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WELCOME TO COLDHEARTED CALIFORNIA

I'm writing to tell you about our visit to Crescent City, the first harbor we've visited in California. We arrived on a beautiful day with our 1965 Columbia sailboat, but decided we had to stay for awhile because a storm was on the way. Despite the forecasted storm, we were told we had to anchor out rather than tie up at a dock.

The storm hit late on November 7 with winds blowing up to 62 knots. Our anchor broke free and we ended up having to cut the line so we wouldn't run aground. We ended up pinned against a pier. Even though we're both disabled, we had no choice but to climb from our boat onto the pier during the storm.

Soaking wet and very cold, we told a harbor employee what had happened and asked if there was some place we could get out of the weather. He told us to wait in front of the harbor office until he could return, because he had other things he needed to check on! He knew full well that we were soaking wet and that the front of the office offered no protection from the wind.

We stood out there in the cold for at least half an hour before we were finally able to flag down the very nice couple who own the crab boat Honey Gale. They let us spend the night aboard their boat ÷ for which we will always be grateful. Thank God for the kindness of strangers.

The next morning we were able to rescue our boat, but she had suffered a lot of damage. IČm just glad she's built like a tank or she would have been a total loss. Our boat is our home ÷ and she could have been our coffin.

When we confronted the Harbormaster the next morning she just smiled ÷ and nodded to her workers that it was all right to let us tie up to a dock without water and electricity. What bothered us the most is the fact that the harbor personnel just didnČt care about us or the hell we had been through. All they cared about was being paid for the dock they let us tie up to. I sure hope the rest of California is not so uncaring and coldhearted.

Amanda Taylor and Wesley Sauer

Wanderer

Amanda & Wesley ÷ We don't know the specifics about your case, but it seems that too many government employees ÷ and all politicians ÷ are completely unclear on the concept of being a 'public servant'.

NAKED ON THE FOREDECK IN A HOWLING GALE

In last July's issue, you published a letter from us asking for advice on how to get berths crewing on a multihull in the 2000 Ha-Ha. You suggested that we place an ad in your fine publication, which seemed like a good plan. However, before we got around to it, we received an offer from a couple looking for someone to crew on their Fiji 39 catamaran. This seemed too good to be true, and they said they just had a few questions to ask us. Here are the questions:

"1) Do you drink? 2) Do you smoke? 3) Do you like to party? 4) Do you know First-Aid? 5) Do you like Jimmy Buffett tunes? 6) Does your wife know how to mix drinks? 7) Are you sexually active or do you prefer sheep? 8) Do you have any objection to standing naked on the foredeck in a howling gale and letting the wind and sea caress your body, stimulating your secret desires? 9) Do you object to being punished when having done something wrong, by being spanked (gently) or by being switched with brush strokes across the buttocks? 10) Do you object to the skipper wearing pantyhose and high-heeled pumps while parading around the deck with a cat o' nine tails? If your answer to these questions are satisfactory to us, we may entertain the possibility of your presence on our boat. Please submit your bank statements, account balance and PIN #. Sincerely yours, G. & S. Kuperis, CČest Si Bon II."

It just goes to show you there are some sick puppies out there! By the way, we will be departing the Seattle area with these sick puppies in August and heading south for the start of the Ha-Ha 2000. It turns out they are actually friends of ours who saw our request in Latitude.

Rob and Linda Jones

Whidbey Island, WA

NEXT YEARČS HA-HA DATES

I realize it's early and that the '99 Ha-Ha Rally from San Diego to Cabo only recently finished. But we're planning to join the Ha-Ha next year and would appreciate getting the dates and information when it becomes available.

Ken and Cath Machtley

Felicity, Tashiba 31

Ken & Cath ÷ The Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party will be in San Diego on October 29, the start on the 31st, and the awards ceremony in Cabo on November 11. The dates are a little bit later this year because the Ha-Ha folks want to take advantage of a full moon at the end. As for additional details, they'll be available in May when the Grand Poobah comes out of winter hibernation.

One word of caution. You know how stock brokers had to say "past performance is no guarantee of future success?" It's the same with the Ha-Ha. Just because there were great and gentle sailing conditions for the last several Ha-Ha's, everyone must prepare as if we're going to be hit by some real nasty stuff. So everyone thinking about entering should spend the time between now and the start honing their sailing skills and making sure their boat's basic systems are in top condition.

WE WOULD LOVE TO NEVER HAVE INSURANCE

We cruised the waters of Mexico from '95 to '99, and often discussed the pros and cons of insuring one's boat while cruising. One argument put forward by the 'no insurance' crowd was that you pay premiums, but if you ever need to file a claim, that's when the real headaches begin. We had insurance ÷ but hoped we'd never have to find out if it would be a pain to file a claim.

At the end of our Mexican cruising years, we shipped our boat back to a boatyard in Tacoma, Washington ÷ which managed to drop the mast on the foredeck! Nanook was insured with Barnett Insurance of San Diego ÷ now merged with Blue Water Insurance ÷ so our first call was to Mike Barnett.

It took a few weeks for us to compile all the estimates and three more weeks for the insurance company to approve the amounts and Fed Ex the paperwork. But just 11 weeks after the accident, we'd received a check for the full amount of the damage ÷ slightly over $12,000.

We would love to have never had to place an insurance claim. We would also have been happy to not have had to pay premiums for the years prior. But if an accident does occur, IČd rather be insured than not. Our experience with Barnett / Blue Water was 100% positive.

Most cruisers we met donČt have the resources to comfortably afford the loss of their boat. Therefore, we strongly believe that cruising without insurance is foolhardy.

Rick and Christie Gorsline

Nanook

Tucson, Arizona

THANKS TO THE SSS

In 1997-'98, I attended a series of Singlehanded Sailing Society seminars at the Oakland YC to prepare myself and my Targa 32 Kaneloa for a passage to Hawaii. Although the commute traffic to the Oakland YC from Palo Alto was painful, the information disseminated by the guest speakers was invaluable. I listened, asked a lot of questions, and subsequently participated in a couple of Doublehanded Farallones Races.

Then, starting on June 27 of last year, I singlehanded Kaneloa out the Gate and 18 days later arrived at Lahaina, Maui. I arrived in the Islands none the worse for the wear ÷ although there had been some. For example, I wasn't able to eat or sleep the first two days because of gale conditions. Furthermore, I lost the use of my engine halfway across after getting a fishing net wrapped around the prop, and lost a lower shroud when the swaged-on terminal parted.

After cruising through the Hawaiian Islands ÷ Maui, Molokai, Oahu and Kauai ÷ I departed on August 4th with a crew that consisted of Rich Lessor and his 12-year-old son Richard. During our 24-day return trip to San Francisco, Rich ÷ who had already made the crossing seven times ÷ made an unsolicited comment that the Kaneloa had been well prepared ÷ especially after doing some minor repairs and jury-rigging of two of the boatČs port stanchions. I thanked Rich and explained to him that the preparation of the boat was primarily due to the information I had received from the Singlehanded Sailing Society. Thank you, SSS.

Terry Kane

Kaneloa, Targa 32

San Francisco

Readers ÷ With the Singlehanded TransPac taking place this summer, these seminars are being held again this year. Call (510) 769-8952 for further information.

SAD NEWS FROM LINDA AND JOHN MARTIN

We have some very sad news. My husband Jack and my 18-year-old son John were involved as passengers in a head-on collision near Opua, New Zealand on November 30. Jack died at the scene of the crash. John suffered a stable wedge fracture in his T-ll vertebra, but fortunately the prognosis is for a full recovery. I thought Latitude might publish this letter about our cruising together and to let others know about Jack.

It has indeed been a long time since our travels in Panama, the last time we wrote to Latitude. In June of '98 we sailed south to Manta, Ecuador, where we spent three months making land-based friends, touring the Andes from Quito to Cuenca, and staying in the jungle of the Amazon Basin with a local Quichua family.

The next five months we explored several northern coastal cities and ancient Indian ruins among the sand dunes of Peru. Lima and Callao brought us in touch with the Yacht Club Peruano, and there aren't enough words to express what a fantastic club it is. Jack and John raced in their 'big boat' series and their J/24 series. The club is a jewel and we had a top-notch haulout while there. In addition, club members invited us into their homes and to their beach cottages.

During this phase of the trip, we were also able to explore Cuzco; hike the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu; visit the floating reed islands of the Uros and the Quechua Indians on the island of Taquilla; travel the Colca Canyon; stay with friends in La Paz, Bolivia, over Christmas; and then with more friends in the beautiful city of Cochabamba, Bolivia, for New YearČs.

In late February of '99, we left for Arica, Chile. The harbor was too hazardous to leave the boat, so we continued on to Iquique, Chile. The foulness of the harbor ÷ a lead-gray, chemical cesspool where fish, birds, and sea lions were dying by the score from fish meal plant emissions ÷ was only exceeded by the rudeness of the small-time board of directors of the 'yacht' club. We would highly recommend bypassing this port, and within five days we'd set sail for Pitcairn Island.

Thirty-nine days later ÷ we had very little wind and we were loaded down with tuna which would bite bare hooks the minute we dropped them ÷ we arrived at Pitcairn, one of the worldČs most unique and friendly islands. We spent three days exploring the island, attending church services, visiting various homes, and having dinner with Tom Christian ÷ Flectcher's descendant. While there, we also met Jimmy Cornell and some of the other Millennium Rally boats.

April found us in the Gambier Islands, followed by a nine-day 'on-the-nose' sail to Raivavae in the Australs. Our visit was considered a special occasion by the people of this isolated island, who gifted us with beautiful woven hats, bags, shell necklaces, fruits, and flower crowns. This all happened at their Thanksgiving feast, which featured roasted pigs, chickens, fish, poi, taro, and other native dishes served upon banana leaves and eaten with the fingers.

Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora ÷ we rode our bikes around these islands and snorkeled and dove in their waters. We found Moorea and Bora Bora to be particularly beautiful. Suvarrow, in the Cooks, was exceedingly special as we became friends with the three hospitable caretakers: Tom, Tom, and Sante. It was nesting time for the sea terns at Suvarrow, the coconut crabs were plentiful, and there was a large number and variety of shells. Snorkeling the outside wall and the surrounding reef was terrific.

By August, we had reached Pago Pago, American Samoa, the source of American canned tuna. The beauty of the island was smothered by the blight of a welfare society. At this point, Linda returned to Port Townsend to visit her family while Jack and John did a 'father and son' cruise through Western Samoa and Tonga, arriving in Opua, New Zealand on November 20. All that went without a hitch.

After ten days, Jack and John decided they would join Linda's parents in renting a place in New Zealand for 18 months, during which they would travel in New Zealand and Australia. After that, the plans would be updated once again. But that's when tragedy struck.

On Tuesday, November 30, Jack and John were picked up as a courtesy by Ocean Outfitters so they could shop at their store in Opua. Within a stoneČs throw of the marine store, the Land Rover in which they were passengers was involved in a head-on collision. Jack died at the scene of the crash of internal hemorrhage, and John sustained a stable wedge fracture on his T-11 vertebra. Praise God that this will heal without incident. John spent three days in the hospital and will now wear a back brace for at least six weeks. He must remain flat on his back or standing during his recuperation, after which he should recover with the help of physical therapy. He should recover completely in about six months. He turned 18 on December 4.

The cruising communities throughout New Zealand have come to our side during this period of intense pain. During the two days it took for Linda and her parents to reach JohnČs bed

side, friends were with him around-the-clock. In addition, they have been there at the drop of a hat to meet any need. The outpouring has been tremendous. While on the plane to New Zealand, Linda met a man from Whangarei who is giving her his extra car to use for almost nothing. A member of the Opua Cruising Club is giving them his mooring ball free of charge. Another Cruising Club member from Opua is letting them stay at his Bay of Islands beach resort at his cost ÷ and this is during the high season. These people have been wonderful. These people are wonderful. With the healing time that John will require, plus arrangements with the NZ government, and the sale of TJ, the family plans to be in NZ at least three months minimum. Jack would want them to see the country and would encourage them to go to Australia as well. He will travel with them in spirit. Jack, John, and Linda have a deep faith in Christ and know that He will cover them with His love and care. While they grieve the loss of Jack terribly, they also look forward to tomorrow.    

Linda and John Martin

Teresa J

Whangarei, New Zealand

Linda & John ÷ We're terribly sorry to hear the news. If there is any consolation, we suppose it was that Jack seemed to be living life to the fullest right up to the end.

WITH AN ARTIST'S PICTURE

Now just a minute! I've been reading Max Ebb for some 20 years and never have taken serious exception to his sometimes outrageous assertions. But I'm surprised to find that something he wrote had sufficiently raised my ire to overcome my normal state of apathetic lethargy and take to my keyboard to object.

In the December Max feature on Christmas Gift Ideas For Sailors, he also lists Gifts to Avoid. In this latter category he includes "anything with an artistČs picture of a sailboat on it". It is to this recommendation that I take appropriate umbrage.

I used to buy sails from a guy who for some reason ÷ probably having to do with male menopause ÷ decided that he wanted to go off and paint sailboats. The rest, as they say, is history ÷ and Jim DeWitt now enjoys the success he so richly deserves. LetČs hope that Max was just beset by a somewhat premature senior moment and forgot about Jim DeWitt when he penned the offending item.

P.S. I send this note anonymously so that Jim wonČt think IČm kissing up just to get a free print!

DeWitt Fan

Northern California

D.F. ÷ We're certain that Max was referring to the typical renderings of sailboats by artists who don't have a clue about boats. We've all been exposed to far too many nautical impossibilities ÷ boats carrying chutes sailing upwind into breaking seas, mainsheets attached to tillers, boats heeling to windward ÷ by know-nothing artists. The Spinnaker Restaurant in Sausalito and the Bank of America in Sausalito are home to several hideous examples, but there are countless more.

As for Jim DeWitt, he's not only a great painter, he's original. As such, the organizers of the Heineken Regatta in the far-off Caribbean island of St. Martin have commissioned him to do their regatta T-shirts and are flying him down to sell his other artwork. We're proud to have a large DeWitt painting of Big O hanging our front room, and we currently have him working on a similar-sized painting of Profligate. It's a no-brainer, because when you get a DeWitt, you get it right and you get art rather than kitsch. By the way, Jim's new gallery opened last month in Point Richmond, so stop by and say hello sometime.

RANGERS AND LIFERAFTS

IČve been reading Latitude for 16 years now, and have enjoyed seeing how the magazine and your opinions have evolved. You provide a great deal of useful and entertaining information to a wide variety of sailors.

In the October issue, Christian Albert of Tampa Bay asked for information on the Ranger 28, a boat designed in the mid- '70s by Gary Mull. I have owned one for 16 years and have her berthed in Alameda. I sail the boat frequently and thoroughly enjoy how well she sails and how pleasing she is to the eye. The maintenance has been pretty easy, as I've had no blisters, and no major problems with the nuclear power, rigging or deck leaks. I wonČt sell my Ranger 28, but anyone in the market for a 28-footer would do well to find one ÷ although not that many were made.

Thanks to Latitude I found a website, <www.sailnet.com/boatcheck/directory.cfm>, that has comments from a seemingly well informed Ranger 28 owner. All I have is the original ownerČs manual ÷ which doesnČt say much. Anyone who has or is interested in Ranger 28s can contact me at <varner@etec.com>.

I now want to make some bitches about safety gear.

My first bitch is with the designers of the new inflatable PFDs. Have any of them ever tried to use the oral inflation tube? The three models I have looked at have the tube hidden inside the cover. Once you find which side it's in, the tube is still very hard to blow into. And it's even harder to deflate. The fellow who tragically lost his Farrier trimaran ÷ and nearly his life ÷ in the last Doublehanded Farallones Race would have greatly benefited from a readily available oral inflation tube. He told me that the manual pull cord on the CO2 bottle became tangled and thus wouldnČt work when needed.

I have a U.S. Navy inflatable vest worn by guys on the flightdeck of carriers. The oral inflation tube works great, is well exposed, easy to blow into, and has a locking ring. I keep the vest part way inflated and give it a good squeeze every week to make sure the bladder still holds air. It also comes with a strobe light, die-marker, whistle and dual CO2 cartridges. Although the inflatable vest is comfortable, for daysailing I prefer a non-inflatable vest I got years ago from North Sails. It seems to me that life vest manufacturers are paying more attention to fashion than function. These devices need to work in the worst of circumstances, when the wearer is in the cold water and freaking out because the CO2 didnČt work and his/her life is at stake.

My second bitch is with the designers of safety harnesses. Just hold your arms up over your head and ask a friend to pull up on the harness ÷ and you'll find out they'll come right off. Note the experience of John Campbell of Seattle, who was washed off the vessel Kingurra in 1998's tragic Sydney-Hobart Race. His mates tried to pull him back on board by his tether, but the harness ÷ integral to the foul weather coat he was wearing ÷ slipped right off over his head! IČm sure he still thanks whatever god he believes in for the copter that rescued him some 40 minutes later.

The only harnesses that really work have leg straps. But can you imagine a manufacturer marketing something like that to the general boating public? No way, it's not fashionable enough.

In about '84, I bought a harness for my then 5-year-old son. The sweet old lady who ran the Jack London gas dock on the Oakland Estuary back then took one look at how it fit my son, removed it, and sewed it up ÷ for free ÷ to take the slack out. Although we never needed to use it, I still remember her common sense and thank her.

We, the sailing public, need to demand more from the designers and manufacturers of life-saving equipment. Think before you buy.

Jeff Varner

Ranger 28, Full Circle

Pacifica/Alameda

SIMPSON-LAWRENCE TOOK RESPONSIBILITY

Much is being written to and for sailors about liferafts and safety equipment. Last year, a San Francisco Bay Area raft re-packer ran into difficulty while attempting a re-certification and repack of a borrowed Plastimo raft that I needed for a September cruise originating from Vancouver. As the departure date came closer, it became evident that the re-packer would not be able to complete the repack and certification in time. Fortunately, Simpson-Lawrence, the parent company of Plastimo, took responsibility to make sure I had an operable, certified raft onboard. And I mean they really took responsibility on my behalf!

Safety is such an important issue for mariners that it was comforting and gratifying to receive such support from the parent company. Simpson-Lawrence not only stood by their product, but provided me with customer service and support well above and beyond customary retail standards. It befits the importance of safety at sea and the product they sell. I want to publicly commend them.

Stephen Reed

Santa Cruz

Stephen ÷ All other things equal, we suppose the next time you're shopping for marine gear, you'll keep your eye out for products made by Simpson-Lawrence or one of their subsidiaries.

LAST SAIL

Thanks for your great photo of our boat on pages 108-109 of the November edition. It was of our last sail on Mouille, a Liberty Cup Beneteau 305, and we were flying the spinnaker as we went out ÷ that's right ÷ the Gate. We sold her a short time later to a Ventura sailor.

The KZ sail insignia was, I guess, because she had a Kiwi rock star driving during that Liberty Cup weekend back in 1986 when a number of these boats were brought to America to race. We never did get a good translation of her French name, Mouille. Maybe somebody could help.

Last time you got a photo of one of our boats was of our J/24 Varuna as she was leaving the St. Francis YC in the middle of a Volvo Regatta after losing her mast. Thanks for that photo, too, I guess!

