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Back to 'Changes' Index Changes in Latitudes
December 2007

Missing the pictures? See the December 2007 eBook!

With reports this month from Moontide on Singlar's marina in La Paz; Pythagoras on the Winson family's 10-month cruise in Mexico; Finalmente on cruising in France and Italy; Steve Sidell of Reba on the pleasure of Spain and Morocco; Far Niente on the end of a trip across the Pacific; Daimana on the Rio Dulce; Narwahl on the new Singlar Boatyard in Mazatlan; Espiritu on what's new in San Carlos; and a holiday sized portion of Cruise Notes.

Moontide — Lagoon 470
Bill Lilly
Singlar's Fidepaz Marina, La Paz
(Newport Beach)

Having taken a berth at the new Singlar Fidepaz Marina on the north side of La Paz in mid-November, I'd like to pass along the following information to other cruisers — especially those who are looking for a slip in the La Paz area. The marina has the capacity for about 40 boats — plus or minus a few depending on how they use the end-ties. The good news is that as of mid-November they still had about 22 slips open, so it might still be possible to get a slip in the La Paz area for the winter after all.

One downside of the brand new marina is its location, which is a bit outside of the main part of town — in much the same way that Marina Costa Baja, and to a lesser extent Marina Palmira, are a bit out of town on the other side of La Paz. However, a six peso or 60-cent bus ride solves that problem.

Getting to the marina involved a straight shot along the north shore of the bay, a leg for which there were no channel markers. Then there was another straight shot down a well-marked and dredged private channel along the west shore of La Paz. The GPS positions we were given matched perfectly with those that showed up on my chart plotter. As for depths, I never saw less than 12.5 feet in the main bay, or less than 13 feet in the private channel. Nonetheless, the marina happily sends a panga out to guide all boats in.

I found the Fidepaz staff to be very professional, although not quite as folksy as the ones at Marina de La Paz. Both are great, they just have different operating styles. The Fidepaz facilities are extensive — including a lap pool with a Jacuzzi on the upper deck of the administration building! There's also a community room, which was locked while I was there, and free Wi-Fi service, although the latter curiously gets turned off when the staff goes home for the night. I meant to talk to them about it. Showers are $1, and there is a laundry on site. They also have a boatyard with a new Travel-Lift.

When I got to the marina, most of the boats seemed to be in storage, so it was pretty quiet. But then the season was just getting started. There's a fellow from San Diego supervising the construction of a 100-ft powercat that is being built next door and will be used for booze cruises when it's done. That should liven things up.

I also attended the Governor's Cup festivities for the Ha-Ha boats and other cruisers at Marina Costa Baja in La Paz, and can report that about 100 or so folks showed up for the fun. The beer truck got lost or broke down, so they only had water and soft drinks! But what a great spread of food — beef, chicken, shrimp and pork — and none of it overcooked, as is often the case in Mexico. They even had clams on the shell.

At the end of dinner, the Costa Baja folks showed the film Ocean Oasis, which is about the Sea of Cortez and its sealife. It was both interesting and educational, with lots of great underwater footage. Ocean Oasis was filmed for IMAX theaters, so the production values and sound were terrific. All in all, it was a great cruiser welcome by the Costa Baja folks and local officials.

As for La Paz in general, the local ex-pats are still pretty much the same as when I was here two years ago with my boat, with most being helpful, but a few radio nazis and snobs making their presence known. I think it's pretty sad when a station is trying to help another boat figure out the entrance buoys and someone starts clicking their mic because they think it's inappropriate to use the the hailing channel for stuff like that. To my thinking, the hailing channel is appropriate for immediate safe navigation advice. The boats in question weren't abusing the hailing channel, but I suppose some of the people with '15,000 miles of experience in 100 years' — ha-ha — might disagree. Anyway, it's been great to be back in La Paz, where the weather has been great.

— bill 11/18/07

Pythagoras — Olson 40
The Winson Family
A Life-Changing Cruise
(Alamitos Bay, Long Beach)

Our family's 10-month, 4,000-mile cruise to and around Mexico, which started with the '06 Ha-Ha, was a truly life-altering experience. Since Latitude had a big role in making our dream come true, our family would like to thank the Grand Poobah and the entire Latitude staff for the inspiration.

I'm a longtime sailor, having purchased the Olson 40 Pythagoras with my father in '84. We'd done a lot of racing with the boat, but not much cruising other than to Catalina and Santa Cruz Island. A few years after buying Pythagoras, I married my wife Dawn. Although she's never really been a sailor, she's always had a great sense of adventure. So when she began reading the Latitudes that I left around the house, she was immediately attracted to the reports people had sent in about their cruising adventures. As with many couples, our plans for a sailing adventure of our own were delayed by my business responsibilities and then the birth of our daughters Danielle and Darbie. Nonetheless, my wife continued to dream about our family doing the Ha-Ha and cruising Mexico one day. We were further inspired by Dean and Gay Prophet, good friends who had done the Ha-Ha back in '97 with See World, their Ventura-based Sea Wolf ketch.

"It's time," Dawn told me in August of '06 — just two months before the start of last year's Ha-Ha! She explained that our girls, then 12 and 11, were growing older and soon wouldn't be interested in making such a trip with us. I accepted the challenge, so we began the task of converting our 22-year-old racing boat to a cruising boat in just two months. We had dozens of projects to complete — and were still working on them on the morning of the start of the Ha-Ha, which is why we crossed the starting line five hours late!

Here are some of the lessons we learned during our 10-month cruise:

1) A small living space — such as an Olson 40 — wasn't a bad thing for a family of four, and actually brought us closer together. We found that we had all the space we needed to do schoolwork, prepare meals, eat, sleep — and even use the head. It helped that we had a really big 'backyard'. Since there was nowhere to hide on the boat, we had to communicate with one another and work out our problems — which turned out to be a good thing. For as soon as any of us started to act out bad attitudes, we had to deal with them.

Despite having been the only sailor in the family, I have to confess that I had the biggest problem with the small living space. Before we left, I'd tried to convince Dawn that we needed a bigger boat, pointing out that the Olson 40 had been designed specifically for racing, not cruising. But Dawn and the girls never complained about how small and crowded the boat could sometimes seem. I was amazed at how well they adapted to the small space. The kids set up their little personal living spaces — and thrived in them. Once the cruise was over, they actually missed them! It took me, on the other hand, six months to get used to living on the boat. Prior to the start of our trip, I was worried that my family would want to bail and head home early. It turned out that I was the only one who entertained such thoughts.

