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BOAT BREAK-IN AT SOUTH BEACH

We keep our boat at South Beach Harbor in San Francisco. On August 22, we found she'd been broken into and expensive tools and equipment stolen. Since our boat has a full cover and all the snaps were closed when we arrived, we were quite surprised. The thieves must have been aboard for more than a few minutes, as every drawer, no matter how small or remote, had been opened.

Among the things missing were a spare key to the marina gate and bolt cutters used to cut shrouds in the event of a dismasting. The marina key had been in a drawer with many other keys. The thieves must have recognized its distinctive appearance, because they only took that one key. I suspect they already had a key and used it to gain access to the marina. With that key, they can return to the marina any time they want - or perhaps sell it to another thief for quick cash.

We work on our boat frequently, so we had an extensive collection of tools. Most of them were stolen, as were a camera, handheld radio, and navigation gear. In addition, forks and knives were scattered about, as were packets of gauze from the First Aid kit. Empty sardine and cola cans were littered about the cabin and the toilet contained unflushed human waste.

We went to the Harbormaster's Office and informed Peter of the break-in and theft - and suggested that they install cameras at each gate or at least change the keys to the marina. We also strongly suggested that he notify other boatowners so that they could remove televisions, computers and other expensive items they may be keeping on their boats. Peter said it would be too expensive to change all the gate keys after such a relatively minor incident. He also indicated that it was unlikely that the marina would even notify boatowners.

If nothing else, we hope our letter lets South Beach Harbor tenants know that they should be aware of the problem, and that thieves almost certainly have a key to the gate. For all we know, other boats have been broken into but the owners have yet to discover it.

Later we discovered that a nearby powerboat had also been broken into - by thieves who had used our bolt cutters to gain entry. Mark, the owner of the boat, told us he'd been at a nearby party until 0400 on the previous Friday, when he decided to stop by his boat. In the process, he interrupted the robbers, who managed to get away with most of an expensive six-speaker stereo system. However, they left behind a bag of stolen goods that included part of his stereo - and many other items that were not his. We, for instance, recovered our sail bag, bolt cutters, wine corkscrew, sun block, swim shorts, overalls, and herbal tea bags from the bag left on his boat. But none of our expensive items were recovered.

Things got stranger still. Shortly after noon I was talking to a couple on the dock when two very odd young men sauntered down. They didn't have the demeanor or dress of folks you usually see on the dock. In any event, they walked past the two robbed boats, turned around, and came back. When Mark saw them, he telephoned marina security. But one of the young men became very belligerent, shouting at people around him. "Hey, what are you staring at, man?" he'd say. Or, "Don't stare at me, man!"

When the two young men approached me, one of them looked at me and said, "I didn‰t do it, so why are you staring at me?" This seemed oddly revealing as nobody had mentioned a burglary. Several more times he said, "I didn‰t do it, so why are you staring at me?!" His remarks were so repetitious that he may have been delirious from drugs. He persisted by saying, "Haven‰t you ever seen a black guy before?" Finally, he threatened me by saying that he had a gun.

Just then, two policemen finally arrived. The guy who claimed to have a gun was apprehended, but the other guy got away. The captured guy was arrested by the police on the misdemeanor charge of trespassing. He protested that his friend had let him into the marina with a key. So apparently the other guy, a thin man with red hair, has the marina key.

I suppose that technically it's not a crime to be hostile, rude, and claim that you have a gun. As it turned out, the guy didn't have a gun. And if the guy didn't have any stolen items on him - it looked as though he didn't - there would be no way to link him to the crime. But I instinctively felt that these two were the thieves. They were so drugged up that they apparently didn't realize that a Saturday afternoon, when docks are full of boatowners, is a very poor time to return for bagged stolen goods. I suspect they didn't even know what day of the week it was.

We meticulously varnish our teak, so we were grateful to discover that there were just a few scratches in it and no real damage to the boat itself. We now realize that a full boat cover makes a boat both an inviting home to the homeless and a protective cover for thieves. We'll be a lot more careful about leaving valuable items aboard and are considering installing a boat alarm that goes off when the entry is opened.

My husband spent all day cleaning the boat and trying to figure out what was missing. It‰s hard to remember all the things that were on the boat, but there are a lot of empty spaces in drawers and closets. Our life-jackets, winch handles, and sufficient sails were still aboard, however, so the next day we were able to enjoy a beautiful day of sailing.

Name Withheld By Request
South Beach Harbor

N.W.B.R. - The unfortunate truth is that boats will almost always remain vulnerable to thieves. Even in the case of South Beach Marina - which has unusually secure entrances - people are let in by others, and there's always the problem of access from the water.

In our estimation, the best protections are provided by: 1) A 'Marina Watch' program supported by a large number of nosy liveaboards, 2) An effective boat lock, and 3) An alarm system. Even these won't stop the determined and knowledgable thieves, but they'll deter most.

NEVER HEARD FROM AGAIN

On April 4th of this year, Australian singlehander Ross Allen set out from the Galapagos Islands for Hiva Oa in the Marquesas aboard his 36-foot sloop Ariaka. He kept a high-frequency radio schedule several times daily with approximately 12 other yachts making the same crossing. On his sixth day out, at approximately 3¡S 109¡W, he reported on his 0830 local sked that conditions were fine, the wind was blowing at 15 knots, that fishing vessels had been sighted in the area, and that all was fine. He was never heard from again.

Four of the yachts crossing made a search for Allen without success. The USAF‰s Pacific Rescue Coordination Center was contacted, as this area is in the United States area of responsibility for Search & Rescue. The case was assigned Incident #155-98. They had the Coast Guard put out Notices to Mariners to be on the lookout for Ariaka, and through AMVERS located a commercial vessel in the area to request a search. They also asked the National Security Agency to be on the lookout for the vessel with their satellite surveillance activities. Aircraft were requested for a search but none were provided.

Nothing was seen or heard.

Then on August 21, the Danish merchantman Jorgen Lauritzen reported that it had found Ariaka adrift at 14¡47'N, 110¡04'W - 1,000 miles north of where she'd disappeared. Nobody was aboard. Her sails were hoisted but in tatters, and there was "damage to the rigging and rudder trunk." A boat was launched and two men went aboard to investigate. Ariaka was positively identified by her permanently affixed documentation numbers. All the boat's electronics had been removed. Clothing was strewn about the cabin.

The Lauritzen reported her findings to the Coast Guard in California. The Pacific Rescue Control Center reported that the Coast Guard was sending a vessel to investigate.

As piracy is of vital interest to cruisers, I ask that Latitude assist by asking the Coast Guard for as thorough an investigation as is possible. Ross‰ wife, Noeline, a resident of Australia, has asked me to be her representative in this matter for actions occurring in the United States.

Bob Torson
Former owner, yacht
Ranger
Oregon

Bob - If you can recommend any specific actions that we or our readers could take to make sure the investigation is as thorough as possible, please let us know. But in all honesty, we can't remember the last time we heard of a case of piracy in the South Pacific, and the evidence you cite isn't necessarily indicative of piracy. So while it might have been a case of piracy, it also may have been a tragic case of Allen being knocked overboard and later the obviously empty boat being looted.

THE DUBIOUS PLEASURE

My wife and I were in Mazatlan, where we had the dubious pleasure of staying at Marina Mazatlan for a few days while waiting for a slip at Marina El Cid - the one Marina Mazatlan uses in its brochures and in John Rains' cruising guide. We and a number of other cruisers found the since-fired Harbormaster Dick Markie to be a self-serving, self-centered and arrogant individual who was short with his clients and had the people skills of a sack of hammers. It was reported to us that the cruisers were so fed up with waiting for power and water that they, not Markie, were the ones who put it in.

In our opinion, Markie has an obvious dislike for women - and on one occasion barely escaped bodily injury after offending my wife. Furthermore, Marina Mazatlan had the audacity to charge cruisers $6.50/foot - with no facilities to speak of, just dirt. Marina El Cid - which has two pools, a hot tub, a five-star restaurant, a pool bar, and staff and management that would be the envy of any establishment - charges just $7.00/ft. The only thing Marina El Cid didn't have was a dog licking his nuts in the noonday sun.

