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Reader Comments

March 30

Hello Ken,
You said: “…I should periodically put some sort of anti-barnacle solution into the sea chest and strainers to kill any growth in them and the hoses…..”
Ken, what is an anti-barnacle solution? Do you have a specific product name? Also, I'm crossing the Gulf soon....what is the fartherest you have ever been from shore, unless making a long range trip?
+++ I don’t know the answer to this. Perhaps others can suggest something. We’ve been out of the US, where there are no West Marine stores. My plan is to ask this question as soon as I get home. I did ask a smart boater friend, who recommended using Muratic Acid. This seems strong to me, but he insists it will work fine, and he has been doing it for years. Form your own opinion on this one.
+++ As to how far we’ve run off shore, we once stopped in the center of the Atlantic for a swim! However, you seem to be asking about coastal cruising. Generally, I favor running at least 10 miles off shore, to avoid rocks, crab pots, and other boats. However, several smart boater friends are constantly trying to convince me to run the beach for generally smoother weather, and a shorter ride to shelter should the weather turn. I ran Nicaragua 5 miles off shore, and it felt too close.

No one asked about the incident I reported in Mexico, and what happened, although I did receive an email from someone claiming to have the inside scoop. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the email, but following is my summary of what it said:
+++ I received an email regarding the Mexico incident I referred to in my last blog update. It was an incident where a power boat (BESAME) was stopped for boarding by a boat claiming to be Mexican Military. Besame stopped, and was approached by a tender full of masked men carrying automatic weapons, who refused to identify themselves. Besame’s Captain decided that the boarding party could be terrorists and drove away, escaping without incident. I wish I could find the email, but the gist of it was that the boarders were in fact Mexican Military, and that it is their policy to board wearing masks. The West Coast of Central America is frequented by drug traffickers who can be quite nasty people (have you seen the film ‘No Country For Old Men’?). The Mexican military likes to conceal their identity rather than risk retaliation against the families of their soldiers. It is easy to forget that these “encounters” can be as stressful, and dangerous, for the military as they are for us. All I can say is “I’m very happy it wasn’t me who was approached for boarding.”


Thank you so much for allowing us to live the cruising life vicariously through your blogs. My wife and I have enjoyed reading them through-out your entire trip and we are looking forward to the Alaska trip as well. My wife and I currently have a 400DB Sea Ray that lives in Portland while we live in Phoenix so we both miss the boat and boating a lot. Your blogs have provided both of us with many hours of enjoyment. The good news is, I think my wife is finally convinced that the Sea Ray needs to transform itself into a trawler. She’s actually talking about possibly participating in another FUBAR if it comes up again…………. I can only hope. We wish you both fair winds and following seas!

Dave & Joy S

+++ Thank you! See this recent announcement. You may get your chance!

The “FUBAR” Odyssey Is Back … Fall 2009

The San Diego Yacht Club and the Mexico Tourism Board are sponsoring the next rally for power boats to Baja, Mexico. They will be assisted by Del Rey Yacht Club and California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey. The event will be held late 2009.

The boats will gather in San Diego and travel 900 miles to La Paz. This cruise is planned for mid-sized powerboats capable of traveling at least 450 n.m. at eight knots without refueling. FUBAR stands for Fleet Underway to BAJA Rally.

The FUBAR is designed to support powerboats that need refueling while traveling down the Pacific side of Baja, and the FUBAR is arranging fuel. Vessels with larger fuel capacity have no trouble doing this route on their own, but are welcome to join the FUBAR as well.

Escort vessels manned by experienced skippers, mechanics, doctors and other experts will accompany the FUBAR. Boat manufacturers and makers of major marine engines, electronics and other related equipment will lend their expertise. Safe routes will be prearranged, and a weather-routing service will oversee the cruise.

Stops along the route include Ensenada for fuel at optimum prices and clearing into Mexico. Turtle Bay is another fueling stop with stops at Santa Maria Cove, Mag Bay, Puerto los Cabos, Muertos Bay and La Paz, the final destination. The number of participants will be limited.

Participants will have the opportunity for fishing or whale-watching. Some may opt to depart at Cabo San Lucas for Puerto Vallarta and the Mexican mainland, while others will want to continue with FUBAR up into the Sea of Cortez as far as La Paz before branching off on their own.

Applications and signups will be first quarter of 2009. Sponsor inquiries are welcome. Check for updates on the website at


Hi Ken,

A quicker ( not as thorough, but much easier) way to unclog your hoses is to run a coiled snake from the strainer (unscrew the top) back to the thru hull. The point of worst restriction seems to be the elbow screwed into the strainer. You'll know you got it with the increased water flow. I have not had any clogging from the strainer to the sea chest. Be careful with biocides, etc if your water maker pulls from the sea chest. The snake you can buy at any plumbing store. I cut it down to about two feet long and chuck it in my cordless drill motor. Also check the business end to make sure it's smooth enough to not tear the hose up.

Jacob M
Nordhavn 55 owner

+++ I thought about using a snake, but have been in places where it’s a LONG drive to the nearest Home Depot. I do plan on buying one and putting it on the boat. My thought was to see if I could find one that I could insert from the outside, through the thru-hull, although I’m not sure how I could do that logistically.



