Changes in Latitudes

December, 2000

With reports this month from Softwind on a reverse 'Milk Run'; from First Light on a rally over the top of Oz; from Anonymous on the dirty laundry blues; from Cking Truth on a long family cruise in the Caribbean; from Grimsby on a struggle in Colon; from Rhapsodie on Vanuatu and New Caledonia; from Sundancer on a bad breeze near Guaymas; and Cruise Notes.


Softwind - Cheoy Lee Lion
Don Mollett
Milk Run In Reverse
(Santa Barbara)

I'm currently in Uo Pou, Marquesas. I left Auckland, New Zealand, on July 23 bound for Mexico - in other words, a Milk Run in reverse! It's not a trip I would recommend to anyone. It's 5,555 nautical miles from Auckland to Cabo, so I've made a couple of stops along the way for repairs and to reprovision. My first stop was at Niue after 12 days of heavy seas, during which time I carried a double-reefed main and occasionally a storm jib. Niue is a very beautiful and friendly place. I later stopped at Rarotonga, the Cook Islands, Bora Bora, Raiatea, Huahine, Rangiroa and now Uo Pou. I'll make one more stop at Nuku Hiva before the long last leg to Cabo.

I was a member of the class of '85 that left Mexico on the Milk Run across the Pacific. It just took me longer than the others to find all the islands in the South Pacific. After 15 years down here, it's time for me to cross the equator again. It took me 23 days to sail the 2,300 downwind miles to here from Cabo. I'm not sure how long it's going to take me to sail back as it's uphill. Besides, this time I'll be doing it without an engine, the GPS that packed it in back at the Cooks, or any other form of electronics. No worries, as I've always put my absolute faith in my sextant, Walker log and Aries windvane. By the way, my Lion class 36-foot sloop was designed by Arthur Robb and built of wood by the Cheoy Lee shipyard in '62.

I'm writing because I want my name in the hat for the drawing of who came the farthest and hardest for the Baja Ha-Ha party. If all goes well, I should arrive sometime in late December. Sorry I didn't send any photographs, but I'm just catching on to the Internet - great stuff!

There are only foreign yachts in the harbor here; two French and one English. The last North American yacht I saw was Tilly Whim in Rarotonga, with Tom and Maureen of Santa Clara aboard. They were headed to Papeete. I look forward to seeing everyone in the land of tequila sunrises.

- don 10/15/2000

First Light - J/44
Andy & Jill Rothman
Over The Top Of Oz

"Get moving," our friend instructed over the mobile phone. "I just put both of our boats on the waiting list for the Over The Top Rally, and we have to be in Gove by June 26."

Gove? Over The Top? It all sounded pretty distant to us. And it was. Our J/44 First Light - which we'd been cruising out of Sausalito for more than three years - was still on the hard in Sydney Harbor. We'd spent the past five months based in Sydney while we explored the city, toured southeast Australia, and visited back to the States. Now we were committing ourselves to be someplace called Gove at the other end of a very big country, and in just over two months. Well, maybe.

We headed north, staying within five miles of the coast to avoid the infamous East Australian Current, and after six days pulled in the pleasant Gold Coast city of Southport. While there, we crammed four month's worth of boat work into a four-week stay, then set off on a marathon sail up the coast. The winds in northeast Australia at that time of year were supposed to be strong out of the southeast. We weren't disappointed. It blew over 30 knots pretty much 24 hours a day, which was all right with us since we were headed northwest. First Light fairly flew up the coast, averaging over eight knots. We'd had visions of leisurely cruising places such as the Whitsunday Islands, where we'd once chartered years before, but it wasn't to be. It was just as well, because when we passed through the Whitsundays it was overcast and cold enough for the charter boats to return to their bases in search of more blankets!

Sailing up the Queensland coast - behind the Great Barrier Reef and with strong winds from aft - has to be one of life's more exhilarating experiences. With the seas relatively flat and our course nearly dead downwind, we skimmed along, jibing to stay in the zig-zagging ship channel. Given all of the big ships and trawlers that wanted to use the same narrow piece of water as us, there wasn't much time to get bored. The channel that runs between the dozens of reefs and islands is reasonably well marked, but once you get outside of it you're likely to find yourself in spots the charts identify as "unsurveyed". From then on, you're on your own. What did the old time guys do before GPS?

In tropical north Queensland, we rendezvoused with our friends on Scoots at the tourist-oriented city of Cairns. With only two weeks to cover the remaining 900 miles to Gove, we didn't tarry long before resuming our northward migration. A combination of overnights and long - as in 90-miles - daysails finally brought us to Cape York and the northeast tip of the Australian sub-continent. We'd made it some 2,000 miles from Sydney. We rounded the Cape with feelings of both relief and accomplishment, crossed the Gulf of Carpenteria, and two days later dropped the hook in Gove Harbor.

Gove advertises itself as being at the top of Australia, but let us tell you, it's in the middle of nowhere! The tiny town was created 20 years ago to service the giant bauxite mine and smelter then being built. Surrounded by hundreds of miles of aboriginal reserve, it's accessible in the dry season by four-wheel drive, but only by air during the wet season. At 11° south, it's closer to the equator than such tropical places as Fiji and Vanuatu. Given the isolation and the fact that most of the population was non-western - including a fair number of Pacific Islanders there to grow kava - we had the overwhelming feeling that we were back at the islands in the South Pacific.

For sailors, the saving grace of Gove is the smallish Gove YC. What they may lack in polish, however, they make up for in enthusiasm and Aussie hospitality. They're also the organizers of the Over The Top 'Cruise In Company' event that takes the fleet on a 12-day, 500-mile cruise to Darwin - with stops at remote aboriginal lands that are off-limits without special permits.

After a champagne breakfast at the club on a sparkling Sunday afternoon, our 27-boat - the maximum allowed - fleet set off. Naturally there was a big contingent from Australia, with representatives from New Zealand, Australia, France, Switzerland, Holland, Canada - and a remarkable eight from the United States. These included West Coast boats Shakti and Max Grody II from Los Angeles, Pegasus from Sparks, and Kiana from Oregon. Soon the wind lightened up, the sailing became easy, and we coasted along from one remote anchorage to another - with two overnight passages thrown in.

