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SAILING FROM SEATTLE TO SAN FRANCISCO

We're planning to sail our boat from the Seattle area to San Francisco Bay in September of next year. Having limited sailing experience - and no experience whatsoever on sailboats on the high seas - we're looking for information and advice as to the conduct of our passage.

Mike Denham
Sequim, Washington

Mike - When they teach people to ski, they start them out on bunny slopes rather than 'double diamonds'. Because the chilly coasts of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California are subject to abrupt changes in weather, very strong winds and huge seas, they constitute one of sailing's 'double diamonds'. What makes it worse is that there are few ports of refuge along these coasts, and most can't be reached without crossing a dangerous river bar.

Over the years we've talked with many folks from the Northwest who've done long cruises or even circumnavigations. More than a couple have told us that their trip from Seattle to San Francisco was the most frightening and dangerous of their entire voyage. Then there are those who simply put their boats up for sale as soon as they reached San Francisco.

In our opinion, you have two intelligent options: The first is to gradually ease yourself into ocean sailing while in the Pacific Northwest, then make arrangements to have a couple of experienced ocean sailors accompany you on the passage down to San Francisco. The second is to have your boat trucked to San Francisco, where you can slowly get an ocean education through short trips to the Potato Patch and Farallone Islands.

Understand that first ocean experiences are critical to anyone's long term enjoyment of ocean sailing. If somebody is petrified by a brutal first ocean experience, it's very possible they'll never recover. So for both your safety and enjoyment, don't teach yourself ocean sailing off the coasts of Washington and Oregon. By the way, we think you'll be interested in the following letter - which describes an average passage from Seattle south.

WE DECIDED TO CALL THE COAST GUARD

My wife Penny and I left Seattle on September 7 aboard her Cascade 36 Mai Tardis, and 22 days later sailed into San Francisco Bay. We - and our three boats - are currently at Oyster Point Marina, where Penny used to live before we got married. With all our boats together - we also have a Coastal Mansion Barracuda houseboat and my 35-ft Chris Craft center-cockpit sailboat. This means - hint, hint - at least one can be used for visitors.

Our trip down the coast - I've been sailing for 20 years and Penny for seven - started out well enough. We left Neah Bay and entered the open Pacific, at which point the boat's jerky motion was enough to leave both of us feeling queasy. Then the wind came up enough for our windvane, 'Handy Andy', to steer. He proved to be a valuable member of the crew, steering with flawless precision in all sailing conditions. Thus passed the first two days.

The third and fourth days of our trip found us with lots of sun and no wind. Two days of that were followed by a falling barometer and increasing winds, so we rejoiced in the opportunity to sail once again. As the wind continued to build, however, the sailing conditions began to deteriorate. First we reefed the main, then we dropped the jib. Soon the prediction of 40-knot winds was not just fulfilled but exceeded. Fifty miles offshore at the time, we thought it prudent to head toward shore than be blown further out.

When the winds reached an estimated 60 knots and the seas 20 feet, we called the Coast Guard to ask what kind of weather we might expect closer to shore. We were 38 miles offshore at the time, not in immediate danger, and had a stout boat with all the safety equipment. They reported 10 knots of wind and three foot seas along the coast! When we advised them of the conditions we were in, they asked our intentions. "I plan to bring this sucker in!" I responded. They estimated it would take us 10 hours.

We started the diesel and were able to motorsail at as much as 10.5 knots with our autopilot steering. The boat was pounding hard and taking breaking waves. Looking forward, I realized that we had the jib and two lines dragging in the water. As I worked my way forward to clean up the foredeck, the lee rail was continuously underwater. It wasn't good to be out in those conditions.

As I worked to bring the sail and lines back aboard, I realized that one of the lines hanging overboard was a 50-foot dockline. One end was cut, which means it no doubt had gotten snagged in the prop. No wonder the diesel had been so reluctant to start - the prop was fouled with 14 feet of line.

Chilled and exhausted from the exertion on the bow, Penny insisted that I go below. While below, the Coasties called to establish a 30-minute radio watch and to confirm our position and condition. I wedged myself in at the companionway steps and was talking to the Coast Guard when the starboard side port went black. Our boat was taking a big knockdown! My head got banged and then I was violently thrown to the other side of the boat where I got my face smashed.

Penny had been in the cockpit, but was saved from injury by the stainless steel dodger frame - which did get smashed. Fortunately, she was tethered to the boat and never even lost her seat.

The Coast Guard had lost radar contact and radio contact with us at that time and feared the worst. But our sturdy little boat came through unharmed. We continued on for six more hours and finally reached the coast. By this time the coastal winds were all the way up to 25 knots - which felt like a light breeze to us! The Coasties had a boat waiting for us, and after circling us to check our condition, led us in to Coos Bay, Oregon. We soon found a slip at nearby Charleston Harbor. The Coast Guard's radio contacts and other assistance really helped our morale during trying circumstances; we thank them.

We laid over for repairs to ourselves, our boat, and our gear - and for a weather window. During the first couple of days I admit to having looked at a few RVs. But after a week of enjoying our stay and the fine people we met, we were eager to get out to sea once again. The rest of our trip to San Francisco was uneventful - in part because of the fact that I'd installed a radar.

Rick and Penny Rienks
South San Francisco

Readers - Rick and Penny met while sailing their own boats in the Northwest. "Penny is a retired federal law enforcement pistol packin' mama," says Rick. "On our first date we went sailing. When we spent our second date cleaning guns together, I knew it was love. I didn't even care if she could cook - but she can!"

Rienks had this advice for anyone contemplating a similar passage from Seattle to San Francisco: "Inland and protected water sailors must realize that the motion is much different offshore in the Northwest. The motion beats you up and wears you out so it's easy to get hurt. For those without much experience, either take experienced crew or truck your boat to San Francisco. Because our first trip had been so hard, because the season was getting late, and because of the uncertainty of El Niño, we ended up having my 35-ft sailboat trucked down."

WE PREDICT THE TRANSPAC NUMBERS WILL INCREASE

The purpose of this letter, in part, is to respond to Tom Leweck's primarily negative TransPac commentary that appeared as a Sightings in the September issue. More importantly, it's to discuss - in a more positive fashion - the past, present and future of the TransPacific YC's traditional race to Honolulu.

First off, I want to correct some of the facts alluded to by Leweck. While it's true that there has been a substantial reduction in the number of boats entering the TransPac in the past two decades, exactly the same number of boats started the 1997 race as started the 1995 race - 38. We hope, and optimistically predict, that the numbers will increase in the future because of some steps being taken - which I will discuss later on in this letter.

Staggered starts were first introduced in '91 in the hope that most boats would finish during a brief period, thereby helping the hardworking volunteers in Honolulu and making it possible to share the hospitality. In fact, this past year the number of staggered starts was substantially reduced from '95. There were only two starts for the racing fleet - plus one for the cruising boats and one for the multihulls. There were not 11 other racing monohulls in the Ali Wai Yacht Harbor when the turbo sleds arrived.

The starting dates for the racing fleet were set and publicized more than a year before the race. The three-day separation between the small racing boats and the 70+ raters was chosen because based on average weather over the past several races, the turbo sleds would finish first closely followed by everybody else.

As it turned out, we had excellent sustained winds throughout the race. On the one hand, it was responsible for six boats breaking Merlin's 20-year-old elapsed time record and at the same time - according to Leweck - causing the turbo sled group of record breakers that he was connected with to complain that they didn't get to Hawaii first.

Lastly, it's hard to believe that any turbo sled owner didn't know - from reading the race instructions published long before the entries were received, or from their spokesman Leweck - that there was a three-day separation between the start of the two racing fleets.

