With reports this month from
Punk Dolphin drifting away at Beveridge
Reef; from Chewbacca on cruising
aboard a small cat; from Shayna on
actively cruising in a couple's 70s; from Wanderlust
on becoming a nature lover in the Galapagos; from Annapurna
on moving on from Thailand to the Maldives; from Buccaneer
Days at Two Harbors, Catalina; from Joliga
II in New Guinea; from Notre Vie
in the Med; from The Cat's Meow in
Puerto Escondido; and Cruise Notes.
Punk Dolphin - Wylie 38
Bird Livingston & Suzie Grubler
Lost Our Anchor Rode
The night started innocently enough. We anchored Punk
on a lee shore just inside the pass at Beveridge Reef - a tiny
coral reef in the middle of nowhere in the South Pacific - so
we would be close to the pass for diving the following day. Our
friends and fellow divers on the Swan 57 Cowrie Dancer
were anchored about 40 yards away, and invited us for dinner.
We had just finished a delicious curry chicken meal and were
chatting about the usual yachtie stuff when it started pouring
down rain. Having battened down the hatches before leaving Punk,
and having brought our foul weather gear with us, we had no worries,
Soon the wind started howling at more than 30 knots, making the
seas inside the lagoon too big for our 2 hp outboard-powered
dinghy. We looked out the companionway every now and then to
make sure Punk wasn't dragging and continued our visit
- although we were anxious about the situation and wanted to
get back to our boat. For one thing, Jonathan had not put the
anchor rode through the hawse pipe, and casually mentioned that
he was a little concerned about potential chafe from the bow
There were several lulls in the wind, but each time we'd put
our foulies back on and get ready to go, it would howl at 30
knots again. Realizing it would be very hard to safely get into
our dinghy, let alone make it back to our boat, we kept postponing
the trip. Even our hosts mentioned they were concerned about
the possibility of having to come to our rescue if our dinghy
When the wind finally dropped to 24 knots, we made a break for
it. Getting into the dinghy was like trying to step onto the
back of a bucking bronco - but we made it successfully and started
motoring towards Punky. The first thing we noticed is
that she was stern to the wind and waves, which was really weird.
As we got closer, we noticed there wasn't an anchor rode coming
off the bow anymore! Shit, shit, shit!
'Ladies and gentlemen, start your engine', we said to ourselves,
for our boat was headed out the pass. There was so much adrenaline
pumping through my body that I was shaking, but luckily Bird
and I managed to keep thinking clearly. He got the engine started
and Punky turned around before she ended up on the reef
or drifted out the pass to never-never land. We must have used
up a lot of karma points on this incident, because had we stayed
on Cowrie Dancer for even just a couple of more minutes,
there's no telling what would have happened to our boat.
Bird checked the bow of Punk and confirmed that our rode
had chafed through. We had known better, of course, but we figured
we'd only be gone a couple of hours, and there was no way the
rode could chafe through so quickly. But it did.
But our troubles weren't over yet. Motoring around inside a little
barrier reef at night is nerve-racking in itself, but when Jonathan
told me to steer 270° to exit the pass out into the ocean,
I just about freaked! Actually, I mutinied. I told him that if
he wanted to try to negotiate the pass when he couldn't see the
reef, he'd have to do it himself, because I refused.
Bird's first instinct had been to blow little Beveridge by heading
for the open ocean and Tonga. He thought that would be the safest.
Then he realized it would be dumb to leave our anchor and all
our chain in a place where we could easily retrieve it the next
day. So his second thought was to get outside the reef and hove
to for the night. Mind you, we have another anchor and lots of
rope rode, but all our chain was on the bottom of the lagoon.
And the lagoon has so many coral heads that it was unlikely that
a rope road would last through the night.
Fortunately, when Bird radioed Cowrie Dancer to update
our situation, Dale mentioned they had extra half-inch chain
and a big CQR. Whew! We motored up and down the lagoon until
Dale could get things ready, then pulled up to the dinghy behind
their boat to pick up the new ground tackle. We held station
while he attached his chain and anchor, then threw it all overboard.
I'm typing this email while on anchor watch, counting our blessings.
We could easily be boatless right now.
Even before this happened, Bird had been itching to get underway
to Tonga because the Beveridge Reef lagoon doesn't provide much
protection and it's rolly at anchor - and he hates rolly anchorages.
But I thought the diving is phenomenal, so I talked him into
staying one more night for one more dive the following morning.
So I'll be getting my wish of another dive tomorrow - diving
to find our lost anchor and chain! After that, we'll be on our
- suzie 10/3/03
Chewbacca - Crowther 30 Cat
The Winship Family
Currently in Panama
Ever since the editor of Latitude, and Chris White, the
author of Cruising Multihulls, have made public the
notion that cruising in a catamaran under 40 feet is unsafe,
we on Chewbacca have been sieged with questions regarding
our young family and our boat. Chewbacca is a Lock
Crowther-designed 30-footer with a 22-foot beam. Starting in
1985, she became known as a proven race boat in Australia, and
was later campaigned in San Francisco - winning several races
including the Doublehanded Farallones. After we bought her eight
years ago, we traded away her racing sails for anchor chain,
thereby beginning the process of turning her into an admittedly
spartan cruising boat.
For the past three years, starting with a Ha-Ha, we have put
our cat through her paces cruising in Mexico, Central America,
and now down to Panama. Even after all this time we're still
learning a lot about our boat. Luckily, we're still not experts
at sailing a 30-ft cat through real storms and big seas, but
so far she's handled several bouts of fairly nasty weather well.
Potential cat owners always ask how important the '40-foot rule'
is. This is how we 'little cat' people feel about it:
1) Much as with monohulls, when all other things are equal,
the potential boat speed increases with the waterline. But more
importantly, the longer the waterline, the greater the load carrying
ability. This is critical on cruising boats, because these days
cruisers like to take just about everything with them. It's not
unheard for boats to have washer/dryers, trash compactors, and
electrical systems that could power a small village. But an overloaded
multihull not only performs poorly, but is potentially less stable
and less safe. A few designers are answering this problem by
simply making the hulls wider. This increases the cargo carrying
capacity, but at the expense of performance. This may be why
most of today's production catamarans are 36 feet and longer,
and why the average length seems to be getting longer every year.
We recognize the limited weight carrying capacity of our small
catamaran, and have therefore done our best to keep her light.
In the process, our boat has become what some other cruisers
call 'technologically challenged'. For example, our running water
system consists of my wife April running out of water and me
having to get into the dink and running off to fill another jerry
jug. We have no water tankage - unless you count the five jugs
of water we carry belowdeck. So far I haven't had to rebuild
a watermaker or replace a leaking water tank, but I probably
have more mileage on my Tevas then the next guy.
Want a cold drink? We left our fridge ashore. Luckily, every
now and then we anchor next to some of the kindest cruisers -
who actually have cooled drinks. You should see the kids' eyes
twinkle when they see our friends on the trawlers Epilog or
401K drop anchor within rowing distance! Actually, it normally
wasn't too hard to find ice throughout Mexico and Central America.
