With reports this month from
Cat's Meow on a fine haul-out in
Mazatlan; from Notre Vie on further
adventures in the Med; from Siesta
on Costa Rica and Panama; from Hot Ice
with tips on preparing for the Sea of Cortez; from Chesapeake
on cruising from the Rio Dulce to Panama; and Cruise
Cat's Meow - Custom
Martin & Robin Hardy
Hauling In Mazatlan
After hearing and reading some horror stories about haulouts
in Mexico, we would like to spread the good word about our experience
at the SENI Boatyard in Mazatlan - and pass on some news about
getting fuel there.
The last time our boat had a bottom job had been September of
'99, so using email, we made arrangments to have her hauled at
the Servicios Navales E Industriales (SENI) yard in Mazatlan
this last April. We did so based on the recommendation of some
cruisers we met in Puerto Vallarta. Mario Uribe was our contact
at SENI. He answered all of our questions, was clear about the
prices, and informed us of an opportunity to haul a couple of
weeks earlier than planned. Incidentally, Mario speaks and writes
English well - having spent three years of his youth in Scotland!
The yard surface at SENI is cement rather than dirt as is the
case at many yards in Mexico, they have a good marine rail system,
boatowners may live aboard while the work is being done, and
they even have 'cruiser only' restrooms. The charges for the
haul, power wash, and bottom painting were reasonable. The best
news is that they really know what they are doing! Although we
brought our own bottom paint, the yard carries Hempl bottom paint
and can get other brands.
While we were on the ways, we found some unexpected problems:
the cutlass bearing we'd replaced three years before in San Pedro
was badly worn, the 20-ft long shaft was also badly worn in two
places, and we found completely rotten wood when we removed two
steel plates from the starboard side of the bow. These problems
extended our time in the yard as well as our out-of-pocket expenses,
but we are very grateful that the problems were found and could
While the shaft was being taken care of, Martin was able to repair
the boo-boo in the bow, with the yard being very helpful by making
supplies available on a pay-for-what-you-use basis. We had also
planned to spray the hull, and after a week of prep work were
ready to try out our new sprayer. But when the yard offered to
spray our paint - using their own professional-quality sprayer
- the price was so good we let them do it. The work crew spent
three hours painstakingly taping the boat, all of which was included
in the quoted price.
Having operated a small yacht maintenance business in San Pedro,
the two of us know boatyards and yard work. After spending 11
days in the SENI yard, living aboard the entire time, we have
nothing negative to report about the experience. SENI operates
a professional yard, with skilled and courteous workers. We were
impressed by the attitude of the crew assigned to our boat, as
well as by their ingenuity. Mario, the production manager; Felix,
the general manager; and Jorge, the job supervisor, were all
very attentive and helpful. And the men who worked on our boat
were careful and courteous, especially when coming aboard. Attention
to detail was superb, and the prices reasonable.
You can .
Tell him Cat's Meow sent you!
The second item we want to pass on is that the Pemex dock - which
is just past the ferry dock inside the Mazatlan Harbor- is open
and ready to sell fuel to cruisers. This is a dock designed for
very large vessels, but smaller boats can be accommodated. We
found Ricardo, Miguel, and Sabino to be quite helpful and careful
about assisting us as we came to the dock. The diesel price is
the same as at a street pump, with no added charges or tax! The
day we took on fuel, we paid $4.91 pesos/liter - which works
out to about $1.85/gallon at the 10:1 exchange rate. While it
is a ride from the marinas in Mazatlan to the fuel dock at the
harbor, it may be worth it for the difference in price.
We are now happily at anchor at Puerto Escondido, enjoying the
islands, people, and area. For us, life doesn't get much better
- robin & martin 6/15/03
Readers - If anyone else wants to share
good boatyard experiences in Mexico - or anywhere else, for that
matter - we'd like to publish them.
Notre Vie - Amel
Super Maramu 53
Ken Burnap & Nancy Gaffney
France & Italy
We have really been enjoying cruising the French and Italian
Rivieras. The crowds were thick in the ports, but we found that
we enjoyed the hum and hustle - it made us feel as though we
were really 'there'. I don't think the ports would be any less
beautiful in the off season, but they wouldn't have the same
The cruising guide suggested that we'd have trouble getting slips
during the very busy months of July and August, but by calling
ahead, persevering, and being just plain lucky, we were never
shut out. Everyone says there are more slips available this year,
perhaps because of the weakened world economy. In any case, there
are also many beautiful anchorages. Most of the anchorages get
pretty full during the day, but empty in the late afternoon when
most boats head back to port.
We had our anniversary dinner in Cannes on July 5th. We also
visited beautiful Port Vauban in Antibes and the wonderful Picasso
Museum. July 14 was our last night on the French part of the
Riviera, and it turned out to be quite memorable. We anchored
just to the east of Nice at Anse de Fose, where the water was
lovely and there were great walking trails ashore. As wonderful
as it was, we had the whole place to ourselves by 6 p.m. The
14th is Bastille Day, of course, which is France's version of
the Fourth of July. At dusk, a small barge loaded with fireworks
entered the anchorage. When darkness fell, we could see the fireworks
off distant Nice, but 'our' fireworks barge just wandered around.
After a lot of time passed without local fireworks, many boats
headed back to port and we took to our bunks. But then the barge
cut loose with one of the most thrilling fireworks displays either
of us have ever seen! There are several large estates on the
bay, and we figured it was a private show for one of the mega
rich owners and their guests - although it seemed as though it
had been put on just for us. It definitely called for a bottle
of Veuve Cliequot, our favorite champagne. So you might say that
we left France with a big bang!
Our next stop was Monaco, where Ken doubled his money at the
roulette table. It was a good thing, too, because the slip fee
was a record-breaking - for us - 134 euros or $150 U.S.! And
they only accepted cash. Nonetheless, Monaco is a fascinating
and beautiful place. It looks more like Manhattan than the Riviera,
and we're amazed that the weight of the towering buildings haven't
sunk it into the sea.
San Remo, on the Italian Riviera, was our next stop. We were
welcomed by a gregarious singing dockhand. I'd been practicing
my Italian, and just love the lilt in the language. We can't
help thinking the Italians just have more fun than their more
reserved French neighbors. San Remo has a wonderful Old Town
with picturesque narrow streets and small restaurants with reasonably
Our next stop was an anchorage off Loano. There was nobody else
there to enjoy the beautiful sunset against the spectacular mountains.
We arrived in Portofino, arguably one of the most picturesque
anchorages in the world, on a Sunday afternoon. The entrance
was so busy that we decided to back off and anchor a ways away.
Monday morning we returned to Portofino, and although we couldn't
find a place to anchor, I did notice a Med-tie space on the dock.
I called the Harbormaster on the VHF - and we were in there!
There are only eight visitor spots in the most exclusive harbor
in Italy, and we got one of them!
After the Harbormaster helped us secure our bow to the mooring
buoy and fasten our stern lines - most ports in the Med have
mooring buoys you have to grab while backing up to the dock,
or laid lines tailed to the quay - he shook his head when we
said our boat was 16 meters long. "No," he said, "your
boat is 15 meters" - explaining that the rates were higher
for 16 meter boats. We held our breath when we asked what the
mooring fee would be. Sixty euros?! Just $67 U.S. - I love Italy!