With regard to handicaps, we'll all surely recall that the largest TransPac fleets were in the '70s and '80s when the IOR handicap system was firmly in place. With the demise of the IOR and no comparable replacement, the TransPac has been continually faced with the problem of trying to meld diverse rating systems - none of which were entirely satisfactory to blanket the range of boats we hoped would enter.

The TransPac cannot be held responsible for the demise of IOR. In a positive effort, we've come up with a rating system which we believe creates the most equitable handicapping available under the circumstances. It was applied to the monohull racing fleets in '95, '97, and will continue to be in the future without basic change. Leweck is wrong when he says the handicapping system is forced on all participants because, as we know, the TransPac now includes cruising boats and multihulls, which are in separate and distinct fleets.

All of the cruising class monohulls and all of the multihulls received PHRF handicaps in '97 - and will do so in the future. Furthermore, all of the racing fleet were invited to also race under a PHRF rating - and the majority of the fleet did so. They were awarded trophies in accordance with their PHRF handicaps.

Finally, I wish to take exception to Leweck's implication that TransPac is focusing on complications and controversy. To the contrary, our primary focus has been - and continues to be - participant enjoyment. I believe this is obvious through Rob Moore's excellent article in the August issue of Latitude. It is not helpful to write editorials dwelling only on controversy. With all due respect to Leweck, a great supporter of racing, I might point out that he wasn't in Honolulu, has been negative on the TransPac for many years, and after becoming a TransPac director for a short time in '96, advised us that his interests lay elsewhere. I would hope that in the future he would volunteer his invaluable expertise to help promote the race once again.

Our hats are off to the West Marine Pacific Cup race to Hawaii, which has been filled to capacity and is obviously a most positive and enjoyable experience. Also, the race has the good fortune to have a great sponsor in West Marine, which is most supportive financially and makes a perfect fit between its market and the Pacific Cup fleet.

For a long time I've wanted to get the racing/cruising boats back in the TransPac Race - as they were in the '70s and '80s. Leweck probably did notice, but didn't mention, that we invited a cruising class this year, and it was a very positive experience for those involved. As was stated by skipper Fred Frye, "Finishing the TransPac Race should be just as important as winning the Barn Door Trophy. I think it's great that TransPac has opened up a class for boats that carry furniture and fine wine. It's really just getting back to the races roots. The cruising class should play a big role in the race in years to come."

Whether it's love for the tradition of TransPac, the oldest, longest continuous ocean race around, or because we agree with this premise and salute the success of the West Marine Pacific Cup, we are determined to increase the size of TransPac fleets and to make the cruising class a major part of future races.

To avoid any misunderstanding in the future on the part of those who only hear a part of the story, who weren't at the start or finish in Honolulu, or who have specific agendas, there are some important matters which have already been essentially decided on for the '99 TransPac:

For the '99 race, we'll have three fleets - racing, cruising, and multihull. The Notice of Race and Race Instructions will be published by the end of this year, and will be essentially the same as they were for '97. The monohull racing fleet will have one start, on Saturday, July 3, 1999. The multihull fleet will start on July 6. The cruisers will start on June 27 or 28. If, in addition to the true cruising boats, we attract a substantial number of performance cruisers - which we certainly hope will be the case - they will probably start on June 30.

We believe we've made great strides this past year in press releases, the Internet website, daily ESPN coverage, and our half hour and hour programs put together by Channel Sea Television. There will be more of this next time. We are getting out posters shortly and we are hopefully going to be more 'proactive' - particularly with the cruising fleet in the coming years.

In conclusion, on behalf of the TransPacific YC, we firmly believe in the biannual TransPac Race to Honolulu and its rich tradition. We hope to not only maintain but to improve and enlarge on it. On a purely volunteer basis, we've been working and continue to work hard to that end. We happily accept all constructive criticism and invite everyone who wishes to help to come on board and share in the work and fun of perpetuating one of the world's great yacht races.

H. Gilbert Jones
Commodore, TransPacific YC

H. - The Wanderer was in Honolulu for the finish of the TransPac and is firmly convinced that the way this year's TransPac worked out was nearly perfect when it came to drama. The cruising fleet got its glory when Fred Frye nearly crossed the finish line first with his Tayana 52 Salsepuedes. But no, Medicine Man overtook her just 10 miles out from the finish and went on to smash Merlin's 20-year old record. Terrific, but everyone realized that her new record was in jeopardy from the turbo sleds still on the course. While waiting to see how that panned out, blisteringly fast multihulls Explorer and Lakota - a bit of a side show - overtook most of the fleet to establish a sensational new multihull record. And finally, the climax of the event, Roy Disney's Pyewacket crossed the finish line to break Medicine Man's two-day old record for the most important category, elapsed time record.

What could be better than every fleet having their moment in the sun, with the climatic moment going to the boat establishing the most important record? The only thing that kept it from being absolutely perfect was the fact that the regular sleds were overshadowed by all the other action.

As far as the Wanderer is concerned, it's no mystery why TransPac numbers have tumbled while West Marine Pacific Cup participation has exploded. Overemphasis on competition is killing the TransPac because there can only be one big winner and many losers. A heavy emphasis on camaraderie, on the other hand, has been growing the West Marine Pacific Cup because they make sure that every single person who finishes feels like a winner. Similarly, it's the main reason that the Baja Ha-Ha attracted 112 starters last month.

SOMETHING FROM A TEQUILA BOTTLE

I have a 'dinghy landing' story to relate. It may not contain any new lessons, but it does reinforce our shared feelings of how wonderful the Mexican people are.

My first cruise was in 1980 with my Halmatic 28 Melissa. I'd reached Puerto Vallarta and was in no hurry to move on. A couple with a large powerboat nearby - in what then passed for a marina - asked me to join them aboard their vessel for a short trip south. We were to return to Puerto Vallarta in plenty of time for me to meet a visitor of mine coming down from the States.

We had a pleasant, anchorage-hopping cruise as far as Tenacatita, the skipper keeping the turbo-charged Cats throttled down to 12 knots for economy. It finally came to the point that they wanted to stay in Tenacatita and I had to get back to Puerto Vallarta. So it was decided that they'd put me ashore by dinghy and I'd take a bus back to PV.

Conditions weren't especially rough for our landing, but the skipper managed to dump the dinghy in the surf anyway. Unfortunately, my head found - just below the surface - the only rock on what had appeared to be an all sand beach. It was obvious that I was bleeding, but the captain - complaining of a sprained back - returned to the boat and left me on the beach to fend for myself.

During the dinghy dump, I'd lost my glasses. I hired two Mexican boys to help me look for the glasses. Although they were ultimately unsuccessful, they did the best they could. They did, however, express concern regarding my injury and convinced me to follow them for medical assistance. Their ability to perceive the severity of my wound and their genuine wish to see me treated is something I can't imagine an American eight-year-old duplicating soon.

In any event, they took me about a quarter mile up the beach - it's been so long that I can't relate it to the present Tenacatita landscape - to a store - imagine a 'store' in 1980 Tenacatita - where a delightful grandmother-type sat me down in the dirt-floored back room and disinfected the cut with something from a tequila bottle. As she was doing this, she kept asking if I could see normally and if I felt sleepy. Pretty good questions, I thought. To this day I carry the feeling that this woman had been dealing with seafarer's injuries for many, many years.

This kind Mexican woman used sewing motions - my Spanish wasn't very good - to indicate that stitches were mandatory and arranged a ride to take me to a clinic. I gave her a few dollars and thanked her. I wanted to give her a hug, but didn't.

The clinic was small, with barely enough rooms and equipment to keep from looking like any other dwelling. In due time I was treated by what I presume were a doctor and a nurse. As they gave me the stitches, I could feel my scalp and forehead resume their proper locations.