We met on Fubar...we were on the light green Northwest 45, "Nor'wester".

Are you planning on stopping in Anacortes for Trawlerfest on your way north? Jan and I will be departing on Nor'wester for points north some time after Trawlerfest ends.

If you are going to be here, stop by and say Hi.



Peter Whiting, CPYB
American Expedition Yachts
Northwest Trawlers
Cap Sante Marina
Anacortes, WA 98221
(360) 317-7456 (cell)

+++ Our current schedule is such that we should be there! I doubt our boat will be back from Costa Rica yet, but we’ll take at least one day to see the show. I look forward to seeing you again!


I have had fowling problems on 90 degree elbows from growth and salt. If possible eliminate the 90 degree elbow and use a straight coupling. The flow rate at the inside of the elbow is low compared to the rest of the fitting and things readily collect there and start growing outward.

Marv S

++++ Yes – I should eliminate the 90 degree elbow. I’ll see if it is possible. One other thing I need to fix: A mechanic who was “helping” me in Costa Rica snapped off the handle on a couple of my thru-hulls. I need to replace them. It wasn’t the mechanics fault. I haven’t been good about “exercising” the thru-hulls and they welded themselves shut. Ouch.


Hi Ken,

surge at a marina.

I have a bit of experience here, we dealt with a major surge at Ocean World in the DR two times.

A) we upgraded to 1 1/8 Double Braid spring lines - keep them long, tighten the 2nd one with the engine. (our normal lines are 7/8" double braid), If you have to use lighter diameter lines, you will need to double each of them.

B) Chafe gear - needed for where the line cuts the dock and around the cleat if not perfectly smooth. - This stuff is balistic nylon and Velcro's over a line. We have about a dozen of these each about 36" long.

C) T docks are not as good as one that permits you to tie the boat off from the opposite side. This is easier on the fenders.

D) we use Blow Up fenders from Prostock, These are used on Mega Yachts - much stronger then Haypolin. We have (4) 18" x 48", (4) 18" x 60", and (1) 18" x 120" for the stern or special situations. [we also carry blow up fenders from Avon - a carry over from the last boat (7) 12" x 34". Prostock fenders can take more pounding and abrasion then any other fender I have ever used. The added advantage is that take hardly any space when stow them, done with the same pump in reverse.

Nordhavn 64 owner

+++ Thank you Richard. My boat came with three quarter inch line, and it is too small. I ordered the 1 and 1/8 inch line as you suggested, from Rope Inc. I also ordered some replacement fenders from Prostock, and their anti-chafing gear.


Hi Ken,
I have enjoyed receiving your updates very much, sounds like you had a great time. I do agree that groundings do unfortunately happen, if you travel far enough you will encounter the bottom on occasions. While we all hope when this happens it will be a soft grounding, it seems reading your comment and mention of rock, u encounted the unwanted form of grounding. Did you dive the hull and inspect for any damage or gouging, hopefully it is not too serious. I guess you will have it hauled when you get back to Seattle to do a proper inspection and carry out any repairs before the trip to Alaska. I would definitely like to hear your story on the "Vultures" sometime. Looking forward to more blogs, safe cruising.


+++ Darn. I hoped no one would ever ask about my grounding. Oh well. Now that the cat is out of the bag, here’s the story:

Within a few weeks of taking delivery of our boat, Roberta and I had just successfully navigated a very tight, high current channel, and were congratulating ourselves on making it look easy, when things went wrong. The sun was directly in front of me, and reflecting off our anchor (our prior anchor, a new stainless steel CQR). I was suddenly blinded and couldn’t see out the window or on the Nobletec screen. I asked Roberta to fetch my sunglasses and threw the boat into neutral. Suddenly, I saw a silhouetted buoy in front of me, but couldn’t figure if it was red or green, and couldn’t find it on the chart. Things were happening fast, and the current was moving the boat, even though in neutral. I pointed the boat at the buoy, thinking I’d have time to figure which side to pass it on, a serious error. To make a long story short, I incorrectly determined the color, and passed it at 1 knot, within inches, on the wrong side. The starboard side of the boat was immediately aground. Making things worse we were at high tide. This meant waiting for a new high tide might not solve the problem.

I immediately called the Coast Guard on the VHF radio, and they asked my cell phone number, to call back. Within seconds the phone rang, and it was “Vessel Assist”, which I understood as being the Coast Guard. They asked if I needed assistance, and said they were in the area, and would respond in minutes. This had me feeling better. When I hung up the phone rang again. It was the US Coast Guard calling! I was confused, and they explained that independent contractors monitor channel 16 for calls to the Coast Guard, hoping to make money providing assistance. The Coast Guard asked if we were in danger or if anyone was hurt. I said we were all fine, and I just needed to be pulled off the rock. They said Vessel Assist was my best option, and explained that the US Coast Guards role is to prevent loss of life, not loss of boats. If we weren’t in danger, their job was done. I tried to persuade them to send out a boat, and did my best begging, but they weren’t coming.

