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LOOKING FOR DAD
I don't know where to go to try to find information on my father, Donald Slifert. He left Mazatlan for the Marquesas on April 24 aboard his 32-foot Tahiti ketch Valor. He advised me that the trip should take him about four weeks. Well, it's been six weeks now and I'm getting very worried, as he's always been very good about checking in. Is there any shortwave group or something like that which I can contact to try to find him?
Readers - We'd directed Hope to YOTREPS
a site that takes radio reports from boats all over the Eastern
Pacific each day and publishes their positions. The next day Hope
contacted us with some good news:
"My father, thank God, checked in with one of my sisters this morning. I also understand that one of my many messages to various nets got through to him. But thank you."
Frankly, we didn't think there was anything to worry about in the first place, as a Tahiti ketch can take well over a month on a trip to the Marquesas, particularly in years when the trades are funky. In addition, there are lots of 'overdue dads' and 'overdue parents' out cruising. Please folks, stay in touch with your kids even though they never did when they were in high school!
- SURVIVOR? BALONEY!
My wife Cate and I are presently loving life, meandering our way across the South China Sea. We thought we'd share something with your readers that we found to be both amusing and annoying during a recent passage from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan, via Pulau Tiga.
Pulau Tiga is a small island six miles off the coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. It's the site on which the CBS network recently filmed Survivor, the Robinson Crusoe-type challenge where they maroon a group of contestants with little more than a Swiss Army knife. The person who lasts the longest wins a million bucks. Sound difficult?
I've just read about the series in the Washington Post, which described Pulau Tiga as a "remote island near Borneo which has been virtually untouched by civilization for centuries." Well, word must have gotten out quickly, because when we arrived we found ourselves surrounded by noisy jet-skis racing from the two beach resorts! "Remote?" "Untouched by civilization for centuries?" Bilge!
Tiga is actually a beautiful tropical island that features giant trees, nature walks, a bubbling mud volcano, colorful birds, great diving and so forth. But the newest tourist attraction is the "primitive temple ruins" built from styrofoam and plastic by the television crews, I suppose, to add to the savage mystery of the set that CBS is trying to pass off as an "uncharted remote island." It's closer to Gilligan's Island, if you ask us.
By the way, I purchased our boat from Carol 'Hawaiian Eye' Post in Honolulu, although I was forced to change the name as I couldn't live with a boat named after a sea slug!
Polly Brooks, Worldcruiser Pilothouse 37
Labaun, off the Coast of Borneo, South China Sea
- WHINE DE LA PAZ
While visiting fellow cruisers in the States, I was privileged to find a copy of May's Latitude and thoroughly agree with your assessment of the whiners, snivelers and complainers in La Paz. As a cruiser, Class of Baja Ha-Ha '97, who likes to come back to La Paz and specifically Marina de La Paz I was amazed and embarrassed at all the hullabaloo regarding safety inspections. It is still their country, and they can do anything they damn well please. We Americans are only visitors FM3 certificates notwithstanding.
As for Mary Shroyer at Marina de La Paz and Hamish at Lopez Marine, cruisers couldn't ask for better friends! We love Mexico all of it and hope to continue cruising there for many years to come. La Paz is a wonderful stop on the circuit despite the whiners, snivelers and the horrendously rude 'radio police'.
Patricia - As reported in the last issue, the safety inspections have apparently faded away on their own as had been suggested by Mary Shroyer and others familiar with the way things work in Mexico.
- HEADING TO THE CARIBBEAN
My wife and I are considering crewing on a sailboat headed to the Caribbean during the fall of 2000, and wondered if a publication like Latitude 38 exists for the East Coast and possibly Florida sailors. Any other advice on securing a crew position destined for the Caribbean would be much appreciated.
Richard - There are two East Coast magazines
modeled after Latitude that come to mind: Spin Sheet out of Annapolis
(www.spinsheet.com) and Southwinds down in St. Pete (www.southwinds.com).
Keeping in mind, however, that there are more options in getting from the East Coast to the Caribbean than there are from the West Coast to Mexico. Sailors in the Northeast, for example, usually will sail direct or via Bermuda to the Caribbean, while Florida sailors particularly those with smaller boats tend to opt for the harbor-hopping 'Thorny Path'. (See this month's Changes for a report.) Offshore from the Northeast is the quickest but potentially more difficult route. We'd hesitate to recommend it to middle-age folks who haven't done much ocean sailing. The 'Thorny Path' which involves lots of stops to wait out weather generally offers more benign conditions, but its extended nature might ultimately lead to strained relations on a smaller boat.
Assuming that you're enthusiastic sailors in good health with some offshore experience, we'd suggest you go for the offshore route perhaps as part of the West Marine 1500 that starts on November 5. Contact them at www.carib1500.com.
- ANOTHER AFRICAN-AMERICAN CIRCUMNAVIGATOR
When we traveled south through the Caribbean in the spring of 1998, circumstances resulted in our meeting Alfred Irving, an African-American who was close to completing a singlehanded circumnavigation. While Irving was entering the anchorage in St. George's Lagoon, Grenada, he seemed to be having transmission problems, so we went over to help. As it turned out, he was able to anchor on his own, but the incident provided us with an introduction. We had dinner together later, during which time Irving entertained us with tales of his trip.
As we recollect, Irving was sailing Bojangles, an aft-cockpit boat in the 35 to 38-foot range. He believed that when he finished his trip, he'd have become only the third African-American to sail around the world singlehanded. Since he was doing it by way of the Suez and Panama Canals, as opposed to the five southern capes, he figured his might also be the longest of the three African-American circumnavigations. In order to complete his trip around the world, he just had to sail back to the East Coast.
If Carl Martin or Mike Belt who were interested in information about African-American sailors will contact me at pete4jenniev @ hotmail.com, I will be glad to share the forwarding address Irving gave me at the time.
By the way, my husband just obtained his General Class Ham license under the new and easier rules. As such, this letter was sent to you via ham email from our boat at anchor in the Virgin Islands. We're using our SGC 2000 radio and a Pactor IIe modem. We were able to install everything ourselves, and the system is relatively easy to use.
Pete and Jennie Vanden Brulle
Jennie V, Pearson 424
Pete and Jennie - Great information,
thanks for sharing it.
The Virgins, eh? It's been several years since the Wanderer has been down there, but there are two things he still misses. The first is the near idyllic sailing conditions in the relatively smooth waters of the Sir Francis Drake Channel. No wonder it's the charter capital of the universe. The second is the warm, blue water. Every morning the Wanderer used to wake up on Big O, drag himself half asleep on deck, and throw his body over the side and into the water. No matter how many Pusser's Painkillers he'd enjoyed the night before, it was a salubrious way to greet the new day.
- RETARD THE TIMING FOR SMOOTHER RUNNING
I'm a little reluctant to write about something as dull as diesel motors when everyone else is writing about bare-breasted young women, but I think it's best when we write about what we're most familiar with. A few years ago I wrote a rather detailed letter about how to develop a comfortable relationship with one's diesel engine. Since that time I have learned something else of considerable importance that I'd like to share with others.
During the repowering of some small construction equipment, we purchased some brand new, Navy surplus Perkins 4-236 diesel engines. Don't ask me why the Navy bought a lot of them and then immediately declared them surplus. When I noticed that the motors were identical to the one in my boat, I had one installed. When we fired it up, we were surprised at how smooth it ran, as it seemed to run more like a sewing machine than a typical diesel. We also found that it would not achieve its rated rpms.
After rechecking the throttle linkage and tachometer, I called the factory and talked to a very helpful and knowledgeable representative. He kindly traced the serial number back to the factory, and informed me that my engine had been set up to pump deicing fluid on a large airplane! That meant that the injector pump timing had been retarded so the motor could run on jet fuel rather than diesel. I had the option of either leaving it slow and smooth, or retiming it to make it run faster and rougher. The timing controls the moment the explosion or combustion takes place in relation to the position of the piston during its stroke. The higher up the piston, the smaller the combustion chamber and therefore the more violent the explosion. And vice versa.
The main reason diesel engines run louder and rougher than gasoline engines is because of the difference in the intensity of the explosion. I've owned my Cheoy Lee 50 Orient Star for 28 years, and during that time have increased the size and pitch of the propeller and accumulated a lot of data on fuel consumption and efficiency. After using trial and error to find the proper propeller, I now know that a 70 hp engine is much too large for my 50-footer. So I only run it at 1,200 rpms to get six knots at a fuel consumption of .65 gallons per hour, and at 1,500 rpms for seven knots at one gallon per hour. Above that, fuel consumption increases more dramatically than does the speed.
In my particular case, I decided to leave the motor timing retarded until I accumulate some fuel consumption data. But I expect it to be even better, since I know that it requires energy in the form of diesel fuel to move a boat up and down and sideways as well as forward.
It's a fact that boats are available in thousands of different shapes, sizes and weights, while there are only a few different sizes of diesel engines. As a result, probably 90% of all boats are either overpowered or underpowered. In the early days, most boats were underpowered, but now I believe the vast majority are overpowered. If I had known that trading some of those unneeded rpms would result in such a decrease in noise and vibration, I would have detuned the original motor many years ago.
If others would also like to benefit from this knowledge, these are the steps to follow:
1) Ascertain just how much too large your motor is for your boat. The way to do that is to increase the size of your prop, if possible, then the pitch, until you can just barely reach the rated rpms while turning the propeller. A diesel motor is not overloaded as long as you can increase the rpms under load. If you cannot increase the rpms under load, you are lugging or overloading. De-tuning will decrease the higher rated rpms, but it does not mean the engine is lugging.
2) Once you have the size propeller that will put the proper load on the motor, you will see that your boat will reach your desired speed at lower rpms. Any increase beyond that will just result in water being pushed backwards.
3) If your motor will give you all the performance you want at less than top rpms, you can safely use some of that capacity to reduce the roughness and vibration.
4) Most engines will have two timing adjustments. One will be for very small adjustments, and will either be in the pump itself or, in the case of Perkins, you have to loosen the pump mounting bolts and twist the pump. Consult your manual.
5) If this does not retard the motor enough, you should hire a professional to make a larger adjustment by retiming the gear train.
I hope your results are as good as mine, because it is really nice to realize you have started the motor without putting away your wife's precious vase and the vase is still sitting on the shelf as safe as can be.
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee 50
- A MORE ACCURATE PERCEPTION
For a long time I've heard and read many objections to people living aboard their boats. In light of recent events at both Docktown and Peninsula Marinas in Redwood City, along with the eviction of liveaboards in other Bay Area marinas, I feel compelled to create a more accurate view of living aboard for those who haven't been fortunate enough to ever try it.