No cars are allowed in Portofino, which is a treasure of a small
After Portofino, we wandered down the Cinque Terre Coast, where
five charming towns not accessible by road seem to cling to the
cliffs for dear life, and wine grapes and other crops are cultivated
on terraces of very steep slopes. Until recently, the towns were
only connected by footpaths.
We then moved on to the communal dock in Porto Vareggio, which
was basically a cement channel where we could tie up for free.
There were no services available. Italy has a custom of making
free dock space available in just about every harbor. Some are
side-ties, but more commonly you throw out an anchor and back
up to shore - or go bow-to with a stern anchor. Sometimes this
can result in a tangle of anchors - such as we saw at Marciana
Marina on the island of Elba, our next stop - but it all works
out. Elba is lovely, green, and mountainous - and makes us want
to say, "We love Italy!" While on Elba we took a bus
and then a cabinovia - a small cage suspended with a cable -
for a thrilling ride that takes you to the top of Monte Capanne,
the tallest mountain on the island. We could see the entire island
- including the marina our boat was in - from the summit.
We travelled northwest from Elba back to France - or at least
the large French island of Corsica. After rounding Cape Corse,
we anchored near St. Florent. The first day we stopped for lunch
and a swim off a pristine white sand beach. Our lunch was quickly
terminated by northwest winds that built from five knots to 30
knots in a matter of minutes. We immediately retreated to a small
bay where we were somewhat sheltered from the wind and swell
for the night. In the calm of the following morning, we managed
to make it 15 miles to anchor in the shelter off L'Ile Rousse,
where the wind was up to 25 knots again by noon. When we took
the dinghy into town that night to provision and walk around,
it was our first time ashore in Corsica.
Corsica is rugged and wild looking, and her northwest coast deserves
the respect of mariners. We waited three days for the weather
to calm down before attempting to take off, as marinas and anchorages
that could accommodate our 53-ft boat and seven foot draft are
few and far between. But once we were there enjoying the vistas
and the beautiful coves and beaches, it was well worth the effort.
The one thing people coming to Corsica need is a panoramic camera
- to capture the full majesty of its landscape.
From here, we plan to voyage down the east side of Sardinia,
then over to Sicily and the Aeolian Islands, through the Strait
of Messina, and make our way to Greece and Turkey. If anyone
has information on good marinas to leave a boat in Turkey for
the winter, we can be contacted by .
- ken and nancy 7/25/03
Siesta - CSY 44
Ed & Daisy Marill
Costa Rica & Panama
On our way to Panama, we stopped at Bahia Drake, which is just
across the Osa Peninsula from Golfito in the southern part of
Costa Rica. The bay is partially exposed to the northwest swells,
but wasn't too bad. The beach we anchored off of experiences
15-foot tides, and has a small river that is home to some crocodiles.
Yikes! The Osa Peninsula is the most isolated part of the Pacific
Coast of Costa Rica. The village doesn't have electricity yet,
so much of their communication is by VHF radio. The area is home
to a couple of rustic but incredibly beautiful inns with stunning
views. These inns cater to eco-tourists, most of whom fly in
on small planes as there is no road from the capital of San Jose.
When we entered the bay, we couldn't help but notice a mega cruise
ship anchored off of the Corcovado National Preserve. Its passengers
were whisked to the beach for tours of the remote but awesome
rainforest. In addition to the fishing, kayaking, and diving,
a main attraction was the panga rides to a four-mile distant
beach where there is access to the totally wild and richly-populated
One night we dined ashore at El Aguila Osa, one of the two eco-tourists
inns. There were about 20 guests, mostly young gringos. What
a family-style spread they put out over three large wooden tables
- filet mignon, jumbo shrimp, unbelievable salads, and all the
red and white wine we could drink! In addition, there were guanabanana
fruit drinks, the best black bean dip we've ever tasted, and
During dinner, the guests told us about the wonderful guided
tour of the rain forest they'd enjoyed that day. They'd seen
all four species of monkeys, as well as sloths, macaws, parrots,
cotemundis, and much more. This sounded like fun. Fluent in Spanish,
I negotiated a private deal with a local named Alejandro. He
would give us a full day tour of the park for $15/person. He
was very happy with the offer, which leads me to believe that
the inns - which charge $75/person for the same service - don't
do a very good job of sharing the tourist bounty with their workers.
We had a wonderful tour! In addition to the beautiful beaches
and shades of blue we are used to from the Bahamas, there was
also the rich green rainforest vegetation on tall boulders that
almost came down to the water's edge. What a colorful combination!
Our Nikon Coolpix 990 digital camera had bitten the dust the
day before, so we were lucky that our crewmember Kathy had another
digital camera. The photography was some of the best! Seeing
the monkeys and all the fauna was a wonderful experience.
Our last stop in Costa Rica was at Golfito, where we topped off
our diesel tanks and checked out of the country. We left Golfito
just before dark so as to navigate the channel in daylight, and
proceeded south into the night at low speed, to insure a daylight
arrival at Parida, Panama. Here's something different - you don't
have to check in to Panama until you get to Balboa, which is
near Panama City and the Canal!
Dodging rainsqualls and thunderstorms all night reminded us that
Siesta was back in tropical waters. As we approached Isla
Parida at dawn, there were squalls pretty much everywhere inland
of us. We tacked back and forth waiting for them to subside.
Our radar came in very handy for spotting the squalls and monitoring
their movement. When we finally arrived at Isla Parida, we went
around and anchored at picture postcard-perfect Isla Gamez, a
much smaller island on the east side. We suspected that the island
should have been spelled 'Gomez' - and later learned that 'Gamez'
is indeed a misspelling that has long become accepted.
As we were arriving at Gamez, we touched base over VHF with our
friends aboard the trawlers Playpen, Annie and Alyssa,
which had left Golfito the day before us and were now continuing
south. We also heard from Pipedream, which was anchored
off Islas Secas about 23 miles to the south, and the Winship
family aboard their catamaran Chewbacca, which was anchored
at the Veradero anchorage on the south side of Isla Gamez. We
later moved our boat down to share the anchorage with the Winships,
and when we did, we were introduced to a local family that lives
on the island. Things progressed quickly from there.
A man named Chachi and his family, as well as his brother and
parents, own part of Isla Gamez. Chachi agreed to take us into
the city of Pedregal - a trip which involves crossing about 12
miles of open water and going five miles into the estuary - early
the next day aboard his 27-ft panga powered by a 9.9 hp outboard.
The fee would be $70/person. He and his wife and daughter would
stay in Pedregal, while we took a 15-minute cab ride further
inland to David, the second largest city in Panama.
