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OLD CODGERS

Hey! Cut out the "amazed" references to "older guys² who go cruising. If the truth be told, most of us cruisers are codgers who retired and therefore now have the time and money to 'just do it'. I had a 75-year-old geezer crewing for me from San Francisco to Cabo. I'm 70, and I singlehanded from Cabo to Puerto Vallarta, where I picked up a great young gal who‰ll accompany me to Panama and maybe on to Florida. I celebrated my 71st in Z-town, and except for a few aches and 40 pounds of excess weight, hope to be doing this for at least another 10 years.

Check out the accompanying photo of the kind of shipmates we older guys enjoy. All right, so she's my daughter-in-law, Judy.

I'm sorry I‰ve missed the Baja Ha-Ha every year, but you guys always leave about a month before I‰m ready. This is my fifth trip down in my own boat. I did it three times with my Pearson 424 ketch named Spindrift, and twice in my Nordic 46 RS, Blue Point.

Mexico gets better every year - although my trip to Wal-Mart today was a real culture shock. I thought I‰d left all that noise and traffic in California!

P.S. My Village Marine watermaker works great!

P.P.S. I've been a reader since the first issue. Keep up the good work.

Pat Price
Blue Point, Nordic 46 RS
San Francisco / Monterey

MEN WHO PREFER MEN

In the January issue you warned us to take caution when using Spanish words, and the need for understanding them correctly. We have proof that this is true.

This winter we sailed down the Baja coast, and in each little town we introduced ourselves as 'yates' - which we pronounced 'yah-tays' - to the local residents. They understood it to mean that we were cruisers, and so there was no problem in Turtle Bay or Bahia Magdalena.

But when we got to Mazatlan, we encountered an entirely different reaction. One night we dined at a seafood restaurant popular with the local Mexicans. After a great dinner and a considerable half-English, half-Spanish conversation with our waiter, he asked where we were staying. My husband tried to explain our cruising lifestyle by proudly proclaiming, "Yo soy yate." The waiter‰s face registered dramatic surprise and his eyes said, 'Does this gringo know what he is saying?'

Apparently this gringo didn‰t, because the waiter then told us, "Yate is what we call men who prefer men." Everyone in the restaurant who overheard the exchange naturally roared with laughter. It was pretty funny at the time.

But it's just another example of how important it is to accurately understand the meaning of words and expressions - especially the local slang!

Marcia Marszalek and Pete Murphy
Sea Hawk
Tacoma / Cruising Mexico

Marcia & Pete - Funny story! It reminds us of President John Kennedy's historic speech in Berlin when he wanted to emphasize America's unity with the citizens of that divided city. The climactic line was, "Ich bin ein Berliner!" There was a roar of applause by the crowd which took his words literally: "I am a Berliner!" But there were also muffled guffaws from many who commonly used the term 'Berliner' as the slang for 'jelly doughnut'.

Since we're discussing cultural misunderstandings and men who like men, folks should realize that in Mexico - as well as in most of Latin America and much of South America - men who 'top' other men don't call themselves or even consider themselves to be bisexual or homosexual. We just thought some of you - particularly those who are sexually active - might want to know.

TIED UP IN A VACANT SLIP

Perhaps you or some of your legal-minded readers could answer a question for me. I don‰t know any more facts than what is stated below.

Recently a sailboat came into a local marina and tied up in a vacant slip. The slip had been vacant for many months. The 'unauthorized' sailboat was in the slip for a little less than a week when the harbormaster had it towed away. A witness to the towing observed a completely bungled job by the towing company - they managed to wrap the tow line around their prop, and the sailboat ended up blowing/drifting sideways down the channel.

My questions concern the rights of the boatowner. Did the harbormaster have the right to remove the boat with no notice whatsoever? Does anyone - harbormaster, towing company, etc. - have the right to board a vessel without the permission of the owner/operator? Assuming the boarding and towing were legal, what recourse does the owner have if the towing company damaged the boat or if any onboard items were missing?

P.S. The '98 Baja Ha-Ha was great!

Geoff Evans
San Francisco

Geoff - Suppose a guy drove his car into your garage - which had been vacant for months - and left it there. After a week of having no place to put your car, you decided to have the guy's car towed - although you hadn't posted any signs to that effect. Do you think you violated the rights of the owner of the car? Of course you did! After all, shouldn't people be able to put their car in any open garage they spot? Their bodies in any empty bed they find? Their boat in any vacant slip?

Seriously, we think you know that the owner of the fictitious car and the owner of the real boat only have two rights: 1) To get a swift kick in the ass for such arrogance, and 2) A reasonably large fine to discourage similar behavior in the future. Of course, this is America, the land of so many lawyers and so little justice, so they wouldn't get what they deserve. Instead, the guy whose car got towed from your garage would probably sue your ass for civil rights violations, emotional distress, abuse of the mentally challenged, and hate crimes. If you were lucky, he'd probably settle for $100,000 - which you might be able to raise by selling your house. Is ours a great legal system or what?

As for a boat or car being damaged in the process of being towed, the towing operator would be liable. However, a boat drifting sideways down a channel doesn't constitute 'damage'. The towing company would also be liable for items that disappeared from the boat or car - assuming, of course, that you could prove that they took them.

ANCHOR LIGHTS

We recently departed the La Cruz anchorage in Banderas Bay at oh-dark-thirty - about 0300 - to head south in order to round Cabo Corrientes before the afternoon winds kicked up. The weather was calm in the anchorage, but the visibility was poor, not only because it was night, but also because it was hazy. Even with my wife Nancy on the bow with night vision binoculars, it was difficult to leave the anchorage as we kept coming across the fuzzy and unlit forms of 15-ton anchored boats in our path. I really felt that our boat - and home - was endangered by the fact that so many boats were unlit. I can only imagine what it must be like trying to enter such an anchorage on a windy and rainy night.

It seemed to me there must be a good reason why some boats have their anchor lights on in an anchorage while others - only a few feet away - are completely dark. Based on my cursory research, I concluded that the Mexican authorities must have deemed La Cruz as a special anchorage under rule 30(g) of the 72 COLREGS. Under this rule vessels under 20 meters (65.6 feet) may be left unattended on a mooring without displaying an anchor light continuously after sunset in these specially designated anchorage areas. Similarly, San Carlos, Puerto Escondido, the Mogote (La Paz), Tenacatita, Chamela and just about every anchorage in Mexico that we‰ve visited must share this special status - because there are always boats without anchor lights on.

During a recent night in Tenacatita Bay, I discovered that 10 out of the 38 boats weren't showing any light. No anchor light, no masthead light, no low-amp photoelectric cell, no deck light - no nuthin‰.

Of course, my 'special designation' theory was pure conjecture that raised even more questions. How could I know which anchorages were really designated 30(g) and which weren‰t? This might be important if I needed to make safe haven under conditions which, for me, evoke a level of anxiety akin to night carrier landings. It‰s the silly little things that gnaw at me, such as, are there any other aircraft parked on the runway?

Do the special designation rules apply only to unattended boats on a mooring? What if the boat is attended and on the hook? If unattended boats can be dark, than why can‰t attended boats be dark? Put another way, why couldn‰t - or shouldn't - the whole anchorage be dark?

Then there was the question of insurance coverage. If I‰m sitting perfectly legally in my own little 30(g) black hole and some audacious yahoo hits me while trying to get his anchor down or reset in a 40-knot chubasco at 0200, can I rest easy that my insurance company will absolve me of dereliction or violation of COLREGS for not having my anchor light on? Will they know that I was right - or at least not wrong - to have no anchor light on? And what if it‰s a Mexican boat, such as a panga running at 20 knots through the anchorage on his way out to the fishing grounds? How might the Mexican authorities approach compensation for a seriously injured panguero‰s wife and three kids?

So, having only succeeded in confusing myself, I decided that good seamanship, common sense and just plain covering my financial and legal butt all argued strongly for always turning my anchor light on in any anchorage. Okay, so it‰ll cost me a few gallons of diesel over a season to recharge my batteries. Let‰s see, if I used even as much as an additional 10 gallons a season - incremental for the anchor lights - that would punch a hole in our cruising budget to the tune of about $16.50 U.S.

I wouldn‰t presume to speak for others, who apparently must have better reasons for not turning on their anchor lights, than I have for turning mine on. Here's our best shot at trying to figure out what those reasons might be:

10) I am completely surrounded by a defensive perimeter of other boats who have their anchor lights on.

9) So I‰m sure to have enough power to make coffee in the morning without having to listen to the annoying noise of my genset.

8) Lights attract big birds who poop on my deck all night.

7) The weather is calm, clear and there is a full moon - at least there was when I went to bed.

6) I have a white hull that can most certainly be easily seen with night vision binoculars.

5) I put fenders out at night.

4) I have a sensor onboard that, upon impact, automatically turns on my anchor light. Sort of like an airbag.

3) Why all the fuss about a 20-ton, nearly invisible, floating object in the middle of a transient anchorage?

2) My anchor light bulb blew and I'm reluctant to have my wife hoist me up the mast with my life insurance still in effect.

1) The dog ate our anchor light.

So, every time I see a boat with no anchor light on, I wonder which of these excuses they would give to the Coast Guard or Mexican Navy? Or do they have a better one?

Jim and Nancy Tracey
Windance, Hunter 430 Legend
Bahia Tenacatita

Jim & Nancy - Having had a boat that spent the better part of 10 years on the hook, we're firm believers that an anchor light is a necessary - but insufficient - means of letting other mariners know your boat might be in their path. Folks don't motor through dark anchorages looking skyward, so while anchor lights are helpful from a distance, they are virtually worthless in close quarters. In our opinion, common sense demands that in addition to an anchor light, every boat have some bright illumination at eye-level to effectively indicate her presence to other skippers.

YOUR BOAT, YOUR BEST Y2K SHELTER

The Y2K problem. Too much has been written about what might happen; this short note is aimed at what we, as sailors, can do to minimize the fallout as our civilization sails into the next millennium.

No one is certain what all the effects might be and how long they will last. Yesterday, the guy in line next to me claimed all the top military leaders know and they are worried. Today‰s paper tells me some religious leaders are worried, while most are not. Me, I'm more concerned about navigation (I will not be on a plane), ATMs and making sure I have enough food and drinks until whatever happens, happens, and we get back to normal.

My solution to Y2K is not original, as it stems from one of Latitude's most unusual articles - Your Boat, Your Best Bomb Shelter - which appeared in April of 1982. At that time I was ripping Latitudes apart, saving sections of Changes in Latitudes that described places I might visit. I also saved articles on anchoring, provisioning and those about people - such as Amy Boyer and Doug 'Hurricane' McNaughton - who survived long, hard sails. I was collecting the articles as I planned, someday, to outfit my own boat and sail west to Australia and maybe beyond.

As it turns out, I did make that long trip. In 1985, I was transferred from Menlo Park to the Washington, D.C., suburbs, and had Kiana, my Chuck Burns-designed 29.5-foot sloop - alternately marketed as a Bodega 29 or Golden Gate 30 - trucked to Annapolis. In 1988, I retired, reread all those articles, and outfitted and refitted the boat. In January 1990 we sailed from Key West, Florida, to Panama - and eventually to Townsville, Australia.

