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The editor's responses to the March Letters were enlightening Ö to say the least. First, I learned that today's modern designs are much safer than those slow, heavy, full-keel old-timers because they offer a "bigger advantage in avoiding bad weather." Any fool can see that. Why suffer bad weather in a seven-knot boat when you could just zip away from it in an eight-knot boat?
Next, I learned that hardly anyone drinks tank water anymore, preferring bottled water instead. Could you please recommend some fine brie and chardonnay labels so that I can pretend to be a proper San Francisco yuppie while sitting down here on my pathetic old ketch guzzling tank water?
Dick Ö Obviously we didn't do a very good job of making our point. The question is not so much, 'Why suffer in bad weather with a seven-knot boat when you could zip away from it with an eight-knot boat?', but rather, 'Why suffer in bad weather because you only sailed your ketch at five knots when she had the potential to do seven knots?' It's a big distinction. And there are many occaisons Ö no matter if along the coast of Baja or from Tonga to New Zealand Ö that being able to make an extra 50 miles a day would also make all the difference between comfort and safety versus potential danger.
Although many of your San Diego neighbors who drink bottled water would disagree, boat tank water will actually do just fine if you never leave the dock. But if you were to ever voyage to a foreign country where the water that comes out of the tap is the color of the Colorado River, or is known to be a source of serious health problems, we reckon you'd find religion right away.
There are additional good reasons to carry bottled water. Folks who have been through severe weather report that the jostling of their boat caused the sediment in the bottom of the water tanks to muddy what came out of the tap, making it unusable when they needed it most for hydration and/or to prepare instant soups for quick nourishment. The experience of the Offshore 40 Mary T. during the Queen's Birthday Storm of 1994 Ö as reported by Tony Farrington in Rescue In The Pacific Ö is a good case in point: "Fearing Anna could be dehydrated, Carol gave her some water from the yacht's tanks. It was revolting. The constant pitching and rolling had stirred sediment off the bottom of the tanks. Brown flakes floated in the water. Anna settled for sucking candy."
If you need yet another excuse to carry bottled water, we're familiar with a number of cases where crews discovered, in the middle of ocean crossings, that they had little or no usable water. There have been a variety of causes: water inadvertently left running, a leak in the tank, or contaminated water. We'll never forget the time Peter Pinkham delivered a Garden 41 ketch back from Hawaii and passed under the Gate rip-roaring drunk. A leak in the main water tank meant the only liquid they had to drink for the last 24 hours of the passage was vodka.
So belittle us as fools and yuppies to your heart's delight, but we'll continue to carry bottled water and leave the "brown flakes" to you.
Ö GOING AROUND IN 12-FOOTERS AND 18-FOOTERS
When we were in the Cocos Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean, we met a 61-year-old Russian fellow named Eugeny Gvozdev, who at that point was on the homeward leg of a circumnavigation. He was doing it with an 18-foot fiberglass daysailer named Lena. His 'equipment' consisted of a sextant and an old radio. We'd love to hear if anyone has news.
I know your citation of small boat voyages wasn't meant to be exhaustive, but I can't let the omission of a truly noteworthy small boat voyage go unmentioned: my husband Serge Testa's circumnavigation in a 12-foot sailboat. No one has broken that record yet. Serge is living in the Bay Area now, working as manager of the Berkeley YC.
Robin Ö Our sincere apologies for neglecting to mention Serge's incredible accomplishment. As for Gvozdev, hopefully one of our readers will have an update.
Ö HUMBLE BOATS
I enjoyed reading the Perspectives On A Nightmare article in the February issue, but sometimes become tired of the celebrity status that certain sailors seem to achieve. There are so many sailing books being written on the same subject, especially heavy weather sailing and safety issues. Everyone claims to be an expert and to have the correct opinion. I say this even though I realize that these 'stars of sailing' have a great deal of experience Ö and even though I agree with most of their opinions.
Nevertheless, there are hundreds of humble, unknown sailors who are crossing oceans and circumnavigating the globe at this very moment Ö and moreover, they are doing it aboard simple yachts that are quite often relatively small and slow. Yes, it is important to be able to make good progress in any weather condition, but the 'stars of cruising' that offered perspectives on the tragedies off New Zealand sail large and expensive vessels. Unfortunately, not too many people can afford to purchase a 'big boat' Ö no matter how you want to define the term. But there are still people who like to cruise in humble boats Ö boats that the 'sailing stars' think should remain in port or protected waters unless they can achieve a certain speed criteria.
I assume that people like John Guzzwell, who sailed around the world in the 20-foot Trekka, and others must have been crazy for taking off in their tiny vessels. Furthermore, I can't believe that Guzzwell started his voyage sailing along the Northwest and Northern California coastlines Ö some of the most dangerous sailing waters in the world. In any event, I wish you did interviews with sailors of modest means so that we could learn about the techniques they use in heavy weather situations.
I suppose that the 'stars of cruising' are trying to make a living while sailing their big boats. Writing books and having seminars are quite the thing these days. Yet these celebrities know quite well that just a tiny fraction of the people who attend their seminars or read their books actually ever cruise.
Despite my criticisms, I really enjoy reading Latitude. I also want to congratulate the stars and celebrities of your rag for being truthful and honest with you. I certainly would do the same thing myself. Finally, where are the Pardeys? Yes, they are my favorite cruising couple, so I suppose they are my own 'cruising stars'.
May Neptune bless all sailors, celebrities or not. And may God give all mariners fair winds and safe passages Ö as the seas have a tendency to turn people into humble individuals.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Michel Ö Terrific letter! We like the issues you raised and the spirit in which you raised them.
First off, we do frequently write about sailors who make magnificent voyages in humble boats. In a response to a letter on page 38 of the March issue, we listed a bunch of them: Tania Aebi and Brian Caldwell, both of whom singlehanded around the world in little Contessa 26s; the Riley family, who circumnavigated with a Columbia 24; Dave and Jaja Martin, who did a seven-year circumnavigation with two kids aboard a Cal 2-25. While we mentioned others, we neglected to remember that Norton Smith singlehanded from England to Antigua via the Canaries aboard the Wylie 20 American Express, and that 20-year old Amy Boyer did the same thing with the Wilderness 21 Little Rascal. Later Smith and Boyer sailed their respective boats to Hawaii. How about Charles and T.C. Vollum of Portland? Despite being happily married for 19 years, he singlehanded to New Zealand in a Nor'Sea 27 while she did the same with a Flicka 20. Check the records of the Singlehanded TransPac to Hawaii to see how many folks have raced Ö not just cruised Ö to Hawaii with Santana 22s, Moore 24s, Cal 28s and similar boats.
And if you're thinking about sailing across the Atlantic, you might remember our reports on Doug McNoughton making it Ö despite a hurricane Ö with an Express 27. Before that, Hank Grandin did it with an Olson 30 Ö and got rolled several times for his trouble. Lots of folks will remember that grandmother Mary McCollum singlehanded her little Pacific Seacraft 25 from the West Coast to New Zealand; more recently her husband singlehanded it non-stop from New Zealand back to Seattle. And the previous letter reminded us of Serge Testa's accomplishment with a 12-footer. The truth is that there is simply no end to the list of people Ö men, women, young, old Ö who have or who are now making long ocean passages in 'humble boats'.
Our personal 'humble boat' hero is Skip Allan of Capitola Ö and the oceans of the world. Allan finished off his 28-foot Wildflower, the prototype for the Wylie Hawkfarm one-design, just in time for the first Singlehanded Farallones Race in 1977 which was massacred by a full gale, and the first Singlehanded TransPac in 1978. Eighteen years later he doublehanded the same Wildflower to Hawaii in less than 13 days to take third overall in the West Marine Pacific Cup from San Francisco to Hawaii Ö despite using vintage sails and carrying a sailboard and other cruising gear. In the years between the '78 Singlehanded TransPac and the '96 West Marine Pacific Cup, Allan took Wildflower on several other cruises to the South Pacific as well as to the Pacific Northwest.
You may justifiably consider the Pardeys to be 'heroes' of humble cruisers, but consider this: While Allan's spartan fiberglass boat has nowhere near the wooden boat beauty, soul or luxury of the Pardey's Taleisin, we'd estimate she probably cost 75% less, is 25% faster on a typical passage, and requires 30% of the maintenance. By the way, we've seen used Hawkfarms listed for as low as $6,000. The truth is, the only things standing between you and a three-year circumnavigation is $10,000, moderate sailing skills, a little luck Ö and above all, desire.
The reason we don't write about humble cruisers any more frequently than we do is that the majority of cruisers prefer Ö or because of life's obligations, have Ö to work a little bit longer, and therefore can afford somewhat larger and more expensive boats. It's revealing, for example, that the Riley family eventually moved up from a Columbia 24 to a Dickerson 41; that John Guzzwell took his family cruising on a 35-footer and most recently raced Endangered Species, his 'half-a-Whitbread boat' to Hawaii; that Serge Testa moved up from a 12-footer to a 60-footer for his second circumnavigation; that Mary McCollum now sails a Crealock 34; and that the Martins, who can't believe they did what they did with their 25-footer, have moved up to a 31-footer. The simple truth is that as most folks get older Ö and hopefully a little more affluent Ö they tend to prefer larger, more comfortable, and perhaps inherently safer boats.
You ask if John Guzzwell was "crazy" to take off aboard a 20-foot boat. That's a question that each sailor has to answer for himself/herself. If taking off in a 20-footer isn't crazy, then how about an 18-footer, a 12-footer, or a 6-footer? Last year a guy started across the Atlantic for New York via the Caribbean aboard a three foot boat, a vessel so small that he had to tow his food behind in a 'torpedo'. Was he crazy? Personally speaking, we think a 27-footer is probably the smallest boat we'd be interested in cruising in, and if we had our kids with us, 32 feet. Even so, we'd still be inclined to work 18-hour days for six months to afford something a little larger, faster, and more comfortable.
We also want to say something in defense of the 'cruising stars' who were featured in our Perspectives On A Nightmare article. First off, none of them approached us looking for publicity. On the contrary, we sought them out Ö and for one reason only: the amount and diversity of their ocean sailing experience.
If you want humble, read 'sailing celebrity' John Neal's Log of the Mahina, which is the story of a young guy who scraped together a few thousand dollars to buy the best cruising boat he could Ö which turned out to be a modest Vega 27. With his few remaining dollars, he outfitted her as best he could Ö which essentially was not at all Ö and took off to learn about cruising while actually doing it. Having now sailed 200,000 ocean miles, Neal says his worst weather Ö as was the case with Guzzwell Ö was his first few days off the Pacific Northwest on his first passage.
When Neal returned from his first cruise, scores of not particularly well-off folks wanted to know how he did it. Others wanted to sail offshore with him to see what it was like. It was from these most humble of beginnings that Neal's books, cruising seminars, and offshore adventure charters ensued. If you think people who take his and Amanda Swan-Neal's seminars don't go cruising, you couldn't be more wrong; we bump into them in distant ports all over the world. As for Neal's offshore cruising seminars, he and Amanda don't take the easy way out by day-hopping in the gentle confines of the British Virgins, but rather make real-life cruises from Alaska to Antartica Ö with side trips to remote areas of South America and around Cape Horn. The Neals have done and given far too much to be dismissed as 'celebrities'. By the way, most of Neal's 200,000 ocean miles and offshore seminars were done in a series of smaller Hallberg-Rassys. It's only after two decades and a bank loan that he and Amanda have moved up to a larger and more luxurious boat.
Jim and Sue Corenman come to sailing from a different angle. As partners in a company that created the non-intrusive oxymeter Ö it measures the oxygen in your blood Ö they walked away with a enough money to retire. They did the first San Francisco to Hawaii Pacific Cup with a Catalina 30, perhaps the most humble boat in the fleet. They did the event several more times with a Nordic 40, which they reckoned was the largest boat two people could handle. After many ocean miles, they decided that the weight of a boat, not the length, was the limiting factor in what a couple could handle, so they moved up to their current boat, Heart of Gold, a Schumacher 50 that displaces 20,000 pounds Ö the same as their Nordic did.
The Coremans devoted tremendous skill and energy toward making the Pacific Cup into a great event Ö and literally wrote the book on it. For the last six years they've been high performance cruising their way around the world. Wherever they go, they've been known and loved for sharing superb weather information and advice. Furthermore, it was Jim Corenman who with Stan Honey co-created Sailmail, which allows cruisers around the world to easily send email over SSB and Ham radios. It's a non-profit enterprise. If you're looking for a couple who have in any way tried to squeeze a buck out of sailing, you couldn't have come up with worse suspects than the Corenmans.
Steve Dashew was born on his father's big schooner Constellation. After sailing around the world with his wife Linda and their children, the couple have made a career out of creating, cruising, and writing about mostly larger cruising boats. So sure, to some extent they're in it for the money. But before you slam them, check out their monumentally large and prolifically illustrated Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia and tell us if you've ever seen a cruising reference book with 1/50th of the information or illustrations. If the Dashews are quick-buck artists, they're unclear on the concept. Even though we and the Dashews have entirely different preferences in boats, we don't know of anybody else who knows as much about boats and boat gear.
The point we hope we've made is that the Neals, the Corenmans, and the Dashews aren't well-known just because of they are 'empty celebrities', but because of the many miles they've sailed and the knowledge and experiences they've shared. And while all three couples have moved up to larger boats than what they began with, we can assure you that none of them have become pompous or arrogant. Indeed, they'd all have the same reaction to some who sailed smartly up next to them and dropped the hook from a well-maintained 'Skip Allan'-type humble cruiser: respect and admiration.
Two things to remember: First, all of the 'celebrities' would agree that the most important safety factor in any cruise is not the size of the boat, but the skill of the person sailing her. Second, that all their advice and recommendations apply to small boats as well as larger boats.
Whatever happened to the Pardeys? After looking around, we found them on page 164 of this issue.
Ö HARVEY SHLASKY
This year's Doublehanded Farallones Race brought challenges for some and tragedy for Harvey Shlasky, my best friend and life partner, who died during the event. We had just moved aboard Rocinante, our Creaklock 37, and were making plans for adventures to distant lands.
The knowledge that Harvey lost his life doing what he loved offers some comfort, however it is the love and support of friends and strangers alike that has gotten me through this trying time. I want to thank each of you for that special thought, prayer, hug or a shoulder to cry on. I also extend a very special thanks to the Coast Guard team for their heroic efforts to rescue Harvey from the water; to Bruce Nesbit of Razzberries, who called the mayday and stood by; and Mark Van Selst, who did everything humanly possible to try to save Harvey's life.