The bus ride back to PV and Melissa - and my spare glasses - is a story in itself, but for another occasion. When it came time to have the stitches removed, I picked a doctor's office at random. 'Random' never did better, as the doctor turned out to be a beautiful woman! When I asked her how much it would cost to have the stitches removed, she said the equivalent of $20 U.S. "Twenty dollars," I said in shocked tones, "it only cost $6 to have them put in at Tenacatita. "Really?" she replied. "In that case I'll take them out for $6." And she did.

Ed Stewart
Laurie J.
San Diego

Ed - The people of Mexico have ways of thinking and doing things that are absolutely incomprehensible to we gringos, but we can't imagine any group of people being more kind and compassionate to strangers in need.

TIME RAN OUT

I've spent the last 22 months rebuilding my Tartan 27 Sidione, trying desperately to get her ready for the Baja Ha-Ha. After working on her full time for the last three months with only a couple of days off to watch golf, I finally got her into the water in the first week of October. Then the second time I went out sailing, I bent the starboard spreader - which has since been replaced with something stronger.

I managed to sail her singlehanded non-stop from Oceanside to San Diego for the October 26 Ha-Ha party on Shelter Island. While there, a nice young lady - I failed to get her name - gave me a tote bag with T-shirt and stuff which I gave away to a friend. If I didn't go on the Ha-Ha IV, I wasn't about to wear the T-shirts. I didn't attend the parties for the same reason. If I didn't go on the rally, I wasn't about to attend events with those who did!

I'm sorry I didn't get to meet a lot of the good folks on Ha-Ha IV, but I gave it a bloody go. Time just ran out on me. By the first of the year, I should have a swell little sailboat, ready for sea. Maybe I'll see some of you then.

Buck
Sidione
Southern California

Buck - The Wanderer - who served as the Grand Poobah again this year - is bummed out that you didn't understand how inclusive and understanding Ha-Ha management and participants are of folks who sign up but don't make the start. It made absolutely no difference to anyone if you started, or if you left early, left late or from Ensenada, or if you dropped out. All that mattered was that you were part of the fleet in spirit.

Take the case of Bob Lomax and Connie Oldoven. Their trimaran had an ama separation problem off the Washington coast, so they immediately went out and purchased a motorhome. Using their wheels, they joined the fleet at San Diego, Turtle Bay, San Carlos, and Cabo San Lucas. We're positive they felt as much of the fleet as anyone - they got a special award at the award's ceremony - and weren't snubbed by anyone.

So like it or not, Buck, you're part of the Ha-Ha IV. Get those T-shirts back and wear them with pride. And when you bump into a fellow Ha-Ha'er in Mexico and start trading stories, begin yours by saying "I was a couple of months late to the start . . ." We promise that none of the Ha-Ha'ers will even raise an eyebrow.

WE'RE ALL GUILTY OF THREE STOOGES SEAMANSHIP

While in the middle of November's cover-to-cover reading of Latitude, I was surprised to see my boat mentioned in the What One Solo Sailor Did letter. I'm the "solo sailor" that Richard Arnold thanked in the letter for pulling their boat off the mud.

I was happy to help tow the folks off because who among us hasn't been guilty of 'Three Stooges Seamanship' - to use Arnold's expression. I've certainly run aground a few times myself when the tide was ebbing and the wind was blowing cross channel. I've since learned to watch the channel markers in front as well as aft.

For the record, Wind Woven, the "60+ foot ketch" that Arnold referred to is actually a '76 Force 50 with an 80 hp Lehman diesel that I have owned for about 10 years. I've been surprised that many people think it's difficult to handle a larger sailboat alone. Under power, a large sailboat is just like a powerboat. And when you point her into the wind and set the autopilot, I can hoist the sails and go sailing with no problems. Over the years, lazy jacks, a roller furling jib, and an autopilot have made life easier, but I've often sailed without any of these improvements. You just have to be a bit quicker when without them. For a number of years I soloed a CT-41 and later Wind Woven out of Pier 39. It was a challenge, but manageable. You just need to think ahead.

There are safety issues associated with sailing singlehanded. I always wear a float coat and carry a handheId VHF in a waterproof case. You have to be extra careful because no one is going to be there to haul you back onto the boat.

While the editors of Latitude mentioned that they don't know me, I feel like I've known them for many years. I'm one of your many loyal readers who thoroughly enjoy Latitude and think you do a great job.

Glenn Fagerlin
Wind Woven
Paradise Cay (Tiburon)

Glenn - We're delighted to receive such kind words from a sailor who is eager to help others and has no problem admitting he himself has made a few sailing blunders.

Since confession is good for the soul, we'll fess up to one of our biggest screw-ups. It was shortly after we started the magazine and we had our Bounty II tied to the dock in Berkeley. For some inexplicable reason, we decided we'd sail the full keel boat out of the marina - from the most leeward corner - using just the jib alone. Before we knew it, we'd run out of room to either start the engine or fall off, and slammed into a berthed trimaran. After immediately paying for the damage with a check, we got the hell out of there, with our pride between our legs.

NEVER TAKE FEMALE CRABS OR LOBSTER

Barry Allan's November article on spearing lobster really is appalling. No serious underwater hunter could ever countenance a technique that is the undersea equivalent of jacklighting deer.

The purist issue of sportsmanship aside, the compelling reason is conservation. One should never - repeat never - take females of either crab or lobster. The reason is obvious: in a society not hung up on monogamy or fidelity - crustacean society is thus - it only takes a couple of guys hanging around to keep the population going. The number of new critters, however, is directly proportional to the number of breeding females. A speared lobster is a dead lobster, and there is no way to release a female unharmed.

In many places, it is specifically illegal to take female crustaceans. Even where it's not, it's considered a reprehensible practice. Alaskans, for example, view the taking of female crabs on a par with child molestation as a crime against Nature - even though crab are abundant there. In any event, the message is clear: don't take females, and thus, by corollary, don't spear them because you can't identify them until they are dead.

On yet another issue, Allan is again seriously off base when he advocates leaving juveniles in favor of the big ones. To the unknowledgeable - such as Allan - this seems a reasonable idea. However, it isn't quite so simple. Crustacean demographics are such that abundance is inversely proportional to size; i.e., there are a lot more smaller ones than larger ones, and it's the population of larger ones that contains the big, prolific breeding females, the queen bees. Moreover, lobster, like yelloweye rockfish, grow very slowly. A lobster of five or six pounds is decades old - maybe 30 or 40 years. Do you really want to kill something like that? Naturally I'm not advocating infanticide, but better two of modest size than one great big one. As a bonus, the meat of the smaller ones is actually more tender and succulent.

It's tempting to suggest that those who are not good enough divers to take lobsters by hand should forget the whole thing and eat triggerfish, but that smacks a bit of elitism. In fact, there are some appliances that can be used to capture recalcitrant 'bugs' without harming them. A blunt hook on a handle can - like a gaff with the point dulled - haul a lobster out of a hole intact if used carefully, and allow it to be 'sexed' and subsequently released if appropriate. There are also some small net-like affairs with handles which entangle the lobster's spines and allow it to be coaxed out of its refuge, again intact. Note that both of these are strictly illegal in California, which should tell us something. Nonetheless, for those unwilling or unable to acquire the skill necessary to catch lobster by hand, they are preferable to a spear.

Please, let's think and practice sensible conservation while hunting and fishing in the sea: its abundance is not unlimited. The Sea of Cortez is a sad and poignant illustration of this. The place once crawled with lobster. Now - after so many years of indiscriminant slaughter, of people spearing bags full of them and filling their freezers with them - lobsters are a relatively rare sight. There are many more of us cruising the oceans today, and we are perfectly capable of repeating the sorry history of the American bison, the passenger pigeon, the dodo and the sea otter. I don't think any of us want that.

