TURTLES AND MARLBOROS
I'm responding to the letter concerning turtles eating cigarette
butts. I have found this to be true. In fact, turtles addicted
to cigarettes may be found on many South Sea islands bumming
smokes from the yachties. It is not a pretty sight to see them
with their crudely printed signs that read, "Will give turtle
rides for Marlboros." I hope this clears up the mystery.
Holy Man Gone Bad
"That's all I can stand, I can't stands no more!" to
quote a famous sailor. Letters from boaters reprimanding guests
for tossing a cigar butt into the Bay. Claims of seaweed encrusted
cigarettes killing turtles. How naive and gullible can some people
be? I know, I know, their hearts are in the right place, but
they chastise guests on boats for insignificant acts while millions
of gallons of waste and pollution flow into the Bay and under
their keels daily - and they never raise a voice in protest.
As proof, I would invite them to visit a spot in the South Bay
located at 37°39.9' N, 122°21.8' W. This is the location
of the discharge pipe from the local sewage treatment plant and
it's well noted on the charts. It's also easy to find because
of the huge upwelling of 'water' that flows almost constantly.
The pipe opening lies in 15 feet of water and is less than a
mile from the entrance to a very popular marina - which has a
I've lived aboard my motorsailer at that marina for years and
have had an office on my boat. When it was time for lunch, I
would often grab a sandwich, soda and fishing rod, then jump
into the dinghy and spend an hour trying to catch 'the big one'.
I bring this up because the discharge pipe is usually one of
the local fishing hot spots - as long as you practice 'catch
and release'. For the effluent from this pipe is often a 'soup'
of solids containing everything that landlubbers place into their
toilets, garbage disposers and drains. This includes 'guano',
plastics and yes, cigar and cigarette butts. These supposedly
'treated' solids usually attract the wildlife - including fishermen.
I say 'usually', because on occasion the discharge has a distinct
black color along with a particularly odious smell. At those
times, it is so disgusting and putrid that even seagulls won't
land or swim in it. Folks familiar with seagulls can appreciate
the implications of this statement. I don't mean to single out
this location, as I suppose all sewage treatment plants share
in this habit. But I do resent having to carry my own 'discharge'
around like it was nuclear waste, while entire municipalities
freely dump theirs into our Bay. In this day and age, I consider
this practice a slap in the face. By comparison, a cigar butt
constitutes less pollution than a fart in a hurricane.
The tragedy is that our government - with the 'environmental'
Vice President - is the greatest polluter. From MTBE poisoning
our groundwater and heavy metals at Hunter's Point to beach closures
from sewage spills - ever hear of a beach closure due to cigar
butts? - our 'Republicrats' turn a blind eye to the real causes
of pollution. Instead, they criminalize our activities and restrict
our freedoms as a smokescreen. Sadly, most of the population
buys into this smokescreen with no sense of logic. Even those
charged with pollution control - such as BayKeeper, Clean Bay,
and the Coast Guard, who fly over the site daily - ignore these
I applaud Latitude's efforts to get municipalities to
be more responsive to boaters' needs. But mooring buoys and dinghy
docks are only the tip of the iceberg. These governments need
to be held accountable for their share of our environmental problems.
Perhaps we need a forum in your fine magazine to alert the public
to these sources of obvious pollution. How about a Classy Sludge
or Loose Sphincter section? Once these things get greater exposure,
maybe our tax dollars could be directed to truly benefiting our
environment - as opposed to denuding Angel Island or poisoning
lakes to kill non-indigenous species.
If mariners really want to clean up our Bay, they shouldn't chastise
their guests about cigar butts, but rather complain to their
representatives about government pollution. Better yet, let's
all send our holding tanks to Washington, DC, in protest. They
need them much more than we mariners! As for me, I'm thinking
of mounting a toilet seat on the bowsprit in protest - I may
even install an ash tray and magazine rack. Just kidding. Hell,
I don't even smoke.
Thanks for letting me rant about a sore subject. Keep up the
greatest boating magazine - and website - on the planet. It is
the only example where advertising is welcome aboard my boat.
On The Primordial Soup
John - If anybody doubts what you're
saying, they should visit the nearest storm outlet into the Bay
after it rains for the first time in a few days. What pours into
the Bay by the tens of millions of gallons is a disgusting mix
of oil, grease, solvents, fertilizer, animal feces, human waste
and countless other types of pollution. In Southern California,
such pollution flows into the ocean at an estimated rate of nearly
three trillion gallons a year. Under normal dry conditions, the
number of Southern California beaches that are low risk for fecal
bacteria is 174, while the number that are high risk is just
15. After a rain and runoff, however, the low risk number of
beaches drops to 42, while the high risk group explodes to 162.
Northern California sewer treatment facilities have a long record
of being overwhelmed, permitting monumental amounts of raw and
partially treated sewage to flow in the Bay and ocean. The ironic
thing is how different amounts are viewed. When a sewage treatment
plant allowed 350,000 gallons of raw sewage to spill into the
narrow San Rafael Canal that flows into the Bay, officials said,
"It's nothing to be concerned about." But if a little
piece of poop was ever found in a marina, so-called environmentalists
would proclaim a catastrophe to any newspaper that would listen.
The encouraging news is that many environmental organizations
have backed off from scapegoating mariners as the source of all
water pollution, and have identified government, industry and
the general public as the biggest sources. Oddly enough, many
say that of the three groups, industry has made the most progress.
No matter what, let's all do as much as we reasonably can to
keep the Bay and ocean as clean as possible.
COUCH SURFING WITH THE IN-LAWS
I hope you'll allow me to use Latitude to sincerely and
publicly thank my wife and kids for sticking with our goal of
going cruising and participating in the 2000 Ha-Ha. It hasn't
always been easy.
About three years ago, my wife Shari agreed to sell our very
comfortable house in San Diego, along with most everything in
it, to finance the purchase of our dream cruising boat. The plan
was to fly to Martinique, take delivery of our used catamaran,
and sail her to and through the Panama Canal. There we would
turn the boat over to a delivery crew, who would then deliver
her as far as Ensenada. We leased a small duplex to live in while
this took place.
That was the plan. The reality was that Shari and the kids had
to fly home from Martinique empty-handed as it were, because
the boat wasn't ready to sail. Six long months later, we had
lost the lease on the dumpy little duplex and had to collectively
start couch surfing at the in-laws. All the while, Daphne, our
four-year-old, kept asking for her house back. How embarrassing.
Meanwhile, the boat's "rebuilt engine" packed it in
somewhere around Acapulco, but was able to limp north to Puerto
Vallarta. The boat spent the next few months luxuriating in Marina
Vallarta, while we continued commuting back and forth to work
and school from the couch. In a final effort to repower the boat,
Shari and our friend David Schuell headed south with a used engine
in the back of his Ford Explorer, hoping to rendezvous with the
new delivery crew in Cabo San Lucas. Thankfully, David had the
presence of mind to buy all the Mexican insurance he could before
crossing the border. The insurance came in handy when he and
Shari were run off the road by some North Americanos trailering
jet skis. Dave's truck was totalled, leaving our new used engine
lying in the high desert. By the grace of God, they made it to
Cabo, and assisted with the installation of the engine. As our
entry form suggests, the story has a happy ending.
Now that we're about to start the Ha-Ha, I want everyone to know
how fortunate I feel to have a wife who has been willing to do
whatever it takes - including schlepping (rowing) kids, laundry,
groceries and ice in all types of weather, at all hours of the
day and night, out to our mooring. And for living without refrigeration
and hot water for the past two years. Shari has been wonderful.
Thanks, family! I love you and am so proud that you never gave
up the dream when others were telling us that we were crazy -
and I was beginning to believe them. I wouldn't trade you for
all the bad ass, winch grinding, salt encrusted, sled gods in
California. Our family rocks!
See Life, Kennex 445
Monte - Way to go, dad!
THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN MENTIONED
This summer's West Marine Pacific Cup, 'The Fun Race to Hawaii',
was challenging for both the racers and race committee members
alike. Uncharacteristically light winds for many days produced
slower than normal crossings for most of the fleet. As a member
of the Pacific Cup YC board and the West Marine representative
on the board, I'd like to explain how we came to some of the
decisions that were questioned in recent letters to Latitude.
We pick the starting times and time limit for the race approximately
one year before the start, and these are then published and distributed
in the Notice of Race. It's not that we can't change the Notice
of Race, but these dates have been formulated based on what happened
in the Pacific Cups between 1980 and 1998. We know how long it
takes boats to get to the Islands under a variety of conditions,
and we also have a pretty good idea of how much time people can
spend in Hawaii before they have to return to the 'real world'.
By having staggered starts, with slow boats leaving up to four
days ahead of the big sleds, everybody should normally finish
within a couple of days of each other.
But this year, due to a poorly defined Pacific High, we had conditions
not unlike the Singlehanded TransPac of '82, in which the winds
were very light at the start and the middle of the race. As a
result, a lot of boats either dropped out by firing up their
engines or continued sailing and didn't arrive in Hawaii until
after the time limit had expired.
As a result, the race committee was placed in a difficult position.
Unlike around the buoy races, you can't equitably shorten the
course, and if you extend the time limit after the event has
started, it opens the door to changing other rules in the middle
of the game. Those who suggested that the Awards Ceremony should
have been delayed probably don't realize the enormous preparations
that are involved or the number of racers whose plane reservations
for home are early the next day. The Law of Unintended Consequences
guarantees every well-intentioned change of a published schedule
will be responded to with irate responses by those affected.
One area where I could have done a better job is acknowledging
the hard work and tremendous efforts put in by those crews that
weren't able to finish within the time limit. The Pacific Cup
is a race in which the emphasis has always been on having fun
rather than beating the other guy. So those crews that were still
battling to finish while the awards ceremony was going on, and
particularly those who finished during the awards ceremony, should
have been recognized. This was my oversight, and I extend my
sincere apologies to all of you.
West Marine was proud to again be the title sponsor for one of
the largest ocean races in the world, and we look forward to
an even better - and windier - Pacific Cup in 2002.
West Marine Representative to the Pacific Cup YC Board
Readers - We agree with Chuck that once
the race started it would have been impossible to extend the
official time limit or change the date of the awards ceremony.
Extending the time limit by a couple of days sounds simple, but
actually would have required that the huge team of volunteers
continue their 24-hour a day duties in the radio shack, up on
the hill, on the tow boats and on the dock. Unfortunately, these
folks had families and jobs they had to get back to. As such,
the only possible solution would have been for the remaining
boats to have re-started in the middle of the ocean with an unofficial
race of their own. Everybody in a division could have reported
their distance to the finish, then calculated the results based
on the best average speed. No, it wouldn't have been perfect,
but it would have maintained something of a structure that makes
such an event so enjoyable.