Three days into the cruise we paused for a layday at Refuge Bay, Elcho Island. If Gove had made us think that maybe we weren't in Australia anymore, Elcho Island made us sure of it! When we assembled on the beach for a barbecue that evening, we were joined by 20 or 30 people from the nearby aboriginal settlement. They gathered in family groups around a half dozen small campfires along the beach, while we yachties built a larger BBQ to accommodate the two grills provided by the club. The local ladies cooked 'damper', a flat bread baked in sand heated by fire - which they shared with us. We shared the fish we'd caught. One of the men played the didgeridoo, so some of the young bucks took turns dancing in the firelight - occasionally joined by an enthusiastic yachtie. Not to be outdone, the Kiwis staged a Maori hakka dance. For a finale, some of the Aussies had thoughtfully brought fireworks to help us Yanks celebrate the Fourth of July. The display brought plenty of oohs and aahhs from yachties and locals alike.

Earlier that day, a foraging party had been dispatched in search of mud crabs. We loaded 17 people and two dogs onto a 32-foot catamaran that towed six dinghies to a small river several miles away. After taking everyone ashore, the dinghies were anchored off the beach near the bottom of a 15-foot spring tide. Our group then hiked a half mile or so over the sand flats to the river and mangrove forest. Our leader was 'Monkey Bill', a Gove-ite and our unofficial tour guide.

Bill is a true Northern Territory original. Standing 5' 10" with a bushy mustache, he's been knocking around the top end of Australia most of his life. "Me father was a crocodile hunter," he explained, "but he'd never take me out into the bush with him. So when I turned 15, I started roaming around out there by meself. I've gotten to know hundreds of aborigines, and my son speaks the local language fluently." Monkey Bill's three children also speak fluent Indonesian as a result of many sailing trips to those islands. On one memorable occasion, Bill managed to sail a near derelict boat from Indonesia to Darwin - with a crew that included two monkeys. "They wouldn't let the monkeys into Australia, so I set up me own quarantine station in Darwin Harbor," he said. "I lived there with the monkeys for two years while I worked on the boat, and that's how I got me name."

As we waded waist-deep across the crocodile-infested river, Bill looked back at his motley crew and smiled. "No worries, mates," he said. "After all, this is what adventures are made of." Our foray netted five large mud crabs, which duly found their way onto the BBQ pit that night. Andy also found a perfect 10-inch bailer shell for Jill's collection.

The days passed easily as we sailed among the low, dry islands and peninsulas of Arnhem Land. There was lots of boat-to-boat picture taking, and the swapping of fish stories and crocodile sightings. "He was bigger than my dinghy, mate", said one.

The big social event of the cruise was P-Night, which we celebrated at the Port Essington anchorage on the night before the overnighter to our final destination of Darwin. A tradition of the rally, the rules for P-Night require that everyone wear costumes on a theme starting with the letter 'P'. As you might expect, there were lots of pirates and prostitutes. Andy made for a tolerable physician, while Jill was a plausible patient. Our friend Debby, who had flown in to do the cruise with us, passed herself off as a pussycat. Monkey Bill was, of course, a pirate. He was a very convincing one at that, as he did some serious damage to a very large bottle of rum. The winning entry - not announced until Presentation Night in Darwin - was an Aussie couple dressed as Papermate pens.

Not everyone was impressed. "If all these people have enough extra gear aboard to create all these costumes, then they've got too much stuff!" exclaimed Gary, an Aussie bush pilot taking his new trimaran home to Darwin. Ha! Just give him a few years of cruising.

The final overnight run into Darwin was with pleasantly light wind, and most of the fleet managed to get on the right side of the current caused by Darwin's 25-foot tides. A few days later everyone got together for a casual Presentation Night at one of the sailing clubs, and swapped pictures and stories. For First Light's crew, the icing on the cake came when Jill and Debby won the Saga of the Over The Top contest with their aptly titled entry, a Dreamtime Fantasea.

- andy and jill 10/15/2000

Airing My Dirty Laundry
In Mexico
(Southern California)

I have cruised the Sea of Cortez and the Gold Coast of Mexico for the past four years, and have been to every major city and anchorage along the way at least once. There are many things I have learned from both the locals and other cruisers, and now it's my turn to try to pass along some cruising wisdom. My topic shall be the dirty subject of laundry.

It's the rare cruiser who is fortunate enough to have an onboard washer and/or dryer. In fact, most of us consider ourselves to be lucky if the town we're visiting has a washing machine. I've found that I can always trade for the privilege of using the town's washing machine - because my boat carries a good stock of little items that the locals need. Always stop at the 99-cent store before leaving the States for Mexico, as they've got great stuff for minor trading.

Many of the great anchorages in Mexico are near remote villages - San Evaristo, north of La Paz, is a good example - where there is no electricity to power an electric washing machine. In places such as this, I find my laundry piles up to the point where I'm ultimately forced to become creative in order to get the job done. In such situations, I've found there's nothing like an old-fashioned wringer, as it cuts both the washing and drying time in half. There's nothing more time-consuming and hard on the fingers than doing the 'spin cycle' by hand. Wringers aren't expensive if you buy one used from a local car wash - which uses them to squeeze the water from their rags and towels. A wringer can be clamped to the outboard motor mount for use, then stowed away when done.

Some cruisers tell me that they soak their clothes in soapy saltwater, then drag them in a netted bag for an hour or so behind their boat. To eliminate the salt deposits that would make the clothes stiff, they then resoak the clothes in freshwater with a capful of Downy, and finally hang them from the boom, rigging and lifelines to dry when they get to the next anchorage. You could wash the clothes in this manner while on the hook, but soaping up the anchorage doesn't make one's neighbors in the anchorage very happy.

The common and preferred method of washing dirty laundry is at one of the lavanderias found in the larger cities. Almost all of these self-service laundromats have women who will clean, fold and bag your clothes the day after they are dropped off - or even the same day. Unfortunately, the only place where I've had a good experience with this - meaning I got everything back in good condition and at a reasonable price - was at Puerto Escondido.

Without mentioning specific places, many of the laundromats I've used have either lost my clothes or replaced some of them with someone else's items. You can sometimes prevent this from happening by including a detailed list of what you are dropping off. When you pick your laundry up, you then have to go through it item by item to make sure the items match the list. Yes, it's a hassle, but many cruisers tell me it's the only way they've been able to prevent losing stuff. Nonetheless, many of us still don't count the clothes when we pick them up. We just take them back to our boat and stuff them in a drawer. A week or so later we start to wonder what happened to our favorite shirt or our best pair of jeans.

Most marinas from San Carlos to Acapulco work with a laundry service. If not, one can be located through the local cruisers' net. It's always best to ask the locals for recommended lavandrias and what kind of prices to expect.

Cruisers also have the option of washing their own clothes at lavanderias. But you must be there during the process if you wish to secure a dryer. Or to make sure your machine gets turned back on if the power or water goes off. And it happens. If you're not there when something malfunctions - as has been the case with me several times - you end up paying twice.