I've lived aboard in Redwood City for 13 years and have kept pretty quiet about it until now because if others knew how great it was, the marinas would be overflowing with people. Here's just one reason: On any hot summer afternoon or evening while urbanites are struggling on the freeways to get to the beach or their sweltering backyards, we can be found on the decks of our boats or out on the docks visiting with our neighbors. Or we might be in our dinghies, putting around in the local creeks and sloughs, enjoying the breeze, nature, and waving to other mariners as they pass by.
According to my unofficial survey, the vast majority of liveaboards are decent, hard-working, tax-paying voters. They are engineers, computer programmers, mechanics, accountants, bookkeepers, truck drivers, and just about anything else you can think of. The largest majority are men and women in search of affordable housing which is undeniably at a premium in the Bay Area. The second group of which my husband, my son, and I are members are simply in search of an alternative lifestyle. We don't want to live in the suburbs with a six-foot fence between us and neighbors we'll never really get to know. The rest of the liveaboards do it for a variety of reasons.
The one thing we seem to have in common is an independent nature. Other than relying on our neighbors for advice and help when things break, we're pretty much on our own.
The diversity is nice, too, for where else in the Bay Area would you find a $500,000 house next to a $10,000 cabin and the occupants live in relative harmony? If there was a $10,000 residence on land among half-million dollar houses, people would say, "There goes the neighborhood." But in a marina it's this kind of diversity that makes living aboard so overwhelmingly appealing with a yacht next to a sailboat, next to a cabin cruiser, next to a houseboat, and so forth.
In nearly every community, you'll find neighbors who don't mow their lawn, leave their trash cans out, park broken down cars in their yards, and generally don't respect their property. Land-based homeowners and their associations can rely on laws, public safety officers, and code enforcement to help solve these problems. Apparently this isn't the case in marinas. The tenants in our marina, for example, formed a boatowner's association to address these kinds of issues, but so far we have met with a brick wall in discussions with the owners and their management. When our complaints about health and safety violations have been forwarded to public officials, we've hit a brick wall because nobody can decide who is responsible to enforce them.
Living aboard a boat doesn't make anyone 'boat trash'. On the contrary, living aboard teaches people firsthand the value of taking care of the environment and our waterways. We can't just flush the gook down the drain and forget about it because we are at the end of that drain.
My point is this: responsible marinas need responsible liveaboards to monitor and apprise management of what's happening, to protect the marina's assets, to watch out for boats that might be damaged during storms, and so forth. Communities need liveaboards, too to provide affordable housing and to monitor and report on the activities on their waterways. We can't let this lifestyle die out due to prejudices, lack of knowledge, misinformation and/or other political agendas. We invite others to come and gain firsthand knowledge of what responsible liveaboards are about.
Deby - In our view there are only three
groups who object to liveaboards. 1) Well-meaning but ignorant
'environmentalists' who don't really understand the concept of
living small. 2) Bureaucrats such as in the Bay Conservation and
Development Commission, who are more interested in telling people
how to live than they are in preserving the environment. And,
3) Boat owners who can't find a berth because the marinas are
filling up with folks using anything that floats as low-cost housing.
As time goes on and both the berthing and housing shortages become even more critical, we think people who only use their boats as homes and we're not sure if you fall into this category are going to come under increasing pressure from both traditional enemies such as the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, other government know-it-alls, and 'environmental activists', as well as the boating industry and people frustrated with trying to find a place to put their boats. After all, it's already on the books that using public waters for housing is not an approved use and getting the general public to do a 180 on that issue is as likely as being able to enjoy a Slurpee in hell. On the other hand, 'incidental' living aboard meaning living aboard a boat that is frequently used for recreational purposes is much easier to justify. Even the BCDC allows a certain amount of it if they get their cut and the marina will dance to their jig.
Northern California in 2000 is not a good place or time for those who use their boats merely for living aboard and it's not going to get better any time soon.
- LOW RENT ATTITUDES
We now live on the East Coast but have a comment on the liveaboard situation.
We lived aboard our Vancouver 27 in Hawaii for three years, and ironically were finally chased off the boat when the marina made living aboard legal! Yes, after three years of serenity and simplicity including the twice weekly ice haul and drifting around in our dink we were surrounded by clamors for 50-amp shorepower, cable television service, and phones on the docks. All the great reasons we had for living aboard went away with the arrival of the 50-foot 'condo commandos' and their families who never went sailing.
Given the expensive real estate and high rents, living aboard on Oahu was very desirable. Despite some of your reader's assertions, a lot of people lived aboard their boats simply because it was cheaper. This was borne out by the poor condition of their boats and their low-rent attitudes.
If we had to do it again, we'd live aboard but low-key, the way it was done our first three years. Keeping the boat sailing every weekend and not making a big issue regarding amenities was the sure way to keep the non-sailors out and the legality issue moot.
Dave - You're preaching to the choir. For the true sailor-liveaboard, the best situation is to be an inconspicuous sneakaboard in a marina where living aboard is prohibited. This involves using one's boat on a regular basis and not lining the docks with plants and pets. There's nothing wrong with the latter in marinas where liveaboards are legal assuming that you can find one and are willing to pay what almost certainly will be an additional fee.
- BOB'S DELTA RECOMMENDATION
As Latitude no doubt begins to prepare a yearly article on cruising up the Delta, I would like to put in a plug for Old Town Sacramento as a stopover. The public dock has water, electrical hook-ups, security, and provisions can be found nearby. As a destination, I can't think of a more entertaining and educational stop for a cruising family with children. There's a train museum, great restaurants, and Old Town itself. The Capitol Mall is two blocks away, with many great shops, movies and watering holes and the Capitol building and the Ford Museum. It's also possible to expand the range of a family's visit by taking city ground transportation or by the River Otter water taxi.
We had a great visit when we stayed at the dock last summer, but have a few words of caution. First, plan to pump your holding tank at a pump-out station prior to your arrival, and use the public restrooms as much as possible. In addition, radio the Tower Bridge and wait for an opening prior to leaving the dock. Because of the current and dock's proximity to the bridge, there's not much time to make adjustments once you've cast off.
Grand Marina, Alameda
Bob - Thanks for your recommendation.
Any other nominations?
- PLOP PLOP, FIZZ FIZZ
To the woman who was looking for the little enclosed plastic tub that you rotate with a handle to wash clothes: I have one. It really works well, too. But when I use cold water, I put an Alka-Seltzer table in each load to create the pressure needed to work out dirt that would normally come from hot water. It really seems to do the trick.
San Francisco Bay
- SAILING NAKED
The June Latitude contained an inquiry regarding the Wash Wizz. We bought one for our Tayana 37 Piece 0' Cake a few weeks ago from one of the mail order catalogs. Although ours is called the Super Wash, it's obviously the same gadget. We paid about $30 for it. It's simple and well-made, but we haven't used it so we don't know how well it works yet.
When my wife and I cruised Piece 0' Cake in the South Pacific a few years ago, I found that sailing naked kept the washing problem to within reasonable limits. It was fun, too in an exhibitionistic kind of way.
I must also comment on the recent comments of others on Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey- Maturin series. I've enjoyed his books very much. I love the solid sense of scholarship regarding the era's boats and their lore, and O'Brian's language skills perfectly evoke the period. I'm left rather awed that O'Brian was able to live much of his life over 100 years before he was born and through his novels transport me back in time also.
Derek - In an upcoming issue we'll have
a true story in which a Latitude reader teaches O'Brian to sail.
No, we're not kidding.
As for the Wash Wizz or whatever anybody wants to call it, we got a million responses, as we're apparently the only ones who don't own one. But you were the only respondent to include a photo of yourself buck naked up the mast. Naked feels great on the ocean, doesn't it?
Reader Henry Agard of Sunnyvale was even nice enough to send Doña de Mallorca, head of laundry aboard Profligate, a brand new Wash Wizz as a present. When we saw de Mallorca a few hours later, she and some others on the dock were in high spirits. "We'd rather party than do laundry," she explained. "If you fill the Wash Wizz with one big bag of ice, two bottles of Pusser's Rum, and a bunch of tonic, all your laundry problems will be forgotten."
- AUBREY AGAINST HORNBLOWER?
Many thanks for your comments about not being enamored with Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin historical novels. After hearing nothing but positive comments about the series, I finally read one book a few years ago and found it to be marginally entertaining at best. I couldn't bring myself to read another in the series. Until seeing your comments, I thought I was the only one who was not ready to canonize Patrick O'Brian.
While in high school too many years ago, I read a number of the Horatio Hornblower novels by C.S. Forrester and thoroughly enjoyed them. I don't think Jack Aubrey would stand a chance against Hornblower, who in my memory was the coolest officer in the Royal Navy.
Catalina 38, Chanteuse
- WOMEN ON THE HA-HA
You asked for feedback on the Ha-Ha from women who signed on as crew. As a result, I'm writing you a letter that I should have written five years ago. I did the '95-'96 rally with Jim Meeker and his all-women crew aboard the Cal 34 Tafia. I had the time of my life!
I'd met Jim through a crew ad in Latitude just before he left Redwood City for San Diego. I joined the boat in Los Angeles and stayed on until Puerto Vallarta. I know this sounds corny, but it changed my life, and I returned home with the goals of working on my sailing skills and building up a cruising kitty.
I left the Bay Area in November of '99 on what I hope will be a four-year circumnavigation. Things didn't work out on the first boat I crewed on, but while in Banderas Bay I met Jay Malkin, and am now crewing for him aboard his C&C 40 Asta Erin. We're now anchored out in the flats off Colon, Panama. In a few days we'll be leaving for the San Blas Islands and Cartagena, Colombia.
By the way, I bumped into my old skipper, Jim Meeker, while in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico.
Jan - We're glad that the Ha-Ha worked out well for you. We also admire your perseverance. Just because the first ride on your circumnavigation didn't work out, you didn't give up.
- BUT THE HA-HA HASN'T WORKED FOR ALL WOMEN
I haven't had a chance to participate in the Ha-Ha but I've certainly tried. The first time was about four years ago. I didn't receive many responses to my ad perhaps because I live in Washington. But some of those who did respond seemed to be quite interested in things besides my ability to stand watches, navigate, do sail changes, or even make coffee. In fact, one man point blank asked if I "enjoyed sex".
I tried to crew again in '98. This time, in addition to putting my name on the crew list, I flew to San Francisco for the Ha-Ha Crew Party. I figured that if I met the skippers face to face, I'd have a better chance of getting on a boat. I did meet lots of skippers, most of whom already had their crew. The others seemed pretty overwhelmed by the number of people looking for berths. Once again, I met several men who were clearly interested in crew "for other duties, as needed."