I picked up a copy of the Latitude's free First Timer's
Cruising Guide To Mexico as I left the Crew List Party at
the Encinal YC, and I want to commend you on an excellent piece
of work. It should be required reading for any cruiser going
to Mexico, no matter if they are going on the Ha-Ha or not.
But I'd like make one clarification. When it comes to your comments
on 'Charts and Cruising Guides', you write the following: "When
Charlie and the other authors say their charts are 'Not to be
used for navigation,' they mean it." I don't know if you've
noticed or not, but there are no such caveats on the various
cruising guides I produce for the Sea of Cortez. You see, I assume
that the reason cruisers buy charts is to aid their safe navigation
of those waters. As such, I do not use the old 1873-5 government
charts for my grids and shorelines. True, these Defense Mapping
Agency charts served me well for over 40 years in the Sea of
Cortez when we sailed with nothing but a compass and my eyes
for navigation. However, now that we have GPS telling us within
feet of where we actually are, such inaccurate charts can be
And these charts can be more than a little inaccurate and dangerous.
For example, #21008 Golfo De California, Northern Part, is as
much as two miles off station at Santa Rosalia and to the north.
And it's a mile off around Conception Bay, up at Puerto Refugio,
and north of San Carlos on the mainland. These errors are naturally
perpetuated in all of the copies of these charts, whether paper
or electronic. This is why I use the only modern survey made
of the Sea of Cortez. Back in the '60s, the United States and
Mexico did a well controlled aerial survey of all of Mexico,
and all the current topographical charts for Mexico are based
on that data. These maps have proved out nicely with GPS.
A few weeks ago, we had occasion to make our way into the little
harbor at Santa Rosalia. There was a rambunctious squall, and
naturally it was the middle of the night. We'd plotted a waypoint
off the harbor entrance from my Santa Rosalia Mini-Guide, and
as nearly as we could tell in the dark, it put us right where
we expected to be. Had we taken this waypoint off #21008, we
would have been a mile or so inland.
Although using those original charts may be 'romantic', you have
to remember they are not accurate. The 'Not For Navigation' caveat
should be on those oldies as well as many of the current 'sketch
Readers - Gerry Cunningham has been
cruising the Sea of Cortez since the mid-'60s and knows what
he's talking about. He is the author of the Cruising Guide to the Middle Gulf, the Cruising
Guide to the Lower Gulf, and several other guides to the Sea
of Cortez. Our comments about not using charts for navigation
was aimed at the sketches of anchorages, so we're glad he reminded
us of the problems with the main charts.
Just to remind everyone, if you take off for Mexico - or just
about anywhere else - and rely solely on GPS and charts, you're
asking for big trouble. The problem is not with GPS, which is
very accurate, but with the charts, which in many cases are based
on very old and sometimes imprecise data. If you sail close to
shore down the Pacific Coast of Baja and check your GPS positions
versus the paper charts, you'll see that they often don't agree.
This is yet another reason why mariners are always advised never
to rely on just one aid to navigation. Unless it's perfectly
clear when we're approaching the coast, we'll use our paper charts,
GPS, depthsounder, radar and one or more cruising guides. There's
just no such thing as too much information.
For those interested, it's possible to download the text of our
First Timer's Guide to Cruising Mexico by visiting Baja Ha-Ha, and clicking
in the appropriate spots. If anyone has any suggestions on how
to improve it, email Richard.
RIGHT OF WAY UNDER SAIL
On Sunday, October 8, I was invited to go out on a small powerboat
to watch the Blue Angels perform over San Francisco Bay. We found
an area that wasn't too crowded and were enjoying the show when
a sailboat, with all sails set, approached us from astern. "We
have right of way," the skipper yelled over and over as
they approached from astern. It looked as if they would hit us
amidships, but my friend was barely able to get us out of the
way. We came within two feet of being hit. The skipper then continued
on and almost rammed a catamaran. Perhaps this character's friends
- if he has any - could point out to him that overtaking boats
don't have the right of way.
I own and live aboard a sailboat, but must admit that the number
of sailboats with sails in the mass of spectator boats made me
nervous. I hate the idea of yet another rule or regulation, so
perhaps these people could voluntarily drop their sails in such
RESCUE AT SEA
On August 11, the Chevron Washington was 1,100 miles off
the California coast. While in the process of making a routine
product run between Hawaii and Oregon, they heard a distress
call and soon diverted to a sailboat 80 miles away. Tech. Sgt.
David Armstrong of the Air Force Reserves recounts what happened:
Around 2 p.m., the Chevron Washington responded to a vessel
in distress. The sailboat's mast had broken and one of the crewman
had suffered a severe back injury. The crew of the Chevron
Washington diverted from their course to render assistance
by lowering their liferaft and taking the injured crewman from
the sailboat to the tanker. As soon as he was on the Chevron
Washington, treatment was initiated.
Transporting the injured sailor to the tanker was an amazing
feat due to the difficulties involved in raising and lowering
a lifeboat at sea, and because the injured man could not move
his lower limbs and was having trouble breathing. Two of the
crew members, 2nd Mate Charlie Cutter and Chief Engineer Tom
Morris, had previous emergency medical technician training, and
therefore were able to give oxygen to the patient and to also
catheterize him. Both crew members attempted to start an IV,
but were unsuccessful. During treatment, the U.S. Air Force Reserve
Rescue Squadron was called upon to begin a rescue effort. Four
pararescuemen, including myself, were flown by C-130 to the ship's
position 1,100 miles off the coast of California.
We arrived around 11:30 p.m., and parachuted into the water with
medical equipment and an inflatable Zodiac boat. At 12:30 a.m.,
we were alongside the Washington and were assisted onboard
by the crew and the ship's crane. We immediately started an IV,
continued giving oxygen, and inserted a breathing tube in the
patient's chest to relieve the blood collected in his collapsed
lung. As time passed, the oxygen we brought onboard, as well
as the ship's medical supply, was running low. At this time,
it was imperative that the patient continue to be supplied with
oxygen. The crew informed us that they had welder's oxygen onboard,
and after discussions with a doctor on shore, it was decided
that the welder's oxygen would be adequate.
For the next 36 hours, the crew of the Chevron Washington
worked diligently to maintain our oxygen supply by refilling
our small bottles from their large welder's tanks. The captain
and his crew made us feel very welcome and comfortable by providing
us with a stateroom. This allowed us to continue round-the-clock
treatment and still get some rest. The ship's steward, Krista
Bjelde, made sure we had meals and beverages available even when
we weren't able to make it to the galley.
Due to the severity of the patient's condition, Capt. Toledo
decided to change course in order to get the ship close enough
to land so it would be accessible to rescue helicopters. Prior
to the rescue, Capt. Toledo held a safety briefing on the sequence
of events that would take place when the helicopter arrived.
I was very impressed by the professionalism and coordination
shown by his crew. At approximately 3:00 p.m. on August 13, two
HH-60 rescue helicopters arrived on scene and hoisted the patient
and two pararescuemen off the ship. They were flown safely to
a hospital in Portland, Oregon, where the patient was admitted
into the intensive care unit.
If not for the valiant efforts of Capt. Toledo, the Chevron
Washington, and her entire crew, the injured man would not
have survived. We could not have performed our medical or rescue
efforts on the sailboat. Our most sincere thanks to: Capt. Gary
Toledo, 1st Mate Robert Carr, 2nd Mate Charlie Cutter, 3rd Mate
Joe Campos, Chief Engineer Tom Morris, 1st Engineer Earl White,
2nd Engineer Jim Dyer, 3rd Engineer Kevin Bardwell, Engineer
Cadet Jason Marin, Bosun John McNeill, A. B. Dimos Frantzesko,
A. B. Rolly Mendoza, A. B. Ray Morales, A. B. Mike Nielsen, A.
B. Anton Seravaseiy, A. B. Gabe Sipin, Steward Krista Bjelde,
Messman Arturo Pacana, Utility Doug Ensminger.
The letter was signed by David S. Armstrong of U.S. Air Force
Reserves 304th Rescue Squadron, 939th Rescue Wing.
Chevron Public Affairs
Readers - As Latitude readers probably
know, the rescue effort was initiated as a result of an injury
a crewman suffered when the Santa Cruz 52 Kokopelli2
was dismasted on the way back to California after the end
of the Pacific Cup. The crewman was Daniel Garr, who at last
word was paralyzed from the waist down. There are a lot of sailors
thinking about you and pulling for you, Daniel.
This brilliant rescue was pulled off by both Chevron employees
and members of the U.S. military. There's a long history of merchant
shipping and the military coming the aid of mariners in distress,
often times at considerable risk to their own safety and at great
cost. We salute all of them.
As might be expected, lawsuits have already been filed as a result
of the Kokopelli2 accident. Because of the way the American
legal system works, it wouldn't be unusual for every individual
and business that might have ever seen the boat to be named as
a defendant. So while this is obviously a terrible time for Daniel,
it's also a difficult time emotionally and financially for some
other sailors and marine businesses - who may ultimately be absolved
of all responsibility. On their behalf, we remind everyone that
defendants are innocent until proven negligent - and when it
comes to personal injury litigation, even the innocent are found
responsible because it's prohibitively expensive to defend themselves.
Our heart goes out to you folks, too.
In the Ha-Ha profiles, you wrote that I ". . . worked on
an Alaskan ferry during the winter and taught scuba in the tropics
during the summer." Wow, just call me certifiably insane!
Lynne - We apologize for getting our
seasons crossed. The only evidence we have that might suggest
you're insane is that you're going on another Ha-Ha.
WHAT CAPE COD DINING SOCIETY?
We're still in the Mexican highlands escaping the heat of La
Paz. The other morning at breakfast we spotted a Latitude
on the table next to us. We naturally asked if we could borrow
it. It belonged to Drew of Rocinante, who had just driven
down from the Bay Area and was on his way to his boat in Puerto
Vallarta. We read the letter of complaint about the 'Cape Cod
Dining Society' with great interest, as we were at the Pedro
Miguel Boat Club the first two weeks of February. We met almost
everyone who was there, and we can't even place the author from
Quintana Roo. He must have kept a low profile.
During that time period, the boats that came in were all at least
10 years old - with the exception of a three-year-old Santa Cruz
52. The other boats were a Tayana 52, Stevens 47, Valiant 40,
and a custom boat from Maine that had already completed one circumnavigation.
The boats were from Maine, Annapolis, Florida and San Francisco,
and since they were home to their owners, all had been kept in
top condition. The two boats with children were from Florida,
and the kids couldn't have been nicer. We found Craig and Sarah,
the caretakers/managers of the Boat Club, to be friendly and
helpful hosts. Everyone at the club cooked and ate dinner in
the upstairs dining room, and once a week there was a pot luck
- which to our knowledge everyone attended.
