<-Home
Back to "Letters" Index
 


A WARNING TO ALL

A small warning to all those who name their boats in Spanish. I named my boat Vaquita after the smallest porpoise in the world. There are only a few hundred of them left, and they're only found in the northernmost part of the Sea of Cortez. Seemed like a pretty slick name to me.

But after spending the last year in Mexico, it turns out that freely translated, vaquita means little heifer, small cow, or portly calf. At this time, I'm having a hard time getting Yolanda to tell anyone the name of the boat.

By the way, I'd like to put my name in the hat - or dinghy - for the '99 Baja Ha-Ha Rally to Cabo. Please send any info you can and I'll return it with a check. I'd signed up in '96, but tragedy struck when my wife of 33 years passed away. I'd like to thank you folks for helping me keep the dream alive and well through all those years.

Bob Shrader and Yolanda Hubbard
Vaquita, Cheoy Lee Offshore 38
San Diego

Bob & Yolanda - You do have to be careful about the meanings of Spanish words. General Motors found that out when they imported the Chevy Nova - meaning 'Chevy No Goes' - to Mexico. And while huevos rancheros is a popular egg dish in Mexico, don't be asking any female clerk in a bodega where the 'huevos' are. And just the smallest things can make the biggest differences. Take Año Nuevo State Park down near Santa Cruz, which means New Year's Park. If you leave the little diddly mark off the 'n' and call it Ano Nuevo State Park, it means New Anus Park.

Several people have already inquired about the '99 Ha-Ha. We can tell you that it will start on October 26 or 27th from San Diego, and unlike last year, there's going to be almost no moonlight. Entry forms for the Ha-Ha will not be available until June.

FROG PRINCE

I'd like to ask your readers to help me find out who designed my boat, which is hull #1 of the DownEast 32s. She was built in Santa Ana back in 1975.

I want to know because I'm considering making some modifications to the rig so that I can install a dodger. The easy way would be to add end-boom sheeting. The hard way would be to replace the mast with a taller rig, reducing the boom length. I'm wondering what the effects of each of these would be on the sailing ability of my boat. I can be reached at: Frog- Prince1@msn.com.

By the way, I've been sailing the Bay since the mid-'70s in various types of boats. I started reading Latitude in the mid- '80s, and for reasons I can't recall, still have an issue from '84. Maybe it's because that's when I bought my first keel boat, a Bristol 22. I sailed the hell out of that boat.

Donald Marshall
Walnut Creek/Marina Village

Donald - If we remember correctly, no one was given - or took - full credit for the design of any of the DownEasts, be they the 32, 38 or 45. Bob Poole was always identified as the 'builder'. It's actually common for a designer not to be specified when a boat was partially or fully designed 'in house'. If we remember correctly, many boats in the Catalina line don't have a designer of record.

We can tell you the effect replacing a rig would have on your pocketbook. Ouch! If we were you, we'd start the quest for a workable dodger by picking the brains of canvas-makers, who over the years have had to come up with all kinds of creative solutions to seemingly impossible dodger problems. If they couldn't help, end-boom sheeting would be a quick, simple, and relatively inexpensive solution. In fact, later DownEast 32 brochures show end-boom sheeting - as was used on most, if not all, the DownEast 38s.

We wish we could remember the name of the older Northern California couple who did a circumnavigation in a DownEast 32 a number of years ago. Despite the fact they rolled 360º just 50 miles outside the Gate at the end of their long trip, they decided to take off cruising again a few years later. If we remember correctly, they were in their 70s at the time.

LEGAL DUTIES OF MARINERS

As an admiralty attorney for the United States, I represent the government¹s seagoing community in legal proceedings brought in federal court. My brother Ted, a sailor who enjoys reading your magazine, suggested I write you concerning the legal duties of mariners when confronted with a maritime casualty, or when a request for assistance is transmitted by the Coast Guard.

Contrary to popular belief and ancient tradition, there is no law requiring anyone, including the United States Coast Guard, to voluntarily provide assistance to mariners in distress.

Federal law does, however, address the duties of mariners who become "involved in marine casualties." The statute can be found in 46 United States Code, §2303 entitled: "Duties related to marine casualty assistance and information."

This law requires the person in charge of a vessel involved in a marine casualty to render the necessary assistance to save each affected person from danger caused by the casualty, as long as the vessel owner does not object, and the acts can be done without "serious danger" to the vessel or crew involved in the casualty. Necessary assistance includes, but is not limited to, arranging for salvage, towage, or medical treatment. The code section also requires that the person in charge provide name, address and vessel identification to persons injured or owners of property damaged.

Failure to comply with this law may result in a fine imposed by the federal government of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment of two years. The government has the power to sell the violator's vessel to recover the fine should the owner not pay.

This law also codifies the standard of care applicable to all persons providing assistance in a marine casualty. That is, a person will not be liable for any "damages" resulting from the assisting actions as long as the person acts as an "ordinary, reasonable, and prudent individual would have acted under the circumstances." This is similar to the typical 'Good Samaritan' negligence standard applied by the various courts under the judicially created maritime common law to the conduct of maritime rescuers. (Maritime law holds that not only must the rescuer¹s conduct be negligent, but that the conduct must have worsened the condition of the person(s) or property involved).

The determination of liability of the rescuer for any damages is made by a judge or jury in an admiralty civil action filed by the injured person in state or federal court. A person found not to have acted in accordance with the Good Samaritan standard is liable generally for the value of property damaged and compensation for personal injury or death resulting from the negligent acts.

In sum, only persons involved in marine casualties occurring in the navigable waters of the United States have a legal obligation to render assistance in accordance with §2303 of the United States Code. Those who provide assistance, whether required to or not, must do so in a prudent manner lest they become liable in a civil court action for any resulting damages.

I hope this information is helpful to your readers who, I assume, will continue to provide assistance to their fellow mariners, legal obligation or lack thereof.

By the way, the views stated in this letter reflect my personal opinion, not that of the United States, and is not intended as legal advice.

Timothy R. Lord, Trial Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice, Admiralty Section
San Francisco

DOESN¹T DO HER JUSTICE

I read with interest your October Sightings piece on the U.S. Women¹s Sailing Championships. In the Latitude tradition, it was excellently written.

However, your description of Vicki Sodaro as a "soccer mom" doesn't really do her justice. In addition to being a mom, she runs marathons and the Hood loft in Sausalito with her husband, Robin.

Dave Biggs
Cal 35, Runnin' Late
Redwood City

Dave - It's true that Vicki does a lot of things. But it's also true that she liked that 'handle' we gave her so much that she's named her J/24 Soccer Mom.

NOTHING BUT SALTWATER AND PLANKTON

I stumbled onto your site while cruising the web last week. What a great site - especially for a landlocked sailor (wannabe)! Come spring, I'll be looking for a starter boat, probably something like a Westerly Centaur. I'll name her Gulliver, and after that you'll find me on the Great Lakes every chance I get.

An old letter to the editor referred to the possibility of a shipwrecked sailor drinking seawater. You more or less replied that it couldn't be done safely. I have no way to judge if that's true, but I refer you to the experiments of Dr. Bombard, who claimed to have drifted across the Atlantic in a raft, surviving quite well on nothing but seawater and plankton. Perhaps you could comment on the credibility of this report?

Rick Fischer
Victoria, Minnesota

Rick - In our April and June '98 issues, we ran articles on Dr. Alain Bombard's experiment in living off the sea while sailing across the Atlantic in a small inflatable in 1952. While no one doubts that Bombard made it across the Atlantic, not everyone believes he did it living entirely off the sea - as he claimed. Indeed, many experts believe Bombard's assertion - that shipwreck victims could survive indefinitely by drinking limited amounts of saltwater and the juice squeezed from fish chunks - was both incorrect and irresponsible.

One of Bombard's biggest critics was/is Dr. Hannes Lindemann, a German doctor who met and was inspired by Bombard just before the French doctor took off across the Atlantic. Starting in October of 1955, Lindemann crossed the Atlantic from the Canaries to Haiti in 65 days aboard a 25-foot long, 2.5-foot wide dugout canoe. Just nine months after completing that trip, Lindemann crossed the Atlantic from the Canaries to St. Martin in 72 days, this time with a 17-foot long, 36-foot wide stock Klepper folding kayak!

