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Last Monday night, Barry Bonds splashed the first Giants' regular season homer into McCovey Cove. While it helped the Giants to victory, that wasnČt what got my attention. When the ball hit the water, I watched boats ÷ all of them under power and all of them with seemingly full throttles ÷ converge on it. I was stunned when a Grady White sportfishing boat ran over what looked like a red Zodiac inflatable. Thankfully, nobody was killed, but I hate to envision the outcome when they start using the Portuguese water dogs to retrieve the home run balls. From what I saw on Monday, it would be like tossing them into a cuisinart. And just out of curiosity, what do the Coasties make of this?
Nick ÷ The concept of baseballs being hit out of PacBell Park and into McCovey Cove is tremendously entertaining. We're no kill-joys, but we agree that it's only a matter of time before there is a serious incident. It was recently reported, for example, that there were almost 100 boats in the cove during one baseball game ÷ including a bachelor party boat with several naked blondes.
Capt. Larry Hall, Commander Coast Guard Group San Francisco, tells us that back in January the Giants called a meeting of all the emergency services providers to discuss the possible problem of boats, people and baseballs converging on McCovey Cove. During the meeting, the Giants requested a Coast Guard presence in the cove during all the games. Captain Hall had to inform the Giants that the Coast Guard ÷ which has one boat to patrol from the San Rafael Bridge to Pier 39 to San Jose ÷ doesn't have the resources to provide security services during 81 home baseball games. He also suggested that his 'customers', the United States taxpayers, wouldn't think it was a very good use of their money. As such, the Coast Guard only randomly visits the cove, keeping an eye out for, among other things, drunk mariners. So we mariners are going to have to police ÷ as we should ÷ our own behavior.
Capt. Hall also noted that while there is a channel coming out of the creek and into the Bay at McCovey Cove, there is very little "federal interest" in the area. As such, there is no reason for him to write the Captain of the Port to address a possible problem with baseballs, boats and boaters in the cove. The City of San Francisco, on the other hand, might have a greater interest, for as soon as the first incident happens, they, along with the Giants, are going to get their butts dragged into court. By the way, San Francisco operates a former Coast Guard 47-footer 10 hours a day, four days a week ÷ but doesn't have time to babysit the baseball fleet either. So folks, please be careful out there.
÷ WHAT STUFF IS NECESSARY FOR SAFE CRUISING?
Greetings to the West Coast from the Chesapeake Bay, the finest cruising grounds in America! Even though Latitude is tailored to your side of the continent, cruising is cruising, so we enjoy your excellent magazine ÷ which is a sought after commodity here on the East Coast.
Barbara Molin posed an interesting question in the May issue when she asked is all the "cruising stuff" really necessary? During our 'youth', my wife and I spent our vacations delivering out-of-charter boats from the Virgin Islands back to the United States. For the most part, a combo speed-depth-wind and a VHF were just about the extent of 'stuff' back in the late '70s and early '80s. For deliveries, we carried our own EPIRB and 4-man Avon liferaft, as well as a safety bag with harnesses, flare guns and other basic items. We didn't trust the boat to have this equipment or have it current. For navigation, I had a good watch, sextant and a portable RDF receiver.
Our route was usually the same: St. Thomas to San Juan to Puerto Plata, D.R. to the Turks & Caicos ÷ where weather would dictate the course for the rest of the trip. On one leg between the D.R. and the Turks in a C&C 36, we got whacked by a sizable portion of hurricane Allen when it made a sharp turn near the Caymans and headed our way. If we had a Ham or SSB radio onboard and knew AllenČs course, we could have run off to the east and avoided the 'party' ÷ or even have turned 180º and returned to Puerto Plata. Since we didn't have that 'stuff', all we could do was watch the barometer continue to fall while my wife ÷ two months pregnant and the best person aboard at the wheel ÷ kept us safe but still rocking through a long night. At dawn we gave up trying to heave-to this particular design, and ran off to the northeast under bare poles ÷ trailing the bimini on two 100-foot lengths of 3/4-inch line. We ultimately made landfall in Cockburn Harbour, B.W.I.
It is now 20 years later, the fetus that made that ride with us is a sophomore in college, and we now sail our own Cheoy Lee Clipper. We remain rather 'uncomplicated' sailors, but maturity and a few extra bucks can certainly equate to additional 'stuff'. I cannot imagine not carrying a GPS and a handheld backup ÷ which would cost less than $1,000. We still have the sextant aboard and I can still pull down a noon sight should I wish. We use an ICOM SSB to stay in touch with the world, and canČt say enough good stuff about Sharp's little gizmo that uses any phone ashore to hook up with Pocketmail. We have a six-man cannister raft mounted on the cabintop, a 406 EPIRB with GPS interface in the cabin, and another 406 in the 'ditch bag'. But it's right about here that our modern improvements come to an end.
We donČt have radar, nor do we carry a laptop. Weatherfax might be nice, but I can still plot on a chart. No, IČm afraid pressure water and a watermaker didnČt make the cut either. If we did have pressure water we would need a watermaker. We don't have a microwave, but must confess to having a small TV-VCR combo and extensive video library. As is evident, most of our 'gadgets' are safety-related. We consider them essential rather than excess gear.
As in all of life there are extremes ÷ except when it comes to your own safety. I suppose we could still hit the barn at 5 a.m. for the milk and chase chickens around for dinner, but the question is why should we? And how does using a GPS or having an EPIRB disturb our "harmony" with the ocean? If we maintain the capacity to protect and provide for ourselves without endangering others, then what is the harm? It is only those who have so many gadgets that they forget how to sail or read the winds and the sea that are out of harmony with themselves and those that may be called upon to save them.
One Fine Day
Bob ÷ Like you, we can live without the luxury of pressure water, but we're not going anywhere without items we consider critical to safety ÷ such as a GPS, EPIRB and SSB.
Excuse us, as we just had to take a short break to recover from a fit of intense laughter brought on by recalling the first couple of times we sailed down the foggy coast of California and had to use an RDF for navigation. We'd forgotten what it was like having to swing that antenna around trying to get a good bead on some beeps while the boat rolled like hell. If conditions were good, we might be less than 25º off course. These days we glance over to the GPS, which has a built in map that allows us to constantly monitor our course and therefore the unit's accuracy. Folks who never had the honor of having to rely on an RDF to stay alive can't have any idea how great GPS is.
While it is rare that I disagree with your opinions, I have to argue with your comment about the NealČs teaching of celestial navigation. IČve attended a John Neal and Amanda Swan-Neal seminar and they clearly tell you that the key to good navigation is having two or three GPS back-ups. The point of learning celestial, they say, is the "spiritual" experience of understanding and mastering this art of the ancient mariner. On the rare occasion that you may be totally up the creek GPS-wise, knowing celestial can only help. But the seminar I took from them didnČt mince words about the importance of a backup GPS and lots of extra batteries.
Nameless ÷ You must have misread our response. We said that while the Neals teach the use of sextants, they use and firmly believe in GPS ÷ as well as EPIRBS, SSB radio, Inmarsat, radar ÷ and almost all other modern electronics. They don't believe in them to the exclusion of a good knowledge of seamanship, but they believe in them.
÷ WHAT'S YOUR NAME AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
Steve Kleppe's the name. I live in the Bay Area and sail a Nonsuch 30. I have a GPS and a back-up GPS. I leave the sextant at home!
÷ CHANGES IN LATITUDE ONLINE
Will you ever be putting Changes online? We read your hard copy and this section is excellent!
Steve & Vicki Babb
Folie Ža Deux
Steve & Vicki ÷ Since you asked to have Changes put on line, we did it. We also put a new form on our latitude38.com website so that cruisers who want to 'check-in' can do so easily. Even though we hadn't announced it in print yet, we've gotten a lot of responses.
Other slated improvements in our website: Sailing news as it happens ÷ emailed to anyone who wants it for free, naturally. Also, lots of color photos of San Francisco boats sailing in some of the greatest conditions on the planet. Owners and others will be able to buy these shots of their boats online.
÷ DIESEL SCHOOL
I'm interested in gaining hands-on maintenance and repair education and experience for a Yanmar diesel engine. Are there schools in the Bay Area that can show me the nuts and bolts that you recommend?
Mary ÷ From time to time there are classes in diesel engine maintenance and repair, but we're not aware of any at this time. And we're not certain they'd be the best thing for you. Since you already have a boat, since all engine installations are custom, and since there are actually very few diesel repairs an amateur would be wise trying to attempt, we think there's a better way to self-sufficiency: Hire your local Yanmar mechanic to spend several hours showing you how to properly maintain your engine. This would involve showing you how to make sure it gets clean fuel and sufficient electrical power, the basics such as how to replace the starter, solenoid, impeller and alternator, and how to bleed the fuel lines. Pretty much anything beyond those basics is for professionals only.
÷ KO OLINA MARINA
This is going to sound like an advertisement, but I was so delighted to find good marina space in Hawaii that I wanted to share it with Latitude readers.
In preparation for the West Marine Pacific Cup, I started looking for marina space in Hawaii ÷ and discovered the new Ko Olina Marina ÷ to the west of Honolulu, the Airport, and Pearl City ÷ on Oahu. Located on the grounds of the first-class Ko Olina Resort, the marina has 270 berths, 65 of which have already been spoken for. The Harbormaster is Archie Shelton, a sailor and nice guy that I met after the TransPac last year.
Prior to the opening of the Ko Olina, it was very difficult to get a berth in a full service marina in Hawaii. But with this welcome addition, sailors can now race or cruise to Hawaii and stay awhile and/or leave their boat in a safe place prior to going on or staying forever. Archie is offering West Marine Pacific Cup participants a guest slip rate of $1/foot/day ÷ which is a 33% discount. The Ko Olina's long term rates are less expensive than some of the better marinas in the Bay Area.
By the way, Banderas Bay in Mexico was every bit as visually beautiful as you have reported ÷ although the water was not that clear when we were there. We did the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race in February and had a great time going and coming. It was nice to see Profligate in Paradise Village, as it made it seem as though we were back home in Sausalito. You even had Profligate equipped with a bathing beauty. I donČt know how you do it.
Howard A. Raphael
Tango, Beneteau 40
Readers ÷ For further information on the new Ko Olina Marina ÷ which is a terrific and long overdue addition to Hawaii's meager boating facilities ÷ see this month's Sightings.
The water clarity in Banderas Bay ÷ indeed, along most of the Pacific Coast from Washington to Panama ÷ is rarely good because of the nature of the soil along the coast and because it gets stirred up by the surf. The clearest water in Banderas Bay is along the north shore and particularly out at Islas Tres Marias, where visibility is often quite good.
