Changes in Latitudes

October, 2001

With reports this month from Cassiopeia on a nice donation; from Misty on freshwater cruising in the Northeastern United States; from We Three on getting the boat painted in Cartagena; from Aeventyr on the activities in the Galapagos; from Speck on Bocas del Toro; from Velella on Papeete; from Icarus on the Eastern Med Rally; from Crocodile Rock in Nicaragua; and Cruise Notes.

Cassiopeia - Swan 65
Rennie Waxlax & Anne Blunden
San Blas Donations
(San Diego)

We read the August issue letter from Norm Goldie in San Blas about all the good stuff they'd done with the $420 raised by the Profligate charter during the last Ha-Ha. And the Grand Poobah's pledge to raise at least $1,000 this year to continue the wonderful work Norm and Jan are doing to help the very poor indigenous people of nearby Calderas de Cofrado. In order to be a part of it, we've enclosed a $300 check along with our Ha-Ha entry.

Norm did us a big favor when we first met him in January of 2000. The two of us and crewmember Cindy Flintjer had anchored Cassiopeia in Matanchen Bay, put a few things in the dinghy to donate, and headed around the point and into the rivermouth to find the San Blas dinghy dock. Since this was our first time at San Blas, we had no idea that there was a Mexican Navy base at the mouth of the river. And we certainly had no idea that the navy had posted an unmarked panga with a guard at the side of the river entrance. So when the three of us blasted into the rivermouth at full speed in the dinghy with all our attention focused on the channel buoys, we didn't make anything of the whistles we heard. As we later learned, it was the Mexican navy guard whistling at us to stop at their checkpoint. But we blew right by without even seeing them!

We found the dinghy dock about a quarter mile up the river and went looking for Norm and Jan's house. While we were visiting with them, a messenger came to Norm's front door and told him that the navy was looking for us at the dinghy dock. I headed back to the dinghy to find out what the problem was, and Norm volunteered to come along to help as I speak very little Spanish. Believe me, I was astounded to find a Mexican naval officer with a sidearm and three sailors with rifles waiting for me! Luckily I had Cassiopeia's paperwork - we had been planning to visit the port captain after we dropped the bag of donations at Norm's.

After 20 minutes or so of discussing the situation in Spanish that was way beyond my level of fluency, Norm had the whole thing straightened out. I shook hands with the officer and all three of the men with rifles - all of whom had been very friendly throughout the whole misunderstanding. They all laughed when I asked them to pose with me for a group photo. You can bet we stopped at their floating guardpost for permission to leave when we left the rivermouth!

We enjoyed San Blas, and ended up staying for almost a week while we toured the immediate area and inland as far as Tepic. We'll return this year.

Best of luck on your goal of getting over $1000 for the wonderful work that Norm and Jan do for people in need in the San Blas area. See you on the Ha-Ha.

- rennie & ann 09/10/01

Rennie & Ann - Thanks for your very generous contribution. Because of you and others, we've already raised over $1,400 - and the Ha-Ha hasn't even started yet. Many readers know that there were a number of problems with the San Blas Port Captain last year, as he insisted that everyone use a service to check in and out. He's been given the boot after the shortest tenure ever in that position. Once the base of all Spanish naval operations in the Pacific, little San Blas is a great place to visit.

Misty - Aries 32
Bob & Jane Van Blaricom
Fresh Water Cruising

Misty, our little 32-foot Aries sloop, spent the winter on the hard at Cape Cod after our cruise last year up the Intra-Coastal Waterway and around Chesapeake Bay. This year the plan was to sail into the Great Lakes and keep going west until the water ran out at Duluth, Minnesota - a three-month cruise of 1,700 miles. The route would take us down Long Island Sound to New York City, up the Hudson River and into the Erie Canal. About halfway along the Erie, we would turn right into the Oswego Canal, then go across Lake Ontario and into the Canadian Trent-Severn Waterway to Lake Huron. Finally, we would traverse Lake Superior and wind up at its western tip in Duluth. It promised to be a cruise of great variety - and turned out to be just that!

Misty got underway on June 4th with sailing friends, Bill Hickman and Bob Smith of Cape Cod, as crew. Jane would join the boat in Tarrytown, New York, with a car for our crew to take back home. Our smooth start was rudely interrupted when Misty, riding a swift current through the Cape Cod Canal, bumped into to the usual strong wind and sea blowing up Buzzard's Bay. We bucked into one sea so hard the weld on the spreader light snapped and sent it crashing to the deck! Things got smoother after that, and we had a pleasant, four-day trip to New York City. The climax was a fascinating ride down the East River and around the tip of Manhattan Island.

With Jane now aboard, the two of us started up the broad Hudson River, which provided interesting scenery - especially where the banks rose steeply around West Point and Storm King Mountain. Nice anchorages can be found along the river. We especially liked one behind a little island surmounted by Bannerman's Castle, a crumbling replica of a medieval castle built by an arms dealer who made tons of money selling Civil War surplus munitions 100 years ago. At Kingston, New York, we pulled the mast at a funky little boatyard for $50, and laid it atop onboard sawhorses we had prepared for just this purpose. We were to remain in 'African Queen mode' until we emerged onto Lake Huron a month later.

At Troy, New York, we paid our $75 transit fee and entered the historic Erie Canal. Immediately we began to climb a 'stairway' of five high-lift locks, which raised us a total of 169 feet - to the level of the Mohawk River. We would continue to travel along the route of the Mohawk River almost until we branched off into the Oswego Canal 150 miles later, and it was beautiful! Both sides of the river were wooded with big trees, and almost no houses or buildings were to be seen. For that matter, we saw very few other boats and no commercial traffic. The locks were at about five-mile intervals, and were fully-manned and operated by mechanical or hydraulic power. Generally, the area around each lock was nicely landscaped and provided a pleasant place to tie up along the lock approach walls. We seldom shared a lock with another vessel.

At Oswego, New York, we were on the southern shore of Lake Ontario and facing a 45-mile lake crossing with our heavy mast on not-too-stable sawhorses. So we prayed for calm water. Our wishes were granted the next day, and we rejoiced in a smooth trip across the glassy lake. By late afternoon, we entered a gap leading into the Bay of Quinte, a string of spacious waterways leading to Trenton, Ontario, and the start of the Trent-Severn Waterway. First, however, we found Prinyers Cove, where we entered Canadian Customs - by telephone - and reveled in the lovely surroundings for an extra day.

We were joined at Trenton by Bill and Joyce Hickman, who were our crew through the waterway. The Trent-Severn is 240 miles long, and connects an irregular string of little lakes - and one big lake - that form a passageway between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay on Lake Huron. It passes through lovely countryside, nice little towns, many waterside cottages, and contains 45 locks - several of which are absolutely amazing. We paid a transit fee of $76 U.S., plus a small fee each time we tied up for the night at one of the attractive lock walls. Each lock also provided nice restroom facilities. Unlike the Erie Canal, there was lots of recreational boat traffic and a lively atmosphere all the way along. Unfortunately, boats drawing over 5'6" cannot get through.