As much as I like to avoid saying negative stuff, I think there is one lavanderia that should be avoided - Rosalita's Lavanderia in Paradise Village just north of Puerto Vallarta. The accompanying photograph should give some idea of the confusion the poor woman who operates the place has to deal with each day. I'm sure she does her best to keep everything straight, but she's obviously overwhelmed. During the two weeks I was in the area, I spoke with no less than eight cruising couples who had experienced problems of missing clothes or getting the wrong clothes. When one cruiser asked what would be done to rectify the situation, the woman just shrugged as though it wasn't her problem. Paradise Village oversees the woman's enterprise, yet complaints to the management have gone unanswered. This is something of a surprise, as Paradise Resort and Marina has the most modern facility I've seen in Mexico, it's located in a very modern shopping center, and the resort has an otherwise excellent reputation. Perhaps the woman will get some help this season, because she sure needs it!

The price of getting laundry done varies in Mexico. Even though there's not much water in Santa Rosalia on Baja, you can get a load washed for as little as $1 U.S. However, there is no dryer. In upscale Puerto Vallarta, where water is plentiful, it's as expensive as $5 a load. Depending on where you are, the laundry women might charge by the kilo or by the load. Rarely is there an estimate about the cost, you're just presented with a bill when it's time to pick it up. The service usually includes detergent, but you can provide your own. Separating whites from colors is a waste of time as everything is washed together in a warm/cold cycle. Bleach is used if you provide it, but remember to separate each load with a note in Spanish pinned to the outside of the laundry bag.

The best solution to the laundry problem is to avoid it as much as you can. In other words, cruise naked when the climate and your inhibitions don't prevent it. If you're going to do your own laundry onboard, pick wash 'n wear fabrics or clothing made of rayon. These wash and dry in less time. If you're going to do your own laundry, try to share the cost of a cab getting to the lavanderia, then bring a book and sit it out. Hiring a professional to do it is another option, but one that requires diligence and supervision - if you ever want to see your clothes again. But if you're like me and prefer to be self-sufficient, there is no excuse for not having a wringer and doing it while underway.

No matter what you do, remember to bring plastic clothes pins with aluminum springs from the States or buy them in big cities. Avoid wooden pins because they have steel springs that leave rust marks on light-colored fabrics.

If anybody has better solutions, I'd love to hear about them.

- anonymous 8/15/2000

Cking Truth - Sun Yachts 50
The Glenny Family Of Seven
Family Charter/Cruise
(Las Vegas, Nevada)

I, Janet, found my favorite T-shirt at a dive shop at Soper's Hole, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. On the back is a picture of a diver underwater, and the caption reads, "You could run out of air and die; You could get eaten by a shark and die; You could fall off the couch and die." The type on the front pocket reads, "Get off the couch, dive Tortola!"

Our Las Vegas-based Glenny family consists of Clint, a non-denominational minister who pastors a local church and travels extensively in Asia doing missionary work; Janet, who has taught elementary school and is an ambulance EMT; Rachael (18), Joel (16), Colin (14), Alicia (11) and Abigail (8).

When we told people that we were going to charter a 50-foot sailboat in the Caribbean for a year's cruise, we got a mixture of reactions. Some were awed by the idea, while others conjured up vivid images of mutiny and other troubles. During the first several weeks of our adventure, I thought the latter was the most accurate perspective - but I still wasn't willing to bail back to Vegas so soon. I took a quick personal inventory: I got stressed over one thing or another every day at our large house on a big lot in the desert - where it was often 115°, we were surrounded by more than a million people, and the 'light pollution' makes it impossible to see the stars. I concluded that I'd rather be stressed on a sailboat in the Caribbean, where it's always a comfortable 82°, there is tons of fresh air, there are no boundaries, and the stars shine like diamonds. So we kept cruising.

Our original vision was idealistic. We wanted to make memories, bond, establish family unity, get away from the rat race, experience new cultures together, and to appreciate all our blessings. In preparation, my husband and I bareboated for six years in the Caribbean to hone our sailing skills and scope out the area. None of our kids had sailing experience beyond Hobie Cats and a couple of daysails on small sloops. Our family did, however, have a long history of camping, backpacking and various recreational activities. So we had some survival skills. After putting the three oldest kids through scuba certification, off we went.

We ended up arranging a seven-month charter with Sun Yachts, a company that we'd worked with before. They'd never done such a long charter, but offered a discount that pleased us. Before the start of our charter, they hauled the boat and made sure everything was in good shape. Since then they have responded to all our needs. It's been a wonderful convenience that they have bases all up and down the Caribbean chain with maintenance crews ready to fix any problem.

Our two oldest boys - 16 and 14 - quickly learned how to manage the sails, navigate, anchor, operate onboard equipment, and deal with the tender. The youngest girls - 11 and 8 - were instructed in basic safety at sea, such as staying in the cockpit with lifejackets on while underway, staying away from the winches and lines, and how to use the head so it doesn't get blocked - a very important thing! Our oldest daughter, 18, was given lots of space to adapt, as she had to leave her vibrant social life behind and would be subjected to younger siblings 24/7.

None of us has had any problems with seasickness other than a few bouts of queasiness on long, rough passages, which can be expected of even the most seasoned sailors. But we have gotten great satisfaction through sharing many 'firsts' with our kids. Seeing our son's eyes bulge when he saw his first barracuda was fantastic, for instance. Or the shouts of triumph when the trolling rod bent and the reels screamed. Then everyone contributing to landing the fish, gutting and filleting, and finally the delight of grilling and eating the fresh fish.

And every day has yielded a wealth of new experiences too great to mention. I registered the kids for home schooling before we left, and brought along all the materials we needed. About three hours each morning covers all the subjects - not including the tremendous knowledge gained through all the extracurricular activities. All of us have read more books in these months than the last several years at home. I read aloud after dinner each night. While anchored off Norman Island in the British Virgins, it seemed fitting to read Stevenson's Treasure Island, as that is said to be the setting for the story. A 12-volt television with a built-in VCR and a Sony Playstation proved to be valuable when a change of pace was needed. Other very important items have been the boys' boogie boards for trips to the windward side of the islands where there is surf, and for riding behind the dinghy when in bays. The little girls brought a few toys, lots of coloring books and similar materials. My husband, oldest daughter, and I all brought our laptops for various projects.

