THAILAND? THAT'S NOT THAILAND!
I'm Carol Elsworthy - aka 'Crew Chief Carol' for the Beneteau
40.7 'Blubyu' - that was featured on the cover of the July 'Latitude'.
For some reason, the boat on the cover was identified as 'Moondance'
As I sat at the St. Francis YC having a cocktail watching the
start of the Coastal Cup, 'Blubyu' looked fabulous going under
the Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately, they DNF'd, as there was
almost no wind and it took them 25 hours just to get to Davenport.
But the next day they had a great sail into Santa Cruz Harbor.
Team 'Blubyu' consists of owner/captain Steve Williams, as well
as Tom Bergen, Andrew Gromeeko, Harry Elsworthy, Glenn Harman,
Tim Hawkins, Lance Garrett, Rick Hilles, Michael McGrath and
Even though the boat was misidentified, it was a tremendous thrill
- as you can imagine - for all of us to see our boat on the cover
of Latitude. As a result, numerous copies of the July 'Latitude'
have been sent across continents to friends and others.
Carol - Here's what happened: We had
a great web photo of Moondance in Thailand all ready for the
cover, but just hours before it was to go to press the printers
discovered it was lacking in the necessary resolution. Yikes!
So we dashed through our Coastal Cup photos - we've got very
good shots of almost every boat - and picked out 'Blubyu'. While
we were able to change the cover, the Contents page - which had
the caption for the cover - had already been printed. So we've
been waiting for someone like you to ask.
For those who think of Beneteaus primarily as charter boats,
after being tweaked and getting ratings benefits, the 40.7s are
very competitive. In fact, two of them will be on the Australia's
Kenwood Cup team in Hawaii this month.
SOS FOR A LIFERAFT
Over the years I enjoyed reading 'Latitude', and now I've made
the decision to take a cruise to the Sea of Cortez for six months
starting in the fall. I need a liferaft, but I don't want to
buy one just for this trip. Where can I rent one?
Phil - The folks at Coast Marine (800-433-8050),
Hewett Industrial Supply (415-371-1054) and Sal's Inflatable
Services (510-522-1824) all rent liferafts. We'd call each to
compare models and prices, but figure on about $175 a week or
$450 a month for a six-person raft. But the price varies with
the brand of raft and other things.
Some cruisers rent liferafts just for the trip down, figuring
that once they get to the relatively benign waters of Mexico,
they'll use their dinghy as a liferaft. The problem then becomes
shipping the raft back after the week or two trip down. Liferafts
are 'hazardous materials' because of the compressed gas and flares,
so it can be very tricky or expensive to ship them back by air
or even truck. Talk to the liferaft dealers for suggestions.
At some point in the game, it becomes cheaper to buy a new or
used raft and then resell it after a cruising season. The companies
mentioned above - and others - sell new liferafts, but you could
advertise for a used one in the Classy Classifieds. Hope to see
you in Mexico - but not in a liferaft!
NOW 'LECTRONIC LATITUDE IS PART OF MY
'Lectronic Latitude - it's another winner. I just discovered
it, and now it's part of my day. Great job!
Stuart - We're glad you like it. We're
enthused because it finally gives us an opportunity to share
some great color photographs - particularly of the great cruising
destinations of the world - with our readers. We hope that everyone
will check it out - you reach 'Lectronic Latitude by way of www.latitude38.com - and
send in their color photos and captions.
AMERICANS WHO HAVE NO REGARD FOR OTHERS
After reading a grossly inaccurate letter in the May issue from
the '$600 million man' about how bad things are in the Sea of
Cortez, and then a similar slam against La Paz in a cruise note
by the paranoid Mr. Hughes, I can only conclude that 'Latitude'
has been receiving letters from a certain group of Americans
who have come down to La Paz to live. While it's not true of
all of us Americans living in La Paz, a certain number of the
group have the following characteristics:
- They have absolutely no regard for others, and believe that
La Paz was created solely for their convenience.
- They openly do here what they know they couldn't legally do
in the United States.
- After moving to this poor but improving country, they can't
understand why things aren't exactly the way they are back in
- They terribly resent any suggestion that their own actions
are out of line.
- They completely forget that they are guests in another country,
and have little or no understanding of Mexico, Mexicans, or the
I do not mean to suggest that the rest of us Americans living
in La Paz aren't irascible at times, but there are those whose
behavior is such that they are never good friends, companions,
It's also unfortunate that one of the writers castigated the
Shroyers of Marina de La Paz. Mac and Mary have not only worked
hard for many years creating a successful business, but they've
always tried to help other passing Americans who asked for it
- not just those who rent a berth from them. And unlike the '$600
million dollar man' and Mr. Hughes, the Shroyers do understand
Mexican culture and how things work in Mexico.
Ellis - As we've remarked before, we
don't know what it is about La Paz that seems to attract so many
inactive and former cruisers who take such delight in bitching
about darn near everyone and everything. And usually over the
VHF radio. The common thread many of them have is that they never
made it past La Paz, so they remain almost completely ignorant
about the nature of foreign cruising.
Let the record show that we at 'Latitude' believe that the Sea
of Cortez - particularly between La Paz and Bahia Concepcion
- is one of the most spectacularly beautiful, rewarding, and
uncrowded cruising areas in the world. If you're not convinced,
check out Gerry Cunningham's The Complete Cruising Guide to the
Lower Gulf of the Sea of Cortez, which lists more than 50 anchorages
just between La Paz and Puerto Escondido. Furthermore, La Paz
is a terrific gateway city, one that's relatively inexpensive,
has just about everything a cruiser could need, and is genuinely
foreign. No, Mexicans in La Paz don't pander to Americans. And
no, they don't do everything in La Paz the way they do it in
Dana Point - and thank God for that!
EL SALVADOR - WITH PRIDE AND HONOR
I enjoyed reading about El Salvador in the June issue. When I
first visited the country in '82, I had many of the concerns
expressed in the 'El Salvador At A Glance' sidebar printed within
the 'A Memorial Stop' article. But during my tour of El Salvador,
the warmth and kindness of the people - similar to that described
in the article - put my fears to rest.
With respect to the comments about El Salvador's political and
economic problems, I found that - as in most disputes - there
are four sides to every story: your side, the other guy's side,
the media's side, and what really happened. My conclusion is
that the people spoke, when they chose, in free, fair and open
elections to be governed by what your article described as the
"ultra right-wing" ARENA party. Since the mid-1980s,
representatives from all over the world - including the Organization
of American States, the European Community, and both major political
parties in the United States - have witnessed and certified each
of the national elections. In three elections, a majority of
the people voted for ARENA's presidential candidate. Twice I
served as a member of this international team.
In the last 18 years, I have visited the country at least 25
times. I have met perhaps 1,000 Salvadorans, including four presidents,
several of the ex-guerrilla commandants, at least two criminals
and five of the people mentioned in the articles. Although I
have never visited the specific marinas mentioned in the article,
I have discussed them with several friends, who also give them
I can speak, however, with in depth knowledge and affection for
the country and its people. In spite of its population density,
El Salvador is - after the rainy season - certainly one of the
most beautiful countries in the Western Hemisphere. The gods
have blessed it with graceful beaches, towering volcanoes and
tropical rain forests. There are even several significant Mayan
The people of El Salvador are extraordinarily friendly, and the
greeting received by your correspondents was typical of the welcome
offered to visitors. I have heard people from Latin America say,
"Some of us don't like the United States, and we can't stand
gringos. Others don't appreciate your country, but enjoy having
Americans as friends. But the Salvadorans truly like the United
States and love Americans."
I can say with pride and honor that some of my closest friends
are from El Salvador. As time goes by and more people discover
'The Forgotten Middle', I am sure that they will join me in praising
El Salvador, its culture and its people.
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
John - We've received two more glowing
reports from cruisers who have visited the marinas in El Salvador.
In fact, we're holding them back so as to give equal time to
other parts of the cruising world. But we think the developments
in El Salvador - for both cruisers and the citizens - are very
THE GLOBALSTAR SOLUTION
I read your article about cell phones in Mexico, and a subsequent
article in the June issue about Internet in the Bay. You'll be
happy to know that a homegrown company, Globalstar of San Jose,
provides a new portable satellite phone service throughout the
United States, offshore, and throughout Mexico. As I write this,
the service is rolling out worldwide, and there will be global
coverage within a year or two.
The beauty of Globalstar is that the phone will operate in standard
cellular mode when you are within cell range so that you don't
spend satellite minutes when you have terrestrial cell coverage.
When you're down in Mexico, it's the same thing, as you only
go into satellite mode when you don't have ground cell service.
They also sell a marine kit, although you don't need one unless
you want to talk from inside your boat. In addition, there are
lots of deals on phones and minutes.
In the future, Globalstar will be rolling out data service, which
will allow email and Internet access.
Mike - When you move on to 'Sightings',
you'll read that Qualcomm and Globalstar have become the official
communications system of Baja Ha-Ha VII. In fact, every Ha-Ha
entry has received an offer of special pricing on the phones.
During the Ha-Ha, the Grand Poobah will be using the Qualcomm
phone and Globalstar satellite system to get the daily weather
report for the fleet, to talk to his kids and for any emergency
communication that might be needed.
