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FROM THE WINTER 2004 ISSUE OF THE OUT TRAVELER
Q My partner and I bought three acres on Hakalau Bay in Hawaii and are planning on building on the property. I own a Catalina 36-foot sailboat, and I've wondered about sailing the Pacific. We want to sail from Long Beach, Calif., to Hawaii next summer and then sail the Pacific in the future. I've heard your editor in chief, Matthew Link, grew up on a sailboat in the Pacific, so my questions are, What is the biggest challenge to sailing the Pacific? Are there any warnings that you would give us about sailing, such as weather, pirates, or anything else? Are there any good books on information about sailing the Pacific? Col. Paul Mount, Long Beach, Calif.
A Sailing the Pacific is not something one should take on lightly. The "Pacific" Ocean is anything but. It stirs up some of the most wicked weather on the planet and is so vast--with friendly tradewind latitudes, large typhoon paths, and immense windless areas called doldrums--that you can't easily sum it all up. (Pirating is a fairly rare phenomenon but still occurs in remote regions of Southeast Asia.) People attempting to cross it should probably crew on someone else's boat first to know what they are in for.
Having grown up on my father's 52-foot cutter on the Pacific, I know it takes a lifetime to really learn about the sea and all her moods and personalities. There is a whole culture of "yachties" out there who cruise the seas for years, and you can download a lot of information from those who have gone before you. Besides the obvious Sailing for Dummies books, pick up a copy of Miles Hordern's Sailing the Pacific: A Voyage Across the Longest Stretch of Water on Earth and a Journey Into Its Past (St. Martin's Press, 2003). The author sailed single-handedly from New Zealand to Chile and back, with all the hair-raising tales that go along with that. For practical advice, try The Cruising Life: A Commonsense Guide for the Would-be Voyager by Jim Trefethen (International Marine Press, 1998), with info like how to save money for your trip, how to choose what you need to outfit your boat, and most of all, if the cruising life is really for you. Southern California also has a gay and lesbian sailing club called Horizon Yacht Club with 60 members and plenty of activities and parties to join. So our advice is to gather as much personal knowledge and experience as possible before you set sail.
QWhat are your three favorite gay restaurants in London? Mike Ivchenko, via e-mail
A For gay eats, Turkey and Spain are the latest muses of New Zealand chef Peter Gordon, whose Sugar Club first put fusion on London's culinary map. The gently stylish surroundings at his latest venture, Providores (109 Marylebone High St., W1; 011-44-20-7935-6175; $45-$85), put meeting and eating center stage, and the fusion envelope, still profiting from influences Gordon picked up traveling in Asia as a young man, gets pushed further, both in the formal restaurant setting and in the buzzy, more affordable Tapa Room downstairs. Star of India's (154 Old Brompton Rd., SW5; 011-44-20-7373-2901; $45-$85) chef and flaming figurehead Reza Mohammed offers a glamorous take on the classic British curry house in Girls'--sorry--Earl's Court. The trio of antique dealers behind Les Trois Garcons (One Club Row, E1; 011-44-20-7613-1924; $50-$120)--these gar?ons still live upstairs--serve up a wildly eccentric blend of modern French cuisine and high-camp decor (guests are greeted by a stuffed bulldog in tiara and fairy wings) that attracts stars like Madge (formally Madonna) to this converted East End pub.
QAfter obtaining a legal marriage license in our home state of Massachusetts, my husband and I are eager to update the surnames (now hyphenated) on our passports. However, a friend told us that name-change requests from same-sex couples are being denied. If so, do you know of any other way to legally change the names on our passports? Jason Brill-Levy, Cambridge, Mass
A Citing the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which says that a marriage can be between only a man and a woman, the National Passport Center, based in Portsmouth, N.H., has indeed denied a number of name-change requests from legally married same-sex couples in your state. But go ahead and try it. Who knows? You may encounter a sympathetic clerk. In the meantime, your most expedient option is to petition the state court and obtain an official court order to change your name. For information, advice, and legal services pertaining to name-change law, call 800-311-6123. The NPC will honor the name-change court decree even if it doesn't respect your marriage license. But before you newly minted Brill-Levys jet off to Jakarta, don't forget to write a letter to the NPC expressing your outrage over their discriminatory practices.
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