Since our cat's auxiliary power comes from a single 9.9 hp outboard,
we don't have an alternator to charge up the batteries. So we
supplement our power needs with a small solar panel and a wind
generator. The real workhorse, however, is a 1,000-watt Honda
generator coupled to a 45-amp IOTA brand battery charger. When
the sun and wind don't cooperate, our generator is always able
to top off a half depleted battery bank in an hour or so. The
generator and charger weigh in at less than 35 lbs, and their
combined cost - $800 - is less than a big solar panel or another
wind generator. The generator also runs the sewing machine
and all our power tools, so we don't need a big and expensive
In our windlass locker, you'll find a pair of leather gloves
that I use to haul up the hook. Our autopilot came off a Cal
2) We believe that a blanket statement suggesting that the
safety of a boat increases with her waterline can be very misleading.
We've seen 50-ft boats - both monohull and multihull - that we
wouldn't cross Lake Merritt on, but we've also seen 26-ft boats
that have successfully crossed oceans. We think that the design,
construction, and condition of a boat are the most important
factors in her being seaworthy.
3) When asked about the trade-offs of turning a race horse
into a plow horse, I have to admit we no longer reach along at
14 knots as we used to off Alcatraz, and that we've had to raise
the waterline twice. On the other hand, I haven't worn socks
in three years - it's a cross that I must bear.
4) Would we like a bigger catamaran? Yes - but not at the
cost of having to work for another five years. We'd rather go
now with what we have, which is more than adequate - unless we
needed full standing headroom for the whole family.
5) Cats may not be 'salty' looking, but I've never heard anyone
describe Êlan or Pantera as being ugly. With
lines as classic as a red Ferrari, they look fast even when tied
to the dock.
Luckily for us, the wind has been from aft most of the way to
Panama, and perhaps because we have such an ugly boat, we have
had most of the anchorages to ourselves. So, here we are, anchored
off a paradise of an island, watching another tropical sunset,
probably not knowing how bad off we really are. I think I'll
get in my Porta-Bote and go look for some ice for my rum.
- bruce 10/15/03
Shayna - Hylas 45.5
Larry Hirsch & Dorothy Taylor
Cruising Two Boats
The 'Old Fogies' are still at it! We completed our 'circumnavigation'
of the Atlantic in January, sailing from the Med to Martinique
via the Canary Islands, thus ending five years of cruising in
Europe. Our Atlantic crossing was a great 21-day sleighride -
not bad for a couple in our mid-70s! After bopping down to Bonaire
to leave our boat for hurricane season, we flew home to San Diego
for a few months.
What we really need to tell you about is what we did in Europe
for the last two summers. After a taste of canal cruising in
the United Kingdom a few years ago, we thought we needed a change
of pace and scenery from ocean sailing. So while we wintered
on Shayna in Barcelona two years ago, we started to look
for a stinkpot canal boat in Europe. We had a great time wandering
through France and The Netherlands, mostly by rental car, checking
Our original plan was romantic - to buy an old iron Dutch canal
barge. We quickly came to the conclusion that they were too big
and would require a ton of time and money to upgrade. Then we
heard that the Crown Blue Line, a company that is sort of the
Sunsail of canal boats - in fact, Sunsail owns them - sells off
some of their older canal charter boats every year. So we ended
up buying a 40-ft, three-bedroom, two-bath, 25-year-old ex-charter
boat with a four-banger Perkins diesel.
Buying a boat in the Netherlands is simplicity to the nth degree.
There is no paperwork or government registration - at least for
boats under 40 feet with limited speed capability. Liability
insurance isn't required, but it's very cheap so we bought it.
We didn't have the boat surveyed, figuring that we two old salts
knew what we were looking at. Larry did want to haul the boat
out to check her hull. Since Tulip had never been in saltwater,
her bottom was as smooth as the proverbial baby's behind.
Our Shayna is pretty much a high-tech boat with all the
bells and whistles, but not Tulip. When you canal, it's
a whole different thing, as there is no need for radios, GPS,
speedos, depthsounders, paper or electronic charts, pilot books,
autopilots, or inverters. You don't even need a compass!
We named our new boat Tulip and spent two glorious summers
cruising the Dutch canals and rivers, returning to our faithful
Shayna for the rest of the year. If this wasn't a sailing
magazine, we'd tell you all about it. But at the beginning of
this year we decided that with family commitments to nine grandchildren,
it was impossible for us to maintain two boats. Since by this
time we'd learned we were more saltwater than freshwater mariners,
and that canaling is too tame for us, we put Tulip up
for sale. She sold in a week until the buyer got cold feet
at the last minute.
Although we're still two-boat owners, we'll head back to Bonaire
next week and start our trip to Cartagena, the San Blas Islands,
and into the Pacific. Look out Mexico, we're coming back!
- larry & dorothy 10/20/03
Larry and Dorothy - We hadn't heard
from you in a little while, so we were getting a little worried.
The arrival of your 'Changes'
made our week, as you two are tremendous inspirations. Somewhere
between Mexico and Cartagena you'll be passing in the opposite
direction of Profligate, so she'll be keeping an eye out
- Hunter 466
San Cristobal, Galapagos
My crew of Carla, the beautiful redhead from Namibia, and Fabio,
a Brazilian I met in Panama, are here with me enjoying the Galapagos
after a sail from Panama. The Ecuadorian government has a new
rule for yachties in the Galapagos - we can stay for 20 days
and visit all three ports. This week we are at San Cristobal,
and before long we'll be moving on to Isabella and finally Santa
The Ecuadorians are the most friendly and helpful people we've
met to date. Right now, Fabio is on a three-day dive excursion,
while Carla and I are relaxing in port. She'll fly home next
week from Santa Cruz to continue her studies, so I may look for
a new third crewmember as our next leg to the Marquesas will
be 3,500 miles.
My future plans are to stay in the Marquesas for a few weeks,
then sail to Hawaii at the end of November, arriving before Christmas.
I will then fly home for a few weeks before returning to Hawaii
to sail my boat back to the Bay Area in time for Pacific Sail
Expo in April. Hunter wants to show off my boat there once again.
Next fall, I plan to do my second Baja Ha-Ha, then hang around
Mexico and Banderas Bay until the Puddle Jump to French Polynesia
in April. Then I'll continue west to do a circumnavigation. Since
I've already sailed this boat to the Med, I will have completed
the loop there in 2005.
I've read that Profligate will be going through the Canal
soon in order to spend New Year's in St. Barth. The Wanderer
recommended New Year's at St. Barth to me, and we briefly met
there on my boat and then again on Ticonderoga for New
Year's Eve. It was great!
The new Marina Flamenco will be partially finished when Profligate
arrives in Panama. David Cooper, a very friendly American, is
the dockmaster. You can reach him on VHF 10 or by
in order to reserve a slip or mooring. When you get to the Colon
side, please give a copy of the appropriate Latitude to
the taxi driver whose picture ran with my report on the transit.
And if you get any spare time waiting for a lock assignment,
don't miss the Las Perlas Islands - and particularly the beautiful
Hacienda del Mar hotel at the south end of San Juan Island.
Update #1 - We're now at Isla Isabella, and I just spent the
most fantastic afternoon of my entire voyage! After an all day
sail yesterday, we arrived at the Puerto Villamil anchorage at
night. The entrance is trickly enough during dayllight, but at
night it was very difficult because it's tucked in behind some
reefs and there's not much water. Anyway, this morning I put
my kayak in the water for a short paddling session to loosen
up my muscles - and quickly discovered that during the day this
place is a perfect spot for communing with nature!
Puerto Villamil is not on the normal tourist route, so there
are no sightseeing or dive boats that are based out of here.