A couple of quick clarifications. The Qualcomm phone is trimodal:
analog, digital and satellite. Because it uses a totally different
technology - 'bent pipe' - than did the now defunct Iridium system,
the satellite service is far more reliable and the sound quality
as good as with regular cell phones. The different technology
also means there are limitations to the coverage. By the time
the fall cruising season starts, all of North and Central America
as well as the Caribbean and Europe will be covered, but more
than 250 miles offshore and many other parts of the world will
not be covered. Full offshore coverage will not be available
Data service will also be available prior to the start of the
Ha-Ha, so the Poobah will be using Qualcomm-Globalstar to email
daily reports back for posting on 'Lectronic Latitude. The data
speed will only be 9600 baud - like SailMail - so both sending
back photos and surfing the net would be ridiculously expensive.
For more details, see this month's 'Sightings'.
CORRELATES WITH THE TABLES OF PROJECTIONS
While reading page 138 of the May issue, I came across a 'Sightings'
piece titled 'Speed Projections for a 52-ft Morrelli & Melvin
Catamaran'. Gasp, that's our boat!
On May 23, we finally launched 'Adagio' in the Bay of Islands,
New Zealand, and have sailed her two times since. We first sailed
her on May 28 when we took her out for about four hours in lightish
winds and beautiful flat water. With 12 knots of apparent wind,
our GPS showed us sailing at 9.7 knots at a true wind angle of
about 130 degrees. This correlates pretty well with the table
of projections in 'Latitude'. These were not your usual bluewater
ocean cruising conditions, of course, as we were sheltered from
both ocean swells and wind waves.
We didn't sail her again in the subsequent few weeks because
she was hauled out of the water again for final touches. Steve
and I hope to begin moving aboard by early July, and do as much
sailing as possible before we depart for New Caledonia mid-August.
But we think our boat is a real beauty to behold and well worth
the wait. Our first taste of sailing her really made us smile.
We will send you more first hand reports and photos as we collect
them - and hope to send you some real-time performance figures
for this cat.
Dorothy and Stephen Darden
'Adagio', Morrelli & Melvin 52
Readers - The Dardens are former residents
of Tiburon who had their cat custom built in New Zealand.
We read the letter from 'Mr. C' regarding his 'boat-building
blues'. Although we sympathize with him, there is another side
to this proverbial coin. We are just starting the process of
building our dream boat, beginning with a Cal 46 bare hull that
was factory-built. Obviously, we have our work cut out for us,
but we don't think the project has to be as dismal as Mr. C.
suggests. We have already put aside the finances to complete
the project, and my husband has the skills and time necessary
to devote to the construction. We have rented a lot across the
street from our house - the hull is already there - so our commute
to 'work' only requires stumbling across the street with a cup
of coffee. We plan on having 'Seayanika' completed within two
One of the principal reasons we decided to build our own boat
instead of purchasing a slightly used model is the knowledge
that, once built, we will know everything there is to know about
our boat's strengths and weaknesses, the location of all systems,
and where to look when something goes wrong. This intimate knowledge
of one's boat can be of vital importance during an emergency.
Nobody said building our own boat was going to be easy, but I
believe the end result is worth the effort: a vessel of which
you can be proud and confident, and which meets your particular
Erik and Katriana Vader
The future 'Seayanika'
Erik & Katriana - We just hope you
were realistic in your planning. In the March/April 'Multihulls'
magazine, Robert and Gayle Ingersoll had the following advice
to prospective do-it-yourselfers after getting their boat sailable
but without an interior.
We paraphrase their words for clarity: Those contemplating an
extensive boatbuilding project should at least double the projected
hours needed to do the job - then add another 20% more for good
measure. Having done so, they shouldn't have underestimated the
required time by more than half. The same should be done for
But based on the following letter, perhaps there is reason for
BOATBUILDING & SANITY
'Snow Dragon II' is an aluminum cutter with round bilges and
a pilothouse. She's 49 feet on deck, displaces 38,000 pounds,
and draws almost five feet with the board up. We launched her
2.5 years after taking delivery of a bare aluminum hull and deck.
A year after that we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on a
trip that took us to the Channel Islands and Ensenada. She performed
wonderfully on our summer cruise, and we're really happy we built
her. Here's how we did it - and maintained some degree of sanity.
We had previously cruised our Hunter 31 for three years from
Valdez, Alaska, to Brisbane, Australia - so we both knew we loved
and wanted to continue the lifestyle. This experience helped
us to know what we wanted in our new boat - and we spent six
months searching for one we could modify or refit. Having built
two houses, we had an idea how much work would be involved, so
building a boat was not our first choice.
While cruising aboard our Hunter, we met Dick Koopman, a Dutch
designer, and fell in love with his boat. After finding nothing
in the used market, Chris called him in the Netherlands to briefly
discuss how much the design would cost - then told him to go
ahead. A little while later we flew to Holland to go over the
final details and to inspect yards that were building other boats
he had designed. A couple of months later, the final plans arrived,
and we made a final decision on where to have the hull built.
We'd already talked with some West Coast builders, but in the
end placed an order for the hull and deck to be built in Holland
- where they are extremely familiar with Dick Koopman's designs.
Because of the detailed plans provided by the designer, we were
able to design the interior fairly completely prior to the arrival
of the hull. So when the hull did arrive 11 months after placing
the order, we were ready to go.
We put the hull at the old Sanford-Wood Boatyard - which four
months later became KKMI. We were a bit apprehensive about what
the new owners would think about inheriting a project boat in
their yard, but quickly learned that Ken Keefe and Paul Kaplan
were willing to let us continue. In this project we've had a
number of lucky breaks, but that ranks right up there with first
meeting the designer. KKMI was a wonderful yard to work in, and
the moral support of pleasant people and other boat workers was
a huge plus. It's inspiring to see other people getting things
done, and this helped to keep us on track. So despite the distractions
of the interesting boats that came through the yard, we generally
managed to stay focused. In addition, having the boat in the
yard was an excellent way to have access to top quality technical
skills when we didn't feel confident to do something ourselves.
Chris worked a regular job while I worked on the boat - and took
our son Colin back and forth to school and other activities.
As soon as the boat had the start of an interior, Colin got a
desk where he could do homework. After a while, I mounted a basketball
hoop above the door of my workshop container. We took time off
during construction to have a life outside the boatyard. We seldom
worked on the boat for more than one day per weekend, we took
ski weekends in the winter, and had at least one vacation each
As far as our skills are concerned, we probably had a slight
edge on most amateurs. We've both worked in residential construction,
done most of the work on our two houses, and had remodeled and
upgraded our previous boat. Frances had run her own woodworking
business for many years, we were comfortable with electrical,
plumbing and heating systems. Though not a mechanic, Chris can
change the odd engine part. The major tasks we hired out were:
1) Additional welding on the hull; 2) Having the interior sprayed
with insulaton; 3) Engine installation and shaft alignment; 4)
Fabrication of the radar arch, stanchions and pulpit; 5) Ordering
a rig from JP Boatworks - who designed it in conjunction with
the designer and then installed it; and 6) Having refrigeration
put in a box I had designed. All this was in addition to hull
lifting and moving, the crane for stepping the mast and those
kinds of things.
The design and construction of the whole thing - including the
design and construction of the hull - took 4.5 years. The first
year we weren't in 'construction mode' because the hull was being
built by somebody else. We spent 2.5 years on the hard, and another
year in the water living aboard while we finished fitting the
boat out. When we left, 'Snow Dragon II' was completely seaworthy
and outfitted with an autopilot, storm shutters, spare anchor
rode, storm sails and all the other things that normally get
done during the first year of cruising.
Why do we think it worked for us? We'd already done construction
projects together, and were used to working with each other.
We had most of the necessary skills, and what we didn't know
how to do we hired out. I, for example, would never be able to
weld a hull so fair. We had a design we loved and knew the boat
would be very well built. In addition, I worked on the boat as
a job, while Chris and Colin would occasionally help during the
week and Chris worked on the weekends. But we did other things
as well. We'd been cruising, so we had even more motivation to
complete the job. Besides, we actually enjoy working on boats,
so it wasn't constant torture.
In the end, we had a boat that we'd never otherwise have been
able to afford. If we'd just wanted a boat to take us cruising
for a few years, we'd have bought a used one and made do. Since
we'd just finished with that approach, we were ready for our
Some general thoughts for others thinking of building their own
boat: If you don't have most of the required skills, add in the
time to learn them. As wonderful as cruising is, it's just another
way to experience life. Building anything with a partner can
be stressful, and building a house has probably broken up more
relationships than boatbuilding ever will. If you're not having
fun, you're doing something wrong - and that includes building
'Snow Dragon II'
Valdez, Alaska/San Rafael
GIZMO BY SHARP
I'm planning to set sail in November, but have not yet figured
out the email question. I can bring along a laptop, but while
reading a recent 'Changes' I came across a story about a "gizmo
made by Sharp" that you can use to connect your laptop to
any pay phone to connect to the Internet for sending email. No
computer stores know what I'm talking about, so I thought I'd
turn to the sailing hub for some answers. Thanks for listening
and being so wonderful!
Haida 26, 'Blew Dragon'
Ali - The 'gizmo' you're interested
in - and the associates in computer stores are clueless about
- is the Sharp TM-20. This stands for the TelMail E-Mail Organizer,
which lists for $99.99. This half-pound, 7-inch by 4-inch device
with a reduced-size keyboard eliminates the need to use a computer
when sending or receiving emails.
Based on the reports we've gotten, the Sharp TM-20 - unlike many
other electronic products - has proven itself to be both useful
and reliable. In fact, four or five letters in this issue came
via a TM-20 and Pocketmail.