You don't know how we 'do' what? That was no mere "bathing beauty" aboard Profligate, but rather our long time sailing buddy Susan the 'Night Nurse'. You won't find anyone more willing to do their share of the work ÷ be it finishing off a boat, helping with a Baja Bash, or enjoying the good sailing times ÷ and with a more pleasant disposition. The best times the Wanderer had on Banderas Bay last winter was when he, Doña de Mallorca, and Susan set the Santa Cruz 70 half ounce chute on Profligate for the first time ever. Despite the fact that the chute is 74 feet tall and 40 feet wide, Doña and Susan did almost all of the work setting, trimming, gybing and dousing that monster. We were having fun then!
÷ AVOID THE GRAVEYARD OF THE PACIFIC
Please encourage your readers to stay well offshore when transiting the 'Pacific Graveyard'. The Coasties will probably like you a lot better if they don't have to scrape boats off the rocks. The problem with the Graveyard is that looks are deceptive. And donČt forget the fun youČll have with magnetic anomalies off Tillamook and other areas along the Oregon shore.
ItČs easy to say that Mendocino is "worse" than Cape Flattery ÷ until you join the number of mariners who have died off that shore. Even well found ships have gotten into trouble up there when they were 20 miles offshore and unexpectedly found themselves among the breakers on a lee shore. It wasnČt too long ago that Latitude reported a wreck ÷ I believe there were some deaths ÷ involving a naval officer who had been transferred to the Northwest. He was just too close inshore when passing through the Graveyard.
Many of the ports of refuge truly are 'dog holes' ÷ even today. Newport, for example, has a really nasty bar. When we were young adults, we used to climb on the Korean freighter that hit the jetty during a storm while trying to enter. Entering Newport during a storm is on the list of things the Coast Guard prefers mariners don't attempt.
Forget Depoe Bay ÷ as your mast won't fit under the highway bridge ÷ a beautiful concrete structure bearing plaques to honor the memory of fishermen killed in a late 1930s storm while trying to save the lives of others. The others survived by breaking the law and lashing their boat to a navigation buoy. IČve ridden in and out of Depoe Bay in good weather on heavily powered 40-foot charter fishing boats. The channel is narrow, rocky, and involves some cute turns to avoid the volcanic rock. It's pretty much of a 'one boat at a time' situation. Boats can come in or go out, but not at the same time.
IČm no expert, but I listened to my father, who helped pay for his education at the University of Washington by commercial fishing. And he used to say that a really big margin of error helped keep SeattleČs 'Norwegian Navy' ÷ the fishing fleet ÷ afloat.
Nadja (Adolf), 'Chicken Of The Sea
Nala, Seaward 23
÷ I FEEL VINDICATED
I am so relieved to read your comments about Patrick O'Brien's Master And Commander. When I read it a dozen years ago, I decided that I didnČt 'get it' because of my preference for trawler-style boating.
Friends who are fanatic readers of the OČBrien books are so unrelenting in their praises that I had just about decided to reread the book to find out what I was missing. But when as strong a partisan of sailing as you fails to find a compelling reason to read the book, I can feel vindicated and now happily dodge what I believe would be, for me, an unrewarding chore.
Incline Village, NV
÷ OČBRIEN OVERRATED
The Wanderer isn't the only one who is not enamored with the ramblings of highly-touted author Patrick OČBrien. I am extremely grateful to find a kindred soul who thinks O'Brien's stories are, shall we say, less than great. The first time I tried to read Master and Commander, I only got half way through before I gave up. The second time, I forced myself to finish it ÷ and still came away with a sense of wasted time.
On the other hand, I have read and reread at least 20 times the Hornblower series by C.S. Forester ÷ I still enjoy parts of them even though, needless to say, I have memorized much of it. Hornblower was a hero that I could have hoped to be like. O'Brien's Captain Aubrey, on the other hand, was far too ordinary. He was even cheap and tawdry, shallow and less than brilliant in both his tactics and political savvy.
There are two other books out that Latitude readers might be interested in. The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower by C. Northcote Parkinson appears to be non-fiction. But despite the numerous 'signed' documents and drawings, I believe it to be a work of fiction. Why Parkinson would do that is a mystery. The other book, The Real Hornblower by Bryan Perrett, parallels the life and times of Admiral Sir James Gordon, GCB, with that of ForesterČs hero. It's very interesting reading.
While on the subject of literary value, I also have a serious problem with all the hype given to Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm. The first half of the book has nothing to do with the subject of the title, and the second half is largely imagined drama. A far better tale is Rescue in the Pacific by Tony Farrington, which is a compilation of true accounts of what happened to a number of cruising sailboats caught in the Queen's Birthday Storm between New Zealand and the South Pacific. At least the drama is real. In fact, I've see some video of it on television ÷ and it is breathtaking.
Dare I mention another book? Ticonderoga ÷ Tales Of An Enchanted Yacht, by Jack A. Somer. It's a glossy book on the 72-foot ketch designed by L. Francis Herreschoff that nonetheless won the TransPac nearly 40 years after she was launched. It's an expensive book, but worth every penny ÷ and then some.
Keep up the good work there at Latitude. What baffles me is why other magazines donČt copy your style. Maybe they just aren't knowledgeable enough to tackle the myriad subjects that you're not afraid of!
S. Lake Tahoe
Jim ÷ We concur with almost all your evaluations of the sailing books mentioned. And thanks for the nice words about Latitude. We never really think of ourselves as having a 'style', we're just folks who love to sail trying to 'tell it like it is' for other folks who love to sail.
÷ FOUR STROKE FROM DOWN UNDER
After a 36-month cruise through the Caribbean, Panama, Cocos Island, French Polynesia, Cooks and other stops on the 'Milk Run', we've been having a great time here in New Zealand cruising the islands north of Auckland. We've had great weather since the beginning and have suffered few problems ÷ except with our choice of outboards.
Initially we were happy with our choice of a Honda 15. True, it's heavier than two-strokes, but that's what winches are made for. Besides, we got great fuel economy and really enjoyed the combination of the Honda with our Avon 3.41 RIB. Then, while in Bora Bora, the engine started to idle poorly, something we ultimately traced to a leaking exhaust chamber ÷ which allowed exhaust to recirculate through the engine. We repaired the problem in a crude sort of way and life was good again until Niue ÷ definitely one of our favorite stops ÷ where it started running rough again. This time the exhaust was blowing out of the connection between the head and exhaust pipe. We now were looking at more in parts and labor than in the cost of a new engine!
To keep this on the short side, we contacted Honda when we got to New Zealand and were told we would have to ship the engine to Japan ÷ at our expense ÷ for a determination if the problem was covered under the warranty! Honda America declined to help, as our engine was now out of warranty ÷ although the problem occurred during the warranty period. I'm used to getting 10 years from an outboard, not 18 months, so we bought a new Yamaha 25 two-stroke. The Yamaha dealer had a big pile of Honda outboards out back, all with the same problem, all of a similar vintage.
There are a lot of gear choices to be made when going cruising, and I have to say that I was not happy with my decision to go with a Honda. There are some items that deserve high marks, however. We just passed 1,000 hours with Spectra watermaker #004, and could not be happier. Likewise, our Seafrost BD-3 refer units (Danfloss compressor type), have been quiet and dependable. Combined with a box insulated with Glacier Bay vacuum panels, we can keep ice cream solid. And West Marine has been wonderful. We bought a Furuno weather fax from West Marine and had family bring it to New Zealand, where we had problems with it. West handled everything more than to our satisfaction!
Jim Forrest and Jeanette Denby
Jim & Jeanette ÷ We seem to recall that about a year ago we got a letter from another cruiser in a remote part of the South Pacific with a similar problem with a Honda. He faced the same dilemma as you ÷ it would have cost a small fortune to send the outboard all the way to Japan to determine whether or not the repair would fall under warranty.
For folks sailing in the States, it's pretty easy to get service and parts for all outboards sold in the States. But when you sail to Mexico and especially beyond, the situation changes dramatically. Based on our experience, the one brand of outboard that seems to be sold and serviced just about everywhere in the world is Yamaha ÷ which is the primary reason we've bought nothing but that brand for the last 10 years. Distribution does make a difference if you're leaving the States.
÷ FLANGE PROBLEMS
You may not remember, but in 1996 you did an article on Morning Star, the Bruce Roberts Mauritius 43 we built over a 20 year period in the backyard of our San Jose home. We finally left Alameda in September of '99, after selling our home to our daughter and selling or giving away most of our belongings. We'd have left sooner, but we spent three months at Svendsens doing a blister job, adding four inches to the trailing edge of the rudder, and putting on a Max Prop ÷ which to our dismay required cutting a notch in the leading edge of the rudder.
We also had a small mishap on the way to San Diego that Latitude had a part in rectifying. We found ourselves in a tight spot at Long Beach's Alamitos Bay while attempting to moor to an end-tie two piers away from Profligate, Latitude's catamaran. As we made our second pass at the end-tie, we suddenly lost control of our prop! We didnČt know if it had jammed or fallen off, because we no longer heard the familiar 'clunk' it makes when being put into gear.
Profligate's skipper was having a cool one on deck as we drifted by heading for the boats on the other side of the fairway. Dorie hailed him in a panicked voice, and he was in the dink in an instant. Meanwhile, Rene was on the other side of the boat hailing an RIB coming up the channel. While the RIB tied to our port quarter to take us back to the dock, Profligate's skipper came by and asked if we wanted him to warn off the other boats coming down the channel. Please! After he did that, he came back and asked if we wanted him to take our lines at the dock. Please! So he roared off to the dock, made fast his dink and ran to catch the line Dorie threw short. Your skipper, agile as a cat, leaned way out and got the line without falling in. Rene went over and thanked him later, but he was busy working on the boat, so we didnČt get his name.
Fortunately, there was nothing wrong with our prop. What happened was that all four bolts holding the prop shaft flange to the transmission flange had fallen out! We talked to the skipper of another boat down here in La Paz ÷ where we are now ÷ who told us that he'd just found three bolts in the bilge from their prop shaft flange. So it can happen to others. It seems that if the threaded part of the bolts is in the hole in one of the flanges, they will work free ÷ even if secured with lock washers. Only the unthreaded part of the shank can be in the two flange holes, so the bolts canČt work back and forth when shifting gears.
We had one other failure on our way down here to Marina Palmira in La Paz. The first night out of San Diego, our autopilot started oversteering by 20 degrees on each side of the course. We had to hand steer all the way to Turtle Bay, so thank goodness we had our son Scott along to help. When we got to Turtle Bay, we examined the rudder post and found the problem. The stainless steel pin on the quadrant that receives the ram from the autopilot had broken. They were still somewhat connected, but caused the boat to oversteer.