The 2.5 hour panga ride was an exciting experience! We did not
see a soul - or any sign of human habitation - until after we'd
crossed the open water, traversed the river bar, and gone upstream
almost all the way to Pedregal. Considering that there were seven
of us in the panga and lots of other gear, I was surprised that
the relatively small 9.9 hp outboard was able to move us at about
There is more than 10 feet of tide in the estuary, and we crossed
over some areas that were almost dry - yet when we got to the
small town of Pedregal, we were astonished to see several large
sailboats anchored off the Pedregal YC! There was also a pretty
good sized ship and some mighty large shrimp boats. Knowledge
of the estuary and the river count for everything.
We stayed at the modern Hotel Nacional, which is close to the
downtown plaza, for $54 a night. The hotel has a large pool,
a movie complex with four good-sized theatres, a good restaurant
and buffet - and a casino! We were astonished at how inexpensive
things are in Panama! I purchased some great synthetic surfer
print shorts for $5. Identical shorts sell for $25 to $35 at
resort cities in Mexico. There was a well-stocked grocery store
near the plaza, so we picked up some things for the Winships
on Chewbacca. Having just provisioned in Golfito, we didn't
need much ourselves.
We also went to TESA, which is Transportation and Equipment SA,
the 'SA' being the Panamanian equivalent of corporation. There
we purchased a brand new Yamaha 15 hp outboard for $1,500 net.
No tax. The even lower special price was due to a big fair going
on in David, with government concessions on tax. We paid 3% extra
to put the purchase on our credit card. A Yamaha 15 in the States
sells for about $2,500 - not including tax. Since TESA in David
did not have the engine in stock, we picked it up later in Panama
City, right off the ship. TESA has offices in David, Panama City
and Boca del Toro.
While purchasing a newspaper off the plaza, Kathy lost her wallet
out of her backpack to a pickpocket. She feels sure it was a
12-year-old that she saw when she felt a slight tug. She lost
$80 in cash plus an ATM card that she promptly cancelled.
After another long and salty panga trip, we returned to the anchorage,
where Siesta was lying at anchor safely. It had been a
great surprise adventure.
- ed and daisy 6/15/03
Hot Ice - Cheoy Lee
Frank & Ellen Atteberry
Sea of Cortez
We began our long planned cruise to Mexico on April 1, heading
south with stops at Half Moon Bay, Monterey, Oceanside, and San
Diego. While in San Diego, we obtained fishing permits for the
two of us, the boat, and the dinghy for one year. It came to
$207. We didn't get our tourist cards (visas) until we checked
in at La Paz. They cost us a total of $23.
Our plan was to get into the Sea of Cortez by June 1, so we only
made minimal stops at Turtle Bay and Los Muertos before arriving
in La Paz. We found going down the Pacific Coast of Baja to be
like going the wrong way down the Nimitz Freeway, as we saw countless
red and green navigation lights of northbound boats. It was also
cold and overcast until we rounded Cabo Falso at the tip of Baja.
By the time we sailed 80 miles up into the Sea of Cortez toward
La Paz, the air and water temperatures were a glorious 85°.
While at Los Muertos, we spent three days at anchor, enjoying
swimming and the delicious food at the new Giggling Marlin Bar
& Grill next to the old warehouse ruins.
Our stay at Marina de La Paz was wonderful, and gave our bodies
time to adjust to the major temperature difference between San
Francisco Bay and the 100-degree heat of La Paz. Once again we
seemed to be out of sync, as by mid-July several cruisers had
left La Paz, gone around the tip of Baja and up the Pacific side
to Mag Bay, where they planned to spend the summer. Located about
150 miles north of Cabo, we're told that Mag Bay has pleasant
temperatures and has hundreds of miles of shoreline to explore.
Apparently, it's what San Francisco Bay was like before it was
In any event, here are some tips and information we'd like to
share with folks headed south in the Ha-Ha this fall - especially
if they plan to spend a summer in the Sea:
1) Install fans, fans, fans - and then add two more fans. Some
folks on a nearby Hallberg-Rassy 41 boast that they have 14 fans,
which sounds about right. The Hella brand fans draw minimal amps,
and the open-bladed white ones push the most air.
2) Food - as long as it's not imported - is cheap in La Paz.
Soriana's and CCC, which are both like Super Wal-Marts, have
great selections and prices on things like canned goods and paper
products. They also have lots of deli meats and a huge cheese
counter, in addition to a good selection of fresh fish, beef,
pork, and chicken. They have frozen turkeys, whole, single breast,
and halves. They carry several types of smoked chorizo, which
is more like linguisa found in the U.S., and doesn't contain
all the odds and ends that make the U.S. stuff so repulsive.
If you want great fresh steaks cut a certain way, go to the indoor
Farmer's Market on Bravo Street and look for Carolina's stand.
It's less than $6/kilo.
Six-packs of beer - except for imported brands like Moosehead
- are only $2.89 at Soriana's.
3) Restaurant food is both inexpensive and delicious - as long
as you avoid the tourist spots. You can always get a vareity
of huge meals for $3.50. Mr. Kim's has great Asian food, and
the daily special plus iced tea in his air-conditioned restaurant
is only $4. And, he now delivers at no charge. Rancho Viejo is
a favorite for all the local dishes and great stuffed baked potatoes.
Just one block from the Marina de La Paz, a guy opens the gate
at his house at 7:30 p.m. and makes fantastic bacon-wrapped hot
dogs with all the goodies - just like Casper's in Oakland - for
90 cents each. Hamburgers - cooked to order with grilled onions,
cheese, tomato slices, avocado, lettuce, and bacon - are just
$1.50. Tacos are about $1, depending on what kind of meat you
4) Sunshades are a necessity, and should be made of light-colored
fabric. After considering all the designs and options, we ordered
the Shade Tree models from Alabama before leaving Alameda. We
got one for the foredeck, and one to fit between the main mast
and mizzen. The biggest advantage is that they will take winds
of about 20 knots, and pack up - including their tent-sized shock
corded poles - into a tent bag that's 12"x32".
5) Bring lots of Sunbrella fabric and Phifertex mesh to make
or have covers made. You'll want them for dinghies, gas cans,
gas lines, dinghy wheels, and anything else made of plastic or
rubber. Chewy - you can reach him on Channel 22 - will use your
materials to make covers for everything. A dinghy bra for our
10-ft Carib was $60.
6) Marina fees are about the same as in the States. We paid $550/month
for our 44-footer at Marina de La Paz, and that included electricity,
cable TV, and everything else. The daily rate is considerably
higher, so if you plan on staying a few weeks, it may be less
expensive to sign up for the whole month. If you stay longer
than a month, you still pay the monthly rate per day.
If you anchor out, you pay an API 'port fee' of $1/day, and then
pay the daily/monthly rate for using a dinghy dock, showers,
garbage, and water. At Marina de La Paz, that comes to $1 a day.
7) Public transportation is inexpensive in La Paz. The various
size collectivo buses are four pesos to wherever is marked on
their windshield. All collectivos go from the downtown's Centro
area outwards, then back again. There are no specific bus stops,
you just wave your hand. When you want off, just say "Bajan,"
and the driver will stop on a dime - not at the next corner.
Always negotiate taxi fares in advance. Normally, you can go
one-way anywhere for $4. We normally would take the collectivo
from near the marina to Centro, then find the bus with 'Soriana'
on the windshield. After grocery shopping, we'd take a taxi back
to the marina.