An hour later Vessel Assist arrived, with a small 30-footish boat. By this time the tide had dropped, and Sans Souci was starting to lean. Apparently the starboard side was sitting on a ledge and the port side was still floating. Roberta, Shelby and I moved to the small boat. The gentleman on the boat said that in his opinion Sans Souci was going to soon start taking on water, and that it should be pulled off right away. I said “Great, let’s do it.” He then explained that he wasn’t permitted to tug us off the rocks without a signed “Salvage Agreement.” I asked to see the agreement he wanted me to sign, and didn’t like what I saw. I was never given a copy and don’t want to mischaracterize it, but my recollection is that it essentially transferred ownership of the boat over to them. He said it was the standard agreement. He argued that signing the salvage agreements is standard, and that all that would happen is that it would lead to a negotiation between his company and the insurance company, where he would get a piece of the value of the boat, in return for rescuing us. I said I would not sign anything without speaking with my insurance company and he said he wasn’t pulling me off the rocks without a signed agreement. We had a stalemate. Meanwhile, Sans Souci was leaning over farther and farther as the tide fell.

After a half hour of this, he said that he couldn’t pull Sans Souci off with the boat he had anyhow, and needed to go trade for his larger boat. I said he should go get the other boat, and I would continue to try calling my insurance company. Another small boat from Vessel Assist arrived and we transferred to it, while I continued making calls. I knew that there was no way I would be signing a salvage agreement unless Sans Souci was truly taking on water, and I just didn’t think that was going to occur. I consulted with several friends, and tried negotiating a rate with Vessel Assist to have them pull me off the rock. I was more than happy to pay a fair rate, but I was not going to sign a salvage agreement. It was NOT going to happen. We had a magic deadline hanging over our heads. This was all a long time ago, so I’ve forgotten the precise details, but I had gone aground at a fairly mild tide cycle. The upcoming cycle would be for a higher tide (which I liked), followed by a much lower tide, which was a real problem. We went aground around 5pm, and the next high tide wasn’t until 3am. It was our best chance of coming off the rocks. If we missed it, the following morning’s low tide would be a SUPER low tide, and possibly create a dangerous situation.

I started phoning tug boat companies, and they all had the same thing to say. They could not pull private boats off the rocks. Their insurance company wouldn’t let them. I was getting VERY worried. Finally, Jeff Sanson, from Pacific Yacht Management, who does maintenance, and deliveries, on Sans Souci, started making calls, and calling in favors. Jeff did the un-doable, and persuaded a tug company 75 miles away to charge a reasonable fee to tug us off the rock. The bad news was those 75 miles. They would be arriving right at 3am, when we needed to be pulling the boat off the rock. Meanwhile, I was stuck sitting on a Vessel Assist boat, while their other larger tug was being sought. They still wanted me to sign the salvage agreement, and weren’t giving up on their possible big payday. For nearly 10 hours I sat on the Vessel Assist boat, hoping that the tug Jeff found would get there in time. As we reached 3am, Vessel Assist’s larger tug showed up, as did the tug that Jeff ordered. The Vessel Assist team looked very disheartened. Although they upset me with their “Sign this now or your boat will sink” tactics, they were actually very nice people, and just doing their jobs.

I asked Vessel Assist to back off as the other tug attached a HUGE rope at our bow. During the preceding hours, I had gone back aboard Sans Souci several times, and felt it make a major shift while I was crawling around the engine room. My hope was that we would float free on the high tide, and that is somewhat what happened. As the tide came up, the boat returned to an upright position, and the line barely went tight when we drove off the rock.

To Vessel Assist’s credit, they had absolutely no agreement from me to pay them a dime, yet their guy came aboard my boat, to help guide me in the dark to a smooth anchorage he knew of. Along the way we worked out a fair “consulting fee” that included his coming back the next day to dive under the boat to look for damage. On his return the next day he reported that my starboard stabilizer was banged up, but that he could find no other damage. Roberta and I ran the boat another 80 miles or so to Seattle, where the boat was hauled out, and verified that the props had never been touched, and that no water had come in. We had escaped with essentially no damage! Thank goodness for the twin keel on twin engine boats! And, thank goodness for Nordhavn quality!

I don’t like being defensive about this, but should mention that we are not the first boat to have gone aground in that particular location. A larger boat had gone around in exactly the same spot the night before, totally destroying its running gear. Another boat had gone aground the prior week in the same location. One person told me that people buy houses on the nearby hill just to watch the excitement as boats go aground. I hope that isn’t true….

Oh well. If there is a message to this story, it is to read any paperwork you are given before signing, even if things look tough. Signing a salvage agreement, except in the worst of circumstances, is probably a bad idea (my personal opinion).


Ken, I had read that at one time you had a 15' Boston Whaler as a tender. I am thinking about getting a 13' Boston Whaler Sport to use as my tender when the time comes to get my N55. Other than the inflatable not needing fenders, do you still see any advantage to the RIB or would you go back to a tender like the Boston Whaler? I would be interested to hear your comments since you have had the opportunity to use the RIB and all the problems with getting it to shore etc...