I need to know how to get a couple of prints of that November photo ÷ which actually helped me close the deal with the new owner. I'm going to give one photo to the new owner.

As for us, we're leaving the Bay after 20 years and returning to Ireland ÷ and some Dragon racing.

Thea and Paddy Bishop

Northern California

Thea & Paddy ÷ Photos are $25 each, and a bit less if you order more than one. Contact annie@latitude38.com to make arrangements.

It's come to our attention ÷ primarily through the mostly mediocre sailing photos we receive from Ha-Ha entries ÷ that few boatowners have decent photographs of their boats. We're going to try to help remedy that. As some folks know, we've completely refurbished a Bertram 25 flybridge sportfisher to be Lati-tude's new photo. So on specific days of the upcoming season, we're going to announce that we'll be on station in a specific area ÷ off Point Blunt, between Alcatraz and Pier 39, under the Gate, to name a few examples ÷ to take color action shots of any boats that sail by. We'll then list the names of boats we got shots of in the magazine.

F.D.R.'s claim to fame was a 'chicken in every pot'. Ours is going to be, 'a great sailing action photo on every sailor's wall'. So start buffing the hull and polishing the brass.

APPRECIATING THE RIGID DINGHY

In his Rigid Versus Inflatable letter in the November issue, Derek Warton requested some information on the Fatty Knees fiberglass dinghy. We have an ancient one that has, because we anchor out 95% of the time, put in lots of service in seven years. It had already put in several years of service with her original owner. Along with her 4 hp outboard, she's been great.

You really appreciate the benefits of a hard dinghy when making landings on rocky shores or when hitting a rock-strewn beach. While some 'fat wheels' would be a nice addition, we've never added them as it's been fairly easy to drag the Fatty Knees up the beach ÷ even in places like Playas del Coco in Costa Rica where the tidal range is great.

Owners of hard dinghies are quick to point out that a hard dinghy will row better than an inflatable. Nonetheless, rowing is often not an option, particularly where there is a strong current or if you don't have much patience. The biggest limitation on hard dinghies is that you usually can't use much more than a 4 hp outboard, so long trips are slow and tedious. As pointed out several times in Latitude, having a dinghy that planes would be a real pleasure.

The biggest asset with the Fatty Knees is that it is repairable ÷ and on deck, if necessary. Ours has been stoved in twice in recent years, but a gallon of cheap polyester resin and over-priced packaged fiberglass cloth made for quick repairs. I even redid the whole bottom, although it's stronger than it is beautiful.

A bonus with the Fatty Knees is that with the purchase of an optional sailing kit, it can double as a sailing dinghy. This has given my wife and guests many hours of pleasure in picturesque bays. You can also snorkel off of it, using the stern to ease in and out of the water. But if the truth be told, it's not as stable or easy to get in and out of as an inflatable.

If one is willing to partially compromise the sealed flotation compartments, you can add access ports to the front and rear seating to store flares, tools, anchor, rope gaskets, spare prop, pins, canteen of water, lots of light rope, sunscreen, and the like. Life jackets, of course, should be stored in the open, as well as a flotation pillow for knees.

Realistically, heavy daily dinghy use means abuse and constant insults to the poor critters. We've found that our Fatty Knees has been up to the task. A rude dock nail, splinters, a sharp beach rock or a shell beach will mar the bottom– but not ruin the day.

Bob Neumann

Adventure

(Currently in) Great Bridge, Virginia

OUR EPIRB INDICATED IT WAS FUNCTIONING; IT WASN'T

We just had a frightening experience with our 406 EPIRB that I thought your readers would want to know about. I bought a Litton 406 EPIRB before going on our first cruise with Omar Khayyam in 1994. This year, after spending a year cruising Mexico and six months in the South Pacific, I brought the unit back to the States to have the five-year battery replaced ÷ as specified in the manual. When cruising, we tested the unit every month and before every significant voyage. The test light always indicated that it was functioning properly.

When I contacted Litton regarding getting the unit serviced, I was told they'd sold their EPIRB business to Guest. Guest sent me a list of their authorized service facilities, and I sent the unit to one of them, Westpac Marine Services in Tacoma. A couple weeks later, I got a call. They reported that although my EPIRB indicated it was functioning properly in the 'user-test' mode, that it was in fact only sporadically sending out a signal ÷ and often on the wrong frequency. As such, if we had had to activate it in an emergency, a satellite would not have been able to get a position fix on us ÷ even if it did pick up a signal!

Apparently theyČve tested several Litton/Guest units that indicate they are functioning properly when in fact they aren't. Westpac said one of the units they tested that had given a 'false positive' during user testing was aboard a commercial fishing boat that was getting ready to head out to Alaska. Having discovered the problem, the boat replaced its EPIRB before leaving. Four weeks later the vessel went down. The crew was rescued from their liferaft ÷ thanks to having a new EPIRB that was functioning properly.

From now on, weČll be having our EPRIB tested by a test facility at least once a year. That way, if we ever have to activate it in a real emergency, we wonČt be sitting around in the liferaft with a stupid grin on our faces, feeling confident of rescue when in fact our EPIRB is doing a 'lightČs on, nobodyČs home' routine.

Larry Gilbert

Omar Khayyam, Hans Christian 43 ketch

Honolulu/Alameda

Larry ÷ So was your EPIRB repaired or replaced? And who paid for it? Has anybody else had this problem with their EPIRB?

REPAIRING BOAT GEAR

I'm writing about Jim Cochran's November letter which discussed how to successfully import boat gear to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Besides strongly seconding CochranČs endorsement of my good friend Vilma Habelloecker, I do have some input on CustomČs requirements for repairing or replacing parts on foreign boats in Mexico. You need to take the to-be-repaired equipment to Customs before taking it out of the country. To do this you will also need to bring the Temporary Import Permit for your boat. Customs will fill out a form called a Exportacion Temporal, Aviso De Registro De Aparatos Electronicos O Instrumentos De Trabajo. There is no charge for this document, but it will enable the bearer to re-import the repaired equipment duty-free. Getting such a form is not a new requirement, but the law is now being more uniformly enforced. Thanks to Vilma's help, it took me less than an hour to get the document when I left on November of last year.

I also wanted to thank Latitude for the nice article about the last Banderas Bay Regatta ÷ as well as the first one way back in '91. There are many factors that make this event such a success, from all the volunteer workers, to the cruising boats, to the supporting businesses. Since it's unabashedly a cruiserČs regatta, we rely heavily on the input from the cruising community in organizing each successive regatta. The racing portion of the event is planned to get maximum cruiser participation ÷ although we welcome all levels of racers. Banderas Bay and her great sailing conditions, of course, are the real stars of the show.

I participated in the '87 Sea of Cortez Sailing Week out of La Paz and at Isla Partida. That event was such great fun that I thought we should do something similar on Banderas Bay ÷ with the added advantage of consistently better wind conditions. So take a bow for indirectly being the inspiration for the Banderas Bay Regatta.

Paradise Village Resort, Spa and Marina has also played a big part in the last three Banderas Bay Regattas. They are very cooperative in all regards and offer a good package that enables us to charge a price for the four-day event that is well within the budget of most cruisers.

Finally, there is my friend Terry OČRourke, who several years ago realized that a not-for-profit corporation was needed to organize and run such an event on an annual basis. Since Banderas Bay is shared by two states, he set up a corporation for each state ÷ a necessary arrangement because of politics and territorial sensitivities. Terry is without doubt the principal force behind the regatta, and we are very lucky to have such a person leading us. He selflessly gives of his time and other resources to make each yearČs production better than the last one. Ironically, Terry is not a sailor but rather one of the most qualified powerboat skippers anywhere. He is the owner and skipper of the beautiful Hatteras 58 El Moro, which he has had for over 26 years. I know Terry will be upset with me because he does not seek the limelight. Even so, I think his role in this event should be acknowledged.

Gene Menzie

Nereus

Puerto Vallarta

Gene ÷ Thanks for the report on the temporary export permit to get marine gear repaired and re-imported duty-free back from the States. We recently visited with Vilma and she showed us the required form.

As for the Banderas Bay Regatta, it's a fantastic cruisers' regatta based in a terrific setting that features mild but reliable sailing conditions and outstanding local support. The racing is only semi-serious and lots of fun, and the socializing is first-rate. We applaud Terry O'Rourke, Paradise Marina, and everyone else who has had a hand in making it such a success. We'll be there again with Profligate on March 23-26 ÷ and encourage all other cruisers in Mexico to be there also. If you have friends cruising in Mexico, this is the perfect time to join them, as the regatta is terrific and so is the nearby pre- and post-regatta cruising.

THE COAST GUARD OFFICERS REFUSED PAYMENT

As a long time sailor and reader of Latitude, I have followed the many letters describing encounters between local mariners and the U.S. Coast Guard. Thus it was with some apprehension that I accepted a midnight tow out of the Golden Gate shipping lanes on a windless night in early December when my diesel refused to start.

Coastguardsman Ryan Sanford piloted the new 44-foot surf rescue boat out of Fort Baker to haul me out of harmČs way. Later, he helped me retrieve an errant jib halyard from the masthead, and opened the Coast Guard showers and locker room for my use. Meanwhile, Brian Wheeler correctly diagnosed my engine problem as a cracked fuel supply line. Repairs were quickly made and I was soon on my way.

These two Coast Guard petty officers refused any payment for help rendered beyond the call of duty. Both were courteous, professional and very helpful. Their attitudes and efforts reflect a command structure obviously focused on producing good public relations.

Curt Hagan

San Mateo

Curt ÷ As we've said several million times before, our Coast Guard is the best in the world. Our only problem is when they're given strange and unconstitutional marching orders from their superiors in the Department of Transportation and the White House.

