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÷ LONG BALL AT THE BELL

Here is a photo of the new Pac Bell Park on the afternoon of Sunday, May 2. The wind was blowing 20 knots or more, which gave the cranes a chance to prove that when they're not working, they make great windvanes.

(Sorry, no picture yet)

With the strong westerlies at China Basin, there are sure to be some home runs hit into the Bay. I recommend all sailors keep a glove onboard.

Capt. Josh Pryor
Ruby, China Basin
San Francisco

÷ I AM A HARVARD MBA

The following story was found posted at the Club Cruceros in La Paz, Mexico:

The American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, "Only a little while."

The American then asked why didnČt he stay out longer and catch more fish.

The Mexican said he had enough to support his familyČs immediate needs.

The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, señor."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually New York ÷ where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But señor, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "Fifteen to 20 years."

"But what then, señor?"

The American laughed and said, "ThatČs the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."

"Millions, señor? Then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

Drew Matlow

Rocinante

Bahia de La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico

Drew ÷ That's a cute story, but a little dated. We remember being moved by it when we first read it in a surfing magazine about 10 years ago. We would only point out that there is a vast difference between fishing, surfing, sailing, or trading stocks ÷ pick one ÷ for a living and doing it as a casual activity. Not that this detracts from the story's point about the simple life.

÷ THE PRUSIK HITCH CAN SAVE LIVES

The tragic death of Harvey Shlasky in the Doublehanded Farallones Race is a reminder that we need to improve our safety practices while sailing. You may remember that in the last few years there were two other very similar cases which nearly ended tragically. One was also during a Doublehanded Farallones Race, and the other at the beginning of a Pacific Cup Race. In every one of these cases, the risk of dying could have been reduced by a shorter tether on the harness. A six-foot tether may keep us attached to the boat, but that doesnČt guarantee our survival when falling overboard.

One way to stay onboard is to keep the tether of the harness as short as possible. I came up with the idea of an adjustable tether one day while rock climbing. Rock climbers want their safety rope to stop them before they hit the ground. To have a 20-foot slack in the rope when you are 10 feet off the ground is pretty absurd. To me, it sounds just as absurd to have a six-foot tether on a sailing harness when the water is just three feet away.

The device that can keep you onboard is what rock climbers call a Prusik hitch. It consists of a loop made of about quarter-inch line. Take a three-and-a-half foot piece of line and tie the ends together with a double fishermanČs knot. (Fig. 1). You should end up with a loop that is about sixteen inches long. Next wrap the loop around your tether a couple of times, (Fig. 2), and attach the other end of the loop to the carabineer on your harness.

 (Sorry, figures missing)

 The principle is the same as a rolling hitch. The loop will jam under tension and keep the tether as short as you want. With this setup, your tether is always snug. If you fall, you will only fall a few inches rather than the whole length of the tether.

To make the tether shorter, slide the Prusik hitch toward the end away from you, and pull it tight to lock into place. To make it longer, slide the Prusik hitch towards your harness and lock it.

Even with a snug tether you need to be careful where you clip in. If you are in the cockpit, it is better to clip in to an eye-strap on the centerline of the boat than to a point outboard of the cockpit. Try to clip in as close to the middle of the boat as possible. Run your jacklines inside the shrouds and tie them off away from the stern.

Reading the article about Harvey Shlasky made me think about my own safety practices and prompted me to write this letter. I hope that reading this letter will make you more conscious of your own safety practices in order to prevent another tragic accident.

Frank Gonzalez-Mena
Suriana, Pearson 34
Vallejo

Frank ÷ We're not experts on the subject, but it sounds promising to us. Anybody else care to comment?

÷ A RAG-TAG PARADE

I've been entering my sailboat in the Pacific Interclub Yachting Association's Opening Day festivities for about 12 years. You're probably familiar with this annual rite of passage, which starts out in the morning with boats passing through Raccoon Straits to get blessed by various folks on a Coast Guard vessel. I guess the blessings work as I've yet to be boarded by the Coast Guard or had my keel fall off. Actually, IČm not sure if they are blessing the boat or the crew ÷ or maybe trying to get a peek down the blouses of the women. Judging by the way they all hang over the side of the boat, IČve got to go with the latter.

Once duly blessed, the Opening Day boats proceed over to the Cityfront to participate in the rag-tag parade. Based on my experience, the event is usually totally disorganized, and takes an hour or so of milling around and waiting for a participant's number to be called to proceed through the line. This year they apparently recruited the local MENSA chapter to organize the parade, as they sent out charts to everyone showing exactly where to stage their groups of boats. This might have worked had they only shown some point of reference on the chart ÷ you know, a buoy or landmark. Unfortunately, all the chart had was a blue patch of water. So upon arriving, I couldnČt tell one blue patch from the next.

Once we arrived at the blue patch that I figured was probably mine, we were immediately directed to move to the center span of the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, the ebb was running at about 5 knots, so I immediately went below to plot a new course to Hawaii. Concerned that our six-pack of Bud, a bag of Doritos and two Twinkies wasn't going to be sufficient provisions for the voyage, we headed for the shallows instead. At this point, one of the PICYA chase boats came over and informed us that we needed to immediately catch up to the two Scarabs in front of us which were making about 50 knots toward the parade start. I thought about filling Einstein in on the physics of displacement verses planing hulls, but I figured it would overload his lone brain cell.

After we actually started on our way through the parade, we were once again told by Einstein that we needed to catch up to the other boats. Launching a beer bottle over his bow and threatening him with a winch handle obviously worked, as he beat a hasty retreat and did not return. The remainder of the trip was pretty uneventful. Next year I hope they decide not to do so much organizing.

Scott Taylor
Fins
San Rafael

Scott ÷ Opening Day always conflicts with our deadline at Latitude, so we haven't participated in it for many years and are therefore out of touch. Nonetheless, based on our experience with the Ha-Ha's, we can appreciate what an impossible task it is to try to coordinate the actions of any large and disparite group of boats ÷ let alone a group that has already been blessed.

By the way, we guess you didn't get the news, but Einstein passed away in 1955.

÷ THE '99 HA-HA

How can I sign up for the 1999 Ha-Ha Rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas?

Ron Pullen
North Bend, Oregon

Ron ÷ 1) Send a $10 check to Baja Ha-Ha, Inc., 21 Apollo Road, Tiburon CA 94920. 2) Include a 9x12-inch self-addressed envelope with $1 in postage. (We know, the Poobah forgot to mention step #2 in last month's announcement, so if you've already sent in for the entry pack, don't worry about it.) Folks should be receiving the entry packs on about June 10 ÷ or a week after the Ha-Ha receives your check and SASE. Incidentally, the Poobah says it looks at though it might be a big Ha-Ha year as more than 50 requests for entry packs arrived in the first 14 days.

As a reminder, the Ha-Ha is the 750-mile cruisers' rally ÷ with stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria ÷ that is open to boats 27 feet or longer that were designed and built for offshore sailing. The event starts in San Diego on October 26 and ends in Cabo on November 6. Crew who can only take a week off from 'real life' might ÷ if they are brave and adventurous ÷ be able to join boats in Turtle Bay for the last two legs. The entry fee for the Ha-Ha is $139 ÷ but you get more than that back in terms of souvenir totes, hats, and shirts, as well as other goods, beer, and discounts on berthing.

÷ OFFSHORE 40 STEERING FAILURE

As the owner of the Offshore 40 yawl Tsaritsa ÷ originally from San Francisco ÷ and a member of the Cheoy Lee Offshore 40 organization ÷ there are a number of us who are interested in learning more about the steering failure that occurred aboard sistership Mary T. during the Queen's Birthday Storm of '94 off New Zealand.

I personally know of only one other steering failure on an Offshore 40, this on a yawl based out of the Gulf Coast of Florida. I think the vessel's name was Celicia and the problem occurred in the area of the wire sheave just forward of the rudder quadrant. There was nothing wrong with the robust sheave, but rather the fiberglass pad on which it was mounted or a failure of the lags which hold the sheave assembly to the pad.

If there is any way to get further info from Mary T. with regard to the steering failure ÷ as well as some structural modifications that were made prior to the trip ÷ the rest of us Offshore 40 owners would be most appreciative.

Pete Kantor
Tsaritsa, Offshore 40
Sun Harbor Marine, San Diego

Pete ÷ We haven't heard from Sigmund and Carol Baardsen for several years, but their Changes in the January '95 issue told the whole story of their battling the Queen's Birthday Storm. As for the steering, here's the pertinent part:

"Shortly before we'd set the warps out, our rack-and-pinion steering gear ÷ a Southern California retrofit by a previous owner ÷ broke. With the warps out, we used the emergency tiller to keep the helm lashed. But after a day on each tack, the socket where the emergency tiller fits over the rudder post wore out. Although the storm was abating by then, it wasn't reassuring to hear the rudder clunking back and forth beneath the boat. The situation was further complicated by the fact that we couldn't use the engine for propulsion. When the steering broke, the tips of the propeller blades had been bent over."

Anyone interested in the complete 2.5-page report by the Baardsens should send $7 to Latitude 38, 15 Locust, Mill Valley, CA 94941. Ask for the January '95 issue.