Thanks, Jim E

+++ Boston Whaler will not like my saying this – but, I didn’t like mine at all. Try to get a test drive in one and see what you think. Mine was heavy, and didn’t plane well. It also was at the limit of my davit, and I didn’t like the creaking noises as the tender went up and down. An inflatable can be a pain (they can get leaks or punctures easily), and wear out faster than a Whaler which has hard sides. Having had both, I prefer the inflatable, and most others I have spoken with, who have had both, feel the same way. I like the idea of being WELL below the weight limit on your tender. I have had inconsiderate speed boaters pull water skiers within feet of my boat while lifting the tender, and seen my tender bobbing like a cork. With a tender near the weight limit of the davit, I’m positive I’d have lost the tender, and possibly have had injuries. I’ve also had damage to the side of the boat while lifting or dropping a hard-sided tender. With just two people it is tough to stop a tender from spinning while it is dangling. It’s a tough decision, with no perfect answer. Good luck!



I just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed your blog and reports. I was supposed to do the run from San Diego with FUBAR with my Mom and Dad (Phyllis and Marty Fliegel) but work got in the way. Then getting to hear about the rest of your trip, was almost like being there (not quite, but close)

Thanks again for taking all the time.

Have a safe journey back and enjoy Alaska. Bry

Bryan F

+++ Thank you!




As I sit here reading your blog from Costa Rica, we are comfortable in Costa Baja Marina, LaPaz. I want to thank you for the wonderful and colorful insights on boating from from great distances from the Pacific Coastal securities, and far from home. AS the "Sweeper Boat" in the Fubar Odyssey, we welcome the creative genius of the internet email to keep us entertained as well as educated. Thank you Ken. Thank you again.

Larenzo T, Midnight Voyage Captain to Admiral Susan

We thank you so so much. Keep the blogs a coming.

+++ Thank you! I wonder if anyone has done any survey to see what happened to all the Fubar boats? I think we left San Diego with 60 boats, and I only know about three that are going through the Panama Canal.

+++ I’ve heard nothing but glowing reports about the Costa Baja Marina in La Paz. It sounds like you are in a great place!


Hi Ken,

I am interested in your chaffing problem. Are you still experiencing the chaffing of your mooring lines?

Which lines showed the most wear and what have you done to help the problem?

We are going to keep our boat at Coral in Ensenada for a while and I have heard that there is a surge in the harbor and appreciate any ideas/



+++ I really don’t have a solution yet. We just re-entered the marina at Los Suenos, and I tied the lines much differently. The lines that cut through were the short lines in the corners at the stern. I’ve removed those lines completely now, and am using a “V” line going from the center of the stern to two widely spaced cleats. We need to leave the boat here unattended for a couple weeks (at Los Suenos in Costa Rica), so I’m thinking I’ll speak with the local marine store about what they might offer. I’ll let you know what I find that works. I was hoping the surge would have stopped, but it is still as bad as I remember it.

I am sensing from your blog and emails that you all are having fun together since the crew departed and getting more and more into what we refer to as the cruise-mellow mode. It is important to have some of that time. Although you have not mentioned it I can visualize you all in the hot tub at anchor with no boat in sight - stars out - a little tub/vino edge on - we are really happy for you all.


+++ Hey! You must have been peeking. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing.


Ken - I have a new Outer Reef 80 which displaces about 180,000 # and originally had specified two CQRs. I, like you, read about the Rocna and replaced my main anchor with the Rocna Model # 70 which weighs 154 #. I have been so impressed with how quickly she sets that I am considering replacing my “lunch hook” CQR (105 #) but have not done this as of yet. After many, many years of cruising with my other boats using the CQR, this is quite a change in my thoughts. I have always liked the CQR but have on certain occasions had to dive on them to get them to set. Sometimes they will lie on their sides and just slowly drag. In your message you did not mention the weight of your anchor. Also I compliment Outer Reef for designing excellent anchor roller system which easily handles both of my anchors and I do like having two to place at 45 degrees of each other if I expect a particularly strong blow. The good thing about the Rocna is it has an attachment spot where you can add another anchor in tandem which some people feel is superior to two anchors set in a V. I enjoy your blogs very much - Jeff

+++ I have the Rocna 110, which weighs about 250 pounds. We’ve anchor probably 50 times over the past four months, and never had the Rocna fell to set on the first try. It’s an amazing anchor! My biggest fear was that it would be difficult to lift, but it has never gotten stuck. Today was a bit of a headache, in that the anchor came up completely caked in mud. The mud was so thick the anchor wash wouldn’t clean it. I had to use a combination of a boat hook, raising and dropping the anchor several times, and the anchor wash to finally get it clean.

+++ I’ve read about using Tandem anchors, and always been nervous to try it. If you have set tandem anchors, email me with the approach you used. I’d like to give it a shot!

+++ One last comment: I have a dual anchor setup, which needs refined. I can’t seem to get two anchors to co-exist. That said, I am not disappointed. The anchor lockers on this boat are large enough to park a car in. The port side locker has a chain in it, and all the gear to launch an anchor if I should ever lose my primary anchor, but for now, I’m using it to store all my bulky dive gear, and for fender storage. When we sit still for a bit (some day I hope..) I plan to install shelving in the anchor locker. There’s plenty of room for shelves to co-exist with the anchor chain. Currently all the dive gear is just laying at the bottom of the locker, and if we ever get tossed around in heavy seas, I don’t want anyhing heavy banging around.




I'm getting the Kaleidescape put into our boat!! My question though
is, did you take any special precautions in to protect your unit?
What I'm afraid of is any possible accidental spikes sent from times
when I switch from Genset to shore, etc.. Being a computer geek(Unix,
SAN, and Cisco admin) I know to not push my luck but I'm wondering..
Should I put a line filter or small battery backup on the other side
of this?? What did you do, and how is working out for you.

