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November 2016

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With reports this month from Stryder on 'wild animals' in the Sea of Cortez; from Eros on a new life in the Caribbean; from Tivoli on six years of cruising from California to the Med; from Passing Wind on pleasant summer months at Chiapas Marina in southern Mexico; from Sonrisa on sinking ever-deeper roots into La Paz and the Sea; from Flashgirl on floating again; from Celebration on the Northwest Passage, and Cruise Notes.

Stryder — Cascade 36
Jeff and DeAnne Warner
The Bees and the Snakes
(Newport, Oregon)

After a great trip south on the Baja Ha-Ha last year, we made our way north up into the Sea of Cortez. While it is beautiful here, and we've had great interactions with wildlife, we want to share 'the rest of the story'.

Bees love fresh water. If there is one drop of water in your cockpit, you will soon find lots of bees joining the pool party. But it hasn't been as much of a problem after August.

We have become very familiar with Puerto Don Juan anchorage up in the Bahia de los Angeles area this summer. As many cruisers know, this is a popular hurricane hole. We have waited out two hurricanes here so far, and are happy to report we've had a max of 22 knots of wind, and were grateful to get enough rain to wash the dust off our boats. There were 15 boats in Don Juan for Newton. We had a great time at the 'we survived the non-hurricane' party.

One of the more exciting lessons of our summer was learning that rattlesnakes can swim. Who knew? Our education started when we were anchored between Isla Pescador and the beach, and enjoyed a few hours of beachcombing and snorkeling. We came back to the boat, and after an hour of coming and going from the cockpit to the cabin, Jeff noticed something strange behind our drop board leaning against the lazarette in the cockpit. He picked up the drop board — and a rattlesnake slithered across the sole!

The first thing we did was let it sink in that there really was a potentially dangerous snake on our boat. Sure enough, it had a slithery tongue and five shaking rattles. Jeff asked me to call the other boat anchored with us for assistance. Their radio was off, but other cruisers heard my frantic call and asked if there was a problem. I relayed the situation and got lots of suggestions.

The best suggestion was to employ the boat hook to get rid of the snake. In one of Jeff's first attempts to use the hook, the snake ended up on deck, beneath the boom, right next to an open hatch. If you were in our place and the snake slipped down inside the boat and hid, what would you have done?

Getting a snake to wrap itself around the end of a boat hook was harder than it sounds, but after several attempts Jeff was able to launch the snake so it landed in the water a good distance from the boat. We watched in disbelief as the snake calmly swam toward Isla Pescador.

When the snake was gone, we determined that it had crawled up to and through our rather large scupper. We shudder every time we think about how many times we walked within inches of that snake — but were never bitten.

— jeff and deanne 09/17/2016

Eros — 103-ft McKeek Schooner
Cameron Riddell
Back in the Charter Trade
(Los Angeles)

Unless a guy in his 40s is really rich, he usually doesn’t choose a 77-year old 115-ft steel and teak schooner as his first boat. But there are some unusual aspects in the Cameron Riddell and Eros story.

The son of retired Bay Area marine surveyor Stuart Riddell, Cameron spent 1970 to 1976 living aboard the family’s Hillyard 43 cutter Gay Vandra in the Med with his dad, mom and sister Romanye. He has fond memories of those years. The Riddells spent most of their time in Greece, although they roamed elsewhere in the Med, as well as on French canals.

While in Greece, young Cameron started a lifelong friendship with Bill and Grace Bodle of Berkeley, one of the few American couples on a boat in that part of the world at the time. Bill was a child prodigy who entered UC Berkeley at age 16, became a dentist, and was headed toward a career of teaching medicine before he was waylaid by the call of the sea.

Lucy is a UC Berkeley-trained anthropologist, who did a stint as a social worker before graduating from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in London. Always more interested in adventure than a house with a white picket fence, Lucy was taking physically grueling hands-on Coast Guard firefighting courses in her late 60s to maintain her 500-ton master’s license.

Bill and Grace met while sailing an old wooden boat, which seemed to seal their salty future. By the time Cameron met the couple in Greece, they were pioneering the charter business in the Med and the Caribbean with a series of very large — 100- to 130-ft — classic schooners. They would eventually make 14 Atlantic crossings to get to the charter areas for high season, including two transAtlantic crossings with Foxy Callwood, a young man who had just opened up Foxy’s Bar on Jost van Dyke.

The big-schooner bug rubbed off on Lucy Bancroft, Bill’s cousin. So she went out and bought the 115-ft schooner Eros from the famous Greek shipowner Stavros Niarchos.

The schooner has had a colorful history. She was built by Brookes Motorcraft in England for American Henry vom Berge in 1939, right before the start of World War II. He christened her White Bitch in honor of the last name of his father-in-law, an English lord, and because his father-in-law had a dog-breeding business. Lloyds Registry refused the name for being vulgar, and she became known as Jeanery. She was almost immediately commandeered by the British Navy, who used her for a variety of purposes during the war, including, it is believed, evacuating soldiers from Dunkirk.

A bomber pilot, vom Berge was killed in the war. Nobody in his family wanted the massive schooner when the government gave her up after the war. But Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos — who at one time owned the largest ship and the largest shipping fleet in the world — did want the schooner. Given the fact that Niarchos would have four wives and numerous affairs with some of the most rich and famous women in the world, it was not surprising that he rechristened the schooner Eros. She was one of the most luxurious yachts of her day, as evidenced by the fact that King Juan Carlos of Spain, a noted sailing enthusiast, honeymooned aboard her in 1962.