There are many lessons to be learned from this year's Doublehanded Race, and not just lessons related to Harry's death. First, all mariners need to very carefully consider their assumptions about the safety of you and others. Something as simple as where you terminate the jacklines and how your body would drag relative to your boat if you went overboard could spell the difference between safety and tragedy.
Second, this year's Doublehanded event highlighted some communication problems: 1) There needs to be better communication between the racing community and the Coast Guard. For example, the Coast Guard was unable to effectively evaluate and respond to the calls they received because they were unable to maintain direct contact with race officials. 2) To that end, it is imperative that we members of the racing community monitor our VHFs so that we are aware of calls being made to the Coast Guard or race committees Ö and be available to relay messages from the far side of the Farallones. As it was, the Coast Guard received 30 calls about the F-31 that turtled during the same event because racers weren't aware that other racers had already called it in. 3) We need to take a more proactive approach to see that the Coast Guard and the racing community become more knowledgeable about each other. It was sobering, for example, to talk to the Coast Guard rescue team and realize they didn't know what a man overboard pole was. I don't mention this as a criticism of the Coast Guard, but rather a wake-up call for all of us who are operating under false assumptions.
Therefore, I challenge the Ocean Yacht Racing Association, the local racing associations, and representatives of the Coast Guard to develop a forum in which to build teamwork, develop better communication procedures, and educate each other on the uniqueness of the two world's. Let it be Harvey Shlasky's legacy that we learn to work better as a team to make sailing safer for everyone to enjoy.
Lastly, keep sailing Ö but be safe. And when you round the Farallones the next time, think of Harvey.
Rocinante, Crealock 37
Ö CAN THE CAPTAIN PERFORM MARRIAGES?
I don't know why, but almost everyone that goes sailing with me asks if I, as the boat owner and/or captain, can perform marriages at sea. I¹m not a licensed captain and I really don't know. Can I? Would it be legal and binding?
Empress, Magellan 36
Marina del Rey
Alan Ö We're often asked this question. As the owner of the boat, you're permitted to perform a ceremony called 'Marriage Lite'. The important features of this union are that it's good only for the duration of the sail and is neither legal or binding. As such, you can imagine that it's very popular.
Ö SCHEDULE FOR THE HA-HA
I was the crewmember on Golden Ring for Baja Ha-Ha in '98 and had a great time. The fact that Bill, the skipper, was a true gentleman and a great captain made the trip all the better. I had to head back north to work as soon as we got to Cabo, so I couldn't stick around for the festivities.
This year I'm going to try to make the Ha-Ha with my own boat Ö and try to set aside some time for fun and games in Cabo. Frankly, however, I think the best part of the trip was anchoring in Turtle Bay. Sure, the food service at the overwhelmed Vera Cruz restaurant on the hill wasn't fast, but the people in town were friendly, and the locals kids trying their luck at Halloween were great.
Anyway, I just read in the current Latitude that you were going to sail the Ha-Ha '99 without very much moonlight. What's the schedule?
Mark Ö The Grand Poobah advises that the Ha-Ha will start from San Diego on October 26 and that the closing ceremonies will be in Cabo on November 6. The moon will be full on October 24, so there will be quite a bit of moonlight for the first leg. For the second and particularly third legs, participants will be able to sail by starlight.
Turtle Bay, Bahia Santa Maria, and Cabo San Lucas Ö each of the Ha-Ha stops are great, and completely different from one another. For those who enjoy nature and don't mind hiking around, the Bahia Santa Maria stop is a real sleeper.
For details on Baja Ha-Ha XI, see this month's Sightings.
Ö REPLACING THE CARTRIDGE
The details of this year's Doublehanded Farallones tragedy prompted me to write this letter now rather than procrastinate any longer. After a great sail last month, I was lounging in the cockpit with my friends Len Sellers and Tom Mannion. Len and I did the Pacific Cup in '92 together aboard Ivory Goose, and I happened to mentioned that I was still using the same self-inflating SOSpenders Personal Flotation Device that I had used seven years before. And with the same CO2 cartridge and 'aspirin tablet'. Len was pretty sure that the cartridge and the tablet have to be replaced from time to time, but didn't know how often. Tom didn't pretend to know.
So, we have the obvious questions: Can I test the cartridge without destroying it? Do CO2 cartridges develop slow leaks and drain out over time? Does the seal dry out and become impenetrable? If my cartridge should be replaced, how often should I plan on replacing it? Ditto for the 'aspirin tablet'. And what else should I know about the proper maintenance of my PFD? Thank God, I have never had to rely on it . . . yet.
Congratulations on your website, it keeps getting better and better. You must be up to chapter three in the website manual!
Fred Ö We passed your questions on to Chuck Hawley, Vice President of Product Information at West Marine Products. Here's what he had to say:
"Can the cartridge be tested without destroying it? It's possible by weighing the cartridge, since the difference between the charged and discharged weight should be 25, 33, or 38 grams respectively, depending on the model vest.
"Do CO2 cartridges develop slow leaks and drain out over time? I believe this is so rare as to be insignificant. The walls of the cylinder are pretty thick steel, but the puncture area of the nipple is very thin Ö several thousandths of an inch. Virtually all loss of gas would be through the nipple area. Superficial rust on the cylinder is extremely unlikely to cause a loss of CO2, nonetheless, I would still discard any rusty cyclinders.
"Does the seal dry out and become impenetrable? I don't believe so. If the seal is intact, I don't think that the ease of penetration would vary over time.
"If my cartridge should be replaced, how often should I plan on replacing it? I would base this on its physical conditions, primarily rust. Most cylinders are either sealed with a coating (Survival Tech) or are what appears to be cadmium plating. Unless left in a damp and salty environment, I suspect that two to three years would be a cinch Ö with the obvious caveat that there be no damage to the nipple.
"How often should I replace the 'aspirin tablet'? The current thinking on the bobbin is nine to 12 months. However, it should be replaced more often in warm and moist environments and less frequently if stored in a dry closet at home. For peace of mind, I'd replace it twice a year.
"What else should you know about the proper maintenance of your PFD? Every season you should unfold your inflatable and inflate it orally to the maximum pressure you can. Leave the device for a few hours and see if there is any loss of pressure. Note that temperature and atmospheric pressure will affect how hard the inflatable feels. If there are leaks, discard the device or send it to the manufacturer for inspection. In addition, remove the CO2 cylinder and inspect the nipple for previous use. Remove and replace the bobbin. If the vest gets used in wet conditions, unfold the bladder after the race or cruise and allow it to air dry. If you think the bobbin has been subjected to lots of moisture, replace it, too.
"I would also replace the entire unit after 10 to 15 years."
Ö EPIRBS ARE COMPLEX DEVICES
As the Northern California rep for ACR, I would like to clear up a few misconceptions Carl Bergan expressed in his April Letter about replacement batteries for his Litton/Guest 406 EPIRB.
Bergan states that you can buy the battery for our ACR 406 EPIRB in the West Marine catalog and replace it yourself. Actually, the $99 battery he refers to is for our older Class B EPIRB Ö and may indeed be replaced by the customer.
However, the 406 EPIRBs presently made by ACR must be serviced by an authorized Battery Repair Center, and replacing the battery will cost a little over $200. However, the good news is that ACR has service centers all over the world so it should be easier for cruisers to get their units serviced.
Sailors need to realize that EPIRBs are complex devices that must be rugged and dependable, and this requires proper service and testing. A recreational user can expect 10 years of service from most EPIRBs before they need service or battery replacement, which is a pretty long time.
With regard to the confusion over the different batteries and the high cost of replacement and shipping, here is the situation in a nutshell: Older EPIRBs Ö no matter who manufactured them Ö used military technology, which required large amounts of power to operate reliably and continuously for 48 hours. The only kind of battery that could provide that much power for such a long life span was lithium. Unfortunately, lithium batteries are considered hazardous and therefore not suitable for shipment by air.
The ACR Satellite 406 EPIRB Ö and other units using newer technology Ö have lower power requirements. In the case of ACR, it means the current units only use a three-cell battery as opposed to a 26-cell battery! In addition, the new batteries use less lithium, so all current ACR 406 EPIRBs and Class B EPIRBs are 'non hazardous materials' and therefore are approved for carriage aboard aircraft.
Ö NAVIGATING THE NAPA RIVER
Would you be so kind as to direct me to any source of information about navigating the Napa River and the marine services in and around Napa? I'm going to attempt to visit the area this summer with a 55-foot boat.
Nelson Ö If you check out the October '98 issue, you can read about how we cruised the Napa River with a 63-foot cat last Labor Day. Great times! If you're looking for fuel, it's available both at Vallejo on the way up, and at the Napa Valley Marina a few miles shy of Napa.
While a few large boats travel almost all the way up to Napa, the Napa Valley Marina Ö surrounded by vineyards Ö is really the marine headquarters for the area. It's a great cruise destination and just an easy 20-minute outboard-powered dinghy ride from downtown Napa.
Ö RULE #2, AN INSULT TO ALL WOMEN
What do you get when you cross a liberated French female and an unliberated German sailor? We found out in 1980 when we sailed Amadon Light to Bora Bora and anchored in front of the then-recently-completed Bora Bora YC.
Alex from Germany, and Michelle from France, had sailed from the Caribbean, fell in love with French Polynesia, and built a small group of thatched A-frames on the lagoon. Anyone could anchor off the club and pay to use the facilities. But in order to join, Alex had some strict rules: 1) You had to sail to Bora Bora aboard your own boat. 2) If you were a woman, you had to singlehand Ö or in Alex's words, "You must be a singlehanded woman." Michelle declared Rule #2 to be an insult to all women, but Alex insisted that it was "fair."
For four months we sat at anchor off the Bora Bora YC, and each evening enjoyed drinks on the patio watching the sun go down. Then one evening a small boat appeared at the pass. As she made her way to the anchorage, it became apparent that the unexpected had happened: a singlehanded woman had arrived! Michelle was thrilled, as the singlehanded lady was a countryman Ö er, countrywoman Ö from France.
Naturally, we all watched to see how Alex would handle it. Would he announce a new, previously unknown rule, in order to continue to block women from joining the club? No, he didn't. Rather, he proudly stood at the bar and signed up the first "legitimate singlehanded woman to sail to Bora Bora." So the barrier had been broken Ö even if rule #2 remained in effect.
The most unusual part of the story happened later, as the 'singlehanded lady' waited for her father to fly in from France for a visit. We all gathered on the patio to toast the reunion. When the taxi arrived, out stepped the visiting father Ö on crutches and with one leg. A French paratrooper, he'd jumped from a plane with a chute that had been packed on a Monday. No one said a word as father and daughter embraced. Then, from behind the bar, Alex was heard to say: "Mein Got, the singlehanded woman has a singlefooted father!"
When all the characters are gone, we will be sailing on a homogenized sea and telling our cruising tales via email.
Amadon Light of Honolulu
A.L. Ö We have no idea what inspired you to send us that story from the 'old days' in the South Pacific, but we enjoyed it.
Ö MULTIHULLS VERSUS MONOHULLS
Your recent issues have had some very interesting and informative articles about the effect of severe weather on both cruising and racing boats. Follow-up articles have provided various perspectives on how to avoid and/or try to survive big winds and big waves. The focus Ö or at least what seems to be the applied focus Ö of these articles has been on monohulls.
I was wondering if there is any related information for multihulls. For example, how would a modern 35 to 45-foot cruising multihull fare in these conditions compared to a modern 35 to 45-foot cruising monohull? Would the storm survival techniques be similar? Does the wider beam of a multihull make it more prone or less prone to being capsized in large waves?
It seems that one advantage that many multihulls may have is that even if swamped or capsized, they may not be as prone to sinking Ö although trying to hold onto the overturned hulls of a multihull in 30-foot breaking seas doesn't necessarily seem like a better alternative to being in a liferaft launched from a sinking monohull.
As the popularity of multihulls appears to be growing both among cruisers and in charter fleets, any comments on this subject would be of interest to a respectable percentage of the sailing community.
Andy Ö During the first week of June '94, approximately 35 boats took off from New Zealand for Tonga or Fiji. For 72 hours during the middle of the 1,000-mile voyage, many of them were caught in what meteorologists call a 'bomb', which is simply a low pressure system Ö be it a depression, cyclone, or low Ö in which the central pressure falls at least .7 of an inch in 24 hours. The result was that 1.25 million square miles of the South Pacific were hit with 35-knot (gale force) winds while 234,000 square miles had 50-knot (storm force) winds. According to various crews, SAR pilots, and ship captains, vessels in the storm's core area experienced winds as high as 100 knots and seas Ö and we know this sounds preposterous Ö of between 40 and 100 feet. In other words, this was a more severe storm than last November's 'Nightmare Off New Zealand'.
It's unclear exactly how many boats were caught in the core of the June '94 storm, but nine boats with a total of 24 crew issued maydays. One boat and her three crew were never seen again. Seven other boats with 17 crew were eventually rescued. One boat rescinded her mayday and made it to port under her own power. What should make the Queen's Birthday Storm story so interesting to you, Andy, is that two of the nine boats that issued maydays were catamarans; one a homebuilt 39-footer, the other a Catalac 41. In addition, there was a third catamaran, a 39-footer, on the periphery of the core. The following is a quick rundown of all nine boats, their crews, and what happened to each of them.
Quartermaster, a 40-ft New Zealand sloop with an experienced husband, wife, and son crew: After reporting that she had been rolled or severely knocked down a number of times, the crew set off their EPIRB. Once that happened, they were never seen or heard from again. Ultimately, the only trace of the boat or her crew was an empty liferaft Ö with indications that at least one person had been inside.
Destiny, a U.S.-based Norseman 447 (45 feet) with a husband and wife crew who had 20,000 ocean miles: They ran with bare poles dragging a Sea Squid drogue, which seemed to work, even down the face of 50-foot waves in as much as 80 knots of wind. Then suddenly the boat went airborne, free-falling bow first for an estimated 70 feet to begin a pitchpole followed by a 360º roll. When the boat righted herself, the skipper was badly injured and the mast was permanently wrapped around the hull. The crew was later rescued through the heroic efforts of the skipper and crew of the ship Tui Cakau. Despite being bashed repeatedly by the eight-story tall ship, Destiny floated Ö her mast still banging against her hull Ö for six months until she washed up in the Banks Islands of Vanuatu. She was stripped and burned by locals.