The village only has two dozen buildings, all of which are brightly
painted and kept clean. It's a long and complicated dinghy ride
to the small pier, then a mile walk from there into town. So
I decided to take a little kayak tour before going to town. Anyway,
what started out to be a 30-minute warm-up kayak trip turned
into an excellent four-hour adventure with more nature and sea
life than you get to see during an all day trip to the zoo. While
paddling into a quiet lagoon, I was quite literally greeted by
a dozen or more huge sea tortoises! They would pop their heads
out of the water and stare at me from just three feet away. Then
they'd swim under my kayak, pop up on the other side, and stare
at me some more. They didn't tire of it, and more kept showing
Eventually, I decided to move on, and began looking for a "shark
lagoon" that a local fisherman said was "over there
somewhere". Finding a small path through the mangroves,
I came to a channel six feet deep and wide - where there must
have been 25 white tipped sharks darting about trying to stay
out of each others' way. One hundred and fifty feet further down
the path, the rocks and mangroves opened up into a large lagoon
that was six to 10 feet deep. Here the sharks roamed around as
if looking for someone to eat!
Back on the kayak, I cruised around to where some large cactus
stood proud on a rocky ledge. At the base of the tallest cactus
was a six-foot long black iguana slowly moving to higher ground.
He found a nice spot and lay quietly in the sun, not letting
anything bother him.
On a small point around the corner, there was a group of birds
and crabs enjoying the afternoon sun. The crabs were bright reddish-orange,
and moved slowly in groups of two or three over the black lava
rock. They crawled right across the powder blue colored feet
of the blue-footed boobies! Sharing the same rock with these
unique boobies were a dozen penguins! I could walk right up to
the penquins and they would lift a wing or foot, and pose for
me with a smile! They didn't seem to sense any danger. I probably
could have gotten out of my kayak and sat next to them, but the
smell of the guano was a little too strong. With the large variety
of birds overhead and the seals swimming around, it was a nature
lover's paradise. In fact, I'm becoming a nature lover!
Update #2 - Carla has left for her home in Namibia to continue
her studies. Before she left, she befriended a girl named Lean
who was on a stipend from a university to study in a foreign
country. Having become disillusioned with all the restrictions
in the Galapagos, Lean has decided to join Fabio and I for further
adventures in the Galapagos and then for the long trip to Nuku
Hiva in the Marquesas. We leave tomorrow.
My family keeps asking me why I've been doing all this rapid
cruising when I have such a good life in Manhattan Beach and
at Lake Arrowhead. I tell them that I'm 57 years old and can
only do this once. There will be plenty of time for me to sit
at home and watch the Travel Channel when I hit 60!
- mike 11/02/03
Mike - Sit at home at age 60? Next month
we'll have a feature on a guy about to finish his second circumnavigation
- and he's 30 years your senior!
Annapurna - Hans Christian 48
Buddy & Ruth Ellison
Thailand To Turkey, Part I
Sad that our time in Thailand and Southeast Asia was over, on
January 7 we set sail across the Indian Ocean to Sri Lanka, the
first stop on our way to the Red Sea and the Med. We had a nice
eight-day sail to Galle on the southwest tip of the island, with
moderate northeast tradewinds all the way. There have been border
disputes between the north and south of Sri Lanka, but luckily
they were speaking to each other while we were there.
Once we got secure in the harbor at Galle, we had time to look
around and were pleasantly surprised. The people speak English,
the tuk-tuks weren't terribly expensive, and the drivers and
other service providers weren't too pushy. As usual, the locals
seemed to have huge smiles. Galle is quite a step down from Phuket,
of course, but all services were available to those who asked
around. Mike's Yacht Services is quite a place, as they arrange
for fuel, gas, tours, laundry - and have quite a good dry market.
Mike has a price list for everything from cereals to mayonnaise,
pickles, olives, pasta - all the stuff we think we can't live
without. We also went jewelry shopping, as Sri Lanka is supposed
to be famous for its sapphires.
We also went on a one-day safari with eight other yachties. We
drove three hours over not-so-smooth roads with oh so many obstacles
- cars, people, bicycles, motorbikes, cows, and dogs - crowding
the streets. We arrived at the Yala National Park around 10 a.m.,
and got into a jeep with bench seats for a four-hour drive around
the park. It was a Motrin ride, but fun. Although nice, Yala
doesn't have the grandeur of a Yellowstone or Yosemite.
Since all the cruising notes highly recommended an island trip
around Sri Lanka, Mike arranged for us and two other cruising
couples to do a five-day trip. It cost $32 a day, including the
van and Hemisiri the driver, who spoke good English and who was
very helpful. We quickly learned that Sri Lanka is a beautifully
colorful island with white sandy beaches, friendly people and
villages, green hills, ancient ruins, and beautiful artwork.
We first went to an underground Buddhist temple in Matara, then
north to Ella and Nurawa Eliya, where we spent the first night
at the Alpine Hotel - $27 including a nice buffet. This is one
of the highest peaks in Sri Lanka, and it was actually cold.
We bundled up in what we brought, which wasn't much, but we survived.
Later we learned you have to ask for a heater, extra blanket,
We next travelled through the amazingly picturesque and lush
tea country. We passed women on the hillsides picking the tea,
then visited a factory to sample the Ceylonese tea. It was all
very civilized. We learned that the poorest quality tea goes
into tea bags, so if you are a tea drinker, buy it loose. Our
second night was spent in Kandy, where we went to the Temple
of the Tooth, Sri Lanka's most religious site - because it's
supposedly home to a portion of Buddha's tooth! Afterwards we
saw some genuine Sri Lankan dancing, which wasn't too bad, and
had front row seats for the firewalking!
We'd planned an trip north to Sirigiya, where we intended to
spend the night. Unfortunately, one of our group, Lorraine of
Iolanthe, wasn't feeling too well. In fact, she got up
in the middle of the night, fainted, and hit her head on the
tile floor! She had to be taken to the hospital for 10 stitches.
So she and her husband stayed in the hotel while the four of
us - including Rod and Mary off Carillion - went on to
Sirigiya and returned to Kandy that night. We climbed to the
top of the famous rock, having to make an unthinkable amount
of steps - and we were charged $15 each for our efforts.
The view from Sirigiya was spectacular, however, and some call
it the 'Eighth Wonder of the World'. King Kasyapa, who killed
his father and usurped the throne from his older brother Moggallana,
the rightful successor, carved the rock during the 5th century
A.D. Kasyapa was rightfully paranoid, so he built a fortress
with moats, walls, and crocodiles. Two huge lion's paws flank
the entrance to the upper palace, and metal steps have been installed
for the final nosebleed climb. It took 60,000 slaves seven years
to build Sigiriya - and sometimes we cruisers think we have it
The next day Lorraine was a little worse for wear, but we plodded
on to the Elephant Orphanage about 90 minutes west of Kandy.
As far as getting up close and personal with animals, this was
a close second to Borneo and the orangutans. We walked with the
cute little elephant buggers and watched them bathe in the river.
It was definitely worth the trip! The rest of the day was spent
driving back to Galle. It wasn't a long distance, but it took
lots of time because the roads are atrocious and the streets
are jam-packed in the towns. It reminded us of driving in Vietnam
and Cambodia, although Sri Lanka is much prettier.
Our 443-mile passage to Ulegama in the Maldive Islands was, as
most passages are, a mixed bag. The seas were eerie - glassy
calm, with a mist that seemed to combine the sky with the water.
It looked like a cross between velvet and blue jello. We saw
dolphins, birds, and a few turtles along the way. All eight boats
in our little group got so much favorable current the last day
that we had to slow down in order to arrive after dawn.