ONCE I STOPPED THE JACKSON IN 1.53 MILES

With time our memories fade, at least that is the case with me. Maybe the Wanderer, too. The nearly 1,000-foot container ship President Jackson that I was the captain of when the Wanderer was aboard would not, as Latitude has written, drift along for much more than six or seven miles with her engines shut down. And never 50 miles. I know I like to think it was longer, too.

A couple of further clarifications. The big container ships owned by American President Lines and others have a turning circle of about 2,000 to 2,500 feet. And from 25 knots, I once emergency-stopped the Jackson in 1.53 miles as a test. Normally it would take over two miles. But remember, the 'big boys' only run at such high speeds at sea and not in the Gulf of the Farallones or in the Bay. The big tankers are a bit more cumbersome, as they have half-mile turning circles and greater stopping distances. The safest path is always a wide berth favoring the stern of the large ships.

I still read Latitude, which is truly great, and wish I had more time for sailing.

Gary M. Schmidt

SYZYGY

Bainbridge Island, WA

Readers ÷ A number of years ago, after Schmidt and other American President Lines captains had skillfully rescued sailors from several foundering boats, we wrote to ask if we might be able to join a container ship for a short trip. The result was one of the most fascinating 18 hours of our lives as Capt. Schmidt's guest aboard the state-of-the-art President Jackson for the trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

We thank you once again, Gary, for that memorable and educational trip. And we thank you for the corrections and clarifications. We could swear that somebody told us that you shut down the engines at Davenport and drift up to the Lightbucket, but perhaps we misunderstood someone telling us you start backing off from maximum speed at that point.

SLOPPY CHAIN

In the December issue, Barney McCloskey wrote about a "metallic clink" he hears when he starts to turn the wheel on his Lady Barbara. I experienced a very similar problem with my Cal 36 Whispering Si. The noise also drove me batty, as no matter how much we investigated, we couldn't find the source of the noise.

Since the noise didn't seem to be getting any worse, and since it didnČt seem to be causing any problem, we more or less gave up on it. We figured if this was the worst we had to live with on a medium size boat literally filled with gadgets, c'est la vie!

As a matter of fact, IČd grown so used to the sound IČd nearly tuned it out. Then one afternoon, while tacking in 20 knots of wind off Sierra point, I discovered the sound really was indicative of a problem, because we lost our steering! After quickly fitting the emergency tiller to the rudder head, we removed the pedestal cover to investigate.

It was then that I discovered that the chain which transfers the wheel motion to the steering pinion had come apart at the turnbuckle. It seems that the jam nut had loosened, allowing the threaded barrel to unscrew itself. The resulting slack in the chain allowed it, when heeled enough to bring gravity into play ÷ to slap against the inside of the pedestal. Thus the mystery of noise only happening when sailing to windward and only during the initial turn of the wheel ÷ further turning would only cause the chain to drag across the inner surface of the pedestal ÷ was solved.

All this is my long-winded way of suggesting that McCloskey check to see if there is too much play in his steering system's link chain.

Don 'One Eye' Fleischer

Whispering Si, Cal 36

Monterey

IT'S TOO BAD BECAUSE WE REALLY LOVED CARTAGENA

Imagine our surprise at seeing your article on Norm Bennett of Club Nautico in the November issue. We were at Club Nautico until April of last year, and the stories were flying about.

Having been cruising two years now, we know about rumors. It was said that Norm had just bought a big condo ÷ like $250,000, which is a lot of money in Cartagena ÷ for his wife. Furthermore, the boat docked next to us at the marina was a lovely one from Scandinavia ÷ and her owner was also said to be a guest of the Colombian government. In addition, drug stories floated all around the place and Canderleria, Norm's wife, was seriously zonked much of the time.

Of course, nobody showed us any evidence that Norm was guilty of anything, and we're not saying he is. Nonetheless, if we were in your editorial position, we'd exercise caution.

We really loved Cartagena, so it's too bad that we would now be hesitant to recommend that anybody go there with the current situation ÷ unless they had more specific information on things. There's an even worse problem, for as my husband says, "Colombia has the most beautiful women in the world." To which I can only reply, "The men's eyes also twinkle."

Two Anonymous Boat Bums

Who Wish To Remain Anonymous

Boat Bums ÷ When you're anywhere in Colombia ÷ including Cartagena ÷ rumors of drugs deals are as common as poverty. After all, Colombia is to coke and pot what Saudi Arabia is to oil. And rumors are just that, rumors. Furthermore, Norman is well known for having kicked scores of boats out of Club Nautico that seemed as though they were there to arrange a smuggle. Two other things to remember: Having run a successful marina for nearly 20 years and owning some now very valuable land, Norm should have had no problem being able to buy a $250,000 condo. Indeed, if he'd been into drug smuggling, he could easily have afforded hundreds of them. While it's also true that Candelaria was/is, as you put it, often "zonked", everyone knows Norm's passion was alcohol not drugs.

Are we 100% sure that Norm Bennett is innocent? No. But we have lots of reason to think he very well could be. And we are 100% sure that he hasn't received the legal safeguards that anyone accused of anything should be afforded.

Cartagena seems to be getting a little scarier all the time ÷ except to the people who have been there recently. Check out the following letter.

CARTAGENA IS A TERRIFIC PLACE

We just received our November Latitude and were surprised to see a story about Cartagena, Columbia ÷ which is exactly where we are. Cartagena, a terrific place, is a city built within an old Spanish fort that's still in excellent condition. There is no garbage laying around the streets, nothing is in disrepair, and the people are the friendliest we've met in our years of cruising. We are staying at Club de Pesca because we draw eight feet and therefore can't get into Norm Bennett's Club Nautico. Contrary to the information you were given, Club Nautico remains almost full. In the next month or so we'll write more about Norm Bennett ÷ he's no relation, but he's still incarcerated ÷ and our recent cruising.

No matter if you're coming from or headed to the Canal, Cartagena is definitely a 'must see'. We plan to stay through Christmas as there are so many things to do and see. Right now they are having a fishing/sailing tournament here at the club, and for $30 U.S. we get shirts and other souvenirs, as well as breakfast and dinner for four days! In our estimation, the best part of the Caribbean ÷ and by a country mile ÷ is the southern part. And Cartagena is a big part of it.

Another current subject in Latitude we'd like to address is PinOak, which has been trying to stop Sailmail from expanding and the Seven Seas Cruising Association from setting up their own SSB-based marine email station. We have been members of PinOak since the beginning. Their system never worked for us on the Pacific Coast, but it's been flawless in the Caribbean.

Latitude's comments about PinOak's Peter Detwiler are right on the mark. As best I can figure, PinOak is a real cash cow so he will be willing to spend large sums of money to keep Sailmail from expanding. In the 'life's not fair' category, big companies can often pay lawyers large sums of money to get their desired results simply because government regulators have no sense of urgency. We have just joined Sailmail and wish them the best as there is a real need for their service.

P.S. If you find Peter Detwiler difficult to talk with, speak with his wife Linda, a far more pleasant person.

Peter Bennett

Destiny, Swan 46

Knightsen, CA

Peter ÷ As reported in further detail in Sightings, the F.C.C. dismissed all PinOak's charges against Sailmail, clearing the way for Sailmail to start a second station in the Carolinas to provide cruisers in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Med with better email service.

Several other cruisers who have recently been in Cartagena agree with you that it's still a wonderful place. On the other hand, cruisers who were there even just two years ago believe the situation has been deteriorating rapidly. Thanks to a system of 'honor among scoundrels', Cartagena has always been a 'free city', meaning no matter if you're a left wing guerilla, a right wing militia, part of the military, or member of rival gangs, you don't 'hit' your enemies while in that great city. You can certainly do it anywhere else in Colombia and even shoot down a commerical airliner to accomplish your goal, just not in Cartagena.

While tourists still seem to be quite safe within Cartagnea city limits ÷ nobody should be caught on the roads outside of town after dark ÷ it's not the same for residents. Indeed, many Cartagenans are selling their homes in an attempt to cash out and flee the country. But our sources tell us that the day after a home sells, the former owner is likely to have a child abducted and held for a ransom that equals the exact amount of money they netted from the sale of their home.

We'd still take our boat to Cartagena, but we'd be even more careful and sensitive to developments than we were just a few years ago.

SOMETHING PHONY

Like Latitude, I can't get too worked up about yacht clubs that charge for what supposedly are free reciprocal guest dock privileges. But I don't think it's as minor an issue as you folks believe.

When a reader complained about being charged what might as well have been a dock fee at the Encinal YC, you mentioned several other clubs and their policies. Some charged for guest docking, some only charged after a couple of days, and some didn't charge at all.

I think if the concept of charging for reciprocal guest dock privileges spreads, it changes the yacht club system everywhere and forever. And that would be a loss, as clubs are important to new sailors, sailing in general, and the marine industry. The system of free reciprocal privileges should be preserved.

The idea is not whether every club can offer facilities that are as good as other clubs. Rather it's more like 'from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs' ÷ at least as this old commie sees it. To me it doesn't matter if the Corinthian YC has beautiful premises and Island YC nothing much at all; the important thing is that each club offers what it has.

I think it's wrong that my late friend Phil, who as a member of the Vallejo YC had to pay 15 bucks at the San Francisco YC for his 21-footer, while at the same time a San Francisco YC-based 40-foot powerboat stayed at the Vallejo YC for several days without even spending a dime at the bar. Even my friend Phil, who couldn't afford to dine at the San Francisco YC, spent some money at the bar. By the way, Phil was an old-timer who introduced many people to sailing, first in Richmond, then Berkeley, and in his last years around Vallejo.

I agree with the author of the previous letter about this issue: something is phony when clubs charge for reciprocal privileges. The problem could be resolved if the members of clubs that charge for their guest dock either not use the guest docks of other clubs, or if they do, pay whatever their club would have charged.

