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September 2017

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With reports this month from Moonshadow on unreliable weather forecasts and a reliable volcano in Vanuatu; from Cool Change on how valuable lessons learned from their first season changed the way they cruised in their second season; from Pelagic on the final months of a three-year family cruise; on the loss of Tanda Malaika on a reef at Huahine; from deciding on a rebuild of Fleetwood; on getting back on the water from Sonrisa; and Cruise Notes.

Moonshadow — Deerfoot 62
John and Debbie Rogers
Weather Forecasts and a Volcano
(San Diego)

As I write this, we're about 31 hours into our passage from Fiji to Vanuatu, enjoying a fast, easy ride with the wind on the beam and smooth seas.

We had four hookups on our fishlines yesterday. The first two shook the lures before we got them near Moonshadow. About a half hour later, after setting the drag really hard, we had two more hookups about a minute apart. From what we can tell, these were blue marlin, but only about four feet long. Still, they put a lot of bend in the poles and, working one at a time, took a half hour to bring them alongside. Beautiful fish, but we let them go.

Our first night out of Fiji was not at all like the conditions we have now — or anything like the weather that had been forecast. Big surprise there. We left the reef next to Fiji’s Tavarua Island at dark, and immediately plunged into heavy rain that lasted all night and half the next day. After two months in Fiji, where we never saw even the threat of rain, this was biblical rain that never let up. And it was cold. We had to wear our heavy foulies just to stay dry.

We also had 27 knots of wind for several hours, which kept us hanging on. That turned into becalmed conditions in the morning, but still the rain came down. But that was then, and soon we were enjoying warm, sunny skies and typical trade winds, clicking off the miles.

We only got to spend four days in Vanuatu because we are racing to Australia in order to make it back to the States for our niece's wedding. The wedding is at the end of September, which seems like a long way off, but we nonetheless realized there wouldn’t be time to do justice to both Vanuatu and New Caledonia. So we chose to spend the bulk of our time in the French-influenced country of New Caledonia.

Nonetheless, we knew we couldn’t just skip past Vanuatu without seeing the famous Mt. Yasur — which isn't even 1,200 feet high — the very active volcano on Tanna Island. What an experience!

As soon as we got off the truck to walk the remaining distance to the rim of the volcano, we felt an earthquake — and looked up to see rocks the size of Moonshadow’s dining table being flung into the air hundreds of feet over our heads!

We then walked up a steep trail, which took us to the upper rim of the volcano. There is also a lower rim, from which you can look almost vertically down into the fiery crater of molten lava. As we watched several red glowing rocks land on the lower rim, we understand why nobody was down there.

We stayed until after dark, because it makes the eruptions look like the Fourth of July on steroids — but with a sense of terror thrown in. The whole thing reminded me of a story my parents tell of one of us three boys (which one it was changed with each telling) sitting Mom down on the couch during a loud thunderstorm and demanding she explain about God again.

After a delightful 33.5- hour passage from Vanuatu, we find ourselves snug in the Port Sud Marina at Noumea, New Caledonia. We’re looking forward to croissants and French wine, but are currently imprisoned aboard Moonshadow as we cannot clear into the country until tomorrow, which is Monday. Unable to leave the boat, we cannot get a cell phone SIM card that would allow us to surf the Internet.

We have a few weeks to spend here, but have no idea how we're going to do it as we haven't had any time to do any research on the country. Champagne problems!

— john and deb 08/05/2017

Cool Change — Pacific Seacraft 31
Cindy and Rick Petrinellis
Lessons From a Year of Cruising

After sailing down to Mexico as part of the 2014 Baja Ha-Ha, we had a marvelous 2014-2015 cruising season. Despite a few unplanned interruptions, we got to almost everywhere we'd planned. But we never had enough time at any of them. For even after several days in one spot, which we didn't get very often, we had to force ourselves to move on. This was necessary, because if things continue to fall into place, we'll be in French Polynesia by this time next year, leaving our beloved Mexico behind. Until, that is, we return several years from now.

In 2014-2015, we managed to sail all the way down the mainland coast from Mazatlan to Zihuatanejo, then as far north as Santa Rosalia in the Sea of Cortez, then back down to Mazatlan. That's 2,418 miles in one season. That sounds like a lot, and was indeed our most ambitious sailing season to date. Under normal conditions, we sail at about five knots.

One of the great things about both the Pacific Coast of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez is that there are anchorages close enough together so that you rarely have to endure long sailing days or overnights. We try to anchor within 30 miles of our next anchorage so we arrive before dark.

We anchored 51 times during the 2014-2015 cruising season, sometimes at the same place but at different times in our trip. We stayed in marinas nine times, always for more than one day.

When we first got to Mexico, we couldn’t understand the folks who spent all their time on the hook when there was a nice marina nearby. Unless, of course, marina stays weren't in their budget.