Pilot, a Maine-based Westsail 32 cutter, with a very experienced crew of two: After several knockdowns, the boat was rolled. Then, while running with quartering seas, a huge wave washed the mast away. The only boat without an EPIRB, Pilot was miraculously spotted by an airplane looking for other boats. Although suffering from hypothermia, the crew battled the boat's inherent tendency to go beam to the breaking seas. Accepting a rescue offer from a ship, the skipper took a knife to the sink thru-hull, scuttling the vessel he'd lived on and cruised for six years. The two crew ultimately blamed exhaustion Ö brought on in a large part by what they felt was the Westsail's poorly-designed cockpit Ö for having to give up.
Sofia, a New Zealand-based Atkin 32-ft double-ended cutter with a crew of two, one experienced, one not: After trying to run with the seas using a long rope as a drogue, the skipper decided to close the boat up, go below, and wait it out. This worked for awhile, but then the boat was rolled. After a second roll the boat stayed inverted for "what seemed like an eternity", dismasting the boat and leaving the skipper temporarily unconscious. The French transport ship Jacques Cartier eventually rescued Sofia's crew, as some brave men risked their lives in an inflatable to effect the rescue. One even got into the raging sea in case either of the two victims fell overboard! The captain of the French ship was instructed to shoot the boat out of the water, but based on political considerations relating to the French sabotage of Rainbow Warrior, decided not to. Six months to the day later, Sofia was found 230 miles to the north of her abandoned position, her anchor having snagged the bottom. The owner, who was in the process of building a smaller boat with donated materials, towed Sofia back to Auckland and put her up for sale.
Mary T., a U.S.-based Offshore 40 yawl with a crew of four very experienced offshore sailors: She lost her steering and ended up lying beam to the seas. Even with four reefs in the main and full power from the diesel, the crew was unable to bring her head to wind. She took in lots of water through cockpit hatches and lost her steering. But after stabilizing the situation, she called off the mayday, and using a quadruple reefed main for power and a steering vane to steer, made it to Fiji. Subsequently, they continued on to the Indian Ocean.
Silver Shadow, a 42-foot cold-molded racer/cruiser from New Zealand with a very experienced offshore crew of four: Even when the wind was blowing 50 knots and the seas were 40 feet high, the crew was confident. In fact, they were happily sailing along at eight knots under a triple-reefed main and a storm jib. Suddenly, however, an unseen wave rolled the boat, dismasting her. They crew still figured they could effect a jury rig and make the islands on their own. It wasn't until the dismasted boat was rolled again and some crew were seriously injured that they decided to set off their EPIRB. Despite repeated efforts with a sea anchor made from a balled up jib and mizzen created from a reaching strut lashed to a pulpit, they only occasionally were able to get the bow into the seas. They also fashioned an emergency rudder. Eventually, they were rescued by the crew of the ship Monowai, which used a 20-foot inflatable for the transfer. It nearly cost the rescuers their lives. Several months later Silver Shadow was spotted 250 miles east of Noumea, but was then lost again. After five months she was seen on a reef 200 miles north of Vila, Vanuatu; the locals were dancing on her, having apparently enjoyed the 12 bottles of rum that had been left behind.
Waikiwi II, a 44-foot sloop from New Zealand with a very experienced crew of five: She was pitchpoled, dismasted during a knockdown, and lost her rudder. Her crew was ultimately saved by the ship Nomadic Duchess. Some of the crew were rescued on the first pass, while others had to wait for a second pass. During the second pass, the ship collided heavily with the boat, holing her, and thus ending any hopes of having her towed to safety.
Five things stand out from the experience of the seven monohulls: 1) Despite all efforts, it was virtually impossible to keep the boats from ending up beam-to the seas, which resulted in five of the boats being repeatedly knocked down or rolled. 2) Despite trailing drogues, two of the boats pitchpoled. 3) No matter if the seven monohulls pitchpoled or rolled, all of them lost their masts. 4) As a result of the pitchpoles, knockdowns, and rollovers, many of the crews suffered serious injuries. 4) Having a ship come alongside to effect a rescue was extremely difficult and dangerous for everyone involved. 5) Perhaps the most amazing thing is how well the seven boats held up to the unthinkably horrible conditions; had it not been for scuttling or collisions with rescuing ships, six of them would have continued to float. The age-old admonition to never leave a boat until it's underwater would seem as true as ever.
Now for the catamarans:
Ramtha, a 38-foot Roger Simpson designed modern-style catamaran from Australia, with a husband and wife crew with five years of coastal cruising experience and some offshore experience: The crew had set a drogue several days before the storm to fix her steering, but had to cut it loose when they were unable to pull it back up. Ultimately, they found themselves in 70 knots of wind and 40 foot seas, conditions so bad that the 4,000-ton ship Monowai, coming to their rescue, rolled as much as 48º in each direction, injuring three of her crew. Despite four reefs, Ramtha's main blew to shreds and her steering system became inoperable. With nothing but her twin engines available for maneuvering, being aboard her was like "going down a mountain in a wooden box" or being on a "roller coaster that never stopped." The boat slid down waves forward, sideways, and backwards. Several times it seemed as though she might flip, but she never did. Ultimately, Monowai shot a line to Ramtha's crew, but missed. While the line gun was being reloaded, Ramtha's crew began to get strong second thoughts about leaving the boat, feeling he was doing fine on her own despite being crippled. Nonetheless, they attached their harnesses when the second line landed on their boat, and were dragged several hundred feet Ö often underwater Ö to and up the side of the ship. After abandoning the cat, the owners gave her up for lost. A week or so later, they were stunned to learn that the boat had been found Ö upright and in surprisingly good shape! After settling a salvage claim with another yachtie, they eventually sailed her back to Oz where they began rebuilding the cruising kitty.
Heart Light, a 41-foot Catalac U.S.-based catamaran with a crew of four; a husband and wife couple with 16,000 ocean miles, and two crew with no offshore experience: Despite having 16,000 miles ocean experience, the captain and wife claimed to have not steered the boat except near the dock and to have never jibed between the States and New Zealand. Heart Light was a heavy, solid fiberglass, narrow catamaran. Nevertheless, she did reasonably well, surfing at between 6 and 13 knots while dragging a drogue. When the autopilot couldn't handle it any longer, the skipper finally learned how to steer, working desperately to prevent waves from slewing the stern in front of the bow. Eventually, both engines went down and lines fouled both rudders. They tied off the helm to port and slid sideways down waves. Despite being "captapulted" through the air on many occasions and being knocked onto one hull several other times, she endured. When the rescue ship arrived, her captain noted that the boat "appeared seaworthy and was riding comfortably in the improved weather." When the captain said he couldn't tow the boat, Heart Light's first mate, a New Age visionary, talked the ship's captain into a weird agreement: they would only allow themselves to be rescued if he promised to ram Heart Light until she sank. The woman's theory was that the sinking boat would be a lighthouse guiding the forces of good through seven layers of reality into our currently evil world. Something like that Ö and yes, she wrote a book. The ship's captain complied, and Heart Light sank after being rammed several times.
The third catamaran, a 40-footer, carried a deeply reefed main and furled jib in slightly lighter conditions outside of the core. She experienced no serious problems.
There are several interesting things about the two catamarans in the core area of the storm: 1) Neither of them pitchpoled; 2) Neither of them flipped Ö although the crews thought they came close; 3) Neither of them were dismasted; 4) Both of them apparently would have survived Ö by surfing forwards, sideways, and backwards Ö had they just been left alone.
Does this mean that multihulls are actually safer in very severe weather than monohulls? We Ö who own both a monohull and a catamaran Ö certainly wouldn't leap to that conclusion. After all, there were several other monohulls in the core area of the storm that didn't even issue maydays and survived the storm with very little damage. And while it's much too small a sample on which to base any firm conclusions on, the performance of the catamarans in the storm nonetheless had some influence on our deciding to build a cat for our next charterboat.
By the way, most of the factual information presented above comes from Rescue In The Pacific, a well-written and well-documented account of the Queen's Birthday Storm by Tony Farrington. The book is still in print, and can be obtained whereever you normally buy marine titles. We can't recommend it highly enough for anyone planning to go offshore. The 'what we'd do next time' advice is particularly valuable. Had it been followed, perhaps not so many lives would have been lost off New Zealand last November.
For another account of a production multihull battling very severe weather, contact Cruising World for a reprint of an article by Phillipe Jeantot Ö winner of the first several modern singlehanded around the world races in multihulls Ö wrote several years ago. Jeantot delivered his new custom cruising Privilege 48 catamaran from France to the Canaries with a delivery crew, and from the Canaries to the Caribbean with just his wife and two infant children. On both legs they had to battle severe weather. Given Jeantot's impeccable credentials, it meant something that he gave the boat such good reviews. However, the reviews must also be tempered by the fact that Privileges are built by a company called Jeantot Marine.
On the other side of the multihull fence is sailing legend Sir Peter Blake, who ironically enough, established a new Jules Verne around-the-world record with the catamaran Enza. While Blake said Enza was a sensational boat in extreme weather, he contends that multihulls are not suitable for cruising.
Regarding a preference between having to bail out of a sinking monohull into a liferaft versus trying to cling to a flipped multihull in raging seas: The survivors of the eight boats listed above pretty much seemed to agree that getting into a liferaft at the height of the storm would have been impossible and in any event a death sentence. The fact that only one of the boats sank on its own is more evidence that getting into a liferaft should be the ultimate last resort. Indeed, when Quicksilver's liferaft was spotted, it was bouncing over the water almost like a beach ball.
Staying with an upturned multihull is usually not as bad as it might sound. In 1993, the trimaran Rose Noelle flipped between New Zealand and Tonga, and her crew survived on her for five months. When finally found, they were in such fine condition that many accused them of having pulled a prank. There's also the famous case of Rich Wilson and Bill Biewenga, who flipped the trimaran Great American in the process of trying to set a San Francisco to Boston record. They were quite happy to be inside the inverted boat off South America, as it was more stable than right side up. Alas, the huge seas flipped the tri back up! The production cats of the recent past have mostly been designed for charter work and therefore are quite heavy and have relatively small sail plans. In the unlikely event you could flip one, the habitation space would probably be quite habitable. But that's not true with all cats. About 10 years ago, the then already old cat Atalanta flipped in bad weather off Mexico. The two crew nearly died of exposure.
If you're looking for a book on the basics of multihull design, we recommend Chris White's The Cruising Multihull. He writes all about the effects of hull shape, beam, length, length-to-beam, and other factors that effect multihull performance.
We apologize for our long answer, but hope it was informative.
Ö I HOPE IT SINKS
I just want to say thanks to the jerk who stole my El Toro from the Pacific Yachting dock here in Santa Cruz last December. I took this long to write this letter because I thought someone might have just borrowed it to cross the channel and would then bring it back or that the Harbor Patrol might have found it. But neither happened.
This El Toro was old and ugly and nothing to write home about Ö but it belonged to me, not whoever stole it. I don't think it was anyone from the sailing community here in Santa Cruz, as I would hope that these folks have more integrity than that.
But if you're the thief and are reading this, I hope you feel bad enough to bring it back. If not, I hope it sinks from under you.
Cool Change, Catalina 30
Ö 30 YEARS OF GOOD SERVICE
Do any of your readers know of a source for parts or replacement components for Kenyon instruments? Mine have given me 30 years of good service. Besides, changing brands would require a lot of woodwork.
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee 50
Ernie Ö Kenyon Marine sold off what was left of their instrument business Ö including spare parts Ö to Miller Marine. Contact them at (904)388-3690.
Ö NO NOTIFICATION
In March, with an absolute minimum of advance warning and no published notification, Clipper Yacht Harbor in Sausalito closed its Chevron fuel dock for over a week to install new tanks. The marina management knew of this closing months in advance, but demonstrating an undeniable and obvious lack of regard for their patrons, they took no action to notify Bay Area boaters Ö many of whom rely on the Chevron Fuel Dock.
To compound the insult, Clipper Yacht Harbor would not even sell propane or CNG Ö stored on land Ö to their regular customers. When I mentioned to the Clipper Yacht Harbor manager that in the future he might place an ad in the local marine publications to announce such closures, he laughed. Bay Area boaters and Latitude readers can assure themselves better customer service by regularly buying their fuel at the other fuel docks that value their patronage.
William 'Slogging Jerry Cans' Nichols
Cruzann, Ericson 35
Ö UNANNOUNCED CLOSURE
Fuel is becoming increasingly scarce for boaters. Over in Berkeley, we've gotten used to the situation. City Yachts over in San Francisco has become our usual choice, and it's always a pleasure to stop there because I know I'll be treated well. Only rarely have I bought fuel at Ballena Bay Marina in Alameda or the Chevron fuel dock in Sausalito.
On March 9th, I took some sailing friends from Santa Cruz for a beautiful Ö but cold Ö sail out the Golden Gate for a view of the Marin Headlands and Ocean Beach from offshore. We motorsailed out the Gate in order to save time. The wind out the Gate was a blast, and we enjoyed it for a few hours before having the obligatory spinnaker run in under the bridge. In order to avoid jibing the spinnaker, we ran with the wind north toward Raccoon Strait.
Normally we would have topped off the tanks at City Yachts at Gas House Cove in San Francisco before returning to the Berkeley Marina, but having run so far to the north, we opted to use our remaining fuel to motor to the Chevron Fuel Dock in Sausalito. I know I shouldn't have drained the tank so much getting offshore, leaving so little reserve fuel to return, especially with winter conditions where the wind can suddenly fade, but ya hadda been there, etc.
When we got to Chevron at 1500, they were closed! Since I sail from a marina with no fuel dock, I've made a point of knowing all the fuel dock hours. The Sausalito Clipper Yacht Harbor fuel dock should have been open, but they closed without any announcement! What really made me angry is that Clipper Marina, which operates the fuel dock, knew for a year in advance that they'd be closed for a week! What kind of business is so shortsighted that they treat customers with such contempt? Or is it stupidity? Thanks for the concern, Clipper Yacht Harbor!
My father got to be a hero Ö again Ö for driving over and bailing us out. We bought a diesel container at West Marine and drove to San Rafael to have it filled. My friends had enough, however, and my father drove them back to Berkeley. My boat now sits with an almost empty tank Ö but at least I now have the diesel jug. And I know I won't repeat the mistake of depending on Chevron Fuel Dock in Sausalito.
