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LESS WATER FOR A BIG SHIP USING THE CANAL
I'm writing regarding your claim on page 220 of the June issue concerning the amount of water used in the Panama Canal. If you and Craig Owings of the Pedro Miguel Boat Club think it takes the same amount of water for small boats to transit the Panama Canal as it does large ships, you had better go back and redo your calculations, for you are wrong. It takes less water for a big ship and more water for a little boat.
Retired Civil Engineer
Geoff - Don't feel bad, because this one has fooled a lot of trained engineer-types. But it's true, no matter if it's a big ship or an El Toro, they both require 52 million gallons of fresh water to make a transit. Here's a hint on understanding why: forget doing any calculations and concentrate on the concept of lifting an already floating object another 85 feet.
WHAT GALILEE NEEDS NOW
My wife and I have been enjoying 'Latitude' from the beginning. And now that we're back from 12 years in Mexico, we look forward to running down to West Marine at the beginning of each month to pick up the latest issue. We're currently members of the Galilee Co-Op Community, a wonderful community that has eased our reentry considerably.
There was an August issue Sightings called 'What The Bay Needs Now' that singles out Galilee, and intimates that we are snubbing the law and the public in that we have eliminated public access via the dinghy dock for Richardson Bay. This is not true. Galilee currently has - and has had for some months - plans before the City of Sausalito, the BCDC, and others for permits to begin construction on our new docks, including a new dinghy dock. Our community is presently a construction zone as we prepare for these new docks. There has been, and still remains, a temporary dinghy tie-up for anchor-outs. But since it's temporary, it has severe limitations.
We can assure 'Latitude', your readers, and the general public that we take our responsibilities as a Non-Profit Community very seriously - including providing access to Richardson Bay. In fact, we invite you and any of your readers to come by and see 'the Plan', learn about our sense of community - including our responsibility to the anchor-outs.
Don and Teri Murray
Marine Worker/ Board of Directors, Galilee Harbor
Formerly 'Pie in the Sky', Mexico; and 'Galatea'
Don & Teri - We like the idea of
the Galilee Co-op, and are heartened by your response. We'll be
watching for progress.
SAILING ACCOMMODATIONS ON SAN FRANCISCO BAY
We just returned from a week of sailing in the San Juan Islands, and despite a couple of days of rain, it was heaven compared to the average sailing experience on San Francisco Bay. Therefore, I could not agree with you more with 'Latitude's editorial view that we Northern California sailors need to demand better facilities - and a little respect from the counties where we pay our taxes, and the private businesses where we leave our money.
Here's what we're talking about. When we were in the San Juan Islands, a couple of the of the larger harbors we visited - Friday and Roche - had at least 150 guest slips each. When approaching, we called the harbormaster on the VHF - and he/she actually answered! He/she would then assign us a berth - and even gave directions. In Friday Harbor, the harbormaster went so far as to ask me if I preferred a port or starboard tie!'
When we got to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island, two dock boys were there to take our lines and secure the boat. They offered to lend extension cords for shore power if needed, and showed us where to connect to water. They also indicated the location on the dock of the garbage receptacles, and gave us directions to the various shoreside facilities such as stores, hotels, tennis courts and so forth. The use of all their facilities was included for about $30/night.
If that price was too steep for any mariners, there were mooring buoys off many resorts that could be used for free, and there was ample space for anchoring. In addition to all this, there are pump-out stations almost everywhere - even in some of the remote anchorages. Some are free, some require a nominal fee. The friendliness and we-want-your-business attitude is exactly the opposite of the kind of reaction we typically find at most marinas and waterside businesses in the Bay. Why?
'Latitude's demands for better facilities for mariners on the Bay really resonated with us after our recent trip. I'd like to add a few more demands:
1) Mooring Buoys in Clipper Cove.
2) Allowing boats to stay at the docks after nightfall in Ayala Cove on Angel Island.
3) More pump-out stations.
4) Day mooring buoys off of the marina in San Francisco, and a dinghy dock for shoreside excursions.
I am sure that there are many more ways that we could make San Francisco Bay a much more enjoyable place to sail, and other sailors will have better suggestions than mine. We have the best wind - why not the best facilities, too?
'Tamara Lee Ann', Columbia 28
Doug - Thanks for your suggestions. As far as we're concerned, the leading cause of such pitiful facilities for mariners and nature lovers on San Francisco Bay is the haughty and arrogant BCDC (Bay Conservation and Development Commission), which views both boats and mariners as 'Bay fill'. Their hostile attitude toward nautical recreation aborts new or fun concepts before they can even be born.
THE BOATING PUBLIC GETS SCREWED AGAIN
According to 'Latitude', the city of Oakland was given several million dollars to improve the waterfront. Among the improvements were new guest docks in front of Scott's that would have room for 25 boats. The old docks were run down and would only hold about 10 boats.
Jack London Square is one of our favorite spots to stop for a meal. So we eagerly waited for two years for the new guest docks to be completed. Well, now the docks are completed and they look great, but some horse's ass decided to make it into a private dock! Oh yeah, they have a small guest dock that might hold four boats - but we were promised a 25-boat dock. I feel like the boating public has been screwed again.
Jerry - We spoke to Harbormaster Louise
Irvine-Jones, who told us there had never been any plans to put
in guest docks for 25 boats, and that the old dock never had enough
room for 10 boats. Currently, there is a 200-foot guest dock in
front of Scott's that is available on a first-come, first-served
basis, for four hours. Although located in front of Scott's, they
have nothing to do with it, and just because you can tie your
boat up there doesn't mean you have to patronize their business.
There is also a nearby dock just for dinghies.
Irvine-Jones says she also has some Jack London slips for permanent docking as well as overnight. The overnight berthing is $20 for boats up to 50 feet, but you have to pay in advance so others aren't denied a spot if you don't show up. Call Louise at (510) 834-4591 for further information.
Nonetheless, it's common knowledge that the Port of Oakland's seven marinas with approximately 800 total berths are almost certainly going to be turned over to a private operator within the next six months or so. The Port, which handles the Oakland Airport and the Port of Oakland, just isn't set up to be a relatively small landlord. In fact, the gas dock that's all in at Jack London Square won't be operational until a private operator takes over.
DON'T ENDORSE MOORING BUOYS IN RICHARDSON
Although anchoring time limits may be in order for Richardson Bay and other places, we ask 'Latitude' not to endorse moorings. The problem is that many cruisers are on fixed budgets and, while capitalists might start out with low fees, they eventually would go up in price. In addition, moorings would be placed in the best mooring areas, leaving only deeper, more distant, and otherwise more dangerous space available for anchoring. Besides, we pay big bucks for anchoring gear and we should use it. Lastly, many of us feel that convenience is the devil's play.
'Mantra', Kantola 42 trimaran
Anchored In Richardson Bay Off and On the Last Two Weeks
Buzz - We appreciate your feedback. There are, however, several compelling arguments in favor of mooring buoys. First, it allows more mariners to enjoy a limited amount of space. Just imagine, for example, how few mariners would be able to enjoy Avalon Cove if everyone was on their own hook compared with mooring. Secondly, moorings ensure that poorly anchored boats won't drag into other boats or drag ashore. Finally, many environmentalists believe that moorings do less harm to the marine environment. We believe there is enough room for both a mooring area and an anchorage area in Richardson Bay and, given the amount of money Marin County gets from personal property tax on boats, these moorings could be either very low cost or free.
THE 3.5 DAY HAULOUT THAT LASTED 3.5 YEARS
Nearly four years ago, we brought 'Mantra', our Kantola 42 trimaran, up the Napa River to Napa Valley Marina for a three-day haulout. While there, we hatched the dream of cruising into the new century, and really threw ourselves into refitting and upgrading the boat. At the time, we didn't realize it was going to take nearly four years.
We found Napa Valley Marina to be the perfect place to take care of our ever expanding list of 'to dos' and to purchase supplies. We and our boat were tucked away in the back boatyard, nestled between a small pond and the vineyards of the famous Carneros region. As we did our work, we took boatyard living to what we believe was another level. In fact, we should publish a book called 'Boatyard Living' on all the tips we could share and tales we could tell about that lifestyle. One of the best things were the glimmers of hope and strength we gained from others who had completed the work on their boats, launched them, and began their cruising lives.
'Mantra' is now completely upgraded. She has new LPU paint, non-skid, engine, sails, roller furling, electronics and refrigeration. She is finally back in her natural element and loving it! The process was a labor of love, as Buzz, my partner, had built 'Mantra' 30 years ago with Billie and Jay, two friends of his. Our plan had been to be cruising by the year 2000, so we were happy to leave Napa Valley Marina for the last time on August 1.
'Mantra' is performing great, although Buzz and I are having to relearn some of our sailing skills. But we now call nowhere home, and sail wherever the wind takes us. We're looking forward to sailing under the Gate and turning left soon, with no set plans other than to let life unfold itself before us.
Penny Bracken (and Buzz Mitchell)
Somewhere on San Francisco Bay - But Not for Long
NO MOVIES, NO MALLS, NOTHING TO DO
In the April 2000 issue, you responded to a question about anchorages between Point Conception and Cape Mendocino. I have two comments.
First, any time you tell someone about Tomales Bay, please mention the bar. While probably the most lovely bay on the west coast of the United States and a great cruising destination for those who don't need marinas, the bar can suddenly produce 'sneaker waves' when the tide is ebbing. Tomales Bay is close enough to the Bay Area to possibly attract inexperienced yachtsmen who may enter an apparently calm entrance and get some excitement. I've never had a problem with the bar on an incoming tide, although the bar is said to break even on a flood if the northwest swell is high enough.
As to your comment that "cruising along the Northern California coast pretty much sucks", it reminded me of overhearing a petulant teenager at a campground at Tahoe. "No movies, no malls, nothing to do." At the time, my wife was reading, her friend Ruth was dozing, and Tony and I were getting ready to go fishing - all of us enjoying the solitude we came to the lake to find.
My family and I have cruised our Rawson 30 'Candice' between Drake's Bay and Shelter Cove for over 30 years, often using the lumber schooner 'dog holes' of years ago. I have great memories of sitting at anchor in places like Stewart's Point, Fort Ross Bay, and Fish Rocks, reading and watching the afternoon sun compete with the fog for the forest and hills. Just as good camping experiences range from wilderness backpacking to plush resorts, cruisers can match their preferences to cruising areas. North Coast cruising would indeed 'suck' for many yachtsmen, as being stuck for the night in a slip between a loud radio on one side and a party on the other would for me. To each his own.
