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HEAT GUNS AND MOSQUITOES
Greetings from the Rio Dulce in Guatemala! We found a great new use for our heat gun. As you would guess, one of the major problems in the jungle is bugs of every description and size. In addition to exceptionally pesky mosquitoes, we have some small spiders that seem to prefer eating plump gringos to any other fare. They hide all over, craftily stalking us until they get within jumping range. In addition to leaving painful bites or stings, there is big time swelling for several days. At least for me. When I remembered that high heat neutralizes the sting of jellyfish, I got out my trusty heat gun and tried it on my latest spider bite. The swelling was visibly reduced in minutes! A couple of follow-up 'heat treatments' worked miracles until I got an antihistamine.
The trick is to use as much heat as can be tolerated for several minutes until the swelling begins to go down. It's really dramatic to see your foot go from a size 27 back to normal before your very eyes! Obviously, this treatment can strip skin as easily as varnish if you aren't careful. In fact, it might be a good idea to stay away from the medicinal rum until you're through. And perhaps a heat pack would work as well. The heat gun is also effective on mosquito bites - if you can 'cook' them when they're fresh. Another benefit of the heat gun treatment is that since you already have the heat gun handy, it's easier to put down the rum and strip some of that varnish that's been needing a touch-up.
Although the humidity gets oppressive at times, the Rio Dulce is a great place to summer over. The mountains are cool, travel is cheap, and Guatemala's Mayan ruins are really a treat. Over and out for now.
Dennis and Sonja
Originally from Seattle
Dennis & Sonja - We can't quite put our finger on it, but there's something that makes Latitude readers just a little bit different than readers of other sailing magazines.
I sail a water ballasted Hunter 23.5, and want to know where I can get further information on the infamous bar at Tomales Bay? The last two Octobers, I've done weekend sails out over the bar out into very mild sea conditions. I've heard horror stories about the bar and 'sneaker waves', but they were always from locals who weren't sailors, so I didn't put much stock in them. I just assumed that such waves only come with high winds and rough seas. But with Matt Keller's recent letter and other comments in your mag, it sounds as though I shouldn't be so cavalier about going outside the bar.
Dennis - You should never be cavalier
about any bar - least of all the one at Tomales Bay, which has
a notorious history. The dangers are simple. You can go out at
slack water or during a slight flood when it appears to be a pussycat,
but if you return when the tide is ebbing and perhaps the wind
has picked up, the bar can be breaking all the way across. At
this point, it becomes life-threatening for those on small boats
who try to make it in. For further information, or if you find
yourself trapped outside, contact the Coast Guard at Bodega Bay.
'Sneaker waves' - which are so named because they are large to huge waves that suddenly appear on otherwise calm days - are a somewhat different issue, and we're not sure anyone completely understands them. They mainly seem to strike in the first three months of the year, although we'd be on guard from October 1 to May 1. These waves - which have taken lives from Roca Ben down off Baja, to Morro Bay, to Tomales Bay - obviously pose the greatest threat in shallow water, but oddly seem to sometimes break in deep water, too.
If you go out on the ocean between October 1 and May 1, it's smart to be even more cautious and vigilant than normal. If anyone has any 'sneaker wave' or Tomales Bay stories to share, we'd love to hear them.
Having left Ariadne II in Trinidad for hurricane season, I recently returned to the States. When I did, I noticed several letters in Latitude about using Stugeron to combat mal de mer. I was tipped off to Stugeron several years ago in Mexico by another cruiser who happened to be a veterinarian. Finding that scopalomine produced dry mouth and was taken off the market for other reasons, I was pleased to find that Stugeron - which was available in 75 mg tablets - worked wonderfully. While the tablets didn't come with any instructions, one 75 mg tablet taken at the start of a sea passage usually provided total relief for me - with no side effects. We used them sparingly after leaving Mexico, as we didn't know how to replenish our stock.
While in England last year, we found that local drugstores sold Stugeron over the counter in non-prescription 15 mg tablets. In fact, they were sold in colorful retail packages with instructions to start with two 15 mg tablets and repeat - as I recall - with one tablet every four hours. There was a daily limit which I don't recall. I've since found that a single dose of two 15 mg tablets at the start of a passage works as well for me as the 75 mg Mexican tablet I had been using. Another cruiser told me that the 75 mg tablet was intended for really serious nausea, such as that associated with chemotherapy.
Unless England is more lax with regard to OTC medicines than I suspect, Latitude's advice not to take Stugeron without a doctor's advice may be a bit strong - though certainly on the side of caution. I'm not sure if Stugeron is available in the 'English' islands of the Caribbean.
Alameda / Trinidad
Roger - Thanks for the great information. Our advice continues to be not to take any medicine without checking with your doctor - or at least some doctor - for possible problems or bad reactions with other medicines you may be taking. This is powerful stuff. And whatever you do, don't take a full 'Mexican dose'.
WATER UNDER THE KEEL
As a crewmember of the Ranger 33 Diminished Capacity, I must say that our on-the-water experience during the West Marine Pacific Cup 2000 differed from what was reported in the September Latitude.
You may recall that the S&S 33 Spirit was billed as the "sentimental favorite" in Division A, and that she and Diminished Capacity rated even under the Pacific Cup Handicap. Accordingly, a very friendly 'first across the line wins' rivalry developed between the crews as the boats were being prepared for the event at the Richmond YC docks. Some of the competitive spark went back years, as crew from the two boats had raced against each other in Flying Juniors many years before. Furthermore, Diminished Capacity's John Amen had not only been part of the crew when Spirit had been owned by Peter Sutter of Sutter Sails, he'd built sails for her. The skippers and crew from both boats carefully inspected each other's vessels before the start, and developed both a friendship and respect.
To make a long story short, Diminished Capacity won the start by a narrow margin, and the two boats traded tacks out to the Farallones. In a dying breeze and fading light, we lost sight of Spirit as we tacked on to starboard and headed south. Sixteen days later we finished at Kaneohe Bay, and were there in Mai Tai heaven to greet our friendly rivals as they finished their race about eight hours later. Better yet, we shared a table at the awards banquet dinner. Steve, Spirit's captain, bought Capt. Ted and our crew a nice bottle of chardonnay, and we raised our glasses together. In the spirit of West Marine's 'Fun Race to Hawaii', the crew aboard Diminished Capacity felt our victory in Division A came second to the camaraderie between us and the good ship Spirit and her crew.
Robert T. Kingspoke
Diminished Capacity Crew
Robert - Too err is human, and both the author and our various proofreaders erred by not catching the obvious mistake. Our apologies.
SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY - WITH A CATCH
I sent in my 'I want to crew' application along with the outrageous $5 fee and expect it to appear this month in the Mexico Only Crew List. However, I would also like to make myself more available to any Ha-Ha entry that needs to do any last-minute provisioning. Here are my credentials: I live in San Diego, and I have a pick-up truck and a Costco card. My fee? One cold beer - and a crew position on some wonderful soul's boat. I can be reached at (619) 813-2212 or at boatguy at ixpres.com.
By the way, lots of cruisers are worried about slip availability. During the last several weeks, I've noticed quite a few empty slips on Harbor Island, and there is always Glorietta Bay. For the latter, just go under the Coronado Bridge and turn right. We anchor there all the time.
Aralia, Westsail 32
Brent - Interesting offer. As for moorage, the San Diego Harbor Police will once again be making Special Anchorage #9 available to Ha-Ha participants only (as well as the courtesy docks at their Shelter Island facility). Anchorage #9 is just across from the airport at the eastern tip of Harbor Island. If there are more boats than can fit, the overflow will be directed to Glorietta Bay. Before heading to either anchorage, boats need to pick up a special permit (to post on their hulls) from the staff at Cabrillo Isle Marina on Harbor Island - the Ha-Ha's San Diego base.
THE COAST GUARD THANKED ME
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the U.S. Coast Guard for their thoughtfulness. On August 27 at 8 p.m., as I was returning from a cruise on San Francisco Bay, I was hailed by the Coast Guard while motoring our sailboat down the Estuary in the vicinity of Jack London Square. My first reaction was, 'What have I done now?'
All four of the Coast Guardsmen - who were wearing their sidearms while riding in an orange inflatable - wanted to thank me for having a 7-year-old girl wear her lifejacket while sitting in one of the raised seats aft of the cockpit. They also gave her and another youngster two drinking water containers as gifts.
Ernie and Maxine Crook
Ernie & Maxine - Governor Davis just
signed legislation that requires, as of the first of the year,
all children 11 years old or younger to wear lifejackets while
on boats. See Sightings.
It was Capt. Larry Hall - who recently finished his tour of duty as Commander, Group San Francisco - who made improved community relations a priority in this Coast Guard District. This was manifested in less 'harassment boardings' and a much friendlier attitude toward mariners. In so doing he engineered a dramatic turnaround in what had been a souring of relations between the Coast Guard and the boating public. We're not sure if the brass in Washington ever appreciated what a terrific job Capt. Hall did, but we're glad to see that his successor, Capt. Tim Sullivan, seems to have a similar outlook. These improved relations make all the sense in the world, as most mariners have nothing but respect and admiration for the Coasties.
FOOLS MAY BE FOOLED, BUT SMART PEOPLE
I'm writing in response to Roger's letter in the August issue. Roger's ancestors were right, it does take less water to raise a large boat a given height in a confined space than it does a small one. Here's proof: Take two separate ten-gallon containers and put one floatable three-gallon displacement object in one, and a floatable one gallon displacement object in the other. Fill the two ten-gallon containers until the water is level with the top. Remove the two floating objects, and you will find that it took nine gallons to raise the one-gallon object to the top and only seven gallons to raise the three-gallon object to the top. Therefore, it takes less water to raise four 36-ft. sailboats of the same displacement the 85 feet through the three locks on the Panama Canal than it does to raise one.
