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NEED TO LEARN OUR ABCs

As a sailor, I admit that I know nothing about ski boats and water skiing. But I work in a ski boat harbor, so some of the culture rubs off on this old salty dawg.

In your wonderful article on cruising the Napa River, you featured a photograph of a person in an inflatable pulling a boogie boarder. But something didn't look right, and when I showed it to the owner of the water ski shop next door, she said the picture showed a totally illegal act. Specifically, you are required to have an observer onboard when pulling a skier, wake boarder, boogie boarder or what have you. Refer to page 17 in the ABCs of the California Boating Law.

Since you guys publish the best sailing rag in the world, we wouldn't want you giving out bad info, would we? In any event, what follows is the pertinent information from page 17.

Water Skiing:

When using a boat to tow a person on water skis or an aquaplane, there must be in the boat, in addition to the operator, one other person who can observe the person being towed. The observer must be at least 12 years of age.

The towing of water skiers from sunset to sunrise is prohibited by state law. Local laws may also restrict skiing at certain times during the day and in certain areas.

Water skis and aquaplanes must not be operated in a manner to endanger the safety of persons or property. Passing the towline over another vessel or skier is prohibited. Towing a skier or navigating between a vessel and its tow is prohibited. Towing a skier does not give the operator of the vessel any special privileges. The rules of the road must be observed.

Water Ski Flag:

It is mandatory for the operator of a vessel involved in towing a skier to display, or cause to be displayed, a red or orange water-ski flag, to indicate:

A downed skier

A skier in the water preparing to ski

A ski line extended from the vessel

A ski in the water in the vicinity of the vessel

The flag must be no less than 12 inches on each side and be in the shape of a square or rectangle. The display of the ski flag does not in itself restrict the use of the water, but when operating in the area, boaters should exercise caution.

William J. Grummel
Bethel Island

William We were completely in the wrong in publishing that photo and engaging in that activity. We thank you for taking the time to point it out.

Here's how it happened: We've often done the exact same thing in places such as Mexico, the Caribbean and Turkey where watersport safeguards are rarely mandated. And as we don't water ski, it never crossed our mind that there were rules to follow. But this is just an explanation, not an excuse so we sincerely apologize to all our readers for the 'misinformation' the photo conveyed.

We want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that inflatables with outboards can easily become lethal weapons. Each year there are dinghy accidents in Mexico and the Caribbean which result in serious injuries and even death. The worst we can remember was a high speed nighttime collision of two unlit dinghies in the U.S. Virgins. Six people were killed.

If we were to take a stab at the leading causes of dinghy accidents, we'd guess they'd be:

1) Operating a dinghy while drunk.

2) Operating a dinghy at night without a light. In crowded harbors and anchorages, dinghies operated at high speed 'appear' from behind big boats without any warning, making collisions unavoidable. If you're in a dinghy at night, we recommend not just carrying a big flashlight, but moving it in a circular motion to make your presence as well known as possible. Day or night, 'dinghy defensively'.

3) Taking a dinghy through the surf with the outboard running. Lots of folks have perfected this skill, but all it takes is one small mistake or miscalculation and the outboard prop can be ripping through someone's body. It's terrible what an outboard can do to flesh.

So have fun out there, but please be careful and behave more responsibly than we did.

DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE SAILBOARDER'S RISK

In the middle of a wonderful sail yesterday, we had an encounter with a sailboarder that raised some questions that I thought you could answer. We had taken advantage of the great weather to sail out under the Golden Gate, and on our way back in passed a sailboarder about a mile east of the bridge on the north side of the channel. It was about 1700, the ebb was still pretty strong, and the guy was having difficulty getting going again.

To make the story short, we returned to the sailboarder and offered him assistance. He looked tired and a little wide-eyed, so we weren't surprised when he accepted. After trying to maneuver close enough to take the guy and his sailboard aboard, one of my guests suggested that we call the Coast Guard before we made the situation worse by, for example, having a crewmember fall overboard trying to help. We informed the sailboarder of our intentions and stood by until the Coast Guard arrived about 10 minutes later.

At this point, we were about a half mile west of the bridge, and roughly 30 to 45 minutes had elapsed since we first saw the guy. During this time, he'd made several unsuccessful efforts to get up again. But just as the Coast Guard arrived, he managed to get it together and took off to the south. So the Coast Guard vessel turned around and returned to port. The last we saw of the sailboarder, he was headed toward the northern part of Baker Beach and appeared to go down close ashore.

Nobody on my boat knew much about sailboarding, but it appeared to us the guy was 'in over his head'. As instead of 'water starting', he stood on the board and attempted to pull the sail out of the water. I didn't take calling the Coast Guard lightly, but I'm fairly new to the Bay Area and didn't want to underestimate the risk to the sailboarder.

My questions are, how common is it for sailboarders to get into trouble in this area, and what is a sailor's responsibility? In retrospect, since the sailboarder managed to 'save' himself, I'm concerned that we were too quick to call the Coast Guard. Also, should we have attempted to take the sailboard in tow instead of lifting it onboard? If so, are there any tricks to it?

I want to close by saying we appreciated the Coast Guard's effort, and felt a sense of relief when they arrived and assumed responsibility.

Russ Cooper
Cape Dory 27
Encinitas

Russ It sounds to us as though you handled the situation well. While you might have been able to pick the guy out of the water and tow his board behind your boat, it could have easily led to even more serious problems. With the well-trained and well-equipped Coasties just around the corner of the North Tower at Horseshoe Cove, calling them was the smart move.

And just because the guy was eventually able to sail away on his own doesn't mean you called the Coast Guard prematurely. The guy was having problems, he was headed out the Gate, and it was getting late all reasons enough to prevent the situation from getting any worse. Your responsibility was to stand by the sailboarder and advise the Coast Guard of the situation. They're the rescue experts and should be making the decisions.

By the way, the part of their job these Coasties really like is rescuing people. The part they don't like as much is doing law enforcement. The part they hate is having to pick up 'floaters' folks who've jumped off the bridge. This happens about once a week and we're told is particularly hard on the emotions of the younger men and women.

Sailboarders taking off from Crissy get into minor difficulties on a semi-regular basis about 30 to 50 times a year according to the estimate of one Coastie stationed at the Gate. Most of these sailboarders are experts, however, and are said to be doing a good job of looking out for their own.

DISCOURTEOUS AND WRONG

For those sailboats under sail who expected the densely-packed Fleet Week airshow spectator fleet to part for them like the Red Sea did for Moses, you may want to spend some time reading the Rules of the Road. There are some important exceptions to the rule of 'sailing vessels have right-of-way over power vessels'.

One such notable exception for recreational boaters is when a vessel sail or power approaches a slower moving vessel sail or power from abaft the beam of the slower moving vessel. In such cases, the faster vessel has primary responsibility to alter course to avoid a collision regardless of sail/power considerations. In other words, if your sailboat is overtaking a powerboat, you must give way to that powerboat, even if you are approaching from just slightly astern of the powerboat's beam. It is not only the right of the slower vessel to stand-on their course, but their duty so that the faster vessel may predict their required course change.

As for the 52-foot ketch sailing up through the middle of the fleet on Saturday proclaiming "I'm a sailboat, I'm a sailboat!", nobody questioned your rig, which cast quite a shadow. What they did question was whether a real sailor was at the helm. At the very least, it was discourteous and irresponsible for the skipper to assert such rights in such a crowded situation even on the occasions when he might have been in the right.

Peter Pisciotta
Saint Cyr, Willard 30
San Francisco

Peter Your story reminds us of a singlehanded race to Vallejo many years ago, that for some reason had been scheduled for the same day as the Fleet Week airshow. The initial leg of the race took the boats down the middle of the Cityfront and required us to weave our Olson 30 through the relatively by today's standards, anyway thin spectator fleet. However, as we approached one big powerboat from an opposite course but with plenty of room to clear the enraged First Mate, sporting a blue blazer and an enormous bubble of blonde hair, grabbed the powerboat's hailer and hollered: "Hey, you big asshole, pull your sails in!" As the wind was very light and we were sailing downwind, pulling the sails in would have left us dead in the water. So, of course, we didn't. The never-in-danger blonde was so furious we thought her hair was going to melt.

There's no real point to our little story, other than to agree that the Bay gets crowded during Fleet Week and that we all ought to be courteous to one another. But we do agree that sailing a large boat through such a thick fleet of slow moving vessels is not only unwise, but would constitute reckless operation of a vessel.