If you would like an article on the anchorages between San Francisco and Cape Mendocino, I'd be happy to write about some of our cruising experiences along that stretch of coast.
Mat - Since we enjoy watersports, the thing we think sucks about the North Coast is the weather. Give it mainland Mexico air and water temperature, and we'd be all over it. Nonetheless, we'd enjoy reading about your experiences between Mendocino and Conception.
I read your apologies and reasons for making your Web site the way it is. No need! Your site is great, as it's interesting, easy to follow, and well laid out. Everything seems to work, and it's very informative and broad in scope. I'm really happy/lucky I ran into this site and I'm enjoying it immensely! I know I'll be back again and again.
Ralph - Although it's even more work, we really enjoy doing the site - particularly the (almost) daily 'Lectronic Latitude, which gives us a chance to share lots of great color photographs. If you haven't visited, we highly recommend it.
I know you have published articles about casting human ashes to the sea. I have a friend who wants to spread her father's and mother's ashes on San Francisco Bay, but I am not sure of the restrictions. I know you have addressed this subject in the past, but I can't remember which issue. Since I read 'Latitude' every month and think it's the greatest, if you can tell me what issue it appeared in I can look it up.
P.S. My wife and I were in Auckland for the America's Cup, and it was awesome!
Captain (currently armchair) Jack Horvath
Jack - We can't remember what issue it
appeared in, but yes, it is legal to spread human ashes on San
Francisco Bay. In fact, boats are frequently chartered for that
purpose - although there is no reason someone can't spread ashes
from their or a friend's boat. By law, you need to spread the
ashes at least 100 yards from shore - but we think good taste
demands at least half a mile from shore.
Other restrictions have to do with the normal pollution laws. You can, for example, spread flowers on the surface, but not the inorganic green foamy stuff or plastic wrapping that often comes with them. Skippers on funeral charters often run into delicate situations with guests who want to bury some mementos with the deceased - such as books, bottles, animal heads, golf clubs and such. This, of course, cannot be legally permitted, but skippers nonetheless suspect that some folks do it on the sly.
Having one's ashes spread on the Bay or out the Gate is popular. The Wanderer's parents, for example, have made that same request. The Wanderer, however, is opting to have his ashes spread in the French West Indies. After all, if you're going to spend eternity somewhere, why not do it where the water is blue and warm, the tradewinds blow regularly, and all the petite juene filles run around topless?
BROKERING BOATS IS LIKE SEX
Hey guys, you gave some bad advice last month in response to the Shady Deal letter. In California, it's illegal for anyone to broker a boat over 16 feet in length - unless they are licensed and bonded by the State of California's Department of Boating and Waterways. Call and check with them. Real estate brokers also have to be bonded. You should check your facts before dispensing legal advice.
Dave's Marine Yacht Sales
Dave - We weren't dispensing legal advice,
but in any event we did check our facts, and we were right. When
it comes to both sex and brokering boats, money changes everything.
For instance, a woman can screw all the men she wants as long
as she does it for free. But if she has sex for money, it's prostitution
and illegal. It's somewhat similar with selling boats. A guy can
show and sell as many boats as he wants - as long as he does it
for free. The minute he takes money without having a broker's
license, he's broken the law. This isn't to say, of course, that
many consenting adults haven't broken one or more of these laws.
The need to sell that boat through a licensed broker is for the consumer's protection, and we think some of that is provided. But with boats costing as much as they do, the required bond of $15,000 seems a little on the small side.
THE 'PARIS OF THE PACIFIC' IS WHERE?
One of the delights of my enforced time at home in Campbell due to my hip operation is the ability to read 'Lectronic Latitude - as well as visit many other sites on the Web. But in the August 18 edition of 'Lectronic, the item on the Pacific Festival of the Arts - or whatever the current name is - improperly placed Noumea in Vanuatu! Noumea, of course, is the capital of New Caledonia. Several of my friends are there looking forward to the Festival.
As an aside, when I visited Noumea last year, I felt that it was the nicest city in the South Pacific - other than some in New Zealand and Australia. It's clean, modern, and has great French food and friendly people.
And thanks again for putting my photo in the August Changes. After 14 years of reading 'Latitude', it was really a thrill to see myself smiling up from one of the pages.
'Knot Yet', Gulf 32 Pilothouse Sloop
South Beach Harbor, San Francisco / Queensland, Australia
John - Putting out a 'Lectronic Latitude most mornings before noon takes a bit of rushing on the part of our already very busy staff, so some errors such as placing the 'Paris of the Pacific' in the wrong country are bound to occur. But thank you for pointing out our error.
FAILURE TO ACT RESPONSIBLY
In the June Changes, Joe Larive of the vessel 'LaRive' wrote that he had a collision with another vessel 40 miles off the coast of Honduras at night - and left the area without further assessment or rendering aid. His reasoning was that, ". . . this part of the Western Caribbean is full of pirates." If this is Larive's definition of 'full', he wouldn't make much of a bartender.
Was the other vessel able to make port after the collision? Was it equipped with a radio and other lifesaving devices? At this moment, their may be wives and families in Central America wondering why their husbands and fathers never returned from sea. The reason in this case would be Larive's failure to act responsibly and to comply with the law. Section 2303 of the Navigation Rules require the master or individual in charge of a vessel involved in a marine casualty to render necessary assistance. According to his writing, Larive did nothing but flee. The penalty for violating section 2303 is a fine of up to $1000 and imprisonment up to two years. Larive was stupid enough to admit to doing this in 'Latitude'.
One can only imagine the protest Larive would make, had the incident been turned around to where a vessel had collided with his boat and then steamed away without rendering assistance. Personally, I hope Larive sells his boat and never goes to sea again. If some official follows up on the clues in his story and goes after him in a legal way, all the better.
Donald - Let's review the possible mitigating
circumstances: 1) This happened in an area of the Caribbean notorious
for drug smuggling and pirate activity, where three French boats
have disappeared in the last year, one German cruiser was brutally
murdered, and a teenage Dutch cruiser was paralyzed from automatic
weapons fire. 2) Fishing boats directly and indirectly involved
in drug smuggling commonly show no lights. 3) The 'fishing boat'
had the capability to show lights, but did not do so until after
the collision. 4) The 'fishing boat' didn't call for help or try
to make contact with Larive after the collision.
It's common knowledge pretty much everywhere in the Caribbean that vessels showing no lights are sending a distinct signal to all other traffic: Stay the hell away or else! If you want to condemn someone for monitoring 16 while putting as much distance between themselves and what almost certainly was a boat involved in smuggling, that's your right, but we're not going to join you. The only thing we'd criticize Larive for is not alerting the Coast Guard a very short time after the collision.
And in the unlikely event it was an innocent fishing boat, and in the far more unlikely event she sank and her crew died, is Larive the only one you're going to blame? Or do you see any responsibility on the part of the fishing boat crew for not showing lights? Or drug smugglers in general, for creating such a life-is-cheap environment? Or drug users, for creating the need for drug smugglers? Or all the corrupt government and police officials in Central and South America who profit from the deadly trade?
Good day to all who sail with the venerable Atomic 4 aboard. Is there a place were a fella can still get parts and or complete engines? I'm working on an O'Day 27 and would like to refurbish what I believe to be a good little engine that can and does!
P.S. 'Latitude' is awesome!
Jim - Check out the response to the next letter.
I just discovered your Web site, which is great. I'm new to sailing and am in the process of buying a boat. I understand that you had an article on Atomic 4 engines in a past issue. Can you help me locate it and tell me how to get a copy?
Carl - In December of '93, we did what we like to think was an entertaining piece on the Atomic Four entitled 'Learning to Love the Bomb'. Mike Haley of Richmond Boat Works wrote a counterpoint article on the Atomic 4, which ran in February '94. Haley still works on A-4s, but really tries to get people to switch to other engines if he can.
The best Web site we've found for the engines is by a Pearson 28 owner. The Atomic Four section of his site is http://www.geocities.com/atomfour/, and includes many links to other sites. The place that sells all the nifty Atomic 4 updates - freshwater cooling, electronic ignition, high-output alternators and so forth - is Indigo Electronics at www.atomic4.com. Atomic 4 owners and lovers should also check out http://www.min.net/~gdinwiddie/A30/A4.shtml, and lastly, http://www.classic-sailboat.com/atomic_4_comments_and_tips.htm.
BEER AND TOILET PAPER
I'm writing this from 25°N, 156°W, on the way back to California from Hawaii at the end of the Pacific Cup Race. This morning, we had 24 boats check in to the 'Returnee Net' - including one non-race boat who heard us and joined in. 'Rage' is way out ahead up around 41°N, and a few fast boats - which left ahead of Hurricane Daniel - are up in the 32-34°N, 145°W area.
Some thoughts on 'the fun race to Hawaii'. We had fun - though it would have been better to have had more time in Hawaii! The parties/meetings/start in San Francisco were great, but the two days bobbing around the Farallones were not! After sailing into the second big hole on Day Six, we elected to retire to the 'cruising division' and motored thru the remaining holes. We spent the last eight days under sail, and arrived shortly after the official end of the event - 18 days after we started.
I can't say enough good stuff about the folks at the Kaneohe YC. They bent over backwards to help all the boats - winners and losers - while we were there, and remained cheerful under some pretty trying circumstances. I would particularly like to commend Rey Jonssen, harbor/dockmaster at the Kaneohe YC, for accomplishing what he did in what had to have been a very vexing situation - with large boats tied to his floating dock and a hurricane on its way!
About the only negative we had was the way that the numerous non-finishing boats were dealt with. I don't think we expected to win any prizes, but being completely ignored at the awards banquet wasn't very nice.
On the way out, someone said they were writing a piece for 'Latitude' and wanted to know what stuff we ran out of and why. Well, we almost ran out of two things: 1) Toilet paper, because it was a purchasing decision made by a male, and 2) Beer, because it was a purchasing decision made by a female.
'White Eagle', Gulfstar 50
D.E. - The business of pretending that
the boats and crews that didn't finish within the time limit somehow
didn't exist was bogus! As you point out, the West Marine Pacific
Cup is 'the fun race to Hawaii', not the America's Cup, so the
camaraderie has always been at least as important as winning.
To have snubbed all the participants who couldn't finish on time
because of the dramatic lack of wind was to have to unnecessarily
hurt a lot of feelings.
So to all of you Pacific Cup folks who invested so much time and money in a great adventure but weren't able to finish within an arbitrary time limit, we at 'Latitude 'herewith tip our hats to you. You may not have won, you may not have even finished in time, but dammit, you tried your best. At the West Marine Pacific Cup level of racing, that's what counts.