We needed to get the stainless pin welded to the stainless plate that it had been bolted to. Ernesto, the son of Gordo, said he could get it done by the next morning, and disappeared with our parts and instructions. We donČt speak Spanish, so we weren't sure how well he understood our instructions. We got nervous the next morning, as Ernesto hadn't returned at the appointed time and wasn't answering our VHF calls. Finally, he went by our boat in a panga while ferrying somebody to shore ÷ and told us he'd return soon.
About an hour later, he indeed returned with the parts beautifully welded together. It turns out that he'd had to send a driver to another town to get the welding done, and the other town was a long way away. Rene was so excited about getting the work done as requested, that he inadvertently gave Ernesto twice what he asked for! You should have seen the little jig Ernesto did in the panga when counting the money. Our autopilot has performed beautifully ever since.
Like everyone else that comes to La Paz, we love it. We made up for not going home for Christmas to see our children and grandchildren by getting involved with the local Jaycee Christmas gift program. We worked for a week packing bags with candy, peanuts, oranges and donated gifts along with a bunch of other cruisers and then handed them out on Christmas morning. It was very rewarding.
We did have to go home at the end of January due to a sudden death in the family, at which time we also did our taxes. There was four weeks of rain while we were back home, and Rene kept thinking of something you'd written in Latitude. "After being in Mexico for awhile, it's good to go home to remind yourself why you left in the first place." We're now trying to get away from La Paz and head north to the islands.
Rene and Dorie Pittsey
La Paz, Mexico
Rene & Dorie ÷ You're making too big a thing of being 'rescued' in Alamitos Bay. As time goes on, you'll periodically find yourself coming to the assistance of other mariners in minor distress ÷ and having a great time doing it.
We have an unsolicited comment and a question. As nice as La Paz is, remember that it really is true that 'men and ship's rot in port'. As such, don't let yourself get stuck in one place until you've seen a lot more of Mexico and the cruising world. Our question: If you had to do it again, would you build your own boat or worked longer and bought one that was already built? It came to mind as the result of the following letter.
÷ BOATBUILDING BLUES
Several times in the recent past I've written to Latitude describing the large catamaran that I'm building. When my ex and I moved aboard ÷ having gotten fed up with a $3,000 mortgage and being disgusted by the concept of rent ÷ it seemed like a good idea to both of us. Among other things, she loved waking up to the backdrop of a peaceful harbor.
It hadn't been a snap decision, either. I'd raced Santa Cruz 50s, and we discussed cruising the world together. So it was together that we made the decision to move aboard a tiny but pretty boat while I built the bigger one. I worked for the first $20,000 in materials, and she worked her butt off for the 'consumable' materials to finish the dream.
Halfway through the project and eight years into our marriage, we are still friends, but we have split up. As such, I want to give all your readers who are even considering building a boat a few choice bits of advice. My goal is to help others avoid the pitfalls of a shattered dream.
1) Just as all the books suggest, look into buying rather than building your dream boat. The wear and tear on your body alone will probably be worth it. I was a landlord for 15 years and have a ton of experience installing bathrooms, crawling around smelly sewer pipes and such. But nothing that I did in 15 years with houses even remotely compares with the long, slow, expensive, health-battering, marriage-consuming task of boatbuilding!
2) I worked to save for the initial costs, and my wife busted her ass to pay for the day-to-day stuff. Before long, I relieved her of any additional stress of helping me at the 'yard' ÷ but that wasn't enough. Picking up supplies and working for the money to pay for them took their toll on her ÷ and I am so, so, so, very sorry I ever asked her to do it. If any of you, male or female, have a boatbuilding dream and expect your partner to pay for it, you better make really, really, really sure that both of you want to sail around the world. Nothing is harder to work and pay for than an elusive dream that never seems to get much closer to reality.
3) Don't expect a small sailboat to provide the comforts and siestas that a hard-working woman and breadwinner needs in order to remain sane. Put a woman on a small boat like that, where at least once a year there are 80-knot winds that keep her awake, and the sight of her tired and frayed on the way to work will tear at your heart. If it doesn't, you don't deserve a wife in the first place. Furthermore, the sleeping arrangements on a small boat can kill a good love affair ÷ which is surely the first step toward divorce. The rest simply follows.
4) If she can't take it anymore, don't ask: 'Where are you going, you said you wanted this, too?" Sometimes lovers promise all kinds of things, yet during the long years necessary to build a large boat, dreams on the part of both people can change. A few winters of not sleeping well can send the best of us to mental places that only POWs could describe.
5) If one of you splits, make every effort to resolve the problems and reaffirm the dreams ÷ if for no other reason than to keep you guilt-free after punishing your marriage so harshly. If there is no path to reconciliation and you cannot give up your dreams ÷ I ain't living on land again, and she's not sure she still wants to sail around the world ÷ try to stay friends.
6) No matter what, don't give up! If you started a boatbuilding project, chances are youČre a dreamer, and adventurer. If you learn to work, hire cheap help, and pay for your own dream, youČll probably get stronger for it ÷ even if it slows down your project. In the process, you'll learn some of the self-sufficiency that will do you well later while cruising. And if you're really lucky, you'll meet someone out there who will stand behind your dream, adjust the bunks so two can sleep as one, and know what it takes to create a home.
7) If you're already involved in a boatbuilding project, don't make the same mistakes that I did. Bring your lady flowers just as you did when you lived on land. If the wind howls at night and she can't sleep, spring for a motel room. Even if she says "no way", build a bunk so you can both sleep comfortably all night long ÷ and then hold her as tight as you hold onto that 'mutual' dream. If you donČt, you may find that the dream fades to a one-sided vision, and that quickly leads to the end of the relationship.
Anyway, we all have to sail with the wind we have, not the wind we wished we had or the wind we had yesterday. May your sails always be full, Ms. D. Maybe, someday, youČll take that trip to Cabo. If not, IČll send you a postcard and hope you find your white picket fence so we may both enjoy our dream.
Mr. C. ÷ We appreciate you sharing your from-the-heart experience, and wish you ÷ and your former ladyfriend ÷ all the best. As for our readers who are thinking of building their own boat, our observations over the last 25 years suggest the following advice: Don't! We can hardly think of even a handful of do-it-yourselfers who in retrospect wished they hadn't worked a little longer to be able to afford a boat that was already built.
÷ OVERVIEW OF YACHT CLUBS
Several years ago you ran an article about all of the local yacht clubs. You characterized each one so that the readers could match their interests to the appropriate club.
We're fairly new boatowners, and are about two years away from heading out the Gate and hanging a left for a trip around the world. We're not social animals, but think we understand the advantages of belonging to a yacht club while cruising. Could you please update your yacht club article of a couple of years ago so that we can make an informed decision about what yacht club would be good for us.
Jacque Martin and Joe Brandt
Marna Lynn, Wacquiez 47
Jacque & Joe ÷ This might come as a surprise to some people, but our experience has been that yacht club membership is of little practical value when cruising ÷ at least after you leave the United States. Once you get to Mexico and points south, nobody cares if you belong to a yacht club ÷ not even the Acapulco YC. Over in the Caribbean, yacht club membership doesn't count for anything either, and the Hawaii YC in Honolulu gladly extends their hospitality to non-members. You'll also find that yacht clubs in the South Pacific and New Zealand will offer cruiser or temporary memberships in their clubs.
There are a few exclusive clubs when yacht membership may be required, but usually they'll only have reciprocal privileges with the likes of the St. Francis and San Francisco YCs. But to join either of those prestigious ÷ and terrific clubs ÷ in order to get reciprocal privileges in a few other places in the world won't even be close to being worth it.
For what it's worth, the Wanderer is a member of the St. Barth YC in the French West Indies. It costs $40 a year, all of which goes to help the youth program. The club's card looks nice in his wallet, but it hasn't had any additional value.
We're not sure what article you think you remember, but we never did an overview of all the yacht clubs in Northern California. After all, there are close to 100 of them, so we'd never have the space or knowledge to review them all. Furthermore, it would be as suicidal an exercise as rating ex-girlfriends and wives, as there are so many aspects on which they can be evaluated.
÷ IT'S NO LONGER 'PIRATE PETE'S'
When Lorraine and I arrived at Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu with a broken mast, Ala Wai Marine, Ltd., the boatyard in the harbor, had a very poor reputation. West Marine Pacific Cup racers, Kenwood Cup racers, and cruisers will be happy to hear that things have fortunately changed for the better.
Starting in September of last year, Dave Becker took over as manager of Ala Wai Marine, and since then his crew has hauled nearly 400 boats ÷ including our Angleman ketch Southern Cross. In addition, we had them pull and re-step both masts and do some stainless steel welding in their shop. Everything went perfectly! I wish all our haulouts had gone as smoothly, and we would certainly haul at AWM again. Reputations are difficult to change, but Dave and his experienced crew have been working to make AWM as customer friendly as possible.
One caveat about Hawaii. State marinas such as the Ala Wai do not rent space by slip size as is done in California, but rather by the 'length' of your boat. We're not talking about length overall, as you might expect, but they actually measure everything from the tip of the bow anchor back to the steering vane pendulum or davits. Aloha!
Robby and Lorraine Coleman
÷ GOEDE DAG FROM HOLLAND!
We've just visited Vollenhove and the Royal Huisman Yard, where we are not having a new yacht built. Despite the fact we showed up unannounced, Alice Huisman was so gracious that she gave us a grand tour of their spectacular facility ÷ which is considered by many to be the finest custom boatyard in the world. There was no sign of Jim Clark's new 292-foot Athena, but we did see the model. Nonetheless, it was awe-inspiring to witness the incredible yachts Huisman is producing.
Mike and Marianne Rudnitski
÷ ISN'T IT ENOUGH?
I've never gotten stirred up enough to write Latitude until now, when the April Sightings article about that 292-foot boat Jim Clark is having built did it to me. Isn't it enough that he owns the world's biggest sloop? How much boat is enough ÷ considering the state of our society and the lack of funds for educational programs?
There are so many better things that Mr. Clark could do that would favorably impact future generations. Several non-profit organizations ÷ such as the Pegasus Project in the Bay Area as well as similar groups in Southern California ÷ are having a tremendous impact on children identified as being 'at risk'. How great would it be if the staffs of these groups didn't have to expend energy trying to find funds to keep their projects alive, but could instead direct it all to improving and expanding the programs. And how about taking the money that paid for the three-story elevator and the sails, and instead setting up an endowment to create college scholarships for some of the kids who come out of these programs? Now we are talking about a complete worthwhile package ÷ and Mr. Clark would still have his 'little' 155-footer to sail.
