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June 17, 2015

Puddle Jumpers Flock to the Rendez-vous

A number of boats said goodbye to the dreamy lagoons of the Tuamotus this week, in order to arrive in Tahiti in time for Friday’s festivities.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

By all indications, this weekend’s Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendez-vous will draw the largest fleet in the event’s 10-year history. More than 70 boats from various nations have registered, some of which are currently making the 200-mile passage from the Tuamotu Archipelago, having arrived there several weeks ago from the Marquesas, the customary first landfall, after completing the 3,000- to 4,000-mile Pacific Puddle Jump from various points on the West Coast of the Americas.

For twenty years we’ve been hearing about how wonderful the Tuamotu archipelago is, so this year we decided to sample life in the lagoons for ourselves via a Dream Yacht Charters catamaran cruise. Pictured here is the surreal Blue Lagoon of Rangiroa, the world’s second largest coral atoll. 

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Designed to be both a celebration of the fleet’s safe arrival in the islands and a means of exposing visiting sailors to French Polynesia’s long-revered cultural traditions, the fun will begin Friday afternoon with a reception and skipper’s briefing on the Papeete waterfront, complete with a blessing of the fleet and live music and dance. Saturday, the fleet will ‘cruise in company’ — okay, some will undoubtedly race hard for line honors — to majestic Cook’s Bay on Moorea. That evening the Club Bali Hai hotel will host a lavish music and dance show. Sunday will be dedicated to a variety of Polynesian beach games, the highlight of which will be outrigger canoe races in the lagoon, where cruisers of all stripes team up with local experts.

For the dozens of international sailors who participate, memories of canoe racing in the Cook’s Bay lagoon are not soon forgotten.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Yeah, it’s all big fun, and the payoff for our assistance in organizing it is that we get to hear the cruising tales of dozens of international cruisers. We’ll share those stories and anecdotes with you, of course, in upcoming editions of Latitude 38.

Organized primarily by our French-Tahitian friends at Archipelagoes, with generous support from Tahiti Tourism, Air Tahiti Nui, and a variety of other partners, the Rendez-vous has been described to us by many participants as one of the highlights of their South Pacific travels.

Learn more about the Puddle Jump and see the 220-boat fleet list at the website, and look for our Rendez-vous report here on Monday.

Gunboat 55 Hull #1 Found, Again

Rainmaker, still floating after five months in the nasty North Atlantic. We wonder how high she would float if someone got a couple of bilge pumps in her.

© 2015 Captain Reinhard Peer, aboard the Hapag-Lloyd containership Chicago Express

Rainmaker, the first of the hot-selling Gunboat 55 catamarans, has been found again, this time five months after she was dismasted and abandoned by her crew off the East Coast. We say "again" because Gunboat founder and owner Peter Johnstone said she’d been spotted once before about three months ago, but when they tried to find her, they couldn’t.

"I really want to get that boat back," Johnstone told Latitude two months ago in the Caribbean. Not only do we think he wants the cat back, we think he’s burning to fix her up and race her again. One needs to remember that just a couple of hours after the first G4 flipped in the Voiles de St. Barth, she was righted and back on her hook, flags flying, looking as though nothing had happened. So if that’s Johnstone’s dream, we hope he pulls it off. But there are some obstacles. She’s still owned by her owner, who has been negotiating with the insurance company, and she’s open to salvage.

It’s also worth noting that Rainmaker was found at latitude 35° 36.282 N, not that far from where she was abandoned. How come she didn’t ride the Gulf Stream to Ireland? She was also at longitude 062° 17.187 W.

Five months on her own in the North Atlantic winter and still floating. That’s pretty impressive.

Rainmaker looks pretty good for having spent five months in the North Atlantic on her own. One can only imagine how many thousands of waves washed over her.

© 2015 Reinhard Peer

This just in. In response to our bet that Peter Johnstone would like to get the boat back and race her, he wrote, "Rainmaker is an exceptional boat. She deserves to rise like Phoenix and go kick some ass with the right people that will love her!"

Carlos, the Chihuahua of Mexican Hurricanes

Everyone can be thankful that Carlos will apparently arrive off Cabo Corrientes as a depression rather than a major hurricane. But all marine and coastal interests still need to be vigilant.

© 2015 NOAA

For such a tiny tropical storm/hurricane, Carlos has been a real yapper. Early on he was projected, long range, to be the second hurricane to threaten Cabo and La Paz. Then, small as he was, he surprised everyone by biting Acapulco. Ten boats sank and many more were significantly damaged, perhaps because nobody took Carlos too seriously.

For the last couple of days forecasts have changed significantly as Carlos has worked his way northwest along the coast. One day he looks as if he’s going to slam into land south of Barra de Navidad. Twelve hours later forecasts have him going offshore. Now he’s shown to be tracing the coast. Similarly, he’s gone from hurricane to tropical storm to hurricane and back to tropical storm. Forecasters explain that tiny — in terms of breadth — hurricanes are much more prone than larger ones to dramatic changes in intensity and direction.

At the most recent forecast, Carlos is forecast to hit Cabo Corrientes, at the southwest tip of Banderas Bay, Wednesday evening, as a tropical depression. This is better news than anyone could have expected just a few days ago, but given Carlos’ history of unpredictability, it’s still too early for anyone to let their guard down.

Mexico Tourism Seminar Tomorrow

Although Hurricane Carlos is causing havoc south of the border — and other storms may follow — by the time the hurricane season ends in the fall, hundreds of sailors will be heading south, as always, to enjoy Mexico’s sunny latitudes during the winter months. If you intend to be one of them, and you’re in the San Diego area, you’d be wise to attend tomorrow’s informational lunchtime seminar put on by Mexico Tourism especially for boaters.

Between 160 and 190 boats typically head south with the Baja Ha-Ha rally each October. But that’s probably fewer than a third of the total number of southbounders each year. 

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

But come early, as seating will definitely be limited. The free event will take place in conjunction with the San Diego International Boat Show at noon Thursday in the Catalina Room of the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina; 1590 Harbor Island Drive, San Diego, CA 92101 (adjacent to Cabrillo Isle Marina).

This will be an ideal opportunity to clarify the sometimes-confusing elements of Mexican immigration regulations, boat importation procedures and additional rules. We applaud Mexican Tourism for taking this proactive step. 

Smoke on the water: In this painting by Michel Felice Corne (1752-1845), USS Constitution (left) and HMS Guerriere pound each other in the opening days of the War of 1812.
Depending on what source you refer to, current/former Hurricane Carlos, currently paralleling the coast of mainland Mexico about 100 miles off Lazaro Cardenas with 70 knots of wind, is: 1) Going to head further out to sea and pretty much be a non-issue; 2) Gather more steam and head toward Cabo Corrientes and threaten Banderas Bay; 3) Going to be less of an issue all the time right where she is.
If you’ve ever thought that pilots aboard commercial vessels are too quick to toot their horns when pleasure craft cross their paths, the video below will help you understand their predicament.
Summer officially begins with next weekend’s summer solstice and, on San Francisco Bay and around the world, sailors will use the occasion to participate in the 15th annual Summer Sailstice.