When quarters get a little too close, we make an easy adjustment by sending the kids off in the dinghy. Or, my husband and I take off to explore the waterfront shops, restaurants, nightlife, or just have a quiet time on the beach. We also have the option of locking ourselves in our cabins. Getting up early has also yielded some great personal time and space.

Back home, we'd always be consistent about eating our meals together, but life onboard involves constant menu planning. It took a lot of organization to stock the proper dry provisions and still be able to add in the fresh and frozen foods. It's not cheap feeding our large family here in the islands because food is quite expensive. Even when we buy just the minimal groceries, the bill comes to about $800 a month. With occasional treats, it's more like $1,000 a month. We rarely dine out, ordering the occasional pizza. The fact that we brought lots of pancake mix, oats, flour, sugar, rice, beans, dried veggies, pasta and sauce mixes has really helped with our food budget. It's great when we catch a fish for dinner, but it's not realistic to expect to be able to do it every night.

With about four months left in our adventure, we can honestly say that it's gotten better almost every day. As we've gone along, we've gotten a better idea of the family priorities. Right now, for example, we are purchasing a small dive compressor because it will soon pay for itself by our not having to pay $7 to $10 to get a tank filled.

As for clothes and shoes, most of them can be left at home. Our normal outfits consist of cotton or nylon swimsuits or board shorts, plus tank tops. Nobody wears tops on the French Islands, so we saved on storage space when there. Back home we did laundry every day, but down here - where you don't wear many clothes - we only do it every two to three weeks. Most ports have laundry services that wash, dry, and fold your clothes for you - at about $8 to $10 a load. We save a lot of money by hand-washing our clothes and hanging them out to dry.

Our itinerary has been dictated by the weather patterns. First, we headed south because it was hurricane season, and on the way back we hit the spots that have become our favorites. New Years at Foxy's on Jost van Dyke is a must!

Our advice? Do a trip like this with your family while you can, as everything else will still be there when you get home. If you wait until the kids are grown, you'll miss the great times and be too old to enjoy such an experience. Finances are always a concern, so why not rack up the costs doing something that will give you a lifetime of joy!

- the glenny family 9/15/2000

Grimsby - Cal 39
Greg & Val Gillen
Tug-Of-War In Colon, Panama
(Los Altos)

Our Changes might seem out of date, as we finished our 10 years of cruising when we sailed back beneath the Gate 2.5 years ago. But we couldn't write about a cautionary good news/bad news tale from Colon, Panama, until the statute of limitations had run out on my mother's worrying.

Before I get to the tale, here's a fast update on our travels. We started by taking nine years to sail from San Francisco to Maine via the Panama Canal. We then left Annapolis at the end of hurricane season in '96, and sailed back to California in nine months. We had an excellent trip coming home, stopping at all of our favorite places - and a few new ones along the way. Our old favorites included Isla Providencia, off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua; Portobello, Chichime, and Isla Parida in Panama; Bahia Drake, Manuel Antonio, and Bahia Ballena in Costa Rica; and Zihuatanejo and Tenecatita Bay in Mexico. Our new favorites became Isla Mujeres near Cancun, and Bahia Santa Maria and Turtle Bay on the Pacific Coast of Baja.

We still have Grimsby, and we still think San Francisco Bay is one of the greatest places in the world to sail - although it's a little cold! We spent a couple of weeks in the Delta last fall and did the same this fall. It still has its unique charm. Last fall we introduced some new cruisers anchored in Potato Slough to the concept of the dinghy raft-up for cocktails, and we can tell they will carry the tradition south with them.

Anyway, here's our Colon story. We were preparing for our Caribbean to Pacific transit with friends who had flown down to line-handle for us: Ray and Marianne Lokay from the Eastern Shore in Maryland, and Tom Freed, a fellow sailor from Los Altos. While two of the group had gone to find tires to use for fenders - a great idea - the three others went to provision in Colon.

I led the provisioning team of Ray, who speaks excellent Spanish, Marianne, and myself, Val. We had hired a cab to take us to the open-air market, which sometimes has better produce than the El Rey supermarket. When we got out of the cab, my wallet was in a small fanny pack which I was holding close to my body - although the strap was dangling down. I was examining the produce when I felt a sharp jerk on the fanny pack strap. My instinct - probably not the safest in the world - was to hold on, which I did. So the thief and I had a tug-of-war over the fanny pack. In the blur of the action, I could see both of his hands on the strap, so I knew he couldn't use a knife or other weapon. There were lots of people around shopping, and my friends were just a step behind me.

Ray, my Spanish-speaking friend, tackled the thief. As the thief released his grip on the strap, our tug-of-war ended, and I fell down in the opposite direction. While Ray and the thief were on the ground, another man jumped out of the crowd to appear to help Ray subdue the thief - when a gun fell out of his pocket! As I yelled to Ray about the gun, the owner was telling Ray not to worry because he was an undercover policemen - albeit one who was careless with his weapon.

As we got back on our feet, uniformed police arrived and took control of the thief. The locals in the crowd were very concerned that I might have been hurt, which I wasn't, except for scraped knees and elbows. The undercover cop then asked us to press charges, explaining that they were trying to make the open-air market a safer place and that convictions would help set an example. So an hour later we were all in front of a magistrate. Justice was swift that day in Colon, as the thief was sentenced to a year in jail.

When we finished our shopping at the El Rey later that afternoon, several local people who had been in the market recognized us and thanked us for pressing charges. So the good news is that efforts are being made to make the situation safer in Colon. The moral of the story is to do not what I did, but what I usually did - kept my money in my shoe or in a little pocket that tied around my waist and slipped inside my shorts or skirt. But I'd been in a hurry that day to move our expedition on to the El Rey, which is safe inside, so I'd let my guard down.

So that's our news. It was great to be gone for 10 years, and it's great to be home again. One of the nice things about being home is that we see a lot of our old cruising friends, either at their homes or when they visit the Bay Area. The cliche is absolutely true, as the best part of cruising is the people that you meet.

- val 8/15/2000

Greg & Val - Craig Ownings, long time commodore of the Pedro Miguel Boat Club, had this to say: "Colon has been a relatively dangerous place since the end of the Panama Canal Zone in 1979, which brought on the rampant unemployment that continues today. It has led to larceny and strong arm robbery. Most yachties don't help, as they might as well be wearing signs around their necks that say, 'Rob me!' There is now a cruise ship port facility in Colon, so it will be interesting to see if there is any improvement in security. But frankly, I don't have much hope."