THE MENU FOR THE EXTENDED PACIFIC CUP
We aboard the vessel 'Roam' may not have been the fastest in the recent West Marine Pacific Cup, but we ate well. We would like to share a selection from our onboard menu for the recent Extended Pacific Cup:
Chicken Betadine, which is aged chicken marinated in Betadine solution with Babywipe popovers.
Submerged Pizza, topped with ice chest incubated mushrooms.
Spam Nigiri, seasoned with wasabi and squall water.
Roundup Stew, a delightful combination of scrounged ingredients, served piping hot at a 90° angle while flogging the kite. And finally,
Fresh deck-collected flying fish with savory vegetables in paté topped moistened saltines. Served along side a baby bottom growth salad with a creamy SPF 30 dressing.
'Roam', Young 40
PERKINS' SUPERB ARTICLE
In a previous issue of Latitude, you told us that you were less than enthralled by the Patrick O'Brian tales of 18th century British naval exploits. Now, in the August issue, you give us one of the most interesting articles I have read in a long time by Tom Perkins, who befriended O'Brian and even took him sailing.
Like Perkins, I am a fan of O'Brian's works, and found his article to be superb. You should talk to Tom about coming on the 'Latitude' staff as a full time writer. Of course, he would probably command a pretty hefty compensation package, but I am sure he's worth it.
Bruce H. Munro
Bruce - Last month we had a marvelous article
from Tom Perkins, who once also honored us with a Changes in Latitudes.
month a piece from Roy E. Disney about racing his 'Pyewacket'
at Ford Cork Week in Ireland. We'd be lying if we said we weren't
more than a little delighted!
A LITTLE LITERARY COLOR
As much as I enjoyed Tom Perkins' Cruising With Patrick O'Brian article in the August issue, one would think that if he really had "consumed about everything including, of course, all of Forster's Hornblower books," he would know that the author's name is spelled 'Forester.' And writer Richard Ollard would also surely cringe to see Pepys spelled 'Peeps'.
Still, a little literary color is a good thing for 'Latitude' - so long as it ain't poetry!
N.W. - Good lord, after nearly a lifetime of extraordinary learning, achievement and style, Perkins makes one typo and spells a name phonetically - mistakes that aren't caught by 'Latitude's battery of proofreaders - and he's dismissed as ignorant. How about cutting everybody a little slack?
WITH WOES THE NORM
Having recently completed the Singlehanded TransPac from San Francisco to Kauai, I would like to relay some observations and thank yous.
I am proud to have joined a fairly exclusive club of those who have competed in this race, as it is the ultimate marathon. And this year's cross section of skippers truly made it one for the ages. But most important was the fleet's observation of the oldest adage of sailing on the high seas - a mariner's first responsibility is to try to assist those who may be in distress. With the dismasting, breakdowns, and mechanical and electrical woes, assistance became the norm rather than the exception. And for all the offering of assistance, the Singlehanded TransPac Class of 2000 deserves the highest marks.
There were those ashore who provided assistance, too. Having boat problems 2,000 ocean miles away from home can be quite unnerving. But the Ala Wai Marine performed like champions for me. In the midst of the Asahi and Kenwood Cup preparations, David Becker and the rest of his staff repaired my boat within the strict time frame I required. He also assisted several of my fellow Singlehanded TransPac skippers in the shipping of our boats back to the mainland. I thought their service, pricing, and aloha spirit were fantastic.
Finally, I would like to thank 'Latitude', and Managing Editor John Riise in particular. The quality of your magazine is something to be admired. The information, instructional tips, and irreverent humor all make the first of each month something to look forward to! As for John, the last time I saw him, I was carrying a battery to the Chevron station in Princeville. We stopped to talk about the race and all the characters involved. John's coverage, photos and narratives were right on the mark!
'Leilani Too', Catalina 36
Jay - Thanks for the kind words, as the
magazine is a labor of love on the part of the entire staff. As
for the Singlehanded TransPac, we've been covering it from the
start, and admire the courage and camaraderie of all the participants.
Our only hope is that John Riise, who has been itching to do the
race for years, finally gets his chance in '02.
Many of the emails I received regarding the sinking in the Caribbean of our Morgan 45 'Painkiller' have had to do with questions about insurance. Bill Fowler of Fowler Insurance is my cruising insurance agent, and he's been magnificent throughout the entire process. First, when I asked him for a quote last fall, he went to work and got the best quote of any of the companies I contacted. Then, when we settled on a company, he provided me with three 8 x11 laminated cards with all the claims information I would eventually need.
Definitions: Until May, I had never asked the definition of 'Personal Property'. The definition I was given is a little squishy, but it's what I've had to work with. Basically, 'hull insurance' includes any equipment used in the normal operation or navigation of the vessel, while personal property includes personal items such as clothing, cameras and so forth. However, it might also include other items that aren't detailed on the survey, as it is the survey that's used, in part, to determine the insurance company's liability to perform on the claim.
Coverage: I moved from a condo in Oakland onto 'Painkiller' last fall. All of my personal possessions with the exception of business clothes came aboard. The personal property coverage we had was $3,000. As I have since found out, that was woefully inadequate. For example, when I replaced the laptop I lost, it cost over $1,700. I lost three 35mm cameras and a Sony camcorder. Just by themselves, the four cameras are worth several thousand dollars. The lesson? Be careful and consider what stuff you have on board before coming up with a number for personal property. But at least I'm still here to buy replacement stuff, as I need it.
Did I have any problems collecting on my claim? Yes! I filed the claim for the total loss of Painkiller on or about May 5. The next week an insurance investigator from Tampa, Florida - who wanted to interview me over the telephone and tape record it - contacted me. Since I was traveling to Clearwater, Florida, the following week to meet with the Coast Guard air crew that had rescued me, I suggested that the investigator interview me in person the following week. We accomplished the taped interview on May 18, 2000. Two weeks later, the investigator requested I file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the Coast Guard, as his superiors wanted to have a copy of the radio calls between the aircraft and the Rescue Coordination Center to complete their file. I sped up the process by asking the Coast Guard to fax a copy of the FOIA response directly to the insurance investigator, thus avoiding a week of mailing the data back and forth.
Then I simply had to sit back and wait for the checks to arrive. And wait we did. Mr. Fowler had anticipated closing out my case within 60 days. I naively hoped to have it completed in 45 days.
In early June, I went to California to give my daughter a hug after the incident and to visit friends. A good friend of mine who is both an attorney and a retired banker asked me whom I was insured with. When I told him the company was part of the Lloyds Group of London, he said, "Good luck in getting a check. They are terrible at letting the money go. Let me know if you need help." I advised him that I had just completed the last task requested by the insurance investigator, and that the investigator was recommending a rapid payment. My friend again said, "Well, good luck, we'll see."
In mid June, my wife and I moved from Virginia to Georgia. I immediately notified Mr. Fowler of the new address and requested that he notify London so they could mail the check to the new address. Apparently London was interested in learning whether Jane and I had split up, and if so, how much should each of the individual checks be made for. I informed Mr. Fowler that he should inform London: 1) Had we split up, it was none of their business, 2) I believed that the request was simply a delaying tactic by London to slow payment, and 3) That our move to Georgia was coincidental.
After weekly calls to Bill Fowler, we were finally advised that the checks would arrive somewhere around July 20. Friday, July 21, the checks did arrive at Fowler's office in California - instead of at my home and at the bank that held the boat mortgage. Fowler hand-delivered the check to the bank in California and express mailed our check to us in Georgia. My wife deposited the check on July 25, 2000.
On August 14 - after checking with my bank on a daily basis to see if the check from London had cleared - I called London and spoke to the proverbial horse's mouth. What I learned was when the U.S. banks presented the checks for payments, the banks couldn't collect because the checks had been marked, "Payable in United Kingdom". Someone informed the insurance company in London that the checks were no good because of the 'Payable in United Kingdom' phrase, and had the checks cancelled.
The horse's mouth informed me the checks were wire transferred to my bank in California on August 14 to pay off the mortgage. Also on the 14th, I gave them the wire transfer information needed to wire transfer my bank the funds they owed me. The money arrived in my bank account on August 15 - 103 days after I filed the claim. It took longer to pay the claim than it did to sail from San Francisco to Cartagena, Colombia - including all the stops we made along the way!
Lessons learned: 1) Try to find a U.S. insurance company to deal with. It may be hard to locate one, but that's what I'm going to do on when I take my next boat out of the U.S. 2) Spend time determining your insurance needs. My personal property loss was at least 15 times the amount I was insured for - a major oversight. 3) Plan for the worst, hope for the best, be well-equipped for self preservation - but still have as much fun as you possibly can.
Two other items. In response to Norman and Ken Andersen of 'Grateful Sailor', based on the 15-foot seas, I'm not sure we would have had much luck deploying a collision mat. We had a hard enough time keeping the boat DDW as the bilge filled up and the maneuvering characteristics of the boat suffered from the added weight. But who knows, the mat might have extended our float time, had we been able to deploy it. Second, many people have said they are now doing abandon ship drills and thinking through what they would do if something catastrophic happened to their boat. That's a positive outcome of our experience.
Former Owner of 'Painkiller'
HER FAVORITE WHEN DAD TOOK HER SAILING
Those of you in Northern California may want to keep an eye out for the arrival of a great wooden boat that left the Bay years ago to battle the best big sailboats of the time. I'm referring to the S&S-designed 65-foot cutter 'Orient', which was built in '52. Veteran sailors will recall that famous Barient winch company got its name by combining parts of the names of the owner's great yachts - 'Bar(una)' and '(Or)ient'.
I'm a former Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay sailor, who used to own the Tatoosh 51 'Seeker' and the MacGregor/Wylie 65 'Phoenix', but for the last several years have been cruising a Choy/Morrelli 70-foot catamaran 'Huma-Huma'. I learned about Orient because she and my cat were recently hauled out at Channel Islands Boatyard in Oxnard. While my boat was just getting a bottom job, 'Orient' was just finishing up a two-year restoration project for Kathy Roche of Santa Barbara.
The way I understand it, the classic 'Orient' had been slipping into dismal condition in San Diego about eight years ago when Roche learned that she was for sale from a tiny ad in a magazine. What would induce her to buy and restore such a yacht? During her pre-teen years, Kathy's father would take her sailing on the family schooner out of Los Angeles, and when he did, she always thought 'Orient' was the coolest boat in the racing fleet. So although not a particularly active sailor in her adulthood, she couldn't let the opportunity to own and restore her childhood favorite slip by. A combination of the woman's fine taste and the meticulous work of the Channel Islands Boat Yard have resulted in near perfection. Orient is a 'must see'.