THANK GOD I GOT THE MAMMOGRAM

My partner, Jack, and I met through the Latitude Crew List in '95 and have been sailing together ever since. And lately we've been getting all ready to go. We rented out our house on a two to four year lease, Jack sold his business, and I'm on 'sabbatical' from my career as a Registered Nurse. We had a fantastic dock party with several of our cruising buddies whose boats are already in Baja attending and were ready to throw off the dock lines and go cruising . . . when the results of my routine mammogram came back.

My doctor had told me the lump I found in my breast back in April was "nothing", so I didn't rush right out to get a mammogram. After all, all my previous annual checkups had been fine, and we were busy getting the boat ready, busy filling all the forms out for Baja, busy cooking for the dock party and so forth. But thank God I did get a mammogram before we left! So I'm doing chemotherapy and radiation therapy, then sometime in March we'll head for San Diego. Maybe we'll get an award for the last boat to start the Ha-Ha?

Anyway, we'll get there. We enjoyed early October's Crew List Party at the Encinal YC, and if I'm up to it, we will think about taking the camper down to attend the Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party in San Diego.

On page 71 of the October issue, there was a letter from Christy and Mike Halvorsen of the 50-ft ferro-cement cutter Sea Goose about her bout with breast cancer. I'd love to get in touch with her because our stories are identical! She can reach me on our boat in Alameda at (510) 521-1207 or leave a message with my parents at (916) 772-1565.

Judy Tillson and Jack Szilasi
Toucan, Tanton 43
Alameda/Roseville

Judy & Jack The one thing the Wanderer has learned from the Ha-Ha over the years is not to take good health for granted. Each year it seems that one or two of the folks who have signed up are unable to participate because they've been diagnosed with some kind of cancer or heart problems. So please, folks, try to take care of yourselves and get regular check-ups.

As for you, Judy and another Ha-Ha woman who had to drop out because of an emergency hysterectomy you'll be with the fleet in spirit. We wish you both full and swift recoveries.

WHERE'S THE PRIDE?

Did I miss it in my subscription or did you folks not realize that the Pride of Baltimore was going to be in San Francisco? I would have loved to tour her and see the differences between her and the first Pride which I toured in the '80s at Pier 39 prior to her tragic loss in the Atlantic.

My friend Mike Fisher and I were down for the boat show weekend and anchored at Clipper Cove for once we didn't catch the wire and would have changed our plans to see the Pride II.

Bill Tamantini
Patience, Coronado 34
Oakland/Reno

Bill If the folks at the Pride had told us they were coming, we would have gladly publicized it. Perhaps they need a more effective public relations firm.

About 20 years ago we remember a Coronado 34 that pitch-poled out in the Potato Patch, planting the top of her mast in the muddy bottom. It wasn't your boat, was it?

A TRIP TO TIJUANA

With the start of cruising season almost upon us, I would like to pass on some helpful information for cruisers heading to Mexico. Like many other sailors, I am troubled by mal de mer. I've tried most of the known remedies including dramamine, gravol and other medications. I've also tried 'the patch', wrist bands, and various forms of ginger.

Of all these various remedies, the only effective one was 'the patch', which I had used on a rough passage from Vancouver to San Francisco. Unfortunately, one of the known side-effects dilated pupils hit me so hard that I was unable to do any navigation work.

Then I read about Stugeron, a remedy that's been available in the United Kingdom and Europe, and reportedly has fewer side-effects. So you can imagine my delight while in Ensenada last year when another cruiser told me that Stugeron was available in Mexico. I rushed to the nearest farmacia and was able to buy some without a prescription.

Stugeron comes in two dosages: 75 mg to be taken every 12 hours, and 125 mg to be taken once a day. I have used the lighter dosage and am happy to report that seasickness has become a thing of the past. My husband Ray was amazed when we headed out of Ensenada into 25 knot headwinds and I was able to go below and make scheduled radio contacts and later to prepare a meal. I have met other cruisers who are now using the drug with the same excellent results.

So for any cruisers who have suffered like I did, I would highly recommend a trip to Tijuana before leaving the States or stop in Ensenada to stock up on a supply of Stugeron.

Pauline Taylor
Sundancer II, Pretorien 35
Vancouver, BC/presently in San Carlos, Mexico

Readers As great a product as Stugeron might be, we don't think anyone should take it or any other drug without consulting their physician first. After all, no telling what might happen when taken with Viagra or all the other good stuff they're putting out these days.

A CANTANA SANTANA

I've lost count of the number of times that, while reading Latitude, I've told myself I had to write a letter to the editor. Well, the first Sightings item in the September issue has finally forced me to the keyboard.

A number of years ago we purchased a Nordic 40 through Paul Kaplan at City Yachts. Ever since, we've considered him a good friend who since we sailed out the Gate and turned left back in 1988 we don't get to see enough.

I won't bore you with the story of the intervening years other than to say that for a few of them we were the only San Francisco boat in the northern Great Lakes but a couple of years ago we started looking for a larger and faster boat. We talked to Kaplan, but couldn't afford the Swan we wanted and the Sabre 45 just didn't seem right for us. After giving up on the idea of a new boat, we were struck by the thunderbolt while at the Annapolis Boat Show and ended up flying to France and signing a contract to have a Cantana catamaran built.

After we returned home, we got a couple of shocks. The first was to learn that Latitude's new flagship is also a catamaran. The second was the previously-mentioned Sightings item which reported that Paul and Chrissy Kaplan had purchased Humphrey Bogart's old Santana. The reason this was so shock

ing can be surmised from the accompanying photograph which shows that our new boat is also named Santana. In fact, we chose that name in honor of Bogie's old boat! In any event, congratulations to the Kaplans for the purchase of a truly wonderful yacht.

As you may have noticed, the picture of our boat was taken while she was 'in the yard'. This has been pretty much the story of her short life. When we took delivery in France in April, we spent six weeks at the factory in a vain attempt to get the bugs worked out. Our sail across the Atlantic was something of a race against disintegration, trying to make it across before the boat self-destructed.

While we're still big fans of the catamaran concept, we would never have another boat built in France. What we really need are more hi-tech cats to be built in this country. But back in the '70s, who'd have thunk that 'Made in the USA' would be something we'd ever been proud of again.

Even while struggling with getting a new boat reconstructed, it's comforting to know that we're still connected in some way to our favorite magazine and favorite yacht broker. By the way, we picked up the September Latitude from West Marine in Annapolis.

Tom & Joyce Boynton
Santana, Cantana catamaran
Currently in the Chesapeake

Tom & Joyce We're sorry to hear you aren't more satisfied with your new boat. If it comes as any consolation, we had to junk our hydraulic steering system after a year, had to whack 2.5 inches of counterbalance off the front of the rudders to make them work, and aren't particularly enamored with the mast specs. Of course, those are the kinds of problems you get with a custom boat and forget about when you're doing 15 knots on a broad reach.

SOME JUICY READING

As you can tell from the background, conditions weren't too hazardous in Hazard's Cove on Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands so I caught up on some juicy reading. Too bad I grabbed your magazine before my husband grabbed his camera.

Unsigned
Rån, Allied-Seawind 32
Monterey

Unsigned When it comes to life's simple pleasures, few can compare with sailing starkers or partly so in a warm climate. The sun's caress on body parts that rarely see the light of day is delicious, isn't it?

Since you're as lovely and saucy as your hands are quick, we'd like to send you a Latitude T-shirt for when it gets chilly up in Monterey. But we need a return address.

FORCED THE CREW TO READ GERMAN PROPAGANDA

I was told that you were able to locate Panda, a 56-foot long schooner we built for the tuna trade in Aberdeen, Washington, back in 1939. She had two masts, full sail, and was powered by a 225 hp. Sterling Dolphin motor. She was a documented vessel, but I don't remember her number.

Near the end of World War II, Panda was sold to a German who forced his crew to read German propaganda. When the crew returned to port, they reported the owner to the Coast Guard. The boat was tied to the dock and the owner put in jail. The owner's wife received control of the boat, and then sold it to someone in Southern California.

As we built her all by ourselves, we're very interested in knowing if she's still in use or even afloat.

F. E. Taylor and F. H. Taylor
Aberdeen, WA

F.E. & F.H. We don't know the whereabouts of Panda, and don't know why anyone told you that we did. Sorry.

OMITTED PART OF THE ADDRESS

I was mortified to realize that I had omitted part of the address for the Yorktown owner's web page. The real address is: www.liveaboardmagazine.com/yorktown/yorktoc.html.

My apologies to anyone frustrated by the mistake.