2) Relationships are what really count. In modern life it's easy for us to be busy doing things instead of really being with others. And it was a trap I fell into on the boat, too. There was an almost endless list of things to do on the boat, both before we left and once we took off. Eventually, I had to force myself to slow down and focus on the people I was with rather than the projects that I needed to get done. As I look back over the 10 months, it's not the projects that I remember, but my family and the people who helped me complete those projects. As much fun as it was to see all the beautiful sites, my best and most fulfilling memories are of the times we spent working and playing with other cruisers.

3) That there are a lot of modern things that we could do without — and still be happy. For 10 months we went without a telephone/cell phone, television, cars, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, microwave, air-conditioning, running hot and cold water, any more than seven gallons of water a day, the news and newspapers, more than one 60-watt bulb's worth of electricity at a time, fashionable clothing, haircuts and beauty treatments, and access to just about anything anybody could need or want 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

OK, we did have a computer on board, which was our primary navigation tool, and a radar display. We also used the computer to send and receive basic text emails via our ham radio, watch the occasional DVD, and store the music we listened to. And when we stopped at a place that had wireless internet, we'd use SKYPE to call family back home. But that was pretty much it for technology.

But we did just great without all the other stuff. Sure, some jobs — like shopping for groceries and doing the laundry — were harder and took longer than back home. For example, shopping would involve going ashore in the dinghy while trying to keep from getting dunked by a wave, hauling the dinghy up on the sand, walking to where we needed to shop, carrying everything back to the dinghy, dragging it back into the water, trying not to get wet while going through the surf, and loading everything onto the boat. Yes, cruising is a very physical lifestyle — but did I mention that I dropped 15 pounds in 10 months without going on a diet? Despite the extra effort required, we still had a good time doing these jobs and tasks. For example, our family would go to the laundromat and wash and dry our clothes as a team.

4) Living in a community is the way God intended us to live. Back home in 'real life', we don't really need neighbors, because if we have problems we just hire an expert and have them solve it. But when you're on a boat in a strange place without easy access to parts and services, you really need your neighbors. No matter what problem we came across, there was always someone in the cruising community with a suggestion for solving it. In many cases, we were flat out given the parts or items we needed for repairs. On other occasions, cruisers would come to our boat and spend hours helping us. As a result, we got to know our cruising friends and acquaintances on a deeper level than we know most of our friends back home. For New Year's, just a short time into our cruise, we made a list of everyone who had helped us — and it turned out to be two type-written pages long. It felt good to get that help. So good, in fact, it kept us on the lookout for people we could help. The 'pay it forward' program really works!

5) A family adventure is easily worth the sacrifice and expense. Will your kids remember how much money you made or how many toys, games, clothes and things they were given — and ultimately threw away? Not as much as the time spent together as a family shaping their values and lives. It seems as though many parents today think their job is to make their kids' lives as easy as possible so the kids don't have the 'burdens' they did as kids. This is wrong. Kids need to experience burdens so they can learn to bear them. It may make them cry and feel frustrated in the beginning, but it's those kinds of challenges that teach patience and perseverence, and build character and self-confidence.

And when you're on a boat at sea, opportunities to bear burdens and overcome challenges abound. Our challenge as parents was to sit back and let our girls struggle with them. It took time, but we learned to just wait and let them figure out ways to deal with them on their own. We would offer support and encouragement, but we would not solve the problems for them.

6) If you're willing to persevere, a cruising adventure such as ours can transform a good marriage into a great one. (I don't, however, recommend a cruise as a means to try to fix a bad marriage.) Although Dawn and I had a good marriage before we took off, our adventure forced us to deal with issues that we'd been ignoring. And when you're cruising, you don't have all the normal distractions of modern life to keep you from evaluating your own behavior. In my case, I wasn't happy with my evaluation. I was forced to dig deep and start making some real changes in how I acted. But we all had a chance to look at ourselves and take the time to set goals for developing our characters. We challenged each other to be nicer and more caring toward one another. What we found was that we'd often been programmed to respond to each other with irritation and frustration. It wasn't easy, but we worked on responding with kindness and patience.

7) It's not that hard to afford a family cruise. You can start by making choices right now that will give you the freedom to do it later. For example, the total cost of our trip was about the same as two average new cars. Most people own their cars for three or four years, but if you keep yours for six to eight years instead, you'll have paid for your cruise. We were also able to cover the expenses on our home by finding renters. And even if you were to come back a little poorer financially, you'd be richer for the experiences you had with those you love most. I know it's not easy, because it wasn't for us. We'd been talking about it for 10 years, but, once we made the decision, things fell in place and we just made it happen.

8) A cruising adventure is not a vacation. I know friends pictured us at anchor day after day in beautiful coves with clear water and white sand beaches, lying in hammocks and sipping margaritas. In fact, before we left this was what I pictured us doing. But I think I got 30 minutes of hammock time in 10 months. Yes, we did anchor in some beautiful places, but with home-schooling and boat maintenance, the times to relax were few and far between. When you go on vacation for a week or two, you can put everything in your life on hold. But when you go for an extended period of time, life goes on, and you have to keep up. We still had to do our taxes, balance the checkbook, pay bills, follow up on problems with our house, and closely watch our budget. Plus, our boat required constant work. Stuff was frequently breaking or in need of maintenance. And a boat is not like a house, where you can just ignore many of the problems. Still, we found that being busy was just another habit, and somehow we found ways to stay busy even when we had very little to do. After about three months, I remember saying to Dawn, "I'm so busy that I haven't read a single book!" And taking time to read books had been one of my goals for the trip. Even 'out there', everything still came down to the choices we made in how we prioritized and conducted our lives.

9) It's important to slow down! For me, part of slowing down was learning to become a better captain — and husband and father. In the beginning, I felt that I had to do all the sailing stuff myself, as it was faster and easier that way. But two months into the trip, I was completely exhausted, hating the trip, and even wanting to return home. Instead of doing everything myself, I decided that I had to try to become a teacher and coach, and not just a person who did it all. Teaching Dawn and the girls how to do the stuff I had been doing had multiple benefits. First, putting the girls to work made life for Dawn and me easier. And, as the girls developed their skills and gained confidence, I was able to relax more. Second, Dawn and the girls became much more confident in the boat and in themselves, the latter being something that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. Finally, I became more fun because I stopped being a stress biscuit, running around the boat with my hair on fire and complaining about everything.

Wow, how time flew! As I write this, it's been 10 months almost to the day since we left San Diego on the start of our 4,000-mile voyage. The unfortunate thing about all great adventures is that they have to come to an end. While it's great to be back home in the United States, we have so many wonderful memories. Among them:

1) The sail from Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo San Lucas on the last leg of the Ha-Ha. For that part of the trip we'd been joined by my dad, Bob, Dawn's step-dad, Ken, and Tim Celek, a family friend. After months of work preparing the boat and our home, we'd really had to scramble to make the start, and were still hours late. After making two stops on the 11-day trip to Cabo, our last night of sailing was one of those that made all the effort seem worthwhile. We were sailing with the spinnaker up in about 15 knots of wind, the night sky was full of bright stars, it was warm enough that we only needed shorts and T-shirts, and Dawn had just made a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. Our entire seven-person crew sat in the cockpit together, gazing at the sky, talking, relaxing and eating the warm cookies as the boat gently glided through the clear and warm water. Sailing just doesn't get any better than it was that night!