Over the years, some of the articles have been thrown away and others are out of date. But last evening, I searched the boat and after half an hour found the 'Bomb Shelter' article. To summarize - for you non-pack rats - the author, Dr. Lewis S. Keizer, opened by quoting Swiss scientists who claimed that in calendar year 1982 there was a 5% chance of a thermonuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviets. He then went on to state that the laws of probability turn this 5% risk into a 100% certainty over a period of 20 years.

Dr. Keizer than proposed that your cruising sailboat could be your best bomb shelter - if it was provisioned with food, fuel, water, sunglasses and prepared for sea. At the first indication of big trouble, you were to sail out the Golden Gate and head 50 to 100 miles offshore. As I recall, for several issues after the article appeared there were follow-up letters to the editor. Unfortunately, I no longer have copies and to this day don't know the legitimacy of the author or his expertise. Maybe the whole thing was an April Fool's joke.

In any case, it doesn't take a nuclear scientist to see some similarity between the big boom and Y2K. Stock your boat with fuel, food and water. Party in your marina to welcome in the millennium, then toddle back to your boat and, if the electricity is still on, turn on the radio or TV and see what is happening. If the grid is down, sleep well knowing that you have enough to get by for at least two to four weeks, no matter what goes on inside Washington‰s Beltway or outside the Bay Bridge toll booths.

Kiana is back in Key West, as I completed my sail around the world in 1994. New Year's will find me here - and, if nothing else, I will know I did the right amount of preparation, no matter what Y2K brings.

Bob Rowland
Key West, FL

Bob - In the event of an all-out nuclear war, the best place to be would probably be dead - unless you're into prolonged misery and unspeakable horror.

As for the Y2K problem - which we predict will be a none-too-calamitous and perhaps even mildly adventurous interruption in the norm - we agree that a reasonably well-provisioned boat, preferably in the tropics, would be the perfect 'survival vehicle'. The boat would provide a simple and mobile home with storage space for several months' supply of food and water. And with the ocean being so handy, unlimited additional food and water - assuming a hand-operated water-maker - would be just a few feet away.

We can assure you that our boat will be in the tropics well in advance of the pseudo end of the millennium. We'll personally be there, too, as after a long battle with the airlines we managed to get tickets to fly out on Christmas night. And why not split? With the uncertainty of what might or might not happen, nobody is going to count on anything being accomplished between the New Year and the middle of January. If nothing is going to get done anyway, why not be on a sailing vacation in the tropics where, after a couple of Pusser's Pain Killers, you won't be giving Y2K a second thought?

For those of you without boats and/or airline reservations lined up, you may have your work cut out for you. All the bareboats in the Caribbean, for example, were booked long ago. Most crewed boats are charging double and requiring two week minimums - and many are already spoken for. The biggest problem, however, may be getting to the tropics. With many of the airline tickets already gone, you may have to either fly first class - if there's even any of that horrendously expensive space left - or take your car or a bus down to tropical Mexico. It should be interesting - and if you're sailing in tropical breezes with friends and cool drinks - quite enjoyable.

We don't know much about math, but we do know that Dr. - of what, chiropractics? - Keizer doesn't know anything about probability. Here's proof: Sexologists say that in the year 2000 there's a 5% chance that President Clinton will succumb to temptation once again and get caught enjoying a mud-wrestling threesome with Monica and Paula. But if it doesn't happen in 2000, do the "laws of probability" mean it will certainly have to happen before 2020? We doubt it - if for no other reason than Clinton wouldn't be interested in a 45-year-old Monica and a 55-year-old Paula. Sure it's a terrible example, but most people find math boring so we had to spice it up to keep everyone's attention.

LOOKING FOR GHOST STORIES

Since the first time I saw the Moore 24 Poltergeist abandoned on her trailer in Santa Cruz, I've had a special feeling for the 'little spirit'. So when my brother Kevin found himself in the market for a Moore 24, we drove north to Santa Cruz to check out a 'fixer-upper' that was for sale. The boat turned out to be Poltergeist!

The next thing we knew, Kevin was the owner of Poltergeist and we were taking her to her new home in Dana Point. At the time we didn't realize what a treasure we'd come across. We've since learned that Poltergeist has a colorful past and quite a reputation. We heard all kinds of tales, from her being sailed in Wet Wednesday races with nine people and a keg of beer, to winning the infamous 1975 Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara Race by several hours.

Since she had such an interesting life and had been raced by so many fine sailors, I'm trying to put together a history of her past. As a result, I'm looking for any old photos or stories folks might want to share. I can be contacted at (909) 687-7164 or by email at GSTCHSR@aol.com.

Rich Gault
Riverside

Rich - The inimitable Ron Moore reports that Poltergeist was hull #7 of the 156 Moore 24s built, and was launched in early 1974. "She was commissioned for the late Dr. Robert Wade, who had been the doctor at my high school. You know, the guy who had to reach down into your pants and tell you to turn to the left and cough. Anyway, he equipped her with all the best stuff. But what really made the boat go were his son, Rob Wade, Jr. and Jack Halterman. The doctor was an old fart who got his kicks by going fast in a boat, and his kid and his kid's buddies whipped everybody and made him real happy. They were giant killers, and the old man really got off on it. It was great!"

Poltergeist really made her reputation in the windy '75 Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara Race, winning by a large margin. In addition to great drivers - Wade, Halterman and Dee Smith -they had one of the first starcut chutes, which helped eliminate the rolly-polys. It was a tragic race, however, as the rough conditions overwhelmed the little ultralight Pi and claimed the lives of the Fennel brothers who had designed and built her.

For the next couple of years, Poltergeist was pretty much untouchable in Santa Cruz. The big test came when the Wylie 28 Animal Farm, the North American Half Ton champ, came down for a match race. The four-foot smaller Poltergeist won handily.

SHOCKING TRAVESTY

I read with sorrow, horror and dismay the Sailing Home Next Year letter from Darryl Currie. His salutation, "Dear Human Beings at Latitude 38" is a shocking travesty of supposed 'political correctness'. Everyone knows that the editors of Latitude are animals - and proud of it!

Elizabeth Meyer, a.k.a. 'Wolf Woman'
Endeavour, J Class Management
Newport, RI

Elizabeth - For a 'wolf woman', you sure know how to train humans. We celebrated New Year's Eve not 20 feet from Endeavour, and despite the joyful madness all around the boat at the Charles de Gaulle Quai in St. Barths, Captain Sparky and Tracy - on charter, of course - never wavered from their professionalism. Well, other than Tracy's Lew-insky-like application of a Ticonderoga tattoo on husband Sparky's upper thigh - far from the view of guests, of course.

As for us being animals, we think you need to get to know us a little better. We think of ourselves as profligates - who nonetheless believe in absolute personal responsibility. If that's a contradiction, it explains why we often find life so difficult.

By the way, as we're certain you're aware, the anticipation of the racing between your Endeavour and the other 135-foot J Class yachts Velsheda and Shamrock at the Antigua Classic Regatta is building to a tremendous crescendo. Animal to animal, we salute you for allowing your beautiful boat to be part of it - and more than that, for perhaps being the person most responsible for the resurgence in the restoration of magnificent old yachts.

NORTHERS DOWN THE SEA OF CORTEZ

In the February issue, Hall Palmer referenced "winter Northers" and asked for tips on weather from "Sea of Cortez weather experts". I don‰t believe there is such an animal, but having cruised the Sea of Cortez under sail for over 43 years, I can offer a few observations.

1) If you have a radio on your boat - which I do not - you can probably predict a Norther using Capt. John Rain‰s excellent book MEX WX, Mexican Weather for Boaters. Since I can‰t predict Northers, I have learned to cope with them. A Norther is not really all that bad. Yes, they can get up to 45 knots and kick up breaking 10-foot seas after a couple of days, but I've never seen one that lasted more than four days. Others, however, claim that some have lasted longer.

2) Although this is not long-range forecasting, if, after a spell of quiet weather, a large swell appears out of the north - not the northwest - and/or the wind veers to north, I always presume a Norther is not far behind. Remember that November to May is usually the time for Northers, and the other half of the year usually has as many dead calms.

3) I try hard to never have to beat into a Norther. My boat is only 30 feet long, and I swear that the wave length in the Sea of Cortez is often 29.5 feet - which makes for very wet and uncomfortable sailing. I have often sailed on a reach in a Norther, however, and once made the 72 miles from San Carlos across to Punta Chivato in 12 hours this way. In addition, many times I have run back from Bahia de Los Angeles, on the Baja side, to San Carlos, on the mainland side, on the wings of a Norther. Last year we did the 45 miles from Los Muertos to Cabo los Frailes in eight hours using the power of a Norther.

4) To avoid beating into a Norther, I always have a downwind refuge picked out. My three cruising guides to the various parts of the Sea of Cortez describe 273 anchorages that I have used from Cabo up to the Midriff Islands, and down the mainland to Guaymas Harbor. Many of these can protect you from the fury of a Screaming Norther.

Northers are to be avoided, but not feared. Last week we bent a spreader and ripped a jib during a sail in a Norther between Punta Pulpito and San Juanico. We licked our wounds in beautiful San Juanico while we waited for the beast to blow itself out - which took one day. After all these years, all I can say with certainty is that I know next to nothing about weather in the Sea of Cortez - except that I can safely sail in it most of the time.

Gerry Cunningham
Patagonia, AZ

Gerry - With due respect to your immense experience in the Sea of Cortez, we're puzzled to hear you say that Northers - which you admit can blow to 45 knots and create 10-foot breaking seas - are "not that bad" and are "to be avoided but not feared." In our book, 45 knots is a strong blow - the wind force is four times that of 22 knots - and steep and breaking 10-foot seas require skill and concentration many novice cruisers don't have.

Indeed, in the last couple of years we've published reports from several cruisers who received serious physical injuries and had their boats damaged as a result of crossing the Sea of Cortez during Northers. All report that it was the unusually steep seas - not the wind - that caused the damage. John Rains also urges caution: "Such strong winds raise a short, steep chop for which the area [The Sea of Cortez] is notorious. Mariners should stay put if a Norther is blowing or seek shelter if one is predicted."

While there are indeed many fine anchorages in the Sea of Cortez in which to take refuge from a Norther, Hall and we are more interested in being able to predict the weather a cruiser might encounter making the 200-mile passage between Cabo or La Paz and Mazatlan - which may take smaller boats the better part of two days.

While Rains' weather book seems to offer the best information on weather conditions between San Diego and Panama, we're wondering if two pages on Northers in the Sea of Cortez is enough to really tell the story. Rains reports that Northers develop when ocean air that follows a low over the Pacific coast of California slows down between the eastern side of the Sierras and the western side of the Rockies, creating a mound of air known as a 'Plateau High'. The mound of air ultimately disperses by taking the path of least resistance, which means flowing down to lower elevations and out the passes of Southern California in the form of Santa Anas. When the Plateau High is centered in the eastern part of the plateau, Rains advises that the air will also flow southward via the Salton Sea trough and the Colorado River Valley into the Sea of Cortez - and heads south toward the perennial low pressure near the equator.