Fools may be fooled, but smart people are not.
Bernie - This problem trips up a lot of very smart people, so why don't you think it over some more tonight and see if you can't find the mistake in your approach?
ALL RIGHT, SMART PEOPLE DO MAKE MISTAKES
I want to apologize for how stupid I am. Last night I couldn't sleep because of thinking about how much water it took to raise a boat, no matter if it was an El Toro or a ship, in the Panama Canal. I guess the old saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks doesn't apply to sailors, because I've learned and now know that it does take the same amount of water to lift any size vessel the 85 feet in the Panama Canal. But, I still think that you can float the Queen Mary with only 1,000 gallons of water. Show this 68-year-old sea dog where I am wrong.
Bernie - Don't apologize for being 'stupid', as this has fooled countless experts. That it requires the same amount of water to lift any boat in the Panama Canal is an entirely different question than whether you could theoretically float the Queen Mary with only 1,000 gallons of water. We suppose the latter might be possible - but only if you were going to float it in an ultra 'skin tight' container. If you were going to attempt to float it in a rectangular-shaped lock, it would require far more water because of the narrowed sections at the bow and stern of the ship.
In response to Capt. Norm and Janet Goldie's request for help for the poor of the San Blas region of Mexico, I have five boxes of children's sweatshirts, all of them clean and in good shape. These are sweatshirts and shoes and stuff that kids left at St. Edwards school in Newark during the year. They've all been cleaned, washed and folded. If someone is heading down to Mexico and could take this, please call me at (510) 792-1632 and I'll get them to your boat.
Proletariat, Cal 20
WATER UP THE LOCK
Sorry, but Latitude is wrong. It takes decidedly less water to lift a ship in the Panama Canal than it does an El Toro. Consider the lock with a gate open to the Atlantic. Picture a very large ship - say 100,000 tons - being pulled into the lock by the donkey engines. As the ship moves in to the narrow lock, water flows out of the lock back to the ocean to make room for the ship. How much water? Exactly 100,000 tons. When the gates close and the ship is lifted, this 100,000 tons of water is 'saved'. An El Toro weighing only about 100 lbs. clearly requires more water.
Still not convinced? Then consider the following 'thought experiment'. The lock has been filled with water, absolutely to the brim. Another drop added will spill over the gate and go out to sea. Now imagine a fleet of huge helicopters which carry the 100,000 ton ship up through the air and gently settle it into the filled to the brim lock. We know from Archimedes that the ship will sink into the water until exactly 100,000 tons have been displaced. The displaced water will spill over the gate and out to sea. This water was surplus. It could have been 'saved' if the ship had been floated up 85 feet without the helicopters. The same experiment with the El Toro would only 'save' 100 pounds of water. The "eureka" you hear being shouted in the background must be from Archimedes.
A Physicist in Marin
A.P.I.M. - You may be a physicist, you
may from Belvedere, and you may rightfully admire Archimedes'
Principle - which states that a body immersed in a fluid is buoyed
up by a force equal to the weight of the displaced fluid - but
you're still wrong. You make a couple of fundamental mistakes.
The first is your notion that ships are raised in the locks using
seawater. Can you imagine how much time and energy it would take
for pumps to fill a lock with seawater? The chambers are actually
filled with freshwater powered by gravity, Newton's old friend.
Yes, the Canal is entirely dependent on the rain in Panama. On
occasions, when it hasn't rained as much as normal, ships have
had to be partially offloaded to conserve freshwater to keep the
The second mistake you seem to make is not realizing that when a vessel - no matter if it's a ship or an El Toro - enters a lock, it's already floating. So the only thing that's going to lift it 85 feet from the bottom up is an 85 foot tall lock-shaped 'block' of water.
Still don't believe us? Then here it is, straight from Ariyuri Him de Mantovani, Division de Communicacion Corporativia, Panama Canal Commission: "Approximately 52 million gallons of water are used in transiting a vessel - no matter if it's a large tanker or a small yacht. We transit yachts in a nested way in order to maximize resources, but if a yacht and a ship were to transit separately, they would still require the same amount of water."
SIGNIFICANT WAYPOINT ERRORS
As we prepare to depart for Mexico this fall, I want to caution the Class of 2000-2001 to carefully scrutinize the lat/lon coordinates published in the various boating guides before blindly entering them as GPS waypoints for navigation. This warning is based on mistakes we found in our previous trips south.
While I believe that Boating Guide to Mexico by John Rains and Patricia Miller is by far the best all-around cruising guide to Mexico, there are nonetheless some very significant waypoint errors. If you were to simply believe everything that was published, you could either find yourself on the beach or missing land altogether. Here are a few examples:
The longitude for the approach to Asuncion depicted on page 33 is given as 118°16'W - while it should be 114°16'W. That's about 200 miles to the west of where it actually is.
On the next page, the longitude for the approach to Abreojos is stated as 112° 33'W, while it should be 113° 33'W. Abreojos means 'open your eyes' because a waypoint and other navigation errors can be devastating.
In addition, don't use 101°41.4'W on page 173 as the longitude for the approach to Barra de Navidad, but rather 104°41.4'W. Likewise, ignore the two references to latitude 17°53.97'N on page 205 for Roca Nega Light, the key approach to Zihautanejo from either the north or south. Use 17°35.97'N instead.
Rains and Miller dutifully make the disclaimer that the hand drawn illustrations and waypoints are not to be used for navigation, and that the skipper has the ultimate responsibility for safely piloting his or her vessel. They're right, and I agree. Nonetheless, human nature is human nature. We all look for the easy way to do things from time to time, and it's tempting to cut corners by simply plugging in what looks like a realistic waypoint. But don't do it - or you may pay a very steep price!
I believe the Boating Guide to Mexico is still out of print, but it would certainly be well worth the effort for anyone heading south to try to find a copy. Notwithstanding a few errors, the hand-drawn charts, illustrations and, yes, waypoints are easily understandable and make getting in and out of important anchorages and marinas both simple and practical. This could only have been put together by people such as Rains and Miller, who compiled this guide after five months of painstaking effort.
John - We agree that the various cruising
guides are very helpful, but that nobody should assume they are
mistake free. If anyone doubts this, they should compare the handdrawn
charts of the same anchorages in the different guides. They look
completely different, don't they? As mariners have been cautioned
from the beginning of time, they should never rely on just one
navigational aid - not even GPS.
We've also been long time fans of the Boating Guide to Mexico, which was actually produced by John and Pat with major financial support from the Situr Marinas in Mexico. While that book is long out of print, we're happy to report that John and Pat (Miller) Rains are just finishing up The Mexico Boating Guide, a new 352-page cruising guide to Mexico they are producing completely on their own. Pat says they've had some delays, but hope to introduce the new guide at the Baja Ha-Ha Kick-Off and Costume Party at Cabrillo Isle Marina in San Diego on October 29. "We hope to have a box to be raffled off," she says.
BY TRUCK WITH THE RIG UP
We just came home from sailing our Beneteau 37.5 from Victoria, Canada to Monterey, California. The trip was our first offshore experience, and we really enjoyed ourselves - most of the time. Everyone we met along the way was full of wonderful information, and they all seemed to enjoy sharing a storm experience. I would like to believe that the seas get larger with each rendition. We were also amazed to see so many boats from our own marina in Canada. We've now decided to join the Ha-Ha, and are also investigating different methods of bringing our boat home as well as places to leave her on the hard in Mexico.
But can you comment on one story that was continually repeated but not verified concerning a company in Mexico that would truck a boat, rig still in, from the Pacific Coast of Mexico to the Gulf Coast of Mexico. A special road was going to be built for this purpose. We're interested because it would be a great way to bypass the Panama Canal. However, we're unable to find more information on this company and wonder if it might be the result of one sailor's fable repeated from boat to boat?
Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, Canada/Currently In California
Debbie - The idea that someone would
build a special road hundreds of miles across Mexico so that a
couple of sailboats could be transported from the Pacific Ocean
to the Gulf of Mexico with their rigs up doesn't make much sense.
But we think we know where this whacky notion got started. It's
true that many years ago some Latitude readers built a cradle
and took their boat across Mexico on a flatbed rail car. While
they made it, they just barely made it - and don't recommend that
others try it. In addition, it's also true that Ed Grossman of
Marina San Carlos - who is responsible for trucking most U.S.
boats back to the States - has long dreamed and talked of trucking
boats, with their rigs up, across the narrow Baja peninsula. This
would eliminate the Baja Bash and the long truck ride most boats
have to make back to California via Tucson. To date, it remains
nothing more than a dream. But nobody has talked of trucking boats
across mainland Mexico on a special road.
By the way, as an entry in the Ha-Ha, you'll receive a copy of Latitude's First-Timer's Guide to Mexico, listing all the marinas and ways to bring your boat back home.
Big seas? To be sure, there are huge seas from time to time. But, as you suspect, in many cases they grow in size with each recounting.
EVEN THOUGH IT WAS SUNDAY
I want to commend the team at the Richmond Boat Works for service that goes way beyond normal business practices. While delivering Leigh Brite's beloved J/40 China Cloud back from Santa Barbara after her Coastal Cup victory early this summer, we encountered engine troubles with the newly installed Yanmar diesel. Even though it was a Sunday night, Bill Peacock of Richmond Boat Works stayed on the phone talking to crew Tom Loughran trying to analyze the problem via cell phones - thank goodness for them - until 2:30 a.m. In any event, we were able to sail China Cloud into Monterey Harbor without too much trouble/effort.