Later, I received some calls from skippers looking for crew for trips besides the Ha-Ha. One man and I stayed in touch via email and the phone, and I ended up flying to Costa Rica with the intention of sailing with him for three weeks as he moved his boat south. As it turned out, the boat never left the anchorage while I was aboard, and one week after I arrived I was dumped on the beach with my luggage because, "This isn't working out." Fortunately, Susan, the other woman aboard, wasn't comfortable staying on the boat alone, so she came along with me and we ended up having a great time backpacking! It turned out to be a great vacation but it might have been different if Susan hadn't been there, too.
That's been my experience. I'll probably try again to get on a boat heading for the sunshine and palm trees, but not this year. This year I'm buying my own darn boat so I don't have to go begging for rides.
Sandy - Thanks for sharing your unsatisfactory experiences, as they illustrate the hazards that are certainly involved when women look for berths on boats. It would seem there are two advantages in getting a berth on the Ha-Ha as opposed to, for example, meeting a boat in Costa Rica. The first is that if it doesn't work out, it hasn't cost you that much to get there. Secondly, if the arrangement falls apart, you'll have hundreds of other sailors many of them woman to offer support.
- HEALTH INSURANCE WHILE CRUISING
In the April issue, the Lindsays on Tini Apa asked about health insurance. We're a couple in our late 50s who have been cruising Mexico and points east since late '98, and we're also concerned about health insurance. Our experiences with a major medical event early in our voyage may give the Lindsays some insight into the maze of medical insurance choices.
We were covered by Blue Cross of North Carolina in a private policy when Peter suffered a badly fractured elbow. As a result, he incurred about $8,000 in medical expenses at Sharp Hospital in Mazatlan. A year later after paying the entire bill ourselves we're still trying to collect the rest of what is owed us. In order to process the claim, we were required to translate all medical information and bills into English; submit all Mexican invoices on U.S. claim forms; and obtain physician/hospital signatures on those forms. Then we had to deal with whether California Blue Cross or North Carolina Blue Cross would be the ones to pay the bills.
The bottom line was that our insurance carrier was very inexperienced with foreign health delivery and claims, and only seemed capable of handling domestic ones. For example, Mexican surgeons normally supply and bill for a private surgical nurse and assistant surgeon, while in the United States it's customary for the hospital to absorb these costs. As a result, a U.S. carrier will deny the expenses of the surgical nurse and assistant surgeon. We could go on with other examples.
Caution: Any problem is a major problem when you have to communicate between a medical facility in a foreign country and a company back in the United States.
The main point of our letter is to share some options with Latitude readers. For those staying in Mexico for more than a year, we found a PPO/HMO type of product from Seguros Inbursa, S.A. that may work. It's called Segumed, and has an age-based annual rate. The premium was about $800 a year for both of us, and would have fully covered Peter's $8,000 bill. It also provided us with some limited coverage while travelling in the United States. We chose not to renew this plan since we are planning to leave Mexico next year. But anyone interested can contact Carlos Alberto Alvarez Guzman at (81) 7981 in Mazatlan.
We then researched and elected to purchase health coverage from International Health Insurance (IHI) in Denmark. Their coverage is very similar to the Blue Cross plan that we had, and would also give us coverage for the three months that we returned home to the States each year and would even provide air evacuation coverage. The best feature is that the new premium is more than $1,000 less than with our previous U.S. company! Gary Golden from International Marine Insurance Services at (800) 541-4647 can provide details.
Fortunately, we have had no claims, but the literature is clear on the expertise IHI has with international claims. For those cruisers not fortunate enough to have group insurance from a former employer, this would be a company to look into for health coverage.
Pete and Suzy Rummel
Paradise Village Marina, Mexico
- IT'S HIS BUSINESS
In the May issue, Barbara Goffman wrote a letter criticizing Jim Clark for ordering a very, very large new boat. Although Latitude's editorial response defended Clark's decision and raised some interesting points, I think you missed the main point which is that it's Clark's money. It's not the taxpayer's, it's not any of the organization's she mentioned, and it's certainly not Goffman's. As such, if Mr. Clark wishes to spend his money on another mega-yacht, that's his business. It would also be his business if he simply wanted to burn it.
Besides, I'm sure that he has already paid more than his fair share in income taxes, and what is being spent on his yacht is what our government couldn't directly get. And when one considers the money that will trickle actually pour into the community simply to maintain this yacht and the taxes that will be paid in the coming years, I believe that Mr. Clark's yacht represents a substantial investment in the future of this boating community.
Since our boat is less than 20 feet, from our perspective the comments made regarding extravagant spending on mega-yachts are more than applicable to a particular 41-foot Sceptre calling Dana Point its home port. As has long been said, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
Susie B, O'Day Mariner
- I BECAME A BELIEVER IN FERRO WHILE IN
I saw James Walldow's request for data about ferro-cement boats way back in the November issue. I had a handshake acquaintance with this kind of boat 30 or so years ago, but I couldn't offer much specific information. I do, however, have a ferro-cement sea story your readers might enjoy.
The coastal interdiction effort to stop the Viet Cong from bringing supplies into the war zone by sea began with a fleet of old wooden junks. Some were powered only by sail, and all had been built with eons-old plans and methods. Of the four major types of junks, the 10-meter designs powered by a Yabuta diesel were the fastest, most stable, and had the best sea-keeping qualities although that's not saying much. Late in the war, when the interdiction program turned serious, the Vietnamese government began building new Yabutas and even tried ferro-cement hulls.
Their rationale for going to ferro-cement was good. Boatwrights which were in short supply were required to build wooden hulls and to do depot level maintenance and repair. On the other hand, ferro-cement hulls could at least in theory be maintained by field personnel. So ferro-cement junks started coming down the ways and into the war. It is true that a ferro-cement hull can be repaired if the damage is minor in the field by untrained sailors. So the soft seabed of the South China Sea was spared lots of new rubble.
We didn't have epoxy paints, so we used what we had, which were regular marine paints. The ferro-cement out-gassed under the paint, which blistered and wept through the hull. This wasn't a big problem since the engines had built-in bilge pumps. Our experience with ferro-cement was too short to notice those long curing times Peter Nicolle mentioned in an earlier Latitude letter.
The 10-meter length, although common as dirt in Southeast Asia, is a couple meters too short for the bow to reach across the troughs in normal conditions in that part of the world, so they will pitch, pound, and porpoise through a seaway. Taking some sailorly griping seriously, the Junk Force Command ordered four new junks to be stretched 2.5 meters for a test. It was easy to do, as they just moved the saw-horses farther apart, cut a longer keel, and added a little more rebar, chicken wire and cement.
To make a short story long, the newer, longer ferro-cement junks did indeed ride the seaways better. They were also easier to maintain, were more expensive to build (in a war, who cares?), stopped and deflected bullets better, and had a longer mean time between failures than the old wooden junks. I became a believer.
I left that benighted land soon after the experiment began, so I don't know whether ferro-cement prospered, or whether the benefits of 12.5-meter boats were widely enough recognized to change the 10-meter mentality. I hope so in both cases.
Jim - If you read further into this issue, you'll see that Mark Cenac just made a tough 21-day passage back to San Francisco from Mexico in his ferro boat.
It may already be too late, but my wife and I are seriously looking into purchasing a William Garden-designed CT- 41 to liveaboard and cruise. Garden's designs are everywhere, and we're wondering if that's an indication of their quality and longevity or merely that they're cheap. Granted that any individual boat can be an exception, but are the CT-41s generally considered to be respectable cruisers? Besides being slow, what are their other weaknesses?
P.S. Latitude is the postal highlight of my month.
John - The so-called 'Garden 41' was
built by several different yards and marketed under many more
brands. Frankly, we're not sure that any of them were authentic
Garden designs, as it was common in those days for the Taiwanese
to build boats that looked similar to the designs of famous naval
architects and then slap on the architect's name without his permission.
On the positive side, the 'Garden 41s' built by CT were generally
regarded as among the very best.
Like all designs, the 'Garden 41' has its good and bad points. In the plus category, we'd give it high marks for a pleasant 'yachtie' appearance, lots of space for living aboard and storage, very nice performance on a reach, and for not having any single sail that is too big for an average person to handle. On the negative side, they have lots of wood that requires maintenance, they aren't particularly fast upwind or in a slop, and some of them were poorly built with less than the best materials. Bottom line? If you enjoy keeping wood in good shape and can find one that surveys well, we think you'd have a fine boat.
Just for fun, why not check out Boat Designs by William Garden, which was updated in 1999. It's 320 pages with lots of photos and line-drawings.
- SIX MONTHS
A year ago I purchased a Maracom M6500 Handheld VHF from one of the marine catalog outfits. After just one month the digital readout began to fade. When I contacted the catalog company, they referred me directly to the manufacturer, Maracom Marine in Miami. They said they'd fix it but I'd have to send them the radio and $41. I didn't feel this was a very good deal for a nearly brand new radio, but on December 14 of last year, I nonetheless returned the radio.
After hearing nothing for two months, I called Maracom and was told that the digital readout was faulty. They said they'd replace it and send it back to me. I reminded them of the manufacturer's liability, but they refused to refund my $41. I just wanted a working radio, so I told them to go ahead.
After another month passed without a word, I called them again. The assured me they would have it repaired "soon". After yet another phone call, they asked for "just another week" and also promised to return my $41 check. That was weeks ago and I haven't heard from them since.
I cannot believe that it's been six months since I sent a nearly new radio back to the factory for a seemingly trivial repair and still haven't gotten my radio back. I will never buy another product from Maracom and in the future will only recommend their products to jet-skiers and powerboaters.
Adelante II, Ericson 35
- EVEN MY MOM-IN-LAW PREFERRED OUR MONOHULL
Based on the Wanderer's support of my wife's preoccupation with catamarans, I recently chartered a Gemini 34 catamaran for three days from Vacation Yacht Charters of Ft. Myers, Florida. Our group consisted of my wife and me, my recently turned 7-year old daughter, and my 74-year-old mother-in-law.
Because of foul winds, we spent the first day motoring 18 miles from Ft. Myers to Roosevelt Channel between Buck Island and Captiva. We anchored out to the east of the 'Tween Waters Resort in roughly five feet of water having already crossed over only 24 inches of water at the edge of the channel to get there. At least one other yacht got hung up trying to follow us. While there were many yachts anchored just at the edge of the channel, our shallow draft allowed us to pass over the sand banks to five feet of water just west of Bucks Island, giving us complete privacy. Points to the catamaran on shallow draft.
Although our plan was to sail up to Pelican Bay the following day, strong northwesterlies encouraged us to remain in Roosevelt Channel and explore Buck Island's labyrinth of waterways in a rented canoe.