Having now gotten several years of ocean sailing on 'Huma-Huma' - it's Hawaiian for triggerfish - I have to say that I've become a believer in big cats. While we usually make the cruise to Mexico without company, the timing looks right for us to join the Ha-Ha, so we're pretty sure we'll be there.
Dave - We learned a little more about
'Orient' from Lonne of the Channel Islands Boat Yard. The boat
was built in the Orient in '52, with Olin Stephens on site and
supervising construction for a year. She was the last out of office
boat S&S did for many years. After being owned by a series
of sailors, some good and some bad, she became the main prop in
the B movie, 'The Lucky Lady', starring Burt Reynolds and Liza
Minnelli. In the process, the original S&S designed cabin
house was bastardized for a film Leonard Maltin summarized as
follows: "The star trio of Liza Minnelli, Burt Reynolds and
Gene Hackman make an engaging team as amateur rum-runners in the
1930s who practice a menage-à-trois after business hours,
but the script goes astray and drags along to a limp, hastily
refilmed conclusion. An unfortunate waste of talent."
Worse still, after the movie was over, the once grand yacht was raffled off as part of a Kool cigarettes ad campaign on television. As you might suspect, her raffle-winning owner didn't have the means or knowledge to maintain her.
A woman of means, Roche purchased the abused yacht for nostalgia's sake - and soon really took to sailing. She has since become a member of both the Santa Barbara and St. Francis YCs. Although the boat's home is in Santa Barbara, before she returns to her berth after her two-year absence, she'll be paying a visit to San Francisco. In fact, she should be up here by the first of September. Roche is expected to take a number of 'Orient's former crew out on sails, and hopes to share the Bay with some of her old rivals. We wouldn't be surprised if Paul and Chrissy Kaplan don't join her with their schooner 'Santana'. It's a great story for all who love classic yachts - and that includes just about all of us.
There's also a little history behind 'Huma-Huma'. She was built by Dencho in Long Beach for one of the guys who struck it rich when the surf clothing craze swept the country. He took her on surf trips to Mexico and across the Pacific to Thailand. After many years in Thailand, the U.S. government seized her and put her up for auction in Asia. Crowe - whom Sea of Cortez Sailing Week vets may remember from the mid-'80s in Mexico - put in the winning bid.
A ROWDY HISTORY
For the past year, I have been working seven days a week rebuilding 'Rowdy', a 60-foot Herreshoff New York 40 that was built in 1916. It is a major rebuild. She has a new ballast keel, all new floors, 90% new laminate frames, all new deck beams, and a new horn timber and bow stem. Twenty-five percent of the planking has been replaced and there's another 25% to go. She will also have new decks, new engine - and so on and so forth.
'Rowdy' is a classic racing/cruising flush deck gaff-rigged sloop that was designed by the legendary Nathanial Herreshoff. She was built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in Bristol, Rhode Island. She's 59 feet long and has a beam of a little over 14 feet. Between 1916 and 1917, approximately 14 of these New York 40s were built for members of the New York YC. The design is 40 feet on the waterline, thus the New York 40 class designation.
The New York 40s were the hottest racing class of their time. They were called the 'Fighting Forties' when they were raced, and the 'Roaring Forties' for the post race parties. Many of them were owned by the most famous yachtsmen of their day, and they won numerous races - including the 1924 and 1928 Bermuda races. Production came to a halt in 1917 with the onset of World War I. It's believed that only three or four examples of the design still exist.
Along with the rebuilding of 'Rowdy', I'm hoping to rebuild her personal history and put it in book form for all to share. I have done some preliminary research, and through Lloyd's and other sources have a fairly through chronology of owners' names and home towns. Mystic Seaport Museum has provided me with 36 great photos of 'Rowdy' taken in the '20s by Morris Rosenfeld. MIT, which archives all of the Herreshoff plans, has provided me with numerous plans for the New York 40s. The Herreshoff Museum has given me a copy of the Herreshoff ledger showing the original order for 'Rowdy'.
What I'm really after now is help in learning more about 'Rowdy's personal life story. Who was Holland S. Duell, her original owner, and what did he do for a living? Who was he married to? Did he cruise 'Rowdy' or just race her? I would love to get in touch with previous owners and surviving relatives of previous owners to get their stories. I'm also looking for old photos of the boat and people who sailed on her. Is there a ship's log anywhere? Are there any pictures of her being built? How did she get from the East Coast to the West Coast?
Below are the vital stats that I have been able to dig up about her previous owners: 1916-1935, Holland S. Duell, Milton Point, NY; 1936-1940, Emilie Duell, Larchmont, NY; 1941, Frank Linden, City Island, NY; 1942-1947, Kenneth W. Martin, New York, NY; 1948-1950, Frank Zima, Bridgeport, CT (gas engine installed); 1951-1952, Dr. Chaignon Brown, Detroit, MI; 1956-1958, Donald D. Major, Detroit, MI; 1959-1967, Aurelia F. Wigle, Detroit, MI; 1968-1972, Unknown; 1980-1982, Marvin and Velma C. Stokoe, Oroville, CA; 1982-1992, Gerry Purcell, Marina del Rey, CA; 1998, Christy P. Baxter, La Canada, CA; 1998, Blue Whale Sailing School, Santa Barbara, CA; 1998 to present, Chris Madsen, Santa Barbara, CA. If anyone has any further information, I'd love to hear from them.
SMOKES IN THE WATER
In the past, I was a professional whitewater rafting guide, and really enjoy action on the water. In my guiding days, we were extremely conscious of our impact - as recreational users - on the waterways. Even when out with friends, some of whom were surly young whitewater kayakers, there was always a respect for our surroundings. We were lucky to have such a wonderful resource, and enjoyed the natural beauty.
I'm a new sailor in the Bay Area, and am having a great time. Since moving here, I've done some weekend regattas, and some daysailing with my wife. On my second race, one of the members of our crew was a smoker. Much to my surprise, he tossed his stogie into the Bay when he was done with it. I was sure this was an isolated incident, so I didn't say anything. Then it happened again on a different boat. And then a sailing instructor tossed his cigs into the water.
I do not understand this lack of concern for the Bay, and the life in and around it. This area is already so overused that we should be extremely conscious of our daily impact. It is easy to think, "Well, there is so much pollution already that this does not matter." That could be true. That definitely will be true if we are not all careful with our actions.
I know we are out there because we love the water, the feel of the breeze, the camaraderie, and the freedom. I sometimes get sad about the incredible amount of pollution that the Bay has to deal with. I can't stop it all, but I can make a choice about where I place garbage that is in my own hand. I do not choose to throw it in the water.
Geoff - Even though San Francisco Bay
is the sewer for much of what Northern Californians consume, and
even though stogies are organic, we think most sailors would agree
with your sentiment. We know that many - including those that
smoke - were grossed out when Raoul Gardini of Italy was often
seen flicking cigarette butts into the ocean while watching 'Il
Moro' compete for the America's Cup in San Diego.
Of course, keeping the Bay clean is an uphill struggle with both many successes and many lapses. Lots of waterfront parks, for example, now provide poop bags for dogs, which is really a great thing. On the other hand, there are dog owners who bring battalions of canines down to Sausalito's Schoonmaker Beach - despite the fact it's clearly posted that dogs are prohibited - and allow them to poop and pee to their hearts delight among the babies and other sunbathing humans.
THE CAPE COD DINING SOCIETY
During the month of February, we were at the Pedro Miguel Boat Club, which is inside the Panama Canal. While there, we encountered something we had never seen in all our years of boating on the West Coast - really snobby yachtie families! We've spent the last four years cruising from California down through Mexico and Central America. Normally, we were surrounded by gregarious, happy and genuinely helpful cruisers - mostly from the West Coast of the U. S. and Canada. The vast majority of these meant it when they said 'Good morning'. They were down to earth, easy to talk to, and easy to like.
But we got our shock at the Pedro Miguel! Expensive yachts, most of them from the East Coast, pulled in. These folks were a special breed, indeed. They clustered together, and excluded others when eating or touring. You felt lucky when they acknowledged your presence at all! And when they wanted help, they turned on the charm - sort of like used car sales people. Most cruisers at the Pedro Miguel saw through this, and so the snobs often went with no help for things like line-handling - even from their own, self-serving group, who found reasons to be 'too busy'.
And it was almost comical to see the snobs' children try to mimic the behavior of their parents, as they never greeted outsiders, and kept their little noses in the air as they passed you. It was somewhat sad, however, because these kids didn't seem particularly happy. We saw none of the free, friendly and happy play West Coast children had exhibited in Mexico, for example.
We just received a letter from a close cruising friend who is in Papeete. He was disappointed to arrive there and run into East Coast snobs again! They are still clustering together, probably dining in their tight little group, looking for someone to exclude. What a bunch of jerks! We had a name for them at Pedro Miguel: "The Cape Cod Dining Society."
Can we cordon these guys off to some appropriate part of the cruising world? It certainly would make life more pleasant for the rest of us to be without this country club crowd.
Fred - As everyone knows, there are four keys to true happiness: 1) Good health; 2) Family and friends; 3) A purpose in life; and 4) Enough money to buy a decent boat and travel a little. Most everything else - and this would include too much money and too high an opinion of oneself - is more than most mortals can handle. So concentrate on the important things in life and wish the best for everyone. If the snobs become more than you can abide, you'll find that imitation is a wickedly effective equalizer.
A SURE WAY OF HAVING TO PAY SALES TAX
I just wanted to add a little to your answer to Larry Templeton of 'Callipygian', who asked if there were ways to avoid having to pay California sales/use tax on boat purchases. California's Board of Equalization has a very useful Web site at http://www.boe.ca.gov/ where people can download various publications - i.e. numbers 40, 52, 61, 79 - that deal with vessel sales/use taxes. They are also available by phone at (800) 400-7115. Questions can also be addressed to the Consumer Use Tax Section at (916) 445-9524.
A key to tax exemption is that the vessel actually be used prior to coming into the state. Taking offshore delivery and then leaving the boat on the hard or at a marina in Oregon or Mexico is a sure way of having to pay the sales/use tax. In addition, preparation and transport time also does not count toward the 90 days.
P.S. Of course powerboaters read 'Latitude 38'. We don't get it just for the pictures.