Uleguma is the northernmost atoll in the Maldives, the Ihavandhippolhu
Atoll. It reminded us of the Tuamotus and other parts of the
South Pacific - except they are 100% Muslim. Of the 26 atolls
and 1,200 islands, none is more than 10 feet above sea level
- so the people of the Maldives potentially have a lot to lose
from global warming.
The people are extremely friendly, except for the officials who
were professionally aloof. The government seems to have a stranglehold
over the population, and they don't want the population interacting
with tourists - except in a few designated tourist areas. Despite
the Arab Muslim thing of wanting people to stay away from infidels,
the regular folks want to interact anyway - and do so when Big
Brother isn't watching. The locals weren't allowed on any yachts,
and we had to be out of their villages after dark. We're not
sure what the punishment would be if a local was caught fraternizing
with a "foreign devil" - perhaps jail, flogging, standing
in the corner with a dunce hat - who knows? For those of us from
open societies, such restrictions are hard to understand.
But it's their country and we can leave any time we want, so
we respect their wishes even though we don't agree with them.
The Muslims do like our money, however, as well as when we do
things like fix a generator, seal a leaking fishing canoe, give
school supplies to the kids, and books to the library. All of
this has to be approved by local officials first, however - talk
about looking a gift horse in the mouth.
On the positive side, it's very pretty in the Maldives. The town
we visited was extremely clean, with sand 'streets' and buildings
made of coral and rock. As we walked through the village, people
with huge smiles invited us to sample of their food and to drink
some Tang(!) while sitting under a palm tree. Buddy loved the
food, which is spicy as in Thailand.
We enjoyed our week in the Maldives, especially the laid back
pace compared to Thailand and Sri Lanka - not to mention the
crystal clear water. Unfortunately, we had to hide our three
spearguns to keep the officials from confiscating them. They
tell the yachties that scuba diving isn't allowed because they
have "no medical facilities for decompression". Funny,
there are scuba dive resorts everywhere. We were allowed to fish
with lines, but that's no good for Buddy, who loves to shoot
his fish. In fact, he hasn't caught a fish with a line in 2.5
years - since we were in the Louisiades in Papua New Guinea.
- ruth 9/15/03
Aahrr, Those That Dies
Will Be The Lucky Ones!
Two Harbors, Catalina
You know the difference between pirates and buccaneers? Pirates
could be of any nationality and stole from anyone, anywhere.
Buccaneers, on the other hand, were groups of runaway slaves,
Dutch, English, and French criminals and runaways, all of whom
hated the Spanish, who ruled most of the Caribbean during the
1600s. Buccaneers were originally known as boucaniers because
they lived in the Caribbean and preserved meat by roasting it
on a barbecue, called a 'boucan', and cured it with smoke. In
time, the term buccaneer came to be used to describe any unscrupulous
adventurer in the Caribbean.
In early October of each year, Two Harbors on Catalina hosts
Buccaneer Days, when everybody is supposed to dress up as a buccaneer
or wench, and just about anything goes. "What happens on
the island, stays on the island," is the motto. So all we
can say is that many folks had great costumes, much cleavage
- with coins or bills propped between the boobs - was displayed,
and prodigious amounts of hard liquor were consumed. Despite
Two Harbors being packed with partying people - all the moorings
in the area were taken and the anchorage was crowded - everyone
pretty much behaved themselves.
Joliga II - Ranger 29
Misadventures In Papua New Guinea
I returned to Bwagoia, Misima Isla, PNG, on August 24, having
had a bumpy ride through the Wuri-Wuri Pass. It was a good sail
as I didn't have to motor until I got to the harbor. I stayed
for about two weeks, mailing eight letters, buying more supplies
(booze), filling the water tanks and jugs, and topping off the
diesel. I also attempted to patch my dinghy yet again. During
this time, I watched as 12 other cruising boats came and went.
I mostly had winds of about 15 knots in the anchorage, but there
were some squalls and calms.
I checked out of PNG on September 8, then I did my 'final final'
shopping - 10 gallons of diesel, a case of beer, another box
of mixed food, three bottles of scotch, and five newspapers.
I placed the plastic bag containing the newspapers in the dinghy,
then stepped into it - and found myself up to my knees in water!
The dinghy floor was now attached only at the front and back!
I don't know how I managed to get back to the boat, but I did.
Naturally, the papers were all wet along with just about everything
else. Oh my, the ongoing saga of my leaky dinghy.
Leaving Bwagoia Harbor the next day, I motorsailed 18 miles to
Wuri-Wuri Pass. As I did, the rpms on my diesel started to drop
off. I had no idea what was happening, so I continued on another
10 miles to Pana Numara, intermittently losing diesel revs. I
finally shut down the diesel to investigate - and discovered
the electric fuel pump was off. That explained a lot of things!
Tearing into the fuel system the next day, I found the primary
filter half empty - making me wonder how the diesel had run at
all. After bleeding the system, I managed to get the engine started,
and after a few minutes she was running as smooth as ever.
I tried to inflate my spare dinghy, a Quicksilver model with
a failing starboard tube. I soon determined that it was useless
to me, and told the local kids they could take it ashore and
do whatever they wanted with it. Meanwhile, I distributed presents
to the people - Bernard, Joshua, Paul, Simwell, and Pastor Warren
- who had previously helped me retrieve my anchor and chain.
During the next couple of days, I continued on to Grass Isla
and than Hata-Lawi Harbor, where I saw a crocodile on a reef
100 yards to the south of me. So I decided to try to glue my
dinghy again, both inside and outside on the port side.
On the 24th, my diesel overheated, so I turned her off and let
her cool down. When I started her again, she ran normally. The
next day my diesel overheated again in five minutes flat, so
I took the fresh water pump apart. Guess what? There were no
blades left on the impeller. I didn't have a spare, so I was
up Shit Creek without a paddle.
I headed toward Gizo in the Solomon Islands on the 27th, but
after tacking back and forth for three hours with the autopilot
cutting in and out, I had to hand steer - which I really hate!
It turned out to be a bad plug connection, which, after I discovered
it, I was able to fix quickly. After I got only five miles to
Nimoa, Jack from Egress and Andy from Djapana came
out in their dinghies to help me anchor. It would have been difficult
without an engine and without them. Captain Suerto - Captain
Lucky - lucked out again.
Once the hook was down, I explained my water impeller problem
to Andy. Not only did he have a replacement impeller for me,
but he also installed it. What a Prince! The pump is very awkward
to get to. First, I had to empty the stores in the quarter berth,
a major chore. Then he had to lean through the access panel,
stick his head and left arm in, and remove four screws from the
cover. I know how hard it is because I'd done it the day before
and was still aching all over. The lucky part is that Andy delayed
his departure for another anchorage just to help me anchor. It's
wonderful how cruisers help other cruisers out here.
I headed out for the Solomons again on the 29th, but Murphy wasn't
done with me yet. Having covered 133 miles at a five-knot average
in six-foot seas, I started hearing crunching sounds from my
autopilot. Having heard these sounds before, I tore everything
out of the quarter berth to get the spare out. A couple of hours
later, the autopilot gave up the ghost for good. As I was sailing
to weather, the helm was balanced, so I locked the wheel down
and replaced autopilots. It took about half an hour to do that
job, and I only got backwinded at the very end when a wave skewed
the boat around. So I continued on to Gizo.