In our case, being at anchor meant we had to give up certain conveniences: the ability to use some A/C devices, the use of hot water unless we ran our engine, being able to stand while showering, having ice for our nightly cocktails, having access to laundry facilities, and having a stable platform for making repairs. In addition, it meant we lacked easy access to all the conveniences of large towns, such as lots of restaurants and big stores for provisioning.

Our perspective on marinas really changed during our 2016-2017 cruising season, our second in Mexico. We found ourselves dropping into marinas only when we absolutely needed to, and getting out of them as quickly as we could. We saved up the must-do-at-port jobs, and then rushed to get them done so we could get out of the marina as quickly as possible. Marinas became an occasional necessary evil in our travels!

Why the change? Part of it was that poco a poco, we made changes or accommodations on Cool Change for most of what had been inconveniences. For example, we added a 200-watt inverter so we could power and recharge our computers and run our mini-movie projector without A/C. That was a big deal for very little money.

We also learned that motoring in light winds meant we usually had engine-generated hot water for showers. When we didn't motor, the reliable sunshine of Mexico meant that the stronger sun shower we bought for the second season gave us all the hot water we needed anyway. It even got to the point where we preferred taking showers on our boat to in a marina. It was more convenient not to have to walk to the marina showers, and we've grown to enjoy sitting down while showering.

We solved the ice problem by buying a bunch of disposable plastic bags that are specially configured with little pockets to make small ice cubes. We hang them vertically next to the cold plate in the morning, and by nightfall we have just enough ice cubes for two cocktails each.

As for laundry, we found that we didn’t use nearly as many clothes when anchored out as when in a marina. I hand-washed some personal apparel and maybe a few T-shirts once in a while, but that was pretty much it. After washing, I would clip them to the lifelines, and they would always dry in a couple of hours. Once, all of our bedding got wet because of a hawsepipe left open in big seas. I was able to rinse out the seawater and hang the thick mattress cover outside. It dried by day’s end.

We even overcame the belief that we needed to be in a marina to effect repairs. Naturally we learned this by necessity. The worst case was when our toilet wouldn't flush. A part of a tie wrap stuck in the toilet’s built-in macerator, so we had to disassemble the toilet — which unfortunately had just been used for serious business. Cleaning it out was an extremely unpleasant mess, but it was better to do at sea — where at least it was legal.

Along with making repairs underway, we also learned we could improvise if a part failed us. For example, we managed to drop the screw-in oil dipstick cap on the outboard while checking the oil as the dinghy sat in the water. A cork from a Grand Marnier bottle, along with some cleverly placed tie-wraps, kept the oil from spurting out of the engine until we could find a proper replacement.

When it came to provisioning in the Sea of Cortez, where big stores north of La Paz are few and far between, we found we could easily survive on the fish we caught. This protein was supplemented by the fruits, vegetables, cheese and basic staples we were able to find in the smallest of bodegas in the smallest of villages — some of which were accessible only by sea. Everyone has to eat, for goodness sake, and many do not have the resources to get out of their small villages, so we could find what we needed in even the most unexpected places.

[More next month.]

— cindy 07/20/2017

Pelagic — Hallberg-Rassy 42
Michael & Amy Bradford Family
Last Eight Months of Our Cruise

We left Portland in September 2014 with our crew of Zander, 11, Porter, 9, and Anakena, 4. Our goal was to see how far we could comfortably cruise in three years.

We started with the 2014 Baja Ha-Ha, continued on down Central America and through the Panama Canal, and then made our way up the East Coast of the United States to Maritime Canada. From there we took off across the Atlantic. After our arrival in Ireland, we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and Morocco.

In January 2016, we slowed down considerably, and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school at Sanlúcar de Guadiana for a few months. In spring 2016 we crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.

As part of winding up our three-year cruise, we spent five great weeks in the Marquesas — see last month's report. More recently, we sailed south to the Tuamotus on what was one of our best passages ever. We enjoyed 12-15 knots of wind on the beam in calm seas.

Once we got to the 'Dangerous Archipelago', we visited Raroia, Makemo, Tahanea, Fakarava and Toau. Photos don't do justice to these atolls, and there aren't enough adjectives to describe the colors of the water in the lagoons.

It had been 20 years since Michael and I had last been to the Tuamotus, and things hadn't changed as much as we feared they might have. The highlights of our visit included jumping over the side in any anchorage at any atoll and being suspended in water clear as gin, and snorkeling some of the healthiest reefs we've ever seen. Diving with the sharks in the South Pass of Fakarava was another highlight of mine. The kids would add spearfishing, bonfires on the beach with other cruisers, and catching coconut crabs.