When we were getting ready to leave Mazatlan, we heard one desperate cruiser ask the morning net for help cleaning up the garbage and empties from the marina's parking lot. We were there, folks, and we're sorry, but we couldn't leave fast enough.

If you're going to print articles like He Left His Markie On Mazatlan, you shouldn‰t let the fact that Latitude‰s trimaran was tied up there - probably for free - get in the way of the true facts. I had to post that article on our web page and give Latitude the credit for running it. It's very funny.

Barry Gaudin
Spellbinder I
Vancouver, Canada

Barry - Such vitriol from a Canadian!

Whether you like Markie or not - and obviously you don't - it would be silly to deny that he, working with few resources, 'made' both Marina Mazatlan and Mazatlan as a cruising destination. We've published several letters from cruisers who lavishly thanked Markie for his hospitality, assistance and - in several instances - for saving boats from destruction and crews from injury and/or death. One couple even threatened to boycott the marina because Markie was fired. We didn't have space to publish all the letters in praise and support of Markie, but given the number of letters we've received and the dramatic increase in tenants during Markie's tenure, it's clear that yours is a minority opinion.

While Markie was an extremely popular harbormaster with most cruisers, he could be curt - and readily admitted to not suffering fools that didn't appreciate that Mexico and Mexican culture is different from the United States and gringo culture. As such, in our article we repeatedly referred to Markie's management style as "take-charge," and noted that he "ran the marina as though it were a big ship and he was the captain on duty 24 hours a day." While such a management style wasn't going to appeal to everyone, in our estimation it's what was needed to get the operation off the ground.

If Markie indeed insulted your wife, we, on behalf of the sailing industry, would like to offer our apologies to her. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Of course, that extends to those accused of something. As such, we think it's unfair and irresponsible for you to accuse Markie of "disliking women" without offering any specific evidence.

Although it seems you're from the 'anyone-who-doesn't-hate-my-enemies-is-an-enemy-of-mine' school, we'd like to make a couple of clarifications to prevent you from continuing to make some foolish mistakes. 1) A trimaran has three hulls while a catamaran has only two. If you're a sailor and had actually seen our boat, surely you would have known the difference. 2) As has been the case with all the boats we've ever owned, Latitude's charterboat paid the published rate for berthing at Marina Mazatlan. By the way, this was 1/7th of what we paid at Cabo Isle Marina, where yes, we also paid the published rate - despite leading more than 100 Ha-Ha boats to that facility.

You are absolutely correct, however, when you contrast the grounds and facilities at Marina Mazatlan and Marina El Cid. The former is rather barren with the most basic of facilities. El Cid, on the other hand, is beautifully landscaped and has all kinds of first class amenities. Small wonder that many Marina Mazatlan tenants frequently wander over to El Cid in their dinghies.

BOOBIES ON THE BOW

For years I've been waiting for you to do a story about boobies on boats, and you finally did it with The Battle Of The Boobies in the September issue.

The reason I've been waiting is the enclosed photograph, which was taken in May of '94 aboard my boat Barefoot while underway from Huatulco, Mexico, to Cocos Island, Costa Rica. Late one night I was able to get a picture of two red-footed boobies perched on the bow pulpit - together with a rarely photographed literate white-footed double-breasted boobie sitting on the deck. It was a pleasant diversion on a long, light-air passage.

I hope you‰ll share my view that this picture merits a couple of Latitude T-shirts. The need for at least one is obvious.

David Content

Friday Harbor, WA

David - We rarely award Latitude T-shirts anymore, but the Wanderer decided that your subject, for demonstrating the joys of not being overdressed in the tropical heat, is truly deserving. Alas, Doša de Mallorca, the judge of all men's T-shirt requests, turned you down. "No skin, no win," was all she said.

RADIO TEST BY TORTURE

While cruising down the Pacific Coast of Baja last December, my wife, son and I stopped in at Bahia Tortuga for what turned out to be a two-month stay. One dark evening, we took the dinghy ashore to partake in the local Carnival festivities. As we stepped out of the dinghy into the shallow water along the beach, my wife realized that she'd dropped our hand-held VHF radio into the surf.

We searched for the submerged radio with borrowed flashlights, but with no success. At this point, I mentally wrote off the radio as lost at sea - but decided to check the beach in the morning at low tide just in case. We also put the word out that our radio had escaped and asked the cruisers and some of the locals to keep their eyes open for it.

When I couldn't find the radio in the surf the next morning, I figured that was the end of the story. But three days later I heard a knocking on our hull. It was a local who had found my radio that morning during his morning walk along the beach. He'd then rowed out to our boat to return it.

Since the radio had now been in the water for three days, I figured that all reasonable limits of "moisture resistance" would have been exceeded. Having no expectation of the radio ever working again, I was shocked to hear the unit 'beep' when I turned it on! I hosed out the sand from the speaker grill and tried it again - and it worked. After three days in the surf! The only noticeable damage was a slight scuffing of the case.

This Uniden HH-940 served us well for the remaining six months of our cruise. I'm not one for frivolous endorsements, but having passed the accidental 'torture test', I think the radio proved that it can survive far more than what should be required of marine electronics. Kudos to Uniden for putting out a radio that can survive normal cruising conditions . . . and more.

Bruce Smith
Argonauta, Yorktown 39

RATES ARE REASONABLE

After seeing an ad for the Port Sonoma Marina in the August issue, we decided to check it out. We found that the dredging in the main harbor is almost complete and boats are moving in. So we moved our boat there a couple of weeks ago.

Although the facilities are still being renovated, we've found Port Sonoma Marina to be a pleasant, quiet place to keep our boat while we prepare it for long-term cruising. There is electricity and water, good security, heads and showers. If you plan around the tides, it's only a couple of hours to Angel Island.

One of the big attractions, of course, is that the rates are very reasonable, and there are various promotions to encourage mariners to consider berthing their boats here. They'll even let visitors tie up free for three days! For folks looking for alternatives to high-priced fancy marinas, it might be worth dropping by.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the people that it's been my privilege to introduce to sailing through my work at Cass' Marina and the Modern Sailing Academy. I hope they learned as much from me as I did from them, and I look forward to meeting them in the future while we're both out there 'doing it'.

By the time this reaches print, we'll be heading south to spend a couple of months fattening up the cruising kitty in Southern California, then quickly move through Mexico and the Canal to spend some time in the San Blas Islands. After that, we'll move on up to the British Virgins to do more deliveries for The Moorings. After that, it would be fun to sail across 'the pond' to Sweden to visit Joell's relatives.

Capt. Jonathan and First Mate Joell White
JoJo, Catfisher 32
Ex-Petaluma, ex-Sausalito, and ex-Port Sonoma

GETTING HIGH - NATURALLY

I was told that you had an article some time ago about flying - dunking? - someone with a spinnaker. I've seen it from afar and wonder if I can coerce you into faxing me a copy of the article? Someone said that maybe it appeared in the July '97 or July '96 issue. Boy, that narrows it down!

Ken Kloeber
Not Sure Where

Ken - We've unfortunately got too much to do to serve as readers' personal search engines, but here's the basics on what's commonly called spinnaker flying:

1) Securely anchor your boat from astern.

2) Tie a spinnaker sheet between two clews of an old spinnaker. The line should be about 1.5 times the distance between the clews - although you'll need to adjust it according to the wind strength.

3) Run the line between the clews through a snatch block, then attach the shackle end of the snatch block to the top of your bosun's chair.

4) Attach a line that's two times the length of the spinnaker luff to one clew. This will be the emergency line to bring a 'flyer' down fast.

5) Hoist the chute about 3/4's of the way up - or whatever height so it can't collapse close enough to the boat to slam a 'flyer' into the bow.

6) Once the chute is hoisted, it should be billowing out well beyond the bow of the boat and the bosun's chair should be dangling in the water. If it's particularly windy, you have to pull the emergency line to collapse the chute to lower the chair into the water.

7) The would-be flyer swims out to the chair, climbs in, and only then begins to center himself/herself between the two clews. Assuming there's enough wind, a centered flyer will be gently lifted into the air. If there's lots of wind, a light flyer will almost instantly be launched as high as the mast or even higher.

