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June 27, 2008

Diesel Prices to Jack Up in Tahiti

Boats are bound to sail more thanks to the hike in French Polynesia’s fuel prices.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"I just got word that the long-rumored and oft-denied fuel price increase here in French Polynesia will happen either today or on July 1," reports Wayne Meretsky of the Alameda-based S&S 47 Moonduster. "I’m not certain what the effect on essence (gasoline) will be, but the price of diesel will be going up 40 CFP to 185 CPF per liter. That’s a 27.6% increase and raises the at-the-pump price to $9.32 per gallon. Ouch! There’s no news on the what the price increase will do to the discounted price of diesel that’s available to transient yachts."

In next issue of Latitude, which hits the streets on July 1, George Backhus of the Sausalito-based Deerfoot 62-2 Moonshadow reports that diesel is now selling for $9 a gallon in Turkey also. It makes him happy he doesn’t own a "floating gin palace."

While the price of diesel hasn’t hit $9 yet in Southern California, the effect on powerboats is easy to see out at Catalina. Specifically, fewer powerboats are coming over than before, and those that do come over tend to stay longer. In some cases, wives are staying with the boat on the mooring all week while the husband commutes back and forth by ferry on the weekends. In any event, the changing ratio of sailboats to powerboats is obvious at first glance. There are still more powerboats than sailboats, but the gap seems to be narrowing.

Local Crab Boat Capsizes and Sinks

Crew of the 40-ft crabber Reward scramble to the high side after the boat capsized off Pier 45 a week ago.

© 2008 John Colban

The crab boat Reward had just left Pier 45 last Thursday (June 19) when the skipper turned the wheel, the boat leaned . . . and just kept on going. Reader Russ Colban was just passing by and happened to get a few shots as the 40-ft boat settled on her side and crewmen scrambled to the high side to stay dry.

The Coast Guard, which was conducting training exercises nearby, showed up quickly and rescued the skipper and three crew. None were injured. The boat itself eventually capsized and sank. The Coasties cordoned off the area until the Reward is raised. There were no reports of any fuel or oil leaks coming from the boat.

Possible Piracy off Costa Rica

We get tons of mail, so we can only suppose that some of it would be a little . . . well, unusual. Among the most recent and unusual is a string of missives from one Carl Robbins, who describes himself as a "cruiser who swallowed the hook in Panama." He wrote the following a few days ago:

"I can’t believe you’re not going to report on the acts of piracy off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, as reported, not by me, but by the nation’s leading newspaper, La Nación, the New York Times of Costa Rica."

Without bothering to mention the who, what, where, and when of the alleged attacks, Robbins quickly moved on to making reckless accusations: "Could your silence be due to that such a report might dampen enthusiasm for the Baja Ha-Ha, as voyagers often continue south?" Without waiting for an answer, he jumped to his own conclusion: "Your silence on an issue critical to cruisers’ safety is shameful."

We explained that we had no intention of being silent on such matters and, since we couldn’t find the article or accurately translate it if we had, we asked him to provide the facts. But oh no, Robbins wasn’t having any of that. "I summed it up," he claimed in his response, despite not having mentioned the who, what, where, when, or why that are the basics of any report. "Commercial interests usually win out in today’s corporate-driven media," he wrote continuing his attack, "I thought Latitude 38 was different."

Stymied by Robbins’ preference to rag on us rather than provide us with information, we searched the internet and publications such as Costa Rica’s Tico Times, the real New York Times, the L.A. Times, but either they don’t know anything about such stories . . . or, they, along with Latitude, are part of some giant conspiracy-for-profit to prevent cruisers from knowing they are headed for danger when they cruise to Costa Rica.

If anybody besides Robbins knows about piracy off Costa Rica — other than the stealing of outboards and dinghies, which is common in that country — we’d sure like to know about it so we could publish it (email us). And so would the folks in the various cruiser safety and security nets, all of whom apparently are still unaware of the information Robbins seems to want to keep to himself.

‘Cuing with Real Sailors at Two Harbors

Sailors’ Banquet at Two Harbors, starring, from lower left, Doña de Mallora, Susan Wolcott, Sangmi Lee, Larry Potter, Bruce Glass, and Cici Sayer.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

When anchored off Catalina, most nights we go ashore and have a BBQ at Two Harbors, inviting which ever friends happen to be around. Last night was one such night, and we were kind of surprised at what a collection of sailors the group turned out to be. They were:

  • Doña de Mallorca, veteran of several transAtlantics, all over the Med, and delivery captain for Profligate every year from Mexico to California.
  • Sue Wolcott, who along with her husband Pete, owns the beautiful new M&M 52 cat Kiapa that was built by Schooner Creek of Portland. The couple have done 30,000 miles in the Pacific in their previous boats, the Farr 45 Confetti and Santa Cruz 52 Kiapa.
  • Sangmi Lee, who helped Larry Potter build their 43-ft trimaran Amorfa. They cruised all over the South Pacific with their current trimaran.
  • Larry Potter, who, with Sangmi, built Amorfa, but has sailed a total of 70,000 miles on multihulls in the South Pacific. A previous tri got holed by a killer whale near the Marquesas.
  • Bruce Glass, who currently owns the Formosa 41 Scuttlebutt but has been sailing his whole life, and for 18 months was the captain of the  Dynamique 90 that Danielle Steele once owned.
  • CiCi Sayer, currently lives on her Cal 30 and has been sailing her whole adult life. Last winter she had a wild semi-misadventure crewing on the Brewer 52 Night Heron from the East Coast to the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean 1500.

What all these folks — except de Mallorca — have in common is that they all live on their boats in Cat Harbor and they all work at Two Harbors. Bruce, Larry, and Sue’s husband Pete, are all harbor patrolmen, while CiCi drives a shore boat, Sue works in the office on the pier, and Sangmi works in accounting.

Pete Wolcott couldn’t make the ‘cue because he had the 3-11 p.m. harbor watch shift, but we took this photo of him at the helm of Kiapa II earlier in the day. Opulent is a good adjective to describe their Schooner Creek built M&M 52 cat.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The bottom line is that, if you come to Two Harbors and think the folks don’t know boats, or don’t have a million sailing tales, you’d be mistaken.

Mystery Mexico Location Revealed

In Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic, we gave a pop photo quiz asking if anyone could identify the spot in Mexico where Profligate was shown anchored. We received about 20 replies — half guessed Yelapa and the other half guessed Boca de Tomatlan, which is about halfway between Yelapa and Puerto Vallarta and the correct answer. One respondant said "I know where it is because that’s me in the dinghy!"

Firefighters called to San Rafael YC around 2:50 a.m. on Monday were greeted by a flaming back deck.
A German family of three and their French skipper were sailing a small yacht across the Gulf of Aden on Monday when Somali pirates forced them off their boat, taking them into the hills behind the fishing village of Las Qoray in the Puntland region.
In Friday’s edition of ‘Lectronic Latitude, we put the word out that cruising friends of Harold Parrett were concerned about his well being as he’d not been heard from since leaving Mazatlan on June 14 aboard his Newport 30 Etheral Star.
Switlik Parachute Company, makers of Switlik life rafts, has issued a safety alert and recall on all of their liferafts.