Andante, Sabre 30
Jack Ö The folks at Clipper Marina had to replace their fuel tanks, and despite their best efforts had to shut down entirely for one week. They report that they posted warning signs at the fuel dock. They don't forsee having to close again any time soon.
Based on some sorry experiences of our own, we've found that carrying an extra five gallons of diesel can save a lot of time and trouble.
Ö THE NORTHILL SHOULD BE AT THE TOP OF THE LIST
I'm writing about anchors.
I ran harbor tugs in Honolulu and around the Islands during World War II, and later bought a 38-ft auxiliary cutter named Sindri. As the war turned in our favor, we were able to sail off Waikiki. Sindri's flush deck was always crowded with friends in the service, and we anchored outside the surf line in front of the Royal Hawaiian and Ala Moana Hotels for some great swimming.
The only anchor that came with the vessel was a 75-lb kedge Ö was it ever fun getting that over the side and back aboard! Since I didn't have an anchor windlass that worked and spare parts weren't available, we used a three-part halyard. The first 10 feet of the chain was half-inch; the next 100 feet was 3/8", and the rest was one-inch manila. Actually, I can't remember ever having to use the line.
Once that old kedge hit the bottom Ö no matter if it was rock, coral, sand or mud Ö it didn't budge. The chain never came up short Ö except once when there was a wind shift and a coral head got in the way. I also fastened a line to the anchor chain and led it aft to a cleat; this was to prevent 'sailing' and to have a more comfortable ride in any kind of swell. You could adjust for the best ride by how much chain was paid out after tying on a timber hitch.
Surplus soon became the magic word, and I was able to get a 35-lb Danforth Ö which worked well in the sand off the hotels. Along the line, I picked up a Northill folding stainless steel anchor such as had been used by the Mars flying boats; I found it to be the best anchor I ever used.
I was hired to skipper Harold Dillingham's Manuiwa Ö winner of the 1934 TransPac Race Ö to take a couple of New Yorkers around the Islands. I brought the Northill along with me. Another 'Norwegian steam windlass' and I were sure happy to have that Northill at the end of 40 feet of 3/8" chain hanging straight down rather than another kedge!
When we pulled into Kealakakua Bay Ö where Captain Cook met his demise Ö on the Big Island, we anchored with my trusty Northill in 40 feet of water off the old wharf at Napoopoo. A friend took us "up mauka" Ö toward the mountains Ö to the town of Captain Cook to get supplies. On our return, the normally gentle kona breeze, which blows onshore, started puffing a bit. It was up to about 20 knots, but coming at an angle and therefore not generating any swell, so I decided to stay put. Along about 2100 hours, it hauled around and was coming straight into the bay Ö and with a little more gusto! With a lee shore and a not too hefty a diesel Ö which turned the propeller
shaft by belts Ö I decided to ride it out. The disturbance passed in about four hours and we shut down. Gradually the bay calmed, and by sun-up we had a most beautiful clear morning Ö with a million happy sounding birds telling us all about it.
That Northill hadn't moved an inch, but in the process of getting it out of the sand, I did slightly bend the plates from the shaft to the fluke. I¹ve cruised a few thousand miles and used all different kinds and makes of anchors. In every instance when it looked like we needed the best, the old kedge came out of the lazarette. Nonetheless, what puzzles me the most is why the folding Northill is not at the top of the anchor list. Mine was quite a hook, and was still aboard and in use Ö and bent Ö in the mid-'50s when I sold Sindri.
P.S. I took a cruise down memory lane with this one and I'm sure you'll have to lay a big snipper to it if you use it. But I enjoyed bringing back some fun memories while trying to give you an anchor story.
Curtis A. 'Bud' Thompson
Curtis Ö We enjoyed the story very much, thank you.
Ö CALLING HOME
I just got back from sailing from San Diego to Cabo for the first time. One lesson I learned was the importance Ö and cost Ö of calling home. We didn't rush down the coast, taking 21 days while anchoring at 11 different spots. I can report that there's not much in the way of civilization Ö defined as telephones, banks or paved roads Ö between Ensenada and Cabo.
While in Mexico, I bought a prepaid Mexican phone card at the local farmacia. I couldn't figure out how to use the card to call the U.S., so I used the button marked 'Collect' Ö wondering how much is this going to cost. Later, I talked to the secretary at Baja Naval, which is a first-class boatyard. She told me to dial 001, then the area code and number. This method cost $1 per minute.
I also tried using my cell phone in Ensenada. I got an operator, but was told that U.S. Cellular was the only company with an agreement with Baja Cellular. My carrier is AT&T. I also found that my AOL long-distance calling card does not work for international calls. Maybe other phone companies have calling cards that work, but find out the codes before you leave.
When we arrived at Cedros village five days later, it was time to call home again. I found a little store advertising larga distancia telefono. It cost 14 pesos Ö about $1.40 U.S. Ö a minute. I wrote down my number, the señora dialed it, and directed me to an private indoor phone booth. Upon finishing my 13-minute call Ö yes, my wife was worried about me Ö the señora collected 180 pesos Ö about $18 U.S. Ö from me. Other towns we stopped at charged me 9 to 10 pesos a minute.
We were a couple of days late arriving in Cabo. My wife and I had talked about her flying down to meet me, but she hadn't heard directly from me in a week Ö I did call from Abreojos and left a message on her machine. Immediately upon arriving in the marina in Cabo, I saw a pay phone. Since I had neither cash nor another phone card, I called collect. I still didn't know if or when she was arriving. My wife said my call was perfect timing, because she was getting ready to cancel her plane tickets which were for the next day.
Well, I got the phone bill, that 17-minute collect call from Cabo cost $92.33 U.S. dollars. That's $5.43 a minute!
The moral of the story is, take a lot of pesos with you. Prepaid Mexican phone cards and calling from small stores were the cheapest way to go. I¹m ready to go to Baja again, but next time it will be with a trailerable boat in the Sea of Cortez with my wife.
Dawn Treader, Pearson 28
Paul Ö All the banditos in Mexico have thrown aside their pistols to cash in on the more lucrative international telephone racket. We've said a lot of justifiably nice things about Marina Paradise in Puerto Vallarta, but there Ö like a lot of places in Mexico Ö they can't or won't connect you with an AT&T operator. As a result, three-minute 'economy rate' calls Ö cough, cough Ö to the U.S. cost $21 each! So shop the telephone prices before you call.
Ö RULES FROM THE DARK AGES
In the December 1998 issue, you printed our letter in which we reported our dismasting off New Caledonia Ö and related experiences with insurance coverage. You asked for follow-up, so here it is:
We had been making a passage from Australia to New Caledonia in typical tradewind conditions, but as we approached New Caledonia, the winds turned easterly and we spent a couple of days tacking toward the reef entrance. Just before sundown, the mast quietly folded over to port at the spreaders. We set about securing the boat by bringing the headstay, genoa and furling gear aboard. We had heard no sounds or had any prior indication that anything was wrong.
In port, the damage was inspected by a surveyor and two professional riggers. They concluded that the failure was caused by the upper starboard shroud coming out of the spreader. The shroud is normally secured in a groove at the end of the spreader by stainless wire. The inspection found this wire had broken, which permitted the shroud to slip out of the groove.
In our last letter, we also mentioned that we had received no help nor money from the insurance company over several months. Eventually the insurance did make payment for most of the repairs Ö but it took seven months. Unfortunately for me, this payment did not cover many related costs. The largest of these was the cost of making funds available from investment accounts and the costs and losses incurred exchanging U.S. dollars to French Polynesian francs. I feel that having to accept the financial responsibility for the repair and the income tax liability for providing funds from investment accounts was the direct result of the insurance company's delay. In other claim experiences involving automobiles or houses, the insurance companies have acted quickly to assist in the repairs and most importantly made direct payments to the firms doing the work. If my marine insurance had acted in this fashion, I would have avoided many thousands of dollars of uninsured loss.
This experience has left me with the impression that marine insurers are operating under rules or procedures out of the Dark Ages and have little regard for the interests of the owners of yachts or small craft. I would be interested in working with anyone who could help correct what I see as inequities in the marine insurance industry.
Richard Ö Thanks for the report. While claimants rarely seem entirely satisfied with marine insurance settlements, we nonetheless think that our readers ought to realize there is another side to the coin. Specifically, we're convinced that marine insurance companies are often the victims of excessive repairs at inflated prices Ö to say nothing of outright fraud. Off the top of our heads, we can think of three West Coast sailboats over 50 feet that we're 100% convinced were scuttled. And all three owners collected. If everyone was honest and virtuous, we think insurance premiums would be half of what they are now Ö and that claims could be paid off immediately.
Ö THANKS FOR BEING THERE
In the early hours of February 12th, shortly after leaving the anchorage at Los Frailes, the sailboat Freelancer lost a crewmember overboard. Rough seas following a hefty Norther in the Sea of Cortez and darkness combined to make what might have been a relatively easy search and recovery into a near impossibility.
I became aware of the emergency upon waking and seeing running lights and activity in this otherwise quiet anchorage Ö which at the time only had six boats. I immediately went to the HF radio and my disorganized list of emergency frequencies. I failed to raise anyone on 8284.4 USB Ö even though it is one of the monitored frequencies and was even at that hour full of traffic. I did, however, get a prompt response to the distress call on 5750 USB Ö from the Mexican Navy in Puerto Vallarta!
Still unclear as to whether the mainland Navy base might be able to promptly muster a rescue that had to come out of either Cabo or La Paz, I went back to the dial and was greatly relieved to get Tim Tunks of Scallywag on the Sonrisa Ham Net Ö 3968 Ö prior to the net's start. Tunks immediately grasped the severity of the situation. Using his strong signal Ö and quick but reasoned consideration Ö he was able to relay almost everyone on the net in an attempt to raise every possible form of assistance. The Sonrisa Net then became the focal point of all our efforts at that hour, and most of the hams stuck around for subsequent developments throughout both that day and the following.
It's in critical situations such as this one that you get to fully appreciate the skills and commitment of the ham radio community Ö both in Mexico and stateside. I would particularly like to acknowledge Tim (PXN on Scallywag), John (AUS on Telitha), Mel (ML on Tea and Honey), Jim (AAW on Priority), Roy (2F, in Hemmet), Tim (GIT who manages the marina in Cabo San Lucas), Don (TVR in Los Barriles), and most especially our two phone relays in Tucson, Stef (7E) and Chuck (KU). Just about any time you turn on your radio you might hear any one of these hams helping out either with the more routine concerns of the community, or as unfortunately sometimes happens, the graver ones as well. My experience over those couple of days gave me a full appreciation for the expression I often hear on the radio: "Thanks for being there."
I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of the Mexican Navy, its two vessels on the scene, and particularly the search undertaken by the rescue helicopter RM 006. Also the Port Captaincy of La Paz, the bulk carrier Nita M, the shrimper Albino Lizardo, the sailing vessel Irish Rover, Ellie at Hotel Cabo Los Frailes, Pepe's dive shop in Cabo Pulmo, Captain Norm in San Blas, and last but not least, the panga fishermen at Los Frailes. There were others I am sure, who were in some measure involved, but I am mentioning only those with whom I was in direct contact.
Our feelings are with skipper Henrik Kristenson, and his wife Terese, and our deepest sympathy with Bonnie, the wife, children and entire family of the late David Tiglio.
Pema, Westsail 32
Ernest Ö There are two big things to learn from the tragedy. First, there are a lot of people and agencies willing to work like crazy to try to save lives. Second, no matter how hard people and agencies are willing to look, if you go overboard in poor weather or darkness, your chances of survival are not good. So remember, 'one super strong hand for you, and one for the boat'.
Ö TOO ROUGH FOR A CATALINA 27?
I recently bought a used Catalina 27 in San Diego and would like to sail and/or motor it up to San Francisco Bay. I've been sailing the Bay for many years, but have never stuck my headsail more than a mile or two outside the Gate. I've heard that it's a rough Ö perhaps too rough Ö trip for a Catalina 27, particularly between Monterey and San Francisco.
What do you think? Are there problem areas? What time of the year would be the safest? Any advice would be appreciated.
P.S. I've been reading Latitude for 18 years and it just keeps getting better. What a great source of information!
Home In Chico, Boat In San Diego
Al Ö As Frank Butler of Catalina will be the first to tell you, the Catalina 27 was primarily designed for trips from Southern California to Catalina, inside San Francisco Bay, and that kind of stuff. Nonetheless, we know at least one sailor from the Virgin Islands who took his Ö after some slight beefing up Ö around the world.
Assuming that the boat is in good structural condition and has a decent engine Ö preferably an inboard Ö it should be a doable trip. Whether or not it will be pleasant, however, depends entirely on the weather Ö particularly at two points.
Getting from San Diego to Point Conception shouldn't be too much of a problem, although you can get smacked around a little in the Santa Barbara Channel. The first real test will be at Point Conception, where a combination of unusually strong winds and large seas can make rounding the point very difficult. It's not uncommon for boats to wait days Ö even weeks Ö for a good weather window. The only nice thing about it is that Cojo, the anchorage just around the corner from Conception, is a great place to wait. Don't expect any stores or facilities there, however.
The second major test is getting around Point Sur, which seems like it can get just as nasty as Conception. The problem with Sur is that if you find you can't make it, you have to backtrack something like 50 miles before you reach shelter at San Simeon. Getting from Monterey to San Francisco will be as good or bad as the weather. You probably want to avoid Davenport in the late afternoon, however, and will want to be prepared for limited visibility off Montara, the fog capital of the universe.
The ideal time of year to make the passage would be in the fall when the winds are the lightest, or even in the winter when you can motor up between storms. Coming up the coast in spring and early summer can be difficult, because that's when the northwesterlies are the strongest and most consistent. No matter what time of year you make the trip, don't forget the warm clothes Ö including foulies, a hat, and gloves. And make sure your reefing system is ready for plenty of use. Most boats in San Diego are equipped with light air sails, so make sure you've got a small and bulletproof jib for the trip north.
The bottom line is how much time you can devote to the trip. If you have unlimited time, you can pick the weather and shouldn't have much trouble. If you're on a tight schedule, you may want to have the boat trucked north.