John F

+++ You'll love the Kaleidescape! It's expensive, but VERY popular on our boat. We did a small APC, which sits next to the Kaleidescape. I looked for a model number, but could just find the text: "S20 Power Conditioner and Battery Backup". [Note: The Kaleidescape is a DVD jukebox. It’s super-easy to use, and holds a thousand DVDs, and many thousands of audio CDs. As I said – it is VERY popular onn Sans Souci.


On the Tender issue

I have a Large Nautica Wide Body 15' Tender with 90 HP engine, teak interior, navigation system, dive tank storage, and on on on, very tricked out for long exploration trips and having fun, but also a small 3.5 meter (11.5') AB with Aluminum bottom and 15 HP Yamaha 2 stroke. Its very light - tender is 130 lbs., engine is 79 lbs plus the small fuel tank. Although its small it holds 6 people, will plane off with 2-4 people, is relatively dry, is good in waves, and easy to beach. Its used by the crew for washing the hull and getting supplies etc. two people can easily drag it up or down a beach. Only issue with it is that the Aluminum bottom requires it to be painted about 2x a yr. Its perfect for beaching. Anything smaller is just too small.

Richard A

+++ I still haven’t decided what we’re going to do, other than “something different”. As soon as I get to Seattle, this will be a priority


+++ The following comments are excerpted from emails from friends; John Henrichs, a Nordhavn 64, and David Sidbury, who has the second Nordhavn 68, in response to my commenting to them about the surge at Los Suenos, and the line damage.


Do you have any old garden hose? Cut it in 3 foot pieces and run your lines thru it so the cleat and rub areas are in contact with the hose. You may need to change it out dependent on surge and the thickness and quality of the hose.

How are the Aere Fenders doing? Have you had to put a little more air in them? Any abrasion of the fender on the dock?

Does it ever settle down or is this surge typical?


+++ I don’t know what is “typical” at Los Suenos. One theory is that we are starting to get late in the season, and the weather is starting to be a bit more unsettled. This is the time of years when boats start heading elsewhere to avoid hurricane season. As to the Fenders, I am using inflatable fenders, from I have their extreme duty fenders, and they have been awesome. They are much lighter than normal fenders and can be easily deflated when not needed.



Here is what the owner of our old boat has done to help with the surge. He has wrapped the line with small diameter fire hose. He got it from a firefighter. Not sure of the diameter. Next he attached a length of chain to the dock cleat and I think used a anchor large anchor thimble through the chain and not sure about more fire hose. I will get the exact way he set it up, but it did stop the chaffing. Check to see if any of the boats have chain on the cleats and how they attached it. I haven’t seen the setup, but only listened and thought it was a good idea.

One other thing I have done which has helped in a surge is to run 2 or even 3 lines from the same cleat to the same cleat on the boat. That might help share the load.

Good luck with the chaffing and let me know what you see with the other boats.


+++ We’re at anchor now, but heading back to Los Suenos sometime in the next few days. Towards the end of being there before, I was much better at tying to counter the surge. We’ll see what happens when I tie up this time, but I abandoned the short lines at the corner on the stern, in favor of a two “V” lines going from the center of the stern to the corners of the slip. This seemed to keep me stable with less chafing. I also put much longer spring lines, and a lot of them. I probably had four lines on each side of the boat. There’s one very cool thing I should mention that Los Suenos has. The cleats can easily be repositioned. They are mounted on rails, and can be slid to any position easily. Once I understood this, I could move the cleats to where they worked best. Perhaps I’m just kidding myself, but I think things will be much better this time around.



I think I remember that Roberta said she did not want to go to the Carib because "that is what everyone does". She is correct, but there must be a good reason for so many people heading that way.

In all seriousness, we really loved it and most of all everything on that side is about the water.

Stay safe.

P.S. - Tell her it is the greatest place for dogs!

Larry Biggs
Motor Vessel NEXUS

+++ Roberta and I have a bit of a battle going over “what comes next after Alaska.” Roberta is an Indiana-Jones wannabee and excited by the idea of circumnavigating, whereas I usually don’t like any idea that sounds too wild and crazy. We’ve been discussing going to Japan via the Aleutians, along with another Nordhavn 62 (Grey Pearl), and that idea has the most momentum at this point. This would position us nicely for an Indonesia rally that both Roberta and I want to do. We’ll be seeing Grey Pearl soon and will start making decisions.

+++ Larry and I swapped a couple of emails on the topic of “why Sans Souci should head to the Caribbean”. Larry is further north now, working his way south to the canal. Here’s an excerpt from another of his emails:


We are in tenacatita bay and will go to zwah in a day or two.
Hope all is well.

Surfing to the beach is just one of the reasons we are heading to the carib. We were surprisingly impressed with Panama as a cruising destination. (We originally only thought of it as the canal location) We ended up spending months in Panama at places like the Perles islands, San Blas islands, Bocas del Toro, and Panama City.

