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June 30, 2010

The Wackiest World Tour

If there’s one thing we’ve learned during our three decades of interviewing sailors in far-flung destinations, it’s that first impressions don’t always clue you in to the whole story. Such was the case when we met a bright-eyed, young Frenchman in Moorea with wild curly hair and a scraggly beard. Crewing aboard the 113-ft German schooner Infinity, Olivier Peyre was one of many twenty-something travelers aboard who seemed to be completely carefree, and living for the moment. But there was much more to Olivier’s story.

Illustrating the notion that having an upbeat attitude will open doors for you wherever you go, Olivier has experienced the kindness of strangers wherever he’s traveled  including Brazil and Colombia.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Turns out, he is a modern-day Don Quixote who’s chasing what most would consider to be an impossible dream: to circumnavigate the globe utilizing virtually no fossil fuels. That is, via bicyling, paragliding and sailing. He set out from Grenoble, France, in July 2008, peddling south with his lightweight mountaineering kite on his back. In Morroco he hitched the first of many rides on a sailboat; this one bound for the Canary Islands. From there he worked his way to Brazil via Senegal and the Cape Verde Islands. Arriving at Bahia, he biked all the way to Paraguay. "So, you must have an extensive background in biking," we asked. "No, actually, I hadn’t done much biking at all before all this." "But you’ve done a lot of paragliding, right?" "No, not much background in paragliding either, and I didn’t know anything about sailing. I don’t know much," he says with an ear-to-ear smile, "but I want to know more. So my attitude is, ‘Let’s do it.’"

Olivier rides the updrafts, somewhere on the lonely coast of Peru (we think). He’s no pro yet, but he’s got the whole world to learn in.

© Courtesy

As you’ll read in Latitude 38 later this summer, Olivier’s ongoing adventures have included dragging his 145-lb bike over a 12,000-ft Andean pass between Argentina and Chile, and joining a pair of vagabonding ex-drug dealers at Cartegena for a cruise to the San Blas Islands, where his headlamp was the only source of electricity aboard. As we learned long ago, long-term travelers are some of the most interesting people you could possibly meet, because they’ve invariably got a wealth of great stories to tell.

Baseball – The Ha-Ha Against Turtle Bay

As of yesterday, there were 122 boats signed up and paid up for this fall’s Baja Ha-Ha rally. While that’s good news, the even more fun news is that the Ha-Ha folks are in the process of putting together a baseball game after the end of the first leg, pitting the Ha-Ha All-Stars against the Turtle Bay All-Stars in a nothing-serious ‘World Series of Baja’.

It’s all coming about because of Mike Priest of Marina del Rey, who did four Baja Bash deliveries this spring. We’ll let him tell the story:

"We stopped in Turtle Bay on April 16, and noticed that the people there were building a baseball field with stands and a dugout. When we passed through again on May 15, we were stunned to see the additions to the stadium. They had a roof over the stands, a P.A. system, and a full crowd to enjoy the Sunday afternoon baseball drama.

When Mike stopped at Turtle Bay in April, the stadium was pretty basic.

Mike Priest
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"I did a little investigating, and learned that little Turtle Bay alone has four baseball teams, one for each of the two fishing coops, one for the lobster coop, and one for the abalone coop. These are real hardball teams with full uniforms, practices and drills, and they play both locally as well as travelling to other cities, town and villages in Baja.

"While the baseball season will no doubt be over in November, I’ve made the suggestion to the Grand Poobah that there be a baseball game between the Ha-Ha and Turtle Bay. And that as a gesture of friendship, cruisers might also like to bring down baseball equipment, including softball stuff for the kids — old uniforms, but also old bats, balls and gloves. The one thing that the adult players could always use is more baseballs. For as nice as the new stadium is, there isn’t a blade of grass, so the covers of the new hardballs get worn out quickly. As such, good baseballs are saved for the games. So a bunch of those might be really appreciated."

Come May, when Priest stopped at Turtle Bay again, he was gobsmacked to see that the stadium had gotten a roof, a net backstop and much more.

Mike Priest
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Grand Poobah thinks that Priest’s suggestion is a great one. As such, we’re in the process of scheduling a game between the Ha-Ha and Turtle Bay for the afternoon of Thursday, October 28. This had traditionally been a ‘free day’ for Ha-Ha folks to wander around town and perhaps meet later at the Vera Cruz restaurant. An afternoon baseball game would give a little bit of focus for those who might be interested in it, and a good chance for even more interaction with the locals. Like the Ha-Ha, we’re going to try to arrange a ‘nothing serious’ game — which would mean that participation is open to everyone, including men, women, children, and left-handers. And if it’s successful, maybe we’ll even have a rematch during the Beach Party the next day. We’ll have more details as the Ha-Ha approaches, but if you come across any unused and unwanted baseball gear, why not set it aside?

We never did catch this young sailor’s name, but after his dance floor experience during the lavish reception at Papeete’s town hall, we’re sure he’d give this year’s Rendezvous a glowing testimonial.
As the whole world must know, there was a recent failed attempt at an age record circumnavigation by a girl from Southern California.
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