Jeff Bowers
Shahrazad
Planet Earth

Jeff - We're not experts on lobster because 1) we're not that enthralled with it, and 2) we can't dive because of a hole in one eardrum. Nonetheless, the crew aboard Big O became so appalled at lobster consumption on the East Coast last summer that we protested in the very belly of the beast. Led by the Wanderer, our group of eight joined Block Island's traditional Fourth of July parade and for the better part of 90 minutes chanted: "One if by land, two if by sea, save the lobster, you and me!"

The concept was apparently so seditious in that part of the world that nobody seemed to understand. Nonetheless, a bunch of the locals joined in - especially the kid's, whose support was purchased by the handing out of firecrackers. All in all, however, the protest went over about as well as a dungeness crab protest would have in San Francisco.

Some of our crew later visited a lobster hatchery, where we were told that several million lobster were being prepared to be released into the wild. Much to our surprise, we were told that the little guys would by ready for harvesting in just a couple of years. In addition, we were told there wasn't any shortage of lobster - although nobody asked the definition of 'shortage'.

A year before that, we cruised the San Blas Islands, where the Kuna Indians have been flying out 1,000 pounds of lobster a day for the last 10 years. Noticing that the Kunas were harvesting both very tiny lobster and female lobster with thousands of eggs, we protested. They laughed at us like we were nuts.

These experiences notwithstanding, it indeed seems a no-brainer that female lobster shouldn't be killed, and since you can't determine the sex of a lobster before spearing it, that they shouldn't be speared either.

SPENDING THE DAY IN THE SUN

I had the pleasure of sitting around for several hours last week sweating and waiting for the wind to pick up before the start of the Richmond YC's Red Rock Regatta race. The race never did start, but part of the fun was talking to the crew of the Latitude photo boat. They were great and we ended up throwing them a bunch of Halloween candy, for which they were most grateful.

The best part of the day? When several boats started to motor backwards just so they could pop the chutes. We got to spend the day in the sun and on the Bay, so it could have been worse.

Gary Ryan
Northern California
Gary - Check out the Race Sheet photos, pages 164 & 165.

SOLEDAD ROCKS HAD NEVER BEEN A PROBLEM

The letter from the owner of Morning Wind warning that "rocky islets" two miles off Punta Santo Tomas were not charted on DMA #21140 caused me to pull out my chart - which is by now pretty well written on after quite a number of races to Cabo and Mazatlan. I wanted to see why this hazard hadn't ever been a problem for me.

I found that we had frequently sailed past the islets, which are actually called 'Soledad Rocks'. They're almost a mile across and show with a height of 20 feet. I must say, I do like my chart - #2324 Cape San Lucas to San Diego Bay, with the Gulf of California. It was beautifully engraved in 1879 and although it's a British Admiralty chart, it was created using "chiefly" data from the surveys of Commander Dewey and the officers of the USS Narragansett, 1873-1875. I guess Captain Cook didn't have time for it when he came through 100 years before.

The position for Soledad Rocks given by Morning Wind agrees with the Admiralty chart as to latitude, 31û 32.8N, but #2324 indicates a longitude of 116û 43.0W.

So, you might add Admiralty charts to your solutions!

Nick Barran
Osprey, Santa Cruz 40
Currently still in San Francisco

#18022 DOES INCLUDE THE ROCKS

I noted Joe Lewis' timely November issue warning about an uncharted rocky islet off Punta Santo Tomas. Hopefully the warning will save someone's life and/or boat.

To satisfy my curiosity, I pulled out my copy of NOAA #18022, San Diego to San Francisco, to see if the "rocky islet" was plotted on it. At almost exactly the position indicated in Lewis' letter, the chart showed Rocas Soledad (lonely rocks). It goes without saying that Lewis could not have been using #18022 to chart his course from Cabo to San Diego - even though the chart does include the area of Punta Santo Tomas.

I enjoy reading Latitude each month from cover to cover. Keep up the good work. Having been a Coast Guard officer in the early '60s as well as a boat owner for many years, I read with interest the many articles relative to getting the United States Coast Guard to return to 'user friendly' status. After all, if the IRS can become user friendly, perhaps the Coast Guard can too.

Steve Wilson
Force Majeure
Berkeley

DRAIN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA DRY

As a lifelong Southern Californian, I was shocked to learn that the staff at Latitude does not know where the water goes at low tide. SoCal has had a secret desalinization project in place for years. I believe it was put in place during the first Brown administration - before his sons Jerry and Willie came to power.

As I have been told, the plan was to drain Northern California dry and then start on the oceans. Gotta run, I hear the black helicopters coming.

Stefan Svilich
Southern California

Stefan - Very amusing. Yet we still haven't gotten a good explanation as to where the water goes or why it's always high tide at noon in Tahiti.

A LOOK AT THE OFFICIAL MINDSET

I read with great interest the October Sightings report of your conversation with Captain Hall, the new Coast Guard Group Commander for San Francisco. As a means of increasing communication - and understanding - perhaps a monthly column could be added to your already great magazine by Captain Hall - or another Coastie - with information germaine to boaters and boat safety in the Bay Area.

Up here in the Northwest, 48¡ North has such a column that explains the Rules of the Road, the Vessel Traffic System's handling of regattas, and so forth. It's is definitely not 'preachy', has always been interesting to read, and gives the boating public a look into the official mindset - and the reasons behind what sometimes appear to be arbitrary regulations.

It's also done a great deal for the public image of our local boating officialdom.

Rob Jackson
Joyeux
Seattle Area

Rob - We think that's a pretty interesting suggestion - and we're sure Capt. Hall would also. We'll look into it.

DIDN'T KNOW PROPER INJURY ETIQUETTE

I'm writing in regard to the commentary in Sightings about the collision between the two vessels off of Angel Island on August 9, 1997. I'm the crewman who was injured in the collision.

Jean Rudy, a passerby and photographer, was quoted in Sightings as saying that those in the motorboat hid their faces when she attempted to photograph them. The Sightings editor added that he couldn't blame them.

I would like to offer my profound apologies to Jean Rudy and Sightings, for you see, I'd never been injured in an accident before and I did not know the proper etiquette. I received a gash in the middle of my forehead which severed muscles and exposed the skull. Instead of posing for Ms. Rudy, I selfishly held my hand to my forehead, covering my face.

The next time that I'm injured in an accident, I'll know better that the prime consideration shouldn't be treatment of the injury, but the onlookers. I have learned my lesson and I promise to be a good victim in the future.

Hey, Jean Rudy! Hey, Sightings! Let's do the paparazzi!

Name Withheld By Request
Northern California

N.W.B.R. - Forget the paparazzi, dear friend, let's do truth.

Jean Rudy was quoted as saying you "covered" your faces; you said your were "covering" your face. Same verb, different tense. Rudy never said you "hid" your face, so have the decency to not put falsely incriminating words in someone else's mouth.

As for the accusation that Latitude added that the motorboat occupants 'couldn't be blamed for covering their faces', your head injury seems to have adversely affected your reading comprehension. We never used the word 'blame', and we made no comment whatsoever on the covering of faces. We did, however, mention that we'd "never wish accidents like this on anyone".

But since you're taking the posture of a big victim, perhaps you can explain what part you played in trying to prevent the 17-foot Bayliner in which you were riding, from - on a clear afternoon, in the middle of the Bay - slamming into the side of a nearly stationary 44-foot sailboat. Slammng it with such force that it caused the sailboat's mast to tumble and the smashed up powerboat to sink within minutes. Slamming into it with such force that the traumatized adults and children never want to see a boat again.