According to Alone At Sea, the book which Lindemann wrote shortly after his crossings, everyone at the Real Club Nautico in Las Palmas watched Bombard load his raft "to the brim" with 25 gallons of water and enough food for three months before he left. Lindemann also charges that Bombard twice took on provisions from passing ships - and that photographs of one such incident appeared in Dutch newspapers.

Lindemann - who was so adverse to publicity that he didn't even tell his family until after he completed the voyages - calmy disputes both of Bombard's main tenets. Lindemann says that his experiments at sea - as well as many by other notable doctors ashore - proved that saltwater is not potable. In addition, Lindemann reported that he was unable to get any useful fluids by crushing chunks of fish. Lindemann advises shipwreck victims without water to avoid eating fish.

Lindemann's book offers much more specific observations and recommendations than did Bombard's, which in truth offered very little. Lindemann also reports that Bombard wasn't the first to sail across the Atlantic in a raft. He claims it had been done in 1868 with a raft called Nonpareil, and in a folding rubber boat by Capt. Franz Romer in 1928.

The English version of Alone at Sea was long out of print when Peter Schwierzke, a sailor who owns Klepper West/Western Folding Kayak Center in the Central Valley, convinced a reluctant Lindemann to let him republish the English version - along with a new chapter summarizing what was learned from the two crossings. This fascinating book, complete with color photographs, is available at $20 - a discounted price for Latitude readers - by calling Schwierzke at (530) 626-8647. We highly recommend it.

Lindemann is one of those older gentlemen - he's 75 now - who mistakenly believes that nobody cares about the achievements of his youth. Yet when his folding kayak, on permanent display in Munich's prestigious Duetches Museum, was loaned to another museum in Bonn, Lindemann was asked to appear. Although only several hundred people were expected to attend, a crowd of 2,000 - many of them from other countries - packed the auditorium to hear Lindemann speak.

If it was a life and death situation, we'd follow Lindemann's recommendations.

FOG BROOM

Re: the "fog collectors along the Baja coast."

More than 30 years ago, the New Jersey Department of Transportation invented something called a 'Fog Broom'. They would drive a flatbed truck - outfitted with a large array of fishing line strung between frames - along the turnpike when there was heavy fog. The fine line 'broom' effectively cleared one lane of the fog - for a brief period of time. It worked great, but was economically unfeasible as every fifth vehicle would have had to be a 'broom'.

So now, three decades later, someone has refined the concept, but this time to collect water rather than to clear fog. Perhaps a creative sailmaker could design a 'sail' which would collect fog droplets and deliver them to a container at the foot of the sail. Ah ha, free drinking water!

Lary Wasserman
Lorilee
Fiddlers Cove Marina, Coronado

Lary - Based on our experience, sails which transform fog into water droplets - that torturously drip on the heads of crew - are not new. Indeed, the innovation would be a sail that didn't drip when in fog.

'59 WAS A VINTAGE YEAR FOR TAHITI

Recent letters about Tig Lowe brought back a lot of memories. I sailed with Tig in 1959 when we delivered the 50-ft motorsailer Manawanui from Tahiti to Nassau. He was skipper, I was navigator, and we had three other crew members - two Kiwis and a Brit named Bill Moss. We later learned that Moss was famous for being one of the two British Secret Service agents who kidnapped the German commanding general of Crete during World War II. He wrote a bestselling book about it, Ill Met by Moonlight, which was later made into a movie.

The Manawanui had come to Tahiti from New Zealand via Honolulu. The humorist H. Alan Smith wrote about the trip in his book Waikiki Beachnik.

In any event, on the way to Panama we stopped at Mangareva, where Bill and Tig put on a boxing exhibition - much to the delight of the islanders. We naively laughed at their concerns about the atomic bomb. They apparently knew something we didn¹t, as Mangareva later became the base for the French atomic tests.

It turned out that '59 was a vintage year for Tahiti. Sterling Hayden and Spike Africa were there with the great schooner Wanderer, and Hayden gave us his copy of Kon Tiki. I think the stories in the book about the natives stealing rigging had something to do with Tig¹s electing to bypass Easter Island. Herb Caen flew down that year, and at least one of the Kon Tiki crew was still in town. Taffy Sceva, who was later commodore of the TransPacific YC, was down with his old TransPac boat, Westward Ho! Hank Taft, who later ran Outward Bound, was there aboard Blue Sea. And George Larson, one of the original L.A. surfers, was there as well aboard the old Long Island schooner Baboon.

The picture of Tig was taken the day he decided to shave his beard. He did actually play that box, and I remember him as a very creative cook when it was his turn in the galley. After we arrived in Nassau, I believe he was hired to skipper a boat for the oceanographic people at Wood¹s Hole, and I haven¹t seen him since. But it sure would be great if these letters generate a contact.

P.S. Tig knew me as 'Bones'.
Howard Kanter
Turlock, CA

BUTCHERS - BUT COURAGEOUS BUTCHERS

I would like to thank you for publishing my feature article on watermakers in the December issue of Latitude. Unfortunately, I find that difficult to do. The article, as I wrote it, contained much information of use to cruisers. I took great pains to assure that it was accurate and well written. I was deeply chagrined to read the text that was actually printed in your magazine after passing through your copy editor's hands.

During the last 35 years, I have had many articles published in a variety of forums, including book reviews, technical articles, and editorials. For many years I worked in the printing and publishing industry. I managed a popular bookstore, was a printer, typefounder, small-press publisher and editor, and taught letterpress printing and graphic arts at UCSB. In short, I am no stranger to the processes involved in the publishing world. With that said, I can state - without qualification - that I have never seen a butcher job like you performed on the submitted copy for my article.

In comparing my original to the published version of the article, I logged over seventy editorial changes. It¹s worth noting that I detected no spelling corrections, the article was not significantly shortened, and your editor missed a couple of legitimate flaws - including one case of a plural subject/singular predicate error. For the most part, the editor chose - in my opinion - to make changes that brought the prose style into better conformity with the mediocre standards that prevail in the world of second-rate journalism - alterations like introducing contractions (e.g., "I will" became "I¹ll", "is not" became "isn¹t") and eliminating words that might be too highbrow for your readers ("air ingress" became "air entry", "excreta" was eliminated).

Such changes, although irritating to an experienced author, are not the reason I¹m writing this letter. My complaint is about the changes that materially altered or excised the content and/or meaning of my text. There were a number of such changes. Instead of enumerating them all, a single instance should suffice to illustrate my point. Consider the following:

In the section discussing 'Prefilter Care', my original copy read: ³When the watermaker is running, the intake water is filtered through the 30-micron prefilter element."

This true statement was changed to read: "As anyone who has used them knows, watermakers 'make' fresh water by pumping seawater at high pressure through an extremely fine, 30-micron prefilter element."

In changing my text, your editor created an entirely false statement - and gave me the byline for it. The watermaker does not pump water through the prefilter at high pressure. It sucks water through the prefilter and then pumps it through the membrane at 800 psi. The prefilter typically operates at low - less than atmospheric - pressure, unless an optional booster pump has been installed. Finally, a 30-micron filter is not considered "extremely fine". In fact, it is a relatively coarse mesh, just adequate to prevent larger solids from passing into the membrane element.

I hope you have the courage and integrity to publish this letter. If not, at a minimum, I want to have a disclaimer published, which will inform your readers that I disassociate myself from any responsibility for the content of that article. I¹ve worked very hard over the last few years to establish my credibility within the cruising community. This article amounts to a major blow against that credibility. It remains to be seen how many copies of my book will not be sold to potential customers who read the article and concluded that I don¹t know what I¹m talking about.

A final comment: I, and many of your longtime readers, are well aware that Latitude's publisher had problems with a PUR Model 80 watermaker a few years ago, and that several negative comments about PUR watermakers appeared in the pages of Latitude. I want to make it clear that, in evaluating the editing of my article, I found no reason to suspect that the editing changes were an attempt to slant the article against, or disparage, PUR watermakers. In fact, the article was written at the publisher's request during a conversation we had in Cabo San Lucas last year. As far as I¹m concerned, this is simply a case of bad, intrusive, irresponsible copy editing - nothing more, but certainly nothing less. It¹s the sort of thing I would expect from Rush Limbaugh - not Latitude.

Gary E. Albers
Ishi
Santa Barbara

Gary - We're uncomfortable with what we consider to be unnecessary formality - particularly with regard to casual activities such as sailing. So yeah, we happily use contractions - as well as words such as 'yeah' instead of 'yes'. In all honesty, we don't see any reason to apologize for it.