Others reasons we are heading back to the carib:
• 100 foot visibility
• 80 degree water
• 80 degree air year round
• Every island a different culture
• Great food
• Dingy docks everywhere
• Sand no mud
• Short legs
• Lots of kids for Isabella
• Great cruising community
• Restaurants on the beach everywhere
• Cell and internet almost everywhere
• Easy flights in and out.
• Most of all - cruising island to island beats cruising the mainland

Tell Roberta we said hey!


I read your post and thought I should mention - beware of “Logs” near rivers in Costa Rica – there are crocodiles. You should check with locals to see what areas to avoid.


+++ We haven’t seen any crocodiles yet. In fact, we haven’t seen a monkey yet. There’s a lot of Costa Rica we still need to see! As you said though, we have seen a lot of branches in the water. We haven’t yet seen any serious logs floating, and hope not too. Yesterday, we kept having to dodge to hit various floating broken chairs and table parts. I don’t know why.



Make sure if you get a rental car to drive to the “Alligator Bridge”. Everyone knows Where it is so just ask. At the risk of being politically incorrect, I suggest buying some raw chicken parts with you and some fishing line. Tie the parts LOOSELY to the line and dangle them over the alligators. They will go crazy and snap them up. They have to be loose so the chicken comes off easily.

Steve A

+++ Roberta already fed the alligators at the marina in Ixtapa. I’m thinking we’ve “scratched that off our list.” Grin.




Hi Ken and Roberta,

Glad to hear that you are comfortable in Costa Rica. When we decided to order 500 t-shirts for FUBAR, I was wondering what we would do with any left-over’s. Bruce assured me that we would take them on Cadenza and give them out along the way. He laughed and said that we would see those yellow shirts all over Mexico for years to come. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that one would make it to Costa Rica.

Some people are still talking about getting more than one copy of your blog, I noticed that some of our FUBAR participants are on the list twice with different email addresses, I know that I was and most of our administrative team. I have deleted many of the duplicates that I knew about from the FUBAR mailing list but I suspect that they are still on your list twice. You might ask those who are still getting two copies to check their receiving addresses.

We enjoy reading about your adventures.

Donna and Roy

+++ Donna and Roy were organizers on the Fubar rally from San Diego to La Paz Mexico. As to the dual copies of my blog that are going out: There are certainly some people who are receiving it at multiple addresses, but most of the people who received multiple copies did so because I accidentally sent it twice. I am probably as well set up for internet access as a boat can be – but, even with that, things are far from perfect. Not all my email is being sent, and other emails are being sent multiple times. It is really frustrating, but there’s not much I can do about it.

+++ On the topic of Internet at sea: I’ve been studying my options, in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Alaska. Here’s a quick summary of the options…

WIFI – the single most important thing every cruising boat needs for internet access is an enhanced wifi antenna, allowing you to pick up remote wifi signals. Wifi is the cheapest and fastest solution for internet 99.9% of the time. Most marinas have wifi, but, generally they don’t have very good antennas. If your slip is not near the harbor masters office, or if you are at anchor in front of the marina, you can’t pick up signal. I use the system by Syrens:

EVDO – wireless air cards used with cell phones work great close to shore inside the US. They are cheap and the speed is decent. Unfortunately, they only work where cell phones work, and outside the US I’ve found the cost (when it does work, which isn’t often) to be prohibitive. Check your service provider before using these things outside the US to determine cost. I was blindsided by a $1,700 bill for two days of use in Ensenada.

Cell phone – My Verizon cell phone (8830) works to check my email (most places, but not everywhere), and I haven’t seen big bills from it.

Fleet 77 – This is what we use on Sans Souci when everything else fails. It is slow, but not horribly slow, and has two modes: expensive, and really expensive (about $7 a minute or $70 a megabyte!). It works virtually everywhere in the world, and is very reliable.

BGAN – A new system called “Fleet Broadband” has recently come onto the market. It is a 10th the cost of Fleet 77, but doesn’t have coverage in the northwest or the Pacific. I use a non-stabilized version here on Sans Souci with great results. (The Hughes 9021) Allegedly there will be another BGAN satellite launched later this year, after which BGAN will have the same coverage as Fleet 77. When that occurs I may change over.

VSAT--- Vsat is fast, and importantly offers an expensive “all you can eat” plan. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have great coverage around the world, and uses a large dome. My current cruising plans won’t let me have vsat.


dear ken love your blogs with regards couple of weeks ago leaving port when marina was closed down i agree with joe k do you realize that you could have created a serious incident i have been in lifeboats all my life saving people at sea what you did was crazy and i agree with joe k i would have sacked your crew and given you a red card for 6 months yours tim

+++ We left the port early in the morning, before the winds had come up. We scouted the entrance, including passing through it multiple times on the tender, and checking depths. We were comfortable that the entrance was fine or we wouldn’t have passed over the bar. We were confident that had the harbor master been there she would have green lighted our passage. If there had been any doubt, we would not have gone.




Hi Ken,

We were planning on stopping by your boat this morning to say hello and introduce ourselves and low and behold you were pulling out as we woke up this morning - following the panga and waving to us on your way out! We are on the green hulled "homebuilt" trawler a boat or two behind you in Barillas.

