The 17th Annual Zihua SailFest on February 5-11 was a spectacular success. The seven-day fiesta raised 2,109,923 pesos to provide educational opportunities for our least-advantaged children. The events included a welcome dance, concert, auctions and raffles, a chili cook-off and street fair, a gala dinner and daily sailing events. Approximately 80 cruisers and their local land-based supporters volunteered to organize and administer the events.
Forty-three sailboats from around the world — mostly from the US and Canada — participated. The cruisers were the heroes of the fiesta, taking more than 1,200 donating guests on sailing trips. Prominent local and international musicians donated their talents to perform sunset concerts at sea. Cruiser committee chairfolks, Tim and Donna Melville, from the Nanaimo BC-based Baltic 42DP Northwest Passage 1, deserve special recognition for their promotion, organization, dedication and just plain hard work. They inspired all of us, and even found time during their 10- to 12-hour working days to buy a home here. The sailing events raised nearly 600,000 pesos.
The Zihuatanejo community has enthusiastically embraced the dreams of the cruisers. More than 200 local businesses and artists donated gifts and services for the SailFest auctions and raffles, raising about 250,000 pesos for the kids.
Compassionate annual donors, including Sailfest co-founders Richard and Gloria Bellack, retired teacher Jane Fiala, cruiser Pete Boyce, SOB Volleyball Vacations, and many others contributed more than $45,000 US.
Zihua SailFest, in partnership with local government agencies, Rotary clubs, local donors, generous construction material suppliers and parents of the children, has built 110 classrooms, bathrooms, school kitchens and civic plazas (including 13 new schools), and established a nutrition program that provides 30,000+ school meals a year to hungry children, and has helped to provide hundreds of academic and English-language scholarships. Literally thousands of underprivileged, bright-eyed young Zihua scholars have benefited from the cruisers’ educational initiatives.
Did I mention that we have a hell of a lot of fun while doing it?
It’s convergence time again in Panama. No, not an astronomical event; we’re talking about the annual convergence of Pacific Puddle Jumpers on the Panama Canal. Around this time every year several hundred sailors bound for the idyllic cruising grounds of the South Pacific converge on the Canal Zone from all over Europe, North America’s Eastern Seaboard, the Caribbean, South Africa and South America. Why now? Because February through May is regarded as the ideal weather window for making the 4,000-mile Puddle Jump passage to French Polynesia and beyond.
To celebrate that bold undertaking Latitude 38 and members of the newly formed South Pacific Sailing Network will host two (free) South Pacific Bon Voyage events at opposite ends of the Panama Canal. Each will include highly informative seminars on immigration issues, interisland cruising, cultural traditions and more. Multimedia presentations will be led by French-Tahitian Stephanie Betz of Archipelagoes and Latitude‘s Editor-at-Large Andy Turpin, with additional input from representatives of Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand. So if you’re in the region please note the dates:
South Pacific Bon Voyage at the Balboa YC (Pacific side) — Thursday, March 8, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (staged in the conference room of neighboring Country Inn Hotel
South Pacific Bon Voyage at the Shelter Bay Marina (Caribbean side) — Saturday, March 10, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
In addition to the above, Latitude 38 will host its annual . . .
Pacific Puddle Jump Sendoff Party at the Vallarta YC in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. Monday, March 5, 3-6 p.m. All registered Puddle Jumpers are encouraged to attend.
Look for coverage of these events in ‘Lectronic Latitude and Latitude 38 magazine. Learn more about the PPJ and see this year’s list of entries at www.pacificpuddlejump.com.
When you ask sailors how their weekend was, you’re likely to hear some interesting stories. Thanks to everyone who answered the call last week (it seems like this most recent weekend was a near-identical repeat of the last, with a warm, calm-ish Saturday, followed by a cold, windy Sunday). Here’s the first of a few excerpts we’re going to publish, starting with a story from Patrick Kohlman. "Sorry no photos," he wrote. "Too busy trying not to round up."
"I hadn’t been out sailing on Joyicity, my Davidson quarter ton, for some time. I notified a few crew and friends that I thought it would be nice to go out for a ‘joyride’, maybe to Angel Island for a picnic. My crew Justin and his girlfriend Finn showed up just as I was launching the boat at Brickyard Cove. It was cold and overcast , but hey, sometimes, those are the best sailing days. We bent on a number 2 and the full main. Because the wind was a little brisk and out of the SSW I decided to motorsail out of the harbor. The crew showed up in street clothes, but I didn’t think it a problem as the wind had been little to none for the past month.
"Reaching out of the channel, the breeze started to pick up. The seas were confused as there was a leftover wave train from the south and wind-driven waves from the southwest on an outgoing ebb. Turning south, we headed for the Slot, then the Bay Bridge. The breeze picked up a little more — in the 15- to 18-knot range. I was glad I had chosen the ‘Big Gun,’ my big rudder, because if the wind got up any higher, the winter rudder wouldn’t handle the conditions. Once in the Slot, the party really got started. The waves were building and slapping the starboard forward quarter and spray was flying across the boat. Yahoo! What a ride.
"We opted for the leeward side of Treasure Island for some relief. That’s when I should have put in the deep reef. In winter it never blows hard. Well, almost never. Once we rounded Yerba Buena, the breeze got up a little more. Once in the Slot again it really started to rock ‘n’ roll — wind out of the west with a wash and rinse cycle and gusts in the high 20s. Finally we were able to surf the waves a little instead of bashing into them, the speedo a steady 7.5 then 8 then 8.5, 8.9, water spraying out either side as we got up on a plane and rode the wave, baby!
"Meanwhile, my crew, remember my crew, was huddled on the windward rail thoroughly soaked to the bone. ‘Are you having a good time?’ Rounding up and pirouetting on the keel was the order of the day. So much for light winds in the winter. This was full-on summer conditions. Glad we didn’t try to fly the kite! We made it back to Richmond in record time, the boat completely soaked from stem to stern. I only found out the next day that there were gale warnings out with predicted winds of 18 to 20 knots with gusts into the 30s. Anyone want go out for a ‘joyride’ and a picnic to Angel Island? Ping me."