Bruce Smith
Argonauta, Yorktown 39

A LITTLE OFF ON THE WINDWAGON

As an old-time San Francisco Bay sailor '30s, '40s, '50s and '60s I enjoy your magazine because every now and again you come up with some good stuff out of the past. But C.A. Rutherford's September letter about Myron Lee and Windwagon was a little off.

The Lee family was indeed in a bit of a scam business selling saltwater for medicinal purposes, but Myron was not injured as a result of the gas engine exploding on Windwagon. Lee had in fact sold Windwagon and purchased the pretty 44-ft staysail schooner Lucky Star. It was while out sailing the Lucky Star on a weekday afternoon in the early days of World War II that a spark ignited gas fumes. As a result, there was a large explosion in the lee of Angel Island. The Navy rushed Myron, his wife, and another chap off to the hospital.

The hero of the day turned out to be Patrick J. Kirrane, then a very young man who sailed Lucky Star back to Alameda alone with all sails still set, including the fisherman. Pat's still alive and knows the whole story.

All the best to those old guys still around the Bay.

Bob Cassidy
Shamrock
Oriental, NC

CRAB DRAGS AND CRABBY EDITORS

How lucky I am to have a friend like the Wanderer to protect me from becoming an "easy target for any conservation or environmentalist group looking for a scapegoat in order to boost fund-raising." Jeez! Thanks again.

Remember Mexico? Bullfights. Cockfights. Dog kicking. The Crab Drags are right up there, as a model of idle foreigners filling their empty lives with cruel persecution of innocent crustaceans.

Remember how enriching it is to the world to just invent some real home-grown fun? Be careful that you don't get inducted into the 'Tight Undies Club' for folks that just don't get the point.

'Crabgate' isn't worth a debate in these pages, so I'd rather talk trash. For instance, I remember the trophy awards event at Cabo Isle Marina travel-lift ramp after Baja Ha-Ha '97 where many six packs of canned beer were passed out. The next morning I picked up lots of plastic carrier rings that were lying where the folks had been seated, and from the water where they had been blown. How about we use some space to teach this year's class some meaningful lessons about garbage?

First, don't expect that someone is going to go around picking up your garbage. Picking up any garbage even your own is a new concept in most parts of Mexico. They will go through any trash you leave just to salvage aluminum cans, but the rest of it might sit where you leave it for days while dogs, cats, flies and cucarachas have their shot at it.

And please teach this year's class of cruisers that 'leaving a clean wake' while cruising Mexico is more complicated than saving everything together in a big lawn trash bag and parking it in the first can you spot when you hit shore. Keeping aluminum cans clean and separate makes life more sanitary for everyone. Biodegradables should be properly reintroduced to our environment which includes disposing of your own rotting stuff well offshore. Onions, for example, can last for months before they completely decompose.

New cruisers should also be made aware that municipal garbage treatment is generally collected by hand and then dumped into a field, gully, stream bed, or off a cliff into the ocean. Tell them that their dinghy pumps are effective bellows for the complete combustion of discarded plastics. Yes, you do burn your plastics when you can't get them to any of the few recycling facilities. If you don't, they will end up in the water or on the ground somewhere. A big part of trash responsibility is to avoid buying excess packaging and to make as little trash as possible.

So, if were going to talk trash, let's leave the Crab Drags' 'ecological insensitivity', Monica Lewinski, and the whereabouts of Elvis behind and focus on the real trash which infects our lives if we are not alert.

But be careful that you don't get inducted into the 'Tight Undies Club' for folks that just don't get it. Remember what a great contribution you can make to the environment just by inventing some good home grown fun. The Crab Drags story is about imagination, celebration and the wonderful community of folks you can find in The Sea of Cortez.

Tim Tunks, aka 'Padre Timo'
Scallywag, Islander 37
Mostly in Mexico

Tim We're sorry this seems to be getting blown all out of proportion, but here's what you don't seem to understand: That desecrating nature in a wildlife preserve not only besmirches the reputation of all cruisers, but ultimately puts cruiser access to the islands in jeopardy. What isn't completely obvious about that?

And if you consider mocking, maiming and killing crabs in a wildlife preserve to be examples of "imagination" and "celebration", we can only wonder what's next? Big game hunting in a zoo? Swiping money from the collection plate? Wearing blackface and playing Amos & Andy tapes at the Million Man March?

Catching three crabs, covering them up with goo, and dressing them up as 'tri-meringues' is in no way similar to bullfights and/or cockfights, both of which are cultural events with long traditions in Mexico. Belittling and killing sea life for cheap yuks is, however, a lot like kicking dogs: Not something to be particularly proud of.

With Big O having won the title of "wildest party boat" at Antigua Sailing Week on three different occasions, we're perfectly familiar with the concept of 'home grown fun'. But our philosophy is that no matter how wild and crazy a party gets, everyone still has to be responsible. That means no sloppy drunks, no getting

hurt, no breaking stuff or polluting, and no belittling those less fortunate than you. Do any of that on our boat and you're history.

We have no right or desire to play 'holier than thou', and we're certainly not condemning anyone who has participated in any of the Crab Drags. All we're saying is that on behalf of the future of access to the islands in the Sea of Cortez, can't we come up with something a little more appropriate for a wildlife preserve?

As for the Ha-Ha parties, all the sites are cleaned up afterwards. We can also report that the average Ha-Ha entry is far more environmentally-conscious than cruisers of even a few years ago. They may not be aware of all your 'trash tips', but by and large they'd be eager to comply once they became aware of them.

With regard to the Ha-Ha '97 awards party near the Travel- Lift, we can with complete certainty state that the site was carefully policed by the Wanderer, Doña de Mallorca, Mickey and Randy Short, Andy and Julie Turpin and a bunch of members of the Ha-Ha fleet. When the last person left and it was only about 9:30 p.m. there wasn't a single beer carrier or other piece of trash in the relatively small area.

CRAB DRAGS PART II

Thanks for telling me that you'll run my letter.

My point about the Crab Drags is, of course, that there are a lot of really significant things we can write and talk about. Your concerns seem petty in a land where they kill bulls for sport and encourage sportfishermen to severely stress magnificent animals while pouring tons of hydrocarbons into the ocean. I've seen marlin and sailfish that have washed ashore after they were caught and released.

Again, let us spend our energy and exert our influence in worthwhile and productive pursuits. Also, let us not forget to have a bit of fun from time to time.

Always available for spiritual guidance, your amigo.

Tim Tunks, aka 'Padre Timo'
Scallywag, Islander 37
Mostly in Mexico

Amigo Timo As minor as cruiser behavior during events such as the Crab Drags might seem in the big scheme of things, we think that it's huge symbolically. As we stated in the last issue, if we cruisers don't place ourselves on the cutting edge of conservation and environmental movements, sooner or later we're going to be locked out. It may not happen this year or next year, but it will. Besides, what's wrong with the alternative doing our best to respect and protect nature?

A CRUEL, STUPID THING TO DO

I don't want to be a killjoy either, but I remember being appalled when I first read about the Crab Drags where cruisers 'dress up' crabs and race them for fun. I think I read about it in Latitude first, but I've also heard that people do it on Windjammer cruises. It's something I would associate more with drunken vacationers than cruisers in Mexico.

However, my husband disagrees. He thinks whatever the mortality rate is as a result of the races, it couldn't possibly make a dent in the crab population of Mexico. But to me that's not the point; it's just a cruel, stupid thing to do. What happened to just looking and gently touching, then placing living creatures back in their habitat after we've learned something from them?

Please don't publish my name since I don't want to get a reputation as a wet blanket.

P.S. I'm now in my eighth year of faithfully reading Latitude. My husband used to try to get me to read it when we were dating, but it wasn't until he asked me to marry him, bought a boat, and moved aboard that I finally picked one up. Now I'm a more avid reader than he is! After I'm done reading my copy, I pass it along to my parents and they're not even boaters!

Name Withheld
Redwood City

N.W. We think your husband is correct in the sense that the number of crabs that have been killed or hurt in the Crab Drags is statistically insignificant. But we think he misses the point that it sends a terrible message to those who are charged with administering the wildlife preserve. Putting future access to the islands in jeopardy for a few sophomoric yuks just doesn't seem all that smart.

PROPER PITCH

I recently had the prop on my Pearson 365 repitched by Kilian Propeller in San Leandro because of excessive walk in reverse and because the boat was reaching hull speed well below the proper torque range. Kilian's experience with 'cupping' the prop's leading edges completely eliminated the walk in reverse a happy improvement indeed. But with the repitched and cupped prop, I lost nearly a knot in top speed.