8) For added fun, the rider works himself off center to one side and then the other, which results in long arcing rides from one side of the boat to the other - and sometimes jerks the stern anchor free. A good flyer can perform many stunts.

9) When the rider is done or freaks out, they simply pull themselves all the way to one side of the chute, collapsing it. If the flyer is too addled to bring themselves down, whoever is standing watch on the boat pulls hard on the emergency line, which also collapses the chute and quickly drops the rider into the water.

In gentle conditions, carefully orchestrated and supervised spinnaker flying is suitable for everyone who is a good swimmer and in decent shape. As the wind speed increases, however, the need for caution and the risk increase dramatically. Strong puffy winds are the most dangerous, as they can easily lead to tremendous free falls followed by abrupt vertical ascents.

The main dangers of normal spinnaker flying are getting fingers crushed in the snatch blocks holding the bosun's chair up, free falls wrenching backs, and flyers slamming into a forward part of the boat because the chute was hoisted too high.

For samples of this kind of fun, see this month's Changes. Have fun - but be careful!

VILE AND DISGUSTING ACTIVITY CALLED 'WORK'

Let it be known to all men, that as of 1500 - commonly referred to by landlocked individuals as 3:00 p.m. - on the 14th day of the month of August in the year of Our Lord 1998, Leo Bradshaw will have permanently and forever ceased and desisted from the practice of that vile and disgusting activity called 'work'. He shall never again engage in any activity or event that might be described as 'toil', 'labor', or 'employment' performed for wages, nor shall he be referred to as a 'worker', 'workman', 'employee', 'laborer' or by any title except 'captain' or 'skipper' of the sailing vessel Windwalker.

Be it also known to all men that from this day forward it is forbidden that any day be called a 'workday', and no activity shall be described as 'getting some work done'. The holiday named 'Labor Day' will not be observed, and will be deleted from the ship's calendar.

Therefore, let it be known that Capt. Bradshaw, being of sound mind and body, has commanded that these terms and conditions be set in stone and are therefore irrevocable and irreversible! From this day hence the captain and his lovely first mate, "Have no schedule and are going to stick to it!"

Capt. Leo F. Bradshaw
Aboard
Windwalker
El Cerrito

Capt. Leo - At ease, sir.

I LIKE TALKING TO SURVIVORS

You probably won‰t remember me, but you may remember our old catamaran Odysseus as we made our way down the coast of Mexico as part of the Ha-Ha '97 fleet. I visited the mother ship Profligate several times, and ended up taking stuff the Wanderer and Doša de Mallorca had collected to the kids of La Paz.

As some folks knew, our journey wasn't just about cruising or sailing. We'd bought Odysseus in the summer of '96 and promised that we'd leave on a cruise in the fall of '97. But just months after buying the boat, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of throat cancer.

While others weren't certain we should still make the trip to Mexico, there were two things that kept me going during my radiation treatments: 1) My faith, and 2) The thought of cruising Mexico with my wife and two children. For me it wasn't a case of whether we'd still go, but when.

I didn't get around to it right away, but I want to let you know how much the Ha-Ha meant to me during my cancer surgery and recovery. Having enjoyed a wonderful season of cruising in Mexico with my wife and two children, I'm now back in the 'real world', envious of the folks preparing for Ha-Ha '98 and remembering how it was for us a year ago.

On August 1, the Arizona Republic, the biggest newspaper in the state, had a feature story about our cruise, including the aerial photograph of us and our boat by Ha-Ha photographer Tom Lyons. We really enjoyed the article and the 'notoriety' we've gained among our friends since it came out. I‰ve been asked to speak at a Rotary meeting, and various wannabe cruisers and cancer survivors have called the reporter to get in touch with me. It‰s enjoyable for the most part, and I particularly like talking to the cancer survivors.

In any event, thanks for giving me the opportunity to take my first cruise with the guidance of the Ha-Ha, and thank you for your efforts to promote and share this lifestyle with as many folks as you can. I may get to sail down on the Ha-Ha this year with some friends, or I may be 'too busy' - although I'm trying not to let that happen. I may also do some sailing in southern Mexico and perhaps a South Pacific passage this spring with other ex-Ha-Ha'ers.

Monte Berget
Odysseus; For Sale, But Not Forgotten

Monte - Sure we remember you and Odysseus - particularly that first night out of Turtle Bay, when we were sailing a broad reach together in very light winds for a couple of hours before sundown. The sky was clear, it was still warm and all was serene. We're thrilled that dreams of the Ha-Ha and the Ha-Ha itself seem to have made your problems a little more bearable, and if you're too busy to make this year's Ha-Ha, we'll be sure to drink a toast to your health off Turtle Bay.

Your opening paragraph also reminds us to once again ask you readers to consider donating items such as decent used shoes, used sporting gear, office supplies, etc. for us to deliver to kids in Mexico this winter. Any donations will be gladly accepted at either our office, boat or at the upcoming Crew List party. Feel free to call us at (415) 383-8200, ext. 111, if you are concerned about the appropriateness of your contribution or need us to make a pick-up. Thanks!

HULL #0

I read with interest Peter Cullum‰s Ode To George Olson in the August issue, as well as his praise of Mas Rapido, hull #1. In partnership with Jim Hollywood and Bruce Sardone, I was one of the original owners of this fine boat. We bought this first Olson 30 hull - the 'boat show' model - from Olson, then leased it back to him to take to other boat shows. If memory serves me correctly, he termed our boat 'hull #0', with hull #1 being the first actual production boat.

At the time we bought the boat, Jim Hollywood was a sailmaker operating the Dana Point loft for John Conser's Windward Custom Sails, so we had a fabulous sail inventory from the beginning. If we thought we needed a sail to suit a particular race, it was created quickly - sometimes the night before the race! Having a sailmaker for a partner also allowed us to push the sails to the limit, so blown chutes and drifters were a common occurrence.

The 'chicken chute' Cullum referred to was created for either the Newport to Cabo Race or the Long Beach to La Paz Race. To meet the conditions of the race, we also had to install an inboard auxiliary - a Volvo Penta saildrive - and carry a crew of five or six. I heard that the motor was later removed so Mas Rapido could again race one-design in the Newport area for her third owner.

The Mexico races were somewhat grueling as the weather gods served up some abnormal conditions. Instead of off-the-wind sleighrides that everyone anticipated - and in which Olson 30s excel - we had lots of wind on the nose. Nevertheless, it was a pleasure to load the boat on her trailer and return home in days rather than having to sail her back up the Baja peninsula. As we loaded the boat up in La Paz near the trophy presentation site, we got more than a few wistful looks from other owners and crews!

Mas Rapido was very dominant on the Dana Point racing scene during the years we campaigned her - despite the PHRF handicappers consistently lowering of our rating after each successful season. The handicapper finally prevailed, however, and the boat was no longer competitive under PHRF. The only serious competition during Mas Rapido‰s initial years came from other Olson 30s and from Hobie 33s. Nonetheless, we prevailed more often than not and left the racing scene with an impressive winning record.

I was pleased to read Cullum's letter and learn that Mas is still providing thrills, chills, and good times for her owners. Owning and racing her certainly provided some of the highlights - ranging from euphoria to absolute terror - of my sailing career.

I currently own the Peterson 44 cutter Esmeralda, which I'm currently getting in shape for a bit of extended cruising. Jim Hollywood has a Columbia 52, Gypsy, which he plans to take on his second circumnavigation. Bruce Sardone still owns Mas Rapido II, the custom racer we built on a Lancer 36 hull with modified keel/rudder and significantly enhanced rig and sailplan. We're all still in Dana Point and still sailing hard - albeit on vessels a bit slower and less exciting than Mas Rapido.

James N. Senechal
Dana Point

James - If we remember correctly, you guys and Mas Rapido were one of only six finishers in the 33-boat La Paz Race of '79 - a race that some participants said was even worse than the killer Fastnet Storm of just a few months before that had claimed 15 lives. When we heard that, we were extremely impressed.