2) The time a 30-foot humpback whale surfaced within an arm's length of our overcrowded small dinghy at Isla Isabella is something none of us will soon forget! The island is known as 'the Galapagos of Mexico' because of all the amazing wildlife that lives there. It's also a mating ground for humpback whales, and there were whales everywhere. Anchored in a small bay, we decided to go ashore, we being the four in our family and our five friends from Hakuna Matata — or a total of nine in our little 11-ft dinghy. While still about 200 yards offshore, this huge whale — they look much bigger when they are right next to you in real life — surfaced next to us. Part of his body was under our dinghy and part of him was right next to us. We all assumed that he'd flip his tail and we'd all be going for a swim. But instead he just gently pushed his tail in the water, moving on without disturbing our little dinghy. We remained dry — and breathless.

3) The time in La Paz when Danielle bravely swam a line to shore to rescue our disabled boat. We'd just left the dock when our engine died, leaving us adrift in the channel and unable to maneuver. I decided that I would grab a line and swim it to the dock, then pull our boat back in. Dawn thought it would be a better idea if I stayed on the boat while she swam the line in. "No," our daughter Danielle quickly interrupted, "I'm a better swimmer, so I'll do it!" And she did! It was awesome to see our young daughter act so selflessly to assist her family and rescue the boat. It was a chance for her to be a young 'hero' that she won't forget.

4) The dinner conversation on a $15 million, 115-ft megayacht. The dinner was delicious and the $15 million yacht was incredible, but what made the memory was our dinner conversation with the woman who owned the yacht. She inquired about what we were doing, and, after hearing about it, looked at us intently and asked, "How can I do what you guys are doing?" I was stunned. How could it be that someone who obviously had many millions, wanted to do what we were doing, but didn't think she could? It was a great lesson in life that money doesn't necessarily bring happiness or freedom. In fact, the woman seemed to be a slave to her business and lifestyle. Her life looked so attractive from the outside, but she just really wanted to have a simple adventure like ours — but couldn't figure out how to do it.

5) The way we handled the dreaded Baja Bash, the 750-mile upwind and upcurrent slog back to California. It turned out to be an incredible culmination of our voyage in more ways than one. During our time in Mexico, I'd always planned for Dawn and the girls to fly home, while some friends and I would do the Bash. But as I thought about it, I realized that a Bash would be an important finale to our family adventure, bringing everything full circle. I also knew that it would be a lasting memory precisely because it would be difficult. For if you think about it, the great stories we tell about ourselves are the ones in which we endured hardship yet prevailed. Anyone can look good during the easy times; it's when it's tough that character shows.

It was good that the Bash was at the end of our adventure, because if it had been at the beginning, it still would have been the end — if you know what I mean. Frankly, we wouldn't have been up to the challenge if it had been at the beginning of our cruise. We barely made it going downwind to Cabo, and that was many times easier. We needed the lessons we'd learned during 9.5 months on the boat to do the Bash. Indeed, the Bash tested us in everything we'd learned in the previous months, and we worked better as a team than I ever could have imagined — despite enduring great discomfort. Our family hung together without complaint for those final rough eight days and seven nights — an excellent character builder.

The bottom line is that we had an awesome and life-altering trip. We hope our story can help your dreams of cruising adventures become a reality.

— dale 10/10/07

Finalmente — Dolphin 460 Cat
Ni and Krissy Orsi
Cruising France and Italy
(Stockton Sailing Club)

Since arriving in Santa Margherita, Ligure, Italy, on May 26 from Aracaju, Brazil, having sailing 5,900 miles on our new cat with my delivery crew, my wife Krissy and I have added another 2,440 miles this summer sailing in French and Italian waters. We have now visited most of Corsica and Elba, great islands with lots of sand beaches and little bays in which to anchor. Later, we sailed from Santa Margherita to St. Tropez, France, and back. Then we were off again to Corsica, before ending up at the Cannes Boat Show — where Finalmente was the first Dolphin 460 to be shown to the European market. She was a hit!

Two weeks ago, we sailed south down the Italian coast once again, but this time to put Finalmente away for the winter at La Spezia. However, before putting her away, we sailed around the Portovenere area, and found several very good anchorages with excellent restaurants. Now that our cat has been put away for the winter, we are heading back to Stockton to visit friends we have missed. But we will return to our boat next February 23, with the intention of sailing south to revisit Elba and Corsica, then continue on down to Sardinia, Capri and Sicily.

— ni 11/10/07

Reba — Celestial 48
Steve and Jamie Sidells
Spain, Morocco, Canary Islands
(Incline Village, Nevada)

Before Steve joined Dudley Nigg’s circumnavigating Island Packet 45 Happy Now, the two of us enjoyed a grand land tour of southern Spain. We mention this because Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga all have world-class cultural and historic sights. We particularly recommend the art galleries and Royal Palace in Madrid, the Mesquita in Cordoba, and the Alhambra in Granada. So if you're cruising the Mediterranean coast of Spain, be sure to get off your boat and take the tour! Spain’s RENFE trains provide a convenient way to travel to these places from the coast. It's most enjoyable if you do this kind of sightseeing in the cooler months. Now here's Steve's report from being on Happy Now:

The often light and variable winds of the Med made our travels along the southern coast of Spain mostly motorsails. However, Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains added majestic and interesting scenery. The small coastal towns have marinas full of small pleasure craft, yet we've found that the harbormasters worked hard to find berthing for visiting cruisers. The ambience at these places is wonderful, and the basic supplies are always at hand.

After leaving the large tourist center of Torremolinos, we crossed to the small Spanish enclave of Ceuta (Thay-U-ta) on the coast of North Africa. Since it's a duty-free island and less frequently visited, diesel was about 75% of the price on peninsular Spain. There was also more economical berthing and less congestion than in the busy port of Gibraltar, which was in view across the strait of the same name.

The month-long observance of Ramadan was well underway in Morocco when we arrived. Since Morocco’s Atlantic ports aren't known for having lots of accommodations for cruising boats, we had low expectations, but decided to give them a try anyway. So we kept close to shore on our overnight passage to Mohammedia, just north of Casablanca. We encountered many strange quick-flashing red and yellow lights during our night passage, and at first thought that they were offshore oil wells. But then we noticed that they slowly moved around. We later learned that Moroccan fishermen hold to a different standard of navigation lights, as during the holidays they think nothing of decorating their boats with little flashing lights.