Although Niarchos spent much of his life living aboard the huge motor yacht Atlantis moored in Monte Carlo, he would own Eros for 30 years until 1974, when Bancroft bought her. Bancroft rechristened her Fair Sarae. At various times she chartered in the Caribbean and in the Northeast United States, and was sometimes kept at Treasure Island on San Francisco Bay.

After the passing of Bancroft’s husband in 1990, the schooner was sold to a German buyer. By that time the boat was in dire need of a major refit. The German buyer brought her to the Stone Boat Yard in Alameda, which the Bodles had purchased. A few years into the refit, the German ran out of money or was put in jail — perhaps both — and the Bodles became the default owners of Fair Sarae.

The schooner was in pieces at the time. Very large pieces. The boat has 110 three-inch teak frames that weigh an average of 400 pounds each. It would take four strong men to lift each one of them. When the boat had to be moved, Bill needed to hire the same crane that was used to lift the part of the Bay Bridge roadbed that had fallen during the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Bodle is one of the most energetic men Latitude has ever met, so it came as no surprise that he would take over the restoration of the boat that was called Eros again. He could have no idea that the refit would take 15 years, most of it in the water, and much more money than he ever anticipated.

When the work was completed in 2010, the Bodles took Eros back to the Caribbean, intending to put her up for sale. But when they found out how much she would bring in charters, they decided to do some of those. The Wanderer and de Mallorca toured Eros while she was in St. Barth, and were tickled to learn that the ship’s company consisted of Lucy, the captain, Bill, who was then in his mid-70s, and just one young deckhand.

After Cameron met the Bodles in Greece, both the Bodles and Riddell family moved back to Northern California. Cameron spent his summers working on boats, and remained good friends with the Bodles, in part because they were operating the famous Stone Boat Yard. “There was always something interesting going on there,” he remembers.

In 1993, at age 30, Riddell started Los Angeles-based Bird Barrier, an international pest control company that specializes in keeping birds off buildings. Despite the fact that Cameron never got boats out of his blood, he never owned one himself. Until this summer, that is, when he and a partner bought Eros from the Bodles.

While Riddell hopes that he and his family will be able to use Eros for personal pleasure in a few years, he and his partner are currently running her as a charter business. She’ll be in the Antigua Charter Boat Show in December, and Riddell hopes he’ll be able to join the boat if charterers want to participate in events such as the Antigua Classic Regatta.

The plan is for Eros to charter in the Caribbean for the winter, in Bermuda next summer for the America’s Cup, and other summers in the Northeast United States. How can she legally charter in US waters if she was built in England? Riddell can thank Elizabeth Meyer, who restored the J Class Yacht Endeavour and almost singlehandedly got that class going again, for what’s called a MARAD (Maritime Administration) exception. Because of Meyer's lobbying efforts, certain boats between 100 and 200 tons that were built outside the US are allowed, despite the Jones Act, to charter in U.S. waters. It’s good to have friends in high places, isn't it?

Eros is licensed to carry 12 guests, but Riddlell says she sleeps eight to nine in comfort.

“She’s perfect for three couples or two families with a bunch of kids,” says Riddell. Having been aboard her, we can vouch for her being a perfect floating playground for children. She lists for $45,000 a week, and can be booked through Nicholson Yachts Worldwide.

“I’m really excited about the upgrades made to make Eros look more contemporary,” says Riddell, “and she’s got a great young crew. If we can do five to six weeks of charters in the first year, I’ll be very happy.”

— latitude/rs 10/15/2016

Tivoli — Beneteau First 42s7
Torben and Judy Bentsen
Six Years of Cruising
(Pt. Richmond)

Torben and I woke up this morning in the port of Mahon, Menorca. Menorca is the second-largest of Spain's Balearic Islands, and is pronounced MAY-own, as in 'mayon-naise', because that's where the fatty dressing was invented.

Torben and I gave each other a happy-anniversary kiss. With every anniversary comes reminiscing, reflection and planning for the future. But this year more so than ever.

Six years ago today, September 11, we and many of our friends gathered on the docks of Richmond YC, where our lines were cast off so Torben and I could begin our adventure of a lifetime. So far we have sailed roughly 18,000 nautical miles through 34 different countries or territories. But our route has been a little different than that of most cruisers.

The first season we did Mexico and down to El Salvador, where we left the boat. The second season we transited the Panama Canal, and did Cuba and part of the Eastern Caribbean before leaving the boat in Trinidad. The third season we did the Eastern Caribbean. For season four we cruised between Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe, then crossed the Atlantic to the Azores, Ireland, Scotland and Denmark. The next season was spent in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Now we're in the Med, having put 2,652 hours on the engine, burned 1,809 gallons of diesel, filled the propane tank 45 times, and replaced the main, the jib, and countless lines.

What's next? We both have come to the conclusion that the Mediterranean has been a bit of a disappointment. Though we have absolutely loved the food and all the culture and history, we have had a hard time getting used to all the crowds. Our cruising has morphed into a vacation rather than an adventure. We feel like tourists rather than cruisers.

In addition, everything has become so convenient. We're actually finding ourselves missing the battles against the elements! We want mosquitoes and 'hamburger' meat that we know isn't beef! We want to walk seven miles on a dirt road only to discover we should have zigged instead of zagged — and still never find the grocery store! Finally, we want the camaraderie that only cruisers can share.

