with the way I'd done some of the rigging. For example, it took a lot of unnecessary effort to reduce sail. It appears that there are a few things that I must change or repair due to my stupid-ass set-ups. Fortunately, nothing of importance was broken and I didn't sustain any injuries, so I think my first long passage was a success.

That is not to say I don't need to make a handful of fixes before continuing on around the island. The starboard fuel tank, for instance, has an air leak, my charging system has become buggered, and I need to retune the standing rigging. Once those jobs are done, and I've taken on water and reprovisioned, I'll be good to continue on to Daniel's Bay to check out the ancient ruins and what is said to be the second tallest waterfall in the world.

The locals here in Nuku Hiva have been very friendly. For example, I've been told that if you admire someone's fruit tree, they will respond by overloading you with fruit. Checking into French Polynesia was painless — except that you're required to put up a $1,400 U.S. bond. You do get your money back when you leave — in a big stack of Central Pacific Francs. The problem is that you'll be leaving the country, after which the CPFs won't do you any good. I tried to contact my bank to arrange payment of the bond, but ran out of minutes before they could clear the account for use. In the process, I learned that you can't call off Nuku Hiva without a calling card. The net result is that the French will not be receiving a bond payment from this sailor.

I have to admit that there were many moments on my crossing when I wondered what I had been thinking by undertaking such a voyage, but the first landfall has been more than I could have hoped for, and I'm very happy to have gotten underway. Communicating via with my family by SSB email made a big difference in my being able to enjoy the trip. I also received weather updates from Nathan, an old shipmate of mine. Knowing that someone was watching out for weather problems that come my way provided much relief.

I am very thankful for the opportunity I have to sail the finest cruising area in the world with a good boat at such a young age and in good health. With a whole world of exploration at my fingertips, I couldn't be happier. Au revoir!

— joel 08/05/11

Taiga — Catana 44
Jack and Sherri Hayden
Ha-Ha to Bahamas, Mono to Cat
(Fairbanks, Alaska)

We are vets of the '99 Ha-Ha with what was our then new-to-us Morgan 382 Taiga. We bought the boat from a couple who had gone to great expense to outfit her for a Pacific cruise. But after sailing to Kauai, they hired a captain to bring her back to Port Townsend, where they put her up for sale. After buying Taiga, we had her trucked down to San Diego, where we got to sail her just once before the start of the Ha-Ha.

Since then, until last November — 10 years — we kept Taiga in the Sea of Cortez and commuter cruised. We owned a wilderness lodge in Alaska, and during the off-season of each year, meaning October through February, we'd sail the islands between La Paz and Bahia Concepcion. We based our Morgan out of La Paz the first year, but Puerto Escondido after that. She survived three hurricanes afloat while at Escondido, but we'd taken great pains to check out the mooring and the pennant.
We really loved our times in the Sea of Cortez, made a lot of good friends, and learned how and when to sail with the blue, fin, and humpback whales that come to the islands each January/February. On one occasion we had a fin whale calf rest in the shade of our boat, close enough for us to touch while his mom went deep.

Last November we sold the Morgan to a longtime sailing friend in Puerto Escondido and bought a used Catana 44 in Norfolk, Virginia. We were able to head south aboard our new Taiga on December 10, at which time the East Coast was under a prolonged cold snap that also featured strong winds and high seas at Cape Hatteras. So we were grateful to be able to take advantage of the Intracoastal Waterway that starts at Mile '0' in downtown Norfolk right after you pass America's biggest naval base.

We thought the ICW was totally cool! The northernmost section, which had been surveyed by George Washington, passes through the Great Dismal Swamp into North Carolina. There wasn't much traffic at that time of year, so we were able to find anchorages in places that normally would be crowded.

Much of the waterway passes through really wild country, and we enjoyed the lovely small towns. But it was COLD! We stopped at several marinas that had no water at the docks because the pipes had frozen. We spent Christmas in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where the dock water was frozen. In fact, it snowed on us on Christmas Day. Our daughter Katie, who had flown down from Fairbanks, Alaska, thought it was hilarious.

Taiga's mast is 64 feet tall, so several times we had to wait for the tide to drop in order to slip beneath some of the bridges on the ICW. Even so, we tickled the VHF antenna on the bottom of some of the girders of the bridges.

We didn't get our first warm day until we made it all the way down to St. Augustine, Florida, which is mile 776 on the Waterway. But what a fabulous town — the oldest in North America, with the oldest fort! — that is for sailors. We took a city mooring for $10/night, and dinked in to celebrate Katie's 21st. The town is tourist-friendly, and has lots of great restaurants and bars with live music in buildings dating from the 1700s and 1800s. We loved St. Augustine so much that we made a point to stop off there on our way back north.

Crossing the river bars into and out of the Atlantic can be a challenge. In fact, we made two different entrances riding breaking waves. But with a cat, they proved to be a piece of cake.