In our opinion, the real "lesson" to be learned from such accidents is not how to act after they've happened, but how to prevent them from happening in the future. Your silence in this regard is deafening - particularly since a lot of mariners are wondering what, if anything, you did to prevent the Bayliner from being used to recklessly endanger the lives of others.

OUR FIRST TIME AROUND THE CLOCK

Just a quick 'Thanks' to the Grand Poobah - aka the Wanderer - for the effort he and the others put into the Baja Ha-Ha IV project. We really had a great time and learned a lot about offshore sailing as this was our first time sailing around the clock! And our autopilot went out the first night - whew!

Anyway, great job - and we look forward to being participants in the Baja Ha-Ha V next year.

Mike Alexander
(Crew)
Ragtime Band

Mike - On behalf of Andy Turpin and Doša de Majorca - the other two major forces behind the Ha-Ha - we thank you and all the others for your kind remarks. The Grand Poobah didn't hear one case of whining - despite the fact that unforeseen circumstances prevented he and the race committee boat from reaching Turtle Bay until 10 minutes before the start of the second leg. We think the fleet showed tremendous class by being able to trick or treat and hold a great beach party at Turtle Bay without the Poobah's assistance. You're the ones! We'll see you next year, hopefully with better winds.

THE MACGREGOR 26 IS NOT A SAILBOAT

I used to own a MacGregor 25 with a cast iron swing keel. I can say without a doubt that she was a fun, fast and safe boat. My opinion is somewhat warped, however, by the fact that I had previously owned a Hobie 14.

Having said that, it's my opinion that the MacGregor 26X - which when equipped with a large outboard can hit 25 knots - is not a sailboat but a powerboat with a stick for show and tell. I don't know how many of these water-ballasted boats they've sold, but to me it would be scary to trust it in anything over 10 knots.

Does anyone know if they are actually sailed, or do they just sit because the owners are disillusioned?

There is a reason boats have keels that are made heavy and kept low. There is a reason windage is kept to a minimum. And by the way, I feel the same way about the water-ballasted boats made by Catalina and Hunter. I'm definitely nuts - but not committable.

Andy Johnson
Planet Earth

Andy - The MacGregor 26X isn't exactly our kind of boat, either, but here's some things you might find interesting:

A couple of years ago, Roger MacGregor, who had been building sailboats for more than 30 years, destroyed the molds for all his previous designs except for the MacGregor 65. Despite continued international demand for the 65, he cleared the factory floor to begin production on only one boat, the MacGregor 26X that had been unproven in the marketplace.

Since March of '95, MacGregor has sold over 1,800 of the 26Xs, many of them to England, France, South America, and Asia. In other words, the 26X is selling at about five times the pace the swing keel 25s did. The only reason MacGregor hasn't sold more is that the factory is at capacity at five boats a day, which means all the dealers are on allotment. Gene Arena, the Bay Area MacGregor dealer, is limited to 48 boats a year at his two locations.

Arena admits that the 26X, which weighs 30% more and has many more comforts, doesn't sail to weather as well as the swing keel 25 - but sails almost as well on all other points of sail. "The thing to remember is that the 26X is a family do-all trailerable boat that's ideal for sailing, camping, and motoring," says Arena. "Last month we tested the boat on the Bay with a 40-hp outboard and six gallons of gas. At a cruising speed of 4,000 rpm, she covered 50 miles in less than four hours before the tank ran dry. That's an average of close to 13 mph. With a Honda 50 four-stroke, we've been able to hit a top speed of 24 knots."

When it comes to stability, Arena claims that the water-ballasted 26 - which also has a centerboard - actually has more stability than do the swing-keel 25s. If you give him a call, he'll tell you all about how the double-hull construction makes the water ballast work so well.

While Arena admits that the 26X's relatively light weight and multi-function design means she's intended for protected waters, it still hasn't stopped some owners from taking their 26Xs out to the Farallones. Then there's Michael Dunn of Carson City. He's in the process of a mind-boggling two-year adventure that will take him and his 26X Zeno's Arrow up to the Arctic Circle, then through the heart of North and South America to - we can't believe it either - Cape Horn. At last word, he'd apparently made it from the Pacific Northwest to the Arctic Circle. But there hasn't been any recent news on his website at: http://www.planetwave.com.

The MacGregor 26X: it's not for us, but obviously it suits many other people just fine.

MOST OF ALL THE NEW FRIENDSHIPS THAT BLOSSOMED

Just returned from Cabo last night and wanted to let you and your staff know how much we enjoyed ourselves before, during and after the Baja Ha-Ha. Your low-key approach in San Diego carried over and set the tone for the entire event. Even the unfortunate events that took place in Bahia Santa Maria were handled in a calm and assuring manner which was appreciated throughout the fleet.

The Ha-Ha concept is right on the mark. As first time cruisers we were exposed to experienced sailors as well as those like us that are just beginning to find out what itÕs like. It gave us a chance to learn the ropes the easy way rather than going off by ourselves to face a very steep learning curve. Most of all I appreciated the new friendships that blossomed over the two weeks. I've read in many back issues about cruising friends running into each other at various spots around the world and how special those encounters can be. Now I know first hand what those friendships mean and for that and so much more, I again say thanks.

I'm back in Minden, NV now waiting and working until I can rejoin the boat in P.V. in January, but when I close my eyes I'm sure the sound I hear in my head is "Boomtown Trader. . . this is Party Animal."

Thanks again.
John Cressaty
aka 'Bearded Mermaid'
Reverie, Dufour 45

John - Many thanks on behalf of Baja Ha-Ha, Inc., which puts on the Ha-Ha, and all the event's sponsors: Almar Marinas, Barnett Yacht Insurance, Bob RiceÕs Weather Window, Corona Beer, Data Rescue Services, Diesel Fuel Filtering, Downwind Marine, H.F. Radio On Board, Island Girl Products, Jack Martin & Associates, Larsen Sails, Latitude 38, Mail Call, Modern Sailing Academy, UK Sailmakers, Waypoint, The Watermaker Store, West Marine Products and Yachtfinders/Windseakers.

A CHEAP SHOT

As part of enjoying the August issue, I read The Navy Saved My Life article by Charles Warner. But I was disappointed by your postscript, which I felt twisted something that had been positive into a negative. You could have straightened the record in some other fashion - such as, "We're glad the Navy came to your rescue. By the way, this should serve as a reminder that all mariners are required by law to come to the aid of mariners in distress."

Despite that cheap shot, I read your magazine with pleasure and find it useful and entertaining.

Bernard M. Portet
Napa

Bernard - We must have expressed ourselves poorly because it was not our intent to slam the U.S. Navy. Our comment was merely a reaction to Warner's statement that, "I doubt the (rescue) operation was part of the ship's official mission."

LOOKING FOR A WILDERNESS MOLD

I'm searching for the rudder mold to increase the rudder size on my Wilderness 21. I know such a mold existed in the early '80s. If anyone out there knows who might have it now, I'd appreciate a call at (530) 253-3889 or a letter to 705-475 Indians Rd., Janesville, CA, 94116-9659.

Ken Kane
Janesville

Ken - You know you're getting on when you remember that Amy Boyer - then 20 years old - raced her Wilderness 21 in the Mini-Transat from England to the Canary Islands to Antigua, and the following year to a high placing in the Singlehanded TransPac.

HAVANA DAYDREAMING

I hope you can help us. My wife and I are interested in doing the Havana Cup next year, but so far I've struck out trying to get any information. Ocean Racing Ventures, Inc., who sponsored the last one, is no longer at their mailing address, their phone is disconnected, and directory assistance has no listing for anyone quoted in the story and/or associated with the organization.