As we recall, the rudders on the Offshore 40s are almost identical to the 'barn door' rudders on the Bounty IIs. As both these designs are close to 35 years old now, it would be wise to go over the entire system, but we'd primarily be interested in the condition of the metal rudder post ÷ especially where it's encased in the rudder itself.

÷ ANCHORS IN SHIFTING WIND

After settling into my V-berth last night with Latitude, I stumbled across a letter about anchors titled Lightweight, Big Fluke. It was ironic, as I had just spent a few hours discussing ground tackle with a fellow cruiser that trailered his 25-foot sailboat down to Baja.

The consensus of local cruisers was that this cruiser's set-up ÷ a Fortress anchor, 10 feet of chain, and rope rode ÷ was not adequate for the boat's primary anchor. The trailer sailor told us the deciding factor in his purchasing the Fortress anchor were the tests performed by and written about by Practical Sailor.

Yes, the 'dan-forth-style' anchor has great holding power. Yes, in certain bottom conditions the 'danforth-style' anchor can out-hold the Bruce, the CQR, and Delta anchors. But the reason 90% of the cruisers in Mexico do not use the 'danforth-style' anchors as their primary anchor is the constant shifting in the direction of the wind. If a windshift results in the chain getting wrapped around a 'danforth-style' anchor, chances are it will foul and pull out. In short, the consensus of opinion down here is that the 'danforth-style' anchor just isn't safe.

Danforth-style anchors are, however, the definite choice as a stern or emergency anchor.

Through a little digging and scrounging, we were able to come up with a bow roller, 100 feet of quarter-inch chain, and a small Bruce anchor for our newly-arrived cruiser. But the moral of our story is that the best source of practical information is from experienced sailors who have 'been there and done that' ÷ as opposed to the results of some hypothetical tests.

Norm Sundholm
China Girl
Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Norm ÷ We agree that you need different anchors for different types of bottoms ÷ and for different wind conditions. In the Caribbean, where the direction of the wind is extremely consistent, 'danforth-style' anchors work well. In Mexico, where the wind usually blows onshore during the day and offshore at night, it's preferable to have a Bruce or CQR as they have an easier time resetting after 180¼ windshifts. Having said that, we took Profligate to Mexico last winter with just two anchors; a medium sized Fortress, and the mother of all humungous Fortresses. They worked great ÷ but we never slept as soundly as we should due to worrying about windshifts.

As for somebody using only 10 feet of chain with a Fortress anchor, that's really scary!

By the way, if anyone would like to write a piece about their anchoring experiences in Mexico, it would be much appreciated by all those heading down for the Millenium in Mexico.

÷ FOUR TUMBLERS AND PATIENCE

Reading about the break-in of a U.S. yacht stored out of the water in Queensland, Australia, reminded me of another incident involving a combination padlock. It was a nice brass four- tumbler lock that appeared substantial. In fact, it was my own lock ÷ I'd just forgotten the combination. Nonetheless, by using the process of trial and error ÷ starting at 0000 and working toward 9999 ÷ it only took me about 20 minutes to discover the combination. Rotary combination locks take a little longer, but the same principle applies.

The truth is that such locks donČt need to be forced because they are relatively easily opened by anyone with a little patience and time on their hands.

Charles Mueller
Chico

÷ DON'T NEVER FRET

What does the acronym 'DNF' mean? I often see it in Letters. How about 'Dang, No Friends'? 'Don't Never Fret'? 'Do Nuthin', Frank?' 'Doughnuts Never Fail?' What?

Kerrin Brigham
Los Gatos
Holy Mackerel

Kerrin ÷ Actually it appears most often in the Racing Sheet. 'DNF' stands for 'Did Not Finish'. But be careful you don't confuse it with 'DFL', which stands for 'Dead Fookin' Last'.

÷ ALL CASUALTIES SHOULD BE BANNED FOR LIFE

Hopefully you haven't reached the statute of limitations for comment on close encounters between racing sailboats and ships. I respectfully offer a solution to the problem, based on my experience both as a container ship master and as a participant in many of the Big Boat Series ÷ starting with the first.

Once the sailing vessel in question is no longer visible from the bridge of an approaching ship, the said sailing vessel will sound five toots ÷ which is normally the danger signal. But in this case, the five toots from the racing boat will indicate that the owner and crew of the sailing vessel will hold the master, pilot, and steamship company free of any liability if they get hit by the ship. And that the aforementioned parties will immediately become sole heirs to any Fortune 500 companies belonging to the sailboat owner. With that, the sailboat and her crew are free to take their chances crossing in front of the ship ÷ no matter if it impedes the safe navigation of the ship. If the sailboat makes it, there's 'no harm, no foul'. If they don't make it, all casualties will be banned from organized racing for life!!

All kidding aside, there is no easy solution to the problem. But I fully agree that local sailing interests better find an answer soon before the bureaucrats do. ItČs important that the decision-makers are formed from a group that can objectively look at the problem from both sides! A few individuals that come to mind are Mik Beatie, long time sailor and captain of the Larkspur Ferry; Sam Hartshorn, a San Francisco bar pilot; Russ Nyborg, president of the San Francisco bar pilots ÷ shipmates with Sterling Hayden and Spike Africa (who in my mind was the only 'President of the Pacific Ocean') aboard the schooner Wanderer. Additionally, there are ship masters with yacht club affiliations, and maybe even a candidate from Vessel Traffic Service or the Coast Guard, bless their souls. What's important is that extremists ÷ meaning bar pilots who start blowing their whistle and changing course at Mile Rock, or masters who will stop and reverse their engines if they hear a fart on the bridge wing ÷ be kept out of the process.

S. Abrams
Master, R. J. Pfeiffer

S. ÷ Our sentiments entirely.

÷ STONE HORSE

A 1981 Stone Horse is available in my neck of the woods. I'm fascinated by the old New England design and her overwhelming look of seaworthiness. Having never seen one in person and not being familiar with the builders, I wonder what Latitude or any of your readers might be able to tell me. I'm looking for sailing impressions, information about the designer Sam Crocker, the pros and cons of the regular versus wishbone rig, the effectiveness of the boat as a shorthanded cruiser ÷ that kind of thing.

I'm tempted to buy the boat on looks alone, but that's not the way to go to sea.

Ric Deiglmeier
Placerville

Ric ÷ The last time we recall seeing a Stone Horse was about 15 years ago while reaching across Fishermen's Cut in the Delta. There was a Stone Horse moored to a piling ÷ and she looked smart.

Although we've never crawled through a Stone Horse ourselves, we can tell you that Mait Edey and Peter Duff built the first Stone Horse in 1968 in Duff's living room and backyard herb garden. In the subsequent 31 years, they've built over 1,200 boats, including 150 Stone Horses. The Mattapoisett, Massachusetts company's credo is: "Build one boat at a time, use the best materials, the finest craftsmanship, and pay close attention to details" ÷ and they welcome visitors to their boatyard "anytime".

Our gut feeling is that these guys build a good boat. So why not give them a call at (508) 758-2743 and ask them to answer your questions?

÷ WHY A SHIP IS A 'SHE'

We had the accompanying prose hanging in our booth at the Cow Palace ÷ although some of the girls didnČt like it much. We don't know where it came from, just that one of our charter guests gave it to us.

Why is a ship called a 'she'?

A ship is called a 'she' because there is always a great deal of bustle around her; there is usually a gang of men about, she has a waist and stays; it takes a lot of paint to keep her good-looking; it is not the initial expense that breaks you, it is the upkeep; she can be all decked out; it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly; and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable. She shows her topsides, hides her bottom and, when coming into port, always heads for the buoys!

Melba & Rome Shaul
Gridley

Melba & Rome ÷ Displaying that familiar fossil of prose at a boat show in San Francisco is about as ballsy as it would have been to wear a white sheet to the Million Man March. You're lucky that a couple of 'girls' from Dykes on Bikes didn't take a swing at you. Heck, you're lucky our daughter didn't see it.

÷ NO APOLOGIES FOR THE PASSAGE OF TIME

After nine years of reading Latitude, IČve finally found a subject in your rag on which I consider myself an expert. The bare-breasted women of Adix need make no apologies for the long- term affects of gravity. As the lucky husband of a 45-year-old, I consider myself a connoisseur of real as opposed to 'plastic' breasts. These women should make no apologies for the passage of time.

Any chance you might consider selling 8 x 10 glossies?

Dennis Hoey
Loomis

Dennis ÷ The only reason we're running your letter is because we're interested in what kind of boat you own ÷ 'plastic' or wood? And no, there is no chance we'd sell a copy of that photo.

÷ LOOKING TO CRANK

Greetings from Guam! I've just purchased and installed a new Yanmar 3GM30F to replace the old Volvo MD2B diesel which had been in my World Cruiser Pilothouse 37. I got a fantastic deal by paying cash directly to the Yanmar factory in Japan. Anyway, the ownerČs manual indicates the engine is capable of being hand-started with a crank handle fitted to the front of the engine. However the engine came fitted with a cap installed over the crank handle socket. Furthermore, the waterpump drive belt is routed directly over this socket!

I feel it is very beneficial to be able to hand-start a diesel in the event the batteries or starter should fail. While realizing it is a difficult physical task to hand-start a diesel, I believe it could be done ÷ with the aid of adrenaline generated by the approach of a storm or lee shore.