Ö A DRUGSTORE IN CABO
Several letters recently have touted Sturgeron as a drug for mal de mer. But it's not clear whether it's available in Mexico. A friend tried to find it for me at a drugstore in Cabo, but had no luck. Any suggestions?
Charlie Ö What fool told you that Cabo is in Mexico? Anyone who has been there can tell you it's in the state of mind of Mexifornia. So have your friend try to find Sturgeron in a real farmacia in a real Mexican town. But don't be shocked if he comes up short a couple of more times, as farmacias aren't like Rite-Aid or Walgreens where you can count on every item being in stock every day. Furthermore, the lack of pleasure sailors in Mexico keeps the demand for Sturgeron low. When Mexican marineros suffer from mal de mer, their cure is simple and cheap: suffer in silence until you get better or die.
Ö 100K, 200k, 300K...
For the last 15 years I've been reading magazines like Latitude and Cruising World in order to keep my dream alive, believing that one day I, too, would be able to set sail for tropical shores and wild adventures with you all. Well, I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and my time has almost come! In approximately 18 months I will be able to follow my dreams.
I need a little help, however. I have no sailing friends and I live in Missouri. During the next 18 months I must resolve some important issues, and I am hoping that you and your readers Ö whom I have lived vicariously through for years Ö would be willing to help. I have done much research on sailing boats, but many questions still remain. Here are just a few:
1) Which is better for world cruising, a monohull or catamaran?
2) Can a catamaran be a safe world cruiser?
3) How large of either type boat can a man singlehandedly sail over most of the world?
4) Realistically speaking can this boat be purchased for 100k, 200k, or 300k?
5) Which are the best schools that can train and prepare me for such an adventure? Is there one school or will I need to attend many that specialize in the various aspects of world cruising?
Forgive me if these questions seem simple, but I haven't been convinced by what I've read on these topics over the years. If you can, would you please print my email address so those who care can forward their personal input. Real people seem to often give the best information about the things they love. Thanks for everyone's time; I hope to meet you on the seas somewhere next year. Just remember, "Evil prospers when good men do nothing."
Willow Springs, Missouri
Stephen Ö There's no need to apologize for your questions, as they're all excellent ones. We'll take a stab at answering them, but have also printed your email address so you can receive input from others.
As we own both a monohull and a multihull, we're not about to say that either one is better for going around the world, just that they're different. You should try them both out and see which type suits your preferences. If space is a very important consideration, you might prefer a mulithull. If price is the major consideration, you might lean toward an older monohull.
We think there's plenty of evidence that multihulls can be safe world cruisers. Check out the earlier Letter about how the two catamarans fared in the Queen's Birthday Storm of '94. There's even a good record for older style Bay Area trimarans safely sailing around the world. The Sandstrom family, for example, did two circumnavigations with their 35-foot trimaran Anduril. Nonetheless, if we were going to spend most of our time sailing around Cape Horn or upwind in strong winds, our choice wouldn't be a small multihull.
There is no limit on the size monohull or multihull that can be singlehanded. Indeed, the determining factor is how the boat is rigged. For example, Profligate, Latitude's 63-ft catamaran charterboat, is the simplest boat to singlehand we've ever seen. This is because she has a huge main that is raised with an electric halyard, a minuscule self-tacking jib, and an enormous working surface that stays flat when reefing or performing other maneuvers. Our former charterboat, the Ocean 71 Big O, was much more difficult to singlehand as she had twice as many working sails, a big headsail, no electric winches, and weighed three times as much. But there's no reason that a properly rigged and outfitted 71-foot monohull can't be simple to singlehand.
No, you cannot buy the largest monohull or multihull you can singlehand around the world for less than $300,000 Ö because you'd be talking about an enormous boat. Remember when the original 236-foot Club Mediterranee was raced singlehanded across the Atlantic? But forget the 'largest' nonsense and start being more realistic. If you're looking for a typical cruising monohull between 32 and 50 feet, you can find lots of good used ones for between $35,000 and $150,000. Depending on how new, how fast, and how luxurious, you could also spend close to a million.
Multihulls are a little different, as there are a lot fewer of them, and there's something of a division between what might be called the older style trimarans such as Pivers and SeaRunners, and newer catamarans made by companies such as Lagoon, Kennex, Catana, and Privilege. The quality and price of the older trimarans varies dramatically. The more modern catamarans Ö because they are all relatively new and were mostly fitted out to appeal to charter groups Ö don't come cheap. You can find smaller ones for less than $300,000, but the larger ones are going to cost that or more. Two other things to keep in mind about multihulls: 1) Most experts feel that to be reasonably safe on the ocean, you generally need a somewhat larger multihull than monohull. Say at least 35 to 45 feet Ö as opposed to 27 to 30 feet for monohulls. The Catana 39 at Sail Expo, for what it's worth, was sailed here from France. 2) Catamarans are very weight sensitive, so if you're planning on loading your boat down, think about a monohull.
If your primary goal is to sail around the world and you've got $100,000, you've got plenty of money for a very reasonable cruising boat Ö as well as three years of cruising expenses. This isn't to say you can't spend more, because you certainly can.
We recommend learning to sail at a sailing school, then consider some offshore schooling.
Ö TOUGH LIFE!
We have to tell you that Latitude is primarily responsible for us being on our cruising adventure. I worked in Saudi Arabia for 20 years as an engineer, and during the last five of those years my daughter in Mississippi would forward copies of your magazine to us in Arabia. They were well-read.
There are three active yacht clubs on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, where on a good day we could get 20 boats on the starting line. I wore out five Hobie Cats sailing off the beach there. During the last captive years, waiting for retirement, I contracted a bad case of wanderlust from reading Latitudes. Retirement is possible at 50 years of age in Arabia and mandatory at 60. I made it to 57 in '95, at which point I retired. We immediately flew to San Diego, hopped aboard our new Corsair F-31 trimaran Noor, and cruised Southern California for three months before moving into our house in Folsom. Besides cruising the Bay, the Delta and Lake Tahoe, we made two trips to Mexico and one to Desolation Sound in Canada with the F-31. She was a great speedy coastal cruiser, but you need a pilot's license in winds over 20 knots. And crossing oceans requires a larger and more comfortable boat.
After my first mate ruled out larger trimarans, we started checking out catamarans. We wanted a cat that would sail well and be comfortable and safe for ocean passages. The Catanas, in our estimation, were the lightest, fastest, and strongest of the bunch. We liked that they have belowdeck rod steering rather than hydraulics, and that the boat can sit on her rudders. The Catanas also have retractable daggerboards that provide both good windward performance and allow for shallow draft. After seeing the boats at the boat show, we knew we wanted a Catana Ö but they are expensive. While we were in La Paz after doing the '98 Ha-Ha, David Renouf of Yachtfinders in San Diego called to say he had located a used 44 in France. So off we went to inspect and buy her Ö as reported in last month's Changes.
Our boat Chesapeake, named by the French owner, is a used '93 version that was chartered out of San Tropez. The boat was a little bigger than we needed, but the currency exchange was good at the time. The sailing conditions around San Tropez are usually light, so the boat was in good shape. The 43- hp Volvo turbodiesels engines were shot, however. Turbodiesels are not recommended for sailboats that spend a lot of time motoring at low RPM's. Our purchase deal included new 40 hp diesels, a new mainsail, and new upholstery. We then took the boat to the Catana factory, where it was fitted with a new 16-mile radar, a 75-amp battery charger, an SSB radio, and a belowdeck Autohelm 6000 autopilot. It had an older 3000 autopilot, but we wanted a stronger unit for crossing oceans. We also converted one head to a workroom and one berth to an office/library. We also had a seperate shower installed, so that the starboard hull is used exclusively by the captain and first mate, while the port hull Ö with two double cabins, one single and two heads Ö is reserved for guests.
Performance? At 17,000 pounds, our boat is heavier and therefore slower than the new Catana 44s which weigh almost a ton less. But we have heavier bulkhead construction. In 15 knots of wind on a reach, we sail at eight knots; in 20 knots we sail at 10 knots. When we start sailing over 12 knots, I throttle back Ö to keep the first mate from throttling me. For example, we sailed on a close reach from St. Vincent to St. Lucia in a solid 30 knots of wind with a double-reefed main and a genoa, and were leaping off waves at 12 to 14 knots. My wife asked if I wanted her to get into the trapeze and hang over the side as in our old Hobie racing days! Another time we sailed 50 miles from Guadeloupe to Antigua in 20 to 22 knots of wind and lumpy seas, and never dropped below 10 knots. It wasn't really fast, but it was fast enough to pass the average boat.
We drop the board only when beating in light to medium winds. In over 10 knots of boatspeed, we raise the boards. In large following seas Ö such as those encountered crossing the Atlantic Ö we lower the boards at least half way to keep the boat tracking in a straight line and to make life easier for the autopilot. Chesapeake has a large clearance between the bridgedeck and water, so she doesn't pound much on a reach. In big following seas in the Atlantic with winds over 20 knots, however, the waves would smack the flat underside of the bridgedeck with such force that your coffee cup would jump 2 inches! It was difficult to sleep in the mid-cabin on those occasions, but the aft cabin wasn't so bad.
We have been fortunate to not have been out in any gales or really tough conditions. We caught a few short squalls, and one that lasted 24 hours with winds of 40 knots Ö but we were near a harbor where we anchored with all 200+ ft of chain and joggled about a bit through the night. Even though I prefer rope, we use an all-chain rode because it's easier for just the two of us to handle with the electric windlass. We anchor with a long adjustable rode bridle attached to the chain and either the 65-lb plough or the 60-lb Brittany anchor. I let out the chain, attach the bridal, then let out a bunch more chain. This additional chain between the bridal and the boat helps hold the whole mess closer to the bottom.
We raise the sails and do all reefing from the cockpit using our electric winch. Tough life for us cruisers!
Our tentative plans are to head north as far as Maine for the summer, then to Cuba, Belize, Guatemala, Panama Canal, Costa Rica, and Mexico before heading to San Francisco by summer 2000. I am very concerned that once we pass through the Panama Canal the party is over! I'm not at all sure how we get north in the Pacific; maybe we'll have to buy a flat jib to replace our genoa.
Marvin & Ruth Stark
Catana 44 Catamaran, Chesapeake
Antigua, West Indies
Ö ONLY SO MANY FEET
This has got to stop! I only have so many feet of bookshelf, and I'm running out of room for my collection of Latitudes. These Sears catalog-sized issues are eating up space so quickly that I may have to cancel Wooden Boat. By the way, thanks for the kind words about the Singlehanded Sailing Society in your Idiot's Guide to strange letter combinations.
Pat Ö We want to once again thank our readers and advertisers for your continued support, because as big as the recent issues have been, there's even more great sailing stuff we haven't had room to print.
Ö BIG BOAT ON A SMALL LAKE
Way kool Ö I¹ve finally gotten a reason to write to y¹all! You kept my sailing dream alive for a lot of years and I¹ve always thought if I had the chance, I¹d thank you. So thanks for the really swell mag and all the great lost days of reading all these years.
I finally bought this really neat boat, a C&C Landfall 38. I have to confess, I'd have bought any boat. I got lucky, though, because my wife liked the galley, and the boat turned out to be fast and quick and fun to sail. My dad and I drove her up the Intracoastal Waterway from Melbourne, Florida, to the Chesapeake. My wife and I lived aboard there for a while at Piney Narrows Marina on the eastern shore at Kent Narrows. It was great.
When we brought the boat north, we'd had the usual ICW experience: running aground. We spent time on the sand in Florida, on the black marl in the Carolinas, and in the oyster shells in the Chesapeake. I figured I was an expert on running aground, as I had paid the robbers in tow boats, begged tows from passing boats, had passed lines around trees and winched off Ö the whole ball of wax.
The time came when we finally had to move back to Tennessee, so I had the Landfall delivered on a trailer to Cherokee Lake here in Tennessee Valley Authority land. At last, I thought, some water I know! I¹d sailed my old MacGregor 25 all over this pond, had weathered its thunderstorms Ö surf over two feet high! Ö and had dropped the hook in a hundred of its gunkholes. But sure enough, we hadn't been sailing but a few weeks when I found a bar of southern red clay! Let me tell you, when that stuff grabs a-hold of your keel, you¹ve found a place to stay for a while. The good part is that the ol' boy who runs my boat dock pulled me off the next day for just 20 bucks! There's a few things to like about inland sailing.
All this has artfully brought me around to my question Ö as you know, Southerners can't be direct about anything. Here's what I want to know: The only diesel I¹ve been able to find is from interstate gas stations. Obviously it's refined for trucks. My 30 hp Yanmar diesel seems to run just fine on it, but I'm wondering if I'm shortening its already well-worn life by burning truck diesel. And, are there any additives that I should know about?
P.S. There's a restaurant and bed & breakfast in Oxford, Maryland, that's also named Latitude 38.
Johnson City, Tennessee
John Ö Tom List, a Yanmar dealer in Sausalito has some answers for you:
"There is nothing in truck diesel that would harm your Yanmar. Truck and boat diesel is the same formulation, but governments don't want it interchanged because of different tax structures. Fuel docks can't sell diesel in cans, for example, as it's often cheaper because no road taxes have to be added in.
"I can't give a good answer about fuel additives in Tennessee because I'm not familiar with the climate there. On the West Coast, we recommend a biocide. What happens is that if there's any water in a diesel tank Ö and there is usually a thimble full or so in most tanks Ö the water lies flat at the bottom. The water gives off oxygen, but the oxygen can't penetrate the diesel to come to the top. As a result, there's a little biosphere between the water on the bottom and the diesel on the top, a biosphere in which a small organism can grow. When these organism proliferate and die, they create coffee-ground-like sludge in the fuel and clog the filters. Any common biocide Ö Bio-Bor is one brand name Ö should eliminate this problem."
Ö ORBCOMM BY MAGELLAN, ON THE SURFACE
After reaching escape velocity in March of 1997, we spent the last year cruising through the South Pacific. We were one of the boats that arrived in New Zealand's Bay of Islands in November during the so-called 'Nightmare Off New Zealand'.
Anyway, on a subsequent trip back to the States, I picked up a new toy that Magellan introduced, the GSC 100. For readers not familiar with the product, it's a handheld device which uses a built-in GPS to locate and communicate with the Orbcomm system of satellites in low orbit. On the surface, it seemed like the ideal solution for the cruising sailor Ö a relatively low-cost Ö about $1,000 Ö stand-alone unit which uses the Internet to send and receive messages worldwide. It was my hope that I could use it to send and receive email while sailing through the South Pacific in the upcoming season.