I sailed and motorsailed to Gizo, dropped the hook in front of
the new market they are building, and was fast asleep before
- john 11/15/03
John - You're a wild one, Captain Suerto!
But please do everyone - and most of all yourself - a favor by
buying another impeller before you buy another bottle of scotch.
For you readers who don't know where John got his nickname, more
than 10 years ago he and his boat became separated about 25 miles
west of the Panama Canal. After swimming around for nine hours,
his screams for help were faintly heard in the darkness by a
cruise ship doctor's wife who just happened to be taking an evening
stroll. It was a one in a million chance.
Vie - Amel Maramu 53
Ken Burnap & Nancy Gaffney
Corsica To Greece
It was August when we last checked in, we were in Corsica, and
Europe was experiencing its worst heatwave of the century. During
the day, we would either sail, and the wind would keep us refreshed,
or we would anchor and swim to lower our body temperature. Thankfully,
there was a cool breeze blowing down from the mountains most
nights, making it possible to sleep.
When we started our cruise from the Atlantic coast of France
in April, our goal was to 'sail south until the butter melted'.
By the time we reached Bonifacio - a beautiful, natural steep-sided
harbor on the southern tip of Corsica - the thermometer had climbed
to 115°! And that was with a 20-knot breeze blowing. As we
tied to the dock, my brain felt as though it were melting. The
heat had both of us believing that it was Friday when it was
actually Saturday. This was crucial, because it's generally a
no-no for us to go into a harbor on a weekend. But since it was
Saturday, we entered against what appeared to be a race of boats
heading into the harbor. There was an opposing race, however,
of boats heading out of the harbor. Just for fun, ferry boats
were blowing their horns and riding everybody's butts. One ferry
sideswiped a small motor boat to push it out of the way! Inside
the harbor, folks in dinghies raced around doing their best to
find places for the incoming boats. Dear Capt. Ken persevered,
steering us through the mob so carefully that I only had to fend
From Bonifacio, we headed south across the Strait of Bonifacio
to Sardinia and its Maddalena Islands. We wandered down the east
coast of the Med's second largest island, stopping at the relatively
new port of Santa Marie Navarrese. We secured the boat so we
could rent a car and have a look around their spectacular mountains.
Sardinia's well-paved highways made for easy traveling - except
for the fact there's little signage for side roads. Having missed
a turn and road to a lake we wanted to see, we ended up on a
goat path. We wound up having to have an impromptu lunch of hard
cheese and crackers under a cypress tree high on the mountain.
At least it was pleasant, as we got to listen to the sound of
sheep bells and watch cows take a siesta.
From Sardinia, we had an overnight sail to San Vito Lo Capo,
Sicily, where two different kinds of coast guard kept telling
mariners to move to different places. The second night, one coast
guard wanted us in one place and the other coast guard wanted
us in another place. Ken told them we had engine trouble - well,
the oil was due to be changed - to bluff our way into not having
to move the second night.
The next morning we left for Cefalu, which was much more friendly
because it didn't have any coast guard at all. After anchoring
off the white sand beach of the Old Town, we took our dinghy
to shore to explore. We made it as far as the first interesting
restaurant, where the food was so delicious that we ate three
courses, had a bottle of wine, and made a dinner reservation
for the cool of the evening! Cefalu was a great stop - we'd definitely
go back again.
We later explored the volcanic Aeolian Islands, which are off
the north coast of Sicily and, if Homer is to be believed, are
'home of the winds'. We then crossed the Straits of Messina,
whose currents and whirlpools were mentioned in the Odyssey.
The whirlpools have reportedly been diminished by changes in
the topography because of earthquakes, and no monsters reached
out to grab us. Nonetheless, it still was an impressive passage
- and we saw whitewater patches locally known as basterdi. Actually
the gods - or at least the currents and the wind - were with
us, as we sailed seven knots DDW, but had a speed over the ground
of 10 knots. We didn't fully realize the extent of our luck until
we anchored in Taormina Bay and discovered that our engine had
blown a plug and had been spraying seawater all over the engine
room! If we'd needed to use the engine for more than just anchoring,
we might have had much more serious problems. After a bit of
foreign language fun trying to find the right tools and a replacement
plug, we got the engine fixed.
Our sail to Greece consisted of an enjoyable two nights of beam
reaching. Mars shone at its brightest these nights, and in combination
with our being on the water put us in touch of the vastness of
it all. We also experienced a wonderful sense of absolute freedom:
to go naked; to play Beethoven's Ninth at full blast while
barreling through the night; to have a beer and potato chips
when coming off watch at 7 a.m. This is cruising.
After checking in with the authorities and getting our Greek
cruising permit in Celphalonia, we headed over to Ithaca, the
island home of Odysseus. In fact, the bay we anchored in, Ormas
Pera Pigadhi, is at the bottom of Arethusa's spring, which still
flows today. At the top is Korax, 'Raven's Rock', also from The
Odyssey. It has the same name today. It's a very beautiful
place, and the spring makes the water very refreshing for swimming.
As we were watching the sun go behind the hill, I mentioned that
I wanted to see the ravens. "There they are," said
Ken. And sure enough, three ravens swooped down near the water,
and back up to the ridge - no doubt ancestors of those mentioned
by Odysseus. It was breathtaking.
We have now passed through the Gulf of Patras and are in the
Gulf of Corinth at the town of Itea, were we took a bus to Delphi.
We are provisioning for our trip through the Corinth Canal and
on to the Aegean Sea.
- nancy 9/8/03
Meow - 52-ft Trawler
Martin & Robin Hardy
Having Fun Doing Good
We're aboard our 1968 custom 52-ft wood trawler The Cat's
Meow, anchored in one of the beautiful spots just south of
Puerto Escondido, Baja, enjoying everything about life. After
so many nice things were written about our help during the aftermath
of Hurricane Marty, you may be tired of hearing about us, but
we would like to add our two cents worth.
Yes, our San Pedro-based The Cat's Meow certainly did
provide lots of muscle and a good staging area for rescuing six
boats here in Puerto Escondido. Some of the salvages were a little
dicey, some were just plain dangerous, but in the end we were
able to pull and tow all six boats to safety. We want to say
'thank you' for everyone's appreciation of our old 'stinkpot'
- but we also want to mention that not one of those six boats
could have been saved had there not been lots of other folks
willing to put in their time, effort, and sometimes dinghies,
to make the rescues successful.
Three of the rescues lasted until well after nightfall, and one
didn't end until 3 a.m. People from at least eight boats were
involved in every one of the recoveries, and 12 boats were involved
in the refloating of Winsome, the sailing vessel left
high and dry about five miles south of Puerto Escondido. No one
in their right mind would want to experience a hurricane, but
those of us who were in Puerto Escondido during Marty came out
of it knowing that we were better prepared for boat and water
emergencies. We helped each other before, during, and after the
storm. This community of cruisers - and the landlubbers who assisted
us in many ways - has come together as a very responsive and
tight group of folks.
A few days after Marty had moved on, the two of us hosted a party
for the entire anchorage on The Cat's Meow. This was our
'Kick Him in the Ass Good-bye' party for Marty, providing everyone
with a chance to kick back and relax, regale each other with
hurricane stories, and to come together for a last time in one
place. We don't know how many bodies crowded onto TCM,
but I would guess at least 60. It was the only time we wondered
if our big old boat would sink!
For our 'tattered flag' contest, we put the entries up on the
top deck for all to see for judging. The winners received new
Mexico courtesy flags provided by Ed and Lori of Allie.