Rhapsodie - Marquesas 56 Cat
Sam & Caren Edwards & Kids
Vanuatu And New Caledonia
(Portola Valley)

We're anchored in lovely Moselle Bay, which is off Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia. Our daughter Rachael is off to the beach with friends, Dana and Caren are shopping in town, and Mike is working on the genset's starter motor. The harbor is jammed with sailboats from all over the world, who are here - as are we - for the 8th quadrennial Festival Des Arts du Pacifique. Delegations from 27 countries are assembling for the opening ceremonies tomorrow evening, followed by 10 days of dancing, singing, arts and crafts, and lots of partying. The countries include all the big names such as Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa, but also smaller ones such as the Solomons, Kiribati, Niue, Pitcairn, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Tokelau, and Nauru to name just a few.

We've only been at New Caledonia for a week, but on the surface it seems to combine the best of France and the South Pacific. The beaches are powdery white, the weather is warm but not hot, the language French, and the people are extremely friendly. Noumea is a big city - for the South Pacific - of over 200,000. It can boast of fine restaurants and cafes, luxury shopping, and a terrific market that is cleaner, cheaper, and more friendly than the one in Papeete. There's also enough local Kanak color to make it exotic.

The French deserve a lot of credit for the cleanliness, efficiency, and beauty of the capital city. They deserve a lot less credit for the way they have treated the Kanaks - especially over the past 50 years. They have managed to take all the good land and total political control, sabotaging the Kanak's efforts at independence. Remember the Rainbow Warrior incident of 1985, when the French Secret Service bombed and sunk the Greenpeace flagship in Auckland? The same Secret Service elements are believed to have been responsible for similar attacks in New Caledonia, including the 1985 assassinations of several Kanak politicians. France is determined to keep New Caledonia for its mineral riches - it ranks third in world nickel production - and it's highly unlikely that the French government will ever allow true self-determination for the Kanak people.

Before we got to New Caledonia, we spent about a month in Vanuatu. The islands were discovered by Captain Cook in 1774, who named them the New Hebrides after the Scottish Islands. Vanuatu has to be the most interesting country we have visited thus far. Port Vila, the modern capital city, contrasts sharply with unchanging, traditional villages on the adjacent islands. Vanuatu has more than 80 islands divided into three groups, two of which we were able to visit. The islands form part of a chain of volcanic activity stretching from New Zealand up through Vanuatu and the Solomons to the islands off New Guinea. We climbed two active volcanoes during our visit: Mt. Vetlam, on the island of Ambrym, and Mt. Yasur, on Tanna Island. The former was a difficult nine-hour round-trip trek, starting in a tropical forest, then along a sinuous lava flow from 1913 that is bordered by palms and huge tree ferns, and finally over and around the boulders in a dry creekbed. At the summit, we stood on the lip of the crater, with sulfur smoke swirling past and a lake of boiling lava just below us. We were the last party to climb Mt. Vetlam this year, since the locals believe that the yam gods get mad if anyone climbs their sacred mountain after October 1.

Ascending Mt. Yasur was much easier. A Toyota Land-Cruiser drove us across big black dunes of volcanic ash to within 100 yards of the summit. Once on top, we listened to the 'heavy breathing' of the volcano, punctuated irregularly by loud explosions which hurled huge lava boulders high into the air! The Cargo cultists of Tanna Island believe that Jon Frum - as in 'John from America'- lives beneath the fires of Yasur, where he commands an army of 5,000 souls. These followers believe that ships like the World War II ones that came to the New Hebrides in 1942 will return laden with cargo, escorted by Jon Frum. The movement declares that money must be thrown away, pigs killed, and gardens left uncared for, since all material wealth will be provided in the end by Jon Frum. In the Jon Frum village we visited, the children are not even sent to school. The members of another village, Yaohnanen, believe that Prince Phillip, who visited in 1974, will return to rule over them.

At Epi Island we anchored in Lamen Bay, which is famous for its turtles and its dugong. The turtles - and there are dozens of them - are so tame that you can grab on to the back of their shells and get pulled through the water. The dugong - which looks like a manatee with a fish tail - spends its time grazing off the grasses on the bottom of the bay. The one we saw didn't seem to mind us swimming down to stare at him or stroke his sides.

We also had the opportunity to visit a traditional village on Tanna. The women wore grass skirts and nothing else. The men only wear nambas, which are penis sheaths. National Geographic, eat your heart out. I was served kava, traditionally prepared by young women chewing and spitting out the roots of the kava plant. After one cupful, I was stoned for the afternoon. Vanuatu makes the strongest kava in the South Pacific. Caren, my wife, wasn't allowed any - taboo.

None of us caught malaria, although some of the other yachties did. On the culinary front, I had a delicious meal at a French restaurant in Port Vila - flying fox prepared in red wine. The little critter, with beady eyes and tiny ears, looked so pitiful that it spoiled Caren's meal of fresh water prawns.

Before New Caledonia and Vanuatu, we were in Fiji for about 10 months. Yet we only saw a small part of it. We were in Fiji for the coup d'etat and for the hurricane season - and loved having it to ourselves. We liked Fiji so much that we're thinking of buying land and building a little winter vacation retreat there. Unfortunately, we haven't found the perfect spot yet.

Our kids, Dana and Rachael, are thriving. Mike, our crew, is still with us. In fact, we celebrate his 35th birthday today with roast lamb and potatoes, carrots, beans, pumpkin, onions, cream of tomato soup, and homemade chocolate cake! Mika, a schoolteacher from Australia, joined us in Vanuatu. Now the kids work twice as hard on schooling and enjoy it twice as much.

We will be in New Caledonia another two weeks or so, then off to New Zealand for the hurricane season. The journey continues.

- sam 10/15/2000

Sundancer - Catalina 42
Bob & Tori Dorman
Bad Breeze Near Guaymas

We left San Carlos to spend four or five days exploring the coves within 15 miles of Guaymas, and then planned to head across the Sea of Cortez to Santa Rosalia. After a stop at Bahia Lalo, we ventured another 10 miles to Bahia San Pedro, one of the nicest anchorages in the area. The crescent-shaped anchorage is surrounded by a pebble beach and protected to the north by a 520-foot rocky peak. But as we would soon learn, it provided false security. After a day of travel, snorkeling and a nice meal, we were treated to a spectacular heat lightning show over the desert. The bolts were about one second apart, and kept the sky as bright as daylight for nearly three hours!

We stern anchored the boat on Friday afternoon to limit the roll caused by the swell wrapping around the north entrance. Then shortly after dark, we were sitting in the cockpit watching a weather system develop out in the Sea when I suddenly recalled a bit of recent advise from Morris of SOCI. He said they'd been in the same situation when they were suddenly hit by a 60-knot chubasco, which unfortunately put their boat on the beach. So I quickly cleaned up the deck and dinghy just in case. It was a good thing, too, because within 10 minutes it was blowing over 30 knots.