It turned out that Mohammedia has a small marina with room for up to 12 cruising boats. This marina provided a place to keep our boat while we took off on what turned out to be a wonderful Moroccan adventure. In the course of eight days, Dudley and I spent about 20 hours on trains to the north and south, visiting places such as Casablanca, Marrakech, Rabat and Fez — and all at low cost. The latter three cities have millennium-old sections still enclosed by medieval fortress walls, as well as more modern French-built sections laid out along grand boulevards.

Marrakech was my favorite. It has beautifully decorated minarets, intriguing souks — which are the twisting, cloth-covered alleys with seemingly endless stalls full of exotic goods — snake charmers, monkey trainers, brightly dressed water men, and even storks nesting atop the ancient walls. As night fell during Ramadan, chants could be heard from the minarets, and the day-long fast without food and water ended. Because special meals are served during Ramadan, all the tables in the restaurants were set with that meal, just waiting for the customers. I tried this at McDonalds, but added the special McAfrique sandwich. It was spicy and delicious.

Morocco is a land of beautiful mosques, some of which are gigantic, such as the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca. Most Moroccans speak either Arabic or Berber as well as French, but English is not uncommon among the more educated. You can bargain on most items and services in Morocco and get 20-35% off. The exception are rides in the ubiquitous ‘petite taxis’, which always seem to cost $1.25 U.S.

All the Moroccans were very friendly, and the port and Immigration officials weren't a problem at all. As soon as Ramadan ended, there were suddenly people everywhere. And once it was over, a local told us people weren't "grumpy" anymore.

A 72-hour light air sail brought us to the volcanic wonderland that is the Canary Islands. In case you're wondering, the islands aren't named after the birds of the same name, but rather the birds were named after the islands. The Island's name comes from the Latin canus, as early Romans discovered large dogs when they first arrived.

Our first stop was at the main fishing village on the northernmost island of La Graciosa. I marveled to find that all the buildings in the village were seemingly new or at least newly painted white, with all doors and window frames painted the same shade of blue. The buildings were bordered with narrow tile sidewalks, while the roads were smooth packed sand. All the fishing boats were carefully painted. There was not a speck of trash anywhere. It reminded me of the beautiful island of Santorini in Greece, except without the blue cupolas and the crowds of tourists. A new Travel-Lift at the boatyard allows do-it-yourselfers the opportunity for a low-cost haulout.

We then sailed to Puerto Calero on neighboring Lanzarote, where we found that all villages on this much larger island had the same uniform color scheme and care as on Graciosa. Amazing! I asked why this was so, and was told that the people of Lanzarote realize they are living in a privileged place, a place where they should work closely with their environment. Puerto Calero is home to a first-rate marina with great docks, hospitality, restaurants and services — a place we would recommend to any sailor. A major regatta was underway while we were there, featuring a boat that belongs to King Juan Carlos of Spain.

A UNESCO biosphere reserve site, Lanzarote is a must-see destination with remarkably unique features. With my interest in geology and planetary history, I found our trip to Timanfaya National Volcanic Park to be an astonishing journey through a display of the volcanic power that has shaped our earth. Many large stratovolcano calderas show evidence of mighty prehistoric explosions, probably greater than the 1883 explosion at Krakatoa. Before leaving, we saw the artificial geyser and watched food being grilled by subterranean volcanic heat. Then, in the volcanic ash covering most of the island, we found semicircular stone-ringed 10’ diameter circular pits, each of which held an individual grape vine. This is the unique viniculture of Lanzarote. Try the wine and the island — both are great.

We next called on the port of Gran Tarajal on Fuerteventura, another arid island. We found an interesting local cultural program in progress, all free, on a comfortable fall evening. Next was Las Palmas on the more tropically lush Gran Canary Island, which was then preparing to hot several hundred boats gathering for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. There wasn't enough room for those of us not entered in the ARC.

We continued on to Tenerife, the island of mountains and bananas. It's home to Pico de Teide, which, at 12,200 feet, is the tallest mountain in Spain. Using a combination of a car, tram, and foot, we almost made it to the top. But from far above the scattered clouds, we could see clear evidence of an even mightier volcanic explosion than on Lanzarote. The caldera was formed some 170,000 years ago, and the high peak we climbed had been formed after that. The panoramic view was superb.

Whether you go by air or by boat, Spain, Morocco, and the Canaries have sights that are well worth the visit.

— jaime and steve 11/05/07

Far Niente — Island Packet 42
Eric & Gisela Gosch
The End Is Almost Near

Today is the third day of our passage from Tonga to New Zealand, and we've been making great time. The sun is shining in a mostly cloudless sky, but we're moving out of the tropics, so there's already a bite in the air.

A light rain bade us farewell as we weighed anchor Saturday morning, exited Egeria Channel, and finally rounded Tongatapu’s western point into the open ocean. Ours was but one of about 20 boats beginning our passage to "the land of the long white cloud". As we motorsailed the first 24 hours in light winds, the number of boats around us slowly dwindled from six to three, and finally to none at all. Although we can’t see any of the others now, we are within 15 to 30 miles of them, and are keeping in contact via VHF radio and email. Normally we'd also use our SSB radio, but it's on the fritz. Most of us have decided to skip the Minerva Reefs because of our late starting date and our need to get south fast ahead of developing weather. The light winds at the start weren't much help getting us on our way down to New Zealand, but they were perfect for landing a nice yellowtail tuna on the first evening. A short time later, the winds kicked up to beyond the 20-25 knots that were forecast, and came from the east rather than the south. Fortunately, this allowed us to rip on down the rhumbline, averaging 8+ knots. In 24 hours we logged a personal best of 205 miles, cutting our expected passage time by a full day.

How sweet that very fast day was, considering that we had to wait — patiently and otherwise — in Nukua'lofa for 19 days — the same amount of time it took us to do our Puddle Jump — to get a favorable weather forecast for the long and sometimes dangerous passage to New Zealand. We guess the weather wizards knew what they were talking about when they told us to stay put.

Although seemingly never-ending, our days in Nuku’alofa were spent hanging around with the crews of 30 other boats. We went in and around town, eating, provisioning — again and again — and reading Time magazines from the previous months. We also enjoyed play days at Big Mama’s YC, just off our anchorage on Pangaimotu Island. Ping-pong, bocce ball, hula hoops, volleyball, a Halloween pirate party, and lots of beers and fish & chip dinners kept everyone happy — including Big Mama. In fact, the day we left the anchorage, Big Mama got on the VHF to wish us all a safe passage and thank us for bringing them so much business. For not wanting to be there, in retrospect we certainly had a great time.