Our trip to the Exumas kicked off from Ft. Lauderdale, after we had waited a week for fair wind to cross the Gulf Stream. We departed for Bimini, the closest island to the Florida coast, on a dying north wind that was forecast to go west, then southwest, something that would have been contrary to the normal clocking pattern. Sure enough, that didn't happen. By the time we entered the main current of the Gulf Stream about 10 miles offshore, conditions were ugly with the wind against the current, resulting in a sea state similar to when a Norther blows in the Sea of Cortez. We'd never sailed on a cat before we bought Taiga, so we were surprised by the lively ride that resulted when six-foot beam seas hit the hulls in succession. The wave period was perfect to put one hull on the crest of a wave just as the other was in the trough. We had to really hang on!

The wind finally backed about two hours out, so the waves abated considerably. We made the 44-mile crossing in about 6 hours, which isn't a great VMG, but we had a 5-knot current to cross, so boat speed was about 8 knots.

The Exuma Cays are the part of the Bahamas that are south of the Abacos and Nassau. From Bimini, we sailed 78 miles ESE dead downwind under spinnaker across the Great Bahama Bank. What a gas that was on a cat, as it's so easy to set and douse a chute on the expansive foredeck with our 'Otto' driving the boat. Before we set the chute, we put two reefs in the main to support the mast from aft — then let her rip!

We left Bimini about noon, and sailed on into the dark, then directly into a rising full moon. The wind varied by maybe a couple of knots at around 16 to 18 knots, during which time we made 10 to 12 knots with the boards up. Around midnight the wind dropped off, so we sailed off the rhumbline a bit, and dropped the hook in 12 feet of water — which is the average depth all the way across the bank. After years of sailing in deep water, it felt pretty creepy to be skimming over the bottom hour after hour. But it didn't take us long to discover the joys of lying face down on the tramp, looking for conch and seeing the rays and fish flash by.

The next morning, we headed directly across the northeast Tongue of the Ocean, which is very deep, to the Exumas Bank, and anchored at West Bay, New Providence Island, our first stop in the Exumas. It's not recommended by the cruising guides, but we found a great anchorage surrounded by lovely beachfront homes. While there, we connected to an unencrypted WiFi link, and thus got the news of the birth of our first grandson in Saipan. He'd been born during the previous night's spinnaker run!

From there, we motorsailed upwind into the prevailing easterlies to Highbourne Cay, where we snorkeled with Caribbean reef sharks, barracuda and lots of colorful reef fish. Nearby Alan's Cay is home to pink-skinned iguanas that are pretty aggressive about wanting a handout — because cruise ships bring passengers ashore with heads of lettuce to feed them.

From Highbourne Cay, we slowly worked our way southeast down the cays, taking advantage of favorable winds and skipping the more crowded anchorages for solitude. With the boards up, our Catana draws 42 inches at the rudders, so we were able to work our way into some great spots that other boats had to bypass. And as you can observe anywhere, the majority of mariners congregate in the marinas or in nearby protected anchorages, so in spite of the considerable number of boats in the Bahamas in the winter, we still had lots of opportunities to visit uncrowded places. And it's at the out-of-the-way places that you meet the more adventuresome sailors, isn't it? And they love to share their own secret places with like-minded sailors.

Because of time constraints, we turned back for Florida from just north of Georgetown. Next winter we plan to head down quickly to where we left off, and gunkhole our way further south to Long Island, then up the eastern side of Exuma Sound to Cat Island, Eleuthera, and the smaller islands, before jumping off from Spanish Wells for the return to Florida next March.

All the GPS charting programs have waypoints for safe passages in these shallow waters, and many sailors follow the straight lines so religiously that they will pass each other by mere feet rather than veer off course even a little. It can lead to some interesting VHF exchanges. We used the waypoints as turning points, but usually sailed off the rhumbline to get better wind angles. We also saw four sailboats go aground together coming into Bimini because they ignored the floating channel markers. Even though their GPS course took them through three-foot breaking waves onto a sandbar that had drifted from its previous position, they weren't going to change course. They were eventually pulled off by locals in runabouts, who were happy for the business. So much for blindly following the electronic wizard.

We'll report on our return trip to Florida in the next issue.

— jack & sherri 08/04/11

Kailani — Deerfoot 63
Harley, Jennifer and Sophia Earl
The 10,000-mile Delivery

Just before noon on June 30, after nine months and 9,974 miles enroute from Marmaris, Turkey, our new-to-us Kailani sailed through the Golden Gate to her new home at Paradise Cay in Tiburon. There were five legs to the delivery: Turkey to Palma de Mallorca; Mallorca to St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean, a trip that because of extremely light winds saw us nearly run out of provisions on the 26th day; St. Lucia to Panama. Panama to Cabo; and Cabo to San Francisco.

The last leg of the delivery was halted at Half Moon Bay so that many of the 13 crew who had helped bring Kailani to her new home could enjoy the last few miles to the Gate and into the Bay. As had been the case for the bash up from Cabo to San Diego, and the leg north from San Diego, the weather was benign to the last. In fact, we saw no breeze on that last day until it freshened just a quarter of a mile west of the bridge, at which point we reached into the Bay under plain sail on the last of the flood.