Anyway we had a wonderful time at the Pedro Miguel Boat Club,
and the Cape Cod Dining Society has some of the nicest people
we have met cruising. There are always two ways to look at something,
and some people just always look on the dark side of life. We
just wanted everyone to know that we sure didn't see things the
way Quintana Roo made them out to be.
Peter and Nancy Bennett
Swan 46, Destiny
Peter & Nancy - We weren't there
at the time, so we can't comment on the specific situation. But
we will say that we think the Pedro Miguel BC - which is landlocked
inside the Canal on Miraflores Lake - is one of the coolest and
most communal places in the world of cruising. Because the club
is isolated and because cruisers share just about everything
from workshops to refrigerator space to picnic tables with views
of the Pedro Miguel Locks, it's about as anti-aristocratic an
environment as we can imagine.
On the other hand, when we read the nickname 'Cape Cod Dining
Society', we couldn't help but laugh a little in recognition.
For while cruising in the Caribbean and New England, we've come
across a couple of boats from the Northeast where the prim and
proper members of the owners' parties seemed as though they were
wandering around in a cloud of assumed superiority. But given
that it's a world full of fun and fascinating people, it wasn't
something that bothered us.
OH BUOY, NO BUOYS PLEASE
In a recent letter, someone suggested that there be more facilities
available for boaters in the Bay, including mooring buoys. But
such facilities require money, either from the government or
private sources. Besides, one of the pleasures of sailing is
assuming some of the risks associated with self-sufficiency,
developing basic sailing skills, and avoiding bureaucracies of
One great source of education and amusement is the anchor drill.
In our early days we contributed mightily to the latter, and
probably still do. We don't, however, cast a 15-pound Danforth,
pay out 150 feet of rode, and consider the deed is done. This
relatively commonly observed exercise drastically reduces the
availability of space for anchoring. Those who are satisfied
with this are probably best served with buoys. But if their buoy
lets go, they will be running to their attorneys faster than
an Ethiopian chicken.
We certainly recognize and embrace the inevitability of progress,
but until we get out of here, we accept cleaning the mud off
our chain and hook when we leave Clipper Cove, enjoy the fog
and horn at Pillar Point, and consider the kelp and eel grass
at Stillwater to be part of the price of admission.
On the subject of anchoring, Earl Hinz refers to the bit of nylon
attached between the chain and hawse as a riding stopper. Who
comes up with these names? Also, we are told that phosphoresce
in the head is not a natural phenomenon, but is rather attributable
to the dietary habits and exercise regimen of inexperienced sailors.
Carl and Leslie Kirsch
Charisma, Tayana 37
Carl & Leslie - Say what you will
about the mooring buoys at Angel Island's Hospital Cove or at
Catalina's Avalon, but they permit many times more boats - and
therefore many, many times more people - to enjoy a nature experience.
If you're suggesting that these were a bad idea and should be
removed, we strongly disagree with you. The fact the buoys at
Hospital Cove are usually in terribly short supply leads us to
believe there should be more of them so more people in the crowded
Bay Area have easier access to the water. And it's not like it
would be skin off your ass, as you can still anchor to your heart's
As for financing the installation and maintenance of such buoys,
how about doing it with the millions we Bay Area boaters pay
in personal property taxes to the counties each year. Shouldn't
we get something for our money?
LEARNING TO SAIL
My wife and I just moved down here from Oregon. I'm 28 and she
is 25. I've read the last two Latitudes cover to cover.
For some time it's been our dream to learn to sail. Because we're
not familiar with San Francisco or sailing, we were hoping you
might offer us some advice.
We've already started by taking beginner lessons at Spinnaker
Sailing. The reason we signed up with them is because they are
located in The City near our residence. Have you heard positive
comments about them? Is there a specific certification agency
that we should try to get certified through? Are there any clubs
in the city where we could meet other young sailors of all levels?
We don't have a boat yet, and won't be able to have one in the
near future either. Would other people look down at us because
we don't have a boat? Are there any kinds of events we should
look forward to doing? Any other advice?
Gil and Allison Burgess
Gil & Allison - While we haven't
taken any classes with Spinnaker Sailing, they've been around
for many years, so we're confident they do a good job. In the
traffic-clogged Bay Area, the fact that they are located close
to your residence counts for something. Virtually all sailing
schools have a curriculum aimed at getting their students to
pass either US Sailing or American Sailing Association (ASA)
certifications at various levels. So you're on the right track.
There are a number of different clubs in The City where you can
meet other young sailors. For starters, we suggest you stop by
the South Beach YC, which is located near you and Spinnaker Sailing
at the South Beach Marina. Visit some Friday evening or weekend
afternoon, and tell the club manager that Latitude said they
would be delighted if you came by to check out their facilities.
Trust us, they'll be happy to show you around and tell you about
their club. You can do the same thing at the Golden Gate YC over
in the Marina, and even the St. Francis YC - which admittedly
might be a little more intimidating.
What should you say if somebody asks you if you have your own
boat? Tell them the truth. That you recently moved here, that
you're very interested in sailing and are currently taking lessons,
and that you're looking forward to crewing for other people.
We suppose it's natural for someone not familiar with yacht clubs
to fear that some people might look down on them because they
don't have a boat, but in reality nothing could be further from
the truth. In fact, yacht clubs lust at the prospect of having
young folks like you become members - not that you have to do
anything of the sort. Furthermore, only a complete loser would
look down on anybody because they didn't own a boat.
Each of the three big clubs in San Francisco has something different
to offer. One of the neat things about the South Beach YC is
that they host a terrific Friday night 'beer can' racing series
on summer nights that is popular with a lot of younger sailors.
The Golden Gate YC hosts a big midwinter racing series that starts
on November 4. And the St. Francis YC has the biggest sailing
schedule of all. Please don't be put off by the word 'racing'.
The beer can and midwinter races are for fun and socializing
more than they're for winning pickle dishes. Nonetheless, these
'fun races' are ideal opportunities to improve your sailing skills
and meet other sailors.
There are tons of midwinter and beer can races. Look in each
month's Latitude for a complete
listing. It's a time-honored tradition at most of these events
that anybody who shows up with a six-pack and a smile gets a
ride. Sure, it takes a little guts, but just walk the docks near
the host club or go into the host club and ask for assistance.
Don't be put off by those 'Members Only' signs out front as an
Alcoholic Beverage Commission formality makes them put them up.
After sailing in an event, make sure to return to the host club
to support them by buying a drink or two and maybe a meal. This
is when everybody networks and sets up future rides. Within just
a couple of weeks, you'll know lots of people with boats, most
of whom are at least occasionally in need of crew or know somebody
else who does. And if that's not enough, each March Latitude
puts out a Crew List and then throws a big Crew List Party at
the Corinthian YC in Tiburon.
Assuming that the two of you are reasonably friendly and helpful,
and willing to make a little effort to get rides at the various
midwinters for the next several months, you could spend all next
year racing and cruising on all kinds of different boats, all
over the Bay and Delta, and walking in and out of all the major
clubs. And like most folks, you'll neither own a boat or belong
to a yacht club. So welcome to sailing on San Francisco Bay,
which just happens to be one of the top five metropolitan places
in the world for pure sailing fun.
LOOK OUT THE F-ING WINDOW
I just completed my third reading of the Once Is Enough article
that appeared in the August issue. I have never had the pleasure
of meeting sailor Peter Augusto, nor was I there during the incident
involving his boat and the ship. Therefore, this is not intended
to be critical of him or anyone else identified in the article.
However, the tone of the article against the so-called "petro
devil" Theodorus IV and its captain and crew, and the very
biased comment referring to the "World Wreaking Federation
of Tankermania" was found offensive by this ex-tankerman.
The very righteous opinion that every problem was the fault of
the tanker, its captain, crew, home office and lawyers is ridiculous.
I suppose that the problems on Augusto's boat - the faulty rigging,
the crapped-out engine, not having bolt cutters aboard needed
to cut the largest stay, the lack of a radar with a proximity
alarm, the lack of a standby VHF - are also their fault. I must
also assume that his lack of insurance - so he can rely on our
kindness - must be the problem of every one of us out there who
does have insurance.
I would recommend that all go to 72 COLREGS with special attention
Rule 2 (a) and (b) - Responsibility. (This is the old Rule 27
and 29 of the International Rules of the Road that all of us
at the 'schoolship' had to memorize).
Rule 5 - Lookout.
Rule 18 (a)(iv) and (b)(ii) - The first gives privilege to vessels
under sail which everyone who has spent over an hour on a sailboat
can almost quote verbatim. But hardly anyone can quote the second
section, which counters that sailing vessels must keep out of
the way of power vessels that have a restricted ability to maneuver.
Contrary to popular belief, this rule is not restricted to narrows,
traffic lanes or harbors.
The item about being up all night watching his GPS hit 10 knots
- but never looking outside - reminds me of a story when I was
breaking in a new third mate while doing the Hawaiian interisland
trip on an old tanker named the M.E. Lombardi. As we were
approaching Hilo Harbor, the new Third was running back and forth
from the azimuth to the chart room plotting his bearings. After
watching for a short time, I asked him what he was doing, for
we were heading right for the breakwater. He said that I was
wrong if I thought we were headed for the breakwater, and wanted
to know if I wanted to inspect his work in the chart room. I
told him that I didn't have the time, and suggested he "look
out the f--king window instead!"
In 'pampas grass' - a sea condition and related sea clutter on
a radar - it is far easier for the mouse, a small boat, to see
the elephant, a ship, than vice versa. And in the second impact
- taking into consideration visibility and maneuverability -
what fact establishes who hit whom? Augusto's statement that
it allegedly took the 'petro-demon' approximately two hours to
turn around should give a reasonable person some idea how difficult
it is to manuever such large vessels.
Singlehanded sailing offshore has always been a mystery to me,
especially as it relates to Rule 5. I certainly respect such
sailors for their strength, fortitude and conviction. However,
as has been pointed out for years, there is no way anyone can
singlehand for very long and not be in violation of the requirement
that all vessels must maintain a watch at all times. Steve and
Linda Dashew put it best on page 375 of their Offshore Cruising
Encyclopedia when they wrote, "So . . . [singlehanders]
are taking a chance with their own safety (which is okay as long
as they assume responsibility for any problems that arise). However,
they are also taking a chance with the safety of other yachts
around them, which I find a bit disconcerting. . . "
P.S. I have enjoyed Latitude 38 since you guys started.
I am amazed that somehow you get better with each volume. I have
also been curious as to the layout of Sightings - which I guess
is supposed to be a speed bump for readers.