Royal Sceptre, Sceptre 41
Barbara ÷ Yours is certainly a reasonable point of view, but we have a whole host of reasons why we don't have any problem with Clark spending what will probably be over $100 million on his new boat. The main one is philosophical. Just as world hunger isn't caused by a lack of food, the lack of funding for good non-profit companies isn't caused by a lack of money. The U.S. government, for example, could easily fund the Pegasus Project thousands of times over if it would simply eliminate just a fraction of its monumental waste and stupidity. Here are some other things to consider:
Clark's new boat will probably cost about double what the city of San Francisco ÷ through General Assistance cash payments ÷ indirectly but knowingly hands over to drug dealers each year. The city then has to reimburse hospitals about $50 million a year for treating people with just the most basic of drug-related problems.
Throwing money at problems is rarely a solution. Sausalito, for example, spends twice the state average on its primary school children, yet their achievement scores are about the lowest in the state. Tossing even more good money after bad often just makes things even worse.
Clark took a balanced approach. He only decided to go ahead with the new boat after donating another $150 million to Stanford University.
As opposed to getting rich by extorting some innocent company in court, Clark got rich in an honorable way ÷ by creating something extremely helpful and cost-efficient. We get Netscape for free, and use it about 50 times a day. In addition to saving us time and money, it permits us to access information in ways we couldn't have dreamed of a few years ago. It doesn't pollute, either.
The 'flood down' ÷ as opposed to 'trickle down' ÷ effect. The people who work building and maintaining Clark's boats are well compensated. The captain of Hyperion, for example, made over a million dollars in stock options while sailing across the Atlantic. In fact, two years ago we sailed with a professional yacht captain who was so well compensated that he'd ordered his own custom 65-footer!
Finally, we think big boats represent some of the greatest sculpture man has ever created. Each New Years we vacation in St. Barts to see ÷ and hopefully sail on ÷ some of the greatest designs and construction achievements in the history of man. To our mind they far surpass anything that's shown up in a New York art gallery in the last quarter century.
÷ MAKE SURE YOUR LIFE INSURANCE IS PAID UP
In your April comments regarding cruising the coast of Northern California, you stated that Tomales Bay was an "under-appreciated" cruising destination. But you neglected to say why. You made no mention of the often absolutely horrific conditions of an entrance that has claimed many lives and is one of the most dangerous bits of water on the entire coast.
Based on personal experience, I can report that if you're there when the whole ocean is trying to get through the narrow, shallow entrance to Tomales Bay, you want to make sure your life insurance is paid up.
Bob ÷ You're correct, given the wrong conditions, the entrance to Tomales Bay can be deadly. But the same can also be said for many other places along the North Coast.
÷ FRESHEN UP OUR CAL 39
We've put over 6,000 miles under the keel of our Cal 39 since leaving San Francisco to do the '98 Ha-Ha, and she's been a wonderful boat. But she's now over 20 years old, and while her hull and rig are solid, she's starting to show her age and we'd like to freshen her up a little after we transit the Canal and get to Florida. We're wondering if anyone can supply over-the-counter wooden hatches and ports to replace the worn-out ones. Perhaps someone knows of an outfit that does this kind of work on a custom basis.
Yes, we know what youČre thinking. But we like nice warm touches on a boat. Not teak decks or anything like that, just a little more wood to go along with our toe and handrails. It would really help to offset all of the plastic and steel.
By the way, we think often and fondly of the Č98 Ha-Ha. It got us away from the dock and on our way. There is no unhappiness in shorts and t-shirts.
P.S. While at Isla San Francisco last fall, Profligate anchored next to us and we swam over to say 'hello'. The skipper was out for a swim ÷ and long out of sight. We had a nice visit with the couple on board, however. WeČve forgotten their names, but they rewarded our visit with some current Latitudes with which we swam back to our boat. Nary a drop managed to dilute a word.
Diana and Bill Barash
Diana B, Cal 39
ex-Sausalito, now in Central America
Diana & Bill ÷ We seem to remember that there's a company that is able to supply many of the parts for the Cal boats, but can't remember the name of it. Can anybody help?
The Wanderer thanks you for the kind words about the Ha-Ha.
÷ AN ANCHORAGE OF ALL ANCHORAGES
I'm sure that you knew that your answer to Mike Rosauer regarding the poor quality of anchorages to the north of San Francisco Bay would get my attention ÷ even though I'm still cruising over here in Thailand. While I certainly agree with you regarding Eureka and the likes, what about the anchorages at Fort Ross, Elk, Cuffey Cove, and Fish Rocks, just to name the most prominent ones? And the walk into Drake's Estero certainly ranks with anything in the Med. And there's no better way to get to these places than by sailing. I left out the Farallone Islands as you can no longer land there, but FishermanČs Cove is truly an anchorage of all anchorages.
I'm afraid that your rather negative response will discourage cruisers who want to live on the edge ÷ much like singlehanded sailors. People often ask me where I think the sailing is the best: the Med, Turkey, the Red Sea and so forth. Well, the Northern California coast ranks high on my list.
However, not only is the Northern California coast not known by Bay sailors, but apparently not even by Latitude! Have you ever anchored in Elk? Or gone into Cuffey Cove on a brisk summer day? Or even Mendocino? Confess, in an unusual example for your magazine, you are talking from hearsay.
When you anchor in Elk and read the signs of history around you ÷ where the scow schooners landed, the railway along the rocks, the rusted ring bolts at impossible locations ÷ then write your reader that Elk is such and such. When I return to the Bay Area, I am going to shanghai the person that answered MikeČs letter and not release him/her until they have seen some of these places from a boatČs deck.
Granted, the average cruiser or sailor probably doesnČt want to row ashore in Drakes Bay on a cold foggy day as you stated. He certainly doesnČt want to sail into Elk ÷ which is the closest thing to a sailing suicide for someone not experienced in anchoring ÷ and with three anchors no less. Even Tomales Bay, a good choice for most anyone, has a dangerous bar at the entrance.
But I am sure that there are many like me who would get off on the seclusion and primitiveness of an anchorage such as Fish Rocks ÷ if they were aware that such an anchorage existed. Granted, the Northern California coast is not for everyone. But then, neither is singlehanded racing.
Jimmy Cornell once wrote that you must sail to Hawaii to get to the San Juan Islands because it wasn't possible to sail north along the California coast during the summer. Of course, it's possible ÷ just not for everyone. When the error of his ways was pointed out, he changed his phraseology.
So give up, Latitude! When you wrote your answer, you had your mind on the tropics and warm weather, not on the cold, foggy ÷ but immensely beautiful ÷ Northern California coast. When I return to the Bay Area, I promise you that I will write the cruising guide to that area ÷ and it won't, as you claim, be "as thin as a skiers guide to Southern California."
Sausalito / Thailand
Richard ÷ If you want to call us irresponsible for not encouraging our readers to anchor in "impossible" locations and subject themselves to "sailing suicide", so be it. But it's common knowledge that sailing to the north of San Francisco can be very challenging ÷ to say the least. We know of too many sailors and boats that have been lost in those waters to casually recommend the North Coast to the average sailor. Our attitude on sailing north from San Francisco is this: "If you've got to ask about it, you're probably not ready for it."
÷ LADIES, IT'S HALF YOUR BOAT
I'm addressing my letter to women who are contemplating cruising ÷ whether to Mexico or beyond ÷ with a loved one. The subject arises because I've just seen another wife abandon her ship, home ÷ and most importantly, her husband.
I have seen more women than I choose to remember enjoy only the good times of cruising: the palm-lined sandy beaches, the great meals at waterfront palapas, and the terrific social gatherings. But often times these women didn't work at getting the boat to these exotic places. In fact, sometimes they sought any other kind of transportation but their boat to get there. As such, they reaped the rewards of cruising without putting the work in. These women tend to be the same ones who want their tanks filled with water, but are unwilling to help fill the tank. They want to go to shore, but don't want to pump up the dinghy or help launch it. Some women never take the helm, polish the stainless, or do the everyday maintenance that's required.
I may be the old-fashioned kind, but I believe in taking responsibility for my share of the onboard work. I attended a seminar years ago by a woman ÷ I can no longer recall her name ÷ who had done a couple of circumnavigations. Let me tell you, she was definitely to the point and opened with the following statement: "Ladies, it's half your boat!" Then she went on to speak of 'blue jobs' and 'pink jobs'. Maybe I didn't want to hear what she had to say at the time, but she was right!
Ladies, you'd better know what you're doing before you leave on a cruise. You need to know that it's not all romantic sunsets viewed from the cockpit, and other great times. It can also be 25 knots on the nose with big seas, and it's sharing a small boat ÷ usually 32 to 42 feet ÷ with another person. I admire any woman who attempts to sail down to Mexico ÷ and doubly admire all those who also help sail the boat back. I've lost respect for the many women who just give up.
My husband has given me ample opportunities to fly home and 'leave the driving to him'. But I helped him bring our boat down, so it's my responsibility to help him bring the boat back! I will never deprive my husband of his dreams, and I basically thank him for showing me places and teaching me things that I would normally have never had the opportunity to experience ÷ if it were not for our equal attempts to reach such goals. I hope some of you women do a real soul searching before you leave, and build some of the fiber that you have deep inside. Sure, it's tough and uncomfortable sailing back up the coast of Baja, but is it really life-threatening? Don't let the hard parts of cruising ruin your dreams or your marriage.
Hang in there 'til the end, ladies, so that years down the line you can look back and say, "Yes, I cruised to Mexico and back, and boy, what an accomplishment. Hey, it beats sitting at a desk all day, right?"
In Mexico and San Diego Bound
Heather ÷ We admire your sense of commitment, but think you're taking too narrow a view of things. Teamwork is a great thing, but responsibilities can be divided up in many different ways. For instance, if the man and the woman enjoy passage-making equally, then they can do all the passages together. But suppose the woman gets terrified when at sea or simply doesn't care for longer passages? In that case there are three options: 1) They decide not to cruise, which is unfair to the guy. 2) They decide to cruise despite the woman's fears, which is unfair to the woman. 3) They decide to just do the parts they like ÷ meaning the guy does the passages with friends and the woman flies to meet him in places where she feels safe and enjoys being on the boat. Frankly, we think Option #3 is by far the best for both individuals and the relationship. And since absence makes the heart grow fonder, over the long run it results in more passionate sex, too.
In fact, here's Latitude's 'Ladies' Guide to Cruising Mexico', divided into four categories depending on how much the woman enjoys passage-making. 1) Enthusiastic Sailor. Accompany the man the whole time. 2) Semi-Enthusiastic Sailor. Accompany the man on all the passages except the Baja Bash back to California. While he does the bash, she flies home to spend time with family members and do the taxes. 3) Fair Weather Daysailor. Skip the passages from San Diego to Cabo, across the Sea of Cortez, and the Baja Bash. In addition to visiting family members and doing taxes while the man is making passages, the woman can hang out with newly-made cruising friends. 4) Barely Tolerates Sailing. Fly down to met the man for a week in Cabo, and a month later fly down to meet him for two months of cruising along the mostly benign Gold Coast.