Why buy a boat that was 10,000 miles away? We knew we wanted a Dashew design, and there just weren't that many of the older — and therefore less expensive — Deerfoots around. The one in Turkey happened to have the three-cabin layout that was important to us. We also liked the fact that she'd been built by Salthouse Boatbuilders in New Zealand of fiberglass rather than aluminum. If we had to do it over again, there's a good chance we might compromise on some of the things we wanted, buy a boat closer to home, and maybe have a yard do a few modifications.

People ask us how the Deerfoot compares with the Hans Christian 41 Manu Kai on which my wife Jennifer and I did a circumnavigation from '03-'06. My analogy is that it's like comparing a Porsche SUV with a Volkswagen SUV. Kailani is quite a bit longer, of course, and because her original Great Lakes owner wanted her to be faster than her sisterships, she has several more feet on the keel and seven more feet on the mast. Naturally, she's bigger inside, but probably not as much as most people think, as Dashew boats always have a lot of storage space forward and aft.

Jennifer and I, along with our three-year-old Sophia, have subsequently been converting Kailani from a vessel being delivered to our new home. This has involved lots of cleaning, sorting and re-stowing, and sprucing up below.

In May of next year, I'll be sailing Kailani off to the South Pacific under charter to Manu Kai Ocean Adventures. Once I'm there, Jennifer and Sophia will join me for some South Pacific family cruising before chartering again to MKOA for the leg to New Zealand in November. Our charter guests will be gap year students, people looking for offshore miles, and other adventurers. After waiting out the cyclone season, Kailani will make her way back up to the Bay Area in time for the America's Cup on San Francisco Bay in the summer of '13.

After '13, our cruising will be all about the education of our daughter. The kids Jennifer and I met while we were circumnavigating were so clear-eyed, bright, and mature, and each one of them could contribute to a conversation with adults around a table. That so impressed us, as well as how well they placed when they re-entered their respective school systems, that we're going to cruise our boat according to Sophia's education.

— harley 08/10/11

Scarlett O'Hara - Serendipity 43
John and Renee Prentice
Down to One Option
(San Diego)

Everything has changed for potential circumnavigators who are here in Southeast Asia following the murders of Scott and Jean Adam of the Marina del Rey-based Davidson 58 Quest and their Seattle crew Robert Riggle and Phyllis Macay earlier this year by Somali pirates. The pirate situation remains very bad in the Arabian Sea, so no boats plan on going up the Red Sea to the Med at this time. That leaves only one route west, which is around South Africa.

This means that the next leg of our trip will be huge. Right now we're at Rebak Marina in Malaysia, but plan to sail a couple of hundred miles back up to Thailand for the fall and winter season. After returning to Langkawi in February to provision for the big trip across the Indian Ocean, we'll set sail for South Africa via Sumatra, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, the Chagos Archipelago, Mauritius, and Reunion, hopefully arriving at Richard's Bay, South Africa, in October. The plan is to round the Cape of Good Hope by January of '13, and head to the Caribbean.

Rebak Marina has turned out to be a good place to complete repairs before heading off again. The rigging is now fixed, with new stainless steel turnbuckles. The deck is better after our having drilled 25 holes in it, filling the holes with epoxy and fiberglass, then repainting it. We've also chased down the inside leak, and have repainted the ceiling panels and varnished the interior trim.

In the middle of all this work, we made a 'visa run' to Singapore, as we must leave Malaysia every 90 days to get new visas. We needed to get our EPIRB fitted with a new 5-year battery, so we had to travel by land, as you are not allowed to fly with EPIRBS. It was quite the adventure, as we took a ferry from Rebak to Langkawi, a cab to the ferry terminal in Kuah town, then a ferry across the channel to mainland Malaysia. After eating at Kentucky Fried Chicken, we boarded an overnight bus from Kuala Perlis to Johor Bahru, the second largest city in Malaysia. Fortunately, it was a very nice bus with large reclining seats, and only six of the 24 seats were occupied.

Johor is home to Danga Bay Marina, so we stopped in for a few days to see our good friends and vets of the '04 Ha-Ha, Jerry and Kathy McGraw of the Newport Beach-based Peterson 44 Po'oino Roa. Then it was off to Singapore, which is only about a mile across the causeway from Johor. The process of checking out of Malaysia, getting onto a bus to the Singapore side, then checking into Singapore, and getting back on the bus to the MRT subway that took us 20 miles to town, took only 90 minutes. We luckily found the company to do our EPIRB battery fairly easily, despite the weird way buildings are numbered in Singapore.

We then spent two days in Singapore. Having been there once before, we made reservations at a new hotel near the shops we hoped to visit. The hotel was located on the MRT line, so travel around Singapore was exceptionally easy for us. We can't say enough good things about the MRT and Singapore, which is the cleanest big city we've ever visited, and which seems incredibly safe. They do have strict laws governing everything from spitting on the sidewalk to drugs. You really don't want to do these things in Singapore.