That's fine as far as it goes, but we and others have questions for Baja experts: 1) If there is a Plateau High, is a Norther guaranteed or just a possibility? 2) Are there any other conditions that can cause an unexpected Norther? We ask because on a number of occasions cruisers have left La Paz for Mazatlan having been told there would be no Northers for at least 72 hours - only to be clobbered just a few hours later. 3) Is there any way to predict the relative strength of a Norther?

ONENESS WITH THE WIND

I never respond to stuff, but after reading the Extreme Daysail article in which it was reported that "an experienced helmsman quickly drove the big catamaran off the wind," it was too much to pass up.

In my opinion, driving a catamaran off the wind during a knockdown can be disastrous. Obviously a boat on the wind should be 'unloaded' before driving her off the wind - not the reverse. A Hobie Cat, for example, will dig in and tumble in a heartbeat if she's not unloaded. And the underpowered and heavy cats such as I sailed during my youth off Waikiki could dive off the wind and we would almost have to surf to get the boat to 'sing'. Nevertheless, with 10 passengers aboard, we always kept the mainsheet in hand.

And when racing Wildwind, I can remember sailing at 30 knots where pushing the boat to the limit meant sail trim kept one hull out of the water. The key was anticipation, concentration, and oneness with the boat, the wind, and the sea. Anything less was out of control and very dangerous. Experience is one thing, but powering your cat for existing conditions and keeping passengers safe takes wisdom.

P.S. How about a look at Latitude's catamaran Profligate - or did I miss it?

Peter Earnshaw
Santa Rosa

Peter - Our catamaran expert says that Hobie Cats and 75-foot cats have to be treated differently - and that you should always avoid the 'Zone of Death'. Check out the next letter for details.

We haven't done a feature on Profligate for several reasons. The first is that we had so much fun sailing her that we never bothered to finish the ultra spartan interior. Secondly, we've been too busy to visit her in Mexico and thus haven't seen her for the last four months. Nonetheless, she was at last year's Cruising Kick-Off Party at the Encinal YC where she was toured by several hundred people. We expect she'll be back on the Bay in early May, at which time we'll be taking lots of folks for sails. If you're one of the first 100 folks to come to the Latitude Crew List Party at the Corinthian YC on April 8, you'll receive a certificate for a free sail.

HOGWASH ABOUT FALLING OFF TO AVOID A CAPSIZE

The Extreme Daysail article in the February issue was interesting . . . but what was that hogwash about falling off the wind on a beat to avoid a capsize? If a hull lifts up too high when you're going to windward, you stuff the baby up into the wind and dump the traveller. These guys were very lucky they didn‰t end up 40 feet in the air - and then upside down!

All right, I bought some of that Stugeron seasickness medicine down in Puerto Vallarta while on a layover - I'm an airline steward. Sixty tablets of 75 mg cost $18 U.S. Now all I need to know is how much to give my nieces when I take them on the Swiftsure Race in May. I know they're gonna need it.

Finally, I‰d like to hear from any readers who have an opinion as to whether a Hobie 33 would make a good choice for the Singlehanded TransPac. How does the boat's durability compare with an Olson 30‰s? Are the rudders well made? Would the keel tend to fall off near Mile Rock? How does the fixed keel model compare with the lifting keel model? That kind of thing.

Bill Stange
Seattle

Bill - We'll let Gino Morrelli - who, in addition to having sailed to Hawaii aboard the big catamaran in question, is half of the Morrelli & Melvin design team that created Steve Fossett's 105-foot catamaran PlayStation - address the question of handling strong gusts aboard big multihulls:

"The general rule of thumb with multihulls is that if you're hull flying and the true wind - not the apparent wind - is forward of 90º, you should head up in a gust. If you're hull flying and the true wind is aft of 90º, you want to bear off. But - and this is a big caveat - if you're hull flying on a big multihull, you simply should avoid sailing with the true wind between 75º and 105º - which is known as the 'Zone of Death'. The reason you either want to be sailing slightly above a close reach or slightly on a broad reach is that if you're sailing in between and get hit by a big gust, there isn't enough time with a big multihull to either steer out of it or ease the sheets."

Morrelli went on to explain that the 'Zone of Death' doesn't materialize until there is a 'critical mass' of wind, and the amount of true wind necessary depends on the boat in question. "With the America's Cup-winning catamaran Stars & Stripes, it happens when it blows about 20 knots true; with Fossett's Jeanneau 60 trimaran Lakota, it's at about 25 knots true. We haven't sailed the new PlayStation enough to know yet, but it would probably be at about 30 knots true."

We're not qualified to give pharmaceutical advice, so you're going to have to get recommended Sturgeon doses from someone else.

Bill Stange? Airline steward? Olson 30? Wait a minute, aren't you the guy who sailed the Olson 30 Intense to Hawaii in 1988 in just 11 days and 15 hours to break Norton Smith's decade-old Singlehanded TransPac record? Thinking about doing it again, are you? All we can tell you about the suitability of the Hobie 33 for the Singlehanded TransPac is that some top-flight sailors think it's the perfect design for the race. At the conclusion of the 1996 West Marine Pacific Cup, for example, we asked Bill and Melinda Erkelens - who had taken overall honors with their Dogpatch 26 Moonshadow - if they'd ever like to do the race again. They said they would, but in something a little bigger, "Such as a Hobie 33, which would be perfect for the course." The fact that they didn't get around to it - running Larry Ellison's Sayonara got in the way - doesn't mean the design still wouldn't be ideal for the course. Actually, there was a West Coast sailor who drove all the way to Florida to pick up a Hobie 33 in order to enter the Singlehanded TransPac. He never did, but only because he had some bizarre troubles trying to tow the boat to California.

THE REST IS HISTORY

I was sitting on my liveaboard boat in Marina Village on April 8, 1997, minding my own business watching the local news when the phone rang. It was a lady friend from Monterey, who was in Alameda on her way to the Latitude 38 Crew List Party - which happened to be at the Encinal YC that evening. She didn't want to walk in the door alone, so she asked if I might be interested in going over to the club with her. I had attended Latitude Crew List Parties in the past - and even picked up a crew for the '92 West Marine Pacific Cup from one of them. So I told my lady friend, "I wasn't planning on going, but why not?"

My friend got into the party free because she had taken out a Crew List ad. I paid $5 to get in because I hadn't taken out an ad. We both filled out our nametags and then pretty much went our separate ways. Since I really wasn't looking for crew, I didn't plan to actively work the room. I went to the bar to get a beer.

While waiting for Michael, the bartender, to draw my Anchor Steam from the tap, I noticed an attractive woman wearing an 'I'm Looking To Crew' tag approach the bar. Without a sideways glance, she ordered a white wine. My mind began calculating course, speed, and attack angles to plot the best intercept vector. Then I came to my senses! Taking my beer in hand, I reminded myself that I hadn't come to the Crew List Party to score. I was just going to hang out, have a beer or two, then head back to my boat.

So I took my beer over to the buffet, picked out a little finger food, and found a place to lean back and munch while I scanned the room. I figured that if anyone was interested in talking to me, they could make the approach. It wasn't long before I got involved in a conversation with some folks looking for a boat. Suddenly, the woman I'd noticed at the bar was in front of me - and thrust her business card into my hand! "I'd like to go sailing sometime," she said. Just as abruptly, she turned to walk away.

I looked at her card and saw that her name was Laurie. "Hey," I said as she was walking away, "you can't just give out your card, turn away, and expect someone to call you." She looked like a kid with her hand caught in the cookie jar. She smiled and explained she really wasn't comfortable at these kinds of events. Nonetheless, we spent the next several minutes talking about our sailing backgrounds, and what we were looking for in sailing partners. Then Laurie said she had to be going.

A few days later, I took a chance and called Laurie to see if she'd like to spend a day on the Bay. It turned out she was busy - but we did make plans for the following weekend.

The rest is history, as we fell in love! About 18 months later - on February 27th of this year - Laurie and I were married. I sold my boat Strange Bird in January, and we're now buying a new Catalina 42, to be named Strange Bird also. While we'd prefer to "just do it" and go cruising right now, we have a few things keeping us to the dock. We're shooting for being part of the cruising class of '02 or '03. I guess it just goes to show that you never know who you will meet at a Latitude Crew List Party - provided at least one person has the courage to say or do something!

P.S. I'd read all of Latitude's admonitions that the Crew List Parties aren't designed or intended as meat markets or for matchmaking, and I certainly didn't plan on taking advantage of the situation. Although no one is going to believe me when I say that my intentions didn't go beyond finding a crew, that's my story - and I'm sticking to it!

Jay Ailworth
Strange Bird, Catalina 42
San Francisco

Jay - We couldn't be happier for both you and Laurie! Nobody feels completely comfortable at events such as that . . . but fortune favors the bold.

Latitude's next Crew List Party - for racers, cruisers and day sailors - will be on April 8 at Tiburon's Corinthian YC. Unlike previous Crew List Parties, we're going to have some added attractions (see Sightings). While our intent is to give boatowners looking for crew and crew looking for boats a chance to meet, far be it for us to stand in the way of one of Cupid's arrows.

WITH LITTLE REGARD FOR SAFETY

I've just read the sad news in your magazine about the death of John Caldwell of Tropic Seas, Palm Island, and other adventures.

My connection with Caldwell and his family started in Sydney, Australia. It was 1959, and four friends and I purchased Tropic Seas, the boat Caldwell had sailed to Sydney. We had decided, like Caldwell, to sail around the world - and would partly fulfill our dream. We took off from Sydney in '61, and for the next three years sailed the yacht to Hawaii via Lord Howe Island, New Zealand, Tahiti and several other places. We sold the yacht in Hawaii, as by that time most of us had met our brides-to-be and were keen to return home.

We never met Caldwell personally, but followed his pursuits over the years. Many years ago he sent us a copy of his book, Family at Sea, which we later presented to a caring person who had befriended us along the way.

Tropic Seas was like a guardian angel to us, as none of us had any sailing experience when we left Australia. What money we had was spent on provisioning the boat, so there was nothing left for safety gear. Our survival gear, for example, consisted of a couple of surfboards.

I hope this letter may fill in some missing links - and I wish John‰s family my fond regards.

Lewis Carter
Rose Bay
Sydney, Australia

TAUGHT 400 TEENAGERS SEAMANSHIP

It was most interesting to read Jay Gardner's request, in the February issue, for a multihull

to be donated to Sea Explorer Post 333. Our Explorer Post 950, located on Seattle‰s Puget Sound, had a somewhat similar desire several years ago.

The first boat we obtained was the Six Metre Lully II, which had won a silver medal in the 1936 Olympics in Kiel Bay, Germany. We raced her very successfully for three years, then took possession of the Eight Metre Alai, which had supposedly been owned by the King of Sweden. After that, we acquired Assault, a Two Tonner that had belonged to John Buchan, a very successful local sailor. Our group successfully campaigned that boat for three years as well. Buchan then donated Heather, another Two Tonner. Once again our Post 950 campaigned the boat throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The highlight of the Post's 10 years of racing by local high school boys and girls was a first-place finish in the prestigious Swiftsure Race! Perhaps even more interesting is that the skipper was Fred Roswold, who, now that he's cruising the Serendipity 43 Wings, is a frequent contributor to your very fine magazine. During the 10 years that Explorer Post 950 was in existence, Roswold and his staff taught superb seamanship to over 400 teenagers.