As for copy editor changes that created factual errors, we sincerely apologize for the mistakes. Our intent, as always, was to make the article as readable as possible. Unfortunately, we're human, and do make mistakes. But consider the bright side of things, as these errors will no doubt make people more eager than ever to own a copy of your book.

WHAT HAPPENED TO DUE PROCESS?

A while ago, I wrote Latitude expressing my unhappiness that 'unlimited discretion' for boarding boats had filtered down to the deputy law enforcement level. Rather than publishing my letter, you wrote back to say it was your belief that the Coast Guard was the only law enforcement agency with boarding privileges, and that they could only exercise them under certain circumstances.

Well, check out the following quote from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife website:

"Boating Regulations, the inspection of vessels. In order to enforce the provisions of the Water Safety Act, enforcement officers - game wardens and other peace officers - may stop and board and inspect any vessel to determine compliance with applicable provisions."

Was I just hallucinating or did I really take a class once where the terms "probable cause" and "due process" were used?

Name Withheld By Request
Texas

N.W.B.R. - The Coast Guard can board all U.S. flag vessels in territorial and international waters any time they want - as long as they observed the boat underway. There are limitations on what parts of your boat the Coast Guard can search - at least in theory.

Based on the information you provided, it appears clear that game wardens and other peace officers - in Texas at least - also can stop and board boats. Nonetheless, if they boarded your boat to check for oily discharge and found it full of pot, we'd bet that even a storefront lawyer could get you off. This doesn't eliminate the fact that we think it's a gross violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal searches. In a somewhat related matter, the Supreme Court recently ruled that just because a vehicle is stopped for a traffic violation doesn't mean it can be searched.

BETTER HERE THAN AT SEA

We installed a holding tank last month, but then had a rude surprise. When we attempted to shut the outflow valve from the toilet, we discovered that it was frozen in place. We gave it a whack - and the main thru-hull valve and fitting crumbled! Fortunately, I still had wooden plugs for all thru-hulls. They'd been lying around in the boat ever since I¹d made them 20 some years ago on recommendation of our first surveyor, Jim Jessie.

Last month, when we then checked the other original thru-hulls, we found the three of them were in an equally precarious state. It's appalling to think that the more recent surveyors apparently hadn't checked the integrity of these original fittings by giving them a solid whack.

Of course, I should have been 'exercising' these valves regularly, and even stressing them during haulouts. Mea culpa! However, that doesn¹t excuse the surveyors. On the whole, however, I must admit that I've found surveyors to be conscientious and competent. The one exception was a guy who described my little Atomic 4 as a diesel in an insurance report! Don't I wish.

Another thing. Jessie was the only surveyor who made a point of telling me about his reasons for stressing the fittings: "Better they break here than at sea." He also told me to hit my fire extinguishers with a mallet, and occasionally mount them upside down. Why? Because these two things would help prevent the chemicals from forming into a solid - and therefore useless lump - when they were needed. Jessie also told me that I should disable the automatic bilge pump when I was at sea.

I wish all surveyors felt it was a part of their job to educate us boatowners at the time of their inspections. Jessie sure did. Of course, if the custom became prevalent, it might make work for 'land sharks' who would encourage skippers to sue for "a failure to warn."

Until I dipped into Diana Green Jessie¹s book, Cruising Women¹s Advisor, I didn¹t know about Jim Jessie¹s video, Be Your Own Sailboat Surveyor, Almost. In 50 years of sailing on San Francisco Bay and beyond in a series of ever larger boats, I can think of a dozen things I myself have learned to watch out for. I only discovered them before disaster struck thanks to the good auspices of my Guardian Angel.

I would like to propose a kind of 'belt and suspenders' idea that could potentially benefit even the most responsible skipper. Diana and Jim should be asked to put together a pamphlet or brochure on the subject. It should be financed by some consortium of marine insurance companies, with the idea that every marine surveyor would leave a copy aboard at the time of every survey.

I hope Latitude will publish our thru-hull experience as a cautionary tale. It also pleases me that your good magazine keeps us informed about how good people like Jim and his wife Diana are doing enjoying their well-deserved retirement visiting far off ports of call - which now I can only dream of visiting. I shall probably reach the Pearly Gates before Jim does, but I expect to be denied entrance and informed that the hinges have corroded from salty language used by so many uptight racing skippers. But I shall recommend that St. Peter give Jim Jessie a well-deserved welcome - and ask Jim to check those hinges as soon as he¹s secured his dock lines and put his fenders out.

Malcolm Sowers
Sinola, Islander 30 Mk II
Castro Valley

Malcolm - What is a 'belt and suspenders' idea?

We owned Big O when she turned 20, and one of our priority projects became replacing all the thru-hulls. It wasn't easy, because there were 27 of them, and because many of them had been glassed in. But it was worth it, because we discovered that a few of those that had passed the scraping and 'baby sledge' tests were nonetheless about to fail. Some of the failures would have been tiny pin holes, some would have represented more significant deterioration.

If anyone out there has a boat that's 20 years or more old, we'd give very serious consideration to replacing all the thru hulls - even if they can stand up to a baby sledge.

ALMOST A NEW BOAT

In your Around Alone update of Leg One, you made a slight error. Brad Van Liew's Marina del Rey-based Balance Bar, formerly California Challenge, was not ex-Duracell, Mike Plant¹s '90-91 BOC steed. It was actually Alan Nebauer¹s New Castle Australia, which was new in the '94-95 race. We watched the careful refit - supervised by Nebauer - for the current race when it was carried out in Marina del Rey. The refit included a reshaped keel, a new rudder, mast, engine, generator and deck hardware. With all the changes and loss of 1,500 pounds, you could almost call her a new boat.

Nebauer finished fourth in the '94-95 race after a few minor problems - little things like a delaminated keel in the Atlantic, a dismasting in the Southern Ocean, and losing his rudder after replacing the mast in the Falklands. You can read his riveting tale in his book Against All Odds, Around Alone in the BOC Challenge (McGraw-Hill).

We are friends with both Alan and Brad, and don¹t believe they are trying to keep the origin of the boat a secret - it's been mentioned several times on the Around Alone site and in several California publications! Best regards.

Richard and Kati Findlay
Equation, Chance 68
Marina del Rey

Richard & Kati - We're sorry for the error - sometimes there are just too many boats and names to keep straight during a harried deadline.

By the way, we assume that your Equation is the really bitchin' old maxi ketch that used to thrill all the sailors - our Racing Editor included, when he was young - on Long Island Sound. She participated in the Bermuda Race, the SORC, and a host of others major events. If she's still in pretty good shape, we'd like to write about her.

Random thought: Anybody know what happened to the cool old East Coast boat called Thunderhead?

NO LONGER REPAIR THIS SERIES

If I remember correctly, the Magellan NAV 5000 originally sold for more than $500. My unit has failed twice in the last several years. Recently I sent it to the company¹s repair department for repair. It runs on a 12-volt cable connection, but not on batteries. I received the following form letter in reply:

"Dear Customer,

We must inform you with regret, that we no longer repair this particular series of units."

No offer was made to sell me a new one, even at list price.

It seems to me that the boating community should not support a company that refuses to stand by its products, particularly one that required such a large initial investment.

John Cotton
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

John - In most cases we'd heartily agree with you, but in this case we're only giving lukewarm support. As we all know, many modern electronic products - including GPSs - are being dramatically improved at an incredible pace. As a result, products even just a couple of years old are vastly inferior to current models that actually cost much less. So rather than getting too upset about it, we'd plunk down the $200 or so it costs for a newer, far superior GPS - one that probably runs on both batteries and 12-volt.

STUGERON WORKS FOR ME

Pauline Taylor is right about Stugeron, a seasickness remedy. A lot of folks swear by it, including yours truly, who has suffered from mal de mer for years. I just acquired a new stock of it over-the-counter in England, where I was warned to lookout for drowsiness as a side effect. The pharmacist, who happened to be a sailor himself, said that not everyone suffered from this side-effect - I don't - but until you find out, don't drive a car after taking it. And don't take the helm in a busy shipping lane!

It seems that the United States is the only country where you need a prescription to get Stugeron, so you might ask your physician about long-term effects. I asked mine.

