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DENHAM NEEDS TO KISS FATE ON THE LIPS
Latitude's advice - take an experienced crew or truck the boat - to novice ocean sailor Mike Denham on how he and his lady should get their boat south would bring shame to him forever. So would having him work up to the passage by making short jaunts along the coast of Washington and Vancouver Island 'bunny slopes'.
In 1947, 14 miles from Cape Flattery, 10 of us aboard the Lightship Swiftsure watched the waves - after the wind had died - take out the Neah Bay breakwater. Come that windless midnight, a wave rolled over the lightship - which had maybe 20 feet of freeboard. I was on watch.
Denham should make the emotional passage without his lover/wife as the boat and sailing are his choices not hers. His lover/wife should await him in the Bay Area. If Denham has to endure terror on the passage, his lady will never know, and that's how it should be.
If Denham were going to take his boat the other way - north from San Francisco to Seattle, against the wind and current - I would agree with Latitude that he should take experienced crew or have the boat trucked.
As I'm a Seattle boy, I've sailed south five times. In '54 it was aboard Wanderer II, an engineless gaff topsail cutter, with skipper Bob Jones. I was an apprentice sailmaker. The Coast Guard guys shook their heads as they towed us out of Neah Bay; eventually they cast us off near Tatoosh Island.
Prior to leaving, Jones and I talked to a fireman and a postman who had previously sailed south with a 30-ft Block Island gaff schooner on what was to be the start of a circumnavigation. It was blowing 40 knots when they got off the Columbia River, so they decided to seek shelter at Astoria. The Coast Guard lookout at Cape Disappointment not only saw them approaching, he watched them and their Block Island schooner tumble end over end. The Coasties rescued the fireman and the postman, then towed their yacht into Astoria. It was then we learned that the Columbia River bar was capable of 50 foot waves.
At the time, Jones and I knew as much about sailing as Denham probably does now. We sailed 50 miles offshore to bluewater - and beyond the fog - before we turned left. Before long, wave after wave climbed the stern and swept the length of the little cutter. Wanderer II had no thru hulls, but she had a bilge pump - a sauce pan secured with a line to the two foot by four foot cockpit. Most of the time you had to hunch down with the tiller over your shoulder to avoid the effects of the waves. But if you wanted to bail, you had no choice but to sit up.
It was nasty out there, but the eerie composure of the gooney birds told us that some living thing thought the ocean was an all right place to live. As for myself, I vomited, stood my watch, got soaked, and vomited again. I did this day after day. At night we set the trysail and storm staysail and hove to. Jones got the leeward bunk because he was the skipper. We had never heard of lee cloths. At least once a night I was tossed across the cabin to land atop the skipper.
Like first time sex or marriage, we were scared and didn't know what was 'normal'. Jones read aloud from Hiscock to determine what to do. It made sense, as Wanderer II had been one of the Hiscock's boats. I read from the Earl of Lonsdale, as that was my choice on gaff rig. While we took comfort from the books, we tried all their remedies without success. We were two wet and frightened 26-year-olds. Jones tried to shoot the sun, but it was obscured. I vomited, stood my watch, and learned a lesson: before a wave can go under you, it must lift you. I also learned that a German beer stein with a lid is a great way to keep saltwater out of your lunch.
After 12 days at sea, Jones said he saw five ships in the Gulf of Farallones to port.
"Jones," I replied, "those are rocks."
"I have bad eyesight," he responded.
Thirteen days after departing Neah Bay, we tied up at the St. Francis YC. When we finally got on the dock, we fell to our knees and - even though the dock was still - held on tight. The yacht club was magnificent, letting us use their showers and giving us paper slippers and luxurious white towels.
The way I see it, Denham should buy life and yacht insurance with $200 deductibles. Then he should gut the boat - a light boat is fast and buoyant - and ship all the extra gear south. He should then pick three strangers - not friends - his age to be crew. For provisions, he'll need a whole cooked ham and turkey, 10 loaves of unsliced bread, 10 days worth of water, and five days worth of fuel. Naturally the boat should be equipped to Coast Guard requirements. Then he and his crew should set sail.
Denham either arrives at San Francisco Bay in 10 days or he doesn't. If he dies trying to sail south, his death would be acceptable. If his wife or lover were to die making such a trip, it would not be acceptable. Sailing is Mike's dream and the trip south from Seattle is his apprenticeship.
When Denham arrives, California will welcome him. So will the spirit of Robinson Jeffers, who wrote: "He who has kissed Fate on the lips, and turned down the lamp, must lie in bed with her."
Donald Goring, Sailmaker
Donald - You've become such a softie! What about flogging the crew until their morale improves? And holystoning the fiberglass decks?
POEM FOR PUBLICATION
I'd like to submit the enclosed poem for publication. Thanks in advance for your consideration.
Howard A. Raphael
Howard - We feel bad for having to disappoint you and all the other poets, but verse leaves us cold. The closest thing we'll even begin to consider is poetry's bad seed cousin, the bawdy limerick. To show you what great sports we are, we promise we'll publish the first limerick that manages to cleverly incorporate most of the following: Sausalito, two sailing lasses, drippy fog, an Express 37 and a Cal 20, the Potato Patch, varnishing, a singlehanded sailor, Pusser's Rum, a flogging jib, a GPS, Point Blunt and a broken water maker.
Poets, start your pens. Or computers.
THE PICTURE BRINGS TEARS TO MY EYES
I just read the letter from Pepe and Sue of Melissa regarding the loss of the trimaran Solar Wind. We experienced the same storm as did Chuck and Leonard, and were the closest boat to their last position. Seeing the picture of them brings tears to my eyes.
Ken Stuber and family
True Blue, Bristol 35.5
THE CAR HAD OREGON PLATES
You asked for more information about Chuck and Leonard of Solar Wind. Their last name was Campbell, and before they left La Paz we bought their car. It had Oregon plates on it, but Chuck told us he was a retired accountant who'd worked for a company in San Diego.
In April of '96, the two brothers went to San Diego to see their mother in a rest home, "for the last time", as they put it.
Doohdah, Coronado 35
La Paz, B.C.S.
Readers - a souce that prefers to remain anonymous adds that Solar Wind was a 37-ft Brown Searunner trimaran that had some sort of problem which required one or more of her hulls to be pumped out frequently. This source believes that the brothers were from Oregon. Like everyone else, this source says the two were very well liked in the cruising community.
I WAS NO LONGER ABLE TO RESIST
We had a terrific time crewing on the Baja Ha-Ha race. Can any race named Ha-Ha be serious?
At the awards ceremony in Cabo, the Wanderer asked if anyone had pulled any pranks. As a loyal crewmember on one of the boats, I had to keep my mouth shut. But when I got my pictures developed, I couldn't resist telling you about it.
While on the way to the Kick-Off/Costume Party at San Diego's Cabrillo Isle Marina, our skipper, overcome by temptation at the sight of a brokerage boat named La Baja, couldn't help himself. He went down and added, in black tape, the words 'Ha-Ha', changing the boat's name to La Baja Ha-Ha.
Although there was no harm done, the 'prank police' had the deed erased before dawn the following day. By the way, I wonder if the 'prank police' and the 'VHF police' are one and the same. Who in the heck were Mindless Banter and Idle Chatter, anyway. Enlighten us please, Great Poobah.
P.S. We really thought the trip spread a lot of goodwill along the way.
Sandy - At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old kill-joy, the Wanderer, speaking as the Grand Poobah, would like to draw a clear distinction between a prank and low grade vandalism. A prank is a practical joke played on a friend; low grade vandalism is when the same practical joke is played on a stranger or a stranger's boat.
The Poobah was unhappy when he learned that somebody - apparently the skipper of the boat you sailed on - played the prank you describe on that brokerage powerboat. Trust us, all the goodwill that the Ha-Ha might have generated - and more - would have gone down the tubes if the black tape used somehow pulled some of the gel coat off, of if the transom platform had broken, or if the boat's burglar alarm had gone off, or if neighbor's had seen the prank in progress.
The Wanderer/Poobah's life is dedicated to the proposition that being wild & crazy and being responsible are not mutually exclusive. Everyone has to use good sense - even after they've had a few beers. The Wanderer/Poobah feels so strongly about this that if it ever gets to the point where there's more than just a little irresponsibility and/or low grade vandalism on the part of the Ha-Ha participants, it will be the last one ever.
While we're on the general subject of reasonable yachtie behavior, we'd like to comment on the liberties some people take with other peoples' boats. While in Cabo, for example, we announced several specific 'open house' periods for Profligate during which everyone was welcome to come aboard and have a look at Latitude's new-but-nowhere-near-finished charterboat-to-be. Much to our dismay, a number of people seemed to think this meant they could come aboard - and sometimes stroll right into the salon unannounced - any old time of the day or night. It's not a really big deal to us, but it's uncool, because even the Poobah is entitled to a little privacy.