The communications resumed the next morning at 6:00 a.m. After all, who needs sleep? When Mike Haley, owner of Richmond Boat Works, heard about the situation, Bill was dispatched to Monterey. After driving more than three hours on little sleep and a little wrenching, Bill suspected that the starter motor had given up the ghost. This was confirmed by Monterey Marine. It was decided that a new starter would be shipped to them and they would install it under warranty. Bill then offered to drive both Tom and myself back to Richmond.
In all of my days I have never experienced a business that was so concerned about its customers or service as much as Richmond Boat Works. I take my hat off to them and their marvelous staff.
Crewmember, China Cloud
STATIONARY OR MOVING WHILE HOVE TO?
In the May 2000 issue, Tom Bowers had a question about heaving to in heavy weather. He stated there seemed to be a contradiction between Peter Bruce saying his boat moves forward at a knot or two while hove to, and the Pardeys, who say their boat remains stationary in her protective slick while hove to. My response to this apparent contradiction is that a boat's ability to adjust itself in a hove to position is dependent upon the condition of the sea and the boat's windage when the boat is hove to in the optimal 50° off the wind position.
While testing para-anchors on various vessels off the west coast, I've learned that all sailboats will begin sailing forward while in a hove to station - especially if they have too big a sail plan. If the wind is blowing hard enough, the boat may drift to leeward while still moving forward at about a knot. This is still considered safe as long as the boat doesn't start moving forward so quickly that the slapping action of the waves become a problem. The best way to prevent this from happening is to use a para-anchor, which slows the boat's forward progress and effectively keeps her in her own protective slick.
I intentionally sail my vessel forward, because the drag from the para-anchor's canopy lets the boat stay in a hove to position without a bridle. As the sea's action increases to storm level or higher, I rig a pendant line to the anchor rode and form a bridle. I've also found that I must always consider the three factors of balance - sail plan, rudder position, and length of the anchor rode - because together they dictate how comfortable it is to maintain a hove to position. I refer to these points as the trilibrium factors.
If anyone has any questions, they can contact me at zack at paraanchor.com.
SOUNDS LIKE A STORY TO ME
Having not seen anything about this in previous issues, I don't know if you picked up on the following information I got from the NOAA SARSAT page:
"On July 6, 2000, the COSPAS-SARSAT system detected a 406 MHz EPIRB distress signal northeast of Oahu, Hawaii. The master of the sailing vessel Space Cowboy manually activated his 406 MHz EPIRB after abandoning the vessel due to threatening calls about possible explosives aboard. CGD14 RCC launched a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft, which located the liferaft, and the USS Ingraham recovered the owner from the liferaft."
It sounds like a story of some kind to me! Enraged ex-spouse/boat partner? No time to search the boat? How did he get the warning? What happened to the boat?
You guys do an absolutely great job covering all aspects of sailing, and we've gained invaluable knowledge over the years from your articles - and opinions. After six years of periodic 'vacation sailing' our Newport 30 Bahala Na in the Sea of Cortez, we've moved up to a 46' Maramu. Our plan is to take her south on the 2001 Ha-Ha - assuming we can wait that long.
Dave and Merry Wallace
Dave & Merry - Space Cowboy is a
Hobie 33 that was entered in June's Singlehanded TransPac. While
several hundred miles from Hawaii, the skipper decided to abandon
his boat by getting into his liferaft and setting off his EPIRB.
His boat was last seen sailing along in what appeared to be excellent
As anyone who has ever spent much time with singlehanders can tell you, a combination of things - being alone and fatigue are two of the major ones - can take the mind to places where minds don't usually go. This is true for people who finish first as well as last. While we don't know for sure, we suspect this is what happened to the skipper of Space Cowboy. At that point, we decided that it wasn't in anybody's best interest - particularly the skipper's - if we pursued the story any further. If the skipper cares to comment on it, that's fine, otherwise we've gone as far as we're going to go with it.
IF LARRY ELLSION WANTS IT, IT GETS DONE
In one of the latest issues, you mentioned four things that caught my attention: that Larry Ellison of Oracle Software bought AmericaOne, thus adding to his mini-marina on the Bay; that there is a lot that could be done to improve the Bay for boating; that in view of the money boatowners pay in taxes, it needs a champion to battle the politicos; and finally, that someone at Latitude has their boat next to Ellison's.
If you stir these ingredients together, you come to the inevitable conclusion that Ellison should spearhead these improvements to the Bay, because if Larry wants it, it will get done. After all, the politicos will fall all over themselves to get him what he wants, since he has a lot of dough and some of this might get applied to their campaigns. Besides, Larry is badly in need of some positive community image after things such as the flak he got for landing his jet after hours at the San Jose airport. If he could get the impossible done, it would make him immortal - as least among us mariners.
Even though we have a powerboat, you can add us to your legion of devout readers.
San Francisco Bay
Anneke - Thanks for the nice words. Ellison
doesn't have a "mini marina" on the Bay. Perhaps you
meant to suggest that he has a 'mini armada' - although that hasn't
really been true either. Ellison's 192-foot motoryacht Izanami
has been berthed in Sausalito for the summer, yes, near the boats
belonging to various Latitude staffers. But the dock talk is that
she's headed to the Caribbean and Europe. Ellison's other motoryacht,
the 234-ft Katana, has never been in the Bay and is probably based
in the Med. Ellison's Farr 82 Sayonara has spent some time in
the Bay, but is usually travelling the globe to participate in
the world's major races. Ellison recently purchased the assets
of Paul Cayard's AmericaOne campaign, including their two boats.
They are in New Zealand, having just been painted white. Ellison
also bought the two Abracadabras from the Hawaiian America's Cup
effort. One just arrived in Richmond and the other is expected
soon. In other words, up until now at least, Ellison has neither
had a mini-marina or mini-armada on the Bay.
In any event, we think you misunderstand the dynamic between wealthy entrepreneurs and what you call 'politicos'. For there to be the kinds of changes we recommended for the Bay, there would need to be changes in legislation and permits. But you have to realize that different people and groups live for different things, and when it comes to oversight agencies and their staffers - we'll not mention the BCDC (Bay Conservation and Development Commission) by name - many of them live for the thrill of denying pleasure or happiness to other groups or individuals - particularly if those groups or individuals have more money than they do. As such, if Ellison tried to spearhead such changes on the Bay, it would almost certainly be the kiss of death.
The truth of the matter is that recreational opportunities on the Bay won't improve until the BCDC staffers and commissioners change their point of view - which seems to be that mariners are inherently evil because they do something they enjoy. Since it's not politically viable for BCDC staffers to eradicate current boating opportunities, they pacify themselves with making it damn near impossible to increase them, or for people to even realistically dream about improving them.
DANGER ON THE DOCKS
The September 7 'Lectronic Latitude has a photo of a seal apparently threatening the safety of two ladies and three young children. May I suggest that the greatest danger in the photo comes not from the seal, but from the lack of PFDs on the children. I'll take a seal bite over a drowning any day.
Latitude has been out in front on the issue of wearing life jackets and I applaud you for that. I am surprised you missed this one.
Thom - To our knowledge, the women and kids weren't with any boat, they were just taking a walk down the dock. The women were obviously keeping a close eye on their kids, so we don't think they were being irresponsible. As for Latitude being "out in front on the issue of wearing life jackets", we don't think that's a correct statement. We can understand PFDs being required for children and during certain events, and we encourage their use - but we believe in personal choice for adults just sailing on their own.
LITTLE OLD SEAL
Sheesh, guys! I just saw the photograph of the seal on the dock in the September 7 'Lectronic Latitude, and methinks you've been in port too long if a lil' ol' seal on the dock rates that much attention. Check out the action at South Beach or Pier 39 sometime, where the denizens crawling out of the water are the size of tuna boats. All right, that's a slight exaggeration. But they come in bunches, like bananas. Those dudes are something to get excited about! Of course, like the rest of us, they're just lookin' for fun in the sun and good eats. And if they could read, your article on the Lamberts' smorgasbord would have them heading south right now.
Me? I'm looking forward to my second Ha-Ha this year. Can't wait!
K.B. - We're quite familiar with the sea lions at Pier 39. What we thought was interesting about the photo is that the seal - or sea lion, we don't even know the difference - hopped onto the dock in an unexpected place. It was no big deal, but it made for a fun photo.
I can't get through the day without checking the San Francisco Bay wind pattern 'streaklines' in the afternoon - right after I check out 'Lectronic Latitude. If anyone hasn't seen it, they should visit http://facs.scripps.edu/surf/nepa.html, animated wave models of the Pacific.
Dave - The 'steaklines' feature that has been added to S.F. Bay Wind Pattern site is - in our estimation - totally cool and extremely informative. And here's some more good news: there's no need to visit it after 'Lectronic Latitude, as there's a link to it in each day's 'Lectronic weather section.
THE SCUM-FILLED CORNER AT HYDE AND ELLIS
Since you decided to print the letter complaining about the cigar butt being tossed into the Bay, I would like to add a few comments. I have been very impressed with Latitude's record of 'getting real', so let's not get blinded by small details. After all, remember that Bay Area drivers commute millions of miles each day, and think of the amount of various types of pollution that causes.
To quote the old adage, 'all rivers lead to the sea'. Therefore there is no difference between throwing a cigar butt straight into the Bay and throwing it into a scum-filled gutter at the corner of Hyde and Ellis. Last time I checked, cigar butts decompose, but MTBE and all our car pollutants that leak into the 'River' Highway 101 do not. So there is a scale of damage being done by most of us.
Furthermore, I plead ignorance to my own possible carelessness. Is painting the bottom of my boat polluting the Bay more than all the cigarette butts thrown onto the street? After all, it's usually what you don't see in the water that's most dangerous.