When I called Kilian and made them aware of the situation, they responded as follows: "We obviously took too much pitch out of the prop. It was our error and therefore our responsibility to make it right at no cost to you. We will send a diver to remove the prop today. We will fix the prop today. And we will send the diver back to remount it."

They were even willing to pick up the prop and redeliver it to me!

They did exactly what they promised, and now my prop works great: no walk and the pitch matched to the engine speed. I was impressed.

Ray Kytle
Seascape, Pearson 365
Alameda

CRUISERS SHOULD UNDERSTAND

Thank you for pointing out the dangers people present to the islands in the Sea of Cortez. It's not that cruisers shouldn't visit them, but they need to understand the fragile hold the endemic species of these islands have on life.

Terrestrial biologists here at Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas (CIB) take ongoing censuses of small mammals on the islands in the Sea of Cortez. They've found that some species are now extinct and others are heading that way. One of the major causes of extinction is the introduction of cats, either deliberately or by accident, by both fishermen and tourists. The small native fauna on the islands are simply no match for predatory feral cats.

The request that no other non-native species be introduced is also important. Frequently, each island has only a subspecies of specific mammals because they have been isolated so long. It would be worthwhile to keep such subspecies both alive and separated. Though a species could be wiped out on an island by some large natural disaster, they have survived these many eons and probably will do so if left in peace even though the 'livin' ain't easy' in the Sea of Cortez.

On another subject Latitude made reference to in the last issue, it's true the minimum wage here is about 33 pesos/day it varies depending on the location in Mexico but most people earn more. At least they do in La Paz. Maybe not much more, but nobody should count on being able to hire workers for $3/day U.S. The minimum wage is most frequently used for

determining traffic fines, insurance awards and so forth. In fact, such amounts are often listed so many times the minimum wage in Mexico City, as in "the traffic fine was 330 pesos or 10 times the daily minimum wage."

Even though in some ways it's far cheaper to live here in Mexico, salaries are not high and inflation fueled by the declining peso versus the dollar and our dependence on U.S.- made goods and raw materials is draining the little extras away from everyone. Unfortunately, the Mexican government is not helping as it allows the costs of some basics gasoline, electricity, cooking gas (also used as truck fuel) to keep rising on a monthly basis. I'm not certain of the rationale for this because all these products come from Mexican oil and all three are also used in transportation so they all add to the increasing cost of all goods.

After all these years, we've come to terms with the annual 20% to 30% inflation here far better than we did with the 15%+ inflation of the '70s in the United States. It isn't easy, of course, and there are still times when we get sticker shock, but we're more relaxed about it now. When NAFTA takes full effect in six or seven years and there are no more import duties, U.S. goods should be lower in price provided the savings are passed on.

Ellis Glazier
CIB
La Paz, Mexico

CHARTER BOAT PLACEMENT SATISFACTION SURVEY

Has Latitude ever done a boatowner satisfaction survey for those folks who have chosen to place their boats into charter fleets? I ask because I'm curious to know how the charter management businesses in the Bay Area stack up against the larger and more well-known companies such as Sun Sail or The Moorings.

Bill Hatch
Fair Oaks

Bill No, we haven't. We abandoned the concept of all 'satisfaction surveys' many years ago when it became apparent that the limited responses were often skewed by a few folks who had and not necessarily with justification axes to grind.

If you are thinking about putting a boat in a local charter service, visit the management company, pick out three boats at random, and ask for references from the owners of those vessels.

MARKIE IS TOPS WITH US

Thanks for the October 6th Crew List Party at the Encinal YC in Alameda. What a tremendous turnout! It was a lot of fun and it was particularly great to see some of the friends we made during the Ha-Ha last year. The only problem was the greedy folks who heaped their plates so high with food that there was nothing for the rest of us!

Last year my husband Kirby crewed aboard Fairweather as far as La Paz, then I joined him aboard La Brisa for the trip from La Paz to Mazatlan. It was my first long overnight sail, and it turned out to be a real nasty one. Connie, first mate aboard La Brisa, recounted it in last February's Rough Crossing. What an experience! I never got around to writing a sequel that would have included what happened to the other four boats, but suffice it to say that I've never been so terrified in my life! I must have gone through 15 pairs of underwear during that crossing.

It was great to see Markie at the party, too. I don't care what those narrow-minded Canadians wrote about him in the last issue, as they obviously aren't part of his very large fan club. Markie was terrific when we limped into the harbor after our very rough crossing, and he went way out of his way to help us and make us comfortable. I can't believe that some people didn't appreciate all his efforts; he's tops with us.

Our plans for this winter call for me to fly to Mazatlan and crew to Puerto Vallarta and maybe even Z-town. I turned down the invitation to crew from Cabo to Mazatlan; once was enough for that trip. Our Alameda-berthed CT-35 Moonflower is up for sale, as my husband has decided that crewing for others currently answers his sailing needs. But we'll ultimately replace her with an all-fiberglass boat.

Both my husband and I are ardent fans of Latitude, and as is the case in many households, fight over who gets to see the new issue first. We both get our own copies, but for some reason, my husband always manages to end up with both copies. The only nice thing about him going on this year's Ha-Ha is that my November copy of Latitude won't disappear!

Joanie Brock
Moonflower, CT 35
Alameda

Joanie For those who didn't make it, the recent Crew List Party at the Encinal YC drew almost 500 people. Because of the huge crowd and many other attractions, we think it was our best one ever. It seems as though Doña de Mallorca really does know how to put a party together.

MARKIE MADE IT GREAT

If Barry Gaudin of the Vancouver-based Spellbinder who was so critical of Marina Mazatlan would prefer to keep his boat at the El Cid Marina, that's fine with me. I just hope he realizes that the surge can get so bad that sometimes docklines have snapped.

As for Marina Mazatlan, I spent a week-and-a-half aboard Good Pleasure there last March and found it to be one of the best parts of my trip up from Puerto Vallarta. Although we arrived unannounced at 0600, Dick Markie was there at dockside to greet us and help us get parked at a nice slip close to the restrooms. At that time there had been many recent improvements: expanded showers, phones at the entrance of each dock, power on more docks, and so forth.

As many others have reported to Latitude, it was Dick Markie who made Marina Mazatlan a great place for cruisers.

P.S. Thanks to Latitude for the nice press on the growing Antrim 27 fleet. We're looking forward to seven or more boats showing up for the Great Pumpkin Regatta.

Rich Ray
Mountain View

Rich Marina Mazatlan and Marina El Cid, which share the same entrance from the sea, are about as different as two marinas can get. The former is a little on the barren side, but is less expensive, has more space, and has more of a cruiser community. The latter is much more upscale and is said to be the biggest single resort in Mexico but the docks can sometimes be subject to surge. We'd gladly stay in either one.

FOUND A GREAT BOAT AND CREW

It's really amazing, but things are just working out for me lately. I love my new home, my new housemates and life just got even better because today I was offered a crew position aboard a CT-49 for the Baja Ha-Ha. After interviewing more than 20 skippers over the summer, I've actually found a great boat and a great crew!

I met the skipper and some of the crew at the Crew List Party on October 6, and yesterday another woman who was at the party and I sailed with the others to see if we liked them and if we'd be invited along. As it turned out, we both liked the boat and crew, and they liked both of us so they decided to take us both! It means there will be six crew in all, but that makes for better, shorter watches.

Here is the description of the boat and skipper that appeared in Latitude: "Orion, CT-49. Having recently completed a round trip to Hawaii with the Pacific Cup, Mike Hibbetts' sealegs are well-practiced, and he's rarin' to go down the Baja Coast. At 34, he's decided to take a break from the high tech industry and have some adventures. He's been sailing since he was 13, but this will be his first long term cruise, and he plans to make the most of it. After the Ha-Ha his plans are open-ended."

The rest of the crew includes Rich, an ENT and plastic surgeon, who is an experienced sailor. Jann, a semi-retired carpenter, who almost had his boat ready to go. He'll be coming back for her in November. Carol, who works with Mike in documentation for an offshoot of Lotus. She's real nice and a good cook. And finally there's Kim, an IC nurse, experienced sailor, and very savvy.

It should be a fun trip. I'll have access to e-mail onboard, so that will be great, too.

I wish that I could have joined the others for the trip down the coast to San Diego, but I just couldn't extricate myself from my clients that quickly. Fortunately, I've been threatening to sail off for quite some time, so my clients are relatively prepared. At least they can be happy that I'm only leaving for three weeks and not the year as I'd hoped.

