PHOTOS COURTESY PANACHE
IN LATITUDES ate plans sequenced between scuttling Panache and flying home from Niue, fixing the boat in Tonga and waiting out the cyclone season, and everything in between. Whichever way, landfall in New Zealand had never felt so far away. I had failed. — zach 10/10/12 Readers — So ends Zach's report. In a private email, he wrote to say that his cruising was probably "winding down." Since then, Vlad has flown home, Zach has gotten the rudder fixed, and he has checked out of Niue for Tonga. We're thinking that New Zealand, after the South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season ends, might not seem that distant any longer. Zach is too young to realize that he's not been a failure at all, but a raging success. No matter what he decides to do, the responsibilities and experiences he's had in the last year have given him not only a bigger bang-for-the-buck education, but a better real-life education than he could have gotten at Harvard. But even more important, dude, you've been living life to the hilt, not just existing. A tip of the Latitude hat to you.
ferent, would have prevented Panache from going on the reef. If we had only left Niue with Elliot, or tied the mooring line tighter, or kept an anchor watch on deck, or turned the engine on a moment earlier, we might be in better shape. But all things considered, we were extremely lucky, because we were both safe and Panache was still floating. Our exhaustion was overwhelming, but sleep never came. Fear of breaking free from the mooring was enough to keep us both awake. I jumped into the churning water the following morning and, when the bubbles cleared, could see the damage. Panache’s keel looked as if the shark from Jaws had chewed it apart, and there was a superficial scar on the bow. The bad news was that the rudder was fractured. I took a few pictures and then hauled myself on deck. New Zealand was out of the question. I had gotten lazy, tied a shitty knot, and lost New Zealand. It
may sound silly, but losing New Zealand made my time in the Pacific seem like a waste. It's like hiking to within visible range of a mountain's peak, and then having to turn around. We would have to remove the rudder and jury rig a fix good enough to get us to Tonga 310 miles away. Before any of that, though, we would have to wait out the low pressure system that was twisting the wind and waves into two days of torture. No toilet, no sleep, and all the luxuries of land teasing us by being only meters away. The wharf was being swallowed by the westerly swell, making a landing suicide. Grudgingly we waited out the low, all the while awake and overly vigilant of the lines connected to our mooring ball keeping us away from the reef. I had plenty of time to be bummed out, and my immedi-
'Angel Louise' may not be the newest or sleekest cat, but she's gone from Maine to Venezuela, across the Altantic and across Europe. ANGEL LOUISE
The aftermath, clockwise from above. Vlad and Zach with the rudder at the Niue YC. A triumphant Zach found it was easy to drop the rudder from the boat. The major rudder damage was the shape of Texas. Zach at the Niue YC work table. Three aluminum stringers for extra strength.
Angel Louise — Catalac 36 Ed and Sue Kelly Doing the European Divide (Des Moines, Iowa) We write from the islands of Greece, the 34th country on our ship's log. Getting Angel Louise to the Aegean Sea has been worth the effort, but it's been a different kind of effort than we anticipated — and it involved a route that we had never read about before. Capt Sue and I have the distinction of having taken our sailboat from the North Sea to the Black Sea and Southern Turkey, which required crossing the 1,340-ft-tall Continental Divide by four principal canals
The December 2012 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.