I enjoy reading 'Latitude' - especially articles such as the
one on the loss of the 'Painkiller' in the Caribbean and the
rescue of her crew, and the interview with Captain Larry Hall.
The latter is my kind of Coastie. I joined the Coast Guard in
1940 and left in '46. I have nothing but fond memories of that
time of my life.
I'd like to congratulate the crew of 'Painkiller' for being so
well prepared, but I'd like to mention a couple of things. First,
if they had had a collision mat onboard, they may have been able
to prevent the boat from sinking - or it might have at least
slowed the sinking. West Marine sells such mats for just over
$100 - a small price for how much it might be able to help. The
one I have is mounted on the underside of my cockpit locker hatch,
where I can get at it easily.
After my son read about the 'Painkiller' sinking, he suggested
that we conduct some practice drills - something that I had been
suggesting for a long time. I could understand his previous reluctance,
since the drill I used to hate most in the Coast Guard was the
collision drill. But back then we were dealing with a huge, cumbersome
mat. The mat West Marine sells is just the right size and shape
- a triangle - for a sailboat.
About 15 years ago - after reading about several sailboats that
sank - despite being dropped several pumps, some of which didn't
work and some of which the stricken crew couldn't recover - I
wrote an article to a sailing magazine suggesting that sailors
could make their own mats. 'A Band-Aid for First-Aid' was the
title. After all, the danger from floating objects is always
a possibility - even more so in the Northwest where there are
a lot of logs.
Norman and Ken Andersen
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Norman & Ken - We've always been
a little skeptical of how well such mats might work, but then
last month we received a piece from a Bay Area sailor who used
such a mat to good effect after hitting an unlit fishing boat
in the Caribbean.
As for Capt. Hall moving back to D.C., we'll really miss him.
He did more for the Coast Guard and Coast Guard/mariner relations
than the brass back in Washington will ever realize.
ADVERTISERS SHOULD INCLUDE EMAIL ADDRESSES
We're cruising from Mexico to French Polynesia on the Milk Run
this year, and are going to hang in the Raiatea-Tahaa area for
the season. At the end of the season we'll haul the boat and
then return next year. When we went to make a reservation to
haul, the fellow told us there was a 10% discount if we were
members of BOAT/U.S. "No problem," I said, "we
can become members quickly."
I was wrong. When we got back to our boat, we pulled out the
May issue of 'Latitude' and found six ads for BOAT/U.S. But not
one of them had an email address - which is all that we LSB and
USB SailMail types can use out here. Only one BOAT/U.S. ad even
had a web address, and that was for towing. In this part of French
Polynesia, web access is $5 U.S. for 15 minutes, so we had no
way to communicate. As such, we think it would be a good idea
if you alerted your advertisers to the fact that including an
email address in their ads would garner them some additional
We came back to the Bay Area for my daughter's wedding in May,
and had a long order waiting for us at West Marine - thanks to
their email staff, which had communicated with us here in French
Polynesia extensively. When we got to the Sausalito store, they
had everything waiting for us.
We still want to join BOAT/U.S., so if you can give us their
email address we'll contact them. And thanks again for the rag
- and the effort your staff puts into it.
Bob Walker and Dian Drake
Bob & Dian - We'll have the ad guys
pass your suggestion on to our advertisers. Meanwhile, try www.boatus.com. And thanks
for the compliments.
By the way, if you get a chance, take a nice shot of the two
of you in a sweet tropical setting - say from inside the Tahaa
lagoon with the sun setting behind Bora Bora - so we can post
it as the photo of the day on 'Lectronic Latitude.
I'd like to make a brief comment regarding your response to my
'Ladies, It's Half Your Boat' letter that appeared on page 68
of the June issue. I believe that you may have missed the context
of my point.
I didn't say that I lose respect for the women who don't do the
'Baja Bash' or other long sea passages with their husbands or
boyfriends. What I said was that I was disappointed in the women
who just give up after they've had their fun and leave it up
to the man they love to find a friend - or as it turns out most
times, a total stranger - to get their boat somewhere secure.
No, I don't choose to make long passages either, but I do believe
in having a mutually agreed upon 'Plan B' if things don't work
Nevada - Back Home Safe and Sound
Heather - Sorry if we misunderstood
you, but even after your clarification our reaction would have
been the same. If the woman in our life said, "Look loverboy,
the only time I have fun on the boat is when she's at anchor
in a calm spot in Mexico. If you want to take the boat down there
for the winter, I'll join you for the good part - but getting
it back is your responsibility" - our response would be,
"It would be great if you enjoyed sailing more, but since
you don't, that's a reasonable compromise." Most men we
know are more than happy to go along with agreements such as
IT'S EXPENSIVE TO LIVE ABOARD
In the June 'Letters', Wendy Hinman
of Seattle touted living aboard a 30-40 foot boat - at $300-350
per month - as an affordable way to live compared to living in
a $1,000/month apartment. You failed to correct this misconception.
Where do these people learn their math?
Let's take that 40-foot boat paying $350/month in slip fees.
Who is paying for the boat? A current safe investment returns
8-10%. Assuming the value of the boat is $50-$70 thousand, the
liveaboard is 'paying' an additional $500 a month to own that
boat. Now we're up to around $850 a month.
Oops! Did we forget the effects of depreciation? Assuming that
this is an older boat - a fair assumption, given the price and
size - the depreciation is probably only 5-10% a year (worse
on a newer boat) to add another $400/month. Now we are at $1,250
Of course, there are other maintenance and repair expenses with
owning a boat that will inflate this number even further. Let
us not even get into comparisons of dollars per month per square
foot of living space. It gets way too depressing. Then there's
the absence of flush toilets and real showers on a boat.
The only way to live aboard economically is to find a small,
inexpensive and probably somewhat derelict vessel. Then park
it in a remote and rundown marina, and live in a manner that
most normal folks would not condone.
As one who lived aboard in Ballena Isle Marina, Alameda, and
enjoyed the hell out of it for several years, I am aware of all
kinds of reasons to enjoy that lifestyle - but saving money is
not one of them. It's time to dispel that rumor - and scare off
the potential liveaboard who is only looking for cheap rent -
and keep those berths for the serious boaters.
Landlocked in Sacramento
Jeff - Okay, we think we catch your
drift. Living aboard is a really, really, really expensive form
NO ROOM AT SAN DIEGO INN-BY-THE-SEA
We were just about to send in our entry fee to the Baja
Ha-Ha folks, but San Diego, the host city, has put a stop
to that. Since there is no berth space for big boats, our 60-foot
ketch can't be accommodated. Our last hope was Sunroad Marina.
We were willing to pay the fees, but were just notified they
don't have any space. And they say there won't be any room for
even temporary liveaboards until October 31.
Sorry guys, after sailing down from the Seattle area, we're not
into 'heaving to' off Coronado for three months. So our Force
50 will have to go elsewhere. You might let other big boat owners
know there is 'no room at the inn'.
Ken and Angi Burns
Washington State Port Commissioner
Ken & Angi - First of all, you're
saying 'sorry' to the wrong folks. As we've tried to make clear
to everyone, 'Latitude 38' founded and continues to support the
Ha-Ha, but it's owned and run by Baja Ha-Ha, Inc., an entirely
Secondly, we don't know if you folks in the Northwest get any
news about California, but the economy has been pretty good down
here for a couple of years. When it's good, people buy boats
and the very limited number of marina slips fill up fast. The
bottom line is that there have been fewer legal liveaboard slips
for 60-foot boats in the popular areas of Northern and Southern
California in the last couple of years than there are parking
spaces for cars in San Francisco. And we presume you at least
know there aren't any parking spaces in downtown San Francisco.
So don't even bother coming to California - or Mexico - if you
need confirmed reservations for a berth six months in advance.
Before you freak out, understand that there's nothing new about
this. One month before the start of the last Ha-Ha there were
a total of four empty berths in all of San Diego - and the 126
Ha-Ha starters managed to work through it. Here are a few of
the ways we suggest you and others from the Northwest pull it
1) Head south later - like mid-August or September when the weather
is at least less threatening. Two Julys ago the Coast Guard up
at Humboldt Bay had to come to the assistance of seven southbound
cruising boats from the Northwest!
2) When you get to San Francisco Bay, you're probably not going
to find any legal liveaboard space in the immediate Bay Area.
But ask around because things change day by day. Also check marinas
a little ways away from the Central Bay. If you can't find a
berth, you can anchor off Sausalito, at Hospital Cove, in the
lee of the Tiburon Peninsula, and at scores of places up in the
Delta. Lots of cruisers have had months of fun doing just this.
2) Half Moon Bay is a great place to anchor for a night or two,
and Santa Cruz and Monterey have enough attractions to make four
to seven day stops worthwhile. And don't forget Stillwater Cove
off Carmel, San Simeon, Morro Bay - the most hospitable yacht
club on the coast - or Port San Luis. These are terrific places
to visit - particularly in August and September, when the weather
is usually warmer and more tranquil.
Once you round Point Conception, there's about 35 miles of lovely
and unpopulated 'lost coast' that has always been one of our
favorites. And there's no time like the fall to catch great waves
at The Ranch. Chances are slim of finding a 60-foot guest slip
in Santa Barbara, a really lovely town you could spend several
weeks enjoying. Fortunately, you can anchor for free to the east
of Stearns Wharf.
Did we mention the Channel Islands? There are only about 100
places to anchor out at these dramatically underutilized islands.
There are great places for hiking, bird-watching, surfing, and
anchor practice - and general communing with nature. Once again,
August, September and early October are the best times of year.