If anyone out there has a template to make a plate in which to fit an idler wheel in order to enable them to hand-start any of the GM series Yanmar diesels, IČd be eternally grateful if you would contact me to help me complete this modification. I can be contacted at rbgarr@netpci.com

Kirk McGeorge
Agat, Guam, United States

Kirk ÷ About 10 years ago we had a long series of letters about whether people could hand-start their small diesels. A few could, but the vast majority couldn't ÷ even with the correct crank.

÷ WINE FOR A DOLLAR OVER RETAIL

I was reading your April issue, and you said something about creating a guide to great places to eat near the water. I recommend the Twisted Vines restaurant near the Turning Basin of the Petaluma River in Petaluma. They serve excellent food at reasonable prices ÷ and have a great wine list for just one dollar over retail.

Twisted Vines is located in the Lan Mart shops just off of Petaluma Blvd. The address is 16 Kentucky St. and their number is (707)766-8162.

I just love Changes in Latitude.

Jesse Rascal
Cal 2-29
Petaluma

Jesse ÷ Thanks for the tip. For those who haven't done a three-day weekend cruise up the Petaluma River, put it on your list.

Personally speaking, we have mixed feelings about Changes. On the one hand, we love reading and editing them, but on the other hand we get jealous we're not living them.

÷ HOW MANY 'STEEL WHALES' ARE OUT THERE?

Having cruised the South Pacific and Indian Ocean 25 years ago, IČm looking forward to doing it again. However, there's one thing that worries me now ÷ and the recent loss of the Peterson 44 Golly Gee in the Pacific after possibly hitting a shipping container brings it home.

Is there any way of knowing how many of these 'floating reefs' are out there? What kind of protection do we have against them? If satellite remote sensing devices can resolve small objects on the ground, can they also be used to report the positions of these 'steel whales'? Is the North Pacific the worst area?

You guys are great at ferreting out this sort of information, and I would appreciate hearing the latest.

John Hurlburt
Bowen Island, British Columbia, Canada

John ÷ About 20 million 'container-units' start to cross the world's oceans in any given year, and about 1,000 of them fall overboard. While nobody knows for sure, it's believed that most of these containers sink almost immediately. Some obviously don't.

The North Pacific is always going to have more than its share of containers because the weather is often very rough and because we Americans import so much stuff from Asia.

Unless your boat is equipped with a forward-looking depthsounder or sonar that you're willing to monitor all the time, the best protection a sailor has against a 'steel whale' is a rabbit's foot.

The technology currently exists to solve the problem. All containers that go overboard could be designed to either sink quickly or have a transmitter that warns of their presence. All the trailers belonging to one of the biggest trucking companies in the United States, for example, are equipped with such transmitters. Unfortunately, solutions to the overboard container problem require capital investments that shipping companies aren't willing to make on their own.

To give the overboard container problem a context, we never worry about them ÷ until we're exhausted, it's pitch dark, and we're flying downwind.

÷ LAPWORTH 36

I bought the Lapworth 36 Carina a couple of years ago at an auction at Santa Cruz Harbor. Last year I installed a Yanmar 3GM engine and am planning to go to the Santa Barbara Islands this summer. But before I go, I want to install a roller furling jib on her. What type of installation is required for a twin forestay ÷ or do I have to go to a single forestay?

I'd also like to know if there are any other Lapworth 36 owners out there who could give me some history on these fine boats. I can be reached at capnahab10@AOL.com.

Danny Bewley
Carina, Lapworth 36
Aptos

Danny ÷ If we understand you correctly ÷ that you have two headstays side by side ÷ you'll indeed have to get rid of one of them to install roller furling. If the reason you have side-by-side headstays was to fly two headsails wing on wing, you can still do that with most roller furling systems.

Just so you don't go nuts looking for the charts, there are no 'Santa Barbara Islands'. What you're referring to are the Channel Islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Anacapa. You are certainly not the first one to have made that mistake.

÷ TAXING

IČm about to take the jump and buy my first boat. I have my eye on a 1969 Cheoy Lee 36 sloop. She's a fixer-upper located in Southern California. Any advice about things to watch out for on this boat?

Also, any advice for me on how to legitimately avoid paying the exorbitant sales tax? No money has changed hands yet and I'm having the boat surveyed next week. But a friend told me that if I took delivery of the boat either outside the U.S. ÷ Mexico, for example ÷ or several miles offshore, it would work. True or false? In addition, the same person said I could avoid paying California personal property tax by leaving the boat in a marina south of the border for a certain amount of time ÷ something like 60 days. Is this correct?

John M. Gieschen
Santa Cruz

John ÷ You've been given some good dope and some bad dope.

It's true that you can legitimately avoid paying California state sales tax by taking what's called an 'offshore delivery'. Call the marine department of the State Board of Equalization for all the details so you don't trip up over a minor detail. But basically you have to meet the boat you're going to buy outside of territorial waters, swap the funds for the title, then 'cruise' south of the border for 90 days. Now you know why they call the Coral Hotel & Marina in Ensenada the '90-Day Yacht Club'.

There are some slight variations to the method mentioned above that may also be used. For example, it's possible to bring the boat right back to California as long as you spend 51% of the next six months 'cruising' outside the state. Whatever you plan to do, get the approval of the Board of Equalization first. And don't screw up on the little details. Meet the boat offshore, don't ride out on her. Videotape the transfer of funds and title ÷ along with the GPS reading proving that you're offshore. Make sure your boating activity in Mexico counts as cruising. Keep a detailed paper trail.

Should you feel guilty about avoiding the tax? Hell no! The much-admired First Lady made her reputation and bucks by showing corporations and high rolling weasels how to avoid taxes, so a nice person such as yourself shouldn't feel any compunctions taking the same liberties. Is it worth going to all the trouble? Only you can figure out how much time and money it's going to cost you to avoid the tax. Often it's not worth it.

Personal property tax is a whole different matter. If you keep your boat in California, you're going to have to pay this tax to the county you keep your boat in. If you spend more than six months a year outside of the country ÷ not county ÷ some counties will not assess you.

We always give the same advice on 'fixer-uppers': make sure you know exactly what you're getting into.

÷ A HARMONIOUS COUPLE

In the early '60s, Peter Sutter got a call from Mac Shroyer to come down to the docks in Sausalito and measure up his 24-foot trimaran for sails. I was sent because no one else would go. In those days, trimarans, school teachers, and stupid boats went together. I had had a catamaran built on Oshima in Japan and an outrigger canoe in the Philippines, so it was I who went off to see the wondrous craft.

When I got to the boat, I met Mary, who was obviously very, very pregnant. When I stepped aboard, the floats wobbled. I noticed four door hinges, two to a side. "What are the hinges for?" I asked.

"Oh," Mac replied, "they are so the boat can be folded when we take her on the freeway." All I thought was suicide, but said nothing. What if Mac got injured and Mary had to go to the bow?

"IČll tell you what," I told them, "I'll make a sail that you can use to beat, reach, and run with, and you can raise and lower it without ever having to leave the cockpit." So I made them a flat-cut spinnaker that sheeted from the bows with two lines each. Nonetheless, I kept wondering at the nerve of this handsome couple. Did they know how big an ocean really is?

Come Christmas I got a picture of my new sail and a birthday card hailing the Shroyer's first son. Mac, who had never seen a gale, reported they got into some nasty weather off the coast of Mexico. Mac saw a bunch of people playing on the beach, so thinking 'Why not?', drove their little craft at the guys playing on the sand. As Mary and Mac went through the last of the surf, the Mexicans grabbed the trimaran and dragged it high and dry on the beach! When the gale abated, the Mexican boys happily carried Mac and Mary's boat back in the Pacific. The marvelous couple never even got their feet wet.

Donald Goring
Sailmaker
Alameda

÷ COASTAL CRUISING IN SMALL CATS

I want to thank Latitude for the publicity about Explorer Post #333 in Napa, and our efforts to find a multihull. Since the letter was published, we have received valuable advice from people who have already been through the donation process. But the best direct result was that we got a vivacious, experienced sailor and her dad to join our Post. It turns out they live on the same street in the same town ÷ and we weren't even aware of each other!

In response to a previous letter of mine, you inquired about the "safety limits" of sailing offshore aboard small beach cats. Well, here's our background: My wife Pamela comes from a catamaran racing and gunkholing family, so our first date was aboard her 15-ft Sea Spray catamaran in Mission Bay in San Diego. It was blowing 15 knots, it was warm, we got up on one hull, and I was sitting next to a beautiful blonde. I was in love! Never mind that Pamela claims that I was brain dead and her most difficult student ever, but eventually I got the hang of sailing cats. Pamela's dad used the Sea Spray to do a 130-mile circumnavigation of the Salton Sea ÷ "because it was there". He was hit by a 50 mph storm and had but one option: to run straight down wind to relieve pressure on the sails ÷ and ended up driving right into a sewage treatment pond and dumping the boat. Yuck!