Stuart G. Sall
Red Rover, Hans Christian 34
Stuart - We've always considered it our legal and moral responsibility
to keep from being run down by ships - and have found it easy
because we take evasive action long before situations have a
chance to develop. And we're not the only ones. If you observe
the big charter sailboats on the Bay - such as Adventure
Cat, Second Life, Hawaiian Chieftain and others - you'll notice
that they don't get five toots from ships because their skippers
give large commercial vessels plenty of room well in advance.
It's equally prudent to do the same thing out on the ocean.
Singlehanded sailing for much more than a day is, by definition,
illegal because no individual can maintain the continuous watch
required by law for such a long period of time. We think the
majority of singlehanders are willing accept the consequences
of what happens as a result of not maintaining a continuous watch
in return for singlehanding not being actively banned. In any
event, the bottom line is that if there's a collision between
a ship and a small boat, it's virtually always the small boat's
GOOD FOR WRESTLING NAKED
Our cruising dream is getting closer. Four years ago we purchased
an Allied Mistress 39, and have been working on her ever since.
She's tested our budget, our patience and even our bond as a
couple. But with the completion of every project we become more
confident in both ourselves and our love for one another.
Although it's been a long road, we're still far from having the
boat ready. When we get a little discouraged, I pull out a Latitude
and read some of the letters or articles to Peggy. No matter
if they are about cruisers having good times or cruisers having
some troubles, they always cheer us up. Peggy, who is by far
the most beautiful thing I've ever seen besides our boat, likes
me to read to her. She is an earth sign and I am a fire sign.
Add water to the two of us and you get hot mud - which is good
for wrestling naked. But you have to watch for the burns.
Keeping our cruising dream alive has been a constant struggle,
but we know we have to take the good with the bad. We're a little
down right now as we've just got done putting in a new engine
- and it was a lot of work. But writing this letter seems to
help. I hope you'll find space for it in your magazine, as I'd
love to read it to Peggy at bedtime. Looking forward to next
year's Baja Ha-Ha also cheers us up.
Marcus, Peggy and Rory Catania
Cantaimya, Allied Mistress
Marcus - We hope you read our response
to your letter before you read your letter to Peggy - because
you made a major boo-boo. A lot of guys don't understand this,
but no matter how beautiful any boat is, she is never more beautiful
than the woman in one's life. Not if you hope to ever do any
more naked mud wrestling with her.
By the way, it might also cheer you up sometimes to check out
'Lectronic Latitude, as we post lots of dreamy looking cruising
photos. In fact, by the time you read this, we should have a
bunch of color shots up from this year's Ha-Ha, thanks to Qualcomm
and Globalstar satellite systems. Just go to www.latitude38.com,
then click on the blinking box to the right, and bingo, you'll
virtually be doing the Ha-Ha with us.
THE 10-KNOT AVERAGE
Our 84-foot Beowulf is ensconced in a spider web of lines
at Atlantic Yacht Basin on the ICW near Norfolk while we return
to the office and catch up on a few things before heading back
to do the West Marine Caribbean 1500 in early November.
As to the May issue debate between the Wanderer and Doña
de Mallorca about whether or not the Swan 651 she helped deliver
could average 10 knots across the Atlantic, I'd have to agree
with her. While I'm not a big fan of Swan types, I must admit
that it shouldn't be that difficult for a 651 to average 10 knots
across the pond; all they need is a little breeze. I realize
that your experience base - heavy lead mines and now cruising
cats - probably doesn't allow for anything like a 10-knot average,
but a couple of owners of our Deerfoot designs in the same size
range have made the trip in 12 days and change. One of these
was done in the ARC with, much to our embarrassment, a Swan 57
just six hours behind. We're also familiar with Wakaroa, a 72-foot
very short rigged ketch - like ours - that regularly averages
10 knots between her home in New Zealand and the South Pacific
Our Beowulf is 12 feet longer, of course, but we hardly
ever average anything as slow as 240 miles a day. In fact, in
29,000 miles of sailing, the only time this has happened was
during our dead uphill trip from Panama to Curaçao. Yuck!
Otherwise we seem to be able to do a pretty steady 270 to 300
depending on conditions. And before you throw sled performance
at us, remember that we did the 42-mile Guadaloupe to Antigua
Race in three hours and one minute. The Santa Cruz 70 in the
race finished 37 minutes back.
We've also done Marina del Rey to the Marquesas in 12 days, 11
hours, and Taiohae to San Diego in 12 days, 3 hours - which is
about 2,900 miles. Heck, we even made the 630 miles from Bermuda
to Newport in 60 hours, but then Linda and I were racing the
140' Frers ketch Rebecca at the time, so we were paying more
attention to sail trim in the continuously frontal and changing
weather. By the way, we beat Rebecca by 5.5 hours.
So Señor Wanderer, it is possible to average 10 knots
or better - you just need the right conditions and/or the right
Steve - We'd like nothing better than
to believe Doña de Mallorca's claim that she and some
other folks delivered a Swan 651 some 2,700 miles across the
Atlantic at an average of 10 knots. And to believe your claim
that a 10-knot average isn't so difficult. But documented sailing
times and ocean crossing records leave us no choice but to be
You back your claim by saying that one of the Deerfoot 65s did
the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers in "12 days and change".
But if anything, that only supports our contention. In order
to do the 2,700-mile ARC at 10 knots, a boat would have to do
it in 270 hours - or 11.25 days. Assuming that "12 days
plus change" means the Deerfoot did it in 12.25 days, she
only averaged 9.1 knots - well off the 10 knot pace. Furthermore,
based on ARC information two paragraphs down, we suspect she
was only able to do that with a substantial amount of motoring
through the light stuff.
The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is a perfect yardstick for this
argument because it's almost identical to the course de Mallorca
claims to have done at 10 knots, and because it's long enough
to include several of the inevitable lighter days found on any
long passage. We did the ARC rally in '95 with Big O. It was the tenth running and said to
have had the strongest and most consistent fair winds of any
ARC. So it's informative to see the kind of times that were recorded.
Of the 176 boats that did the '95 ARC, the four fastest elapsed
times were 13.5 days, 14 days, 14.5 days, and almost 15 days.
We can't remember what kind of boats the first two were, but
the third and fourth boats were 80-foot Whitbread veterans. In
other words, the best average speed the Whitbread boats could
make in the best conditions the event enjoyed was 8.3 knots -
two full days short of a 10 knot average. So how are we supposed
to believe that a Swan 651 - which displaces a whopping 80,000
pounds, can't surf, and is 15 feet shorter than the Whitbread
boats - could have sailed the same course 20% faster? We can't.
If we look back at many of the sailing records as they appeared
in the August '98 Latitude, it becomes clear that a 10
knot average is actually very difficult to achieve - even for
the fastest racing boats with the best crews, sails and gear.
At the time, the Annapolis to Bermuda record was an 8.8 average;
the Sydney to Hobart was 10.1; the Cape Town to Rio was 10.1;
the west to east Transatlantic 10.5; the Newport to Ensenada
10.5; the Long Beach to Cabo 10.5; the Santa Barbara to King
Harbor 9.1; the San Francisco to Tahiti 8.1; the Los Angeles
to Tahiti 10; and the Victoria to Maui 9.1. Many of these records
have been eclipsed in the last two years, so we're working on
a new list. Nonetheless, if the fastest times in the history
by the fastest boats in history on some of the fastest courses
in history are barely 10 knots, we're not buying that anyone
could do 10 knots for that long on a delivery. In fact, anytime
somebody from a non-racing boat starts telling us they averaged
10 knots for much more than 100 miles, our mind slips into a
state of suspended belief.
We don't doubt the passage times you've cited for Beowulf,
since you've already told us that she's capable of motoring at
15 knots. If you motor at 15 knots for half a passage, you only
have to sail at five knots during the other half to average 10
knots for the whole thing. So we'd need more information to know
whether or not to be impressed by such claims. If you want to
stake a speed claim, there's only one way to do it: race in an
organized event against several boats of similar length.
For the record, we don't want anybody to get the idea we have
anything disparaging to say about the Frers designed Swan 651.
This is a superb design that was a major improvement upon the
original S&S designed Swan 65 - which itself was a legendary
I've been an avid reader of Latitude for 10 years, and
bought two of my previous boats through the Classy Classifieds.
And since I've also learned a great deal through reading the
magazine, I hope someone will be able to benefit from my tale.
While wandering the docks about a year ago, I came across a beautiful
sailboat, and upon closer inspection noticed a worn and sun-bleached
'for sale' sign. I liked the boat and started thinking of things
I could sell to raise the down payment. Since I'm a diesel mechanic
in a small harbor, it was easy for me to get the scoop on the
boat. Since I could find nothing bad, I contacted the owner to
set up a time to inspect the boat more thoroughly.
We met on a beautiful October day, which added to the charm of
the somewhat neglected boat. I instantly felt comfortable with
the owner, and quickly regarded him as though he was an old friend.
We talked for several hours in the beautiful teak cockpit, during
which time he informed me that he would soon be hauling the boat
at the yard where I work for a bottom job. He told me I could
better inspect her then.
Everything seemed to suggest that this would be the best boat
at the price to suit my needs, so we took the next step, which
was listing the boat we then owned with a broker - as well as
taking out a Classy Classified. At that point, the deal was that
we would sell our boat to create the down payment for the larger
boat. The owner said he was willing to keep us at the top of
the list until January - three months away - to give us time
to sell our boat.
When January came and went without our boat selling, we called
the seller and informed him that we needed more time to sell
our boat. If he got a better offer, we told him to take it and
there wouldn't be any hard feelings. By early July, neither our
boat nor the other guy's boat had sold. Then I got a call from
him sweetening the deal slightly. He said that if I lowered the
selling price of my boat so that it would sell more quickly,
he would lower the sale price of his boat to us by the same amount.
I immediately got on the phone with my broker and told him to
start collecting offers. An offer soon came in that was approximately
20% lower than the lowest price I felt was reasonable, but with
the new deal I wouldn't be losing anything, right? I called the
owner to make sure that our deal was still on, and that I wanted
to mail him the check and take ownership on August 1.
It was here that I screwed up, as I didn't get any of it in writing.
Operating on the assumption the deal was still on, I called my
broker and instantly my faithful old boat was sold. I was slightly
nervous not having a boat to call my own, so I called the owner
of the boat I was to buy and left a message for him to call me,
and that I would be mailing the down payment to him on July 25.
I didn't hear from him for three days, and when he did call,
it was one of the worst calls I'd gotten in my life. The owner
informed me that he felt bad about things, but that I would have
to wait several months until the new Classified ads he'd taken
out kicked in. So now I was out of both my boat and the cash
I would have made had I waited to sell. I'm a trusting person,
but I should have gotten the deal in writing. I'll certainly
do it next time.