Brian Fagan
Santa Barbara

HOG HEAVEN IN VALLEJO

I loved your October feature on cruising up the Napa River. I live in Vallejo and missed your stop at the marina. Someone told me you stopped there - and I believe them because they said you had a lovely crew.

I have two boats in Vallejo Marina, one is a 36-foot cabin cruiser and the other is a Columbia 22 sailboat. Needless to say, I'm in hog heaven. I have been in Vallejo for over 20 years now, and retired from Mare Island in 1985. After I retired, I was babysitting a friend's house that happened to have a very large driveway. So I took the money I was saving by not paying rent and put it toward building a 33-ft houseboat. When he came back and discovered what was going on in his driveway, he was a little upset. But when I put it in the water and it floated, he was so impressed that he forgave me.

I lived on the houseboat for three years, then sold it for more than it cost to build. I used the profits to build my 36-footer, which I've been on for six years now. During this time I came to meet many people in this area. Some were real characters, some have real character; I think we can tell the difference.

Anyway, had you stopped at the guest dock around 1800, and if you'd walked up to the Remark's Harbor House, you would have met a bunch of new and old sailors. One of the most interesting of them would have been Bib, who is over 72 years old and has been building his Charles Wittholz-designed 42-footer since 1975. I've never been so happy for a person as I was for Bib on April 18 of last year when he took Muriel on her maiden voyage.

Bib had started Muriel back in '75 with five tons of plate steel stacked against a tree somewhere along the Sacramento River, and it's been a long pull. The building site flooded three times while he was there, and once he had to flood his unfinished boat to keep her from floating away! Between floods, he was slowed down by two open-heart surgeries, a crushed heel suffered when he fell off a ladder, a ruptured something, an attack of pancreatitis, and other nuisances. He also had to paint the boat a little early because people driving along the freeway close to where the boat was tied would shoot at it. "She did look like a beer can on a sand dune in the desert," Bib admits. In any event, he waited to put the ports in until he'd moved the boat out of gun shot range.

When the boat was finally launched, I got to pace her. I did it again when Bib was able to get all the sails flying. I was in my Columbia 22 chasing him when I took the accompanying photographs. I started out way ahead of him, and after he got two of his sails up, I had to start my engine to keep up. When he put the mizzen up, he really left me in the dust. I was later able to take a shortcut across the Bay and get some lovely shots of Muriel. When we finally met back at the berth, it was so hot that I had to take a swim. But the beer was cold and we were all so happy for Bib.

Bib plans to sail off to find the lost treasure of Lima on Cocos Island or something like that. But it's the journey and adventure, not the destination or treasure, that he says interests him. But until Bib leaves, I'd like everyone who sees him on the Bay to give him big waves and think of what it took to accomplish something like this. Hats off to you, Bib!

Joe Balocca
Wave Walker
Vallejo

Joe - Bib kind of reminds us of one of our all-time favorite cruisers. We can't remember his name, but he was also from Vallejo. After retiring from Mare Island, this guy got a pile of scrap steel and decided to build his version of a Columbia 43. It was rough, but he did make it down to Mexico, which was his dream because he never wanted to be cold again in his life.

What a wild boat, though! Her mast was made from a series of dairy truck drive shafts welded together. The standing rigging was used guy wire from PG&E. He lathed a bunch of big wooden blocks and fitted them out with Ford starter motors, giving him the cheapest electric winches in the world. He carried full welding equipment, and even fabricated a new prop while at anchor. His 'brand new' engine was surplus from World War II, and the transmission was a big manual thing - we're not making this up - that required you to push a large trailer tire from one side of the boat to the other in order to shift gears. But the coolest thing of all was that the guy kept his greasy wrenches and screwdrivers right in there with his silverware. Oddly enough, he was a singlehander.

PRUDENT AND INFORMED

My question regards who has the right-of-way in a crossing situation. I thought I knew the answer, but I'd gotten different answers from different people.

When returning from the Gate along the Cityfront, sometimes under sail, sometimes under power, I often encounter Blue & Gold and Red & White fleet ferries entering or leaving their respective berths. My understanding of the rules of the road is that, in general, I am the burdened vessel when traffic is approaching from my starboard, i.e. leaving the city berths, but that I am the stand-on vessel for traffic approaching from my port, i.e. returning from Alcatraz.

But it¹s one of those situations where I am not sure if there are special rules for the tourist boat fleet. I've gotten some pretty dirty looks - although no horns - from ferry boat skippers returning from Alcatraz when I act as the stand on vessel. Any definitive thoughts? I¹d like to act as both a prudent and informed skipper.

Richard Deep
Hunter 31
South Beach

Richard - Your basic interpretation of the rules of the road is fine, however, there's also something called the 'General Prudential Rule'. This rule says that if there are special circumstances, it may be prudent not to push the rules.

Here are some of the 'special circumstances' often found in the area you're referring to:

- multiple ferries with limited maneuverability arriving and departing from Fisherman's Wharf.

- multiple ferries with limited maneuverability arriving and departing from Pier 39.

- Adventure Cat and other charter boats leaving Pier 39.

- the Pier 39 seaplane taking off and landing.

- noisy sea lions.

- strong currents

- fleets of racing boats short-tacking the shore to get relief from the flood.

If more than a couple of these circumstances are in effect, 'pushing' your rights may create dangerous situations for other boats - to say nothing of sea lions and sea planes. So the prudent thing would be to either avoid the area entirely, or vary your speed and/or course to give the skippers of the other vessels - particularly those with limited maneuverability - room to operate their vessels.

In our opinion, the area within 300 yards of the entrance to the west side of Pier 39 is the most dangerous on the Bay. Sometimes, of course, there's hardly anything going on and it's perfectly safe, but when it's really hopping with commercial and other traffic, you and others might remember the 'general prudential rule'.

WHAT EXCITEMENT!

Latitude does it again, leading all the U.S. yachting magazines with the story on Explorer. What excitement! Let's hope it will inspire some West Coast sailors to build some multihulls like that.

Grey McGown
Fort Worth, Texas

Grey - Thanks. Please see this issue's story on Steve Fossett's spectacular new ultramaxi catamaran PlayStation.

FOR THE SAKE OF THE DOG

Perhaps our experience cruising with a dog is not as recent as would be preferred, but here it is: We cruised with Joshua, our Schipperke, from Mexico to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgins between 1987 and 1995, transiting the Panama Canal in May of '89. During that time, no one ever asked us about the dog - even though we frequently took him on walks ashore in every country we visited.

We got a health certificate for Joshua in San Diego before entering Mexico. The officials in Ensenada were surprised that we wanted to clear the dog in, so apparently this was uncommon. They sent us to a very nice young man in the Agriculture Department who thought the whole thing was amusing. We didn't speak Spanish and he didn't speak English, but we'd both studied French in high school so we tried to communicate in that third language. In the end, he gave us a piece of paper for Joshua.

While in Mexico, we got the rabies and other vaccines renewed. We did it for the dog, not because any bureaucrat required it.

When we cleared into Costa Rica, no one asked if we had any animals. We didn't volunteer the information either, primarily because it no longer crossed our mind as an issue. Nobody asked about pets when we cleared into Panama either.

But it would be different when we cleared back into the United States in Florida in '89, right? Wrong, as nobody asked if we had animals. As a matter of fact, we checked in from Bradenton - Tampa Bay - by telephone, and nobody even wanted to see us. It was all very casual. "Got any produce?" the guy asked over the phone. "Some potatoes," my husband replied. "Throw 'em away," the Customs guy instructed. That was it.

Prior to sailing from Florida to the Bahamas in '94, we stopped in Marathon to get a health certificate for Joshua. We needn't have bothered, for when we got to Cat Cay, the officials weren't interested in the dog's health certificate. They weren't even interested in the dog. The same story applied in the Turks & Caicos, the Dominican Republic, and in Puerto Rico. Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, we thought the officials would check the dog out, but they were far more interested in people than animals.

In fact, the only time we were asked to be sure to have a rabies certificate for Joshua was when we departed St. Thomas for Atlanta after losing Michaelanne in hurricane Marilyn. Prior to the flight we had to have an updated health certificate. We got one from an accommodating veterinarian on St. Thomas, who looked at Joshua, said he was healthy, gave him a rabies booster, and sent us on our way.

We haven't been to the South Pacific yet, and we understand that those countries are far more restrictive regarding dogs and cats. But we'll cross that bridge in several years when we take off in that direction. In the meantime, we plan to join the '99 Baja Ha-Ha to revisit Mexico. Of all the places we've been, we've absolutely loved it the most.