The trip through the Trent-Severn took 10 days and provided a wonderful variety of scenes. Of special interest were two high 'lift locks' which consist of a pair of balanced ascending and descending boxes of water big enough for several boats at once. One enters the box, the end closes, you rise (or descend) about 65 feet, the opposite end of the box opens and you go on your way. Incredible! Equally amazing was a huge marine railway carriage, which took several boats out of the water each time, across a road, then down a steep grade to the water 57 feet below!

At Midland, Ontario, we pulled into a marina where we stepped the mast, a do-it-yourself operation costing $50 U.S. We were a sailboat again! We sampled an anchorage on Beausoleil Island, but decided we had followed enough buoys and markers, so we forsook the rock-strewn, 30,000 Island portion of Georgian Bay in favor of the wide-open sailing along the southern shore. After wiggling our way out of the rocks, we had a grand sail across to the Bruce Peninsula and the nice little town of Meaford. After a couple of more hops, we were at Killarney and the start of the pristine cruising grounds of Lake Huron's North Channel.

The North Channel is a complex maze of islands, coves and inlets, all set in a stunning mass of pink and white granite. There are endless snug anchorages surrounded by wooded shores, but with plenty of easily navigable water and good sailing breezes in between. It is no wonder that it is the destination of choice for the cruising boats of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Surprisingly, by far the majority of boats were sailboats, and we usually shared our anchorages with several of them. The weather was mostly very nice, the water was quite warm - and fresh - so we often enjoyed swimming.

While cruising in Lake Huron, we sometimes mentioned that we were bound for Duluth in Lake Superior. The usual reaction was, "Geez! Don't you know that big ships break in half and sink there?" Indeed, Lake Superior has such an evil reputation for big, steep waves, icy water and sudden thunderstorms, that cruisers from the other Great Lakes don't even consider going there. Luckily, we had been briefed on the cruising conditions on Lake Superior by an experienced couple who knew the area well, so undeterred, we passed through the Canadian Lock at Sault Saint Marie and emerged onto the bosom of 'The Shining Big Sea Water'.

|As Misty sailed along the east and north shores of the lake, we realized that we just might be enjoying the last frontier of cruising areas. It was magnificent! And better yet, there was hardly anyone around, either ashore or afloat. We found nice anchorages about every 20 or 30 miles. Our second stop, Sinclair Cove, was one of the best - a tiny round cove with a nice beach, spectacular pink rocks, prehistoric Indian pictographs on the outside cliffs, and water warm enough to swim in. It was an idyllic spot, but only one of many.

We stopped at several other lovely anchorages, then hit the jackpot with a 2.5-mile trip up the uncharted White River to the pool just below some impressive rapids. We would never have attempted this except for the excellent directions in our Lake Superior Cruising Guide by Bonnie Dahl. We hiked above the rapids, then crossed the 200-ft deep canyon on a suspension bridge reminiscent of the one in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It was not for the faint of heart, but Jane did it anyway.

The weather during our three-week cruise on Lake Superior was quite good, except for one rainy day and a partial day of fog. It was also surprisingly warm, and we swam on many days. To test the notion that Lake Superior has especially big, steep waves, we tried to judge if they were bigger than any normal ocean waves in the same wind. Since waves anywhere are governed by depth of water, fetch and air-water friction, we were unable to distinguish a difference between them and our home-grown variety. If anything, they seemed to be smaller because there was no accompanying ocean swell.

We continued along the north shore of the lake, stopping at the Slate Islands, then at some of the many little islands in the Rossport and Nipagon Bay area - an idyllic cruising area with snug anchorages everywhere. With time running out before our truck hauling date in Duluth, we visited Isle Royale and the Apostle Islands, both national parks and fine cruising grounds. Then it was on to Duluth and the end of a wonderful voyage.

- bob & jane 9/5/01

We Three - Fisher 30
Dwight & Fran Fisher
Boat Painting In Cartagena

Manuel Ramirez is his name, and painting boats in Cartagena is his game. In May of this year, we sailed our Fisher 30 ketch into Cartagena for a much needed haul-out and paint job. Other cruisers had advised us to head for Trinidad to get the work done, but Cartagena was much closer to our exit from the Panama Canal, and we were in a hurry to get our boat looking decent again.

We hadn't expected to see so many other cruisers at Cartagena's Club Nautico docks, but when we did, we took advantage of their local knowledge to find out who might be the best to do the job. After discussing our needs and requirements with several candidates, we decided to go with a fellow named Manuel. He promised that he could paint the hull and bottom in no more than five days. It actually took him a total of 10 days, and the extra time meant that we were billed another $15/day for each of the extra five days in the boatyard. Since we're on a limited budget, we were concerned about the extra cost. We need not have been, as much to our surprise, Manuel absorbed the cost of the extra laydays, and only charged us what he'd quoted in his original written estimate.

The boatyard in Cartagena had only the most basic facilities. Furthermore, the tropical heat in Cartagena would have definitely been detrimental to our mental and physical health had we stayed aboard while the work was being done. So we rented an air-conditioned apartment to stay in while We Three was on the hard. While she was hauled out, we also contracted with other workers to help scrape and sand the considerable amount of brightwork on our boat.

The total cost of the project - including the extras of the brightwork helpers and the apartment - came to just under $2,500 U.S. This included all the paint - including two-part epoxy for the hull and topsides, and some really nasty stuff for the bottom. The quality of work was very acceptable to us, as they did a good job of masking off and there were no paint overruns. Once we got the boat back in the water, we found the few places that needed touching up. Manuel and his crew promptly took care of the problem.

All in all, our boat looks great on the outside. We didn't stay longer to have the inside of the boat made as new-looking as the outside, because we wanted to head to Key West before the hurricane season started in June. We regret not having gotten the inside done, too.

Some folks recommended that we take taxis in Colombia, but we always took the bus on the 45-minute ride from our apartment in Laguito - a very nice section of town - to Ferrocem, where the boatyard was located. Actually, it would have only taken 45 minutes if we could have stayed on just one bus. At times drivers helpfully shuffled us from one bus to another. For example, we'd look for a bus with the right destination sign, and always told the drivers where we wanted to go. They'd nod their heads, yes, that's where they were headed, and motion us aboard. But about halfway to Ferrocem, they would make us get on another bus. Our Spanish is limited, and we have an even harder time with Colombian accents, so we never did find out why we had to change buses. But kindness always prevailed, so we always got where we needed to go. Aside from a few smart-alec remarks from local teens, we never felt threatened. As elderly tourists, we were well taken care of by the Colombian people everywhere we went. Our month-long stay was enjoyable, educational and not a budget-buster. Can cruisers ask for anything more?