On the third day, we made our way down to the Sanibel Harbor Resort much to my wife's delight. We tried sailing there, but the cat just didn't want to move in five knots of wind. And it wasn't like we didn't try, as we spent more than an hour broad reaching at two knots. But as we were getting fried the boat wasn't equipped with a full bimini we decided to punch up the diesel, at which point we started to make good time. Wouldn't you know it, when we pulled into the harbor a good sailing breeze came up. My wife consoled herself for her lack of sailing with a good massage.
It was a short but enlightening sailing experience. First, we found that the boat was lightly built and lacked many of the construction qualities we take for granted on our Cal. As a result of seemingly poor maintenance, I ended up spending three days fixing things. While on the Caloosahatchee River, we were also disabused of the notion that catamarans are more stable than monohulls. The river has as much boat traffic as Highway 101 has car traffic during rush hour and all manner of powerboats roared past us with nary a thought about the rules of the road nor their liability for destructive wakes. In any event, you couldn't believe how the cat rolled when we were hit by these wakes! Despite having the main strapped down tight and the centerboard down, we nearly buried our starboard quarter far enough to take water in the cockpit. The very quick and excessive rolling was, I believe, due to the cat's light weight coupled with a lack of water plane and moment-of-inertia. These qualities would seem to make for a very uncomfortable motion in a seaway. In fact, even my mother-in-law voiced her support of our current Cal monohull over the cat!
Despite the frustrations, we had a reasonably good time and the trip served our purpose in terms of evaluating the cat save for her sailing ability. On the basis of this trip, we've concluded that a catamaran and particularly a Gemini is not in our future. After another weekend of sailing with other friends, my wife is now on the hunt for either a Catalina 42 or a Beneteau 46 something with two quarter cabins, one each for Nana and my daughter and her pals. I may keep our Cal just for racing.
Scott - Cats have a lot to offer, but
they're certainly not everyone's cup of tea. It's also important
to remember that as with monohulls, there are lots of different
types of cats and they have very different performance characteristics.
One major difference between cats and monohulls is their motion. In general, there is less motion with cats, but what there is tends to be quick and jerky. Some people find this kind of motion less bothersome than the slower, rolling motion of monohulls, while others don't. Two other observations. When it comes to catamarans, length is a much more important factor for comfort than it is with monohulls. Secondly, as long as they are built adequately strong, the lighter the cat the better both for performance and safety.
It's unfortunate that you didn't have better sailing conditions. If anyone wants to see the 'good side' of a cat, they should sail one in 12 to 20 knots of wind on a close or broad reach, which is where they shine. Because of their 'doubled' wetted surface, cats are notoriously slow in wind under eight knots.
There are lots of different kinds of sailboats out there from one hull to four, with all kinds of different rigs and other variations. The important thing is to find the one that suits you and enjoy her.
- HEAVING TO
I'm writing in regard to Tom Bowers' May letter on heaving to. As Tom noted from the book Heavy Weather Sailing, a boat that is hove to will still forereach a bit. In fact, the reason Lin and Larry Pardey developed their bridle system with a parachute anchor is to keep the boat in the slick generated by the sideways motion of the boat rather than sailing out of it.
My own experiences with heaving to although not numerous have convinced me that this is the best way to go. The first time I had to heave to due to weather conditions was on Christmas Eve '93 during a trip to Mexico aboard my Emeryville-based Rawson 30 Sunrise. Although it wasn't a survival storm, the wind was overpowering my boat even though she was only carrying a triple-reefed main. Running before the wind was not an option because everyone on the boat was too fatigued to steer.
After heaving to, the boat laid quietly at about 50 to 55 degrees off the wind. The slick that was generated calmed the waves. In the beginning a few waves did slam against the hull, but only because I still hadn't properly trimmed the parachute anchor. The storm had been generated by a strong Santa Ana, and since the winds were offshore the waves weren't really big. Had I been further offshore where the waves had had time to build to dangerous heights, I would have rigged up something like the Pardeys recommend.
But to answer the basic question, in my opinion the proper way to heave to is to stay in the slick that one's boat creates.
SeaScape, Union 32
- PARA ANCHORS
Desperate for good reading material could you publish every two weeks? I just reread the December '99 letter by John Neal and Amanda Swan-Neal on Para Anchors. They suggest that "in most conditions, actively sailing turns out to be the safest and most comfortable tactic. It is essential however, that cruisers have the physical endurance to steer 'one hour on, one hour off' for many hours in heavy conditions."
I don't know how fit John and Amanda are, but I think one on and one off for many hours is out of the question in heavy weather for most of us especially if we sail shorthanded.
I have hand-steered a 45-foot ketch 'four hours on, four hours off', in good conditions 10-20 knots, 3-6 foot waves for several days with little problem. After awhile you get into a groove and can keep it up almost indefinitely. But when conditions deteriorated to 30-knot winds and 9 to 15-foot waves with breaking crests, we decreased watches to two hours and then just an hour. And let me tell you, while it was as exhilarating as riding a huge roller coaster, it was also exhausting. But after a few hours, we each became aware that we were riding on the edge and that a moment of inattention could put us broadside to a wave at the wrong time and put ourselves at risk of broaching. We decided that we needed to rest.
As you know, when turning upwind from downwind, the apparent wind speed increases. We timed our turn carefully in a trough, rolling up the jib a bit more as it luffed, and hove to successfully. And what a relief! We didn't have a sea anchor, but the boat has a long fin keel with a skeg, so we were more or less beam to the wind and waves until we played with the mizzen and the wheel for a while. Finally, we were able to take our eyes off the sea for a bit and rest. We even experienced the 'slick' to windward that the Pardeys talk about. It smoothed out the water and calmed the motion of the boat considerably. After an hour or two of rest, we were ready to take on the roller coaster again.
On another occasion aboard another boat, we hove to to rest in the middle of a fishing fleet that was moving slowly within a mile or two of us rather than risk getting run down by big ships. We rationalized that big ships would stay away from the fleet and the fishing boats were going too slow to hurt us. Further down the coast there wasn't enough wind to sail, but we were tired of motoring so we hove to again. It's amazing how much better we felt after turning the engine off for an hour and having a leisurely lunch. In this instance the break was more mental than physical.
Our advice is to keep telling your readers about the benefits of heaving to without a sea anchor. There is no need to rush. And if you heave to in order to rest when conditions are moderate, you'll have more endurance should you need it later for heavy weather.
By the way, we saw Profligate sailing on a recent Sunday in San Diego Harbor. It was a beautiful day and she looked great!
Kelowna, BC / San Diego
Barbara - We're glad you brought up the
concept of heaving to in moderate weather just to take a break
and catch a little rest. Not many cruisers do it, but those who
have rave about how just an hour or two of rest refreshes them.
Thanks for the nice words about our catamaran. It was a beautiful day, and San Diego is a beautiful place to sail.
- PACIFIC WEATHER
I believe I read a reference to a website in the Letters section in the March or April issue that covered forecasts and other weather information for people planning trips to places such as Hawaii or the South Pacific. Can you direct me?
John - One of the terrific things about
the Internet is that it's made a tremendous amount of weather
data and forecasts available to everyone who can get online or
in touch with somebody online. On the down side, there's so much
information available that everyone is in danger of information
If you'd like to get a handle on the wind and sea conditions for a voyage to Hawaii or the South Pacific, we suggest you visit www.redboat.com/weather.html every day for a couple of months prior to starting your trip. By following the various links that have been assembled there, you'll get a good idea of what to expect as well as leads to find even more weather information.
If you want on-the-spot reports as provided by cruisers on small boats on the go, surf to www.bitwrangler.com/yotreps/. When we checked on June 4, they had mid-passage reports from 18 different boats in the Pacific. YOTREPS has links to the Pacific Seafarer's Net, which provides H.F. radio weather reports to vessels at sea as well as many other services and has a bunch of other weather links.
To prove that the above just begins to scratch the surface on Pacific weather, check out the late June entry titled 'Pacific Weather' in the 'Lectronic Latitude section of www.lati-tude38.com. It's from Gavin Chilcott of the Pt. Richmond-based Luffe 48 Wave Runner, and simply has too much information to include in the printed magazine. And if you're in the market for professional weather routing and forecasting to Hawaii, check out the next letter.
- WEATHER OFFSHORE
A few months ago there was a letter from a reader writing on behalf of a boat that wanted weather updates during a trip from Panama to Hawaii. This is exactly the sort of service my business, Weatherguy.com, provides. We're a worldwide marine weather forecasting service that specializes in transmitting weather forecasts to vessels at sea.
I am the company's owner/operator, and have been in business since 1997. Some of my customers have used my service with success in TransPacs, Pacific Cups, and passages and deliveries in the Atlantic, Pacific and Caribbean. I used to do these forecasts for free for friends, but it got to the point where people I didn't know were asking for the service. Since I'm looking to expand, I now charge for my forecasts.
My fee depends on what kind of products a customer wants. For about $75 I'll do a six day pre-departure and route recommendation. Personal weather briefings are $40. Telephone calls are gratis, especially for vessels at sea, since I don't want them to hesitate to call if they are concerned about the weather. Enroute email updates to vessels at sea are $10 to $20 depending on the time it takes to generate a forecast, as some weather systems are more complicated than others. My race forecasts are $250 to $300.
Readers - For what it's worth, Shema received his Master of Science degree in Meteorology and Oceanography from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, and his Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State. His background includes forecasting onboard aircraft carriers and other ships. He's done a number of transPacific passages and for the last six years has been racing his family's J/33 in the Islands.
- AM I COMPLETELY NUTS?
The Atomic 4 gas engine in my Creekmore 30 is aging, and the cost of a diesel replacement seems kind of pricey. So I was wondering if you or any of your readers has had any experience replacing an Atomic 4 with a motorcycle engine. Honda made a water-cooled engine which was used on many bikes, including my '82 CX500. The engine has a terrific reputation, as they've commonly gotten up to 250,000 road miles before requiring any type of major overhaul. Because of the extensive use of aluminum, the engine is very lightweight. At higher rpms the engine puts out between 45 and 50 horsepower. At lower rpms, it only puts out about half that.
Since the Atomic 4 has a freshwater heat-exchanger type cooling system, hooking it up to the Honda doesn't seem like it would be too difficult. The only challenges would seem to be getting the output of the shaft-drive from the transmission correctly aligned, and dealing with the dual exhaust. My question is this: Am I completely nuts considering replacing an Atomic 4 with a Honda or is there hope? If this worked out, I would even consider replacing my boat's wheel steering with handlebars and a motorcycle seat.
Doug - About 15 years ago Rudy Goodman
of Redwood City put the exact engine you're referring to into
Niche, his Piver 36 Lodestar. He sailed it all the way to El Salvador
before problems with the anchor line resulted in her being lost
on the beach. The installation was a bit of a problem, but was
solved by adding a jack shaft to connect with the prop shaft.