To make a long story short, with a thorough knowledge of your beach cat's capabilities and limitations, proper safety equipment, radios, wetsuits, local knowledge of the area and the weather, and buddy boats in case there is a problem, it is possible to safely go offshore. For our circumnavigation of Santa Cruz Island, we plan on taking a 25-ft. C Class cat, a 26-ft monohull, and a F-27 as our buddy boats. And yes, there are a couple of very experienced Sea Spray 15 skippers that are going along also. We will monitor the weather before leaving, and will not go if the weather isn't suitable. It is possible to safely voyage offshore in small cats and there is much for everyone to learn from both the preparations and the actual trip itself.

By the way, back in '73 Pam and I got to spend some time with two fellows who were in the process of sailing their 19-ft Alpha Cat to Costa Rica. We partied with them on our boat in Cabo as they waited for the weather window to make what until then was their longest crossing: 300 miles to Puerto Vallarta. Later we heard the most dangerous part of their trip was not the sailing, but coming down with severe 'jungle rot' in Costa Rica. Their cases were so severe that they had to return to San Diego to recover! One of the two guys ÷ a sweet, 'teddy bear' kind of person ÷ later got a job as a bouncer at a bar in Hawaii. About six months after his "dangerous and crazy" catamaran trip, he was killed in a shoot-out at the bar.

Pam and I are going to carry a Sea Spray 15 on the deck of our next cruising vessel, so when we pull into 'paradise' we can pull out the 'pocket rocket' and have some fun. The Sea Spray would also be the first thing I would cut loose ÷ along with the water ÷ if we ever had to abandon ship. The last thing on our minds would be the liferaft, for who wants to drift helplessly when you could make tracks toward a rescue?

As for your proposed fund-raising 'cat fight' between our Adventure Cat and your Profligate with Explorer Scouts as crew, it's a great idea that we think we can make even better. We suggest a 'Battle of the Sexes', Gatas against the Gatos, with an all-girl crew on Adventure Cat and an all guy crew on the Profligate. The ExplorerČs would be drawn from the various Sea Scout Ships of the Bay Area. How about a race to Napa from a starting line off of Pier 39 on a Saturday, a party that night in Napa, then an upwind race back to the Bay and a finish off Pier 39? Maybe we could get some representatives from the two local America's Cup teams to sail as 'racing captains'.

Jay Gardner
Advisor, Explorer Post #333

Jay ÷ You know more about catamarans than we do, but we still can't help but think that your proposed cruise goes well beyond the design limitations of beach cats. A few weeks ago, we made the passage from Catalina to Santa Barbara, and no sooner did we get the hook down than 30-knot offshore winds started to blow. Although the winds hadn't been forecast, it continued to blow that way for two days. The seas between Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz Islands were big, chaotic, and very steep. It would have been a hell of a place to have been caught aboard a beach cat. And had one flipped, we're not sure what ÷ if any ÷ assistance other small boats would have been able to render. Maybe we don't know enough about beach cats, and maybe we're becoming overly cautious with age, but circumnavigating Santa Cruz Island with beach cats isn't something we could recommend ÷ particularly with kids aboard.

As for the Sea Explorer 'cat fight' fund-raiser between Adventure Cat and Profligate, we're ready anytime ÷ with the proviso there be mixed crews. We can't condone segregated sailing.

÷ BIG OCEANS AND SMALL CATS

Your story and magnificent photo of the Ocean 71 in the Sightings section of the March issue has prompted me to write. During the mid-'70s, I was first mate aboard Ocean Free, an Ocean 71 based in Malta and chartering in the Med. Until Camper & Nicholson built their beautiful 75-footers, the Ocean 71s were the largest production fiberglass sailboats in the world. If I recall correctly, there were seventeen of these boats produced, two of which ÷ including Ocean Free ÷ had hard dodgers over the cockpit. These were wonderful, powerful boats to sail ÷ especially in the high winds and stormy seas off Sardinia in March!

In reference to your response to the delightful letter from J.M. Cook, I would like to make a couple of points regarding the Greek guy planning to circumnavigate on ". . . a 24-foot ÷ yikes ÷ catamaran . . ." HeČs not as crazy as you imply ÷ and certainly wonČt be the first to accomplish this type of voyage. Just last year, Englishman Rory McDougall realized his dream of building a 21-ft. Wharram 'Tiki' cat and sailing her around the world. And Mihaly Kun's Bay Area family sailed their Seawind 24 cat across the Pacific and through the islands. In the early '70s, the Swale family sailed a stock OČBrien 30 'condo-catamaran' around Cape Horn the hard way. There have been dozens more such voyages, many made without fanfare or recognition.

Back in '79, I sailed across the Atlantic to Portugal in a very basic, home-built Wharram 27 catamaran. For the most part, the days of sitting down at a sailorČs bar anywhere in the world, saying you sailed a multihull, and having everyone move down to the other end of the bar have vanished. Multihull sailors are no longer considered the lunatic fringe! In fact, even Latitude has a cat. Just as there are monohull sailors who have circumnavigated successfully, so are there multihullers.

JoJo is my fifth multihull in the last 20 years. The reason we're currently cruising on a 32-foot Fisher catamaran is that after tens of thousands of cruising miles in many different parts of the world, I have come to the realization that 90% of cruising time is spent on the hook ÷ so you might as well be as comfortable as possible. The other 10% is generally divided between sailing and motoring, so a good motorsailer finally made sense. Besides, my wife loves this boat!

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

Capt. Jonathan & Joell White
Catfisher 32, Jojo
Channel Islands Harbor

Jonathan & Joell ÷ As we mentioned in our response to the previous letter, we'd be too chicken to cross an ocean aboard a 27-foot cat ÷ let alone a 24-footer. We know other people have done it, but the risks are greater than we'd be willing to take.

As long as nobody gets too rabid, we find monohull versus multihull discussions entertaining ÷ and sometimes a little disconcerting. Before Latitude had a catamaran built, we spoke with 'Jawsy' ÷ a first-rate Kiwi sailor who had crewed aboard the 82-ft catamaran ENZA when she set a new Jules Verne Around the World Record ÷ about the wisdom of getting a cruising cat. Jawsy asked what kind of boat we had at the time. When we told him an Ocean 71, he just laughed and said, "Keep what you've got, mate!" We had the cat built anyway.

This morning we got a call out of the blue from Yvon Fauconnier, the noted French sailor who won the OSTAR in '84 with a trimaran and often raced multihulls across oceans with Mike Birch. Fauconnier called us because he was looking for an Ocean 71 to take cruising! Frankly, we were a little rocked to hear a noted multihull sailor saying he'd prefer to go cruising in a 25-year-old monohull as opposed to a multihull. Fauconnier then explained that while he might prefer a multihull for middle latitudes, his group intended to visit high latitude destinations such as Patagonia and Norway, and felt that the rugged old van de Stadt design might be better suited for the conditions. Less expensive, too.

 Just to jog your memory, here's a photo of Ocean Free. We bumped into her in Bora Bora on our last honeymoon. Under Kiwi ownership, she was just finishing a circumnavigation.

÷ GETTING BACK IN THE LOOP

IČm 41 years old, six feet tall, and weigh 250 pounds. Thanks to a guy who ran a red light, I had to get out of racing nearly three years ago. Now I want to get back into the loop.

IČve raced J/24s, Tartan Tens, Santana 35s, Olson 25s and Ranger 23s. But as I'm now thinking about getting into small boats, I'm looking for opinions on boats that I can dry sail, car top, or tow on a small trailer. If anyone has any good ideas, please email me at keck@visa.com.

Also, as I haven't been keeping up with Latitude for the last 18 months or so, I'm wondering when the Crew List comes out. Mea culpa. IČm ordering a subscription on your website right now!

Scott Keck
San Francisco

Scott ÷ We suggest you start your search by checking out the Small Boat Racing Association's website at: www.sbra.org. They've got all the poop on boats such as El Toros, Sunfish, Snipes, Lasers, Flying Juniors, Day Sailers, Thistles, Fireballs, Laser IIs, Wylie Wabbits, 505s, I-14s, International Canoes, Bytes, Contenders, JY-15s, Lightnings, Millimeters, Coronado 15s, Lido 14s, Pelicans, 420s, 470s, Stars, and C-Scows. Or you could pick up an old Finn or Banshee. If you want something a little larger, try to find a Rhodes 19. Given your racing experience, you might be happiest with the active and competitive Mercury class. Check them out at www.paw.com/sail/mercury/. And don't forget to page through the Classy Classifieds.

The Crew List came out in the March and April issues.

÷ UNSAFE AND UNFUN

I like what the cruisers say; it's what I read Latitude for. The magazine is a bit short, but I won't hold it against you. And you're right about one thing, it is a big ocean. But safety and fun is between my ears, not at my waterline. I could write for days on my three Mexico cruises aboard my 22-footer, but I won't because according to you, IČm unsafe and not having any fun.

Foam-Filled Cape Man
Arcata

Foam-Filled ÷ The one thing we've noticed over the years about folks who try to guilt-trip us is that they rarely sign their names. And that their letters are vague and devoid of specifics.

Let's get this straight, we agree ÷ and have frequently said so in print ÷ that safety is, as you put it, 'between the ears and not based on waterline'. Which is why we've happily written about people like Serge Testa, who did a circumnavigation in a boat half the size of yours.