Even though Jay Gardner of Post 333 may think it‰s a bit of a stretch to find a donated boat that would fit his program, these boats are out there. It takes some work to obtain a large boat, but the rewards are certainly worth the effort - and the results and memories last a life time! Good luck, Jay.

P.S. All the donated boats were in excellent condition - and kept that way.

Guy Harper
Ram-bunk-shus
Seattle

WHAT WOULD IT DO TO THE ECOLOGY DOWN THERE?

I may have missed something in a past issue, however I wanted to call attention to a proposal that would expand SFO airport. New and longer runways would be added by pushing fill out into the Bay, fill that would effectively block Coyote Point to Oyster Point - my old stomping grounds.

Apparently the runways would be two miles long. I can imagine what that would do to the ecology down there. Lord knows that SFO needs some help, but this type of expansion seems very ill-considered, to say the least. Do you know anything further?

Dexter Bailey
Serendipity 43, Samiko
Santa Cruz

Dexter - On March 9, John Martin, Airport Director at SFO, told the Chronicle: "There is no formal runway project . . . thus far our efforts have been only to determine the feasibility of reconfiguring our runways to cut delays, airfield inefficiencies and noise impacts, while ensuring environmental gains." So your old stomping grounds are not about to be cut off immediately.

Frankly, we think it's inevitable that there will be runway expansion at SFO within the next 10 years or so, and that expansion will be into San Francisco Bay. But we don't think it's ever going to involve the cutting off of any of your old stomping grounds, as there's no reason for it. It's also inevitable, of course, that there will be endless squabbling, protests and lawsuits before any such expansion would occur.

Our take on the idea is that while filling in 1/1000th of the Bay - or whatever - may not be ideal from an ecological point of view, it wouldn't be the end of the world - especially if there was reasonable mitigation. Frankly, we suspect that the Bay suffers much more from the unchecked population explosion and by the fact that we Bay Area residents collectively drive more than 100 million miles a day.

THE FOG, THE WIND, THE ERICSON 35s

Does anyone know how many Ericson 35 Mk-IIs there are on the Bay? I recently completed a two-year refit on hull #140 that was built in 1970, and would like to contact other owners who love this popular Bruce King design as much as I do. Interested Ericson 35 owners may email me at bergend@gacnw. I‰d also like to thank Dennis Daly of Dolphin Marine, who did all of the work and helped me plan projects wisely. Great work, great guy.

P.S. Every time I consider relocating to escape the Bay Area's high density population, heavy traffic, and high cost of everything, I remember all the things that make San Francisco Bay so wonderful. Yes, it‰s the cheese, the wine, the Anchor Steam Beer, the fog, the wind, the great jazz scene - and the best sailing rag anywhere. While I'm sure I left out some of the other reasons, Latitude is on my top ten list of reasons to live here.

Dave Bergen
Sheetwize, Ericson 35 Mk-II
San Francisco

Dave - Thanks for the kind words. While the Ericson 35 Mk-II wasn't quite as popular in Northern California as its contemporary, the Islander 36, she was a fine design. In fact, Latitude owned and beer-can raced one for several years. Several employees are still angry she was sold. If anybody wants further details on design, she was our Boat of the Month back in April 1983. Reprints are available for $3.

WE HATED PAPEETE!

Fred Roswald and Judy Jensen of Wings are good friends of ours - I shared L Dock with Wings at Shilshole Marina in Seattle for many years - and it was great to hear of their travels in the Marquesas and Tahiti. Having said that, we have to disagree with their generally glowing description of Papeete as presented in the February Tahiti Pit Stop article. We hated Papeete!

After the pleasure of sailing to the Marquesas and then hopping a freighter - steerage class - to Papeete, we were appalled by the city's dingy appearance and the horrible, noisy, 'devil-take-the-hindmost' high-speed traffic along the waterfront. For example, while patiently waiting to cross the four-lane 'race track', a Tahitian family of four bravely started across the so-called pedestrian crossing. The traffic came to a screeching halt - except for some idiot on a motor-scooter who crashed into a young woman on another scooter. While we and other bystanders helped pick up the pieces, the Tahitian family that had caused all the wreckage by daring to cross the street quickly disappeared.

Our nerves shattered, we collapsed at an outdoor cafe and ordered two Coronas. The price? An incredible $4.30 U.S. each! Having just come from Mexico where Coronas sell for one-tenth that price, it was a rude awakening.

Papeete's architecture is best described as French Colonial Hideous. There must be a mandatory school of architecture somewhere which specializes in this repulsive 'style'. What else can explain the uniform mediocrity of the buildings, most of which exude a general air of disrepair and decay?

We were glad to hear that Wings had a calm anchorage Med-tied off the wharf. That was not the case for a couple of boats that ended up on the beach a week or so before we arrived. As well as being crowded, the anchorage is not well protected from either the wind or the swells that roll in through the pass during a storm. It was with great relief that we boarded the high-speed ferry to Moorea, which is as unspoiled and beautiful as Papeete is trashed and ugly.

One Sunday, we attended a local church service in Moorea. After being welcomed by the minister in French, Tahitian and English, the visitors were treated to the magnificent singing for which the local islanders are justly famous. We got the same welcome in Bora Bora, except that the prices were even higher than in Papeete! But it was at Bora Bora that we signed on as crew aboard the Kona-based steel cutter Gershon II, bound for the Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji. So we left Tahiti with very mixed feelings, having experienced the extremes of beauty and ugliness - along with universally stratospheric prices!

By the way, Fred and Judy, how about a more detailed account of your stormy trip from Fiji to New Zealand? We know you didn't get caught in the worst of the three storms, but we'd nonetheless like to learn what we can from your experience.

John Kelly and Linda Keigher
Hawkeye
Paradise Village Marina, Nuevo Vallarta

John & Linda - While Papeete - which with a population of over 100,000, has more than 2/3 of the territory's population - is certainly no garden spot, and the French drive like maniacs the world over, some folks nonetheless appreciate the city's roguish charm. Different strokes for different folks, but you can count us among them. Especially since the perfect antidote, Moorea, is such a short sail away.

LOW PROFILE CRUISERS

I‰d like to expand on Phil Arnold's March letter, the one in which he announced that Ed Arnold, his dad, had just singlehanded around Cape Horn.

I met Ed and Mary Arnold in 1992 while we both were preparing for a spring launch of our boats at Bock Marine in Beaufort, North Carolina. I was in the early stages of a seven-year cruise - '90 to '97 - of the East Coast aboard my San Francisco-based steel ketch. Ultimately I had my boat shipped back to the Bay Area.

As for the Arnolds, they left that spring for Europe via the northern route aboard Nomad, their 35-foot Ted Brewer aluminum design. During their trip to Europe, the Arnolds had a bit of excitement as they dragged anchor and went ashore in Iceland. Fortunately, the Icelandic Coast Guard pulled them off with just minor damage to the aluminum hull. They actually have a permanent record of the mishap as the Coast Guard videotaped the entire operation.

The Arnolds wintered in England the next year, and spent subsequent winters in Norway, France, Denmark and Holland. They cruised all of Europe, went into Russia, and during this time also made another Atlantic round trip. They've had numerous letters published in the Seven Seas Cruising Associations Commodore's Bulletins.

After Mary rejoined Ed - which was to happen at the end of January - they were to cruise Chile and then Hawaii followed by - I guess - Alaska and then down the coast, hopefully to San Francisco. They are relatively low-profile cruisers, and a joy to talk with and know.

Cal Pannell
Ferra, Vallejo YC
Walnut Creek

Cal - Thanks for that additional information. The oceans of the world are dotted with cruisers who make amazing voyages without any desire for recognition. We salute them all!

UNTIL THE WIND QUITS

Your answer to Donn Tatum's February letter - the one in which he slammed Latitude for, among other things, describing sailing as a "casual activity" - was great. Some people are so uptight they squeak when they walk. Please continue Latitude the way it is until the wind quits.

Barry Ward
Lodi

Barry - Thanks for your support. We have nothing against folks who prefer more formality and less frivolity when reading about sailing, but they're just going to have to get their fix from other publications. Even if we tried, we couldn't do Latitude any other way.

RARELY GET THE DETAILS

When I was a private pilot not too long ago, I regularly received the Federal Aviation Administration reports on aircraft accidents. I thought these were great teaching tools, as they helped me build up a mental library of situations to be avoided, and actions that could be taken if I happened to find myself in dangerous situations. But when it comes to sailing accidents, we rarely get the details.

We wholeheartedly agree with the comments in the December issue asking that folks who were in storm conditions report on what tactics they tried and how they worked out. Those of us who haven't had to face survival conditions need to learn from those who have.

Butchie and Bitchie
Contenta, Lapworth 40
Sausalito / New Zealand

B & B - We're happy to print all we can get - but it's hard information to come by. Often times individuals aren't forthcoming for insurance and other reasons, and government agencies are usually horrible on details.

ANY INFORMATION ON THESE BOATS

Hi. I recently purchased a 23-foot sailboat built by Clipper Marine. If anyone out there has any information about these boats or information on any Clipper Marine associations, could they please contact me at rfitz@nidlink.com.

P.S. Thanks for a great magazine.

Roy Fitzsimmons
Coeur d‰ Alene, Idaho

Roy - The only 'information' we'd like to share about the Clipper Marine boats is that they were less robustly built than most other production sailboats of the time. As such, we'd be hesitant to trailer one to either of the coasts for open ocean sailing. But she's probably a great boat for the lakes.

THE SEARCH GOES ON

While renewing my subscription, I want to thank Latitude for helping keep 'the dream' alive.

I recently returned from the London Boat Show, which was just amazing. The logistics of getting those yachts indoors must have been staggering. I spent most of my time looking at the cruising yachts in the 38 to 44-foot range from the most prominent European yards. I don‰t know what market they are targeting - certainly not offshore cruisers - as most had no significant storage for fenders, lines, and so forth. The living spaces, however, were stunning. I was also disappointed to find that engine access is, apparently, only an afterthought. The only exception was the Wauquiez 43 - which I found to be a magnificent yacht.

Anyhow, I had fun and the search goes on - albeit more focused. I'm looking forward to Sail Expo '99. I went last year, but didn't have a clue - or a clew.

Ollie Cordray
Angels Camp, CA

Ollie - As spectacular as the London International Boat Show is, the world's biggest is - who'd have thought? - the Dusseldorf Boat Show in Germany.

Of course, there's no reason to travel all the way around the world looking for a boat, as Sail Expo '99 runs from April 14 to 18 in Oakland's Jack London Square. The good news is that there will be more large cruising boats on display than ever - in fact, more than at any other West Coast boat show. Furthermore, the old 'sinker' docks have been replaced with the latest and greatest cement versions. We hope to see you there.

HOT ON POLYPRO

I like funny coincidences.

One of the March Letters was Frank Taylor's blast at Roger Bohl for recommending nylon rope for dock lines. Taylor reported that "many shipping companies use polypropylene rope because it can be handled by inexperienced people with greater safety."

The next day I read the Associated Press's coverage of the National Transportation Safety Board's findings on the July 20, 1998, fire aboard the cruise ship Ecstasy, a blaze that caused $15 million in damage: "Highly flammable polypropylene mooring rope - potentially as combustible as gasoline - combined with lint to fuel the blaze aboard the cruise ship Ecstasy as it headed out to sea last summer."