He also added a heat exchanger. The engine didn't resist corrosion
particularly well, and water got inside so the head gasket blew.
The biggest problem with the installation is that the Coast Guard won't approve it. If the carburetor overflows on a motorcycle, the fumes quickly disperse in the atmosphere. On a boat, the highly explosive fumes accumulate in the bilge, making it prime for a major explosion. Goodman addressed this problem by using an outboard fuel tank that he disconnected before shutting off the engine.
So no, you're not completely nuts. On the other hand, it's not the best idea in the world.
- IMPERSONAL ATTITUDE
I want to thank the skipper of Seafarer for the assistance he provided after I capsized my skiff in the Redwood City Channel. I was amazed at how many mariners passed us by with a dumbfounded look despite the fact that my boat was dismasted and my crew and I were waving at them for help! There was even a fishing boat 100 yards away that simply ignored us for an hour, even though we slowly started drifting into the Bay.
Seafarer was the fifth boat to pass near us and the first to offer assistance. Despite that crew's gallant efforts, the water was too shallow for them to get a line to us. But as the nearby fishing boat started to leave, the skipper of the Seafarer was able to convince them to tow us. Although the situation appeared under control, I'm glad Seafarer stayed with us because the fishing boat proceeded to tow us on a course that would have taken us across the churning water caused by the prop wash of a nearby tug! Seafarer again intervened and got the fishing boat to change course.
Although we were wearing PFDs and wet-suits, the following day I added a throw bag, rocket flares, and a radio to my gear should we ever find ourselves in a similar situation.
With respect to the other vessels that didn't stop to render assistance, shame on you! I also happen to own a Catalina 34 that I sail out of Coyote Point, and have never thought twice about towing in a jet-skier or boardsailer who had broken down. Has the impersonal attitude of our roadways finally hit the waterways? God help us if BMW decides to make a boat!
Catalina 34, Helbeau and Vanguard 15
John - We've become a society of specialists
where we tend to be very good at a few things and not so good
at a lot of things. So when it comes to cars disabled on the side
of the road, we let them wait for a towing service. And for a
lot of folks not raised in nautical traditions, they merrily bypass
mariners about to slip into danger by assuming that the Coast
Guard will rescue them.
The law of the sea is that everyone needs to be responsible for their own safety but when they no longer can be, all others must render whatever assistance they can. This may involve calling the Coast Guard, throwing a line, or just standing by but it's a legal obligation.
A tip of the Latitude hat to Seafarer for doing the right thing.
- GEORGIA WAS ON OUR MIND
I always enjoy Latitude, but have a small correction. WLO (Mobile Marine Radio, Inc.) is located in Mobile, Alabama. In your response to Mike and Susan McKim's What Prompted AT&T To Pull Out? letter in the May issue, you'd said it was in Georgia. WLO has a website at http://www.wloradio.com/.
M. G. Foster
- THIS OLD ANCHOR
I recently purchased an anchor that was snagged by a fishing net in San Pablo Bay and later pulled up. The anchor has two opposing barbed hooks at the bottom, a sliding bar at the top with balls on each end, and one end has a 90º bend. The anchor stands about five feet tall.
Judging from the looks of it, I think it must have been used in the late 1700s, but I'm trying to do more research. If anyone can give me some help dating it, I'd appreciate it. I could also use some information on preservation, as rust has eaten into it and it flakes quite easily.
Paul - It sounds as though you're describing
a type of anchor variously known as a 'yachtsman', 'kedge', 'fisherman'
or 'Herreshoff'. Such non-burying anchors are considered reliable
on hard or foul bottoms, and are often carried as storm anchors.
For what it's worth, what you refer to as 'barbs' are technically
known as 'palms'.
These types of anchors have been around for a long time, so maybe it came from Drake's Golden Hinde. On the other hand, they're still made today, so maybe it's not very old at all. Perhaps one of our readers knows something about dating metal.
- SINGLEHANDED TECHNIQUES
After a long hiatus for my education and training, I recently began sailing again. After a year back into it, I'm having a blast! I'd like to do some singlehanded daysailing in the Bay, and am therefore looking for some tips. Currently I rent boats from Spinnaker Sailing in Redwood City, a wonderful outfit that gives me access to boats such as Santana 22s, Cal 24s and a Merit 25. The main thing that perplexes me is how to raise and lower a mainsail with a boltrope that must be hand-fed into the mast usually while I'm sailing in a narrow channel.
I'm sure that these and other problems have been worked out by others, but would be grateful if you can direct me to any other singlehanded tips, either in print or on the web. I'd also like to know if you think singlehanding is best learned by yourself or by taking lessons.
By the way, far be it from me to encourage poetry in these hallowed pages, but I offer the following regarding the number of syllables in haiku having read the "sort-of haiku" from Dana in the May issue that described the worn sandpaper discs that fell from her sander during a maintenance job:
describes work in ten
one must use seventeen
in sailing haiku
Whatever is Available
David - It's difficult for one person
to neatly raise or lower a main with a boltrope on the luff as
we discovered when we started singlehanding our first Olson 30
Little O. After wrestling with it for quite a while, we came up
with a permanent solution by replacing the boltrope with slugs.
But maybe some other singlehanders have a more elegant and less
Since the essence of singlehanding is doing everything including solving problems on your own, we think it's best to learn by yourself. We'd go at it gradually, of course, doing all the work on a couple of sails while another crewmember stands by to lend assistance if absolutely necessary.
Based on our experience of singlehanding every boat we've ever owned Ericson 35, Bounty 41, Freya 39, two Olson 30s, Cal 25, Ocean 71, and a Surfin' 63 catamaran singlehanded daysailing in the relatively protected waters of San Francisco Bay isn't that difficult and shouldn't be too dangerous. Even without an autopilot. Venturing out into the ocean and/or overnight singlehanded is a much more complicated and dangerous endeavour.
The key to singlehanding is the same as the key to sailing with crew: being able to control the boat through steering, tacking, gybing and reefing the boat. It's most helpful if the boat is well-balanced. We can remember a number of times it was blowing in excess of 25 knots when we'd have to reduce or drop sail on the lightweight Olson 30. The technique was simple: let the main and jib sheets completely loose in such a way that they wouldn't snag on anything. Naturally the flapping sails would make a hell of a racket, but the boat would simply feather into the wind, allowing us to confidently stroll forward and drop the hanked on jib and reef and/or drop the main. We have no idea what one would do with a boat that wasn't balanced.
We also became familiar with several singlehanded techniques that have served us well over the years. Feathering into the wind to either postpone or eliminate having to reef was one of them. Quickly luffing high into the wind so we could pull sheets in by hand rather than having to grind them in was another. When you singlehand, you also learn several gybing techniques for stronger breezes not the least of which is the 'chicken jibe' , aka tacking.
Frankly, we can't remember any articles or websites about singlehanded sailing. If anyone knows about some, please let us know and/or share your singlehanded tips.
- ON THE RAFT
I am a catalog librarian at the Connecticut Historical Society, and I happened upon your website when I was searching for some information on the raft Nonpareil. In an answer to a letter from Rick Fischer of Victoria, Minnesota, dated January, 1999, you mentioned the Nonpareil as having made it across the Atlantic in 1868 according to Lindemann's book, Alone at Sea.
I'm currently cataloging a collection of broadsides here at CHS, and came across a particularly interesting one that was an advertisement for Monitor Life-saving Rafts, the company that manufactured the Nonpareil. I believe the company was out of New York. The broadside shows a woodcut illustration of the Nonpareil at sea, gives its dimensions 12'6" x 24" when rolled up; 22'6" x 12'6" when inflated with a buoyancy of seven tons. It also lists the crew John Mikes, master; George Miller and Jerry Mullene, crew and includes the text of Mikes' log of the journey.
According to the broadside, the Nonpareil sailed from New York on June 12, 1867, arriving at Southampton, United Kingdom on July 26, 1867. From the illustration, it looks as though the raft consisted of three long, inflatable pontoons with a wood frame attached on top of them. There were two masts, with three sails a jib, foresail and mainsail and a steering device of some sort near the center of the craft.
I often come across a lot of interesting, ephemeral information with the broadsides, but I found this one particularly fascinating. I thought you might be interested to hear about it since it seems to be a significant piece of maritime history. I am in the process of researching some newspapers of that time period to verify that the Nonpareil did indeed make the journey. In addition, I would also like to ask you if you have any other information on Capt. Thompson, or any of the crewmembers. I have not been able to locate too much on them here.
Rick Sarcia, NEH Project Cataloger
Rick - Thanks for the additional information.
Unfortunately, we told you pretty much everything we know about
that unusual craft and crossing.
- HAITIAN REFUGEES
When we returned to Georgetown after the Haitian refugee rescue as covered in June's Trouble In Paradise article we found that many cruisers had being following what was going on over the VHF radio and wanted to help. But they were unable to as it was night. We also found that the island clinic had taken 22 of the sickest Haitians from helicopters to treat them and in the process depleted some of their already meager supplies. Further, we learned the island's hurricane supplies had been opened in order to give the Haitians blankets, and that these supplies weren't going to be replenished either.
Having talked with Mr. Cooper, the regional administrator, and Ms. Fernander, the nurse in charge of the clinic, the Exuma Health Fund has been established. Anyone may donate to it by sending a check to the Scotia Bank, Georgetown, Exuma, Bahamas. Several cruisers have already given substantial amounts, and the fund is now at several thousand dollars. The money will be spent for the health needs of the three clinics of Great Exuma. We hope this will be an ongoing fund and hope you can give it some publicity. We will also contact the Seven Seas Cruising Association to help spread the word next fall when the annual southward migration begins.
Peter and Louise Berry
Tango, Fountaine-Pajot 37 cat
Seattle / Asheville, NC / Panama City, FL
Peter & Louise - It's a strange world.
If someone becomes a political football such as little Elian there
is no end to the millions government and individuals will spend
on him to further their own agendas. But when it comes to some
faceless Haitians dying in search of freedom and opportunity,
it's almost as if they don't exist.
For cruisers heading south from either the West Coast or the East Coast, please remember that there are plenty of people in the tropics particularly in the smaller communities who could greatly benefit from even your slightest generosity. Medical supplies, clothes, shoes, books, paper and pencils, balls every little bit goes a long way.
- NEW BOAT FOR TERRY AND LENORE
I read the recent Changes about last fall's sinking of the Triton 28 Puffin in the South Pacific. I'd like to make a couple of comments, as I am Terry Ferstle, the owner of the lost boat. It's true that we were not equipped with an SSB radio. We did have a VHF, but for some reason the rescue helicopter was unable to communicate with us. One of the recommendations we made to several rescue groups that interviewed us later was that all rescue aircraft and vessels be equipped with VHF.