Still hanging to a mere 22-lb Danforth stern anchor, we watched as the wind built to a steady 45 knots with higher gusts. By now it was too late to dump the stern anchor, so we did our best to keep the dodger and bimini attached to the boat. When the rain came, it dumped about an inch every 30 minutes - most of it horizontal. The wind blew water through the companionway of our 42-footer all the way forward to the head! Osprey, Themroc and Kuilima - our companions in the anchorage, held on the best they could. Osprey eventually dragged about 300 yards, but stayed clear of all obstructions and came out all right. We were pleasantly surprised that our little Danforth stern anchor - with just 10-feet of chain and 100-feet of line - held fast through the entire blow.

On Saturday, we survivors of the anchorage all commented how lucky we'd been that the storm had come off the beach, and therefore there hadn't been much fetch. Had it come from the south, we'd have caught hell. Unfortunately, Mother Nature seemed to be listening in and resented our comments. So about 11 p.m. that night, we got a 25-knot southerly with higher gusts! Before long, there were four foot seas with breaking tops pouring unimpeded into the anchorage and right at us. This storm, unlike the relatively short chubasco, lasted until morning, stopped for two hours, then blew for another eight hours.

I stayed up in the cockpit all night steering the boat through the wild conditions. Our dinghy was on a short painter and kept riding on the back of waves and would then slingshot back to the boat. A few times it ended up under the stern of the boat, and finally it got landed on so hard that a hole was punched in the tube. I put on my PFD and harness so I could hang over the swim-step to try to recover the contents and save the outboard. It was a battle, but I recovered everything but our sandals.

During the morning lull, we got the dinghy and motor back aboard, raised the stern anchor, and prepared to run. The wind was already back to 25 knots plus when we tried to raise the primary anchor, a 35-lb CQR. When I pulled it up short, it stuck and pulled the chain off the gypsy, bending the bow roller! The anchor broke free on the next try, but came aboard looking like a pretzel at the end of an anchor shank. Evidently, our great holding power - we'd been hanging on this bow anchor during this latest blow - was due to having hooked a large rock, which held even though it twisted the anchor to destruction. Better it than our boat.

Our trip back to Marina San Carlos and safety was slow because we couldn't motor at more than two or three knots into the 30+ knots of wind and eight-foot square seas. I've sailed Northern and Southern California for 30 years, but I have to say these were the worst conditions I've ever been in. Fortunately, the wind died at the marina entrance, and thanks to the help of fellow Ha-Ha '99 participants Neener3 and Akahuelo, we made a smooth landing. They immediately supplied strong margaritas all around, at which time the marina was hit by a 25-knot squall with rain and lightning.

Our Catalina 42 performed flawlessly throughout both blows and the pounding trip back to the marina, and we were never in personal danger. It was uncomfortable, however. We hope to leave for Santa Rosalia at the end of the week.

- bob & tori 11/10/2000

Cruise Notes:

"This is a plea to help Don and Sally Branch of the Westsail 43 Dharma, who are fellow cruisers and good friends," write Ted and Shari Alcorn of Mystique, a Stockton-based Alden Offshore 50 currently in La Paz. "We received an email from Sally this morning saying that she and Don were in New Zealand because Don had fallen seriously ill while in Tonga. Tests conducted in New Zealand indicate that Don is suffering from advanced lung cancer, with complications of the spleen, and a brain tumor. He recently lost most of his sight, and has been told that he only has a few months to live. Don and Sally have settled into a small apartment while he begins treatment to help ease the pain and suffering they will both go through in the coming months. Sally told us that they plan to have Dharma delivered to New Zealand to be sold in order to help with the expenses. Anybody who has had the pleasure of knowing Don and Sal were always left with the feeling that they had truly touched your hearts with their knowledge, friendship and love. Now they need help. A gift of $20 - equal to $50 Kiwi - can be sent to them at 40 Inverness Rd., Brown's Bay, Auckland, New Zealand. The donations will help offset the current cost of treatment and let them stay where they can receive help. Thank you."

'Derrick' of the Seattle Westsail Association reports that he is rallying Westsail owners to contribute funds to the Branches. He can be reached at (206) 443-1480. He also had a friend at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron who is going to try and help in Auckland. Don and Sally were featured in a July 2000 Changes and had their photo in the August 2000 issue.

In the middle of October, Malcolm and Jackie Holt of the Victoria-based Aeolus organized a southbounders party at Marina Paradise in Puerto Vallarta for boats headed south. Here's a list of the boats, crew, hailing ports and destinations:

Heather K, Ed & Norma Hasselmann, San Diego, the Rio Dulce; Starshine, Don & Ann Becker, Newport Beach, the Chesapeake; Ragtime, Don & Patricia Lewis, Boston, the Caribbean; Aeoleus, Malcolm & Jackie Holt, Victoria, circumnavigation; Karina D., Dale Murphy & Kathleen Murphy, Calgary, Panama and east; Joss, Barry & Kathy Devine, Portland, the Caribbean; Amazing Grace, Bob Lundstrom & Judy Glossman, Phoenix, Panama Canal; Ariadne, Jim & Joanne Matthews, San Diego, Panama and east; Serendipity, Barritt and Renée, San Diego, East Coast via Panama Canal; Whisper, Philip & Adrianne, Seattle, Trinidad; We Three, Dwight & Fran Fisher, Anderson Island, Caribbean; Ornen, Werner Jensen & Virginia Dvorak, Wilmington, the Caribbean; Lady Tamora, Ernie & Barb Taylor, Victoria, Panama; Brave Skye, John Froshaug, Lorigmont, Colorado, East Coast; Miss Kris, Chuck & Kris Robinson, Juneau, East Coast; Baracuda, Dale & Kris Robinson, Seattle, the Caribbean; About Time, Eric & Corrinn Bates, Ft. Launderdale, the Caribbean; Mystic Spirit, David Hernley, Anacortes, the Caribbean. We hope everyone has a safe trip to wherever their dreams lead them."