Having cleared that up, we're sure our readers would be interested in what kind of 22-footer you have, whether your cruises were down the inside or outside of Baja, how long they were for, and whether you trailered or sailed the boat down and back up the coast. You know, just the basics, so we can all benefit from your experience.

÷ YES, WE HAVE NO BANANAS

At a recent meeting of the Over the Reef YC, the local ÷ and only ÷ yacht club in the Northern Mariana Islands, I was not taken seriously when I raised the subject of sailing superstitions. Specifically, I mentioned the superstition against carrying bananas onboard. I have tried to back my claim with independent research ÷ including on the Internet ÷ but found nothing. As a result, I only got ribbed some more.

But one person on the Cruising World bulletin board and I both seem to remember that Latitude may have done a story on sailing superstitions within the last year or two. A story which mentioned the taboo against carrying bananas on boats. Do you remember what issue that was?

Timothy H. Bellas
Northern Mariana Islands

Timothy ÷ Unfortunately, we don't remember that article ÷ but we can recall a number of sailors' superstitions: Everyone knows that you've got to be as nuts to carry bananas on a boat as you do to start a voyage on a Friday (the day of Jesus' Execution ) or the first Monday in April (Cain's birthday and the day Abel was killed). San Francisco sailors should beware of sailing on the second Monday in August, the day when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.

Flowers should not be brought on boats ÷ especially submarines ÷ for they portend the funeral wreaths of the vessel's company. Priests and woman were always considered bad luck to have aboard; the former because they bury the dead, the latter because the sea doesn't like the sight of a woman. Oddly enough, sailors believed that high winds and gales would subside if a naked woman appeared ÷ which explains the fact that so many figureheads on ships showed a woman with bared breasts. By the way, it's been determined that the sea doesn't mind the sight of a naked woman aboard a fiberglass boat.

Every old sailor knows that if you lose a bucket or mop overboard, you're in for bad luck. Heaven help you if you hand a flag to a sailor between the rungs of a ladder. If you hear bells at sea, you'd better put your affairs in order quickly. Perhaps the most famous sailors' superstition of all is that it's all right to whistle up a little wind in a calm, but you'll bring on a gale if you whistle when there already is a breeze.

For a more complete compilation of sailors' superstitions, find yourself a copy of Jim Clary's Superstitions of the Sea, "a compelling digest of beliefs, customs and mystery focusing on the vast array of strange, mythical and often comic beliefs of mariners from ancient times to the present."

÷ ISLAND TRADER 51

I'd like to know what you and your readers might have to say regarding the William Garden-designed Island Trader 51. In particular, I would like to hear about the quality of construction, seaworthiness, and ability to hold value over the years.

I'm considering a number of vessels with a mind to living aboard in waters around the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver Island. For me, the vessel must be both well-built, comfortable and safe. I have seen reference to a few of these vessels, and am attracted by ÷ among other things ÷ her lines. I would be happy to discuss such things ÷ and promise to respond in a timely manner ÷ to anyone courteous enough to reply to me at peter.howard@haliburton.com

Peter E. Howard
Porto de Luanda, Republica de Angola

Peter ÷ The so-called Garden 51s were built in Taiwan and marketed under a variety of different names. A lot of folks have found the full keel boats with ketch rigs and bowsprits to be pleasing to the eye. The problem with boats that came out of Taiwan in the early days is that the quality was all over the map. Some were beautifully built, others were dreadful. Most of the time the problems have not been with the hulls, but with the fittings, systems and other details. Make sure you're aware of the scope of the project if you fall in love with a fixer-upper ÷ particularly one that large.

÷ NOT INTERESTED IN SEEING OTHER WOMEN NAKED

I've been reading your magazine cover to cover for many years. It got me interested in sailing and helped me find a sailing school in order to take some classes and sail their boats for a few years. I have since moved on to a partnership in a Catalina 27 that has worked out great. I have been able to sail all I want for a very reasonable price and as a result have gotten to be a fair sailor. I have also had two wonderful bareboat charters in the San Juan Islands. My wife and I were able to charter an O'Day 32 on one trip and a Hunter 35.5 on our last two week vacation ÷ and they were the best vacations of our lives. We're now looking at buying a 40 to 45-foot boat and talking retirement in two to three years ÷ at which time we want to see Mexico and a few other places.

Now to my point! Over the years, Latitude's language has gotten a little worse and there are more naked bodies. After seeing the March issue, I kind of expect to see a centerfold any time. Your magazines stay on my coffee table until every part is read, and then they are replaced with the next month's. I am a conservative type person who thinks that I really donČt need the nude pictures. I have a wonderful wife that I have been married to for 31 years, and am just really not interested in seeing other women naked. Plus, I have young grandchildren, and I don't want them to think I approve of those kinds of pictures. So this month's magazine went in the trash as soon as I thumbed through it and noticed your almost full page picture of a topless young lady. This happens to every magazine I get with those type of pictures.

I am a little angry because I loved your magazine and supported quite a few of your advertisers. I wonder if they think the nudity is worth losing customers over.

Von Bottoms
Dixon

Von ÷ Speaking as the publisher of Latitude, we were as unhappy with that March photograph as you were ÷ although for different reasons. You're unhappy because it violated your sense of propriety. We, on the other hand, loved the photo and the somewhat comical appearance of the helmet, but were mad because the size of the photo violated our sense of proportion. It's similar to the fact that drinking a bottle of wine with dinner is nice, but guzzling a whole case is not.

Frankly, we'd expected a relatively small version of the photo to appear in Loose Lips or something, but due to a poor oversight on our part, it ended up in a 'prime time' Sightings page ÷ and big as all get-out! So when we first opened the March issue to that page, we quickly located the nearest wall and banged our head against it about 10 times. Hard. That's just not what Latitude is about.

But if you think that your view represents a majority opinion, you couldn't be more mistaken. The overwhelming number of readers who have expressed an opinion on the matter tell us, "Let's have more of those great pictures!" But we're going to have to disappoint both them and you. For anyone looking for additional disproportional sized photos of topless women ÷ no matter how actively they are sailing ÷ will come up empty. It won't be because of anybody applying any pressure, but rather because it violates our sense of proportion. On the other hand, if you think we're going to ban photos of women enjoying sailing just because they aren't wearing a top, that's just not going to happen, either. After all, we fervently believe that a little sex is a good, clean and healthy part of life ÷ and sailing, too.

We want you to know, however, that we respect your point of view, and having been divorced twice, admire the commitment you've made to your wife. But here's the thing: Latitude is written for reasonably open-minded adults, not children, who want a realistic view of sailing and cruising. That means we show boats sailing beautifully, and we show boats up on reefs. It means we write about people achieving glory through sailing, and about people who die while sailing. It means we show people getting drenched while wearing foul weather gear, and occasionally a topless women getting drenched by the sun. That's our editorial outlook, we're proud of it, and we're sticking with it.

By the way, last summer we were fortunate enough to take our daughter and son to see the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. Having studied the brilliant paintings on the ceiling of the chapel, and having seen the form of the woman in the March issue of Latitude, we can only conclude that God is a much better artist than Michelangelo could have ever hoped to be. Stick to your principles, Von, but don't forget to celebrate life!

÷ SO BLESSED AND SO EXCITED

Having read the fine letter in the April Latitude regarding the pair that met at last FallČs Crew Party and are now engaged, I must also let you know that there is yet another couple who have found each other and sailing bliss via your magazine.

Like many other sailors, I attended the Mexico Only Crew Party hoping for a last chance at finding a position on a boat headed south with the Ha-Ha. Fortune and Fate were with me that night, as the Encinal YC was quite crowded with prospective crew and fewer skippers. I honed in on a threesome of interesting-looking men who were looking to fill the final slot in a crew of four.

Although I was up against some major competition ÷ cuter and more experienced ÷ I hung in there and schmoozed for as long as I could in order to get that call to come out for a test sail on the Bay. There were three of us gals vying for one slot ÷ or so we thought. I've since learned that Jann, my future crewmate, had convinced the skipper to take five rather than four, thereby securing my spot. All I can say is thank goodness somebody was looking out for me!

Jann and I had a blast crewing aboard Mike Hibbitt's CT-49 Orion down to Cabo. We loved it so much that weČre headed back ÷ but this time aboard Jann's boat. We'll be headed south to the Canal, up to the East Coast, and who-knows-where from there. WeČve not only found a true soul-mate in each other, but we get to live our dream of cruising that weČve individually nurtured for 10 years or so. WeČre feeling very blessed and soooo excited to be taking off next month!

So thank you Latitude for the opportunity! We had a blast with the Ha-Ha fleet and look forward to seeing some of our fellow sailors when we get down there again this fall! And a special thanks to Mike Hibbitts of Orion for giving me the chance to crew on the best boat in the Ha-Ha!

S.S.S. ÷ Sailing, Simplicity and Self-sufficiency.

Nancy & Jann
Saga
Pt. Richmond

Nancy & Jann ÷ We're delighted for the both of you!

÷ TECHNOLOGY FOR THE BETTER OR WORSE

I always enjoy hearing people bemoan how new technology makes an activity such as sailing worse instead of better ÷ while at the same time they take for granted the technology theyČve grown up with and become accustomed to using.