WILD NIGHT AT CHINA CAMP

It was beautiful at San Pablo Bay's China Camp on the Sunday night of Labor Day Weekend. I was sipping champagne with my wife Leigh in the cockpit of our Pearson 33 with our dog Scarlet, whispering about an upcoming Delta trip and how good life is. The full moon, flat water, light breeze and warm air made for one of the best nights we've ever spent on the Bay - until a car drove off the 60-foot cliff about 100 yards from where we were anchored!

Although we could hear the crashing sounds as the car nose-dived down the cliff, we couldn't see it because it wasn't in the moonlight. But somehow I just knew the car had gone off the cliff, so I jumped in our inflatable dink and - armed with a flashlight and cell phone - motored over to the accident scene as fast as I could. I called 911 on the way over and was able to make a report before landing on the shore. I also yelled to the other 40 boats lying at anchor to call the Coast Guard.

When I got to shore, I discovered a black Mercedes convertible sitting upright but leaking fuel and water on the rocky shore and into the Bay. I have extensive First Aid training from a stint as a medic in the National Guard, and although I really didn‰t want to approach the wreck because of a risk of explosion hazard and because of what I might find, I obviously had no choice but to try to help. I crept up on the car and looked inside, but found no bodies. I started scanning the water, under the car, and the rocks around the wreck and the cliff face - but I couldn‰t find anyone.

At this point, I could see that a Coast Guard vessel had arrived. They asked me to come out to their boat. As it turned out, they'd already been in the anchorage dealing with a domestic dispute that apparently ended up with somebody's wife or girlfriend in the water!

In any event, I explained that I couldn‰t find any victims and then reported the leaking fuel. That‰s when the Coasties boarded my little 8.5-foot inflatable, as their large inflatable drew too much for them to get ashore. I rowed them in and let them borrow my flashlight, then took them back to their boat when they finished assessing the situation.

Since I spend about 70 to 80 days a year on the Bay, I figured that eventually I'd get 'boarded' by the Coast Guard - but I didn't figure it would be on my tiny inflatable! The Coasties were pleasant, armed, exhausted - and left boot marks on my deck. As for the car, they figured it was stolen because the radio was missing and no casualties were found. The car must have been dragged back up the hill that night while we were sleeping, because it wasn't there in the morning.

Robert Guinn Viaggio
Pearson 33
San Francisco

Robert - The more time you spend on the Bay, the more amazing things you see. But a tip of the Latitude hat to you for trying to help out.

THE ANSWER IS DONN CAMPION

The Sailing Records article in the August issue was great - fast is fun!

You didn't know who sailed Merlin when she established the Windjammers - San Francisco to Santa Cruz - monohull record back in 1983. Donn Campion was the owner and skipper that year when they averaged 11.1 knots to finish in 5 hours and 59 minutes.

Bill Lee
Santa Cruz

Readers - For those of you who haven't been sailing for long, Bill Lee will always be a sailing giant for two very good reasons: 1) In 1977 he had enough conviction in his ultralight beliefs to build the 67-foot Merlin, a truly magical boat that not only had untold influence on most subsequent yacht design, but also - witness this year's West Marine Pacific Cup - remains a huge threat in any downwind race more than 20 years later; and 2) He delighted in taking everyone - experienced or novice, man or woman, child or adult - out sailing. Indeed, one of the reasons we at Latitude built such a big catamaran as our new charter boat is to give as many people access to sailing as possible. Fast is fun and - as Lee demonstrated - so is sharing the fun with as many others as possible.

A SOARING 'THANK YOU' TO GREY EAGLE

I‰d like to express some deeply-felt gratitude to the crew of the sailing yacht Grey Eagle.

I was part of the embarrassingly unprepared delivery crew aboard the S&S 52 yawl Bounty on her return trip to California following the West Marine Pacific Cup to Hawaii. We found ourselves in a touchy situation when, just 10 days out, we discovered that we'd used up more than half our fresh water supply. At the time, we certainly weren't halfway back to California. It wouldn't have been so bad except that the engine wasn't working and there was very little wind in that part of the Pacific.

The list of things we did wrong on Bounty may have been long, but the competence, kindness and generosity of the Grey Eagle crew covered our mistakes. In so doing, they transformed our passage from what was looking like a survival ordeal into a pleasurable - if long (27 days) - delivery that we could at least enjoy.

We and Grey Eagle had a rendezvous one calm night during which their crew displayed fine seamanship and common sense in managing to transfer us a healthy supply of water, a backup battery, and a handheld VHF that ran on 'normal' batteries. They even took our depleted engine starting battery onboard their vessel, charged it for 12 hours, then transferred it back to us. All in all, they gave us plenty of water and enough electricity to keep our SSB running for the remainder of the trip. In addition, they made phone calls and sent email for us, no doubt easing many a worried mind back on the beach.

I didn‰t have the chance to shake any hands as our boats touched rails out there, but on behalf of the whole Bounty crew, consider this a hearty handshake and heartfelt 'thank you'. Good show, lads, good show!

Bo Day
Berkeley

GOOD CLEAN FUN

As usual, your August '98 issue was wonderful. I'm always amazed that Latitude is free, because you have more useful information than any of the other sailing magazines. But just one thing - specifically the article about the differences between charter monohulls and charter catamarans. On page 198, the author states that "Cats don‰t point to windward nearly as high as monohulls, but on a reach, with plenty of wind, they scream along nicely."

The statement that "cats don‰t point to windward" is not totally accurate, as you must compare apples with apples. The author is correct when he states that the Venezia 42 catamaran wouldn‰t point as high as the Beneteau 500 monohull, but that's because this particular cat - and most other charter cats - have a fixed shallow draft keel on each hull. If you took that same design and gave it two deep and efficient daggerboards, the cat would claw to windward as high as any racing monohull. So why do they leave daggerboards off charter cats? Simplicity, ease of maintenance, and greater interior volume.

It's surprising to me to still hear people saying that multihulls don‰t point. It must be a throwback to the '60s when a lot of hideous 'roomarans' were coming out of backyards. It wasn‰t the designers' fault as much as it was the builders. The builder would look out on that vast open deck and say: "Wow man, look at all that spaaaace! Dude, man, like why don‰t we extend the cabin all the way across?" Forget those multihulls pointing, they couldn't even sail.

Despite all that, there were some excellent multihulls back then that could outperform any monohull on a tack. Twenty-five years ago, for example, I had a 26-ft fiberglass production trimaran with a well-designed pivoting centerboard. I always pissed off the monohull sailors by blowing past them to windward. They would mutter how multihulls can't point while frantically trying to make adjustments. Boy, that was some good clean fun!

Steve Hobbs
San Diego

Steve - It seems to us that two of the things that crippled the multihull movement 25 years ago were gleeful arrogance and exaggeration. Taking delight in pissing someone off is not the way to, as one author noted, make friends and influence people. And wild exaggerations of performance doesn't help either.

It seems to us - owners of both a small racing monohull and a large cruising catamaran - that it's still important not to make foolish claims. Daggerboards, for example, would certainly help charter catamarans point better, but clearly not to the extent that they would allow a Venezia 42 to "point as high as any racing monohull". That's absurd.

On the other hand, it's also important to remember that pointing ability is really of secondary importance to multihulls, as their VMG usually increases significantly by cracking off and dramatically increasing speed.

For what it's worth, a few years ago in the Caribbean we participated in an informal race between a Lagoon 57 catamaran - very wide hulls, no daggerboards, and overweight from five electric heads and other charter amenities - and a modern Beneteau 62 monohull charterboat, also loaded down. We on the catamaran handily beat the monohull sailing on a very broad reach, and the crew said we'd have no trouble in windy reaching either. They cautioned us, however, that the monohull would be clearly superior sailing to weather and in lighter reaching conditions.

MY RAIN GEAR HAS SPENT THE YEAR HANGING

I‰ve followed the recent letters concerning the supposedly short sailing season in the Northwest. I read the first letter in June while anchored off Blake Island State Park. The temperature was in the upper 70s at the time. I read more letters about the short season while sailing the San Juans. It was 90 degrees out on that occasion.

