In ports all along the west coast of the Americas, several hundred adventurous sailors are preparing to set sail for the storied isles of French Polynesia — an annual migration we call the Pacific Puddle Jump.
As longtime readers know, for the past 20 years we’ve been reporting on the sailors from many nations who make this ambitious 3,000- to 4,000-mile passage, and we’ve always been fascinated by the diversity of their backgrounds and the boats they sail on.
Next month, we’ll meet a whole new batch of westbound cruisers at each of three free sendoff events held in key PPJ staging areas. As in years past, in the April and May issues of Latitude 38 magazine we’ll publish mini-profiles of each crew that we meet.
• March 6 — PPJ Sendoff Party at Vallarta Yacht Club, in Nuevo Vallarta’s Paradise Village Resort; 3-6 p.m.
Latitude staff will host a highly informative media presentation, with additional in-depth immigration and customs info provided by our longtime Tahitian associate Tehani Fiedler-Valenta of the yacht agency Tahiti Crew.
• March 9 — PPJ Sendoff Party at Balboa YC, on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal (called the Tahiti Bon Voyage); 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Latitude staff will be joined by Tahitian partner Stephanie Betz in presenting an informative and entertaining program; reps from marine businesses in both New Zealand and Fiji will also be on hand to share info on services and attractions for cruisers.
• March 11 — PPJ Sendoff Party at Shelter Bay Marina, on the Caribbean side of the Canal (called the Tahiti Bon Voyage). 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Similar program to the above.
In June, Latitude staff will again co-host the three-day Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendez-vous (June 23-25), which serves the dual purpose of celebrating the fleet’s safe arrival in the islands while introducing several hundred international sailors to time-honored cultural traditions in music, dance, cuisine and sport.
Look for our Rendez-vous report as well as a complete PPJ 2017 recap next summer, and in the meantime stay tuned to ‘Lectronic Latitude for fleet updates.
"Now that the days are starting to become a little longer and dare I say drier soon, we’ll be hopefully enjoying some late afternoon and early evening sailing once again," writes Chuck Bullett, vice commodore of Berkeley Yacht Club.
Bullett wants to point out to sailors that the north entrance of the Berkeley Marina is usually marked with the 4-second Red Flashing light "4". "It may be located on your navigation chart #18653 as Fl R 4s 23 Ft+ 4M "4" (as seen below)."
"It is not my recommendation that you use the north entrance as it isn’t the easiest or safest approach. We usually prefer the southern approach by Green 1, or the center approach when there’s enough water beneath our keel.
"The weekly Local Notice to Mariners notes that this light is extinguished currently, though is scheduled for repair sometime in May of 2017. It marks the north end of the Berkeley Breakwater, and may be seen beneath the red arrow in this chartlet." Guests visiting in the marina should be alert to this situation.
If you’re not already reading the lengthy Local Notices to Mariners, you can find them online here for the 11th District, and you can subscribe to email updates. The PDFs are several pages long, so they might take a while to load. Then we recommend skimming them for items of interest in your specific sailing neighborhood or planned destination(s). The 11th District (Pacific Southwest) covers California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. For the Pacific Northwest, you’ll want District 13. Hawaii is covered by District 14, and Alaska by District 17.
One of the most colorful cruising couples with one of the most colorful cruising boats we can remember were Peter and Antonia Murphy and their Point Richmond-based Mariner 36 Sereia. They took off in 2006 with their ketch painted in wild colors. From time to time they reported in to Latitude 38, with unique perspectives on their adventures as they made their way down the coast and across the Pacific.
The couple later split up, and we don’t know what happened to Peter.
Antonia, on the other hand, is continuing to lead a colorful life as the co-owner of the Whangarei, New Zealand-based The Bach, which she describes as a one-room "ethical brothel" intended "to bring prostitution out of the shadows."
Prostitution was decriminalized in New Zealand 14 years ago, but Murphy says that those who buy and sell sex are still cast in the shadows. She doesn’t like that, and intends to change things.
"I see no reason why it [prostitution] shouldn’t be done in a healthy, safe, open way," she told Corazon Miller of the New Zealand Herald. "New Zealand seems way ahead of the curve in terms of decriminalization, and yet for some reason much of the sex industry is still bogged down in sort of shady working practices."
Born and raised in San Francisco, Murphy graduated from Columbia University with a degree in European History and Comparative Politics. Following graduation, she spent years traveling and doing odd jobs before taking off cruising with Peter. She arrived in New Zealand 10 years ago.
Murphy is proud of the way her workers are treated with "respect," which means they are paid at least $150/hour, briefed on their legal rights and provided with free on-site child care, and have a drug-free environment.
Murphy’s philosophy is that women own their bodies, and if they want to monetize them, that’s their business. She says she will not hire women who are in “desperate” situations, but only those women who enjoy sex and who are happy to do this work of their own free will. While Murphy is co-owner of The Bach, she is not a prostitute herself.
The decriminalization of prostitution was an extremely contentious issue in New Zealand, and passed by the narrowest of margins, 60 to 59. A lot of investors seemed to think that running a ‘house of ill-repute’ was the path to a lucrative living, as 326 such businesses were established in lightly populated New Zealand shortly after prostitution became legal in 2003. However, 260 of the establishments have already closed. But the fantasy lives on, as applications are pending for another 94.