Nancy Birnbaum
Marin County

Nancy We're delighted that the crew party seems to have worked out for all of you.

FOR WEEKENDS WITH TWO CONSENTING ADULTS

My first sailboat is a 22-ft Pearson Electra with a fixed keel. Carl Alberg designed the hull for miniature ocean racing, and she has a smooth ride. On the negative side, she's devoid of creature comforts down below.

I'd like to use the boat like a travel trailer, and have her be comfortable for weekends or longer with two consenting adults aboard. Have any of your readers experience with customizing interiors? Should I have bought a 24-foot Yankee Dolphin in the first place?

Jim Sutro
Half Moon Bay

Jim Small sailboats especially those with fixed keels such as the Electra aren't really suitable for trailer camping. Sure you can do it, but unless you and your lady are unusually hardy, you'd probably wish you hadn't. Then there's the old joke about not very many women being willing to lie down in boats they can't stand up in.

Unfortunately, we have more bad news. Remodeling boat interiors is extremely expensive and certainly won't give you a dollar for dollar increase in the value of your Electra. Invariably, boat buyers are money ahead by purchasing a boat that comes with an interior they can live with.

ACROSS THE POND

I'm following up on our discussion at the Crew List Party with regard to putting together a semi-organized group headed to the South Pacific next spring. You suggested that Latitude may promote a group getting together in Puerto Vallarta now that Dick Markie will be running Paradise Village. Markie indicated that he may give discounts on berth rates for those wish do it with a group that can assist each other going across. Anything Latitude can do will be greatly appreciated.

See you in San Diego, as I'm looking forward to a great experience down to Cabo.

David (Dave) R. Domingo
Evasion, Beneteau 456

David Two years ago Latitude threw a modest Pacific Puddle Jump get-together/party in Marina Vallarta for folks headed across The Pond. We gave out Puddle Jump burgees and some T-shirts, and gave Polynesia-bound folks a chance to meet one another and swap itineraries and radio skeds. We decided not to repeat the event in '98 because El Niño made crossing the Pacific seem riskier than normal.

But around March 1 of next year in any event shortly before the Banderas Bay Cruisers Regatta on March 18-21 we plan to hold another Pacific Puddle Jump Party. Dick Markie says Marina Paradise will almost surely want to be a part of it, and we're pretty sure that some businesses in Karl Raggio's Marina Vallarta will want to take part also. We hope to have more details next month. As for deals on berth rates, we have absolutely no control over things like that especially when they are in such short supply.

AFTER MANY YEARS OF READING

For years I've been reading Latitude 38 whenever I could pick up a free copy somewhere. After all this time, I just want to let you know that I think you have the best damn boating magazine on the West Coast even though I'm now, shame on me, a powerboater. My wife and I owned sailboats for many years, but her declining health dictated that we become owners of a 'stinkpot'.

Having lived a good part of my life in Tiburon next to Sam's Anchor Cafe it's nice to see that your mag comes out of Mill Valley. Knowing that makes feel closer to home even though I read the most recent issue here at Hotel Coral Marina in Ensenada.

By the way, I think your Letters section makes the magazine a 'must read' for anybody interested in sailing and cruising. Keep up the good work!

Jürgen Meinberg
Ensenada, Mexico

Jürgen Had the Wanderer been lucky enough to bump into you at Sam's his favorite watering hole on the rare occasions he has time to drink he could have shared a little secret with you: The world's most roomy, comfortable, maneuverable, and economical powerboats are actually catamarans. And if you leave the mast on and add an electric winch, you'd also get to enjoy nearly effortless sailing when you want. We're dead serious about this: if you're an older sailor who isn't as spry as you once were, do yourself a favor and demo a catamaran before stepping down to a powerboat.

TWO WAY OR ONE WAY?

A couple of months ago, you ran an article about sailing records. I was particularly interested in the maximum speed recorded for a sail-powered vessel, which I believe was something like 46 knots. I would like to learn more about this record. What are the conditions under which this record was set? Was it over a closed course? Two way or one way? What type of boat was it or was it a sailboard? Those kinds of things.

On another subject, how do I contact the Windjammer's YC? I want another T-shirt.

Neil Kaminar
Voluspa, Challenger 35
Santa Cruz

Neil The 46.42 knot record is held by Yellow Pages Endeavour, an Aussie multihull designed for high speed in flat water. We can't tell you anything about the circumstances.

Tim Stapleton was this year's Windjammer's Race chairman. Call him at (415) 459-5409 to see if he's got any T-shirts left.

EASIER THAN CONNECTING WITH A BOAT IN CABO

In your guide to marinas in Mexico, you said there wasn't any air service to San Carlos/Guaymas on mainland Mexico. That's not correct.

Several years ago my wife flew down from San Jose to meet me at Marina Real near San Carlos. She first flew to Tucson ($80), then took a Mexicana flight to Guaymas ($85). Her trip started at 0900 and she was in Guaymas around 1400. It was only about a 20-minute drive from the airport to Marina Real.

It seems to me that it was as easy if not easier than connecting with a boat in Cabo.

Chris Carley
Amazing Grace
Santa Cruz

Chris Thanks for correcting our error. If you catch a non-stop flight from San Francisco to Cabo, it's only three hours, so that's a little quicker. But there's nothing wrong with that San Jose to San Carlos trip, either.

SEA OF DREAMS POSTPONED!

I regret to inform everyone that due to conflicting schedules and other circumstances beyond my control, the production of my film Sea Of Dreams has been postponed probably until the summer of '99.

Once again, I want to thank the kind souls in the Latitude audience who offered the use of their boats for my shoot. Unfortunately, as the shoot got pushed further and further back to accommodate various key cast and crew members, the various boatowners ran into their own deadlines. A particular problem seems to have been their need to take part in some sort of misguided cruiser's rally to Baja which had a specified departure date the very antithesis of cruising! If you have any idea who could be behind such a colossal blunder, please let me know as I have some harsh words to convey.

Altogether I was offered the use of four boats; two which were temporarily in Marina del Rey, one temporarily in San Diego, and one in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the costs of travel, room and board for the cast and crew made the San Francisco and San Diego offers unworkable, and the Del Rey offers eventually ran into the aforementioned scheduling conflicts. But I want to especially thank Elizabeth O'Reilly and Monk Henry of Passage West, Drew Matlow with his Passport 40, Perry Mullinix in San Francisco, and last but certainly not least, Samantha and Don Schlim, whose 53-ft Skookum ketch had the bowsprit I so badly wanted. Anyway, I hope one of these kind souls will be willing to let me use and abuse their boat next summer. In the meantime, my other avenues of attack on Hollyweird continue apace.

By the way, I really enjoyed the Wanderer's alternate story proposal. But he forgot the lush tropical island populated solely with busty sex-starved topless women, the pirates in cigarette boats more intent on raping than pillaging, the pet dog who swam across the Pacific to be reunited with our heroine, and the mid-ocean encounter with a UFO! But I'll be sure to fit all that in to one of my other projects.

P.S. If you'll send me a Latitude t-shirt, I'll wear it when I finally win my Academy Award!

Thunder Levin
Lost in Hollywood, but dreaming of Tahiti

Thunder There's nothing like a year's delay to give you a chance to polish your script.

COMFORTING TO KNOW HE WAS THERE

While tuna fishing 21 miles west of Monterey in August, part of my boat's propeller came off. I have no idea why. In any event, it left me without power to return to Monterey, where I launched the boat.

I radioed the Coast Guard and asked them to contact Vessel Assist which they did immediately. Two hours and 15 minutes from the time Vessel Assist was contacted, Capt. Brian Krantz and his vessel were on hand to help me. I want to thank Vessel Assist for sending such a capable and professional person to assist me. It wasn't too comfortable being disabled out there in the fog, but once Krantz was on the scene I felt much better.

We soon hooked the tow lines and Krantz took me into Monterey. Once there, he didn't leave until I had my boat on the trailer and out of the water. As long as Vessel Assist provides captains such as Krantz, we are happy to continue our membership.

Moe Patkoski
Modesto

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

All's well and getting better here at Marina Mazatlan. Many thought that with the resignation of Dick Markie as Marina Manager, things would go downhill. They haven't. And Markie, now Marina Manager at Marina Paradise just a few miles north of Puerto Vallarta is very happy with his new assignment. All of us who know Dick wish him the best in his new job and look forward to seeing him again.

