CHANGES seeing spirit bears? P.B. Sure. 38: That's Latitude's old Ocean 71 Big O, which we sold to Caribbean buyers while in the Caribbean. P.B. That's funny! Ocean Light and Precious Metal worked the same region, with spirit bears as a focus of our charters. I did more high-end charters, while they put lots of bunks in Ocean Light. 38: You mentioned that your three years of doing charters were "successful". Does that mean they were also lucrative? P.B. No, as in that region you only have a three-month charter season, and you still have 12 months of expenses. But it did allow me to buy the equipment I needed for offshore cruising, and I became a much better seawoman. It was a lot of work, however, as I was the captain, cook, bottlewasher, engineer, mechanic, cleaning lady — everything. 38: Where did you go when you took off cruising in 2008? P.B. I headed south from Canada to San Diego to participate in the 2008 HaHa, and then cruised Mexico until 2010. In 2010, I set sail for Central America, the Galapagos and Peru. People should read my book, which explains it all. I promise they will laugh out loud at some of the adventures. 38: Not many people cruise to Peru. What did you think of it? P.B. I loved Peru! In fact, it leapfrogged to the top of the list of my favorite countries in the world. After Peru, I kept running back and forth between Zihua
Pamela loved Peru so much she did a onehanded handstand salute to Machu Picchu. You get strong like that when you singlehand.
for SailFest in late January and Peru or Panama. It was kind of crazy going back and forth. 38: So how did you meet Mr. X? P.B. I was coming back to southern Mexico three years ago with one guest aboard when Precious Metal was struck by lightning 200 miles off the coast of El Salvador. The lightning came in through the engine water intake, and fried every wire and everything any wire was attached to. I had shorts everywhere. All I had was a handheld compass and a handheld GPS. We managed to make it to Bahia del Sol, and as planned all along, my guest left the next day. Unfortunately, I'd gotten fried myself shortly after my boat got hit by lightning. There were continuing shorts in the enclosed stand-up engine room, and I had to be in there for hours cutting wires to prevent fires. It turns out that I ingested a lot of the toxic chemicals from the wires and got poisoned. But there was nothing I could do at the time, as I had to deal with the results of the strike. My skin later broke out with symptoms similar to chicken pox. My limbs were numb for six months, and partially numb for another six months. I had to get all kinds of injections, as my entire immune system was compromised. 38: Did you have insurance, and how did they treat you? P.B. I had Seaworthy Insurance through Mariner's General, and Craig Chamberlain, my broker, was great. They did me good. But I could have gotten a lot more money, as problems from lightning strikes continue to show up for years. But I was worried I wouldn't get anything at all, so I wanted a check right away. Since I signed a disclaimer, I was out of luck for future problems. The biggest problem I had was with the outfit in El Salvador that sold and installed Garmin electronics. They fraudulently installed stuff on my 46-ft steel sailboat that was specifically intended for smaller sportfishing boats. They knew it was the wrong stuff — I have all the emails between them and Garmin — but they installed it anyway. As a result of getting the wrong equipment, I had to go for a year without an autopilot or any other electronics. That included a 500-mile singlehanded trip to Panama, with my boat and personal health compromised.
Fortunately, Mr. X buddy-boated with me the entire way. X and I were each on our own boat, but because my boat and I were in less than perfect operating condition, we'd stop every afternoon at 4:30 p.m. and drop the hook for the night. 38: We need to back up for a minute. Who is 'Mr. X' and how did you meet him? P.B. He's a sailor from Northern California who has been cruising the F/P 43 cat Rapscallion for the last 10 years. But he doesn't like any kind of publicity. He was already at Bahia del Sol getting one of his diesels rebuilt for $500. I needed rides to town to the doctor and help with getting parts and doing other things. I was single, he was single, and the rest is history. But it really meant something to me that somebody was willing to buddyboat all the way to Panama with me. 38: How long were you in Panama? P.B. About a year. I finally got so fed
The May 2014 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.