December, 2004

With reports this month from Pizazz on proper garbage disposal; from Eau de Vie on an October crossing to Honolulu; from Ace on the challenges of family cruising; from Wildflower on making it to Glacier Bay, Alaska, for the summer solstice; from Gemini on Bocas del Toro, Panama, being a better place than Costa Rica to spend the rainy season; from The Cat's Meow on being relaunched after sinking five months ago; from Sea Bear on the October passage from Maine to Annapolis; and Cruise Notes.

Pizazz - Moorings 500
Randy & Lourae Kenoffel
What To Do With Garbage
(San Francisco / Tropics)

What do we do with all the trash that we generate?

That's a question a lot of environmentally-conscious cruisers-to-be ask us. When you live in the States, of course, you have regular curbside trash pickups at least once a week, and most places have recycling programs.

It's different in much of the rest of the world, particularly the Third World. True, most major cities and ports have containers for garbage, and there is regular trash pickup for delivery to landfills. But most small islands, of which there are many in the Caribbean and the Pacific, don't offer that. This is why you see garbage all over the streets, along the shore, and in the mangroves.

In the Eastern Caribbean, the locals usually charge folks on charter boats $1 to $2 per bag to get rid of their garbage, and those who pay the fee naturally assume the trash will properly be disposed of. Unfortunately, the local boat boys usually just take the money and then dump the garbage in the water, the mangroves, or in some abandoned boat. Rarely do they take it to proper containers, and even more rarely does it make it to a properly maintained landfill.

It's also common in the Caribbean islands to collect the garbage, drive it to the side of a tall hill, dump it over the side, and set it on fire. That's why there's an almost perpetual fire on the east side of St. Martin, off Basse Terre in Les Saintes, and on many other islands.

Cruisers tend to hold onto their garbage until they return to a marina - or they take care of the garbage themselves. In Mexico, cruisers usually hold their garbage until they return to a marina, or take it to shore in the larger towns where there is normal garbage service. But the small villages in Mexico - both in Baja and on the mainland - don't have landfills, and garbage just gets dumped in the desert or jungle. We found this to be true in places such as the Agua Verde anchorage in the Sea of Cortez. There are trash containers for the garbage, then the locals just dump the garbage out in the desert without proper landfill maintenance. This attracts rodents, birds, and who knows what else. One day the cruisers will be blamed for the ugly mess, but when there is no marina or other place to dispose of garbage, what are you to do?

Because of the garbage problems we've had over the last 11 years of cruising in the Caribbean and Mexico, we on Pizazz have learned to take care of our own garbage. We separate our trash into three categories - organics, paper and plastics, and cans and bottles. We dump the organics into the water - always well away from shore, of course - knowing that they will be broken down and eaten by something in the ocean. We also bury the bottles and cans at sea. We break the bottoms of bottles with a heavy rod to create crab condos, and we punch holes in the cans to make sure they sink.

As for our paper and plastic, we take them to shore and burn them. We create a small fire near the tideline, and while our garbage is burning, we walk the beach and around the island to collect any other plastic or paper that might have washed ashore. We add these to the fire. Once everything is burned, we scatter the ashes, and the rising tide washes the beach clean.

People in so many Third World countries aren't educated in the proper handling of trash, nor do they have proper landfills. So rather than criticize their ignorance, we properly dispose of our trash ourselves.

- randy & lourae 11/15/04

Readers - Because Profligate has such a large 'back porch', we can almost always keep our cans, bottles, plastics, and papers onboard until we get to a place that has suitable garbage disposal. As such, we're not experts on the subject. Does anybody else wish to weigh in on the proper way to dispose of trash in out-of-the way areas? The one thing that we do know is that it isn't cool when cruisers in the Sea of Cortez build fires above the tideline, throw in all kinds of bottles and cans, and walk away. The result is an unsightly pile of scorched cans and bottles atop a pile of ashes.

Here's a more uplifting story about garbage and sailboats. We've been told that, a year or so ago, a gentleman in the Orange County area bought the 72-ft Alan Guerney-designed
Windward Passage, which many Latitude readers recognize as one of the legends of modern yacht racing and a big part of the history of the TransPac. The owner reportedly takes the historic yacht out sailing most Tuesdays, which we think is really great. How did the buyer make his fortune? We're told that he figured out a way to sort all the various recyclables out of piles of trash, so individual homeowners are no longer required to sort it out themselves. This innovative 'trash technology' apparently enabled him to win major trash disposal contracts all over Southern California. Good for him, and good for Windward Passage!

Eau De Vie - Beneteau First 42s7
Tom Dick
Sausalito To Hawaii
(Sausalito / Honolulu)

My Beneteau First 42s7 departed Sausalito on October 10, skippered by Bob Musor, the owner of the well-known Alameda-based J/130 Sceptre, and arrived at Waikiki, her new homeport, on October 22. Crew for the 13-day passage included Seamus 'Irish' Murphy and Hugo 'Dutch' De Vries from Hawaii, along with Aussie Geoff Hasemer, and Ingrid Wilcox of California. Just 90 minutes after Eau de Vie's arrival in Honolulu, the passage crew, the owner, and 28 of their closest friends raced the boat in the Hawaii YC's year-round Friday Night Beer Can Race.

Musor reports that the first three days of the passage from Sausalito were in a low, with winds in the 40+ knot range. Seas were 16 feet, with a six-foot cross chop from the wind. This made for some interesting sailing - and daily surfing speed contests under #3 jib alone. Skipper Musor turned in the best burst - 17.1 knots! With so many crew, the boat was hand-steered most of the way.

Part way to Hawaii, a U.S. Navy ship called on the VHF to ask what such a small boat was doing in the middle of the ocean, and to see if assistance was needed. Two Matson line ships were sighted on their Great Circle course - which is only about 10 miles off of the rhumbline. There's traffic out there on the way to Hawaii, so don't forget to keep good watches!

Two blue-footed boobies visited the boat, and both were highly interested in the masthead as a place to perch. The anemometer fell victim to boobie #2, who was nicknamed Napoleon for his arrogant decision to perch arse-end forward on the pushpit for the night. One thing the crew learned is that the boobies' epoxy-like by-product is incredibly difficult to remove from fiberglass. Also, that tired boobies will even put up with petting rather than take to the air.