So far this year, we've sailed our Catalina 30 on 51 different days and used our water ski boat on another 15 days. My rain gear has spent most of the year hanging in the head.

Terry M. Dolan
Bainbridge Island

Terry - That's terrific - and so is your record keeping. We've always envied folks who make the effort of recording all the times they take their boats out.

SHATTERED ILLUSIONS

Thanks so much for giving me reason to cancel my subscriptions to the Star and Enquirer. Your in-depth coverage of the petty bickering of distant cruisers brightens each new day with proof that down deep people are still human - even while off sailing to exotic ports. Please continue your excellent documentation of these rumors and half-truths from secondhand sources, as they make my mundane life here on the Bay so much more enjoyable by knowing that other people have to put up with chicken shit stuff. Otherwise I would have to continue dreaming of far away lands filled with smiling beauties and keep my hopes of a better life intact.

Jay Kimmal
Orca
Alameda

Jay - While we're not interested in dwelling unnecessarily on the negative aspects of cruising, we feel we'd be irresponsible if we didn't at least periodically acknowledge them. Fortunately for those of you who don't like reality - petty human squabbles, accidents and even death - there are plenty of boating magazines more than happy to indulge your fantasy world.

SAILING WITH CHILDREN

As parents of one-year-old twins, we're wondering if/how people sail with small children? Is there a good book detailing how to secure them below when necessary, and above if possible? Do we need absolutely need a third person? My hunch is that we do. Does common sense dictate that we just get a babysitter and go sailing without them until they are three or four? Obviously people cruise with children, but they really don't have a choice.

We've outgrown our current boat, which only has five feet of headroom and a cabin sole just two feet wide, but if she doesn't sell, we may have to try to make it work. Can it?

We loved the article on Zulu in the September issue; Julia is my hero!

Kathy Bagnell
Leilani, Lapworth 24
Hermosa Beach

Kathy - More than a few couples have circumnavigated with one or more infants - on boats under 25 feet. And we have South African friends in the Caribbean who circumnavigated with five youngsters on a 30-footer. So the question is not whether it can be done, but whether you can sail with your kids and still enjoy it despite the extra work and responsibility.

When our kids - now nearly 18 and 16 - were young, we did the combo thing. Sometimes we took them and sometimes we got a babysitter so we could sail without them. But since our memories are no longer fresh on taking the kids sailing with us, perhaps our readers with youngsters would be willing to share their opinions and tips.

SELF-SERVING GARBAGE

Did I hear right? Did you rate the NOAA.com website as a '10'? Out of what, 1,000? Please tell me you just glanced at the site, thought it looked like a good idea, and that you didn‰t actually read most of the self-serving garbage Jim Warner, aka 'Swabby & Jaime', writes for and about himself. And please, please, tell me you didn‰t actually pay him to mention Latitude - Oh wait, I know you didn‰t because he didn‰t link to you. He only links to magazines that pay him.

I don‰t know about you, but I personally feel that NOAA.com is an example of how not to use the internet. I mean please, the 'Network of Ocean and Air Associates'. Oh yeah, it just happens to have the same initials as a certain well-known government agency that we all know and usually love. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, 'scummy is as scummy does'. Enough ranting; thanks for listening.

Alan Street
Out There

Alan - Nobody here can find or recall any review in Latitude - positive or negative - of NOAA.com. The site address would appear to be an attempt to trick folks into visiting by making them think they were actually getting NOAA. In the world of cyberspace, such tactics are common because there are far too many sites with basically the same information and services trying to attract the attention of too small a pool of visitors.

As for the NOAA.com site itself, it didn't seem significantly better or worse than a thousand other sailing sites. We sure wouldn't give it a '10', but we wouldn't give it a '0' either.

COLE TO THE RESCUE

In the September Letters, reader Mike Herold asked for advice on replacing a lost Cal 24 'swing keel' - actually a centerboard. As the former longtime writer of the Cal 24 Association newsletter, I have answered such requests many times. I have detailed drawings which have been successfully used by numerous steel fabricators to duplicate the original part.

Unfortunately, Herold‰s 'Southern California' address is a bit too vague for a direct reply. Can you furnish me with his address?

Steve Cole
444 Schooner Way, Seal Beach, CA 90740

Steve - Thanks for being such a help. Unfortunately, we don't have it in our records, maybe because we lost it, but very probably because he didn't include it. You'd be surprised how often that happens, especially with email letters. But we're sure he'll read your response or have some friend read it to him.

A SELF-ASSURED YOUNG MAN OF ABOUT FIVE

I was enjoying one of my preferred pastimes when, in the June Changes, I came across the reference to Beau Soleil and "a young Californian who sailed a Columbia 24 around the world." The people you were trying to remember were Mike Riley, his wife Karen, and their son Falcon.

Several years ago, on a general recommendation from Latitude, my wife Marilyn and I flew from our home in Portland to spend a week with the Riley family on Beau Soleil on the inland waterway. A fine time we had, too. But just to clarify your story, Mike met Karen in New Zealand. As I understand it, Falcon was conceived somewhere in the Indian Ocean, but was actually born in Malta. Yet another story, but you get the idea.

As a follow-up to this story, I had the opportunity to later read a book, Sailing the Golden Sea, The Adventures of Two Sunset Sailors, by local author Paul Keller. In the book - also a good read - Keller refers to "a young couple from San Diego who were on a circumnavigation aboard a 24-foot motorless boat. (Mike dumped the outboard early on when it would no longer serve its purpose.) They agreed to help us even though Karen was seven months pregnant."

While Keller didn't refer to the Rileys by their name, I suspected it was them. Keller confirmed it was the Rileys when I called to compliment him on his book. So there you have it, another story tied together. In the meantime, I've been waiting a long time for another report from the Rileys to appear in Latitude.

By the way, when we visited the Rileys, Falcon was a fine, self-assured, young man of about five. As a matter of fact, one of his first duties was to singlehandedly lead Marilyn and I on a tour of the Beaufort Museum. He also had a Lego collection that would have the envy of most other kids his age.

Looking for another good book? Try another one by Paul Keller, Sailing the Inland Seas, Further Adventures of Two Sunset Sailors. This one chronicles their circumnavigation of the eastern United States.

Dennis & Marilyn Scheuermann
Portland

MAKE IT EASIER TO GET MARINE WIDGETS

My family and I just finished a five-year circumnavigation, put the boat up for sale in Florida, and placed ads in a number of magazines and on the web. Since the boat was located in Florida and we had a Florida phone number, we were surprised that most of our calls came from Latitude! In any event, the boat sold before we could get our land legs.

When we left on our trip, we cancelled all our periodicals because of the mailing expense - except for Latitude and the Seven Seas Cruising Association Bulletin. We also found old issues of Latitude all over the world in funky yacht clubs, grass hut bars and other remote places.

We're now back in Marin, and in order to keep in touch with cruising while landlocked, I'm publishing www.Cruising-Sailor.com. After reading a letter to the editor asking for a cruisers' discussion forum, I added one to my site. A cruiser in Thailand asked for a message board, so we made a message bulletin board that will allow cruisers to leave and pick up messages from other boats and friends and family at home. We also have other features to make it easier to get a marine widget when the original breaks in Tonga.

My main goal in the site, though, is to create a "Free World Wide Cruising Guide." I started the Free World Guide with all the waypoints, anchoring, and port information that we collected on our voyage. Since then, I've had contributions from cruisers in different parts of the world. I invite everyone to check the site out.

While I don‰t think that websites will ever take the place of kicking back in the cockpit - or even the easy chair at home - with a Latitude, it sure does make communications and securing cruiser information easier when at a remote island.

Dave & Amy Sherman, Jessica (14), Cody (11)
formerly s/v
Rubaiyat
Marin County

Dave - We're delighted you enjoy Latitude and got so many responses to your ad. Thanks for all the nice words.

It seems to us that the problem with having a sustainable sailing website is not whether you can provide unbelievable amounts of information - check out a website feature mentioned in the next letter - but attract a critical mass of participants. It often seems that there are ten times as many sailing websites as there are people to visit them; sort of like it would be if there were 50 sailing magazines for Northern California. While it's uncertain how sailing websites will shake out in years to come, it's clear that the ultimate users of the information will be the big winners.