As for Marina Mazatlan, it's currently being managed by a very capable Mexican administrator, Capitan de Altura Mario Velazquez Salazar, a 1974 Marine Engineering graduate top of his class, with honors of the prestigious Merchant Marine Academy of Mazatlan. (This is similar to the Merchant Marine Academy at King's Point, New York.) Capt. Velazquez also has a Master's Degree in Port Engineering and another in Human Relations, and has over 15 years bluewater experience aboard large merchant ships plying the oceans of the world.

While serving as an officer on a tanker, Capt. Velazquez was awarded a medal for valor in putting his life on the line by helping to extinguish a severe fire that would have led to loss of ship and crew had he not taken immediate action. He is not only pleasant, soft spoken and intelligent, but well versed in Mexican legal maritime affairs. As a Capitan de Altura meaning "captain of the high seas" he is authorized by the Mexico Maritime Authority to clear in or out the boats making use of Marina Mazatlan. Capt. Velazquez is the only Capitan de Altura managing a marina in Mexico a fact that he's quite proud of.

On September 16, Captain Velazquez invited all the marina tenants to spend the evening at his lovely home in celebration of Mexico's Independence Day. The cruisers about 30 of us all chipped in with the proverbial pot luck, some at gourmet level, and had a splendid evening with the Captain and his beautiful wife, Patricia. We met his daughter, Claudia Deneb (her second name comes from the navigation star of the constellation Cygnus), an intelligent young lady now finishing high school. The Captain's other offspring, Mario Edson, is off at medical school and given the heavy study loads couldn't take time off.

Incidently, Captain Velazquez's father and brothers are also seagoing people who have served on 'big ships'. We had a wonderful time there eating, drinking, conversing and getting to know everyone as cruisers are wont to do. Captain Velazquez and his wife Paty made sure that no one was left out of anything and as hosts for the evening there were none better.

A native son and resident of Mazatlan, Captain Velazquez knows the lay of the land and can direct cruisers to any service, parts store, provisioning spot or sightseeing activity in the city. He welcomes people to come to the office and talk, an activity most of us enjoy to help 'fill in the blanks' we have about Mexico or any other port he's visited.

As for the marina, it's undergoing upgrades to make life better for the full-time and transient tenants. These improvements have become reality because Captain Velazquez has made it his task to make the Marina the best he can with the few resources at his disposal. To date he has succeeded in making a number of improvements in services supplied the tenants, and some visible and less visible improvements to the grounds and infrastructure.

So, all's well in Marina Mazatlan, and in the hands of a bluewater cruiser friend with a very positive, can-do attitude. As the Bard once wrote, "All's well that ends well."

Joe and Tere Cintron
(Cruising Mexico's Pacific Coast towards Chile)

WE SWEATED AND CURSED

I sent the same letter to the Seven Seas Cruising Association, but it is probably of interest to Latitude readers as well. The subject is how to connect an audio coupler to an international pay phone without losing your sanity.

We sailed from England 3.5 years ago and managed to cruise without a computer or electronic communications until last Christmas. Then we visited the United States and couldn't resist any longer! We bought a laptop and signed up with an email provider. We had read about audio couplers and how cruisers in the Mediterranean and Europe thought they were marvellous. It sounded like just the thing, so we bought one, looking forward to enjoying easy and regular communications with home.

As soon as we arrived in the South Pacific, we had lots of frustration and no success trying to get the thing to work! We sweated and cursed in steaming hot phone boxes, juggling the computer on one knee, the coupler on the other, while trying to dial. All to no avail, as it just wouldn't connect. We could send faxes with it, but no email.

Lots of other cruisers we spoke with reported the same results. Indeed, we didn't meet anybody who had actually man aged to collect or send email using a coupler and a pay phone. The general consensus of opinion was that the audio coupler was a complete waste of time and money, and might as well have been sent to Davey Jones' locker.

But we hated the idea of admitting defeat, so we kept on trying. After much persistence and attempting just about every different combination, we have at last figured out how to make it work every time! Provided, of course, that the phone line is reasonably clear.

We use a Toshiba Satellite laptop with Windows 95, a standard 33.6 kbps modem, an audio coupler from the Black Box Corp., and a straight phone connector to join the coupler with the modem. But our method should work with any equipment up to the job. Here's how:

1) Start the computer and find the 'Dial-up Networking' icon, which is probably located in the 'Control Panel' or 'My Computer'). 2) Double click on the icon, which will then show you your 'Dial-Up' options. 3) Select your internet server connection but don't open it up. Instead, click on it and select the 'Properties' option. 4) Select 'Configure'. 5) Select the 'Options'. Tag check the box that says 'Bring up Terminal Window' before dialing'. 6) Hit 'OK'. 7) Hit 'Cancel'. This procedure only has to be done once. 8) Load your internet browser Navigator, Explorer or whatever. You should see the 'Dial Up' box. 9) Put in the password if necessary. 10) Make a note of the telephone number to dial, because you will be manually dialing it later. 11) Delete this number from the 'Dial Up' box. 12) In its place, type one character only, such as a backslash or a bracket. If you don't, you'll get prompted for a telephone number. 13) Press 'Connect'. This will bring up the pre-dial terminal screen. 14) Type ATX3DT1 into it. Make sure the last digit is a 'one', not the letter 'l'. 15) Do not press 'Continue' yet, but rather connect the audio coupler to the telephone handset and to the computer modem socket. 16) Get a dial tone and put your phone card in. 17) Dial the internet server's number on the pay phone dial. 18) Immediately after you've dialed the last digit, press 'Continue' on the pre-dial terminal screen of the computer.

Bingo, you should be connected!

While it might sound complicated, it's really quick and easy once you get used to it. We Brits hope it helps folks out.

Marion and David Lloyd
Cracker, Beneteau Oceanis 390
crackercrew@earthlink.net
Fiji

Marion & David Thanks for sharing your discovery with our readers.

GAIL JENSEN

A past Changes in Latitudes sailor is gone. Gail Jensen, formerly of the Columbia 50 yawl Simoon, was fatally injured in a car accident in late September. Gail and her husband Bob cruised on their Columbia 50 yawl off and on throughout the Pacific for 15 years. Articles about their adventures appeared in Changes during the late '70s and '80s.

The accident happened as the two were driving from Reedsport, Oregon, to a St. Louis, Missouri, reunion of the World War II crew of the St. Louis, on which Bob served. Seventy miles north of Boise, Idaho, Gail was driving on a narrow road with the first rain falling. The car spun out of control coming out of a turn and struck a logging truck. Bob survived because he was wearing his seatbelt and had been sitting on the passenger side. Gail was air-lifted to a medical center in Boise, but died 24 hours later.

Bob will spend this year in Reedsport discovering how to live without Gail. Friends may reach him at: 727 Dawson Section Rd., Reedsport, OR 97467 or at (503) 271-2790.

Carol (Jensen) Pinto

Readers 'Broken Bottles' Bob and Gail Jensen were part of the great Basin II gang at Clipper Yacht Harbor before Latitude was even launched. In the days before GPS, SatNav and Loran, it was Gail who did all the navigating for Simoon's many trips through the reef-strewn South Pacific waters as far as New Zealand. Gail was a hell of a gal, and she'll be both missed and remembered.

GET THE LETTER

I note from the September issue that Bob from Integrity had problems with the importation of his yacht. Based on my having lived in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico, since 1970, and having helped foreigners with boats and autos for 15+ years, I'd like to share some advice.

It's simple to bring replacement or repair goodies into Mexico duty-free but you have to do it properly. The first step is to visit the Port Captain, inform him what your replacement or repair needs are, and get him to agree that they are legitimate. Then ask for and get a letter stating your needs are for a 'Yacht in Transit'. You should get this letter even if you have already got a 20-Year Import Permit.

Then, when you enter Mexico, produce that letter for the officials. If your letter and your purchases are equal or less than what you acquired, you should have no problema. (Lots of folks say, 'no problemo', but 'no problema' is correct.)

We used this method to help a client acquire a new engine, duty free, for his vehicle. He had a foreign vehicle 'in transit'. At least this is how importing stuff works in the Guaymas/San Carlos area. Being in the insurance biz in Mexico, I help out with these kinds of things all the time. It's part of our service.

Stan 'Hambone' Lieberman
San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

Stan Thanks for that advice. Everyone has to remember that the only things that can legally be exempt from duty are replacement parts for 'in transit' vehicles and vessels. As we and others have noted before, too often folks think a 20-Year Import Permit gives them a license to import anything they want. This is not only incorrect, it can get you into big trouble.

