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A happy Geoff gestures toward the Cape Horn Sailor's Monument, and Cape Horn itself. Jessie the dog was safely down below.

the Canal, I sailed up to the U.S. Virgins. When I got to American Yacht Harbor in St. Thomas, I said to myself, "Time to get back to work." I got back to work by founding the Latitude 18 Bareboat Charter company at American Yacht Harbor. It started with my taking care of boats for about 12 owners who wanted to leave them at St. Thomas while they returned to the States for hurricane season. I made a proposal to keep them under my management. Then I incorporated what had been CQR Charters, and later what had been a J/ World facility. Early on, there was no place to even get a cold beer at American Yacht Harbor. So I put together a couple of sawhorses, a cooler full of beer, and a bucket for people to put money in. That was the start of what would become Latitude 18° Bar and Restaurant. I owned it a couple of different times, and she's still

doing great — since the current owners brought back my original formula and some of the old employees. They've even brought back some of the original musicians. We had a lot of good musicians play over the years, including Spencer Davis. We had a great run with that restaurant. 38: So what other boats did you own? Ron: There were a bunch. Since I took over the J/World facility, we did a lot of racing in J/24s and J/30s and other J/Boats. But for the last 19 years I've owned a Gallant 53. 38: We know that design well, as she's sort of the baby sister of the Ocean 71s. Like the 71s, she was designed by van de Stadt and built by Southern Ocean Shipyard in England. Ron: Right. In 1978, the then-29-year -old Naomi James, a one-time Kiwi hairdresser, used the Gallant 53 Express Crusader

to become the first woman to sail nonstop around the world. It was actually Chay Blyth's Spirit of Cutty Sark, which he loaned to James. Despite her being a novice sailor, she bested Sir Francis Chichester's record of 274 days by two days. A total of 22 Gallant 53s were built, and my Alant of Court is the third one I tried to buy over a six-year period. It took that long for me to get one! One of the first ones I looked at was owned by a German doctor who had raced her at Antigua Sailing Week. When I tried to negotiate with the guy on the boat to buy her, he couldn't come up with any boat papers, so I became suspicious. I found a list of previous owners, and called the last one on it, which was the doctor. He told me that having done Antigua Sailing Week, the boat was all provisioned for the sail back to Europe. But when they went down to the boat the next morning to take off, she'd been stolen, and he never saw her again. When I told him that I knew where his boat was, he said he didn't care because he'd already been paid off by the insurance company. When I called the insurance company, they wouldn't release her to me either because she'd already been charged off. Since I couldn't get papers, I couldn't buy her. 38: There are still plenty of pirates in the Caribbean, aren't there? Ron: Oh yes. Alant of Court, the Gallant 53 I ultimately ended up with, was first owned by the Governor of Bermuda. But it wasn't easy buying her, either. First of all, she'd been busted for having been used to smuggle drugs, so she sat in St. Barth for years in the late '80s and early '90s. But in the early '90s I had some moorings in American Yacht Harbor, and therefore worked with marine Ron Arens, originally from San Francisco, and Carol King, originally from Redondo Beach, have been in the Caribbean for 30 years. LATITUDE/RICHARD

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IN LATITUDES

Latitude 38 Apr. 2013  

The April 2013 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.

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