Jim - Thanks for the compliment - and your clarifications on the sales/use tax. What you're saying is exactly true. And you can imagine the glee a Board of Equalization employee might feel being able to deny a $20,000 tax exemption because somebody took their boat to the '90-Day Yacht Club' in Ensenada and just let it sit there for three months.
Virginia and I have been planning our cruise for a long time, both readying our boat for three years and supporting our kids in college. In addition, Virginia enrolled in a Spanish class, so one of us can try to communicate when we arrive in Mexico. As for me, I started studying to get my ham license.
Why a ham license in an Internet filled world? Just that! A ham can send data from our laptop to you. Getting a license required passing a test and a code test, however, and I'm known for being a slow learner. Nontheless, I went to the used bookstore and got a copy of 'How to Learn Morse Code on Tape', complete with a study book. So when I wasn't totally exhausted from the rest of my schedule, I'd beep, beep away. Months passed by, but slowly I began to catch on. The tape kept telling me over and over that "even 10-year-olds can learn." True, there were ham classes - even marine ham classes at my marina - but invariably they were on the weekends when Virginia's big art and craft shows were held, so I was on my own.
Another problem: as the number of hams diminishes, so does the number of available test facilitators. Nonetheless, in mid- April, I chose July 15 as my test day and stayed home for two days before the test to study on my computer. Super nervous and tense, I began to feel empathy for my daugher Olivia, who had just finished a zillion tests as a senior in high school. On the morning of the test, I arrived at the Stockton site an hour early. I had been well prepared by the great programs on the web, but it was those dit-dahs that were notoriously tough. I missed several letters, but kept getting enough bits and pieces to answer the questions that are at the end of the code exam.
It was such a happy moment for me when I found out that I had passed! I'd failed my classes and dropped out of college 35 years before, so this was the first test I'd passed since high school! But now I'm KG6QL, and hams will soon be hearing me on the airwaves.
By the way, it's possible to get a ham license without taking the code test, but I wanted to be able to use all the frequencies that come with passing the five WPM test.
Robert (Cap't Rob) Gleser
'Harmony', Freeport 41
Robert - Congratulations on hanging in there. But sometimes it's toughest if you do it alone. Don Melcher of H.F. Radio and friends did a Ham School in July and had the following to report: "As usual, a good time was had by all. Forty people went out for the zero to General Class; 38 passed and two missed the code. Five went for Technician-General upgrade; all but one passed and he admitted that he hadn't studied the code. So 45 out of 45 passed the written, and 42 out of 45 passed the code. We'll probably have another class again during Sail Expo in Oakland, and then another in July."
Your attitude about mordida is typical gringo. I've trailered and boated in and out of Baja for longer than I care to admit, and I find one constant, "Gringos are loud and condescending" - behavior which magazines such as 'Latitude' generally promote. For example, the Baja Ha-Ha finishes with loud partying, drinking and the famous wet T-shirt and buns contest. With your 20 years of Mexican experience, did it occur to you that such activity is offensive to Mexicans - including those in Baja, who are mostly conservative and religious?
In the last four years I, or members of my family, have been stopped in Tijuana, Rosarita, Ensenada and Constitution City by police. Each time it was for the purpose of extracting mordida, and each time - except the one in Ensenada, when the police were told that we would follow them to the police station, as the law requires - they backed off. The one case that they didn't involved a friend who was told to follow the police car that turned into an alley off the main street. The two police officers came back to the car and told us that "we will settle it here". The reason this is still going on is because people like you and other rich gringos have no interest in Mexico other than what you can take from it. You proscribe to the "here's 20 bucks, now leave me alone, I'm an American" attitude that has created the concept of the ugly American around the world.
I wonder, is it all right then to bribe U.S. police officers? What would you say if a San Francisco traffic officer asked for $100 to 'take care of your ticket'. Would you 'tip' him with another hundred? Should we consider that part of his "compensation package" and "money well spent?" I think you couldn't get to a phone fast enough to complain. Baja, in particular, has been trying to professionalize law enforcement - including prohibiting mordida. In case you're not aware, to take or give bribes in all of Mexico is a felony. When you are confronted, unless you are threatened, do not comply. Ask to be taken to the police station and pay your fine. Report officers who ask for bribes to the Tourist Secretariate in Ensenada or Tijuana. Report them, as that's what you would do in the U.S. Treat the Mexican people like people, not poor beggars, for they don't like rudeness or mordida either. All they ask is to be treatedly fairly.
By the way, mordida has nothing to do with 'charm' in Mexico - or anywhere else in the world.
Ensenada, Baja California
Dean - First, we need to correct a major
error on your part. There hasn't been any unusually loud partying,
excessive drinking, or "famous" wet T-shirt and buns
contests at the beginning, middle or end of any of the Ha-Ha's.
In fact, there are over 2,000 witnesses to dispute your baseless
claim. All the Ha-Ha's have been G-rated and, in his capacity
as the Grand Poobah, the Wanderer will do everything in his power
to keep them that way. In fact, on numerous occasions the Poobah
has been complimented on the behavior of the fleet - by participants
who had vowed to drop out at the first instance of 'frat party'
behavior. Prior to the start of each Ha-Ha, all participants are
instructed that the places to get wild and crazy are the Gigglin'
Marlin and Squid Roe - where such behavior is both encouraged
and regulated - after the event in Cabo.
(Maybe you're confused and thinking of the wet T-shirt and other contests at the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week. We don't know if they still do that, but they were always deliberately held at Caleta Partida, 25 miles across the water from the nearest Mexican eyes that might have been offended.)
Secondly, it's nonsense to accuse the victims of mordida - usually newly arrived foreign visitors who speak little Spanish and are unfamiliar with local laws and customs - for its very existence. Unlike bribing the police in San Francisco, mordida has been a part of Mexican culture for more than 100 years, and it will continue to be until the Mexican government decides - by relentlessly prosecuting perpetrators - to stop it. Now that the PRI has lost the election, perhaps newly elected President Fox will be the one to do the job.
Unlike you, we've only been asked to pay a traffic fine once, and that was after we had indeed "broken all the laws". Your criticism notwithstanding, we continue to believe it was money well spent and, like it or not, remember the incident with some fondness. Nonetheless, if and when the Mexican government decides they want to stop 'the bite', we'll gladly support them. But the Mexican government, not visiting victims, must lead the way.
As for your accusation that we have no interest but in what we can take from Mexico, we'll dismiss it as the rambling of a grump who has no knowledge on which to cast such a judgement.
BANDITO IN UNIFORM
Every Mexican port charges vessels a fee based on the tonnage - 1.42 pesos per ton. The fee is the same in all the Mexican ports. If a vessel checks in on a weekend or before or after closing hours, they get charged an extra fee for overtime. The fee has to be paid directly to a bank or to the API (Administracion Portuaria Integral, which I believe only exists in Baja). By law, the Port Captain cannot accept the money.
Well, we pulled into Huatulco in southern Mexico on a Friday afternoon, and since the Port Captain's office is usually closed on weekends, we planned on checking in on Monday. This is normal procedure in Mexico. But Hipolito Gomez Pina, First Officer of the Capitania de Puerto Office in Huatulco, approached us at 8:30 am on Saturday and told us to come to his office and check in. It was obvious that he was in a big hurry to assess the port fee. We had been warned about him, however, we still ended up overpaying.
As Hipolito presented me the bill - which was just scribbled on a piece of paper - I asked him where the bank was so that I could pay. He said there was no bank, that we had to pay him. He charged me 217.54 pesos, while our buddyboat was charged 250 pesos. (The exchange rate is about nine pesos to the dollar.) When I asked for a receipt, Hipolito told me to pick it up on Monday. When we showed up on Monday, he told us to pick it up when we were leaving. He gave the same receipt runaround to many other cruisers while we were there, and only one or two people got them. One boat was charged 250 pesos in port fees, and they never even dropped the hook, as the skipper was dropped off to check in and check out, and then they left.
I wanted to be sure I was right about the port fees, so I sent an email to the Port Captain back in Z-town. I did this not once, but twice, to verify that my information was correct. The Port Captain in Z-town concurred that fees were the same in all Mexican ports. But I guess this was stirring up a can of worms, because the word was soon out that I was inquiring about Port Captain activities in Huatulco. But I wasn't the only one, as several radio nets were reporting that the Huatulco Port Captain was charging 10 times the port fees he should have been. Thanks to the stink raised on the radio nets and by me, most cruisers disputed the fees Hipolito tried to charge them - and were then assessed the proper amount.
One of our friends was called into the Port Captain's office after he'd been seen with me, and Hipolito asked him if I had complained about him. Our friend assured him that problems at the Huatulco Port Captain's office were common knowledge to cruisers. That wasn't enough for Hipolito, who told him to bring me into his office as well. Hipolito wanted to know what my problem was. I told him that I was a bit upset over the amount we paid, and the fact that some boats only paid the regular fee while others had to pay more. I also told him that port fees in Mexico were the same everywhere and the money was supposed to be paid to the bank.
Hipolito then took out his black book and showed me a list with the 1.42 pesos per ton fee - and then showed me another list that indicated the fee should be 128 pesos per ton for boats 1-20 tons, and 150 pesos per ton for boats between 20 and 100 tons. Then he punched a few numbers into his calculator and said my fee should have been 157 pesos. As I mentioned, we'd actually had to pay 217 pesos. Then I noticed he'd charged us as though our boat was between 20-100 tons, which was wrong, and meant he overcharged us. Hipolito then told us that the extra was for overtime charges. I have no argument with overtime charges - except that the money has to be paid to a bank rather than to him.
Hipolito also claimed that Huatulco is a commercial port - which shouldn't make any difference, since the fees should all be the same. But Hipolito tries to charge all the boats the 1.42 pesos/ton - plus an extra fee that's approximately 10 times the fee for the tonnage! He's been doing this for years and has never issued receipts. Another cruiser who had insisted on a receipt paid 218 pesos. But when he looked on his file on the Port Captain's desk, he saw a bank receipt for only 24 pesos!
The Port Captain also had all of us fill out a bogus questionnaire about how many people our boat sleeps, the freeboard, the serial number, the communication systems and so forth. Nothing was asked about safety equipment. No other Port Captain has asked for this information. Hipolito's normal method is to read the answers to the questionnaire, start punching numbers into his calculator, and come up with a port fee - which, as I said, is normally 10 times what it should be. I think he uses the questionnaire to try to guess how much money a cruiser can afford or is willing to pay.