It was less pleasant to learn that satphones can be very expensive for email, as the boat had many dropped calls, causing the server not to connect for even very short - 100 letter - text messages. Our bill for 13 days was $1,600 for service alone. We'll be talking with Iridium for relief on this issue.

As for the new California CARB-approved diesel jerry cans, they were found to be very difficult to use to decant fuel from them into the ship's main tanks. It took approximately three minutes for each tank, and required three people to hold, depress the plunger, and stabilize the jug.

Believing that independent redundant systems are a must for offshore, every critical electrical device was backed up three ways - including the ability to charge the main batteries, The boat also had dry-cell independence if the entire electrical system failed. When a squid found its way into the engine's raw water inlet, causing the engine to overheat, the solar cell charge was restored until the problem was diagnosed and the engine re-enabled.

Chafe on every line and sail was monitored carefully. One halyard chafed significantly at the top sheave, requiring cutting one foot off the halyard each day. But at least the loss of the halyard was prevented, and the sheave is being repaired in Honolulu.

Shoreside support teams are also keys to good passages. Rick Shema of did a terrific job of weather-routing in what turned out to be a rhumbline passage. Mike Aratow was the medical doctor on call - but was fortunately not needed.

- tom 11/14/04

Tom - We can't help but wonder if your Iridium satphone is set up correctly for email, as in the Caribbean it's a popular choice for frugal sailors who operate their own charterboats. They report easy 'flash' sending and receiving of emails, even relatively long ones, at an economical price.

Ace - Passport 42
Mary Heeney & Family
The Cruising Lifestyle
(San Francisco)

In September of 2003, our family - husband Lou Dietz, myself, Emily (10), and Martin (9) - left San Francisco aboard our Passport 42 Ace to go cruising. The kids were born into the dream and are just along for the ride, but my husband and I had planned the adventure for many years. We're currently cruising in Costa Rica, and will try to summarize some of the surprises we've had about the cruising lifestyle and the adjustments we've had to make.

Our biggest adjustment has been the four of us living together on a 42-ft boat 24/7. Prior to going cruising, we had a typical Bay Area existence, where our calendars were jammed and we were all going off to different places. Back then I looked forward to being with my family on a 42-foot sailboat. Some of my acquaintances told me they wouldn't be able to take being so close together so much. I felt sad for them, thinking being close to your loved ones is 'what it's all about'.

Well, I have to admit there have been many times in the past year when I've remembered what my friends had said, and have thought they were either smarter or more honest than I. The solution has been communication - and each of us being able to find time and space to ourselves. In addition, exercise and lots of activities have been a key component in keeping us all happy. Swimming, volleyball, biking, surfing, kayaking, soccer and exercise classes - the latter run by a fellow cruiser - have kept us all in good spirits and good health.

The other constant issue with almost all family cruisers is home-schooling. At times, it's frustrating enough for us to almost consider calling off the trip. The battle to get through the lessons has sometimes been almost overwhelming. My children had been in a dual language immersion public school, and were used to sitting in a classroom with at least 20 other students. Then my husband and I started teaching them one-on-one, demanding their constant undivided attention as we imparted our wisdom to them. You can imagine how well that worked!

Lou and I wanted a flexible program for Emily and Martin so that we could study the core items, but also study 'what we were living'. I was corresponding with Patti, a cruiser on Infidien in the South Pacific, and she suggested reading The Well Trained Mind. This book suggests a more classical approach to education, and so we have used The Well Trained Mind as the basis for our curriculum. Yes, we do have standard textbooks for math. But, for example, when we are in a certain country, we can study about the history of that country and whatever unique features it might have.

Emily and Martin's education has been greatly enhanced by the wonderful cruisers we have encountered. They have gotten to play a harp, have had their writing critiqued, learned to knit, and learned more songs and poems - among many, many other things. Some of the cruisers who have assisted with their education are Hope and Rich on Ceilidh; Michael and Sylvia on Sabbatical; Allen and Steph on Sunshine; Blaise and Annie on Einte; Carol and Steve on Mutineer V; Randy and Gayle on Otter; Sharon and Ken on In The Mood; Michael and Jeri on Cloud 9; Nile and Clodagh on Chipita; and Jim and Lenny on Raven.

We have also attempted to supplement their education with local opportunities. For example, in Zihuatanejo, Steve, the owner of Steve's Steakhouse above Rick's Bar, gave guitar lessons to Martin three times a week. The improvement was dramatic. Martin even participated in some Friday night jam sessions at Rick's. And while we were in Mazatlan, Emily took ballet lessons at one of the best ballet schools in Mexico.

With these additions to the curriculum, home-schooling has been getting better - but it's still a work in progress. Then I heard from friends in California about the state of schools back home - and was glad to be putting my energy toward the education of my children.

Another interesting thing we've learned is how to deal with 'cruiser rumors', and making your own decisions about what is right for you, your family, and your boat. For example, it was a relatively common rumor that you ought to provision for a long time because you couldn't get what you wanted south of San Diego. We quickly learned that they have toilet paper in Mexico, too, and just about everything else. The only important thing we haven't found is good brown sugar for baking.

We also learned to not automatically cross some places off our list of places to visit because of what we had heard or read. We had read many articles about San Blas in Latitiude, and that most cruisers were bypassing the town. We decided to go in and see the place for ourselves. We dealt directly with the port captain - we didn't have to use an agent, something that so many others had complained about - and clearing in and out was smooth. We had a great two-week stay in San Blas anchored up the river with only one other sailboat. While there, we met some wonderful locals - even one who is a movie star!

Despite some misleading rumors and information, I must say that I love the cruising community! But one of the thrills of being out here with my husband is making decisions together. It's a skill we developed when we used to fly single-engine airplanes, and now we enjoy it while cruising. Common decisions are how we deal with too much and/or conflicting information. Many times you just have to go with a gut feeling.

There are so very many cruisers in Mexico that it's an interesting transition ground. For example, if you wanted to, you could spend your days in a United States/Canadian social 'bubble' and never interact with the locals - except to provision or order a cerveza. But that's not what we were looking for. Depending on your language skills, it may be hard to make connections with the locals, but when you do, it's wonderful. Yes, the cruising community is fun and comfortable, but so was our community back in the States. So we found that we had to make an effort to periodically extract ourselves from the cruising community and have some experiences outside of it. Yet we've had such wonderful experiences with other cruisers that it was very difficult to say goodbye when we headed off to Central America while many of our other new friends headed north into the Sea of Cortez.

