February 29, 2024

Noonsite February Sailing News and Updates


The shocking news of the ordeal suffered by cruising couple Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel when their catamaran “Simplicity” was hijacked by three escaped criminals from Grenada, has rocked the cruising community. Ralph and Kathy were living the bluewater cruising life that so many of our readers aspire to. That they have gone missing, presumed dead, in such awful circumstances is truly tragic, and their families and friends are in our thoughts.

In the wake of this terrible incident there has been a lot of talk on cruiser forums about keeping the VHF switched on and an airhorn nearby, for use in an emergency situation. Carolyn Shearlock of The Boat Galley comments this month in our “New to Cruising” section, on the demise of the VHF as cruisers rely on other means of communication and advocates a number of reasons as to why the VHF should remain the preferred method of communication.

Ted Ownes responded to Michelle Shultz’s article last month on how we can keep ourselves safe on board and recommends Pirates Aboard! by Klaus Hympendahl, our book of the month featured at the end of the newsletter. The book discusses various cases of yacht piracy including interviews with over 40 victims and their thoughts on lessons learnt.

Thankyou for talking to us:

After launching our user survey last month we have had an excellent response from Noonsite readers who have taken part, with some really useful and insightful feedback. Thank you to everyone who made the effort to share their thoughts on Noonsite. It’s not too late to participate in the survey if you haven’t yet done so, we will be running it until the end of March. It takes just 5 minutes of your time and your feedback will help make Noonsite better and more useful.

This month we have more guidance for “orca alley”, plus some great destination cruising reports from our readers. Those new to cruising have plenty of interesting articles and links to explore and our environment section covers the catastrophic oil spill off Tobago in the Caribbean, plus a number of other concerns for the health of our oceans.

Thankyou for reading and sail safe,

Sue and the Noonsite Team

Previous newsletters can be viewed here.


One of the main challenges that liveaboard cruiser Sarah Powell discovered when she stepped aboard her 30ft boat for the first time, was not only what to cook, but also how to cook in a galley space that was less than one square meter in size. Since then, she has gathered a wealth of essential equipment and storage tips to make cooking and provisioning simple and easy, which she shares in this INSIGHTS article for Noonsite.

The demise of the use of VHF amongst the cruising community is causing lots of issues with security on boats as more and more cruisers rely on other means of communication including social media, starlink, mobile phones and the internet. Carolyn Shearlock of The Boat Galley looks at several reasons why VHF should be the preferred method of communication.

While we don’t normally report on yacht racing, the news about how Global Solo Challenge competitor William MacBrien was rescued from his semi-submerged vessel more than 1300 nautical miles west of Cape Horn, demonstrates the mechanics of a successful rescue attempt and the importance of a float plan/passage plan, filed with family or friends on shore prior to departing on passage. Read the news here.

Long distance cruiser Torsten Schulz shares with the Blue Water Cruising Association his top liveaboard gadgets to make life aboard easier and more comfortable.

There are a myriad of different lines available for use as a halyard, sheet or control line, but which ones will suit your rigging systems best? This article from Jimmy Green Marine, should help you to understand the technical jargon when making your next rope purchasing decision.

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Atlantic Iberian Peninsula

Over the first few months of 2024, in preparation for transit season south from Northern Europe, Noonsite is publishing guidelines in collaboration with the Cruising Association (CA) as to how you can best-prepare for a passage around the Atlantic Iberian Peninsula ("Orca Alley") and what you can do to help those following in your wake. Part 1 published last month covers passage planning tips, while part 2 focuses on how best to prepare prior to departure and FAQs. The CA Portal map image shows reported orca interactions in the Gibraltar area during April and May 2023.

Read Part 2: FAQs Prior to Departure

Read Part 1: Passage Planning Tips

Discover, learn, share and help others



A catastrophic environmental disaster continues in the Caribbean. The oil spill from a capsized vessel was first spotted by Trinidad and Tobago's Coast Guard on Feb. 7 and oil is still leaking, according to authorities. It has blackened Tobago's coastline, reached parts of Bonaire’s east coast and may also reach Grenada, threatening vulnerable mangrove, fish and coral ecosystems. Thousands of volunteers and now international aid are working towards cleaning up Tobago’s coastline and attempting to prevent the spread of the oil, however, high winds have hampered efforts.

NOAA began appealing to Boaters back in 2020 to help save critically endangered Right Whales by launching a Slow Zones Campaign in US waters from Maine to Virginia. The death toll of Right Whales continues to surge at an alarming rate with the latest tragedy a one-year-old calf found dead off the coast of Georgia this month.