IT WOULD PROBABLY FIT JUST FINE

Regarding the folks who lost the swing keel on their Cal 24, Catalina Yachts makes a replacement swing keel for their Catalina 22 which would probably fit just fine. Catalina's number is (800) 959-7245.

David Thompson
Reno, NV

David Somehow we doubt it, but it's still worth a call.

HONEST AND DIRECT

After reading Barry Gaudin's disparaging letter regarding Dick Markie, former Harbormaster at Marina Mazatlan, I felt compelled to respond. Mr. Gaudin is, to say the least, way off base.

I first met Dick about 17 years ago when he came into my office in Auburn to have us do his secretarial/graphic design work for him. What started as a business relationship evolved over the years into a lasting friendship and it certainly wasn't because of "an obvious dislike for women." We have numerous mutual friends and to a person, men and women, have nothing

but the highest regard and respect for him. Dick is honest, direct, helpful, friendly, courteous, sincere, nice a real straight shooter who, as one friend put it, all but walks on water. And it's not just because he goes far beyond the call of duty to help someone whenever needed; it's because he consistently displays the qualities enumerated above, and more.

Gaudin places the shortcomings of Marina Mazatlan on Dick, but they should be placed squarely on Marina Mazatlan itself. Because of the work we still do for him, I know firsthand how hard he tried to make the marina a place that cruisers would want to visit. Dick should not be blamed for circumstances beyond his control especially in light of everything he did manage to accomplish with only minimal funding and cooperation from the powers-that-be.

I would suggest that Gaudin visit Paradise Village in Banderas Bay once Dick has their marina operational later this year, so he and his wife can see for themselves what a difference there will be in their perception. Give a person like Dick a positive working environment, and I have no doubt that cruisers will come in droves to enjoy the fruits of his labors.

Madonna Anglin
Auburn

DISSAPPOINTED WE WERE NOT RECOGNIZED

We have a Santa Cruz 52 that just participated in the St. Francis YC's Big Boat Series. Even though we live in Seattle, we subscribe to your magazine and advertise in it. We enjoy your magazine very much and look forward to it each month.

This year the SC 52 fleet held their first National Championship in conjunction with the Big Boat Series. There were not as many boats as we had hoped for, but the competition was exceptional with tacking duels and leads exchanging on every beat and run. The St. Francis YC recognized us as a fleet with first, second and third place trophies. We were also included in the Keefe-Kilborn division even though the 52s paid little attention to the two other boats, as we were all intent on our one design class.

We were particularly pleased with Marda Gras's results as we were a 100% amateur boat. Although there were excellent sailors involved with many credits to their name, we purposely had no 'rock stars' aboard. It was primarily a Northwest effort, but also included sailors from the San Francisco area as well as Southern California. We finished the series winning the National Championship Trophy, as well as the SC 52 Class Trophy by seven points the largest margin of victory in the entire fleet. Needless to say, we were disappointed that our crew and our effort was not recognized in your Big Boat Series article.

Marda Phelps
Marda Gras, SC 52
Seattle

Marda So noted, and congratulations on winning the first-ever SC 52 Nationals. We apologize for not realizing that the BBS served your class in that capacity, but frankly, in our 20 years of covering yacht racing, we've never heard of a national championship being contested with non-class boats on the same starting line. Furthermore, a four-boat nationals in an 86-boat, 10-class top-flight regatta isn't the most compelling storyline.

That our BBS article had to literally be produced overnight and therefore necessarily omitted lots of things also worked in your favor. For instance, we didn't have time to dig further into the troubling business about some boats 'playing chicken' with tankers on the first day. We didn't mention that the "amateur crew" on Marda Gras caused the captain of a large tanker to blow his horn not just five times, but continuously. In addition to having to shut down perhaps even reverse his engines, he also had to put the helm hard over. If you know anything about the operation of large ships, this is considered a risky last-ditch maneuver used only to prevent what the captain believes would otherwise have been an imminent collision. It's very, very serious stuff, so no wonder the furious captain immediately raised hell with the Coast Guard and the St. Francis YC.

As you well know, Ingrid's protest of your causing this near- collision by blatantly ignoring one of the most basic Rules of the Road was disallowed but only because they failed to display their red flag soon enough. There were enough witnesses to the incident, however, that several members of the race committee told us that had the protest hearing been held, your boat would have been tossed. Yacht club officials were reluctant to talk too much about this incident at the time, as they were about to have to explain your boat's behavior to concerned Coast Guard officials and a very angry tanker captain. For the record, many witnesses believe that Larry Ellison's Farr 80 Sayonara should have been tossed also on the same grounds.

So all in all, our coverage of Marda Gras' BBS was something of a wash. We didn't get all the good stuff in, but we didn't get all the bad stuff in, either. In any event, we wish you safe and continued success with your lovely boat.

ENTHUSIASTIC MENTORS ARE BEST

Max Ebb had it absolutely correct when he wrote that trying to learn to sail from a textbook is almost impossible. Most of us who are fortunate enough to have learned how to sail were blessed with an enthusiastic mentor who gave generously to grow another convert.

On a slightly different subject, once folks have learned how to sail, they now have a new book that teaches how to sail well on San Francisco Bay. Sailing the Bay, by Kimball Livingston, is a masterful, fun guide for those of us who spend our free time on the water. I read the original version many years ago, and since I couldn't find an original copy, had to make a bootleg for reference. Now that the new and improved version is out, I've read it and reread it for its wisdom and tips. I recommend that all local sailors pick up a copy.

James M. Cascino
Eos, J/120
Orinda

BOAT NAMING CEREMONIES

I don't know if you still have any interest in boat re-naming ceremonies, but here is the one we used recently to re-name our Morgan 43 sailboat.

"In the name of all who have sailed aboard this vessel in the past, and all who may sail aboard her in the future, we invoke the ancient gods of wind and sea to favor us with their blessing today. Mighty Neptune, king of all that moves on the waves, and mighty Aeolius, guardian of the winds and all that blows before them. We offer you our thanks for the protection you have afforded her the same protection she previously enjoyed. In return for this, we rededicate this vessel to thy domain in full knowledge that she shall be subject to the immutable laws of the gods of wind and sea. In consequence whereof, and in good faith, we seal this pact with a libation offered according to the hallowed ritual of the sea."

Tom and Ginger Plesha
Tabula Rasa, Morgan 43
Alameda

HOOKED ON THE CRUISING LIFESTYLE

After l8 years of living and working in the Chico area, the two of us were suffering the familiar symptoms of job burnout. Like many others at our stage in life, we felt increasingly less satisfied with our jobs and had a sense that the security our lifestyle provided was actually a trap. It was time for some changes.

In our 35 years of marriage, we'd formed a strong and supportive relationship, raised and launched two children into their lives, and built a home in the mountains with our own hands. Yet we both yearned for more personal freedom, new challenges, high adventure, and more quality time with each other. So we found ourselves frequently dreaming about traveling to far away places aboard our beloved 30-foot sailboat Felicia. Dreaming and doing, we found out, are two different things. It took us five years to make it from the one stage to another.

We weren't completely new to sailing, having purchased a first sailboat, a trailerable Balboa 26, back in 1978. Thanks to the help of the warm and supportive folks at the Chico YC, we learned to sail. Along with other club members, we ventured on sailing adventures to San Francisco Bay, Santa Barbara, Catalina, and the San Juan and Gulf Islands in the Pacific Northwest. Those first few years of sailing were extra special, as they established important base skills and experience that we needed to develop into the successful ocean sailors we've become.

We continued to gain experience and hone our sailing skills with the Balboa until '85, when we moved up to the 30-foot Felicia that we kept berthed on San Francisco Bay. In '87 we took a leave of absence during which time we enjoyed a memorable eight month 'trial cruise' from San Francisco to Acapulco and back. The trip hooked us; from then on all we could think about was sailing.

Upon our return, we did extensive cruising along the coast of Southern California, particularly enjoying the waters around Catalina and the Channel Islands. These summer escapes to the warmer weather, filled with adventure and pleasure, gave us our annual 'sailing fix'. Each summer we were filled with sadness, as it meant we'd have to return to the cool of San Francisco Bay. How we wished to keep sailing south 'until the butter melts'.

Realizing we couldn't bear waiting another 10 years to traditional retirement age to enjoy such a cruise, we decided to radically change our lifestyle. By foregoing additional money, material things, and security, we would be able to take off on the indefinite cruise we'd dreamed about. We took a lot of encouragement from the many couples we'd met on our trial cruise to Mexico. These couples were happily cruising small but strong yachts such as ours on surprisingly small budgets.