Elaine Harper

Oakland

Elaine ÷ The concept of reciprocal privileges ÷ like the concept of communism ÷ sounds great in theory but doesn't work out so well in the real world. Perhaps the biggest problem is that there are different yardsticks of equality. For example, Sailor A ÷ who pays just $50 a year to belong to a yacht club with few facilities ÷ might see it as equitable for members of all yacht clubs to reciprocate with the use of whatever facilities they have. You know, the old commie idea of 'all yacht clubs are created equal'. On the other hand, Sailor B ÷ who paid $5,000 to join a yacht club with a plush facility and docks on a prime spot of the Bay, and another $150/month to keep it in top condition ÷ is more likely to view reciprocity as only being equal when it involves clubs with similar member costs and facilities. In other words, reciprocity based on a capitalist 'market rate'. Under that system, two star clubs would reciprocate for free with all two star and below clubs; four star clubs would reciprocate for free with all four star and below clubs ÷ that kind of thing. Those who wanted to reciprocate with clubs that had more stars than theirs would have to be willing to open their wallets.

As best we can figure out, the current reciprocity scheme among clubs is sort of a sloppy mix of the two systems outlined above.

HIS DREAM, HER NIGHTMARE

I've never seen an article in Latitude on the subject of how couples work out the problem of cruising being 'his dream, her nightmare'. I know marriages have failed over cruising, but I've never seen an article on how some couples manage to work it out. Nonetheless, keep up the good work, as you keep the cruising dream alive for more people than you know.

I've put this off long enough, but I also want to thank Latitude for the great evening sail on Profligate last summer. I was one of those who got a free pass while at the Crew Party. The sail really made a believer out of me when it came to catamarans. Wow ÷ was she ever fast, fun and comfortable! It was also the night we passed by the huge boat anchored off Sausalito.

Dave Chiodo

Northern California

Dave ÷ Thanks for the kind words. The boat anchored off Sausalito was the new 155-foot Hyperion, built with a small fraction of the profits Jim Clark made from endeavors such as Silicon Graphics and Netscape.

Here's a figure that's likely to surprise you: the percentage of cruisers who are married is actually higher than that of the general population. We can't remember where we read that, but we believe it's true.

Nonetheless, it's common for couples new to cruising to consist of a male who is gung-ho about it and a female who is less than enthusiastic. When the couples are younger and childless, usually the woman either comes around to enjoy cruising or the relationship eventually founders on the shoals of dissimilar interests. If the couple has kids, they often cruise for a season or two and then return to the 'real world'. In the case of older couples ÷ meaning those with children who have left the hearth ÷ it's sometimes common for the male to keep cruising while the female visits from time to time or goes home to play with the grandkids during the more arduous passages. In many cases it seems to make the relationships even stronger.

Anyone care to comment?

NEW RUNWAYS ARE UNNECESSARY AT SFO

Building two new runways into the Bay at the San Francisco International Airport is totally unnecessary. It is nothing more than a craven scheme by construction interests to waste several billion in tax dollars ÷ and incidentally despoil the Bay in ways that are currently unpredictable. Modern technology in the form of the already-existing Precision Global Positioning System can safely and efficiently land aircraft in the thickest fog on the existing 750-feet apart runways.

The following appeared in the December 1998 issue of Flying, the worldČs most widely read aviation magazine:

"In September, a Continental Airlines MD-80 made the first use of a differential GPS system for a precision approach and landing of a commercial revenue flight . . . The MD-80 was guided to a decision height of 200 feet above ground level by the Honeywell/Peloris Satellite Landing System (SLS-2000), the first GPS landing system to receive Federal Aviation Administration acceptance for its ground-based system and supplemental type certification for the airborne avionics . . . [This system] creates a precision approach path with an accuracy of one meter horizontally and two meters vertically, and advises the airborne system of the health of the satellites . . . The GLS creates a precise line in space so the guidance provided to the cockpit is rock-steady."

While current FAA regulations do require over 4000 feet of runway separation when conducting flight operations on parallel runways in periods of reduced visibility, these regulations can be changed or a waiver obtained based upon the aforementioned technological advances. And since technology in this area tends to improve over time, the system can only get better and safer in the years ahead.

Granted, for the last 96 years pilots have liked to see where they are and where they are going with the eyes God gave them. But if the truth be told, the captain and first officer of a modern commercial airliner have more in common with the managers of complex computer systems than someone flying a Piper Cub into a cow-county airport under visual flight rules. Since commercial aircraft can land simultaneously and safely at SFO with a 750-foot separation on parallel runways 28Left and 28Right on a sunny afternoon, they can also do so, if properly equipped, with the same level of safety in a pea soup fog. The only reason to build new runways is to provide employment to Airport Commission staffers and to allow some big construction firms to grow fatter at the public trough.

Harlan E. Van Wye

Orinda

Harlan ÷ A number of articles we've read concur with what you're suggesting. We don't have the expertise to evaluate such a system, but given the rapid progress in technology ÷ if we can bounce space vehicles off Mars, surely we can keep planes 750 apart ÷ we suspect it's both possible and safe. We figure that the solution would appeal to all but anti-technology environmentalists, too.

WHEN IN ARGENTINA, VISIT THE MUSEO NAVAL

I just returned from a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I knew that as a major seaport on the Rio de la Plata and the last important stop before Cape Horn, Buenos Aires has had a long maritime history. With that in mind I went looking for their museum.

I found the Museo Naval De La Nacion one hour out of town on Tigre Island, the last stop on the commuter train that goes along the north coast. The museum was closed, but since the curator saw my burning curiosity, he let me in for a few hours. I thought our San Francisco Maritime Museum was big, but the Museo Naval is huge! It has models of every possible type of ship that has ever floated; models of 'armed to the teeth' steam riverboats; ancient charts; the H.M.S. BeagleČs log; a tide predicting machine; and more paintings of naval battles than IČve ever seen in one place.

Lehg II, Vito DumasČ sailboat, is housed in the museum with the building designed to accommodate the mast and keel. Both Lehg II and Gaucho ÷ in which Argentines retraced ColumbusČ voyages ÷ were actually built in shipyards around Tigre. Captain Santiago de Liniers, a Frenchman by birth and Naval Chief of the Rio de la Plata, attacked the Brits from Tigre after the British had taken possession of Buenos Aires. Admiral Guillermo Brown, whose sea battle decorated tomb is prominent among those in the Recolleta cemetery played a tremendously important role in organizing the young Argentine Navy and fighting major battles at sea and in the Rio de la Plata.

I was so impressed with their maritime history, the museum, and the museum's potential to be a bigger tourist attraction, that I contacted the Argentine consulate in Los Angeles and suggested that they make a travelling exhibit to take to different countries. By the way, if anyone has been to Argentina, they've no doubt seen all the turn-of-the-(last)÷century buildings made of wrought iron, iron frames, marble, brick, with glazed terra cotta and crystal chandeliers. Almost all of this was imported by sailing ship ÷ imagine all the ballast ÷ from Italy, France, Belgium and England.

Ken Sund

Windsor

HONOLULU

I recently talked to Mayor Jeremy Harris of Honolulu, who is trying hard to improve their economy. When I told him about the miserable state of affairs for mariners in Hawaii, and that some sailing magazines even warned cruisers to avoid the Islands, he asked if I could find copies of those articles or letters. He says he'd like to make things better for mariners.

Would you have any back articles or know of any other publications which warn boaters about problems in Hawaii?

Dennis Ruediger

Honolulu, Hawaii

Dennis ÷ We don't think any sailing magazines have suggested that cruisers "avoid" the Islands, but rather that cruisers just not expect much. While Hawaii seems like it would be a great place to sail, about its only 'cruiser friendly' features are the warm air and water, and the Hawaii YC.

On the negative side, Hawaii has a number of inherent drawbacks: It's a long way from anywhere, the often rough and windy channels are hard on all but the most experienced sailors, and because of their volcanic orgin the islands have very few natural anchorages. Of course, the government certainly hasn't made Hawaii any more attractive to visiting mariners. What few marinas there are, for example, have long waiting lists and are in deplorable condition. In addition, harbor employees rarely have any interest in boats ÷ and it shows. On rare occasions, harbor employees have been outright hostile to visitors.

If Mayor Harris wants to understand why Hawaii isn't popular with cruisers, he can get a hint by taking a stroll around Honolulu's Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. The spacious and fortuitously located facility should be a magnificent and bustling world class marina surrounded by tropical vegetation. Unfortunately, under the state's uninspired stewardship, it's become an inefficient and delapidated boat haven with all the tropical charm of a Sacramento industrial park. The citizens of Hawaii and visitors deserve better.

BEAN BAGS FOR BOATS

IČll be racing the Doublehanded Pacific Cup this summer and have lots of things to check off my to-get list. One item is a bean bag chair that is designed for boats in that it can be dried out and has a marine canvas cover. Unfortunately, I lost my notes on the name of the Bay Area woman who makes them. Can you or someone else help?

Brian Larky

Sonoma

Brian ÷ We can't help, but we'll put the word out.

CATS AT SEA

With the growing popularity of multihulls, many people are curious what it's like offshore on a cruising cat as opposed to a monohull. We're not authorities on the subject since we've only done a bit of vacation cruising on a monohull, but here are some observations based on sailing our Kennex 445 Moondance from California to Australia during the last 12 months:

Speed: Our Kennex is a typical production charter/cruising cat in that she was built more for accommodation and comfort than performance. As such, she has fixed keels as opposed to retractable daggerboards, and weighs a little bit more than she has to. Nonetheless, based on longer passages with other boats, we seem to have about the same speed as a typical 50-foot cruising monohull ÷ which means about 150 miles/day in the variable winds of the Pacific. The main thing we've learned is that the key to catamaran speed is staying light, but we've compromised on that a bit. Indeed, it's a case of where all the extra storage space available on a cat can actually be a disadvantage. Monohulls are inherently much less sensitive to additional weight.