So take my warning and be smarter than I was. This is only my
side of the story, of course, so I'm leaving out the incriminating
information as well as my name.
N.W. - Your advice to get deals in writing
is excellent for two reasons. First, if properly written it spells
out the deal clearly so there isn't confusion. Second, it's a
good tool for helping people remember their promises.
THE STATE BOARD HAS TAKEN AN INTEREST
I bought a boat in Mexico last May, and it's still in Mexico.
However, the California Board of Equalization seems to have taken
an interest in the deal. What's the law on this? I was under
the impression that if the boat stayed in Mexico for 90 days,
the state was out of the picture with regard to taxes.
Westsail 32, Aguja
Jim - As long as you bought the boat
out of the state and don't bring her back into the state for
90 days, you shouldn't have any problem - with two provisions:
1) Get everything documented in writing. 2) Make sure you spend
at least some of the time actively using the boat in Mexico as
opposed to letting it just sit in a marina or on the hard. One
of the folks from the Board of Equalization recently assured
us that they know exactly what's happening with many boat transactions,
and as long as they are completed to the letter of the law, no
tax is due. But if someone screws up - such as leaving the boat
to sit in Mexico as opposed to actively using her - the state
will happily come around for your money. By the way, if you have
any questions, call the Board of Equalization, as they are very
helpful in explaining under what circumstances sales tax is owed
and when it's not owed.
I recently purchased a 1983 CT-49 cutter designed by Kauffman
& Ladd. But, I'm having lots of trouble finding information
on the boat, other owners, design reviews and so forth. Can you
help me find out more?
Steven - We'd suggest starting with
Kauffman Naval Architects at (410) 263-8900 or Rob Ladd Yacht
Design at (410) 263-3398. The only CT-49 owner we know is Mike
Hibbetts of the San Francisco-based CT-49 Orion.
A couple of years ago, his was one of only two boats that completed
that year's entire Ha-Ha without resorting to motoring. While
in Mexico, Mike bumped into Heather Boyd, who did the Ha-Ha on
Profligate last year, and now they're a happy cruising
FOUR-STROKE VERSUS TWO-STROKE
I'm in the market for a new eight hp outboard. I'm considering
the new Honda four-stroke, which runs cleans and burns less fuel,
but I'm also concerned about the weight and availability of parts
and service. I sail in Mexico and Central America. I recall that
you wrote an article about Yamaha versus Honda, but can't remember
what issue it was in. Could I get a copy?
John - We didn't write an article about
it, but made some general remarks in response to questions in
Letters about two-strokes verses four-strokes, and how hard it
is to get parts and service for the various engine makes outside
of the United States. To review the situation, there is no doubt
that four-strokes run cleaner and burn less fuel than two-strokes,
but they're also heavier. However, if weight becomes a major
issue, it's worth knowing that the new two-strokes run much cleaner
than the old ones did. Modern outboards are extremely reliable,
but when it comes to international parts and service, Yamaha
offers much better coverage than does Honda. For what it's worth,
Yamaha has long offered two models of 9.9 four-stroke outboards.
FAITH IN THE MARINE INDUSTRY
I would like to praise Galley Marine of Seattle for going far
beyond the realm of normal customer service. In February of 1999,
I had them install an Entec 4.2 KW generator on my Hardin 45
Freyja. That September I left Seattle for warmer waters,
and San Diego for Cabo as part of the '99 Ha-Ha. After a season
of cruising Mexico, I decided that I would leave Freyja
in Puerto Vallarta and fly home for the summer. But before I
left, I discovered the shore power at the dock was temporarily
out, so I started my trusty Entec. Unfortunately, it soon stopped.
After numerous attempts to diagnose what seemed like a fuel problem,
I obtained some excellent assistance from Greg of Vallarta Adventures,
who found that the piston, rings and cylinder had been extensively
damaged. It was then May of 2000, months beyond the one-year
factor warranty. I had a total of 186 hours on the generator.
After a couple of emails to Galley Marine to try to get parts
shipped down for Greg to install, I received an email from Don
Gonsorowski, the owner of Galley Marine. He said he would fly
to Puerto Vallarta on June 1 with the parts. To be honest, I
thought he was using the parts delivery as an excuse for a mini
vacation. Nonetheless, Don arrived on a Thursday afternoon, came
directly to my boat, and worked nonstop until he got my Entec
running again. He then discovered a plugged oil pressure relief
valve, which had been the cause of all the problems. Using my
scuba tank, he blew out the blockage. So now my generator is
running again and the cause of the problem has been solved.
Don said that he was able to fly down on 'miles' and was able
to stay at a friend's condo in Marina Vallarta, so there would
be no charge for his work. Furthermore, he would attempt to get
Entec to replace his parts stock because the defect had apparently
been there from the beginning. By the way, Don told me that based
on his accurate diagnosis, and systematic and neat disassembly
of the Entec, Greg of Vallarta Adventure was obviously a very
I know we all complain about high hourly shop rates, but if a
firm does quality work and stands behind it beyond legal or even
expected standards, it gives us some faith in the marine industry.
Freyja, Hardin 45
John - From now on we're not buying
any marine products until we find out how many frequent flyer
miles the owner has and whether he has any friends with condos
FIRES AND LEGALLY CHARTERING IN MEXICO
As was reported in Latitude, we did have a fire aboard
our charter boat Marco Polo. We were on our way from Marina
de La Paz in Baja to pick up passengers at La Concha. The fire
- which started in an electrical bundle over one of the engines
because a 32-volt water pump shorted and didn't trip the breaker
- broke out while we were passing Marina Palmira. Three of the
boat's five fire extinguishers failed, including the Halon system
in the engine compartment. All had been tested within the previous
12 months. Fortunately, we have a great crew that was able to
put the fire out with the boat's other extinguishers. In addition,
the crew got help from Marina Palmira and the Mexican Navy. The
fire had been so hot that the water boiled out of one of the
engines. The damage was repaired within three weeks, and now
all the breakers also have in-line fuses.
More Americans than ever seem interested in putting their boats
into the charter business in Mexico, so maybe I can explain a
little of what's involved in doing this legally. It never was
a requirement that the boat had to be owned by a Mexican citizen,
and boats can be temporarily imported for the purpose of chartering.
After NAFTA was passed, Mexican corporations could be 100% foreign
owned. We, for example, have our own corporation and accountant.
However, it's not cheap to start a corporation in Mexico and
it can often be frustrating as we're often surprised with new
interpretations of the same laws. Fortunately, my partner does
a great job of dealing with the bureaucracy.
Any company in Mexico has to pay corporate taxes as well as IVA
on all corporate income. Mexican taxes aren't outrageously high.
While having a Mexican partner and Mexican employees aren't essential,
it helps show that you are serious about contributing to the
Mexican economy. And if you're not going to contribute to the
Mexican economy, they understandably aren't very interested in
you starting a business. The owner has to have a FM3 permit,
and if you don't hire Mexican employees, it can be difficult
to get a work permit. Naturally, you have to pay personal income
taxes on any money you earn.
In addition to having to start a corporation, quite a few permits
are required. These aren't cheap. In order for a foreign owner
to captain his foreign boat, she must be temporarily imported.
But it's a special kind of temporary importation. If the boat
is fully imported, she must have a Mexican captain. In addition,
the boat must be based out of a marina, and the boat has to be
registered with the city and port captain of the jurisdiction
where you want to charter. Different permits are required if
you plan to go from one jurisdiction to another. Nobody is permitted
to charter without insurance for all the crew and passengers.
If someone were to come down to Mexico for the first time and
try to set up a charter business on their own, it might take
them as much as six months. It can take much less time if you
hire someone who knows the system. By the way, it makes no difference
if your passengers came down from the States with you or not.
If they're paying for being on your boat, you have to have a
legal Mexican corporation and all the permits.
Irish Mist/Marco Polo
Baja Coast Seafaris
Jim - In other words, anyone who figures
they can pop down to Mexico with their boat for the winter and
rake in a couple of grand a week might be in for frustration
MORE ON MORDIDA
Hard to believe, but I was reading the September issue of Latitude in mid-September.
Good news travels fast in Mexico! After reading Mr. LaChapelles'
letter about mordida in that issue, I feel compelled to share
my own experiences.
After our recent trip home to the States, and then during the
return trip from Tucson to San Carlos, Mexico, our bus was stopped
just after crossing the border. This was the normal stop, where
everybody has to get their baggage and take their chances pushing
the traffic light button to see if they have to have their bags
searched. After we, the only gringos on the bus, unloaded our
six bags with over 300 pounds of stuff, the official at the light
asked if everything in the bags was clothes. We didn't want to
deceive anyone, so we told him that it consisted of lots of clothes
but also of many parts for my boat. He then had us move to another
area, where he asked for our boat's Temporary Import Permit -
which we showed him. He then asked for receipts for all the stuff
we were bringing in. We, of course, had conveniently 'lost' these
long before getting to Mexico. When he asked for the value of
the stuff, I came up with $400 - which I must confess was a ridiculous
underestimate! He then asked if I had a letter from a marina
showing which parts I had either destroyed or had taken out of
Mexico. I didn't have one of those either.
The official then began punching the buttons on his wristwatch/calculator
- and said I would have to pay $60 and go over to another office
and fill out some forms. While this was going on, the alternate
bus driver said something in Spanish to the effect that he had
a bus full of people and wasn't waiting for me to do an hour's
worth of paperwork. He was loading our bags back onto the bus
as he said this. The customs official then asked if I had $30.
As I quickly reached for my wallet, he stopped me from being
so obvious and told me to put the money in my carry-on bag. After
guiding him to where the $30 was located, he asked my wife to
go over and push the button on the traffic light - which naturally
turned green. I have always believed there is nothing random
about those lights! The alternate driver already had the rest
of our bags in the bus, and in seconds we were on our way again!
I didn't have a problem paying that kind of mordida - because
the guy saved me money and made my life a whole lot easier. He
also made the lives of the 50 other passengers on the bus easier,
too. I hope he put the $30 to good use! As for people who think
there is no corruption in the United States, they should pay
more attention to the news. California's former Insurance Commissioner
should serve as just one good example. The bribes are just a
little different in the States. The little guy on the street
may not be taking your money, but the big fish find all kinds
of ways of misusing taxpayer funds.
Bahia de Los Angeles, Sea of Cortez
G.S. - We hope you don't mind, but given
your confession, we decided it might be in your best interest
if we withheld your full name. The mordida situations offer a
dilemma. On the one hand, going along with it really does subvert
the rule of law and the Mexican government's efforts to eliminate
it. On the other hand, foreign visitors are in the weakest position
of all to fight it. That the Mexican government doesn't eliminate
situations in which mordida is encouraged - such as yours, where
doing the legal thing would have taken an hour and wasted everyone's
time - is what allows it to continue. Experts say it's best to
resist mordida when it doesn't endanger your safety. We would
have done exactly what you did in your situation.