We visited the tourist area of Clark Quay the first evening, and had some wonderful Mexican food while sitting at a fantastic riverside table. It was a marvelous setting. We spent the next day wandering the city searching for hard-to-find items such as DVD cables, batteries, good crackers and such. Then we took the monorail to Sentosa Island, where Universal Studios is located, along with some good restaurants, shops and beaches. We were so wiped out that we didn't make it to the night zoo, so we reversed our path back to Rebak — and back to boat projects.

— renee and john

Profligate — Surfin' 63
The Wanderer And De Mallorca
The Baja Bash

We're not gentlemen — and we can prove it. For the second time in three years, we've just completed a 1,000-mile Baja Bash — because we started in Puerto Vallarta. And as everybody knows, gentlemen don't bash to weather.

It being so late in the season, we figured that all we had to do was avoid the hurricanes — Dora and Eugene were never serious threats — and we'd be able to finish the Bash in six days of mellow weather. Ha!

Based on GRIB files, it looked as though we'd start with an easy 275-mile putt up to Cabo San Lucas. Unfortunately, GRIB files don't forecast the flu. Less than 12 hours into the crossing, we got the dry heaves, and for the next 18 hours tried to puke out stuff that just wasn't there.

We recovered about 40 miles southeast of Cabo, just in time to get walloped by winds to 35 knots which the forecasts had somehow missed. Commander's Weather later told us that it had been due to massive thunderstorms moving up the Sea of Cortez to Arizona, creating a greater than normal pressure disparity between the Pacific and the Sea. All we can say is that if you're going to get 'fire hosed' with spray every 30 seconds in the middle of the night, it's nice when that spray is 80 degrees.

When we finally dropped the hook off Mango's, it was 3 a.m., quiet as a mouse, and calm so close to shore. The quiet was broken shortly after dawn — and until late in the afternoon — by fishing boats, an astonishing onslaught of recklessly operated Jet Skis, and the DJs at the various beach bars hollering "Who wants to win a free round of shots?" When we first sailed to Cabo in '77, there was just a bus stop and a tent on the main beach. It's not like that anymore.

Licking our wounds for the next 36 hours, we were surprised to find ourselves actually liking Cabo a bit. We walked to the TelCel office and got a new data card to go with our new Mac Pro. We checked how significantly lower the price of Delo 300 oil is the farther you get from the marina chandlery. Then, on the 'wrong' side of Camino Lazaro Cardenas, we found a friendly place that served delicious food at local prices. We also bumped into the Boren family of the Port San Luis-based Hudson 51 ketch Third Day. Parents Rich and Laurie had previously thought that after three years in Mexico, they'd finally return to the States this summer with son Jason and daughter Amy. But the more they thought about it, the less attractive the idea sounded. So they had driven down from their boat in La Paz to get their visas renewed in Cabo.

What we enjoyed most of all was just sitting on the boat and enjoying — after all the Jet Ski people had gone back to their rooms — the beautiful setting in Bahia Cabo San Lucas. It's a little harder to appreciate these days, with all the development, but Cabo still has a little natural magic. The wonder of it all was the tremendous variety to be found in the 30+ fleet of sunset cruise boats that took to the water each night.

We take that back. The real wonder of it all was the bit of ersatz Americana we saw when we swam to shore to enjoy a sundowner. Mango's just happened to be having a wet t-shirt contest when we arrived. We need not have worried that they wouldn't be able to find any willing contestants on a Tuesday afternoon, because driven by either a powerful need for attention or the $100 first prize, there wasn't a shortage.

Indeed, two of the entrants were vivacious, sophisticated, tat-free sisters in their early 20s from Southern California. Although both the girls were rather flat-chested for such a competition, they were both very attractive and in terrific shape. They knew they were hot, but they were very good-natured about it. Weirdly, their titillating the horn-dog crowd was enthusiastically cheered on by dad and mom — the latter thankfully turning down the daughters' request that she join them in the competition — and a perplexed looking 10-year-old brother. The 18-year-old brother didn't have time to cheer, because his sisters had demanded that he be drafted for the job of wetting their boobs and those of the other contestants.

It was a spirited competition, as the younger sis tried to outdo her older sibling by prancing all about, flashing the crowd, and repeatedly engaging in lesbo kissing bouts with a fellow competitor from Calgary. As bewitching as the younger sister was, she started her 30-second act by running across the stage and executing a perfect handstand flip right onto the lap of the judge! Eat your heart out Mary Lou Retton. But nobody was swayed, and the more sophisticated — but still very naughty — older sis was awarded the $100. The entire family seemed delighted with the outcome.

That was about all we could take of American-style family togetherness in Cabo, so we took off at dawn the next morning. We got hammered by winds close to 30 knots rounding Falso, but as often happens, conditions mellowed 10 miles up the coast.

Not caring what the GRIB files had forecast, that night the wind and seas decided to act up near Tosca. We briefly thought about anchoring under the Tosca Light, but it was a black night, and neither the Tosca Light nor our depthsounder was working. Then, too, we remembered being anchored in Cabo years ago when the Kiwi delivery crew on the C&C 61 Triumph anchored at Tosca one night — and ended up on the beach the next morning. Our solution was to just put the donks in neutral and drift. We drifted to leeward at an alarming four knots until we put the helm hard over, reducing the speed of the drift by 50 percent. After we'd power napped for about two hours, the wind and seas backed off, and we motored into Bahia Santa Maria at about noon the next day.