A perfect solution. Well, not exactly. It was only after I received the unit and started playing with it in New Zealand Ö in international waters, of course Ö that I discovered some substantial shortcomings when the unit is used outside of the U.S. or beyond 3,000 miles of the few land-based stations that service the satellite network.
The system operates in two modes: 'Standard' and 'Store and Forward'. In the Standard mode, the unit uses the orbiting satellites only as a means to relay messages to the designated land sites. In this mode, the system performs pretty much as advertised. For 30 bucks a month you can send/receive 10 messages Ö up to 500 characters Ö and perform 30 message checks. That's not bad.
However, when the satellite must be relied upon to 'store and forward' messages, the system doesn't work anywhere near as well. Unfortunately, messages have to be stored and forwarded in the South Pacific, including New Zealand and Australia. Here's the problem with Magellan's 'store and forward' system: 1) The message length has to be reduced from 2,000 to 229 characters. Not words, but characters! 2) The messages can only be sent to eight preselected email addresses! 3) This is perhaps the worst of all: messages that are sent to you can only be retrieved from the sole satellite Ö one of about 28 Ö to which they were sent. Educating your friends on the intricacies of properly addressing email to a particular satellite is only the beginning; the fun really starts when you try to check your messages.
While the unit is capable of producing a schedule which shows when your particular satellite will pass by, organizing your day around the few minutes when your particular satellite is overhead is a major drag. If you do manage to be outside and ready at the magical moment, most of the time there is more than one satellite 'visible', and the unit never seems to be able to lock on to your satellite until it's too low on the horizon to be of any use. When your reward for persistence and a successful interception after numerous attempts is 'mail box empty', it only increases the frustration of the daily ritual. Furthermore, uncollected messages are deleted after just one week.
There are several possible fixes but it remains to be seen if Magellan is willing to make them to accommodate the cruising sailor. For example, since the unit already has a limited polling feature, it would seem that it wouldn't be too complicated to modify the software to make it possible to automatically poll a particular satellite. At least you could then leave your unit pointing at the sky, unattended, while you continued with your life.
The good news is that when all of my other GPS receivers on the boat fail in August or January, I will have at least one that is hopefully immune and can guide me on my way. Maybe I should be content with that and stop worrying about what eight of my friends are doing back home.
P.S. Our Norseman 447 used to be Steve Dinger's Milpitas-based Tivoli. She appeared in Latitude a few years ago while on a Mexican voyage.
Shakti, Norseman 447
Marina del Rey
Thane Ö Thanks for that report. It's our understanding that Magellan is about to eliminate another problem Ö having to use the ultra tiny keyboard Ö by allowing you to keyboard the message on a computer and then send it through the GPC 100. As such, it will make the system more attractive to consumers Ö who until your letter, might not have been aware of the shortcomings.
If you want to look on the bright side of things, at least you didn't buy a $3,000 Iridium global cell phone. The reports we've heard are the calls often don't go through or are dropped, and when they do go through have poor audio quality. In addition, the offshore rates are close to $7 a minute. Check on this month's Changes for a favorable report from Saga on the MiniM satellite telephone.
Ö I DECIDED TO SAY A PRAYER AND CONTINUE
This is the story of our Doublehanded Farallones Race aboard the J/105 20/20 on March 27:
Ten minutes before the start we raised the main to find that the traveller had not been strung properly when a new line was installed. Since there was no time to change the line, we had to live with a traveller we couldn't lock. I got a late start Ö blamed it on my preoccupation with the traveller Ö and headed for the South Tower. After going under the Golden Gate, the wind died and the lighter boats with bigger jibs pulled away from us. Fortunately the cold, northwesterly filled in and we improved our position by being one of the more northerly boats.
As the wind continued to increase, we started passing the Olson 30s to windward. As we passed the Lightbucket to the south, the wind was up to 26 knots and the waves were eight feet high. The traveler didn't prove to be a problem since we wanted it all the way down anyway.
With only two boats to the north of us, we worked and drove the boat to windward through the waves. Combs of spray Ö a mixture of cold air and cold water Ö crashed over our boat. When the wind increased to 30 knots, I told my crew Rick Hughes to reef the main. He told me he didn't feel well Ö and proved it by barfing over the side. He was unable to move and reported that he was seeing black. I immediately thought about turning back, but then I remembered something that Mark Rudiger had said: "Heading home is not always the safest way to go." The waves look bigger behind 20/20 than in front, so I said a prayer and decided to continue the race.
With a flagging mainsail, the J/105 was able to drive through the waves at 6.5 knots and become the most northerly boat. It looked as if we might have been overstanding the Farallones, but my instincts and GPS told me to keep climbing to the north.
As we approached the Farallones, we cracked the jib off a few inches and got up to 7.2 knots. The other boats had to tack to port to make the island, so we made a lot of ground. We were a lot closer clearing the island than I thought we'd be, but we made it.
Once behind the Farallones, the waves were large and confused. Later a trimaran capsized and only through the skill of two other racers was her crew saved. We jibed and headed down a large wave Ö 18.2 knots. Forget the spinnaker for now! Rick felt better so I had him drive. We decided to go north again, and maintained a speed of 12.5 to 16 knots under main and jib alone. Occasionally the bow dug in on the big waves.
The wind shifted to the west as we sailed beneath the Gate, so I asked Rick to hook up the chute. He reported that he was too sick to go below. So I got the chute and hooked it up, and then Rick set it. We only saw one boat ahead of us. After we crossed the finish line, we called our wives to tell them that our only hope was that the Moore 24s made it.
The Division 1 results were: Javelin in first, correcting out at 8:14:01. Our 20/20 was second, corrected out at 8:14:03. Off the pace by two seconds Ö we'll be back next year!
Ö A NASTY SET OF TEETH
I'm writing in response to the article on halibut fishing by George Clyde. Anyone who plans on fishing for halibut should be aware of an error in the article: it is not legal to use a gaff on a halibut Ö or any fish for which there is a size limit. A couple of other points:
1) You must wear your fishing license.
2) You must have a net onboard.
3) If you catch a striped bass, you must return it unless you have an optional striped bass stamp on your license.
4) If you catch a salmon, and the hook is not the legal type, you must return it.
5) Halibut can be dangerous when landed, as they are strong and have a nasty set of teeth. So handle them with care.
And finally, halibut grow to more than 48 inches, not the 36 inches as reported in the article.
Don Ö Thanks for those clarifications and corrections. The truth is that we hardly know anything about fishing Ö even though we probably eat more sushi than 99% of the population.
Ö SAN FRANCISCO TO SEATTLE RACE
We're attempting to find out some information on the San Francisco to Seattle yacht race that took place in about 1980. Four or five of the participating yachts were lost to weather off the Oregon coast.
Can you confirm the losses or direct us to a source for more information? Any help will be appreciated, since my brother-in-law's father was the builder of Taihoa, one of the boats in the race.
Ron Ö We'd be thunderstruck if there ever was a race Ö let alone a tragic one Ö from San Francisco to Seattle. We know for sure there was no such thing in the '70s, '80s, or '90s.
Ö HOBIE 33 TO HAWAII
Former Singlehanded TransPac record-holder Bill Stange wrote in asking whether a Hobie 33 would be a great boat to shorthand to Hawaii. Having doublehanded a Hobie 33 to Hawaii in the '86 Pacific Cup, my opinion is that it would be a great design to singlehand or doublehand to the Islands.
A Hobie would be much more fun than the Olson 30 Stange last raced to Hawaii, as it's more easily sailed by one person through those 30+ knot squalls in the wee hours. It would also be faster. I guesstimate that Stange would have knocked 12 hours off his record with a Hobie 33. In addition, he wouldn't have had to endure the roundups, rounddowns and sub-marining that Olsons are sometimes prone to.
For an experienced shorthanded sailor with a well-prepared Hobie and reasonable wind conditions, I think it would be a 10-day passage. Doublehanders with a 33 could make the other ULDBs sweat. The only boat Stange would have to worry about correcting out first is a Moore 24.
As for Stange's other questions: the rudder is solid, although the tiller to rudder stock connection needs beefing up. The keel is fine Ö ours was a lifting model. Be sure to toss out the stock halyard set-up; we broke every halyard. Replacing the main halyard on a fractionally rigged boat at sea using the toy winches on a Hobie isn't the most fun thing to do.
I hope Stange goes for it!
Readers Ö Jim Quanci and Frank 'Noodles' Ansak sailed the Moore 24 Team Bonzi to overall honors in the 1992 West Marine Pacific Cup.
Ö DISABLED SAILING
I used to be an avid sailor, but became disabled 8.5 years ago and have had to give up my true love. But I was recently talking to this gal about sailing and she told me there is a singles club based out of the Oakland YC. In any event, she's rekindled my love for it . . . sailing, that is. I'm not sure my back can handle it, though.
She also told me that Latitude had run items about disabled sailing. Is this true? Although I use a wheelchair for long distances, I can walk short distances with the aid of two canes. Is that enough to get on board? I should think so.
Bob Ö The experts in this field are the fine folks at BAADS, the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors. Contact them at (415) 281-0212.
Ö GEORGE WAYLAND
I'm soliciting the help of Latitude readers in obtaining biographical information on the Bay Area navel architect George H. Wayland, who practiced his profession in San Francisco from the early '20s until some time after World War II.
Wayland designed such well-remembered sailboats as Lady Jo, Altair, Volante, Barbara, Chinook, Tamalmar, Alotola (ex-Water Wagon), Minerva, Rejoice, Teaser, Cynjo, Suds, and the Golden Gate class. He also designed handsome power cruisers such as Graemar, Skeeter, and Marquita Ö all in the 50-foot range. Wayland's boats were built by all the well-known Bay Area yards, including Stone, Stephens Brothers, Madden and Lewis, Nunes Brothers, Anderson and Cristofani, Geo. Kneass, and United Ship Repair Ö to name some of the more celebrated.
Wayland is well represented by these boats, but unfortunately his personal history seems to have faded into the background. In order to secure his place in the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers, some biographical detail is required, including birthplace (we think Seattle around 1885); where educated (possibly the University of Washington); and when he died (believed to be around 1950). We know that Wayland came to the Bay Area in the early '20s in the employ of Lee & Brinton, Inc., naval architects with offices in Seattle and San Francisco. He soon became a partner in the San Francisco office, which lasted until he went on his own in 1927 to specialize in sailboat design.
Any sources of information on this gentleman would be most appreciated and put to good use.
33956 Cape Cove
Dana Point, CA 92629
Ö 12'S AND 14s WITH ONLY THE JIB
Take gale warnings seriously!
April 3rd was our day to return Absolute 88, a Wylie 39, to Santa Cruz from San Francisco. I was expecting a windy day, but was surprised when the National Weather Service called for gale warnings Ö 35 to 45 knots Ö north of Pigeon Point, and Small Craft Warnings Ö 25 to 35 knots Ö on to Santa Cruz. We went anyway.
We started out motorsailing with the full main in a westerly of maybe 25 knots. Shortly thereafter we reefed the main. After tacking a few times to get under the bridge at 0800, we proceeded along the main shipping channel. It was windy, but we were in full control.
Upon reaching the second channel buoy at 0930, we turned left, eased the main, turned off the engine Ö and started surfing, doing 8s, 10s, and 12s! A half hour later, we put up the #4 and lowered and furled the main. Fred Molnar, our mastman, had a very difficult time getting the main down, but finally managed to get it down. It was a good thing he did, because even with the reefed main we were beginning to get overpowered. With just the #4, we were again in full control.
The apparent wind was reading 30 to 35 knots and the boat was averaging 10 knots. The seas continued to build, and there were lots of whitecaps with some breakers. Absolute 88 just went from one wave to the next. At noon we were off Half Moon Bay and the GPS was estimating that we'd be off Pigeon Point Ö a distance of 20 miles Ö in just 90 minutes.
Darin Dillehay then reported seeing an apparent wind reading of 45 knots Ö with just the #4 we were doing 10 knots and hitting 12s and 14s! I began to wish that we had an even smaller jib. Our only option for further reducing sail was to drop the jib and motor. But we had a sailboat and were still doing well. It was a great time Ö so far. Mike Stimson, who had been sitting on the rail, was getting a heavy shower every time we took off on a wave. He moved to the transom in an effort to dry out.
Somewhere between Pigeon and Año Nuevo we caught a very large wave and I drove right down the face. The bow dropped down to a 45º angle and plunged into the trough. As it lifted, a three-foot high wall of water washed down the deck and filled the cockpit full. Thank goodness for the raised entry into the cabin and oversize cockpit drains! Mark Langer grabbed our waste bucket and bailed. After about three minutes, the cockpit had emptied.
Brandon Burke then said he saw a 19 on the knotmeter, and as by then we had no choice but to continue, we did. Even though the wind began to moderate, we kept the main furled. Frankly, it was kind of nice to only be going seven or eight knots. Although cold and wet, it was rewarding to enter Santa Cruz Harbor at 1600. The worst part of the trip was that we never had time for lunch.
I want to give Tom Wylie credit for designing a boat that knew what she wanted to do and where she wanted to go. She was always under control and recovered beautifully from the one particularly large wave. The boat even knew we wanted to get to Santa Cruz in a hurry, and gave us an all-time thrill.
Keith Ö We're glad you guys had a great ride, but hope you don't make a habit of starting deliveries when the weather service is calling for a gale.
Ö HE WAS FINE; HE HAD CLAWS
When I lived aboard and cruised in the '70s, we always had a cat on our wooden sailboats. The best cat was Mañana, a gray tabby which we got as a kitten from a restaurant in La Paz. He rounded Point Conception seven times.
We had a harness for when Mañana was on deck, but once when we were beating up the coast in the normally awful conditions, there was a call from below: "Where's Mañana?" I lifted my eyes from the compass to see him merrily riding the cathead. He was fine because he had claws. I can't imagine declawing any cat.
With Mañana and a large Siamese afterwards, we never had a problem with them clawing anything Ö even on the fancy yachts we delivered. But when my little housecat recently started attacking the couch, I went for beach driftwood and set up a two-foot tall cedar scratch-post in the living room. It solved the problem. It could work on a boat, too.
But even when cats have claws, they can sometimes fall overboard Ö even in calm anchorages. So make sure there's something hanging down they can use to climb back aboard.