Do you have any information or anecdotal references on Clipper
Marine boats designed by William Crealock? I've started my personal
website about my sailing activities and about my second boat,
a Clipper Marine 21. My first boat was a model of PT-109. Anyway,
my website is http://home.sc.rr.com/joecox.
If anyone could remember any articles - positive or negative
- about the boats, company or designer, I'd be most appreciative.
By the way, in today's Internet of eye candy and other crap,
Latitude's site is simple, direct and informative. Please
don't learn more about web design and spoil what you've already
Columbia, South Carolina
Joe - Thanks for the kind words. Criticizing
a man's boat is right up there with criticizing his lady. Nonetheless,
we'd be negligent if we didn't have to tell you that we don't
believe Clipper Marine boats were designed, built or rigged for
anything but sailing in protected waters. Yes, one fellow singlehanded
a Clipper Marine 32 from San Diego to the Marquesas, but it's
not something we'd recommend. In addition, there is a guy who
frequently sails a blue on blue Clipper Marine 26 or 30 on the
Bay. It certainly wouldn't be the boat we'd want to be sailing
in The Slot on an ebb in the middle of summer, but this guy seems
to trim and reef his sails well, so maybe he knows something
There's an active Clipper Marine owner's website at www.angelfire.com/ca/ldrust/cmoa.html,
with an interesting history of the company. [Webmistress's note:
When we posted this page, this link was active, but it is no
longer. If anyone knows of a current site for Clipper Marine
owners, please email
us.] What gets us to worrying, however, is when one contributor
says not to worry too much about the flexing flat expanses because
a Moore 24 has them, too. That's as misleading as comparing a
Yugo to a Mercedes because they both have four tires. The web
history cautions that boats built after '75 were inferior to
the earlier ones. If we remember correctly, one of the smaller
Clippers sank off Southern California after the hull and deck
A Clipper Marine on a small lake or within the confines of places
such as San Diego Bay, Newport Harbor or the Oakland Estuary
seems like a reasonable proposition to us. However, we wouldn't
suggest anyone consider anything more arduous without the particular
boat having been checked out by a competent surveyor.
THE BEST UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES
I was disappointed that Don Bryden took such a strong stance
after reading a short article on the collision my crew and I
had in the waters off the coast of Nicaragua/Honduras. I'm reminded
of the saying about walking a mile in another's shoes.
Given the circumstances - a black night, a boat with no lights,
in the middle of the drug-smuggling highway - I believe we made
the most prudent decision possible. That fact that there had
been 'pirate problems' in the area did weigh heavily on our decision.
So did the fact that we'd been warned that darkened fishing boats
wait offshore loaded with drums of fuel awaiting the smuggling
boats heading north.
Following the collision, we watched and monitored the other vessel
for at least 30 minutes. Nobody on the other vessel made any
attempt to contact us. It was only when we got out of sight that
we began looking after our own problems - including taking water
on through the bow. The incident never would have occurred had
the other vessel shown any lights - as we did - or maintained
a lookout. The vessel didn't show up on radar either.
If someone wants to denigrate the character of my crew and me,
it might interest them to know that we helped build houses in
Chacala, worked on sewers on a Rotary International project,
provided food and clothing to families in Baja, mainland Mexico,
Costa Rica and Guatemala. We have also helped the sick in Guatemala
and El Salvador. We're not the "uncaring gringos" that
the one reader accused us of being. I mentioned the incident
to warn others making the passage of potential navigational hazards.
Before skippering Dave Oliver's Olson 30, I spent many of my
early years sailing a Rhodes 19. The noted marine photographer
Diane Beeston took some pictures of us in the early '70s - when
we raced against current Olympians Jeff Madrigali and Russ Silvestri,
who at the time were still pre-puberty. Is Diane still around
and are her files still available?
Paul - From 1960 through 1988, Diane
Beeston was the premiere yacht photographer on San Francisco
Bay - and perhaps the country. Several books of her photographs
were published, and they are familiar to all Bay sailors of that
era. She was a big help to us at Latitude,
too. Having had her fill of photography in the late '80s, Beeston
moved to Astoria, Oregon - where she'd like her friends to know
that she was able to purchase "a spectacular, modern 3,000
sq. ft home with a four-car garage and a million dollar view
of the Columbia River and bar for - sit down - $145,000. You'd
have to pay $300,000 for it now, but if it was in Tiburon it
would bring $2 million." Anyway, she's got an art gallery
downtown, is busy painting, and recently did 16 small murals
on Astoria buildings. She's healthy and wants to say 'hi' to
all her old friends from the Bay Area.
As for Diane's photographs, R.C. Keefe bought many of the early
ones of big boats, but Diane donated the rest to the San Francisco
YC - where she was made a lifetime member. "The club did
a better job of organizing them that I ever did," she laughs,
"and they are all still available. I have nothing to do
with them, however, but interested parties only need call Leigh
Abell at (415) 453-8765 for further information."
ELECTRIC WORKED ON MY BOAT
Don't sell electric motors short! Multihulls magazine
had a review on a unit that had a prop that would reverse its
pitch and charge the batteries at one-third the amps it used
while running. It had a pretty good range too. Heck, if you have
a monohull you're going to need some lead ballast anyway, so
why not make the lead do double work?
I even built a 26-passenger catamaran using 2,214-pound thrust
D.C. electric outboards. Unfortunately, the Coast Guard was not
willing to sign them off on an ocean route, so I switched back
to gas to get my Certificate of Inspection. It sure was fun when
it was electric, though.
Morro Bay Charters
Lloyd - And we thought the government
was in favor of reducing the number of internal combustion engines.
CATS IN THE PACIFIC
Thanks for the mag - and in particular, opening up the subject
of cruising multihulls. A significant number of we monohull cruisers
who sailed across from Mexico to the South Pacific this year
have become very interested in multihulls. For a lot of us, they
would offer the advantage of being able to return to California
each year - as Blair and Joan Grinoles have been doing with their
46-foot Capricorn Cat. They've sailed to Mexico three
times, Hawaii once, and the South Pacific twice, sailing back
to California at the end of each season, then taking off for
the tropics again a few months later at the start of winter.
We have read Chris White's The Cruising Multihull, and
found it to be packed with great information. Based with this
information, several of us went and looked at the charter cats
- there are lots of them - in the Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora area.
We also talked to private owners of production cats. Nonetheless,
we're not completely satisfied and feel we're missing some important
information - such as the name of a company that makes a real
cruising cat in the 36 to 42-foot range. All the ones we've seen
are three and four bedroom jobs with bridgedeck layouts that
make space conscious cruisers cringe. I'm 6'5", so I wonder
how hard it would be to 'raise the roof' of the bridgedeck a
bit? And even with my very long arms, I still couldn't reach
the bottom of the veggie bin on one charter cat. A normal-sized
human would have had to crawl onto the counter top to get the
Doreen and Mark on Imani are friends of ours who took
us through all of their experience building their cat in the
Bay Area. I keep forgetting what the length their boat was -
maybe only 34 feet - but they and their children Maya and Tristan
and their cat live aboard very comfortably. And they still sail
their buns off. I was amazed at how much room there is on their
The bottom line is that there are a bunch of us out here who
would like you to publish an article or create space for opinions
on multihulls. We want to know stuff such as the pros and cons
of daggerboards versus keels, and what to do about engines and
sail plans. Blair's thoughts on the latter really helped us out
tremendously. We also wonder if it's possible to refit a used
cat with daggerboards and/or rebuild two interior bedrooms into
storage. We're also curious as to the best market for used cats.
Anyway, Dian and I decided to extend our visas, hang here in
the four-island area of Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora and Huahine
this season, haul out for storage at Raiatea Carenage, then return
Bob Walker and Dian Drake
Zeeotter, Tayana 37
Bob & Dian - We've published a lot
of information - some say too much - about cruising mulithulls
in the last six months. Before we give you a quick review, we
want to caution you. The idea of sailing from California to Mexico
to Tonga, then sailing back to California for a few months before
starting the cycle all over again, isn't realistic. If we remember
correctly, Blair and Joan started out by spending their winters
in Mexico and their summers in California - which is perfectly
reasonable, no matter if you have a fast cat or a heavy displacement
cruiser. The third year, the Grinoles cruised to Mexico, Hawaii,
and then back home. That's quite a bit further, but still within
reason. The following year they sailed to Mexico, Tonga, then
back to California - where they stayed for a few months before
heading back to Mexico. This last 10,000-mile trip might be faster
and more comfortable with their 46-ft cat than on a Tayana 37,
but it's still far more passagemaking than 95% of cruisers would
be interested in doing on a regular basis. We love being on the
ocean, but if anyone wants to commute between California and
the South Pacific, we recommend a jet, not a monohull or catamaran.
By the way, we just got off the phone with John Neal of Mahina Tiare III, who regularly puts in about
10,000 miles a year. He agreed that commuting to and from the
South Pacific is not something he'd recommend.
Here's our take on cat qualities, in order of importance. All
things equal, the longer and lighter the cat, the faster and
safer she will be. White's assertion that doubling the size of
a cat will make her 16 times more stable made a big impression
on us. The late multihull designer and sailor Lock Crowther of
Australia - who knew a million times more about cats than we
ever will - said he thought the minimum size for an open ocean
cat is about 44 feet. While that sounds like about the minimum
size we'd feel comfortable with on mid-ocean, scores of others
have made long and safe cruises on smaller cats.
A family of three from Berkeley, for example, had a wonder-ul
cruise to the South Pacific a few years back aboard their 24-ft
cat. And the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers allows cats of just
25 feet in length, while monohulls have to be at least 27 feet.
Incidentally, nine of this year's 235 ARC boats are catamarans,
the average length being 43 feet. You may also remember that
last month Michael Beattie and Layne Goldman of Santa Cruz wrote
about cruising their Gemini 34 Miki G. from San Francisco
to Florida. They also said they wouldn't want to sail her across
a really rough ocean, and more recently told us they hope to
buy a much bigger cat in a few years. Some of the most powerful
evidence for the ability of smallish cats to survive atrocious
weather comes from Ramtha and Heart Light, two
cats of less than 40 feet that survived the Queen's Birthday
Storm with little or no help from their crews. This was the storm
in which two Westsail 32s were rolled, a Norseman 447 was pitchpoled,
and a 40-ft Kiwi sloop was sunk with the loss of her entire crew.
By the way, if there's anyplace where we think relatively small
cats could be safely cruised, it's Mexico.
In addition to being long and light, we think a cat also needs
plenty of bridgedeck clearance - three feet is a good start -
so ocean sailing isn't ruined by waves exploding off the bottom
of the bridgedeck. These are known as 'bombs', and send salon
chairs and tables flying, and sometimes leave cat crews whimpering.