Mike and Anne Kelty
Michaelanne
Alameda

Mike & Anne - Thanks for the fine report - and the accurate observation that regulations are much stricter in Hawaii and the South Pacific. We'll look forward to enjoying Ha-Ha '99 with you.

ANTIGUA DATES

May I have the dates of Antigua Sailing Week and the Antigua Classic Regatta? I'm trying to decide where to rendezvous with my family in the Caribbean during Easter Week, and if Easter vacation coincides with the Antigua festivities, it might be hard to obtain air tickets.

Right now my boat is in the Canary Islands and we sail for Barbados in mid-January. It would be reasonable for us to reach Antigua in January, but can my vacationing grandchildren get there?

Andrew Dossett
Balboa, CA

Andrew - Easter Sunday falls on April 4 this year, so there won't be any conflict with either of the regattas you're interested in.

The Antigua Classic Regatta will be held from April 15-20. This was a brilliant event last year, and is expected - with no less than three 135-foot J Class yachts entered - to be even more spectacular in '99. If you still have your sweet little wood ketch, she'd make this great event even better. Any good search engine will take you to the event's terrific website.

Antigua Sailing Week always starts on the last Sunday in April - which means this year's 32nd running will be from April 25 through May 1. Last year, 250 boats and 6,000 sailors participated. Every sailor must do this event at least once or they probably won't be allowed in sailor heaven. Any search engine will take you to this event's equally lovely website.

Once these great but hectic events are over, you'll want a lovely and tranquil place to recover. There's only one place up for the job: St. Barths, just 80 miles to leeward.

ONE OF THE BETTER PREPS

One of the better preparations we did for our cruise down here to Mexico was take the radio course offered through Oakland YC in Alameda. I highly recommend it because it's an easy and nearly painless way to get on the air. Contact Rich Beckett at the club for further information.

Another great thing down here is the near instant communications, including e-mail programs such as Airmail. All you need is a HF Ham band transceiver and a TNC and the results are phenomenal.

And now that we're in '80-80 land' - 80° air and 80º water - we like to say congratulations to all those responsible for the recent Baja Ha-Ha. We had lots of fun and continue to meet friends we made when we pull into anchorages. The Ha-Ha is a great way to start cruising because 'we're all in the same boat'. Keep those Ha-Ha's coming!

Bob Lyon
Lyon Around
Mazatlan

Bob - Thanks for the kind words. Email is really terrific, isn't it? Sometimes we 'talk' five times a day with cruisers on the other side of the world.

FOND MEMORIES

It was with great interest that I read the You Dirty Rat article by Rick and Toni Knier, for I had enjoyed the Knier's company while cruising my Ericson 38 Escapade in the South Pacific. We spent time together in Nuka Hiva and then again in Papeete.

My boat blew ashore in Papeete and was damaged. I decided to ship her home to Long Beach and do the repairs here. She was relaunched in May of this year. She's now in slip 1443, gangway 32, Alamitos Bay Marina, Long Beach. It was the same slip she left on February 17th of '97.

In any event, reading Rick and Toni's article piqued many fond memories of the beach barbecues, dinners and other activities we enjoyed together and with other cruisers. Since the couple are now in the Los Angeles area where I live, I'd love to talk with them about the rest of their cruise to New Zealand. Unfortunately, I can't find their boat card. Rick and Toni, can you please contact me at: (909) 780-2694 or email me at: thirdtier@aol.com.

P.S. I read Latitude avidly, as it's far more informative than anything here in Southern California.

Darrell Sausser
Riverside

Darrell - For education's sake, how about a couple paragraphs explaining how your Ericson ended up on the beach, and how hard and expensive it was to send her back to California.

DC APPLIANCES

My boyfriend and I are looking to move aboard his Catalina 30 in the spring. In an effort to make it an easier transition for me - being new to the sailing lifestyle - he's been searching for DC appliances - but with no success! We¹re not looking for a dishwasher or washer & dryer, just things like a small coffee maker, a hot plate, a crock pot - anything.

So far we've searched camping stores, motorhome stores, camping, boating and appliances websites, but still can't find a thing. I just love reading your publication, and figured if anyone knows where to find these items, it would be you. Are you aware of a secret market for these items, or maybe a place to search? It would help us tremendously.

Mari Collazo
Campbell/East Bay

Mari - You don't need DC appliances. In fact, you don't want them because they're hard to find and expensive.

Presuming the Catalina is going to be tied up to a dock, you'll have a power cord to plug into the boat's 110-volt system. This will allow you to use normal appliances. If you're going to want 110-volt power when you're away from the dock on overnight trips or jaunts up the Delta, you'll want to have an invertor to change your boat's 12-volt power to 110 volts. Many boats are equipped with combination battery chargers/invertors. One caution: you probably don't have too many batteries on a Catalina 30, so you'll have to use the invertor sparingly or run the motor a lot to recharge the batteries.

Here's to hoping you enjoy living aboard. Among its many advantages is that you learn how little stuff you really need.

MATO GROSSO TO IDAHO

I'm writing to update your readers on the progress of the journey of the late Tristan Jones' Sea Dart. Those who have read Jones' novels will recall that Sea Dart was one of a number of boats owned by the adventurer. Sea Dart is noteworthy because it was the first ocean-going vessel to sail the waters of Lake Titicaca, high in the Andes Mountains, and the first vessel of any kind to take on the treacherous River Paraguay and challenge the Mato Grosso.

The adventures aboard Sea Dart led to Jones writing Adrift and a portion of the Incredible Journey. With this rich history, the sturdy little boat was donated to Idaho State Parks by Rick Segal of Issaquah, Washington. The intention was to have the boat restored, after which it's to be an inspiration to the children of Idaho and for everyone to be alert to safe boating practises.

Sea Dart is currently undergoing renovation at The Boat Shop in Post Falls, Idaho, with a goal of having her ready to sail in the spring of 1999. Plans call for her to be featured at the January 1999 King Dome Boat Show in Seattle, where attendees who seek adventure and romance can buy a raffle ticket to win a cruise aboard Sea Dart. This inaugural cruise will be on beautiful Lake Coeur d¹Alene and include a night at the Coeur d¹Alene Resort on the lake as well as dinner at the Resort¹s finest restaurant. The raffle winner will also get round-trip air fare, Sea Dart wind breakers, and a professional photograph to capture the experience. The money raised from the raffle will help pay the expenses of renovating the boat and ongoing maintenance.

The undersigned, most recently of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission¹s Boating Programs office, has been hired as Boating Education Coordinator for North Idaho, and manager of the Sea Dart Program. Strong is a native of northern Idaho, and has spent many hours sailing northern Idaho lakes, Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands.

Plans are to take Sea Dart around the state, as well as the Northwest, to teach safe boating skills to young people and demonstrate how safety is a routine part of the adventure of boating. In Tristan Jones¹ book Adrift, Tristan was asked by a crewmember aboard the charter boat Star Rider, "When you get a craft ready for sea, what¹s the most important thing to take into consideration?" Tristan¹s response was, "The most important thing is the people involved, everything follows from that. The most important consideration at sea is the life and safety of the people, first in your own vessel and then the people in any other vessels." This focus on safety, the joy of sailing and boating, and the rich adventures Jones shares in his books will create interest and respect for the sea.

Those interested in finding out more about Sea Dart or in donating to the program may contact Doug Strong at the Idaho State Department of Parks and Recreation, North Region Office, 2750 Kathleen Ave., Suite 1, Coeur d¹Alene, Idaho, 83815.

Douglas K. Strong
Boating Education Coordinator
Sea Dart Program

Douglas - We met Tristan Jones many years ago - in Oakland, of all places - when he was just beginning to rev up his uncontrollable imagination. We loved it when he looked us right in the eye and - with the conviction of a president - affirmed that he'd taught his dog how to play chess in order to pass the time while their boat was trapped in ice for six months. If Sea Dart is anywhere as interesting as Tristan, you'll be raffled out before you know it.

THE BOAT IS TOSSED, PERIOD

I read your response to Marda Phelps with a barely concealed chuckle, but also with a bit of wonderment. How come you all down there don¹t adopt the systems we have up here in Puget Sound for racers who get too close to freighters? When the offended vessel calls the sail number to the VTS, the boat is tossed. Period.