Forecasts call for light winds again today, tomorrow, and possibly Wednesday. But an intense high over Australia may push a trough over New Zealand and then right into us on Wednesday and Thursday. That would bring very cold air and strong southerlies — which would mean we'd have to head west a bit, then south again before making landfall in Whangarei. We hope to get as many miles under us now in calm weather to minimize our exposure to the later system, but we should arrive on Friday nonetheless.
We're now quietly biding our final days on Far Niente, settling once again into three-hour watches, reading, sleeping, doing small boat chores, figuring out Kakuro, and playing Up-Words. Our fridge and freezer are full, so we’re also aiming to finish off all our fresh food before landfall. In order to avoid the introduction of foreign pests and diseases, New Zealand has very strict laws about what can and cannot be brought into the country. Although actual practice varies, most boats are boarded and thoroughly inspected for a laundry list of prohibited goods — including fresh foods, honey, feathers, seeds (including those in jewelry), pesticides, and so forth. Boat and dinghy hulls are also inspected for barnacles and algae, tennis shoes for grasses and soil. We have done our due diligence in preparation, and hope to pass muster.

Sadly, the end of our fantastic South Pacific adventure is near, and we're soon to be landlubbers again. It's only four or five days until landfall, and then just four another until we fly home. Where has the time gone!? It seems like only yesterday that we were itching to leave Puerto Vallarta. Since then we’ve sailed over 6,000 miles, visited seven countries and 35 islands, gathered a lifetime's worth of memories — and finally experienced the art of Far Niente!

— eric & gisela 11/10/07

Damiana — Manta 42 Cat
Roy & Marlene Verderey
The Rio Dulce, Guatemala

With our catamaran having survived the summer well at her berth at Monkey Bay Marina on Guatemala's Rio Dulce, we had her taken out on rails at Astillero Magdalena for a new bottom. Astillero has been in business for 25 years and does all the work on TMM charter boats based in Belize, so they have extensive experience. They've also hauled a lot of bigger charter cats, so our boat's 20-ft beam was no problem for them. Abel, the yard's manager, is the son of the original owner, so everyone has come to refer to the yard as Abel's instead of Astillero.

Ram Marine, another yard nearby, recently opened their doors for business. They have a Travel-Lift and jack stands as opposed to rails. We've been told that they can handle boats with beams as great as 22.5 feet. They also provide dry storage. With over 200 cruising boats on the Rio Dulce, it would seem that there's more than enough work to keep two yards busy.

Mar Marine, a combo marina/hotel/chandlery just across the way from Ram Marine, has marine gear and gets supplies shipped in from West Marine and Port Supply. In addition, they carry a small supply of everyday items. There is also a ferreteria in town that sells some boat items such as chain, and Tienda Reed, located at the foot of the bridge, carries a variety of hardware, goods, propane and other supplies.

We've visited several of the other marinas besides ours, and discovered that most of them have restaurants that welcome diners from the outside. Bruno's, which is actually a marina/hotel/restaurant, is located at the foot of the bridge in Fronteras, and has a long dinghy dock that they allow everyone to use while shopping in town.

The main street in Fronteras is part of the main north-south highway, and is therefore busy all day and well into the night with truck, bus and vehicular traffic. The street is lined with food stalls and tiendas selling everything from candy to appliances. There is one small supermarket where we purchase our staples and even BBQ'd chickens. I usually purchase all our produce on the street, then stow my bags in a locker inside the supermarket while I pick up meats and other items that need refrigeration. There’s also a small tienda in Bruno’s that stocks gourmet cheeses, olives and other hard-to-find treats. Similarly, Miriam's, another tienda at the water's edge, stocks jars and cans of just about anything you’d ever want, as well as wines and liquors. Across the street from her tienda is a pizza restaurant that bakes fresh whole wheat bread every day. In other words, there's no need to go anywhere else for staples or treats, as they're all right here in the Rio.

There's also no need to go anywhere to meet Ha-Ha vets. Yesterday some folks returned to their boat in Monkey Bay Marina for the season, and they turned out to be Ron and Bette Vallerga of the Mountain Ranch-based Pearson 390 Frances V, vets of the '02 Ha-Ha. And next week we expect Ron Olson and Yen Trinh of the Oxnard-based Hunter 42 Moonlight, veterans of the '04 Ha-Ha, to return to their boat in a marina close to ours.

Tomorrow I’ll get on the local net and ask if there are others boats here in the Rio that participated in Ha-Ha's so we can have a get-together.

— roy and marlene 10/18/07

Narwhal — Falmouth Cutter
Michael Latta
New Singlar Boatyard In Mazatlan

Last week I hauled my 22-ft Falmouth Channel Cutter Narwhal at Singlar's big new boatyard facility next door to Marina Mazatlan, as I needed to complete an engine installation and take care of the usual maintenance items. The yard had been open and hauling boats for about two months, and they were running smoothly, having apparently worked all the kinks out. The physical plant and associated equipment are absolutely first-class, and I've found the workers to be professional, open, and always ready to help.

The Supervisor of both Operations and Administration is Jared Martinez, who, along with Administrations head Alma Magro, run a well-oiled ship. For example, the paperwork for my haul and launch was minimal. By the way, it cost me just under $180 for both ways, which I think is reasonable. The only way I could have done it cheaper was to careen on a tidal flat. For boats from 31 to over 51 feet, the price is between $7.14 and $8.82 a foot, but doesn't include tax.

The old 'build it and they will come' adage seems to be true here, as several major marine repair and general maintenance organizations have leased workshop space in the Singlar facility, and more will be arriving soon. Bob Buchanan’s Total Yacht Services was selected by Singlar to move in as a kind of 'anchor tenant'. As the biggest Yanmar dealer on the Pacific coast of Mexico, Canadian Buchanan — who is well-known to many cruisers — and his business have become a magnet for engine repair and services. His installation of my new Yanmar two-cylinder is almost complete, and I hope to start giving waterskiing lessons as soon as I’m back in the water.

C&C Marine Services is another company that is very busy and doing good work. They just completed a tough blister job on Narwhal, and will be doing all the barrier coats and bottom paint, too. The folks at Grupo Naval are available for fiberglass and bottom jobs, as well as other maintenance work. So the resources are here for just about any fix-it problem a sailor might have. Also coming to the boatyard are a chandlery, stainless steel fabrication business, sail loft, grocery store, and a cafe and restaurant. Singlar also has inside storage space rentals, wet and dry outside boat storage, a token-operated laundromat, and free Wi-Fi.

In addition, the Pemex fuel dock is now open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. You just need to call Claudia, the manager, for an appointment. The fuel dock is an easy in and out, and has 10 feet of water at low tide.

My favorite Singlar feature? Whenever I get tired of working in the hot sun — which is most of the time — I can simply climb the steps to the rooftop swimming pool and Jacuzzi, and hop in. There's nothing like looking over the edge of a pool to supervise work on your boat.

Jared tells me that Fonatur, the Mexican tourist development agency that is also their parent company, has been in contact with the government to widen and deepen the main harbor entrance that leads to Marina El Cid, Marina Mazatlan and Singlar. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Sure, it would make it much safer in bad weather, but it would also mean that the richy-rich folks with their 100 and 200-ft boats could get in, and there would go the neighborhood — not to mention the berth rates.

— michael 11/10/07

Espiritu — Hunter 430
Pat & Carole McIntosh
The New Captain's Club

Our boat has just been splashed after our first experience of putting our boat back together after a summer on the hard at Marina Seca in San Carlos. The folks here do a first-class job of running a marina, storage yard, and work yard, and a cruiser can do as much or as little of the work as they want. It's nice to have the opportunity to save money by doing your own work.

Espiritu wasn’t as dirty as we had feared she might be, but thanks to so many cruising friends from last year showing up in November, we found it hard to stick to our work schedule. It was just so much fun getting reacquainted with all those friends while getting ready to relaunch. Among them were Doug and Marci Sanford of the Lacey-based Island Packet 380 Charm, Les Sutton and Diane Grant of the Alameda-based Albin-Nimbus 42 Gemini, Vic and Roberta Kelley of the Sonora-based F/P 45 cat Apollo II — all from last year's Ha-Ha — and Canadians Barry and Ann from Cat's Paw IV.

The following is what we believe would be some worthwhile information for members of the Ha-Ha fleet — as well as anyone else who has sailed down — about the San Carlos area: Marina Seca is putting the final touches on a large addition to the storage yard so they will be able to accommodate even more boats. They already have over 500 boats in storage. The new Singlar Marina is now open in Guaymas, giving cruisers even more options. But some of the best news is that there's a great new cruisers' hangout, called the Captain's Club, across the street from the Marinaterra Hotel, which means it's an easy walk from San Carlos Marina. The Captain's Club was opened by Mike Napolitani, the young sailor who owns the Trintella 29 Yoli. Although Mike has crewed to Hawaii, since '02 he's spent most of his time cruising in the Sea of Cortez. His place offers good drinks at happy hour prices all day, but you gotta try the fish soup! The Captain’s Club has all the information cruisers need, does LP gas pickups, offers free wi-fi, has many other services, and is staffed by some wonderful locals.

Last year we got as far south as Zihua for SailFest, but this year we'll stay mostly in the Sea of Cortez. Thanks once again for being the catalyst that got us to head south in the Ha-Ha last year, as we're lovin' it down here. We're looking forward to visiting new places and seeing old friends as we continue with our cruising life. Incidently, your response to the "annual whiner's letter about the Ha-Ha" was much more reserved than many of ours would have been.

— pat & carole 11/07/07

Cruise Notes:

We know that the slip situation in the Cabo, La Paz, Banderas Bay, and Navidad areas is tight this winter, but don't give up all hope. There are always people whose cruising dreams fall through for a year or so, opening up some berths. For example, 29 of the 179 paid entries in the Ha-Ha didn't show — a typical percentage — and a few of the boats that did start returned to San Diego. As a result, a number of boats that had reservations at marinas in Mexico couldn't use them. So while you can't count on anything, if you're near a marina and don't have a reservation, there's no harm in calling them and saying, "I understand that you're probably full, but do you have any last-minute cancellations?" And here's a big tip — being nice counts.

It will also be interesting to see what effect the addition of the new berths at the soon-to-officially-be-open Puerto Los Cabos Marina in San Jose del Cabo and Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz will have on slip supply and demand in Mexico's prime cruiser grounds. Los Cabos is opening up 70 slips this month, with another 100 to follow by next winter. Riviera Nayarit is expected to have 260 available by the end of February. The good news is that the majority of slips in both marinas are 50 feet or longer. The less good news is that both marinas cost a fortune to build and are in areas where real estate has been appreciating at an explosive rate, so don't be expecting any bargains. If you're looking for greater certainty in getting a berth, or lower cost berths, it's best to go further north into the Sea of Cortez or further south to Ixtapa. Before anyone gets too bummed about the situation in Mexico, we want to remind everyone that Mexico is full of great places to anchor — for free. And that the low-cost way to leave your boat if you have to return to the States is leave it on the hook with some responsible buddyboats watching over her. This is commonly done in places such Punta Mita, La Cruz, Tenacatita Bay and Zihua.

"Instead of returning to Marmaris, Turkey, we had our Beneteau 37.5 Limerance shipped back to the U.S.," report Doug and Judy Decker, who were from San Diego when they started their cruise with the '00 Ha-Ha. "In September our boat was loaded onto a Dockwise Yacht Transport ship, and a few weeks later arrived in Fort Lauderdale. The ship was packed with large motoryachts and just two sailboats. Everything onboard our boat was in perfect condition. After a couple of days, we moved Limerance up the Intracoastal Waterway to Soverel Marina in Palm Beach Gardens. We were impressed with the marina facilities and the shopping in that area. From now on, we'll be landlubbers at Pawley's Island, South Carolina, and will vacation on our boat and cruise Florida and the Bahamas at our leisure.

"It's been quite an adventure to live aboard Limerance since April of '98 and sail with her through so many countries," the couple continue. "We don't have a favorite place because each had something unique to offer. Nonetheless, we think it would be hard to beat Panama's San Blas Islands, both for beautiful water and exotic culture. We spent three months anchoring among the San Blas Islands, enjoying true island life — which means going without things we normally take for granted, such as grocery stores and laundromats. Once we got to Europe, our highlights were spending seven months in Barcelona, and an even longer time in Rome. We eventually passed through the Messina Straits past Sicily, around the 'boot' of Italy, and north through the Adriatic. After cruising Croatia and Montenegro, we stopped in Albania for a few days on our way to Greece. While Albania is not quite ready for tourists, it was interesting to see a country that has been completely isolated from the western world for so many years. We eventually sailed through the Greek Islands to Bodrum, Turkey. The countries we saw were so rich in culture and history! But to our thinking, it's hard to imagine a more beautiful place than St. Jean Cap Ferrat in France, or the island of Capri off the coast of Naples. The final conclusion to our trip, after Greece and Turkey, was exploring the city of Istanbul on the way back to the States. What a great time we've had!"

If you've already read this month's Letters, you know that Jim and Dianne Currah of the Nanaimo, British Columbia-based Beneteau Idylle 11.5 Praire Oyster 1, had a less than satisfactory experience with an officer at the San Diego Harbor Police Station. But just before we went to press, they wanted to let everyone know that they had an experience on their way to Cabo that renewed their faith in human nature.

"After departing San Diego, we spent five days in Ensenada, which was great except when the two cruise ships in port made everything too crowded. After a nice sail for an overnight at the north end of Cedros Islands, we took off the next morning — only to have our diesel start banging and die. So I strapped our 6 hp Suzuki on the boarding ladder, and by 3 p.m. managed to limp into Cedros Harbor and tie up at the dock. The next morning, Port Captain Issac Vargas stamped our papers and then, during his time off, came down to our boat to troubleshoot and help repair our diesel! He found that our primary problems were a broken keyway on the primary gear, which put the timing out, and three bent push rods and two broken rocker arms. He took the bad parts to the salt processing plant, where he had the rods straightened and the rocker arms welded. Then, over a three-day period, he helped us put the motor back together. What's more, he invited us to join his family and friends for a lobster barbecue at the island's North Point! We tried to pay Vargas for his services, but he refused! What incredible kindness! The last time I paid a mechanic, it was about $50/hour. Vargas said that we should replace the rods and rocker arms with new ones, something we plan to do upon arrival in La Paz. But there you have it, the yin and yang of our experiences with port officials. The one at Isla Cedros more than made up for the one in San Diego."

Where, every reader will want to know, did Jim and Dianne find a diesel mechanic north of the border who will work for $50/hour?

"For the record, Aimless, Jim Olson's Hunter 42 from Spokane, with Paul Mathews and Ryan Goodman, both of Whidbey Island, as crew, was the first boat to take a berth at the new Marina Riviera Nayarit," reports Mathews. "We arrived on November at 12, having sailed from Cabo two days earlier. The other boats didn't arrive until three or four days later."

It's been duly noted.

If you're reading this issue of Latitude in early December, it will be while a fleet of up to 240 boats — an all-time record — in the 22nd annual Atlantic Rally for Cruisers are making their 2,900-mile way across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia in the West Indies. The only West Coast entry in this granddaddy of all cruising rallies, which started on November 22, is Jerry and Karen Eaton's Belvedere-based Hallberg-Rassy 43 Blue Heron. Having already cruised 14,000 miles in Europe, Karen is leaving the ARC to her husband and his friends. Latitude hopes that Blue Heron — as well as everybody else in the ARC — has as wonderful an ARC as we did with our Ocean 71 Big O back in '94.

"If anyone has considered heading to the South Pacific, but isn't quite sure if it would be worth it, rest easy, because it's truly wonderful," report Rod and Elisabeth Lambert of Alameda. While they are the owners of the Swan 41 Proximity, they cruised 2,200 miles across the South Pacific aboard Orange Coast College's S&S 65 Alaska Eagle, a former Whitbread Around the World Race winner.

"For the most part we had warm weather, and we enjoyed classic tradewind sailing and sunbathing on deck with the spinnaker up. Of course, we also did some close-hauled sailing in winds to 32 knots, too, but Eagle was made for conditions such as that. It was all pretty great sailing. The real special part, however, was visiting the islands. Fiji wasn't the best of all places, however. Suva was a bit of a downer, so as soon as you can provision, you want to get to Fiji's outer islands. In addition, there are political and cultural problems in that country, as the native-born Fijians are laid-back islanders, while the ethnic Indians, brought to Fiji by the Brits, are wound-up business folks. So it's turned out that the Indians own all the businesses and the Fijians do all the work for them. And the Indians have nice houses while the Fijians live in squalor. Vanuatu, on the other hand, was a treasure. We visited both Tanna and Efate. The former was rural and primitive — no shoes, grass houses, and dugout canoes — and nothing but dugout canoes. It's real National Geographic stuff. On top of that, the people were the most friendly and unspoiled that we've ever met. We had many wonderful experiences with them. Sydney was another surprise, as it was so clean, totally cosmopolitan, and the people were so friendly. In fact, for our money it was cleaner, more friendly, and more cosmopolitan than San Francisco. We'd live there in a heartbeat! We left Eagle at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the club that puts on the Sydney Hobart Race."

The Lamberts further noted the critical importance of taking immediate and thorough care of all cuts in the tropics. "One crewmember cut his leg on coral in Vanuatu. He didn't take care of it properly, so it became infected. He had to be emergency evacuated off the boat some 200 miles off the coast of Australia. It was pretty dramatic."

Speaking of Ocean 71s, as we were on the last page, Antioch's Max Young, who is doing a long circumnavigation aboard his Perry 47/50 Reflections, had this to report from Turkey:

"A sistership to Big O, which like my Perry 47/50 had a stern extensive, moored next to us in Turkey. The owner said she was built in '76, but she was in bristol condition. As for us, we left Thailand last January, and arrived in Turkey in April. The Red Sea is one nasty place to sail, so I can undestand why so many boats are lost there. For if you're not faced with a northerly wind and sea, you have the red sand blowing off the Sahara Desert and into your face. I've washed my boat about 20 times after leaving the Red Sea, and am still getting red sand draining from the lines as well as cracks and crevices. And forget about going into marinas, as there just aren't many there. The best place to wait out high winds is in the marshes. We worked the east side of the Red Sea, which is the old tall ship route, and we encountered a lot less wind and headseas than did the flotilla that went up the west side. The problem with going up the east side is you can't stop in Saudi Arabia, so you need to fuel up in Yemen, not forgetting to fill your jerry cans, too. We stayed close to the freighter lanes, found errors in the charts, islands that weren't marked, abandoned oil rigs that were cut off about a meter above water level, and other hazards. And you don't want to anchor on the Egyptian side unless it is marked that you can do so, or else you'll have to pay a heavy fine if caught. They are very protective of their coral — and rightly so, as it's the most brilliantly colored coral that I've ever seen."

"Having not seen anything in the last Latitude, we want to report that Mi Baru, a large Mexican-owned motoryacht, burned in a spectacular fire at Marina Palmira in La Paz on October 20," reports Robin Aitken Hardy of the San Pedro-based wood trawler, The Cat's Meow. "Although our boat was 150 feet away, the flames were so big that it became rather hot on our aft deck, and was purrrty scary for quite a while. We monitored the huge fire carefully, and were prepared to take action if our boat was threatened. We're told that after the fire started, the crew was unable to put the flames out with their fire extinguishers. The burning boat was pushed/towed to a small dock next to the breakwater to get her away from all the other boats. Unfortunately, this put her right next to Sunbreak, a sailboat with a non-functioning engine that had a woman, her two children, a dog, a cat and a turtle aboard. Fortunately, a young Mexican man with a dinghy took a man off the burning boat, then assisted Marina Palmira workers and their panga in towing Sunbreak to another dock. In less than 30 minutes, every bit of fire-fighting equipment in La Paz, from all the fire trucks to the Pemex fire boat, were on hand battling the fire. And battle the fireman did, often putting themselves in harm's way. While Mi Baru was a lost cause, they did manage to contain the fire. After several hours, two pangas towed the still-burning boat out of the harbor — which was risky in itself. Left at the edge of the channel with the Pemex fireboat on standby, Mi Baru continued to burn for another day or two. Any boat fire is sad, but a big boat fire in a marina is very scary. I hope to never see another."