Diego - According to the Metropolitan
Transit Commission - at least we think that's their name - Bay
Area residents drive well over 100 million miles each day. And
with those miles comes tremendous pollution, in everything from
gas fumes to drops of oil to dust from brake linings. We're certainly
part of that problem, and suspect that 99% of our readers are,
too. So we sure don't pretend to be cleaner-than-thou.
When it comes to throwing cigar and cigarette butts into the Bay from boats - as opposed to having them flow into the Bay from the beaches or from the corner of Hyde and Ellis - we think it's a minuscule problem. We've done it a few times ourselves. To our mind, the real damage is not from the butt, but from the gesture - which says, "I don't respect the Bay enough to get off my lazy ass to properly dispose of this little piece of trash." That's not good, especially if you do it in front of others. And it's still not good, even if tens of thousands of people in the City throw their butts into the drains that led to the Bay, or if a million local women unleash several tons of hairspray into the local atmosphere, or if you're going to paint the bottom of your boat with copper the next week. If any of us can avoid polluting the water with just a little effort, we certainly should.
NOW WE KNOW WHY THEY CALL IT MARBLEHEADVILLE
Up until I stumbled across your unfortunate remarks about the late, great Patrick O'Brian, I had been tempted to give your magazine a try and possibly subscribe. But no editor of a sailing magazine who is indifferent to O'Brian - much less trashes him, as you did in Wooden Boat - can produce a publication of any interest to me. The Aubrey/Maturin series is to the Horn-blower books what Tolstoy is to Marvel Comics. I admit O'Brian is not suited to superficial minds, but the first lesson of a liberal education is to not condemn what you can't understand. I will, however, give Stevenson's The Wrecker a try.
Doug - We didn't write to Wooden Boat;
they picked out our comments in Latitude as something they found
interesting - which, we might add, has flattered us no end. And
what did their Peter H. Spectre have to say about the matter?
"I went further down the O'Brian trail than the publisher of Latitude, but after the first three titles I, too, gave up, having come to the conclusion that these were sea stories in only the most marginal sense (the tipoff? all that violin playing). To my mind, if you want clean, elegant, economically literate writing about the naval side of the Naplenonic Wars, C.S. Forester's Hornblower series remains the unbeatable standard."
Furthermore, we didn't blast O'Brian's books or condemn those who enjoy reading them, we merely wondered aloud "Are we the only ones who aren't enamored?" The nice thing about writing to a predominantly Northern California audience is that people here think for themselves. If we let fly with an opinion - and we often do - people here who disagree don't feel threatened. They have enough confidence in their own intelligence to realize that our opinion is just that, the opinion of one person, and not the gospel truth.
By the way, if you want a defense of O'Brian from one of his biggest fans - and the person who taught O'Brian how to sail shortly before he died - read the Patrick O'Brian article in the August issue by Thomas Perkins. That Perkins would have it published in Latitude is yet another thing that we find flattering.
THE BASTARD WRITES WITH WATER
I have read a zillion sea stories. I tried Patrick O'Brian's, but I couldn't last 100 pages. Am I stupid or something? I just read Nat Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea in two days. Great! Read and find out what a kleptoparacitic is.
I had the same problem with Hemingway as I did O'Brian. I couldn't read him. Years later I was reading a bio of the director John Huston, who was talking about making a Hemingway movie on location someplace. After two weeks the screenwriter told Huston, "I can't get anything down on paper." Huston asked, "What's the matter?" The screenwriter replied: "The bastard writes with water and there's nothing there." I've felt better ever since.
I appreciate Geoff Luttrell's letter in the September Latitude decrying the careless attitude of those sailors who throw cigarette butts in the Bay. I was reminded of a comment made by the naturalist on our dolphin-watching boat when we visited Maui recently. He said that cigarette butts tossed in the ocean soon become overgrown with algae which is then consumed by green sea turtles. It is not unusual, he said, for the turtles to die from an intestinal blockage as a result.
Although I have never seen a green sea turtle in the Bay, I have seen leatherbacks near the Farallones. It is not hard to imagine waste floating on the surface of the Bay being carried beyond the Golden Gate on an ebb tide. In any event, turtles are not the only sea creatures fooled into thinking our waste is food. No doubt a little research would show similar lethal consequences to sea birds and marine mammals.
Elsewhere in the September issue, you mentioned the annual coastal clean-up day. Statistics from past clean-ups show that cigarette butts constitute the largest category - by number, if not by volume - of debris collected by the volunteers. So please, folks, let's keep our waste out of the Bay in the first place and save ourselves - and our marine life - a lot of grief.
Gordon - We're sure you agree that mariners
shouldn't be careless about letting anything fall into the Bay,
no matter if it's cigarette butts, balloons, tin foil, six-pack
holders - or a brand new 3/4 ounce chute!
By the way, we're skeptical about the claim that turtles eat algae-covered cigarette butts. After all, most humans wouldn't eat chocolate-covered cigarette butts, and everyone knows that turtles are smarter than humans. In any event, something like 98% of turtle mortality is due to predators, not cigarette butts. When it comes to being misleading and deceptive, watch out for environmentalists preaching to the choir, who can be as deceptive as presidential candidates and used car salesmen.
I'm a frequent visitor to the Latitude Web site - which happens to be my favorite on the web! And I try to get my Latitude fix every day by visiting the 'Lectronic Latitude part of the site.
I want to applaud you for a great site, in general. And in particular, I'd like to applaud you for the Advertiser's Links that I just recently noticed. I'm happy to see that you are starting to have advertisers fill in this part of the site because I've often wanted a way to find them on the web without having to dig up a copy of the mag and searching for their display ad.
thom.rose at gte.net
FIRE DOWN BELOW
A couple of weeks ago, I was awakened by the sound of a nearby diesel that was idling in an unusually slow manner. After listening for a short time, I realized there was a vague familiarity to the sound of . . . my own boat's 9 hp Yanmar diesel! But how could it be, as my diesel wouldn't start until it had been given full throttle and turning the key in the ignition. Short of some idiot in the cockpit playing with the controls, there was no way that my engine could be running! Impossible!
But eventually I decided to check it out. When I lifted the hatch off my engine compartment . . . surprise, it was my engine! It was turning very slowly - and emitting a black, foul-smelling, acrid smoke that billowed into my face. I rocketed through the companionway and did what I would normally do to kill the engine - pull the throttle back. But it was already all the way back! I was left to confront a situation that I didn't think could be happening!
Here's something for all your readers to think about. What would you have done under the same circumstances? Your engine has mysteriously started by itself and you can't turn it off, flames and smoke are billowing out of your engine room - and to add to the excitement, you sleep in the buff and, baby, it's cold outside.
During the next 15 minutes, I inhaled poisonous smoke, coughed violently, got my fire extinguisher from below, called the Harbor Patrol for help - and put out a mayday when fire came shooting out of my engine control panel. I was overjoyed when the engine finally stopped on its own. Finally, I watched with gratitude as the local fire department donned gas masks and went below. I also was thankful when a neighbor loaned me some pants to cover my buffness.
What had happened? My ignition switch - new just a year ago - had mysteriously shorted out. As a result, the engine turned over without fuel - just as your car engine would if you left it in gear and held the key full on. What I should have done, was to immediately turn off my batteries. I'll try to remember that next time.
P.S. Estimated cost of repairs, $5,708.91. Thank you, State Farm!
John - Thanks for sharing your story.
It's rare for an ignition switch to fail, but it does happen.
And there was one model of diesel that had an air cleaner cover
that would vibrate loose, slip down, and jump the ignition contacts.
In either case, turning off the batteries immediately is the correct
Now for extra credit. What would you do if your diesel was running and smoke started pouring out of the engine compartment? This is critical, because fire is a very serious problem on a boat. First, you should turn off the batteries in the hope the cause is just a stuck starter or a battery meltdown. And no matter what, you should also hit the kill switch. But suppose you do both and the engine keeps running and the smoke keeps coming? This is very serious. If the smoke isn't too thick, you should manually try to cut off the fuel flow at the fuel pump. If you can't do that, you'll have to shut off the fuel at the tank - although the engine will still run for awhile. Keeping the hatch shut tight is another option, as it hopefully will either set off the Halon extinguishers or allow the engine to starve for oxygen.
The Marco Polo, a converted World War II gunboat currently doing tourist duty out of La Paz, caught fire while in the La Paz Channel in late July. Faulty wiring was the problem. Even though the recent safety regulations for commercial vessels are in effect, the code for marine wiring is about as stringent as it is for houses: Don't touch if it's wet or if you're wet. A large fuse between the positive battery lead and the house distribution system would have stopped the short circuit immediately. Fortunately the fire was contained and no tourists were injured.
Anybody down here or coming down here should check their electrical system, as Murphy lives in Mañanaland, too. Jim Hughes, owner/operator of the Marco Polo, had a similar incident with his old 50' Kettenberg Irish Mist a while back when a couple of bow planks gave way. If you're around La Paz and find yourself in trouble, call Channel 22 - 16 most other places - and you'll get an almost immediate response. The only 'Vessel Assist' down here in Mexico is us other cruisers who are happy to pitch in and help.
Readers - Fire aboard a vessel at sea
is a very, very dangerous situation. Check your boat to prevent
it, and review your methods of dealing with it.
A GERMAN RECOMMENDS SPANISH
There has been quite a bit of Mexico-bashing in the last several issues by some cruisers. It's sad but true, like many other countries, Mexico has problems with corruption. Let's hope newly-elected President Fox will somehow change that. In the meantime, those folks might better ponder the reasons they cruise down there year after year: the good weather, food, music, slow pace of life and great buying power.
