By John Arndt

If you were to zoom into the Sea of Cortez or Tahiti from outer space, you wouldn’t notice much difference from your past visits until you got onto the streets of a town like La Paz or Papeete. Most cruisers we hear from let us know the beauty of cruising hasn’t really changed, but it’s the social and in-town aspects that have changed. Plus, cruisers are doing a few more projects and less sailing. All the precautions you have to take anywhere, you also have to take while cruising. So it’s all the same, but different.

In Cruise Notes in our February Changes in Latitudes, we hear from Patsy Verhoeven — La Reina del Mar — who Poobah’ed last fall’s Nada Ha-Ha after COVID caused the cancellation of the official Baja Ha-Ha. She led the Nada Ha-Ha south and is now back in La Paz aboard Talion, her Gulfstar 50.


Patsy Verhoeven and Talion, just settled into La Paz and taking care of boat projects.
© 2021 Talion

She passed along the following, “New cruisers are arriving every week and the veterans are returning to retrieve their boats. La Paz marinas have plenty of available slips, and anchorages in the Sea are open to cruisers anchoring and exploring ashore.

”However, ashore in La Paz, COVID restrictions are in full force with masks required indoors and outdoors — with fines if you are caught without one.

Blue Element Sailing

“It’s a different cruising season, with no Club Cruceros gatherings, morning coffee, potlucks, or charity events. Without social activities, I find it a great time to get to many projects. Talion is over 40 years old and it shows in some areas. I’m presently replacing a lot of interior teak, sanding, and varnishing. If it all goes smoothly I’ll give the teak and holly floors a makeover too.

“The glorious Sea of Cortez is calling. It is as beautiful as always and unaffected by the pandemic. My plan is to spend February through May singlehanding up in the Sea with old friends, meeting new ones, and reuniting with last year’s Nada Ha-Ha sailors. Then it’s time for my annual bash back north to escape the summer heat and hurricanes — and to get ready for the 2021 Baja Ha-Ha!”

Meanwhile, we just heard from Andy Turpin in Tahiti, who wrote this month’s story South Pacific on Hold. The story outlines Tahiti’s ‘sort-of-open-to-cruisers’ policy, which changed just as we went to print. Tahiti has now increased travel restrictions for French Polynesia starting on February 3. This includes travel from France and from the rest of the world. Until further notice, tourism is no longer a valid reason to travel to or from the French Polynesian islands. Travel is only allowed for urgent family needs, health care and essential business.

Julie Turpin

Julie and Andy Turpin are hanging on in Tahiti and taking care of boat projects .
© 2021 Andy Turpin

Andy and his wife Julie were lucky, since they were in the States and returned to their trimaran, Little Wing, just nine days ahead of this recent shutdown. Andy reports, “They seem to turn these restrictions on and off periodically. Very tricky here, as elsewhere, because they really need the commerce but really don’t have a medical capacity to deal with a big explosion of cases.

“Out here in the anchorages the sailors are largely unaffected. Most of them keep a pretty low profile and the most dangerous thing they do is going to the supermarket where, by the way, everyone wears a mask.”

Shutdowns everywhere are taking on a rhythm like the tides. Everyone needs businesses to open up to keep the economy going, so authorities loosen restrictions until the hospitals fill up. At that point, they shut things down until hospitals clear out enough to make room for the next wave. Then they open up the economy a bit until the hospitals fill up again. Hanging out in a tropical anchorage and taking care of boat projects sounds like the way to go.

They say cruising has always been the art of fixing things in exotic places, so we wonder, has your intended sailing time, cruising or at home, turned into boat-project time? Let us know what winter projects you’ve taken on in place of sailing at [email protected].

Keep up with sailing on the Bay and around the world at Latitude 38.

Read the February issue online today. 

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