A good time was had by all!
Now The Cat's Meow and crew is getting back to the cruising
life she loves, enjoying the islands and anchorages in the Sea
of Cortez. She is a good ole boat, and we, like many others,
appreciate her very much.
- robin & martin 10/15/03
Robin & Martin - In light of the
unstinting efforts by you and your trawler, by the authority
vested in us by nobody, we proclaim the two of you to be Honorary
Sailors. Well done! And that goes for all the rest of you folks
down there who went far beyond the call of duty to save boats
belonging to people who had left the area for the summer. May
your future cruising be sweet, for you richly deserve it.
Just before going to press, we received word via the Central
America Breakfast Club that John Haste's San Diego-based Perry
52 catamaran Little Wing was stopped and robbed in Cartagena
Bay shortly after leaving a boatyard. Apparently there was only
one person aboard the cat, and he slowed down for three men in
a cayuco blocking the boat's path. Brandishing a shotgun, the
trio boarded the boat, put a hood over the skipper's head, and
bound him before stealing valuables, electronics, and $400 in
cash. The skipper was reportedly bruised but not seriously injured.
Haste is a friend from years of Little Wing and Profligate
competing in numerous Ha-Has and Banderas Bay Regattas. His boat
was passing through Cartagena on her way to the Eastern Caribbean,
where we hoped - and still hope - to resume our cat rivalry at
St. Barth on New Year's Eve. We're not sure if Haste was in Cartagena
at the time of the incident, as he was slated to crew in the
Ha-Ha the following week aboard Bob Smith's Sidney, British Columbia-based
44-ft cat Pantera.
Colombia is a country beset by horrible problems, of course,
but Cartagena had always been a relative oasis, as drug lords,
revolutionaries, and paramilitary groups have maintained a curious
truce within the city limits. While there has always been plenty
of theft in Cartagena - Big O's dinghy was brazenly stolen
right off Club Nautico - it's rarely been at the point of a gun.
We hope this latest incident doesn't signal a change for the
worse, as Cartagena is a fabulous city much loved by cruisers
from around the world.
Previous to the robbery, we received this report from Little
Wing: "Accompanied by Big John Folvig of the San Diego-based
Andrews 70 Elysium and Ha-Ha vet Mark Sciarretta, we left
the marina at Puesto del Sol, Nicaragua, on a Tuesday, and stopped
at Banana Bay Marina in Costa Rica until Saturday. Then we had
a fast close reach which we hoped would last long enough for
us to make it from Golfito, Costa Rica, to the Panama Canal in
one day - but the wind faded. My Canal agent tells me that since
it's the off season, we should be able to transit in just 48
hours. As for Little Wing, the lightning strike in Nicaragua
caused extensive damage to the inverter, sailing instruments,
thru hull transducers, VHF radio antenna, engine relays, and
microprocessor boards for the watermaker, autopilot, GPS, and
refrigeration. It's at a time like this that I appreciate the
simplicity of Profligate."
When it comes to Central America and Panama, lightning doesn't
strike twice - it strikes just about all the time. "Our
boat was struck by lightning at Playa Naranjo in Costa Rica's
Gulf of Nicoya in early July," report Les Sutton and Diane
Grant of the Northern California-based Albin Nimbus 42 Gemini.
"The list of damaged equipment was endless, as the only
things to survive were the radar, one GPS, the TV, and the computer
- which we'd put inside the oven for protection. There was no
structural damage to our boat. We've now got Gemini 95%
back together and are working on an article about the strike,
the shock, the evaluation, the acquisition of new and repaired
equipment, getting it shipped to and from Costa Rica, and the
new installation." It sounds like a long story.
If you've read this month's Letters, you know that Dockwise
Yacht Transport has announced they will be using their semi-submersible
yacht transports on routes from Puerto Vallarta and La Paz to
Ensenada and Vancouver starting in April and May of next year.
We at Latitude have been encouraging them to do this for
years, and are glad to see that they are apparently going forward
with it. It means that given enough money, you could cruise Mexico
in the winter and the Inland Passage to Alaska in the summer.
So far we haven't gotten a quote back, but we remember that some
folks once paid $4,250 to have their Columbia 36 shipped from
Ensenada to Vancouver. Although shipping a boat doesn't seem
cheap at first glance, it can sometimes be a viable option when
all expenses are considered - especially for 'commuter cruisers'
who are still working and have more money than time and are looking
to expand their cruising range. For details, visit www.yacht-transport.com.
That said, Mark and Sue Purdy of the Napa-based Perry 43 catamaran
Tango, which they bought and cruised in Australia, tell
us that potential Dockwise customers have reason to be skeptical.
While in Australia, the Purdys and 12 other boatowners had an
agreement with Dockwise to ship their boats to the United States.
But just two weeks before the slated departure, Dockwise informed
the owners that they had filled their ship with boats in New
Zealand - and therefore weren't going to bother coming to Australia!
Having never been given an inkling that this might happen, the
13 boatowners were left high and dry - and angry. Purdy tells
us he had a signed contract with Dockwise, but they had refused
to let him put down a deposit. So caveat emptor!
"My name is Jose Villalon, and although a Cuban born citizen
of the United States, I've been residing in Mazatlan for the
past nine years. As the incoming Commodore of the Club de Vela
in Mazatlan, I invite all members of the Baja Ha-Ha, as well
as all other cruisers, to join us in our activities. We have
27 active clubmembers who own 16 boats between 26 and 44 feet.
In addition to having several social sailing outings, we host
36 PHRF races a year. All the races are open, and we are frequently
joined by cruising boats passing through. I'm also wondering
if there would be any interest in a fun race from Mazatlan to
Isla Isabella for those on their way to Puerto Vallarta."
For more information on the Matzatlan YC events, just ask around
for Villalon when you pull into town.
"I don't have anything much worth writing about," advises
Roy Wessbecher of the Brookings Harbor, Oregon-based Columbia
34 and Lafitte 44, both of which are named Breta. "Many
cruisers travelling up and down the coast temporarily park in
the empty slip next to me, so at least I still have a few vicarious
cruising experiences. I also have a small house, into which I
have moved my aging mom. I mostly still live on my boat, and
will head out cruising again at some point - although not anytime
soon. A few of my former female crew are still interested in
coming along when I'm ready."
We'd written Wessbecher to ask what he was up to, because in
the late '90s he made one of the most interesting and economical
circumnavigations we can remember. A relatively novice sailor
from Northern California, Wessbecher bought a basic Columbia
34 Mk II for something like $12,000, then set out around the
world alone because he didn't feel he was a good enough sailor
to risk the welfare of anyone coming with him. By the time he
reached Australia, he had become a competent sailor, so he posted
a notice for crew at a youth hostel. From then on, he sailed
with a series of 17 young women, some of whom joined him a second
or third time years later. Even more unusual was the economy
with which Wessbecher cruised. "I kept an exact record of
all my expenses during my four-year, nine-month, nine-day circumnavigation
from Puerto Vallarta to Puerto Vallarta. I spent a total of $25,300
- which is $5,350 a year or $14.66 a day. Having budgeted $20/day,
I came out way ahead. These numbers include every single expenditure
- although it should be noted that I had no major breakdowns,
only did two bottom jobs, and never flew back home."
Imagine being able to cruise for an entire year for the price
of one or two Northern California house payments.