One tip that might make visits to Mexico more enjoyable would be learning basic Spanish. I visited the Greek Islands in '90 and experienced first hand how frustrating it feels when you can't read the signs let alone speak the language. But, Spanish is not Greek. In fact, for English-speaking people, Spanish is the easiest language to learn. And, learning it will help your Portuguese and Italian!
Other good reasons to learn Spanish: Most cruisers will go to Mexico over and over again, so it's not a one time thing. In addition, when Commandante Fidel dies before too long, you'll want to take your boat there, too. So before going to Mexico, do yourself a favor and learn some Spanish, as it will change your perception of Mexico and her people. And, who knows, next year you might race in jet-set Punta del Este, Uruguay or cruise off Ibiza, Spain. Or, just spend the next ten seasons in British Columbia.
German - We don't think our readers were
bashing Mexico as much as voicing their frustration in trying
to understand another culture. We Americans, for instance, are
comfortable with corruption on a massive scale carried out by
double-talking lawyer/politicians wearing suits and wielding pens
in front of the television cameras. So when we go to Mexico and
an unshaven police officer clumsily tries to nick us for a few
pesos on a deserted road at night, and backs it up with the threat
of being taken to jail, we get confused, frightened and angry.
By the way, in our countless trips to Mexico since the late '70s,
we've never once been hit up for mordida. And with the election
of Vicente Fox, we think there is going to be less of it than
Nonetheless, it's a no brainer that the more Spanish you know, the better time you're likely to have in Mexico. Of course, those going to Ibiza will need to learn an entirely different vocabulary. It would be essential to be able to say things such as, "Are there any raves that start before 5 a.m.?" "Which drugs did we just take?" And, "Should we wear clothes to the restaurant or shall we all just go as we are?"
SOY GOLD DIESEL FUEL
A reader asked how boatowners liked Soy Gold fuel, and I'd like to respond. Five-and-a-half years ago, I repowered my Tartan 34 with a Westerbeke 30 hp diesel engine, and I have been using Soy Gold ever since then. I've found that there is no detectable diesel odor in the exhaust and no loss of power. Since I have rarely used straight diesel, I am not sure if the fuel consumption is any different. My fuel costs are higher, however, because the soy does cost more.
The only problem that I have heard of with Soy Gold is when boatowners have run high ratios of soy to regular diesel, as high ratios of the soy can deteriorate rubber seals. I use the recommended 20-25% solution of soy to diesel with no problems. I am very happy with the product and recommend it highly.
I was very interested in the 'No Room At The San Diego Inn-By-The-Sea' letter about the lack of berth and mooring spaces in Southern California. The only thing I can think to add is that there is a transient anchoring area just east of Harbor Island in San Diego Bay. I'm not sure of the limits of stay, but it's at least 30 days and maybe 90 days.
I have sailed out of San Diego and lived aboard for the last 14 years, but I'm leaving for the San Francisco Bay area. The problem is that the noise levels around here from all sources - but mostly U.S. Navy aircraft - have become intolerable. Two years ago I made a seven-month round trip to the Bay and Sacramento Delta area and loved every minute of it. Naturally, I'll be reading Latitude all the way there.
Esmeralda, Tartan 34
Jim - Thanks for your comments on Soy. There is a temporary anchorage just to the east of Harbor Island that is being reserved for the Ha-Ha boats by the San Diego Harbor Police.
I LOST MY ISSUE
I'm sure the Wanderer doesn't remember me, but I met him on the beach at Cabo San Lucas after the famous storm of '82. I was in the January '82 Yachting magazine article about the storm with Bernard Moitessier, and also in the article about the storm that appeared in your fine magazine. I would like to acquire the issue that covered the calamity, as I have lost mine.
George C. Williams
Adalante, Bounty II
George - You're correct, we don't remember
you, but we do remember your Bounty mashed between some other
boats on the beach. It's hard to fathom how destructive the ocean
can be until you see something like that. We also remember Bernard.
In fact, the accompanying photo is of his famous Joshua in the
surf at Cabo. This was just after he'd sold her to Rado and the
others for $1. They subsequently fixed her up and sailed her extensively
along the west coast and in Mexico.
As for getting back issues, just indicate which one you want and send $7 to us, attention 'Back Issues'.
Last week I took my son and a friend out for a Wednesday evening sail. It was a typical South Bay evening, with winds around 18 knots. Shortly after sunset, we hit a wind hole just north of the San Bruno Shoal. We wallowed for a while before deciding to fire up the diesel. We were discussing whether to return to Coyote Point when we noticed, in the falling darkness, a faint object about 100 feet in front of us. Soon we were able to make out a sailboarder sitting on his board. He willingly accepted our help and we soon had him and his gear aboard.
He told us that he'd been sailing from Alameda to 3rd Street - which luckily was very close to Coyote Point on the peninsula - when the wind died. He'd apparently been hollering at us, but we didn't hear him because the diesel was running. Had we come along 15 minutes later, it probably would have been so dark that we wouldn't have seen him either. The sailboarder acted somewhat blasé about what may have happened had we not spotted him, but was grateful for the six-mile ride to shore.
I didn't give a second thought to being a good mariner and offering assistance, but I was stunned by the sailboarder's lack of preparedness. He had nothing with him: no whistle, no light, no radio, no water, no flare, no paddle - and of course, no blankets to keep himself warm. Even in the summer, it gets cold on the Bay at night and the currents are wicked. Spending the night out there may have resulted in hypothermia.
What would have happened to him if we hadn't stumbled upon him? It's hard to tell. He had done one thing right by telling his family about his plans to sail across the Bay, and by the time we found him, they were beginning to worry because he was overdue. The sailboarder used our cell phone to call home, and learned they were about to call the Coast Guard. But, without a signalling device, even the Coast Guard would have had an impossible time finding him in the middle of the Bay at night.
While out sailing yesterday, I noticed several sailboarders with 'fanny packs'. I hope that they contained some minimal emergency gear. I'm glad I was able to help this fellow sailor, and will gladly do it again if the situation arises. But I would have felt terrible if I found out the following day that somebody had died because I didn't see or hear him. My request is that everyone who ventures out on the Bay - no matter on what kind of craft - please be prepared.
Coyote Point Marina
Dudley - We love seeing people out enjoying the Bay, no matter if they're on a sailboat, kayak or sailboard. In fact, we love to see the guys on the sailboards launching off our wake or just screaming across the Bay. Nonetheless, like you, we'd feel terrible if any of them died in their pursuit of casual pleasure. As such, we hope everyone makes sure they're prepared for misfortune - such as the wind dying in the evening. Judging by the incredible number of sailboarders the Coast Guard and other mariners have to assist each year, we think they might be able to do a little better job.
I was wondering if you know of any Web sites where I can look at international sailing charts?
Randy - There may be, but not that we're aware of. If you go to www.maptech.com, you can find charts for U.S. waters, but nothing beyond that.
WING ON SHING, HONG KONG
I was glad to read something in the September Latitude about Orient, a 64-foot Sparkman & Stephens designed sloop, planning to return to the Bay for a visit. She indeed was one of the great ocean racing yachts to ever call San Francisco home. For the record, however, some corrections and clarifications are in order.
Orient was built in 1937 - not in 1952 - by the Wing on Shing yard in Hong Kong. After her launch in early '38, she was shipped to New York in time for the 1938 racing season on Long Island Sound. Although she was designed by S&S, it would have been a little difficult for Olin Stephens to have overseen the project as his office was in New York City. As a matter of fact, there was some concern at the S&S office about just what was going to be delivered by the Chinese builder - particularly with regard to what all the teak would do to her designed displacement. The results weren't known until she was surveyed and measured, and the fears had been for naught as Orient turned out to be very well built and to plan. The Wing on Shing yard might very well have gotten additional work from S&S were it not for the start of World War II.
Although often identified as a cutter, Orient was a sloop. She had a very large rig with a great deal of sail area for the light to moderate sailing conditions found on the eastern seaboard. Orient's foretriangle was exactly the same size as that on the 72-ft yawl Baruna, which made it difficult for her to sail to her very high rating. Orient proved to be at her best off the wind on long ocean runs.
Tim Moseley purchased Orient in the east in '53 and brought her to San Francisco on her own bottom. That same year Jim Michael purchased Baruna and also brought her to San Francisco. In 1958, the owners of Baruna and Orient founded the Barient winch company, and introduced a new line of winches to the yachting world. They had basically been designed by Moseley and developed aboard Orient. Within a few years, Barient had pretty much captured the market for winches on large racing yachts. While the Barient Company was put out of business by new owners a few years ago, the winches built around the world today are as Moseley envisioned them in the late '50s.
Tim Moseley raced Orient to Honolulu three times. In 1955, she was dismasted the first night out. In 1957, she was second in Class A, and in '63 she was first in Class A. Later that year, Moseley sold Orient to Peter Davis, and she served as flagship of the Newport Harbor YC. From that time on Orient has remained in Southern California - but often without the loving care that Tim Moseley and Peter Davis bestowed on her. It is good to hear that she has been restored, and that we may see her back on the Bay from time to time.
By the way, Orient never "left the Bay to battle the best big sailboats of the time". It was the other way around. The best big sailboats of the time came to San Francisco to do battle with the likes of Orient, Baruna, Bolero, Good News, and Athene - to name but a few. From 1955 to 1970 the best big boat racing in the world was right here on San Francisco Bay. It caused the creation of the St. Francis Big Boat Series in 1964. We provided the racing venue, and the big boat racing world came. They still do.
Readers - We'd gotten our information from an authoritative-sounding fellow at the boatyard where most of Orient's restoration had been done. We were negligent in not checking our facts with R.C. Keefe, who is the walking history of great West Coast yachts. But the good news about our mistake is that it's prompted us to want to share some of the great Northern California sailing history that Keefe possesses.
'TUDE IS HOT
The 'tronic 'tude is hot! Keep it coming.