- dwight & fran 10/5/01

Aeventyr - Tayana 37
Matt Mason & Debra Stearns
Galapagos Islands
(Salt Lake City)

Our friend Pat McGill arrived with his 9-year old stepson KrisTopher for a nine-day stay with us in the Galapagos this March. They came bearing many delectable gifts: our mail, a new radar, and various treats that aren't available in the Galapagos. It was like Christmas in March. During their stay, we visited many of the tourist and ecological sites. It was a delight to have KrisTopher along, as he's an energetic waterbaby who got us to see everything through his young eyes.

The first day, Pat, Kris and Deb went to the Darwin Center to see the huge Galapagos tortoises. One of the Center's main goals is the preservation of the island's tortoises, as they almost went extinct in the 1930s. All the tortoise eggs from the islands are collected, and the young tortoises are raised in captivity for the first three years - which is the time they are most susceptible to predators. After that, they are returned to their respective islands to live their lives - which can last more than 200 years! Kris then met some local boys at the public dock. Every day the kids meet at high tide for swimming. While they may not have spoken the same language as Kris, they managed to communicate as only children can.

The next morning we rented a taxi to take us to the town of BelleVista for a tour of the lava tubes. The tube we visited was over a kilometer long and had been formed when the outside 'skin' of a molten lava flow solidified. The tunnels are quite large, and you can walk through them with flashlights. We later visited Devine Ranch, a private tortoise reserve where we got to see four large tortoises in the wild. Later we hiked to the white sands of beautiful Tortuga Bay, where we swam and snorkeled among marina iguanas, which looked prehistoric.

Despite the pace, we were all up bright and early the next morning to jerry jug fuel and water to the boat. We saved quite a bit of money by hiring a taxi to get the fuel and water, then dinghying it out to the boat ourselves. It's double the price when it's delivered. We then hired a tour guide to take us in his 15-ft boat to a small island near the entrance to Academy Bay. The water was clear, and we were able to swim with playful sea lions, sea turtles and a variety of fish. Our second stop was at another part of the bay, where we swam with white-tipped reef sharks. A bit anxious at first, we were assured that we didn't look like lunch to them. Kris even got to touch one. We spent the rest of the day provisioning the boat for the next day's trip to Villamil on Isla Isabela.

The trip to Villamil involved five hours of motoring and then a couple of hours of nice sailing. On the way, we were treated to the most amazing dolphin show we've ever seen. The performers were large bottlenose dolphins, and you had to be there to appreciate the show they put on. We arrived at the small village of Villamil - which looked like something out of a travel magazine photo spread - late in the afternoon. Although quite small, the village had everything we needed.

After checking in the next day, we had breakfast and then went for a long snorkel. In the afternoon, we took a 45-minute ride in a truck to the base of the Sierra Negra volcano, then rode to the top on horses. This wasn't the kind of horseback riding Deb was used to, as the horses were quite thin and the saddles consisted of rebar covered with tires! Although it sounds odd, the saddles were quite comfortable. The 'bridles' were nylon line tied around the bottom of the horses' jaw with reins attached. It was also primitive, but effective. We had a pleasant ride through the countryside to the rim of the volcano, which last erupted hundreds of years ago. We then took a hike across the lava - it looks much like a moonscape - to active fumeroles where there was the distinct smell of sulphur. The red soil stuck everywhere it landed, so when we returned to Villamil, we treated ourselves to showers at The Blue Dolphin. The best part of it is that we were able to put on clean clothes, as the laundry we dropped off the day before was already done.

Our last tourist experience was a hike to the Wall of Tears. There used to be a penal colony on this island, and they made the prisoners carry the lava rocks from Villamil to a site about five miles outside of town. The wall is quite large - about seven feet wide, 60 feet tall, and 200 yards long. It doesn't appear to have served any purpose other than being something for the prisoners to do. Nonetheless, it is quite impressive. After the hike, a swim in the ocean was most enjoyable. While in Villamil, we got to celebrate Pat's birthday by putting together one of his favorite meals: BBQ ribs, baked beans, coleslaw and brownies.

We returned to Academy Bay, and Pat and KrisTopher flew home a few days later. Since then we were able to get the radar installed - and it works! We are excited about using it, as it has many more features than our old one. It hasn't been all work, though. We've done three dives, two of them ranking as the best we've ever done. One was a drift dive at Daphne Minor, where we saw sea turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, a Galapagos shark, many fish, and a very interesting rock wall. It was very beautiful. Our next dive was at Gordon Rocks, where we again saw the turtles and sharks, and had two huge manta rays circle above us. They are so graceful! We also saw several moray eels, sculpins, and lots of fish - but the hammerhead sharks didn't show.

We are now getting ready for the passage to the Marquesas. Many boats have left already, but they haven't gotten much wind. We hope the longer we wait, the better our chances the southeast trades will have established themselves this far north. We are excited about the next leg of our journey, but are glad we spent this much time in the 'land of tortoises'.

- deb and matt 8/15/01

Readers - In the last issue, Matt and Debra reported on their challenging, 16-day, light-air passage from Z-town to the Galapagos.

Speck - Gemini Cat
Irwin Studenberg and Judy White
Bocas del Toro, Panama
(Detroit & San Diego)

The word is out in the world of international backpackers: Bocas del Toro, Panama, is cool. So when we casually walked down the middle of the wide main street - with small taxis calmly driving around us - we could hear English, Aussified English, French, German, Dutch, and Spanish being spoken. Bocas is a town for young people, and most of the backpackers sported some combination of the international youth uniform. The town has a hippie ambience, and every afternoon vendors set up tables to hawk hash pipes, beaded jewelry, macrame and other items reminiscent of the '60s. The Kuna Indians set up tables, too, but they mostly sold their traditional molas and beaded bracelets. Lots of the backpackers carry surfboards, for this area of Panama is reported to be the home of terrific and uncrowded surf spots. The older local residents look perplexed, as Bocas has only recently become so popular.

Even though we visited Bocas in February, the daytime temperatures were in the 80s and it was humid. At night, it dropped into the breezy 70s and reminded me of summer nights in San Diego. The pace of life is slow in Bocas. Kids and dogs, for example, play in the middle of the main street without danger. One dog even sleeps in the street. He's old and looks as though he's been doing it for years. The island-city's few cars and vans just go around him. Bocas comes alive at night, as does any place with lots of kids. Street performers juggle and swirl flaming batons trying to earn a little money for food, and music bellows out of the bars.

Bocas is located on the Caribbean side of Panama inside a very large archipelago not far from Costa Rica. The area is known for its many reefs, and has many beautiful and uninhabited islands just waiting to be explored. So the area is growing in popularity with cruisers as well as backpackers. Our anchorage to the west of town was so peaceful that we felt as though we were on land. We'd dinghy to shore each day, where we got free dockage at J&J Marine - where we also got fresh cistern water for washing. There's another dinghy dock located at the base of a two-story yellow house next to a small prison. It - meaning the dinghy dock - is unguarded, however. The best bargain in Bocas is located inside the yellow house: an Internet cafe where access was just $1.50/hour.