Such actions as you reported go waaaaaaay beyond the rules of racing, they go straight at safety of life at sea.

Gary Schmidt
SYZYGY
Port Madison, Washington

Readers - We became acquainted with Gary after he, captain of an American President Lines container ship, deftly maneuvered his huge vessel to rescue several sailors from a sinking boat. He later arranged for us to make the trip with him from Los Angeles to San Francisco aboard a state-of-the-art 960-foot container ship. It was an experience we'll never forget.

But here's the problem, Gary: How to determine when a sailboat has crossed too close in front of a commercial vessel? Without guidelines, everyone's in the dark. We hope you'll read this month's Sightings piece about the matter and share your expertise with the folks at the St. Francis YC, who are trying to come up with guidelines.

VERY STRICT RULES

We¹re trying to organize the medium displacement 30-foot boats into our own fleet up here in the Northwest. The reason is simple: we don't like having to sail against Rhodes 58s and the like. It's just not fun. We heard that San Francisco Bay has a fleet organized along the same lines. Can you give me any information or names and phone numbers of someone we could contact that might be able to help us in our efforts?

With regard to several boats crossing in front of commercial shipping in San Francisco Bay, our PHRF committee, the various race committees, and the Coast Guard has worked together to institute very strict rules about such things. Boats that violate the rules are tossed with no recourse or appeal.

Gerry Henson
Pacific Northwest

Gerry - The SF Bay 30-Footers maintain a website that is full of information and contacts - www.pubpow/sfbay30/.

As for sailboats crossing in front of commercial traffic, who decides when a boat has passed too close? Is it the skipper of the commercial vessel, the Coast Guard, or the race committee? And by what standard do any or all of the above decide a vessel crossed too close? Given the various speeds of the different vessels, the different weather conditions, and the different situations, it seems to us to be a very difficult question.

BARNACLE ANCHOR

I just spent a month in the U.S. Virgin Islands and wanted to make a couple of comments. First, hurricane Georges did little damage in the Virgins and life is pretty much back to normal. Second, shirts and caps supporting the Virgin Island challenge for the America's Cup are omnipresent. Everybody seems excited about the effort. Third, friends of Latitude who now own the 41-foot Mirage that Les Harlander built in Richmond say, "Hi."

And finally, Fan Fare Charters - located next to Latitude 18º - has two J/29s for charter. I got to go out and do some match racing on one in the waters between St. Thomas and St. Johns. The air was 90º, the water was 84º, the Heinekens were ice cold - and it made for quite a nice afternoon.

The other reason I¹m writing is because of the Barnacle anchor I saw advertised in the Virgins. I¹ve never seen anything like it: curved shank with a single fluke. What¹s the chance of Latitude testing out the anchor on Profligate and giving us a report next spring or summer? It¹s the first radical change I¹ve seen in anchor design since the Bruce came out.

By the way, Ron, the owner of Latitude 18º, and I don¹t look all that dissimilar. So while having dinner there, a guy came off the dock and said, "Hi, Ron." A few minutes later a woman did the same thing. I asked the bartender how these people could have known my name as it was my first visit there. She said because I resembled the owner, Ron, who hails from San Francisco! I told her that besides having the same name, I also come from the San Francisco Bay Area. I had the opportunity to meet Ron the next day and compare notes. A number of times during my stay on St. Thomas people came up to me and said, "Hi, Ron," leaving me to explain that I wasn't the owner of Latitude 18º. I had a lot of fun with it, though.

Ron Landmann
Oakland

Ron - We first saw the Barnacle anchor about 12 years ago when we bought Big O in that part of the Caribbean. We almost bought a Barnacle, but then decided to stick with the tried and true CQR and Bruce types. Since either the CQR or Bruce subsequently handled all of our anchoring needs, we never found reason to try anything different. And since we try to avoid weight on the new catamaran, we're experimenting with the lightweight Fortress anchors. The Barnacle is an interesting design, however, and we're wondering if anybody out there would like to report on their experiences with the hook.

DID I NOT HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY?

You were absolutely correct when - in my letter complaining about a port-starboard incident with a racing boat - you wondered if I said I tacked when I had really jibed. My fingers often type faster than my mind can think, and I indeed made the mistake.

But the situation was thus: My Myste had the wind wide on her starboard, with the mainsail boom to port. The racing boat was close-hauled with the wind on her port side, boom just to starboard. Did I not have the right-of-way?

I¹m no sea lawyer, but I thought I was supposed to maintain my course up to the point of collision.

Rev. David Michael Rice
Mariner¹s Ministries
Dana Point

Rev. - In all but special circumstances, starboard tack boats have right-of-way over port tack boats. So if you've described the situation correctly, you had rights. Your obligation was to holler "starboard!" at the top of your lungs when the other boat got close. The other boat should have then responded by shouting, "Hold your course!" or immediately tacking.

By the way, you are not supposed to "maintain my course up to the point of collision." In situations where it's obvious that a collision is imminent, the skipper must do everything to avoid contact - even if he/she had rights.

NICKNAMES

Latitude is so right about 'Z-town' and other nicknames being terms of affection rather than disrespect. Confirmation comes from our beloved Star Wars, where the little fellow Rudolophus, of the Second Galaxy, Dionesus II, is fondly nicknamed - for obvious reason - R2D2.

P.S. You may call me 'Max'.

Maxinamillion
Ostinato
Pt. Richmond

Max - Another reason it's called Z-town is because most people don't know how to spell Zihautanejo. Or is it Zihuatanejo?

MATT'S PROFESSIONALISM

I've only been in the San Francisco sailing scene for about three years, but have really enjoyed the regattas hosted by the St. Francis YC - specifically those run by Matt Jones.

I was lucky enough to work with Matt during the 1998 Big Boat Series, and was really impressed. You could tell he'd been running regattas for 15 years and you could tell that he really enjoyed his job. I'd done volunteer race committee work at other clubs, but nobody I've seen came close to matching Matt's organization and professionalism. He made running a regatta look easy - and it's not. Matt had a lot of character and charm, too, and he was easy to spot from a mile away with his brightly colored shirts.

So Matt, I wish you all the best, no matter where your deck shoes land. You will be missed!

Julie Harrar
San Francisco

Julie - Matt was one of a kind, and won't be easy to replace. The St. Francis is still searching for a new race manager, with several "younger, but highly qualified, East Coast candidates" currently topping the list. They intend to fill the position before their first event of '99, the Spring Keel Regatta on March 6-7.

If you want to 'keep up with the Joneses', Matt can be contacted at heyhoser@earthlink.net.

OFF THE BACK SHELF

From time to time you publish examples of local companies that perform above and beyond the normal standards of service. Well, I've got an example of a national company - 3M - doing the same thing.

I needed one or two more cartridges of 3M's black Marine Sealant 101 to complete a teak deck job. Both local suppliers and a mail order house reported that the product had been discontinued. Fortunately, Lew at Whale Point Marine in Point Richmond gave me 3M¹s phone number. I eventually worked through the company¹s voice mail system and got a prompt call back from Scott Carroll, product manager at 3M's offices in St. Paul. Carroll took a cartridge off his back shelf, found a second, and then sent them to me - at no charge!

Thank you 3M, thank you Scott Carroll.

Robert De Haan

Petaluma

Robert - 3M is actually what you'd call a 'multinational'. In fact, about five years ago we remember tromping around Port of Spain, Trinidad, looking for the 3M corporate office - the only place in the whole country that had decent adhesive remover.

OWNERS AND DELIVERY SKIPPERS

The Changes from "Anonymous" about a delivery skipper and crew in the November issue raises some interesting points.

First, I don¹t know any of the parties involved, but it seems as though there are always two sides to every story. It might have been interesting if Latitude could have contacted the delivery skipper whose "loyalty" was repeatedly called into question. I¹m always a little uncomfortable when you print one of these 'finger-pointing' stories. We all seem to pay the price by being subjected to a flurry of nasty 'he-said, she-said' letters in following issues.

Second, when you hire a delivery skipper what exactly are the responsibilities of that skipper? Since this is a business transaction, it seems to me that this should be clear to all parties at the outset.

For example, is it generally assumed that the skipper has the obligation to deliver the boat to the specified destination - no matter what happens along the way? If there is an equipment breakdown, does the delivery skipper have the obligation to oversee extensive repairs? What if this takes much more time than the planned voyage? Should the skipper expect compensation for the additional time required? If he had committed to deliver another vessel afterwards, should he have the right to go on to his next job as scheduled?