So if you're not clear on such matters, remember that you never board someone else's boat without being asked - not any more than you'd walk unannounced through the front door of their home or unbutton their wife's blouse. The protocol is this: If nobody is in sight, you call out in a loud voice: "Ahoy, Fair Breeze, is anybody aboard?" If nobody answers after two such calls, you should conclude that: 1) They're not aboard. 2) They're having great sex and aren't interested in you joining them right then. 3) They're trying to catch up on their sleep. Or, 4) They don't like you. If you're really forward, you can knock on their hull and call out. But stay off their boat!
Even if someone is on deck, you shouldn't automatically assume you're invited. Wait to be asked. Even if it's obvious you're wanted aboard, you should smile and say "Permission to come aboard?"
RESOLVED NOT TO SAND OR SCRUB OUR MONEY AWAY
I have been following your readers' comments on teak decks with interest, and hope that the following may add constructively to the dialogue. My wife and I purchased our Tayana 55 new 11 years ago. Since the teak decks cost us over $10,000, I resolved early on not to scrub or sand our money away - and have not regretted either decision.
When new and freshly sanded, the light golden color of a teak deck is beautiful - but it's a waste of energy and money to constantly scrub and bleach and oil and grow thick calluses on your knees. Over a period of 10 years, such treatment can reduce a half-inch thick deck to a disaster of popping bungs and paper-thin slats. While in Cabo a few years ago, I watched a Mexican maintenance man, with whom I was friendly, industriously scrub away on a beautiful teak deck while a cascade of brown water rushed off the stern. And he did this once a week! When I told him I didn't think the owner would appreciate having his teak decks being scoured away, he gave me that old, "What the f__k do you know?" look and stopped talking to me.
When we first got the boat, I followed the salesman's advice by scrubbing the deck with detergent, bleaching with oxalic acid, and then applying oil with gold color in suspension. The Teak Wonder treatment, which is merely wondrously expensive and has to be done three to four times a year is a pain in the ass.
We then decided to let the decks go grey, but this, too, wasn't a good solution. Teak is fragile and, if not protected, will deteriorate just sitting in the sun. For example, between San Francisco and Cabo, my genoa sheets, working like rat-tailed files, ground their outline wherever they lay on the deck. Other 'ravines' appeared where nothing except sun and running water could have possibly made contact. Then, as sun and barbecue grease, diesel, dust and soap, work their wonders, the soft material between the harder grains erode away. This allows 'trenches' to form where algae grows - and may tempt the unwary owner to go to work with a belt sander.
But don't despair as this is where products such as Cetol come into their own. True, as one of your writers noted, they may be slippery, but this is so only if the deck has first been sanded smooth. Even three coats of Cetol will not completely fill the trenches, so the high and low grain spots will provide good traction. The beauty of this material does not repose in its peanut-butter appearance - which is a sorry approximation of newly sanded teak - but in the fact that it adheres to itself without sanding between coats. And, when you have to apply a fresh coat in only six months or so, with no preparation other than a wash-down, it can start looking knock-out gorgeous! Contrary to your other correspondent's experience, I have not found the Cetol deck to be any hotter. And for sure it is not as hot as a gel-coated or LPU painted deck - both of which I've had in the past.
My recommendation is to prepare the deck by first washing it down, then scrubbing it vigorously cross-grain with a nylon pad and detergent such as 4-U. Use a stiff bristle scrub brush to clean out the between-grain trenches. Use a bronze brush to get the tough spots. Then scrub again with an oxalic acid bleach. For the end product to look good, you've got to get the teak clean before applying the Cetol. Let it dry well so that you can see where further work may be needed to obtain a uniform base color.
Then, when thoroughly dry, paint on the Cetol with a cheap bristled bush, working it down into the grain. Don't flow it on; work it. If you lay it on thick, it gets an opaque appearance which is not attractive and is a sure indication of a slippery spot. Leave it set for a week or so, and then wash down, dry the deck, and work on a second coat. Leave it for a month or so, and then do the third coat. This should be good for six months or more, after which you should go back and get the thin spots, then cover with a complete coat.
Although teak decks present maintenance problems, I wouldn't hesitate to get them again. In the past I've had gel-coated molded decks, LPU painted decks, painted with sand or walnut shell decks, and glued-on 'rubber' decks - and they all have their problems. Teak can be patched and repaired and still look good. When the others go - and they do go - you have to do it all over again. And even then, they only look good for a short time before taking on a scruffy appearance. The teak is cooler and provides better foot traction. Its only downside is the initial cost.
We've had 10 years of service from our teak decks without going through a lot of crap about everybody having to take their street shoes off - but no spike heels! - screaming about spilled red wine, potato chips, and so forth, and expect to have another ten - God willin' and the creek don't rise.
REAL TEAK DECKS DON'T ORDINARILY ROT
I work for a boatyard that laid its first teak deck over 140 years ago, and since I've become responsible for production, we've laid several thousand square feet more. We presently have several such projects under way, one of which is approximately 1,500 square feet in size.
Contrary to some of the views that have been expressed in previous letters, teak is still the most seawater-compatible material available for boatbuilding. Properly aged Burma teak is extremely rot-resistant, does not corrode, is almost impervious to tornadoes and does not blister. Indeed, it only improves with age in water. There are quite a few teak boats still in service which are more than a century old.
Of course, a boat is the sum of the materials used added to the knowledge, digital dexterity and ethics of the builder. Fiberglass is a material that can be molded utilizing unskilled labor, finessing the need for the skills of a competent boatwright. It's exactly the sort of medium that attracts unscrupulous builders and characters posing as experts. A thin veneer of green wood of dubious origin laid over a fiberglass laminate can not reasonably be referred to as a 'teak deck'.
Burma teak suitable for boat building should be aged underwater. In England such underwater aging used to go on for 30 or 40 years. Teak aged that way is no longer available except in recycled form. When you can find such wood, it's usually about 100 years old and a joy to work with. In any event, after today's teak is aged, the logs are then milled to planks and air-dried for at least one year per inch of thickness. We age our new teak by air-drying it for five to six years in three-inch-thick pieces that are eventually milled to whatever size needed.
Contrary to a previous assertion by a Mr. Wyatt, real teak decks don't ordinarily rot. I've inspected hundreds of teak decks and never seen one that was rotten. Many of the fine teak decks on vessels built before 1941 have been worn down by repeated holystoning or scrubbing to the point of showing the fastenings. Around iron fastenings and upstands, some deterioration may be observed, and the caulking may need renewing (with cotton, never oakum on decks). All of these conditions are correctable.
Teak weather decks should never be varnished or oiled. One of the reasons for using teak on a weather deck, besides its beauty, is its nonskid quality. Teak decks, like the rest of the boat, should be kept very clean. This can be accomplished by washing with saltwater and only very light scrubbing with a soft brush when necessary to remove soil. Some people prefer the honey color obtainable by using a weak reducing solution such as oxalic or citric acid.
Teak, like yachting, is not for everyone. For some people the cost can be prohibitive. A well-laid teak deck will cost between $150 and $250 per square foot, depending upon the condition of the underlayment of beams. But life holds few delights equal to a barefoot stroll down a teak deck with the tradewinds abaft the beam.
Stone Boat Yard
Readers - Bodle surely knows the delights of a barefoot stroll down a teak deck with the tradewinds blowing. About 15 years ago he kept the classic 129-foot schooner Panda in the Caribbean. Despite the boat's size, one of the crew told us he used to doublehand her down island! She was lost to a fire off Martinique during a refit.
NOW THAT THE HATCHES DON'T LEAK
A quick note about an outstanding marine-related company. The ports on our DownEast 38, being nearly 20 years old, were in dire need of replacement. Apparently getting UV resistant Lexan here in San Diego is impossible, so we worked with Plastic Fabrication in San Francisco. Not only were they able to get us what we wanted, they made exact duplicates - minus the crazing and yellowing - of the old windows we sent up to them. The old windows had an irregular screw hole pattern with drilled and tapped holes for a metal frame on the outside. The new windows fit perfectly the first time.
There aren't many custom made products that fill a need as perfectly as did our new ports from Scott at Plastic Fabrications. They were fast, too. The new windows were made and shipped to us in San Diego in less than a week. Now our ports don't leak anymore.
Now that our ports don't leak anymore, we'll have to get back to the never-ending job of varnishing.
Tom and Jackie Keenan
Halcyon, DownEast 38
THEY DIDN'T BELIEVE IT AT UC BERKELEY
Interested at the claim that the tide is high at Tahiti every day at noon, I called the Astronomy Department at the University of California to see what they thought. They didn't believe it was true - unless there was some peculiarity of the harbor/ inlet/what have you.
I would accept a free ride to Tahiti to check it out.
John - If you want proof that professors don't know everything, check out the U.S. Pilot for Tahiti, which confirms that high tide is between noon and 1400 each day. So there's no need to go to Tahiti - unless you enjoy sailing in the tropics and eating at the 'roach coaches'.