Can you help us?

Rod Hooper
Cyberspace

Rod - All we can tell you is that Ocean Adventure's last address was Box 2022, Tampa, Florida 33601 and that their badly outdated website is at pw2.netcom.com/~icuncuba/orv.html.

This year's Havana Cup - in which there were about 120 entries and nearly 500 sailors - was held in late May, so there's still a chance that another can be scheduled for May of '98. Based on our cruise to Cuba, we'd highly recommend participation in such an event, although we'd be sure to cruise other parts of that huge island.

By the way, in mid-November about 40 boats and 200 sailors competed in the Key West to Veradero (Cuba) Regatta. It's all legal, of course, as long as nobody spends any money. Veradero is about 80 miles east of Havana, and is Cuba's version of Waikiki or Miami Beach, lined with high-rise hotels for foreign visitors only.

MAYBE NOT SUCH A GOOD IDEA THIS YEAR

Normally I like Latitude's 'sailing directions' for the winter in Mexico: go straight to Zihuatanejo. But maybe it's not as good an idea this El Niño year. Maybe finding cruising holes further north would be better advised.

By the way, anyone who likes can look up the semi-official Tahiti Cup page at www.slip.net/~cjwarren/tahiti.html.

Charles and Johanna Warren

San Francisco

Charles & Johanna - Since Hurricane Ricky - only the third November hurricane in the Eastern Pacific in the last 50 years - went ashore not far from Zihuatanejo in the first week of November, we'd have to agree with you. But we still plan on being in Z-town for Christmas. On the other hand, based on what happened in the last big El Niño year, we'd be hesitant to venture across the Pacific to French Polynesia before April.

As for your semi-official Tahiti Cup page, it gives most of the pertinent information: 1) That the course distance from San Francisco to Tahiti is 3,600 nautical miles; 2) That the course takes the fleet through the coastal northwesterlies, the northeast trades, the tricky ITCZ, and then the southeast trades; 3) that Mariner won the first Tahiti Race in 1925 in 20 days, 11 hours; 4) That Yukon Jack, a Santa Cruz 50, finished the '95 Tahiti Race in 19 days and 3 hours; and 5) That the Santa Cruz 70 Kathmandu did it in '94 in 14 days, 21 hours, averaging nearly 10 knots for the duration.

"Let's do the Tahiti Race again in May of '99," writes Warren. The Wanderer thinks this is a splendid idea, as it would leave the fleet in an ideal position to continue on to New Zealand for the America's Cup and Australia for the Olympics. Call Keith Buck at (510) 837-9424 for Tahiti Race information.

THE 'ME FIRST' ATTITUDE

I'm writing in response to John Hodgson's November letter concerning COLREGS. I feel Latitude's editorial comment was right on! You described exactly what all skippers should do when they sight a large ship; begin to figure out how they're going to stay out of the ship's way.

The attitude of Hodgson - to hold course whenever he feels he's in the right - is all too common with the Southern California mariner. The attitude surely comes from their driving habits on the freeways. It's called the 'Me First' attitude and has become prevalent in this part of the state.

P.S. I'm in need of some information on cruising with a cat and hope your readers might help. What if anything can be done about a cat getting seasick, and would it be wrong to de-claw a cat?

Steve Hersey
SeaScape
San Diego

Steve - We don't want to be too critical of Hodgson because he has a legitimate point: once you get into a 'situation' with another vessel, you must follow the Rules of the Road or chaos will ensue.

Cats are terrific cruising companions. When they get sick, they don't stay sick for long. As for de-clawing your cat, we'll leave that question to those more familiar with the pros and cons.

A GENUINE SHOW OF AFFECTION

I do not cruise Mexico, but happened to read the small article about Philomena Garcia. She apparently not only provided a good and valuable service to those who frequented her restaurant in Melaque, but from the tone of the notice - and the fact that she phoned Latitude - became a personal friend to you and undoubtably many others in the boating world.

Judging from her photo, Phil is a young woman, yet has undergone her fifth "complicated" operation. Twenty thousand dollars will not go far in a Houston hospital. I would suggest a genuine show of affection, friendship and concern by establishing a medical fund to help defray her expenses.

R. Hart
(Not A Boatowner)

Readers - We received the following letter from Phil on November 12:

"I'm presently in Southern California. I've been to Houston where I had five different operations, but am still having problems. So it seems that medically there is little hope - but mentally I am feeling great and would love to get back with work again one day if God wants. But now I'd like to change the subject:

"I want cruisers to know there is help for them in Melaque at Terraza Kosonoy, which is the third palapa from the free beach trailer park next to my old restaurant, Los Pelicanos. Doša Kosonoy owns Terraza Kosonoy and her family belongs to the fishing fleet. They know lots about engines and where parts and mechanics can be found. They can also help with electrical and refrigeration problems. Gerrado speaks English perfectly and would be a great help. Terraza Kosonoy has ice, water, showers, cold beer, soda, and good food. They'll be running the cruisers' net each morning on Channel 68.

"My prayers and thoughts are with all the cruisers - may you all have fair winds and following seas."

Phil and Trini's many friends should know that she most recently wrote from 8081 Larson Ave, #2, Garden Grove, CA 92844. We're certain she could use financial assistance - but more than anything would love to hear from her many cruising friends.

BAJA'S DUMBEST CRIMINAL

The cruisers here in Puerto Escondido, Baja, are hoping you will print the following. Our intent is to show that we don't put up with this kind of activity from anyone, and that we stick together as cruisers. Going to the local authorities isn't easy as they don't like to get involved with gringo problems.

Stealing gear off another cruiser's boat is not the brightest thing to do in the first place, but manufacturing proof that you stole it is just plain stupid. In any event, here's the story:

Last summer a 55-lb Delta anchor and a 44-lb Bruce anchor disappeared off the bows of two different boats here in Puerto Escondido. These are the only known thefts from boats in this harbor in many years. We cruisers all had our suspicions about the culprit, but no proof. Our suspect is a loner who doesn't have any friends and hardly gets off his boat. When he was here last summer, he anchored with a large Danforth that he borrowed.

Upon this suspect's return this summer, he dropped a 55-lb Delta! He bragged about what a good anchor it is - and mentioned that he had a 44-lb Bruce as a back-up. For his 30-foot boat! Such an overkill in anchors really got the cruisers in the harbor buzzing.

We decided to confront the suspect about his possession of the two anchors, and just about everyone in the harbor converged on his boat at the same time. Our suspect admitted that he had a 55-lb Delta on the bottom and also a 44-lb Bruce. He stated that he bought them new a few years ago - and conveniently produced receipts for both.

The receipt for the Bruce was a hand-written order form used by West Marine; it was not a purchase receipt or a cash register receipt. And what about the Delta? He produced a 'snap out' form receipt for membership renewal from Boat/U.S. On the second line of the carbon copy form - and in a completely different handwriting - was "(1) 55-lb Delta anchor $495.00." It was dated 1995. What, no sales tax added? No total at the bottom? No cash register receipt stapled to it?

In any event, this is where the guy really messed up. Boat/U.S. tracks all their member purchases by computer. Since our suspect renewed his membership the day he supposedly bought the Delta anchor, it should be on record. Thanks to the cooperation of Boat/US, they confirmed that our suspicious character had never bought an anchor from them, and had only made very small purchases. The only 55-lb Delta anchors they sold from the San Diego store were to a wholesale account. Whoops!

The matter is now in the hands of the local authorities, and we are waiting for the wheels of justice to turn. Without this receipt, we would have had nothing to go on. To top it off, this guy feels the heat coming down and boogies out of the harbor at 0230 - only to return 26 hours later with a raised waterline and no Delta or Bruce anchor. Hmmmm, it's seems there's treasure out near them there islands!