Another surprise was that even with a well-found boat, the boat chores never stop. The important thing is to not let them become all-consuming. We have attempted - with limited success - to have regularly scheduled 'vacation' days, and will continue to strive for more. But when Lou raced on a friend's boat in the Pacific Cup, he said he really enjoyed it because he didn't have the responsibility as the boatowner.

When we were dreaming about cruising, we thought most of our time would be spent in anchorages where we could jump into clear, warm water. But only about 20% of our cruising has been in that kind of environment. On the other hand, we've learned a lot about our Mexican and Central American neighbors - and have been surprised to discover that Central America has proved to be an even richer experience than Mexico. We've done more inland travel in Central America, and even stayed in a community in El Salvador for three months. It's been in Costa Rica that we've found most of those remote anchorages with warm, clear water. And they are wonderful!

As there's no place to hide on a 42-foot boat, we've learned a lot about ourselves and our family in the past year. Although not every moment has been pleasant, we feel fortunate to have this opportunity to see the world together. We've seen a humpback and baby breech as we left Zihuatanejo Bay, had great times snorkeling alongside our kids, and shared many beautiful sunsets. You don't get special treats like these and others every day, but we get them more frequently than we did back in the States.

- mary 11/10/04

Wildflower - Wylie 27
Skip Allan
Cruising What You've Got, To Alaska

As my 27-ft Wylie custom sloop Wildflower was the defending champ of the West Marine Pacific Cup to Hawaii, it was with mixed emotions that I decided not to sail the 2004 race, but instead fulfill my dream of heading north up the Inside Passage, hoping to be in Glacier Bay, Alaska, in time for the summer solstice.

When I built Wildflower 28 years ago, I heavily reinforced the bow area with extra fiberglass. My racing buddies wondered why. "I'm going into ice," I said. "Sure you are," was their incredulous reply. The momentum of the dream, and this promise, took to the road on April 28, when Wildflower departed Santa Cruz by truck for Anacortes, Washington.

By no stretch of the imagination was Wildflower perfectly suited for such a voyage. Cabin heating is by propane stove, the single-cylinder Yanmar diesel pushes her along at a turtle-like - but economical - 5.8 knots, and an umbrella doubles as the dodger. Nonetheless, sometimes you gotta 'take what boat you got'. And Wildflower had surprised me before with her magic carpet qualities.

This voyage was no exception. From Anacortes to Glacier Bay was 1,000 miles of stunning scenery lining mostly narrow, tide-swept channels, and almost always with the wind directly on the nose. With snow-topped mountains so close at hand, motorsailing become the propulsion of choice, as wind against tide often reduced forward progress to a hobby-horse crawl against square waves. Good tide-planning would bring encouraging results - when speed through the water was down to three knots or less, speed over ground was often a current-assisted eight knots or better.

Wildflower and I did reach our furthermost north, the head of Glacier Bay, on June 21, the summer solstice, as I had long dreamed of doing. This northern terminus of the Inside Passage is situated at 59°04'N, where it was light all night. The sunrise at 3 a.m. highlighted dramatic 15,300-ft Mt. Fairweather. That day I visited five glaciers, and fulfilled my goal of chipping million-year-old ice from an iceberg to cool my drink.

Every day of my voyage was an adventure, and navigation was certainly challenging in these waters. Although I have been a seat-of-the-pants sailor for my entire life, Stan Honey kindly loaned me his chartplotter program for my laptop. The chartplotter - coupled with the GPS and radar - won the MVP award for the trip, as it made navigation less worrisome, and the whole experience more enjoyable. Nevertheless, eyeball navigation was of continuing importance, and scanning every mile for uncharted hazards - such as large floating logs - was foremost in my mind.

Not that there weren't moments of frustration, concern, and hilarity. Particular frustration surfaced while we passed many miles of clear-cut mountainsides, some pie-shaped sections of which continued right up to the mountaintop. Princess Royal Island, British Columbia, is home to the rare, all white, kermodi, or Spirit Bear. Only about 100 of these genetically distinct animals live in the wild. Seeing their island being clear-cut was sobering indeed. Also, passing miles of brown oceanic contrails of treated human waste being dumped by cruise ships when they got just outside the three-mile limit was odorous.

My most intense moment of concern came one morning when leaving Glacier Bay. Wildflower and I were westward bound out of North Inian Passage when thick fog and a westerly breeze of some force came together, opposing a five-knot current. I'd been in tidal races before, but this time Wildflower had waves breaking over the bow, stern, and both sides simultaneously. For the short time I was in these conditions, the safest place was below in the cabin, with the autopilot steering and the radar standing watch!

Day after day, I encountered powerboats of all shapes and sizes - often with family pets aboard - but few other sailboats. Listening to the powerboaters' chatter on VHF brought a certain measure of entertainment. There was quite a bit of tongue-in-cheek competition between them over who was burning the most fuel. In one instance, as a 70-footer roared past at 25 knots, I overheard the owner boasting that he was "burning 65 gallons/hour."

Later that day, I remarked to one of these captains about his fuel consumption. His Southern drawl comeback was enlightening. "Sonny," he said, "I only have two speeds: eight knots and 33 knots. I always go 33 knots, because at eight knots I would die before I got anywhere."

After Glacier Bay, Wildflower and I headed south via the outside ocean route to Sitka, eventually reconnecting with the Inside Passage via Peril Straits - where only weeks before an Alaskan Ferry had run aground and severely damaged her hull. Three months to the day since departure, Wildflower and I sailed back into Anacortes. We had motorsailed 460 hours, burning less than one quart an hour - or less than the 70-foot powerboat would consume in a day. I'd only sailed for 36 hours. The biggest surprise had been the moderate temperatures. Preparing for the worst, I had more than sufficient fleece caps, mittens, and socks, and was surprised to note the lowest temperature I encountered on the entire trip was a relatively balmy 45°. On the other hand, Glacier Bay had been enveloped in a heatwave during my visit, and for a week the temperatures were in the mid-'80s.