Does George Fulford, who wrote the April letter, sail in a boat without auxiliary power or other recently invented technological gadgets such as winches and blocks? This would certainly make sailing more exciting! In the same way, I suppose it wouldn't be as exciting to dodge cargo ships in the fog once the radar identified their bearing and speed. All I can say is that I agree with Max Ebb ÷ who has lately been exceeding even his own high standards! Keep up the good work.

There's another techno gadget that may be of interest to sailors: If you've got a laptop with a large disk drive, you can leave your bulky CD collection at home. Software that allows you to encode your music in MP3 format and store it on a disk is available on the web for free ÷ or almost free. You can find many such programs at www.cdcopy.sk. These will allow you to store music at 1MB per minute. That means a typical laptop sold today can use half of its 8GB disk drive to store almost 70 hours of music ÷ and even more if you're willing to accept lower quality.

Caution: Most new laptops have built-in audio, but most marine stereos donČt have RCA inputs. As a result, you'll most likely need a standard car stereo on your boat to be able to take advantage of the new technology.

Bill Quigley
San Francisco

Bill ÷ We at Latitude will stake out the middle ground. We think the technological breakthroughs in GPS and email capabilities, as well as the dramatic improvements in radar and weatherfax, are sensational. On the other hand, we fear that too many folks are becoming slaves to these devices and losing touch with the joy of plain old sailing.

÷ THE SIMPLE APPROACH

IČve been reading Latitude for many years and just got around to visiting your website. I like what you've done so far as it looks good and loads fast! It's nice that you don't have fancy ÷ and unnecessary ÷ graphics which slow everything down. Keep up the simple approach.

S. Owens
Briesin'

S. ÷ Thanks for the kind words. We've been hoping to make some improvements, but are so busy we probably won't get around to it until winter.

÷ SUPER PANGAS

Maybe youČve seen them or heard about them. On April 17, I was driving north after five weeks in Cabo and was just about blown off the road by an armada of 'super pangas' being trailered south. There were 18 of them and they were all about 28-ft long with two huge outboards, radars on an arch, and a steering console with a windshield. In addition, there were about eight normal size pangas with huge single outboards.

All the pangas looked brand new, were painted dark green, and were towed by the same drab-colored new Dodge pick-ups. I was about 100 miles north of Guererro Negro ÷ about halfway up the Baja peninsula ÷ when they passed. At the next military check point ÷ the one with the three shiny black Humvees ÷ I inquired about the pangas. "Drugas," was the reply. When I asked what part of the Baja peninsula they would be patrolling, I was told the entire peninsula. Pretty scary! Thought you might want to alert everyone.

I had a great time in Cabo, as I helped my friends work on and sail the 'pirate ship' Sunderland, sailed my Laser, and paddled my sea kayak.

Craig Shaw
Planet Earth

Craig ÷ You're not being completely clear. Were the pangas for the drug smugglers or for those who are trying ÷ or at least pretending to be trying ÷ to stop them?

Actually, we don't find it particularly scary. Despite the gazillions of drugs smuggled from Mexico into the United States, there has been little danger to yachties and tourists. Smugglers are smart enough to know it's in their best interest to avoid interactions and trouble with tourists ÷ who are extremely valuable to the Mexican economy.

÷ RED LIGHT, BLUE LIGHT

I'm writing as a last resort. Six years ago I found a product that could be used to paint onto light bulbs to color them red or blue for the preservation of night vision. It worked much better than red nail polish. The bottle has long since vanished on a previous vessel.

My present vessel has a 24-volt system, which makes clear bulbs doubly hard to find, red bulbs even more scarce, and blue bulbs impossible. With your vast contacts and readers, I am hoping that you can identify the product and a source.

Lou Freeman
Seabird, Swan 51
San Diego

Lou ÷ If you're looking for 28-volt bulbs ÷ which is actually what you need for your 24-volt system ÷ call Ron Amy of ABI at (707) 765-6200. They sell 28-volt bulbs in a variety of wattages.

Amy reports that their attempts to paint bulbs red or blue resulted in the color fading or the paint burning off. As a result, they now simply put colored glass covers over their halogen bulbs. Have the regular screw-in bulbs? No worries, as ABA ÷ and other companies ÷ sell adaptors that permit the use of halogen bulbs in screw-in sockets.

÷ LAST PAYMENT

IČve been waffling on this issue for years, and now that my wife and I are about to make our last payment on Soma, our 1967 Buchan 37, itČs time to make the decision. Our surveyor says, "Sure, the boat is ocean capable." Nonetheless, I have to wonder whether a homebuilt Puget Sound racer/cruiser is the right boat for sailing across oceans.

We love Soma and have spent four years bringing her back from almost a decade of neglect, so the thought of selling her truly tears at my heart. But I canČt help thinking that thereČs another boat out there that was designed and built for the oceans, one that I wonČt have hesitations about when the shit hits the fan.

People have suggested that coastal cruising shouldnČt be a problem ÷ except for the fact that the beautiful coasts of Washington and Oregon are considered to be the graveyard of the Pacific. We want to do Mexico first and eventually continue on. I've heard of a few Buchan 37s venturing offshore, but I'm wondering if anyone out there can share any stories or insights. We can be reached at: coryb@fremonthemp.com.

Cory Brown
Soma
Seattle

Cory ÷ We're not familiar with the boat, but if you love her, paid her off, and your surveyor says she's good enough for the ocean ÷ it's a no-brainer: Get a second-opinion from a hard-ass surveyor to calm your fears, then cruise her to Mexico. After a season you'll have a much better idea if she's what you want and need in a cruising boat. Relatively benign Mexico is a great place for such 'trial marriages'.

÷ LOOKING FOR A BOAT IN GREECE

I have a question that you guruissimos of all salty bodies might be able to answer. IČm a backpacker with loads of bluewater experience looking to crew-for-passage out of Athens around mid-June. My first move is to put something up at the yacht harbor. However, you never know what you might find on the web . . . but I can't seem to find any place to leave a message. If you know where I could post a crew-looking-for-boat type thing for Greece, I would be very grateful.

Thanks for such a solid mag all these years ÷ I've virtually been raised on it.

Carl Lenox
San Diego

Carl ÷ Here's a direct quote from the 800-page Lonely Planet Survival Guide to Greece that should stoke you: "Despite the disparaging remarks about yachting among backpackers, yacht (sic) is the way to see Greece."

The web is good for a lot of things, but we don't think looking for a boat to hitch around Greece on is one of them. There are probably 1,000 sites where you could post a looking-for-a-boat-ride request, but the chances of the boatowner you're looking for also surfing that site is remote. Maybe a couple of the crew list sites will eventually reach critical mass to the point of being useful, but right now it seems more like critical mess to us. In any event, trying to arrange a ride in Greece over the net is a lousy idea. First off, it's too much like a blind date. Secondly, there's a million things that can disrupt your plans and the boatowner's plans, so all the arrangements made will be for naught.

If we were you, we'd be serendipitous, for there's no better place in the world to boat-hitch than Greece. First off, there are zillions of boats in Greece, almost all of which tie up in front of tavernas where all the backpackers hangout on the cheap. Secondly, there are lots of charter companies, and we've yet to see a charter company that wasn't perpetually in need of experienced hands ÷ to say nothing of paid skippers ÷ to shuffle boats during the high season.

Our suggestion is that you fly to Athens, spend a day or two doing the historical sites, then get the hell out of that mostly miserable city. Start by checking out the scene in Athens' Kalimiki Marina, Kea Marina, or at Piraeus, which are primarily charter company bases. If you don't score, go to the nearby Corinth Canal, where all boats have to stop to pay the toll ÷ and which you ought to see anyway. If you don't find something you like, return to Pireaus to take a ferry to any of the following ports: Hydra, Mykonos, Ios, Santorini or Rhodes ÷ and just work the docks. If you make it to Rhodes ÷ as you surely will ÷ it's just a few miles further to the even bigger yachting centers of Bodrum and Marmaris in Turkey.

We don't think you'll have any trouble at all. When Big O was in Greece and Turkey, we picked up crew that we ended up taking all the way across the Atlantic. So did Jim Kilroy's Kialoa III. So it should be a slam dunk ÷ just remember to drop us an email and send a few photos!

÷ FIRST CABIN

May we congratulate you on a superb and humorous publication. In response to the Any Fool letter in the May issue, Daphne and I wholeheartedly agree with the concept of speed, efficiency ÷ and bottled water. Why just the other morn Daphne informed me that we were getting low on Evian. Why cheap, I ask you? Aboard Our Nirvana, we only have the best ÷ as the sea will not settle for less

This brings me to the point of our letter. Having spent time in Sausalito, Marin County, and knowing the good life, we lube our head only with first grade cold pressed Tuscan virgin olive oil and a dash of top quality balsamic vinegar ÷ thus keeping this important piece of equipment in 'First Cabin' condition.

We have also discovered that flat champagne ÷ preferably French ÷ works wonders in freeing up seized deck hardware.

Life is full of compromises ÷ but not ours!

Cyril & Daphne Smiythe
Our Nirvana
Mazatlan

Cyril & Daphne ÷ Is our memory playing tricks on us, or isn't there a bottled water dispenser at the Marina Mazatlan office? And at the Cabo Isle Marina office? And at the Marina Paradise office? Do these locals know something spigot water drinking gringos don't ÷ or are they just being bourgeois?