In addition to a fine anchorage, Bocas del Toro now has two marinas, both of which are good places to leave a boat in storage when flying back to the States. Marina Carrenero, the older and smaller one, is run by two Americans. Bocas Marina, which is newer and larger, is located to the west, and has floating docks and a laundry room. It's run by a young Belgium entrepreneur named Bruno and his Chilean wife, who also owns and manages the El Refugio restaurant. The couple are kind enough to allow dinghies to tie up to the restaurant dock at no charge - just be sure to reclaim your dinghy before they close for the night.

Our friends on Wayward Cru had a couple of unfortunate experiences with Marina Carrenero. They were three days late arriving - due to bad weather - and were charged for those days even though there was no waiting list for slips. They later left their slip several days before their prepaid 30 days were up. Even though they still had time left on the slip, the management refused to let them park their dinghy there!

Supplies in Bocas are somewhat limited. The two main groceries are more like country stores, with lots of canned and dry goods. Meats, fruits and vegetables are delivered twice a week from the mainland. Even so, we got vegetables from stands that were nice and fresh - including spinach, leeks, red lettuce, romaine lettuce, tomatoes and creamy avocados. So life is good even in this little town! Panama is located in the heart of the tropics, but the high elevations of the continental divide are cool, permitting the farming of non-tropical vegetables.

As in other parts of Panama, the Chinese seem to run most of the hardware and houseware stores. Some are friendly, but others are not. One day Amanda of Gingi and I went shopping in a store called La Sincera. When we tried on some beautiful 'broom skirts', one of the waist-ties broke. The Chinese lady started yelling at us in foul language. Apparently we're not the only ones she's been rude to. Maybe she's suffering from too swift an increase in the number of tourists.

Irwin and I generally found the restaurants in Bocas to be overpriced for the quality of food. Thin, half-dollar size 'mystery meat' patties, beef burritos with two nickel-size spots of beef, and greasy chicken were common. El Picado, upstairs next to the zocalo, was an extraordinary exception. The French owners created such delicious meals with French and Middle Eastern flavors that we couldn't stop going back. It's quite the local hangout, too, with an inside bar and balcony seating as well. A young couple from Oregon also opened up an upstairs coffeehouse that beats Starbucks any day. The previously-mentioned El Refugio, hidden around the west corner of the island, has good pizzas and soups. Lunches at the El Lorito cafeteria, across from the park, were a bargain. I got large and delicious portions of chicken, rice, lentils, coleslaw and a Coke for just $2.50.

American retirees are also flocking to Bocas, and some cruisers have swallowed the anchor to build houses on concrete pilings over the water. Usually they build a dock at the back of the house so they have a place to keep their boats. One such couple is Dan and Laurie Lahey, who headed south from Key West looking for adventures aboard their trawler Rip Tide. When they got to Bocas, they fell in love with the area and set up housekeeping on the adjacent island of Carrenero. Laurie even opened up a branch of the arts & crafts store she owns in Key West.

After being in Bocas for awhile, we buddyboated with Gingi and Wayward Cru to Drago Island, where we had the white sand beaches all to ourselves for three days. We then moved on to another bay, anchored for two more days, and went ashore to visit Dave and Linda Cerruti's 'Green Acres' farm. Spread over several hectares, it's mostly a green forest with lots of banana and coco trees. They process the coco beans into the most delicious chocolate! We all managed to carry away several chocolate balls for use in our morning coffee and dessert recipes. Dave, a former charter captain, and Linda are ex-pats from San Diego. The view from their living room, located halfway up the hill, looks out over the bay where they can see blue skies, green forest and clear water for miles. Cruisers can call them on VHF radio Channel 68 to request a visit to the farm. They love to give tours and swap stories.

The real estate prices in Bocas del Toro are skyrocketing - and seem a bit speculative. There was an uninhabitable dwelling on stilts for sale within jumping distance of the city jail - with an asking price of $90,000 U.S.! Some homes are listed for more than $225,000!

Bocas del Toro is nice, free from tropical storms, and a good place to store a boat for a few months. But as we continued northwest to places such as San Andres, it wouldn't be at the top of our list of places to return. But young backpackers might have a different opinion.

- judy & irwin 5/15/01

Velella - Wylie 31
Garth Wilcox & Wendy Hinman
(Port Ludlow, Washington)

What a shock to pull into the big city of Papeete after the solitude of the crossing from Mexico and visiting the lightly-populated islands of the Marquesas and the atolls of the Tuamotus! We hadn't been to a sizeable town since Puerto Vallarta - which in any event has nearly four times the population of Papeete, which only has 100,000.

We arrived in Papeete after three days of light-air sailing, and had to duck a high-speed ferry, a Korean fishing boat, and a small inter-island supply ship while entering the pass through the reef. We wanted to anchor in a quieter spot away from the famous quay - which is also famous for pesky boarders such as rats, ants and roaches. So we continued west inside the reef and past the airport to Maeva Beach. Port Control requires that boats get clearance to pass both ends of the runway, which is very close to the water. Amusingly enough, seconds after we got permission to pass the end of the runway a plane whizzed right past our mast on its decent to the tarmac!

Upon reaching Maeva Beach, we anchored in 12 feet of water next to friends we hadn't seen in a month. The water was such an aquamarine color that it seemed as though we'd dropped the hook in a swimming pool! When we looked over the side we could see our anchor - as well as the occasional stingray or conch outlined against the white sandy bottom.

We were psyched to enjoy a meal out, so we headed to one of the restaurant trucks - les roulettes - for an incredibly delicious $10 pizza. What a treat! Les roulettes - also known as 'roach coaches' - are basically outdoor eateries consisting of a kitchen in the back of a trailer with stools at the counter or nearby picnic tables.

We'd been warned that Papeete is an incredibly expensive place, and it's true. When in the States or Mexico, I'd be hard pressed to drop $20 on produce without buying more than we could eat before it rotted. But in Papeete - and most of French Polynesia - $20 will only buy you a couple of grapefruit, a mango and a papaya - all of which is grown locally and literally falling off the trees a few blocks away! I'm still trying to figure out why many fruits and vegetables imported from Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. are cheaper. I assume that it has something to do with all the French subsidies. We noticed many of the souvenir woodcarvings and Polynesian style pareos for sale had actually been made in Indonesia - probably for pennies. Regardless of how expensive fruits and vegetables were, we were excited to have them again after running out in the Tuamotus.

We did find a few 'deals' in Papeete. Les Brochuttes, for example, which features filling gourmet meals for $6-10 - such as steak in a pepper cream sauce with fries, fancy pizzas, chow mein, seafood skewers, and more tasty meals than I can remember. Baguettes are a bargain at $.40, and a baguette with ham is only $1 in the public market.

The bus ride to downtown Papeete from Maeva Beach took about 30 minutes and cost about $1. While in Papeete, we were kept busy doing our official check-in, extending our visas, getting email, locating and purchasing marine parts, and provisioning. The supermarkets were air-conditioned and as well-stocked as in the U.S. After the very limited selections we'd seen for the previous several months, it was an overwhelming blast of color and choices. Papeete imports food and food products from all over the world, so you never know what language the preparation instructions will be in.