Funny story. Two years after picking up Mañana, we sailed back to La Paz thinking we might get a free meal if we took the cat back to visit the restaurant. Alas, we were shunned by the owners Ö who thought we were trying to give him back.
Friday Harbor, WA
Ö TO BED WITHOUT LUNCH OR DINNER
The February article by John Bousa, Extreme Daysail Ö Into The Danger Zone, about a wild daysail on a maxi performance catamaran in Southern California, was correct in most details but not all. I know this because I was aboard.
I had dressed for a nice Southern California winter daysail, but ended up nearly shivering to extinction Ö until I was surrounded by a bear hug inside another crewmember's great coat. I was the first to suggest to the owner/skipper that we had only another 90 minutes of daylight and ought to turn back as he wasn't learning all that much about his reachers anyway. I repeated my admonition about the rapidly disappearing daylight and offshore course a half hour later. The owner/skipper waited yet another 15 minutes before finally heeding my advice.
After the problems with reefing the main (there was no line led for the third reef), the engine's prop catching on a trailing line and killing the engine, and not being able to tack while heading toward shore at 12 knots because of the flopping main Bousha described so well, I think I was the first to suggest that going to Long Beach was the only viable alternative. Bousha suggested going into a bay in the inner Los Angeles Harbor, but nobody was sure of the depth of the water or if there were obstructions we might hit.
In any case, my advice was taken because I pointed out that: 1) Sailing that far would give us time to make a third jury reef in the main; 2) That it was unlikely that the furious 30-knot northwesterly could survive going around three headlands and 110º to the east; 3) That it would allow us to slow down enough to unshackle the engine's lower unit from its trailing line; and finally 4) That as Long Beach was my home port, if I were permitted to drive, I knew I could cozy up to Long Beach YC's long dock Ö which faces north Ö heading west, and do it with ease even under sail.
By the way, the gybe to go south was not done at 25 knots, but at 32.6 knots Ö and was truly breathtaking! I took over driving under power at about Pt. Vicente, after we had freed the engine prop. I then drove us, as I had predicted, without incident the final 20 miles through the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors into Alamitos Bay and up to the Long Beach YC's long dock. We left the big cat there and hired two Super Shuttles to take us back to Marina del Rey and our cars. I then drove the 30 miles back to Long Beach and went to bed at midnight, having eaten neither lunch nor dinner.
Dr. A. Victor Stern
Ö THE CIGAR OVER THE FIRECRACKERS
Since I moved here in 1980 and got into the sailing community with my Cheoy Lee Offshore 41, I have always enjoyed Latitude. But I was disturbed by the photograph that appeared on page 229 of the March issue, the one showing a John Beatty working on a 'firecracker package' in what appears to be the closed space of a boat, and with a young lady bending over his shoulder to check out his work. Beatty, who has a bandana on his head and a buccaneer twinkle in his eye, appears to be the rogue-ish type. The young lady seems to be of a similar nature.
On closer examination of the photograph, Beatty appears to have a lighted cigar Ö of all things Ö directly over the firecracker package. Is this a safe way to have fun? While the cigar may not have been burning, the photo suggests otherwise. Whether the package was ultimately lit overboard or through the carelessness of Mr. Beatty inside the boat, I don't think it was a good way to demonstrate 'having fun while being careful'.
There are many places in this country where the use of fireworks by individuals is prohibited. It is because of the actions of inattentive people Ö such as shown in the photo Ö that has made it an illegal activity. It also makes it an activity of questionable sense.
While living and working in Third World countries, it was my observation that explosives of any kind were strictly prohibited. Using explosives in Cuba or the Dominican Republic would, I'm almost certain, be against the laws of those countries. To have Americans engage in such 'careful fun' in those countries would be most definitely frowned upon by local authorities. Rapid discharge of a string of firecrackers Ö such as shown in the photo Ö could suggest machine gun fire to the uninitiated in a Third World Country, and thereby cause unnecessary stress Ö not to mention the possible loss of freedom by the person responsible or the fireworks.
So in the future, please review your articles more closely to make sure they are not showing the impressionable boating community activities that could be thought of as safe. Some of us are easily influenced and follow your advice very closely. Most of your articles, advice, and opinions are extremely useful.
Ross Ö Sure the photograph was slightly incendiary, but we think the main problem is that you've made several enormously false assumptions:
1) No, the cigar was not lit. You think we're nuts? (When the time is right, however, cigars make ideal igniting devices because they have no flame.)
2) The 'package' was not being assembled in an enclosed place Ö you think we're nuts? Ö but rather in the wide open spaces of Big O's cockpit.
3) Common firecrackers Ö and much more powerful explosives Ö are widely available throughout the Caribbean. The firecrackers in the photograph, for example, were purchased on the main street in Gustavia, St. Barths, from a small store where boxes of them were stacked to the ceiling and where Ö yikes Ö all the employees smoked and flicked their ashes on the floor! A wide variety of other fireworks for children of all ages were available at the stationary store, the newsstand and other places. They were cheap, too. We spent $40 on firecrackers, rockets, and other mischief makers, and despite three hours of tireless work by six people on New Year's Eve, still couldn't go through them all. The ones in the photograph were leftovers.
When we bought the fireworks, we were careful to ask if there were any restrictions. A local airline pilot Ö who happened to be in the store loading up for himself Ö replied, "Well, you're not permitted to shoot the rockets directly at people, houses or boats. You know, just don't be stupid." As any adventurous person who has ever been outside of the United States can tell you, one of the great pleasures is not having 'mother government' regulate your every activity. It's also like sailing in two important aspects: you're responsible for your own pleasure Ö and safety. We have every confidence that our readers Ö who do all kinds of semi-dangerous things and handle all kinds of toxic and explosive substances in the process of everyday sailing Ö have enough common sense to know this.
4) While we're sure that setting off the firecrackers would have been a real crowd-pleaser in the D.R., we're careful Ö which is why we had our fun in the Windward Passage halfway between Haiti and Cuba.
Your most accurate assumption is that John Beatty is a bit of a rogue Ö which is why he has so many friends. As for the "young woman", why that's Doña de Mallorca, who when not doing quality control on firecracker packages, is really safe as milk.
But just in case we've got any lemmings or easily brain-washed people in our readership, let's make this clear: Firecrackers are like boats; if you mess around with them but don't know what you're doing, you could get hurt Ö or killed. So be careful out there.
Ö A SHARP WAY TO HANDLE EMAIL AND FAXES
My husband and I are on an extended cruise, and keeping up with family, friends and lawyers has been a hassle. We have been told we need a PC to keep up. But we think the last thing you need while cruising is another electronic gadget that is useless 90% of the time.
We have been liveaboards at Nautical Landings Marina in Port Lavaca, Texas, and we are always getting junk mail Ö which normally ended up in the round file. But one time the junk mail cloud turned out to have a silver lining, as it advertised a product that caught our attention. As a result, we are now the proud owners of a Sharp TM 20 pocket emailer, which allows us to send and receive email and faxes without a PC. Even the most computer illiterate captain can use this baby! No wires to hook up to the phone, works on most cell phones, toll free number, unlimited usage in the U.S., and access through the server for overseas calls. It's slightly larger than a checkbook and runs on AA batteries.
P.S. Being Texas Gulf coast sailors, we fell in lust with your mag while crewing out of San Diego. Thank God for West Marine, as they now have copies here in Texas.
Jim & Leslie Bouldin
Port Lavaca, Texas
Ö NOW YOU'VE DONE IT
First, let me compliment you on your mag, as it's the only West Coast publication I know of that keeps such tabs on our cruising friends. That being said, you must know that after a tragic incident such as the one involving the ship Direct Kookaburra! and the Tayana 37 Salacia during the 'New Zealand Nightmare', there follows an extensive investigation. Whether from emotional trauma and/or other reasons, Mike Fritz, the owner of Salacia, apparently has chosen to wait for the final report before going public.
What finally lit my battle lanterns Ö after reading three months of rumors, innuendo and second-guessing Ö was your comparison Ö in any context Ö between my friend Mike Fritz and that doubletalker in the White House in Washington, D.C. It's more than I can bear! Mike is a fine person and a fine sailor. He was sailing one of the best prepared boats for bluewater cruising that I've ever seen. In the time since he left San Diego, he has sailed singlehanded through more storms and gales than I would care to see. And his boat was built like a tank. Anyone would feel comfortable with Mike as captain or crew. I hope your readers will cut him a little slack until you hear from him.
Tenancity, Tayana 37
Loren Ö We're sorry you don't like the analogy; unfortunately, it applies. It's nearly impossible to believe that Clinton didn't have sex with Monica because of his sperm all over her dress. Similarly, it's hard to believe Fritz's claim that Salacia didn't want or need to be rescued because there are official records of the boat's call for help. Fritz's contradiction with what seems like the obvious facts is what lead most cruisers Latitude talked to say that his explanation "doesn't add up".
And given the circumstances, we think we've been fair to Fritz Ö and even cut him some slack. For example, we were the ones who suggested that Ö however unlikely Ö it's possible that Julie Black issued the mayday without Fritz's knowledge. Heck, we were only trying to put the best possible light on his claim.
Further, immediately following the tragedy, the cruisers we talked with in New Zealand had an empathic 'there but for the grace of God go we' attitude toward Fritz Ö and therefore were hesitant to be quoted as saying anything negative about him or Salacia. Nonetheless, one source told us he regretfully had to describe Salacia as "an accident waiting to happen". Another characterized the boat as being in "so-so" condition. In both cases, the problems mentioned weren't with the basic boat, but with the way she was outfitted and maintained.
You describe Salacia as "one of the best equipped boats for bluewater cruising" you've ever seen. However, it's our understanding that she didn't have an EPIRB, liferaft, SSB radio, or functioning back-up VHF radio. While none of these items are required by law, the majority of cruising boats making the often difficult Tonga/Fiji to New Zealand passage carry most or all of this gear. Indeed, if Salacia had a functioning back-up VHF, the 'unwanted' rescue attempt that ended with Black's death would have never been attempted. We don't think it would be accurate to describe Salacia as "well-equipped" Ö either objectively for a challenging ocean passage, or relative to the other boats that made the same crossing.
Finally, we also feel that we cut Fritz some slack by not immediately mentioning a significant maintenance issue. A reliable Latitude source tells us that prior to leaving Tonga for New Zealand, Salacia was unable to motor with any speed because of a broken engine mount. And that the skipper of an American cruising yacht not only offered the replacement part to Salacia, but to help install it. Both offers were reportedly declined, although we don't know why. As a result of the engine problems, Salacia took much longer than necessary on the most dangerous passage in the Milk Run, and was caught in a terrible storm just before the end of her long passage.
In Fritz's defense, we'll remind everybody that just as there is no law against sailing to New Zealand without a liferaft, SSB, EPIRB, or backup VHF, there is also no law against sailing there without a functioning engine. Indeed, many cruisers over the years have done just that Ö and in a variety of less seaworthy boats.
Despite what you apparently believe, our intention has not been to crucify Fritz. We're sure he's a great person. The fact that he kept Salacia afloat when a nearby 45-footer with full safety gear apparently sank would suggest he's a fine sailor, too. And as we pointed out, he didn't do anything illegal, and didn't do anything many other cruisers haven't done over the years.
Nonetheless, don't expect us to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that Julie Black's death wasn't preventable. Preventable by doing a number of things most cruisers do/did on that same passage. To not learn from this tragic accident would be akin to spitting on Julie Black's memory.
Based on what's been learned from the numerous tragedies over the years on the South Pacific to New Zealand run, we offer the following suggestions for anyone headed that way but looking to avoid trouble: 1) Make sure your boat is well-equipped and in her best condition for the passage. 2) Heed the conventional wisdom about hauling ass on this long passage Ö unless advised to hold back or retreat by weather experts. 3) If you have a functioning SSB, take advantage of the weather reports. If you don't have an SSB, use your VHF to get the weather secondhand from other cruisers. 4) Always carry a back-up VHF radio in case of electrical problems. 5) If you issue a mayday, realize that you'll most likely be jeopardizing many other lives besides your own. 6) If it's a ship that has to attempt a rescue in stormy conditions, assume that it will be extremely dangerous for the crews of both vessels Ö and that the yacht will very likely be destroyed in the process. 7) Read Tony Farrington's Rescue In the Pacific before you start the passage.
The bad news is that you can follow all of this advice and still get killed. The good news is that it would be very, very unlikely.
Ö ALL THE ATTENDANT CONJECTURE
Regarding your January Nightmare of New Zealand article, why publish innuendo-laden accounts from second and third-hand sources that you know are bound to be inaccurate? Why not wait for the devastated survivor of a personal tragedy to submit his own full account for publication Ö if and when he's ready to do so?
Lessons can be drawn from a few facts without all the attendant conjecture. Woody Goose was pounded onto a lee shore with steering and engine problems. Salacia was sunk by a cargo ship attempting to rescue the crew, who had no functioning radio with which to communicate that they didn't want or require rescue.
Your article noted that it is not uncommon for boats¹ radios Ö or entire electrical systems Ö to fail in severe weather conditions. I wonder how many cruisers are prepared to communicate without electronics? Those seemingly archaic code flags have international single-letter meanings Ö including some very useful urgent messages. For instance, the letter 'D' means, 'Keep clear of me Ö I am maneuvering with difficulty'. Lacking flags, the code can be transmitted in Morse with a mirror or flashlight. You don't have to memorize the single-letter flag code and Morse equivalent, only have a copy of it on hand. There is also an extensive and more specific international two-letter code.
A former officer in the British Merchant Marine informed me that although most ships are no longer required to carry an all-codes radio operator, ships¹ officers must still know the single-letter code. And ships, of course, carry a full code book. He advised establishing your essential situation with the readily understood single-letter code; proceeding with the more cumbersome two-letter code, or spelling out whole words in Morse Ö only if needed. By the way, 'CK' signifies, 'Assistance is not Ö or is no longer Ö required by me'.
Making a landfall on a lee shore in rough weather is inherently risky. If any conditions deteriorate, or if you experience gear failure for any reason, an extra margin of sea room can be vital. You can't anticipate everything, and shit definitely happens at sea, so a safe passage may ultimately depend on luck as well as preparedness.
Incidentally, New Zealand's infamous Section 21 did not require knowledge of traditional Ö non-electronic Ö communication or navigation methods; nor knowledge of how to steer with sails and running rigging only; or how to analyze weather; or how to heave to; or how to chose a prudent route. But then Section 21 was essentially about modern safety and emergency gear Ö not seamanship.