We spent 36 hours at BSM, which seemed oddly vacant without the 150 or so Ha-Ha boats we normally see there. During our stay, Joe and Christie Hague of the Ventura-based Aleutian 51 Nordica, also sitting out weather, came over for an afternoon of socializing. What great folks! They told about leaving their boat unattended on the hook in Zihua, then renting cars to drive down to Huatulco and inland to Patzcuaro — and loving it. They'd had the boat hauled in Puerto Escondido, Baja, and originally intended to leave her there for the summer. After a change in plans, they called Elvin at PEMS, got him to shuffle a few boats in the crowded yard, prep the bottom, and launch Nordica on short notice.

It turns out that Christie was being a bit of a naughty nurse. She'd just had neck surgery and wasn't supposed to subject her neck to any banging around. Not that there would be any of that on a Baja Bash. We enjoyed meeting Joe and Christie, and looked forward to having dinner with them up at Turtle Bay. Alas, we were doing nine knots past Turtle Bay at sunrise a couple of days later, so there was no way we were going to stop.

Knowing that Cedros Village on Cedros Island was a port of entry, we figured it could be — despite what the cruising guides said — a port of exit too. So we pulled in and hailed the port captain on the radio. A short time later, Isaac Lopez, the friendly port captain, pulled up in a truck. De Mallorca leaped off the bow of the cat onto the cement dock, and away they went.

As the clearing out process continued in his office, Lopez told de Mallorca that he is disappointed that some cruisers feel they aren't welcome at Cedros Village, and that some are under the impression that Cedros is somehow dangerous. Lopez said neither of those things is true, and that he hopes that many cruisers will stop at Cedros Village. In fact, he said that if he were given two week's notice, he could have plenty of clean diesel available. The little harbor at Cedros offers great protection.

Rather than anchoring, we motored in circles for about half an hour as Capt. Mallorca took care of the paperwork. Before long, a family of about six appeared on the dock waving their arms. They'd come down because it appeared as though we might need help, and they wanted to do what they could. How very Mexican of them! It turns out they were from the San Fernando Valley, and were down at Cedros on a two-week vacation. "We love it here," said Carlos, "as the people and fishing are great. We just catch the plane from Ensenada."

With the weather looking good, and the port captain confirming that it was a propitious time to go north, we pushed on. Nonetheless, that night we got the slam-bams again, and had to go way out of our way to give Sacramento Reef a wide berth in the dark. A little beat up by the time the sun had come up and the winds eased, we and de Mallorca discussed which of the several upcoming anchorages we'd stop at. But every time we came to an anchorage, we'd just keep going. It's hard to stop the 'mo'.

The last anchorage was Colnett, and skipping it too turned out not to be the best idea, because six hours later we were getting lambasted by strong winds and some of the sloppiest seas we've seen this side of the Potato Patch. It was a frothy cauldron. Ironically, Profligate seemed aloof to the conditions, handling them with much more aplomb than she does the smaller but more rhythmic stuff. Oddly enough, after the wind increased from about 25 to 30 knots or more, the seas became flatter. It must of had something to do with the current and then the lack of it. Once again the autopilot couldn't keep the boat on course with both daggerboards up, so we had to drive from outside again. Fortunately, it wasn't a cold night.

In the wee hours we pulled into Ensenada's Marina Coral, where Marina Manager Hilda Moreno had her night guard ready with a flashing light to guide us in to the fuel dock. Ms. Moreno runs a very friendly and efficient operation, and the diesel was only $3.40 a gallon. We can see ourselves stopping there again.

The following afternoon we checked in at the Police Dock in San Diego, then proceeded to our summer base at Driscoll's Boatyard on Shelter Island, where we have many good friends and the action never stops.

De Mallorca seemed embarrassed by the fact that we'd taken 10 days to complete the 1,000-mile Bash from P.V. What's more, she seemed to think the Wanderer, of all people, was to blame. "I've done about 12 of these Bashes with Profligate, and this one was the slowest yet," she groused. "If I'd had my regular crew, we never would have stopped."

Well, bully for her. If it had been up to us, and we hadn't had deadlines, we would have gladly taken a month to do the Bash. So much nature, so few people — who could ask for more?

After just a couple of days of the hubbub of the States, and getting to visit with our kids, we started missing Mexico. Badly. Fortunately, we had something to console us — it was less than three months to the start of Ha-Ha XVIII. We can't wait to be heading back south, and hope that you'll be joining us at the starting line of the 'Barely Legal' Ha-Ha.