The two areas where we're a little disappointed in our cat's performance ÷ and this is common to just about all production charter/cruising cats ÷ is her ability to point and her ability to maintain her speed when motoring into large waves. While daggerboards would certainly help with the upwind performance, there is a major benefit to fixed keels we'll discuss later.

Chutes and Speed: What we've learned most about 'cruising speed' is the importance of having a good downwind sail configuration ÷ especially for light air. We carry two spinnakers on the boat ÷ and have a sewing machine aboard specifically for spinnaker repairs. One great thing about cats is that they are so wide that a spinnaker pole isn't necessary. This makes flying the chute much easier and safer than compared with our experiences aboard monohulls.

Motion and Comfort In A Breeze: One of the major reasons we bought our Kennex was because of her 28-inch bridgedeck clearance from the water ÷ although we've lost a couple of inches by adding all our cruising gear and toys. The greater the clearance, the greater the comfort in larger seas because you don't get waves slamming against the bottom of the bridgedeck.

We've sailed many miles in 20 to 30+ knot winds, and based on radio conversations with nearby monohulls, believe the comfort factor on our boat has been relatively high. And except for the more extreme conditions, we never really needed to stow much. For example, we make coffee every day with a funnel and filter sitting on their own on the galley counter. There have only been one or two days in our entire crossing of the Pacific when we've had to secure the pot.

Rather than making big adjustments for the heeling and rolling common to monohulls in sloppy seas, on our cat we've had to take into account a quick and choppy motion we call 'The Moondance'. The two motions are entirely different, and we think the latter is far less unpleasant. In fact, there have been several occasions when cruisers sailing downwind on monohulls have reported such boat-flopping discomfort that we've found it hard to believe we were on the same passage.

In a pleasant surprise, we're amazed at how dry Moondance has been in rough weather. Her wide beam seems to keep most of the spray out of the cockpit. In addition, we've never totally buried the bow, nor have we ever had a wave break over the side or stern. The difference is that cats float on top of the ocean while monohulls float in the ocean.

The Most Nerve-Wracking Aspect of Cats At Sea: A common problem with our cat ÷ and most others ÷ in following seas is that waves will periodically come up under the bridgedeck and give it a good slap. These slaps ÷ which some cat sailors refer to as 'bombs' ÷ can be loud and powerful enough to startle us and make things on the salon table jump into the air. The noise and slapping motion require some getting used to on each long passage. We don't think there's anything comparable on monohulls, but it's definitely the most annoying aspect of having a cat in bigger seas. The higher the bridgedeck, the fewer 'bombs'.

Safety: We've come to appreciate the comfortable motion of our boat and the ease with which we're able to move around. We think both of these things makes it safer when we have to make sail changes or do other maneuvers. The all-around visibility from inside the salon is another major safety feature.

The one safety disadvantage with most cats is that they don't heel, so there are no obvious clues that it's time to reef. And being overpowered is a much more serious problem on a cat than a monohull. The experts say you reef to the lulls with a cat while you reef to the gusts in a monohull. As we've gained experience, we've become much better at dropping the chute or reefing the main when we should as opposed to waiting too long. We've also learned that when the wind has come up, you lose very little speed by dropping the chute or reefing, the motion greatly improves, and you have less to worry about.

Comfort On The Hook: Perhaps the most dramatic difference we've noticed between our boat and monohulls is the rocking at anchor. We're rarely aware of any motion at anchor. We suppose that everyone gets used to the motion of their boat, but when we visit on monohulls, we notice a tremendous difference in the motion. On the other hand, if you like marinas, it's much easier and less expensive with a monohull. So far, however, we've only been turned away from one marina because of a lack of space.

Hauling Out: A monohull can be hauled at just about any boatyard, but the same cannot be said for multihulls. And even when a cat can be hauled, it's sometimes a challenge. On the other hand, the fact that we have fixed keels as opposed to retractable daggerboards means we've been able to beach our boat in many places for inspections and maintenance. This has kept us from putting off minor fix-ups and increased the time between major haul-outs.

Overall: For a family such as ours with two young boys, a cat has meant that the boys have their own cabin ÷ and the separation of the two hulls has afforded us some much appreciated privacy. We also really enjoy living 'upstairs' in our salon, which gives us a great view of everything, as well as the big cockpit, which is wonderful for ourselves or when we have guests over. If we were shopping for a cat today, we'd love to have a bit more room in our cabin and a bunk that wasn't chest high.

The Matzkes

Palo Alto / Darwin, Australia

HORIZON GLASS

Call me old fashioned, but IČd like to be able to use my recently-purchased U.S. Navy sextant. It's a Mark II made in 1942 by Ajax Engineering. Unfortunately, the horizon glass is missing. Do you know where I might find a replacement?

Mike Doyle

Perchance, C&C 38

Sacramento

Old Fashioned ÷ What's a sextant? Seriously, we don't know where you'd find a replacement horizon glass ÷ but maybe one of our readers does.

I SCREAMED POLITELY

While reading Letters, I've occasionally seen reports of outrageous rates for calls from Mexico to the United States. Well, I recently made a collect call from a lobby phone at Coral Hotel & Marina in Ensenada to my wife back in California. We spoke for seven minutes ÷ and I was subsequently billed for $37.50.

So I contacted the Operator Service Provider (OSP) and screamed politely. I was immediately awarded a $15.52 reduction in the charge ÷ although no reason was given. I felt the situation was developing smartly, but I was still not satisfied with the settlement, so then I wrote to Dana 'the surfer' Rohrbacher, my congressman, and detailed my position. He forwarded my complaint to the Federal Communication Commission, which then wrote to the Operator Service Provider, a firm in San Luis Obispo. OPS then agreed to refund to me $21,98, the balance of the charge. The refund was made with some prompting from me, as the company went into 'slow pay' mode.

My point is this: If you feel you've been gouged, go to work. If you donČt want to deal with your congressperson, particularly if you pointedly havenČt voted for him/her, go over the top to the F.C.C. Chief, Consumer Protection Branch, Enforcement Division, Common Carrier Bureau, Washington, D.C. 20554 The operative line is 'Chief, Consumer Protection Branch'.

Robert E. Tumelty

Fascination, Ranger 33

Alamitos Bay

Robert ÷ Way to go, as some of these phone companies are real scumbags. For example, just try to find a public phone in Mexico that will connect you with an AT&T operator. Most of them won't.

SILICONE OVER STRENGTH

We readers are well aware of the unsated suckling instincts of your photo editor and/or his chain of command. The bikini bra-ed beach bimbettes that color so many of your pages speak volumes about your preference of silicon over strength, and cleavage over character.

So you could imagine my reaction when my partner, perusing the November issue, called my attention to another chest shot ÷ this one belonging to a man. "Not as good as yours," I quipped. "Look again." He was all wet ÷ but only in the photo. They were his ÷ in a photo dating from the Pleistocene era of Baja cruising! When you dredged up the aforementioned image you also snagged a photo taken by him. Years ago you printed it backwards ÷ in an admirable effort to leave lovely spots to be discovered. In this issue, however, you erroneously credited both photos to 'LATITUDE/RICHARD'. Tsk. Tsk.

Janet Welch

Heron

Port Townsend, WA

Janet ÷ When readers object to things we say or do, we prefer that they confront us directly with specifics rather than making vague references and generally beating around the bush. For instance: Which bimbettes? What silicon? What photo of your partner in the November issue? Furthermore, please cut the 'tsk tsk' condescension. We're not six-years-old and you're not our Sunday School teacher.

We think you're being foolish if you think you can tell anything about our "unsated suckling instincts" ÷ or anything else except that we're sex-positive and heterosexual ÷ by the photos of women wearing ÷ gasp! ÷ bikini tops in photographs that appear in Latitude. Furthermore, we think you're an even bigger boob for inferring that women with cleavage or breast augmentation are necessarily weak bimbettes devoid of character. Indeed, if you're such an accomplished boobologist, suppose you give us a thumbnail character analysis of the young woman in the accompanying photo ÷ and we'll tell you how accurate you are.

The fact of the matter is that we publish photographs of women who are part of sailing or sailing events ÷ and as such reflect at least some part of the real sailing world. Indeed, we'll venture that most of the women who have appeared in bikini tops in Latitude have twice the sailing skills and ocean experience that you do.

As for the photo your partner allegedly took, you may well be correct. We have an archive of about 250,000 negatives we regularly dig into, and 99% of them were taken by Latitude staff members. A few were taken by various skippers of our boats and others, and got slipped in with the rest. The shot we think you might be referring to was taken about 17 years ago ÷ and from the same angle several more times since then. If the photo credit was incorrect, it was certainly unintentional ÷ and we aplogize for it.

By the way, if we've followed all your many clues correctly, we're guessing that your partner is Willie Smothers. He was a fine and reliable person and captain back when we knew him, and we hope he's still able to enjoy sailing as much as ever.

BAADS HAS ENABLED ME TO CONTINUE SAILING

I am writing on behalf of the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS). IČve been sailing on San Francisco Bay for nearly 20 years and have long been a loyal reader of Latitude.

Approximately 10 years ago, I developed numbness in my fingers and blurred vision. This went away after a few weeks ÷ only to return again the following year with more severe symptoms. Despite the fact that my doctors told me that I may have multiple sclerosis, I continued to maintain an active lifestyle, sailing my Santana 22 and working as a registered nurse in a special intensive care unit at ChildrenČs Hospital in Oakland. Despite my best efforts to maintain my health and my lifestyle, a little more than two years ago I had to stop working and sell my boat.