When we decided to leave, we checked out at the Port Captain's office with four other boats. Boy, did I get a killer look from Hipolito! Two of us had already paid the fee, but three hadn't because they had questioned it on their arrival. Hipolito took me outside and asked me, please, no more problems. I guess I had killed his little money-making business - at least for a while. Later my friend told me that Hipolito had asked him to also keep things quiet, and told him that he'd like to be friends with me. What does that tell you? Anyway, two of the three who hadn't paid yet, paid the proper amount - and to the bank, no less! The remaining one received two bank slips, one for the proper amount and one for overtime - which was 420 pesos! His boat is only 10 tons, so his fee should have been around 140 pesos. Boy, did he get hammered! Unfortunately, he didn't say anything and paid the amount.
So when you come into Huatulco to check in, make sure you do it during a weekday between 0800 - 1500 - and insist that you pay the port fees to the bank. One of our friends was asked if he knew that he had to pay a port fee. He said he did - and then produced his last receipt from Acapulco, which was for 26 pesos. Hipolito didn't say a word, and told him to pay 26 pesos when he left.
So be prepared and don't let Hipolito intimidate you. If you insist that it's against the law to pay the money to the Port Captain, he'll back off. But frankly, I'm a bit upset at all the cruisers who let him get away with this for so long. When we got here, I asked a few to pull together and approach Hipolito, but they came up with all kinds of excuses: he might not give you the zarpe to leave the country; he might send the navy after us. Well, if you don't complain, you have to pay - and so will all the others, over and over. So stand up for what's right and fight Hipolito, as there is nothing he can do to you. Mexico is trying to eliminate the corruption, and needs your help. For Mexico's sake, I hope this guy will be taken care of later, as I'm sending a copy of this letter to the Port Captain authorities.
By the way, in more than two years of cruising in Mexico, Hipolito was the only corrupt Port Captain we ran into.
Sid and Manuela Olshefski
Sid & Manuela - Thanks for the heads
up. However, the concept of foreign visitors manning the frontlines
in the battle to reverse culturally ingrained corruption is not
something we feel comfortable recommending. Situations vary dramatically
with the times and the country. To say that port captains and
other officials "can't do anything" to people who complain
is simply incorrect. We know of vengeful port captains who have
done everything from causing frustrating delays, to losing boat
documents, to detaining boats on trumped up charges. We're not
saying that cruisers shouldn't stand up to requests for bribes
and corruption, but rather they need to evaluate each situation
as it occurs. In the previous lett-er, for example, even the holier-than-thou
long time Mexico vet Mr. LaChappelle admits that he and his friends
still cough up the mordida 20% of the time.
Our general advice on mordida in Mexico and elsewhere is pretty much the same as advocated in the Lonely Planet Guides: Politely question the request, resist as much as you feel is safe, and no matter what the outcome, report the incident to the tourism authority.
We're trying to contact Cascade Yachts. Can you tell us how to contact them?
Jerry - Cascade, which has been building figerglass boats since '54 - can be reached at (503) 287-5794 or www.cascade-yachts.com.
My partner, Glenn, and I are leaving for Mexico and beyond next month, I thought regalvanizing our 350 feet of 3/8-inch chain and 45-lb. CQR was in order. While we were hauled out at Svendsen's, they recommended Pacific Galvanizing in Oakland, so we wrestled the chain and anchor into the pickup bed and drove it over.
Mike, the manager at Pacific Galvanizing, was quite helpful, taking the time to explain the process, including the very reasonable costs and turnaround time. The anchor and chain turned out beautiful! We couldn't even tell one end of the chain from the other - and one end had been rusting at the bottom of the chain locker for 15 years. Pacific Galvanizing can be contacted at (510) 261-7331.
'Endeavour', Hans Christian 38
Paul - Mike at Pacific Galvanizing told us they do most of their work for PG&E and on underground steel structures. But he said they get spurts of requests to regalvanize anchor chains. They charge 39 cents/lb. Over the years, several cruisers have claimed that regalvanized chain actually lasts longer than the original galvanization because it has a rougher surface to adhere to. Mike said that might be true, but he couldn't vouch for it.
LOOKING TO BUY A BOAT
Could you send my email address - or forward this - to Sandy Smith, Vancouver Island, who is looking to buy her own boat and reported her experiences looking for a crew position on the Ha-Ha? I'm looking to jointly own a boat in the area.
hammond at colorado.edu
Anne - We're don't provide email addresses or have the time to forward mail, but we'll print your address in case Sandy wants to respond.
LEAVE THE MOTOR IN OR OUT?
I'm wondering about your response to the June letter by Jim and Jeanette of 'Dancer' about the problem with their Honda four-stroke outboard. Could it be due to overheating caused by corrosion in the thermostat area? I have a similar Honda and have been told to watch the flow of the cooling water. If it chokes off, I'm told it must be cleaned out or else!
I'm concerned about the problem because my Honda was acting up this spring while in the Sea of Cortez. I've had it gone through, but sure would like to know if I'm in for problems, as I'll be back in the Sea again this winter. As you know, it's a mighty big area without many places that offer Honda outboard repair.
Finally, nobody has been able to tell me which is best, to leave the motor in the water or take it out?
Don - We're not good at outboard repair
through the mail, but we think we can answer a couple of your
questions. First, if you don't see cooling water coming out of
your engine - inboard or outboard - you need to shut it down immediately
or it will indeed be ruined. Secondly, when not in use it's best
to have your outboard out of the water, away from the corrosive
effects of saltwater.
NOBODY WAS ON DECK
On July 17, 'Spring Moon', my Mariner 31, was struck by a Seattle-based schooner. At the time, my boat was becalmed outside of Bud Inlet on Puget Sound, and the schooner was travelling at speed with nobody on deck. By some miracle, the only damage was a ruined whisker stay turnbuckle and a chip in the bowsprit. Had the schooner struck us amidships, it would have certainly ruined my boat and possibly sunk her. Worse still, there were two children down below on the starboard side who could have been killed.
It happened after the schooner came out of Bud Inlet and did a quick tour of Boston Harbor - at which point the boat was set on a course directly towards Spring Moon. I figured the skipper was just going to swing by for a look and to say 'hello', as we both have classic-looking boats. But apparently the skipper went below for about a half an hour, as the schooner's course didn't change between the time she left Boston Harbor and the time she struck us.
As the schooner approached, I became more and more concerned, as I couldn't see anyone at the helm. At this point I should have started the engine and gotten out of the way, but I was like a deer in the headlights. I couldn't believe that the other boat would just continue steaming towards us. All I seemed to think of was jumping up and down and yelling 'ahoy!' The skipper of the schooner came on deck just as his vessel struck mine, and muttered something like, "If you weren't just sitting in the middle of . . . "
I cannot describe fully the feeling of watching a 14-ton steel boat bearing down on me with nobody on deck. Suffice it to say, it still haunts me - as does the image of what could have happened. After 50,000 miles of sailing, this was a lesson to me. I will never again assume that there is someone on the deck of an approaching vessel. So let your readers beware.
Steve - We decided to delete the name of the schooner as we had no way to get his side of the story - and there always seems to be another side. Frankly, we always sail with the assumption that all other boats are being skippered by maniacs intent on trying to run us down - so we rarely get surprised. And on the few occasions we have been surprised, we've cut loose with repeated blasts from the air horn that we keep near the helm. It would be nice if we could rely on the vigilance of others, but since we can't, we recommend this kind of 'defensive sailing' to everyone.
DIFFERENT STORES, DIFFERENT POLICIES
I recently read a newspaper article that talked about how rude people are in the Bay Area. Well, I would have to say that quite a few of them are in the marine industry. I recently moved here and purchased a boat, hoping to fix her up and go sailing. But having already met so many indifferent to downright rude people here, I'm planning on moving away.
What, for example, is wrong with the sales people at so many boating businesses? Here was one of my more memorable experiences: I needed some teak handrails, so I started calling around. The first place said they didn't carry any, but they could call their supplier in L.A. However, they couldn't call their supplier without my coming down to the store, and if I wanted them, I would have to pay when I ordered them! The next place said that they would give me the number to call, and then I would have to pay them to have them shipped up here. And if I didn't like them, I could only get store credit. I was completely baffled by these responses. They weren't even trying for my business. It was as if they knew that they were the only ones in town.
So I went out of town. I called Lou up at Whale Point Marine, and he said that he would help me. He told me that he'd call the supplier and give me all the information. Then I could order what I wanted, and pay for them when they arrived at his store. Wow! To think of all the frustration I suffered at places that didn't even want my business!
Those other two places lost a lot of business - because as anyone who has ever worked on a boat knows - something else always goes wrong, and the price always increases. I may not bring big business, but hopefully that won't matter in the way I'm treated.
About To Leave Town
Brian - Sometimes it's helpful to walk
in another person's Topsiders for awhile. Suppose you operated
a retail store - any kind of retail store - and customers made
all kinds of special orders. Of the ones that did, 50% actually
picked their orders up and paid for them, while the other 50%
- let's call them the rude ones - left you with unusual stock
that was likely to idle on your shelves for a long time. As a
result, you the business owner had to pay for the rudeness of
the customers, either in your company's bottom line, or by having
to charge your good customers higher prices. Trust us, if everybody
picked up their special orders from retailers, none of them would
ever require that they be paid for up front.
Naturally, different businesses have different policies depending on the stuff they sell and the kind of customers they have. But trust us, businesses that stay in business do all they can to make their customers happy - and oddly enough, sometimes that means telling some folks they have to pay in advance for special orders.
My wife and I spent 10 years aboard our Hans Christian 33 'Tharyar', departing San Diego in December of '89, and selling our boat in Annapolis last April after 10 years of cruising.
We spent nine months of that time - between '94 and '95 - in Cartagena, Colombia, where we became very good friends with Norm Bennett of Club Nautico. We only recently heard that Norm had become a 'guest' of the Colombian government for more than a year. One old cruising pal said that Norm's health had taken a turn for the worse during the incarceration. Have you heard anything about his condition or situation, and do you know if there is anything any of us old farts can do to help him out? He sure helped out a lot of us in his day.
Michael - After more than a year in dreadful
prisons and medical facilities - for what Bennett claims, and
many others believe, were trumped up charges - he was at least
temporarily released. But the experience took a heavy toll on
his health, and he's pretty much dropped out of sight at least
for the present. Check out the June Sightings for a more detailed
In the mid-dle of August, Juana Perea - a native of Colombia who is married to American Larry Hacker, and who together run The Verge maritime agency at Club Nautico - reported that "Norm remains away from the club and there have been no new events in regard to the charges against him."