Maybe this would be a good opportunity for Latitude to examine the nature of the agreements between delivery skippers and owners, and what both parties should expect.

Marceline Therrien
Cal Sailing Club, Oakland

Marceline - There invariably are two sides to every story, and it would have been nice to have heard from the delivery skipper. But as he and his crew were long gone, it was not possible. Nonetheless, since no boat or individual names were used, we thought the piece worked well as a cautionary tale for both owners and skippers alike. While we don't have confirmation that this particular delivery skipper bailed before the owner or his rep could arrive on the scene, it's important for owners to be aware that such things do happen.

Although "examining the nature of agreements between delivery skippers and boatowners" is a terrific idea, it's virtually impossible for the simple reason there are about as many different agreements as there are deliveries - and in most cases none of the important details are spelled out. Indeed, the boat delivery 'industry' is about the most unregulated in the world because everyone who has sailed a couple of times and needs what they think will be easy cash fancies themselves a delivery skipper. It's rarely a problem where the job is delivering a boat from Newport Beach to San Diego, but it's an entirely different story when a boat needs to be taken from Cabo to San Francisco or San Francisco to the Caribbean.

In any event, we sought some answers to your questions from Warwick 'Commodore' Tompkins, who has been doing deliveries for longer than many of us have been sailing. "Like all other relationships between humans," says Tompkins, "the key to success is that the expectations and obligations of both parties be clarified in writing from the outset."

But Tompkins hastens to add that "the nature of voyaging in small boats is so complicated and subject to so many variables that it's close to impossible to write an all-inclusive contract." So when Tompkins considers a delivery, he requires that he inspect the boat and make sure she's prepared for the proposed trip. If the boat is local, there's not much expense involved. If the boat is far away, he insists on being provided with a round-trip ticket to wherever the boat is.

"Once I get to the boat, I survey it myself and discuss the results with the owner," he says. "If things need to be fixed, I insist they be fixed or that there be some sort of compensation. Or else I fly home. A few years ago, I flew to Japan to check out a maxi sled the owner wanted brought back to California. When I got there, the boat was in reasonable condition - except that the rod rigging, which should be replaced after 10 years, was 12 years old. Because of that, I negotiated with the owner to take out an insurance policy favorable to the crew. And then did the delivery.

"If it's a complex delivery - say San Francisco to the Caribbean or Australia - and the boat checks out, I come up with a per week fee for myself, and then submit a proposal to the owner indicating the schedule I intend to follow - subject to breakdowns and unexpected weather, of course. I also build in a time cushion because there are invariably delays caused by breakdowns, port officials or other things beyond a skipper's control. In addition to my set fee, I clearly let the owner know that he is responsible for all other expenses - such as air fares, stores, fuel, spares and repairs, harbor fees and everything else.

"When I submit my proposal to the owner, I also include a clause to cover what might be called a 'catastrophic failure' of the yacht - something like the rig falling down. If something like that happens, the whole deal has to be renegotiated from that point on. I can assure you, however, that I would never leave a vessel stranded in a Third World country before the owner had a reasonable amount of time to replace me, if that's what we decided on.

"I can also tell you that I've never failed to deliver a boat I contracted to deliver. That's partly because I check the boat out carefully beforehand; partly because I'm very wary of doing deliveries for people I don't know; and partly because I will not deliver boats that don't sail well. In over 60 years of sailing, the closest I've come to losing my life was delivering a Cascade 29 from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. In my estimation, it's not a good sailng boat."

For every high-end professional delivery skipper like Tompkins, there are 10 who - in need of money and an adventure - will, sight unseen, agree to a contract that reads: "Will deliver 'World Cruiser 40' from Cabo to San Francisco for $2/mile, $500 in food, and two plane tickets." Sometimes deals like that work out just fine, but often they don't.

If anyone else wants to weigh in on owner/delivery skippers relations, we'd all like to hear from you.

BEST CREW, BEST BOAT, BEST TIME

I¹ve just returned home - work! - from the Ha-Ha and wanted to thank the Wanderer and other Baja Ha-Ha folks for putting on such a fun and fine event. I think that I can safely speak for skipper Mike Hibbetts and the entire crew of the CT-49 Orion - the winners of the 'sole sailor' award - that we had a blast! In my estimation, we had the best crew, the best boat, and the best time!

I¹ve attached the story that we all wrote together (we had a lot of time on our hands, sailing the entire way!), using all the names of the boats and class categories. Those that were able to hear it at the awards party really loved it. We were happy to contribute in some way to the fun! Now I¹m sure I want to go cruising for a real long time! I think I may have something happening here! Thanks again, Latitude for making this all possible!

Nancy Birnbaum
Marin County

Nancy - Thanks for the compliments, but while Latitude contributes some prizes and gives editorial support, the event is the doing of Baja Ha-Ha, Inc., a minuscule little company without enough assets to be worth suing.

Actually, you guys won the 'soul sailor' award that's given to any and all Ha-Ha boats that sail all the way from San Diego to Cabo. We suppose you were also the 'sole' winners of the award this year, because the only other boat to sail all the way was the race committee catamaran.

THE BLESSINGS OF ADVERSITY

This letter is long overdue. Reading about ourselves in your April The Truth about ´Finders Keepers' article prompted us to finally share the story of what happened to us off the coast of Northern California in October of '97.

We're Canadians who had been living in Portland while preparing for our cruise. After finally heading south aboard our Cascade 29 Soluna, while offshore we discovered that our shaft had parted from the engine coupling. Taking on water and concerned that the shaft would come out of the boat, we notified the Coast Guard North Group of our situation. They routed the cutter Point Heyer, based in Crescent City, to us to check out the situation. While the Point Heyer was en route, the Coast Guard checked in with us every 30 minutes to make sure everything was all right. At the time the weather was, as you noted, "extremely nasty."

From start to finish, the skills and seamanship displayed by the captain and crew of the Point Heyer were exemplary. First, they used their inflatable to bring their engineer to our boat to evaluate the situation. He confirmed our analysis of the problem. Next they had a helicopter drop a pump onboard. After a drogue was delivered from the cutter and deployed from Soluna, she was taken under tow.

Just prior to sunset, we and the engineer were taken off Soluna by the Coast Guard inflatable. The decision was made by the captain of the Point Heyer, who wanted to avoid putting us and his crew at risk if there needed to be a rescue in the middle of the night. It made sense to us.

Unfortunately, the tow line broke during the night. With everyone's safety foremost in mind, everyone agreed that it would be best if we retrieved our boat during daylight hours. At this point, the Coast Guard broadcast our boat's position and announced that it was a 'hazard to navigation'. They also mistakenly identified her as having been "abandoned."

As you reported, the skipper of the fishing vessel Bernadette, having heard our boat's position, immediately tried to 'salvage' her. When the Coast Guard helicopter flew out the next morning to locate Soluna, they discovered the crew of the Bernadette attempting to put our boat under tow! We're told that the crew of the Bernadette continued to try to take our vessel in tow despite being told that there was a rescue in process and the Point Heyer was en route.

When the Point Heyer arrived on the scene, they too repeatedly requested that the Bernadette release Soluna. The crew of the Bernadette refused to respond. Finally, after several warnings, the Coast Guard deployed their inflatable to put a crew-member aboard our boat. After one last request for the Berna-dette to release the tow, the crewman cut the Bernadette's towline! The Point Heyer then took our boat in tow and brought her to Crescent City where we were eagerly waiting.

When Soluna arrived, she was listing ominously to starboard, and there was enough water in the cabin to cover the bottom of our gimbaled stove. This was the worst of the damage Soluna had suffered in her night alone at sea with a leaky shaft. Much more costly damage, however, was caused by the Bernadette's clumsy - and illegal - attempt to take our Soluna in tow. Our boat suffered damage to the stern pulpit, windvane, standing rigging, and masthead fittings.

Throughout these events, what stood out in our mind was the very positive, considerate, and professional manner of the Coast Guard. All along they encouraged us that things would turn out all right, once in Crescent City helped us pump our boat out, and in the days that followed periodically stopped by to check on us and offer help. And above everything else, they kept the crew of the Bernadette from taking our boat.

In both Latitude 38 and 48º North we've read many letters to the editor critical of the Coast Guard's boarding policy. While we're sympathetic to the outrage regarding inspections that go beyond safety issues, our experience with the Coast Guard last October has tempered these opinions.