David - We will, we will! We started 'Lectronic Latitude on the spur of the moment one morning and had no idea how it would evolve. And we still don't, but frankly, we're pleased with the progress. It's short, quick and colorful - and as such we think it makes a great complement to the print version. If anyone out there hasn't checked it out, visit www.latitude38.com, then click on the flashing box to the right. Pretty soon we'll be offering subscriptions so nobody has to remember to visit most weekdays. The subscriptions will, of course - like Latitude 38 and the wind - be free.
SMALL CAT CRUISING
More cruisers than ever express an interest in relatively inexpensive catamarans for cruising. Since we've cruised our Gemini 105 from California to Florida, we thought we'd share our thoughts. Like a lot of people, we thought about buying a used 40-foot charter cat from the Caribbean. But they were more money than we wanted to spend. So when we decided to switch to a multihull, we felt we really had no choice but to buy a Gemini 105. We purchased ours new in Alameda in 1996 for $134,000, including the optional diesel, delivery, commissioning and taxes.
The Gemini has several drawbacks as a home afloat. The bridgedeck clearance is very low, which results in lots of banging in even moderate seas. Curiously, the older models have more rounded hulls and are therefore slower through the water, but they have more bridgedeck clearance. In heavy seas we found there was so much banging all round that the lack of bridgedeck clearance didn't much matter.
Another drawback is the displacement of 7,300 pounds. While this allows for excellent performance - especially to windward with a centerboard down - it does limit your payload. We must have been the only boat in the '98 Baja Ha-Ha that sailed on our designed waterline. But the discipline meant that we traveled with less spares than we probably should have. Luckily, we had a newer boat! As a long-term home afloat, the Gemini is a difficult boat on which to store stuff that isn't immediately required.
In general terms, even a modest-sized cat such as ours - which has a limited beam of 14 feet - offers spacious accommodations. The fact that the boat doesn't heel makes her especially comfortable underway. At anchor our boat is a really comfortable, non-rolling platform on which to live. And in the tropics, the light and airy cabin is a pleasant refuge from the sun rather than a hot and dark cave as is the case on some monohulls.
One of the nicest features of the Gemini is the 18-inch draft which, though not particularly useful on the Pacific Coast, proved invaluable in shallow, crowded anchorages in the Caribbean. It will doubtless give us added gunkholing fun in the Bahamas when we sail there - we hope - this winter.
I would have reservations about taking the Gemini across a body of water with a reputation such as the Tasman Sea. Then again, I'm not sure that I'd be comfortable aboard any 35-footer that far south. I also don't think the Gemini would be a good boat for cold climates, precisely because of all the hatches and airflow that make it such a great boat in the tropics. Furthermore, insulation is minimal and the vast expanses of window around the cabin made it a difficult boat to heat even in a marina slip during a Northern California winter.
In the end, I guess if you have a quarter million dollars or more to spend, your catamaran choices broaden. And with a bigger boat, you get more features if you want them. But our goal was not to work so much, so we rest content with our little cat. After all, we weathered storms, a grounding on a reef, a crash with a tug in the Panama Canal, and 14 months of close quarters living with our two large dogs. Yet we are not only still married, but anxious to get out there to cruise some more. So we and the boat must have got something right.
Myth or reality? No, we don't fly a hull while sailing. Yes, we only sail about as fast as your average 35 to 40-foot monohull. Yes, we once had 72 people over for a party - although we were at the Grand Hotel Marina in Barra de Navidad at the time, so no more than 24 people and two dogs were aboard at any one time. And yes, the bottom transom step was underwater.
Anyone with specific questions can email me at mikig-boat at hotmail.com.
Miki G, Gemini 105
ONE HAPPY SAILOR
Someone sent me the Changes written a few months ago by Tom and Joyce Boynton, and I feel their complaints about their Catana catamaran did French boat manufacturers an injustice. The French have been building offshore catamarans for years, while the American manufacturers are just beginning to produce something other than coastal cruisers. Like with all other products, not all manufacturers create equally good boats.
I don't own a Catana, so I can't comment specifically on those boats. But a few years ago, my wife and I found ourselves at the Annapolis Boat Show looking for our next boat. She went her way and I went mine in search of our perfect boat. When we got back together, she had narrowed her choices down to four - all catamarans. "If you want me to be aboard," she said, "it will have to be stable." This delighted me, as we'd owned and enjoyed a Piver 36 trimaran in the early '70s.
After climbing around and comparing the four boats, we selected a Fountaine-Pajot Tobago 35 - a French built offshore catamaran. We really liked the 'galley up' feature. Having picked out a boat, we started looking around for a dealer to buy it from. Here, I have to agree with some of Colin Bates's comments in the February issue, as too many of the salespeople acted like rude used car salespeople. The majority of them were good and with the program, but it was hard work culling the B.S. out of their sales pitches. We eventually hooked up with a California dealer we felt we could work with - and he set me up with a couple of owners to test sail the boat before closing on the deal. I wanted to be sure I was getting a sailboat, not a plastic party palace.
As we mulled over the decision, the dealer was in constant contract negotiations with the manufacturer to get us a better deal. After another visit to Annapolis to compare the extras on a Tobago 35 with what was standard on the Athena 38, we decided to go with the Athena. Our dealer handled everything in a professional manner - and even got the factory to throw in a few extras. Our boat arrived in San Pedro in March of '98. We received the boat as part of an offshore delivery and sailed her directly to Mexico - in 18-foot swells! Since that time, I've sailed her an average of once a week for the last two years - including numerous trips to Catalina and Mexico. We really love the boat.
Now for my 'horror story' regarding repairs. After a year, a halyard winch began making a grinding noise. We inspected it and found a failed pawl. Our dealer notified the factory - which air-freighted a replacement in less than a week. Later, the bottom seal on the main companionway had stretched out of shape. Thanks to our dealer, the factory had a new seal to us within a week. In addition to all those repair problems, I've even had to change the oil and replace the prop zincs a couple of times. Furthermore, I've had to hose our boat down a couple of times because you pick up a little spray when you do 10 to 11 knots.
Seriously, we're completely satisfied, as our boat looks as good as she did the day she came off the ship, she sails like she's supposed to, and nothing has failed.
Les Ailes d'Or, Athena 38
SPEED REQUIRES COMMITMENT
You guys do a fantastic job putting out the best boating magazine, but I want to disagree with your conclusions in the Too Fast To Be True piece - where you slammed what you believe were exaggerated claims for cruising catamaran speeds.
One piece of evidence you used to dismiss the claim that a cruising cat could average 15 knots is that Steve Fossett's world class trimaran Lakota hasn't been able to average 15 knots to Hawaii in two TransPacs. You failed to mention that Lakota lost her bowsprit in both TransPacs before they were even close to the halfway point. The inability to fly her asymmetrical kites really limited her speed off the wind.
To achieve all that's possible with a cat takes belief, understanding, ability, and focus. It also requires a good boat, great sails, good boards, great rudders, the right leads, a good rig, and technique. It's true that cat enthusiasts shouldn't over-amp the average or below average sailor with speed claims he/she will never be able to achieve - unless, of course, they make the jump to hyperspace by doing all of the above and truly have the desire for speed.
I'm sure that Morrelli and Melvin's speed prediction chart applies to what the average sailor can expect - minus special training or mental breakthroughs. It does not apply to Morrelli and Melvin, however. If pros released all their secrets, the much higher speeds that are claimed might not seem so incredible. The problem is that the average sailor expects the boat to do it on her own. But once you start riding an apparent wind machine, you're only limited by your ability and your imagination. Most multihull racers don't even understand the capacity of their vessel or grasp the concept of exceeding the speed of the wind.
I guess I left out money. Lots of money really helps. From 40 feet up, multihulls are huge and complex things. If you want to refurbish your 60-footer, you'll be into pallets of paint, pallets of sandpaper, spools of line, small truckloads of sail cloth, and a squad of highly-trained refinishers equipped with state-of-the-art air tools. You'll also require a half an acre of some boatyard. As the owner of a 40-foot tri I was painting once told me, "I love multihulls for the same reason I'm crazy about wild sexy blondes and Ferraris - and it's not because they're cheap or easy to deal with."
Waterspider - Thanks for the kind words.
With regard to catamaran speed, we think that you and we may be
talking about two different things. Our complaint was - and remains
- with people who claim that their cruising catamaran can 'cruise'
at 15 knots. But you drift into ruminations about the highest
of hi-tech boats. But even there, we must disagree with the philosophical
basis of your argument - which is that 'the speed of an apparent
wind machine is only limited by the crew's skill and imagination'.
This is nonsense, no matter if you're talking about ice boats,
dirt boats or ocean going cats and tris. There are very real physical,
design and structure limitations to ultimate speeds. It's not
uncommon, for example, for even the most rugged multihull crews
to have to back off from time to time in order to physically withstand
the punishment dished out in rough conditions.
Yes, one of the arguments we used to make our point is that Lakota has yet to average 15 knots when racing to Hawaii, one of the fastest courses in the world. True, she probably lost a knot or two in average speed because she broke her bowsprit. Similarly, Explorer's even faster crossing was slowed by the breaking of her martingale. But things break when you go through the water fast - no matter if it's Lakota or Explorer - or a cruising cat you're trying to push to the very limit.
We don't underestimate the upper limits of catamaran speed - which has a higher upside than that of monohulls. For example, Laurent Bourgnon long held the 24-hour speed record for a sailboat, having covered 540 miles in a near sistership to Lakota. But during August's Quebec to St. Malo Race - see 'Lectronic Latitude, August 11 and August 14 - Laurent's brother Yvan covered 625 miles in 24 hours, a staggering improvement of 85 miles with the same boat. Such major leaps of progress are not surprising. But remember, our complaint is with high speed claims for cruising cats, not ultra racing machines where each crewmember gets one spoon and one bowl, where they have to poop through a small hole in the netting, and where it's necessary to wear a life-harness to safely cross from one hull to the other. That's not cruising.