8) If you're going to be swimming or snorkeling, you'll need
a Lyrca suit to protect you from the jellyfish. They're not always
around, but when they are, you'll want the protection. Not all
jellies float on the surface, and they are not easy to see.
Katy's, located on Cinco de Mayo, will make a custom fitted Lycra
suit for $35.
9) Getting money from the ATM. Check with your bank before you
leave the States to find out how they compute the exchange rate
for foreign ATMs. When the exchange rate was 10 to 1, we withdrew
3000 pesos and were expecting to see a debit of $300. But when
we checked the transaction online, the bank had gotten a much
better exchange rate, so we were only charged $289 - a savings
to us of $11. That's more than 5%!
10) Bring your own zincs. Mexican divers do not carry them, and
the local stores charge big bucks for them.
11) When it comes to anchoring, practice, practice, practice!
The nightly winds often blow hard at La Paz, the current switches
direction, and the middle of the night is no time to have to
re-anchor. If you think you have the right size anchor for your
boat as indicated by all the guides, exchange it for the next
12) Before leaving San Diego, stop by Downwind Marine and bring
the guys their favorite coffee drink and a good sandwich. For
when you're in Mexico, Downwind will become your most important
connection with the U.S. for needed parts, goodies, and other
things you should have brought with you.
13) When it comes to towels, forget the big fluffy ones. You
want towels that will dry you off - and then dry themselves quickly.
We use the pricey camping towels available from REI that are
sold under the brand name Aquis. They are microfiber and come
in several sizes.
Perhaps not everyone will be in agreement with all of our 'tips',
but we think they are important to consider.
- frank & ellen 8/8/03
Frank & Ellen - We wholeheartedly
agree with all of your tips and information. Good stuff. By the
way, we've never heard of anybody spending the summer in Mag
Bay, but it sounds like an interesting idea. If anyone has done
it, we'd like to hear about it.
While we agree with your tips, we would discourage folks from
duplicating your late spring departure to Mexico. Assuming someone
wasn't on a tight schedule, we'd recommend enjoying cruising
in Southern California for the summer, then heading south in
late October or November. It's almost always a bad idea to fight
Chesapeake - Catana
Marvin & Ruth Stark
France To Sacto In Five Years
We sailed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge on July 14 to complete
a 5+ year trip aboard our Catana 44 Chesapeake from St.
Tropez, France - where we bought our catamaran - to our home
in Sacramento. In the first four years, we cruised the Mediterranean,
crossed the Atlantic, sailed through the Caribbean Islands, and
after a stop in Fort Lauderdale for repairs, sailed up the East
Coast to Maine. We left our boat in Guatemala for the 2002 hurricane
season, returning in November 2002. We have written about many
of these adventures in Latitude. This final installment
will cover our voyage from the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, through
the Panama Canal, and home to Sacramento.
Having left our boat at Suzanna's Laguna in Fronteras - 30 miles
up the Rio Dulce - for eight months while we returned to California,
we returned to find our boat in good shape. Suzanna's Marina
is cheap - just $120/month to store our 44-footer - and very
sheltered. It's not accessible enough for everyday living, however,
plus it's too hot and there isn't any wind.
A word on the Rio Dulce, which is 20 to 40 feet deep, and wanders
through a deep vine-covered jungle gorge. The ride up the river
is spectacular! There are all kinds of monkeys and birds, and
you see lots of native Mayans paddling around in cayucos. Getting
into the river can be a problem for some boats. The mouth is
at Livingston, a port of entry, and you have to find the pass
through the sandy bar that might have as much as six feet of
water if you're lucky. Our cat draws just over 2.5 feet, so we
were able to barrel across the bar with no problem. It was not
so easy for the monohulls following us, as they had to wait for
high tide - and still did a lot of plowing through the sand and
mud. Alternatively, one can call the local tow service which,
for $100, will attach a line to your main halyard, heel your
boat over, and drag you across the bar!
As we said, the ride up the river is worth the trouble of getting
over the bar. Many cruisers hang out in the sweet and warm water
of the Rio Dulce - indeed, some have been there for years and
may never venture out to sea again. The bus service in Guatemala
is good and inexpensive, so one can economically visit Mayan
ruins in Tikal and Copan, or visit Guatemala City or Antigua
- all delightful places. We were careful about our personal security
because Guatemala can be a dangerous place, but we didn't have
any problems. In early 2003, we headed back down the Rio Dulce
and then set sail for Honduras and the Bay of Islands.
We stayed at the island of Utilla for a week, then continued
on to Roatan, where we found 18 boats hunkered down at anchor
in French Harbor. All of the cruisers complained about the unusually
bad weather, saying that one cold Norther after another had been
blowing down from the States. These Northers would be stalled
by the tall mountains of Guatemala, inducing lots of rain. The
rain didn't stop when we got there. Ruth says that the rest of
the world must have been experiencing a drought, because we'd
got hit by a world's worth of rain!
When you cruise, you're going to have your share of problems.
We'd been trying to get our 12-volt fridge to work properly for
months without success. Three different technicians claimed to
"know exactly" what the problem was. The first technician,
an American, charged the system with the wrong freon. The second
technician overcharged the system with high pressure. The third
'expert' didn't speak a word of English, and proceeded to tear
everything out - including sawing right through the copper tubing!
He didn't give a damn what the written instructions or I had
to say. He overcharged the unit with freon, and we continued
to have problems. Being experts, all three technicians naturally
charged an arm and a leg for their services.
We had a bigger problem, however, one that was of our own doing.
While motoring in Roatan at five knots, we hit a reef, badly
bending both rudders! One was jammed against the hull in such
a way that we could only steer in large circles. After four hours
of tugging - with generous help from fellow cruisers - we jammed
one rudder straight and were able to steer with the other.
The nearest place to haul a 23-ft wide catamaran was La Ceiba,
40 miles south on the north coast of Honduras. La Ceiba is a
medium-size city with a small river 12 miles outside of town.
Dale Westin, an American ex-pat, along with his group of mostly
Cuban ex-pats, has put together a decent team of technicians
and boat repair personnel. They have an 80-ton Travel-Lift that's
25 feet wide, plus other equipment necessary to handle most boat
repairs. Since our rudders had been made with tubes, they could
not be straightened, so the yard machined solid stainless bar
stock to create completely new rudders. In addition, the Cuban
electronics technicians were able to fix almost everything, including
the fridge, SSB, and watermakers. While hauled, we took the opportunity
to get new epoxy bottom paint.
We did manage to get everything fixed, but I can't say the prices
at this remote Third World yard were particularly cheap. And
it really was out of the way. A trip into town required fording
a small stream and driving a couple of miles down a muddy road
through a swamp before you finally reached a partially paved
road. The taxi drivers didn't like to bring us back to the yard
after dark because they thought it wasn't safe. Not safe? They
risk all everyday thanks to the mosquitoes and no-see-ums!