PLOTTING ACROSS THE PACIFIC

While the love of my life was sailing on the high seas and I was stuck back home driving my desk each day and chewing the furniture each evening, I discovered that you can still keep in touch when thousands of miles away. For the uninitiated - as I had been - the method is Ham radio 'nets'. These are a more (or less) organized form of CB or 'chat rooms'. The more structured ones collect data each day from each vessel on the roll call.

In my case, the Pacific Seafarer‰s Net proved to be an invaluable resource in keeping me connected with my love, Suzy O'Keefe. The net is international in scope, covering waters from New Zealand to Seattle. Every day at 8:25 p.m. PDT roll call begins on 14.313 Mhz. Even though I'm not a licensed Ham operator - soon to change - and therefore not allowed to transmit on Ham frequencies, there is nothing prohibiting me or anyone else from listening. Sometimes all I heard was static, but at other times I could hear Suzy checking in as she made her way across the Pacific.

Every couple of days we'd talk via a 'phone patch', which is where a Ham operator - with a license and better reception - would connect his radio to his telephone, and for the price of a collect call from Southern California, allow Suzy and I to have a brief conversation.

During one evening‰s roll call, Suzy heard about an email list that posted roll call information. She managed the neat trick of subscribing me to the list over the radio. Soon after, however, I was conversing via the internet with some of the net controllers - in particular, Mike Harris in New Zealand - who had been taking the weather data from the various nets and forwarding them to the New Zealand Met Service. This system is called YOTREPS.

Having some extra time and a desire to have visual reference to Suzy‰s location, I integrated some tools together to translate Mike‰s reporting data into a map that could be viewed over the internet. We now have an international collaboration, where Mike‰s YOTREPS software collects and formats the data from the net controllers and I process it into a daily map of boat positions.

If you or someone you love is sailing about the Pacific and you want to keep track without gluing your ear to a Ham radio every night, I invite you to visit my vessel plot page at http://www.bitwrangler.com/yotreps/ and explore. There are links to the main YOTREPS page and to the Pacific Seafarer‰s Net.

Ken Mayer
S/V
Wishful Thinking
Currently In Redwood City

Ken - While there were only a couple of boats plotted on the day we checked, it's a cool set-up. In addition to social and safety functions, it or something like it could someday provide tremendous data for ocean research.

SHALL I STAY THE COURSE?

Except when I was out cruising, I've been a faithful reader. Forgive me if I've missed it, but I can't recall the following topic ever being covered.

Almost every time I take my big, slow, cruising-equipped boat out for a day of fun on the Bay, sooner or later I seem to find myself in the path of a fleet of racers that are hell-bent on going somewhere as fast as possible. I try my best to stay out of their way, reasoning that they put a lot of money and time into their version of the sport and would no doubt like to enjoy it. Nonetheless, I usually have no earthly idea where they are going. And even when I can spot what looks like it might be the next mark, I don‰t know who‰s going to tack in which direction.

A race can cover a lot of the Bay and it often seems as though there are a dozen races going on at once, so sometimes I find myself smack in the midst of the fleet. My question is, what should I do in such cases? In the past, I've felt that the best option for all concerned is to stay my course and speed and let them figure out the way around me. Sometimes I get through all right, but sometimes I‰ve had skippers extremely upset with me. But it's not as though the race course were closed off or that I can easily or quickly clear the area, and furthermore, I think I have as much right to use the Bay my way as they do. So should I keep on as I have or what?

Vin Sumerlin
Steel Breeze
Berkeley Marina

Vin - We sympathize with you for many reasons: 1) At times certain parts of the Bay do get crowded with racing boats; 2) You do have an equal right to enjoy the Bay; 3) You're nice enough to try to give way to racers; 4) It can be difficult to know exactly where a racing fleet is headed; and 5) It can be even more difficult to know where an individual boat is headed because often times they'll use non-racing boats as obstacles to tack or jibe away from.

Having said all that, we think the important things to remember are: 1) Try to avoid such situations before you get into them; 2) Follow the Rules of the Road; and 3) Assuming you have right of way, maintain a steady speed and course so you're a 'constant' for racers to avoid.

If you do all of the above and still get yelled at, remember that racing gets some novices so worked up they behave rudely and stupidly. About 15 years ago, for example, an injured friend had the Wanderer drive his boat in the Master Mariner's Regatta. Before long he got so excited that he was hollering at nearby non-racing boats to get out of the way. When one of the women crew quietly mentioned, "I've never seen this side of you," the Wanderer suddenly realized he'd become a complete asshole. He's tried to do better since.

As for folks racing, it's in their best interest to let non-racers know of their intentions rather than, for example, sailing to within a boat length and then throwing in a sudden tack without warning. As we've said before, if all of us demonstrate just a little courtesy, there is plenty of room on the Bay for everyone, including racers, cruisers, kayakers, powerboaters, fishermen, sailboarders, swimmers, surfers and everyone else.

MORE ON THE OFFSHORE 27

I'm writing in regard to a Latitude reader's request for sail and spar plans for the Cheoy Lee Offshore 27 - which was also known as the Newell Cadet.

From the Cheoy Lee Yard number the owner provided, I can tell that he probably has a 'Mark II' Offshore 27. Sail and spar plans for these boats, which are reasonably accurate and provide a good point of departure for any sparmaker or sailmaker, are available for a fee of $20 each from Cheoy Lee in Hong Kong. They are useful documents for understanding the architect‰s intent. Contact Jonathan Cannon at Cheoy Lee at the following email address: cheoylee@hkstar.com. The Cheoy Lee people are very pleasant to work with.

Also of interest to any Cheoy Lee owner is an active enthusiasts' website: http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Cabana/8124/. This site has a biography of Taylor Newell, the naval architect who designed the Offshore 27 (hence the name Newell Cadet), written by one of his daughters. Of all his designs, Newell had a Cadet built for himself. He specified an aluminum mast, an option at the time, for his boat. So aluminum masts in no sense represent a corruption of the design. As I understand it, the aluminum masts were about a foot taller for the same ballast. The lighter aluminum spar permitted the greater rig height.

I am restoring one of these boats, and find them to be very pleasant coastal cruisers.

Robert Chave
San Pedro

Robert - Great information, thanks for sharing it with us.

WE LAUGHED AND DANCED AROUND THE LIVING ROOM

Thanks for again running the photograph of me for having been the first winner of the Iron (Wo)Man Challenge several years ago. I opened the September issue, headed toward the Racing Sheet - usually my first stop - but instead the magazine fell open to page 197. Imagine that! Well, my 18-month old daughter had been fighting me for possession of the magazine - 'boat' was one of her first words! - and I got her to agree that we would look at the boats together. And there my picture was! We both laughed and danced around the living room together. It was a pretty cool scene.

It‰s really funny, because earlier today my mind had flashed to the Iron Man Challenge. I have no idea why, and as I'm taking care of my two babies now.

Let it be known that I plan on reprising my role as Iron Woman. Maybe next year, when my life frees up a little, or maybe in a couple of years when I can take Shea with me. I don‰t think she would forgive me if I left her out. But ultimately, I‰ll need to make this something more than the equivalent of some middle-aged man‰s tales of glory from his high school football years. And why not - it‰s really a great, if tiring, way to spend the long weekend. I hope there were other people who thought so, too, this year.

The year I did it, the sailing and the people were great. When the 'prize' came, I got to share a page in the Racing Sheet with world class sailors!

In other news, I‰m now also the proud parent of a cute little guy named Morgan. It‰s a little soon to say if he‰s going to be into boats as much as his sister, much less his parents, but it‰s likely. I‰ll spare you the long story, but he‰s already an Iron Baby and awfully cute, too.

Justine Schmidt
Oakland

Justine - We're glad to hear you're doing well and want you to be the first to know we're starting an Iron Baby category for kids under five.