Bali, like many other places in the world, has a massive plastic and waste problem. We report this month on a group of young locals who are trying their best to tackle the issue. Sungai Watch has advised Noonsite that all sailors and visitors to Bali are welcome to join their volunteer cleanups, which they conduct weekly at five different locations in Bali.

The Norwegian Government has issued new rules that will help protect the pristine environment of the Svalbard archipelago, which lies between mainland Norway and the North Pole and which has become an increasingly popular destination for Arctic tourism. High-latitude sailor Jon Amtrup reports.


In 2021, Brandon and Ashley from Michigan, USA, decided it was time to stop chasing the American dream and do something extraordinary with their three young boys (aged 11, 9 and 8). So they bought a boat, sold all their possessions and in 2022 set sail with a rough plan to “see the world”. They are currently transiting the Panama Canal.

Find out more about this adventurous family in Noonsite’s latest “Portrait of a Cruiser” with feedback from both the parents and children.



Limited Places


Experience the Wonders and Diversity of Japan

From South to North

March 29 to June 1, 2024


Enjoy the Beauty, Culture, and History of the Seto Inland Sea

April 28 to May 27, 2024

For more information contact Kirk@konpira-consulting.com

Also, don't miss:

The Ocean Cruising Club

70th Anniversary Event

All cruisers welcome

April 26-28 2024


Pacific Ocean:

The Amigo Net in Pacific Mexico was retired at the start of February due to a consistent reduction in interest and participation over the past several years. The net controllers say competing communication methods and global internet availability are contributing to the reduction in interest in SSB.

After 26 years without changing, the Galapagos National Park entrance fee (payable by every crew member on board) will increase to US$200 for foreigners and US$30 for nationals from August 2024.

Despite the costs, bureaucracy and restrictions, the Galapagos Islands (see map) are not just the ideal stopover en-route from Panama to French Polynesia, but are also unique and full of adventure. Richard Freeborn of SV Hawkeye, who visited in January this year, says they should be on every Pacific cruiser’s bucket list. Use his extremely detailed report to assist with planning, navigation, island information, the paperwork and the incredible activities these enchanting islands offer.

Mainland Ecuador is gradually returning to normality after a state of emergency was declared in January. Puerto Amistad, a cruiser-friendly marina in Bahía de Caráquez, have a good summary of the current security situation on their website.

Over the first half of February the South Pacific saw two weak and short-lived tropical cyclones develop east of the date line affecting the Cook Islands and French Polynesia. Both Tropical Cyclone NAT and Tropical Cyclone OSAI were short lived with minimal affect.

Arriving with a clean hull is vitally important if cruising to New Zealand. This very useful new website - https://www.marinepests.nz/ - has heaps of information for visiting cruisers so everyone should be aware of the requirements when arriving in NZ and when cruising the country. It also has a list of all haulout operators.

South China Sea

Raymond La Fontaine, founder of Marina Del Ray in Lombok, Indonesia, sadly passed away this month. He was determined to build the first safe haven halfway between Australia and Singapore and will be fondly remembered for the incredible support and kindness he showed to the cruising community. Find out more about how Marina Del Rey was established here.

Krabi Marina in Thailand is back open again with new owners. While plans are underway to improve the facilities at the marina, it is still in a state of disrepair although power and water are now available and the owners are offering a 30% discount on berthing fees.

Cruiser Michael Foote reports that Labuan Public Marina in Sabah, Borneo, is no longer supported financially and is in an advanced state of decay – no longer suitable for yachts.

Indian Ocean:

After leaving Australia at the end of July 2023, Swedish cruisers Anna and Arthur Eriksson took the testing southern Indian Ocean route to South Africa via Christmas Island, Cocos Keeling, Rodrigues, Mauritius and Reunion. The voyage of 5664 nautical miles took them three months, with a total of 39 days at sea. While known as a difficult route to take, Anna says the passage was testing but exciting and well worth the effort. Read their passage report here.


With the mooring field currently closed in St. Helena, yachts stopping over here on their way across the southern Atlantic are having to anchor instead. Port Control have provided recommended anchoring spots which can be found in the Jamestown docking section. The mooring field will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

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Caribbean Sea:

It has been much stormier than usual in the Caribbean this winter with frequent fronts and wind shifts making for some challenging cruising. A list of weather resources relied upon by Caribbean cruisers (updated January 2024), including active VHF nets, can be found in Caribbean Compass.

