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December 19, 2007

The $10,000 Islander 36 in the Med

Not having a lot of money didn’t stop Northern Californians Eli and Sara from enjoying a summer of cruising their own 36-footer in the Med.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Does everybody remember Eli and Sara Botrell? A year ago October the Northern California couple responded to a story in ‘Lectronic for the Islander 36 Geja, which had been cruised most of the way around the world by Dick and Shirley Sandys of Palo Alto. After Dick died, Shirley put the boat up for sale, where is, as is. She just happened to be in Spain, and the price was just $10,000 to move the boat quickly.

You meet the nicest people while cruising the Med. Yes, that’s Tom Perkins’ Belvedere-based 289-ft Maltese Falcon that Sara and Eli are posing on. They met the captain, and he gave them a tour.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Sorely tempted to buy the boat ourselves, we announced that it would be a great deal for a young couple wanting to have a low-cost cruising fling before continuing on with their lives. Because they were quick, the Bottrells, a young couple indeed looking for an inexpensive cruising fling before continuing on with their lives, quickly made an offer and got the boat.

How did it turn out? "My wife and I recently returned home after seven months of sailing the Med," writes Eli. "The trip was incredible, and we’re extremely pleased that we made the decision to drop everything and go cruising."

It’s going to be hard for the couple to resume normal life after enjoying many romantic ports – some of them with free berthing – along the Italian coast.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We’ll have a long report from the Bottrells in the February 1 — not January 1 — issue but, other than a temporary problem with the autopilot, the boat was trouble-free. They did, however, do quite a bit on her before setting out.

With the couple about to charge into ‘real life’ mode, they’re putting the boat up for sale, where is, as is, for $20,000. She just happens to be up a river near Pisa. True, it’s twice the price they paid for the boat, but they did a number of improvements, and the price may or may not include an inflatable and outboard.

If you see any spots on the screen, it’s because we’re drooling again. Let’s see, if we got three other partners, that would be only $5,000 each — for a boat just a short distance from Capri and Elba, and not all that far from Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Spain and France! To be fair, we’ll give everyone until the New Year to do a deal on the boat. If she’s not sold by then, we don’t believe we’ll be able to stop ourselves.

If interested, email the couple. But don’t wait, because a lot of sailors will see it as the perfect present for under the tree — figuratively speaking, of course.

Blockcade of the Harbor at St. Barth?

The harbor at Gustavia is perfect for blockading.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Bonnie Russell of San Diego alerts us to the fact that the fishermen — and there are not many of them — on the chic island of St. Barth in the French West Indies have instituted a blockcade of the harbor at Gustavia to prevent the big yachts from coming in and out of port, or even ships from unloading fuel. The fishermen are upset about the high price of fuel. And, trust us, fuel costs about twice as much in St. Barth as it does here in the States.

The Bartians are an independent lot. A number of years ago when the French wanted to actually start collecting taxes from them, and threatened to send in troops on airplanes, the residents crowded the runway so the planes couldn’t land.

Virtually everything that comes into St. Barth does so by boat. That’s Jimmy Buffett’s new boat sitting on the trailer on the left.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

What makes the fishermen’s strategy effective is that the spots on the Charles de Gaulle Quay in Gustavia are the most coveted in the Caribbean during New Year’s. Ronald ‘Revlon’ Perlman’s 190-ft Ultima III, for example, has had the prime inside position for the last dozen years or so. But it’s not easy to get one. There are no reservations. Instead, you have to have your mini-mega yacht — 200 feet is the maximum lenth — in position on December 1. From then on, your boat can leave for the day — although it costs about $600 in diver’s fees to get the anchor rodes uncrossed — but your boat must be back in by 5 p.m. If not, you’re moved to the bottom of the list. That means the folks who paid hundreds of thousands to be on the quay on New Year’s are going to be pissed!

It’s hard to tell how this is going to play out, because these mini-mega yachts are responsible for boatloads of money pouring into the local economy. After all, who else is going to pay $65 for a bowl of cauliflower soup at the Francoise Plantation? On the other hand, fishermen, farmers and the like have always had big support from the French public. But this is probably going to be too much.

According to Bonnie Russell, the Page Six gossip feature in The New York Times reported that the blockcade prevented movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and his new bride from entering or leaving the harbor. They had chartered the big yacht owned by the ex-wife of Marc Rich, the billionaire crook that Bill Clinton famously pardoned at the end of his second term.

Puddle Jumpers Share Strategies

With the ideal weather window for crossing from Mexico to French Polynesia just a few months away, there’s lots of chatter — both on the docks and via email — between those who will soon join the ranks of Pacific Puddle Jumpers, as we like to call them.

One of the hot topics lately has been harbor options for the Pacific cyclone season, rather than simply sprinting all the way to New Zealand in one season.

Veteran South Pacific cruiser Chuck Houlihan of Jacaranda writes, "After spending six months cruising Fiji, we headed north to Wallis for a week, then up through the Tuvalu Group. Permission to check out and stop at the northern islands was permitted by customs in Funafuti. Kiribati was similar with permission to stop at the northern islands given by the Minister of Tourism. Our final destination was the Marshalls (a U.S. territory). The next season, we sailed south via Kiribati and stopped at many of the southern islands before going on to the Solomon’s (Tikopia) and Vanuatu."

Few cruisers visit off-the-beaten-track destinations such as the Marshall Islands.

© 2007 Sally Peterson

Professional delivery skipper and New Zealand resident Chris Bone suggests, "The north coast of Papua New Guinea is very interesting. Kimbe Bay has some of the best diving in the world. Many yachts get to Tonga and love it so much that they stay there till the end of the season, then head for NZ. The next year they go to Fiji then on Westward. Leaving the boat in the islands is an option, although you would need to check your insurance policy! There are hurricane moorings in Vava’u and Fiji with an  ‘in ground’  system at Vuda point. New Caledonia has good quality concrete hardstands with dead eyes to chain down to."

Larry and Trinda Littlefield of Katie Lee note, "We also choose the untraveled route ourselves this year. We left Bora Bora for Penrhyn, Christmas Island, Fanning and then on to Hawaii. We stayed a month on each island, met neat people and had great visits. Lots of unique foods too. After the cyclone season, we plan to return to Fanning in March, then as far east as possible, leaving in May or June. The Marshalls are on the top of the list for next cyclone season. We decided that we have four to six years to get to western Australia."

Joyon Roars into the South Pacific

"I do my job as a sailor, that’s all." So Francis Joyon said modestly after he and his 97-ft trimaran IDEC left the Indian Ocean and sailed into the deep South Pacific. He crossed the Indian Ocean in just 9 days, 12 hours, more than 33% faster than current solo record holder Ellen MacArthur did with B&Q Castorama, and just 59 minutes slower than Bruno Peyron and crew did with their 125-ft cat Orange II.

"Who was that guy?" That’s the question Baja Ha-Ha Rally Committee members were asking themselves shortly after the awards ceremony.