Leaving Anacortes southbound for home, my good friend Gary Adams and I doublehanded Wildflower out the Straits of Juan de Fuca and turned left at Cape Flattery. With good weather info via ham radio GRIB charts - thanks, Jim Corenman - we were able to dodge several cold fronts, and with an overnight stop at Coos Bay thrown in, enjoyed a foggy but relatively fast run down the coast. Ironically - but appropriately - the best sailing of the trip came in Wildflower's home waters. Off Año Nuevo, the afternoon westerly filled in at 22 knots, and we flew along under spinnaker toward our homeport. The ice of Glacier Bay was a long way behind, but the memories of such an event-filled voyage will not soon be forgotten.

- skip 10/29/04

Gemini - Albin-Nimbus 42C
Les Sutton & Diane Grant
Bocas Del Toro, Panama
(Northern California)

We're sitting here at the Bocas YC and Marina on the Caribbean side of Panama up near the Costa Rican border, getting Gemini ready for some time away from the marina. 'Getting ready' has included rewiring all of the alarm systems for the engine, some general cleaning, and a new coat of varnish for the V-berth - all while trying to fix an unfixable alternator. Speaking of alternators, I have a good story about getting one delivered to us in Bocas del Toro from Panama City.

The process began after a quick conversation with the Bosch warehouse in Panama City. They paid $3 U.S. to have a taxi deliver the alternator to the airport for the flight to Bocas. When it got to the airport, there was a 25 cents/pound fee for the airplane flight that came to $5. Then there was a $1 taxi ride from the airport to the waterfront. It all happened in less than 24 hours and cost less than $10 U.S. It sure beats Federal Express, and it employs some locals along the way.

I can't take credit for this effective Third World express delivery system, as it was set up by Luis Chow Kai, owner of the hardware store in Bocas. Luis speaks English and is very resourceful when it comes to getting almost anything you may need - even if it's clumping kitty litter for Cami, our 14-year-old cat. He only charged $2 more for the litter than we would have paid in Panama City.

A few days later, we discovered that our new alternator was just a little bit different from the previous one, and didn't quite fit. So we sent it back to Panama City to Enrique Plummer, ship's agent and a great friends of cruisers, who took it to a repairman to make the necessary changes. The alternator was modified in a couple of hours and sent back by plane for another $10.

Our plan was to head for the San Blas Islands as soon as the alternator was installed - but then we discovered that the heat exchanger was giving us some problems. So we took it out, cleaned it, flushed the engine, and will be on our way tomorrow instead. Delays like that are common in cruising. After a shorter-than-intended visit to the San Blas Islands, we'll fly back to the States for Christmas.

What's the major difference between spending the rainy season in Costa Rica and spending the rainy season on the Caribbean side of Panama? Lightning. In Costa Rica we had lightning within a couple of miles of our boat every day. But here in Bocas, we frequently see lightning flashes far to the west - toward Costa Rica - but have only heard thunder here. The people of Costa Rica were wonderful and very helpful when we had to repair the lightning damage to our boat. Nonetheless, we've found it much more relaxing here in Bocas without the lightning - and where shopping for boat equipment is easier than one might think! We highly recommend Bocas as a secure place to leave one's boat, as well as to have a great time.

P.S. Thanks for the Latitude T-shirts I got when I stopped by your office. The long-sleeve white shirt comes in very handy in the evening when it cools off and the no-see-ums come out. It's a right comfortable climate here, for humans and for bugs.

- les and diane 10/20/04

Readers - When we were at Panama's San Blas Islands last year, some cruisers told us they could buy anything - even groceries - by calling in their order over the radio to the 70-mile-distant Panama City, then for a small fee have a taxi deliver it to the airport, and then for yet another small fee have the stuff flown out to one of the islands. We're not aware of anywhere else where this trusting system seems so refined.

The Cat's Meow - 52-ft Trawler
Martin & Robin Hardy
Saving Stuff After A Sinking
(San Pedro)

[The Cat's Meow is a well-known and well-liked trawler among the sailing community in Mexico, in no small part because she and her crew worked relentlessly to save many cruising sailboats that had been driven aground in the Loreto area by Hurricane Marty in September of '03.]

The Cat's Meow was finally splashed again on November 2, after spending the past five months in the Don Luis Abaroa Yard here in La Paz. As many readers might remember, a navigation error was made while leaving a dicey Sea of Cortez anchorage on the night of May 19, resulting in our boat going up on the rocks. Without the enormous effort made by countless cruisers, land-dwellers, yacht clubs, and the Mexican Navy, our boat would not have been saved. Just for starters, scores of cruisers and others from all around the Sea of Cortez worked nearly nonstop for five days just to get TCM refloated and back to Puerto Escondido. She was stablized there and later towed to La Paz for months of repairs.

During the initial efforts to save her - and even after she'd been refloated - some people said it would be better if we walked away from her. But we couldn't abandon such a fine vessel, one we'd invested five years of our lives putting into cruising shape. TCM is a special boat, both to us and many others in Mexico. So although we understood that it would require another enormous effort to bring her back to life, we had to do it.

We hope nobody else has to try to salvage their boat, but if they do, perhaps they can learn some things from our experience. When TCM was being towed by the Mexican Navy pangas and a horde of cruiser dinghies to shallow water, the navy decided to pump the approximately 500 gallons of diesel from our tanks into the Sea of Cortez! We were all shocked by their action, but they told us their plan was to fill the tanks with air and use them as floatation devices. Unfortunately, the tanks didn't work very well for that purpose.

Not only that, pumping the diesel out meant the rescue scene was inundated with 500 gallons of diesel. It sloshed around the inside of our boat, the outside of our boat, and all around the boats and dinghies that had come to help. As a result, those who were diving on our boat with scuba gear had to be extremely careful with their regulators. And in the ensuing days, many of us suffered bad reactions that we believed were caused by our exposure to so much diesel. Billie of Siempre Sabado had some of the most severe physical reactions, while many others seemed to get skin rashes. We all drank copious amounts of water in the hope that it would help flush the effects of the diesel from our bodies.

After five days of near-continuous work by so many friends and strangers, TCM made it to Puerto Escondido. She languished there for another week. But we and all the volunteers were still very busy, for during that time every single item was removed from the boat in an attempt to save them. For awhile, it seemed as though our entire lives - wet and covered with diesel - were piled on the dock. One of the big jobs was for folks, who were working in the hot sun, to clean all the motors and other mechanical stuff with the hope of saving them. Not all of it could be salvaged, but much of it was thanks to the efforts of volunteers.