It was almost surreal to see how my boys had developed during the three years of our cruise. It seemed as if they were still just little boys when we took off. Yet here in the Marquesas, they would jump over the side, free dive to 30 feet, and spear a grouper. And they would have it out of the water within a minute, knowing if they took any longer the sharks would have a free meal.

The boys have become fearless — but not reckless — in the water. I watch them with admiration, and a little envy, too. I wish I'd had their confidence and skills at ages 12 and 14. Furthermore, Porter now helps Mike clean the carburetor on our very finicky outboard, and Zander's sailing skills, which surpassed mine about the time we left the Columbia River, have been further refined.

Instead of doing everything for the boys, they are a big help. For example, we now rely on them to stand watches, dive down and untangle the anchor when it's fouled, check a mooring line, and do other tasks. I can only hope their confidence and skills in the cruising world translate into confidence and skills back in the 'real world'.

It wasn't all giggles and rainbows, however, as the Tuamotus aren't the easiest place to cruise. The passes can be tricky, and since coral-head bommies are ever-present, you need to be vigilant when crossing any of the lagoons.
You can also run into the problem of a quick change in the weather and having the anchor fouled. We were stuck in Makemo because of just that combination, with the wind blowing at gale force. We were on a lee shore between several reefs, and closer than we would have liked to a pass that didn't ebb for 72 hours.

How did we get into that less-than- ideal situation? We had run to the northwest corner of the atoll to get relief from some northers that were predicted. We did get lovely protection from those winds, but the winds also meant there wasn't any slack water in the pass. Thus we missed any opportunity to leave the lagoon before we were hit by strong winds from the southeast.

The southeast winds caught us a little unprepared. With the waves having 30 miles of fetch before reaching us, you can imagine what it was like and why we were more than a little nervous. The days waiting out that wind were probably the most uncomfortable in our three-year cruise. But you have to have the worst somewhere.

The rest of our time in the Tuamotus more than made up for those discomforts. The scuba diving alone is amazing. Having previously been scuba certified on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, I'm a little snobbish when it comes to coral reefs and rarely rave about them. That said, the reefs surrounding the atolls of the Tuamotus were unreal.

Most of the passes were fun to snorkel or dive, but we found fantastic diving on the ocean side just outside the passes, too. We dove healthy reefs with huge pelagic fish and sharks, saw huge schools of baitfish, and followed the occasional ray or monstrous Napoleon wrasse. The ocean floor was carpeted with colorful corals, and they were spectacular even in the muted light at depth.
The reef fish were also abundant; butterflyfish, damselfish, surgeonfish, and unicorn fish, to name a few of the more brightly-colored ones. There were also plenty of game fish, including grouper and parrotfish. We aren't fast enough to spear tuna, but we saw plenty of those as well.

There seemed to be terrific biodiversity in the Tuamotus, with no garbage, no bleaching of corals, and very little damage to the coral in general. At least from an amateur's point of view, it was a delight to see the outer reef so intact.

We had four divers on board and four tanks, but only two buoancy compensator/regulator combos, so we'd all pack up in the dinghy and take turns diving in pairs.

When we snorkeled in the passes, we trailed the dinghy behind us on a 100-ft line. The bommies in the lagoons were also great fun to snorkel, and at shallower depths, even my youngest was able to get up close and personal with the coral. Anakena's favorite activity was pestering the many Christmas tree worms.

As I finish writing this, we are now on our way back to the Pacific Northwest via Hawaii, and around the highly mobile Pacific High. We bashed uphill from the Tuamotus to the Marquesas just to load up with fresh fruit, fuel and baguettes. We additionally hoped this easting would give us a better angle to Hawaii.

The trip to Hawaii was fast and furious, but I guess that is what you get when you cross the trades. From Hawaii we again will head due north until we are over the Pacific High and we can sail with the west winds behind us — hopefully, all the way to the Columbia River Bar and upriver to home in Portland, Oregon.

— amy 07/05/2017

Tanda Malaika — Leopard 46
The Govatos Family
Cat Lost On Reef at Huahine

In the early hours of July 18, the Leopard 46 catamaran Tanda Malaika went onto a reef at Huahine near the end of a passage from Moorea in the Society Islands. There were six family members aboard: Danny, his wife Belinda, and their children Jude, Mycah, Aidan and Emma.

Danny reported that he had been monitoring their Navionics chart and the depthsounder, when the latter suddenly went from showing a depth of 180 feet to 0 feet. According to Govatos, the reef did not appear on their Navionics chart.

"We all felt Tanda Malaika violently hit the reef," Belinda reported in the family’s blog. "Massive waves raised the cat’s port hull to about a 75-degree angle, then dropped her with an incredible force back down onto the reef. I saw Mycah being thrown from port all the way to starboard, down the stairs of the starboard hull, and forward onto the floor in her cabin."