We did manage to get away for four days to visit the Mayan mountain
city of Copan. It was delightful, with friendly people and more
detailed ruins than Tikal. We got a nice hotel for $18, and dined
at good restaurants for very reasonable prices. After more than
three miserably rainy weeks on the hard, our cat was relaunched
- in the rain, naturally.
Our first stop was Isla Guanaja, which had a great anchorage.
But it was very poor and didn't seem to have much to offer. We
waited a week for decent weather in Guanaja before leaving on
a long overnight sail to Vivorillo Reef, a rest stop on our way
to Panama. The seas were so rough, however, that we soon had
to turn back. We tried the trip two days later. It was still
rough, but by motoring all night and day in steep and unruly
seas, we made it. Ruth was seasick all the way, but really hung
Our stop at Vivorillo Reef was pleasant. There are three small
islands surrounded by a reef, and all are a long way from any
other land. Big fishing boats sometimes stop for shelter, and
we were able to trade a bottle of rum for lobster. A cruising
friend caught a large kingfish and gave us a 10-pound chunk,
so we ate well.
Three days later, we headed south for Isla Providencia, way out
in the middle of the western Caribbean Sea, about halfway on
our route to Panama. We had a rousing 220-mile overnight passage
under double-reefed main and reefed genoa. We flew off huge waves
and often landed with a crash while doing eight to 10 knots!
Although seasick once again, Ruth was a real trooper. It was
an expensive passage, however, as our $3,000 spinnaker blew out
before we could get it down on the first night.
It rained most of the night on the passage, and we couldn't see
Providencia even when our GPS said we were just one mile away.
Since Providencia is surrounded by a reef, we dropped all sail
and crept ahead slowly. Suddenly the rain and fog cleared - and
the channel was right in front of us! We anchored in the bay
and, after clearing in with the help of Mr. Bush the agent, we
spent a week visiting the island. We rode our bikes around the
island, one circumnavigation being 10 miles. There wasn't much
to buy, as the supply ferry from Honduras only arrives once a
week. Getting around wasn't that convenient either, as all the
taxis were out of gas. Still, we had a nice stop.
We then continued 330 miles south - meaning another two nights
at sea - to Colon, Panama. We had yet another wild and wooly
ride, as even with double reefed sails we could sail as fast
as we dared. The seas were 7 to 11 feet, had come all the way
across the Atlantic, and gave us a pretty hard time. Nonetheless,
our trusty autopilot steered all the way. We were very tired
at daybreak on the third day, but we were able to shake the reefs
out and really began to make time - 10 to 14 knots - in smoother
water. We sailed through many large ships at anchor that afternoon,
then between the breakwaters into the Canal Zone, and anchored
at The Flats not far from the Panama Canal YC.
After three days, we were able to get a Med-tie. Family guests
arrived just in time to help remove the entire fridge and replace
all of the wet and soggy insulation. It required two days of
solid work in torrid heat and humidity, with mosquitoes day and
night. Even during the day Colon is not considered safe, but
we went out in groups and were careful, and didn't have a problem.
We shopped at the Duty Free Zone and were able to provision the
boat well. We loaded on six cases of first class wine, beer,
and gin, all of which we'd purchased at rock bottom prices. After
making a run on the local vegetable market, we filled our larder
in time for our run out to the San Blas Islands.
[To be continued next month.]
- marvin & ruth 8/10/03
"Where have we been the last several years?" rhetorically
ask Sam and Caren Edwards - perhaps the only two people who will
be returning from a four-year cruise to resume their great jobs
in Silicon Valley - of the Portola Valley-based Marquesas 56
Rhapsodie. "We and our daughters Rachel and Dana
pretty much followed the Coconut Milk Run, with some minor variations,
until we tried to return to Fiji after spending a hurricane season
in New Zealand. During that passage we got walloped by bad weather,
and damaged the main beam. We limped into Fiji, evaluated the
damage, and agreed with our insurance agent that the best course
of action was to ship Rhapsodie to Australia for repairs.
This only took about a year - which wasn't really so bad a deal,
as our girls got to attend local Aussie schools, and we got to
hang at Sanctuary Cove, a wonderful development just south of
Brisbane on the Coomera River. The place even included a golf
cart to get from the house to the cute little marina! Once Rhapsodie
was repaired and back in the water, our family invited the Farrands,
our favorite family from New Zealand, to accompany us up the
Queensland coast. The Farrands - and their four children - accepted.
Hell, they even brought a friend of their eldest child to make
sure none of us got lonely. We four adults and seven kids ended
up motoring for hundreds of miles in no wind until we dropped
them off in Port Arthur. In retrospect, it was one of the most
enjoyable passages of our cruise. We continued on to Lizard Island
and later Papua New Guinea. We loved PNG for several months -
until we started getting seriously ill with upper respiratory
diseases. So we hustled back to Australia."
"That left us at a crossroads," Sam continues. "Should
we continue west like all our cruising buddies and face the prospects
of nasty pirates and 9/11 repercussions, or should we call it
quits and head straight back to the good ol' USA? Doing a little
research, we discovered that we could ship our 56-ft cat from
Brisbane to Florida for a measly $25,000, sell her for a fabulous
price, fly back to California - and get our great jobs back in
Silicon Valley! So that became our plan - we just wanted to sail
to New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and the Solomons before bringing Rhapsodie
back to Brisbane for shipping to Florida. Well, guess what? While
in New Caledonia, we met a Frenchman who was horrified that we
could even consider doing anything but sailing Rhapsodie
back to Florida. Vive la France! So on the spur of the moment,
we decided to cancel shipping the boat, and sailed to Fiji. So
here we are, ready to sail east against the advice of virtually
every expert we've contacted. I'm very nervous about the trip,
so if anyone has made it, please .
We'll keep you posted of our progress."
Last minute update from Rhapsodie:
"I think I've found crew for our next passage, but thanks
anyway for offering to put an advert in 'Lectronic Latitude.
We've gone from famine to feast in looking for crew. I found
a Dutch guy with oodles of bluewater experience who wants to
sail east from Fiji to Panama with us. What worries me is that
anybody who would sign up for this passage has to be nuts! Tomorrow
morning, I will meet with another candidate. By noon I'll decide
on one of them. Bright and early the next morning, we'll head
out for the southern Lao islands, off limits to visitors for
several years - except to very rich folks on megayachts - because
Fiji wants to keep these islands pure. I've been finagling for
several years to introduce my impurities to the equation, and
it looks like I might win. If all goes well, I will arrive at
Moalo Island on August 21, and be able to persuade Ratu Jope
Tuwai, one of the big chiefs from Vanua Blavu, to accompany me
aboard Rhapsodie for the next several weeks. You see,
in this part of Fiji, paperwork and formal permission from Customs
and Immigration count for naught. All you really need is a sufficiently
powerful Ratu, and you can rock 'n roll. We will cruise the Lao
islands with Ratu Jope, eventually returning him to his home
in Vanua Blavu. I will then leave Rhapsodie to fly home
for an extremely important family wedding. When I return to Fiji
and my new crew, we will head to Panama via Wallis and Futuna,
Tokelau, and Christmas Island (Kiribati) - then nothing for about
4,500 miles until we hit Cocos Island off Costa Rica. We will
attempt to follow the so-called equatorial countercurrent - all
1 to 1.5 knots of it - whoopee! - squalls and all, hoping against
hope to not run out of fuel, water, food, and social intercourse.