After some provisioning, a friend kindly offered to tow my dinghy of groceries out to my boat so I wouldn't have to row against the wind. Alas, we stupidly went too fast and the groceries took a drenching. I was afraid for our handheld VHF, camera, and the flour I had just purchased - but was relieved to find that only the outside of the bags got wet. Lesson learned: regardless of how fast a friend's planing dinghy will go, our loaded Avon Redcrest becomes a submarine at anything but slow speeds. I learned another dinghy lesson one day when I rowed the Avon ashore to do a quick errand. On the way back, the wind piped up to 25 knots with chop. I had to keep telling myself I wasn't exhausted, or I would have been blown several miles downwind. At least I still would have been inside the reef.

In the evenings, we could hear the sound of the Tahitian drums calling to us to watch the dancers perform. We caught several dance performances that also featured beautiful Polynesian choral singing. Usually we were able to watch these impressive shows from the bar for just the price of a drink - which sometimes were $10 each! I'm not sure how those girls can swing those hips so fast, but I did notice that none of them were over the age of 25 - and many were much younger. One of the most impressive shows featured seven-year-old girls who swung their non-existent hips in a most provocative manner. They were just as professional as the other dancers - and twice as cute.

We had tried to make it to Papeete before the annual Fête celebration, but only made it for the last week. Islanders come from all over French Polynesia to compete in the month-long Fête. We did catch a few special events, including a crafts village, some canoe races and, our favorite, the fruit carrier's race. In the latter event, Polynesian men in traditional dress race around the city streets carrying 50 kilos of fruit tied to a log. Just watching them made my feet hurt.

We planned a big double birthday party with friends on nearby Moorea, but had to break the party into two parts because the birthday girls and half the invited guests were separated by stormy weather in the Sea of the Moon. The 'tragedy' was that Garth had to make his famous cheesecake twice! Yummie.

Few cruisers visit the south side of the island of Tahiti because it's upwind, but it sounded too inviting for us to miss. So we sailed to Maraa, then made our way up to Maraa Grotto, an incredible natural cavern deep in the rocky mountain that results in a freshwater lake. We enjoyed an intimate but brisk swim in the cave, with ferns hanging down and water dropping from the cavern roof above. The famous painter Paul Gaugin reported that he swam an hour before he reached the back wall. Either he was exaggerating or was a very slow swimmer. But it was a special spot that we're glad we made the effort to see.

We continued southeastward to visit Papeuriri Bay, another special place. When we arrived, we were welcomed by a group of young men in outrigger canoes who seemed glad that we'd come to visit. After anchoring and a little lunch in the pastoral setting, we headed ashore to visit the beautiful botanical gardens and the Paul Gaugin Museum. Gaugin led an interesting life, not only as a painter, but also as a traveller. The waterfalls of Vaipahi were also terrific.

Not everybody likes Papeete and Tahiti, but we wished we could have stayed longer. Unfortunately, we had to get moving, for we had a lot more of French Polynesia and the South Pacific to see before we needed to be in New Zealand for the start of hurricane season.

- wendy & garth 5/15/01

Icarus - F/J 39 Cat
David Law & Bonnie Carleton
Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally
(San Francisco)
[Continued from last month.]

Our passage to Israel was at night also, but differed from earlier ones in that we were entering a war zone. We approached from southern Lebanon, which is controlled ashore by the Hezbollah, and were sure that the Israeli Navy was alert to the approach of 28 boats. We were the lead boat, however, and got special treatment. When we got within two miles of the border, an unlit, silent, and very menacing Israeli navy vessel came up on us in the black. They shone a megalight into our eyes and asked lots of questions on channel 16 as they circled our catamaran. We were told to divert 12 miles offshore, and stay that far offshore until we were west of Haifa. When we told them they were in for a busy night, with 27 other boats in the Eastern Med Rally on the way, they managed to contact one of the rally organizers. As a result, all the boats that came after us didn't have to stay 12 miles offshore and could head directly for Haifa. Meanwhile, we continued offshore, and were stopped by Israeli navy ships two more times for lengthy conversations on 16.

Once in port, however, our land traveling in Israel was fantastic. Since we'd already visited Egypt, we decided to forgo that leg of the rally to travel in Israel and Jordan. So while the rally continued on to Port Said, we got together with six Germans and a Turkish dog named Pepe, and hired a guide and small van to take us around for four full days of touring. We swam in the Dead Sea, visited the discovery site of the Dead Sea Scrolls, climbed around Masada, the great bastion of spirit which infuses the Israelis as a people, and then went on to Eilat the next day, where we snorkeled along the coral reefs and saw lots of lovely fish.

The best part, however, was when we crossed the border to Jordan and spent a full day at Petra, which is perhaps our favorite site of this trip. Petra is a whole city carved out of the rock face of a spectacular gorge, which winds its way down a hillside and finally out into the valley below. The gorge or sik is somewhat like Zion National Park or one of those slices through the sandstone carved by seasonal torrents in Arizona, where the walls may be 1,000 feet high, but the gorge is no more than 10 feet wide at any point. Quite amazing! Like the other places we visited on this trip, we had Petra almost all to ourselves. Our guide said that tourism was down 80% in Israel since the peace talks had broken down in October, and the slowdown had affected the entire region.

We got back to our marina in Herzliya - five miles north of Tel Aviv - in time to rejoin the rally group that had returned from Egypt. Unknown to us, our trip to Jerusalem the next day could not have been more poorly timed. It was the day of the funeral for Hosseini, a highly-respected - on both sides - Palestinian Authority leader in Jerusalem who had suddenly died in Kuwait. To compound the situation, Shabbat, the Jewish holy day, was beginning that afternoon, and it was Friday, the Muslim holy day. To say things were tense in Jerusalem would be an understatement. The Israelis expected trouble and were prepared for it. Walking into the city's Arab Quarter was eerie, as the only people in the streets were a handful of us tourists and the Israeli military. Amazing Grace was playing on bagpipes over loudspeakers, narrow and darkened streets were lifeless, and all the shops were tightly shuttered.

Along the Western (Wailing) Wall, there must have been 50 Israeli police vehicles and scores of military guys lounging under any shade they could find, their weapons beside them. There were no people at all on the Via Dolorosa, that famous Way of Sorrows that leads up past the Fourteen Stations of the Cross to the Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It was also empty, except for a few pilgrims dressed in colorful robes who had clearly come a long way. The last time I'd been in Jerusalem was '96, and it was so mobbed on the Via Dolorosa and in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher that I was pushed and shoved every which way and could hardly see anything except above people's heads. Another person in our group said she'd been to Jerusalem six times and had never seen it so empty. Although it was rather ominous, Jerusalem is still an awe-inspiring place. We're glad we went, but we were all very glad to get out safely as well.