There have been good reports from cruisers visiting Dominica. Rachel Lewis reports: “Our first season and our first visit to Dominica. From the no-sales-pitch “Welcome” as we entered Portsmouth, to the friendly beach party, the ever-present helpful hand at the PAYS dinghy dock and the never-ending support through some turbulent weather, PAYS made the entire experience of visiting Portsmouth/Dominica a pleasure. We will be back and Dominica should be proud of this grass-roots initiative.”

Prickly Bay Customs and Immigration in Grenada are back open as a fully functioning port of entry and departure for yachts.

A great article on how to best deal with “boat boys” - the Caribbean’s island entrepreneurs - by SY Morgan Cloud.


Long-lasting, above-average temperatures, warm spells and poor precipitation have led to severe drought conditions in the Mediterranean region, affecting numerous areas across southern Italy, southern Spain, Malta, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published its report on the persisting droughts and their impact across the wider region. It also points to seasonal forecast predicting a warmer spring in southern Italy, Greece, the Mediterranean islands, and northern Africa. As the drought’s severity is expected to persist, concerns rise about its impacts on agriculture, ecosystems, drinking water availability and energy production.

Red Sea

At this time of year yachts are busy transiting the Red Sea in both directions. While many abandoned their plans due to the on-going instability in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, several yachts have transited the route recently without incident. Sailing catamaran “5Oceans” gives us their report.

Good news from Egypt where the North to South transit of the Suez Canal has just become cheaper. The obligatory port clearance fee of almost US$1000 at Port Said has now been removed completely. The Red Sea Ports Authority do have a history of suddenly substantially increasing the costs of port clearance for yachts, the last being in January 2024 when southbound port clearance was increased from US$265 to US$900-1000. It’s not known how long this “no fee” situation will last for, so be sure to check with your agent on the latest fees prior to arranging a transit.


US cruisers, Jill and Michael Gallin, are taking the ‘road less travelled’ around the world aboard their yacht SV Gerty. When visiting The Gambia in West Africa they found a cruising destination that made an indelible mark on their hearts. Keen to tell others about the incredible welcome they received, they sent us their cruising story which includes some great local tips and details of all their anchorages.

Don’t miss this inspirational interview with sailing legend Peter Smith. Peter has sailed over 350,000 miles in 52ft aluminium yacht “Kiwi Roa” (a boat he designed and built himself), mostly in the high latitude regions (ice, ferocious winds and difficult anchorages) which led him to design the Rocna anchor. A totally self-sufficient sailor, there are a great deal of tips and tricks to learn from Peter.



Pirates Aboard!

Forty Cases of Piracy Today and What Bluewater Cruisers Can Do About It

By Klaus Hympendahl

Although published in 2006, this book still provides valuable information about piracy against cruisers, which is critical to sailing safety.

The author interviewed the victims of more than forty cases, asking them what lessons they learned and how they might avoid or survive similar encounters. Their comments offer significant lessons for anybody bravely navigating the high seas today. Of the crew with guns, only half had positive outcomes. Some were even hurt with their own guns.

This book is recommended by cruiser Ted Ownes, who responded to Michelle Shultz’s article last month on how we can keep ourselves safe on board. He suggests ways to be safer: “Do not sail single handed, do not anchor in a cove by yourself, lock up and put things away. We also have an alarm system on-board, and I have started locking the companionway at night. It would be really difficult for a pirate to get in the boat and with an alarm blaring they would likely move on.”

How to get more out of Noonsite

While the majority of Noonsite continues to be a free resource, there are some ways you can get more enhanced viewing and more involved with the site:

Become a Member:

Starting from just $2.99/month you can benefit from enhanced access to key areas of Noonsite via our membership program. Your subscription will help keep the site on the web as part of a growing community of supporters. Our free membership is available to all but does come with a ‘fair use’ policy limiting access to country formalities each month. Enjoy unlimited access to all country formalities via our Basic Membership for just $2.99 a month, which also gives you the Noonsite community map, where you can view at a glance marine services worldwide, ports of entry and post your favorite anchorages. Noonsite's Premium Membership gives offline access to port and country formalities information to use when on passage. 

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Send us your detailed cruising reports and experiences around the world to publish on Noonsite and share with the community. Help us keep Noonsite accurate by feeding back any port updates or experiences of first-arrival in a new country. Any cruising-related questions are welcome, contact the noonsite team directly at noonsite@noonsite.com

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