Perhaps we should have explained that our conversion to drinking and cooking with bottled water was gradual. We began the practice after the tenth time the water coming out of the supposedly potable water spigots in the Caribbean was the color and consistency of the Colorado River. After the times it had given an unpleasant flavor to the food that had been prepared. After it was the prime suspect in the crew getting sick. After we'd been repeatedly warned not to drink it. After we'd observed marina workers using the garden hose to fill the 'agua purificado' tanks.

Yes, marina spigot water is often fine. But you never can tell ÷ particularly outside the U.S. and particularly during the rainy season. Our feeling is why take the chance when bottled water is available everywhere ÷ wonder why that is? ÷ for a very modest price. But if drinking bottled water embarrasses you, by all means, swig from the spigs.

÷ SALT OF THE EARTH

The following is the response that I received from the Mitsubishi International Corporation regarding their controversial proposed partnership in a Mexican salt-producing facility at San Ignacio Lagoon on the Baja coast:

Thank you for your letter expressing your concerns to us about the gray whale and the proposed solar salt facility at San Ignacio Lagoon. Having visited the site not only for business but also for whale-watching, I share your concerns. I would be troubled also if I felt that either Mitsubishi Corporation or the Mexican Government, our majority partner in Exportadora de Sal S. A. (ESSA), would do anything to endanger these magnificent mammals. However, I am writing to you precisely because I am convinced that ESSA is taking the right steps to plan its project with sensitivity to the local environment.

Please recognize that San Ignacio Lagoon will remain in its pristine form even if the salt project goes ahead. Ten years from now, 20 years from now, and a hundred years from now, the lagoon will look the same as it does now. Untouched except by local fishermen and whale watchers, it will remain a peaceful refuge for whales.

The closest the project will come to the lagoon itself is a channel at the very north end with pumps two kilometers from the lagoon and five kilometers away from the closest that any whale could possibly come. There will be no ship traffic or other activity in the lagoon.

Most important, the project will not go forward if there is any danger to the gray whale or to the environment ÷ including the bottle-nosed dolphins, sea turtles and other animals. While Mitsubishi Corporation is publicly committed to this, you need not simply accept our word. In October 1997, ESSA announced the formation of a team of scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a consortium of Mexican universities who will carry out a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment. We will certainly abide by the results of the study.

You should be aware, however, that ESSA has operated successfully for a long time in Ojo de Liebre, a lagoon to the north of San Ignacio where the whales also migrate. When ESSA first began exporting salt from Baja in 1957, around 100 gray whales visited the lagoon near its facility. This year, about 1,800 whales visited the lagoon ÷ a record number. This would seem to indicate that salt can be collected without an adverse impact on the gray whale.

We believe ESSA has done a good job over the past 40 years in protecting the environment, but if through the Environmental Impact Assessment we find there are any areas where ESSA has not used best practices, we will make sure it raises its standards. For example, although a recent report by a Mexican Environmental Protection Agency (PROFEPA) initially hypothesized that the death of 94 sea turtles last December was due to increased salinity in Ojo de Liebre lagoon, they have also stated that further research needs to be done to determine the cause of the turtle deaths. PROFEPA also noted in its report that this is a highly unusual occurrence that does not call into question ESSAČs overall operation or its strong environmental record.

Both Mitsubishi and ESSA believe that the deaths are unrelated to ESSAČs operations. Nevertheless both we and ESSA are very concerned about this issue. ESSA has, therefore, created a team of specialists to look into the matter along with PROFEPA. We want to ensure that the best possible scientific study is carried out. Please be assured that we will make no proposal to expand ESSAČs operations unless we know for a fact that ESSAČs solar salt activities can be carried out in a manner that truly protects the environment.

I am sometimes asked why anyone would want to build a solar salt evaporation facility in this location. While there are other ways to produce salt, the salt evaporation process uses the least energy and the process does not contribute to global warming. This region of Mexico is one of the few locations in the world where such a process is feasible. It is an extremely natural process that would use ancient salt flats located inland to the north and west of the lagoon, which are devoid of animal and plant life. The salt flats would simply be filled with seawater that would be gradually fed through a progression of ponds and would eventually produce salt as a result of natural evaporation.

Finally, I want to clear up any misconceptions that may exist regarding the relationship of the project to the Vizcaino Biosphere and World Heritage Sites. It is only in the core areas of the Vizcaino Biosphere where there can be no development. In the much larger buffer zone, development is permitted as long as it is compatible with the Biosphere. Within the Biosphere, the San Ignacio and Ojo de Liebre Lagoons were designated World Heritage Sites to preserve the habitats of the gray whale and other threatened species. Contrary to what some would lead you to believe, the World Heritage Committee specifically found that neither the lagoons nor the area merited designation as sites of exceptional natural beauty under World Heritage Site criteria. The current salt facility near Ojo de Liebre as well as the proposed salt facility are not in the core areas of the Biosphere, nor would we proceed if these facilities would harm the habitat of the species in the nearby World Heritage Sites. Instead, they are facilities which have and will add wetlands and more bird life.

While Mitsubishi Corporation is a profit-making company, as are all businesses, we want to ensure the integrity of the environment is preserved, just as you do. When concerns are called to our attention about our business activities, we seriously consider those concerns and examine those operations to make sure they can be responsibly carried out.

We invite you to continue calling to our attention any issues you have about us. We ask you to support the precedent-setting scientific process on the San Ignacio project. Please feel free to visit ESSAČs website for further information or updates at www.bajasalt.com.

÷ James E. Brumm, Executive V.P., Mitsubishi Corp.

Thanks for airing this.

Dr. John Tysell
Richmond

÷ YET TO PURCHASE BOTTLED WATER

Latitude's answer to the recent Silver and Saltwater letter caught our attention because we have been cruising in Mexico since September of '96 ÷ and have yet to purchase bottled water.

We have spent a great deal of time in the Sea of Cortez, summering the past three years at Bahia de Los Angeles. Bottled water is available there, but it's a long, hot walk to the dinghy. We figure getting diesel to the boat is enough of a job for us.

However, we do have a Seagull water filter that we use to filter all our drinking and cooking water. The Seagull is rated for water purification, and filters to 0.4 microns. Human red blood cells are 0.7 microns. That, combined with a watermaker that makes 20 gallons an hour, means that in just three hours and by using only one gallon of diesel, we can make enough water for two people for a month! It's not only easier to do than carrying bottled water, it's much more reasonable.

For anyone considering cruising in remote areas or for long distances, we would highly recommend a Seagull Water Filter system. It's not much larger than an oil filter and has worked wonderfully for us.

By the way, this past summer a panga full of fishermen came by requesting water ÷ which happens fairly often. This time, however, they wanted to know where our water was from: Santa Rosalia, San Carlos, or Bahia de Los Angeles. They were very confused when we told them we had just made it there in the Estatone anchorage. They made quite a ceremony out of smelling the water and were very tentative with their first sips.

Karin & Carl Amato
Reliance, Cal 3-46
San Francisco

Karin & Carl ÷ We're a little confused about two points: 1) If you're using a watermaker, what's the purpose of the additional filter? 2) If you make enough water in three hours for a month, don't you have to pickle your unit after each use? Otherwise it sounds great ÷ as long as you never contaminate your tanks with suspect tap water.

÷ WHISKEY AND WATER

I would like to dip my toe into the water discussion.

The reason for the WandererČs big boat is now apparent. It was not just for bigger parties ÷ as some people thought ÷ but to be able to haul more bottled water. Unfortunately, those of us with smaller boats eventually run out of bottle storage space and have to decide between bottles of water and bottles of whiskey. I have found out it works better for me to take the whiskey and pray for rain than it does to take the water and pray for whiskey.

All of the Wanderer's claims about potential problems with tank water are true, but my solution works pretty well. I have never had a tank of water go bad, and only one tank of brackish water. I chlorinate every tank of doubtful water that I take aboard. That kills both the germs you cannot see and the growth which you can see.

To get rid of the chlorine taste, I have an eight-gallon day tank under the galley sink. The pressure pump is only used to fill the day tank, and that water is then pumped through a filter to the sink using a foot pump. People are allowed to use all of the water they want so long as they use the foot pump ÷ and usually it only comes to a gallon of water a person per day. Neither the filter nor the chlorine seems to do anything for brackish water.

Now, as we come to the tail end of this water subject, I want to talk about the scale buildup in the toilet discharge hoses. I was discussing the problem with a friend who is a waste water engineer for gold mines. He told me about a chemical polymer anti-scaling agent they use to prevent scaling in water that has a pH of 9 to 11 ÷ which is much more likely to scale than sea-water with a pH of 8.3. Perhaps some of the readers can contribute to what I have found out so far.

The chemical he used is Ashland Drew 11-423 anti-scalant. The factory rep was very kind, but couldn't help much because the smallest quantity they sell is a 55-gallon drum which goes for $1,500. The rep calculated that would contain enough material for 13,844,625 flushes for the amount of hose I have on my boat.

Scaling is a big problem around steam boilers and industrial plants. Does anyone out there know of a similar chemical that can be bought in smaller quantities or is designed and packaged for this purpose? We use vinegar to keep everything working good, but vinegar is too weak to really prevent the scale buildup.