I'm quite sure that the damage that ultimately caused Puffin to sink was the result of hitting something, not merely rough weather. For one thing, I think I remember hearing the sound of hitting something up forward, and then a few seconds later, hitting something aft. In addition, there were leaks both up forward and aft. Furthermore, I'd been singlehanding Puffin for six years it was Lenore's first ocean passage so the boat and I had endured our share of bad weather and heaving to without any problems. We'd actually been riding out the storm without much difficulty, so I think that whatever we hit actually changed the shape of a wave or changed our position relative to it so that the wave could cause the knockdown.
In any event, Lenore and I are now in Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia, aboard the Cal 40 Panasea which I just purchased from Bill and Nan Hillsinger. Nan has previously had letters and articles published in Latitude and other magazines. The couple were looking for a break from cruising, and I've known them and their boat since the crossing from Z-town to the Marquesas years ago. I'd also babysat the boat in Samoa for them while they visited the States. So when Lenore and I flew into Kosrae to inspect Panasea, it was pretty much a 'done deal'.
We'll leave here soon for Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the South Pacific Arts Festival. After continuing on to Oz for a haul out, we'll fly back to the States to see the kids and grandkids and to show off America to Lenore.
Terry and Lenore Ferstle
Panasea, Cal 40
San Diego / South Pacific
Terry & Lenore - Thanks for those
clarifications. We imagine the Cal seems like a luxury ride after
the relatively small Triton.
- MEXICANS RATE LOWER THAN ANIMALS
I find it sad that as far as environmental organizations are concerned, people especially people in foreign countries seem to rate lower than animals. I say this because I spent two years trying to get U.S. organizations such as the Audubon Society and the National Resources Defense Council that were against the salt plant at Laguna San Ignacio to recognize the large amount of scientific work that had been done on the effects of such a plant. Studies showed that the effects would be mostly neutral or positive. The environmental organizations wouldn't pay any attention to these findings, nor would they even answer or acknowledge receiving them.
It is quite obvious to me that these organizations didn't have a true interest in the environment, but rather advancing their own political agenda by publishing predictions of disaster and dire warnings none of which were based upon science, all of which were made up of whole cloth. The only rational argument they ever used and it was usually buried deep beneath their usual diatribes is that there would be some gain to humanity if the pristine area were left undisturbed. Were open space their leading issue, many of us in the scientific community could have supported their cause. Unfortunately, they mostly chose to ignore that argument in favor of what in many cases were outright lies.
For many years the scientists at my institution have been championing the cause of responsible environmentalism including the work to allow the Mexican government to declare five biosphere reserves in the Baja California Peninsula including the Viscaino Biosphere Reserve, the largest in Mexico. This reserve extends across the Baja peninsula to near Santa Rosalia, and is the one that encompasses Laguna San Ignacio and the area around Guerrero Negro. The latter is astride Scammon's Lagoon, where the largest salt works in the world equal in size to the one proposed at Laguna San Ignacio has been in operation for 50 years. Scammon's Lagoon is, of course, where the gray whales go to give birth every year. The whales and the salt works have been coexisting quite comfortably for nearly half a century.
What surprised and disturbed me the most was the opposition of the Audubon Society. Work done over the past 50 years around Guerrero Negro has shown that, for various reasons, the avian population, both permanent and transient, has increased year by year. The biggest reason is because of the direct and indirect effects of having the salt works there! The Audubon Society, however, could not be bothered with anything that got in the way of their chosen political agenda even if it were helpful to their primary goal and concern. That, more than any other thing, has convinced me that some environmental groups have lost their way and now exist only for political reasons and to provide an income for their staff.
There is the further difficulty of these well-paid and well-fed environmental organization staffers ever being able to understand the life of the campesino living in and around San Ignacio. There is nothing for them that will ever change the lives of these poor people, whose lives are, at best, very difficult. I know it is the fashion of the American tourist to romanticize their simple lives, but all a tourist needs to do to disabuse themselves of such a notion is to live in their sandals for a few weeks, subsisting on beans and rice while doing very hard manual labor under the Baja sun.
The first salt works gave rise to the town of Guerrero Negro, which provided the many locals with schools, hospitals and decent work. Most Americans might not choose to live there, but it's far better than the local alternatives which are living in a shack in the desert herding goats or being a panga fisherman.
I suppose what most disappointed me is the opposition here in Mexico, where one might assume there would be some concern for their fellow citizens. However, the opposition was led by a poet, Homer Aridjis I hope I spelled his name correctly who has probably never left the comfort of a Mexico City coffee house, who has never seen the peninsula or the lagoon, and probably would not recognize a gray whale if it fell on him. His only concern is to try to take credit for what the scientists here at CIBNOR have done to get the biospheres established, something he trumpets loudly even though he had no part in any of it! I also do not think he wants to dirty his skirts with the campesinos either.
Profesor de Posgrado Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas (CIBNOR)
La Paz, BCS, Mexico
Ellis - You have our sympathy, for these
have to be discouraging times for scientists. Why it wouldn't
take much more than a Morgan Fairchild-type B-List celebrity,
a couple of slick PR guys, and a for-hire 'junk scientist' to
convince half the population that the earth is flat or that those
Africans are really on to something because having sex with virgins
really does cure AIDS.
Grandstanding 'environmentalists' like to wrap themselves in what they believe is a shroud of righteousness and truth. But years ago we learned that they're every bit as capable of distortions and outright lies as are real estate developers, used car salesmen, criminal defense lawyers, U.S. Presidents, and others of dubious character. In fact, many environmentalists will be quick to admit that when it comes to the environment, the end always justifies the means.
Based on the fact that there's been a huge salt works at Scammon's Lagoon for 50 years that hasn't seemed to harm the whales or other wildlife, our gut feeling is that the proposed salt works at Laguna San Ignacio wouldn't have been the environmental disaster that so many claimed. On the other hand, we're glad it's not going to be built for a reason you cited to preserve it as an open space.
That the salt works won't be built isn't necessarily a disaster for the poor campesinos and panga fishermen, either. For if they get the right training and support, they'll soon discover that environmental tourism is far easier and more profitable than manual labor ever was particularly now that Laguna San Ignacio is a major environmental shrine and will probably be in need of hotels and restaurants.
- GOING NORTH
It was great to see Profligate back on the Bay on June 3 and pouncing down on us once again. And what a terrific day for sailing it was on the Bay, with bright sunshine, blue skies and great breezes.
This was a big change in conditions from the last time I'd seen Profligate, which was back in April at the north end of Cedros Island waiting for a nasty northwesterly to ease up. Hasty Heart, the Swan 61 that I skipper, left Cedros about an hour before Latitude's cat and immediately got laid over by 40 knots of wind. In addition, the seas were steep and close, so we were having quite a 'Baja Bash'. We carried three reefs in our main and the staysail and cracked off for the mainland. The conditions moderated somewhat until we reached the coast at which point we were again hit with 40 knots. So we rolled up the staysail and motored the last 20 miles to the next anchorage.
Since Hasty Heart is a big and powerful Swan, she does pretty well in those kinds of rough conditions. I'm embarrassed to tell you, however, that I was a little concerned about Profligate and her crew. We'd spoken to them a couple of times that day over the radio, and they told us they were heading straight into those seas. Imagine my surprise, then, to see them joining us in the anchorage less than two hours after we arrived! I can't tell you how impressed I was with the catamaran's ability to motor into strong winds and seas. But I sure hope the crew had some fun board surfing the next day, because they'd sure earned it after that passage.
Anybody interested in my tips for the Baja Bash? I've sailed/motorsailed up the west coast many times, fortunately, always aboard strong, well-found boats with plenty of crew. When the wind is out of the northwest which it is most of the time I stay right on shore. I make short starboard tacks out, then flop back onto port toward the beach or under the next point. I take it one point at a time, always paying very close attention to the depthsounder, GPS, and radar. I do this because I've found there's some relief from the seas and a lift from the wind as you approach each headland. Plus, you can always drop the hook for a meal or sleep in the lee of many of the headlands. Anyway, this method has worked well for me, as we've generally had quick passages meaning Cabo to San Diego in five to six days, and San Diego to San Francisco in three to four days. Folks with smaller boats need to remember these times were for relatively large boats.
For boats that are being delivered shorthanded and/or without radar and/or don't carry a lot of fuel, and/or don't go to weather so well, I would recommend the offshore route back from Mexico. We'll be enjoying the Bay regularly in June, then take off for Hawaii again on July 1.
Swan 61, Hasty Heart
Rick - When headed into strong winds and big seas, the motion of a catamaran such as Profligate couldn't be more different than it was with our old Ocean 71 or the Swan 61 that you skipper. Whereas monohulls plunge into and/or through big seas, cats float on top of the water and lift over the top of waves. Heading into big seas is the one time that we think the motion on a larger monohull is far less unpleasant than on a catamaran even if the cat has high enough bridgedeck clearance to avoid most 'bombs' against the bottom of the bridgedeck.
- TEN YEARS AFTER
It's been about 10 years since we left California aboard our Portland-based Freeport 36 Daisy D., and we're currently in Luperon on the north shore of the Dominican Republic. We still read your rag whenever we can get a copy from a fellow cruiser which isn't that often. But since you're still the best around, maybe your readers can help us out.
We've discovered that our new type Adler Barbour ColdMachine emits strong interference over the Marine Single Sideband frequency spectrum, mostly between 2 and 20 Mhz. It doesn't seem to effect AM broadcasts, FM, TV or VHF frequencies. Kenyon, the manufacturer, tells us that all the new units using the Danfoss parts have this problem. Indeed, all the other cruisers we've spoken with who have the new Danfoss units have the same problem with their SSB and ham equipment. As a result, we usually have to turn off the refrigerator in order to receive weatherfax, short wave broadcasts or talk to other vessels.
We've had much correspondence over a five-month period with Kenyon customer service. They always admit a mistake and promise an imminent solution, but the solution never comes. West Marine will take our ColdMachine back, but we don't know of a replacement unit that doesn't have the same problem. So if anyone has a solution, we'd love to hear about it at: email@example.com. By the way, Pocketmail is so great that every cruiser should have it.
Radios are important to all cruisers, but our SSB might be a little more important than most. For the last several years we have operated a Caribbean SSB net 8104 Khz, 0815 Atlantic Standard Time, seven days a week that deals strictly with safety and security matters. We track crimes affecting yachties, as well as missing vessels, navigational hazards, and act as a center for priority and emergency messages. As such, the RF noise has been sort of a hassle.