A CRACK IN THE BLOCK
On a recent coastal cruise from Long Beach to San Diego on my Ranger 331 sloop, I noticed a crack in one face of one block of my faithful genoa fairlead block system. I have no contention with the manufacturer, as these blocks are at least 20 years old. I am happy that I detected this potential accident-in-the-making in time to replace the block. The maker and model is "Fico, Australia, FG.480." I understand that FICO is out of business.
Question: I would have the block repaired (welded) and use the set as a standby if I knew of a competent repair source. Do you or your readers know of such a source, or should I place both blocks where 'the Dutchman left the anchor,' and be thankful that they gave such good service, just prior to being launched into marine space, hopefully with no one in the launch pattern?
Incidentally, I replaced the FICO blocks with Schaefer's No. 32-77 "Twin Sheet Lead Blocks"' which fit well on my 1" track, and which accept either one or two sheets at one time.
Thank you for your interest and concern. Your publication is one of my high-priority reads.
Robert E. Tumelty
550 Old Ranch Road
Seal Beach, CA 90740
FAX (562) 598-0206
YES, DOROTHY, THERE IS AN EL NIÑO
As we battled our way south to Cabo this year, all I could think about was the Wanderer's description of the Ha-Ha IV start: ". . . it was blowing about 3 knots and the seas were running about 3 inches. . ."
That was hardly the case for those of us that departed San Diego in mid December. Winds above 25 knots and seas of 15 to 20 feet have been the norm for us poor slobs who couldn't get it together on time for the mellow 'herd of cats' pilgrimage that is the Ha-Ha.
Tracy and I have heard so many horror stories that they are impossible to list here. I guess that Dick and Lona Wilson, the owners of the Stevens 47 Kite, did the best job of putting it in perspective. They said that in their 25 years of sailing - including actively campaigning a Santana 35 and doing a circumnavigation with Kite, they've never had a worse time of it than they did between Isla San Martin and Turtle Bay.
A number of other vessels were also caught out in the blow, and the stories they could tell of blown out sails, steering failures, and so forth, would fill many pages. As for ourselves, we were lucky enough to drop the hook in Turtle Bay three hours before things got nasty.
After the main blow was over, the fleet in Turtle Bay licked it's collective wounds. Because the weather remained unsettled, everyone wondered if the weather gods would be kind for the stretch from Turtle Bay to Cabo San Lucas. They sure as hell weren't! Much to everyone's dismay, we had wind from every direction but the northwest - which is where we wanted it from and where it usually blows from.
As usual, it was great to get to Cabo to dry out, warm up, and unwind. Most boats have stayed here longer than normal, and it's only in the last few days that people have been heading on to La Paz, Puerto Vallarta, Z-town, and so forth. The weather conditions look pretty good, so we're leaving tonight with the full moon for a few weeks in Banderas Bay.
Hopefully, the rest of the season, will be more 'textbook' for all the fine folks who've taken the big plunge by cutting their docklines.
Pete and Tracy Caras
Readers - Pete and Tracy were the Poobah and Poobette respectively of the Ha-Ha II.
Deciding when to head south to Mexico is an inexact science, and there are differing opinions. Chris Frost of Downwind Marine thinks it's best to leave no earlier than mid November and preferably early December. This all but eliminates the possibility of a late season hurricane, but offers greater exposure to winter blows, 'pineapple expresses', cold weather - and nasty northers when crossing the Sea of Cortez to the mainland.
The Wanderer prefers leaving San Diego very late in October, which pretty much eliminates the chance of winter storms, 'pineapple expresses', cold weather, and nasty crossings from the Cape to Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta. He does, however, recognize there is a greater chance - although still very slight - of a hurricane. The Wanderer, however, likes the fact that hurricane development takes several days and is much easier to predict than a regular storm. Further, in most non El Niño years seawater temperature cools enough by late October to all but eliminate the possibility of a hurricane reaching northern Mexico.
In the end, of course, there are no certainties with the weather. You take off and you take your chances. Our sincerest sympathy to all those who got clobbered early this season, both coming down the coast of Baja and while making the crossing from Baja to the mainland. This was one of those years when it truly paid off to get as far south as soon as possible.
THE LOSS OF A SHIPMATE
This is a tribute to my wife Nancy, who lost her battle with cancer in May 1997. I'm writing Latitude not about her life as my friend, companion, lover, or wife, but about just one facet of this remarkable woman's personality - she was a wonderful sailing partner and a rare individual that only sailors can truly appreciate - a 'good shipmate'.
We weren't sailing 'rock stars', we didn't belong to a yacht club, nor did we ever grace the pages of Latitude. We were just 'plain folk' who loved to sail and spent as much time as we could on the Bay. Together, we discovered sailing; together, we took sailing lessons; and together, we shared a dream of spending a year cruising the Caribbean. Except for some lessons which I took alone, I've never been on a sailboat without her. She was as much an integral part of my sailing experience as the murmur of water past the hull, and as necessary to my sailing enjoyment as a steady breeze. There's no one, from Sunfish sailor to tall ship captain, that was blessed with a better shipmate than I had in Nancy.
In 1995, we did a bareboat charter in the BVI. The first morning, as we were putting away stores, a spring-loaded hatch slammed shut, amputating the tip of one of her fingers. After we got the wound dressed at the local hospital, she smiled bravely and said "Let's go sailing!" - rather than ask to have the charter rescheduled. She enjoyed the remainder of the week without a single complaint. Our first night on the boat was spent at Soper's Hole; a collage of memories flood over me of Nancy, warm breezes, cold boat drinks, and a Jimmy Buffett tape playing softly in the background. It was surely as close to heaven as I'll ever experience.
In 1996 we were part of the crew on a 43-foot Irwin cruising from Nassau to Key West. The first night out of Miami, while on the hook, there was a major lightning storm. The hatch above our bunk leaked, soaking our sheets and mattress, but once again Nancy - without complaint - looked on the experience as an adventure. And, even though we were only anchored in the thin water of the ICW, and were still able to see the lights of Miami, our 'braving' the elements that wet and noisy night was an adventure, one of the most exciting we'd ever shared, and due entirely to this extraordinary lady.
A week after our return from that trip, we got the news that the cancer she defeated in 1990 had returned and that her time was limited. Our first thought was how lucky we were to have been able to share that magical, two-week sail. My undying thanks to Bob and Renee, owners of Wandering Star.
Now, without Nancy, it's too painful to even step aboard a boat. Will I ever sail again? Probably - sooner or later the lure will be too strong, but my heart will never lift at the sights and sounds of the water, like it did when she was with me. Will I ever cruise the Caribbean again, for either a week or a year? Never - that dream was not just for me, but for the two of us, and a shipmate like Nancy is a gift one receives only once in a lifetime.
P.S. It doesn't matter if this letter gets printed or not - there's no real 'point' I'm trying to make. I'm sending it to you because I wanted to share my feelings with someone who would understand. Thanks.
Steve - We beg to differ when you say there is no 'point' to your letter. As far as we're concerned, it clearly answers the question of the meaning of life. It's as significant a letter as we've ever published.
THE GPS REQUIREMENT
Thanks for printing my piece on Midway Atoll. You really dolled it up, and your editing was all for the better - except in two instances.
First, the GPS requirement is as I stated; you must use the GPS transponder - which they supply - which reports your position automatically via satellite. Sorry I didn't make it clear. Second, Heidi Aumun is not the "unofficial" queen, she's the real thing. I appointed her and crowned her myself.
P.S. It's about 15 years late, but I want to thank you for the Singlehanding In the Spiritual World article you did about me and Frank Dinsmore in the April '82 issue.
YOU DON'T NEED TO BE A WEATHERMAN
Love your mag, yadda yadda, loyal reader, yadda yadda, let's do lunch, yadda yadda.
I'd like to weigh in on the where-does-the-water-go-at-low-tide question posed a couple of issues ago. Some disclaimers first. I will prove that I'm no scientist in this discussion, but I did explain how the tides work to my then 8-year-old daughter, using a plate to represent the earth and a glass orbiting the plate to represent the moon. When I finished, she said, "Well Daddy, there must be two high tides a day and two low ones!"
First, the most important thing to remember is that water is a viscous fluid. A good thing, too, because without viscosity our boats wouldn't float very well.
Second, water has mass - a whole bunch of mass! Especially when all the water in the ocean is vaguely connected with all the water in all the oceans.
Third, Most people think of tides as a horizontal rather than a vertical event. For example, sailing with the tide to take advantage of it going in the same direction we want to go.
Putting these three factors together gives us the basic understanding of what the tides are/do and allows a more complete understanding of why they behave the way they do. Given that water has viscosity, this means that it tends to stay in a stream when you pour it out of a bucket. If it had no viscosity, it would disassemble itself into little tiny drops on its way to the ground. It wants to stick to itself. Try pouring syrup out of a glass on a cold day and see how long it takes!