"I'm in La Paz with Jake Rice - Cascabel on the radio - who is the new Commodore of the Club Cruceros, "reports Tim 'Padre Timo' Tunks of the Islander 37 Scallywag. "Jake has announced that the 2001 dates for the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week will be April 27 through May 5, which means that Loreto Fest will be on May 19 & 20th. Carolyn Arnold - formerly Scott, she recently married - retired as commodore in order to move to Washington state with her new husband. As vice commodore, Jake moved up to commodore - and it's the second time that it's happened to the poor guy. When Jesse Hinton of Topaz quit in '98, Jake was pressed into service. The dock talk is that Jake hasn't learned his lesson and is 'the great white hope' to be commodore again next year - and restore Sailing Week to its former glory. He has my best wishes and those of most old time cruisers. If anyone knows how to contact Carolyn, please tell her the Club Cruceros is still looking for its books and records that she forgot to return prior to returning to martial bliss and life ashore. Carolyn also felt that she owned the rights to the website that she put together for the club, so she took that with her as well. In her letter of resignation, she cited "vast differences in philosophy and goals, disrespect towards me, and negative behavior by certain members of the Board . . ." as her reasons for taking the paddles with her when she bailed. We long time cruisers look at this as just another episode of the As the Anchor Drags soap opera. There have always been solid people doing volunteer work for the club, and from time to time someone comes by who wants to redo everything in their own image. When it doesn't work out, they leave in a huff, laying all the blame on the others. Nonetheless, life and the charity work go on. Look for the website to be up again soon."

"In the October Changes, Joe Larive of the Hunter 40 La Rive asked about marinas or other places to change crews in the Belize-Cancun-Cozumel-Rio Dulce area," Ted Buehler of the Chula Vista-based Peterson 44 Dos Equis reminds us. "There are a number of good places, although some have draft restrictions. Our Peterson draws seven feet, and Mario's Marina at Frontera on the Rio Dulce turned out to be the best place for us. It's a good place to leave a boat for long periods of time, and although it's a long ride, it's possible to take a bus to the airport in Guatemala City. In fact, Mario's often runs a shuttle."

"Greetings again from Golondria in the Rio Dulce of Guatemala," writes Dennis Russell of Seattle. "Several months ago I sent a letter regarding a cruiser's homicide here on the river. I don't know how the error occurred, but apparently it was reported that the incident took place at Mango's Marina. This was not the case, and I'm worried it will reflect poorly on that marina. The murder took place on a boat that was anchored by itself upriver from Mango's and downriver from Mario's Marina. Although the distance is not far, the boat was out of sight and sound of both marinas when the murder took place. Neither Mango's or Mario's was involved in any manner. In fact, both these marinas - plus all the others on the Rio Dulce - have been doing a great job of providing safety and security for cruisers. Mario's, for example, provides waterborne security at night. It's primarily for the boats in their marina, but as a courtesy they also check on boats anchored nearby. We are comfortable leaving our boat in the marina for inland trips, and recommend most of Guatemala as being a really great place to visit. Just like everywhere, there have been a few problems on the Rio Dulce, but most of all the major ones have affected cruisers who have chosen to park their boats in relatively out-of-the-way places. This is unfortunate, because there are so many isolated places that are inviting, but maybe things will be different this season."

"What a treat to come across the names Ernie and Pauline Copp of the Long Beach-based Cheoy Lee 50 Orient Star while reading the Ha-Ha profiles from the November issue," write John and Debby Dye of Lovely Reta. "We first met Pauline in 1982 - 18 years ago - while taking our ham exams at the F.C.C. office in Long Beach prior to heading out to Mexico. What a classy lady! Since we both passed our tests, we communicated by ham throughout Mexico and our passages to the Marquesas. When we arrived after a 27-day passage on our 29-foot sloop, Ernie and Pauline were there to show us the way in. And even before we had the anchor down they'd come over to invite us for cold drinks and poo-poos. That was the first - and nearly the last - time we had ice for our drinks in the South Pacific, and it's a reception we still talk about. One of our favorite Copp stories is the time Ernie caught a big fish - and while filleting it discovered a whole smaller fish inside! They had two fish for dinner that night. We're delighted and jealous to see that Ernie and Pauline are heading out again, and know they will be a great addition to the Ha-Ha. We're in the process of getting our Islander 40 Lovely Reta ready for a cruise in the next few years, so we hope that Ernie and Pauline will keep in touch as they continue south."

We had a wonderful conversation with Ernie and Pauline on the beach at Turtle Bay. We'd never met them before, but thanks to Ernie's many clear and intelligent letters, we felt as though we already knew them. Now in his mid-70s, Ernie explained that he and Pauline - they are doublehanding - would be dropping out of the Ha-Ha at Turtle Bay to enjoy a slower cruising pace. But we did make plans to meet up again in Puerto Vallarta.

There was a report in the November Changes from John and Karen O'Connor of the Pier 39-based Windsong on Marina Carenero in the Bocas del Toro, Panama," writes Thomas Caufield of the Cascade 42 Kuani. "I'd like to add my own comments. We left Kuani in the marina there for two months in '98 so we could return to the U.S., and then left her there again for four months in '99. We chose Marina Carenero over Colon and the Pedro Miguel Boat Club in Panama, and over Cartagena, Columbia, on the basis of safety and economy. We did not consider Columbia's San Andreas Island a good place to leave a boat as the harbor lacks protection in heavy weather and we're not certain about the security. Anyway, we're happy to hear that Mack and Mary Robertson are doing fine, as we were very pleased with the way they took care of Kuani, regularly airing her out, running the engine, and even oiling the woodwork below. The Bocas del Toro - which means "mouth of the bull" - is actually on a large island. Like the rest of Panama and Columbia, it's southwest of the hurricane track. The cruising around Bahia Almirante and Laguna de Chiriqui is reportedly terrific. Fuel and adequate provisioning are available in Bocas, but marine supplies and services are very limited. Marina Carenero has water and power for each slip, there are shower and laundry facilities at the pier, and it's all isolated from the sometimes rowdy town of Bocas. A second marina - the Bocas YC - is still under construction and doesn't yet have power or water. It's also near the noisy diesel power plant. There is regular air service from Bocas to Panama City and to San Jose, Costa Rica. Since Mack and Mary took such good care of us, we're happy to recommend Marina Carenero to anyone needing to leave their boat in Panama."

We also got a a nice letter from Mack Robertson of Marina Carenero, pointing out a few errors - some of them caused by Latitude - in the November report: "Marina Carenero has been in operation for over three years. We have 26 slips, but contrary to the November Changes, do not have any room to store boats on the hard. In addition, anybody looking at a map or chart can see that we are located 140 miles to the west of the Caribbean entrance of the Canal. Contrary to popular opinion, Panama runs east to west rather than north to south. We will confirm slip reservations upon the receipt of a deposit no more than 90 days in advance of arrival. Mariners can always just show up and take a chance that there will be an open slip for them, but most prefer to know they have one waiting. Taking a deposit protects both parties. We do have an excellent - and mandatory - yacht maintenance program for those who leave their vessels. We have also just opened a beautiful restaurant, and many say we have the best food in the Bocas. We also rent cabins. By the way, Carenero means 'careening', and we are located on Cayo Carenero - 'Careening Cay' - 200 yards across from the town of Bocas. The island was named by Columbus, who careened his caravels here in 1502 on his last voyage of discovery."