— latitude/rs 09/07/11

Cruise Notes:

"The famous Club Nautico de Manga of Cartagena, Colombia, is no more," reports Sam Burns of San Jose-based Catalina 380 Southernaire, who was recently there for three weeks with his Colombian wife Alicia and their daughter Andrea. Burns first arrived in Cartagena in '93 aboard his Irwin 30 Grasshopper. He met Alicia while there, and the two of them went into the baby products — Snugli-type carriers, baby gates, Lego-type toys — business in Colombia and Venezuela. After Andrea was born in '99, they moved to the Bay Area and went boatless.

"After the Club Nautico clubhouse was leveled, only the docks and the Capitania office remain," continues Burns. "That means the few anchor-outs who remain have no restrooms, shower, laundry, or other facilities, so they are uniformly unhappy. Despite the lack of facilities, Club Nautico owner Candelaria Trucco still collects dock fees — typically $40/week — from the 30 or so boats that are still docked there. Longtime Dockmaster John Halley has moved on, leaving Candelaria's son to run what's left of the operation. The street view of the future of the club is that both the township and Candelaria have lawyered up, and therefore 'justice' will be served after the standard five-year delay in the courts. Make that 'Creole-style justice', the main tenet of which is "them that got are them that get."

"The 'smart money' view," continues Burns, "is that since the Club never owned property or right-of-way to the bay, it was essentially a squatter operation subject to whatever concession the township was willing to grant. And I know for a fact that Cartagena is cracking down on squatters. Two other nearby sites for competing 'yacht clubs' are in planning stages, undoubtedly with a vested interest in eliminating budget-cruiser competition such as Club Nautico. In other news, Cartagena is expanding prodigiously, with exploding private vehicle ownership, which has resulted in jammed roads. Nonetheless, the historic city retains its charm, friendly and engaging natives, great beer, and terrific restaurants galore."

"As for ourselves, after a long time without a boat, we purchased the Catalina 309 Southernaire, which took me to Hanalei Bay in the '10 Singlehanded TransPac."

So for all intents and purposes, no more Club Nautico. No more Panama Canal YC. No more Pedro Miguel Boat Club. And no more Balboa YC — at least such as it was in its glory days. Things sure have changed in that part of the cruising world, and in our opinion, not for the better.

Greg and Debbie Dorland have been cruising the East Coast of the United States aboard their Tahoe-based Catana 52 Escapade, and have found the Northeast to be more to their liking than the Chesapeake. "Newport has been a gas!" Greg says. "We arrived just in time to see the start of the TransAtlantic Race, and can't believe the number of spectacular boats that pass by, or the number of bars on the more-than-250-year-old Bannister's Wharf. But we're now here at Martha's Vineyard, where President Obama is expected to arrive at any minute. We haven't yet received our invitation to join him and his family at their vacation compound, but it should come any time."

The Northeast, of course, doesn't have reliably fine weather. While at Provincetown, for example, the Dorlands rode out 30- to 35-knot winds on the hook. "It was so rough that we had to stay on the boat and watch a movie and the dog had to pee on the last transom step. In addition to periodic rain, we gave up on going to Maine because everyone said it was too cold. As much as we like the Northeast, we'd rather be back in the Caribbean and warm — which is where we're headed next."

There's sad news out of Palmerston Atoll in the Cook Islands, as American's Frank and Gail — last name unknown — lost their 42-ft sloop RiRi — type of boat and hailing port unknown — on a reef after the loop on the mooring she'd been secured to apparently failed. The locals, who were said to have just checked all the moorings, are reported to be almost as devastated as Frank and Gail. We hope to get more factual information on this unfortunate incident for the next issue of Latitude.

We're not talking about the fact that Lady Gaga just spent a couple of days surfing at Punta Mita, the same place where Kim Kardashian and her new hubby Kris Humphries famously frolicked on the beach, or where surfing legend Gerry Lopez periodically gives yoga and surfing instruction. No, we're talking about the sailing and sailing-related excitement that's brewing on Banderas Bay. For instance, the sailing portion of the 28-nation Pan American Games will be based out of the Vallarta YC at Paradise Beach Resort & Marina in Nuevo Vallarta October 10-24. You can't have games such as these without a torch, and late on the afternoon of October 7, two of the people who will be bearing the torch will be Graziano, the brilliant developer and hands-on manager of the Resort, and Harbormaster Dick Markie. Oufitted in a Pan American Games track shirt and shorts, Graziano will run with the torch from the resort's amphitheater, through the lobby of the hotel, and out to the pyramid at the entrance. The torch will then be passed on to Markie, who will take it from there to the bridge near the entrance to the oceanfront peninsula, where he will pass it along to someone else. If you're in the area, you won't want to miss it.

After passing the torch, workaholic Graziano will no doubt rush back to work, as one of his newest buildings will soon become home to both the San Javier Centro Medico Turistico, which is a branch of one of the most prestigious teaching hospitals in Mexico, and a casino. The hospital will specialize in tourist medicine — meaning things like hip and knee replacements, and various nips and tucks ­— while the 22,000-sq.-ft. casino will specialize in fun and games. Markie categorically denies rumors that some slot machines will pay off in various medical procedures, such as three cherries winning a boob job. In addition to the hospital and casino, Graziano is opening up another large housing development, digging six new wells, and building a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant. He's also bought Markie a big dredge with a 10-inch suction pipe, all the better to keep the channel into Nuevo Vallarta deeper and clearer than ever.