We know many of the same "boats" that you do, in particular Joan & Roger from New Paige (55' Nordhavn) who we are very good friends with. We always thought Roger was the gadget guy but he's told us that you put him to shame!! He said we needed to stop by your boat if we were ever in the same anchorage and say hello. We traveled with them for a while when we all came to Mexico a few years back when they were on their Nordhavn 40. We (Dreamweaver) went as far as Manzanillo in 2006, then about the time Joan & Roger sold their 40 and ordered their new 55 footer, we turned around and went up the coast to the PNW and Alaska for a year.

We were all hoping New Paige II would be ready and we could all come down the coast together again.... much to their chagrin their boat wasn't ready:( We came down the coast about the same time as the FUBAR and made many of the same stops you guys did. Our sister and brother-in-law on Wandering Star (a Selene 43') were on the rally as were many of our other friends, some of who I think you know (Sonjero, Wayward Wind, Voyager, etc.) We're now in Barillas heading to the Canal.

We would have stopped by to say hello earlier but we were inland for 10 days, touring on our Motorcycle, which we carry on our flybridge. We went all around Guatamala (1,300 miles to be exact!) and agree that Antigua was one of the most special places we visited. Glad you didn't miss it!!

Well perhaps we will see you and Roberta somewhere in Costa Rica or down the line and get to say hello in person.

Safe travels,

Ken & Dottie

PS - Great pictures on your blog ... how do you get them so big and clear yet not take forever to send and/or download them??

+++ Sorry we missed you! During most of our stay in Barillas, we were the only ones there. We saw several boats, but no people. We’ll be based out of Los Suenos for most of the next month, and usually will monitor 16 and 22, so give us a call as you get closer.

+++ As to the pictures, I don’t always do as good a job as I should, but generally, I compress them down to about 30k before including them in the emails. Most photo editing programs have options to resize and compress pictures. I use a program called Ember, from a company that has now gone out of business. Too bad – their program was great!

+++ I’m amazed you can put a motorcycle capable of running you 1,300 miles through Guatemala on the fly bridge of your boat. I need to see that! A very cool idea!



I am glad your trip is going well. I am enjoying the updates as always, but I seem to get them twice. Not a big deal to me, but I thought I would let you know.

Continued best wishes


+++ I’m painfully aware that multiple copies of my emails are sometimes being sent. I thought I had it fixed. We’ll see what happens with today’s email. One of the major headaches of the cruising lifestyle is that I go long periods without “real” internet access. I am also hitting lots of firewall issues, where I’ll seem to have a decent internet connection but then discover that some of my programs won’t run. I haven’t noticed a flood of cancellations on the mailing list, so luckily everyone is being good sports about it.


Hi Ken,

I was surprised at your “guilt” about jaunting off to Antigua. OK, if you had guests aboard it would be different but this is what you hired crew for isn’t it? And aren’t you looking for a guy to care take Sans Souci during pauses in your circumnavigation? Seriously though, you do need to harden your heart a bit. It is your boat after all and they make their living as crew so where is the problem?

Mind you, back in the 70’s & 80’s when I ran IT for Mercedes Benz in Australia & New Zealand I worked for the Finance Director & we often shared flights to Stuttgart. However, the german parent company had some pretty strict rules about overseas travel so we would part at Emigration & he’d go off to the 1st Class Lounge & I’d remain in the normal transit lounge. We’d meet up for a beer or two at Singapore & New Delhi en route and again at Frankfurt but it never entered his head to get me upgraded or to down grade himself! Luckily, after a few years, the rules got relaxed a bit though Directors stayed in 1st class, Senior Managers got to go Business but junior managers and workers stayed in Economy.

I’m looking forward to your adventures in Costa Rica.

Cheers Dave

+++ I said I felt guilty, not that I plan to change anything! I can see how people get spoiled by having crew around. Yesterday when we arrived at the anchorage Roberta wanted me to get the internet running so that she could check her email. Within the few minutes it took to get her going the crew had already dropped the tender, and were well into washing down the boat (which was VERY salty). They then gave me a lift to the beach so that I could go clear customs, and picked me when I called them on the VHF. Karl (the chef) was already well into making dinner when I returned. Roberta and I are looking forward to time alone, but we are definitely going to be sad to see these guys go.

+++ As you mentioned, we were looking for a full-time crew-person, and came very close to hiring someone. At the last minute we met Jeff Sanson (Pacific Yacht Management). Jeff has a few clients like us who usually want to cruise alone, but then need someone who can make about anything happen on short notice. This sounds terrible, but my goal is to “cherry pick” the good bits about cruising, and leave as much of the rest as I can to Jeff. Thus far the relationship has worked very well. Once we start the circumnavigation, things may change, although perhaps not. I need to be able to call and say “The boat is in Malaysia, and Roberta and I want to go home for a week. Can you send someone to watch over the boat?” My guess is Jeff will be able to send someone.


Yours is the best site I have ever seen regarding the issues I am facing in getting to know my new N55. It all seems so very familiar, and your honesty and a bit of self deprecation make it so enjoyable in seeing how things are developing with your quest. I think I have become a bit of a gun at berthing after 4000nm, but the other day my wife and I were attempting to back out after slipping lines from the port tie up into a narrow fairway at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, and was faced with what I thought was a transmission failure, until I realized the polishers had put on an extra bow line on the stb side. The only person around the time was a friend on a boat behind us and he didn’t see the drama until I told him a week later. Ego restored, but I kicked my butt hard imagining it happened when all YC members were watching how the big shot with the big boat handled it.