PET HELD HOSTAGE
'Tis I, state of Hawaii prisoner #85132. I'm better known as Snowball, the fluffy mascot of 'El Tiburon'. I was not able to give my full interview as promised when we arrived in Hawaii at the end of the West Marine Pacific Cup, as the Kitty Police were on the dock waiting for me to arrive. It was comforting to have all my many supporters boo the police off the dock. Thank you!
Nonetheless, the Kitty Police immediately whisked me away to the local prison. They treated me exceptionally well, however, and I had a wonderful 5' by 10' fully covered 'hotel room' complete with tradewind ventilation and a small sunny view of other cats. The local prison wardens were also nice and accommodate approximately 4,000 other family members - aka prisoners - each year. You should see the flood of cars and family during visitation day.
am currently on my way back to San Francisco, and should be having a halfway party with my Mom and Dad on Thursday the 17th. The one thing I've learned is that I can demand food on each watch - and they give it to me! He, he, ha, ha! If I'm not eating, I'm sleeping. Ah, to be me! This is the good life - although I will need to go on vacation when I get back so I can get back into the routine of sleeping 23 1/2 hours a day.
Well, I have to go, as it's time to demand more food and then take another nap.
Snowball, former Prisoner #85132
'El Tiburon', Passport 42
CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SAILOR
Years ago we had a big dream - exploring the South Pacific in the same fashion the early explorers did. So we sold our house and furniture, bought 'Nausikaa III', a wonderful 57' cruising ketch, and set out on a three-year expedition through the South Pacific. You probably remember us now, as we're the ones that didn't know how to sail. But it was sink or swim, so we learned fast!
We departed Vancouver, British Columbia - with a stack of how-to-sail and how-to-navigate books by our side - and our eight-month old son Trevor. Our second son, Ryan, was born in Australia along the way. Living out the dream we had wanted so badly gave us the strength we needed to pull through our challenges of inexperience, storms and limited finances that we faced during the three years. Many 'Latitude' readers probably followed our story as it unfolded. For those who haven't, they can read it in 'The Unsinkable Spirit, Episode I - In search of Love, Adventure and Riches.'
Since we wanted to continue living our life at sea, but needed to make a living, we eventually turned our lifestyle into our livelihood by starting a sailing charter business in the Caribbean. We continued to educate and raise our two sons on board while running our charters - which initially was a hard sell with the charter brokers. But as our business grew, we purchased and restored two 100-foot traditional wooden sailing ships, the 'Latina' and 'Maverick', and business flourished. We loved living and sailing in the beautiful Caribbean, as even the best articles in sailing magazines and cruising guides can't give it justice. But with the good came bad. Like Californians who enjoy where they live but have earthquakes to contend with, we forever battled a yearly onslaught of hurricanes.
One day everything we had worked for was wiped out from under us. In the short time it took a devastating hurricane to pass through the Caribbean, both our ships had sunk into the depths of the ocean. We were heart-broken, as everything we possessed was gone. It was not only our material loss that was so upsetting, but also the loss of our beloved ships we had restored and loved so much. I was tempted to drown myself in self-pity, but instead I made a conscious decision to set new goals much higher than ever before, to challenge my abilities to new heights. I decided to help other people and businesses achieve success by becoming a professional motivational and inspirational speaker and author.
Now I inspire and motivate people by using my personal stories of sailing thousands of miles as metaphors for 360 degree success in business, personal and spiritual life. I tell about physically fighting and surviving the hurricane, and what motivated me to pick up the pieces and start over again. I use that story and others - for instance running out of drinking water while sailing in the South Pacific, or the shark that never said die - as powerful metaphors for leadership, working as a team, adapting to change, taking calculated risks, dealing with adversity and realizing success in their lives. Molded by our life's toughest adversity, the hurricane, Shirley and I created a team stronger than ever. That's when we immersed ourselves into authoring our own book, 'The Unsinkable Spirit'.
When I decided to become a professional speaker, Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of the best-selling 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' series, became my mentor. So now Shirley and I are collaborating with Mark and Jack Canfield on the new book 'Chicken Soup for the Mariner's Soul'. As such, we are compiling motivational and inspirational stories from the heart, relating to things that revolve around the sea and seafarers. We are looking for stories that touch the heart and penetrate the soul about romance, adventure, courage, determination, attitude, perspective, living your dream, love or overcoming adversity. If anybody has a story they'd like to contribute, check out our webpage at www.sailorssoul.com. Three hundred dollars will be paid for each story that is selected for publication.
Boris and Shirley King
North Vancouver, BC
In the November '99 issue, Mike and Joyce Creasy reported that while riding to a parachute sea anchor, they waltzed through 40 degrees each side of the wind in a moderate storm. Heavy loads damaged the attachments of the rode, and the rudder quadrant was broken. Several letters commenting on this event appeared in the December issue. It is apparent from this literature that the authors were not familiar with the series drogue, often called the Jordan series drogue.
I developed this drogue in conjunction with the Coast Guard. It is the first and only such device to be specifically designed for a 'worst case' breaking wave strike. Such a strike is described in Miles Smeeton's book 'Once Is Enough'. Modern engineering tools such as scale model testing in flow channels and breaking wave tanks, computer dynamic simulation, and laboratory testing for structural strength and durability were used in the development, as well as full scale testing using a 42-foot Coast Guard powerboat. The final design was tested in large breaking waves at the Coast Guard National Motor Lifeboat School in Ilwaco, Washington. This work is described in U.S. Coast Guard Report C.G.-D-20- 87, Investigation of the Use of Drogues to Improve the Safety of Sailing Yachts., U. S Dept. of Commerce Nat. Info. Service, Springfield, VA 22191 ($22).
The series drogue has now been at sea for over 12 years. At least 500 - and possibly over 1,000 - are in use all over the world. Many skippers have made their own, a tedious but not difficult job. The drogue has been deployed in many storms, including at least two of hurricane strength. The record has been flawless. No boat has suffered any damage, no crewman has been injured, and the drogue has been retrieved in the as launched condition. Every skipper has been satisfied with the performance. This conclusively puts to rest the old fear of being pooped when held stem to the waves. There are simple and sound engineering reasons for this most remarkable performance.
There is a growing recognition among those using the drogue that 'storm tactics' are no longer required. When the weather deteriorates to the point where useful progress is impossible or even uncomfortable, they deploy the drogue and retire to the cabin with the knowledge that they are protected from anything the sea can bring on. The boat rides easily with less than 10° of yaw, and with a drift rate of 1.5 knots. The drogue loads are low, about 15% of the design load. The design load is only approached in the rare event of a 'worst case' breaking wave strike capable of catapulting the boat ahead of the wave. In this event the drogue is designed to align the semi-airborne boat with the wave, decelerate the boat, and pull it through the breaking crest without exceeding the allowable load on the drogue or boat.
Books such as Cole's 'Heavy Weather Sailing' - a favorite of mine for many years - are actually no longer pertinent. Understandably, this thought is bitterly contested by a few experienced sailors who regret the loss of the need for sea lore, judgment, and skill in handling their vessels in bad conditions. I am an aeronautical engineer and view the drogue as similar in function to the ejection seat on a fighter aircraft - you pull the handle and sit back until it is all over.
I did not patent the drogue and have avoided having any financial interest in the manufacture or sale of the device. I have now been working on this subject for over 20 years. I continue to function as a technical center for receiving and disseminating information on service experience, and have communicated with over 300 skippers. I have a 12-minute Coast Guard video which I send free to any skipper who makes or buys a drogue and who expresses a technical interest in the development. A good website to obtain information on the drogue is acesails.com. I have no association with Ace.
In the course of this program, I have studied the history of sea anchors and drogues. A sea anchor is intuitively attractive. It brings to mind anchoring in a harbor, safe and secure. Sea anchors have been carried on some sailing yachts over a long period of time. I have not been able to find a single instance where they provided protection in a major storm, and many instances when they contributed to the loss of the vessel. We now know that the sea anchors used were much too small to pull the bow into the wind.
When mulithulls began to go to sea in the 1960s, a number were capsized in conditions where a monohull would be expected to survive. This led to experimentation with sea anchors. I believe that the Casanovas were one of the first to try the large aircraft surplus parachute. They found that the chute would hold the boat into the wind in moderate storm conditions with little yaw and would prevent capsize. The cyclic loads on the rode were very high but a solution was found by providing a long and stretchy rode to compensate for the relative motion between the immovable chute and the boat. A number of multihull skippers have successfully used the chute in moderate storms.
This led to attempts to use the chute on monohulls. However the situation here is very different. A monohull is directionally unstable when moving backward because the center of pressure of the underwater surface is behind the center of gravity. As any skipper knows, it is possible to run off before a storm - but it is not possible to run off backwards as the boat will yaw. There are two additional sources of instability. The center of pressure of the air forces on the topsides and rigging is ahead of the center of gravity. There is also a third and more complex dynamic instability. The last two instabilities result in the behavior observed when a monohull is anchored from the bow in protected water during a hurricane. "It is particularly unnerving to watch a yacht tacking back and forth on a mooring under bare poles and knocking flat at the end of each tack," reported one who watched a monohull during hurricane Bertha. If the boat had been anchored from the stern, it would ride with little yaw.
When riding to a parachute sea anchor, a monohull will yaw wildly. As the storm increased in severity, it would develop load sufficient to break the rode. A sea anchor does not provide safety in a survival storm.
Although a multihull is also unstable when moving backwards, it is less unstable than a monohull because it has less underwater surface aft. This moderate instability is overcome by the stabilizing effect of the wide bridle - 20 feet or more - and the combination is stable. Thus the boat will ride well in a moderate storm. However, the large chute is essentially immovable, and in a survival storm will develop loads sufficient to break the rode. At six knots, an 18 foot chute would develop a load of 30,000 lbs - if it didn't fail first. The series drogue would only have a load of 900 lbs. The series drogue will protect both the monohull and the multihull in a survival storm.
I would be glad to answer questions via email and to provide supporting documents where feasible.
Donald J. Jordan, Consulting Engineer
donaldjordan at worldnet.att net
DOWN IN MONTEREY - WHICH IS TOTALLY HIP
Cool Web site! But please advise your 'Lectronic Latitude and print 'Latitude' readers that Monterey is a great place to stop on the way to Southern California and Mexico. Bring your cat to Monterey and she'll purr at the slip, as the downtown area is totally hip and boater friendly. And with an end-tie, you become part of the scene.