After a harrowing few hours, the entire family was rescued — in two trips — by a French Navy helicopter. It helped that they were on a cat, as it offered a flat and stable platform.

You can read Belinda’s gripping account of what could have been a life-and-death situation at It’s accompanied by dramatic photos of the nighttime rescue.

Miraculously, nobody was seriously hurt.

At first light and first glance, it didn’t look as though Tanda Malaika was that badly damaged. But it soon became clear that the bottoms of her hulls were already damaged beyond repair, and the catamaran was slowly but surely being washed farther onto the reef.

When the family was safe on land again, two members of the French Navy asked what had happened. Belinda told them they'd hit a reef that didn’t appear on their chart. Belinda reports that the French asked if they had been using a Navionics chart.

"When I said 'Yes'," wrote Belinda, "one man shook his head and said that at least five boats a year that were using Navionics charts end up on those reefs."

Belinda says she was taken to a large map on the wall and asked if it was the specific place where the family’s cat had run aground. Belinda said that to the best of her knowledge, it was. She was then shown two places on the map, one being where Tanda Malaika went aground, and a second spot, where most of the wrecks had allegedly occurred.

The Govatos family pretty much had their net worth invested in the boat, which they'd purchased two years ago in the Caribbean in order to travel the world while doing humanitarian work. Unlike a lot of cruisers, they initially had insurance. But they report that when they got to the Galapagos, their carrier dropped them, claiming they didn’t have enough offshore experience. By that time they’d sailed 12,000 miles.

Back in the day, the owners of a shipwreck could simply walk away and that was that. Now almost all countries demand that the owner pay to have the pollutants removed and the wreck taken away. It only took a couple of days for it to become clear that Tanda Malaika was no longer a candidate for salvage, and needed to be towed out to deep water and sunk.

Alas, even that is going to cost a lot of money, as the salvage company charges $5,000 an hour. They wouldn’t do anything until they got a $25,000 deposit, and estimated the entire job might cost $75,000.

Which raises the question: What do the French do if someone doesn’t have the money to pay for the removal of a wreck? After all, they no longer have debtor’s prisons, and haven’t used the guillotine since 1976. We do know that the family was able to fly to New Zealand, where they applied for visas.

Nearby cruisers did everything they could in the days following the shipwreck to help the family save as much of their belongings as possible, and remove everything of value from the boat. If you'd like to help this family, their GoFundMe address is:

For what it’s worth, a number of cruisers have questioned the claim that the reef didn’t appear on Navionics charts. Others say that the reef has been properly plotted on Navionics charts as old as 2010. See Letters for more on this topic.

— latitude/rs 08/15/2017

Fleetwood — Naja 30
Jack van Ommen
Rebuilding Fleetwood
(Gig Harbor, Washington)

A week ago I was ready to 'throw in the towel' on Fleetwood, which had been badly damaged during a grounding and the time she spent on a shoal in Virginia. I'd spent a full week cleaning the inside of the boat, removing the remaining seawater and thick mud from the bilge. I knew that there was a split along the lower port chine and damage to the rudder post and sugar scoop. But then I found that the chine on the starboard side was also split, and the stringers were broken at the masthead bulkhead, as was the floor timber in the same area.

While the dreadful condition of the boat, as well as continued problems with my 80-year-old back, discouraged me, after consulting with Todd, who had built this pa rticular kit boat, I decided to go for rebuilding Fleetwood anyway.

My other option would be to walk away from Fleetwood and hope that I could make enough money from salvaging the winches, deck hardware, and rigging to cover the cost of cutting the boat up and putting it in the dumpster. Then I might find a fiberglass substitute for, say, $10,000, that I could outfit for another $5,000.

The problem with that alternative is that no other boat I could find would be the sailboat that Fleetwood has been to me and potentially can be again. I realize that my age is slowing me down, but I am looking forward to the challenge and gradual progress of rebuilding her. And to eventually be united with my faithful friend on the water, with my hand on her tiller, a bone in her teeth, and a smile on my face.

Having gotten confirmation that my insurance would cover the $19,000 wreck removal bill, I am able to make plans. The repair of Fleetwood will take months. It will require chiseling out the damaged stringers and parts of the chines and floors, cleaning out the breaks, and scarfing in replacements. I will reinforce the weak areas with carbon fiber. After I have repaired and repainted the underwater parts of the hull, and installed the replacement engine and the solar panel, I'll move the boat back to the Nautical Boats Marina in Portsmouth. There I will finish the interior and above water exterior work, as well as the wiring and electronics. I'll also make up new floorboards, cockpit grates and a hatch for the one that got lost.