Speaking of hospitals, Laurie Ailworth of the Vallarta YC and others were recently given a tour of the new Mari-Med Hospital that's opened up near Marina Vallarta. Ailworth and others say they were blown away by the state-of-the-art equipment at the new facility, and the fact that patients can reserve the spectacular Presidential Suite for little more than what it would cost them to sit on a broken chair for several hours waiting to see a doctor in the emergency room at S.F. General.

Given the state of the world economy, it's hard to believe that more resorts and condos are still being built on the north shore of Banderas Bay, and that more Americans and Mexicans — including many professionals from Guadalajara — are moving full-time to the still relatively small village of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. But it's true. Indeed, ground has just been broken on a new four-lane road from La Cruz to Punta Mita, all the better for the Lady Gagas and Kims to get to their places at the tip of the bay. As for La Cruz, home to the Marina Riviera Nayarit, it will no doubt be repainted again just before March's Copa de Mexico sailing regatta, as that is slated to be the last big bash of the six-year term of Mexican President Felipe Calderon — who loves sailing. The Copa will coincide with the finish of the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race, the MEXORC, and the Banderas Bay Regatta. Big money will be spent, so if you're in the area, you might want to be part of the fun.

In addition, Pedro Fernandez de Valle, one of the owners of the Marina Riviera Nayarit, has promised not only a pool by the ocean before the start of the cruising season in November, but a big 'Cruise to La Cruz' event to attract this year's cruisers to Banderas Bay in time for late November's Banderas Bay Blast, Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run for Charity, and the Vallarta YC's big Chili Cook-Off for Charity. All these events take place between November 29 and December 3. It's after the water has usually cooled in the Sea, so we hope to see you all there.

Ha-Ha and Mexico-bound folks take note! Up until August 1, mariners had been able to tie boats up at the San Diego Police Dock for $10.50/night for the first five days, then $21/night for the second five days. Electricity, water and a basic bathroom/shower facility were included, so it was a good deal. But now it's now 75 cents/ft/night. For those of you who weren't math majors, that would be $37.50 for a 50-ft boat, $30 for a 40-ft boat, and $22.50 for a 30-ft boat. Boats can now stay for 15 days at the same rate in any 40-day period. The bad news is that these rates are only in effect until February 1 of next year, at which time they will go up to $1/ft/night. Does anyone else wonder if the dramatic berth rate increases are a reflection of San Diego public employee pensions being way underfunded? There is still a free anchorage — up to three months — in San Diego Bay for boats not registered in San Diego County. Make sure you get a permit from the Harbor Police first.

A little way up the coast at Newport Beach, berthing and mooring rates have gone up, too. Whereas it used to cost $5/night for a mooring, it's now now $25/night during the May 1 to November 1 summer season, and $15/night during the winter. There are some basic restroom facilities if you get a mooring near the Coast Guard Station, but other mooring areas only have public restrooms — if any facilities at all. And you have to dinghy ashore — unless you take one of the 10 or so $40/night slips next to the pump-out station. Fortunately, mariners can now stay up to five nights for free — no permit required — at the anchorage in the middle of Newport Harbor.

When we anchored at Cabo San Lucas for a few nights before starting our Baja Bash last month, API officials came by and hit us up for $13/night. Ouch! To the best of our knowledge, that's much more than what is charged at other 'developed' Mexican ports. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, there are countless great places to anchor in Mexico, which, for mariners anyway, is the true 'land of the free'.

We don't imagine that Ed and Sue Kelly of the Des Moines, Iowa-based Catalac 12 Meter Angel Louise were very happy with us when they had to set their 300-ft long Jordan Series Drogue with 150 cones, hang on it for 25 hours in a gale between the Azores and England, then retrieve the whole shebang after the weather moderated. After all, the couple say that it was only because of Latitude's "thoughts and comments years ago" that they retired on Angel Louise and are now "cruising her from ATM to ATM to pick up our Social Security checks each month." Fortunately, Ed says the gale was like childbirth in that now, several weeks later, they can hardly remember it."

By pure chance, the modest Angel Louise was assigned a space at the dock right next to the one reserved for the christening ceremony of a glorious "mystery vessel". She turned out to be the gigantic catamaran Hemisphere, the newest and — at 145 feet in length — the largest sailing cat ever built. Construction on the 500-ton monster had begun at the Derecktor Yard in Connecticut as Project Gemini, but as a result of financial issues, she was shipped to the Pendennis Yard in England for completion. Built for the ultra-luxury tropical charter market, Hemisphere accommodates but 12 guests, who will be pampered by a crew of eight. She was slated to go out for $150,000 ­— a weekend! — but that price estimate was before she had to be brought to England for completion, so it's likely gone up. The Kelleys, who are proud that their cat at least made it across the Atlantic on her own bottom, plan to live aboard at St. Katherine's Dock in London over the winter. Bloody fine idea — as it's usually too cold to riot in London town during the winter.