A month or so ago, there was another report in an international sailing magazine where the builders of a new 43 or so foot cruising cat claimed that they were sailing at up to 23 knots in 15 knots of true wind. We're not saying these people are lying, just that their speedo hadn't been calibrated. In fact, we and some other cruising cat owners are so fed up with exaggerated claims of cruising cat speed that we're willing to back our belief with cash. We're willing to pay $1,000 for the first legitimate cruising cat that can average 15 knots from the Yellow Bluff Buoy off Sausalito to the Blackaller Buoy off San Francisco, a pefect flatwater speed course. We'll let the challengers pick the day and have three tries at it. All they have to do is be willing to donate $250 to charity if they fail, and admit that if they can't do 15 knots across the Bay in perfect conditions, there is no way they could cruise at that speed for 24 hours on the ocean.
We're going to close by disagreeing with your claim that big cats are necessarily complex - or, as your friend said, "as difficult to deal with as sexy blondes". We took over 100 people out on Profligate in August, from 'at risk kids' in the AmericaTrue program, to the winner of a Safe Grads Night at Redwood High, to Internet groups, to Billy Martinelli, owner of the lumber scow replica Gas Light. They'd all tell you that sailing Profligate, even in bursts in excess of 15 knots is - thanks to the long hulls and self-tacking jib - simple. The secret is - contrary to what you suggest - just letting the boat do all the work. While Profligate was obviously not cheap to build, her simplicity also means she requires relatively little maintenance and that the sailing hours to maintenance hours ratio is better than on any boat we've owned.
PETS IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC
We have a white Persian cat of which we are very fond - the understatement of the decade. The cat was raised on the boat and traveled to Mexico with us when we did the Ha-Ha in '97. He stayed on the boat for the 18 months we spent down in Mexico, and did the Baja Bash back up to San Diego with us last May.
We're now looking into the possibility of going to the South Pacific, and would appreciate whatever knowledge that you have on the limitations of carrying a cat there. What countries would not allow us to enter? What other countries would make it very costly and difficult? I thought that I read somewhere that at least Britain - and maybe British settled countries - were granting passports for animals. Also, what would the situation be like if we were to continue around the world, such as through the Red Sea to the Med?
Most of all, are we going to have to choose between our cat and the South Pacific?
Sylvia - We're not experts on this, but
we think the only places you'll have real troubles are in New
Zealand - long and expensive quarantine - and Australia - recently
reduced quarantine and expense. We'd like to hear from those with
more exact and recent information.
GLOBALSTAR AND OTHER SATELLITE PHONE SYSTEMS
I had occasion to use a Qualcomm phone in satellite mode on the Globalstar system during the last couple of weeks of May while in Mexico. Prior to that, I had used a $3,000 briefcase type phone - although I can't remember the brand. I was able to make outbound calls from Mexico using Globalstar, but could not receive them. I believe this was true up to 200 miles offshore.
Today I spent about an hour looking at the Globalstar Websites, and found what seemed to be a jumble of conflicting information. It says they have coverage in Mexico, which I didn't find to be the case. In addition, I thought it was just about impossible to figure out what a call will cost, as the prices are set at so much per minute - plus an unspecified charge for the long distance service. Who knows how much that will be? I suggest that the buyers beware.
Captain Mike Maurice
Capt. Mike - Come the middle of November,
we're going to know a whole lot more about how well the Qualcomm
phones and Globalstar satellite system work in Mexico. This is
because Qualcomm/Globalstar is the official communication system
of the Baja Ha-Ha, and because a number of members of the fleet
have purchased their phones and satellite service for use during
the Ha-Ha and while cruising in Mexico. In addition, the Grand
Poobah will be using the Qualcomm/Globalstar system to send daily
photos back to the States for posting on the 'Lectronic
Latitude site. For the time being, nobody else will have this
According to Carole Schurch, who represents Qualcomm and Globalstar, ever since the service started it was always possible to make high quality satellite telephone calls from Mexico back to the States, but you could not receive calls on the phones in Mexico. The problem was, how can we say this delicately, 'non technical' in nature. As of late September, it was expected to be solved "any day now".
When it comes to the cost of phones, phone rates, and service areas, Schurch admits that it has been confusing but recently has become clearer. One tip is to use the Globalstar USA site, not any of the others, because it's the provider that Americans would use and has the most accurate information on coverage and roaming charges. Better yet, give Schurch a call at (800) 475-5158, and she'll answer all your questions. In addition, Schurch will be at both the Ha-Ha Crew List Party and Reunion at the Encinal YC on October 3 starting at 6:00 p.m., and then again at the Ha-Ha Costume and Kick-Off Party at Cabrillo Isle Marina in San Diego on October 29 starting at noon. She'll be giving demonstrations and fielding questions.
When we've used the Qualcomm satellite phone with the Globalstar system, the sound quality has been excellent. And there is obviously some demand for it among cruising sailors. We're confident that it's going to work.
By way of introduction, my name is Dr. Jacqueline Maupu. I am a visiting French lawyer who specializes in what you would define as corporate/environmental affairs of law. Naturally, my attention and interest is large vis a vis environment pollution and redress of the like of the Exxon Valdez tragedy. As you may know, France has sustained much tragic coastal pollution in many tanker disasters. Of course, the issue of pollution in Europe is not limited to the nautical. I have been engaged in the study and analysis of litigation in Europe and Asia, and now in the United States.
As a sailor, I read the 'Just a Token Cleanup' letter by Joe Bennett - and his lack of redress for the personal loss he sustained from the Exxon-Mobil spill. What particularity received my attention was your editorial comment that Bennett is a victim of Exxon and of "the American legal system" - with the latter being the principal culprit.
I do not know if you print criticism of your belief, but as one who has been professionally involved in redress for fishermen, coast resort communities, and other victims of water and coastal pollution due to ship groundings in Europe and Asia, I wish to assure you that American lawyers and its justice system are far more sensitive to the plight of the little people than in Europe and Asia. In Europe and Asia, great ships or refinery corporations pay a token fee in penalties. That is the tradition in such matters. The government and corporations remain cordial - except on the rare occasion where a criminal penalty is levied. In the reality, the actual victims receive only small compensation through the government.
The American lawyer has been successful in making guilty parties responsible outside of criminal justice and in exacting civil monetary punishment from a guilty corporation. With frequency, I hear American citizens complain of civil litigation. But before you speak, consult foreign victims who have no redress against government and corporations - which are very often the same entity.
My belief is that your justice system is slower but more sensitive, and that because of furiously battling lawyers, Exxon will eventually be pressured into redress for small victims. In Europe, on the other hand, it would be a matter of a loving kiss of government by the corporate and legal establishment.
Dr. Jacqueline G. V. Maupu
Dr. Jacqueline - We don't like to be so cynical, but our sincere belief is that the American system of justice is fundamentally lawyer and money driven - and largely corrupt. Among our complaints: 'justice' often goes to the highest bidder, that extortion is not only permitted but encouraged, and that for all practical purposes the majority of the population is denied access to the system. True, some American lawyers have been successful in making guilty companies pay for damages, but it's also devastatingly true that some American lawyers - armed with junk scientists and 'professional experts' gladly willing to lie for a fee - have been successful in bankrupting companies and their employees for damages they never caused. If you shoot somebody, you're considered innocent until proven guilty; but if you're a business being shook down by a lawyer, you're guilty until you can prove beyond all unreasonable doubt that you're innocent. It's a system that breeds crooks, slimeballs and parasites - and where justice is beside the point. So if Bennett first got screwed by the oil spill and then by the system of justice, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. So many lawyers, so little justice - if you stick around America awhile, you'll understand.
WINTER IN THE DELTA?
It looks as if I'll be out of the Puget Sound area and down the coast next summer, but some non-sailing related considerations may mean I'll need to stay in the U.S. for one more winter season. As a result, I'm looking at choices from Brookings, Oregon, down to the Sacramento Delta region. Can you refer me to any articles or Web sites that would provide information? I would hope to spend most of the time on the hook.
Michael - If you provided us with more specifics of what you're looking for, we could have better answered your question or better directed you to a resource. To each their own, but we think it would be a little on the dangerous and uncomfortable side to spend a winter on the hook anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. Some folks winter over in the Delta, but it gets cold as hell that far in from the ocean, and many businesses shut down. If you have the freedom to be wherever you want as long as you're in the United States, we'd spend the winter on a mooring in Catalina, where it's warm, cheap, close to everything you need, and would allow plenty of opportunities for mini cruises along the coast. Folks who've done it tend to rave about it.
LOST YOUR SENSE OF DIRECTION?
It happened when we were eight days out of Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, bound for California returning the Santa Cruz 50 Octavia from the Pacific Cup. The winds were light, so we were motoring and dragging fishing lines, when one of the crew spotted something floating. We circled about 50 yards around it hoping there might me a mahi mahi hanging out beneath it. When we closed in a little further someone said, "Shit, that's a sailboat rudder - a hi-tech one!"
As we closed in even further, we could see that it definitely was a rudder. About eight to nine feet long, it wasn't elliptical, but it was a high aspect spade rudder. Judging from the way it was floating, it must have been very light. Probably carbon fiber or something like that. There was no shaft showing, so it appeared to have broken at the bottom bearing.
"It was a bad day for the crew when that broke," exclaimed one of our guys.
We came across the rudder at 35°02'N, 114°,27W. Anyone have any information on what boat it might have come from? If so, please contact captjohn at aloha.net. Aloha.