Just the replacement of the lost/ruined items is over $10,000, which is a little more than my current savings. And this does not include the cost of the needed materials for repairs. Here's my list:

Kyocera Solar Panel and controller, $350. Inflatable dinghy, $750. Engine, installation, and mounts, $7,000. Engine upgrade from one to two-cylinders, $2,000. Engine hatch material, $50.Liferaft, $2,100. Boat tools, $1,000. Two batteries, $700, All wiring, including mast, $375. Horseshoe life ring, $50. Windvane vane, $60. VHF radio, $400. AM/FM radio, $150. Handheld GPS - $150. Two-burner propane stove - $350. AIS/GPS transponder, $940. Cockpit floor grates, $150. Cabin floors, oak strip, $200. Hardware spares, $350. Lines and halyards, $50.

The big expense, of course, is replacing the one-cylinder 10½-hp diesel engine with a two-cylinder 12- to 18-hp Kubota, Westerbeke, Yanmar or similar in good used condition. Anybody know of one, preferably near the Chesapeake Bay?

The last week of every month I get a Social Security check for nearly $2,000 deposited in my account. And the royalties from my books are slowly growing. One of the regular readers of my blog has already stepped up with a very generous offer of $1,000 toward “resurrection” of Fleetwood. Jan, my twin brother, has already deposited a similar amount in my account.

During my circumnavigation of Western Europe in 2010, I had to replace the old Renault diesel in my original Fleetwood while on the Danube River in Romania, far from any marine facilities. That cost $8,000 and wiped out my savings. But I managed to build my savings back up.

Then when I lost my original Fleetwood after a series of storms in the Med in 2013, I managed to scrape enough money to purchase my current Fleetwood boat for $7,000, and again build my savings back up. So I am expecting that the Lord will again take care of it. But if I get into a bind, I might avail myself of the monetary aid of others. Actually, it would do me a great financial favor — and be a pleasure to others — if anyone were to purchase either of my books, SoloMan and/or The Mastmakers Daughters. It would particularly help if you bought the printed version from instead of Amazon.

On Thursday I had an appointment with the back surgeon. Since I had not experienced any relief from the surgery, he ordered another MRI and X-ray, which I haven't gotten yet. My work on Fleetwood has not, of course, helped with my post-surgery recovery. Currently I am house- and cat-sitting for my daughter and son-in-law while they are on vacation. I may end up as 'cat food' unless I hear from them soon and find out where the dry food is kept. They took the bicycle I'd been using with them, and walking the three miles to the nearest market is not agreeing with my back.

— jack 08/01/2017

Sonrisa — Lagoon 440
The Brettingham-Moore Family
The Heat Is On in the Sea of Cortez
(Tasmania / La Paz, BCS)

How hot was it in La Paz in late July, and likely to be through mid-October?

"The only way to be outdoors after 3 p.m. without feeling like you're inside a hair dryer," writes Mel Brettingham-Moore "is to do the passegiatta along the malecon with all the locals late into the evening!"

So that's what Mel had been doing with her husband Nick and sons B.J., 10, and Huon, 7. Of course, it's even cooler when you're on your boat on the waters of the Sea of Cortez. So a few days later, Mel had an update:

"The fridges are packed to brimming, new spear guns at the ready for the trainees, the cats are settled in, the clothes are packed (not!), and off we go! We have enough supplies that we don't have to be back to civilization for three weeks. Can't wait to get back to our old ways — meaning willful simplicity.

A week or so later, Mel provided another update: "Ah, the Sea of Cortez in all her beauty! Having moved to land after 10 years of living aboard, five of them in the Sea of Cortez, we have missed the long, hot afternoons of wallowing in the water, the early morning beach walks, the diving and the kayaking, and Monopoly and chess games onboard.

"I've managed to churn out some great bread and cakes from the solar oven," Mel continues. "Meanwhile, the boys have been extremely successful with every hunt, bringing back an abundance of fish. Even enough for the furry ones. We are so lucky and grateful to have the amazing playground of the Sea of Cortez so close by."

Readers may remember that Nick and Mel bought their Lagoon 440 Sonrisa from the factory in France 10 years ago after many years of working on megayachts in the Med. They intended to slowly sail back home to Tasmania, but Mexico got in the way.

— latitude/rs 08/08/2017

Cruise Notes:
The consensus of opinion has been that T-Mobile had the best phone solution for cruisers, what with their claim of ''unlimited free data' in 122 countries. It turns out the claim was completely misleading, and then they started enforcing the small print — which basically said you could only "occasionally" use their system outside the United States. So much for '"unlimited". If you overdid it, you could — oh, God, no! — lose your phone number. T-Mobile is still better than AT&T and Verizon, which will cut you off even earlier. But, according to a number of cruisers, including Marc and Laura of the San Francisco-based 50-ft ketch Liquid, there is a five-step workaround:

1) Get a local SIM card and a 'pay as you go' plan for the unlocked phone. 2) Set up a VOIP phone with a US phone number. 3) Forward this number to your current cell phone. 4) Port your current US T-Mobile number to Google Voice. 5) Forward your old number — now on Google Voice — to the VOIP phone number.