You folks have created a great magazine that I try to leave everywhere I travel. It wasn't enough to get me into the London YC, although a stranger was good enough to get me in as a guest. Anyway, thanks for all your wisdom over the years, as you've helped me so much - and now I'm going for my 100-ton license. See you at the Ha-Ha, I hope.
Monterey / London / All Over
Richard - Thanks for the many fine compliments. Monterey is terrific for mariners, which is why it's such a shame that most sailors - ourselves included - are in such a rush and often charge directly south to Conception. When we head south a year from now, our son will have gone on to college, and we'll be able to take our sweet time enjoying spots such as Santa Cruz and Monterey. We can't wait!
BEYOND THE LIMIT
While cruising to Vancouver earlier this summer with my friend Stephen Lloyd, we anchored his Aloha 34 'Primavera' in False Creek and dinghied in to the docks at Granville Island - their Fisherman's Wharf-Pier 39 - for dinner. When we got back, our 8-foot Quicksilver inflatable with a Mariner 4-hp outboard was gone! We first reported it as stolen, but then a ferry operator told us the dinghy - which we'd padlocked to the dock - had been impounded by the commisionaire.
There is a 3-hour limit for the use of the docks, and we were an hour late in returning from dinner. Yes, we went over the time limit. Our fault. But the dinghy was the only transportation we had to get to and from the vessel at anchor, and the dinghy had some of the mothership's safety equipment. We soon learned the dinghy was taken, by unknown means, to a bailiff's yard three cities away! To this day we don't know where it is!
After four hours of phoning around on primetime cellular to locate the dinghy, the bailiff wanted $430 to release it - and still wouldn't tell us where it was. We tied 'Primavera' up to the same docks and asked if we could have an extension on the 3-hour limit so we would have enough time to retrieve the dinghy. They said 'no' - and told us they'd impound our sailboat as well. Nice guys! After talking with the Coast Guard, the Vancouver Harbour Commission, the Vancouver City Police, the RCMP, and another bailiff, we were told that the confiscation had been illegal. We immediately called for a federal officer to come down and lay charges and have the dinghy returned.
After waiting three hours for the cops to show, they called us up and said it was a civil matter and we'd have to take care of it ourselves. Since the bailiff wanted $430 Canadian - it may not be as much as American money, but we work as hard for our money as you Yanks - my friend couldn't afford to get his dinghy back. He was left with 30 days to make bail. After that, the amount goes up by $50 Canadian a day. Now my friend is out approximately $3,500 Canadian because he'll have to get a new dinghy as he can't afford to get the old one back as he's an epileptic on a disability pension. And yes, he's been having more grand mal seizures since the incident.
The local news did what they could to help us. When they went to talk to the bailiff, he would not show them the dinghy, and he had been instructed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation - which owns the docks - not to talk to reporters. On camera, however, one of the reporters said that the commissionarie told them that Stephen, who lives in Nanaimo, had been a chronic abuser of the dock's time limits. This can't be true as he hasn't been to Vancouver in almost two years. He probably won't go back either, not to Granville Island, anyway.
We're doing the best we can to have Stephen's dinghy returned, but because the lawsuit would be against the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp, a federal corporation, we haven't found a lawyer that will touch the case. It seems that going up against the feds is a no-win situation. So we are going for the 'court of public opinion' - which would probably have more effect anyway.
Can you give us some feedback on what to do?
John - It sounds like cruel and unusual punishment for such a minor crime, but unless Stephen can get help from a legal aid or get on Judge Judy's show, it might be easiest and cheapest just to pay the fine. But if he's really intent on pushing it, he might have to resort to performance art. You know, put on a prisoner's outfit, have you chain him nine ways to the dock, and stage an epileptic fit in front of all the tourists.
READERS WHO OWN POWERBOATS
Do you know what percentage of your readers own powerboats? I thought to ask because of the recent apologetic powerboater letter to the editor. I read 'Latitude' from cover to cover - and then get out a razor and save one or two articles from each issue. Even though I own a trawler, I enjoy the focus on sailing. Even if there is a substantial powerboat audience, it would reduce my enjoyment if you tried to cover both audiences.
Kevin - Thanks for the feedback and support. Even though we only write about sailing, we suspect that at least 25% of our readers own powerboats. It doesn't surprise us that a power-boater would enjoy 'Latitude', as sailors and powerboaters have many common interests and issues.
HERE'S WHERE I TELL THEM TO GO
I sail on the East Coast aboard the Hans Christian 33 'Moon Snail'. When asked questions by other sailors, I always refer them to www.latitude38.com.
Harley - And we thank you very kindly for doing so.
SAILOR LOOKING FOR OCEAN RACING FUN TO
I think the vital characteristics of an ocean race are: 1) Getting together with like-minded crews who wish to safely test their sailing mettle in a long distance ocean race; 2) Rehash the adventure with fellow racers following a successful conclusion of the race; 3) Maintain a sense of humor; 4) Honor fellow competitors. It would also be neat if the race went to tropical islands where the finishers would receive leis and libations - and maybe even a trophy to take home.
West Marine has long sponsored a "fun, family-oriented" Pacific Cup to Hawaii. The event originally inspired my interest in fun ocean racing. But lately, the event seems to be organized to cater to those who derive their deepest pleasure from the strict adherence to rules - and from withholding respect, honor and prizes from fellow competitors. What is happening?
The time limit on the 2,080-mile Pacific Cup is about 400 hours, and it takes the average boat about 300 hours to finish. This year's race saw 26 of the boats - more than one-third of the fleet - not finish within the time limit because of unusually light winds. These boats got left out in the cold. Thirteen of the boats that finished after the time limit did so within 60 hours. Another 12 boats had dropped out earlier or finished more than 60 hours after the finish. In other words, only 54 of the 80 boats finished. Most of those who didn't finish within the time limit were heavy displacement boats.
I can't help but wonder who would have missed out on the 'fun' if the race committee had made adjustments to account for the unusually light weather, to the boats that spent a disproportionate amount of time in the doldrums, or extended the time limit. That they didn't seems indicative of a trend of, well, pettiness, that appears to coincide with the increased participation of racing sleds - which while noteworthy for capturing the imagination and line honors, are not otherwise especially interesting in the context of the many personal adventures within the fleet.
The bottom line is that it seems as if West Marine Pacific Cup organizers have a list of priorities that's the opposite of mine. I'm still looking for a fun ocean race out beyond the bitter end. Baja Ha-Ha?
Anon - Your letter rambled all over the place, so we edited the best we could. In essence, we think your complaints are: you believe that the heavy displacement boats got screwed; that the handicaps and time limits should have been adjusted in the middle of the race; and that the boats that finished after the time limit were not accorded respect by race organizers.
It's true that many heavy displacement boats got screwed by a high-pressure system that lingered in the middle of the course for a length of time not seen in many Hawaii races. But it's also true that plenty of moderate and light displacement boats with excellent skippers - Skip Allan and his Wylie 28 'Wildflower', which has always been up on the top five of the Pacific Cup, and Commodore Tompkins with his brand new turbo'd Wylie 38 'Flashgirl' - suffered in the calms, too. While the extended calm screwed heavy and light boats alike, the heavy boats suffered the more because they are hurt the most by light air and the slowest to recover. But that's just the nature of the boats and was not caused by any race committee manevolence.
It's also important to recognize that as long as there are very different boats in a long race, some are going to benefit from the weather conditions and some are going to get the short end of the stick. It makes no difference if everyone starts at once - as used to be the case in the TransPac - because the boats get dramatically different weather near the finish. In the case of Pacific Cup staggered starts, some boats get away on windy days and other boats start on calm days. That's yacht racing. If you study past Pacific Cups, you'll see that often times heavier boats got away in great weather while sleds got skunked.
Should the handicaps and time limits have been changed in the middle of the race? You can't change the handicaps in the middle of the race, because that's like changing the rules in the middle, and once you do that your event goes straight down the toilet. On the surface, extending the time limit would have been easy to do. But if you look deeper, who is going to replace all the volunteers at the finish line who've had to return to families and jobs? If the race is officially extended, so is the liability for not having proper staffing and such. With such a big event, you can't change things on a dime.
We don't think the West Marine Pacific Cup has any major sled bias - certainly not like the TransPac used to have. We fault them for only two things. Before the race assuming that it would be as fast as the last three, which might have been unrealistic. And even more important, for not recognizing people who either dropped out and motored or who didn't finish in time, but were still there for the award's ceremony. It was inexcusable that these people who put so much time and money into their efforts were treated almost as if they didn't exist. Totally uncool.
LAST YEAR WE PULLED THE KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL
Two years ago I purchased a Kennex 445 catamaran that had been used as a crewed charter boat in the Caribbean for a few years. The boat, built in '91, was in fairly decent condition, but had showed signed of age and wear. When we took ownership of the boat in Tortola, BVIs, we set about to restore her to her previous glory.
Then, last year we pulled the kids out of school and went 'down island' for a few months, home schooling them along the way. We have a 13-year-old girl, Molly, and an 11-year-old boy, Woody. It was a great trip that all of us will remember for a long time. We visited the various islands along the way south from the BVIs to Dominca, with stops at Monserrat, St. Marten, Nevis, Antigua (for Sailing Week), St. Barts, St. Kitts, and other places. I'm not sure, but I think we broke the fun meter.
I found it very interesting that, for the most part, we felt the kids were safer walking the streets of these beautiful islands than they ever would be taking a bus across the Golden Gate to visit friends in San Francisco - something, by the way, we don't allow them to do.
Our original intention following the trip was to put the boat back on the market. My wife, Martha, however, really enjoyed the cruise and our cat 'Whisper'. So we've decided to keep the boat for awhile. Martha and I used to deliver boats up and down the West Coast during out misspent youth, so it was truly wonderful to cast off the docklines with no particular place we had to be or time to get there by.
We've had the boat with a charter company for the past year, and although the boat is
being actively used, it's being actively abused as well. It seems that the more income that is generated from charters equals the same amount going into repairing the systems or equipment that has been damaged. One problem seems to be bareboat skippers who are misleading about their experience. For example, resumes that read "years of experience on various bodies of water" actually means three years of sailing on a lake for two weeks each summer back when they were teenagers and every night in the bathtub with rubby duckies. It would be great if typical charters would understand that sun cushions are not really the best place to clean fish.
So now we're not sure what to do. Put the boat in with a local charter company in Tortola, bring her back to California, or throw up our hands and sell her. No matter what we do, we've had a great time with the boat.
Kennex 445, 'Whisper'
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