"We're on our way from Isla Providencia, Colombia, to Guatemala's Rio Ducle — with a few stops in between — reports Jerry Blakeslee, formerly of the East Bay, but more recently of St. Martin in the West Indies. "Our next stop with my NAB 38 Islomania will be Roatan, Honduras, where hopefully there will be an internet that's not quite so slow as the one that I'm using now. We had a decent sail from Bocas del Toro, Panama, where we spent the hurricane season, to Isla San Andreas, Colombia — except for a couple of medium squalls. Then it was a long and slow 55 miles to Providencia. The problem was that we had light northeast winds on the nose, and Islomania's not at her best in that stuff."

"After four great seasons in Mexico, it's time to broaden our horizons a bit," report Chris and Heather Stockard of the Juneau-based Saga 43 Legacy. "Our current plans call for us to be in Huatulco for New Year's, spend the spring in Central America, and get the boat to Ecuador for summer. Heather will be researching food for a Central America version of her recently published Cruising Cook's Guide to Mexico, while Chris will be sampling Heather's creations and doing dishes. Ira and Minnow, our Portugeuse water dogs, will be on guard."

"We've just arrived in New Zealand after our third Puddle Jump," reports Bob Bechler of the Portland-based Gulfstar 44 ketch Sisiutl. "But this is the furthest west that I've gone, as the other two ended in Hawaii. I haven't been here long, but so far I love New Zealand! As soon as we sailed into the Bay of Islands, I was reminded of the Pacific Northwest — rain included! We're now in Opua and hoping to see more of the country."
"I just finished delivering Chris Maher's Alameda-based Beneteau First 42 Blarney 4 from the new Puerto Los Cabos Marina at San Jose del Cabo to San Diego," reports Wayne Maretsky. "We made it in just 5 days and 18 hours, having only stopped for 55 minutes in Turtle Bay for fuel, during which time we didn't even anchor. Thanks to VHF contact with Welcome Passage, another northbound Ha-Ha boat, we had arranged for 70 gallons of diesel to be ready for us. We paid just $2.40/gallon, and, for the first time ever, felt as though each gallon was indeed a gallon. We had consistently light northwest winds for the delivery. We did manage to motorsail a bit, but mostly just motored on the rhumbline. The highest true winds we saw were 14 knots for a few hours just south of Mag Bay, while the more typical conditions were 5 to 8 knots, allowing us to average a hair under 5.5 knots."

When it comes to doing a Baja Bash, you can't hope for much better conditions than that.

Is it easier to get from the East Coast of the United States to the tropics, as in the Caribbean 1500, or from the West Coast to the tropics, as in the Baja Ha-Ha? Just ask Ci Ci Saylor, the popular summer shoreboat driver at Two Harbors, Catalina. As crew aboard Jeff Edwards' Brewer 52 Night Heron, one of 70 boats in the 1500, they had three lovely days of sailing in the first week of November to start the event. On the fourth day, they got pummeled by 35-ft winds, gusting to 40, with 15-ft seas. Then, in the middle of the night, of course, they were hit by a 50-knot gust that shredded their reefed genoa, and a huge wave that smacked the hull so hard that the boat's big genset was ripped right off its mounts and slammed into the Cummins diesel. Although that was just the beginning of their many troubles, they eventually did make it to the finish in the British Virgins, although in their crippled state they averaged less than 100 miles a day. We'll have a more detailed report in the next issue, but can tell you that, having done the trip, Ci Ci is no longer as afraid of heavy weather as she was. "Hand-steering in 50 knots of wind is still scary," she writes, "but after what I've been through, hand-steering in 40 knots is doable."

"I finally made it to Durban, South Africa, by way of Richard's Bay," reports Mike Harker, who is attempting an 11-month, mostly singlehanded circumnavigation aboard his Hunter Mariner 49 Wanderlust 3. "I'd tried to make it to Durban without stopping, but the headwinds and headseas were so strong on the nose that I had to take shelter 80 miles to the north. After waiting two days for the weather to improve, I covered the 80 miles in just eight hours. I was only sailing through the water at 8.5 knots, but I had another 3.5 knots of current to help, so I was doing 12 to 12.5 knots over the bottom for eight hours! When I got to Durban, I found myself in port with all the boats in the English-based Clipper Race, so there's been a lot of excitement. Unfortunately, delays have put me behind schedule so that I won't be able to ring in New Year's Eve in St. Barth, but I'll try to get there as soon as possible."

While crossing the Indian Ocean, Mike got some bad news — the cabin he calls home at Lake Arrowhead was one of the many structures consumed by the Southern California wildfires in late October. What's worse, the 1948 Indian Chief classic motorcycle he was restoring at the cabin has vanished.

Max De Rham, a Swiss with a home in Maui, is another who is going to have to delay his trip from South Africa to the Caribbean. De Rham had gone to South Africa for the launch of his new Gunboat 66 cat Kanaloa, and expected to set sail for Antigua via Fernando de Naranja on November 19. Alas, there was so much more that needed to be done to the boat that the start of the passage has been delayed until at least February 1. A boat not being completed on time — imagine that!

Headed for La Paz? Make sure you check out the new buoys and route into the bay, as otherwise it could be confusing and/or dangerous. Google 'Baja Insider', then once on that site, visit 'La Paz Navigation'. There is an excellent graphic to explain the situation.
"We said our final goodbyes on November 8 to Annapurna, the Hans Christian 48 that had been our home for the last 13 years," report Buddy and Ruth Ellison, the Sausalito couple who did an 11.6-year circumnavigation starting with the '96 Ha-Ha. "Having 'swallowed the anchor', we sold her to a nice young couple from Hawaii, who hopefully will take good care of her while having great sailing adventures. We're now living in a turnkey house in Oceanside that requires little or no maintenance. So yes, we've become CLODS — Cruisers Living On Dirt. Although there's not much of the world we haven't seen, we still plan to travel and explore, but our circumnavigation will be a tough act to follow, what with all the fantastic people from all walks of life that we met."
"After six years of cruising Mexico, Central America, Panama, South America, the Galapagos Islands, Marquesas, Tuamotus, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Australia, and Thailand, we sold Crusader, our Santa Barbara-based Kelley Peterson 44," report Dick and Pat Wotruba. We completed our trip around the world by air in time to return to Santa Barbara for the holidays with our family and grandchildren."

Out cruising this winter? How about sending us an with a couple of high resolution photos? Send your stories and pictures to Richard.

Missing the pictures? See the December 2007 eBook!


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