YOU CAN TRUST MEXICANS - BUT NOT AMERICANS

After two years south of the border, I just completed trucking my boat back to the States with the help of the folks at Marina San Carlos. They all did a great job, including Jesus the coordinator, the guys in the yard, and Francisco the driver. They made it happen when they said they would, for the price they quoted, and without a scratch. Jeff even managed a bottom job on short notice a few days before the boat was loaded.

The Mexican and U.S. inspections both went quickly and smoothly.

The problem was, I discovered, that you can't trust Americans! Between Marco Crane and an unnamed San Diego trucking company, they managed to 1) Lose track of my boat, 2) Scratch up the mast and hull, and 3) Track grease all over the deck. I'd assumed that once the truck crossed the border that I no longer needed to supervise it and could take off to San Diego. Mistake. My advice is to stay with your boat through the entire process until she's safely back home in her slip.

Finally, Driscoll Boat Yard in San Diego was the most friendly and efficient boatyard I've ever done business with. They made the stressful task of unloading the boat and putting her back in the water much easier.

In my opinion, if you‰re headed to Mexico, expect to encounter less B.S. than you've become accustomed to in the States.

Ric Cuthbertson
Esprit II
San Diego

THE IMPORTANCE OF MONTHLY EXAMS

We sold our house, retired from our jobs, moved aboard our boat - and then I discovered a lump in my breast. I didn‰t go to the doctor for two months because I thought it might be a fibrous cyst - which I've had before. But when it still didn't go away, I did visit my doctor. I had my yearly mammogram, went to the aspiration clinic for a biopsy, and found out I had cancer. I've since had a partial mastectomy, and am now going through four sessions of chemotherapy done every three weeks, to be followed by five straight weeks of radiation therapy.

Mike and I were talking about how scary it would have been if we'd been in Mexico like we had planned, and just decided to have the lump checked out later. That would have given the cancer time to have travelled either through my lymph nodes or chest lining to my liver, at which point fighting the cancer would have been that much harder.

I know there are cancer clinics in Tijuana and Ensenada, but perhaps some of the cruisers could educate us on where others are located.

Nonetheless, ladies, use my experience as yet another example of the importance of monthly self-exams and yearly mammograms. It could mean the difference of postponing your trip to Mexico by a year - or maybe not going at all.

For all you cruisers in or on your way to Mexico, we‰ll see you next year! We‰ve trailered, sailed and chartered a boat out of La Paz for a week. Those beautiful anchorages with peaceful mornings and gorgeous sunsets really hook you!!

Christy & Mike Halvorsen
Sea Goose, 50-ft ferrocement cutter
Sacramento

Christy - Periodic exams for cancer are excellent advice, as catching such problems early can often mean the difference between life and death.

The good thing about Mexico is that there are plenty of excellent and inexpensive clinics in all big cities. Just because somebody is in Mexico doesn't mean they can't avail themselves of regular high quality checkups.

All of us wish you a speedy recovery - and a great time cruising Mexico next year.

THE INDOMITABLE JEAN GAU

Dr. Andrew Urbanczyk, the author and renowned singlehander from Half Moon Bay, asked the following question in the August issue: How many Latitude readers have ever heard of Jean Gau?

Me, for one.

For 30 years Jean Gau and Atom, his Tahiti ketch, helped shape the unlimited sailing dreams for this - as it turned out - armchair singlehander. I read, nay, studied Gau's book on his singlehanded passages from France to the United States. When he got here, he lived aboard in New York City harbor, and worked as a chef to replenish his boat's larder.

For me, Gau was no less an inspiration than Joshua Slocum - whose book about the first solo voyage around the world graces the shelves of all true lovers of the sea. In the end, I may not have experienced any great sea adventures - although I got as far as owning the Tahiti Ketch Bali Hai and sloshing around the Bay and Delta in her in '77-'78. But as I approach age 70, I have no regrets for latching onto the visions of such men as Jean Gau. The dream of following in their wakes has helped me through many of life's knockdowns.

And, what the hell, puttering around Northern California lakes and the Delta in my little 12-foot, self-built Norwegian pram ain't all that bad. I still get on the water.

Thank you, Dr. Urbanczyk, for calling to memory the wonderful tales of Atom and her indomitable skipper, Jean Gau.

Jack Mackey
Chico

WOW IS RIGHT

I repeated your "Wow!" of page 62 of the September issue quite a few times just now. What memories were stirred by C.A. Rutherford‰s letter, which started about drinking bottled saltwater and ended up with the super sad ending of Dr. and Mrs. Kinsell. I used to live across the street from the Kinsells in Berkeley, and crewed for them for many years.

Dr. Larry Kinsell was a physician and research scientist who was instrumental in discovering the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease. His care kept my grandmother alive and well for at least 20 years. What terrible thing shortened his life by many years is a mystery that will probably never be solved. If any of your readers could put me in contact with their daughters, Judy and Laura, I would be in their debt.

To brighter things: Does anybody know if Windwagon is still sailing the Bay - or elsewhere? When I knew her, she was a ketch-rigged motorsailer - although she may have later been converted to a full-powered auxiliary. I have photos of her in a locker back in the States and will try to pull them out next year. Windwagon was massively built and had a long raised deck forward that gave her a real 'shippy' feel.

During Easter vacation in '49, my grandfather drove me up to Vallejo to meet Windwagon, which was waiting at anchor in the river. As soon as Dr. Kinsell picked me up off the old rickety pier and I could get the anchor up with the stout 'misery stick' windlass, we set off for a week in the Delta. Other than a few tug boats and the odd local fishing boat passing by, we had the whole place to ourselves. The days were sunny and warm, I remember, but the nights and mornings were almost frosty as it was still early in the year. But what a thrill it was to row over to the levee before breakfast and watch the sun come up across the fields and mist-shrouded sloughs. The idyllic passages through the Delta changed to a real bashing on the way home to Berkeley in the steep chop of the Carquinez Strait and San Pablo Bay.

The Kinsells sold Windwagon a few years later and bought about a 35-foot sloop, which was followed by one of the first - if not the first - Bounty II sloops built in Sausalito. Does anybody know if Bounty is still around?

Anybody alive today who spent time on the floats at the Berkeley Yacht Basin back in the '40s and '50s will probably remember Dr. Kinsell, his family and his boats. I sure do.

While we're in Pacific Beach for the summer, our Vagabond 47 is still down in Valdivia, Chile, waiting for us to return. After we go back to Coliumo (Tome) for awhile, we'll wake Murielle from her long winter's nap. Once we do, maybe we'll head back down the Patagonian Channels, or go into the charter biz - or even sell her to somebody hankering for a faraway destination. One thing is for sure: as long as we can write a sentence that isn't too fractured, we'll be writing about sailing in Chile.

P.S. Doctor Kinsell had a number of other semi-permanent crew members, mostly young doctors, but some others as well. Of course, all of these folks are much older now, but perhaps some still like to read Latitude and will help me find out how to contact his daughters.

Knick Pyles
Murielle, Casilla 49
Tome, Chile
hkpyles@hotmail.com

MEGA FINE OR MEGA UNSEAWORTHY?

I own a 1979 C&C Mega 30 that is located in Texas. She's a one-design racer/cruiser with a 2,500 pound retractable keel. I'm planning on sailing her to the Bahamas, but am concerned about the boat's seaworthiness. I haven't heard anything about the Mega 30 one-design races and have never seen a boat with this type of keel.

Peter Wilcox
Planet Earth

Peter - You'll find lifting keels on everything from Melges 24s to 100-foot sailboats. A lifting keel would be a great thing to have in the shallow waters of the Bahamas. While Mega 30s weren't designed to round Cape Horn, if yours is in good condition and you exercise good seamanship, you shouldn't have any reason for undue concern.

HAILING PORTS AND TAXES

You've probably covered this before, but we've got a question about homeports. We're currently living aboard in the Eureka area, but plan to take off cruising next year. Mexico is our current destination, but we may continue on to Panama, the Caribbean and the East Coast, or might even turn right to the South Pacific. As we do not plan on returning to California, we'll be looking for our next homeport as we go. Our question? Can we just show 'U.S.A.' or 'Planet Earth' as our homeport for now?