Back in Tel Aviv and Herzliya, it wasn't that trouble was unexpected, just that it had been free of serious attacks. That night, however, a huge bomb went off outside a teen disco on the beach promenade of central Tel Aviv. We couldn't hear the explosion because we were in the middle of a raucous party, but those on the boats in the marina heard it distinctly. When we got the news from the BBC on the SSB radio later that night, it was pretty clear this was something pretty horrible and pretty big.

While we weren't going anywhere because of weather, it was clear that there could be trouble. Sure enough, the next day 28 attack helicopter gunships dragged their landing gear just over our masts as they flew north in small groups along with about 10 command helicopters and a reconnaissance jet. It looked like an attack on the Hezbollah-held area of Lebanon where the bomber might have come from, but it turned out to be a long planned military training operation.

We remained in Israel longer than planned because of the trouble and unfavorable weather, but finally left for southern Cyprus, which is controlled by the Greeks. It is a lovely place, particularly up in the mountains, which are green, heavily forested, and full of villages untouched by modern life. We spent a couple of days in a rental car and liked it a lot. And after months in Islamic and Jewish states, you can guess what else it meant - pork chops! As well as spare-ribs and bacon. What porky bliss for us.

We then sailed off across the southern coast of Cyprus, around the western end of the island, and northwest to the coast of Turkey. It turned out to be an uneventful 29-hour passage, as we had to motor the entire way on cheap Cypriot fuel. In fact, it was so calm that we just stopped the boat about 34 miles off the Cyprus coast, barbecued pork chops, and ate dinner in the calm of the cockpit as the sun went down.

Would we recommend the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally? Absolutely. We met lots of nice and interesting people, many of whom are now friends. The event was well organized and run by Hassan Kacmaz, the charismatic and respected general manager of Kemer Marina. We're also glad we did it because we got to places we probably wouldn't have gone to on our own. The parties were great and we danced more in the last month than we had in the last 10. Finally, it was an amazing value.

On the negative side, in order to save daylight hours for fun, all the passages were at night. The boats with more crew to share watches did better than we. In fact, we often arrived at our next port too pooped to do much that day. Also, this was a rally, not a vacation, and we discovered that we're probably not 'rally people' - meaning we don't relish traveling everywhere with a large group on a tight, fast-paced schedule. There were deadlines to be met, people waiting for us at each port, and events planned way in advance. So whatever the weather, on we went. That being said, we're still very, very glad we did it. Anyway, now that we're back in Turkey, we've regressed again to our naturally slothful ways, and are happily back on the slow track.

- bonnie and david 6/15/01

Crocodile Rock - Mystery Cove 38
Richard Brooker & Grace Spencer
Calling On Corinto, Nicaragua
(Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)

Because of the U.S. involvement in Nicaragua's 'civil war' in the '80s and '90s, most cruisers steer clear of the Central American country to avoid what they feel might be trouble or animosity. Consequently, about the only cruisers who pull in at Corinto are those experiencing boat trouble. We had a little engine difficulty ourselves, so we decided to pull in with our cat. It turns out that Corinto is such a great spot that we advise all cruisers to stop!

The charts for Corinto - which is located at the end of an estuary in the northwest part of the country - are excellent. It's a very easy port to enter, with plenty of depth and a well-marked entrance. The current, however, can run at up to two knots. The estuary is large, so there is plenty of room to anchor.

While there are no yacht services, the local officials happily let us tie our dinghy to the back of one of the port survey boats at the main commercial pier. Everybody was helpful and very friendly, and lots of people spoke English. We met a young fellow named Silvio, who is trying to build a bit of a business helping cruisers. His knowledge of who had what engine skills saved us an awful lot of work and money. We also enjoyed a trip to Chinandega on a local bus accompanied by Silvio and his wife. Should anyone arrive in Corinto and need work or assistance, they should ask for Silvio. Everyone on the dock knows him.

The one negative of Corinto is that it's not free of crime. Silvio advised us to be cautious about leaving things in the cockpit, particularly at night. Nicaraguans are very poor, with the average annual income being about $500 a year. The only employment locally is stevedoring at the commercial docks, and there's not much of it.

Nonetheless, we've been in Corinto a week and have loved every minute of it. It's one of the best places we've been, and well worth the stop even if you're not in distress.

- richard & grace 9/15/01

Richard & Grace - Michael Beattie and Layne Goldman of Miki G. stopped by our office the other day, and are curious what you found so wonderful about Corinto. These folks are about as open-minded as you can get, as evidenced by the fact their next cruising goal is Haiti, which everybody avoids. The couple stopped in Corinto about two years ago, and weren't impressed, particularly by the officialdom, whose goal seemed to be making life as unnecessarily difficult as possible. They also went up to Chinandega, where they bought the materials and paid the labor for building toilet facilities at a school. "There is really nothing there," they said.

Cruise Notes:

"We arrived at Gocek, Turkey, in late August," report Jim and Mary Haagenson of the Glen Cove-based Hudson Force 50 Illusion. "Jim sailed from Glen Cove - near Vallejo - way back in August of '95 and has been out cruising ever since. After making a left turn at the Gate, he headed south, stopping at every country on the Pacific Coast until he reached Peru. He then headed west to Easter Island and Pitcairn. His six-day visit with the descendents of the Bounty mutineers was to be the highlight of his time in the Pacific. He then island-hopped through Polynesia to the Cooks, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Australia. He found Indonesia interesting, in part because there were riots in Jakarta. Illusion also had the privilege of being the first foreign boat to stay at the president's private marina. Singapore seemed like a giant Disneyland."

Jim's life really changed, however, at little Rebak Island in northwest Malaysia, where there's a resort, boatyard and marina that treats cruisers well. "I spent two years there," says Jim, "during which time I met Mary's aunt and uncle, who were on vacation. Although I was enjoying bachelor solitude at the wonderful resort and marina, I admitted that I would not turn away the perfect woman if she came to my boat looking to crew. They assured me that they knew just such a woman - and in Mary, they were right. After a month of trading emails with her, I flew to England to meet her, and discovered she was just what the captain ordered. After she joined me in Malaysia, we flew to California to get married, then we returned to the boat in Rebak and started sailing together."

"The Indian Ocean was beautiful," say the couple of their first travels together, "and Illusion made a pit stop at Male, in the Maldive Island Republic. Our passage through Yemen was spent dodging pirates, who attacked three British boats just miles away from us. The Brit boats had apparently gotten too close to the coast. Aden provided a safe harbor before the long slog up the Red Sea. Except for diving, the Red Sea is best transited as quickly as possible. Despite the bad press, Israel was peaceful and friendly. We're now in Turkey doing the usual repairs and resting. We may stay awhile."