Octavia, SC 50
John - It's a mystery to us - particularly if it wasn't covered in barnacles. Can anybody else help?
FM3 IS NOT A NEW RADIO STATION
We have some information to share with southbound cruisers who anticipate staying in Mexico for an extended period of time, and who perhaps plan on getting a temporary residency permit - the FM3 - while still in the United States. It's possible, for example, to get one from the Mexican Consulate in San Diego. This information is important, because last season several cruisers were fined because they got their FM3s in the States, entered Mexico with them, but didn't understand the additional requirement that they establish a domicile within 30 days.
In Mexico, the FM3 is similar to the 'green card' that legal aliens get for the United States. It doesn't give you the right to work, but does allow you to live temporarily in Mexico with multiple exits and reentries allowed. If you're only staying a short time, you get a tourist card, and have to get and turn in one each time you cross the border.
Having had such a great time in Mexico, we decided to stay in the country for longer than the six months we had originally planned. Having to leave the country to renew a visa every six months didn't seem attractive to us, so we decided to get FM3 documents. These only have to be renewed once a year, and you don't have to leave the country to do it. We left Mazatlan in April this year when our visas were almost expired and, instead of getting them renewed, initiated getting our FM3s at the Mexican Consulate in San Diego.
The Consulate gives you a list of requirements: copies of various documents, proof of financial worth, and what photos and other documentation you need to present. At the time we got our FM3s, the fee was $88.00 U.S. - cash only. The consulate likes to see six month's worth of bank statements showing a monthly deposit of $1,000 for you and $500 per dependent. They're just looking for assurances that you're not an indigent who needs to find work in Mexico. They readily accepted our mutual fund statements showing our year-end holding. Two hours after filling out our applications, we had our FM3 books - they come in passport format. They clearly stated, in English, that we had to get them stamped at a point of entry within 90 days or they became invalid. We did this on our return flight to Mazatlan.
If you don't read Spanish, however, you might miss the rule printed inside the front page that states you have to establish a permanent residence in Mexico within 30 days of getting your FM3 stamped. If you neglect to do this, you'll get fined when it comes time to renew the document the following year.
In our case, we went right away to immigration in Mazatlan and got the word on what to do. It didn't cost us anything but time and a few more passport photos - plus a letter in Spanish from the Harbormaster at Marina Mazatlan stating that we were permanently domiciled there, even though we would be traveling throughout Mexico. We also had to have three forms, provided and required by Immigration, typed in Spanish. The ladies at the Mazatlan Immigration office who handle FM3s are among the nicest we've ever met, being gracious to a fault. As usual, if you're nice to them, they'll be nice to you.
We are required to return to Mazatlan for the renewal of our FM3 a year from the day we entered the country on the FM3. If we wanted to renew in another location - say San Carlos or La Paz - we need to go through a change of address procedure at the new location, involving a small fee, more photos and forms, and more time. Big deal, as it would still be better than having to leave the country every six months to get a new visa.
It's also possible to get an FM3 after arriving in Mexico, but we don't have any firsthand experience.
Mike and Anne Kelty
Santa Rosalia, BCS, and Points North
Mike & Anne - "Decided to stay in Mexico longer than we anticipated . . ." Do we hear that all the time or what?
SNAKE AND WHALE'S TALES
I'm writing in response to the July issue report about a man falling into a whale, and a woman dying as a result of being bitten by a coral snake lying among pineapples at a La Paz market. The coral snake story is true, although it happened several years ago in Mazatlan, not La Paz. I think it was even reported in Latitude. According to the story, the woman might have been saved if someone had administered CPR or given her an antihistamine to keep her alive until the medics arrived. Maybe a cruising doctor could comment on this.
As for the man falling into the guts of a dead whale, a couple of years ago I was anchored in the north anchorage of San Evaristo about 55 miles north of La Paz. This spot affords a clear view of the San Jose Channel. Looking towards the channel, I saw what appeared to be a cat-ketch rig moving into the southerly. The sails were almost black and the skipper was leaning back and holding on to something. Upon closer inspection with the binoculars, I saw two huge killer whales in staggered formation so that they did resemble a sailing rig with their giant dorsals. And attached to the dorsal of the aft killer - oops, orca - was a line attached to a water skier.
Do I get a free T-shirt?
Bill - What a pair of incongruous stories - that prove once again you have to be skeptical of everything you read, including what's in Latitude. The less specific the pertinent facts - who, what, where and when - the greater skepticism readers should have. As for the killer whales pulling water-skiing cruisers behind them in the Sea of Cortez, it's so common that no corroboration is necessary. So, no, you don't get a T-shirt. And what does that have to do with the guy who fell into the whale carcass?
COMPUTERS FOR TORTUGAS
Thanks for a wonderful Baja Ha-Ha 2000; we've signed up to do it again with our boat LogOn. Last year you made several suggestions of goods to be donated or traded while in Mexico, so this year we thought we would donate an older computer or two to people in Turtle Bay. As the first stop for the Ha-Ha in Mexico, we thought a couple of computers might help the locals improve their services in a number of ways.
In discussing this concept with a friend, we came upon an organization - RAFT, Resource Area For Teachers - which refurbishes computers and donates them to schools. Usually the organization's donations are much larger than anything we were considering: 40 or so computers and associated support equipment. They work with the school to insure that support for the computers is available. This organization has never donated outside the U.S., but they do have a number of older computers of 486 to early Pentium vintage that are no longer being refurbished for U.S. schools - which might be donated to the Tortugas school or other deserving organizations in Mexico. By the way, we were impressed with the Tortugas school, as it was clean, fenced and very well kept.
Nevertheless, for donated computers to make sense, they have to have knowledgeable personnel to maintain them. And there might possibly be import restrictions. The bottom line is that we're looking for some guidance as to whether the Tortugas School system would be interested in a donation of computers. Do you have any contacts in Tortugas or any suggestions? We would like to get the donating organization together with the Tortugas people if this makes any sense.
Doug and Nancy Peltzer
Doug & Nancy - As you point out,
donating a bunch of computers to such a remote place doesn't make
sense unless someone there knows how to operate and troubleshoot
them. We don't know if anyone does or how to find out. For the
short term, we'd bring an old computer or two with you and check
out the situation in Turtle Bay first hand. If it turns out not
to make sense, you could easily donate them in a more urban area
where there are people who are computer savvy.
Bringing computers to donate is terrific, of course. But the easiest way an American cruiser can make a big impact on a life in Mexico is by bringing bags of clothes and shoes, and maybe a few simple toys. Then make sure these are distributed in the more rural areas, which is where the really poor people tend to live. In fact, shame on any southbound cruiser who doesn't bring at least a small bag of clothes to share with those less fortunate. By the way, if you can't find really poor people, drop them off with Norm Goldie in San Blas, who will see that they get distributed in the mountains where young children sometimes die from the cold.
Regarding your coverage of this summer's Pac Cup Race to Kaneohe Bay - specifically your rather odd choice of words to describe how my son Brendan and I were able to sail our beautiful 25-year-old Contessa 35 to that unprecedented lead we established by day three of the race. You said in the photo caption (under a marvelous photo), "The Huffmans blissfully sailed into the Montara Hole. . . ." and later in the text of the article you said again that we blissfully sailed into that hole where all you brilliant local sailors know not to go - anytime.
That scenario is far from the way things actually went during that first slow night. Very soon after our breezy start, La Diana led the fleet out under the Golden Gate. Once outside, the wind lightened to about six or eight knots and we changed up from our roller furling working jib to our excellent UK Tape Drive 135% roller furling genoa, our largest headsail. The light wind was directly from where we wanted to go - Hawaii - and I'm afraid all those racers who had chosen to go with jibs only were frustrated for lack of power as the head-winds lightened even more.
La Diana is a very good light air boat and we stayed in front, all the while carefully covering our fleet. By sundown, in foggy conditions, we were out to the Farallones. We were still all beating to weather and neither tack was heading anywhere near the desired race course. Our fleet seemed to be favoring the port tack, heading up the coast, even though it was much slower due to the increasing head seas. As the night progressed, we both agreed that the starboard tack was so much faster that we must go that way in our efforts to get away from the coast as quickly as possible and into the hoped-for NW wind farther offshore. So, although we didn't relish the risk of splitting with our fleet, we figured that most boats would probably tire of bucking that chop and follow La Diana south on starboard tack. However, La Diana sailed south alone!
By about midnight, we lost sight of the other boats. La Diana was at least 20 miles outside Point Montara as the wind gradually lifted us to our course. (The course, incidentally, that my brother Jerry Huffman - navigator of a dozen TransPacific races - wrote on a post-it above my chart table: "If you can't decide on a better course, steer 232 degrees."). It also freshened to 16-20 knots and we beam-reached at hull speed for two days! We had no idea that we had a 'private' wind until the 0900 roll call position reports showed La Diana was about 40 miles ahead of the next boat. La Diana was launched in a fashion I have never heard of in any of my previous nine TransPac races!
During the balance of this most unusual race, we were able to hold onto our early lead until about day 10, when the sleds passed south of us. Kokopelli2 passed us the last day about two miles to starboard, and Osprey swooshed past a few yards to leeward minutes before we finished late at night.
I can assure you that on La Diana, Brendan and I worked very, very hard to keep our lead. We had a wonderful time and congratulate the Pacific Cup YC for the superlative running of this year's race.
Marina del Rey
Fred - Skunked by Montara again! Us, that is - along with a large chunk of the Pacific Cup fleet whose 'local knowledge' is what probably kept any boats from following you. Congratulations on your fine performance and on keeping an open mind around this notorious area. We wish La Diana continued 'blissful' sailing - and resulting success - in the future.
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