Follow the five steps and you'll keep your US number and have calls forwarded to any international cell phone you want. Brilliant!

Lots of cruisers also use Skype and WhatsApp with good success. In the case of WhatsApp, however, whoever you are calling, and whoever calls you, has to have a WhatsApp account, too. And you need Internet for both systems.

"Can you get Internet at the Channel Islands?" we asked readers in 'Lectronic.

"All this season I've had great connectivity using AT&T on the front side of Santa Cruz Island," report Greg and Kathy Kircher of the Ventura-based but Ha-Ha-bound Valiant 42 Fellowship. "Anchorages such as Prisoners, Pelican and Fry's get excellent signals. Conversely, the back side of the island — Smugglers, Albert and Coches — get bupkis. Our rule of thumb is to avail ourselves of the Internet prior to rounding San Pedro Point, because that is the end of it."

Chuck Lennox of the Ventura-based Island Girl reports, "I can send small texts from Pelican Bay and Prisoners, and they get through 95% of the time. But I can't send any data."

"We used to have Verizon because their coverage map showed 4G LTE coverage at the Channel Islands," report Mike and Annette Reed of the Ventura-based 46-ft custom cat Rum Doxy. "In reality, we lost the signal two to four miles from the island. We then switched to T-Mobile for Mexico, and found that if we climbed the bluff above Scorpion at Santa Cruz on a good day, sprinkled the blood of a one-legged chicken killed at new moon onto the phone, and did a little dance, we could get phone service. We didn't try the Internet.

"Yet when we got back to Ventura from Mexico last year," Mike continues, "we were surprised when a fisherman friend on San Miguel Island said he'd been tracking our AIS signal on He said he was using AT&T on his cell phone to access the web. He also told us he gets coverage from Santa Barbara to San Miguel Island. We considered switching back to AT&T, but didn't, because it's nice to know there are still some places where the phone won't ring and you can't get data.

"By the way, Rum Doxy is currently on the hard in Puerto Peñasco in the extreme upper end of the Sea of Cortez while we work in Ventura for the summer," says Mike. "Our plan is to head south in the fall, slowly making our way down the Sea, mainland Mexico, and Central America, and ending up in Ecuador in late spring. Back to Ventura for another summer, then we'll continue on to Chile in the fall of 2018."

Another California boat hauled out in Puerto Peñasco is the Sausalito-based Stevens 40 Shawnigan. Christian Lauducci, the dad, was really happy with the paint jobs he was getting done on the boat. Josie, the mom, was back at UCSF in neonatal intensive care earning cruising chips, and the kids Nina, Ellamae and Taj, were visiting friends and relatives.

A turf war between the New Generation and Sinaloa drug cartels took a more deadly and unfortunately public turn on August 6, when three men were gunned down at Playa Palmilla, a popular local and tourist beach at San Jose del Cabo. This is 20 miles east of Cabo San Lucas. Eight others were killed that same weekend, but in the barrios. Violence in gringo tourist areas is generally frowned upon, even by drug cartels.

To put things in perspective, despite the deadly drug wars Mexico has had a murder rate of about 16.5 per 100,000. This is a fraction of the murder rate in most of Central America — and lower than in many big cities in the United States. St. Louis is 59 per 100,000. Baltimore, 55. Kansas City and Detroit are both 43. New Orleans is 41. Oakland checks in at 20 while Stockton at 16.

In better news out of the Los Cabos area, Marina Cabo San Lucas Harbormaster Darrin Carey reports that docks H, J and I, destroyed by hurricane Odile in 2014, have finally been repaired. "I have never seen so many tourists in Cabo in August, the low season," notes Carey.

"I hauled my boat at Power Boats Ltd in Chaguaramas, Trinidad, a few weeks ago," reports Bill Lilly of the Newport Beach-based Lagoon 47 Moontide. "The yard is owned by Don Stollmeyer, who says it is "especially good" that Richard Spindler, aka the Wanderer, remembers him from when he hauled his Ocean 71 Big O at Power Boats in 1993. Stollmeyer, who was flattered that the Wanderer remembered him, says that Big O was the biggest boat they've ever hauled. He said it in a 'won't-do-that-again' tone.

"Our yard has progressed a great deal since Big O was here," says Stollmeyer. "I'm also a catamaran sailor — and amateur cat builder — so one of the few good things I've done is design and build our own hydraulically operated trailer specifically for hauling cats. We've been using it for the last 15 years, and it's proven to be a lovely system.