Because some of us have been threatened by the suspect, we prefer that you don't publish the names of our boats.

Skippers from 11 cruising boats
who have witnessed the above events
Puerto Escondido

Skippers - Situations such as yours ought to be taught in high school civics classes, for they raise great issues.

The way we see it, you cruisers are the only real law in Puerto Escondido. If you'd all gotten together and taken the anchors back by force, there wouldn't have been anything the alleged suspect could have done - or anything the local authorities would have done.

We presume you didn't take the anchors back because: 1) You only had circumstantial evidence that the suspect took them, and 2) Because as recent members of American society, you're accustomed to having the government do the 'dirty work' of justice for you. The truth of the matter is that it's emotionally very hard for civilized people to be unkind to even very nasty people - which is why so many convicted thieves, rapists, murderers and other criminals usually get off with little more than a slap on the wrist. And is why genuine bums and derelicts are forever allowed to piss, shit, and harass people on many of America's most prestigious streets. Your suspect may be 'Baja's Dumbest Criminal', but we predict he won't be convicted of the crime you're convinced he committed.

But how times have changed in Baja! When we first cruised down in the '70s, it was still a true frontier and justice was as crude as it was swift. If somebody stole a car, the federales would track him down, shoot him, and bury him. Then they'd have lunch.

SEA FEVER

While the term 'tall ship' is indeed often misused, I have to take exception to your characterization, in the November Sightings, "as one of those danged coined things that some reporter came up with and won't go away."

As 'sailors of merit', you must surely be familiar with the poem Sea Fever by John Masefield, who sailed on square-riggers. I refer specifically to the lines, "And all I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by."

Greg
Clew-less in Sunnyvale

Greg - And you should take exception, as it was a foolish blunder on the part of the editorial staff. Our regrets.

TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK

I have a time-bomb ticking at the nav station of my Mason 44 - it's a model GXL1100 GPS by Apelco. You may hear the same ticking sound in your boat if you own this particular GPS - or any of a number of other Raytheon Electronics' GPS products using a JRC core manufactured prior to December 1996. The others include the Raytheon RayStar 100 and RayStar 108, Apelco 180 and Autohelm GPS.

The 'detonation' is set to go off May 2005, but there won't be an actual explosion. Rather, time to first fix (TTFF) will increase from about a minute to anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. In other words, a 'cold restart' each and every time the unit is switched on.

In their letter to me, Raytheon passed along JRC's claim that only seven to 12 minutes will be necessary to TTFF - but the manual cites 20 to 30 minutes as typical. I tested my unit by entering '00' when prompted to enter the year, but I gave up after waiting 20 minutes.

What's behind this is a variation of the same problem that is plaguing the data processing community - the 'year 2000 rollover effect'. While there has been little discussion about the implication of the year 2000 effect on the programs embedded in our marine electronics, it's now clear that we may be in for some surprises.

Perhaps 1997 may seem a wee bit early to get excited about this, but I just purchased the unit last year at Boat/U.S. prior to our six-month cruise in Mexico. I doubt very seriously if I would have purchased it if the box had been clearly marked "will not operate after May 2005." After all, would you buy a new TV or stereo whose package carried the same notice?

Raytheon Electronics, of course, has been aware of this problem for some time, but their product support manager Phillip Gaynor doesn't share my concern about waiting up to a half hour for a first fix. I can imagine some dicey scenarios that might well prove lethal to anyone unaware of this problem while relying on this product for navigation just a few years from now. Apparently Mr. Gaynor has yet to do any cruising.

I've enclosed copies of correspondence received from Raytheon that serve as the basis for this letter. Perhaps the most interesting is the internal memo by John P. Stohrer in which he quotes JRC's assumption that there will be no currently sold units in operation after September 2008. Maybe that means that there is a time-bomb in the time bomb itself.

This TTFF issue obviously does not pose an immediate problem to the majority of cruisers, but there are certainly some who are either 'about to do it' or 'already doing it' that might benefit from an alert - especially if their plans call for continuous cruising well into the next century.

John Rainey
Mariposa, Mason 44
Huntington Beach

John - Some may disagree with us, but we think the time-bomb analogy is a little over the top. For one thing, GPS units are now so inexpensive that we assume most serious cruisers will carry at least two. So if eight years from now one of them has to warm up for seven to 12 minutes - or even 30 minutes - while the other GPS does the job, what's the big deal?

Besides, in terms of modern electronics, 2005 is an eternity from now. Eight years ago a GPS was large in size and price; now they're not only tiny and inexpensive, but some models will send and receive e-mail. If the past is any indication of the future, we expect our Year 2000 model GPS to give accurate positions, automatically brew the morning coffee, download the New York Times, make up our bunk, give us a close shave and function as an effective marital aid.

In any event, here's what Raytheon has to say in response:

GPS In The Year 2000

There has been a lot of discussion lately regarding the effects of the calendar year 2000 on GPS and computer systems. Here are some of the truths about the Year 2000.

The satellites in the GPS umbrella send various information to GPS receivers - including a 10-bit field for weeks. The system does not utilize month, day, and year, but uses weeks for date calculation. The maximum number of weeks allowable in this binary field is 1024 (or about 19.5 years). The effective software starting date for GPS was January 1980.

On August 21, 1999, that 10-bit field will reset to 0 and that piece of data will be sent to GPS receivers. Those receivers which are not compensated for with software, will calculate the date to be January of 1980. Naturally, all almanac data in memory will be incorrect and every fix will be from a 'cold start' condition when powered up.

The latest GPS units produced by Raytheon Marine - the Raytheon RayStar 105 and 112, the Apelco 182, 182XT, GPSII and GPS6200 and the Autohelm ST 50 GPS manufactured after December 1996 - house a GPS core which automatically compensates for this anomaly. (When the register resets to 0, the software adds 1024 weeks.)

The Raytheon RayStar lOO and RayStar 108; Apelco GXL1100, 180 and Autohelm GPS units manufactured prior to December 1996 - will have no problem with almanac update until the end of April 2005. After May of 2005, a manual cold start will be required and Time Till First Fix (TTFF) will be seven to 12 minutes.

In conclusion, if you have a GPS sensor manufactured by Raytheon Electronics you will be unaffected by the change of the calendar in 2000, and you will be good until the middle of 2005 with early versions of Raytheon, Apelco and Autohelm GPS units. For new Raytheon and Apelco GPS units purchased after August 1996, and Autohelm units purchased after December 1996, manual cold starts will not be necessary until 2020.

If you have any questions we would be happy to explain this further, just send us your question from our home page 'Ask the Experts' form: www.raymarine.com.

A PORT PILOT WHO DOESN'T MAKE $150K

I'm writing in response to your September Sightings on how poorly many cruise ship workers are paid. You repeated the story from the Wall Street Journal that Pavel Lukanova, a bartender aboard the Carnival Cruise Line ship Holiday, only gets paid $1.50 a day. Unfortunately, most foreign flag ships that employ Third World crewmembers are able to get away with this. This is a fact of life, albeit a sad one. But I have no doubt that American ship companies, if they could get away with it, would pay their crews $1.50/day, too. Unions are one of the reasons they can't.

However, the last paragraph of your Sightings is something that I take great exception to. Yes, there are longshoremen who may make $90,000 a year and port crane operators who may make $120,000 a year, but I'm a port pilot - and I don't make $150,000 a year. But there are port pilots in other parts of the world that make up to $270,000 a year! Los Angeles is the second busiest port in the nation, but her pilots are among the lowest paid.