Funny coincidence: Mac and Mary Shroyer developed one of the first marinas in Mexico, and Mack and Mary Robertson are developing what we believe will be one of the first of several marinas in Panama.

A last word on Marina Careno from Mike and Sue Ulrich of the Leucadia-based Vagabond 47 Alsvid: "We just returned from a boat maintenance trip to Marina Carenero. We love Bocas and want Latitude readers to know what a thriving place it is for cruisers. We have been at Marina Carenero since April 2000. The Bocas YC and Marina has just completed construction of new floating docks for 65 large boats and 35 smaller ones. At this time there is no power or electricity, but there will be soon. On a brief stop over in Panama City on the way home, we had a beer at the new Balboa YC restaurant and swimming pool. It's not much, but the pool is great and the beer is on tap. We also visited the construction site for the new Flamingo Island Marina. We're not sure about the opening date for that, but they already have the big new Travelift on site and the breakwaters are complete. Panama is changing!"

Since we're down Panama way, we should report that the Canal Record has this to say about the Balboa YC clubhouse that burned to the ground in February of '99: "There are future plans to build a club on the old site to house facilities for yachties - including a first class bar-restaurant. In the more distant future, the Junta Directiva, a Panamanian company, would like to create the largest marina in Panama on the site. They'd spend $3 million to build a breakwater and a 205-slip marina capable of handling up to 100-foot vessels." Incidentally, the Balboa YC dates back to 1918 when it was the Navy Officer's Club and later the American Legion. There's also quite a bit of talk about a big marina and boatyard planned for the Caribbean side of the Canal, but nothing definite yet.

"We're very happy to be back in the U.S.A. after our 7,000-mile trip back home from Hong Kong," report Jim and Diana Jessie of the Alameda-based Lapworth 48 Nalu IV. "From April to June we sailed the 2,700 miles from Hong Kong to Japan to Russia to Japan. From July to August we sailed 3,300 miles from Japan to Adak, to Dutch Harbor, to Kodiak, to Sitka. In September, we sailed 1,000 miles from Sitka to Bainbridge Island, Washington, where we are now. In all, we covered 28,200 miles since leaving in 1995." What the Jessies neglect to mention is that prior to '95 they did a seven-year circumnavigation and spent three years back in the Bay Area before heading to the Far East. "We'll stay where we are until mid-March, then head back up to British Columbia for the summer. After that, who knows? But we may have to return to Mexico to get warm again. In any event, we're looking forward to resting, cleaning, replacing and repairing. We'll also be online a lot more, so our old friends are welcome to contact us by ."

"The greatest thing to happen to Zihuatanejo since Rick's Bar?" This is the rhetorical question posed by Craig and Rosalba Gottschalk, and children Stefanie (11), Andrea (10) and Natalia (8) of the Cross 34 trimaran Scorpion. "Undoubtedly, it's the the new Comercial Mexicana, located only 15 minutes by foot from the sewage spewing canal at the east end of Playa Principal. Comercial Mexicana's massive air conditioners and fully-stocked aisles finally make shopping a pleasure - instead of just another colorful but odiferous cultural experience as had been the case at the mercado. Actually, the old mercado is not so bad now that the crowds have thinned out. Speaking of Rick, he's on the prowl for a new location as his greedy landlord didn't share his vision of cheap beer and unbridled fun. Those of us who live here year 'round are enjoying the calm before the storm - the storm of tourists, that is. As semi-retired cruisers with our trimaran safely tucked away in Mission Bay, the travelers we love to meet are those who arrive on their own bottoms. From the bayside terrace of our humble home, nestled among trees and bushes above Playa La Madera, we scan the open sea anxiously awaiting the billowing sails - or at least sunshade and sail cover - of the first cruisers of the season."

"We've been cruising the coast of Mexico for the last eight years," report George and Beverly Mason of the Long Beach-based Catalina 30 Sea Lark. "This year we are headed south again to spend a couple of months in Z-town, then head back up to our favorite spots from Manzanillo to Vallarta." Based on what we heard during the Ha-Ha, a number of other boats plan to be in Z-town for the Christmas holidays.

"We built our 35-ft Woods catamaran in Saskachewan, then trucked her - 19.5 beam - to Washington," report Xen and Shelaine Zambas of the Sidney, B.C.-based Inetora. "We then worked in B.C. for two years, sailed down to Puerto Vallarta in the fall of '99, then raced in the MEXORC and Banderas Bay Regattas. We left the boat in P.V. to return to B.C. so I could work as the skipper and mate on an 80-foot powerboat, which we're now deliverying down to P.V. We'll be jumping back aboard Inetora - the name means 'now is the time' - at the end of November to cruise to Manzanillo and then back to P.V. for the Banderas Bay Regatta. We'll then provision for the Puddle Jump to the Marquesas, and next winter I'll take a job as a production manager for a boatbulder in New Zealand. So far we've had a fantastic time cruising our little cat and love her - but I'd love to build another cat to try out some new ideas."

"We left Australia in '95 and arrived in Mexico via Japan, Alaska, and the West Coast of the United States," reports Rich Malone and Sam Howie of Ripple II, a Bruce Roberts 37. The boat hails from Sydney, Australia, but is currently in Isla Margarita, Venezuela. "After a four year stop at Banderas Bay," they continue, "we moved south to the Galapagos, then eastbound to Panama, through the Canal on to the San Blas and Cartagena. After taking a deep breath, we plunged into the bash to Aruba. In our case, the trips nasty reputation was worse than its reality. But we did become the first boat to have her dinghy stolen at Isla Aves. We have just one more windward bash left to get to Tobago, at which point we'll be able to beam reach up the island chain of the Eastern Caribbean. Old friends are invited to contact us by ."

If you're new to Mexico, we're going to remind you of the three biggest events and dates of 2001: Banderas Bay Regatta, March 22-25, at Marina Paradise. Sea of Cortez Sailing Week, April 27 to May 5, at La Paz and Isla Partida. And Loreto Fest, May 18-19 at Puerto Escondido, Baja. All these events are for cruisers, they're all free, and they're all fun. Don't miss out!

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