However, BAADS has enabled me to continue sailing and to share my skills with other members anxious to enjoy the fantastic conditions the Bay has to offer. BAADS is an active group of both able-bodied and disabled sailors, with many programs including the following:

1) Sunday Sail Classes, where skippers give free drop-in sailing lessons year 'round. 2) Various Group Events. Several times a month from May through October we have sail outings for groups of disabled people. 3) Monthly Meetings. These are held on the third Sunday of each month, are open to all, and are usually followed by a sail or speaker ÷ or both. 4) BAADS Annual Regatta. During this event we select teams to represent Northern California in championship races for disabled sailors in Chicago. 5) ASA Classes. These are held as needed to qualify members as skippers.

Up until recently, BAADs had three adopted boats ÷ an Ericson 27 and two Freedom 20s ÷ which sailed out of South Beach Harbor in San Francisco. Fortunately, a Ranger 29 was recently donated to BAADS, which will allow us to expand the program to Berkeley. The city recently opened a new dock with excellent wheelchair access and offered us a free berth. Although the Ranger is in good condition, she will require numerous modifications so that people with disabilities can take her helm.

BAADS has no paid staff and is primarily funded by donations, so if any Latitude readers would be interested in helping ÷ a little investment goes a long way ÷ they should call (415) 281-0212. BAADS is a federal tax exempt non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Having been certified by the United Way, donors can now designate BAADS as their beneficiary by indicating donor code #82056.

Bill Goebeler

Berkeley

Readers ÷ BAADS is a terrific organization in which qualified disabled skippers ÷ including totally blind people and quadriplegics ÷ often take full responsibility for outings, choosing their own crews to conduct classes, participate in local races, or take others to explore the Bay. So call the number listed above or send your donation directly to the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors, Box 193730, San Francisco CA 94119-3730.

We at Latitude hereby offer BAADS the use of our 63-foot catamaran for one day on the Bay this summer, either for fund-raising and/or to take their members sailing. Furthermore, if anyone contributes more than $300 to BAADS, we'd be happy to make you and a friend our guests for a summer evening cruise on the Bay. So go ahead, be BAADS!

DREADFUL COOKING DESTROYED THE EMPIRE

At risk of getting tedious about the history of NelsonČs opponents at the Battle of Trafalger, you might like to know that both Latitude and Woolward of Dublin are half right. The Royal Navy ships defeated a combined Spanish and French fleet, which had the French Admiral Villeneuve in overall command. The loss at Trafalger was only one reason for Napoleon to abandon his planned invasion of Britain; the other was that the British subsidized Austria and Russia to attack France on land.

It might be wondered how the Brits succeeded against a more numerous fleet manned by equally brave and skillful crews. One reason was the incentives; the British crews were paid 'prize money' for each enemy ship captured and sailed back to the United Kingdom. The other was the high-tech guns. British naval guns of the era were fired by musket locks ÷ flintlocks ÷ which ignited priming tubes filled with mercury fulminate which set off the main charge. This was much more certain and rapid than the slow matches used by the other side. It also allowed the gun captain to aim from the end of a long lanyard, out of the way of the recoil, which encouraged greater accuracy.

It is to be hoped the editorial interest in British history will not lead to an alteration in Latitude? Longitude 00 perhaps? As a Brit myself, I fear one result of the Empire was the spread of cricket and dreadful cooking over much of the world. Although we can take credit for the English language ÷ an apparently unpromising amalgam of Low German, Norman French and admixtures of Spanish, Dutch and even Hindi and Urdu ÷ would Latitude be possible if written in Chinese or Greek?

The British Isles are largely populated by the descendents of Danish and Norwegian Vikings, and Normans who were once removed Vikings. If one reads the captions in the splendid Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde near Copenhagen, there seems to be a sense that the Scandinavians are well aware of this and take a quiet pride in the way their cousins have built wooden ships and spread all over, taking the language with them.

Michael Barton

Sunnyvale

Michael ÷ As we mentioned a couple of issues back, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire makes for great reading ÷ and a greater understanding of why the world has turned out the way it has.

ADVENTURE AND CAMARADERIE

A note from Ocean Lady, now basking in Mazatlan! A brief but intense storm blew over this morning, rolling with thunder, ringing with rain, dousing us with fresh cool water and the promise of a new beginning after days on a tumbling sea. It was wonderfully refreshing. And so was the Ha-Ha '99! Kudos to the Wanderer and his gang of hearty souls who orchestrated that incredible maneuver of shoving all boats from the safe shores of San Diego and catapulting them into the undulating relentless melee that is Mexico.

Were it not for the Wanderer's enthusiasm and relaxed grace under pressure serving as a benchmark for the cruising spirit, I'm sure we would have succumbed to lesser valleys and missed the peaks many a time over the past years of our participation. We heartily encourage anyone who has ever had a taste of the cruising spirit and yearns for it, whether it be adventure and camaraderie on the high seas, or partying when the deed is done, to participate in this outrageous foray into fun.

To the Wanderer and the crew of Latitude, thanks again for getting us back to where we belong ÷ in the sunshine of life!

George Gliksman and Pamela, dogs Lucy and Lana

Ocean Lady, Willard 60 motoryacht

Placerville

Readers ÷ George Gliksman, who years ago sailed a Cheoy Lee 36 on the Bay almost every weekend, wrote the first cruising guide to Trinidad and was absolutely instrumental in that island being transformed from a sleepy sailing backwater to perhaps the Caribbean's major hurricane season storage and repair center. In fact, he's still trying to get back there and to his 55-foot Marco Polo schooner Symphony.

During a season of cruising Ocean Lady in the Pacific Northwest, George and Pamela made two major observations: 1) It was both extremely beautiful and extremely wet, and 2) That the cruising powerboat community is nowhere near as friendly as the cruising sailboat community. In fact, they've twice joined the Ha-Ha very specifically to once again develop friendships with cruising sailors.

I SHOULD HAVE SENT YOU TO KNITTING CAMP

Hi! Heather, this is your dad. Thank you for the Latitude 38 magazine you sent to me. We loved the pictures of you in the Ha-Ha and are overjoyed that you returned safely.

However, the magazine has totally destroyed my plans ÷ like I make any ÷ and has cost me a day-and-a- half 'cause I can't put the damn thing down. It's one hell of a mag! I canČt believe how much they pack into it or how much I enjoyed a lot of stuff that I probably only half understand. Sailmail versus PinOak and (S-T-A-L-I-N), for instance. I especially enjoyed the letter on the bottom of page 84, The Ha-Ha: A bunch of Partying Drunks on Their First Overnight Sail?. It restored my faith! Actually, I'm getting close to having read every page of the magazine, including the ads, and am getting ready to re-read it. All that not to mention the stuff that I can worry about on your next offshore sail ÷ such as unsafe inflatable liferafts and unmanageable sea anchors. It blows a lake sailor's mind!

Thanks again for sending me the Latitude, although now I wonder if I should have sent you to knitting camp back when you were nine years old instead of Lake Lanier Sailing Club Junior Week. Oh well, IČve made lots of mistakes while doing almost everything right.

Heather Boyd's Dad

Lake Lanier Sailing Club, GA

Readers ÷ Heather Boyd was a last minute addition to Profligate's 11-person crew. We include the above photo of her with some mates at 'The World's Smallest Bar' in Cabo after the finish to assure her dad that she was in good hands.

THEY WERE PROBABLY NEVER LEGAL

I just had to comment on Robert ChaveČs questions on running lights in the November issue ÷ and Latitude's reply. It's not that the hull-mounted lights have become illegal ÷ they were probably never legal to start with. And the fact that they're mounted in the hull isn't the problem, either.

The running lights he is referring to ÷ at least on Catalinas ÷ were originally designed to be mounted on cabin trunks that are parallel to the keel line. If mounted in such a way, and if the design was correct to start with, then it would display a light "from dead ahead to two points abaft the beam", or 112.5 degrees abaft dead ahead. If that same light fixture is hull-mounted at the bow, and the bow forms an angle of, say 25 degrees, with the keel line, then the light is no longer shown from dead ahead to 112.5 degrees. The light will be shown from 25 degrees towards the opposite bow to 87.5 degrees abaft the bow. Unfortunately, this would leave a gap of 25 degrees on each side of the boat where no running light is shown.

I strongly suspect that the fixtures in question were not very precisely designed in the first place, so the actual numbers are highly questionable. But I think that if one were to check carefully, it would be discovered that there are indeed some gaps in running light coverage with these boats. If you're owner of a boat of this type and you sail at night, IČd be very careful to maintain a watch ÷ and not be surprised if someone runs up on your beam rather closely.

Tom Daggett

Sandpiper, Catalina 42

San Pedro

Tom ÷ We called Dave Graas in Tech Support at Catalina Yachts, the company that probably sold more boats with hull-mounted lights than anyone else. Graas says Catalina stopped using the lights as original equipment in the late '80s, but the lights on the old boats are still legal and replacements parts remain available.

"Nonetheless, if the owner of an older Catalina calls to order a replacement hull-mounted light," says Graas, "I recommend that he/she replace them with running lights that mount on the pulpit or a masthead tricolor for better visibility when under sail." Graas cautions that you have to choose the right running light for the right application. For example, masthead running lights and anchor lights can be almost worthless on inland waters such as the San Francisco Bay Delta and the Florida Keys, because folks roaring around in powerboats ÷ drunk or sober ÷ never look up. On the other hand, deck level running lights are hard to see in big swells out on the ocean.

The best and most expensive solution is to have pulpit mounted running lights ÷ which, by the way, can also be installed out of alignment if one isn't careful ÷ and a masthead tricolor. You use the deck level lights when on inland waters and the masthead tricolor when out at sea. It's illegal, of course, to use both deck level running lights and a masthead tricolor at the same time.