The mass of the water in the oceans is enormous. To get another idea of why that's important, try stopping a moving locomotive by pushing on it. Even if it were possible to, for example, open up one side of Lake Tahoe, it would take an awful long time for it to drain completely. And even though the water would certainly rush down the mountainside, it probably wouldn't go much faster than 60 miles an hour anyway.
The surfaces of the ocean are pulled toward the moon as it orbits the earth. It does this with annoying regularity and seems to have been at it since dirt was rock. Since water is so viscous and so massive, it takes a little while to react to the moon's gravitational pull - one of the reasons the highest and lowest tides occur two or three days after new and full moons. This pulling accounts for the high tide. The highest high of the day occurs when the moon appears to be overhead locally and the low high tide occurs when the moon is on the other side of the planet.
Think about momentum for a second. Why does a wave breaking on the beach recede? Well, it got placed there because it had some height, and as it followed gravity's laws it broke and washed up on the beach. It also has to obey gravity and get pulled back into the ocean. While this appears to us as a horizontal event, it really is simply gravity at work.
The same can be said of the tides. The moon pulls the water up, but after it passing overhead it exerts less pull than it did an hour before. In other words, the water seeks equilibrium and tries to follow the gravitational tug. Now a poor water molecule here in Redwood Creek starts pushing to get back to a state of equilibrium, but it finds there's a couple of gazillion other water molecules in the way and so it just exerts what little push it can on the guy next to him. Kinda like the start of a Star regatta. There's just no way water can travel as fast as the moon.
One more thing. Subsurface geology has a lot to do with how high and how fast water can fill a given space. Again think of the wave breaking on the beach. A steep beach drains a wave back fairly quickly while a shallow one takes longer. This accounts for the huge tidal differences in a place like the Bay of Fundy. Also, generally speaking, the further north or south of the equator one goes, the greater the tide heights are.
Now for the last and possibly most important question. Why are the tides always high at noon in Tahiti? This is due to a very expensive program begun by the French when they first claimed the area for France. Being known for their fine and sometimes inscrutable insults, the French decided to insult the ocean at daybreak and at sunset, leaving only noon for the water to rush back in. In the computer biz this is commonly referred to as an urban legend, but I suppose we may have to change that to a tropical paradise legend! Now where did that Tooth Fairy go?
Bill - If you gave your daughter the same plate and glass explanation while living on the East Coast, she'd have responded by saying, "Gee Daddy, why do we only have one low and high tide a day when your example suggests that we should have two?"
And what are we to make of the fact that the tides on the Pacific coast of Panama vary by as much as 29 feet while just 50 miles away, on the Caribbean side of the Canal, tides only vary by about three feet?
As for high tide always occurring at noon in Tahiti, you're about the fifth obviously intelligent person who has mocked that assertion. But it's neither urban or polynesian myth, it's the truth. To quote Marcia Davock's incredibly thorough Cruising Guide to Tahiti and the French Society Islands: "Tahiti has a very unusual tidal situation. High tide is always between noon and 2 p.m., and then again around midnight. Low tide is around the hours of dawn and dusk." She goes on to say that the U.S. Pilot and the French Pilot have two entirely different explanations for these oddly consistent tides.
A BATHTUB AND A BROAD BUTT
My wife, Susan - for whom our C&C 32 is named - and I regret that we had to stay on Hood Canal this winter (brrrrr!) or we would have joined our son and daughter-in-law on their Bristol Channel Cutter Loonitude in the Baja Ha-Ha. We've had to settle for a copy of Latitude each month to see how they're doing.
In the November issue, Eric Marking - and Latitude - asked for help: "Where does the water go (in a wave)?" Let me suggest an experiment that anyone can perform - preferably ashore. The equipment required is a bathtub and a broad butt. Sit in one end of the tub while you fill it with about four inches of water. Let the ripples subside, then gently lift your butt by pushing down with your arms. Hold that position until the water has settled. Now lower your butt to the bottom with the idea of creating a single wave across the tub. A wave that runs to the end of the tub and reflects back.
If the end of the tub - and your butt - were perfectly square, a single wave would return to you in a straight line across the tub. The wave is higher and its trough lower than the water level in the tub, leaving the water flat and at its original level after the wave passes. So the answer to the question, 'Where did the water go?' is that it doesn't disappear - it just moves in a circle.
When the wave passes, leave a few soap bubbles on top the water to move up and down. Actually the bubbles will move in a circle - out, down, back, up. This is the pattern of waves caused by wind. When they run into shallow water, they are tripped into surf. Of course, 'wind speed' and 'shallow water' are relative terms, particularly to each other. If you drop your butt too fast, you yourself will cause the 'waves' to break.
Translate the bathtub into an ocean, ignoring small local disturbances such as hurricanes, and consider the earth turning under the moon each day. Water miles deep has to move sideways an imperceptible amount to balance the pull of the moon. Shallow water would show some motion like a tidal bore, and the shape, depth, and latitude of the body of water would allow it to slosh or lie quiescent.
So the answer is that while the moon's gravity and the major ocean currents driven by temperature differences and the Coriolis force move seawater slowly, waves really move water only up, down, and around in a circle. It doesn't go anywhere.
Charles T. Hoard
Susan, C&C 32
Charles - We haven't taken a bath in a year, but we're going to break our streak tonight just to test your explanation.
MIXING UP MIDWAY AND WAKE
In the interests of preserving history as it actually happened, I'd like to make a correction to your January issue story titled Midway Island. (It's really an atoll, not an island.)
Pan American Airlines didn't have a Clipper at Midway on December 7th. The incident you referred to took place at Wake Atoll which, being on the other side of the dateline, made it December 8th. The Japanese bombers came from the Marshall Islands. For further details you can see my book: Pacific Island Battlegrounds of World War II - Then and Now, Bess Press.
Midway underwent a 23 minute sea bombardment starting at 2130 on December 7th from two destroyers and - some historians maintain - two cruisers returning from the attack on Pearl Harbor. Midway defense forces drove them off, although four military personnel were killed. One of the fatalities was 1st Lt George Cannon, USMC, who was the first Marine to be awarded a Medal of Honor in World War II. In 1956, the Navy named the Midway Dependents School after George Cannon. I don't know if the school still exists, but it was a better built building than the barracks, and may have been spared in the last cleanup by the Navy.
It's my opinion that the first boating organization that schedules a race or rally to Midway will have a real winner. Unlike Palmyra, Midway is fully equipped to handle people - and the concessionaires will welcome tourist bucks to keep it going. Any boating group having a yen to make a name for itself in transpacific racing should contact me at 110165,2052@ compuserve. I can advise.
Earl - Since the entire Latitude staff was born after World War II, we tend to make errors of that nature.
For what it's worth, the National Geographic Society refers to 'Midway' collectively as the 'Midway Islands'. For whatever reason, they don't call the group or any of the individual parts an atoll.
I WANT, I WANT, I WANT
I wanted to write a quick note to give Latitude and all the doers who kept me motivated to make my cruising dreams a reality. My boat's name is Ohana, and I was scheduled to sail her in the Baja Ha-Ha IV. I must not have paid attention to my calendar, because Mother Nature penciled herself in without warning for two months, putting me behind schedule. Blowing the engine at Point Dume didn't help, so it was that I was 10 days late for the start of my first rally/race.
Jason Brown and Shi Ho Yamagishi were the best crew a guy could ask for on the trip from Monterey to San Diego. They were excellent at helping shake out the wrinkles - both boat and work-related. Unfortunately, they both had to bail due to work commitments, and my crew for Cabo bailed for parts unknown. Bummer.
So after a couple of last minutes tips from Carrie and Roy of the San Francisco-based Ramblin, I split south. Since I was too late for the Ha-Ha and soloing, my pace slowed way down to a vacation slur. So slow, I'm embarrassed to say, that I've only made it to Bahia Tortugas!
On the way to Turtle Bay, I went wide, and hit the Islas San Benitos and Cedros Island. I had more fun on those four islands than on the whole top half of the Baja mainland! I highly recommend these islands for those making the trip north. It's ironic but true, the people with the least always give the most!
I did have to go through a couple of medium storms. One at Bahia San Quintin took my Windex, radar reflector, oars, seats for the dinghy, and wrecked my boat's beautiful paint job. The northeast point of Cedros broke my tiller off and cracked half way around the base of my mast. I got stuck in Bahia Tortugas for 20 days with strong wind up to 72 knots. Thank God for Bruce anchors and 250-feet of 5/8-inch chain. Even the fishing fleet was dragging! When I pulled up the rode it was stretched but not broken - which is how I want to leave the world someday.
When I make this trip again, I want crew, an autopilot, depthsounder, radar and SSB. I want, I want, I want. Geez, you think I'd have learned something from the cats on the Islas San Benitos.