Ventura and Oxnard are often not as crowded as other harbors
- we pulled into Oxnard late one afternoon in May and they had
a side-tie for our 63-foot cat - so you can often find room there
for a couple of days. Once you get into Santa Monica Bay, Paradise
Park is good for a night on the hook, and during the week you
can almost certainly find guest berthing in Marina del Rey. King
Harbor might be tight.
From Marina del Rey, it's a nice sail over to Catalina, where
if you arrive on a weekday, you'll almost certainly be able to
snag a mooring or a good spot to set the hook. You could enjoy
an entire summer at Catalina, but in the off chance you get bored
after a week, sail back to Long Beach. The harbormasters at both
the Downtown Marina and Alamitos Bay have always done a great
job of saving the end-ties for transient boats, so chances are
decent you'll be able to stay for the two-week maximum. And before
or after, you can also anchor out inside the breakwater behind
one of the oil islands. We did that in April and had a great
time. By the way, the sailing conditions inside the breakwater
are the finest and most reliable in Southern California.
When you get down to Newport, where the wind hardly blows, you
get to enjoy an entirely different kind of experience. If the
harbormaster doesn't have any mooring buoys available, you can
usually find space at the anchorage in the middle of the bay.
You set your hook in about 12-feet with a glue-like bottom. From
the anchorage in Newport Beach, the affluent life passes right
before your eyes: sportfishing boats, little sailboats, big sailboats,
canoes, paddle boards - it's all there. If you brought your bike,
Newport is a great place to ride. When hurricanes in Mexico are
sending up big surf, don't miss the death-defying show at the
'dirty old Wedge'. From Newport, it's just a few miles down a
lovely coast to Laguna, where you can drop the hook in Emerald
Cove, and Dana Point, where you can anchor inside or outside
the breakwater. After the urbanity of Newport and Dana Point,
you'll probably want to head back to Catalina for another week
of peace and quiet.
If you want to continue heading south, there's Oceanside, which
sometimes has guest slips. The next stop is Mission Bay, where
you can drop the hook in the calm waters of Mariner's Cove for
72 hours and check out all the action on Pacific Beach. It's
a few more miles down the coast to San Diego Bay, which has a
number of anchorages and where the Poobah hopes the harbormaster
will again set aside an anchorage just for Ha-Ha boats. And by
the time you get there, you might discover there are a couple
of open slips. After all, the sportfishing boats will have already
headed for Cabo and the Bisbee fishing tournament. In addition,
in this tight berth market, marinas aren't interested in making
long term commitments way in advance. But if they've got a berth
and you're right there - you're in there.
So the truth of the matter is that if you're really going cruising,
why wait until Mexico? There are countless great places to stop
on the way to San Diego, and with a little flexibility, there
is almost unlimited space. If you need confirmation that the
above is not baloney, we just got an email from Ty and Toni Knudsen
of the Westsail 43 'Sundowner'. They left Northern California
about four months ago on a 'take our sweet time' trip to South
America, and have made it all the way to Newport Beach. Here's
how they did it:
"We stopped at Pillar Point (Half Moon Bay), Monterey, San
Simeon, Port San Luis, Coho Anchorage, Santa Barbara, Oxnard,
and made many trips out to the Channel Islands. We anchored all
around the Channel Islands and hiked wherever we could, and rowed
our dinghy into the caves. Our favorite Channel Island was Santa
Barbara Island, where we were fortunate enough to spot some quite
rare birds. We also explored around Santa Catalina and are now
in Newport. We're headed back to Catalina tomorrow. By the way,
our wind generator, upgraded battery bank and 12-volt refrigeration
combination give us extra free time to explore inland and visit
friends overnight ashore. Ah, freedom!"
Readers - After we sent the above response to Ken and Angi, we
got the following response:
"Now it's obvious why 'Latitude' is the best sailing rag.
Also, we're not giving up. We'll try a few tricks we've learned
since moving aboard in '78. I may be retired, but not tired."
NOT SO BRIGHT LIGHTS
A pet peeve of mine has always been the remarkably poor understanding
that boaters have of the proper lights to display at night. Returning
through the mass of boats after the fireworks display off Sausalito
was the last straw. Less than half of the boats I saw were displaying
legal lights. In some cases it was because bulbs were out, but
in other cases ignorance was the only excuse.
Sailors should realize that navigating in a crowded harbor at
night is hard enough, so I ask them please not to make it even
more difficult by turning on whatever lights they feel are right.
The rules are very specific, and they are specific for a reason.
The direction of any properly lighted boat can be identified
by other skippers and a correct response to collision courses
determined. When the lights are not right, it's impossible to
determine what type of vessel you are looking at and which way
it is going.
I'm not even going to mention the number of different mistakes
that the stinkpotters made, but I thought sailors were supposed
to know better. Why do sailors not understand that they should
not have both their masthead light on with their deck level lights?
To demonstrate the importance of the rules, take the following
test describing the vessels that would display the following
1) Two red lights, one over the other. Answer: A Vessel Not Under
Command, meaning one that is underway, not anchored, but unable
to control its motion - or the port quarter of a sailboat with
his tricolor and his deck lights on.
2) Two white lights, one over the other. Answer: No legal vessel
- but a sailboat with both his tricolor and his deck lights on.
3) A red light over a white light. Answer: A vessel fishing with
lines, not underway - or a sailboat with his tricolor and his
steaming light . . . like a certain 63-foot catamaran I saw the
Bill - A 63-foot catamaran out on the
evening of the Fourth - that sounds suspiciously like 'Profligate'.
Our only excuse for showing the wrong lights was - it seems hard
to believe after all these years - unadulterated ignorance.
Here's how we think it happened. When we bought a boat new in
'81, it only came with a masthead tricolor - as opposed to both
a masthead tricolor and the decklights that would have been necessary
for being legal when powering and showing the steaming light.
Since we naturally assumed that a new boat would have the required
lights, when it got dark we turned on the masthead tricolor,
and when we started motoring, we added the steaming light. Which,
as you point out, is illegal. Nonetheless, we became used to
We then bought a much-used boat, that again only had a masthead
tricolor. So our improper use was merely reinforced. Then we
bought 'Big O', which had decklights, so for 12 years we were
no longer a navigation hazard when motoring at night. In any
event, when it came time to have 'Profligate' built, we ordered
up all the lights on the mast - and had long forgotten that any
others would be required when motoring at night. We hope that
In any event, we're scrambling to get the proper deck lights
installed so we can be legal when motoring at night. And we thank
you for taking the time to correct our embarrassing error.
I'm the "unknown owner" of 'Second Nature' that was
in the Catnip Cup to Vallejo on June 10. I sent you an email
in May to enlist for the rally, but I'm sure you receive enough
email to choke a Univac. We had to leave Vallejo early and did
not get much time to socialize, so we are looking forward to
the next catamaran rally.
I'm not as concerned about being listed as an "unknown owner"
as I am with the type of cat I have being incorrectly listed.
She's a Prout Quest 33, which I purchased in Acapulco and sailed
here to San Francisco. She has an interesting history. The English
couple who purchased her new, motored her through 250 locks in
Europe, then cruised the Med for two years, going as far east
as Turkey and Greece. Then they sailed across the Atlantic to
Barbados, then through the Panama Canal up to Mexico. The amazing
thing is that the couple were 71-year-old newlyweds when they
started the cruise!
My hope is to retrace the boat's tracks and take her back to
Europe. I don't have any second thoughts about taking this cat
'Second Nature', Prout Quest 33
Jerry - Thanks for being understanding
our of omission and error. We do the best we can, but sometimes
it's just not good enough. As for the 71-year-old newlyweds taking
off on a cruise, that's great!
While reading 'Lectronic
Latitude, I found a short piece and a link to the sailboat
'Satori' from the movie 'The Perfect Storm'. When I returned
to the site to forward it to a friend who had turned me on to
the book, the reference was gone. Where did it go? Why was it
taken off and where can I find it?
Both the magazine and your Web site keep getting better.
Pete - We pulled it because we found
a mistake in it. A revised version of it was put back up on the
12 edition of 'Lectronic Latitude - which as you know can
be accessed via www.latitude38.com.
CAR RENTALS IN MEXICO
In a recent edition of 'Latitude', some letters alluded to unwarranted
tickets being given to drivers of rental cars in La Paz. Having
just checked in to Marina de La Paz, we met up with Ernie and
Emily Mendez on 'Quiet Times', long time friends who just completed
a four-year circumnavigation! While they had their boat hauled
for painting, they rented a small vehicle for several weeks.
Ernie told us that as they were headed out to dinner one night,
he was stopped by a motorcycle policeman after completing a right
turn. Speaking in fluent Spanish, Ernie had no trouble understanding
the officer telling him that some pedestrians had been near the
crosswalk. When Ernie started to protest, he was further told
that he might have to be taken to a local physician for a sobriety
check, and then to the police station. The fine would be 250
pesos - about $25 U.S. Since his wallet was empty, he asked if
there was any other way to solve the problem. After some hemming
and hawing, Emily produced 50 pesos - about $5 U.S. The officer
told him that he was sure this would take care of the 'problem'.
A week later, two more people staying at Marina Palmira for six
months rented a car - and were likewise stopped. After much talk
in broken English and discussion of their long term residence,
they were released with only a warning.