Just another pointer re the surprise tidal current you had on the river apart from the SOG vs SOW shown on the log. What revs were you pulling at your 9 kts? My boat does 8.5 kts in benign conditions at 1800 RPM, but getting in the Eastern Australian current one night we hit 13 kts momentarily at 1800 RPM, so we new the speed of the current, and this had us coming into port at 0300 instead of 0730. My B&G log hasn’t worked since day one, and I’m not game to pull it out to inspect until I take my first haul out.

Margaret and I are racking our brains on how to overcome the Shelby issue in Oz, but will hopefully see you in Darwin harbor just prior to the Sailindonesia Rally next year. You could clear customs and leave Shelby on board with a dog sitter roster we could arrange during briefings etc.

Keep up the great postings, we love receiving them.

+++ Grin. I should probably not be quite so candid about some of my mistakes, but I figure that if my mistakes can help someone else avoid making the same mistakes, then it is all worthwhile. Plus, it is incredible how many good ideas I’ve received as a result of my blog. It is very rare that I mention a problem in my blog and don’t immediately receive a collection of emails with solutions.

+++ It is suddenly looking good for us to do the Indonesia rally in 2009! That said, there is also momentum towards waiting for 2010 to do the rally. As soon as things slow down here (next week) Roberta and I will start seriously studying a new option we are considering. There’s another Nordhavn (Grey Pearl) who has mentioned running the Aleutians to Japan next summer. This sounds fun, and avoids the long passage to the south pacific. I haven’t really studied the route, and don’t know how serious Grey Pearl is about making the run. I should know more next week, but it looks promising.

+++ We’ll be doing Alaska this summer. I’ve had trouble adjusting to currents on this boat, and Alaska cruising will be a real lesson in currents. As you said, I am starting to get enough of a knowledge base on this boat to be able to mentally correlate rpms to speed. If we aren’t doing the speed I expect for a given rpm, then that tells me the current.




Ken, WE are still enjoying your logs - they are great.

In your last log you mentioned not being sure if you had an adverse current. I suggest carefully calibrating your log instrument so that it accurately displays your speed through the water and then looking at the difference between the GPS speed over the bottom and your LOG speed through the water as an accurate reflection of an aiding or adverse current.

Regards, John H

+++ I don’t have anything that gives me speed through the water. It’s funny that with all my fancy electronics that I don’t, but I didn’t think to ask for it. A good idea! I’ll have to add that to my list when the boat gets back to Seattle. -Ken W



I was reading about the North Atlantic record-setting boat and learned that they used French military night vision/FLIR equipment whose performance was extraordinary. In the US, we can't get current military gear, but overseas, military gear seems to be available. What I don't know is whether it is affordable to people not part of an exotic syndicate. Still, interesting.


+++ It would be interesting to know what they have. My night vision has two modes; light amplification and thermal. There has been no moon the past few nights, so we’ve been running in pitch black. The light amplification mode, which is usually fairly good, has been worthless. The thermal mode looks for temperature differences. As such, I suspect its range is limited. I’m guessing that it only picks up items less than 100 yards. It does work well in pitch black conditions, but only on things that are very close. I’ll google to see what else might be available if I order from outside the US. Thanks! -Ken W


+++ The following message was sent by Sonaia, who with Chris Samuelson, crossed the Atlantic with us in 2004.

Ken, Congratulations, you made Tehuantepec! Everything you described about T-Pec we got it up, close and personal. The seas, winds of 50 knots on the nose, green water all over the place...the lot. Chris set on the helm chair for 7 hours NO STOP and we never hugged a shore so tightly and we hope never need to do it again. Another difference we had from you was that it was only the two of us on board and you can bet that THAT was a learning curve for both of us. I am very glad that you have made it safely. Hiring crew to come with you on this potentially very difficult piece of water was a very smart move. Sonaia Hermida, Goleen

+++ I don’t even want to think about Roberta and I alone on the boat in the Tehuantepec. And, when you did it, Chris and you were new to the boat! Amazing..

The crew has been awesome, and I strongly recommend them -- but I’m really looking forward to a week from now when we put them ashore and Roberta and I have a month alone, just anchoring around Costa Rica.

Wish you were here! (or, us there!)

-Ken W


Hi Ken, glad to hear you made it into port safely. I have been in the engine room over the last few days and I think running a T off the transmission coolers and water injectors you could safely run on one engine and utilize the running engine to cool the other. I have also contemplated doing this off this off the waterpumps on the engines incase of a water pump or impeller problem. I am by know means a mechanic and I will ask our mechanic about this when he's down next. How many Cruise Aire system are you running on board, we are considering adding them when we leave the PNW? My wife loves the decorating your wife did, thanks that will cost me a few dollars! Have a great trip and look forward to any updates. Safe sailing.

Shane and Wendy
Roche Harbor, Wa

+++ What kind of boat do you have? Did we meet at Roche Harbor? I hope to be sitting in my slip at Roche in about two months! One thing is clear … Roche Harbor is one of the best marinas in the world. While in Seattle I’m going to try to do something on the engine cooling issue. -Ken W



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