Nonetheless, it was going to be a tall order to fulfill our dream. We'd have to pay off our home and boat, be debt free, develop our assets for possible future work, prepare our family and friends for our lifestyle changes, and retire as soon as possible. But our plan represented an extension of the strong values we already held: minimize wasting time and energy on activities and commitments that aren't satisfying; work hard; be frugal; be self-sufficient; don't fear calculated risks; and avoid the 'strangulation trap' of excessive security.

When people decide to go cruising, many sell their home and 'Bay and coastal boat' to acquire a larger, more comfortable and expensive cruising boat. We didn't, as we wanted to maintain our biggest asset our house so we could return to our own home any time we felt like it. While our boat is small and wasn't specifically designed for extensive bluewater cruising, she had performed very well on our trial trip to Mexico and therefore seemed adequate for extensive cruising. She has been. We did, however, invest considerable time and money on navigation gear, autopilots, a liferaft, additional anchor gear, radios and other essentials.

The 'go small, but go now' philosophy has really worked for us. Actually it wasn't exactly 'go now', as it took us five years to implement the plan that allowed us to sail beneath the Gate in the fall of '93 and turn left. Nonetheless, we've now been out for four years and have cruised to Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, the islands of the western Caribbean, Honduras, Belize, the East Coast of the United States to the Chesapeake Bay, and the Bahamas.

Looking back, we have no regrets, as the satisfaction has been much greater than we ever anticipated. We have broadened our perspectives in countries other than our own, are enjoying many new friendships, and have gained a deeper understanding of the life and history of other parts of our own country. We may eventually decide to return to some kind of work; but if we do, we expect it will be with new energy, direction and perspective.

At the moment we're on our second cruise to the Exuma island chain in the Bahamas. We're seriously considering future cruises to Cuba, the Windward Islands to Trinidad, and mainland Venezuela. Going cruising may not be the solution for everyone who feels trapped in their job or whose life has become stagnant, but it's worked for us.

Carlos and Marijke Valencia
Felicia
Alameda

FEISTY FEMALE TO FULFILL HIS SAILING DREAMS

As a lover of sailing, (I own the Cal 33 Windfall), and literature (B.A. English Lit., Stanford U., 1961), I applaud your Crossing the Boundaries piece in the August issue.

The story of Donald Crowhurst, who started the round the world race in 1968, only to circle aimlessly in the South Atlantic and submit false position reports before stepping off boat in mid-ocean, is appalling but deeply moving and somehow understandable. For those, like me, who could not attend the Berkeley Rep play Ravenshead, I suggest the 1992 best-selling novel Outerbridge Reach by Robert Stone, which is based on the same true story.

Stone's book captures not only the protagonist's descent into madness, but the major financial and personal stress that come with 'edge of the envelope' ocean racing. He also creates a feisty female sailor who, at book's end, plans a circumnavigation to fulfill her husband's dashed dreams! Keep Crossing the Boundaries!

Richard Mainland
Marina del Rey

SLOW BOAT TO CHINA

Like everyone else it seems, we enjoy your magazine. Unfortunately, we receive it very infrequently, and consider ourselves lucky to have been given a November '97 issue in July of '98! We sailed out of San Francisco seven years ago we're the 'slow boat to China' so we enjoy seeing photos of The City and especially the Golden Gate.

Although it's been almost a year, we thought we'd contribute our opinion as to the locale of the butts hanging off the railing in the photo on page 174 of the November '97 issue. We're convinced the photo was taken at Mulivai, Upolu, Samoa. The name Mulivai has a minimum of two meanings. One is 'backwater', which is self-explanatory. Another is 'butt water', which no kidding means as in diarrhea. Because of the positions of the people in the photo, we're sure they're demonstrating the latter.

We're now preparing to leave Fiji for Vanuatu.

Robyne Dillon and Craig Uhler
Kiku Maru
San Jose

Robyne & Craig We hate to give you the bad news, but the butt-shot was taken on St. Martin. We're not sure if it was on the Dutch side or the French side, just that it was taken in St. Martin. When you get to Vanuatu, give us a report on the status there. As we understand it, they're thinking about becoming independent of France.

CAT FIGHT

Wow, can Patrick Wheeler rant or what? His letter a number of months back about "mutilating" poor kitties by declawing them and thereby humiliating them for life was probably one of the more laughable and erroneous letters I've seen.

While I can't attest to the exact procedure, my cat Suki had not just her forepaws declawed which is the norm but her rears as well. I inherited her this way as her former owner had

planned on keeping her indoors for life. Suki definitely scared me the first few times she went over the side and into the drink. After toweling her dry, she wanted right back outside. Now when she goes swimming, she jumps to my neighbor's boat so as to not have to be towel-dried which she hates.

The first time I saw her licking the saltwater off her prompted another call to my surfing buddy, Dr. Lee Morris of San Francisco Pet Hospital. Lee assured me that she wouldn't lick enough salt to hurt her. It took a while to figure out why she was swimming so much 15 times last year alone. She was hunting something in the water, and just got a little overzealous about it.

As far as her being defenseless, that's nonsense. While not being able to scratch, she defends herself in other ways and will still strike with her paws. She is probably more timid around other cats than had she not been declawed, but that hasn't stopped her from roaming. She does keep closer to home than any other cat I've had which is an advantage in a marina situation.

Suki's been out sailing outside the Golden Gate in 12-foot seas, and after tossing her cookies once, enjoys it. Awhile back during that really good El Niño storm our mastless boat was rolling through 60 degrees while tied to our slip! We even had green water through a porthole I'd not dogged down. At 0300, my neighbor's boat broke free and started smashing against mine. After throwing on some clothes, I pulled the hatch open and Suki was out like a shot. The boat is still going through these crazy rolls, the rain is coming down, and there were two-foot waves inside my slip! It was so bad I even went back below to put on my PFD before attempting to secure my neighbor's boat.

Was I scared for Suki? You bet. Heck, it was so bad I couldn't see and had a real hard time moving around onboard. I knew Suki wouldn't be able to get out of the water if she went in. About 0600, when all the boats and docks were tied off, it was finally time for bed. And guess who was waiting for me in the companionway?

I haven't noticed that Suki walks funny or is the butt end of all the cat jokes with her friends. Does she bite more? Compared to the other cats I've had, it's the same. No more, no less. The advantages of declawing a cat are that they can't destroy fabric anymore. They also are a lot less painful to roughhouse with. The main disadvantage is that I know she doesn't have the climbing ability she would otherwise have, and I do worry about her falling over or slipping on a pitching deck.

But I undoubtedly worry about it more than she does. Would I declaw my next cat? Yes but only the front paws, as those are the ones they do the most damage with. I'd leave the rear paws intact, which are used for emergency footing and climbing.

Mark Krajcar
Landfall
San Rafael

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BOAT AND A YACHT

The adults and kids aboard Irish Lady came up with this while on our Delta cruise:

When your wife's divorce attorney finds out about it, it's a yacht.
When the owner offers you a Bud, it's a boat.
When a person in a white jacket with a $35 haircut asks you what beverage you would like, it's a yacht.
When it's towing any kind of rubber dink, it's a boat.
When it's got a heliport on the back, it's a yacht.
When it's half full of fuel and you fill it up for only $30, it's a boat.
When it's half full of fuel and you fill it up for $2,000, it's a yacht.
When the owner says while leaving the dock, "we're outta here", it's a boat.
When the guy driving says, "engine room stand-by to answer all bells", it's a yacht.
When your refrigeration system is a cooler full of ice, it's a boat.
When the crew tells you there is a hair dryer in your state room, it's a yacht.
When you take a shower with a solar shower, it's a boat.
When the Internal Revenue Service or Tax Assessor calls the owner, it's a boat.
When you're hitting on another person in a bar or party, it's a yacht.
When your mother tells people about it, it's a yacht.
When you put it down as an asset on a loan application, it's a yacht.
When you're asking for bids for work to be done on it, you call it a boat.
When you're looking for a volunteer crew to bring it north, it's a yacht.
When your family is the majority of your racing crew, it's a boat.
When you're getting ready to sell it, it's a boat.
When you list it with a yacht broker, it's a yacht.
When there is a BBQ on the stern pulpit, it's a boat.
When you have to bait your own hook, it's a boat.
When you belt into a fighting chair and all you do is reel-in, it's a yacht.
When you're tied to the new guest docks at Encinal YC, you're in a yacht.

Denis Mahoney and Kids
Irish Lady
Northern California


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