Scott W. Johnson
Ohana, Islander 30,
IF THEY DRANK SALTWATER IMMEDIATELY
Some years ago, I read about a person - I think he was a French doctor - who crossed the Atlantic westward from Spain drinking nothing but ocean water. He did it in order to disprove the idea that drinking saltwater is fatal, and to show that if you start drinking saltwater immediately instead of waiting until you're dehydrated, you could survive without any problem.
Unfortunately, I have forgotten the individual's name and the exact details. I believe he wrote a book or something about it. If you or anyone else knows his name and when he made the trip, my son and I would like to know. One of my son's teachers doesn't believe it's possible, and is demanding that my son either produce the guy's name or apologize for lying. I think the teacher is off base, but can do little unless I find the information.
Frederick G. Knudsen
Frederick - Your son's teacher is certainly off base for accusing your son of "lying" for god's sake, but he's correct about it not being possible to survive on saltwater. The French have made many unorthodox crossings of the Atlantic, from drifting in inflatables, to sailboards, to Hobie Cats, to mooring buoys, to sail-less boats pulled by kites, to 'swimming'. But neither they nor anybody else have crossed living on saltwater because it's simply not possible. Drinking saltwater will not only quickly destroy your liver and kidneys, but will make you more thirsty than you've ever been in your life.
WEBSITES FOR LIVEABOARD CRUISERS
Are there any websites or chatrooms for liveaboard cruisers? I've searched but haven't had any luck. Can you help, as I'd like to 'talk' with cruisers in order to pick their brains.
Dave - We don't know of such a website or chat room, but there has to be one out there as the laws of cyberspace require that interests and/or activities must have one or more websites.
THE FARTHER FROM NEPTUNE'S TRIDENT
Just in case you haven't received a response yet to Eric Marking's puzzler about the tides, here's my take on the answer. For what it's worth, I'm a wannabe "renowned marine biologist" grad student at Moss Landing Marine Labs.
Where does the water go at low tide? Depending on the local tidal range and water depth, it moves up to a few miles in the horizontal plane, then returns with the next tide - independent of other currents. Why? The answer to this question and all of the additional questions posed by Marking can be answered very simply: tide is a wave.
First, it's true that the moon is the primary factor affecting tides. The way in which the gravitational force of the moon acts upon the oceans, however, is not as simple as it may appear. Without going into too much detail, let's just say that the tide producing force is the sum of the gravitational force of the moon and the centrifugal force of the earth-moon system (which acts opposite to the moon's gravity on earth). The net tide producing force is strongest directly under the moon (where it acts towards the Moon), and on the point on earth exactly opposite the moon (where it acts away from the Moon).
The tide-producing force acts along the surface of the earth towards these points. At these points however, the force acts straight up, and has no tractive force (that is force along the surface of the earth). Because the tide-producing force is so minuscule compared to the gravity of the earth, the vertical force at these points can be completely ignored (thus debunking any notions of water expanding and contracting in a vertical column). So, we have forces acting towards these points, but at these points (and at the points exactly half-way between these points) there is no effective force.
Notice that a force acts towards these points, not that water moves towards these points. If the earth and moon were stationary - resulting in a constant force - the water would indeed move into lumps towards and opposite from the moon (in this system the moon and earth would also plummet into each other - which is where the centrifugal force mentioned above comes in). Due to the rotation of the earth, and secondarily the movement of the moon around the earth, the tide producing force is not constant but rather cyclic, coming around to the same point (not considering the elliptical orbit of the moon) over earth every 27.3 days. What happens when you apply a regular oscillating force to water? You get waves.
Marking mentions that the force of the moon moves approximately 1,000 miles an hour over the surface of the earth. True (although 24,000 miles is the approximate circumference of earth, not the diameter). If earth had no land masses interrupting wave energy, the tide-producing force would cause a continuous wave with a wavelength (trough to crest) of one quarter of the earth's circumference, and a speed of 1,000 miles an hour. The wave crests, on opposite sides of the earth, would be high tides, and the troughs would be low tides. Okay, this roughly explains why we usually have tides twice a day. Where does the water go at low tide?
Think about a wave. The water isn't moving consistently in the same direction as the wave, the wave energy just passes through the water. In fact, if you stand somewhere where you can watch waves roll by from a stationary point (say on a pier), you can see how the water moves. If you watch a specific point of water (some flotsam), you'll see that on the crest of the wave it is moving in the same direction as the wave, but as the wave passes and the flotsam is in the trough, it moves opposite the direction of the wave, until the next crest picks it up. Any one parcel of water actually moves in a circle under a wave - basically up and backwards towards the crest, and down and forward towards the trough. The diameter of the circle is equal to the height of the wave. This movement is true even for immense waves.
When waves have a large wavelength in relation to the depth of the water, the circle that a water parcel moves in becomes elongated horizontally. Since tides have such great wavelengths they are always considered 'shallow-water waves' (even in the deepest oceans), and the movement of water parcels is a very elongated ellipse - independent of land (depending on the amplitude of the tide) it's about eight feet vertically and about half a mile horizontally. The direction of movement is parallel to the direction of the wave. Of course this movement of half a mile in six hours - less than a 10th of a knot - is hardly noticeable. But that's where the water goes.
Land masses, of course, confuse matters. Water can move long distances - flowing quickly through a strait for instance. Land masses are also responsible for the next big question: What about Tahiti? So far, we were considering a planet with no land masses (ideal for some blue-water enthusiasts - but where do you buy your groceries?). When land is thrown into the mix, the tide wave can no longer travel uninterrupted from east to west - it bumps into stuff. Again, this gets a little complicated with the coriolis force, individual basins, and various other forces, but the result is that in each major basin (and some minor basins) the wave moves around in a circle (usually - but not always - counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere, clockwise in the southern). Picture Neptune standing out in the middle of the ocean swinging his trident around him in a circle; the trident is the high tide wave.
In the North Pacific, tides do travel counter-clockwise - thus tides along the west coast of North America progress from south to north (except around certain embayments and such - like Monterey Bay). This revolving wave does move surprisingly fast, Not 1,000 miles an hour, but pretty close depending on how far from the center you are. Neptune, standing at the center of the revolving wave, is at the 'amphidromic point' - a point at which there is no semi-diurnal lunar tide. The tides are progressively greater farther from the amphidromic point.
In the Pacific Ocean, we have several amphidromic points. One of them just happens to fall pretty much right on - gasp! - Tahiti. Now wait a second, doesn't that mean that there is no tide whatsoever at Tahiti? No, it just means there is no appreciable lunar semi-diurnal tide. As Marking mentions, tides are caused primarily by the moon and secondarily by the sun.
Actually, 111 'tidal constituents' have been identified - most based on aspects of the moon and sun (in addition to revolution period, there are things like lunar and solar apogee and perigee, etc.) Amphidromic points are different for different constituents. NOAA uses up to 37 tidal constituents in their tidal predictions. (Because of the complexity of tides, remember that tide tables are predictions, not fact).
So far the tidal constituent we've been talking about is the lunar semi-diurnal. Another major constituent is the solar day (exactly 24.00 hours). I don't have immediate access to the tidal constituents for Tahiti, but I would suspect that in the absence of lunar semi-diurnal tide that the solar day governs tides there. As far as tidal ranges in different places, Neptune and his trident should explain that the farther from Neptune, the greater the wave, the greater the tidal range. Bathymetry and geography certainly have a large affect too. Tides focussed into smaller areas, like South San Francisco Bay, are amplified (just like any wave would be). As far as the Bay of Fundy, well then we get into oscillating tides - kind of like harmonic convergence - and that's another story.
Laird - Yours is far and away the best explanation we've heard to date, and very, very interesting. Thank you.
CATCHING HEP-B WOULD BE REMOTE IN THE EXTREME
Several months ago you received a letter from a Mr. Smythe of Caerulean who suggested his wife might have got hepatitis from coming in contact with the waters of San Diego Bay. You requested further information; I hope the following helps.
Having contracted Hepatitis A over a year ago, I can certainly sympathize with the frustration Mr. Smythe is feeling. However, his theory of how his wife might have contracted it has little basis in scientific and medical fact. He also does not state which variant of Hepatitis his wife contracted, which is important. Hopefully, this letter might clear up some of the questions regarding this disease.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver, and transmission is generally via fecal contamination and oral ingestion. The disease itself lasts under two months, although some patients experience symptoms up to six months down the line. In most cases the disease results in no long-term liver damage. Most physicians also prescribe no booze during the recovery period, up to a year.
The virus can be spread through contaminated fruits and veggies, raw shellfish, sometimes ice and fresh water, and uncooked foods - although it's also possible for foods to become contaminated after cooking and before being served. Transmission is facilitated by poor hygiene, poor sanitation, or intimate contact with an infected individual.