We don't know what Blair told you about sail plans, but we're
completely sold on the idea of a huge main and a tiny - and this
is important - self-tacking jib. Having sailed with such a scheme
for three years now, the idea of touching a line or picking up
a winch handle in order to tack seems positively primitive.
Deciding between daggerboards or keels is kind of like deciding
between dogs and cats, as each have their pros and cons. Daggerboards
allow you to point much higher and can be raised to perhaps allow
a cat to surf sideways in a storm. On the negative side, daggerboards
and daggerboard cases are relatively fragile. Blair had trouble
with his after hitting a coral head in Polynesia. The beauty
of keels is that you can haul out on any calm beach where there's
a good tide, they are cheaper to build, and they won't break.
But pointing ability suffers significantly. So it's simply a
matter of picking which attributes you like best. Yes, it's possible
to retrofit a catamaran with daggerboards - but only in the sense
that you can do anything to a boat if you're willing to spend
In our highly personal opinion, the least important cat quality
is a luxurious interior, because it dramatically increases the
cost and the weight, and the latter is devastating to catamaran
performance. When we settled on a budget for a cat, we found
that we could either afford a 44-footer with a beautiful and
luxurious interior, or 63-footer with simple accommodations for
12. We're glad we went for the latter because we're more interested
in speed - which as everyone warned, is addictive - and space
than we are comfort and luxury. Many other sailors - possibly
a majority - would have the reverse priorities. There's absolutely
nothing wrong with that, especially for living aboard and/or
gunkholing in places like Mexico, for which purpose such boats
would be ideal.
Headroom in the salon of a 35-footer for a guy who is 6'5"?
It's not going to happen. Figure that you need three feet for
bridgedeck clearance and a total of seven feet for headroom and
structure in the main salon - which means the top of the house
has to be 10 feet off the surface of the water. Try sketching
a cat that's one third as tall as she is long - and doesn't look
ridiculous or have a horrible amount of windage. This is not
to say that you couldn't cut out the overhead of a 35-foot cat
and install a cabriolet top for when it rains. It's been done,
but not often.
The problem with oceangoing cats of any size is that they're
not cheap. In fact, for a given amount of money, you could probably
find used monohulls that would be faster, better built and better
appointed. The lowest priced cats are white elephants that only
you see the beauty in; daycharter cats adapted for cruising;
smaller retired term charter cats, even though you have to live
with the fact they were designed more for maximum berths than
for performance; and even smaller cats which may not be as safe
or comfortable in rough ocean conditions. In many cases, the
best value in a cat might be something you pay more for in the
beginning, really enjoy while you own, and ultimately sell for
a good price. But only you can make a decision based on a combination
of your desires and your budget. Good luck.
KICKED OUT BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T SAIL
Last week we sailed out of the Berkeley Marina ahead of a guy
with a 42-ft wood boat. Evidently, the owner hadn't kept up his
end of the slip rental agreement, which required him to sail
the boat regularly or lose his slip. It seemed a waste to have
to move this boat to Sausalito and anchor out in Richardson Bay.
I believe the guy had been a liveaboard, and since he hadn't
sailed in the required 90 days, he was responsible for not pumping
his boat out, too. If that was the case, I partly agree with
them having to move out.
Are there really that many people who manage their sailing schedule
so poorly that the harbormaster can kick them out? It seems that
many people just own boats and don't sail them. If the rigging
and sails are in decent shape, maybe a small group of sailors
including myself could keep trouble at bay, so to speak, by taking
the boats out for the owners. We can be reached at (510) 531-4159.
The last point I want to make is about the letter last month
in which someone was calling on nearly every government agency
to clean up Richardson Bay. Even if this were possible, we could
not even send the boats rejected from other marinas, and it would
create a conflicting and adversarial situation in what's currently
a safe place for people who just don't give a damn anymore. I
suggest leaving the government out of places we don't want them,
so whoever wrote in last month should get a grip and realize
that there needs to be a haven for boats so they don't get caught
in a terrible set of circumstances. Shame on whoever you are,
tattletale! More government is not better government. And if
you haven't noticed, we already have too many regulations.
A Guy With A Boat That Noticed
San Francisco Bay
A.G.W.A.B.T.N. - Let us first comment
on the situation at the Berkeley Marina, which has 950 wet berths.
The BCDC (Bay Conservation and Development Commission) has given
approval that 100 of these can be used for legal liveaboards.
About 85% of these are currently filled, and the rest will be
filled shortly after a new harbormaster is hired. Al Citero,
an assistant manager at the marina, says they get "two or
three requests a week for liveaboard berths". The liveaboard
of record, who must be the owner of the boat, pays an additional
$125/month, while up to three other liveaboards must pay an additional
There are a lot of rules for legally living aboard in Berkeley.
Here is a rough outline of the major ones: The boat must be over
24 feet, in good repair and able to navigate the Central Bay
in typical conditions; it must have a holding tank for all waste
water; adjacent dock areas must be kept clean; the boat must
leave the dock at least once every 180 days; on June 30 and December
30 the owner must submit a log of the days the boat was taken
out of the marina and a log of when a pump-out station was used;
the owner must live aboard more than 50% of the time; boisterous
and loud activities are not permitted; pets that are a nuisance
are not allowed; the liveaboard must submit to drug testing every
three months. In addition, there are a bunch of other minor rules.
All right, we just snuck in the drug-testing rule to see if anyone
would notice. A source very familiar with the situation in Berkeley
says his best "wild guess" is that there are an additional
100 sneakaboards. The above is a long way of saying that, yes,
the marina has grounds for kicking out a liveaboard boat that
hasn't left the marina in 180 days or hasn't regularly used the
pump-out station. However, Citero assures us that although these
regulations are on the books, they have not been used to evict
Moving over to Richardson Bay, we don't think you were complaining
about a letter that was written to us, but rather something we
wrote in Sightings. And either we did a terrible job of expressing
ourselves or you completely misunderstood our point, for we never
mentioned anything about wanting anchor-outs kicked out. We have
Libertarian inclinations, so our basic outlook is that as long
as individuals don't harm others, the government should stay
the hell out of their lives. As such, we think that the BCDC's
illogical declaration that boats are 'Bay fill' and therefore
they (the BCDC) get to determine how many hours a week a person
can spend on their boat is far too authoritarian for us. Nonetheless,
Libertarians also believe that it's the government's responsibility
to oversee basic public safety, which means there should be reasonable
standards for things like pollution, consumer products, highways
and roads - and navigation and anchorages. As such, we think
that boats anchored in Richardson Bay should be required to meet
basic navigation, safety and anti-pollution requirements - and
then be left the hell alone. And that channels and fairways be
clearly identified and maintained. Given all the money we mariners
pay in county taxes, we think that this is the least we deserve
- along with dinghy docks, public showers, secure mooring buoys,
and perhaps a fund to help current anchor-outs bring their vessels
up to minimum standards.
Frankly, your response to Jacqueline Maupu's letter stinks. Her
point - that in comparison to the European and Asian situation,
American justice is far more responsive to injuries sustained
by individuals at the hands of large corporations - is valid.
Your biased comment that Maupu will modify her well-founded opinion
if she stays in this country long enough is hot air. You publish
a nice magazine, but should not use your position for name-calling
and bigoted rants on issues you clearly know little about. Since
Maupu wrote in reaction to a letter concerning the lack of compensation
by Exxon to an Alaskan fisherman, you may note that this month
the United States Supreme Court has rejected Exxon's request
to review the five billion dollar punitive damages it was ordered
K. - If you recall, we wrote that we
thought that the U.S. legal system was superior to the European
and Asian equivalents, but also that the American system of justice
is still an insult to anyone who values the ideals of truth and
justice. Having purchased a little 'justice' ourselves, and having
firsthand knowledge of lawyers - officers of the court, if you
will - deliberately instructing their clients to lie under oath
for financial gain - we don't believe we're as ignorant as you
suggest. Furthermore, having cited the reasons for our disgust
with the American legal system - that '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 - we think we
rated a more thoughtful response than the inarticulate suggestion
that our opinion "stinks".
Were we ranting, full of hot air and biased? One is a very small
sample, of course, but in the course of researching an article,
we just spoke with a very successful San Francisco lawyer who
has practiced law all over the world. Having never met the man,
we asked for his candid assessment of the American legal system.
"It's a complete f--king joke," he responded, "that
serves the interests of the monied classes." He further
volunteered that the system did a very poor job of dispute resolution
and left middle class people as the most vulnerable to "really
getting f--ked". He nonetheless said he loved his job because
he saw his role as "getting people out of the system."
Sure, a sailing magazine may not be the most appropriate forum
to speak out against failures and abuses in government, but we
feel a moral obligation to raise the issue from time to time.
Our apologies to those of you who see no room for improvement
or feel the general population's disenchantment is no cause for
concern. And no, we're not whining because we lost a lawsuit
or have a particular interest in how any given case turned out,
we just happen to believe in truth and justice. Anyway, back
TIME TO ORGANIZE
Westrec, with a regional office in Lodi, owns and operates marinas
in the Bay Area - including the one where I keep my boat. During
a recent friendly - if passionate, on my part, at least - conversation
with Jay, a Westrec rep, I was informed that "even two hours"
aboard my boat could constitute one full day of occupying my
boat. We non-liveaboard tenants are allowed 15 days of being
on our boats during any 30-day revolving period.
Whether he intended to say what he did, and whether he was quoting
actual Westrec policy, I'm not sure. But what is clear to me
is that it's time for boatowners everywhere to organize an association
for the purpose of permanently employing a lawyer and two part-time
assistants for the defense of our ecologically harmonious interests.
Jay also told me that "the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) is pressuring the Bay Conservation and Development Commission
(BCDC) to completely eliminate liveaboards from San Francisco
I've owned my boat for just nine months, but the friendship and
support I've gotten from the boating community has been refreshing
Peter - The BCDC doesn't need any pressuring
from the EPA, as they've wanted to eliminate liveaboards for
the last 25 years. But the BCDC has two problems. The first is
they have no policing power, and they can't get any agencies
that have it - such as the Coast Guard or the county sheriff
or police - to do their dirty work for them. Particularly not
in Richardson Bay, where we believe some anchor-outs would fight
to the death to prevent having their ever-so-humble floating
residences taken away. Secondly, as powerful as the BCDC is,
they don't quite have the political muscle to eliminate liveaboards
- especially now that housing and traffic are such major problems.
Indeed, for a number of years the BCDC has said that if marina
owners will kiss their ass just the way they like it, they can
have up to 10% liveaboards. Some marinas have taken the offer,
others haven't liked all the strings that are attached.