We subsequently had some lengthy discussions on this phenomenon,
and speculated that it might be a result of the police only making
$200 to $250 a month. We also talked about ways to prevent the
problem, and decided that after renting a car in La Paz, the
first order of business would be to find some paper to match
the color of the car, then cover the rental car advertising.
Next, add some political slogans. Finally, quickly drive down
one of the many dusty streets to mess up the shiny paint - and
blend in with the local cars and populace. Which, after all,
is the whole idea of cruising.
'Elixir' will be in La Paz until November when we return for
'Elixir', Island Packet 40
Jack - Different folks have different
ways of looking at those incidents. Some will feel that paying
$5 to solve a phony problem is an outrage. But there's another
school - which we attend - that believes as long as 'the bite'
isn't done in a particularly hostile manner, and isn't too great,
that it's part of the 'charm' of Mexico.
For decades some public employees in Mexico have augmented their
sub-subsistence level pay with periodical mordida. It will be
interesting to see whether this continues after Vicente Fox,
the new president, takes office in December. He's vowed to clean
up corruption, but what if - as many feel - it long ago became
part of the policeman's compensation package?
For what it's worth, in the more than 20 years we've been visiting
Mexico, we've never been subjected to mordida. True, a policeman
in Ensenada once stopped us and demanded $20. We had, however,
been pulling a boat trailer all night from Puerto Escondido,
and had entered town in excess of the speed limit, on the wrong
side of the road, and had somehow sailed through a red light.
Since we had indeed "broken all the rules", we paid
the $10 U.S. to "solve the problem". And we tipped
the guy another $10 for being so nice. We spent that evening
at home with our kids in the Bay Area as opposed to inside the
Ensenada jail. We felt it was money well spent.
I had a rather interesting situation arise most recently when
I responded to a July Classy Classified
for a "Newport 28, 1980".
It turned to be a Newport 27. Nonetheless, I met the person who
responded to my call at the appointed time at Brisbane Marina,
Sierra Point, to look over and sea trial the boat. When I was
done, I made an all cash offer for the full asking price of $12,000.
I waived hauling the boat for a survey, making a clear title
the only condition of my purchasing the boat. He wouldn't accept
it! He said he wanted to show the boat to a few more people to
see if he could get more for it.
This individual later phoned me, and at this time it was revealed
that his name wasn't on the title and that he was, in fact, selling
the boat for an undisclosed friend who lives in Incline Village,
Nevada. Since I wouldn't increase my full price offer, the boat
has apparently been purchased by someone else - at least I have
heard nothing to the contrary.
My suggestion to 'Latitude' is that you may want to consider
adopting a classified ad policy that requires a copy of the Certificate
of Title or Document with the name of the person placing the
ad listed on Title or Document. At the present time, it appears
that some of 'Latitude's classifieds may be placed by non-owners
acting in the capacity of unlicensed brokers.
I have sailed and owned boats for over 30 years, and this qualifies
as one of those 'interesting' experiences. I've enjoyed 'Latitude'
Don - We didn't include the other person's
name because we weren't able to contact him. But unless we're
mistaken, there's nothing illegal about a person representing
the owner in the sale of a boat. After all, if you can do it
with houses and cars, why not boats? Our understanding is that
a person only needs a license to sell such things if they do
it as a business or advertise it as a business.
THE CATFISHER 32
I would like to get the email address of Jonathan and Joell White,
who recently have written about cruising in Mexico aboard their
Catfisher 32 'Jo-Jo'. The Catfisher 32 is the boat I have been
dreaming about, and therefore I would like to contact them. Can
you help me?
Claude - Rather than giving out their
email address indiscriminately, we prefer to print yours so they
can contact you if they wish - and we're pretty sure they will.
THE PANAMANIAN DEFENSE
There are few greater pleasures for an ex-Bay Area sailor than
reading a fairly new issue of 'Latitude' while anchored off a
tropical island and sipping a cold beer. Such was my joy last
week, as visitors to our friends on 'Gingi', formerly from Half
Moon Bay, delivered the June edition here in Panama. I was all
smiles until I came to an entry by Joe Larive of the Hunter 40
'La Rive' in the 'Changes' section. I am a firm believer in everyone's
right to have an opinion about something, but I feel I would
be remiss if I didn't share my opinion - and that of other cruisers
here - about Larive's 'trashing' of the wonderful country of
After admitting that his views on Panamanians - that they should
be given trash cans and shown how to use them - were based on
spending a total of a week here, perhaps Larive didn't give the
country or her people a reasonable chance to impress him. I wonder,
for example, if he sailed among the dozens of magnificent, unspoiled
islands off the Pacific Coast of western Panama? Did he anchor
in crystal clear lagoons, backed by perfect crescent-shaped beaches
lined with swaying palm trees? Did he sail into magnificent Bahia
Honda, where he would have been greeted by the local natives
in their canoes interested in selling vegetables and fruits?
Did he journey up the unforgettable River Pedregal, with its
sometimes twisting narrows and strong tides, and view the grandeur
of the mountains looming in the distance? Has he driven through
the state of Chiriqui, which has some of the most luscious scenery
to be found anywhere in the world? Did he enjoy the hospitality
of the charming and gracious people in the town of David? Has
he swum in the Las Perlas Islands? Did he sail over to Taboga
Island - also known as the Island of Flowers - and hike up the
public trail through the rain forest? We didn't see a piece of
trash the entire way.
After sharing his letter with other cruisers, we all made a point
to look at the trash situation when we went into Panama City.
Yes, there is some trash - but not nearly the amount that you'd
find in any city in America. Did he not see the clean-up crews
in their yellow T-shirts, working all day picking up litter?
Did he not see the shopkeepers assiduously sweeping the sidewalks
in front of their stores each morning? What about the myriad
teams with their weed whackers, keeping the grass well cut? Does
he not realize that more land has been set aside in Panama as
national parks than in Costa Rica, which has the reputation for
being the most 'eco-conscious' country in Central America?
From our perspective, Panama is making a concerted effort to
grow and attract tourism after the huge amounts of American dollars
left with the hand-over of the Canal. Larive does this country
an injustice by blowing it off after just a few days.
I'm also not sure what he is referring to when he mentions ".
. . the beautiful Balboa YC . . ." as the club burned down
in the last century and has not been rebuilt. All that remains
is a long pier leading to a small floating fuel dock. There are
no facilities, no showers, no stores nearby - nothing except
a small, rickety-looking haul-out railway. I was there this morning
to make sure it had not suddenly been rebuilt, and it had not.
However, you can tie up to one of their moorings for an outrageous
fee and pay the highest charge in Panama for diesel. Or, if you
don't want to get continuously 'waked' by the passing freighters,
you can pay them $25 for the privilege of buying fuel there.
It's better to anchor at Flamenco Island, where there is a helpful
little cruising community, and you can get fuel by calling Nestor's
Taxi on Channel 6.
I wish Larive would spend more time here and walk around with
his eyes open rather than down. Panama has turned out to be the
country that we - and many other cruisers - were looking for
in the tropics: Islands out of paradise, a cosmopolitan city
where you can buy anything you want, and the fabled San Blas
Islands as a special treat! Oh yes, Panama City is no more dangerous
than the Bay Area - you just don't go to certain areas at night,
just as you don't hang around Hunter's Point or parts of Oakland
One last benefit of Panama is that unlike Costa Rica, where most
cruisers have either been ripped off or know someone who has,
we feel secure leaving our dinghies and boats at any anchorage.
Friends have been leaving their dinghy unlocked at the restaurant
near Flamenco Island for two years and have never had a problem.
Thievery is not the national sport here. Panama is a marvelous
country and we're glad to be spending our time here.
Captain Jonathan and Joell White
Catfisher 32, 'JoJo'
ex-Bay Area/Currently loving Panama
Jonathan & Joell - In fairness to
Larive, he passed through the Balboa YC before it burned down.
Incidentally, Craig Owings, the Commodore of the Pedro Miguel
Boat Club, reports that the Balboa YC has just reopened the pool
and bar area around it, and Larry Liberty is once again presiding.
To each their own, of course, but in our opinion Panama has a
tremendous amount to offer: Many beautiful and nearly untouched
islands on the Pacific side; the incomparable San Blas Islands
in the crystal clear water on the Caribbean; the incredible Darien
jungle; the magnificent Canal; the Boca de Toros region on the
Caribbean side; the history of Balboa, Drake, the pirates and
the Spanish gold; the Las Cruces Trail and the El Camino Real;
historic Portobello and much more. Furthermore, because of its
location between North and South America, Panama has among the
most numerous and diverse plant and animal life in the world.
And did we mention that Panama means "an abundance of fish"?
We also like the people of Panama, who seem much more with it
and alive than the folks in the other Central American countries.
Yes, Colon is dangerous, and parts of Panama City are nasty at
night, but overall we think Panama is a greatly underrated cruising
destination - for those with a truly adventurous spirit.
I made a trip to one of the most remote places a sailboat can
travel: the Darien jungle in Panama. I traveled up the Roi Tuira
River, through uncharted waters, to the end of the Pan American
Highway at Yaviza. I was traveling aboard 'M'Lady', a 35-foot
cutter I built nearly 10 years ago in the San Juan Islands. She's
a cutter rig made out of steel, sweat - and the dreams of trips
to just such remote places.
The Darien is without airports, roads, telephones or other modern
forms of communications that have brought such astonishingly
rapid changes to much of the world. Located between Central and
South America, the Darien has remained an isolated outpost of
a way of life that has remained the same by choice. Although
the cultures and subcultures of the area are on the verge of
extinction, the natives still enjoy an idyllic way of life their
parent's parents enjoyed.