I'm not advocating any particular type of dock lines, but rather reporting that I enjoyed a great laugh. It was made all the better by the somewhat comical way in which the fire started aboard the Ecstasy: "Investigators determined the cause of the fire to be a spark from a torch being used to repair an ironing board in the laundry room. The fire ignited lint, causing flames to shoot up through the air ducts lined with lint and later out onto the mooring deck where some 7,200 pounds of polypropylene rope was stored."

I'd like to comment on a few other issues, but you'll have to excuse me as I have to rush down to my boat to check for potentially dangerous levels of lint.

Joe Gordon
San Jose

MASTER MARINERS

I'd like to invite all owners of classic wooden sailing vessels to join the Master Mariners Benevolent Association - and before the end of the millennium, too! We're always looking for classic and traditional vessels to join our fleet, and we have much to offer, have lots of sailing events, social activities, and other benefits.

The Master Mariner's Regatta - almost always the highlight of our year - will be held on May 29, to be followed by the traditional rendezvous at the Encinal YC in Alameda over the rest of the Memorial Day Weekend. We hope all wooden boat owners will participate, as the regatta and rendezvous always really get the classic sailing enthusiasts year rolling.

While the Master Mariners' Regatta is normally the premiere event for classic sailing yachts on San Francisco Bay, this year it will merely be the warm-up act for the return of the Tall Ships. As most folks already know, the Mervyn‰s Gold Rush Race will be held over July 4th weekend. So whether you are a competitive sailor or just want to enjoy a "fast parade", why not jump- start your 1999 sailing season by registering for the Master Mariners' Regatta.

Membership applications and regatta invitations are available by contacting MMBA at (415) 364-1656, or by visiting our new website at www.mastermariners.org.

By the way, the other Master Mariners' sailing events for the year are as follows: June 27, the Classic Boat Show at the Corinthian YC; July 10, the River Rat Cruise up the Delta; September 4, the Chickenship Regatta up the Petaluma River; and the October 2 Offshore Cruise to Drake's Bay.

Robert Rogers
MMBA Regatta Chairman

Readers - Rogers' letter was obviously written before officials pulled the plug on the Mervyn's Gold Rush Race - because of what officials claim was a shortage of $2 million. While it would have been great to have the tallships back on the Bay, real master mariners know that no matter if it's sailing or sex, it's far better to be a participant than a voyeur.

HELP, I‰VE FALLEN IN LOVE

I‰ve fallen in love with the CT-41 design that was built in the mid-70s and hope to own one somebody. However, a broker just told me to be wary of any boat built in Taiwan between '73 and '78 because they used inferior - non-marine - grades of plywood for the decks and other parts of the boats. The apparent result has been lots of boats with rotten decks.

Is this true? Am I in for nothing but heartache with this design? By the way, I'm new to sailing - not to mention rebuilding boats.

Karl van der Velden
Seattle

Karl - The bad news is that boats built in Taiwan spanned the entire quality spectrum. Some were pretty good while others were just awful. And often times there was huge variation within the same line of boats. If the American supervisor was there, the workers would do good work. If the American supervisor was gone, you could never tell what they were going to do.

The good news is that the design you've fallen in love with is 20 to 25 years old, so whatever problems a particular example of this boat is going to have, it will have manifested itself by now. There's more good news. That design - rightly or wrongly attributed to designer William Garden - was built by many yards in Taiwan and marketed under countless names: Sea Wolf 41, Formosa 41, Yankee Clipper 41, Overseas 41, ad nauseum. Of all these, the CTs were generally considered to have been the best built.

Our recommendation is that you continue to ask questions, particularly of folks who have owned CT-41s, and of surveyors who have examined a number of them. Warning: Be wary of buying any boat with a major problem - such as rotten decks. If you think you can have the problem fixed for $10,000, rest assured that it will inevitably cost twice as much - or more! Major boat repairs aren't cheap, and they take a lot of time.

CRUISING WITH A DOG

In the December issue, you put out a call for folks with firsthand experience cruising with a dog. I thought I'd share our sailing adventures with Molly, our cocker spaniel.

First, however, you might recognize our names, as we're the owners of the DownEast 38 schooner Sea Rascal that was signed up for the '97 Baja Ha-Ha. If you gave any thought to our absence, you probably chalked it up to real-life issues that keep so many people tied to the dock instead of leaving on their dream adventures. But in our case, we actually did go cruising - but from another coast. Thanks to a small but unexpected infusion of cash, we suddenly had the means to do the cruise we really wanted - which was a season in the Bahamas. The unexpected extra money allowed us to truck our boat to St. Augustine, Florida, where we started our journey down the ICW to Key Biscayne - and ultimately through the Exuma chain. It was an interesting year; the highs were phenomenal and the lows were mutinous. In any event, it gave us tremendous insights for when we cruise again.

All of this brings us to the subject of dogs on boats. Although Molly hadn't been a great 'boat dog' before the trip, she did great. We eventually trained her to do 'her thing' on deck, although she always preferred a shore call. Dog food is scarce and very expensive in the outer islands, so we were lucky that Molly only weighs 20 pounds. As a result, we were able to store enough on board for eight months without significant hardship.

We met a bunch of other cruisers sailing with dogs - including a couple with two 70-pound German shepards aboard their own DownEast 38. That couple's biggest problem was keeping enough dog food on the boat. Two big dogs eat a lot of food, so it was an expensive problem. The couple also had to build a special step for their boarding ladder to accomodate the dogs. In addition, they rowed the dogs ashore twice a day - which wasn't an easy task as there were many winter storms which brought 30-knot winds and very rolly seas into Georgetown Harbor. Nonetheless, the couple - and presumably the dogs - were happy with the arrangement. They're still out cruising.

The Bahamian government has standardized documentation for animal importation. The biggest problem, however, is that they require pet import applications prior to the pet's arrival in the islands - and the processing of the papers generally takes four to six weeks. It's possible to Fed-Ex an application and pay a special handling fee, but it costs about $100. They also require a veterinarian's health certificate signed within 48 hours of entry into the islands. That meant Molly had to pay a visit to a vet in Florida immediately prior to our taking off. In our case, it turned out to be two visits, as our first attempt at crossing the Gulfstream was terminated due to bad weather. It also meant that we had to immediately sail to an island with a Custom's agent, so there was no dawdling at a deserted cay, lest the dog be an illegal mongrel. Bimini was closest to Florida, and ideal for checking us and the dog in.

The best advice we can give to potential cruisers with pets is to research the regulations for each country that you think you will visit, and request and complete paperwork well in advance of your visit. If you have a local vet with whom you have a relationship, see if you can get him or her to complete, but not date, a health certificate. That gives you a certain amount of leeway in entering foreign ports. We hope this information helps.

Regrettably, after owning Sea Rascal for 11 years, we decided to sell her. Indeed, she's on her way to Trinidad where she'll be a liveaboard, and we're glad of that. As for us, we're doing the suburbanite thing while our six-year-old does the school thing. We home-schooled her for kindergarten, but being the only kid, she was incredibly lonely during the cruise. We just didn't see many children her age out cruising last year. While she learned a lot about the world, she's much happier in a structured classroom with other kids.

If anyone has questions about cruising the Bahamas, we‰d be happy to try to answer. Our email address is CRascal@hot-mail.com.

Lisa Gardner
California

SEVEN MONTHS TO SETTLE

We're responding to Richard T. Cross's The Whole Story Is Yet To Be Told letter that appeared in the December '98 Letters.

We at Blue Water Insurance Inc. are insurance brokers and as such have the ability to locate the best possible insurance companies to fit our clients' needs and budgets. In the case of Mr. Cross, that company was AXA Global Risks, one of the very few companies that provide insurance for crews of two on a worldwide basis. This insurance product was originated by our firm for the benefit of our customers. Based on the number of insureds that we represent, our letters of recommendation far outnumber those of complaint. Please refer to the accompanying letter about the rescue of the s/v Kampeska, one of our insureds!

Cross appears to be frustrated because it has taken seven months to settle his claim. Blue Water Insurance Inc. and the insurance company may make convenient scapegoats, but Cross failed to mention several important issues. First, the fact that he's on a remote island in the South Pacific, and it took four months just to get the mast delivered from the manufacturer. Cross seems to want to suppress other important details, too: 1) The substantial advance payment made to him on October 5, 1998; 2) His delay, due to suppliers, in providing a final schedule of costs. It appears that Cross is unable to comprehend that insurance companies do not repair boats, they only send the money that pays for the repairs after they have been completed. Until the repairs are complete, no one knows how much money is required.

Fortunately, we provided Cross with an indemnity policy that would reimburse him for his fortuitous claims: his coverage was "all risks" - with some exclusions. At no time during this process did the insurance company even remotely suggest that he would not be paid or even attempt to haggle over the amount of the claim.

Had Cross purchased one of the "named perils" policies offered by many German and English insurers, the onus would have been on him to prove his loss was caused by a peril listed in the policy. The circumstances surrounding the rig failure on Cross's boat - in calm winds and seas - would have made it impossible to prove that the failure was due to a peril of the sea as opposed to lack of maintenance. His chances of collecting from a foreign insurer would have been slim to none - without presenting his case in a German or English court.

Donald W. Spink CPCU
President, Blue Water Insurance
Jupiter, FL

Readers - Spink enclosed a too-long-to-publish account of the Tayana 42 Kampeska, which was rolled by a rogue wave and dismasted near Bermuda during last year's West Marine Caribbean 1500. Spink reports that although the damaged boat was last seen still floating, she was declared a total loss and the claim paid in full. In addition, owner Roy Olson, who suffered a broken back as a result of the roll-over, was picked up by a Lear Jet air ambulance in Bermuda and rushed back to the States to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. These expenses were picked up as part of the Blue Water Lifeline Program.

THE BRIDGE AND THE COVE

I‰d like to congratulate the mayors of Oakland and San Francisco for having the courage to stand up to Caltrans. The plan to build an unattractive bridge north of the existing span was a poor decision that doesn't reflect the will of the people.

I'm a recreational sailor who realizes the value and beauty of Treasure Island‰s Clipper Cove, which is one of the last - and best - day anchorages in the Bay. The present marina will be expanded from 160 berths to 400, encroaching into the Cove. To build a bridge directly over the top of the remaining water would be ugly and shortsighted.

All mariners should support both mayors in their attempt to do this job right, and oppose Mary King‰s selfish desire to shove a mistake down our throats. I can‰t forget that Ms. King was a major force behind the Raiders stadium deal.

James Gratz
San Leandro

James - It looks as though the mayors Brown have lost their appeal to get the new span redesigned and moved. Governor Gray Davis, a fellow Democrat, virtually pulled the plug on a redesign by saying his priorities were that the new bridge be built as quickly and inexpensively as possible. The current bridge has been deemed unsafe for 10 years, and a new design would throw away $50 million of work. Davis agreed it would be "nice" if the two Brown mayors could get their wishes, but that it would also "be nice if it rained beer." That's got to be the funniest quip the notoriously straight-arrow new governor has ever made.