Naturally, many important papers, equipment manuals, and our personal photos were soaked in a mixture of saltwater and diesel. But many of them were saved thanks to the great care taken by Susie of Sparta and Susan of Two Can Play. Most of these things - including our wedding photos - were saved by soaking them in water mixed with mild soap for a short period of time, then air-drying them while occasionally turning the pages. Some less important papers and manuals haven't yet been cleaned, but the diesel coated them, and seems to work as a preservative of sorts. In the off chance that we might need these papers in the future, we've put them in heavy Ziploc bags for temporary storage.

De of Flutterby took anything made of fabric to Willy's small tienda down the road, where Willy and his helpers washed everything in large quantities of degreasers supplied by De. This wasn't as successful as we hoped, so I spent lots of my time trying to save clothes, curtains, tableclothes, and other things made of fabric. An internet search recommended cleaning the stuff with 'washing soda', which is a close cousin to baking soda. I soaked everything in containers filled with a solution of water, washing soda, and detergent, usually for six to eight hours, then I rinsed it all in freshwater. I quickly discovered that the colors ran, so I had to sort everything first. I was able to save about 80% of the stuff we still wanted.

I expected that the stuff with thicker material - such as jeans, sweaters, jackets and such - would be lost, but I was able to save them. Surprisingly, silks and even items marked as 'dry clean only', washed out just fine. I only took two items to the local dry cleaner - Martin's one suit and a very old lace tablecloth. Both are fine.

Immediately after the grounding, we only had the clothes on our backs, and I didn't even have shoes. We were quickly kitted out by friends on boats and land from Puerto Escondido to La Paz to Mazatlan. Other people were quick to offer boats for us to stay on during the summer while TCM was being repaired. Everyone was so generous.

Cruisers in La Paz collected money for us, which was delivered to the crash site by Mike of Amazing Grace. The Club Cruceros of La Paz donated money from their emergency cruisers fund, as did the Hidden Port YC of Puerto Escondido. And many individuals made private donations. Furthermore, the folks in Puerto Escondido - especially from the yacht club - sent boats and cars loaded with food to feed the many helpers during the crucial first four days. Carolyn of Que Tal sent out an email telling about our mishap, and of an address where donations could be made. Mike and Katya of Kindred Spirit, now in Sausalito, provided a means for the donations to be deposited in our account. Latitude ran notes about our troubles, and encouraged additional donations to be made. We can't tell you what an immense difference it all made in our ability to ultimately put TCM back together again. We are so thankful.

We even got considerable help from marine manufacturers and distributors. For example, just a month before TCM sank we'd installed a 2500-watt Xantrex inverter. Shortly after TCM was saved, but before her interior was dry, Erin Miller of Ballena contacted Xantrex, and ultimately got them to give us a reconditioned inverter of the type that we'd lost. Brian of Garmin customer service responded similarly to Erin's request for a replacement Garmin 128 GPS. Ray Watson of Soul Coaxing, who operates the Mazatlan Marine Center, was able to get nine gallons of Interlux Brightside paint donated to our cause. Rick of Cape Star, who is part of Total Yacht Service in Mazatlan, donated all kinds of wire and filters via Dario of Tranquilli and Erin of Ballena. Diane and Pat Abreau of Springbok brought us a microwave donated by Summerwind. There were many others who were also generous.

We also want to commend the Abaroa Boatyard for their excellent work. TCM came to them with a gaping hole and a big dent in the wood hull. But Jorge, the shipwright, and Roberto, his assistant, replanked the hull so well that it's a work of art. We also had the yard do a few other tasks and are quite pleased with the work. It's Abaroa's crew who put the boat back together again.

Thanks to everyone, TCM is slowly coming back to life. She once again has water under her keel, and one day soon will feel the splash of the ocean waves on her bow. We can't wait for the dolphins to welcome her back to deep waters so we can begin to again enjoy the cruising life we love so much. We want to thank every single person who gave us help, be it physical, emotional, or monetary - or even said a prayer on our behalf.

- martin & robin 11/08/04

Martin and Robin - After you helped save so many cruising boats following hurricane Marty, it is only just that you got a lot of help back. It's good to know you're almost back in action.

Sea Bear - Wittholtz 37
Pete Passano & Marina
Maine To Annapolis
(Marin County / Maine)

[Some readers may remember our February '04 Changes on Pete Passano. At that time, we reported that the then 74-year-old had sailed a total of 88,000 miles, nearly a third of them singlehanded, aboard the 37-ft steel boat that he and Bob van Blaricom had built behind the San Rafael Civic Center back in the early '90s. And these weren't easy miles either, as he's sailed the Southern Ocean from New Zealand to Cape Horn, been across the Atlantic nine times in the last eight years, and cruised as far north as New Foundland and Ireland. If you're over 60 and looking for sailing inspiration, we suggest you re-read that Changes.]

Last year Sea Bear spent the entire winter in the Eastern Caribbean - and even bumped into Profligate at St. Barth over the holiday. After returning to Maine, Marina and I decided that this winter we would explore the Western Caribbean - Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and the Caribbean side of Mexico. It wasn't exactly clear how we'd get there from Maine, but we knew that we wanted to start by sailing to the Chesapeake Bay and visiting Marina's mom. Since it would be October when we started with the boat preparations for the winter, Annapolis would certainly be a warmer place to get them done than Maine.

Sea Bear has always been a lucky ship, and it often seems the weather improves just when we need a break. The best example of this was during my singlehanded passage from New Zealand to the Falkland Islands in 1995-1996. I was in radio contact with Kiwi weather experts Jon and Maureen Cullen most of the way. When I got to Port Stanley in the Falklands, Jon told me that he had followed a good number of yachts across the Southern Ocean, but he couldn't remember one that had been as lucky with the weather as Sea Bear. Several slow moving high pressure systems had shepherded us across the Southern Ocean, something that apparently is quite unusual.

This year we arbitrarily picked October 9 as the day we'd sail south from Hockomock Bay, Maine, where Sea Bear had moored for the summer. The weather wasn't cooperating, however, as southwest winds blew for days before our scheduled departure. Southwest winds were exactly what we didn't want, as they would mean a slow and uncomfortable trip down the coast. But then, true to Sea Bear's luck, the forecast suddenly changed on the 8th. If we waited until the 10th, a weak cold front would have passed through, causing winds to blow out of the northwest after the shift.