A few other comments. Our '82 Freeport 36 has turned out to be a great coastal cruiser for two people. Our first boat about 1965 on San Francisco Bay was the old staysail schooner Nordlys. A subsequent owner took her to the Caribbean for chartering, and one of his crew was Foxy Callwood, who later started the famous bar by the same name on Jost van Dyck.
We left San Francisco in '91, and have since wandered through southern Mexico, Central America, the Canal and San Blas Islands of Panama, the north coast of South America to French Guiana, and made several trips up and down the Lesser Antilles. This is our first time in Luperon, where we plan to hang out for the hurricane season.
Our favorite places have been southern Mexico, the interiors of Guatemala and Colombia, Cartagena, San Blas, the Los Aves Islands, and Ile du Salut in French Guiana. It looks as though the Dominican Republic will be added to the list as there is a very comfortable feeling about this place and its people.
Donald and Judith Kline
Luperon, Dominican Republic
- EMMA, IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Anybody remember the 'captain that doesn't cook'? Thanks to Frank LaHaye, the owner of the San Francisco-based Tayana 55 Quintessence that I used to skipper, I received page 234 of the March Latitude. This is the one that had my photo on it as well as a note saying some old friends from Mexico were wondering what happened to me.
Well, I'm now down in Perth, Western Australia, where I sail a bit, boardsail a lot, and work in a gym as a personal trainer. I also manage a fleet of Foundation 36s, which are the boats used for the Australia Cup and other match racing and corporate events.
I'm trying to remember the 'Capt Nick', who asked about me from '93 in Mexico and the Sharp/DeFever 62 he ran, but so much has happened since then that my memory is a little fuzzy. Among other things, I chased Whitbread Race dreams, attempted some of the world's sailing records in high-strung catamarans, and did lots of other stuff. In any event, I hope all is going well for all my old friends!
Emma - A couple of years ago we sat down for lunch at the chic Eden Rock Restaurant in St. Barts, and when we picked up the menu noticed that a photo of Quintessence was watermarked behind the entrees. As best we can figure, you were the captain when the photo was taken.
- OFFSHORE DELIVERY
Some time ago you published an excellent and thorough article on how to legally avoid paying California sales tax when buying a boat. I'm in serious need of the information, but can't find the article. Can you help?
P.S. I never miss an issue, and thank you for the heart and effort it takes to create each one.
Larry - We suggest that you always use
the phrase 'taking offshore delivery' as opposed to 'trying to
avoid paying sales tax' it sounds so much better.
In any event, the basic concept is that if you take delivery meaning exchange the money, title, and boat outside of the state waters and then cruise to and in another country Mexico is awfully convenient for 90 days, you're no longer liable for sales tax. There's also a way in which you can take delivery offshore and come right back to port but it's more complicated and you have to spend more than 50% of the next six months outside the country.
You want to be very careful that you comply with every little detail of the rules for offshore deliveries, document it preferably with film and videotape and not take any shortcuts. Believe it or not, the Board of Equalization will tell you exactly how to go about it but later on they'll also examine everything to see if they can catch you having made a mistake. Several sources have told us they've recently started to trip up boat buyers on even the smallest technicalities, so be very careful.
- SMOKE DETECTOR
As a fireman, former building inspector, and someone who has had their life saved by a smoke detector, I'm always surprised when the opportunity to endorse their use is missed. The unfortunate souls who lost their lives as a result of the boat fire on Suisun Bay on March 21 would certainly have had a better chance to survive if they'd been awakened before their vessel was engulfed in flames. When you sleep on a boat, a smoke detector is your first 'life-jacket'.
Mark J. Bronson
Norway, New York / Sausalito
Mark - You make an excellent point, as a boat fire is one of the greatest dangers to a boat and her crew no matter if at the dock or at sea. Fiberglass boat fires must be discovered while they are still small, for once they get going they are almost impossible to put out.
- ESOTERIC NAME
Attention Department of Trivial Pursuit. I'm looking for a little help for the esoteric name of a piece of anchoring gear. I knew the term once, but brain-fade has set in. The item is either an adaptation, or more likely the genesis, of the nylon 'shock absorber' commonly used on boats with all-chain rodes. Generally found on boats with bowsprits, it's a 10-foot so or length of nylon line that is semi-permanently attached to the bobstay's chain-plate at the stem of the boat at the waterline. On the opposite end of the nylon line is a shackle or chain hook.
Once anchored, this shackle or chain hook is attached to the chain, and then the rode is slacked enough so that the load is taken by the nylon tether and chain plate. When not anchored, the nylon line is just draped over the bow and secured, but remains attached to the chain plate. That's the part that has earned it at least one name. In addition to being the shock absorber and unloading the windlass, this variation also unloads the bowsprit's anchor roller and gets the load down low for reduced 'sailing on the anchor', and increases the scope.
What's it called? Maybe 'Jacob's Hook'? Naw, that's not it. Anybody know?
Avocet, Cheoy Lee 41
John - In the places we've been, they're known as 'snubbers' and variations of them are used on all kinds of boats, not just those with bowsprits.
- IN A FOG
I'm new to the Bay Area, and at some point would like to sail my 36-foot sailboat along the coast. How do I find out more about the fog conditions? We rent a house up in Mendocino County and the fog hangs offshore most of the summer. How extensive is it?
I checked the NOAA site and saw some satellite maps, but I need more information about fog patterns.
R. Leslye Mogford
R. - Shortly after your letter arrived
June 12, to be exact the San Francisco Chronicle published an
excellent article by Harold Gilliam on fog in Northern California.
It appeared on page A8 of that edition and is the best we've read
on the subject. It even noted that some scientists believe that
Northern California's summer cycles of heat and fog "contribute
to the region's cultural and political climate of tolerance and
innovation." That and the booze and drugs.
Gilliam says the original theory was that marine air is pushed down the California coast by the Pacific High. Because of the earth's rotation, this slightly sun-warmed water veers offshore and is replaced by colder water upwelling from the depths. The cold air from this colder water chills the air above it to create fog. The fog then forms into banks and gets sucked into the Gate and other coastal openings by the extreme summer heat of the Central Valley. When the fog eventually cools the valley, the inland and ocean temperatures more or less equalize, and the fog retreats until the cycle starts again.
Question: Should we fill in the Golden Gate, which would mean warm water and fog-free sailing on what used to be San Francisco Bay?
The trouble with the original theory is that the cycles didn't always hold true. Sometimes it stayed hot and fog free for longer than the model predicted and often times it would stay foggy longer than it should. According to Gilliam's article, the original model was mostly correct. What was missing was the effect of the hard-to-predict north-south high pressure ridges and low pressure troughs associated with the location and movement of the jet stream. So it turns out to be much more complicated than anybody expected.
So what's a coastal sailor to do? First of all, accept the fact that during the summer the weather folks will be terrible at predicting whether or not there will be fog. Long time Bay residents are overly familiar with having two days of hot weather and the forecasters predicting "even warmer weather and no chance of fog for tomorrow." Invariably, this means the fog is going to come in thick and the temps are going to drop 20 degrees. This is exactly what happened during the week of June 11-17. So from the early spring through October, you need to be ready for fog at any time.
We're not sure what you mean by how "extensive" the fog is. The range and thickness of the fog varies tremendously, but don't think you'll be able to sail offshore to get beyond it. Not without lots of provisions. Also realize that some places are far more prone to fog than others. Montara, just to the south of San Francisco, is notorious for being the first place to get it and the last place to be free of it.
In the 'old days', coastal sailing used to come with dread, as sailors ran the risk of being engulfed in fog and/or losing their way and ending up on some rocky shore. God, we hated being blind out there like that! Then along came low-cost and reliable GPS and radar, the fog bound sailor's greatest friends. Taking these along won't assure you of clear weather, but they should mean you'll be safe.
Everyone interested in local weather should email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for a copy of Gilliam's excellent article, as our summary didn't do it justice.
- SOLD ON THE FIRST CALL
I want to report that the Classy Classified I took out in the May issue to sell my Boston Whaler was a success. I sold the boat to the first caller and have had several more ads since!
William H. Hair
William - We're glad your Classy worked so well for you, but don't want our dirty little secret that we have lots of powerboat readers to get out.
- TAKE CARE WHEN DOUBLE CLAMPING
There has been discussion among marine surveyors about the 'good marine practice' of double-clamping hoses. Many marine surveyors will state 'double clamp all below waterline hoses' in the recommendation section of their surveys. But unless one is careful, double-clamping can actually cause problems.
During a seminar several years ago, one of the speakers said she could find no reference to the double-clamping of hoses except for fuel and exhaust hoses. And none of the other 35 marine professionals present could cite a reference to double-clamping water hoses except those in the Code of Federal Regulations which relate to other than recreational vessels. The earliest reference I've found to double-clamping was in a 1935 Chris Craft sales brochure where it was stated that, "all hoses have been double-clamped for your yachting safety."
I'm not sure how many of you remember what hose clamps were like 65 years ago, but they were usually made of #12 baling wire that had been formed to take a stove bolt and nut for tightening. Most weren't even galvanized. In cases where such hose clamps weren't available, they were 'made' by twisting a piece of bailing wire with pliers. Given the quality of the original hose clamps, it's easy to see why double-clamping was considered necessary. Today's hose clamps are unless you buy them at an auto supply store or home improvement center far superior as they are made of passivated stainless steel strap with stainless steel worm screws.
The problem with double clamping hoses has to do with the length of the hose barb. The old hose barbs were designed to accept two and sometimes even three clamps. But during a visit to a marine chandlery recently, I noticed that even the 1.5-inch barbs were not long enough to properly and safely install two clamps.
A couple of months ago I surveyed a boat that could have sunk because of the double clamping of hoses. The owner, acting on the recommendation of a surveyor, had put two clamps on a hose barb that had only been designed to accept one. As a result, the second clamp was just past the end of the barb and was actually cutting the hose it was supposed to secure. With a little wiggling, I was able to pull the torn hose off the barb. So it's a good thing the boat was out of the water at the time.
My advice, then, is to be careful when double-clamping. If you do it on a barb that isn't long enough, you're not adding another level of safely, but rather creating a potentially serious problem.
Jack MacKinnon, AMS/SMS
Old Fart Marine Surveyor
- FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE FOOD CHAIN
A short note from a lowlife powerboat puke. I realize that because I own a powerboat now, I'm at the bottom of the sailing food chain although I previously owned an Ericson 27 and a Cal 29. Nonetheless, I read every Latitude from cover to cover and have for years, as there is an unbelieveable amount of information for all boaters in every issue. I consider Latitude to be the best boating not just sailing rag out today. I also enjoy Passagemaker for my motorboat 'fix'.