We agree with Latitude that pleasure sailors should be solely responsible for their own safety, and it was only with great reluctance that we called the Coast Guard. But as one of the Coasties later told us, "I joined the Coast Guard to do what we did for you - help out people in distress." Maybe we should focus our ire at the policy-makers and remember that many of those in the USCG would probably echo the above sentiment.

We also want to take this opportunity to recognize the many people who were so helpful during our forced stay in Crescent City: the staff of the Crescent City Harbor, the guys at Englund¹s Marine, fellow cruiser Gene West, Captain Dave, Jim Sharp, the Crescent City YC, Lt. Brian Corrigan and the crew of the Point Heyer, the crew of the fishing vessel Mary Kay, and all the kind fishermen in the harbor. The blessing of adversity is the renewal of confidence in the basic goodness of people.

P.S. We spent a month cruising in the Bay Area and your Idiot's Guide to the Bay was very useful. San Francisco Bay is such a great place to sail: great wind every day, excellent and inexpensive marinas, good public transportation, and fantastic people. We loved it!

Michael and Nancy Hayes
Soluna, Cascade 29
Winnipeg, Canada

Michael & Nancy - Thanks for sharing the full story. Before going offshore, folks should check that their propshaft is properly connected to the transmission and engine. An entry in last year's West Marine Pacific Cup had a similar problem, and the crew was just barely able to fix it on their own.

As for the Coasties, we know full well that 99% of them joined to help people in need, not to do law enforcement. We also understand that the orders to board boats filters down from the President to the Department of Transportation, to the Coast Guard brass, to the local Group Commanders. We're also aware that the Congress just gave the Coast Guard an additional gazillion dollars to . . . you guessed it, carry out additional boarding and other drug interdiction programs.

Incidentally, the battle over your boat reminds us of an incident that took place just after the tragic Fastnet Race of 1979. The English sailboat Carmague had been abandoned by her crew. A few days later, the English crew of the yacht Animal discovered she was being towed into Milford Haven by a French trawler. Assuming that the French fishermen were stealing the boat, the crew of Animal went out and cut the towline, and took Carmague in tow themselves. During the subsequent investigation, the Department of Trade said the act of 'reverse piracy' was unprecedented! In any event, it was all settled in a friendly manner: The trawler crew was compensated for their time and efforts, and the owner of Carmague got his boat back.

WE BELIEVED WHAT THEY TOLD US

We had to transport our new - to us - sailboat from Lake Michigan to San Diego, and chose to use overland transportation. We think we were jerked around by the trucking company and wonder if you or any of your readers have any suggestions for guarding against such behavior. The timeline I describe may not seem too extended, however it all occurred during our vacation time! Time that we had to schedule in advance with our employers. Also, we live in Colorado, and so all arrangements were made via the phone.

We solicited bids from five companies and decided on Company A because they apparently had a very good reputation and their bid was in the middle. Around July 25, we arranged for Company A to pickup Lonesome Dove in Waukegan, Illinois, on September 8 - with an anticipated arrival date in San Diego of six days later. When we inquired about the status of things on September 5, we were told that the pickup date had been moved back until September 10 - which was still all right.

What wasn't all right was that on September 14, Company A admitted they had a problem. They told us that because of a boat show, the truck scheduled for Lonesome Dove was tied up in a line waiting to be unloaded. They said they were looking for another company to do the job. Two days later, the same company told us they'd 'lost' a truck, couldn't find another company to take the job, and didn't know when they'd be able to move our boat.

We 'fired' Company A, and within one day had bids from two companies who promised to pick our boat up within two days. We selected Company B, who picked the boat up on September 21 and delivered her to San Diego four days later.

All communication with Company A was because we called them. They never took the initiative to alert us to problems - even though they knew we were incurring motel bills because of the delays. In hindsight, we probably should have changed companies sooner. However, being trusting people, we believed what they told us.

If we ever do overland transportation again, how can we avoid this kind of problem?

Dick Pearson
Lonesome Dove
Colorado

Dick - The way to avoid similar problems in the future is to be a little more skeptical of promises. When a company repeatedly fails to call you back, it's a sign that your business isn't very important to them. You can also demand a contract that calls for financial penalties if the boat doesn't arrive by a certain date.

While it appears that you got screwed by Company A, we'd also suggest you not expect the same kind of results from boat trucking companies as you would from Federal Express. And because there is often the potential for delays beyond a trucking company's control, we wouldn't be surprised by delays.

HER FATHER'S FLEET

My wife and I are the owners of a Zeeland 37 yawl, hull #3, built by the late L. Moerman of Holland in 1954. We're trying to locate as many of these lovely round-chined steel yachts as we can. We've already gathered varying amounts of information on 15 of the Z-37s and another five Moerman models, but there may be up to 40 other Moerman boats we have nothing on.

Through the Internet, we've been able to locate one of Moerman's daughters who, like us, would like to be able to track down her father¹s fleet. We are not planning on starting an official owners' organization, but simply compile a list of boats and owners. Such a list would allow owners to compare notes on these geriatric beauties. If you own one of these fine vessels, or know of the whereabouts of one, please contact us .

Dave & Pat Ferguson
P.O. Box 69
Algoma Mills, Ontario, Canada
P0R 1A0

SHOP MY SERVICES

What strategies would be most effective in helping me find a boatowner who wants his/her slip fee paid in exchange for allowing me to live aboard their boat? I work for a biotech company in Mountain View and want to boatsit a 32 to 50-footer somewhere along the Peninsula. When I win the lottery, I hope to have my own boat.

Would harbors or marinas be willing to shop my services to prospective slippers? Being the all-wise, creative demons that you are, I figured that turning to you would be my best bet. Help me, I'm begging ya.

Eric Smith
Sunnyvale

Eric - "Shopping your services" with harbormasters is absolutely the last thing you want to do. On the other hand, begging isn't required either, as all you have to do is take out a Classy Classified and make the sailing world aware of your wish.

BAJA HA-HA WEBSITE

Thanks for the great website! When do you think photos and/or stories from the Baja Ha-Ha will be added to your website?

Susanne Smith
Patience
Tacoma, WA

Susanne - The magazine comes first, then the website. Can you guess why? In any event, we hope to have some good stuff up soon.

For those who haven't checked it out, the Ha-Ha website is at www.baja-haha.com. In addition to all the Ha-Ha stuff, it includes a list of all marinas on the Pacific Coast of Mexico with their phone and email numbers. In addition, the site also includes the text of Latitude's First Timer's Guide To Cruising Mexico. By the end of January, we hope the site will feature the boat names, boat types, skipper names and hailing ports of the 400 or so skippers who have completed Ha-Ha's.

Also coming soon: the Profligate website for Latitude's new charter catamaran. It will be at www.profligate.com.

UNNECESSARY ACRONYM USAGE

The letter from Bill Pool in the December issue - about shortening of names of towns - reminded me of one of my pet peeves: unnecessary acronym usage (UAU).

You see UAU in all sorts of writings, some of which we in the Bay Area boating community (BABC) are familiar with, such as PWC (personal water craft) or PFD (personal floatation device). I believe that UAU is due to basic human laziness (BHL) where we feel the need (FTN) to shorten things, such as TV for television. UAU makes it hard for some poor reader (PR) to decipher what is written (DWIW).

So the next time you in the BABC FTN for UAU due to BHL, remember the PR who has to DWIW.

Neil Kaminar
Voluspa, Challenger 35
Santa Cruz

WITHOUT A FOUL PEEP

In the October issue, a reader wrote in to ask if he could use 'Earth' as a hailing port on the transom of his boat. Well, my sailboat has had "Earth, Sol System" as her port of origin for 22 months - without a peep from the Coast Guard.

Rev. David Michael Rice
Mariner¹s Ministries, Dana Point

Rev. - As we think we mentioned in the October issue, boats registered with the state of California don't need to show a hailing port. So if you want to put a hailing port on, let your imagination soar.

Boats documented with the federal document, however, are required to follow specific rules with regard to hailing ports. Unfortunately, 'Earth, Sol System' just doesn't cut it. So why haven't you been busted by the Coast Guard? It's this simple: enforcing hailing port compliance is way down on their priority list.


Rants, raves, comments, drink recipes, may be sent to our Editor.
Thanks!

© 1999 Latitude 38