Sufficient chlorinating of the water will inactivate the Hepatitis A virus. Boiling or cooking above 185û for one minute will deactivate it, too. Bloodborne transmission is very rare, but possible via blood transfusion or use of contaminated blood products. Incubation period is from 15 to 50 days, which makes it extremely unlikely to track a source. Hepatitis A is a reportable disease in most First World countries. About 75,00 cases occur annually in the United States.
The bad news is that you do not have to engage in 'high risk behavior', although this dramatically increases your chances of contraction. You could contract the disease if you eat or drink in places with poor sanitation, but could just as easily contract it from a local restaurant. (There's a reason for those "wash your hands before you leave" signs in the bathrooms!) The good news is that its very dramatic effects are temporary, there is almost never permanent liver damage, and vaccines are available for long term protection.
Most importantly, most doctors and references seem to indicate that because of the amount of dispersion in sea water and method of transmission, a person cannot catch Hep A from handling dock lines, swimming, or even drinking sea water into which someone has "#1ed". In either case - from what I could glean from Mr. Smythe's letter - his wife has suffered permanent liver damage, which would seem to be symptomatic of the more endemic Hepatitis B, not Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B is a much more serious variant of hepatitis, and occurs in two phases, acute or chronic. The acute phase occurs after the person is infected and lasts from a few weeks up to a few months. The chronic phase follows, and in some instances, the person infected becomes a chronic carrier; i.e. the virus remains in their blood and liver.
Hepatitis B is a long-term disease. Incubation is 45 to 160 days. About 250,000 new cases occur annually in the U.S. according to the Center for Disease Control, and 1.25 million are chronic carriers. Approx. 0.2 - 0.8% of the U.S., Western Europe and Australian population are carriers. In China, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East and parts of the Caribbean it is endemic - 8-15% of the population - most of whom acquire the disease at birth or childhood. It is a mandatory reportable disease in most industrial countries.
Hep B is a serious infection of the liver caused by the Hepatitis B virus. Modes of transmission include exposure to contaminated blood or blood products, use of contaminated razors, needles, dental and medical equipment, tattooing or ear piercing equipment, other invasive procedures, and especially sexual contact with infected individuals or chronic carriers.
Those who participate in high risk behavior, especially in the above listed countries and areas, are especially susceptible. It is sadly often passed on from mother to child during or after the birth process.
The bad news is that Hepatitis B can be a long-term disease, and the effects on the liver can last a lifetime - which in addition to everything else, means no more Piša Coladas after a nice long sail. The good news? Although the damage the virus causes is extremely serious, the virus itself is fairly easy to kill outside the body - which makes successful transmission via seawater highly unlikely. In addition, there are at least three vaccines which have proven track records in preventing the disease.
No responsible medical reference I have been able to locate, nor any physician I have spoken with - including those at both the U.S Center for Disease Control, and its British equivalent, as well as many in the U.S. Air Force (my own wife included) - could say that they could justify any other mode of transmission in the vast majority of cases. Most would cover themselves by admitting "anything is possible" - witness the number of 'virgin births' every year at our nations hospitals! With that caveat, the possibility that Mrs. Smythe could have caught Hep B from San Diego Bay is remote in the extreme. Incidentally, though new strains of the disease are being recognized and named, they are all basically derivatives of Hep B, and have similar transmission profiles.
In conclusion, since I am philosophically opposed to both dumping anything into the waters of any bay and uninformed, knee-jerk regulation, I am hoping facts overrule the emotional aspects of this debate. I do not know Mr. Smythe, his wife, or their doctor, and my heart goes out to both her and all the victims of this incipient and preventable disease, but I think it's time they have a serious talk. Incidentally, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers an excellent reference called Health Information for International Travel.
P.S. Although I sadly had to sell my Cal 36 in California three years ago, I have been living happily in England with my new wife ever since. Your magazine has kept me in touch with the Bay's fine sailing community and helped fire my resolve to buy another boat and hang a left - a right? - soon.
Brandon, Suffolk, United Kingdom
WHEN WE RETIRE IN THREE YEARS
I want to thank the Wanderer and others for the tremendous job they did with this year's Baja Ha-Ha! It was excellent. My wife and I crewed aboard the Hunter 40.5 Phantasm. When we retire in three years, we'll be doing the Ha-Ha again.
My wife wants to know if you have any Ha-Ha tank tops left. There were so many people trying to buy them in Cabo and we had to catch a plane, so we didn't get a chance. Oh well!
We're going to subscribe to Latitude, as we never seem to get them in Portland. And when they do come in, everyone scrambles to get them. By subscribing we'll have our own personal copy.
Walt and Dee Turner
Walt & Dee - The remaining shirts are for sale at Coast Chandlery in Cabo. We'll be picking up any leftovers when we head north, and we'll be offering them for sale at the Sail Expo boat show in Oakland in April. If you can't make it to the show, give us a call in early April and we'll see what we've got.
And thanks for the nice comments. We personally think we'd have done a much better job if we'd gotten to Turtle Bay before everyone else left, but that's the way it goes.
BLEACH, A VIABLE LOBSTERING OPTION
Happy New Year from Mazatlan! We're Bob and Nancy Goldstein from Seattle, cruising the warm waters of Mexico aboard Unruly, our hot-off-the-shelf Tayana 53. We're sorry we missed the Ha-Ha, but maybe next year. We plan to leave Mexico in June for Alaska, fix some warranty items in Seattle, and then do it all over again.
We read with interest the recent articles regarding lobstering in various cruising destinations. As a resident of Kwajelien in the Marshall Islands in the days following World War II, I had a sure-fire way of putting lobster on the table. It involved a small amount of surplus ordinance and really did the job - without my having to get too wet!
With today's 'green freaks', that's no longer a viable way of catching lobster, so I've had to resort to an equally easy - but less destructive - way of getting the critters. I simply fill a squeeze bottle with a 50% bleach/water solution. Once I locate a lobster hideout, one good blast from the bottle will stun the lobsters. Then it's an easy matter to sort out the males from the females and toss them back. The bleach temporarily blinds the lobsters, but is quickly assimilated into the environment with no ill or after effects.
We decided to spend the holidays in Mazatlan and had a wonderful time. On Christmas Eve - or Noche Buena - we went to the Central Market to buy our turkey. As we mingled with the locals strolling around the various stalls, we heard shouts of "Pavo! Pavo! Pavo!" Within seconds the market was emptying. Fearing a fire had broken out, we dashed outside also. But when Nancy checked our electronic translator, she discovered that pavo means 'turkey' rather than 'fire'.
Having emerged half blind into the sun-flooded street, we pressed our backs to the wall of the market along with everyone else. The street itself was deserted, except for a cop who had stopped the traffic. When the locals tensed against a wall, we sensed an approaching spectacle.
Then, from around the corner, and surrounded by a cloud of dust and the sound of gobbling, charged a lone huge turkey. Seconds later he was followed by what must have been over 1,000 fully grown birds. Bringing up the rear were half a dozen whip-cracking Mexicans dressed as matadors. We were watching what must have been the 'Great Turkey Drive of Mazatlan'.
In a cloud of dust, feathers, and turkey poop, the parade passed us by. The spectators soon followed in a throng screaming "Pavo! Pavo! Pavo!" Video in hand, we joined the masses moving in the direction of the Cathedral Square. It seemed that the huge lead turkey was acting as a 'Judas Goat', as the gaggle rounded the final corner and spilled onto the open square.
Once the turkeys reached the square, there was a slaughter that caused the streets to run with blood. At the end, the 'Judas Turkey' was led into a cage and blessed by a procession emerging from the Cathedral. Then one by one the turkeys were removed by jubilant locals, soon to be drawn, cooked and served with cranberry sauce and all the fixings of a true Christmas Dinner.
Like it or not, we'd witnessed true culture - not to be found in Seattle's Pike Place Market - where you can't find lobster, either. We're so happy that we eventually went cruising!
Bob and Nancy Goldstein
Bob & Nancy - Your past and present methods of catching lobster are shortsighted and vile. To give you some idea what one of your lobster victims felt like, we're going to let our readers have open season on your fishing techniques. Yeech!
AFTER THE HA-HA, WHAT?
I read your article about the Baja Ha-Ha and was very entertained and teased at the same time. I'd like to be one of the round-the-globe sailors, but for now I have to satisfy myself with coastal cruising. Nonetheless, it's nice to think that a few of the folks who made the trip to Cabo will be continuing on to places that most of us can only dream about for now.
I'm going to sign up for the Ha-Ha in '98, but after the rally will have to leave my boat in Mexico for about two months while I return to work. Then, after my business is taken care of, I will fly back to the Sea of Cortez to enjoy the area. At the end of the season I will sail back north to my boat's home base in San Diego.
Since you were part of the rally, perhaps you can tell me what other cruisers did after they got to the Sea of Cortez. What do the ones do who don't have time to sail around the world - or can't even stay in Mexico for the entire season? And what's the story with slip rental and/or boat storage in the La Paz area for those of us who might want to 'commute' to our boats? If I couldn't find a place to at least temporarily store my boat, I don't think I'd be able to participate in the Ha-Ha.