"The front of the trailer supports the cat under each of her hulls on individual slings that can be moved in or out to fit different width cats. Toward the back, the trailer supports the boat under its bridgedeck on two large hydraulically operated pads. All lifting is done hydraulically, the trailer being designed to support the boat comfortably and securely. There is no inward squeezing, as happens with a Travelift. Our trailer can be adjusted to fit most catamarans up to about 60 feet LOA, 28 feet beam, and 18 tons."

Another very active California cat that just hauled out in the Caribbean for hurricane season, in Grenada, is Eric Witte and Annie Gardner's San Diego-based Catana 47 El Gato. They are headed to San Diego, so if excessive mirth breaks out in the Southland, you'll know why.

After something like seven years of cruising the South Pacific aboard the Portola Valley-based Marquesas 53 Rhapsody, Caren Edwards, wife of Sam and mother of Dana and Rachel, was the only one who voted to keep cruising rather than come home. But she was outvoted. But even after 10 years her cruising dream refused to die. So after a long search for a new cat, she purchased a Leopard 46 in the Caribbean and christened her Serenity.

"I love the cat," says Caren. "But I don't like having to deal with crew, so I singlehanded her down island for 10 days before returning to California for a couple of months. My boat has a lot of systems, and I'm not a systems person. And I'm finding out that learning how to manage a system is different than, for example, trying to figure out why the genset isn't working. I'm getting better at it, but am still not there. I know the Wanderer likes keeping his boats very simple, but as I'll be living aboard long-term, I like a few more creature comforts, and thus have to deal with the systems."

"We purchased a Fountaine-Pajot Eleuthera 60 catamaran in Spain that we christened Pono," report Jim 'Homer' and Claudia Holm of Santa Cruz. "The negotiation included the owner's having to pay to replace the tired rigging, and it was suggested that it be done in Canet en Roussillon, France. It was a great suggestion, as Canet has become a catamaran center of France and is known as Pole Nautique.

"Philippe Berardo of Atelier Gréement was our rigger, and he was fantastic.In one week his crew pulled our mast, replaced the rigging, pointed out other issues that needed work and took care of them, and restepped the mast. Richard of E-Pure Sails handled a multitude of small issues, and we had mechanical assistance from François and Alex when we began to discover things that the survey had not revealed.

"It was the attitude of these craftsmen that made our visit and stay in Canet worth writing about. These folks always went the extra mile, and became our friends, making our time here as pleasant as could be. Their prices were reasonable. too. We found most of our parts through Big Ship or Accastillage Diffusion, and some of the prices were excellent compared to those in the United States.

"Our plans give us time to train with the boat for our missions," the couple continue, " which are to document plastic in the sea and on shorelines in preparation for a talk at the Our Oceans Conference in Malta in October, and to convert plastic waste into diesel fuel aboard Pono when we cross the Atlantic in November."

Latitude and everyone else wishes you the greatest success in your latter mission.

Glenn and Karin Kotara of Bend, Oregon, didn't have as much luck as the Holms in their pursuit of a big cat in Europe.

"The Knysna 500 cat we flew to Gibraltar to buy was not as advertised," reports Glenn. "For example, the ad for the boat indicated 1,100 engine hours when there were actually over 1,800. The seller said it had to be a typo. Right. We nonetheless had the boat hauled and surveyed, at which point many other issues showed up. The bottom line is that he was asking $595K, and I offered a $500k cash close as soon as the paperwork was completed. That's when all the hugs and kisses ended. We nonetheless had a spectacular time in Spain, so the trip wasn't a total loss.

"As it is, we have a deposit on a 2018 owner's version of a Leopard 45 that's due to be in Fort Lauderdale in May next year. That means it will be too late to see the St. Barths Bucket — we still talk about the time we chartered with the Wanderer and de Mallorca to see it — but at least we'll be getting all the options we're looking for in a boat.

The port is closed! Doña de Mallorca and her four crew on Profligate wanted to start their 1,000-mile Baja Bash from La Cruz to San Diego on Saturday, August 12. The only problem was the port captain said the port was closed because of rough weather, and thus wouldn't check them out. There was no wind at all forecast in La Cruz for the 12th, and only 20 to 25 knots — from the south — on the next day. But when the port captain says you can't go, you'd better not go.

"We read the Wanderer's thoughts about the traffic, crowds, noise, and stressed-out people here in California compared to being other places on boats," write Dr. Bruce and Mary Bock of the Coronado-based Island Packet 485 Solstice. "We couldn't agree with him more. I realize that I was one of those drivers in my working life, and that the 805 — and other freeways — could eat up half my lifetime! After six crazy and fun months of cruising in seven countries, we are currently back in California visiting family and friends, which is very important and fun. Nonetheless, we're very excited to return to our boat in Belize in two weeks. It was the 2013 Ha-Ha — an experience that we speak of often and thank everyone for — that got us away from the craziness of California."