Variations on the above arrangements are not only common in Mexico, but all across the Pacific and around the world. According to lots of couples we've spoken with, it can be a very satisfactory arrangement for both individuals and the relationship. In fact, many sensitive guy skippers wouldn't think of letting the woman in their lives do a Baja Bash or the long and potentially difficult passage from the South Pacific to New Zealand. Would we lose respect for a woman who refused to do the Baja Bash because she was afraid or because she didn't want to have to suffer through it? Of course not.
÷ AN AFFORDABLE WAY TO LIVE IN THE CITY
With Washington state's Department of Natural Resources telling marinas on state lands that they can't have liveaboards, there's another important issue that needs to be considered. Many people live on their boats because it's the most affordable form of housing. For example, many people who work for me have told me of how difficult it is to get an apartment in Seattle these days. And I'm currently renting out a home that I own ÷ and am surprised at how much I can charge and how little advertising is required to rent it at such a rate.
Living aboard is an affordable way to live in Seattle. You can live aboard a 30-40 foot boat for about $300-350 per month, whereas apartments in this city can be around $1000. If the liveaboards in marinas on state lands get evicted, they will suddenly have to come up with another $1,000 for rent ÷ and still have to continue to pay their boat moorage. In addition, they have to come up with a first and last month's rent and a security deposit for the apartment. Has Jennifer Belcher of the DNR stopped to think what a sudden and unnecessary $3,000 expense would do to her budget? Given the already very tight housing market, I wonder where Jennifer Belcher thinks these liveaboards are going to find housing. Is she trying to add to the homeless population?
There are good reasons for liveaboards. For one thing, liveaboards provide an additional level of security in the marina and along the waterfront. In addition, people who live aboard tend to have a higher awareness of environmental issues. Ironically, I think Belcher's actions may encourage many people to liveaboard on the sly.
Velella, Wylie 32
Wendy ÷ Northern Californians have the same problem with the Bay Area's Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) as Seattlites do with the DNR. In theory, both of these organizations are supposed to be pro environment ÷ which we take to mean they would be against wanton consumption, unnecessary traffic, and unnecessary housing. Yet both these organizations seem hell bent on forcing people who want to live simple, less consumptive lives to also have a domicile on land ÷ and then commute between the two. What next, the EPA demands that all bicyclists also own SUVs? Agencies like the BCDC and the DNR are necessary, but they frequently fall into the common bureaucratic trap of being more interested in telling people what to do than fulfilling their real mission or seeing the big picture.
Having said this, we must also note that while we're in favor of allowing living aboards when it's incidental to boat ownership, we're definitely not in favor of marinas being used for low-income housing. For one thing, there aren't enough slips to go around for people who want to use their boats as boats. As such, we'd have no objection if all liveaboards were required to demonstrate the 'incidentalness' of their living aboard by taking the boat out of the marina a certain number of times a year.
÷ LIVEABOARDS IN WASHINGTON STATE
I'm sending a copy of this letter to the honorable leaders of the state of Washington:
I must strenuously object to the recent actions taken by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to require marinas on Lake Union to evict liveaboards. I understand that there are plans to extend this practice throughout the state.
The DNR action is ethically and morally wrong. I think it is unconstitutional ÷ not to mention unenforceable. Outlaw living aboard, and you will only create outlaws ÷ and lose their goodwill, cooperation and revenue. We have enough law enforcement problems without creating new ones. How about cleaning up the parks ÷ which I canČt use for fear of the derelicts and drug addicts who live there.
Liveaboard boaters are an asset to the boating community ÷ and their larger city and state communities as well. They provide security, not only for nearby property, but for the water quality as well. I have personally stopped a gasoline leak in an unattended boat on Lake Union and undoubtedly prevented a fire which would have damaged boats and buildings and caused a significant pollution problem.
In addition, I bitterly resent being called a "trespasser" by someone who doesnČt seem to know the difference between a boat and a camping trailer. I pay for moorage, utilities, vessel registration, parking, fuel, maintenance ÷ and am not a "squatter". I work here and live here, and have as much right to live on my own boat in a slip which I pay for as someone who rents an apartment has to live there. My costs are probably more, as are my responsibilities.
Jennifer Belcher of the DNR has loudly proclaimed that some marinas look like a "shanty town". No marina in Seattle looks that way to me.
I ÷ along with everyone else I know who lives aboard ÷ use the bathroom facilities onshore and take showers there as well. It's a matter of preference over convenience. I do not pump sewage into the water. Marinas usually have a pumpout station for this, and there are also companies which provide this service.
I have taken handicapped children boating and participate in the Christmas parade yearly. I routinely entertain friends and strangers alike, giving them access to the water, without any compensation for my expenses.
There are undoubtedly some boating problems which do need to be addressed in the state, but they are not on Lake Union, and Jennifer Belcher and the DNR don't know the proper way to address them. We liveaboards are simply easy targets who are envied as rich and/or irresponsible by those who do not have the skills, knowledge or commitment to enjoy this lifestyle.
We have an unusual and precious resource in this state and boaters ÷ particularly liveaboard boaters ÷ are the best stewards for helping to protect it ÷ not some angry, jealous, incompetent, lying bureaucrat. The comments by the Commissioner Belcher are not just lies, they are slanderous and particularly inappropriate coming from a state official. I urge you to check out Belcher's allegations right away and insist, as I do, on an immediate reversal of the this policy.
Thank you for your service, your attention and your assistance in this matter. More info is available at www.live-aboards.org.
Patrick ÷ Throughout history governments have concocted phony 'public safety' issues to attempt to eliminate people, concepts and lifestyles they don't like or understand. In the Bay Area, for instance, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission wrested authority over boats by declaring them ÷ we're not making this up ÷ 'Bay fill'. It's such an insane concept that when we mentioned it to DNR spokeswoman Susan Zemek, she burst out laughing. But bureaucrats see all means as justifying their authority-lusting ends.
We don't recommend it, but if you folks on Lake Union don't want to lose the ability to live aboard, you might follow the successful ÷ albeit radical ÷ example of anchor-outs on Richardson Bay. A number of them have declared that they will do whatever it takes ÷ possibly including armed resistance ÷ to prevent the government from evicting them from their boats. Given the intensity of the emotions ÷ as well as some of the drug and alcohol problems among the anchor-outs ÷ we think the government takes these threats seriously and is afraid of them. As a result, these folks have lived on the hook in blatant defiance of the BCDC's anchor-out ban for the better part of 20 years.
÷ DOUBLE DITTO
I've actively cruised in the Sea of Cortez since the mid '60s and am the author of many chart and cruising guides to the Sea of Cortez. I think Latitude's response to those folks bitching down in La Paz was excellent and to the point. Ditto to the editor's supporting comments on Capt. Zorro's letter, and double ditto to the next letter.
I tell the audiences at my Sea of Cortez seminars ÷ including the four I gave at the recent Sail Expo ÷ that Marina de La Paz is the neatest, cleanest, friendliest marina in the Sea of Cortez. And it's thanks to owners Mary and Mack Shroyer. I check their marina out at least once a year, and I've seen no reason to change my evaluation.
Gerry ÷ Much of the bitching in the last issue was about the boat 'safety inspections' in La Paz. As predicted by the Shroyers, 'Captain Zorro', and many Mexican cruising veterans, it appears that it's already blown over. See this month's Cruise Notes for details.
÷ MAYBE HE HAS CRUISERS' BEST INTERESTS IN MIND?
This letter is in response to Jim and Nancy August's and Storm Rider's letters in the May issue regarding the new safety inspection fees in La Paz. IČm appalled at the letters these boat owners wrote. Where did they ever come up with the figures they quoted? Take notice that I used the term 'boat owners', because the term 'cruiser' would be a misrepresentation.
I would like to applaud the responses made to their letters by the editor of Latitude. And I'd like to go a step further. Have these people considered that maybe the Captainia de Puerto might be getting a little tired of his marinas and anchorages slowly filling with deadbeat and baracho foreigners homesteading on marginally navigable vessels? Maybe he has the best interests of real cruisers in mind when he takes steps to insure that La Paz remains a fantastic cruising area.
ItČs obviously been a very long time since Storm Rider has completed a gruelling passage, and is in need of rest and provisions and possibly a hot shower ÷ only to find that there is a waiting list for a slip. And that the only space left to anchor is uncomfortably rolly, and a long, wet dink ride for landing. I am not the only cruiser who is tired of being robbed of an available slip or comfortable anchorage by a permanently anchored or slipped floating piece of s--t that isnČt fit enough to make it to the fuel dock!
These homesteaders should remember that we are visiting foreigners, and that Mexico has been a friendly and graceful host. Ask any Canadian if these words would describe the U.S. immigration laws governing transiting vessels and/or the demeanor of American bureaucrats. If the anchorage or marina in La Paz is nice enough for you to literally homestead, getting the best and most convenient spots to anchor and the premier slips, you should be able to afford a dollar a day anchoring fee and $7.50 for a boat inspection ÷ and be happy about it. If not, I agree with the others ÷ you should split! If you plan on staying in the La Paz area, put a plug in it and don't make waves for us active cruisers.
We are presently in Marina Mazatlan, where Capt. Mario ÷ along with Sylvia and his entire staff ÷ bust their asses to make this a wonderful place to stay. I hope there will be a slip available to us when we have the pleasure of returning to Mexico after re-doing the cruising kitty in San Diego. However, there are quite a few seemingly abandoned vessels taking up valuable slip space. Many are for sale but will never sell due to their neglected condition and owners that expect an unfair price on a major project boat.
Thanks for the best sailing rag in print. IČm not just referring to Latitude, but the personal delivery of the March issue ÷ on March 1st ÷ while we were anchored near Profligate off Punta Mita. We were impressed with your skillful maneuvering of that huge cat around the anchorage to pull alongside Duck Soup close enough to toss an issue into our cockpit!
Larry and Lisa Benson
Duck Soup, Tartan 30
÷ WE USED TO FLOOD THE COCKPIT
In the May issue, Lloyd Lachow wrote that several small children kept him from buying a Cal 20 and getting into sailing. My response is to wonder why he lets children spoil such fun?
Our kids sailed with us before being born, and then at two weeks of age when we purchased Cal 20 hull #913. We took that boat ÷ and the kids ÷ everywhere. I will never forget our first landfall, as we used a compass to dead-reckon as well as other primitive forms of navigation. For example, first we could hear those old Grumman Goose seaplanes, then we could smell land . . . and finally Avalon Harbor came into view. We made it!