Last month Jim and Diana Jessie of the Alameda-based Lapworth 48 Nalu IV returned home after a 33,000-mile adventure in the North Pacific. It started with the Mexico to Manila Race a few years ago, after which they continued on to Japan, back to the Phillipines, Hong Kong, Japan again, Russia, the Bering Sea to Alaska, and last year the Pacific Northwest. "Now what?" we asked Diana. "Well, Jim has flown back to Florida to do a survey on a boat, and I'm just trying to thaw out. It was very beautiful in the Northwest - but it was also very cold and wet. I've given up figuring out what we're going to do next." Did we mention that in '85 the Jessies started on what turned out to be a seven-year, 60,000-mile circumnavigation?

If you'll be cruising south to Mexico, you'll no doubt be interested in a list of the more popular SSB nets. Ha-Ha entrants will find times, frequencies and descriptions for the Manaña, Amigo, Chubasco, Sonrisa and Southbound nets in their copies of Latitude's First-Timer's Guide To Cruising Mexico, which will be handed out with all the other goodies at the October 28th Kick-Off Party. Gary Jensen of Spiritress has also provided us with a more extensive list, one that includes the Baja Maritime, Picante, Pacific Maritime and Happy Hour nets. The information he provided was posted on 'Lectronic Latitude on Friday September 28. Just go to, then click in the blinking 'Lectronic box to find them.

"You ran our story about the Paris Tropical Restaurant of Tenacatita Bay in the July issue," write Richard McKay and Karen Peterson of the South Lake Tahoe-based Cascade 36 Irie. "But the photo we sent and you published was not of us, but of restaurant owners Cyril and Vinciane. We were sorry to read on 'Lectronic Latitude that they may not be welcomed back by Blue Bay. At least we carry wonderful memories of the times we shared in Tenacatita."

As you have probably heard, things are changing down here in Puerto Escondido, in the Sea of Cortez," reports the Winship family aboard the Crowther 33 cat Chewbacca. "Fonatur - the government tourist development agency that created the likes of Cancun and Cabo - has decided to complete the resort that was begun at Puerto Escondido some 20 years ago. That project has had a couple of rocky starts, with millions of investor dollars having disappeared on two different occasions. There have also been design problems - such as planning a hotel right in the middle of an arroyo wash. The Mexican bureaucracy, which would even make a Washington, D.C., lobbyist blush, hasn't helped. Fonatur claims that when the resort is completed, there will be a marina with mooring fields much like those at Catalina Island, shops, hotels, condominiums, and of course time-share salespeople. But as we all know, in manañaland, things like this can take time. It could be two to 20 years before the project gets completed - or started."

"But to help cruisers get used to the idea of paying for the moorings," the Winships continue, "Fonatur has come up with a new fee schedule or Catalogo De Tarifas Para Puerto Escondido. To anchor - remember, the mooring fields don't exist yet - the charge is $4.50 U.S. per day or $75 a month. Water from the dock's hose is $2 for 53 gallons. Car parking is $2.50 U.S. a day - or negotiable if you don't need a receipt. The turmoil in the harbor hasn't affected us much, as we tend to stay out at the islands - such as the Marquer anchorage at Isla Carmen - snorkeling with the kids in the warm clear waters that teem with sealife. Ah, life is good again! By the way, we enjoyed last year's Ha-Ha and wish a safe trip to all participating this year.

We received a similar report on Puerto Escondido fees - and a fat Fonatur brochure - from Bill and Jean of Mita Kuuluu, who were anchored out at Isla Carmen. "As of today, September 5, nobody has paid the new fees," they report. "But quite a few boats have left the harbor in protest."

"We suppose it's inevitable that Mexico will start charging mooring fees for its most popular anchorages. Personally, we have nothing against it, as long as the fees are reasonable and there isn't a telephone book size stack of paperwork involved. Those are two big 'ifs'. The good thing to remember about Mexico is that there are countless free places to anchor. Indeed, when first-time cruisers return from Mexico, they often have the same regret: they spent too much time - and money - in marinas and tourist areas, and not enough time on the hook."

Our big fear is that Mexico grossly misunderstands the market for such big developments in the Sea of Cortez. The most surprising statement in the Fonatur brochure reads - mistakes and all - as follows: "The high increase in the number of sea crafts arrivals is expected, and predicts reaching 76,400 by the year 2010. It is currently estimated that 8,000 sea craft visit the region per year, representing only 15% of the estimated potential market. There exists an unlimited demand for the 3,650 local marina slips, a factor that supports the projected expansion of this segment of the tourism market."

Where do these people get their numbers? There is nowhere close to 3,650 recreational boat slips in the Sea of Cortez. And try telling the folks at Marina San Carlos - where requests for slips is the lowest in years - that there's an "unlimited demand" for slips, particularly in the middle and upper part of the Sea. And unless Mexico takes drastic steps to eliminate the overly expensive and time-consuming checking in and out procedures, the number of visiting boats is going to decline, not increase.

More on moorings. "In keeping with its 1989 designation of the privately-owned Mustique as a conservation area, the government of St. Vincent & the Grenadines have prohibited anchoring within 1,000 feet of shore. Visiting boats are now instructed to make use of one of the 34 buoys that have been placed in Britannia Bay. Boats up to 35 feet are charged $50/day E.C.; 36 to 70 feet will be $75/day E.C.; while those over 100 will be charged $375/day E.C. The E.C. trades at 2.7 to the dollar - and has held firm at that rate for 25 years." Mustique is the small island playground that at times has been home to the likes of David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Princess Margaret. It's a nice island for walking around, although the only tourist facilities are Basil's Bar and the Cotton House. Encouraging - or requiring - boats to use mooring buoys as opposed to anchors is an environmentally-motivated strategy being instituted across much of the Caribbean.

Ernie Minney of Minney's Yacht Surplus in Newport Beach wants everybody to know that they will be holding their annual Marine Swap Meet and Class of 2001 Cruiser's Party on Sunday October 21. Spaces are $30 for private parties and $60 for commercial vendors. The meet starts at 7 am and ends at noon. The early-birds get the worms, of course. "After the swap meet," says Ernie, who circumnavigated in a schooner many years ago, "I'd like all the bonafide cruisers - meaning those headed to Mexico in the next 90 days - to join us for a great lunch and see if they can put away more beer than the Class of 2000. The party will be a great opportunity for cruisers to meet one another, exchange radio schedules, and kick back at the best marine junk store on the planet." Reservations are a must, so call (949) 548-4192. Folks who drop the hook at the free anchorage in Newport Beach can dinghy to Josh Slocum's restaurant, then make the short walk to the store at 1500 Old Newport Blvd in Costa Mesa. For details, visit

For those who haven't headed south yet, there will also be a Boater's Swap Meet at Oyster Point Marina in South San Francisco on October 20, from 7 am to 1 pm. Call (650) 588-5432.

The following weekend, from 3 to 6 pm on October 27, John and Pat Rains, authors of the just published and excellent Mexico Boating Guide, will be giving a three-hour Mexico Boating Seminar at the San Diego Sheraton. There is a $45 fee for the event, which will cover topics such as paperwork, weather, passage tactics, and security in Mexico. Call (888) 302-2628. John and Pat have been running boats between San Diego and Fort Lauderdale for more than 20 years. By the way, this seminar is the day before the start of the Ha-Ha Final Sign-In and Kick-Off Party - to be held just a couple of hundred yards away at Cabrillo Isle Marina.