Our understanding is that the new span will apparently be built slightly closer to Clipper Cove - certainly not a good thing - but isn't going to come anywhere close to being over the top of the cove. Nonetheless, it would be a good thing if we mariners demanded that vehicle noise on the bridge be muffled to prevent it from reaching the Clipper Cove area. As anyone who has been there knows, it really destroys the serenity of the place.

While an expanded marina is going to take up more of Clipper Cove, we're reasonably confident that there will still be plenty of room to anchor in this favorite spot, and that the overall effect of the new marina will be positive.

FALLING STANDARDS

Your photo of four bare-breasted women in the otherwise interesting article on Adix in the February issue illustrated the lack of editorial standards which is becoming endemic. We have gotten used to lower standards in other publications, but have always expected the highest from Latitude.

Specifically, it's hard to imagine that Latitude, of all publications, would stoop so low as to print this photo without adequate identification of the individuals shown. Please restore your standards by fully identifying all the women in the photo - preferably with boat name and type, or other address, and relevant statistical information.

Standards, please!

Ken Harms
Yorba Linda

Ken - We didn't get that information for the simple reason that journalistic standards are much lower in 'the islands' - and we didn't want to rock the boat.

Since we expect that you and others are dying to know how we get such shots, here's the story: By some miracle we were invited to sail aboard Adix off St. Barths with about 50 other local guests. Among them was 'Shag' Morton, a native of Oz who is about as salty as a 50-year-old can be. Shag has done three or four Whitbreads, has sailed on about a billion boats, was the hero in the surprisingly well-written Playboy article about the 1998 Atlantic Cup, and is a partner in a rigging business in St. Martin. Since Shag parties and flirts almost as outrageously as he sails - throw 100 exploding firecrackers on the ground and he'll dance on them barefoot - he knows everybody in the islands - including the four ladies in the photo.

So with the ladies minding their own business discussing the things women in their mid-to-late-30s discuss, Shag whipped out a cheesy Kodak disposable camera and turned on the charm. "All right girls, big smiles." The girls happily complied, and Shag clicked off a shot. "Love-ly, ladies, just lovely. All right, now let's drop the tops."

A few years past their perkiest, the ladies groaned. "We're not as firm as we used to be," complained one. "I'm drooping," said another. Nonetheless, you could tell they were delighted to be getting such attention from the well-known rogue.

"Nonsense, girls," Shag laughed in response, "I know each and every one of them - and they're lovely." Unable to resist the Aussie sweet talk, the gals dropped their tops. And since they were letting Shag take their picture with a crummy disposable camera, they certainly couldn't object if a genuine journalist took their photo with a Nikon, could they?

BORING!

I never thought that anything that Max Ebb wrote would drive me into a depression, but his Onward Through The Fog did just that. In the article, he discoursed on the joys of sailing in the near future, where even more electronic whistles and bells will enslave us - all in the interest of better communication.

This song for an electronic sailing utopia has a discordant ring of deja vu about it. Retired now, I earned my living first by sailing, and then by flying. In both fields, things were decidedly simpler when I started. In 1946, the Merchant Marine was all celestial navigation and precise chart keeping. And in 1948, when I first climbed into an open cockpit trainer, there was no radio in the aircraft, and tower instructions came in the form of green and red light signals. We pilots responded by wiggling the wings of our aircraft. Radios and other exotic electronics came with later military experience.

When I moved into commercial aviation, I was even further inundated by the electronic maze. By the time I retired, pilots were being checked out in a new breed of 'glass cockpit aircraft', wherein the old round instruments with their wiggle pointers were replaced by images of the same instruments on computer screens. Other information could be called up from a keyboard and integrated on the main screen. Most insidious of all, everything about the aircraft‰s position and performance parameters could be accessed - by managers on the ground!

To my mind, the onset of all these sophisticated electronic whistles and bells in the cockpit has taken away much of the fun of flying. When I talk to my friends who still fly the long hours over the Pacific and who are trained to use these computers from take-off to landing, I ask them what it's like these days. They invariably respond with, "Boring!"

Likewise, this obsession to be hooked up electronically to the rest of the world while sailing is an anachronism: hence my depression at Max Ebb‰s article with his implication that being enslaved by electronics is our destiny - and that we will all be the happier for it. That might be Silicon Valley‰s mantra, but for the rest of us, sailing is about getting away from precisely all that.

Consequently, the person I most admire is not the one who has his pager constantly beeping away, nor the one chattering into his cell phone - and least of all, the one whose boat is cluttered with every conceivable electronic communication gadget. To me, the only free man is the one who is not 'chained' to his pager or cell phone, on shore and on his boat.

The prospect of the Max Ebb‰s vision of the future, where we will be more electronically shackled offshore, even as we are on the beach, dismays and depresses me to the core. Sailing is about getting away from all that!

George Fulford
Mill Valley

George - It seems to us that marine electronics are like money: Having a certain amount of it allows you to do cool stuff, but having too much can actually be an obstacle to happiness.

TO BASH OR NOT TO BASH

We enjoyed the Baja Bash advice by Capt. Jim Elfers. But based on having made two 'bashes' north in the early '80s with our Pearson Triton Pilot, we think there is more to the story.

First, if you are going to motor the rhumbline to get back to San Diego, we think Elfers knows his stuff. His advice about the north end of Cedros is spot on. We still remember leaving Punta Norte astern as the sun set, thinking that the wind and seas would soon lay down. They only got worse as the night went on, of course, so it was a struggle for us to find San Carlos the next day, and we were thoroughly trashed.

While we eventually made it to our new homeport of Channel Islands Harbor, our 'bash' hadn't been a very satisfying one. We remember gritting our teeth and eagerly waiting for the chance to finally turn off the engine! The best we can say about that bash was that it was over and nothing had broken! It was a grim end to what had been a glorious cruise.

Where we disagree with Elfers is when he too quickly dismisses the offshore option of coming north. Four years after our 'rhumbline bash', we were again faced with the Cabo to San Diego trip in the same old Triton. We'd never really been offshore before, had never used our sextant in earnest, and GPS hadn‰t been invented. But the one thing we knew is that we weren't going to smash and bang north again for 900 miles, not even if our engine was up for it - which it probably wasn't.

We realized the first benefit of coming back via the offshore route was that we didn‰t have to hang out at Cabo listening to folks agonize over waiting for the "perfect" weather window to take off for Mag Bay. We didn't wait for anything, we just raised anchor and headed offshore. When we realized that our course was something south of west, our spirits sagged. Had we made another mistake trying to get back to San Diego?

To make a long - actually very long - story short, we ended up enduring a 72-hour gale, a loud thunderstorm in the middle of the night, and what seemed like a million sail changes. But our vane steered all the way. And instead of looking for anchorages to duck into when the weather got wild, we actually learned to become proficient at heaving to. When we finally saw a ship, we called to check our position - and were only one mile off with our celestial. The next day we sailed right up to the Police Dock on Shelter Island!

Our point is that, if inexperienced offshore sailors could make the offshore route back up in our relatively small Triton, lots of other cruisers can, too. And unlike our first trip north, when this one was over we came to feel a tremendous sense of pride and satisfaction in our boat and ourselves. In addition to gathering enough material for a lifetime of sea stories, we also enjoyed some beautiful days and magnificent nights of sailing. It was a far more fitting end to a wonderful cruise than endless motoring up the coast had been.

Larry and Deborah Blank
Carmichael

VOLUNTEERS TO HAWAII

The Pacific Cup YC is searching for a volunteer vessel to be the communications boat for the West Marine Pacific Cup in 2000. It would be your chance to be the 'voice of the Pacific' for two weeks starting on July 10. You would document and transmit daily positions to the race committee, broadcast race course happenings and trivia to our public relations contact onshore, plus provide general communications to 70 yachts racing between San Francisco and Hawaii. The results will be posted in real time on our web page.

The ideal choice for this role would be a non-racing boat willing to make the voyage to Hawaii as part of the fleet starting on the first day. The Pacific Cup race committee provides funds to help offset the cost of the trip as well as specialized SSB and satellite equipment capable of sending and receiving email. Interested parties should contact Brian Boschma at (510) 252-6807.

Pat Lowther, Rear Commodore
Pacific Cup YC

Readers - While there is a considerable amount of work involved, being the Communications Boat for the West Marine Pacific Cup offers a unique opportunity to be a central part of a really great event. This is, of course, based on the assumption that the Pacific Cup will finally get their handicap program together so standings and results can be calculated and distributed in a timely fashion.

THE FLAGS ARE COMING BACK

The Martinez YC would like to announce that we will be having our grand reopening on April 10! This is eight months after the devastating fire of last July.

We want to thank Latitude for publishing our letter last year in which we requested replacement burgees for our club. To date, we've received 48, some of them from distant clubs. We appreciate everyone's concern and help.

Harriette Langemeier
Secretary, MYC
Martinez

A LIBERTARIAN LOOKS AT INFLATABLE PFDS

February‰s Latitude was one of the best ever. I thoroughly enjoyed the coverage of the Sydney to Hobart Race as well as the rest of the articles on heavy weather sailing. Well done!

But I've got a 'heads up' for those who use the inflatable harness-type PFDs: periodically check to be sure that the CO2 cylinder is screwed all the way into the valve. I went to replace the gas cylinders and bobbins in both of my 1995 vintage vests. One inflated automatically in the bathtub in about four seconds.

When I pulled the lanyard on the other one to manually inflate it, nothing happened! The problem was that the CO2 cylinder had become unscrewed a few turns, and thus the firing pin could not puncture it. Who knows how long it had been that way? It was like testing your reserve parachute on the ground only to find it wouldn't deploy!

I‰ve been following the ongoing debate on required versus optional use of PFDs. Although I wear mine all the time, I prefer that the use of them remain optional. It‰s the Libertarian in me, I guess.

Jim Yares
San Mateo

Jim - Thanks for the kind words - and the important "heads up." Is there anything worse than safety gear that doesn't work?

BIG OCEANS AND SMALL CATS

Your story and magnificent photo of the Ocean 71 in the Sightings section of the March issue has prompted me to write. During the mid-'70s, I was first mate aboard Ocean Free, which was based in Malta and chartered throughout the Med. Until Camper & Nicholson built the beautiful 75-footer, the Ocean 71s were the largest production fiberglass sailboats built. If I recall correctly, 17 of the boats were built, two of which - including Ocean Free - had hard dodgers over the cockpit. What a wonder and powerful design to sail - especially in the high winds and stormy seas common off Sardinia in March!

In reference to your response to the delightful letter from J.M. Cook, I'd like to make a couple of points regarding the Greek guy planning to circumnavigate on ". . . a 24 foot (yikes!) catamaran. . ." He‰s not as crazy as you imply -and certainly wouldn't be the first to circumnavigate in a small catamaran. Just last year, Englishman Rory McDougall realized his dream of building a 21-foot Wharram Tiki-model catamaran and sailed her around the world. Mihaly Kun of the Bay Area and his family sailed a Seawind 24 cat across the Pacific and through the islands. In the early '70s, the Swale family sailed a stock O‰Brien 30 'condo-catamaran' around Cape Horn - the hard way, too. There have been dozens more similar voyages on small catamarans, many made without fanfare or recognition. Back in '79, I did a trans-Atlantic to Portugal in a very basic, home-built Wharram 27 cat.