I was invited into this pristine wilderness by its people. I
found that the various tribes have their own domains, and while
they are aware of the other tribes, let each other co-exist.
I traded, talked, viewed, and visited many villages throughout
the Darien. The reaction of the people was always the same: They
would stop what they were doing to visit, trade and spend time
with me. They always offered a place to stay, food, and guidance.
I only wish I spoke their languages better.
Although there are numerous unpalatable aspects of this 'time
gone era', its people's spirits made me rise to a level of inner
peace that most people will never enjoy.
Capt. T. L. Spaulding
Key West, Florida
Readers - We've had this letter and
other material from T.L. on the Darien for more time than we'd
like to admit - and hope to finally get around to editing it
soon. While some cruisers don't think much of Panama - see this
month's 'Changes' from Speck - we couldn't disagree more. The
Darien, for a variety of reasons, is an incredible place for
real adventurers and is just one of Panama's many great attractions.
DON'T CHANGE A THING!
We were surprised to read your apologetic message about not having
a "fancy" Web site. Please don't change a thing! There
is too much 'show' and far too little 'go' on the Internet. Your
site is a refreshing exception as it's got lots of really great
information - especially for those of us who are cruising 'down
under' - with a minimum of crazy 'features' which don't work
on our browser.
Mike Waters and Lee Rees
'Ichi', Columbia 45
I'm interested in running biodiesel in my sailboat engine. Since
biodiesel is made from either waste food oil or virgin veggie
oils, the fumes are noncarcinogenic, it biodegrades pretty quickly
if spilled, and makes your exhaust smell like french fries.
The research says it works great, requires no engine modifications,
and mixes well with petrodiesel. However, I've never talked with
anybody who has tried it in a small marine diesel. Can you put
me in touch with anyone with real experience with it?
'Lycea', Olson 911SE
Jeff - We can't provide you with any
names, but the reviews we've heard from individuals who have
used Soy-Diesel have been all good and none bad. Can we get a
testimonial from anyone with a small diesel?
SINCE THE TOPICS WERE BROUGHT UP. .
After temporarily returning from the Caribbean, I'm catching
up on my reading - and would like to make some comments on issues
that have been discussed.
Medical insurance. My cruising partner has done a bit of research,
and is homing in on Blue Shield's $2,000 deductible policy that
has a monthly premium of around $200/month. This is consistent
with the conclusion of Sandy Ullstrup of 'Little Bit', who has
been sailing on a budget for several years. It's essentially
a 'major medical' policy - a good choice when cruising in areas
where medical service not covered by insurance is inexpensive.
Bermuda, for example, where I paid $216 for a visit to the hospital
emergency room to care for a major 'boat bite', or St. Lucia,
where I paid $30 for a doctor's visit and $48 for an ultrasound!
Water used by boats transiting the Panama Canal. When we small
boats - meaning boats less than 75 feet - transit the canal,
we were placed in the otherwise wasted space at the ends of 1000-foot
locks or in front of or behind 800 or so foot-long ships. As
such, I believe my ancestor Archimedes would tell me that our
presence reduced rather than increased the amount of water used,
by replacing water with a volume of boat having weight equal
to that of our old 'Latitudes', anchor chain, beer and other
Email from Mexico. Compuserve members have - or at least had
- access to a toll-free Mexican access number: (800) 926-6000.
Given that, all you needed was access to an ordinary jack, which
most marinas provided free or at very low cost. My attempts to
work through public phones utilizing acoustic couplers was totally
unsuccessful - except when using the Sharp TM-20 and Pocketmail.
The ham radio code test. I was permitted to use a laptop computer
and word processing software for both practice software and -
after I showed that I didn't have some test-beating software
in place - to transcribe the actual test. (I was required to
delete the transcription after the test.) As a result, I was
able to pass the five and 13 word per minute tests on the respective
first attempts. Not only is typing a letter faster than stroking
one, but it's much more readable and saves a lot of paper while
practicing. By now I'm sure that most examiners are aware that
transcribing with a laptop is permitted by authorizing organizations
such as the Amateur Radio Relay League.
Jack Martin. You're certainly aware, most cruisers' last names
seem to be boat names. For example, to most people I'm probably
known as 'Roger of Ariadne II'. So until I read the letter from
Catherine of Sojurn in the April issue, I did not connect the
Jack who was killed in the New Zealand car wreck with the Linda
- his wife - whom we met in Chacala while helping build Habitat
for Humanity type housing back in 1996. Let me add my sincere
condolences to Linda and her son John.
We've traveled both coasts and the Caribbean, and have found
'Latitude' to be far and away the most informative magazine for
cruisers. Among other things, a Classy Classified listing sold
my Cal 39 to a resident of Fort Lauderdale. In second place would
be the little 'Caribbean Compass', a monthly publication in newspaper
format that's produced in the Caribbean. It provides timely local
information and letters very useful to cruisers and racers, with
content similar to 'Latitude's. I suspect it's what 'Latitude'
might have looked like in the early years.
'Ariadne II', Stamas 44
Roger - The Canal question fools a lot
of very smart people. But if you think about it awhile, you realize
that it takes the same amount of water to lift an already floating
big ship as it does to lift an already floating El Toro 85 feet.
This was strictly a theoretical question, so we weren't considering
additional boats squeezing in front of or in back of large ships
Like you, we think very highly of the 'Caribbean Compass', which
bills itself as the "Marine Monthly of the Southern Caribbean".
Although we've only met our counterparts over the phone, they're
great folks and we admire the effort they put into their editorial.
For subscription information, visit their website at www.caribbeancompass.com.
Although the editorial isn't quite as strong or plentiful, we
also enjoy 'All At Sea', which is published out of St. Martin
and distributed from Puerto Rico down to Trinidad.
Thanks for the great tribute 'Latitude' paid to Joe Parks of
'Maverick' and Bill Berg of 'Golden Ring' for bringing our Freedom
40 'Fantasy' back from Mexico to Oxnard after we had a serious
medical problem that required treatment in the States. 'Fantasy'
is our home, so it was wonderful to get her back. A big hug and
thanks to Joe and Bill!
Ricardo and Pat Mundy
'Fantasy', Freedom 40
IN DEFENSE OF O'BRIAN
If you're going to denigrate one of my favorite authors, a gentleman
much loved by sailors and non-sailors alike, at least spell his
name correctly! O'Brian is spelled with an 'a' not an 'e'. Actually,
O'Brian was christened Richard Patrick Russ, and Patrick O'Brian
was his nom de plume.
A reclusive man, O'Brian was rather annoyed that his series achieved
fame only when he was in his '80s, as the first in his series,
'Master and Commander', had been published 30 years before! At
least he avoided the fate of posthumous recognition.
Having said that, I think it is a shame that your published indifference
to O'Brian's epic series of 18th century seafaring novels has
deterred at least one sailor/boater from reading more than the
first book. Having read all 20 of O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels
with the greatest of pleasure, I would encourage your correspondents
Jim Bondoux and Jim Hildinger (Letters, June) to "struggle"
through at least the first two or three of the series. Consider
'Master and Commander' as the first chapter of a 20-chapter novel.
As such, it defines the main characters and sets the stage for
the following chapters.
Sure, the C.S. Forester's 'Hornblower' series was great. I recall
them as "rousing seafaring yarns" when I was growing
up. However, I find O'Brian's characters far more complex and
interesting, and his books leavened with a sense of humor lacking
in the Hornblower novels. Dr. Maturin's ineptitude as a seaman,
while practicing the appallingly crude naval surgery of the time,
provided the perfect cover for his activities as a spy for the
British admiralty. His command of Spanish and French, and his
many contacts on the Continent, enabled him to carry out London's
policies during the Napoleonic Wars with great effect.
Captain Jack Aubrey, on the other hand, was a consummate sailor
and fighting captain, devoted to his crew and their success in
naval warfare. To this end, he applied his hard-earned prize
money to the purchase of extra gunpowder and shot, the better
to prepare his crew for the inevitable encounters with the French,
Spanish or Dutch. Unlike Maturin, he was utterly inept politically
and his land-based business ventures were disastrous. These unlikely
partners provided perfect foils for each other and resulted in
some outstanding British successes in the naval and political
conflicts of the time. Far from being confined to action against
the French in the English Channel, Captain Aubrey's adventures
span most of the globe, including the Med, Antarctica, Chile
and the United States. These voyages were undertaken under the
auspices of the Royal Navy and, when peace broke out, as commander
of a privately owned vessel under contract to the Admiralty.
The series can be enjoyed at many levels including Maturin's
abiding interest in natural history, the descriptions of the
18th century socio-political environment, and the musical interests
shared by Aubrey and Maturin. The latter resulted in musical
soirees in the great cabin while at sea, and O'Brian's choice
of baroque music by Locatelli, Haydn and Handel has since been
published on CD as Musical Evenings with the Captain. This music
is a delight. Other publications include dictionaries of the
seafaring and medical terms used throughout the series, and yet
another book details the passages described in the novels. For
those interested further, try the Patrick O'Brian chat rooms
on the Internet.
Finally, to 'Latitude's many readers, don't let columnists and
editors tell you what to read. Without exception, my sailing
friends have thoroughly enjoyed the Aubrey/Maturin series. You
may be missing a special treat.
P.S. For readers looking for a different flavor of Baja and the
Sea of Cortez, I can highly recommend 'The Sea of Cortez Review',
a collection of writings and artwork focused on Baja, edited
by Jennifer and Russell Redmond, and published annually by Sunbelt
Publications of San Diego.