The times they are a-changin' in Mexico. Example #1. The Mexican Navy is now in charge of the port captains in Mexico. Example #2. Starting next year, all elementary school children in Mexico will be taught basic English. "If you don't know how to speak English, you can't be part of the global world," said one education official. Sort of how it's hard to get on in California if you don't speak Spanish.

Don't bug us! "Due to the above-average rain that fell on the Channel Islands this past winter, there is now a mosquito 'bloom' — at least around the southeastern end of Santa Cruz Island," reports Marcus Crahan of the Newport Beach-based Hinckley Sou'Wester 52 Dauntless.

"A friend recently spent a few nights at Smugglers Cove and Prisoners Harbor, and reported that they were "swarmed by mosquitos" after the sunset. Luckily no one aboard the boat had an allergic reaction to bug bites. Mosquitos haven't been a big problem, particularly with the drought conditions of recent years, so there were no hatch or port screens on the boat. But as a veteran of the 2014 SoCal Ta-Ta, I thought that members of this year's Ta-Ta fleet, and everyone else, could benefit from a heads-up."

If you checked windyty for the weather conditions on July 22, your eyes might have bugged out. Why? Because there were no fewer than eight tropical cyclones — four east of Hawaii — spinning their merry way east. As stunning as it was, don't fall into the trap of claiming that it's proof of climate change, because it's happened before. That was in 1974.

The beauty is that of the five hurricanes and five tropical storms in the Eastern Pacific as of August 20, not one of them had been a threat to Mexico. However, it's from now until the end of the season that some hurricanes bend back to the north and northeast, meaning Baja and the Sea of Cortez, instead of going on their normal northwestly offshore path.

It's been very quiet so far this year for marine interests in the Atlantic/Caribbean, as the Lesser Antilles haven't been hit at all. Oddly enough, Trinidad, which almost never gets hit, was nailed by a moderate tropical storm, and mainland Venezuela, which "never" gets hit, also got nicked.

Let's hope the good weather luck continues, but the big part of the Caribbean hurricane season starts now. In view of this, the Wanderer's Leopard 45 'ti Profligate was taken from her shoulder- season berth at Jolly Harbour, Antigua, and put on the hard and strapped down at North Sound Marina.

On August 9 John Nekomar suffered burns over roughly 15% of his body during a fire aboard his Nantucket 33 Alenka at Ensenada's Marina Coral. The blaze was almost certainly caused by a propane explosion. Sadly, the injured sailor died of a heart attack in the hospital that night. His dog was also badly injured, but survived. John's wife was visiting family in Eastern Europe at the time. Tenants of the marina were heartbroken, as John was well-liked.

While the exact cause of the explosion hasn't been determined, some noted that Alenka's propane system had copper rather than flexible tubing between the tank and the stove. Copper lines are subject to cracking, leaks, and thus explosions.

Propane is an excellent fuel, but potentially extremely dangerous. Boatowners should be motivated by this tragedy to check their tanks, hoses, fittings, stoves and heaters for any possible leaks and proper venting. Gas detectors for the bilge are also an excellent idea.

It's common for racing boats to be converted into cruising boats. But it's rare to see it go the other way, particularly with much older boats. Thus we were surprised to be checking out the coverage of this year's Fastnet Race and seeing the S&S designed Yacht Dynamics of San Pedro-built, 73-ft Kialoa II looking sweet while racing in the Fastnet Race from England to Ireland and back.

Older readers will remember that Kialoa II was the yawl — and sometimes sloop — that Jim Kilroy had built in 1964 and used to pioneer taking one's yacht all over the world to participate in the great races. She held the Sydney to Hobart Race record almost forever, and nearly 50 years ago was first-to-finish in the Fastnet.

Latitude readers will remember that Berkeley's Frank Robben bought Kialoa II in 1984 and put a lot of work into her. He did a Pacific Cup with her, cruised her in Mexico a couple of times, then sailed her around the world. If we're not mistaken, he met his wife in Sri Lanka during the circumnavigation.

Around the turn of the century, Kialoa was purchased in Honolulu by a Dutchman — the Dutch love metal boats — in a case of love at first sight. During his 14 years of ownership, the boat was totally rebuilt twice: first in the Netherlands, and again just a couple of years ago in Turkey.

Two years ago Kialoa II was purchased by brothers Patrick and Keith Broughton, with the intention of competing in the world's great ocean races. Kialoa II finished 37th out of 58 boats in their Fastnet class. Not what they'd hoped for, but it was a light-air race, not her conditions at all.

Come to think of it, Kialoa III, the S&S 79 that was Kilroy's favorite yacht, and another great collector of trophies, has also been turned back into a racing machine. She's owned by a group out of the Monaco YC, and has been entered in — but hasn't always raced in — a number of big events.

Missing the pictures? See the September 2017 eBook!


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