The days of sitting down at a sailor‰s bar anywhere in the world, saying that you sailed a multihull, and having everyone move down to the other end of the bar have pretty much vanished. Multihull sailors are no longer considered the lunatic fringe. In fact, Latitude's new charterboat is a catamaran! Just as there are monohull sailors who have circumnavigated successfully, so have multihull sailors.

JoJo is my fifth multihull over a period of two decades. The reason we're currently cruising on a 32-foot Fisher catamaran is that after tens of thousands of cruising miles in many different parts of the world, I have come to the realization that 90% of cruising time is spent on the hook - so you might as well be as comfortable as possible. The other 10% is generally divided between sailing and motoring, so a good motorsailer finally made sense. Besides, my wife loves the boat!

We have had to delay going further south due to some family obligations and the need to enlarge the cruising kitty. To that end, we are happily living aboard at the superb Anacapa Isle Marina in Channel Islands Harbor, teaching sailing and doing charters. We'll be off toward Panama and the Caribbean in the fall.

Captain Jonathan & Joell White
Catfisher 32, JoJo
Channel Islands Harbor

Jonathan & Joell - It wasn't until we owned Big O for about five years that we realized what a landmark design the Ocean 71 was - and that every professional in the Med and Caribbean could tell 100 stories about them. The prototype for the boat was, of course, South African Cornelius Bruynzeel's Stormvogel. The reason racing instructions prohibit sailing between the South Tower of the Golden Gate and the shore is because Stormvogel sailed between the bridge and shore once and hit the bottom.

By the way, due to an editing error, we indicated that Ocean Mermaid, recently destroyed in a boatyard fire, was an Ocean 71. She was one of the few Ocean 75s.

We still don't know enough about cats on the ocean to comment intelligently, but everything we've read and been told is that, to a much greater extent than with monohulls, stability is a factor of size. As size doubles, stability quadruples. But obviously you have more experience and knowledge than we do.

AROUND THE WORLD WITHOUT STORMS

The March letter - which inquired about the best months to sail to Hawaii, and Latitude's answer, including the suggestion to ignore the advice provided in Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Routes - reminded me of an event that was part of my 'American odyssey'.

After months of negotiation, International Marine decided not to publish my book Around the World Without Storms - Planning an Ocean Voyage. Instead - and almost immediately after rejecting my book - they published the first edition of Cornell‰s World Cruising Routes.

That my Around the World Without Storms book was not published in America was not a surprise, as many of my other books haven't been published in this country either. Around the World, however, was soon published in Russia, Poland, Romania and Germany - including a textbook edition for college students. So Urbanczyk survived once again!

But perhaps it would be a nice gesture to a local sailor and author if Latitude would publish just two pages from my book. Which ones? Well, maybe Planning An Ocean Voyage From San Francisco to Honolulu.

Dr. Andrew Urbanczyk
Montara

Dr. - Publishing those two pages sounds like an excellent prescription - as long as it's in English.

THE LAMP WAS ORIGINAL

In September of '98, I bought Sea Quest, a gaff rig Sea Witch design. She was hauled for about seven days at Svendsen‰s Boatyard in Alameda. Some time during the cleaning of the boat, a kerosene lamp was taken from the boat. The boat was built in '61 by American Marine - and it wasn't until later that I learned that the lamp was also original.

We‰d love to see the lamp replaced. In fact, we'd be willing to trade a new Holland lamp to whomever happened to end up with it. Our lamp had two half-inch brass tubes attached to the tank on the sides, and also attached to the shade. There was a smoke bell on top. The underside of the shade is polished stainless or chrome, not brass. The tank was rather deep, I‰d say four to five inches.

If anyone has it or has seen it, please call us at (408) 356-5150 to return it where it belongs.

Stephen Carlson
Sea Quest
Los Aptos

FREQUENT FLIGHTS TO PALMYRA

I enjoyed Roger Lextrait's update on Palmyra Atoll. There was, however, a slight discrepancy in the caption to Kay Rudiger‰s picture of the wrecked Lockheed Lodestar.

The plane was not wrecked during the war, but on January 5, 1980, while carrying seven Amateur Radio operators to Palmyra to operate one of their DXpeditions. (Some Amateur Radio operators enjoy transmitting from as many remote parts of the world as possible.) The Lodestar 'ground looped' on landing, but fortunately only one woman passenger was injured.

The Coast Guard flew down with a C-130 to take the woman back to Honolulu while the other hams remained to set up shop and continue with their DXpedition. However, one of the remaining hams suffered a severe hand cut at the end of the week, and the Coast Guard had to fly down with a C-130 a second time!

The airplane had been heavily cannibalized prior to Lextrait's arrival, but continues to add to the lore of the atoll.

Earl Hinz WD6EYJ
Former owner of Horizon, Out-Island 41
Honolulu

GUEST BERTHS

Has anyone put together a list of San Francisco Bay Area restaurants or eating areas - such as Jack London Square - that have guest berths? We were in the Oakland Estuary last weekend and the only place with a guest berth was Chevy‰s. We tried to dock somewhere near Jack London Square, but with all the docks gone, couldn't find a thing.

Robert Mueller
San Jose

Robert - We try to put together just such a list each spring so readers can have it handy for summer cruising. Look for it in the May issue. By the way, if anyone has any favorites to recommend, now is the time to share that info.

WOULD I BE GROSSLY UNPREPARED?

I grew up next to a bay in New Jersey and started sailing at about the age of eight. The sailing was relatively safe as the waves never got bigger than four feet, and I could always avoid a storm by heading to a nearby shore.

But as I've become more interested in larger boats, I've been reading Latitude and talking to folks to get all the information I can about the subject of cruising. I'm primarily interested in boat preparation and getting my boat - a Newport 27 - somewhat seaworthy.

My Newport had been neglected, and for the last eight months I've been trying to bring her back to life. Someday I'd like to take her on a trip such as the Baja Ha-Ha, as it seems as though it would be safer to make a passage with a pack of 100 boats rather than head off alone and perhaps get lost or caught in a gale. But naturally, I'd hate to show up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the start only to find out that I was grossly unprepared and therefore not able to make the trip.

My boat and I are probably a few seasons away from being ready. As she stands now, she's equipped with a VHF radio, a depthfinder, and a handheld GPS. But I need the answers to some simple questions: Is a Newport 27 too small for a Ha-Ha? What is the best way to start making my boat self-sufficient for such a trip? What are the 'must haves' for electrical power? How much food and drink should I bring? After the Ha-Ha ends in Cabo, does everybody scatter or is there a group that I could return to San Diego with? What is the approximate time I would need to sail down and return? How much money should I bring?

I'm sure that most readers probably know the answers to these questions, but nonetheless I'm curious. And who knows, you might see me in the Ha-Ha sooner than you think. If not, it sure won't be from a lack of effort.

Robert Lionetti
Newport 27
Dana Point

Robert - Let's be clear about one thing from the git-go: Neither the Ha-Ha or any other event is an offshore babysitting service. If you don't know how to navigate and aren't prepared to handle a gale at sea, you have no business leaving protected waters. If you're not ready to sail from San Diego to Cabo alone, you're not ready for the Ha-Ha.

Assuming you're clear on that, any 27-foot boat that was properly designed, built, and maintained - or restored - for offshore cruising should be able to make the trip safely in typical weather conditions. A Newport 27 might not be the fastest or most comfortable boat, but people have done the Ha-Ha in smaller and slower vessels. One good thing: if you've got a working VHF, GPS and depthsounder, you have all the essential electronics.

The best way to make your boat self-sufficient for the trip is to carefully examine every bit of her with a competent surveyor who is willing to spend some time with you. Together you can examine the condition of the hull, check that the bulkheads haven't broken loose, inspect the rudder, the rudder post, and the keel bolts. Since the boat is relatively old and has been neglected, you'll want to drop the mast and carefully examine the spar and all the rigging. Both the running and standing rigging will probably need to be replaced. You'll also want to check out the sails. You don't need a lot of them and they don't have to be brand new, but your working sails need to be in very good condition. You'll want a genniker or spinnaker if you're sailing to Mexico. A person who has more time and energy than money can often find good deals on used rigging and sails. Start at places like Minneys in Costa Mesa.

You didn't mention what kind of engine - if any - came with your boat. While some folks cruise without engines, we recommend some kind of reliable propulsion system, one that allows you to charge your batteries. Your electrical system can be ultra basic: running and anchor lights, one or two interior lights, circuits for the VHF and depthsounder, and some way to charge the batteries.

Once you've got your boat in decent shape, assume the lotus position on the salon sole, breathe quietly and deeply, and for an hour meditate on the following British saying: "It's not the ships, but the men in them." Then proceed to get to know your boat on the ocean - preferably up at Long Beach and then in the Channel Islands where you're likely to occasionally find enough wind to practice reefing and sailing in some swells. After six months, it's possible you could actually become a pretty darn good sailor.

How much food and drink to bring? The same amount of food you'd normally eat in two weeks, plus 15 gallons of liquids. Don't worry if you run low on food - they eat in Mexico, too. After the Ha-Ha, boats scatter, but mostly to other parts of Mexico. We've never known a group to immediately head back to California. And if there was one, your smaller boat would have a difficult time keeping the pace. Besides, if you're going to go to all that trouble, you might as well stay down in Mexico for a few months. You might also check out the March issue to look into the option of trucking/trailering your boat back to California, thus saving wear and tear on you and your boat.

It's more of a challenge to sail to Mexico than it is on a New Jersey lake, but you never know, it might be more rewarding, too.

ADDITIONAL POINTS OF VIEW

Thank you very much for your excellent response to my letter regarding anchors. It's always best to get additional view- points - especially from experienced sailors.

We actually have an oversized Bruce as the main anchor on our boat - even though it wasn't rated highly in the Practical Sailor testing. Although I have never had to ride out a 205-knot hurricane, and I hope I never have to, my partner, Greg Larsen, did ride out some strong storms in Mexico with the Bruce. We also have some lightweights on board for backups.

I believe that Practical Sailor, as you said, "does their testing as conscientiously as possible." But I'd still like to know if anyone has any practical experience with Spade or Bulwagga anchors, which Practical Sailor rated as superior?

Neil Kaminar
Voluspa, Challenger 35
Santa Cruz

Neil - Just to make sure everyone is clear on this, the anchor that held out the longest for Randy West and his 60-foot catamaran in hurricane Luis was not a Bruce, but rather a somewhat small Fortress.

OOPS, WRONG NUMBER

It is certainly a pleasure to know that you are offering information about storm tactics. God knows we can never learn enough about these issues. Although I am paid to go out in storms and test safety equipment, the lessons I learn are always the same - that storm safety, without a doubt, is an issue that impacts us with a veritable plethora of variables. Sort of like when you dial a number, and expect to hear a friendly voice on the other end. . . and instead you hear, "We're sorry, your call can not be completed as dialed."

This is the same response readers of Latitude 38 are going to get when they call an accidentally misprinted number in your March issue of storm tactics. We at Fiorentino Para Anchor would like to give you our correct business numbers. Phone: (800) 777-0732, fax: (310) 831-9000.

Zack Smith, FPA Technician
Newport Beach

REPLACED BY A WAGON TRAIN?

The San Jose Mercury News reported that the Tallships event had been cancelled due to the lack of $2 million of state funding and that it will be replaced by a "wagon train" event. What can you tell us about this?