My wife and I are headed to Mexico next year for a six-month cruise, so the information you provide is invaluable. I also really enjoy the editor's replies to the Letters.
After taking our boat to San Diego, we took our dinghy out cruising and lo and behold, there was the Wanderer and two women sailing Profligate!! I was blown away that the three of you were able to sail the big cat in such tight quarters, including lots of tacks and gybes. So I took the accompanying photograph.
But no sooner had we arrived back in our home port of Newport Beach that we noticed Profligate parked in front of the Sea Scout base. I'm assuming you were headed back to the Bay Area.
Motor vessel Boppy's Star
Ross - Thanks for the kind words about
the magazine, as our entire staff really knocks themselves out
to provide as much information as we can. And thanks for making
the Wanderer and his crew sound like such great sailors, when
the real truth is the big cat is ridiculously easy for even two
people to handle. By the way, while in Newport Beach Profligate
enjoyed the great hospitality of Orange Coast College rather than
the Boy Scouts although we're sure they're wonderful, too.
'Powerboat puke'? Except in jest, we're not having any of it. As far as we're concerned, the only important thing is that people enjoy themselves, no matter what kind of boat they're on or even if they're not on a boat at all.
- O'BRIAN'S STORIES WERE THIN
I was glad to read your comments on the Patrick O'Brian series as I thought I was the only one who considered his stories to be thin. I attributed it to a lack of character development and reread the Hornblower series to confirm it.
Many thanks for telling it like it is. I look forward to reading Latitude each month, having been a supporter since 1977.
Warren - While we personally don't care for the O'Brian series, taste is a subjective thing, so it comes as no surprise to us that tens of thousands of readers enjoy his books. After all, our favorite book is Robert Louis Stevenson's The Wrecker which nobody else seems to like at all. However, David Kennedy of the Armchair Sailor reports the book is now back in print.
- UP TO HIS NECK
We recently heard a true story that concerns a cruiser identity unknown who came across a dead whale. He decided he wanted a photograph of him standing on the whale. So he climbed on the whale carcass and proceeded to jump up and down at which time he broke through the decaying flesh and sunk up to his neck. His friends were able to extract him using lines, but even after numerous scrubbings, he still smelled to high heaven for several days.
Here's another true story out of La Paz: A female shopper in one of the large Mexican chain markets not the CCC reached into the pineapple bin with both hands to pick out a couple of pineapples. As she extracted them, she noticed she'd been bitten on the hand. Although she was rushed to a local hospital a short time later, she died. The doctors and authorities requested a careful search of the pineapple bin and found two coral snakes. The store was still in business when we were there last week, but we bypassed the pineapple bin. From now on, we'll be careful where we put our fingers when purchasing bulk produce.
Geves and Jane Kenny
Sea of Cortez / San Diego
Geves & Jane - We apologize for having to say this, but one of the biggest lessons we've learned in nearly a quarter of a century of publishing Latitude is to be skeptical of stories that don't come with basic facts such as names, dates and specific locations. If, for example, you'd told us that on June 10 Joanie Smith of the Cal 46 Blue Bird was bitten by a coral snake while BBQ-ing on Isla Ballena with Bill and Sandy of the Islander 36 Big Time and Sam and Martha of the Westsail 32 Ocean Passage we'd be inclined to believe the story. But without facts or collaboration, the carcass and snake stories have the odor of a dying whale.
- BETWEEN TWO ROCKS
During a recent visit to New Zealand, I took a day to visit Waiheke Island, one of the many charming islands in the Hauraki Gulf. It's just a half hour ferry ride from Auckland. After the commuters leave in the morning for the big city, the island becomes quiet and peaceful.
Waiheke's coastline has many white sand beaches and small secluded bays. It was at one of these bays, the appropriately named Rocky Bay, that I chanced upon a small sloop that was wedged between two large rocks. My immediate thought was that this would make an interesting story for Latitude. With camera in hand, I was concentrating on composing the photograph when I heard a young lady behind me plead, "Do you have to take a picture of it?"
She then proceeded to tell me what had happened. Her husband had secured and I use that word loosely their sloop to a new mooring several days before. Somehow the shackle had loosened and the boat was carried in by the tide and came to rest snugly between these two rocks.
After close inspection of the hull, I remarked to the lady that there didn't appear to be any significant damage. I told her that it would have been difficult to steer the boat to come to rest between the rocks without damage, let alone to have it occur by chance. Perhaps one must add small sloops to the axiom that God shows favor on sailors, drunks, and orphans.
Readers - To see this photo and many others in more vivid color, go to www.latitude38.com, click on the new 'Lectronic Latitude.
- EVEN THOUGH I WAS PROBABLY TO BLAME
Last summer I purchased and installed an Air Marine wind generator on my Whitby 42. The product, which is made by Southwest Windpower of Flagstaff, worked perfectly for a year when without warning it lost a blade. I assumed that it was out of warranty and further assumed that I was probably to blame for the blade coming off as I may not have tightened it enough or perhaps should have used Lock-tite.
I called Southwest to order a new set of blades they recommend replacing them in balanced sets and was asked what happened to my original blades. When I told the woman what had happened, she said the unit was rated for up to 11 mph winds and should not have failed. A new set of blades was sent to me without charge! I'm still in shock as I have never dealt with a company that treated me so well. I didn't have to beg, plead, send in receipts or even ask for warranty service. They deserve high praise.
- A TOTAL INVESTMENT OF $1,500
Thanks for the great picture of my Cal 20 Cheap Therapy on page 170-171 of the May issue. Behind us in the photo are Don and Lilt McPherson aboard their Catalina 27 who sold us our Cal! It was just a coincidence that both our boats happened to be sailing into the Berkeley Marina at the time your photographer pulled out his camera.
We met and became friends with the McPhersons while sailing Lido 14s out of the Cal Sailing Club about five years ago when I started as a sailing instructor. In fact, I taught Don how to sail dinghies without a rudder. We've since become good friends, and they're probably responsible for getting us into J Dock in the Berkeley Marina, which has the best social scene. In fact, the folks on the dock started the J Dock Club.
The Cal and Catalina have been great boats for both of us. For example, we were sailing the Bay on New Year's Eve when the fireworks were set off. It was about 38 degrees and I don't mean latitude. We've also BBQ'd on our boats in Clipper Cove near Treasure Island, and have gone on overnighters to Petaluma.
One of your readers wrote in describing his dream of owning a Cal 20. When we got ours actually my wife bought it I thought it was kind of ugly. But we've since sailed her everywhere in the Bay that other boats go, and it's rigged for spinnaker which I fly even when singlehanding. I was singlehanding, in fact, the day winds came out of the south on the Bay at 62 mph. I was under bare poles for two hours.
After I put a new bottom on the Cal, we started racing her. The boats rates 273, and we use women skippers on the last Friday of every month to get extra points. I think we're tied for second or third in the series.
My wife paid $900 for the boat, and so far the biggest expense was replacing the rubrail that fell off. After painting the inside and doing a little rewiring, our total investment is still under $1,500. We probably sail more than any boat in the marina.
Cheap Therapy, Cal 20
Darrell - You're getting the 'big bang for the buck' from that Cal.
- IT HADN'T EVEN CROSSED MY MIND
The June letter from Mr. C regarding his advice to anyone thinking about building a boat was generally on the point, but didn't paint the entire picture.
I built my boat without the presence of a wife/girlfriend, so I can't address the relationship issues that are associated with building one's own boat. But I imagine Mr. C is accurate there, anyway.
You'd have to be nuts to undertake a big boatbuilding project without some pretty good reasons. I had two. First, having heard the sound of cracking wood and crunching fiberglass on two separate occasions while inadvertently getting whacked by another boat on the Bay, I wanted something a good deal stronger than the typical production boat before taking on the ocean. Secondly, at 6'6" in height, there were no production boats that allowed me the common comfort of standing belowdecks. So, I built a Roberts' Mauritius 43 ketch out of steel to address both issues.
After completing the boat, I took her on the requisite trip to Mexico, where she performed up to my expectations. While sitting in the cockpit of someone else's boat in Cabo one morning, the topic of who was sailing what boat came up, when somebody announced that my crew and I had arrived aboard a boat that I had built myself. At that point a cute young thing said I must be very proud to have accomplished something like that. To tell you the truth, that concept hadn't even crossed my mind until then. But she was right! I was proud, by God, and still am! In my view, anybody with a fat wallet or excellent credit can buy a boat and go, but it takes a whole lot more than that to build one.
In the final analysis, however, both Mr. C and Latitude's editorial response to him are correct: For at least nine out of 10 people who ponder the idea of building their own boat, the best answer is 'Don't'. But I just wanted to present another view.
Steel Breeze , a Home-Made, Hand-built, Steel Boat
Vin - We admire anyone who has the skill and perseverance to build their own boat. Congratulations. And thanks for your unique insight into the matter.
- PARTS FOR CALS
In the last issue a reader asked for input regarding replacement wood parts for the interior of boats that had been built by Cal or more properly, Jensen Marine. They have replacement parts for most model and year Cals, so have your year, make and model number ready when ordering. Contact them at www.stangelohardwoods.com.
Banana Wind, Cal 25
- COLLEGE AT SEA SCHOOL
My name is Captain Sean S. Bercaw, and I read with interest David Hammer's June letter inquiring about 'college at sea' opportunities for his son. I know of a perfect one SEA (Sea Education Association).
We run the SeaSemester Program, an undergraduate college semester-at-sea program where students study Oceanography, Nautical Science and Maritime Studies. Students spend six weeks on our campus onshore, and six weeks at sea. They earn 17 units of college credit and sea time towards a USCG license/certificate. Our vessels are sailing schoolships, one being a 125-foot staysail schooner, the other a 135-ft brigantine. We are presently building a new vessel in Tacoma, WA.
Please check our web site at www.seaeducation.org. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Sean S. Bercaw
Captain / Nautical Science Faculty
- LOOKING TO VOLUNTEER
I was wondering if you know of any programs in the Bay Area that teach underprivileged kids or adults to sail? I have time on weekends and would like to volunteer my time. I've been sailing the bay for five years and I'm looking for a way to get involved in volunteering.
Mike - Great idea! There are plenty of
organizations that could use your help. We published your email
address so they can contact you.
- FUN TO READ AND FULL OF INFORMATION
I've always been involved with the ocean through 20 years of oceanography, but I'm new to sailing. I don't know what took me so long. I just wanted your staff to know that Latitude is not only fun to read, but also a great source of information in particular for newcomers like me. I picked it up for the first time while waiting for my sailing instructor for my initial Basic Sailing class a couple of months ago. Now I can't wait until the next issue comes out.
No Boat Yet
Martin - Check out 'lectronic Latitude, too!
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