Whether or not Jay was serious about two hours counting as a
full day of 'boat occupation' isn't something we'd worry about.
We don't know of any marina that tracks boat usage anywhere near
that closely. If you're a friendly tenant who pays his bill on
time, keeps his boat in good shape, doesn't leave crap all over
the docks, and doesn't have an annoying pet, you're every harbormaster
and marina owner's dream. We're not sure what you mean by "ecologically
harmonious interests", but one lawyer and a couple of assistants
isn't going to be a drop in the bucket of what it would take
to get the BCDC to reverse their anti-liveaboard bent. And given
the BCDC's inability to enforce these laws for the last 25 years,
why would anyone want to waste the time and money trying?
CANCEL THAT S.A.M. ALERT
Sitting in beautiful Bora Bora, it was a little disturbing to
read the one-sided July story about the boat S.A.M. The
warning to stay away from this gentle, elderly retired couple
from South Africa - not England, as was reported - is as ridiculous
as the droll slobbering money-grubbing trolls they were made
out to be.
Over drinks on Moorea, they told us their side of the story about
what happened in Panama. After they had successfully passed through
the locks and were lying to a mooring at the Balboa YC preparing
to depart for the Galapagos and beyond, they were horrified to
watch as the boat Day by Day broadsided them in broad
daylight. The boat was on its way to pick up a pilot to transit
the Canal. The boat's bowsprit came up on their deck and through
their hard dodger with enough force to continue on and break
their mooring! The damage was not by any means minor, and it
was easy for us to see some of the remnants. Stunned at this
clever bit of yachtsmanship, the couple were even more aghast
when shortly thereafter they watched Day by Day proceed
to pick up their pilot and continue on through the Panama Canal.
S.A.M. was thus left with just their names, name of their insurance
company, and a promise that it would get settled.
The owners of Day by Day may be fine, outstanding people
with the full intent of making sure that everything gets settled
properly - but what are your options when a foreign boat in a
foreign country broadsides you in daylight while sitting at a
mooring? And then the vessel at fault leaves with only their
word that everything will get worked out? We have all heard stories
of foreign freighters, fishing boats and such hitting sailboats
and carrying on, and the resulting nightmares of trying to get
things settled after the fact. Should an incident with a yacht
be handled any differently?
The owners of S.A.M. report that luckily there was a marine
surveyor around, and on this local's advice they contacted the
Marine Court in Panama, put up a $5000 cash bond - which they
said was incredibly difficult to do - to get Day by Day
impounded until a settlement was to be reached. This as opposed
to just taking their word. Day by Day was then impounded
halfway through the Panama Canal. From this bond, $50 a day went
to a guard to make sure the boat did not leave until a surveyor
was able to assess the damage, and an award was guaranteed from
the insurance company.
So instead of the legal question of 'do you have to pay for damages
immediately' being addressed, the more appropriate questions
should be: "What are your obligations if you are at fault,
and what do you do if someone hits you and then departs?
As for the advice to stay away from S.A.M., it sure sounds
much safer to be anchored next to S.A.M. vs. being tied
up to a mooring in front of Day by Day.
Chris and Geraldine Blomfield-Brown
Tahirih, Hardin 45
Bainbridge Island, WA/French Polynesia
Chris & Geraldine - We suppose there
are two ways to view the incident, depending on how much or how
little one has faith in their fellow man. If it's true that both
of the folks on S.A.M. are lawyers,
it would be understandable to assume they saw the worst in others
and therefore felt the need to run to yet another lawyer. We,
on the other hand, prefer to look for the best in people, and
would therefore have made a much greater effort to resolve the
situation in a less adversarial manner. And that's not talk,
as we've been in the same situations before in foreign countries
and had our faith in others justified. In any event, based on
what we've heard - and we've gotten a bunch of other reports
on the event - here's why it seems to us that the S.A.M.
owners wildly overreacted:
1) Shit is going to happen when you cruise, no matter if it's
a boat T-boning yours by accident in broad daylight or two boats
on the hook swinging into each other during a midnight windshift.
If a person can't accept that there will be some unpleasantness
while cruising, they'd be better off staying home. And it's how
a person reacts to unfortunate incidents - and this was rather
minor - that define their character.
2) If the folks on Day By Day showed any signs of being
irresponsible - such as having a trashed boat, not having any
insurance, or not having a reservation at a marina in Panama
- we could have seen a reason for the S.A.M. to be paranoid.
As this wasn't the case, we think the Days were entitled
to at least a little benefit of the doubt.
3) If we'd been the Days, we would have cancelled our
Canal transit, but the assertion that they were trying to "escape"
by going through the Canal strikes us as being ridiculous. By
going through the Canal, they turn their boat over to somebody
else, they are trapped inside the Canal, and everybody knows
where they are. If they wanted to run out on their responsibility,
all they had to do was wait until dark, slip behind an outbound
ship, and in a matter of minutes they'd be on the open Pacific
free to head to Ecuador, Costa Rica or the Galapagos.
4) What really leaves us totally unimpressed is the S.A.M.
folks seem to have flipped out and immediately hired a lawyer
- thus ensuring that a mountain be made out of a relatively minor
problem. It's noteworthy that they ultimately settled with the
Days' insurance company for 40% of the amount they had
originally demanded. We're not saying there is an absolute right
way or wrong way to handle unfortunate situations such as this,
but it seems like there was plenty of room for improvement in
As a former civil engineer and proponent of common sense, I agree
with Geof Potter who contended that it would take more water
to send a small sailboat through the Panama Canal locks than
it would a large freighter. To be sure, I conducted a small test.
I used a pot to represent the lock, a block of wood to be the
sailboat, and a two-quart plastic jar almost full of water to
be the big ship. As common sense and Geof Potter could have told
you, it takes a substantially greater amount more water to raise
the block the same distance as the jar - in fact, an amount of
water approximately equal to the displacement of our 'freighter'.
I don't know if the dynamics of moving water through the locks
changes the number, but I know for sure that your explanation
- "concentrate on the concept of lifting an already floating
object another 85 feet" - does not prove the point.
Former Owner of a 20-ton Steel Sailboat
Vic - Common sense would also dictate
that your small test isn't meaningful unless it accurately reflects
what happens in the Panama Canal - and your test doesn't. Vessels
aren't lowered down into the first lock by a crane - which is
what would have to happen for displacement to have an effect
- but rather they float in at sea level.
WHAT HAS HE BEEN SMOKING
I'm not a rocket scientist, but if Craig Owings believes that
it takes as much water for a ship to go through the Panama Canal
locks as it does a small boat, I'd like him to send me a sample
of whatever he's been smoking. After all, it doesn't take a lot
of science to prove it. Put brick in small bucket and fill it
with water. Remove brick. Measure water. Go through the same
process again, but use an egg instead of a brick. Has Owings
heard of the concept of displacement? Either I'm wrong about
this - extremely unlikely - or I should start looking for my
Eduardo - Before looking for those waders,
conduct an experiment in which vessels float into a open lock
- as happens in the Canal - as opposed to coming in at sea level.
RIGHT SIDE OF BRAIN FEMALE
It takes the same amount of water for any size vessel to transit
the Panama Canal. Here's the final explanation from a certified
non-technical, right side of the brain type female - who has
to think twice about the difference between a square root and
a root canal. Think of the water in the lock as a frozen ice
cube. Think of the tanker and the El Toro as two bugs caught
in the ice. Now think of replacing the ice cube. You need a new
ice cube of exactly the same size to fill the empty space - that
is, to push the transiting vessel up to the next level - whether
the bug is a gnat or a big fat cockroach. I'm so low tech that
I can't trim sails according to curve and twist, so I just talk
to them and make sure they're happy.
Mabelle - Right answer, wrong explanation
- at least as best we can understand it. Nothing gets replaced,
but rather a lock-shaped 85-foot tall block of water is added
to float the vessels 85 feet higher than when they entered the
IT'S DIFFERENT WHEN THE VESSELS ARE
The concept that most of your readers seem to miss when considering
how much water it takes to raise a ship or a small boat in a
Panama Canal lock is that both ship and yacht must enter and
leave the lock. The water each displaces entering the lock is
replaced by an equal amount as the vessels leave. Thus the total
weight of fresh water used to raise either the ship or the El
Toro would be the same, but this is not the case when vessels
are lowered back to sea level. In this instance, the fresh water
displaced as the vessel enters the lock is replaced by seawater
as it leaves. Therefore, the total weight of fresh water used
to transit the ship from Atlantic to Pacific is less than for
WAGNER WRITES AGAIN
After writing the above letter, I conducted a little gedanken
experimenten or 'thought experiment', such as Albert Einstein
was fond of doing. It turns out that it does take exactly the
same amount of water for a ship or an El Toro to pass through
the Panama Canal. My experiment consisted of a canal three feet
above sea level with locks measuring one square foot at each
end. My ship was a one-foot cube weighing 62.4 pounds, while
my El Toro was of negligible size. It takes six cubic feet of
canal water to raise each vessel to the level of the canal and
then lower it back to the sea at the other end.
IF IT ENTERED THE LOCK ON RAILS
Thank you, thank you, editor, for being so stubborn in the ongoing
controversy about the amount of water required to get small boats
and large ships through the Panama Canal. I've been quietly sitting
by, reading the multitude of letters from the well-educated readers
who assert that a large ship will require far less water, waiting
for you to finally see the light and admit that you were wrong.
But now I realize that you were right. All the other readers
and I would have been right if the vessels entered the lock going
up or left the lock going down on rails, depending on the water
in the lock to 'launch' them. But the key point you made last
month - that the vessels are already floating when they enter
the locks - makes all the difference. For once the gates of the
locks close, the amount of water required to lift vessels will
be exactly the same no matter what size the vessel. I stand corrected
- and humbled.
An Engineer In Los Gatos
Ted - Unless you've forgotten, we also
stand corrected. For several years we've been arguing that it
was inefficient for small boats to use the Panama Canal because
they waste so much more fresh water than big ships. In fact,
we probably would have bet big money on it. Craig Owings of the
Pedro Miguel Boat Club finally set us straight, but even then
it took a long time for it to sink in. The following letter and
illustration are the last word we're going to run on the matter.
THIS IS SCARY
Well, up to now we've had a civil engineer, thankfully retired,
and a physicist, who I hope isn't working on any projects that
I might run into, both unable to visualize a simple, logical,
situation. That is scary. It shows the difference between the
ability to reason - otherwise known as I.Q. - and the mere acquisition
of knowledge. The accompanying sketch demonstrates clearly why
both the civil engineer and the physicist are wrong, and Latitude
- as usual - is correct. It always takes the same volume
of water to raise the level between low and high water because
you are raising a block of water with a vessel already in it,
not the vessel itself.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada