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December 2017

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With reports this month from Finalmente's rendezvous with old friends in Greece; adapting Tahu Le'a's accommodations to Sharon's special needs; Michelle's first overnight passage on Pineapple; Scallywag rallying to help the hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico; and Cruise Notes.

Finalmente — Dolphin 460 Cat
Annibale and Krissy Orsi
Reunion Tour in Greece
(Italy via Stockton)

We had a special reunion aboard Finalmente in early September. Tom and Annie McCollum, along with Urban and Cynthia Gomes, were able to join us for a week of cruising in Greece. In 1969, while living and working in the ski resort town of Bear Valley, we all started families.

The four of them arrived in Poros on the ferry from Athens. After hugs and kisses, we tendered to Finalmente to drop off their bags, then headed for lunch and a grocery resupply. That left time during the afternoon's warm sun for the girls to enjoy the customary arrival drink, an Aperol Spritz. They were all smiles after a few cool ones, and soon found themselves floating in the warm Mediterranean water.

With the winds in our favor we decided to sail to Ermioni for the night. After a great sail we side-tied on a wall on the south side of the town near the bar, Cavo Bianco. Later that day we enjoyed a relaxing lunch at Kabos. The combination of too many drinks and being distracted by our good friends Gabby and Paul, who came by to say hello, caused me to make a huge mistake with the watermaker. I closed the valve going to the water tank while also closing the overflow valve. Pressure built quickly and popped a hose connection over the main power enclosure — and there went the circuit board.

My heart sank and all I could think about was having to carry water to the boat as we did last year when the generator quit working. Luckily, after some quick Internet searching, I was able to find an HRO dealer in Athens who had a new board. It was going to take a few days for it to arrive in Ermioni, so we decided to put our waiting time to good use by visiting a few nearby places.

Bad things happen in threes and here comes number two. The next morning, after Krissy finished doing laundry, she could not open the washing machine door. Damn, we were ready to leave and now the door was locked shut with clothes inside. I tried a dozen ways to open it before I brought out the BIG hammer, and there went our washing machine for good.

Now, after lucking out with a new watermaker circuit board, could we be so lucky as to find a new washing machine in this little town of Ermioni? The guys headed out looking (with little hope), while the girls decided to celebrate Annie's birthday by spending the day visiting the island and town of Hydra.

To our complete surprise, we actually found a store that sold exactly what we needed! We bought it on the spot, had it delivered that afternoon, and installed it that night. Luck was on our side once again, but all I could think about was what that third bad thing might be . . .

With a new working washing machine, and confirming that the watermaker circuitboard would arrive in Ermioni in a few days, we headed to Chinitsa for the night. After a great, relaxing sail, we anchored, swam, and went ashore for dinner while the sun was setting.

Arriving back in Ermioni, we again side-tied on the south side of town, and noticed that a section of the riva (sea walk) had been roped off for some special activity. Then we noticed the loudspeakers next to us. The third thing was about to happen — we would be kept up all night while people partied next to us blaring loud, awful music until the wee hours of the morning — right?

Wrong! It just so happened that we had tied up in the perfect location to be entertained by several Greek dance troupes from all over Greece. This occasion only happens in Ermioni once a year. Go figure!

And to make the day even better, our circuit board had arrived and the watermaker was soon up and running again.

The following morning we headed to Spetses, and later anchored off Limanakia Beach for a dinner of tuna that we had caught on the crossing from Sicily to Greece.

So it went for the rest of the week with stops in Porto Heli, Kilada and Lepitsa Beach for swimming, dining and a visit to the Franchthi Cave.

Thankfully, that third bad thing never did happen, unless you count that the visit ended all too soon. We headed south to Porto Heli to drop off Tom and Annie who had to head home to California, and a few days later, Urban and Cynthia had to take their leave as well.

As 2017 winds to a close, Krissy and I reflect on one more year of a very fortunate life, which we have lived and enjoyed with so many friends and family.

— ni 11/5/17

Readers — "Ni" and Krissy grew up in Stockton. After retirement, they moved to Italy to be near their daughter and her family. They splashed the Brazilian-built Finalmente in 2007, and have been living aboard ever since. They winter in Sicily and cruise the Med from May through October.

Tahu Le'a — Morris 46
David Cohan & Sharon Jacobs
Overcoming Handicaps
(Redwood City)

Raised eyebrows and questioning looks followed us down the docks in Southwest Harbor, Maine, as we rolled and bumped Sharon in her wheelchair toward Tahu Le'a, our cruising home. Although only 9 and 13, our daughters were a well-practiced team as we helped Sharon into a sling-type bosun's chair, hoisted her up, and lowered her gently into the cockpit. Heading ashore again the next morning, near low tide, the marina ramp looked impossibly steep. No worries — another sailor would invariably offer to help, as we hoisted Sharon like an Egyptian queen and paraded her up the ramp.

Sharon has secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, a form of the disease in which her symptoms slowly worsen over time. She has gradually lost the use of her legs, and suffers from impaired balance, making living and traveling aboard a sailboat rather challenging. When she was first diagnosed almost 30 years ago, Sharon's handicaps were minimal. Fifteen years ago she needed to use a walker, but could still move around our boat and climb ladders and marina ramps, albeit slowly. By a dozen years ago she was limited to a few steps with a walker, and needed to use a wheelchair for any longer distances.

Cruising while handicapped? Is it realistic to go cruising — real, liveaboard, long-distance cruising — when a key member of the crew has physical handicaps? The answer is yes: with enough flexibility, adaptation, willpower and help from family, friends, and more than a few good Samaritans.

A bit of background: I grew up sailing on the Bay and wanted to go cruising since I was a teenager. My spouse and partner, Sharon Jacobs, didn't know she wanted to go until we met. Luckily, I came with a sort of truth-in-advertising clause. It wasn't quite my opening line, but somewhere in our first few conversations I asked, "Would you like to come sail around the world with me someday?"

Sharon somehow sensed that this wasn't just a line, and I wasn't joking. So she thought about it. A lot. We agreed at the outset that neither of us was interested in having kids — little did we suspect that cruising might change this particular plan.

Wanting to get started on serious cruising while still in our early 30s, we deferred our global goals and, taking two years off from our careers, set off to circumnavigate the Pacific from 1987 to 1989 on our first cruising boat, Synergy, a Southern Cross 35. It was quite an adventure, and included all of the classic South Pacific island groups, as well as getting off the routes most traveled. Among the most memorable stops in that latter group were visits to Vanuatu, an amazing extended stay in the remote Solomon Islands, and two months traveling half the coast of Japan.

Our cold and damp return to the States was via the far North Pacific ­— through the Aleutians and Bering Sea, with stops in Dutch Harbor, Kodiak and ultimately magnificent Glacier Bay. Then a homestretch through the Inside Passage and along the West Coast back to San Francisco. We sailed back under the Golden Gate on October 17, 1989, a date that would be remembered for reasons other than our arrival.

After briefly debating if the Loma Prieta earthquake was a message that we should head right back out to sea, we decided to work another 10 years, then set off again for extended cruising.

Two years later, much had changed. Sharon had been diagnosed with her particular form of MS. She had also decided she wanted to have kids! As she puts it, seeing all those beautiful Polynesian kids, and all the great kids and families on cruising boats, led her to change her mind on the subject — and mine.

And there was no question we were taking them cruising!

By 1996, we had our two wonderful daughters, Kimberley and Kaela, both of whom were sailing by the time they were a month old, and cruising the Bay and Delta by age 1.

As Sharon's physical challenges progressed, we were determined to fulfill our goal of extended cruising with our kids. One of the first things we realized was that, to accommodate the girls and adapt to handicaps, we needed a bigger boat. Our Morris 46 Tahu Le'a was built by Morris Yachts in Southwest Harbor, Maine, and launched there in 1999. She was customized with dozens of adaptations for Sharon to facilitate her handling the boat and moving around the cockpit, deck and cabin.

We arrived a month after the boat was commissioned for a full summer of cruising in Maine with a 3 and 7-year-old. It was a great way to shake down the boat, learn to integrate the kids into the big picture, and test out some of the systems that had been designed for Sharon.

That fall, Tahu Le'a was trucked to the Bay. We spent the following summer cruising down the coast to the Channel Islands, Catalina and Newport. After getting our kids started in school in the South Bay, Sharon was still doing well enough that she and I delivered Tahu Le'a back to the Bay from Ventura.

Unfortunately, by 2003 Sharon's condition had progressed to the point that she could only walk a short distance with a walker, and needed the wheelchair thereafter. I designed and built a powered lift to get Sharon on and off Tahu Le'a; another to get her from the cockpit into the cabin; and a removable bucket seat we could mount in our inflatable dinghy (after learning that someone with limited leg function couldn't balance on a dinghy thwart or tube).

Despite the modifications, which worked well, and Sharon's willing spirit, which hadn't dimmed, it was clear that we needed to wait a couple of years to go cruising — simply because the girls needed to be old enough to be full crew.

That transition had already begun, as our older daughter, Kimberley, became our primary helmswoman at age 10, maneuvering in and out of marinas and anchorages. (We subscribe to the logic that smaller, capable crew should steer, while the larger/stronger crew work anchor gear, dock lines, and the like.)

The wait was over in 2005. By now we realized our dream of a circumnavigation was no longer realistic. Nor, as much as we love the Pacific, were long ocean passages. A fallback that appealed to everyone was more East Coast cruising. So we had Tahu Le'a trucked back to Maine. With our kids now 9 and 13, we began two years of cruising the East Coast from Maine to the Bahamas and numerous points in between, with a midsummer side trip to Nova Scotia. While we did not do any long ocean passages, we did do over a dozen overnight passages, with several that lasted three to five days/nights, including the Bahamas to Southport, NC, and Cape Cod to Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

Kimberley, at age 13, stood full solo watches, day and night, inshore and at sea. Kaela, age 9, combined with Sharon's eyes, ears and experience at the navigation station, formed our third watch team.

Kimberley continued her role as principal helmswoman and Kaela as a capable deckhand, as together we worked Tahu Le'a in and out of hundreds of anchorages, marinas, locks, canals and occasional hurricane holes as we carefully monitored storm activity. Cruising over 12,000 miles, our family learned to work efficiently together as a team, whether underway or exploring anchorages or towns. We talked through each maneuver or passage in advance, shared responsibility for the outcomes, and never yelled — well, at least about boat issues.

It was such an incredibly rewarding experience that, rather than return Tahu Le'a to the Bay Area, we laid her up in Maine in 2007, then returned in 2009 for another full summer of cruising starting and finishing in Maine. Kimberley, having joined the PYSF high school dinghy racing team in Redwood City on our return to the Bay Area, was immediately drafted into the Lunenburg YC's high school sailing team during our month-long stay in Mahone Bay (Nova Scotia), while the rest of us enjoyed the beautiful area and reunited with friends we had made three years earlier.

It's been almost eight years since our last extended cruising. Sharon suffered some serious health setbacks shortly thereafter, and while she has been slowly but steadily recovering since then, she has not regained the ability to stand or walk even a few steps. So our family sailing is limited to daysails on Tahu Le'a from her homeport at Westpoint Harbor in Redwood City. Our kids and I have done a bit of Bay cruising, and Kimberley and I continue to pursue our mutual obsession with sailing small, fast, wet dinghies.

We haven't given up dreaming, but extended cruising again will require some medical breakthroughs for Sharon that are conceivable, but far from guaranteed. Or perhaps Tahu Le'a will next carry our daughters on their own cruising journeys as they are now young adults beginning to establish their independent lives, but also still dreaming of cruising in their futures.

While our cruising is currently limited, we would love to help others who might see a bit of themselves in the challenges we faced. We'd be happy to demonstrate the modifications we made on Tahu Le'a, and pass on our ideas, insights and experiences. Handicapped or not, sailors love to tell stories and help their fellow cruisers, and we're no exception!

You can reach me at .

— david 10/25/17

Pineapple — Outbound 46
John & Michelle Zeratsky
Night Sailing Newbie
(San Francisco)

John and I have spent the last five years tasting the cruising lifestyle in our 1990 Sabre 38, Aegea. Weekends and vacations sailing the California coast and the Delta convinced us to leave 9-to-5 life and see more of the world than the view from the conference room window. At the old age of 34, we were ready to travel slow and live simply, preferably in warm weather.

But before we could slow down, we hustled. After we sold the Sabre, we bought a new Outbound 46. After commissioning Pineapple, we outfitted her, moved aboard, and headed south.

So far, every day has brought new excitement and plenty of new experiences. As we cruised through the familiar waters of the California coast, I experienced a "first" that was important to me ­— my first overnight passage.

It happened early on. Some mixed swells and gale-force winds had kept us in Monterey a few days longer than planned. Once the conditions improved, we were more than ready to get back on the water.

We talked about different routes that could help us make up some lost time. Sailing straight to Santa Barbara from Monterey was low on the list, as it would be an overnight sail. We weren't anticipating an overnighter until farther south, when it was unavoidable. John has a lot of experience with overnight passages, but this would be new to me and we had an unspoken understanding that we would wait until it was necessary.

As the forecast began showing an ideal weather window from Monday night until Wednesday morning, our departure time was set. On Monday afternoon, John asked, "Have you thought any more about sailing all the way to Santa Barbara?"

There it was. In his own gentle, yet suggestive way, he told me what he thought we should do.

Motivation was very high to be in sunny, warm Southern California, so I agreed.
I was filled with nervous excitement, the feeling where you are about to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and while you can back down, you know you are not going to.

We scheduled three-hour watches planned around John's being awake to round Point Conception. My first watch was from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Just as I stepped into the cockpit and John retreated for some rest, an orange, fire-like moon rose over the hills. The beauty of the scene forced me to take a deep breath and remember to enjoy the next few hours, instead of torturing myself with needless panic. And, mostly, I did!

It was much easier to see the horizon than I had feared. I was expecting to spend hours staring into black nothingness. Fortunately, it was a mostly clear night, lights on shore were visible, and I could see oil rigs a couple of hours out. It was easy to scan the horizon and reassure myself that my eyes and the radar were not missing anything.

Boredom was another concern, but the time passed much more quickly than I'd expected. I listened to Pod Save America with one earbud and set a timer to remember to check the radar and the charts every 10 minutes. A little entertainment went a long way.

The hardest part was getting out of bed when it was time for my watches, but it was only one night and I was happy to let John rest. The sun rose on my second watch, and by 9 a.m. we were both up, removing extra layers and approaching Santa Barbara. The feeling of relief and the delightful weather kept my energy up through the next day.

We are now in Ensenada, planning our next overnight passages as we head to Cabo. While our plans would have fit in nicely with the Baja Ha-Ha, we decided not to participate. With the new boat we were unsure of our timeline and didn't want to make any commitments. Our plan is to cruise the Pacific coast of Mexico and Central America and hopefully reach Panama in June.

— michelle 10/21/17

Scallywag — Islander 37
Victoria Fine & Jon Vidar
Rally to Rebuild After Hurricanes Maria and Irma
(Puerto Rico)

As Californians who faced both Hurricanes Irma and Maria head-on during our first cruising season in the Caribbean, we felt powerless under the force of weather unlike anything we'd seen.

But cruisers don't sit still for long. After the skies cleared, we and other hurricane-hole buddies from around the world formed a brigade of boat-based first responders to ferry help to harbor communities across the Caribbean.

First, we stuffed boats to the headliners with immediate aid, followed by Cessnas, then cargo ships. We called ourselves Sailors Helping, and our little effort grew fast, as did an outpouring of volunteers and donations.

Everyone in the Caribbean is worried that people won't want to cruise there this season. But tourism is the lifeblood of these islands and there's no reason to stay away: The warm local welcome and bathwater beaches remain the same.

So we called up local boaters, marinas, charter companies and rally organizers to collect and share information. Through the island chain's massive "coconut telegraph," we collected fresh data on the status of Caribbean ports and ways to volunteer within easy distance from harbors.

All that information is now live on, and we're working with clubs and rallies throughout the season to deliver needed goods and organize volunteer projects where they're needed most.

If you're cruising to the area with a group or charter company this season, be sure to ask how you can lend a hand through one of the projects we're organizing. If not, please pass along the message to anyone who's nervous about visiting that there are still plenty of pretty, open ports to share a beer alongside new friends. We, and they, will greet you with open arms.

For more information, go to

— victoria 11/10/17

Cruise Notes:

If you're 'in the neighborhood' of Banderas Bay this month, consider taking part in the Banderas Bay Blast and/or the Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run, December 12-14. The action-packed BBB is three days of 'nothing serious' sailing fun on the water, and equally fun sailor socializing on land. On the 14th, the 12-mile Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run goes from Punta Mita to Paradise Village Marina. (Note that this is a downwind sailing event, not a half-marathon footrace.) Costumes are encouraged on the P2P, and make sure there are plenty of Super Soakers in your onboard armory.

Now in their 10th year, these events are sponsored by Marina La Cruz, PV Sailing, Punta de Mita Yacht & Surf Club, Vallarta Yacht Club and Latitude 38. We're proud to say that all proceeds go to local charities and past events have contributed thousands of dollars to helping out local children and those less fortunate. To register, go to

Giselle and Clifton Miller are down in Guaymas working fervently on the refit of Sedna, a 1985 Hans Christian 38T they found languishing in Marina Palmyra back in January. After sailing from their homeport of Juneau, Alaska, to Mexico in a Cal 34 back in 2011, they decided to purchase the heavier boat for their intended Pacific Rim circumnavigation. Under four previous names, the green-hulled HC had been around the sailing block a few times — including an abbreviated Pacific Rim trip (South Seas, Hawaii, Alaska) under her first owner. The Millers' short-term goal is to have the boat ready for the Pacific Puddle Jump, which departs Puerto Vallarta this coming spring. The long-term goal, as mentioned, is "to sail Sedna back to Alaska, the long way around the Pacific, Philippines, Japan and the Aleutians." (Sedna is named for the Inuit/Arctic goddess of the sea and honors the Millers' Alaskan roots.)

In between the sanding, painting, varnishing "and eating copious tacos," Giselle has been recording interviews with people in the yard — cruisers, yard workers and even guards (in both English and Spanish) — for a narrative that documents their journey.

And she wants many more cruisers to take part in what she calls a "collaborative story project." Giselle wants to compile a list of short sailing proverbs from all cruisers. "We're seeking words of advice, wisdom, rules, encouragement, whatever, from folks who have been there, done that — young and old, beginners to the saltiest veteran cruisers." (Here's one example we heard a long time ago from the saltiest guy we know, Commodore Tompkins: "It's easier to stay warm than get that way.") Submissions will be posted on the Millers' website, possibly included in one or more podcasts — and featured in a future issue of Latitude 38. To submit, go to and click 'your stories.'

We were delighted to meet a group of sailors a few weeks ago who call themselves Captain Teem, who are cruising south — somewhere on the Sea of Cortez — on their 1968 42-ft custom Dutch-built steel sloop Alsager. "We are Evan, Tanja, Mats, Kruiser and Noah, a mid-40s Canadian/German couple with a 3-year-old son, a cool dog and our Canadian surfer/pro gambler friend," they wrote in response to our query about what other types of sports various cruisers were into. "We have kiteboards, surfboards, SUPs, fishing rods, snorkeling gear, our new Porta Bote tender and a speargun onboard. We are hoping to make plenty of sushi!"

Captain Teem has a fun social media presence on their website (and are on all the major platforms as To Sail or Not To Be). The crew of Alsager said they don't really have an itinerary, as they planned to harbor-hop down the California coast as weather permitted, looking for surf spots on the way. They hoped to check out the Extreme Sailing Series in San Diego, before harbor-hopping down Baja and turning the corner into the Sea of Cortez, then over to Punta Mita.

"With a family new to long-distance sailing it's a bit of an experiment, so we're not setting our expectations unnecessarily high and want to keep our goal simple — enjoy the trip, however far we go or how long we're gone."

We look forward to following this group as they cruise Mexico, and will bring you some of their dispatches in the coming months.

We met Aimee Mitchel and Brett Henderson when they attended the Baja Ha-Ha kick-off party in San Diego to introduce their new cruising app, Cuttlefish. A few years ago, Aimee was traveling the Western United States when she found a ride to Mexico and ended up cruising the Sea of Cortez. She's been a regular cruiser there ever since. And that's not easy, considering she's made her frequent trips to the Sea of Cortez from Western Australia (which is the remote part of a remote country). In fact Aimee's become so enthused by the Sea of Cortez she bought her own boat, a Rafiki 37, Hindsight, so she could spend more time there. Right after the start of the Ha-Ha, she and Cuttlefish business partner Brett were headed south to put the boat back in the water for some more time on the Sea.

Our friend Glenn Howell stopped by the office the other day to catch us up on his post-2016 Pacific Puddle Jump cruising. Since leaving Panama, he sailed to the Marquesas on his Atlantic 55 Rocketeer and carried on to the Tuamotus where the boat had been hauled out and is waiting for the next leg of a Pacific cruise. Possible courses include a loop north over the Pacific High and back to San Francisco, where he might just look for a place to live aboard the 55-ft x 28-ft Chris White design. Then again, there are a lot of great places to go with a 55-ft catamaran.

San Francisco local Andy Paul, who’s had his Tayana 37 Bodicea in South Beach Marina, has moved up to a Hallberg Rassy 60 named Contrarian. She’s currently berthed in Mahon on Menorca in the Balearic Islands, but will be headed to Cascais in Portugal for a winter refit before going to Sardinia in the spring. More sailing in the Med coming next summer.

We also heard from Ian Deas from Walnut Creek. Ian, who's done the Clipper Round the World Race, just put his boat, a Hanse, to bed for the winter in Mallorca. He dropped us a note from the Canaries saying, 'I set off on Sunday on the ARC Rally for St. Lucia, and not only is the Wi-Fi very poor here, but we are really busy trying to get ready for the start. I am crewing for friends on their Catana 471, Umoya of London'.

As we wrap up the year, we're reminded that there's nothing like spending the holidays at home with friends and family. But a sizable cross-section of cruising sailors spend many memorable holidays in places far from where the home fires burn. If you are or were among them, we'd like to know about your most memorable Holidays from 'out there.' Please send all of your reminiscences (and a few photos) to , and we'll share some of them in an upcoming Changes.

To everyone out there, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you former cruisers, current cruisers, planners and dreamers. We wish you fair winds and following seas, safe anchorages, and epic, memorable adventures in the year(s) to come — and hope you will share some of them with us.

Missing the pictures? See the December 2017 eBook!


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