Bay of Islands, New Zealand / Seward, Alaska
Nina Ö Why did we publish the story? Because we think it's important that mariners learn from tragedies Ö especially those in which it appears the loss of life was avoidable.
Why not wait for "the survivor's account"? For one thing, because the survivor's immediate account didn't make any sense. If Salacia didn't issue a mayday, why is there an official record of one?
We don't think our account was "innuendo-laden" Ö and from what we've since been able to learn, was essentially quite accurate. If anyone is aware of any factual error, please make us aware of them. By the way, the majority of information came from cruisers who sailed to New Zealand, who've written or provided us with accurate information numerous times in the past, and who talked directly with the skippers of Woody Goose and/or Salacia. Our 'warning' was not to suggest that our facts were particularly suspect, merely that we hadn't formally interviewed the principals ourselves.
We think the reason that Morse Code and flags are no longer in common use is that they' have proven inferior to radios. Signal flags are not only useless at night, but cost more than a back-up VHF. And based on our experience, flashlights are a lot less reliable than VHF radios. So no, we don't think the solution is to turn back the clock on technology as you seem to suggest, but rather follow the advice of the survivors and rescuers of the Queen's Birthday Storm: Keith Levy of Sofia described a waterproof handheld VHF as "essential". Darryl Wheeler of Heart Light said the three essentials were a handheld VHF, a handheld GPS, and an EPIRB. John Hilhorst of Waikiwi II advises that their rescue would have been much easier had they had a back-up handheld VHF to talk to aircraft and the ship that rescued them. The military personnel considered the following two electronic items as essential: a 406 EPIRB and a handheld VHF radio. When the New Zealand Maritime Authority issued their report on the Queen's Birthday Storm, they noted that EPIRBs and functioning VHF radios were essential, the latter for practical purposes as well as for "emotional support" that proved to be so important. The fact that the rescue attempt that resulted in Julie Black's death couldn't be called off is further evidence of the importance of a back-up VHF. We hate to say this, Nina, but in light of all these recommendations we think you should give the back-up VHF some further consideration.
Safe passages depend on both preparedness and luck. But if there's one lesson we've learned from having to write about sailing tragedies for more than two decades, it's that the more prepared you are Ö in terms of sailing skills and basic safety gear Ö the less luck you need.
Finally, lest anyone get the impression we're looking down on either of the skippers or crews of Salacia or Woody Goose, we're not. We don't think for a minute that we necessarily could have done any better. Further, we have to admit that there have been more than a few times when our boats weren't as prepared for sea as they should have been. The only difference between them and us is that we, at least up until now, have been luckier.
Ö AIRMAIL, SAILMAIL, AND ALL THE REST
The March and April issues of Latitude just caught up with us. In addition to the normal great stuff, it was fun to read Steve Salmon and Tina Olton's comments about their circumnavigation in progress aboard the Valiant 40 Another Horizon. We¹ve enjoyed meeting up with them in odd places around the world Ö although their appetite for odd and depressing places is obviously larger than ours.
There was, however, an error in their article regarding Sailmail that jumped out at me. I suspect it was an editing error as Salmon knows this stuff pretty well. In addition, Gary Jensen did a great job with the Ham email article Ö but I have a small correction and some additional comments.
So here's the straight scoop: The system that Steve and Tina use to stay in touch is a Ham-radio based system, the same one that Gary Jensen described in his April article. The Ham system doesn't have a catchy name other than Pactor Email via Winlink/Netlink Ö but it is accessible to licensed Hams worldwide. It doesn't cost anything to use, but there are some restrictions: no business messages, and you can't send messages to non-Hams ('third party traffic') from certain countries.
The software that makes this possible at the station end is called Winlink, which was written by Hans Kessler N8PGR and Vic Poor W5SMM (info at http://winlink.org/). The Internet email is handled by a program called Netlink, which was written by Jim Jennings W5EUT (info at http://win-net.org/). There are about two dozen Winlink/Netlink stations worldwide that handle email for cruising hams. All of this equipment and effort is donated, so we owe these guys a lot.
My contribution to the Ham system is a freeware program called Airmail, which can make sending and receiving messages nearly as easy as with regular email (info from http://winlink.org/airmail).
Gary Jensen did a great job describing the Ham system in the April issue. Our only suggestion is to use the http address above for Airmail, not the ftp address in the article. The reason is that the ftp space is donated and can change, but we will try to keep the http address the same.
One comment on choosing a Ham station for email. Jensen suggested using K4CJX in Tennessee Ö and then did a good job of explaining why that may not be a good idea for everyone. K4CJX has a good signal and Steve does a great job, but his station is very busy. Users have about a zero chance of being able to connect on the first Ö or even 10th Ö try without resorting to the tricks that Jensen suggests. It's more like the toll booths on the bridge than a leeward mark, and the solution is to spread out.
There are about a dozen other stations around the U.S. that handle email, and most are easily accessible Ö including the local WA6OYC at Oakland YC. To find a complete list of stations, follow the link from the Airmail web site to ZS5S, who maintains the worldwide lists of Ham stations Ö including those that handle email (called 'Netlink' stations).
Sailmail is the system that Stan Honey and I put together last spring for the West Marine Pacific Cup. It is an entirely different animal Ö but uses the same Pactor technology. Sailmail is a private coast station operating on the marine frequencies, which means unlike users of the Ham digital radio, Sailmail users don't need anything more than their regular marine licenses. In addition, there are no limitations on business messages. Sailmail is operated by a non-profit association, and the current membership fee of $200 per year supports station operation and expansion. Any excess funds will eventually be returned to their members. Stan did all the work, I just put together the software. More info is available from http://www.sailmail.com/.
The Sailmail system is going strong and keeps growing in popularity Ö so it's obviously a poorly-kept secret. Stan and I are working hard on expansion, and hope to be well ahead of the users by summer. Because the current station is nearly at capacity, we can't really take any additional users right now.
Once we get a couple more stations on line, we¹ll put together an article about the system. We¹ll also include a few pictures of the lonely little radio station Ö located in the back room of Sally Lindsay's Spinnaker Shop Ö pounding out the email day and night; of our software development lab, which is a fancy laptop aboard Heart of Gold in the Sunny Caribee; and of Stan answering email from users while bouncing off the overhead aboard Steve Fosset's giant catamaran PlayStation. It should all happen in the next few months Ö if we can get Stan to stay at home for a few weeks!
In summary, cruisers with Ham licenses should take a close look at the Ham system, which offers free, worldwide email access. Those without a Ham license, or who need to send business messages, might consider Sailmail. It's not free and the coverage is currently limited, but it is available to anyone with an ordinary marine license.
Jim and Sue Corenman
Heart of Gold
San Francisco / Currently In Antigua
Ö RESIST THE KEELBOAT SAILOR'S INSTINCT
In April letters, both Peter Earnshaw and Bill Stange ridiculed the advice to fall off, rather than luff up, in order to avoid a capsize when sailing a performance multihull. I'm not a multihull sailor, but at the same time I was reading Letters, I happened to be reading Multihulls For Cruising And Racing by Derek Harvey. Here's what he had to say on the subject:
"In strong winds, with the sails developing maximum power and the boat at top speed, close reaching is also the point of sailing with the highest risk of capsize. However, you are unlikely to approach the stability limit, provided you are suitably reefed and have retracted a cat's lee centerboard Ö and partially raised the windward one as well if the conditions should become worrying. If the boat should then become temporarily overpowered in a squall and you want to ease her through it by altering course, its is absolutely vital [author's italics] to resist the keelboat sailor's natural instinct to luff the boat. This cannot be emphasized too strongly. Because by luffing up, you would add considerable centrifugal force to the sideways pressure of the sails, and the combined capsizing moment could be enough to take her off Ö especially if while luffing you were to bring the boat broadside to heavy breaking seas. Instead, you should immediately bear away so as to sail the boat back under the masthead and run off downwind until the gust has passed. Similarly, if you are hard on the wind and becoming overpressed, bear away."
Ö A SAFE AND SIMPLE SOLUTION
I¹ve been reading your magazine from cover to cover for the last two years. As a converted powerboater who now lives aboard a Cascade 42, I find your magazine to be very interesting.
One of the subjects that comes up from time to time is security while cruising. I¹ve read about some cruisers' inquiries or attempts to store weapons and firearms onboard for safety. Everyone has an idea or two about what to do. However, I¹ve never heard anyone say anything about an alarm system.
A recently retired police officer, I've developed an alarm system that not only will deter thefts and unwelcome boardings, but will also alert the skipper if the boat is taking on water or sinking. It's a simple system which uses just .002 amps of 12-volt juice on standby, yet can activate sirens and strobe lights. It can be turned on by key switch or any hidden switch, and has exit/entry delay, and a duration reset. It's also easy to hook up a 'panic switch', so if someone boards your boat at night you can sound the siren and scare them off.
The alarm system uses magnetic door switches, so there are no false alarms due to motion or radio transmissions. A bilge pump float switch can be installed, too, so the alarm system can alert the crew to high water.
A complete system Ö including an alarm module, siren, key switch, indicator light and label, fuse link and complete instructions Ö sells for $129.95. All that's needed is connecting wire and a float switch Ö if the high water function is desired. Any additional components can be purchased at any Radio Shack. This system is a safe and simple solution to complex problems.
Marine Security & Alarm Systems, Inc.
Patrick Ö If the system is as good as you say, you might look into advertising it.
Ö BOXING DAY IN DRUNKEN BAY
Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, is a big holiday down here in New Zealand and over in Australia. The kids are out of school, summer is coming, the family festivities have all happened Ö so every Kiwi figures it's time for a boating getaway.
We joined the crowds Ö after all, we just couldn't sit there and watch the marina empty out. And believe us, empty out is just about what marinas literally do down here on summer holidays. We knew it would be congested on the water, but we needed to go sailing, the day was beautiful, and with everyone else heading out we just couldn't resist.
Auckland Harbor looked like the Oklahoma Land Rush Ö only with boats. There were sailboats sailing, sailboats motoring, powerboats speeding, windsurfers dodging around, rowers exercising like mad, charter ferry boats doing their runs Ö every floating thing imaginable heading out to the lovely cruising grounds of the Hauraki Gulf. About the only boats that didn't go out were the America's Cup boats, which took a rare holiday from the water.
We had a nice beat on our way outside of Auckland Harbor, crossing tacks with other boats for several hours. Then we stopped at our first destination outside of Auckland: Drunken Bay. What a name! Amanda told us about it, saying it was one of her family's most frequent stops even though it could get crowded. We thought that the intrepid Kiwis would be heading further afield, but Amanda was right, there were perhaps 100 boats in the anchorage. We nonetheless found a hole and dropped the hook, a little worried we might be too close.
Well, mates, we needn't have worried as seven more boats anchored in the spot I figured was only big enough for us! And perhaps another 100 boats anchored in the harbor after we assumed it was full. We don't know where the drunks were that night, but evidently they weren't in Drunken Bay. Crowded as this place was, it was quiet, with mostly families.
Nonetheless, the notion of what constitutes a crowded anchorage reminds me of an experience we had at Turtle Bay, Baja. After we anchored within 100 yards of some Canadian boats, we got a big lecture for being "too close." Those folks would never survive in Drunken Bay where 25 feet is about the maximum separation anyone gets on Boxing Day.
I also remember an anchorage in the Channel Islands Ö Fry's Harbor, I think. Even if allowing for a minimum of swinging room, there was only space for about eight boats. Yet before the afternoon was over, 37 boats had crammed in, all anchored bow and stern to keep from touching. Somehow I never guessed that Los Angelinos and Kiwis would have so much in common. But I guess the crowding is all a matter of supply and demand.
December may be the summertime down here in New Zealand, but we still haven't warmed up yet. Sometimes the sun is warm, but for some reason the air still feels cool. On the sail over here, we both got stiff necks from sailing in a cold wind. Who knows, maybe it was also the tension of sailing in such crowded conditions as well as in such shallow water Ö less than 25 feet. Anyway, as soon as we got settled in, we immediately went below to get warm. Meanwhile, our neighbors donned swim trunks and jumped in! Boy, these Kiwis are a hardy bunch. Either that or they're crazy. Then again, maybe we former Seattlites have just had our blood thinned out from two years in the tropics. Of course, it could have been worse; somebody just flew in from the Pacific Northwest and said it was snowing in Seattle.
Fred Roswold & Judy Jensen
Fred & Judy Ö There are entirely different 'rules' for what might be called 'reasonable space' between boats depending on where you are in the world. In Mexico, for example, boats are usually separated by a considerable distance. If folks insisted on that kind of space at English Harbor, Antigua, or in the British Virgins, there wouldn't be room for half the boats. Of course, what would pass for maximum capacity in English Harbor could count as the wide open spaces in Greece. Cabo Isle Marina, for example, lists a capacity of 320 boats. Huh! Hand that place over to some Greeks and they would cram 750 Ö maybe 1,000 Ö boats in the same space.
Ö TOP TEN WAYS
After finishing the Ha-Ha II in '95, we sailed on to Z-town where our two daughters joined us for the Christmas holidays. They immediately began to make observations about the cruising life. One day, as we were sitting in a small beachside restaurant, we noticed our daughters classifying everyone who passed by as either a 'tourist' or 'cruiser'.
Based on our familiarity with the fleet anchored out, they seemed to be remarkably accurate in their assessments. When we asked how they could tell, they explained that most cruisers share certain characteristics that separate them from the average gringo tourist. They created a Top Ten list of ways to identify cruisers Ö which we promptly lost. It recently resurfaced when we headed Stateside for the holidays, so we thought we'd share them with you:
10) Slightly unkempt appearance.
9) Both men and women tend toward shorter hair styles Ö and often need a shave.
8) Good sun tans and sun-bleached hair.
7) Fanny packs rather than purses.
6) Limited wardrobe Ö same T-shirt three days in a row?
5) Sandals or other footwear suitable for immersion in water. No socks.
4) Sway while standing. Slight stagger when walking.
3) Faint aroma of lemon-scented Joy.
2) Dinghy butt.
And, the number one way to ID a cruiser . . .
1) A Latitude 38 T-shirt!
Dianne & John Olson
Anchorage, AK / Marina de La Paz
Rants, raves, comments, drink recipes, may be sent to our Editor.
© 1999 Latitude 38