We used to take both kids to and from all parts of Catalina in the Cal 20, with a dinghy/playpen inside it ÷ and in all kinds of conditions, too. They slept below while underway. We sometimes used to flood the cockpit so they could play in water. Feeding while underway was difficult, but manageable. When we got to Emerald Bay, we'd put them in a rubber raft and guide them with snorkels so they could see all the fish.
Our kids grew up sailing and describe their childhood as "perfect". What better way for kids to grow up than with adventure, fun, challenge, teamwork, fresh air, friends and love of the sea? So I suggest that Lloyd goes for it now! If he really wants to sail, he can get the boat, integrate the family, provide much fun, and enrich his life like he can't believe. One of our sons still sails ÷ and wins races ÷ in Maui. We lost the other to skiing.
By the way, the Cal 20 has got to be one of the best all-around first-boats ever designed and built. It's a classic.
÷ JUST A TOKEN CLEANUP
I had to put down your March issue when I got to the item in Loose Lips. You see, I'm a 'survivor' of the Exxon Valdez oil spill ÷ and I havenČt seen one cent of compensation yet. Exxon lost their lawsuit and were slapped with $5 billion in punitive damages. Their attorneys have delayed the settlement for 10 years now. We the fishermen have gotten a small settlement from Alyeska, but believe me, Exxon hasnČt spent any more than was needed for a token clean-up for news crews.
They say they've spent $2 billion on the clean-up, but we doubt it. I personally watched them move a beach behind the tree line and bring in new beach material ÷ just to have CNN photograph it. This was on the north end of Knight Island. If it weren't for the citizens of California boycotting Exxon gas stations, I don't think we would have had a trial at all. As a native Californian, I'm very proud of you for fighting Exxon in the most devastating ecological disaster yet.
Your statement that "the spill cost Exxon a fortune in damages and bad publicity" is not accurate ÷ and it really upsets me. Most people seem to think that we were compensated, but we weren't. I'm the one that lost my home and marriage ÷ due to a loss of income ÷ and at 50 years of age had to start over through no fault of my own. I would ask Californians to please let our unconscionable treatment be felt by boycotting Exxon again until we get our settlement! Your pristine coastline could be next. The precedent has to be set for the whole west coast.
Allure, Columbia 50
Joe ÷ The way we see it, you were a victim of two major disasters: the oil spill and the American legal system. In our opinion, the former is but a drop in the bucket compared to the latter ÷ which is why we keep harping about it.
÷ HAMMER TIME
My 19-year-old son is trying to find his place in life. I suggested a 'college at sea'. I remember reading about such schools in Latitude, but now I can't find any. Does anyone know of a college that offers marine biology, navigation, oceanography classes aboard a sailing ship? If so, could they send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
David ÷ We've written about several such college-at-sea programs, but can't remember any of them right now. Perhaps some of our readers could help. We think the concept of such programs is terrific, as being shipped off to the typical 'education factory' isn't the right answer for lots of guys ÷ or girls ÷ at that stage in their young lives.
÷ LOW TECH WONDER
I was interested in the letter from Ben McCormack about hand-starting diesels. Perhaps I can add some information.
The device for hand-starting the 6-71 Jimmy may have been hydraulic. I bought a Navy boat some years ago that had a 6-53 motor with such a mechanism. A pump on the motor charged up a hydraulic accumulator, which energized a hydraulic starter. There was also an emergency hand pump, so perhaps a strong and patient operator could have raised enough pressure to get things going. The system was kaput when I had it, and I sold the whole thing to a mechanic who replaced it with an electrical system. But it probably worked when it was new, because the Navy wouldn't waste taxpayers' money with useless gear, would they?
Petter diesels were indeed easy to start by hand, but things went better if one strong person wound the crank ÷ English 'starting handle' ÷ with both hands while another engaged the compression levers. Fairbanks-Morse made a small two-cylinder engine in which the levers engaged automatically after a few revolutions on manual, but I never tried it out. Much British engineering was predicated on the possibility that the product would be carried on an elephant's back to some remote part of the "Empah", and there be operated by "native tribesmen", so simplicity was everything. But the Fairbanks-Morse was a U.S. motor installed in U.S. Navy whaleboats, so perhaps the Department of the Navy had an elitist view of Navy personnel also.
But at least one diesel motor had no electric starting, yet was popular in the United Kingdom and was reliable enough for the North Sea and North Atlantic in winter. The Kelvin was made in Glasgow for canny Scottish fishermen, and developed 22 low speed high torque horses per cylinder, so the four cylinder 88 hp model was found in many 50-foot trawlers. Each cylinder had a handwheel which opened up an extra part of the combustion chamber, which had a spark plug. Simple manifolding and a small carburetor supplied gas and a magneto the spark. The lowered compression allowed hand-cranking and once motoring round on gas, the handwheels were returned to diesel compression one by one ÷ which lit off the diesel oil. It wasn't very simple, but it was effective.
But let me tell you about a boat engine of sorts which started neither by hand nor electrical power, but by sneaker power. In about 1946, at a River Thames mooring where I kept a home made sharpie, an ingenious 'yachtsman' had converted a small ship's boat to a motor-sailer. The engine, not diesel, was a single cylinder hopper-cooled two-stroke farm engine. The hopper being a sheet metal open topped enclosure around the cylinder, which held several gallons of water which was allowed to boil away. The latent heat of evaporation soaked a lot of heat for not much water loss, which was easily replenished by a bucket from overside. Lubrication was from a blow torch body, which fed a few drops a minute through a sight feed regulator. Ignition was by a Model T trembler coil energized by a simple wipe contact on the crankshaft. Timing could be adjusted through a large range, controlled by a parking brake lever and ratchet. The rim of the flywheel peeked above the cockpit floor -where a cautious foot could move it.
The starting drill was to rock the motor between compressions with the spark off, enough to draw some gas into the cylinder. Then with the spark on and in a certain position, the flywheel was pushed backwards until the resulting explosion drove it forward! And away went the boat. This sounds hair-raising, but was actually no different from Elto and Evinrude outboards of many years ago. My own 1931 Elto had a knob on the flywheel for the same purpose ÷ and I thought the finger power needed was more hazardous than foot power!
Like many big ship diesels, the farm engine was direct reversing, this being accomplished by fancy movements of the timing lever. The resulting thump shivered the (clinker) timbers a little, but nothing ever broke. This motor, indeed the whole boat, was made largely from 'found' parts and cost almost nothing. Nowadays the result would be declared illegal, immoral, hazardous to the environment and so forth. But at the time and place, the modest craft gave a lot of pleasure to a nice family. Not all new high tech boats of the present can claim as much.
÷ SINGLEHANDING WOMEN
I'm a liveaboard with my partner on a Beneteau Oceanis 381. Brian introduced me to sailing about a year ago at the age of 34, and I've had quite a full year of learning and growing. Although I want to say that I love sailing, I must admit that so far it's been a real love-hate relationship. I absolutely love our boat, as she is beautiful, has clean lines, and loves to sail! Living aboard has its charms ÷ and its irritations, but none so awful that I would miss out on this great experience of a simpler lifestyle. I love the views, the sunsets, the quiet ÷ barring powerboaters and party boats ÷ and I sleep like a baby.
My reason for writing is that I recently decided that if I could singlehand our boat, even for just a daysail, I believe that I would feel a wonderful sense of empowerment and confidence in myself as a sailor ÷ and in other areas of my life. Sometimes when we sail ÷ particularly when there's a lot of wind and we're heeled way over ÷ I still experience a lot of fear. Sometimes I even get nauseous, but usually I feel better once I relax and adjust to the boat's motion. I love to be out on the ocean when there are no other boats around, but I get a bit nervous in Santa Monica Bay on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
The thing is, I really want to be able to handle any situation that arises, so I want to learn everything about our boat ÷ engine, electrical, plumbing ÷ and sailing, such as weather plotting, navigation and such. I'm about to take my first lessons, but I wondered if there are other women out there who might be willing to share their experiences with learning how to sail and how they got over their fears and nervousness about being at the helm. Emails are welcome at email@example.com.
On another subject, in your May Sightings there was a blurb about two American women who have singlehanded around the world, and a reference is made to a Polish woman, Krystna Chojnowska-Liskiewwicz, as the first woman ever to be recognized for sailing around the world. However, I recently took a book out from the library on Naomi James, who is also said to be the first woman to singlehand around the world in 1977, the same year as Krystna. Any idea who was actually first?
Anyway, thanks for the wonderful magazine. Brian and I read them through cover to cover and we learn so much! Hope to come north and visit Profligate sometime in the future.
Marina del Rey
Sofia ÷ You've raised a number of issues common to many women sailors. Let's see if we can't sort some of it out.
First of all, understand there are two types of fear when sailing. One type is good fear: that of very bad weather, falling overboard, getting hit by the boom and the like. The other type is bad fear, where you feel helpless and/or out of control because you have no confidence in your ability to control your boat ÷ and therefore your life. You always want to have the first type of fear because it's healthy, but you want to overcome the second kind of fear because it's one of your primary obstacles to sailing pleasure.
We suggest you begin eliminating your bad fears by dramatically simplifying the number of concerns that seem to be overwhelming you. When sailing there are basically only three things that matter. In order of importance, the Big Three are: 1) Having a hull that keeps water out; 2) Having a rig and sails to propel the boat through the water, and 3) Being able to steer the boat. Everything else is details. Stuff like plumbing, for instance, should be absolutely of no concern of yours at this stage. If there's a problem with the head, pee in a bucket while telling Brian to have a look at the problem. You can similarly care less about electrical problems, as you can manage just fine without instruments, lights, and even ÷ because you have sails ÷ batteries to start your engine. That's right, forget about the engine. If it won't run, you might be inconvenienced, but it's not going to cause you to sink or prevent you from being able to sail to the nearest port. So from now on, periodically remind yourself that as long as your boat isn't flooded, you're not dismasted, and you haven't broken your rudder, you don't have any major concerns.
With the Big Three out of the way, your mind will be released enough to begin understanding that the key to loving sailing is developing confidence in your abilities to control your boat. You know, to become one with her. For example, when you're sailing on port tack on Santa Monica Bay and encounter two boats on starboard, your reaction should not be fear and uncertainty ÷ but rather delightful anticipation at which way you'll respond to this opportunity for fun. Will it give you the most pleasure if you ÷ having hailed the other boats to hold their courses ÷ duck the transoms of both, duck the first and cross the second, or simply flop over on starboard a few boat lengths away from them and engage in a friendly little race? There are two great joys in sailing. One of them is being out in Nature, the second is having complete control over a seemingly complicated ÷ but actually quite simple ÷ machine, and 'dancing' with her.