I had a boat chartered for the entire weekend from my sailing club for $1,200, and even had family coming out from back East for the event. I need to know if it's cancelled or not.

David Cahak
Mountain View

David - Is the California state government pathetic or what? The current status of the event is still up in the air - see Sightings for an update.

WHAT‰S HER NAME

In Race Sheet you refered to unpronouncable boat names. My first reaction is "why do people do that, you can‰t pronounce it, let alone know what it means. Well, now I‰m one of those people.

My wife and I purchased Cuajota, a Santana 30 approximately one year ago in an estate sale. We had no contact with the original owners so there wasn‰t any feedback about her. At the time we weren‰t concerned with the name, because we were going to have it changed to a catchy, cute little name (in my way of thinking anyway). Well, about four months later we had her hauled out for new bottom paint and such. It was our first time and we found it kind of exciting, I must admit. At that time we had the local boat name painter give us an estimate on having the name changed. We thought it wasn‰t going to be a real big deal, nor very costly.

He gave us his price for repainting the name, but also said that for the job to be professional and something we would be proud of, the transom should be repainted. Being fairly new boat owners we were trying to do things right and asked what our next step was. It was to get an estimate from the local boat painting guy, who, by the way, we found out later was one of the best in San Diego. He was very informative, knowledgeable, kind and exxxxxpensive.

With simple addition (sign guy + paint guy = big bucks) and subtraction (checkbook) our boat still remains Cuajota. We did some research to find what the name means, and discovered it probably isn‰t Spanish, Cuban or Portuguese. So we're hoping you or some of your readers can help us solve the mystery, since Latitude 38 seems to show up all around the world.

We enjoy and learn from reading your magazine and look forward to it each month. Thanks for the good work. We're also finding out what boat stands for. Break out another thousand.

The Penningtons
Cuajota
San Diego/Phoenix

Penningtons - we haven't got a clue either, but our wild guess is that it might be some kind of slang expression or colloquialism. Then again, if no one else comes up with a solid answer, we'd encourage you to have some fun and make up your own definition.

MY DERMATOLOGIST SAYS . . .

I read James McPherson's Clothing With Sunblock letter and Latitude's comments with interest. I saw a Solumbra catalogue some years back, but never tried their clothes. However, my dermatologist tells me that if you can see the sun through your hat, shirt, pants, or whatever, the sun can get to your skin.

I attach a cutout piece of thin cardboard - such as the back of a writing pad - to the inside top of my straw hats and then replace it as needs be. That keeps the sunlight off my head and face. Some sailing hats are made with a foam flotation top which doesn't let the sun through. Any other suggestions?

Excessive sun exposure - sometimes unavoidable during a midday watch - requires all the awareness and protection we can muster.

Mabelle Lernoud
Monterey

Mabelle - Much to our surprise, after several months the folks at Solumbra still haven't gotten back to us with answers to our questions - such as whether their products are truly endorsed or approved by the FDA. Nor have they given us the name of even one of the "thousands of dermatologists" who recommend their products.

SAILING AT AMES RESEARCH CENTER

First, I want to thank you and the entire Latitude staff for putting out such a killer publication. I've read practically every issue, cover to cover, since I started sailing here three years ago, and I've found it to be an invaluable reference guide as well as a good read.

My question is, does anyone from Latitude make themselves available for informal talks at local sailing clubs? I started a sailing club here at Ames Research Center last year and it‰s been pretty well received. We have about 35 paid members and another 100 on our mailing list. The second Thursday of each month we have a general meeting and a guest speaker. I‰m hoping we can entice one of you down here to talk about whatever you want - hopefully related to sailing. We can offer lunch and possibly a tour of the Center.

Greg Sherwood
Imi Loa, Catalina 34 #582
Oyster Point YC

Greg - In years past, the Wanderer went around to some of the yacht clubs and made a fool of himself in front of thin crowds. As much as he'd like to do more of this, there just aren't enough hours in the day or night. But here's a thought: If you call us in August and all is going well, we might - no guarantees - be able to take all 35 of your paid members out for a sail in September on Profligate, Latitude's catamaran.

OUR CHINESE FRIENDS WERE CONFUSED

We're writing from the inner hinterlands - Yunnan Province - of a very cold China. We're far from the ocean and surrounded by Myanmar, Laos, Viet Nam, and Tibet - oops, it's Xizang now. We're landlocked and frozen . . . but also loving Latitude 38! Thanks to a sailing friend from Puget Sound, we received the December '98 copy.

We've enjoyed the issue so very much, and now it's making the rounds of the Dutch sailors who are also working in the area. Our Chinese friends have also been looking at the pictures. Their mouths hang open, they look confused and awed, and make a few secretive snickers. Latitude depicts a world beyond their understanding.

P.S. It's like sailing the Arctic here, as no indoor heating is allowed - or even possible - in China below the Yangtze River - which is at 54ºN! For the last month the temperatures have been around -5ºC, but still no indoor heat!

Jena Kemper Satman
China

Jena - We can tell it's cold over there because your handwriting is so shaky that it's almost illegible. What's the deal, are you locked up in one of Mao's forgotten re-education camps or something? Just kidding.

Realizing how important hope can be, let us assure you that there are indeed places on this planet - albeit down around latitude 18º, where the soft air is 85º, the clearest blue water you can imagine is 85º, and the sailing is perfect. There's no need for coats or heaters down there, heck, there's not even any need for clothes.

MONSIEUR PRESIDENT

TO: Monsieur Gaston Flosse, President de la Polynesie Francaise Papeete, Tahiti

Monsieur le President,

Imagine a tax-free paradise in the South Seas with palm trees and white sandy beaches, a paradise benefiting from large financial donations from the European Union, its citizens benefiting from the right to live and work in all countries of the European Union, its economy profiting from the common market of the European Union and the Euro as a currency.

"Herr Nageoire" would be President of this imaginary paradise.

But: Only Germans are allowed to live and reside in the paradise; Only Germans are allowed to work in the paradise; Non-GERMANS need a VISA after 3 months; Non-Germans are forced to pay US $1324,73 Caution de Rapatriement upon arrival.

Iorana! French Polynesian citizens are French citizens. French Polynesian citizens have French-European passports. French Polynesian citizens have the right to live and reside in all countries of the EU. French Polynesian citizens have the right to work in all countries of the EU. French Polynesia profits from large contributions of the European Union (F.E.D.) French Polynesia‰s economy benefits from the common market of the EU. French Polynesia‰s economy profits from the Euro as a currency. French Polynesian citizens are exempt from paying income tax. French Polynesian residents pay only half price of regular airfare.

French Polynesia denies EU citizens the "Permit de Sejour." French Polynesia exclusively grants French citizens the "Permit de Sejour." French Polynesia denies EU citizens the "Permit de Travail." French Polynesia exclusively grants French citizens the "Permit de Travail." French Polynesia demands from every EU citizen US $1324,73 Caution de Rapatriement. French Polynesia exclusively exempts French citizens from paying the above Caution.

No group of people inside the European Union has the monopoly on such exclusive and hypocritical privileges. French Polynesia discriminates against EU citizens and applies protectionist laws against them.

Monsieur le President, on the 26th of January 1999, we have taken your Immigration Authority D.R.C.L. to court. The Chef Gendarme M. Cotiche and the D.R.C.L. were unable to respond to our registered letter from the 19th of November 1998. Will you, Monsieur le President, show courage instead and answer for them?

The Internet site, http://www.trans-ocean.org/tahiti-bond, provides an open, international forum for discussion. Everybody‰s personal opinion is welcome. Including yours. Uncensored and "im Klartext" as we say.

Erika Ginsberg-Klemmt
Achim Klemmt

MARINER 31

I‰m buying a 1972 Mariner 31 ketch. I don‰t know much about the boat and would appreciate it if anyone could give me some background. I believe she's a Garden design and was built in Japan - but that‰s about the extent of my knowledge. I do know she's a lovely boat, with spruce spars and teak cockpit and hatches.

Does anyone out there know how many were built, when they went out of production, who imported them, and where they were sold? I‰d be grateful for any help. In fact, if you're down Houston way, I‰ll take you for a sail aboard one of the nicest looking boats on Clear Lake.

P.S. I stumbled on the Latitude website by accident - and am delighted with the content.

Ed T. Bragg
Houston, Texas

Ed - All we can remember is that there were Mariner 35s and Mariner 40s, and none were built after the mid-70s. It was about that time that Japan went nuts building quality cars and consumer products and left the low-cost boatbuilding to the Taiwanese.

AC/DC

In the January issue, Mari Collazo bemoaned the fact that she's had a hard time finding 12-volt appliances to making living aboard more comfortable.

If she were to check out any large truck stop chain - such as Petro, Flying J and so forth - she'd find a large assortment of 12-volt appliances. Coffeemakers, crockpots, electric blankets, broilers, hair dryers, and shavers are just a few of the products that come to mind. These truck stops are to be found along major highways in all 48 contiguous states.

P.S. If anybody has any information on Peter and Antoinette Vogelsang of Flying Cloud, please page us at (619) 641-8728.

Al & Nadine Goechler
Restless
San Diego

Al & Nadine - Good advice. And prices in an RV store or truck stop are apt to be cheaper than in a marine store. Be warned, however, that products manufactured specifically for marine use - like light fixtures - are often made with a higher grade of materials, hence the higher prices.

LOOKING FOR WINDMILLS

Whenever I tell my friends I‰m looking for Windmills, I‰m either directed to Golden Gate Park, or Holland. While these are equally fascinating places, I‰m speaking about the 15-ft, hard-chined planning wonder that was very popular on the West Coast in the 1970s and early 1980s.

This simple home-built craft designed in the late 1950s by Clarke Mills, and later reproduced in fiberglass, resembles a Snipe on a diet. One of the most fun little dinghies I‰ve had the pleasure to sail, and recently, to own. No carbon fiber, few bells, no whistles, and way too easy to rig. The only trouble with the Windmill is the over-saturation of the 15-ft dinghy marketplace, which is showing no signs of improving, and our constant need to create the unnecessary. Oh well, that‰s progress I suppose.

Rather than have the remaining West Coast Windmills continue on sulking in backyards, tied to the rafters of the shed, and used as storage bins for last year‰s camping supplies, I‰m hoping to locate and collect a small fleet to be used in our Sacramento Valley sailing club, the Butte Sailing Club.

If anyone out there in Latitude-land knows of a Windmill looking for a new lease on life, please contact me at: 4828 Fortna Road, Yuba City, CA, 95993. Better yet, drag it up here, and let‰s go sailing!

Dave Neilsen
Race Chairman
Butte Sailing Club

A CREW LIST EXTRAVAGANZA

My wife and I are looking for a boat to crew on during the upcoming season. When does your "looking for crew - looking for boats" issue come out?

You help is greatly appreciated.

Tom Buckley
San Francisco

Tom - Your letter arrived as we were going to press, and by the time you read this it will be too late to sign up - see the Crew List article in this month's issue. But it's not to late to make contacts. As stated in Sightings, our Crew List Party, April 8, will feature an expanded format, and is expected to draw one of the biggest crowds ever. Take note that the time is 6 to 9 p.m., as the earlybirds often make the easiest connections. Good luck.


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© 1999 Latitude 38