In the same vein, we're thinking about having the boat documented. The good guys at the Coast Guard say we the owners can designate a hailing port to appear on the transom, but it must include the state, territory or possession in which the vessel is expected to be located. And the state, territory or possession must be in the United States. But if we don't have a permanent home in the United States, what are we to do? The boat will be out of the U.S.A. for a good part of her life - and ours.

Second question: With California being such a tax-happy state, are we liable for county personal property tax if we use a mail forwarding service based in California?

Ellen & Duane Dunphy
Eureka

Ellen & Duane - Taxes first. The various tax assessors interpret the personal property tax law differently when it comes to boats. Contact your county assessor and get his/her policy in writing. If that county's policy is not to your advantage, move your boat to another county or establish legal residency in a state, such as Oregon, where there is no personal property tax.

If you want 'U.S.A.' or 'Planet Earth' on your transom, it's no problem, as long as the boat is registered in a state like California that doesn't care about stuff like that. If you want to document your boat, however, you must live by the Coast Guard's rules about the homeport being displayed on the transom in block letters no less than four inches tall. You also have to abide by their rules for choosing a homeport.

It makes no difference if you have no permanent home in the United States. Many U.S. documented boats have never been in U.S. waters and never will be.

Is there any reason to have your boat documented as opposed to registered with the state? If you have a mortgage on your boat, many lending institutions will require it. In addition, some county assessors use a boat's state registration as at least a partial reason for assessing personal property tax. When it comes to checking into foreign countries, our experience is that it doesn't make a bit of difference.

Registering your boat with the state of California costs $10 every two years. Documenting your boat with the Coast Guard can be done by a service for about $250, or you can do it for free. Annual renewals are also free.

For reasons we can't remember, the first couple of years we had Big O, she was both documented and registered with the state of California.

FOR YEARS

I just went completely through your web pages and wanted to take a moment to compliment your efforts. Your magazine has informed and entertained me for years, and I look forward to continued development of this site.

P.S. I like the following quote: "The wrong thing is the right thing until you lose control." So says Jimmy Buffett.

Jimmie Zinn
Jimmie@home.com

Jimmie - The way we look at it, we've just begun building our site. As time goes on, there'll be much more of the magazine online, as well as many extras.

FIASCO RECORDS

With regard to the Three Bridge Fiasco sailing records, back in '96 I recall asking Shama Kota if I held the monohull record. She didn't know, and couldn't find out because the Singlehanded Sailing Society doesn't seem to have all the results from past races. But the following are the race results from '96-'98:

1996, Fastest elapsed time: Defiance, SC 40, Steve Pringle and Roland Brun, 2:54:06. First in class, fourth in fleet.

1997, Fastest elapsed time: Limelight, J/105, Harry Blake, 2:56:18. First in class, seventh in fleet.

1998, Fastest elapsed time: Owlslarah, Antrim 27, Kame Richards, 4:33:27. First in class, first in fleet.

I don‰t have any earlier results, but I remember '94 and '95 as being much less windy than '96. So we'll take the record unless someone can point out a better time earlier than '96.

Meanwhile, Rocket 88 set the multihull record in 1996 (not Erin in '97, as reported). Here‰s what the Fiasco race results say for multihulls:

1996, Fastest elapsed time: Rocket 88, Spruit 34, Serge Pond, 1:51:32. Third in class, third in fleet.

1997, Erin, Antrim 30+ trimaran, Dan Buhler, 2:16:16. Second in class, 25th in fleet.

1998: No multihulls finished.

I hope this helps! And thanks for the article and working on West Coast sailing records.

Steve Pringle
Oakland

DESPERATE FOR AN ALUMINUM BOAT

Thanks for the great magazine.

I'm interested in acquiring an aluminum boat, but they're not so easy to find. So if the owner of Grey Ghost, which recently finished third overall in the West Marine Pacific Cup, or any other aluminum boat owners have any tips or leads, I'd sure appreciate it. I can be reached at (301) 864-1565, or at 5319 Taylor Road, Riverdale, Maryland, 20737.

Actually, I'm more than interested - I'm desperate to sail on my own aluminum boat.
John Defoe
Riverdale, MD

BILL GRUNWALD

Last month the boating world lost a significant builder, Bill Grunwald of Aeolus Boats in Davenport. Bill built numerous traditional craft and opened the world of boating to a multitude of people. He built my first boat, a Grand Banks Dory, which I still own and which still gets comments about how beautiful she is.

But most of all, Bill was genuinely involved with boating. He recognized the interest someone had in getting on the water and opened himself as a friend and compatriot. I never asked to be involved in Bill‰s life, but was invited in.

It would be a fitting memorial if we followed his lead by inviting someone in our life, especially the young, to go boating. There is so much to be gained. Thank you, Bill.

Charlie & Susan Schafer
Monterey

WAY BACK IN THE '60S

I grew up in the San Mateo/Foster City area waaaay back in the late '60s. One of my more fond memories from the time was that whenever we‰d leave Foster City by way of Third Avenue - along the Bayshore, past the dump - we‰d note the progress of a backyard ferrocement project we dubbed 'Noah's Ark'. I remember watching the builder's progress over the years - from wooden framework, to watching the cement go on - from the backseat of mom‰s car while cruising along at 35-40 mph!

It was a big deal the day he brought a crane in to flip the hull over. As I recall, it even made the local papers.

Years went by, I grew up - or so they tell me - and progress seemed to slow on the backyard ark. Maybe 'Noah' was working on the interior. Then the freeway soundwall went up and I‰d have to slow down as I drove past if I wanted to see the bowsprit peeking over the top of the wall.

Eventually I moved out of Foster City - onto a boat of my own, incidentally. Now when I return to Foster City by way of 3rd Avenue, I can see that 'Noah's Ark' is gone. I asked mom about it, but she can't remember exactly when it left; maybe a couple of years ago.

Does anybody know the boat I'm talking about? Does anybody know 'Noah'? And whatever became of the 'Ark' that I remember so fondly from my childhood? Did she ever fulfill her owner‰s dreams? Have I cruised past her on the Bay and never realized it?

P.S. - Love your excellent magazine! I read it at every opportunity and am so happy that you're online that I've even linked your page to mine!

Nancy Cowell
Solitaire and Tartan
South San Francisco

TREASURE ISLAND LOTTERY

I‰m seeking information about a lottery for slips at Treasure Island/Clipper Cove. Somewhere I read that boat info submitted to a certain address by a certain date would be tossed in a hat for a lottery, winner to be decided. Does this ring a nautical bell with you? I couldn‰t find this in the September Latitude issue. . . so?

Dennis Cartwright
Mountain View

Dennis - That 'somewhere' was in September's Classy Classifieds under 'Berths'. The lottery-style drawing is still on for mid-October; call (415) 274-0382 for more information.

NCYSA IS COMPILING INFORMATION

The Northern California Youth Sailing Association (NCYSA) is currently compiling information on youth sailing programs, practice sessions and regattas in the Northern California area. We intend to publish an annual calendar/brochure that lists these opportunities in mid-to-late January.

Please direct any and all such information to the undersigned at CarisaHarr@aol.com, or call me at (415) 563-6363. The deadline for inclusion is November 15. Also, if anyone out there wants to help with the layout and design of the project, that would be great.

Carisa Harris
StFYC/NCYSA

THE YEAR OF APOLOGIES

It has been brought to our attention that the overall standings for our Gracie & George Race were calculated incorrectly. Each division was calculated with its own scratch boat rather than a common scratch boat for the whole regatta. Thus the corrected times given in the official results cannot be compared for overall purposes without first correcting for the relationship of the division times to the lowest-rated boat in the regatta (Surprise at a PHRF rating of 6). After making the corrections, we came up with following top ten overall finishers: 1) Uno; 2) Shazam!; 3) Motorcycle Irene; 4) Silkye; 5) Mirage; 6) Harp; 7) Dragonsong; 8) Jack's Back; 9) Chesapeake; and 10) Fast Company.

This seems to be our year of apologies. We apologize for not catching the mistake sooner (like before the trophies were handed out), and also for not correcting the mistake sooner.

Margaret Fago, Race Chairman
Encinal YC, Alameda


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© 1998 Latitude 38