The Seven Seas Cruising Association’s (SSCA) Bateman Cruising Station of the Year award proved bittersweet in 2016. Bitter because Jean ‘Janso’ Lassus, who with his wife Ana are the cruising station hosts at their Sal Pal Dentro beach bar and restaurant in Salinas, Puerto Rico, passed away just before Christmas and just after learning of the prestigious accolade. Sweet, because of the legacy Janso left behind of helping a vast number of friends and cruisers, which Ana continues today.
“Sal Pa Dentro is a waterfront cruisers’ bar where Janso and Ana welcomed all visitors to Salinas,” says Joan Conover, the SSCA’s cruising station coordinator who visited with her husband Greg several times aboard their Morgan 51, Growltiger. “Cruisers would tie up their dinks, and Janso would take them for groceries or whatever they needed or just loan them his little pickup truck. He also served as a mail stop, tracking down boats to give cruisers their parcels. He took time to go over charts with everyone to introduce them to Puerto Rico or really the northern Caribbean. Janso was a racer and knew the currents, harbors and ways to sail both east and west using whatever winds there were. He knew everyone and if he couldn’t help, he knew someone who would.”
The Lassus’ became cruising station hosts three years ago, after being nominated by Tom Cordero, the SSCA’s host in San Juan. In November 2015, they suffered a devastating fire which totaled the Sal Pa Dentro building. Three months later, they reopened following plenty of personal and community man hours dedicated to the task of raising up a new restaurant and bar from the ashes of the old one.
“When we visited Janso and Ana for a month in March 2016, they had started collecting passing sailors’ burgees again and by late summer it looked like they had never missed a passing boat. Everyone would stop and leave their boat’s burgee, which carpeted the ceiling of the bar,” says Conover.
In mid-2016, Janso began medical treatment for lung cancer and in November he was hospitalized for surgery.
“He received the award while in the hospital and sent me a photo with his thanks. He was so very upbeat, telling me he would be going home soon to Ana and their little puppy, Diego, but sadly he never left the hospital,” says Conover.
The Bateman Cruising Station Award recipient is voted on by members and is presented to a volunteer host who has assisted visiting cruisers and particularly SSCA members in a significant capacity, and who has tried to promote the SSCA and recruit new members. The award is named for George and Dorothy Bateman, of Opua, New Zealand. The Batemans, SSCA Cruising Station hosts since 1984, received the first Cruising Station of the Year award in 2005. This is the second time in award history that a Caribbean cruising station host was selected, the first being Jack Dausend, in Trinidad, in 2007. The SSCA, based in Coral Springs, Florida, is the oldest and largest worldwide organization that supports the liveaboard cruising lifestyle.