We were underway by noon on the 10th, and later got a nice northerly breeze with which to sail south. I'd intended to stop at Chebeague Island and visit my brother Mac and his wife Beth, but it would have been late and dark when we arrived, and I knew we'd lose 24 hours of favorable winds. So I abided by the sailors dictum of "never waste a fair wind", and we carried on.

The wind built as the night wore on, and in the early evening the Coast Guard issued a tropical storm warning. By the wee hours of the next day, the winds were up to Gale Force 7, which is 28-33 knots, and the forecast was for even stronger stuff. At first light I reefed the main and changed down to a small storm jib. The reduction in sail didn't slow us down at all, and we continued to clock speeds of 7.5 to 8.5 knots. Thanks to our Reflect diesel heating stove, we could keep the cabin temperature at a comfortable 68°.

As we sailed along, I couldn't help but notice how much happier Marina was at sea compared to the year before when she started sailing with me. She has come a long way and handles the rough weather like a true bluewater sailor. True, she had taken a Meclazine pill before we left, but that seemed to give her an appetite, and she produced snacks and delicious meals from the galley all the way. We hit the Cape Cod Canal at the perfect time of the tidal cycle, and shot through under sail in about an hour, thanks also to a favorable tide.

Over the next several days, we spent time with good friends from the Cruising Club of America, and even attended one of their meetings. It blew strong from the south and west most of the time, but we were securely holed up. After loaning out our charts of the Eastern Caribbean and getting some of the Western Caribbean in return, a CCA friend brought up a weather forecast on his computer that indicated Sea Bear's weather luck was holding. There was another window for heading south, and if we left soon, we could make it from Montauk Point to Cape May at the mouth of the Delaware River, at which point we'd be done with our open ocean part of the passage to Annapolis. After checking the tide, we were underway in 15 minutes.

Initially the wind was light out of the west, but it slowly clocked around to the northwest. Rain began to fall at 1:30 a.m., at which point the wind suddenly shifted 180 degrees to the southeast. We gybed over, but were still able to lay Cape May. We knew the weather forecast was calling for strong winds, but they would be fair, and we were hoping for a fast passage to the Chesapeake. Indeed, the wind steadily strengthened during the night, and by dawn it was blowing Force Six (22- 27 knots). As the day wore on, the wind backed to the east, then the northeast, and piped up to the low 30s. We reduced sail to a double-reefed main and our smallest storm jib. Sea Bear carried on happily, but her crew got pretty tired of the rain, cold, and violent motion.

Than at 4 p.m. one of the steering lines parted on 'Blondie', our Monitor windvane. At first I didn't realize what was wrong - other than that we were way off course and the poled-out jib was aback. We were beam reaching across big, breaking seas, so there was a lot of water coming across the deck, and it was pretty exciting. I was below when the line parted, but Marina had taken the tiller and put Bear back on course. While Marina drove, I dropped the pole and then the jib. In order to replace the line, I would have had to reach way over the stern and reeve it. This would have taken time, and would have been pretty scary when running before gale force winds and breaking seas. So I decided to heave to and make the repair under reasonable conditions. It was a good decision, for within an hour the vane was working again and we were underway once more.

Having sailed 212 miles in 36 hours, Marina and I were both quite tired. However, it was still blowing a gale, we heard that one boat had already dragged on the beach at Cape May, and we were going to arrive at the mouth of the Delaware River at the start of the flood. So as tired as we were, we decided to continue past Cape May and into Delaware Bay. We carried on with the favorable tidal current for another eight hours, but it was hard windward work with lots of commercial shipping, strong winds, and shoal water. When the tide finally turned against us, we decided to anchor at Cohansey Cove on the east side of the bay. It had been a rough 48-hour passage, so we crashed and slept for 13 hours.

But on the good side, we were now just a short distance from Annapolis, where a couple of days later we tied up at a friend's dock on Whitehall Creek. We spent several weeks there visiting Marina's mother and doing maintenance. Although we weren't in a warm weather area yet, we were out of the Northeast, halfway to Miami, and on our way to a winter in the Western Caribbean.

- pete 11/05/04

Cruise Notes:

"What, if anything, did you folks on the Ha-Ha learn about any changes to the current clearing procedures in Mexico?" asks Terry Bingham of the Eagle Harbor, Washington-based Union 36 Secret O' Life, who is planning to sail back into Mexico around New Year's.

We learned that there hasn't been any change at all. However, we're told that work has been done on a single clearing office at Ensenada, and that everything might change on December 16. Or maybe January 1. Or maybe - well, who knows? We were also assured that Mexico is trying to institute a program whereby the owners of foreign boats would be able to buy diesel at a 20% discount. Why? Because diesel in Mexico has gone up so much that it's less expensive for all the really big motoryachts to go all the way north to San Diego or south to Panama just to fuel up. And that means a big loss of revenue for the marinas and fuel docks. What's holding up the implementation of the discount? Nobody can figure out a system that would prevent gringos from buying the discounted diesel and then selling it to Mexicans.

By the way, when we pulled into Cabo with our crew of 11 on Profligate, the bill from the ship's agent was $382 U.S. It broke down this way: $231 for 11 tourist cards. (When you fly in, the price of the tourist card is built into your ticket.) We also paid $42 for check-in, $42 for check-out, and $56 to the port captain. Did we mention that Cabo is really expensive? And that cruisers would be ecstatic if the domestic clearing was done away with, as promised by President Fox? Many Ha-Ha skippers who had more time than we, did the clearing themselves, and saved a lot of money. A few told us they had problems at the Immigration office when they used the crew list forms in Pat and John Rains' Mexico Boating Guide. At the top of that form it says "Paperwork Cha-Cha." Apparently someone in Immigration took offense to the cha-cha business, and kept sending folks with these forms to the back of the line - until they whited-out the offending words.

Boats that pulled into Marina Cabo San Lucas at the end of the Ha-Ha were visited by our old friend Reynaldo Perez Perez of the Agriculture Department, who has been doing inspections for the last dozen years or so. If any boats had uncooked beef or poultry products - no matter if it was frozen or not - they were confiscated. Mad cow disease and all that. One boat reportedly had to give up over $900 of meat. (If you shop at the right places, you can buy superb meat in Mexico.) The odd thing is nobody from Agriculture visited any of the 100 or so Ha-Ha boats out on the hook, so all those boats got to keep their beef and poultry. Law enforcement in Mexico can be a haphazard thing.