If you want to judge us against the average American worker, obviously we're well-compensated professionals. But all we're looking for is to be compensated the way other people in our industry are compensated. To insinuate that we're extortionists - "Or maybe just because they're in an ideal position to extort more" - is nothing short of libelous slander. Where do you get off editorializing on the wages of a cruise ship bartender versus the wages of skilled professionals?

Capt. Frank Lukowski
Los Angeles Port Pilot (currently on strike)

Capt. - Here's the problem with "being compensated the way other people in our industry are compensated": Some of the 'other people' get outrageous compensation. Sometimes they get it because some politician - we're not mentioning Mayor Willie Brown by name - overindulges union workers as a way of buying votes and support. Others get overcompensated because - and please don't play dumb - they're in a position to extort it, such as in the notorious ports of Japan.

The 'transit professionals' at BART, for example, didn't get a raise because furious commuters thought they deserved it, but rather because commuters couldn't take any further disruption of their lives. If BART workers got paid what most commuters think they deserved, they'd have gotten a pay cut. In any event, the "being compensated the way others in the industry are" argument is usually bogus.

You might think we're anti-union, but we're not. In fact, we think there needs to be many more unions in places where workers truly bust their asses and still don't make a living wage. Further, we detest any individual who profits billions on the backs of people who get paid $1.50/day. That's bullshit and is the reason why we avoid products from companies like Nike.

On the other hand, we - like the majority of Americans - are fed up with unions whose primary purpose is to make the workplace as slow, inefficient, and expensive as possible. Unions who insure that no matter how incompetent, lazy, stupid, unreliable and irresponsible a worker is, he or she can't possible be fired.

Our singular union moment happened about 15 years ago, when a Golden Gate Transit driver got drunk, drove crazily, and refused to let anybody off the bus until he got to the bus barn in Novato. When the kidnapped passengers finally got off the bus, they screamed at the driver that he was going to get his ass fired. So the drunk driver taunted his victims by saying, "They can't fire me, I'm in the union." And sure enough, he couldn't be fired.

A fair wage for a good day's work. That's not $1.50/day for a guy working on a cruise ship - but neither is it $90,000 a year for a clerk in a monopoly labor situation. We need more unions - but we need more replacement workers, too.

P.S. "Libelous slander" - what a concept! Both libel and slander involve forms of defamation; libel is when you write it, slander is when you say it. By definition, opinions can't be libelous or slanderous.

THE SCHOONER TAMARIT

An old friend living in Germany is showing symptoms of advanced nostalgia. He has asked me to try to track down the destiny of a boat on which he crewed in Monterey in the early '60s. Her named was Tamarit, and she was a marconi-rigged staysail schooner then preparing for a Pacific cruise.

Sympathetic parties might contact Dean Spinanger at dspinanger@ifw.uni-kiel-de.

George Aid
Berkeley

SHE WAS A CLASSIC BACK IN THE '50s

I was wondering if it would be possible to find out if my family's yacht is still in existence. She was a 74-footer named Rainbow that slept 10 when we owned her in the '50s. She was very special.

My dad sold her in '53 or '54 to an attorney named Charles Spivak, who renamed her Elysion. I heard she was the pace boat in some type of sailboat race, but can't confirm it.

I would really appreciate any help you might be able to give me.

Jeannine Seely
Redding

Jeannine - It would sure help if you knew who designed her, who built her, and what rig she carried. Most large boats have done a TransPac at some time in their careers, but there's no Rainbow or Elysion in the records.

You might also try R.C. Keefe at the St. Francis YC. As far as we know, he knows about more of the grand old yachts than anyone.

By the way, are you sure her new name was Elysion as opposed to Elysian? The former means nothing to us, while the latter was a mythical land at the westernmost edge of the world where the great heroes were taken and made immortal. Worry and disease were unknown at Elysian Fields, where the heroes were free to pursue their favorite activities. The mythical place is not, of course, to be confused with the district of the same name in Los Angeles.

RELIANT AND OFFSHORE 40s

I'm in the process of putting out a newsletter for owners of Rhodes Reliants and Offshore 40s. I've heard that about a year ago you had an article about how an Offshore 40 survived the big storm near Tonga. I would very much appreciate it if you could send a copy of the article - or even post it on your web site. It would be great if owners of sisterships could read about this survivor's account.

Ben Stavis
bstavis@vm.temple.edu
Bala Cynwyd, PA

Ben - The vessel in question was the Offshore 40 Mary T, and the blow in question was the Queen's Birthday Storm. Conditions were so bad that for awhile it looked like the crew would have to abandon the boat. After making repairs, however, they were able to safely ride out one of the nastiest storms in recent cruising history.

If you knew when the article ran, we could provide you with a copy. We plan on getting our archives in order, but we wouldn't hold our breath.

LOOKING FOR CHICKEN LIPS

On orders from my wife, I'm shopping for 'the best made brand new outboard motor'. If I don't get it, she's never going to go out on our boat again. A new outboard opens up some interesting possibilities - however, I do want a reliable motor for a change.

So far, I haven't been able to get a straight answer from anyone about the new legislation affecting two and four-stroke outboards. Are two-strokes going to be outlawed on a certain date, and if so, what date? Will the old ones be allowed to disappear by attrition? Nobody seems to know, but I sure don't want to spend a lot of money to buy a new outboard - and then have to junk it in a couple of years.

I would prefer to buy a four-stroke motor, but it seems that I'm looking for 'chicken lips'. I think the manufacturers have just one four-stroke that they take to boat shows, because these four-strokes don't seem to exist anywhere else. For example, I've been to four or five Honda dealers. "Duh, dude," they tell me, we only sell gnarly bikes, so go to a boat store, dude." So where is one to get parts and service? The manufacturers are out to lunch big time on this one.

John Wyer
Vago
San Clemente

John - Inspired by your letter, we picked up a recent copy of Latitude and called the first outfit advertising outboards - which happened to be the Outboard Motor Shop in Alameda. We spoke to Craig Jacobson, who seemed to have all the answers to your questions.

Jacobson explained that according to the new legislation, which is now in effect, outboard manufacturers have to reduce the total pollution from their outboards by 8.3% each year through the year 2007. Because the bigger outboards pollute more than small outboards, many manufacturers are attempting to comply by adding fuel injected - and thus cleaner burning - large outboards to their lines and/or by introducing new four-stroke models.

Like many people, we were under the assumption that Honda has been the only company that's been making low horsepower four-strokes. Jacobson corrected us, explaining that Johnson has been making small four-strokes for nearly a decade. "We've got four-strokes in 8 hp, 10 hp, and 15 hp on the floor and for sale today," he told us.

"What are you going to use the outboard for?" Jacobson inquired when we asked if he'd buy a two or four-stroke version of a 10 hp outboard. "If you're going to be putting the outboard on and off a dinghy, the two-stroke has the advantage of being much lighter. A 10 hp Johnson two-stroke, for example, weighs 73 pounds while the four-stroke weighs 99 pounds. The two-stroke also requires less maintenance and costs about 25% less. "The advantage of the four-stroke is that it pollutes less, burns a lot less fuel, is quieter, and doesn't smoke."

Since you're in the Southern part of the state, we also called Tradewinds in Huntington Beach, a dealer in your neck of the woods. The salesman told us that Yamaha makes a 9.9 - and has made it for 12 years. Yamaha also offers 15 and 25 hp outboards in both two-stroke and four-stroke models. In each case, the four-strokes cost about $300 more and weigh about 25 pounds more. "I'd buy a four-stroke if I had davits to lift my dink out of the water, but I'd buy a two-stroke if I had to lift the outboard myself."

See this month's Sightings to learn whether Latitude's new outboard is a two-stroke or four-stroke.


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