However, you're never going to gain that sense of control or oneness until you've had instruction and plenty of experience ÷ which is why sailing lessons and singlehanding are such great ideas. You may want to take lessons in small and simple boats, so it will be easy to handle and there will be nothing but laughter the first five or so times you nick a buoy or another boat while ducking. Making mistakes is the key to learning, so you want to be able to feel free to do that without hurting anybody or doing too much damage. The most important thing is that you get the few sailing basics down solid, for they will give you confidence and see you through difficult times no matter what kind or size boat.
To our thinking, singlehanding is the best educator and confidence builder of them all ÷ because you know that you alone are responsible for your success. Once again, it might be easiest to start out in a small boat with a modest objective: sailing all around Marina del Rey. As your confidence builds, singlehand the Beneteau under power out around the breakwater and back, just so you get used to being alone on it and making your own decisions. Then try singlehanding her under sail, working on making your tacks and gybes as smooth as can be. As your confidence builds, you can singlehand down to Redondo or even over to Catalina to meet Brian.
When you say you think singlehanding might give you a great sense of empowerment, not only on your boat, but in other aspects of your life, you're exactly right. A couple of weeks ago, Doña de Mallorca and the Wanderer were short-tacking up the coast by Laguna Beach, when the Wanderer decided he wanted to cruise the beach in the dinghy to check out the latest in swimwear fashions. So he did, leaving de Mallorca to singlehand the 63-foot Profligate, which required tacking around reefs and such. When the Wanderer returned about an hour later, de Mallorca was strutting around the boat saying, "I can sail this thing by myself, no problem! Without a doubt. Easy. Yes siree, I don't need anybody's help sailing this boat!" And although the big cat with the self-tacking jib is particularly easy to singlehand, she was absolutely right. And the fact that she knew she could control the big boat made her feel very good and very confident. With not all that much practice, you can get that same feeling.
We hope we've been able to help, and we hope that other women will share their 'how I came to love sailing' experiences with Latitude ÷ as well as you.
With regard to the first woman to singlehand around the world, three of them did it in 1977. Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewwicz of Poland crossed her outboard track in March, having used the Panama Canal. Kiwi/Brit Naomi James didn't cross her outbound track until several weeks after Krystyna, but Naomi went around by way of the five great southern capes rather than using the Panama or Suez Canals. Later in the year, Brigitte Oudry of France went around by way of three southern capes. So Krystyna was first ÷ unless you disqualify her for using the Panama Canal.
÷ FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN AROUND
In your Sightings article entitled Peace Between the Principals on page 110 of the May 2000 issue, you credit Pat Henry of Santa Cruz with being the first American woman to sail around the world singlehanded. From the article it sounds as if she started in 1989 and finished in 1997.
While I certainly tip my hat to Pat because I think that she accomplished something really great, I wonder about Tania Aebi. I'm reading Maiden Voyage, the book Aebi wrote with Bernadette Brennan about her circumnavigation ÷ using the canals. Tania finished on November 6, 1987. Was there some problem with her claim? In any event, hers is an excellent book that I recommend.
Bruno ÷ When you get near the end of Tania's book, you'll see that she took her boyfriend along for a small part of her circumnavigation. So while we're certain she could have been the first American woman to have sailed around singlehanded, she wasn't. As far as we're concerned, the important thing to remember is not any record, but that Pat, Tania, and Karen Thorndike all accomplished something really difficult and terrific. We salute all three of them.
÷ CELL PHONES IN MEXICO
We just returned from Mexico ÷ and the last Ha-Ha ÷ in time to open the April issue and read about cell phones in Mexico. So open a bottle of tequila, sit back, and listen to our tale.
Before leaving for Mexico in June '99, I bought an AT&T cell phone and their global package for $89 a month. It worked fine in L.A., where I live, but when I got to Ensenada it only worked sometimes. During four trips back to L.A., I tried to get the problem rectified, but to no avail. I heard many excuses as to the cause of the problems, but when I contacted a supervisor he agreed with me that the system ÷ in my words ÷ sucked. So I cancelled my contract after four months. But they refused to buy my phone back because I'd had it more than 30 days. I feel they have a nice rip-off going.
My First Mate ÷ being the nice guy that he is ÷ suggested that we get a phone in Mexico. "Go to hell," I said. But like I say, he's a nice guy, so he bought one. Mexico has a system where there is no monthly charge; you just buy the phone for $39, put some money in an account, and you're in business. When the money runs out, the phone quits working. What could be more simple?
We were told that the phone would only work in Baja, but when we got to the mainland we could have had it reactivated. The phone worked fine in and around Ensenada, but once you got away from repeaters, it would quit until you picked up other ones. When we got to mainland Mexico, we had it activated again ÷ and then the fun began. The phone never worked! I repeat, never! Upon returning to Cabo to have it reactivated for Baja, we found out that a computer screw-up had prevented it from working on the mainland. Bad, bad computer! My First Mate's blood pressure went right through the roof when he heard that.
In closing, I don't know about calling cards that you buy, but before I left the States I got an AT&T calling card for free and signed up for their One Rate Global Plan at $3 a month. The calls worked out to about 50-cents a minute, but it wouldn't work on all phones.
We're getting ready for the Ha-Ha 2000, so we'll see you in Mexico ÷ but hopefully not in front of a phone booth!
Donna Rose and Mike Wasco
÷ MORE PHONES IN MEXICO
Because of cloning, U.S. cellular phones do not work in Mexico. Several years ago Airtouch assured us that our phone would function in Mexico using a verification station in Boston to prevent cloning. But we could never get it to work, so we gave up on the service.
There are several Mexican cell companies operating, but roaming doesnČt seem to work well, and there's also the problem of payment. If you're going to be based in one area, Mexican cell phones would be fine, but they don't seem to work if you travel.
Ladatel and Telmex pay phones are widely available, and by using a phone card you can keep calls to the U.S. down to about $1 a minute. Never use any other phone, as they are very expensive! Better yet, you can sign up with GlobalTalk through MinervaČs in Puerto Vallarta and the States for $.41 a minute. They bill your credit card.
For email, there are cyber cafes all over Mexico. Many folks are using pocketmail ÷ an email service that comes with its own cell phone size computer just for that purpose. They work with any phone worldwide. The ham email winlink system is due to expand its parameters soon, which will ease the propagation problem by being able to access your mail from any winlink station. It might also be able to offer limited Internet access as well.
Geves and Jane Kenny
San Diego / Puerto Vallarta
Geves & Jane ÷ Some U.S. cell phones do work in Mexico. After arriving in Puerto Vallarta, one of our crew took his phone to a cell phone store and got $50 worth of phone time put on it. And it worked just fine.
÷ TRYING TO GET EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I CAN
While reading the April 2000 issue, I noticed a letter from a reader mentioning a First Time CruiserČs Guide published by Latitude. Where can I get one?
We purchased our Hunter 40 last year, and plan to take off cruising in October 2001. So I'm trying to get every bit of information that I can.
Mona ÷ The First Timer's Guide To Cruising Mexico is only available to those who attend the Mexico Crew List Party and Ha-Ha Kick-Off and Reunion Party at the Encinal YC in October, or to those who participate in the Ha-Ha. As they say about CD compilations on late night television, "Not available in stores!"
÷ INTERNATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE
While on one of the boats here in Paradise Village, the subject of health insurance for cruisers came up. Since I also saw this question raised in the April Latitude, I'd like to share my thoughts.
My former husband was a hospital administrator and, over the years, I was the caregiver to five elderly parents and in-laws, so I appreciate the value of health insurance. When I went cruising 1996, I didnČt leave home without it. But in just three years, my individual policy premium with a stateside provider skyrocketed far beyond my cruising budget. That's when I learned about ASA, Inc., International Insurance Consultants, in Phoenix. They can be reached at 888-ASA-8288 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Cesar and Theresa Cornejo represent International Health Insurance, Danmark a/s, the largest health insurance provider in Denmark.
This company offers "worldwide protection ÷ total freedom of choice regarding country, hospital and physician ÷ coverage up to $2,000,000 U.S. ÷ air ambulance and no exclusion of dangerous activities or sports." They offer a lot more, too, but you get the idea. They also say they accept any age with lifetime guaranteed renewability ÷ a nice feature for many cruisers who waited awhile to get started in this lifestyle!
Last week I asked Mike Potter, Director of AmeriMed, the American hospital here in Puerto Vallarta, what it would cost for an air evacuation back to the States. His estimate of $25,000 is the exact amount included in the basic policy. Higher coverage is available at an additional cost.
You must, however, be able to provide the company with an address outside the United States. I suppose that they, like a lot of other companies worldwide, don't want to get involved with the United States legal system. If you can handle this requirement, the policy is definitely worth looking into.
Another letter further into the April issue asked about calling back to the States. It is not the easiest thing to do here in Mexico ÷ in fact, it can be a major frustration ÷ but here are a few suggestions that may help: AT&T offers a non-subscriber card. This is a calling card for those of us who no longer have a home billing address. They wonČt debit your credit card, so you will have to prepay or have someone stateside pay for you. Ask for their One Rate Universal calling plan. The rate is very good, 29 cents a minute from Mexico to the U.S. after the 99-cent connection fee. Rates to the U.S. from Europe may vary, but my calls from Norway were 29 cents and from Germany 49 cents a minute. There is also a $3 or $4 monthly fee.
Cell phones are also a great way to keep in touch ÷ especially since working pay phones are often hard to find in Mexico. (Marina Mazatlan is a wonderful exception, as Mario provides pay phones at the top of each dock!). One option is to visit one of the cellular phone companies and purchase their card system. You can buy cards in different peso amounts depending upon the number of air minutes you need, and they will program your phone on the spot.
While I'm on the subject of tips for those coming down next fall, I would like to recommend that everyone bring down a two-stage in-line water filtration system. This is a series of two canisters that attach to your filler hose. The first filter should be a large micron one to take out sediment, and the second filter should be 0.5 microns to take out bacteria like giardia. Puerto Vallarta claims their water is potable when it leaves the plant, but they go on to say that they cannot guarantee what condition it is in by the time it gets through all their old, leaky pipes to the dock! You should be able to find these filters at any home improvement store. This is an inexpensive way to insure good drinking water wherever you sail. With these filters you don't really need a watermaker while cruising Mexico ÷ unless you want to anchor out for extended periods of time. After all, marinas dot the coastline down here in mainland Mexico.
It's too bad you're not down here now, as it's Semana Santa or Easter, the most important religious event and fiesta of the year. The celebrations go on for two weeks, during which time everyone flocks to the beaches to soak up the sun, race in the bay, and go like hell on their personal watercraft. One big party!