The weekend after that, November 3 from 12 am to 4 pm, Downwind Marine of San Diego will be hosting their giant 2001 Cruisers' Fair, complete with product demonstrations and factory reps to answer all your questions. Downwind will do the burgers and hot dogs; everyone else is asked to bring a side dish to share. In addition to the free lunch, there will be a big raffle of marine products and other fun. Call (619) 224-2733 or visit for details on the Cruisers' Fair - as well as the 12 cruising seminars they present between October 16 and December 4. There is a $3 fee for the seminars.

"We made it to West Palm Beach from San Francisco," report Morris and Liz Raiman of the Berkeley YC-based Nautical 39 SOCI. "We're giving up cruising for the time being - not seeing our family members for so long is one of the big reasons. But we'll dearly miss all the cruising buddies we made between Mexico and here."

"Back in April, I travelled to India for the wedding of a former grad school roommate," writes Peter Kacandes of Menlo Park. "The wedding was close to Goa, which is the part of India that was colonized by Portuguese traders. The accompanying photo of the defunct-looking building of the Goa Yachting Association was the only sign I noticed of a local sailing presence. I was kind of surprised that not many cruisers stop in India and wonder if you might have any insight as to why everyone seems to head straight across the Indian Ocean?" We've been asked this question several times, and folks always give us the same answer: Bureaucratic hassles make the experience unbearable.

"We just started our long-awaited cruise," report Chris, Debbie, and Heather (13) McKesson of the Bremerton, Washington-based Columbia 36 Sundance. "We started by sailing from Puget Sound to San Francisco Bay. We've never been here before, so it's an exotic foreign port to us. We're having a little trouble getting used to the shallow water, as up in Washington we set the depth alarm at 20 feet and sometimes anchor in 40 feet. Here we often see single-digits. Even though San Francisco isn't far from Washington, there's a big difference in culture, and we're really enjoying it. We also like the free showers and no extra charge for shorepower in Berkeley." The most interesting thing about the family's 32-year old Columbia 36? She has an electric motor. We hope to have more on this boat feature next month.

Earlier in Changes we mentioned that Michael Beattie and Patricia Goldman of the Gemini cat Miki G. had stopped by our offices. Before they left, these budget cruisers handed us a $1,000 check for the Ha-Ha fundraiser - bringing the total to $2,400 - for Norm Goldie to distribute to the poor indigenous people of the San Blas region of Mexico. "We know that a few cruisers get ticked off at Norm because he gets on the radio and tells everyone anchored at Matenchen Bay that they need to check in at San Blas," the couple said, "but we have complete faith that he'll put the donated money to its best use." Incidentally, Michael and Patricia made the donation on the condition that their total be matched by others, so if you're feeling generous, your contribution will count double.

"We have a complaint about some cruisers," write Randy and Lourae Kenoffel of the Beneteau/Moorings 500 Pizazz. The couple left San Francisco eight years ago, have done most of their cruising in the southern Caribbean, and are currently in Golfito, Costa Rica. "During our cruising, we've noticed that many cruisers use photocopies of various guides - particularly the Zydlers' Panama Guide, which is very useful and helpful for both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of that country. We think cruisers who copy the guide are being cheap, and they are paying the wrong people - the owners of the photocopying stores rather than the Zydlers who did all the work. We say spend another night on the hook instead of in a marina, and pay for the book."

It's noteworthy that it's the Kenoffels who make the complaint. For they did a lot of work putting together the best current cruising guide for the coast of Colombia and transiting between Panama and the Eastern Caribbean - and give it away free to anyone who . (The file is too big to be sent over Sailmail or Winlink, but it's also available at the Caribbean Compass website at, and also appeared in the March and April 2000 editions of Latitude.) So nobody can accuse them of being whiners. If you plan on heading through the Canal and to the Eastern Caribbean, or to Florida via the Eastern Caribbean - a great idea, by the way - you should definitely email for the Kenoffels' guide. They tell you how to complete what was once a very difficult and dangerous passage in a series of mostly daysails.

Speaking of Nancy Schwalbe Zydler and Tom Zydler, the second edition of their The Panama Guide, which is 322 pages long and has 187 detailed chartlets, has been published by Seaworthy Publications. It's a much needed guide because Panama is a terrific country for cruising, as it has everything from the San Blas Islands and Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean side, and the Las Perlas Islands and the Darien jungle on the Pacific side. There's even a waterway - the Panama Canal - that runs between the two oceans. Nancy and Tom have produced a fine guide, for which we only have two minor criticisms. First, Panama is such a photogenic country, it would have been great if they could have expanded on the number of color photos. Second, as is the case with most cruising guides, some regional charts would be welcome additions to help folks get oriented. Nobody should cruise to Panama without the guide, which retails at $44.95.

"We're looking to sail from Tampa, Florida, to San Francisco," writes Kent Dudley, "and wonder if there are any old Latitude articles that address the passage from the Panama Canal to San Francisco, and what cruising guides address this trip. We're trying to determine what port and stops cruisers make along the way."

Latitude has published many reports on the topic, unfortunately, we don't have the staff to do article research. But generally speaking, there are three ways to get to San Francisco from Panama: 1) Via Hawaii, 2) Via the old clipper ship route, that actually takes you south of the Galapagos, then halfway between Hawaii and the West Coast before heading to the mainland, and 3) Coastal hopping. If you're going to chose the third option - as most mariners do - John Rains' Cruising Ports: California to Florida, is about the only book on the subject. As you close on Panama, however, you'll begin crossing paths with scores of cruisers who have just come the other way and therefore can provide you with the latest information on the best stops. It can be a long slog from Panama, and gets much cooler north of Cabo, but you'll survive. You'll also be interested in the following item:

"I fought off feisty thunderstorms between Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas as I started my Baja Bash on August 2, had a great run to Bahia Santa Maria, got caught by a storm southwest of Abreojos, and then lost my engine to a broken water pump," reports Win of the Islander 36 Nebula. "While at Ascuncion, I jury-rigged an external raw water system to the engine. At Turtle Bay, the solar protection on my jib shredded, and I discovered a leak in the diesel fuel system. I went up the mast at Cedros to remove one of my radar reflectors before it fell, then had a great run to Colnett - where my batteries died due to a problem with a hi-tech charger. On September 5, I sailed into Ensenada and was hauled the next day. I never would have completed the Bash without the help and advice of my ham friends and contacts from the Manaña Net: Kermit of Albuquerque, the manager; Charley of Dallas/Fort Worth; John of Phoenix, who did the weather; and Neil of Novia, the greatest diesel mechanic on frequency. My Islander sailed very well upwind without the engine. Thus ends my three years of cruising in Mexico."

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