I give us about a 20% chance of succeeding. Once again, if anyone
has tried this, ."
If you don't mind a personal observation, Sam, you sound like
an entirely different person than who set sail from California
four years ago. It seems you've transformed from a moderately
formal corporate type who would always calculate the odds to
play things safe, to a . . . well, a swashbuckler who seems determined
to live his life with gusto! Bon voyage - and do keep us posted
on your progress - or lack of it.
"On August 11, the residents of El Mogote - a very nice
area of Bahia de La Paz off which to anchor - took an evening
to clean the beach opposite downtown La Paz," report Susan
Richter, Vice Commodore of the Club Cruceros de La Paz and El
Mogote resident, and Slade Ogletree, Commodore of the Paradise
Found YC. "Mariners often use the beach to walk a pet, swim,
gather shells after a storm, or enjoy the sight of La Paz across
the water. The clean-up was suggested by a couple of El Mogote
residents, and conducted by members of Club Cruceros and the
Paradise Found YC. The small powerboat La Paloma brought their
American guests to the beach, and they worked as hard or harder
than we locals! Participants walked the beach for about two hours
gathering trash - especially bottles and cans - in sturdy bags
donated by Marina de La Paz. The clean-up was followed by a potluck
on the beach. A good time was had by all in what was the first
joint effort by the two yacht clubs.
"Club Cruceros and Paradise Found YC plan to join forces
again to do a bigger clean up after the Baja Ha-Ha fleet arrives
in November and there will be more people in town," Richter
and Ogletree continue. "Island Madness Sailing Week in the
spring is also planning to dedicate more energy toward a clean-up
of the Isla Partida area. Cruisers know that not all of the trash
on the beaches and islands was left there by them, but it doesn't
make any difference how it got there, it's all of our responsibility
to make sure it gets cleaned up."
Way to go! As most of us know, Loreto Fest led the way in the
clean-up of Baja beaches, and we're delighted to see that the
two yacht clubs in La Paz are taking responsibility for El Mogote
and Isla Partida. What's needed is for the momentum to keep rolling,
and for there to be a major cruiser clean-up of all the garbage
- from fishermen and cruisers alike - from all the islands in
the Sea of Cortez. It wouldn't be that hard, and it would be
a heck of a lot of fun. We sense it's going to happen soon.
"I'm an American from San Francisco living on my boat Michelle
here in Ensenada," writes Bill Wisda, "and would like
to let everyone know about a new VHF net for mariners in Ensenada.
We're on VHF 22A 0800 each morning, and welcome the pariticpation
of all cruisers and mariners within radio range. Roger, the Dockmaster
at Baja Naval, is providing daily weather forecasts, and Richard
Long of Pilgrim in Cruiseport Marina covers upcoming events.
If anyone needs to know about restaurants, anchoring, berthing,
clearing in, or anything else in Ensenda, the answers can be
found on our local net."
"I will leave this morning for the Perlas Islands, 35 miles
from Flamenco Marina in Panama," reports Mike Harker of
the much-travelled Manhattan Beach-based Hunter 466 Wanderlust.
"My former crew Carla has flown in from Equador after visiting
the Galapagos with her mother, and will stay with me as long
as she likes. Fabio, who became her travelling partner after
she sailed on a small cat from South Africa to Brazil, will stay
with me until Hawaii, at which time he'll return to Sao Paulo.
I hope to reach the Islands by Thanksgiving, and then have my
boat on display at Sail Expo in Oakland next spring. Hunter has
again asked me to make Wanderlust available for their
Discover Sailing program. I hope to see as many Latitude
readers as possible at the show, so I can tell them about my
adventures sailing this boat back and forth across the Atlantic
and Med, and back and forth between the Caribbean and Florida.
While Wanderlust was in Panama, I took a month break to
return home to Southern California. Now back, I had her bottom
painted with the last 20-litre can of 17% TBT black bottom paint
in Panama. I sure hope it will wash off before I get to California,
because it's illegal there."
"I'm planning a cruise later this year or early next year
to Oahu, and would like information on all the marinas on that
island," writes Michael Payne of the Northern California-based
Formosa 40 ketch Pacific Puffin.
There are two major marinas on Oahu; the state-owned and operated
Ala Wai in Honolulu, and the privately-owned Ko Olina Marina
down by Barber's Point. There are also a number of smaller ones,
both up at Kaneohe Bay and over by the airport. In addition to
transient slips at the marinas, there is often guest berthing
available at the Hawaii and Wakiki YCs - hospitable clubs which
are located in the Ala Wai. But you really need to buy a cruising
guide to Hawaii to get all the information and pertinent means
of contact. Hopefully, it will be a cruising guide that will
explain why it's a really crummy - if not dangerous - idea to
sail from California to Hawaii between November and May. As our
friend Sam Vahey, who did winter crossings twice with his Ranger
37 Odysseus, says, "The pilot charts are right when
they say the wind averages 20 knots in the winter. Half the time
it blows 40 knots, and half the time there is no wind at all."
"Sixty-three degrees - that's the temperature here in Fiji
this morning!" grumbles Blair Grinols of the Vallejo-based
46-ft Capricorn Cat. "With the wind chill from the
breeze factored in, it's probably 55 degrees. If I hear anyone
dare to call this "wonderful weather in Fiji", I'll
probably go off the deep end. My 3.5 months in Fiji have been
the worst of my seven-year cruising career. A couple of weeks
ago, a dinghy was stolen from one of the cruisers in Musket Cove.
Two other boats were subsequently burglarized, including Keith
and Susan Levy's Richmond-based Catalina 47 C'est La Vie.
All is not well in this paradise. I recently anchored here with
barely enough room between us and the boat beside us - and don't
you know some idiot squeezed in between! I protested so loudly
that he moved. While I was gone from the boat, another boat squeezed
in, leaving less than 40 feet between us this morning. We're
lucky it's been calm. I guess maybe I'm feeling blue because
the family has flown back to the States and it will be pretty
lonely until I get back up into the Marshalls, secure the boat
for the off season, and fly home. I've been out here a long time,
so I'm really looking forward to the change of being home for
The above email sounds uncharacterstically glum of Blair, who
seems to have never really warmed to Fiji. So we asked Peter
and Susan Wolcott of the Kapaa, Kauai-based SC 52 Kiapa
how they felt about that island country.
"We enjoyed the first six to eight weeks of the season -
and had family come down and charter a catamaran to join us -
in southwest Fiji. That area is relatively touristy - at least
the natives are thoroughly used to tourists and yachties. The
weather in the southwest is excellent - sunny and dry - because
the cruising grounds are normally in the lee of the big island.
We have heard that Blair and some others have been disappointed
in the weather. It has been cool - down to the mid-60s at night.