Ernie Copp
Orient Star
Long Beach

Ernie ÷ Your buy-a-big-boat-to-carry-bottled-water theory leaks. An Olson 30 is about as small a 30-footer as you can find. When we cruised ours in the Sea of Cortez, we carried ÷ you guessed it ÷ bottled water. It's so cheap, safe and doesn't take up that much room.

÷ THE MARINA AS AN ADDITIONAL BENEFICIARY

I've recently noticed that some marinas demand that you include them in your boat insurance as an additional beneficiary. Even though they say it doesn't cost anything extra, where is the insurable's interest that the marinas have in the boatowner's insurance?

If the marinas are so generous, please, please have them put me down on their life insurance as an additional beneficiary ÷ I would really have pleasant dreams ÷ like winning the lottery and just possibly giving me new ideas and incentives.

Frank William Newton
Res Ipsa Loquitur

Frank ÷ We put your primary question to several harbor-masters, none of whom claimed to have an explanation ÷ other than "it's always been done that way at our place". But here are their three top guesses why the marinas also want to be named beneficiaries on boat policies: 1) It means that when Boat A slams into Boat B in their marina, the owner of Boat B will go after Boat A's insurance company rather than the innocent marina's insurance company. 2) If a fire starts on Boat A in the marina and spreads to Boat B, Boat C, and Boat D, Boat A's insurance company will be responsible rather than the innocent marina's insurance company. Both 1) and 2) sound fair to us because we believe that people ÷ even if only through their insurance companies ÷ should be responsible for their mistakes. 3) It's a way to make sure that all marina tenants actually do have insurance. While in the States, we prefer to be in a marina where everyone is insured ÷ just as we wish the state were serious about requiring that all drivers have car insurance. Finally, 4) Like it or not, it's a way for marinas to weed non-insured boats ÷ which are usually the prime candidates for slamming into other boats, catching fire, and otherwise generating lawsuits ÷ out of their marinas. (Of course, when was the last time you ever heard of a boat catching fire in a marina?)

We see a connection between boats in a marina and the marina's potential liability. What we don't see is a connection between some stranger's life insurance and you ÷ or, for that matter, dreams, the lottery, new ideas, or incentives.

÷ ABYSMAL RESPONSE LET IT BURN, BABY, BURN

There was a mariner's nightmare at Oakland's Embarcadero Cove Marina on the morning of May 4 ÷ a runaway fire involving multiple boats. However, to many observers ÷ myself included ÷ the real story is the apparent ineptitude of the Oakland Fire Boat Sea Wolf and her crew.

The fire started at the far end of the docks ÷ the ones facing Coast Guard Island ÷ on a 40-foot houseboat. Because of unusually stiff winds, the fire quickly spread to the 40-ft cruiser in the next downwind berth. Folks nearby started fighting the fire with regular garden hoses, but within minutes both boats were completely ablaze and the fire was spreading to nearby boats.

The Oakland Fire Department responded quickly enough, but they were hampered by having to lay fire hose some 250 yards from their trucks down the docks to the fire ÷ all the while avoiding bowsprits, dock boxes, and the like. By this time ÷ with both boats burning uncontrollably ÷ people were letting other nearby boats loose to avoid destruction. Wind-whipped flames and burning debris blew over the adjacent docks to my boat, a wooden 38-ft Chris Craft, and those of my neighbors. We hosed down our boats using the dockside fire hoses ÷ thanks, Port of Oakland ÷ but the water pressure dropped, leaving us with but a trickle.

Clearly, this was a time for the fireboat. When the Sea Wolf arrived half an hour later, we all expected her crew to: 1) Quickly attempt to put out the fire; 2) Try to save the boats that were in immediate danger; 3) Spray down the boats under the plume of burning debris; or 4) All of the above. But they did none of the above! A basic tenet of firefighting is putting the wet stuff on the red stuff as quickly as possible. Nonetheless, the Sea Wolf positioned her stern some 30 yards upwind of the fire ÷ for 10 minutes or more ÷ before mustering a squirt! And when some water came out, it came from the bow nozzle which was pointing away from the fire!

Following a rush to the stern nozzles, the firefighters finally got them going and knocked down the fire in about five minutes. Within 10 minutes, the blaze was going again. Instead of turning on the fire boat's hoses again, the crew leapt off the boat with hand-held extinguishers ÷ which were totally inadequate for the task at hand. When this attempt failed, they started the fire boat's main pumps and nozzles again, and finally ÷ with the help of the firefighters on the dock ÷ completely extinguished the fire.

The toll? Two boats totally destroyed, several others badly damaged, and two people injured.

What a number of civilian observers believed we saw was just how incapable and incompetent the Oakland fire boat and crew were in the face of a fire. If there is a fire on a boat in the Estuary and this is the best the fire boat and crew can do, all the boats berthed there are in danger. Had the wind shifted some 45°, the fire would have traveled straight down the docks enveloping a great many more vessels along the way ÷ resulting in an 'Oakland Hills fire' of the Estuary.

Only a fire boat can adequately fight a fire on a boat. And based on what we saw, the Sea Wolf isn't capable. We boatowners should not delude ourselves into believing the boat and crew are prepared to fight a fire. Whether because of equipment failure, lack of training, or ineptitude ÷ or a combination of all three ÷ the Sea Wolf's response to this disaster was abysmal!

Henry Laney
Oakland

÷ USE A GOOD NET TO LAND YOUR HALIBUT

Your May Letters section had some incorrect corrections to my April article on halibut fishing from sailboats.

Don Pearson wrote that it is not legal to use a gaff on a halibut. On the contrary, it is perfectly legal to gaff a legal size ÷ 22-inch ÷ halibut as per Department of Fish and Game rule 28.65 (c). However ÷ as I should have mentioned in the article ÷ you also must have a landing net onboard when seeking saltwater fish with a minimum size. So I guess you're supposed to net the fish, check its size, and then gaff it! Anyway, I strongly recommend using a good net to land your halibut.

The letter also pointed out that California halibut grow to 48 inches ÷ rather than the 36 inches stated in my article. In fact, the largest recorded halibut in California was 60 inches and weighed 72 pounds! But most halibut caught in San Francisco Bay are 36 inches or less ÷ which should still feed about a dozen hungry sailors.

George Clyde
Astraea
Berkeley Yacht Club

÷ FOREIGN BOATS IN THE UNITED STATES

I need to know a little about U.S. regulations involving non-resident and non-U.S. citizens keeping a boat in U.S. waters.

IČm a Canadian who lives and works in Africa most of the time, but visits North America for vacation several times a year. I never spend more than four months a year in the United States. As a Canadian residing abroad, can I keep a boat in U.S. waters for private use? And if so, for what period of time?

Peter E. Howard
Halliburton International, Inc.
Porto de Luanda, Luanda, Republica de Angola

Peter ÷ Wow, two letters from Angola in just one month! Our African distribution program really seems like it's starting to pay off.

When a foreign-flagged vessel enters U.S. waters, the master must report her arrival to U.S. Customs within 24 hours. Nobody is allowed to leave the boat until she has been cleared in. In order to clear, the vessel's master must present a complete and legible manifest consisting of Customs forms 1300 through 1304, and a passenger list, to Customs. (See http://www.cus-toms.ustreas.gov for copies of the forms.) In order to complete the clearing in process, masters have to pay fees for formal entry, the permit to proceed, and for clearance.

The next thing the master of a foreign-flagged vessel will want to do is get a cruising license. Such a license exempts pleasure boats of certain countries ÷ Canada, for example, but not Angola ÷ from having to undergo formal entry and clearance procedures, meaning the filing of manifests and obtaining permits to proceed, as well as from the payment of tonnage tax and entry and clearance fees ÷ at all but the first port of entry.

Cruising licenses are good for one year. What about getting an extension or another cruising permit? "Under Customs policy, upon expiration of the vessel's cruising license, that vessel will not be issued another until it again arrives in the United States from a foreign port or place and more than 15 days have elapsed since the vessel's previous cruising license expired."

If you don't want to take your boat out of the United States, just pay the 1.5% import duty ÷ which is a pittance compared to what most other countries charge. Better still, just buy and register your boat in the United States, where the supply is plentiful, prices are low, and you won't have to worry about cruising licenses.

÷ PERFECT SAILING

I have just received a copy of the May issue of Latitude and was pleasantly surprised by the excellent and extensive review your magazine devoted to our recent VII International Banderas Bay Regatta 1999 that took place from March 18 through the 21st of this year. Thank you very much!

Indeed, we are quite privileged in being able to call this part of Mexico our home. Bahia de Banderas has, as you mentioned, all the of the attributes for perfect sailing and cruising all year round. In addition, now that the entrance channel to Nuevo Vallarta has been dredged, we hope to make our annual event even greater ÷ and of course more fun than ever.

Your participation with the beautiful catamaran Profligate was indeed awesome, and we have already listed her for entry in the year 2000.

Terrance O'Rourke
Director, Regatas Y Deportes Maritimos, Bahia de Banderas

Terrance ÷ Our praise was sincere, so you can indeed count on Profligate to be there again in 2000. We will also be encouraging as many other cruisers as possible to participate in this fun regatta.


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© 1999 Latitude 38