So our plan is to sail for the Canary Islands next month, fly back to San Francisco for a bit, then head back across the Atlantic sometime in the early spring. The Caribbean has always been a favorite. And it makes sense for us to leave Tivoli in Puerto Rico for the summer and return to cruise during the winter months.

There are still some places we have yet to see in the Caribbean, and we want to have time to explore Cuba again, as it was our favorite. Jamaica and the Yucatan Peninsula are on our list as well, as we missed them going the other way. And when it eventually comes time to bring Tivoli home, we will be a lot closer.

This season also includes a change in our living situation back in the States. Next spring we'll be moving back into our penthouse, which we moved out of 7 1/2 years ago. We are not stopping cruising, just realigning times between away and home to a different cycle. And ultimately, we're getting set up to bring Tivoli back to the Richmond YC in a year or three.

Our 1994 Beneteau 42s7 was a fairly competitive racing boat in her youth. In her old age, she is content being weighed down with a lot of cruising stuff. We raised the waterline twice before leaving Richmond to compensate for the anchors, chain, watermaker, dinghy, kayak, four computers, extra fuel, and what-have-you. While in Trinidad we raised the waterline yet again.

While Tivoli wasn't designed as a full- time cruising boat, we've been happy with her. And we often sail when other cruisers fire up the engine.

Thanks to Ernest Hemingway, most people are vaguely familiar with the Pamplona, Spain, tradition of running with the bulls. This is where young people, believing they are invincible, get chased down the narrow streets by crazed bulls. The bulls frequently 'win'!

Yesterday we went to the festival in Mahon with fellow Richmond YC members Jim and Deb Gregory, who recently arrived aboard their Schumacher 50 Morpheus. This festival is held in the middle of the plaza, where Menorcan horsemen show off their skills in getting their horses to rear for long periods of time. While the horse is standing on its hind legs, young people, who think they are invincible, get in close or even under the horse to put their hands on its heart to demonstrate how fearless they are.

There were stands in a protected area for sensible people, but we got there a little late. Debbie, a horse lover, guided us toward the beasts, so there we were in the middle of the crowd, waiting to see if we would get trampled by a horse or just knocked down by the surging crowd as they tried to avoid the swirling hooves!

Good thing we had a few gin & limonatas — the traditional getting-ready-to get-trampled-by-a-horse drink — before and during the event.

— judy 09/15/2016

Passing Wind — Deerfoot 60
Jeff and Judy Wahl
Summer in Southern Mexico
(South Dakota)

Having spent a lot of time in Mexico, Jeff and Judy assumed that the farther south you get, the warmer it gets. What they didn't realize until this September is that if you get far enough south — as in 2,000 miles southeast of San Diego, or 1,000 miles southeast of Puerto Vallarta across the Gulf of Tehuantepec and almost to Guatemala — it gets cooler again. At least in the summer.

"Judy and I spent three weeks on our boats at the Chiapas Marina installing new air-conditioning and refrigeration systems, and the weather was much better than in the Vallarta area during the summer," says Jeff. "In fact, it was the same as South Dakota." We have no idea what that means, but given the context, it must be pleasant weather.

"We only had one day when it over 90 degrees at Chiapas," he continued, "and most days it was in the 80s. One of the biggest differences between Chiapas and all the places between Mazatlan and Acapulco is that it hardly ever rains in Chiapas. That's because all the rain falls in the mountains, and they're 20 miles inland. We only get a few sprinkles, but no lightning or tropical storms. In addition, the marina is about a half mile in from the beach, so we also get a nice sea breeze.

Jeff admits there is a downside to the Marina Chiapas area. "It's a couples' area. I'm lucky to have Judy, because there isn't much social life in the marina or even at the 'big city' of Tapachula. That's about 20 miles inland, and has a Costco and all that, but it doesn't have much social life. So if Judy and I were to retire in Mexico, we'd retire in the Vallarta area because there is so much more going on there.

"That said," Jeff continues, "berthing is much less expensive in Chiapas. We pay $280/month for our 60-footer, no matter if she's in the water or on the hard. The price is the same for boats on the hard in the high season, but in-the-water rates are higher.

"The marina, which is about a half mile in from the ocean and down a causeway, is totally protected and there is no surge. There is a Travelift, but at this point in time the services are pretty much limited to painting bottoms and waxing hulls."
The marina also has a restaurant, which Jeff and Judy describe as excellent, with very reasonable prices.

What they really rave about, however, is the marina management and staff.

"We never had any problems at other marinas in Mexico, but Enrique and Memo at the Chiapas Marina are just the greatest. If they tell you something, you can count on its being true or its getting done. In addition, they are happy to give you a ride to the port captain, aduana, and immigration offices. They make checking in and clearing out seamless and painless."

This is a noteworthy change from 10 to 25 years ago, when Chiapas, then known as Puerto Madero, was a badass place with some very corrupt officials. Getting checked in or out involved two 20-mile taxi rides to the airport in Tapachula, and there were often problems with getting the paperwork taken care of. Anyone who tried to get something shipped to Puerto Madero was lucky if they ever saw it. But according to Jeff and Judy, that's ancient history.