If you're coming down from the equator like Blair, that's a big
drop in temperature. But if you're coming up from New Zealand
- as we and many others did - it's delightfully warm. The water
temperature was 79° when we arrived in early June, but later
dropped to as low as 76° in July. That still hasn't stopped
us from diving and snorkeling - most of the time without wetsuits.
There are some really rainy and gray parts of Fiji - especially
the southeast sides of Vanua Levu, Viti Levu, Taveuni, and a
few other high islands. Yet for every wet spot, there is a lee
and a relatively sunny and dry spot. It's like Hawaii in that
respect. Unlike Hawaii, the tropical weather here is more frequently
interrupted by systems in the dead of winter - meaning June and
July here in the southern hemisphere. Now that it's August, the
systems from the Tasman Sea aren't impacting us as much as the
last couple of months.
"More recently," the Wolcotts continue, "we've
gotten ever more off the beaten track - and are even more convinced
that Fiji is 'the bomb'! We've visited some remote islands and
villages that are absolutely spectacular! We're currently in
northeast Fiji, and as far as we're concerned, this rates as
the prettiest place in the world - with the possible exception
of our homebase of Hanalei Bay, Kauai. But unlike Hawaii, the
anchorages here are picture perfect and snug. In a cruising activity
not atypical of Fiji, yesterday we took a handful of the villagers
out for some sailing and fishing. The sailing conditions were
perfect, and we were all pleased with the catch - five ahi, two
barracuda, and one big mahi mahi. After the fish were cleaned
and divied up, we enjoyed a volleyball game in the village, and
a great evening of sipping kava and telling fishing tales. Yeah,
we still think Fiji is great!"
"Do you have any inside information regarding bringing a
36-foot sailboat to the West Coast from the Rio Dulce in Guatemala?"
asks Eric Lowe of Sausalito. "Are there reliable trucking
companies that will haul a boat across Guatemala and/or all the
way to San Francisco? If I could even get the boat to the Pacific
side of Guatemala, after hurricane season I could deliver her
in two or three shorter trips to Acapulco or maybe Mazatlan,
and then perhaps truck her to California. Any advice?"
There's only one good way to get that boat from the Rio Dulce
to California - and it's fun and relatively easy. Before the
winter Northers start blowing down from the States, sail the
boat from the Rio Dulce to Houston, taking advantage of the great
Gulfstream flow to help get you there - and perhaps make interim
stops at Isla Mujeres and Cuba. Once to Houston, have the boat
trucked to California. It's done all the time. Not only are there
no trucking companies that would haul the boat across Guatemala
to the Pacific, but you wouldn't be able to get anybody to insure
the trip. And even if you got to the Pacific Coast, you'd have
the long trip - and Baja Bash - before you even got to Southern
California. Going by way of Galveston is the only solution.
"I left San Francisco in '92, and am currently chartering
the CT-65 Valhalla in Panama's San Blas Islands,"
writes Bill Riggs. "In fact, Valhalla is the undisputed
flagship of Panama. But I'm writing you about another matter.
I first entered Club Nautico in 1995, when I fell in love with
Cartagena, Colombia. I knew Norman Bennett, the marina's owner,
very well. In fact, his celebrated arrest took place while he
was standing next to my boat. I've heard the whole incredible
story of his incarceration and everything else. The only time
I've seen him since was in Panama in 2001. He didn't want to
be recognized, so we didn't talk. The thing is that Bennett's
contract with the government for the marina concession has expired,
and I am supporting a group trying to get a new concession. I've
had 8+ years of experience with Norman's wife Candelaria - who
is still running Club Nautico - and nearly all of it was bad.
With Norman no longer around to control her, the situation there
has become unbearable. For the good of Cartagena and the cruising
community, we need all the help we can muster to get rid of Candelaria
Truco de Bennett. I understand that you have run articles about
Cartagena that did not support Candelaria. I would very much
like to have copies of them to help in our efforts."
Over the years, we've run quite a few articles about Club Nautico,
about Norman apparently being set up for arrest, and about his
long and strange incarceration. HIs prison diaries are right
out of Papillon! We never met Norm, but we did meet Candelaria
on two occasions - but too briefly to form an opinion of her.
To the best of our recollection, the most negative thing published
about her in Latitude was somebody saying that she was
nicknamed 'The Dragon Lady'. We can't recall anyone saying that
she should be removed or that conditions in the marina were intolerable.
On the contrary, cruisers have frequently had very complimentary
comments about the place. As such, we don't think there is anything
in the Latitude archives that will help your efforts.
It's been years since we or our boat has been to Cartagena. If
anyone has been there recently, we'd enjoy hearing your assessment
of the situation at Club Nautico under Candelaria's reign.
"I've sailed from French Polynesia to Hawaii," reports
Rick Gio of the Sebastopol-based Freya 39 Gypsy Warrior,
"where I finally found an internet connection fast enough
to email some photos of where I've been. I'll be leaving Kaneohe
Bay near the end of July to singlehand back to San Francisco."
Norman Schofield of Seashell, a very dear cruiser in La
Paz, died on Juy 5, reports Petrina Yeatts of Kiwi in
Ensenada. "He apparently had a heart attack while trying
to start the outboard on his dinghy, and was later found in the
harbor. Norman arrived in La Paz four years ago, and his gentle
ways and English humor won many hearts. He recited comic poems
at the cruisers' Wednesday night Jam sessions, one of the favorites
being Albert and The Lion. One time he included his border
collie Angus in a poem - Angus always barks at the word 'Sea
lion'. We loved Norman dearly, and he will be sadly missed.
"I'm in the process of importing our Australian-built Perry
43 catamaran Tango from Australia, after which we hope
to sail in the Baja Ha-Ha to Mexico," reports Mark Purdy
of Napa. "My reason for writing is that we are having a
hell of a time finding berthing somewhere in Southern California
- the cat is being delivered to Long Beach - until the Ha-Ha
starts in late October. Calls to several randomly selected marinas
have been unsuccessful, with most of them saying they have multiple
year waiting lists. In any event, most don't have berths for
cats as big as ours - 43 feet by 21 feet. Since you bring Profligate
through this neck of the woods at least twice a year, we thought
you might have suggestions. We only need a place for a month
Congratulations on your new boat! We know exactly the situation
you face, and how to best handle it. Rather than repeat ourselves,
see the advice we gave to Douglas Thorne of Tamara Lee Ann
in this month's Letters section.