Rick Carpenter has returned to Zihuatanejo, so Rick's Bar - pretty
much 'cruiser central' in that popular destination - will reopen
for the season on October 31. We're sure that the Zihautanejo
YC, which is actually a restaurant on the side of the hill overlooking
the bay, will be opening about the same time - if it wasn't open
throughout the summer. If you want a delicious steak at a reasonable
price, we recommend you visit Walter at the Zihua YC.
"The annual Subasta in La Paz, where the Club Cruceros de
La Paz raises money through an auction for the poor children
of La Paz, is set for November 30 of this year," writes
the organization committee. "Subasta, which means 'auction',
predates the founding of the Club Cruceros, and started when
the members of the cruising fleet in La Paz donated items to
be auctioned out of the back of a pickup truck in the parking
lot of Marina de La Paz. Things like blankets, sweaters, food
baskets, and toys, were bought with the auction proceeds and
distributed to the most needy neighborhoods of La Paz. Thereafter,
the event became a joint effort of the Club Cruceros and the
JayCees. All 100% of the funds collected are used to purchase
toys for the Arbol del Niño Pobre (poor children's tree).
The event has grown so much that we now need the entire parking
lot of the marina, and there are booths for local artisans, a
bazaar of used clothing, fresh bakery items, and numerous food
stands. We are affiliated with Fundación Para Los Niños
de La Paz, A.C., which has several programs to help the needy
children of La Paz. The proceeds from this year's Subasta will
be used for a program to feed children in two colonias on the
outskirts of La Paz, and scholarships for children in the same
neighborhoods. For the year 2003-2004, the Fundación placed
86 scholarships to middle and high school - more than double
the amount for 2002-2003. The Fundación also purchases
medication for children of low and no-income families. In order
to have a successful Subasta, we need your help. For those of
you in the Ha-Ha headed to La Paz, please bring any marine or
household items, and/or clothing as a donation to the auction
or to sell at our bazaar. As always, we also need your help to
work the Subasta. When you get to La Paz, please get in touch
with anyone from Club Cruceros de La Paz, or contact Mary Shroyer
at Marina de La Paz. We guarantee you will have fun. If you're
not coming to La Paz, please visit www.clubcruceros.org
to see how you can still contribute."
We at Latitude believe Subasta is a very worthy endeavor.
"I'm the owner of the Newport 40 Sambita, the so-called
'miracle boat' that ended up, thanks to hurricane Marty, more
or less intact on the breakwater at Puerto Escondido," writes
Lonnie Spencer of Palo Alto. "Check out the accompanying
photo I received from a friend. I've been instructed by my insurance
carrier to leave her as she lies until an adjuster can get there
and make an evaluation. I'm hoping that another storm doesn't
arrive before the adjustor does. My boat is the only one blown
ashore in Puerto Escondido that cruisers haven't refloated -
and that's only because of my insurance company. By the way,
I met the Wanderer in Puerto Escondido 15 years ago and helped
him launch a Cal 25 he trailered down from Northern California;
he was going to sail her down to Caleta Partida for Sea of Cortez
Dave Wallace of the Redwood City-based Amel Maramu Air Ops
tells us he owned Sambita before Spencer, and if the insurance
company totals her, he'd like to buy her back. "Merry and
I really miss Mexico!"
Speaking of Sea of Cortez Sailing Week, it apparently died at
age 20 last year. Slade Ogletree and the folks at Paradise Found
YC have replaced it with Island Madness, which is basically the
same thing at basically the same place, but with more energy
and organization. We're told that event will be held April 18-25,
making it a feeder event for the very popular Loreto Fest that
is held in early May a little further north at Puerto Escondido.
Ogletree tells us that an important part of Island Madness will
be beach clean-ups out at the islands - a terrific idea that
deserves the support of all cruisers.
How quickly a decade passes! We recently got a call from Rob
and Mary Messenger of the Northern California-based Custom 46-footer
Maude I. Jones, which is currently in Trinidad. We know
it's taken them nine years to sail 85% of the way around the
world because they started with the first Baja Ha-Ha back in
'94. During the first leg of that first Ha-Ha, Mary suffered
some rope burns on her neck after being snagged by the mainsheet
during an uncontrolled jibe. Fortunately, she decided to stick
with the trip.
Thieves in Colombia and Venezuela tend to rely on superior firepower
to pull their heists, while thieves in the Eastern Caribbean
tend to rely more on finesse. Writing to Caribbean Compass,
Margaret Mackintosh of the sailing vessel South Fork reports
that while moored in at St. Georges, Grenada, in September, she
and her husband hoisted their dinghy with 15-hp outboard three
feet off the water for the night to be sure it wouldn't get stolen.
But when they woke up in the morning, their outboard was nonetheless
gone. So either they slept very soundly or the local thieves
are particularly talented. For the record, South Fork
had her dinghy stolen two years before at Porlamar, Venezuela
- a hotbed of sticky fingers.
The political fighting over Cuba would be funny if it weren't
so tragic. Last month, President Bush declared that the U.S.
government was going to crack down on Americans - including cruisers
- who violate the Treasury Department's ban on Americans spending
money in Castro's Crib. Meanwhile, a U.S. House of Representatives
appropriations committee, having been lobbied by members of the
travel industry, passed a measure that would block the U.S. Treasury
Department from enforcing the ban! Spending money - or "trading
with the enemy" - is the only grounds by which it's illegal
for Americans to visit Cuba. The House measure is before the
Senate, but even if they pass it, Bush can veto it. Some ban!
Over 140,000 Americans visited the center for human rights violations
last year. One hundred thousand of them were Cuban-Americans
who did it legally because they were born there; another 35,000
did it legally by means of so-called humanitarian, religious,
and journalistic excuses; and another 35,000 did it illegally
on the grounds they weren't going to let the American government
tell them they couldn't go someplace.
Once Castro croaks, it's expected that the ban will quickly be
lifted and over one million Americans will flock to Cuba the
first year, and three million a year within five years. This
terrifies Cuban officials, who know their country doesn't have
the facilities or skilled workers to handle such an avalanche
of visitors. So they've announced that because there will surely
be such great demand, prices will go up to limit the number of
visitors. If these 'supply and demanders' don't sound like seasoned
capitalists drooling over an upcoming near monopoly situation,
we don't know what. If you want to see Cuba while it's still
weird in the Castro way, we recommend you visit sooner rather
Nobody is going to claim that the relatively civilized British
Virgins Islands are as bad as Cuba when it comes to human rights,
but they've pulled a few boners, too. Back in 1980, for example,
the government there passed a law that allowed Immigration officials
to deny entry to anyone with a dreadlock hairstyle. No, we're
not making this up. The purpose of the law was to give officials
a means by which they could keep "Rastafarians and hippies"
out of the BVIs. It wasn't until two months ago that the law
"Since leaving Puntarenas, Costa Rica, we've mostly been
motoring," report Dave Smith and Angie Deglandon of the
Seattle-based Passport 40 Magic Carpet Ride. "We
anchored off the ritzy Los Sueños, the new marina in southern
Costa Rica, as the slips were too pricey for us. Fuel was reasonable,
however, and the wonderful dock staff allowed us to refill our
water tanks. The anchorage was quite rolly - as most have been
in Costa Rica - because of the southwest swell. We also spent
five rolly days at Bahia Drake, but we thought it was isolated
enough to be worth it. From there we made two day trips to a
nearby island for diving and hiking. We also spent several days
in Golfito, and can report there is a new marina, King &
Bardell, in addition to Banana Bay Marina. While fueling, Carlos
and his friendly staff will let you take on water and enjoy a
shower. We anchored off Land & Sea, which maintains some
moorings, and Tim and Katy were as helpful as ever. After buying
our favorite rum in a duty free shop, we headed to Panama. If
we thought Bahia Drake was rolly, Puerto Armuelles proved we
hadn't really known the meaning of the word! We got there about
dusk, which is squall time. We had to reanchor several times,
then watched the depth drop to just two feet beneath our keel.
