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January 25, 2008

Only 28,000 Miles to Go

The charge of the light brigade – nearly 40 boats crossed the starting line at this year’s World ARC Rally.

© 2008 Terry Drew

"We were off St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean on Wednesday for the start of the World ARC around the world rally," report Terry and Evelyn Drew of the Santa Cruz / Caribbean-based Aquarelle. "There were 35 starters in St. Lucia, with more to join the fleet in Panama and Australia. Two U.S. boats started, with another to join them on the other side of the Canal. It’s going to take the fleet 15 months to go around. First across the line and headed for Panama was Far Out, a Southern Wind 72 from Denmark. One of the starters, Viva, was in the yard with us just a week ago getting repairs made to the skeg. Petra, the only woman skipper in the event, said she was still looking for crew for some of the upcoming legs."

Even if the colorful paintjob on Roger Langevin’s French-flagged 50-ft trimaran Branec IV might scare away the fish, she’ll be going too fast to catch them anyway.

© Terry Drew

"As for us," the couple continue, "next week we’ll be headed up to the Saintes off the coast of Guadeloupe."

Making the World a Smaller Place

Franck Cammas’ Groupama 3 is already ahead of the pace on its Jules Verne Trophy attempt.

© Yvan Zedda

Franck Cammas’ 105-ft trimaran Groupama 3 is already slightly ahead of Orange II‘s 2005 record pace, when skipper Bruno Peyron and his crew of 13 rounded the world in 50 days, 16 hours. Only 24 hours after departing the English Channel, Cammas and his crew of 10 were already south of Lisbon, Portugal, having covered 616 miles. The road ahead looks to hold some light patches, but in addition to being capable of sustained speeds of 40 knots, Groupama 3 is reportedly more suited to traversing these speed bumps than Peyron’s 125-ft catamaran. Cammas’ team say they believe they’re capable of a 45-day trip, and they’d likely know, given that they’ve already set the outright 24-hour speed record with their craft — 794 miles, set last July on the same trip they whittled four-and-a-half hours off Orange II‘s New York-Lizard transatlantic record.

Great News for Cruisers in Ecuador

Tripp Martin, harbormaster at Ecuador’s Puerto Amistad YC, reports some welcome news from that part of the world. "For the past four months, Puerto Amistad, Puerto Lucia, Salinas YC, Guayaquil YC, the Ecuadorian Yachting Association, Ministry of Tourism, and the Navy have all been working together to reform the rules changes in order to make them less onerous," Tripp told Latitude. "The new rule allows the four mentioned yacht clubs to basically serve as ship’s agents for private boats, and has greatly simplified the check-in/zarpe process. The new rule allows the yacht to send a simple email to the Navy on arrival. Once acknowledged and entered into their database, the boat will be received in the capitania. You will not have to hire an agent in these places, there is no requirement to check in while underway, as has been eroneously reported."

The town and anchorage of Bahia, Ecuador.

© Bruce Balan

Tripp also reports that the government is actively working on other cruiser-related issues — namely, how long a boat can stay in the country and the availability of fuel. "It’s been widely reported that the Ecuadorian government has become hostile to cruisers, and implied that they don’t want us here. The reality is far different. What’s going on is that the new government has tasked the authorities to clean up their act in many major areas, and they’ve responded with some knee-jerk reactions that have been terribly implemented. Slowly we’re trying to get them corrected, but we’re working with extremely bureaucratic organizations. Cruisers have basically been unintended collateral damage in their efforts to get rid of fuel smuggling, control of the borders, etc."

Cruiser Arlene Rice, of the Cross 46 Migration, made friends with a land iguana in downtown Guayaquil, Ecuador.

© Bruce Balan

"I hope that everyone who has been considering coming to Ecuador takes into account the rules changes we’re making, and chooses to come down and take advantage of all the wonderful things the country has to offer."

Lower Fees for Fishing in Mexico

Tammy, a Morro Bay-based crewmember of Profligate in the Ha-Ha, holds up one of her catch for the camera. There is no limit on ‘catch and release’ fishing.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Conapesca, the Mexican sportfishing agency, has announced new licensing policies for ’08 that will be welcomed by cruisers. In the past, boats — as well as their dinghies, and technically even liferafts equipped with fish hooks — needed to have expensive licenses. That’s no longer true. Starting on January 7, only individuals needed licenses.

While it’s true that everyone aboard the boat, whether fishing or not, must have a license, the licenses are now $25 a week, $37 a month, or $48 a year. If you’re a couple on a boat, that’s a considerable savings over the previous cost of being licensed. You can get your license by going to

Dino and Julia, two more of the Profligate crew, knew what to do with the fish Tammy and the other crewmembers landed.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Here are some of the highlights of the Mexican fishing regulations:

  • One rod per person.
  • No mollusks or crustaceans can be taken.
  • There’s a limit of 10 fish per day, with no more than five of one species. However, there is a limit of one per day of the following group: marlin, sailfish, swordfish and shark. When it comes to dorado, roosterfish, shad and tarpon, the limit is two per day.
  • The limit for underwater fishing is five per day, and you must use a rubberband or spring harpoon, and only use it while skindiving.
  • It’s illegal to collect shell and coral.
  • It’s also illegal to fish within a quarter of a mile of swimmer.

These all seem like fair rules, so please, abide by them.

This morning, at 7:24 GMT — less than a week after leaving New York —  the 110-ft catamaran Gitana 13 crossed the Equator.
The sailing at Key West Race Week finally got underway yesterday after high winds forced organizers to cancel Monday’s scheduled races.
Thirty-five monohulls and six multihulls are departing St. Lucia today on the 15-month World ARC cruise around the world.