"I am now permanently in Sydney," writes Leo Gulley
of the Group Finot-designed 40-ft Hawkeye. "I sailed
my boat - which was built of aluminum by the Millerick Brothers
at Coast Marine with design help from Gary Mull and Carl Schumacher
- into Sydney Harbor many years ago, fell in love with the place,
and have never left. Hawkeye appeared in Latitude
about four times over the years, the last would have been in
'92 when while we were anchored in Moorea and you took some photos
of us spinnaker flying. There's great sailing out of Sydney,
as it's 1,000 miles to Noumea, 1,200 to New Zealand, and 420
to Lord Howe Island. Sydney is home to the Cruising Yacht Club
of Australia, which hosts, among other events, the Sydney to
Hobart Race. Sydney has warm water all year round, doesn't get
fog, and the temperature never drops below 50° - but I can't
get Latitude 38. At least I can read the 'Lectronic
Although it's usually hard to tell if you mind your own business,
Baja has a big drug problem. And sometimes apparently innocent
people can get caught up in it. Terry Kennedy, who is originally
from Redwood City, but who has lived on his boats in Puerto Escondido,
Baja, for 25 years, explains:
"I have a serious problem that I'd like as many people as
possible to know about. My fiancée Dawn Marie Wilson of
the Puerto Escondido-based trimaran Sunshine is in prison
in Ensenada. She'd been driving north from Loreto when the police
stopped her in Ensenada, took her credit cards, and put her in
jail so she couldn't cancel her cards. While incarcerated, the
police ran up thousands of dollars of charges, then turned her
over to the Federal Police on a phony drug charge. This has been
all over the ham nets for some time. In any event, she has been
locked up in the state penitentiary in Ensenada since April 12.
Even though she was framed and had her money ripped off, she's
still being held. The prosecution has already told Dawn - or
Maria, as she's known in prison - that the police can't seem
to find the 'evidence' they once claimed to have. Yet she's still
behind bars. The American Embassy is doing what they always do
- nothing! If anybody has any ideas on how to help, we'd sure
While most of the Mexican people are very nice, there certainly
are some some very bad hombres. For 25 years it's been our experience
that if you avoid dicey people, places, and business propositions,
you can avoid trouble.
Flash: As we go to press we've gotten many more details on this
case. See the August 25th 'Lectronic Latitude for the
latest information. It is disturbing.
"Sharon and I left San Carlos about three weeks ago, island-hopping
down to Cabo before starting our Baja Bash," writes John
Warren of the Alameda-based Passport 47 and two-time Ha-Ha vet
War & Peace. "Today, we are anchored in Turtle
Bay all by ourselves - and I just had to laugh at how different
it is without the 100 or so Ha-Ha boats around. This morning
Ernesto came by and refueled us with the 100 gallons we'll need
to get to San Diego. While fueling us up, Ernesto told a funny
story about last year's Ha-Ha that really got me laughing. He
said that some Ha-Ha guy got really drunk one night and feel
asleep on the beach. The beach party was around the corner the
next day, so his crew moved his boat without telling him. When
the guy woke up, he thought his boat had either dragged or his
crew had taken off without him. He had Ernesto and all the other
panga guys out looking for his boat . . . when it was just around
the corner all the time. Anyway, it brought back a lot of fond
memories. Ernesto said to say 'hello'."
"When the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture announced new
and shortened quarantine requirements for pets coming to Hawaii,
offshore sailors with companion pets rejoiced at the improvement,"
reports Diane Jessie, author of Cruising With Your Four-Footed
Friends, and circumnavigator and more aboard the Alameda-based
Lapworth 54 Nalu IV. "A closer look at the new regulations
reveals a detailed procedure of documentation and exact timing.
The basic requirements include: 1) A minimum of two rabies vaccinations
in the pet's lifetime, 2) A vaccination as recent as 12 months
for one-year or 18 months for three-year vaccine, 3) And vaccination
not less than 90 days prior to arrival. In addition, the pet
must have a microchip implanted before the rabies blood test
is performed. This provides secure identification for the pet.
The chip must be a standard U.S. issue that can be read by an
AVIDR scanner. A pet without a microchip will automatically be
assigned to 120-day quarantine. A rabies blood test must be performed
by one of two approved laboratories: Kansas State University
or the Food Analysis and Diagnostic Laboratory in Texas, not
more than 18 months and not less than 120 days prior to the date
of arrival in Hawaii. Your pet's microchip number must identify
the blood test. The waiting period begins on the day after the
laboratory receives the blood sample for the test. Finally -
and most difficult for cruising sailors - is tick treatment with
a product containing Fipronil - or an equivalent long-acting
product (RevolutionR is not acceptable) - within 14 days of arrival.
The product name and date of treatment is recorded on the pet's
"The regulations address direct release at the airport and
five-day release," Jessie continues. "According to
Janelle Saneishi, Public Information Officer for the Hawaii Department
of Agriculture, dogs and cats arriving on privately-owned boats
would be eligible for the new 5-day-or-less quarantine if they
complete all the pre-arrival requirements, including submission
of all documentation prior to arrival. To expedite processing,
boaters arriving with dogs or cats aboard should inform the department
in advance of the time of arrival and port of entry so that inspectors
will be available. Boaters should contact either: Animal Quarantine
Station, phone (808) 483-7151; fax, (808) 483-7161; . Or, Import
& Compliance Section, phone, (808) 837-8092; fax: (808) 837-8094;
arriving from foreign ports will also need to clear U.S. Customs.
Information on how to qualify a pet for the 5-day-or-less quarantine
option is available on the department's website at http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/ai/aqs/info [Webmistress's note: this link has changed since this story was first published].
The cost for the five-day-or-less program is $224 per pet each
time a pet enters or returns to Hawaii. An additional charge
of $18.70 per day is assessed for each day the pet remains beyond
the scheduled release. Arranging for a direct release at the
airport by having your pet shipped to you after your arrival
in Hawaii may be an easier way for you to include your pet in
cruising. A personal note about the quarantine facilities in
Hawaii: each animal is housed in its own kennel in a park like
setting with caring attention from the personnel daily."
"I've been sailing the Gulf of California - sometimes referred
to as the Sea of Cortez - for about 20 years," reports Richard
Grachus of the Phoenix and Cholla Bay, Mexico, based Catalina
27 Ragtimes. "Initially, I trailered an Aquarius
23 down to Puerto Penasco and sometimes Keno Bay. I now keep
my Catalina 27 in Cholla Bay, which is a small, sheltered American
settlement north of Puerto Penasco. In any event, my friend Jim
and I have spent the past two Januarys exploring/gunkholing the
Gulf aboard in a MacGregor 26X. In 2002, we sailed from San Carlos
across to Mulege, and then south to Loreto and Puerto Escondido.
In 2003, we sailed north to Keno Bay, and then to all of the
Midriff Islands. I know these aren't really popular cruising
grounds for the young party animal - I used to be one myself
- but for the nature lover, they are incredible! Imagine having
a fin whale cow and calf swim beneath your boat while approaching
Puerto Refugio at the northern end of the Isla de la Guardia.
If you guys can use this kind of information, I'll forward the
logs to you."
It sounds like great stuff about a terrific cruising area - but
please just don't send us your raw log. All the time cruisers
send us 20 to 200 pages of unedited logs and write, "Feel
free to use what you'd like." It's a wonderful gesture,
but useless, for we don't have the time to wade through all these
piles of information that's not even in rough draft form. It's
much better to just remember the W's - who, what, where, when,
and why. Answer those questions in a single typed page, include
some high resolution photographs, give us a way to contact you
for clarifications, and we're off to the races. We hope to hear
from you again soon.
In fact, we hope to soon hear from all of you folks our cruising.
A report doesn't have to be long or elaborate. Just a sentence
or two answering the fives W's, and hopefully a high resolution
photo of you and someplace you've been.