As for Hemisphere, cat mains are tough to reef in the first place, so we can't imagine what it's going to be like reefing the main on a 174-ft mast.

We haven't heard too much from Liz Clark of the Santa Barbara-based Cal 40 Swell lately, but she reports she's now in the Tuamotus, "having set off on a series of upwind hops eastbound through the various atolls in search of more remote surf, sandy anchorages, friendly faces, fish, fruit, falling stars, fresh coconuts, and new adventures."

The start of her search for new adventures was delayed after she got ciguatera poisoning, which laid her low in the boatyard — "with no-see-ums and mosquitoes" — for several weeks. But she's feeling great again, and has already had some great adventures — and surf — with her friend Crystal.

Meanwhile, down in the tiny island nation of Niue, the government is planning to mint coins based on Star Wars characters, coins that can be used as legal currency in a country that otherwise does business in Kiwi dollars. May the funds be with you!

"We're at Port Vila, Efate Island, Vanuatu — which is the land of sky divers (the original bungee jumpers), dugongs, Big Nambas and Little Nambas (check them out), active volcanos (the world's most accessible), and John Frum Cultists (check this out, too!)," report Gordon and Sherry Cornett of the Ventura and Mammoth Mountain-based Tayana 52DS Serenity. "It took three days and two hours to cross from Fiji, during which we had rough seas/calm seas, rain squalls/sunny skies, and full moon/overcast. You name it, we had it. It does feel good not to be rocking any more, as we had a consistent southerly swell of 6-9 feet on the beam all the way. It was oddly chilly, too, so we had to pull out long pants and sweatshirts. As for Port Vila, it's had an interesting past, as at one time it was British, another time French, and later on sort of half-British and half-French. The islanders are friendly and way laid-back — which makes them very different from the Indo-Fijians, who are real go-getters. Yet Port Vila is a bit cosmopolitan. For example, yesterday we had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant. Very different. We're now on a long walk through town, and will soon be shopping at the super marche — which is always an adventure!"

There is outstanding news coming out of Cabo Pulmo, which is on the southeast coast of Baja, and the only coral reef on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Scientists from the Scripps Institute in La Jolla report that 14 years after local families made it a "no take zone," and it became the 71-square kilometer Cabo Pulmo National Park, the reef has made a spectacular comeback. "The fish biomass at the park had increased 463 percent," says the report, "and the biomass of top predators and carnivores increased by 11 and 4 times, respectively." Researchers found thousands of large fishes, such as snappers, groupers, trevally, manta rays, and even sharks. Let's hope that similar policies can be instituted — and enforced — in many other parts of the Sea, to restore it to its previous glory for the benefit of locals and visitors alike.
The Pimentel family's two-year cruise from the Caribbean to Turkey aboard their Leopard 47 catamaran Azure II is coming to a close. In fact, Jane and sons RJ and Leo are back home in Alameda getting ready for school, while dad Rodney and some friends are making the first of four legs in a delivery of the cat back to the Caribbean where she'll be put up for sale.

It wasn't until almost the end of their family adventure that they had their first significant injury. Having set up a zip line over some very sharp rocks and into the water — as they had done many times before — at an anchorage in Turkey, there was a problem. RJ took off, but as he got over the rocks, the zip line snagged on one of the rocks.

"In what seemed to be slow motion, RJ fell like a skydiver, arms outstretched, directly onto the rocks," remembers Jane. "He bounced and then lay there. I dove in the water to get to him. RJ said some bad words — meaning at least he could talk! Two doctors from a nearby boat rushed over. Gingerly we loaded RJ into the dinghy and went to their boat. They examined him for internal injuries and broken bones. RJ was unable to stand, had a big gash on one leg, and had many other scrapes. After motoring for four hours to Marmaris, a taxi driver told us we could take him to the 'English Hospital' or the public hospital. He recommended the latter, saying it cost less and had more doctors. After wavering, I decided we'd start at the public hospital and see how it went.

"There was no fancy entrance, not really even a waiting room, just a few semi-injured Turkish people standing in a hallway around a desk," Jane continues. "Nobody spoke English, but a few could communicate a little. All were kind. RJ was seen within 10 minutes, and X-rays were taken and analyzed by the doctor in less than 30 minutes. They said he had no broken bones, and wrote a prescription that we couldn't read, presumably for pain meds. The whole visit cost about $100. Four days later, RJ was finally able to put weight on his injured leg and his scrapes were healing well. Whew!"

Cruisers love Fiji, and they love their fellow cruisers. But if cruisers don't follow Fijian policy, it could cost them over $1,300 U.S. The Ministry of Health has been making it perfectly clear to everyone that if crewmembers of an arriving boat have any physical contact — as in, "We haven't seen you in soooo long, give us a big hug!" — with anyone already in the country before being cleared in by health authorities, they will be subject to the big fine. Fiji wants to make sure no cruisers bring The Plague to their islands. Before, officials just got unhappy with cruisers who violated the rule. Now they are going to fine them.

Missing the pictures? See the September 2011 eBook!


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