But just to be safe, set the alarm on your GPS. Barry and I have dubbed La Manzanilla, population 2,, the 'Fairfax of Mexico' because of the hippie vibe similar to that of the Marin County town I grew up in. Although there is no Mega, Costco or Sorianos, we found the provisioning to be good. In addition, there are lots of small palapa restaurants, friendly people selling tacos on the street, and great Wi-Fi. There is music at night, but it's not so loud that you can't sleep. The thing that La Manzanilla is most famous for, however, is the Crocodile Preserve.
Located at the north end of town, it's home to American crocodiles, with some of the reptiles weighing over 1, pounds. Like veteran cruisers, crocodiles are very sensitive to the cold. Crocs can be perfectly still for very long periods of time, but lightning-fast when it comes to grabbing a fish for dinner. Despite the large size and considerable number of crocs in the Preserve, we were told that except for little tidbits, they catch their own food.
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They eat fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals. For those who flunked high school biology, humans are mammals, so don't swim in the Preserve. Tenacatita Bay may be small and lightly populated, but it's home to great cruisers and lots of things for cruisers to do. If we weren't headed across to the South Pacific, we could easily see spending a month or two here. Especially since we haven't yet anchored at Caleta Tamarindo on the south shore of the Bay — another reason to return some day. Robert and Virginia have been married for 44 years, during which time they raised eight children.
After the last left for college in , they sold their business and headed out the Gate aboard their Islander Freeport 41 Harmony "to cruise in warm climes as long as it was fun". It's still fun. Except during a three- year hiatus when they cruised to Ecuador, Robert has been presiding over the Friday Mayor's Raft-up each winter season for 11 years. We — my wife Cindy, our young daughter Grace, and myself — started off by hitting up the anchorages on the way to La Paz, and spent a few weeks in the anchorage in La Paz.
We then headed north into the Sea. At first it was fairly easy going, and we crossed paths with a number of Ha-Ha boats. That all changed once we got more than miles north of La Paz in the Puerto Escondido area, which was where we saw our last Ha-Ha boat. For that matter, it was the last time we saw any other boat heading north.
The next or so miles told us why nobody else was going north. It was quite the bash. Sometimes we made as few as 50 miles in one day. After two weeks of this and stopping at anchorages almost every night to get relief from the wind and seas, we found a good wind angle to make the crossing to Guaymas. Sailing on a close reach in to knot winds with six-foot seas, we were doing nines and 10s with a reef in the main.
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It was fun but wet. And we arrived five hours earlier than planned. That meant we had to drop the sails 10 miles offshore so we could wait for daybreak to make our way into the harbor. We spent the next 40 days hauled out working on the Reprieve. We got a lot of work done — adding a sugar scoop on the transom, painting the top and bottom, putting on new standing rigging, and a lot more. We just got back in the water about three weeks ago, and have since made our way down the mainland to Mazatlan just in time for Carnaval. We will be leaving here tomorrow for La Cruz.
But almost all his sailing has been within the relatively friendly flatwater confines of San Francisco Bay. It was in , shortly after his Pier 39 charter business had really started to make money. The trip was really bad after Panama, because it was all upwind, the engines were bad, and there was gunk in the fuel tanks. It was my first foray into multihulls and sailing outside the Gate, and I hated them both.
I put the cat up for sale the day we came under the Gate. And it would take 18 months to sell her. The business had taken on a life of its own.
I wanted to get serious with a woman. I was 35 at the time and was looking for a year-old who wanted to settle down. Somehow she ended up at his birthday party and sort of checked him out. That she wanted to get married and have lots of kids, and sail around the world with them.
Answers to the most common questions about our experience sailing around the world
That she wanted to be a stay at home mom rather than have a career. That she wanted to cook dinner for her husband and kids. So they really hit it off. Next I took some of my staff to Bali in the offseason, and Elizabeth came along for that, too. After the ceremony they drove to Long Beach to pick up the new-to-them Islander Freeport 41 Journey , the boat they'd bought to sail around the world the following three to five years.
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Five days later they took off for Hawaii on the first leg of their circumnavigation. But to be honest, I pretty much singlehanded the boat while she did the cooking and cleaning. So when we got a slip at the Ala Wai in Honolulu for the maximum of four months, it was like arriving in heaven. We made a lot of great friends, including a bunch who also would be heading to the South Pacific in the spring.
As Elizabeth looked through them, she couldn't help but notice the photos of the women. She decided that she, with her five years of modeling experience, should try to become a Playmate. Despite having successes such as being on the cover of the Greek version of Vogue , Elizabeth had gotten sick of modeling by age So we asked her what the appeal was of trying to become a Playmate. But hitting the gym, sailing to Hawaii, and sailing around the Hawaiian Islands quickly shed the pounds.
Impressed as the people on the streets of Honolulu had been, Playboy told her to come right in for some test shots. The process to become a Playmate involves a series of three test shot sessions and a test Playmate shot. Over time, Elizabeth did them all. Upwind is not the best point of sail for a Freeport, which is not a pointing machine. We figured we'd sail in, or at least right up to the pass, the following morning.
Just miles from shelter, it was like torture.
And every little thing seemed like such a huge deal. Finally, I just couldn't grind the jib in another time. It took him six hours to tow us the last two or three miles. But he tied us off to a mooring and said, "Welcome to Bora Bora, no charge. But we got a little sleep, cleaned up, put on fresh clothes, and went to the Mai Tai YC — where a miracle occurred.
A whole month of horror was washed away in less than two hours of cocktails. They finally got fed up and prepared to continue with their circumnavigation the next day by sailing to Tonga. But just before they left, they received word that Elizabeth had been selected to be both the December cover girl and the December Playmate of the Month. Journey was put in a berth at Bora Bora for the South Pacific cyclone season, and the Ostranders have been home at a house they recently purchased in Florida ever since. If you get this Latitude early enough in March, you can still vote for Elizabeth at the Playboy website, as the deadline isn't until March 5.
So hurry. During our phone conversation, Latitude asked Elizabeth what it is she likes about sailing. I love the colors, the constant changes, and the freedom it represents. Does Elizabeth really think she would want to have children some day and sail around the world with them?
The Truth About Visiting the San Blas Islands, Panama
Post Gonzalo Heartaches St. Barth, French West Indies It's not hard to remain relatively dispassionate when you see strangers' boats damaged or destroyed by a hurricane. It's a different story if the boatowners are old friends.
So our feelings ran pretty high when we got to St. Barth in early February and learned which of our friends came out winners from October 13th's hurricane Gonzalo , and which came out losers. To recap, St. Barth was supposed to get hit by knot winds on that October day, but at the last minute Gonzalo not only reached hurricane force, but changed his course so the eye passed directly over the little island. More than 40 boats were destroyed, and a countless number suffered significant cosmetic damage.
Many of the boats that were damaged or destroyed had been around for decades. One of the luckiest boatowners of all was Antonio, who used to be the captain on our Ocean 71 Big O back in the day. His Tartan 41 Moonshadow broke free from her mooring near the entrance to Gustavia Harbor and disappeared. When no wreckage was found in the following days, word was passed along to friends in downwind islands to be on the lookout for her.
Moonshadow was spotted undamaged several days later near St. John in the U. One salvor was unable to bring her in, but the second was successful. The other thing that made it not a bad deal is that the salvor didn't take either the Rolex watch or the Bulgari watch that Antonio had left aboard in plain view. But Antonio's luck didn't hold entirely.
During Gonzalo he'd been helping someone at their house when, in the darkness, he fell into a basement, breaking five ribs. Our old friends Yoyo and Edith had mixed luck, too.