"No matter where we've gone in Mexico, the people have been wonderful," they say. "But down here it's different. It's not like you're great friends as is the case in the rest of Mexico, it's like you're family. It really is. And the same thing is true at Bahia del Sol just down the coast in El Salvador."

Judy and Jeff are 'two-boat' owners. They have the Wellington 47 Island Mistress, which they've owned for many years, and which they tried to take beyond Mexico a couple of times. They hope to have sold her by the time you read this. And late last year they purchased the Deerfoot 60 hull #12 built by Tillotson-Pearson in Rhode Island in 1995. They christened her Passing Wind.

"I absolutely love our Dashew design," says Jeff. "She sails beautifully, has plenty of room, is easy to handle, and is particularly well thought-out. For example, from just one seat in the engine room I can access all the different mechanical systems. It's fantastic."

Jeff admits that Judy didn't immediately take to the boat as much as he did. "But after two 1,000-mile passages — San Diego to Puerto Vallarta, and then Puerto Vallarta to Chiapas — she's been won over. One of the things Judy likes best is that it's so easy for the two of us to sail," says Jeff. "We can put three reefs in the main from the cockpit — which is what we had to do when we had 35 knots of wind and big following seas as we sailed past Cabo."

As much as the couple like Chiapas, they're about to move on. "Our next stop will be Bahia del Sol, El Salvador, which has a French consulate where we plan to apply for a one-year visa for French Polynesia. After that we'll continue on to Panama and the Galapagos, and then cross to the Marquesas in the spring. It will be great to finally get cruising again."

The couple hope their South Dakota resort will also sell, but it's no longer tying them down as much as before because they've found a great manager who does everything right.

"The manager is a woman," says Jeff. "The thing about women is that they are reliable."

Don't you hate men and their disgusting sexist attitudes!

— latitude/rs 10/20/2016

Sonrisa — Lagoon 440
The Brettingham-Moore Family
Deepening Our Roots in Baja
(La Paz, Baja California Sur)

We, the crew of Sonrisa — Nick the dad, Melissa the mom, Benjamin, 10, and Huon, 7 — are still thoroughly enjoying La Paz and the Sea of Cortez. This is our sixth year in the Sea of Cortez — time has been passing quickly — and our second year in the Costa Baja Marina.

In November we'll fly back to our home in Tasmania for four months, where Melissa will finish her Nutritional Medicine course. After six years of study, it's been a labor of love by correspondence. When we return, we will apply for permanent residency in Mexico. Compared to the stringent Australian requirements, in Mexico it appears straightforward. It's just a matter of money. We're even contemplating selling our small farm in Tasmania. How ideas and dreams can change over time!

It's been a good year for us so far, with lots of variety. We had a pleasant road trip down from San Diego in January and a month’s work running a 100-foot motoryacht out of the Virgin Islands, topped off with a delivery to the Bahamas. Nothing like getting paid to go cruising!

To get away from the Sea of Cortez heat in July and August, we took a trip to the Pacific Northwest and really enjoyed Seattle, Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands and Vancouver, and then a few weeks hiking and river rafting in Colorado.

One of the many benefits of our nomadic lifestyle is the friends we make. Although we were gone for two months, we only spent two nights in hotels. It sure makes for inexpensive travel, but we're careful to not stay so long as to be unwelcome. We have enticed our friends to visit La Paz, so the opportunity to reciprocate will be another pleasure.

On almost every Friday afternoon that we're in La Paz, we head out to beautiful Isla Espiritu Santo, just a few hours away. It gives us a short cruising break from the bustle of La Paz — not to mention the 5:30 a.m. alarm needed to get the boys up for school. It's unbelievable, but their school starts at 7 a.m.!

We've been living aboard Sonrisa full-time for 10 years now, ever since we bought her in France. But our happy, wandering years aboard are now coming to a temporary end, as we're moving ashore. I'm not really sure how this happened without my, Nick's, even getting to cast a vote.

I guess the Pacific crossing that we've anticipated doing for about five years now will be put back another five years. The boys have now completed nearly two years in the local Montessori school. They speak Spanish perfectly, with the local Mexican twang. How the tables have turned from when Melissa and I used to speak Spanish behind their backs.

To give life a bit more interest, we will be chartering Sonrisa when we return to La Paz. It's a rather natural progression, as we worked aboard spare-no-expense megayachts in Europe for 20 years. Melissa will be able to combine her skills as a chef with her new Nutrition degree. I have just completed my marine surveyor's course, so when you add charters to deliveries and yacht provisioning, we will be quite busy. Any readers interested in more information about our cruising the Sea of Cortez can go to Those interested in future charters can go to

On a practical note we have now been onboard Sonrisa for three tropical storms. Twice we were at anchor, and for Newton we were in Costa Baja Marina. We survived all three without incident. Costa Baja Marina is one of the best cyclone holes we have ever come across. Even the derelict yachts in the marina survived hurricane Odile and tropical storm Newton without problems. And while on the hook, having 100 metres of half-inch chain ensures our security. It’s all about being prepared and taking care of unexpected problems while on the yacht.

— nick 09/15/2016

Flashgirl — Wylie 39+
Warwick 'Commodore' Tompkins
Back in the High Life Again
(Mill Valley)

The good news is that Warwick 'Commodore' Tompkins has managed to refloat and resume sailing his Mill Valley-based Wylie 38+ Flashgirl. The boat he spent seven years building sank as a result of a lightning strike a few months ago while on a mooring near Kaneohe Bay, Oahu.