Sea of Cortez
John - Congratulations, your defense
of O'Brian was well-thought out and clearly presented. We also
want to heartily endorse your opinion that readers should not
let columnists or editors - particularly those at 'Latitude'
- tell them what to read. Indeed, our intention was never to
"denigrate" O'Brian, but merely to wonder if others
were as surprised as us at the acclaim his novels received.
In any event, we think you'll particularly enjoy one of this
month's articles, in which a 'Latitude' reader recounts teaching
O'Brian, one of his favorite authors, how to sail. Seriously.
MORE ON O'BRIAN
Thank you for publicly pointing out the pedantic nature of Patrick
O'Brian's novels. After all the 'critical acclaim', it was a
brave act. Prior to that, I thought that my sailing buddy Dave
Backhaus and I were the only people who had to steel ourselves
to undertake a new O'Brian installment.
While I agree that the books were historically accurate, they
were so slow and plodding, and as you pointed out, "without
character development", so they seemed interminable. I continued
to read them only because each new review claimed the next one
For any readers interested in novels of the British Navy during
the Napoleonic wars, I would recommended two authors other than
the redoubtable C. F. Forester. The first is Alexander Kent,
who wrote about 16 books on a character by the name of Richard
Bolitho. I thought they were wonderful. Alexander Kent is the
pseudonym for an Englishman by the name of Douglas Reeman, who
wrote bestselling novels of the British Navy in World War II.
These, too, are excellent in their own right.
The second author is an American who, according to the dust cover
of his latest book, still spends all his free time on "his
tatty old sloop, 'Wind Dancer'." His name is Dewey Lambdin
and he serves up rousing, red-blooded adventures of our hero,
Alan Lewrie. His last book was the eighth in the series and gets
us as far as 1797.
33RD ANTIGUA SAIL WEEK
I've often said that the second best thing about sailing - the
first being sailing itself - is the people you meet and the friends
you make. After participating in Antigua Sailing Week for the
first time in '99, I didn't think it could get any better. I
was wrong. This year's Antigua Sailing Week was even more incredible
- and it was in no small part due to the people I had the pleasure
of sailing with.
I want to thank my wife Cathy; Dave 'Yoda' Davis, the Grand Master
of the S.F. Catalina 34 Fleet; Jeff Smith and Nicole Marinkovich;
Don Brooks, an intrepid sailor from West Virginia; Gilbry McCoy,
Coyote Point YC; and Eric Schoenwisner, Alameda YC - for 13 of
the best sailing days I've ever experienced.
This year, we raced 'Rosco', a Dufour 50 Classic, which was worlds
better than the Oceanis 440 we had last year. This boat could
actually go to weather. Picking the boat up in Guadeloupe also
gave us the opportunity to get some sea time in prior to the
racing and get to know the boat. Sailing the 41-mile passage
from Deshaies to English Harbour in a little over five hours
was definitely a rush.
While we didn't win anything, we're a lot more prepared for next
year and ready to go. Maybe we'll actually see some Bay Area
people there one of these years. Antigua Sailing Week is undoubtedly
the best regatta on the planet, and we plan on participating
in the next 33!
Greg and Cathy Sherwood
'Imi Loa', Catalina 34 # 582
South Beach YC, San Francisco
Greg & Cathy - We did six Antigua
Sailing Weeks with 'Big O' and know exactly what you mean. In
our estimation, each one was wilder and more enjoyable than the
one before. In fact, we're a little afraid to go back for fear
we'll either be disappointed or that we'll explode from pleasure.
No serious sailor should die without having 'done Antigua' at
least once. They start on the last Saturday of each April.
PARTS AND OTHER STUFF
I've got a good source for parts for Pearson, Cal and O'Day boats:
D&R Enterprises, 60 South Main St., Assonet, MA 02702-1710.
Their phone number is (508) 644-3001.
With regard to the 'boatbuilding blues', I echo 'Latitude's simple
advice: Don't! As a marine surveyor, I see the fallout from 'homebuilt'
boats all of the time. While there are some very good boats out
there that have been lovingly created by superior craftsmen -
and craftswomen - there are many others that suffer from a problem
in one craft or another. Many expert carpenters, for instance,
fall short in plumbing or electrical skills. Others go for the
'bigger is better' philosophy, and overbuild to the point where
the boat is too heavy or burdened by oversize fittings and hardware.
Worse still, are those who buy undersize or cheap hardware because
it's less expensive - in the short run, anyway.
Rather than building one's own boat, I suggest working hard at
your job, and work overtime or maybe get a second job until you
can afford your dream boat. Nothing worse than to hear someone
say, "I've worked my ass off on this damned boat for many
years, now I'm sick and tired of the blasted thing, and I've
still got a long way to go."
Lastly, I have a comment on the 'Low Tech Wonder'. In the late
'60s or early '70s, the U.S. Navy commissioned a study to find
out which small diesel would be the easiest to hand start. This
was presumably done to determine a good engine for lifeboats.
The Farymann A30M won the competition. I'm not sure if that engine
was ever used in lifeboats, but it was easy to hand start - providing
you had clearance to spin the starter crank. The engine was used
in Cals, Coronado 35s and other boats of that era.
Another diesel that could be started by hand and foot was the
single or double cylinder Hicks, built in the Bay Area during
the first quarter of the 20th century. You know, the old fish
boat engine that emitted a series of muted 'pow' noises as it
chugged across the Bay. The late Bill Warren of the Richmond
YC had one on the Pete Ghio, a 26-ft Monterey during the '50s
and '60s. You turned the large flywheel with a brass handle until
it was just past top dead center, then used 'sneaker power' to
spin the flywheel and start the engine.
Jack Mackinnon, AMS/SMS
(Senior Accredited Marine Surveyor)
NOT A GREAT SAILING BOAT?!
I never growl. Not even when - it just happened - UPS needed
14 days to deliver my express mail to Europe. I do not boil.
Not even if the doors of a restaurant with a big sign reading
'Open', are closed. I do not call a lawyer if somebody, instead
of paying me $2,200 as he should, asks me to pay him $4,400.
But this time I must object, because I have an obligation to
In the July issue of 'Cruising World' magazine, there is an extensive
article about small, used boats. On page 52 it evaluates the
Ericson 27 by saying, "This isn't a great sailing boat .
I could object on the grounds that in 1980 'Latitude' published
an eight-page article titled 'Ericson 27, Class Act,' giving
the boat an excellent review.
I could object on the grounds that at the time there were about
100 proud and happy Ericson 27 owners on San Francisco Bay alone.
There was even a class association and it had been a one design
But I will object on that grounds that I singlehanded 'Nord III',
an Ericson 27, over 15,000 ocean miles - including a voyage from
San Francisco to Japan and back. I made the return voyage non-stop
in 49 days, which was listed in the 1980 edition of the 'Guinness
Book of World Records'. I later singlehanded 'Nord IV' an Ericson
30+, around the world.
Only Poseidon, the god of all seas, knows how many Ericson 27s
are still alive. However, I believe that we - owners and ex-owners
- share respect and maybe even admiration for these brave little
boats. Brothers-in-sails, three cheers for the Ericson 27, for
we know better than 'Cruising World'!
Andrew - The validity of the 'Cruising
World' claim boils down to what they mean by a "great sailing
boat". If they mean speed around a race course, they've
got a point, as the Ericson 27 gets a significant amount of time
in most PHRF fleets from similar size and similar era boats built
by Cal and Catalina, to name just two. The Ericson seems to have
suffered - in terms of pure speed - from an overly rounded bottom,
an inefficient keel, and limited sail area.
But if "great sailing" means an ability to carry on
in pretty rough weather at a reasonable pace, we think you proved
that with your boat. So did Vito Bialla in the first Singlehanded
Farallones Race, when he sailed his Ericson 27 over most of the
course in 45 knots and more of wind, a race in which a number
of boats were dismasted and at least one multihull was flipped.
We had a small interest in an Ericson as our first boat, and
thought it looked nice, sailed reasonably well, and had quite
a bit of interior space.
A reader recently wrote in asking for information about singlehanded
sailing. Although the Singlehanded Sailing Society doesn't have
a question and answer format Web site or newsletter to teach
singlehanding, the SSS Web site at www.sfbaysss.org
is certainly a good place to start and has lots of information
about singlehanded events.
The SSS skipper's and trophy meetings - before and after each
of its six regular races each year - includes discussions of
techniques, problems and so forth. These meetings provide perfect
opportunities to meet other singlehanders - even if someone isn't
particularly interested in racing. For the dates of races and
meetings, consult the Calendar section of Latitude.
There are also several books on the subject. I have Meisel's
Singlehanding, and Henderson's Singlehanded Sailing,
Singlehanded Sailing Society
TROUBLE WITH MY JOB
Congrats on the new 'Lectronic Latitude - it's so cool that
I'm having more trouble than I usually do staying tuned into
my real job.
We're the proud new owners of 'Lear Jet', a Nelson/Marek 56.
We purchased the boat in Honolulu in January, and spent several
months cruising over there. Glenn and crew began the delivery
of 'Lear Jet' to the Bay Area June 24, and we expect her in her
Alameda berth soon.
'Lear Jet' was designed by Nelson/Marek and built by DenCho Marine
in Long Beach in '89. She was raced in San Diego, spent a season
in Mexico, did TransPac '97, Kenwood Cup and some other Hawaii
races. Our primary interest is cruising.