Mary ÷ Thanks for the tips. We know it's bad for our image, but we prefer hanging on the hook and reading history books ÷ we're currently into the French Revolution ÷ rather than partying with crowds.
÷ FOOLS OF THE ROAD PHOTO
There is a photo of my boat on pages 116-117 of the May issue. Since itČs not easy getting a photo of my boat under sail, I was wondering if I could purchase a print. If so, let me know how much and where to send the money. I would also like to know when and where the photo was taken ÷ I'm guessing it was last year somewhere near Point Bonita.
The photo shows my boat appearing to about to be run down by a container ship. Thank you for making it clear in the caption that this was an optical illusion created by a telephoto lens ÷ but my friends are still having a good laugh at me and my boat being in the Fools of the Road article with speeding power boats and a grounded Triton. But I still like your magazine.
Ann, Valiant 32
Richard ÷ 8x10 black & white copies of most photos that appear in Latitude can be purchased by calling (415) 383-8200, extension 106, or emailing email@example.com.
The photo was taken on April 8 of this year, not last year. You were about halfway between Mile Rock and the Golden Gate, and it was about 3:30 pm.
By the way, if all goes well ÷ and it never does ÷ we hope to start posting great color photographs of Bay boats on our website. We'll be offering them for sale in order to try to recoup a small amount of our photoboat expenses. Check out latitude38.com after June 15.
We're moving our boat to San Diego to save money, then we're off cruising in Mexico. We have two questions:
1) Any recommendations on where to leave a boat for six months after the Baja Ha-Ha 2000?
2) Do you have any possible itineraries for a one-year cruise to Mexico ÷ a cruise that starts in July instead of November?
P.S. Great magazine! Please find the enclosed subscription request. Is Azerbaijam your most remote readership?
Ben and Killi
Ben & Kelli ÷ If you need a place to keep your boat for six months after the Ha-Ha, and will be starting your one-year cruise in July, we'd recommend storing your boat on the hard in La Paz or in the water at Mazatlan. There are other options, but these are the least expensive and the closest to the Ha-Ha finish.
The rain, heat, humidity and hurricanes of mainland Mexico during the summer means you'd want to start your cruise in the Sea of Cortez. The winds are pretty light out of the south, so you can enjoy sailing downwind up into the Sea. There is no real itinerary to the Sea of Cortez in the summer, just go where you want when you want. Some folks like to spend August and September ÷ the most frequent hurricane months ÷ further up into the Sea so they'll have more warning and less chance of getting hit.
Come early November, we'd head south and over to the mainland. Lucky you, the wind will be coming out of the north to northwest, so it will be downwind, too. If we were you, we'd head all the way south to Z-town for the holidays, then slowly work our way back north to be in Banderas Bay in late March for the Banderas Bay Regatta. But the truth of the matter is that the only thing you have to remember when cruising Mexico is to be in the Sea of Cortez in the summer and on the mainland in the winter. Everything else is personal preference.
Thanks for the kind words. Unfortunately, we don't accept foreign subscriptions as we don't have the staffing required to do them. But to date, our most remote readers have been at the South Pole and high up on Mt. Everest.
÷ HUGENOT'S WAY
I agree completely with Alan HugenotČs May issue recommendations for making the trip north from San Francisco to Cape Flattery ÷ and vice versa. My wife Kay and I made the trip south in August of '90 ÷ after sailing from Japan to the Pacific Northwest to complete a circumnavigation of the Pacific ÷ and used the same tactics he recommends. Shortly afterwards, I wrote an article similar to his for 48º North ÷ although I didn't have the benefit of the multiple trips that Alan has made. But it was nice to see someone with his experience reaffirm the advice I have been giving to others.
The traditional recommendation of going 75-100 miles offshore before turning south ÷ or north ÷ is a remnant from the days when many cruising boats didnČt sail very well upwind, and/or had no engines. Some still take it as gospel, but hopefully Hugenot's article will cause others to consider the harbor-hopping alternative.
On more than one occasion while we were in port going out to eat and renting movies, others in the 'Class of 90' that had taken the offshore route were battling 45-knot winds and barely making any progress at all. I recall that one boat had made a total of nine miles in one 24-hour period. That's hard on the boat and the crew. We also stopped for a rest or weather break at Shelter Cove and DrakeČs Bay.
The only thing I would add to Hugenot's article is why wait until you get to Mexico or the San Juans to go into cruising mode? There are lots of neat things to do and see in Fort Bragg, such as the Skunk Railroad; Old Town and the Samoa Cookhouse in Eureka; Jed Smith State Park and the Redwoods in Crescent City; and the wonderful Oregon State University Aquarium in Newport. While sitting out the lows that Hugenot describes in his article, we had great times exploring each of the ports we called at along this beautiful coast.
We're about two years away from heading south again. This time we hope to visit the other Pacific Coast ports we missed last time: Westport, Coos Bay, and Brookings.
Steve Van Slyke
Linda R. of San Diego wrote in to ask women about their experiences when signing up with Ha-Ha boats just before the start of the event. I have a whole presentation I give to anyone about crewing offshore on other peopleČs boats, but it's especially for women. And I've done all of my 30,000 offshore miles ÷ including a Ha-Ha ÷ on other people's boats because my boats have always been under 20 feet.
While I can't give my whole talk here, the general procedure is always the same. First, the potential crewperson has to be clear about what they want. You have apparently decided that you want to do the Ha-Ha. Before I crew, I always ask about the boat type, how long the owner has had her, and his ocean experience. You can get as far as you wish into the list of stuff on the boat, but for me, the condition of the bottom and the rigging is even more important. I also give priority to a windvane self-steering over superfluous electronic toys, but thatČs just my personal preference.
Since things happen between women and men, you also need to be clear with the skipper/crew ÷ and yourself ÷ about relationships. Are you open, interested, indifferent or not interested? There's nothing wrong with either party wanting or not wanting a relationship, but it's best if everyone is honest about it from the beginning and doesn't play games. Along these lines, you'll want to know in advance if you'll have your own bunk, be splitting a double, or hot-bunking.
I'm also careful to ascertain what the owner's expectations are regarding my share of the work, time commitment and financial participation. The more clear everyone is about everything from the outset, the greater are the chances of having a successful trip. Since you live in San Diego, Linda, you could do a test run from San Francisco or Monterey south. If you weren't happy with the situation, you could get off and easily make your way back home ÷ something you couldn't do once you started the Ha-Ha.
With regard to my own experience with the Ha-Ha, I loved the boat, the trip, the sailing and the stops. But it all went to hell when the skipperČs girlfriend soured on him and he kicked everyone off!
Crewing on Halcyon
Sea of Cortez
÷ YOU NEVER KNOW UNTIL YOU MAKE A CLAIM
In response to George BackhusČ report on insurance claims being paid and being paid on time, I would like to clarify our situation. Our Hylas 47 Woodstock was lost on a reef in Tonga on Halloween. We'd been sold insurance by the same brokerage as Backhus, but our policy was underwritten by Lloyds of London.
We did receive full payment after four months. But we felt our broker treated us as poorly as Backhus felt his treated him: between indifferent and nasty. I just chalked it up to typical Florida insensitivity, but was surprised to hear that Backhus felt pretty much the same about the California outfit.
Our experience has been that when you shop for insurance, the brokers will bend over backwards to get your business. But when the odd claim like ours comes along ÷ we were devastated to lose everything ÷ they almost treat you as though you were a criminal. Our insurance experience was frightening ÷ but it did pay. Since our loss was total, there was no adjustment, so in that sense we didn't end up as bad off as Backhus. Although when I asked the broker whether they'd like to get some of their money back by insuring our next boat, he pretty much told me to forget it.
We have since discovered that we could not replace Woodstock in New Zealand. Our Hylas 47 was truly a strong, well-built yacht ÷ the likes of which are not to be found in New Zealand or Australia. So we bought a house. But the one thing I learned was that you never really know if you have insurance until you make a claim.
Pepper ÷ A couple of comments:
1) New Zealand is known as a country that builds tremendous boats. As a general rule, however, they greatly favor performance boats to heavier-is-better designs.
2) In defense of insurance brokers, once a claim is filed, to a large extent they're out of the loop, having been replaced by the claims adjuster and underwriters. The really good ones, however, seem to be able to go to bat for their customers.
3) Lloyds of London, which is a gathering of many different underwriting syndicates rather than a single underwriter, hasn't always been the greatest either. We once had a $10,000 claim on Big O ÷ we T-boned the base of the Carquinez Bridge ÷ that took them nearly a year to pay. Later, when times were really bad for some of the syndicates, they went several months without acknowledging or responding to phone calls and faxes from their brokers in the States. Because our brokers were completely unable to establish any contact with them, we had to do three weeks worth of charters ÷ with no insurance!
Lloyds' syndicates can also be quirky. When we wanted to get our policy renewed one year, the broker informed us that it wouldn't be any problem ÷ other than that our mast would be excluded from coverage. The underwriter explained: "The head of the syndicate said that they had to pay several claims on expensive masts last year, so we can insure all the boats we want, but no masts."
We have looked everywhere for information on the Wash-Wizz, which we first saw on page 231 of your September '99 issue. Can you tell us who makes it and where we can buy one?
Evelene D. Payne-Gallardo
Evelene ÷ Unfortunately, we don't know who makes them and/or sells them. If any of our readers could help out, we'd really appreciate it, as Doña de Mallorca wants one for Profligate.
÷ SOUTH TOWER RACE
Stockton Sailing Club's annual South Tower Race ÷ from Stockton around Blackaller Buoy and back to Stockton ÷ has always been a special event for me, one with meaning that transcends that of a typical sailboat race. In fact, the 'South Tower' became my rite of passage.
The concept of the race is simple: an 140-mile excursion from Stockton to the Golden Gate Bridge and back. In reality, it's anything but simple. It usually takes between 24 and 36 hours, and typically you'll encounter everything from calms to 30 knots or more. During the long beat to the Bay, participants can expect to have to tack at least 200 times, and on two occasions face strong adverse currents that can see their boats drifting over dubiously charted shoals. In addition, the big changes in wind speeds mean lots of headsail changes. Historically speaking, the strongest winds, the majority of the headsail changes, and the trickiest navigation all occur in the middle of the spray-filled night when the crew is wet, cold and totally exhausted.
Some claim the South Tower Race is just too grueling to be fun. Others say it lacks the competition of an around-the-buoys event. I think these people are missing the point. The South Tower is an annual challenge ÷ to me, it has become a ritual test of perseverance and character. It's not just a sailboat race, but a life-changing quest of nearly epic proportions! Every sailor with an adventurous spirit should experience this race at least once.
Stockton Sailing Club
© 2000 Latitude 38