IT TAKES PRACTICE

Latitude recently published a letter from Mike and Joyce Creasy under the title Storm Tactics and Para-Anchors. It described the Creasy's experience in large seas and gale force winds near Point Conception with their Wauquiez 43-foot cruising ketch.

With 35 to 40 knots of wind blowing, the 20-year sailing veterans hove to until the winds increased, causing their ketch to "fall off waves and waltz around more than before". The result was that she often ended up beam to Force 8 winds. The Creasys then deployed their para-anchor, which is precisely the appropriate action needed to maintain a hove-to position in deteriorating weather. With the para-anchor deployed, the Creasys reported their ketch repeatedly swung 40 degrees on either side of the wind.

Having tested para-anchors in similar circumstances, I recommend the following: 1) Trim your rudder, 2) Trim your sail(s), or 3) Readjust the angle of your boat to the wind by shortening or lengthening the bridle. Whenever you need to buy time for making such adjustments, move your rudder into the position(s) that settles your boat down. Of course, the best scenario is to have one person at the wheel and another adjusting the rigging.

The Creasys further describe how their "boat was bucking so wildly" that their bow roller was damaged. This type of motion results from a boat falling off the waves. When a boat sits in the trough of a wave, windage is reduced, causing reduced tension on the anchor rode and reduced drag from the para-anchor. As the boat rises on top of the wave, it is blasted by wind that can cause the bow to swing heavily to port or starboard ÷ especially if your boat is not balanced or your para-anchor is rigged improperly. The 40 degree swing ÷ which should be abnormal when riding to a para-anchor ÷ creates a great deal of force that quickly places tension on the anchor rode and maximizes the drag force from a para-anchor. The end result is your bow is jerked head into the wind ÷ an uncomfortable experience that can do damage to the vessel.

Whether or not you use chain or nylon rode through a bow roller, fairlead, chock, or hawsepipe, I advise using high-pressure hose as chafe gear. Metal on metal ÷ as in a chain rode scraping on the bow pulpit ÷ can be as destructive as metal on nylon. Instead of chain, I prefer to run nylon rode off the boat. A nylon rode is easier to work with, it doesnČt bang against the hull of your boat during retrieval, and you wonČt lose your para-anchor because of chafe. Just be certain your chafe protection is durable and it doesnČt slide out of place.

After an uncomfortable night, the Creasys decided to retrieve their para-anchor and sail off. But while attempting to drive up on their anchor rode, they discovered they'd lost their steering due to a broken quadrant. Under normal circumstances, motoring up to a retrieval float at the end of a partial trip line is the easiest approach. Sailing in under a trimmed mainsail under similar circumstances would take the skill of seasoned sailors such as the Creasys. In either case, you can boat hook the float and pull in the collapsed para-anchor.

The broken quadrant placed the Creasys in a difficult position where they couldn't retrieve their para-anchor. The Creasys still felt that "driving up on the para-anchor would still have been terribly difficult." On behalf of Fiorentino Para Anchors, I have tested para-anchors off many different vessels in dozens of gales and storms. I remember on one occasion having a difficult time retrieving a 12-foot para-anchor that I had deployed in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The retrieval was not complicated by the 45 knots of wind, but by white caps and breaking seas coming from two different directions. The 15-foot waves, which were very close together, slammed into the bow of our Catalina 30, bounced me around the deck and drenched me in cold Washington water. It took an hour for me to manually pull in the 300 feet of anchor rode. Retrieval is much easier with rolling waves and when distances between them is greater.

If the Creasys would like some assistance, I will be glad to bring a Para-Anchor rigged for their boat, where we can practice deploying and retrieving the anchor under conditions they choose. Like anything else, it takes practice to perfect the use of any equipment, and the Creasys have made a good start.

Zack Smith, Technician

Fiorentino Para Anchor

Newport Beach

Zack ÷ Your reasoned response and unbeatable offer suggests that you have tremendous faith in the product you represent. We hope the Creasys take you up on it and report back on the experience.

IČVE GOT ENOUGH PROBLEMS

I just wanted to thank you for the nice December issue review of my book The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat. Pity, though, that you had to highlight the beer monetary system as I guess IČll be hearing from the WomenČs Temperance Association once again.

Back when I was a daily newspaper columnist these folks got really vicious. I had started an association called DAMD ÷ Drunks Against Mothers Driving. There was perfect logic to it, since far more auto accidents are caused by distracted mothers than by drunks. But they would have nothing of it. There is no justice. Next time, IČd be most grateful if you would emphasize that I was referring to 'fiscal beers' not 'drinking beers'. IČve got enough problems.

John Vigor

Cape Dory 25 Jabula

Oak Harbor, WA

ONE WAY OR ANOTHER I'LL HA-HA AGAIN

We'd like to thank the Wanderer and all the other Ha-Ha folks for such a great rally. You did a wonderful job organizing, coordinating and keeping it playful. I hope you had as much fun as the participants, but as I know from my own experience promoting special events, it's a hell of a lot of work.

I, for one, will be part of this year's Ha-Ha, too. If my own boat is not ready, IČll be on the crew list. But one way or another, I'm going again.

Steve Van Ronk

Freyja crew, famous for signing up at the going away party

Steve ÷ Thanks for the kind words. It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to put on the Ha-Ha ÷ but a lot less than if fleet members were uncooperative or got into trouble. Because the fleets have been so great year after year, we've been able to have a lot of fun also. So our thanks to everyone who has been part of the Ha-Ha's for being so great.

THE LITTLE REFRIGERATION UNITS REALLY WORKED

We spent a hot summer season in the Bahia de Los Angeles area of Baja, and have a few hopeful insights regarding the effectiveness of the 12V air-cooled refrigeration systems ÷ such as Adler-Barbers. In short, they work.

This was our first cruise with refrigeration of any kind, and we weren't sure if these units would function in BajaČs extreme heat. Yet our unit continued to make ice in its usual fashion, and as such was a great convenience. Our two solar panels with a combined output of 4 amps would just keep up with the refer during the day, and we ran our 4 hp diesel generator an hour a night to bring the batteries back up to full charge.

The folks on Just Us Three had a larger version of the same unit as ours, but had twice the solar panel output. They only had to run their engine once every three days to keep the batteries up. They report that their refrig was only on about 80% of the time, but the unit functioned perfectly. Two or three other cruisers testified that they had similarly good luck with their 12 volt refrigeration systems.

Boats with engine-driven units reported their systems also worked well, and provided for 'real' freezers ÷ which no doubt better serves the needs of the significantly carnivorous. However, there was a price to pay in engine time. Quarsar, our buddy boat, had to run his engine three hours a day and complained bitterly of having to pay $2.00/gallon for diesel in Bahia de Los Angeles. Our two boats left La Paz together in April and cruised in company with each other. By October, he had 526 hours on his main engine while we had 137 hours ÷ with an additional 200 hours on our generator which consumes less than a quarter of a gallon an hour. It's also worth noting that running a diesel with a low load ÷ such as to just charge the batteries ÷ is hard for a diesel and eventually results in very expensive repairs.

All in all, we were quite happy with our inexpensive 12V refer system in the very hot climate of a Baja summer.

Don Scotten

Yacht Good

Midwest City, OK

Don ÷ Thanks for the nice report. Refrigeration/freezer systems on boats are good metaphors for life, as each person has to chose which is best for their lifestyle and budget.

When we first went to Mexico, every dollar counted, so even the most modest refrigeration system ÷ along with roller furling, radar, and a SatNav ÷ were beyond our means. So we made our peace with warm sundowners, savored the occasional cold drink ashore, and enjoyed the simplicity of not needing solar panels or having to run the engine to charge the batteries. Life was good.

We later had a simple 12-volt system such as yours. It didn't cost very much and it worked great ÷ as long as we appreciated its limitations. After all, it didn't make enough ice for a party, didn't make it quickly, and required running the engine a little more than we might have otherwise. But it made living onboard more luxurious, and life was again good.

During the time we owned Big O, we went through two engine and generator driven refrigerator-freezers. They were big, complicated, expensive, and broke down. And there was also the matter of having to run the noisy engine or generator a couple of hours a day. On the other hand, it enabled us to enjoy a delicious turkey in St. Tropez that we'd bought months earlier in St. Martin, and endless ice cold drinks under the tropical sun while sailing back across the Atlantic. Yes, life was good then, too.

So it boils down to this: how much refrigeration ÷ if any ÷ do you want and are you willing to 'pay' for in terms of cash, engine time, maintenance and repairs?

SORENSON & SONS SLOOP

I bought a 38-foot sloop that was built by Sorenson & Sons in Denmark in 1938. I'm having her completely restored and would like to find out about the complete history of the boat. Do you have any suggestions on where I can find some records?

Richard Barnard

Sacramento

Richard ÷ You haven't given us much to work with, such as where and when you bought her, and how and when she got from Denmark to the United States. One obvious place to start would be from the seller and from the boatyards and yacht clubs in the area. We'd also invest some time surfing the Internet looking for clues in Denmark ÷ or better yet, fly over there.

THE CREATION OF CLOAH SARK

A friend who now lives and sails on the Bay visited me recently and left her copy of Latitude ÷ which was very interesting. I'd like to now use your Letters page to inquire if anyone knows where I can get a copy of a book titled The Creation of Cloah Sark by Johnny Clougher.

Although this beautiful yacht was built in New Zealand over a strenuous and traumatic 13 years, she cruised and chartered the United States from 1981 onwards, from Seattle to the Virgin Islands. Sadly, the builder-owner-author passed on a few years ago, but another friend of mine is part of her history. As such, I would love to obtain a copy of the book. I can be reached at jazzali@singnet.com.sg.

Ali Tasker

Singapore


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