Mark - While the majority of Ha-Ha entries stay in Mexico with their boats for the entire season, a significant majority can only cruise on a part time basis. For the latter group, there are a number of places to keep their boats in Mexico between visits.
Cabo San Lucas is not a place you want to leave your boat. The slip fees are very high and besides, there aren't good cruising opportunities nearby.
La Paz is a great place to leave your boat. The two big marinas are Marina Palmira and Marina de La Paz, where prices are moderate. Marina Palmira also has dry storage for big boats. Once the temperatures rise again in the spring, the cruising opportunities between La Paz and Puerto Escondido are superb.
Mazatlan has become a very popular place for cruisers to leave their boats for both short and long term. The small Marina El Cid is upscale and more expensive. The much larger Marina Mazatlan is somewhat barren, but there are many cruisers in residence and plenty of activities. If you don't need power or electricity, you can store your boat in the water at Marina Mazatlan for as little as $3/foot/month. The cruising in the immediate area is limited.
Marina San Carlos is home to the largest out-of-the-water boat storage in Mexico, but it's too cold to head up there in winter. It's primarily used for folks who want to fly back to the States for the hot summer months. Prices are moderate.
Puerto Vallarta has a tight situation on berths and is relatively expensive. Banderas Bay offers decent cruising and the consistently best wind in Mexico.
Marina Ixtapa has plenty of room for folks who want to leave their boats at a marina near Zihautanejo. Prices are moderate. Local cruising is limited, but hanging out around Z-town is most satisfactory.
If you do the Ha-Ha and leave your boat at one or more of these spots while you commute back to the States, you'll have plenty of company.
GOOD FOR YOU - IF . . .
By now you've probably bought the outboard you've been talking about, but I thought I'd send along the enclosed article that explains why everybody should by a four-stroke rather than a two-stroke. If your new outboard is a four-stroke, good for you.
Dale - We hate to disappoint you - and sailor Russell Long of the Bluewater Network, who is devoting so much time and energy to helping clean the water of our lakes, rivers, and oceans - but we bought a two-stroke. She's a fuel-injected, 100:1 rather than 50:1 gas to oil mixture outboard that we're told is 10 times less polluting than old style two-strokes, but she's a two-stroke nonetheless.
The overriding factor in our decision was weight. The 15 hp four-stroke we were hoping to buy weighed 25% more than the two-stroke we ultimately bought. Having already suffered a herniated disc as a direct result of repeatedly lifting a much lighter outboard, there was no way we could justify putting our back at unnecessary risk of a second debilitating surgery.
If we needed an outboard for any other application than a sailboat tender - where the dinghy and outboard are frequently raised and lowered and dragged up on beaches - we certainly would have opted for the four-stroke. And we're delighted to see that four-strokes seem to be catching on as kickers on fishing boats and many other suitable applications. And had a 9 hp been adequate, we might well have gone with a four-stroke.
A slightly less important consideration was where we intend to use the outboard. Based on past experience, we expect about 90% of the outboard's use will be in relatively open waters, such as the anchorages of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. We don't expect to ever use the outboard on a lake or reservoir, and only vary rarely in the waters of the Delta or San Francisco Bay.
For our purposes, we thought the modern, cleaner-burning two-stroke was the right answer. And we don't really feel guilty about it.
AMY HAD THE BEST SEA LEGS ON THE BOAT
While reading your response to the December letter about Wilderness 21 rudders, it was interesting to be reminded of Amy Boyer, who as a young women some 20 years ago raced her Wilderness 21 across the Atlantic and later across the Pacific to Hawaii.
Prior to all that, in 1977, Amy Boyer, Bob Johnson, John Williams, Mike Hoskins, and I signed on with delivery skipper Bill Tysdale to take an America's Cup 12 meter - 63-ft long - from San Diego back to Vancouver, B.C. The 12 had been used as a trial horse against Courageous and Enterprise, which had been practicing in San Diego in anticipation of the '78 America's Cup in Rhode Island. When we got aboard her, she was named Endless Summer. When she'd competed in the Cup for Australia previously, she'd been named Dame Patty.
Except for the delivery skipper, none of us on the delivery crew had any offshore experience. And Amy, then just 17, had the least sailing experience of all. The skipper had tried to bring Amy along as cook, but had to settle for a compromise. She'd cook one meal a day - if she were allowed to stand as many watches as everybody else.
As luck would have it, we ran into a storm just north of Los Angeles. This with a boat that was built to daysail the calm waters off Newport, Rhode Island. By the time the blow eased off two days later, nothing was dry on the boat, and the head, the SSB, the engine, and the electric bilge pump were all out of commission.
As for Amy, she had the best sea legs during that blow. So it was fun to later follow her singlehanded exploits across the Atlantic and Pacific. Does anybody know what she's been doing since then?
Also in the December issue, you suggested that a novice sailing couple from the Northwest ease themselves into ocean sailing in the Pacific Northwest and take on an experienced hand before sailing down to San Francisco. Or, even truck the boat to San Francisco. While I concur that unproven crew on an unknown boat is not a good combination, I've got another suggestion. The couple should gain offshore experience the way Amy Boyer and the rest of us aboard Endless Summer did: by signing on as crew aboard someone else's boat for an ocean passage. People can do this by posting notes at local marinas and sending resumes of their experience - no matter how limited - to the delivery skippers who advertise in sailing publications.
As delivery crew, we only got free grub and had to pay for our own air fare. Nonetheless, we gained incredible ocean experience and subsequently went on to bigger boating exploits - although nothing compared to Amy's.
Gary - Excellent advice - although it's probably best to try to get experience aboard a boat similar in size and style to the one you'll later be cruising aboard. As for Amy, we haven't heard from her in years. But we still marvel at her achievement, at age 20, of racing her 21 footer from England to Antigua by way of the Canaries.
A 30 YEAR COMMITMENT TO OCEAN RACING
As most Latitude readers already know, Dave Allen, an active member of the San Francisco YC, passed away at a Madang, Papua New Guinea, hospital of complications from pneumonia. This was at the conclusion of a six week cruise, with family members and friends, from Fiji to the north coast of PNG aboard the 73-foot sloop Golden Opus.
I first met Allen in 1967 while working for designer Gary Mull in Oakland. Mull and Warwick 'Commodore' Tompkins were working on the concept for a racing yacht designed specifically to win the Montego Bay Race. I proposed building the yacht in New Zealand at Atkinson's yard, where I had been serving my boat building apprenticeship. Improbable, as she was named by Tompkins who, until meeting Allen, was unable to get the project off the ground, went on to win the Montego Bay Race. The 42-footer was to compete in many of the world's classic ocean races during a 10 year period. I was fortunate to be aboard her for most of this time.
Following his experience with Improbable, Allen presented me with the opportunity to design a 40-foot yacht to compete in the 1977 Admiral's Cup. Imp secured a place in the US Admirals Cup Team by winning the SORC series, and went on to be the highest point scorer in the Admiral's Cup. After Allen sold Imp, he continued to be involved in various aspects of the sport - most recently with the San Francisco YC's America's Cup Challenge.
Allen is missed by all those who knew him - especially crew members who had raced with him aboard Improbable and Imp during a 30 year commitment to ocean racing.
Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland
Readers - Perhaps because of modesty, Holland underplays the significance of Imp. Because of Allen's inspired ownership and selection of outstanding - and mostly Northern Californian - crew, she went on to become one of sailing's historic racing boats.
KEEP THE BOAT SIMPLE AND LIGHT
Many thanks to the Wanderer and others of the Ha-Ha staff from the crew of Zia for a 'race' well done. We all had tons of fun! Thanks also for the awards, which we won because we kept the boat simple, light, and fast.
You might be interested in the enclosed obituary about my grandfather Paul Hartley, who was well known in San Diego in the '50s and '60s for taking everyone from landlubbers to admirals out sailing aboard his crowded PC 8 Wings. After he died one of his friends remarked that more people had been out on his boat than on the Coronado Ferry.
I not only learned to sail from my grandfather, but learned to enjoy sailing in light air. Part of it was because we sailed in San Diego where there isn't much wind, and partly because Wings didn't have an engine.
Some people really enjoy seeing other people happy - that was my grandpa. Strangely enough, the Wanderer reminds me of him!
Zia, Morgan 38
Readers - Over 170 boats signed up for Ha-Ha IV. While Hartley's Zia was last in alphabetical order, she was declared the top competitor for not only sailing fast, but also for motoring the least.
HARBORS SOLD OUT?
How about a little help with anchorages along the Southern California coast? We have a one week bareboat charter set up starting July 5 from San Diego. Our goal is to visit Catalina Island and visit the sights along the way.