After a sleepless night, we headed on to Isla Parida, which seems
like paradise - lots of anchorages and nobody around except at
the occasional fishing village. We traded a bottle of cooking
oil, some powdered milk, and some rice for three good-sized lobsters,
a huge avocado, and some lemons. Then Angie landed a Pacific
bumper just before dark. All fish that you catch tastes delicious
- even if you have to barbecue it by flashlight!
"My wife Brenda and I have cruised the Pacific Ocean since
leaving San Francisco in November of 1996," writes Rod Bulcher
of the Gulfstar 50 Glory Days. "I'm not the most
prolific writer, as this is only my third letter to your awesome
rag - copies of which are cherished possessions in the South
Pacific. Although we wonder if we aren't overdoing a good thing,
we continue to enjoy the lovely South Pacific cruising during
the southern hemisphere winters, and the comfortable and friendly
conditions in New Zealand and Australia during the summers. So
far our path has covered the normal Milk Run stops including
the Marquesas, the Tuamotus, the Societies, the Cook Islands,
Niue, Tonga, Fiji, and Vanuatu. We are currently in the Louisiades,
which are part of Papua New Guinea, and lie just southeast of
the large island of New Guinea. These travels might sound like
they involve an excess of coconut tree-lined white sandy beaches,
but who can tire of paradise?
"I'm primarily writing to caution cruisers visiting Australia
to avoid using UPS for shipments into that country," continues
Bulcher. "Although UPS graciously agrees to make "yacht
in transit" deliveries to Australia, they can only do it
to New South Wales, where they have a license, not Queensland,
where most of the yachties spend the summer, and where they don't
have a license. In our case, UPS's misrepresentation forced us
to pay $150 of unnecessary duty on $450 worth of parts sent by
Balmar. After seven contacts and countless long conversations,
the truth finally emerged - UPS hasn't posted the bond necessary
to import items duty free into Queensland. So if a cruiser in
Brisbane or Mooloolaba uses UPS, he/she will be required to pay
the added 30% duties on items shipped. Please note that DHL,
FedEx, and even the Post Office can get things to cruisers in
Queensland without them having to pay the 30% duty. On a happier
note, next year we'll leave the Pacific to sail to Indonesia,
Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand."
While at the Mexico-Only Crew List and Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party at
the Encinal YC on October 1, we bumped into Jean Ryan of the
Santa Cruz-based Catalina 42 Neener3. She was telling
everybody that when it comes to having friendly and sociable
cruisers, there is absolutely no place that can match Mexico.
She and her husband Pete hadn't found the same sense of cruiser
community in the Caribbean, and it hasn't even been close in
Georgia, where they currently have their boat.
Don't go looking for offseason mooring bargains in Costa Rica.
Ron Milton and Kathleen Buyers of the Napa-based MacGregor 65
Vivace tell us Banana Bay Marina wanted $1,200 a month
for their boat. They found a nearby place for just $300 a month
for a mooring, and paid a guy about $250 more a month to start
the engines and watch over her. We got this information from
Kathleen, who was also at the Crew List Party, where she was
looking for crew to help them sail Vivace across the Atlantic
to the Med.
"After 11 months, we finally got out of Bahia del Sol and
headed south," report Matt and Judy Johnston of the San
Francisco-based Cabo Rico 38 Elsewhere. "We had a
great time in El Salvador, but it was time to move, as I was
getting too proprietary and defensive about the place. I apologize
to anyone I may have offended in my previous letter to Latitude.
After leaving El Salvador in late April, we continued nonstop
to Bahia Elena, in Costa Rica. We've been in Costa Rica ever
since, having a great time. In addition to cruising the coast,
we made an inland trip to Monte Verde and San Jose. Monte Verde
offers an incredible cloud forest experience that we would recommend
folks not miss. While in San Jose, we toured the Cabo Rico factory
where our boat had been built. They treated us like royalty,
and showed us everything possible about this booming boatbuilding
entity so far from the ocean. But look out for pickpockets in
Costa Rica! Attempts were made on us in both San Jose and Puntareanas.
We don't carry credit cards or any significant amount of money,
so we only lost $25. We then took our boat to Golfito, where
we left her for the summer. We are going to have to delay our
return to the end of October, as I'm recovering from a dislocated
and broken elbow."
"Since Profligate will be motoring hard to reach
the Panama Canal as quickly as possible on her way to the Eastern
Caribbean, I've jotted down some fueling notes that might help
her and other boats headed that way," writes Sven Querner
of the Sausalito-based Brewer 50 Reliance. "The information
is based on my experience and requires stretching the rules a
little, if you know what I mean.
"Cabo San Lucas: You don't have to clear in and out to take
on fuel, but you might as well since this will be your port of
entry into Mexico. The fuel is clean and you can pay with a credit
card for a 5% surcharge. The water is good.
"Zihuatanejo: You don't have to check in for fuel, which
is clean. Water is okay. It's best to arrive early in the morning
before the wind chop comes up.
"Acapulco: There is no need to check in. Go to the Acapulco
YC, preferably in the morning when there is less wind. The fuel
is clean and you can use a credit card with a 5% surcharge. The
water is so-so.
"Puerto Madero: It's mandatory that you check in with the
port captain. You have to go to Immigration at the airport -
which is 20 miles inland. The fuel is all right, but you have
to pay with cash. Water is okay.
"Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala: Must check in with the Navy,
who will charge $100 for one to five days. Fuel has to be transported
to the dock by tanker truck, which could cause a delay. You must
pay in cash.
"Barillas Marina Club, El Salvador: All formalities can
be handled at the club. Clean water and fuel, cash or credit
card. Because of the bar, it would have to be a 24-hour stopover.
"Puerto Del Sol Marina, Nicaragua: I didn't stop at Roberto
Membrano's new Puesto del Sol Marina, but there have been good
"Golfito, Costa Rica: It's easy to get into Banana Bay Marina
at Golfito. Take on fuel and water, have lunch, then take the
next ebb back out into the Gulf. Clearing in and out can be dispensed
with. The few miles out of the way are worth it for the clean
"Flamenco Marina, Panama. Arrive in the morning for better
conditions. Fuel is as much as 40 cents less a gallon than at
the Balboa YC.
"I'm not responsible for anyone who stretches the rules
too far and gets into trouble."
Ha-Ha participants as well as cruisers who arrive in Mexico early
for the season are to be reminded that lots of folks have the
welcome mat out beyond Cabo, which is really a sportfishing and
drinking town. La Paz normally welcomes scores of boats, but
they may have limited capacity because of hurricane problems
this summer. Check before making big plans. Mazatlan, however,
is ready and waiting for a big influx of cruisers, and has lots
of activities planned. Most organized of all are the businesses
of Banderas Bay, who spearheaded by Paradise Village Resort and
Marina, invite you to the Banderas Bay Cruising Season Kick-Off
Fiesta Week November 17-23. This sounds like a blast, and there
will be many free activities and scores of prizes. Dick Markie
of Paradise Village will be spreading the word.
With that, let the winter cruising season of 2003-2004 begin.