The specific cause of the sinking was a hole's being blown in the galley sink drain. The batteries couldn't keep the bilge pumps going forever, so she sank. Lightning caused severe damage to other parts of the boat, including the masthead and electrical system. While the Yanmar diesel was inundated, it now seems to be running fine.

Since shortly after the inundation Commodore had been alone on the boat on the hook, putting her back together. "He needed to go aloft to inspect damage to the masthead," reports his wife, Nancy Potter Tompkins, "so he logically waited for the cool of night. Using a tackle, he pulled himself up to the masthead.

Somehow the tackle line got caught around a fender, so Commodore could only lower himself halfway down before getting stuck. At night. Alone. In the anchorage. Well, once a climber, always a climber, so he attached some line to the bosun's chair for retrieval, then simply climbed down the mast. Not bad for an 84-year-old."

We don't think Commodore was ever a mountain climber, but as we recall he used to win $100 bets by pulling himself hand-over-hand to the masthead of maxi yachts.

By the time you read this, Commodore should be sailing Flashgirl back to California with the help of San Francisco Bay protégés Robert Flowerman and Jonathan 'Bird' Livingston, and Maui's Geoff Bourne. We don't know about Geoff, but Commodore not only taught Robert and Bird how to sail, he tutored them in how to be grumpy, too.

As Commodore, who has been sailing the oceans of the world for more than 80 years, is something of a sailing legend, and his boat means more to him than boats mean to the average sailor, a Flashgirl Fund has been established so friends can help defray the expenses of restoring the boat. Twenty percent of the goal has been reached. To learn how you can contribute to restore the boat that Commodore and Nancy sailed in the far reaches of the Pacific for the better part of 10 years, you can .

For all Commodore's nautical rectitude, he's quick to lend a hand to others when needed. Jack van Ommen, who cruised to something like 50 countries with his Nada 29 Fleetwood after going bankrupt, has a fond memory of Commodore:

"I will never forget how Commodore and Nancy delayed landing after their nonstop maiden voyage/honeymoon cruise from San Diego to Papeete in 2005. Commodore recognized my predicament trying to anchor without an engine at the Papeete seawall and came to my rescue. I wrote about in my book SoloMan."

Anyway, it will be good to have both Commodore and Flashgirl back on the Bay again, keeping an eye out to make sure all things nautical are done correctly.

— latitude/rs 10/15/2016

Celebration — Taswell 58
Charlie and Cathy Simon
After the Circumnavigation
(Spokane/Nuevo Vallarta)

What do you do after a circumnavigation? If you're Charlie and Cathy Simon of the Spokane/Nuevo Vallarta/Annapolis-based Taswell 58 Celebration, after you complete the 11-month World ARC in 2014-2015, mostly doublehanded, you give seminars at the United States Boat Show in Annapolis, write the Quick Start Circumnavigation Guide, then look north.

"Voyaging has kept us young," says Charlie, 62, and Cathy, who laughingly claims to be 'much older'. "So our next adventure will be the Northwest Passage. That means 2,500 miles from the Atlantic Ocean end of the Arctic Circle to the Pacific Ocean end of the Atlantic Circle. The Northwest Passage will be the highlight of our year-long 14,000-mile circumnavigation of North America.”

Only 250 boats in history have managed to complete the Northwest Passage, although, thanks to climate change, it’s currently a more viable voyage than it used to be. Sixteen boats did it last year.

The Simons want to do the Northwest Passage to see different kinds of animal life — particularly polar bears. They also want to do their part to calling attention to climate change. The couple will leave Annapolis in May, depart Greenland in July for Resolute, the northernmost part of Canada. Everybody waits at Resolute for the ice to clear, then they scurry across to the other side.

“Contrary to common belief," says Charlie, "the Northwest Passage is mostly a coastal rather than an ocean passage, and it’s not that remote or isolated. There are six small communities along the route that have commercial air service, where it’s possible for us to have parts and other stuff flown in. We were far more isolated and remote when crossing the Pacific and the Atlantic.”

Another misconception is that the weather will be terrible on the Northwest Passage. “It’s far enough north where the weather usually isn’t too bad from July to September,” says Charlie. “It’s almost certain that we’ll encounter our worst weather farther south in the Gulf of Alaska after we’ve completed the Northwest Passage.”

“We’re actually not daredevil types,” says Cathy. “We like to be comfortable.” As was the case on their circumnavigation, Celebration’s entire cockpit will be enclosed. And to make the passage physically less strenuous, six young males have tentatively signed on to do the trip with the couple.

Celebration returned from her circumnavigation in excellent shape. In order to prepare for the Northwest Passage, Charlie has installed a 150-gallon fuel bladder and a masthead camera, added a proper heater to augment the one in the reverse-cycle air-conditioning system, installed a shortwave radio, and put on extra safety gear.

There is a Northwest Passage Facebook group that, thanks to his enthusiasm, Charlie has 'inherited'. He’ll put out calls for other boats starting in January.

“One time during our circumnavigation we went ashore to lunch at the same time as a bunch of people from a cruise ship,” remembers Cathy. “They had walkers or were hobbling along. Charlie and I noted how old they were — and then we realized we’re the same age! Sailing is our Fountain of Youth. We’re doing it to keep young. And yeah, these sailing adventures have us feeling like kids again.”

— latitude/rs 10/15/2016

Cruise Notes:

Snakes and bees threaten cruisers in the Sea of Cortez — see the first Changes in this month's issue — and now monkeys threaten cruisers in Malaysia.

"On October 1, I was headed back to my Brewer 45 Quetzalcoatl, which was in a berth at Rebak Island Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia," reports Donald Bryden of Sparks, Nevada. "As I approached the pier, I saw a monkey ahead. There are a lot of monkeys in this part of Malaysia, and lately they've been raiding the garbage cans near the piers and making quite a mess. Anyway, as I approached, the monkey went to the entrance to the pier where I was headed. Soon we were face to face. I stomped my feet, waved my arms and shouted for him to go away, much as might be done when faced with an aggressive dog. Well, this monkey wasn’t backing down. When I stepped toward him, he took a couple of steps toward me and bared his nasty teeth. I backed away, and he followed for a few steps, always keeping his teeth bared.

"This monkey was about the size of an adult pit bull," Bryden continues. "In hand-to-hand combat, we would both be losers. There was a small pile of boards next to the garbage cans. I picked out a board that was about four feet long, and headed back toward the monkey. I was impatient because I had a cold one waiting for me on the boat, and I was not going to be denied. The monkey was again at the entrance to the pier with his teeth bared. When I got near him, he jumped at me. I swung the board, and even though I missed him, I hit the railing of the pier, which made a loud noise. The monkey must have seen his life flash before his eyes, because he was gone in an instant. As I later related this story to my partner Seishu Sono while enjoying that cold Tiger beer, I realized my adrenaline had kicked in and I was feeling very up. There is definitely a rush attached to meeting a foe in combat, even if it is just a damn monkey."

Gene and Sheri Seybold of the Stockton-/Honolulu-based Esprit 37 Reflections, have been at the same marina and having the same problems with monkeys. Sheri notes that one monkey that's been blocking their path "has incisors that are two inches long!" Monkeys are nothing to take lightly, as they are lightning-fast, often very mean, have a wicked bite — and will steal anything they can get their claws on.

As anyone who has cruised the East Coast can tell you, there are many more places to go by boat than on the West Coast, and waterfront property with a dock is much less expensive. But there are some downsides to the East Coast:
1) The weather. It's cold in the winter, hot and humid in the summer, and it's subject to hurricanes. And, 2) It has lots of bugs and insects. Mike and Deanna Ruel of the Manta 42 R Sea Kat know all about the bad weather, threats of hurricanes, and bugs.

"We got the anchor down in Broad Creek, Albemarle Sound, South Carolina, and there wasn't a mosquito in sight. While eating dinner and enjoying a movie, we were suddenly hit by a swarm of bugs. We battened down the hatches and engaged our fly swatters in a killing spree. A million more bloodthirsty pestilents waited for us outside our salon door. Looking out the hatch looked like a scene from a horror film."

As some readers will remember, Mike and Deanna completed a circumnavigation earlier this year. What's up next for them? "Probably the Northwest Passage," Mike told Latitude. If we're not mistaken, some other recent circumnavigators have the same idea. "Or else," continued Mike, "we might do the channels of Patagonia."

Cameron Riddell, whose schooner Eros is the subject of the second Changes this month, notes that his sister Romayne was named after their father Stuart's first boat, a 53-ft steel gaff ketch. "It's a little odd," Camerson says, "because boats are usually named after girls, not girls after boats."

Stuart's ketch was dismasted outside San Francisco in 1957 while heading to the South Pacific. So he had to turn around and get a new mast, which took about three months. It was during that time that Stuart met Emily, who would become his wife.

"In other words," says Cameron, "if my dad hadn't lost the mast on Romayne, my sister and I wouldn't have been born. My mom joined my dad on his Pacific cruise and they were married in New Zealand in 1960. They're still married today."

"We left Stamford, Connecticut, for Bermuda one Saturday in late September, sailing down the East River, past the Statue of Liberty, and then headed east," reports Seattle's Greg Slyngstad, owner of the unique-looking Bieker 53 catamaran Fujin. "We had to motor before the wind filled in," says Greg, "but then we did 314 miles in 24 hours. It was an easy, mostly downwind trip."

Let's see, 314 divided by 24 — that's an average of 13 knots! Fujin is one very fast cruising cat.

If you didn't/don't have a cruising boat that was/is your home, you might not understand the following.

"We're back in La Paz after camping in northern Baja for a month," reports Steve Baker, who along with his wife Charlotte are formerly from Santa Rosa. They now live aboard at the small fishing village of Evaristo, north of La Paz, on the Catalina 27 Willful Simplicity that they sailed down in the 2009 Baja Ha-Ha.

"We rode down to La Paz from San Evaristo in buddy Lupe Sierra's truck. The road isn't too bad right now, so we only cracked one molar. When we got to La Paz, we went to the boatyard where Willful Simplicity spent the last two months on the hard and survived tropical storm Newton. After giving our boat a big hug, we just sat on her for a while. As our friend Heidi on the boat Cetus said, "If you don't live on a boat, or never have, you can't imagine what it's like to get back to her after you've been gone."

"Living on a boat is great, because you get to move your boat from one beautiful spot to another on a whim," Steve continues, "and we seem to whim a lot. Our boat is getting her bottom painted today. After a week in the marina to check her vitals, we'll fill her with fuel and food, then adios, we'll be on our way up to San Evaristo."

Actually, living on a boat isn't always great. The rudder on Willful Simplicity broke on their way to Evaristo. But Steve wasn't pertubed, knowing it would be simple to get it repaired in La Paz — just as he did five years ago when their boat was blown ashore in 75-knot winds.

Shelley Rotherly Ward, who is cruising French Polynesia aboard the La Paz-based Peterson 44 Avatar with her partner Mike Rickman, is a little miffed that Jimmy Buffett finally decided to play at her old stomping grounds, Humphreys in San Diego, a relatively intimate music venue of 1,400. Jimmy hadn't played there in 14 years. "But what the hell," she noted philosophically, "I'm finally living my life like a song. A Jimmy Buffett song."

For those headed to the South Pacific next spring, Shelley and Mike, who are staying in French Polyenesia for a year, recommend Huahine. "It's our favorite island in the Societies, because compared to Papeete, it's like a sleepy village."

"Our weather window in the Pacific Northwest closed early this year, so I won't be doing the Ha-Ha this year after all," reports Craig Shaw of the Portland-based Columbia 43 Adios. "On my way to previous Ha-Ha's I've always been able to find a northwesterly in October to get me down the coast. But not this year. Nonetheless, it's been fun getting projects done on the boat: new keel bolts, new steering cables, new mainsail, new jib halyard winches, new halyards, and so forth. I'll get lots more done before the start of the 2017 Ha-Ha."

The Grand Poobah of the Ha-Ha reports that he's been watching West Coast weather in October for 23 years, and can't remember ever seeing such relentless southerlies.

Meanwhile on the East Coast, Bill Lilly of the Newport Beach-based Lagoon 47 Moontide reports that the temps in the Delaware area dropped to the 40s for a week in early October. "Then the weather gods took mercy on this California boy, and it got up to 80 degrees for three days in a row in Annapolis. But by the end of October I will have taken off for the British Virgin Islands, where I won't have to worry about cold weather or murky water anymore."

What's a professional extreme snowboarder do when the snow melts? If he's Travis Rice, who "hucks double cork 1080s off backcountry booters" — whatever that means — he goes cruising. According to an article by Hans Aschim in the Men's Journal, Rice and his dad learned to sail on Sunfish and other small boats on lakes in Northern Michigan. A few years later, Dad became a partner in a 24-ft trimaran that he and Travis would sail from Florida to the Bahamas. They learned to sail by trial and error. Rice also learned to surf on waves he'd get to by paddling from the tri, and got hooked on sailing and surfing. He confesses that he's no longer just a mountain man, but an ocean and mountain man, which is why he's one of Men's Journal's 50 'Most Adventurous Men'.

Rice's favorite cruising ground is French Polynesia, because it gets the big surf in the Northern Hemisphere summer when there is no snow in the mountains and the Northern Hemisphere waves are small. Apparently there are pretty big bucks in professional snowboarding and snowboarding movies, because he's cruising on Falcor, a Gunboart 48 cat.

Rice says he likes the mountains and ocean because "you're at the mercy of your own decision-making, and I've found that true freedom comes from taking full responsibility." Hear! Hear!

"I'm feeling extreeeeeemely fortunate right now," reports Ronald Simpson, a Puddle Jump vet with Cal 2-27 Mongo and a frequent Latitude contributor now living on Oahu. "I took my new-to-me Peterson 34 cruising boat Seabiscuit out for a casual Friday night race, and all was going well until we rounded the channel marker and turned upwind. A few seconds later — BANG! — and the headstay went slack. We quickly dropped sail and motored home with a flopping headstay supported by every halyard I could run forward to keep the rig up.

"We later took the headstay down and the furler off, and found that the bottom of the fitting between the headstay turnbuckle and furler had corroded all the way through! This is the one part of the rigging that was concealed during my visual inspection, and I doubt that even a surveyor would have found it."

The Peterson 34 is a fine racer/cruiser from the late 1970s, but as is the case with all boats more than about 15 years old, all of the rigging and chainplates need to be carefully inspected. Even the parts that are hard to inspect. Actually, particularly the parts that are hard to inspect.

"It should be noted that the expression of things being 'routine' on a passage is sometimes used with a bit of literary license," reports John Rogers of the San Diego-based Deerfoot 62 Moonshadow. "Perhaps the following will help with the true definition of 'routine' on a passage.

"When I was settling in to the routine night watch after dinner, the wind died, so I started the engine, wanting to keep our speed up to make the rendezvous with New Zealand’s North Cape in advance of the oncoming front. Smelling something hot, and noting an elevated main engine temperature, I immediately shut the engine down. Further investigation revealed that the small alternator’s adjusting nut had sheared off, rendering the water pump — which shares the same fan belt — useless in keeping coolant flowing. Four hours later — and without waking my dear wife Deb from her sleep during her routine off-watch, despite making all kinds of loud sounds — the sheared bolt had been drilled, easy-outed, and replaced, along with the pivot bolt, which had disappeared. That’s a five-inch long bolt! Gone. Luckily, we had a bolt long enough to do the job, so voila, problem solved. Back to the routine.

"But not so fast. Upon starting the main engine, the temperature rose dramatically, so I shut things down, woke Deb to take over her routine watch, and went to bed to fret over how to deal with the cards we'd been dealt. If we were forced to sail in the light winds of a high-pressure cell, we would miss our ETA at New Zealand’s North Cape, exposing Moonshadow to the approaching low system and associated front. Just what we’d hoped to avoid! Further, we would need a tow upon arrival.

"Sleep was impossible while going through the possibilities of what was causing the overheating, but it had to be one of three things: the saltwater impeller, the fresh-water pump, or the thermostat. After a few hours of off-watch non-sleep, I came on deck to announce to the entire crew — Debbie and myself — our plan: Tack Moonshadow to starboard with the jib aback to create enough heel to see if the engine was spitting seawater out of the exhaust. If there was water, we’d change the thermostat. If not, we'd change the impeller. There was no seawater, so we had our smoking gun.

"When we extracted the remnants of what had once been an eight-bladed rubber impeller, all the blades had been shredded. Half the fins had been ingested into the cooling system, which we’ll deal with ashore. But we were able to extract the other half from the seawater intake hose. So we installed a new impeller, dropped some tools into the bilge, and got underway again to make our ETA."

"We arrived in San Andreas, Colombia, after an overnight motor — no wind! — from Bocas del Toro, Panama," report Mike and Robin Stout of the Redondo Beach-based Aleutian 51 Mermaid. "We had intended to stop for a few days in the Albuquerque Cays for snorkeling, but there were numerous squalls when we got to the entrance, and you need good light to navigate those cays. So we headed in to Isla San Andreas.

"Although off the coast of Nicaragua, San Andreas is a Colombian playground.
The pass was well-marked and easy to enter, but once we got inside — oh boy! We found ourselves navigating between anchored fishing boats with maybe a foot of water beneath the keel at times. We anchored in 12 feet of water right off the malecon. The water is flat calm and incredibly clear here. A beautiful spotted eagle ray has been swimming around the boat.

"When you enter Colombia, you're required to check in with an agent. We used Rene Cardona Torres, and found the process to be easy. He did the running around while we enjoyed a cold beer. With paperwork done and passports stamped, we wandered around town a bit before heading back to Mermaid — and sleeping for 10 hours. We have encountered only smiles and friendly, happy people here!"

"At each new country we visit, we're reminded to leave our expectations at home and embrace the differences," report Mark and Deanna Roozendaal of the Vancouver-based Manta 42 Speakeasy.

"In Noumea, New Caledonia, for example, the businesses are open at curious hours. The fabulous downtown vegetable, fruit, fish and crafts market is open early, from 4:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every day but Monday. The highly recommended restaurant we want to go to is only open Tuesday through Friday nights. As for alcohol, it isn't sold in stores from noon to 9 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, almost every downtown store is closed — even though the big cruise ships are in port. Could it be that personal, nonwork time is upheld as sacrosanct here?

"The one thing I do know," says Deanna, "is that the selection of food products in New Caledonia is fabulous and overwhelming. For much of the last six months we haven't seen anything resembling what we think of as a grocery store."

In the course of our labors, we come across a lot of sailing blogs. As you might expect, most tend to get a little boring, but some of them are excellent. However, if you stick with any of them long enough, you'll always come across some real gems of information or humor.

The biggest laugh we recently got from reading blogs came from an item in one by 'A Coastal Sailing Family' from Seattle, who own January, a Jonmeri 48 pilothouse that was built in 1988. They recount the history of their boat:

January is hull #1 of five Jonmeris that were built, and was originally owned by a guy from Sweden. The boat was later purchased by the cousin of King Juan Carlos in Port Banus, Spain. Sadly, the king's cousin was suffering from dementia, so he would buy a 48-ft boat, forget he did, and go out and buy another and another. According to the blog, by the time the man's sons figured out what had happened, he'd purchased six 48-footers! Poor guy. The Jonmeri 48 was later sold to a guy who had her in St. Martin in the Eastern Caribbean for two seasons, then, in an unusual move, decided to have a sistership built, minus the pilothouse. The boat later made her way to the Northeast, and after that was trucked to Seattle, where she was eventually named after a month of the year.

One of our favorite sailing blogs is being written by The Swiss Sailing Family Probst, which consists of Justin Loring, the dad, Kristina, the mom, and five kids who appear to be between the ages of about five and 14. The family, working with a tight budget, bought a 40-year-old Westsail 32 kit boat, on which no work had been done, and a bunch of parts. Despite the five kids, Mom and Dad have been working — and knocking out — projects at a furious pace at an unnamed tree-lined marina in the Delta. What they've accomplished so far in such a short period of time strikes us as amazing. It's because Justin seems to be one of those guys who is calmly confident and competent in everything from engines to refrigeration, to fiberglassing, to rigging, and is being relentlessly helped by Kristina. How they find time to blog, let alone eat and sleep, is beyond us. Currently their biggest concern is whether there will be enough room for seven of them on Rad Mode. If they were French, it would be no problem, but they are Swiss.

Anyway, based on their blog, the Probsts strike us as being the best of 'alternative style' cruisers. We wish them all the luck in the world, not that they are the kind to rely on luck.

In closing this month, we'd like hail Jeanne Socrates, the charming 74-year-old who has set off with her Najad 38 Nereid in an attempt to become the oldest person to sail around the world solo and nonstop — something she's already done before. We drove Jeanne on a Costco run in Puerto Vallarta last year, then had her out sailing aboard Profligate, and haven't been so impressed with anyone in a long, long time. Look no further for a role model for women.

Missing the pictures? See the November 2016 eBook!


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