Cruising event dates to remember this winter in Mexico:

Fourth Annual Zihua SailFest, February 2-5. A great fund-raiser in Zihuatanejo for a really terrific cause. See

Fifth Annual Pacific Puddle Jump Party, last week in February. Puddle Jumping seminars and party sponsored by Latitude and Paradise Marina, but only for those going across in 2005.

Pirate's Spinnaker Cup For Charity, March 11. A glorious and easy 12-mile spinnaker run - in costume - from Punta de Mita to Paradise Marina, for another really great cause.

Thirteenth Banderas Bay Regatta, March 12-15, the big social event and casual racing event of the cruising season - and with the best venue and conditions for it in the world. Don't miss it! Paradise Marina. Entry is free.

Loreto Fest, May 6-8, Puerto Escondido, Sea of Cortez. Lots of hijinks, fun and games, and music, all for worthy local causes.

"A dream of mine that started in grade school in New Mexico has become real with the launching in New Zealand of my 70-ft catamaran My Way in October," writes Don Engle of the East Bay. "All the planning, all the delay and frustration are over. We launched her yesterday, and she is a real beauty. There is no way to describe the emotion. There are still quite a few odds and ends to complete, but all the systems are working. We'll stay in New Zealand until the end of the South Pacific tropical cyclone season. A few years from now, however, I hope to sail her in a Ha-Ha."

We'll have a larger feature on My Way in an upcoming issue. But speaking of Northern Californians who have had a big cat built in New Zealand - albeit eight years ago - here's the latest from former Tiburon residents Steve and Dorothy Darden, who sailed a tremendous distance this year with their Morrelli & Melvin-designed 52 Adagio:

"We certainly put some miles under our catamaran's keels since we crossed the Tasman Sea from Hobart, Tasmania, to Nelson, New Zealand, in November of 2003. "After too few weeks getting to know Nelson - and thus appreciating why so many savvy cruisers return to Nelson for either a breather or a home - we cruised Marlborough Sound briefly, then sailed up around the North Island's East Cape to Great Barrier Island, which is the eastern barrier island protecting the Hauraki Gulf of America's Cup fame. After a month of big city fun in Auckland, we continued up to Opua, near our former home in Russell, Bay of Islands. Adagio was returned to her master builder, Allan Legge Boatbuilders in Opua, for a few improvements and preparations for our anticipated adventures to and in Alaska later in the summer. On June 7, we departed Opua on a 14-day passage to Tahiti. Then on July 7, we departed Bora Bora for a 14-day passage to Honolulu. And finally on August 5, we departed Honolulu for a 16-day passage to Sitka in Southeast Alaska. We arrived at the very end of a record sunny summer in Southeast Alaska, enjoying perhaps the final 10 days or so of sun before the 'liquid sunshine' settled in. On September 7, we departed Sitka and made our way much more rapidly than we would have liked through the channels and narrows of the Inside Passage on our way south to Sidney, British Columbia, which we reached on October 30. The motivation to get south was simple: every weather chart we studied indicated a continuous stream of lows aimed across the Gulf of Alaska at us, while we could see the high pressure retreating south before us. So we played 'catch up with the high', hoping for some sun. Adagio seemed to be the 'ski patrol' as we motored south. You know, the patrol that sweeps the slopes to be sure everyone is down safely before closing for the night? Sadly, there were few cruisers still up north for us to meet, but we had some great times with the permanent residents - who were surprised to see us wandering around that late in the season. We'll winter in Bainbridge Island, a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle. In about April, we'll head north again to Southeast Alaska to begin sampling the glaciers and seeing the bears we missed our first time through. Yes, we were in grizzly country for six weeks during the salmon run - but didn't see a single bear! Were they all so full of salmon that they were already hibernating?"

Adam Brinkley-Svanberg, who must be all of 22, did the Ha-Ha this year as crew aboard Frank Conner's Sausalito-based Cal 34 Antoniette, then snagged a 300-mile ride aboard Profligate to Banderas Bay and Yelapa. While there, he became friends with Yuri Faria of Tess, a Berkeley-based Tumlauren 30 - which is a wood boat built in Denmark in 1947 that sailed all the way to San Francisco on her own bottom. Adam and Yuri must have hit it off, because we just received the following email: "I have decided to continue on, and will be leaving with Yuri on Tess. We sail for the Galapagos tomorrow, and plan to continue on to Buenos Aires via the Strait of Magellan, arriving in Argentina in March of 2005." That should be some trip on a 30-footer. Bon voyage!

It's winter, so if you've got a boat in the tropics, you've got to head there. "Come January, my wife Evelyn and I will be returning to our boat at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia," writes long-time Santa Cruz sailor Terry Drew. He and Evelyn bought a boat out of a Caribbean charter program a year or two ago, and now spend their winters there and their summers in Santa Cruz. "We're hoping to catch up with Ken and Nancy Burnap of the Santa Cruz-based Amel Maramu Notre Vie when they pass through on their way over from the Med."

Speaking of the Burnaps and Notre Vie, we recently received the following email from them: "Morocco, which we visited by bus and taxi, was very interesting. The markets were a little overwhelming, but we enjoyed the culture shock. We also had a great time at Ashila, which is on the Atlantic coast and is a smaller town with an artist community and a market with less aggressive people. In fact, it was the only place I bought anything! We're now at Tenerife in the Canary Islands, and are soon expecting Scott Pine, who used to race with Ken, and his wife Lolita. They'll sail down to the Cape Verde Islands with us, and then across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. The first three islands that we visited here in the Canaries - Gloriosia and Lanzarote (where our rental car was robbed) and Grand Canaria were just OK. The volcanoes were interesting, but it was rock, rock, and more rock, plus modular housing with no style. It was also surprisingly cool. But Santa Cruz on Tenerife is a beautiful European city with great architecture, parks, and beautiful large trees. After seeing so many rocks, I was so excited to see something green that I hugged a tree!"