Rumor has it that you are now selling copies of photos you take.
If you happen to get a photo of us coming under the Gate, we'd
would love to buy a copy!
Glenn Andert and Chris Vandever
'Lear Jet', N/M 56
Glenn & Chris - Congratulations
on your new boat! The last time we saw her was off Diamond Head
Light when the HIV+ crew raced her in the TransPac. And thanks
for sharing the news; we wish everybody would let us know when
they got a new boat. As for photographs, yes, we sell the ones
we take, but didn't get 'Lear Jet' coming under the Gate. But
our cameras will be looking for her.
DON'T USE CHARCOAL
Not long ago you ran an article about leaving a boat on the hard
in Raiatea, French Polynesia. If I remember correctly, one of
the owners left charcoal briquettes in the cabin to absorb moisture
and reduce the mildew. This is bad advice, as the last thing
anyone should use as a desiccant is charcoal briquettes.
Here's proof. On July 5, a half million dollar fire was started
in Hilo, Hawaii, by moist briquettes that self-ignited. They
are dangerous to have aboard any vessel because of their propensity
for spontaneous combustion. I hope this saves someone some grief.
Robby - First the drummer for Spinal
Tap goes up in smoke from spontaneous combustion, now a place
in Hilo. Thanks for the reminder.
THEY JUST WANTED ME TO BE HAPPY
I've read boaters' comments on equipment manufacturers attention
to customer satisfaction in 'Latitude', and now I want to share
my own 'happy ending'.
My wife Catherine and I own the Catalina 34 'Fainche' - pronounced
'fanny' - in which I recently completed the installation of a
Spectra watermaker. During the initial tests everything perked
along fine - but then it stopped making water. I called Spectra,
and they sent a tech named Dave Williams out to our boat to check
Dave removed the Clark pump and took it back to the Spectra facility.
The next day he returned with the pump and showed me the problem
- a tiny chip of resin had apparently gotten into a hose when
I was pushing it through a hole I had drilled. I'd tried to prevent
this from happening by taping the ends of the hose with masking
tape, but obviously hadn't been successful. Anyway, the chip
had caused a valve to malfunction. We installed the Clark pump,
and everything worked great. When I asked about the bill for
his services, he said, "Don't worry about it, we just want
you to be happy."
I certainly was happy, and would like to thank Dave for helping
me at my boat - and also Dave Smith, Glenn Bashforth, Bill Edinger
and their staff at Spectra Watermakers, for their support and
for making a fine product.
'Fainche', Catalina 34
WE SHOULD'VE COME OUT
I guess we should've come out for the Catnip Cup in June as we
saw a nice photo of the Atlantic 42 'Mango Mi' in 'Lectronic
Latitude. We wonder if there is anyone who can help us contact
owners Michael and Joyce French. We can be reached at dgilman
Dave Gilman and Tint Khine
'Prime Directive', F-31
Dave & Tint - If they stuck to their
plans, they should be headed across the Pacific by now. But we
think they'll eventually get your message.
CATNIP CUP AND OTHER STUFF
Thanks to the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca for getting
us cats - and some trimarans - together for a 'Catnip Cup' from
the Golden Gate to Vallejo on June 10th, and then back the next
day. However, I'd like to correct an error concerning Karen Taves,
one of my crew. I mistakenly identified her as Karen Wecker.
My other crew-member, Don Margraf, along with Karen, was responsible
for making 'Callisto' a faster pussycat that day, as we were
able to catch and pass a finely sailed Gemini that started about
40 minutes ahead of us - and who everyone was chasing for first-to-finish
honors. Now I owe Don three dinners, as we were also able to
hold back an unknown trimaran - which disappeared under the drawbridge
and up the Napa River after the finish.
Thanks also to Kame over at Pineapple Sails for building a great
spinnaker for us - and for applying my very amateur drawing of
a cat onto the spinnaker. In varying conditions, the crew and
spinnaker allowed us to sail to our Bay Area Multihull Association
PHRF rating of 120 on that day.
In any event, it was a great sail on a gorgeous Bay Area day,
with no problems or injuries, and only one winch handle lost
- presumably into the drink. We finished the evening listening
to Urban Blues, a lively blues trio that was playing at Vallejo
Marina's Remark Restaurant. Who could ask for anything more?
Speaking of injuries, I've been meaning to write to you concerning
the hospitality extended to us by a couple of sailors at the
Benicia Marina over the Memorial Day weekend. Katie Lee and I
had sailed up in anticipation of exploring the Delta on 'Callisto',
but our plans had to be cut short - no pun intended - due to
an injury to Katie's hand. Although she still had five fingers,
it might have been broken, so I pulled into the Benicia Marina
where I was greeted by Bruce the Harbormaster.
As I was explaining the situation to Bruce, Don and Gwen of the
nearby boat 'Special Edition' voluteered to drive us to the emergency
room. Don not only drove us to the emergency room, but he waited
while Katie's hand was examined, x-rayed and diagnosed as having
a contusion. Funny, I always wondered what exactly a contusion
is. Now I know: it's what happens when your hand gets caught
between a taut line and something hard. Anyway, thanks to Don,
Gwen and Bruce, we still managed to have a great few days in
the Delta. Rest assured that we'll respond in kind when the opportunity
'Callisto', Fountaine-Pajot Venezia 42
San Francisco Bay
Marc - We're glad you had a great time
on the Catnip Cup, but have to remind you that no performance
claims can be made on the 'results'. The event was specifically
structured as non-competitive, with boats allowed to start from
anywhere at anytime and not to be in race mode. If you want to
evaluate your boat's relative speed, you need to enter a far
more organized racing event.
I'm interested in crewing on the Baja Ha-Ha - which I thought
was in September - but I'm not on a boat yet. I must have the
date wrong. I also thought there was some kind of get-together
where I'd have a chance to try to get a ride. Can you fill me
Mark - Baja Ha-Ha VII starts on October
31 from San Diego. It wouldn't make any sense to leave in September,
because that's when California has much of its best warm air
sailing - and when Mexico has most of its hurricanes.
If you want try to get a ride on the Ha-Ha, we have three suggestions:
1) Sign up for the Mexico Only Crew List - the forms are in this
issue. 2) Attend the Mexico Only Crew List / Ha-Ha Party and
Reunion at the Encinal YC in Alameda on October 3 from 6 to 9
p.m. 3) Show up, sea bag in hand, at Cabrillo Isle Marina on
October 29th for the Seventh Annual Ha-Ha Halloween Costume and
Kick-Off Party sponsored by West Marine. You'll be Johnny on
the Spot for folks looking for last-minute crew, as the event
starts two days later.
GRUMPY OLD MEN IN A BOAT
I've never written to 'Latitude', but this morning I feel like
rambling about a couple of things.
The first letter in the July edition was from Hope Slifert, who
was looking for her father Don, who was overdue on a trip from
Mazatlan to the Marquesas aboard his 32-ft Tahiti ketch 'Valor'.
It turned out he was fine. I sailed with Don from San Diego to
Cabo in February of '99. It was a great trip, just two grumpy
old men on a boat. It took a month because we did all but two
legs in daysails.
Like Hope, I was starting to get concerned about Don's whereabouts,
because you never know. But then last week I got a nice postcard
of a bare-breasted local girl from Don in Tahiti. Don reported
that he was travelling in company with 'China Moon', a Vancouver
26. The dang 26-footer beat him by two days - so much for waterline!
'Valor' is not the fastest boat, of course, but she's tough.
We had some 40-knot winds north of Cedros but never took any
water on the deck. Anyway, he's now on his way to Bora Bora.
Somebody wrote in asking where they could get an 'I LUFF FOR
MERMAIDS' bumper sticker. They are available from me for $3 p.p.
check or money order, at Snug Harbor Sails, 2215 Walker Ave.,
Mckin-leyville, CA 95519.
The 'Lost Coast' of Northern California: I plan to sail to the
Bay Area from Eureka this fall aboard my Bayfield 29. I'll be
buddyboating with a Fuji named Sea Robin. We plan to stop a lot
at places such as Shelter Cove, Noyo, Van Dam, Cuffy's Cove,
Bodega and Drakes Bay. We'll let you know how it goes.
I hope to be in the Delta for Labor Day, so I really enjoyed
the piece on the area in the July issue.
Woodley Island, Humboldt Bay
Doug - We appreciate your comments -
and indeed would like to hear how your cruise down the 'lost
coast' pans out.
'Athena', the 292-foot three-masted schooner Jim Clark is having
built in Europe, will indeed be an incredible display of wealth
- and as 'Latitude' pointed out, a good comparison with fine
art. While boats are not truly 'fine art', some are damn close
and they have much in common.
Most creative masterpieces are reliant on a rich patron - who
usually ends up with sole possession and much credit for an undertaking.
The total costs for the project are what amaze and intimidate
people. What is not apparent is the far-reaching benefits to
the industries involved and their workers.
For example, my background is in bronze sculpture, which is very
similar in many ways to boatbuilding. We use molds, resins, fiberglass,
welding, fabricating, finishing and so forth. When most people
see the finished sculpture, they have no idea of the skilled
workforce and specialized materials that went into producing
it. Maybe 'Latitude' should document some of the procedures and
technologies involved with Clark's new boat, and give some indication
to the amount of paychecks involved.
Bugeye ketch, 'The Saint'
Jim - We're not big on prying, but we'll
see if we can't find out something about the technologies and
the costs involved.