A few years back I rented a motorhome in San Francisco to take our family on a trip down Highway 1 - again to see the sights. When we pulled into a state park campground the first night, I was surprised to learn that all the spaces were rented, not only for that night, but for the entire summer! Are we likely to find harbors such as Oceanside, Dana Point, and Newport Beach sold out with no room to anchor? If so, can you suggest alternative spots?
Finally, we certainly enjoy Latitude here in Illinois, especially when the snow begins to fall. We plan to sign up for the Ha-Ha in '99, so don't stop doing it!
Jan and Bill Lovton
Satisfaction, Hunter 30
Jan & Bill - The fact that you'll be starting just after the end of the insane July 4th weekend is all in your favor. We don't expect that you'd have much trouble finding a spot at Mission Bay, Oceanside, Dana Point, Newport Beach or Long Beach. Catalina shouldn't be a problem either, especially since you'll probably be arriving before the start of the weekend.
As for anchoring possibilities, the sad truth is there aren't many spots. You can drop the hook at Mission Bay's Mariner's Cove, off Dana Point, sometimes in Newport Harbor, and off Long Beach.
Last year we ran a guide to the northern part of Southern California. This spring we'll continue that guide as far south as Ensenada.
JUST SIXTEEN AND NO LUCK
You guys have the best rag on the planet, and if it weren't for you, I'd go crazy during the no sailing months of winter!
But I need your help. I'm trying to find a position as crew for the upcoming Pacific Cup, but I've had no luck. I've tried everything I can think of - and even sent Bill Lee some e-mail asking if he had any ideas. I'll fill out the crew form in the new Latitude, but I still don't know if it will help much. It seems to me that most owners are a bit wary of taking a 16-year-old with no ocean experience.
I've been told that it should be easy to find a position, but I haven't had an easy time. I can sail, but I don't have very many chances to get on big boats in lots of wind. Besides, I'm a lake sailor. Any suggestion where I might look for a berth?
Paul - Welcome to the realization that the world isn't fair. If you were a cute 16-year-old girl, you'd probably get your choice of berths.
But you're not, and we're not going to lie and tell you that your chances are good. They're not because you're pretty young, because you don't have ocean or big boat experience, and because you probably don't have a couple of grand to throw in the pot.
Here's the way to optimize your chances: Assuming you live somewhere near the ocean, do anything you can to get big boat and ocean experience. Sign up on all the Crew Lists and do up a nice resume - even of non-sailing stuff - including a nice photo. Volunteer to help prepare the boat and help deliver her home for free. But your best chance will be as a last-minute replacement crew. So have your seabag packed and be walking the docks in the days and even hours before the various starts. People admire those who persevere even when things look the bleakest.
If you still get shut out, we suggest you fly to Hawaii and be ready to deliver a boat home. When the next Pacific Cup rolls around in 2000, you'll be 18 and an experienced ocean sailor. You'll know people by then and should be in like Flint for 2000. The best of luck to you!
Oh yeah, about the world not being fair? It sort of equals out in the end because as we humans age, guys tend to get the better of the deal - other than the fact they tend to die younger.
FROM COMPTON TO CABO
What a surprise I had when I opened last September's Latitude to see a photograph of Clione wrecked on the beach in Cabo San Lucas. My uncle Bud had built the double-ended Atkins design on a vacant lot in Compton in 1941. I remember spending many great weekends aboard her at the Isthmus on Catalina Island when I was a young boy.
After my uncle died in '71, my aunt sold Clione. The new owner refitted her with new stainless rigging and a diesel engine for cruising purposes. In December of '92, our family was saddened to learn that Clione has been caught in a storm and washed ashore at Cabo San Lucas. She may be gone, but we'll never forget the good times we had aboard her.
For the last nine years my family and I have been going to Catalina aboard Clione II, our Fisher 30. We also read your magazine every month; it's the best.
Tim - In the course of publishing Latitude for more than two decades, we've taken more than 50,000 photographs. For whatever reason, the one of Clione on the beach in Cabo really made an impression on us.
A SINGLEHANDED FARALLONES RACE
Hello. My name is Rich DeAngelis, and I'm the new owner of an old Cal-24 #176 berthed in Berkeley. I think Latitude is great - and probably the best place to find the answer to my question.
I remember reading somewhere about a singlehanded race to the Farrallones and back, and would like to get some information about this event. It will take me awhile get my skill level - and boat - up to something like that, but I'd nonetheless like to make it a short term goal.
I'm 38 years old and haven't raced or even sailed in 22 years. The last time was M scows on Barnegat Bay in central New Jersey. It's going to be great to be back on the water, even if my boat and sailing abilities are a little rusty. I plan on having both in much better condition by this summer.
I searched the Latitude calendar for information on the Singlehanded Farallones, but didn't see any mention of it. So where to I go for further information.
P.S. My boat's name is Birutinha - the 'h' sounds like 'y' - and means 'little wind sock' Portuguese. My Brazilian wife's nickname is Biruta, which is a nice way of saying someone is a little flighty.
Rich - What you want to do is pick up a copy of the just distributed Northern California Sailing Calendar and YRA Master Schedule, which is published annually by Latitude 38. This year's 48-page edition includes a master calendar, all the important organizations with their phone numbers, the basic racing rules, and information on how to sign up for races and other events. Like Latitude, it's free, but only while supplies last. For the sake of the environment and other sailors, please take one copy only.
If you look through the Northern California Sailing Calendar, you'll see that the Singlehanded Farallones, sponsored by the Singlehanded Sailing Society, will be held on March 21. Call Paul Miller at 924-0767 for further details. You might also be interested in the Doublehanded Farallones on April 18, an event sponsored by the Bay Area Multihull Association. Call John Cocol at (510) 521-7857 for details.
We know that we don't have to remind you that the Gulf of the Farallones can be many times more challenging that sailing in protected waters. Boats and lives have been lost. While it's certainly possible to do the Singlehanded Farallones with a Cal 24, please make sure that you and your boat are well-prepared.
HE IS A CIVIL SERVANT
I'm writing in reference to Capt. Frank Lukowski's letter in the December issue, the one in which he whines about how his salary as a Port of Los Angeles pilot is lower than that of some other port pilots in the world.
What Capt. Lukowski failed to mention is, unlike virtually all other harbor pilots in the United States - and for that matter, the world - he is a civil servant represented by the international longshoreman's union. As such, he and his fellow Port of Los Angeles pilots may have lower salaries than others, but they are entitled to coverage for health, retirement and disability - as well as having job security and who knows what else. Pilots in the nearby Port of Long Beach are indeed paid more, but they work for an independent contractor which presumably does not provide the full range of civil service benefits to their pilots.
While I work in a maritime-related industry in the Bay Area, it has nothing to do with pilots anywhere, so I have no axe to grind. I also have the utmost respect for the skill and professionalism demonstrated by port pilots every day. I just don't like whiners who only relate part of the story.
Chanteuse, Catalina 38
Readers - We can't remember how we got on this subject in the first place, but we can report that the pilots and Los Angeles Harbor came to a labor agreement several months ago. The pilots, who had reportedly been making $113,000 a year, wanted a $72,000 raise. They didn't get all of it.
While we're on the subject, we might as well mention that there was a Wall Street Journal article a few months ago on the mind-boggling influence the waterfront unions have in Japan. The unions call the shots when it comes to where and when ships dock and how hard and how often union members work - and the government is powerless to do anything about it. The capricious nature of the union's job rules damn near caused a disastrous trade war between the United States and Japan a few months back. According the Journal article, the Japanese unions acquired such power by having previously made good on threats of injury and even death against Japanese government officials. Extortion of that nature, of course, is not unknown in Japan, where mobsters are known to shake down even the biggest corporations.
PRODUCTS GUARANTEED FOREVER
In 1984, when my wife and I bought our 32-foot cutter Yankee Lady, we also bought a pair of waterproof Bushnell binoculars with a built-in compass. Those binoculars accompanied us when we left San Francisco for nearly three years and 15,000 miles of South Pacific cruising. When we sold Yankee Lady in Japan, we made sure the binoculars stayed with us.
This past summer, on a trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, an eyepiece fell off the binoculars. I sent them back to Bushnell for repair, fully expecting - and more than willing - to pay for the service. After all, they were 16 years old and had hard use. Instead of repairing them, Bushnell sent us a new - and improved - pair at no charge.
Don't you just love a company that means it when it says their products are guaranteed forever?
Robert - Yes, we do.
THEY WERE TAKING THE BOAT TO CAPE HORN
I sailed across the Pacific to Tahiti with Richard and Sheri Crowe aboard Alaska Eagle just prior to the launching of their Polar Mist. They were taking the boat to southern Chile and Cape Horn for charters with Orange Coast College. Where are they now and what's happening to Polar Mist.
Dan - Rich and Sheri spent two seasons sailing southern Chile, Cape Horn and Antarctica. After 29,000 miles in 16 months, they and Polar Mist are back in Newport Beach. Later this year they'll be taking Alaska Eagle from Panama to Europe.
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