"Life has improved immensely since leaving the Canal Zone in Panama," writes Rex Oxford, who did the Ha-Ha last year aboard the Seattle-based Bavaria 42 Gypsy Wind. "In the broad stroke Panama is nice - it's the cities on both ends of the Canal that I can't quite abide. Apparently, I'm not alone, as every other cruiser I know, met, or who has been there, is solidly in agreement with me. I'll write up the details for the next issue. I did, however, enjoy my Canal transit a lot. I had a terrific advisor and six other cruiser-friends from Kula, Seafari, Crowes Nest and Katy Rose as line-handlers and galley slaves. Currently, I'm enroute to the San Blas Islands, which I'm confident will be a lovely cruising ground. I anchored at Isla Grande for a few days, where the water was the beautiful Caribbean color and clear to 25 feet. My attitude has improved with the quality of the water and my surroundings. As I remember, last winter Profligate made the run from Panama to the Eastern Caribbean using the 'northern route' around Cuba. How was that? I'm sure you wrote about it in Latitude, but having been on the move, I haven't seen a copy in some time. I really miss the magazine. And that's right, it was only a year ago that I did the Ha-Ha with you guys. It seems a lifetime ago - and in many ways I guess it was."

Profligate motored from Panama to Cartagena for an overnight, then to Aruba for a four-hour fuel stop, then nonstop the rest of the way to Antigua in the Eastern Caribbean - so that was hugging the north coast of South America. The keys to the success of that easterly passage across the Caribbean were making the crossing in early December before the Christmas Winds had become established, and making a nearly nonstop trip. About 10 years ago, in the very windy month of February, our old Ocean 71 ketch Big O went from Panama to Cartagena, and was twice driven back by 45-knot winds trying to work the coast of Colombia. So Capt. Jim Drake flopped over on a close reach to Jamaica. The only problem with that was once they got there, it was still nearly 1,000 miles of upwind and upcurrent work in hearty trades to reach the Eastern Caribbean. Some people do sail all the way north of Cuba before heading east to the Eastern Caribbean, but this puts them 1,500 Baja Bash-type miles from their goal - which is even further away than when they started in Panama. However, it is possible to island-hop. The bottom line is that there's no easy way, particularly for smaller boats, to get from Panama to the Eastern Caribbean.

"Some days I look around my boat and all I see is stuff that needs to be worked on," says Liz Clark of the Santa Barbara-based Cal 40 Swell. Most Latitude readers will remember that Clark is the sweet 24-year-old who is getting ready to take off on a circumnavigation, one that's to be combined with lots of surfing - as befits a successful competitive surfer. "Depending on my mood on a given day, I'll either pick up a tool and start working - or grab my car keys and head off to look for surf. After a good surf session the boat projects don't seem so overwhelming, so I attack them with renewed vigor. By the way, I received about 40 emails from the recent story in Latitude, and I want to thank everyone who wrote me!"

During a phone conversation, Liz told us that various boat projects have pushed her departure date back to sometime in February. For example, the nearly 40-year-old boat doesn't have a reefing system(!), and some old thru-hulls need to be sealed up. Fortunately, some of the bigger projects - such as replacing the fuel and water tanks - are behind her. Because we enjoy encouraging young folks with grand sailing dreams, we asked Liz if she had a 'wish list' that readers might contribute to. She said she still needs an autopilot, and that an AutoHelm with a belt drive would do. She also would greatly appreciate contributions to a dinghy fund. She's already been offered an inflatable, but there was a string attached - the guy who owned it wanted to come along. Nice try! If anyone wants to support Liz's dream financially, or even just with encouragement, she can be reached by . For a more complete description of Liz's proposed trip, see the October '04 Changes, either in a print version or at Liz hopes to make it as far south as P.V. by the middle of March for the Banderas Bay Regatta.

"Dear Jesus, here is the photo of the 300+ pound marlin we caught out of Marina San Carlos," write Garth Jones of the Mulege and San Carlos-based sailboat Inclination, and Ken Holmes of the San Diego and San Carlos-based sailboat Antares. "We raised our first marlin - an even larger blue - five miles out of San Carlos. After trolling to 17 miles out and then starting to return, we hooked the 300+ pounder just eight miles from port. The lure was an 8-inch green and black 'eat me' plastic feather on 50-pound test line with Penn international gear. We were fishing from a 14-foot aluminum skiff with a 15-hp outboard. It took just over 90 minutes to land the fish, in part because we'd forgotten our fish belts and knife, and we broke the gaff. It was an incredible experience - and we fed most of San Carlos. The fishing has been excellent, but will probably drop off in a couple of weeks when the water cools. Andy and Amy Mendenhall of the Portland-based Rosalito landed a 40-pound dorado last week near Mulege - while under sail. Most sailboats need to troll a blunt-headed light lure to catch topwater fish, as heavy powerboat lures don't work well. I troll Zuker tuna feathers. The darker the day, the darker the color I use. In bright sun, I use bright colors. I hope to soon finish my pamphlet on how to catch fish from a cruising boat. In the meantime, we're catching and sharing lots of fish. By the way, we release almost all of the marlin we catch."

Just one problem Garth and Ken - the photo didn't come through! But thanks for the great tips. And thanks for releasing most of the marlin.

Many more berths have become available on the Baja peninsula - and apparently even way more will be available in about 18 months. The BellPort Group, a California-based marina management company, reports that the first boats have taken slips at the new Marina Costa Baja just outside of La Paz. By the end of the year the marina expects to have eight mega-yachts and another 50 smaller yachts in its "Newport Beach-quality" marina. When the complex is completed in early 2005, there will be 250 slips ranging in size from 30 to 200 feet - as well as a luxury hotel, restaurants, fuel and guest docks, vigilant 24/7 security, and free shuttle service to downtown La Paz. Marina Costa Baja features Bellingham-built concrete docks, and a double-basin marina that provides both a superb haven in bad weather and a great base for cruising and fishing in the Sea of Cortez. For complete information on the new marina, call (949) 723-7780.

And about 100 miles to the south as the crow flies, work is underway on the Puerto Los Cabos resort community near San Jose del Cabo. According to the developers, in a little more than a year they plan to open a marina with 535(!) slips between 30 and 150 feet. Because several large breakwaters will have to be built and a great amount of dredging done, skeptics suggest it may take longer to complete than planned. The Cape has needed a second marina for quite a few years, but until now nobody was willing - given the amount of breakwaters and dredging needed - to bet the numbers would work out. Assuming the marina does come to fruition, it won't be anything like Marina Cabo San Lucas, because Puerto Los Cabos will be remote, as it will be surrounded by luxury homes and two golf courses, and will have a more sedate country club atmosphere.

If you're cruising this year, we'd love to hear from you - espcially if you haven't written in before. Keep it short, include some high-res photos, and always give your boat name, boat type, your full name, and homeport. Gracias!

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